A Day To Remember…Forever

There are those days that you will never forget…buying your 1st car, the first time you had…well you know, your wedding day, the birth of your children, and very select other days.  Personally, I was fortunate enough to experience one of those unforgettable days yesterday thanks to A Safe Haven in Chicago.  A Safe Haven is a foundation that helps people aspire, transform and sustain their lives as they transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency with pride and purpose.Banner ASH

Yesterday, A Safe Haven hosted the nation’s largest 5K run to end homelessness and Chicago’s largest veteran Stand Down.  When I signed up to volunteer for this event last week, I knew that what I was doing was for a great cause.  However, what I did not know was that I would be taking my 12 year old daughter with me to help volunteer, and that would change everything for me.

The Homeless injured vetevent featured approximately 5,000 runners/walkers who were running/walking at 8 am on a Sunday morning to help end homelessness.  Following the run, the event featured approximately 1,000 veterans who were either homeless or in a dire situation causing them to need help.  A Safe Haven provided both a duffel bag and a backpack full of clothes and toiletries, a pair of boots, a hat and a box of deodorant for each and every veteran who attended. My 12 year old daughter and I were assigned to loading the trucks with these items, unloading the trucks, and then delivering the items to the final destination.  We loaded and unloaded trucks for nearly 5 hours straight, and please keep in mind these are pretty heavy bags and backpacks completely filled with items.

IMAG0313I could not believe the way that my daughter handled this entire day.  Please keep in mind that she is 12 years old.  I had her up at 4 am to get to the event by 5:30.  Not only did she not complain, but she completely embraced this entire experience. She was lifting bag after bag after bag and smiling the entire time.  She was working as hard as I have ever seen her work, and she was motivated like I have never seen.  She absolutely LOVED knowing that what she was doing was helping others in the way that it was.  She interacted with the veterans and hand delivered items to them, while she engaged in conversations with them.  It was such a beautiful thing to see! When it was time to go, she did not want to leave at all, and she talked about the experience just about the whole way home during our hour and a half ride.  In the past, my daughter has been involved in buying Christmas gifts for children in need, but this is the first time that she was really actively involved in serving others on this level, and it was an amazing experience.

10534175_10204276816701491_8784133709343577717_nTo be able to serve others for such an incredible cause with your child for the first time is a type of joy and fulfillment that every parent should experience.  To watch your 12 your old daughter, and let’s be real, she is 12.  At that age, in their minds, the world revolves around them.  To see her being so selfless and so giving, and loving every minute of it, and to be able to share that with her, is something I will never forget.  All of us who are physically able need to give more to those who are starving for our help.  The gift of life is about serving others, it is that simple, and we should never forget that.  Let’s start our children knowing this and understanding this at an early age.  Kids’ minds are like silly putty and they can be molded.  It is our jobs as parents to expose them to what is really important in life so that their minds can be molded into caring, loving, giving, selfless people.  Take my word for it from personal experience, by doing so, you will create days that you will remember…forever.

-The Sales Leader

If you would like to learn more about A Safe Haven, please visit www.asafehaven.org. for more information.

The Harsh Reality Is…

The Harsh Reality Is… As salesreality check people, each and every time we lose a sale, it is always our fault!  No, you do not need to have your eyes checked, and yes, you are reading this right.  It is always our fault, and we should never blame our prospects or our customers for lost sales.  I know that this is something that none of us want to hear, and that most of us don’t want to believe, but we must believe it for a couple of different reasons.

First of all, we need to believe this philosophy because it is true.  The majority of the time that we lose sales is due to something we did.  Maybe we were not a chameleon on the sales call and the prospect did not like us.  Maybe we wore an outfit that the prospect was not fond of.  Maybe we did not ask the right questions.  Maybe we missed a key element in our presentation.  Maybe we did not close hard enough.  Maybe we closed too hard.  Maybe we had a piece of broccoli stuck on our teeth from lunch.  Actually, who am I kidding, we are sales people, it was more likely the Big Mac smell left in our mouth that was offensive rather than a piece of broccoli sticking out of our teeth!  LOL.  The point is, there could be any number of reasons why we lost the sale, and that we could have controlled had we done something differently.  We are not perfect, and we make mistakes.  But in order for us to improve as sales people, we must learn from the mistakes.  If we can analyze each sales call and we can find something that we can control that could have possibly changed the outcome, then we have something to learn from and work on.  Then maybe, just maybe we won’t lose another one for the same reasonControl11.

The other reason that we need to believe that lost sales are always our fault is because we need to be in control, rather than giving control to our prospects.  If we can say that it was our fault that we lost the sale, the outcome of the sale ultimately remains within our control.  If we blame the prospect for the sale being lost, we are putting the control in the prospects’ hands, and that is something that we should never do.  If we place the blame on ourselves, we will always feel as if we are in control of each and every sales call and we will feel empowered as we know that we can always control the outcome!

-The Sales Leader

Please feel free to visit http://VelpelAssociates.com or call 224-484-3333 for a complimentary 30 minute sales or leadership analysis today!

Where Are You Putting Your Emphasis?

As a Sales Professional, are you spending more time “selling”, or are you spending more time “inspiring”?  If you are not sure of your answer, there is a simple way to test that question to get your answer.  In any given selling situation, there are four areas that you can place the majority of your emphasis on.  These four areas are:

1.  Yourself.  Do you spend a great deal of time talking about yourself, your qualifications and your abilities?

2.  Your Company.  Do you spend most of your time talking about how great your company is?

3.  Your Product or Service.  Do you spend most of your time “pitching” or “presenting” your products and services?

4.  Your prospect.  Do you spend most of your time talking about your prospect, their wants, their needs and their values?

InspireIf your answer is numbers 1,2 or 3, then you probably spend the majority of your time “Selling”.  If your answer is number 4, then there is a good chance that you spend most of your time “Inspiring”.  In any selling situation, you should be putting your emphasis on your prospect, or your customer.  People don’t want to be sold, that want to be inspired to buy.  If you are putting the majority of your time and emphasis on yourself, your company, and your products or services, you are missing the boat, because you are probably working too hard at “Selling” your prospect.  If you are putting the majority of your time and emphasis on your prospect or customer, then congratulations to you, you are probably “Inspiring” your prospects to buy.

 Yes, you must talk about yourself and your credentials.  You must talk about your company and how your company is capable of handling the business.  You must also talk about your product or service and how you have the best product or service on the market.  However, when you are talking about these things, it should always be in reference to your prospect or client, and how these things will benefit them.  The emphasis of each question you ask and every statement you make should be placed on the prospect.  What it really boils down to is asking a great number of questions and making a great number of benefit statements.  Your entire sales call should be revolved around your prospect, rather than yourself, your company, or your products and services.

not about youI have two exercises that can help you with this.  First, come up with a list of 20 questions that you will ask on each and every sales call.  This will get you talking about your prospect more, and it will get your prospect to open up.  Second, when presenting your own personal credentials, your company credentials, or your product/service, try doing so without using the words I, me, my, we, us, our.  Try not to use these words at all.  This will force you to make your presentation more about your prospect, and you will begin putting your emphasis in the right place!

-The Sales Leader

MLK, Jr.…A True Difference Maker

Today MLK Jris January 20, 2014 and it is a day that we celebrate the life, and the legend of the “GREAT” Martin Luther King, Jr., who really was A True Difference Maker.  What defines a “Difference Maker”?  To me, it is very simple, you look at the key word in the phrase, “Difference”, which comes from the word, “Different”.  To be a “Difference Maker”, you must be “Different”.  The problem that most of us have with being “Different”  is that we do not want to stand out, and we do not want to go against what we believe to be the norm.  One of the most powerful elements of influence in the world today is the Element of Conformity.  As human beings, we want to conform to what is “standard beliefs” or to what is considered to be “socially acceptable”.   MLK Jr. did not give in to this Element of Conformity, as none of the great ones do.

To be great in this world, you must stand out and be different.  You must be swimming upstream when the vast majority is swimming downstream.  When you conform because you want to be like everyone else, and because you fear that you will be viewed as an outcast, where is the greatness in that?  What if MLK, Jr. did not follow his belief system because he was afraid what others would think?  What if Nelson Mandela and Ghandi gave in to social conformity?  What if Abraham Lincoln did not fight for what he believed in?  Where would our country and this world be today?Lincoln Quote

If you asked most people, they would not be content with where they are today, but they do not have the strength and the courage to do anything about it.  Being different and standing out from the rest takes a great deal of courage, strength, persistence and perseverance.  When you go against what the rest of the “normal” world thinks, you will be condemned and ridiculed, you will be laughed at and persecuted.  You will get this type of reaction from 95% of the world.  Now, let me ask you this, how many of these people do you think have achieved greatness?  The answer is, very few.  The other 5% of people will stand behind you and they will support you, and those my friends are the great ones!

Thank you to Martin Luther King Jr., and all the other “GREAT” ones who never gave up on their dreams.  It is people like you who have taught me that all things are possible, that I can do anything, and I should never give up on my dreams!

-The Sales Leader

C’MON MAN!

WC'MON MANho watches ESPN?  Has anyone seen the “C’MON MAN!” segment that the ESPN NFL analysts team puts on during football season?  Basically, the analysts are breaking down plays, and they will break down plays for example, where someone missed their assignment and gave up a big play, or they will break down plays that when you watch them, it just leaves you scratching your head in disbelief.  Then, after showing the play and breaking it down, the analyst will say C’MON MAN!”, meaning like, “what were you thinking” or “you have got to be kidding me”.

Well, I have my own “C’MON MAN!” thought for the day.  Will someone please, please, please hold him/herself accountable and take responsibility for his/her own actions?!  C’MON MAN!!! ” This is something that is one of my major pet peeves.  Time and time again, I hear people say that they will do something, or they will get something done, and then it does not happen.  It has become habitual behavior for many people, that they do not live up to their commitments.  Broken promises and continuous let-downs seem to have become part of our every day life, and that has to change!

Relationships both personally and professionally are built on trust.  If you are not holding yourself accountable and taking responsibility for your own actions by simply doing what you say you will do, how can you ever be trusted?  How can relationships develop, and how can you excel in relationship building?  Both personal and professional growth are heavily dependent on your relationships and your ability to create relationships.  If you constantly let others down by simply not following through on your word, you will have a steep, uphill climb ahead of you in every phase of life.

30 day challenge

I would like to give a challenge to all who are reading this essay.  The challenge is this:  “C’MON MAN!”, for the next 30 days, make a commitment to yourself that you will do EVERYTHING that you say you will do, and stick to it.  If you make a promise, keep it.  If you make a commitment to do something, do it.  If you take on a responsibility, hold yourself accountable.  30 days, that is what I am asking.  The reason I say 30 days is because if you can do it for 30 days, you can do it for a lifetime.

-The Sales Leader

Be The Best

I Les Brownwas at a seminar one time, and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of listening to one of the truly great motivational speakers out there, Les Brown.  At this point and time, I was the Director of Sales for one the largest home improvement companies in the basement waterproofing/foundation repair industry.  We were the 4th largest in our network, which made us probably one of the top 10 or 15 largest in the world doing what we do.  As I was sitting there at this convention listening to Les Brown speak, he asked the question, “Are you the best in the world at what you do?”.  He went on to state that if you were going to do something, and you were going to make a career of it, be the absolute best in the world at it.  Be the best you can be, and be the best there is.  I heard Les say that to me nearly 10 years ago now, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

Over the next two years, I was dedicated to being the best in the world at what I did, and I was able to accomplish just that.  We doubled in sales over the next two years, and we became the largest company in our network, and the largest in the world as far as we could tell.  As a company, we implemented a new sales process, new training programs, and a new sales culture.  We brought in new professionals who were a better fit for our desire to grow, and we groomed them.  We did a complete 180 degree overhaul, turning us into a true “sales machine”.  What I kept hearing during that time was Les Brown’s voice asking me, “Are you the best in the world at what you do?”.  I would not stop until I could say yes, and after a short period of time, I was able to do just that.

We all settle, and we all become complacent.  Why?  Usually out of laziness.  My focus has shifted these days.  Several years ago, my goal was to be the leader of the sales department for the largest basement waterproofing/foundation repair coBest in the worldmpany that existed, and I was able to do it.  Now, my goal is to be the BEST IN THE WORLD at developing “Sales Leaders”.  I want to be the best sales/leadership trainer that this world has to offer.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a great deal of work ahead of me to do to get there, and I will work diligently until I do.  It is a long road ahead, but I have the time, the drive and the desire to get there.  Do you?  What do you want to be the best in the world at, or are you already there?  If not, don’t stop, go get it!  If you are there, stay there, someone is going to try to knock you down!

-The Sales Leader

Supplement Your Weaknesses

Hiring 1When it comes to hiring, more often than not, hiring managers look for people similar to themselves.  They look for people with similar personality traits, similar qualities, similar strengths and similar beliefs.  While yes, as a hiring manager you do want to hire people who share the same ethic and moral standards and beliefs as you.  However, that should really be about the extent of the similarities.  This is a mistake that many hiring managers make.  Whether it is a conscious decision or a subconscious one, often times, hiring managers find talent who matches their own talents to a tee.  There is a very defined psychological reason for this happening.  People like people who are most like themselves.  It is as simple as that.  People hit it off and get along with people who are most like themselves.  So, in an interview setting, the people whose personality, skill sets, etc. closest match that of the interviewer are most often times the ones hired.  When in fact, the exact opposite should be the case.

Every person, including hiring managers have strengths, and they have weaknesses.  All hiring managers make decisions based on a certain perspective, their perspectives.  When you hire people that match your strengths, match your weaknesses and match your perspective, you do not fulfill your needs like you should, and your weaknesses are not supplemented.  When hiring, look for people who have strengths that match your weaknesses, and look for people who may be able to see things from a different perspective than you.  There is no need to fulfill your strengths, you have those strengths inside of  yourself.  You need to fulfill your weaknesses, and yes everyone has them!

Let me give you an example.  Let’s say that you head up a sales department and you are looking to hire a new sales manager to assist you in managing your sales force.  Let’s assume that motivation is one of your strengths, and let’s say that following a process is one of your weaknesses.  When interviewing, you would most likely hit it off great with a motivational type of sales manager, and you would probably want to hire that person because you hit it off so well.  However, you do not need that skill set, you have it in yourself.  However, you then interview someone who is not the greatest of motivators, but he can implement a sales process like nobody’s business.  You may not hit it off as well, but this person has a strength that fulfills one of your weaknesses.  Which person do you think would help your sales team the most?  It would be the one with the sales process as their strength, because you now add a strength to your team that you did not have previously.  hiring 2

This type of hiring takes making a change on a conscious effort.  It is easy to hire people who are similar to you because you will “like” those people better.  However, it is the hiring managers who can discover their weaknesses, and hire to supplement such that will achieve higher levels of success.

-The Sales Leader

12 Days of Christmas – Sales Style

Today is Christmas Eve, and we are all hopefully about to enjoy this 2013/2014 holiday season (some of you probably already are!).  This is a time that we should be thankful for what we have and who we have.  Regardless of your religious beliefs, this season is about being with loved ones and showing your love and appreciation for them.  So, with that said, I hope all of you enjoy the holiday season, and the remainder of 2013!MC

Being a sales/leadership blog, I am introducing to you the song, 12 Days of Christmas – Sales Style!  I wish all of you and your families a safe and happy holiday season!

On the 1st day of Christmas
The sales Gods sent to me:
A Magnetic Personality
 
On the 2nd day of Christmas
The sales Gods sent to me:
2 ears for LISTENING
and A Magnetic Personality
 
On the 3rd day of Christmas
The sales Gods sent to me:
3 Personal Assistants
2 ears for LISTENING
and A Magnetic Personality
 
On the 4th day of Christmas
The sales Gods sent to me:
4 Cell Phones ringing
3 Personal Assistants
2 ears for LISTENING
and A Magnetic Personality
 
On the 5th day of Christmas
The sales Gods sent to me:
5 GOLF DAYS PER WEEK
4 Cell Phones ringing
3 Personal Assistants
2 ears for LISTENING
and A Magnetic Personality
 
On the 6th day of Christmas
The sales Gods sent to me:
6 iPads for playing
5 GOLF DAYS PER WEEK
4 Cell Phones ringing
3 Personal Assistants
2 ears for LISTENING
and A Magnetic Personality
 
On the 7th day of Christmas
The sales Gods sent to me:
7 Books for reading
6 iPads for playing
5 GOLF DAYS PER WEEK
4 Cell Phones ringing
3 Personal Assistants
2 ears for LISTENING
and A Magnetic Personality
 
On the 8th day of Christmas
The sales Gods sent to me:
8 Cups of Coffee
7 Books for reading
6 iPads for playing
5 GOLF DAYS PER WEEK
4 Cell Phones ringing
3 Personal Assistants
2 ears for LISTENING
and A Magnetic Personality’
 
On the 9th day of Christmas
The sales Gods sent to me:
9 Excuses Waiting
8 Cups of Coffee
7 Books for reading
6 iPads for playing
5 GOLF DAYS PER WEEK
4 Cell Phones ringing
3 Personal Assistants
2 ears for LISTENING
and A Magnetic Personality
 
On the 10th day of Christmas
The sales Gods sent to me:
10 Bonus checks
9 Bullet proof Excuses
8 Cups of Coffee
7 Books for reading
6 iPads for playing
5 GOLF DAYS PER WEEK
4 Cell Phones ringing
3 Personal Assistants
2 ears for LISTENING
and A Magnetic Personality
 
On the 11th day of Christmas
The sales Gods sent to me:
11 Brand new customers
10 Big Fat Checks
9 Bullet-proof Excuses
8 Cups of Coffee
7 Books for reading
6 iPads for playing
5 GOLF DAYS PER WEEK
4 Cell Phones ringing
3 Personal Assistants
2 ears for LISTENING
and A Magnetic Personality
 
On the 12th day of Christmas
The sales Gods sent to me:
12 KVA Trainings
11 Brand new customers
10 Big Fat Checks
9 Bullet-proof Excuses
8 Cups of Coffee
7 Books for reading
6 iPads for playing
5 GOLF DAYS PER WEEK
4 Cell Phones ringing
3 Personal Assistants
2 ears for LISTENING
and A Magnetic Personality
 
Merry Christmas!
 
-The Sales Leader
 

The Power of Networking

Anthony RobbiSH menns has often stated “The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships”.  This statement can be very true in both personal and professional settings.  When you evaluate the quality of your personal life, that quality usually boils down to the quantity and quality of the relationships you have.  Your happiness and overall satisfaction with your personal life can often be answered and summed up by a few simple questions.  How many close, personal friends do you have, and what is the status of those relationships?  How are the relationships between you and your family?  How many acquaintances do you have that you enjoy extra-curricular activities with, and what is the status of those relationships?  Are your relationships strong ones or weak ones?  It really is this simple.  If you ever want to know why you or anyone else is overly happy or overly depressed, most of the time you can ask these few questions, and you will have your answer.

The same is true in business.  Very commonly, we can look at the relationships that we have in the business place, and that will more often than not determine our happiness and success in the business world.  The relationships that you have with your superiors, your subordinates, your colleagues and your peers are extremely important to your business health.  To achieve happiness and ultimate success in business, you must have a positive, caring and mutual respectful relationship with your team.  In addition to the relationships with those who are on your team, it is equally important to build strong networking relationships with prospects, clients and potential referrals.  This is something that is missed quite often in business.  People buy from people, and people build business.  Business does not build itself and without people, business will not survive.  Everything we do, everything we sell is about relationship building, and we cannot lose focus of that.  Not only can we not lose focus of that, it needs to be at the forefront of our minds all of the time.  It is people, and your ability to build relationships with people that can ultimately determine your fate!

Knowing and understanding this, I was fortunate enough to be one of the sponsors for an unbelievable networking event a couple of nights ago in one of the greatest cities in the world…Chicago!  Connect-Inspire-Grow put on a truly awesome networking party on the 39th floor of the Wyndham Chicago Grand Riverfront.  The walls of the room were glass from floor to ceiling and we essCIG 2entially had a 360 degree panoramic view of this absolutely beautiful city.  Aside from the view, the event was outstanding.  I have been to many networking events, but none quite like this one.  Everyone was outgoing and friendly, and everyone was looking to connect with others.  I felt like I was part of a very successful team, and everyone was excited to work together for the better good of the team.  I have never been to a networking event where everyone seemed genuinely interested in everyone else, and it was great!  As I stated earlier, your happiness and success can be determined by your relationships, and I say Kudos to the Connect-Inspire-Grow team for understanding this, and creating a culture that focuses on such.  Another wonderful aspect of this evening was the fact that proceeds from the event went towards throwing a surprise Christmas party for homeless moms and children…A Safe Have Foundation.  An evening where you can meet like individuals, who all want to work together to achieve greatness, and doing so while giving back to the community at the same time, a truly wonderful experience!

CIG

I would recommend to anyone and everyone that they get a chance to experience a Connect-Inspire-Grow networking event.  In addition to that, I would recommend that everyone go out networking and build relationships as part of their everyday business practice.  A piece of advice is that when you do go out networking, be confident, be aggressive, be assertive, be friendly and outgoing, and most of all, HAVE FUN!  Relationships have a defining role in molding us to who we are and what we achieve, get out and meet some people, you never know who you will find!

-The Sales Leader

Support Those Who Support You

Jim MoynihanLast night I attended a fund raiser for Jim Moynihan, an acquaintance of mine who is running for Illinois State Representative in the 56th district of Illinois.  The event was filled with many of Jim’s family and friends who were there in support of him as he kicked off his campaign.  While I was there, what really stood out was the amount of support that Jim was getting, and how fortunate he is to have all of these wonderful people in his corner.  It was truly a night of support, selflessness and giving, which was very refreshing.

I believe that as human beings, we all need support from time to time.  There comes at least one time in every person’s life and many times in most peoples’ lives where they will need support from either an individual person or a group of people.  The problem is that often times I see people who are “support suckers”, and they will take and take and take all of the support they can get, but when it comes time to give that support back, they are not as quick to give as they are to receive.  Support is a two-way street and it needs to be treated as such. 

In no way am I saying that you should give support just so you can receive something in return later, and you should not do things for people just so they will do things for you in the future.  That is the wrong approach, and the wrong mindset.  You should do things for people and support people out of the goodness and kindness of your heart, and out of your good will and faith.  However, I will say that you should support those who support you.  As I mentioned before, all of us need support at some point in our life, just make sure to take care of the ones who have been, and who are taking care of you!

– The Sales Leader