Monday, December 8, 2008

Are you running in the fog?

How focussed are you? This little man, Zac, who happens to my son, knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. He's only 11 months old, but I'm already proud of his focus. His goals are very clear. " Feed me, change me and let me eat some toys or plants". Outside of that not much else really matters at this stage.

Most of the high performers I work with are crystal clear on what they are seeking. Ask yourself as the year draws to a close.

Do you have clarity on what you are seeking in 2009?

Are you running in the fog?

Take a few minutes to assess what you want to achieve in the next 12 months. Watch what unfolds.

I suggest you write down 5 things you would like to achieve next year and then jot down how you will go about achieving them.

One of my clients wants to ride his motorbike down the Great Ocean Road in Victoria next year.

Freud, said, "People by and large tend to become what they think of themselves". What do you think will become of you, your business and your relationships in 2009?
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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Who cares?

Social networking tools are taking over the world.

Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, My Space. I'm trialling Linked In at present on the advice of some of the Microsoft community I know and trust. I'm more of an old school networker and prefer public speaking, the telephone and face to face to contact.

I've often wondered a few things about all of these tools:

1. Who cares about what you are thinking / doing unless you have a reason for me to care?
2. Who has the time to monitor / update these tools (this blog update took approx 15 minutes)?
3. Why don't you do some real work instead?
4. What about walking your dog or playing with your kids. Wouldn't that be a better long term investment?

Perhaps as Tony Hollingsworth mentioned to me yesterday these tools can turbo charge your networking. I'm not convinced yet, but am willing to trial them for 12 months. Like most things at NRG I'll measure the real results over time.

Share your social networking experiences with me here. If i don't get back to you I'm probably walking my dog. Come to think of it, I don't have dog.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

How inviting!

What a great idea! I saw this sign when I went to buy some fruit and veg today.

This is stupid for 3 reasons.

1. If I hadn't considered snapping off the stems to reduce the weight of the broccoli, you have now given me the idea.

2. How many customers will come back and shop here again after incurring the double payment fine?

3. It sets a tone or feeling for the fruit shop. It implies, " on the whole we think a lot of you are thief's and we don't like you or your attitude "

I was wondering if this is such a big deal, can't they find other ways of dealing with it?

eg: Cut the stems off before you display them and charge an extra 25c per kilo. If customers think your broccoli is too expensive they are probably not your ideal customers.

Or, offer to cut the stems off at the checkout to reduce the total weight. This will leave the customer with a feeling of appreciation.

What about change the sign to say, " Snap off the stems if you want, but we'd rather you didn't as it we don't want to ban you from our shop "

Drop the sign altogether and except that a small percentage of shoppers will snap off the stems. Does it really matter that much?

After I left the fruit shop, with my broccoli and it's heavy stems, I went to the bank. A smiling girl met me as I walked in and offered me a little wrapped sweet from a basket. Nice touch.

Think about the messages you are sending out to your customers / staff / patients / every time you communicate with them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Selling in a slowing economy

5 strategies for growth in a tough market

I’ve often said to sales teams I work with if you can’t really sell you should get a job in the post office, or perhaps the library.

When the economy is bubbling along the old adage about being in the right place at the right time will always ring true.

This blog shows you 5 strategies that will ensure you can weather the storm as the economy rapidly slows.

Who wouldn’t be able to make a few dollars as a mortgage broker in a strong housing market? What about selling real estate in the same market? Not too tough. When the stock market is hot and everyone is trading it must give you a sense of comfort to know that the calls and the orders will keep coming in. How about being a financial planner when people are flush with funds and the superannuation laws change every 3 years?

You’ve probably noticed in the past 6 months that the economy is shifting. Customers are becoming more demanding. Purchasing decisions are taking longer to make, even avoided. Your customers will still need to buy products and services but perhaps not as many as last year.

They may not be as flush with funds now as they were over the past 10 years.

Now is really a great opportunity to try and ascertain if you really are cut out for selling. Get through the next few years and you know you are in the right profession.

At NRG Solutions we sell a service, primarily its professional development. You could argue it’s a non-essential spend in a tight economy. Many of my prospects and clients are doing a good job of positioning this with me at present! Obviously I beg to differ, but I’ll cover that in more detail in my next article.

Selling and surviving in a tight market – 5 strategies you must apply

1. Focus on selling additional value

You’ve probably recognised that your customers will have become more discerning. They are on the lookout for discounts and deals. I’d argue they still need to purchase your products or services, although probably in smaller volumes.

In a tight market they may be more inclined to push harder for discounts or extended trading terms. By all means consider those options. Over and above sell value. If you are nothing more than a talking brochure then your time is limited. Buyers have a multitude of purchasing options that didn’t exist in the past. These include buying on line, 1800 numbers and purchasing through resellers. You need to offer real business value. The best way to do this is to try and understand your customers. What are their real needs? Where are their issues? Ask questions, observe, listen and take notice of how they operate. It’s the best way to provide real value.

Examples of additional value would include:

v Additional in-office or in-store training at no additional charge
v Email and telephone support included as part of the initial project or purchase
v Providing on-site support and access to specialists
v Upgrades to later versions as part of the initial purchase
v Add on services (seminars, related products, etc) bundled into purchases

2. Widen the top of your funnel

Depending on what you sell, you will notice in a tight market that your conversion ratio will be dropping. In a strong economy you may win 70% of the projects you quote on. Pitch for 10 jobs and you’ll win 7. To win 7 new jobs in a tough market, you may need to pitch for 20. Your conversion ratio will almost certainly be a lot lower.

When the going gets tough, you will need to take more shots to achieve the same results.

Michael Jordan argued that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. You will need to take more shots in a tight market.

Consider how you can use technology to help you take more shots. Change your phone plans so you are not paying excessive amounts to make more calls. Refine and improve your database. Create email newsletters of value. Make more quality calls more often. Ask existing satisfied customers for referrals.

3. Develop some great objection handling techniques

You know you will be hearing plenty of these comments:

v “Now’s not the right time, money is tight”
v “Things have slowed down a bit at present”
v “We’ve actually got a freeze on non-essential spending at present”
v “We’re cutting back in that area”

Like a boy scout, a true sales professional will always be prepared.

Plan well in advance how you will be responding to these sorts of comments. I’ve been trying a few of the following responses and have been having some success.

“That’s ok – let’s only do a smaller part of the project at this stage”
“I’ll do the work now and invoice you next quarter”
“How can we find funding for this? What other budgets could be accessible?”
“What do you suggest we should do to get things started?”
“Have a complimentary place this time. It’s the least I can do”

4. Focus on strengthening existing relationships

The reality is that when the market gets tight your best opportunities will exist with the clients who are already purchasing your products or services. Spend time with these accounts and focus on how you can further strengthen the relationship.

This could involve extending terms and conditions, drawing up a preferred pricing agreement, perhaps collectively sitting down together and working out the best way to work together in this economy. The chances are they are feeling the pain as much as you are.
Recognise their loyalty and reward it. These are the accounts you cannot afford to lose so don’t let your competitors get under your radar. Invest appropriately and put enough bricks in the wall to stop these accounts from escaping and to ensure against competitor activity.

5. Invest in yourself

I’m probably biased on this one as this is the core of our business. I’d say the 2 best things you can invest in would be:

1. Yourself
2. The key relationships in your life

By investing in yourself you will remain in touch with fresh ideas. Keep yourself sharp and focused by reading widely, attending relevant programs and continually working on strategies for business and personal growth. Transfer these ideas back to your customers and you start to create real business value (see point 1).

If you are not growing and developing as an individual, then I’d say you are of limited value to your customers in the long term. Pablo Cassals (Google him) was asked at the age of 95 why he was still practising the cello for 20 minutes a day.

His answer? “Because I’m still making progress.”


Stop talking about how it’s getting tougher. Do something about it. Get busy with lifting your activity levels and deepening your relationships with your best accounts. Be prepared and be creative about how you deal with standard objections. You need a plan and you can’t expect to achieve the same results in this market by applying the same approach you took in a strong economy.

“If you change nothing, nothing changes”

Sunday, November 23, 2008

November 26th - Free pizza and soft drink

Building your contacts

I'm speaking this wednesday evening at (6.30pm) Microsoft in Sydney, about networking skills for developers.

Most geeks will be thinking great, unsecured or secured? Reality is it’s all about how developers can build up their network and contacts to help them grow their business and raise their own profile.

I suggest that a good start would be come to this exciting session and invite along a client or supplier.

In a highly engaging presentation I'll be be covering:

· How to get the most out of attending an event
· Why it’s so important to build your network
· Appropriate behaviour at a function or networking event
· Building rapport with people who are different to you
· Tips for starting conversations with people you don’t know
· How to remember people’s names
· Are you a stalker - the rules on staying in touch with new people you meet
· What to do when you are NOT connecting with someone at a function
· Steps for becoming a better networker
· Old school ideas versus new school networking (social networking tools)

For more information email Craig Bailey ''.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Networking - Notice the word work

Network – notice the word “work”?

If you met one new person every day, stayed in touch with them and you introduced them to other people over time, then you would probably become the best networker in Australia. There are two simple ways to change your life – the books you read and the people you meet. Great networkers are always focused on meeting new people.

This Christmas, as you entertain your loyal clients and wonder whether you will be working with them again next year, consider this: “Are you putting the work into building your network”? Notice the word “work” in network? It’s not called “net easy”, or “net no worries”, it’s called “networking”.

Anyone who's been in business for a while knows we like doing business with people we know and trust. For many of you it’s not easy getting out of your comfort zone and meeting new people. One lesson I have learnt in life is that your network will be closely linked to your networth.

What do great networkers do?

The best networkers I have met display most of the following traits:

· They are interested in people and finding out what makes them tick
· They don’t like talking about themselves, but can do, confidently, if need be
· They are excellent at remembering names and little details about people
· They make an effort to stay in touch with new contacts
· They make an effort to link others and provide referrals
· They ask interesting questions, probe and actively listen
· They turn up, a lot (they apply the Woody Allen rule – 80% of life is just turning up)
· They read widely and get involved with different associations and groups
· They speak at events
· They embrace social networking tools

If you want to assess your own networking skills mark yourself between 0 and 10 for each of the above.

10: You do it all the time
5: You’ve thought about doing this, occasionally
0: You never do it

Guidelines for events

Good to attend, better to host, best to be the speaker. I’ve wasted a lot of money, myself, over the years by attending events and not applying some basic networking principles. I’ve learnt from my mistakes.

Here are a few simple guidelines for events.

Don’t attend an event if you can’t answer these 4 questions about yourself:

1. Who are you?
2. What do you do?
3. How does that help your clients?
4. What’s your USP?

6 event tips

1. Act like the host – it’s obvious, but hardly anyone does it
2. Try and invite someone or a few people to join you at the event - a good client, staff member, supplier, etc
3. Ask these 3 questions when meeting new people, and then probe and build on their responses: “What prompted you to come along tonight?” “What type of work do you do? Wow, sounds interesting.” “Tell me, how did you get into that type of work?”
4. Think deeper rather than wider regarding new contacts. Focus on establishing rapport with 3 people as opposed to 30
5. Introduce people to each other and look for common ground
6. Use a strategy to remember people’s names

Staying in touch

Be careful. It’s a bit like dating. Don’t be a stalker. Too soon, with follow up, and it can smell of desperation. Too often, and if it’s not being reciprocated, you’ll do more damage than good.
Maybe leave it a day or two. Send them a short email with your v-card attached. Ask them if they would be happy to be added to your distribution list.

Great networkers realise that it takes time to establish proper business relationships. If you meet someone this Christmas and they start immediately referring you work, I’d be concerned. We like to work with people we like and trust. Great networkers appreciate that networking is very different to speed dating.

Make an effort to stay in touch. How you choose to do that will vary depending on your role and people’s receptiveness to you. Don’t over-analyse this. I recommend communicating with new contacts once a quarter. Invite them to an event that you think they might be interested in. Ask if they’d like to be a speaker or guest at an event you are hosting. Find a way of staying on their radar without annoying them. Email those articles or links to sites they could be interested in.
Remember their little details and build on this - kids’ names, interests outside of work, holidays, aspirations, people they know that you know. It all helps. Google your contacts from time to time.

What next

Firstly, you have to decide you want to be a better networker. Stick with it. It takes time. You need to work at it. The rewards are enormous. Attend some events and have a plan at those events. Take an interest in people and find out as much as you can about them. Make an effort to build your contacts. Aim for a certain number per month of new, meaningful contacts. As a starting point, I suggest try for one new contact per week.

Recommended reading
  1. Get More Referrals Now - Bill Cates
  2. Swim with the sharks without being eaten alive - Harvey Mackay

Stand up and be counted

Two nights ago I did 15 minutes of stand up comedy for the first time. Wow was it scary. It was to help raise money for a school. I only did it because I wrote down that I should try it this year as one of my goals. Goal setting is very powerful.

A few things took out of my first stand up experience

  1. It was great to get out of my comfort zone
  2. It was shit scary getting out of my comfort zone
  3. Presenting to a business audience and getting a few laughs is very different to being introduced as a comic and having the expectation on you to make them laugh
  4. I really enjoyed being in the moment when I was up on stage
  5. Tailoring content for the audience was a very similar experience to presenting
  6. Writing the content is tricky - write a lot and keep editing
  7. Memorising the lines and delivery is harder
  8. I now have even higher respect for great comedians
  9. I can sense like most things, there's a success formula the great comedians use
  10. Practicing standing up, whilst driving, in the shower and doing little run throughs were really important for me and helped a lot
  11. Getting smooth segways is no easy task
  12. Using comic props can help add impact

Now I've got the bug I'm on the lookout for my next appearance.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

How persuasive are your presentations?

We ran the first 2 days of a 3 day course last week for a client on how to Present With Confidence.

In my opinion ,the reason most presentations are remarkably ineffective is they lack the 3p's. Punch, Persuasion and Passion. They are too vanilla.

Consider this when you present. Are you trying to persuade, inform or entertain ? If you want to be persuasive your need to incorporate the following into you presentations:

  • Statistics to give you legitimacy
  • Value - Understanding the audiences needs and addressing them
  • Developing relationships prior to and post the presentation
  • Using reference stories , examples, metaphors and anecdotes in appropriate places
  • Pain - have you built enough to get them to change

If you change nothing , nothing changes.

Trying to change the thoughts and belief systems of an audience is no easy task. You need a range of skills and you need to deliver your message in a very engaging fashion.

Above all else, you have to totally believe in your message. No ifs , no buts. If you don't believe in it the audience will smell your lack of conviction before you get past your first slide!

To access my top 10 tips for delivering persuasive presentations just email me at

Are you a talking brochure?

If you find at times you have become nothing more than a talking brochure when trying to influence a customer, it's time you changed your approach.

The world of selling is continuing to change. Customers need partners to guide them and most are willing to a premium for this advice. If they are not they can always order:

  • On line
  • Via the phone (Have a free call number with the best customer service team in the country available to process orders)
  • Via Fax

Last week I delivered a workshop for account managers on how to be a high performing salesperson. We had a great session together. It was just me and 22 account managers who sell to dentists. The client , one of the best known brands in the world, has engaged NRG Solutions in a bid to improve the results and efficiency of the sales team. We will be working closely together with the management team over this balance of the year helping to drive sales results.

Key Messages

The majority of the session was devoted to the skills you would notice in high performing sales people.This included:

  • How to offer more to the client than being a talking brochure - The 4p's of questioning
  • The importance of attitude, goal setting and focus
  • How to conduct a sales call - The NRG Solutions PRINT sales process
  • How to know you are moving forwards with a client
  • How to manage your territory to most effectively grow your business
  • How and when to adjust your selling style according to the customers buying preference
  • Surfacing and dealing with objections
  • When and how to close a sale
As the chinese say a journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step. I think we took that first step last week.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Selling to men and women

I just made a call to a prospect. I've met this woman a few times and have been pitching to her for work for over a year. No luck yet. Prior to calling her I was checking my CRM (you should always try and do this) to see if there was anything particular I could comment on. I noticed she was married this time last year.

As a rapport builder I mentioned that her first wedding anniversary must be coming up soon. I asked her if she had dropped any hints to remind her husband. (eg: tattoo the date on his forehead) We had a good chat and there may be some positive outcomes, we'll see.

So what's my point. I wouldn't have mentioned this to a male, as I don't think it would have helped strengthen my relationship with him.

The following tips are just that tips. They are not rules. We are all different. Be flexible in how you interpret them.

How women should sell to men

  • Constantly flatter us - play to our ego. "Wow, that's impressive, you must be very proud, wow you've been working hard, etc"
  • Don't talk to us when we are handling a product or reading a brochure. We can only do one thing at a time
  • Let us do the bulk of the talking - we're not that great at listening compared to you
  • Ask questions related to how this product / service will help us achieve our goals. We are on the whole more goal oriented than women
  • Focus on results and actions
  • Ask for the business in a confident matter at the right time. We love confidence in a woman

How men should sell to women

  • Look great. Clean shirts/pants/ shoes (very important) - women notice far more than men. Watch how much women are constantly checking out each other. (mmm nice shoes / bag etc)
  • Smell great - women have a more powerful sense of smell than men. If you stink they think your product stinks as well. Simple.
  • Ask questions and make comments related to feelings. "How do you feel about this?" "Did that comment upset you?" " Is that guy still playing silly buggers with you"etc
  • Use more facial expressions and head nodding than you would normally do. Just watch women converse with each other and compare this to when men converse with other men. Smile, nod your head and use a range of wow, uh huhs, and really, is that right. Remember don't fake this or it wont work. Be genuine.
  • Compliment women in a genuine and sincere way by noticing things about them. Definitely don't get sleazy. Comment on a broach, bracelet, bag or shoes. Ask if it is new. Chances are they just purchased it! Comment on their hair if it has been restyled or recoloured. The key is notice them and the little things they may have changed since you last saw them
  • Listen a lot. You'll never hear a woman say " he listened to actively to me!"
  • Remember the names of their kids and if you can their ages

Be wary of your default style

Every B2B sales professional knows you need to adjust your style depending on your customer. just be wary of the need to tap in to female and male adjustments as well.

Remember this: Last time I checked no man has ever been murdered by his wife whilst he has been doing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom.

Friday, January 4, 2008

It'a new year and a new approach

I've been lazy with my blogging over the past few months. This year one of my goals it keep my blog as a diary of the events i'm involved with.

First job for 2008 sees me in perth next week. I'll be delivering 4 x 1 hour sessions as part of a 3 day event the client is running. My topics:

  1. Self Motivation - Getting the most out of your time
  2. Goal setting for success
  3. Choosing your attitude
  4. Outstanding customer service

I read an interesting book whilst on a holiday with my family. It's called Blink. The author is malcolm gladwell who wrote The Tipping Point. It's worth a look. Gladwell highlights the importance of trusting your subconscious. He argues we should allow our subconscious to guide us perhaps more than we do. It's well supported with good research and examples.

Just before I check out of this blog I always re do my goals at the end of each year. I can't stress how useful I find this exercise. Of all the topics I speak on goal setting is one that I am convinced will make the biggest difference to the way you perform. I break my goals down in to the following areas:

  1. Family
  2. Personal
  3. Work
  4. Community

email me if you'd like any tips or ideas on how to get started. Good luck for a great 2008.