Thursday, June 19, 2014

Taking the Right Actions

If you have been in sales for any period of time you have probably experienced some type of slump.  It happens.  The problem, sometimes, with a slump is that it affects your mood.  And of course, in sales, if your mood is affected, it affects your sales.  It can be a vicious cycle. 

The other challenge is, a slump sometimes makes us focus on the wrong things.  We become solely focused on end results.  Results are really important of course.  But if we want long term success, they are the wrong thing to (solely) focus on in the short term.  We can't MAKE someone buy.  We can guide them.  We can help them.  We should.

Instead, when in a slump focus on the things you can control.  Get inside what Stephen Covey would call your "circle of influence."  Go back to basics and focus on activities that you do if you had no customers.  Prospect, cold call, network, meet, etc.  You know the activities.  Focus completely on those activities. 

This will do several things:

1)  Get you focused on things you CAN control.  There is power in taking action.
2)  Create success that will last past this week.  These activities create long term success...not just this week.
3)  Keep you from "rushing" someone.  When we are in a slump sometimes we are so excited to get someone to buy that we "rush" them.  The sale becomes about us...not them.  People can feel that. 

So if you find yourself in a slump, focus on activities.  The results will take care of themselves.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I Don't Mean To Be...

During my final semester at college I had landed a full time job and was driving to finish school each day.  One day I was running late to class and sped onto campus at West Liberty University and pulled into the dreaded "faculty parking."  I was willing to chance the ticket.

As I was grabbing my bag out of the car I could feel someone standing behind me.  It was a professor.  He said, "I don't mean to be presumptuous, but..."

To which I said, "Too late!" 

Whenever you start the sentence with "I don't mean to be..." everyone knows you do mean to be.  You just want to qualify it.  That's fine.  But it doesn't change the fact.

And in case you are wondering, yes, I did get the ticket.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Love It When A Plan Comes Together

I was looking through the channels the other day and saw a re-run of the old A-Team series.  It was a hilarious collection of cheesy dialogue and silly explosions.  Great 80's entertainment.  Of course the end of the show always has Hannibal (with a big stogey in his mouth) say "I love it when a plan comes together!"

I am reminded of that line this morning because it's a big week in Coshocton County.  Today, the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) comes pedaling into town and will be here for the next few days.  Then, this weekend, we will be host to an awesome adventure race called the Indian Mud Run.  Both events are the result of countless hours of work behind the scenes.  Both events are great examples of what can be done to positively impact the volunteers. 

So please enjoy the events.  Please welcome the bikers.  Please join us and get muddy at the Indian Mud Run.  The more the merrier!

Thanks so much to all the volunteers that have made it happen.  I love it when a plan comes together!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Not Every Opinion Matters

I have been guilty of being a "people pleaser" from time to time.  It bothers me when I make people mad.  I want them to like me.  I want to be accepted.  It's human nature, I think.  We all want to be liked and accepted. 

But here's a truth that has taken me a long time to realize:  Not every opinion really matters. 

Don't take this as the cynical statement that it sounds like.  It's not that am dissing half the population.  I'm not. 

It's just that as you create the life you want, not everyone will understand.  Not everyone will be along for the ride.  Not everyone will agree or appreciate the path you have chosen...or all the choices you make. 

And that's ok.  As long as you really understand what you want to create.  As long as you are truly happy with the life you have chosen, their opinion doesn't matter. 

Not everyone's opinion matters.  Just yours.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

#MSM Let's Start a New Monday Tradition

We have all heard it.  We have all seen it.  People all over the country (and probably the world) struggle with Mondays.  We can discuss the why's of how this came to be, and whether it should be, but that will likely not change the fact that many people are in a bad mood on Mondays.

So I say we start a movement to improve it.  Let's start "Make Someone's Monday" or #MSM.  Let's create a new campaign that allows you to improve the day of those around you, and in turn, probably improve your own day as well.

How?  It can be as simple as a random act of kindness.  But if you need ideas, here is a simple list on how you can #MSM.

Reach out to a friend you haven't spoken to in a while and tell them you miss them.
Be sincere.
Send a card.
Give a hug.
Give a gift.
Send flowers.

Mainly, just reach out.  Act.  Don't wait.  Make Someone's Monday.  Who knows how many people we can touch.

Ready?  Go!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

8 Tips on Being Positive and Productive

Within the last couple of weeks I have had quite a few people ask me how I "get so much done."  It's an interesting question because I am always wanting to do more.  I don't feel like I am doing all I want!  My wife would probably agree!  (Love ya Amy!). 

During that same time I have had several people ask me how I "stay positive."  It seems (to me at least) that the two go hand in hand, so I thought I would share my "Positive Productivity" tips for each day.
1)  Wake up early:  I find that I can get quite a few things done before everyone else is up or the phone is ringing. 

2)  Input Positive Into the Brain First Thing:  I think many people start their day with the local news, Facebook or TV.  That's fine, but if you know that 90% of what you see (or read) is going to be negative, then that is what you are feeding your brain first.  I try to focus on inspirational articles.  I read Seth Godin's blog.  I check out  Whatever inspires you...put that in first!  That helps me put things in perspective and get the day started right.

3)  Exercise:  Don't worry, this doesn't mean you have to run 15 miles or do P90X each morning (though you can!).  Studies show that just 20 to 30 minutes of walking will help stimulate you physically AND mentally.  So just raise your heart rate and get your blood flowing and you will be more productive (and smarter) all day!

4)  Schedule Important Stuff:  It is so easy to be busy all day but not be productive.  We are all busy.  Frankly I think it's the most over-used word in our culture.  It's a cop out.  Life is (and always has been) about choices.  If you want to write a book, schedule just a little time each day when you work on JUST that.  The same is true for exercise.  As the old saying goes, "Put the Big Rocks In First."  The rest of the day will fill up...don't worry!

5)  When In Doubt, Do:  I read a book recently called the 10X Rule by Grant Cardone where he said that Fear is fueled by Time.  So if you fearful about what to do, the longer you wait, the bigger the fear gets!  So don't feed fear with time.  Just act.  Don't try to figure the whole thing out.  Just do the next right thing.  If you act, you snuff out uncertainty.  (Oh and as a bonus, if you are a little scared, that probably means  you are doing the right thing!).

6)  Try To Make Others Laugh:  It's amazing how much I get out of others laughing.  It brightens my whole day!

7)  Focus on Activity:  I think in sales and business we can focus too much on certain numbers.  When I want to sell more, I almost always need to increase my activity.  Of course it needs to be the right kind of activity.  But if you do the right things, and do it more than your competitors, you win.  

8)  Get Rest:  It's amazing how many people ignore this.  You can get something extra done by burning the midnight oil...once.  But the more often you go without rest, the less productive your mind becomes.  You lose huge amounts of brainpower each time you deprive your body of rest.  Get more rest and you will be more productive.

I have never pretended to be a productivity guru.  But we all want to get things done.  This is my list of things I try to do to make each day both Positive and Productive. 

What are your tips?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Making Your Distributorship More Consultative

Okay so this title of the blog will likely not make it the most read article of my career, but I think there might be some value for those of us in the Promotional Products industry.  Here is an email I received and my response.  Enjoy!

Just got 5 copies of your book for the team here.... Looks like it will be an interesting read.

Have you tried to position your company as a hybrid advertising agency/SWAG supplier? 

I'm looking at focusing on more of the service side of the business, creating stories/case studies to help achieve clients marketing objectives.  Moving away from just an order taker to consultative sell.  Initial feedback from some of clients has been positive but getting them to action this has been a little tougher.  Any tips?

First things first, thanks for purchasing the book!  I appreciate it.  Hope you like it! 

I would say we have worked to be a “hybrid” as you mentioned.  We have a marketing consulting side of the business as well as a video production team.  That being said, the biggest part of our business remains the promotional products side.

As for tips, I would say “keep after it.”  If you are switching more to a consultative style of selling, you can’t make that switch over night.  My guess is, some of your sales team may never make it!  It just depends.  But the key, I think, is to keep showing up in the market like this every day.

Keep asking questions…sometimes this is the hardest.  When someone says they want to order t-shirts, it’s hard not to just say “great” and walk out with the order.  But if you ask, “why are you doing t-shirts?” or “How are you delivering the t-shirts” or to who “will they be going?” etc. you might find new opportunities to serve them.  You might find that t-shirts is not the best item for them to use.  It's possible that they have not thought of delivery, etc.

Be willing to recommend something else.  I was talking to Mark Graham (from Commonsku) the other day about this.  If we really want to be consultants, we need to be willing to recommend something else if it fits better.  Hopefully there is a promotional products play too, but if not, tell them.  This hurts (for sure) in the short term, but will pay in the short term.

I think a Promotional industry full of consultants not only makes our companies makes the industry stronger as well.