Are You Looking for the BURN!?

I’m inspired to probe the question is “good”, good enough? Recently a business coach of mine recommended the book, “From Good To Great.” I read a short exerpt from it this morning. It’s a powerful book and I am definitely going to finish reading it. After all, you are what you read, and who you hang around with – perhaps a little of the book will rub off!? As I was contemplating the good to great concept, I was reminded of a recent conversation with a prospective client of ours. They are doing a lot of things well. In fact, after a few conversations with the CEO and CMO I was thinking that we may not be able to help them. They are going along a a decent pace and certainly not losing sales or market share. What to do? I have become a firm believer that if there isn’t a fit, it is most appropriate to call it that up front. If we cannot apply our added skills to their situation and solve a pressing problem, we should not manufacture a fit. What happens in doing so, is that we compromise and add to the already tainted reputation of marketing and advertising firms everywhere. So after contemplating this for a bit I applied the concept of going from good to great. While they are in fact moving along just “fine”, I detect in them a burningdesire to excel. To become greater than they are. If this IS the case. If they DO want to take their current success to the next level, we CAN help them! Not everyone needs a fix. If there isn’t a burning problem, there isn’t a need for a fix and now I will add, if there isn’t a burning desire to drive their business to the next level, there isn’t a fit. Don’t lets try to manufacture needs where none exist. Doing so denigrates us as problem solvers and ruins the reputations of those in the business of business building. So in dicussions with prospective clients I am looking for the burn. The burning desire to create greater success orthe burning need to fix a problem. Those are the clients with whom we can come alongside and work together applying our sets of skills (in my case, the skills of my masters level teams) to help them get to that next level. Here’s to the burn!

LOOKING FOR A SMOOTH RIDE?

I often lament the missing element in my children’s public education that had to do with what I consider critical life skills. They include things like: balancing checkbooks, understanding how the stock market and investing really work, skills at marriage and child-rearing (especially “teen-rearing”, which should have its own university dedicated to it). Another important life skill that has become important to me in my personal AND my business life is the concept and awareness of the “balance wheel”. If you consider the definition of balance, it denotes stability. In fact the definition in its noun form is, “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady”. In the verb form its definition is “keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not  fall”. I maintain that without “balance” in ones life, one will be unstable AND may in fact have a tendancy to “fall”. For me, it takes an unwavering daily dedication to monitoring and applying the principles. Although not a master (yet) the 8 areas that I have learned have the most impact on the creation of a stable – and therefore fulfilling – life include: spiritual, family, mental, physical, personal, social, work, and financial. Imagine a pie sectioned into 8 pieces. The idea is to spend time in each of these areas every day. If one of these areas is out of balance, has too much or too little emphasis, one will not likely have a smooth (or fulfilling) ride. So it’s a life skill that I want to impart to my children but one that I believe should be emphasized in business as well. Because at the end of the day, yes we want to be successful at business, but we are all just people, working with other people, all of us looking to have a smooth ride.

The DISC’s of Business

I think all these business tips being shared on LinkedIn are great – 10 tips for a great landing page, 5 easy steps toward financial freedom, etc. however, I think it is equally important to pay close attention to some business “nuances” that I have become reacquainted with recently. As business people we often take for granted the very important aspects of effective communication, and that is understanding clearly the personality “style” of the person with whom you are communicating. I recently encountered this issue and like the wack on the head shown in the V8 commercial, after a not so favorable outcome with our business dealings, realized I misread my client’s personality style. My bad. And I paid the price. So, as a refresher, there are four basic personality styles. And there are a plethlora of acronyms for them but I’ll stick with the one that I am most familiar with…DISC. Does it sound familiar? The “D” and “I” personalities are both extroverted, the “C” and the “S” are more reserved. D stands for “direct”. These people are very blunt, direct, competitive, risk-takers, and they are strong willed. You do NOT want to interrupt them, or feed them a lot of “fluff”, nor do you, in the name of all things holy, want to give them too many details! The “I” personality stands for “influencer”. As this implies, these people are persuasive, chatty, sociable, spontaneous and impulsive. You do not want to give them too much detail, rather give them the big picture and do your best to smile a lot. “C” is the “compliant” personality. They are logical, systematic, quiet, precise, analytical, and they do not express emotions. They are careful, formal and disciplined. You do not want to hold back information from them, nor do you want to pressure them. They need time to process. And finally, the “S” personality. “S” stands for “steady”. They are calm, laid back, caring, amiable, modest, trustworthy,  patient, great listeners and indecisive. Do not break promises with them and don’t pressure them for immediate action. They too need time to make decisions. In the business situation mentioned above, with the “not so good” outcome, I gave my client a detailed schematic of our project plan with lots of images and details so they had the exact picture of what we were proposing. I also included 3 options and spelled out carefully how each was different from the next leaving her to assess the many aspects of the opportunity. I had communicated with her as if she was a C. Alas she was really a D. My detailed explanations and multiple options just complicated what to her should have been a simple solution. Looking back, had I paid more attention to her personality style and delivered my communication back to her in the way that her particular style prefers, the outcome would have likely been much better. What ended up happening is that she felt that I wasn’t listening. So, my purpose in writing this is to share some of my current business life learnings and share them so they may in some way benefit you and yours!

Should I need to be liked?

The longer I live, the longer I work, the more I learn. Like many women (especially women) I thought the key to success was to be well liked. This translated into making myself the life of the party (being “on” all the time is exhausting), always presenting myself as the confident woman full of knowledge about things I detested just so I could banter with the business guys (football, for instance), spending endless long late night hour after hour entertaining prospective clients (often while my colleagues fell asleep) who never ended up becoming clients. What I have learned over time, is that this behavior was completely futile. I should have read and digested and lived the learnings from smart, successful people like Margaret Thatcher and so many others. In it’s simplest form, what I’ve really learned is that is it better to be respected, than liked. Recently, I have put into practive a real confidence builder and that is an attitude that we are not a fit for every prospective client. We are only a fit if it makes sense to both the client AND us. That means they must have a need that we can fill AND must have the budget that they are willing to commit to spending on the solution we can provide. Without this, it isn’t a win AND it has absolutely nothing to do with being liked. It has to do with providing a solution. I don’t mean to say that I can now show up and act like a jerk. I have to conduct myself in a manner that will gain respect. Sometimes this means that my response to a possible project or opportunity may be, “I’m sorry Mr./ Ms prospect but I am afraid that what you are looking for is not a fit for my agency at this time, let me point you in another direction, if I may”. That type of statement wouldn’t likely come out of the mouth of a woman who needed to be liked. As the quote above suggests, if I needed to be liked I may be willing to compromise on my deliverables perhaps my prices, maybe even the quality really needed for the project. At the end of the day, the result wouldn’t be good for either the client or me. So, current learning – It’s better to plant your feet firmly on the ground and call it like it is without compromise. My new mantra is it’s better to be respected than to be liked.

What’s your 30 second speech

I recently started taking a sales training course. The reasons are pretty simple. First, in years past, individuals would answer the phone and they would invite you in to “show your stuff”. They would even return emails. This is definitely not the  case now. Secondly, everyone has to sell, even when you get referrals, once you make contact with someone who is considering doing business with you, you will eventually be in the situation of selling. So, several months into my training I’ve honed (and admittedly continue to refine) my “30 second speech” which in essence is a very fast, very focused explanation of what I do that alleviates customers pain.

After having been exposed to this discipline I’ve come to notice how very few people do this. I find myself repeatedly in the situation where I ask someone “what do you do” only to hear a long rambling dissertation of lots of things they do but that leaves me standing there in blind confusion. I try to understand and pull it all together in my mind but really, I don’t think I want to spend that kind of mental energy honing their 30 second speech. Since this is a glaring “thing” and something I experience quite often, I think it is a tip worth sharing. Everyone I believe can benefit from honing their 30 second speech. Here is the formula…(Fill in your blanks) I am ________ with ________, a provider of _________. I work with customers who are (pick pains that work for you) concerned with ______, frustrated by ______, worried about ________, unhappy with ______. I/we alleviate this by _________. Boom. Done.

I have found this enormously helpful. It has not only helped me fine-tune the true isssues that my unique business model solves, it keeps me from feeling like I am confusing and possibly boring the person who asked me, “What do you do?”. Sometimes they are just being polite. Alwaysthey are not looking for a long winded dissertation about the ins and outs of my business.

I also must give credit to Sandler training for this training tip. It is one of many many nuggets I have learned so far and I am happy to share it because I may be the one being polite with you at an upcoming cocktail party asking, “What do you do?”.

So, what’s your 30 second speech?