Friday, June 12, 2015

Connecting to the Soul of your Business

Photo by Chris Allen, May 2015
Every business has a soul. It's the spark of energy and light that birthed the business and sustains its growth. It's the passion that inspires its owner and employees and attracts its customers. It's the core values that connect the business with its customers and suppliers and give it purpose and life. It's the essence of its products and services that shape its place in the market and guide the creation of new products and services; keeping pace with changing customer desires and goals.

When a company loses touch with its soul, it begins to wander without understanding its core strengths; failing to hit the mark with new products or services. The spark of life that connected the businesses offerings with the soul of its customers begins to fade; leading to loss of loyalty and market share. Employees become uncertain of the company's direction and find it challenging to remain inspired about products and services that are no longer in touch with the changing desires of its customers.

The soul of your business is it's life blood, it's heart, and it's intellect all cohesively connected in a balanced whole. The soul of your business exists quietly in the background supporting the company, but its real power comes forward when the company leaders and employees connect consciously with the holistic soul of the company and are guided by its vision and purpose. All the company's creations will then embody that spirit, empowering the employees, products and services with an attractive force that prospects and customers see and feel. The company's stride is confident and nimble. If it stumbles, it regains its step with grace and humility. Such a company is responsive to its employees contributions and inspires their greater achievement. It is responsive to customer's input and follows through with action to stay current. It practices what it preaches.

The soulful business anticipates the desires of its market and customers, creating sustained value throughout its relationships. The spark of life that gave birth to the company is present in every breath of its employees and in the pulse of their actions. That spark sustains the company's growth and fuels its daily activities. It informs the core values and ensures their connection to its customers as well as the greater purpose of human life and the life of the Universe. 

Tony Hsieh, has done this very successfully in creating a culture of delivering happiness at Check out this YouTube video for more inspiration:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Sales Tips From My Camera #2 - Creative Selling

Winter Lights
My favorite photography mentor, Les Saucier begins his outdoor shooting workshops with the admonition, “We aren’t going for the trophy shot today. This is all practice.” What a simple and powerful approach to freeing us to enjoy the process and unlock creative possibilities! Les often elaborates on the point by suggesting that we ask ourselves, “What if…?”, bringing another invitation to break from old ways of seeing and explore new possibilities.

Les’ suggestions apply equally to creative selling. As with photography, the best opportunities present themselves when we free ourselves from attachment to the outcome, and focus on having fun with the process. Enjoyment is contagious, attracts others, and expands the flow of opportunities. Asking ourselves, “What if…” is a powerful way to discover new solutions to challenging sales situations.

My photo for this post was from an evening shooting with intentional camera movement (known as ICM in photography circles) at the Winter Lights display at the Asheville Arboretum a few weeks ago. Three of us, including my wife Bonnie were getting positively giddy with the experimentation, and surprise at what came out. To be sure, we had tons of misses and deletes after importing into our editing programs, but many shots produced exciting results.

Creative selling calls us to bring ourselves, our gifts and skills fully present in every moment of the sales cycle; sometimes in unique and different ways. Think about the kind of energy and tone of interaction you generate when you approach your sales with openness to the flow of energy, practicing your skills and discovering what life presents, vs. trying to drive the prospect to your next “big sale”. At the end of the day, regardless of what opportunities have surfaced, you are more likely to feel a sense of satisfaction and joy in what has been achieved.

At the very least, you will have practiced your relationship and selling skills; and learned new things from and about interacting with co-workers, prospects and customers. And if a new opportunity has surfaced, it has come with a sense of discovery and appreciation — perhaps even a sense of magic in the workings of creation.

To be sure, you will have expended energy in the direction of achieving sales success, but the process will be characterized by a sense of play and freedom rather than drudgery and fear of failure. How can one fail if we are simply practicing our art, developing our skills and opening ourselves to all possibilities of discovery? For me, engaging in life as a creative practice is one of the simplest and most powerful tools for sustained enjoyment and success in sales or any other human endeavor. Could that be a New Year's resolution?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sales Tips From My Camera #1 - Who is your customer and what do they want?

Focus on Martin
The main character in these photos is my 1-year old grandson Martin, standing at the coffee table intently focused on his favorite talking train -- “chugga chugga choo choo, carry cargo, here we go...” and an entire repertoire of audio clips to entertain a child. 

I spent close to 30 minutes observing and photographing Martin as he played with the train. He was a fantastic subject, never self conscious about the camera or my moving around to get the right angle, depth of field or exposure.

I really had to pay attention to Martin’s constant motion, his expressions, the play of light from windows and tungsten lights in the room, where he was focused, and how he was connecting with the train - just to mention a few of the factors that were in my mind in hopes of creating compelling images that would convey his intense but quiet focus.

Focus on Train
Are the parallels for sales people and entrepreneurs coming into focus from my camera experience with Martin? 

Here are just a few that came to my mind as I reflected on the experience and processing my favorite images from the session:
  • Be fully present to observe, listen to and connect with your prospect (Focus on Martin)
  • Understand what he or she wants in their life experience (Focus on Train)
  • Explore how your product or service can enrich their experience (Martin wants to see that train take off!)

Did I mention that these are basic but often forgotten sales skills? Think about how often you’ve been a retail customer for example, and the sales clerk just cannot seem to connect with you, seeming distracted or even worse - disinterested. 

At one time or another, every sales person or entrepreneur may feel uncomfortable selling their product or service, but you can overcome or even bypass many hurdles in the sales journey just by being fully present to your prospect, discovering what’s truly important to them, and exploring (make it a collaboration with your prospect) how you can enrich their life experience in specific ways. 

And don’t forget, you have to come out of the process with a compelling message that communicates on an emotional level. Hopefully my photos of Martin achieve that objective.

Make your sales journey a FUN experience -- chugga chugga choo choo, carry cargo, here we go!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What is your why?

Photo by Chris Allen
Do you know why you're selling?
and why you're selling 
what you're selling?

Could it be just an excuse to connect?
to connect with the bigger
Presence of who you are
in the guise of your customer?

What if the selling game
and its myriad of trappings
its libraries of pontifications
and prognostications

Its endless arrays of techniques
and, God forbid, the scripts
that guarantee unlimited success...

What if the entire galaxy of
sales and selling practices
were simply another of Life's ways
to express its wonder of Being

Its utter amazement at discovering its own expression
in the emotions, the dreams, the losses and wins
of you the salesman, and you the customer?