Forget About Your Strengths – The Real Money is in Your Weaknesses

Many years ago I attended a motivational program on how to focus and build upon your strengths and to spend no time developing your weaknesses.  I’m glad I didn’t listen, and here’s why you should focus on your weaknesses.

1. The Greatest Potential for Growth is in Developing Your Weaknesses – If you are naturally good at something, for example let’s say you are really, really , excellent at networking, there are many gurus that theorize that you should spend more time developing your talent of networking with people and little to no time on the areas in which you are weaker.  The problem with this theory is that if you are already good at networking, there is not as much room for growth as there is in working on an area that you do not excel at.  For example, let’s say that on a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being the best, you are an 8 at networking.  If you pour all of your time and energy into developing this talent, you are only going to increase slightly to get to the 10.  On the other hand, let’s say that on a scale of 1 -10 you are a 2 in using technology.  If you develop this skill, you have the potential for improving by 8 points, not just 2. Those who agree with conventional business theories would tell you to delegate out anything that has to do with technology since this is your weakness.  They would advise you not to bother developing your technology skill because you can just pay someone else to do that for you, giving you the opportunity to build upon your skill of networking.  This makes no sense to me.

I take the exact opposite stance and would advise any budding entrepreneur to develop your technology skill up to a higher level.  Do what comes natural to you in networking since your good at it anyway. Any additional skill required for networking should be delegated because you are better off developing a skill that allows for greater improvement than the minimal 2 point improvement that perfecting your talent for networking would allow for.

2. Developing Your Weaknesses = Developing Your Strengths: If you develop your weaknesses, you will also develop your strengths even further.  My strengths twenty years ago: (1) Empathy for others, (2) Strong work ethic, (3) Listening.  My weaknesses at that time were (1) Major fear of public speaking, (2) I hated selling anything, (3) Fear of flying.  After leaving that motivational seminar and ignoring all of the sage advice of that guru, I set in motion on a path which lead me to lots of new strengths that I have today including a love for public speaking, selling, and flying around the world.  I can’t imagine my life today if I hadn’t developed a love for things that I feared twenty years ago.  As well, I’m still strong in the areas I was originally strong at including empathy, work ethic, and listening.  All of the new strengths that I developed spilled over to help me become even stronger in the areas that came naturally.  Today, I’d rate myself an 8 or 9 in all six areas rather than 9 or 10 in three areas and 1 or 2 in the others.

3. SWOT – Surely you have heard of the SWOT Analysis where businesses, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals do a detailed study of their business to determine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  Since we are talking here about developing weaknesses, picture two different businesses.

Business A: This business does a SWOT Analysis and decides to move forward just focusing on its strengths and opportunities.  This business ignores the weaknesses in favor of building a stronger business by just concentrating on things they are already good at.

Business B: This business does a SWOT Analysis and decides to move forward by delegating the task of pursuing the strengths and opportunities to a team that can cultivate the areas that the business already excels at.  The rest of the ownership team, senior management, and top talent at the organization has one job – eliminate the weaknesses.

Which business would you rather work for, the one that has weaknesses (ie threats) or the one that has none?  For me it’s simple.  The company that has eliminated the weaknesses is the winner hands down.  In fact, once weaknesses are eliminated, even more time and attention can be spent on developing all the strengths (new and old).

Being a New Englander, my blog would not be complete without some reference to one of our sports teams.  New England Patriot’s Quarterback, Tom Brady, who has lead the Pats to the Superbowl on five occasions, winning three,  was drafted by the Montreal Expos Baseball Team right out of high school.  That’s right, it turns out that Brady had quite the talent for baseball.  So, maybe not so much for the rest of the country, but right here in New England, we are quite thankful that he didn’t pursue his strengths, but rather started developing new ones in his junior year at college.

If there is one concession to my theory that I might offer it is this: If you are an aspiring Olympian, world class cellist, or PGA golfer, your time is probably better spent developing your talent so that you are really good at just one thing.  In those fields, going from 8 to a 10 means the difference between winning and losing.  That’s just not the case in sales, entrepreneurship, or business.  No, when it comes to making money in everyday business, profits are maximized by becoming really proficient at everything.  Going from an 8 to a 10 in one area won’t earn you more.  Going from a 2 to an 8 in several areas will be the difference between a a profit and loss statement that is black as opposed to red.

In conclusion, if there’s one additional tiny piece of advice I could impart, it is this: Learning from others is good, but always remember, be your own guru.

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Why You Make What You Make – This Should Scare You

As a consultant to many mid-level and large businesses, and a coach to sales professionals across several types of industries, one question that I constantly get is, “How can I be more profitable?”  There are hundreds of ways to increase the profitability of an organization or personal sales business including better time management, delegation, and product/client specialization.  There is, however,  one very simple way to make more money, and for some reason, this is always the one that is perceived as most difficult to my clients.   I have coached thousands on a breakthrough technique that can virtually double profits overnight.  Here goes.

Charge more.

You are a consumer right?  You buy stuff all the time.  Why do you pay what you pay for the stuff you buy?

The answer is as follows: You pay what you pay for services and goods, mostly because that is what the seller is willing to sell them for.

Have you ever shopped prices when it comes to a doctor, dentist, accountant or lawyer?  How many times do you go to the grocery store and buy not just certain products, but most products, because you want them, not because of the price charged?  If the Oreo Cookies you are craving are $2.75 rather than $2.50 are you going to buy them anyway? If the accountant that you like and trust charges a bit more than other accountants for tax advice and preparation, would you still go?  If you are like me, you are not even going to shop around because you appreciate that there is value in working with someone you know, like and trust.  If you are like me, you are going to buy the Oreo Cookies because you feel like one.  Study how you buy, then re-vamp how you sell.

Most of  your customers pay what you charge simply because that’s what you charge.  If you charged more, they will pay more, just like Oreo Cookies.  Does this scare you a little?  It should, because this means that if you have not been meeting your income goals, there’s a good chance that this is your own fault because you don’t charge enough.  If you increase your consulting/marketing/sales fee, most of your customers will pay it.

What if you lose some clients?  No big deal.  Most clients choose you because they like you and most people buy based on these “feel good” emotions.  It’s rare, but occasionally you will have a customer that buys your product or service based solely on price.  These are the worst types of customers to cater to because even if you don’t increase your price, someone else will eventually offer a lower price than you, and these customers will leave you anyway.  These are the people that want an Oreo Cookie but will wait until the price comes down by 25 cents before satisfying that urge.  Let’s say that you lose 10% of your clients by increasing your price by 50%.  Let’s also assume you currently charge $1000 and now you are going to charge $1500.  You have 100 customers prior to the price increase.  That means you are making $100,000 from your 100 customers before.  You increase your price, and now you are making $135,000 with 90 customers.  You have increased your revenue by 35% and decreased your workload by 10%!

One of the biggest mistakes I see sales people and businesses make is that they are undercharging for the value they offer.  Often times this is a result of a value offering they began when they first jumped into the business in order to quickly accumulate clients.  Most never change their value offering or fee which means they get stuck constantly undercharging to a point that the salesperson or business actually comes to believe that this is what they are worth.  I tell salespeople all the time that more often than not, your customer thinks you are more valuable than you think you are!  Your customer’s are not coming to you because you are the cheap alternative, they are coming to you for the value you provide.

Increase what you charge, you are worth it.  Be ready to explain why your product or services are superior to those offered by others in your business, for the instances in which you are challenged by the customer.  Make peace with the fact that some clients will move on and realize that this is your opportunity to fill the gap with clients who value what you do.

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Only The Paranoid Survive

In business, there is always someone better than you.  The minute you think you are the best, you are doomed to fail. Andrew Grove, former CEO of Intel once said, “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”  He couldn’t be more true.  The climb to the top in any business requires that you remain discontent with your status-quo and that you continuously strive to be better tomorrow than you are today.  Yes, I am a New Englander, but no, this article is not about the Red Sox.  However, is the Red Sox fall from grace a situation where members of the corporation, the leaders, players, and staff, believed that greatness lasts forever?

Success is a moving target.  If you think you achieved it, you are basing your findings on what you believed success to be yesterday.  Today it’s different and you won’t know what success today is until it’s over.  It changes everyday, every minute.  Only businesses and salespeople who continuously strive for success will maintain it for any period.  This is how I’ve built my businesses for the past twelve years and this is how I will continue to accomplish great things.  The very second that you think you’ve achieved success, that’s the second that you better re-visit your goals, re-evaluate what success is, and start re-mapping your future.  If you don’t, there’s a good chance that another salesperson or another business will out-work you and out-achieve you.

How do you maintain success if success is a moving target?

1. Embrace Your Weakness: Every salesperson and every business has weaknesses.  Do you know what yours are?  If you think you don’t have a weakness, look harder.  In fact, be religious about finding your weaknesses.  Even the most successful have huge flaws.  Unfortunately, often times businesses and sales professionals become so blinded by their success they can’t see their weaknesses. Just because you nailed it in customer service doesn’t mean you nailed it in building a great company culture.   If you want to maintain success for the long term, search every day for your weaknesses.   Rate yourself in the following areas.

  •  website design and function
  • SEO
  • Social network visibility
  • customer service
  • customer loyalty
  • strategy implimentation
  • budgeting and forecasting
  • apps and technology
  • employee talent
  • prospecting
  • workspace functionality
  • company culture

You aren’t perfect in all these areas.  Work toward perfection in every aspect of your business and by the time you achieve it, you must re-evaluate what perfection is at that time and start re-achieving your goals.

2. Be Paranoid: You should constantly be looking over your shoulder to see what your competition is doing.  I don’t care if you have 90% of the market share.  Do you think that ten years ago local shoe stores would be worried that an online shoe retailer would come in and snap up a huge piece of market share?  Most shoe retailers had a limiting believe that consumers would only buy shoes at a brick and mortar store where they could try on the shoes.  Most of those shoe stores are out of business now.  Zappos proved them wrong. When it comes to shoes there is only so much room for competition, and this is true for your business too.  Be paranoid and assume that your competition is in on some secret that you don’t know about and plan accordingly.  Work feverishly to find out the things that your competition knows that you haven’t figured out yet.

3. Listen to Your Team: The hardest thing in the world is to accept criticism about your business.  It’s your baby!  Hearing someone tell you that there is something wrong with how you are doing things is a lot like someone telling you that your baby is ugly. That being said, however, your team is in the trenches and they know your business, maybe even better than you do.  When a team member offers an idea or feedback on how to make things better, listen closely.  Even better, form your own Board of Advisors which consists of employees and team members from the inside and consultants from the outside who can offer valuable feedback on what it will take to achieve success as it’s currently defined for you, while at the same time re-formulating what success might look like in the future.

4. Accolades Are Your Warning Sign: When you start to get close to success, you’ll be paid compliments regularly and articles will be written on blogs and newspapers.  For really large companies, books may even be written outlining your accomplishments.  Many business owners and sales professionals start to get comfortable as these signs of success start popping up.  For me, these are warning signs.  The accolades to me are a reminder that my competition will start working harder.  When I started with nothing, I was motivated by my competition.  All of the praise and accolades my competition received fueled my fire to work harder.  In fact, it’s my competition who made me who I am today.  Now, twelve years later, when I see the news clippings and stories of my company success I smile, say thank you, and I pull up my boot straps…because my competition’s coming after me and I’ll be dammed if they are going to have a shot at winning.  I have built many businesses on the core belief that Only The Paranoid Survive!

 

 

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Death is Not Our Greatest Enemy

 

Perhaps death is not our greatest enemy but rather procrastination, and that’s why death was created.

-Stacey Alcorn, Author of Tuned In: Eight Lessons to Sales Success a Great Salesman Did Not Know He Knew

 

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Hugh Liddle Presents – Tuned In: Eight Lessons to Sales Successs


Listen to internet radio with Sales Coaching Chalk Talk on Blog Talk Radio

I recently was offered the phenomenal opportunity to be a guest on Red Cap Coaching’s radio show entitled Sales Coaching Chalk Talk.  On the show, we talked about my latest book, Tuned In: Eight Lessons to Sales Success a Great Salesman Did Not Know He Knew.  CLICK HERE to listen to a podcast of the show that aired in early October 2012.

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Doing More Than Just Your Job is The New Black

I don’t care what your job is, if you believe that you can get away with JUST doing your job, somebody will come along and replace you.  The world is chalk full of people that are so hungry, so passionate, about the job that you are doing, that they will do your job plus some for the same price as you.  This applies to you if you are in sales. This applies to you if you are an employee.  It applies to just about anyone.  Getting away with minimum productivity in your job is so 1980s and under-promising while over-delivering is the new black.  Mediocrity in business is obsolete, but there is a silver lining.

If you get really good at doing more than just your job, consumers will pay you significantly higher than what others in your field are getting paid.  Here is a case in point.  My hair dresser, Danelle, is an exceptional business person.  She totally gets that her job is way more complicated than just making people look good.  Her job entails entertaining her clients while they are sitting in her chair.  She offers great stories about her career and her life.  Her job is to listen.  Her clients share their ambitions, secrets, and passions, and Danelle simply lends an empathetic ear.  Danelle is a salesperson, and a very good one.  She has explained to me and other clients the difference between hair color treatments and why some are more expensive than others.  “There are less expensive color treatments,” explains Danelle, “But what most don’t realize is that the less expensive colors cost more in the long run because they don’t last as long, so clients have to get there hair done more often.  Quality equals value.”  Last, but certainly not least, Danelle is an artist.  Most traditional artists get the opportunity to come up with their own vision of what they are about to create. but Danelle, like most hair dressers, must interpret what the client has created in their mind and reproduce it.  Danelle is unique.  She’s more than just a hairdresser, and any client that realizes this value is willing to pay more, significantly more, including me.  If Danelle were simply a hairdresser, she would have competition at practically every street corner, but because she is an entertainer, listener, salesperson, and artist, she has weeded out most of her competition in the marketplace.  A consumer that is paying more for Danelle’s services is getting a bargain because she’s far from just a hairdresser.  It’s the people that are paying less for a hair dresser that are getting the short end of the stick.

Recently my hair iron stopped working.  I sent Danelle a message through Facebook telling her my hair iron was broken and asked if she sells them at her salon.  She simply said, “Come in on Tuesday and pick it up.”  As it turns out, Danelle does not sell hair irons at her salon, but she went and got me one.  The ramifications of this are staggering.  It would not be unusual to find an article on Huffington Post about companies like Zappos that blow people away with their over the top customer service.  When I saw Tony Hsieh, President of Zappos, speaking at an event, he said the level of service that the shoe distributor expects from their employees is that if a call comes into their customer service center in Las Vegas and the caller is looking for a great pizza place to eat at in Chicago, it is their job to go out of their way to answer the question and help the caller.  Zappos is not the least expensive shoe seller, but customers like their service, and so they are willing to pay more for their shoes because the experience is worth paying for.  This has a lot to do with why Amazon paid $1 billion for the shoe company.  Even Amazon wanted to know what it takes to get people to pay more and so Zappos is a lesson for them in how going the extra mile can create great payoffs for any business. Well, it is just this type of over the top service that I found from my little hair salon in Dracut, Massachusetts.  That means that there is hope for any business owner large or small.  As well, there’s hope for any employee that wants to have permanent job security and escalating wages over time.  There are Danelle’s in every type of business out there.  If you are not a Danelle, you should be scared because many companies like Zappos have perfected their hiring processes to only hire and keep Danelle’s and that seems to be the direction in which many companies are heading.

If you want to earn more, then be more valuable.  Make a list of all the things similarly paid people in your field or in your job are doing and then make sure you do far far more. If you want amazing, out of the world, success in your business or career it’s no longer just about doing your job, it’s about doing what’s not.  Some say that all the jobs are moving to China.  I tend to disagree.  All of the jobs are simply moving to the extra mile.  If you are willing to go there, there will always be a job opening for you.

 

 

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Four Words That Could Cost You Business

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet.  Here is my advice, never say “Nice to Meet You,” upon meeting someone at a networking function, cocktail mixer, or ever.  These four words could cost you business

Recently I was at a networking function where I was introduced to Jim by a colleague of mine.  I had been a client of Jim’s for a couple of years until he sold his business to start on a new venture.  As I was about to tell my colleague that Jim and I already knew one another, Jim said the four words that could potentially destroy any good relationship, “Nice to meet you!”

In our social networking world where we have real time access to our network of hundreds of thousands of friends, clients, and acquaintances, it’s really easy to forget that you met someone or even did business with them in the past.  For Jim, it didn’t cost him anything because I’m not a potential client of his, right now.  However, if he were in a business where I could be a potential client again, the fact that he didn’t remember me could knock him down a few pegs, or could nullify the competitive advantage he could have had by our previous business relationship.

The lesson in all this is that you put yourself at a severe disadvantage if you ever say the words, “Nice to Meet You.”  However, you can never go wrong by simply saying, “Nice to see you!”

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

The Real Story: The chicken crossed the road because every once in a while even a chicken realizes that his greatest dreams and aspirations lay far beyond the road already traveled.

– Stacey Alcorn, Author of Tuned In: Eight Lessons to Sales Success a Great Salesman Did Not Know He Knew

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Recipe to Making A Great Complaint – Ingredient Required: Honey

Today I received a complaint from someone who works for me.  It was a great complaint in that it was legitimate (I could totally see her point) and it was so well written that it made me want to jump to action to make change.  Most people are terrible at making a complaint, so much so that they typically never get the results they are looking for.  Here we are going share four steps to lodging a complaint so that you get the results you want.

1. Don’t be a Complainer – The dictionary definition of a complainer is a whiner or person given to excessive complaints.  You know the type, right?  Have you ever received an email from someone and you hesitated to open because you knew exactly what was within it, another complaint?  Your phone rings and the caller id shows it is Wendy Whiner and it’s Friday afternoon, and you can’t bring yourself to answer because you just know, it’s another complaint.  Here’s the point, which complaint do you think carries more weight, one from someone who complains often and always, or one from someone who rarely complains?  If you rarely make a complaint, when you do make one, people usually take it pretty seriously.

2. You Catch More Flies With Honey: Pay a compliment!  If, in making a complaint, you offer nothing more than just the issue you are upset about, the other party will raise their defenses.  Nobody likes to hear about what they are doing wrong.  When a person raises his defenses as a response to a complaint, he immediately begins to think about all the things he does right.  That’s why it behooves you, in making a complaint to point out all the things you like and appreciate about the situation or person about which you are complaining.

3. Offer a Solution: The worst type of complaint is one that offers no solution. It’s laziness on the part of the complaining party to lodge a complaint without offering a solution.  If there’s something you don’t like give the other party an idea on how to fix it.  In fact, if you skip this step you run the risk of the other side making a change that is still contrary to the solution you would have liked to see happen.  Share your ideas for fixing the problem and you are more likely to find a sympathetic ear on the other end.

4. Make It Clear You Are Not Making an Ultimatum: This goes again to catching more flies with honey, but if you are clear with the other side that you will continue to remain as a customer, friend, or employee,  your message is loud and clear, it tells the other party that you respect him or her so much that you will live with the decision either way.  Most people believe the quickest way to get the result they are looking for is by offering an ultimatum, however, nothing could be further from the truth.  An ultimatum is a threat and threats builds walls.  Making it clear that the relationship remains unchanged even where no change is made as a result of the complaint builds a bridge between the parties, where it is more likely that a compromise may be reached.

When these four simple steps are followed, a complaint comes across more as a friendly suggestion, like the complaint I received from the woman who works for my organization.  Her email was well written in that it didn’t come across as a threat, it came across as a friendly suggestion, so much so that it prompted me to jump to action.

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

What’s Your Legacy

If you carve out an entire century, part of it will consist of you, and part of it will not.  What can you do differently today to ensure that the mark you leave is more important than your presence? That mark is your legacy.

Here’s a hint: Your legacy is created by you but carried out by others.

– Stacey Alcorn, Author of Tuned In: Eight Lessons to Sales Success a Great Salesman did Not Know He Knew

 

 

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.