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Love What You Do

One of the things I enjoy most about what I do, is that I get to meet a lot of successful people. I love speaking with them about how they got to be successful and I love hearing their stories of how they started and eventually got to where they are now.

I’ve learned two very important lessons from all of these successful people:

1. There was no one "by book the book" way of doing it. Each one of these successful people had their own way of achieving success. They followed a path that suited them best, by determining what was most important in their lives. Looking at what other successful people do and doing the same thing is not always going to work for you. Especially if the person you’re copying doesn’t have similar values, priorities and goals. Look for successful people who are doing what you want to do, in the same way you want to do it.

2. They all "Love what they do." If there is one common thread that runs through all the successful people I’ve met, it’s that they absolutely, positively, love what they do. The single, biggest reason they do it, is they love it. Successful people believe that what they do helps the people they do it for. For example, successful salespeople really, truly believe they don’t sell, they believe they help. Their attitude is; "I can’t help you unless you see me, and once you see me, I certainly can’t help you unless you buy something from me."

Successful salespeople believe their products and services are the best. They are convinced that if they allow a customer to buy from the competition, they have allowed them to buy second best and, therefore, have done them a terrible disservice. If you really believe what you do is the best, then it is your obligation to make sure people buy from you.

Successful people don’t do what they do for the money. They do it because they love it and that is why they earn a lot of money. The money is a by-product of their attitude and action.

I remember many years ago watching a TV talk show whose guests were famous female entrepreneurs. One of the women was asked the following question: "I want to start my own business. How do I decide what kind of business to go into?" She replied, "The best way to do it is to find something you love doing and just do it all the time: even if you have to give it away for nothing."

When starting a new career or a new business, the money is always the last thing to show up. If you don’t love what you’re doing, what’s going to get you through the tough days before it arrives?

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‘LUCKY’ PEOPLE: A Matter of Chance?

Why do some people seem to "get all the breaks?" Is it just dumb luck?

The fact is, "lucky" people move through life with a different attitude than most. They prepare for their "breaks," and develop habits that capitalize on good fortune. Adopting these habits can enhance your chance of success.

1. Take Calculated Risks. "Lucky" people know the difference between risky and rash, between an informed hunch and a vain hope. They are constantly tucking away information to enhance their intuition. "Lucky" people perform acts that seem daring, but they are playing out informed hunches with a clear sense of the probability of success.

2. Turn problems into opportunities. "Lucky" people take a second look at things others barely see the first time. An irate banker demanded that Alexander Graham Bell remove "that toy" from his office. "That toy" was the telephone. Henry Ford’s largest original investor sold all his stock in 1906. The next time somebody offers you an idea that leaves you cold, put it on the back burner. It might warm up.

3. Know when to back off. Unlucky people are often stubborn. Out of ego or ignorance, they don’t know when to cut their losses and change course. "Lucky" people have a knack for "getting out when the getting is good." The ability to gauge risk is crucial. Never take on things that you can’t see the end to.

4. Reach out to people. "Lucky" people are never too busy to meet new people and to keep up old acquaintances. They join clubs and professional organizations. They talk and are talked about. The head of a New York executive search firm said many of his prospects for top jobs "are simply people who have made themselves known to other people."

5. Use persistence creatively. Successful people have the determination to "butt their heads against the wall," but they use that resolve more efficiently by looking at the wall for loose stones, low spots, or hidden gates.

6. Spell luck, W-O-R-K. This is one of the hardest lessons to grasp because some people make it all look so easy. We see them enjoying the fruit and have no idea what it takes to plant and water the tree. Jimmy Cagney watched Bing Crosby, the epitome of the relaxed performer, effortlessly chat with the audience and sing a few songs. However, when he came off the stage he was soaked with sweat. He was giving everything he had in every note and the apparent effortlessness was a part of his very hard work.

The secrets of success are neither dark nor deep. They do not exclude happy chance or unfortunate circumstance; they merely deny that these things should rule our lives.

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Handling Rejection

Do you need help handling rejection in sales? Click here.

Plain and simple, selling is all about rejection and rejection stinks! Over the years I’ve heard many sales trainers say that in order to "handle" rejection, "Don’t take it personally."

Baloney! Rejection stinks and you can’t help but take it personally. Almost everything in life is personal. Have you ever had someone say to you, "Don’t take this personally, but…?" No matter what they say next, you’re going to take it personally.

Now while I’ve just painted a bleak picture about rejection and selling there is some good news: There is one very good way to handle rejection: KNOW HOW MUCH REJECTION YOU NEED. Because only if you know how much rejection you need, can you legitimately formulate a sales or activity plan.

What is your closing ratio? What percentage of appointments, that you set up get cancelled? How many phone conversations do you need to have, on average, to get one appointment? How many times do you physically have to dial the phone, on average, to reach a decision maker?

Every salesperson has an average, even if they don’t know what it is, they still have one. The best part is; it doesn’t matter what your average (or what I call your "a lot.") is, what matters is that you know what it is.

For example, if Salesperson A has a closing ratio of 4 to 1 and needs to close 10 sales in a month, he or she would need to have 40 face to face appointments to achieve the sales goal. If Salesperson B has a closing ratio of 6 to 1 he or she would need to have 60 face to face appointments to accomplish the same 10 sales.

Here’s where knowing how much rejection you need comes in: let’s say in the next month Salesperson A has 40 face to face appointments and Salesperson B has 50. Without knowing the numbers you would probably say Salesperson B did "a lot." But they didn’t’; because they’re "a lot" was 60. Salesperson A did a lot. He or she did what was needed to achieve the goal. Salesperson B might have worked harder. But Salesperson A worked smarter.

Knowing your numbers is also important in that it helps you spot trouble areas. Let’s say it normally takes 3 dials on average to reach a decision maker. By tracking yourself, you notice over the last few weeks it’s taking 5 dials. Now, because you tracked it, you can figure out what’s wrong. One thing might be that you changed the time of day when you normally do your dialing.

If you never bother to track your numbers, or activity, you would never catch something like that. Plus, by not knowing your averages (or your "a lot") you’ll never be able to know exactly how much rejection you need, and then rejection will truly stink.

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Why Should I Care?

This week I attended the National Speakers Association Annual Convention. It was in Atlanta at the Downtown Hyatt and my wife and I stayed across the street at the Marriott Marquis.

I’ve always been a big fan of Marriott. To me, they were always the most consistent of the Chain Business Hotels (Hilton, Hyatt, Radisson, Sheraton, Westin, etc.). Unfortunately, this stay has started to shake my opinion.

We arrived at 4:30PM only to be told our room hadn’t been cleaned yet. I had just driven six hours to get there, the convention was starting at 6PM and both of us needed to get to our room to unpack and change.

When I told this to the desk clerk she said, “You can change at the Fitness Center.” I said, “Am I also supposed to drag that entire trolley of bags with me (we were going on to Hilton Head and Savannah after Atlanta)?” I said, “This is unacceptable.”

She then told me she would contact housekeeping and tell them to have the room cleaned “as soon as possible.” I said, “What does that mean? Does that mean five minutes, ten minutes, an hour, what?” She said, “Sir, I have no control over that, that’s up to housekeeping.” In other words, “I can’t and won’t do anything for you, so I’ll just shift the blame to housekeeping.”

She proceeded to tell me that, “Last night we were completely full and most of the people left today and we haven’t had a chance to clean the rooms.” Here’s my response to that: “Who cares, and why should I care?”

Am I going to receive a “We were full last night discount?” Probably not; in fact, I’m paying the same price I would pay if my room was ready on time. Of course, once I let it be known I was one customer they couldn’t get away with this on, miraculously a clean room appeared.

One night later we ate at the Marriott Steakhouse. We sat down at 6:45PM and didn’t receive out entrees till 8:15PM. When we complained to the manager he was apologetic, but then proceeded to tell us “We’re having issues in the kitchen tonight.” Again, who cares? When we sat down the menu they handed us had the same prices as the menus have on the nights when the kitchen is operating efficiently.

Why do so many companies, salespeople and service people insist on telling us why they’re inconveniencing us? Are we supposed to feel sorry for them: especially when we’re being charged the same amount as the people who are getting the good service?

By the way, the manager at the Marriott reduced our bill by 50%, but not until we approached them and demanded they do something about it. Don’t you think it would have been a lot better if someone would have taken the initiative?

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Sun Tzu: The Art of War: Battling the Big Dogs, Part III

In my last two entries we have explored some of the teachings of "The Art of War," by former Chinese General Sun Tzu and it’s relevance to today’s business world, even though this text is over 2,000 years old.

Today we will look at three more of Sun Tzu’s principles of war in order to help the "Small Business Davids," (SMB) compete with the large "Regional and National Goliaths" (RNB).

Vision And Leadership

"The general must be first in the toils and fatigues of the army. In the heat of summer he does not spread his parasol, nor in the cold of winter don thick clothing…. he waits until the army’s wells have been dug and only then drinks; until the army’s food is cooked before he eats; until the army’s fortifications have been completed, to shelter himself."
…Sun Tzu

The role of leadership in business, as well as in war, cannot be overrated. Throughout history battles have turned on the examples set by generals and sergeants alike. And while words alone can inspire, they lack the power of a committed leader whose selflessness sets the tone for an army, or a company.

SMB Tip: "Do as I say, not as I do" is not a valid option for the successful small to mid-sized business. Pay attention to the example you set. As a leader, you are the "Attitude" of the company. And just remember: the attitude of the leader, will always be the attitude of the followers.

Staffing And Delegation

"A sovereign of high character and intelligence must be able to know the right man, should place the responsibility on him, and expect results." …Sun Tzu

What can be more important than finding and hiring the best people, and then giving them the opportunity to realize their full potential? From Peter Drucker’s first texts to Jim Collins’ Good to Great, management gurus have constantly expounded on the premise that great organizations exist because of outstanding people and terrific systems. The small business has an advantage in this regard if it understands how to use it. By their nature, smaller companies are inherently more appealing to first-rate people-they offer more challenges, more opportunities, more camaraderie, more freedom. To make these advantages real, the SMB must delegate willingly, encourage intellectual growth constantly, liberally reward emotionally and financially, and allow employees to find and be themselves.

SMB Tip: Don’t hesitate-hire good talent whenever you find it. Outstanding abilities are always a good investment! Too many SMB’s worry that hiring good people will only lead to them leaving for bigger and better things. So what! What’s the solution? Only hire mediocre to incompetent people? What’s so bad about becoming known as a launching pad for the best and the brightest? It’ll give you a leg up on recruiting the best and most innovative young people.

Allies

"If an enemy has alliances, the problem is grave and the enemy’s position strong. If he has no alliances, the problem is minor and the enemy’s position weak."…Sun Tzu

By inference, this quote explains the importance of allies to the SMB. As the difference in size and resources between the RNB and the SMB becomes greater, it is more important than ever for smaller businesses to find like-minded allies so that their pooled resources allow them to compete in such areas as marketing, purchasing, and specialty services.

SMB Tip: Better to pay half of a $15,000 marketing brochure extolling the virtues of both you and a fellow business owner than to own all of an inferior marketing piece for $7,500. Better yet, find 4 or 5 other SMB’s that don’t sell competing products or services, but sell to the same types of customers. Share information, marketing expertise and especially leads.