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January 2014

America and Motivational Maps

Motivational Maps are operating in 12 countries but not the United States of America, which is clearly a tragedy. Why? Because I – with reservations (and the same is true of England, my home!) – love America. Oddly, I have never been there; yes, I have been to Canada (and they have Maps), and yes, stood at the Niagara Falls with the border just there in front of me. But no, I never crossed. My wife has been; my two sons have been; and my youngest son was the only Brit to win an award at the Empire Bar Mock Trials in New York in 2010. What an experience he had there, which he loved – but, I digress.

As I was saying, but I haven’t been. But so many of my heroes are American. I watched Rawhide in the Sixties and Clint Eastwood has been a hero ever since. The first pop album I ever bought was Pet Sounds and the Beach Boys have been one of my all-time favourite music bands ever since. And as for poetry and literature, where do I start? And more importantly for this discussion the influence of the great American personal development gurus on me.

First, Brian Tracy – a master teacher (admittedly, he started off a Canadian) – but then there’s Joan Borysenko, Wayne Dyer and a host more. And this leads to the Maps because in my studies of some of these incredible people I came across Abraham Maslow and Edgar Schein, two great academics whose work has profoundly affected so many, and who became for me the root of developing Motivational Maps. It was looking at their work, together with the Enneagram, that enabled me to see how to construct a motivational profiling tool.

And having said the Enneagram: that 3000 year old personality diagnostic may well have remained invisible if not for the pioneering work of Americans like Helen Palmer and Richard Riso who disseminated what Claudio Naranjo brought to California in 1971. In the good ‘ol American way they systematised what was an oral tradition, and in doing so made it available to millions. I was one of those millions, and when I saw it I realised how the pieces fit for motivation.

Thus America and Motivational Maps are really partners; they go together like a hand in a glove; they fit because the core ideas of the Maps actually derived from America itself and I am proud of that fact. And so as I now through Hugh Liddle, the superb sales coaching guru, get interviewed on blog radio for America I am almost in America – I am coming across some airwave or internet ether and I can almost smell America. So close.

Now all we need is one or two or three of those truly enterprising American spirits, those self-starters, those indomitable commercial warriors to try the Map, realise that yes America does indeed need it, and then begin the journey to convert the country and bring Motivational Maps home. A dream? Of course, but that’s exactly why it’s perfect for America, isn’t it?

Finding Three Reasons Why Anyone Should Buy from You

It is certainly true that the life blood of any company is its sales; I would not want to make a fetish of this as some companies do to the extent that everybody else is made to feel a second class citizen. Clearly, the well run organisation focuses on sales and sees all the other departments as crucial in supporting that activity. Equally, and more pertinently for this debate, I don’t want to fall into the other trap either: namely, of subordinating sales to the marketing function. So far as all non- web businesses are concerned it seems to me that there can be a massive over-reliance on marketing that can be fatal in the long and not so long run.

What do I mean by this? I mean that there is a lot of theory and academia around marketing that can bamboozle the unwary into thinking they are making progress, thinking they are working on the business, when all they are doing is crossing ‘i’ and dotting ‘t’s in trying to formulate the perfect brand and ideal marketing collateral. Don’t get me wrong, getting a great brand, and getting first-rate collateral is a major spur to sales, on or off the web. But I have seen individuals and companies spend so much time trying to get all this right, they go bust before the sales occur that might have saved them.

Compared with marketing, sales is dirty and practical. Yes, there are some theories and models which are useful, but ultimately it’s as simple, and as challenging, as having a product or service and asking someone else if they wish to purchase it.

There is one question I have found that constantly helps the sales process, however, and which I have also found that marketers frequently have no good answer to. It is for a company or an individual to ask themselves this: give yourself three reasons why anybody should buy from you? And I have found that in answering this question, 95% of the time individuals and organisations make the classic mistake of talking features rather than benefits and outcomes. Further, they frequently too relapse into talking about themselves and their own greatness rather than having any sense of what’s in it for the purchaser. I guess this is a natural enough tendency: we get excited by what we are offering, failing to see how we need to see it from the consumer’s point of view.

So, typically, when I ask individuals why should I buy from you the answers I get are: because I/we are the best, because I/we have been in business for 25 years, because I/we are certified/qualified/have an MBA/PhD, because I/we are quality, even because I/we go the extra mile for our customers. Yes, but what does going the extra mile actually mean?

There are five great words that everyone in sales needs to engrave within their sentence structures if they want to hit benefits: improve, increase, gain, save, and reduce. And these five words need to link to true benefits, not to features. In the case of my own business, which is about motivation, it is easy to make this mistake: we increase the motivation of your staff. Is that good? Or, is this better: we increase the motivation of your staff, typically by 10-25% when we run our programs. Yet neither are any real good, since motivation is mostly a feature for companies and not a benefit they really seek.

The benefit of motivation is either performance, or productivity or profit. Those are what the leader is interested in. And so I do have three reason why somebody should buy from me and the first is, because I can increase the productivity of your staff, typically when I run the program, by 10-25%. Now, that grabs the attention of the leader if that  - lack of productivity – is the specific pain they are experiencing.

Coming back, then to the five words: we link them (increase, improve, gain) with performance, productivity or profits (or sales), or we link them (reduce, save) with efficiencies and cost-cuttings.

Why should I buy from you? I can typically increase your sales by 15% within 6 months; I can improve the quality of delivery of your key staff by 10% in three months; I can help you gain 20% more productive time in a week to work on more important elements of your business; I can reduce your average staff turnover by some 50%, thus saving you £‘000s in one year; I can save you from losing your top 10 key staff to competitors by implementing this engagement process I use.

Clearly, all these benefit type statements have one thing in common: they are solution to a problem that the boss or MD or leader has. Your having an MBA, or being in business for 25 years,or being a great guy (or gal), isn’t. So ask yourself this question before you leave this blog – and if you are in business – and make sure you answer it if you want a great 2014: what three reasons are there why anyone should buy from me?

Motivational Maps and Selling

Our product, Motivational Maps, has many applications and some of them are pretty obvious: motivation, performance, productivity, team building, appraisal, and recruitment to mention the most obvious. But selling? How is Motivational Maps relevant to selling and increasing sales? The good news is that Motivational Maps is highly relevant to sales and there are three areas that I briefly want to consider.

First, and most directly, let’s remind ourselves of that great truism that Brian Tracy, one of the world’s leading sales trainers, observed: “50% of any sale is a transfer of enthusiasm”. That’s right! And what does that mean? It means that you can train people on every identifiable sales skill available: how to present, how to close, how to handle objections and so on and so forth, and you can make them encyclopaedias of knowledge about selling, but at the end of the day without that enthusiasm, they are likely – 50% likely - to fail. So what is enthusiasm? It’s an infectious energy that comes from belief and love and purpose – and it’s the brother or sister of motivation, that other word for profound levels of energy that get things done. In short, Tracy is saying that selling is 50% down to motivation.

In any situation there is a logical and an emotional component to buying. The logical component is effectively the ‘spec’ – what we need to buy to advance our business whether it be a management information system,  a CRM, some software, a computer, a phone, a stapler, office paper and paper clips – and we have various criteria of which price is one component. Only a foolish business always buys the ‘cheapest’ product or service: do you want the best price or the best value is a great question to rebut the cheapo mind-set. Given the spec, and of course different sectors and industries can widely variant stances on how flexible their buyers can be, it should be the case that purchases are made on a logical basis. Yea! Should be – but are they?

Of course not, emotion always creeps into the equation, and in some instances, including some of the most senior buying decisions, the emotional decision trumps any logical choice. For my own part KLT is vital: I need to Know someone, Like someone, Trust someone, first, and then I’ll consider their logical offering second. So knowing someone,  and getting them to like you as a pre-requisite to a successful sales pitch is vital.

I am not a particularly great sales person but using Motivational Maps I can get to know people and assist them in their efforts to like me! How – by getting them to do a Map. Let me paint a typical scenario. I get a call from a business association asking me to be the guest speaker talking about motivation at a business breakfast. There are 50 or Managing Directors, Finance Directors, HR specialists in attendance. I do my thing. At the end I say, “And if you like what you’ve heard and would like to do a complimentary map, give me your business card before I go with the word MAP written on it. Somewhere between 10 and 20 – let’s say 15 – people do just that. And then about 10 do a map. Immediately I know exactly what the motivational hot buttons of ten people who have qualified themselves and expressed an interest. I follow the trail and convert 3 or 4 of the 10 into clients. But the conversion is based on pitching the solution to their problem within the language of their motivators – in other words, what they want. So this is not manipulative; it’s simply giving people what they want. Or as Dr Tony Alessandra puts it in his great book, The Platinum Rule: it’s doing to others as they want to be done by!

Allowing people to do Motivational Maps, therefore, is a wonderful way of getting underneath their skin and really understanding what they want at an emotional level. But that’s just the start. There are two other important applications of Motivational Maps to sales.

The first is working with sales managers; for the truth is most managers, including sales managers, do not even know what motivates their self, never mind their team members. We see time and time again what we call wrong reward strategies applied that have the opposite effect on a sales team and eventually lead to under-performance. One of the worst examples of this is the blind assumption that everyone is motivated by money, so money is the only reward. This is firstly palpably untrue, and secondly desperately damaging to the long term effectiveness of any sales team. So Motivational Maps here are invaluable.

And finally, Motivational Maps is brilliant for giving the owners and senior people in an organisation an immediate fix on how the sales team is really doing; for, if Tracy is right, measuring the total motivational score of a sales team, or division even, is going to provide a massive insight in how things really are. One might argue that this would be apparent from the targets; but not so, except when a company is on an exceptional roll. The truth is, many companies have sales forces that blind them with monthly numbers and prospects and leads and jam tomorrow that it can literally takes years to work out that all the activity and promises were, after all, smoke and mirrors, and another Sales Director bites the dust yet with his CV intact for his next appointment!! Motivational Maps can see through all that. How? By measuring the motivations of these team: there needs to be a correlation between high performance and motivation? Is there?

I have covered these areas in brief, but I hope you can see from my analysis just how profoundly Motivational Maps and selling are related. Perhaps the next question is: are you using Motivational Maps in your sales force or process? If not, then contact me for a complimentary Map, but remember if you do I will see what you really want, yes, YOU!

New Year's Resolutions or Intentions for 2014

Here I am again at the end of the year contemplating what has been, and what may appear in 2014. This year has a particular blessed, although my tumour reappeared in a CT scan earlier in the year. Somehow, though, I believe that all is well and will be well.
But let me ask you?  Are you setting yourself a New Year's Resolution this year? Will this be a positive boost to you in 2014 or will you find your resolution starts well and fizzles after a week or two?

What has been your experience in previous years? How well are you setting yourself up for success when you create your New Year's resolutions?

I think New Year’s resolutions are imperfect, but not having resolutions is worse. As Brian Tracy says, they are conscious decisions - and this can frighten and paralyse us at a sub-conscious level.
Two approaches to this may help. One is the simple substitution of the word ‘intention’ for resolution. Let’s make intentions as these are a lot less frightening, and don’t create that same onerous sense of commitment – and hence potential failure.

The second idea is to use the well-known Kaizen technique, which is really incredibly powerful. When we make resolutions, because they are Resolutions, on New Year’s Eve – notice all the capitals – they tend to be big (to lose a stone, make a million) or absolute (stop drinking altogether), and this too disturbs us.

Kaizen technique replaces all this angst by asking the simple question: what is the smallest possible step I could take towards my destination? Do that for as long as it comfortable. Then, increase – do more - at that point. So, for example, instead of resolving to lose a stone in weight, the kaizen might be: to climb one flight of stairs to my office every day/once a week instead of using the lift all the way.

Finally, to do anything new one should consider, what then do I stop doing? And that leads on to – what do I do more of and what should I do less of? Finally, there are some things which are just fine – and I need to continue doing them just as I always have. I call this process the Stop-Start Review and it is an ideal way to help people get a handle on controlling their time and their priorities.

For me then, as I trust for you, 2014 is a year of hope and opportunity. I have made five resolutions – intentions - for the year in discussion with my family, and I intend to ‘kaisen’ all of them. I hope this time next year to be able to tell you that I have achieved them all. So please accept my best wishes to you all and your intentions for 2014!