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2 Sales KnowHow
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Q1-2010 In Every Issue
Publisher’s Letter With the right information on your side, you gain the power to succeed.
Events Calendar An easy to read overview of important dates regarding upcoming product releases, shows and events.
Pushy sales people have no business at a trade show – Barry Siskind Your personal approach at a trade show can dramatically influence your success. Learn how to be a better "host". Create a lasting memory for your customers – Barry Siskind The little things can make a big difference in how you and your corporate message are remembered.
The real deal – Bill Sayers
“254” – Tibor Shanto
What is Marketing? – Eric Gilboord
Resolve to stop the meeting madness! – Laura Stack
A key element in your sales success - "be yourself".
Learn why this number is significant to your sales in 2010.
10 Habits to becoming a Successful Marketer
Learn how to free up valuable time this year with practical advice from a recognized productivity expert.
4 Sales KnowHow
Reader Survey We encourage you to participate in this month’s survey and give yourself a chance to win a $100 gas card.
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Hello Everyone and Happy New Year! L
et’s kick off the new decade by elevating your sales results in 2010 to a “perfect 10” in every way possible. Whenever I have the pleasure of meeting with clients (for example, at the various industry events or trade shows we attend each year), I often receive a ringing endorsement for Scott’s Directories from those who have effectively put our information to work by making it part of their team – they’ve chosen Scott’s as an essential part of their sales and marketing process - and therein achieve tangible, bankable results on a consistent basis. We can logically predict the long road to recovery will be much faster for some than for others - and companies that proceed to grow in the coming years will undoubtedly rely on a healthy combination of new technologies and new approaches mixed with old school wisdom and best practices to get the job done. Within the confines of your sales process that is especially true. By partnering with a reliable information source, you too can find your best prospects, reach your target audience, and close more sales this year. You can make educated decisions and have greater control over your results. With the right information on your side, you literally gain the power to succeed. With a new decade of opportunity ahead of us – and a lot of business experience behind us – we’re here to help you reach your goals by delivering you more than we ever have before. Scott’s is pleased to welcome two new contributors to our Sales KnowHow lineup with great advice that we’re sure you’ll be able to profit from: Bill Sayers has run his own sales performance consulting practice for the past many years and has recently released the second edition of his new book – “Funnels and Forecasts – The Great Game of Sales”. Eric Gilboord is a popular speaker, coach, columnist and author of many articles and books on moving a business up to the next level. His common sense approach helps demystify marketing.
• more verified profiles across important industry sectors • more contact information including over 1.4 Million personalized emails • more online functionality including Geocode mapping and expanded user-added notes • more services including e-blasts, SEO, editorial verification and custom publishing • more partnerships with exciting events like When Sales Met Marketing and the Art of Marketing If you’re not fully utilizing Scott’s Directories for our quality information, professional marketing services like personalized e-blasts, and the sage advice packed into each issue of Sales KnowHow, then make 2010 the year to embark on leveraging all we can do for you today. I invite you to contact us if you have any questions about Scott’s Directories products and services and how we can help you on the road to recovery in 2010 and beyond. Paul Stuckey, Group Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org For More Articles by Paul Stuckey Click Here
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Exhibiting By Barry Siskind
Pushy sales people have no business at a trade show
ne of the things that drive trade show visitors crazy is pushy sales people. When visiting a show, the last thing visitors want to encounter are sales people who do not take the time to learn about their visitor’s unique situation before embarking on an over whelming spiel that includes information that has very little to do with their needs. It’s called the pitch. Think back to a time when you were a customer. You could have been shopping for anything: a new car, a winter jacket or something for dinner. Now pretend that you asked whoever was serving you for some information and that person took your question as a signal that you wanted to hear everything. What would your reaction have been? My guess is that while you may have tolerated the pitch, you were probably thinking about ways to end the conversation. Am I right? Visitors to a trade show feel exactly the same. Their defense against pushy sales people is to avoid eye contact. Studies have shown that as many as ninety five percent of visitors walking a show avoid eye contact. Can you blame them? The solution then is an attitude adjustment. When you are preparing your staff for a show or an event, you want to help them change their approach from one
of a sales person to one of a host. A host is a friendlier role to play and takes the emphasis away from pure selling. The role of host is usually played out in social settings. Here is an example. Let’s suppose for a moment that you and your family have moved to a new home. The moving trucks have long gone, your boxes have been unpacked and everything has been placed where it belongs. It has been an exhausting experience. Now you and your partner are sitting on a couch realizing that while your new home looks great you are strangers in the neighborhood. To rectify the problem you decide to have an open house for the neighbors. You set the time for next Sunday between two and four P.M. You develop an invitation and walk it up and down your street stuffing it into mail boxes. Now it’s two o’clock on Sunday and your home looks perfect. Your front door is open and your first neighbor approaches. What do you do? You have choices: • Sit in the den and watch television • Sit on your couch and read the newspaper • Approach them by telling them all about yourself Or • Approach them and get them talking about the neighborhood. The last suggestion is the one that fits the role of host well. It’s the same role that should be played in a booth. Your exhibition booth is your place of business for a few days. Instead of trying to sell products and services to visitors who happen by, simply welcome them and try to find out what their needs are. The right approach will make the difference between success and failure of your exhibit plan.
Barry Siskind is author of Powerful Exhibit marketing. He is also President of International Training and Management Company who offers a number of services to exhibitors including the creation and implementation of a mystery-shopping program. Contact Barry at email@example.com for more information. For More Articles by Barry Siskind Click Here
6 Sales KnowHow
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8 Sales KnowHow
By Barry Siskind
Create a lasting memory for your customers
ne of my favorite places to buy books is Amazon.com. If you are one of millions of book buyers like me, you are familiar wi th the typical Amazon.com listing. Their history is noteworthy. Amazon started selling books on the internet in 1995. Over the past decade they have grown to the point that they sell more books, DVD’s, CD’s M3P’s software, videogames, electronics, apparel, furniture and toys on-line than anyone – anywhere in the world. Why? Because they have a formula that works. Picture an Amazon.com listing and think of it as above and below the line. Above the line you find the title, price, shipping dates, inventory levels, number of pages, publisher, language, ISBN number, and the details about what’s inside the book. There’s no fault here. Everything you need to know is clearly spelled out. But that’s not why people buy books particularly if it is an author they hadn’t heard about before. They need more than details which bring the discussion to those things that are below the line. These include information about the author, citations, customer rated reviews and a section called, “What do customers ultimately buy after viewing this page?” Above the line points the purchaser to the details and below the line reveals the experience. Which do you think is more important? This same analogy applies to an exhibit program. What do your signs and graphics say? Are they filled with information about products and services? What about your literature? Is it teeming with enough information to sink a supertanker? And what about your booth staff? Do they fill hours at the show telling people all about the features and benefits of your products and services? If you answered yes to any of these then it’s time to stand back and re-think your approach. It all comes down to understanding the difference between remembering and knowing. Remembering, which is prone to error, requires a deep mental level of processing information that is often referred to as the “episodic memory.” Knowing on the other hand triggers a familiarity which interestingly enough
is often without the details of a specific product or service. This is referred to as the “semantic memory.” The lesson to learn is that knowing lasts longer and has a more powerful impact on decision making than remembering. When I decide what to buy on Amazon.com, I often refer to the items below the line. This is because to have an experience online, the best I can do is find out what other people feel. But in a show environment we have the advantage of faceto-face contact. Our customers have an opportunity to touch, hold, smell, taste and hear our products and services through one or more of their senses. It’s when we harness the power of presenting below the line that we create a lasting impact. Here are few quick pointers; • Your front line booth staff should be passionate about the product and services they represent. • They should leave the customer with a positive feeling about doing business with your company. • Signs and graphics should focus on experience rather than details. • Literature should utilize lifestyle photos. • It’s little stuff that makes the greatest impact. This last point focuses attention on an important quirk of human nature. People who expect a certain level of service become very critical when it slips even one iota. When dealing with the public you and your staff should constantly try to provide extras that go above the standard. It’s these little things that often solidify the knowing part of memory. Whether you are in your showroom or at a trade show, leave your customers with a positive experience and you will remain top of mind when it comes time to place an order.
Barry Siskind is author of Powerful Exhibit marketing. He is also President of International Training and Management Company who offers a number of services to exhibitors including the creation and implementation of a mystery-shopping program. Contact Barry at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. For More Articles by Barry Siskind Click Here
How often do you get into a sales situation and find yourself uncomfortable with the sales person you are dealing with. You don’t trust them, you don’t like them – there is something about them that just isn’t right. They have
By Bill Sayers
just finished the corporate sales training and are using all the latest techniques. They are too “polished” in their approach. More often than not it is because they are not being themselves. They are not being their “real” self.
10 Sales KnowHow
Be Yourself We all have different personalities, backgrounds and ways in which we behave. The more you are comfortable with this and use to your advantage – the more real you become. How often do you meet someone and before they speak or you meet them, you judge them by how they look, their race, their gender or their clothes. Yet once you begin speaking with them you are immediately at ease and enjoy your conversation. The reason is that they are comfortable with who they are. There is a Buddhist question: What happens to a fully enlightened man who wanders into a “Black Tie Only” event, in jeans and a tee shirt? The answer: He doesn’t notice. If you are always trying to be like someone else then how can you be real? I think you can take traits of someone you admire or who is a mentor and make that trait a part of who you are. I believe that to be a wonderful way to help you grow and improve yourself. I always say that I want to be “Jack Gear” like or “Bill Davis” like in parts of my behaviour. I admire both men for the influence they have had on my life, yet I don’t want to be them. Being real means thinking for yourself, acting upon the things that are important to you, taking a stand on issues that are most important to you and asking for what “You” want. I believe, based on my experience and from observing sales people for years, that you can’t be anything else but yourself to be successful. The University of Toronto did a study years ago. They placed a large group of 3 – 6 month old children in a room for an afternoon. They all wore diapers and the only thing that identified each child was a number on their diaper. The medical team observed the children and made notes of their observations. Eighteen years later they brought the now 18 year olds into a room for an afternoon. (They wore clothes this time)
By simply observing the behaviour of the teens and the notes from 18 years earlier, the team of doctors was able to identify 96% of the teens based on their behaviour from 18 years earlier. We are who we are. Get Real The Oxford dictionary defines real as: actually existing as thing or occurring in fact, genuine, rightly so called, not artificial. Actually existing and genuine – that is what you want to be. If you are having an off day, in a professional and friendly way, let your customers and prospects know that. They will appreciate your honesty and “genuine” behaviour. Observe how top sales people behave. They are relaxed, they know what they need to accomplish and they are real and genuine. People like to be around them. They are true to their internal values and they are true to their company values. As I say to sales people, your goal is to be honest, tell the truth and ask for what you want. You can only do that by being yourself. You may be able to ask for what you want – you certainly can’t be honest and tell the truth when you are not being yourself. How do I do this? It means taking responsibility for what is happening in your world and taking a “realistic” approach to how you are going to deal with the issues at hand. It means that you control and create your own “reality”. Watch how customers are reacting to your presentations and conversations. Are they involved and participating or are you having to draw out information and get them to participate. If your work is all one way, it may be that you are not being real and honest with yourself and your customer. Ask your top customers for a reality check. Get them to provide feedback on how they view your work and interaction with
them. Ask them to give you honest feedback. You may want to integrate this into your customer reviews. One easy way to get a sense without ever asking anyone is to look at your results. If they are not very good – you are not being real. Paying attention to your results is another way for you to be honest with yourself. It allows you to make the appropriate changes and corrections. It lets you take responsibility for your actions and to make the changes to be successful. In this type of economy, more so than any other time, it is important you are the “real deal” for your customers and team. When no one seemingly has the answer and every decision is a challenge – you must be able to come across as someone who can be trusted and believed. If not – you are just another sales rep. We are who we are! Sayers says: How real are you? Are you being yourself in all your sales situations? Watch your behaviour in the next few weeks and observe how you react and behave. Do a reality check. When were you yourself and when were you trying to be someone else? If I was to ask your top customers how they view your behaviour – What would they say? Bill Sayers is an inspirational speaker and a visionary business leader. He has spent the past 29 years in the "Sales" arena. He started his career as an inside sales rep and worked his way up the corporate ladder to the level of VP of Sales at an IBM company. During that time he worked for Revelstoke Lumber, King Products, Linotype, Ryder Transportation, GE Capital IT Solutions and IBM. Bill is able to communicate powerful concepts in a manner, which enables practical application in the business world and drives profitable results for his clients. His goal is to help sales people ignite their passion for the game of sales. Passion - Process - Performance www.thesayersgroup.com
Sales KnowHow 11
is the number of selling days in 2010; assuming you work a mere 10 hours a day, that's 2540 hours of selling. (I know, you work weekends too). How will you maximize it? Let's for a moment pretend that each hour was equivalent to $100. Your quota for next year is a 12% increase over 2009. How will you invest your cash, your $254,000, and your time to realize or exceed the required returns? Well if you've reading The Pipeline, both this monthly edition and the more frequently published blog edition, you know we always focus on execution; execution of a sound plan built on metrics, action, review and adjustment. To successfully achieve the returns on investment required we need to create a balance, much like you would in an investment portfolio. The balance delivered by diversification based on asset class or specific securities; all the factors that go into answering: what is the best investment
12 Sales KnowHow
strategy to ensure a 12% return? Starting at a high level the first question is where to best place the money, equity or debt, derivatives or pulled funds, gold or commodity stocks, etc. Drilling down, looking at equities, will you be looking at growth or value stocks, high-tech or health, not to mention the selection of individual companies? Always striving to achieve growth, minimize or balance risk, and as always realize enough returns to satisfy the expectations of the clients, that is your company. Approached like that, sales can be simplified for many, complicated for others. How does this translate to selling? Again at a high level, what are the big "asset" groups, i.e. how much of the $254,000 do I invest in Account Management, I guess that could be bonds; security, perhaps less aggressive growth, but solid organic growth if handled well. Clearly the percentage of time you would put to this or any other activity (asset)
would depend on a combination of expected returns versus other activities, previous experience with that group, and the overall make up of your territory. If you are trying to aggressively grow, you may invest your time prospecting, growth stocks, what percentage of time/portfolio will that represent? You would then repeat the process for other "assets" or activities, lead generation, admin, planning and preparation, e-mail, voice mail, fire fighting. The underlying criteria being that you are always proactive, avoid being reactive; actively managing your funds, not taking a passive approach.. As soon as you spend more time being reactive than proactive, it is a clear indication that you are not in control, and at risk of losing your capital â€“ time. One of the most overlooked activities in both sales as in investing is planning and research. It is said that most people spend more time researching a purchase
By Tibor Shanto
of a flat screen TV than they do in buying stocks in their retirement plans. It is similar in sales, as a rule, sales people spend little time planning and being proactive. We always do an exercise with the sales professionals we work with, asking them to tell us all the key activities they
As with investing many are also driven by emotion rather than rationale. A lot of "investors" hang on to stocks that will never recover in the hope of it making a miraculous rally. Sales people keep opportunities in their pipeline when they know the sale will never happen, spend-
One of the most overlooked activities in both sales as in investing is planning and research.
need to do to be successful. Planning is almost never on the list, in fact if not for that one guy in Chicago, I would be able to say never. Planning is just not on their minds. Even after it is introduced, people nod acknowledging it, but then go right to rationalizing why they just don’t have the time. In essence what they are saying in the metaphoric context used in this article is that they do not see enough value in the asset, in planning.
ing time and resources on dead opportunities rather than proactively prospecting for new revenue opportunities. It is always hard to understand how fear of failure can be less than fear of rejection faced in prospecting. So the question for 2010, as it always is in sales, how will you allocate your time for optimal success? Will you then manage to stick to your plan while responding to market conditions, stick to a
Sales KnowHow 13
What is Marketing? I
am often asked what the difference is between sales and marketing. Marketing researches the opportunity, prepares the strategy, produces the tools to inform the prospect and places the potential sale on the table. The Salesperson then picks up the ball and confirms the opportunity, contributes to the strategy, uses the tools to inform the prospect and moves the opportunity off the table and into the cash register. Marketing is everything from how you answer the telephone, correct spelling in your correspondence, and SEO to the words and graphics of your emails, tweets, website and brochures. The essence of marketing is very simple. It is saying the right thing to the right person at the right time. However, knowing what to say, when to say it and who to say it to is much tougher. Marketing is a collaboration. In small business you often wear both the sales and marketing hats. It is important to maintain objectivity. I urge you to include others at as many stages of the process as possible. They may see something you donâ€™t or they could add ideas you havenâ€™t thought of. Mistakes can be minimized and opportunities capitalized upon. Every day new and exciting elements and challenges are being tossed into the marketing mix. There is no reason to be overwhelmed by all these choices. Seek out professional advice in the form of marketing suppliers or go to seminars or workshops. There are many qualified marketing resources to help guide you through this exciting jungle. Marketing takes on many forms including, but not restricted to; research, decision making, customer service, supplier relations, sales calls, planning, rethinking, constant re-evaluation, late night deliveries, early morning presentations, brochures, business cards, advertising, trade and consumer shows, marketing plans & programs, lead generation materials, sales presentation materials, direct marketing programs, database development & management, telemarketing, print production, public relations & publicity, strategic alliances, sales training, marketing training, internet, website, SEO, social media, link popularity, emails, blogs, newsletters, corporate identity/logo design, sales meetings and much more. When do you need to start your marketing? The minute you have the first inkling of an idea you must start researching the target group, the competition, the need for the product or service itself. Integrate this information within the product/ service, packaging, price, distribution, communications tools and every discussion you have about it from that first moment on.
14 Sales KnowHow
By Eric Gilboord
10 Habits To Becoming A Successful Marketer 1. Be honest and clear about your target group. Your target group is not all adults or all females, or all females with blue eyes. Get as close to the core of your target audience and be honest with yourself about who is really buying your product or service. 2. Follow a defined sales process and follow up at each stage of the process. There are many books and courses that outline well defined sales & marketing processes. Find a process you believe in and follow it loyally. 3. Be completely up-to-date on your competition. Know what your competition is going to do before they have done it and prepare yourself. Learn from their mistakes and from their successes. 4. Put your client/customers needs before yours. If you put your customer before yourself they will notice and remember at decision making time. 5. Utilize new technology. From the internet with your website, e-mail, SEO, link popularity, blogs, social networking, to cost effective-low run-4 colour printing, to contact management software and voice mail, it is much easier today to compete with larger companies.
6. Love what you do. Customers want to be with winners and loving what you do will get you through the tough times.
7. Be as up-to-date as you can on your industry. Vertical industry publications will help to keep you informed of trends and opportunities. Read up on your industry and your customers. 8. Have a written Marketing Plan. The old expression “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there” has never been more true. Everyday you are faced with new challenges and opportunities. If you don’t have a road map that included some planning and decisions it is very easy to drift for a long time, never quite succeeding.
9. Have a point of difference. Be clear and concise about what product or service you offer and how you are different from competitors.
10. Constantly re-evaluate your business. Every meeting, presentation, and discussion you have about your business is reason to re-think what you are doing. Challenge every aspect of your business and make it better every day. And that's According 2 Eric
Eric Gilboord is a specialist in making marketing easy for business owner/operators and any staff with sales or marketing responsibility. He demystifies marketing so they can use it to generate sales today and grow their businesses faster. Eric is a popular speaker, coach, columnist and author of many articles and books on moving a business up to the next level. The Expert Business Calls for Marketing Advice...That's Easy to Understand. For more information please visit: www.EricGilboord.com
Sales KnowHow 15
round this time of year, everyone begins thinking about making resolutions and getting organized for greater productivity in the New Year. If I could pick a single goal for everyone, it would be revamping those time-sucking meetings! Meetings can eat up your day if you let them. Ever seen the Dilbert cartoon about preliminary pre-meeting meetings? Does it feel like you're stuck in that Dilbert cartoon and can't get anything effective done? Well, you don't have to take it anymore! Keep these things in mind when dealing with time-stealing meetings. Refuse Face-to-Face Meetings When Unnecessary Determine if you really need to meet in person. How many times have you attended a meeting and asked yourself, "Why am I here?" Hopefully, by now you've started protecting your time from every person who wants a piece of it. If my clients want to meet in person, I charge a consulting fee. For telephone calls, no charge. Ninety percent of the time, a conference call will suffice. Extra travel time and expenses are involved when meeting in person, so avoid it unless dialogue and brainstorming are required. Do not accept a meeting invitation if the requestor can't state in one sentence the exact reason you're meeting. For example: • To inform our department of changes in the holiday pay policy. • To sell management on our division's plan to automate payroll processing.
16 Sales KnowHow
• To brainstorm the best way to resolve the association's budget deficit. • To determine realistic sales goals for each region for next year. • To discuss the critical skills required for successful performance as a first-level supervisor. Cancel Meetings Meetings can be important; they allow for the exchange of ideas and play an important role in the dynamics of the workplace. But not all meetings have the same value. With a limited number of hours in the day, you need to pick and choose when a meeting is appropriate and when it isn't. Always think twice before calling a meeting. If you have the flexibility to choose, you should always think twice about agreeing to attend one, too. If you feel like a good deal of your day is wasted by meetings, consider the following: Is the meeting simply to exchange information? If so, an email might do the trick just as well, and save everyone a lot of time. Is there travel involved? An elevator ride is one thing; real travel is quite another. Whether the meeting will include attendees from across town or across the country, always stop and consider whether a conference call or webinar meetup might be just as effective (I use www.gotomeeting. com). Sometimes the face-to-face is critical. Other times, it just doesn't matter, so why waste travel time? What's your role? Maybe your place could be taken by an assistant who can take good notes. Just make sure that if decisions
need to be made, whoever's taking your place is capable of filling in for you. Others will be annoyed if your absence turns into an inconvenience for them. If you do need to be there personally, find out exactly what's needed of you. If only one item on a two-hour agenda involves you, perhaps you can handle that matter first and leave the meeting early. Or ask what time to show. Spending half of your day in meetings waiting for your agenda item can be a frustrating time-waster. Limit Attendees More is not merrier. Think through who really needs to be there. Don't worry about hurting someone's feelings if they aren't included. If you simply want to keep a stakeholder or player in the loop, select them as "optional," instead of "required." Always assume that higher-ups have much more profitable things to do than sit in your meeting. Think about how much people are paid, and ask if your meeting is worth an hour of their pay PLUS what they otherwise could have been doing if they weren't stuck there. Only invite people if they have a direct contribution to make to the meeting objective, and the desired decisions would not be able to be made without them. If their presence is only required for ten minutes, give them the first ten minutes, and then allow them to graciously depart. Multiply Your Hands Have meeting requests and responses go to your delegate (if you have one), not to
to Stop the
By Laura Stack
ng Madness! you. Don't wade through all the responses; that's why you have an assistant. In Outlook, under Tools, Options, Delegates, select "Send meeting requests and responses only to my delegates, not to me." Brilliant. Avoid Meetings on Fridays Many departments and teams decide as an informal policy to schedule meetings Monday-Thursday if at all possible. Too many people try to take long weekends or duck out early, making scheduling and rescheduling a nightmare on Fridays, plus you'll end up with a lot of no-shows. I try to leave Fridays open for personal appointments. I find if I put a doctor's appointment in between business meetings, something always happens to derail one or the other. It's hard to get my mind switched between different realms in any case. Distribute Your Agenda Early Always send or request an agenda and include it in the text portion of the appointment, or include it as an attachment. A basic agenda should include a statement of purpose, any logistical considerations, the decisions to be made, a list of the topics to discuss (in priority order), who's responsible for that item, and how long you're allotting for each one. Ask participants if they have any changes to the agenda items to let you know in advance of the meeting, so you can make adjustments if necessary. Once you get into the meeting, follow the agenda diligently, so you can ensure all points are covered, decisions are made, and the objective is achieved.
Set Your Meeting's Length Yourself Don't let Outlook pick the length of your meeting; the default is one hour, so that's how much time people normally schedule meetings. Instead, match the length of the meeting to the purpose. If you've done an agenda and you've determined you'll only need forty minutes, then manually change the invitation and schedule for that. Otherwise, time will expand to fill the amount of time available. If you've promised folks you'll be out of there quickly, people tend to work toward that goal. If there's slack time, more socializing will naturally occur, and an hour will definitely get used. Some people try to build in "buffer" time; don't cave to this habit. I purposefully under-schedule and announce the goal at the beginning, so everyone is actively moving forward. Use Online Scheduling for Outside Parties According to an international research of online scheduler Doodle, professionals spend 5 hours a week with setting up meetings alone (see "www.doodle.com/ about/mediareleases/survey.html" 1st International Study on Scheduling Trends 2009). HYPERLINK "http://www.productivitypro.com/newsletters/Doodle.com" Doodle.com is an online polling tool to find a good day/time for participants to meet, especially helpful when they don’t work at your company. I particularly like the Outlook plugin. It provides an online display of optional meeting times allows all participants to indicate their preferred times and
enables the organizer to choose the final slot. Done. There is no toggling between participants’ calendars and no inefficient email chains—obtaining the availability of external parties is made effortless. By engaging participants, Doodle makes scheduling transparent and very flexible, regardless of whether they use online or offline calendars, paper planners, or no system at all. Allow Enough Breaks Provide at least one break for every hour and 15 minutes, max. Let attendees know at the outset what to expect. If you keep rambling on, and they aren't sure when they'll get a bio break, they'll just start getting up randomly and sneaking out. Clearly state at the beginning, "We'll meet from now until 10:00, and then we'll break until 10:10," etc. If you're meeting over a lunch hour, it's also common courtesy to provide food. Be Considerate of Those in Other Time Zones If you're in the Pacific Time zone, and some of your meeting participants are calling in from the East, a 2:00 meeting puts them into departure time. Realize that people may have childcare commitments at the end of the day; an afternoon meeting (or vice versa for early mornings on the West Coast) can severely inconvenience folks and reduce the odds of attendance. Strike a Balance on Scheduling If you schedule a meeting too far out, you'll get a bunch of cancellations and requests Q1 2010
Sales KnowHow 17
to reschedule as you get closer – or you'll just get trumped by someone higher up. If you wait to schedule a meeting until the last minute, it's hard to find a block of time when most people are readily available. So it's best to schedule 2-3 weeks in advance. Anything sooner or further off than that is fraught with scheduling challenges and conflicts. Immediately Inform the Meeting Leader of Conflicts If you have a change in your calendar but don't want to "rock the boat," you inconvenience more people the longer you wait. It takes effort to work schedules around appointments, so as soon as you know, raise the flag. The chair can determine if they can make it without you or if the meeting should be moved. Confirm Everything I've often shown up for a meeting but the other person "forgot." You'd like to think all adults are responsible and will do what they say they'll do, but it's always better to dash off a quick email: "Looking forward to seeing you on (date) at (time) at (location). Let me know if something comes up." I don't make people confirm that things are correct; I ask them to let me know if there's a change. Also make sure you get directions and map it out well in advance of trying to run out the door. I look at my calendar for the next day before I leave work and make sure I'm ready to roll on everything. Confirm with attendees, too, when it's your meeting. Open the original meeting request, select Actions, and then New Message to Attendees. Journal Your Meeting Notes Many people don't know how to use the Journal feature in Outlook, or even what it's for. If you've ever accidentally clicked it, you'll get a pop-up box that asks you if you're SURE you want to turn on the Journal. Most people freak out and click NO. Next time, click YES. Open a new Journal entry, select Meeting in the Type dropdown, type up your meeting notes, put in the day/ time of the meeting, indicate in the Contacts field the people at the meeting, and select a Category for the meeting name or project. When you pull up a Contact and click the Activities tab, you'll be able to see the Journal entries (notes) from every meeting you've ever had with that person. You can also pull up your Journal entries by Category to review meeting notes as far back as you'd like. OR give your notes to your assistant, have him type them up in the text field of the original meeting notice, save, and send a message to attendees (under Actions). Scheduling Meetings Do you find that it's close to impossible to get five or more attendees that are available at the same time and the same date? When key players are overbooked, it can take hours just to schedule a single a meeting. If you’re not on an exchange server, try my favorite: Doodle.com. Here are three questions you should ask yourself whenever you schedule a meeting:
18 Sales KnowHow
Do we really need all these people? Make sure you aren't inviting anyone who doesn't need to have a seat at the table. Not only does it make scheduling more difficult, but you'll either (a) waste their time or (b) bend over backwards to accommodate someone who isn't going to show up anyway. Can we keep people in the loop without inviting them to every meeting? Some meetings are full of wallflowers who need to know what's going on but don't necessarily need to contribute. Publishing meeting minutes or distributing essential information electronically can save time and shorten the attendee list. Also, take a look to see if some work areas are sending multiple representatives. By choosing a single designee from each area, you can make sure everyone is represented without having everyone in the room. Do we need to meet at all? This is a question you should ask about EVERY meeting, not just the hard-to-schedule ones. Any meeting that doesn't have a clear objective (if not a formal agenda) should be on the chopping block. Sorry, He's In a Meeting Meetings are the bane of business productivity – but we couldn't do business without them. This is one of the central ironies of modern business, but there it is. Email and a quick phone call can only do so much. Face-to-face (or at least voiceto-voice) contact for minutes or hours at a time is often (if not always) necessary to achieve the synergetic interactions that drive accomplishment. That doesn't change the fact that it's amazingly frustrating to spend half your day in meetings and meeting preparations when you're trying to get things done. You see, to a corporate cog living for 5 PM Friday, this might be productivity—but to the SuperCompetent among us, it's a potential intrusion on our productive time, requiring that we give up something else in order to make progress. After all, they're not making days any longer yet; all we've got are 24 hours. Make it a productive day! (TM) © Copyright 2010 Laura Stack. All rights reserved. © 2010 Laura Stack. Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier® with Maximum Results in Minimum Time®. She is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in high-stress organizations. Since 1992, Laura has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces. She is the bestselling author of three works published by Broadway Books: The Exhaustion Cure (2008), Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004). Laura is a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, and Day-Timers®, Inc and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and the New York Times. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Sunoco, KPMG, Nationwide, and 3M. To have Laura speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401. Visit www.TheProductivityPro.com to sign up for her free monthly productivity newsletter. For More Articles by Laura Stack Click Here
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