5 Ways To Follow Up Without Being Annoying

by Per Wickstrom on April 23, 2014

Pushy Salesperson

5 Ways To Follow Up Without Being Annoying

“Too Pushy”

Salespeople get a bad reputation for being “too aggressive” and “too pushy” when they “follow up.” We’ve all experienced the moment when we told a salesman “no” only to see them look dejected, a bit desperate and even a little angry. We’ve also given in to the incessant calls and bought something against our better judgment – only to distrust salespeople after that. But these things don’t only apply to sales. People don’t really like to be harassed, harangued and pressured. They dislike and distrust the efforts of others to force them into something. But whether we are in sales or not, we’d like it if others cooperated, and in many cases it is in their best interest. Take drug abuse for example:

Life or Death

We are talking to a friend who really needs to check into rehab for a substance abuse problem. If they don’t start dealing with it, it could be too late and they could wind up hospitalized or dead. But when we bring up the subject or attempt to bridge over into it, they get defensive and try to back you off. They recoil at any attempt to “tell them what to do” or “push them in a certain direction.” Is the answer to give up? What do we do?

Whether it is sales, business, or to save a life, here are a few observations based on decades of experience in sales, business, and saving lives:

1. Rightness

People want to be “right” and in so doing they often seek to make others “wrong.” It is not necessarily rational or analytical. So trying to look on it as such (rational or analytical) will not bring much joy. The “trick” is to use two-way communication and “make the person right.” It is a subtle art. Observe something you admire or respect about the person and talk to them about it. But be real about it – false flattery or insincerity will get you nowhere. Talk with them about something you both agree upon. If you observe that person is angry most of the time, be “angry” about something right along with them. Keep engaging about things that you can agree on. Continue using two-way communication and be sure to understand and acknowledge what they tell you. Bridge it over onto the subject you wish to discuss and you should see positive results.

2. Power of Choice

You cannot deny free will – the power of choice! The power to decide for ourselves is senior to most anything else. If your “decisions” harm others you subject yourself to justice, the law, etc. But beyond that, people have the right to determine their own destiny. So when you push too hard against the power of choice, you can get recoil. Even if they reluctantly agree, you’re likely to get some backlash. The thing to do is work with the power of choice. Some of the best salesmen and businessmen I have worked with will talk to someone for a while and suddenly that person wants to buy, agrees to the terms, etc. They felt it was solely their decision even though it was someone else who planted the seed. Later on they may realize it was someone else’s idea, but they’re OK with that. That salesman or businessman successfully worked with the power of choice of that individual.

3. Individuality

Everyone is different. You must be able to respect people’s individuality. You don’t approach everyone the exact same way. Some people LOVE TO TALK and really just need a good listener. And they’ll talk your ear off. Others really want to HEAR what you have to say and they’ll listen intently. Some, on the other hand, would rather keep it very brief; they prefer the email that is short and to the point; they may only answer in one or two words; they just want the facts. It is essential to make observations about the individual and speak to their individuality.

One thing that can happen is the “personality clash”: They don’t like your accent, the way you look or the way you walk. They don’t trust anyone with green eyes. You remind them of their ex-husband or ex-wife. It could be anything, and it’s not necessarily based on anything reasonable. It’s just something in your personality that is blocking progress and probably no one on either side can even name what it is, but you must be alert for it. In these cases you may not be able to get anywhere and you have to turn it over to an associate. Don’t take it personally.

4. Help

Instead of approaching people with what YOU need or want from THEM, try finding out what THEY need or want from YOU. It is not that everyone is self-centered; it’s just that most people are pretty immersed in their own problems. If you have something to offer that will HELP them, they are more likely to get interested. Can you make their lives easier? Can you help them cope better with their problems? Some people get suspicious when you say you can help them, so be specific about it. If you are applying for a job, let them know how you can help them. If you are selling something, whether it is a car, insurance, an investment package or anything else, let the person know how it relates to them personally – and be specific. If you are trying to convince someone to enter rehab, you may have to first enlighten them on the fact that help is even possible.

5. Withdraw

Having a grasp of the above four points – rightness, power of choice, individuality, help – will assist you in your overall efforts. The next thing to know is when to withdraw after you have reached. When you reach for something, you must also know when to withdraw. If you do nothing but reach, you can create an effect wherein the other individual recoils back. It is almost like something out of physics.

The best example of this is when a person is trying to get a date with someone: The young man approaches the young woman and strikes up a conversation. He’s rather nervous and stuck in one direction. He basically has a one-track mind. The girl is mildly interested, but soon feels her space being encroached upon and rejects the boy’s advances. The boy sulks away in defeat. He didn’t know when to back off, when to withdraw. If he was totally OK with not talking with her and “had to go all of a sudden,” the girl (if she was interested at all) would feel herself pulled in his direction as he walked away.

It is not unlike magnets that either attract or reject. It’s a science you can learn, a skill you can develop, a subtle art you can hone. You can apply the principle to anything. Just reach and then withdraw and see what happens.

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Creating a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace

by Per Wickstrom on April 22, 2014

Company Culture

Engagement in the Workplace

Creating a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace

Being “engaged” denotes elevated interest and meaningful participation. When you are truly engaged, your productivity is higher, the quantity and quality of work benefits, and you just enjoy yourself more. Being good at something while having fun doing it is a positive combination we seek as employers and employees alike.

The “culture” of your company or workplace reflects your vision, values, ideals, standards, personality and charisma. In the fullest sense, company culture extends to marketing and branding and includes how you take care of your customers and employees. When people both within and without are having a good time, when your culture is one of productivity, engagement and enjoyment (fun), people want to do business with you. And the people you want to hire tend to want to work with you. So it is worthwhile to create and cultivate a positive and engaging atmosphere and culture.

Participation

Encourage your employees and associates to participate in crafting your “brand.” Create think tanks where people sit around, drink coffee, throw paper airplanes at each other and devise ingenious ideas. Don’t relegate your staff to “managers and workers.” Everyone is a manager of their respective area and their input matters. It doesn’t mean you must act on every single idea – that would be impossible – but some ideas might be brilliant indeed. Embrace an atmosphere of participation.

Team Building

As you expand, you will develop teams within the overall team. Meet with your staff and ensure all have a clear concept of the overall vision of the company while you also encourage specialization. People like the idea that they are uniquely qualified for something, so work with your teams and let them know how their specialized actions mesh together within the big picture.

Do Things Outside of Work

Take your office out to dinner on Friday. While there, discuss some work-related business and include it as a tax write-off. Then have a good time. Hold a company baseball, basketball or football game. Have a barbecue at your house. Connect with a local gym and set up a staff discount, then invite a representative from the gym to your place of business and encourage your staff to join. A fit and healthy staff is a more productive staff. The group activities raise morale and camaraderie. They take the pressure of the work-a-day world out of the equation and let people communicate and interact on a different level.

Ask Questions

Hold a meeting or survey to find out what people are running into and what they’d like to see in the company. You can ask both positive and negative questions. Maybe your employees who are parents need some help with scheduling or childcare. Perhaps people would like to set up a gourmet coffee station or would like to purchase healthy foods and vitamins on the premises. Focus on things which you feel could boost morale AND productivity.

Challenge People

Don’t be afraid to give people challenging projects. Most will jump at the opportunity. If you want the business to be a leader in its field, let everyone know that. Give them the opportunity to rise to the occasion and become leaders. If you are worried about people dropping their daily actions, compartmentalize the schedule where people work on new projects for two hours out of the day (or whatever gets worked out). Instead of just the day-to-day “grind,” put people’s attention into the future. And create that future.

Take the High Road

Keep things on a high plane. Keep it positive. When there is a squabble and you must act as mediator, be fair. Don’t underestimate the value of a sense humor – as long as it’s not the mean spirited kind. Work and especially money can get very “serious” but factually the less serious you are the better you’ll deal with it – this applies to you and anyone you work with. Honesty is also fundamental to maintaining a high-level work atmosphere. When people know they can TRUST each other, there will be a tangible elevation in your office culture. A group can weather virtually any adversity when its members can truly trust one another.

Analyze Productivity

The productivity of your company and any department or position within it can be measured in numbers – statistics, metrics, and analytics. Each person should have a grasp of the quantitative value of their efforts and should work to raise this. Offer incentives for increased productivity in the form of a bonus or reward system. People get into a punch card, daily grind mentality, but it is not too difficult to snap them out of that.

The salesperson will get out of their job exactly what they put into it. Other types of jobs appear to be simply “9-5” without room for expansion. But with some ingenuity you can move beyond this where people have a sense of personal investment in what there are doing. For instance, a completed project that helps expand the company and increases output and income would be something to acknowledge, reward, etc.

The Customer

Always keep the focus on the customer and delivering – and exceeding – what is promised. If someone is incapable of grasping this then they may not belong on your team. By keeping this focus as a fundamental part of your company’s culture, you will attract like-minded people. It is interesting to note that how employees treat EACH OTHER will reflect on how they treat their CUSTOMERS. If they are disgruntled with each other, it will spill over into how they deal with the customer. If they respect each other, it will translate to the customer. The phrases mutual respect and cooperative endeavor apply in full.

Take a Personal Interest

A real team is a pretty tight-knit outfit. People tend to know each other on a personal level and they give a damn about how their teammates are doing in life. They want to see their co-workers doing well, not just on the job but in their personal lives. Perhaps as an employer you cannot get too personal, but you can certainly ask people how they’re doing and be genuinely interested. When people are doing well in their lives overall, it reflects in how engaged and interested they are in their jobs. Just living life is tough business. We need our friends and co-workers to fall back on.

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