#FF (Fun Friday Post) Did they hear what you said?

A wife asks her husband, “Would you please go shopping for me and buy one carton of milk and if they have avocados, get 6?”

A short time later the husband comes back with 6 cartons of milk.
The wife asks him, “Why did you buy 6 cartons of milk?”
He replied, “They had avocados.”
Comment? Other examples? Did you laugh? Shake your head? Read it again?

Answering questions? Don’t do it!

THE DRUGGIST

Upon arriving home, a husband was met at the door by his
sobbing wife. Tearfully, she explained, “It’s the druggist. He
insulted me terribly this morning on the phone. I had to call
multiple times before he would even answer the phone”.
Immediately, the husband drove downtown to confront
the druggist and demand an apology. Before he could say
more than a word or two, the druggist told him: “Now, just
a minute, listen to my side of it. This morning, the alarm
failed to go off, so I was late getting up. I went without
breakfast and hurried out to the car, just to realize that I’d
locked the house with both house and car keys inside and
had to break a window to get my keys”. “Then, driving a
little too fast, I got a speeding ticket. Later, when I was
about three blocks from the store, I had a flat tire.” “When I
finally got to the store, a bunch of people were waiting for me
to open up. I got the store opened and started waiting on these
people. All the time,the darn phone was ringing off the hook.”
He continued, “Then, I had to break a roll of nickels against the
cash register drawer to make change, and they spilled all over
the floor. I had to get down on my hands and knees to pick up
the nickels, and the phone was still ringing. When I came up I
cracked my head on the open cash drawer, staggered back
against a showcase with a bunch of perfume bottles on it.
Half of them hit the floor and broke.”
“Meanwhile, the phone
is still ringing with no let up, and I finally got back to answer it.
It was your wife. She wanted to know how to use a rectal
thermometer.”
“And believe me Mister, as God is my witness
………. all I did was tell her.”

Tonality in Email

What do you think of this exchange? I’ll share my questions at the end of the post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. (His name is not George.)

On November 21, 2012 8:18 AM, George wrote:

I’d like to add you to my professional network.
I replied, Hi George,
Do we know each other? Have we ever met or spoken?
Rick Roberge
On 11/21/12 2:57 PM, George wrote:
I participated in the training for hubspot with kurlan.
George
On 11/22/12 3:04 AM, Rick Roberge wrote:
George,
Casey Lockwood wrote a guest post for my blog last week about connecting on LinkedIn. You can read it here.
Bottom line is that I don’t know that we know each other well enough to connect, yet. However, if you’re open to having a conversation just hop on my calendar (http://therainmakermaker.youcanbook.me/) and I’ll do the rest.
Rick
On 11/26/12 at 12:43 PM, George scheduled a call with me for 12/11 with this comment. “OK, I’ll bite. I would be open to having a conversation with you.”
OK, so my questions are
Is the fact that he couldn’t come up with anything more original than “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” a sign of his interest in actually engaging?
What tonality did you hear when you read these words, “OK, I’ll bite.  I would be open to having a conversation with you.”?

I’m Not a Sales Manager

A few months ago, I noticed that @Chris_Snell retweeted one of my posts. I poked around and noticed that he also followed very cool people like Trish Bertuzzi and @damphoux. I looked at his LinkedIn profile and learned that he works at Care.com. We spoke and the bottom line is that Chris wrote one of the best articles that I’ve ever read on how a sales manager should spend their day. Here it is in his own words. Enjoy!

I’m not a sales manager. Well, technically, I am…at least that’s what is says on my business card. I don’t like to think of myself that way, though. I’ve got a bad connotation with the title, so I don’t go by it. I think of someone who’s barking demands with a fear-inducing leadership style. Never knowing if a job is secure or not, just yelling at people to do more.

When I sit in and listen in on calls with one of my reps, I’ve got a lot of things going on through my head. I’m really curious about what their prospect is going to say, but I’m much more concerned with how my rep delivers their message. Can they articulate what we do? Are they listening to the prospect? Can they handle objections on the fly? Can they build quick rapport? Were they prepared? And then once that call is over, I want to get their feedback on how they thought the call went. What worked? What didn’t? How can you improve? How can I help you improve? All this and we’ve only made one phone call! You see, I don’t really think of myself of a sales manager; really what I’m doing is coaching. I’m trying to make someone better today than they were yesterday.

People have different personalities, and that shows up in sales reps just like it does anywhere else. I need to know what makes one person tick over another. I need to know whether someone needs me to set the bar higher for them, or get down in the trenches with them and help them get out of a hole they dug. Monday’s come around like clockwork, and I want to start the week off with a word to my team that is both a kick in the ass and a pick me up. I need to know if it’s money, material items, or more time out of the office that gets my peoples engines revving. When I figure those out, I need to be able to put goals in front of them that make them stretch for their betterment. I guess you can call that being a sales manager, but I think of myself more of a motivator.

My reps time is really valuable to them, and it has to be even more valuable to me. Invites to internal meetings, issues of customer service that they’re not as equipped to handle as our customer service team may be, and requests from colleagues that take them away from their sales efforts – all of these things are distractions, and it’s really my job to keep my reps free from them. You’re in sales, you understand the necessity of hitting your goals, whether you need to hit monthly or quarterly sales goals, you know that any time off of the phone building relationships and prospecting affects you financially. If I’m not able to help keep my reps from these types of diversions, they’re going to feel it, and ultimately, so will the business. You see, I don’t really think of myself as a sales manager, but rather a guardian. I need to guard my team’s time so that they can focus on their goals.

There’s so much more that I need to do that isn’t necessarily encompassed by my title, but like I said, technically, I’m a sales manager. It even says so on my business card.

So, what do you think? You want more from Chris? Ask a question n the comments?

Sales Tools Product Reviews

As you know, I’m a salesman. Sometimes, I’m also a businessman, a bill collector, a consultant, but I’m a salesman first, last and always. I got an email today that made me reflect on how my tools have changed over the years.

30-ish years ago I used a pocket calendar. If I lost it, I lost my life. I always had a pen so that I could write in my calendar. I also always had dimes so that I could use a pay phone to make a call. Now I use Google calendar and my cell phone. No dimes. No pen. If I lose my phone, I can access my calendar from any smart phone, tablet or computer with internet access.
30-ish years ago, my car was essential. All selling was face to face. I closed deals, wrote the order, got the signature (not usually with my calendar pen) and got the deposit. I got there in my car. Remember toll receipts? Now, I have an EZ Pass.
How about postage stamps? I always had a book of stamps and #10 and #6 3/4 envelopes and my check book. Dinosaurs! I don’t go to the bank any more, mostly because I don’t take checks. PayPal does it for me.
Gmail, Google Search, Google Reader, LinkedIn, this blog, Twitter, Hootsuite, Hubspot are all right at my fingertips and are used every day.
Last summer, Carole Mahoney wrote a review of Postwire, a great tool for sharing specific content with specific people.
This is the email that prompted this post.
Hi Rick,

Just wanted to say thanks again for the great blog post you wrote about YouCanBook.Me

We’ve linked to it from our own post here: http://youcanbook.me/blog

You’ll see there we’ve decided to offer a free 6 month upgrade to anyone joining us from Tungle. This of course includes you – I’ve just upgraded your account to our Premium level. This gives you some extra features. (Don’t worry if you don’t want to continue at this level when this upgrade expires – your account will fall back gracefully to our free version).

As ever, please do let us know if there’s anything we can do to keep the system working the way you need.

Regards,

Keith Harris
Truth be told, I’ve been using YouCanBook.Me for a month, now and I can’t imagine how they could make it better, but I’ll check out the premium version and let you know (or you could check it our for yourself!)
One last thing. I need someone to write a product review for Grow by Factor Lab. You should
  • know SalesForce.com
  • work with clients that have salespeople (not just a salesperson)
  • be active in social media
Contact me if you’d like an introduction to the founder and/or write the review.
Thanks in advance!

Casey Lockwood on Social Networking

On 10/16, Casey Lockwood sent me this LinkedIn invitation. “Hi Rick,
A huge fan of what you’re doing. Know Pete Caputa, Corey Beale, and Mark R. as well.
Would love to connect professionally.
Kind Regards,
- Casey Lockwood” To which I replied, “Have we ever met or spoken?” The ensuing exchange resulted in this guest post. Enjoy!

Digital, social connectivity has changed the way we relate, refer, and reach out to our professional network.  It has transformed the way we make friends, acquire skills, get jobs, ascend the corporate ladder and build relationships.  While there are an overwhelming number of opportunities that this new connectivity presents, the onus is on us to pick up the reins and run with it.
Earned or not, we’ve all been given a microphone to use at will.  For young professionals like myself, this is truly a blessing, but it is also a curse.  With unlimited power comes unlimited possibilities to mis-step, and our digital world forgets little.

Understanding that this new “connected economy” is a powerful tool for young business professionals, a plan is essential.  

In the past, a connection with thought-leaders and mentors required attendance to expensive trade shows, ivy league schools, luck, or bribery.  Today, that connection is simply a click away. Access is no longer problem and bribery is probably inappropriate.
As I begin to grow my career in sales, I’ve built up a “dream team”.  People that I feel have the insights, perspective and intelligence that align with my beliefs, complement my motivations, and have the potential to make me better. For all intents and purposes, I will attempt to cultivate mentors a masterful arbitrage scenario of self-support and sales domination.  Joking aside, I truly feel as though I’ve identified some professional shortcomings and am trying to put people in my corner that can help me focus and improve on those weaknesses.  
I wanted to highlight a few field notes from my personal experiences over the past few months:
Be Honest, Be Open, and Smile 
 
It’s intimidating to blindly send a message to someone and ask for a relationship. It’s sort of like speed-dating with people that don’t know they’re playing the game. 
I was feverishly reading blog posts and looking through shared connections with my “targets” in order to find common ground.  Anything that illustrates “Why” you want to reach out and “How” you came across their profile will help.
An example of this is Rick Roberge.  I found Rick’s Linkedin profile and invited him to connect by relaying some shared contacts and context.  I crafted a message outlining my intentions, renegotiated my smiley face emoticon a handful of times, finally deciding to omit (smart decision) and hit send.
I was positive that I wanted to connect with Rick, but to my surprise, Rick was not only willing, but eager to connect with me as well. 
This was not an “ask and you shall receive” situation, however.  Rick would connect professionally, but he wanted something in return.  THIS, is what I see as the transformative nature of social networking.  It’s not about acquiring likes, hits, followers or comments; it’s about the relationship.  It is, after all, a network. Try to emulate the way you nurture, engage, and maintain the other relationships in your life.  They take some time, they require a bit of giving, but they’re worth their weight in gold.
So what did Rick want in return?
  • He wanted to know WHY I wanted to connect.
  • He wanted to know that he could trust me; To know and fully believe that he can connect me with his network for the benefit of both parties.
In short, he wanted to know how he could help me, and to that, I needed an answer.  
Your Plan:
Always have a plan.  Always know why you are taking each step. Always have a desired outcome but be prepared to adjust on the fly, and give back as much as you get.  A direct monetary goal is probably a bad one.  It will cloud your decision-making, taint your message, and overall feel wrong.  My networking goals today are about learning, and that goal drives the way I interact on social networks.
Your Profile:
Make sure your profile is polished: Your profile is a lot like your resume’ today.  It’s a better snap shot of who you are, it’s more up to date, and it shows your skills within the context of a greater community.  Make sure your profile is complete, polished, professional, but more importantly, personal.  Honesty is always appreciated, make your profile your own.
Stick the Landing:
What’s the worst that could happen?  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in sales it’s that the worst case scenario is a “No”.  I can live with that.  I can continue to put my best foot forward, and the future will continue to be better and brighter.  
This particular connection had a direct outcome, this blog post and to that I’m quite thankful to Rick.  Follow through with requests and promises.  Every interaction can go positive or negative depending on how that relationship is managed.
An open mind, a smile and a goal will not always get you what you want, but it has the potential to open doors in almost every aspect of your life.
If you enjoyed this article, let Casey know in the comments and read more here.

Mediocrity and the Middle Class

Yesterday I received a joke from a friend and while I was laughing and shaking my head, I posted it as “Albert Einstein on Sales“. If you didn’t see it, you should, whether you’re a 20-something or in your golden years. It’s six funny/sad pictures that depict a hilariously deadly truth.

Mediocrity is dying.
There are those that believe that the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and the middle class is being squeezed into extinction. There are also those that believe that the rich are holding the poor down and getting rich on the backs of the poor. Don’t get fired up! This is not a political debate and it’s not about good vs. evil. It’s about reality. I wrote this post about how few earn $200,000 per year in 2008 and this past July, I wrote this post about how many VSB’s earn $45,000/year.
My point is that it’s not getting better for the middle class and it’s not getting better for mediocrity. My second point is that I don’t believe that the rich are holding anybody down. Rather, I suggest that most that are or aspire to be rich give opportunities to others that are unwilling to accept mediocrity.
Let’s wrap up with three to-do’s.
  1. Stop laughing or shaking your head at people that are ‘thumbing’ their smart phones. They might be buying from your competitor. On the flip side, don’t laugh at those people that are talking on their phone. They may also be buying from your competitor. Learn to communicate the way they want to communicate.
  2. This one’s tough. Ask yourself if you’ve allowed mediocrity into your life. If you think that you may have, have a conversation with someone that won’t be nice to you. I don’t mean that they’ll be mean, but they can’t sugar-coat the truth. They have to help you dig into the what and the why. You may have to pay them for an objective analysis.
  3. Finally, hire somebody that’s different from you to help you kick start 2013. If you’re comfortable with virtual, get someone that’s comfortable with real. If you’re a technical introvert, get someone that’s a social butterfly. If you have a flip phone, get someone with a Droid (or an iPhone). The important thing is to get someone that will help you CHANGE and not allow you to be lenient with yourself.
I won’t make this #4, but stop hanging around with mediocre people. Clients, co-workers, and others will tell you not to rock the boat or that it’s not your fault or you’re doing the best that you can do. Use the Schedule a call link on my sidebar to schedule a call with me. I’ll tell you to rock the boat, it is your fault and that you can do better.

We Are All Salespeople

About a month ago, I asked a question about guest bloggers on the Independent Consultants Support Group on LinkedIn. Paul Kaerger commented in the discussion which led to an off-line conversation and the guest post below. He wondered if it would be appropriate for this blog. Would you answer his question in the comment section? Why is it appropriate?

A few years ago, I worked for an outsourcing business that had a very successful track record in retaining its clients. Its clients were blue-chip companies, the contracts were multi-year deals worth several millions pounds. 

One of the things they taught me, was that we are all salesmen. That approach contributed to the success of the company.
Did that mean we all tried to sell, to find new clients, to close deals? From the receptionist to the MD?
Of course not.
What they meant was: 
In every dealing with the client, we were to be professional. If we promised something we were to deliver it. If they called, we were to answer the phone and make sure their enquiry was dealt with.
We were to listen out for opportunities. If the client mentioned an IT related problem or an area that wasn’t working in their business, we were to pass that information up to the account managers.
We were to constantly look for ways to deliver better value to our clients. If that meant we found a way to reduce the amount of money they spent with us on a specific service, then that is what we would do, because, in the end, the bigger picture was the multi-million pound deal and not the £10,000 saving on hosting we passed on.
So, ask yourself. Is everyone in your business focusing their attentions on delivering great service to your clients? Do they make it their mission to treat your clients with respect and professionalism? Do they always listen to your clients to identify new ways in which you can help them? Do they ensure they always deliver the best value service to your clients? 
If they don’t, it is not just a case of telling them. You and they may need help understanding what great service means or you might have to put the case to your staff of the need to change.
I have seen many instances where people get so caught up in their own processes and troubles that they lose that important focus. Maybe this is where you need someone to come in and look at ways to really impress your clients. Whatever the case, business owners have to be ready to tackle this and get people on board and willing to “wow” their customers.
If you liked this article, you can read more of Paul’s articles here. Enjoy and don’t forget to comment before you leave.