Performance Matters: What did you do last night and uncertainty.

Uncertainty. 

It can cause us everything from a bit of anxiety—that pit in our stomachs—to outright panic. But when it comes to our relationships when can feel uncertainty when we walk into a crowded room, meet a new boss, or make a sales call. And at the core of those experiences, we all want to reduce our sense of uncertainty.

So how can we lower that uncertainty quickly and build better and more productive relationships? By learning how, when, and where to ask the right questions. 

Consider this question:  What did you do last night?  It’s a simple question.  But it has a possibility of evoking a remarkable variety of emotions based on how, when, and where we ask. 

If it’s said gently to a teenager, even when we believe they’ve been up to something inappropriate, it might evoke a quiet, “not much.”  But if we ask it in the form of an accusation, WHAT DID YOU DO LAST NIGHT? it’s likely to evoke a denial, or worse, anger. And if we wake them in the middle of the night ask—no matter what tone we use—we’re only creating more uncertainty and anxiety.  But what if we phrased it this way after the teenager has slept the night, had breakfast and is wide awake?  Tell me about your evening last night?  Wouldn’t we avoid some uncertainty and have a more productive conversation?

When we’re with a prospect—particularly one who might not know us well—each us trying to lower uncertainty.  The prospect wants to know if we are competent, honest, and that our product is fairly priced and best for him.  So we might ask him, “What would you like to know about me and my company or our products?”before anything else. If you’re a sales person and want to become a trusted-advisor,reducing your prospect’s uncertainty first will allow you to offer something about your expertise, the benefits of your product, or even personal references in return.    Once we’ve done that, we can move on to ask our own questions about his business needs and do so in such a manner that inspires confidence in us as an advisor.

There’s much more to be said about asking questions and reducing uncertainty—and we know the teenager example might seem a little extreme.  But in the coming weeks, we’ll show you have you can use this technique with employees to lead more effectively, reduce stress, and improve employee engagement.

Until then….

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at http://www.psghsv.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.

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Performance Matters: Productivity and Doing Things Differently

Last week, we discussed how doing things the two or three thingswe need to do every day to move the dialtoward our goals is essential to improving our productivity.  To put it another way, if you think everything is important then nothing is important.  And if we live that way, we will never get the things accomplished we know we should.  We’ll be distracted, unfocused and living out the myth that multi-tasking actually being productive.  Prioritizing our tasks in the context of the “big three” (most important tasks) every day can be a way of doing things differently, which is what we want today.

Whether you’re a business owner, a corporate executive, or a sales person, discovering different ways to do things can make you—and your team—far more productive.  Here are a few examples.

Let’s say you have a team to lead.  Every week you probably have a meeting with them—which means you’ve taken your team away from fulfilling their responsibilities.  So you’d better have them leave knowing something that will help them be more effective.  So before you plan your next meeting, ask yourself, “What will my team or I leave with that will help them be more productive(lower risk, improve customer service, increase revenue)? Even better, challenge your teambefore the meeting to come with their own ideas about how to do so.  This will be uncomfortable for a bit, but do it anyway.  And by all means, place a time limiton your meetings and honor it.  This will insure you talk about what’s most importantand not get lost in the fog of distraction.

If you’re a salesperson, your biggest challenge may be getting in front of your prospects.  Chances are, you’re using email a lot to connect with them. But email is so easy to ignore. Sure, telephone calls can be screened, but using it seems like an almost lost art for many sales people.  So rather than use email, dial the phone.  Develop a concise scriptfor what you want to say, master it and then dial the phone.  And be sure to know how you will respond when someone tells you, “I’m happy with my current provider,” “I’m busy,” or “I’m not interested.”  And if you leave voice mails, simply say, “This is Mike Morris (or Jane, or whatever your name is!) please give me a call.”  That’s it. If people don’t know you, and you don’t over-disclose the purpose of your call, you will separate yourself from your competition, leaving the prospect curious about why you’re calling.  And you’ll be surprised about about who returns your calls.  You can always call back and leave a more detailed message.  We will talk about that next week.

The key message here is to look for things in your process and planning that aren’t working,or aren’t working as well as you believe they might.  So look for different ways to accomplish the same goals. Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again.    Isn’t that what Einstein said was the definition of in insanity?

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at www.performancestrategiesgrouponline.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.

 

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Performance Matters: Moving the Needle of Productivity

As we’ve discussed here before, we really only have four options for creating change in our world. We domoreof the things we are doing.  We can do lessof them.  We can do them better or we can do them differently. Sometimes, doing things differently can have a dramatic and immediate impact on our productivity.  But doing things differently, may only require a modest change in our approach to becoming more productive.

Many of us start out days with a simple list of things to do.  And as the day grows, we find ourselves adding to that list until it seems impossible to do them all.  Yet we just continue trying to trudge through those tasks.

Ugh.

But there’s a better way to move the dial of our own productivityand it is one that will feed our sales effectiveness, the productivity of our teams, and make us more effective leaders.  After you’ve made your list of things to do for the day, look over it and decide which two or three items move the needle in terms of gauging your success.  Then make sure do those things first.

Let’s say you’re an account exec with sales goals.  You probably have to write reports, enter data in to a CIF system, and maybe even fill out an expense report. You also have to follow up with clients, reach out to new prospects, and stay abreast of market and product matters. But what moves the needle in terms of reaching is your relationship with people, right? So every day, before you do anything else, identify and block time on your calendar for making those calls, sending those emails and seeing those people.

Once you’ve done so, list who—the most important prospects and clients—you need to talk to and what you want to accomplish before you connect.  Invest a few minutes in this kind of preparation and you will find yourself more effective in those interactions and reaching your goals more consistently.  And don’t let yourself connect with anyone other than those most important prospects and clients.

To make sure you protect this time for interactions–building relationships–with your prospects and clients, ask your team—including your boss—not to interrupt you while you’re on the phone, sending emails and working through this process.  You will be surprised how much they will appreciate your focus and how willingly they will respond if they know you will be undistracted when you do interact with your team once you’ve completed the tasks that move the dial in terms of your sales effectiveness.

Next week, we’ll talk some more about we can capitalize more on how doing things a little differently can lead to big gains in productivity!

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at www.performancestrategiesgrouponline.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305

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Performance Matters: Must be present to win & sales plateaus

Leadership & TeamworkAn Evangelical Mission

I’ve been on an evangelical mission lately, preaching the gospel of self-care for leaders and sales people.  And my message has been pretty simple.  Take care of yourself so you can take care of other people.  So what the heck does that have to do with teamwork and leadership?  If you’ve ever bought a raffle ticket stamped with “must be present to win,” you will have some idea of what I mean.

Leaders have the responsibility to care for their teams.  And they’re confronted with a seemingly endless list of needs, expectations, and questions from their teams.  And they get fatigued.  And fatigue, as Patton (I think) said, “makes cowards of us all.” Stress, fatigue, anxiety, and impatience may be symptoms you aren’t taking care of yourself.  Leadership requires your presence.  It requires your engagement.  You have to “be present” to lead. So if you want to become a better leader, make sure you are taking care of yourself.  You’ll make better decisions, be a better-problem solver, be more patient, and probably, a lot more fun to be around if you do.

 SalesBreaking Through Performance Plateaus:

If you’ve ever hit a plateau in some athletic pursuit—a race time, maximum bench press weight, or such—you know you have to change something to break through it.  Sometimes identifying “why” you can’t break through it can be the biggest challenge you face in raising your performance to the next level.  So what do you do?

Chances are you’ve settled into a routine because you’re successful enough.  You’re doing the same things over and over again and getting the same results. During December, take a couple of hours to examine your sale process from top to bottom.  Examine how you find prospects and who they are.  Take a look at how you prepare for sales call, develop proposals and deliver them. Look at the deals you lost carefully. Then ask yourself these three questions:

 

  • Am I calling on the right people or wasting precious time on people who will never become my client?
  • Am I calling on enough of the right people to break through my performance plateau?
  • Am I doing the right things in front of my prospects and clients?

 

Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at some strategies you can use to help you break through the plateaus all of face at one point another in a sales career.

 

 

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at www.performancestrategiesgrouponline.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.

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Performance Matters: Lessons from My Father & Social Media

Performance MattersWe’re listening! We’ve changed the format of week’s blog post based on some of your feedback.

 Leadership & TeamworkLessons from My Father:  Onboarding and Engagement

Of the many things I’ve learned from my father, there is one professional lesson he taught me about leading people which stands out.  People want to know three things, he said, when they join an organization.  For leadership and teams to be effective, employees must be able to answer three questions:

  • What’s job?  That seems simple enough, but making sure a team member knows exactly what they should do, how they should do it, and when they should complete whatever tasks they’ve been assigned isn’t always clear to them as we might like to believe.
  • How am I doing? In other words, they need regular feedback about the quality, timeliness, and appropriateness of the work they are doing.  And that doesn’t mean an annual performance review!  Ongoing dialogue and coaching is essential for them to continuously improve and maintain a high level of performance.
  • Does anybody care? Answering that question for an employee means making sure they know their work and their presence on your team is valued.  That can mean giving constructive feedback when someone’s performance falls short and when they are doing a great job.

So ask yourself what evidence you have that they can answer all those questions if you want to build a more effective team and be a more effective leader.  By insuring you’ve answered those three questions for your team members, you will improve their performance and insure they remain engaged.

SalesTalk to Everyone You Know2.0

In our last edition, we addressed the importance of telling everyone what you sell—not just the people you think are prospects. But what are some creative ways to do that?

First, you can use social media as a platform to highlight converting a prospect to a client.  You might post something on LinkedIn or Facebook like this?  “Celebrating providing an IT solution to a $20,000,000 manufacturer that will make them more efficient and save them time.”  This is a soft way to quickly and broadly tell your network what kind of work you do.  If the post is “Liked” by others, follow up with an email or phone call to ask them if they know anyone else you can help.

Second, you can build an email list specifically for communicating your successes as a professional sales advisor.  Without revealing confidential information, you should briefly describe the client’s unique problem, the nature of their industry, and how your efforts paid off for the client.  Be sure to include something that your contact list members will find useful, rather than just gumming up their inboxes.  This strategy can help you build both reputation as an expert and will keep people top of mind when they encounter others who might have the need for your product or service solution.  And ask them for feedback on what you’ve shared when you hear back from your audience so that you can improve the quality of those communications.

 

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at www.performancestrategiesgrouponline.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305

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Performance Matters: Behavioral Profiles, Social Networks, and Getting Buy-In

Performance Matters,so investing a few minutes every day or week in thinking strategically is essential to you and your organizations success.  Read on to stimulate that thought!

LeadershipThe Value of Behavioral Profiles and Leading Change

Almost 30 years ago I found myself in the position of leading people who didn’t seem who weren’t motivated by the same things that motivated me.  And while I don’t recall how, I was fortunate enough to land upon a behavioral profile I’ve been using ever since.  Using it has helped me continue to understand myself and other people.  But simply asking someone to complete one of these diagnostics isn’t enough to help your effectiveness as a leader.

 

Yes, you have to understand that some people are motivated by praise, others by being given increasing responsibilities, and still others by having the opportunity to analyze the details of a given problem or task.  But you have to talk about how those differences in task and people orientation, or the speed at which people operate, with everyone around you.  Such understanding can give you and others insights into their intrinsic motivations, why certain things give or diminish their energy, or even how to communicate with one another more effectively. And with that understanding you can build a culture that values people for their differences. 

 

If you are bottom-line, task oriented leader and you tend to overlook the interpersonal dimensions valued by others, you can inadvertently remove the natural motivations of those around you. So you have to learn to modify your pace, your questioning, and sometimes, even where you meet with someone. Many leaders are so busy trying to execute their tactics for success they can forget what other people value. So take a minute and give some thought to the two or three people you rely upon the most to get a job done. Ask yourself, “Am I helping or hindering their intrinsic motivation?”  For more on this topic, take a look at Daniel Pink’s work, Drive. 

 

SalesTalk to Everyone You Know

Generating prospects for your pipeline is difficult. And while most sales people understand the value of getting the endorsement of centers of influence like attorneys, accountants, and consultants, they overlook what can sometimes be the richest source of prospects in their world:  their social network.

 

If you sell something for a living, make sure everyone you know understands an ideal prospect for you.  Most of your friends, family, and professional associates want to see you succeed.  But they may not know how to do that.  So you have to be sure they know exactly what sort of product or service you offer. And you have to ask them to help you.  Not just once, but over and over again.

 

Now, I’m not suggesting you annoy the members of your network.  Obviously, you can’t invite them to help you every time you see them.  Neither can you approach this as a “one and done” sort of thing.  Your network has people who change jobs, learn new things, get married, have kids, get divorced, retire, and meet new people.  So while they may not have the ability to share a contact or make an introduction today, sometime in the future they certainly might.  So try this the next time you’re having coffee, getting a drink, or otherwise socializing with someone in your network.

 

First, ask for permission to tell them what you do. You can try “Hey, I’m not sure I’ve ever really told you about the work I do.  Do you mind if I share a couple of details?”  Once you have permission, share briefly about what you do and who you try to work with as a sales professional.   Second, tell them, “I can always use help finding new people whose lives or work I can improve by what I do.  Are there one or two people you think I should meet?”

We will talk more about this process in our next edition, so stay tuned.

TeamworkGetting Buy In

I’m not going to belabor this.  If you want buy-in, you have to let people weigh in. I know, right?  Duh? But once again, being busy means some leaders overlook this profound principle.  Here are three questions your team can answer to help you get their buy-in.

1.)  How effective do you think we are at achieving our team’s goals?

2.)  What are the three biggest obstacles to our achieving them?

3.)  What would you change to remove those obstacles if you could do so?

Team engagement isn’t complicated.  It’s actually pretty simple.  But it isn’t easy.  So be prepared to act upon their proposals for improvement or don’t ask.

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at www.performancestrategiesgrouponline.com, or call Principle Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305

 

 

 

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