Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Leaving Voicemails -- A Question From The Manta.com Forum

Leaving effective voicemails increases your sales credibility.It's been an interesting year and we have had the good fortune of partnering with outstanding people working at some wonderful companies. One of those partnerships is with the good people at ECNext, the creative minds behind the business portal, Manta.com.

Amongst the Manta community, members have the ability to ask questions regarding sales, small business operations, and management. They can also review prospective companies and update information on their own corporate profiles.

Over the past few months we've seen a host of questions from the Manta community. There's a definite pattern of concern raised by sales peopele on how to increase sales effectiveness--no doubt a direct result from the current economic climate. Here is one of the questions from the community regarding effective use of voicemails:

Screen Name: Manta Member

Question: After leaving 25 voice mails and sending several emails, how do I get a reply from my sales prospect?

Manta Member,

It depends on the timeframe that you have sent these 25 voicemails. If you have made 25 different voicemails over the span of a year, then it’s time to become more aggressive. Increase your calls and mix in some direct mail (email or USPS) along with some personal appearances.

On the other hand, if you left 25 voicemails to the same person within the last week, then you’ve probably moved into the realm of being an annoyance. It’s time to scale back on quantity and focus on quality.

In both cases, knowing what the person wants is crucial. If you don’t know what they want, then your voicemails, as well as your overall sales and marketing effort, will be useless. It’s like shooting arrows at a target that you can’t see and have no idea where it is located.

Once you know what the person wants, then you can use a creative opening that will get their attention. I’ve seen people create out-of-the-box openings that grabbed a client’s attention and yielded a response. I’ve seen sales reps use the curiosity approach effectively and get responses. I’ve seen sales reps leave compelling complements and get responses. The key here is that they all know something about the prospect and they tailored the message to what they wanted. If you are leaving voicemails like I used to: “Hi, my name is Larry Prevost from ABC company. Call me at 408-555-1212”, I can guarantee you that you will not get a response. That’s not a voicemail, that’s a birth announcement. It does nothing for grabbing the client’s attention and there is no compelling reason for them to call you back.

On the other hand, something like, “Bob; 20% of car dealerships won’t weather the current economic crisis. Two of our clients, however, have taken steps that, in the last month, have put them in the top 10% producers nationwide. I’ll call you on Thursday to discuss what they did and see if this will work for you. Larry Prevost, ABC Company, 408-555-1212.” Now, if this is an owner of a car dealership and they have even remotely been following the news, you have their attention, you have their curiosity, and at the very least, they will be expecting your call. On the other end, they may just take it on themselves to call you.

Again, I emphasize that you need to know something about what your prospect wants.

One more point to emphasize. Contact multiple people within the company. If you have them, now is the time to work them. If you don’t have them, now is the time to get some. I can’t tell you how many times that I have had something going with a prospect and everything is going well. Suddenly, all contact with my prospect stops. After leaving 10 to 12 voicemails with my prospect, a call to the gatekeeper or the front desk reveals that my contact has had a stroke [or some other debilitating ailment] and no one knows when, or if, they will be back.

So to recap, make sure that you know something about what your prospect wants, and make sure that you are visible to multiple contacts within the company.

For more information on Manta.com or to become a member, go to Manta.com and create your online account today.

Monday, December 22, 2008

From The Desk of Ed Eppely

A message from our senior leadership team.

Dear clients and friends,

I think we can all agree that this has been a challenging year for everyone. As the stock market continues to waver, the credit markets remain frozen and the government continues to it's effort to repair the current economic condition, here's what I don't know about the situation confronting our mutual businesses:

  • I don't know how long the economic uncertainty will last.

  • I don’t know how well the government's efforts will work.

Here's what I do know:

  1. You can't "expense your way to victory" in soft or declining markets. In fact, most businesses can't cut enough expenses to remain viable in prolonged down markets.

  2. These unusual conditions are forcing companies to make choices about marginal performers that should have been made months or years ago.

  3. Likewise many of these same companies are being forced to decide whether they will operate their business in a manner consistent with their stated values. It’s interesting to see how senior management responds to short-term problems vs. prolonged significant gut-wrenching strife.

  4. Right now we all want leadership from our boss, our spouse, our pastor, priest, rabbi, mullah, governor and president. Employees, vendors and customers want to see the senior management of every company lead their organizations. We all want to know that those in charge have a credible plan to help us navigate these uncertain times.

Having experienced at least three downturns of this kind before, here's what I would tell anyone who asked for my opinion on how to survive and thrive right now.

  1. Make a list of the things you/your department, company or family can control vs. the things you can't.

  2. Set at least 2 quantifiable goals (outcomes with dates) for each thing you can control that when accomplished will make some kind of progress. Then ruthlessly pursue those goals.

  3. Make mistakes of commission, not omission. Swing the bat! Throw caution to the wind. Now more than ever you have to get outside your comfort zone.

  4. Exercise hard at least three times per week. Now more than ever you need to find an emotional release. You'll sleep better, you'll feel better.

  5. Confide in your spouse, seek the counsel of those who have been through tough times. Our significant others want to help us. Give the gift of letting them do so. So often we think the good old days never saw anything like today. Nothing could be further from the truth. Someone smarter than me said many years past, "every generation must beat out anew the truth."

Finally, remember we tend to fear that which we don’t understand. There is a Cycle of Change that every company should explain to their people right now. This Cycle helps people understand what they currently have or what they could experience emotionally. Helping our employees become aware of what they feel doesn't make their emotions go away. But it dramatically changes their attitudes when they learn that it is predictable.

I don't have all the answers. But I do know that these trying times create amazing opportunities for those who fight the right battles and don't fall prey to a victim mentality.

Best wishes to you and your families from all of us at Dale Carnegie of Ohio & Indiana.

Ed Eppley,
Senior Vice President, Dale Carnegie Training of Ohio and Indiana

DcarnegieTraining is Back Online

After overcoming some mighty challenges, the team at Dreamhost finally got the dead server replaced and all of the data either restored or transfered to other servers.

This means that our seventh site, DCarnegieTraining, is operational again with all of it's content in place. I'd like to say that we got lucky. But when you dig past luck, you typically find a group of dedicated individuals who work tirelessly and creatively to make things happen.

This event was no different.

They may not face the same physical challenges as the the guys that go out in the cold to repair power lines or the crew that goes out in the middle of the night to repair water mains, but when your infrastructure is down, somebody is under pressure to bring it back up. When you take into account the size of some of these servers, and the complexity of the configurations, you get a better appreciate of what some of these guys have to go through.

So here's to all of the guys in the back office who work tirelessly to keep our front offices running, but typically get no recognition or appreciation for it.

Thanks guys.

Once again, you can access the Dale Carnegie Human Relations Principles here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Internet Explorer Exploit Update

Here is an update on the Microsoft Internet Explorer Security exploit mentioned earlier.

If you are running Internet Explorer, you are strongly encouraged to install the patch.

You can find it on the Sales IT Tech blog.

Happy Browsing

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Training and Event Updates for December 17 2008

Have you ever wanted to manage the learning and professional development programs that your members of your team take?

Do your team members undertake various programs and courses to satisfy your in house compliance programs, but you have no idea of who has taken what courses, how far along they are in their certificate programs, or what expertise each member has that the entire group can leverage?

Do you assess the capabilities of your team members on a regular basis as a prerequisite to determining the types of training and coaching that they will need?

These are a few of the questions that we'll be answering in the coming year. Come back to our blog and our sites often. We'll have announcements in the coming weeks regarding these changes.

Meanwhile, here are the program updates for personal management, productivity and communication coaching programs in the Midwest states of Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Central Indiana.

Interpersonal Communications, Leadership and Public Speaking

Dale Carnegie Course: Effective Communication and Human Relations

Strictly Business: The Dale Carnegie Immersion Seminar

Sales and Sales Communication

The Sales Advantage

Make Sales: How to Jump Start Your Selling Career

Leadership and Management

Leadership Training for Managers

The Leadership Advantage

Group Communication, Public Speaking, Presentation and Platform Skills

High Impact Presentations

Supplemental Events

Coming soon. Stay tuned.

Internet Explorer Exploit

For all of you sales reps out there.

Just posted about a security hole in Internet Explorer that could leave your system vulnerable to intrusion.

Since most of us use browsers to access our online tools like salesforce.com, linkedin.com and Google Apps, it might be a prudent precaution to stay alert to this security flaw.

Details at Sales IT Tech

Monday, December 15, 2008

System Outage

I guess it was bound to happen at some point.

One of our web vendors (Dreamhost) had a file/web server blow up making some of our material unavailable (www.dcarnegietraining.com). They are working on replacing the system as we speak.

We’ll keep you posted on when it will be back. More details on Sales IT Tech.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Increase Laptop Security And Peace Of Mind With These 3 Ideas


Ignorance may be bliss, but it can also be costly and damaging. Second post on laptop and desktop security to prevent the average technical joe from getting access to our sensitive data.

Laptop Security Part 2: Keep Information Private With 3 Simple Technical Adjustments

Monday, December 1, 2008

Change We Can Use


Yet another change implemented. We have upgraded our look as well as our title.

Email me at larry_prevost@dcarnegietraining.com with your ideas on future developments.

Good Selling.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tech Ideas for Your Laptop


Just started a line of posts about laptop security. First 4 tactics for laptop and desktop security. Common sense ideas that are commonly overlooked.

Sales IT Tech: Securely Lock Down Your Laptop With These 4 Simple Tactics

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dale Carnegie Interpersonal Principles


Just added a new section onto the dcarnegietraining website that lists all of the interpersonal principles. You will find them here:

Dale Carnegie Principles

The Stress Principles will follow shortly.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Training and Event Updates For November 25 2008

New look coming after Turkey day.

Meanwhile, here are the program updates for personal management, productivity and communication programs in the Midwest states of Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Central Indiana.

Interpersonal Communications, Leadership and Public Speaking

Dale Carnegie Course: Effective Communication and Human Relations

Strictly Business: The Dale Carnegie Immersion Seminar

Sales and Sales Communication

The Sales Advantage

Make Sales: How to Jump Start Your Selling Career

Leadership and Management

Leadership Training for Managers

The Leadership Advantage

Group Communication, Public Speaking, Presentation and Platform Skills

High Impact Presentations

Supplemental Events

Coming soon. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Training and Event Updates for November 20 2008

Ooops! Had a rather engaging beginning of the week and fell slightly behind in the updates. But we do have some rather exciting things happening here and some really wild things planned for the coming year. So stay tuned. Happy Thursday.

Here are this week's updates for personal management, productivity and communication programs in the Midwest states of Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Central Indiana.

Interpersonal Communications, Leadership and Public Speaking

Dale Carnegie Course: Effective Communication and Human Relations

Strictly Business: The Dale Carnegie Immersion Seminar

Sales and Sales Communication

The Sales Advantage

Make Sales: How to Jump Start Your Selling Career

Leadership and Management

Leadership Training for Managers

The Leadership Advantage

Group Communication, Public Speaking, Presentation and Platform Skills

High Impact Presentations

Supplemental Events

Coming soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Today is the day to place your vote.

Make your voice heard.

Go Make Something Happen!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Email Marketing Ideas using Dale Carnegie Principles

Dale Carnegie Principles can be used in your direct email campaigns.And now that I’ve finished my rant from earlier, here is a useful item that jumped out at me a few days ago.

I’m a big fan of Dan Kennedy. I’ve read many of his books, including his “No BS” series. I’ve found numerous instances of the Dale Carnegie principles in his material; some reworded in a subtle fashion to make his point, while others hit you in the face like a $50 bag of nickels.

In my copious spare time, I’ve been compiling a list of examples of how the Dale Carnegie principles apply to direct marketing using Kennedy’s books as a reference in addition to what we’ve discovered through our own efforts.

I also try to stay updated on stuff happening in the blogosphere. Naturally, I have my Google alerts set to trigger on certain key words (one guess as to what I have as one of those trigger words).

So imagine my surprise when this little gem popped up on my radar. It details how the Dale Carnegie principles can be used in email marketing campaigns and is written by email experts Alex Madison and Lisa Harmon. The authors do emphasize a point that we talk about in our sales programs. That is, “personalize [email] when it adds value…”

All of our business interactions should add value in some way. Just makes good sense.

Anyway, give this gem a read, dust off your copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, and start reapplying the Carnegie principles in your sales and marketing email campaigns.

How to Win Clicks and Influence Subscribers: Adding Value Through Personalized Messaging

Cell Phones. Laptops. Social Networking. It’s The End Of The World As We Know It.

It inevitably happens in every one of my classes.

At some point in the 12-week program, one or more participants will ask me, “So now I got these ‘tools’ that I can use when I’m working with people. So what? What else can I do with them?”

Sometimes I hear, “My boss sent me to this class because he thought it might help. But I never meet anybody. I sit behind a desk all of the time looking at a computer.”

And of course, there is my personal favorite I hear when I sell the program, “Dale Carnegie is old school. That stuff is outdated. It worked in the last century. We need something new today.”

I find this last one is particularly interesting because I firmly believe that it’s a monster of our own making.

Yes, Dale Carnegie the man started doing his classes back in 1912 and yes the book How to Win Friends and Influence People was first published in 1936. Ninety-six years and going strong. That’s a run to be proud of, for sure. But when I see catalogs that say, “It’s time to replace screen time with face time” it just underscores the belief that we are in a battle against the inexorable march of progress.

Today, people use all sorts of technology to communicate with each other, including computers. But the computer of the 80’s and 90’s is not the same computer we use today, if it can truly be called a computer at all. Back in those days, people used computers to write programs that crunched numbers. The user was truly isolated from everyone and everything else.

Today, people use “laptops” and they use their laptops to make phone calls, play music, create and watch movies, watch television, go shopping, create photo albums, read books and online newspapers, send and receive mail, instant message their friends, join online networks, share music, sell their stuff, conduct presentations, hold meetings, attend classes…

Oh, and sometimes they may even write a program to crunch numbers.

Today, the laptop is one of our primary tools for connecting with other people. However, we still need to understand how to communicate and navigate human relationships, and we need to do this in addition to being skillful in using the technology instead of at its expense.

The Dale Carnegie principles apply to how people interact and communicate with each other. Of course, back in the early 1900s, the only way to do this was in a face to face meeting. Today, however, we have a variety of ways to get our message to other people in addition to face to face meetings, and tomorrow, there will be even more.

Personally, I’m holding out for the holographic generator. I think I’ll be waiting for a couple of years.

We are human beings. We communicate with each other. It’s in our nature.

Today's technology is a fantastic enabler allowing us to do what we do over vast distances, almost instantaneously.

We don’t have to make a tradeoff, especially with the tech that we have today.

So to think that the Dale Carnegie principles are outdated or have no place in today’s tech obsessed society is a misconception. These principles are just as applicable today as they were back in the early 1900s, 1800s, and before. Believing that we have to sacrifice one to use the other is an indication that we, in the training industry, have not done our job in integrating the two, giving our knowledge workers of today a chance to be more productive tomorrow.

So get ready as the team at Tyson Eppley Management begins to explore various ways to integrate the principles that Dale Carnegie compiled back in 1912 with technological advances of today and tomorrow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Presidential Public Speaking Notes From Denver

This current presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain is providing a lot of learning material for sales, leadership and especially for public speaking.

I still haven't had an opportunity to review all of my notes for the past two debates. I'll probably have to put together a report when this is all said and done and let everyone just download it from the site.

But my alerts are still working. And apparently I'm not alone in looking at this race through a behavioral performance lens. Here is a little ditty coming all the way from Denver, Colorado entitled "Top 10 Things John McCain Should Really Stop Doing In Public Speaking".

I like what Teague, the author, says about public speaking. He says, "There’s a reason why public speaking is generally feared more than death -- because when it goes badly, death sometimes seems preferable." I'm sure that there have been times when all of us who have ever stood before an audience have said, "you know, I really wish I hadn't done that. Can I please hit the reset button now?"

This is a fairly short read written with a liberal helping of "tongue in cheek", but pay particular attention to the last point. It's the crux of any public speaking event. You have to connect with your own message. If you don't, no one else will connect with you.

Top 10 Things John McCain Should Really Stop Doing In Public Speaking

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Secrets to Remembering Names

Here is a quick post on an article that I found online.

When I teach a class, one of the first things we focus on is developing memory techniques and we apply these techniques to remembering names. No argument that remembering names can be beneficial to your career, especially if you are making a shift into sales or management.

With that, here is a blog post from a lifestyle blog that promotes some of the name remembering techniques we review in our programs. Try these and see what kind of impact they have on your job and your career.

Go get ‘em!

Presidential Interviewing Tips

OK. Usually I don’t make recommendations about programs.

Having said that, Senator John McCain needs to take the Dale Carnegie High Impact Presentations program.

I just saw a part of John McCain / Sarah Palin interview with Brian Williams.

The one activity I found very distracting was that Senator McCain kept playing with his hands.

I know that some would consider this almost sacrilegious. Afterall, how can I find fault with a U.S. Senator who's had more time speaking on the senate floor than I've been alive (well, almost).

But Senator McCain put his pants on the same way I do: one leg at a time.

And he is doing the same thing I used to do before taking the High Impact Presentations program.

He was fidgeting, playing with his ring, his fingers kept clasping and releasing… It was distracting.

In contrast, Sarah Palin kept her hands still and in her lap. By doing so, she appeared more relaxed and in control than he did.

One of the speaking projects that we work on in the program is how to conduct yourself in interviews with the press, or maybe with a future boss.

Even when you are sitting, you still have to be mindful of what message your physical presence conveys. You have to be mindful of what your hands are doing and what your face is doing.

Here are a few points to consider:

  1. Keep your hands still and in your lap. It’s OK to keep them crossed as long as they are free to be used quickly when you need them. In contrast, clasping them makes it difficult to use them when you need them. And many people will take it as a sign of inward stress.

  2. Keep your facial expressions in check and use them strategically. Is a look of shock a good thing? Depends on the kind of message you want to send. However, most of us aren’t aware of what our face is doing until we see it on a video replay. Overall, a smile will probably work just find to keep things neutral and engaging.

  3. Watch your eye movements. What kind of message does rolling your eyes send? Do you want to send that message? What kind of message does looking up and away from your interviewer send and do you want to send it? Overall, looking at your interviewer is fairly generic, neutral and engaging. Again, many people will assume that diverted eyes convey a lack of truthfulness.

If you want more tips on what to do when you are on the receiving end of an interview, or for that matter on the giving end of an interview, talk to one of our specialists about the High Impact Presentations program. Or create your account on Manta.com and discover how these tips relate to the sales process.

Happy interviewing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Training and Event Updates for October 21 2008

As the Presidential campaigns closes in on the finish line, the end of the year looms with the promises of a new year. Start yours off right by identifying your skills and abilities you will need to take on the challenges in the new year.

Here are this week's updates for personal management, productivity and communication programs in the battleground states of Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Central Indiana.

Interpersonal Communications, Leadership and Public Speaking

Dale Carnegie Course: Effective Communication and Human Relations

Strictly Business: The Dale Carnegie Immersion Seminar

Sales and Sales Communication

The Sales Advantage

Make Sales: How to Jump Start Your Selling Career

Leadership and Management

Leadership Training for Managers

The Leadership Advantage

Group Communication, Public Speaking, Presentation and Platform Skills

High Impact Presentations

Supplemental Events

McGohan Brabender: Negotiation - From Conflict to Collaboration

Dale Carnegie Seminar: How to Cold Call to Build New Customers.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Politics and High Impact Communications

So, did anyone catch The Late Show last night?

Senator McCain made an appearance on the show after dissin’ Letterman about a month ago when he cancelled his first scheduled appearance.

McCain was good natured and humorous, stating, “I haven't had so much fun since my last interrogation,” when Letterman pressed him on several subjects.

What I found interesting was the Senator’s physical position.

As I viewed the show, I saw Letterman seated at his desk on the right hand side of the screen and Senator McCain seated in the guest chair on the left-hand side of the screen. And the good Senator from Arizona sat primarily on the extreme left-hand side of the chair.

Several times, Senator McCain shifted during the interview, and moved even further into the left-hand corner of the chair away from David Letterman.

So what does this mean?

Well, we don’t know.

We don’t know because no one asked.

This is something that we all have to be mindful of when we are in tough sales situations and we observe behaviors like this.

Our interpretation of these events is more of a statement about our perceptions, our mindset and our attitude, than it is about the actual events or behaviors of the other person.

It would be so easy to make the interpretation that the Senator was trying to “get away” from David Letterman, that he was “afraid” of Letterman, or that he wanted to “put some distance” between himself and Letterman. And I’m willing to bet that there are a few people out there who watched the program and made some of these conclusions.

Just as real, however, is the possibility that his right hamstring was feeling tight and he had to relieve the stress on that leg (been there, done that). Or perhaps he was feeling stress in his neck and had to angle his entire body to face his host.

And because Letterman never inquired, we won’t really know the Senator’s mindset that led to the observed behavior.

With that in mind, as sales people we need to be cognizant of what our clients are doing and subtly ask them, “What does that mean?” when they exhibit overt behavior that we don’t quite understand.

They are communicating with us. They just aren’t using words to do it.

On the flip side, recognize that there are people out there that will immediately jump to interpretation and assume that they know how you are thinking because of your body position and behavior. They won’t stop to be quite so analytical. They will simply interpret your behavior based around their own perceptions, prejudices, and experiences.

You need to be cognizant of how you are using you body to communicate your message to your audiences and clients. If you want to make a presentation with high impact, whether you are in an interview with a talk show host like Senator McCain or delivering a presentation in front of 20,000 people like Senator Obama, you want to be aware of your behavior and take as much control as possible over how your audience interprets your message.

That way, if you happen to find yourself sitting across from Letterman smooshed in one side of the chair, you can say to yourself, “You know, my right leg is feeling a lot better in this position. But I’ve put considerable distance between my host and me. How does this look to the audience I’m playing to? Do they think I'm trying to get away from him?”

So the next time you are in a sales meeting or you are being interviewed, remember that you are communicating, all of the time, even when you don’t use words. Take control of your body actions and take responsibility for the messages that you convey to your audience.

And be sure to ask clarifying questions about their behavior. If you don’t ask, then you will never know.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Improve Your Voicemails And Weather These Tough Economic Times

Leaving business voicemails is a skill. Register for the report and discover how to increase your return to call ratio.Over the past few weeks Iʼve come across an interesting pattern.

We work with the good people at ECNext in Columbus, the creators of the Manta.com portal. From looking at some of the questions that are being asked on their discussion board, it appears that the current economic challenge is on everyoneʼs mind. Everyone appears to be looking for ways to be more effective so that they can get more done (as in selling or writing more) while using up less of their resources (stuff like money and time).

One of the questions that have been getting a lot of play lately, both on the board and in some of our classes, is, "I just left a whole bunch of voicemails. How can I get my prospects to call me back?"

Because much of our community seems to be very interested in this particular line of questioning, I've tapped Lance Tyson, President and CEO of Dale Carnegie Training of Ohio and Indiana, with a crazy idea that will definitely benefit the majority of you sales people out there.

Weʼll be putting out a series of reports that will take on some of the sales challenges that you are seeing out in the field, covering topics that range from securing the appointment to negotiation.

The first one, naturally, will tackle how to leave effective voicemails.

Weʼll target the second week in November for a general release (just after the election for all of you political junkies out there who are counting the days and after our 2-day Marshall Goldsmith seminar).

However, if you want to get a jump on the crowd, send an email to voicemails@dcarnegietraining.com with your name, company, state, phone number and email address and weʼll put you on the list for the pre-release version.

Since this will be a pre-release, we will solicit some of your input (and maybe even some solution-oriented stories) from those of you that participate. Hence the reason for the contact phone number.
You could find your name in lights!

Until that time, good selling.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Palin vs Biden Debate Provides Sales Insights

Yesterday, the Vice Presidential candidates had their first, last and only debate televised.

I was fully expecting this to be a slugfest with lots of venom exchanged. By the time I picked up my six-pack and pizza, I had envisioned this debate to be a cross between a Rocky Balboa – Clubber Lang boxing match and a really bad marriage counseling session.

So when the debate began, I was heartened when the two candidates came out, shook hands and amidst the applause, Palin asked the question, “Can I call you Joe?” I decided to hold off on the beer part and just take in the election for a couple of reasons.

First, I usually cycle between four channels on these things: CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and CSPAN. But when I first tuned in, I hit CNN and noticed the “acceptance meter” at the bottom of the screen. I remembered that they had used this same technology in the first debate to get a read from a group of undecided voters down in Columbus, OH. CNN had segmented this focus group into men and women and you could watch the two lines track the candidates in real time. Since none of the other channels was using this kind of technology, I decided to let CNN ride.

Second, because of this real time technology, I figured this would be a great opportunity to tie in what the speakers were saying with how the audience was reacting. Typically, when we are standing in front of a group delivering a presentation, we have the advantage of watching the audience’s reaction to what we say and what we do. When our performance is broadcast over the airwaves, we don’t have that advantage and it’s unfortunate that the candidates didn’t have visibility into the “acceptance meter”. I’m sure they would have adjusted their performance if they did. But they didn’t have it, we did and it proved very informational.

Third, because of my past associations with Neuro Linguistic Programming and the speaking programs that we put on, I wanted to see the impact that certain kinds of activities from the candidates would have on the focus group.

As I said, it was a very informational night. Some of what I saw and heard last night is detailed below and I try to relate it to some of what we teach in our speaking classes and what was obtained from my studies of NLP. Thing to remember is that while this is a debate, it is also a sales presentation. The two candidates are out there standing side by side making one of the biggest sales pitches in their lives and they are selling an intangible product. If you are a sales person, when was the last time you had to make your sales presentation with your competition standing about 15 feet away from you ready to counter your every statement? That can be a rather humbling experience.

Anyway, here is a synopsis of what I saw last night.

Solutions vs. Problems

One of the first things that I noticed for both candidates was that when they talked about solutions and possible outcomes, the two lines went up. When they started talking about the bad news, the meters started heading south. When the finger pointing, blaming and attacking started, the meter took a nosedive. Lesson here, people are tired of the finger pointing and the blaming. They want to hear about solutions. And leaders talk about solutions and a vision for where they want to take their team. This is also a classic sales-presentation strategy. Talk about the current situation with your client and highlight the pieces that cause them severe dissatisfaction with where they are currently. After they feel the true ramifications of their current situation, talk about a future state where the problem has been solved and they are feeling pretty good. Then, help them bridge that gap by showing them how your solution can help them get from where they are feeling pretty bad to where they want to go and feel pretty good. Attacking and blaming, however, will probably get you ushered out the door sooner than you would like.

The Cushion

Both candidates made too few uses of cushions. A cushion is an unflavored method of acknowledging the other party. Both candidates were given opportunities to offer a rebuttal to the other’s statements and claims. I heard lots of,“that’s not true”. I heard some, “Can I address that”. And I even heard a “Yes, but”. A generic type of cushion to use in a situation like this would be something like, “I can appreciate your position” or “I can appreciate your views”, or “I can appreciate where you are coming from.” Both candidates did use this type of cushion in the debate. They could have used it a lot more. That “acceptance meter” lines could have shot up a lot faster if they had used these cushions instead of, “Yes, but…”

The next time you are in a sales situation and you client says, “You know, ABC company makes a 9.1 Gigawatt flux capacitor”, instead of reacting with, “Yes, but ours goes up to 10!” try saying, “I can appreciate that. What are you going to do with all that power?” You’ll keep them talking and their “acceptance meter” won’t tank.

Don’t Back Your Client Into A Corner

Another point that hit me. Refrain from being directly confrontational. One of the notable points of the debate was when Governor Palin commented that she may not answer the question the way Senator Biden or the moderator wanted, but she was going to talk directly to the American people. She not only challenged her competition at that point, but she also challenged the moderator. Now I’m sure that there was a blinking light somewhere that indicated when the speaker’s time was running low and when they had to stop. And I’m sure that the moderator, Gwen Ifill, was lenient in giving the speakers a few more seconds to wrap things up. But this exchange was the one and only time, during the entire 90 minutes, that I heard Gwen Ifill say; “Your time is up”.

This goes back to some of the basic human-relations principles, like not telling a person that they are wrong and allowing them to save face. Refrain from backing your client, or the moderator, into a corner where they have to attack in order to get out just to maintain their stature. You have ideas, they have ideas, and not everyone is going to agree on everything. However, we can, agree to disagree while maintaining respect for each other’s points of view. If you put your client in a position where they feel like they need to defend themselves or they need to reassert themselves, they will do so and nobody wins. You may win the fight, but you won’t win their respect or their hearts.

Vocal Tonality

Both candidates had times where they weren’t using the entire range of their voice, and they had times when they used vocal modulation to incite drama in their presentation. In instances when the candidates modulated their vocal tone, the “acceptance meter” went north indicating a favorable response. When their voice took on a harder tone, or when they spoke to quickly, the meter went flat. Lesson here is that there is more to your message than just the words. Use your voice to put some drama in your sales presentation and get your client’s acceptance meter heading north.

Meet Your People Where They Are

There were several times when Governor Palin just flat out said that she was going to talk about energy or taxes and not deal with the topic on the table. It shows feistiness, and if you try it in your sales presentation, your client will toss you out the door. There are ways to make the transition. But to just tell your client, or the moderator, that you want to go back to discuss the topic that you feel comfortable with is an indication of your lack of preparation and your inflexibility. A good strategy here would be for you to acknowledge the topic, or the objection, and then show how that affects the point that you REALLY want to discuss… and then you go off on a tear.

This is called pacing and leading. Start with where your client is, match their demeanor, attitude, physical stance, breathing… and only when you have rapport can you lead them to a different place.

Using Facial Expressions and Congruency

When you are sitting down in an interview, or you are in a televised debate, you have limited ability to move around. You have limited ability to move your hands and to move your body. In these instances, you need to use your facial expressions and your vocal tonality to relay your drama. I noticed a lot of this in Senator Biden. I never knew that the human forehead could have so many wrinkles. If you looked at his forehead and his eyes, you could see when the muscles around his eyes relaxed. You could see when his gaze softened when he spoke about his early challenges and the accident that claimed the life of his wife and child. You could tell when he was taking a hard stance on foreign policy by watching the tension in his face from the eyes up. It was very visible. And it displayed his congruency with his message. When you heard the tone matching what you saw it in his facial expressions, you could see the acceptance meter going up

And speaking about facial expressions, smiling is key. For the most part, when both candidates smiled, the meter started going up. When both candidates had a more stern expression, the meter dropped. But there is a small caveat here about congruency.

If you are talking about bad news and you are smiling, your client will wonder if you are secretly reveling in their problem. Maintain congruency. Speak from your heart and you won’t have to worry if your physical responses are matching your verbal responses.

That’s all for now. Next debate will be between the two presidential candidates on October 7. We’ll see what tidbits we can glean from that event. I’ll be twittering as the debate happens. Send me your twitter responses and let me know what you see.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What Got You Here Wont Get You There

High Desert in Joshua Tree National ParkWhenever I take a trip out west, I try to get some camping in. Joshua Tree National Park is a wonderful place to pitch the tent for a couple of nights and just marvel in splendors of the high desert. During this last trip, I was faced with a rather unique opportunity and a very insightful event.

Before heading out to the desert, I stopped by to visit with my sister in Los Angeles. While there, I picked up Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. I figured I had a few days to kill before heading out to the desert and we would be conducting the two-day seminar in the near future. So I might as well read what Goldsmith was teaching in his programs and discover the similarities to what we coach for in our classes.

The book is an easy read and I got through all of Marshall’s 21 habits and some of the solutions before I had to leave Los Angeles for the desert. While reading the book, I did notice that the 21 habits that Goldsmith talks about are surprisingly similar to the human relations principles that we coach for in our classes.

After the 4-hour drive from Los Angeles, I arrived at Joshua Tree National Park. It was just after 6:00 PM when I arrived. Coupled with the fact that it was now mid-September, I realized that I had a very limited amount of usable daylight to get the campsite set up. So without hesitation, I located a suitable site, unpacked the equipment, stretched everything out and immediately began to pitch the tent.

As I was setting up the tent, a woman from the next campsite next to mine passed by and introduced herself as Loretta. She then started making small talk, asking where I was from, what I did for a living and talking about what it was like living in the high desert. While I was conversing with her, I noticed something about myself. In spite of conversing with Loretta, my mind kept getting pulled back to the idea that I needed to get the tent set up before dusk. In fact, I couldn’t get away from that thought. I needed to get the tent set up before dusk.

After about 15 minutes of conversing with Loretta, she moved on down the dirt road to her original destination and I began the task of setting up the tent once again.

It’s a simple dome tent, and the instructions recommend two people to make it easy. But a single person can set it up with a little patience and a whole lot of agility.

After about 20 minutes, Loretta’s husband, John, peeked over from the neighboring campsite and introduced himself. He made small talk and asked where I was from, explained that he and his wife were up just to picnic and watch the moonrise. Of course, I conversed with him, but again, that single dominant thought that I needed to get the tent set up permeated my mind.

John asked if I needed anything or if I needed any help in setting up the tent. Of course, I said thanks but that it was pretty simple to set up so I didn’t want to impose. He also asked if I needed any food or water, or maybe even a beer. Again, I politely declined stating that I had everything and that I didn’t want to impose.

45 minutes later, I had the satisfaction of having the tent and the campsite set up and it was all done before dusk.

As I sat there eating dried beef and drinking bottled water, I had a discomforting thought. My mind turned back to Marshall’s Goldsmith’s book and I found myself guilty of falling prey to the 21st habit of success. I had been too goal oriented.

Goldsmith credits this habit of being the root cause of all of the habits that impede your progress. There is nothing wrong with being goal oriented. In fact, it probably plays an important role in helping successful people get to where they are today. The challenge arises when it becomes a habit, a unit of behavior and thought processes that gets put into play automatically.

I was in no danger of not getting the tent set up. John had even offered his assistance. But somewhere in my past, the behavioral pattern of being goal oriented had been established and I had been successful in using it. So here I am in the high desert, using the habit of being goal oriented to pitch a tent. And I was successful in getting it set up before dusk.

But at what price?

Here was an excellent opportunity to find out how the local townspeople lived. I had the opportunity to discover what brought them to these communities, why they stayed, what kind of industry was in the area, and to discover what their thoughts, hopes and dreams were. I could have spent time conversing with Loretta and John, sharing in their fire and they would have helped set my tent up before nightfall.

But none of this happened because I was to goal oriented.

If you have been in your career for any length of time, chances are that you have employed the habit of being goal-oriented to get things accomplished. My question is this: by becoming goal-oriented and allowing this behavior to become a habit, what are you missing out on? What new ideas and opportunities are you missing because you are so focused on achieving your goal?

What Got You Here Won't Get You There SeminarThere are 20 other habits listed in Marshall Goldsmith’s book. Which of the other habits have helped to get you where you are today but are now impeding your progress? Read the book to discover the other 20 habits and discover why they won’t help you get to where you want to go tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Training and Event Updates for September 23 2008

Back from the trip out west. Some of the insights from the trip will undoubtedly make their way into the blog and into some of the classes. So keep your feed channel tuned to this station (or sign up for automatic email updates on the side bar).

Meanwhile, here are this week's updates for performance programs in the Ohio Valley area.

Interpersonal Communications, Leadership and Public Speaking

Dale Carnegie Course: Effective Communication and Human Relations

Strictly Business: The Dale Carnegie Immersion Seminar

Sales and Sales Communication

The Sales Advantage

Make Sales: How to Jump Start Your Selling Career

Leadership and Management

Leadership Training for Managers

The Leadership Advantage

Group Communication, Public Speaking, Presentation and Platform Skills

High Impact Presentations

Supplemental Events

The Marshall Goldsmith Seminar: What Got You Here Won't Get You There..

McGohan Brabender: Negotiation - From Conflict to Collaboration

McGohan Brabender: Negotiation - From Conflict to Collaboration

McGohan Brabender: Negotiation - From Conflict to Collaboration

Dale Carnegie Seminar: How to Keep Your Staff Engaged, Energized & Motivated.

Dale Carnegie Seminar: How to Cold Call to Build New Customers.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Drill, Baby, Drill

Wind power as an alternate to using oil. Just another hallmark of the creative thinking process that is turning a dry brown desert into a green environment.Here is another quick observation before I hit the road again.

While watching the RNC, I noticed that the phrase “Drill, Baby, Drill” had become the mantra of the convention and now it is the Republican Party’s slogan.

I also noticed that both candidates, McCain and Obama now support offshore drilling and talk about reducing our dependency on foreign oil.

They also mention alternative sources for energy like wind, solar and nuclear all in the same, rushed sentence.

I've always wondered, what would happen if they took the word "foreign" out of their rhetoric?

Instead, what if our candidates talked about reducing our dependency on... oil?

Even in politics, real change is dependent on the types of questions we ask our team members and ourselves because the questions we ask determine the answers that we find.

For instance, while driving down the south side of Joshua Tree National Park, along I-10 in California, I came across a windmill farm.

Only this wasn't the typical windmill farm with 20 to 30 windmills.

No, while our presidential candidates have only recently been talking about the need to explore wind as a source of energy, someone a while back had decided to take matters into their own hands and explore an opportunity.

They created what appears to be the largest windmill orchard in the world.

A small section of the windmill farm just outside Palm Springs in the Californian desert.
There are rows of these windmills, stretched as far as the eye can see, busily converting the high winds of the area into usable electricity.

Somehow, I don't think the team that created this energy orchard, sat around and said, "Hmm, I wonder how we can reduce our dependency on foreign oil?"

The team probably started off with a question like, "What if we could generate a substantial amount of electricity from the high winds that blow through this area?"

These types of question are classified as a possibility question and are useful for looking forward into creating possible futures.

But these guys didn't stop there.

After that, they probably asked, "How can we create a device for converting wind into electrical energy? What would such a device look like? In what way can we use the materials that we have to create a device powered by the wind and will supply 25% to 30% of our current electrical needs?"

These kinds of questions are process questions. They focus on processes and activities and are very useful for getting things done.

If I had to guess, I'd say that the team that created this windmill farm probably called Ed Eppley out to conduct one of his famous green-light brainstorming sessions before beginning that project.

A great scientist named Einstein once said, "The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them."

We currently face some of the biggest challenges of this century, not just as a nation, but in our corporations as well as on a personal level. We won't solve them using the same thinking strategies that got us to where we are today. In order to address the new challenges, we need to employ new thinking strategies, ask some different questions and do something totally different.

Because, again, to paraphrase Einstein, “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

It’s time for something new in your business and your life. Get started by asking some new and different questions.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Training Events and Updates for September 16 2008

Follow the adventure on Twitter.

Traveling East along I-10 in CA through the land of the Joshua Trees. A few days here will give me an opportunity to finish Marshall Goldsmith's book, "What Got You Here Won't Get You There". The habits are straightforward and easy to understand. As usual, it's not the knowledge that the challenge, it's acting on that knowledge.

Based on what I've read so far, would highly recommend the book for anyone who has attained a certain level of technical prowess in their job but are finding that the biggest hindrance in career advancement is in their behavioral habits. Amazingly, the habits that have helped us succeed so far are probably the ones that are now preventing us from advancing.

Of course if you are more interested in making something happen, take the 2 day program performed by Ed Eppley.

Here are this week's updates for performance programs in the Ohio Valley area.

Interpersonal Communications, Leadership and Public Speaking

Dale Carnegie Course: Effective Communication and Human Relations

Strictly Business: The Dale Carnegie Immersion Seminar

Sales and Sales Communication

The Sales Advantage

Make Sales: How to Jump Start Your Selling Career

Leadership and Management

Leadership Training for Managers

The Leadership Advantage

Group Communication, Public Speaking, Presentation and Platform Skills

High Impact Presentations

Supplemental Events

The Marshall Goldsmith Seminar: What Got You Here Won't Get You There..

McGohan Brabender: Negotiation - From Conflict to Collaboration

McGohan Brabender: Planning and Execution

Dale Carnegie Seminar: How to Keep Your Staff Engaged, Energized & Motivated.

Dale Carnegie Seminar: How to Cold Call to Build New Customers.