Tagged: Sales

Because; accountability

How having a Sales & Leadership Coach dramatically improved my business, my results, and my life.

The Missing Piece

Over the last 12 months I have made many significant and positive changes in my life. In fact, just this weekend I was creating a new vision board. I did this same activity at the same time last year. When I was finished, I laid the two versions (this years and last year’s) side by side and was again reminded of how much growth has taken place. Even writing about it makes me take a deep breath in and release a sigh of gratitude. The only word that comes to mind is “wow”.

I have shared a lot of this journey on social media. I have been flooding Facebook and Instagram with pictures of meditation practices, underlined paragraphs from books, and personal development challenges. Most recently I’ve even ventured into blogging to further explain some of the ideas that have given me clarity, peace, and perspective in hopes that it might help others find the same.

It was recently brought to my attention however, that I have inadvertently omitted a piece of the puzzle. I haven’t yet shared the primary catalysts helping me to act on (for example) starting said meditation practices, reading those books, and creating my personal development challenges.

This is the story of that missing piece.

It’s written more from personal experience than many things I post but that is by design. It IS my personal experience. So, take what you can, leave what doesn’t fit, but I encourage you to read with an open mind and consider if something like this might be the catalyst you’ve been missing too…

 

whistle

Coaching

Through a series of unexpected and serendipitous events, I found myself introduced to the idea of hiring a Sales and Leadership coach.

If you knew me, you might think me an unlikely candidate for coaching. You see, I am a bit of an overachiever.

The program was described to me as “accountability coaching”. If you were to read my resume (filled with impressive stats and aggressive advancement) or visit my home (where you’d find shelves packed with self-help and business books as well as dozens of marathon and half-marathon medals) you might assume that things were going ‘pretty OK’ in the accountability department. In fact, when I told my father about wanting to get involved in a coaching program I believe his exact words were “I think you are literally the last person on the planet that needs this.”

(Don’t feel bad, I don’t think this is the first time he’s been wrong.)

 

Or – maybe that was a fair assessment. I mean really, maybe no one “needs” coaching. Just like no one “needs” to live an extraordinary life or accomplish goals beyond their wildest dreams… maybe. But I have never been satisfied with average.

However, here’s the common misconception and the thing I am asked about most often from those privy to my involvement in this… As a person “not satisfied with average” you’d have to guess that I’m ambitious from the jump.

And you’d be right.

I am.

So, why coaching?

Because; accountability.

Here’s the paradox with being an overachiever. When you are an overachiever, the world makes it really easy to be lazy.

This might sound counterintuitive, so allow me to illustrate.

pie

Pie

Let’s say you and I both work for a company that measures our value and production in the number of pies we can bake in a day.

Let’s assume that an average producer bakes 100 pies per day. Let’s also imagine that you and I are both ambitious overachievers and, as such, we can bake 125 pies per day – no problem. We can basically do this in our sleep.

It stands to reason that with slightly more effort we could probably bake 150 pies per day, but if everyone is in jaw-dropped-awe at our 125 pies are we really going to shoot for the 150? It would take an awful lot of personal inspiration and motivation to do so. Might as well ‘phone it in’ and let everyone be impressed as is with our 125 pies.

This is a lazy approach, for sure, but no one ever seems to notice.

 

Achievements and accomplishments are relative. It’s all about pushing beyond your own personal best – if you’re inspired to do so. It’s all about challenging yourself and finding out what’s possible for you! Not comparing yourself to the average.

Spoiler Alert: Comparison to anything outside of yourself is a bit poisonousness anyway.

 

I started coaching because I knew that I could bake more metaphorical pies. I knew that the world had made it too easy for me to be lazy and that if I wanted to discover what was possible it was up to me to make a change.

I paid for the program myself. Aside from my rent, it was the single most expensive monthly charge on my credit card statement. You know when people talk about the price of something and then say, “it was the best money I ever spent”? I get that. This was the best money I have ever spent. No question.

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Vision

One of my first assignments was to work on my personal vision. I had to answer thought-provoking questions about where I was going and why. I created a list of 40 goals I aimed to achieve before the age of 40 (arbitrary numbers – just because it’s catchy) and I was tasked with creating a vision board.

This may sound cheesy but stick with me… This process made me realize something. Somehow, I had spent the past few years going through the motions and feeling my way around in the dark. I hadn’t even realized I was living this way. My eyes adjusted. I had grown accustomed.

This make it feel like someone had finally flipped the lights on. “Vision”; literally.

My coach was asking me to dig deep and answer these important questions but he had no dog in the fight. Maybe it’s just me but I feel like any time I’m talking “vision” or “goals” to anyone who cares enough to hear them it seems they always have a dog in the fight. They’re always tied in. My achieving or not achieving  X goal affects them in one way or another. There had been no unbiased participants in a conversation about my personal vision. Until now.

I could answer these questions and craft my vision however I chose. Me. Solo.  And my coach would hold me accountable to this exercise and make sure it was accomplished on a deadline.

Suddenly it wasn’t selfish to spend this time reflecting and dreaming. It was necessary. It was an assignment. But the teacher didn’t win or lose based on the content of my work.

I was forced to go inward and untangle some things.

Did I mention I thought I signed up for sales coaching?

But, as I would learn, it’s all the same.

 

chess

Strategy

Of course, I learned strategies specifically designed to help me within the four walls of my office as well.

I have been in management and leadership for nearly ten years but the year I spent in coaching was the year I truly learned how to manage and lead.

It’s not that I was terrible at this before. I had actually been quite lucky throughout the decade. I employed a strategy of reading a few leadership books per year, had discovered Success Magazine audio CDs before podcasts were the norm, and had picked up some good instincts on how to navigate through the maze of hiring, training and developing – but I probably couldn’t tell you how or why I made the choices I made.

It was as if I was accidentally picked as a starting player on a soccer team and although I had never actually learned the rules of how to play soccer, I managed to score enough point per game that no one noticed I couldn’t read the playbook.

Coaching helped me to learn the rules, read the playbook, and improve the plays being run.

I was no longer winning through luck and might. I began winning through skill and strategy – which, you know, is quite a bit more sustainable.

 

As a sales professional, I began to really learn how to hone my craft in an honest and technical way. It’s not about selling more for self-centered reasons or financial gain. It’s about learning to connect faster and more sincerely with prospects, determining if they’ll genuinely benefit from your product or service, and helping them feel supported in the decision to move forward and become you client or partner, or not.

As a leader, my experience in coaching taught me how to hold others accountable through love.

That’s right. I said the “L” word. Roll your eyes if you must but this was a game changer for me.

Tough conversations stopped being tough which alleviated a ton of stress in my world and allowed me to show up and be present when working with my team. I learned (like, really learned) that holding people accountable and not accepting less than their personal best is the kindest thing I can do for them. It is my ultimate service.

I began to feel more at peace at work, interactions became deeper, our relationships strengthened, and our results improved.

I could tell you that I learned about time management but that’s not completely true.
I learned that “time management” is an excuse we use when what we really need to improve is our “self-management” and I learned self-management strategies that increased not only my results and production but also my sense of control and happiness both inside and outside of the office. I now get more done and manage far less chaos. It’s fantastic.

 

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Results

Finally, if I’ve used too many words that make you uncomfortable like vision, service, love, and peace – let me hit you with some facts and figures because that’s a language I am equally fluent in.

During my time in coaching I grew my revenue by 89%, my business hit all-time highs in production and my teams consistently landed in the top 10% of the country for New Business Acquisition.

I can boil this all down to one word; accountability.

We all need it if we ever hope to answer the question: “What’s possible?”

The overachievers, the veterans, the newcomers, and those simply (or not-so-simply) seeking more – we can ALL benefit from someone holding us responsible for achieving our own personal best.

So, how many pies can you/your business really bake in a day?

 

PEACE & LOVE

PS – For information about the coaching program I used or, you know, just to chat about accountability 😉 feel free to email me at dee@deemullinblog.com

 

The Simplest, Most Effective Way to Build Credibility

 

Credibility is huge.

No matter what role you’re currently in, if you are interacting with other human beings you will probably be best served by having a reputation of credibility.

Regardless of the company name on your business card, in the modern day world of transparency made possible by social media sites such as LinkedIn, your results will largely depend on your personal brand.

In this post I will share what I believe to be the simplest way to build credibility – it takes little (or no) extra time of effort, it is extremely effective and it is often times overlooked.

First, some housekeeping. My intention is not to help you trick people into believing you’re more credible than you are. If you habitually underdeliver – clean that up. That is no way to nurture relationships or profits so fix that, stat.

Glad we straightened that out. Now you’re ready. Here it is – the fastest, simplest, most effective way to strengthen your personal brand by building trust and credibility – drum roll please….

Tell your clients where and when to expect you – and then show up there.

That’s it.

Tell your clients where and when to expect you, keep your word, and show up. Jackpot. (For realz tho.)

I don’t mean solely in the physical realm – as in, “Katie, I will meet you at 12:00pm in front of the Starbucks on Main Street” and then be there (although, yeah, do that too), I mean in every sense. For example, be specific about the date and time and you’re going to send the email with the proposal – and then send it at that date and time.

And herein lies the magic as well as the missed opportunity…

Let’s run through three scenarios pretending that you are my prospective client:

Scenario “A”:

It’s Monday afternoon and we just finished a lunch meeting. As we’re getting ready to part ways I sincerely thank you for the meeting and the opportunity to partner. I close by telling you “I’ll shoot that proposal over to you!”

You say “Perfect!”  We smile, wave goodbye and get into our cars to go about the rest of our days.

I put your proposal on my mental checklist and jet off to my next meeting.

You walk into your office and tell your CEO that you think this partnership could really work – and that you should have my proposal later today.

BUT WAIT. I didn’t say later today! I didn’t say anything! I left it open ended because, truthfully, I’m not really sure when I’ll get to it. That’s fine, right? Can’t under-deliver on a non-promise, right?

 

Scenario “B”:

This time I close by telling you “I’ll get that proposal over to you by noon on Wednesday, would that work for you?”

You say “Perfect!”  We smile, wave goodbye and get into our cars to go about the rest of our days.

I put your proposal on my mental checklist and jet off to my next meeting.

You walk into your office and tell your CEO that you think this partnership could really work well and that you’ll have my proposal on Wednesday.

 

Scenario “C”:

I close by telling you “I’ll get that proposal over to you!”

You say “Perfect!”  We smile, wave goodbye and get into our cars to go about the rest of our days.

I put your proposal on my mental checklist and jet off to my next meeting.

You pull out your iPhone so that you can post a picture of your lunch on Instagram and ‘check-in’ to the restaurant we just dined at via Facebook.

 

Let’s say in all three scenarios you receive my proposal at 3:34pm on Tuesday.

Here’s how the ‘credibility set-up’ (or lack thereof) plays out in reality:

In scenario “A” I was not specific and you interpreted my closing statement to mean “Proposal. Immediately. Top priority.”

If you get my proposal at 3:34pm on Tuesday you may perceive me as a slacker. In a best case scenario you might email me politely Tuesday morning asking where the document is (in which case I actually make perceive you as a nag!) In worst case you may have already moved on to another provider feeling slighted.

I didn’t tell you when to expect me so chances are when I arrive on my timeline, it’ll be out of whack with your expectations.

 

In scenario “B” I was very specific – you’ll have the proposal by noon on Wednesday.

If you get my proposal at 3:34pm on Tuesday I am a hero! I’m on my game! I’m EARLY! … and I get bonus points if I include in my email some language that references “I know I said I’d have this to you by noon tomorrow but I am really excited about working together. I reorganized some things on my end so that I could get it over to you a little sooner.”

Same result (proposal arrives at 3:34pm Tuesday), totally different impact (I’m a hero).

Another important thing to note – I am JUST as credible if this document hits your inbox by 11:59am on Wednesday. No need to come in a day early… but if you’re able, why not?

 

In scenario “C” I wasn’t specific and you probably don’t care. I would call this a “neutral” position.

Is there big risk here? No. But is there any opportunity for reward? Not really.

The only thing required for me to earn the coveted deposit in the credibility bank is that I say where I will be and I show up there. So in scenario “C” I haven’t hurt myself – but I haven’t helped myself either. This is a common example of a missed opportunity.

 

The specifics make all the difference.

It’s imperative to create alignment early and often with prospects and clients. If you think it’s not possible for your prospect to take your “I’ll shoot that proposal over to you!” to mean “within the hour” you are sorely mistaken.

As a rule of thumb, every time you’re NOT specific imagine that the prospect has taken your statement to mean “immediately” and the clock has already begun ticking. Is that fair? Maybe not. Is that the case 100% of the time? No, it certainly isn’t. But why risk it?
Implementing this strategy just takes practice. Demand specificity from yourself on all deadlines, commitments, and next steps. Leave nothing open for interpretation.

And when you leave without being specific (as you will… as I still do) call the prospect back ASAP.

Make the call as you’re driving away from the restaurant and say “Hey Katie, I’m so sorry. I know I just said I’d ‘get that proposal to you’ but I should have been clearer. I plan to have it to you by noon on Wednesday, does that work?”

That one minute phone call is a priceless opportunity to earn a deposit in the credibility bank… and avoid a potential deduction!