Own What You Err

Yesterday a prospect handed my head to me on a platter at the start of my day.  I did not see it coming and it sucked the life of me on the spot.

I called for a simple follow up to a sales call made last week when I brought in a marketing partner that led the content of our meeting.

Yesterday I called merely to request a few details from the prospect, only to be told that we had knocked ourselves out of the running because the partner I brought in on the sales meeting had offended them.  They found his tone to be condescending and insulting.

When the prospect told me his grievance wasn’t directed at me, I asked if I could still go forward in their consideration if I could remove the offending party from their account.  He said, “You had one shot and you blew it.”  Furthermore, “We are seeking your offering, but your company will not be considered.”

While the prospect didn’t let on to their true feelings during the presentation, shame on me for not reading the room better.  A big opportunity slipped right through my hands and that hurt.  I had a busy agenda of other selling to do that day, so there was  no time to wallow in sorrow.

I considered rushing over with a giant cookie in apology but realized they were too offended to go for something that lighthearted.   Instead I sat down and wrote out 2 thank you notes to those in the meeting, for sharing their time and their feedback with us, and then hand delivered them before the day was out.

Sometimes, despite the best intentions, things go very wrong.  Add human chemistry to the mix and egos get bruised, feelings get hurt.

Though I hadn’t done wrong myself, I still had to own it because I’d scheduled the meeting.  This was certainly not the lasting impression I’d ever want to leave with a potential customer.  Though we lost this opportunity, my reputation is all I have, and maybe there will be another chance down the road or if this prospect re-surfaces at another company.

Always own it.  Be generous with apologies.  They rarely fail.

Kick Some Butt Today – Virtual Counts

I kicked butt against the avatars today.  No, I don’t play video games.  I’m talking about the virtual riders I passed on the bike at the gym.  Ok, so they might only be fake, but, as they say, I lapped the folks on the couch.

Here’s what I love about working out, how it helps me professionally and why you should do it as often as possible.

You’re in control.  In sales, you are rarely in control.  The customer decides when or whether to buy.  Your boss decides your goals.  The market sets the price.  The company determines the offering.  And so on.  When you work out, that’s at least one part of your day that is totally in your control.

You can set goals and change them as often as you wish.  I’m not a hard body and never was.  But, because of a consistent workout schedule, I can do things I wasn’t able to do last month, last year or before.  That feels great and mentally I take this with me everywhere I go.  Being in a positive mindset is crucial to sales success.

You see progress.  Due to a hip injury, I can no longer run or do any high impact work at all.  It does bum me out, however, there’s plenty of other options and this limitation has caused me to seek variety that I otherwise would  not have sought.  Sometimes progress at work is very slow in coming, but I can see daily changes at the gym.

Re-frame your reality.  Instead of thinking, “I don’t want to go to the gym today” or “I have to go to the gym today”, I’ve decided that going to the gym is a gift I give to myself.  It really is a privilege.   That next time you catch yourself in this mindset, think of someone who either by time, or physical or financial limitation, doesn’t get this privilege.

Make yourself sweat everyday, either by physical exertion or mental.  It keeps you fresh, keeps you interesting and propels you in positive directions.

Lavish Love

What’s the single most easy thing to give that returns the highest ROI?

Love, praise, kudos, strokes. Whatever you call them. Give them and give them generously.

This is so easy, costs nothing and rewards you greatly.

Today I closed a sale.  It was not a large one monetarily.  But it was a big moral victory because it’s a solution we just launched this month and I was the first on my team to close it.

My marketing partner quickly shot a kudo email to my management team.  It was brief, took her 2 minutes or less and made me now want to leap tall buildings in a single bound for her.

Give appreciation amply and often.  And be specific with it.  Don’t just tell someone, “great job”.  Tell them specifically what was great about what they did.  Do this with your colleagues, your support, your spouse, your kids…spread it all over the place.  And tell the people that they need to shine for.

Do it in writing.  Write a LI rec.  Send a note.  Tie a ribbon around a candy bar and deliver when it’s least expected.

Just do it.  There’s nothing like generating your own momentum.

How Sticky is Your Brand-7 Tactics

Today I grabbed lunch from Jimmy John’s.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was in and out of the place with my order within a minute.  In fact, it takes them longer to run my credit card than to prepare my sandwich.  Freaky Fast service.  Delivered as promised.

That’s a sticky brand.  It makes me want to return.

No one wants bad surprises.  Tell people what you plan to give them and simply do it.

What is your brand?  What are you most known for?

Are you Fast?  Honest?  Knowledgeable?  Guy next store?  Class Clown?  Big Softie?  Analytical?  Efficient?  Effective?  Credible?

It’s very important to know what makes you most valuable–whether you are selling a product (at work), yourself (into a job), or even in a social situation (negotiations with kids/spouse).

But value doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  The world changes around us and when market conditions change, it’s important to know that your brand maintains value.

I’ve spent my career in a tight deadline business.  I’m good at lots of things.  Being fast is one of them and it is critical to my success.  When I have a bad day, a fantasy I used to nurture was that I’d quit my career and become a typist for closed captioning.  Talk about fast – how do they do that anyway?

But as we move from a left brain to a right brain marketplace, how secure is it to pursue a job that will be automated soon, if not already?  Siri, anyone?

I’m most known for being real.  That’s my brand.  I know this because people reflect this back to me all the time.  I didn’t determine it.  I just listened to the feedback.  How do I make that sticky?  Here are some things that work for me:

Use real language – ditch jargon.  It alienates.

Keep promises – always err on under promise/over deliver.  It warms.

Admit fault – be human, always.  It bonds.

Blog – it’s just a verbose signature.  It illumines.

Tell stories – people never tire of this.  It connects.

Help when you can – it usually only takes a small effort.  It rewards giver & recipient.

Say no when you can’t – hurtful truth trumps attractive lies.  It binds.

Tell Me What I Want To Hear

Does anyone know how to do anything perfectly?
Does the typical seller offer a guarantee of success with every sale?
Is it necessary?

Remember to construct your pitch always with what the listener wants to hear.  Whether you are selling yourself, like into a job, or selling a service – which we all know is selling yourself primarily anyway.

I hope my friend won’t mind me sharing today’s example.  She’s been looking for a job for 3+ years.  Something’s got to change.  I noticed in her LI profile that she mentions she has SEO experience.  SEO.  Isn’t that the key to the candy store?

This mention of her SEO experience is buried deep within her profile, a place it could be easily missed.  It’s not in her Headline nor in her Skills.  Why, I ask.  Well, I’m not an expert, she replied.

SEO is still new.  The talent pool doesn’t meet the demand.  Jobs are ripe for the picking.  It’s about crafting the right perception.

First, if you have a highly sought after skill, blast it in your LI profile.  Multiple keywords means maximized hits.

Second, maximize your use of Social Media.  That’s why it’s there.  If you don’t try your best to be found on LI, why even be there?

Third, tell what you can do, not what you can’t.   I spent the first year of my current job in near haze.  So much was new.  But once secured, my employer was vested in my success so I could seek help, both within and beyond the organization.

These are basics to me, but sometimes we all need a reminder.

Marketing Extends to the Point Of Sale

On a recent visit to the Hanes Outlet store, I was assisted by a 20 something male.  Hmmm, it’s a store that sells non-sexy lingerie and sleepwear to women, many of whom aren’t 20 something.  I’d call it comfort-wear moreso than lingerie.

Spanx knock-offs, non-skimpy bras, non-skimpy panties, lounge wear – you get the picture.

I ended up making a much larger purchase than I intended because I discovered spa wear in tall sizes; that ‘s like winning at the slots for me.  Translation: I am their key target customer.  Their absolute sweet spot.

I’d only gone there to replace some underwear.  When I couldn’t find the exact item I sought, much to my chagrin, over pops “Dude”, my new 20 y.o. buddy, with an assist.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, he proceeded to debate me on what the appropriate size underwear was for me.  Ok, I’ve been wearing the product since he was in middle school.

He insisted that the size I chose was too large for me.  Hella Awk.  Honestly, I could not tab out fast enough.

At the expense of over sharing, I’ll just say this.  Target Marketing should extend from conception through to the Point of Sale.  I am not anxious to go back for a repeat experience, even though I love the product.

Control the Communication – 2 Stories

Sixteen years ago, I purchased a car via email.  That doesn’t sound at all radical today, but it was back then.  It just about knocked the salesman on his ear, but he sold me a car in the course of just a few hours without ever meeting me, so it worked well for us both.

At the time, I had two children under the age of 2.  I was a force to be reckoned with.  So when I called one of two BMW dealerships in town to describe the car I was seeking, I knew if one couldn’t meet my terms, the other would.  Easy peasy.

Intending to make a purchase over the phone in one call, I was perturbed when the salesman proceeded to invite my husband and myself into the dealership to meet with his manager, blahbitty, blah.  I simply held the receiver outward toward the shrieking sounds of a toddler and a newborn to give this guy a tiny taste of my joyous day.

I quickly realized he needed tangible proof to show his boss that I was a real prospect with intent to purchase and I then emailed him my offer.  I may have followed up with a signature via fax also.  Two hours later, he drove the car to my house with papers to sign.  Done.

I’ll back up 2 steps here to tell you that I’ve been trained by the very best in the media business.  If I wasn’t being brow beaten by my managers, who considered themselves the marines of the industry, I was selling to the crustiest, seasoned media buyers in the ad agency community.  And let me tell you I relished the chance to play the role of the customer in negotiations.  I’d learned a couple of tricks.

A month later, my husband needed a new car.  With newly polished confidence on the purchase of my car, we hired a babysitter for an hour and a half and briskly strolled into the Ford dealer for an Explorer.  We were approached by an obvious rookie-young seller.  He had green oozing from his ears.  I started to lick my chops.

Once Jeff zeroed in on the car he wanted, we sat down with Mr. “Green” and I told him straightaway what we were willing to pay and that we’d be headed out the door in 1o minutes either with or without his car.  He thought I was kidding.  After he made a quick sweaty visit with his boss, he came back and wrote a number on a piece of paper and slid it toward me.  I scratched through his number, wrote down my number and then signed it and told him we had 8 minutes left for him.  My husband was even cowering and he was on the same side of the desk as me!

Through nervous laughter, he asked where I got my number and when I told him scientific wild ass guess, he really did think I was nuts. I reminded him “now 6 minutes”, with a smile of course, and we did walk out with the car that day.

Anyone that knows me knows that telling me “no” is akin to inviting me into your garden for a cup of tea.

Takeaway – Know what you want, know what you are willing to pay, ask for it politely and be willing to walk away.