Friday, September 25, 2009

Smarter Selling: tips for today

[Written by Keith Rosen, recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the five most influential executive coaches]

What skills are needed in order to be successful today?

About 25 years ago, I read my first book on selling. It was, The Secrets of Closing the Sale. Like many sales and business professionals, this was the first book that I was ever exposed to which focused on the subject and the art of selling. 25 years later, this past June, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down and meeting one to one with the master of selling and personal development, Zig Ziglar.

So, what impact did Zig leave on me that I have taken to heart? What profound, new and valuable message was I able to walk away with from my meeting with this highly acclaimed guru and though leader?

I was fortunate to gain the perspective of such a worldly man grounded in the values that matter. You would even think that it would be a bit of a challenge to retain all of the gems Zig shared with me. Conversely it wasn't. It was surprisingly, yet reassuringly very simple. You see, the ultimate epiphany I had, the priceless message that Zig delivered, was grounded in the core principles that are and have always been right in front of us.

Zig reinforced what really mattered most; the basics. Yes, that's right. The basics that we so often gloss over, neglect, take for granted and assume we already have in place. The very basics that are paradoxically, still the undeniable and timeless secret to success and designing a life worth living.

The basics of truth, being your word, living a life of integrity, honoring your core values and your commitments, honesty, family, faith in yourself and helping your fellow man and woman selflessly and graciously. Yes, the basics that our society seems to have an unyielding tendency to put aside and dismiss in search of the latest and greatest, the next Big Thing or the flavor of the month. We have fooled ourselves into thinking there is some other secret out there that would help us get what we want most and propel us to where we want to be, both in our home life and at our work life.

Before you can become a remarkable salesperson and exude that presence and confidence of someone who our customers want to do business with, we first need to become a remarkable person.

What are your tips for a tough economy?

I've decided (and many of my clients are on board with this as well) that it's no longer as tough as it was out there. That's right. Strip away what you hear in the media, and look objectively at what you can control; this one telltale sign that something in your selling formula needs to be developed, modified or redefined:

If there are people in your organization, even in your industry or profession who are currently performing like rock stars, that should provide you with one very critical insight. That is, it can be done because it is currently being done by someone else!

Here's a very clear insight into one example of some general statistical information about the selling profession that will help you begin the process of fine tuning and developing your own data driven solution to increasing your sales.

  • 48% of salespeople never follow up with a prospect.
  • 25% of salespeople make a second contact and stop.
  • 12% of salespeople only make three contacts and stop.
  • Only 10% of salespeople make more than three contacts.

Now, get this:

  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact.
  • 3% of sales are made on the second contact.
  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact.
  • 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact.
  • But 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact.

Now, these numbers may change depending upon your selling cycle, geographic location, the dollar amount of your deliverable, target audience as well as the service or product you're selling but the essence of this message still remains in tact. That is, do you have your own set of data available, which you have used as the cornerstone to constructing your prospecting and selling strategy? If not, it's the same as getting into your car and saying to yourself before embarking on a trip, Okay, I need to get to a specific destination, but I'm not exactly sure which direction to travel nor how long it's going to take me to get there.

After all, the greatest rainmakers realize the importance of checking the weather first so they know where the best locations are to make it rain, and have the tools to do so.

What does the future hold for salespeople?

The salesperson of tomorrow will continue to evolve beyond their traditional role and become more embedded into their customer's business and the decisions that affect every facet of their operation. The true sales professional will be relied upon as a valuable resource and a trusted, consultative adviser throughout the entire selling process; and beyond.

This doesn't mean focusing solely on relationship selling because those salespeople who are doing so are the ones who are struggling today. Great relationships don't always equate to more sales. While additional time must be spent fostering stronger relationships with key clients, this isn't about calling them just to 'check in' but having a more strategic set of timely questions that will help you better understand how the current economic climate has affected the way they do business and make purchasing decisions.

This will help us accurately connect to what the true meaning of value is to our customers, as opposed to what we generically assume it to be and as such, enable us to deliver on this at a much deeper, more significant level. We need to take a closer and more holistic look at ourselves from the inside out while challenging our customers, the media and status quo. Therein lies the opportunity to elevate yourself and become the champion you know you can be.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's all about me..

It’s all about me
By Dick Olenych, Inside Business - Hampton Roads - 5/20/2008
[Some text edited by S. Derksen]

I’m an average Joe. No better or worse than you.

I will tell you though I’ve had a pretty…uh…interesting life. And it has given me a different view of the world then most people. And because of all of that I believe…it’s all about me.
It’s my philosophy. And it’s a philosophy that has created an environment of exceptional customer service.

Will you please give me a just a couple of sentences to make this point a bit clearer?
When I was little my parents fought a lot. We moved around from house to house, sometimes with the police not too far behind. I know a couple of times when it was just Mom and us we had to go on welfare. Other times it was just plain crazy with lots of screaming and yelling.
My parents eventually divorced and things started to get normal. That didn’t last too long because it was interrupted when my dad died. I was a sophomore in high school and we had to move yet again to another state, closer to my aunts and uncles. About a year later my mom withered away from cancer.

By my senior year in high school I was on my own. I lived in an apartment we called “The Toe”. It was short for the ghetto and it lived down to its name. It was a dump. But, remember it’s all about me.

I went to a very good college though, as a minority. I dated the Vice President of the United State’s daughter while I was there. She was nice. College was pretty crazy. I was totally out of control. I made tons of friends, though. My family still vacations with some of those friends every year.

There’s a lot of world out there and I’ve seen some of it. I’ve lived with the Samburu warriors of East Africa. They are very genuine. I have also lived in a tent in Alaska. At one time I even had a job bartending on top of Vail Mountain. Remember, it’s all about me.
I now live in a modest home…on the water. I even have a dock and a Jet Ski. I built the dock myself. I like to build things that last.

I really have a great life. I truly appreciate everything that I have. My family is wonderful. I have great kids and a beautiful loving wife of twenty-two years. She sometimes calls me Jim.
She recently battled breast cancer. It ripped my heart out to see her suffer. That is what it is because remember, it’s all about ME.

Ladies and gentlemen, life is sometimes tough. At other times it’s very generous.
We must not let the pain of our past or the fear of the future distract us from positively effecting the people around us. We owe it to ourselves, and to our organizations to attack the day without shouldering our personal burdens. I personally, know that this can sometimes be very difficult.
Please remember. That we also must not allow the tapestry of success insulate us from our moral obligation to our organizations, our people, our customers. I am no better than the man shining shoes or the roofer swinging a hammer.

In the early morning hours before daylight as I’m listening to my bride’s breathing I decide who I will be. While I remember my history I do not let it cloud the bright hopes of a new day. I also realize that my comforts do not segregate me from the compassion that others need. Everyday I decide who I will be and how I will affect those around me. Because it is, “all about me.”

As individuals we must be strong and diligent in our support of our loved ones. Yes we also have to keep both eyes on personal finance especially in tough times. But greed will never consume me.

It’s not easy balancing compassion with strength, consideration with personal goals or empathy with pressure to perform. But we must. It is our duty - yeah, I like that word. It is our duty to others, to think of them first.

Remember we have a choice every day of who we are going to be and I choose to believe it’s all about…

Making the RIGHT decisions. Every day.

Dick Olenych is the author of Joe Sails and an owner of Spectrum Printing. He can be reached at

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Work/life balance. Goals, dreams and expectations.

Hello everyone,

It has been a while since I have posted a blog.
I have been very busy traveling between Europe and the USA lately and just didn't find time to get it done. It was hard to combine the me with the professional me.
It turns out that that is exactly what I'm writing this blog about (but perhaps in a more philosophical context):


Work life en social life.

Finding a way to connect personal dreams with your professional career and your professional dreams with your social well-being.
After all, I am a partner, son, father, brother, friend, colleague, boss, professional and a whole lot with more specific characteristics. All of which are 'roles' to fulfill at full satisfaction. I'm here to meet and exceed expectations. As a person. Not just in my job.

So.... who are you? Which roles do you have?

Sounds pretty heavy perhaps, but the reality is that we all have relationships, professional or personal, in which the 'other party' has an expectation. Over years, those expectations partly build your image and identity to the outside world. They become you, so to speak. Because they reflect your goals and dreams and your ability to achieve those in the minds of the people you are connected with. Often we know relatively well what we want, but have you ever asked yourself what others may be expecting from you?

Perhaps a long prelude, but here's where I wanted to get into the work/life balance:

The me-athlete and the corporate athlete need to be in sync with your environment.
If your milestones and achievements as a social and professional individual are connected with the expectations that others may have from you, you will be more successful in both your relationships and your career.'s important to find out what standards to maintain, what expectations to meet or exceed.

Both as a professional as well as a private individual.
The goals and dreams that previous blog posts described, are goals and dreams that should be united for everyone as a person. Not just as a professional.
Be a successful individual, rather than a successful professional with a miserable social life.
Or a relatively happy individual with a pretty mediocre career (if you want a career that is).

Think about what you'd like to achieve both as a professional and an individual. As a person.
Ask your friends, your family, your partner what they expect from you. Long term. Not just today. Reward yourself for attaining goals. Set milestones for you as a friend, partner, father, son, brother etc as well as setting milestones in your career.

New concept to you?

Yes, probably to some. Most people plan their careers pretty extensively.
But have you thought about what you mean to others outside of work?
What can you do to mean more to them? Does your circle of 'friends and family' include people that are destructive to you or your dreams? Should you make decisions about who really is your friend and who isn't or shouldn't be? Do you have friends that are really important to you, but you haven't really told them lately? Is your partner expecting things from you that you may not be aware of or may not be willing to fulfill? Did you tell him/her that?

Starting with the end of the road in sight (see previous post) really means starting with you as a person and including everything you do in life and what you mean to others as an individual over the long haul.

Start asking those questions. Write your own expectations.
Commit to next steps and hold yourself accountable for them.
Write a letter to yourself, give it to a good friend and ask that friend to mail it to you exactly one year from today.

After review - did you live by your own rules?
Did you find a balance between you as a professional and you as an individual?
Did you improve or deepen your relationships?