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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Service & Sales Is There a Difference? Divided? Separate but Equal?

I know it isn’t fall yet, but this heat is starting to wear on people I have spoken with lately (not me, I say bring it on) but I thought this picture of the gorge with the water down the middle was quite fitting. I do not believe that sales and service are divided but I do know that they are different. Having worked my entire career in sales until this past year I have been thinking quite a bit about the differences in sales vs service. Just year ago, I designed and wrote a sales training manual for my former company and would have told you that there were minimal differences between the two. With my most recent company I was the Service Director that partnered with a well tenured sales person and I did notice some differences.

Some of the differences I noticed may have been due in part to my issue of having to control and know what I am selling and services from start to finish. It took me a while to understand that the sales person (we had quite a few wonderful similarities) also had the same need and desire for control. It came down to trust, could she trust me to deliver what she was out selling and could I trust her not to over sell or over commit to our customers on what we could deliver and on time with great value. All this while working together and as a team because in some ways I used to think that the role of service was to deliver and follow-up on what sales was negotiating. Looking back this way of thinking isn’t healthy for any company.

I am sure that there are differences depending on the structure of your organization but I want to attempt to see the differences in black and white. I am not sure why, I guess I am still trying to define what blend of sales and service works best for the customer while igniting passion in the staff and I am a bit on the fence.


  • Prospecting future customers
  • Identifying existing or previous customers who are not yet capitalized
  • Soliciting via phone, email, social media, marketing campaigns
  • Creating or working in part to create these campaigns
  • Networking both in the profit and not for profit sectors to gain connections and industry knowledge
  • Most often has met the customer in person or spent a great deal of phone/face time
  • Designs packages of the product or service that fit the customers needs and budget
  • Brought in to handle major problems/issues with customer
  • Is typically responsible for renewals/re-orders
  • Working on a commissioned basis typically
  • Has a quota to meet
  • Has a specific sector of customers to service and is an expert in the sector or with that product
  • Has a schedule of when and how to follow-up with the customer
  • Handles issues and problems with product or service
  • Can take future orders of existing customers
  • Not usually responsible or equipped for up selling or cross selling
  • Has not met the customer and many times the contact the service person has differs from the sales person
  • Networking is not a typically activity or expectation of this person
  • Responsible for showing performance results to sales and executive team that will be brought to customer
  • Typically paid hourly/salary
  • Judged by service score cards, renewals, satisfaction
Getting some of this out on paper, even though much of this is generalization based on experience, was eye-opening for me in that there are definite areas for opportunity within organizations when it comes to truly making the most out of your sales and service partnerships. It also prompted me with some ideas about structure within a company and why some operations are more successful than others. The biggest impact you want to keep in mind when looking at your sales and service lay out are the impact on your team first and your customer second because the former can definitely have repercussions on the latter.

Limitless – What a Concept

Last night was the last day of my vacation, after a great day that included kayaking on Lake Lure, a nap, a great ride to Black Mountain with a stop at the Straightaway Cafe and then home to eat Southern Nachos (see dlicious opinions for the recipe soon), a great bottle of cab and watched the movie Limitless with Bradley Cooper. What a concept, take a pill and you recall everything you ever read/saw, can absorb information at lightning speed and expel it in paragraph form so that you sound like an absolute genius! Sign me up.

Can this happen? Is it happening already? For now I am going with a big fat NO, most likely because I would like to believe that I can still be a bit smarter than some on my own, that I can naturally put pieces together and explain how things work and better than that I enjoy learning from others and I would lose that in this concept. No, I can’t write or even barely spell algorithm, but for now I don’t need to. Successful people set up there lives so that they surround themselves with people that they can learn from, one person cannot do all the work. I was just reading an article on Lauren Dixon of Dixon Schwabl, a small business owner in Rochester who made the Best Small Company to Work for in America. How? Hiring people who are smarter than her, she doesn’t need the pill either.

So, if we look at life as limitless or maybe start small with sections of our lives – our potential, our careers or our network, the concept is there and can work.

Career without limits:

  • Don’t be intimidated by things you don’t know
  • Don’t pretend to know things you don’t
  • Act with confidence and openness
  • Ask questions of others even if you think you know the answer
  • Don’t be afraid to fail or be wrong
  • Admit your mistakes
  • Keep learning
  • Remain active
  • Look at those you feel have achieved greatness and understand how they got there
  • Become the authority on a subject/area
  • Be passionate about what you are doing and foster that passion in others
  • Be fearless without being reckless
  • Show care and decisions that you make
  • Be inspired by something or someone
The Straightaway Cafe I mentioned in the first part of this post, is owned by a couple who moved to the area from Alaska. They have traveled quite a bit and always liked stopping off at random places where local people met up to share a beer, stories and music, so that is exactly what they built. I will have to go back and post pictures because from the look of the outside of this place (there is a horse pasture in the front) you may not think to even stop, but everything about it was friendly and charming. To me, not knowing their back story, it appears that their lives are limitless.

Who is in Your Community & Why We Need One? Examples from Joplin, MO

I am not sure if you noticed, but I took a week off to go home and visit my family and friends; it was so good to see everyone especially now that I live in a new city and have to create a new community for myself both personally and professionally. It is tough to start over in a new place, even though I am outgoing and truly enjoy meeting new people it takes time. Now that I am back “home” in Asheville and reflecting on my week “home” in Rochester, I am reminded of a great conversation I had with my dad regarding his temporary home in Joplin, MO.

My dads work brings him to all types of disasters and he has seen the aftermath of Hugo, Katrina, 911 and Joplin to name a few tragedies and he said of all the devastation, Joplin is the worst. It happened so quickly, there was just no way to prepare. The project he is working on is for 8 schools that were destroyed and will take about 3 years to rebuild, can you imagine? Although everyone is under duress and has lost so much he said he has never experienced such a sense of community amongst people. Everyone is willing to help, no one feels like they are worse off than their neighbor and that in time things will come back together.

What creates a community like this? A more popular term for business, is network, so what creates a network like this? It is the people you surround yourself with but more than that it is what your level of commitment to the community is that makes it successful.

  • willingness to share ideas without asking for something in return
  • offering a hand/favor to those in need
  • being honest and truthful when it comes to what you can and can’t do
  • having limited expectations of others
  • looking at the big picture rather than instant gratification or reward
  • understanding that you don’t know what makes a person act the way they do and seeing the good
  • unite others who have similar interests
  • stay off of the soap box and out of the soap operas (there is a reason why these are going off the air)
  • be yourself, you will attract like minded people (and some others too)
  • if you see a gap investigating ways to fill it
May be this is too “soft” for business and networking, but I would like to believe that even the biggest shark gives back and rounds out their community. A dear colleague of mine had said just the other day, she did not get to where she was by sitting behind a desk writing policies, it is about meeting people learning, sharing and creating a community. We haven’t heard much in the news regarding the devastation in Joplin, which is sad to me, but I can tell you my dad will be there full time through October and he is just on the first phase of one project if that gives you any sense of the scope of what happened there.

Ways to help:

The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency is providing details on donating and volunteering to help Missourians recover and rebuild.

Health professionals interested in volunteering are asked to sign up on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Show-Me Response website.

The American Red Cross has opened shelters in Missouri and Minnesota. The shelter in Joplin is located at Missouri Southern State University, and the Red Cross is working to provide transportation to the shelter for those in need. The Red Cross is also distributing food, cleanup supplies and comfort kits, and sending health workers to provide immediate care.

Text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or visit thewebsite to donate, give blood or volunteer.

AmeriCares has sent disaster-relief personnel to Joplin, and it’s working with Access Family Care Clinic to help victims. This expands AmeriCares’ tornado relief operation, which has been assisting various Southern states as they recover from their own recent tornado outbreak.

Donations to AmeriCares can be made online or by phone at 1-800-486-HELP.

How to Handle the New Kid (being one and working with one)

No one, let me repeat, no one, likes to be the new kid at the office no matter how old they are and on the other hand the existing regime is hesitate to the new person too. This has gone on since our days of junior high, walking down the halls nervous and awkward hoping that we will fit in somewhere and make a new friend. More importantly that we will stand out for the right reasons or just fade in to the background (depending on our personality).

Interestingly enough both the new hire and the exisiting employees are reluctant for similar reasons:

  1. Training: learning new things is tough, you want to be fast and efficient and show what you know already. Training new people takes away from your daily work and we already have acknowledged that we are all working harder and with less on most days so this can feel like a burden, especially without a strong plan in place.
  2.  Where do you fit: Knowing your place and the reality of your place. Hopefully this was clearly defined during the interview AND orientation process then reiterated in your team meeting both for the new person as well as the team. What a relief it is when there isn’t the tension of wondering if you will step on someones toes or understanding why you are no longer working on a particular project by yourself.
  3. Remove your prejudgments for the first month. This goes for both sides. Don’t worry about what someone looks like. Dress to impress but don’t over do it. Be sure to be a strong listener and don’t make assumptions. Give others and yourself the opportunity to learn about one another, don’t be too closed off and don’t share too much (have balance).

Employee Tips: Know that you have the ability to increase your success by working hard and not acting like a know it all. Even if you have the answer or the best solution in your mind, take time to discover why the company you are working for isn’t doing it that way and ask good questions, beyond “Why?”. Understand that not all companies are as well equipped or prepared to train and orientate you as they should be or your last company was. This may not be a reflection of how they operate as a business, it may just be a reaction to the speed in which they needed you or based on the needs of the business. Try to be patient and acclimate as best as possible.

Employer Tips: At minimum you must be prepared even if you don’t have the entire first 2-3 weeks planned out. Have an orientation packet complete with an agenda, handbook, training tools, org chart, phone/email list and job description. Have their desk ready with any items that they might need. Pair them with a work partner or office mentor beyond their trainer so that they have 2 people to go to besides you. Try not to run any incentive contests within the person first 3 weeks. Meet with them at the end of each day for the first week to 2 weeks and at the end of each week for their first 4-5 weeks giving feedback, asking questions and looking for new training opportunities.

Co-workers: This is a whole other section. Bottom line, don’t show off or push the work you don’t want to do on the new person. Act as a guide and an equal. Inquire about the persons background and learn from them. They were hired for a reason. Remeber all that complaining you were doing about the overload of work, assume they are there to ease some of the work load.

More to come on training and orientation but hopefully this will serve as a guide.

Branding, It’s Not Just For Cows (Is the term overused?)

Apparently I have a country theme going on in my brain the past two posts, but the title does seem fitting. Branding seems like an over used word these days, actually since I can remember. Although it is highly overused it is extremely important for us in our business lives, companies, products and services, even in our personal lives. Before I get on with my take, I wanted to share some synonyms for brand as a type which include cast, character, class, sort, grade, species and can also fall into the logo, trademark, imprint, hallmark categories when defined as a distinctive label or mark.

If you think to yourself what does branding or a brand/your brand mean to you, I would bet you think of how you want your brand to make you successful and standout in a positive light to your target audience. This isn’t an outlandish desire by any means but it may not be as accurate as it could be and we are all guilty of it at some point or another. I had recently asked some dear and trusted colleagues for their opinion on something I am working on and I got caught in a similar trap, trying to be too many things to too many people AND I KNEW BETTER. This is a recipe for disaster and one of the most common mistakes people and businesses make. It is understandable though because you are so eager and excited to get your name out to market (what market are you targeting?) and you don’t want to miss anyone (who can’t you afford to miss?) or have anyone miss you but trust me referrals and reputation go a long way!

Simple steps that I am going to reiterate to you that you MUST DO

  1. Write down 3 goals for your company, department or yourself you want to achieve in the next 9-12 months
  2. Write down, practice and use successfully 2x per week each for 6 weeks your 30 & 60 second elevator speech and ask for feedback (listen to and digest the feedback)- NO JOKE
  3. Read your mission statement out loud, what does it evoke in you? Read it to a trusted colleague, what does it evoke in them?
  4. Investigate your target audience, are they still your target? CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies may be a great target but take this down about three levels. How about CEO’s of Fortune 500 co that are in CA, WA and OR of breweries and wine distributors who don’t have strong sales management software. NOW THAT IS A TARGET MARKET
  5. Review 1-3 and draw parallels, be sure that there is symmetry
  6. Do 1-3 resonate to who you have defined in #4? How do you know?
So yes, we all want to be well branded but first we have to be sure our message is on track for what we are trying to say and who we are looking to say it too. Next we can look at the vehicles in which we get our message to market, we may need to test our message first though, HINT, HINT.

So You Want to Be a Cowboy

I did! Seriously, although I knew I wouldn’t qualify as a child being a girl and all, I really thought I would make a great cowboy. Roping calves, going on long adventures moving cattle across the West, eating off the land, it all was very mystical to me.  Now, I am not exactly sure how I would have survived all of that seriously strenuous manually and manly labor coupled with killing (and hunting) my own food, I am not very stealth, but that is my point, hindsight is 20/20 and if we knew how hard it would be would we have ever started?

I was reading a great interview from Richard Branson the other morning and he was talking about kids going to college and how to decide what is the best major to be successful in todays world. His answer was simply to be well-rounded and open to new opportunities and the twists in life. BE OPEN, it is difficult to do as we all have our own idea as to how things should be, but put that aside whether you are 21 or 51. As Branson stated, who could have predicted the amount of programmers and designers for phone APPS; we cannot predict the future but we can make ourselves available and knowledgeable to new ideas and processes. The old saying, knowledge is power, stay prepared and maybe even become an expert along the way.

My high school guidance counselor, Jim Rosenbeck, gave me the best piece of advice I could have ever received as a Junior in High School. We were talking about college majors, I was completely distraught because it seemed like everyone around me had a plan. He said, Powers, you will be successful no matter what you do, but you aren’t going to be a lawyer or a doctor so pick something that you will love to enjoy learning about because it will come to you more easily and allow you to enjoy your college experience more fully. So, I took his advice, have a degree in History, love to write and research and had a blast in college, yes I am very well rounded, thanks Jim! I have given this advice to countless high school and college students, even to non-traditional students going back later in life. DO WHAT YOU LOVE, YOU WILL FIND CHALLENGE IN ENOUGH THINGS IN LIFE.

We are all trying to determine what we want to be when we grow up and this statement always bugged me when adults would say it to me as a teenager. Honestly, like they couldn’t understand the pressure and importance of the decision of choosing your path for your entire future! This obviously makes me laugh now because the path is constantly changing, if you are open to moving, and that is one of the best things about life. The world has always been changing around us and some are better positioned for change at different times than others, but managing uncertainty and really being comfortable with it is sometimes the best thing you can do, that and keep reading.

Empowering Your Employees: Does everyone need to feel empowered?

Empowerment is important to most any successful business owner, manager, or executive. It is a motivator, a perk and can be a challenge.  To be empowered means that you have been given or inherited the right to make important decisions that affect the organization you work for, right? According to Webster’s, the word is defined as giving official authority, to enable or to promote the influence or self-actualization of.

So, can we provide all of our staff with official authority? Can we enable them? The answer is yes, but how and why are another story. Being the authority over how the phone is answered vs what the 3rd quarter bonus plan looks like are 2 separate tasks but both can be equally as important if presented in the right manner. There is a difference between giving someone a task to complete and empowering them, allowing them to be viewed by themselves and their peers as an opportunity for empowerment; to show value and to restate the authority.

So many times managers and owners empower staff, so they think, but they rarely support the authority that they blessed someone with and therefore  never took full advantage of the opportunity.   Not everyone in your company thinks like you, they may be more methodical and need clearer direction and defined guidelines before making a decision, where you as someone who makes split decisions all the time needs to recognize this difference and how to work with the different styles, just as the opposite may be true.

When empowering an employee you must:

  • Define their roles and responsibilities to them and their peers
  • Explain even briefly why you have made this decision and what impact you hope to see from this
  • Set deadlines and guidelines, even if your guideline is to make the decision they think best and implement because you trust their judgment
  • Allow for a brief conversation about why they came to a decision and if you would like them to track, even subjectively, the impact

I know, I know… too much touchy feely, sounds daunting and time consuming. Here is why this is important:

  • GEN Y: We have created a new generation of employees that are named Y because they have been raised to ask questions about Y things happen. Rather than have them come to you, wouldn’t you as the manager prefer to be the one who is setting the stage as you see fit?
  • Allowing others in your organization to make decisions keeps them thinking about your business and how it can improve rather than just punching a clock
  • Empowering your employees adds value to your overall employment benefits=loyalty and longevity
  • Do you really want to be the only person who can answer a question or make a decision? wouldn’t it be nice if your receptionist looked for ways to save you money and your service people created a customer loyalty program you would never have had time to think about?

Make the time, better yet, empower staff at different levels to empower those who fall under them. Yes, the initial investment is a big one but the return will be beyond your expectations!

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