Networking Tip: Make ‘Em Feel Valued

By Danny Rubin

A couple of friends asked me recently for help crafting introductory, networking emails as part of their job search. They were looking to write to people they either didn’t know or with whom they had only a loose, one-off connection.

Both of my friends had the same uneasy tone: “Eh, I don’t know if I should write them. Isn’t it kind of random? Wouldn’t I be bothering them? I don’t know…”

I cut them off mid-worry. It’s not only perfectly fine, but a good idea to occasionally reach out to strangers in the business community. Making new friends in this surreptitious way takes a bit of strategy, but it always begins with one indisputable fact:

Most people like being asked for their advice or opinion.

Being treated as an expert or someone “on the inside” with networking powers makes people feel really freakin’ awesome about themselves. But some of those people — OK, most of them — have important jobs with hectic schedules. They want to impart all they know, but they have to do it on their time.

Let’s say you’re after a job at an accounting firm, and you have a friend who’s friends with a vice president at the company. Here’s one way to frame your email (it’s fictitious, by the way):

Hi Sheryl,

My name is Danny Rubin, and I’m Don Baxter’s friend. I just graduated from Big State U with a degree in business, and I’m starting my search for a job in the accounting world. I focused my studies in auditing, and I see that’s a large part of what Thompson & Company does.

I am curious if you have a few minutes to talk with me either by phone or in person. It would be great to learn more about Thompson &Company and also get a sense of other CPA firms here in town.

I’m happy to work around your schedule. If you’re willing, please let me know a day and time that works for you.

Also, I am attaching my resume to this e-mail.

Thanks in advance.

Nothing fancy. Nothing flashy. I got right down to business, but in a polite, appropriate way. I also made sure to attach my resume (no harm in that) and tell Sheryl I can meet when it works for her.

Here’s the post important piece: I’m not asking Sheryl to hire me. I’m asking to meet her. If a job opportunity arises from our conversation, great. But my initial goal is to make a new connection that could open doors for me.


What are the possible outcomes to my e-mail?

1. Sheryl never responds. My rule of thumb is to wait two full business days and then try again. If you still haven’t gotten a reply, let it go.

2. She writes back and says she’s happy to do a quick phone call. Research the firm, do a little LinkedIn digging and have some questions ready about the company and industry.

3. She agrees to meet in person, whether over lunch or at her office. Awesome. Do everything stated in #2. Then shower, brush your teeth and wear something nice.

It’s rare that a person — no matter how busy or self-important — won’t find time to sit down with a 20-something and share their knowledge. Nearly everyone loves being asked to talk about their background, expertise or connections, especially in their niche field.

We love feeling valued. It’s a defining human characteristic, and one you should leverage in the pursuit of your next great job.

Danny Rubin is a member of the Brazen Contributor Network.

Man or Mouse? The Five Defining Moments in Your Sales Process

by Bill Caskey


1. The First Conversation. This is the time when “orientation” gets set. What that means is the prospect begins to get a feel for how you’re oriented. Are you there to sell? Are you there to beg? Or, better, are you there to question and explore? Hopefully, the latter.


2. Finding the Problem. There is a moment in the sales process where the way is paved for you to ask questions to find customer problems. And yet few of us do. We’re too buy talking about our company – value-people-etc., stuff that might be important to you, but isn’t for your prospect. This moment defines what you’re there to do (in the prospect’s eyes).


3. Talking Money. Your solution costs money. There are logical times in the sales process to talk money. Your comfort in doing so makes the sales process sail. If you’re afraid of bringing it up, you’re sunk.

4. Involving Others. In business to business selling, there will be more than one person who makes/weighs in on the decision. There is a moment in the process where you must involve others. Maybe the first step is to ask the simple question: “Who else cares about solving this problem?”


5. Getting a Decision. There is a moment that you should lay the ground work for the decision. You aren’t asking for a YES. But you should always be planning the moment where either you tell the prospect NO or they tell you NO. Either way is OK. But don’t miss the moment.

6 Tips for Salespeople to Stay on the Road to Success

 BY JOHN AT GOSELLGO

As salespeople, we are always looking for ways to stay motivated and gain an edge. It seems there are certain fundamental truths common to all selling champions.  Here are six tips to help all of us who are sales professionals stay on the road to success in business and in life.

Stay the Course with Personal Development

Personal development is an ongoing process and needs to be worked on consistently, everyday no matter how much success we’ve had in the past.

If our goal is to reach the top in selling we need to study sales.  Read books on sales.  Write down selling ideas and then practice what we learn.  Find out what works and what doesn’t so we can change and improve our approach.

While each of us develops our own unique selling style, it’s useful to learn new techniques from sales experts by reading, attending seminars and then making their ideas our own.

As we learn and improve, our confidence will increase and we’ll become more effective at selling.

Be Your Own Best Salesperson

How do we become the best salesperson we’re capable of becoming?  One of the mistakes I’ve made in the past is to compare myself to other salespeople.  Maybe this has happened to you.  Sometimes we forget that everyone comes from different backgrounds, circumstances and life experiences.

Successful people in sales make it look easy.  What we see are the results of a lot of hard work, perseverance and dedication on their part.  We need to focus on our own journey, our own self-improvement and forget about comparing ourselves to others.


Break Your Own Goals, Not Others Goals

Ask yourself the question, “Am I the best that I can be?”  If the answer is no then go to work on improving your situation.  Set goals based on your own personal records.  For example, think of what you would have to do to double your sales.

Then write down as many ideas as possible and make an action plan.  If we do this every day, we will become successful.

Earl Nightingale defined success as “the progressive realization of a worthy goal”.  By that definition, if you’re working on making yourself better today and everyday you are a success.

Read Books to Improve Yourself and Increase Your Sales

Reading books from a variety of authors has really helped me in my quest for self-improvement.  In the morning after breakfast I sit down in my office or in a quiet place when I’m on the road and read motivational material.  Try reading books from people like Jeffrey Gitomer, Earl Nightingale, John C. Maxwell, Darren Hardy and anyone else who writes positive information.


Replace Bad News with Good News

In the morning limit your newspaper reading to the business section.  Scan the headlines to get a feel for what’s happening, however, don’t read about all the negativity in the newspaper.  Don’t start the day on a downer.  Make a conscious decision to skip the bad news sections of the newspaper.  Replace bad news with good news by reading positive messages in the morning.  It starts the day off on a positive note and gets the day moving in the right direction.


Focus on What Matters

After reading positive, motivational messages, review your goals.  Next, write down tasks in your day planner that will help you accomplish your goals.  If you’re like me there are so many goals on the list you need to take time to prioritize. So write down the top six or seven tasks each day and list them in order of priority.

It’s too overwhelming to consider all your goals at one time.  Consider what goals are most important to you at the time and assign yourself tasks to get moving in the right direction of your most pressing goals.

Review your goals each and every morning.  Keep your goal list within easy reach.  Don’t file them away or you’ll forget about them and then at the end of the year wonder why you didn’t reach your personal and sales goals.


Conclusion

As salespeople, it’s easy for us to get lost in the details of our day-to-day tasks.  We need to look more long-term at the big picture on our path of personal development and to recognize it’s a personal journey. We are unique and should focus on making ourselves the best we can be and not be concerned about how we compare with others.

Personal development has a lot to do with our attitude.  Let’s keep bad news to a minimum and only be concerned about the things within our control.  One thing we can control is the information we put in our minds.  So let’s commit to spending more time reading positive messages through books from expert authors and less on the newspaper.  And finally, let’s spend more time in the morning thinking about our goals and how to reach them.

Follow these tips to stay on your own road to success.  You’ll be glad you did and at the end of the year marvel at how much you accomplished.

If You Like Baseball and Love Sales Management, Go See “Moneyball”

By Gerhard Gschwandtner

Selling Power 

This is the story of Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane, who meets an Ivy League econ grad, Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill), who views players through the lens of analytics and statistical probabilities. Beane (played by Brad Pitt) always loses his best players to big-money clubs and needs to find a new way to win. Following a hunch, he hires nerdy Peter Brand, and the pair begin to change the way the club drafts and plays. The two establish a culture of measurement and make hiring decisions based on science and probabilities, which upsets scouts and greatly irritates the Oakland A’s coach. The dramatic tension increases as the newly assembled team loses game after game. Beane and Brand hang tough, although Beane is carrying the seeds of doubt from his own can’t-miss-but-did career as a major baseball player.

As is the case with statistics and probabilities, over time, the bet pays off, and the Oakland A’s see a record-breaking streak of 20 winning games in a row.

Moneyball is about the fundamental cultural shift from picking players based on hunches to looking at the game in a more rational and objective way, measuring each player’s performance and displaying the results in the forms of percentages, graphs, and comparison charts. In essence, the shift from Baseball 1.0 to Baseball 2.0 allowed Billy Beane to see greater value in the underappreciated or ignored players that the old scouts considered washed out or destined for the minors. The movie has a great scene in which the good old boys chew the fat, commenting on the assets and liabilities of their draft prospects, focusing on age, injuries, and gossip trivia, such as, “If a player has an ugly girlfriend, it means he doesn’t have much confidence.”

I can easily see Brad Pitt in the role of a sales manager who has lost three of his top producers to the competition. It is not a big stretch to imagine Peter Brand as the new sales operations manager who teaches his boss how to match salespeople’s talents to their specific job requirements. The sales operations manager is the science nerd who knows which tools can fix the sales manager’s problems.

Once the sales manager shifts the focus from chasing superstars to creating a Sales 2.0 organization that aligns people, process, and technology, the outcome can be as spectacular as the Oakland A’s record-breaking winning streak.

If you are looking to hire salespeople based on science, take a look at www.calipercorp.com or www.hrchally.com. If you want to explore predictive analytics, test-drive www.lattice-engines.com or www.cloud9.com. If you want to model your sales-compensation plan and predict results, check out www.xactlycorp.com or www.callidussoftware.com. If you want to take a closer look at 30 of the most valuable and profitable Sales and Marketing 2.0 tools available on the market today, visit www.sales20conf.com/sm2011 and attend our conference. (Full disclosure: I am hosting this event.)

The actionable insight I walked away with after seeing Moneyball: Success doesn’t wait for those who act only when they “have a hunch.”

RIP Steve Jobs…(February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)

Love this quote from him…

-Kathleen

CEO/Founder

Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

11 Things You Should Never Say When You Fire an Employee

By Jeff Haden – BNET.com

Plenty of articles focus on making the firing process as easy as possible for a boss who has to terminate an employee.

This is not that type of article.

When you fire an employee, you only have two goals:


1.Treat the employee as respectfully and humanely as possible, and

2. Protect your business from a legal aspect

Your feelings, while very real — believe me, I know — are basically irrelevant, even though the second-worst task a boss has to perform is firing an employee. The worst task? Laying off a great employee. Firing a sub-standard employee means they “failed” you; laying off a great employee due to lack of work or poor company results means you failed them.

For the boss, firing someone is hard. But for the employee, being fired is financially and emotionally devastating. So let’s make sure you don’t make a bad situation worse by saying:

  1. “This is really hard for me…” Who cares. The employee doesn’t. Firing employees is part of the gig. Any time you talk about how difficult the situation is for you the employee thinks, “Oh yeah? What about me? How hard do you think this is on me?” If you feel bad — and you will — talk it over later with someone else.
  2. “We’ve decided to go in a different direction.” You’re not an NFL team firing its coach. You’re not holding a press conference. Save the platitudes, since the last thing you want to do is leave the employee wondering. Besides, if you’ve done your job right the employee already knows why he’s being fired. Either state the reason for your decision as clearly and succinctly as possible or just say, “John, I have to let you go.”
  3. “I’ll have to get with HR to figure out…” Firing is both an ending and the start of another process for the employee: Returning company property, collecting personal items, determining what happens with benefits, etc. It’s your job to know how all that works ahead of time. Getting fired is bad enough; sitting in limbo while you figure out the next steps is humiliating for an employee who wants nothing more than to leave so they can cling to whatever dignity remains. Know your stuff and never make an employee wait to meet with others who are part of the process. Remember, now the employee is on their time, not yours.
  4. “Compared to Mike, you just aren’t cutting it.” Never compare employees when you fire an individual (or just in general.) The cause is a failure to meet standards or targets or behavioral expectations. Plus, drawing comparisons between employees makes it possible for what should be an objective decision to veer into the personality zone, a conversational black hole you’ll find incredibly difficult to escape.
  5. “I disagree with you, and here’s why…” Some employees plead, most are quiet, and a few argue. Never let yourself be dragged into a back-and-forth discussion. Just say, “John, I’ll be happy to talk about this as long as you like, but you should understand that nothing we discuss will change the decision.” Arguing or even “discussing” almost always makes the employee feel worse and could open you up to potential legal issues. Be professional, be empathetic, and stick to the facts. And don’t feel the need to respond if an employee starts to vent. Just listen — that’s both the least and the most you can do.
  6. “Fine — if it makes you feel better, I’ll go get my boss.” Occasionally an employee will want to discuss things with someone above you. Never open that door. Firing is final — allowing the employee to think “hope” still remains will only make them feel worse when all their “options” have been exhausted.
  7. “You’re a good employee… but we have to cut staffing.” If you’re downsizing, leave performance out and just say so. But what if you’re not actually downsizing and you’re hiding behind an excuse so the  conversation is easier for you? Then you do the employee a disservice — and you open your business up to potential problems, especially if you later hire someone to fill the open slot. Don’t try to protect the employee’s feelings — or your own. Just be straightforward.
  8. “I know you weren’t happy here; hey, you know… this could work out for the best in the long run.” Possibly so — but it’s not your place to judge. For the employee there is no silver lining to be found in the “You’re fired” cloud, at least not at first. Let the employee find their own glimmers of possibility.
  9. “I need to walk you to the door.” At a past job company policy was to immediately walk the terminated employee to the door. (And then to let the security guard know they were no longer allowed in the facility.) I hated doing it. A fired employee is not a criminal, so don’t put them through the fired walk of shame. To keep a terminated employee from hanging around all day, set simple parameters. Say, “John, go ahead and gather up your personal belongings and I’ll meet you back here in 10 minutes.” Then, if John doesn’t come back, go get him. He’ll know why and won’t argue.
  10. “We.” The word “we” is appropriate in almost every setting… but not this one. If you are the person firing an employee, man- or lady-up and say, “I.”  Why? At this moment you are the company. Don’t be tempted to make it seem like you’re just carrying out orders, even if that’s the case. Take responsibility.
  11. “If there is anything I can do for you, just let me know.” Like what? Write a glowing letter of recommendation? Call your connections and put in a good word for him? You should say, “If you have any questions about benefits, final paychecks, or other details, call me. I’ll make sure you get the answers you need.” But you shouldn’t offer to do things you can’t do. You might feel a little better because you made an offer, but the employee won’t. Remember, when you fire an employee it’s all about the employee — not about you, and especially not about what makes you feel better.