Monday, March 21, 2011

The Blame Game

Is your sales career fraught with assigning blame?  Do you try to figure out who was responsible for the challenges getting in the way of your success?  Does your manager focus on assigning blame rather than fixing the problem and aligning you for achievement?  Do you?

Here's the deal:  There's two ways to deal with a problem:  1)  Figure out the problem, learn from the mistake, move on;  2)  Dwell on the problem, keep digging the hole that you've found yourself in, assign blame.  Which will it be for you?  One leads to greatness, the other leads to failure.

Let's say you've identified a problem.  I don't care what the problem is, because it doesn't really matter (does it?).  There are some salespeople, managers, executives that want to dwell on the problem.  They want to examine the problem from a dozen angles.  They want to assign blame.  Maybe they're having a bad day (maybe it's you that's having the bad day).  Certainly, people want to learn from their mistakes, but there's a big difference between understanding and learning from a problem, and having that problem become a milestone in your life.  Here's the best way in dealing with any problem (work or personal):

  1. Discover the issue.  Examine the problem enough that you can define what happened, the people and process involved.  Ask the right questions, but realize that pouting or getting angry about an issue is an obstacle that is completely unnecessary.
  2. Figure out how to not be here again.  It's important that the "take-away" represents a way in which you can try to create a situation which encourages success.  Some problems are going to repeat themselves a couple of times for you to learn the lesson.  THAT'S OK.  When you've got the way to not make the same mistake again...move on.
  3. Put the processes and people in place to have a better situation happen for everyone.  Focus on the positive.  Applaud lessons learned.  
Today will be a better day than the rest.  Conflict resolution doesn't have to deal with blame, shooting arrows, or holding a grudge.  How about forgiveness, positivity and a great attitude.  You'll get through it, and so will your peers, bosses and family.

Take it easy....Life is too short (we only have about 600,000 hours to live).  Make the most.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

No. 1 Rule of Negotiation: Stop Suggesting.

Sometimes, there's a lot on the line.  Maybe it's a huge commission check.  Maybe it's recognition and achievement.  Maybe it's keeping your job, your house, your livelihood.  Sometimes, we try so hard to manage a situation that we forget the most important law of negotiating a tough situation:  Let the other person talk first!

Professional negotiators, arbitrators and attorneys are trained in this all-important lesson.  Regardless of what you really want, always stop and ask the other party what they think and what they're willing to suggest FIRST.  This does two important things:

  1. Sometimes, you'll get even more than you want.  Remember that the other party in any negotiation has their own agenda and objectives.  Many times, you won't know what these really are.  Sometimes, you simply cannot assume that you know how they'll respond to a particular situation.  This is extremely hard for salespeople to do, because we believe that we know how things will go down.  Trust me, you don't.  Experience shows that in any negotiation, parties are jockeying for position with separate agendas.  If you simply ask them what they want (or what it will take to settle the issue), you may get a response that is more favorable than you expected.
  2. Even if the other party's response isn't what you want, at least now you know what they expect.  It's a bit like poker.  If you force a first response, you learn important information.  Like cards, people show "tells" which, if you observe carefully enough, will help you to better position your cause or situation.  Stop suggesting.  Stop telling.  Just ask and listen.  You'll learn critical information that can only be beneficial to you in the end.
Negotiating is just like any other situation in which you must compromise something.  Compromise is what selling is really about:  The buyer compromises by paying a fee for your product/services.  The seller compromises in that there will reach a point where buyers won't pay any more than they think something is worth.  Find out what that value is by careful observation and soliciting other people's opinion.

The best negotiators are those individuals who get what they need by knowing what the other party really wants.

Life'll Kill You - And Then You'll Be Dead

The late, great, singer-songwriter Warren Zevon sang a lot of about death during his amazing 25+ year career.  Ironically enough, he died in 2003 from a rare form of lung cancer that coal miners get (even though he never worked a day in a coal mine).  In one of his famous tunes, he sang, "Life'll Kill You...And Then You'll Be Dead..."

Zevon sang about the fact that we're here and we've got about 650 hours of life in our entire life-span.  Use it wisely.  He also said, "Enjoy Every Sandwich."  I think what Mr. Zevon wanted us to know is that we must seize every moment and nobody escapes the inevitable.  "Some get to die in their sleep, some get the knife, some get the gun..."

In our sales life as salespeople, we must seize every moment and live our professional life to the fullest.  We must make every sales moment count and we must enjoy every moment.  Don't squander the important life moments.  During the hustle-bustle of blocking and tackling sales situation, just remember that, sooner or later, we'll all face a time when we're not here anymore.  Enjoy Every Sandwich.  Have fun.

Enjoy your life.  Live it to the fullest.  Life is a mysterious, exciting time and 650 hours goes by in a blink-of-an-eye.