Dan Antonelli

Your Look. Your Personality. Your Brand Voice.

The best brands connect with consumers and build long-term relationships through carefully crafted and controlled messaging. A logo, alone, is not enough. You see – once a small business has a strong logo, it’s important to bring the brand to life by developing a brand voice. No matter how small the business, putting a face behind the brand and building a brand voice is key to driving the conversation, building relationships, and standing out from the crowd.

Even more, a clear brand voice transforms a brand from just a product or service into a personality that’s consistent with the business’s values, target audiences and advertising goals. A brand voice can be used to inform all messaging choices a small business brand must make, from brochures and print advertisements to website content and social media interactions.

Why Is a Brand Voice Important for Small Business?


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About the Author

Dan AntonelliDan Antonelli has over 20 years’ experience in small business logo design and marketing strategy. As CEO and Creative Director of Graphic DSigns, Inc., The Small Business Advertising Agency®, he’s helped nearly a thousand individual brands recognize the better side of business. The definitive industry expert on logo design for small business, Dan has authored three books on the subject, including his latest ‘Building a Big Small Business Brand’, and established his agency as the premier brand-building agency for small businesses nationwide.

StrategyDriven's Leadership Lessons from the United States Naval Academy

Leadership Lessons from the United States Naval Academy – Providing Effective Performance Feedback

StrategyDriven Leadership Lessons from the United States Naval AcademyMidshipman receive feedback numerous times a day during almost every activity in which they are involved. This feedback is intended to strengthen their performance and character; preparing them for the extreme challenges of leadership in combat and other high-risk situations.


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Jeffrey Gitomer

Breaking YES Attitude down, in order to build yours up!

This is the tenth anniversary of the Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. In this year’s edition – ironically the 10th printing of the book, I have added content, new ideas and new lessons.

Here’s one of the additions to get you thinking…

To make it easier for you to understand where your attitude actually is at this very moment, I’ve created a list for you to rate yourself. It breaks down your attitude into attributes. The key to this self-evaluation is your self-truth, and your willingness, on a scale of 1-10 (1 being the worst, 10 being the best), to rate your present situation in each of the attitude attributes listed below.

These ratings, better stated – these self-evaluations, will give you a “ground zero” beginning to understand the NOW position of your attitude, and where to work on getting to YES! It’s where you are right now, and specific places that you can begin to improve.

MIND THE GAP: As you rate yourself, you will develop gaps – or opportunities as I prefer to call them. If you rate yourself a 7 out of 10, your gap for improvement is 30%. And the more honest with yourself you are in your self-evaluations, the more gaps will appear.

Gaps are good. They provide SPECIFIC direction. They will tell you EXACTLY what needs improving.

Some of your self-evaluations may hurt a little bit, but the goal in this is to bring you to greater attitude awareness. Anywhere you score less than 6 is an area that needs real improvement. The good news is, as you improve each attribute, you narrow your gap, and your attitude becomes closer to YES!

Here are the attributes. Go slow. Think hard. Be honest.

Score | Attitude Attribute
____ Attitude of receptiveness. You are totally open to new ideas all the time, and eager to listen and self-evaluate.
____ Attitude of listening. You are positively listening with the intent to understand and question BEFORE you respond.
____ Attitude of friendliness. Your mindset is permanently adjusted to friendly and you greet everyone with a warm smile.
____ Attitude of willingness. You serve from your heart because you love to be of service. Serving makes you feel good.
____ Attitude of gratitude. Grateful for all gifts and opportunities that life has given you. How grateful are you? Really?
____ Attitude of awareness. Looking at all things around you, and seeing the bright side. Listening to all things around you, and seeing the bright side.
____ Attitude of enthusiasm. Full of visible happiness so strong it’s transferrable to others.
____ Attitude of cooperation. You’re a true team player that’s happy to help and eager to support and serve.
____ Attitude of positive anticipation. Believe things and people will go your way and have a great and positive outcome. Belief in YES!
____ Attitude of encouragement. Helping and encouraging others win actually helps you to win.
____ Attitude of desire. Your desire to succeed. Your desire to be of service. Your desire to be your best as a salesperson AND a person.
____ Attitude of achievement. Your drive to get what you’re working hard for, and be both happy and grateful when you do.
____ Attitude of harmony. Your ability to get along and be at peace with others, and be at peace with yourself.
____ Attitude of excellence. Striving to be your best at all times and be happy at the end of a hard day, a good day, or a tough day (there’s no such thing as a bad day).
____ Attitude of praise. Not receiving praise, giving praise. Genuine praise makes others feel good about themselves and gain self-confidence to continue.
____ Attitude of pride. Your personal pride owing to your state of mind, and your accomplishments.
____ Attitude of wonderment. Looking at the world and smiling in awe at its majesty. Content with yourself, your life, and your lot.
____ Attitude of kindness. Sharing, giving, helping and volunteering so that you feel great about yourself.
____ Attitude of acceptance. Taking the lemons, and figuring how to make lemonade.
____ Attitude of performance. Positive things happen because you make them happen.
____ Attitude of do the right thing. Striving to do well by doing right – by yourself and by others.
____ Attitude of forgiveness. A willingness to forgive is at the core of your inner peace and ultimately your positive inner feelings and thoughts. Forgiving will set you free.

Whew! There’s a dose of “opportunity thought.” You don’t need to add up your score. You’ve just painted your own inner picture. You know what it is, and no one else (except your family or spouse) really cares.

YES! CHALLENGE: You are the director and the producer of you. And you are up for an academy award nomination in the category of: BEST ATTITUDE.

I hope you win!

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

William Dann

Middle Management – The Leverage Point for Performance Improvement

Over 30 years of management consulting has made clear that the locus for a breakdown in performance improvement lies in middle management. Organizations focus on building executive teams with mixed records of success. First-line working groups tend to naturally coalesce as teams as they are doing the same work, share the same view of the organization, their customers, etc. But, the middle is often a desert between these two groups.

Middle managers oversee several functions which do not naturally come together as a team as is the case with front line groups. They are often not in the know and lack consultation regarding strategy by the executive team, so there is no shared reality there either.


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About the Author

William DannWilliam Dann is founder and president of Professional Growth Systems, LLC, (Anchorage, AK) and author of Creating High Performers: 7 Questions to Ask Your Direct Reports.

For more information visit ProfessionalGrowthSystems.com.

Sharon Drew Morgen

Buying Decisions, Buying Decision Path, Buy Cycles, and Pre-Sales

I’d like to set the record straight. In 1985 I coined terms that I’ve written extensively about in best selling books, magazines, and hundreds of articles. Unfortunately, when finally adopting them, the sales field defined them differently than originally intended, causing important concepts to be lost. This article presents the intended definitions and explains how I came to coin the terms.

In 1979 I became Rookie (stockbroker) of the Year at Merrill Lynch with 210 accounts (the market was 777). I couldn’t understand why prospects who ‘should have’ bought didn’t buy. When I started up a tech company in London in 1983 and became a ‘buyer’ I realized the problem and developed a new skill set to migrate it. Here’s how I figured it out.

HOW SALES IGNORES BEHIND-THE-SCENES BUYER’S REAL ISSUES

As an entrepreneur with needs, I invited sellers in to pitch me. But regardless of their professional skills or my potential need, I couldn’t decide what or if to buy before

  • the people involved shared their thoughts and concerns, and bought-in to any changes a new solution would involve,
  • we discerned any fallout to the company, relationships, people, policies etc. that change would incur and figure out ways to minimize it,
  • we tried workarounds and determined we couldn’t fix the problems with known resources.

Even though we were only a $5,000,000 company, I had a closely knit team and flourishing business to consider before bringing in anything that might rock the boat with my employees, investors, clients, company strategy, bottom line, brand, daily routines and systems. With a focus on placing solutions and ‘understanding’ needs (impossible to answer accurately until we all comprehended the scope of the givens) the sellers pitched solution data I didn’t know how to consider responsibly and potentially lost me as a buyer. That’s when I realized the problem I had had with buyers not closing:

The sales model focuses on placing solutions (seeking folks with a ‘need’ who ‘should’ buy) and ignores the confounding human-, policy-, and system-specific issues buyers must handle before a purchase could even be considered (folks who ‘will’ buy). By entering only during the final element of choice (vendor, solution), sellers squander the ability to influence the major portion of a buyer’s decision process which has little to do with needs or purchase.

Indeed, the sales model promotes the cart before prospects even know if they have a horse or have mapped out a destination, ensuring only those who have their cart ready to go (knew the obstructions, route alternatives, and danger signs) would buy. Promoting solutions, and asking questions in service of a sale, merely captures the low hanging fruit – those ready, willing, and able to buy – and ignores the possibility of influencing, enabling, and serving the early, Pre-Sales components in the decision-making path (whether selling/marketing online or through customer contact) – not to mention loses untold amount of business.

I realized all buyers must do this; and as I seller I had been sitting and waiting while buyers did this on their own, without me. Indeed, the time it took them to complete this was the length of the sales cycle. I figured if I could facilitate the buyer’s decision path, I could accelerate their decisions to ‘buy’ or ‘not buy’, stop wasting time, close more sales (quickly) and really serve. So I coded the entire change/decision arc (13 Steps, 9 of which [70% of the decision process] are outside the scope of how/what we sell), learned how systems make decisions to change, coined some new terms and developed some new models for questioning and listening without bias, and built this into a front end to sales so I could enter, facilitate/serve, and influence, earlier. I named this process Buying Facilitation® to denote the difference in focus between ‘selling’ and ‘buying’ and help buyers do the initial stuff they had to do anyway, but without sellers:

  • assemble all appropriate stakeholders ((Buying Decision Team) to get their input;
  • get consensus for types and levels of change manageable;
  • research options;
  • discover easy, economical workarounds where possible;
  • decide how to identify handle any disruption a new addition would cause;
  • weight risks with stakeholders to discern the efficacy of buying anything (Buy Cycle);
  • choose solutions and vendors.

To be fair, the sales job has never been about facilitating change, using a restrictive ‘solution-placement’ model since its inception without recognizing the low close and enormous time wastage is anything more than a problem finding buyers. This singular focus has been so endemic that sales hasn’t accounted for either the idiosyncratic issues buyers must address prior to buying anything (even for inexpensive items) or the opportunity to influence and serve buyers much earlier than the final point they might reach to buy, believing that if they find creative ways to offer content earlier it will mitigate the problem. But it doesn’t.

The industry close rate of 4% has always been an indication of a problem: the centuries-old bias toward placing solutions (How can we accept a 96% failure rate [from first contact] as standard?) ensures all sales models, including Challenger, create resistance, potentially turn off real buyers who need your solution (80% of prospects buy a similar product within 2 years of your interaction), and ignore the ability to influence 70% of the Buying Decision Path.

Indeed, buyers don’t want to buy anything, they just want to resolve a problem congruently, without major disruption to that which works well. Indeed a purchase happens only when there is no alternate resolution; and we haven’t had a skill set that blends with the sales model to help: except for visionary areas within the global companies I’ve trained over the last 30 years, the sales field found my ideas and newly coined terms pointless. But sellers who added Buying Facilitation® to their sales activities experience upward of a 6x increase in sales as they truly facilitate buying decisions. My dream has always been that Buying Facilitation® be taught as part of sales training for all sales professionals.

Buying Facilitation® Facilitates 70% of Buyer’s Decisions

I taught my sales team how to add Buying Facilitation® to their current sales skills; we quickly experienced a 40% increase in sales (from first call) and I only needed half the sales staff. My tech team used the material to involve all the right people immediately and extract the most vital information quickly, making programming and implementing more efficient, and insuring early project completion and no ‘user errors’. I began teaching the material to clients, coaches, and managers.

Approximately five years ago my terms began entering the sales field. But, as happens when a new idea enters mainstream, the terms were not defined as I defined them, but re-defined to be a part of the very concepts I was fighting against.

Terms Defined

I have no illusions that the mis-definitions will continue and some mainstream sellers will think they ‘do this’ already. Hopefully some folks will seek to learn the material (and training is required as the model employs entirely different thinking and skills). But just for my own piece of mind, I’m offering the definitions of the terms I coined in 1985. They include some form of the word ‘buy’ to denote the disparity between the act of buying and the process of selling. And the underlying belief is that as sellers we should be using our unique positions as corporate representatives and knowledge experts to be servant leaders and truly serve buyers to discover their own path to excellence, hopefully, ultimately, with our solution (But if not, we end quickly and gently. Otherwise, we close in half the time.).

Buying Facilitation®. A generic change management model for coaches, sellers, managers, etc.) that enables efficient, congruent change, that employs a specific type of listening (Listening for Systems), and new form of question (Facilitative Questions – not information gathering), used in a specific, coded sequence, for facilitators to enable excellence through congruent change. It manages all of the unconscious, upfront, endemic change issues that would have to accede for change to happen. Until buyers (or anyone) know how to manage this, they cannot agree to change/buy, hence the length of the current sales cycle.

Helping Buyers Buy. The term comes from the first Buying Facilitation® training I delivered in 1988 to KLM. By ‘helping buyers buy’ we facilitate the full Pre-Sales Buying Decision Path.

Buying Decisions/Process. The outcome of resolving all of the change/decision issues into an action: consensus of all stakeholders who will touch the new solution; the route forward to change without disruption or resistance; deciding to move beyond their workaround; AND THEN the solution/vendor choice issues. The term is being misdefined by sales to merely include vendor/solution choice issues.

Buying Decision Path. 13 steps that traverse the elements of change management: starting with an idea (Step 1) through to a purchase (Step 13). It includes people, systems, implementation, resistance, workarounds, relationships – and comes well before any decision is made to buy anything, and quite separate from any ‘need’. The sales field uses this term erroneously to denote how buyers choose one vendor/solution over another, line up the funds, etc. – a usage dynamically opposite to the original definition.

Buy Cycle. The entire set of givens necessary for buyers to end up with excellence (either internally or with a purchase). Again, it’s not only the solution/vendor choice issues.

Buying Decision Team. The full set of stakeholders – some not obvious, some not ‘decision makers’ – who will touch the final solution and need to add their ideas, concerns, knowledge, and feelings to the discussion. Usually sellers (or change agents) aren’t privy to the internal machinations necessary before a purchase (or any change) can happen. Hence the 4% close rate.

Buying Patterns. The way the buyer has traditionally bought/changed in the past. Do they always use known vendors? Will they never take cold calls or meetings with sellers? Sellers traditionally use their comfortable selling patterns and cannot connect with buyers with divergent buying patterns.

Marketers currently use the term Buyer Persona to denote ‘influencers’ who will enable a sale. This ignores most of the early decisions buyers make and keeps marketing from entering effectively much earlier. Using different types of content it’s quite possible to influence different points along the Buying Decision Path.

Time for Change

Think about it. Are you happy with your low close rate? Your horrific waste of time and resource running around after people who will never buy (and who you could know on the first call weren’t buyers) or responding to RFPs that fail? The time waste seeking prospects who will take an appointment only to have one person on a data gathering mission show up – and then you never hear from them again (not to mention the hours planning for the meeting!)? Have you never wondered where buyers go when YOU think they have a need?

The current sales model closes a fraction of people who need your solution, and costs much more than necessary on wasted resources (large sales forces, presentations, proposals). The problem isn’t finding the buyers; the problem is facilitating those who can buy. As an example, using Buying Facilitation® at Kaiser, sellers went from 110 visits and 18 closed sales in a month, to 27 visits and 25 closed sales, an increase of 600%, not to mention the time saving.

I go back to the original question I posed decades ago: Do you want to sell? Or have someone buy? They are two different activities. And I’ve developed terms that help sellers think through the steps that help buyers buy. Maybe it’s time to begin learning the ‘how’ of helping buyers buy, the ‘what’ of the buying decision path, and the ‘who’ of the buying decision team. Let’s begin using the terms properly and stop ignoring such a large piece of the puzzle.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. (www.newsalesparadigm.com). She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

To contact Sharon Drew at [email protected] or go to www.didihearyou.com to choose your favorite digital site to download your free book.