-1
archive,category,category-business,category-26,stockholm-core-1.1,vcwb,woocommerce-no-js,select-theme-ver-5.1.8,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.0.2,vc_responsive
Title Image

Business

New Year, New You? How Peloton Changed My Perspective

Mastering the Customer Conversation

 

     On January 8, I received a great e-mail from Apple titled, “Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions – you’ve got goals for 2020. We’ve got apps that can help you reach them.” Thanks, Apple! Then I began to wonder why this email came out on January 8th instead of the last week in December or even the first couple of days in the new year. Here’s why.

 

     If you believe current estimates, 40 to 45% of you made one or more New Year’s Resolutions. So, let’s do the math – according to current projections, the US population coming into 2020 is ~330 million people. Thus, simple math informs us that over 132 million people made New Year’s Resolutions. 

 

     In February 2018, TIME magazine published an article referencing that research has shown that about 30% of resolution-makers give up on their goal before they even reach the two-week mark. To make it even worse, by the second week of February, some 80% of those resolution makers are back home with the remorse of disappointment.  Apple clearly knows this so they wanted to offer their “encouragement” right about the time you were starting to give up.  

 

    So I started to reflect on the #1 ranked resolution of exercising more. About 2.5 years ago, a friend of mine showed me this cool bike in his personal gym called Peloton. I originally had no intention of buying a Peloton, but I did, and now I’m a full-fledged Peloton fanatic.  Here is my Peloton story and how it makes me think differently about New Year’s Resolutions.  

 

     A little background may help. I’m a 205lb (maybe 210) runner including finishing both half and full marathons. As a runner, I knew the day would come that I would need to begin cross-training more frequently in order to achieve my goals. So about a year ago, I bought my Peloton and it sat in my basement with an occasional ride. There is no doubt that the bike, the trainers, and the technology were worth the investment. The problem was that I didn’t have a passion for cycling and no learning plan to get there. So heading into 2019, I had a New Year’s Resolution to use my bike more frequently in order to EXERCISE MORE. Guess what happened, the goal was established, but my behavior didn’t change UNTIL – my focus changed. 

 

     As I continued working on my doctoral thesis on coaching, I read a new book entitled “Helping People Change” by Richard Boyatzis, and the lightbulb went off. Change isn’t about just setting a goal and then hoping it happens. In order to really change my behavior, I needed to understand my personal vision for why I wanted to change. Using this book, here is how I reframed my goal of exercising more in 2020. 

 

 

  1. Reframe the goal (more exercise) – Moved the goal from my first thought to the last
  2. Reset the real purpose – Focus on why I want to exercise more – more energy, less stress, feeling good in my clothes, etc.
  3. Learning agenda – Understand the why behind various methods and levels of training to build excitement around learning and doing – HIIT (High-Intensity Interval), HRZ (Heart Rate Zone), Low Impact, and Tabata 
  4. Experiment and practice – have fun and reduce fear by experimenting with new rides and runs in my training  
  5. Snapshot Progress with an accountability partner – self-monitor progress in small snapshots in order (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly) and communicate with someone joining in the journey

 

     One of the most common “goals” for the new year is to increase our income or sales attainment.  That’s always easier said than done, huh? Here’s the hard question for you to ponder:

 

“What specific skill improvement steps will you take in Q1 that will make you more effective in the customer conversations you will have throughout the year?” 

 

    Do you need to improve the way you connect?  What about the way you ask questions that are prospect centric vs. self-centered? What specific training, reading or learning do you need to do to ensure you grow your skill in the coming year in a way that will help you exceed your income or sales targets?

 

    In one of our recent “Driving Change” podcasts here at Braintrust, Tom Ziglar, son of the famed speaker and author Zig Ziglar, said it this way, “Doing what you’ve always done in today’s age will actually get you less than you’re used to getting”.  He’s right. Life is moving way faster for us than previous generations.  We have to do things differently. 

  

     It is up to each of us to change the narrative. All of us at Braintrust believe that you can drive change in 2020 by changing your mindset. Set your mind on what you want your life to look like on December 31, 2020 then make a list of what needs to be different to make that vision a reality.  From there, set your action plan to remove the barriers preventing you from your best life and begin adding in the actions needed to grow. Let’s do this!   

 

Sources: 

https://proactivemindfulness.com/resolutions/statistics.htm 

https://time.com/5119144/goal-setting-new-years-resolutions 

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail 

Boyatzis, R. E., et al. (2019). Helping people change: Coaching with compassion for lifelong learning and growth. Boston, MA, Harvard Business Review Press.

 

Coaches Corner – Mastering the Coaching Conversation           

 

     Coaches – Happy New Year! You know what else Peloton has – great coaches. They inspire, push, challenge, and engage with riders and runners both in the studio and through technology. No different than what we do every day as we strive to be great coaches in 2020 with employees that we see face to face and those that we work with remotely. 

 

      My challenge for us is not to allow ourselves to think that goals are enough. Can you tap into a learning plan for each employee? Don’t leave one employee behind in 2020. As you head out of or into the performance management season, I hope that you sincerely invest the time and energy to identify the learning plan for each employee that will put them on the best path to capitalize on their strengths in order to help them perform at a higher level.       

Source: Lourie Shaull

Purpose – Thanks Salvation Army

Mastering the Customer Conversation

 

     Do you ever think about how purpose is truly the backbone of your customers’ business? How much do we really know about what is at the core of their business or what is at the heart of the companies they serve? What drives their purpose? 

 

This is our last blog of 2019, and as I sit and think about the year gone by; it is impossible not to think about my personal and professional purpose. And more importantly, the question I ask myself is “Am I able to live out my personal purpose through my profession”? This is a time that many of us take to be with family and friends and to “re-set” for the coming year. To recharge the batteries a bit. 

 

This reflection hit me a few weeks ago when I was driving to a client meeting, and I realized that I left my glasses at home. Ten years ago, this wouldn’t have been a problem but today, I needed a solution fast. Fortunately, it is not difficult to find a pair of reading glasses anymore so I pulled over, ran into the store, bought my glasses, and got to my training session on time. As I was leaving the store, I passed the Salvation Army “Red Kettle” and just kept ongoing, like many of us do. I didn’t stop to think about the purpose of the “Red Kettle” that I have seen outside stores since I was a little boy. My agenda had me on a different purpose and I just ran on by. I didn’t give it a second thought until yesterday. 

 

As I was waking up this morning and began to write this blog, I couldn’t help but think about the “Red Kettle” when it comes to purpose. I see them all the time but I often ignore them and even intentionally use a different door to get to where I need to go faster. Then it hit me, what is the real purpose of the “Red Kettle”? Have you thought about it recently, or ever? Based on this, I went to Google and typed in Red Kettle. 

 

I’ll save you the time from looking it up:  “In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. He only had one major hurdle to overcome – funding the project.” The story goes on to describe how McFee would lay awake at nights worrying about how he could find the funds to fulfill his commitment of feeding thousands of the city’s poorest individuals on Christmas Day. 

 

Based on his past experience, Captain McFee placed a pot near the Oakland Ferry Landing that had a simple sign on it; “Keep the Pot Boiling.” His passion that was filled with a purpose took off from there. Within six years, the kettle idea spread from the west coast to the east coast. Did you know this, “In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first mammoth sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden”? Today, the Salvation Army assists more than 4.5 million people during the holiday season and the tradition has spread from the US to Korea, Japan, Chile, and other European countries. Doesn’t this blow your mind – one man saw a need, problem-solved, stayed focused on purpose, and thus led to a sustainable cause that has been in existence since 1891. 

 

At Braintrust, we recently had a team conversation about our purpose.  It’s always been to help people operate from their place of purpose to help them move from a “sales” mindset to a mindset of “serving” by “solving” problems for their customers that ultimately helps them drive revenue and profits. It is so important to think and “re-set” on your purpose. 

 

Isn’t it interesting how, when we are stressed in business, that pressure tends to force us into a profit mindset, many times at the expense of purpose.  I have seen this happen and when it is sustained, it can destroy a great company. Ironically, we know that companies and individuals who learn to lead with purpose ultimately have better results when it comes to profit.   

 

As we reflect on the year that has been and dream about the year to come, it’s our hope that you will take some time to think about your purpose. Think about it from an individual, organizational, and customer level. What I love about the “Red Kettle” is that you don’t really think about the Salvation Army, you think more about the purpose of serving those less fortunate.  What’s your “Red Kettle” going to be in 2020?  

 

You are a big part of our “Red Kettle”.  To all of you that we have had the opportunity to serve in 2019, we say thanks. To those of you that we hope to have the opportunity to serve in the future, we look forward to that connection. To all of you that read our blogs or listened to our podcasts, we are committed to helping you and your business think deeper, drive change, and grow with purpose. 

 

As we close out the year, we have a straightforward request. Between now and the end of the year, take a moment, stop by a “Red Kettle,” make a contribution, and realize that you are doing a small part to fulfill a purpose and help someone less fortunate than you.         

   

 

Coaches Corner – Mastering the Coaching Conversation           

 

Coaches, I have five simple questions that I want you to ponder heading into 2020. 

 

  • Do you understand your purpose?
  • Do you understand the purpose of your team members? 
  • Do you teach people in your team about the purpose of the organization? 
  • Do you understand the purpose of your customers? 
  • Do you believe that serving your people and customers with purpose will lead to profits?
Source: Lourie Shaull

Solutions – Who is the HERO in your customer conversation?

Mastering the Customer Conversation

 

Ok, here it comes. If you go to the movies or turn on your TV, you know that it is holiday movie time. Potential blockbusters are hitting the theaters, and classic holiday movies seem to be on every channel. At a recent operations meeting within our office, we were discussing great classic holiday movies and a number of them quickly hit the list. The usual suspects came to the forefront; A Christmas Story, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Love Actually, Polar Express, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, and Elf. To my shock and amazement, the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life didn’t come up until I referenced it. In fact, a colleague of mine who is a movie buff then says something shocking…”I have never seen it!” Based on that, I went to the internet to see where this classic movie ranks.  

 

According to goodhousekeeping.com, of the 55+ Best Christmas Movies of All Time, It’s a Wonderful Life ranked #7 out of 57! The caption reads, “This 1946 Frank Capra film isn’t just one of the best Christmas movies of all time – it’s one of the best movies in general. It’s a Wonderful Life was nominated for six Academy Awards and ranks #11 on the American Film Institute’s original list of the 100 Greatest American Films of All Time.” (Matthews, 2019) Based on that, this movie is not only relevant to the season, but it is a focal point in this blog – who is the hero in your customer conversations?   

 

It always fascinates me how classics become classics. Did you know that…

     1. it was originally a 21-page Christmas card before the movie rights were purchased? 

     2. Cary Grant was set to star in the film instead of Jimmy Stewart? 

     3. the movie wasn’t originally a blockbuster? 

     4. it was actually filmed in the summer? 

 

It has become a classic, so let me set the context of this movie with two key actors in the story. 

 

In the story you have the Protagonist George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) and Clarence Odbody (played by Henry Travers), who serves as the sage or coach that is sent to help George. If we take this analogy a step further, George is the customer who has a problem and Clarence is sent to help him solve it. 

 

George lived in Bedford Falls, NY, with his wife Mary and their children. George was the loyal, committed, longtime manager of their small town building and loan company that provided loans to working people so they can buy homes. During troubled times, George knew he couldn’t kick people out of their houses and he wasn’t willing to foreclose on their properties even though he had pressure to do so. (Much like your customer, he had bosses to answer to and goals to meet.)  

Then on Christmas Eve, facing the tension between hurting the townspeople he loved to serve and financial ruin and disgrace, we find him contemplating suicide by jumping off the local bridge.  We are then introduced to the stories sage, Clarence. 

 

Clarence is an AS2 (Angels Second Class), who after 200 years, has yet to get his wings. To prepare for the assignment, Clarence watches a few scenes from George’s life which shows him all he needs to know about the selfless acts George has done for the people of Bedford.  Here is where the lightbulb went off for me. 

 

Our CEO, Jeff Bloomfield, and I were having a conversation last week about how so many sales people often fall into the trap of trying to make ourselves and/or our product the “hero” in the story. When in reality, we need to make our customers the hero of the story. 

 

If you are familiar with the Neuroselling concepts at Braintrust, this will sound familiar. You, as the sage for your customer, have the opportunity every day to make your customer the hero of the story. Are you doing that, or are you making yourself and/or your product the hero? 

 

Now back to our movie:  To the untrained storytelling eye, It would be so easy to say Clarence is the hero in the story. 

     1. Clarence comes to earth, 

     2. Gives George a solution, 

     3. George makes a decision to change (buying decision),

     4. Clarence gets his wings (reward), 

     5. Everyone lives happily ever after. 

 

Now think about your last customer conversation… Who is the hero in your story? More often than not, it looks like this: You make a sales call, and you find out your customer’s problem.  You, as the shining knight on a white horse give your customer a solution to said problem, your customer makes a buying decision, you hope they laud you with praise for saving the day for them, you get a commission or a trip to Hawaii (let’s go big), and everyone lives happily ever after.  In this all too familiar sales “story” the characters are in the wrong costumes.  

 

What if we looked at it this way:

     1. Clarence (you) is the sage, 

     2. The sage brings a solution to solve George’s (your customer) problem, 

     3. George((your customer) makes a buying decision, 

     4. George (your customer) uses your sage solution to solve the problem and becomes the real hero of the story inside the company.

     5. George (your customer) now trusts Clarence (you) even more and goes to you (buys more) time and time again.  

 

If you do this, George (your customer) wins, Clarence (you) still gets his wings, and yes, you get your commission or trip to Hawaii! 

 

In the final scene, Clarence gives George a book with a note in it.  The note read the following – “Remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the Wings!” – Love, Clarence. 

 

The bell rings and George’s daughter says, “the teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” When your customer becomes the hero of your conversation, the bell still rings for you. As professional communicators, this is so important for us to understand. Now – go watch the movie! (And use this lesson to change your next customer conversation!)

   

Source: Goodhousekeeping.com, November 26, 2019

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/christmas-ideas/g1315/best-christmas-movies/?slide=7

 

Coaches Corner – Mastering the Coaching Conversation           

 

Coaches, do you make your team members the hero of the story? I recently heard a speaker say the following, “we must lower ourselves in order to lift others up.” As you read the blog this week, I want us to challenge ourselves as coaches regarding our conversations to see if we are lifting up ourselves as we coach or are we lifting up others? Are we solving problems so we are the hero, or so that our team members are the hero? The concepts from above apply to our daily conversations with our team members. 

 

It is a mindset to realize that we are the sage/coach and that we must help identify the roadblocks that stand in the way of our people so that when we can offer or co-create solutions. These solutions are then centered in a place that is driven by helping our players be the hero of the story. This is so difficult to do in practice but it is something we must practice with vigilance if we want to win for the long-haul.       

 

Your challenge for today is to think about being the coach that guides your team member, so they become the hero of the story.

Source: Capra, Frank, and James Stewart. It’s a Wonderful Life. Los Angeles, CA: Liberty Films, 1946.

Anchors Away – How Your Subconscious Reference Points Drive Your Buying Behavior!

Mastering the Customer Conversation

 

Hang on everybody. We are heading into the whirlwind of the holiday frenzy over the next 30 days. Sources report that the craziness actually begins in September! Let’s be honest, in the US, we really have two new non-official holidays in this country – “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” 

 

The holiday season is reported as the largest economic stimulus for many nations around the world as sales increase in almost all retail areas. According to Statista, retail sales generate in excess of three trillion U.S. dollars during the holidays. Process these amazing insights for a moment (staatista.com, 2019). 

 

  • US consumers expect to spend $794 on average for gifts this season 
  • In 2015, there were over 120M shoppers on Cyber Monday 
  • The average number of holiday gifts expected to be purchased by U.S. consumers is 14.9
  • In 2017, U.S. Christmas tree sales alone were valued at over $2B 

 

I want to introduce a concept called “anchoring.” You might be asking, what is anchoring? Anchoring is a form of cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions.  We then use that information to compare to our own past experience to determine some form of “value” that helps us make decisions.   

 

This concept became overwhelmingly clear to me in a recent conversation I had with my wife. We were discussing a shopping experience she had at Nordstrom. As she walks into the kitchen, she says, “Dan, you are not going to believe the deal I got on these new shoes.” I then respond with, “Oh, please share the great news with me.” Yes, there is a little sarcasm built into my response. My wife then responds with, “These shoes were originally marked at over $100, but that price was crossed off, and I got them for less than $50!” It hits me like an anchor dragging you down to the bottom of the ocean. This conversation that we have had over the past 30 years is really just the anchoring effect in all its glory! 

 

Think about it. My wife is justifying her buying decision by anchoring the value of the purchase on the original price. This type of phenomenon happens to all of us every day. In fact retailers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are banking on it! So, here is what I want you to do. When you hit the malls or the computer over the next 30 plus days, and you are about to add something to your shopping cart or online basket, think about the anchor that is set, which has just influenced your buying decision. At that point, just smile!         

 

As we think about the holidays, isn’t there this fantastic juxtaposition of anxiety and joy as we ponder what was in 2019 and what we plan for in 2020. In business, we are continually thinking about closing the year strong and getting off to a fast start in 2020. Personally, we are processing what has been over the past year with the excitement of what will come in the new year. 

 

Throughout the past year, we have all made decisions based on anchor points. Guess what, so have your customers. Here is an essential question for you in the customer conversation, “do you know your customer’s anchor points and can you quantify them?” Why are these so important? As we all know, our customers have made many decisions long before we ever arrived. Do you realize that when you are asking them to change, you are actually telling them that what they were doing before is wrong? You are basically ignoring their anchors. This sets up a natural barrier to change and slows down the decision-making and buying process. 

 

On my shopping list for you, I want you to think about three simple questions when it comes to anchor points. 

 

  1. What are the influences or anchors that drove your customer’s prior buying decisions?
  2. How long has it been since your customer has made a change in their buying process? 
  3. Can you quantify the anchors from your buyer’s perspective when it comes to the problems you are trying to solve with your product or service?

 

If you can answer these questions, then you will be on the road to having your customers put your product or solution into their shopping cart. 

  

Source: Statist.com, April 5, 2019

 

Coaches Corner – Mastering the Coaching Conversation

 

Coaches, do you understand the anchor points that your team members carry with them on a day to day basis? As you head into your next employee conversation, I challenge you to think about the last conversation you had and/or the previous formal documentation you made post an employee conversation. At Braintrust, we often refer to these anchors that your employees carry as the “junk in the brain trunk” or the “crap in the backpack.” I fully appreciate that your employees don’t usually walk into your office with their backpack on (some of your millennials might) but metaphorically they are carrying it. The pack can keep getting heavier with a whole host of historical anchors that have been filed and stored away by your team member and long forgotten by you. 

 

After you reflect on the last conversation, take the time to actually review your notes, and see how many items in the feedback you provided were actually focused on facilitating learning and growth for your employees. There is a powerful antidote when your coaching comes from a position of facilitated learning. It actually lightens the load in the backpack and changes anchor points for your team members. 

 

Your challenge for today is to think about the anchors that you have helped to set for your employees, deliver coaching from a learning perspective, and watch the “junk in the brain trunk” actually change. 

You’ve Got Problems? – Well, I’ve Got Watches!

Mastering the Customer Conversation

If you have been to New York City at any point in your life, you can probably close your eyes and visualize the food and merchandising street vendors as you walk through the streets and maneuver around the traffic, beeping horns, smoke coming up from the streets, and the constant scaffolding that you walk under as buildings are under continuous restoration. The natural energy and buzz of NYC make it one of the best cities in the world!  With that as my mental backdrop, I did a bit of research on the history of street vendors in NYC.  

 

I was surprised to learn that all the way back in 1609, the earliest known street foods were actually oysters and clams when Henry Hudson discovered one of the world’s most impressive harbors that had over 220,000 acres of oyster beds on the harbor floor, totaling almost half the world’s entire oyster population (Gannon, 2017). Isn’t that crazy?! Not sure I would be up for oysters in the streets of NYC. I’ll stick with a great hot dog.

 

Ever since then, people have been making a living selling on the streets of NYC through both good and bad times. Just like every business, the street vending business goes through cycles and changes but still must find a way to solve the objectives and problems of their customers to maximize their results. Today, there are over 12,000 street vendors in NYC and over 800 licenses for general merchandising with thousands on a waitlist. 

 

What in the world does this have to do with you as a salesperson, you ask?  A few years ago, my family and I traveled to New York City during the Christmas season to see a Broadway show and shop in the city. As I was walking down the crowded streets, I observed the street vendors selling items from their street-side booths. These booths were filled with multiple products, wide-ranging price points, and varying levels of quality. One table I clearly remember was filled with watches, jewelry, hats, and scarfs. I remember being interested in picking up an inexpensive sports watch as I walked up to the booth. I had already made up my mind that I was going to buy a watch to wear around the city before even approaching the vendor. My problem was that I had left my watch back in Cincinnati, and I just needed an inexpensive option to get me through the weekend. As I walked up to the booth, it was at that point where everything went wrong. 

 

Not only did the street vendor NOT attempt to make a connection with me, but he clearly didn’t try to understand my problem. He wanted to do what many of us do – you see someone that is even remotely interested in your product and service, and you rush to showing as many “watches” as possible. He immediately shifted an interested buyer to a defensive buyer, and I walked away. In the blink of an eye, his sale was gone. At that point, he actually put me into a fight or flight mindset, and I chose the flight option. I had a problem and a need, and he had a product. This should have been simple, right? 

Now you may be saying; I would never do that as a sales professional. Research from the BrevetGroup reports that only 13% of customers believe a salesperson can understand their needs and problems. The street vendor saw the interaction and conversation through his eyes and not mine. He lost the focus on solving my problem and instead, simply tried to sell me a product, any product he had, in fact. 

 

If you don’t understand and document your customers’ challenges and problems ahead of your interaction, you will statistically do no better than the street vendor. You have to resist the urge to see a prospect as a potential “transaction” whereby you open your trenchcoat and say “I see you have two wrists…well, I’ve got watches!”  

 

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a life insurance policy, a piece of manufacturing equipment, a pharmaceutical product or a multi-million-dollar apartment in NYC, you must understand the problems your customers face in order to be a trusted advisor to them. So, here are a couple of practical tips. 

 

  1. Do your homework and document your customers’ problems ahead of your call, this will show them that you care about what they care about. 
  2. Do not quickly move from surface-level rapport building to your product. You must build a genuine connection, understand your buyer’s problems to allow your product or service to be the hero of the story.
  3. Ask the right questions to not only uncover the customer’s problem but show empathy towards the impact that problem may be having on them.  
  4. Do not forget to link your product value (features and benefits) back to the customers’ objectives and problems. If you do this right, it will increase the urgency to change because you are focused on them, not you. 

 

Lastly, it is critically important to remember that problems evoke emotions and products evoke judgment. When you realize that you are reducing emotions in your customers by solving their problems, you will win more opportunities. International best-selling author and Pastor Rick Warren illustrates it best in his #1 New York Times bestseller; The Purpose Driven Life: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others.” My other favorite is, “It’s not about you.”

 

http://www.nyc.gov

https://www.6sqft.com/from-oysters-to-falafel-the-complete-history-of-street-vending-in-nyc/   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzdvx3ENG0g

https://blog.thebrevetgroup.com/21-mind-blowing-sales-stats

Warren, R., 2002. The Purpose Driven Life. Michigan: Zondervan.

    

 

Coaches Corner – Mastering the Coaching Conversation 

 

Coaches, do you understand the problems that your team members face when they come to see you? Do you coach with their problems in mind or yours? As my business partner, Jeff Bloomfield’s Papaw, taught him many years ago, “problem solvers rule the world.” However, it is not about rushing to a quick solution so that you can get your team members out of your office and back to work. At times, there is an easy solution and no doubt that context matters. Our challenge as coaches is to understand each situation. It is truly about understanding the problem, asking insightful, and provocative questions to help your team members learn new ways to solve their problems. If you can do this in an empathic way, then your team members will grow in their trust in you as their leader-coach. 

 

In this episode of the coaches’ corner, I want you to think about having a stopwatch in your head. The next time one of your team members brings you a problem, pretend that you are starting the stopwatch. See how long it takes you to process your team members’ comments and move to a solution. What I would recommend is that you slow down the time, really listen to the problem, and remember that our job is not to fix everything. Great coaches ask great questions. Enough questions, in fact, until their team members can arrive at a potential solution on their own. Our job is to help our team members learn. If you solve problems from a learning perspective rather than a fixing perspective, the individual will have a much better shot at sustained change. You just have to remember that it’s not about you having the “answer”, it’s about them coming up with the right “solution”.  When you don’t care who gets credit, ironically, they will inevitably give the credit to you, their favorite coach.

Objectives – The 6:00 AM Question!

Mastering the Customer Conversation

 

Have you ever asked yourself a simple question? What does my customer think about every day at 6:00 AM when they are getting ready for or driving to work?

 

How many of us have those sleepless nights where we keep running over all the things we have to do in the coming days, weeks, and months ahead? It feels as if we are on a hamster wheel, and it won’t stop. The night feels long, and the stress is real. At some point, we finally fall asleep. If you’re like me, you might wake up in the middle of the night, walk down to your home office and make a list on the whiteboard. Yes, I actually do that! Once I make a list, I find that I fall asleep faster. A good friend of mine keeps a scratch pad and a pen on the nightstand next to his bed in case he can’t sleep or if he wakes up with a great idea. I should remind him that he can record a voice memo on his Apple Watch and then go back to sleep.

 

A simple life tip for all of us that deal with stress is… we need rest! After a night of sleep, isn’t it amazing how the world seems clearer and calmer in the morning BEFORE we are flooded with communication from all angles? Now ask yourself this question, wouldn’t you love to have the list of the things that keeps your buyers awake at night? Is it revenue, satisfied clients, service innovation, turnover, referrals, company politics?

 

If you really want to connect with your customers, then you must put yourself in their shoes and think about their list. NOT YOURS! Here is the good news; in most cases, you already have the list. You just haven’t taken the time to think about it, document it and then activate that knowledge early in your customer conversations (after building trust via an authentic connection). You talk to prospects every day. If you take the time to step back and think about your buyers’ world and not yours, you can quickly come up with a “top 5” set of objectives and challenges that are at the forefront of your customers’ minds. Until you understand these objectives and challenges, how can you apply your product or service in the most meaningful way? Once you change your perspective, you begin to change the way you communicate.

 

Here are 5 practical approaches to building an objective centered relationship.

 

  1. Make a list of the top five (no more) objectives of your buyer
  2. Make a list of the top five (no more) challenges of your buyer
  3. Force rank those objectives and challenges from 1-5
  4. Highlight the objectives/challenges that you can uniquely solve
  5. After you build trust, discuss those objectives/challenges from a knowledge position supported with provocative and insightful questions

 

Once you do this work and can apply this early in the conversation, the speed of which your buyers will make a decision will increase. You never know, you may actually help someone sleep better at night because their list just got shorter.

 

Coaches Corner – Mastering the Coaching Conversation

 

Coaches, do you understand the objectives and challenges for each of your team members? Do you coach with their objectives and challenges in mind or yours? Here is a secret in coaching, help your players achieve their objectives, and yours will also be fulfilled. It is no surprise that each of our team members carries their own list of things that keep them awake at night. We have to take the time to tap into that list.  Over the next 30 days, I would like you to complete an exercise that might actually surprise you.

 

At the end of October, I want you to go back to your calendar and calculate how many hours you spent in 1:1 conversation with your team members. I’m talking about dedicated conversations with quality time. After you do this exercise, it may shock you how little time you actually spend with your team. If you’re not spending time, then you are making it difficult for yourself. However if you are spending quality people/relational time vs. task/transactional time then good for you, keep it up!

 

By making a simple change in the fourth quarter to quality time, it just may help you put your team members’ objectives/challenges at the forefront of your relationships as we close out 2019 and head into 2020.

Trust – A Key To Relationships!

Mastering the Customer Conversation

  

I want to share a recent experience with you. I recently had an opportunity to coach one of our clients, and they said something striking to me. “I’ve been in the sales profession for over 10 years, and all my clients already know me well. How am I going to implement the techniques of building connection and trust when I already have it?” My first response was going to be this…”If you already have it, and you are surpassing both your personal and professional aspirations then why do you need me?” After processing my emotions for a second, I decided to use a different approach. 

 

I thought back to a comment that my friend and business partner, Jeff Bloomfield, states in our training and coaching sessions – “If you walk into someone’s office, and you see a picture on the wall of that person sailing, and you happen to be drinking a bottle of water, do you say, oh great news, you sail and I drink water, we must have something in common!” I hope that some of you are laughing at this point, but the real question is how often do we confuse surface-level relationships with deep-level relationships?  I’m referring to relationships that have trust in the center. This applies to all of us whether we have been in our jobs for 1 year or 25. 

 

Here is what I would like you to do. Think of a personal or professional relationship where you have a deep-level connection built on the foundation of trust. If you can visualize someone at this moment in time, then you know what I’m talking about. Now ask yourselves this, how many of these relationships do you have within your personal and professional network? The answer might surprise you. 

 

We have to be honest with ourselves.  We often approach relationships from a self-preservation mindset. This type of mindset is really centered on us. In order to move from a mindset to a mind-shift, we must genuinely and authentically care about the other person. This is commonly referred to as empathy. In a 2008 article in the Journal of Management Behavior (Boyatzis), empathy is defined as sensing others’ feelings and perspectives and taking an active interest in others. In order to live this out, our focus must be on the other person and not ourselves. This is really hard to do. If we can do this, we will be on the road to building trust centered relationships that are filled with both a personal connection and professional credibility. 

 

 

Here are five practical approaches to building a trust centered relationship. 

 

  1. Be vulnerable so that someone can see your authentic self
  2. Ask the question from our last blog – “Why do you do what you do?”
  3. Actively listen – you heard me, I’m saying active listening not just hearing
  4. Have other-person preservation in mind rather than a self-preservation mindset 
  5. Demonstrate empathy – this means you actually have to care

 

Next time you are with a current client, new client, or a friend, ask yourself if you have a surface or deep-level relationship with that person. You might find that you are actually challenged by your answer! 

 

Coaches Corner – Mastering the Coaching Conversation           

 

Hey coaches, after each of our blogs, we are going to provide a coaches corner tip. Here is my question for you today. Do you have a deep-level trusting relationship with each of your team members? Challenge yourself before you quickly answer. Here is a secret. You can’t win without your team. I’m not talking about your 1 or 2 superstars. I’m talking about the entire team. 

 

Now that football season is upon us, we are reminded every Sunday that one person or one play doesn’t win a game. It is more complicated than that, and we, as coaches, all know it. Do you inadvertently put your team members into “in-groups” or “out-groups” (Leader-Member Exchange Model, Graen, and Dansereau)? The reality is that we do this and sometimes it is even subconscious. Here is your challenge this season. Utilize the five steps above and have a game-changing discussion with each of your team members over the next 30-60 days. 

 

I guarantee you this…you will learn something new and thus begin or continue the process of building a deep-level trusting relationship with your team members. I look forward to reading your stories.       

Driving Change – Understanding Your Why!

In our training sessions at Braintrust, we often show a picture that illustrates a caterpillar going through the change to a butterfly. We will ask our participants to tell us what they are looking at. We will immediately have someone say, that is a picture of a caterpillar. Someone else will then say, it is a picture of a butterfly. Almost always, someone will then report it is a caterpillar changing to a butterfly. Then the magic word will come out – metamorphosis. I will then ask what happens when a caterpillar transforms through metamorphosis to a butterfly. Someone will respond that the butterfly “can’t go back” to the way they were before.

 

Have you ever had that moment when looking back on it now, you know it was a “moment” that had a significant directional impact on your life?  In 2015, I had spent 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry. At this stage of my career, I had one of those “moments” and made an unusual decision. The decision was to apply for a position within the Ph.D. program at Case Western Reserve University. You may be thinking, who in their right mind begins a Ph.D. program 25 years into their career. To be honest, I wasn’t sure. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t even explain to my wife why I wanted to begin the program. All I knew is what I was about to do, not why I was going to do it. Yes, you are correct. It is unusual to invest five years of time and money into a management Ph.D. programs if you can’t explain why. I guess sometimes in life; it is possible to know “what” you’re doing without having complete clarity on “why” we are doing it.  That usually doesn’t last long, does it?  What without “why” often isn’t very sustainable.  

 

On August 24th, 2015, I was driving from Cincinnati to Cleveland to begin the program when I received a phone call from my brother. He asked me a question that would start to change the trajectory of my professional and personal journey. He asked a simple question, “why are you starting this journey?” After a brief conversation, I said the word transformation. The type of transformation where you don’t go back. A metamorphic change! The note that you see attached to this blog is the note that I wrote to myself at 6:00 AM on August 25, 2015 – “transformation – let the journey begin!” I have kept this note with me for the past five years.  I still didn’t have a complete picture of the end destination, but I knew that I wanted to do something that would have a lasting impact on others. Something that would make a difference.  

I have a question for you, “Why do you do what you do?” As a coach and professor, I have had the opportunity to spend hundreds of hours coaching and reading stories of why people do what they do. It is incredible how our “why” stories are connected to Sages that have impacted the beliefs that unfold the narratives that make us who we are. When you understand your why and the why of your team members, you begin a process that transforms your ability to both understand yourself and connect with each other on a much more meaningful level. Why then is it our default inclination is to ask people what they do rather than why they do it? The next time you sit down with someone for a cup of coffee, have a 1:1 feedback session with a colleague, make a phone call to a relative or go to a dinner party, I’d ask you to start the conversation with a question.  “Why do you do what you do”?  You will be shocked by the stories that unfold!

 

In my Ph.D. program, I have had the privilege of being mentored by Richard Boyatzis, Ph.D. In his recent book Helping People Change (Boyatzis/Smith/Van Oosten) that was just released by the Harvard Business Review Press, I was inspired by the definition of a coach – “facilitative or helping relationships with the purpose of achieving some type of change, learning, or new level of individual or organizational performance.” If you want to build strong relationships in business and in life, then take the time to understand the WHY of those people around you. It will begin a journey of transformation.

How to Use Visual Storytelling in Your Sales Calls

 
 

Humans love visuals. Why do you think feature-length films and video streaming services are so popular? When storytelling is presented in a visual medium, something changes in the human brain that fires on all cylinders and activates areas deep within our brain that allow us to deeply process information.

 

Storytelling in sales and marketing is no different.

 

In this episode, Jeff discusses:

 

-The power of visual storytelling techniques and their direct connection with influence

 

-The use of illustrations, analogies, metaphors, and visual aids in storytelling

 

-A familiar narrative pattern that is used in stories and how using a story to influence the customer is going to be much more effective when building that relationship and using your influence

 

 

Sound like something you and your team could learn from?

 

Check out the podcast!

3 Reasons Sales Leaders Are Losing Their Jobs

When I was back in corporate America, I remember moving from one role to the next in order to learn as much as possible and “climb” my way up the corporate ladder. I’d move from the field to marketing, to sales management, back to marketing, then to a higher level of sales leadership, all the while keeping my eye on the dream prize, Executive Vice President of Sales. One might think that a position of such importance and stature would be filled by the greatest minds in our industry and would very seldom come open. To my encouragement, and at the time naivety, that position seemed to open up every couple of years. As I got closer to the top of the pyramid, I began to notice the revolving trend. I began to ask what was causing the consistent turnover in that position. The answers I received were clouded and cloaked in politics, but always came down to the same three reasons:

 

1.  Not enough revenue growth

2. Not enough revenue growth

3. Not enough revenue growth

 

Were there other reasons, like managing budgets and developing better leaders? Yes, of course. But, ultimately, it always came down to one thing: not enough revenue growth.

 

In today’s landscape, CEOs and Boards of Directors are increasingly impatient for sales performance and results. The proverbial hatchet seems to fall most easily on the head of sales, regardless of the environment or extenuating circumstances.

 

As a result of this pressure to succeed, disparate and desperate attempts to solve the sales problem lead to cobbled-together solutions.

 

If we only had better leads…

 

If we only had a better CRM…

 

If we only had a more competitive pricing strategy…

 

If we only had better technology in the hands of our salespeople…

 

If we only had better product training…

 

If we only had better frontline managers who knew how to hold people accountable…

 

And on and on…

 

 

While these issues may be real and need solving, they aren’t the primary problem.

 

The real problem lies in your sales team’s inability to create true connection, differentiate themselves and your company, and bring industry-relevant insight into the customer conversation.

 

In other words, the problem is communication. Period. If your salespeople could create trust, educate the buyer around their unrecognized needs, and articulate a buying vision focused on a differentiated solution, you would never miss quota again. Yet…

 

Only 13% of buyers believe a typical sales rep understands their business issues and can articulate how to solve them. And…

 

89% of meetings between your salespeople and prospects are deemed failures (Forrester Research).

 

As you can see, there is no CRM, product training, pricing strategy change, or enhanced technology solution that can help your sales reps have a more productive conversation with your prospects. The harsh reality is that your sales reps’ ability to communicate effectively will help you hit your corporate growth number, or their inability to communicate will force you to hit the executive recruiter’s website with a fresh resume.