Vol. 10, No. 14 – Oct. 11, 2010

October 11, 2010


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information
for managers, leaders and entrepreneurs

1. How To Manage A One-Person Sales Force

Entrepreneurs often find themselves CEO and sole salesperson. On Inc. com, Donna Fenn compiles advice for when your sales force is an army of one — just you:

  • Manage your time religiously: Block out your time carefully, to cover both your roles. Jan Sterling, CEO of marketing company Red Thinking, sets aside an hour to write a proposal as soon as she schedules a prospect meeting.
  • Sell your new product or service, not your company: Since it’s your own company, you may be over-eager to tell its story to potential clients. But they aren’t investors, so skip the company story and tell them why they need your product or service.
  • Don’t neglect existing clients: Your existing clients are your best source of additional revenue, so don’t get so wrapped up in pursuing new prospects that you forget client needs.
  • Take advantage of the simplified feedback loop: There’s nobody between you and your clients — as there will be when your company grows larger — so don’t squander the opportunity to get direct feedback on your product or service.
  • Reduce your travel: Travelling sucks away a huge amount of time. While some prospects will demand your presence for an initial pitch, others will gladly settle for alternatives.
  • Hold yourself accountable: A salesperson would be accountable to you. Make sure you hold yourself accountable as well. Don’t become slipshod in your marketing approaches. Document the sales process so you’ll be able to pass that on to your sales successor.

2. Are You A Good Listener?

Listening is a vital work skill. It opens you up to learning. It helps forge strong relationships. But too often we’re so caught up in ourselves, we fail to properly listen.

On his blog, Bryant University Professor Michael Roberto suggests you ask yourself the following eight questions:

  • Do you avoid eye contact when others are speaking to you?
  • Do you multi-task during meetings?
  • Do you interrupt often when others are talking?
  • Do you rarely pause to solicit feedback or questions while you are speaking?
  • Do you become easily distracted when others are presenting their ideas?
  • Do you engage in side conversations on a regular basis during meetings?
  • Do you provide many more answers than questions during group discussions?
  • Do you rarely rephrase people’s statements and confirm your interpretation?

Beyond those, he adds: Do you begin to formulate your response before someone has finished making their point? “We all do it, of course. It’s quite natural. However, we need to be mindful that thinking ahead in this fashion probably means we are missing some critical elements of what a colleague is trying to communicate to us,” he writes.

See: http://michael-roberto.blogspot.com/2010/04/are-you-good-listener.html

3. Three Things That Sound Bad But Can Be Good

We all know that selfishness is bad. So is laziness. And ruthlessness.

But on the Positivity Blog, Henrik Edberg says that sometimes each of those could be good for you.

Take selfishness. Self-development can be selfish. “You are trying to make yourself and your life better. But the thing is that by focusing on helping yourself first you can become stronger and help others in a better way too,” he says. If you are at risk of burning out, it’s important to be selfish and take care of yourself. In time, that will pay off for those around you.

As for laziness, it pays to be lazy about stuff that is irrelevant or not all that important. He urges you to use your laziness to make things as simple as possible in your life. “Find the smartest path instead of thinking there is some reward for doing things in the most roundabout and complicated way,” he says.

Finally, he has found that a little ruthlessness can go a long way to cut out unnecessary things in his life and allow him to focus his time and energy on the truly important. Skip some social engagement, for example, or cut down on time spent watching TV.

So be selfish, lazy, and ruthless… at the right times and in the right doses.

See: http://www.positivityblog.com/index.php/2010/01/26/three-things-that-sound-bad-but-can-actually-be-good-for-you/

4. Why People Lie To You

If you’re the boss, your staff will lie to you. They will tell you what you want to hear, leadership trainer Dan Rockwell writes on his Leadership Freak blog (http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/), unless:

  • You honour those who disagree with you.
  • You give opportunities to those who think contrary to your own view.
  • You stop hanging with people who brown nose.
  • You keep asking questions that get to the bottom issues.
  • You point out inconsistencies that seem like lies.

5. Zingers

  • How to engage board members at board meetings? Julie Castro Abrams, CEO of the Women’s Initiative For Self Employment, says to make sure you put as many of their names as possible on the agenda as stewards for decisions. It shows they are needed, and encourages them to show up and take responsibility. (Source: Fast Company 30-Second MBA)
  • When setting a goal, state it with a firm “all-or-nothing” way of thinking. A soft goal isn’t a goal at all. It’s a hope. (Source: Dumb Little Man blog)
  • If you’re preparing a business plan, entrepreneur Rhonda Abrams suggests you involve a professional writer or editor so the final version you send to a potential investor is polished and well-written. (Source: The Planning Shop Newsletter)
  • Careers writer Penelope Trunk says giving flowers makes the recipients happy and so it shouldn’t be confined to outside the office. Give flowers during crunch time because flowers and plants at the workplace increase productivity. (Source: Brazen Careerist)
  • If you’re using graphs in a sales presentation that might be unfamiliar to your audience, make sure that you first explain what it is they are about to see. (Source: Dave Paradi’s PowerPoint Blog)

6. Q&A with 8020Info:
Competing Accountabilities

Question: How can you handle conflicting or competing accountabilities?

8020Info CEO Rob Wood replies:

This question came up recently at an Advisory Board meeting for a Family Health Team. The discussion involved providing the best clinical service possible while meeting accountabilities for teaching and research. For example, should a physician on an academic health team favour learning by giving her resident more opportunities to perform a service with patients? Or do it herself to minimize patient discomfort and the duration of the procedure?

In practice, finding the balance among such competing priorities are difficult.

One option is to identify a higher common goal to resolve the tradeoffs. In this case, it might be: What is in the long-term interest of the patients in our practice, or in our community? A little short-term discomfort might be for the greater good. Or not.

Beyond minimum standards for each accountability, another approach might be to reconsider the constraints. For example, many patients appreciate the value of educating the next generation of doctors and might not mind a little delay or slight discomfort in the clinical service — much the same as people who buy fair trade coffee value the philosophy as much as the coffee itself. This could resolve the tradeoff between service and education provided there are two streams, and patients have an option to receive their health care in a teaching environment or not.

A third aspect to balance involves the motivations of the individuals involved. Continuing our example, some physicians are simply more interested in research while others are natural-born educators or fascinated with clinical practice. The mix of motivations on a team will affect how competing accountabilities find a balance.

A fourth approach might involve innovation. Creatively resolving a tradeoff like quantity vs. quality (e.g. by using technology, checklists or templates, or redesigned processes) can improve both dimensions of performance. During remarks at a recent breakfast meeting, the President of Princeton University asked: Why does there have to be a tradeoff between teaching and research? Dr. Shirley Tilghman made a strong case for integrating education and research — let students perform original research as part of their academic work, combining learning with real research activities.

We tend to manage conflicting accountabilities by keeping the work in silos, but there are better solutions. They can be found by looking from a different perspective.

7. News From Our Water Cooler:
Leave A Gap In Your Storytelling

Advertising anthropologist Terry O’Reilly, author of The Age of Persuasion, recently delighted a full house at St. Lawrence College for his Kingston WritersFest talk. He’s long been known to us as a legend in the business, and his stimulating presentation prompted a visit to his website. There we found this gem from an expert copywriter:

At the core of every great story, and the element that in fact makes the story great, is what he calls the “Aha” moment.

In order to have an “Aha” moment in your ad, O’Reilly says, the story can’t be fully told. “There has to be a small gap in the storytelling. A small chasm that a listener has to fill in herself. It can’t be too big, and it can’t be so small as to be insignificant. A great ad tells the viewer a story, takes her on a journey, then just near the end, the writer stops writing. A tiny, important piece of information is held back. But when the reader gets to that gap, she finds herself saying ‘What!?! I don’t get it. I really don’t… wait… wait…AHA… I got it!’

“The reader fills in the gap herself. That ‘Aha’ moment creates impact. Stories with a perfectly situated AHA moment resonate. Long after the ad has played out.”

That’s a technique Hemingway also employed to great effect– when less is more.


8020Info helps teams develop, communicate and implement their communications, research and strategic plans more effectively. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries at (613) 542-8020, or by email at watercooler@8020info.com.

8. Closing Thought                                                                 Top

“An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson