Pinnacleceo's Take

Experiences put to paper…

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

The Quest for Real Leadership and the Culture of HOPE

There is a scene in the movie “The American President” where Michael Douglas (the President) is having a heated conversation with Michael J. Fox (his domestic advisor) where Mr. Fox states “people are searching for leadership, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone!” While this movie was made in the 90’s could it apply to today?

The key word in the quote above is genuine. That means it is real, it is authentic… period. There is a great difference in real and the imitation brand of anything, particularly in leadership. Just a simple example; I remember when I purchased my first car with real leather seats. There was nothing like it. From the smell when you got in the car, to just the way they made you feel. From that point on, any imitation just would not do. Same with real leadership; once experienced, it becomes the standard.

How do you define genuine leadership? Does it display certain traits? Is there really a visible difference? I believe the answer is yes. Here are two examples of leaders I have been associated with over the past 27 years.

Those that say: This leader feeds you to the sharks. You never really know where you stand with these leader types. Words like “When I did this” or “This is how I did it” yet all you hear are their words and no actions to validate their statements. Other instructions include such things as “it’s out there now go get it!” as they point you to the edge of the plank.

Those that do: This leader will swim in the sharks with you. They dive in first! This leader not only has a conviction about what they do, they show you. There directions are “there is opportunities out there and this is how we will get it, follow me. Both these leader types create a culture inside their organizations that determine how successful or unsuccessful their team will be.

Culture is not fluff: I know this term is used a lot but it is significant. As I stated above, it determines your long term success. Your culture is not so much what you are doing but why you are doing it. People in an energetic culture get things done are more productive and positive. People in a lethargic culture are non-performing, unfocused and live for the 5:00 whistle. People who are acknowledged for great performance will always outperform those who are told they will never measure up. You know exactly what I am talking about. You have been in places where you have witnessed both. Culture can’t be hidden and it begins at the top!

A culture of HOPE: I have recently begun a very strict fitness program. I am getting older and I just need to do this. I have started tracking my efforts and while not easy, I am beginning to see results. It is amazing how one will perform to reach a goal when they are encouraged and are fortunate to live and work in a culture of hope. Hope gives you the belief in what you are doing. It keeps you on the journey. While my progress with my fitness program does not always measure up to my expectations, I continue to pursue the goal because hope keeps me going. I can see the goal and I have a reason to get there!

Early in my sales career and to this day, the driving force to get up and go to work every day is based on the hope and belief I have in what I am doing. It is validated by the people and the business opportunities I discover when HOPE takes over; AND just like my fitness program, sometimes I don’t get everything I expect but that does not change my belief in the journey because I have hope in that there are other opportunities waiting. This is the culture I live in daily. Not a guarantee but promises of opportunity, hope.

A culture of HOPE defined

  1. High in human potential: A HOPE culture realizes unconditionally that the long term success of the organization will be based on how it values its people. They are any organization’s greatest asset. Ask yourself: Do you pay as much attention to your human potential account as your bank account?
  2. Optimistic in approach: Focus on the positive in everything. From work to pursuing opportunities a HOPE culture is one that believes the next opportunity is just around the corner and that each role and responsibility make a difference. Ask yourself: Do you enjoy your work, your co-workers and are you as a leader pursuing and leading to the next great opportunity?
  3. Passionate in performance recognition: Do you truly value your team members, your staff and those who work with you and for you. A HOPE culture passionately recognizes great performance. People are much more inclined to go above and beyond when they know their efforts are noticed. No big ceremonies needed, sometimes just “nice job” or “you made it happen” will do. Ask yourself: Do I consistently recognize those around me when they do a great job or do I take their efforts for granted?
  4. Example led in leadership: As in the illustration above, people will follow you into the sharks if they believe you are genuine. A culture of HOPE is example led from the top. When others see your commitment to the cause, your example, they can’t help but follow…its real! Ask yourself: How well do I provide clear direction and then lead the way?

I believe passionately that we have great leadership potential all around us. From small organizations to huge empires, genuine leadership exists. I am convinced of this every day. There are transparent, sincere individuals among us that people are ready and willing to follow .It is my HOPE you, like me are in high pursuit to be one!

The Million Dollar Question Every Salesperson Should Ask Themselves Everyday Part 2

To begin…a quick review of our question.

“What must I do today, to see enough people favorably to share my story, convince them to do business with me, then tell others about their experience”.

Good. Let’s take a look at the last part of the question and address “share my story”. This is the time to share the compelling presentation of why I as your potential customer have to choose you! Let’s face it; you have put a lot of effort to get to this point. It would be a shame to waste it on a poor unprepared presentation…it must be compelling.

Know before you go. If I’m your prospect, what do you want me to know about you? Are you a long standing company in the community? Do you have something no one else has? Are you famous for your great service and delivery? Tell me! Make your presentation a compelling story that will intrigue your prospects to want to know more.

Perhaps the greatest compliment I have ever had regarding a training presentation has been when someone approaches me after a session and says “It is obvious you know your material” The same applies for you and your sales presentation. Before you go to that precious one-on-one time with your prospect know what you are going to say, know what materials you need (brochures, applications, demonstrations) and know what you want from your prospect and how to ask for it…a very nice segue into the next part of the question!

Convince them to do business with me: By the sheer nature of this part of the question you would think this requires great speeches using words like benefits, features, latest greatest and state of the art etc. Actually this could not be further from the truth. While I am not denying the value of the descriptive process, the less said by you at this point, the more convincing you become! What I mean is this is the time to learn about your prospect. They have heard about you now you need to learn about them. You become much more convincing to a potential customer when they know you care, really care. Once you know what matters, then you can present your features, benefits, products and services because now they are ready see what you’re about!

The final key to convincing is to ask the prospect to take action. Convincing is validating choice and asking to take action. What needs to happen for this deal to take place? What are you going to do and what are they going to do? When your prospects begin to act on your requests they are convinced of their choice and take on an entirely different identity. They are no longer prospect…they are customer!

The final part of the question “tell others about their experience” is by far the most overlooked opportunity in my opinion. People will tell others about you if you ask them to. If you have been in sales very long or if you are just beginning, you will learn that referrals are the lifeblood to your sales practice. You must have them to survive. The “tell others” comes in many shapes and sizes depending on your industry and what you are selling, but regardless of this, the concept is the same. Your new and existing customers can be your greatest source of prospects. They can provide your favorable introductions to others. Isn’t that what the million dollar question asks?

So in conclusion, let me ask you, what is the first thing you are going to ask yourself when you get to work tomorrow and the next day and the next? Your demonstrated response daily holds the key to your career. Happy Selling!

The Million Dollar Question Every Saleperson Should Ask Themselves Everyday Part 1

I’ve been in sales for 26 years now and I no matter how hard I try, there are just some things that do not and will not change. Do you, like me,  find yourself asking questions like; “Is there an easier way to do this?” or “Why is my productivity not where it should be?”. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of self-evaluation and score-keeping. We need to be aware of these things BUT as I stated in my opening sentence, no matter how hard we try to “tweak” the process, the only way to impact our practice is to accept the fact that the process to great selling has never and will never change. Because of this, there is one question, that we as professional sales people need to ask ourselves everyday.

I remember when the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” first aired and seeing individual after individual fall short or reaching the opportunity to hear the million dollar question. They never got the chance to try. Then one day, someone made it; the million dollar question. After a brief pause and a correct answer, BOOM , instant millionaire! That one question changed their life.

Okay, enough of the introduction. I think you get the point. So here it is, the question that if given the opportunity to answer and answered correctly with evidence to support your answer, will change your selling life. Ask yourself everyday…

“What must I do today, to see enough people favorably to share my story, convince them to do business with me, then tell others about their experience”.

That’s it; the million dollar question. Before you make judgments, hear me out. Let’s break this question down.

First of all, the word must is critical. This means it is not an option. It does not need to go through committee. It does not mean try or attempt. Must means it has to happen if it is going to get done.

The next critical word is today. Successful selling is a result of consistent processes. It can be very easy to justify putting off the necessary things until tomorrow, but this mentality will create a hole you might not be able to climb out of. What must I do today means the critical things to do now and everyday of your work week.

What is a “must” thing? Glad you asked. One of the most important things you must do every day is prospect. You know this. Prospecting is a result of your activity. You know this too. But is there more to it than just activity? Yes there is!

Efficient activity is the process of contacting prospects the right way. It is utilizing your resources to determine the most efficient use of your time that creates the most opportunities to gain prospects. Is the personal approach or the telephone the best method to gain a favorable introduction? Do introductory letters or emails open the door more successfully? The key to efficient activity is to determine what works best and focus your time here. This allows more time for the other “must” do part of your day, seeing enough people favorably.

To see enough people favorably…this is the most difficult task at times, getting in front of enough people that are open minded to hear what you have to say. One of the most frustrating things I deal with to this day is not having the opportunity to share my story with more prospects. I believe passionately that what I have to offer provides great value. And to my surprise not everyone feels the same way. Sound familiar? The beauty is that I have the power to do something about it in answering the part of this question “enough people”. To get to whatever this number is, I simply keep doing the right activity everyday and “go figure” more times than not “enough people” seems to take care of itself.

Favorably is a big word. Have you ever heard someone say “You’ll just be wasting your time” Well…don’t waste your time! Favorably means they are ready to learn about what you have to say and listen to your story. Favorable appointments are out there, you just have to know where to find them!

Seeing people favorably is a direct result of efficient activity but it also is impacted by who we are prospecting. Effective prospecting is the key. Answer this: What does your customer look like? Who can benefit the most from hearing your story? This is a critical part selling. This answer comes in many different forms. You may be a generalist that offers services to a wide variety of prospects. For you, your customer takes on many different looks and this is fine as long as you know what you are looking for. A specialist however, may have a more limited marketplace and therefore must really be attentive to where they are and how to approach them. Regardless of where you are, the key is to know who you can help, where you can find them and spend your time here.

Several years ago I met a man with great potential and character. He aspired to be a successful financial services agent. After a few months in the business, he was packing up shop and headed to another adventure. The interesting thing about this is that each week when the new agents shared their numbers, his activity and appointments were through the roof. The problem was that all the folks he was prospecting did not have the need for what he offered nor the wherewithal to pay for it. As a result, his prospecting efforts though valiant, led to the demise of his sales practice. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that we should not help people in need, but from a business perspective, you must be working in markets that have a need for what you offer, have the ability to pay and will see you on a favorable basis. This is the definition of effective prospecting. Spending time outside this scope can cost you time and money and even your career.

So there you have the first part of the million dollar question. In my next blog, we will look at “share my story and convince them to do business with me and tell others about their experience”. Didn’t want to give you all of it at one time, you might not read it all and besides…I want you to come back.

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