Remember the Sales Basics by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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In recent years, sales professionals have faced loads of new challenges. Internet sales, in particular, have taken the market from manindex2y professionals and made it far more difficult to meet quotas. In addition, many industries that were once more service related have become more focused on price competitiveness. If you’re in sales, it’s critical to remember the basics that help you achieve your sales goals even when competing with a lower price and Internet sales.

  1. Retention. If you sell anything that offers the possibility for repeat sales, retaining your customers is critical. It costs much less to keep a customer than to look for a new one. Customer service, follow up and attention to details will help you keep the customers you have.
  1. Trust. If you are trustworthy, customers want to buy from you. Be sure that you follow some simple rules when it comes to dealing with customers. Tell the truth and represent your product accurately. Do what you say you’ll do. Follow up and readily provide information.
  1. Knowledge. Become an expert in your field. People want to buy from someone who knows more than they about the product they seek. They want you to be able to handle this part of their life from them, and they’ll often walk away if you don’t know the technical answers.
  1. Be a fixture in your industry and your community. The key to keeping a pipeline of prospects is to work to being the name that comes to mind when people in your territory need what you sell. Know your territory and invest in that community. The more people see your face and associate you with caring about your product, your customer and your community, the more likely they will be to seek you out when they need what you sell.
  1. Create connections. There is no substitute for being able to connect with people. Hone this skill so that you become someone people want to buy from. Believe in your product and be your authentic self, as most folks can spot a phony a mile away. It’s not about being a slick salesperson; it’s about a human connection that makes people want to do business with you.

All of these traits transcend industry and type of sales. When you can master these traits, you’ll be able to compete regardless of how competitive your industry becomes.

 

Leading By Example by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Leaders often do a lot of talking. We speak at meetings, we train, we motivate and encourage our employees. We also spend time talking about what we expect from those employees. images

If you want to have those expectations met, however, you must, as the saying goes “walk the walk, not just talk the talk”. It’s not uncommon for people in positions of power to expect others to behave in a certain way, yet fail to behave that way themselves.

If you’re a business leader, there is simply no substitute for “walking the walk”.  When you behave the way you expect others to behave you immediately gain credibility with others, who will see you as being more authentic. You will gain the respect of your employees. You demonstrate that you are the “real deal”.

You’ll also find that when you model the behavior you’d like to see in your team, they are more likely to display those behaviors, too. Leading by example motivates your employees to be the best version of themselves. Employees become more of a team when everyone begins to model the appropriate behaviors, too.

When employees have a boss who leads by example and expects nothing of others that he or she would not do himself or herself, they become more open to taking on new challenges. They strive to do the best job that they can, because demonstrating their capability and loyalty becomes important.

Take a hard look at your own behavior at work, and list those things you expect others to do, but fail to follow through on yourself.  It’s not always easy to see our own shortfalls, but doing so is the only way to grow as a leader and a person. Whether it’s something as small as ensuring you get to work on time, or something bigger like structuring your calendar or devoting time to an outside charity, you will begin to become the best version of yourself when you consistently model this behavior. You’ll feel it, and others will see it.

We’ve all known a legendary leader at some time in our life. They were honest, hardworking and dedicated to their cause. These are the people we remember and respect. Do your best to become one of those leaders by making sure you always “walk the walk”.

 

Change it Up by Cindy Stradling CSP< CPC

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No matter how much you love your job, there are undoubtedly parts of it that you don’t particularly like. It’s inevitable that every job comes with some routines that you find to be boring or annoying. Yet, you know that the work cannot be accomplished without performing these mundane tasks.

None of us can avoid having the mundane tasks that go along with our jobs, and we can’t always delegate these to other people, either. So, to make the job a little better, find ways to change up your routines, so that these don’t seem so daunting.Change-it-Up-Version1-1080x675

There are several ways to change up your routines. Some are as simple as performing the tasks in a different location or at a different time. For example, how awful can it be to look over the accounting records for the month if you can do it from your back deck instead of your desk in the office? Maybe staying home one morning a month to perform this routine task in one of your favorite spots is enough to make it more palatable.

You may also look for new ways to perform these tasks that you don’t enjoy. Finding a new process for your routine tasks can make them easier to stomach. In addition, finding a new process may also help you to find ways to increase efficiency. The simple act of reevaluating a routine may be exactly what you need to discover a new, more efficient, or simpler way of getting the job done. When you can find a new way to handle an old process, you might find it’s no longer so daunting. Since new technologies are introduced to the business world every day, there may even be automation you can apply to a task you currently perform manually.

Don’t get bogged down in the details of tasks you don’t enjoy. Yes, these tasks are required, and, no, they’re not your favorite part of your job. But, when you reevaluate them periodically, and change up your routines, you may find ways to make these mundane tasks a little bit easier to accomplish.

Are Your Employees Really Engaged? by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Every employee has good days and bad ones. But, too many bad ones may mean that your employee has lost their mojo. It’s not unusual to find employees experiencing a bit of burnout and failing to be as engaged as usual.index

As a business owner or manager, it’s important to quickly recognize when your employees are less engaged than usual. You may notice habits like missing work more frequently, or you may notice an employee making more mistakes than usual. It can even be as simple as the employee not having their usual positive attitude or failing to provide the customer service you expect from your employees.

Once you have identified that an employee is less engaged than normal, it is important to address the issue quickly. The longer the problem persists, the more the employee is to grow dissatisfied with their job. In addition, their lack of engagement will affect your business, either through sales, quality or customer satisfaction.

Sometimes the problem can be solved with a little time off, or a simple change in tasks. Once employees become bored with their day to day routines, a break in that routine can be very welcome and can be just what is needed to get them back on track.

In some cases, the employee is ready to move to a different position permanently, in order to grow as an employee. As a boss, it’s part of your job to try and recognize when employees are ready for more responsibility and to provide regular challenges to help them grow in their careers. Employees who know they will be constantly challenged and rewarded for their efforts are less likely to be disgruntled.

Offering an incentive or a contest may help if you have several employees who are feeling bored with their job routines. Such programs can generate excitement and healthy competition that makes the workplace a little more interesting.

Keeping your employees engaged is one great way to ensure your business provides your customers with the experience they desire. It’s also a great way to ensure your employees stay happy at work, so your team thrives on all the challenges you’ll face as you grow.

Conquer the Mid-Day Lull by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Do you find yourself hitting a bit of a “wall”’ around 3:00 in the afternoon? This period, about halfway between lunch and dinner can be one of the most difficult times of the day for many people.images2

The lull you feel at this time of day can reduce productivity and make you feel bad, as well. You can waste a lot of time staring at projects and struggling to complete them. Here are some simple ways to conquer this mid-day lull.

Take a walk. If you’re like most people, you know what time of day that wall will hit. Before you feel overwhelmed by it, get up and get out of the office for a few minutes. A little fresh air and exercise may be all it takes to help you feel refreshed.

Schedule an activity. If you have something interesting planned for your “off” time of day, it can be easier to get through. For example, schedule your absolute favorite task of your job during this time of day, so that you begin to look forward to it, rather than dreading it. Whatever you do, don’t schedule a boring meeting during this time of day.

Ensure you’re well rested and well fed. Sometimes, your mid-day lull is a result of fatigue. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you won’t be your most productive at any time of the day, and you’ll particularly feel it during your mid-day lull. You’ll also exacerbate the mid-day lull if you don’t eat regularly. Be sure to eat regular meals, but don’t eat a heavy, carbohydrate laden lunch, as this may make you feel even more tired.

Change up your routine. Mundane tasks can make any time of day seem like a lull.  new ways to complete your least favorite tasks can help you stay more positive about the parts of your job you don’t love. If you have any of those mundane tasks scheduled during your mid-day lull, move these to a time of day when you feel more positive.

The mid-day lull is normal, but it doesn’t have to ruin your afternoon or make you less productive. When you know the lull is coming, and plan ways to overcome it, you can ensure that tiring time of day is as productive and happy as any other part of your work day.

Why Vacations Are Not Wasted Time by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Recently, when dining out at a restaurant, I overheard the man at the table next to me comment about how he hadn’t taken a vacation day from work in three years. I use the term “comment” loosely, as the tone of his voice indicated he was actually bragging about this fact. He wore it like a badge of honor, as though it made him a better employee, or a better person.

Success at work is important to most people. However, it’s important to have a definition of success that goes beyond how many hours you put in at the office. In fact, some would argue that those who work incessantly are inefficient, as well as lacking the balance in their lives that help them see an alternative of perspectives.summerfun

Taking regular vacations is one of the most important things you can do for your sense of balance, your perspective and your overall well being. Here are three reasons taking a vacation can be good for your work life.

  1. You get physical rest. People who don’t take vacation are more prone to fatigue and have a weakened immune system. Even if your vacation is spent at home, you’ll get the chance to rest up and rejuvenate your body.
  1. You get a mental break. Your mind will benefit from the rest you receive by thinking about things that aren’t work related. This break can give you renewed focus and enthusiasm when you return to work.
  1. You gain perspective. Taking vacation gives you time to see the world outside the focus of work. This can often open your mind up to the kind of “thinking outside the box” that helps you to solve problems creatively and develop innovative ideas that can help your business.
  1. You increase your own level of happiness. There are people who love to work, and who thrive on getting the job done. However, the healthiest people from both a physical and mental perspective are those who have interests and relationships outside of work and who make nurturing those a priority. When you increase your own level of happiness, you will become more productive at work and you will be a person that others want to work with.

So, if you’ve neglected to take your vacation time, schedule some time off right away, and make a plan to use that time for mental and physical rest and relaxation. You’re sure to find that you’re even better at your job after some time away.

Are You Getting Enough? by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Sleep, that is. Many people look for all sorts of ways to improve their productivity without ever realizing that they might be inadvertently reducing their productivity by burning the proverbial candle at both ends. sleep4

Sleep deprivation can cause a lot of problems, and can interfere with out ability to get things done. When we’re tired, we work more slowly and we make more mistakes. We can also be indecisive, feeling that every decision we make is a big deal. In addition, we may have poor judgment, so those decisions we make may not be good ones. Lack of sleep significantly affects our brains, causing lack of focus and clarity.

Over time, lack of sleep can also lead to health problems. When we don’t get enough rest, our immune system is compromised, so we’re more likely to catch colds and other viruses.

Lack of sleep also negatively affects our moods, making us irritable and cranky. We find ourselves unable to enjoy the things we used to, which leads to further stress, and, potentially difficulty sleeping.

Our bodies need between six and nine hours of sleep each night. Experiment with both the short and long end of that amount, and see how much sleep makes you feel best. Once you’ve determined where your body functions optimally, aim to get that amount of sleep each night. A good sign that you’re getting the right amount of sleep is when you wake up just before the alarm goes off.

If you don’t get enough sleep because you suffer from insomnia, try natural remedies, like essential oils or breathing exercises to help you fall asleep more easily. If these don’t work, talk to your doctor about other methods to help you get back into a natural sleep pattern.

Ensuring you get plenty of sleep is a simple way to help ensure you stay healthy and productive. You’ll think more clearly and make better and faster decisions. You may have become accustomed to being tired, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t suffering negative effects because of it. Take the time and the steps you need to get enough rest to ensure you function at your very best.

Building Resilience – Tips for Getting Through Tough Times by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Every facet of life brings challenges, though it’s true that some periods of our life are more challenging than others. It’s said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so we can take comfort that we can come out of challenges stronger on the other side. resilience4

During the tough times, it’s important to have coping skills that can help you weather the storms, whether these are in your work life or your personal life. Here are some tips to help you get through the challenges you face now, and to make you more resilient for challenges that lie ahead.

  1. Focus on one day at a time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we try to tackle too much of a challenging situation at once. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is take the steps we need to get through today, or to make the next decision that impacts our current challenge. Then, work on figuring out another challenge tomorrow.
  1. Talk it out. It’s important to have a sounding board when you’re going through a tough time. Depending upon the situation, you may need a business mentor, a friend with a listening ear, or a professional counselor. The worst thing you can do is hold it all in. Even if talking provides no tangible advice, you’ll feel better by getting your feelings and fears out in the open.
  1. Use the challenge to create a learning situation. If your business is having trouble, consider taking a class or getting a business mentor to teach you some new skills. If you have financial troubles, choose a book to teach you new investment or money saving skills. Using the challenge as a learning opportunity will give you new skills and help you know that you are doing everything in your power to work through the situation.

 

  1. Work on your issues daily, but don’t obsess over them. Worry does nothing to solve problems, but does a great deal of harm to your psyche. Learning to relax and get your challenges off your mind periodically will help you keep your sanity, and help you have the clarity needed to face your challenges sensibly.

 

Use these tips to help you ensure you’re using every challenge to teach you and make you a better leader and a better person.

To Err is Human by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Mistakes are part of life. We all work to minimize our mistakes, but even so, these happen on a regular basis. All too often, we get far too focused on mistakes, and our focus tends to be in the wrong place. Learning to look at mistakes differently can help you to use your mistakes for growth. Consider these questions as you look at your own mistakes and those of your employees. images2

  1. Was it avoidable? If the mistake was avoidable, you may have a training issue. Take a look to see if you (or the employee making the mistake) has been thoroughly trained on how to perform the task at hand. If training isn’t the issue, look at whether the employee has too many tasks on their plate, or has a distraction that is impeding their ability to focus.
  1. Did it uncover something important? Sometimes mistakes lead to innovation. For example, the “post it” note that we all use regularly was invented as the result of a glue recipe gone wrong. Sometimes it’s all about perspective.
  1. What can you learn from it? In addition to finding a training or workload issue, or uncovering a cool new product, there are other things you can learn from mistakes. You are learning how “not” to do things, which is the first step to learning how to do things. In the early days of running a new business, you will make a lot of mistakes. Just be sure you’re working toward getting better and not making the same mistakes over and over. If you learn from your mistakes, these become tools that can help you improve your processes.
  1. How bad was it, really? Sometimes our fear of making mistakes holds us back from taking risks. Once you’ve failed a few times, however, you begin to realize that it isn’t always as bad as you imagined it might be. As long as you’re learning from the mistake, you’re seeing opportunity for growth.

Mistakes are inevitable, but how you handle mistakes makes all the difference in your growth and opportunity as a business leader. When you look at each mistake as an opportunity to improve yourself, your employees, and your organization, those mistakes can be some of the most beneficial learning experiences of your week.

Silence is Golden by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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As a busy professional, it’s a good bet that you always have a task or a problem vying for your attention. But, did you know that you may be negatively impacting your ability to effectively deal with those tasks and problems simply by letting too much come at you at once?

The workplace today is stressful, at best. Often times, however, we create more stress than need be by letting allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed and failing to give ourselves indexthe down time we need. Here are some tips to help you manage your tasks and issues effectively and calmly.

  1. Take one thing at a time. At times, you may feel like you spend a lot of time putting out fires. But, even when the fires come at you in multiples, you can only put these out one at a time. Taking each issue on its own will allow you to think more clearly about it, leading you to make a better decision. In fact, by slowing down and making a better decision about that fire, you may prevent it popping up again.
  1. Use stress relief techniques. If you find that you feel stress or anxiety symptoms when dealing with a barrage of issues, use traditional stress relief techniques like taking deep breaths or meditating for a few minutes before dealing with the issue.
  1. Take time out. Don’t underestimate the benefits of taking down time. Business is busy, overwhelming and noisy, and can sometimes be overstimulating. Taking time to relax with your family, rest, and do the things that you enjoy can help you be better mentally prepared to deal with the next crisis when it arises. Schedule your down time just like you would an important meeting so that you don’t neglect it. Regular breaks provide the most benefit. These don’t need to be a week in Tahiti to be effective, either. A date night out or an afternoon spent on your favorite hobby is often enough, as long as it’s done regularly.
  1. Knowledge is power. Learn as much as you can about problems that are likely to arise in your business before these happen. When you’re well informed, and know the options for handling common situations before you’re faced with these, they will seem less overwhelming when they do arise.

By minding these tips, you should be better equipped to handle whatever problems your business throws at you, and to maintain your composure while doing so!