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The content of this Blog is provided as a result of some good questions I was asked following a recent webinar on Selling Value and Differentiation.  First, let’s set the record straight- we are ALL in sales!  Everytime a person speaks he/she wants to be effective, credible, convincing, impacting, – the list goes on – if they want to secure their “Desired Productive Outcome”.

It behooves all of us to understand the skills of presenting our ideas to others, so here is an overview of takeaways for you…  First be certain you are talking to the person who can help you advance you cause;  Second, do all you can to understand them and their goals (“Seek first to understand, then you will be better understood”).  A needs-analysis or at least a cursory questioning process to understand their needs and wants, etc. will normally be of great help in advancing the relationship.  Thirdly, when you feel the timing is right present your ideas, solutions and desired outcomes.  If stet two and step three are out of order it will usually short-circuit the process.

So how do we stand out in this process?  In our U. S. Learning “Differentiation Model” we have seven types of differentiation.  Even if you are selling a commodity, you can still stand out with a solid differentiation strategy.  The seven types of differentiation are:  Product, Relationship, Process, Experiential, Technological, Marketing, and Price.

To put this in memorable form, here are my suggestions:

  1. Try to offer a product or service that is different from and better than your competition!
  2. People want to do business with those they know, like and trust, so make relationship building and communication a priority.
  3. Have a process of doing business that responds to the specific needs of each customer. It is worth the trouble – if you can make it easy and comfortable for them to buy from you, they will often stay with you!
  4. Experiential is all about your service model. Make it extraordinary and perform customer service miracles when you can.  You will be standing out if you can make them say WOW!
  5. Use technology to your advantage every way you can. You will appear more sophisticated than your competitors.
  6. If you can outsell your competition, all other categories can be the same!
  7. Succumb to price cutting only when it is a last resort, and if you go there, go reservedly. Preserving your company’s margin should be a key objective.

Good selling!

We don’t tend to think of listening as a Power Activity because in and of itself, it has historically been a reactionary behavior rather than a proactive one.  Now is the time to change that!  When you are conversing with a client, prospect, superior or even a family member, clarity of communication is very important.  Being a skilled listener is not only a respectful activity, it will improve your efficiency in dealing with others and help you build trust that is so important in key relationships.

Here are 6 tips to help you become a Power Listener:

  1. Vow to concentrate on what the other person is saying. Give them eye contact, take notes when appropriate, and remember that first and foremost that we listen for context and understanding.
  2. Seek clarity to assure that effective communications has taken place. To do this, at appropriate times ask concise questions to verify your understanding of their transmission.  Probe for detail when appropriate and you will gain enhanced understanding.
  3. Repeat key ideas as you seek their confirmation that clear communications has taken place. Restate some of their thoughts and conclusions so that you can take communications to the next level.  As you extrapolate their thoughts into advanced understanding they will be impressed with your skills and pleased with your action-oriented spirit.
  4. Confirm what you will do going forward in response to their ideas. They will respect your action-oriented approach to dealing with them.
  5. Perform the promised function or actions with timeliness and expertise and you will be in the minority of great communicators.
  6. Check back to confirm that your actions have been taken, the results so far, and their expectations going forward, and your next steps will be clear, and the person will respect your proactivity.

Remember that when we poorly communicate, communication doesn’t fully take place.  Be a Power Listener and miscommunications will not ever hamper your life again!

The debate continues.  Are strong leaders born or made?  My belief is, that while some of our talents are inherent, impressive leadership abilities are most often displayed by those who have learned  the skills needed to excel in that arena.  The skills are teachable and learnable, and the five attributes discussed below, I believe, are the result of learned and consciously adopted skills and values which are typically found in legendary leaders.

Vision –  When there is no vision, the people perish!  It is incumbent upon leaders to establish and advance a solid vision for the future and to make each team member feel a part of it.  Leaders are highly aware of the track records and capabilities of his/her team members and can, with reasonable predictability, project into the future the attainment required to make visions become reality.  Leaders are insightful in assessing the current realities of the organization, its market, and the current opportunities to be seized upon.

Credibility – High performers in the leadership arena know that what is right is more important than who is right.  They objectively require accountability throughout the organization.  They have a reputation for honesty with all parties and are known for dealing in truths.  These traits not only impress the followers, but make them eager to buy in to the leader’s vision and respond with inspired action.

Competence – Most leaders got the position they hold largely on displays of abilities that impressed upon others his/her likelihood of getting the job done.  They have a track record of achievement. Competence is possessing the skill and ability to achieve the goals and objectives set forth.  Competent leaders are eager learners themselves and require that their people be as well.  They not only encourage learning, they give their team members all they need to excel.

Trustworthiness –  We all know that we cannot demand that others trust us.  It must be earned, which can only be done with demonstrations of integrity, and genuine concerns for others.  Trustworthy leaders are known for keeping promises and following through with pledges and plans they have espoused.  We have all learned that people who display manipulation and conniving precepts are not to be trusted.  The antithesis is the leader who earns trust on a daily basis by walking their talk.

Humility –  Humble leaders reject egotism and display a focus on others rather than on themselves.  Great leaders give the credit to team members for significant achievements and take the blame for non-performance.  Humility trumps egomaniacal behavior every time.  Zig Ziglar used to say ”Egomania is a very strange disease – it makes everybody sick except the one who has got it!”  People of humility show a strong respect for others that is appreciated by all.

This combination of attributes in a leader make for a high probability of organizational success.  These high achieving leaders are always looking for better ways to get the job done.  They are fine-tuning and tweaking everything they can to reach goals more quickly, and grow their team members more proficiently.  As they improve processes and inspire their team, the inevitable result is embodied in multiple successful outcomes.  They are relentless about learning and  innovation as they progress into the unknown with sound strategies and a noble vision.  What a pleasure it is to be led by such a person!


 

Don Hutson is a NY Times/Wall Street Journal #1 Best-Selling Author and a Hall of Fame Speaker.  He resides in Memphis, TN where he is CEO of U. S. Learning.  Visit www.DonHutson.com, or email him at info@DonHutson.com

I was recently talking to a client about the desired outcomes he wanted from the program I was going to deliver to his sales team.  As we discussed potential sub-topics which I felt should be included in the content, he said “I don’t think we want to include that one – our people have heard that before”.   It was updated content that was, in my opinion, critical to his desired outcome.

So I asked him “They’ve heard it already.  OK.  Did they really learn it and are they using it in a manner that has positively impacted your bottom line?”

He said “As a matter of fact, NO they haven’t – Let’s put it in the program”, which we did, and they found that it took a new meaning that was valuable.

My friend, Jim Pancero, and I were recently talking, and he asserted “One of the biggest mistakes managers and executives make is assuming that someone who is highly experienced is trained!”  I smiled and said “Good point, Jim.  There are a lot of people with 25 years of experience who haven’t learned anything meaningful in years!”

Experience does NOT mean that someone is necessarily trained with all of the skill sets and best practices they need to succeed in today’s tough and competitive marketplace!  Until one is at the “Level Five Learning Level”, they really are not trained.

It is only through embracing change, and incorporating the newest best practices, that we truly learn and grow.  Constant research in the quest to improve our craft is the only avenue to exceptional performance.

Here’s my model for the five levels of learning…

  1. The Energized Beginner – The time at which people are most excited about learning is when they begin a new job or learn a new skill. Managers should nurture the eagerness they demonstrate and subject them to the content and learning process that will enable them to progress;
  2. The Reluctant Novice – This is the person who says “Wow this is more complex than I anticipated. I’ve got a lot to learn here!”  Keep them committed to the learning process so that they can make headway and start to make a difference;
  3. The Tentative Performer – This is the person who is experiencing progress and feels good about things that are working. Continued training, coaching and habit development are in order for more achievement.
  4. The Competent Producer – This is the person who has continued to apply herself and is experiencing gratifying results. These people are on the threshold of being where they need to be, but their potential is still beyond their current performance
  5. The Internalized Pro – This is the unconsciously competent person who feels great about the results he is getting and utilizes the most critical skills as a natural internalized habit. They get results in a timely manner and are generally categorized as your best producers.

When one learns the skill, knows why it works, and has become so comfortable with its use that it is reflexive, he is on the way to improved performance.

Good luck on growing your team and helping each person in your organization become a “success machine” as an internalized pro!


 

Don Hutson is CEO of U. S. Learning.  He has given over 5,000 speeches in 32 countries and is author or co-author of 14 books.  Go to:  www.donhutson.com or www.uslearningvt.com

Years ago Industrial Psychologist, Dr. Paul Green and I taught a two-day seminar entitled “The Interpersonal Effectiveness Seminar” based on the four behavioral styles and how to communicate successfully with people different from you.  Paul and I also learned from each other and from the attendees of this two-day experience.  A lot of people call psychologists “Shrinks”.  Paul said he was a “Stretch” since he wanted to get people to push themselves into previously undiscovered realms of success.  We are told that we had impacts on our clients that are still intact today, and we’re proud of that.

What does this have to do with our challenges of today?   A lot, since we are all still faced with periodic relationship stress and these skills, in their latest and best forms, work.  The skills to utilize today are more sophisticated and more sorely needed in light of enhanced interpersonal pressures in today’s marketplace.  I want to provide you with the latest and best ideas to use for results today.

One experience amused us when we had a fellow in our seminar who, when profiled, came back with a very low adaptability rating, and vigorously proclaimed, “I know I’m hard-headed, and I also know what I want!  I don’t have a need to change or learn any new skills.  I will continue to work hard and get it done!”

I asked him if he had ever heard about the guy who chopped wood all day with a dull axe and couldn’t understand why the other wood choppers cut more wood?  He gazed at me like an owl in a tree with no response.  It is only in learning and using the newest and latest skills that we progress, grow and enjoy new heights of achievement.  Whether you are in sales or leadership, better results are gained when we listen to and are adaptable with others.  We’ve got to keep the axe sharp!

The Adaptability Skill mentioned deals with our willingness to get out of our behavioral comfort zone and converse with another person as they wish to be conversed with.  The four-quadrant matrix we use is the Driver/Expressive/Amiable/Analytical model (check out the book SELLING WITH STYLE by Dr. Tony Alessandra and myself).  The idea that I would like to leave with you today is to adapt your message delivery (behavioral style) to others with the following tactics:  Be efficient and direct with Drivers; Be stimulating and enthusiastic with Expressives; Be pleasant and agreeable with Amiables; Be factual and accurate with Analyticals.  You will keep relationship stress to a minimum, understanding at a high level, and gain desired outcomes in less time.

I recommend you learn and practice these skills in a manner that enables you to make their use reflexive.  We haven’t truly learned a skill until we practice it sufficiently that it has become a habit.  That’s how the high performers make a difference!

So here are the takeaways for you:

  1. Listen to others for good understanding;
  2. Observe the behavior of others to ascertain what their behavioral style is;
  3. Adapt your communications style to be more consistent with theirs; (remember the chameleon?)
  4. Make 1-3 above habits;
  5. Enjoy getting desired outcomes faster and creating a more robust following!

 

Don Hutson is a NY Times #1 Best-Selling author, Hall of Fame speaker,

and CEO of U. S. Learning in Memphis, TN.  Contact him at 901-767-5700,

don@donhutson.com, or www.DonHutson.com

The debate continues.  Are strong leaders born or made?  My belief is, that while some of our talents are inherent, impressive leadership abilities are most often displayed by those who have learned  the skills needed to excel in that arena.  The skills are teachable and learnable, and the five attributes discussed below, I believe, are the result of learned and consciously adopted skills and values which are typically found in legendary leaders.

Vision –  When there is no vision, the people perish!  It is incumbent upon leaders to establish and advance a solid vision for the future and to make each team member feel a part of it.  Leaders are highly aware of the track records and capabilities of his/her team members and can, with reasonable predictability, project into the future the attainment required to make visions become reality.  Leaders are insightful in assessing the current realities of the organization, its market, and the current opportunities to be seized upon.

Credibility – High performers in the leadership arena know that what is right is more important than who is right.  They objectively require accountability throughout the organization.  They have a reputation for honesty with all parties and are known for dealing in truths.  These traits not only impress the followers, but make them eager to buy in to the leader’s vision and respond with inspired action.

Competence – Most leaders got the position they hold largely on displays of abilities that impressed upon others his/her likelihood of getting the job done.  They have a track record of achievement. Competence is possessing the skill and ability to achieve the goals and objectives set forth.  Competent leaders are eager learners themselves and require that their people be as well.  They not only encourage learning, they give their team members all they need to excel.

Trustworthiness –  We all know that we cannot demand that others trust us.  It must be earned, which can only be done with demonstrations of integrity, and genuine concerns for others.  Trustworthy leaders are known for keeping promises and following through with pledges and plans they have espoused.  We have all learned that people who display manipulation and conniving precepts are not to be trusted.  The antithesis is the leader who earns trust on a daily basis by walking their talk.

Humility –  Humble leaders reject egotism and display a focus on others rather than on themselves.  Great leaders give the credit to team members for significant achievements and take the blame for non-performance.  Humility trumps egomaniacal behavior every time.  Zig Ziglar used to say ”Egomania is a very strange disease – it makes everybody sick except the one who has got it!”  People of humility show a strong respect for others that is appreciated by all.

This combination of attributes in a leader make for a high probability of organizational success.  These high achieving leaders are always looking for better ways to get the job done.  They are fine-tuning and tweaking everything they can to reach goals more quickly, and grow their team members more proficiently.  As they improve processes and inspire their team, the inevitable result is embodied in multiple successful outcomes.  They are relentless about learning and  innovation as they progress into the unknown with sound strategies and a noble vision.  What a pleasure it is to be led by such a person!

 

  • Don Hutson is a NY Times/Wall Street Journal #1 Best-Selling Author and a Hall of Fame Speaker.  He resides in Memphis, TN where he is CEO of U. S. Learning.  Visit www.DonHutson.com, or email him at Don@DonHutson.com

I was recently talking to a client about the desired outcomes he wanted from the program I was going to deliver to his sales team.  As we discussed potential sub-topics which I felt should be included in the content, he said “I don’t think we want to include that one – our people have heard that before”.   It was updated content that was, in my opinion, critical to his desired outcome.

So I asked him “They’ve heard it already.  OK.  Did they really learn it and are they using it in a manner that has positively impacted your bottom line?”

He said “As a matter of fact, NO they haven’t – Let’s put it in the program”, which we did, and they found that it took a new meaning that was valuable.

My friend, Jim Pancero, and I were recently talking, and he asserted “One of the biggest mistakes managers and executives make is assuming that someone who is highly experienced is trained!”  I smiled and said “Good point, Jim.  There are a lot of people with 25 years of experience who haven’t learned anything meaningful in years!”

Experience does NOT mean that someone is necessarily trained with all of the skill sets they need to succeed in today’s tough and competitive marketplace!  Until one is at the “Level Five Learning Level”, they really are not trained.

Here’s my model for the five levels of learning…

  1. The Energized Beginner – The time at which people are most excited about learning is when they begin a new job. Managers should nurture the eagerness they demonstrate and subject them to the content and learning process that will enable them to progress;
  2. The Disillusioned Novice – This is the person who says “Wow this is more complex than I anticipated. I’ve got a lot to learn here!”  Keep them committed to the learning process so that they can make headway and start to make a difference;
  3. The Tentative Performer – This is the person who is experiencing progress and feels good about things that are working. Continued coaching and habit development are in order for more achievement.
  4. The Competent Producer – This is the person who has continued to apply herself and is experiencing gratifying results. They are on the threshold of being where they need to be.
  5. The Internalized Pro – This is the unconsciously competent person who feels great about the results he is getting and utilizes the most critical skills as a natural internalized habit. They get results in a timely manner and are generally categorized as your best producers.

Good luck on growing your team and helping each person in your organization become a “success machine”!

Don Hutson is CEO of U. S. Learning and can be reached at Don@donhutson.com or www.donhutson.com.