Friday, May 29, 2015

Pick Me! P-L-E-A-S-E Pick Me!

    There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to making connections. If you have a business, you know how important it is to connect with people. If you don’t connect, your business will suffer. The good news is that your competition is in the same boat. The bad news is that you all want the same thing—to connect and build a relationship with the person who has the power to pick you over your competition. If you want to improve the odds of making connections and building relationships with potential clients and customers, consider these two fundamental ideas when you’re creating content. 
Establish a common groundAll relationships—both professional and personal—are built on this foundation. If you can’t identify something you have in common with the person you’re trying to establish a relationship with, it’s just not going to happen. You absolutely need at least one thing in common to get anything going.

     Connecting with people via your content starts with thinking about the common ground you share with your potential clients. If you’re a solopreneur, your common ground might simply be that you’ve learned through your own experience how to solve problems your potential clients are experiencing right now. The result is content that’s more likely to resonate with potential clients and get them thinking about you as someone they might be interested in working with.   

Provide Evidence to Your Audience that You Care:  Have you ever met someone who spent 90% of your first conversation with them talking about how great they are—without even asking you one question about yourself? When that happens, how likely are you to invest your time and energy into waiting for your chance to speak?   

     Now, think about the content you’ve been sharing on your website, in newsletters, on Facebook, in blog posts, etc. Is your content evidence that you’ve been listening to your potential customer’s problems and concerns? Or does it come from the perspective of a person who believes they have all the answers doing all the talking? Even if you have every solution your potential client could possibly desire, they aren’t likely to invest their time and energy into what you have to offer unless they trust and believe that you’ve invested your time and energy into understanding their world - from their perspective - first.

     It’s easier to achieve a balance with these two fundamentals than you might think, and I’d be happy to help you figure out how balanced your content is. One painfully quick and revealing test you can do right now is to look for the word “I” in your content and communications. If it’s there, perhaps we should have a conversation.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Protecting Your Sales Assets

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I always get a kick out of companies who hire sales people with “experience", hand them a product book with pricing, and tell them to go out and secure new business. Sure, they save money on product and sales training in the short run, but they might lose potentially great salespeople too. As a salesperson, you can hope your sales manager knows what they're doing, or you can take matters into your own hands by building and protecting your own sales assets.
Protect Your First Impression by Knowing Everything about Your Product: When you stand in front of a prospect or customer and they know more about your business than you do, it’s time to go home. Whether it’s insurance, gasoline, machines or anything else, make sure you know what you're selling and that you're able to explain it simply and concisely. If you can't, your dog will happier to see you than the prospect or customer you're about to impress with how much you don’t know.
Very few business owners make their purchases based on an “I have to have it no matter what it costs” attitude. If they did, sales would be a simple game of who gets to the decision maker first. That’s not the case. Businesses flourish as the result of good fiscal management. If you want to flourish, you need to have a good explanation as to why someone should spend their money with you.
Protect Your Sales Pitch with Solid Economic Justifications: When it comes to a serious purchase where good value and a workable price are important, the very best tool a salesperson can use is the economic justification summary. Presented correctly and professionally, it will secure the order more often than not. It’s also an excellent tool to use to determine where to spend your time. Do your research so you'll know if your product or service makes economic sense for a potential client. If it doesn't, don't waste their time, or yours.  
I've seen many salespeople fail simply because they didn't plan their days, weeks, and years. In sales, if you're not producing the revenue expected of you, you're likely to become an expense your company decides they can't afford. It’s true you won't always have control over getting someone to sign on the dotted line, but you have absolute control over increasing your odds of making it happen simply by preparing yourself for success.
Protect Your Career with a Plan: It’s simple and straight forward: Plan—follow up, then plan—follow up, etc. If you do this, then you have a very good idea of where your money is coming from. Do you know which accounts are a definite? Do you know which prospects are ready to do business with you? Do you regularly review where you are and what you have to do to correct any potential shortfall? Are you concentrating on revenue? Or are you wasting your energy on activities that have nothing to do with increased revenue?
When you take the time to regularly review your sales assets, you are protecting them by making sure they are all in tip-top shape. It’s a solid investment towards your continued success.

Alan Luoma is a Sales Coach and Speaker with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, and sales and product training. He holds key accounts with a national sustainable packaging company, is a motivational speaker, and provides sales training to individuals and groups. He is a member of the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network. You can view his profile on LinkedIn, or contact him at Luoma@snet.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Your Key to Maintaining Balance between Life and Business

One key to maintaining balance can be determined by how you manage and schedule your time.  Having a “model week” can be extremely helpful in assuring you allocate the right amount of attention to each area.  Consider breaking your week down into three types of days: days to focus, buffer days and personal days.   Each type of day should be made up of about 80% of
your time.

For example:

  •         A day to focus means that you spend about 80% of your time doing only those tasks that actually bring income into the business. 
  •         A buffer day means you spend about 80% of your day managing the office, working with staff, doing prep work and any other work that is needed to enable you to be efficient on your focus and personal days.
  •        Personal days mean that at least 80% of your day is spent focused completely on your family, your own personal needs and your friends.  You do not take business calls, read a business publication, check e-mails or anything else to do with your work.  You are 100% present for your family, for yourself and for your friends. 

When you first set up this system you may need more buffer days until you become more efficient.  You should work toward mostly focus and personal days and a lot fewer buffer days.  This can happen when you are truly “present” for each type of day, you have less interruptions and become better at delegating. If you are not good at sticking to your model week, assign a staff person or request a family member or someone else to hold you accountable.

About Nancy D. Butler
Nancy, a national motivational speaker, business coach and award-winning author, has been quoted in many local and national publications including USA Today, Money Magazine, Playboy magazine, The Chicago Tribune, AARP and The Day and has been a speaker for major corporations such as Pfizer, General Dynamics and Dow Chemical. Nancy has also been a guest on several television and radio shows.

Contact Nancy for a free consultation at 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Thank You Hiatus, I Didn’t Realize How Much You Cared.

This past week I finally did it. I started exercising again after a long hiatus. My self-talk was relentless about how many aspects of my life had gone from amazing to blah; and how I wanted get back on track. “I really would like to exercise and eat healthy again. I feel horrible. I feel jiggly. I feel tired and lazy. I cannot think straight. I feel defeated.” I questioned myself as to why it took this long for me to get moving again.

The easy answer is “I don’t know.”

The excuse answer is “I don’t have the time – so many other things happening!”

The truth answer is “I don’t trust myself to stick with it and finally make it part of my lifestyle; so why bother starting? I’m enjoying being lazy and eating anything I want.”

I have had successful hiatus-rebounds in the past; but I was not up for repeating the feel-amazing / feel-blah cycle yet again. I simply would like to feel amazing all the time!

Therefore, I looked deeper into my hiatus pattern and discovered the culprit – my self-saboteur. She would sit hidden, until the tiniest opportune moment and pounce; like a hungry bird on a worm - making sure, I stay small (and safe) in life.

You see, when I exercise and feel physically and mentally amazing. I have no fear. I take on challenges I never dreamt of; and wildly succeed. I beam enthusiasm for life and positivity and giving - and people around me feel it and respond. I simply love life and am grateful for every moment. I say “YES!” more because my mind and body are strong and I know it – the confidence is cloud high. I start becoming a completely new person; a take action, never give up, get out there and kick-butt kind of person. My “self” starts to panic “Who is this (confident) person? We have never been here before. We have never done this before. This is scary; retreat, retreat!”

And Bam! Back in the safety of my comfort zone I go. I am safe, but sad.

I took a Guy Finley approach (from his book The Essential Laws of Fearless Living) and looked at this hiatus from a different altitude. In doing so, I realized that a hiatus could often be positive, supportive, and necessary in a journey. It allows time for reflection and lessons. A hiatus gives time for ah-ha moments and personal growth to percolate so when you dive back in again you bring a different self; and thus have a different outcome.

This time I understand my self-saboteur and the self-defeating signs to look for. I refuse to become the worm again! Cloud-high confidence; here I come.

The above scenario can overlay on any aspect of ones life or business that has an up-down repeat cycle. Here's a few points to recap.
  1. Remember a hiatus is perfectly okay, and often a gift.
  2. During a hiatus, ask yourself “What’s the pattern that brings me back here?”
  3. Once you have acknowledged the pattern, give yourself some kudos – what awesome self-awareness! Woot!
  4. With your new powerful mental-shift, focus on your restart – bringing in accountability partner(s), make public announcements or use a “success jar” – whatever you need to do to get you back on track and to keep you there.
  5. If in the (far) future, you find yourself in another hiatus; it is okay. You are at a new and higher level than you were before. Simply repeat from point # 1 above.
If you find yourself in a marketing hiatus and are ready to get back on track, I am a phone call 860-379-2794 or an email away!  

Until next time, happy marketing!

Chana Monahan
Greenhouse Graphics, llc. Where Ideas Grow


Monday, May 25, 2015

Finding Strawberries

Hello Speakers, Business Owners, Future Entrepreneurs and Americans,

Happy Memorial Day!

Today we pay tribute to those men and women who served in the Armed Forces protecting our nation especially those who paid the ultimate price that guaranteed our freedom. When I look at the flag of the United States I have so much pride to know there was so much sacrifice involved and continued sacrifice keep that flag-waving. We will always honor you and remember you.

This month’s topic is a true story and it started about five years ago. Let me give you some background about myself so that you can understand what my true purpose is in my current profession. In the early 1980's I started my career as a financial planner for a well-known Life Insurance Company. After a while, I developed my own style of recommendations and presentations based on what I saw in the late 80's. Many of the families were not able to achieve the goals they had set for themselves because of excess debt. I once knew a very loving couple that ended in divorce because of fighting over money and expenses, and in some cases, if divorce did not occur life in the house was so miserable they probably should have divorced. These are common occurrences. Over time I developed the philosophy to not sell, but to get to know people at a friendship level and discover what their issues were with money, debt and income. The true problem is most individuals or couples never put the brakes on for spending. Many do not ask for help because of shame. To this day, I still go out and meet couples and sit down and do what I call a life planning review. The problem still exists because few want to ask for help.
This story takes us back five years. I was called out to an appointment by a middle-aged couple who wanted to buy $150,000 of term life insurance on each of them. When I pulled in to the driveway I noticed two newer vehicles, the house was above average, yard was well maintained, backyard well-maintained with a nice swimming pool and I thought to myself, they have done well.
When I met with them I could tell by the look in their eyes something was wrong. I let them know that I am in the business of helping people not just to sell life insurance policies. I always do and income to debt ratio with families because it is the starting point and it summarizes all the income brought into the house and sets it against all the debt that sits in the house. After three hours, of listing every credit card they were close to $100,000 in revolving debt. I estimated they were paying these credit card companies almost $30,000 a year in interest. They were living a sick existence. Basically they were looking for  Life Insurance just to pay off their debt at the time of death.

 I closed up the briefcase and told them to put on a pot of coffee. I took out a lot of blank papers and started to lay out a plan for them. I am not a credit counselor, a credit psychologist or credit adviser. I help people out through common sense advice that always seems to have worked for me over 30 years. This case however, I had to refer to professionals. It was a worst-case scenario. The plan we laid out back in 2009 was a plan of 5 to 7 years that involved sacrifice, discipline, and diminished spending to reconstruct their lives financially so that they could start living normal. The last thing I told them is you must put a Strawberry on your refrigerator.  ”Finding the Strawberryis just a metaphor that means to do something fun! For example: once a month, have date night together, pretend you're young adults again and you only have $15 to spend somewhere and make the best of it and have fun while you’re doing it. I explained to them that they needed to keep that Strawberry in front of them all the time, especially in the hard times when things aren’t always going so well. As time starts moving along you will need to start thinking bigger about what you’re going to do with all the money you’re freeing up in the future and you need to start planning for that now. 

 I told them you have to have look forward to things along the way as you continue on your course of achievement, reward yourself in small ways.
They wrote out their game plan and they turned in the direction of the professionals for help. I stayed in touch with them for the first year to make sure they were staying on track. On or about 2010 I lost my connection with them.

Present day.
A few weeks ago I received a call from one of the spouses I had worked with back in 2009. She said: “Hi John, how are you?”. I told her I was doing great and asked her how she was doing and she described to me that she received the certificate. I said to her: “What certificate?”. She said the certificate congratulating us on being totally debt free. She told me next month we don’t have to make any more payments. The money that we were once paying out every month is all ours from this point on. She said we always kept to the original plan you laid out for us and we made sure we kept finding our Strawberries along the way. Even though we didn’t spend a lot of money through the last five years my husband and I always made sure to have great times together because it was our goal as a couple to get out of this mess. She told me that the real big Strawberry that they planned together was a 10 day Caribbean Cruise. I told her that  they deserved every bit of it. I told her understand how successful that she and her husband were to have achieved their goal, because the statistics for success in long term debt reduction are minimal. She told me that they knew it was going to be a very tough road, but they also knew they could not live with the alternative. I suggested that we talk in the coming months about securing their retirement and redirecting this money so they can continue to find the Strawberries when they stop working. For now, go out and enjoy that Big Strawberry (The 10 Caribbean Cruise).  

  “The Insurance Coach”

      John P. Slosek, Jr 
   "The Insurance Coach ™"
Insurance Coach Radio Show

Airs Every Saturday Morning 8am

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Move your Game to the Next Level

 Many of us graduate from college or graduate school and believe that our education is over. However, this is really the time when your education is just beginning. Regardless of your profession or occupation there is always so much more that you can learn especially from experts in your field or occupation. There are many opportunities to learn more about your trade or profession.  As a personal injury lawyer I am constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of services that I provide to my clients and I have found a way to do this on a very consistent basis. In fact, the knowledge, information and training that I receive from this particular method is nothing short of extraordinary.

I recently returned from the Harvard Law School where I attended a symposium on teaching negotiation. This daylong seminar featured some of the greatest negotiators on the planet and I attended a lecture given by a social scientist who teaches at the Harvard Business School who currently has the second most viewed Ted Talk. I shall return to this subject in a moment. This is the third time that I have been to the Harvard Law School and attended classes there where I have been taught by some of the greatest experts in the field of negotiation, mediation and alternative dispute resolution.

I feel that I have an obligation to my clients to constantly look at ways to better my craft so I can provide them with better services. In addition to seminars at the Harvard Law School, I have attended other classes throughout the country and even the world. What could you learn from the experts in your field that would benefit the way that you could provide products or services to your customers or clients? What workshops, seminars or conferences are being held that you could attend to gain an advantage over your competitors? These are things that you should think long and hard about and research because you will learn so much from experts in your industry.
In addition to a lot of great information that I learned in my past symposium, one of the greatest takeaways was listening to Amy Cuddy. One of Dr. Cuddy's areas of specialization and expertise is body language. During her hour-long presentation she gave specific examples about how your physical body can change your chemistry in such a way that you will reduce the amount of anxiety that you experience and increase the amount of confidence that you will exude. The techniques that she taught were nothing short of astonishing. The subconscious effect that these teachings can have upon others might provide you with an advantage that few people will know about or understand.

I would strongly suggest that you take the time to watch her Ted Talk which can be found at . More than 26 million people have viewed this video so I would suggest that she might be onto something.  I believe we all have an obligation to constantly expand our horizons and to grow as individuals. There are few better ways than by attending educational workshops and seminars that teach specialized information about your particular occupation. Please consider how you can take advantage of the many opportunities that there are out there where you can learn and grow and become better at what you do.

Remember that the end of your formal education really starts the beginning of your ongoing life's education. Take advantage of every opportunity so you can grow and become a better practitioner for your clients and customers. You can also feature these learning experiences as press releases and blog posts to let the consuming public know about your ongoing education, training and experience which differentiates you from your competitors.  You will also have the opportunity to meet some very remarkable people who you can keep in contact with and learn from. It is truly a win-win situation.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Four Elements of an Engaging & Impactful Story

Storytelling is a necessary ingredient in a speaker’s recipe for success. Stories work because they are able to connect a speaker’s unique experience to an audience’s universal truth. What starts as a personal recollection transforms itself on the way to the audience and is received as a shared perspective. This creates empathy for the speaker and gives validity to his/her concepts.

When developing a story, keep in mind the 4 features that combine to  create interesting and relate-able anecdotes:

The Set Up: Who is the main character and what is the situation they are in?

The Challenge: What is the problem/conflict the main character in finds him/herself in?

The Resolution: How does the story turn out? How is the problem solved?

The Relevance: How do you answer the audience’s main question, which is “So What?”?

Let me illustrate with a story….
              A few years ago I was on a small plane that was bouncing along through extreme turbulence like it was a rock skipping over a pond. I was so frightened that every time the plane hit a bump, I’d grip the sides of my seat and scream, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.” And when the plane smoothed out, I’d exhale and relax.

          Sitting across the aisle from me was a boy who could not have been more than 6 years old. And EVERY time the plane hit a bump and I shrieked, “Ahhhhhhhh”, the kid would lift his arms in the air and yell, “Wheeeeee”, just like he was on a roller coaster.

        I was both humbled and enlightened as I realized that life had just slapped me in the face and said, “Pay attention.” I understood that the boy and myself were both being given exactly the same information. The data we used to judge our situation was exactly the same, yet our responses were completely different from each other. How could that be? Because our beliefs about the situation were different! And it is our beliefs about a situation, as expressed by our self-talk, that drive our behavior, not the nature of the situation itself.

               My lasting takeaway? If I am going to change the way I act in a situation, I have to change my self-talk rather than try and change the external situation.

Here is how I used the four ingredients to create my story:
  • .            The Set Up: Who is the main character and what is the situation? (I was on a turbulent plane ride)
  •           The Challenge: What is the problem/conflict the character finds him/herself in? (How come the boy is having fun and I’m so afraid?)
  •          The Resolution: How does the story turn out? How is the problem solved? (I understand about self-talk)
  •        So What?: (I now have a way to manage stress and deal with fear; I learned something about myself)

Now that you have the ingredients, go cook up your own great stories! 

Izzy Gesell (Izzy's website) is an organizational alchemist who helps individuals and organizations transform their thinking from commonplace to extraordinary. Through his keynotes, trainings, coaching and facilitated sessions, Izzy offers imaginative, intuitive and immediately useful insights and programs. He is skilled at delivering meaningful material in a way that makes participants enjoy their time with him.

Izzy was one of the first to use Improv Theater concepts as tools for personal and organizational learning. He is the author of Playing Along: Group Learning Activities Borrowed From Improvisation Theater, a co-author of Cancer & the Healing Power of Play, a co-author of Humor Me: America’s Funniest Humorists on the Power of Laughter, and a contributor of a chapter on Improvisation as a facilitation tool in the IAF Group Facilitators Handbook. His video course for was their first  course shot before a live audience. A second course, "Humor in the Workplace" was just released.