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For many entrepreneurs making the sale or closing the deal can be intimidating and at times seem like an impossible task. We want to show confidence in our product, services and abilities, but we do not want to be the “always pitching”, “cheesy”, “salesy” person that we have all had the unfortunate experience of dealing with from time to time.  In my experience, the most effective way to make the sale is to drop the “sales” attitude and be authentic. My posture towards potential clients is not that I sell products and services, it is that I solve problems and know how to meet their needs. When you can explain the benefits, the sale happens naturally.

Here are four simple tips to keep in mind as you adjust your sales attitude for the upcoming year.

  1. Dust off the telephone and start making calls. Social media and other modern technology tools are highly effective ways to prospect, promote, and advertise.  The telephone is still the most powerful tool in your kit. Prospects today receive fewer calls than ever before, which is why utilizing the telephone in the right way will catapult your sales.  So planning your calls ahead of time is a must! Set aside enough time to get into a rhythm and make sure that your conversations do not seem rushed. Know your objective and make clear the purpose of your call. One of the most common mistakes people make is by trying to contact their prospects between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm. It is better to call them earlier or later than the traditional office hours. Most of the important prospects are frequently in the office early and stay late, so you have a better chance of catching them and avoiding the “gatekeepers” of you call before 8:30am or after 5:30pm.
  2. You do not have to stick to the script. While it is great to have a script to keep yourself on track and make sure you cover the main talking points, sticking to the script can do more harm than good if it is generic and sounds just like everyone else’s sales pitch. Make sure that your script is client focused and that you are only referencing it for key information.
  3. Focus on their need. The majority of clients and prospects care less about what your product or service is and more about how it solves their problems and alleviates frustrations. Ask your prospects what challenges they are facing and really listen to their response. Follow up with questions that require more than a simple yes or no answer. Then offer solutions by explaining how your product or service will benefit them, meet their need or solve their problem. When you know their needs, you can focus on them. People do not buy products, they invest in solutions.
  4. Close with choices. Rather than asking them “Is that something you are interested in?” or “Does that sound good to you?” – give your prospect a few choices. For example, when I am presenting a DiSC Workshop to a team, I ask if they would prefer a half day or a whole day or training. Or I ask if they would prefer meeting on-site or scheduling something off-site. I am much more likely to seal the deal using this approach, because in a subtle way, they have already committed.
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Teamwork DiSCIn the last post, we covered the first two team building tips on culture and communication.  Below are final three team management tips related to trust, accountability, and recognition.

Tip #3 – Build trust among team members. Success will always be limited if trust is lacking. The job of a good team leader is to cultivate a safe environment, where members feel comfortable being open and honest with the group about their weaknesses, fears and limitations.  Teambuilding activities can be incredibly effective.

The idea of activities has gotten somewhat of a bad rap, because most people hear “team-building exercise” and immediately assume they are going to be crammed in a room, thrown in an awkward and unrealistic scenario, and asked to share their deepest fear with a group of people they are forced to spend the afternoon with. However, when these exercises are done correctly and in a healthy environment, the positive results are astonishing. We have successfully been helping teams build vulnerability based trust using our program, The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, based on Patrick Lencioni’s best-selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Tip #4 – Encourage accountability. In addition to frequently checking in with your team, give them permission to check-in among themselves and hold each other accountable. This can only work when concrete expectations and timelines are set. Not only will this reinforce communication and trust between team members, it will also help to avoid pitfalls, remove obstacles and assure constant progress. This seems to be one of the most difficult tasks and when issues and timelines are not addressed, it later becomes a personal issue.  There are a lot of activities that can help team members practice accountability, including have everyone go around the room and share what they believe is their strength and their weakness as it relates to the team. Then, let the peers share their candid feedback.

Tip #5 – Recognize achievements and give sincere praise. It is a widely known fact that when you positively reinforce a desired behavior, a person is far more likely to continue repeating that behavior. Leading your team from a posture of praise for good outcomes, achievements and behaviors is far more effective than teaching them to fear negative consequences. They will feel valued by you and strive to exceed expectations. A few tips to ensure your comments are perceived as sincere. Never make a statement of praise, thanks or appreciation unless you can tell them why. Try dropping hand-written notes to your co-workers and team members.

When we ask, in many of our training sessions, if anyone has received a hand-written note from a co-worker or a boss to raise their hand, we follow it up with the question, “where is that note now?” Only about 3 in 300 have ever said they do not know or they threw it away. The rest of them say they, treasure the notes and keep them in a safe or visible place. By taking just a few moments of your time to acknowledge a person on your team and show them how much you appreciate the job they do, you will not only make their day but also reinforce the desired behavior.

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Teamwork DiSC“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”  This simple statement from the classic movie Cool Hand Luke is truer in our workplace than we want to admit.

We live in a culture where employee engagement and productivity are rapidly decreasing, while business competition, customer expectations, and new technology are on the rise. While there is no quick-fix or easy-button to transform your company, I have found that the simple solution is still the right one. A successful company or business team must have effective leadership. Now more than ever, being able to manage an effective team is vital to the success of an organization.

This post and the next will cover 5 simple tips to keep in mind when you are building and managing your team.  The first two tips contained here will be on culture and communication.  The final three tips will follow in the next post and they will be on trust, accountability, and recognition.

Tip #1 – Create a culture that celebrates individuality. Your job as a leader is to help identify each person’s unique skill set and how they can best utilize it to contribute to the success of the whole team.   The fastest way to demotivate your team is by trying to force them to fit in to an environment that does not allow them to operate in the manner most effective for them. Great leadership is not about bossing people around. It is about inspiring them and guiding them towards a common goal. You will pull leaders forward when you encourage them to believe in themselves and what they bring to the table.

Tip #2 – Communicate effectively. In order for your team to maintain a result oriented mindset, there must be an open dialogue for their ideas. People want to feel valued, heard and respected, not just prioritized.  As a leader you must be intentional with your words. If you want your team to be in alignment with your vision, you should adequately articulate information, priorities and long-term goals.  Do not shy away from the difficult conversations just because they are uncomfortable. Even when the content is unfavorable, people tend to be open and receptive when you create a safe space, speak with grace and ask for their input.

The golden rule, while well intended, does not apply to a cross cultural, cross gender, and cross generational workplace. Today it is about invoking the Platinum Rule:  Treat people and communicate with people the way they want to be communicated with.  We use Everything DiSC Workplace to change cultures. This generational tool helps bridge the gap between learning style, communication, and personality differences that can cause petty annoyances.

Please come back for tips three thru five next week.

 

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youngworkersBy 2025, millennials will account for over 75% of the global workplace.  With this fact in mind, many organizations allocate a significant amount of time and resources to finding ways to accommodate this group’s learning preferences and skill sets.  Many of us fear for the future when we think about placing all we have worked for in seemingly incapable hands of a generation whose thoughts, ideas and processes are so foreign to us. They want different things, are motivated by different incentives, and have drastically different values.

While there are clear benefits to examining trends, tactics, and behaviors in order to chart the best course of action; I suggest focusing on the many ways in which they are not so different from the rest of the workforce. The skills needed to manage a successful team have not and will not change. You may need to modify your approach a little bit but ultimately great management is individual. You just have to be willing to know and understand the members of your team on a personal basis.

Here are five simple things to remember as you master the art of effectively managing a team, even if they are millennials.

  1. Provide Feedback. You cannot avoid crucial conversations because you are too busy to provide positive feedback or to uncomfortable providing negative. Both are extremely necessary for success. Your team wants to look up to you and learn from you. According recent studies, millennials look to their direct manager as their number one source of development. However, 54% report feeling like their managers did not provide the developmental support they were looking for. People crave and respond well to thoughtful feedback. Do not shy away from an opportunity to invest in their individual success and the success of your team.
  2. Coach More Than You Manage. Be a leader who is worthy of being followed. People need to know that they are valued and that you recognize the strengths they bring to your team. While leadership and structure are necessary, people respond better when they feel you respect their ideas. The heavy hand of authority and the mindset of “command and control” are both outdated and completely ineffective. If you want your employee engagement to rise above the shockingly low 30% average, do not expect them to just silently comply with whatever directive you hand down. Encourage and inspire them. Give them permission to voice new ideas, and the freedom to solve new problems and challenges their own way.
  3. Build Relationships. I will continue to say this, because it will continue to be of the utmost importance. Building relationships and nurturing a sense of community are essential components in maintaining a successful team. Encourage socialization and group projects. This new generation of professionals enjoy preforming their tasks in a more relaxed, communal atmosphere. They thrive in settings where they are able to access and have close relationships with their superiors. Consider offering a mentoring session every few weeks as part of an incentive program.
  4. Give Them Something to Believe In. We exist in a culture where obligation has given way to choice. People search for inspiration in all aspects of their lives. The “why” matters more than the “what.” Include your team in your vision. Let them know their mission is tied to a bigger purpose and explain why their role fits intricately into the “big picture.” Passion is a much more compelling motivator than simply making a list of demands.
  5. Capitalize on Their Abilities. Preforming multiple tasks at one time is a way of life for the millennial. Talking on the phone, while composing an email and answering several instant messages is the “norm” for them. In fact, without this level of chaos, they are likely to become bored and disengaged. Instead of stifling these behaviors, encourage them to help improve networking and multitasking abilities across your organization.

To find a book suggestion for millennials entering the workforce, visit post Three Leadership Tips for Millennials and Boomers.

 

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PXT Select ReportsWhat are the ways companies try to predict success in their hiring?  From an applicant’s resume they may learn: career history, job experience, technical knowledge, and potential references.  From the interview process, they hope to understand the applicant’s: thinking style, extent of technical skills, true job knowledge, problem solving skills, and typical behavior traits.  Following this, they hope for a good selection process to match the right candidate to the correct job.

What is the company had a better way of doing interviews that could insure a better selection process?  In a previous post, you learned that PXT Select assessment could be required by each candidate for the job position.  Once multiple candidate assessments are complete, management and human resources gain access to a range of reports that can used for the selection process, as well as other purposes after the hiring is complete.  Below is a list of the PXT Select reports and what is contained in each.

 

PXT Select Position and Single Candidate Reports

Report Name Results Summary or Definition Performance Model Interview Questions or Ideal Candidate
Comprehensive Selection

 

Candidate’s Results from the assessment compared to the Performance Model Range of scores typical for success in the position, with scale and job fit interpretations Series of personalized Questions based on the candidate’s fit to the Performance Model
Performance Model (for position) Definition of each of the styles and traits Range of scores typical for success in the position Statement describing the Ideal Candidate for this position will appear for each style and trait

 

PXT Select Single Employee Reports

Report Name Definitions Feedback or Results
Individual’s Feedback Each of the styles, traits, and interests that were measured by the assessment will be defined Personalized Feedback based on results and how they should be interpreted
Individual’s Graph Each of the styles, traits, and interests that were measured by the assessment will be defined after Results Results will be summarized on scales for Thinking Style, continua for Behavioral Traits, and a ranked-order list for Interests

 

PXT Select – Multiple Placement Comparison Reports

Report Name Performance Models Candidate Fit Comparison or %Fit
Multiple Positions

(1 Candidate to Many)

Range of scores typical for success in each position Candidate’s results from the assessment compared to the Performance Models The candidate’s Overall Fit for each of the positions
Multiple Candidates

(Many to 1 Position)

Range of scores on each scale typical for success in the position Each candidate’s results from the assessment compared to the Performance Models Candidates  results for each scale are placed together for easy Comparison

 

PXT Select – Misc. Management Reports

Report Name Results Feedback Definitions, Reflection, or Action
Coaching

(1 to 1)

Assessment results are compared to the Performance Model, which show the range of score typical for success in the position Feedback personalized for the individual based on the results and how they should be interpreted Thinking Style and Behavioral Traits will be Defined following the results summary
Manager-Employee

(1 to 1)

Manager’s assessment results are compared to the employee’s on 9 different scales Personalized feedback based on how manager‘s results compare to employee’s Reflection includes quick review, questions to answer, and an action plan
Team Each team member’s assessment results placed together on 9 behavioral scales Feedback for each scale based on personal and team’s responses Team averages and personalized tips for Action planning

 

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PXT Select Assessments

Did you know that companies report that 1 in 5 of their hires was a bad hire?   That means 20% of the people hired were not a good fit for the job where they were placed.  Another survey showed that just one bad hire in a position can cost a company $17K and another says for the 6-digit annual income level, a bad hire can lose a company as much as $250K.

Is there a better way to hire the right people for the position you have open?  According to a Fast Company article it primarily comes down to pre-hire assessments and proper onboarding.  So let us start to help you with hiring by introducing a new assessment tool called PXT Select by Wiley (the company that brought us DiSC and Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team). Wiley assessment solutions empower organizations by providing them with actionable data about the people they employ now and in the future.

What is PXT Select? PXT Select™ is an online hiring assessment designed to help you select the best candidates for your organization.  It contains selection and employee assessment tools to help organizations make smarter hiring decisions.  Simply put, PXT Select can make selecting the right candidate for a job both simpler and smarter. Having the right people in the right jobs fosters a culture of happier, more engaged, and more productive employees.

PXT Select allows your organization to:

  • Fill in the gaps between a resume and interview with actionable objective data
  • Identify the most suitable candidates, streamlining an effective hiring process
  • Match candidates with jobs that fit their inherent capabilities
  • Identify opportunities to enhance performance and maximize an individual’s contribution to an organization
  • Produce several reports for management and HR use, powered by the latest in assessment technology

PXT Select will help your organization:

  • Dramatically streamline your hiring process
  • Minimize the risk of bad hires
  • Reduce turnover
  • Lower your hiring and training costs
  • Add objective, data-driven metrics to your hiring process
  • Drive noticeable improvements in your hiring results
  • Boost employee engagement

Get the most out of this hiring solution with the custom, interactive online learning platform that will provide you with fun, essential learning. If you want to experience PXT Select, you will need to contact an Authorized Partner who can help you fit the assessment power to your unique needs.

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Email

In my previous post, I provided 4 tips for composing sales emails to prospects and current clients.  This time I want to give two hints and a warning related how to send and prepare better sales emails for the purpose of prospecting to gain new business.  New business can come from existing clients as well as new leads.  See three tips for sales email Do’s and Don’ts below.

 

  1. Do separate prospect mailing list into strategic segments. In order to make the content relevant to all recipients and avoid sending very general emails, you have to segment your lists. Sending every email to every person in your contact list makes it impossible to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. General emails rarely end up anywhere but the trash bin.
  2. Do NOT assume prospects want your attachments. Due to internet crime, recipients may fear an unsolicited attachment may contain a computer virus.  Websites where marketing materials can easily be found as well as more information on your company are helpful and typically preferred attachments.   Put your company website with direct link to email topic within the body of your email.  Then repeat the website directing to home page in your signature line.
  3. Do consider technology that your prospect may be using. Recent research shows that people read their emails on mobile devices at least 50% of the time. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in email marketing is to only optimize your emails for laptops and desktops. Be mindful of smaller screens when you are including content and design. The safest option is to go with a responsive design that will cover all screen sizes from phone to iPad to larger monitors. Otherwise you are decreasing email effectiveness and may be losing a huge portion of your audience.

For 13 more email tips, check out Email Etiquette article.

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