Tuesday, February 25, 2014

12 Alternatives To Selling

I hear it all the time. From smart, creative entrepreneurs and corporate executives alike.

"I can't sell."
"I am not a salesperson." 
"There are a lot of things I am good at - but selling is not one of them."
"I could never do that!"

The unfortunate news for them is that in a very noisy 24/7, interconnected world in which everyone has a voice and a platform on which they can be heard and in which the skinny on who you really are or what your business is about is nothing more than a Google search away - the truth is we are all selling - even if we don't want to admit it. 

But before you can hone those skills, my advice is to look to reframe the word "sell" into something that sounds more appealing.

If you are one of those people who say they "can't sell" or for whom the mere mention of the word makes them break out in hives, try one of these alternatives.

  • invite 
  • enroll 
  • educate 
  • influence 
  • captivate 
  • inspire 
  • seduce 
  • engage 
  • persuade
  • entice 
  • solve a problem 
  • tell a really good story 

If you can do any one or combination of the above, you can sell. In fact, you've been selling all along - you just didn't realize it. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

The BIG Countdown to Spring Sale!

The warmer temperatures these last few days reminded that it really is true - no matter how dark and snowy a Winter can get Spring will return!

Just the thought of daffodils and birds singing makes me feel lighter and frivolous. So much so that I've decided to start counting down the days until the official first day of Spring on March 21  -  and to lower the price on the Kindle editions of my books to 99 Cents!

Yes - that's right - just ninety-nine pennies! 

Because I can.
Because it feels good to do so. 
And - because it was so much fun seeing It Takes An Egg Timer go over the 10,000 download mark when it was free I thought it would be a kick to see what will happen at $.99! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Front Desk

On Valentine’s Day I learned that a former colleague had passed. A woman who made everyone smile from the Senior Vice President to the Fed Ex delivery person.  She had an infectious laugh and a bright smile. She possessed the kind of dedication to her job and loyalty to the company that you wish you could bottle. It wasn’t because she was paid a lot of money. She wasn’t. She didn’t hold a senior position at the company. She was the receptionist. The person who sat at the front desk, greeted visitors  and answered the phones.

I was sad when I learned of the news. Anyone who had ever met Edie Strong would say the same thing. She made every one feel special, greeting you by name when you arrived in the morning and asking you when you would be back if you were going on an appointment and then writing the answer down in case she forgot.  She came in early even when she didn’t get paid anything extra and would personally deliver everyone’s newspapers to their office.

Her job may not have ranked high in an organizational chart, but she treated it as though she was the Chairwoman of the Board. Even when she did not agree with the way something was being communicated internally, she never let her feelings be known.

The clients knew her by name. They knew if they could not get a hold of whoever they were looking for all they had to do was press O for the Operator and she would help them however she could. Sometimes that meant getting up from her desk and tracking you down in the bathroom.  

She kept lists of all the answers to the possible questions she might get in the course of a day as well as the phone numbers to refer people to. She was pleasant to everyone but she kept close tabs on who was doing their job and who wasn’t. Her radar was impeccable.

She answered the phones in a distinct, pleasant and articulate voice. “Time Warner CityCable, NY1 News, may I help you?”  that somehow managed to stay calm and reassuring to our families on 9/11 when the phones went crazy. That voice became such a recognizable touchpoint for customers it was used as the voice over for the companies television and radio ads.

Edie Strong was one of a kind in so many respects. More than just a colleague, friend and good employee, she was a true Brand Ambassador. From where she sat she saw that part of her responsibility was to represent the company. While she might not have ever said it aloud she knew she had an impact on the impression someone formed.

Today organizations everywhere are on the search for people like her. They seek to cultivate the loyalists who will spread their message on the social networks and increase their exposure and hopefully form the opinions they would like created. Yet too few even think to look internally. Most have foregone a human to answer phones in lieu of an automated attendant. It seems such obvious customer service but the cost consideration in most organizations comes first. It’s so drilled in our heads that a website today is the first touchpoint for most customers, we forget about the other simpler, more human ones. Worse we forget to train our employees that how they act matters.

I can’t say that anyone trained Edie to be the way she was. She was that rare individual who got it without being told what to do. Most of the rest of us need help. 

She could take her job dedication a bit too far. Like the day she went to the doctor’s at lunch and they suspected her cancer had come back. They wanted her to go for tests immediately but Edie insisted on coming back to work.  I still remember her sitting in my office arguing the point while another colleague got her daughter on the phone to come get her.

One of Edie’s greatest gifts was that not only could she make you smile, no matter how bad your day was going, she could make you laugh. Out. Loud.  In fact, just thinking about that makes me giggle. Which was always her intention.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ten Ways To Waste Time Without Ever Leaving Your Desk

I get on it so much about saving time and finding ways to create more of it, I thought it was time to fess up. I am also really good at wasting time. But then what self-employed, creative entrepreneur isn't?

The key word here is creative. When creativity is part of your game it's a lot easier to waste time. In fact, often when faced with the ugly green eyed monster who gets in the way of one's creativity - the only thing creative you can come up with is ways to waste time.

In the digital world the possibilities are endless. Without even leaving your desk look at all these things you can do.

1- Unsubscribe to all those email newsletters you keep getting that you (a) don't remember subscribing to or (b) are sure you did and can't figure out how they keep coming back.

2- Read Jerry Seinfeld's AMA on Reddit. It's really funny.

3- Go through the sponsored Ads on the side of your Facebook feed, one by one, and click the button that says you don't want to see that ad anymore.

4- Change the display on your computer screen every ten minutes until you find one that suits your mood.

5- Delete all the apps on your iPhone you haven't used since the day you downloaded them.

6- Read through your back-up of Google Alerts and discover that the National Association of Professional Organizers has deemed February National Time Management Month. Who knew?

7 - Google the Kardashians and see if you can figure out what it is they actually do that earns them a living. (this one can waste more time than you ever thought possible)

8 - Create a Spring Fever Pinterest Board for no other reason than to dream of Spring.

9 - Search for contests you can enter to win and enter them. (here's a cool one from The Travel Channel)

10 - Write a blog about wasting time instead of working on the five other projects you still have not finished.

I could go on - but I've wasted enough of my time and yours - at least for today. It's time to go back to work.

If you'd like to hear the other side of this - how to create more time - instead of wasting it - my popular little book, It Takes An Egg Timer, A Guide to Creating the Time For You is available on Amazon for just $.99!  

Monday, February 3, 2014

How To Direct The Story Line

A good storyteller understands that even when she thinks she knows the direction her story is going to take - when she is in the zone and the keys are flying - the story takes on a life of its own.

A good salesperson knows that no matter how much they want to control the direction of the sale and take it on a linear path to the close - it is a rare event when it goes that smoothly. And so they let go and trust that if that order does not come to fruition, it will take them to one that does.

A good marketer knows especially in today's 24/7 world, that no marketing plan will go exactly according to specifications. They need to be agile and responsive to the detours along the way and adjust when necessary.

Seeing as I am all three of the above, you think it would not have come as such a surprise when I got a lesson in just this the other night.

It was in an unlikely spot. An Introduction to Improv class that I had signed up for mostly because I thought it would be fun and I had never done it. Plus I knew Rebecca Stuard who is the Creative Director at Improvolution. She had been pre-selling me on the idea for a year and also happened to lead the class.

We were given a lot of exercises to do. One in particular involved storytelling. 

We were divided into groups of three and four. Rebecca gave us a story starter. The rule was that each person in our group contributed one word to the story. We were to continue around the circle like that until she told us to stop.

Sounds easy enough. But not really. 

It was a bit less challenging when she changed the rules and we were each allowed three words. But still proving to be pretty difficult which made no sense for someone who calls herself a Storyteller.

I was disappointed when it was my turn and the person before added a word that I wouldn't have chosen. Worse was when the person after me didn't contribute the word I thought they should. 

Then I took a deep breath and remembered that I was just doing this for fun. So I let go. And then a funny thing happened.

When I stopped trying to control where I thought the story should go - it flowed better and was a lot more fun - not to mention that the story improved.

Truth is - this lesson was not a surprise. I've heard it before in many forms. I believe it and when I am conscious enough I practice it. 

But this time I experienced a visceral understanding that I hadn't until that night and one I attribute to the experience of Improv.

We are all trying to control the story. Whatever that story is. The one of our love, our work, our life. Maybe something as simple as the story of what we want to do on our date on Saturday. 

We exercise a lot of energy trying to direct which way things go. We get exhausted when it isn't going the way we want it to because we are pushing so hard against the flow instead of allowing the plot twist to unfold. And we - or at least me -  never cease to be surprised that when we relinquish that control how much easier it all is.

The secret to directing the story line is to lean into it, instead of against it. To let go instead of holding on too tight.

Until this class I thought the story line for Improv was mostly a thing for actors. Turns out I was wrong. It's a lesson in spirituality and  the implications to the creative process - in business and in life - seem endless. 

Note: If you want to give it a go yourself, I highly recommend checking out Improvolution. You won't be disappointed! 

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