Conversation Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Are You Hearing What Isn’t Being Said?

Peter Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”  This is so true and extremely important because the quality of our relationships depends on the quality of our communications; and when it comes to sales for your business and growing your business through referral marketing, this concept is a cornerstone for success.

Photo Courtesy of Ohmega1982 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Courtesy of Ohmega1982 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Of course, not all sales transactions require incredible relationships or communication (e.g., online shopping), yet even big box stores like Wal-Mart–not known for warm customer relations–illustrate the value they place on communication and relationships by employing a visitor host to greet customers at the entrance of their stores.

Sara Minnis, a friend of mine, has often dealt with a phobia many sales people face within the sales process by coaching salespeople who are afraid of being rejected by a prospect or customer.  She says, “Sales ‘phobics’ might have an unrealistic fear of being rejected during cold calling, during the closing phase, or on a phone conversation.”  This, she suggests, is because the phobic salesperson tends to focus their communication on the emotional fit between themselves and the customer.  She explains, “The real business of selling can’t begin until the sales phobic feels that the prospect likes him or her.”  To avoid this, she says, “The professional seller directs her communication toward finding a fit between her product and the buyer’s need.  Focusing on being liked only enhances fears of personal rejection, while attending to the customer’s needs drives the transaction toward a closed deal.”

Sellers in strong relationships with their clients have a competitive advantage because the client feels connected or bonded to the seller.  The single most important tool sellers use to establish a connecting bond with another person is communication.  In fact, building a bonded relationship is completely dependent on having quality communications with another individual.

The art and science of communication is more than talking and hearing words.  There are many strategies and techniques aimed at earning the right to have your message heard.  If you can communicate at a level that matches the customer’s style rather than your own, you will be well on your way to masterful sales conversations.

Masters of sales today assume more of a consultative perspective to their selling work.  In fact, many box retail stores use the term “sales consultant” to describe the store clerk of yesterday.  Master sales consultants know that their ability to communicate is critical to selling client solutions, because rapport and trust, the cornerstones of selling, are built or lost based on communication.

So what can you do this week to improve your communication skills in order to speak to be heard and hear to know how to speak (e.g., joining a Toastmasters club, reading books like Dr. Mark Goulston’s Just Listen, etc.)?  I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment forum below.

A Little Good Advice Can Go a Long Way

AdviceHorn

Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s no secret that we all want to do business with people whom we know and trust.  So, how do you build rapport and create trust with new contacts at networking events?  By offering value-added advice–solid, helpful information provided out of a genuine concern for another person.

Let’s say you’re a real estate agent talking with someone at a networking event who, although not ready to buy a home today, is heading in that direction.  You could say something like this:

Well, I know you’re not interested in buying a home right now.  But, when you’re ready to start looking, I highly recommend checking out the north part of town.  A lot of my clients are seeing their homes appreciate in the 10 to 20 percent range, and from what I understand, the city is thinking about building another middle school in that area.

See how it’s possible to offer some value-added advice without being too salesy?  A statement like this acknowledges that your prospect is not currently in the market (first sentence) but still demonstrates your expertise, so he will remember you when he’s ready to move.

This model works for consultants, CPAs, accountants, financial planners, coaches–just about anyone in a service-based industry in which knowledge is the main product. If you’re concerned about giving away your intellectual capital for free, look at it this way: few people are going to sign up to do business with you if they’re not sure you can do the job.  In the absence of a tangible product, you have nothing but your technical expertise to demonstrate that you have the goods.  And when you think about it, that makes sense.  Whenever you’re ready to buy an automobile, it doesn’t matter how much research you’ve done on a particular model, you’re probably not going to write your check until you’ve taken the car for a test drive.

The same is true for your prospects.  Give them a little test drive to show how it would feel to do business with you. If you’re a marketing consultant, give them a couple of ideas on how they can increase the exposure of their business.  Don’t go overboard; maybe offer a technique you read in a magazine or tried with one of your clients.  Just give them something they can try on to see if it works.

Not only will this open up a good conversation with new contacts while you’re out networking, if you play your cards right, whom do you think they’ll go to when they’re in need of your kind of service?  When it comes to building rapport and creating trust, nothing does it better than offering value-added advice.

I Don’t Need Your Card

Imagine handing your card to someone at a networking event and having it handed back to you with “I don’t need it.”  Well, that’s exactly what happened to Juan Vides recently.  Juan found this pretty insulting, and he wrote to me to ask how I thought someone should respond in this situation.

Business Card

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

First, let me talk about giving and getting business cards.

  • A business card is a tacit invitation to make a future connection.  How you handle that connection afterward will determine how responsive your new contact will be.  So be respectful with what you do after someone gives you their card.
  • You should always have plenty of business cards with you.  It still amazes me that people go to networking events and knowingly don’t bring cards with them.  I recently read a blog where many people said they didn’t bring cards so that they wouldn’t get spammed by people they meet.  Really?  Have they never heard of a spam filter?  I use it regularly with unwanted spam.  Besides, that argument is like saying I don’t want to advertise because someone might read the ad and cold call me?  What kind of logic is that?  Buck-up, dandelion, bring cards.  It is a “networking” event!
  • The ideal scenario is to have a meaningful (even if brief) conversation with someone where they ask for your business card (how to do that is an entirely different blog).  However, that doesn’t always happen.  When it doesn’t, it is still ok to offer your business card to someone.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Refusing to take someone’s offered card is just plain bad form and it’s probably too late to send them back to Mom for retraining on how to play with the other kids in the sandbox. 

So what do you do if this happens to you?  Pick the correct choice below:

  1. Squash a cupcake on their nose and say “take that, you dandelion.”
  2. Say “Really, you [bad word, bad word] dirty [bad word], I hope I never see you again at one of these events.
  3. Let’s go outside and finish this (like someone I actually know did at a networking event!)? or
  4. Realize that some people just have little or no people skills and move on to someone who does.

The correct answer is number four however, for the record, I kind of like number one a lot. 

Sales: The Buyer’s Perspective

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in an airport waiting for my plane to arrive and I struck up a conversation with the young man sitting next to me.  He was wearing a nice suit, carrying a laptop, and appeared to be traveling on business so I asked him if he happened to be traveling to the same business event that I was.  It turned out he wasn’t headed to the same place but we ended up having a very interesting conversation about sales.

He explained that he’s somewhat new to the sales industry and that he has found it a bit difficult to achieve the level of success he had envisioned when he entered the field.  I offered him some advice about what I believe is one of the most important keys to selling and I’d like to share it with you here as well . . . it’s understanding the buyer’s perspective.

The way I see it, selling has everything to do with finding out what the customer wants, is able to pay for, and then making the deal (assuming you can provide the product/service).  If it were really that simple, however, there wouldn’t be a demand for salespeople; buyers could get all they need from a machine.  But, in fact, many buyers head off to go shopping for a product or service with only a vague sense of what might satisfy their needs.  Turning a buyers vagueness into clear solutions is the job of the salesperson.  Always remember that the buyer is looking for the best solution, delivered in an effective and pleasurable manner.

Buyers are multifaceted, and when they shop, they weigh the many pros and cons of a potential purchase.  Some of these they will share with the seller, while many other thoughts they will keep to themselves.  Learning and adapting to the issues and whims of the buyer while moving the sale forward to a conclusion is a complex and intricate task . . . and it’s the responsibility of the sales professional to ensure it happens.

Brian Roach, a friend of mine who sells computer technology told me about a great concept he calls the sales clock.  He describes it this way:

It’s a great day.  You answered a call from a new prospect, met with their team to discuss your product, and . . . they asked you for a proposal.  Soon after delivering your proposal you started your wait for their decision.  The sales clock ticks as you wait on the fate of your proposal.  It may tick a long time before hearing back from the customer, and as the seller, you don’t know if you are being ‘stiffed’ or if the customer is swamped with other pressing priorities.  Whatever the reason, waiting out the sales clock can be stressful.  The last thing you want is for your own stress to create a negative impact on your prospect.

Brian reminds us that ‘it’s all about the customer,’ in the sense that the customer is the ultimate buyer, but the seller also has to earn a commission, meet monthly targets, and ensure proper work scheduling.  Brian’s sales clock reminds us to always look at both the customer’s perspective as well as the seller’s demands with each sales scenario.

I have some tactics for helping you, the seller, determine if the buyer is putting you off or merely attending to pressing internal demands and also some techniques for effective communication which will help you tap into the customer’s perspective and I’ll be sharing them with you next Monday so be sure to come back then and check them out. 

In the meantime, I’d love to get your take on some other ideas that you believe are important keys to selling so please share your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

 

Speak to Be Heard and Hear to Know How to Speak

Peter Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”  This is so true and extremely important because the quality of our relationships depends on the quality of our communications; and when it comes to sales for your business and growing your business through referral marketing, this concept is a cornerstone for success.

Of course, not all sales transactions require incredible relationships or communication (e.g., online shopping), yet even big box stores like Wal-Mart–not known for warm customer relations–illustrate the value they place on communication and relationships by employing a visitor host to greet customers at the entrance of their stores.

Sara Minnis, a friend of mine, has often dealt with a phobia many sales people face within the sales process by coaching salespeople who are afraid of being rejected by a prospect or customer.  She says, “Sales ‘phobics’ might have an unrealistic fear of being rejected during cold calling, during the closing phase, or on a phone conversation.”  This, she suggests, is because the phobic salesperson tends to focus their communication on the emotional fit between themselves and the customer.  She explains, “The real business of selling can’t begin until the sales phobic feels that the prospect likes him or her.”  To avoid this, she says, “The professional seller directs her communication toward finding a fit between her product and the buyer’s need.  Focusing on being liked only enhances fears of personal rejection, while attending to the customer’s needs drives the transaction toward a closed deal.”

Sellers in strong relationships with their clients have a competitive advantage because the client feels connected or bonded to the seller.  The single most important tool sellers use to establish a connecting bond with another person is communication.  In fact, building a bonded relationship is completely dependent on having quality communications with another individual.

The art and science of communication is more than talking and hearing words.  There are many strategies and techniques aimed at earning the right to have your message heard.  If you can communicate at a level that matches the customer’s style rather than your own, you will be well on your way to masterful sales conversations.

Masters of sales today assume more of a consultative perspective to their selling work.  In fact, many box retail stores use the term “sales consultant” to describe the store clerk of yesterday.  Master sales consultants know that their ability to communicate is critical to selling client solutions, because rapport and trust, the cornerstones of selling, are built or lost based on communication.

So what can you do this week to improve your communication skills in order to speak to be heard and hear to know how to speak (e.g., joining a Toastmasters club, reading books like Dr. Mark Goulston’s Just Listen, etc.)?  I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment forum below

The Fine Line Between Comedy and Competency

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Nine months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 9 of the series.  Enjoy.

THE FINE LINE BETWEEN COMEDY AND COMPETENCY

(Part 9 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4, and Part 5 of this series, we introduced and re-introduced the concept and steps of The VCP Process® to Networking for our readers through brief anecdotes, relevant comparisons, and sometimes even humorous situations.  For Parts 6 and 7 we even shared with you video trainings from the both of us.

Last month in Part 8, we suggested some behaviors that you can use on a weekly basis to increase the number of referrals you receive.  And, as a result, we got a couple phone calls complimenting us about how last month’s blog post clearly outlined what type of behaviors a successful networker should be practicing on a weekly and monthly basis – and we were asked to provide more.

Exactly three weeks ago, I posted in this very blog about The Ten Commandments of Networking a Mixer.  I’ve been talking about these specific 10 guidelines for years that I recommend people follow when attending Chamber functions, Association meetings, and various business mixers.  I’ve been interviewed on radio and television before and many times I bring up these same 10 guidelines.  And I’m so committed that they should be a part of a successful networker’s toolbox that these same 10 guidelines are taught in-depth in Referral Institute regions all across the globe.

After reading my recent blog post about the Ten Commandments of Networking a Mixer, TR came to me with a smirk on his face and began some mischievous questioning.  He started by mentioning Harvey Mackay’s “take” on the same exact topic.  Now, Harvey is a friend of mine and I’ve even invited him to speak to my networking organization before (of course the audience absolutely loved him).  So, I proceeded to ask TR where he was going with his questioning.

TR replied, “In Chapter 71 [Yes, Harvey’s books have that many chapters] of “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty”, Harvey writes about The Ten Commandments of Networking as wellAnd, according to him, Commandment #2 is:

~I will NOT confuse visibility with credibility – mine or anyone else’s~

Ivan, I believe that’s a pretty powerful guideline that successful networkers should follow.  Why is this Commandment not included in YOUR list?

After a very long pause, I proceeded to explain that it’s okay for different people to have different viewpoints.  And this led into a very productive conversation about how one person’s viewpoint isn’t correct, and one person’s viewpoint isn’t incorrect – they are just different.  And, this leads us to the relevance of the above story into today’s blog post in which we fulfill our blog readers’ request to provide MORE DETAILS on exactly what type of behaviors a successful networker should be practicing on a monthly basis.

In an effort to move their network (or audience) through the VCP Process to Networking®, many business professionals who are members of Strong Contact Networks like BNI meet on a weekly basis.  And, each week they are given an opportunity to say something about themselves or their business – usually about 1 to 2 minutes.  Every week, these professionals each make a choice on which topic, messaging, and subsequent behavior to display or exhibit while they are addressing the entire group or meeting.

Today, we’d like to bring attention to 2 options one could choose from:

  1. Displaying behaviors to be perceived as LIKEABLE
  2. Displaying behaviors to be perceived as COMPETENT

Which is right?  Which is wrong?  Which is right for you?  Which is wrong for you?

These are all good questions to ask and this leads us back to what my response to TR was earlier which is:  One person’s viewpoint isn’t correct, and one person’s viewpoint isn’t incorrect – they are just different.  And, let me add – choose wisely.

Therefore, someone who week in and week out chooses to use their 1 to 2 minutes to display behaviors to encourage people to like them is most certainly entitled to do so.  Some examples of these types of behaviors are:

  • Delivering jokes
  • Performing attention-getting skits
  • Rhyming
  • Reciting a poem

However, if you choose these behaviors we kindly ask that you not lose sight of the goal which is to move your network through the VCP Process® from Visibility to Credibility all the way to Profitability.  And, if people only know you for your jokes, they may surely like you and remember you (i.e. Visibility) but you may risk not ever providing them with enough information that proves you are good at what you do – which ultimately increases your chance of getting referrals from them (i.e. Credibility).

On the other hand, someone who chooses to use their 1 to 2 minutes to display behaviors to impress people and prove they are good at what they do is certainly entitled to do so.  Some examples of these types of behaviors are:

  • Sharing client testimonials
  • Announcing achievements
  • Explaining why they are “better” than their competition

However, if your network only hears sound bites of your successes and don’t ever really get the chance to truly know you as a person (i.e. the likability factor), you may risk alienating yourself as someone only focused on work.  Or worse yet, they may consider you boring.

Therein explains the fine line between comedy and competency that today’s business networkers face.  And, some may even consider it a challenge.   When moving your network through the VCP Process®, it’s recommended that you first get someone to LIKE you through various Visibility behaviors.  But, it cannot stop there.  It’s encouraged that you then commit to displaying various Credibility-building behaviors so that they believe you have the COMPETENCY in your profession to handle their referrals.  Then, you will you increase your chances of consistently pulling your network all the way to Profitability and receiving a steady stream of referrals.

In closing, today’s focus has been simply to expand your thought process on exactly what options you have available to you when it comes to which behaviors you can choose to display to your network on a weekly or monthly basis.  Displaying behaviors that allow you to be perceived as both LIKEABLE and COMPETENT is our recommended solution.  Combine them together and interchange them back and forth when relevant to make sure your network truly likes you and also believes you will take great care of their referrals.  One without the other or used too infrequently may not deliver you the results you expect from your networking efforts.

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 10 called “Authenticity is the ‘New’ Audacity.”

I’m “a Communist” . . . Really?

I wrote an article on Entrepreneur.com last week entitled “Why Everyone Should talk About Politics While Networking” and in my opening line I state, “Yes, I believe everyone should talk about politics (and religion) while networking . . . if they’d like their network to go up in flames, that is!”

Though I may have been very active in politics over the years and I do, indeed, have a definite religious/spiritual leaning, I have found that it is undoubtedly best not to mix my views/beliefs in these areas with my business networking activities because these topics can be VERY divisive.  Opening up a dialogue of a political or spiritual/religious nature with those in your network tends to be something that will more than likely invoke passionate, heated arguments which is NOT a good thing for a networking environment (take a look at the full article for my complete commentary and explanation). 

Soon after the Entrepreneur.com article came out, someone left a comment in the comment forum beneath the article that I found quite surprising.  The comment they posted says:

“This guy Ivan Misner sure sounds like a Communist to me.  If it walks like a duck . . .”

Really?  I’m “a Communist” because I said that people who want to be successful at networking should not talk about politics and religion in a business networking environment?  Okay, well, I guess I should really thank the person who posted the comment because they’re ultimately helping to make my point.  Discussions about politics and religion can make people say some crazy things.

By the way, here’s how I responded to the comment:

“Too funny.  You clearly don’t know me. Besides, a true Marxist-Leninist would be out leading the proletariat revolution of the capitalists and I’m too busy being a capitalist.”

Hey, I always had a hunch my Political Science degree would come in handy someday yet I never would’ve imagined it would be through someone calling me “a Communist,” that’s for sure. 😉

What’s your feeling on the appropriateness of discussing politics and/or religion in a business networking environment?  Have you tried it yourself, or maybe networked with someone who makes a habit of bringing up these subjects when you’re conversing while networking?  What has your experience been? . . . I highly encourage you to leave a comment; I’m very interested in hearing some different perspectives on this. Thanks!

Getting a ‘Real World’ Education in Networking–What Does the Future Hold?

In this short video, presented by Applied Transformation, Inc., I talk with Roger Green about what it takes to get a real world education in networking now and what it may take in the future.

I talk a bit about the stance colleges and universities have historically taken on networking education and how that may impact the way people get educated about networking in the future.

I would really like to get a conversation going in the comments section about this to hear other people’s perspectives on this and, in particular, I would like to find out how you have gained the majority of your networking education up to this point.  Please don’t be shy–let’s get the comments rolling in!

Dumbest Online Comments

I recently read an article in FORTUNE magazine entitled “OMG!!! The End of Online Stupidity?”

The article was written a few years ago but it stated that “internet veterans have long complained about the steady erosion of civility — and worse, intelligence — in online discourse.”  I couldn’t help but think that things haven’t gotten much better in the last few years.

It never ceases to amaze me how some people behave online (especially if it is anonymous)!  For example, as I was reviewing survey responses to an online survey at BNIBusinessIndex.com, I read two comments that were almost hysterical in their stupidity.

The first response was in relation to the question “Where Do You Reside?”–a question which was accompanied by a list of answer options (including all the populated continents) from which the respondent was asked to select the continent they live in.  In an optional “additional comments” section attached to this question, one respondent felt the need to empatically state, “I’m located in AMERICA not North America!!!”  OK genius.  For the record, America is in North America!

My other . . . ahem . . . “favorite” response was from a person who went on a passionate rant about how “the survey is clearly just a form of ‘pull marketing.'”  He proceeded to ‘scream’ these instructions in all capital letters: “DO NOT USE MY E-MAIL FOR MARKETING PURPOSES!” 

Fair enough, that’s a reasonable ‘request’ . . . the only thing that puts a hitch in the logic of including these instructions is this: not once in any area of the survey are respondents asked to include their e-mail address (the survey is completely anonymous unless a respondent voluntarily offers their name or other info in one of the optional “additional comments” sections).  This respondent’s e-mail address was never once requested, nor was it recorded!  How exactly could we, the survey sponsors, possibly spam people effectively without ever actually trying to collect an e-mail addresses from anyone???

Suffice it to say that people are funny (euphemism for something else I’m thinking . . . I’ll leave it up to your imagination what that may be). 😉

I know I’m not the only one who has seen some whoppers as far as senseless online comments go and I’d love to add some more examples to my list (What?–They make GREAT stories! ) . . . what are some of the dumbest online comments you’ve seen on the internet lately?  Keep it clean though, please–my Mom reads my blog too and, trust me, according to her I’ll never be too old to get in trouble. 😉

 

 

 

Perception is Everything

I saw a presentation at a BNI Conference a couple years ago by Chick Gallagher, my Executive Director in Delaware and part of Pennsylvania.

In his presentation he talked about “perception” being relative and how small things can substantially alter one’s perception.  On one of his Power Point slides he had the words:

A woman without her man is nothing.

As you might suspect, it got loud boos from the audience.  Then, he added two commas to the wording.  It still fell in disfavor with the audience (especially the women):

A woman, without her man, is nothing.

Finally, without changing any words he simply changed the first comma to a colon and moved the second comma to a different place in order to make this sentence:

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

As you might suspect – this sentence got loud applause from the audience (especially the women).  His point was that small changes in communication can completely alter the meaning of what is being communicated.

Punctuation is like people’s perception. A minor change can make a big difference in how the message is received and understood.

Have you run into this during your lifetime?  If so, share it here. 

ps. Before I posted this blog, I showed it to my wife.  She told me about a FaceBook page called: Let’s Eat Grandma OR Let’s Eat, Grandma.  The site says – see, punctuation saves lives!

 

Winning or Losing, Trying or Quitting

I met with my good friend Dr. Mark Goulston for dinner recently.  Casually, over our meal he said something that made me reach into my pocket and scribble it down on the back of one of my business cards.  He said:

We have much less control over winning or losing at something than we do over trying or quitting at something.

If you always try, you can eventually win.  If you always quit, you can never win.

I loved this statement and it completely resonated with me and what I’ve seen in relation to people being successful at networking or at anything for that matter.

When people give up (even in their thoughts), it’s ‘game-over.’  I’ve always thought that I may not be the most successful man in the room or the smartest man in the room, but I’m pretty confident that I’m the most persistent man in the room.  That commitment to “trying” has helped me succeed.  I think it is the one thing that consistently helps anyone have long term success.

The whole process must begin with the old axiom – if you think you can or you think you can’t… you’ll be right.

When have you seen this in your life or someone close to you?

Great Opening Question

A good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately. When you meet someone in a networking environment you should ‘listen’ more than you ‘talk’ (especially if it is the first time you’ve met). Consequently, in books like The 29% Solution and Networking Like a Pro, I’ve written a lot about the kinds of questions you should ask when you meet someone for the first time.

Recently, I was at a networking event and, at the end of the conversation, someone asked me a question that no one has ever asked me before at a networking meeting. She asked, “What is the most amazing thing that has happened to you today?”

I love that question because it is so positive and unique.  It made me stop focusing on anything other than the question at hand and required me to be completely present in the moment because I truly had to think about what the greatest thing was that had happened in my day so far.  At the time, I shared what came to mind with the woman who asked me the question.  However, it’s interesting to note that today, many months later, what I remember most is that question . . . not whatever “amazing” thing happened to me that day.

If you have a great opening question, I’d love to hear it. In the comments section, share a stand-out question that you, or someone you’ve met, has asked at a networking event.

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