Tag Archives: self-improvement

Understanding the Importance of Decision Triggers In Selling to Your Prospects

By Jill J. Johnson, MBA

Jill Johnson-decision triggers

A key component of effective target marketing involves developing deep insight into the decision-making process influencing how your customers make their purchasing choices. For organizations working with diverse customer needs, moving your prospects from, “I’m interested,” to “I’ll buy,” is a highly complex process. What is significant and how this will impact each of your prospects in their buying decision can vary.

This buying decision might involve a need to consolidate their vendor list enabling you to become their sole source or among their most trusted resource providers. Their decision may also impact how they view the value of buying additional services or other resources you offer.

Understanding how your target market makes decisions is fundamental to more effectively promoting your products and services. It is essential for you to understand your prospect’s decision-making process and what triggers their buying decisions to more quickly move your sales to a “yes.” Insight into what triggers your prospects in their decision-making process allows you to adapt your messages to highlight the unique characteristics of concern to your customers. Adapt your sales approach to their needs rather than using a “cookie cutter” approach. By tailoring your promotional strategies, you can enhance your opportunities to win the sale or deepen your relationship with your potential customer. You can use this insight to carefully craft your sales approach to meet their unique needs and concerns.

Each Prospect Has Unique Decision Triggers

Knowing what will move your prospects forward in a sale is just as important as knowing what is holding them back from saying “yes.” Decision Triggers can range from stress about the costs of your product or service and not understanding the value-add you offer, to believing they need support for the decision from a trusted member of their leadership team. In your sales approach, you need to utilize probing questions to isolate how they will make their decision about investing in buying a product or service from you. You must also uncover and understand the motives of who else is involved in making the decision.

Do the work to understand what Decision Triggers are at play with your prospective customers and with the other key stakeholders they rely on for support. Knowing how to activate or neutralize these triggers will provide you with vital insight on how to adjust your sales messaging tactics. Once you understand their Decision Triggers, you can determine what you should provide your prospect so they can move forward with their decision to buy from you.

Once you understand the Decision Triggers driving your sales prospects, then you can tie it to the rest of your promotional strategy. Click To Tweet

Navigate the Decision Continuum

As you move your prospective customers through their Decision Continuum, consider what your goals are each step of the way. If they reach out to you via your website or email, your goal is to get them to talk with you in person. If they ask you for information, determine what information they really need and what you can follow-up with if the sale is going to take longer than one interaction. Your goal is to keep them engaged with you and moving forward toward completing the sale and getting them to join your customer ranks—both now and long-term.

Understanding how to navigate a prospect along their Decision Continuum requires you to probe them carefully about what is important to them and their key stakeholders. In this process, you are identifying what their critical Decision Triggers are while gaining an understanding of how you need to incorporate this insight into your sales approach.

All too often when a company or organization has been around a long time, the manner in which sales are made to prospects becomes somewhat stagnant. Use decision insight to make sure your messaging is fresh, unique, and clearly matched to the evolving needs of your prospect. It might be time to reassess and revise your messaging to ensure you are hitting the hot buttons of your prospects and matching your approach to what they are most concerned about. This approach will get them to buy and stay with you beyond the initial sale.

Decision Triggers Drive Sales and Promotional Strategy

Listen carefully to the words your prospective customers use and how they describe their needs and concerns. This insight can help you shape your sales messaging back to them in ways that mirror their words. As you match your sales messaging to where they are on their Decision Continuum, you will have a better understanding of how to highlight key product or service features or benefits. This approach leverages the Decision Triggers to your target market to match what matters most to them. By specifically tailoring your messages to your prospect’s Decision Triggers, you can significantly increase the potential for achieving the sale. What you offer only matters if it matters to your prospective customers.

Once you understand the Decision Triggers driving your sales prospects, then you can tie it to the rest of your promotional strategy. You can incorporate your deep customer insight into all of your collateral materials, advertising, public relations stories, video clips, website and social media. These communications messages can reinforce how you want your prospective customers to respond to your sales messages. If there is a disconnect anywhere in the Decision Continuum, you are at risk of not being able to achieve the sales success you desire.

Final Thoughts

By incorporating insight about your prospective customer’s Decision Triggers, you can help your prospect gain confidence that the product or service you are trying to sell to them will truly benefit them and make a difference in their lives or businesses. They will have more confidence in buying from you because you will have tied your presentation to their concerns. As a result, your prospective customers can be reassured your products or services can and will effectively meet their needs. Leveraging your prospect’s Decision Triggers will make your sales cycle more efficient. It will result in more sales, help you build superior customer relationships, and will boost customer satisfaction when you deliver on what you promised.

Jill J. Johnson is the President and Founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the bestselling book Compounding Your Confidence. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted more than 4 billion dollars worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information on Jill J. Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.com.

Strategies for Remaining Indispensable at Work: Proving Your Value

By Michele Wierzgac, MSEd

Michele Wierzgac-brand champions

The economy is booming—great! But wait—organizations continue to focus on cutting labor costs. Why? Labor costs comprise 80 percent or more of an organization’s operating costs. This fact clearly creates another problem among the workforceprotecting your job.

How then can you remain indispensable at work? By bringing attention to the value of what you do. How do you do that? By focusing on where the organization is going rather than on the procedural or day-to-day maintenance issues of your position. Begin thinking of how you contribute to the success of the organization. Do you know what the top business issues are within your organization?

1. See Their Point of View

Enhance your role as a team player by demonstrating a sincere interest in your company and looking at issues from the employer’s viewpoint. If it is the cost of labor that is forcing companies to cut back within your department, get together with your boss and figure out ways to merge systems, cut costs, negotiate spending, or merge tasks between departments. Often in companies where there are several departments duplicating efforts, redundancies can be eliminated.

2. Talk in Sound Bites

Concentrate on improving communication with your employer. Think about how your listener will receive the message. Put yourself in the listener’s shoes and anticipate how he or she might react. Learn to talk in sound bitesquick and fast. Bosses want the summary, not all the details.

Strive to be that one shining employee. Click To Tweet

3. Find a Mentor

To be the most indispensable employee you can be, get a coach. Surround yourself with mentors and coaches from inside and outside your industry. How do you get a coach? Look around your informal and formal networks and figure out who you would like to emulate. Whose skills and career path do you admire? Then just ask if he or she will mentor you. Most of the time, people are flattered that they have been asked. It does not take much time, perhaps just a 45-minute phone call once every three months. You tell them what is going on and they give you simple advice to get back on track.

5. Recruit Brand Champions

You are a brand! Who supports you? Who are the people that are always spreading the good news about you? These are your brand champions. It is critical that you update your friends, family, colleagues, parents at PTA meetings, and anyone else you know about what you are doing or what you want to do. Why? Because your networks are filled with the power and credibility to spread the word about you. To begin with you need to understand the difference between formal networks (professional organizations that you pay dues to, with regulations, meetings and guidelines) and informal networks (people you meet in the lobby of a hotel or on an airplane or through hobbies). Social networks are a hybrid of the two. Next, you need to communicate to your brand champions about your work, your talents, and changes you are thinking about. If you need a favor, ask, and reciprocate by asking what you can do for them in return. Send out regular alerts through your grapevine and share your success stories. Start a buzz and you will be amazed at what happens.

6. Safeguard Your Reputation

A brand creates an image of trust and loyalty over time. It takes years to build a name, reputation, and networksand takes a minute to lose it all. Always protect your name. See what others are saying about you. The key to leadership is listening to criticism and self-correcting. When a mentor gives you criticism about something you are perhaps not thinking about, it takes courage to change.  You must earn credibility, not expect it. Be prepared to spend years on earning credibility.

A Final Thought

Every workplace has that one employee that everyone goes to for answers to their problems. They know everyone and they know how to get things done. Strive to be that one shining employee by following these steps. Remember, being a key member of a team has the biggest benefit—job security.

Michele Wierzgac is a leadership expert, keynote speaker, and author of the forthcoming book, Ass Kicking Women: How They Leverage Their Informal Networks For Success. With her high energy presentations, Michele conveys sound leadership solutions and promotes audience engagement and on-your-feet participation. She promises her audience that they will leave her solution-driven keynotes and workshops with at least one passionate, life transforming leadership tool. For more information on bringing in Michele Wierzgac for your next event, please visit: https://micheleandco.com.

The Pursuit of Perfection

Do you want a staff of perfectionists?

By Peter Lyle DeHaan , PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Some managers say “yes,” whereas others respond with a resounding “no.” The informed answer is, “it all depends.” Here’s why:

Of that portion of the populace who are perfectionists, some are blindly or proudly so. Others are self-aware of possessing this characteristic and informed about it; I call them recovering perfectionists. A self-aware perfectionist understands this condition, knowing how to tap into and celebrate the many strengths and benefits of pursuing excellence. At the same time, they know to guard against its limiting, self-defeating, and even paralyzing facets.

Doing research on perfectionism reveals a host of debilitating traits, starting with compulsiveness and going downhill from there. However, knowledgeable perfectionists can tap into the positive aspects of their natural tendencies when appropriate, that is, when it is to their advantage to do so. At the same time, they can usually avoid being handicapped by perfectionism’s alluring snares.

Doing research on perfectionism reveals a host of ominous and debilitating traits, starting with compulsiveness and going downhill from there. Click To Tweet

For a perfectionist, there are many traits which provide great value in the workplace:

  • Produce quality work: Perfectionists tend to produce high quality work. They take pleasure in excellence and find satisfaction in a job well-done.
  • Exceed expectations: If the boss expects a short summary, the perfectionist will submit a report. If achieving a 99 percent rating is admirable, the purist will aim for 99.9—and then 100. Being above average is not good enough; being the best is a self-imposed requirement.
  • Go the extra mile: Perfectionists often give more than asked. If a report needs to be five pages long, they will turn in six. If a product needs to have three new features, they will add a fourth and maybe a fifth. If they set a record last month, they will strive to better it this month. In sports, this results in shooting free throws while the rest of the team showers or taking 30 minutes of extra batting practice—every day.
  • Set high standards: Another trait is that perfectionists set high standards, both for themselves and others. As long as the standards are reasonably attainable, it is acceptable, and even admirable for the perfectionist to set a bar high—for him or herself. (However, foisting faultlessness on the others does little more than establish the groundwork for future frustration, disappointment, and conflict between the precision-minded and the rest of the world.)

Of course, there are counterparts to these traits. One is procrastination. It is said that the perfectionist subconsciously reasons that the results of their work will never be just right—no matter how much time is invested—so why start? In fact, the project is often delayed until the last possible moment, so there is a plausible excuse as to why it’s not perfect: “I didn’t have much time to work on it!” Taking this to an extreme, some perfectionists miss deadlines and blow past due dates, often agonizing over some trivial or irrelevant detail.

Another side-effect associated with perfectionism is having problems in making quick decisions. Sometimes, they need to “sleep on it” to be assured of the correctness of their judgment. Other times decisions can be agonizingly difficult for them to reach. They fear making the wrong conclusion, that is, a less than perfect one. They delay a decision, while awaiting more information, so they can conduct an informed analysis. Unfortunately, this mental paralysis is seldom cured by amassing more data.

Over the years I have often interviewed perfectionists during job interviews. As it becomes apparent that I am talking to a perfectionist, I segue into a special interview segment, just for them. “So,” I inquire, “Do you consider yourself to be a perfectionist?”

Their responses fall into one of three categories. The first one is shock or denial. If a person who has just exhibited several perfectionist traits is taken aback at the thought of being called one or disavows any connection whatsoever, I judge them to either be disingenuous or lacking in self-awareness. Neither are characteristics that I seek in an employee.

The second type of response to my perfectionist query is unabashed pride and total satisfaction in possessing this quality. To make sure I am not rushing to a snap judgment, I give them one last chance for redemption. “What,” I ask, “do you see as the weaknesses of being a perfectionist?” Occasionally, they will comprehend the importance of that question, using an astute answer to move them from this category over to category three. Usually, however, they give me a blank stare, as if my inquiry was nonsensical, responding that there is no downside or that they don’t understand what I asked. In similar fashion, I don’t want to work with a perfectionist that has failed to realize the turmoil and trouble they can produce by their proclivity for perfection.

The third type of perfectionist applicant smiles at this question and begins to share their self-awareness about the shortcomings of how their version of perfectionism is manifested. They openly identify the less then admirable ways that it reveals itself in them and often proceeds to communicate how they guard themselves and others from this tendency. This is a person I want on my team. Yes, they may require a bit more management effort from time to time, but doing so is worth the extra energy as the results will be an employee who produces quality work, frequently exceeds expectations, goes the extra mile, and sets high standards for him or herself. Isn’t that who you want working in your organization, too?

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is a published author and commercial freelance writer who provides content marketing services.

Four Reasons Every Professional Should Have a Strategic Plan for Personal Development

By Tra Williams

Tra Williams

If you are serious about growing your business, everyone on your team needs a strategic plan for their own development that is separate from and exceeds the company’s current needs. Here’s why

Every year millions of business leaders spend days if not weeks collaborating with their peers to develop a strategic plan for their company to execute. Goals are set, tactics are outlined, and information is cascaded to all levels of the organization. If done properly, each department and each person understands their role in the plan and throughout the twelve months that follow everyone strives to do their part.

However, in doing so, they hitch their personal development to the company wagon.

Individuals are more marketable when their skillset advances with its own momentum. Click To Tweet

Without a separate strategic plan for themselves as individuals, they unwittingly limit their development to the skills required to achieve the goals of their employer.  Most don’t think about or realize the limitation because their employer usually acknowledges and rewards them for their efforts. Therefore, their development feels like an accomplishment not a limitation. But here are four reasons why the company-prescribed linear path isn’t enough for the individual or the company.

1. White Space

Great companies build growth strategies around the opportunities that their existing infrastructure affords them.  If every team member develops only in ways and at the pace that their employer’s goals require, then the organization’s growth is limited to the plans that are laid each year. However, if team members are developing with their own momentum, previously unplanned opportunities can be immediately seized. There are no crystal balls, so growth-focused organizations need untapped talent on their bench if they want the corporate agility that unplanned opportunities require.

2. Stronger Partnerships

When potential business partnerships or joint ventures are being contemplated the due diligence should and usually does include an asset assessment—and people are every company’s most valuable asset.  The very nature of new partnerships means growth and change.  Both sides of the equation want to know that the other side has the existing talent that the venture requires.  Imagine how quickly a new business relationship would crumble if the strategy was initiated concurrently with the personnel development required to execute it.

3. Marketability

Individuals are more marketable when their skillset advances with its own momentum. Fortunately, they also add marketability to the company itself. Most business owners have a planned exit strategy that usually involves a merger, an acquisition, or possibly going public; and all three require an investment from outside the company. Investors always expect growth in addition to a return on their investment. Potential shareholders may not examine employee development prior to buying Apple or Amazon stock, but venture capitalists look for companies that have growth opportunities and a talent pool to turn those opportunities into profits. Untapped talent means additional revenue opportunities, and that’s like ringing the dinner bell for hungry investors.

4. Succession

Succession planning is always a fickle challenge. As businesses mature so does their leadership. More often than not, members of the existing executive leadership team are all very close in age. When they begin to hit the retirement horizon a difficult problem arises; promote from within or hire from without.  Hiring externally is always a gamble and studies have shown that it is more cost-effective to develop your own leaders.  A study by the Wharton School of Business showed that hiring externally costs 18-20 percent more than promoting from within and performs worse—at least in the first two years. A Harvard study showed that replacing a CEO with an externally candidate results in an average performance drop of 6 percent. New faces come with unknown consequences and culture is binary; someone may look good on paper but a C-Level exec who is culturally inconsistent with the company can have catastrophic consequences, especially in smaller organizations.

If you are serious about growing your business, every person on your team needs a strategic plan for their own development that is separate from and exceeds the company’s current needs. It is important that each person develop their own plan; it should not be made up of additional expectations prescribed by the company.  However, the company should set parameters for what is included in each person’s plan. For instance, every person’s plan should include hard and soft skills. At least one of their personal development goals should be a hard skill that it is unrelated to their current duties. The plan should also include short and long term development goals. With enough practice, it may only take a few months to become a better public speaker, but it may take years to speak in another language. And finally, every person’s plan should include at least one goal that builds upon his or her previous plan. While not too prescriptive, parameters like these assure development breadth and depth.

We spend a lot of time developing plans for our businesses. And to be fair, most of us work hard to facilitate people development as well. There is a difference, however, between working hard to facilitate something and having a tangible strategic plan that includes tactics and measurable outcomes. The former shows that you care about your people. The latter shows that you recognize personal development is the lynchpin for success.

Tra Williams is a celebrated speaker, business consultant and author of the forthcoming book Feed Your Unicorn. He is a nationally recognized thought leader in small business, franchising, leadership and entrepreneurship. Tra works tirelessly with people, professionals, and organizations to help them define success on their own terms and build the framework required to sustain it. For more information, please visit: www.TraWilliams.com.

Harness Your Professional Power: Be a Victor not a Victim

By Jennifer Powers

Jennifer Poweres- power of choice

Have you ever found yourself making statements like these…?

“I’m miserable at work because my boss is a jerk.”

“I’d work harder if they paid me more.”

“I’d get more work done if my co-workers weren’t always interrupting me.”

”I would get more sales if I had better leads.”

“If the economy were better I wouldn’t be in this financial mess.”

Surely you have. You’re human.

But the truth is, when you make statements like these you are blaming other people, things, and circumstances for your reality being the way it is. You are holding everyone and everything else responsible for YOUR outcomes, feelings, actions, reactions, and choices. And when you do that you’re acting like…wait for it…a victim. Ouch.

If that wasn’t ugly enough, when you choose to play the victim you’re literally GIVING YOUR POWER AWAY to the person or thing you hold responsible for your state of affairs. They don’t even ask for it. You just GIVE. IT. AWAY. Your power is far too valuable to give it away. And hopefully, it goes without saying that if you’re freely giving away your power like that, you’ll find you have less and less on hand to help you reach your professional goals. Oh, and with less power, your performance will suffer too. But you know this, right?

So, here’s something…You’re no victim. YOU are not a victim. Nope. Not you. You’re not a victim … unless of course you choose to be.
That’s right. In every moment of every day you can choose to either play the victim or the victor. In other words, you get to choose to give your power away or hold onto it. Bam.

Choose it. Own it. Be it. Click To Tweet

Want to hold onto it? Good choice.

In order to choose the victor role and hold onto your power, you must be willing to take some responsibility for things. After all, some responsibility must be yours. It’s YOUR reality we’re talking about here. See, once you realize that you own a chunk of the responsibility in any situation, you can then own your power and begin to realize the control you have over the situation. So when you’re ready to be a victor, here are the three areas you’ll want to focus on:

FEELINGS

Victims hold other people and things responsible for the way they feel. They relish in the opportunity to blame their misery/sadness/anger/etc. on others. This keeps them small and powerless. For example, Steve, a long-time bank employee, does this whenever he blames his boss for his frustrations at work. He says if his boss weren’t so demanding, he would be happier at work.

For Steve to step into the victor role, he would have to take full responsibility and ownership for the way he feels. Sure, his boss may be demanding, and he can’t control that. But he can control how he chooses to feel about his boss and his job. Steve could begin to take his power back by asking himself, “How do I deserve to feel?”

ACTIONS/REACTIONS

Victims make no connection between their actions/reactions and their reality. On the flip side, victors understand how their actions/reactions play a part in their reality. 

Karen, a department manager, chooses to play the victim when she gets frustrated that her employees never come to her when there’s a problem. She says that she is always “in the dark.” This frustration obviously keeps her from performing her best. To step into the victor role, Karen could try to identify the connection between her actions/reactions and her employees’ reluctance to come to her when there’s trouble. Karen could ask herself, “What might I have said or done to make my staff feel uncomfortable coming to me?”  

POWER OF CHOICE

Victims believe and act as if they have no choice. Back to Steve. Again, he plays the victim when he says he is “stuck with this job” that makes him so miserable. Steve is obviously forgetting that he is a whole and resourceful being with this awesome super power to choose. The difference here is that victors recognize and exercise their power of choice. They don’t feel stuck. They know that they always have at least two choices. So for Steve to step out of the victim role, he could ask himself, “What choices do I have?” It’s not until Steve recognizes and exercises his power of choice that he can take his power back and have more control over his reality.

So, all of this begs the question, who or what do you tend to blame for your reality, feelings, actions or reactions? What choices are you not recognizing? Not making?

By holding everyone and everything else responsible for your life being the way it is, you are holding yourself back from reaching your full potential. You’re staying small.

And you are not small.

Stop acting like you are.

Take your power back and watch what happens. Watch yourself bloom, grow, and thrive. Watch yourself be your best self. You deserve that. You are a victor and a very powerful one at that.
Choose it. Own it. Be it.

Jennifer Powers, MCC is an international speaker, executive coach, author of the best-selling book “Oh, shift!”, and host of the fun and binge-worthy “Oh, shift!” podcast. Since founding her speaking practice, Jennifer has worked with hundreds of professionals and delivered powerful keynote addresses to over 250,000 people around the globe. For more information on bringing Jennifer Powers to your next event, please visit www.ohshift.com.