Tip of the Month:

Intensity, Disagreement, and Conflict all OK – but lose the Anger

Dear Friends,

The best in any position in any company at any level, and I’m talking about the best, are tenaciously focused on hitting goals. This mindset by its very nature can create human combustion that exudes a whole lot of intensity, disagreement, conflict, and oftentimes anger.

Intensity is good. Disagreement is good. Conflict is good. While more difficult for some than others, there is no room for anger. It can absolutely shred a team – demoralize, de-motivate, distract, and if practiced on a reoccurring basis, create disdain.

If you’re a leader do your homework, ask pointed questions and challenge the team, but do so with intensity and your eye on the goal of making change, shaping behavior, or making clear decisions. If there are differing opinions, that is great. Engage in discussion that will re-set strategy or challenge the current thinking. This is all done to get to the truth and push an issue to a decision point. If there are departments that are having tension over strategic or tactical moves, then get in a room and work out a compromise to the apparent conflict, and, if conflict occurs during the meeting, it’s OK. In this case, conflict is good, because you are working toward resolve.

But I caution all of us. The minute we throw “ANGER” into the equation, people start shutting down. Anger makes it very personal. Anger causes a distraction from the real purpose of a discussion. Anger creates walls between people. Anger means a loss of control. And anger can be hurtful.

I’m not saying don’t get emotional, but give me individuals and organizations that are intense, can disagree, have conflict, and work toward resolve and I’ll show you a fighting winner. Insert anger and you run the risk of alienating any real communication and creating unhealthy fear in the work environment. Angry outbursts can cloud thinking, deviate from true purpose and burn through good individuals. Bottom line, it can just plain tear teams wide open. Stay cool in your quest for more, especially you over achieving animals. I know who you are. All the best everyone.

Tip of the Month

The truth is in the number of REAL testimonials you are getting

Dear Friends,

I don’t care what business you are in or what you do for a living. There are three possible things that are going on about you right now. Either nobody is talking about you, they’re talking favorably about you, or they’re talking poorly about you. If they aren’t talking about you, they either don’t have a thought or they have a positive or negative thought and just choose not to share it. There can’t be anything else going on and if you look at it that simply, then the goal should be to get people talking favorably about you as much as possible. After all, isn’t that the most credible thing that can happen in business? That someone speaks very favorably about you and your work? It should be a goal because a great testimonial adds tremendous credibility to our life’s work.

The first thing that people usually think about when they hear the word testimonial is a catchy quote from a trusted customer that gets plastered on a website or slick marketing piece. Its purpose is to demonstrate credibility to potential customers. It’s a solid strategy and one that I always recommend. But the real value of the testimonial is much deeper than that and the best ones don’t come wrapped around neat little quotes on an expensive flyer.

We live in a world where nothing is more powerful than a trusted source picking up the phone and saying, “Do business with him and you won’t be sorry. Let me tell you about my experience.” If your actions cause people to do that, then you will be tremendously successful. I am not taking about just sales here, I’m talking about business life and what makes the business food chain work. Those who perform get talked about favorably and, like a virus, it spreads. If it spreads, those who perform do better.

How many people are calling you and wanting to do business with you because they were talking to a friend and your name came up? How many compliments are you getting from your boss or peers about the job you are doing? When was the last time you were recruited by a competitor? Do you think your name even comes up? If it does, and if it is favorable, then you are getting a verbal testimonial – someone is “sneezing” your name. That is powerful. All the best everyone.

Tip of the Month

The much overlooked key ingredient to goal setting

Dear Friends,

Here’s the difference between those who set “real” goals and those who don’t. REAL goals must be meaningful, measurable, and attainable. But in my experience, it goes much deeper than that and there is a fourth measurement that almost always gets overlooked. Yet it is more important than meaningful, measurable, and attainable. It is the heart and soul of setting and reaching goals and without it, you are doomed. That is, YOU REALLY HAVE TO WANT IT!

Here’s one example: As a person who spends six days a week in a gym somewhere and has for over ten years, you can count on crowded health clubs at the beginning of every January. Sweat pours off of those who have drawn the line on procrastination, self-avoidance, lack of balance, and generally unhealthy behavior.

So why is it then that health clubs are packed in January and empty in March? The reason the crowd gets “right sized” and only the regulars and the few who broke through remain is very simple. Those who stick with their goals, really, really, really, want to. They find pleasure and reward in the pursuit. They become addicted to the feeling they get from strenuous activity. They focus on the results that they are getting from the hard work, and THEY LOVE IT. Their true intention is to work out and nothing will keep them from the gym.

The truth is we don’t do what we don’t want to do for very long. If we really dislike exercising, or if we really view it as a time stealer, or if we truly don’t see the payoff, we aren’t going to stay with it. If our goals (any goals) are painful or unimportant to a point that we practice avoidance, we will never, ever, ever, hit the goal. If we find pleasure in the fight for the goal, and if we see a major payoff, we will stick with it. It is just that simple. We must love what we are after. We must become possessed by achieving our goals.

Some of my 2007 goals didn’t even hit my radar screen, because at the end of the day, I REALLY DIDN’T WANT THEM. I’m going to be smarter this year and incorporate the fourth most important ingredient into goal setting. I will make sure my goals are meaningful, measurable, and attainable. Most importantly, I will make sure that the goals I set are ones that I REALLY WANT. I know it sounds simple, but self honesty can be difficult. At the end of the year, at the end of the timeframe you set for the goal, there’s nowhere to hide.

Tip of the Month

When it comes to your career, DO YOU MEAN IT?

Dear Friends,

Why is it that some people have the creative persistence to pursue their goals regardless of what appears to be insurmountable odds? How come most of the great athletes seem to never know when to retire, almost always being forced from the game they love only when their bodies will no longer execute at a required competitive level? And how is it that somebody brand new can walk into an industry with absolutely no experience and in a very short period of time be absolutely on top of the food chain?

I believe I know why – it’s a combination of two things. First and foremost, they have tremendous belief in themselves. They have the intelligence and self-confidence to “crack the code” on what it takes to be successful. Virtually unafraid to change course when required, and willing to do absolutely what is necessary to compete with those around them, these unique individuals do not understand the word “fail.” Set backs are constant, but failure? It’s not an option.

Secondly and equally as important, they absolutely 100%, unequivocally, without any reservation, completely and passionately believe in what they are doing. In their minds, and folks it doesn’t even have to be true, but in their minds, the company they represent, the product they offer, the service they provide, the niche that they fill, is absolutely the best possible solution for their clients that exists.

How do you beat that? How do you stop a force so powerful that it is impervious to being sidetracked for very long by slumps, misfortune, bad luck, weak bosses, poor market conditions, or anything else that is counterproductive to success?

I know people like this. In fact that is who I choose to spend my time with, learn from, socialize with, and without a doubt am always sponging from their knowledge base. They are not as rare as you think. They are the ones at the top of their game or fighting to get there.

When it comes to your career, DO YOU REALLY MEAN IT? If you do, then you are filled with two things – first, unrelenting belief in yourself, and second, non-negotiable conviction that you represent the very best. If that is true for you, then YOU REALLY MEAN IT and you are unstoppable, one way or another. If you don’t mean it, you will swim in a sea of mediocrity and I suggest you consider making a change. I really mean it.

Tip of the Month

Go hard or go easy…Which one is more difficult?

Dear Friends,

I consider myself a pretty fast read on people. Regardless of where anyone sits on the food chain, I’m always on the lookout for those who are engaged and IN their business versus those who are disconnected and lackadaisical. I can usually tell after spending a short period of time with someone, just how absorbed they are in their livelihoods.

For the sake of argument, let’s put people in two different boxes for a moment. In the first box, there are those that go hard every day. They are on a daily mission to advance any and every agenda that is in front of them. They have a reputation as “doers” and they are acutely aware of the critical actions that they need to complete each and every day. They want to look back and say, “I had a good day – I moved the critical things forward.” While they aren’t successful each and every day, in fact often their goals are too steep, they know that it is the fight that counts. They know that it is in dealing in the “tough” issues that progress will be made. They wouldn’t have it any other way because they are driven to get better.

In the second box, there are those who tend to take life as it comes there way. They have potential, but they do not assert themselves the way those in the first box do. They spend time thinking about asserting themselves, but they rarely act upon it. In fact, they are not proactive when it comes to tough issues. They’ve programmed themselves to avoid “tough” and deal in the less difficult. They would prefer a day filled with reacting to issues versus a day of proactively attempting to accomplish some hefty goals. “Busy work” gets between them and executing on the difficult issues. They are not assertive, but they wish they were more so. They associate “lofty” goals with the pain that it takes to get there. So instead, they stay in the coziness of administering their life in a predictable, safe way.

I tend to have this debate that goes on in my head over these two different types of people who are found in sales, marketing, operations, managerial and executive levels. The debate focuses on which of the two is traveling down a more difficult road. The one that that is bumpy, challenging, and difficult to negotiate? Or the safe, paved, known road that leads to the same place every day to the town of “Safeville.” Before you decide if the road you are traveling is the right one, truthfully ask yourself how happy you are. The truth is, “Safeville” is a very difficult place to live for many people. If that’s the case for you, I’d suggest moving.

Tip of the Month

It’s our choice: Victim or Victor

Dear Friends,

I was in a meeting with an executive last week discussing company expansion of their sales team when he posed the following question, “Chuck, where are all the hungry people?” He was referring to a lack of seemingly passionate, motivated potential sales prospects that he had interviewed. About as quick as he said it, I replied with, “How hungry are you?” It turned out that it was a perfect opportunity to emphasize the point that he and his company had been struggling with. The culture had been experiencing a lot of finger pointing, blaming, and procrastination. In my view, his question tied directly to a challenging problem: a lack of personal accountability.

I’m talking about taking personal responsibility for achieving goals that aren’t that easily achieved. The above example shows a clear lack of personal accountability. While I would agree that it is very difficult to find great salespeople, they are certainly out there. I would also say that if you use the traditional Craig’s List, Monster.com, bottom fishing approach, odds are you aren’t going to find great salespeople. Think there are other options? The point is how much REAL work was going into recruiting top notch people? Want the truth? An ad or two and wait for the phone to ring. As a result, I get the “victim” question, “Where are all the hungry people?” Give me a break.

Here’s another example. A sales rep for one of my clients recently lost a sale that she had been working on for the past three months. Instead of saying “I was outsold,” I heard about the poor pricing, the product flaws, and the lack of inside support in getting the deal done. If I would have stayed to listen long enough, I would have heard that she lost the deal because the other company gave it away for free and that’s what her company should have done. She was outsold, period. It would have been mildly uplifting to have heard, “Darn, I got beat. Here’s how I’m going to avoid that next time.” Finger pointing is a choice, just as is personal accountability.

The next time I go to point the finger at someone or something else, I’m going to make my index finger do a 180 degree turn and point it right into my own chest. Then I’m going to ask myself the following three questions:

What could I have done differently?
Where do I need to improve so that next time I put myself in a better position to win?
What actions can I take right now to make myself better?

Personal accountability is about avoiding the victim thinking that so many of us have a tendency to fall back on. It’s about taking a stand and saying “NO EXCUSES!” It’s about a mindset that avoids procrastination and focuses on problem solving, forward momentum, self improvement, and absolutely killing the “victim” that human nature has planted inside many of us.

By the way, there is an easy answer to, “Chuck, where are all the hungry people?” The answer is, “They’re working. So let’s go find them!”

Tip of the Month

Don’t forget to take out the garbage

Dear Friends,

You know, It is a rare individual who can keep there ego in check at all times. I usually know when mine is getting out of whack. The little things in life that don’t go my way begin to bother me. When this happens, my productivity suffers. When my productivity suffers, my income suffers. The “little things” I’m referring to are only “little” in reflection. At the time, I think they’re BIG. But they aren’t. It’s just my ego that needs to be right sized. Things like:

  • A client who is slow to implement my coaching recommendations
  • A check not arriving exactly on time
  • An audience who is not responding exactly like I’d envisioned
  • A peer who is receiving recognition for the roll they are on at this moment
  • A meeting that I wasn’t invited to

In all of these situations, this is just Chuck demanding to have a “World according to Chuck.” That my friends, as you may know, is a losing proposition. Life just doesn’t always go according to our schedule, and if we are going to get hung up on the bumps along the way, we are forever going to lead a less than serine existence. And, we’re going to be far less productive in our quest to get more.

Usually, when I pause long enough to reflect on what is REALLY bothering me, I find that it is something that I said or did or didn’t do that is at the root of my anxiety or discomfort. Almost 100% of the time, I’m suffering from some sort of a bruised ego and it is hardly these little “gnats” that buzz around my daily life that are a problem at all. It’s usually something about me.

So here is a suggestion to those of you who can relate to the “little” things that we let drag us down. Take out the garbage. That’s right, go immediately to your garbage can, waste basket in your office, trash compactor in your home, dumpster, or even your garbage disposal, and throw these things away. Throw out all the garbage that our “ego” gets us into and rid yourself of the useless mind time dedicated to dragging you down. Then turn your focus to staying in our own lane, focusing on the vitals that make you better, earn more and grow more.

For me, if my ego is intact, then I’m more flexible with the world and I find myself pausing to “smell the roses.”.

Tip of the Month

Are you having any fun in your career? You better be.

Dear Friends,

I was playing golf recently with a gentleman who was really at odds with his game. He wasn’t a bad player, but he was extremely negative about his shots, his scoring, and the difficulty required to being a consistent striker of the ball. While he really was a pretty good player, with all the negatives running around in his head, he didn’t have a prayer. As important, he just wasn’t having any fun and it permeated throughout his whole round.

Transfer with me this same thinking over to business, and particularly sales. Are you having fun? I’m going to tell you that you better be, or my bet is that you are in for a long and mediocre career. Or if you are lucky, it’s a very short career and hopefully you’ll find something that you enjoy doing. I don’t believe that anybody can excel at what they are doing unless they are having fun. It’s human nature. We don’t do what we don’t like doing for very long. If we are “grinding away” at our careers, similar to the golfer described above, we’re either eventually going to burn out, get spit out, or at the very least lead a sales life of misery.

So let me ask you this, who buys from misery? Who buys from “grinder?” Who buys from the self absorbed individual who is never satisfied? Who buys from Mr. Negative? Who buys from Mr. No Fun? If you buy into the premise that long term successful selling means networking, relationship building, and doing the things required to attracting business via referrals and the like, then Mr. No Fun will be too preoccupied with what’s wrong to attract any meaningful business. Said simply, nobody buys from Mr. No Fun.

Chalk the bad days up to “life happens” and move on. Don’t fuel your bad day with your own promotion of the fact that you are having a bad day. Hunker down and get through it. It hasn’t killed you yet and odds are it won’t. So just survive your bad day and come back tomorrow and have some fun doing what you love. Sometimes just surviving is a successful day. Have fun knowing it will pass.

Like golf, there is nowhere to hide in sales. Your results are your results. Like in golf where you are certain to hit bad shots, in sales you will have bad days. In golf you have to really “believe” in your shots. This holds true in what you are selling also. If you’re not having fun in golf, you won’t play the game for very long, and if you’re not having fun in sales, you won’t play that game very long either. Like Golf, I wish I could say it’s only a game, but it’s more than that. It’s your career, an even more important reason to have fun doing it.

All the best my friends.

Tip of the Month

Deal with your BIG, HAIRY, issues…. You’ll feel better about YOU

Dear Friends,

I woke up on Saturday morning after a restless nights sleep. I was thinking about the same issue that had been burning in my brain since mid week that had been eating at me.

It got me to wondering what people think about on Saturday morning when they wake up fresh off the previous weeks work. Do they even think about the previous weeks work? Some people can just turn it off. That can be a pretty foreign mentality for me. Nevertheless, I’m speculating that our Saturday morning state of mind can generally be put in one of three categories:

  • Category 1 – Relaxing, serene, feel good state of mind because most things are in order and life is advancing nicely. Self esteems running high and it’s time to do the Saturday things that we generally do. There is a certain cadence to our weekend. We feel ahead of the curve. Errands we don’t want to run, movies we don’t really want to see, phone calls from relatives we really don’t want to talk to, bring on the challenges because we can handle what the weekend throws at us.
  • Category 2 – Anxious, restless, unfulfilled thoughts of open issues that could and should have been handled. We’re a little perturbed and disappointed with ourselves and now its time to grind our way through the Saturday things that we generally do. We’re tired, and in the back of our mind, rising to the forefront all too often, is the business that we should have taken care of. We know it and we feel the weight of a piano on our back.
  • Category 3 – Who cares, it’s the weekend. Life’s a major challenge. It is what it is and I’m not much into it anyway. Let’s get the Saturday stuff done, or not. The heck with it, it will be here next week. And about last week, it’s like all the other weeks. I’m doing my job and I live for the weekends. But, my weekends could be a lot better.

Try this as you approach your next week:

  1. Make your usual list of what has to get done in the week ahead.
  2. On that same list, highlight the most important, difficult, sensitive and critical things that if you complete and/or advance, will ease your mind and likely advance your goals.
  3. On that same list, add the following statement, “I will deal with all difficult issues that are not on my list as they arise.”

Fully commit to numbers 2 and 3, and regardless of the outcome, because you gave it all that you had, I expect you will enjoy your next weekend. Enjoy category 1 and repeat the process.

All the best my friends.

Tip of the Month

The New Sales Revolution

Youíre in or you’re on the way out

Dear Friends,

“How many calls did you make today?” Forget it. It’s old school thinking. Selling, as we once knew it is dying, and the hard sell “pusher” that we once recognized as the stereotypical salesperson is dying right along with their archaic strategy. Today, potential buyers, clients, customers, call them what you want, are more sophisticated, intelligent, and informed. Information is at their fingertips and they are able to access it quickly. Because of this, they are armed, ready, have far more options and limited time and patience. You had better be good at what you do because most potential customers have done their homework. Whether you are in an industry that sells directly to consumers or business to business, it’s the buyers who are qualifying the salespeople, making sure that they are good enough to serve them.

If you are in sales, here are a few warning signs that you are dead and you don’t even know it:

  1. You spend the majority of your time cold calling.
  2. A key measurement by your manager is the amount of cold calls that you make.
  3. The entire marketing strategy of your organization is push, push, push.

Friends, if you fit into the above, you have a lot in common with the evolution of the dinosaur and will come to intimately understand their plight.

The best salespeople will think strategically about their position in the market, their ability to attract to their customer profile. Smart salespeople will focus on visibility as they promote their unique approach to meeting customers’ needs. Smart salespeople will be there to pull their new customers in when they are ready to buy. They will market to create visibility by using multiple resources. They focus on solving problems for their customers – removing their pain with a customized solution. When opportunity strikes, they are EXTREMELY OPPORTUNISTIC. I know all about hard sell salespeople. I used to be one, but I joined the revolution.

All the best my friends.