Take the Stress Out of Success with Organizational Skills

Take the Stress Out of Success with Organizational Skills

How can organizational skills help you be less stressed?

Many bright, young, high achieving men and women come to me with this problem – how to manage stress and anxiety. They all have too much to do and not enough time to do it, which breeds anxiety. This leads to burnout and often, to leaving a career you are passionate about. So – how do you take the stress out of success? Develop organizational skills.  

Still waters

As I was working my way up the career ladder, I attended organizational skill building seminars. One instructor’s exercise, called “Mind Like Water,” I found particularly helpful. He had us imagine waking up early on a camping trip and standing before a lake with water like glass. Then he had us return to the lake later in the afternoon and envision people swimming and boating. We now saw a body of water covered with choppy waves. He explained that our mind is like a lake — when empty of activity, it can be still and calm.

Tips and Organizational Skills

Here are a couple of common sense approaches to organizing on the job. These can help you still the waters on a busy day.

  • Use a pocket planner – When you are away from your office, record customer requests in a pocket planner.  Repeat the request to your client as you write it down. Use your planner to jot down any other thoughts or ideas that come to mind. Don’t take a smart phone into your customer’s or prospects. It’s mere presents creates an immediate subconscious distraction. These actions eliminate the stress of trying to remember requests and important business to-dos.
  • Keep a journal – Buy a journal. When you are back in your office, or in your car between calls, transfer your planner notes to your journal. This process allows you to “download” information and ideas in an orderly way. Organizing your agenda on paper eliminates confusion, which causes stress.

These basic organizational skills are mind-freeing. Practice them and enjoy the calm waters throughout your career.

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Grow Your Contact Base

Grow Your Contact Base

While the best networking result remains a referral from an existing client, the paths to that outcome have changed radically. To light up your contact base, you need to plug into new methods of soliciting business. The use of alternative wholesale channels, virtual selling, and digital marketing are just a few of the new ways of networking. These, combined with the pandemic limiting the all-important face-to-face connections, have left salespeople confused. How do you grow your contact base in today’s world?

Add Talent

To develop your business, consider adding channels and talents whose expertise can rapidly grow your contact base of customers.

  • Social media manager – As with any critical business function, hire someone with experience to manage your social media accounts. A social media manager can increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your domain, and cultivate leads.

Through various platforms, my social media manager initiates contact with specific high-potential market clients. From his work, I average 15 new subscribers to my blog readers list per week. The growth in my network through this form of connecting is phenomenal.

  • Marketing strategistA marketing strategist identifies new market opportunities and consumer preferences for your products or services. This is done by implementing the best automated marketing software for your business.

My marketing strategist sets up distribution and presentation software that connects to my customer database. From this he generates weekly emails and monthly sales tips. He now is in the process of implementing video streaming so clients can access my training programs online.

Harvest Connections to Build that Contact Base

There are large pools of both social media managers and marketing specialists available around the country. These experts typically work with a number of clients, so their fractional cost to you is reasonable. Marketing and social media are important to your future success so choose wisely (see gearing-up-to-hire). With these contracted associates you can harvest qualified connections that will lead to new relationships and the growth of your contact base.

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Best Pricing Strategies

Best Pricing Strategies

The pandemic has disrupted supply chains, resulting in shortages of goods and rapidly escalating material costs. Many suppliers have had to adjust their pricing policies. The owner of a successful distributorship recently sought my advice on how to deal with price fluctuations.  Some of his largest durable goods suppliers were adding surcharges to all future deliveries. Other suppliers were changing their pricing policy to “priced upon delivery.”  With no control over supplier cost policies, he wanted to know about the best pricing strategies for his business.

Pricing Strategies

While the pandemic is unique, I have witnessed similar periods of price instability in the past. My sales experience suggests you consider the following actions when dealing with price fluctuations in your markets.

  • Make price increases timely – The media brings the rising cost of goods to everyone’s attention as they occur. Added costs also show up early in the grocery aisle, so your customers will be well aware of price increases.  If your suppliers have initiated an increase, give your salespeople copies of suppliers’ letters to share with their customers. These will support your need to raise prices. Don’t get caught waiting.  Adjust your prices as early as possible.
  • Review contractsBe sure your contracts include an escalation clause. These allow you to make price increases due to unforeseen circumstances. Most clauses will require you to provide proof of need to raise price when a situation occurs.
  • Anticipate surcharges – Be aware that with rapid changes, most manufacturers will include a surcharge to recover their increased cost. This is especially true of products that are quoted with long manufacturing lead times.
  • Price at time of delivery – Give the customer your best estimate cost but reserve the right to change it. Make the final price conditional to the cost you incur from your supplier. To protect his margins, I know a contractor who is quoting his projects with a surcharge for final adjustment when they are completed. When costs are changing rapidly, it’s wise to quote the final price at time of delivery.

Be Proactive

The strategies listed above are important to consider in these uncertain times. When confronted with a period of price fluctuation, be proactive.

Get tips and tricks like the above in The Art of Sales books. Or subscribe to the FREE monthly articles here.

A Great Mentor

A Great Mentor

Ambitious people are always looking for someone who can make them even better. Behind many successful people in history is a great mentor, a trusted advisor who has helped them along the way. Jennifer Merrill’s book, “Top 25 Mentoring Relationships in History” provides lots of evidence of this. Here are a few examples of great mentoring relationships to encourage you.

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg – Steve Jobs often met with Zuckerberg to discuss the best business and management practices for Facebook. When Jobs passed away in 2011, Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page, “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.”
  • Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates – Gates first met American business magnate Warren Buffett at a dinner organized by Gates’ mother. There he began a discussion with Buffett about business and philanthropy that has lasted for years. Gates has said he has turned to Buffett for advice on various subjects and often refers to him as “one of a kind.”
  • Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi – “If I hadn’t had mentors, I wouldn’t be here today. I’m a product of great mentoring, great coaching… Coaches or mentors are very important.”
  • Actor and director Clint Eastwood – Now 90 and still directing, Eastwood was mentored by many including  his grandmother who encouraged the Dirty Harry star to always work hard and pursue his dreams. “I’ve had many mentors in my life… my grandmother was always encouraging. She always thought I was going to be something when nobody else, including myself, thought I was going to amount to anything.”

A great mentor is suited to your personality, respectful of others, and a recognized expert in their field. Find someone who can show you that what you build can change the world.

Get tips and tricks like the above in The Art of Sales books. Or subscribe to the FREE monthly articles here.

Guided by Success

Guided by Success

A mentor can be a valuable guide to a successful career. The relationship is a personal one. To be effective, you need to choose a mentor carefully. Here are the qualities I suggest you look for.  

Choose a Mentor

  • Chemistry – The first consideration when looking for a mentor is personality fit. Do you have shared interests with this person? Do you communicate easily?
  • Competency – Choose mentors that are the most qualified people you can find and invite them to pour their knowledge into you. Don’t worry about finding everything you need in one person. Currently, I have mentors for four areas of my life — professional, educational, spiritual, and physical.
  • Humility – Choose a coach who is humble and willing to share his/her failures. Vulnerabilities provide valuable lessons and illustrate how new paths can be forged. The right mentor will want you to learn from his/her failures.
  • Discernment – Look for specific characteristics when choosing a mentor. In Multipliers, Liz Wiseman offers this insight on discerning leaders: “The right counselor is considered to possess wisdom and be of good judgement; especially so with regard to subject matter often overlooked by others.”
  • Trust – People don’t share with someone they can’t trust. A good advisor understands that confidentiality is paramount in his role as a teacher and coach. Make sure this is clear.
  • Mutual benefit – Helping others in a mentor relationship brings unexpected mutual benefits like joy and motivation. The late Zig Ziglar said: “You can get anything out of life if you just help enough others get what they want out of life.”
  • Availability – Be flexible with your time. Work within your mentor’s schedule, not yours. Know the direction you hope to be taking, including your goals for the next twelve months. Have your questions ready.

The respected expert for you

The most successful people are always looking for someone who can make them even better. Choose a mentor who is enthusiastic, a good personalityfit, considerate of others, and a respected expert in their field.

Get tips and tricks like the above in The Art of Sales books. Or subscribe to the FREE monthly articles here.

Differentiate Yourself

Differentiate Yourself

The sales rep felt dejected. He had demonstrated to a client the cost savings offered by changing to a new process. When he followed up on his proposal, he was told that the order had been placed online due to better pricing. The rep had failed to differentiate his proposal from the online offering.

Create a partnership

What would have made a difference in the above scenario? Wise customers realize and appreciate the value of partnerships with their key suppliers. Sales disruptors like Amazon, Grainger, Fastenal, etc., or the possibility of manufacturers going to direct sales, exist. I believe that the industrial gas and welding customer is still looking for local, strategic distributor partnerships, however.  

Steps to take

Here are some steps you can take to create partnerships and differentiate yourself from the disrupters:

  1. Verify the decision-maker – Be sure you are dealing with the person who can approve the deal. Don’t make the assumption that your contact, no matter their influence on product or service selection, is the decision-maker. Spend time building relationships with the front office executive team.
  2. Ensure commitment – Before giving a solution to a problem or offering a cost savings idea, get a commitment to buy. Ask: “If I offer you a [specify the percentage] cost saving enhancement to your production line, can you guarantee I will get the order?” A written pre-commitment is best.
  3. Differentiate your services – Differentiate yourself from the online disruptor. Value-added services, like installation, engineering, and training, differentiate the distributor from the online seller or big box store. Separate the price of these added functions from the product or service you are selling. This prevents customers from buying online and expecting you to install or train them on the product.
  4. Offer other value added services – In addition to the above, consider offering these other value-added services: VMI (Vendor Managed Inventory), Kanban, consigned stocking, qualified service technicians, and product enhancements.
  5. Add fees – Value-added services add to your costs, but I find customers generally are willing to pay a premium for them. Some distributors have converted value-added services into revenue streams. Consider adding fees for services like transportation, acetylene cylinder inspection, cylinder maintenance, equipment installation, training, and engineering.

Make each sale count

Create partnerships and be sure your customer is aware of the added value associated with your products and services. Make each sale count by differentiating your proposition from that of the online or big box seller. 

Get tips and tricks like the above in The Art of Sales books. Or subscribe to the FREE monthly articles here.