Times Are Changing…..Are You???

WhZack cello loves the old days?  What are the old days?  To some of us, the old days are the days of the Depression era and WWII.  To others it may be when Elvis and the Beatles burst onto the scene, or maybe it was when Michael and the Bulls were winning their 6 championships.  I know I remember what I would call the olds days.  To me, I would consider the old days to be as soon as 20 years ago when there were big, bulky cell phones like “Zack” carried on “Saved By The Bell“, or like “The Fresh Prince” had in his “Parents Just Don’t Understand” video.   Side note:  I miss Tiffany Amber Thiessen by the way!  Where is she now?  Anyway, back to my point.  As  Kathy Troccoli sang, “Everything Changes“.

fanny packIt is so true, everything does change, and often times those changes are very dramatic.  Look at the cell phones that I mentioned previously.  Back in the day, the were used for calling purposes only, and to carry them around, you needed a backpack or a suitcase.  They were so large they would not even fit in the fanny pack that my friend, Tim used to wear!  Sorry Tim! LOL  Now look at them, we use them as telephones, computers, cameras, TVs, video games, radios, etc.  The way we use cell phones has changed in a very big way in the last 20 years.  Speaking of video games, let’s take a look at those.  Remember Atari and the games “Pong” and “Space Invaders“.  Now we are playing Wii and Xbox.  How different are video games today?  The difference is actually mind blowing.  Changes and improvements are happening everywhere, are you going through a similar process?

time for changeWe cannot operate in sales and in business the same way that we did 5, 10,20 or 50 years ago.  Things change and people change.  To be successful, you must be able to adapt and keep up with the changing times.  Just take a look at us as people in general, we do not purchase the same way we used to.  With the internet, and all of the information and research available to us, we are much more informed and intelligent buyers today.  Because of this, we cannot sell the same way we did in the past.  People as employees have changed.  It used to be that employees would pride themselves on longevity at their place of work.  Now it is about how much am I making, am I being valued, and will I be paid more and be viewed as more valuable someplace else.  Because of this, we must lead and manage in a different way than we have in the past.

podcastAs “Leaders“, we must at least be keeping up with curve, if not staying ahead of the curve.  I will give you an example.  I just found out today that for every 3,500 blogs that are being written out there, there is only 1 podcast being released.  5-10 years ago, blogging was something of the future, and now it won’t be long until it is something of the past.  I realized today that for me to keep up or move ahead, I better start releasing podcasts.  This is something that I have never done, but to keep up with the changing times, I need to start.

The world is changing, times are changing, people are changing.  I would heavily suggest that we all embrace that concept rather than fight it, or it will be us who will be something of the past!

-The Sales Leader

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Control What You Can Control

I wControlas listening to ESPN radio this morning, and I heard a quote that was spot on. I just caught the end of the conversation, and I am not sure who was talking and who I am quoting, but I do know it was a football player. He said “Control what you can control and don’t worry about what you can’t control”. What he was referring to was the upcoming Superbowl that is being played in “Don’t call me New York”, New Jersey. Everyone keeps talking about the weather and how the weather can affect the players, and his point was that they players cannot control the weather, so they should not worry about it? They should focus on the things that they can control.

I know, I know, all of you top tier professionals would be telling me that I should be listening to something that can provide me with more intellectual growth than ESPN, and most days you would be right, but at least for today, I can argue that point! LOL Anyone listening to ESPN this morning, would have been able to take away a great learning moment. Even though in this particular situation, the football player was referring to football, we can easily translate that to our everyday life, both professionally and personally.

It ladder manis human nature that we worry, and that is not going to change. However, we can control what we worry about, and we should not worry about the things that are out of our control. For example, many sales people worry about what the competition is doing far too much. We cannot control what the competition does, so why do we worry about it? We need to spend our time and energy focusing on the things that we can control…ourselves and our actions. Worrying about things that we have no control over are not going to make us better, because we can’t do anything about it. What we can do something about is ourselves and our actions, and that is where our focus should be!

-The Sales Leader

Parenthood, The Greatest Joy on Earth!

I feel so lucky and so blessed to have the children that I do, and I have to tell you, I LOVE MY KIDS!!!  I have an 11 year old daughter and a son who will be turning 8 next week.  We have two parties scheduled for my son, a family party and a friend party.  His family party is at our house this weekend, and his kid party is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party next weekend at a Karate/Martial Arts facility.  I have to tell you, I am so excited for my son as I get excited every year, twice a year for each child’s birthday.  To watch them celebrate, open gifts and be so excited, that is what makes me so excited!

Me and My Kids

Me and My Kids

I attribute this excitement to my kids and my relationship with them.  I am fortunate enough to be in a situation where I can spend a great deal of time with my kids, and with their desire to be around me as much as I desire to be around them, I take advantage of that.  When my daughter was in swimming, I was an announcer at her meets.  I have coached my son’s soccer and basketball teams.  I take Karate with my kids just about every Thursday night.  We vacation together multiple times per year.  I volunteer at my kids’ schools.  I have attended almost every event, concert, recital, game, parent-teacher conference, parent night, etc. that our kids have ever had.  Now, I must say that I am blessed with a loving and caring wife who shares the same desire as I do to be such a large part of our kids’ lives, and we could not do it without each other.  I apologize if it sounds like I am boasting.  That is not the point of this.  The point is that, as you hear from just about every parent that has ever existed, your children are not young forever and their desire to be around their parents diminishes as time goes on.  I know that the years that our children will WANT us around this much are limited, and our time is slowly running out.

Velpel Family at Disney

Our children need our love, our guidance and our support when they are at this young impressionable age.  The quantity and quality of time that we spend with our children will leave a lasting impression on them, and on us as parents.  This time of life helps mold who we are, and who we will be in the future.  I want my children to remember me as a father who was there for them and made time for them, because quite honestly to me, parenthood is the greatest joy on earth!

-The Sales Leader

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