Little Things, Part 4

Giving grows communities. It also grows business. We’ve talked about giving time. Giving resources is also a great habit to acquire. In my darkest financial days, my then new bride Elizabeth encouraged me to be more generous with our financial resources. It was a strange request, because, as I said, those were my darkest financial days. It didn’t seem to make sense. Having respect for Elizabeth’s wisdom, however, I tried it. What I learned was that giving changed my heart. I became more open, more compassionate, more willing to listen, more flexible. I believe that change made me more approachable and likable. People like to do business with people they like, I learned. Now is a good time to stretch our giving. Times are tough; they are particularly tough on the non-profit organizations that serve the needy and try to make our communities better. Consider digging a little deeper in your pocket this year. It may change your heart. You’ll like the change. Good...

Little Things: Part 5

Here’s another important little thing – do the excellent work promptly. While you may have many things on your desk, your client may not be able to take the next step until you’ve completed your work. Help the client move to the next project or deal. The more the client does, the more the client can use your services. Good...

Selling ASAP Thoughtware: When Salespeople Act Like a “Cookie Cutter?

Salespeople have an affinity to be trendy.  Yes, they must follow trends and infuse trends into sales strategies if the trends are judged to be relevant.  Unfortunately, and too often trends are “spotted” after it is too late to do much about them.  We have witnessed trends grounded in “trivia,” “yuppies,” “do-it-yourself,” dot.coms.  Some capitalized, but most were too late to reap the real benefits as they appeared like the last cookie to come through the cookie cutter – no different than any of the other cookies.  So, what can salespeople do to avoid “cookie cutter” strategies? Swallow pride – wonderful ideas may not be so wonderful.  Don’t let egos become so large they become impenetrable and incapable of thought. Caution — over-reaction here – salespeople must respond to changes, but which ones?  Imitative, “seat-of-the-pants” reactions rarely are effective.  Ask this question: “How can a strategy that simply imitates be viewed by customers as new and exciting”? Do homework – ask questions like “How does a trend really impact the market, my products, how I do my job?” to tailor strategies that customers will find new and exciting. Avoid complacency – be willing to make change if the homework tells you do to so.  New ideas must be continually developed to keep customers interested. Do Practice – when salespeople make changes, they should test them against how well grounded they are with respect to customers’ needs, wants, and preferences. Do not Act Like Hungry Mungry – Hungry Mungry was a boy whose appetite was so insatiable that he ate everything in sight.  He finally ate himself.  Salespeople and sales...

Selling ASAP Thoughtware: Complacency

No one likes to feel useless…obsolete.  Indeed, when someone feels useless, they sense they offer little in the way of value.   It is common for salespeople to become complacent, to continue to do the things that have worked in the past….even in the face of changing customer requirements.  Many salespeople engage in some ineffective (obsolete) activities like making too many personal sales calls when customer preferences have changed and phone or electronic contacts are desired.  The result can be an erosion of skills – obsolescence.  Here is some Selling ASAP Thoughtware to ponder concerning complacency: Don’t be fooled by those who think complacency is easy to identify.  Perhaps it is after the fact, but what about before the fact? For salespeople to identify complacency questions like these must be objectively asked and answered : 1) Has your approach changed in the last few months? 2) Are you simply repeating the past because you were successful?  Do you feel like you are becoming lethargic? Customers, too, see complacency in salespeople.  Are your customers becoming less interested in seeing you?  Do your products/services appear to be “too familiar” to your customers? During good times, many salespeople become less concerned about things like differentiating and more concerned about transactions. During good times, salespeople risk losing their brand identity as they focus on selling rather than on cultivating relationships. During down economic times, salespeople may struggle to find new business as they have not developed new programs or approaches to excite the marketplace. Success can be intoxicating.  Few marketing and sales approaches work across the board with all customers and none last forever....

Selling ASAP Thoughtware: Connections

A Sales professional’s first and most important priority is to ensure clients are well-served by the advice offered and received.  Personal connections can be as important as the product or service information salespeople offer customers – if salespeople want get the most out of relationships for their customers and themselves, personal connections need attention too.  Here is some Selling ASP Thoughtware to ponder concerning connections. “Me too.”  We tend to put ourselves on pedestals as if we are the only ones who have experienced something.  If this was true, there could be no empathy. We all have “I’ve been there” moments. We choose to stay connected.  It is a conscious decision made by salespeople, not just something that happens.  Salespeople must work at it. Ecclesiastes 4:9.  Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better.” Connections happen when we are transparent. Connections unify unlikely people. Connections give meaning and purpose. Avoid arrogance…associate with people who you can help and who can help you…they come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Don’t convert the selling situation into a format that prevents connections beyond the superficial. The art of listening is fundamental to connections.  “He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame (Proverbs 18:13). “He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Mathew 11:15). It is important to listen to words, but the speaker’s valuable message is rooted in why someone is saying what they are saying.  The why part of listening tells us about what the other person holds important. Words are triggered by emotions, judgments, needs, wants...

Selling ASAP Thoughtware: Introduction

Thoughtware is derived from technologies which are composed of three components: hardware, software, and thoughtware.  The analogy between thoughtware and software is intentional because just as software is critical in the performance of computers and must continually be upgraded, it is also true of salesperson’s thoughtware. All components must be present and operating in order for salespeople to succeed.  The thoughtware component is the array of techniques, attitudes, conceptual frameworks, and methods of approach that salespeople learn and ultimately bring to bear in their daily work activities.  It’s what makes the other stuff work. Selling ASAP Thoughtware is a program that encourages salespeople to think about the ways in which they approach, organize and apply skills on behalf of a business and its supporting systems and assets. Thought is the ancestor of all action. Salesperson thinking is the basis for everything they do and all behavior is rooted in thought. The sum of a salesperson’s thinking and their subsequent collective interaction is the mastermind of performance. Change the thoughtware to one of a relationship focus and the salesperson will change him/herself and create an unmatched capability to handle the future – whatever it is.  Thoughtware transcends change and creates a new context in which any and all strategic and tactical efforts have the optimum opportunity for success. With new thoughtware salespeople can build a customer relationship platform on which management process and change grow and renew as a naturally corollary of their thinking and interaction. Selling ASAP Thoughtware for the salesperson is the catalytic converter of information into knowledge. It doesn’t promote just another new management concept like reengineering...