Where Are Your Best Conversations?

ConversationsYou’ve likely heard the real estate advice that the three most important factors in deciding which home to buy are location, location, and location. In Bob Goff’s book Everybody Always he discusses the impact that location can have on the quality of our conversations with people. He asserts that “location drives content, [and] if you have the right conversation at the right place, you just had the right conversation” (Goff, 2018, p. 182).

Reflecting on this concept, perhaps I should emphasize more the location where I coach, do ministry, and have work-related conversations. Perhaps I should be as choosy in where I have a conversation as I am on what we plan to discuss. Location can calm or excite, stimulate creativity, or increase nervousness. Next time you plan a meeting or conversation, select a location that supports what you want to achieve. If you’re limited on venues, how else could you change the environment to make it more conducive to the conversation?

I know a salesman who loves to bring a variety of ice creams to his customer meetings held in formal conference rooms when he wants to break the ice and have fun. He stores a freezer bag in his trunk and stops at the local grocery store to pick up Nutty Buddies, Klondike bars, and Good Humor variety packs. He delights when his customers struggle on what colorful ice cream goodie they want and reminisce about the last time they had a Strawberry Shortcake on a stick as they lick their ice cream. You get the picture. He has everyone sharing stories and smiling—creating connection in the room—countering the formalness of the location.

Bob Goff has a lot of creative conversations, so where do you think he holds office hours? Read the book and find out.

Reference

Goff, B. (2018). Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, and financial 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.shinecrossingsministry.com.

What’s Your Story? How Well Does It Sell?

storytelling storyselling

Who doesn’t like a good story? When you think of the times you were most wrapped up in a conversation, I’d bet you were listening intently to someone unfolding a good story. Why? Because a good story connects people like a common and universal language.

The power of a good story was brought home while I was reading Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. The book focuses on why developing a story that puts the customer as the hero of his/her own story is a powerful marketing strategy. Miller (2017) shares that every successful story has specific elements and events: (1) a character, (2) a problem, (3) character meets guide, (4) guide gives plan, (5) character is inspired to action, and (6) success results or failure is avoided. Blockbusters have proved this theme to be true over and over again as exemplified in such movies as Star Wars and Hunger Games.

What makes for a good story? A good story answers three specific questions: (1) What the hero wants? (2) Who or what is opposing the hero of getting it? and (3) What the hero’s life will look like if he or she gets it? If you’re marketing your business, you need to answer those questions and answer them fast with the least amount of noise.

Miller (2017) asserts that successful businesses have developed websites and marketing materials that within 5 seconds of looking at them, potential customers can answer:

  • What the business offers?
  • How the product or service will make their life better?
  • What they need to do to buy it?

How do your marketing materials stand up to the storyline test? Do they clearly and succinctly communicate what problem you solve and the impact to the customer? Do they challenge the customer to act? If the answer is not a resounding “yes” to all these questions, perhaps you should revamp your marketing and advertising. You’ll be happy you did but be forewarned that making these changes will be harder than you think. Most people are not conditioned to think in this way when designing marketing materials.

Reference

Miller, D. (2017). Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen. Nashville, TN: HarperCollins.


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

See Your Revenue Increase When You Switch from Sales Training to Sales Coaching

Sales Growth

Will 2020 be the year when companies have 20/20 vision on how to implement an effective sales training process that delivers the expected and sought-after performance? With US-based companies spending nearly $20 billion per year on sales training, why do they settle for traditional sales programs where 85% of the content is lost within 90 days (SRG, 2018)? The more effective program is strategic and tactical coaching which can potentially increase revenue by 20%.

Ideally, the sales manager would be the coach; however, most sales leaders don’t have the coaching skills or time to invest in their sales staff. For this and other reasons, an external sales coach can be part of the sales training solution—working with the sales leader and meeting one-on-one with a sales rep on day 30, 60, and 90 after the initial training. In most scenarios, sales coaching in itself brings substantial and sustainable benefits regardless of whether formal training is part of the process.

A coach can help the sales professional with approaches to new accounts or how to sell deeper with an existing client. A coach can also help the sales team to:

  • identify and overcome specific account obstacles
  • prioritize accounts based on risk/reward
  • create specific customer strategies
  • review and understand contributors to success
  • develop plans for improvement
  • build general sales skills in preparation and execution
  • increase sales team cohesiveness and teamwork

More companies are realizing the value of individual coaching for its sales team. Group training can still be part of the process, but to sustain the impact of the training investment it should be paired with one-on-one coaching. Coaching is the sign of the future. Are you ready to get on board and make more effective use of your training dollars?

Reference

Sales Readiness Group. (2018). Maximizing the Effectiveness of Sales Training: Five Factors for Developing Sustainable Selling Skills.


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

Is DISC in Your Sales Tool Kit?

discprofilewheelSalespeople are usually seeking ways to connect with customers, and some of the most strategic utilize the power of DISC. If you haven’t heard of the DISC personality profile, it’s an acronym representing four behavioral styles: dominance (D), influence (I), steadiness (S), and conscientiousness. People can be a mixture of all four but typically act out behaviors that align with one or a blend of two primary styles. Strategic salespeople leverage the power of DISC by adjusting their approach, words, presentation, and pace to the prospects’ preferred style and the role the customer plays as influencer, approver, decision-maker, or recommender.

DISC (www.discprofile.com) measures (1) the degree a person naturally prefers to be outgoing as opposed to reserved and (2) the extent to which a person is people- versus task-oriented. Although there are many exceptions, people who gravitate toward finance, accounting, and analysis are typically strong C’s. CEOs tend to be D-driven. Commonly, salespeople are strong I’s, which explains why they typically approach their clients with enthusiasm, as if they too are I’s. Strong S-people are drawn toward jobs where they can support teams such as Human Resources and Training & Development.

Salespeople should ask enough questions to determine what behavior styles each client favors. The clients’ preferences and role they play in the purchase decision should influence how the salesperson approaches the sales process. For example, “C” clients will prefer to know the facts, measure the ROI, thoroughly understand the alternatives, and focus on efficiency. They will likely ask a lot of questions and may extend the sales process until they get answers. On the other hand, a “D” client will be about action. Once D’s decide something needs to be addressed, they look to solve it and solve it fast, so they can move on to the next decision that needs to be made. Salespeople should focus on the benefits and minimize the details; otherwise, they will lose the attention of this decision-maker.

High-performing salespeople intentionally get to know the personalities and behaviors of their clients and adapt their style to match. They don’t have a one-size fits all approach. Although salespeople have a tool kit, the DISC personality assessment can be one of their most effective tools when they know how to use it.


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

Sales Success: Where do You Focus First?

Zig ziglar

As a coach, I’m an advocate of always having a vision for every area of your life, whether it be marriage, career, or what you want to accomplish in the position you currently have. In my opinion, salespeople have some additional pressures, because their success is usually dependent on influencing others as opposed to working on tasks that are easily self-controlled. You could say that sales people have pressure to “close the deal” by the “close of business” which is no small task.

With so much emphasis on closing the deal, where does the salesperson spend most of his or her time, energy, and effort with a customer? A search for the best sales training would have you believe it’s anywhere but the beginning, as promotions abound for “selling with stories,” “driving to a close,” and “sales presentation training.” I’m sure there are useful insights delivered by each program, but what I believe is missing is how to take the very first step with the customer, which is the farthest point from winning the deal.

Instead of focusing on the end, I suggest the focus be on taking the first successful step with the customer. You’ll never have the opportunity to make a second first impression, and a first impression is made within the first 10 seconds. Studies show there are two questions a person will try to answer about you when they first meet you: (1) Can I trust you? and (2) Are you competent?

Maybe the best way to successfully close business is to focus on how to open business—the first conversation. I’m not referring to idle chit-chat or talking about your credentials. Forget about the weather or traffic, which are meaningless banter. I’m talking about forming a genuine connection based on finding out who you know in common or asking questions about your prospect’s background?

If you’re good with your opening, your customers will be able to answer “yes” to their two burning questions. When you earn trust and credibility, usually everything else that follows falls into place.


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

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 belief that I had to have “such-and-such” for my business, I eventually figured out that I didn’t start negotiating until I had the second “no”. Further into the relationship, I asked him why he took this approach with me and my peers when we asked for money. He answered, “I’m not sure you couldn’t find another way to solve your business problem until you multiple times.” I didn’t necessarily 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 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

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

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