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Manners still matter!  Be aware of your manners, whether at a restaurant, the golf course, or sporting event. A relaxed atmosphere is not an excuse for lax manners. After all, it is not the first impression that matters; it is maintaining a favorable one throughout the life of the relationship.  With respect to Julie Andrews, just a spoon full of manners helps the message go down in the most delightful way!

“The way we do anything is the way we do everything.” – Martha Beck

No matter how well you know a client, they are always observing you.  If they were raised with dining etiquette and you grab the wrong fork, they notice. If you curse, they notice. If you drink too much, they notice. Formalities or lack thereof may not bite you the first time, eventually it will catch up with you. It may even impact your reputation within your own firm.

Ruthie Bolton said, “If you take in life just a few principles, you won’t have to carry around a suitcase full of rules.”  With that in mind, below are five simple etiquette principles for sales professionals.

  1. Respect their time. People do not have time for visitors. My clients share the overwhelming amount of emails and meetings they have on a daily basis. Keep small talk to a minimum. Thank them for their time and transition quickly to the business at hand by stating the purpose for your meeting or phone call. An appointment without a purpose is simply a visit in disguise. Every appointment should have a clear objective, even if it does not lead to a closed deal. Show up on time, every time.
  1. Listen and be engaged! When you start conversations, and listen to what people are telling you, it will catapult your business. We live in a world where people are more connected than ever before, yet they are starving for a real connection to someone and something! They need to feel valued, important and that you are genuinely interested in them.  Listen to understand instead of listening to respond. To do that, you must forget about yourself and your product completely.
  1. Bring positive energy with you! Be in control of the energy and atmosphere in every room you enter. Little things matter and are noticed, even if it is subconsciously. You dictate the kind of experience people have with you! This starts at your very first interaction. The way you dress, your handshake, eye contact and even your smile matters. Be genuine and authentic. Be bold; speak a little louder and speak clearly. When you are enthusiastic, people want to be a part of what you offer. Your image and attitude are going to be the things people associate with your business, your brand and your product.
  1. Watch your Words! Sometimes the oldest principles are still the best principles. If you don’t have anything nice to say, the polite thing to do is to say nothing. You should never speak negatively about another company, business or person. By knocking the competition, you may be insulting their past decisions and even worse, your organization and the competition may one day merge! Talking about people versus issues is simply gossip.
  1. Give recognition and appreciation. With any form of business etiquette, personalize the process by being specific to the person and situation. Express sincere gratitude and appreciation for their efforts. Give heartfelt praise for accomplishments, big and small. Celebrating achievements encourages repetitive action. Never tell the what without the why! Saying thank you for your business is an easy amenity. Telling them why you are thankful conveys sincerity in appreciation. Don’t be afraid to break out the postcards and hand written notes – in a world of emails and texts these really standout!

Everyone Sells, something I have always have always preached and continue to teach. The poem below shares my insight as to the world of selling; as it was and as we know it today.  My goal is to inspire you to look at selling as you would any other professional skill. Selling is simply persuading, influencing or even as Dan Pink puts it, “moving” people to your ideas or your way of thinking.

 

The Rebirth of a Salesman; The Sales Professional Resurrected
A Poem ©2014 by Mary Anne (Wihbey) Davis

Door-to-Door Salesman

The Door-to-Door Salesman

Once upon a time,
There was an occupation.
It was an extremely respected,
Form of vocation.
“Salesman” is what they called him,
He knocked on your door.
Selling vacuums and brushes,
And encyclopedias galore.

He walked up and down your street,
With his bibles and props,
Often carrying insurance rate books and mops.
It was a different time,
When door-to-door was the way.
They came to sell,
And we asked them to stay.

Those times were different,
For now it’s a chore,
To get to know someone,
Who comes knocking at your door.

As businesses grew,
So did the goals,
Sales managers got tougher,
At the expense of their souls.
To the sales rep they gave advice,
Like “hammer em” , “grind em”, and never take no
And therefore,
Some of those salesmen forgot to be nice.

Overtime, they were no longer welcome
Inside of our house.
We closed the blinds when we saw them,
Keeping quiet as a mouse.

We brought up our kids to be Doctors,
Lawyers and Indian Chiefs,
Never a sales rep,
For they were looked at as thieves!

And what we did not realize as the times changed
Adjustments to our communications had to be made
A select few had insight on what it would take
To survive and thrive and keep up with the times
They covered up what they did; hid it well
Never admitting to that in their success was to sell.

As we wake up today
I have come to surmise
The salesman has resurrected;
We are ALL sales reps in disguise!

Parents sell their kids on being good
Job seekers say, I am the one you should….
Even pastors and priests
Try to sell you on their beliefs!
Our belongings go on e-bay, one by one
And love?  Well, it’s match.com for some.

So, I’m here to explain
We are all in sales and it is not in vain.

Three Great Sales BooksIf you want to get better at sales, you must keep educating yourself on being a better sales person and communicator.  An easy and enjoyable way to do this is to read books.  Reading a book helps you to go deeper into new concepts, review tried and true strategies, and engage your brain.

To Sell Is Human:  The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink uses Dan’s study research in his “What We Do At Work” to validate what I have been preaching for years, “Everyone Sells”.  This book offers practical insight as to how to use the gift of communication to move people from A to B. That’s what selling is all about moving people, encouraging them to willing make a change, open up their mind to a new idea or persuading them to your way of thinking in a manner that is non combative. This is a book for every sales professional who wants to communicate better with customers!

Three Value Conversations: How to Create, Elevate, and Capture Customer Value at Every Stage of the Long-Lead Sale by Erick Peterson, Tim Riesterer, Conrad Smith, and Cheryl Geoffrion is filled with hidden gems.  This book delivers strategies on how to be engaging throughout the sales process. A key element of the book is about learning to build a buying vision and tell the story of how your product and services supports their vision. If you are looking to become a valued partner within your client organizations, this book is a must read on engagement!

The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Walsh, with Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh, is a must read for sales representatives and management leaders everywhere! This book focuses on monitoring and measuring what matters and if you do what it takes, the score will follow.  There are lots of golden nuggets throughout this book to help every professional level within your company’s sales department.

For more sales success reading suggestions, visit the Peak Performance Solutions resources for a book list.

The Sales MessengerIt is finally ready!  What is ready?  That thing several of my friends in sales have been asking me for is now available – The Sales Messenger as an audio book!  With an audio book, you can listen to the Ten Lessons for Sales Success in Your Business and Personal Lives while: driving to your sales calls, using the exercise equipment at your gym, or walking/running in your neighborhood.   Or anytime you want! Listening to this book can help you grow towards being a better sales representative as well as increasing your customer service skills.

If you are ready to buy now, you can go to Amazon to get Kindle e-book or audio book. Or go to Audible if you have an account there.  If you prefer a print book or PDF, I suggest you visit the publisher’s site to get the best pricing.

Want to know more about the book before you buy? Listen to sample audio or watch videos which include reader testimonials (you have to scroll down the page to see them) before you buy.  You may also read the reviews on Amazon from the links above.

Team ResultsWhen you can achieve accountability, it will make it much easier for the team to focus on collective results.  It may seem obvious that teams would be focused on its results. You might be thinking “What else would the team focused?” Remember, you are asking team members to put aside: their egos, personal career development, perceived job status, and individual recognition – in favor of the team’s goals.   That is the difference when we say collective results.

Patrick Lencioni says “A functional team must make the collective results of the group more important to each individual than individual members’ goals.”  Each group must identify its own measurable score card. You cannot monitor what you cannot measure.  The score card is vital in helping team members focus on the goal.

Your team members may be conflicted between their own personal goals and the team’s goals, but if they have real trust, work through healthy conflict, can show commitment to the team’s decisions, and if they are willing and able to hold one another accountable – they will be able to focus on the collective results of the team.  IT is the responsibility of the team leader to help the team members understand if they can focus on collective results, the individual results will come along.

If you found this blog post series on what a Cohesive Team is helpful and you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact us.  Peak Performance Solutions is an authorized partner and accredited facilitator for The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team.

AccountabilityNow that we understand commitment, that brings us to the next behaviors of cohesive teams, accountability.  How do you help teams to become more accountable?

First, we want to define accountability as peer-to-peer accountability. We are not talking about personal accountability—I do what I say I’m going to do. That is taking personal responsibility for doing your job.  We are talking about holding one another accountable, and that can be difficult! It can be hard to tell a team member that you think they are not pulling their weight on a project or to question their approach/process for doing a task.   It is just easier to complain to co-workers or the team leader than to follow-up with other team member with team accountability as the goal.

Plus we realize most people do not like to give or get criticism!  Even criticism that is “positive” or made into a feedback sandwich can be hard to say or to hear.  So we suggest they offer constructive feedback (how and why for improvement) instead.  Feedback is a gift to help others grow and so is accountability.   If the team’s relationships are strong and team members are vulnerable then they feel able to provide open and honest feedback to each other and are able to hold each other accountable.

Part of the key to feedback is to understand where the other person is coming from, i.e. their personality of behavioral style.  This is part of the team’s communication that is built through assessments in The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team program.  An  interesting thing about providing feedback towards accountability is the more the team members demonstrates this action, the less likely they become in needing to do it as often.  With feedback, team members will develop a habit and a mindset towards being accountable.  This builds accountability for the team as a whole as well.

Next, we will look at why results are the final layer in The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team model.

5b_commitThe conflict we discussed in earlier post often comes up in discussion of options and the decision making process for teams.  Without airing their opinions in passionate and open debate, team members will not buy in and commit to decisions, though they may feign agreement.  Healthy conflict sets the stage for commitment because people will have had the opportunity to share ideas, thoughts, and be heard.

Lots of team-building programs emphasis consensus in decision making.  Consensus is good as it builds commitment, but it is not always possible and certainly not a fast process.  It’s important to understand that commitment does not equal consensus…people can disagree but, having had healthy conflict, will have had the opportunity to share their opinions.  Cohesive teams understand that they must be able to commit even when the outcome is uncertain and not everyone initially agrees. With this understanding, all team members are more willing to commit to the team’s decisions.

Working through commitment requires not only the ability to make wise and discerning results focused decisions. It requires setting up front, team norms or standards of behavior. These norms can be set around “how we communicate”, meeting management, protocol for reaching out to team members that report to another leader and more. They will allow us to set a foundation for “how we do things around here”, eliminating conflict and confusion later on.

Next, we will look at why accountability is a layer in The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team model.

 

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