Posts made in February, 2014

Love Them or Lose Them

Posted by on Feb 21, 2014 in No More Cold Calling | 0 comments

heartThe first rule in sales? Know your customer.

How well do you know your clients? I don’t just mean how and what they buy. I mean the people who sign on the dotted lines.

Developing meaningful relationships with our customers is not just a nice way to work, nor is it an outdated sales concept. It is (and has always been) a business imperative.

Why? CSO Insights offers four great reasons in their white paper, “The Anatomy of a World-Class Sales Organization”:

Sales organizations that optimize their sales processes for engaging and working with clients significantly outsell their less adept competitors, achieving sales performance edges such as:  

  • 37% improvement in overall revenue plan attainment
  • 29% increase in percentage of sales reps making quota
  • 22% increase in win rates of forecast deals
  • 24% decrease in sales force turnover

Just as importantly, current customers are the No. 1 source of quality referrals.

With all this evidence, there’s just no denying that building and nurturing real client relationships is the ultimate competitive advantage for salespeople.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and talk to your clients. Take them to lunch and get to know them as people, not just walking commissions. Check in on a regular basis. Send them useful information. Share best practices. Or just pick up the damn phone and call for no other reason than to reconnect. You’ll be glad you did.

For more on the link between relationships and referral success, check out the latest from No More Cold Calling:

Understanding Your Customers Is Not a Crap Shoot

As salespeople, it’s our job to ensure customers get the correct solutions for their business challenges—so that they keep buying from us and referring us to other great clients. But in order to serve our clients properly, we must actually get to know them—not just their demographics and how they spend money online, but what they actually want and need from us. (Read “Understanding Your Customers Is Not a Crap Shoot.”)

Mobilizing the Corner Office—What CEOs Want From You

Buyers do business with you, not with your company and not with technology. Whether you’re a new hire or a veteran sales rep, they trust you more than the business. If you want to get meetings at the level that counts, then you must prove you’re trustworthy. In this guest post from sales expert Linda Richardson, she shares her thoughts on why CEOs talk to us, let alone buy from us. (Read “Mobilizing the Corner Office—What CEOs Want From You.”)

Lies You Tell Gatekeepers

Gatekeepers can smell phoniness a mile away. Think you’re getting away with cold calling and pretending you’re best buddies with your prospect? Newsflash: You’re not fooling anybody. When you have a referral, you’ll never have to use duplicitous tactics to bypass the gatekeeper. Instead, that secretary or assistant will welcome your call. No lies necessary. (Read “Lies You Tell Gatekeepers.”)

Message to Management: Why Your Sales Reps Can’t Close

Why won’t your salespeople pick up the phone and actually talk to prospects? Many of them simply don’t know how to have business conversations. They’re far more comfortable hiding behind technology. Teaching your sales team how to conduct business conversations takes building skills, lots and lots of practice, joint calling, feedback, coaching, and reinforcement.  (Read “Message to Management: Why Your Sales Reps Can’t Close.”)

Are You Too Hard to Reach?

To sell successfully, we must make it easy for customers to buy. This, of course, means making it easy for them to reach us. Yet, in our email-obsessed world, many professionals don’t even provide clients with their most important piece of contact information—a phone number. In this guest post, Brian Hansford, director of client services for Heinz Marketing, explains why he won’t buy from vendors who make him look up their phone numbers. (Read “Are You Too Hard to Reach?”)

7 Overused Words You Should Avoid

It has been said that cursing shows a lack of vocabulary. Maybe so, but I find buzzwords to be even more uncreative and obnoxious. Just because a celebrity or well-known business leader coins a new phrase, doesn’t mean you have to use it. Why would you want to sound just like everyone else anyway? Success in selling is all about relationships, which means your personality is an asset. So be unique. Or at the very least, don’t be boring. Here are seven words I’m tired of hearing. (Read “7 Overused Words You Should Avoid.”)

Attention Seasoned Sales Pros

For salespeople with at least 10 years of experience, I offer an exclusive opportunity twice a year for semi-private training and coaching though my Referral Selling Masters Program.

This is an intensive, five-month course for a select group of up to 10 B2B sales pros who commit to setting referral goals and achieving double-digit returns on their referral income.

Click here to find out how this program could change the trajectory of your career. Or pick up the phone and call me. I’ll be happy to help you determine if this is the right fit for you or someone on your sales team.

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How to Read Any Business Book In an Hour or Less

Posted by on Feb 21, 2014 in Hunt Big Sales | 0 comments

I want to teach you a system for rapidy reading business books. It’s something that has helped me a lot over the course of my career. I learned the basics from my great mentor and friend, Dr. Tom Hill, and have made my own modifications. By following this system, I am able to read 100 business books per year and keep current on many of the best thinkers’ ideas and approaches.

Like most people, time is a constant challenge for me. I have young children, an active social life, I workout, as well as spending time on the road building a business that is growing every year. Toss in broader family obligations and a commitment to my church and it is very difficult for me to find time to read. You probably feel the same way. Here is the key secret: Almost every business book can be read completely–and with strong comprehension–in less than one hour as long as you have a system.

A couple of guidelines:

  • Business books are often written in an easy-to-digest format. They have internal outlining, call-out boxes, diagrams, and end-of-chapter summaries to aid readers in consuming the book material quickly. This is a huge help.
  • Many business books are broken into thirds. The first third focuses on the context and core ideas, the second third provides an application, and the final third give examples and case studies.
  • Your mind will not remember more than 3-5 highly influential ideas from any business book within about a week. Whether you read it slowly, page by page, or quickly using a system, the net result is very similar. Therefore, you can increase your efficiency without a big reduction in value by using a system.

Here’s the system:

I use a simple one page sheet for capturing a book’s general premise and key points. You can customize it and make it more valuable to you. My book review template can be downloaded here. So, without further delay, here is how you actually read a business book in an hour or less:

1. Read the front and back of the book jacket as well as the introduction

2. Skip the acknowledgements and foreword

3. Read Table of Contents looking for your “hooks” that you want to make certain to catch. These are the key points that build on the ideas that intrigued you when you read the book jacket.

4. Read first and last paragraph of every chapter

5. Skim the chapters for call-out boxes, story/case study boxes, and diagrams. Read those.

6. Read the sections of the book inside of the chapters whose headers are relevant to the hooks you identified earlier when you were looking at the Table of Contents.

7. Read the chapter summaries if there are any.

8. Write your notes as listed on the form.

This is the speed course for getting a business book done in an hour and actually taking away from it something of value. There are some books that I re-read every year. There are many books I put on the shelf, and when I need something from that book, I just pull out the form I filled out and take what I need from it.

As I am starting to read more digital books, I have also started using Evernote for capturing notes which I tag as  ”Book Reviews.”

Periodicals, blogs, white papers, and other formats are great materials for keeping you current on trends and data-points in the market. However, a book provides a deeper dive into an overall set of ideas and their implications. Don’t cut out books from your mental diet because they take too long. Instead, get a faster system.

IMAGE: Gallery Stock

Last updated: Feb 20, 2014


Author, speaker, and consultant TOM SEARCY is the foremost expert in large account sales. With Hunt Big Sales, he has helped clients land more than $5 billion in new sales. Click to get Searcy’s weekly tips, or to learn more about Hunt Big Sales.

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(5 More Of The) 25 Timeless Leadership Lessons That Just Plain Work

Posted by on Feb 21, 2014 in Terry Starbucker | 0 comments

images25cIt’s the third week of my 5-week series outlining 25 timeless leadership lessons.

I hope you’ve already seen the first two installments (if you missed them, here is Part 1, and here is Part 2).

Here’s a summary of all 25, and the lessons discussed today are in bold (past lessons are underlined and linked).  There are 10 more lessons arriving over the next 2 weeks.  Lead well!

  1. Practice Full Spectrum Management 
  2. Teach Instead of Tell
  3. Be an Enabler, Not a Disabler
  4. Develop a Zen-Like Mantra
  5. Avoid Inertia (and Push Forward)
  6. Trust the Facts
  7. Words Alone Don’t Make the Leader
  8. Blend Will and Humility
  9. Know “The Secrets of Work”
  10. Do the Unexpected
  11. Think Like an Interior Designer
  12. “It is Solved by Walking”
  13. Take the Leadership Litmus Test
  14. Bad News Can Be Good News
  15. Don’t Do Second Things First
  16. Avoid Nightmares in the Ivory Tower
  17. Pause and Refresh
  18. Shore Up the House of Cards
  19. Get a Life (If You Don’t Have One)
  20. Beware of the Accountability Trap
  21. Do Some Den Mothering
  22. Be Ever the Statesman
  23. Use The Seven Most Important Words
  24. Stay Away From the “Buts”
  25. No Square Pegs in Round Holes

11. Think Like an Interior Designer

I am a big fan of those home improvement shows on TV, and I have found a great piece of leadership advice by watching interior decorators work with their clients.  Good decorators always use the process of elimination in making color and design choices – that is, they find out what their clients DO NOT want before they figure out what they want.

They typically start with a very wide range of choices, and then ask a simple question – “tell me what you don’t like”. Before too long everything is narrowed down to just a few selections, and the end game becomes much easier.  Effective business decision-making ideally should follow the same process – laying out all the alternatives, and systematically eliminating the unacceptable ones.

It is amazing how in practice I have seen it handled much differently in the boardroom – more of “which one do you like best”? This approach typically results in a much longer discussion, since it is much harder to get a fast consensus on what is best, versus what is worst.

So the next time you are faced with a decision with many choices, think like those designers on TV and use the process of elimination– who knows, you might end up repainting your office or boardroom too!

12. “It is Solved by Walking”

Sometimes just showing up is great leadership.  That’s right – just hopping on a plane, renting a car, driving up to a branch or regional office, and walking through the door.  If you are a manager that has staff in other places, even a couple of thousand miles away, you need to go to those places once in a while.  Even once a year will do.

And what do you do once you get there?  Just chat folks up.  Listen.  Laugh.  Buy them breakfast or lunch.   Maybe even sing a karaoke song or two.  The net result can make a huge difference -I have lost count of how many times I have heard my teammates tell me “I really appreciate you being here – we NEVER used to see corporate people under previous owners“.

That is music to my ears – I have made a huge difference just by my physical presence. There’s a Latin expression that sums it all up for me – “solvitur ambulando”.  It means, “it is solved by walking”.  Out of the office and into the field.

13. Take the Leadership Litmus Test

Once I was speaking at a training session for a group of our newer teammates, and I was asked this question:

“How do you know if you are a good leader?”

I replied by saying that good leaders should be able to lead their teams up any hill without looking back.  They get to the top confident that when they turn around, the whole team is standing right there behind them at the summit.  Over-confident leaders can also get to the top without looking back, but they will see people still at the base of the hill when they turn around.  Doubtful leaders may get everyone to the top, but not without turning around often and zig-zagging up and down exhorting their teammates, perhaps even dragging some people with them.

The real litmus test of great leadership is that mutual trust – when the chips are down and the battle must be joined, can you trust your team to execute, and will they trust you to lead?

You will really never know until that first real crisis – but in any business, it ultimately happens.   So the next time it does, step up, gather the team, issue the call, and then take the test by climbing that hill.   When you get to the top you will know if you passed. Good luck!

14. Bad News Can Be Good News

There are always going to be problems out there – nobody, and no business, is perfect.  If you are not hearing about them from your teammates, not only are you failing as a leader, you are being lulled into a false sense of security about what is really happening – a real double whammy.

We must inspire trust and confidence as leaders, and the best evidence of this is a stream of bad news coming your way.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but it really is not. The upshot of getting bad news on a timely basis is that we oftentimes can take speedy action to fix it, thus minimizing any damage to the business.  Sometimes, the action can even have a net positive impact – really making “lemonade out of the lemons“.

Making sure we get our share of bad news is an excellent “gut check” we can periodically make to be sure we are on the right track as leaders.

Colin Powell summed it up when he spoke about military leadership:

“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

15. Don’t Do Second Things First 

I am a big list maker – I have a yellow legal pad with me at all times, and I am always jotting down my “to dos“.  I keep all these pads, because I like to look back and see whether the priorities I set were correct – and, more importantly, whether I went after the right ones first.

How often do we come up with a list but avoid the first thing we write down, because it is probably the most difficult one?  I think it is human nature to want to do the easier things first, but good leaders need to resist that temptation and have the courage to take on the big and hairy stuff.

A classic example is diving into a spreadsheet or another “depersonalized” project instead of dealing with a critical teammate who is not performing and needs to be held accountable. That really is the hard stuff, and typically are the “first things” we need to do to keep our goals on track. I know that has happened to me now and then – the evidence is apparent when I look back at my yellow pads.   Doing so redoubles my resolve going forward to keep my courage up when those tough tests of leadership happen.

Don’t do second things first – trust your instincts, go to the top of the list, and get ‘er done!

Don’t miss lessons 16-25 over the next two weeks – if you haven’t already, sign up below for email delivery of my posts.  Thanks!

The post (5 More Of The) 25 Timeless Leadership Lessons That Just Plain Work appeared first on Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie.

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Executive Coaching Leads to High Performance

Posted by on Feb 21, 2014 in Co2 Blog | 0 comments


Executive Coaching Performance

High performance executive coaching clients, those that want to go from great to greater, often believe when they begin working with an executive coach that they are going to be fixed or that there will be heavy lifting involved. This myth sometimes keeps them, and may be keeping you, from finding an executive coach.

Most executive coaches do not want you to do heavy lifting. They want to lighten your load. They seek to cultivate and maximize your strengths, and reduce the work you can and probably should be delegating to others. The tasks you struggle with the most can eat up a disproportionate amount of your time. There is usually a better way (or better person) to do it, and executive coaches can help you find it (or that person).

Recently,  a former client of mine said that she no longer judges people as she used to about their deficits. She learned to accept her own shortcomings, and that’s helped her be more accepting of others. Her focus now is on strengths. She has enhanced her organization’s performance by better utilizing her strengths and her coworkers’.

It’s not always possible to put the right people on the bus, as Jim Collins advocates. Sometimes the owners, board, boss, economics, or other restraints prevent you from handpicking your team. In my former client’s case, the owners would not let her make a few sacred cows redundant. Rather than focus on improving their deficits, she now focuses on developing their strengths. She’s found that this has taken them and the organization further and faster.

The post Executive Coaching Leads to High Performance appeared first on Elements of Leadership.

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4 Steps for Making Change Happen

Posted by on Feb 21, 2014 in Great Leadership By Dan | 0 comments

Guest post from August Turak:
The main reason why transformation fails is because organizations are very resistant to change, especially in organizations where powerful executives have their own interests and territory. How do you overcome that? Here are four ways to make change happen:
Step 1: Try to be compassionate — Put yourself in the other person’s shoes

All resistance to change is not rooted in hard-headed self-interest. Genetics teaches us that the vast majority of “change” called “mutations” are actually harmful to the organism. Only a tiny few lead to evolutionary breakthroughs. We are all genetically programmed to be conservative as a result. Historically, the vast majority of political and social change led to chaos not utopia. My company sold software and resistance to change was our biggest objection. If the new software implementation went off without a hitch no one cared or noticed. But if it crashed the organization, heads rolled. Our clients’ resistance to change was not irrational and it was up to us, not our clients, to manage it. There is a lot of wisdom in the old adage that “no one ever got fired for buying IBM” — or Microsoft or Google. First of all, put yourself in the other guy’s shoes and realize that the risks involved are real. It may very well be his/her job, not yours, that is on the line if your transformation goes awry.
Also compassionately remember that executives may not have all the power you give them credit for. The days of telling people to jump and having them say “how high?” are gone. Implementing change today relies on building consensus rather than executive fiat. 

Step 2: Have a plan for getting initial buy-in (include contingencies)

Make sure your proposal takes into account all these legitimate concerns and potential dangers surrounding change. Make sure you have a plan for getting everyone affected by the change on board including a contingency for what you’ll do if people turn against you later on.

Step 3: Minimize your risks

The next step is to minimize these risks. Think of all those cleaning solutions that recommend that you try them out on some inconspicuous swath of fabric first. Find some “out of the way” department or project to experiment on where the variables are controllable, the investment is minimal, and results are easily measured. Let the success of your little experiment become contagious. Others will start saying: “Who are those guys? How can we get results like that?”
Soon your experiment will spread virally and top management will no longer be risking a revolution, but responding to a bottom up groundswell backed by hard data.

Step 4: Measure results with hard data

This final point about hard data is critical. If you can’t or won’t measure results don’t expect sympathy from me or any line manager. I don’t care how theoretically “worthwhile” your transformation is, you must link your efforts to the mission of the company and that means, whenever possible, financially. If you can’t measure results then you probably shouldn’t try to bring about change, but you’ll be surprised to find that almost anything, whether qualitative or quantitative, can be measured if we just put our heads to it.

If you are in a business culture that is resistant to change, instead of wasting energy on frustration follow this formula. In the next couple of weeks, research a change that you want to make happen. Anticipate all possible objections and create contingency plans for anything that could go wrong. Put in place measurable goals to track success. Create consensus by presenting your plan to colleagues and stakeholders. With preparation, contingency planning, buy-in, and metrics, you’ll find that bringing about change is far easier than you thought.
Author Bio:
August Turak is a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, award winning writer and author of Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity (Columbia Business School Publishing; July 2013). He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Selling Magazine, the New York Times, and Business Week, and is a popular leadership contributor at His website is
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