Thursday, July 29, 2010

Believe In Yourself

Many of us in sales have a constant struggle when it comes to attitude and belief, especially in our attitudes towards ourselves. We need reinforcement, whether it is from our sales manager or boss, books, motivational recordings, spouse or friend.

The book Three Feet from Gold has this pertinent little aphorism that we need to be reminded of from time to time:

People doubt their beliefs,
But believe their doubts.
Believe in yourself,
And the world will believe in you.
(Page 124, Three Feet from Gold)

So, how much do you believe in yourself?

There is a funny Shoe comic strip that relates to what we are speaking of here.

Shoe, the crusty old newspaper editor is pitching in a baseball game and his team is behind. The catcher comes out to the pitcher’s mound to have a chat with Shoe. The catcher says, “You just need to have a little faith in yourself and your curve ball.”

As the catcher returns to his position, Shoe mutters to himself. “That’s easy for you to say. When it comes to believing in myself I’m an agnostic.”

That’s the secret, though, isn’t it? Believe in yourself.

Brian Tracy loves to say and write these motivating words. "I like myself. I really like myself.”

I use the phrase “I approve of myself.”

What works for you? What do you want to believe about yourself?

It’s all in the state of mind.

Believe in yourself,
And the world will believe in you.

Try it today, on your next sales call.

I can do this!
I am capable!
I know my stuff!
I believe in ME!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Smile Says It All

There is an old saying that goes like this: “To have a friend, be a friend.” Your demeanor, your smile, your dress, your speech patterns all meld together in creating the composite of who you are and how you are perceived. Most experts agree that we have somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes to make a good first impression. Here are some tips for increasing your friendliness factor and making that great first impression on everyone with whom you come into contact.

Try this experiment tomorrow in your work place or wherever you interact with people. Smile! Smile at the people on your elevator, smile at your wife and kids, smile at the bus driver, smile at your boss, smile at your co-workers, and along with the smile offer a more cheerful verbal greeting.

I had the privilege of assisting a couple recently in my retail store. The husband was a nice enough man. He arrived twenty minutes before his wife. I attempted to help him, but he quickly told me he really needed to wait for his wife to arrive.

Wow! I was overwhelmed by her radiant smile when she came in. The first thing she did was smile a most dazzlingly beautiful smile and then she put out her hand, called me by name (which she got from my name badge) and said, “Hi, I’m Barbara. Thanks for helping us find the perfect mattress.”

Most customers I encounter avoid looking at me directly in the early stages of our interaction and I almost never get a smile of any kind. It becomes a game with me to see how quickly I can earn their trust and get them to like me, trust me, smile at me and open up to me.

So, our point for today is a simple one. SMILE! The smile on your face declares to the world that a caring, open individual lives inside of that smile and is so eager to help with what concerns you most today.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Importance of a Mentor

I heard Harvey McKay say once that he had perhaps over a dozen mentors. Can you imagine that?

I have had and currently have a few mentors in my life as well. Allow me to tell you about some of my mentors.
Jim Tharp taught me spiritual direction, discernment and some key fundamentals in helping form my God concept and my religious beliefs as they exist today.
Jim VanHook taught me the art of loving people and instilled in me the philosophy of “love the people.”
Denis Waitley helped me with my understanding of people and motivational aspects about the workings of the mind.
N Hill taught me about dreaming, planning and desiring in a good healthy way and then developing a plan for the accomplishment of such dreams and hopes.
Kevin Hall taught me the importance of words and their root meaning and how a life-word can help define one’s life.

I could name a few others mentors, but I believe you get the point.

Mentors can add tremendous value to your life and in helping you form your foundation, your sense of direction and some fundamental skills that will stand you in good stead for years to come.

I’ve had the privilege of mentoring a few people during my lifetime. I simply have passed on the key principles I’ve gathered from a lifetime of living and learning.

I believe a mentor has a right to be vulnerable to their mentee. He or she needs a taste of real-life work situations and you can best facilitate that by sharing a reasonable amount of the good and the bad. When I faced a crisis, I shared enough of the situation with them to give them a feel of the agony and processes I had to go through. My philosophy of mentoring is that mentoring is a finishing school, a continuing education opportunity and the more real-time experiences one can have the better rounded their lives will be.

Let’s examine the role of the mentor. It begs the question, “What is a mentor?”

A mentor is a guide, teacher, sculptor, advisor, leader, guru, nurturer, prompter, and life coach.

When I entered into those mentoring relationships I cared deeply about the individual and his and her growth both professionally and personally. One of the first things I said to each was this: “Here is a bit of advice I learned from a college professor that I want to pass along to you. It will change your life if you take this advice to heart. The advice is this: “LOVE THE PEOPLE.”

We, all of us, are ultimately in the people business and we can accomplish nothing without people. Genuinely, without shame and without reservations show love and respect for every individual with whom you come into contact. People can tell whether you care or not. Always care, genuinely and sincerely.

Using the ABC’s, lets cover the gamut of what being a mentor is all about:
Mentoring is applying what you’ve learned by pouring it into the life of another
Mentoring is being an example and being real
Mentoring is caring
Mentoring is daring and doing
Mentoring is explaining and expending energy and information
Mentoring is forging skill with experience
Mentoring is giving an opportunity for growth and development
Mentoring is giving up a part of you
Mentoring is helping one come to an understanding of his/her future career choice
Mentoring is honing skills
Mentoring is informing and instilling principles and philosophies
Mentoring is judgment formation skills
Mentoring is kindness
Mentoring is learning
Mentoring is molding
Mentoring is nudging
Mentoring is openness
Mentoring is preparing one for the future
Mentoring is offering quality instruction, conversations and life examples
Mentoring is responsibility
Mentoring is sharing, showing and it is serious
Mentoring is teaching and telling it like it is
Mentoring is understanding
Mentoring is vision
Mentoring is walking side by side, holding the light, showing the way along the path
Mentoring is extra time, work and attention to the facts that matter the most
Mentoring is yielding time
Mentoring is zeroing in on the essential

My mentors have enriched my life beyond what I could ever hope or dream. May you find exceptional mentors and may you have sense enough to listen, learn and then go and leave your own legacy with your own mentee.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dump It Out -- The Art of Creative Thinking

Have you had any fresh ideas lately for your business? Have you uncovered any new and exciting ways to sell more of the “stuff” you sell?

Here is one idea.

Lately I’ve conducted a couple of “Mind Dump” creative thinking sessions. They go like this: I’ll set aside an hour minimum, get in a spot where there are no distractions, including radio, TV, iPod, cell phone, and then sit for ideas. I work best with a computer keyboard under my fingertips, so I use that to capture my ideas. Some people work best with pen and paper. Use what works best for you. The main objective is to sit and see how many ideas you can generate.

I will usually list four or five starter questions to help direct my thinking, but I want to let my mind run wild for this time and there are no thoughts off limits. The objective is to capture as many ideas as possible. Other than the rule about eliminating distractions, there is only one other rule I would suggest. Do not criticize any of your ideas during this session. Just capture them.

I’ll begin with a few “thinking” questions such as:
--If I were my customer, what would I love most from my company?
--What added value can I give to my customer?
--How can I attract more customers?
--What else can I be doing, right now, by making a few slight adjustments?

By now I’m sure you get the picture. Just dump it out. Let the ideas flow, randomly and openly, and capture them with enough notes to establish the main ideas in your head.

I usually find that my best ideas don’t come at first, and that is why I have to dump them out and get the early ones down on my computer and out of my mind. As I review my list during this creative time I find that I start connecting the dots. I begin to put idea combinations together, and that is when it starts getting exciting.

That happened when I was attempting to come up with my tag line – “Offering hope, encouragement and inspiration one word at a time.” I had a dozen or more tag lines when in a flash this line came to mind, fully formed and ready to be claimed.

John Maxwell has a great little book out called How Successful People Think and in it he suggests even having a thinking chair, your favorite spot for generating ideas. Any time John sits in his “thinking chair” it seems his mind just shifts into a creativity and thinking mode. Try it. If it works for you, use it.

Now take action. Pick a date, pick your time, let those significant others in your life know what you are going to do so that they can support you and allow you the privacy you need, gather your idea capturing tools, create your thinking questions and let it happen.

If you manage a team of individuals, you might suggest that each person on your team spend one morning per month on this. Allow them time in the office, or allow them a “Work at Home” opportunity to get this done. You just might get some golden nuggets in ideas and fresh ways of looking at your business.

Think! Dump! Create!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

WOW Someone!

Everybody loves to be WOWed!. Customers love surprises that show them they are being considered. Wives and husbands love those special moments of “WOW” when the other mate totally surprises them for no reason other than love.

How can you and I add the WOW factor into our everyday business affairs? How can you surprise your customer with stellar service? What can you do to “Make Their Day” in a huge way?

Last Sunday night my wife made one of my favorite meals, just for me. It was meatloaf, mashed potatoes and salad. I’ve enjoyed a couple of left-over portions this week and the memory of being thought of and loved in that way has given me second and third helpings of esteem and good feelings. Sometimes, just knowing you are loved and thought of adds immeasurable blessings and good feelings that keep your spirits encouraged.

Here are a few things I’ve done recently to WOW someone.
I gave a man a couple of mattress bags for free when I could have charged $10.
I offered a discount to a lady for purchasing 2 lesser expensive beds without her asking.
I made French toast for my wife.
I sent a timely email to a long-time friend, out of the blue, just to say “You’re being thought of today.”

These are simple, random acts in and of themselves, but in some small way they made an impression on the recipients and I received some hearty words of appreciation and thanks.

Just yesterday, a husband and wife came back into my store and brought a birthday cake simply because they wanted to. My birthday was over a month ago, and my co-partner’s birthday was two days ago. They remembered and came back and honored us with this birthday remembrance.

What can you do today to WOW someone? Everyone likes to know that they are being thought of in a kind way and remembered.

-Have you read something on the internet that would be of interest to a business associate?
-Have you read a book that someone in your sphere of influence should know about?
-Can you remember someone’s birthday and send an appropriately timed card to let them know you thought of them?
-Can you connect two friends of yours who need to know each other just because you thought they should get together?
-Can you take a plate of cookies (chocolate chip w/walnuts, please) to someone just because you want to brighten their day?

When we add value to people within our sphere of influence, it strengthens the relationships, and reminds them that they are not alone. There is life outside of our daily mundane problems and it’s nice to be reminded of that from time to time. It is also another way of saying to them “You are important.”

WOW someone today!