260-255-4357 Scott@ScLoHo.net
Making Friends and Allies

Making Friends and Allies

When I was managing a sales team or interviewing a potential new team member, I would tell them that sales is one of the hardest jobs they’ll ever have and one of the easiest, it all depends on how they approach it.

Recently I have been coaching others in my profession who are in other parts of the country.  Several struggle with getting through to the person who can say yes.  It’s real easy to find people who can say no.  One of them is the “gatekeeper”.

RAB.com has more:

Empowering the Gatekeeper 

Do not bypass gatekeepers. Build alliances. Do not come down to their level. Come up to their level. You never know with whom you are talking. For all you know, the “secretary” is the owner.

Gatekeepers’ jobs are to push you away, but in the same respect it is their job to determine what might be a benefit for the company. Humanize with them. Make a joke. Have fun. Be respectful. Treat them like they are the owner.

And here’s an interesting idea — never ask for the person in charge. Assume they are the people in charge. Say you want to meet with them “and whoever else also makes the purchasing decisions.” There are two reasons here:

1) Who you think is in charge and who really is could be different people. By letting them say if they are or not, you will get the real answer;

2) At the same time, by respecting them and their importance, you are separating yourself from every other sales rep who tramples upon them with disrespect as they try to reach the decision-maker.

Source: Sales consultant/author Todd Natenberg

It’s All In Your Head

It’s All In Your Head

Yes and No.

A friend of mine Amber shared online about being sad and how she is determined not to be sad anymore.  While I was surprised to see her post online and then share via Facebook and Twitter a link to what she wrote, it dawned on me, that I had seen what she is talking about.

More than a few people have said “You’re like Amber with the volume turned down.” And that’s exactly how I’ve felt. 

I thought it was the busyness of her life.  Over the past 5+ years that I’ve know Amber, she has switched jobs, started a company with her husband, added more and more activities and duties to her everyday life and I thought she was just busy.

I was wrong.

Yes she was busy, and she was running full speed ahead.  But the weight of life was pressing down. Personal stuff that can make you said like  the passing of her grandfather whom she loved dearly. The mixture of wanting to do it all and having just 24 hours in a day.

This article is not really about my friend Amber. I am only sharing what she has shared combined with my own observations, because she shared first and inspired me to talk about this topic.

The topic of “it’s all in your head”.

The reason I say No, is it’s not just a function of our intellect.  It is also our spiritual side.  Our soul that  cannot be measured by science is involved too.  Keep that in mind as you read on.

Ambition is great, wonderful, something we applaud in others and want for ourselves.  It can also push us too much.  It can be a dark cloud that rains down condemnation when we don’t accomplish what we (or others) determined that we should do.

Life is not a steady climb up a mountain.  Each slip and fall should be a learning experience.  But sometimes we are too close to the situation to recognize the lessons right away.  Or too determined that we keep trying again and again the same way with repeated failure because we thought it was us that was the problem and not the path we were taking that was wrong.

While I am not a doctor, I know that sometimes there are links between our emotional health and mental health that can create deep scarring and may require a medical treatment to restore or control a mental health issue.

I’m not going to dive deeper into the whole mental health rabbit hole, but I’ll dance around the surface.  I have friends and relatives that have required meds to stay on top of their mental health issues.  Don’t consider yourself a freak if that’s your situation.  Instead, I urge you to seek answers.  And just because there are no visible signs such as a broken bone, there are folks among us with mental health problems that need help.  Don’t shun them.  Take it serious.

Again I must applaud my friend Amber for her courage to stop and see what was going on and then to spill her guts with everyone.  There have been words of support and thanks and encouragement all over Facebook and I’m sure in person too.

Most of our friends and family won’t do what Amber did, so we need to pay closer attention to one another and ask each other how is life for you ?  We also need to be honest and not let ourselves always say, fine, when we are not.

One last link to share with you.  I subscribe to a free email from a blog called Dumb Little Man, which is a dumb title but that’s what it is.

The article about worry is appropriate for this discussion.

 

No Easy Answers

No Easy Answers

Sometimes there are simple answers. Basic math says 4+7=11.  No argument about that, right?

But try and find an answer to a problem like poverty, gun violence, (oh, let’s stop there), and we can find simple answers too.

But not easy answers.

A simple answer is like an equation.  Do this and accomplish that.  But it may not solve the problem.

Last week I was reading articles like this one about the southern border problem.  Before I could finish, I had to start writing this article you are reading now.

Instead of using the border as my example, I’m going to take the topic of a higher education.

My wife has earned a couple of college degrees and works part time in health care.

I do not have a degree and work full time in marketing/advertising.

If my wife were to multiply her hourly wage by 40 hours (full time) she would still earn less than I do.

Fortunately her degrees are paid for.

My son and his wife both have degrees.  My daughter in law is continuing her education along with working and my son is working full time. He may go back to school someday, but that really isn’t the point.  While I am not privy to their income, I know that they have a lot of college debt.  They are like lots of people in their generation.

While the work they do is meaningful, their rate of pay is not putting them on easy street.  They have had to postpone certain things that their siblings are doing.  A big reason is that darn college debt compared to their income.

One simple answer is to have their college debt forgiven after a certain number of years.  A simple pay for ___ years and then pay no more is an idea that sounds simple enough.  But debt forgiveness these days is different than in biblical  times.  One persons debt is another persons investment.  Yes, the money you deposit in a savings account (sort of an investment) is loaned to someone else at a higher interest rate than what they are paying you.

If you wipe out a debt that is backed by an investment, you are hurting the grandma who is counting on her investments to live on.  That’s a simple answer, but not an easy answer.

Let’s try and look at it from the other side.  If they just made more money, they could pay off their education faster right?  How do they make more money?  Some say we need to increase wages, but where does the money come from to pay an increased wage?

Make a new law declaring everyone gets a pay raise would be the simple answer, but the debate on all of this is filled with pros and cons.  Depending  on the strucure of each business, they could either afford to give an increase to everyone, or an increase to a few and fire the rest to  come up with the cash, or it could put them completely under and out of business.  Again, no easy answers.

Take nearly any hot topic issue and apply the simple vs. easy answer principles I’ve mentioned and your head will explode.

But wait a second.

Because we get bogged down in the heat and passion of what we think the answer should be, we become divisive. Instead, what if we could actually have a conversation and explore the cause and effects of the ideas we have, talk with those who on the surface we disagree with and see what common ground we have that we can stand on together to explore solutions.

This is not an easy answer.  Nor is it simple.  It’s not quick, either.

It is hard and some problems and issues will never be solved.

But what if we started doing the hard stuff…

3 Social Media Tips to Stimulate Connections

3 Social Media Tips to Stimulate Connections

There are tons of articles that claim to know the secret sauce that will make you immensely popular and wealthy with social media.

This isn’t one of them.

Popularity and wealth are shallow goals in my opinion.

However they may be a result of doing others things.

I must point out again my reason for doing the things I do is to help people connect with others.

It’s that simple and that direct.  Nearly everything I do professionally and a lot of the personal stuff is about connections and relationships.

So, now that you know where I am coming from, let’s talk about these 3 significant Social Media Tips to Stimulate Connections.

  1. Pick two or more Social Media platforms that you are going to use. If you are going to stick to just two, my current recommendations are Facebook and LinkedIn. Some people like to keep their personal and professional lives separate and put only personal things on Facebook and only business related stuff on LinkedIn. I only agree with 1/2 of this method.  While I keep the stuff I put on LinkedIn related to my professional life and activities, (by not posting cat videos, for example on my LinkedIn page), I invite people I know to become a connection and friend on both platforms.
  2. Fill out your profiles on the Social Media platforms you have selected.  Nothing paints a negative image of you faster than a Social Media profile that is incomplete.  It shows that you don’t care, that you can’t be relied on to finish what you start, and if there are typos, it shows you are too lazy to spell check.  Take the time to completely fill out the basic information and  include appropriate pictures.  If you are a woman, don’t use that bikini shot from last weekend as your profile picture on LinkedIn, unless you are a model.  Guys, your Facebook profile picture should not be from your last visit to the bar, unless you work there or own the place.   Is the info on your social media profiles current, up to date and correct?  Better double check and click on those links you included a few years ago.
  3. Use your Social Media Platforms.  Go ahead and be social.  Post a picture every once in awhile to Facebook.  I will post about 5 to 10 times a week.  Not all on the same day, but nearly everyday.  Check to see who has a birthday and wish them a happy one.  Thank someone for something.  There are plenty of good things you can do with Facebook besides play games and spread hate.  Have fun.  Comment on something someone else has shared.  You are stimulating your connections by doing this.  One last tip and this pertains to LinkedIn.  At least once a year,  change your Title, the one under your name at the top of your profile.  It doesn’t have to be anything drastic.  I changed mine this week to more accurately reflect what I do.  I had several people contact me asking about what I am now doing and want to connect with me to learn more.

And one more tip.  Unless you have something to hide, make your social media profiles and posts public.  It’s all about being social after all.

Building your Business for Long Term Success

Building your Business for Long Term Success

If you are planning on running a marathon, why would you only train to run a 100 yard dash?

If you wanted to fall in love and marry someone would you go on just one date, ask them to spend the rest of their life with you and then dump them if they didn’t say yes before the date was over?

Is there anyway to shorten a 9 month pregnancy down to a couple of months and still have a healthy human baby?

 

3 seemingly unrelated questions that every business owner, manager and marketer should know the answer to.

Because these are questions that apply to your overall business and your business advertising/marketing.

Let’s tie them all together.

Starting a business that will last longer than a few months is like a marathon.  It takes time to build.  Prepare for a long journey.  A sprinter who has never run long distances will burn out and collapse very quickly. You don’t want that for your business, do you?

Plan your advertising and marketing budgets over the long haul instead of short, inconsistent bursts.  You need to invite people to spend their money with you all the time, not just when you have some extra money to advertise.

Which brings us to the whole relationship example I mentioned.  Each customer has their own timetable as to when they will be ready to buy from you.  No amount of persuasion will convince me to get my hair cut today if I just had it cut yesterday.  Oh maybe if you were to pay me 50 bucks to sit in your chair for a trim that I don’t need, but that’s stupid and not going to be the way to build long term success for your business.  Instead I (as a potential customer) need to hear about you for awhile and become familiar with who you are, what you do, and why I should spend my money with you instead of someone else.   In other words you need to court your customers instead of going for that one-night stand with them.   Long term advertising that is steady and consistent does that.

But isn’t there anyway to speed it up?  Tell that to the pregnant woman and see if it works.  I’m sure that one day science may come up with a way to shorten the 9 months, but it is going to be very expensive to cut corners and there are bound to be plenty of disastrous failures along the way.  So, no you can’t speed it up.

But I’ve seen plenty of folks make the disastrous mistake of being impatient with their advertising and marketing.  Expecting results too soon is like expecting the baby to be born after 9 weeks instead of 9 months.  It simply won’t work so don’t try and be the exception to the rule.

Here’s what you can do to be the exception.

Be different than the short sighted, poorly planned business and marketing people who waste their time and money  trying to cut corners and get rich quick by ignoring these principles.  That alone will make you one of the survivors, one of those who decided to build your business for long term success.

As always, I’m here to help.

 

My Favorite Question

My Favorite Question

When I’m teaching and training salespeople how to get the information they need to create a proposal that their prospcetive client will want to buy, I clue them in to a couple of my favorite questions.

  1. Why?
  2. Tell me more about that.

Okay, the second one isn’t really a question but it is important and by using these two in tandum, you’ll get much better information than if you simply take the first answer they give you.

RAB.com shared a related article:

In Case of an Emergency, Ask Questions 

Questions will save you.

Whenever you start to feel stressed and don’t know what to say to a customer, start asking questions. Questions are your emergency kit for all situations.

Simply asking, “Please tell me a little more about that?” or “What could we do to help you?” or “What would you like us to be able to do for you?” will often turn it all around.

Once the prospect is talking, you’ll have the opportunity to regroup and prepare your next move.

Source: Sales consultant/trainer Steve Waterhouse

Sunday Morning Moments

Sunday Morning Moments

I heard the wind blowing outside and the pavement was wet when I glanced out the window of my home office this morning. As I prepared for my typical Sunday morning, I decided to do something untypical for me.

Drive, think, talk, pray.

Oh sure I do this all the time, but today I was paying extra special attention to my actions.

The radio was off.

Sundays are a transition day for me.  Three out of Four Sundays each month you’ll find me in a favorite chair at the Firefly Coffee House on North Anthony shortly after they open at 8.

But it was only 7 when I pulled the car out of the garage this morning.

My mind had already been thinking about what I needed to do to wrap up loose ends from last week and I was looking ahead to the week ahead.

A reminder that I’m going to a baseball game Monday night get popping up on my phone as a reminder.

The first portion of my drive was to find an office where I am meeting a co-worker in about 24 hours.  As I drove north then west on Dupont, I saw this image.

It was an image of storm clouds, but with an end in sight.

As we travel down this lifelong journey, we’re sure to encounter plenty of storms.  In the midst of them, remember that there is an end, despite not being able to see it.

After scouting out the office for my Monday morning meeting, I traveled south and decided to visit the cemetery where my parents are buried.

I don’t visit very often because it’s not the place that holds any real memories for me.  I live just a few miles from the house I grew up in with my parents and that’s where I’ll go if I want to provoke those memories.

When you don’t know anyone who is buried in a cemetery, it’s pretty easy to pass them without much thought.  But several thoughts were coming and going this morning as I drove on the narrow lanes.  First I thought of the contrast in memorials that are in this cemetery.  There are lavish headstones that rise above the rest and there are simple ones that have just a name and two dates.

I was with my Mom back in 1998 when she was at this cemetery trying to pick an appropriate stone for the site that would be the final resting spot for her and my Dad.   I recall her expressing that this isn’t right, her husband was lying in a hospice bed, still alive and this was not something she wanted to do.  She did it anyway.  The stone would also include her name and one date.   Within a week my Dad passed away and the monument people added an end date behind the first date under my Dads name before it was placed as a marker of his grave.

My Mom bought one of the overpriced flower packages that the cemetery sells that keeps a seasonal arrangement at the grave year round.  I’m not sure how often she drove out there on her own over the next 3 years, but I’m sure she did.  When I visited I noticed that the grass seed over my Dads grave never came in very well even after a couple of conversations with the groundskeeping crew.

It was a surprise when 3 1/2 years later I was going through the burial of my Mom, as her death was unexpected, at least to us humans.  Which stirred up another thought this morning.  I know that I have reached and surpassed the half way point of my life unless I surpass 109 years on this earth.  My kids on the other hand still have more years ahead of them, than they’ve already lived, we believe. They’re all flirting with 30 or they’ve stepped over that decade marker.  Only God knows for sure the distance between the first date and last date.

One final thought as I was driving through the cemetery is why my Mom wanted a headstone for my Dad and not one of those plaques that lie flat and are flush with the ground.  It was so she could visit anytime she wanted and not have to step out of her car to see her husbands grave in bad weather. Oh and now that they are both buried there, the grass is rich and full.

Speaking of weather, as I was leaving the cemetery, I noticed this:

2014-07-13 07.41.28

I think I captured it a few seconds too late but what I noticed was in the midst of all those clouds that were still overhead, the sun was shining.

Not matter what storms we are experiencing, the sun has never left us, it’s still there bright as ever.

You can apply parallels to our relationship with God to this sun and storm story if you wish.  I sure did.

 

 

Backup your Backups

Backup your Backups

What would you do if you lost all of your digital data?

Over the past 11 years I have been buying my own laptop and desktop computers, I have never had a hard drive crash.

Maybe it was because I was buying a new machine every year or two and so I didn’t wear them out.

There was one place I worked that had hard drive crashes and it was after the fact that they discovered that their backups were not really being done.

(I recall 25 years ago when my Mom used to carry floppy disc backups home every night, just in case).

But any data losses I’ve personally experience was due to my own fault.  Deleting stuff that I wanted later, or saving stuff on a flash drive that I later lost.

A couple of years ago I started using Dropbox as a system that replaced my flash drive habit.

I was using flash drives to move data from one computer to another.  A work project that I wanted to complete at home, or perhaps a spreadsheet from home that I wanted to print at work.

A few years ago I had a clunky old Windows XP laptop that was owned by the company I worked for and it was nearly impossible to use, compared to my sleek Windows 7 Ultrabook laptop.  Because there were certain programs that I had to use my work laptop for, I couldn’t ditch it entirely.  But what I did was all my other work files went into a Dropbox account folder that I could access from either computer.

Later, when I was working with a brand new shiny desktop computer at work, I set up a new Dropbox account so I could have access to my work projects when I was out of the office, (which was 40 miles from home.)

But what about the backups?

I discovered the value of Dropbox as a backup service in 2013 when I left one job and they deleted all of my work Dropbox folders off my company laptop before I could move them somewhere else.  I was mad for a couple of hours until I discovered something.

Dropbox saves your stuff in two (or more) places.  It creates a Dropbox folder that resides on your computer and it also keeps an identical copy on their servers in the cloud.   Even though my former employer thought they deleted all my work product, I was able to sign in to Dropbox.com and there was all my stuff.  They don’t keep it online forever, usually 30 days or less, but I was able to recover everything I had created for work and save it again.

Want to try it?  You’ll get 2GB of free storage right away and there are ways to get up to 16GB of free storage when you refer others and they sign up for Dropbox!