Focus On The Most Vulnerable

I posted a short article in which I suggested our nation should focus on developing and funding means to protect the most physically vulnerable from the coronavirus.  In response to this posting, a good friend commented “…I find your post and the comments frightening.” He opined that we must flatten the curve to avoid medical catastrophe and the only way to do so is to have widespread isolation even at the short-term expense of jobs.

Implementing wide spread isolation is a Hobson’s choice: harming the most economically disadvantaged in order to save those most vulnerable to the ravages of COVID-19.  My concern is with my friend’s observation that “this (wide spread isolation) is the only way.” Perhaps, and perhaps not. I cannot recall anyone putting forward a different approach to solving this problem.  And, in the rush to pass relief legislation, I have not heard concern about the financial fallout that will result if the virus is not contained within the next few months.

According to a March 16 CDC website posting, since February 12, 4,226 COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States; 31% of cases, 45% of hospitalizations, 53% of ICU admissions, and 80% of deaths occurred among adults aged ≥65 years with the highest percentage of severe outcomes among persons aged ≥85 years.  These numbers lead me to believe that this is the group we should focus our resources on protecting.

There must be an alternative to condemning our society’s most economically disadvantaged to a financial disaster, while at the same time protecting those most physically vulnerable to the ravages of this terrible disease.  Finding an alternative solution is behind my suggestion that we focus on developing and funding ways to keep safe the demographic group most susceptible to the harmful effects of COVID-19. 

While I believe we should emphasize the age group most at risk, I am not suggesting we should neglect efforts to contain the spread of the disease.  On the contrary, we should continue to ban large gatherings, require reduced restaurant and event seating, continue to urge hand washing and sanitizing surfaces, and take other precautionary measures.  In addition, we need to purposefully build the spirit of community and self-sacrifice that existed during other times of crisis.  

If we focus our efforts on protecting the most vulnerable, we can possibly avoid the medical crisis we all fear.  At the same time, If we put people back to work, we avoid plunging our country into a fiscal crisis—the effects of which could be as severe as those of the virus.

Our CoronaVirus Fight Is Upside Down

I read an article relating how during World War II, a group of engineers was empaneled to examine bombers returning from combat missions.  They observed which areas of the airplanes had sustained the most damage and decided those sections of the plane should be hardened. They were ready to proceed with their recommendation when a member of the group pointed out their thinking was upside down.  He drew attention to the fact the planes they examined, although heavily damaged, were the ones that made it home. He made it clear that the areas of the planes needing reinforcement were those where they observed little damage. 

We are upside down—economically harming the strongest within our society, instead of focusing on safeguarding those most in need.   

We know those people under 55 years of age, and who make up most of the workforce, are less likely to succumb to the disease.  Yet we are condemning them to a lengthy economic struggle by shutting down their places of employment. To ease their predicament, congress and the president are developing legislation to send each family a couple of thousand dollars.  But, what if the number of people contracting the virus doesn’t decrease? Do we continue the closures into mid-summer? If so, how will we continue to fund relief payments? 

Instead of shutting down more businesses, we need to open those that have closed.  At the same time, we should work to develop and fund efforts to keep safe our fellow citizens who are powerless to overcome this deadly virus. By doing so, we will concentrate on those most in need, while lessening the long-term damage to our nation’s economy.

Conflicting Communication Styles Can Hinder Sales Success

You identified and subsequently met with a potential customer but the meeting did not result in a sale.  Perhaps, the failure was due to a conflict between how the client prefers to be communicated with and how you communicate.
When it comes to making a good first impression, most salespeople practice the basics: dress neatly, show up on time, and be prepared.  However, differing communication styles can hinder developing a business relationship.
Communication/behavioral styles can vary wildly and become a basis for conflict when it comes to salespeople and their prospects.  Imagine a salesperson who likes to work quickly, even if not thoroughly. Now imagine a detail-oriented ‘perfectionist’ buyer who wants to ensure every detail is just so before completing a task. Chances are these two will find it difficult to work together.
The key to avoiding conflict with people having different behavioral styles is to identify the different styles and then be very aware of the other person’s communication preferences.  Just as speaking a common language is necessary for understanding, communicating in a way that people are comfortable with makes life easier and will likely help to gain an advantage when working with them.
For example, when presenting to a prospect who is a “people person,” a salesperson should be personal, friendly, slow down, joke around and allow the other person time to talk.
However, when presenting to a prospect who is concerned about security, the same salesperson needs to adopt a different communication style—build trust, slow the process down, provide a logical presentation, listen carefully and try not to close too fast.
The first step in understanding another person’s preferred style of communication is to understand your natural behavioral style.  For example, if your natural behavior is compliant, you may have a tendency during a sales presentation to overuse data. Being aware of this propensity, you know when dealing with a naturally dominant person to deemphasize data.
One online dictionary defines self-awareness as “Knowledge and awareness of your own personality or character.” Self-awareness is all about being conscious of your own feelings, motivations, and desires without being absorbed with them.  When you are self-aware, you know your strengths and weaknesses, and how to manage them in the workplace.

Once you are aware of your behavioral style, you can begin to look for clues leading to an understanding of other’s styles. As an example, a person who is extroverted, people oriented and talks with his hands, more than likely possesses a natural influencer behavior. When dealing with this person you want to be friendly, allow them to talk and follow up often.
Becoming more self-aware isn’t as easy as flipping a switch.

Using an assessment to understand your natural behavior is an extremely effective way to become more self-aware.  When recruiting sales talent, our firm utilizes TriMetrix DNA Sales.  This assessment reveals a salesperson’s strengths and weaknesses within each of the six phases of the sales process. Additionally, the results of the assessment lend to creating self awareness within three other key areas: Behaviors, Motivators, and Competencies.  

To identify unrecognized weaknesses, which may limit your success, I encourage you to complete this objective sales behavioral assessment.  The resulting report will heighten your self-awareness by helping you to understand your tendencies, behaviors, motivators and competencies.

To order the assessment Click Here.

To view a sample of the report generated by the sales assessment Click Here.

Maximizing Sales Success—Qualifying Prospects

There are salespeople who are great at prospecting—identifying, cold calling and obtaining permission to quote potential customers—but their efforts do not generate sales.  The failure to obtain sales may result from not properly qualifying prospective clients.

Qualifying is where the questioning and detailed needs analysis phase of the face-to-face sale occurs.  In this phase the salesperson strives to discover what the prospect will buy, when they will buy, and under what conditions they will buy. It allows the prospect to identify and verbalize their level of interest, specific wants and detailed needs in the product or service the salesperson is offering.

Failure to properly qualify a prospect can result from a salesperson’s unrecognized negative tendencies, such as:

  • Demonstrating impatience through body language. 
  • A presentation which is not organized. 
  • Formulating a reply, rather than listening to the prospect’s needs. 
  • Dominating the sales presentation. 

Qualifying is only one of the 6 phases of the sales process.  Other phases include: Prospecting, First Impression, Demonstration, Influence and Closing. To maximize success, it is important for a salesperson to determine in which phases weaknesses exist, and then identify the tendencies lending to the weaknesses—a task easily said but harder done. 

Self-awareness is important in every aspect of life, including sales.  Being self-aware means that you have a sound understanding of who you are as a person, and how you relate to the world in which you live. When you are self-aware, you know your strengths and weaknesses, and how to manage them in the workplace.  A self-aware salesperson understands and works to overcome the tendencies which lend to attaining less than maximum success.

Becoming more self-aware isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. 

Using an assessment to gauge a person’s behavior is an extremely effective way to become more self-aware.  When recruiting sales talent, our firm utilizes TriMetrix DNA Sales. This assessment reveals a salesperson’s strengths and weaknesses within each of the six phases of the sales process. Additionally, the results of the assessment lend to creating self awareness within three other key areas: Behaviors, Motivators, and Competencies.  

To identify unrecognized weaknesses, which may limit your success, I encourage you to complete this objective sales behavioral assessment.  The resulting report will heighten your self-awareness by helping you to understand your tendencies, behaviors, motivators and competencies.

We are offering this online assessment for a reduced cost of $99.  You may order the assessment by clicking here.  To view a sample of the report generated by the assessment click here.

It Takes Good Coaching For A Sales Team to Succeed

Over lunch with a sales manager, he told me of his frustration at being unable to maximize his sales team’s results. He related that he sends his salespeople to sales seminars, has built a library of self-help sales books and instituted a new CRM system, despite these efforts, his team’s results were still below expectation. I commented that sales seminars, self-help books and a CRM system are not to be neglected tools, but to succeed salespeople need to develop six basic skills that are intrinsic to success, and I asked how he identified in which phase of the sale process his team members are weak.

Sales managers often focus on tactical considerations—cold calling, niche sales, networking, referrals, social media, overcoming objections, etc. The preceding are important but focusing on such without dealing with the basics of sales, is similar to instructing a football player to block without teaching the basics necessary for doing so.

In football, a good offensive line coach spends time observing his players’ basic skills—if they’re in the correct stance; their footwork; how they use their hands; and how they move their hips. By taking the time to observe his players, a coach can identify which skills which need improvement.

To maximize success, a salesperson must possess the skills needed to excel in the six phases of the sales process: Prospecting, First Impression, Qualifying, Demonstration, Influence, and Closing.  Like a football coach observing his players, a sales manager needs to determine in which phases of the process his players need coaching. Only by doing so, can he or she help overcome weaknesses .

The problem lies in identifying which phases need strengthening and then addressing the tendencies lending to the weaknesses. The best way to do so is by utilizing an objective assessment designed to identify a salesperson’s strengths and weaknesses within the sales process. 

When jointly reviewing the assessment results, the sales manager helps a salesperson to be aware of weaknesses. In addition, a dialogue allowing for a positive response to coaching feedback is created. Coaching is further enhanced through personalized checklists which allow for fine tuning the conversation, making interactions with salespeople straight to the point and productive—thus minimize communication conflict and staying focused on what will most effectively improve sales performance. 

When recruiting salespeople, our firm uses an assessment which:

  • Highlights how a salesperson deals with preparation, presentation, handling objections, closing, and servicing
  • Scores a salesperson’s effectiveness within each of the 6 phases of the sales process
  • Outlines a salesperson’s performance tendencies within each
    specific phase of the sales process.
  • Provides selling tips, identifies time wasting tendencies, and lists areas for improvement

In addition, the report generated by the assessment helps to build people’s self awareness through identifying the forces that motivate them.   Salespeople will learn how to explain, clarify and amplify some of the driving forces in their life. This report will empower them to build on the unique strengths, which they bring to work and life.  They will learn how their passions from 12 Driving Forces® frame their perspectives and provide tie most accurate understanding of themselves as a unique person.

We believe you will find this to be an inexpensive and valuable tool for evaluating and coaching members of your sales team, as well as for recruiting sales talent.   We are offering this online assessment for a reduced cost of $99.  You may order the assessment by clicking here.  To view a sample of the report generated by the assessment click here.


Reasons I Love Living In The South

Atlanta MapNot getting “right to the point” is a reason I love living in the South.

Southerners will get to the point, but the journey is circuitous rather than straight.  For someone from the south, getting to the point is like driving to Atlanta—you get there faster via the interstate, but you miss all the interesting stops in between.

Not, as my northern friends claim, that southerners are slowed by the hot, humid weather—it’s that we want to know the person to whom we are speaking.   We seek details that lend to understanding, thus providing insight into someone’s thinking.  We look for the fascinating stops along the way: the sharing of tales, joys and hardships that humanize a person.

Why hurry, the “point” is going to be there.

Reasons I Love Living In The South

Magnolia BlossomMagnolia Blossoms are a reason I love living in the south.

I grew up in a North Central Florida home that was not air conditioned.  On summer days my mother would open the windows, turn on fans and, when in bloom, set a freshly cut magnolia blossom, placed in a shallow dish of water, on the dining room table.  The warm days would magnify the clean, vinegary aroma of the whiter than white blossom, freshening the warm, muggy air that flowed through our home.

Although our present home is air conditioned and the windows remain closed, we still enjoy the blossoms we harvest from our magnolia trees.  Their scent refreshes the cool circulated air, the clean white tint of the blossom contrasted with dark green leaves adds to our decor and as I view the blooms, I’m reminded of a different and distant Florida.

Do “People Things” First

img_10981.jpg“Business would be easy if you didn’t have to deal with customers and employees.” A tired but true saying my father often muttered after coping with an unhappy customer.

“People Things” are the issues that arise out of dealing with people. “People Things” include daily interactions, but they are critical when dealing with customer
complaints, employee discontent or a colleague’s request for assistance.

Money concerns generate the most critical “People Thing “ issues. When someone says, “It’s not the money,” assuredly it’s the money. Pocketbook issues, such as payment disputes and payroll concerns, are “People Things” that need to be resolved promptly and discretely.

Because dealing with people is the most complex aspect of business, “People Things,” should be at the top of a to-do list. Such concerns are ones that cannot be put off—procrastination only worsens them.  However, decisions should not be made “on the fly.“  “People Things” require undisturbed time to focus on, understand and resolve issues and concerns.

Make the rest of the day easier by  placing “People Things” as the first priority on your daily to-do list.

How Solomon Would Choose A Candidate

SolomonIn Proverbs 6 verses 6 through 19, King Solomon wrote:

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17    haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18     a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19    a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community

No matter your political persuasion or party affiliation, King Solomon provides a benchmark against which a candidate can be judged.

Haughty eyes – This is Solomon’s way of describing someone who is arrogant, condescending, and full of self-pride. A wise leader is a humble leader: one who empathizes with those he or she leads, and someone who seeks out and listens to diverse opinions. In Proverbs 11 verse 2, Solomon wrote, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

A lying tongue – My father used to caution, “A man who lies to you, will steal from you.” There is no such thing as a “little lie.” A liar cannot be trusted, and does not respect those he or she lies to. Solomon also wrote, “A lying tongue, hates those it hurts.” Proverbs, 26 verse 28

Hands that shed innocent blood – It is a leader’s responsibility to care for and protect the helpless and innocent—to ensure that the use of force is justified and judicious. “It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice.” Proverbs 18 verse 5

A heart that devises wicked schemes – It is detestable for a leader to concoct dishonest plots in order to be elected or enriched. A wise leader cares more for those he leads, than he cares for himself or herself. Solomon also wrote, “A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.” Proverbs 10 verse 23

Feet that are quick to rush into evil – An evil person is eager to get into all kinds of mischief—more concerned about his or her “wants” than the needs of those he or she leads. “The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them.” Proverbs 21 verse 10

A false witness who pours out lies – A candidate who spreads lies and rumors about his or her opponent cannot be trusted to govern fairly and wisely.   Solomon wrote, “A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.” Proverbs 19:28

A person who stirs up conflict in the community – A candidate who is willing to turn neighbor against neighbor, to divide rather than unify, is someone who is willing to forsake leadership for personal gain. Solomon got it right when he wrote, “who plots evil with deceit in his heart – he always stirs up conflict.” Proverbs 6:14

A leader who possesses attributes the antithesis of the preceding 7 things is: humble, honest, prudent, wise, discerning, fair and a unifier—Someone you may disagree with, but someone you can trust.

Every Customer Is Precious

Jobs Graph

Responding to my comment that our sheet metal shop was too busy to take walk-in business, my father invited me to join him for a cup of coffee.

Over coffee he related the difficulties involved in opening a business in the midst of the Great Depression—phones not ringing and no customers walking through the door. He recounted driving all over the county, looking for a job to quote and worrying about making payroll.

He expounded on the loyalty of walk-in customers. How a smile and a thank you for a two-dollar order, often resulted in thousands of dollars of business. He declared, “Every customer is precious—you never know where a relationship may lead.” Needless to say, we continued to accept walk-in customers.

During the housing boom, many building material retailers erected signs discouraging walk-in customers: “Contractors Only,” “No Cash Customers,” “Customers Must Have a Trade Account.” The advent of the “Great Recession” resulted in many of those signs being removed, but the message, “We don’t need your business.” had been delivered. Gone was the opportunity to develop new relationships, lost was the opportunity to grow with customers and lingering was the bitterness of rejection.

As with my father and the Great Depression, the lessons of the “Great Recession” are deeply ingrained within many building supply industry leaders. They have come to understand the relationships made during the good times, will be needed when the bad times come, and that today’s small customer, may be tomorrow’s prime account.