Mar 262014

“It’s not about you” is the first sentence in one of the best-selling books over the last 10 to 15 years, “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. In order to be successful in your personal life, professional life, family life, or your faith life, it all comes down to this one concept: It’s not about you …

If it’s not about you, then who’s it about? Let’s look at the professional side of this concept. In the business world, many sales people have the reputation of being self-centered and projecting an attitude of, it’s all about them. Some of that comes with the territory of being successful in the business world. But, I think many times some of it stems from poor training and/or an unguided, a confused moral compass, or both. If any of these are not properly balanced then you could end up thinking that it is all about you.

As sales professionals, we are usually baited with the carrot of a commission/bonus structure as a motivational tool to drive us to success. The better the sales person, the higher the compensation; the higher the compensation the nicer the car, the bigger the house, the more lavish the vacations we can enjoy.

But what happens when you stop selling to “serve the customer” and begin selling to “serve yourself” and/or a certain level of living? When your focus begins to shift from the customer’s needs, to focusing on maintaining a certain level of living, then you may be headed down that dark and lonely path called self-centeredness. At that point, it’s easy to lose sight of who/what it’s really about, you or the customer?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t work hard to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Just don’t work for the fruits. Work instead to serve the customer; the fruits will come … tenfold!

In my world, you’ll never be the best version of yourself, unless you learn the value of service by serving others above yourself in everything you do.

Feb 202014

It’s been a couple of months since you made your New Year’s resolution, so, how’s it going so far? If you’re like most of us, the first couple of weeks …  days … dare I say hours, you were doing pretty well, right?  You were motivated and stuck to the plan, and it seemed like this time you were going to follow through.  But something comes up and you find yourself compromising your New Year’s resolution … what do you do then?  Here’s some practical advice I’ve found to stop you from falling off the deep end and back to your bad habits.

Whenever you set a goal or objective, or in this case, News Year’s Resolution, there will be a time when your resolve and commitment will be tested. When the time comes, and it will come, when you’ve skipped or failed to totally stay committed to your goal, think in these terms.

Lapse – Relapse – Collapse.  Let me explain.

I’ll use the example of the number-one New Year’s resolution, “I’m going to start working out.” Let’s say you’ve committed to working out at least three times a week.

  • For the first three weeks you stand by your commitment and work out three days each week.
  • Then week four comes along and you only have time for two workouts.
  • Then week five, you only have time for one workout, now what? Do you get started again in week six, or just quit?

You don’t have to be discouraged; disappointed, yes, but look at it this way.  In the fourth week you had a Lapse, because you only worked out twice. In week-five you had a Relapse because you only worked out once. Now it’s the moment of truth–how committed are you? Here’s your chance to fight through the temptation of avoiding a Collapse!

Start over, don’t quit! Week six, start working out three times a week again! We all fall into the lapse stages, and sometimes we relapse, but the true measure of your discipline is not to allow yourself to fall into collapse!

Remember, Lapse is okay; we all have them.

Relapse: not good, but you can get back on schedule.

Collapse: this is the test of your personal discipline and leads to the habit of quitting, giving up and throwing in the towel.

Fight through the temptation!

Jan 152014

In 2013 we kicked off the advertising year with a literal lights-out at the Super Bowl. If you remember there was a 34-minute delay because just after half time, the lights went out at the Superdome.

I love watching the Super Bowl, but, I must admit I also look forward to watching the TV commercials as well.  So I’d like to share with you my ten best commercials from 2013.  A couple of them are not from the Super Bowl, and one of them is from Thailand, but I think they’ll be on your list of great commercials.

Okay, if you’ve watched each of these commercials you’ll find a trend of what I like.  Yes, I’m a bit sappy, but it’s more than that. I love when a commercial motivates me and makes me feel good about the simple things in life, and the ability to promote hope. A TV commercial that can bring me to tears has done its job. I could easily write a blog from each of these commercials and talk about what power there is in each message. I cannot rank one of them “the best” because each of them are different in many ways.

I hope you enjoy them, and like me, I’m looking forward to this year’s Super Bowl for two reasons. First, of course, the commercials; second, one of my favorite singers is Bruno Mars, who will be playing at half time. I will not miss that one!

I’ll have very little interest in who’s in the game simply because my Chicago Bears did not make the playoffs.  As a die-hard Cub fan, I also find myself saying the same thing about the Bears … wait until next year!!  The Cubs’ Spring training starts February 27.

Dec 202013

When my son was younger and he wanted to better understand something he would always ask why, never how. Why is the sky blue, why do I have to go to bed so early, why do I have to eat green beans? To kids, asking why comes naturally because they want to know and learn, and because “how” is not as important as “why. ”

When selling your customers, why do you continue to sell the “how,” when you should be focusing on the “why?”

Kids are no different than our customers; the only difference is, our customers won’t tell us why they’re buying from our competitor, only how our competitor matched our price.

  • If you only sell the how, then you cannot differentiate yourself from your competition.
  • If you only sell the how, then you invite your customer to shop you solely on price.
  • If you only sell the how, then you’ll fall into what I call “Me Too Marketing;” by that I mean is that all you’re left to sell is that you can match your competitor’s price.

You must sell the “why!!”

  • You must define what differentiates you from your competition in order to sell the why.
  • You must communicate what differentiates you from your competition in order to sell the why!
  • You must sell what differentiates you from your competition in order to sell the why!

If you don’t sell what differentiates you from your competition (the why), then you leave your customer no choice but for them to shop you on price. You’ve given them no other reason (differentiation) to do business with you other than price. Again, you must sell the “why!!”

Does the Lexus salesman have to match the price of the Chevy? NEVER; Lexus knows how to sell the why. Lexus has done a good job of differentiating themselves from Chevy, Ford, Honda, Nissan, even Audi and BMW. Remember, if price was the reason you lost the business, then, with that logic, the Smart car would be the number-one selling car in the world. Price is third or fourth when it comes to reasons for buying.

Make your New Year’s resolution to define, communicate, manage and sell what differentiates you from your competition. If you don’t have anything that differentiates you from your competition, then you’ll have to create a value-added differentiation system, product or service. Then … sell “why” your customers would benefit from doing business with you!!

Or … keep doing what you’re doing and pray for different results…

Until next time, have a joyful and blessed Christmas, and a safe New Year!!

Nov 152013

Yes, I said that right!  Too often, any time we plan to do something we tend to focus on the “how” we’re going to accomplish it, and pay very little attention to “why” we’re going to accomplish it.  Think about it, when you set a goal what’s the first thing that comes to mind?  For most people it’s the “how” to process, and very little energy on the “why!”  I think anytime you set a goal, you should first focus on the “why,” before you start to plan for the “how!”

Let me explain. Let’s say for example you go to the doctor for you annual physical and during your visit your doctor tells you that your cholesterol is too high, and he thinks you need to lose 40 pounds.  What’s your first thought? Is it why you need to do this or how you’re going to do this?  Most people begin to focus on the how.  They think about changing their eating habits and what gym they’re going to join, but what about why they need to live healthier? Let’s take a different look at how to approaching the goal.

First, you’ve got to come to the reality that you need to change the way you eat and live if you intend on becoming healthier.

Second (and here is where most people make their mistake), they begin to list the HOW they’ll begin to lower their cholesterol and lose 40 pounds. Big mistake!!!  The second step should always be the WHY you’re going to lower your cholesterol and lose 40 pounds.

Here’s the key:

When the why is stronger than the how, the goal is much easier to accomplish.

So let’s make a list of some of the possible why’s:

  • You may have always wanted to run a marathon.
  • You want to live long enough to have kids.
  • You may want to just walk down the aisle to get married.
  • You want to live long enough to see your grand children.
  • You want to live longer than your parents did.
  • You want to live enough to retire and travel.

These are some pretty powerful “why’s.”  Your list is personal and meaningful, but it’s your list and it means a lot to you. So first and foremost have a clear vision of why it’s important, before you even think about how. List every “why” you can think of, and ask the people that mean the most to you the “why” question. Then you can move to the “how” to plan your next step in accomplishing your goal of lowering your cholesterol and losing 40 pounds.

Now, you can begin to think about and plan the “how.”  Ask your doctor for a low-fat, heart-healthy diet. Join a gym and hire a personal trainer-0you probably already know the “how” of this goal.

So how can we use the “why/how” equation in your business? Let’s dive into that next time.