The Blog

They are always watching.

It’s her new backpack for school, pre-kindergarten.  She is 4 and he is 29.  Her dad knew she would proudly walk to the car if she could don that new prize possession.  He is a good dad.

How does this happen?  And, what does it have to do with sales?

A lot.

Everyone knows a few things about sales, but we all know that there are certain things that if you do them, they always end in success:

Show up.  90% of getting the deal is all about showing up.

Same with being a good dad.

Positive attitude.  You have heard the saying “attitude determines altitude.”

Same with being a good dad.

Learn and care about your prospect.  Find something in common, find a way to add value.

Same with being a good dad.

Have fun.  It’s not all about work, but work can definitely be fun.

Same with being a good dad.

Stick with it.  How many times has a prospect said they were not interested?  But, after time and checking in with the prospect something changed, and now they have a need.

Same with being a good dad.

Follow through.  I read a statistic that said 92% of salespeople don’t follow through.  The other 8% are wildly successful salespeople.

Same with being a good dad.

And so, it goes with all of us.  They are watching.  Who is watching?  Our team, our prospects, our competitors, our boss.

Same with our children.

If you work hard, they will work hard.

If you behave ethically, they will behave ethically.

If you listen and care, they will listen and care.

They are always watching.

The precious photo is of my son and his daughter.  My son learned how to be a good dad from his dad.  And he learned from his dad.  They were watching.

Photo courtesy of Christina Ropp

Wisdom from a friend.

My grandma (maternal) died when I was 16.  Even though she had 18 grandchildren, she made me feel special, she made me feel like her heart had plenty of room for all of us.  My grandma knew my favorite color was pink and she always presented me with pink items, handmade from her heart.  She meticulously kept track of all the favorites of her grandchildren so she could delight us.  I loved that woman.

My aunt, (moms only sister) died when I was 34.  Even though she had 10 children, she always made me and my children feel special, she made me feel like her heart had plenty of room for all of us.   My aunt lived on a farm and welcomed me and my children to the farm all the time.  We picked beans and tomatoes and she always had a fun item for my son – like the skull of a farm animal.  I loved that woman.

My dear friend Nellie died this past week.  She allowed me the privilege to preview her book, “Wisdom from the Cup.”  She gave me one of the first copies and inscribed a message inside: “Remember to savor every sip of life.”  Nellie had a way of wrapping her heart around everyone she met.  Her magnetic personality drew you into her joy of life and it was easy to lose hours at a time visiting with Nellie about life and life experiences.  I loved that woman and I am going to miss her dearly.

Nellie had something in common with everyone, probably many things.  She had a way of wrapping her heart around you and making you feel like the relationship you had with her was so incredibly special.  I thought I would share some of our commonalities and things we did not have in common so you might enjoy her wonderful personality too.

Nellie was born on September 10th, I was married on September 10th.

Nellie and her son had a special love for Phantom of the Opera, my son and I have a special love for Phantom of the Opera.

Nellie lives in 2 states, I have homes in 2 states. (Nellie was much better at living in the 2 states than I was.)

Nellie loves the water.  A Michigander from the Great Lakes state, I love the water.

Nellie lived on sail boats part time, I live on a power boat part time.

Nellie enjoyed entrepreneurial activities, I enjoy entrepreneurial activities.

Nellie and I both loved to write and although she was published many times, I plan to be published too.

Nellie’s husband and my husband both love motors – boats and car motors.

Nellie and I often uncovered things that we had in common but we also had great laughs about the things we did that were completely opposite of one another.

Nellie traveled internationally to serve the world, I serve in the community I live in.  (They both need to be served.)

Nellie learned to sail without her husband, I went to sailing school with my husband.  (That is probably the reason we have a power boat.)

Nellie is an only child, I am in the middle of 8.

With all of our commonalities, nothing brought us together more than discussions about our cup collecting.  I had the opportunity to see Nellie’s’ collection, she wins.  She has way more cups than I do, but we bought them for the same reasons – we love coffee and we enjoyed savoring the experiences from where the cup originated.

I met Nellie when we worked on the Chamber of Commerce membership committee together.  And, not only was Nellie genius with her advice to small businesses, she was a presenter on how to take advantage of all the benefits the Chamber had to offer.  I also had the joy of watching Nellie win a “pitch” competition for her business endeavor at the time.  Nellie created a business for care givers of medical patients.  Through all of this I learned that Nellie was a phenomenal relationship builder.  She had relationships all over the world and they were not acquaintances, they were strong, lasting, deep, love filled friendships.  She was just amazing.

My blog is about sales, but throughout my career all of my sales have come from trusted relationships.  People do business with people they trust and enjoy being around.  My grandma, my aunt and my dear friend Nellie all knew how to build trust and sincere relationships with many people.  I miss them, but I know they continue to wrap their hearts around me and so many others.

Thank you, Nellie, for your friendship, your humanitarian service, and your wisdom – I will do my very best to savor every sip of life.

You can find Nellie’s book – https://www.amazon.com/Wisdom-Cup-Nellie-Symm-Gruender-2015-07-20/dp/B01FKTCMQA

Runner up!

Who remembers 2nd place?
That may not be a good question if you are asking a sports enthusiast like my husband, he remembers every NASCAR race, college football game and please don’t get him started on my son’s cross country races!!

Second place has been called the first loser, and often we discuss that no one remembers who the “runner up” was. I feel very differently about second place. In my opinion it is a perfect place to be. Let me share a typical second place scenario with you…

I place a call on a prospect, get the appointment, discuss the value we add to each other with a relationship – but I am told any one of the following reasons that a business relationship will not work out:
“My mom, sister, brother, uncle, dad… is in the same business.”
“I am really happy with my current relationship and do not want to upset my current relationship.”
“The company we use now does business with us and that means a lot to me.”
“I get really good service and I don’t want to risk changing that.”
“It is just too much trouble to make a change.”

To every one of those responses I say:
“I completely understand. Would you mind if I hang out in second place? We could build a relationship and then if anything changes, we won’t be strangers. And, if you ever want a second opinion on something, I am right here.”
Second place has served me pretty well. Life changes all the time. Second place becomes first place very quickly. One or two poor customer service problems, a family member changes jobs, companies change policies… anything can happen to move you into first place.
Let me caution you- if you ask someone for their business and they like you, and they trust you, but they don’t pick you… they will watch you very closely. You are automatically in second place in their mind. So, be very careful with that position. Nurture every prospect beyond the “ask.” It is a little bit like the “never give up” attitude.

This week I was honored to be in second place, I was probably in third place but who’s keeping track, right???
Recently, our Columbia Mo. Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Network honored an outstanding female leader and mentor in my community (Athena International Award). I was one of three finalists; the other two women were pillars in our community and I was deeply honored to even stand with them. Nope, I did not win, but being a runner up was pretty good. Athena was the Greek virgin goddess of reason, intelligent activity, arts and literature. She was a goddess of wisdom and courage. Well, I may not have all of those traits (my sisters are falling out of their seats right now!), but maybe I have one or two – and that is pretty darn cool!

Photo: Jan Grossman, Vicki Russell, Me! (Athena International Award ceremony, Vicki Russell was named 2017 Athena)

PUSHY!

Pushy.

[poo sh-ee]

Adjective – obnoxiously forward or self-assertive.

We have all experienced this behavior from someone.  We have all felt uncomfortable because someone thought they had the right to place their goals and objectives ahead of someone else’s.

 

I call this “blinded by the light.”

Think of a movie scene where the light is at the end of the tunnel and a human is attracted to it with such gravitational force that it is like a meteor plummeting to the earth with a crashing force that it will annihilate anything in its wake.

 

Just this week I experienced this energy, drive, self-fulfilling behavior with complete disregard to my needs and my feelings.  I was approached by an older gentleman who asked for 20 minutes of my time in the next hour.  I was told it was not an option for me to meet and have a discussion.

Not only was I not feeling well, my husband was not feeling well and I had a number of priority items to handle.  It was also presented to me right before I had to stand and present before a group of colleagues.  I felt a number of emotions: shock, exhaustion, fury, wonder, and even a large lack of self-confidence.

 

Incredible as it may seem, I succumbed to the pressure and made myself available.  Much to my dismay, anger, frustration – the meeting did not go well and made all the feelings I had even worse.

 

Great salespeople never push their agenda before that of their clients or prospects.

Great salespeople always ask permission for someone’s time.

Great salespeople never expect someone to drop everything for them.

Great salespeople always want what is best for the prospect or client, and believes that a consumer is intelligent enough to come to a good decision for themselves.

Great salespeople never say “well you better do it this month or else…”

 

You may be told by your trainer to create a sense of urgency.

You may be told by your trainer to be persistent, “constant contact.”

You may be told by your trainer to share with your prospect how much it will help you if they do it today.

You may be told by your trainer that the prospect doesn’t know enough or cannot make that decision without all of your information.

 

Whether you are selling or not, professionals don’t behave this way either.

 

People!  Stop being pushy!!

Let me offer you how I approach asking someone for their time.  And if you are asking enough people for their time, you will have plenty of people to talk to.

First, call, email or ask face to face if someone would welcome a conversation with you.

Ask permission to reach out to them, with the purpose of scheduling a time for that conversation.

Follow through and reach out, via the channel that has been agreed upon, and schedule an appointment for that conversation.

When you do reach out, ask if it is a good time still, (sometime circumstances change and what was planned does not work,) be generous – time is the most valuable item anyone can give to another, handle it with great care.

Thank the person for their graciousness to you.

 

Do you want to be a great salesperson?  Start with courtesy.

 

I am so incredibly courteous with others time that this week when I asked someone if they thought I was a good salesperson they answered “I don’t really think of you as a salesperson.”

Good.  I am not blinding anyone by my light.

 

It’s Arithmetic!

The photo you see in this blog was sent to us from a friend, which tells us that the probability of many others getting a look at the image was a real possibility.  The fun and confident way he wore the hat is what could have encouraged the photographer into taking the photo.  The reality is not the perception and that is the whole point.  Or maybe the point is that he showed up, he joined in, and with a little luck he was afforded an opportunity.  I believe that is one of the secrets to being a successful salesperson.

The reality is that an award was bestowed on me this year.  It was a contest for the town I live in called “Top of the Town”, a voting contest by the readership of a local business magazine – Columbia Business Times.

At the award celebration the winners were given a Top Hat, a very cool Top Hat.

It was a warm day and I was of course worried about my hair looking good for photos so I sparingly wore the hat, and attempting to be a bit humble, I laid the hat on the table we were hanging around.  That was when opportunity struck and my son in law picked it up and placed it on his head.  It looked good.  It fit well. He was meant to be a winner!

Successful sales people show up, join in and take the opportunity to put the hat on.  It is arithmetic!  Preparedness + opportunity + a dash of luck = Success.

Preparedness:  New business comes from meeting new people, so you have to show up to events, meetings and conferences.

Opportunity:  New business comes from engaging in activities (parties to volunteering)  and being open to participating in growth experiences such as trainings (maybe even role playing.)

Dash of Luck:  Should someone with a need, or someone who knows of someone with a need, present them-self to you,  and you are the person who can meet that need, that  = SUCCESS!

Bryan, my son in law, practiced a little arithmetic at the Top of the Town celebration.  He enjoyed a little success by getting his photo in the magazine’s online gallery.  And, he looked good!

 

 

Alphabet Soup

It may have been when one of my new co-workers said  “Fizz Bow” to me that I knew I needed to write this blog.  It made me think of all the times I had no idea what someone was saying, but I would nod and smile so no one thought I was ignorant of the subject.  Perhaps age has made me just stop and say “what the heck are you talking about?”

“Fizz Bow” turns out to be an acronym for “FSBO” or “For Sale By Owner.”  Who da thunk?!  When you look the word “acronym” up in the dictionary it gives a little statement at the end of the definition – “There is no universal standardization of the various names for such abbreviations and of their orthographic styling.”  That means there is no way for people to logically figure out what we are saying when we use an acronym.

Great sales people do not use acronyms!  We all have our industry speak…but we should not use acronyms or anything remotely close to industry speak when talking to a potential client.  We don’t know what they know or they don’t know.  One way to start a conversation from the beginning, and you need to do this throughout the sale all the way to close, is to say “I want to explain this in the simplest of terms, but if I get too elementary, just tell me and I will move quicker through the conversation.”  It is interesting that I cannot recall when a prospect asked me to speed it up.

Just for fun, I thought I might share some well known acronyms that most people have no idea what the letters stand for, but you will definitely know the product!

  • BMW – Bavarian Motor Works
  • CVS – Consumer Value Stores
  • A & W – (Roy) Allen and (Frank) Wright
  • M & M – Mars & Murrie’s
  • 3M – Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing
  • JC Penney – James Cash Penney
  • Taser – Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle
  • Smart (car) – Swatch Mercedes Art
  • Zip (code) – Zone Improvement Plan

And then let’s just list some acronyms we all know very well…

  • AKA
  • ETA
  • FYI
  • CIA
  • FBI
  • RSVP
  • ATM

I could go on and on, but the lesson here is if you are not wildly famous and well known, or your subject matter isn’t cemented in history with very few changes, then you should not be using acronyms!

I welcome hearing from you and your industry acronyms!

 

 

 

Who brings you lilacs?

Lilacs.

My sweet husband brings me lilacs that he has swiftly snatched from someone else’s bush, hopefully from public property!  He knows the joy they bring me… there is little else that can compare with the joy of the smell of lilacs.  (Maybe snuggling with my little Sophia Jayne.) (It is lilac season in Michigan!)

I share this because in Sales we get a lot of “no’s.”  We also get a lot of “not now’s, maybe later, I don’t think so, sorry, and, yes’s that are not really yes’s.”  Every job has negative with it, but if you are a sales person, you often have to make your own positive.  Thus the lilacs.

Great Sales people have support systems that work for them.  Maybe it is a circle of friends, maybe it is a spouse, siblings… whatever yours looks like, it is important that you have a support system.  My support happens to be my husband, but I might be the kind of person who requires lots of levels of support (snickers from my family.)  I’ve learned that in the business of sales you might need a pick me up more often than people are willing to “pick you up,” therefore you need more people on the call list.

Loving support – husband

Late night snack support, what clothing not to buy and endless prayer support – daughter

Carry my stuff and tell me I look skinny support – son

Ugga Mugga support – grand daughter

Can you believe they did this? – support – co workers

Another “no” support – fundraising friend

Made the sale support – should be all of above, but is my Blue Cheese Olive Stuffed Martini Friend

Healthy choices – husband, running buddies

Inspiration – daughter, mom, church life

The sky is falling support – sisters

I need a new job support – wonderful friends

Too tired to eat – fixes my dinner friend

I will never leave your side support – furry best friends

 

You see, it’s not just the lilacs.  In the moment that you need a smile, a hug, a friend…they are there.  It is important to have support and to have people in your life who support you.  When you find them, hold on fiercely because when the ship feels like it is sinking they will bring you lilacs.

 

Thank you friends and family, I love you.

Bounce Rejection!

Recently a friend shared that when contemplating asking someone for their business she physically begins to tremble, move backward away from the idea, she gets a lump in her throat and her stomach begins to roll. All of these things happen, she knows, because they might say “no.” My friend knows she is good at what she does, she is certain she has talent, she believes in her product and service and she knows her product or service would add value to the person she is asking. It isn’t any of those things. It is the silence that comes with the “no,” it is the idea of the next time they are in a social setting and how they will adjust to the “no,” it is the simple reality that they don’t find the same value in her product and service as she does.

Check out this blog on sales statistics to learn just how hard it is to be a great sales person:

10 Sales Performance Stats To Know

We can reason all of these feelings away and suggest that anyone can learn to get over these feelings and make the ask anyway. Sure, anyone can learn a skill. But can they excel at it? Can they be remarkable at it? Can they do it with such joy and glee that it seems effortless? Can anyone sell? Sure. But if it doesn’t make you feel good maybe you should find another way, maybe.

Rejection comes in all forms. Whether it is personal or a business rejection, it is never fun. Or is it?
I remember a couple of guys in high school that I really liked, I probably acted like a complete fool around them. You know the ending of the story since my husband is 6 years older than me, those guys did not like me back. It was personal. But I look back on high school with great fondness, even if those boys didn’t like me!
Rejection in the business world might be easier than in the personal world, we all know that changing jobs is not nearly as big of a deal than getting a divorce… but rejection is hard and hurtful no matter the instance.
Rejection in your business life is simply a disagreement of how a company moves forward. If you are offering your products or services to a company and they say “no thank you”, it just means they have another plan, it may not be a good time, they may have loyalties to someone else or they might not think your product and service will add enough value at this moment for the company. Very seldom is it personal – and then you don’t want to work with them anyway… people who run companies on personal whims can never be trusted.
In all situations – MOVE ON!

When someone serves me up a good dose of rejection I always leave the door open for their ultimate purchase of my product or service. They may come around, uncover a need, change the company direction. They may have a change in management, they may change to another company – we never know. I enjoy filling the silence after a “no” with “can we stay in touch?” Never has anyone rejected that question. And over the years, many, many times, they have said “yes” at another time.

Maybe YOU should not deal with rejection. Maybe YOU should do what you are good at and let the professional salesperson deal with rejection. Hire a salesperson.
Perhaps the better way for you to build your business is to build referral sources who believe in you. Perhaps trading referrals is a better way. Many people will share their friend’s greatness before they will share their own… fine, do it that way – build a referral team.
Maybe you believe you can generate business via a strong media presence. Remember people trust people not buildings and products. Make sure your message is about you and trust. It can work.

Rejection is not easy, rejection hurts. Understanding rejection and dealing with rejection allows you to wear the ultimate rubber suit and when you understand rejection then you just bounce to the next opportunity and in a very positive way!

Have you heard of Tigger? T I double “GA” ER. Well “Tiggers are wonderful fellas, Tiggers are wonderful things. Their tops are made out of rubber and their bottoms are made out of springs.” Simply put – Tiggers bounce and they are fun. Great salespeople are like Tiggers. If you don’t see yourself as a Tigger, then figure out how to add a Tigger into your world, I think you will be glad you did.

Ding Dong Avon Calling

Recently someone asked me “how do I get a friend to support my business?” Very good question. It is interesting how awkward we feel sharing something we love and are passionate about, something we know is a good product, we even are 100% confident they like the product or will like the product. But, because we will benefit from it, we pause. This conflict is so confusing to me. We have no problem sharing a product at the grocery store that we love, we have no conflict referring a service that did a great job for us and we have absolutely no problem giving the shirt off our back but we pause when it is something that involves our benefit of money.

I am going to convince you to break out of that mindset, be bold and certain of your amazing product and talent.

Her name is Gerry. Gerry was my mom’s Avon lady. Think about my mom’s life – 8 kids, Girl Scout leader, Catechism teacher, wife, gardener – that provided our food, oh and did I mention she worked at the local Post Office and later became the Postmaster! When Gerry rang that doorbell…are you kidding me, we didn’t have a doorbell, my mom was ecstatic if we closed the door…stopped by with all her “Skin So Soft fragrances and lotions, my mom and her seven (7!) daughters went into Potion heaven! We collected the elegant lady bottles of perfume (I remember my dad made a special shelf for those little ladies), we spent an hour choosing the .39 cent lip balm we each were going to get as if it were golden honey for our lips! Oh Gerry the joy you brought to our life!

Not once did I think of Gerry’s paycheck while I tested lip balm and sprayed samples of perfume all over my body! Not once.

As a Sales Director with The Pampered Chef, I had the absolute best clients in the whole wide universe! A favorite family of mine was: Jan, Becky, Darlene, Jeanie and Jeanie! One day I asked Jan, why do you keep hosting Pampered Chef parties, you have everything? She shared that she loves to cook, she loves to have friends over, she loves the product and she loved me! I was her Gerry! That was the day I ditched the worry of making money selling stuff to my friends and understood that if I was a good friend back to them, then I would give my friends the opportunity to have the great stuff I was pedaling, I understood that if I did not offer my awesome stuff to them, I wasn’t much of a true friend.

Do you know to this day the best way to keep a mosquito from biting me is to slather my body with Skin So Soft? Do you know that to this day the best way to cook a pizza or make tater tots (you know you love them) is on a Pampered Chef Stone? And how does anyone make salsa, can jarred stewed tomatoes without the Food Chopper? Seriously if you don’t use this stuff, dial me up and I will connect you with my Avon lady and my Pampered Chef lady because I am a true friend who believes in making money selling something great!

Heart of Missouri United Way Regains Forward Momentum in 2015 Campaign

COLUMBIA, MO (February 8, 2016) – Greg and Mary Ropp, who led the 2015 Community Campaign as Chairs, announce  the conclusion of the 2015 HMUW Campaign on January 31. “Greg and I were honored, humbled and inspired by this community who supported the United Way campaign of 2015.” said Mary Ropp, Senior Vice President of Business Development for The Bank of Missouri.  “We set out to accomplish ‘Just one more’ dollar, volunteer hour, service provided, child tutored, meal served…. and this community came together and made it happen.  Because of the money raised, the partner agencies will be able to do the good work that they do and we are thankful and grateful to everyone who donated, volunteered and supported the effort.”

This year’s campaign raised $2,927,520, an increase of 4.6% over last year’s final campaign results. The increase marks the first time since 2011 that the annual campaign has increased.  Campaign highlights include a 50% increase in Alexis de Tocqueville Society members, which represents gifts of $10,000 and higher. The campaign also saw a 10% increase in dollars raised by the 44 Pacesetter companies and organizations and a 5% increase in $1,000 gifts represented in Leadership Circle members. The University of Missouri campaign raised $561,915, an increase over last year.

Jan Swaney, President, Heart of Missouri United Way Board said, “I am extremely pleased that we have regained forward momentum and that the 2015 campaign pledges grew over last year. This response shows that we have a caring community that trusts HMUW to fund a broad set of programs and agencies that make a significant impact in the lives of our friends in poverty. Giving to HMUW helps your neighbors,” she said.

“I am truly inspired by the generosity and support by our community but I understand that we have more work to do.” said HMUW Executive Director, Andrew Grabau. He attributed the success of this year’s campaign on four key areas:

  • The leadership provided by Mary and Greg Ropp as community campaign chairs
  • Board of Director’s decision to return the option for designated gifts to any of HMUW’s thirty-one funded agency partners
  • The widespread dedication of more than 700 community volunteers
  • Positive results from the agency programs that the United Way’s Community Impact model is helping to fund

Community Impact provides Heart of Missouri United Way with a strategic focus on supporting and funding unduplicated programs that provide wrap-around comprehensive impact in areas of Education, Health, Income and Safety Net services. By working with our agencies in producing measurable outcomes, we can make sure that the community’s financial support is truly making a difference.