Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sharpen Your Skills to Seize New Opportunities

Ask me what I think the #1 priority should be for any sales person or small business owner today and I will tell you it is lead generation.  Lead generation can be defined as the activities you engage in to attract new business opportunities as well as to market to your existing customers and contacts.  And a major part of lead generation is the ability to attract those new clients and prospects.

This roller coaster economy we have been on over these last few years has taught us one thing.  You need to focus on ways to sharpen your skills in order to seize opportunities.  The way we did business and certainly the way we attract business has changed.

It is true that these last few years have presented numerous challenges for us all.  Especially those of us who own a small business.  However, it is also true that these new and ever changing times has also provided us with opportunities we never dreamed possible.  In order to be a successful professional today we need to focus on a strategy, a winning strategy.

One of my winning strategies has always been to build relationships through networking.  Networking has played a major role in building successful relationships for me and I can attribute much of my former sales success and current client volume to it.  It just always made so much sense to me.  Attending the right networking event meant that someone else did all the work to put together a large group of people for me to meet and develop a connection with.  It always came easy to me.  I was comfortable with it.

However, many are not as comfortable.  Some people have much smaller comfort zones when it comes to prospecting for new business.  A large number of salespeople and small business owners are often creatures of comfort.  They find safety in their same circles of contacts.  Many are fearful of what they will hear if they step outside of that circle.  But I am here to tell you not to be afraid!   That reaching out to unknown and untapped prospects offers potential for great new success.

The only thing to fear, is fear itself.  Fear is the primary force that holds most people back from getting outside whatever comfort zone they have.  And in most cases, it is the fear of rejection that stands in the way.  That fear of rejection often becomes so strong that a new and often unconscious mindset forms to make sure we avoid situations in which a potential of rejection or failure is possible.  This is extremely limiting; a filter is created and numerous people and groups become out of reach.

So if you are happy with the business you have today and see no reason to meet new people and expand your reach; I have good news for you!  You can stop reading now.

However, if you realize that some of the things you want most are laying just outside of your comfort zone, then let's continue.

First thing I want you to do is consider your comfort zone to be flexible, expandable.  It is elastic and it is time for it to be stretched.  It is time to transform your thinking about some of the things that were once uncomfortable into something more pleasant and familiar.  And believe that in that new space lies abundant opportunities.

So remember when I said, that in creating that limiting mindset you were avoiding an entire group of people?  Well, who are these people you haven't met?  How will you identify them and make contact?

Here are some new skills to sharpen in order to seize new opportunities:

First its time for a little Q & A.  Ask yourself these important questions in order to pick your target.
1.  What problems or needs does my product or service offer solutions for?
2.  Who or what organizations can benefit from that the most?  (include demographics like age, gender, income, etc.)

Focusing on the problems you solve is critical.  All sales solutions are problem solvers.  It is important that you identify prospects based on their needs and wants.  Think outside the box and be open minded when considering new prospects.  Be careful not to filter people out too quickly too.  Especially, when you consider the people you already know.  Remember, they will want to do business with you because of the solution you offer.

Next, it is time to do your homework.  You have identified your prospects, now do your research.  Try to learn everything you can about them - how they live, work and play and especially what their core values are.  I have developed strong relationships, successful client opportunities and held numerous positions within organizations in industries I have never worked in.  Why?  Because I did my homework.  I learned so much about a particular group or industry, including how they work and think, that in time I was walking among them. 

Walking among them means that you spend time with them.  Choose to attend the networking events that will put the prospects you want to do business with right in front of you.  Take advantage of or create opportunities that will allow for direct interaction with your target audience.   Your homework time is important, but not as important as face time. This includes the events the groups hold too.  So if your target audience is the insurance industry, it is not enough to look for them at a networking mixer at the Chamber, you need to support their events and functions as well.

The last tip I have for you today is to show them what you know.  Convey to your prospect that you understand them and that you recognize their unique needs.  Position yourself as an expert, an informed resource.  This will give you credibility and powerful leverage when it comes to writing the business.

Success in business today depends on a lot of factors.  Some of which are out of your control, except for one.  And that is you!

Anna Gibbs is a certified Business Coach and Certified Life Coach.  For more information about Anna and her coaching services please visit

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What caffeine can't do for you.

Taking charge of your goals and getting "it" done takes a lot more than a positive attitude and a caramel macchiato with an extra shot of espresso.  Living the life of your dreams requires taking charge.  It means deciding what you want first; then setting SMART goals to have what you want.  The key is to find inspiration daily and identify ways to stay motivated long enough to achieve your goals.  Self-motivation doesn't come naturally to everyone.  And even those who are highly self-motivated need some extra help every now and then. 

How self motivated are you?  Are you motivated to achieve what you really want in life?  How hard do you push yourself to get things done?  We all know wanting to do something and motivating ourselves to actually do it are two very different things.  I mean come on, how many times have you told yourself you are going to keep a daily to-do list or join a gym or loose 20 pounds?  We have all been there.  What makes the difference between success at achieving our goals or not?  What's the secret for those people who seem to achieve one goal after another?  I will tell's them.  It is their self motivation. 

Self motivation is the force that keeps pushing us to go on - it's our internal drive to achieve, produce, develop and keep moving forward.  When you think you are ready to quit something, or you just don't know how to start, your self motivation is what pushes you to go on.

OK, sounds good right?  But where does your self motivation come from?  Well, that's easy.  It comes from knowing your big "why".  Why is your dream, your goal important to you?  What do you hope to gain from accomplishing that goal?  How will it impact your life?  Knowing your big why will give you the inspiration to stay motivated.  Your big why is the under laying motive for setting and accomplishing the goal.

I believe there are five factors necessary to build the strongest levels of self-motivation:
  1. Self-confidence and self-efficacy (the belief we can succeed).

  2. Positive thinking, and positive thinking about the future.

  3. Focus on our big why and strong goals.

  4. A motivating environment. 
Let's talk about self confidence for a minute.  When you develop a strong level of self confidence in yourself, you will not only believe you can succeed, but you will also recognize and enjoy the successes of your past.  That will inspire you to build on those success stories.  The powerful momentum that results is pretty hard to beat!

To develop more of your self confidence frequently remind yourself of the achievements in your life, examine your strengths in order to develop them and set achievable goals for yourself that you will achieve and enjoy achieving in the process, 

As you begin to recognize how much you've already achieved - and understand how much potential you have - you will have the confidence to set goals and achieve the things you desire.  The more you look for reasons to believe in yourself, the easier it will be to find ways to motivate yourself. 

Build your self-motivation by practicing goal-setting skills, and combining those with positive thinking, the creation of powerful visions of success, and the building of high levels of self-efficacy and self-confidence.

Your attitude and beliefs about your likelihood of success can predict whether or not you actually succeed. Set goals, and work hard to achieve them. Examine ways to improve your self-motivation, and regularly reassess your motivation levels. If you actively keep your internal motivation high, you can significantly increase the likelihood of achieving your hopes, dreams, and visions of the future.