By Rick Roberge 

I have a friend that can make any piece of junk look like art. I have tools, but…..

I have an insurance man, a financial adviser, and a doctor. I understand some thing about insurance, money and the way my body works (or doesn’t), but…..

A builder built my house and used an electrician, plumber, etc for their end of the work. I can use a hammer, wire strippers, and a torch, but…..

That’s why, when I read Frank’s post, I thought, “Isn’t it easy to understand?” People can’t do anything that they don’t have the natural talent to do or haven’t taken the time to learn how to do it properly?

The answer to every one of the buts above is that I’m not predisposed to do it myself. In some cases, I don’t have the talent that I need. In others, I don’t want to do what it takes to learn how to do it. (Go to trade school, med school, etc.) Same thing with selling. Some don’t have the Crucial Elements that are necessary to sell well. Others don’t have the incentive to correct the weaknesses that they need to overcome. Some may not want to invest the time or money. Doesn’t matter what the reason is, but if you don’t have what it takes and your livelihood depends on it, do you really want to screw it up?

Let’s tease Frank… Take a look at the url for his blog post. “yes-seliing-is-harder-than-other-jobs”. He hit ‘publish’ before he hit ‘spell check’. Frank is very humble and real and doesn’t mind being teased, but we all know somebody that thinks they can spell. but can’t and won’t use spell check or a proof reader.

How about math? Who do you know that is math challenged or math scared? Have they ever sought help, or did they just give up and say, it’s the way I am?

So, if you don’t sell as well as you should, is it because

You don’t have the crucial elements?

You don’t want to learn?

Or you’re so good at something else that you make enough to hire somebody to sell for you?

Or, is it that you need better leads?

Team Accountability – Your Biggest Asset

By John Lankford


What exactly does team accountability mean? And how does a performance management system factor into this? In a nutshell, they are both critical to your company’s success. If one of these elements is missing, the other can’t succeed.

Employees at every level play an important part in your organization’s goals. A Performance Management System is the glue that binds and guides each employee’s individual performance towards the mission of the company. If leveraged properly, employees will be aligned at every stage of the overall goal.

As a number-one-rated business coach of an internationally acclaimed coaching/consulting company, I draw heavily on my 26-year history that includes three Fortune 500 Companies and dozens of benchmarking trips to well-run companies. Surprising though, it has been my experience that less than 5 percent of today’s business leaders understand and/or use their Performance Management System the way it was designed. Changing this low perception percentage has become a personal goal.

For example, in 2008, I had the opportunity to coach 17 CEOs, all of whom experienced improvements between 39 percent and 640 percent across various measures. These are sizable improvements in the levels of performance that prove a Performance Management System works when used properly. So is it fair to expect results like these in today’s trying economy? In a word, yes…by using the same five key factors that led to my client’s off-the-chart performance and success. And it’s no surprise that one of these key components is accountability. After all, accountability is an integral part of any successful Performance Management System.

So, that brings us to the question of how should a Performance Management System be used? Let’s do it a step at a time, beginning by breaking down a company’s annual cycle into three major sections. These sections provide the framework to gain employee commitment, align them with the company mission, and measure both individual and bottom-line results.

STEP 1: Setting Expectations

Clearly define and communicate the company’s goals for the coming year to employees at every level as follows:

·         The CEO and/or board finalizes the strategic direction and goals for the coming year

·         The CEO communicates the organizational goals to all direct reports

·         The CEO meets one-on-one with all direct reports to reach agreement on their department or division goals and priorities for the coming year

·         The division or department manager meets one-on-one with all direct reports.

·         Each front line manager meets with all direct reports to discuss and finalize their individual goals for the coming year

Note that a commonly made mistake in this step is when the goals are mandated rather than presented in a way to engage employees in dialogue to reach consensus and gain 100 percent commitment. Be aware that compliant head nodding does not translate into true commitment. It is critical to conduct this first series of conversations correctly in order to align every human resource to the annual business goals. If you fail to truly align individuals, teams and divisions substantially, then the company’s ability to hit or exceed performance goals will be dramatically lower.

Far too many organizations are so busy they don’t strategically plan for success, leaving the outcome to pure luck. When it comes to business and life, there’s no such thing as luck. Strategic planning that incorporates accountability is one of the main criteria for becoming anEmployer of Choice.

STEP 2: Coaching and Feedback

Leaders must be competent at all levels and have the ability to provide effective coaching and feedback to their direct reports in a timely manner. This one ability has a huge impact on the effectiveness of every employee. One tool used to assist managers is conducting a mid-year review after six months where employees discuss how their first-half performance measures up to the agreement made at the beginning of the year. Same principle as the mid-term report cards we all got when we were in school.

STEP 3: Year-End Review

Let’s face it. Managers dread giving year-end reviews. Employees hate receiving them. After gathering input from more than 50,000 employees over a 29-year period, the number one reason for this attitude came clear — too often employees are broadsided by surprise feedback. The good news is that this anxiety can and should be avoided with regular coaching and feedback during the ten month period between January and December.

Once all year-end conversations and performance reviews are completed, it’s critical that each team or division’s actual performance mirrors the individual team member’s collective ratings. In other words, the sum of the parts must equal the whole. Keeping the Performance Management System simple makes it much more likely to be used effectively. Implementing a Performance Management System that really works not only contributes to long-term viability and profitability, but also impacts a company’s ability to thrive in any economy.

John Lankford is Master Business Coach of Premier Development Solutions. He can be reached at or             (734) 454-5667      .



Question Reluctance Sabotages Sales

by Marilee G. Adams, Ph.D.*

Most sales professionals are familiar with Call Reluctance, the anxiety-inducing dread of picking up the phone. Question Reluctance is equally prevalent among salespeople, yet its rarely discussed or addressed. Question Reluctance- avoiding asking necessary questions- sabotages results equally as much as its more familiar cousin, Call Reluctance.

Do you exhibit signs of Question Reluctance?

Most salespeople suffer from some degree of Question Reluctance. Classic symptoms of Question Reluctance include avoiding asking a question altogether, waiting until the end of a sales call to finally ask what you truly need to know, framing questions so indirectly that prospects get confused, and failing to ask clarifying follow-up questions to ensure that you and the prospects are ‘on the same page’. Its natural to feel anxious and to avoid asking questions, when we desperately want to hear Yes, but fear hearing No.

Many participants in sales courses say theyre afraid to ask questions because it feels like theyre being rude or even interrogating prospective customers. Some associate Questioning with painful childhood experiences, when they felt interrogated. For them, questioning prospects conjures up uncomfortable images of past “inquisitions”.

While Question Reluctance is a common experience, salespeople often suffer from it more than others. Salespeople are aware of the negative perceptions and suspicion of them in the marketplace. Also, since most sales systems are designed to ask manipulative questions, questioning naturally creates resistance and discomfort in both Salespeople and Prospects.

How can you overcome Question Reluctance?

Questioning is essential to the sales process, regardless of the sales process or “selling techniques” you implement. In High Probability Selling, asking questions is part of a structured, linear process, and fundamental to sales success. Asking questions is unavoidable: Learning to ask questions with ease and confidence has a marked, positive impact on Results.

You may not realize it, but you ask yourself questions all the time- about yourself and other people. I refer to this as QuestionThinking. Some of our internal questions cause Question Reluctance, and others help cure it.

Problem-causing questions lead to Question Reluctance:

  • Why dont they hurry up and just say Yes?
  • Will I get fired if I dont make my numbers?
  • How am I going to mess this up?

Helpful questions facilitate real communication and more sales:

  • Am I truly listening?
  • What do they really want?
  • How can I be of service?
  • “What will be a win-win?

When you ask yourself and your prospects Helpful Questions, Questioning is a tool to sales success.

Better Questioning Leads to More Successful Selling

Every phase of the sales process requires asking many questions. Being comfortable and expert with asking questions helps you keep your foot on the gas all the way to your destination- The Close.

Question reluctance is like having one foot on the brake pedal while the other is on the gas. Remove one foot and you can stop or go at your discretion.

Asking yourself and others empowering questions can make a positive difference everywhere in your life. Is that what you want?

*Marilee Adams, Ph.D. is founder and president of The Inquiry Institute, a training, consulting, and coaching firm that works with Fortune 100 companies, mid size companies, and other organizations. Adams is the author of Change Your Questions, Change Your Life and The Art of the Question. Her workshops on Expert Selling with Expert Questions consistently win accolades and receive attention in national newspapers, television and radio.