Newsletter Archive

10 Tips for Improving Resilience

Whether your unemployed, stay at home parent or leading a fortune 50 corporation resilience and agility are two important ingredients to long-term success. Plus, improving resilience is good for our overall well-being and physical health.

1. CONNECT – Build strong relationships with family and friends who provide you with support and unconditional acceptance. Volunteering or getting involved in community endeavors is a terrific way to broaden and deepen your connections as well.

2. ACT – Take action every day that gives you a sense of achievement or accomplishment. Wishing your problems away or avoiding them does nothing. Instead, create a plan and log daily action steps in your calendar.

3. GOALS – Having goals helps us look forward to the future and create optimism – even while navigating an uncertain situation. Goals help give us purpose.

4. MEANING – Understanding your purpose in life or business is powerful. It provides you with focus and a sense of gratitude. Spend some time identifying your purpose and how your current activities align with it.

5. CHANGE – Expect and anticipate changes – this helps us adapt to them quickly and remain agile. How can you practice anticipating change at work and in your personal life?

6. OPTIMISM – Remaining hopeful and expecting good results allows us to be optimistic even during the worst of times. Try learning from the past and focusing on the strengths that have seen you through difficult times.

7. LAUGH – Humor is a great coping mechanism. Look for joy and humor in stressful situations or turn to a book or movie or listen to music that helps put you in a good mood.

8. LEARN – Building skills and enhancing our knowledge gives us a sense of empowerment. What tools do you need to be better right now?

9. SELF-CARE – I heard recently that 70% of our thoughts are negative — WOW! To me this means we need to hold fast to the hobbies and activities that bring us joy! Plus, a little exercise, healthy food and plenty of sleep always help us be at our best.

10. RELAX – Practice stress management and relaxation techniques to remain hopeful, agile and resilient. Yoga, meditation, deep-breathing, visualization, prayer and muscle relaxation are just a few ways to help restore inner peace and a sense of calm.

Remember, becoming more resilient takes practice. If you don’t feel you’re making progress –consider speaking with a coach or other helping professional

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Finding the Right Mentor

Successful businesspeople often wax eloquent about the benefits of having a mentor. Unfortunately, they often skip over the part where they tell you how to find one. How can you find the right person to guide you in your career? And how do you approach that person once you do? Here are some guidelines and tips that can help you find a good mentor.

Once you’ve decided that you want a mentor, check to see if your current employer, college alma mater, or other organization with which you’re associated has a formal mentoring program in place. If not, it’s time to begin the search on your own.

When looking for a mentor, seek out someone who has expertise in his or her profession or specialty. This person should be someone you admire and respect, be a good communicator, have a caring attitude, and make you feel comfortable. Your ideal mentor should be passionate and enthusiastic about his or her profession — and it won’t hurt if your mentor is well connected, too.

Although a mentor may be someone you work with, you’re probably better off with someone who works someplace else. Don’t ask your direct supervisor to be your mentor; it’s better to have someone with whom you can talk freely about career and workplace issues. Although some mentees prefer older, more experienced mentors, don’t overlook peer mentors. Sometimes the people who have the best solutions to problems are the people facing those problems themselves. Mentors can also be found through professional associations. Some associations even have mentoring programs where they match up experienced and inexperienced colleagues. And remember, a mentor doesn’t necessarily need to be the same gender or in the same specialty as the mentee.

Once you’ve decided on a mentor, approach that individual and ask if he or she would consider being your mentor. Depending on the individual and your current relationship, your proposal will vary in the amount of detail and how it is delivered. At the very least, let the person know what why you selected him or her and what you hope to learn from the association.

If you’re contacting someone who does not know you, send a letter of introduction indicating that you will be calling in a week’s time. Your letter should state your interest in learning more about that person and your desire to meet to get some advice and feedback. Once you’ve made contact and established the relationship, ask if that individual would be willing to mentor you.

If you’ve been considering looking for a mentor, don’t put it off any longer. Even if the person you choose declines to be your mentor — and that just might happen — he or she will certainly still be flattered that you asked.

Finding a mentor takes some work, and it involves some risk. But you’ll find that the benefits that you can reap from working with a mentor will be worth the effort you put into the search.

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Building A Better Resume…

A good resume won’t get you the job, but it will get your foot in the door for an interview. Because it’s often the first impression a prospective employer will have of you, its format, content, and appearance must be first-rate. Get started by avoiding these resume don’ts.

Bigger Isn’t Better — Don’t stress about the “one-page resume rule.” Keep your resume to one page, if possible, but if you have a lot of experience, two pages may be more appropriate. But don’t list every job you’ve ever had: Focus on your most recent and relevant career experience. Keep your resume as short as possible without omitting critical information.

Looks Matter — Don’t print your resume on cheap copy paper. Use good-quality, 81/2 x 11, white or beige paper. Use spell-check to check for typos and grammatical errors. Ask someone to proof the resume to find mistakes you might have missed. When formatting the resume, don’t justify the text because it throws off the spacing. Instead, make your type flush left. Don’t reduce the type size to such a degree that your resume becomes difficult to read.

Be Unique — Don’t follow the crowd. Many people use resume templates that come with their computer software. Consider a more distinctive format, but keep it simple enough to accommodate cut-and-paste e-mail resumes, word document or text-only file attachments, and automated resume keyword scanning.

Make Sure You’re Easy to Find — Don’t forget to include as much contact information as possible. Make sure that a potential employer can reach you during business hours.

Lose the Generic Objective — An objective like “To obtain a challenging position in a growing company” is meaningless. Either custom tailor the objective to the position and the company you’re applying at or leave it off altogether. If you forego the objective statement, replace it with a skills or professional summary.

Be Specific — Don’t forget your reader has a stack of resumes to paw through. So, list your job information in order of importance to the reader. List your jobs in reverse order in this manner: Title/position, name of employer, city/state of employer, dates of employment.

Honesty Is the Best Policy — Don’t change dates or titles on your resume to hide unemployment, job switching, or low-level positions. When a prospective employer checks into your background and discovers that you lied, you can kiss the job good-bye.

Strut Your Stuff — Don’t simply copy down your job description or list your job responsibilities. Instead, think in terms of your accomplishments: percentages increased, accounts expanded, awards won, etc. Tell potential employers how many people you supervised or how many products you represented.

Think Ahead — Don’t emphasize skills or job activities you’re not interested in doing in the future, even if they’re something you’re good at. In fact, you may not even want to mention these activities. Why describe how great your clerical skills are if you don’t want to do clerical work in the future? Instead, emphasize transferable skills, especially if you don’t have much experience or want to change careers.

Do not refer to yourself in either first person (“I supervised Y2K compliance project”)or third-person pronouns (“Ms. Smith supervised Y2K compliance project”). Instead, a preferable approach is: “Supervised Y2K compliance project.” This is short and gets the message across. It demonstrates both confidence and competence, which is what you want employers to get out of your resume. Don’t use personal pronouns (I, my, me) in a resume. Don’t use expressions like “Duties included,” “Responsibilities included,” or “Responsible for.” That’s job-description language, not accomplishments-oriented resume language that sells.

TMI — Too much information can be a bad thing. Don’t include the reasons you are no longer working at each job listed on your resume. Also, don’t mention sexual harassment issues, lawsuits, workers’ compensation claims, or say, “they fired me for no good reason.” In addition, leave out any discussion about hobbies, sports, your marital status (and number and gender of kids), age, or race. Information about past salaries and benefits is also inappropriate.

Bulk Mailing — Don’t include copies of transcripts, letters of recommendation or awards along with your resume. Instead, bring them along to the interview for show-and-tell.

References Come Later — Don’t list references or state “References Available Upon Request” on your resume. If employers want references, they’ll ask for them.

Happy job hunting!

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How to Hire the Right Candidate

How you interview is as important as whom you interview. Interviewing is an art, experts say, which takes preparation, an awareness of interview approaches, and a knack for asking “the right” questions. The following tips, culled from a variety of expert resources, should help you hire the right person for the job.

Prepare for the interview …

  • Understand your organization. Be able to clearly communicate the mission, vision, and values of your company.
  • Define what competencies are required for high performance in the particular job. If another person will be the candidate’s direct supervisor, get his or her input — especially if the job (systems analyst programmer or printing press operator, for example) requires a skills set you’re unfamiliar with.
  • Perfect your job application. In an effort to make it easy on job candidates, many employers make job applications quick and easy. The problem is they fail to ask questions that can be revealing and are legal to ask. For example, many employers don’t include a question about previous Driving Under the Influence convictions (especially if driving isn’t part of employees’ jobs). But the question is legal, according to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If the potential employee lies and says “no” and you run a background check, you might uncover the lie. And that will give you some insight into the person’s character. Some questions might also want to ask include:
  • Tell us about periods of unemployment.
  • Why are you applying with our particular company?

Don’t be afraid to leave a paragraph for the answers. The answers reveal not only the information but also a candidate’s communication skills and writing ability.

  •  Ready the group. If you’re holding a group interview, give each interviewer a role in the process. For example, the supervisor should ascertain the technical skills of an individual and make sure the job history matches what he or she is looking for.
  • Read the resume. Sure, it sounds obvious, but many people don’t take the time to thoroughly review a resume before the candidate steps in the door. That means that you might miss a characteristic that would make the candidate perfect  — or worse yet, an inconsistency that reveals a “white lie.”

Once the candidate’s there …

  •  Outline the interview structure for the candidate. First, give a brief description of the company, and then outline the job duties. Finally, ask the applicant questions. After that, give the candidate the opportunity to ask you questions. This sets up the parameters of the interview, keeps you both focused, and gives the candidate an idea of what to expect.
  • Ask open-ended questions. Do not ask questions that require yes or no answers. Make the person talk.
  •  Mix in some behavioral questions. These questions are based on the premise that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior in similar circumstances. Instead of asking applicants how they would act in a hypothetical situation, these questions ask how they handled a similar situation in the past (e.g., Tell me about the last time you had to handle a problem of staff dissatisfaction. What was the problem? What happened? Was it resolved satisfactorily?).
  •  Ask one question at a time — and make them brief. Sometimes interviewers ask a series of questions all at once. The candidate will probably only be able to retain the first or last one, which means that you won’t get all the answers you need.
  •  Don’t interrupt. If the information is pertinent, let the candidate finish his or her thoughts. Jot down new questions that occur to you or points that need to be clarified so you will remember to ask it later.
  •  Don’t let periods of silence fluster you. Give the interviewee a chance to think of what she wants to add before you hustle her along with the next question.
  •  Shut up. The interviewee should speak at least four words for every word you utter. If you’re talking over the candidate and overselling the job, you won’t be looking at and listening to the interviewee to see whether or not he or she wants the job.
  •  Debrief the candidate after the interview. Ask: “How do you think the interview went?” “What did you find most interesting about the opportunity?” “What about this position concerns you?” This will help you identify any obstacles to a job acceptance in advance so you have the opportunity to counter them — particularly if the person interviewed is a desirable candidate.

Let candidates know when the position has been filled. Follow up with the candidates via e-mail or phone. This is one more way of extending a professional courtesy, and it gives the interview process closure.

Some interview don’ts …

  • Don’t show off. You shouldn’t use the interview to showcase your knowledge, vocabulary, charm, or other abilities.
  • Don’t break the law. Under the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act, 1984, it is illegal to ask questions that aren’t related to a person’s capacity to do the job. Avoid questions relating to marital status, plans for having children, child-care arrangements, religious practices, racial background, or physical disability.
  • Don’t get too chummy. Keep all your questions job-related. If you spend the interview chatting, you may make a hiring decision because you liked the candidate versus whether the person is truly qualified for the job.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If interviewing isn’t really your thing, seek the advice of a coach or collar a colleague who always snags top employees and ask for support.

Sharpen Your Competitive Edge

Although every small businesses is unique, each faces the same issues, including how to better manage customer relationships. Communication technology has made that easier — and a lot more complicated at the same time. Just having voice mail and a fax machine isn’t enough. Here are some high-tech etiquette tips that will ensure that you stand head and shoulders above your competition.

Telephone

  • Answer promptly (on the second or third ring if possible).
  • Speak clearly and distinctly in a pleasant tone of voice.
  • Start with a greeting and then state your company name and your name (Good morning, Cardinal Contractors. Lou speaking.)
  • Remember: You may be the first and only contact a person has with your company, and that first impression will stay with the caller long after the call is completed.

Voice mail

  • Make sure your message is brief and concise.
  • Speak slowly and enunciate clearly so the listener can understand what you’re saying.
  • State the date, time, and reason you’re calling. To minimize telephone tag, mention a good time to reach you.
  • Always leave your full name and phone number, even if the other person already has your number. Recite the number slowly and clearly, including the area code. Then repeat it a second time so the other person doesn’t have to keep replaying your message to get the number.
  • Your outgoing message should include your name, title and company name.
  • Keep your outgoing voicemail message current. Update the message weekly or daily.
  • When out of town, state in your message when you’ll be back, whether you’ll be checking in for messages, how to contact you, or who to contact in your absence.
  • Remember: Voice mail can be a help or a hindrance, depending on your voice-mail etiquette.

E-mail

  • Write as if you were writing a letter or memo. Use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Answer all questions, and preempt further questions.
  • Make sure your reply contains the message thread.
  • Use templates for frequently used responses.
  • Do not overuse the high priority option.
  • Avoid attaching unnecessary files.
  • Remember: Answer swiftly. Customers send e-mails because they wish to receive a quick response.

Fax

  • Use a cover sheet that includes the following: the receiver’s name, number, and fax number; your name, your business name, address, telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address; the date and total number of pages being transmitted; and a brief message explaining the fax contents.
  • Unless requested to do so, don’t send lengthy documents via fax.
  • Use at least 12 point type, and leave adequate white space to ensure readability
  • Limit the use of dark colors, which increase transmission time; but do not use light colors for text because they may not be dark enough to register.
  • Try to avoid color images and photos.
  • Remember: Anyone can walk by a fax machine and see the fax you sent. If your information is sensitive, highly confidential, or of a legal nature, you may want to consider sending it another way or asking the recipient to stand by the fax machine while it’s being transmitted.

Proper communication really can affect your bottom line: When it comes to unhappy customers, only 30% are displeased with products or services; however, a full 70% are unhappy with the treatment they received. And you may not even know why you lost the business. Only 4% will complain or take action, but they’ll tell 8 to 20 people about the poor service they received. So spruce up your high-tech etiquette and take a giant step toward strengthening customer care.

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5-Steps to Overcoming Fear

STEP 1: Face it! Everyone has fears, but chances are the situation you fear is not nearly as bad as worrying or fretting over it makes it seem. Try saying “I’m really anxious about this, but I’m going to keep moving” — and do it!

STEP 2: Stop Talking About it. Shift your focus to what you want, what you appreciate or what is going right instead of what you fear. By giving your fears energy you’re helping them expand and have greater control over you.

STEP 3: Stop the “what if” game. Define your desires…what would you do if there was no fear and you knew you’d be successful? Write down your answer and let it guide you to taking action.

STEP 4: Set Your Intentions. Create an affirmation that makes you feel powerful, inspired, confident and in-control. Write and read aloud this affirmation daily
until you commit it to memory. Then repeat it anytime you feel fearful.

Step 5: Take a Leap of Faith. Be bold. Know that you can do anything you prepare for…fear flips us into a false “survival mode”…break free by stepping into the
fear and facing it head on. Each time you will become more confident!

Of course, if you need help with these steps be sure to speak with a coach, a therapist or someone trained to support your growth and development.

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7-Steps to Changing Your Luck

Ok, perhaps it’s naive to call it “luck.” But ask most successful people about the secret to their success and I bet most will say “hard work, talent and a little luck.” Call it educating your “gut” or the ability to act on a hunch, here are a few ways to improve this think we call luck…

1. Hang On! If you have a difficult time believing you can “control” your luck or if all else fails, know that even negative events create changes that often open up unexpected opportunities and good results. The odds are actually in your favor!

2. Pay attention! Take time to look around your world…actively looking for good opportunities will help you spot good luck.

3. Talk to strangers! You may meet an important business contact or the love of your life. Talk to people who seem interesting and follow up afterwards.

4. Listen to your doubts! Red flags are often accurate biological alarms. Don’t automatically dismiss them just because you cannot pinpoint a rational reason immediately. When we have to talk ourselves INTO something, it is usually not a good
move for us.

5. Expect good things! If you think something is going to happen, you’re more likely to spot it when it does. Plus you’ll be inclined to make decisions that spur more positive results.

6. Keep a rabbit’s foot in your pocket! A rabbit’s foot, lucky coin or other token of fortune doesn’t have special powers, but if it gives you confidence then go for it — that alone can be powerful.

7. Stay relaxed! The more centered you can stay in high pressure situations the more likely you will be able to see alternative, more positive solutions. This is likely to impress people as well, which can lead to more good luck.

Whether you believe in luck or not is not important. The point here is to make aggressive changes in your attitude and expectations. Research has clearly shown that we get what we focus on, so choose wisely and expect good fortune.

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Build Trusting Relationships for Greater Success

Whether you are the CEO, a fast track manager, or job seeker your career will have a very “short shelf life” if people feel they can not trust you. Reciprocally, you need to also understand what it takes to trust others and how trusting will support you in your role. Trust is developed over time; great care must be used to create and sustain trust; it takes a nano-second to destroy it.

I believe most human beings have the pre-disposition to want to trust others. Take a moment to think about trust and the role it plays in our lives. We are no-where if we don’t trust each other. Place that situation in an organization and you have withholding of information, trading on secrets, defensive behavior and more – a formula for disaster!

What are the Ingredients of Trust? There are many ingredients of trust. Here are a few that keep coming up in individual and group coaching sessions:

  • Confidence
  • Hope
  • Dependence
  • Safety
  • Relationship
  • Communication
  • Expectations
  • Predictibility of trust

What do you Need to do to Earn, Build and Keep Trust?

  • Be truthful – Part truth creates part trust, be completely truthful with people
  • Be open and communicative – Keep people informed and ask for input regularly
  • Keep promises – Keep your word or quickly acknowledge WHY if you are unable to keep it
  • Be sensitive – Caring+sensible display of emotions=being real/human
  • Be competent – Demonstrate your skills and you will earn both confidence and trust

Can you think of people in your work group or life that you’d like to trust or have them trust you more? Understanding why there is no trust or why the trust has been broken is critical. You have to understand that before you can re-build trust. Ask yourself the following questions to better understand where the lack of trust comes from. Then make a list of people you would like to build or repair trust with along with specific steps you are willing to take to restore the situation.

  • Do I lack trust in certain people, groups or teams?
  • If yes, which people, groups or teams?
  • HOW does this lack of trust manifest itself? What does it look like?
  • WHY do I lack trust in the persons, groups or teams?
  • What one small thing could I do or these people do to begin rebuilding the trust?
  • What beliefs or expectations do I hold that fuel this lack of trust?
  • What new behaviors (be specific) or attitudes do I need to see from these people, groups or teams to restore trust?
  • What new behaviors or attitudes do I need to adopt?

Remember, building trusting relationships instills confidence, and being trustworthy is a key ingredient in building successful relationships, both of which are good for your pocketbook and your personal evolution.

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Client Spotlight: Scott Eaves, Atlanta Real Estate Agent 

Real Estate Agent Scott Eaves. A hard-working young man from Atlanta, Georgia who worked full- time while attending college at Georgia State University, where he earned a bachelors degree in economics and management. After college, Scott worked in management at a top performing Atlanta bank and then went on to work as a trainer for the Coca-Cola Company. Scott decided to hire a coach to help him transition from Corporate America (and a steady paycheck) to real estate. Judging by his success, real estate was definitely the right move for Scott!

Scott, who has been licensed just over two years, was the top agent for his office with his former company and made Million Dollar Club status his first full year in the business. Then, six months ago he moved to Keller Williams Realty and was the top listing agent for January. He was the top selling agent of the months for April and May, and has already qualified this year for the Million Dollar Club. Scott was also named a 2005 “Rising Star.” With an average of eight to ten listings in the pipeline at any given moment, Scott’s average selling price is around $200,000, and he specializes in working with with many first-time homebuyers.

What is the secret of his success? In his own words, Scott says ““I believe in and follow the lead- generation system created by Gary Keller,” referring to one of the founders of Keller Williams, and “I’ve really learned to tap into my community contacts. I’ve always been very involved – now it is all the more important to really call on the great relationships I have built for real estate success.”

This Rising Star also has a secret weapon of sorts. “I work with a professional coach – Mickey Parsons – whose coaching is an integral part of my success,” Scott says. “He keeps me on track and makes sure the professional side of life is running optimally. Using a qualified coach is an investment that’s worthwhile; I would recommend it to anyone interested in being successful!”

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Bright Ideas to Big Profits…

I speak with hundreds of people each year that have exciting ideas that they would love to turn into a profitable business. But, HOW? Is the idea truly unique? Is it worth pursuing? – Or better left alone. While there are many brands of experts poised to help fledgling entrepreneurs seek financing, craft a business plan or secure the proper permits and patents, most individuals end up “going it alone” when it comes to soul-searching and common sense research.

While this is the perfect opportunity to work with a seasoned coach who can help you distinguish between fantasy and reality as well as work with you to create a vision and actionizeable plan to navigate those fearful initial steps into entrepreneurdom. Below however, are 10 questions that would-be entrepreneurs should ask themselves before pursuing a new idea for a business:

  1. What is new and different about your idea?
  2. What other things like this are out there? Why is yours better?
  3. How big is the market? How many people have this problem?
  4. How much would it cost to make this product? And what do you think the market will pay for it?
  5. How defensible is the concept? Is there good intellectual property?
  6. How is this innovation strategic to my business?
  7. How easy is it to communicate the innovation or concept?
  8. How could the product evolve? Is there an opportunity to build it out into a product line? Can it be updated/augmented in future versions?
  9. Where would someone expect to purchase this product or service?

10. What will be tricky or difficult in developing the product or service?

(Source: Mike Collins, Big Ideal Group)

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5 Steps to Creating A Successful & Satisfying Life

  1. Dream BIG  — Often, our dreams are so reserved, so moderate that they lack true inspiration. They fail to motivate us toward action or even long term focus. By setting grand, almost unimaginable dreams and goals we can tap into a larger source of creativity and self-confidence that makes our short-term goals highly achievable.
  2. Know Your Priorities – This is a tall order because knowing your priorities implies that you “know yourself”… you have done your work and understand what makes you tick. You honor your values, know your strengths and are moving at least toward a path that serves you. Once you have all of the self-knowledge, priorities become simple.
  3. Tap Into Your Instincts – Remember that moment just before you accepted the most miserable job of your career? Did you have to swallow hard, push past your fear/sense of dread? 99% of the people we work with say that remember those inklings, “gut” feelings…particularly at times when they were about to make a big mistake. Our advice is START LISTENING to the wisdom of your internal self. It speaks through our emotions rather than or brains. The next time you have one of those gut level reactions try spending some quite time with it rather than dismissing it immediately.
  4. Focus On The Positive – Most of us have grown accustom to focusing on what is missing…our lack of something. We find it easier to make excuses for not having a thing, situation or relationship rather than spending time in earnest expectation. The next time you find yourself experiencing negative emotions…take a moment to consciously stop the judging and shift your thoughts to something more pleasant. Within a week you can literally begin to reprogram your attention to more positive thoughts.
  5. Believe – It sounds simple enough. Believe in your dreams, in possibilities in yourself, but this can be the most difficult step of all for some people. The challenge here is for us to embrace the moment. Wherever we are, to know that “life is good, and exactly as it should be.” Realize that by shifting our focus, taking a step our world begins to change. We have the amazing power to co-create our experience and have every tool necessary to create a successful and satisfying life.

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Success Tips for Telephone Interviews

Most initial screening these days happens by phone…either by a recruiter, human resources representative, hiring manager or all of the above. Based on web research and suggestions from hundreds of clients, below are tips to have you ready for that critical first step to landing your dream job:

When preparing for the telephone interview, have the following items at your fingertips:

  • Pen and paper, a calculator
  • The job ad or description and the resume and cover letter which you sent in response to the company
  • A list of your accomplishments which relate to the job you are discussing.
  • Research you have done on the company.
  • A short list of questions about the job.
  • Your calendar.

Savvy Techniques of a Pro

  • Smile – it comes through in your voice.
  • Speak directly into the phone.
  • Don’t smoke, chew gum, eat or drink anything. It all telegraphs to your listener.
  • Stand up. Your voice sounds stronger and more confident
  • Avoid ah, er, hum. This habit is especially noticeable on the telephone.
  • Practice with a friend

For a winning performance

  • Confirm the interviewer’s name and company. Get the caller’s telephone number.
  • Remember the interviewer can’t see you – can’t see your hand gestures, can’t see you taking notes.
  • Pace the call. Let the interviewer do most of the talking, without interruptions and keep your answers under 2 minutes each.
  • Occasionally repeat or re-phrase questions. This tells the interviewer that you listened carefully, and gives you time to think about your answer.
  • Avoid simple yes or no responses; elaborate and add selling points at every opportunity.
  • If you need extra time to think, say so, silence during a telephone conversation is dead air time.
  • Compensation issues come at the end of the interviewing cycle, never at the telephone stage. You can truthfully say you would need a personal interview to learn more about the position before really talking numbers with the hiring manager. This is an excellent way of asking for the personal interview. Finally, re-affirm your qualifications and express your interest in the job and the company. Say you would appreciate the opportunity to talk about the job further – in person.

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Overview of New SPAM Rules

There has been a lot of talk lately about recent legislation designed to stop aggressive and intrusive spammers and how that might hurt small business marketing. And, since a recent poll revealed that 62% of small business owners either don’t know the CAN-SPAM ACT or the punishment they can suffer if they violate it, I thought it a good idea to share the basic rules with our subscribers!

According to the “Small Business Guide to Understand the CAN-SPAM Legislation,”developed by Interland and Sbusiness.com, the following rules should be applied:

– – All commercial email messages must have a functioning return email address;

– – All commercial emails must have a valid subject line indicating the email is an advertisement. It is no longer lawful to include a subject line such as, “Here’s the information you requested;”

– – All commercial emails must include the physical postal address of the sender. Phone numbers are not required;

– – There must be a link that allows the recipient to opt-out quickly and easily. This is also true for commercial emails sent from your personal email account;

– – If a recipient chooses to unsubscribe, you must comply within 10 days. Keep a list of who has opted in or out;

– – If the email being sent is related to a transaction or is a follow-up message to an already established relationship –such as order confirmations, renewal notices or account balances – it does not need to have an opt-out provision or a physical postal address or be identified as an advertisement.

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Delegation…a Key to Your Success

The Art of Delegation… Delegation is a necessary, if often difficult skill. This is a fact I am reminded of almost daily as I work with business owners, managers and entrepreneurs.

In reality, letting go of most anything in life can be a hard thing to do. So it stands to reason that effective delegation of important decision-making responsibilities can be an on-going challenge facing business owners. Over time, however, this skill can be one of the most critical for growing and sustaining success. Below are a few tips to help us delegate more effectively

– – Decide what you want to delegate!

– – Clearly identify your expectations, including guidelines, results or methods to be used as well as resources and budget restrictions

– – Tell the employee why you have chosen them for the task (a great way to boost confidence & employee morale!)

– – Encourage feedback throughout and at the end of the project

– – Remember that by delegating more it will not only get easier, but employees will begin to ask “What should I do?” and feel more comfortable making their own decisions.

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5-Step Goal Setting Guide 

I’m really excited to share the following 5 steps for goal setting with you. If you’re like me and need an occasional nudge in the right direction, this formula can definitely help:

1. Write down your goal – – make sure it is specific, measurable, time-bound and fits who you are…honors your values, your strengths or who you’re working to become.

2. Write down why the goal is important – – what is it about this goal that motivates you to reach for it? What happens if you do not achieve this goal?

3. Identify obstacles, risks or personal beliefs that could prevent you from achieving the goal and develop your plan/action steps that will help you avoid these pit-falls.

4. Take consistent action and make a list of people (friends, family members, a coach, etc.) who can provide support and accountability at each step along the way.

5. Celebrate your accomplishment… It’s important to “Mark” or honor your achievements (as well as plan for mini-celebrations along the path of success). Make sure the reward or celebration is meaningful so it will provide focus and persistence as you implement your daily strategies.

There! That wasn’t so painful, was it?! 🙂 I hope you achieve BIG goals this year that exceed everyone’s expectations and help you get the most out of your life.

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Client Spotlight: Andrea Fox 

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, 28 year old Owner and CEO of EpicIT, Andrea Fox has taken her company from $35,000 in revenue in 2000 to a projected revenue of over $3 million in 2003. By providing technology services to small and mid-sized businesses, EpicIT has become one of the fastest growing companies in the Metro Atlanta region and was recently ranked 19th in a Atlanta Business Chronicle survey.

With a natural ability to inspire others, Andrea turned to coaching in 2002 to help give her an “edge” as she faced the challenges of growing a young company. By serving as a sounding board and accountability partner coaching helped plant the seeds that moved EpicIT from Entrepreneurial start-up to thriving business.

According to Andrea, “Mickey helped me when I had some major hiring and structural decisions to make. He came at a time when I was going from a $1 million business to a $3 million business — not every coach would have been able to help me with those things. But, I feel coaching helped begin the process that propelled me to the next level.”

In addition to focusing on business strategies, Andrea worked to enhance her management skills through coaching and to better balance work and personal life.

If you’re interested in learning more about Andrea or EpicIT, check out their web site athttp://www.epicit.com

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Self-Management for Business Owners 

If you’re like me (and most other people I’ve met) at one time or another you’ll find yourself in a bit of a time crunch. For some people this is a way of life and they spend all of their time/ in “REACTION MODE” frantically putting out fires here and there until they find themselves exhausted, burnt out, in a rut. Others simply go into OVERDRIVE occasionally to finish or launch a project or deal with a critical issue that needs addressing. All of us, I am convinced (especially business owners, entrepreneurs) could benefit from learning to manage ourselves and our priorities a bit more effectively. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Develop a clear vision of where you’d like to be in 5-10 years and why.
  • Clarify and align both personal and business goals with this vision
  • Identify the ideal role that you’d like to be playing in the next 2-3 years
  • Conduct a time-use analysis over the next week
  • Use this information to create AND IMPLEMENT a detailed 30-day action plan, then evaluate the results.

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12 Commandments of Success: Secrets to Making A Difference 

  1. Have a mission that matters – life goals are at the core to success.
  2. Be a dreamer – see people, places & things bigger and better than they are today.
  3. Be ethical – true success means having and expecting high ethics.
  4. Be a change master – create your own future by being flexible and innovative.
  5. Be sensitive – sensitivity to others needs, wants and values builds loyalty.
  6. Be a risk taker – remember “anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first.”
  7. Be a decision maker – every decision releases more of your potential energy to succeed.
  8. Use power wisely – remember the “higher you go, the more gently down you reach.”
  9. Be an effective communicator – the key to productive relationships lies in your ability to communicate.

10. Be a team builder – compete with your self, cooperate with others.

11. Be courageous – every act of courage strengthens your resolve.

12. Be committed – commitment is the glue to your success. It is the difference between winners and losers.

You can be a leader, have a fulfilling life and make a difference in your home, job and community by building and enhancing these 12 qualities! -Adapted from Dr. Sheila Murray Bethel

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Nailing Down A Job 

According to data compiled by Manchester, INC. a human capital management consultant, it is taking people longer to find jobs than it did this time last year…which to most of us is no real surprise. So, how long will it take? Here are the numbers:


Number of weeks to land a job by income:
2002 2001
Jobs paying
less than $50,000
13
weeks
15
weeks
Jobs paying
$76,000-$100,000
21
weeks
17
weeks
Jobs paying
more than $100,000
33
weeks
27
weeks

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Client Spotlight: Jo Cavanaugh 

As a successful international Project Manager for a large agricultural company, Jo’s resume read more like a Fortune Magazine executive bio than a woman in search of a coach. However, with all of her credentials and charm, Jo found herself needing to redefine success: to find a new job…one that would allow her to provide living expenses while caring for her disabled husband, to increase her self-esteem and to develop a new plan to achieve her goals and have her needs met.

During the first weeks of coaching we worked to clarify Jo’s vision of what a “rich and full life” would look (and feel) like to her. This assignment allowed Jo to use her creativity and energy to explore and form a mental picture of where she wanted be: what her home would be like, her occupation, daily activities, support structures, and spirituality. Once complete this project served as motivation for better self care and the creation of new habits that brought more joy and a sense of gratitude. Through the coaching process, Jo also decided that she was passionate about being a caregiver and that she wanted to support and provide resources to other caregivers. This realization led to the creation of Caressentials.com…”a website dedicated to supporting those who provide care for patients of serious/terminal illness.” Today Jo is now making a living by writing booklets, hosting teleclasses and providing education, resources and coaching services for other caregivers.

If you are interested in knowing more about Jo, I encourage you to check out her web site at www.caressentials.com or send her an email to register for one of her upcoming teleclasses jocavanaugh@caressentials.com

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Discover Your Perfect Day

If you’re like most people, you have a difficult time thinking of exactly what you really, really want or what you’d like to create in your life/career/business. Brainstorming about your “perfect” day can help you begin to get in touch with your needs, wants and values and clarify longer term goals.

First, sit quietly and relax. Then ask yourself “If time, money, career, family obligations, health or bad habits were not an issue, what would my perfect day look like?” Start in the morning when you first wake up…what will you be thinking, feeling and doing at that time? Then detail how you will spend each hour or segment of your day. Be creative. Do not limit yourself. If you get stuck, think about what gives you joy, what makes you smile, what gives you a sense of accomplishment. Of course, you will probably want to leave some time for relaxation, recharging or doing nothing…

Once you’ve completed this exercise, review it daily without judgments and begin to keep a list of new ideas or realizations that come to you. This can be a big step toward re-defining success on your own terms!

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High Impact Words & Phrases for Resumes 

accelerated, achieved, actively participated, aggressively, applied, assumed a key role, authored, built, chaired, closed, co-developed, co-directed, co-found, co-managed, communicated, computerized, completed, consolidated, coordinated, cost-effectively, created, defined, delivered, designed, developed & applied, directed, earned, eliminated, emphasized, established, exceeded, expanded, facilitated, formulated, founded, gained, generated, ground-breaking, helped, implemented, improved, increased, initiated, instructed, integrated, introduced, led, leveraged, marketed, motivated, negotiated, orchestrated, penetrated, planned, played a key role, played a pivotal role, positioned, prepared, produced, profitably, promoted, provided, published, quadrupled, received, restored, resolved, saved, significantly, supervised, took the lead in, turned around, upgraded, was able to, was awarded, was chosen, was selected, yielded.

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Simplify First, This Holiday Season

For many of us, the holiday season can be filled with financial and emotional stress, frustration, even grief. This year I would like to challenge you to take actions that will simplify your life and allow you to discover joy and gratitude instead of feeling overwhelmed.

Starting today, abandon at least one project, goal, problem or dream that is consuming your energy without moving you forward. Freeing up energy will help focus on your strengths as you develop personal habits that nurture and sustain an attitude of success.

The actions of making life less complex, giving up frustration and anger allows us to stop striving and find happiness in simply BEING who we are. Here are some steps to help you get started:

  • Make a list of projects, goals, problems, dreams that are holding you back and create a plan for eliminating or integrating them;
  • Spend 30-minutes of quiet time writing down your strengths and what you are grateful for;
  • Identify ways to delegate tasks and chores that are costing you quality or creative time or keep you from nourishing yourself physically, mentally and emotionally;
  • As you simplify your life make a list of elements that you would like to add: possessions, personal qualities, experiences, etc. (NO pipedreams, coulds, shoulds, here.)

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Reinventing Goals

If setting goals and resolutions keep you focused and work for you then by all means keep using them! However, if goals seem too rigid or too restrictive and leave you feeling cold/bored/unmotivated, perhaps using vision and intention affirmations will help to inspire you. Below are some examples of how you can turn typical goal statements into a more positive, attractive intention affirmation:

Goal: I will lose 10 pounds by 1/1/2009.

Affirmation: I will look terrific when standing naked in front of my mirror and love how clothes look/feel on my body.

Goal: I will find a new job this year.

Affirmation: I will focus on what I love to do regularly and seek opportunities that allow me to express my strengths, values.

Goal: I will make $125,000 this year.

Affirmation: Money will not be an issue in my life. I will do what brings me joy and know that the money will follow.

The key here is to think about what you really, really, really want and express it in a way that is meaningful to you…a way that takes the pressure off while creating a vision that will propel you forward.

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Top Job Search Techniques for Career Changers (in order of effectiveness)…

  1. Ask for job leads from family, friends, colleagues, associations, chambers of commerce, college staff…use your network to connect!
  2. Knocking on an employers door to ask about vacancies. (Have resume in hand)
  3. Grab the yellow pages and cold call employers to ask about opportunities.
  4. Join a job-hunters group.
  5. Contact recruiters, search firms, employment agencies.
  6. Answering local newspaper ads as well as those in professional journals.
  7. Randomly mailing out resumes to employers.
  8. Answering Internet ads.

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“It’s a TEAM-THING”

Teambuilding is the single most important tool that brings a work group together in the pursuit of common goals. Organizations and smart business leaders throughout the world have moved away from traditional work structures that stifle creativity, innovation and change while embracing a teambuilding approach that helps workers identify and build on their strengths while minimizing their weaknesses. By sharing some basic leadership and management responsibilities, team members help companies create more effective workplaces.

Unfortunately, the teambuilding process does not take place over night. When a group of people are first formed into a team, their roles and interactions are not established. Gradually team members understand their individual roles and discover ways to work with one another. One of the most common models that describes team development progression suggests that growth takes place in four predictable stages: FORMING, STORMING, NORMING and PERFORMING.

The forming stage is an exploration period where team members are often cautious and guarded, not knowing what to expect from other members.

Storming is characterized by competition and strained relationships among team members. Each member is addressing issues of control, safety, support and influence.

The norming stage is a time when members discover that they have commonalities and are learning to appreciate one another.

Performing, the final stage is the most harmonious. Here members communicate openly, recognize conflict as a catalyst for growth and become committed to the team and it’s goals.

“The man who gets the most satisfactory results is not always the man with the most brilliant single mind, but rather the man who can best coordinate the brains/talents of his associates” –W. Alton Jones

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The Color of Success

Did you know that how you decorate your office can increase or decrease your productivity? Indeed, scientific research suggests that when used appropriately color and lighting can help stimulate focus and creativity, raise energy levels, reduce stress, improve organization and even attract customers. If you need more convincing of this fact, pay closer attention to how your favorite stores and restaurants use color, lighting and background music to appeal to your senses.

While people react to colors in different ways, there are some common interpretations of colors you may wish to experiment with:

  • White. Individualistic, pure.
  • Gray. Passive, noncommittal, stressed.
  • Black. Disciplined, strong willed, independent.
  • Purple. Intuitive, regal, spiritual.
  • Blue. Honest, realistic, supportive.
  • Sky Blue. Creative, perceptive, imaginative.
  • Green. Benevolent, humanistic.
  • Yellow. Communicative, expressive, social.
  • Orange. Competent, organized, impatient.
  • Pink. Affectionate, loving, emotional.
  • Red. Ambitious, energetic, courageous.

For more information on color check out the August issue of Home Business magazine or explore your own color preferences with iVillage’s Dewey Color System athttp://www.ivillage.com/dewey/about.html

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Visualizing Success 

Visualization is a common process shared by top athletes, performers and business leaders. In fact, it is used by virtually all successful people! Simply stated, visualization is the process of mentally picturing an event before it happens. This rehearsing of an event before it happens helps to “program” the mind and taps into tremendous power and creativity that will help you achieve – even under difficult circumstances. Certainly worth a try, don’t you think?

First, use the “Tips for Setting Great Goals” on the left-hand column to create a goal that you are passionate about. Then visualize yourself already having attained that goal. Feel it, taste it, touch it, smell it. What will your life be like once you have achieved this goal? Make it real.

Next, keep focused on what you want to happen (not the reverse). Write down your goal, why you want it and how you will feel about it once you achieve it.

The final step will be to review this goal daily (morning and night time often work best). As you review it expect that the goal is already within your reach and express gratefulness for it.

Visualization not only works for large goals such as growing your business or obtaining a certain type of job, but it also helps prepare you for daily tasks such as sales calls and presentations.

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Asking Great Questions During a First Interview 

Interviewers tend to like candidates who ask thoughtful questions. This shows that you are truly interested in the company and that you have done your homework. By asking good questions and listening to the answers, interviewers will perceive you as a more serious, more astute candidate. Here are a few suggestions:

  • What is it about your company that makes it successful?
  • What differentiates you from your competition, such as (____ company)?
  • What is the vision for the company in the next (3/5) years?
  • Where does my position fit within this vision?
  • Is this a new position created due to growth? Or why did the last person leave the position?
  • What types of training/education opportunities are available to employees?
  • Who else will be involved in the hiring decision?
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?

Also, remember the first 2-3 minutes is most important, so MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION! Here are a few tips that will help:

  1. Research the company beforehand
  2. 50/50 Rule – speak 50% of the time and listen 50%
  3. When asked a question try to respond in less than 2 minutes
  4. If initiating the request for an interview – ask for 15-20 minutes (informational, etc.)
  5. Present yourself as a resource or problem solver (talk about what you can do for them and support it with examples from past experiences/successes)
  6. Bring evidence of your skills when possible – products, photos, etc.
  7. Never speak negatively about other employers

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The amazing growth of coaching by Jay Conrad Levinson.

Every world champion has had a coach. Here is why the coaching industry is growing so fast and how it can make you a champion, too.

I make a presentation and watch as the audience takes careful notes, nods in agreement with what I say, then rises to its feet with applause. But deep in my heart, I know that only 5 percent of the people in the audience will actually take action based upon what they have learned.

These are bright people, motivated people, but the vast majority of them are just too busy or too overwhelmed by day-to-day business matters to implement the changes they know they must make. They have everything it takes to succeed except for one thing: follow-up.

It’s that lack of follow-up that has led to the explosive growth of the coaching industry.Read more…

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Survey: Americans Unhappy with work, unhappiest in New England

By Robert O’Neill, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) A national survey has found that workers in many parts of the country are growing more unhappy with their jobs and nowhere more so than New England.

Only 51 percent of the 5,000 people surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs, compared with 59 percent in 1995. The mail survey was conducted in March by the New York-based Conference Board, which did not provide a margin of error.

The survey suggested most Americans find their jobs interesting and are even satisfied with their commutes. But the survey said only one worker in five was satisfied with their companies’ promotion policy and bonus plans, while nearly two in five were content with their wages.

Job satisfaction in the northern Midwest, Prairie and south central states Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi have dropped below 50 percent since 1995. But it was lowest in New England at only 44 percent, compared with 56 percent in 2000 and 65 percent seven years ago.

“I’m personally happier but I observe more people that are more miserable,” said Marc Greenbaum, 50, a professor at Suffolk Law School. “There’s more pressure on them to produce, more problems with maintaining a boundary between work and family, even maintaining a boundary between work and the outside because of things like e-mail, voicemail and the Blackberry. They can’t get away.”

Job satisfaction was highest in Rocky Mountain states, though the percentage dropped from 63 percent in 1995 to 57 percent this year.

Lauren Trout, 23, a bicycle messenger in Denver, said she could always do with a higher salary. “But otherwise, as far as the work goes, I like it. I’m pretty happy with it,” she said.

The survey found that job satisfaction increased with income levels, but even among higher-earning households it dropped from 67 percent in 1995 to 55 percent in 2000 and again this year.

Less than 48 percent of people aged 35 to 44 were satisfied with their work, compared with nearly 61 percent in 1995. The most satisfied age groups were those under 25 and over 65.

George Walker, 66, who lives and works in Denver, said he was happy with his salary but wished some things at work could change.

“I’d like to be more active,” he said. “I’d like to have more say. I’d like to feel like I had more power. I’d like to feel like I was more in control.”

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Am I Solo Entrepreneur Material?

Consider the following questions to help decide if self-employment is right for you.

  • Am I a self-starter/motivated and disciplined?
  • Am I comfortable giving and receiving advice from others?
  • Do I enjoy competition?
  • Am I easily intimidated?
  • Do I adapt easily to change?
  • Do I assess situations and make decisions quickly/easily?
  • Am I aware of my strengths, weaknesses, values and needs?
  • Do I see mistakes as learning opportunities rather than failures?

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10 Ways to Work From Home Effectively

  1. Set deadlines that have consequences if you miss them.
  2. Develop a routine that fits your style.
  3. If you don’t love what you do, change it so that you do.
  4. Have a colleague, buddy, coach, or staff member help keep you focused.
  5. Train your family what work time means.
  6. Make your home office perfect.
  7. Set daily goals.
  8. Get the day off to a great start (take a walk, read the paper, do something you enjoy)
  9. Keep beverages and snacks close at hand.
  10. Plan something interesting to work on for the next day. Adapted from “Working Wisdom” by Thomas Leonard, 1997

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Managing Sales Obstacles

Managing Sales Obstacles – If you’re like me and many of the business owners I coach, you’re very savvy about your particular service or product…you know the key features and benefits, you know the ROI, you have your elevator speech down pat, and even know how to succinctly describe that “perfect” client or customer.  It’s when we come face to face with a client obstacle that our confidence wanes and our sales strategy breaks down.

An obstacle (anything that prevents the customer from engaging in the hiring/buying process), actually has little to do with “US.” Even though rejection feels personal it rarely is…most of the time it is something simple (a misunderstanding, a concern, or inability to decide) and if we follow a customer-oriented, consultative approach we can often help manage (and remove) the obstacle that is blocking the sales process.

 The next time you’re faced with a sales obstacle try the following three step (TAC) process:

  1. Time-out – Briefly pause, take a full breath and consider your options. Jumping in too quickly can make you seem defensive or desperate. Pausing makes you appear more professional, shows respect and gives the customer time to think.
  2. Ask – Question and listen carefully to the prospective customer until you understand exactly what the concerns are. The answers to your questions will guide your response and show the customer that you are truly interested in helping them accomplish what they are trying to accomplish with your service or product.
  3. Communicate understanding – Show a customer that they have been heard by communicating your understanding of the obstacle. Paraphrasing what the customer has said (without agreeing or disagreeing with it) is a good way to achieve this. For example, if someone says “You are too expensive…” you might communicate your understanding with a phrase like “Cost is always a factor in a decision like this, and…”

 By taking the time to ask good questions and hear your prospective customer, you are gathering valuable information about the customer’s perspective which will help you decide how to respond. Perhaps even more importantly, you are also taking steps to deepen your relationship with this individual. The customer will know you care about them or their problem because you took the time to ask questions about it. This shared problem-solving approach can be a powerful tool for creating win-win situations as you look for ways to add value to their perception of your services or products.

Some additional benefits of managing obstacles through the TAC method include the following:

  • Less Confrontation – By helping the customer think clearly about their own objectives, you use natural conversation to eliminating the win-lose fear associated with customer-salesperson interactions.
  • Better Information = Better Results – People respond positively to being treated in a respectful, consultative manner. When you find yourself partnering with customers you are not only creating a great customer relationship, but a raving fan who will tell others about you.
  • Quick Problem Resolution – The TAC process helps you identify true obstacles more quickly and respond to them effectively. Plus, it allows the customer an opportunity to VENT, relax and very possibly resolve the problem by themselves.

If you need help winning the inner game of selling or achieving business, professional or personal goals, consider partnering with a Coach! We’re trained to help take clients to their greatness.

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