2018 Check In

 

February is quickly appearing in the rear view mirror, The goals that you set forth for the first quarter- how are they coming along?  Have you hit any of your targets?  Could you have focused better to reach more of them? I evaluate the metrics I set forth for the first quarter of the year.  How many new clients have I brought in?  How many new projects have clients singed on for?  If you are missing the mark the good news is, its only February there’s time to catch back up.  If you haven’t hit any of your goals or metrics then why?  Are your goals too substantial to be attainable?  Can you scale back your goals or can you reorganize your time to be able to devote to focusing on reaching those goals?  Many people believe that if you have your goals written in front of you where you look at them every day it provides accountability to work on those goals.  You can apply this to life and business.  Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions was to eat healthier.  If it’s written somewhere you can see it – on your calendar or on a list on your phone it may make you feel bad picking up that donut in the lunchroom.  You should have the same reaction to the busy activities that take you away from reaching your goals. Get back on track with laser focus and you will crush your 2018 goals.

You are your own C.S.O.

 

Welcome to the C suite.  Maybe your title doesn’t have “chief” in it.  If you are involved in any part of the sales process in your business, change your mentality.  If you think of yourself as a C.S.O. (Chief Sales Officer) you carry yourself with more confidence, more enthusiasm.  Study or read to advance yourself in your field or profession.  Speaking with authority on your business requires practice to come across with the right finesse. If you’ve had some sales background or training, you generally start with a script.  Something along the lines of Mr. Prospect, if I can assist you with X problem can we meet so I can show you how Y will solve it.  There is nothing wrong with a script unless it sounds like one.  If you receive a call from a telemarketer how long will they hold your attention?  Develop your own script with some bullet points that are targeted to who you are calling.  Think about how your prospect feels when they are buried in emails and reports and answers your call.  Do you sound friendly, confident, helpful?  I will let you in on a little secret.  I generally start my quest to the person I really want to speak with at a new prospect by calling the wrong person.  This is done intentionally.  I start the conversation with “I’m not sure you’re the right person I should speak with, I’m looking for the person who does X and I ask if they will help me.”  Most people want to be helpful.  Once you get connected to the correct person you can tell them how you received their name.  An internal referral is usually very helpful.  It helps you get a foot in the door.  Once you are in you can determine if you and your prospect are a good fit for each other.  Maintain your C level confidence and you will find more doors opening and referrals come piling in.

Inbox Zero…

I’m going to level with you. Emails are the new voicemail. Delete, delete, delete. Remember the day when you would get multiple voicemail messages and simply power through them by deleting all the unimportant ones?   Present day business is done through emails- love it or hate it. Between my work and personal emails, I must get close to 300 messages a day. Do I read them all? – No. I wouldn’t have time to get anything else done.

I used to fantasize about having a great email “system”. A system that would magically put my emails into folders ranked by category and importance. Then I woke up from that dream.   What are some good strategies for managing your emails – flagging by importance. It’s easy to select the flagged items to look back at. Delete the spam and put it into the spam folder so it doesn’t reappear in another form. Unsubscribe from those lists that you have no idea how they have your email address.

If these help your inbox appear less cluttered and clear your mind, then by all means put it into practice. Evaluate how email does the following for your workday:  is it a big waste of time and has more solicitations to attend an event or a conference or does it contain news that you may or may not have time to read.

How can you make your email work for you? Schedule time on your calendar during your day. This doesn’t have to be written in stone, however, time management experts indicate if you review emails once in the morning and once in the afternoon it will free up your time for other activities. I need to put this into my email practice. It’s difficult when you are waiting for a client to respond and you hear the ping of your inbox.   If you turn the sound off it’s certainly less distracting. If folders work for you then use them. It’s a great way to archive information you may need to reference later.

My goal is no longer inbox zero. It’s simply not to have messages returned as Inbox full.

Giving Thanks

The season of giving is upon us.  There are many worthwhile causes to donate your time or your hard earned money to in this season of giving .  What about you?  I don’t mean that when you are doing your holiday shopping you subscribe to the one for you two for me theory.  What I mean is to take stock in your accomplishments in the last year. How have you grown your business?  What are some new tactics you have used that are successful?  What were those big win moments of 2017?  When I evaluate a big win I look at more than the amount of the sale.  I look at markets I’ve penetrated, new clients, partnerships I’ve developed, certifications I’ve completed.

The greatest accomplishment I have is helping a client solve a problem that is too big or too time consuming for them.  I am so fortunate to have a great team that I work with that provides support with incredible knowledge and resources.  If you don’t have a team then find a network you can use or draw information from.  Over the past year I have aligned myself with some genuine people in a network who share a similar passion for business.  This is what you need to help you and your business grow.  I also subscribe to helping others grow their business or sharing a resource or contact for them when I can.  It always comes back ten-fold.

Take stock of what’s important, put those activities on repeat in the upcoming year.  Keep growing, keep learning and make it your best year yet!

Networking -the Necessity

Too many times I have heard the phrase “I have to go to a networking event.”  Why do we have so much anxiety over it?  I had a boss who used to send me to events in his place and text me asking who was there, who I met and how many business cards I collected.  The stress of networking under pressure is not a positive experience.  I have personally participated in and run various networking groups.  I have developed a system for success in attending an event or being a part of a networking group.  Here are some of my best tips:

  • You will get out of it what you put into it – if you go with a bad attitude you are likely to have a negative experience.   Networking is a way to grow your business so treat the event as such.
  • Regular attendance will boost your “brand recognition” whether you are a sole proprietor or work for a major corporation.
  • Practice your elevator speech and change it up so you don’t sound like a robot.
  • If possible look at the attendance list, this will allow you to maximize your time meeting prospects or partners you are looking to connect with.
  • Be authentic- nothing is a greater turn off than when someone is speaking with me but obviously working the room to see who they want to speak with next.
  • Go old school – use the Dale Carnegie method where you repeat the person’s name after you are introduced.  Nothing is sweeter to someone as the sound of their name.  This will also assist you in committing their name to memory.
  • Be a connector – when you meet with someone think about who you could connect them with that will benefit them.  Ask for nothing in return.  The person you connected will be grateful and return the favor.
  • If you have a tight schedule and can stop for a little while don’t announce that you are leaving or give an excuse, it makes it look like you have something better to do than being there.  Do the “Irish goodbye”  where you sneak out quietly.
  • Make sure you follow up with those you have met.  Even if you simply send a quick email saying it was nice to meet you.  You never know who they may have in their Rolodex that will further your career.

Two Ears One Mouth

We all think we have so much to say.  We think that no one is listening to us.  I invite you to take a step back.  I’ve invited myself too – I’ve been accused of talking the paint off a wall.  Many “sales people” (if you’re selling your business/yourself you fit in this category) prepare their pitch.  It could be the 15 second elevator pitch or it could be the full blown pitch deck.  When you are so focused on your own agenda you miss critical cues from whomever you are selling to.  You are on slide # 5 and the prospect is still thinking about slide #2 or they are thinking about how you really don’t understand their business or in old school sales talk- you haven’t uncovered their pain.   Don’t be so focused on your own goals that you don’t help your client get to his or hers.

Introductions to any meeting should be simply that an introduction.  This is not the time to go through the War and Peace document about your company history.  If they are a savvy consumer they already have this information from your website.  Make your presentation thought provoking.  Ask questions where the answers are not yes or no.  Try to help guide the prospect to the solution you can assist them with.  Not selling is the new selling.  I understand that may sound crazy but if you can get those you are engaging with to talk more and you can listen more it will make the end of your appointment or closing of the call that much easier.  This isn’t just about being sneaky its about having real empathy for who you are speaking with.  Being genuine will create a level of trust and you will start a relationship instead of simply a customer.

Priorities over Progress

When you ask someone about their regrets in life most people don’t respond that they wish they had spent more time at work away from their family or loves ones.   Since it is Mother’s Day weekend I started to think about how many of us as mothers or fathers have to reprioritize our lives daily.  If there is a choice over a business trip that can be scheduled over a school concert or important sporting event choose the one you would have the most regret over not attending.  What do you do if your child becomes ill or has a doctors appointment?  There are times that keeping your job or your business continuing to flourish means having to miss an event you would have liked to attend.  Don’t let the guilt consume you.  Showing your children the work ethic and commitment you posses instills in them the example to follow.

Of course if you have small children its important to prepare them for your absence.  Let them know who will be taking care of various tasks and activities it will help to alleviate some anxiety they may feel.   Give them specific times of day you will be able to speak with them during your absence.  I would try to leave some post it note messages in places they would find over the days I was gone.   When you have teenagers and you leave for a business trip they act as if they are unaffected until its dinner time and they forgot the arrangement that they were making dinner or eating cereal.

Prior to your departure and return have a family meal together if it is possible and make it special.  Special could be your regular chicken for dinner with their favorite dessert you picked up from the bakery.   It doesn’t have to be a big effort or expense just the time to show them you care.   If you choose your priorities with purpose and without regret you will be more content.

Take Some Time

Sometimes we are so busy getting to the next item on our to-do list that we forget what’s important and what we may need.  We make promises of doing something for ourselves after the next project, business trip or big family event.   What if that next project builds up on top of the current project and you miss the opportunity to spend time on something you enjoy?   Having a 24/7 world where we are all so connected can make it hard to turn off.  What would happen if you didn’t answer that email for a few hours instead of instantly?  What would happen if you spent time enjoying yourself and those around you instead of spending it documenting how much fun you are having on social media?   Sometimes the initial parameters are hard to set but once you give yourself the freedom to unplug you can actually tune in to having genuine enjoyment.  Enjoy how delicious the food is and beautiful it is on your plate without stopping to take a photo of it.   Take a short trip whether it’s a few hours from home or part of a business trip.  Don’t make a specific schedule for the trip unless of course it involves a sporting event, concert or a theatre show.  Letting your time occur organically can lead you off to experience something new and different you didn’t plan for.  We are so scheduled that if feels so free to let experiences come along instead of knowing that they will at a certain time.  I found out that trying this a few weeks ago left me feeling refreshed and ready to jump back into my regular routine with a renewed energy

How is your Focus?

A wise mentor once told me “you have to believe that what you are doing right now is the most important thing you can be doing.”   In a world of downsizing and doing more with less people there is less time for you to focus with the time you have remaining and the resources available.  If you are so busy that you feel like a Daytona 500 driver headed for the wall, take a step back and think about what is important.  About a month ago I read a book called the Brain Fog Fix by Dr. Mike Dow.  There are some great tips and ideas and if you can implement all of his practices I’m sure it would be completely life changing.  For me, I have continued with the recommended daily turmeric shot, I failed somewhat miserably in the screen time diet.  However, when I feel too connected to my electronics I sleep with my phone away from the side of my bed.  This helps with not responding to a 10:30 pm email or sending one at 2:30 am when I am wide awake – anything that is that important will be on your mind the next day.  Like it or not we are all to connected to an outside world in which we think that we must respond instantaneously.  Reading the newspaper when you have read most of the paper on line or on your phone or heard it on the radio seems so archaic.  Yet there’s something so organic and peaceful about sitting on Sunday morning and sitting quietly with a cup of coffee and the paper.    A friend of mine had me tag along to a yoga class with her around a year ago.  I have a love/hate relationship with yoga.  I feel like a newborn baby giraffe while doing the poses, and spending an hour trying to concentrate on one thing is difficult.  However, I know that being in the moment helps with focus in other areas.  Being disconnected allows you to connect with yourself.  The new “Be here Now” focus is helping people reconnect with each other people around them on a real level.  A realization brought fourth when my boss put the new ruling in place of no cellphones during company meetings. This rule made us more efficient and productive by taking away the distraction.    Find your focus and you too will see the value of connecting.

Time is on your side… or is it??

Can you relate to that old song by The Rolling Stones “Time is on my Side” or Styx’s “Too much time on my hands”?  If you do stop reading now.

Do you find yourself in the throes of that work project the night before its due?  Are you purchasing that birthday gift at the very last minute?

My friends – You may suffer from Procrastination.

Today I am going to explain how to turn that Procrastination into Organization!

I was that student working on the project the night before and up all night finishing that research paper.

I never thought of myself as a procrastinator – I got things done!  I NEVER turned in an assignment late!

Fast forward a few years and there is so much more to do!

It was at this point I realized something had to change.  The first solution to any problem is admitting you have one.  I had to admit that I had been a lifelong procrastinator.

It wasn’t until several years ago when a friend recommended a short book that can be downloaded called “Eat that Frog”.  This book by Brian Tracy has changed my life.  The Saying “Eat that Frog” can be attributed back to Mark Twain.  Mark Twain said – You have to Eat a Frog every day.  Someone asked him – What if you have two frogs.  He said “You eat the bigger and uglier one first.”

The beauty of the Eat that Frog System is simple.  If you are a list maker – like me, you make a list every day.  Most days I make a list that is too long for the hours I have in the day.  Here is where the Brian Tracy system comes into play – it starts with the List.

After you make your list (write down everything you need to get done) you start by determining what is most important and time sensitive.  What if you have multiple projects that have similar timing and importance?  This is where you have to make your decision – you have to make the determination of which frog is the bigger and uglier one.

Create blocks of time on your calendar.  If this is a new concept, then start with a timer for 5-10 minutes and work up to 30/60/90 minutes for important tasks.

Another great time saver to help you reach your goal of crossing off your to do list is learning to say NO.

This was a hard one for me – sometimes it still is!

Say no daily as part of your time management strategy.

After you prep your task to be tackled – begin immediately- set your timer if you need to.

Research has shown that it takes 21 days to form a habit.   If you really want to leave procrastination behind practice the Eat that Frog method.

You too can turn procrastination into organization!

http://www.briantracy.com/