Hunt Big Sales

9 Ways to Have Better Vacations

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 in Hunt Big Sales | 0 comments

I am not a great vacationer. I wish I was. I am not alone, a lot of CEOs and senior executives confess that they do not disconnect well. They think about business a lot when they are gone, check in, keep their phone and email available, and are not as “present” on their vacation as they would like to be. As a fellow sufferer, I have studied how to be a better vacationer.  I tested some guidelines on a recent break in Mexico and they worked really well.

  1. Be gone for enough time to disengage–It takes me 1-2 days to disengage my mind and my sense of urgency from work. A three-day weekend is usually fun, but not truly a vacation because it does not allow me to totally release my mind from work. You have to give yourself enough time to break your rhythms of office life. I know for me that six days is the very minimum.
  2. Unplugging may not be possible, so ration–All of the items I have studied about this topic have advocated a 100 percent disconnection. I know they are right and I know it is not happening. So I ration instead 20-30 minutes of email when I get up in the morning. I delegate or defer almost all responses to someone on my team back home or until I return. The “no contact” rule is better, but beyond my human capacity, so I ration.
  3. Avoid digital temptations–Shut down the email, texting, and voice as much as possible. I am in Mexico watching three guys from my balcony overlooking the pool and beach. One is IN the pool on the phone, one is walking the beach on the phone, and one is at the bar on the phone. All are with their significant others. They can’t all be making dinner reservations. If the phone had been left in the room, they would not be on the call.
  4. Go places that require your involvement–Whether you golf, tour museums, do ATV tours, or go antiquing, there are activities in your life that require your full involvement. Do as many of those as possible on your vacation. Get out of your head.
  5. If you are a planner, have a plan–For planners, the idea of “making it up as we go” can create anxiety. A happy middle-ground is a couple of anchors in the day for events relieves some of the no-plan stress. A particular restaurant for a meal, a tour that has a set start time, or even a morning walk by the beach gives enough structure that the time does not feel out of control.
  6. Feed your mind, body, and spirit–Take a book, make certain to get thirty-to-sixty minutes of exercise, and take some time for reflection. It can be very re-energizing. My favorite reflection exercise is to take ten minutes, write a person’s name at the top of the page and list all of the positive things about that person that make me grateful.
  7. Keep a little pad of paper and pen with you–Ideas are going to come to you while you are on vacation, sometimes your best ones. If you can get them down on paper, you can get them out of your head and keep up with your vacation. If you don’t, you will obsess a bit on your idea and miss some of your relaxation.
  8. Don’t burn up on re-entry–My worst habit is to book my day solid the first day I get back into the office. I am immediately thrown into the deep, cold water of work with little time to acclimate. As best you can, try for a light schedule at least the first day back so that you don’t become a meteor, burning up on re-entry to the work’s atmosphere.
  9. Remember, you had the vacation, not your team–Your team has been working, so make certain that your boundless energy doesn’t become their endless task list. I used to have a boss a long time ago who was so concerned that everyone had goofed off while he was gone that his first week back he was a task-hurling S.O.B.–completely unnecessary, but I see it happen a lot.

Last updated: Mar 27, 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.
@tomsearcy

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Why You Should Be Transparent With Your Employees

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Hunt Big Sales | 0 comments

How much do we tell the employees about the money in the business? For small and mid-size business owners, there is often a lot of anxiety about sharing too much information. For employees, there is a strong desire to understand the business and its prospects for the future. If you are a privately held company, balancing this is tough. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Don’t give information without education. Providing any financial reports regardless of whether they are summaries, or complete traditional reports like your balance sheet, P/L and budget, should always be provided with a thorough education as to how the employee can read the data. It is possible that your employees do not have the background or training to fully understand these documents, so giving them the documents without education can be little more than distracting.
  • What’s it mean to them? When looking at the information that you provide, there needs to be a clear summary telling the employees what it means to them. They will likely have lots of relevant questions:
    • Is our company getting better or worse? More stable or vulnerable?
    • Is my job at risk?
    • What are we investing in to make us more successful in the future?

Employees look for context and relevance to the numbers.

  • What can I do? Along with providing context for the numbers themselves, it is also important to provide a road map for what you are doing as a company with the information and an ask for the employees. The ask during positive periods is simple–Keep doing your great work! The ask during negative periods may be around cost cutting, trimming waste, or helping to sell more. Be specific. Employees who believe in your company and its leaders want to know how they can contribute to its growing success or to overcome its current rough moment.

What to tell them

Every owner has a right to his or her own level of comfort in your transparency. I will also tell you that the companies who are attracting the best talent are moving towards greater transparency because smart employees want to know what is going on in the businesses for which they work. Here are some items you should consider when presenting and discussing the company’s finances with your employees:

  1. State of the industry–A regular discussion of the industry and how it is performing provides good context for the employees as to how the companies’ numbers should be considered. Even though they hear economic indicators in the news, what these mean to your industry and their jobs is much more relevant to them. By providing them this overview, your numbers have a frame in which to fit.
  2. What we do with profits–Somewhere in the media a misconception has been created about profits, that in some way they are bad or that there is a level that is too high. Part of this misconception comes from a lack of understanding of what owners do with the profits. Give your employees some perspective what is being re-invested, what is sustaining operations, what is retiring debt and what is being distributed to shareholders in general terms gives a clearer and probably a very favorable picture.
  3. What are we investing in–If you tell an employee “One out of every four dollars of profit last year was re-invested in equipment, plant and infrastructure,” he will understand that the investment was in keeping the business going and growing. Amounts are not as important as context and ratios to demonstrate where the money is going.
  4. Relative financial strength to like companies–Everyone wants to know where the company fits compared to other companies. They could be companies of similar size, in the same industry, region or even competitors- you choose. It is important to give a sense of performance in context.
  5. How the company is performing against its budgets and forecasts–Decisions mid-year are often made with an eye towards these performance indicators. Providing milestones and measures against those milestones helps.

The days of blind trust of the owners with the financials of the business have passed. People are concerned about the viability of their company, their own jobs and have they bet on the right horse. People will stick with you through rough times if they know what is going on and see a path to success. You do neither you nor them a favor by holding onto to the information because the speculation will always be there and without data, it will likely be negative.

IMAGE: Gallery Stock

Last updated: Mar 6, 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.
@tomsearcy

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There are No Guarantees on the Path to Success

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Hunt Big Sales | 0 comments

Speaking with Daniel Waldschmidt, author of “EDGY Conversations” is very much like drinking from a fire hose. His high energy and direct style have given him international success as an entrepreneur, investor, adviser, and now author. I had a chance to speak with him to get his perspective on what leaders need to do to be effective. Here are a few of his key ideas:

  • The old road map to success is broken. Waldschmidt believes that the old road map to success– get a degree, work hard, and success follows–is broken. For him, this represents a model that is a false promise. The vast majority who have followed this model have fallen well short of their dreams and their potential. The core problem is the principle that “doing” is the key rather than “being.” “Doing” is a prescription of activities, while “being” is about embodying your goals and drive. For him, establishing a clearer picture of who and what you are and what your intentional life outcomes are needs to come first. The road map changes as your life changes and there are no guarantees. It is the drive from your being that gives you what is necessary to adapt and succeed.
  • There is still time to change the road you are on. For people who realize they are trapped in an activity-based mindset, they need to break that mindset through being brutally honest about who they are with themselves. One way to do that is through intentional quiet moments of reflection. It sounds a bit New Age, but Waldschmidt’s point is that you cannot understand your core if you are crowding it constantly with “doing.” You need some time to touch base with your being. His research of top-performers shows a consistent pattern of this intentional personal reflection.
  • Universal truths for the abnormally successful. In preparing his book, Daniel researched high performers in a variety of categories and established his EDGY approach for high performance:
  1. Extreme Behavior–Pushing one’s self past what is expected to the level of behavior and performance at the highest level.
  2. Disciplined Activity–Intentional and focused work.
  3. Giving Mindset–A generous spirit in all things.
  4. Y(H)uman Strategy–Authentic connection to other people.

The high performers may have specific qualities to their area of performance that were unique to their field, but the highest performers all demonstrated sustained success with all four of the above traits.

  • Excuses are the poison of low performance. Waldschmidt’s work with entrepreneurs and existing companies also revealed the characteristics of low-performers and low-performing cultures. Although there are many qualities that can be named, the most poisonous was the tendency to make excuses. This reflects the separation of those who are defined by their “being” versus “doing” tendencies. Those in the second category believe that if they check all the boxes and follow all of the plans and things don’t work out, it’s not their fault. People in the first category believe that no matter what the current situation is, they can have an impact and change the outcome.

You can purchase EDGY Conversations by Daniel Waldschmidt here.

Last updated: Feb 27, 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.
@tomsearcy

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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.
@tomsearcy

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How Important Is Money to Your Sales Team?

Posted by on Feb 7, 2014 in Hunt Big Sales | 0 comments

We recently evaluated a sales team on how they felt about money by using a standardized test. A big part of the test was to determine each individual’s sense of worthiness of money and how their thinking patterns compared to the thinking patterns of people in various income brackets.

The sales people who believed themselves worthy of money had the same patterns of thinking of people in higher income brackets and were statistically kicking the heck out of their peers in sales. Combined with observations made by their direct supervisors, a picture emerged of people who discussed money, price, and value with the same natural confidence as weather, sports, and traffic.

Another group of people emerged from our study–self-saboteurs. These were people on performance plans, (HR code for “on the way out the door”), who often had a big disparity between how much they made (high), and the way they were wired to think about money (low). We noticed that if someone has the thought patterns of a $50,000/year earner and is making $100,000/year, they start to implode. Those people do not feel they deserve to be at the income level they are and so they do things that will get them back to where they believe they should be.

So, what does this mean for sales people and executives who hire sales people?

Being candid, my experience with thousands of sales people has taught me to look for certain thought patterns in sales people. Those who have them are more likely, though not guaranteed, to be more successful. Here are some of the things I look for:

  • Car, boat, cabin, or plane?–Financial ambition is often a good indicator of success. While just about every successful sales person has a desire to increase their income, most have an internal gauge for themselves of what having “made it” really means. The car/boat/cabin/plane question helps determine what each person believes signifies that they have made it. The point for me is to understand where that person sees himself or herself. And if someone does not have a clear picture of what having made it means, that tells me something as well.
  • How do they stack up?–Sales people’s ambitions are often framed in reference to the standards set by other people. Who are your sales people measuring themselves against? It probably isn’t Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, but whoever it is provides a good measure of your sales person’s goals. If it is modest, they may not be the best fit for the position you are hiring for.
  • What would mom and dad say?–We get a lot of our wiring about money from our upbringing. I was raised by an earner, rather than a saver. My thoughts reflect a desire to figure out ways to earn more money rather than worrying about how many lights are on in the house or if the furnace is set to 68 degrees. Other people were raised to haggle for every nickel, clip coupons, and always look for a deal. I am neither endorsing nor condemning either–but I want to know people’s wiring about money and understand if it is a good fit for their role.

If you are using money as a motivator for performance in your business, it is really critical to understand what it means to each person. I find that too often, leaders design programs around either the industry in which they operate or what motivates themselves. That is fine, if everyone is wired like you.

IMAGE: Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Last updated: Feb 6, 2014

 

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

Read More