The Importance Of Working For A Boss Who Supports You

Does your boss support you? Most people would say “yes—and no.” It often depends on the situation.

Employees who believe their company cares for them perform better. What value does an employer place on you as an employee? Are you there simply to get the job done and then go home? Are you paid fairly, well-trained and confident in your job security? Do you work under good job conditions? Do you receive constructive feedback, or do you feel demeaned or invisible?

Today, we’re sharing these valuable tips from Forbes contributor and digital marketing specialist, Sarah Landrum, on how to have a healthy and happy relationship with your boss.

Invest In A Relationship With Your Boss. When you’re first hired, you should get to know your company’s culture and closely watch your boss as you learn the ropes. Regardless of your boss’s communication style, speaking up on timely matters before consequences are out of your control builds trust and establishes healthy communication. Getting to know your boss begins with knowing how he or she moves through the business day, including their moods, how they prefer to communicate and their style of leadership.

Mood: Perhaps your boss needs a cup of coffee to start the day. If you see other employees scurry away before the boss drains that cup of coffee, bide your time, too.

Communication: If you have important news, deliver it to your boss promptly. Use email or a phone call to check in, and schedule a meeting for in-depth topics. Show you respect your boss’s time, and, in return, your time will be respected, too. Remember, everyone has a different style of communication and you must respect your boss’s style. For example, some bosses may appear cold in anecdotal discussions, but their analytical style may prefer discussions

based on hard data.

Leadership: What kind of leader is your boss? Autocratic leaders assume total authority on decision-making without input or challenge from others. Participative leaders value the democratic input of team members, but retain the authority to make the final decision.

A Healthy Relationship With Leaders Makes The Company Better. A Gallup report reveals that 71 percent of Millennials aren’t engaged on the job and half of all respondents are planning to leave their current job within a year. What is the cause? Bosses are responsible for 70 percent of employee engagement, and engaged bosses are 59 percent more prone to having and retaining engaged employees.

These bosses exhibit supportive behaviors such as being accessible for discussions, motivating according to an employee’s strengths rather than weaknesses, and helping to set goals. The most positive engagement booster was identified as when managers focus on e

mployee strengths. According to the report, the people responsible most often for employee retention and engagement are those in leadership positions. The boss is poised to directly affect employee happiness, satisfaction, productivity and performance.

The same report reveals that only 21 percent of Millennial employees meet weekly with their boss and 17 percent receive meaningful feedback. In the end, one out of every two employees will leave a job to get away from their boss when unsupported.

A healthy relationship between boss and employee is vital to company success, and is especially important to the progression of careers among Millennials as the workforce continues to age.

Read PCT again tomorrow when we will talk about customer reviews.

Source: Sarah Landrum writes about howcan be happier at work. She is also a digital marketing specialist, freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, a career advice blog that focuses on happiness and creating a career you love.

Asking Questions Can Make You A Better Leader

The Greek philosopher, Socrates, once said the ability to be a great leader comes down to one very important skill: asking questions. The challenge is that too few leaders, managers and employees know how to do this well.

Here, we share these insights from business author Michael Lindenmayer on asking good questions and other key elements of Socratic leadership.

1. Quest For The Best Answers. The key to getting your team to embrace questioning is to help them see it as a tool to get the best answer versus an interrogation. In getting the best answer, everyone has a role to play and different insights to bring to the table. If it feels like an interrogation, morale will drop and defensive attitudes will stifle the ability to find the best answer. So, make the quest for the best answers a part of your corporate culture.

2. Be Humble: Admit You Don’t Know. Check your ego at the door when finding the best answers. If a team member is missing an answer, then the next question to put forth should help them find it. This eliminates any excuses and sets everyone right back on the path to finding the best possible answers.

3. Build Stamina: Get a Brain Work Out. Most people can handle only a few questions before they experience cognitive overload. Too many questions with too few answers kicks in the flight response. People can shut down. The good news is that people can build up their stamina so that they can handle more questions. The best way to do this is to work the brain out like a muscle. Engage. Rest. Recover. You will get stronger and better at asking questions and engaging in the quest for answers.

4. Empower Everyone. Want to unleash the potential of your team? Then ask questions and be up for digging for the best answers. Also encourage others across your team to ask questions. When asking questions becomes part of your company culture, you drive consistency across the organization.

5. Concentrate. If you want good answers, you need to concentrate on getting them. Our brains are splintered by multitasking. Stanford Professor Clifford Nass’s research showcases how multitasking both reduces the speed of decision-making as well as the quality of the decisions generated. Instead, engage in thinking that is deliberative and logical. It helps you clear through the rapid, automatic and subconscious default settings that often guide us and push us further to get at thoughtful decisions.

6. Questions For The Three P’s. The three P’s are: possibilities, probabilities and priorities. Certain questions generate possibilities. Other questions sharpen the team’s ability to assess the probable outcome of potential decisions. The third set of questions help empower team members to prioritize. Learn to apply different questions to the three P’s; it will help advance your endeavor.

Try this Socratic method with your team. Determine great questions you will ask your team that will advance your mission.

Source: Michael Lindenmayer, a Forbes contributor, is a purpose-driven entrepreneur, writer and systems designer. He is the co-founder and CEO of Toilet Hackers, a social enterprise focused on securing 100 percent sanitation for the 2.6 billion people living without a toilet. He is an advisor to Sesame Workshop’s Global Health Initiative. And he is on the advisory board of the Girl’s Fund at the World Wide Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. He also collaborates with the leading minds at the University of Chicago’s Booth Business, where he is an associate fellow at the New Paths to Purpose Project.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

Four Reasons To Be A Lifelong Learner

Continuing your education and learning as both an individual and as a professional is important. While you may already be a very capable marketer and you read plenty on the subject, but learning is a lifelong skill that keeps one motivated.

It’s a popular belief amongst many professionals that continuing education should be reserved for people who need to learn new skills to stay employed. But, lifelong learning can benefit everyone. What’s more, lifelong learning can also directly benefit your employer, so it’s important to let them know that you wish to continue your professional development.

Today, we share the career benefits of professional development and education from career writer Mariliza Karrera.

1. It Keeps You Current And Up To Date: According to research, adult learners are the fastest growing segment pursuing education. The reason behind this trend is the fact that many professionals are beginning to realize that to remain competitive in the ever-changing world of business they need to stay current and updated. This is especially important since recent graduates may be a threat to your position as they will be more up to date with the changes in the industry.

And it’s not as simple as learning a few computer skills here and there. Professionals across all industries should closely follow trends and seek to provide depth in industry knowledge to remain relevant.

2. It Can Motivate You: Lifelong learning can also help make you happier, which in turn, can make you more productive. According to one study by economists at the University of Warwick, employees who are happy can be 12 percent more productive than unhappy employees.

Therefore, it’s especially important for professionals who aren’t satisfied with their careers to try and learn something new. The process of applying the new information to your job can help stimulate your brain and help you become more interested in your work. So, if you feel like you are losing interest in your career, consider signing up to learn a new skill. You might find meaning in your career again.

3. It Can Help You Grow Your Network: If you are interested in changing careers, taking a course is the first thing that you should do, not just because you’ll need to learn new skills but because it can also help you grow your network. Continuing education is a great way to meet other professionals in your industry. Your teacher or instructor is a great professional connection, so make sure that you form a close relationship with them as well.

4. It Helps Keep You Employed For Longer: According to recent data, it’s estimated that by the year 2020 over 60 percent of jobs will require post-secondary education. Many professionals are beginning to realize that a bachelor’s degree is not sufficient. You can’t expect information you gained before you started your career to keep you up to date, especially at the rate that the world is changing. Continuing education will help you remain equipped with valuable tools and information, and it will help you achieve the career development you seek. Keep in mind that the more current you keep your knowledge and skills, the better your chances are of remaining valuable to the team.

Source: Mariliza Karrera is a staff writer for Career Addict, the leading online career and employment website that provides tools and industry knowledge to help people succeed in their careers and achieve professional goals. Career Addict provides a wide range of services, from a comprehensive career advice blog and professional CV writing services to a state-of-the-art job board.

Ask The Most Important Interview Question

Business blogger Brendan Reid says there is one specific question you can ask during an interview that will help you to clearly understand a job candidate. 

Ask this question: Walk me through how this role and company will be different from previous experiences you’ve had.

The Research Test: Reid says he likes this question because the answer always reveals how much the candidate has researched the company and the position. If they don’t refer to specifics or cite examples that indicate they’ve done their homework or if they don’t demonstrate a clear understanding of the role, then it will be apparent.

The Self-Awareness Test: Self-awareness is an attribute that Reid says should be highly valued in candidates. If you aren’t self-aware and you can’t evaluate yourself objectively, it’s very difficult to be successful on a team. This question is great at revealing self-awareness. The candidate is forced to think critically about their own experiences and compare them with this new one. In the process, they must point to gaps and deficiencies to provide a thoughtful answer. The best candidates will be able to thoughtfully analyze and identify areas of difference and speak to how they will manage through them.

The Depth of Competency Test: Many candidates can speak at a surface level about a topic or function. The Internet makes it easy to prep basic answers to most questions, so the goal here is to force candidates to demonstrate a depth of understanding. It allows them to show how they can apply concepts from one job to a different situation.

The Learning Test: Another important attribute to look for in candidates is dedication to learning. The best teams are the ones that learn and improve every day. By asking a question about differences and gaps, you provide the context for the best candidates to talk about learning. Some candidates will try to minimize the relevance of differences. The best candidates, on the other hand, will speak to specific steps they intend to take to close the gaps. They’ll talk about learning.

Try this question in your next interview as an efficient way to discover the capabilities of your job candidates.

Source: Brendan Reid is an executive at one of the largest software companies in the country and the author of Stealing the Corner Office. He also writes a business blog and provides one-on-one career coaching.

Managers: Pay Attention To The Back Row

I recently read an article about a woman attending a  Zumba class at the local recreation center. It’s a class made up of all ages of women and men (yes, men do Zumba too) from high school to retirement age. Some people try it a few times and never come back. Some are seasonal attendee, and there are the regular diehards-those of us who show up as often as we can.

Over time, a pecking order has emerged among this hodgepodge group. The back row is typically made up of newbies who are trying to learn the steps or who have a difficult time keeping up in class. The next two rows are typically a mix of regulars and sporadic attendees. Some of them are uncoordinated and need some extra space to move around in. Others in these rows tend to be somewhat experienced, but they don’t want any attention as they go through the steps. In the next two rows, right behind the instructor, are the regular attendees. They know the steps, they put in 100 percent effort and sometimes they even throw in some additional moves or use hand weights for the added challenge. Finally, we get to the front row-those who do Zumba alongside the instructor. Obviously, space there is tight here, so this self-appointed, elite group is typically comprised of three to four proteges who like to interact with the instructor and don’t mind having all eyes on them.

During the time in this class, what she noticed about the front row. No matter how crowded the room is, these people always make their way to the front assuming they have a reserved spot there. These participants like to observe themselves in the mirror and they are confident in knowing all the steps. This group has confidence, expertise and there’s a sense of elitism. But if anyone else from the class attempts to step into the front row, there’s an unspoken threat that they don’t belong there.

One of the most difficult jobs as a manager is to create a fair and equitable approach to team development and team dynamics. In an environment where personalities and personal agendas impact team dynamics, sometimes the loudest get the most attention and others with potential but softer voices go unnoticed.

As a leader, what can you do to optimize your team members to get the most creativity and productivity? Try these steps:

1. Manage the spotlight. Every team has a super star—that individual or group of individuals who stand out. They are experienced at what they do and they let others know it. While they might be cordial to the team, they control the team culture. They believe they deserve the spotlight and can take up the boss’s time and attention because of this.

It’s easy to give into these individuals because they make their presence known. Sometimes these individuals will self-appoint themselves as “second in command” due to their tenure or experience. Be careful with this as it can be confusing, and frankly, degrading, to other team members. As a leader, you certainly don’t want to discourage high performance. However, you also need to manage your time and attention across your entire team if you are going to optimize the team and get results. These individuals do best when they know they’ll have time with you, so set up one-on-one meetings with these individuals so they can share ideas. And make it clear that your job, as the leader, is to set the direction and goals. It’s not up to them.

2. Give the second and third rows a chance to break through to the top. Often there’s great talent on a team that’s held back or doesn’t get exposure because of the front-rowers. Take time to identify that second- and third-row talent. Who does their job well? Hits deadlines? Brings new ideas to the table? Identify those individuals and give them some additional responsibilities that will grow their exposure across the organization. Whether it’s running the next staff meeting or planning the next corporate customer event, give them their own spotlight moments that won’t get overshadowed.

3. Groom those diligent attendees into front-row experts. Remember the team members who show up each week and are getting better and better at their skill sets. These team members might not have the skills down like other team members, but they are learning and have the potential to be part of the “front row” someday. If that’s the case, invest in these team members. Send them to professional development programs to hone their skills. Set them up with mentors in your organization. Help groom their skills and give them the confidence that they are up-and-coming high performers. By investing in them, you are not only building your bench strength for the future, you are also building employee engagement and, hopefully, employee tenure.

4. Don’t let those back-row success stories go unnoticed. Finally, don’t ignore the back row. The truth about the back row is that some of these team members will drop out or move to other teams. However, there are a few who will begin to move their way up in terms of skill development.

Be available to coach these back rowers and provide them with clear direction and instruction. With these team members, you’ll need to be proactive, reaching out to them individually and assessing their level of interest and engagement. By spending the extra time, you can determine where there are opportunities for improvement and where there are gaps in skills and contributions to the team.

There is also the opportunity to identify back-row success stories. These are individuals who quietly and unassumingly contribute in a very significant way to the team. Discover these successes and let others know.

Pay attention to your team dynamics and adjust the time you spend with team members based on their level of expertise and visibility.

Source: Cassandra Johnson is a tech-savvy marketing communications consultant and freelance writer. She reports on the latest trends in the promotional products industry, public relations, direct marketing, e-marketing and more. She supports clients in a variety of industries, including promotional products, hospitality, financial services and technology.

The Real Facts About the Coffee Shop Effect

Myfavorite invention of all time is the one I can’t live without—my laptop. It’s not because of its powerful software or its ability to create content, but because of its flexibility. My laptop gives me

freedom. I can work in the office, from home, by the pool or at my local Starbucks. Changing my work location helps me with productivity when I get brain fog or writer’s block. In fact, I can often get more done in one hour at Starbuck’s than in an entire morning at the office. The question is, why? Freelance writer Kat Boogaard asked this question, too, in her recent blog.

1. Your brain loves novelty. Boogaard says that the human brain has been proven to constantly seek novelty, rather than the repetitive and mundane. It’s a classic case of “shiny object syndrome.” Whether or not you’re aware of it, you’re always keeping your eyes peeled for what’s new and exciting.

When you’re presented with something different, your brain releases dopamine. Known to many people as the feel-good brain chemical, dopamine was previously thought to be a reward in itself. Recent studies, however, have shown it’s more closely tied to motivation—meaning dopamine inspires you to seek out a reward, rather than acting as a reward itself.

So, by creating a fresh, new work environment, a la Starbucks, you are providing a blank canvas for your brain to get stimulated. By focusing on your to-do list in your new environment, you are exercising your brain’s neuroplasticity. So, what you see as being more efficient in a different location is your brain thinking about the tasks in a different light. By doing this, you are climbing out of the stale rut you were in before, activating your brain’s ability to think about things in a new way.

2. You easily fall victim to unproductive routiness. We all have routines in our lives, and sometimes these routines, or rituals, are comforting. However, sometimes these routines can become—well, so routine—that they are unproductive. That’s why, when you need to put something together for work, it’s easy to get distracted by the blackhole known as Facebook or Twitter, or another social media channel. Sometimes a different work environment helps to counteract these bad habits and get productive again.
Boogaard shares this quote from Ralph Ryback, M.D., in an article in Psychology Today. He says, “Environmental cues are essential when it comes to habit formation, in part because the brain is excellent at connecting an environment with a specific situation.”

Pay attention to what productivity boosters you enjoy most and think about how to incorporate them back at your desk.

3. You set intentions to get more done. Is it the actual change of environment that makes you more productive, or is it your intention to work better or smarter in the new environment? Boogaard says that it’s both of those things. Changing your work environment does indeed have an impact on your brain and your level of motivation. But, there’s a lot to be said for good intentions as well. It’s as if you’ve snapped your brain into saying, “I’m going to get through my list.” Intention can be a powerful tool.

As reported by the Harvard Business Review, William A. Tiller, a professor emeritus at Stanford University, is quoted from the book, Intention Experiment, by Lynne McTaggart, as saying, “For the last 400 years, an unstated assumption of science is that human intention cannot affect what we call physical reality. Our experimental research of the past decade shows that, for today’s world and under the right conditions, this assumption is no longer correct.”

In other words, your intention makes a difference. The next time you feel like you’re just barely slogging through your workload, consider heading to a new environment with the intention of getting things done. You’ll likely be surprised by how much it helps your productivity.

Source: Kat Boogaard is a freelance writer and blogger who finally gathered her courage, sprinted away from her cubicle, and started her own business. Now, she lends her voice to various brands and publications to help them craft content that engages their audience. Beyond that, she helps other hopeful freelancers figure out how to jump ship from their jobs and create their own heart-centered and hustle-filled businesses.

Build Brand Value Through Events

To build a brand today, you need to be known for more than just your product. You need to be known for your knowledge, expertise and experience. Events can be a great way to engage others and immerse them in your brand.

Just look at Dreamforce, the annual event hosted by Salesforce that brings together more than 170,000 marketers and digital technology experts from 91 countries. It’s an experience that includes speakers, motivational keynotes, a top-of-the-line trade show, concerts, philanthropy and more that all contributes to the brand equity of Salesforce.

Here we’re sharing these tips from Tony Delmercado, COO of Hawk Media, to help you creating events that epitomize your brand.

1. Know the “why” behind your event. The first thing you need to do—before anyone will trust you or become a loyal fan—is consider what real, emotional connections you can build between your customers and your brand. Then you need to understand why you are hosting the event. Why do you incorporate your brand when you do? Any event you plan should embody your brand’s values and message, so try to infuse your company’s core values into the activities wherever possible to produce a unique and memorable experience.

2. Focus on the right things to develop your event. There are a many logistics involved in event planning. The key to developing the most engaging events lies in knowing who you are as a company and why you exist in the world. What are your core values that need to be represented? Your reason for existing, in other words, needs to spur everything you do, large or small.

3. Involve your most enthusiastic staff and customers. This isn’t just about the people working the event. Proactively seed the audience and the venue with people who are superfans of your brand, even if they’re not the most knowledgeable on how your company works. Enthusiasm spreads.

A great way to create a strong emotional connection to your brand is to hold an event packed with your most ardent supporters. These people can help shape a more personalized vibe at the event, so that the overall experience helps your guests see and understand how your company truly “gets” them.

Also, cherry-pick your own team members and put people either on the agenda or in the audience who you think will have a positive impact during smaller, one-on-one conversations. This is akin to getting your three best guests on your list because you know they’ll be the life of the party and set the tone for the room.

4. Align the event with your broader mission. Can you take your brand’s purpose in the world and grow an event around it? Dreamforce is a primary example of this. At this event, they had 20 monks leading daily mindful sessions and attendees help stuff 1,500 backpacks with school supplies for hurricane victims—both representative of the core values of Salesforce.

Hosting events is a fun and exciting way to grow your brand. If you focus on your why, you’ll get to connect with people in strategic positions, craft killer experiences that build affection and loyalty in your customer base, and grow your business by introducing it to new potential customers.

Source: Tony Delmercado is the COO at Hawke Media and the founder of 1099.me.

Are You Ditching Decision Making?

Have you ever made a bad decision, then looked back and wondered why? Of course, we’ve all done this. I look back and wonder: Why did I turn down that offer to work for an agency in New York? Why did I charge the customer so much? Why did I hire that friend of a friend who wasn’t really qualified?

We all make bad decisions, but as business blogger Darius Foroux points out, those bad decisions never seem like bad decisions in the moment.

In a recent post, Foroux shares some key points about the decision-making process from two of the most successful investors of all time, Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger, who were featured in Buffet’s biography by Alice Schroeder. 

Don’t Overthink. Smart people are way too preoccupied with doing the right things. They want to have the perfect life, career, house, business, car, holiday, etc. When you put too much pressure on yourself to make the right decisions, you get analysis paralysis with no good outcome. The only way you can stop overthinking is to make yourself aware of your thinking process.

Do This Instead: Make Small Decisions Early. Foroux referred to the way Charlie Munger thinks. One of his decision-making strategies is to avoid mistakes. But that can be interpreted in different ways. You can fear decisions altogether because you might make mistakes. What happens is that you don’t make decisions at all. As Munger says: “The difference between a good business and a bad business is that good businesses throw up one easy decision after another. The bad businesses throw up painful decisions time after time.

Foroux interprets this as follows: When you make small decisions early, before they become big—it’s easy. When you put off decisions, they become big—and painful.

For example, Foroux said he was not happy with the email provider used to send out his newsletter and for a long time put off moving to another vendor. The hassle of making that move got bigger every day. Had he moved it early, it would have been easy. By waiting, it became a more painful process.

Earlier Decisions Lead To Better Decisions. The earlier and more you decide, the more chance that you make better decisions. Not making a decision is also a decision. If that’s a conscious move, that’s okay. You think about something, and you decide that doing nothing is the best option.

However, if you are putting off a decision, then you need think why you are doing it. No matter what, you’re making decisions all the time. Instead of making fewer conscious decisions, we need to make them earlier.

Source: Darius Foroux is an entrepreneur, blogger and podcaster who focuses on productivity, habits, decision-making and personal finance.

Four Things That Decrease Productivity At Work

I’ve been working in my professional field for a long time, but it seems that lately I’m not getting as much work accomplished. It may be the changes I’ve experienced. My physical office has changed from a separate space with a door to an open work environment. My role has changed with added responsibility and more people needing to meet with me and needing direction. And well, I’ve changed—older, wiser and maybe not as available to jump in and volunteer at work.

If you feel like you aren’t getting the same results that you once did, it’s time to carefully consider the underlying causes of your diminishing returns. Here, we share these recommendations from John Rampton, founder of the payment company, Due.

1. Poor office ergonomics. You may think that office ergonomics is just a buzzword used by furniture and equipment suppliers who want to pad their bottom lines, but the reality is that issues in this area can have a tremendous impact on productivity.

According to one research study, an insurance company saw a $620,000 improvement in productivity from a $500,000 investment in ergonomic furnishings. Things like poor back support, cramped spaces, lack of elbow support, harsh lighting, noisy settings and other factors could be slowing you down. By fixing these issues, you may see a direct uptick in output.

2. Complex approval processes. Few things are more frustrating than roadblocks when decisions need to be made. Approval processes can often be unnecessarily complex, and it can take days or weeks to get green-lighted on something simple. Sometimes instilling steps, like opting for electronic signatures, can save a significant amount of time that you can apply to something else.

3. Excessive multitasking. The average professional in today’s work environment assumes they’re proficient at multitasking. But the question is, are you actually being more productive? According to research conducted at Stanford University, multitasking makes you far less productive than doing one single thing. Furthermore, the long-term effects of multitasking result in poor information recall, lack of focus and a lower overall IQ.

4. Poor lunch diet. Something as basic as what you eat for lunch probably impacts your productivity back at the office. This is especially true if you’re grabbing fast food on a regular basis. If you have a heavy lunch, your body is going to spend energy trying to break down the refined carbohydrates, causing you to feel sluggish or sleepy. Focus on those foods that will give you energy and boost through the afternoon.

Try these basic tips to get your productivity back on track. When handled properly, the results can be transformational.

Source: John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the payments company Due.

Five Key Steps To Solution Selling

My company sells products and services to large health systems. Every day, our account representatives work to attract the attention of procurement and supply chain directors. Because of the way our prospecting system works, it’s possible the prospect could be contacted by more than one rep from our organization. Thus, we sometimes we find ourselves competing internally for both the same prospect’s business.

This is the unintended outcome, not an integrated solution, and it’s a common challenge within B2B sales no matter which vertical industry you call on.

Here, we share these five key reminders to help you better align your messaging to provide a high-value, integrated-solution sales approach, from Steve Gruber, co-founder of Venture Accelerator Partners.

1. Consider The Customer’s Pain Points. Understand what is causing pain for your prospects’ business. The better you understand this, the better you can service their needs. A customer may call in with an issue such as, “I can’t access my wireless router.” A simple answer could be “Reset your router.” However, the same challenge could be the result of a larger business problem. Perhaps the customer’s wi-fi network isn’t producing a signal which can lead to a considerable amount of lost productivity. It is through probing questions and inquiring as to the extent of the problem that you can gain a better grasp of your customers’ needs.

2. Engage, Then Inform. When first contacting your prospect, ensure your message immediately targets the business pains the prospect is facing. You want to try to capture that person’s eye (or ear) right away whether you are contacting them by email or phone. The goal is to grab their attention and encourage your prospect to read and/or hear more about what you offer.

3. Focus On Solutions, Not Products. The sale of a product or service ultimately results from solving a problem. For example, you don’t buy a bottle of Vitamin Water because you like the color. You purchase it to quench your thirst. The drink solves the problem of being thirsty.

4. Highlight Your Differences. Just because your solution can solve a business challenge, doesn’t mean you have the only solution on the market. You need to be able to position yourself against your competitors and convince the prospect that your solution is the best one. And remember, if you don’t have a direct competitor, there are always indirect competitors. Be sure to highlight how you can help alleviate their pain points, and what differentiates your products or services. Be specific. Don’t make statements such as, “We have the best customer service.” It doesn’t mean much and is overused. Instead, add some quantitative measures into your pitch.

5. Sell The True Value. When building your value proposition, focus your attention on hitting core items that show a business value. A solid value proposition needs to be underpinned on one or more of these four fundamental business drivers: Drive revenues reduce expenses; create an efficiency and mitigate a risk.

When building your story, quantitatively include metrics that would resonate with the customer and are hitting on one or more of the four key areas above.

Source: Since founding Venture Accelerator Partners in 2006, Steve Gruber has assisted firms in generating millions of dollars in revenue, driving millions of website pageviews and booking hundreds of meetings. With more than 20 years of sales leadership, business development, direct sales and marketing experience, he has dramatically increased sales at growing companies in industries from business software and IT to telecoms, cleantech and industrial.