How To Improve Sales Listening Skills

1. Be Present & Stay Focused. Stop thinking about what you are going to say next and focus on what the speaker is telling you. Be curious and ask follow up questions to learn more about what they are telling you.
2. Pause Before You Respond. Take 2 full breaths before responding. It will ensure the speaker is finished and give them space to share more. It will also help you control the amount of talking you are doing.
3. Refocus If Your Mind Wanders. If you start thinking about your next meeting, travel plans, or what you have planned for the evening, bring yourself back to the moment.
4. Summarize & Bottom Line The Key Points. Play back to the speaker the key items you are hearing to ensure you are capturing the essence of what is being relayed to you. Make sure to take notes of these key items so you can revisit them as needed later in the meeting.
5. Focus On Listening & Understanding Versus Judging & Opinion. It is natural to want to share your 2 cents right away, or to be making judgments in your mind about what you are hearing. However, that is not focused listening. Stop yourself from doing this by placing your attention on learning, listening, and understanding. Ask open ended questions that begin with “What” to stay focused on listening and understanding.
6. Use Your Intuition. Whether you are on the phone or in person, you should be listening not only with your ears, but with your intuition as well. Notice the speaker’s breathing, tone, pace, and energy. There is a lot of information to be gathered and the more you pay attention to your intuition, the more effective your listening will be.
7. Never Talk Over Anyone. If the speaker is talking, simply wait your turn. Do not try to interject, and if you do, catch yourself, and say, “Sorry, please carry on…”

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Why is good photography expensive?

Why is good photography expensive?

If you’ve ever worked with a good photographer, then you’ve learned that good photography is expensive.
Why is it?
Because good photography is not easy.
The photographer might make it look so. They might not seem stressed or even like they are having fun, but don’t confuse expertise with ease. They are not the same thing.
And the truth is, bad photography is more expensive than good photography.
Bad photography wastes time, money and memories. Whether you’re getting pictures of your baby or your wedding, imagine the cost of trying to do that again if you don’t like the photos. You might be able to have another perfectly peaceful moment with your baby but no one in the history of mankind has spent money redoing their wedding because their photography was lame.
Good stuff is expensive.
It should be.
If you don’t believe me, go take your own photos first.
baby

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How To Shorten Your Sales Work Week

Businessman meditate in front of his laptop

“One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” – Bruce Lee

  1. Cut Back Your Hours. Schedule how long you will work each day and in a given week. You will be forced to get things done faster and will notice an increase in sales productivity. To help ensure you leave at 5:00 pm, if that is your cut off time, is to make sure you have commitments after 5:00 pm. Have a recurring event to be working out at 5:30 pm each day with your workout partner, or to be home for dinner by a certain time, whatever it is, stick with it.
  2. Work From A Virtual Office. The key here is to set rigid boundaries and to minimize distractions while working at home. You will save on commute time and save your company money, however, you will actually be tempted to work even more hours being at home, so you must stick with #1 above or this will not work.
  3. Schedule Times To Check Your Emails & Voicemails. This will help you to increase your sales productivity because you will have less distractions and be able to focus more. Remember, you don’t have to be available every minute and second of the day…In fact, that just will slow you down.
  4. Laser Focus. If you truly are committed to working less, then get more efficient at getting things done. This means you must shut off all distractions and focus on one thing at a time before you start the next task.
  5. Set Time Blocks. Ever notice how tasks tend to fill up the time that you make available for them to be completed? Knowing this, limit the amount of time you have to complete sales tasks and you will get them done faster.
  6. Accomplish The Big Tasks. The most critical sales tasks are the ones that give you the biggest return. Focus your time, energy, and effort on sales activities that will help you attain your goals.
  7. Delegate As Much As Possible. Get as many tasks off of your desk as possible so you can focus on the ones that really count. You probably have more resources than you even know are available to you at your organization and you must leverage these to be a #1 sales performer.
  8. Reduce Unnecessary Meetings. This is an especially important tip for sales managers. Go through your calender and find any recurring meetings that are not as productive as when they were first initiated. Consider removing them, or cutting the time for the meeting in half.
  9. Shut Off Your Internet. Spend less time being distracted and surfing the web. There is always something new to read, a new email or a social media profile at your finger tips waiting to take you off track. One of the best things you can do when you are working on your biggest tasks is to disconnect from the internet or turn off your computer.
  10. Find A New Sales Gig. Does your current sales position not give you the flexibility to implement these tips to shorten your week? Then, it might be time to consider exploring what else is out there. If you have sales skills with a proven track record of success, there are many great opportunities for you.

Decide to shorten your hours now and make a commitment to yourself. This can be one of the best things you will ever do.

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How To Be Productive Working At Home

productivity-working-at-home

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
~ Benjamin Franklin

  1. Shower, get dressed, and eat breakfast.
  2. Set your work hours. If you don’t set hours, you will risk sacrificing the balance between work and life.
  3. Create a room that is dedicated for work only. It is essential you separate your work from your home life so that when you enter your home office, you know what you are there to do, work. It will help you change your mindset from, “I’m working at home” to “I’m at work.”

Tell your friends and family exactly what the room is for, and that even though you are in the house/apartment/condo, you are at work when in that office.

  1. Close your office door. This will help remind you, and anyone else who may be at your home, that you are at work.
  2. Clear your desk. Only keep what you need on your desk. The less distractions, the better.
  3. Disconnect. Turn off your phones, IM, and email alerts when you need to focus on a task. This will not always apply, but try it out for certain tasks and see how it works for you.
  4. Don’t quit. If you are having a rough day, it will be tempting to go find something else to do. Train yourself to work anyway.
  5. Take breaks. Block out 15 minutes multiple times per day for a break… go for a walk/run, or meditate. Your focus and productivity will increase.
  6. Drink water and eat multiple times per day. Your brain is made up of about 85% water and you need water to stay alert, focused, and productive. To keep your energy levels and productivity at the highest levels, eat 5-7 smaller meals per day instead of 3 large meals. Plan ahead to make this happen. Also, be sure to eat some protein with each meal.
  7. Give thanks! Be grateful you are able to work from home and don’t have a commute everyday. Use that gratitude to help drive you to work harder and stay on task!

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Five Key Points to Succeed in Sales

1. Allow your prospects and clients to discover their real issue.

  • If they could bring you the problem, they wouldn’t have a problem. Identifying the real problem is the value a sales professional brings to the table for the prospect.
  • Never answer a question right away, always answer a question with a question to get to the real pain that the prospect is going through.
  • Don’t assume. Be skeptical and curious, ask yourself, what’s really going on here???

2. Understand the hard evidence, the real impact, the comprehensive situation, and true limitations involved for your prospect.

  • Get to the heart of the matter by asking effective questions.
  • Understand the scale of the situation and real consequences involved.
  • Understand the situation from multiple stakeholders point of view.
  • Find out what’s stopped them from resolving this before now (constraints).

3. Deal with wishy washy concerns or comments

  • If you hear something that doesn’t make sense, say so in a nurturing manner.
  • Stay focused on helping the prospect understand the true nature, scale, and severity of the situation, help them make a good decision.
  • Help the prospect understand that indecision is not the only option.

4. Present your solution within the context of their situation

  • Don’t present a solution until you come to an agreement on what the problem is.
  • Ask what a good resolution for them would be – from their perspective.
  • If your solution is not an exact fit, offer it as a different take on the problem.

5. Grow the results.

  • Deliver big, then ask for a referral, not the other way around.
  • Seek feedback, from all parties involved, win or loss.
  • Always seek a yes or no, do not accept maybe’s unless there is a understood path to a decision.

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How to Launch a New Sales Hire

How do you find, recruit, and hire proven, experienced sales professionals and set them up to win? Most sales managers I’ve spoken with over the past 20 years have the problem of searching, interviewing, and finally hiring a superstar performer only to have that individual produce lackluster results and leave the company within 1 to 3 years.

The truth is, the best sales professionals must be the best at what they do, and it’s in their nature to win. So if they are not winning, if they are struggling to grow in your company’s environment, they will normally pull their roots and move to a more fertile environment.

So how do successful CEO’s and sales managers do it? What do successful hiring managers do that others don’t?

One answer I’ve witnessed and heard over-and-over again is this; they provide their new sales pro’s the opportunity for some “Quick Wins!”

“Quick” may be within the first couple weeks or months depending on your business. But there is a critical need to support new sales professionals on your team by helping them, even “shoe-horning” them into a deal as quickly as possible. Here are a few reasons why quick wins are critical;

  1. Early success will flush out any doubts of the hires potential and commitment to you and your company.
  2. Builds and assures team integration and camaraderie. Individuals are more committed to a group of friends.
  3. Solidifies the support of the new hires spouse and family members.
  4. Puts some money in their pocket and may create the “golden handcuff” effect. It’s tough to leave a good situation. And, it’s easier to commit to a career and financial objective that feels within reach.
  5. And, the full sales-cycle experience, turning a prospect into a client, is the best way to understand the ins and outs of your business and what it takes to succeed. Their new perspective will be beneficial to the company.

So how do successful sales managers help create quick wins for their new sales hires?

Beyond the obvious HR set-up and basic product or service training, the most powerful method I’ve experienced as a sales manager, as a CEO, and as an Executive Search Consultant is by employing sales coaching and lead generation support for the newly hired individual during the first few weeks or months on the job. Specifically, this lead generation partnership allows the new hire to leverage expertise in building, or fine-tuning the contact database, creating strategic account plans, making referral calls and cold calls to build a lead nurturing program as well as set-up initial appointments within the first few weeks on the job.

This strategy works well for highly paid, experienced sales hires versus more junior sales hires since the more experienced hire can quickly ramp-up to handle the selling situation they are thrown into. The experienced sales hire understands the buyer-seller relationship, how to qualify, find the prospects pain, qualify the budget and decision process, and present your solution. If they are asked to work a pipeline of qualified buyers, they get excited and jump in with the tools necessary to win.

One of the toughest challenges in business is finding and hiring a star performer in the first place. And the reason is that most top sales performers are making money, on track, and admired by their colleagues. So why do they jump ship for a new company? Most of the time it’s due to the promise of a substantial long-term career growth opportunity and a short-term bridge to success. Establishing a sales coach and lead generation consultant to support that short-term success is a proven way to convince a star performer to join your firm and commit to the organizations success.

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Two Words

Who knew that two simple words could change one’s mindset, perspective and approach to work and life?

Just two words have the potential to enhance joy, productivity, performance and change a complaining voice to an appreciative heart.

So often we say things like, “I have to take the kids to practice.” “I have to go to this meeting.” “I have to finish this project.” “I have to go to work today.” “I have to take care of this customer.” “I have to share this new information with my team.” “I have to see my family this weekend.”

We act as if we don’t have a choice. As if we are imprisoned by a paycheck and the expectations of a world that forces us to do things we don’t want to do.

But in reality we do have a choice. We can choose our attitude and our actions. We can choose how we view our life and work. We can realize that every day is a gift. It’s not about what we have to do. It’s about what we get to do.

We get to live this life while so many have left this world far too early. We get to drive in traffic while so many are too sick to drive a car. We get to go to a job while so many are unemployed. We get to raise our children even if they drive us nuts at times.

We get to interact with our employees and customers and make a difference in their life. We get to use our gifts and talents to make a product or provide a service. We get to eat three meals a day while millions of people are starving.

We get to work on projects, answer phone calls, serve customers, participate in meetings, design, create, share, sell, lead and suit up every day for the game of life.

Yes there will be challenges and life isn’t easy but each day we wake up we get another opportunity to make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.

We get to uplift, inspire, encourage, and impact others. We get to live this life. Let’s make the most of it by remembering that your life is a gift not an obligation.

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