Are You Suffering From Death By Meeting?


unproductivemeeting


Businesses usually drive toward cost-effective processes and spend money on value-added services. Therefore, I find it perplexing that during my long tenure in Corporate America, businesses have neither mastered nor intentionally attempted to improve meeting efficacy. Employees complain that meetings have consumed their work day. By current statistics, middle managers spend 35% of their time in meetings and senior management upwards of 50%.

With all the experience employees have in meeting participation, one would expect them to be masters in planning and leading meetings. Instead, statistics reveal employees agree that the majority of meetings are unproductive or just plain wasteful. In laymen terms, employees are suffering from Death by Meeting. Ask yourself whether you commonly experience any of these symptoms?

  • You’re more interested in reading your incoming iPhone messages than what’s being discussed in the meeting
  • You plan the rest of your day in your mind or worry how you’re going to get the work piling up on your desk done while sitting in meetings
  • Your thoughts speak, “This meeting is a waste of my time.”
  • You question why you were invited
  • You get annoyed that a few tend to monopolize the conversation or too much time is spent catching up a few late attendees
  • You bring your laptop so you can get other work or personal to-dos done
  • You come late to meetings and find excuses to leave early
  • You avoid meetings by asking for a summary afterwards
  • You know shortly into the meeting it will run over or end on time without any decision
  • You routinely attend meetings with no clearly defined purpose or definite resolution so a second meeting will be scheduled to continue the discussion
  • You believe an email could have handled the situation

Meetings can be a powerful internal business tool and require strategy, planning, and execution. Great meeting skills can be learned. Ask me how I can help you or your organization leverage the power of effective meetings and treat those Death by Meeting symptoms.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

What to Keep in Mind During Your Next Negotiation


WinWin


Whether you realize it or not, people are always negotiating, because most of what they want or need in life is controlled or owned by someone else. Negotiation is underway when a parent bribes a toddler with candy for good behavior or a boss offers comp time for putting in extra hours on a critical project. Much of our daily conversation involves the underlying theme of negotiation as seen when you pitch a project or make a recommendation you want the team to endorse. Below are a few concepts that may help you achieve a win-win outcome in your next negotiation.

Understand the Other Person’s Negotiation Style

Understanding the other person’s inherent negotiation style can be helpful in how you approach the conversation. On one hand, you may encounter someone who is very straight-forward and puts their near final offer on the table right away. What about the person whose first offer is usually half-way between what they are willing to settle for? At another extreme, I had a boss who wouldn’t start to negotiate until you asked a third time for something you wanted.

With perseverance and the belief that I had to have “such-and-such” for my business, I figured out over time that I didn’t get to start negotiating until I had hit the second “no”. Further into the relationship, I asked him why he took this approach with me and my peers who asked for money to support their businesses. He answered, “I’m not sure they couldn’t find another way until they’re asking me.” I can’t say I agree with his approach, but I certainly learned to work with it. Many of my colleagues never figured out our boss’s style or got the level of support they wanted.

Figure Out What the Other Person Wants

Understanding people’s negotiating styles leads into the second key negotiation concept which is to figure out what the other person wants. In the case of my former boss, he further expanded on why he adopted his negotiation style. He believed business leaders inherently made business decisions that made their lives easier without considering whether it was most cost-effective or had the ROI that merited the investment [note: this worldview that is difficult to change]. If you asked him a third time, you crossed over a hurdle in his mind that you were at least serious and passionate about your request. That marker meant you then got a seat at the negotiation table.

My boss would get daily requests to approve small to large expenditures for operations, sales, and marketing to sustain or grow the businesses. He told me if he signed all the Authorization of Expenditures (AFE) that crossed his desk, the company would be broke. Although he didn’t say it in so many words, I figured out that in order for him to sign an AFE, he needed to believe (1) there really was a problem that needed to be addressed, (2) all possible options where explored, and (3) the recommendation was the most cost-effective solution with an adequate return on investment.

With that in mind, all my requests came with a detailed PowerPoint presentation that covered all those hot topics. I got him to say “yes” to every slide message, so that when I got to the last slide which asked for money, he couldn’t help but say “yes.” And he did say “yes” every time, but…

Leave the Other Person in a Happy Place

…this brings me to the third important negotiating concept—try to leave the person you’re negotiating with in a happy place. Although I got what I set out to achieve, I noticed a bit of disappointment in my boss’s face. Knowing his personality, I assumed he hadn’t felt as if he had contributed to the solution. I had identified the problem, analyzed the options, and recommended the solution too thoroughly.

Although I’m not usually one to have patience in playing games, I am, however, a strategist. So, when my next request came around, I executed my usual strategy but left out a meaningful small component that I knew he’d find. He did suggest, “What about doing…?” My response was, “That’s a great idea. I’ll incorporate it into the plan and then move forward. It shouldn’t change the cost.” He smiled and said, “Great, send up the AFE and I’ll sign it.” The outcome was the same, but I left my boss feeling like he’d contributed to the success of the project which was the cherry on the top of the negotiation outcome.

Wrapping It Up

Many of the other business leaders never figured out how to successfully negotiate with our boss. They hadn’t taken the time to understand his negotiation style, what he wanted to hear in order to say “yes”, and certainly didn’t know how to leave him in a happy place. The reality is that negotiation can easily be a win-win. You need to focus less on getting what you want and more on putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She coaches individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Leadership Strategies: Target Your Message to the Right Sense

5 senses


People were created with five senses, although a few may claim they have a sixth sense. If you’re blessed with this intuitive sixth, you may not need read any further since you’ve probably already put into practice the concept to follow. For those who rely mostly on their core five, you may achieve greater influence if you tailor and direct your message toward the sense your intended receiver relies on most.

Leadership is about influence, and in many cases, influencing means getting people to see your point of view, do specific things, change behaviors, and think in different ways. Communication can be in the form of written, dialogue, and immersion into a situation to gain firsthand information. What many leaders may not realize is that each person has a preferred method by which want to receive information, usually because they process it more effectively in that format.

Although these preferences are individualistic, in my experience there also appears to be preferences by generational cohorts. Millennials seem to prefer visual communication based on how they learned via video technology. GenX, who grew up using PowerPoint as a primary business tool, typically prefer written communication to read over and digest. The Baby Boomers and older prefer to talk in person, or if necessary, have a conversation over the phone. They remember the days when a 20-ft telephone cord helped them stay connected with friends and family dinners/conversations were mandatory seven nights a week.

Regardless whether people fit their generational cohort, they typically give clues in how they prefer to receive information based on the words they use to start their responds. When people responds with “see” and “looks” as in “I see why” or “It looks good,” most likely they prefer to receive information visually.  Even if they heard the information, they will tend to respond with “It looks good.”

People who prefer auditory will likely respond, “I hear you.” Then there are those who say, “I feel…” as they weigh how people will feel about the decision. More women than men typically say “I feel…” when expressing their opinion, with men preferring to opt for “I think…” or “I believe…” If you provide information in the format that the receiver prefers, you may be more influential in your message.  What’s your preferred sense?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She coaches individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Successful Selling Is Like Playing Your Best Game of Golf


Sales Golf


If you’re a golfer and a sales person, you know there’s plenty of selling done on a golf course. Although I haven’t come across any statistics, I’d speculate the majority of deals closed outside the boardroom are done on a golf course. I’ll also propose that the strategic sales process is akin to playing a game of golf. If you play both of them well, you’re likely to have your best sales year and game yet.

Although you may tee off in a foursome, golf is an individual sport where you’re playing your own game. Therefore, if you focus on how your competition is doing, you’ll lose sight on what’s important—the hole in front of you or in the case of business your customer. Your best game drives solidly on you and your customer, their needs, and what you can deliver. Successful sales people share some common strategies in how they approach and gather information about their customers and lead the sales process. These steps are similar in how a golfer strategizes in how to place the ball in the hole.

  1. Successful sales leaders study the company they want to sell to and learn about its vision, mission, size, growth, culture, products, products, strategic partnerships, locations, and key players. What they can’t find from their research, they’re prepared to ask during the initial meeting. They want to know what the goals and objectives of the organization are, who are the key decision-makers, and how purchasing decisions are made. It’s like the golfer studying the hole standing on the tee box—how it doglegs, pin placement, etc.
  2. They also learn of the customer’s purchasing process and what motivates each decision-maker. Sometimes manufacturing wants the more expensive solution, because it eases daily operations. Finance wants the cheapest, and the business leader wants the most cost effective. This process is like the golfer evaluating the clubs in his bag to determine which ones will get his ball over the sand traps, around the trees, and out of the tall grass to land in the cup with the least number of strokes.
  3. Most people consider sales a solo sport with most of the responsibility and accountability on the shoulders of the sales person. Just like a golfer who consults with his caddy, a seasoned sales person utilizes the skills and experience of the entire sales team. Successful sales people know how to leverage the strengths and perspectives of the other team members.
  4. After several meetings, a sales person has enough information about the company, what it needs, who makes the decisions, and what the decision-makers value to create a compelling story proposal. This mirrors the golfer who selects the club, takes a stance, addresses the ball, and swings the club while factoring in the wind speed, wind direction, and the brakes in the green to land his last shot onto the green and into the hole.

Sometimes your competition takes home the trophy by scoring a lucky double eagle, even when you’ve played your best game. When you consistently drive on these sales strategies, you’ll find you win far more customers than you lose, and you’ll be saying it’s better to be good than lucky.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She coaches individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Are You Measuring the Right Sales Metrics?


ROIAlmost everyone has heard of, if not experienced, the 80/20 Rule, such as 20% of the employees contribute 80% of the output or 20% of the customer portfolio contributes 80% of the revenue. In the case of sales, many companies do derive the majority of their sales revenue from a handful of customers and tend to focus their efforts on satisfying the needs of those customers. In business, however, it’s not as important how much you bring in (revenue) as it is in how much you keep (profit).

Some companies have no idea who their most profitable customers are, because they don’t have the financial software, the correct cost basis, or the means of tracking all the costs to service a given customer. The largest customers are likely to be the most demanding and for good reason. They believe their status gives them the right to the best service and lowest cost a company can offer. How do these demands impact the bottom-line?

Instead of or in addition to calculating the sales revenue or even gross margin, what is the return on investment (ROI) for each client? The customer mix that applied to an initial 80/20 Rule for revenue may fall short for ROI. Better to measure and manage your strategic relationships so you know they are valuable assets.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She coaches individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

What I’ve Learned from Coaching

Sandra Dillon: May 27, 2018


humanity.jpgPeople sometimes ask me what I’ve learned from my coaching practice. Although the list is long, what has most surprised me most through my professional journey is how each of my clients has drawn me closer in seeing the spirit of humanity—the fullness of what it means to be human.

I was called into this profession after decades of achieving my own personal success in Corporate America, and now I’ve entered an era where I’m purposeful helping others be successful in their relationships, work, and purpose. I’ve had the thrill of directly impacting the bottom line and now have the opportunity to affect not only my client’s lives but those of their colleagues, families, and generations to come.

Coaching helps me suspend judgment, see different worldviews, and understand the breadth of human struggles. Coaching helps me see the full definition of what it means to be human. I’m honored to see the struggle, not the facade the client may present to the world.

My clients help each other without ever having met. I sit in the middle of humanity and see lives unfold, strategies implemented, and the feedback from the world build my own database. Without revealing names or circumstances, I have perspectives that challenge faulty thinking and can share successful client strategies that may help the next client.

People tell me my coaching has been a priceless gift. They’ve been able to be authentic, known, encouraged, challenged, inspired, and see their lives change for the better. What my clients may not realize is that I too have received a priceless gift in return. My clients learn from me, and I also learn from them.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, business, and life coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

How Can Coaching Help You?

Sandra Dillon: May 25, 2018


GreatnessFrequently I’m asked what I coach on. The simple answer is quite a lot, although that’s probably not a useful answer. Most coaches focus on a niche market and clientele, and as a former business executive, who specialized in business development, marketing, and sales, I fully agree with this strategy. However, I’ve taken the road less traveled by offering a diverse range of coaching services based on my unique skill set and passion to see people grow across all dimensions of their lives. I’ve coached people in:

  1. Leadership
    • Improve ability to influence colleagues’ performance at all levels and across generational cohorts
    • Develop managerial coaching skills for coaching direct reports and teams
    • Identify and overcome personal barriers to performance
    • Cultivate stronger relationships
    • Improve communication and conflict resolution skills
    • Manage through a crisis
    • Build teams with the right skills sets and behaviors to succeed
  2. Career/Job
    • Select a job or profession aligned with preferences and strengths
    • Create a powerful resume and LinkedIn profile
    • Prepare for a job interview
    • Lead effective meetings and projects that delivers results
  3. Life
    • Create a personal, value-driven vision and mission
    • Identify core values and strengths and use for purpose and success
    • Establish and drive on meaningful goals
    • Balance work and family
    • Handle difficult situations
    • Navigate through different seasons of life (young adulthood, empty-nester)
  4. Business
    • Create a compelling vision and mission
    • Develop strategy and winning execution plans
    • Build and lead teams that deliver results
    • Identify and expand brand awareness
    • Prioritize and manage time to focus on the right things
    • Enhance productivity with limited resources
    • Develop sales and negotiation skills
  5. Financial
    • Create short-, mid-, and long-term financial goals
    • Learn budgeting and financial skills
    • Understand money mindset and how it influences decisions
    • Build a personal budget, develop execution strategies, and be accountable
    • Plan for retirement
  6. Marriage/Premarital
    • Learn effective tools to communicate and solve conflicts
    • Understand how different spousal personalities mesh and work together
    • Define and meet marriage needs
    • Blend families successfully

When clients engage me as a coach, they learn and practice new skills, competencies, and behaviors that translate into other life areas as well. Many of my clients see a holistic life improvement, even though they may have initially focused their efforts in one specific area. For example, relationship strategies in how to lead people at work are transferable to family life.

My clients have said I’ve changed their life for the better. What can I help you with? I welcome a conversation, so you can share an area you want to change. We can talk about an approach and how to get from here to there. Although I live in Houston, my clients live across the country. Skype is a wonderful tool for coaching. Don’t let distance between us stop you from getting the coaching you want.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and life coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com or engage her as your coach by reaching out for a conversation at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com

How Can Coaching Help Your Small Business?

Sandra Dillon: May 18, 2018


At times people reference business and executive coaching interchangeably without realizing they are quite different. Each contributes its own value, and when pursued together, these two types of coaching can accelerate performance. Sometimes small business owners have difficulty understanding how their leadership styles and certain competencies limit their business’s success, because they are too involved in the daily operations of the company. For this reason, executive coaching for the leader and business coaching for the team can be a powerful investment.

What is Business Coaching?

A business coach works with the leadership and their teams to define vision, mission, and/or goals that the company wants to achieve—more commonly thought of as the coaching objectives. Business coaching is typically lead by coach who has a firm understanding of the various moving parts of business (i.e. finance, operations, marketing, customer service, and sales) and how they come together to deliver a product or service that attracts target customers. A business coach doesn’t necessarily have to be an expert in the industry but should have a working knowledge of how successful businesses operate.

The coach works with the team to gather data and help evaluate the company’s operations, systems, people structures, and communications, looking for obstacles to remove, more effective methods to deploy, and resources required to improve the organization’s effectiveness.  The coach may help the team:

  • paint an accurate picture of the internal and competitive landscapes
  • help leadership perform a gap analysis from where the company stands to where it wants to go
  • develop or modify processes and systems that enhance the business operations
  • brainstorm and select a strategy
  • create a plan with a schedule of critical milestones
  • provide facilitation and accountability

Leadership decides what they do, how fast, and how involved they want the coach during the different phases of execution.

In many cases, hiring a coach to help identify the root causes of underperformance is worth the cost. You’ve likely heard the expression that sometimes it’s lonely at the top. As leaders rise in the ranks, they typically don’t receive all or accurate information of what needs to be addressed within their company. A business coach can help uncover the facts, so a company has a firm understanding with what they are dealing.

What is Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching deals with the worldview, thoughts, and behaviors of a leader and how these impact his team and ultimately business performance. Executive coaching focuses on what the leader needs to acquire, shed, or change in order to achieve a personal goal, move the company in a specific direction, or prepare him for another role. Leaders will usually be coached in one or more of the following areas:

  • Identifying and developing personal strengths
  • Minimizing overuse of a strength where it may become detrimental
  • Understanding leadership style and enhancing leadership skills
  • Developing a professional presence
  • Improving collaboration and communication
  • Driving successful team behaviors

In many cases, success is proven by how people respond to the executive. Although executive coaching implies a high-ranking individual in a large organization, executive coaching is very appropriate for a small business owner. I prefer the label “professional” as opposed to “executive” coaching, because everyone can benefit from individual coaching.

What Impact Can Coaching Have?

Leaders influence work processes, cultures, and how employees feel about themselves, their work, and their employer. How employees feel is reflected in how they treat their colleagues, vendors, and customers as well as how they speak about their employer. Leaders who embrace the coaching process can realize higher self-fulfillment, see their business thrive, and have greater impact on their employees and community.

Coaching can help with:

  1. Focusing on structure/boundaries/performance issues to increase productivity while creating a positive working environment
  2. Reducing or creating processes that make doing business more efficient
  3. Empowering employees to deliver a more positive customer experience
  4. Changing leadership behaviors to reduce organizational anxiety and increase focus on what’s most important
  5. Increasing collaboration and communication to build alignment and drive faster execution
  6. Creating a more positive working culture that draws in talented employees, customers, and strategic partnerships

Executive coaching is for leaders who want to lead their businesses well. Sometimes the most effective approach is for small business owners to commit to an executive coach and then move into business coaching with their team.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in business and leadership. She coaches individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people and be the best versions of themselves and see businesses thrive. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Improve How You Communicate at Work

Sandra Dillon: May 13, 2018


CommunicationMen and women generally have different styles of communication, and when one appreciates and works with these language differentiators, they can help lead their teams to higher performance levels. Across all relationships, men tend to use their words to work through and solve problems; whereas, women are more likely than men to share their feelings to feel better about their problems and build connection. Women tend to talk out their process, while men think out their process before sharing with a group. Not surprisingly, studies show women use about 3 times more words than men do in a given day—20,000 versus 7,000. Statistics may highlight how differently men and women communicate, but they don’t capture how these differences can result in biased judgment. Sometimes judgment can lead to unintentional discrimination in the forms of exclusion from teams and projects as well as subjective performance evaluations based on behaviors that don’t resonate with the evaluator.

Hedging Language Undermines the Message

Did you know that women are interrupted 3 times more than men? Why is that? Ideally everyone should be respectful in allowing others to finish sharing their thoughts, but this isn’t always the case. I believe women tend to undermine their own success in the workplace, when they use hedging language—setups that do not offend or words that soften their position. People who use hedging language find themselves routinely starting their sentences with:

  • I think, but I’m not sure…
  • I hope you can see my point of….
  • I could be wrong, but…

Some men also use this type of language and suffer the same consequences. However, women tend use hedging language more, because they have been culturalized since childhood to be relationship builders. Another expression of the hedger is saying “I’m sorry” when “excuse me” is more appropriate for the situation. These “starters” and “phrases” don’t set people up for success in the work environment, because they discount the idea that follows.

Who Needs to Change?

Most people prefer that others communicate in the style they do; however, I propose that every employee has an obligation to communicate in a way that honors the company’s culture and colleagues without violating their own values. Employees should assess the work landscape and intentionally adjust their natural communication style to support the success of the company, business, or team. So how can men and women adjust to accommodate their differences?

I suggest that women minimize using those undermining prefaces, assert their ideas and opinions, and chose not to get offended. Men should share more about how they arrived at their ideas. They should also be more patient and not interrupt a woman until she has has completed her thoughts. Focus on generating white space—the pause between speakers. While women and men try to bridge their communication styles, both should suspend judgment in how the other communicates.

A Mentor Can Help

I’m an advocate for mentoring and coaching because of the benefits I see mentorees and coachees achieve. Sometimes even the most experienced and successful people need a coach to help them see and navigate the blind spots they’ve developed over time. Understandably, many people are more comfortable seeking mentors of the same sex. If you have the opportunity to have two mentors, or a coach and mentor, I would encourage you to seek one of each gender. I believe there will be at least a few instances where you will get a different perspective that proves invaluable.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and life coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

5 Words to Eliminate from Your Sales Conversations

words out of mouth


Communication is a powerful tool used in selling and developing business. Studies show that communication is composed of body language (55%), tone of voice (38%), and words (7%). However, the contribution of your chosen words to the meaning of your message shouldn’t be underestimated.

Watch out for These Words or Expressions

There are several words or phrases sales people should be sensitive to, because they subtly diminish the impression left customers. When you reflect on your past conversations do you find yourself using any of the following?

  • No problem: These two words have become today’s standard response for a “thank you.” Does “no problem” presume the customer’s request would be a problem, and the seller was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t? Better to express a simple “you’re welcome” or an affirming statement such as “my pleasure” [the standard at a Chick-Fil-A near you].
  • Small: Many organizations label and promote themselves as a “small” business. Don’t minimize your business in your customers’ minds. Better to use more neutral, and even better, more positive language. Substitute “small” with “growing” or “intimate.”
  • We: Avoid “we” as much as you can when pitching your services or products. If you want to establish brand recognition, say and write the company’s name. Notice the difference when you speak, “Shine Crossings is offering first time clients 50% off their first coaching session,” as opposed to “We are offering first time clients 50% off their first coaching session.”
  • Just and Only: Sometimes sellers use these qualifiers to imply a bargain price: “This product is only $20.” These words make you sound less confident in what you’re asking for, which can then make a customer wonder how low you will go.  Try removing the qualifier by saying “This product is $20,” and then promote its benefits. Do you notice the subtle change in confidence conveyed about the product’s value?

Words are powerful, so be mindful of which ones you choose in order to reap the rewards of greater sales success.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and life coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com