Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Selling is NOT a 4-Letter Word

Having spent twenty-five years selling I learned to embrace the word sell a long time ago. I've called it an art, a skill, and a game. To me selling is really the telling of a story with the intent to persuade someone to do something.  Our economy and our livelihoods depend on selling.Without selling there is no buying and therefore no exchange of money.

Which is why I find it surprising in my post corporate life the reaction I get from non-professional salespeople when you suggest they need to sell. They react as if I have just uttered a 4-letter word. 

Entrepreneurs who have brilliant ideas, are starting new ventures, and are full of passion and enthusiasm become terrified when they hear the word 'sell'. Writers who say they want to write but live in denial that in today's day and age the responsibility for their books getting sold rests with them. And then there are the people re-entering the job market or looking for their next position. When I suggest they need to prepare to sell themselves to their prospective employer they cringe. A look of panic washes over their face. Some  physically recoil or break out in a sweat. They see it as sleazy or manipulative. Something they don't want to do, maybe even something they think they don't have to do.

We all sell.
Even when I explain that we all sell, every day whether or not we are aware of it they tell me they think selling is sleazy and manipulative and not fitting with their character. They think Herb Tarlek from WKRP in Cincinnati. Use the word marketing and they rest a bit. Now they're thinking Don Draper in Mad Men. That sounds sexier to them. But the truth is marketing and selling are all intertwined. 

Can it be taught?
They will argue as many will that selling cannot be taught. That it is an inherent attribute. You either know how to sell or you don't. You either have a talent for it or not. 

To a degree they're right. Being a really good salesperson is being a really good storyteller and requires a gift. And just as some are more predisposed to having a killer tennis serve or playing Beethoven's Fifth, some are more so to selling.

But that doesn't mean you can't learn how. People who play tennis are not limited to those who make it to the US Open nor are piano players limited to those who play at Carnegie Hall.

Selling is NOT a 4-Letter Word
If you have ever persuaded someone to do something or ever gotten someone excited about something you have sold them. There is nothing revolting about that. In fact it can be a lot of fun !

We all sell. Everyday. We sell our products, our services, ourselves. Which is why in today's noisy environment it is more important than ever to understand how to take the basic tenets of sales, apply them to our 24/7 social media crazed world and still be authentic.   

That was the reason behind designing my four week webinar. And it is why I think that if you want to be a success today you have start by learning that selling is NOT a 4-letter word.

Do you think selling can be taught?
Does the word sell make you cringe?
Do you believe selling is more an art or a game?

My next Selling is Not a 4-Letter Word, The Basics starts April 20. For more information or to register click here!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Walgreening of Duane Reade

Anyone who has ever traveled to South Beach with me knows of my fascination with the Walgreen's on Lincoln Road. No matter what hotel I am staying at I feel the need to stop in Walgreen's at least once if not twice a day. Sometimes it is with purpose and sometimes just to wander the aisles for a few minutes before calling it a night. I am fascinated not only with the diverse clientele, but with the array of items you can purchase, beach hats, cookies, bananas  and flip flops, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

OK, so maybe it sounds a little crazy, but I've always considered that particular Walgreen's to be part of the tourist attraction of Ocean Drive.

Anyway given my thing for Walgreen's on Lincoln Road, you would think I would be happy they now own Duane Reade. You would think I would be happier still that they are in the process of renovating my most visited Duane Reade to resemble Walgreen's. But I'm not.

At first I thought it was because every time I've walked in there in the last few weeks they have rearranged the furniture. Trust me.  I am not exaggerating. No one seems to be able to make up their mind where everything is going.

I thought  I was just annoyed  because finding a box of Kleenex became a scavenger  hunt that even the workers had trouble solving for me.

But now I know it's something different. It may still (very smartly I might add) say Duane Reade outside, but it's not anymore. Maybe it's a little too clean, a little too bright. Maybe it's a little too organized. Or maybe it just looks a little too suburban Midwest to be sitting on Broadway.

It doesn't even resemble my favorite one on Lincoln Road. And even if it did, I don't want to be able to buy a pair of cheap earrings in Duane Reade much less a pair of socks. This is Manhattan. You don't  go to Duane Reade to buy earrings or socks when you live in New York!  It's a drugstore. Or it was. But then that's what Walgreen's started out as too.

I understand the brand new one on 72nd and Broadway above Trader Joe's now sells beer.  You would think there would be a law against selling prescription drugs and beer under the same roof. They must get around it by requiring you bring your own growler for the beer.  My guess is if you've forgotten yours they can be found sold  separately somewhere else in the store. Maybe near the Kleenex so you can have them handy if after a few sips of beer you decide to start crying over all this change.

I know you're reading this and thinking, isn't this the woman who likes change, whose coaching practice specializes in change?  Is this her complaining about a change? The answer is yes, but I am also  a New Yorker, and as much as we like change, we are creatures of habit in other areas, especially when it comes to our neighborhood conveniences.

Now if in the process of Walgreening the Duane Reade they want to bring some change no one will complain about, they might want to start with the price of a roll of toilet paper. I checked yesterday and that was still at the Duane Reade price of $1.49 a roll.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Bird Sisters

If you're not familiar with Goodreads and you like to read I suggest you sign yourself up. Goodreads is a social network for readers with a mission  "to get people excited about reading." Members recommend books, compare what they're reading, form book clubs and occasionally get lucky like me and win an advance copy of a new book to read which they hope you'll take the time to review.

Which is how I came to read The Bird Sisters. It's the first of what I would guess to be many novels by Rebecca Rasmussen. Have I mentioned how I love reading first novels? Especially in this day and age when publishing houses take so few chances on new writers. It inspires me.

Crown was smart to choose this one. Rebecca is a wonderful writer whose prose set a time and pace that reaches all of your senses. It's one of those stories that you feel physically wrapped in, of two sisters and the events of one summer that led them to grow old together in their childhood home. It is an engaging story about life and the choices we make and one I recommend reading, not without warning you that I found a sadness to it I couldn't quite shake. So I would advise if you are looking for an uplifting, fun read this is not your book.

I''m thankful Goodreads gave me the opportunity to receive my copy. Without them I would have missed two lessons.

The first is how important a book cover is. I've been thinking about that alot lately as I plan my own. The cover  can compel someone to open the book up or pass it by, even on line. I didn't like the cover nor did I like the name Twiss, the younger of The Bird Sisters. So chances are I would not have picked this up and taken it home with me. Which brings me to my second lesson. Say yes to what you might ordinarily not. You just never know what you will find. In this case I discovered a brilliant new novelist whose stories I will now seek out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Confession

It wasn't something I was planning on. I had resolved myself that I was done, in fact publicly admitting that I was over it on this very blog. But I knew I might be tempted. From the moment the previews featured her, a real star chosen as part of the cast I knew I could  be broken from my resolve.

She was after all Kirstie Alley. She was funny, she was a celebrity in the traditional sense, she was hardly athletic and she was a woman well over the age of fifty.

But I still didn't seek it out. I just turned on the television last night, ready to head over to Showtime on Demand and watch Sunday's episode of Californication and there it was. Dancing with the Stars. About forty minutes in.  I thought I'd watch for just a few minutes, to see if she had danced yet but she hadn't. So I kept watching. I told myself it would just be until Kirstie performed, then I would change the channel. They must have known because they saved her for last, an hour and twenty minutes after I had first tuned in.

I'd forgotten how addictive the show can be.  Once you start watching, its hard to stop. And now there is Kirstie. Real star entertainment.

I haven't set my DVR yet. It's too soon to tell. I'm thinking maybe I'll watch as long as Kirstie lasts. But if last night's performance was any indication, that could be most of the season. She had the second highest score of the evening, totally rocking, owning her beauty and dancing like the star she is!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pleasurable Birthing

Having never had children the process of a nine month gestation and physical birthing is not something I have personal knowledge of. Yet I have always used the broad stroke of analogy that when in the throes of creation, whether it is a story, a novel,  a business or a romance you are in essence giving birth. So I shouldn't be as struck by the parity as I am each time my client Sheila Kamara Hay, founder of Ecstatic-Birth, shares a snippet of information about the physical birthing process. 

The other day as she was describing the course content of her newest telesummit, The Body, she explained that one of the hardest things to adjust to in pregnancy was the flood of new life energy circulating within you.  

Made sense to me. Whenever I have embarked on something new I am engulfed with the energy of possibility. An energy that can  propel me forward as easily as it can make me stop to take a break and catch my breath.

Sheila explained that for a pregnant women the key to a pleasurable birth process is by learning how to work with that energy, to breathe with it and through it. Now I am sure there are many of you reading this  who think the idea of giving birth pleasurably impossible if not ridiculous. That's what happens with anything that is contrary to conventional thought  like Ecstatic-Birth. It's controversial. 

But I'm also sure that you are the same folks who might prescribe to the no gain without pain philosophy no matter what it applied to. That group that believes that if we want to change something or create something new it  must include nothing but hard work, long hours and a lot of sacrifice. The idea of fun, much less pleasure is impossible to imagine inserting into the equation.

I can't tell you from first hand experience that giving physical birth can be pleasurable, but as a student of Regena Thomashauer who happens to be on Sheila's roster of teachers, I believe that pleasure is an approach that can be applied to any aspect of your life. And birthing, whether actual childbirth or writing a novel is not exempt.

If you think about it when in the midst of building a business something new is bubbling inside of you. While not a physical being, it is percolating nonetheless. It needs nourishment, it needs special care, not just to the project, but to you as the one with the vision. And it gets damn uncomfortable at times. Sometimes it is so exhausting that like a pregnant mom you have to go lay on the couch in the middle of the day and take a nap.

Yet we resist self care when it is a thing we are creating and not a human. We get very serious and forget to laugh. We say we need to write one more page first. We deny ourselves food until we make three more phone calls to the vendor.  We over think instead of breathing and feeling. We perform our own triage as to what is most important and needs to be accomplished first and what can wait. We forget what makes us smile.

That's what I've been doing of late. My triage has been in putting this blog at the bottom of my list. With   several projects I am juggling simultaneously (details to follow soon) in addition to my coaching clients I have experienced this overwhelming flood of energy within me that some days makes it's hard to breathe, hard to believe that these things, these ideas I have stored up in my brain are going to be something real. The irony is that in my attempt at triage I forgot how much I like writing my blog. How much I miss it when I don't. How it fuels me for my other projects, helping to ease everything else through the birth canal. That it is a source of pleasure in my process.

Do you believe in the no pain, no gain philosophy or do you believe pleasure and fun can be part of any creation, including actual childbirth?

Sheila has just opened registrations for her new Tele-Summit entitled The Body. If you are a woman pregnant, thinking about being pregnant or merely fascinated with the birth process, you might want to reserve yourself a seat.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Fascination Factor

I'm involved in several projects at the moment. Besides the fact that they are keeping me away from here, "stuff" is piling up. Email, newsletters, magazines, my hard copy of the New York Times.  I'm trying to catch up, to plow through the inbox but I'm not getting very far. In my effort to clean through I gravitate towards what fascinates me most. The headline that really grabs my attention. The teaser that seems most interesting. But again, I'm not making much progress. With so much going on in the world and so much communication about it, finding the thing or person or subject that will fascinate is pretty damn hard.

According to Sally Hogshead in her new book Fascinate, there are 7 triggers to what fascinates us: lust, mystique, alarm, prestige, power, vice, and trust. Which probably accounts for why Charlie Sheen captures more attention than the soldiers dying in Afghanistan. Charlie Sheen easily falls into more than one category. Dead soldiers do not, at least not until a Facebook post points out the absurdity and inequity of attention and the fallen soldiers go viral.

So doing something extraordinary like being willing to die for your country doesn't necessarily  fascinate us. But spending tens of thousands of dollars on prostitutes and cocaine does.

We are all looking to fascinate, to figure out the thing that will make us or our business stand out from the crowd. To be fascinating enough to be the lucky one of twelve who gets the coveted job or picked to get the publishing deal when hundreds of others are told no. But the reality of the Charlie Sheen versus fallen soldiers protecting his very freedoms, makes me wonder how do you fascinate in today's world and still remain authentic?

"Fascinating people and companies don't just talk to us. They get under our skin and into our conversations. They challenge us and move us."- Sally Hogshead. 

As both a writer and a coach I need to keep up on what's going on and so I read or in some cases scan a lot. I look for what fascinates me at the same time I strive to be fascinating enough to cause a person in our ADD world to stop and say, I must read her. I must hire her to coach me. But I also want to be authentic. I suppose the argument could be made that this is the authentic Charlie Sheen but my instincts tell me he is putting on a great show. That even Charlie doesn't know who the real Charlie is.  So where does that leave the rest of us? How do we fascinate from a place of authenticity? Or is that possible?

I took Sally's F score, Brand Personality test. According to the results the triggers I use to fascinate others  are lust and vice. I wasn't sure that felt very authentic until I read her explanations of the reasons for the triggers. Lust, she tells us, conquers the rational, gets us to stop thinking and start feeling. And vice isn't necessarily to lure anyone into sin, but to lure away from their standard choices. To try new things. That felt authentic to me. But still, is that enough to fascinate by today's standards?

Sally brings up the point that if you are not generating a negative reaction from someone, you're probably not fascinating anyone. Having worked in media, I grew up hearing that there was no such thing as bad press. If you got press, people were talking and that was a good thing, no matter what they were saying. So I understood her argument.  Yet no matter how tough my skin might have gotten over the years, I still dread a negative comment on this blog.

I wondered if my concern sometimes hinders my writing, my truth and therefore limits my fascination factor. If my appall over those who do capture our headlines, the Charlie Sheen's and Lindsay Lohan's makes me so not to want to be in the crazy category that I hold back. And how many others might do the same and thereby limit themselves and the fascination they might offer?

So the book lived up to it's title. Unlike my inbox at the moment it fascinated me. It gave me pause for thought and challenges me to attract my audience and stay authentic.

It's recommended reading, for anyone in business, big or small. I can't say it will address how you stay authentic while captivating, but it will fascinate you. Take the F score test first. It's free, fun and it will lure you in to read more.

What fascinates you?
Do you think you can stay authentic and still fascinate or do you have to be off the charts, as is Charlie Sheen?

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Fabulous 300th Post!

I never really worry about having enough to say.  But I do worry about whether anyone cares enough to listen or in this case read, whether what I have to say will be fabulous enough to get your attention. I was really concerned back when I was writing Blog Post #1 and I wasn't even sure I understood what a blog was. But here I am, 300 posts later!

I think that's pretty fabulous!

Fabulous. Not amazing, or insane or any of these other trendy words people seem obsessed with substituting when they really mean terrific.

Amazing can mean fabulous. But it can also mean astonishment in the worst sort of way.

Insane is utter madness, the kind of word  that best describes Glenn Beck or Charlie Sheen.

But Fabulous is remarkable, fantastic, exceptional, terrific!
Fabulous is living in a world where one can publish anything they want anytime they want and find a following!
Fabulous is spring just two weeks away!
Fabulous is Regena Thomashauer's new Mastery class starting this weekend!
Fabulous is connecting and meeting new friends through the magic of social networking!
Fabulous is finding out about a book all about The Essentials of Fabulous via Twitter!
Fabulous is the author inviting me to her book party!
Fabulous is meeting more fabulous people at the event at the fabulous Lindhardt Gallery!
Fabulous is writing and posting my 300th blog!!

Thank you all for reading!
Stay tuned for some fabulous announcements in the next few weeks on book releases and first ever coaching teleseminars! If you'd like to be added to my mailing list please click here!

In the meantime, tell me something you think is fabulous!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

May I Ask You A Question?

Have you ever caught yourself doing that? Wanting to ask a question but not sure it's OK so you preface it by asking permission?

I have.
It's ridiculous if you think about it. Asking permission to ask a question as though you were kneeling before the Queen of England.

But at least it's asking. It's a start. Some of us don't even get that far.

We really want the cookies with the chocolate sprinkles but we only see chocolate chips. We just take what we see and we never ask for what we really want.

We'd like to know why our cable bill keeps going up, but we don't question the new service charge. We just continue to pay.

We're curious about how long the construction next door will last.
We don't ask. We stay curious. We complain about the noise instead.

We think we have no right. We think we are intruding. We think even if we do ask, it will make no difference. Nothing will change. We are afraid of hearing no.

Yet if we don't ask we don't get.
If we don't ask we don't know.

I've been working on my first ever coaching teleseminar, Selling is Not A Four Letter Word (details to follow soon!) so I've been thinking alot about asking.  When I first started selling I was told if I asked the right questions I would get all the information I needed to close the deal. I was also taught to ask for the order, early and often. If you don't ask you never know where you stand.

Sounds so simple. Yet still we hesitate, we waffle, we stall, we are reluctant.

Or we don't. We stretch past our unwillingness and we ask. As I did last week when I got my annual premium for my apartment insurance. I got curious. I called a few other agencies to get quotes. They were all lower. I called the broker I had been using and discussed the situation. I asked questions. I asked for a lower rate.

Turns out my policy had not been reevaluated in a long time and the way they assess premiums had changed. My premium went down significantly. All I had to do was ask. I wondered why I hadn't sooner.

But I knew that answer. I didn't think it would change. I didn't think my asking would make a difference. I had forgotten what I had learned years ago. Ask questions. Lots of them. Get information. Ask for what I want. I just might get it!

Does asking for what you want come easily or do you hesitate?
What are you going to ask for today?

Stay tuned for details on Selling is Not a Four Letter Word. If you would like to be added to my mailing list please click here!