Archive for January, 2011

12 Ways To Screw Up A Virtual First Impression

January 30th, 2011

1) Link to inactive social networking accounts: So there’s a prospect, interested enough to check out your Linkedin profile. They click on your Twitter link thinking “Cool, I spend more time there anyway” then they discover your account either has zero tweets or the last time you tweeted was back in late 2009. I’ve seen this with inactive blogs and even websites. Please go back and update or report to the Principals office folks. Inexcusable!

2)    Dancing the “Linkedin two step”. This is when you accept someone’s invite and they immediate launch into their sales pitch. Not bueno! Think courtship not singles bar.

3)    Start a discussion and then go MIA. Would you walk into a room, start a discussion and then slip out the back Jack? Of course not. Then why do so many people start Linkedin discussions and then leave without any acknowledgement of the comments? Stick around and facilitate your discussions unless you are striving for a certain David Copperfield vibe.

4)    Continually engage in negativity, combativeness etc. I don’t care if someone gives you the old virtual finger by calling you out publicly or if you just have a need to rip apart someone’s logic in a discussion . . . its bad news. Also, and how shall I say this, your network hates when all you do is complain in your status updates and tweets. Do you really think people say, I wonder what kind of cool negative sh*t that rascal Castain is tweeting about today? You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, but let’s stop playing the A Hole card already.

5)    Stalk people: liking everything, commenting on every status update. Its just creepy and I will leave it at that. I have this sudden urge to ask if anyone has seen that movie Silence of The Lambs. Don’t know why.

6)    Broadcasting instead of interacting. I see this happen way too many times on Twitter. Quite frankly it bores the hell out me. Let’s make sure that somewhere between all the links, quotes, tips etc we are thanking, acknowledging, validating and showing the world that there is indeed a human being behind the tweets. And in my case, a human being who finds the word “tweet” unmanly.

7)    Too much me, not enough them. You’ve seen it before: “Check out my Facebook fan page” “I’m speaking at . . . “My latest blog post . . .” and even the more sophisticated narcissist who will only retweet those who are mentioning them. I believe the key to your rock stardom rests in your ability to make others look like rock stars. Doing so creates legions of fans who will in turn become brand evangelists . . . spreading the good news about . . . YOU!

8)    Flooding The Twitter Stream With Irrelevant Data: Live tweeting, twitter chat, rapid fire tweets, mucho foursquare updates. This is a rant for another day but I can tell you its annoying and can get you unfollowed right quick. Please think value before you send this stuff. Better yet, put yourself in your follower’s shoes who’s twitter stream get’s flooded with your need to tweet a sound byte from a conference that we really needed to be there to understand. Same with Twitter Chats and tweeting 7 links in 3 seconds. Did I mention you should think?

9)     Too much duplication of your message across the platforms. As someone who participates actively on the Big 3 (Twitter,LinkedinFacebook) I know that I need to bring my content to each, but if all I am doing is sending the same stuff to 3 places and you follow me in all 3 places, doesn’t that sort of punish you? My suggestion is to offer things in each platform that you don’t offer in the others. Just a thought.

10)  Linkedin template. I won’t say more than my usual “I think using templates put forth the worst possible ‘you’ as far as a first impression” I would go as far as to say that if you don’t have the 20 seconds to introduce yourself properly, what makes you think you’ll have the time to properly nurture the new connection? Besides, you’re better than that!

11)  Ask for a recommendation from someone who basically said hello to you once.

12)  Asking for a recommendation from someone and using the template. Hang your head if you ever did this.

All joking (and self righteousness) aside, I’ve made lots of mistakes in my efforts to be a social networking rock star. I will openly admit that I’m a work in progress!

My suggestion to you would be to take the time to think things through a bit and model the people who are getting the results you wish to obtain.

Oh and just for the heck of it, pretend you are the person at the other end of your social networking efforts.  If you find yourself saying “that’s not cool” even once, then it might be time for a course correction my friend.

Today, you are cordially invited to make a better first impression!

Here’s a cool, free E-Book for you with 21 Ways For You To Master Linkedin . . . Enjoy!


Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).

{Press} The Knot with Lea & Marc’s Real Wedding on Newsstands Today!!

January 28th, 2011

Check out Lea and Marc’s beautiful West Park Winery Wedding in the new edition of The Knot!

Their rustic, country Real Wedding Feature is one of the larger, four page spreads!!! Can you tell I’m excited about this :)!
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Content Strategy – Six Steps to Better Content: Introduction – Part 1

January 28th, 2011

Let’s get this out of the way right now: it’s pretty much a given in the business world today that content is king. More important, content is critical. It is the lifeblood, the identity, and the value of any company or organization. So why is it that content is so often relegated to the backseat? What is it about content that so often makes it an afterthought for otherwise bright, engaged, and responsible professionals?

Content Writing

Perhaps it’s the tedium that overcommitted, understaffed sales and marketing executives and department managers have come to expect when it’s time to sit down and actually commit digital words to a blank screen.

Perhaps it’s the tedium that overcommitted, understaffed sales and marketing executives and department managers have come to expect when it’s time to sit down and actually commit digital words to a blank screen. Let’s face it – no one really wants to take on the task of trying to think of what to say about a product or service, a company, institution, or organization. Where’s the fun in that? Besides there are more important things to do, right? Call a client. Write a sales report. Get those fourth quarter numbers in. Anything other than try to talk about what it is you do or sell so that it makes sense and someone would actually be interested in reading it.

As a result, more than a few otherwise calm, rational human beings become frantic, desperate individuals racing against a deadline to produce something, anything, for a website, newsletter, sales brochure, blog – with little thought and even less planning.

But the truth of the matter is that “content” – that elusive, gray cloud of words, images, and graphics – is the soul of any organization, large or small, profit or non-profit. Without content, there is no brand, no image, no value. A construction without substance, a body without soul. Without proper planning and adequate attention, it’s no surprise that the resulting product is unfocused, dull, generic content that creates no unique brand identity, no interest, and no sales.

What’s needed is a content strategy and the ability to implement it.

So what is a content strategy?

In short, a content strategy is the analysis, creation, publication, and maintenance of useful, appropriate, and current content, developed to meet one or more established goals. While the word “content” is often used today to refer to information developed specifically for a website, it really can apply to any text and supporting graphics created for distribution across any and all channels of a marketing program.

In this e-book, we’ll discuss the various aspects of developing a workable, usable content strategy that will help you gain control of the content creation process using a few, simple steps. You’ll also gain an understanding of what it takes to generate unique content that will help build your brand, set you apart from the competition, and provide a number of valuable tools for your sales and marketing toolbox.

Screwing Up The “Dress For Success” Thing!

January 27th, 2011

Oh no. Another know it all blogger preaching some dress for success BS we’ve all heard a thousand times . . . think again sista!

Today, we’re going to focus on the all too often neglected areas that seem to slip under the proverbial radar.

So, let’s look at the dress for success thing as meaningless if . . .

Your breath is so bad it could start the windmill on an old Dutch painting.

Consider becoming one with an Altoid. Especially important if you will be engaging in close quarters combat like riding in a car together or talking close up at an event. Note: if people retract when you talk you may be guilty of “Ass Breath”  Also, if anyone ever says “Hey I’m bored, let’s go brush our teeth”  there’s your sign!

Your cologne/perfume arrives 10 minutes before you do and stays thru the new year.

I remember when I worked with my Dad making the mistake of bathing in some Emporio. He promptly invited me to “Shower it the hell off”. He felt it was a huge distraction and it wasn’t until I was on the receiving end of an over ambitious cologne enthusiast that I forgave my Dad for being a bit harsh that morning.

Your eyeglasses are so filthy your blue eyes have taken on shades of dirt.

There’s actually a simple cure. Pick up a small bottle of eye glass cleaner or wipes that they have designed for cleaning glasses. Keep them in your bag and viola you are ready to combat “Optical Skankosis”!

If your shoes look like you were on a construction site before the meeting.

The shoes are by far one of the biggest areas of neglect that I have seen. I’m assuming they are getting dirty between when people leave the house and arrive at appointments but we all know, there are some people that simply neglect shining their shoes. I’ll spare you the common sense moment on why you need to keep up on polishing shoes and focus, instead on how to keep them looking primo! My suggestion would be to carry some liquid shoe polish in your car for those touch ups. It will surprise you how often you will need to use it! For those of you in Metropolitan areas or who find yourself in and out of airports, why not drop the 5 bucks on a shoe shine? Not only do you get some spiffy looking shoes, you get to sit there on that throne like you are the master of the universe. How cool is that?

If you pull out some messy pad that you have to flip through 50 pages of “stuff” to get to a clean page.

I won’t lie, this was me, not too long ago. I went out and bought a leather padfolio from Staples and fixed that one real quick. Just when I thought I had it figured out, a multi millionaire client set me straight on something else that was destined for a “Who’d a thunk it?” moment. He sat me down one day and said “Paul (they call me that back home), you wear nice suits, silk ties, monogrammed French cuff shirts, your shoes are always shined and . . . ” I stopped him right there and said “Michael, I’m not into dudes” After shaking his head in complete confusion, he continued “then you screw it up by using that 25 cent Bic pen!” Truth be told, I thought he was being snobby until I stepped back, lost my ego and realized that whether or not my pen was indicative of success, it certainly was a distraction. I upgraded to a nice Waterman pen so when I would ask people to sign, it made a better impression.

Fingernails: I’m not talking about manicured, I’m talking about nails that have accumulated enough dirt to fill in a pot hole! Not a bad idea to keep a nail clipper in your trusty bag, unless, of course, you are striving for that “raised by wolves” look.

This next one is tacky so I will avoid all preface and simply “go there”. In the summer months we can really sweat. It takes no rocket scientist to deduct that where there is sweat, there is at least the potential to become what specialists call “the smelly kid” Short of taking a “whore’s bath” in your client’s sink (and risking them calling you “lazy”), look into a travel size Fabreeze. Get in the habit of giving your jacket a quick once over. It kills odors without putting a heavy scent on your clothes.

Pop Quiz: You are visiting your prospect/client and are wrapping up a great meeting. They walk you to your car continuing a great conversation. Would the inside or trunk of your car embarrass you? Not to brag, but the inside of my car would never embarrass me, but the empty 7-11 coffee cups and wrapper from my egg sandwich might. The only thing you can do if you screw up is to say the following (word for word) “Mr/Ms Prospect/Client, I’m afraid I can’t let you leave. You’ve seen too much!”

How about your computer bag? Does it look like it was dragged on the back of your car for the better part of the year? Don’t laugh, mine used to. I was clueless until a few of my teammates facilitated an intervention on my behalf. Once again they reminded me how distracting it was for them as well as the clients we visited. You know what gang, I knew better and there was simply no excuse for me to neglect something like that!

Do you show samples? I know in the printing industry, we show them like photos of our summer vacation. Keep in mind that color fades over time and samples can just get plain old tired. I’ve even seen coffee stains, dog eared samples as well as out dated ones to boot!

So here’s the bottom line gang, compliments of my late Dad (he was actually quite punctual but I mean late as in deceased and/or dead)
We all have an important message to deliver  worthy of our audience’s attention. We can’t afford to have distractions!

And just for the heck of it, I’m wondering if we pay close attention to the details if that in and of itself sends a message? Something to think about while you chew on an Altoid.

Today, you are invited to be impeccable!

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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).

Can Email Strip The Recipient Of Their Identity?

January 26th, 2011

Dale Carnegie once said “The sweetest sound, in any language, is the sound of one’s own name”

Makes sense . . . right?

Simple enough!

Then why do we send emails to people (mostly people we know and/or work with) without use of their name?

Why do people send those generic, crappy Linkedin invite templates and then seal the deal with no use of the recipients name?

I received two requests for interviews today on radio programs. Neither one of them used my name.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered but it took on that weird vibe like someone looking at you and talking in your direction, you answer them only to see that they were using their Bluetooth!

Here are a few friendly reminders to get you thinking

Need to write Mary an email? Consider “Hi Mary” “Dear Mary” and even a “Yo Mary” is better stripping poor Mary of her identity.

Sending an invite to Prudence consider “Dear Prudence” (gold star if you caught the Beatles reference”

Inviting someone to your linkedin group . . . Use their name. And I could care less that you have 100 of these to send out today and it will take you longer . . . I’m thinking the recipient will feel the same way!

And just for sh*ts and giggles:

When you are talking with someone . . . They have a name . . . use it

It may sound like I’m being picky and I bet I am, but I’m willing to bet that the person who understands the importance of a silly thing called a name, will stand out.

I’ve always said that everyone has a story and wants to be heard.

Today I want you to understand, that everyone has a name and wants to be acknowledged!


Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).

Dude . . . It’s Not The Cone Of Silence!

January 25th, 2011

Team selling is all well and good, but there are times when I just can’t believe the things someone had the need to say with the receptionist only a few feet away.

Do they think he/she is incapable of translating our highly advanced sales speak?

And what the hell, because even if they could understand us, they would never go ahead and say anything to their boss. Right?

And just to be fair, how about the receptionist who is gossiping with a coworker with you only a few feet away?

Lucky for them you are not versed in the receptionistorial arts.

I’m ashamed to tell you that I have had people with me who talked trash and have listened to the trash talk and I discovered the most amazing thing . . .

We can all hear each other!

One exception . . .

When your prospect leaves the room for a moment, and you or your coworker feel compelled to talk about the prospect (even an innocent “how do you think we’re doing so far?). They can’t hear you but they do sense a certain “disturbance in the force” when they come back in and you suddenly stop talking.

So here are a few thoughts for you to ponder.

1)    I teach a concept called “Proactive Discussions” where you simply tell people before the behavior occurs how you feel about the behavior and how you would like things to transpire going forward. The beauty of a “Proactive Discussion” is that  there is a lower probability for conflict because you are talking about it before the behavior occurs and not while there is emotional attachment. Feel free to add this line to whatever you say during your discussion.  “And that includes talking about my client/prospect at any point while we’re on their property. You may not think they hear you, but I find it unprofessional and very distracting. In the unlikely event that you disregard this warning, I will be forced to shush you and/or stab you with something sharp. And while we’re laying it all on the table, I lied on my application about being convicted”

2)    When you  are on an appointment and someone starts doing this, turn to them and say “Not now . . . I’m in the middle of my pre game mental preparation so, how shall I say this . . . shhhhhhhh”

3)    And I’m not bashing receptionists at all when I say this . . . reiterate to them that they are indeed the “Director Of First Impressions” for your business and as much as you’d like to believe that people are incapable of hearing someone 3 feet away who isn’t whispering, the invention of the ear has trashed that theory.

Today, we are cordially invited to remember . . .

We must be impeccable, even when we think no one can hear us!

Peace!

Today’s News: If you and I haven’t connected yet on Linkedin or Facebook then by all means . . . let’s freakin connect!


Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).

{Press} Jayd Gardina Photography on The Knot Blog Today!

January 24th, 2011
Check it out here!
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Why I Hate The News!

January 24th, 2011

I made a conscious decision (my unconscious ones suck) to stop watching the news several years ago.

I found that in my quest to be informed, I had to navigate the rapids of negativity in the form of

The latest murders, rapes, bankruptcies and scandals

Which country was flexing their diplomatic muscles

Etc, etc

As a former newsaholic, I would watch the news first thing in the morning and again in the evening.

I found that the only thing that I gained from this experience was the ability to start and end my day with mucho negativity.

Not overly bright on my part!

You see, they get paid to be negative . . . I don’t.

And when I go out to conquer the world on a negative note . . .

I’ve lost my body armor!

So that means . . .

My ability to handle rejection, deal with people who might not be overly friendly and even more importantly . . .

My ability to be positive and make it contagious . . .

Has been diminished.

Don’t get me wrong, I stay informed.

But I do it on my terms.

Each day, I scan the headlines on my homepage and decide which ones I want to know about.

And I get to do it without having to listen to all the other negative stuff.

Just some positive food for thought for you to think about!

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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).

How To Handle Q&A Effectively!

January 23rd, 2011

Like it or not, more and more decisions are being made by committee these days.

And while you and I don’t have to be the next “Tony Robbins” when we get up in front of them, we had better know how to facilitate Q&A for maximum effectiveness.

In this week’s podcast, we’ll address the following:

1)    How to transition from presentation to Q&A

2)    How to avoid the “crickets” when no one has a freakin question. Ever been there dude?

3)    How to avoid a common mistake during Q&A.

4)    How to buy a few extra seconds to enhance the quality of your response.

5)    How to take a question and bring it to the next level.

6)    How to wrap up your Q&A.

These tips will prove valuable for small groups, large groups, webinars, lunch and learns, conference calls etc.

Feel free to adjust them to fit your style, personality and even better, to the dynamic of the group you present to.

I have some great content lined up for you if you will scroll down and have a listen. Now if you are not in the mood to further your growth this weekend, no worries. My suggestion would be to download this podcast on I-Tunes and allow me to be your educational companion during your drive time this week!

And before you scroll down to this week’s podcast, I wanted to let you know that we have launched our Facebook Fan Page and would love for you to join us! We have a handy dandy Facebook badge located conveniently underneath the podcast player. Please make sure that you “Like” us so we can continue to interact.

Download this episode (right click and save)

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Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).

The Importance of Branding

January 21st, 2011

Branding, what is it and why do we need it? You can find thousands of different definitions and explanations of branding. Webster describes branding as: “the promoting of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand”. Personally, my best explanation is that branding is a clear and concise message of who we are, what we do, and what the company stands for. Some would say the company’s promise, but I feel it goes much deeper than that. It’s the who, what, where, when, why, and how all rolled up into one. We create a brand so that whomever see’s that brand will immediately have a positive message come to mind that will hopefully solicit a response. A brand that will excite their senses and cause them to act with confidence, knowing they can trust the company they are dealing with. This is of course based on, in some cases, decades of branding strategies coupled with excellent advertising, as well as a solid reputation for quality and service.  Examples of solid branding that continues to be effective today is represented in the five logos below. I’m sure you can tell the name of each of these companies, even with the name removed?

Importance of Branding

Even without the company name, you easily recognize these logos of highly successful companies.

Some of the key practical components in creating an effective brand is to first create a great logo, then secondly, to develop a clear, concise, and memorable message.  Before this is done however, you must have a clearly defined mission statement. It’s amazing to me how many companies we meet with who have not taken the necessary steps to insure their company has a good solid mission statement and business plan that outlines all the important aspects of what the company is about, what they do, what are their goals and objectives, and how are they going to get there. I don’t believe you can come up with an effective brand until you have first gone through developing clear goals and a plan. It’s kind of like taking a summer trip to see a game at all the baseball parks in the United States and just getting up one morning and heading off without any plan! I know, I know but it’s so fun to come up with ideas about how the logos going to look, or you’ve got an awesome tag line and you want to put it to work, but you have to remember first things first. In the long run you’ll be glad you did.  I would suggest creating a checklist that looks something like this, whether you are a new business starting out, or are a twenty year old business in the process of rebranding, the steps are the same.

  1. Plan: Determine your mission statement and business plan. Set your goals and objectives.
  2. Create: Generate a great logo and a memorable message.
  3. Define: Establish a marketing plan which should include branding standards that outlines how you are going to get your message across and how your brand is used.
  4. Track: Put into place the tools necessary to track your results to determine effectiveness and ROI (return on investment).
  5. Implement: Execute your plan, integrating your new brand consistently across all mediums.
  6. Deliver: Deliver on your brand or promise.
  7. Review: Set periodic times to revisit your planning and strategies to make sure you are on track, or if you need to modify your plans due to changes in the business climate, clients, economy, etc.

In conclusion, your branding strategy is without doubt the most effective tool in getting your message out to the masses. Plan this part of your business very carefully, seek counsel from seasoned professionals whenever possible, and finally, be faithful in seeing your plan through to completion and you will be sure to reap the rewards of creating an effective branding strategy.

Multitasking In The Bathroom . . . Yuck!

January 21st, 2011

Warning: There is zero educational value in today’s blog. It is simply a rant and an opportunity for you to have a quick laugh and say “Eew” several times.

What’s up with the increasing amounts of people who feel that the world will stop if they don’t take a call while at the urinal? I can’t help but think about how the 6th grade version of me would have handled that.

He would have quickly become a victim of the old “Push and Flush”!

These cell phone wielding, bathroom wreckers have allowed their thoughtlessness to transcend beyond the urinal and into the stalls of America! They are in essence doing their business while doing their business.

I’m going to make a confession right here and now that I excessive flush whenever I see someone doing this to alert the person on the other end.

And how about the person on the other end?

How does one recover from getting called out for making a call from the toilet?

“No I’m not in the bathroom . . . I got Howard Stern on the radio”

My all time favorite . . .

I’ve seen lots of people leaving the stall with their laptops. To that, I am speechless but will simply file that under “EEEEEWWWWW!” or on another day I might be tempted to ask “Those TPS reports got ya feeling saucy there Lumbergh?”

Lesson 1: Don’t borrow cell phones or laptops. And if you do borrow them, use protection otherwise you will have been with every toilet they have been with.

Lesson 2: For millions of years mankind (womankind too) has existed peacefully in the knowledge that we can relieve ourselves without having to make (or take) a phone call.

Seriously: Statistics say we are working approximately 30% more than the generation before us. We have allowed our work to come home with us after hours, on the weekends etc.

Let’s get real and realize that this may be a sign of a society that needs to slow down a bit!

If not, I am truly grateful for the material! :)

Have a great day, go sell something and push and flush every SOB you see on a cell phone at the urinal. Tell them Uncle Paul sent you!


Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).

Linkedin Groups Can Suck . . .

January 20th, 2011

1)    If all you do is show up with an “Entertain me circus boy” attitude. Get involved, start a discussion, give someone an AMEN but stop looking at the groups like they owe you some entertainment. Its up to you to create the experience.

2)    If your idea is to show up and throw up. People simply despise shameless self promotion. Plus you look like a tool. Seriously . . . you do!

3)    If you start a discussion and then bail. Stick around and facilitate your discussions. Would you do that in real life? Walk in a room, ask a question and then poof, you leave? Psst . . . the more you facilitate, generally, the longer the shelf life of the discussion and get this . . . the longer your discussion stays up on page one and (drum roll) that equal mucho exposure for YOU! I know, awesome, isn’t it! I feel like Flo in those Progressive Car Insurance commercials getting all excited about this stuff!

4)    If all you do is join is join your industry groups. How many widgets are other widget purveyors gonna buy from you genius? Branch out. Where is the money? Go there. What are some parallel industries? Example: If I sell sales training, perhaps I should know some HR People and Leadership dudes/dudettes. Then I need to go where they hang out. No? By all means join a few sales groups. Sales people are on the front line and offer insight on what’s going on right now in this crazy economy. Oh, sales people, other sales people can help you get in! Don’t forget to join local groups and even groups where you frequently travel to.

5)    If the group manager is absentee. This one bothers me to no end. I run a very successful group on Linkedin Sales Playbook and I love tilting my gun sideways and bustin caps in the asses of spammers, combatives and just a holes in general. If you belong to a group and it resembles Dodge City . . . voice your opinion and if that doesn’t work . . . go reward one of the more than 250,000 other groups with your participation.

6)    If you have unrealistic expectations. You are building relationships, trust and all that good stuff . . . not a quicky in the alley. Don’t ever forget that!

7)    If you are inconsistent with your efforts. Farming is a daily activity my friend and showing up today, chilling for two weeks, then going hot and heavy and chilling again, doesn’t work.

The best part of all of this, is that you are in control. Linkedin is simply what you choose to put into it. Nothing more brochocho!

Here’s a Free (as in no strings attached) E-Book with 21 Ways For You to Master Linkedin You’re welcome  🙂

Come join us on Linkedin. We have 18,000 + very cool people, with pure discussions . . . no spam!     http://linkd.in/bLb2H5

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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).

10 Better Ways To Build Rapport!

January 19th, 2011

A sales trainer walks into a room of sales reps and asks them how they build rapport  and guess how they respond?

“I generally look around my prospect’s office to see what they are interested in and make conversation based on what I see”

You saw that one coming right?

Do you think that approach might be a tad predictable too?

Just for the heck of it, here are 10 things for you to think about, beyond scanning the office for things to comment on.

1)    How about Engaging In Meticulous Pre Call Planning? How about researching not only the company but the prospect. Already do that? Using Google? So does everyone! Make sure you are researching your prospect on Linkedin, Twitter, their blog. Use http://socialmention.com to see what kind of social networking foot print they are leaving. Oh and by the way, if you find something out about them like they sing in a band, run in 5k’s etc, don’t you dare disregard that. What’s everyone’s favorite subject again? You keep that in your back pocket dude! And make sure you keep listening for clues after the meeting too!

2)    Respect the fact that they will in turn Google you! Having your own online footprint gives them the ability to start to get to know you. Remember that old sales axiom that “Customers buy us before the company”, well that process actually begins before they even meet you.

3)    Consider using an agenda statement to begin your meeting. Doing so allows you to take control without being controlling and goes a long way in the “first impression” department. Here’s one that I teach my sales students.

First and foremost I’d like to thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. With your permission, I’d like to cover 3 things.

First: I’d like to find out more about you and your company, specifically any challenges or opportunities I might be able to help you with.

Next, share with you how we’ve been able to help other widget companies

Last, but not least, decide on a next step that makes sense.

Is there anything else we should add?

4)    Ask Better Questions! The quality of our relationships rest in our ability to have quality communication. Quality communication comes from asking quality questions. When was the last time you took a good look at your Needs Analysis. Oh, and asking the questions others don’t ask, earns you more rapport points than commenting on that picture that the other 500 sales reps just commented on. Just sayin!

5)    Understand This At All Cost: They have a story and want to be heard so . . . don’t be so anxious to check off question #3  (to rush to #4) that you fail to listen. And by the way, show some freakin empathy dude. When someone tells you how they got screwed over by their vendor or they got reamed out by the boss because of the TPS reports . . . that’s your cue to care. So listening, caring and . . .

6)    Facilitate The Meeting. When you facilitate a meeting you don’t just stop at the first answer they give you. You ask continuation questions like “How so?” “What happened then?” “Tell me more”. Ask if someone has a different spin, get conflicting opinions out there, get everyone’s emotions going. A Note About  Inclusion: Don’t assume that the least vocal from their team has the least power. Might be soft spoken but a behind the scenes ass kicker. Make sure you include them by asking for their thoughts. Yep, its that “everyone has a story and wants to be heard” thing again!

7)    Strategic Use Of Silence: People have a nervous need to fill silence. Make sure it isn’t you. In fact, place some well thought out silence in after they respond. Just don’t wait too long, or they will pat your head and think you are your industry’s answer to Forrest Gump.

8)    If you are going to “Mirror” someone, don’t just mirror their body language. Mirror the jargon they use. Mirror their sensory language. Example “I hear you” “I see what you mean” “I feel like this . . . “ You can even mirror the way they structure their emails etc but that’s a discussion for another day.

9)    Make Promises: There is something about keeping a promise that we’ve come to appreciate since we were young. Instead of getting them those samples on Tuesday, promise like this: “Jane (make sure their name is Jane) I promise to get you those samples on Tuesday”  And now the fun part, the icing on this delicious rapport building cake. Tuesday, when you see Jane again, you say “Here are those samples as promised” Say that enough times throughout the courtship and you are selling at a subconscious level. Actually, scratch that . . . they are buying you at a subconscious level.

10) Get A Tour: Something crazy happens when you leave the formality of a conference room . . . people lose their formality. Additionally, you create energy by moving and you get to learn behind the scenes stuff. Kind of a cool way to differentiate yourself too since most people don’t ask for a tour.

OK gang, there you have it. There’s certainly more we could have covered but my mission today was to get you thinking beyond the old “scanning around the office for things to talk about” thing.

And besides . . . what if they borrowed someone else’s office. Try recovering from that one!

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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).

Your Vulnerability Is A Good Thing!

January 17th, 2011

There are times in our life when we trip on our own ego.

The very thing that serves as our body armor against rejection, tough markets and tougher sales cycles . . . can simply get in our way.

I believe it gets in our way when we are too proud to allow ourselves to become vulnerable.

Vulnerable enough:

To ask others for help when we don’t understand something

To ask other Jedi how they achieved their results.

To tell our ego to go wait in the car so we can receive the lesson.

To ask for forgiveness when we screw up (not just business folks, our personal life too)

To understand that there are things in life that are beyond you or I going it alone that require Spiritual GPS

And perhaps the ultimate act of vulnerability is to acknowledge that something just flat out scares the sh*t out you!

Today, I will be at Sloan Kettering with a loved one while she has (outpatient) surgery.

And while things were caught early enough, and I will wear my tough guy exterior on my sleeve for her . . .

I will allow myself to be vulnerable enough to reach deep down in my faith and also ask you to do the same on her behalf.

And  before you dismiss this as a warm and fuzzy “Castain took a wuss pill today” rant . . .  there is a serious lesson in all this.

There is a time, when all of us need to acknowledge our own limitations and . . .

be vulnerable enough to reach our hands outward . . .

with a willingness to reach them upward!

Peace!

Related Post: I Hope This Saves Someone’s Life


Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).

14 Ways To Enhance Your Email!

January 16th, 2011

1)    People Have Names Please Use Them. I see this with mostly internal emails but I fear that we might be also becoming lax with our client relationships. Dale Carnegie said it best when he said: “The sweetest sound, in any language is the sound of one’s name” and if that’s not enough, that “Band Camp” girl in American Pie kept asking Jason Biggs “What’s my name (b word deleted)” You can’t ever let that happen to you in email . . . just sayin!

2)    Easy On The Cliches Heavy On the Triggers: Its far more compelling to begin your email with a reference to a trigger event (something going on in their world where you can offer a solution to help them embrace opportunity or avoid pain) Think about that next time you want to begin with “My name is Paul Castain and I’m with” or the always lame “ABC company is a full service . . . “ Their favorite subject isn’t you or your clichés.

3)    Virtual Ball Breaking: Don’t ever use an unrelated email to respond and break your teammate’s stones about an unrelated issue. You are basically encouraging them to remove you from their distribution list. PS It’s freakin lazy too! Oh, and why are you doing this through email?

4)    Ask a question at the end of your email to increase your response rate.

5)    Higher Response Rates Through Social Networking Sites: Did you know that (according to a study published by Epsilon) emails sent through social networks have a 24% higher open rate than traditional email?

6)    Don’t Be Deceptive: Things like Putting a “Re” in the subject line to make it look like you have emailed each other before isn’t cool nor is referencing a discussion that you know damn well never happened.

7)    How About An Email Makeover Meeting?: You can do this with your sales team, other sales reps, your mastermind group. Have everyone bring their emails and you all critique them, mark them up and most of all . . . rip each other off!

8)     Utilizing Your “PS” As Free Ad Space: Lot’s of cool things you can use the “PS” for. One way is to use it as a way for you not to get pigeonholed into being a vendor for only one type of product or service. The best way for you to do this is to have them “Ask you about” something as in “Ask me about how our new TPS Reports save you time and money” “Ask me about how you can get double digit response rates” Etc. The other thing you can do (and not a bad idea since you want to mix it up a bit) is to cross pollinate your blogging efforts, or that white paper, open house, free webinar etc. The key to leveraging this technique is in changing out your message 1-2 times per month so you train their eye to continually check your “PS” Why bother looking if it’s always the same.

9)    Understand That Email Is Safe! Don’t ever cling to email as a substitute for real time interaction. If you aren’t actually speaking with your clients and prospects on a regular basis . . . someone else is!

10)  Understand That Email Is Also Not So Safe: Ron McMillan Author of Crucial Conversations Tools For Talking When The Stakes Are High says that we lose the rich stew of nonverbal information such as voice tone, facial expressions and eye gaze. Since email by definition is merely the words itself, then its more easily misunderstood then an actual conversation.

11)  Celebrate Internal Wins and Inspire Competition: Sales Managers, this ones for you bro chocho. Why not send out a congrats ccing the entire sales team every time a new account comes in or (depending on your sales cycle) every time a sale is made. Note: Obviously this would be a pain in the butt if you deal in mucho transactions, otherwise this recognizes performance and inspires fun competition. Oh, and it costs nothing to implement! Yep . . . I dig “Free” too!

12)  Virtual Slacking: Have you ever emailed someone who was literally 20-30 feet away? Was it really necessary? If it wasn’t then hang your head and know that I’m hanging my head too. Let’s make it a point to get back to “human”!

13) My Unfiltered Thoughts On “Reply All”

14)   Inspire Internal Email Chatter By Doing This: Instead of sending an intro email to just your prospect, send it to several people at the 30,000 foot level. I can  hear you now saying “I already cc the head honcho” Well, that’s your mistake, because cc’ing the head honcho makes it look like you were trying to get “cute”. It can also get you an immediate “See ya” from your prospect. A better way to execute the strategy is to put all the recipients on the “To” line. Doing this does several things. First, it gives you an out if someone gets cranky. You can say “I didn’t know who to send it to so I figured I would send it to your executive team” The next thing it does can be simply magical. It can create “internal chatter” It might get brought up at the next senior meeting, it might get forwarded to the true decision maker with a note encouraging them to take your meeting etc. And just for the heck of it, I’m thinking since more and more decisions are being made by committee these days, perhaps it speaks to that too! I have to admit that this was inspired by an awesome book I read several years ago by Michael Boylan called The Power To Get In. Only they didn’t have email back then. I suddenly feel old, someone hold me.

And one more for the road gang!

According to the latest report from Radicati Group, there are 247 billion emails sent worldwide each day. Our average decision maker probably gets 100+ of those.

What does that mean for you . . .

Lots of opportunity for you to get lost in the sauce!

So with that in mind . . .

Think about how you will be more compelling with not just your emails . . .

Be more compelling with ALL your messaging!

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Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).