Thursday, 29 November 2012

Farewell Zig Ziglar

Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar died in Texas on Wednesday, aged 86. He had been suffering from pneumonia.

He wrote more than 30 books and and was well known for is corporate training and motivational speeches. 

"See you at the Top" was not only his catchphrase but also the title of his first book.

I have included here a copy of Seth Godin's blog that outlines the great inspiration Zig Ziglar was.

Thank you, Zig
My teacher Zig Ziglar died this morning. He was 86.
Thanks for teaching me how to sell and why it mattered.
Thanks for reminding me how much it mattered to care.
Thanks for telling us a fifteen-minute story about Johnny the Shoe Shine Genius, so compelling that I flew to the airport just to meet him.
Thanks for 72 hours of audiotapes, listened to so many times I wore out the cassettes twice.
Thanks for that one day we spent backstage together in Milwaukee.
Thanks for making goal setting so clear.
Thanks for elevating the art of public speaking, and making it personal, not something to be copied.
Thanks for believing in us, the people you almost never met in person, for supporting us with your voice and your stories and your enthusiasm.
Thanks for teaching so many people, people who will continue to remember you and to teach as well.
You'll be missed.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

My 7 Best Books for 2012

Here is my reading list for this year. These fine books inspired me, encouraged me and changed my thinking. What will you do with them in 2013?


To Sell is Human by Daniel H. Pink - Explore the power of selling in our lives.

SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham - A book I revisit year in, year out. There is always something to pick up on to improve sales performance effectiveness.

Sales Cats V2 by Mike Boyle - Yes gratuitous self promotion I know, but version 2 has a significant change. Can you pick it out? It may make a difference in your salesmanship!

Good to Great by Jim Collins - Haven't got the time to spend investigating what you company needs to become a great one? This book has done all the research and discovered  the distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great!

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - What makes high achievers different? Gladwell brilliantly explores why  your personal upbringing and where you are from play such an important part in your success.

Switch by Chip and Dan Heath - How to we balance the rational mind with the emotional mind to achieve change in our business and personal lives? In this book we learn why and how!

Tested Sentences that Sell by Elmer Wheeler - A classic read for any salesmaker. Learn how to uncover the most persuasive benefits in everything you sell. As Wheeler says, "learn to sell the bubbles not the wine"!

Let me know of any great reads you have discovered this year. I can add it to my holiday reading list!


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Storytelling for business - who would have thought!

You all know I like a good story. It's about the shared experience.

Amazingly in this tecnological age, storytelling is making a comeback. Technology is allowing us to share stories in so many ways: video, audio, mp3, pintrest, youtube, animoto etc etc etc.

In business, storytelling is keeping customers engaged. Interested in our company, our products, our services, our developments. The power of this connection lays in the customer seeking out more about us!

When it comes to brands and marketing, the application of story now needs to go beyond the traditional and ubiquitous tool of brand story; rather, it’s about engaging consumers in a brand’s stories and using the construct of stories and storytelling to create powerful connections. While the transition to digital media drove a focus toward content, today with ever more social tools and communication media, there’s a need for cohesive and meaningful connections in a marketing world that is now labeled “always on,” demanding more of brand communication. This is where story comes into play.

Kathy Oneto is vice president of brand strategy at Anthem Worldwide and has great insight on the subject.
"Why stories? It seems we’re all catching on to their effectiveness in connecting with people. When information is communicated in story form, we seem to remember it better and be affected by it more deeply. Brands are telling these stories across a number of different mediums--from packaging to video to visual and verbal content."
 Some tips on storytelling can be found from research consultancy Latitude, which recently released part one of its study, “The Future of Storytelling,” which identifies trends and audience attitudes about content. The tips Latitude provides on telling stories are the following:

1. IMMERSION  - Create an immersive experience through content that is delivered in multi-media and that is multi-sensory;
2. INTERACTIVITY  - Allow the consumer to become a part of it;
3. INTEGRATION  - Ensure there is coherence across the many touchpoints; and
4. IMPACT  - Make it lead to action
"Again, the difference today for marketers is twofold--storytelling is not an internal exercise alone; rather, it is an exercise that should engage the consumer. Brand stories need to now live day to day with the engagement of consumers to create strong, long-lasting bonds across all touchpoints, from packaging to video to visual and verbal content. Such a requirement transforms how marketers need to think about their role. It becomes less about directing and more about curating a brand and consumer journey."

Read Kathy's article and share your thoughts on how you might employ a story to ignite interest in your business, product or service.


Friday, 19 October 2012

Is your team on your team?

Well if it isn't you're in big trouble!

I was reading a Zig Ziglar article the other day and this point jumped out at me. How true I thought.

More and more we are seeing managers and business owners pulling their hair out, frustrated at their staff going in different directions and missing their targets.

Good business starts on the inside. Your team must believe in you and what you are trying to achieve. 

“The belief in the value of what you do or sell has to be so strong that everyone who comes in contact with a customer exudes confidence in the company and the product”.

When this is the case everyone is prepared to pitch in.

If your team is not on your team – STOP!  Step back and take 5 minutes to reset for yourself the goals for your business. Detail it out in a One Page Plan: the Now – Where – How.

Share this with your team and work together to plan the route to get there. Then set them free on meeting the needs of your customers through your product or service.


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The End of Solution Sales

I have just been reading an article in the Harvard Business Review (July-August 2012) and was intrigued with the headline: ‘The End of Solution Selling’.

The article announces that “the old playbook no longer works” and that “star salespeople now seek to upend the customer’s current approach to doing business”.  Bold statement and interesting observation I thought.

For many years we have championed the cause of sales professionals solving the problems of their customers to win business, and ensure repeat business - solution selling. 

But in recent times it has become apparent that being the font of all knowledge to our clients and solving all their problems is not enough. For a start, customers make an approach or enquiry armed with more knowledge of our product or service than ever before. They have researched and compared all before walking through our door.

As the article outlines, “customers completed, on average, nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision – researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on – before even having a conversation with a supplier”. With this in mind, the celebrated ”solution sales rep” can be more of an annoyance than an asset!

Insight selling” is now the mantra of the best salespeople. It is a new strategy that demands a radically different approach across several areas of the purchasing process.

Solution Selling
Insight Selling
What kind of company to target
Organisations that have a clear vision and established demands
Agile organisations that have emerging demands or are in a state of flux
What sort of initial information to gather
What need is the customer seeking to address?
What unrecognised need does the customer have?
When to engage
After the customer has identified a problem the supplier can solve
Before the customer has pinpointed a problem
How to begin the conversation
Ask questions about the customer’s need and look for a “hook” for your solution
Offer provocative insights about what the customer should do
How to direct the flow of information
Ask questions so that the customer can steer you through its purchasing process
Coach the customer about how to buy, and support it through the process

Source: Harvard Business Review August-July 2012, p63.

Sales professionals need to be adaptive. Solution selling skills need to be complemented with strategies to challenge, insights to engage clients and the touch to coach how they should buy. Successful reps “may still be selling insights. And in this new world, that makes the difference between a pitch that goes nowhere and one that secures the customer’s business.”

The full articles is linked on our website, so take the time to have a read and see how Insight Selling might better suit the ‘new age’ customer in your market?


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Give someone a chance

I was reminded this week of a program I ran in Ballarat several years ago. With a Mindshop colleague we ran a Mindshop Excellence program with a group of senior high school students.   
What we experienced was nothing short of amazing and a reminder that anything is possible if you give someone a chance. Here are my colleagues recollections....
"…. I witnessed the most amazing person at our last program in Ballarat. Mike Boyle and I arrived on Monday to tackle 4 groups in the one training session. Nothing special here except one of the students was a 15 year old girl. She was profoundly deaf and unable to communicate verbally. I was terrified – how can you possibly train someone with this challenge in just a few hours, in a boisterous group, without setting her up to fail. I wanted to go home but being afraid of the Boiler did not. Well picture the scene. Here we are promising these kids that they have the talent to do anything, given the chance, and all they need is belief in themselves and a few tools.  The student had a signing translator who tried hard to keep up with the Boiler and me, always a challenge as we had a room full of evolving young adults.  
Mike and I watched this girl participate in the group dynamics and we both came to the same conclusion. She was a born leader. She just could not hear or speak.  This student neither needed, wanted nor would accept any special treatment. So with my usual stern face I announced to the group that everyone would be presenting on Friday, no notes, the usual drill.  This always gets their attention. That was it for me. I made a quick visit on Tuesday morning and then did not see the group again until Friday morning for presentation practice. An added challenge was that the group had been told by a much nicer person than me, that they could present with notes. I said no way to this and told them to get up and practice. I was really worried about how to include her – their problem of course, not mine. But what would I do if they had not included her?  I was hoping that she would be changing slides, holding up a chart, pointing to something.  Well they lined up and began. Looked good as each got up to present. Then she stood up and presented. Sign language in front of PowerPoint slides. I have never seen such passion, excitement and enthusiasm in a presentation. She got her message across better than any of the speaking speakers.  She knew the tools, presented insightful comments and passionately made forceful points, all with her hands and body language. 
She was the best presenter of the group. Mindshop Excellence had given this girl the chance to show the world, in this case a room full of senior executives, what she could do given a chance.  There was only one problem. Her signing translator was repeating what she was signing “saying” in a monotone. The practice round was stopped and the translator charged with expressing the passion and the excitement, not just the words. I found coaching the translator was a lot more difficult than the young presenters. Signers “don’t do the passion”.  However after a little persuasion she came good and at the final presentation I was not the only person who had a tear in their eye. The student was magnificent. Her mother came to me crying and begged me to thank Mindshop for giving her daughter the chance to be what she can be. 
I wonder how many other 'overlooked stars' there are in your part of the world, young adults full of talent that may never be realised unless someone gives them a chance. Life is short. There really is more to life than the next dollar. Your VTO could change someone’s life forever. Maybe even yours."

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Stop talking

Hope all is well in your sales land. Are you becoming a sales cat yet?

Why do we often talk more than we should? When other people talk too much, we notice immediately. When we talk too much, everyone else notices—except us. 

Here are a few possible explanations why it happens: 

1.      Anxiety. People who are anxious use an avalanche of words to avoid dealing with potential conflict (like a prospect saying "no"). Instead of balancing talking with listening, they believe that their wall of words will protect them from what they imagine as a threat. They often refuse to give up control of the conversation by adding a trail of words that echo the ones that they've expressed previously. 

2.      Lack of preparation. The less clear we are on any given subject, the more words it will take us to talk about it. Here is an eye-opening exercise. Ask a salesperson to make a presentation about your company as if you were a new prospect. Time the presentation. Next, ask the salesperson to write a brief, but concise description of your product or service in 180 words. Now, read the copy at normal speed. How much time did it take? About one minute. It should not take more time to engage a prospect.

3.      Stress. When we are tired we tend to ramble and our ability to concentrate begins to decrease. Our brain responds to mental fatigue by producing more words and less meaning. The cure: Get enough sleep, eat healthy and exercise regularly.

4.      Lack of a roadmap. Do you know where your conversation will lead before you start talking? If not, write down the answers to three questions: What is my call objective? What information do I need to get? What information do I plan to give? Stay on track, stay on message and don’t skip vital steps.

5.      Lack of a time budget. Decide to invest a specific amount of time for each call and stick to it. If you are a manager and you want to save time, conduct your meetings standing up. This forces people to be brief and to the point. If you meet with longwinded people, ask the moment they get on your nerves: "We have another five minutes, what else do we need to cover?

6.      Lack of humility. Some people think that everything they say is profound and important. When they talk, they experience a rush of good feelings and they often fall in love with their own words. They may use catch phrases and complex language to impress their customers. Being expressive is nice, however good relationships require us to be receptive to others.

7.      Ineffective thinking. While some salespeople continue to hopscotch from problem to problem, others quickly get to the core of a customer's problem, solve it and close the sale. Decide which thinking style would be most helpful to achieve your objective: convergent thinking or divergent thinking? Convergent thinking leads to a focal point in the middle of a circle, divergent thinking radiates - like the sun - away from the centre in every direction. Divergent thinking opens people's minds; it leads to new ideas, thoughts and possibilities. As a result, the conversation goes on and on. Convergent thinking leads to conclusions, and concrete results, like a closed sale.