Friday, May 30, 2008

Are You Ready To Cut Your Gas Prices?

Use new technologies and effective communication to counter skyrocketing gas prices.OK gang. The price of a gallon of gasoline continues to soar to new heights. Poor working Joes, like you and me, have to search for alternatives to soften the blow.

Some companies around this area have opted to compress the standard 8-hour-a-day, 5-day workweek into a 10-hour-a-day, 4-day workweek as outlined in this Reuters article here:

Workers shifting to 4-day week to save gasoline

The reason? Employees can reduce their gas consumption overhead by one day’s commute.

If you are in an industry that deals primarily with information, you may have more options available to you, such as telecommuting as outlined in this video from CNN:

Save Gas, Telecommute!

With ubiquitous broadband, wi-fi and cell phones, software developers, web developers and even some sales people can either work at a home office or camp out at the local Starbucks. At my last look, a month of broadband costs less than a month of commuting. In fact, at my last fill up, I could have paid for a month of broadband service with what I paid to fill the tank. And I fill the tank every week!

You can bet that’s gonna stop.

For those workers who simply cannot get out of driving to and from work, you may want to look at and to find the lowest gas prices in your neck of the woods. As you can imagine, these sites are extremely popular right now.

If you plan to go out driving during the weekend, be sure to hit or up before you go.

Otherwise, you may want to start looking for ways to communicate effectively over the phone.

The dollars you save will be your own.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sales Lesson From a Lemonade Stand

It’s been a week since I’ve finished the Cleveland marathon. So running today was a small challenge, but not to tough. I could feel my feet talking to me towards the end of the run. During that run, I came across two little girls selling lemonade in front of their house (with parents supervising, of course).

Naturally, running for 2, 3, and 4 hours, I work up a powerful thirst. Unfortunately, my running shorts don’t have pockets. So I don’t carry money with me.

This means I have to resort to stealing sips from any lawn sprinkler I happen to pass by instead of doing my part to help the youth of America discover the wonders of our free enterprise system.

This incident reminded me of two points that we need to remember when we are out there selling or running direct marketing campaigns.

  1. It’s easier to sell your products and services to someone who is “hungry to buy it”. Find that crowd that is starving, or thirsty, for what you’re selling.

  2. Make sure that your prospect a) has the authority to buy and b) has the money to buy.

Point 1 takes a little more time up front and requires some creativity. But there are many direct marketing strategies available that can help your starving crowd to identify themselves.

As sales reps, point 2 is something that we should do all of the time. It’s called qualifying the prospect. Unfortunately, sometimes we get so excited that somebody is sitting down with us that we forget to insure that this is the right person to sit with.

Incorporating these two tips back into your process and you’ll start taking time off your sales cycle.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sales IT Tech: Organize Your Sales Activity Through IE7 Tabs

Sales people are always looking for new ways to get ahead and looking for ways to leverage technology to help them do it. Everything from a fast cars to mobile phones are fair game.

If this is you, then you may want to look at how to leverage one of the features in Internet Explorer 7 to give you an edge.

You'll find the post here, on the Sales IT Tech blog.

Sales IT Tech: Organize Your Sales Activity Through IE7 Tabs

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sales Lesson from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

I just saw this article on the web. Apparently complaining too much can get you banned from a cruise line. From one perspective, it speaks volumes about the price of criticizing, condemning and complaining.

Report: Royal Caribbean bans complaining couple for life

However, it also underscores a major point that we need to recognize on the sales side of the equation.

I used to work with a guy who prided himself on “not letting any get away”. He wanted to get them all and typically looked for ways to capture and win all the prospect that came his way.

As a sales professional, there are some prospects that you simply don’t want to pursue. There will always be that special group of prospects that are looking for the lowest price. They will always try to get you to lower your price, they will never pay on time, they will always find something to complain about and they will continue to come back for seconds, thirds and fourths.

You never want to commoditize your productor service and be the lowest bidder. If you believe in your product and sell based on value, price should never be a real issue (unless, of course, you are WAY out of line with the price).

Focus your attention on your real customers and prune out the prospect looking for a free ride. Do business on your terms with the people that you want. Not only will you free up time to be more productive, you’ll be happier for it, and your real customers will thank you for the extra attention.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Spinning off the Tech Section

Reprinted from Sales IT Tech

I started the Sales IT Tech blog to provide tips, tactics and strategies on using IT technology to reduce machine downtime, increase sales and increase revenue. It’s an outgrowth of my findings from my work in Technical Support, as a Sales Engineer and in my work with Dale Carnegie Training.

This blog is for the sales rep who needs ideas on how to use, the small business owner in a small office or home office looking for ways to set up their system to take VoIP calls or the entrepreneur looking for ways to use the technology available to them to get an edge. Essentially, anyone who is operating a small business and is performing all of their own IT work but doesn’t have time to explore what’s available to them.

From time to time, I’ll forward relevant articles over to where we deal exclusively with presentation, communication, sales and leadership skills.

Good selling.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Memory Training Shown to Turn Up Brainpower

I just found this article posted by my good friend Tom Dotz at NLP Comprehensive. I guess we aren’t stuck with the intelligence that we are born with.

I’m sure that the dissemination and availability of information over the ‘Net has something to do with discovering and enhancing our various learning abilities. But remember that the choice to use what’s available to us, as always, rest solely with the individual.

Here is an excerpt from the New York Times article:

Boost your brainpower through memory training.A new study has found that it may be possible to train people to be more intelligent, increasing the brainpower they had at birth.

Until now, it had been widely assumed that the kind of mental ability that allows us to solve new problems without having any relevant previous experience — what psychologists call fluid intelligence — is innate and cannot be taught (though people can raise their grades on tests of it by practicing).

But in the new study, researchers describe a method for improving this skill, along with experiments to prove it works.

The key, researchers found, was carefully structured training in working memory — the kind that allows memorization of a telephone number just long enough to dial it. This type of memory is closely related to fluid intelligence, according to background information in the article, and appears to rely on the same brain circuitry. So the researchers reasoned that improving it might lead to improvements in fluid intelligence.

Get the full story here.

For more on the NLP methodology, read Tom's blog, Connecting With NLP.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Using This One Marketing Tactic Will Put You Head And Shoulders Above Your Competition

Seeing things from your client's perspective will enhance your marketing and sales campaigns regardless of your industry.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the dentist. I say pleasure because I can recall a time when people avoided the dentist at all costs. In those days, when you walked into the dental office, you felt like were stepping into a medieval dungeon with implements of torture lined up on a tray, ready to do extreme harm.

Therefore, I am simply amazed at how far the industry has come since those days.

When I walked into this office, the room was brightly lit, clean and the dental assistant had a big smile on her face.

She invited me to have a seat on the dental couch and as I sat down, I noticed the closed circuit TV high on the shelf. I asked her what the in-flight movie was going to be and she just laughed. She then said, "Sometimes we do camera work with our clients and the TV allows the client to see what we are doing."

Somewhere off in another room, the dentist must have been listening. After he came in and greeted me, he said to his assistant, "fire up the camera because we are going to have a look."

She clapped exuberantly and fired that puppy right up. The doctor scoped around in my mouth, took a picture, and then proceeded to show me what he was going to do, highlighting two very old metal fillings that were leaking and needed to be replaced.

So the doctor numbed me up with novocaine and proceeded to wait until I lost all control of the right side of my jaw before beginning his work.

Before I got to the point of not being able to talk, however, the assistant said, "We are going to trade glasses with you." She then took my glasses and gave me a set of stylish looking sunglasses that triathletes typically wear. I was rather curious, so I asked the doctor, "What’s with the glasses?"

At this point, I was sounding like Daffy Duck, so I decided that this would be the last question of the day.

The doctor replied, "Well, we did a customer survey a little while ago. In that survey, we asked the question, ‘What can we do to make coming here a more pleasant experience for you?’ A few of our clients replied that the overhead lamp that we use hurts their eyes."

"After seeing a few of those responses, we put ourselves in their shoes and had an epiphany: ‘Yeah, we can see how this would be uncomfortable to our clients. Not all of that squinting that our clients are doing is due to the sound of the drill.’"

"So we started giving our clients the sunglasses while they are on the couch. It allows us to work, and it keeps the client comfortable." As if to underscore his point, he put the full force of that big halogen lamp in my face.

I didn’t even blink.

This small change works on so many levels. How many times have you gone to the dentist and closed your eyes during the procedure in anticipation of the pain in addition to preventing your corneas from being fried?

But what about after the procedure is over? I can just imagine two acquaintances engaging in a conversation at a networking meeting. It would probably sound something like this:

"Bob, how’s it going? I haven’t seen you in a while."

"Hi Bill. I’ve been out of action of late. I’ve got a tooth that’s been giving me problems."

"Bob, why don’t you go to the dentist and get it fixed?"

"Well Bill, I know it’s something that needs to be done, but I’ve been putting it off."

"How come, Bob?"

"Well, every time I go to the dentist, I also end up going to my eye doctor because the light that the dentist uses scorches my retinas."

"Bob, you should go to my dentist. He does good work, and he takes the extra step to insure my comfort. He provides sunglasses so the light won’t blind me while I’m in the chair. Check him out."

"Wow, that's kinda cool. Thanks Bill. I’ll check him out."

A little ingenuity and some creative thinking on the part of the dentist and his team took care of a silent customer service issue that they can now leverage into a word-of-mouth marketing strategy. This is possible because the dentist decided to step outside of his own world and see things from his clients’ point of view. People will talk about the little things that make a big difference to them.

In the book, How To Win Friends And Influence People, Dale Carnegie’s 17th principle is, Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view. From my travels as an instructor, I’ve often heard that the examples and wording in the book are from a time long since passed.

While the wording of the book may be al little dated, the principles are just as relevant today as they were back in the time of Socrates, especially this principle.

Pick up any good marketing and sales book by Dan Kennedy or Jay Abraham and you will find the same thing. In order to sell to, market to or satisfy your clients, you’ll have to get out of your own head and see things from your clients' point of view.

If you’re in marketing, sales, an entrepreneur, or own a professional practice, try honestly to see things from your client’s point of view. You’ll end up with a huge return on your investments of time and money, and you’ll capture your clients’ appreciation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It’s Finally Out!

After much fanfare, and some false starts, the new website for Dale Carnegie Training of Ohio and Indian is up and operational. See it at

Kudos goes to the hard working team at Greencrest for making this happen.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Little Inspiration From Mom

As this year’s Mother’s Day ends, I am reminded of an incident that happened at the turn of the century (I’ve always wanted to say that).

Back in the early 90s, my mother finished her Bachelor of Arts degree. She had started college in her early years, and stopped attending to raise a family. When she started as a part time teacher at the local grade school, she discovered that she needed that college degree after all. So, in her late 50’s she went back to school and took courses in early childhood education. After all the dust had settled, not only did she become a full time teacher, but after a few years, she served as the school’s principal.

One evening when I was in Cleveland with two of my sisters for a Christmas visit, we got to talking about the challenges of going to school and what it takes to be successful. So I asked Mom when she was in school, competing with all of those kids who were 35 to 40 years younger than her, did she ever feel like just calling it quits.

Her response surprised me.

She said, “It was hard, and there were times that I did want to quit. But every time I hit a rough patch, I remembered something that you told me.”

Well, that got my attention, so I asked her what that was.

She said, “When you told us about running and finishing your first Boston Marathon, I asked you if you got tired and ever felt like quitting. And you said that you never started anything unless you were committed to finishing it.”

“I kept that in front of me during my entire time in school and I vowed to never quit because I was committed to finishing and getting my degree.”

You know, it’s really something when you can be a source of inspiration to your mother. For me, it’s nice to know that I can give something back to the world that gave me so much.

This Mother’s Day, I trust you let your Mom know how much you care. The rest of the year, be an inspiration to those that have helped you in your journey to success.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Communicate At Maximum Effectiveness With This Essential Element

Gettinf rapport is like lining up an array of pipes for transfering information.

Back in the 80’s when I was in a quest to find the Holy Grail of human performance strategies, I ran across Tony Robbins and his assorted technologies. One of those technologies was NLP. Robbins wasn’t the creator of NLP, but he did help put NLP on the map using his marketing expertise. He later had a little discussion with Richard Bandler which resulted in any similar technologies that Tony Robbins promoted fell under the term NAC or Neuro Associative Conditioning.

One of the things that I was introduced to during that period was a relatively new concept called achieving rapport. Today, everybody routinely talks about getting rapport with important people in our lives as if they were describing how to put on a coat.

However, I get the impression that most people think of rapport the same way I did back in the ‘80s, a shortcut to molding their audience’s thinking and getting them to like you.

When I first started looking into human performance strategies back in the 80’s, I read all of the books written by all of the gurus that said you had to sit like the other person, use the same vocal range, cadence and tonality, etc… If you were cognizant of all of these conditions in the other person and mimicked them, the other person would magically start to think, “Hey, I like this person. They are just like me.” Moving the head up and down while asking a question like, “You really want to do this, don’t you?” would produce a yes response based on pacing, leading and using nonverbal congruity to “persuade” the other person to say ‘yes’. Rapport was considered a tool for turning the other person into a puppet with you as the puppet master.

Since that time, I have continued my research into NLP, hypnosis, human behavioral performance and adult learning strategies. Based on what I’ve seen, read and used, I think a better analogy for achieving and using rapport is the following.

Think of two people communicating as two pipes transferring water. One is sending out a stream of water, and the other is receiving the stream. The water is the flow of information. The pipes map to a single channel of communication between the two parties (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc…).

Naturally, the more pipes you have at your disposal, the more water (information) you will be able to channel to your audience.

The pipe types have to match up. A visual pipe on the receiver’s end must receive water that is transferred from a visual pipe on your end or the water you’re transmitting will spill onto the floor. Transference fails to take place.

The channels also have to line up as well. For example, supposes you have a pipe on your end that shares only a 20% cross sectional area in common with the receiving pipe. Transferring water over this arrangement will only allow 20%of the water stream to flow from one pipe to the other. 80% of the water will again spill outside of the pipes and onto the floor.

In order to transfer the maximum amount of water with the least amount of waste, you will need to have the right pipes connected together and lined up properly so that no water escapes to the floor.

If you think of your communication with other people in this fashion, then the concept of achieving rapport shifts. It changes from being a clandestine operation of coercing someone else to do something for you into a necessary communication strategy to insure your message is processed and understood.

Achieving rapport is not something that you do to someone else in order to persuade them to your way of thinking. Achieving rapport is an activity you do to yourself to insure alignment with your client and that your complete message is accepted.

In a sales situation, achieving rapport is not a luxury that we can indulge in whenever we feel like it. Achieving rapport is a necessity to getting to the first stage. If you don’t have rapport, you don’t get heard.

We use a variety of ways to achieve rapport in our office. In the next few days, I’ll touch on some of the ways that rapport is reflected in the Dale Carnegie principles. Currently, however, it’s imperative that we think of rapport as a necessary step to maximize communication effectiveness and not as a luxurious shortcut quickly employed to persuade someone to our way of thinking.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

For New Account Executives: How To Structure Salesforce.Com Data For New Insights!

Make the transition from sales executive to account manager.A while back, I wrote about migrating over from act to Here is another tip for new account managers that are accustom to managing contacts.

Before your IT guy starts to migrate your data from ACT into, sit down and map out your major accounts. If you starting out with a bunch of contacts distributed along various companies, take out the company with the largest number of contacts, and start doing some discovery research on it.

Start with the company’s website. Find the parent company, subsidiaries, divisions and satellite offices. Find everything you possibly can on the company and its related divisions.

Then, draw out the relationship hierarchy. Identify which company is at the top of the hierarchy, the parent company. Then identify the child companies at the next level, using lines to draw out the relationship. Continue this tactic with rest of the companies obtained in your discovery process, identifying their position within the hierarchy.

After you have completed this hierarchy and you have all of the addresses and account contact numbers, you can begin to populate the companies with the corresponding contacts. You can even extract additional contacts from the website, if you haven’t already done so .

An additional resource you may try at this point is the Harris Selectory database. It will cost you some additional coin, but it can provide invaluable account information in addition to contact names, like corporate structure, number of employees, number of employees at any particular branch, annual revenue, industry type, SIC code, etc… All of this can be integrated quite nicely into the database structure and giving you insight into additional opportunities.

If the account you are researching is public, you can also look at the annual report, which should be readily available from the company’s website. Another resource that you can use it the Investing section on Yahoo Finance. Merely type in the company you are researching and if it is a publicly traded company, it’s stock ticker will pop up. From there, you will be able to see a wealth of information, including how your company stacks up against its competition.

Performing this exercise will cause you to do a few things that you probably haven’t done before if you are accustomed to performing sales executive type activities:

  • You will find relationships that you previously overlooked. The head of that company that you’ve called on for the past 18 months may give you some leverage in breaking into one of the subsidiary companies previously overlooked. If you’ve been in contact with the head of a company and you discover that it’s a division of a much bigger organization, ask your contact who you should be contacting in the parent company.

  • You will start asking questions you previously overlooked. For example, if Bob, the head of a client company, decides to leave the company, you will be more inclined to ask, “Who is replacing Bob?” rather than, “Where is Bob going?”

  • You will start asking questions and crafting solutions geared around corporate needs rather than individual or departmental requirements.

  • You may start enlisting the aid of other sales reps or inside sales reps to help you penetrate and sell into the various companies while you orchestrate and manage the strategy of growing the account.

Some of this stuff may seem obvious, and it is. The challenge here is actually remembering to do it, like asking for a referral during the sales process. We all know that we are supposed to ask for at least one. Yet how many of us actually remember to ask?

The challenges of being an account manager are slightly different from those faced by a sales executive, sales rep, or an inside sales rep. Structuring your contact information to match your client accounts will make your accounts, and your life, just a little more simpler to manage.

Friday, May 2, 2008

How To Read Body Language

“I know why you shave your head.”

I used to get this a lot. Friends and acquaintances would approach me over the topic of my clean pate. They would first ask, “Why do you shave your head?” Then they would follow up with their own answer:

  • “You're going gray and you don’t want people to know.”

  • “It allows you to get out of the shower faster.”

  • “You want to look like Michael Jordan.”

  • “It’s a fashion statement, the current ‘in’ thing.’

They stare at me in disbelief when I tell them the reason I shaved off all of my hair. Then they refuse to believe my reason and go back to theirs.

Why do I shave my head?

I’ll tell you in a minute.

But I use this example to draw attention to an observation. People have their own reasons for their behavior and we have our own reasons for explaining our observations of their behavior. And as much as we would like to categorize the entire spectrum of human behavior into a few well-defined boxes to quickly explain why our clients do the things that they do, it simply isn't possible.

For example, pick up any book on reading body language. Somewhere in there, you will find a statement indicating that a client's folded arms is an indication of their resistance to your ideas.

I fold my arms all of the time. When I was younger, I slipped while coming down a flight of stairs, landed on my shoulder blade and separated my shoulder. The surrounding muscles shortened during the healing process. I can still feel it in the winter months. Now, folding my arms is a very relaxing position for me.

But nobody has bothered to ask me why I cross my arms. And nobody asks me if I’m being resistant to their ideas when I fold my arms. However, I do notice a change in their approach and their demeanor. When I ask them about the change that I noticed, they brush it off as nonexistent or irrelevant.

There are ways to ask questions in order to understand your prospect’s behavior and their actions. Lance Tyson, CEO or Dale Carnegie Training of Ohio and Indiana, and senior sales instructor, regularly touches on this subject. He warns class participants about assuming to much when they can readily ask questions to gather the information.

He will fold his arms in front of the class and ask, “What does this mean?” Everyone will say, “You are resistant” or “You are closed minded.”

His response? “Maybe. On the other hand, maybe I’m cold. Or, maybe I’m feeling comfortable with myself. Or maybe I’m giving myself a hug. Truth is, you do not know what this means and it could mean anything. So be careful with your assumptions about your client.”

Lance will be touching on this topic in two programs happening in the Cincinnati area. One is entitled “Successful Sales Leadership”, a half-day seminar for sponsored by McGohan Brabender. The other is entitled “Making Sales”, and is an intensive, 2 day seminar addressing a number of The Hat from Tombstone, AZ.topics, including how to use questions to gather useful information. Sometimes it’s as simple as using a small trial close in order to better understand your client’s preferences.

We’ll talk more about using questions to better understand behavior in a later post.

But first, the reason I shave my head.

I shave my head so that the hat will fit.