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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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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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Email

We are all on email overload – all the time. For many of us, email is our first line of communication. Email has, in many cases, taken the place of the business letter or marketing kit. As I write this, I must confess that I have a growing number of unread emails I have yet to sift through and respond to this afternoon. Forget about spam, which is so not cool… even my ‘priority’ emails can quickly become a wasteland where information goes to die.

The same is true for my prospects. When sending them an email, I can safely assume mine is not the only one they will receive that day. Chances are they already have 1-3 emails sitting in their inbox asking them for “time to connect” or telling them about some “really great opportunity”.

Statistics show that most sales emails have a response rate of about 1%. In other words, if you send an email to 100 prospects, you most likely will only get one response back.

So, how do you make your email stand out from the crowd? How do you catch their attention? How do you make them an offer they cannot refuse?

Below are four simple tips to keep in mind as you master the art of composing a sales email that your proects cannot pass up.

  1. Subject line will matter. It needs to be intriguing, something they feel compelled to click on and open. People have little time and even less desire to open an email that is not useful to them in some way. Avoid “spammy” words like complementary, discount, and sale.  Your subject line should be personal and grab their attention. Know your prospect’s needs. Offer advice and solutions.
  2. Email body must have a purpose. Now that you have piqued their interest and they have opened your email instead of deleting it, you need to clearly state your purpose for reaching out. Whether you are trying to: warm up a cold lead, set a time to meet, or close a deal – your message should convey value and offer them something that aligns with their goals!  Less is more, so keep it short and simple. If you want to ensure that you stand out from the pack, only share clear and relevant sales content. Cramming your email full of too many details about a service or product, will only ensure it gets deleted before they have read through the entire text.
  3. Closing should finish strong. Here is where you should give them a clear path to action. The last thing they read should leave them thinking about their next step. End with just one question, one that prompts a response.
  4. Signature line is important. Do not forget to include a phone number in the contact information after your signature or name. Including your email address is a little redundant, but your phone number is a must.

For more sales email tips, come back soon for 3 Do’s and Don’ts of prospecting emails.

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leader1Below are 5 tips leaders may find helpful to increase their influence in the business world.

1.  Invoke The Platinum Rule versus the Golden Rule – Treat people as they want to be treated!

2.  Go the extra mile:

  • Do what you say you are going to do
  • Embrace the Cajun term Laniappe: “A little something extra”

3.  Do the right thing by:

  • Being consistent in your leadership and management approach
  • Recognizing you are the driver and the role is different than a passenger
  • Telling people what they need to hear versus what they want to hear

4.  Use words that invoke unity – “We” versus I or They.

5.  Practice sincerity in praise.

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leader1Here are a few tips for leaders to consider with giving statements of appreciation to employees and team members.

Understand there are 3 types of compliments:

  1. Directly given to the person
  2. Indirectly given about the person to someone else
  3. Sharing with the person through someone else

6 Tips to ensure the perception of sincerity:

  1. Don’t compliment or thank the obvious.
  2. Never compliment or thank the [what],unless you tell them the [why].
  3. Compliment and thank actions and accomplishments versus appearances.
  4. Compliment and thank everyone!
  5. Pass on compliments you hear about someone.
  6. Written compliments and thank you notes go a very long way!

 Take the Compliment Challenge! 

I agree to give ______ sincere compliments per day for _______ days. Of these, at least _____ per week will be written

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“We don’t argue with those who sell for less as they know what their product and service is worth.” – Lee Dubois

calc_file_moneyAnyone who knows me knows that I love what I do and would do it for free. Does that mean I should lower my price every time I get the price objection?  No! As a matter of fact,
that can backfire and create a perception that the product or service is not worth the value.

I recently I had an opportunity where I did not fall victim to the price war. In this example, the client knew I wanted the business. After arduously working on a proposal that met my HR contact’s business needs, timeframe and budget; the company’s purchasing department got involved. They stripped my services and then asked me for the best price as they were comparing it to others who charged less, i.e. “the shopping around objection.” So what did I do? Per their request, I stripped the add-on services and I raised the price on the main offering. The lower price in the original proposal was based on volume discount and this revision changed the numbers, disqualifying them from the previously offering pricing.

While I did not really feel the shopping around objection was valid.  I also felt if they did not value the results they have already experienced from our offerings then they should in fact go with their other option. When the third party negotiator gets involved, often purchasing, they treat programs that change lives as they do a commodity. While they may have the power to choose to have cheap toilet paper for their employees, I and others in sales must realize we offer value over price.

5 Tips on How to Sell Value over Price:

  1. Don’t undervalue your products and services. Know the value of your offerings, know your competition and create the right price point.
  2. Sell the value of your offerings. Use statements including our product offers XXX and what that means to you is……
  3. Break your total price into components, example: $X per employee versus only giving the total
  4. Deliver a piece of meat with the onion. When people see price, they often have a psychological response that says, “I don’t want to pay that.” After you lay out the price, in the written proposal or the spoken word, state what happens when they do this business with you.
  5. Identify decision makers. Ask your contacts what the process is for securing business and ask them what they need from you to help support this any other parties that may be involved in making a discerning decision.

You might ask, “Did I close the deal?” The answer is “No.” Remember, the first objection is not usually the real one. While they used the “shopping price objection,” I later learned that there were no other competitors. The purchasing manager was using this as a negotiation tactic to get me to lower my price (lower than the already built-in volume discounts) to make up for some other losses the organization incurred for projects outside the scope of my work.

So remember to do as I teach, “Know your Value, Sell your Value, and Defend your Value.”

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meetingOne of the greatest complaints from corporate executives about attending professional networking events is they feel like a target for hungry sales people and job seekers.  One client of mine will not divulge her title and avoids sharing her company name at all costs.  I invited another client to a meeting and they shared with me they received six sales calls the next day, thus to say, they never came back again.    Below are ten best practices for networking, becoming known for what you know, and having your target prospects see you as a valued resource.

10 Best Practices for Network Meetings

  1. Reciprocity is the rule. If the group is one that hosts your typical prospects, get involved and serve.  Remember, give and you shall receive – it works as simple as that. The difference is, it means you have to give your time and energy versus making a quick call to someone who you see as your prospect.  You will meet people in a servant role versus your sales role.
  2. People Watch. Look out for newcomers or introverts.  Introduce yourself to them and others.  Next meeting, they … you got it, will look for you!
  3. Connect through meaningful introductions. Become a connector and when you introduce any two people, create a little 10 second introductory commercial that states a claim about the person. As an example I was introduced recently in a networking setting as “This is Mary Anne, I describe her as the glue that holds the world together”.  She then had a nice statement about the person I was being introduced to.
  4. Do not interrupt two or more parties. If you want to join a conversation, stand behind and find a nice time or place to interject then reach out and make an introduction.
  5. Forget about yourself completely. Ask open ended questions about them, their interests and business.  You can certainly state your 30-second commercial  when asked what you do.  Be sure it is compelling.  As much as possible, keep the conversation on your prospect.
  6. People will lose your card. Networking is not about handing out cards.  I rarely carry them.   I do however ask people for cards and follow up with a signed note and my business card.
  7. Offer value versus follow up. If you learned about their interests, take notes promptly so you do not forget.  Then, instead of calling to “follow up”, send them something they might find of value including information that matches the interests or business they mentioned during your conversation.
  8. Practice networking. If you are introverted, and networking is difficult for you. Make it a point to only meet two or three people.   Twenty or more years ago, I walked into an international meeting for trainers (ATD).  Although an extrovert, I was nervous; my background is sales, these were trainers.  I was a Bostonian, these were Texans.   I got my drink (yes, they served drinks back then), and I hovered in a corner, looking for what to do next. Two women walked up to me, shook my hand and I remained friends with them for many years and am still active in that association.  They later told me, they were “practicing networking.” If they did not introduce themselves, I may not have made it back to the next meeting.
  9. Ask before you spam. Do not add people to your mailing list without their permission.  If you do, they may look at your email promotions and newsletters as spam versus the valuable content it really is.
  10. Use “by the way…” prospecting. If you do all of the above, serve with your heart, make connections to help people; you will know when the time is right to say, “By the way, could I share a bit about our business”. Or to say “By the way, I would like to have a coffee, learn more about what you do, share what I do and see if there is any way to assist one another.”  Going for the appointment without the relationship, more often than not, is a turn off.

Happy Networking!

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Call Center OperatorDo you ever procrastinate making that sales call? How often do you wish your rep’s would just “get on the phone”? Would it help to know how to make a cold call warm?

Below are two ways you can turn a cold call into a warm lead:

  • Use social connections. Understand and believe in the power of six degrees of separation.   Use LinkedIn as a resource to see who you know that may know the prospect and will be kind enough to help with an introduction.   Then utilize the personal connection with current clients by asking if they may know a person you are trying to reach inside their organization or in the company you are trying to gain as a new customer.  If they do, ask for an introduction. This takes work on your end, but you can easily turn cold calls into warm leads this way.
  • Ask for Referrals. I am amazed at how many people walk away from a satisfied customer forgetting to ask for referrals. You know this; they are the best avenue in when calling. A person is more inclined to talk to you if you have a common friend or relation than if you are a complete stranger.  I challenge you to look at your prospect list, ask yourself if you are satisfied with the number of referrals on this list.  Based on your particular business, create a Project 100 or 200.  They say the average number of people at a funeral or wedding is 250.   Build up your base of referrals to the number you feel needed to get ramped up.

For more tips on sales calls, see my article:

How to Get Appointments via Phone Calls: Five Tips for Sales Success

And/or these previous posts:

The Sales Messenger on Telephone Calling

Eliminate the Dread of the Cold Call

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calc_file_moneyI hope you did not misunderstand me on my previous post on Sales Negotiation Strategies.  Some sales and some contracts do require skilled negotiations and the ability to create a win-win outcome.   That is not the majority of the time, it is typically the minority.

Here are my five additional strategies at the time of negotiation:

  1. Know how to isolate the real objection. Sales 101, you should know this, “The first objection is rarely the real one”. Smoke out the real objection.  Example: If they ask you for a lower price or tell you they can get a lower price, use a question such as, Obviously you have a reason for asking (or stating that), do you mind if I ask what it is”.  This statement/question keeps you in a two way conversational dialogue versus haggling over price.
  2. Prior to any call, do a blueprint. Strategize what it is you want to accomplish in this meeting and plan a call strategy, a customer blueprint to gracefully leads you to that end.   Ask yourself, what do I want to accomplish in this meeting, identify the buyer’s needs, wants, buying motives, budgets, and competitive threats before or during a call.    Identify their potential objections and identify in advance what you plan to do to manage them.
  3. Be willing to walk away. Understand yours and your organization’s bottom line profit margin.  Many great companies have failed as they were not profitable. Know what you can give and know when to walk away from a deal.
  4. Do not knock the competition! Know the competition in advance, show respect for the competition, and then be sure to state some of the advantages of your products and services.
  5. And, lastly, at the time of the ask, when the real negotiations begin, watch your fighting words. “But” and “however” lead mostly to the graveyard of dead sales.  Replace your but’s with the word “and.” Once again, this simple little transition word will keep your conversation in control, but not obvious control.

Use these tips to make sure your sales representative are selling the value of a product, service or added benefit.  Help them to build skills that manage prospect objections so they do not instantly cave when asked for a lower price.

If you missed part 1, go to prior post to get the first five tips.

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