How to Conquer a Bad Habit

It’s never easy to create a new habit, but you can easily choose to stop a bad one. Here’s the secret: Don’t try to change everything at once. Use the rule of three, whereby you identify only three of your bad habits and commit to stop doing them. Review the 16 bad sales and communication habits cited in my previous post, and you’ll find that they usually indicate an excess or deficit in either information or emotion. We usually share too much information or not enough emotion (or vice versa). Where do your behaviors fit on the spectrum? Use this four-step action plan to neutralize bad habits: 1. Gather data. Notice the kinds of casual remarks others make about you. These comments contain key information that can help you improve your communications. Ask. 2. Find or develop a “mute button”. Allow seven seconds of silence to pass during your next conversation. You may find that this gap helps you listen more carefully instead of mentally working on your response. Also use this time to observe your conversation partner’s nonverbal communication. Zip it. 3. Observe your own self-deception. Each of us denies certain behaviors to protect ourselves from discomfort. Identify what you can do – and stop doing – to achieve even greater success. Admit it. 4. Work with a trusted peer, mentor or coach. Personal change rarely happens when we work in isolation. If it does occur, it’s usually harder to sustain. Studies show that sharing plans and following up with another person lead to long-term behavioral changes. Share it (your action plan) and follow up with someone. Follow-Up...

Connecting Through Empathy

Have you ever wondered why some people seem naturally quite good at sales and communications, while others struggle? It has a lot to do with the way our brains are wired. We innately connect with others, both emotionally and physiologically, without even trying. It’s basic human nature. Yet some people are more predisposed to it than others. Empathy allows us to understand others’ feelings, thoughts and experiences. The ability to empathize is wired into almost all human brains, and it’s a prerequisite to understanding what drives others’ intentions and motivations. Empathy is required for all effective social interactions. So, how does it help you create a positive sales experience? Empathy vs Ego The intrinsic need to persuade and convince someone else – along with the resilience of ego to take the battering of rejection – has long been established as a cornerstone trait of successful salespeople. A powerful ego comes up as a strong driver of what it takes to make it in sales. Yet ego alone is also what is failing people in sales. To get from where you are today to where you need to be in the future, you’ll need to develop a conscious maintenance of empathy. The right balance of ego and empathy facilitates communication and boosts sales effectiveness. The Empathy Deficit Sometimes I wonder if we’re putting less emphasis on empathy in favor of more attention to winning. In the work I do coaching, I rarely get requests from people who want to become more empathetic. It’s usually coaching to achieve more. Studies show, in fact, that our sense of empathy is eroding. The...

Your Job: The Functional vs. Human Factors

What do you need to know to improve customer relationships and communications? Even if you’re not in sales, you still need to be current on the messages you want customers to know. “No matter who employs you or what your organization is selling or servicing, you work within two areas of responsibility; there are two sides to your job: functional and human”, write Goldsmith, Brown and Hawkins in What Got You Here Won’t Get You There in Sales!: How Successful Salespeople Take It to the Next Level, (McGraw-Hill, 2011). This is something I talk about with the people I coach .While this concept is simple enough, it’s worth considering these two arenas on a deeper level. Your Functional Job The functional arena of your job involves mastery of a product or service. No matter who you are, the scope of your job or your area of specialization, you must understand what your company’s products and services represent to customers. This includes: o Features o Benefits o Advantages o Results and proof of what the company does Depending on your level of involvement and experience, you have a range of knowledge about your company and its customers. The functional side of your job stresses purpose, practice and utility. You must know procedures, policies, process and pricing. You also need to master the computers, software and data systems that run the business and measure results. Most of this functional mastery happens without customer interaction. It’s the human side of business that attracts, retains and sustains success. With so much product and service similarity in today’s commoditized economy, it’s critical to identify...

16 Bad Habits You Can Change

Leaders seem to forget that their human assets make or break a customer’s ownership experience. “Interpersonal interaction, though sometimes not the top reason for making a purchase, is almost always the reason for not repurchasing.” ~ Marshall Goldsmith, Don Brown and Bill Hawkins, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There in Sales!: How Successful Salespeople Take It to the Next Level, (McGraw-Hill, 2011). Creating a positive experience for customers is every employee’s job, including those who work outside the sales department. Even if you have limited customer contact, your ability to influence and persuade others builds a foundation for effective interpersonal communications that lead to business success. Unfortunately, training often overlooks key interpersonal skills for influencing others. I see this in the people I coach and work with. In conversations, I’ve found that many leaders fail to understand that: o Customer expectations for the sales experience have increased. o Customers enjoy a broader, more competitive selection of products and services. o Companies are falling short on customer-relationship communications by overrelying on technology and outsourcing. o There is often misalignment between sales and service. o The pace of customer response is accelerating, yet salesperson ramp-up is longer, more costly and more difficult. o Workers are stressed by rising targets and quotas, but have access to fewer resources. o Customers define value both rationally and emotionally, yet less than 25 percent of salespeople are deemed proficient in core selling competencies. We can’t assume that what has worked before for customer services and communications will continue to be successful. And if your company outsources for customer services, there needs to be...