Archive for June, 2011

{News} Congratulations GLBT Community on your EQUAL Marriage Rights!!

June 27th, 2011

I’m so excited that marriage is possible for everyone now! Congratulations to New York’s vibrant GLBT Community on this big win! I have been lucky enough to grow up in a family that has always supported equal marriage and gay rights. I am psyched at the prospect of shooting gay marriages!! Yaay! Congratulations! Let’s hope that more states follow suit!

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A Neglected Opportunity For You To Rock!

June 27th, 2011

There are moments in life where we find ourselves being served either an “Aha” or a “Duh”
An “Aha” is an eye opener. It’s something that changes our behavior and leads us down a different path.
A “Duh” is the same thing as an “Aha” but it comes as the result of you doing the very thing […]
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).

46 Ways To Generate Business!

June 23rd, 2011

I turned 46  today (June 24th) and had this crazy idea . . .
I said to myself “Self, instead of getting bummed about your age, why don’t you do something productive like offering 46 ideas to help people generate business”!
And there you have it . . . the birth of this free E-Book!
I hope you 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).

Immediate Opportunities To Improve Your Business

June 23rd, 2011

As a business consultant in many different industries, I noticed a pattern that has resulted in companies struggling to survive or do well in today’s economic environment.  Here’s GROWTHco’s Top 5 List of Immediate Improvement Opportunities.

These don’t include operational, infrastructure, or technological improvements that may take longer to implement.  These are people and process improvements that have made immediate impacts on the bottom line of our clients.  Ask your team if any of the following pertain to your company:

1)  Commitment to a predetermined vision: Although major business schools are telling business leaders to ‘throw away your business plan’, the #1 concern I have with businesses today is their lack of commitment to a specific outcome.  Know exactly what products and services you provide.  Know who needs your offerings AND has the ability to pay for them.  Identify the best strategy to penetrate your unique market. Don’t let every outside opportunity and potential partnership take away from your vision.  Sure, there is a time and place to identify and explore new opportunities, but not at the expense of your current strategy.  Some companies are now adopting a R&D (Research & Development) person or team whose primary role is to explore new opportunities and keep key personnel laser focused on the existing path to success.

2)  Financial intelligence: My last three client engagements resulted in mass financial overhauls.  Two out of the three business owners could not provide me with the financial statements necessary to determine the health of a specific product or service.  Not only having an accurate balance sheet, profit & loss statement, and cash flow analysis, but using them regularly to make strategic adjustments to increase profit.  One client performed a certain service that represented >70% of her revenue and 50% of employees’ time.  After revamping her financial reporting capabilities, we determined that every time her company performed that service, it resulted in a {content}.73 loss to the company!  We adjusted some pricing, created value-add options, and reduced expenses to make this service profitable and also identified and reallocated time to other services that were greater profit centers.

3)  Right people in the right seats: Everyone knows this one — thanks, Mr. Collins! So, ask yourself:  If I was brand new to this company or my department and had no relationships or history with anyone on my team, who do I know should immediately be let go, retrained, or moved to another function?  I can’t tell you how many clients finally remove the anchor that’s dragging on the ocean floor.  Almost instantly, the right person for that role appears and I hear, “I should have done that months (if not years) ago!” Please understand, I’m not advocating firing people.  Sure, those who need to go should go.  For everyone else, understand people’s strengths and weaknesses.  Identify the gap that exists between their current skills and performance and ultimate potential.  What is the plan for each person’s continuous improvement?

4)  Lack of shared goals: ALL THE WAY DOWN THE ORGANIZATION.  The front line employee should know how their daily activity and results tie in directly to the overall vision, strategy, and mission statement of the company.  A lot of employees do what’s expected from them to simply ‘survive the day’, not to move themselves or the company forward to a predetermined, worthwhile destination.  I noticed this one not only at clients, but also at Subway.  I walked in to get a sandwich at 2:30 in the afternoon.  There were no customers and the employees were literally sitting down.  If Subway wishes to expand its’ catering business in a certain community, then why not train employees to send faxes or emails to area businesses and follow up with a phone call during the slow periods between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner.  “Hi, my name is Steve from your local Subway restaurant on Water Street.  A lot of businesses use us to cater staff meetings and special events and I noticed we haven’t had the opportunity to serve you yet.  I’d like to offer you a 20% discount on your first catering order with us.  Is there an upcoming meeting for which we could provide food and beverages?” I’ve noticed similar situations at banks and other service based businesses.

5)  People are ‘busy’, but not ‘productive’: Emails, text messages, interruptions, being reactive instead of proactive.  That’s busy.  Everyone is busy.  Are you productive?  Productive means you are busy, sure, but you’re busy doing the specific actions and behaviors that are necessary to reach a predetermined, worthwhile outcome.  What are the HPBs (High Priority Behaviors) for each role in your organization?  In other words, if each role could only do three things proactively, everyday…what would those top three behaviors be?  And what would the result be to them, individually, and your company if they performed those HPBs more consistently?  Are these HPBs time-blocked in people’s calendars and considered non-negotiable?  One client scheduled 8:30am to 10am in his calendar daily to make outbound sales calls.  Every morning upon arriving to the office, there was mad chaos. He could have spent all day, every day putting out fires and handling crisis.  At 8:30am his alarm on his phone would ring.  No matter what was going on at that time, he would proclaim, “I MUST take this call”, leave the office, go to his car with his laptop, and make 90 minutes of sales calls.  When finished, he returned to the office to find the chaos ongoing.  He TOOK the time he needed to do his HPBs—the behavior he knows he needs to do to proactively move his goals forward.  This one tactic doubled his sales production in less than eight weeks.  Doubled!

In conclusion, don’t let the uncertainty of today’s economic environment keep you from operating under a solid business model with sound individual productivity tactics. I’ve seen many people and businesses leave their more scientific strategy to become street fighters in an attempt to survive.  The time is now, more than ever, to operate in a smart and precise manner with the people, processes, and intelligence in place to analyze current performance, design/develop the necessary adjustments to optimize results, and implement solutions regularly to continually improve results and maximize profit.  Don’t have a nice day, MAKE it the best day possible!  There’s a big difference. Thanks for reading.  To make a comment or contact me directly, please click here.

The Parable Of The 3 Golden Rocks!

June 22nd, 2011

Once upon a time, in a sales cubicle far, far away, a Sales Manager put forth the proclamation that the contents of two buckets must be combined.
In one bucket, there were three, big golden rocks that were said to hold the secret to sales rock stardom!
In the other bucket . . . golden sand that […]
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 Ride To Nowhere!

June 22nd, 2011

I remember when I had just gotten my license, my friends and I would take a trip to nowhere (also known in certain circles as a “ROAD TRIP”)
We had no destination, no compass was set . . .
Just a couple of crazy kids and the open road!
Truth be told, its something I still do today […]
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).

5 Ways To Screw Up Your Blog!

June 21st, 2011

I’ve been blogging since 2008 and boy have I learned quite a few lessons in the process!
I thought it might be cool to share with you 5 things that I think are complete “No No’s” when it comes to blogging.
1)    Calling People Out By Name: I can’t even begin to tell to you how many […]
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).

{Wedding} Sabina & David at The Alger House in Greenwich Village

June 21st, 2011

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A Father’s Love!

June 19th, 2011

There hasn’t been a Father’s Day since 1988 where I didn’t miss my Dad.
And while I could give you a whole laundry list of things that made my Dad special, the thing I miss the most was his unconditional love for his children.
No matter how much I screwed up, or how much I pushed back, […]
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).

Do You Mark Your Path?

June 18th, 2011

Do You Mark Your Path?
One of the many benefits you get when you keep a journal is the ability to “mark your path” which is a fancy way of saying “documenting the steps you take towards a specific outcome”
Perhaps it’s a challenge you are facing.
An opportunity that you leveraged.
How you brought in that cool new […]
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).

Brainstorming – Essential for Finding the Right Solution

June 17th, 2011
Brainstorming

Kickstart Your Next Brainstorming Session

Some clients come to us with a clear vision of what they want their final project to look like; some even bring in sketches, reference images or brainstorming notes. But sometimes clients like to leave the whole creative process to our design team, which is perfectly fine as well. Either way the client and/or our design team (and sometimes both of us together) should have a brainstorming session to get some ideas flowing about what direction the design should go in. Here are a few things to keep in mind when brainstorming for your next project (actually…keep these tips in mind for any type of brainstorming session!)

  1. Schedule a Brainstorming Session –  Everyone’s schedules are crammed tight with things to do these days so you want to make sure you schedule a brainstorming session with those who will be part of the planning process. Make sure you present the task-at-hand so they have time to prepare their thoughts and opinions beforehand, thus saving time during the actual brainstorming session.
  2. Brainstorm on an Individual Level – Be sure to ask everyone involved to spend some time brainstorming on their own prior to the meeting.  When brainstorming individually, you are able to focus more and better develop your own ideas instead of trying to latch on to others. Also, if you have your ideas written down before you walk into the meeting you might be more likely to be able to get in your “two cents” since you’ve already thoroughly thought about and written down your contributions.
  3. Run the Brainstorming Session – Now that everyone has had time to get there own thoughts down, it’s time to come together for the scheduled brainstorming session. There are a few things that you might want to do when running a brainstorming meeting to keep it orderly and focused:
  • Assign a Moderator – This might not be necessary in small groups, but it is always good to have someone moving the meeting along and making sure that everyone has a chance to share their ideas. Be sure the person that you assign this task is mildly assertive and is able to gently bring the others back to the core purpose of the meeting in case some happen to go off on “bunny trails” that have nothing to do with solving the task-at-hand.
  • Assign a Recorder – It’s important that you have proper notes of what was discussed at this meeting so you can easily recall your solutions when necessary. For this, I suggest asking a detail oriented, responsible individual to take notes on the brainstorming session, specifically noting the ideas that everyone agrees upon and making note of those ideas that might not work out for the current project. At the end of the meeting, it might be a good idea to make copies of these notes and distribute to those involved in the project.
  • Ensure Everyone Gets a Chance to Share Their Ideas – Inevitably, there is going to be at least one person in the group that does all the talking and at least one person in the group that sits there quietly…even if they have their own ideas they’re dying to share. It’s the nature of differing personalities, neither one is better than the other; they’re just different. So, to ensure that everyone gets a fair chance, have the moderator go around the room asking each person to share their ideas. Encourage interaction between peers about each idea, but make sure the moderator has a good grasp of the time so that they can reel everyone back in when it’s time to hear from someone else.
  • Don’t Let The Session Go Stale – Some brainstorming sessions will be more successful than others; you might have a flow of ideas that are non-stop, crazy-good concepts that leave you feeling pumped up for your project to begin. But sometimes you all might just get stuck in a rut and if that happens, you can’t let it discourage you. My advice would be to change up your focus. Encourage all involved in the meeting to get up and walk around – maybe even take a walk to a close-by park or playground and get some fresh air. You may also want to take a break and watch the latest witty viral video – get people laughing! Or maybe talk about some current events (try to focus on the positive though, this is not the time to hop up on your political soap box!). Another “technique” that I’ve often seen is where companies keep a box of toys such as Legos or Toobers & Zots in their conference room. It’s been said that since the majority of the nerves in our hands are directly connected to our brain, keeping your hands busy will help stimulate your brain cells…not to mention you can create some pretty nifty things with a box of Legos ?
  • No Idea is a Bad Idea – A few years ago I read a book called “The Imagineering Way” written by the Disney Imagineers and in it was a piece of advice that is so simple and sensible, but many people don’t follow it. In a nutshell, they wrote about how when they enter a brainstorming session, one of the rules is that “No idea is a bad idea”. Now I’m sure you can think of a time or two when your coworker or friend threw out an idea that was so far-fetched that you thought to yourself “…that was just stupid”. However, when you’re brainstorming, all the ideas you throw out are simply stepping stones that get you to the proper solution, so even if someone gives an idea that you think is ridiculous, it just might spark an idea that makes sense. So please, do not criticize each other for any idea that is given, instead encourage the flow of ideas, no matter what they are and you will have a much more successful brainstorming session.

Good Luck and Happy Brainstorming!

Brainstorming – Essential for Finding the Right Solution

June 17th, 2011
Brainstorming

Kickstart Your Next Brainstorming Session

Some clients come to us with a clear vision of what they want their final project to look like; some even bring in sketches, reference images or brainstorming notes. But sometimes clients like to leave the whole creative process to our design team, which is perfectly fine as well. Either way the client and/or our design team (and sometimes both of us together) should have a brainstorming session to get some ideas flowing about what direction the design should go in. Here are a few things to keep in mind when brainstorming for your next project (actually…keep these tips in mind for any type of brainstorming session!)

  1. Schedule a Brainstorming Session –  Everyone’s schedules are crammed tight with things to do these days so you want to make sure you schedule a brainstorming session with those who will be part of the planning process. Make sure you present the task-at-hand so they have time to prepare their thoughts and opinions beforehand, thus saving time during the actual brainstorming session.
  2. Brainstorm on an Individual Level – Be sure to ask everyone involved to spend some time brainstorming on their own prior to the meeting.  When brainstorming individually, you are able to focus more and better develop your own ideas instead of trying to latch on to others. Also, if you have your ideas written down before you walk into the meeting you might be more likely to be able to get in your “two cents” since you’ve already thoroughly thought about and written down your contributions.
  3. Run the Brainstorming Session – Now that everyone has had time to get there own thoughts down, it’s time to come together for the scheduled brainstorming session. There are a few things that you might want to do when running a brainstorming meeting to keep it orderly and focused:
  • Assign a Moderator – This might not be necessary in small groups, but it is always good to have someone moving the meeting along and making sure that everyone has a chance to share their ideas. Be sure the person that you assign this task is mildly assertive and is able to gently bring the others back to the core purpose of the meeting in case some happen to go off on “bunny trails” that have nothing to do with solving the task-at-hand.
  • Assign a Recorder – It’s important that you have proper notes of what was discussed at this meeting so you can easily recall your solutions when necessary. For this, I suggest asking a detail oriented, responsible individual to take notes on the brainstorming session, specifically noting the ideas that everyone agrees upon and making note of those ideas that might not work out for the current project. At the end of the meeting, it might be a good idea to make copies of these notes and distribute to those involved in the project.
  • Ensure Everyone Gets a Chance to Share Their Ideas – Inevitably, there is going to be at least one person in the group that does all the talking and at least one person in the group that sits there quietly…even if they have their own ideas they’re dying to share. It’s the nature of differing personalities, neither one is better than the other; they’re just different. So, to ensure that everyone gets a fair chance, have the moderator go around the room asking each person to share their ideas. Encourage interaction between peers about each idea, but make sure the moderator has a good grasp of the time so that they can reel everyone back in when it’s time to hear from someone else.
  • Don’t Let The Session Go Stale – Some brainstorming sessions will be more successful than others; you might have a flow of ideas that are non-stop, crazy-good concepts that leave you feeling pumped up for your project to begin. But sometimes you all might just get stuck in a rut and if that happens, you can’t let it discourage you. My advice would be to change up your focus. Encourage all involved in the meeting to get up and walk around – maybe even take a walk to a close-by park or playground and get some fresh air. You may also want to take a break and watch the latest witty viral video – get people laughing! Or maybe talk about some current events (try to focus on the positive though, this is not the time to hop up on your political soap box!). Another “technique” that I’ve often seen is where companies keep a box of toys such as Legos or Toobers & Zots in their conference room. It’s been said that since the majority of the nerves in our hands are directly connected to our brain, keeping your hands busy will help stimulate your brain cells…not to mention you can create some pretty nifty things with a box of Legos ;)
  • No Idea is a Bad Idea – A few years ago I read a book called “The Imagineering Way” written by the Disney Imagineers and in it was a piece of advice that is so simple and sensible, but many people don’t follow it. In a nutshell, they wrote about how when they enter a brainstorming session, one of the rules is that “No idea is a bad idea”. Now I’m sure you can think of a time or two when your coworker or friend threw out an idea that was so far-fetched that you thought to yourself “…that was just stupid”. However, when you’re brainstorming, all the ideas you throw out are simply stepping stones that get you to the proper solution, so even if someone gives an idea that you think is ridiculous, it just might spark an idea that makes sense. So please, do not criticize each other for any idea that is given, instead encourage the flow of ideas, no matter what they are and you will have a much more successful brainstorming session.

Good Luck and Happy Brainstorming!

My Revelation

June 16th, 2011

I’m going to navigate this blog into some treacherous waters that might offend but then again, I’m not looking for everyone’s approval anyway.
There are times when you are going to feel like crap.
You will feel frustrated.
And there is no visible answer in sight!
I’ve been there and its a feeling that can paralyze you with fear.
We […]
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).

Limiting Your Success Via “Either Or”!

June 15th, 2011

There’s something going on today that quite frankly I don’t like.
It’s happening in sales bullpens and boardrooms throughout the world.
Its happening when a rep gets called on the carpet with their manager and its happening on many a discussion thread on Linkedin.
I call it the “Either Or” limitation!
They consist of choices such as . . […]
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).

How To Hire A Sales Coach

June 13th, 2011

By way of confession, I used to hate “singers” back when I played in bands.
I hated the “singers” because there were many who didn’t have an ounce of talent, couldn’t sing worth a damn and when push came to shove they figured “Oh well, I guess I’ll sing!”
Fast forward a few decades and a lot […]
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).