Monday, November 29, 2010

2 Lessons from McDonald's

There are some great lessons to be learned from successful businesses all around us. One I saw early on in my business career was the importance of consistency. And there is probably no better model of consistency out there than McDonald’s.

I’ve eaten in McDonald’s restaurants in seven or eight countries around the world. Although there are some slight variations to meet local tastes, the consistency of the McDonald’s experience is clear. If our clients know what to expect in terms in product, price, availability, delivery, and so on, we’re on our way to creating a base of loyal followers.

Sometime after I learned this lesson of consistency, I learned another lesson that is, in large part, the story behind consistency. That lesson: the importance of systems. Systems allow us to turn initial success into ongoing success. Again, looking at McDonald’s as an example, we see systems at work from end to end of their operation. Everything is pre-determined, measured, planned, scheduled, and executed by the use of systems.

How many systems do we have in place constantly improving our marketing, sales efforts, production, and other areas of business that directly affect the prospect and client experience? Where do the mistakes happen that could be remedied with effective systems? How will wise investments of time and resources in developing and implementing systems pay off for each of our companies?

We’d love to hear about the systems in place in your business that help you succeed, or questions you may have about systems you should have in place. Join the conversation.

Here’s to your systematic success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Saturday, November 20, 2010

An Underused Ingredient for Success

When we talk about success, we quickly think of money, possessions, and power. We may picture our dream home, the vacation of a lifetime, or a particular lifestyle. Success is a personal thing. How we define it is ours to personally create and pursue. Regardless of one’s definition of success, however, there is one key ingredient that sometimes gets forgotten: Gratitude.

On this week of Thanksgiving, I wish to express my deep and sincere gratitude to my clients, advocates, mentors, friends, and family members without whom I would not be in business. You are the reason and, in many cases, the support structure that allows me to do what I do. Without each of you and the important roles you play, MSI would not be what it is. THANK YOU!

Enjoy this marvelous season of gratitude and reflection. Thank you for being who you are to me.

Here’s to you!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, November 15, 2010

Social Media: When Less is More

I am NOT a social media expert. But then again, who is?

One of the problems with the use of social media in marketing is the assumption by most ‘experts’ that they are their audience. If you want to build an Internet marketing company around social media, this may be true. But if you’re a business owner who wishes to use social media as part of your marketing initiative, you probably find the suggestions and requirements lined out by these experts to be overwhelming.

Recently, I heard someone speaking on social media who suggested that most business owners, after researching their options, decide on the ONE social media vehicle they are going to use and how they are going to use it. Then make it part of how they do business. If, after a few months, it makes sense to add another element, move forward and test it. I wish I could remember who said this so I could give him proper credit. It makes good sense for the vast majority of business owners who do not have the resources to mount a full-blown social media program.

Another way in which less may be more when it comes to social media is the number of contacts, friends, or fans we have. When speaking of social media and email lists, most people seem to contend that bigger is better. For some, this may be true. But, again, for the majority of business owners I’ll submit this isn’t necessarily the case.

The irony of social media is how un-social it is. Yes, lots of people see blips of what you’re up to. And, yes, you see lots of blips about others. But unless it is used to open one-on-one doors and nurture relationships, it’s largely useless.

Consider a strategy that gets you one-on-one with more of your audience members. Build relationships that matter to you and others. Focus on meeting others’ needs and providing value. That’s being social. That’s building community. And the reality of the matter is most of us can’t effectively manage more than a few hundred meaningful relationships anyway, much less thousands.

Start small. Be focused. Create high-touch scenarios with those to whom you are connected. If your following grows beyond those you can keep up with personally in that process, congratulations! This means you are providing value and have something significant to offer that others feel compelled to talk about and share.

If, on the other hand, you have thousands of ‘friends’ but aren’t adding value to their situations (and they aren’t adding value to yours), reconsider your reasons for engaging in social media. If it’s just to grow your list and make money, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree.

So who is a social media expert? I propose it is a mentor to whom you can look who has done what you want to do for the reasons you want to do it. Find that person or group. Follow them. Ignore the hype and stay your course. Be genuine. Make your approach to social media yours.

Here’s to your social media success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, November 8, 2010

21 Attributes of Extraordinarily Effective Salespeople (Attributes 15-21)

Here they are! The final seven of the 21 Attributes of Extraordinarily Effective Salespeople. I hope you’ve found the others helpful, and that you’ll see the value in developing these final seven attributes in yourself and your salespeople. Also, make sure to read the simple implementation suggestion I have at the end.

Attributes 15-21: Extraordinarily effective salespeople…

15. See opportunity, but aren’t opportunists
Extraordinarily effective salespeople have deep and broad vision. They don’t always color within the lines. They see opportunity, but never do they take advantage of another.

16. Are team players
As a salesperson, you’re on a sales team. You’re on your company’s team. And you’re on your clients’ teams. Play as a team player on all your teams and you’ll succeed.

17. Use slow times wisely
The typical salesperson kicks back when the prod of the boss or a client’s need isn’t sharply felt. Learn to use slow times wisely—whether that’s 5 minutes or 5 weeks—to be productively advancing your sales efforts and your clients’ needs.

18. Are goal-driven
External forces are a convenient excuse for poor performance. Driving to meet one’s goals in spite of hurdles and unforeseen obstacles is a hallmark of an effective salesperson. Set long-term goals, break them down into mid-term and short-term goals, then live by them.

19. Know their audiences in detail
Most salespeople offer what they have as-is to as large an audience as possible, hoping to hook a few prospects. Effective salespeople know who they are looking for, find them, then get to know them better to meet their most exacting needs.

20. Engage in ongoing training
The most successful salespeople are those who balance a get-to-it attitude with a lifetime student mentality. Always learning and never acting will take you nowhere. Acting without ongoing training will only take you so far. Do both and see yourself becoming the best salesperson you can possibly be over and over.

21. Finish
Finish reading this paragraph. Finish your follow-up calls for today. Finish those letters for this week’s direct mail campaign. Help your client finish his due diligence and decision-making process so he can finish his transaction with you this month. Extraordinarily effective salespeople are finishers. Execution, perseverance, and the ability to finish are all necessary to excel!

There they are, 21 attributes I’ve observed in successful salesperson after successful salesperson. To help you implement these and make them part of who you are and how you sell, follow this simple plan:

Write each of the 21 attributes on a small card—something that will fit in your shirt pocket. Each business day, put one of those cards in your pocket and make a point of pulling it out and looking at it a number of times during the day. Focus on developing that attribute that day. If you do this every business day, you’ll rotate through the cards once each month.

Some attributes will become second nature quickly. Others will take more time to develop. If you’re consistent with this approach, you’ll see improvement month after month.

Here’s to your extraordinary sales success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, November 1, 2010

21 Attributes of Extraordinarily Effective Salespeople (Attributes 8-14)

I hope you enjoyed the first seven of the 21 Attributes of Extraordinarily Effective Salespeople I shared last week. Here are the next seven. Next week I’ll share the final seven along with a simple way to make all 21 of these attributes a natural part of how you and your sales team consistently get the sales you pursue.

Attributes 8-14: Extraordinarily effective salespeople…

8. Talk about money with ease
If discussing the financial side of the deal makes you uneasy, it will make your prospect uneasy. Offer outstanding value. Always know you’re giving your prospect a superior deal.

9. Never have to “close” a sale
If getting the sale means putting your prospect through a pre-determined closing routine, do him and yourself a favor and find a different career. True salespeople naturally move to a mutually beneficial conclusion.

10. Use systems
If every prospecting campaign, every phone call, every meeting, and every contact record require that you pause to figure out what to do (or what to do next), you’ll never be everything you can be as a salesperson. Create and use systems to maximize your effectiveness.

11. Only work with decision-makers
You’ve either already learned this one, will learn it soon, or will change careers. Wasting your time with non-decision-makers becomes laborious and terribly distracting very quickly. Find out who has the authority to make a purchasing decision, then only work with that person.

12. See themselves as successful
To a large extent, other people see you the way you see yourself. If you look in the mirror and you see someone who can’t bring home the bacon, your prospects will see that same person. See it...believe it!

13. Are seen as experts, not salespeople
Everyone dislikes salespeople. That may come off strong, but it's true. At the same time, they love people who have solutions to their needs. Be seen as an expert and watch your sales soar.

14. Don’t let a client buy more or less than they need
A typical salesperson is happy to just make a sale, regardless of the fit for the client. An extraordinary salesperson won’t let his client go without anything he needs, and will never allow his client to overspend, even if he’s willing to.

Here’s to your extraordinary sales success!

Bryan Waldon Pope