Step Away From The Drama

My former colleague (and good friend) Nancy always told us to "keep our eyes on our own paper" when there was drama. I thought of her when responding to a question in the Account Executive Academy recently.

I've included a screenshot so you can see my new favorite tool in action, PreziVideo. And also a funny face because of too many months in a dining room.

Client service is a team sport and how colleagues are showing up (or not) is adding an extra dash of fun to 2020. Resist efforts to steal your time and drain your energy by anyone who just wants to complain.

Repeat after me. Not my circus. Not my monkeys.

When there's an issue between "Colleague A" and "Colleague B" as there was here, be the voice of reason to determine if the problem was an event or part of a pattern.

The goal? If someone slipped up then we should extend the patience and grace we'd want when (not if) we fall short at some point.

If it's part of a pattern of shortcomings, then energy should be focused...

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Want a response? Keep it simple.

Uncategorized Sep 09, 2020

Wondering why someone hasn't responded to your email?

Annoyed even?

Imagine they read it on their phone.

  • Was it 2+ swipes or scrolls?
  • Long, bulky paragraphs?
  • Information buried in an attachment?
  • No deadline for the next steps?

They're not the problem. You are.

Make it easy for people (prospects, clients, colleagues) to work with you.

Check your sent folder and consider revising anything that's complicated.

One thing that may surprise you is how often you've been tapping your toes waiting for a response when you never asked a question. I learned this with my 17-year-old son over years of texting him and getting no reply. Usually, when I'd get annoyed that he didn't respond, he would point out that I hadn't asked anything.

Keep in mind, as well, that "pushing out" information to someone doesn't obligate the recipient to respond.

Make it ok for them to tell you that they aren't interested in a further discussion (at least now) by using my friend Tom Batchelder's...

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Um, that was painful.

Uncategorized Sep 01, 2020

This morning I was the keynote speaker at UBA’s annual fall conference. I had the pleasure of kicking off the conversation about adapting to maximize growth in these "interesting" times.

I was asked to monitor the chat session while my prerecorded session was played. There was no way to avoid listening to myself for 45 minutes.

I’m proud of the content and loved how Prezi Video made it more engaging than simply sharing a PowerPoint.

And yet...

It was painful to critique myself while hundreds of people were watching with me. 

It’s good nobody had to do a shot every time I said “um” because it would’ve been virtual conferences gone wild at 9 am. Good grief.

I need to pause and take a breath without unnecessary filler words. I knew I had this habit, but there’s no escaping it now that I’ve seen this session.

Do you record your virtual meetings? Do you and your team watch them? 

 Something fun to do on the next Zoom...

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6 Lessons From Sending Weekly Emails

Uncategorized Aug 19, 2020

It's so much easier to dish out advice than to take it...which is why I'm really proud of this anniversary.

My weekly email anniversary

A year ago I committed to consistently writing to my email subscribers every week. And while I toggled between Tuesdays and Thursdays, I did it EVERY SINGLE WEEK since last August.

Even when I was on vacation (thanks to automation) and when I had shingles (thanks to medication)...PSA: Get the Shingles vaccine if you're 50+. 

Now, if I could just get my a** on my Peloton and exercise for a year.

I consult with teams on creating contrast in their firm's offer. As important, however, is how they individually stand out and create a memorable impression.

Over the year, this process has provided me a platform to practice what I ask clients to do, including:

Be consistent & reliable. Keep showing up literally and figuratively.

Get started. The first email went to 24 people and half were friends & family. You...

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Who are you going to end up resenting?

Uncategorized Aug 14, 2020

Here's a soundbite of consulting advice recently dished out from my dining room.

"People aren't good guessers."

Not complex, but when digging into obstacles, this is usually at the scene of the crime.

Are you making your broker, client, prospect, or employee (or family member in our WFH world) guess what you need?

In the midst of a global pandemic? 

Pause and think about it. 

When you examine your to-do list, what do you need from another human being to make progress on that item?

How do you know that they know what behaviors and actions are required for mutual success?

"Take Action" is August's theme in the Account Executive Think Tank where graduates of the AE Academy collaborate 2x per month. We're hyper-focused on everything we can control by September 1st to be prepared for busy season.

Employee Benefits is a team sport, so preparation necessarily involves others. And no guessing.

I shared a short blog about expectations that...

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I've Never Said "It's Like Riding A Bike" In 30 Years

Uncategorized Jul 29, 2020

It went like this.

"Mom, I know what you need to work on while we're sheltering-in-place."

I braced myself. 

"It's time for you to ride a bike, Mom."

It had been 30 years since I'd ridden a bike after developing a fear of being hit by a car. 

The consequence?

I'd never ridden bikes with my kids. Ever. It was a "dad" thing.

For decades I've cringed when I heard the expression "it's like riding a bike"...

I am happy to report that I have since ridden a bike. Twice.

The husband even rewarded me with a margarita when I made it to our favorite restaurant. Success!

Guess what I didn't do to get out of my own way and out having fun? 

I didn't watch a webinar.

You don't learn (or relearn) how to ride a bike by watching a guru opine about it.

Sure, we can get tips & inspiration from others.

Eventually, we have to stop watching, studying, and planning, though.

We've got to get to the doing (and improving) to move our business...

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Why I don't think you're special and need to pivot to grow 😉

Uncategorized Jul 24, 2020

You're not that special.

Too candid?

But seriously. This year hasn't gone according to plan for anyone. Anywhere.

Your process to woo prospects and serve clients isn't so "special" that it should survive intact this year if you want to hit your goals.

I work with teams adapting to sell (and advise) virtually and see different mindsets even within the same company.

Some are pivoting faster than others. Have you?

People have business problems that you can solve. Their options?

  1. Keep an inferior provider or solution and accept the consequences
  2. Wait 6-18 months until you can take them to TGI Friday's or have a "proper" strategic planning meeting in a conference room before you solve the problem
  3. You solve their problem over Zoom

Resisting change or being a bit snarky about 2020 makes you normal.

If you hear yourself saying that your prospects/clients won't adapt, call me. 

I'll remind you that you're not that special.

Then I'll encourage you...

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Engagement Results and a Challenge

Uncategorized Jul 23, 2020
 

Who needs to hear what you have to say, but needs to hear it differently? ‍

I took my own advice to test engagement and added a video to my weekly email last week.

Same message, but a different format, with super interesting results.

Slightly fewer people opened the email...but...

3x as usual engaged & responded about what was/wasn't working for them

Most weren't even subscribers who typically open the email. 

I find that fascinating and a good reminder to make sure you've tried multiple options before throwing in the towel and proclaiming that NOTHING is working.

It doesn't matter how many emails you're "pushing out"...

Engagement is the most important metric.

The second thing on my mind is the importance of alignment with your team. You need to clarify and verify what they need you to do "more of" and "less of" to move your collective goals forward.

Make it ok for them to tell you the truth by giving some options.

This isn't about anyone being wrong...

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Improve Engagement: 3 Tips in 3 Minutes

Uncategorized Jul 13, 2020
 

Who needs to hear what you have to say but needs to hear it differently? ‍ I took my own advice to test engagement and added a video to my weekly newsletter.

Same message, but a different format, with super interesting results.

While slightly fewer people opened the email...3x as usual engaged and responded in detail about what was/wasn't working for them. Most weren't even subscribers who typically open the email.

The top question I get from brokers and benefits solutions is about connecting and engaging with potential customers.

What's the best way to get "in" with a broker?
What technique works best with a cold lead?
What's better during a pandemic? Email? Phone? LinkedIn?

Are you wrestling with this and are frustrated you're not making progress? What can you try differently this week?

3 tips to get your energy and momentum back up:

Personalize and diversify your communications
Stop guessing and pay attention to what works
Get specific about the problems you can solve

Join the fun...

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I skipped my broker's barbeque for love and margaritas

Uncategorized Jun 02, 2020

25 years ago I planned to go to a favorite broker's barbecue. A friend asked me to stop by the Union Street Fair in San Francisco on the way.

I met a guy in the margarita line and he sprung for the fancy signature glass. John and I have been together ever since.

Relationships between brokers and carrier partners take twists and turns and there are a lot of variables that go into effective partnerships. 

I've been intrigued (and encouraged) by how many brokers have been watching the replay of my latest Baffled by Brokers session. I suspect it's because they know it's hard getting the right product to the right customer at the right time. They're also curious what advice I'm doling out about them to benefits solutions. 

Missed it? Check it out here and let me know what stands out or what I've overlooked. 

Effective collaboration is more important than ever.

My advice? Stop assuming that there's one...

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