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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ambassadors From The Parking Lot

I stopped in to see a customer. He asked, “How’s the weather out there?”

Heck, he’s on the tenth floor, big office, picture windows to the National Mall. “How’s the weather out there?”

That got me thinking. Most people work in an office, a cube, on a machine. They see the same people day after day. Steve Carrell should make a television show about it.

I walk in, from who knows where, and people want to know what I have seen, what I know. As Daniel Boone said, “I have seen the elephant!

It would surely be a missed opportunity to not develop what I have seen and make it entertaining. That’s the part of my conversation they want first.

“It’s great weather for ducks!”

What are you bringing to the party?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Front End Selling

I met with a senior Project Manager from a European engineering firm. She saw my sales model and said, “I only have experience with the presentations and post-sale activities, the right side of your Sales Model.” She is managing large projects, and comes aboard after they have been won.

Now she doesn’t have enough work and is coming to grips with the source of her problem.

The right side of the model is creating interest. That usually includes making the prospect knowledgeable about their options, the benefits of your approach, and making them familiar with cost. Controlling the customer’s concept gives you the best chance of successful completion.

The left side is defining the sale and post sale activities. Superficial observers see the revenue coming from these later stages, but without sufficient initiation, there is nothing to shape, manage, and bill.

There is also an inevitability to the back end of the sale, where if you don’t screw it up, you will probably complete the work. After all, the customer has already put their reputation on the line, choosing you.

In federal sales, I see an imbalance, most of the effort coming after a customer has identified what they want to buy. Then everybody is fighting to bid it.

That means someone else has already created the idea of the project, and how it should be done, and the followers are left with trying to create value by dropping price, or winning with a solution the customer doesn’t know they want.

My biggest and most profitable jobs have occurred after I had seeded the initial concept, and created a loyal customer following before the world knew what we were doing.

How much of the total sales work and how much of the value would you say comes from the front end of the Sales Model?

How many of your team understand that and can make a contribution?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Three for Two

A friend is looking for a new job. Along the way, he created a great sales technique. 

He has two offers developing, and is trying to sort out which one he should take. So he described the good points and bad points of each position to one of his mentors. 

His mentor thought about it and then suggested a third possibility. He hadn’t done that when he saw the new resume the week before. 

I suggested he try it again. He repeated the experiment nine more times. Six out of ten resulted in new, immediate possibilities, from a variety of close to loose acquaintances. 

I think he has come up with a way to make people comfortable that they know him and what they want. They get to imagine shaping his career, and that familiarity is breeding new opportunities. 

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to selling is getting the buyer to imagine succeeding with your offering. 

How do you get that done? 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Extended Memory

In order to get more done, I am constantly trying to simplify my work. I hate tasks that contribute little value. I started with a briefcase, went to a portfolio, then a notebook, and I now carry my office in my pocket.

Work is making and keeping promises. So when I am with someone I want a record of my work.

One of my best solutions is a stack of 3" x 5" index cards. In a conversation I can pull one out and make notes without interrupting anyone's thinking. I make a note about something they said or something else I just remembered.

When I complete a task I get a real satisfaction from drawing a line through it, even though I know I am about to throw away the card. Cards help me sleep better too since I know I wrote down each task as they were mentioned so I don't have to worry about it at the end of the day.

How do you extend your memory?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The New Management Is Leadership

Have you ever known a manager who agrees to a one-year plan on January 15th...and by March 1st knows that there is no way the goals can be made?

Perhaps that manager is the person your spouse married?

Yet picking a goal and achieving the goal are two different tasks. Both are necessary, but they have little in common with each other. Today we are examining how to improve our chances of achieving the goal, no matter how hard it looks.

Time Management
How many hours do you work in a typical week?

How many decisions are you asked to make in a typical day?

Are you really smart enough to make decisions for others?

How many prime thinking hours do you have in a typical day?

If you spend all your time telling people how to do simple things, your successor will have to do the hard things.

Yet, your subordinates may want you to do their thinking for them. If you haven't defined the parameters for successful decisions, they will want you tell them what actions to take. Your focus and their focus becomes concentrating on activities instead of concentrating on results.

I say that you can teach your subordinates to make their own decisions on the basis of some broad guidelines. Developing the guidelines is the true work of top management.

Which reminds me, it is easier to tell someone how to do a job you have previously mastered, than to develop your current job.

Dale Carnegie tells us that if we can't get a week's worth of work done in 40 hours, we won't get it done. I have seen this enough to believe it is true. I have also observed that a senior manager who has to manage more than thirty hours a week does not have the time to make his or her organization successful. We need to build time for thinking and time for dealing with unforeseen circumstances.

If you have trouble with the thought of managing less than thirty hours a week, let me ask this question. How do you measure the contribution of people in your organization?

If you are measuring time in the office, or the color of a tie, or where cars are parked, you are missing the opportunity to build a high performance organization.

If your subordinates can trap you into telling them how to do their jobs, they can be pretty sure you won't have the time to change the focus of what they are doing or make them accountable for their results. You see, every time you change your orders to them, all previous orders and expectations are set aside. The game is not to succeed, but to get the orders changed before being evaluated.

Let's change that.

Pattern Recognition
Edwards Deming, the management scientist General MacArthur took to Japan at the end of World War II, said that if you spend time examining failure, you will learn a lot about failure, not necessarily anything about success.

Opportunities often occur when we recognize patterns that have previously generated successful results. Yet unless our internal business communication is about what has been learned about success, other people in the organization fail to recognize opportunities.

The opposite is easy to prove. If we communicate what works in our businesses, other employees will recognize similar situations and take advantage of them.

Phrases to Practice
There are three speaking templates that high performance managers can use to get the most out of their people.

“Good Job!”
“Good Job!” is not a measured response evaluating performance. “Good Job!” is a preliminary response to some excited news. It is an automatic response to make the conversation proceed and replaces comments like “I should have told you our plans have changed,” or “I already know that.”

“Good Job, and you will have to do some more work on it” will create better, faster, more motivated work than leaving “Good Job” out.

Company Mission
If you plan to manage people by their results, they need some basic information about the company. When they can make their decisions confident that those decisions reflect the company mission, I have seen the number of decisions required by top management decrease by 80%, and increased efficiency to customers, lower receivables and diminished error rates.

The mission statement is a basic tool that describes where the company would be in six months to a year if everything went right. The vision should be bold enough to create interest, based on vision more than facts, and should closely reflect top management's aspirations.

The mission statement is spoken and written as if it were already achieved, and in a certain sense that is true. Once everyone speaks the mission statement as a part of the company, it gets measurably closer every day.

What is your mission statement?

The Story or Parable
The third key technique for managing to get results is the use of the parable. This is how you define the patterns for everyone to recognize.

The parable is always true, often the story about how you dealt with a previous client. When Peter Falk as Columbo tells a story about his wife, he makes a point without accusing any of the people in the room.

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie tells us that people always misinterpret parables, and that they always misinterpret them to what they consider desirable.

If diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell and making them look forward to the trip, I suspect that parables are a major part of diplomacy.

The PSR Format
The PSR Format is a template for a story that allows people to understand more than just facts. They get context and the details provide the "hooks" that allow them to apply the stories to similar situations.

Problem (2 sentences) Establishes magnitude/importance

Solution (2 sentences) The listener will translate your specific actions into general capabilities. This is why a parable works.

Result (1 sentence) Dessert or punchline

After each PSR, qualify the listener's interest by asking a question.

The whole process takes 45 to 90 seconds

Lyndon Johnson and Will Rogers were famous for their ability to use parables to make points without overtly threatening their listeners.

Negotiating Styles
All requests to obtain a result, from “pretty please?” to “MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY!!” are negotiating styles.

The trick is to develop a negotiating style that suits your purpose. Negotiating strategies are based on previous negotiations and current needs. If you are going to change your negotiating style, I suggest you give more than ample warning, or subordinates who have come to love watching you grovel may miss the whole negotiation.

Usually the biggest change is that we are going to focus on defining results, not activities. Hopefully at the start of this article we established the futility of trying to think for your employees.

Restrict yourself to defining what results you need by what time. You can also define some milestones that will have to be met, but don't pick delivery dates at this time. Also, consider a pre-delivery date to give you sufficient time to become familiar with the project before you turn it over to your customer.

The formality of writing your request on a single piece of paper may help you make a better presentation.

At this point you can take the project to the person who will be doing the work. Tell them why the project is important, and what (if any) related part you will be doing.

You will get back one of three responses.

If they reject your proposal, take the job to someone else. If you think you will be rejected on a crucial project, try to have someone reject a simpler project and be replaced first. Word gets around. If you are rejected, don't take revenge. You may have just eliminated a disaster before you got hurt.

If they offer to negotiate your proposal, find out what they are willing to do. Until you are satisfied that what they are proposing will be successful, keep defining the results you want ... let them propose the actions. When they accept your proposal, set interim milestones and dates where they will report back to you.

From the point where they accept, the project is out of your hands. You can then start defining the next one.

Your Role
As you get experience with this type of management style (putting the time in defining the project instead of later taking back authority to recover from inadequate planning) you will pre-define a higher percentage of the issues that need to be discussed before starting a project. This means that your subordinates will work for longer periods of time without your supervision ... that the amount of rework will be less ... and that everyone in your organization will develop a better ability to plan, execute and live with change.

When you suddenly find that the whole organization is working well without you, don't panic. This is the way the organization should work. Rather than getting back underfoot on someone else's project, you might draw up a list of the toughest problems facing your company and go tackle them one at a time.

I have also noticed that when this management style gets underway, your subordinates will come to you for advice instead of avoiding your criticizing. To maintain that type of rewarding relationship keep using “Good Job,” your Mission Statement and Parables.

Meeting Formats
Poor meeting technology causes more wasted time, bad interpersonal relationships and drama than soap operas. If you find that your meetings consistently generate more heat than light, consider using a more effective meeting program.

I recommend a 4-part meeting we originally designed for sales meetings. Over the last five years I have used the format for negotiating joint ventures, putting a research facility on a profitable basis, and increasing the efficiency of several boards of directors.

The first phase of the meeting is to have everyone introduce themselves and identify the goal they want from the meeting. This doesn't guarantee that their goals will be achieved. However, I find that people achieve more goals after they define them.

Go around the room letting everyone use this introduction template;




WHY ARE YOU EXCELLENT? (Mission Statement)


This may take a couple of meetings to get everyone to figure out what they see of themselves that is excellent, but the phrase provides excellent thinking for constructive negotiation.

“Goal for this meeting” decreases the number of observers and game players in the meeting. Sometime you can ask the people at one of your meetings what value they expect from the meeting. The answers are usually enough to close the meeting.
The second time around the table answers the twin questions, “What did you promise, and what did you produce since the last meeting?”

No one promised anything? That's a good indication of the value of the last meeting!

The purpose of Promised & Produced is to make everyone attending the previous meeting keep a record of their own commitments. This isn't a competition or an opportunity for judgment. Instead, it is an ongoing process where each person improves their ability to forecast results and execute on schedule. This ability improves over time if encouraged.

We don't want to hear excuses for what hasn't happened. Nor do we need editorial comment from third parties. If you choose to manage by pointing out failure, you fall back in the trap of monitoring activity instead of results. Let each individual learn to set and monitor their own work. You provide the forum for them to practice.

The third time around the table the question is, “What did you learn since the last meeting?”

This is the logical time for excuses, but excuses lose most of their attraction after the results are public. Excuses are made to keep the results from becoming public or to modify the criticism generated by the results.

Actually, few people learned anything since the last meeting. Learning is a conscious activity. But if you force people to make up something that they learned, and tell it as a story, they do start to learn what they did between meetings. This may be the only time when the attendees get time to think about the significance of their actions. This is a potent teaching tool, as everyone in the meeting has the opportunity to learn from each PSR story.

“What did you learn?” can take up 45 minutes of a one hour meeting. Also during this time, people can make requests for help (not to be answered, yet), and management can introduce new projects or information.

The fourth time around the table, the question is “What will you accomplish by the next meeting?” This is when the requests are answered by promises to take action. By putting a barrier between request and response, we are giving each respondent time to figure out what can be done and give an answer that can be accomplished.

The first response comes from the meeting leader who verifies the time and date of another meeting. Each attendee notes the meeting time and date in their personal calendar.

When the format for the meeting is established, the meeting leader can and should change so everyone gets a chance to run the meeting, which will improve communication skills and confidence for each member of the whole team.

I have run this same meeting at organizations every week for several years, and the only thing that changed was the quantity and accuracy of the promises as participants got better at planning and using their time.

This meeting format should be used for no more than an hour, saving the last 5 to 10 minutes for making promises. If the meeting is not completed in 60 minutes, it is more important to quit on time than to finish the meeting.

I have worked with 50 in a group, but that requires extraordinary discipline. I suggest 20 in a group as a maximum. Those twenty usually need noticeably less supervision during the following week. This means management spends less time managing, refereeing, or finding fault, and more time defining areas they can make contributions.

Managers who master time demands, pattern recognition, communication, negotiation style, and meeting formats often find they have time for the real opportunities of managing instead of responding to crises. The teams who work this way exceed annual goals, because everyone is making a more effective contribution.

Instead of concentrating on how far behind they are at the start of the year, this group finds a rhythm for doubling performance in a predictable period of time and executing beyond any reasonable goal.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sales Lab's Talk Your Business! April 28

Talk Your Business – How to make more and better sales right away!
You are invited to a free one hour presentation that creates better sales on the spot!

“The brilliance of Dick Davies' Talk Your Business is its simplicity. Easy to learn. Easy to teach. Anyone can do it. But most won't because they get faked out by how easy it is. How can something so easy be so profitable? Good question. Better question is how fast can you implement what Dick teaches? Those who do will make more and better sales. Quickly.”
Theo Androus, 17-year Sales Lab Beneficiary and Aficionado

“I think first attended Dick Davies’s Talk Your Business in 1993! And I’ve been “taking my business,” just the way he taught me ever since. Dick teaches a simple and straight forward approach on how to introduce yourself and how to tell an engaging story about your work. It is easy and you understand what to do immediately. Dick is a great coach, he makes it all very easy.”
Julie Perlmutter-founder of the Web Managers Roundtable

Talk Your Business is the best Ecomomic Stimulus package Washington has seen. It has inspired new business start ups, led companies to unprecedented growth and re-educates the unemployed.”
Bill Van Dyke, Paradigm Mortgage

“I've known the Big D for more than a decade. He describes himself as a loud and frequent speaker. He surpasses that modest description by being engaging, informative, and motivating. His talks are thought provoking and rich in actionable takeaways. Be there!”
Gabe Goldberg

The Talk Your Business is Wednesday, April 28, 7:30 to 8:30 am at
Intelligent Office
2331 Mill Road, Suite 100
Alexandria, VA 22314

Limited space! Reserve your place today at

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sales Lab Redux (Sales Lab 2.0)

Being part of the resurrected Sales Lab is a real experience and takes me back 15 years to my original contact with Dick Davies and Sales Lab, which at that time was Dick Davies. In thinking back on the primary benefits of my initial experience, I remembered standing for 30 second introductions and what benefit our services/products could provide. Simple, right? Well Surprise. It's amazing how many people who believe themselves to be smooth talkers can't do this without all sorts of hitches and stutters. BUT, once it is smooth, a confidence is developed of ones ability to think and speak on your feet. Because of my experience in being able to speak and get my point across in 30 seconds almost any speaking task is simple. It is really the confidence of knowing how to put a message together that is the key. I have used this idea in training multiple teams over the past 15 years and it has been a benefit to all the salespeople I know even those with great experience. So now I'm excited to be part of the new Sales Lab group and work again with Dick and Joe Shumard. Now we can use the Internet and all kinds of new tools. Here comes Sales Lab 2.0.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Defining Sales Prospecting

Let’s try a mind experiment.

In the last three weeks I have been asked about sales prospecting several times. Must be spring.

My definition is that sales prospecting is a technique to spend two to five minutes to discover if someone would like to buy your offering.

Do it wrong and of course they will say, “Go away, boy, you bother me.” So to be valuable, this is a behavior that gets more wins than losses. I have been doing it for years and generally get somewhere north of 75% satisfaction.

We’ve already done that in our Five Step Prospecting Script, available elsewhere, but let me take a minute to describe what successful sales prospecting accomplishes, instead of how to do it, in the hope that we will learn a new way from our readers in the comments to this post.

1. Most important, we want the other person to really focus on whether they want to purchase what we are offering.

2. So before that, we want them to know what we are offering. Figure on a minute or less to have them understand enough to form a desire to acquire.

3. We also want to create an internal condition (theirs, not ours) to take action as quickly as possible.

4. Finally, we want to reward ourselves by satisfying ourselves the other person is buying everything they can.

All of this in five minutes or less, and the people you are playing with have to be having a good time, so in a group situation, others will play.

What are your ideas for how I can accomplish this? Please comment.

Thank you,