Endurance

Arguably, the most grueling ultra-marathon race was one that happened annually in Australia in the years between 1983 and 1991. The Sydney to Melbourne Ultra-Marathon was a 543.7 mile race designed to test the endurance of the world’s top runners.

In its inaugural year, all of the athletes who showed up to race were young runners who trained for months, many of them had large corporate sponsors. All but one.

Initially, no one noticed the 61 year old man who wandered around the crowds… until he picked up his race number and headed to the starting line. Then the murmur began as press, spectators and other runners wondered what he was doing. Cliff Young was there to race.

Someone said, “You can’t run this race.” Cliff disagreed, “I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d always catch them. I believe I can run this race.”

Cliff YoungWhen the race started, the pro runners left Cliff far behind. Cameras continued to follow the shuffling, old farmer as he plodded along. Other athletes had timetables of “run vs. rest” times and other plans to help them get through the anticipated 5-day race.

Cliff’s strategy? He didn’t know how long it would take, but he planned to run until he finished.

In business, I have met so many people who show up at the starting line with projects, goals or dreams sparkling within. Some are big dreams – some are smaller – but I can see the shine in the eye and I know there is something special there. Have you been there? Often, you don’t know everything that will be required to see it to completion, but you go ahead and begin a new thing anyway. You see, getting started is easy.

The hard part? Plodding along, head down and determined to get to the finish when those around you tell you it can’t be done. Continuing on through the dark hours of the night when all you want to do is stop – or go a different way. Endurance.

Too many great business plans and strategies die before they’ve had the chance to succeed. Endurance is a word lost on the tongues of all too many people. Can it be found on yours?

Cliff Young finished the race. Not only that, Cliff Young WON the race, and set a new record for ultra-marathon time/distance. He didn’t know there was a $10,000 prize for the winner. He didn’t know he would forever change the way ultra-marathoning is done. He just came to run to the finish line.

What will you accomplish by enduring through whatever difficulty you face today? What awaits you at the finish?
Keep running!

The Three Extremely Worst Errors Sometimes Made in Communication

1. Lack of SIMPLICITY

Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.   –  C.S. Lewis

This quote by author C.S. Lewis is one to keep at the forefront of your mind, both when writing and when preparing material for a presentation.  It is tempting to think that selecting a complex word will enhance your message, but that is not always the case.    Select the words that say exactly what you mean.  Once you’ve made your point, stop.

2. Lack of SPECIFICS

Some so speak in exaggerations and superlatives that we need to make a large discount from their statements before we can come at their real meaning.
-Tryon Edwards

A superlative is an adverb or adjective that suggests the most or least of something.  Once you have written your text, whether for an advertisement, business correspondence, presentation or website content – go back through and remove every use of a superlative – such as “best” “worst” “greatest”.  These words are overused so much that they are skimmed over by the reader.  What to do instead?  Give specifics.

Instead of: “We have the greatest staff in the Valley!”

Use: “Last year, our staff received five out of five stars in customer satisfaction!”

3.  Lack of STRENGTH

I noticed a little while ago that I was using the word “just” and the phrase “sort of” in my writing. All the time, in fact. In my last book, a search and replace removed more than 80 unnecessary ‘justs’.    – Seth Godin

Wishy-washy words are silent but deadly killers of good communication.  You barely notice them, but by the time you’ve finished reading a piece that is littered with them, you are exhausted and you don’t know why.  They are often, but not always, the words called “qualifiers” in grammar.

Which sentence reads more strongly?

Option 1: “I think we have one of the best solutions available for your project.”

Option 2: “Our solution achieves your project objectives.”
These are easy fixes to make, and appear in all forms of communication – from Tweets to Thank You Letters.  It won’t take long before you’ll notice them everywhere they have been sneaking into your writing.  With practice, you’ll find your writing is stronger and has more impact.

Happy Selling!

And One More Thing…

My wife makes a terrific homemade pizza.  Since learning of this hidden talent of hers, we rarely do take-out pizza anymore, however, from time to time it can’t be helped.  We brought home some Domino’s a while back.  Stapled to the cover of the box was an advertisement for a new menu item for Domino’s:  A Chocolate Lava Cake. Yum.  I started thinking about cake.  But then, I noticed something else off to the side of the page… an ad for the Blue Ray version of the Despicable Me movie.

No tie-in to the Chocolate Cake.  No relevance of any sort that is mentioned.  It was almost as if they made the Chocolate Cake flyer and then said, “Hey – we have some space over here – what can we fill it with?”

The result – an advertisement with identity confusion.  I stopped thinking about the cake.

Just because you have some white space, doesn’t mean you have to fill it.  Make your point and then stop.  If what is on the page is not contributing to strengthening the core message – it does not belong there.  Get rid of it.

Use the same ruthlessness in your emails or other written correspondence with clients.  Do not toss in extra offers or products at the last minute.  That “one more thing” weakens what you really want to say.

And one more thing…  Happy Selling!

Using Others’ Recommendations To Move Along A Sale

It is a warm and fuzzy feeling when a client sends you a testimonial or recommendation – stating the wonderful qualities of your personhood and praising your wise and savvy business solutions.

LinkedIn has simplified the process of asking for recommendations from colleagues and clients.  Those who use LinkedIn as part of their business media strategy find it natural to receive recommendation requests from those with whom they have done business.  Potential clients can view your recommendations to gain insight into the results you deliver before deciding if they want to engage in business with you.  You can also do the same for potential business partners you are considering.

However, there is another way that you can use the recommendations section of LinkedIn to help move your sale along with a prospect.  From a contact’s profile page, you can view the recommendations that they have given to others.  Read what they have written about other people.  It gives you insight to what the prospect values.  Look for patterns.  If in three or four recommendations he states, “Jim is very detail-oriented…”  “Sally’s attention to detail helped our company…” etc. you would learn that “attention to detail” is something of importance to this person.

This information can help you tremendously in learning which types of information about your product or service would be relevant and how you should handle this account.

The more you understand what your prospect values, the better equipped you are to move your sale along.  Soon, that prospect will become a satisfied customer providing you with a recommendation.

Happy Selling!

For The Want of a Nail

There is an old proverb that goes like this:
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
The kingdom was lost – all for the want of a nail.
The tiny nail was a major contributor to the destruction of a kingdom.

Every day is filled with countless “nails.” Those nails that ultimately contribute to your success.
What are your “Sales Nails”?

For the want of a cold call, the prospect was lost.

For the want of a call back, the deal was lost.

For the want of better organization, the information got lost.

For the want of a few minutes preparation, the meeting was lost.

For the want of skill building, the employee was lost.

For the want of a client, the business was lost.

Think of the activities in your day as critical nails. Small items in and of themselves, but of mega-importance to the health of your business. Don’t lose your business, all for the want of a …

5 Ways To Work Your Net

Think about the last networking event you attended.  Does the following process sound familiar?Does Your Net Work?

1. Met a few new people
2. Handed out some of your business cards
3. Never heard from any of the people you met

It is not unusual to go to a networking event and never receive contact from someone you’ve met.  Before you become too smug, ask yourself:  Did you follow up with the people you met?

One problem with networking events is that everyone goes home and waits for the other person to do something.

You don’t want to be just another sales person.  You want to stand out; You want to be different, right?  It won’t take much to stand out in the crowd of most networking event attendees because the follow-up bar is set pretty low.

  1. Enter new contacts into your contact management software or at least an excel spreadsheet.
  2. Send an email the next morning telling them how nice it was to meet them and cite one or two of the topics you discussed at the event.
  3. Look for them on LinkedIn and invite them to connect with you there.  See if they have a Twitter account and follow them.
  4. Give them a call within the first week and invite them out for coffee.  The purpose of this invite is to start to better understand their business, so if the opportunity arrives you can refer them to your network.
  5. Touch base with them on a regular interval, comment on their twitter or LinkedIn status and look for items that you think might be of value to them.  The goal is to create a long term connection.

People like to be noticed and remembered.  This simple strategy doesn’t take a lot of time but it does set you apart from the normal network event participant.  Showing interest in someone else’s business will pay huge dividends for your business.

Your Competitors are NOT Morons

If you ask a sales person about their competition, he is likely to roll his eyes and spout some venom about how “stupid” the competition is.  Or, he will retell a story of a time when the competitor screwed up an account and he swooped in and saved the day.

Most of the sales people I have met view their competition as incompetent; not knowing how to properly care for the customers.

<img title=”moron” src=”http://www.abovetheherd.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/moron.jpg&#8221; alt=”your competitors are not morons” width=”300″ height=”300″ />Here’s the thing… your competition is finding some way to stay in business, pay their bills and keep people on the payroll.  Obviously something they do has appeal to a segment of your market.  You would do well to spend some time to figure out what it is that they do right and not only focus on the things you perceive as wrong.

You may indeed have a superior product or service.  So why do you lose business to the competition?  Are they working harder than you?  Are they better networked?  Do they communicate more timely -or- more clearly?  Do their sales people have a better grasp of the sales process?

Taking the time to view the competition through new eyes might highlight to you areas where they work well and give you some ideas for improvement.  Remember, they probably view you as incompetent too – and we know that’s not correct. Is it?

Happy Selling!