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  • To Tell the Truth

    Guest Post By: Gary Michels

    Business, Technology, Internet and network concept. Young busine

    I was in a pretty intense conversation once with one of my clients. We spoke about having to let some people go within his organization. My client kept saying he did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, yet at the same time, he wanted to be true to himself, not only through his words but his actions. He felt that as the leader of the company, it was time to make and follow through on some decisions.

    It seems that often we spend too much time worrying about being polite. When we do this, we hold back our heartfelt ideas and beliefs. We feel afraid that someone’s feelings might get hurt if we speak truthfully, either to them or about them.

    However, do you think it is possible to be honest without being rude or mean? Is it possible to be truthful in a kind, loving and sincere way? I believe it is, otherwise, how will we communicate to others and let them know who we are? How can others let us know who they truly are? Unless we speak the truth, no idea will be challenged and no good ideas will be shared.

    Censoring thoughts and ideas will cut you off emotionally from others. In a way, when you censor yourself it is as if there is an invisible force that is serving to hold you in check. We all need to dig deep and find ways to avoid stifling our genuine thoughts and ideas. Everyone has the capability to express themselves in a kind, loving, and methodical way.  One that is not hurtful. At times, we must make sure to use extra thought and take care to make sure you are using the best words and tone to say what you want to say.  You also need to make sure you are saying them at the right time.  You know the old saying, “timing is everything”. Often, I will ask someone a question in this way: “do I have the permission to share with you what I am thinking and what is in my head and heart, and do it in a safe environment with you”? I find that most times, the person I am speaking with will answer “yes” and be thankful that I was honest and open with them.

    I live by the creed that if one tells the truth and someone turns away from you because of it, that person was probably not truly a close of friend or acquaintance anyway.

    I feel there are two things you can do in your life that really set you free; to tell the truth and live with the truth, even should it hurt.  Also, when you screw up, a good, old-fashioned sincere apology will give you a burst of energy and freshness. This will enable you to move forward with peace and success.

    You can’t “Turn It Up a Notch” if something is holding you back and keeping you stuck in the neutral position!! Holding back the truth is often one of the biggest things preventing “breakthrough” success.  I urge you to speak with honestly but to do so with love in your heart.

    Sell with truth and integrity and you will be successful!

     

    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.


  • You wouldn’t let your parents do it. Why do you do it?

    Guest Post By: Kitty Barrow

     

    Karen is a successful sales manager with a problem. Her leaders never seem to step up in their leadership roles. She wants to trust that they are doing their job but then when their teams aren’t performing, she finds herself needing to step in and work with her leader’s sales team members.

    What? Hold on a minute? How do you think this story ends?

    Well, it wasn’t ending well and it was causing endless frustration for Karen as well as wasting hours and hours of her time.

    Unfortunately, Karen is only one of many clients who face this issue and does not understand why I suggest that she stop leading over her leaders. But think about it. Any parent will tell you that they don’t appreciate their own parents stepping in and trying to parent the grandkids. There isn’t a parent I know who won’t quickly stand up and matter-of-factly ask their parents to ‘butt out’. ‘These are my kids and I will parent them how I see fit!’

    parents grandparents

    Can you relate? Or maybe you are a leader of a team and your immediate leader continues to step over you and lead your team. How does that make you feel?

    There are 3 main issues with this.

    First, when you lead over your leaders, it demoralizes them on the inside. By leading over them, you are telling them that you don’t think that they can do their job. When people don’t think that you believe in them, then they aren’t going to try as hard. Why should they, after all, won’t you be stepping in and doing the heavy lifting for them.

    The second issue is that you are sending a signal to the people of your leader that your leader isn’t really skilled enough to be your leader and then all respect flies out the window. The leadership power is washed away leaving your leader with a title but no one who really respects them. After all, if they aren’t getting their way, all they need to do is call you, right? You like how important you feel when you are able to step in and save the day, but instead of really helping, you are now hurting all 3 of you.

    I had one client who was learning how to be a better leader and went to apologize to one of their leaders for what they have been doing. The leader accepted their apology and explained that every time the leader went over his head to work with his team, he felt embarrassed. You can imagine the shock of my coaching client who had previously described that leader as an ‘arrogant know-it-all’. The guy wasn’t that bad but was simply reacting to the situation that my client caused.

    The third issue is that leading over your leaders is that it causes a ‘gossip triangle’. I have seen it become a time-consuming he-said-she-said that can waste hours, if not days, of everyone trying to solve disagreements and hurt feelings. Team members aren’t dumb. They quickly learn how to play the game that kids often learn to play ‘parent-vs-parent’. If the leaders aren’t showing a united front and letting the leaders lead only their direct reports, then they can be pitted against each other on a regular basis which will stagnate growth and cause division within the ranks.

    So what is the solution?

    First, if you find yourself guilty on all counts, then you need to have a private conversation with your leader. Begin with apologizing. Let them know that you didn’t realize what you have been doing and how you were inadvertently neutralizing them as a leader. When you start this conversation with an apology, I’ve never seen it end badly. It usually ends up as it did with my client Bob with the manager who he was leading also being vulnerable and admitting how embarrassed or helpless they have been feeling.

    Second, you make an agreement that all issues with their team members will be immediately directed to the leader and you will partner together, if needed, to solve the issue, but all leadership of that team member will come from the right person in the chain-of-command. This also means that you need to be willing to let go of some control. The leader might make some ‘bad’ decisions as they learn how to really be a leader. It’s okay. It’s their team. You’re going to be there to partner with them so help them avoid making too many bad leadership decisions but it’s going to happen and you need to be okay with it and trust your leader.

    The third thing that you do is meet with the leader on a weekly basis at a scheduled time to discuss their team members and help them to think through how to best resolve any issues. We do this by asking instead of telling. I find that most leaders (including myself) want to just tell people how to do things. This is fine if they are new to the company (or new to leadership) and learning the ropes. For an experienced leader, it is better to ask questions to help your leader think through how to solve the problems on their own. People who are convinced against their will are of the same opinion still. If, however, you ask questions and get them to come to the appropriate conclusions, then they are convincing themselves and internalizing the lessons.

    Tired of always thinking that you are the only one who knows how to do anything? Then that is a sign that you are leading over your leaders and it’s time to take a new approach.

    Try it and please let me know how it goes!

     

    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 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.


  • Control What You Can: Attitude and Effort

    Guest Post By: Emmie Brown

    attitudeOften we get frustrated in life when we try to control things that we actually have no control over.

    We get frustrated when the traffic is bad and we are late to work.

    We get frustrated when somebody doesn’t buy from us, or they don’t show up for an appointment.

    We get frustrated all day long with little things that are happening, that we forget that we cannot actually control some of those things.

    What can we do to keep from feeling this way?

    There are only two things each day that you actually can control. Only two things!

    They are your attitude and your effort. That’s it!

    When something bad happens you control how you react to that something. You can control what attitude you choose to put on. Choose to put on a good one!

    You can also control how hard you work. How many hours you put in. You control how hard you work during those hours, how many phone calls you make, if you pick up the phone and dial again and again and again.

    There are things that you can influence, like how well you have a conversation. You can influence if somebody buys or not, but you can’t really control the outcome at all.

    You can control a lot of what you do in terms of how many appointments you set, etc. You can have a great amount of control over that. Two things we can work on controlling is how hard we work and our attitude.

    If you focus on controlling the “controllables,” controlling what you actually can control, and just surrender the rest, you will have a lot less frustration and a whole lot more peace!

    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.


  • The Two Types of Motivation to Know About

    Guest Post By: Emmie Brown

    Most of us are motivated by contests and incentives or earning recognition. We like to work towards goals. This type of motivation is called “Toward Motivation.” There’s another very powerful type of motivation that often gets overlooked. “Away Motivation.”

    Let’s say it’s 3 o’clock in the morning, on a very cold night in early spring, you’re laying in bed and your phone rings. Your buddy down the street is calling you to say, “There’s a big sale happening at the end of the street. They’re selling patio furniture and grills for really cheap. I know you really wanted to buy those. Come down here now!” And you’re thinking, “It’s 3 o’clock in the morning why would I get out of bed?”

    Let’s look at another example. In this scenario, you’re laying in bed at 3 o’clock in the morning. It’s freezing cold, and you get a phone call from the same buddy who says, “Hey, there’s someone on your back porch stealing your patio furniture and your brand-new grill!” Would you get out of bed? Most people say they would pop out of bed and chase the thieves out of their yard right away! “Away Motivation.”

    Everybody is motivated a little bit differently, but typically the fear of loss is an even more powerful motivator than excitement for gain. We overlook the type of motivation called “Away Motivation.” We are away motivated when we are trying to avoid consequences.

    Here is an example in your business realm. One of our clients was having a really hard time asking for referrals. He would either just forget to ask, or often times would not ask because he was afraid to. We really needed to get him to ask for those referrals. Now we have the “Toward Motivation.” The opportunity to earn more business, the opportunity to get more results and get mores prize. But this really wasn’t motivating him. We needed to put that “Away Motivation” in place. What we did for him was ask him who was someone that he really did not like. Unfortunately, he really didn’t like his assistant. This person wasn’t his assistant by choice, this was a company chosen assistant that was decades older than him, didn’t report to him, and didn’t respect him in his eyes. So, what we decided to do was every time he forgot to ask a referral he had to write her a check for $50. He had to tell her he was giving her that because he didn’t do what he said he was going to do. That was embarrassing enough to him that it only took one time of forgetting to ask for referrals, and he never wanted to experience that again.

    Think about this for yourself. What are some consequences that you can put in place that will help you to be more motivated and hit your goals? Would it motivate you to have to donate money to the political party you are not a fan of? Would it motivate you to have to cancel a trip if you don’t do what you say you will do? Would it motivate you to give sales to your competitor? Think about those consequences, put them in place, and watch how things will change for you.

    We need to have consequences in place, not just rewards in order to sufficiently motivate ourselves. Make sure you have “Toward Motivation” and “Away Motivation” in your plan to achieve your goals!

    What are some things that have helped you? Share here, tweet me @emmie__brown

    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.


  • Servant Selling: How to answer objections without feeling pushy

    Guest post by: Rory Vaden

    Most people have fear about making change.

    Which is another reason why prospects need a sales professional.

    They need us not only for the purpose of giving them expert information about the product or service they are considering…

    They need our assistance in helping them develop the courage to make a change!

    You may have not have ever thought of your role in that way, but that is how Servant Sellers think. They realize that sales is less about convincing a stranger and more about helping a friend develop confidence.

    There are several decisions that need to be made by a prospect before they can buy.

    Of course they need to decide they like the offer but that’s not it. They also need to decide that they’re actually willing to take the risk of making a change. As the sales professional you have to be equipped to serve both of those needs for them.

    [CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING]


  • The Habits Triangle and the 3 Elements of Ultra-Performers

    Guest post by: Rory Vaden

    Do you know anyone who is super smart and intelligent but not very successful?

    Do you know someone who doesn’t seem all that smart and yet they are incredibly successful?

    Do you know someone who is very motivated and they try really hard but they can never quite seem to make it?

    Do you know someone who has all the ingredients to be a top performer but they are a disorganized, chaotic mess?

    If you answered “yes” to any of these questions then you will understand why and how over the past 165 years, The Southwestern Family of Companies and Southwestern Consulting, has developed our methodology – something we refer to as “The Habits Triangle.”

    We’ve come to realize that there are three interrelated components that must work synergistically together for someone to become an Ultra-Performer.

    You cannot truly become an Ultra-Performer without developing mastery in these 3 areas of your business:

    –> Click here to continue reading about what it means to be an ultra performer.


  • How to Read Key Metric Ratios

    Guest Post By: Dustin Hillis

    How to Read Key Metric Ratios
    How to Read Key Metric Ratios

    You cannot expect unless you inspect.

    Understanding your key metrics, or as we call them at Southwestern ConsultingTM, your Critical Success Factors, is essential to success.

    So many people push, fight and refuse to track their activity and think through their ratios. Usually there are some basic, fundamental ratios that most salespeople need to know and be able to track, regardless of industry.

    One of those ratios is the Dial to Reach Ratio.  That ratio measures how many phone calls you have to make/doors you have to knock on/contacts you have to make to reach one decision maker.

     Another that’s important to understand is your Reach to Appointment Ratio or how many decision makers you have to talk with in order to get one of them to set an appointment with you.

    –> Click here to continue reading…