Hunting Big Sales with Tom Searcy

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Latest "Personal Development" Posts

Problem-Solving Trick: Ask the Right Question


When a project gets stuck, the obstacle usually falls into one of these three categories.

When groups of people get stuck on a problem–whether over culture, systems, process, understanding, or something else–the best solutions can come from asking the right questions.

This question, cited in Big Change at Best Buy (by Elizabeth Gibson and Andy Billings), is one of my favorites: “Is this an issue of heart, head, or hands?”

  • Heart: Do you have the will, passion, leadership, or clarity of goal to rally the people to the task?
  • Head: Does your team have the available capabilities, knowledge, processes, experience, and other components necessary to overcome the obstacle?
  • Hands: Do you have the right resources (in the right quantities) to make this happen?

The first step in solving a problem is correctly diagnosing it. As a facilitator, I often watch groups jump past this diagnostic step in an effort to find a quick, silver-bullet answer. Although this is understandable, it’s not ultimately helpful: Getting the right answer to the wrong problem is the wrong answer.

Using the Technique

If you are in a meeting or brainstorming session and the group is in a repetitive or circular discussion about a problem, ask the “heart, head, or hands” question.

There may be some disagreement–a failure in one area could be causing other ones, for instance–but you can usually come to an answer as to the primary obstacle. Start with that one first. After you’ve resolved it, you can work your way through the other two.

Posted by Tom Searcy in, Personal Development.

How to Beat CEO Burnout


Anyone can have a bad day. But when you’re the boss, you need to figure out how to get your energy back.

“I get up every day excited about my company, my work, my customers, and what we are doing!”

Do you say this? How often? And: Is this how you really feel?

I confess, I say it almost all the time–but I mean it less often than I say it. There are times when I just get tired of being CEO. It’s not often, but let’s face it: Being CEO is a hard job. When it stays hard for a while, that’s when I get tired.

The causes, I think, are common: I worry over suppliers, employees, customers, cash flow, regulation–and the fact that everything takes too *&^% long! These frustrations are pretty typical of most small and midsize companies. Even if you have a very small business with almost no staff, there are times when day-to-day concerns can wear you out.

What to Do

Here are a few ways to cope with occasional burnout.

  • Acknowledge it: If you find yourself going through a period when your job as CEO looks more like burden than pleasure, you have to admit it. That doesn’t mean you give up, but it may indicate that you need to make some changes.
  • Get the data: Review your work and calendar for a few recent weeks. Make a list of your main activities, and note which tasks are giving you energy and which rob you of energy.

Posted by Tom Searcy in, Leadership, Personal Development.

A cure for toxic salesperson syndrome

The sales world is full of jerks, but psychologist Dr. Bruce Heller says they can be rehabilitated

Posted by admin in Hiring/Firing/Paying, MoneyWatch, Personal Development, Sales Strategy.

Prepare for Obamacare: 4 Tips

The entire economy and a vast number of businesses are impacted by Obamacare. Here’s my take on how those in the healthcare industry and beyond will be affected.

The honest answer is that no one knows. Seriously.

But during my travels around the country I have discussed the impact of Obamacare with CEOs in healthcare systems, doctors, politicians, insurance companies and every type of imaginable supplier to the healthcare system. There is not a guaranteed outcome any one of them will bet their house on. However, there are a few consistent opinions that make sense.

One caveat: all of these are opinions, though widely held, of business people trying to sort out the business impact of the SCOTUS ruling. These are not policy statements or political opinions.

1. There are going to be more customers.

You may be thinking “duh!” For most of the professionals with whom I have spoken in the healthcare industry, an overall increase of as many as 30 million new customers is going to be business impacting. Most of the players in the industry saw their stock price jump since April and then bigger bumps this week as the ruling came out–service providers especially. These are in part because they just saw their customer’s customer base increase dramatically.

2. It’s going to take time.

Stocks are bouncing based upon a future improvement, not a change in customer volumes today. This process, its impact at the state and local level, the paperwork and administrative components are all out in the future by months or more.

Posted by Tom Searcy in, Personal Development.

The truth about liars

There are times when prospects might not be telling the truth about their position in negotiations – here are the red flags and how to approach them

Posted by admin in MoneyWatch, Personal Development, Prospecting, Sales Skills.

Sales champions work like magic

Securing a champion in your prospect company is critical to ensuring you will seal the deal.

Posted by admin in MoneyWatch, Personal Development, Prospecting, Sales Skills.

How to Ask Your Bank for Money

You’re not pitching the upside–you’re alleviating fears about downside risk. Make sure you know the difference.

The process of asking for money is deceptively straightforward, but as in most things, the details matter.

I encourage business owners who are applying for a loan from their bank to include a simple attachment–a summary, written in very direct language–along with the bank’s required form.

Remember, you are not selling your business as an investment vehicle for the bank. You are creating confidence that the bank’s money will be repaid. And to gain that confidence, they need to understand several things at a basic level.

1. What your business is: On your first page, explain the market you serve, the competitors in that space, the value you bring, and why your business will be successful. Do it all in one page: Your banker is smart, but busy. This has to be a business that your banker and the loan committee can easily understand, so that they have enough confidence to lend money. Simple and short is better.

2. How much money you need–and how you will use it: It is fine to make a simple list of items and the associated amounts of money. Possible items on your list: equipment to purchase, a marketing campaign investment, a new facility build-out estimate, and working capital to support payroll and other expenses. Be sure to attach supporting budgets.

3. How you will pay the money back: I am surprised when I receive business plans, forecasts and investment documents with murky numbers and unclear thinking in this area.

Posted by Tom Searcy in, Personal Development.

Productivity Trick: Pick Your Best 2 Hours

If you aren’t getting enough done in your day–and who is?–try this time management technique.

Not all hours are created equal. Some hours produce more net value–for you, your customers and your firm–than others. As my old partner liked to say, “Some of my hours are priceless and some of them are worthless.”

In looking at the most effective executives, leaders and business owners I know, I notice many of them are very careful with their time. This includes the appointments they set or take, the meetings they have, organizations to which they belong and the activities they fill their day with.

Look at your appointment calendar from last week. In every day there were probably only two hours of high productivity. Use the following steps to make the most of them.

1. Figure Out Your Time

Rank your activities over the course of the week into three categories: High Value, Low Value and No Value. The value standard is what produces value to the customer. Most of us do not think about our jobs as what we get done, but rather what we do. But highly productive people think in outcomes first and activities second.

2. Decide What Is Valuable

I was recently working with someone whose time literally fell into thirds when measured against those categories. Getting to a place where you spend 100% of your time in the High Value category is probably unrealistic. But what if you could move one hour per day out of No Value into Low Value, and one hour from Low to High Value?

Posted by admin in, Leadership, Personal Development.

Feeling Old? 3 Ways to Lower Your Mental Age

Step 1: Get a mentor who’s 10 (or more) years younger than you. See the other tips.

A friend of mine came back from a national meeting of sales leaders in her industry and sent me a very frank and telling note.

Here’s an excerpt:

Wow.  How things have changed.  The guys who were at the top of the sales food chain in 1998 (35 to 45 years old, white, male, making $100,000 bases and $250,000 and up in commissions) have almost all fallen fast and fallen hard.  Some are completely unemployed (not retired, but unemployed).  However, the bulk of them have had three to four different jobs in the last six years.  It is apparent that they are hired for 18 to 30 months so that the company that hired them can get introduced to their entire Rolodex; then they are eased out and replaced with a much younger (cheaper) sales person.

You can blame a lot of this on the national economy and what it has done to the industry, but I think there is more to it. So many of those guys have such a wealth of knowledge of the industry, so much confidence/fearlessness and yes, a huge number of contacts–but a lot of them have become tired, jaded and uninspired. No wonder their jobs are all short term!

Meanwhile, the “young” salespeople at this meeting have so much energy, enthusiasm, creativity and technological acumen.   Who makes the better investment as a salesperson?

So after thinking about it for some time, I’ve decided that what I personally need to be is a salesperson who has the confidence, contacts and knowledge of an old experienced salesman with all of the technical savvy, energy and creativity of a young saleswoman. 

Posted by admin in, Personal Development.

8 Old-School Rules for Gen Y

Younger & older workers have different rules & expectations. Here’s what Gen Y should learn from more senior colleagues.

I work in a multi-generational office, with a 70-year-old, 40somethings and early 20somethings.

This makes for lots of lively discussions of differences in habits, professional standards and the like. From that has emerged a list of things that the newer generation of employees can learn from the more senior generation. (You’ll note I avoided the world “older.”)

1. Wake up earlier. You may have had a schedule you set in college, but now the work world has its own schedule: Not only do you need to show up for it, but you need to be awakeand highly functioning. Attendance is only graded in the negative; performance is what is graded in the positive.

2. Details matter. Grammar, spelling, dress, and communication form and structure all matter. “They know what I mean” shows sloppy work and sloppy thinking. In a world that moves faster and is more deeply connected, little missed details can lead to big mistakes.

3. Experience trumps education. Your degree is very important to you, your parents and your professors. But experience in the field is what matters in the real world. We are not as interested in your classwork as in your internship, your job, and your life, travel and personal experiences. Lead with your experience when contributing a point of view to have more credibility and impact.

4. Never be too good to get the coffee.

Posted by admin in, Personal Development.