Voice mail best practices for the global leader May 7, 2009Posted by rickbron in Communication, Global communication, Global leadership, Grow your skills, Leading globally.
Tags: best practices, Global communication, voice mail best practices
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The next communications technology we will examine is voice mail. The Big Dogz know to use voice mail when the content is simple and we want to impart some interpersonal component like tone to communicate not just the information, but perhaps a sense of urgency with tone.
Here are some best practices around leaving voice mail:
- Plan your call
Most of the time when we call people, we get voice mail. When leaving a voice mail, you want to sound professional. Before you make that call, sketch out what you will say. I recommend you actually practice your message before making the call. Once you get voicemail, you have a short outline and will leave a professional sounding voice mail. If you get the person, you now have an outline of the discussion.
- Always leave your name and number even if this is a person you leave voice mail on a daily basis.
- Keep your messages short
- If you want the person to take action, give them enough information so they do not need to call you
- If you can not leave a short message, leave a message for them to call you.
- Speak in a pleasant voice; smiling can make a big difference.
- Speak slowly and clearly; having to replay voice mails to understand you is irritating!
- When you are leaving important information, lead with “Here is the information about the new client.” Then pause to allow the person to get something to capture the information.
- Some voice mail systems will let you replay the message you want to leave. If you are fortunate to encounter this feature, by all means use it. Sometimes we are not aware of the message our tone or language is sending. If your message is not what you want to send, erase it and leave a different message.
Here are some tips for your voice mail greeting:
- Keep your greeting short, simple and informative
- Include your name or function.
- Let the caller know that if you are out of the office , who they should call
- Let the caller know when you will return calls. I will get back to you as soon as possible is not as effective as I will return your call within one business day.
- Some people advise updating your voicemail message daily. I recommend a general greeting that applies everyday. There is an advantage to updating your message every day because it lets people know you are at business that day. Consider the options and choose what works for you.
- If your voice mail technology permits it, give the caller an early opportunity to skip to the beep.
Finally, some tips about processing voice mail:
- Set aside a specific time each day to empty your voice mail
- Take advantage of technology that will send you an email alert when you get a voice mail
- Having a voice mail inbox that is full, really irritates someone trying to reach you
E-mail best practices for the global leader April 22, 2009Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Communication, Global communication, Global leadership, Grow your skills, Leading globally.
Tags: best practices, communicate by email, effective email, email, email best practice, global communications, Global leadership, using email, using technology to communicatye
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The Big Dogz match their choice of communication technology to the degree of interpersonal interaction required coupled with complexity of the topic. I discussed the technology choices in my last entry. This entry looks at some best practices for using E-mail.
· Keep it short, no more that 1 scroll for the receiver. If you need more than that, it is probably too complex to use e-mail. Try a phone call instead.
· Try putting your entire message on the subject line.
· Use tags on the subject line.
Action: when you want the recipient to take action
Response: when you are responding to a request from the recipient
FYI (H,M,L): when you are just giving information to the recipient
It is amazing. When you start using these tags to send email to others, they will start using the same tags with you.
· Use the subject line to get the attention of the reader without being melodramatic.
· Consider the guideline “One e-mail, one topic.” It makes it easier for the recipient to focus.
· If you are asking for information, leave a space between each request. The recipient can put the answer in the space. Make it easy for them to respond.
· Use shared websites for large files. Sending large attachments clog the network. Just include the link.
· Forget the background scenery. It just irritates most people.
· Never send an email when you are emotional! Write your response and store it in the Draft folder for later reading. Once you have calmed down, read the email from the perspective of the receiver. A good technique is to read the e-mail aloud to make sure it is not threatening. In more sensitive situations, have a colleague read the e-mail and give you feedback. Make changes and then send.
· Using caps, colors and other fonts can help the recipient focus on what is important. Be careful of over doing it.
· If you are seeking information, use pre-defined forms to make it easy for the recipient to give you the information.
· Run spell check. Look for other non-spelling errors like the use of form when you mean from.
· Use cc and bcc sparingly. Make sure every person cc’d needs to be aware of the information. If you are using bcc too much, it may be a sign that you need to talk to the person.
· Use “Reply all” only when everyone needs to see your response.
· Stay out of flame wars. If you are the target, use the telephone to handle the situation.
· If you send two emails on the same subject and the recipient still does not understand, make an appointment to talk to them
· Using sarcasm in an e-mail will always get you into trouble. Sometimes we feel we are being cute with sarcasm, but the recipient does not think we are being sarcastic. They think we really mean it.
· Never put anything in an e-mail that you would not want read in a court of law. For some of us, this also means never put anything in an email that you would not read in front of your mother!
I have special tip I want to share for those who communicate with people who have English as a second language. Try to keep your vocabulary and content at the eighth grade level or lower. For those of you in the USA and most of Europe, this means 13-14 year olds. Now, the vocabulary of a native English speaking 13-14 year old is very impressive. I am not suggesting you speak like a 13-14 year old; just use that level vocabulary. Here is how you can check the grade level of your e-mail to your global team members with ESL.
1. Copy your e-mail and paste it into Word.
2. Click on Tools
3. Click Options
4. Click Spelling & Grammar
5. Click the box next to Show Readability Statistics
6. Click OK
7. Run spell check
At the end of the spell check, you will get a report of the readability level of the content. If you copy and paste this entry into Word, you will see I have written it at grade level 6.2.
To customize your readability to each global team member, run the readability statistics report for e-mails they send to you. You can improve the effectiveness your e-mail by using English at the same readability level.
If you have any tips or techniques for communicating more effectively using e-mail, please send me an e-mail (email@example.com) with your tip.
Next, I will be looking at some best practices for communicating with voice mail.
Improving Your Memory April 2, 2009Posted by David Dirks in Fixing performance problems, Grow your skills, Work/Life Balance.
Tags: business memory, improving memory, memory, memory fitness
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As I scanned my emails today, I found this piece on improving your memory. I could use that as I’m sometimes moving as fast as the speed of light and invariably I’ll forget something along the way. Sometimes its a small thing and sometimes it’s something more significant. So when I caught this, I thought I’d pass it on to you too. It’s provided by neuroscience researcher Mark Underwood.
Suffering from C.R.S. (Can’t Remember Stuff)?
5 Tips for Memory Fitness
While millions of us have resolved to make 2009 the year for getting our bodies into better shape, an expert on neurological fitness suggests we also make this the year to get our minds into tip-top condition.
“With Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases now starting to affect adults in their 30’s, it’s never too early to begin a simple program geared to maintain brain health and stimulate cognitive function,” says neuroscience researcher Mark Underwood.
Underwood says many researchers now believe brain health and memory can be positively influenced by simple things we can do physically, mentally, and nutritionally:
1. Stay physically active. Regular activity, not necessarily planned exercise, seems to relate to brain fitness. Activities like gardening, dancing and cleaning could increase chances of maintaining brain health.
2. Challenge your brain. Calculate, do word search games and crossword puzzles, and go to lectures, concerts and museums. Learn a foreign language or how to play a musical instrument.
3. Stay socially active. People who are active in clubs and social networks may hold up better cognitively than those who are less socially active.
4. Feed your brain. The brain and nervous system are comprised of 60 percent fat, so ensure your diet is rich in the Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in coldwater fish, fish oil, and flax oil. Google “brain foods” on the computer and try a few.
5. Lower brain calcium levels with supplements. Proper levels of calcium within the neurons are required for optimum brain function. As we reach middle age, brain calcium levels begin to rise because our bodies stop producing a protein responsible for regulating calcium concentration within the cells.
“Too much calcium in a neuron will ‘short circuit’ it and it stops working,” says Underwood.
“When millions and millions of neurons become over-calcified and stop working, an individual can feel blank, forgetful, slow-witted, and begin to experience symptoms sometimes associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”
ABOUT MARK UNDERWOOD
Mark Underwood is neuroscience researcher and co-founder and president of Quincy Bioscience in Madison, Wisconsin. Mark is responsible for researching the “calcium binding protein” found in jellyfish and developing it for use as a calcium regulator in the human nervous system. He is the author of the book “Gift from the Sea.”
Sales down? Invest in Your Sales Teams January 13, 2009Posted by David Dirks in Grow your skills, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
Tags: beating a recession, recession sales strategy, sales, sales development, sales training, training
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Another knee-jerk reaction to slower sales and revenues: cutting back on sales training. Cutting into the training investment you make to enhance skills and intellectual capital of your primary weapon for sales revenue is business suicide. When times are ‘good’ (yesterday), sales seem far easier to bring in than they are when times are ‘bad’ (today). When the money is flowing in and the business is riding along, investment in things like sales training doesn’t make anyone bat an eye. That all ends when things get tight. Then it’s cut, cut, cut.
I’m not advocating sales training for the sake of just training. You can spend a lot of money on sales training and get very little bang for your buck. The key to sales training effectiveness isn’t how much you spend. It’s more about what you focus your on and how consistently you do it. One-shot sales training is a losing proposition for you and your sales team.
When does your sales team need training the most? Two answers: 1) they need it on a consistent basis with enough frequency to help keep them focused on skill building and keep them learning. 2) THEY ESPECIALLY NEED IT NOW MORE THAN EVER. When the economy cycles down as dramatically as it has during the last few quarters, it can absolutely frustrate and drain the energy from the best of sales professionals. You cannot let that happen.
What do sales professionals need right now? They need an infusion of new ideas/tactics/strategies. They crave some fresh thinking. They desire sales leadership that will keep the ball moving and facilitate the kind of learning draws fresh life into the sales cycle. You don’t do that by cutting back on time and resources dedicated to sales development.
Remember, right now they are worried about the economy, their jobs, their houses, paying for kids college, and the fall their 401k just took. Do you think they just arrive at your business all fresh and ready to go? In times like these sales teams can wear down before they even get started. Then enter the crunch of falling behind on sales that used to come to fruition in a regular basis. Here are a few ways to insure you give your sales professionals the care they need to sustain themselves and win in the market place for your business.
- Make sure you have a good inventory of the skill levels of each person on your sales team. Match their skills against the sales cycle for your business and take measure of how well each person performs along each stage of the sales cycle. The idea is to create a list of sales skills that are matched to your sales cycle and can be the focus of a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly training plan.
- Focus your training efforts on sales strategies and tactics that solve current sales challenges. Ask your sales team(s) where they are experiencing the most problems along the sales cycle. Map the sales cycle out from raw lead to closed sale and make sure that time is spent on brainstorming ways to overcome any challenges in the sales cycle.
- Hold people accountable for learning. Some people are self-motivated and directed to learning. Some just need a little leading and prodding to move along. Others just sit there like a load of sand and contribute nothing to their own sales skills and intellectual capital. Those folks need to go. My bet is that those in that latter category are probably the bottom performers in your business. Get rid of them. Sales is a motivational business and you need people who are motivated to both sell and continually learn.
My definition of both sales and marketing success is when you can truly differentiate your business from your competition. This is in the context of being framed in the mind of your customer and potential customer as a business that provides more than just products and services. You can’t do that if you sales efforts are just as bad as the rest. Making a consistent investment in your sales development efforts will differentiate you from your competition. How do I know that? Trust me. I buy products and services all the time and it always amazes me at just how lousy most sales efforts are across the board in businesses both large and small.
And that my friend, is your opportunity.
I don’t know it all…and I’m so thankful for that! March 18, 2008Posted by David Dirks in Confidence, Creativity, Grow your skills, Solving Business Problems.
Tags: business education, continual learning, success
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Anyone who believes they have arrived and know it all, are just about DOA in my book. I don’t what your age is, you can always learn, do, read, think, and ask more about anything in life. Pity the people, and you probably know more than a few, who just can’t seem to invest anything into their business life that would give them an edge. The Big Dogz, at least the majority of them, invests in making themselves even sharper on the business edge.
Taking some time each week to read, watch, or study about some dimension of your business world is key to your long-term survival. Want to learn how to deal with a recession successfully? Then find out what the Big Dogz do to succeed in tough economic times.
I read a lot. In between career and kids, I read everything I can get my hands on. Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time readying books on leadership and innovation. These are two topics that I’m investing more time in understanding and learning about. Why? Because I’m interested in them and, while I know a lot about them, I don’t know it all. Not even close. So, while I do my morning commute, I’m listening to audio books on those subjects. Thank goodness for Audible.com!
To stay on top of the latest marketing and sales trends, I read a lot of business magazines. I relish the opportunity because invariably, I’ll get some fresh insights into these subject areas. Ideas begin to pop up as I move along. It’s my SONY digital recorder that captures certain ideas/concepts as they come along in my reading time. Capturing thoughts and ideas has become a necessity; otherwise I’d lose most of those thoughts to memory loss of some kind!
Workshops or seminars are another great way I learn and invest in myself. It’s an opportunity to get out of the business mayhem and into a learning environment. Exchanging ideas with those who take those courses are invaluable to me.
What topic could you pick that if you invested some time for yourself to learn more about, would help enrich your overall business experience and success? If you can’t answer that question, you have other problems.
Find the time, no matter how small in amount, that each week you can call your own. Life is too short to have called it ‘quits’ on learning. When you finally check out of this world, you can stop learning (at least here). Until then, get going and get learning.
Grow your skills February 29, 2008Posted by rickbron in Grow your skills, Uncategorized.
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- Read a book a month on management or leadership.
- Listen to CD’s or watch DVD’s about management topics.
- Associate with successful people.
Read a book a month. I can hear your response — I do not have the time to read a book a month. Once you make it a priority, you will. If you can not find the time to read a book a month, subscribe to an executive summary service. There are plenty out there, just Google “Book summary service”. Most of them will let you try their service for free. Try them until you find the one you like. Once you get your summaries, be selective on what books you read. Here is a tip to help you decide if a book is worth finishing. When you get the book, place a bookmark at the halfway mark. Now as you read the book, make notations on new things you are learning, especially new techniques you can use to improve your management ability. If you reach the original bookmark and you do not have at least five entries in your log, don’t finish the book. You can save a lot of time using this approach. Yes, you may miss some good suggestions, but you will be getting a high return on your time investment. Create a book club where you and others read a book then share what you thought was important from the book.
Listen to CD’s or watch DVD’s about management topics. Use your commute time to listen to CD’s. Try to focus on motivational speakers since it is not a good practice to take notes while driving! Not all your CD’s need to be motivational. Some speakers are quite specific in what they prescribe as effective actions. With CD’s, you may need to listen to the speaker multiple times to get the message. Listening to motivational speakers can make a big difference in your effectiveness.
Associate with successful people. Is there an AMA (American Management Association) chapter near you? If yes, join and attend networking events. If there is no AMA, then look for local business associations that sponsor networking events. One of the best ways to make sure you are associating with successful people is to create your own group. Meet once a month or once a quarter to swap best practices in management.
The Big Dogz pay attention to these three elements of the strategy. They include others in their development and harvest ideas to improve. You can do the same thing. Start today by identifying a book you want to read. Order it. Ask around for suggestions on motivational speakers. People who have these CD’s will be happy to lend them to you if you are prompt in returning them. If you like a CD, buy it. Start looking for people to associate with. Soon, you will be running with the Big Dogz!