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What your inability to be ON TIME says about you

A long day for me, today – 10 Executive Coaching sessions on the telephone, with the first beginning at 5:30 a.m. local time. The sessions are scheduled for half an hour each, and booked 45 minutes apart to allow for conversations that just don’t end on time.

Fully half of today’s sessions began late.

And this was after the sessions were booked, added to Outlook calendars, and confirmed.

There were good reasons: “I’m in a meeting with my boss, can I be 15 minutes late?” texted to me in a rush. “I’m on a call with a prospect” (the only legitimate reason for a business development person to be late in meeting with me!). “I have such a cold!”

But the bottom line is … the sessions started late. And the time goes so fast, people often express chagrin that we need to come to closure because the time is up, and another caller is due to phone in.

It’s not about me. I don’t take it personally. And I know that there are cultural differences in some parts of the world that say that an hour late is practically the same as on time.

I’m just a supplier of services, so perhaps that puts me in line for some abuse – but what about these people’s clients and prospects? Are they any more on time with them than they are with me? And is that important?

I’ve read some data that interest in people being on time skews old: it’s the older folks who care. But I know 20-somethings who are pretty tightly scheduled, too, and I’m guessing that they appreciate your being on time just as much as those of us with a few more years of experience.

It’s an element of professionalism. As casual as you may be in your private life, in business you’re talking about people’s livelihoods and what is probably their most precious commodity: time. (I often get the argument that, in business, money is the most precious commodity, but I disagree: if I have more time, I can make more money!)

In his recent, excellent book 18 Minutes:  Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done author Peter Bregman writes, “People want to hire energized people who are passionate and excited about what they’re doing. Jobs come from being engaged in the world and building human connections.” 

That statement applies to people seeking to sell their services just as much as it does to those seeking full-time employment. And my experience of those who are late, rushed, dropping balls all around them is that they’re not energized, they’re apologetic. They’re not passionate so much as they’re pressed and stressed. They’re less engaged in the world than they would otherwise be because they’re off-track. And their human connections suffer as a result, as do their business development results.

Corporate culture differences, you say? No one’s on time around here? I’d ask how you feel when you’re ready for an appointment and the person with whom you’re scheduled to speak is unavailable. As you sit there, waiting for their arrival, or their Skype, or their phone call, does that create good feeling? Or do you feel disrespected?

Don’t dis your prospects, your colleagues, your family. It erodes the personal relationships on which your future happiness and success will be based.

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Using Email When You Should Be Speaking?

Email – a great means of keeping in touch with your colleagues, and for routine communication with your customers.

Email for keeping in touch with people whom you would like to have as customers – or customers who aren’t happy—not so good.

If you’re building trust and a relationship, email is of marginal value. (I don’t feel I have a relationship with a Nigerian prince who just needs my help to get money out of his country. Do you?) And if you’re trying to right a perceived wrong, email is less effective than a personal connection.

The problem: email is getting used for ALL KINDS of communication now, including communication with prospects, and in delicate client-care situations. If you’re addicted to email as the answer to every communication need, stop a moment and ask yourself if your addiction is hurting your relationships.

Sometimes I get the sense that people would prefer not to deal with humans – so they put out one-way email messages to make their points and then return to the sanctuary of their computer screens, rather than getting involved in the messy business of dealing with other people.

To quote a polarizing American media figure, “So, how’s that workin’ for ya?”

What we know is that some people refuse to communicate through any means other than email. For those people, your email communication is appropriate.

For everyone else, though, take a moment to think before you click “New” and start typing. Is this a prospect who hasn’t yet decided whether to trust you? If so, can you meet briefly in person, or, at the very least, pick up the phone?

If you leave a caring voicemail, and offer something compelling in that voicemail to encourage the person to return your call, the voicemail itself is closer to a personal touch than the email.

Keep in mind the very high proportion of customers who list themselves as “Satisfied”, but then change suppliers. Give your customers the personal touch, too, whenever you can, but especially when they are less than delighted.

We know that time spent face-to-face and phone-to-phone (F2F and P2P) with prospects is strongly positively correlated with success in selling. I suspect the same is true in caring for clients.

I’ve seen no data about a correlation between E2E communication and selling success. And I, for one, don’t feel particularly cared for when a supplier of services emails me a response to a complaint!

The next time you need to communicate with prospects or customers, move away from the mouse and pick up the phone. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.


Lenann McGookey Gardner, CSP, is a Harvard MBA and a seasoned industry executive. She works with professionals in accounting, consulting, research, consumer products, telecommunications, banking and technology industries.  An international speaker, she is the author of Got Sales:  The Complete Guide to Today’s Proven Methods for Selling Services, which was nominated for the Axiom Business Book Award as the best sales book of the year. Profiled in Who’s Who in America every year since 2004, she serves as an executive coach to professionals around the world. Visit her websites: http://YouCanSell.com and http://YouCanLeadCoaching.com.

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Are You Avoiding Confrontation?

I think there’s a trend … a trend toward avoiding confrontation. All the time. At all costs. No matter what’s at stake.

And it’s starting to concern me!

It’s not that confrontation is a good thing – too much of it, and life gets very tense.

But it’s important that, when the situation warrants it, we be able to confront the person who’s about to make a major mistake, or the person who’s not aware of the impact of what he or she did, or the person who’s pushed you too hard too many times.

When you avoid confrontation all the time, you never speak up for yourself and things are unlikely to get better. I think other people realize that you’d rather put up with what they’re dishing out than assert yourself – so they go ahead and walk on you!

Right now there is an epidemic of people who hate confrontation. So they do just about anything to avoid it, including burying their personalities, and their points of view. And when they do THAT, over time, the world gets to be a worse place, and I have to believe they get frustrated!

Really, what’s the worst that could happen? That the person confronted pushes back at you? And you fold like a house of cards? Seriously?

I wonder if the problem is that your thoughts aren’t clear. Are you afraid you can’t articulate a point of view? Remember, just because you see a gray area – that there’s no absolute right or wrong in a situation you’re facing – doesn’t mean that you should stifle all your thoughts!

It’s important to see the ability to confront another person as one of the tools you have available to you. It enables you to have courage in your convictions and speak up, to take your best shot at being heard, and having your point of view taken into consideration. 

There’s nothing wrong with rearing back on your hind legs, from time to time, and taking a position, stating it clearly, and letting the chips fall where they may. But my experience of working with those now in their 20s … and even some in their 30s … is that they are exhibiting the least ability to confront of any generation. So, as a consequence, they’re not closing sales, getting raises, or negotiating for what they want very well at all.

How is confrontation a part of selling? Well, suppose you’re told “no,” your prospect isn’t going to buy. Yet, he or she earlier admitted having a problem, or an unfulfilled aspiration, in exactly the area where you work.

Wouldn’t it make sense to say, “Fred, I hear you saying that we’re not going to work together. At the same time, you’ve told me (whatever the pain is). Help me reconcile those two: you don’t want to work with me, when my work fixes (or significantly improves) situations like that. What am I missing here?”

And how is confrontation a part of getting a raise? You have to bring it up! It’s unlikely that your boss is going to come to you and say, “We really need to talk about raising your pay.”

It’s up to you to say, “I think we should have a conversation about my progress, and my compensation, boss. When’s best for you to do that?” And yes, when you say that, you run the risk that your boss will say, “There’s not going to be a discussion about your pay!”

At that point, you have a pretty good idea that, if you can’t be happy with your current income, you’re going to have to look for other employment. And, if your pay is inadequate, that’s a great thing to know.

And how is confrontation a part of negotiating for what you want? In negotiation, you try to determine what the other person wants, and what he or she may be willing to give up in order to get what they want. Then you look at what YOU want, and what you would be willing to give up to get that.

Then you try to carve a compromise that gives the other person a good portion of what he or she wants, while also giving you a good part of what you had in mind.

To get there, you have to be pretty clear: “Mary, it sounds as if you’re saying X or Y is possible, but you’re not willing to consider Z.” That’s confrontational, summarizing all that they’ve said into a couple of points – and you run the risk that you’ll hear, “That is NOT what I said!”

But before you can offer a concession along the way to coming to a favorable compromise, you pretty much have to get clear on what the other person wants and might be willing to give up, and put that out on the table directly. And you have to be prepared for your negotiating partner to radically disagree with your assessment of the situation.

I’m not sure what the problem with confrontation is. Are we afraid we can’t handle any anger on the part of the other person? Or that we can’t handle OUR OWN ANGER? Are we afraid we won’t be able to take any pressure? Or that if we try confronting, other people will take an aggressive tack with us, and we’ll lose the ensuing fight? Are we just weak?

If you’ve caught yourself carefully avoiding confronting even people who deserve it in situations that can make a big difference for you in your quality of life, or the thickness of your wallet, you may want to reassess.

There used to be a dialogue about assertiveness: the willingness to assert one’s own ideas, even in the face of another person’s differing point of view. Being assertive – that is, inclined toward bold or confident assertion of one’s self or one’s point of view – is a better approach than fearing confrontation.

And while it doesn’t mean that you’re unable to hear and respect another’s point of view, it is based on your firm belief that your views are worth consideration, too.


Lenann McGookey Gardner, CSP, is a Harvard MBA and a seasoned industry executive. She works with professionals in accounting, consulting, research, consumer products, telecommunications, banking and technology industries.  An international speaker, she is the author of Got Sales:  The Complete Guide to Today’s Proven Methods for Selling Services, which was nominated for the Axiom Business Book Award as the best sales book of the year. Profiled in Who’s Who in America every year since 2004, she serves as an executive coach to professionals around the world. Visit her websites: http://YouCanSell.com and http://YouCanLeadCoaching.com.

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Are You Tapping into All Four Separate Sources of Energy?

In their excellent book The Power of Full Engagement, authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz write, “Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.”

If you have leadership responsibility, you probably long ago realized that your success hinges on having the energy to do all that you’d like to do.

But as an Executive Coach, I’ve learned that many business professionals have NO balance in those basic forms of energy. They’re mostly using their mental energy all week – maybe the physical on the weekend – and they’re emotionally shot. Spiritually? There’s not much of the spiritual in their lives.

People often ask me, “Where do you get your energy?” I’d say a lot of it comes from striving for a decent balance among those four, at least a good part of the time. Might it help you to have such a balance, too?

If you’re worn out, ask yourself if you’re all about mental energy. Are you just thinking all the time, rushing from mental challenge to mental challenge without balancing that out by challenging your body physically? Have you taken the time to seriously engage your emotions with family or friends? Can you take some time to do something that satisfies the spiritual aspect of yourself, such as weekly worship or volunteering for a worthy cause?

If you’re telling yourself you’re too busy to think about the physical, the emotional, or the spiritual, perhaps you’re seeing this in a way that’s not valid. Is it possible that, if you freed up a little time for those essential activities, you’d be mentally renewed, sharper, more focused, and able to get more done while being a bit happier?

To do that, though, you’d have to stop working, put one foot in front of the other, and do something other than the next thing on your To Do list. No one’s brain should be pushed to be productive all the time. I wish you balance and more energy in your future!

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Dr. Ann Speed
Cognitive Psychologist, Sandia National Laboratories

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“Observing the positive effects of Lenann's executive coaching with a colleague, I reached out. I was impressed after our first conversation with how well she listened -- not just to the concept I was trying to convey, but also the words I chose to describe situations. As she reflected those words back to me with insightful questioning, I began to fundamentally understand myself better and what communication tools were needed to be more effective in management and leadership. What reinforced my learnings from our sessions further were the reflections and readings after our sessions. As Lenann heard about my interest in analytics she provided me with a very detailed overview of specific degree programs that were exactly what I was interested in pursuing. This again is evidence of how carefully and deliberately Lenann listens and invests in her clients. Furthermore, dedicated to her clients, Lenann was extremely responsive and always available. I have benefitted immensely from my time with Lenann and recommend her highly for anyone who finds themselves wondering how they can grow or improve themselves professionally. I use the tools and techniques I developed with Lenann's assistance regularly. My only regret is that I could have met Lenann sooner!”

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Senior Regional Medical Director, Molina Healthcare (a Fortune 500 company)

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Igor Rodin
(Former) Vice Chairman, Deloitte Central Europe

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“Closed 5 deals last week!! Thanks, Lenann, for your support, guidance and belief. The Game On Sales Coaching program we are doing with you keeps me sharp on the follow ups, value estimation and most importantly the closing rates!”

Jase P. Choenni
Head of Sales & Marketing, TMF GROUP BRAZIL

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I was amazed at how perceptive Lenann is about issues (both personal and professional) that were impediments to my reaching sales goals. She helped me to understand that selling is first understanding the client's frame of reference, positioning through powerful, provocative statements, and a process of gaining agreement to next steps. Lenann demonstrated specifically how this is done in both verbal and written communications. In our consulting session, she distilled all the latest research and what's working in today's environment. What she taught me should become basic to my approach with all prospective clients. Lenann is brilliant, enthusiastic, and above all, very personable. The experience of working with Lenann was surprisingly pleasant, and gave me the confidence that I could also improve my selling abilities by following her recommendations. She is truly inspirational. I look forward to continuing my work with Lenann.”

Lisa
Wealth Management Professional, Major Financial Institution

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“The Coaching I received from Lenann was invaluable to me. My takeaways included: Learning how to understand your client as opposed to 'knowing your client' – this has made me a far better listener and more empathetic to my clients' REAL needs; Being the 'trusted advisor' as opposed to a service provider – I had an interesting experience that I would like to share with you. I was asked by a potential client to assist with a matter that I knew we did not have the 'firepower' to assist them with. In the profession, it is unheard of to admit that your competitors are ahead of you but I tried it with the client and it worked. Today, he FIRST talks to me about any assistance that he may need and does not even ask for competitor bids; Handling difficult clients. Lenann has been a great help in honing my skills in this area. I have found myself more prepared to 'walk the road' during the client's time of difficulty than before. In my business, we are supposed to be transaction-oriented since we deal with clients on a project-by-project basis. However, where I have invested the time to deal with a client's unhappiness instead of handing the matter over to my colleagues, to my surprise, the client has 'come around' to even admitting that his/her organization was the place where the fault lies – that is a major 'coup' for us since it is very seldom that a client does that. We have managed to build a sustainable business (revenues and earnings is way up on last years' and, most importantly, we have built an impressive team) under fairly trying circumstances – Lenann has played a role in enabling me to do this.”

Neven Hendricks
(Former) Partner Deloitte, United Arab Emirates

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Here are some key things I learned from working with Lenann: 1. I like the concept of a “Challenger Salesperson.” The more interesting, engaging and informative we can be in a useful way to the client, the better. 2. I don’t spend as much time selling as I think I do. 3. The way people do business continues to change and evolve – and I have to keep my selling skills current to keep up with those changes. 4. Treat others the way they want to be treated (not necessarily how I would want to be treated if I were them). A big company we haven’t done meaningful business with in about 5 years is about to come back in a very meaningful and multi-million dollar way…”

Russ Conser
Key Account Manager, Oberthur Technologies

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“Lenann, you've been great, as always. You put me in the right direction every time we speak - you tell me to focus on the right stuff and 'build it right.' Thanks!”

Scott Price
Regional Director - Americas, Custom House Fund Services, Chicago

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann has been my coach for over 8 years now. The coaching conversations we have are worthwhile because they give me the opportunity to speak freely and honestly about the leadership challenges I am facing without fear of retaliation or negative thoughts from superiors within my organization. Her advice has often put me back on track to achieve my goals and career ambitions. The focus and accountability she provides has been extremely valuable for my success and advancement. Another unique aspect of Lenann’s coaching for me has been the female role model perspective. There are very few women throughout my career who have advanced their careers as far as Lenann has. The respect I have for her as a role model and as a professional businesswoman with a family has given me hope that I can do it all, too!”

Tina Sampson
(Former) Vice President Sales and Marketing, Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I am glad that, in addition to our Sales Training, I chose to have you sit down, one-to-one, with four of our key people. The observations you sent me about each of them are perfect and helpful, especially in cases and/or aspects which I could not put in words before, but had a feeling about.

Two of the professionals with whom you spoke continue to develop well, they are thoughtful, have considered the feedback received, and learned from it. Both have sold new engagements for us, and they are going out to sell more and more. It is nice to see how their level of confidence has increased!

Thank you again for helping me in this matter.”

Julia Varga
(Former) Managing Director, TMF Group, Hungary

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“The coaching I had with Lenann is paying off in SPADES. I’m pulling in money for other people, now. Recently I spent two hours with a prospective funder (who approached me), and followed Lenann’s selling approach (i.e., we took NO slides to the meeting and let the customer talk 95% of the time, only talking to ask questions – not to tell the customer anything about what we do). At the end of that time, I said, ‘What’s the next step?’, and the customer replied, ‘How do we send you money?’ You have to know how to conduct a conversation to make that happen – it’s 95% listening (literally!), 4% asking questions, and only 1% discussion about your content and capabilities.”

Dr. Ann Speed
PMTS, Sandia National Laboratories

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann is a very accomplished and experienced Coach, who builds her advice and coaching based on her own Executive experience. She understands the daily pressure of high level executives and through her advice is an excellent catalyst for increased productivity of her client – ultimately to the benefit of the company. She provides real value for the money, and I would any day again participate in a coaching program with Lenann given the chance.”

Claus Vorreiter Jensen
Chief Commercial Officer, Svendborg Brakes, Denmark

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann, your influence has been so positive for my career! I will never forget you. I keep close to my heart people that contribute to my growth, and you have definitely been part of my growth professionally. I hope we can always keep in touch.”

Elena Montiel
(Former) Executive of Global Business Development, TMF USA, Inc., Miami

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“Lenann was terrific! After her ‘Trust and Respect in the Workplace’ learning experience, we had the most absolute pleasant best day at work in a very long time!”

Ellen Diamond
Mark Diamond's Jewelers, Albuquerque

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Thank you for your Sales and Closing Skills Class and follow-up program for our global team. I appreciate your response to my request for your thoughts on the

  • Selling Strengths you observed on our team
  • Selling Weaknesses you observed on our team
  • Leadership Strengths you observed on our team
  • Leadership Weaknesses you observed on our team
  • Implications of all of the above for the future of our firm, and recommendations.

I found your 5-page analysis to be succinct and immediately useful and I’ve applied the lessons there. Very valuable input!”

Koen van Weezel
(Former) Group Director, Global Sales & Marketing, TMF Group, The Netherlands

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“My prospect chose to invest $2 million today – and I say ‘Thank YOU a million, Lenann!’ I couldn’t have done it without your good sales coaching yesterday! This was especially sweet because the client had expressed an interest in a discounted up-front fee, had access to plenty of managers who don't charge those fees, and yet when I took the approach you recommended, the fee wasn’t a problem. I could not have gotten that result without your guidance, Lenann.”

Lisa
Wealth Management Professional, Major Global Financial Institution

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann is absolutely the best there is! I've heard Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, all the gurus, but I felt 'Yeah, I've heard all this before.' Lenann changes people's lives – the way they work, think and are motivated. She makes a very real, and quite incredible, difference!”

Patti Roland
(Former) Vice President Sales & Marketing, Stonebridge Homes

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“My Executive Coaching experience with Lenann has helped me considerably. My judgment of the value of Lenann’s Coaching can best be seen in the fact that I have encouraged other members of my staff to work with her, and they have. I have seen improvement in them as well! I particularly appreciate all the ‘homework’ Lenann had me complete to get me to look at my leadership behaviors, and see ways in which I can improve. I find myself sharing materials Lenann gives me with members of my senior staff, so the learning is shared in our organization. Lenann is always the first person I mention when others ask about Coaching.”

Patty Kehoe
CEO, Molina Healthcare of NM (a Fortune 500 company)

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann, I am proud to say that our volume is up – this is very, very positive. And the growth is interesting; there are no signs of slowing down in the trend of huge sales increases we have seen. The key executive whom you are coaching is making strong progress! Thank you for the monthly Coaching Report you provide – it is an extremely useful, clear picture of where we are.
Looking forward to continuing to work with you”

Roberto Schianchi
Chief Executive Officer, ZOBELE HOLDING S.P.A

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I enjoyed Sales Coaching with Lenann so much! Lenann is very good at assessing the situation -- with a couple of simple questions she gets to the bottom of things. The one-on-one nature of Lenann’s Coaching means there’s no way you can hide (as can happen in a classroom). I was continually intrigued by Lenann’s questions and constant feedback on performance…”

Wouter Plantenga
Senior VP, Head of International Structuring Americas, TMF USA, Inc., New York

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“(Lenann’s) coaching activities are very thorough, and are a part of a modern approach which makes a lot of sense. Our sales team had a great performance in this month, and I am convinced that Lenann’s (coaching) had a big influence on this result.”

Thierry Montfort
(Former) President and CEO, Heel USA

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I feel very good about the coaching that you provided to a professional on our team. Your coaching made a critical difference. His performance was much improved after his session with you. In fact, it contributed substantially to our success last year. Thank you!”

Dr. Will Swearingen
Executive Director, TechLink

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I attribute, easily, $10 MILLION in sales directly to learning with, and coaching from, Lenann.”

Mark Walton
(Former) Partner and Global Head of Operations Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers, London

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I worked with Lenann about 5 years ago. Just this month, I once again applied what she taught me, and closed 4 of 5 proposals – over $300,000! Lenann Gardner is a combination of blazing intelligence and electrifying enthusiasm!”

Pat Davis
Vice President and Director of Consulting Services, Marketing Insights Practice, KantarHealth

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“The demands on consultants these days are immense and it's so easy to end up in a 'feast or famine' situation. When you're working an engagement with a client, it can become all encompassing. I am happy to serve as a reference for Lenann McGookey Gardner, who helped me with a Coaching program. Lenann has a very engaging personality, a person never to be forgotten. I consider the materials Lenann provided to be very useful. Most of all, Lenann's advice and tips are straightforward and readily implementable when you're engaged in demanding client engagements.”

John Corr
Director AlixPartners (A global firm of senior business and consulting professionals), Somerset, United Kingdom

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