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My Two Cents – LinkedIn Do’s and Don’ts!

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I have spent a lot of time on LinkedIn lately, and have made many valuable new connections!

Weather you want to improve your LinkedIn presence, draw more attention for your business and brand, or draw “eyeballs” for potential job opportunities, this post is a must for you 🙂

Think of your LinkedIn profile as being in a tall stack of resumes. What makes you stand out, and why should somebody click and have a look!

I will expand on these points in future posts; but for today, here is a checklist to keep near!

Do…

  • Post a picture
  • Complete your profile
  • Keep your headline simple, and eye-catching
  • Personalize your intro when requesting to connect, and say thank you when people accept
  • Ask for recommendations

Don’t…

  • Post a picture with other people in it, or if your face is not clearly visible
  • Cram too much in to your headline (this includes no email addresses, websites or credentials that have as many letters as the alphabet)
  • Connect and run! Get to know people and engage with them
  • Just post your current job title in the headline – get creative
  • Have grammar errors or bad sentence structure in your profile 

In LinkedIn, go under “People You May Know” and scroll through.

  • What stands out on profiles? What made you click to see more?
  • What made you bypass people and keep scrolling?

This should give you the good, the bad and the ugly of what is happening on LinkedIn!

Have fun learning.

Have A Laugh Fridays – My Funniest Career Moments!

I had not read this in a long time and enjoyed a few laughs last night enjoying some old work memories. Hope you like it too!

As I was driving to a sales call yesterday, my thoughts suddenly turned to some of the funniest moments during my career! There has certainly been a lot of hard work along the way, but thankfully many laughs too.  Here is a short list of some of the best moments.

#1  “Hey look, it’s Captain High Liner!” – I pulled up to an elite golf course in the Rocky Mountains on a very rainy day. As I approached the pro shop with my yellow rain suit on (including suspenders) one of my co-workers yelled the above mentioned quote in front of many strangers.

#2 I pulled up to the valet parking area in my work van at a 5 star hotel in Calgary. I had just come back from setting up for a trade show, so I looked very casual, messy and tired. I hastily grabbed my suitcase and was going to take it with in to the lobby. Unfortunately I had opened the zipper on my suitcase earlier, and I spilled all of its contents on to the ground!

#3 “She had one of those stay-away-from-me-papers” – A manufacturing plant worker describes a scenario where a woman had a restraining order against him.

#4 “Hey boss, why did you fax me a copy of the weekly sales report and write SWEET month on it?” Well (he laughs), I actually wrote 5-WEEK month on it, but the way you are selling, it is a SWEET month too!”

#5 Manager to sales rep (after hitting a deer on the highway), “Why did you not slow down when you saw that deer on the road?”

Sales Rep to Manager, “I thought it was going to move.

#6 “If you hit that intercom button one more time, I am going to call the cops” – A customer’s response to the third time I hit the intercom button at their gated house in Australia. This was the one and only time I pushed too hard trying to get in somebody’s door to discuss the encyclopedia program I was selling.

#7 Back in the day, a co-worker was out a little late one night during a trade show on the road and had a few too many refreshments. When his “wake up call” came,  he picked up the phone, quickly hung up and struggled to the shower. One problem.. it was the middle of the night, and the phone call was their mother-in-law saying his wife had gone in to labour late that night and had the baby.

#8 I had a “communication breakdown” with two experienced reps that I called “My Two Dads” about picking them up for a trade show. I called their hotel room a couple of times – no answer. They were not down in the lobby either. So I left them at the hotel. I can still vividly recall one of them glaring at me intensely as the President of the Company commented on their tardiness!

Wow! I could probably have Part 2 & 3 of this later. That’s all for today. Have a great weekend everyone!

Are You A True Sales Professional?

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Selling has always been in my blood, and I became a sales rep for the first time in 1999. Since then, I have learned a “couple” lessons along the way performing several different roles. Sales reps sell products and/or services, and can make a good living. In addition to the standard responsibilities, true sales professionals achieve more success by taking their game to another level and have long, prosperous careers. Which one do you want to be?

Having a complete understanding of sales cycles, and mastering product knowledge is imperative for success. Most companies only focus on product training, because that is what everyone does. While others also give insight on sales processes from first greeting/meeting all the way through closing the sale.

That is where things get scary!  Many reps get a false sense of security that this is all they need to know to become successful. In reality, this knowledge only equips them to be “run-of-the-mill” sales reps. The world is full of “status quo lovers”. The following information will give you the potential to become a true sales professional and exceed goals for years to come.

#1 Consult, Don’t Regurgitate

Your job is to sell products and/or services, but people don’t like being sold to. How weird is that? The faster you learn that listening during a customer/prospect interaction is more important than speaking, you will be well ahead of the curve. When you become a consultant providing solutions to their current situation, success will follow shortly. Anyone can regurgitate information and spew it out. Just ask the student who memorized textbooks and got straight A’s, but could not cut it in their chosen profession.

#2 Share, Celebrate and Support

The “relationships” aspect of a sales team is critical to its overall success. You need to give unconditionally, and not be afraid to share ideas and concepts with each other.  I always love to share templates for presentations, bulletins that I distribute to customers or various ideas that help improve my territory.  If you can make your co-workers lives’ easier, why wouldn’t you? The good karma will come back some day. Celebrate each other’s victories, and don’t you dare get jealous if your colleagues get better results!  Put together recovery plans to improve ASAP.

Things don’t always turn out the way that we want them too, so be there to support each other when failure occurs. Keep communication lines open to move past bumps in the road. And last but not least, treat inside sales and support groups with the utmost respect! They are pivotal to the team’s overall success, and are not personal assistants.

#3 Manage Time, Plan and Prioritize

I underestimated the power of being exceptional in this area for a long time, and it affected my results earlier in my career. Planning a schedule as far ahead as a month or more makes things flow better. Putting emphasis on getting out of the office regularly at scheduled times keeps you on track. Paperwork and other less urgent items can be handled before or after prime selling hours. I once worked for a manager who stacked the sales rep’s desks in the warehouse to emphasize that he did not want them in the office for very long in the morning! An extreme action, but he made his point loud and clear.

I always make the disclaimer that priorities over-ride schedules with the following example. If you have a lunch booked with a prospect where the potential is unknown, and your largest customer has a crisis shortly before the appointment, what would you do? You have to understand who your biggest customers are, and the level of service that they need. By the way, do you spend 80% of your time with the 20% of your customers who buy the most? If not, it is time to adjust your schedule and give them the attention they deserve.

#4 Fly Under The Radar, Don’t Be “On It”

Early in my career I had a Sales Manager tell me that one of the best indicators if a rep was doing a good job, is if they rarely heard from the rep’s customers. Be very responsive to your customer’s needs, and take care of them in a timely fashion. If you need help, get it. Never blame others in your organization if they do not respond to you and a customer is left waiting. It is your responsibility to get things taken care of, no excuses!

Keep up to date on everything that your manager requests. It may be weekly call reports, inputting of sales calls and/or opportunities in to a CRM (customer relationship management) program, or general administrative items. Successful sales people always do what is asked of them, even if they don’t like to.

#5 The Path of “Most Resistance” Pays Dividends

Anyone can take the path of least resistance. It is easy to only deal with customers who have great relationships with you and your company, and only sign up prospects that there was little effort involved. But what about handling those difficult customers in your territory, or bringing on prospects where things were more challenging? From those clients, huge growth can occur. In one role I had, the previous sales rep stopped calling on a long-standing account because he was not getting along with the staff. Sales plummeted. From the time I came on board, it only took two years for the account to become the largest in my territory.

Over time, you will acquire “street-smarts” and know when to walk away from business, but more importantly when to move forward when the potential is right before you. Don’t hide behind email or text messaging when problems arise. Face-to-Face is still the best way to communicate, and sometimes you “have to take a punch” to make things right.

#6 Customers And Prospects Are Human Beings Too

It is easy to see through reps whose only agenda is to close sales as quickly as possible, with minimal effort. But the secret is to really get to know customers on a personal level, and make them feel important. It is common knowledge that people like to deal with those they like, know and trust, so take steps to solidify relationships as soon as possible. Get to know special details about customer’s families, their hobbies or even what they take in their coffee. Take notes, keep files and refer back to them before each meeting. I guarantee that they will be impressed with what you remembered, and there is a very good chance that your competitors did not take those lengths to learn about them.

Becoming a true sales professional takes time, and long-term commitment to grow and learn every day. Sales reps tend to be negatively stereotyped, but those that stand out from the crowd, truly care about their customers and can be counted on at a moment’s notice will always be in demand.

Are you in this for just a job, or a long, prosperous career? You make the choice.

My Favourite 5 Posts Of 2013 – #3 “QuickSand”

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I have been lucky enough to work out of a home office for 11 of the last 13 years. The two years that I had an office to report in to, I would get stuck in traffic daily. It gave me many opportunities to look at other people’s faces, as their days were off to very “slow” starts too.

Some looked sad; others looked angry or frustrated, some had blank stares or even looked dazed. On occasion, some were smiling, while others where actually singing! It blew my mind how many people looked unhappy though. Is it realistic to believe that all of them looked that way because they were unhappy going to work? Of course not. Some must have been dealing with other issues too (some were of course frustrated by the continual traffic jams).

Most studies report that 7 or 8 out of 10 people do not like their jobs! One study in the sales profession showed that more than 50% of people should not even be sales at all! Are you one of those people getting out of bed dreading the next 8 to 12 hours every day?

Internet marketer Gary Vaynerchuk changed his entire career path because he was only 99% happy in his situation at the time. To me, that was an incredibly powerful statement. As people become more and more unhappy with their jobs over the months, years or even decades, it is like they are sinking further and further into quicksand. The more unhappy they get, the deeper they sink. On the odd occasion that they try to change jobs, they try a bit, then just stop trying all together.

People typically want to make the switch, but “life gets in the way”. A job search gets put on the back burner. Others lack confidence, and don’t feel that they are good enough to have a shot at “career satisfaction”. Too many people settle for the status quo, and don’t take action. Some stay in a career that they just don’t like, becoming a “work robot” completing the same repetitive tasks at nauseum, for what seems like an eternity.

The next thing they know, five, ten or 20+ years have passed, and then wake up one day saying, “What the heck am I still doing here?” I can tell you from experience that being comfortable in a role that “pays the bills” does not equal happiness. Not even close.

When you are in love with your career, you should rarely be counting down the minutes until the end of the day, week, or until holidays start. I had a manager tell me that you should be excited to go to work, from the moment your feet hit the floor each morning. So many people over the years have said that “every day should feel like a Saturday”, or “your work should not feel like a job”.

It can be a good practice to check in with yourself now and then.

  • How happy are you with your career?
  • Is it heading in the direction you would like it to?

If you feel “sunk”, the good news is you can always change your path going forward.

Remember, “You don’t drown by falling in water. You only drown by staying there.” – Zig Ziglar

  • What does your perfect job look like (yes, you can have the perfect job)?
  • How does that list compare to the job you’re currently in?
  • What one step can you take today to move towards loving your job?

 

 

When Will You “Cash In” Your “Personal Lottery Win?”

The national lottery in Canada was an astonishing $100 million in October 2012. I buy tickets from time to time, but 6-8 times per year is usually my maximum. My “big win” was sharing $300 with my parents and in-laws a few years ago. It was fun to walk in the door and throw all the money in the air like I had really won big time!

The good part of playing the lottery for myself is that it is only for fun. I am not expecting to win anything, and if I happen to win a little something (like a free ticket last week) then bonus.

I heard a comment on an audio interview two years ago from internet marketing sensation Eben Pagan. It has resonated for me most days since. Many people are waiting for that ONE PAYDAY. That one day during their life that they cash in and do not have to do anything for the rest of their days.

Examples include a lottery win, a legal settlement or an inheritance. In terms of lotteries specifically, what realistically are your chances of ever cashing in on a major win in a country like Canada, or the infamous Powerball in the USA? Heck, lotteries happen all over the world, it could happen anywhere.

I interpreted Eben’s comments as most people are just waiting, hoping – banking on that one great payday that will change their lives forever. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but it will not happen for most of us! EVER.

What about a “personal lottery win?” I don’t mean the millions of dollars that could be won on a national lottery. I mean the extra $500, $1000, or even $2000+ that you could make supplementing your current income?

Imagine how your life would change month after month, year after year if you had some extra money flowing in to your household? To me, that is a “personal lottery win”. You would not be waiting anymore. Rather making changes as soon as possible to take fate in to your hands, and not relying on colored balls in a machine to shape your future.

The internet has an incredible amount of resources that can help you to find areas that you may like to focus on for reoccurring streams of income. People are doing it every day, and those that do very well, end up doing it full-time. The amount of get rich quick schemes out there is astonishing, but if you ever want to know who the quality resources are (so you don’t have to waste your time), send me an email at:

TimMushey@gmail.com

I will let you know who “my guys” are. This group of people have the best content available to help you evaluate ideas about additional income streams.

A great message this morning about never giving up! Have a great day…

Job Search Day 3 – Are You Starting To See Dollar Signs?

Hiring managers can “occasionally” overstate potential compensation packages with a sales role during the interview process. Before you have even started the job, you begin to envision how well you are going to do, even before evaluating if it is an achievable goal. I have taken it so far as envisioning how my life will be if I made that amount of money! Silly, but these thoughts can happen if you start to get ahead of yourself.

The success may well happen early on, but realistically it will take longer, possibly years to get up to that level of compensation consistently. Everyone develops in a role at different speeds, and many factors can come in to play regarding earning potential.

They are always people who thrive and over achieve quickly, but they are in the minority. A good question for the hiring manager in the interview process is,

“What are the realistic total compensation numbers (on average) in the first three years on the job?”

If you have little savings, or limited ability to pay for expenses now, you need to consider what size of salary you take, compared to potential commissions and bonuses.

I got a hard dose of reality with this type of situation in one of the roles that I accepted.

I was given a ball park idea of how the previous rep had done in the territory the year before, and it was a fantastic number! I started to see lots and lots of dollar signs! It definitely blurred my vision.

I was very confident in my abilities by that point in my career, and felt great about the role. There was a small issue that the hiring manager failed to mention. The previous rep negotiated to keep all the large accounts in the territory when he moved to another region. These accounts contributed greatly to the overall compensation.

Not only did the previous rep negotiate to keep many of the high producing accounts, the pay plan changed 4 months after I started, taking a good chunk out of the earning potential that was so desirable when I started the job. Things can change in a heartbeat, and it is best to underestimate what you will earn for the first couple of years, and decide from there if you are still comfortable taking the role.

This is especially CRITICAL when you need money right away and accept a role with 100% commission or a limited base salary.

My First Sales Video Interview – Getting To Know Tim

This is an interview that I did with Michael Kroll from The Sales Effect in Edmonton, Canada last fall.

We discuss my sales career, my theories and strategies on selling and some of my networking via social media.

This is a great way to get to know me a bit, since many of us have not had a chance to chat in “real time” yet.

Enjoy!

6 Categories of Sales Reps – Which One Are You?

It is easy to say that a “rep is a rep”, but when I dug deeper over the years, there are many “personas” that they could take on.  True performers typically elevate their game from “just a rep” to “sales professional” and ultimately “superstar” over a shorter period of time.

I compiled a list of the six categories of reps after being part of several sales teams over the years:

  • Raw rookies
  • Future superstars
  • Superstars
  • Steady Eddies
  • “What have you done for me latelys?”
  • Underachievers 

Raw Rookies

Raw rookies may be new to a role, or brand new to the sales profession. They are hopefully eager to learn, and make every attempt to work well with their team mates and managers as soon as possible. The first three months tend to be a little rough on raw rookies, as they are inundated with a barrage of product training and possibly other teachings. If they are not given the necessary support to become successful early in their time with a company, they are probably “thrown to the wild” and asked to fend for themselves. The first three months tends to decide a raw rookies’ fate, and management can quickly tell if the interview process was a true indicator of what was to come.

Future Superstars

Future Superstars can show signs early on if they are going to be successful. Typical signs are how they carry themselves, how eager they are to learn the role, and how engaging they are with coworkers, management and customers. They realize that it is going to take some time to understand the organization, and their products and/or services. But they know as long as they make the customer their #1 priority, things will eventually fall in to place. Future superstars will put the team before themselves, and never lose site of the fact that their day-to-day goal is to sell stuff and exceed budget.

Superstars

Superstars show a lot of the characteristics that I have described under “Future Superstars”, but have achieved above average results for a longer time. Can somebody be characterized as a superstar after 3-12 months on the job? Probably not.  Any rep can fluke out and have a great few months, and then come back down to earth soon after. But if they have successfully achieved for 12 – 24 months in the same role, I would deduce that is it not a coincidence. Superstars just get the job done and continue to raise the bar to the next level. They are never satisfied, and are always looking for their next challenge to grow and succeed.

Steady Eddies

Steady Eddies can be relatively new sales reps, or seasoned veterans who have been around years. Their results do not fluctuate much from month to month, or year to year. Their consistent results make them a very dependable and reliable group that can always be counted on. They typically turn down promotions, especially for managerial roles, because they are comfortable working their territories as individuals, and like to be left alone to do their jobs.

What have you done for me latelys?

If you are a child of the ‘80’s like me, you may realize that this category was inspired by the classic 1986 Janet Jackson song of a similar name!

“What have you done for me latelys?” are very similar to sports stars that are past their prime, but are still being rewarded for what they have done before. They could be described as “lame duck” employees, who should be fired, but are not for many reasons. It has become public knowledge that they are not performing their job duties up to the standards that they set for themselves in the past, but some business is still coming in based on their reputation in the market place. In many cases they are counting the days until retirement; or for those not of retirement age, they are counting the days until they get fired.

Underachievers

Underachievers are not getting the job done. They never have. There could be many reasons for this, and the list is too long to assess in this post! At the end of the day, it will result in termination; it is only a matter of time. Some tend to have “nine lives” and dodge being fired longer than many expect. But in the end, they will be looking for another job, possibly even in a different profession!

  • If you are not in the sales profession yet, do you have what it takes to become a Superstar in this exciting line of work?
  • If you are in sales, what type of rep are you now, and what type should you be?
    • What changes to you have to make ASAP if it does not say “Superstar” on your business card?

I really enjoyed this post today from Kayla Cruz and corresponding video by Shawn Achor. Have a read and listen when you have some time. Let’s not be “average”.

Gen Y Girl

Let me start off by saying that I’m a huge fan of these Ted Talks.

I saw this one today and thought I’d share.

Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think, Inc., researches and teaches about positive psychology.

Positive psychology… It seems to be a topic of great interest lately.

There are thousands of books teaching people things like how to be happy… how to make the best out of really crappy situations… that your attitude determines your success.

Well it does, but that’s not what I want to write about at the moment.

Achor makes many great points in his talk, but the one that I really loved was his emphasis on the fact that we need to stop focusing on the average (start the video at about 4 mins).

You see, when it comes to business and success, it’s no secret that some people and some companies are…

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