How to Differentiate Yourself
How do you stand out in the crowd? Let’s face it there’s a million other people offering the relatively same product or service as you if not the identical product or service.
The famed sales trainer, Jeffery Gitomer says, “differentiate with value, or die with price.” He’s exactly right. But what is value? In terms of your business, it’s anything you do above and beyond the normal course of business that differentiates you in your prospect or clients eyes. Let’s keep it short and sweet this week. Here are 10 strategies that you can you use to differentiate yourself with value over your competition:
1. Stop cold calling please. It doesn't work. find out who you want to do business with and, connect with them on LinkedIn, follow them and their company on twitter, friend them on facebook and fan their page, and/or get introduced to them through a mutual connection. Take your time and build a relationship, or you are guaranteed to come off just as shallow and selfish as your commodity providing competitor. It takes time and hard, but fun, work. Do it.
2. When you call on a prospect give them something of value. Buy them lunch, bring them a gift they can use, or better yet, bring them or refer them business. Nothing in business says I love you more to someone, then stuffing their wallet.
3. Help your prospects and clients with their problems. We’re all in business and all face similar challenges. The scope and size may vary, but if you look to your network you certainly can find some solutions to help them out. Oh yeah, do it selflessly.
4. Be the go to lady or gentleman in your business that others look to for advice and guidance. The absolute fastest way to get recognized this way is to speak free to every group that you can get in front of. You will be perceived as an expert by default.
5. And to go with #4, be an expert in your industry. Make your business an art form. Learn everything you can about it, your business climate, what’s in it for your customer, and how you can deliver it more efficiently than anyone else.
6. Teach, don’t preach. People inherently like to learn. So don’t show up and throw up. Explain yourself likes its sliced bread. Customers and prospects will learn more from you and do more business with you as a result.
7. Under-promise and way over-deliver, not the other way around.
8. Do not pester them with silly follow calls that provide no value. In other words, don’t call and ask if they’ve made a decision. Call them and offer another value added solution, suggestion, or referral. They know why you’re calling.
9. Be genuine and nice. This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway.
10. Be grateful and show your gratitude. Every grateful person I know is far wealthier, both spiritually and financially, than pretty much everyone else.
Delivering more value and differentiating yourself from your competitors is not hard. It just takes work, and if you love your work this should be a labor of love. Get creative, be goofy, and have fun being different. Who knows, you may just end up fattening your clients wallet, your wallet and your spiritual wallet.
Leaders Don't Quit
Everyone faces adversity in all areas of life. One key difference between leaders who have a devoted team and the leaders who simply manage by title is real leaders never give up.
Life and work are full of challenges that test our resolve. How you respond says everything. Are you going to be held down, or will you rise to the challenge? Every great leader I’ve encountered has always risen to the challenge. They may not always succeed, but they step up and look their challenge right in the eye and go after it. Their teams respect them, and their competitors fear them as a result.
Leaders recognize that challenges are laced with fear, and it’s not that they are impervious to fear. They just refuse to be overtaken by the fear. They become even more courageous in the face of challange. Leaders know that if they quit they will lose the respect of not just their teams, but themselves, and greater damage can come from doing nothing.
Leaders look to minimize damage and maximize gain for their teams and company. They know that if they quit in the face of adversity they will lose the edge in whatever market they are making and whatever group they are influencing.
So how do leaders develop a never-give-up attitude. Here are six common threads all leaders use:
1. Leaders focus on the result they are after
2. Leaders focus on the well-being of their team
3. Leaders have drive attached to their results
4. Leaders read, watch & listen to positive/inspirational books, magazines, & videos daily
5. Leaders take care of themselves physically and prepare their bodies
6. Leaders anticipate the challenges ahead, & create a plan to mitigate them in advance
Let’s face it, adversity in your career and your personal life are going to come smack you in the head daily. Will you curl up and quit, or will you step up, be a leader, and make it happen? Fear is going to be there no matter what, so make it your friend and dance with it. Your colleagues, co-workers, and team are counting on you. Lead them to victory.
Leadership Lessons from Dad
What lessons did you learn growing up that have a profound impact on your leadership and management style?
Personally, my dad has been an unbelievable influence on my style and life over the years. Dad is a West Point graduate, very successful entrepreneur and all around great father, husband and man.
There’ve been many lessons over the years, too many to mention in this week’s issue, and I’ve selected seven lessons he’s taught me that I think are critical to anyone’s leadership and professional success.
1. Don’t ever leave the house without well polished shoes – the image you project to others and first impressions are everything. Odds are if you care enough to take care of your shoes, you’re likely to take care of the details in the other areas of your life. Your team will respect that about you subconsciously.
2. Let your playing do the talking – don’t run your mouth about how great you are and what you can do. Just do it as the Nike slogan goes. Real leaders take action and lead by example, and their teams, colleagues and subordinates see that. They will follow you because you’re willing to do what ‘s necessary, walk the walk, and make it happen.
3. Be a gentleman – It doesn’t cost you anymore to be nice, professional and gentlemanly (or ladylike) to everyone you meet. People will respect you more and follow your example. Be congruent with how you expect your team to behave. Lead by example.
4. 2 words / 1 word / 2 words – as an athlete dad asked me this all the time. The two words on the battlefield are “mean & viscous”, the one word is “intimidation”, and the two words are “kind & loving (from mom)”. On the battlefield these all make sense. In business, a blended approach works better. Your team and colleagues will respect your leadership style if you’re tough we needed, loving and generous when called for, and aggressive but polite and professional when it counts.
5. Experience is expensive and you always pay up front – a lesson I clearly keep learning! Seriously though, all success you achieve in life and leading will be filled with failures and losses. You must welcome them as a part of life on your path to success. Learn from them and take in their wealth of knowledge. Use it to coach and lead your team.
6. The only thing we have in life that is ours is our “word” – no one can take it from you. Guard it and cherish it. Say only what you mean, mean only what you say, and do what you say. People will follow you out of pure respect.
7. Give more of yourself and expect nothing in return – if you give to get, then you will quickly find out how transparent you are and nothing will come your way. Leaders give of themselves selflessly, and are rewarded with riches unimaginable by the rest because of it. They are selfless, and focused on providing more value than anyone else period. They garner huge respect as a result.
Leadership is defined in many ways. Really, it’s a set of behaviors and actions from those behaviors that cause people to follow and respect you. How you treat people, no matter who they are, says everything about you.
My dad taught me lots of lessons, and the seven listed here are only a handful, and you can use them in your everyday life to improve your leadership skills. When you start living them, you won’t need a title to lead, you’ll find people following you because of who you are and what you represent.
GPS - Goals are your Pathway to Success
How do you determine how you are getting from point A to point B when you’re driving your car? Do you have a roadmap or GPS that guides your every turn?
Your life is no different. If you don’t have a course charted, you are never going to get where you want to be. Goals are your internal GPS, or stated better, Goals are your Pathway to Success.
What Pathways have you created? See, the single biggest problem with goals is that everyone knows you’re supposed to have them, write them out and review them. But how many people actually do? If you believe the statistics less than 3 ½% of the population actually has written goals that are reviewed regularly.
That means that most people are driving through life living someone else’s plan. Is there any wonder then why the wealthiest 2% of Americans control over 80% of our country’s wealth?
I’m not here to tell you how to structure you life. I am here to tell you that if you want more than you have now professionally and personally, then it’s time you started copying what the most successful people do.
There are lots of goal programs to choose from, and they all work if you apply them. Just get started! The best programs go beyond the typical goal structuring mechanics and apply real emotion to them. Emotion is where the drive comes from, not some structured sentence. If you want in depth advice on how to really structure and create goals that drive you, call me. For now, this is how to start if you don’t have your GPS set:
• Write a paragraph about exactly what you want out of life, in every area of your life. Be very specific and give your results a timeline.
• Write out exactly what you’ll receive emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially by accomplishing your goals. Be very specific and create some real joy and happiness.
• Write out everything its cost you by not taking action. Be very specific and create some misery.
• Write down 3 action items for each area of your life that you have a goal for and schedule them – literally write them into your calendar as though it’s an appointment you cannot miss.
• And if you really want to maximize your success rate, find someone who’s already accomplished what you desire and copy their success strategy.
Goals are your Pathway to Success, and if you don’t have them written out and review them on a regular basis, you’re driving blind through life. You need them for your internal GPS, or you will be living someone else’s life. Start living the life of your dreams. Go out and make it happen.
Set Yourself Up For Success
When you wake up in the morning do you smack your snooze alarm over and over, or do you jump out of bed excited for the day ahead of your alarm?
What are you doing each day to set yourself up for success? Do you have a strategy or daily ritual that gets you ready to rock each day?
This is where most people fail to succeed and right from the moment they wake up. They say breakfast is the single most important meal of the day for optimal health, energy, and overall physical well-being. Well how you start and prepare each day when you wake up is the single most important factor to determining your outcomes for the balance of the day.
The most successful people have rituals that support their goals and outcomes, and there are common threads you can implement immediately.
First, stop hitting your snooze alarm. You're not getting quality sleep, and really, what's an extra 5 or 10 minutes going to do for you anyway? Then rehydrate your system. You've gone all night fasting and not drinking water, so drink a big glass or a couple glasses of water. Then start moving. Put your gym shoes on and get some exercise.
The most successful people I know and interact with get some sort of exercise every morning. Whether its a full-on workout, or just a walk around the block, they get the fires burning immediately. It stimulates endorphins, and and creates a positive mood.
Its not about a saying, I'm happy, I'm happy, I'm happy. Its about doing something to actually make that happen.
Finally, read something inspirational. ALL successful people start each day reading a page or two, or an article, of something uplifting and inspirational.
Do not start your morning hitting the snooze button, dragging yourself out of bed, and putting garbage in your system. Remember the old computer saying - garbage in, garbage out. Fill your system and start your day with positive and healthy input, and you too will begin to see the same benefits as the most successful people in the world.
Raise Your Standards
Ever hear the expression - if you lay down with dogs you'll end up with fleas? That's true in every area of your life.
If you want higher quality personal and professional results, than you absolutely must raise your standards; your standards for who you surround yourself with, how you interact with others, how you take care of yourself physically, how you manage your days and life, and your expectations for success.
Litmus test, take a look at your five closest relationships and pick one person's income and weight. I'll bet you weigh within 10 pounds and earn within $10,000 of what they and everyone else in your group weigh and earn.
Want more money, better health, and more overall success, then raise your standards and find a peer group who has what you already want. And if you're a really great friend bring along those who want more too.
I play tennis, and I'm always striving to improve. One of the best ways for me to improve is to raise my standard of who I play, so I always play better players. It drastically raises my game, it works every time, and you'll feel far better about yourself.
What can you do to raise your own game? Who can you seek out and play, learn from, or get coaching from? What areas of your business do you need to raise your expectations and standards? How about your skills?
Raise your standards, change who your playing with, and you'll radically improve your business and personal success.
Any Plan Beats No Plan
We’ve all heard the expressions, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” or my favorite growing up from dad, “if you don’t have a plan for your life – someone else does and you won’t like it.”
Nothing could be truer. Talk to anyone of substance or success in life and you’ll find they have a detailed plan for every area of their lives. Do you have a plan for your personal and professional life?
Your plans don’t have to be grandiose or beyond your wildest expectations. But you do have to have results in mind and create actionable and measurable items to achieve your desired outcomes. What areas should you have plans for at a minimum? These aren’t the only areas of your life, and they will definitely get you started on the right path.
• Career development
• Job specific skills
Where are you going to end up if you don’t know where you want to be? My guess is a life unfulfilled and empty of accomplishment. So what's the secret to creating a plan. Simple, write your plans out and review them regularly – not one time.
Create your grand vision for your life and career and your plan of actionable items to get there. Break them down by quarter, month, week, and then daily. Review your objectives monthly and create a plan for each week of the month based on what you know you can manage? You should. Then as the weeks come up, take some quiet time on Sunday and plan out your week in more detail. Then each night, plan out the next day for your daily movement towards your goal. You'll find your days a whole lot less stressful by simply planning out the night before.
Again, you don’t have to have the perfect plan. Your plans will get wrenches thrown in them all the time. Be flexible in your approach, and have a plan though. Measure and modify as needed.
Again, it’s about having a plan so you’re not living someone else’s. Any plan beats no plan, and the act of creating one will start to set you free, change your life’s course, and lead to a more fulfilling and profitable future.
Networking the Right Way
What’s the most effective way to find new prospects, make new friends, expand your circles of influence, and set yourself up for success professionally? The answer is obvious – network, but very few do it well.
Here are the 5 mistakes people make when networking, and what you can do to significantly improve your success.
1. Going to the same events & meetings week after week with the same people
2. Spending the majority, or worse yet, the entire time with friends
3. Collecting names and numbers, and not spending any time building rapport
4. Not having a solid, value-based, follow up strategy in place
5. …and the cardinal sin – going to get, not give
The first two are all about comfort zone. Professionals are funny because they want success, but the pain of failure and rejection causes them to stay in their comfort zones, i.e., friendly situations and environments. A friend of mine proved this to me when they said, “I’m looking forward to “X” event tonight. I get to see all my networking friends.” What a waste of time. You must get out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and go to new events or greater success will never follow.
Here are 5 strategies you can use immediately to drastically improve your networking success!
1. Find events on LinkedIn sign up and go. Don’t limit yourself to your immediate city of town. Get in your car and drive an hour to an event
2. Sign-up on Meetup.com, and look for events to attend. Better yet, be a respected leader and start a Meetup group, and create your own event.
3. Use LinkedIn, facebook, and Twitter as search engines. They are all about building relationships. Find your top dream prospects, connect with them, and build a relationship.
4. Define your follow up strategy and execute it. At a minimum; connect within 12 hours on LinkedIn, facebook, and/or Twitter – ideally use your smart phone and do it on the spot. Send them a follow up email, and highlight something you talked about and setup a one-on-one coffee or breakfast meeting.
5. Everyone hates the man or woman who clearly only has the “what can you do for me” intentions. You can see them a mile away, and just cringe when they approach you. Relationships are a place to give, not receive. If you want more, give more. Give them something of value, like a referral or connection to someone who can help them.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Do something different. Change your approach, get out of your comfort zone, go to give, and follow up with value. I promise you’ll have radically different results, and a far richer life.
Drive & Focus - The Difference
My wife and I were driving to a lunch date recently, and on one of the corners we pulled up to there were two men standing next to each other. Nothing out of the ordinary except, one was dressed professionally in a suit and tie and the other dressed in rags comparatively speaking. Me being me, I asked Kelly what's the difference between the two, and she gave me all the usual answers; from upbringing to education.
All of her reasons may have had an impact, but the real difference was drive and focus. People from all walks of life have started with nothing and made something of themselves. The man dressed professionally clearly had the drive to get ahead, and he couldn't have the drive unless he had a target to focus on – some goal, desire or result to pull him to greater levels.
Circumstances do not matter. What matters is what you do with what you have. Maximize your resources just as the well dressed professional has. Define your target with laser-like focus, and create the drive to get to win. You get to choose what you want in life – is it winning the game of life or living in rags? Your choice.
What makes an outstanding leader? Depending on you who you ask, you'll get a number of definitions and descriptions. One common definition is summed up by saying that leadership is one person, or a group of people who can influence others in support of a common goal. Bulls#!%, that's what I say. Obviously that's pretty ambiguous. Sure it defines leadership, but not what defines a leader.
Leadership is really defined by the actions and behaviors of an individual and/or group that allow them to influence and direct others towards a unified result. In other words, everything they do or say is in congruence with who they are and what they're striving to accomplish. They walk their talk, and more often than not, let their playing do the talking as they say in sports.
So what are the characteristics of outstanding leaders? That list is quite extensive too depending on whom you ask, but here are some common basics to get you started.
• Leaders set higher standards
• Leaders are charismatic
• Leaders are effective communicators
• Leaders focus on success principles
• Leaders manage their time ruthlessly
• Leaders set goals
• Leaders build rapport
• Leaders nurture teamwork
• Leaders have a strong clear vision
• Leaders coach to help others grow
• Leaders have unshakable integrity
• Leaders are persuasive
• Leaders build relationships
• Leaders embrace change
• Leaders maximize their resources
Leaders are made, they aren't born. These skills and behaviors are a good start
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