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  • The Two Biggest Scheduling Mistakes That Ruin Productivity – Part 1

    Guest Post By: Kitty BarrowThe-Two-Biggest-Scheduling-Mistakes-That-Ruin-Productivity-Part-1

    Today I was working with an amazing coaching client who is a 23-year veteran salesman and sales leader. This client is in the top 10 in the world when it comes to personal and team production, but lately, he hasn’t had the time to make his prospecting dials. He mentioned he has been spending a lot of time working on his leadership skills and his team and every time he does this, his sales seem to suffer. This is a common complaint of Producing Sales Managers, isn’t it?

    My client had plenty of hours of ‘dial time’ written in the schedule that he preplanned, so I was curious why ‘dial time’ wasn’t happening.

    He also admitted that as different things came across his desk he would stop what he was doing to focus on those things, letting them distract him.

    After truly analyzing his schedule, I noticed two mistakes that many coaching clients make that can throw off our schedule, cause a lot of stress, and ruin our productivity if not corrected.

    What’s crazy is these two things are SO SIMPLE to correct, yet so EASY to forget.

    The solutions for these mistakes are simple, but I can’t stress enough how easy it is to overlook them. So, I am going to give each mistake its due diligence. We will only be covering the first mistake in this blog post, and I will share the second mistake in a later post.

    The first mistake my client was making is that his schedule wasn’t ‘real’.

    This happens often with people. They plan out their week so that it looks ‘perfect’ but there is little to no room for reality. There are always unforeseeable things that will happen during the week, but some things are often just missing from schedules. Things like:

    Drive time

    Many of my clients must be Star Trek fans and have a relationship with Scottie.

    Email time

    It’s always fun to pretend that we never have to answer emails.

    Emergencies

    Unless you sell pacemakers, there aren’t too many TRUE emergencies in business that can’t wait at least 2 hours to be handled. We all like to live in a dream world where everyone else in the office always solves their own problems and never need to come to us for help, that dream world has yet to exist.

    Paperwork

    While we should be delegating as much as possible to another personality type who really loves to do paperwork, we can’t pretend that we will never need to do any paperwork yet so many of my clients never have time built in their schedule for this.

    If you are planning out your schedule every week but you find yourself consistently unable to follow it, then it is time to really analyze your schedule. Compare your actual work week to your schedule and look for things that are throwing you off-schedule. Once you have located those troublesome tasks you need to plan for it in your next week’s schedule or you need to ‘eliminate, automate or delegate’* it to someone else. (*verbiage from Rory Vaden’s book, ‘Procrastinate on Purpose’)

    See, a simple fix. You have to make sure you are accounting for those maintenance tasks that are so essential to keeping all the wheels turning, without sacrificing the crucial production time. Planning for these tasks will allow your production to be free from distractions which in turn makes for a very productive day.

     

    Kitty Barrow is a Senior Partner and Executive Sales and Leadership Coach of Southwestern Consulting. She specializes in creating successful systems that are easily duplicated. Her motto is “Keep Things Simple for Stress-less Selling.” Kitty has trained thousands of sales professionals in companies such as Wells Fargo, MassMutual, New York Life, Xerox Global and Allstate


  • Think Backwards: The Key to Getting What You Want

    Guest Post By: Emmie Brown

    backward_clock

    On a coaching call, my client told me she wanted to sell ten million dollars in business. I said, “Great! How do you plan on doing that?” She replied, “I really believe in myself, I know that I can do it I just know that with confidence I can hit my goal.”

    So I asked again, “How are you going to hit your goal?” She said: “I have made a vision board, and I’ve been focusing on it. It will help me hit my goal. I’m going to work harder than I ever have!”

    Again, “How?” She knew what she wanted. Without knowing how you are going to hit your goals, you can easily set yourself up to fail.

    In order to really move your business forward, sometimes you need to do a little backwards thinking.

    In every business it takes a certain number of dials to make a certain number of contacts, to set a certain number of appointments, to have a certain number of presentations, to have a certain number of sales. Your business might be a little bit different in terminology, or the process might be slightly shorter or slightly longer. One thing we all know is that every business follows a sales cycle.

    First, we have to track our numbers.  We need this information so we are aware of how many dials it takes to get someone on the phone. That’s our dial to contact ratio.

    We have to know things like how many contacts it takes to set an appointment.

    We have to know how many of our appointments actually stick and turn into presentations.

    Out of those presentations, what’s our closing percentage?

    How many of those turn into sales, and what is our average package size?

    Once you know those numbers then you can do some backwards thinking. Start with the goal you want to hit.

    Let’s say you’re like my client and want to sell $10 million in business. In order to get there, you need to take your average package size/sale size and figure out how many sales you need to make. The next thing you do is take your closing percentage and figure out how many presentations you need to run in order to have that many customers. Then you back end it out and figure out how many appointments you need to set based on your appointments set-to kept ratio. Then figure out how many contacts you need to make, and ultimately how many dials you need to make.

    Once you know how many dials, contacts, appointments set, and appointments ran you need, that is where you put your focus, not on the results.

    So many of us focus on the results. If we focus on the results that pressure builds up and we lose focus on the activity that is going to lead to the result. Consequently, we don’t achieve the result.

    Instead, you should almost forget about the revenue, the goal, and the money, and focus on the activity. When the activity is there, the results will follow. The results are a natural by-product of the activity.

    If you want to hit your goal, you have to think backwards!

    Write down how you’ll work backwards, let me know what you come up with!

    Emmie Brown is an executive level coach and an expert in the Psychology of Scripting. Emmie started her career with The Southwestern Company as a student intern at the University of North Carolina. She continued to work with Southwestern over the next 10 years as a top producing sales manager until joining Southwestern Consulting in 2009. Emmie has spent the last 4 years traveling the country as a professional sales trainer, executive coach and business consultant with Southwestern Consulting and the Success Starts Now! conference series. She is also the author of the audio series Talk Less, Sell More and a breakout presenter at the Success Starts Now! sales training conference.


  • Why Do We Have a Hard Time Giving?

    Guest Post By: Rory Vaden

    charityWho Gives?

    70% of people admit to giving less than 10% of their income. That’s what a recent poll of more than 3500 people conducted by our team at the Center for the Study of Self-Discipline reported. With America being one of the richest countries in the world, it leaves you wondering, “Why do we have such a hard time giving?”

    Our study didn’t attempt to understand that part of the human psyche and so I can’t speak for anyone else. I can certainly say for myself, though, that during the times in my life when I struggled with giving it has been out of a sense of lack.

    There were times that I didn’t feel I could give because I was scared that I wouldn’t then have enough for me and my family – it was a lack of Faith. There were other times that I didn’t give just because I didn’t feel a strong connection to the opportunity in front of me – it was a lack of empathy. Lots of times I didn’t give just because I had a hard time making time for figuring out what I should give to – it was a lack of priority.

    For me, my struggle with giving changed from an unexpected encounter…

    I once had the honor of watching the late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones be awarded a lifetime achievement award for how much money he had donated. During his acceptance speech, he told a story of a young boy who was watching his mother pay bills. The little boy asked, “Mom, what are you doing?” She replied, “Well honey, I am paying bills- which means I am writing checks to pay money for the work that other people have done for me.”

    Suddenly the little boy had an idea! That day he worked extra hard around the house and slipped a note under his mom’s bedroom door at night. When she woke up the next morning she saw this piece of paper, which said “BILL” at the top. Underneath it said “Taking out the trash – $5. Doing the Dishes – $10. Cleaning up my room – $20. Total Amount Due – $35.” That day the mom paid the young boy $35 in cash.

    However, the next morning the little boy woke up and saw a piece of paper under his door. At the top it was marked “BILL.” Underneath it said, “Cooking for you every day that you’ve been alive – $5000. All the clothes you’ve ever worn – $10,000. Changing all of your diapers and cleaning up after your entire childhood – $20,000.”

    The only difference was at the very bottom it said “Total Amount Due – $0. Paid in full by the love that you give me each and every day.”

    After the story, Charlie said something I’ll never forget that changed my life and my outlook on giving forever. He addressed this room of 3000 people and said “You see friends, if there is one thing I’ve learned in this life it’s that I never really give anything…every once in a while I simply get a chance to pay back a little bit of all that I owe.”

    People who give abundantly, don’t give out of extraordinary excess. They don’t give out of an expectation of receiving something in return. And they don’t give out of obligation. The most generous givers simply give out of thankfulness for all that’s been given to them.

    This Christmas season, give joyously and out of thankfulness for all that has been given to you. Merry Christmas.


  • Teamwork

    Guest Post By: Gary Michels

     

    blueangels
    When I think of the ultimate in teamwork, I think of the Blue Angels flight team.  These pilots must be not only perfect but also precise in their daily performances.   They do this not only entertain, but to stay alive.  They raise the bar in a multitude of ways.  Their passion for what they do along with the amount of preparation and dedication to being the best is remarkable.  Regarding teamwork, when it is at its best, amazing standards are being set daily.  What level do you think your team is currently operating?  I am referring to the team you work with, and perhaps your family unit as well? Where do you and your team and need to raise the bar?  What areas do you think need the most improvement?
    Below you will find a few common characteristics seen in teams that work well together and achieve significant successes, both together and as individuals.

    teamwork

    Teams that rock, or are wildly successful, tend to share certain common values.  I find these teams typically have very focused goals along with a passion for succeeding.  You can ask any member of that team what is the focus of their team.  Each member of the team will know the main goal and they will all answer in a similar fashion. These teammates are so committed to their shared goals and success that they will put the success of the team first and be willing to make personal sacrifices in order to help the team.  One person on the team may purposefully take a back seat for a short while and let another teammate succeed.  They realize that a short-term sacrifice of glory and ego, today will help the entire team in the long run.

    When you are a part of a top team, teamwork is not something you only do part time. You live your life by doing what is best for the team.   I like to teach the concept of either/and instead of either/or. Top leaders of top teams must have a team first attitude and mentality.  Also, they must make sure they are performing at their very best.  When you are at your very best, in most cases you are helping the team as well.

    Top teams tend to consist of several leaders, leaders that are confident and skilled enough to walk the talk, not just talk the talk. In all areas both personal and professional you will see top teams whose leaders lead by example and set the pace. They are proactive, rather than reactive and plan on winning no matter what.

    Yet another part of teamwork to be aware of is trust.  Teams that have a great chemistry also have amazing trust for one another.  This comes from amazing communication amongst the team.  Often teammates will carve out  time to communicate when challenges arise.  Typically the type of situations that may threaten the bond and success of their team.  Often, trust is broken when communication is poor.  People who want to grow their teamwork skills must make good communication a priority.

    Teams that succeed are the teams that prepare the most. They often work harder and more diligently than anyone would imagine. Whether its additional hours of work in order to prepare, or tenacious effort during the hours of preparation, strong teams do the work. Ask yourself this question: Does your team put, less, the same, or more work when preparing for success than the average team?  The answer probably lies in your results.  If your team isn’t where you want it to be, it is because you need to work on becoming more prepared.

    Lastly, great teams have great attitudes. Attitude stems from what and how teammates talk to themselves when no one else is around.  They have clear affirmations and the words they said whether to themselves or to their team.  Of course, things happen in life and having a good attitude and good self-talk can help everyone bounce back fast from the challenges one may experience.

    You don’t see winners walking around defeated and down.  It’s because they have mastered the self – talk and attitude skill set.

    What type of team do you want to build? When do you want to start? What are you and your teams biggest growth areas to Turn It Up A Notch in your teamwork abilities?

     

    Gary Michels is a co-founder of Southwestern Consulting. He is a keynote speaker, sales trainer and business consultant and has motivated nearly 1,000,000 people to achieve their highest potential nationwide. Gary spent 19 successful years as a sales representative for a national fund-raising company.


  • Permission to Proceed

    Guest Post By: Dave Brown

    Screen-Shot-2016-04-26-at-10.17.31-AMThis is something that is overlooked quite a bit. It’s one that I take the time to really look at this when I’m helping other people grow in prospecting.

    You know when you’re having that rocky conversation with someone at first. You haven’t had a chance to set up that cadence. You may be talking over each other, or have long awkward pauses, it’s really just no fun at all. Are you looking for a solution for that? Here it is…

    Ask for permission to proceed!

    Literally, you ask them to grant you permission to proceed in the conversation on your phone call. Right up front, after you’ve done the names and connected, and you’re about to give the prospecting buying atmosphere, you have to have this question in there. It’s basically asking for a specified amount of time, and you get them to confirm they are able to give you that time so they are open and receptive with you.

    Example, “Hey John, this is Dave, I’ve been doing some work with Beth over at Zee Company. They’ve been doing a lot of great things, so I just wanted to run this by you. It’s a good one, do you have a few minutes?”

    Connect with the names, ask to run something by them, confirm some time, then go right in to your prospecting and buying atmosphere.

    Some more ways to ask, “Can you talk for 3 minutes? Did I catch you at a good time to run something by you? Do you have like 97 seconds for this? Are you ready for my audition?”

    Whatever it may be, get creative, just ask for that time. It may be 5 minutes, it may be 2, but let them grant you permission to proceed. Don’t look by this, and when they try to speed you up, that is when you ask to confirm a few minutes. Come up with your special way to get prospects to allow you to spend time with them.

    The more you prospect the more you realize the short term hurt turns in to the long term easy. It’s going to hurt a little each day while you are prospecting, but it will get better as you constantly do it and turn it in to a long term easy.

    Go get it today! Set some appointments and prospect your heart out!

    Comment here, tweet me, or connect with me on Linkedin and let me know!

     

    Dave Brown is a senior partner and executive level coach at Southwestern Consulting and author of the upcoming book Painless Prospecting. Dave was a record breaking salesman for Southwestern Advantage, knocking on over 50,000 doors before the age of 25. He has spoken and trained over 100,000 sales professionals across the globe with Southwestern Consulting.


  • Embedding Behavioral Change – Maximizing ROI on Your Development Initiatives

    Guest Post By: Alan Morton

     

    16.09.02-Tree-Can-anybody-hear-meeeee_V2Question: If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to see it does it make a sound?

    Frankly who cares! Of more importance is the question: if you invest in training your people and there is no observational coaching to support it being embedded and habitualized, will there be any ROI? I think we can agree that the answer is: probably not.

    In a previous blog post (The power of Consequence for Sales and Service), I referenced a live customer example that had been sent to me by a manager who had observed a specific behavior being implemented by one of his team. I loved receiving that message because it told me that the right things were happening to embed learning. People were being watched and coached and, critically, they were catching things that were being done correctly by team members as specified by a clearly defined behavioral framework.

    So many of the projects that I have been working on with clients looking to address challenges like decreasing revenues, poor rep attainment, high churn, poor customer satisfaction scores have resulted in SBR Consulting working with the client to develop a coaching capability and culture where prior to that a vacuum had existed where inspirational leadership should have been in place.

    I am combining coaching and inspirational leadership here intentionally as people aren’t inspired by leaders who sit behind their desks playing with figures and data. People are inspired by leaders who get out of their offices and into live customer situations and who are able to let their ego go and give their people the opportunity to lead meetings so that they can provide constructive feedback that helps them to grow.

    Call to action:

    • Have you identified the behaviors that your best people employ to drive success ?
    • Are you using that framework as the basis to observe your people in order to catch them doing things right and provide them with insight into 2-3 things that they could be doing to move from good to great?

    Research shows that when training is complemented by in-field coaching and reinforcement, productivity is quadrupled, from 22% to 88% citing the Corporate Executive Board.

     

    Alan Morton started off in sales simply to fund his postgraduate education but he quickly realized that the challenge and intricacies involved in achieving success at the highest levels of professional selling had him hooked. 15 years into a career that has involved selling, leading sales teams and developing organizations in the US and across Europe Alan is passionate about continuing to hone and develop the habits of a high performer in himself and in others. He works closely with organizations across industry, but with a particular focus in the IT, engineering and finance sectors helping them to drive revenues and develop high-performance sales cultures.


  • 5 Practices that will Make You a More Grateful and Happy Person

    Guest Post By: Rory Vaden

    Living-a-happier-lifeWe think of gratefulness as a soft skill, but I am very convinced that it is as tangible, practical, and pragmatic as learning to balance a checkbook or lift a set of weights.

    In fact…

    What working out is to looking good…

    and

    What balancing your checkbook is to being rich…

    is exactly

    What being grateful is to feeling happy.

    Learning to do the disciplined work of counting your blessings is the necessary and required skill for you to feel happy.And when you are counting blessings you will be happy because you are thinking about all that has been given to you instead of all that you don’t have.

    Here are 5 daily practices that will help you strengthen your “gratitude muscle” which will lead to a happy heart:

    1.     Choose to say thank you first thing in the morning – If you aren’t consciously thinking about the good things in your life, then you will often unconsciously start thinking about the challenging things. And the battle for your mind starts the first second that alarm clock goes off. I challenge you to make the VERY FIRST THOUGHT in your mind the moment you hear the alarm start with “Thank you for_____.” And then keep repeating it as many times as you can filling in the blank with different things.

    2.     Have high expectations of giving and no expectations of receiving. – Unmet expectations are a great source of our dissatisfaction. So having high expectations of what you deserve, what you feel is owed to you, and what you’ve earned sets you up for disappointment and makes it hard to be grateful. On the contrary, when you don’t feel like you deserve anything, then everything that comes to you is a wonderful blessing. And there is something magical about how appreciating your blessings brings more abundance into your life. By the way “giving without expectation of receipt” is the definition of the word Grace.

    3.     Respond to negative situations by counting blessings – Every time you are tired, upset, discouraged, frustrated, angry, or sad immediately catch yourself and start listing off all of the things you are thankful for – just like how you started your day. This is very hard; but if you can develop the discipline to do this one thing, it will drastically change your life.

    4.     Notice and engage with people who have less than you. – The more you pay attention to, and spend time with people who have less than you, the more your eyes are opened to all of the amazing blessings you have in your life that you take for granted. This can be volunteering, donating, or just mentoring people. It also reminds you how far you’ve come and how lucky you are.

    5.     Say thank you and give credit to those around you. – When you take credit for things, when you say “I did”, and when you believe it was all you, you start to feel owed. When you give away credit you are constantly intentional about the work and help of everyone around you. You start to realize that even if you did 100% of the work, there was a whole army of people in your life who made choices that helped create the circumstance you are in that enables you to do anything and everything you do. If there’s one thing on this list I’ve done wrong, it’s this one. Trust me, it’s not a good way to live – and it’s the fastest way to push those people who are so important to your success far, far away.

    Do these 5 pragmatic things. Practice them often. They won’t be easy, but they are simple. Like everything else, it’s just a decision to “Take the Stairs.”

    Self-Discipline Strategist Rory Vaden’s book Take the Stairs is a #1 Wall St Journal, #1 USA Today, and #2 New York Times bestseller. As an award-winning entrepreneur and business leader, Rory Co-Founded Southwestern Consulting™, a multi-million dollar global consulting practice that helps clients in more than 27 countries drive educated decisions with relevant data.  Additionally, as the founder of the Center for the Study of Self-Discipline (CSSD), his insights on improving self-discipline, overcoming procrastination and enhancing productivity have been featured on Fox and Friends, Oprah radio, CNN and in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc and Success Magazine. 


  • Keys to Successful First Impressions 

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

    impression

    The Harvard Study of Communications said that it only takes seven seconds for you to make a first impression on another human being, only seven seconds. I think that study is so fascinating because of this one little thing. How many words do you really say in seven seconds?

    Do a seven-second countdown in your head right now.

    I bet you got out something like I did which was “Hi, it’s so nice to meet you. My name’s Amanda.” That took about 4 seconds

    What else could we possibly say in the next three seconds that’s going to make some overwhelmingly positive first impression?  The truth is probably not a whole lot.

    In fact, one of the parts of this study actually says that 38% of what makes up a first impression is how you sound. Only 7% of a first impression are the words you say. So all together, only 45% of a first impression has anything to do with the words coming out of your mouth.  That leaves 55% of a first impression to visual. It’s how you look, it’s how you dress. It’s how you stand, it’s how you shake a hand. It’s if you make solid eye contact. It’s your personal appearance.

    So many times, we focus on what to say to make a first impression. Well, studies show it’s not as much what you say, and again only 7% of the first impression had anything to do with the words that you say.

    Pay attention, very acutely, to how you spend those first seven seconds that will visually capture your prospect or customer.

    Do you stand up to greet them? Do you make eye contact with them? Do you immediately smile at them? How are you dressed? How are you standing? Do you stand up straight and confident? Do you remain seated? Do you shake their hand, or do you hug them? Do you light up with excitement? Or is it just an expected, “Hey, how are you?”

    You may be thinking those little things don’t make a difference, but they do. Don’t let your first impression be you texting someone else, and those first seven seconds are gone in a glimmer. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Be prepared that when they come in, that they have a visual first impression of you that’s going to last.

    Make your first impression count.

     

    Amanda Johns Vaden is a founding partner, executive coach and senior consultant at Southwestern Consulting. She has worked with over 400 sales offices nationwide.  Amanda is the author of the upcoming books Unspoken: Redefining Expectations Between  Men and Women in the World of Work and 4-Dimensional Follow up: Increasing Client Retention and Customer Loyalty Through Follow-Up.


  • Four Keys to Success

    Guest Post By: Kitty Barrow

    Several years ago, my team and I wanted to re-create an event that was a huge success for other teams across the country. After our third attempt, with the same dismal results each time, I was ready to throw in the towel.

    The other teams that executed this event with such success must have had an advantage we didn’t. Was it their area, or maybe they just wielded some serious magic. Either way, there must be something beyond my control that made success with this event impossible for my team in my city.

    Four-Keys-To-SuccessDefeated, I confided in my National Sales Director that I was giving up and that these events just weren’t meant to be. He challenged me then, and his challenge has made a huge difference in how I see my ability to have success with every opportunity that has come my way.

    He said that, instead of giving up, I should evaluate what I have been doing through the ‘Four Keys to Success’ to see what piece was missing which in-turn was hindering my success.

    Four Keys to Success

    Before you attempt anything, you should begin with the end in mind.

    You need to define, ‘what does Success look like to me?’

    The example I will use today is the event my team and I were attempting to host.  Success to us meant that we had a certain number of clients and prospects attend our event and that from this event we generated a number of sales and bookings.

    THEN, you follow the 4 critical areas that lead to success:

    Desire

    • Do we have the real desire for the thing we have defined as ‘success’?
    • Did my team and I have the REAL DESIRE to have a great event and the results that would come from that event?

    Confidence

    • Do I think I can learn the skills it takes to achieve my ‘success’?
    • Do we think that we can learn the skills it would take to host a successful event? (of course, we would need to break down the skills needed before we can answer this decision)

    Skills

    • Do I think I can learn the skills it takes to achieve my ‘success’?
    • Do we think that we can learn the skills it would take to host a successful event? (of course, we would need to break down the skills needed before we can answer this decision)

    Activities

    • What are the right activities and the right number of activities to achieve my ‘success’?
    • Were my team members doing the right number of activities leading up to the event to ensure our successful outcome?

    This information was shared with me 7 years ago. It falls right in line with the Skill/Will Matrix that our company teaches Sales Leaders when they are helping their team members reach for success. When our team members:

    • Have a burning desire for a certain outcome
    • Have the internal confidence that they can learn the skills
    • Work on and perfect the skills needed
    • Do the needed activity enough times

    Then THEY WILL achieve their desired success.

    Whenever you aren’t achieving your desired success, look at these four critical areas and there will likely be something missing, something that is keeping you from success.

    What successful outcome are you currently working towards that has seemed out of reach? After analyzing the 4 critical areas, where is it that you can improve and then go after your dream again?

     

    Kitty Barrow is a Senior Partner and Executive Sales and Leadership Coach of Southwestern Consulting. She specializes in creating successful systems that are easily duplicated. Her motto is “Keep Things Simple for Stress-less Selling.” Kitty has trained thousands of sales professionals in companies such as Wells Fargo, MassMutual, New York Life, Xerox Global and Allstate


  • The Power of Momentum – Ensuring the Summer Break Does Not Leave a Big Dip in Your Business Development Activities 

    For many, the summer is a wonderful time to enjoy a much needed annual break however, it can have one potentially adverse knock-on effect which, if you are not careful, can put you back a quarter – loss of Business Development (BD) momentum.

    In your sales journey with each prospect, it may have felt that at least one person has been away for the past couple of months and so, frustratingly, closing business has taken longer. Also, we know that the longer decisions take to be made, the greater the chance that, for whatever reason, they never happen. Therefore, September is a crucial month to regain the momentum around activity and accountability. If this is not addressed, 10%-30% of your firm’s revenue may not happen in 2016, if at all – a huge dent in the bottom line.

    Winter-autumn-spring-summer-tree

    Below are 4 key reminders around your team’s sales and your BD activity.

    The Power of Momentum

    A Chinese Proverb stated, “Do not be afraid of going slowly, be only afraid of standing still.”

    We are all very busy and it is quite possible that our “To-do list” has a lot of non-BD tasks which have become both ‘Urgent’ and ‘Important’ so BD and other items can slip down the list for another month and momentum you gained before the summer comes to a halt. Decide that your prospect calls and prospect meetings are both ‘Important’ and ‘Urgent. Physically block out time to make them happen. Treat these blocked out times as if they were a meeting with the CEO of your No. 1 client so you won’t avoid them or find other things to do instead. Momentum in the sales world is like that of any profession – you need to do a little, often in order to stay on top.

    The Power of Habit

    If you are not forming good habits, unknowingly you are forming bad ones. As with momentum, once we stop doing something for a while the good habits we developed can decay. According to many experts and psychologists, it takes around 21 days to form a habit. I believe the same applies the other way, only faster – once we stop something for a few days, it can take real mental discipline to pick it up again.

    Form the habit of doing some BD activity every week; call 2 past clients to maintain communication, call prospects to follow-up on proposals, research possible warm targets for your professional network, send an email/letter/press-kit to 5 targets, etc.

    The Power of Reflection

    I recently read “Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind” by Professor Guy Claxton. He talks about how one’s intelligence increases when you think less! My take on this is that it is essential to make time to just think without too much structure, to allow the creative subconscious to provide solutions that we often cannot see because of the tyranny of the ‘Urgent’.

    When it comes to hitting our BD targets, just making the time to reflect on where we are and letting the creative thought process work as opposed to blocking it with internal dialogue such as: “I have no time; I can’t get hold of anybody; This feels like it will never close, etc” really brings up solutions that lead to successful outcomes.

     The Power of Celebrating Success

    At this time of year in a number of clients, SBR sees senior management becoming very focused on end of year results and making sure the numbers line up to the forecasts, which is naturally correct. However, some have forgotten that people who feel good about themselves produce good results and the same applies in BD.

    Many of our clients spend a lot of time analyzing why they did not win a bid and even go as far as to ask the prospect for feedback as to why they did not win. One of the small but significant changes that Clive Woodward made to the English Rugby team that won the 2003 World Cup, was that at the end of every game they spent more time reviewing why they were successful and how to repeat it rather than why they lost. Celebrate the successes and spread the good news across the teams to encourage a healthy BD environment.

    In conclusion, remember “The Slight Edge Philosophy” – if you improve in something by .003% every day for a year, you will have improved by 100% by the end of the year (e.g. you will be twice as fit, twice as skilled, etc). The summer break has a danger of knocking us off our momentum and stopping some of the good habits that secure our long-term success. By just getting back on track around the basic BD activities you will ensure that you are ahead of your competition, many of whom are still dealing with the natural summer break hangover!

    Lars Tewes has over 25 years’ experience in sales and sales leadership as Sales Manager and then Managing Director, responsible for establishing three successful and currently profitable companies on behalf of the Southwestern Company.