by Susan A. Lund

One thing I have learned from years of running and coaching runners is that to go fast, we have to “Slow Down to Speed Up”. It sounds counter intuitive, however as I began to run more, I learned the importance of slowing down to speed up. This is true for every sport, including sales.

In the sport of sales, when individuals and teams are missing their sales goals, then what?  What happens when your team is behind their revenue goals?  The natural inclination is to speed up, however one must first slow down to speed up and assess and identify what can be done differently.

What happens when one doesn’t slow down to speed up? CEO’s and business owners continue to experience more challenges such as missed revenue goals, inconsistent or unpredictable sales, difficulty differentiating your solutions from the competition, attrition and challenges in accelerating sales. You can avoid these challenges by slowing down to speed up.

How can you slow down to speed up?  First, you must assess your selling potential as an individual and team.  Find out what you are doing well and what you can do differently to accelerate sales.

In 15 minutes you can KNOW YOUR SCORE, what you are doing well and what you and your team can do better to accelerate your sales.

Quickly access this assessment by going to and click on “Assess Your Potential”.

Next, you need an action plan.  Get started in the right direction with a 30 minute FREE consult post completion of your assessment.

What can you expect if you slow down to speed up?  The average Individuals and teams who have used the methods in Ignite Your Selling Potential have gained 31 new clients in 90 days!


  1. Slow down to speed up!
  2. Know Your Selling Potential Score
  3. Avoid the hazard of doing the same thing and expecting a different result

Susan is an international speaker, consultant, coach and author, imply contact Susan at

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by Bill Hellkamp, Owner, REACH Development Systems

The great salesperson, it has been said, can “sell iceboxes to Eskimos”! This implies that to be successful in sales, you must be able to convince people to buy things they don’t need. While this might be a profitable strategy for television hucksters and used car salesmen, it’s not an effective position for someone who plans to build a successful customer base. For those professionals, it is imperative to thoughtfully match your products or services to the true needs of the client. This will ensure successful transactions and long-term business connections.

Not only will matching your advantages to the needs of the client equal satisfied customers, but it will also differentiate your product or service from those offered by your competitors. Of course this means that you need to know what your advantages are in order to help the client understand them. Just a few weeks ago I was training a group of salespeople on this subject and I asked them (without warning) to give me three advantages they had over their competitors. Frankly, I was stunned by the silence that followed! It took about a minute before the group gave me a couple of advantages and they never came up with a third one. A room of forty salespeople should be able to come up with ten advantages immediately. Yet they wonder why their customers see their product as a commodity. You must be able to differentiate your product or service through marketplace advantages. Here are some important steps to take:

Determine the value you bring to the client. 

Get together with a group of people from your sales and marketing teams and see how many unique advantages you can come up with. Here are some questions you can use to prompt the group:

  1. What have your customers told you that they like?
  2. What are the strengths of your competitors that you share?
  3. What are the weaknesses of your competitors?
  4. What do you like most about your product or service?
  5. What qualities would you most like your clients to associate with your product/service?

Organize the key values into categories.

In all fairness to the sales group I mentioned earlier who could only come up with two advantages for their product, it can be hard to recollect these advantages during the pressure of a sales conversation. Therefore, it is important to categorize these advantages in a way that they can be more easily recalled and used when necessary. Here are some examples of groupings that might be helpful:

  • Customer Service
  • Unique Payment Options
  • Market Leadership
  • Product Exclusivity

Gather testimonials that represent the key categories or values.

Too many salespeople will merely mention their advantages in a list of benefits and leave it up to the prospect to connect how they will be useful for their situation. But a professional salesperson will choose the most appropriate advantages and then bring them to life with customer stories or testimonials which illustrate the true value the client will receive. As for most of us, we won’t recall these examples during the interview if we haven’t prepared them in advance. Additionally, each individual salesperson won’t necessarily have a great story for each advantage. So work as a group to identify and classify these testimonials so they are available when you want to use them with a customer.

Develop interview questions that match customer needs to your advantages.

Finally, develop questions that lead the client to desire those advantages that are unique to your organization. It is more effective if the customer tells you that they want a feature (exclusive to your product or service) than for you to tell them they should have it. For example, if my product is more reliable than my competitor’s, I would ask a question like, “What would happen if these were to fail during use?” This will encourage my prospect to discuss issues of dependability. As with the stories and testimonials, these questions won’t come to mind during the interview. I must prepare them in advance.

You might think that this is a lot of work for one or two sales, but experience has taught us that selling is a profession that must be worked at. By understanding your market advantages and being able to use them effectively in a sales interview, you will not only win more deals but you will win the bigger deals as well.

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by Susan Steinbrecher

Project Aristotle is a recent Google study that was undertaken to understand why certain teams in their workplace thrived while others seemed to struggle. After studying hundreds of Google’s teams and analyzing years of data, the researchers behind Project Aristotle discovered that “psychological safety” is the secret to building and maintaining successful teams.

Amy Edmondson, a Harvard Business School professor, describes psychological safety in her definitive 1999 study as “a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.”

The Google study solidifies what we already know: that people need a sense of security to do well at work. Honesty, transparency, and an overall atmosphere of mutual respect are imperative when building a psychological safety net for your team.

But first, you must earn — and keep — their trust.

Building trust will allow you to develop meaningful relationships and cultivate an unspoken mutual understanding; your team can count on you to do what you say and say what you mean. In turn, they will do the same for you. This sense of security, precipitated by you, means that your employees’ self-esteem is upheld. A safe haven of trust allows them to speak freely and think more creatively, without feeling rejected or embarrassed.

You have the ability to make a significant impact if you engender the trust of your employees. Make it a priority to inject some positivity into each workday. Be aware that your words have the power to sway the opinions and actions of others. If you treat your team members with respect and understanding, interpersonal trust and a sense of security will follow.

Here are some phrases that will instill trust and confidence within your team.

1. “What can I do to help?”

When you are truly committed to helping others, it creates a ripple effect. Your team will have more passion to work with you and for you if they believe you have their back. Simply saying, “I know that this project is important to you. How can I help?” can move mountains. Be sure to follow through on your promise to assist.

2. “I trust your decision.”

If your employees feel you trust them to do the right thing, it will boost morale and productivity. Remember, to be trusted, first you must trust.

3. “What can I do differently?”

Serve those you’re leading, not the other way around. Let people know that their opinions count. Part of your job as a leader is to remove the barriers to success by observing what might be standing in the way of your employees achieving their goals. Determine how you can facilitate their progress without eliminating accountability.

4. “What do you think is our best course of action?”

Ask questions versus handing out orders. Considerable insight can be gleaned by asking for someone’s opinion. This approach will win the hearts of your team members, as you’ll be viewed as a leader who values the perspectives of others and cares enough to ask for feedback.

Have faith in the process. Trust the people you lead. Say “thank you” more often, admit when you are wrong, and be open to new ideas. When you strive to develop more meaningful relationships with your associates, you’ll experience a deeper and more fruitful form of success — one that cannot be measured by profit.

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By Susan Lund

One of the things I appreciate about technology is that I can avoid the hazards of traffic or road closures by using my GPS and google maps.

In sales, there are 7 Costly hazards that are outlined in my new sales bookIgnite Your Selling Potential -7 SIMPLE Accelerators to Drive Revenue and Results FAST.  Use this book like GPS to avoid these hazards and save yourself valuable time and money, and accelerate your sales.  We will briefly outline these hazards here so you can avoid them, however a more detailed explanation can be found on pages 35-38 in the book.

  1. Blind Spots

When driving, a blind spot is an area slightly behind the driver’s field of vision that is not reflected in the rear view mirror. In sales, blind spots are things you are doing that put you at risk that you are not aware of, such as telling instead of listening.

  1. Activity Trap

People are inundated with emails, text messages and communication today.  It’s easy to get caught up in the activity trap and become consumed with activity that prevents us from achieving our goals. On average, people tap into less than 50% of their potential. By igniting your selling potential, you can avoid this hazard and focus on the 20% of activity that produces 80% of your results.

  1. Winging It

While winging it is easy and requires no preparation, it’s a formula for failure.  The formula for success is to prepare and plan. When you fail to plan and go into cruise control, you plan to fail.

  1. Entitlement

Accept responsibility for your growth. Avoid the hazard of thinking your company is perfect or owes you something.

  1. Being the expert

When things are green, they are growing; when they are ripe, they rot. Don’t be a know it all. Continually learn, listen and grow. Strive to make those around you the expert.

  1. Lack of belief in self or others

If you lack belief in yourself, that lack of belief will translate to others and hinder your relationships. Believe in yourself and believe in others. You will be amazed at how this will enhance your relationships.

  1. Wrong metrics

Measuring the wrong activities, the ones that don’t lead to the end results, is one of the most common hazards that individuals, teams and organizations face. Measure the activities that matter most.


  1. Take inventory of your hazards by asking “Which hazards am I experiencing?
  2. Next, list the hazards you can avoid.

To receive a free chapter of Ignite Your Selling Potential, go to, and scroll down to enter your contact information.  You can Ignite your Potential today!

Susan Lund is an international speaker, consultant, coach and author, to learn more, contact Susan at

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by Leigh Bailey, The Bailey Group

“I’m exhausted.” Several times recently, CEOs who are leading organizational transformation have made this comment during our CEO advisory session.

On one hand, this is easy to understand. Issues and opportunities seem to come at the CEO from every direction. Focus and prioritization can feel impossible.

That said, when a CEO tells me she is exhausted, I suspect it is a sign of a deeper issue. It suggests that the CEO is taking on too much of the burden for both strategy and execution. No CEO, regardless of how competent and committed, can carry this double responsibility for long.

Most often, the root cause of the problem is with the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) and the CEO’s leadership of the ELT. Specifically:

  • The ELT is not aligned with the CEO and this is reflected in a lack of urgency around execution
  • One or more ELT members is incompetent and the CEO is unwilling to address the unacceptable performance
  • The CEO is leading more like a COO than CEO

When a CEO is leading like a COO, exhaustion is inevitable because she is actually doing two jobs. A CEO is leading like a COO when, instead of holding ELT members accountable, he “holds their hands.” Handholding looks like having meetings to talk about the need for more urgency instead of holding ELT members accountable for meeting (or not meeting) deadlines. It looks like having to ask an executive three times to complete a project and not providing any consequences when it is still not done. It looks like talking for a year about the ELT’s inability to collaborate cross-functionally and the silos still being “alive and well.”

To lead like a CEO means to hold the team and individual ELT members accountable for goals and deadlines and to be relentless in making changes in leadership when necessary. This is not easy, but in the end the result is a high-functioning ELT that is fiercely committed and becomes an asset rather than an anchor.

If you are exhausted and think you might be leading like a COO rather than a CEO, call The Bailey Group and ask to speak with a CEO Advisor. Together, we will get to the root cause and make sure you are doing the job you were hired to do: CEO.

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by Frank Sonnenberg

Does any of this waste sound familiar?

  1. Moving papers from one pile to another.
  2. Spending an hour to save a dollar.
  3. Hearing without listening.
  4. Requesting advice with no intention of acting on it.
  5. Starting many things without finishing anything.
  6. Looking over people’s shoulders.
  7. Complaining without offering a solution.
  8. Creating a temporary fix rather than addressing the root cause.
  9. Wading through red tape.

10.Repeating the same mistakes over and over and over.

11.Indecision. (So much for haste makes waste.)

12.Generating great ideas that collect dust on the shelf.

13.Criticizing instead of giving feedback.

14.Attacking the person rather than debating the issue.

15.Creating rules without insisting that they be followed.

16.Worrying about the future or dwelling in the past.

17.Saying “maybe” when you really want to say “no.”

18.Requesting reports with no intention of reviewing them.

19.Failing to address small problems before they become BIG ones.

20.Following outdated policies.

21.Making people jump through hoops — to show them who’s boss.

22.Starving a winning project because you’re funding a losing one.

23.Working at cross-purposes.

24.Talking behind someone’s back.

25.Meetings without agendas.


27.Envy. (What a waste.)

28.Twenty layers of approvals.

29.Passing the buck.

30.Micromanaging talented people.

31.Casting blame.

32.Looking for misplaced things (every day).

33.Failing to address bad habits.

34.Feeling sorry for yourself.

35.Trying to control the uncontrollable.


37.Covering up the truth.

38.Reinventing the wheel.

39.Plotting to gain the upper hand.

40.Dreaming without doing.

41.Gathering facts, then ignoring them.

42.Holding a grudge.

43.Needing to be right (all the time).

44.Demanding obedience rather than securing buy-in.

45.Making excuses.

46.Doing it over rather than doing it right the first time.

47.Keeping busy for the sake of keeping busy.

48.Promoting yourself instead of getting the job done.

49.Striving for perfection rather than excellence.

50.Underestimating the value of trust.

How Much Waste Can You Spot In Your Life?

If you like this as a poster, download it for free

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by Bob Buford and Ken Blanchard

What would you like to accomplish in the second half of your life? What do you value most? Here are some helpful tips for shifting into a successful second half.

There’s a seismic shift happening across the land as the workforce ages. Today, there are almost 4 million more workers aged 60 to 64 than there were in 2005. There are also many fewer Americans age 20 to 55 working today than in 2005. As of the third quarter of 2015, fully a third of America’s workers are over age 50, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and employees over age 65 outnumber teenage workers.

This regular column is about how to figure out what’s next for those of you who are about to leap into the abyss of retirement, and how to use those years in the most productive way possible.

Our friend Peter Drucker had a wise saying, among his many: “Nothing happens by accident. Put some structure on it.”

It is easy to think that things just happen, isn’t it? It is especially easy to believe that if you have always been successful in life. At some point, as you pick up momentum in your career, it all gets easier, and it’s understandable in a way that we would think that our second half would just magically happen.

But if you want to leave a legacy and do something significant with the next phase of your life, all of the evidence says that you have to plan and you have to put some structure on it. As usual, Peter was right.

Great leaders bring two vital ingredients to their organizations: vision and values. As it turns out, those two items are also critical to figuring out what’s next for you as an individual. If you have led a great organization or even been a part of one, you know how powerful these two ingredients can be.

So, cast a vision for yourself with the same enthusiasm and vigor that you do when casting the vision for your organization. Spend time working through and thinking about it. What would you like to accomplish in your second half? What do you value most? Then, with the answer firmly in mind, get started.

To help you as you begin this journey, here are some tips that the coaches at the Halftime Institute have found to be very effective. These and other helpful advice can also be found in the bookHalftime: Moving from Success to Significance, which offers the following useful tips:

Halftime Tips

  1. Delegate — at work, play, and home. You cannot do everything and shouldn’t try. This becomes especially important for those whose second half involves keeping their present job but doing it at “half speed.” Work smarter, not harder.
  2. Do what you do best and drop the rest. Go with your strengths. Period.
  3. Know when to say no. The more successful you are, the more you will be asked to help others. Don’t let others talk you into doing something you don’t want to do or don’t have time to do; it will become a chore. You want to pursue your mission, not someone else’s.
  4. Set limits. If you currently keep an average of four appointments a day, cut back to two or three. If you normally stay an hour after work, go home on time. If you take 12 business trips a year, cut back to six or eight. Reallocate time to your mission and your core issues.
  5. Protect your personal time by putting it on your calendar. Start your day slowly. It is much easier to maintain control over your life if you have regular quiet time. Leave time for absolute silence, for deliberately looking at your life to see that it is in balance.
  6. Work with people you like. Karol Emmerich, who quit several years ago as treasurer of Dayton-Hudson, says, “I want to find all the people I like being with and find some beneficial work we can do together. In my second half, I want to work with people who add energy to life, not with those who take energy away.” Good advice.
  7. Set timetables. Your mission is important and therefore deserving of your attention and care. If you do not put your second-half dreams on a timetable, they will quickly become unfulfilled wishes.
  8. Downsize. When Thoreau moved into a cabin on Walden Pond, he lightened up on the nonessentials in his life. Think about all the time and energy that are drained by owning a boat, a cottage, a second or third car, or a country club membership. None of these things are bad by themselves and are, in fact, designed to provide some fun in your life, but they can very easily become master controllers. Bottom line: If they stand between you and regaining control of your life, get rid of them.
  9. Play around a little. Not in the sense that would get you in trouble, but as a way to keep a handle on who’s in charge. There is something about skipping out of work to catch a baseball game in the middle of the week or taking your spouse to a movie instead of attending a committee meeting that reminds you who is calling the shots. Play ought to be a big second-half activity, not so much in terms of time spent, but in importance.
  10. Take the phone off the hook. Not literally (at least not all the time), but learn how to hide gracefully. Use voicemail. Learn to be less reactive. Voicemail lets you control who you talk to and when. Cell phones are great because you can call someone when you need to, then shut off the phone and ride in wondrous silence. Unless you’re a brain surgeon on twenty-four-hour call, it’s probably not necessary to let people know where you are all the time.
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By Seth Godin

“Across our 100 locations, sales on average are up 3% last month.”

This tells you exactly nothing.

It turns out that ten of the outlets each saw their sales double, while most of the other ones are stagnating or even decreasing in sales. That’s the insight.

Averages almost always hide insights instead of exposing them. If the problem is interesting enough to talk about, it’s interesting enough to show the true groupings and differences that the average is hiding.

Here’s what’s worth discussing instead: What are the outliers? What do they have in common? Are there explainable trends, or is there merely noise?

The hard part about telling the truth with numbers often isn’t finding the truth. It’s having the guts to share the truth.

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This is The Worst Compensation Plan Ever, But Don’t Change It!

By Gary Braun, Pivotal Advisors

Incentive/Commission plans are a funny thing.  Many companies revise their plans every year.  Some companies do it more often (the record, I heard, was 7 times in 2 years) and some other companies never touch it.  They use the same plan that has been there for years.  The one constant we see with incentive plans is that reps HATE it when you change them.  Every time the new plans gets rolled out, most reps respond with “management is trying to cheat me” or “they are just trying to figure out how to pay me less.”  That happens for the first few months of the new plan.  This is where it gets funny.   At the end of the year, these same reps start lobbying for reasons NOT to change the plan.  Why is that?  That’s easy.  They figured out how to work the plan to their advantage.  So is the ongoing cycle with incentive plans.

So why is this a barrier to growth?  The short answer is that we find many companies that have incentive plans that are not aligned with what the company is trying to achieve.  For example, we have come across several companies that tell us that they are going to achieve growth by adding x number of new clients this year or $y in revenue from new clients.  They tell us they have goals established for this and they track it every month.  However, their sales reps are not hitting those goals and they don’t understand why.

When we look at the incentive plan we find that all sales are paid the same.  If I sell a $10,000 deal to an existing client, I make the same as if I sold a $10,000 to a new client.  Selling to existing clients is easier, so the reps gravitate to those sales.  Selling to new clients is harder and takes longer and that delays their commission.  Why would they do that?  This is a clear misalignment of strategy and incentive and it happens all the time.

Another common example of misalignment we see is incentive plans that pay on total revenue, but the rep has control over pricing.  For example, Rep A sells a $10,000 deal to his customer but discounts it 10%.  He still gets paid his x% on $10K whether he keeps value in the deal and avoids the discount or if he gives away margin and the company takes a haircut.

We recommend evaluating your incentive plan every year.  Determine whether it is truly achieving the things you want it to achieve.  Does your corporate strategy call for you to land new clients, sell a new product or service, expand into new geographies, or get growth from the existing customer base.   If so, align the pay system to those goals.   Reward for achieving company goals.  Don’t just pay on sales in general.   Then model out your new plan.  What would happen if somebody landed a couple of big deals?  Calculate the result and determine whether you are comfortable with the result.  Do the same modeling if you lose a big customer.

The bottom line is that you want your sales people paid for doing the things that the company is trying to achieve.  This is one area that deserves attention every year.

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by Matt Norman, Dale Carnegie

Three guys walked into a bar: a partner from a well-respected accounting firm, the general manager of a local retail store, and me.

When the partner complained to the general manager, “It seems like your store never has my size,” the general manager responded to the criticism.

And it was fascinating to see how that response impacted the general manager’s credibility.

Perhaps the next time you get criticism, you will have this same credibility-defining opportunity.

What went through the general manager’s head when he heard that criticism and responded with an explanation? I imagine several questions immediately came to mind:

Is this true?

Is this acceptable?

How do I explain?

Notice that these questions are all an attempt to solve and fix the situation in order to reduce the discomfort of the complainer and that of the person fielding the complaint. But is this the best way?

In my last post, we looked at how important it is for anyone who is consulting with others to be a “facilitator,” someone who guides connections rather than directs outcomes. So let’s look at how a facilitator—rather than a fixer—would respond to this complaint:

Align. Due to the emotional tension exchanged in a complaint, your first response should be emotional in nature. For example, recently, a colleague and I worked on a complex project that spanned several weeks. Just prior to a major presentation on our status, he complained that our key points in the presentation were too difficult to understand. I wanted to argue with him or eliminate these key points to end the argument, but I resisted and instead started with, “Clarity and comprehension from the audience is very important. Tell me more about what you’re thinking.” It was an affirmation—not of the validity of his perspective, but of the value of his perspective. 
Back in the bar, the general manager could have started by saying, “Thanks for telling me. It’s important that we have a good distribution of sizes in stock.”

Expand. Fixing and solving usually narrows and confines a dialogue. Facilitating usually broadens and deepens the conversation. Sure, in some circumstances, efficiency is the highest priority. But typically, the most important outcome is less about curing the complaint and more about strengthening the relationship between the complainer and the person or brand under attack. To deepen the conversation, the general manager could have asked questions like, “Tell me more about what you’ve noticed in our store?” and “What are your expectations for size availability?”

Respond. Finally, your objective should be to respond thoughtfully rather than to react hastily. Usually, a response to a complaint includes three steps—point out something positive, acknowledge reality, and make a forward-looking statement. For instance, the general manager could have said: “(1) I’m glad you’ve mentioned this to me.” “(2) I’m afraid that we have been low on inventory lately.” “(3) I’m going to call our buyer tomorrow and talk about our forecasting process so that you don’t have to have this frustration in the future.”

What’s a complaint that you’ve gotten recently, get frequently, or expect to get soon, and how can you facilitate like a consultant rather than fix like a solver?

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