Higher Power

Secrets #5 - 8

Secret #5Establish Personal Visibility Within the Marketplace and the Community as a Whole. Jennifer K. Ash, chair of Tomco Tool & Die, a designer and manufacturer of custom dies in Belding, Michigan, operates in an industry dominated by men. When she became chair, Jennifer had to learn metallurgy, the marketplace, her company and how to relate to her prospects and customers-and she had to do it all very quickly. She pulled it off. Ash's advice on how anyone can become familiar with (and therefore more valuable to) the organizations they sell to is direct and to the point: "Join professional organizations that relate to what you're selling."

In other words, try becoming visible in your community of potential and existing customers. Volunteer your time to a professional organization and get on the mailing lists of associations whose members can purchase your products. In addition, you should consider joining five organizations. "If you don't," Ash warns, "one of your competitors will."

Secret #6Personally Monitor Changes in Your Marketplace. Sure, this is extra work. But it pays off-and it's already part of your job description. That's what Mancuso of the CEO Club does. "Become a super information processor," he says. "Open all your mail, watch the phone log and visitor's log, read the business journal, spot a growth industry, and organize and attend a customer focus group." Chances are, you're already doing these things-but it never hurts to ask yourself "How does this information affect our selling process?"

Secret #7Build on Interpersonal Relationships to Secure One-On-One Loyalty From Customers. Posten, CEO of Landis Strategy & Innovation, puts it this way: "I had to get real about what I was doing for my customers. I had to use what I was selling. [Only] then was I able to articulate what I did to my prospects and customers." Once Posten did that, he earned the loyalty of his customers and was able to build new market share quickly for his business. Bob is an expert at building loyalty by making deposits into-rather than withdrawals from-the "relationship bank account." Perhaps we should all check the balance in that account from time to time.

Inspire Your Team
Make sure your mission statement isn't just a piece of paper. Read Missed Mission to learn how to create a mission that means something.

Secret #8Have a Crystal-Clear Understanding of Your Vision. Many would say that Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, stands out as the ultimate "champion of vision." Before you internalize his advice, keep in mind that Southwest Airlines is the only American-owned, major air carrier showing a profit. "Vision is critically important when it comes to training customers on what your mission statement really means," Putnam says. "It's important when it comes to showing your marketplace and your team members. And it's a critical part of making sure all your team members become salespeople." How clearly do you articulate your vision to your organization, prospects and customers?

Tony Parinello has become the nation's foremost expert on executive-level selling. He's also the author of the bestselling book bearing the name of his sales training program,Getting to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer, 10 Steps to VITO's Office,as well as the host of Club VITO, a weekly live internet broadcast.

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This article was originally published in the August 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Higher Power.

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