5 Ways to Boost Productivity in any Profession

Date: 06/18/2017

Did you know that being considered likeable is more important than coming across as an “expert”?  Understanding needs, crafting solutions, collaborating and bringing value to the table are all important in any profession – but being liked helps them fall into place.  Being capable, coachable and willing to learn anything is an attitude that anyone can appreciate and often coming across as a know-it-all can be a turn-off.  Networking to increase business prospects, gain new leads and generate referrals often starts behind the screen, however, there is no replacement for face-to-face meetings in person where body language can be observed. Eye contact, posture, vocal quality and tone, facial expressions and other body movements are powerful tools that can complement or distract from the content of your message.  Being an active listener, focusing on the other person’s interest, not making quick judgements, asking powerful questions and following up after a call or meeting are all ways that could boost desired results in any profession.   

1) Active Listening

Before a call, video-conference or a face-to-face meeting to generate business or move the deal forward are you usually prepared with notes or material to guide conversation?  It is an excellent way to ensure that you are not caught off guard by being unprepared, however, it can be tempting to make sure all of your points are covered instead of listening to what is important to them. Try not to interrupt, disagree, evaluate or think about how to interject the next point you want to discuss. While the other person is talking do you find yourself thinking about trying to impress with your own expertise, knowledge or what you are going to say next?  Active listening is not simply being quiet or not having anything to say – its reminding yourself to let them bring up what is most important or of value to them and then ask to know more about it. Try summarizing what was just said by repeating it back from their frame of reference.  

2) Other Person’s Interest 

Popular abbreviations in tracking client/customer metrics are ROI (Return on Investment) and ACV (Average Customer Value).  If the customer is actually treated as just a number; it can come through in attitude, behavior, conversations and experiences. It is a popular theme to express that all customers are valued and treated the same but with increasing focus on data and numbers behind the scenes, it may be an increasing challenge to carry that through to reality.  Instead of focusing on what you have to offer – cultivate a genuine interest in the other person.  Ask about their business story or goals. They may tell you exactly what needs or problems that they want to have solved and then you will be ready to share how you can be of value. 

3) Perception vs. Facts – suspend quick judgements to net more opportunities

When placing a call to a potential new client are you already influenced by what you “believe you know based on an online search”? Do you work from a screen that already “offers up information” about income, credentials, zip code, past purchasing history etc. about the person that you are calling? Everyone has either had or knows someone who has been falsely or unfairly represented online.  It is also known that public, professional or personal profiles do not represent a complete picture.   Businesses are often harmed by third-party review sites that may not be accurate representations.  Many of us do a quick read of reviews before trying a new restaurant. Variations in personal experiences and expectations can change due to menu changes, staff turn-over, new vendors or suppliers of food, shift in ownership or management to name only some of the influences behind dining perceptions.  Regardless of the type of business that has reviews online or whether they are positive or negative in nature – it can be impossible to know the motivations of the person writing them.  One popular review site does not allow business owners to take down reviews and forces them to pay a monthly fee to even “write a response”.  It is challenging to not form quick judgements by what we see or read online about a business or an individual. Stay open-minded and remember that a quick search online does not mean you have the facts.  Find business opportunities and professional connections that others may miss based on quick judgements made before even meeting.  

4) Power Questions

How can I help you?
What are your personal or professional goals? 
What challenges are you currently experiencing? 
Do you have any advice for me?  

Research findings from Wharton School and Harvard Business School showed that asking for advice makes you look more capable.  “Individuals perceive those who seek advice as more competent than those who do not seek advice” one author wrote.  You validate someone’s intelligence and expertise by asking for their knowledge.  Treat it as valuable, regardless of initial feelings of agreement and thank them for taking the time and energy to advise you.

5) Importance of the Follow-Up

It can be confusing with so many increasing communication platforms to know which one to use with a client or customer.  When following up in business, we have all found ourselves thinking about whether to call, leave a voice mail or not, use video-conferencing, which social media application is most relevant, when texting is appropriate and if physical mail (example a hand-written note) still impresses.  Being persistent is the goal but with focus and intent on adding value to the other person.  After a meeting or call – ask what is their preferred way for you to stay in touch.  Email will often be the answer so here is a good response: “you probably get hundreds of emails a day, anything I can put in the Subject Headingto gain your valuable attention”?  If they want a proposal, ask to schedule a time to review it. Avoid any reach-outs that are to “touch base” or “check in”; only contact your prospect, client or customer with a specific goal of adding value to them.  When the follow-up is focused on them, response rates and engagement numbers will increase significantly.  

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