Guest blog: A bad way to use your Smart phone, by Mark Hunter aka “The Sales Hunter”.

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I met Mark Hunter (aka The Sales Hunter) a number of years ago when he and I presented programs at a conference. We’ve stayed in touch and I’ve come to respect and appreciate his practical sales philosophy and proven selling strategies and tips. Here’s a sample of Mark’s reality-based perspective on a timely and important topic.

While sitting in a meeting, never take notes directly on your Blackberry, iPhone, Droid or other smart phone.

This applies for all professionals, but especially salespeople.  You might be the most amazing tech user the world has ever seen.  You might have the ability to type 40 words per minute on your iPhone — but that doesn’t mean you should do it.

The reason is simple — the vast majority of people will assume you’re bored and checking messages.   Older salespeople understand that this assumption exists, but I’m amazed at how many salespeople under the age of 30 don’t get it.

It doesn’t matter who you’re meeting with. Do yourself a favor and use a pen to take notes.

A general rule for any meeting is keep your iPhone, Blackberry or other smart phone on silent and put away.  There is nothing more frustrating than to watch another person’s iPhone vibrate with a new message while it’s sitting on the table in front of everyone.

I don’t care how big your ego is. Put it away.

There is an appropriate time to take it out, such as to check dates for the follow-up sales call or to verify another date.

A few tips on taking notes:

First, make sure you jot down notes on whatever the customer has to say.  Nothing will show them more about how much you value what they’re saying than by taking notes.

Second, taking notes allows you to be the one to recap the meeting.   If you can be the one to send out the follow-up email immediately after the meeting with your notes, you have the ability to influence the outcomes.

Third, it will help you stay focused.  When we take notes, we naturally have to concentrate more on what is being said.  This prevents us from losing focus or spending our time solely focused on what we want to say next.

What about an iPad?

Some of you reading this may be wondering how an iPad or other tablet plays into the process.  My answer is that taking notes on an iPad is OK, as long as you can meet the following three criteria:

First, you have to keep it visible so people can see you’re typing directly on a tablet.

Second, everyone else in the meeting must be at least technically comfortable.  By this I mean they have to see the value of technology and use it in their jobs.  If a person is leery of technology, the last thing you want to do is to whip out an iPad just as the meeting starts.

Third, make sure that as you use the tablet for notes, you do not page over to check email, etc.

Finally, make sure all alert features have been disengaged to prevent the nagging buzz or beep at the inopportune time.

Copyright 2011, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

Register to receive Mark’s weekly sales motivation blog and access his wealth of sales experience and expertise by visiting  http://thesaleshunter.com/.

e-body language in business communications.

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Today’s entry is from my colleague, Diane Craig. Diane is an internationally-recognized expert on image and etiquette through her consulting and training firm, Corporate Class Inc.

When I established my Executive Presence Training Program, body language was an important building block. Still is, when you consider that our strongest impressions are conveyed visually. The subtleties or nuances of even minimal body movements and gestures provide important signals. Body language speaks volumes.

Today, however, there’s another lingua franca in the workplace that has become the cornerstone of  all business communications. Although often referred to as e-body language, I think “techno-communications” really covers it all — email, cell phones, mobile devices. When we can’t see a person speaking, we look for other interpretative clues to help decipher the message. Words and tone become the carrier pigeons for emails, text messaging and obviously, phone calls.

But just for a minute, let’s return to body language. Professor Albert Mehrabian is frequently quoted for his non-verbal communication research on what’s often called The 3 V’s: visual, vocal,  verbal. His published studies indicate that, person-to-person, we interpret messages:
• Visually — 55% from facial expressions
• Vocally — 38% from voice quality and the way words are spoken
• Verbally —7% from the actual words

With techno or e-communications, the relevance of the actual word choice increases dramatically. Obviously, the spoken tone upstages language on phone calls — we hear anger or joy — but with emails, words become the stars of the show. From the minor 7% bit player in face-to-face communication, words now move up to 70%, a big change of roles.

Just for a moment, consider the permanence of email. The sender has no control over the message, in terms of its “replay” frequency or readership. And this is worrisome for the simple reason that as we have become more and more dependent on email and message texting instead of personal meetings, we’ve become not lazy or careless, just less attentive. When it comes to trendspotting, I’m on autopilot, and I’ve noticed this shift. There’s a time for easy-breezy e-chitchat, emoticons and buzzword abbreviations like “BTW,” but business email isn’t the place. I’m not advocating a return to old-fashioned correspondence. Au contraire. Techno-savvy communication is essential in our feverishly fast-paced world. I’m simply pointing out that attention-to-detail is mandatory with every email or text message.

We all make email typos. SpellChecker isn’t clever enough to highlight “tow” when we meant to type “two,” in a hastily composed message. Take an extra minute to proofread; it’s such an easy solution. Robert Whipple, CEO of Leadergrow and author of Understanding E-Body Language, raises an important point: “Everyone knows that E-mail is different from conversations, but often people do not consciously change communication patterns based on that knowledge. For example, people cannot modify content of an e-mail based on the real-time visible reaction of the other party as is possible in face-to-face conversations. Instead, all of the information is presented at once without feedback. Misunderstandings or hurt feelings are common.”

Then there’s the embarrassment-email category. It could be called really-big-blunders and criticism heads the list. Believe me, a follow-up email with an “Oops” subject line just doesn’t strike the right chord! And remember, the original, offensive message is floating around in cyberspace for posterity. When in doubt, put the brakes on. Send the message to yourself and reassess its implications.

Texting’s inherent limitations are in some ways a bonus. We tend to be more forgiving about the often heavily abbreviated and occasionally hieroglyphic content. Mobile devices function as prompters or mini-message boards — it’s the protocols of usage that are the problem. Park your mobile device in your pocket or purse when you attend a meeting. Every time you’re tempted to make an exception, don’t. Remember instead your suppressed sense exasperation when fidgeting
fingers signaled you were talking to yourself.

Same story for cell phones. Of course, we all know cell phones must be parked and off before meetings, big or small, but most people seem to think this rule only applies to others. The fact is, from cell phones to emails and mobile devices, techno-communications present a long learning curve. I think we’ve just started the journey.

For more information about Diane Craig, her services and programs visit www.corporateclassinc.com

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