Tero Book of the Month Blogs
How To Take More Action and Stop Procrastinating
Friday, March 3, 2017
Why do we say we will "do it later"? Whatever 'it' may be. It might be a new workout program, starting a new business, or following up with a client. We all do it. In many cases, the thing we say we will do, never gets done - and we know it won't get done from the beginning.
What would it mean to our success if we would just take action immediately?
Do It! Let's Get Off Our Buts is a book written by Peter McWilliams and talks about how individuals can stop procrastinating and to take more action.
McWilliams says that if you can do something about the 'it' now, do it. And if it can't be done now, (a) decide if it is going to get done. If yes, (b) choose when it will get done.
By having a plan and giving yourself a specific deadline (i.e. next week) to accomplish the task, you will have a greater probability to get it done. That way, you can make the task more tangible and hold yourself accountable.
We are always developing habits - for good or for bad. If we continue to push things off as they come, we are hardwiring ourselves to be procrastinators. McWilliams has a great point when it comes to getting in the habit of taking action:
"Getting in the habit of doing what needs to be done as it presents itself to be done - whether it needs to be done in that moment or not - creates an inner freedom for the next moment, the next activity."
We look at procrastination in terms of our communication. Having a tough conversation with an employee. Or preparing to give a presentation for a new strategy that could save the company thousands.
In many cases, we are scared to step out of our comfort zone. But, as we know, our comfort zone is not where growth happens.
The easiest time to take care of something is right away. It will only get harder from there. The longer we wait, the more daunting the task will be - it is as if the task is growing bigger and more terrifying by the day.
Don't wait for the perfect moment. There is no better time than right away.
Say No Without Saying No
Friday, February 3rd, 2017
"To survive and thrive, every human being and every organization needs to be able to say No to anything that threatens their safety, dignity, and integrity."
Saying "no" defines who you are. We all can think of a time when we wanted to say no, but couldn't because we didn't have the courage to. Often times it might be the word "no" that is hard to say.
Think about a time recently or forecast a future event where you had to (or will have to) say "no". Whether it is your boss, a client or even a friend. We often think that by saying no, we will ruin the relationship. No is a very strong word to most people. However, in many cases, you can say no without saying no to lessen the burden. Bear with us.
In the book, The Power of A Positive No, William Ury explains how to accomplish just that: say no without saying no. The author asks to consider the following examples as you start to frame your mindset to this type of communicating:
- In the middle of a medical consultation, a five-year-old girl insists to her father that she wants to leave. "Honey, we are going to stay," quietly responds the father.
- In a bid to bring the price down, a customer insists on un-bundling the product that the cleaning company provides, separating the cleaning products from the training and management services. "Our product comes as a package," replies the company rep.
- Faced with a barrage of angry insults across the telephone from a key investor, the hotel executive says calmly, "Peter, we'll call you back tomorrow," and hangs up the phone.
As you can see in these examples, the speaker didn't verbally say "no", but the no was implied. As long as the intention is defined and clearly spoken, we need not always say the word.
Being aware of the feelings of others is critical to success in the workplace and our personal lives. Although some of us feel comfortable being stern and firm, it might come off hurtful to the listener.
As with anything, there is always a balance. We don't want to be too soft to the point where the listener feels we are sending confusing messages, or too hard where we might harm the relationship.
If used right, this is a good practice to apply in a variety of situations, without harming the relationship.
Be The Person Everyone Admires
Friday, January 6th, 2017
If you have been to a Tero workshop, or heard research on what makes one person more successful than the next, you know that communication matters. Not email communication, or chatting on FB, Twitter, Snapchat or another social media. We are talking about face-to-face meaningful conversations. As our world becomes more digital, our need to become a better listener, influencer, conflict-resolver or connector - is even greater.
Human interaction cannot be replaced and is what differentiates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. It is what makes humans, humans. You are certainly someone who cares about bettering your ability to communicate because you chose to read this blog.
We want to give a few quick takeaways that you can add today, to have more success in your relationships - both current and potential. Just read a book called, How To Talk To Anyone by Leil Lowndes. Interesting book by the way if you are looking for a quick, valuable read.
Think about this quote for a minute:
Those who walk into a room and say,
"Well, here I am!"
And those who walk in and say,
"Ahh, there you are."
How often do we forget this philosophy in our networking, conversations with clients, friends or family? We would be 100x more successful focusing and enjoying the other person, over trying to impress and inflate our own ego and agendas.
Here are a few more tips you can start using today from the book, How To Talk To Anyone:
- Always say what you are thankful for: Never let the phrase "thank you" stand alone. Always follow with a "Thank you for opening the door" or "Thank you for introducing me to Eric".
- When you don't know about something, ask questions: Not just any questions. Open-ended questions. For instance, if someone says, "I went spelunking last weekend for the first time", you can say, "What's involved in spelunking?". Which will create more of a conversation than if you were to ask, "Was it fun?".
*Click here for more tips on how to ask open-ended questions.
- Empathize without just saying "yep, uh huh, yeah": your empathy impresses your listeners and encourages them to continue rather than be turned-off. Saying things like "I see what you mean" or "That's a wonderful thing to say" goes a long way.
- To be interesting you have to do more: this is a simple one, yet we often don't work on this area. Think about the person that has all the great stories about traveling the world and doing things you only dreamed of. Think about how memorable and engaging that person is. Every once in a while, make it a priority to try something new. Try a new sport, go to a concert, pick up a new hobby. The more diverse you are, the more you can connect and engage someone else.
There are a lot of small tweaks to how we interact with people. Tweaks that will make us more likeable, more engaging, successful or memorable. To be the person you wish you were, you must put in the effort and seek knowledge to close the gap.
Tero prides ourselves on putting together leading research to take people from where they are at to where they want to go as a communicator. But, the person needs to take the research and do the heavy lifting to transform.
Seek out the best knowledge, and put it into action immediately, and you will find yourself becoming the person everyone admires.
Understanding Yourself Might Be The Hardest Thing You Do
Friday, December 2nd, 2016
- Peter Drucker, Managing Oneself
It's interesting to think about all of the choices we have nowadays. We can hop in a car and get (virtually) any type of food we want in a reasonable time. We spend hours perusing cell phone stores to get the perfect phone, with the right data package to fit our needs. Of course, that is after we spent hours at home doing research and checking reviews.
Years ago we didn't have any options. We had what we had. The same is true about our lives ages ago compared to now. I was reading the book, Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker and he said something that brought all of this into perspective:
Throughout history, people had little need to know their strengths. A person was born into a position and a line of work: The peasant's son would also be a peasant; the artisan's daughter, an artisan's wife; and so on. But now people have choices. We need to know our strengths in order to know where we belong.
Think about that for a moment. And think about if you can confidently say you know exactly what you are good at and should be doing. Most of us (as Drucker mentions above) are wrong. We don't know where our strengths lie.
So how do we find out what we are good at? Feedback analysis. Which, a portion should come from other people. Unfortunately, most people are not honest enough with us in an attempt to avoid conflict.
What Drucker suggests is that whenever we make a key decision or action, we write down what we expect will happen. Nine or 12 months later, compare the actual results with expectations. Doing this consistently will begin to reveal what we are good (and not so good) at. It might sound simple (and a bit elementary) but it is a good barometer to get our thinking started.
Knowing yourself is critical to personal and professional success. It is perhaps one of the most difficult task any of us faces. We at Tero like to use an assessment you may have taken - the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is used to understand our naturally tendencies - which we use in a program we call Self-Knowledge and Self-Awareness.
The MBTI helps us begin gaining knowledge of self, to help us start building on our strengths, while recognizing that strength done to excess can become a weakness, and begin developing a plan of action to address skill gaps.
Why Your Networking Should Be Like the News
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2016
"In today's world, people are the product and information is the currency."
Connections are what makes the world go round. Many might say the more connections we make, the more successful we become - both in our career and personal lives. The quote above becomes more relevant by the day. We are walking, talking brands - for the better or worse. Accompanied with brands being everywhere, is information. We want to be entertained, we want to be inspired, we want to learn something new. We are consumers.
As brands, it is in our best interest to do just that - entertain, inspire, be a source for insight. It makes for better small talk and is an often overlooked key ingredient for developing connections.
How You Can Make Better Small Talk
In the book, Great Connections by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon, is a great comparison on improving our small talk. We all want to come across as interesting and they have come up with a perspective you should consider to accomplish that.
Baber and Waymon approach small talk like the news. Here are several bullets on what makes news stories interesting:
Timeliness (When did it happen? This is the "new" in newsworthy.)
Proximity (How close is it? Look for local angle and whether it affects your interests.)
Impact (How will it affect you?)
Consequence (How big will the results be? What will happen next?)
Oddity or Unusualness (How strange or out-of-the-ordinary is it?)
Emotion/Sex/Instincts (Does it relate to basic human needs?)
Conflict (Does it involve opposing forces, different points of view?)
Progress (Does it indicate that things have changed?)
Prominence (Does it involve well-known people or places?)
Think about the last article, podcast, video, blog or another media piece that you can remember. Why do you remember it? Do you see any similarities with the points above?
It doesn't require finding something that fits into all of the above categories. Your topics will be interesting if you involve one or two of the news values.
Connecting with anyone is about finding common ground. Finding something you both share and is a unique conversation only you two can have. Focusing on the other person, asking them open-ended questions and being naturally curious about who they are should be your main focus.
With that being said, when it is your turn to talk, tying in a "news report" strategy is a great element to make all your interactions and conversations more interesting and better remembered.
If you are looking for more tips on being a successful and polished networker, click the button below for a video we produced on the properly planning for a networking event.
Why Your Fears Become an Unbreakable Addiction
Friday, October 7th, 2016
You might be getting in the way of your own success. You might be getting in the way of overcoming fears. You might be creating barriers that may not even exist.
How many times have you said, "I can't"?
Probably more than you can take the time to count. Sometimes this is an automatic response to facing our fears. Think of your biggest fear. If someone was to ask you to conquer it, would you say you couldn't? Is it impossible? Or is it something you will simply not attempt?
Where Our Fears Stem From
We have all heard the fight or flight response before. It's a hard-wired, chemical reaction we have when faced with a life-threatening scenario. The most amazing part is it is triggered in social situations as well. We feel our life is in danger when we are about to give a presentation, lead a meeting, and call a potential client. The thought of failing in these situations is everything in our worst nightmares.
We all have those types of fears, holding us back because we sway towards the "flight" side of the spectrum. And, like anything, the more we say we cannot do something, the greater, more intimidating those fears become. Our thoughts have a very powerful impact on our body, mind, and emotions.
In the book, You Can't Afford The Luxury Of a Negative Thought, Author Peter McWilliams says, "For many, negative thinking is a habit which, over time, becomes an addiction. It's a disease, like alcoholism, compulsive overeating, or drug abuse."
Think about that for a moment. Negative thinking can become an addiction. And, like an addiction, we need to first acknowledge that it is a problem:
"I know I should present this new, fresh idea to my team, but I am afraid they won't like it or my presenting abilities will be ridiculed."
Many people know what they should be doing, and it is the crippling fear that refrains them from taking action and executing.
Can a Fear Be Broken Down?
Sometimes our fears have gotten so big, it feels impossible to try and tackle. The best way to take action right away is by taking a series of small steps. This will lead to momentum that will propel you into facing your fear head-on. In this presenting scenario, you might try to pitch the idea in the comfort of your own home. Then to a close friend or family member. Then try pitching to a stranger. Once you start feeling more comfortable, you will start to switch from the mindset of, "I can't", to "I might", to "I can".
Small actions, lead to small wins, which starts re-hardwiring your brain to think positively that what you are about to attempt is, in fact, possible.
There is always going to be something we fear and causes discomfort to even think about. There is a quote online that goes, "A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there." More often than not (at least in terms of your career) this feeling of discomfort means you should be taking it on - whatever that may be.
We cannot count how many people have come through our IMPACT: How To Speak Your Way To Success workshop nervous, and deathly afraid. And, the same amount of people left feeling empowered and confident in themselves and their ability to present more effectively. It is safe to say, the more you face your fears, the greater the comfort you will feel in the long-term.
5 Techniques to Prevent Killing Your Brain
Thursday, September 1st, 2016
If you want to prevent memory loss and increase your mental fitness, this blog is for you. Start by thinking about how much of your life is a fixed routine. Your commute to work, lunch appointments, meetings, your weekend plans. Can you put a percentage on it? Presumably high.
Let's preface this by saying routines are not necessarily bad. Routines provide predictability and structure to our lives. But, when almost everything is routine, we are not providing enough brain exercise. Which is essentially killing your brain.
An Active Brain is a Healthy Brain
By doing what is called Neurobics, we can exercise our brain much like we do by going to the gym for our bodies. Here is the best part: it doesn't need to take much of your time and can be incorporated into your day quite easily. Lawrence C. Katz and Manning Rubin, authors of Keep Your Brain Alive, define Neurobics as:
"A scientifically based program that helps you modify your behavior by introducing the unexpected to your brain and enlisting the aid of all your senses as you go through your day."
The book, Keep Your Brain Alive, walks through 83 Neurobic exercises. Here are 5 you can start today:
#1. Brushing Roulette
Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. You can substitute any morning activity as well - styling your hair, shaving, applying makeup, buttoning clothes, eating, or even texting.
This exercise requires you to use the opposite side of your brain. The brain areas involved in using your dominant hand are inactive, while their counterparts on the other side of your brain are suddenly required to direct a set of behaviors which they usually don't participate.
#2. Blaze New Trails
Take a different route to work. If you're driving, open the windows to help construct a new mental map. If you walk to work, the Neurobic possibilities are even greater.
On your routine commute, the brain goes on automatic pilot and gets little stimulation or exercise. An unfamiliar route activates the cortex and hippocampus to integrate novel sights, smells, and sounds you encounter into a new brain map.
#3. Be Social
Building off the last point, don't miss opportunities to be social on your commute. Need gas? Pay the cashier at the counter rather than swiping your credit card at the pump. Stop at a new place for coffee. While you're getting coffee, strike up a conversation with someone.
Scientific research has repeatedly proved that social deprivation has severe negative effects on overall cognitive abilities.
#4. Take Brain Breaks
Coffee and lunch breaks give you time for mental stretching. And social interaction. Try a fifteen-minute walk outside. It will invigorate your body, clear your mind, and open doors to real-world sensory stimulation. Even better would be to have a coworker tag along.
#5. Start A New Hobby
The best hobbies use several different senses in non-routine ways. Here are a couple examples of how to accomplish that:
- Master a new gadget: a computer, video camera, or musical instrument.
- Fly fishing: puts you in a novel sensory environment (river), requires you to think like a fish and pay attention to the time of day, feel of the water, and types of insects around you. You might also try archery, photography, woodworking or cooking which would accomplish the same goal.
Most of our lives are spent being unconscious to many things. Just going with the flow. We need to get out of our comfort zones to keep us fresh and sharp. We speak to a similar point when developing interpersonal skills. While it is sometimes hard to learn new things, they don't have to take up a lot of our time. Consistently making small tweaks, leads to a big pay-off.
Cut Meetings In Half and Get Twice the Value
Thursday, August 4th, 2016
We have all heard the phrase, "teamwork makes the dream work" coined by John C. Maxwell back in 2002. We have seen the automobile industry boom because of specialized machines working together in harmony, leading to higher productivity and quality. We have functional teams, cross-functional teams, leadership teams, virtual teams, strategic teams. There are teams for just about anything and everything.
Our perception of teams (or at least our hope), is by pooling together individuals with a variety of ideas, expertise, experience and personality - we can produce at a higher level than the individuals alone. In other words, 1 + 1 = 3. We hope.
In reality, teams might not be as high-performing as we desire. Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, authors of Top Dog, report,
"Teams are not automatically better than the sum of their parts. They are often worse. This is termed as 'collaborative inhibition' or 'process loss'. Sixty-two percent of software projects are delivered late. Forty-nine percent are over budget." They go on to cite more research on the subject, "According to University of North Carolina professor Brad Staats, productivity per person can drop 40% even on a small team."
Why Are Teams Not Effective?
Most workers are on multiple teams at once. Workers have several projects fighting for their attention. They also chew up time by meeting too much, and for too long. On the other hand, the rise of virtual teams has created too little meetings and lacks structure and team relationships. Here are more reasons teams struggle:
- Worried that teammates are "along for the ride" rather than contributing
- Team members steal credit from others' work
- They talk too much
- Communication is dominated by fewer people, making longer soliloquies
What Makes a Successful Team?
There is a certain chemistry. Every team member knows what to do, how to do it, and is focused on a singular, defined objective agreed upon by the team. Each member is able to predict the moves of the other members without being told. They are on the same wave-length. Successful teams also:
- Communicate in short, concise sentences
- Communication is reciprocal
- Trust that each member will give their best effort
- Challenge each other's perspectives and efforts
There are a variety of complexities that need to be figured out to make a team run. You are battling with a variety of personality types, ways of doing things, expectations, and how they view deadlines. Without chemistry and having everyone on the same "page" - it is easy to see why teams waste valuable time. Time we cannot get back.
How many meetings have you been in today? What would it mean for your time and team's success if you could cut meetings in half and get twice the value? (Here is a link on 10 guidelines for improving meeting effectiveness.)
While there are a number of complexities to creating an exceptional team (none of which we have time to touch on) - one quick fix to implement today is the process of how meetings are held. Make the most of your time, it is limited.
Are You Following Up Enough?
Friday, July 8th, 2016
"We live in a fast-paced, digital world that bombards us with information. Our in-boxes are a constant procession of new and old names demanding our attention. Our brains are in constant overdrive trying to keep track of all the bits and bytes and names that cross our desk each and every day."
This is a snippet from Keith Ferrazi's New York Times Bestselling Book, Never Eat Alone. We are reminded of how quickly our world is changing. We are also reminded of how many things there are to keep track of. People, meetings, passwords, bills to pay. We are training ourselves to become machines. Efficient machines at that.
Why are we not machines when it comes to following-up? Think about how many people you've met in the past month and how many of those you could see developing into a business relationship? A personal relationship? Surely more than a handful. Now, how many of those individuals did you follow up with? Most likely less than a handful.
Let's take a look from the other side. How many of those potential contacts followed up with you? Probably less than a handful. What would it mean for your network of connections if you were the person to follow-up? It would instantly set you apart from 95 percent of people by sending a simple email the next day or within 48 hours.
Being a person who follows up will help you succeed in any field. While we would suggest using a handwritten letter, an email is a whole lot better than nothing at all.
What Should Be Included In a Follow-up?
Ferrazi suggests some great reminders for a successful follow-up:
- Always express your gratitude
- Be sure to include an item of interest from your meeting or conversation
- Reaffirm whatever commitments you both made
- Be brief and to the point
- Always address the person by name
- After e-mailing, send requests to connect through social media
- Timeliness is key. Send them as soon as possible after the meeting or interview
- Don-t forget to follow up with those who have acted as the go-between for you and someone else.
We reiterate the importance of following up. It is amazing how many people we meet in a day and seem to forget the follwing next day. Following-up provides an opportunity to connect on a deeper level and will get passed the (sometimes) superficial stage. Connecting after an event or even after a person you met at a local coffee shop will show you are a true professional and will help you stand out from the majority.
We created a short video on how you can connect and present yourself professionally in the networking arena. If you can connect better at the event, the other person will be more willing to meet up with you after an initial follow-up. Good luck!
Standing on the far end of a 20' x 12' foot hardwood platform, gazing out into dozens of piercing bright lights, you start to make out hundreds of unfamiliar faces and anticipatory looks. As the introducer calls your name and signals your appearance, you walk slowly (yet confidently) towards center and prepare yourself for a performance.
Is this your idea of a presentation? Maybe it is, maybe you have a variation of this idea in your head of what a presentation feels like in your world.
What if we were to tell you that you make a presentation every day? Would you believe us? It isn't uncommon for people to believe that the only presentations they will give are formal ones like the description above. It isn't uncommon for people to believe there needs to be a date, time, location and PowerPoint deck for a presentation. And it isn't uncommon for people to believe their job position doesn't require them to give "presentations".
What You Should Believe
You should believe that at any moment in the day, you might be giving a presentation. That an informal conversation with your boss, attending a luncheon, or helping a client solve a problem, require you to present.
An interesting snippet from the book Talk Like Ted, by Carmine Gallo will illustrate this point further:
"You might never see a TED stage, but you're selling yourself all the time. If you're an entrepreneur pitching investors or a software vendor pitching yourself in a trade-show booth, you're giving a presentation. If you're a job candidate pitching yourself to a recruiter or a CEO pitching a new product to customers, you're giving a presentation. A TED talk can be the presentation of a life-time for many people, but your daily business presentations are often just as important for your career or company."
The way you hold yourself, how much eye contact you make, using gestures - it is important at any given point in the day and no matter the situation.
We have long tried to show people how skills learned in the IMPACT: How To Speak Your Way To Success workshop are transferable to much more than formal presentations. There is calibration moving from a formal presentation to a planning meeting at a table. For example, we wouldn't want to use large, exaggerating gestures, but to calibrate using smaller, abbreviated gestures. Learning and harnessing effective body language techniques are crucial to everyone's career and success.
You might be interested in a short video we did on keeping people engaged for your next "presentation".
Nobody Is Interested In What You Have To Say
Wednesday, May 4th, 2016
It seems so simple, yet we often forget. Why is it that we talk so much of ourselves? On and on we go about all the great things we have done, or are about to do. Our house, our cars, our vacations, our kids, our weekend plans. As Carnegie says in How To Win Friends & Influence People, "people are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems."
When you think of your clients, when you think of your employees, when you think of strangers, acquaintances, relatives, the cashier - are you quick to talk about yourselves? And slow to understand the other person?
Some people think that they are charismatic enough, interesting enough to 'win' over the attention of someone else - with a detailed story or a witty remark. Surely that could work. But why would you always play against the odds? If people are a hundred times more interested in themselves, it is in your best interest to give them exactly what they want.
It might sound counterintuitive, but (in most cases) the less you talk, the more another person is engaged.
We cover much of this in our selling programs illustrating the traditional salesperson who is focused on, 'sell, sell, sell' and not enough on what a potential (or current) client wants. We fail to (fully) understand the client's wants and often results in an unsuccessful relationship. We like how Carnegie puts this principle, "Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves."
Unfortunately being an effective listener isn't something they taught us in school. We created a video on how you can become an effective listener that ties well with this discussion.
The Fastest Way to Boost Your Confidence
Friday, April 1st, 2016
We have countless opportunities to be powerful. Equally, we have countless opportunities to be powerless. It is in our hands which side of the coin we choose. Feeling powerful is uplifting, energizing, bold - it will make you feel bigger than life. Powerless can make you feel defeated, inferior, demoralized.
We probably couldn't name a person that wants to feel demoralized over the feeling of being bigger than life. That is a given.
It isn't that we choose to be powerless, we just don't always know how to get to a position of power. We would like to share some research introduced by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, on the topic of power and small tweaks you can make to increase your confidence in situations where you might come out deflated, anxious, nervous, or flat out scared.
Cuddy has one of the most viewed and recommended TED Talks and wrote a book titled, Presence. Her research looks at how our body language influences our mindset.
Our Bodies Tell Us How To Think and Feel
In Presence, the research is concerned with the idea of how our thoughts and bodies are connected. Specifically, can our body language influence our thoughts?
We believe that how we feel mentally or emotionally, impacts our body language. If we are sad, we close up and make ourselves smaller. If we are happy, we open our body language up and show vulnerability because we are secure. Does having strong body language when we don't feel strong, impact our feelings?
Without getting into the nitty-gritty of all the studies conducted and in simple terms: yes, we can. We are able to influence how we feel simply by our posture. Interesting research, right?
Faking Your Way To Feeling Powerful
There are a lot of places that will put us into a powerless position: an interview, meeting, a presentation, networking, cold calling, first day on a new job.
Here is a simple, yet powerful way to become just that: powerful. Cuddy calls these 'power poses' and they can give you a quick boost of confidence. Power poses are about opening your body up as much as you can. Here are a few poses you might try before you need to be more powerful:
- Reach your arms high as if you had just won a competition
- Sit back in a chair and rest your feet up onto something off the ground (be careful as this might be frowned upon in most settings)
- Lean forward and place both hands firmly on top of a desk, table or other object around waist level
- Have a wide stance and placing both arms on your hips - this is referred to as the 'super hero' pose
The general rule of thumb is to make yourself as big as possible. You can do these poses anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes. These poses will increase testosterone (be more assertive) and decrease cortisol (be less stressed).
Many people don't feel confident enough to contribute in meetings, which is a shame because they may have great ideas nobody will ever hear. The same goes with networking. We might be able to help someone out or have a great conversation, but we shy away because we lose confidence. Same goes with a hundred other situations in our personal and professional lives. Tero helps individuals have a strong voice and presence once they are in these situations. Amy Cuddy's 'power poses' are a great way to get you into the situation first.
Walk Into A Room Full of Strangers and Walk Out With a Hundred Friends
Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
Everyone wants to be magnetic. Everyone wants to be charismatic. We want to walk into a room full of strangers and leave with a hundred new friends. Some people seem to "have" it. Others don't.
While being charismatic might seem a natural ability, it isn't necessarily. Think of the most charismatic people you know personally. Sure, some may be natural, but I bet there are a handful of cases where the person worked and molded themselves into the peacock you now see today.
The best news is you too can become that peacock. While this blog won't instantly put you in a magnetic position instantly, it should serve as a base to start and to illustrate that charisma is a learned skill.
Olivia Fox Cabane lays out the basic principles or charismatic behaviors in her book, The Charisma Myth. These behaviors fall into three areas: presence, power and warmth.
This one seems to be among the hardest for most. Presence is the act of being present. Meaning, when you are talking to someone, you are fully engaged. No texting, avoid scanning the room, refrain from listening to internal conversations you are thinking about.
One of the main reasons we are distracted is because of our ancestors. Being aware of everything around us at all times was important to our survival. The other reason we are distracted is because of society and the advent of technology. We won't get into that here.
To be charismatic, you must be in the moment and actively listening to what the other person is saying.
Being seen as someone who has influence can attract a variety of people. Think of celebrities, politicians, business leaders. Power makes people listen. Where do we look for clues of power? Research says it comes from someone's appearance, in others' reaction to this person, and, most importantly, in the person's body language.
This is the stereotypical grandma greeting you with chocolate cookies. The friendly neighbor you would trust babysitting your house while you are out on vacation. Cabane says being seen as warm comes from any of the following: benevolent, altruistic, caring, or willing to impact our world in a positive way.
People determine how strong you are in each of these three categories very quickly. Instantly. This means you need to pay close attention to your body language because it bears a majority of the weight when being charismatic. Here is a snippet from The Charisma Myth you will want to remember:
"In the scope of human evolution, language is a relatively recent invention. But we've been interacting well before this through nonverbal modes of communication. As a result, nonverbal communication is hardwired into our brains, much deeper than the more recent language-processing abilities. This is why nonverbal communication has a far greater impact."
We are very much concerned with what we say verbally. We should focus more on what our bodies are saying because they speak the loudest.
Rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 in your presence, power and warmth. Which areas are you strong in? Where can you improve?
In our workshops, we talk about the first step as being unconsciously incompetent or not being aware you cannot do something. This is much the case when it comes to having a strong and favorable body language for most people. As we become aware and practice a skill, we move into unconsciously competent and the behavior is automatic without thinking. This is where many of the charismatic people you listed earlier most likely are at. It requires both the knowledge and action to make a change and is exactly why our programs are structured with hands-on learning.
2 Key Findings on Willpower and What It Means for Your Resolutions
Monday, February 1, 2016
We are now a full month into our New Year's Resolutions. What are you working on this year? Better spending habits? Working less and finding more family time? It's likely you are part of the "get in better shape" club.
Whatever it is, you might be interested in hearing research on willpower. Willpower is your greatest asset in your journey to meet all of your goals this year. Willpower is the "voice" in your head telling you after a 14-hour work day that you still have time to get on the treadmill before calling it a night. The person holding you back from eating a snickers bar after lunch. Willpower is the reason you bought only one pair of shoes instead of two - even though they were "such a good deal".
We want to bring to light two important research findings about willpower. These two findings are cited in Roy Baumeister and John Tierney's conveniently titled book, Willpower.
Willpower is finite
You can think of your willpower like a tank of gas. Every time you "will" yourself to do something (or not do something) you are burning some of your gas. When you drop down to "e", this is what psychologists call ego-depleted. When you are ego-depleted, it is incredibly hard to say no to your urges.
You have a single tank for all tasks
You might think you have a tank for eating, a tank for exercise, a tank for work, a tank for (fill the blank). This isn't the case. Your one tank encompasses all of those categories. So, if you are telling yourself throughout the day not to eat a handful of M&M's from the jar in the kitchen, you've spent a portion of your gas and have made it harder for yourself to workout tonight.
What this all means in terms of your resolutions
The research suggests we only focus on one big change (in this case resolution) at a time. If you are doing too many things, they will compete with one another - making it harder to commit to all of them. Once one change has become a habit, exercising for instance, then you can move on to learning to ski.
As a training organization, we focus on changing habits - or rewiring. Much of what is practiced in our workshops is difficult because we ask you to adjust natural tendencies you've had for longer than you can remember. Although they will make you more effective, in the beginning they can be overwhelming and draining. We tell people to focus on one thing at a time. Once you are comfortable with that one thing, focus on the next item to improve. It is easy to give up all-together if you are working on changing 5 things at the same time.
The Science To Being More Persuasive
Friday, January 1, 2016
What would you do to become more persuasive? It is required of us on a daily basis and some people are more persuasive than others. Chances are that we all have room to increase our persuasion skills.
Luckily research proves that persuasion is a science. There are guidelines, principles that will make you a more effective. Russell H. Granger provides 7 proven ways you can become more persuasive in his book The 7 Triggers To Yes.
Try incorporating these 7 triggers into your interactions:
- The Friendship Trigger - Get people to like you. Exactly how a friend would. This trigger is often a prerequisite for other triggers to be effective. People have to buy into you first.
- The Authority Trigger - Establish authority, credibility and power. You want to be perceived as an expert. You won't be trusted unless you appear like you know what you are talking about.
- The Consistency Trigger - This trigger requires some knowledge of the other person you are trying to persuade. What are their values? Spending habits? Social status? Risk Tolerance? Be consistent with their actions and behavior. An example: If they are conscious of their spending, talk about cost savings.
- The Reciprocity Trigger - We live in a society where when we receive something, we feel indebted to give back. This is why car salesman offers free coffee when you walk into the dealership. Giving, even if it is as small as a compliment, is a key to your likability and influence.
- The Contrast Trigger - Show that your proposition is better than a list of alternatives. You have to give the other person(s) a frame of reference.
- The Reason Why Trigger - This reason could be virtually anything. Really any reason that makes a hint of sense. For instance, if you are selling a product, you could give reasons such as: limited pricing, limited supply, exclusivity, cost, etc.
- The Hope Trigger - This is another trigger that requires an understanding of the other person. What are their hopes and dreams? Frame your proposal to help them reach those hopes.
Having an ability to persuade (or influence) is a powerful skill to have. We focus on using persuasion to get to a win/win outcome where both parties benefit. In addition to using these 7 triggers above, you should also spend great efforts on effective listening. We are often times too quick to jump to talking, and fail to understand where the other party's interests lie. Always keep in mind that persuasion is a two-way interaction.
Our Brains Are Hungry for Social Interaction
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Humans have proportionately the biggest brains in the entire animal kingdom. We have about 11.5 billion neurons in our brains. One would be smart to point out that our brains have evolved to solve complex problems to enable us to survive. There is another primary driver with increasing evidence to explain our enlarged brains: to facilitate our social cognitive skills.
Matthew D. Lieberman, Professor at the University of California and author of the book, Social, has studied and found groundbreaking research in social neuroscience. Here is a profound statement from Lieberman's book:
All these years, we've assumed the smartest among us have particularly strong analytical skills. But from an evolutionary perspective, perhaps the smartest among us are actually those with the best social skills
A lot of Lieberman's book discusses why our brain are wired to connect. Even an introverted person needs to have social interaction to survive. Another interesting point that we might not usually think of is how our social network affects our health. Consider this point from Lieberman:
Having a poor social network is literally as bad for your health as smoking two packs of cigarettes a day
Wow. That has incredible implications for us. Another finding is the heavily talked about discussion. Does money make us happy? Probably a better question might be: does being social make us happier than money? Let's look at both of these questions in order.
Does money make us happy?
If you won the lottery today, how would your life change? It would probably change considerably because you'll do all the things you have wanted to do: dig your way out of debt, buy a new house/car, take a trip around the world - anything you can think of is probably possible.
It's true. You would be able to do all these great things and probably wouldn't have to work ever again if you were smart with your winnings. Hedonic adaptation would like to point out that we as humans, have the tendency to adapt to new circumstances, whether good or bad. Meaning, you might have a spike of happiness from winning the lottery, but eventually it will fade away and become normal for you. The excitement doesn't last forever.
This is not to say money doesn't play a major factor in our happiness - it does. But it is to a certain point, then we need more than what money can buy. Which leads us to our second question.
Does being social make us happier than money?
It is only fair to bring these two in an apples to apples comparison. Multiple studies have actually been able to put a dollar value on how much our social aspects are worth in terms of our well-being. Take a look:
- Volunteering once a week - increases well-being equivalent from a $20,000 salary to a $75,000 salary
- Having a friend you see on most days compared to not having that such friend - is worth an extra $100,000 a year
- Being married? Another $100,000
- Getting divorced - is like slashing your salary by $90,000
- Seeing your neighbor regularly - $60,000
I think you get the point. We are wired to connect and be around people. What is one thing you can do this week to feed the social part of your brain?
The heart of our business is teaching how to effectively communicate and connect with others. Technology is making it harder to make effective and frequent communication happen. Sometimes we forget it should be human to human interaction. Our world is becoming a human to technology interaction instead. Research is clear that communicating with others is important for success in life, we must also remember it is important for our well-being.
Choose To Be Successful
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
We often times let other's determine what we can and cannot accomplish. We believe that what they are saying is fact. This will get our little voice in our head saying things like, "Maybe I won't be able to get that promotion this year" or "I'm terrible at small talk. I should avoid networking opportunities." Sometimes you even fabricate these thoughts yourself, without anyone coming out and saying it. All this leads to demotivation to challenge yourself and succeed.
Michael Hyter, Former Chairman and CEO at PepsiCo, refutes this thinking:
You are capable of learning whatever is necessary to achieve your goals. You are capable of becoming the person you dream to be.
I'm sure you are weary to believe this statement to be entirely true. But, it is true. Everyone has their doubts in their own abilities. Even as a seasoned professional and are very confident in what they can do. But, those that succeed make progress through the right strategy, persistency, and self-belief.
Let's go back to Michael Hyter for a deeper understanding. In his book, The Power of Choice, Hyter illustrates this model:
The Fixed-Capacity Mindset
Our society has a belief that some people have "it". They are born to be a leader, salesperson, engineer, designer, teacher, and on and on. To some extent, that may be somewhat true that certain people are born with distinct traits that make them better off in a certain environment.
In the fixed-capacity mindset, professionals with a high IQ will be able to master the increasingly complex demands of their careers. Individuals with less capacity will reach their "level of incompetence" - they will give up because they find it difficult or impossible to develop the expertise to accomplish these complex goals.
In short, with fixed-capacity mindset, failure is viewed as evidence that the job or task is beyond our ability.
The Capacity-Building Mindset
Research confirms the capacity-building mindset is more accurate. We as humans are not fixed. Most people can develop new skills and capabilities and can learn to be highly effective at a variety of challenging new tasks.
Everyone can learn, if they apply effective effort.
Effective effort is about working hard, EFFECTIVELY. Meaning, you will need to be strategic in your hard work.
Here are Hyter's three characteristics to effective effort:
- Tenacious Engagement - willingness to give your time, energy and thoughtful observation to the process.
- A Focus on Feedback - when the results are in, ask yourself appropriate questions. What happened? Why did it happen? What feedback and coaching can you get from others?
- A Strategy for Improvement - Use the feedback to set priorities and put together a strategy for development. What will make you more effective?
You are capable of learning whatever is necessary to achieve your goals. You are capable of becoming the person you dream to be.
This book really hits home with what we believe at Tero. We take people at whatever level they are presently at in presenting, negotiating, networking, etc. and guide them through relevant researched skills to become better. An important part to developing a strategy around using critical soft skills is knowing what to work on. Practicing the wrong thing, over and over, will only solidify bad habits. Effective effort is in knowing and practicing the 'right' thing. Pairing consistency with strategy and the appropriate skills, you will be able to exceed your present level and succeed.
3 Steps to Forming Habits
Thursday, October 1, 2015
"If I only have one pop this week, it won't kill me. As long as it is in moderation, right?" It always seems to start with you telling yourself this. Then, the following week you say, "Ok, I'm going to drink a pop at lunch because I want to treat myself for being productive every morning." Soon you will be drinking a pop in the morning AND lunch for one reason or the other and eventually having several a day without even noticing. How many times has this happened to you? Maybe not with pop specifically, but we'll let you fill in the blank.
It always seems to start small, and before we realize it, we quickly jump to the other extreme. To understand why we do what we do, it is important to first look at how habits are formed and what exactly is going on in our brain. This process of forming habits is described well in Charles Duhigg's book, The Power of Habit.
There is a three part process to forming habits: cue, routine, reward. Let's use the pop analogy as an example in this case.
This would be something that initiates or triggers your brain to jump into automatic mode and decides what habit to use. A trigger in this example might be that we need a spike of energy to finish out the last hour of the work day.
The routine can be physical, mental or emotional. Because you we need a spike of energy, we know that caffeine and sugar can help. So, we go to the fridge and grab a pop.
There has to be a reward, otherwise we wouldn't continue and form any habits. The reward helps our brain determine if the loop is worth remembering for future situations.
As you can see, if the pop helped our productivity and pushed us through the last hour of the day, we might try the same thing tomorrow. Eventually, the loop of going through cue (I need energy), to routine (drink pop) and then we receive a reward of boosted productivity, we will continue this trend over and over again. The more we perform this habit, the more habitual it becomes and the less we realize we are even doing it.
Our brain is using this hardwired process to make our lives easier. Sometimes it isn't always for the better and we may be creating toxic habits hurting our finances, productivity, relationships and health. Next week we will look at how to identify these toxic habits and steps you can take to eliminate them.
You Are Being Judged In a Blink
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Do you ever feel you will like someone the instant you meet them? Why is that? This person may have only said a few words, maybe none, and you are already making a decision about their personality, character, intellect, and even compassion all in a snap judgment. We are making snap judgments and decisions every day. What we will wear, eat for lunch to even who we hire on our team for high budget projects.
We make a lot of decisions on our "gut feeling". Which is good, because we don't have all day to evaluate options for hours when we should make a decision in a matter of minutes. Like the list of items you will accomplish today or what you plan to do tonight.
The reason we are able to make these quick judgments and decisions are the "behind-the-scenes" work of our unconscious. Malcom Gladwell talks about this rapid cognition in a booked called Blink. The premise of the book is around what he calls "Thin-slicing."
In Gladwell's definition, "Thin-slicing refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience." Gladwell goes on to say, "we thin-slice because we have to, and we come to rely on that ability because there are lots of hidden fists out there, lots of situations where careful attention to the details of a very thin slice, even for no more than a second or two, can tell us an awful lot."
What does this knowledge mean for you in your profession? Think about your day to day and how this affects peoples' perspectives of you - your boss, coworkers, clients, etc. If someone were to make a snap judgment of who you are (and they will), what would they think? Is this person professional? Reliable? Trustworthy? Are they worth my time?
Being conscious of this information is key because you do not have control over whether or not someone will make a snap judgment of you - it's human nature. Focus on what you can control (appearance, energy level, etc.) and you will have the ability to tip the scale in your favor.
We often pull in a related statistic in our workshops from Harvard University. The statistic says we form an opinion about a person in about two seconds. Just two seconds. In our IMPACT: How To Speak Your Way To Success workshop, participants not only improve verbal communication, but also their non-verbal communication. This is because our visual messages precede anything we say or do. Think about the next time you are about to give a presentation, attend a networking function, grab coffee with a potential client. These people are going to form an impression in only two seconds, and it is those two seconds that can determine your success and impact.
Being an Introvert in "The Extrovert Ideal"
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Introverts have long been given a bad rap. They are the personality type to be quiet, shy and emotionless. Our society has created "The Extrovert Ideal", where talkative people are seen as smarter, more interesting and desirable as friends and co-workers. We should be reminded of some of the greatest thinkers and innovators were introverts: Steve Wozniak (Apple Co-founder), Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Zuckerberg, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Warren Buffet and many more.
These individuals certainly needed to find solitude to "recharge" their energy and some were reclusive, but it doesn't mean they could not "hold their own" in a social setting. Introverted people can be great in sales, networking, speaking to groups and even acting. In a book by Susan Cain called Quiet, Cain talks about the "rubber band theory". Meaning, we can stretch our personalities, but only to a point. Introverted people can put on an extroverted persona at a dinner party, but eventually they will be starving for energy; needing to find a quiet place alone.
We want to focus on one specific area where Introvert's will need to put on an extrovert mask: introverted people and giving presentations. Cain offers 8 great tips if you are an introvert and are preparing to give a presentation.
#1 Preparation is key:
Take your time crafting your speech so that it flows logically and is illustrated with stories and examples. Practice it out loud, until you're comfortable. If it's an important speech, videotape yourself.
#2 Think about what your particular audience wants to hear:
Are they craving new information? Insights? What problem do they hope to solve? Give them what they want and need. It's about them, not you.
#3 If you haven't spoken publicly in a while and feel rusty, watch videos of speakers that have shot's taken from the speaker's vantage point:
As you watch, pretend you are the speaker. Get used to what it feels like to have all eyes on you.
#4 If you can, visit the room where you'll be speaking:
Practice standing on the stage and looking out at the crowd.
#5 When you listen to a great speaker or hear someone mention one, get a transcript of the speech:
Study it. How was it constructed? What kind of opening and closing were used? How did the speaker engage, inspire, and educate the audience?
#6 Know your strengths and weaknesses as a speaker, and accentuate the positive:
If you have a great sense of humor, use it. If you're not a natural cut-up, don't try to be. Instead, focus on what you do best. Do you have a great story to tell? An interesting idea your audience hasn't considered? Information they need to hear? Frame your speech around your message - and around who you are as a person.
#7 Public speaking is a performance, and that's a good thing, even if you're not a natural actor:
Have you ever enjoyed why people enjoy costume parties? It's because they feel liberated when interacting from behind a mask, from within a role. Think of your onstage persona the same way.
#8 Smile at your audience as they enter the room, and smile at them when you begin speaking:
This will make you feel relaxed, confident and connected.
Being true to your natural personality tendencies is important to avoid burning yourself out. However, it is advantageous to step out of your comfort zone and will result in personal and professional growth (what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger). You might be someone who is deathly afraid of public speaking, and you certainly are not alone.
At Tero, we always say, "We don't care how you feel" in our IMPACT: How To Speak Your Way To Success workshop. It doesn't matter how you feel, it matters how your audience feels. If you appear confident, poised and knowledgeable, but don't feel that way inside, not a problem. Always focus on the messages your audience is receiving.
One more thing: there is a saying that says, "don't practice until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong." - knowing your material is one of the biggest confidence boosters and cuts down your anxiety.
How You Can Be a More Effective Leader
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
How do you get a variety of perspectives to move towards the same goal? How do you avoid stagnation? How can we get people moving, driving and conquering? What empowers people? When someone feels lost, defeated and ready to give up, where will they find the strength to push forward?
To be an effective, competing organization, there must be leaders; effective ones at that. Some people might say that leadership is inherent. It is important to understand leadership is a skill which can be learned. Leadership certainly isn't something that can be learned overnight, but requires considerable knowledge and practice.
James Kouzes and Barry Posner bring to the surface the The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership in their book Leadership Challenge. They say when leaders make extraordinary things happen within an organization, they are using these five practices:
- Model the Way
- Inspire a Shared Vision
- Challenge the Process
- Enable Others to Act
- Encourage the Heart
The premise of The Leadership Challenge defines these five practices and is filled with examples of successes. By the end of the book you will have an idea of how you can incorporate these items as a foundation to build from with your unique leadership style.
One interesting point brought up in the book is around asking for feedback. Kouzes and Posner found something profound in their studies using the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), a 360-degree feedback instrument which assesses the frequency on people engaging in The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. Through the LPI assessment, where people received the lowest rating, from leaders and their constituents is, "Asks for feedback on how his/her actions affect other people's performance".
To put it a different way, leaders are not asking how they can improve. How is one to know if they are an effective leader? Without polling, people most likely won't tell you. Feedback is a key tool to improvement. Ask and you shall receive. Feedback must also follow the following criteria to be effective:
- Specific, not general
- Focused on behavior, not the individual (personality)
- Solicited rather than imposed
- Timely rather than delayed
- Descriptive rather than evaluative
Think about the last time you asked for feedback. How did the feedback size up compared to the above criteria? If you do not seek feedback already, start incorporating today. The Leadership Challenge, Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership will help anyone interested in leadership know not only what they will want to develop in themselves, but what they will want others to see in them and give feedback on.
There are many choices when it comes to books on leadership. Tero uses The Leadership Challenge, Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership as the basis for leadership development because the practices identified in the book and examined on the accompanying assessment, the Leadership Practices Inventory, are grounded in the extensive global research conducted by the authors Kouzes and Posner. The context of leadership is continually changing, yet the content of what it takes to be an effective leader has endured through time and is clearly reflected in the five leadership practices. Tero has used this book and the LPI assessment to assist leaders in identifying their strength areas as well as areas of development. By learning to utilize authentic 360 degree feedback directly relating to the leadership practices, leaders can measure their effectiveness, set goals, demonstrate the discrete competencies reflected in the practices, and evolve to lead in ways they otherwise may have never realized.
Connect With More People, More Often
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Being an effective networker, presenter, coach, sales person, customer service rep, parent, leader, nurse, dietician, electrician or anything else that requires you to communicate with another individual, requires this crucial detail. Without it, you might not be listened to or liked. You probably will not be influential, trustworthy or engaging.
We are talking about connecting. Surely everyone has heard the word used before, but not everyone possesses the knowledge or skills to make it happen. It isn't something that will happen overnight and it certainly is something you will need to practice consistently, day by day to be an expert, much like with anything.
If you haven't yet read the John Maxwell book Everyone Communicates Few Connect, we recommend you pick it up today. Maxwell says it quite simply: if you want to succeed in life, you must learn to connect with people.
As we mention often in Tero workshops, you don't know what you don't know. Once you know why you are not connecting and understand how to fix it, you can start to move forward in the development process. Without knowing, you may be developing the wrong habits and will take a lot more undoing to get back on track. Are you following?
We want you to be on the right track as soon as possible and are providing a snippet from Everyone Communicates Few Connect to get you started today. Maxwell has an entire section dedicated to common ground and says it is vital to be an effective connector. He says that if he had to pick a first rule of communication, the one that opens the door to connection, would be to look for common ground.
A great quote from this chapter is, "It's difficult to find common ground with others when the only person you're focused on is yourself!"
Maxwell goes on to talk about several barriers to common ground, as well as how to cultivate a common ground mindset. Below are highlights from the discussion.
Barriers To Finding Common Ground
1. Assumption - "I already know what others know, feel, and want"
2. Arrogance - "I don't need to know what others know, feel, or want"
3. Indifference - "I don't care to know what others know, feel or want"
4. Control - "I don't want others to know what I know, feel or want"
Barriers To Finding Common Ground
1. Availability - "I will choose to spend time with others"
2. Listening - "I will listen my way to common ground"
3. Questions - "I will be interested enough in others to ask questions"
4. Thoughtfulness - "I will think of others and look for ways to thank them"
5. Openness - "I will let people into my life"
6. Likability - "I will care about people"
7. Humility - "I will think of myself less so I can think of others more"
8. Adaptability - "I will move from my world to theirs"
The value of making meaningful connections with others and finding common ground goes beyond building a professional network. This interpersonal skill is explored in several Tero workshops. The most skilled negotiators, influencers and sales professionals credit the ability to connect with others and acknowledge common ground as one of their top skills. While all professionals understandably spend more time focusing on areas of difference than on areas of common ground in complex negotiations and sales meetings, research reveals that those who are most successful in delivering positive outcomes spend more than three times as much time on areas of common ground than their average counterparts. Commenting on common ground is a differentiator for business professionals across every discipline and in every industry. It is in all our interests to acquire the uncommon skill of acknowledging common ground so that we can better connect with others.
Become a Better Sales Person and Be a Challenger
Monday, May 4, 2015
Everyone nowadays is trying to develop strong, long-term relationships, especially in sales. Nowadays, sales people are trying to be "customer-centric" and always put the customer first. Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson in the book The Challenger Sale explain why building this relationship is important, but there are times when you are being too accommodating and perhaps skimping on profitability - there is a better way.
An example would be that you are so focused and determined to get business from a potential buyer, you end up offering discounts and other incentives that will hurt your companies bottom-line, when you should really stand your ground.
Research Points to a Winning Selling Type
The Challenger Sale surveyed 6,000 sales reps representing every major industry and geography around the world, asking thorough questions on forty-four different attributes related to high-performing sales individuals. In short, they identified five categories or types of sales people: The Lone Wolf, The Hard Worker, The Reactive Problem Solver, The Relationship Builder and what they call The Challenger.
While we will not go into detail about these different types, we will point out which type is among the majority of high performing sales people and provide a brief description on why that is the case - and we are almost certain it isn't the type you think.
The research found that among all of these profiles, the Relationship Builder; categorized as building strong advocates in customer organizations, generous in giving time to help others and getting along with everyone, is dead last in performance. Really? Yes, The Relationship Builder only makes up 7% of high performers in a given organization and represents over a quarter of all sales people.
Which type represents the largest percentage of high performers you ask? As we may have hinted at earlier in this blog - The Challenger. The Challenger represents 39% of high performers in an organization and accounts for less than a quarter of sales people. That is an astounding statistic and trumps all other types by at least 14%.
Who is The Challenger?
The Challenger possesses the ability to accomplish three things - teach, tailor and take control. We will focus on one of the three and suggest you read the book, as there is a lot more valuable information and details to be found.
One of the big take-aways is the idea of teaching the customer. We always assume the customer knows what they want and we are trying to mine those wants and needs out, so we can provide the appropriate solution. Instead, we should be challenging the customer to think differently, to think about questions and ideas they haven't considered. What we are trying to do, is collaborate and participate with the customer on their journey for a solution - not only listen, but contribute. Then, of course, find the appropriate solution.
This is an example shortened down from The Challenger Sale and provides an idea of what we are getting at.
A rep was struggling to gain traction with a prospective customer. The customer just built a new headquarters and their competitor was selected to furnish the facility (how unfortunate). But, the rep still saw an opportunity to get in the door. After multiple attempts, she was able to set up a meeting with the company's head of real estate and facilities.
She found that the company wanted to create collaborative spaces for employees to effectively interact. The rep looked at the designs and was able to conclude, "data indicates that collaboration doesn't happen in groups of eights. It happens in twos and threes. You may be building the wrong size conference rooms." The customer responded with, "That's great to know, but the conference rooms have already been built."
The rep leveraged her product knowledge and explained how they should put up a movable wall in the middle of the conference rooms, to create two rooms that would fit smaller groups of three and four. She also mentioned a product the company offers to help facilitate collaboration for them. She was able to change the whole direction of the account by teaching the customer about a problem they didn't realize they had.
It's not only about being nice and accommodating that will get you the bid, you also need to challenge the customer, ask the tough questions, do what you can to have them thinking about items they didn't consider, then tying it back to how your offering will help.
At Tero, we couldn't agree more. Our Outcome-Driven Selling: A Consultative Approach to Sales workshop addresses these topics and approaches.
Thanks to the internet and its search engines, blogs and social media sites, customers today are more informed, better prepared and are more demanding when shopping for products and services. To respond, sales professionals need to acquire skills beyond product knowledge and customer service. They need to go beyond mere relationship-building and master the skills to become a trusted partner to a customer. That means becoming skilled in how to challenge the customer without being challenging.