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NZ Sales Manager - Issue 91

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NZ’S E-MAG FOR SALES LEADERS | WWW.NZSALESMANAGER.CO.NZ FEBRUARY | ISSUE 91 Business Writing: Overlook This At Your Peril! Assumptions: Why Being Right is Wrong Coaching is not a 'Tick-box' Exercise
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  • NZS E-MAG FOR SALES LEADERS | WWW.NZSALESMANAGER.CO.NZ

    FEBRUARY | ISSUE 91

    Business Writing: Overlook This At Your Peril!

    Assumptions: Why Being Right is WrongCoaching is not a 'Tick-box' Exercise

  • 02 | www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz

    From the EditorSteven Covey describes communication as the most important skill in life in his classic 7 habits of highly effective people. He describes how we are taught how to read, write and speak, but rarely are we taught how to listen. In this issue we follow a theme on communication. Ambrose

    Blowfield describes the importance of good business writing, and gives three excellent tips on how you can improve your written communication today. Jill Konraths story highlights the importance of preparation to be able to have good relevant

    ABOUTShort and sharp, New Zealand Sales Manager is a free e-magazine delivering thought provoking and enlightening articles, and industry news and information to forward-thinking sales managers, business owners and sales professionals.

    conversations, and Sharon Drew Morgan presents some fascinating facts about listening, and describes how our listening can lead to assumptions that can damage the relationship and maybe kill the sale. Enjoy the read and good luck with fine tuning your communication!

    PNCONTACT/SUBSCRIBE&SHARE

    W www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz

    E [email protected]

    EDITOR Paul Newsom

    ART DIRECTOR Jodi Olsson

    GROUP EDITOR Richard Liew

    ADDRESS NZ Sales Manager, C/- Espire Media, PO Box 99758, Newmarket, Auckland 1151, NZ

    ISSN 2230-4762

    CONTENT ENQUIRIES Phone Paul on 021 784 070 or email [email protected]

    ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Phone Jennifer on 09 522 7257 or email [email protected]

    SUBSCRIBE AT www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz. Its free!

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    BNZs proud to be Canstar best small business bank* for the fourth year running.

    4971

    *Best Small Business Bank Award independently rated by Canstar 2014.

    Talk to us today. 0800 269 763 bnz.co.nz/smallbusiness

    Wed like to thank you.

  • BNZs proud to be Canstar best small business bank* for the fourth year running.

    4971

    *Best Small Business Bank Award independently rated by Canstar 2014.

    Talk to us today. 0800 269 763 bnz.co.nz/smallbusiness

    Wed like to thank you.

  • 04 | www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz

    FEBRUARYcontents

    THIS MONTH'S MUST READ...............................................................................................................6BUSINESS WRITING: OVERLOOK THIS AT YOUR PERIL!

    LOST ART OF THE QUICK START.....................................................................................12

    ASSUMPTIONS: WHY BEING RIGHT IS WRONG........................................................................18

    TWO MINUTE TOP-UP.......................................................................................................................20COACHING IS NOT A 'TICK-BOX' EXERCISE

    QUICK FIX..........................................................................................................................................22 Its not what you sell, its how you sell

    BOOK REVIEW...................................................................................................................................24Your Best Year Yet: The 10 Questions that Will Change Your Life For Ever by Jinny Ditzler

    THE CLOSE........................................................................................................................................26

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  • 06 | www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz

    MUSTREAD

    Words by Ambrose Blowfield

    Business Writing: Overlook This At Your Peril!

    Its amazing how much time, effort and training is put into traditional selling. We often find that businesses that are ahead of their industry average are those that dedicate serious time to selling and to improving the skill set of their sales teams. The key question isnt so much do they develop their sales teams? its more the question of in what way do they develop their sales teams?

    Most businesses focus on what they deem to be the most important areas of their business. If they are technically driven, they focus on R&D and product development. If they are sales driven they focus on their sales team. In a country like New Zealand, face-to-face selling is where many companies believe the client is won or lost, so businesses often focus on developing persuasive selling skills to be able to close the sale more effectively.

  • www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz | 07

    They even focus on their sales pipeline management and so address the need to develop the telephone selling skills needed to secure those all-important client meetings. However there is one area where rarely any focus or investment is placed by businesses and sales managers alike, despite it being more commonly used than face-to-face and telephone as a form of business communication.

    That area is business writing. Business writing not only covers things like emails, proposals and tenders to clients, it even covers internal emails to colleagues, without whom there would unlikely be any customers long-term.

    Now I can accept that many of you didnt love learning English literature and English language at school. To tell you the truth, I didnt love those subjects either. Little did we know at the time that when your teachers said Youll always need both English and maths, they were right! In fact, we have found in working with thousands of businesses that it doesnt take much to dramatically improve a business writing.

    Offline and online teams dont always talk cohesively, nor do marketing and sales teams. The marketing team can put out one brand message and then the sales team can then use a very different structure, tone and set of standards. In the eyes of the customer this is no different to over-selling a products capabilities to then have the product not live up to expectations!

  • 08 | www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz

    What clients crave these days is consistency. Businesses risk a disconnect in the eyes of the information recipient if there are mixed messages. You may have a salesman that is excellent in face-to-face selling, they may even be one of the best in the country, but then when it comes to formalising the client agreement, they can barely form a coherent sentence.

    Training exists, but commonly many businesses never invest in how their sales staff write to their clients or to other staff members, to clear these discrepancies in the eyes of their customer and look a lot more professional. Just as common, few businesses invest in training their customer support team or admin team where many individuals interact directly with potential customers and existing customers on an ongoing basis. To test this, get everyone in your office or business to write an email or letter all fundamentally saying the same thing.

    It could be an email confirming a business appointment with a client, or an email thanking sometime for the meeting you just had, even an internal email asking security to have a car removed thats blocking the loading bay. As youll see, everyone has their own tone and writing style. This should be allowed, but people should also understand when there is a time and a place in a business relationship for formality and consistency, and there is a time when the tone can be a little more relaxed.

  • Once youve completed the test, try applying these tips to improve the performance of your businesses writing capabilities:

    1. Always remember that emails and texts are a cold form of communication. As a medium they do not readily convey any emotion or reaction to what is being said. Remedying this only takes one line: Instead of emailing something like: John Please find attached

    the proposal we discussed Try simply adding: John Thank you again for the opportunity to work with you on this project Please find attached the proposal we discussed By simply adding in a warm one liner you turn your cold email into one that is warm, personal and more aligned to the way you treat clients face-to-face and by phone. We have found over the years that very few people do this, so it can become a great point of difference, especially for your sales team.

    2. While I appreciate that many programmes like Microsoft Outlook now have clever tools that pick up the word attachment in the body of our emails to then remind us to add an attachment if we forgot to, they sadly do not pick up on our occasional stupidity!

    3. A simple tip to minimise your email business writing risk is to alter your email rules in Outlook to have your computer hold your emails in the outbox folder for say 15 minutes before sending them to the internet. This will often give you more than enough time to go into the outbox folder to retrieve a less than perfect email and make changes before sending it. However: please note that this simple tool is not fool proof: what you are actually doing is telling Outlook to send & receive emails on the hour and every fifteen minutes after

    that. If you happen to type a poor email, and hit send at 14minutes 57seconds past the hour, youll probably miss it. Regardless of this risk, the many sales reps we have taught this tip to have found it avoids over 95% of those awkward moments! Try it.

  • 010 | www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz

    Ambrose Blowfield is the founder and Expert Facilitator for THE Marketing Company. For more details on Ambrose, and sales and marketing training please see the website above

    www.themarketingcompany.co.nz

    4. Finally, there are countless common sense business writing tips that many sales people overlook. Things like the need to reduce the use of industry or product jargon from emails, especially if the email may be forwarded to someone else in the organisation who has fewer technical skills. In some way, business emails should be short, sharp and to the point so having drafted your emails you should try to cut down the volume of words by say 25% in order to get your point across more clearly without cluttering up your clients mind with waffle. Trying to use more active language to stimulate action is also useful: saying things like I recommend rather than Allow me to make a recommendation for you. I could comment about the need to watch your tone in business writing, but you probably know that already! If you treat business writing with respect, it can be a phenomenal tool in your sales arsenal. A business can often put serious time, money and effort into getting customers over the line, a proposal

    might look good but the main email might be Tom, see attached, see you next week. That may be enough to make a client re-think the proposal theyre about to accept. At the very least it may put a small doubt in the back of the clients mind that may resurface later. Can your business really afford for something as simple as a

    grammar mistake, or business writing faux pas to lose a client that your face-to-face and telephone skills have worked so hard to get?

    Overlook this aspect of your business at your peril people!

    In some way, business

    emails should be short,

    sharp and to the point so

    having drafted your emails

    you should try to cut down

    the volume of words by say

    25% in order to get your point across more

    clearly without cluttering up your clients

    mind with waffle.

  • www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz | 011

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  • 012 | www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz

    Words by Jill Konrath

    With the year-end push behind him, Matt wasnt looking forward to rebuilding his pipeline. Yet he knew that his boss would be on him to 'pound the phones' as soon as he got into the office. More, more. Faster, faster. Close, close. It was an endless cycle that

    sometimes made him question why he stayed in this profession. At least

    the traffic was light as he drove into work. Perhaps it was a positive

    omen, something he desperately needed after that weird dream that

    had been haunting him for days. He decided to treat himself to a latte at

    Starbucks before starting his prospecting marathon.

    On entering, he saw Danielle, the teams perennial superstar, tucked

    away in a corner table. She made selling look easy. And, he realized

    with a start, shed been a key player in that dream. Maybe shed

    have some insights into its meaning.

    After getting his latte, Matt sauntered over. Happy New Year! Mind

    if I interrupt? Danielle looked up and smiled, Ive been waiting for

    you. Have a seat. And, tell me about your dream.

    Lost Art of the Quick Start

  • www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz | 013

    How did you know? Matt stuttered.

    But not even waiting for an answer, he continued, It was the strangest thing. Our team, all of us, were at a big race track. We were at the starting gate, each of us behind the wheel of these high performance cars. The boss was out in front with the starting gun. When he pulled the trigger, we all took off at full speed. I was out of the gate before any of you. Then, just as I was rounding the first curve, a big sign popped up and said: Haste makes waste. I thought it was strange. Then seconds later, another sign appeared: Slow is the new fast. I ignored it and kept on going.

    Even more rapidly, a third sign appeared: Slow down. Danger ahead. This time I braked slightly. Almost instantly, Tom, Andy and Ali passed me. I sped up again, only to have another sign show up: Caution. Speed kills. I cooled it right then and there. Everyone else on the team passed me by. Except you. You pulled up alongside me and we drove side-by-side for the rest of the race. The strange thing is, we won.

    Danielle was smiling, Cool dream. Mine which happened six years ago was very different. You need to realize that youve been selected to learn the Lost Art of the Quick Start.

    Lost Art of the Quick Start

    What in the world are you talking about? asked Matt. "It sounds like punishment. Or something really remedial. Do people think I'm that much of a loser?"

    Not at all, said Danielle. Its really quite an honor. And, clearly Ive been selected to pass it on to you. The secrets Ill be sharing will give you a jumpstart on meeting your quota. And, theyll keep you at the top of the leader board for as long as you practice them."

  • 014 | www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz

    Lets start at the beginning. Youve already been exposed to

    LESSON #1: SLOW IS THE NEW FAST.

    Thats what those signs were about, Matt said excitedly. But

    whats wrong with getting out of the gate quickly?

    Tons of things, said Danielle. You call on the wrong companies

    and contact the wrong people. You say or write the wrong

    things in your messaging. You get deleted or brushed off almost

    immediately. Then you repeat the same cycle over and over again.

    Thats insanity. Youre wasting your own time. Youre wasting

    opportunities. And, youre damaging your credibility.

    Okay. Youve got my attention now. That sounds just like me, said

    Matt. But isnt that what sales is all about?

    Danielle answered, Thats what bad sales is all about. To get off to

    a quick start, you need focus. You need to analyse which companies

    are most likely to do business with you. You need to assess which

    trigger events speed up sales cycles. You need to review your

    current client base to determine other ways you can help them.

    You do all that? asked Matt.What do you think Im doing here

    this morning? she replied. Its how I start every year.

    Phew. Im all set to go pound the phones and youre here thinking,

    he said. Very interesting. What else do I need to learn?

    Thats what bad sales is

    all about. To get off

    to a quick start, you

    need focus. You need to

    analyse which companies are

    most likely to do business

    with you. You need to

    assess which trigger events

    speed up sales cycles. You

    need to review your current

    client base to determine

    other ways you can

    help them.

  • LESSON #2: STRIVE FOR MAXIMUM IMPACT. Make sure that every single interaction with your prospects and clients yields the best possible outcome, she answered.

    Thats exactly what Im hoping for all the time, said Matt. Hope is not enough. Its preparation that matters. The more you can do ahead of time, the faster your sales process goes. Let me tell you what I do before each meeting. I look people up on LinkedIn, Twitter and other industry groups. I find out what they say about themselves. I look for commonalities, starting points. I research their company (and sometimes their industry) to find out anything I can about their challenges, goals, issues, objectives and more, she said.

    You do all that? Every time? Matt asked in disbelief. Absolutely, she said. Then I take time to craft a custom message, think of relevant stories to share and write down questions to ask. Every time. I refuse to waste an opportunity. Thats what maximum impact is all about. And thats why I close deals faster too. Matt was getting excited. Although hed never done a lot of what she was describing, he knew we was capable of it. What else am I missing? he asked.

  • 016 | www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz

    Jill Konrath helps salespeople to speed up new customer acquisition and win bigger contracts.www.jillkonrath.com

    LESSON #3: DONT SELL. HELP, Danielle replied. Its actually my favourite. Ive discovered that if I focus on helping my prospects and clients achieve their objectives, everything else falls in place. I also help them put together a business case for change and guide them through the decision making process. In the end, we all win.

    But when do you sell? You know, give em your pitch.

    I dont, she answered. We just talk about things. Good relevant conversations about what matters to them. By doing that, I get their business. Its almost like magic.

    Seriously, Matt interrupted. By doing these things, you actually get off to a quick start? Its not what the boss is telling us!

    But its true, said Danielle. Too many people are focused on the wrong things. Activities. Pitches. Demos. Strutting their stuff. But I understand where youre coming from. I used to be just like you, a hard-charging salesperson, working my butt off to close deals. Then one day, I thought to myself, Theres got to be a better way. The next day, I had the dream. Its been six years now and I love my job more than ever. "

    Wow, said Matt. Whats been the hardest part?

    Unlearning the old ways, she answered. At first, it was really hard to do things differently. I kept going back to my comfort zone. But I forced myself to keep on going, experimenting with the new way. Finally, that became normal for me. And, Im always thinking about how I can get better.

    You sold me! Matt announced loudly. Im going to embrace The Lost Art of the Quick Start. I think Im going to like sales a whole lot more because of it.

    You will. And, youll be much more successful more quickly, said Danielle. Now, one more thing. See that table over there. Ive reserved it for you. Its time to start working on Lesson #1.

    But I need to get into the office, said Matt. The boss is expecting me.

    Dont worry, she answered. I told him we were working together this morning on getting you off to a fast start. Youve got another two hours before hes expecting you.

    Ive discovered that if I focus on helping my prospects and clients achieve their objectives, everything else falls in place.

  • www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz | 017

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  • 018 | www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz

    While researching my new book What? I discovered that when listening to others, we naturally assume we understand whats meant and dont question our assumption. Yet the filters our brain uses to hear what others mean

    Assumptions: Why Being Right is WrongWords by Sharon Drew Morgen

    1. We only retain words we hear for approximately three seconds.

    2. On direct listening, our brain automatically and haphazardly deletes portions of what is foreign to our typical thinking.

    3. Our brain then takes whats left over after the initial deletion and seeks an historic match (from a prior conversation our brain deems similar), and deletes whatever is divergent from that match.

    4. Our brain then takes the remainder from that deletion and filters it through our beliefs, values, filters, habits and memory.

    5. Whatever is left after deletions in steps 2, 3, 4 is what we adamantly assume we have heard. A simple example of this just happened today. I was introduced as Sharon Drew to a friends friend followed by this dialogue:

    V: Hi Sharon.

    SDM: Actually, my first name is Sharon Drew.

    V: Oh. I dont know anyone who calls themselves by their first name AND last name.

    SDM: Neither do I.

    V: But you just told me thats how you refer to yourself! Because a double first name was foreign to her, she put it in an accustomed category, deleting how she heard the introduction, and then wrongly assumed a typical a first name/last name configuration. She exacerbated the problem by then assuming she was right and I was wrong when I corrected her.

    to convey preclude accuracy, leading to faulty assumptions. Essentially, heres what happens that makes accuracy so difficult:

  • www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz | 019

    Assumptions cost us greatly, harming relationships, business success, and health:

    Sellers assume prospects are buyers when they hear a need that matches their solution and end up wasting a huge amount of time chasing prospects who will never buy.

    Consultants assume they know what a client needs from discussions with a few top decision makers while ignoring some of the important influencers, causing resistance to change.

    Decision scientists assume they gather accurate data from the people that hired them and discount important data held by employees lower down the management chain, inadvertently skewering the results and making implementation difficult.

    Doctors, lawyers and dentists assume foundational, standard certainties that may not be true in any unique patient/client situation and dont get to the real issues, potentially causing harm

    Coaches assume clients mean something they are not really saying or skewering the focus of the conversation, ending up biasing the outcome with inappropriate questions that lead the client away from the real issues that never get resolved. Using normal listening habits we cant avoid making assumptions. But we can supersede our brains by taking the Observer/Coach role and listening for the metamessages patterns, system, structure - of what is said rather than the story line or content (which is what our brains use to acquire the assumptions).

    ASSUMPTIONS RESTRICT AUTHENTIC COMMUNICATION We all do this. Using conventional listening practice, its pretty difficult to hear what is meant without making assumptions. As a result, we end up restricting, harming, or diminishing authentic communication, and proceed to self-righteously huff and puff about what we believe is right, potentially getting the context, the outcome, the description, or the communication, wrong.

    Or we assume the speaker meant something they didnt mean at all. In business it gets costly when we wrongly assume a task we were never asked to perform. I recently got a reproaching note from an annoyed colleague when, among several faulty assumptions he made that were far, far from my intent (and in one case making an assumption about my behaviour that in fact was a direct response to something he did!), I didnt behave according to his beliefs.

    I had asked if he wanted to preview my new book before it came out, and he felt my subsequent behaviours insufficient given my request that he review the book. When I pointed out his faulty assumption he got quite bumptious until I sent him back to the original email. It cost us both a possible business collaboration.

    haron Drew Morgen is the thought leader and originator of the Buying Facilitation. Download her new e-book for free at What? Did you really say what I think I heard?

    www.sharondrewmorgen.com

  • 020 | www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz

    Coaching is not a 'Tick-box' ExerciseWords by Derek Good

    TWOMINUTETOPUP

    Several people have said to me in the past, Well, we do coaching regularly but nothing changes. Most people see the need for coaching so they do it, but for a lot of people the coach isnt converted. The coach doesnt have buy-in and at best accepts that it needs to be done. The problem isn't with the coachee (the person being coached) its with the coach! These might be harsh words but they are often true. One of the big traps to fall into is to get into a routine of doing something because it should be done.

  • www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz | 021

    Derek Good is a seasoned speaker and facilitator and works with management teams and front line staff.www.rapidresults.co.nz

    In a lot of cases, it might as well never be done for all the benefit that comes from it. Coaching is not a register. Its not a checklist. It's not a lecture. If our approach is all about making sure we coach a certain number of times and cover off the minimum number of points, we may have done just that we might have achieved that goal (coaching each team member every two weeks say) but our objective to help people improve performance has been missed by a mile. So, when we do coach, we need to have a purpose. Ask yourself the question, What is it I really want to see as a result of this coaching session? or What will tell me this session has been worthwhile? or even What do I want to see next for this person?

    Have a Purpose Have a reason for the coaching session to go ahead. This might need some planning time. Be prepared. The coachee deserves a bit of preparation. Sure, they need to be engaged too but the onus is on you as the coach to run the session and direct the result. Look to make the change in the individual. Rather than closing the session wondering if anything will be different from then on have the goal that something will be different by the end of the session. Of course, this means you need to have some focus on what would be reasonable, what needs to change, how can you help the individual see the benefits of changing and how will you know that they are on board with it all. Well a lot of that will depend on your preparation or observation skills and on how you run the session.

    Change your thinking Think about the times you have had a change of mind or found something new and from then on run with it. What about a restaurant that you love or a meal thats become your favourite? Perhaps it is a new item of clothing, a movie, a book or a holiday destination. All of these things would once have been introduced to you at some point. Now before that time, something else was your favourite meal, your favourite movie etc. Now, however, its all different because you have changed you preference. You have had a new experience; youve seen something different in it that makes you prefer to do, say, eat or experience that over other options. Thats the sort of experience we should look to create with our coachees. Rather than just ticking boxes, work at having effective conversations. What will make a change in this individual? How can I get them to really think about consequences (good or bad) for doing something? What impact will their behaviour have on the customer, their job or their colleagues?

  • 022 | www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz022 | www.nzsalesmanager.co.nz

    QUICKFIX

    Your Personal Debrief

    The quality of your sales conversation will determine your success. Very often we miss opportunities because we fail to ask the next question to develop the conversation and dig a little deeper. After your sales call, take a few moments to do a personal debrief on the conversation.

    Do this before you make the next call, or when you get back to the car. Reflect on what went well, and what didnt go so well. What questions did you ask, and what answers did receive to your questions? Think through how you can improve the outcome and value of the conversation for both you and the customer by identifying the question that you didnt ask this time. This debrief will prepare you to ask the question next time.

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    Your Best Year Yet is the perfect guide to help you realise goals and overcome last year's limitations. The proven methods in the book will make this year into the most successful ever. Your Best Year Yet is the perfect handbook to help people realise their goals in 12 months. Jinny Ditzler has almost two decades of experience with the Best Year Yet programme. Her results are inspiring; in this clear-cut guide anyone can set aside three hours of their time and transform their life.

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