Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What's Your Take on Asking for Help?

How do you feel about asking for help?
  • Do YOU ask for help when you need it?
  • How do you feel when other people ask YOU for help?
  • Do YOU think asking for help is a sign of weakness?
Once upon a time, I used to think that if I tried harder, I could be perfect. Okay, not perfect ... exactly. No one's perfect--everyone knows that. But close to perfect. Real close.

Which meant I had to do everything exactly right. And alone. Because needing help was one thing, but asking for it? That was something else. When you ask for help you admit, out loud, and in public, you're inadequate. Right?

WRONG! A wise person pointed out to me that you alienate people when you don't ask for help. People think you don't need them ... because they can't live up to your high standards. Or you don't want the help of other people because ... they can't live up to your high standards.

Here's another way of looking at it: If you do everything on your own, you're a one-man band. When the time comes to make music, you're a melody without harmony: one-dimensional, flat.

Asking for help doesn't mean you're inadequate, it means you're asking for help. It means you'd like the input and assistance of another person or persons. It means you embrace teamwork and you consider yourself to be human. In other words,  you don't poop vanilla ice cream.

People who poop vanilla ice cream alienate people all the time, don't they? They're a pain in the ... well, you get it. Our bodies simply weren't meant to store all that ice cream at 98.6 degrees.

Seriously, when you ask for help, you indicate you're open, honest, and human. Other people can relate to you and are more willing to offer you the assistance you need. They're relaxed with you because you are human ... just like them.

Yes, there are some people (and bosses) who will view your request for assistance as a weakness. I'm thinking their bathrooms double as ice cream parlors.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Calling for Help On ... Time Management

Molly and Max, Writing Assistants
I am being bombarded with discussion about Time Management lately. Of course, I have all kinds of answers (check out Chapter 7 in Taking the Mystery Out of Business) - but I'm interested in what YOU have to say.

Do you believe in "quiet time" at the office?

Do you download your e-mail every 5 minutes, every 20 minutes, or once an hour?

What does the outgoing message on your voice mail say?

Do you use To-Do lists?

How often do you plan: daily, weekly, monthly ... or not at all?

How do you prioritize? DO you prioritize ... or do you just talk about it?

Monday, June 13, 2011

What Makes a Good Salesperson?

Books have been written on the subject. In fact, the second book in the Taking the Mystery Out series will focus on sales and marketing.

I won't attempt, in this short blog post, to provide you with all the ingredients required to create a superb salesperson. I will, however, focus on what I believe is the single most important quality a salesperson can possess: integrity.

Webster defines integrity as being a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values; the quality or state of being complete or undivided.

I, personally, embrace the second portion of the definition--being complete or undivided.

Have you ever met with a salesperson who constantly interrupts you? Or worse, who's constantly looking over your shoulder to see who else is in the room? How about the salesperson who talks incessantly about himself and doesn't know how to listen when other people speak?

Okay, I admit, if a salesperson spoke incessantly about himself no one else would get a word in edgewise and the salesperson wouldn't make a sale. But you know what I mean, don't you?

If a salesperson is complete and undivided, he's on the same page as the person he's talking with; he's focusing in on the goals of his customer or prospect instead of his own interests.

I was chatting with someone last week who mentioned a mutual acquaintance. She believed this mutual acquaintance was a terrific salesperson. I don't agree with her. Why? Here are some facts; let's connect the dots:
  • The salesperson is bringing in lots of new customers each week.
  • The business' client base is growing quickly.
  • An increasing number of clients are displaying payment issues.
  • An increasing number of new clients are dissatisfied because the product they bought doesn't contain all the benefits and features they were told it had.
  • An increasing number of new clients are upset because the pricing of the product they bought differs from the price they were quoted.
It's easy to schmooze with people and make promises. It's easy to be smiley, and friendly, and nice. What's not so easy is maintaining a good reputation when people find out you break your promises.

Being complete and undivided is the same thing as following rules or adhering to a code of values or ethics. Professionals do the right thing. They do it the right way and for the right reasons. Making yourself--and others--happy in the short term is NOT the right thing to do unless it also makes everyone happy in the long term.

Integrity is the foundation upon which all professional salespersons build their success.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What's so Wonderful About Speaking in Public?

Most people hate the prospect of standing before a group of people for any reason, let alone to talk. Their stomachs seize, their hearts race, and they imagine all manner of catastrophe.

That doesn't happen to me anymore. Instead, I get killer migraines about three hours afterward. Seriously, I do.

So, you're wondering, what's so terrific about getting migraines instead of stomach distress?

It's all about making a difference. Sharing a perspective. Facilitating the communication in a room filled with people so that everyone enjoys themselves and the majority walk away from the event with something more than they had when they arrived.

Personally, I don't much care for lectures. I'm sure it stems from the fact that I'm more of a participant than an observer. How much fun does a participant have when someone else stands at the front of a room talking without seeking input from the audience? Sure, I've benefited from listening to lectures. I've learned important information.

But I've had much more fun, and learned more, from presentations made by speakers who engaged the audience and encouraged them to participate. When a speaker seeks input from members of the audience, everyone in the room has the opportunity to share: perspectives, information, enjoyment.

As a speaker, I realize not everyone in my audience is going to like me. And that's okay, I don't always like everyone in my audience. What makes the migraines worthwhile, however, is the fact that after I make a presentation, the majority of my audience walks away feeling they're better for the experience: either they had a really good time or they acquired information they didn't have beforehand. Or both--that's really terrific.

I made a two-hour presentation at an insurance convention in Las Vegas earlier this week. Wanna know the best part? Afterwards, someone said to me, "Mary and I thought you rocked!"

Yep, the migraine was well worth it.