Category Archives: Todd Cohen

Vulnerability is Money in the Bank

By Todd Cohen

Todd CohenMany factors can affect one’s feeling of comfort and security for their jobs and livelihoods: A shifting and unsteady economy. Tumultuous global events. The unforeseen and unpredictable can shake one’s confidence to the core.

You see the same phenomena with anyone who has something to sell—which is all of us. Regardless of what you are selling—a product, a service, and of course, yourself, there are unfortunate instances of people taking any business and not quality business. Why? Your internal fear of allowing yourself to be vulnerable and accepting the business and responsibilities you know you can deliver at 100%.

Where things begin to veer off track is when people think they are going to lose their jobs or lose a sale (which is the same thing) they hold on tighter to them or take any deal. In doing so, you stretch yourself thin and tend to accept more and more responsibility. Subsequently, when people assume more responsibility than they can realistically handle, they become inefficient and less successful. In other words, holding on tighter in an attempt to ensure job security is actually harmful and professionally destabilizing.

What this means is that you cannot and should not attempt to be everything to everybody! When you try and to do it all, you wind up making bad decisions, which leads to settling and a feeling of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with your choices. In that event, everyone suffers: the client, the employer, your colleagues, and you. All because you’re hanging on so tight that you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable. In other words, a strong indicator of any success is your ability to be vulnerable and know your strengths, your weaknesses, and having the courage to walk away when necessary. It’s about having the bravery to embrace one simple concept—you will be more successful when you can successfully articulate your position and say “no” when you should. This is a simple concept that is in actuality very difficult to do.

Become vulnerable, improve job security, and get more at the same time. When people think of sales, the words “aggressive” and “pushy” can come to mind. It’s a product of many poor experiences dealing with sales staff. “Vulnerable” isn’t a word that you would often associate with sales—and that reason alone proves its importance. Vulnerability allows your clients and customers to view the entire sales industry through a new prism.

So how can you let go, become vulnerable, and actually improve your standing with your clients and colleagues? In a sales culture, everyone knows they play a vital role in the sales cycle. And regardless of whether their role is visible or not, it is an essential part of the sales ecosystem. In some cases an individual’s contributions may not be immediately seen, but he or she knows that their role is essential to clients ultimately saying “yes.” This is the essence of sales culture.

In organizations that are more siloed—and thus highly dysfunctional—there are people who believe that gripping very tightly to their jobs and staying beneath the radar will increase the odds that they will be “okay.” Here’s the problem with that theory. You are more likely to be seen as a valuable member of the company if you know and can communicate your specific area of expertise and stick to it. When you can communicate your value proposition in a compelling way, you make yourself vulnerable and more secure at the same time. Why? Because now people know what they are “buying” in you and you can now do a much better job.

Consider these points:

  1. Vulnerability is Tough: Letting go is hard. But by holding on to all the responsibilities, or taking any business that comes your way, you increase the chances of becoming mediocre because you can’t do it all—and you don’t have to. Being vulnerable means that you are able to say “no” to the so-called opportunities and business that are not actually quality business.
  2. Vulnerability is Nobility: Your ability to be vulnerable is noble. People want to deal with others who know what they do and know what they don’t do. In this way, being vulnerable earns you respect. Plus, you’ll find people will want to have you as part of their virtual team. When you are engaged to do what you do well, you increase your security, your role in the sales process, and the customer experience. Vulnerability is the desire to ask someone for feedback and be prepared to hear the answer and not be defensive. Vulnerability and defensiveness are diametrically opposed.
  3. Vulnerability is a Professional Skill: It takes a high degree of professionalism and maturity to know that you contribute in a certain way and in other ways, you don’t. Knowing where that line is and when not to cross it is the hallmark of a true professional and someone people want to buy from or someone people want to work with.
  4. Vulnerability is Cool: A sale is a complex series of interactions among people who all contribute some form of intellectual capital to the sales process. And it is through these interactions that clients or prospects get what they need to say “yes.” When you accept that staying focused on your own area of expertise is valuable, you’ll be at peace with being vulnerable. Most important, you’ll be confident and on your game. The sales team and the client will see this and they’ll say “yes!” Vulnerability is indeed money in the bank.
  5. Vulnerability is Attractive: Simply put, people will buy you and from you when they know you are real. Showing your authentic self and communicating plainly and directly is the key component here. People want to know that you can identify with them and that you understand them. Being truly vulnerable means that you are not afraid to show yourself.

Allow yourself to let go and reap the rewards that vulnerability affords.

Todd Cohen, CSP is an accomplished and sought after speaker, sales culture expert and author of Everyone’s in Sales and Everyone’s in Sales; STOP Apologizing. Todd’s dynamic and motivational presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of career path or position, everyone is a salesperson. Since 1984, Todd has led sales teams to deliver more than $850 million in revenue for leading companies including Xerox and Thomson-Reuters. For more information or to book Todd Cohen for your next meeting please visit www.toddcohen.com.

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Three Deadly Words

The Phrase That Can Spell Career Disaster

By Todd Cohen

Todd CohenThe English language has an unending supply of words and phrases that are built to create conversations that convey meaning and leave impressions. How you use and deliver these words makes a huge impression on people and leaves them thinking and feeling a certain way about you.

Every conversation is a selling moment that constructs lasting images in others’ minds. Considering how important first impressions can be, there are three words that are absolutely deadly to sales, your career and your very psyche. These three words, when uttered, send an extremely negative message to everyone around you. These words—just nine simple letters and one apostrophe—can have an incredibly detrimental effect on your ability to create new relationships, establish credibility and attract others. Ready? Here they are:

“I’m just the…” 

These three words by themselves send a very strong message about how you feel about yourself and how you view your value and contributions to your organization. “I’m just the” sets up a cascade of unflattering perceptions and opinions in the mind and hearts of the people being spoken too. It creates an indelible image that you have little to no value.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in regard to these three, seemingly harmless little words. They can negatively impact you in a number of ways.

  • This expression is one you are so wired to say,and it sends the message that “I don’t matter”. It’s akin to saying, “Please don’t take me seriously”. There is another dimension to the very damaging effects of these words. Imagine you are approached by your supervisor, manager or a colleague and they ask you some questions about a situation. The questioning could be entirely innocent or pointed—eliciting a defensive response in the form of “I’m just the” in an attempt to deflect blame or responsibility. These words are an intentional or unintentional way to defer accountability. It’s the unconscious way these words are used that set you up for failure and disengagement.
  • It’s similar to using “but” when you should say “and”. Using the word “but” is a bad idea because it negates everything that has been said up to that point. The same result occurs when you say, “I’m just the”. You make it harder on yourself to get what you need, and it drastically affects your ability to leave a lasting, positive impression. You must engage people to further your goals. Let them know you matter!
  • It sends the clear message that you don’t have confidencein what you do and how you contribute every single day. One of the most common questions in business is, “What do you do?” When faced with that question, you typically have a few seconds to make your mark. Don’t waste that opportunity by starting with “I’m just the”.
  • It telegraphs your insecurities.Everyone has them, and anyone who suggests that they are not insecure at some level is actually insecure. Secure people are ok with their insecurities and face them with courage and determination. Life can be hard enough without adding to it with these three words.
  • Clients and decision makers like confidence.Project confidence and be able to articulate what you do quickly (your value proposition) and capture people’s imagination and passion. Don’t squander that golden opportunity with the following answer …”I’m just the” and then your title. Snoozer.
  • It’s competitive out there!When you use these words you don’t differentiate or set yourself apart in any way. You might as well say “Please ignore me and talk to the next person.” When people attempt to engage you in conversation, believe that they want to try and find some common ground. Your job is to engage with others and to display an open willingness to taking the conversation to a deeper level.
  • It’s all about attitude and mindset. “I’m just the…” speaks volumes about your attitude and mindset. Whether accurate or not; once the message is sent then perception is set. Perception becomes reality and then it becomes very hard to turn that ship around. Don’t make things harder on yourself than need be. Perception is reality.
  • It does matter what people think! When you were growing up did your parents ever say, “It doesn’t matter what others think?” While that may be true in certain situations, when it comes to selling yourself, explaining your position or seeking consensus it does matter what people think. Please be very careful about your word choice when you are engaged in a conversation. Don’t make it easier to be dismissed by others by uttering the words ‘I’m just the”.
  • Respect. When you hold yourself accountable and refuse to hide behind “I’m just the” you show the world that you accept responsibility for your position or your opinion on a situation—regardless of outcome. Avoiding “I’m just the” will earn you respect and admiration.

If you have ever wondered why you have not gotten something you want, consider that your use of these three words might have been the roadblock in your mission. Attitude is everything. Even if you have not said them aloud, you may still be telegraphing this mindset. Watch your words and watch what happens.

You are important and vital. Tell the world!

Todd Cohen, CSP is an accomplished and sought after speaker, sales culture expert and author of Everyone’s in Sales and Everyone’s in Sales; STOP Apologizing. Todd’s dynamic and motivational presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of career path or position, everyone is a salesperson. Since 1984, Todd has led sales teams to deliver more than $850 million in revenue for leading companies including Xerox and Thomson-Reuters. For more information or to book Todd Cohen for your next meeting please visit www.ToddCohen.com.

The Silent Selling Tool We All Have

By Todd Cohen

Todd CohenSelling is something everyone does each and every day. Every conversation is a selling moment and a perfect opportunity to leave an indelible impression with whom you are speaking. That impression you leave can have other people wanting and clamoring to engage you. But wait – there is another selling tool that everyone uses every day. It is used more than conversation and many people do not have an active realization of how critical this tool is to success. Curious as to what it is? Here you go: Presence.

Presence is much more than you being physically present. It means how you present yourself in every situation you are in. It’s how you show up and engage people. Presence is how people perceive you as being interested in them and their business. Presence is how people see you as being in the game. Your ability to demonstrate your presence is a powerful—and potent—silent selling tool, and one that is all too often underestimated and misunderstood. In fact presence is a skill that is at times not respected. You have to have respect for yourself and others to be present.

Your presence creates an indelible impression on others and profoundly influences their very desire to engage and work with you. If you are present and can show it, you will find many more people who want to work with you and be your customer. It’s that simple.

So what is this thing called “presence”? It is not just one thing that you do—it’s a combination of behavior, body language and appearance.

Presence means much more than just being physically there. It means that you are showing that you want to be there. It’s showing that you are emotionally connected. An emotional connection demonstrates your dedication to being engaged and contributing. Presence displays your enthusiasm. It means that when you are with an audience, such as a training workshop or listening to a speaker, you are sending a message that you want to be there. How do you send that message? Keep reading!

Presence is body language. Eye contact, listening skills, and how you sit and show your interest is monumental to your presence and subsequently your success. If you are attending a class or seminar, how you sit and show you are paying attention says volumes. If you are sitting in a colleague’s cube or office, or in a meeting with a client or your manager, how you present yourself through your body language means a great deal to the perception of your interest level.

Presence is being self-aware. Highly successful people are highly-aware of how they are acting, and how their behavior is perceived at all times. They make their ability to be present work for them! Being proactively aware of your presence means you are in control and can make success happen.

Do you know what else highly-aware and present people do very well? They know through acute self-awareness when they have acted or behaved in a way that sends a negative message or has the wrong effect on people. People who are self-aware and present are comfortable with being vulnerable and owning their behavior. Presence is being accountable for who you are and how you act.

Presence is how you put yourself together. Remember “dress for success”? Well, it never stopped being important. Looking good means feeling good, and that screams presence. You don’t need to spend a lot to look great, and it will provide a boost to your presence and your job performance. Shined shoes, a tie tied correctly, pressed clothes and attention to detail takes very little time and does not have to be expensive. It takes being proactive by asking yourself, “Does how I appear help me achieve presence”? When you take the time to look good, you say you care about many things—and people take notice.

Presence is not taking yourself too seriously. There is an expression that absolutely fits the bill here: “Get over yourself”. People who are present are confident and self-assured. Another way of expressing this would be to say that people who are very present do not have to be the smartest person in the room. They have their ego in-check and, as a result, are more present and visible to people that one could ever imagine.

Not having to prove yourself right is an incredibly compelling way to sway and convince people of something. People who show up to prove others wrong or can’t keep their own insecurities in control just wind up silently telegraphing a message that they are not in the game and have an agenda that is their agenda only.

What’s my name? Those who are truly present use people’s names and use them often. When people hear their name used, they see that the person who they are speaking with is actually interested in their time and interested in them. Use your prospect’s name at the right time and interval. For example, when meeting someone, say “Nice to meet you, Ann” instead of just “Nice to meet you.” Or when you’re conversing, seek understanding by saying “Mike, does what I’m suggesting work for you?” instead of “Do you understand?” Using someone’s name naturally engages them and displays your level of engagement!

Your presence says everything about you and how you want people to see you. Don’t ever underestimate how your presence telegraphs a message to others. Being present is enthusiasm, passion and positive energy. Is that you?

Todd Cohen, CSP is an accomplished and sought after speaker, sales culture expert and author of Everyone’s in Sales and Everyone’s in Sales; STOP Apologizing. Todd’s dynamic and motivational presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of career path or position, everyone is a salesperson. Since 1984, Todd has led sales teams to deliver more than $850 million in revenue for leading companies including Xerox and Thomson-Reuters. For more information or to book Todd Cohen for your next meeting please visit www.toddcohen.com.

Sales Culture and Customer Service: Perfect Together!

Todd CohenBy Todd Cohen

Building a sales culture and creating a culture of exceptional customer service are closely linked but they are not the same. In fact, great customer service is a vital subset of a great sales culture—two processes that fuel one another. You cannot truly have one without the other.

A sales culture means that everyone’s in sales and that everyone knows the way in which what they do helps a customer say “yes.” Regardless of the positon you hold in a company, you do something every single day that has a systemic (and in some cases direct) impact on a customer’s decision to do business with you. This is a proactive and conscious belief system that you and the organization uphold. It is built on a foundation of trust that begins with the CEO conveying a culture that every employee matters, and acknowledging that creating a happy customer is not easy.

Everyone has their own examples of when they received extraordinary and subpar customer service. Southwest Airlines is an excellent example of an organization that employs a sales culture and also provides exceptional customer service; turning profits while making their customers happy along the way. On the other hand, some businesses seem more than willing to sacrifice long-term (and potentially lifetime) customers for that quarter’s metrics or stats sheet.

So what is the relationship between a great sales culture and a culture of great customer service? They are very tied to each other in several ways.

  1. Customer service is about making sure clients are happy before and after a purchase, and that’s why people come back. Right? Delivering great customer service and taking care of issues and complaints is a big reason for repeat purchases and increased sales. Everyone who comes into contact with clients and customers has a role in making them happy. It’s not just the front line person who owns customer service. Everyone does. That demonstrates that everyone’s in sales—sales culture.
  1. Metrics are not customer service, and they are not sales culture. Yes, things have to be measured so people can fill out some form and can say, “I did it.” Cool. What exactly did you do? Congratulations that you beat some arbitrary metric that says you delivered good service. The real measure of customer service is the proactive behavior that occurs when employees know how their actions impact the client, the way in which their actions lead to more sales, and when they take the time to build the bridge between what they did and how it had a positive effect. That takes time and a proactive attitude of showing people that what they did makes people want to come back.
  1. Customer service is so MUCH more than answering the phone nicely or being measured on how quickly one responds to a client’s problem. Customer service is about knowing that when a sterling level of service happens, it has a systemic effect on the company and the customer, who remembers it and buys more. One of the basic guidelines of sales culture is that everyone impacts the customer whether they know it or not, and it happens all the time. People need to be encouraged to recognize this fact and point it out every day.
  1. Making clients happy takes a team. Your virtual sales team—those who work behind the scenes to solve problems—are the sales culture anchor. Knowing where to turn in the event of an issue, means getting to the client quickly and correctly. When a company transfers customers to “the next person who can fix this” it creates a massive gap in effectiveness and efficiency, and can leave customers angry—which hurts business. When you foster a sales culture your employees realize their value is not merely tied to their title. They are people with a value proposition who can truly articulate what they do and know what others do as well.
  1. A great sales culture builds a better company, better products and creates more satisfied clients. The people delivering customer service have a direct impact on the clients’ desire to make referrals. When was the last time you received a positive referral because of a lapse in customer service?
  1. It’s all about the mindset. Building a sales culture and a customer service culture starts and ends with the core belief that this is about a mindset; not a book, guide or manual. It’s not a flowchart. Delivering the right stuff means your staff has a mentality to do the best and right thing and not feel forced to do it. You can’t make someone have the right mindset, but you can encourage, train and motivate people to use their best and bring the right attitude every day to the job.

So you see that sales culture and customer service work hand in hand. Sales culture and customer service are not the byproducts of a spreadsheet that shows some details that need to be fixed reactively. The principles and building blocks of sales culture are alive and well in the workings of highly successful customer service departments. We are all in sales, and we are all in customer service because we all have a chance to make a client happy, more satisfied, and a strong referral source for future business.

Todd Cohen, CSP is an accomplished and sought after speaker, sales culture expert and author of Everyone’s in Sales and Everyone’s in Sales; STOP Apologizing. Todd’s dynamic and motivational presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of career path or position, everyone is a salesperson. Since 1984, Todd has led sales teams to deliver more than $850 million in revenue for leading companies including Xerox and Thomson-Reuters. For more information or to book Todd Cohen for your next meeting please visit www.ToddCohen.com.

Building a Sales Culture in Your Business: Everyone’s in Sales

Todd CohenBy Todd Cohen

If you’re reading this, then you are in sales. Everyone is part of a sales culture, whether you are in the “C” suite, or a member of the legal or administrative department; whether you own your business or are the receptionist in a Fortune 500 company. A sales culture means that everyone’s in sales. Does this mean that all employees have to stop doing what they are doing and make some cold calls? Nope. A sales culture means that each and every employee—regardless of title or tenure—understands that they have a profound impact on a customer’s decision to say “yes.” Put simply, everyone’s in sales because everyone needs to sell themselves well to succeed!

Every Conversation and Interaction We Have Is an Opportunity to Sell Our Skills, Knowledge, Ideas or Ourselves.

Every single conversation is a bona-fide selling moment. Those conversations are the opportunity to make an impression that begins to build or continue a relationship. There is no such thing as a lost conversation or one that does not count. Every single interaction you have means you have about 7-10 seconds to engage someone in a way that makes them want to know more or continue the conversation. Once this is understood and thought of proactively you can comprehend that you are constantly selling yourself.

There are two types of sales people: the ones who self-identify as being in sales and everyone else. These people are the “non–professional sales person” (NPSP). People are exercising the basics of sales far more often than they think. From lawyers to the owners of the local fast food restaurant—they are all in sales.

Then there are the people in companies who need to sell something internally. One common example that comes to mind is someone engaged in research and has a great idea that needs funding to make it happen. It has to be sold to the bosses! You’ve all used and heard the term “it has to be sold” or “we need buy in” when referring to something internal to your companies or in your personal lives.

Regardless of how you see yourself, here is the point that needs to be firmly and unequivocally understood. Telling people that they are in sales usually provokes two types of reactions. The first being “Yep, I agree.” The second reaction is “nope, not me—’m not in sales.” The latter is sometimes said with a slightly confused gaze, but the intent is there. Everyone is exercising the fundamentals of sales far more often than they think.

It is also a fact that some non-professional sales people will vehemently deny this entire concept because in some way there is a fear that being thought of as having to “sell” is not something they have to do. The older guard of the NPSP did not have to sell as we think of it today. Business came by referral and word of mouth. Oh, the times have changed!

How Non-Professional Sales People Sell: Sales fundamentals take place in non-sales settings constantly. Conversing, handling objections, networking, building relationships, listening and helping are all selling motions. The fundamental skills of selling are the same skills that you use every day in some fashion. Most of the time you don’t realize it and when it’s pointed out the usual reaction is “Hey…I’m not in sales” or “Sales…that’s not my job!” It cannot be said often enough – when you talk you sell. It’s the same and synonymous motion. When you speak, people form an impression very quickly and that is a selling activity. So, the NPSP is as much a sales person every day as much as the professional sales person. The only difference is that a professional sales person is getting paid to sell. The NPSP gets what they want by selling themselves, ideas and passions and as a result good thigs happen. Sometimes those good things are monetary like a raise. Your ability and proactive recognition that you sell all the time leads to good things.

Selling is not something that requires people to stop what they are doing and do something different. It is not a mode change. It is rooted in solid relationship building and developing trust. It is not unlike complex solution selling that we sales professionals experience all the time. In other words, selling is “don’t do anything different, think differently about what you do.” What you do every day impacts and influences people in many different ways—and that’s sales! Things do not happen magically in a vacuum. You need to get out there and sell yourself and your ideas so you can get what you want, need and deserve!

Some great advice is just to relax, be natural and listen to your target “buyer.” If you get too wrapped up in thinking too much about it then you will have some (big) challenges. Listen, ask questions and see how you can help. Have your facts ready and make sure they are right. “Facts don’t lie.” Facts help the selling process for everyone.

Companies with a Sales Culture Do Better. Companies with a sales culture have one indelible quality that defines them: every single person knows their role and not just what their title implies. Selling is a complex process and it is no longer a linear relationship between the sales person and the client. There is not a sale that could happen without the help and input of many people around the organization. Everyone has a systemic role and everyone does something that helps a customer say “yes.” People thinking “sales, not my job” are people who will keep the company mired in mediocrity because they think that selling is something else that they have to do in addition to their job. The point is that their job is sales and what they do is vital to the company engaging and closing more customers.

Todd Cohen, CSP is an accomplished and sought after speaker, sales culture expert and author of Everyone’s in Sales and Everyone’s in Sales; STOP Apologizing. Todd’s dynamic and motivational presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of career path or position, everyone is a salesperson. Since 1984, Todd has led sales teams to deliver more than $850 million in revenue for leading companies including Xerox and Thomson-Reuters. For more information or to book Todd Cohen for your next meeting please visit www.ToddCohen.com.