Tag Archive | "success"

The Secret Trait All Successful Salespeople Share, According to Science


In 1960, toymaker Harold von Braunhut created a product he felt certain would be his biggest hit to date–a dehydrated strain of brine shrimp that could be reanimated simply by adding water, reports Inc. He named his product Instant Life and waited for the dollars to roll in.

The product flopped spectacularly.

But Harold von Braunhut was a persistent man. He decided that the problem with his sales had little to do with what he was offering and far more to do with how he was offering it. So von Braunhut completely revamped his marketing approach.

He renamed his tiny life forms Sea-Monkeys and rolled out an advertisement depicting them as a smiling family of finned beings who would “swim, play, scoot, race, and do comical tricks and stunts” in front of their underwater castle home. He ran these ads in the back pages of comic books, amidst fantastic tales of superheroes and otherworldly adventures.

Anyone who bought these Sea-Monkeys should have realized almost immediately that the primitive organisms floating in their bowl bore little resemblance to the magical creatures von Braunhut had cooked up for the ad. Yet Sea-Monkeys made Harold von Braunhut a multimillionaire many times over, and continue to sell three million units a year even today.

Why?

A Psychological Tactic All Great Salespeople Use

The phenomenon behind von Braunhut’s success is what neurologists and psychologists refer to as “cognitive priming.” In other words, human beings are wired to see what we want to see. The best salespeople and marketers are those who embrace this.

In the case of von Braunhut, everything about his approach–from the whimsical drawings to the enclosed magnifying lenses–made buyers really, really want to believe in the vision he helped them build up in their heads. He intentionally selected messaging to filter for a target audience that had proven themselves willing to enter directly into a world of imagination. Then, all he had to do was provide the fuel for their fantasies.

The reality is that when people are making a decision about whether to buy something, they follow their feelings, perceptions, and desires above all else. What the heart wants to believe, the mind will accept. Those who accept and master this central truth will never want for customers.

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8 Small Things People Use to Judge Your Personality


The human brain is hardwired to judge. This survival mechanism makes it very hard to meet someone without evaluating and interpreting their behavior, reports Entrepreneur.

While we tend to think that our judgments are based on the content of conversations and other obvious behaviors, the research says otherwise. In fact, the majority of our judgments are focused on smaller, subtler things, such as handshakes and body language. We often form complete opinions about people based solely on these behaviors.

We are so good at judging other people’s personalities based on small things that, in a University of Kansas study, subjects accurately predicted people’s personality traits, such as extroversion/introversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness, simply by looking at pictures of the shoes they wore.

Our unconscious behaviors have a language of their own, and their words aren’t always kind. These behaviors have likely become an integral part of who you are, and if you don’t spend much time thinking about them, now is a good time to start, because they could be sabotaging your career.

1. How you treat waiters and receptionists. 

How you treat support staff is so indicative of your makeup that it has become a common interview tactic. By gauging how you interact with support staff on your way in and out of the building, interviewers get a sense for how you treat people in general. Most people act the part when they’re speaking to the hiring manager or other “important” people, but some will pull a Jekyll and Hyde act the moment they walk out the door, treating others with disdain or indifference. Business lunches are another place this comes to light. No matter how nice you are to the people you have lunch with, it’s all for naught if those people witness you behaving badly toward others.

2. How often you check your phone. 

There’s nothing more frustrating than someone pulling out their phone mid-conversation. Doing so conveys a lack of respect, attention, listening skills, and willpower. Unless it’s an emergency, it’s wise to keep your phone holstered. A study from Elon University confirms that pulling out your phone during a conversation lowers both the quality and quantity of face-to-face interactions.

3. Repetitive, nervous habits. 

Touching your nails or face or picking at your skin typically indicates that you’re nervous, overwhelmed, and not in control. Research from the University of Michigan suggests that these nervous habits are indicative of a perfectionistic personality, and that perfectionists are more likely to engage in these habits when they’re frustrated or bored.

4. How long you take to ask questions. 

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where they talked about themselves the entire time? The amount of time someone allows to pass before they take an interest in you is a strong personality indicator. People who only talk about themselves tend to be loud, self-absorbed “takers.” People who only ask questions and share little about themselves are usually quiet, humble “givers.” Those who strike a nice balance of give-and-take are reciprocators and good conversationalists.

5. Your handshake. 

It’s common for people to associate a weak handshake with a lack of confidence and an overall lackadaisical attitude. A study at the University of Alabama showed that, although it isn’t safe to draw assumptions about someone’s competence based on their handshake, you can accurately identify personality traits. Specifically, the study found that a firm handshake equates with being less shy, less neurotic, and more extroverted.

6. Tardiness. 

Showing up late leads people to think that you lack respect and tend to procrastinate, as well as being lazy or disinterested. Contrary to these perceptions, a San Diego State University study by Jeff Conte revealed that tardiness is typically seen in people who multitask, or are high in relaxed, Type B personality traits. Conte’s study found that Type B individuals are often late because they experience time more slowly than the rest of us. Bottom line here is not to read too much into people showing up late. It’s better to ask what’s behind it than to make assumptions.

7. Handwriting. 

There are all manner of false stereotypes attempting to relate your handwriting to your personality. For example, people believe that how hard you press down on the paper relates to how uptight you are, the slant of your writing indicates introversion or extroversion, and the neatness/sloppiness of your writing reveals organizational tendencies. The research is inconclusive at best when it comes to handwriting and personality. If you have an important letter to write, I’d suggest sticking to the keyboard to keep things neutral.

8. Eye contact. 

The key to eye contact is balance. While it’s important to maintain eye contact, doing so 100 percent of the time is perceived as aggressive and creepy. At the same time, if you only maintain eye contact for a small portion of the conversation, you’ll come across as disinterested, shy, or embarrassed. Studies show that maintaining eye contact for roughly 60 percent of a conversation strikes the right balance and makes you come across as interested, friendly, and trustworthy.

Bringing It All Together

Sometimes the little things in life make a big difference. It’s good to be ready for them, so that you can make a strong impression.

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How Startups Can Get Media Attention Without Hiring a PR Agency


In my last post, I outlined four reasons why early-stage startups shouldn’t hire PR firms. There are exceptions to just about every rule, but I stand by that advice for the vast majority of cases, reports Forbes.

Still, that piece lacked actionable guidance for startups to get press on their own. This post will provide that guidance.

In simple terms, startups have two options when ultimately choosing not to hire a PR firm:

1.) Hustle it out on their own.

2.) Find cheaper, non-traditional help.

If you’re considering these options, I recommend sticking with the first. Finding high-quality, non-traditional PR help is very hard for anyone to do, but it’s particularly hard for startups. The freelance PR market is fragmented and opaque, with plenty of dubious actors who can point to a couple minor successes, amidst a history of failures, to lure new clients. 

And as a population largely lacking in the chops to effectively evaluate PR professionals, startups are easy prey for bad actors. You’ll likely spend a long, long time trying to find one of the few high-quality freelancers out there, or end up getting fleeced in the process. My recommendation is to instead spend that time making headway on your own.

I’ll outline just how you can do that.

Gut and Relationships

In simple terms, you hire professional PR help for two reasons. First, they should provide a finely-tuned sense of what does and does not work as a press story, along with a similarly finely-tuned view of how to match those story angles with different publications. Second, they should have the relationships at those publications to get stories placed.

That’s it. Gut and relationships.

So when you think about going the hustle-it-out route, you should think about it in those terms. How are you going to make up for your lack of experience and relationships?

Gut

Let’s start with the first component—the fact that you probably have no idea how to make your company interesting to the press. If you have some effort to spare, there are some easy ways to make up for this deficit.

Before you do anything, you’ll need to acquire a solid understanding for how the press talks about your industry. Step one: head over to Google and spend as much time as you can getting a feel for what people are talking about in your space. What are the big questions, controversies or trends? How do different publications approach these topics? What are people getting wrong? What are they missing?

Basically, you need to soak yourself in relevant media so that, eventually, you can internalize the different lenses through which reporters approach topics and companies in your industry. Think backwards from headlines. How can you see your company plausibly fitting into the conversation?

Next, you still need some professional advice.

As the founder of a startup, odds are that you have some kind of moderately effective network. You may have investors, mentors, advisors, other founder friends, etc. Somewhere within that network is someone who knows a PR professional. It’s even possible that this PR professional knows what they’re talking about.

Find a way to talk to that PR professional and milk them for 15 minutes of advice. If they’re any good, they’ll prevent you from making any number of stupid mistakes within the first five minutes and possibly give you a sense of the most promising angles for your business after the first 15. They’ll also be helpful for tactical tips and etiquette. (I.e., “How long should I wait to follow-up with reporters?”)

And if you don’t have a PR professional in your network? If you live in a media-dense market like New York or San Francisco, there are almost certainly events that have media professionals crawling all over them. Just go wherever reporters are, and you’ll probably find three PR people for every journalist. Since tech PR people need new business almost as much as they need to cozy up to journalists, they’re generally happy to talk to startup founders about a couple of their issues in these situations.

If that’s not an option, find someone who looks like they know what they’re talking about online and cold e-mail them. Some may not take the call, but a lot will. 

Relationships

For early-stage startups, PR firms often appear most valuable for their relationships with the media. This is valid, though you’d be surprised by how many firms survive by just cold-emailing hundreds of reporters. 

That said, relationships with the media are still enormously valuable. As a startup founder, you’ll never be able to match the rolodex of a quality firm, but the truth is that you don’t need to. At your stage, you likely don’t need an expensive, sustained communications strategy. You just need a couple of pieces of decent press, and a couple of relationships to get them. With a little work, that’s definitely achievable.

Here’s how to make that happen:

1.) Again, use your network.

Like I mentioned earlier, as a startup founder you should have some reasonably robust network. There are probably people within that network—investors, founders, consultants—who are on friendly terms with one or more journalists. Find those people, ask for introductions and go from there.

2.) Be helpful.

In order to do their jobs well, journalists have to continuously get information from people in the industries they cover. Guess what? You work in one of the industries they cover. By virtue of that fact, you probably have insights and opinions that could be very useful for them. 

As one prominent tech reporter noted, “If people are going to feed me information, then I’m much more likely to be their friend.”

In practice, this means providing helpful opinions and facts to relevant reporters via social media or a very concise, non-salesy email. 

3.) Go to events.

Again, this works best in a media dense market, but even smaller cities often have local reporters hanging around conferences or panels. Go to these events, talk to reporters like a normal human, and follow-up politely. To find relevant events, I recommend Meetup.com and local newsletters like Startup Digest or, in New York, Gary’s Guide.  

4.) Send thoughtful, targeted emails.

Even without relationships, an interesting product and angle, along with a couple of human-sounding emails from the founder, can do wonders. I gave this advice (pro bono) to the Columbia freshmen behind Readism, for example, and they ended up with articles in The Next WebPC WorldLifehackerBustle and Digital Trends.

Trust me, before they began the process they were just as clueless as you are now. But with a little effort you too can save yourself a couple grand on a PR firm and still get the press you deserve. 

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13 Confident Ways to Overcome Your Shyness


Shyness can truly hold people back–partly because those who are shy tend to avoid public situations and speaking up, and partly because they experience so much chronic anxiety.

If that’s you, take comfort in knowing you are far from alone–four out of 10 people consider themselves shy.

But here’s the good news: Shyness can be overcome. With time and effort and a desire to change, it’s possible to break through, reports Inc.

If your shyness is severe, you may need help from a therapist or counselor, but most people can overcome it on their own.

Take your first steps in getting past shyness with these 13 techniques to help you become a more confident you.

1. Don’t tell.

There’s no need to advertise your shyness. Those who are close to you already know, and others may never even have an opportunity to notice. It’s not as visible as you probably think.

2. Keep it light.

If others bring up your shyness, keep your tone casual. If it becomes part of a discussion, speak of it lightheartedly.

3. Change your tone.

If you blush when you’re uncomfortable, don’t equate it with shyness. Let it stand on its own: “I’ve always been quick to blush.”

4. Avoid the label.

Don’t label yourself as shy–or as anything. Let yourself be defined as a unique individual, not a single trait.

5. Stop self-sabotaging.

Sometimes we really are our own worst enemy. Don’t allow your inner critic to put you down. Instead, analyze the power of that voice so you can defuse it.

6. Know your strengths.

Make a list of all your positive qualities–enlist a friend or family member to help if you need to–and read or recite it when you’re feeling insecure. Let it remind you how much you have to offer.

7. Choose relationships carefully.

Shy people tend to have fewer but deeper friendships–which means your choice of friend or partner is even more important. Give your time to the people in your life who are responsive, warm, and encouraging.

8. Avoid bullies and teases.

There are always a few people who are willing to be cruel or sarcastic if it makes for a good punch line, some who just have no sense of what’s appropriate, and some who don’t care whom they hurt. Keep a healthy distance from these people.

9. Watch carefully.

Most of us are hardest on ourselves, so make a habit of observing others (without making a big deal out of it). You may find that other people are suffering from their own symptoms of insecurity and that you are not alone.

10. Remember that one bad moment doesn’t mean a bad day.

Especially when you spend a lot of time inside your own head, as shy people tend to do, it’s easy to distort experiences, to think that your shyness ruined an entire event–when chances are it wasn’t a big deal to anyone but you.

11. Shut down your imagination.

Shy people sometimes feel disapproval or rejection even when it isn’t there. People probably like you much more than you give yourself credit for.

12. Stare it down.

Sometimes when you’re scared, the best thing to do is to face it head on. If you’re frightened, just stare it down and lean into it.

13. Name it.

Make a list of all your jitters and worries. Name them, plan how you’re going to eliminate them, and move forward.

Suffering from shyness shouldn’t keep you from the success you are seeking, so try these simple tools and make them work for you–in fact, they’re good techniques to try whether you’re shy or not.

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Eric ‘Frenchy’ Mélon Plans Coaching Session for Agent Summit


LAS VEGAS — Organizers of the upcoming Agent Summit announced that Eric “Frenchy” Mélon, president of sales at IAS, will serve as a featured speaker at the event, which is scheduled for May 9–11, 2016, at the Venetian Palazzo Las Vegas.

“The importance of training is not lost on agents, but the means to that end often can be,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of Agent Entrepreneur and F&I and Showroom. “Frenchy has the experience, the tools and the mindset agents need to take their dealer development skills to the next level and beyond.”

Mélon’s session, “Coaching for Success in Money and Mind,” will begin at 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10. A veteran trainer and executive, Mélon has built a reputation for challenging the status quo and not pulling punches. He said his session will go beyond the typical training seminar to educate agents on fresh techniques to improve performance, increase employee engagement and solve the everyday challenges that either drive or hinder personal growth.

By focusing on the right habits to develop and their impact on every aspect of the dealership, Mélon added, he will outline how the power of disciplined process drives sales by drastically improving customer experience and equip attendees with new tools that are simple, easy-to-implement and get results.

“Personnel turnover is at critical levels for our industry. It’s vital that we stop the bleeding and solve this profound problem,” Mélon said. “As the customer of today changes, so do the people working in dealerships. To finally drag our industry into the 21st century, we’re going to have to evolve, and it all starts with developing our people.”

Registration for Agent Summit is now open at the event’s website as well as by phone, fax and email. Attendees who register by April 4 will enjoy a $100 discount.

To inquire about sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, contact Eric Gesualdo via email hidden; JavaScript is required or call 727-612-8826.

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Redefining Leadership: How One Leader Changed His Ways


Behind every good company culture, there’s an even better leader, reports Forbes. In my experience, a workplace takes on the personalities of their leaders, for better or for worse. In fact, an honest evaluation of your employees’ opinions will likely clarify the exact places where leadership and culture meet, or in some cases clash to create a disconnect – and that disconnect really matters. When employees are unhappy with leadership, productivity drops, turnover rates spike and bottom lines suffer. This begs the question, why isn’t there more of a focus on people as the leading indicator of company success? Are we aware of how our employees perceive our leadership styles?

For over a year now, I’ve been working closely with a senior leader at our company, Chris. Through his story, I want to convince you to side with me on one big idea: that the “directive” form of leadership, where we simply tell people what to do and they do it, is not the best route to success. Although it is often revered as the default model in the corporate world, there’s an approach that is much more effective – and leaders like Chris prove that it is possible to change your ways.

Having moved from running my own small company to working in a large, public company, I got to know many leaders like Chris, who had climbed the corporate ladder very successfully, hitting or exceeding their targets and getting that next promotion. Chris had been promoted multiple times, he regularly met and exceeded goals and metrics – and he subscribed to a traditional form of leadership. Like many, Chris attributed his achievements to his blend of command and control leadership with a non-apologetic drive for success. But when our company executives emphasized the notion that effective leadership meant not only hitting targets, but also covering the people side of things, we challenged his understanding of success.

As a first step, I worked with data from our most recent employee engagement survey. Our leaders were used to understanding things in terms of metrics, so this proved to be the most effective way to deliver the message.

As suspected, we found that while some of our leaders met and exceeded their company targets, their teams were feeling left behind. The data showed that Chris’s team was reporting low engagement and personal investment, and often felt disconnected from him as a leader. When Chris received that feedback, he was not only shocked – he was hurt. Nobody wants to hear that they’re viewed poorly, especially by their own team. As such, I had to approach him with great sensitivity and work to earn his trust.

Aligned with this traditional mode of leadership, leaders like Chris prioritized goal attainment over everything else – even the well-being of their own employees. With a little guidance, I hoped to help Chris realize the positive impact of growing the careers and lives of his own employees and to feel inspired to adjust his approach.

Because Chris was so emotionally impacted by the results of the survey, I found that he was receptive to the idea of working with me. Chris was realizing that his upward mobility in the company would depend on his ability to adopt a more collaborative leadership style – and personally, he wanted to be more well-regarded by his team. Although we all operate differently, most of us want to be liked by our peers. That base desire is a great motivator to start what can otherwise be a daunting process.

It was time to get to work. We started in on a series of coaching sessions that provided Chris with small steps that could make a big impact on his team. We set realistic goals that came down to simple adjustments in style – how to be inclusive in meetings, how to listen to employee ideas, and how to care for employees by showing them compassion in the totality of their lives. We conducted focus groups with front-line team members, we moved away from delegation and embraced inclusion – Chris even attended a team bowling night.

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