To be Smart in Sales and Life, Follow-up!

ask-md“Everything you’ve ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone.”

 Robert Allen author of The One Minute Millionaire

When you reflect on prior times when your most personal learning has occurred or when you’ve experienced the greatest success, what comes to mind? Was it discipline, grit, luck or a combination of all that got you there? How hard did you work to develop the product or establish the relationships? Was it a solo effort or a team project?

I would have to answer with a resounding. “YES!” to all of the above and with caution as I was not always aware of the process when fully immersed in it. Although I’m not a salesperson, per se, we are all in sales on some level, so when I read the following statistics, it gave me pause. How many times did I not reach a goal based on walking away too early, by assuming a prospective client would feel stalked rather than respected and understood? Ouch- probably more than I would like to remember, so in lieu of imagining the worst pushy person who won’t leave you alone, the following statistics may give you reason to rethink your own reluctance to reach out again, and again and perhaps, again.


• 48% of sales people never follow-up with a prospect
• 25% of sales people never make a second contact and stop
• 12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
ONLY 10% of sales people make more than three contacts
• 2% of sales are made on the first contact
• 3% of sales are made on the second contact
• 5% of sales are made on the third contact
• 10% of sales are made on the third contact
• 80% of sales are made on the FIFTH to TWELFTH contact


Stay Focused on the Right Thing

266Woman-Head-SpinningBeginning a project is exciting. Ideas are percolating and you are feeling creative and inspired. You may be working with a team or independently and plowing through data to support your next move. Hours don’t seem endless and you are producing reams of material and more thoughts on managing the flow. In short order, it may also become overwhelming and what once was the dream is feeling more and more like a nightmare. What do you do?

• Slow down
• Breathe
• Review

For many of us, and I speak from personal experience, we hunker down and keep going, which is not always the best solution. Others micro-manage, experience excessive anxiety and/or give up. We all have our defaults and these are the telling times to stop and recall past successes, how you can ask for help and even re-evaluate your direction. Is it still a workable idea? Once you invest time and money it’s not easy to walk away, so where do you start and how do you determine what the “right things” are to focus on?

When you are feeling physically and emotionally in alignment you are better able to see the big picture. According to the ridiculously successful entrepreneur, James Altucher, he focuses on improving four specific areas of his life; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. For example, he believes that our bodies are the average of the 5 things we eat. So, if you take in a lot of junk food, guess what? Your body is full of junk. The rule of 5 also applies based on the people you spend time with. Again, we are the average of those 5 people, so choose your friends and associates wisely! Maintain your mental sharpness by writing down ideas daily and tossing most of them. And lastly, be grateful. Gratitude engages the part of the brain that makes it too hard to be anxious or regretful. Remember too, that your thoughts are the average the 5 things you think about.

So, before you jump back in, take time to check-in with Altucher’s 4 tips for improved focus and take inventory. Has your self-care regimen given you the best platform for success or is that where you need to focus your energies for now?


The 10 Steps to Building a Strong Personal Foundation

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAO5AAAAJDg4YzI0NjJlLTNjNDItNDBjMy1iNjgyLWVhMTdmZmJlZmRiMQI consider Thomas Leonard to be one of my most influential coaching mentors. He was a major contributor to the development of personal coaching and founded many of the original training organizations. His body of work continues to support personal growth and below is an example of his emphasis on getting the basics in place. Build a solid foundation from the outset and consistently check-in on your progress. It’s a marvelous template for determining when things are out of alignment, addressing areas that need a tune-up and assessing YOUR needs.

1. Honor your boundaries
Boundaries protect you from people that your spirit cannot easily afford.

2. Raise your standards                                                                                                     The higher your standards, the fewer problems you will experience in life.

3. Clarify your requirements
Everyone in your life deserves to know what you expect/require of them.

4. Finish your unfinished business
The fewer unresolved items in your life, the more confident you will feel.

5. Get your personal needs met
Until your personal needs are met, it’s difficult to live powerfully and sustainably.

6. Orient around your values
When you orient your life and your goals around your values, fulfillment naturally occurs.

7. Build reserves in all areas
Having more than enough calms the mind and affords more experimentation in life.

8. Identify and reduce tolerations
What you put up with drains your energy and slows your development

9. Handle the money, completely
Until your money is handled, you are not at choice in life.

10. Define success for yourself
When you define success for yourself, life becomes very, very simple.


The Conga-Line of Fears

conga lineAt a wedding recently that was great fun, many of us were out on the dance floor when a conga-line formed. It’s an easy way to bring the table huggers into the celebration and it’s just natural to grab the person in front and beckon for others to join. The line grows and the music continues as the first person dances towards the last in an attempt to link-up. Between the rhythm of the music and the pace of the dancers, it’s rarely a neat image and yet the energy persists as an inclusive enticement for everyone to participate.

So, what does this decidedly happy activity have to do with fears? The most obvious connection is to the person who might be self-conscious about their dancing skills and is otherwise hesitant to join in. And, if fear is the enemy of self-confidence, what are the 5 most common fears and what do they have to do with a conga-line?

Fear of the unknown, failure, commitment, disapproval and/or success

Any of these can apply to a public “performance” and then observe how we ably piggy-back one fear onto another.

• What will happen if I don’t know the tune? I will look foolish and people will think less of me.
• I will look clumsy and my poor dancing skills will be revealed.
• If I look too good, someone might ask me to dance, and then what?

The human condition often gets us unnecessarily wrapped up in knots. Too often, we over-think, self judge harshly and miss out on opportunities. The next time you feel the fears multiplying, grabbing the next one in line and holding you back, think conga-line. A quick hip thrust or shoulder shrug will surely dislodge the offending thought, (or person), and send it swiftly to the rear.


Success Requires a Willingness to Act

happy-woman-fotolia_12331389_subscription_xxlSuccessful people don’t wait for success to fall in their laps, and they don’t wait for their lottery ticket to be chosen. They keep on doing the things that will get them closer and closer to their desired goals.

As David J. Schwartz puts it, “Life is too short to waste. Dreams are fulfilled only through action, not through endless planning to take action.”

“Success Requires a Willingness to Act” by Max Steingart

If you want to be successful, you can start at anytime.
But you must start.
Don’t make the mistake of not doing anything
because you can only do a little.
Do what you can do.
It will always be your attitude
at the beginning of any difficult task which,
more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.
To be aware of what you want and not go after it,
to spend years wondering if something could have materialized,
and never knowing if it could have been,
is a tragic waste of your life.
The worst thing you can do is not to try.
To reach a port, you must sail.
You must sail, not lie at anchor.
You must sail off in the direction of your dreams, not drift.
A journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step.

The STOP “To-Do” LIst

imagesCAUIW14SHow many lists are you actively working on today? Most of us have multiples from daily lists to long term/big-project versions. According to author, Barbara Alevras, our short term memory starts to empty out in 10-15 seconds, so unless it’s recorded somewhere, the thought is likely gone and may be replaced with generalized anxiety about missing something.

With various forms available to capture tasks, yours may be the old school, long hand version in addition to notes on your phone or the spread sheet you keep updating but not reducing. Some are handy and invaluable uses of technology to keep you on task, but the flip side is the constant reminder that you are NEVER getting it all done, merely making a dent in the onslaught of actions that realistically may or may not be important after all.

For clients who are feeling overwhelmed there are various strategies that may be useful.

• If your list is of the “forever” version, break it down into short and long term and limit the number to FIVE entries in each. This may be a challenge, but it does help to prioritize. Think of it as the single piece of luggage you are permitted to board with.

• If accomplishment is important to you, include even the most mundane activities under a broader header so that crossing off many tasks keeps your motivation high. For example, if GET HEALTHY is your long term goal, you might include, eating breakfast, shopping for groceries, gym time, etc. This can serve as a daily guide, and create new habits to support you.

• However, if you find yourself bogged down in busyness, eliminate this “expanded” list creation as it can be a slippery slope to a lot of action without moving forward. Test it out to see what works best for you.

• Reflect on your successes and SHRED your list at the end of the day…no carry-overs are permitted. Tomorrow is another day!


Change or Else

Why Is Everyone Trying To Change Everyone Else?

• Change is hard!
• Change is easy!
• Change is different for everyone!

When asked, most people will readily agree that they are comfortable with change. When I’ve pressed audiences further, they’re frequently more emphatic about their ability to embrace change, and seek it out regularly. A quick reality check reveals otherwise. For example, although more than 35% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% keep them. Is that damning statistic related to not properly preparing for change or is it about change in general?

Almost no one truly likes change, except perhaps the baby with a dirty diaper. Change is almost always stressful and challenging. Even good change can be difficult. So it’s no wonder that the two most common responses to change are denial and resistance. Some people pretend it doesn’t exist, and some people fight it, but most people try both approaches. The trouble is–both denial and resistance are fairly useless responses.

Some changes, despite our best intentions, fall by the wayside for numerous reasons. Deciding to drink more water daily for one week as a first step in a healthier lifestyle plan is a change that is doable for most people. You are adding vs. reducing or eliminating something from your routine. It is specific, measurable and not likely to have negative consequences. On the other hand, wanting to be healthier, while admiral in theory, is too vague, lacks a time frame and relies on significant changes in lifestyle that have not been identified.

Each of us is capable of making changes and the details can also be the deal breakers. Some of us embrace change from the outset and are excited and disciplined about setting goals and seeing results. Others are slower to start and may need more support.

• Review times when you have been most successful.
• What was your approach?
• Did you share your plan with others to gain extra support?


Lucky of Purposeful?

imagesCAADD1X9There are some days when it feels like everything is running smoothly and other times it may feel like the end of a long run can’t happen soon enough. It’s human nature to focus on what’s not working than to revel in the moments when you are in the flow and the Universe is cooperating fully.

Do you consider yourself to be a lucky person? Are you someone who takes full advantage of opportunities, focusing on them as they arise?

“Things worthwhile generally don’t just happen. Luck is a fact, but should not be a factor. Good luck is what is left over after intelligence and effort have combined at their best… Luck is the residue of design.” –  Branch Rickey

Buying a winning lottery ticket is sheer luck as the odds are certainly not in your favor nor did any scheme in particular give you better probabilities.  The more sales calls you make will increase your chances of closing a deal. The more swings at bat, shots at a goal or auditions you attend will increase the likelihood of your success. Too many people excuse their own limitations to by crediting other’s achievement to luck. Lucky people actually do things that allow them to take advantage of chances that they position themselves for. Not everything works out of course, but wishing, hoping and praying for success is not a formula for success. What’s you action plan, setting aside the rabbit’s foot or 4-leaf clover?

According to author Kevin Daum, there are 5 “secrets” of lucky people.
1. Play to your strengths: We waste too much time and energy doing things that we probably don’t do well.  Focus on what you do well and delegate the rest or find a partner to compensate for your weaknesses.

2. Prepare in advance: Unlucky people often get that way because they are reactive and unprepared. A business plan, for example is a template. The point in having one isn’t to follow it for the sake of staying on track. Rather, it is to establish a structure for smart decision making that allows you to adjust and succeed.

3. Start early: It’s not necessarily about rising early, but beginning projects well in advance. So many people want to put their energies into things that provide immediate gratification. The most fortunate people I know are the ones who planted the seeds early and are now in a better position to have choices and take advantage of the most promising ones.

4. Connect with as many people as possible: The key to success is access to opportunity. Access comes from influence. If you are influential, people will bring opportunities to you. The way to build a following is to provide value to many people. How are you providing the sort of value that will cause people to spread your thoughts and attribute credit to you?

5. Follow up: Opportunities come and go because people do not follow up in a timely manner, or ever in more cases than not. Following up is often more powerful and impressive than the act of initiating.


Stuck in First Gear

task4-300x225Watching is different than doing. Assuming you can execute from the perspective of observer is merely conjecture. Jumping out of an airplane without a parachute as you mimic the movements of a bird is foolhardy. What about driving a standard shift car because you’ve been a passenger in one, and by the way, it’s not a rental?

My boyfriend, later to become my husband, drove a Volkswagen bug everywhere. He and “Betsy” had a long relationship and I was relatively new to the scene. The car did have many miles on it and I had certainly been along for many rides, so I was somewhat familiar with its operation. However, I had only driven automatics until the day I had to borrow “Betsy” and needed to get some road time in quickly prior to going solo. He was more than patient as we bucked around a large parking lot and then onto a busy street, stalled out several times and continued for a few more blocks. He assured me I would get the hang of it and his confidence was contagious. He must have inspired me because I was not nervous as I set out the following morning in rush hour traffic enroute to an important job interview. Forgetting about fear or comfort zones, I was launched.

I would love to report that things went smoothly and that I never broke a sweat, but it would not be an accurate account at all. In fact, the car stalled more than once and I was indeed stuck in first gear too…more than once. Luckily there were no hills to manage and I quickly blocked out the various horns and yells from other drivers. In fact, I drove downtown and back without stripping the gears or damaging the car in any noticeable way.

For me, most important was the success of learning something quickly; prompted by necessity, as well as having the unquestionable support of my instructor in the process. Yes, he had been a passenger in my car many times and knew that I could be trusted to use good judgment. But it was also a leap of faith to allow me to practice on his beloved “Betsy”. He assumed I could do it and this gave me the additional confidence to get behind the wheel and go. What an accomplishment and what a terrific feeling afterward! Rather than being shaken by the early morning scenario, I was more self-assured at that job interview than I ever expected I would be. The energetic spill-over from managing my transportation successfully was palpable, empowering enough to decline the job offer and continue to look for a better fit.

• When have you done the thing you never thought you could do?
• Who supported your actions?
• What were the short and/or long term effects?
• How did you change as a result?

©2014 Maureen Weisner

10 Things You Could Do Better Today

Woman Writing on Pad of PaperI am a list maker. It helps me to synthesize my thoughts and organize my activities rather than to operate freeform, without a plan. It is too easy to be in action for the sake of feeling like there is accomplishment. Yes, at the end of the day it is better to have cleaned closets, gone to the gym and emerged from the darkness with the purchase of proper wattage light-bulbs. However, task driven busyness is not a substitute for long term measurable results, improved relationships and clarity. Thinking in broader terms may be useful in creating your own list. Below is a sample of a place to start and #10 is a reward in and of itself.

1. Increase your response time to requests.
2. Improve the brevity and simplicity of your electronic correspondence.
3. Connect with 5 new people and 7 existing colleagues or friends each day.
4. Inspect your business process cycle from start to finish for improvement.
5. Rethink your approach to helping others succeed.
6. Increase the number of times you connect others to build new relationships.
7. Resolve 3 pieces of unfinished business, no matter how painful.
8. Live closer to your goals and your main points of focus, and less by reaction.
9. Take time to thank the people who make your life possible.
10.  Rest and unplug!

Your list may be quite different and it must be one that makes sense for you. Who wouldn’t want to be better at understanding the value of designing a process, an internal plan that is uniquely yours? How effective will you be when the questions you ask, the calls you make and the level of engagement you choose are consistently in alignment with your list!

• What are your most fundamental guiding principles?
• Too big? Begin with 3 or even 1 and add as you choose
• Notice the shift in your focus – what’s different?
• Notice the response of others to you – what’s different?

© 2014 Maureen Weisner