The Contributor Forum Technology Centre Business Development Personal Development

4 Steps to Better Resolutions

The Contributor Forum Comments Off

Planning to make some changes in 2008? Be prepared that unrealistic resolutions can really take the fun out of starting a new year. If you expect too much too soon, the January 1 “spring-in-your-step as you picture your best year ever” can quickly turn into a familiar feeling of “here we go again”.

To avoid setting yourself up for disappointment as the first blush of January fades, try this 4-step approach to setting achievable goals in 2008.

Step 1. Run a reality check

Ever had a new year’s resolution to lose 25 pounds before February? Or clean out 20 years worth of junk and clutter by January 2?

Often we think we’ve failed at our goals and we blame our lack of willpower. Feeling inadequate makes it less likely we’ll try again – or if we do, we start off down on ourselves and don’t get far. But usually the truth is that we had outlandish expectations to begin with.

Don’t doom yourself to failure – choose sensible targets for achieving the goals you set for 2008. What’s a sensible target? Find out! Check out the web, friends, books or magazines – or ring an expert and ask them.

How long does it take to…?

  • Reach your goal weight – considering your age, fitness and current weight? Ask a fitness trainer.
  • Find a new job – given your industry, experience and the market? Check with a recruitment consultant.
  • Save for your new home/car/holiday – taking into account your salary and debt level? Talk to an accountant or financial planner.

Setting a goal that’s realistic is the first step to making this the year you achieve it!

Step 2. Translate ‘what’ into ‘when’.

So you’re starting the year with a realistic goal – now what? Any goal – anything you want to do differently – needs a diary entry that converts it from a vague what to a crystallised when.

Whether it goes in your Outlook, your Filofax or your head, it needs to be recorded – or you can pretty much fugeddaboutit. Here’s how to convert a “what” into a “when”:

Yuk: I’m gonna take up exercise next year.
Yay: I’ve scheduled 20-minute lunchtime walks on MON, WED and FRI.

It’s important when time-tabling your “when’s” that you don’t wait for the scheduled time to arrive before you decide what to do with it. Whether your resolution is to go on more outings with the kids, write that novel or find a new job, make planning the project part of the resolution. This takes the sting out of getting started; taps into your motivation when it’s high and helps you make some early strides.

For instance:

Yuk: So kids, what do you want to do this weekend?

Yay: Hey kids, how about going to the aquarium on Sunday afternoon?

Yuk: I’m gonna write that dang novel this year, so help me!

Yay: I have a rough plan for my novel and I’ve split it into small chunks.

Yuk: I hate my job. Gotta find me a better one.

Yay: I’m taking [friend's name] to lunch to help me brainstorm all the things I need to do to find a great new job. Then I’ll do a couple of tasks each day/weekday/weekend.

By converting your resolutions into diarised tasks, you boost your chances of making the changes you desire in 2008. Then you have to keep it going.

Step 3. Focus on progress, not perfection

Once you’ve got a sensible target that’s embedded into your schedule, it’s important to focus on progress, not perfection. As long as you’re heading in the right direction, rest assured that change is happening. Keep going! and you’ll get there!

Once you start obsessing about the 4 M&Ms you ate, the 1 interview out of a several that you blew or the single novel-writing session you missed because your mother-in-law was visiting, your hard drive died and the kids all had a nasty bout of ebola – it’s game over.

It helps to look back to where you started from and remind yourself that you’re slowly but surely changing your life. Seeing how far you’ve come reassures you that change is happening, even if it’s not as fast as you’d like.

It can also be motivating to look ahead to this time next year. How will you feel if you’ve achieved the goal but it took twice as long as you’d hoped? And how will you feel if you gave up because it didn’t happen fast enough?

Don’t let short-term hiccups distract you from the big picture. Keeping your eye firmly on the up-trend in your life it a good strategy for maintaining motivation over the longer term.

Step 4. Make it fun!

Don’t be too earnest with your resolutions. Adding some fun to your goals can help you stick with it when your motivation’s down. Here are some ideas and accessories that can add a little levity to getting your goal.

  • Study: Colored highlighters, pens and sticky notes; funky folders
  • Exercising: Music, PodCasts or audiobooks; cute workout-wear
  • Being a better cook: Your favorite celebrity-chef DVDs; beautiful cookbooks
  • Being less grumpy: Comedy DVDs; funny novels

Also remember to celebrate your successes. Acknowledging what you’ve achieved reinforces your efforts and helps strengthen your persistence muscles – so you’ll be in great shape for the next goal you want to pursue.

Is it 2009 already?

© Michelle Connolly,

The Science of Sales (For Coaches)

Business Development Comments Off

Science and Sales 

Sales is a science. It’s been studied, refined and defined. It is not an abstract concept. If you effectively implement the following blueprint for creating sales your business will compound in growth.

If you rely on abstract concepts such as unsolicited word of mouth and ‘technical competence’ to sell, your business will grow organically at best. But most likely it’ll fail.

Following is a 7 step process for selling. You need to do much more than simply study this process. You need to:

  1. Commit it to memory.
  2. Master every step.
  3. Develop systems and processes for every step.
  4. Continuously measure and improve each step.

Sales Step 1: Establish Rapport

You will not sell without rapport. As discussed previously, your prospects associate risk with every transaction. If they sense the risk is greater than their perceived gain, they will not purchase. The first step then is to build rapport. The better you achieve this, the lower your prospect’s perceived risk, and the greater your chance to sell.

Here are some strategies to build rapport:

Use education-based marketing. There is probably no more powerful way to demonstrate all the right attributes that build rapport than education-based marketing.

Move the free-line. The more willing you are to move the free-line in your prospect’s favour, the more rapport you will build.

Reciprocal Obligation. This is a very powerful rapport builder. By assisting prospects overcome their challenges through education-based marketing and moving the free-line you build reciprocal obligation. They’ll feel compelled to give back the goodwill you’ve provided them.

Be an Authority. When you establish yourself as an authority in your niche, rapport is a natural side affect. It’s like social osmosis. People want to relate to authority figures. It’s a shortcut for decision making. Authority figures are pre-qualified and pre-selected.

Be knowledgeable. This is congruent with education-based marketing. By demonstrating that you have specific knowledge to assist prospects overcome their challenges you build significant rapport.

Ask great questions. Build a set of great rapport building questions. Use these questions to ‘naturally’ lead your communication with prospects.

Sales Step 2: Qualify

Qualifying prospects means finding out what they are looking for in your service and what factors will influence them to buy. In this phase you need to learn everything you can about their buying criteria and reset that criterion so your service is their most logical choice.

As we’ve discussed several times, your prospects perceive risk associated with transacting with you. They need to believe they will profit from the transaction before committing to buying your service.

The Qualification phase is about ascertaining in as much detail as possible how your prospects evaluate risk and profit. Once you have this information you can use it in your sales process to lead conversion.

For example, let’s say you’re a business development coach. You may qualify a prospect in the following manner.

You: What was it that motivated you to call?

Prospect: I liked the idea of increasing sales?

You: What would a 25% increase in sales mean to your business?

Prospect: That would mean around $875,000 per year gross turnover, and about $175,000 extra in net profit.

You: So, if our program worked for you by increasing your sales by just 25%, bearing in mind we’ve assisted dozens of business owners in identical situations regularly achieve over 50% growth in 12-months; it would be worth about $175,000 to you?

Prospect: Well yes, if it worked.

You: I understand that your greatest concern is whether our system works or not. If we were to GUARANTEE our system so there was no downside risk to you, would you be willing to invest just $4,750 per month over the next 12-months to get an additional $175,000 per year? Does that sound reasonable, investing just $4,750 per month for an extra $175,000 with no risk?

In this basic example financial gain has been identified as a primary buying criterion. Hence the prospect has been qualified on this criterion and it has been used to channel the prospect into a sale. (Obviously in this example you need to have a guarantee; close; overcome additional objections/ risks).

Action: Identify and write down all buying criteria. You should be able to come up with 6 to 10 good ones. Use these buying criteria to create a map, using open questioning, that leads your prospects through a sales process. Identify potential objections at every point and either 1/ pre-empt objections; or 2/ overcome them in ‘real-time’.

Sales Step 3: Build Value

Once you’ve identified your prospects buying criteria through the qualifying phase, you need to build value into your proposition.

There are several ways to build value, including:

Quantifying cost/ pain of NOT buying. Humans are a bazaar species. They’ll often go years and years in discomfort without seeking a simple solution. It’s likely your prospects have experienced the same problems and challenges, which you can assist them overcome, for a significant time.

This means they can survive without your service. It also means they’re well aware of the cost of NOT finding a solution. To make survival easier, people diminish the extremity of the problem or push it into their subconscious. You need to bring it abruptly into consciousness. You need to attach an emotional and financial value on it.

Theory of Contrast. Once you’ve brought your prospects challenges into their consciousness you can contrast the cost/ pain of not having it solved, with that of solving it. For instance, in the above example, we brought into consciousness that a 25% increase in sales would equate to $175,000 in net income.

We contrasted this with a cost of $4,750 per month. When reframed in this manner the buying decision flips quickly from “Why would I spend $4,750 per month to try to grow my business”; to “Of course I’d invest $4,750 per month to make an extra $175,000 per year at no risk.”

Social Proof. You can build value in a very leveraged way by showing that your prospect’s peers (and particularly authority figures) are already using your service.

Focus on benefits. When building value it’s important to focus on benefits rather than features. Your prospects invest in, and emotionally attach to, the benefits of your service, not its features. As such you must communicate to them in terms of benefits.

Authority and Provide Proof. Where possible provide evidence that your service delivers value. This can be provided by detailed testimonials, data, reports, etc. Use this information in a manner that supports your claims and relates directly to the core benefits desired by your prospects. 

Sales Step 4: Create Desire

Now it’s time to make your prospect need your service. Not just ‘want’ it, but ‘need’ it. If you’ve achieved the previous phases your prospects will see no other way to have their challenges solved than utilising your service.

We re-emphasise this point: your prospects will be significantly more motivated if their current situation becomes unacceptable.

You need to not only assist prospects identify their challenges, you need to:

  • Make them relate to their problems/ challenges. Many people externalise their problems. To minimise the affects of their problems they develop a mindset that the problems are something that is ‘happening to’ them.
  • Make them responsible and accountable. Make your prospects accept that their problems are the result of causes (decisions, situations, circumstances) they’ve created. By accepting responsibility for the results, you assist them accept they can also implement solutions.
  • Get your prospects to emotionalise with the problem/challenge. The stronger their emotions to the challenges, the more likely they are to seek a solution.
  • Quantify the emotional and financial consequences of the problem. This indicates to them the real loss of not having the problem overcome.
  • Emphasise that the problem will be enduring. Have your prospect identify how long the problem has occurred. And then have them accept that without assistance the problem will endure. Quantify the cost of having the problem endure in perpetuity.
  • Demonstrate to them how using your service to overcome their problem will be at a huge financial and emotional discount to having the problem endure.
  • Demonstrate that you are the best person to assist them overcome their problem.

Sales Step 5: Overcome Objections

A good selling process pre-empts objections and overcomes them before they become a barrier. But it’s also important to remember that an objection is also your opportunity to close.

For example, let’s assume you’ve been through all the previous steps and your prospect gives you the objection: “I like the sound of your service, but I can’t afford it right now”.

Firstly, you should always agree with an objection. To the prospect it’s real, so you should validate it. This also assists maintain rapport.

So you could respond: “Well, that’s certainly a good reason not to invest in the service today. [Pause]. But let me ask you this: Is money the only thing stopping you from beginning the service?”

If there are no further objections your prospect will say something like: “No, if I could afford it, I’d buy it”.

This is called isolating the objection.

Now that your prospect has identified and isolated their only objection, you simply find a way to move past it.

“So if I could find a way for you to afford it you’d start immediately.”

Then you just emphasise your guarantee, design an instalment plan, lock them into a lower investment solution, etc.

Action: List all the objections you can think your prospects may have. Cost, time, decision maker (“I need to discuss it with my partner”), etc. Then develop strategies to overcome (and isolate) each objection. Now develop ways to pre-empt objections and build it in to your sales process.

Sales Step 6: Close the Sale
Whilst the ideal scenario is to set up a logical buying criteria that naturally progresses to a sale, it rarely happens this way. And this is where most coaches fail in the sales process. They fear closing the sale.
Of course, this fear is counter-intuitive. The real fear is that of being rejected. Yet, if you don’t close the sale it’s the same result as being rejected. Hence, logically, the only way to overcome the fear of rejection is to attempt to close the sale.
The ‘handling objections’ approach is an effective close. But it can be complicated if your prospect ‘just doesn’t feel it’s right for them.’ Usually in these scenarios you’ve failed to build enough credibility and rapport. This means you have to go back to phase 2 and repeat the process.
Another powerful technique to close is to assume the sale. As this technique suggests, you simply close the sale by assuming your prospect wants your service.
You do this by saying things such as “So what’s the best time and day of the week for you? I have Wednesdays 6pm to 7pm free. Does that suit you?”
Other strategies for closing include:

Risk Reversal. Using risk reversal you reverse your prospects perceived risk on to you. This is most commonly done by way of a guarantee.

Scarcity. Scarcity is a powerful device for closing. People strongly desire what they can’t have or what’s perceived to be scarce. Common scarcity devices include time constraints and number restraint. For instance, rather than saying “I’m pretty well available any time, just let me know when suits you”.  Try “I only have one spot remaining in my calendar and I have another 3 appointments this afternoon. If you don’t lock it in now, chances are you’ll miss out for around 3-months?”

Sales Step 7: Follow Up
Most marketing processes have a strong emphasis on follow up. And rightly so. Despite your best sales efforts, there is always only a portion of prospects ready and willing to buy at a particular point in time. This is the cycle of life. Consumers go through a process whereby their desire for a product or service (actually the benefit of the product/ service) comes into their consciousness.

That desire has an intensity that determines their next course of action. If it’s mildly intense, which is the vast majority of the time; they’re driven to simply ‘learn more’. When the intensity is extremely strong and overwhelming, they buy.
The primary task of sales is to move your prospect from the ‘learn more’ intensity, to the overwhelming ‘need to have’ intensity.
But this is not always possible in a short timeframe. So you need follow up processes. Follow up is a means of gradually and continuously moving your client to ‘need to have’ intensity. Your prospects are always at different phases of intensity. That’s why it’s crucial you maintain their momentum toward ‘need to have’ intensity.
As it’s very difficult to know where on the intensity scale your prospect is, you must always give them an opportunity to buy in EVERY follow up. It doesn’t matter what form your follow up takes, it must contain a call to action and give your prospect the opportunity to buy.