Category: Success

When Everything is Changing, What Should Stay the Same?

 

If you perform any corporate sales function, I don’t have to tell you that in the pandemic everything has changed. As a former corporate sales person myself, I valued meeting face-to-face with my clients. That is currently not possible. Sales people have had to re-focus their strategies.

The Change Begins with You

If corporate sales teams are trying to understand how to manage change, their customers are in the same boat as well.

David Ash, senior vice president of FLMH, an agricultural sales and marketing firm, gave this advice to sales teams attempting to adjust to the changes brought about by COVID:

“Many people are frozen in place right now and don’t know what to do with themselves. But it’s important to get up every morning, create a plan, set goals and focus on how you can best serve your customers.”

This thought was echoed by FLMH executive vice president Mitch Van Kampen:

“We have to get creative about problem solving…it’s the salesperson’s business to be asking the right questions and finding proactive solutions.”

These solutions don’t come by magic, they require an intentional vision to develop strategy to implement that change. Sales consultant Tamara Schenk concluded the following regarding sales team management during periods of change.

  • You first need a shared vision of success across the organization.
  • You need a comprehensive change story, i.e., What we doing? Why are we doing it?
  • You need to have clarity in how those changes are to be accomplished.
  • Most importantly: The change you want to see in the organization begins with you.

Do you have the determination to see that change begins with you? Your sales team may have a good idea of what they want to accomplish, they may be clear on those goals, but unless they have the daily grit to get things done, managing change will be an impossible, uphill battle.

See Yourself as Successful

Tamara Schenk makes an important sales change observation:

The key for success is you being the example for the change you want to see in your organization. That means that you should be the first to use and apply the new methods, processes, tools, content assets, etc. You should be amongst the first to use new content, including the sharing functions, with your clients. If it’s about training or coaching, you should be the first one attending the class, even if it’s an online training.”

If you are employed in any corporate sales capacity during these times of rapid and unexpected changes, you must be determined to set an example, to leave your comfort zone and to be determined to lead. Remember that your customers need you.

Become better informed than anyone in your organization, learn as much as you can, coach as many people on your team as possible, and make yourself invaluable.

There will always be change, but what must remain is your vision and core values. For those with the mindset of winning, with the determination to make a difference and the desire to win, there will be rewards.

The pandemic is a major challenge, to be sure, but there will always be challenges. Those who rise to them will be winners. Be the winner that you are.

 

Scott Burrows, Corporate Sales Change Management Speaker, is available for virtual or in-person sales meetings for associations and organizations. Contact Scott today through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169

 

Small Business in America: It’s Gut-Check Time

 

Being a small business resilience speaker and having my own business, I relate on a personal level to one of the tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic: how it impacted small business across America.

By May 12, 2020, the Washington Post reported that at least 100,000 small businesses had shut their doors.

A small business doesn’t necessarily mean a “Mom and Pop Stationery Store.” The U.S. Small Business Administration defines a small business as having as many as 1,500 employees and $35 million in sales.

When a small business goes out of business, it is a tragedy. A business isn’t a “thing,” it’s people trying to build something for themselves and their families.

It is Time for Small Business to Go Big

In July 2020, the United States Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey entitled “Small Business Corona Virus Impact Poll.” The poll reported that of the small businesses that survived the first wave, “Two-thirds of small businesses (65%) are concerned about having to close again or stay closed if there is a second wave…”

The survey reminds us that after the initial lockdown occurred, 85 percent of small businesses were forced to temporarily close. They don’t know if they can survive a second onslaught.

However, there is optimism in this bleakness. Businesses are taking action to anticipate the second wave: 32 percent are purchasing extra inventory, 29 percent are updating websites and improving social media profiles, and 25 percent are refining and boosting e-commerce.

While I’m pleased that small businesses are taking steps to look ahead, there is much more that can be done. In an Associated Press release, entitled “Ways Small Businesses Can Fight Back Amidst COVID-19 and the Retail Apocalypse,” Nebraska farmer Steve Buchanan had some interesting insights including the implied need for local businesses to have the determination to reach out to local communities and to make an impact.

There is great wisdom in reaching out locally. In fact, Mr. Buchanan now sells his produce almost exclusively online.

When I speak to small business associations, I encourage each organization to develop a mindset that envisions success. Does your small business have a vision that looks beyond the current challenges to overcome the challenges?

While buying extra inventory, updating websites and boosting e-commerce are necessary, they are passive.

An important part of having the mindset to overcome challenges is to be creative, to be willing to be an active participant in finding new ways to get customers “in the door,” and to share that vision with every member of your organization. This is called resilience.

Whether you have a dog grooming business with three employees or 300 grooming businesses with 500 employees, there must be a shared vision. To be truly resilient means that everyone in the organization must be determined to pull together to encourage opinions and to believe in your mission.

My heart aches for those small businesses barely holding their own, but I would feel even worse if the only thing standing between success and failure of a small business in the coming months was a lack of resilience to meet the challenges.

Let’s all be determined to have the daily grit to make the vision work and the resilience to do what we need to do to get through this time together.

 

Scott Burrows, Small Business Resilience Speaker, is available for virtual or in-person sales meetings for associations and organizations. Contact Scott today through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169

 

Insurance Industry Change: Virtually as Hard as You Make It

 

As a motivational insurance sales speaker and former member of the Million Dollar Round Table, I know that selling insurance is easily one of the world’s most intensive, public facing sales jobs. Though products vary from company to company, the most important product you can offer is you.

Then we come to the pandemic. Suddenly, your firm handshake, your trusty, effervescent smile and the friendly banter gave way to videoconferencing, email and a phone call or two. Who had time to prepare for COVID-19? No one. The screeching halt from face-to-face to virtual sales was calamitous. Some insurance industry sales reps determined to keep fighting; unfortunately, many left.

In an industry where new hire turnover rates are 30 percent after three months, once April 2020 hit, thousands of insurance sales reps joined the millions of sales reps in other fields who quit or walked away because selling was “too tough.”

What’s the Difference?

The online resource Business Process Incubator recently completed (as of July 9, 2020) an insurance industry sales survey entitled: How Difficult It Is For Insurance Companies To Go To Remote Working? The results are eye-opening but not unexpected. Let me summarize several of the challenges.

The survey found that it is hard for insurance sales reps to initially explain what was happening, but those who succeeded in overcoming the confusion during the earliest stages had more robust referral networks.

The survey found it is more difficult to sell an “intangible product” remotely. Customers and sales reps can’t share emotions. It is difficult to break through barriers. This is where a sales rep must focus on selling themselves, outworking the competition, and making a difference.

Managing data security is also seen as a big challenge. Insurance providers and their agencies must bolster security and hire more people to ensure confidentiality and protect extremely important customer information. To that end, sales reps must convey trust and instill confidence.

Working remotely is not easy for the sales rep or customer, however, sales reps can convey the convenience and the lessened stress in buying insurance online. In other words, a negative can be turned into a positive.

While some are challenged, others aren’t. According to the survey, the keys are flexibility and technical expertise. Sales reps must either embrace the challenges or get lost in the confusion.

So, what is the Difference?

It can be argued, of course, that the insurance industry and its sales reps live in challenging times, and that the changes faced everyday are enormous. But hasn’t it always been this way?

In what era has selling insurance been stress-free? In what year have so many customers flocked to us that we didn’t have to work? Truth is, there are insurance sales reps who have a winning mindset, and some who don’t.

The insurance industry has always relied on people with vision who have the determination to succeed. If we look at the points raised in the survey, it’s clear that each challenge in the present-day world of virtual insurance sales can be overcome.

The science community has shown tremendous determination and grit to arrive at several promising vaccine candidates. The challenges against them were many. Yet, they persisted and they are close to winning.

Your mission as insurance sales reps is to be inspired to rise up in a similar manner. The difference is you. Stand up to the challenges – and win!

 

Scott Burrows, Motivational Insurance Industry Sales Speaker, is available for virtual or in-person sales meetings. Contact Scott today through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169.

“Looking Around” is Not the Same Thing as Having Vision

 

In my role as a keynote speaker on pharmaceutical sales and change management, I am often surprised by the answers I receive when I ask a group of sales reps, “What is your vision?”  The answer I most frequently hear is “I am looking for any opportunity I can grab.” It’s the wrong answer. In fact, given the current changes in the pharmaceutical industry, to not understand vision is disastrous.

Sales expert David Jacoby writing for The Sales Readiness Blog states:

“A sales vision must also be challenging, something that is above and beyond the normal expectations. It should also be attainable, that is, realistic enough to be achievable if you and your team stretch a bit. Your sales vision should also specify some positive change that you are committed to realize through concerted effort with your sales team…”

Jacoby is correct. We can all “look around for opportunities,” but pharmaceutical sales teams must develop a set of specific, achievable goals. It takes a razor-sharp vision, with the entire team devoted to success.

The Harvard Business Review, in an article entitled “Ineffective Sales Leaders Can Cause Lasting Damage,” vision is seen as an important aspect of success, especially when there is a change in leadership or sales structure.

HBR said it is important for sales teams to: “Create a fresh vision, reflecting a culture in which salespeople trusted their leaders and in which all salespeople were held accountable for results, and to Communicate the vision using every opportunity, including sales meetings, videoconferences, and the company’s intranet.”

Let’s Get Personal

When it comes to pharmaceutical sales, especially in these times of rapid industry change, it is important to realize that the team is us. It is up to each sales rep to have the determination to be successful and the mindset to carry it out. Vision is more important than ever. Do you have a personal vision statement?

The job seekers website Indeed.com had some important things to say about the importance of writing a personal vision statement (October 7, 2019). In an industry going through regulatory changes, mergers, acquisitions and increased scrutiny, to not write a personal vision statement is foolhardy.

To quote from the Indeed.com article:

“Review it [your personal vision statement] every day. Write your statement on an index card, and keep it in a prominent place you can see it often. If you work in an office, it could be on your desk. Alternatively, you may choose to display the card somewhere at home so you see it when you get up in the morning or do work tasks from home…Choose your next step based on what role gets you closer to your goal…”

The vision statement may change but what doesn’t change is the constancy of having one. If you have the grit to stick to your vision and embrace a set of success goals, no matter how challenging the times, you are well ahead of those who are “just looking around.”

 

 

Hire Scott Burrows, Pharmaceutical Sales Speaker for your next industry meeting. Connect with his office today through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169

 

 

In Sales, Some Things Change; Resilience Doesn’t

 

As a motivational speaker on resilience and grit, I know that of the many qualities a salesperson needs, resilience – and the daily grit to remain resilient – are never mentioned enough. Perhaps it’s because resilience, the skill of being flexible, isn’t thought of as being cool. It is, and in fact, business resilience yields huge benefits.

Get Tough

I’d like to open these thoughts on resilience and grit by quoting Gary Galvin, CEO of Galvin Technologies:

“While salespeople will find success when they lead with empathy, they’ll find greater success when they respond with resilience.”

He is on the money. When I was in the insurance and financial services industry, I qualified for the Million Dollar Round Table through the resilient pursuit of my sales goals. Of course, I was sympathetic to situations involving my clients, but it was far more important to be flexible to their needs, and to put in the effort to immediately respond to questions and changes.

If I was going to be successful as a salesperson, I had no choice but to develop a flexible mindset.

Michael F. Kay, wrote an article for Forbes magazine (11/7/17) entitled: “Resilience Is A Mindset Of Awareness And Practice.” Kay listed several ways in which this mindset can be nurtured. Among the top methods for cultivation of resiliency are increasing our sense of control: you are not powerless when your sales plans change, you can change with it; it is important to maintain perspective in a changing situation; and you must develop a positive self-concept.

I would also add that if you are part of a sales team, associate with those who also have a flexible mindset. It is easy to be surrounded by negative or inflexible people. They cannot help you. The winners on your team will see opportunity even in adversity.

Get Gritty

However, to be resilient also requires the grit to keep going and to see the big picture rather than the immediate problem. Kori Miller, writing for Positive Psychology, presented a wonderful summary of grit as a component of resiliency:

“Grit is about sustained, consistent effort toward a goal even when we struggle, falter, or temporarily fail.

Resilience is our ability to bounce back after we have struggled, faltered, or failed. It is being able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, take a moment or two to collect ourselves, and then get back to the business of pursuing our goal. It involves optimism.”

We cannot be resilient without grit nor can we possess a “gritty mindset” without resilience. As any successful salesperson knows, in real life we may misquote an important benefit, miss an appointment or inadvertently park in the CEO’s parking space. Those things unfortunately happen. It is how we respond to those struggles that count, whether it amounts to making a detailed correction, profusely apologizing (without fabrication) or sending a dozen roses.

In the end, resiliency and grit are about the courage to stand up after you have been knocked down and to keep smiling.

 

To hire Scott Burrows, Inspirational Keynote Speaker on Resilience and Grit for your next industry meeting, connect with his office today through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169

 

Customer Service Opportunities Win Customers for Life

 

As a motivational customer service speaker, I’ve based keynote speeches on important lessons I first learned in the insurance and financial services industry, and later as a co-owner of an international export company. Customer service means we must always be prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty.

When I was in export sales, my company sold a container-load of a custom-blended fertilizer to a client in Singapore. When the product arrived, it was as hard as concrete, unusable. To save the relationship, we modified the product and shipped them another container load. No one expected us to do it. We lost money at first, but we impressed the client and kept what turned out to be a long-term client relationship.

When it comes to separating yourself from the competition, you must have the vision to see yourself delivering quality customer service and the grit to discipline yourself to customer service excellence.

An Amazing Experience in Dallas

Opportunities to deliver excellent customer service are everywhere. My next keynote speaking engagement may include the following true story.

Not long ago, I was honored to speak at two events at the Grand Old Opry Convention Center in Nashville. Following the second talk, my voice started to crack and it felt as though I was coming down with a chest cold. For a keynote speaker, losing your voice is catastrophic!

I had to catch a plane to Dallas that afternoon to speak at a huge conference the next day. By the time I exited the airport my voice was completely gone (“Oh, great, I’m going to stand-up 1,000 people!”). I used the ride-sharing app and the driver quickly picked me up. I wrote on my iPhone:

“Help! I lost my voice. Can you please take me to an urgent care center near my hotel?”

The hotel was about 30 miles away. It was just the start of an amazing adventure.

As he’s driving, he asked if I was sick. I nodded my head.

“Please sir, let me take care of you. I know what it feels like to get sick in a town where you don’t know anyone.”

He turned off the ride sharing system, so he went “off the grid,” so to speak. He found an urgent care center, then parked, and waited for me. I was diagnosed with a respiratory disorder and given a prescription. He then drove me another five miles to a pharmacy that had groceries. He asked me what I needed in addition to the medicine, then he went around the store and got me snacks plus salt for gargling, honey and tea.

He drove me to my hotel, parked the car, and helped me check in. He took me up to my room and carried my bags. On my iPhone I wrote, “From the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you, for your kindness.”

I carry a $100 bill in my pocket for emergencies. He refused to take it!  I whispered, “I know you did this out of the courtesy of your heart, but I’m in a position to pay. I want to respect you for your time. Please don’t be insult me by refusing. I would feel terrible.”

He finally took it and gave me his personal number. He said if I needed any assistance whatsoever while I was there to please let him know.

He was originally not from this country. He wasn’t rich, but he was determined to give me what he had to give: himself. It is the essence of customer service. We don’t give customers our company mottos, or promotional pens, we give them ourselves.

I will never forget how he made me feel. You’d better believe that if I am ever in a position to help him, I will.

He sold me on himself.

 

Book Scott Burrows, Motivational Customer Service Speaker through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169

 

 

 

The Changing Landscape for Insurance & Financial Services

 

As a former insurance and financial adviser, I know much has changed in the past few years in the insurance and financial industry. Customers are more sophisticated and they want to be seen as people, not numbers.

Roi Agababa, the CEO of Novidea, a major brokerage software provider for all lines of insurance, recently wrote an article entitled “5 Key Challenges Facing the Insurance Industry.” One of the challenges he notes is that customer expectations have changed.

He points to the fact that “70 percent of customers expect [their insurance] business to tailor communications and services” based on transactions in the past. When they renew, they assume their experience will be “a frictionless experience – hassle-free, no waiting, and self-service where possible.”

This experience may sound less personalized, but it’s not. The new insurance buyers still want personal attention but on their own terms.

“Digital-savvy millennials are gradually replacing baby boomers as the main buyers of personal insurance and, with a phone always in hand, expect to transact anytime from anywhere.”

Business as Usual is Changing

Salesforce Research organization recently surveyed more than 6,700 consumers and business buyers of goods and services around the world. The results were far different than we might have imagined. Some of the highlights of what they found include:

  • When they call your office, more than 75 percent expect the insurance companies to understand their needs and expectations. This obviously requires a thorough knowledge of your products.
  • Millennials do their research. They have undoubtedly studied many aspects of your products before they call. Getting the sale means doing more, knowing more and approaching their needs without condescension.
  • Along with the point above, “59 percent of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to winning their business.” When they ask for options or a presentation, they want it tailor-made not boiler-plate.
  • 84 percent of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. Just because they may find you online or even prefer to correspond with you through texts and emails does not mean they want an impersonal interaction.
  • 63 percent of your insurance or financial services customers want new and innovative products; at the same time, nearly 70 percent are not impressed with ho-hum products that every other representative is offering.
  • Finally, there has been an increase of about 62 percent of concerns about cybersecurity than only two years ago. Expect your current and future clients to ask about cybersecurity within in your firm. How will you answer?

“Business as usual” will never be quite the same. The new generation of insurance and financial services buyers want seamlessness of transactions, expertise, and personalization.

In 2020, you must have the vision to meet your clients’ demands where they are, the determination and daily grit to rise above your competitors, and the dedication to being the best agent you can be.

 

To contact Scott Burrows, Inspirational Insurance and Financial Services Speaker, contact his office today through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169

 

Are Meeting Planners Determined to Overcome a “Rosy” Outlook?

 

As a motivational speaker on overcoming challenges, it may be counter-intuitive for me to ask clients in the meeting planning industry if they are determined to ‘overcome’ the rosy market outlook for 2020.

Yes, but…

Most industry surveys for 2020 seem to be optimistic enough. The consensus is that attendance at industry meetings will modestly increase on a global level anywhere from 1- percent to 3-percent; that meetings should be longer and that hoteliers are projecting a resurgence in building. However, we all understand that wearing rose-colored glasses is not always a good business strategy.

Despite its general optimism, the “2020 Amex Global Meetings and Events Forecasts” does project a decrease in internal meetings; that the political outlook can’t be ignored; that meeting budget increases will match escalating costs. Of the many concerns in the forecast is that “meeting planners will continue to be required to do more with less.”

Business Travel News in their September 2019 piece “Meeting Professionals Anticipate Growth for 2020” looked beyond the good news.

The good news is that “planners expect to see room availability increase by 0.8 to 1.4 percent and available meeting space to increase by 0.8 to 1.9 percent.”

However, we all know that while planners highly favor “top-tier” meeting locations, space has not kept up with demand. The article re-quoted a highly placed meeting planner who said, “they’ve been moving to second-tier cities, which are more affordable but also may add to travel time for meeting attendees.” Traveling as much as I do, I am also aware that while meeting space in second-tier cities may be more affordable, transportation and frequency of flights may not follow suit.

Echoing the point above, business writer Chris Ryall in an article for Skift Asia Weekly entitled “Meeting Planners Anticipate Rough Year in 2020,” stated:

“Planners will be pressed to find good deals for their clients at a time when venue availability is limited. Looking ahead, all of these issues will become even more pronounced in an election year amid an uncertain global economy.”

It is a Matter of Vision

It is one thing to paint a glowing picture of what the meeting industry should look like, and another to turn the picture into reality. Every meeting planner understands this.

After the terrible accident that suddenly changed me from an athlete and martial artist to a quadriplegic, there were wonderful family members and many close friends who stopped by my room to wish me well.

Without exception, they offered rosy guesses when I’d be on my feet, or how everything would return to normal, or how good I looked. That was their vision for me, but it was a much more difficult road for me to visualize myself moving my arms, writing a note or moving my legs. I realized I would need to develop the determination and the daily grit to push myself as hard as I could to be successful.

In 2020, expect big challenges for the meeting industry, but with vision, determination and grit you will achieve success. While the outlook may seem terrific, get rid of the rosy glasses. It is up to you to make it happen.

 

To speak with Scott Burrows, Inspirational Speaker about Overcoming Challenges for your next meeting, connect with his office today by calling: (520) 548-1169 or through this website.