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2012 – A year of Fulfillment?

Welcome to the New Year!  Will it be our best ever?  Well if it is to be, then let’s get started, OK?  Let’s start at the beginning; with our annual plan.  

Of course, planning our year is more than simply writing down goals.  Goals without milestones are just “hope” as I wrote about last year: 

            http://thequoteguys.com/2011/01/1st-rule-of-personal-business/ 

Nonetheless, writing down our goals is an excellent starting point: 

The first and most important thing about goals is having one. 

                                  Geoffrey Albery 

When writing our goals, I believe it’s also wise to incorporate the “Principle of Balance”.  Here’s a picture with space for notes, if you’d like:  

 

Many of us write individual “business plans” thinking only in terms of Financial Success, true?  Yes, Financial Success is important; but do we have the commitment to achieve it?  I remember while leading a top sales team, I would occasionally hear one of my Producers say when he or she faced the crossroads of a good year vs. a bad year, that being Family oriented was what was most important to them.  Well, me too.  However, I believe one of the best ways to care for our Family is to be successful; you? 

OK, that covers Financial Success, and leads us to Family.  Establishing personal goals for the role we play with our Family can easily be overlooked, yes? Certainly, writing down goals for our Family is quite personal – but just as important as any other quadrant in our annual Achievement Plan, don’t you think?  Go on – take a moment to write down a few of your 2012 goals for the role you will play with your Family; we’ll wait. 

The importance of Personal Development in our Plan can also be minimized.  Yet, it remains another key to success – whatever our abilities today, we should continuously strive to be better tomorrow, don’t you agree?  It could be as elaborate as the Electrical Engineering degree my older son is pursuing; or as straight-forward as the 1-2 books each month my younger son reads.  Personal Development is personal; yet writing goals in the Personal Development quadrant reinforces the Principle of Balance. 

Leading us to Fulfillment.  Doug Larson put it this way: 

Establishing goals is all right if you don’t let them deprive you of interesting detours. 

Although I advocate writing an annual Achievement Plan; with measurable goals; corresponding milestones; striving to make the New Year better than the previous; … I also believe in the power of imagination; the presence of magic; and the purpose of Fulfillment

The idea came from a former colleague of mine, Peter Goodwin.     He also believed in the annual planning process, but he added a unique twist to his that I have since incorporated into mine.  Each year I write down lifetime dreams that if I could be so blessed, I will achieve.  And when I do realize the Fulfillment of one of these dreams, I don’t check it off the list.  No, it remains on my annual Achievement Plan with the date of Fulfillment; serving as a constant reminder of the power of imagination; the presence of magic. 

And it reinforces the Principle of Balance:                                   

Goals are dreams with deadlines.                                 

Diana Scharf-Hunt                     

OK then, go ahead and update your list of dreams in the Fulfillment quadrant of your 2012 Achievement Plan; we’ll wait.  And remember to DREAM BIG!  James Collins in his book, Built to Last, called them “Big, Hairy Audacious Goals!” 

GAP 

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Showing up and Throwing up…

You’re right – let’s chat about sales presentations.  

During our sales careers, we have often heard the cautionary statement, “don’t just show up and throw up”, haven’t we?  According to the accepted wisdom in our industry, when we just “show up and throw up” – we “blow up”. 

Clearly in our profession, sales presentations are a skills-based endeavor; but how do we avoid blowing up?  Lots of opinions and resources are available for this topic, aren’t there.  But whose opinions and examples are right?  Is there an expert?  We can always turn to Ben; 

Learn from the skillful:  He that teaches himself hath a fool for his master.

                                  Benjamin Franklin 

I’ve been invited to observe several of my fellow sales professionals recently on their presentation skills.  I’ve tried to coach them on how to avoid blowing up – but  who am I to say? 

We might all agree that effective sales presentations involve a high degree of individual style and personal preference.  And our styles and preferences are all very different from one another.  So at the risk of “throwing up” – and “blowing up” – permit me to offer two considerations, based on my own presentation explosion events over the years. 

If you haven’t practiced your presentation – they will notice. 

QUESTION:  When was the last time you practiced your presentation?  Yep – I’m talking about role-plays; in front of your peers; recorded on camera; the works.  Now, if we were an offensive guard for the Denver Broncos, we would practice our pass-blocking footwork over and over and over again, wouldn’t we?  We would review the film of our practices with our coach, too. And if we didn’t, our lack of preparation would be obvious on game day, as our opponent “blows us up”.  Is our sales profession any less professional than professional football? 

SOAPBOX WARNING:  It’s one of my biggest “pet-peeves”.  (Of course, my pet peeves are not important, really; I’m just another sales guy.)  But, if we are not practicing our sales presentations with a teammate, manager, or at least to our dog – then we are practicing on our prospects.  And their pet peeves are important.  Oh, they won’t offer us feedback for improvement.  Nope, they’ll just keep their opinions – and their purchases – to themselves. 

If you have 2-hours of content prepared for a 1 hour meeting – don’t try to talk faster. 

We have all been in this situation before, right?  The prospect cuts our allotted time; we scheduled a 2-hour appointment, but when we showed up they said they have to leave early.  So we tried to sell faster, didn’t we:

 “OK, Mr. Prospect.  Buckle up, please.  Hold your questions.  Better have some more coffee…” 

And my favorite icing on the Meeting-Time-Mismanagement-Cake is when the sales rep adds, “You probably will never use this, but I wanted to show it to you anyway”.  (What?  Is that the sound of a presentation blowing up in the background?  I smell gun powder – you?) 

Oh, there’s much, much more we could add.   But that would move this from a brief discussion to a “throw up” (and “blow up”).  Permit me to summarize with a sales presentation best practice offered by my favorite source – the Unknown Sage: 

            If a thing goes without saying, let it. 

So, before we have to call the Bomb Squad, let’s all defuse our sales presentations with a commitment to practicing them ahead of time, coupled with an excellent approach to time management, yes?  

                               GAP 

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1st Rule of Personal Business

“First Rule of Business:

Having a detailed business plan doesn’t guarantee success, but not having one guarantees failure.”

                      Unknown Sage

Captain’s Log – Star Date 01.17.2011, “Setting out for our new destination.  Don’t have a clue how we’re going to get there, nor what milestones we will look for along the way.  Milestones?  What in the galaxy are milestones, anyway?”

What is your destination for 2011?  Or, should I say destinations, plural?  And are you planning to get there or hoping to get there.  (Hoping – reminds me of one of my favorite business book titles, Hope is Not a Strategy.)  I will sit down in January and write my annual achievement plan.  Yes, yes, I know, I’m a little behind – an annual achievement plan should be written before 1/1.  I’m guilty of a little procrastination.  Donald Robert and Perry Marquis defined procrastination as, “the art of keeping up with yesterday.”  Well, I will get mine written in January and it will be written in a way that provides me milestones in 2011 that are meaningful to my journey.

Oh yes, and my company is also expecting me to fill in their annual sales plan too.  I don’t know about you, but to be meaningful my annual plan is a very personal matter.  Don’t get me wrong.  I understand I need to meet or exceed expectations of my company to earn recognition; make President’s Club; be promoted; or simply keep my job.   But there is much, much more to a successful year than just what you or I accomplish at work, yes?  There is our health for instance; family and friends; recreation; church and community; self-development; home improvement; lifetime fantasies; net worth goals; etc.  Ah yes, net worth; back to the money. 

Many people believe that money and success are one in the same, and the only important items for their annual plan.  That life is tough when your W-2 is smaller.    Of course, John Wayne said in the movie Iwo Jima, “Life is tough.  It’s tougher when you’re stupid.”  Again, don’t get me wrong.  I like big commission checks as much as the next person.  But I digress.  To me, an annual achievement plan has a few, very important components which make it personal enough to be meaningful.  Permit me to share a few. 

My annual achievement plan is written; if it isn’t in writing, it’s just hope.  I may state certain goals, but goals without tasks and milestones are just (you guessed it) hope.  These are the types of tasks that I can “check off” as I complete them.  It encourages me to look at my plan every day to see what I can check off; gives me a sense of progress; a feeling of accomplishment; positive motivation. Oh, and that word – motivation – and it’s opposite, de-motivation; perhaps the most critical area of my annual achievement plan.  This is where I want to keep hope alive! 

To succeed, I must believe I can accomplish my plan.  And, I must avoid the temptation to overload my plan to the point that I cannot possible do everything written down no matter how good my intentions might be, nor how hard I try.  That would make my plan de-motivational and could kill my hope.  Being realistic; prioritizing; and staying positive are the keys to me.

So, I expect 2011 will be a great year.  In fact, I’m planning on it!  How about you?

                                                            GAP

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