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Maset News

Volume 55  October 19, 2005

Introduction
Message From Charles Loew
Comments From Our Readers
New On The Maset Web Site
Tips for New Employee Integration
Tips from Our School for Managers
One Liners
Feature Of This Issue
Second Feature Of This Issue
Third Feature Of This Issue
Fourth Feature Of This Issue
Coming in the Next Few Issues
Housekeeping

INTRODUCTION:

Welcome to MASET News. A monthly publication dedicated to the communication between MASET and our many interested friends, customers and potential customers

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MESSAGE FROM CHARLES LOEW:

  • Our feature article this month is written by Diane Prange, one of our own associates. Diane addresses the concepts surrounding empowerment and the results that can be attained. Some of the areas Diane highlights include why one should embark on empowerment, what is meant by empowerment and finally, how an organization would go about creating an empowered culture. Please share with us your successes and failures in implementing an Empowered Culture. Send your comments to Charles.Loew@masetllc.com.
  • "Maximizing Presentations, Three Screens at a Time" by Rochelle Rucker, discusses a new innovation that helps people absorb more information faster and allows the presenter to communicate more effectively with their audience. Since many of our readers are involved in one way or another in presenting information to others, you may find this article especially interesting,
  • This month Jim Bracher addresses the question; "You write that leaders need integrity, but what about employees?" This is a very interesting question and really cuts directly through to the culture of an organization. Lately we have read a great deal about the leaders of Tyco, Enron, WorldCom and many more. If integrity was prevalent throughout all the employees within these organizations, the leadership could not have succeeded in ruining those organizations and the lives of thousands of employees, suppliers and stockholders. Enjoy this very insightful article.
  • The fourth article, "Exceptional Selling: The Mything Link" by Linda Stimac, speaks of the myths that many sales professionals create to justify the way they and their customers behave. A personal example of a myth that caused a sales person to loose a $ 30,000 plus sale happened to Genevieve and me. We had an 12 year old Honda Civic and drove into a Toyota new car lot and asked to see the top of the line Toyota models. The sales person looked at our car and said "that is not the vehicle for you" and proceeded to show us a less expensive model. We tried three times to see the high end model without success. We left that lot and proceeded to look at Lexus, Infinity, Acura, BMW, Cadillac and Audis. Our final choice was an Acura. The myth that the sales person had about us was that we really could not afford a high end car. Enjoy the article.

COMMENTS FROM OUR READERS:

"Maset News is clear, easy to navigate and substantive. Finding solutions, including wisdom and application, is as close as clicking onto www.masetllc.com. Charles Loew has brought together, under one very sophisticated roof, Maset, LLC:
  1. Talented individuals with proven track records
  2. Thoughtful and practical essays regarding important issues being confronted by twenty-first century business people.
  3. An "easy to contact" tool, his www.masetllc.com website, for connecting with those who can bring solutions, in real time, to critical issues and challenges that must be addressed. Maset News and the organization that supports it is a virtual consultancy, with intensity, sensitivity, follow-through and integrity. Maset is about quality and professionalism, in word and service
" - California

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NEW ON THE MASET WEB SITE:

There has been a lot of activity this month, but we just missed the deadline for adding it to the web site. We should have several new things added in November.

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Tips for New Employee Integration
Provided by Orientation Passport

TIP 13: Celebrate the New Hire Joining Your Organization
Provide a cake and candles on the first morning to celebrate their joining the "family", "group" or "team".

TIP 14: Integration: Tools to Make Them Part of the Team
Pre-schedule a series of "No cancel" meetings with the boss and key team members during the first month.

Visit the Products and Services describing the Orientation Passport

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Tips from Our School for Managers
- by Andrew E. Schwartz

GOAL SETTING: - ARE MANAGEMENT'S GOALS ATTAINABLE?

Make sure desired levels of performance are reachable when determining employee goals. The point at which levels of performance are rewarded must be attainable by each employee. If employees feel that the level of performance required to get a reward is higher than they can reasonably achieve, their motivation to perform well will be relatively low.

Copyright A.E. Schwartz & Associates, all rights reserved
For more information: Charles.Loew@masetllc.com

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ONE LINERS - "To make you think and/or smile"

  • An expert is someone who takes a subject you understand and makes it sound confusing.
  • A helping hand is sometimes the best present of all.

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FEATURE OF THIS ISSUE:


Empowerment - The best way to become a World Class Organization
By Diane Prange

Empowerment is often citied as a critical component of any successful customer satisfaction/delight, process and/or quality improvement initiative. The rewards of empowerment are touted as enhanced effectiveness and business performance. The empowerment of Japanese workers to stop a line without authorization is legendary. Why Empowerment?

Any company that cannot produce at a lower cost, with better quality, and at a faster pace than its global competitors may soon be out of business. At the level of team members, the result will be loss of jobs, with more work piled on those who are left behind. Leaders will feel the stress of producing more with fewer people and with a wider span of control. It is for these very reasons that the traditional management model of "the manager in control and the employees being controlled" does not work. What every leader is seeking is solutions to make his or her job - achieving results with fewer resources - easier. At the same time, team members are searching for job security, ownership, and a renewed sense of pride in their work. What is Empowerment?

Let's first spend some time understanding what the word empowerment means. Unfortunately, there are almost as many different definitions of empowerment as there are initiatives. Perhaps the most basic definition of empowerment is "the process of involving employees in their work." Utilizing this simple definition, many organizations argue that their workforce is already empowered. Their employees often do not agree, and the argument centers on the term "involved" and the level of this involvement.

If an organization wants to achieve the competitive advantage of empowerment, utilizing this simple definition will not accomplish that goal. A more complex and concise definition of empowerment is "the process which supports and encourages employees to fully utilize their skills, abilities and creativity to accept ownership and accountability for their job/project."

Empowerment can assist any leader (willing to make some key changes) tap into the knowledge, skills, experience and motivation of every person in the company. Leaders who empower people are placing additional responsibility for the results on the team members. That is correct: empowerment is not soft management. But even though it places high expectations on people, team members embrace empowerment because it leads to the joys of involvement, ownership, and growth. Unfortunately, too few leaders and team members understand how to create a culture of empowerment. The real essence of empowerment comes from releasing the knowledge, experience, and motivational power that is already in people but is being severely underutilized.

Reality is a successful implementation of an empowerment initiative requires both cultural and organizational changes which are far reaching - and therefore painful.

Creating an Empowered Culture

Share Information

If we want people on the front lines of companies to be responsible for making good business decisions, they must have the same information that managers use to make good business decision. People without information cannot make good business decisions, nor are they motivated to risk making decisions in such a void. On the other hand, people with information are almost compelled to take the risk of making business decisions to the best of their abilities.

If we want people to take the risk of being accountable in making important decisions, they must feel they can trust management and the organizational systems. What we have learned from experience is that sharing information is one of the most effective and simplest ways to kick start the enhancement of trust. If a leader is willing to share the power that information represents, people hear - more clearly than any words can express - that this leader is reducing the barriers and including people into the circle of influence and involvement.

Another factor that pushes information sharing to the forefront of the journey to empowerment is the need people have for direction, both individually and in teams, during the early stage of the change process. Most people start the empowerment journey as enthusiastic beginners. They need a leadership style with high direction, and if they do not get it, they must feel safe enough to ask for the information and direction they need to start moving down the road to empowerment.

In any organizational change effort, people initially have a variety of information concerns that need to be addressed. Information sharing at this time will help people answer these kinds of questions:

  • What is the change and why is it needed?
  • What is wrong with the current situation in our company?
  • What exactly needs to be changed, and what outcomes must be expected?
  • How much do we need to change and how fast must we change?

Addressing the information concerns that people have during this first stage of change can provide them with the direction they need to focus their energy in positive ways. Particularly, this focusing leadership style should help people understand the desired outcomes and provide them with an image of what things would look like if a culture of empowerment was realized.

Information sharing helps people understand the need for change. And when people understand the need for change, they develop willingness that helps drive the process. Information sharing is the key tool to drive continuous improvement. In an empowered company, people want the ongoing challenge of getting better and better at their work. They recognize that continuous improvement is the means for keeping the company healthy and competitive. But they also recognize that it is the means for success, satisfaction and fulfillment in their jobs and careers. Information sharing is, quite simply, the lifeblood of an empowered organization. Without it, a company can never become or say fully empowered.

Create Autonomy by Setting Clear Boundaries

It is important to recognize the need to provide boundaries for acting in a culture of empowerment. Most people have an initial excitement about empowerment and the expectation to use good judgment, but they do not fully understand what that will mean or what to do. High levels of frustration and or apathy will quickly follow initial reactions if there are no boundaries that provide direction for acting in a culture of empowerment.

The boundaries of empowerment and boundaries of hierarchy must be clear. Boundaries that exist within a hierarchy and with which most people are familiar tell people what they cannot do. In other words, these boundaries constrain behavior.

Essentially there are two categories of decisions to focus on at first; strategic directions and operational decisions. It needs to be made clear that strategic decisions will continue to be made by senior leadership. Senior leaders will decide what markets to serve, what products or services to provide, profit margins and prices, the mix of products or services, the financing arrangements and so on. What team members will decide are operational matters, focusing initially on less complex and involved decisions but gradually moving toward more complex and involved decisions.

Over time, the boundaries should be widened to create more autonomy and responsibility. Goals need to be SMART (Specific, Motivational, Attainable, Relevant and Trackable). Help teams and their leaders use information that has been shared - and is being shared - more regularly to define areas for continuous, ongoing improvement. By focusing on continuous improvement, rather than momentous improvements, teams and their leaders will experience a feeling of progress toward getting results and feeling empowered.

To get good teamwork, expect it, measure it and reward it. Then let the teams assess the performance of their individual members. As the team becomes empowered, boundaries need to be incorporated into everyone's value system.

Position Teams to Replace the Hierarchy

Information sharing sets the stage for change, while boundaries provide the framework for acting with autonomy. What is missing, to truly get the journey going, is a mechanism that uses human interaction to provide the direction and support needed to best use and develop the talents that people have and will acquire. Self-directed teams provide the vehicle for this missing human interaction.

Empowered teams can do far more than empowered individuals. Teams are crucial to empowerment because they bring a diversity of ideas and experience to bear on the complex problems that organizations face in the competitive and changing world of business. Collectively, the team of people knows far more than any individual on the team. Furthermore, teams can implement complicated solutions to problems, as in the outdoor challenge activities for team building, where a team of people can carry a heavy load, move their members over a barrier, or provide assistance for everyone in getting through a difficult experience.

The power of teams can be truly amazing, but until teams have had the time to develop through the early stages of Orientation and Dissatisfaction, they will not be that effective. Just like a sports team or a ballet corps, it takes practice together to learn how to perform as a team and to gain a clear understanding of each other's roles. As long as you do not expect immediate miracles with teams and do make the time for training and practice, teams will become a powerful source of direction and support for all members of the organization.

By setting team goals that tie directly to company and site goals, teams can be held accountable for contributing to company performance. Team-based goals need to become more and more common in the organization. Begin using team-based evaluations and rewards as part of the review step of the performance management system. Be sure that the evaluation/review step of the process is a validation of what has been occurring throughout the performance cycle. The teams should not be receiving new information at the time of the review. Now, all this is not to say that individual goals and evaluations are not to be used, but a greater emphasis needs to be of team goals and evaluations if we expect teams to become empowered.

A valuable systems change is to reduce the number of departmental and staff meetings and to substitute team meetings in their place. If teams are to be held accountable for results, they will need off-line time to work together to identify problems and opportunities for improvement and to develop their skills for working together as an empowerment team.

One of the most debilitating problems teams can encounter in the valley of discouragement is a nagging fear of failure. When the inevitable snags are encountered, it is quite natural for team members to place blame for their difficulties on their team leaders and on senior leadership. Team leaders can help the teams understand that this fear of failure is a natural occurrence along the journey to empowerment.

Teams will not yet be capable of performing at high levels of team efficiency. They have to develop some of the skills of teamwork -- group communication skills, information sharing and some problem identification skills. But they still need to further develop the skills that lead to synergistic performance, such as reaching and supporting consensus decisions, sharing leadership, resolving conflicts among team members, and effective group listening. The lack of these skills will inhibit the teams in their ability to function.

Use simulations, as well as real world problems, to help team members and team leaders appreciate the power of empowered teams. Reinforcement with success is a powerful motivator for further development of teams. Team leaders must continually seek opportunities to catch teams doing things well as a team and to then deliver positive feedback, which will be a powerful motivator for the team and its development.

With information and clear boundaries, the self-directed teams will be able to identify problem areas or potential problem areas and initiate plans for resolving the problems.

Teams will begin to hold themselves accountable for understanding company strategic goals, tracking the same information that senior leadership tracks relative to the strategic goals of the business and setting team goals that link to the accomplishment of strategic goals. Teams should even begin interpreting information and offering suggestions to leadership.

In support of this responsibility, senior leadership should make it clear that the tams are expected to take on this more analytical and strategic activity. Additionally, it is time for the teams to embrace the responsibility for innovation and new ideas that reduce cost, increase quality, increase productivity, improve customer service, or enhance flexibility. In other words, the self-directed teams should now become responsible "leaders" of key business outcomes.

Teams must be encouraged to extend their range of influence. No doubt some teams will move more quickly toward empowerment than others. By reaching out to other teams, they can positively influence the other teams to continue their journey to empowerment. By spreading word of their success, self-directed teams can demonstrate to the company how an empowered team can have positive results and also be an exciting place to be involved.

The self-directed teams should be called upon by the senior leadership to cross train members within their teams in order to expand the overall team ability and to keep people on the teams excited by growing. The more everyone on each team can perform all the functions on the team, the better prepared the team will be. And one of the greatest rewards, individual team members can receive in an empowered company is the opportunity to develop the use of new skills.

The teams must be encouraged to share their knowledge and experience with each other, thus reducing their range of diversity as people learn from each other. At the same time, the teams through exposure to new problems and in concert with the different learning styles and experiences of their members will develop new diversities that allow the cycle to begin again. Members of these teams will find that through their involvement in this process, they are rewarded in way that far exceeds any financial reward.

Information should be flowing smoothly between teams and leaders, as well as among the teams. In addition, there should be clarity of perspective flowing from an agreed-upon vision and set of values. With the teams functioning as a relatively high level of empowerment, what remains is the final cementing of a partnership between teams and senior leadership, as the teams replace the hierarchy with a relationship of effort and responsibility. Now the focus should expand to include strategic issues as well as business innovation. The empowered teams will have the information, perspective, and knowledge to offer suggestions regarding new strategic directions for the company.

The self-directed teams should be encouraged to continue to raise the bar of performance standards in order to stay ahead of competitors in other companies.

Fully incorporate rewards, bonuses, profit sharing, and stock options (where possible) into the performance management system for the teams and their members. Of course, this means that leadership and the teams must share in the opportunity to benefit from improvements in the company's performance and in the risk associated with problems in company performance. The most promising way to achieve this level of direct responsibility is through stock plans and incentive schemes that allow for both positive and negative bonuses that are tied to company or site performance. The most progressive empowerment companies have pay plans that are comprised of an individual component, a team component, a site or department component, and a company component. And while there is a wide variety of means for achieving this combination, and a wide variety of weightings that can work, one common theme is reward and risk. When the company does well, all the partners (leadership, team leaders and team members) benefit, and when the company does not do well, all the partners suffer together. The result is a very powerful partnership based upon mutual interests and concerns.

SECOND FEATURE OF THIS ISSUE:


Maximizing presentations, three screens at a time
By Rochelle Rucker

For many presenters, there's nothing more frightening, daunting, or perplexing as making a successful presentation to a room full of people. Some concern themselves with how the presentation is worded, others wonder if they're boring the audience.

One thing is for sure; today's information-overloaded consumer is bombarded with too much TV, news radio and e-mail. So it's no wonder that viewing numerous PowerPoint® slides, one-by-one, makes it difficult for people to synthesize and remember content.

But it doesn't have to be this way! TriZenter, LLC, a Louisville, KY based company, developed a new presentation system using multiple screens (three) that segregate information based on the Instructional Geography TM methodology for presenting information. This methodology maximizes the geography of the room and the learner's brain with embedded visual, audio and spatial cues for maximum impact.

"Information should be presented in such a way that it maximizes the learner's field of vision," explains Stephen Krempl, creator of Instructional Geography. TM

"Why lose 2/3 of the viewing space by using only one screen? The secret is to maximize the 61º viewing angle in front of the audience. This helps to increase retention and recall of your message. Applications identified include conferences, meetings, legal presentations, sales presentations and education."

All Systems Go

Ed Skarbek, chief operating officer (COO) of TriZenter, LLC. states, "We have taken the Instructional Geography™ concept and created the first new presentation system since PowerPoint®, allowing users to maximize interest, retention, and recall of information with any audience. A blend of educational equipment and methodology, the equipment/software produces three independent screen outputs in any combination (i.e. PowerPoint® slides, video clips, ticker tapes, flash images, live internet and/or programs)."

Three Screens Are Better Than One

The development of Instructional GeographyTM is a watershed event in the advancement of educational methodology and technology by focusing on three principles:

  1. The learner's visual space is more fully utilized.
  2. The mind needs visual, auditory, and spatial cues to aid understanding and retention.
  3. The brain absorbs information best when it is presented in rationally structured, bite-sized chunks.

Two benefits accrue immediately from using the TriZenter presentation system: First, when the brain synthesizes data presented as a whole picture, it is easier to remember. The brain naturally seeks to link or correlate bits of data in order to remember them more efficiently. If data bits are presented one slide at a time (as in a conventional slide show), they may never be linked in the learner's mind because they aren't viewed simultaneously.

And second, Instructional Geography TM maximizes not only the geography of the learner's brain, but also the geography of the physical room or presentation site. A person consciously focused on a single screen sees only about 20 percent of the available space. By using three screens, filling 61 percent of the available space, the audience subconsciously acquires and stores two to three times more data from their peripheral vision. Projecting 200 percent more information automatically takes unconscious advantage of the visual space in front of the learner.

"The product is a very powerful addition to the marketplace," says Sid Jacobson who lives in Metairie, La., and is director of South Central Institute of Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (NLP) and Sid Jacobson Associates. According to NLP, people tend naturally to sort out different information by (usually unconsciously) placing different kinds of information and experiences in different locations in their imagination.

"People will, quite literally, catalog ideas they agree with to one portion of the brain and ideas they disagree with to the other," Jacobson said. "This is a naturally occurring phenomenon."

TriZenter allows for the conversion of traditional PowerPoint® presentation slides into a multi-dimensional experience. The product can display three simultaneous PowerPoint® slides, or many other simultaneous media combinations, thereby, increasing the amount of information the audience retains. The TriZenter process, for example, can display:

  • PowerPoint® text on one screen highlighting key points of a video
  • Video on a second screen
  • An actual demonstration of the featured product on the third screen

Creating a Holistic Environment

Educational institutions and corporations have started to use TriZenter to create and deliver more effective learning. In January 2003, Instructional Geography first learned how beneficial TriZenter can be to teachers and instructors when Raffles Girls Secondary School in Singapore utilized the instructional methodology in their Cyber Learning Centre. Twenty teachers took courses on how to use the technology and instructional methodology to deliver more dynamic and interesting lessons which better engage their students in their learning process.

Accommodating Learning Lifestyles

Orrin Kolberg, an advertising executive in Tomahawk, Wis., makes frequent sales and training presentations to clients. He says TriZenter revolutionized the way he conducts presentations.

"When I used to show people on a (single screen) how Medicare Part A covers the hospital, then clicked to show how Part B covers doctor and outpatient service, they used to ask 'what does Part A cover again?'" Kolberg said. "I had to back track the slides. Now they have three screens to view. I have a 'flow' of information my clients can follow and relate back to if needed. Now they see the whole picture."

At the TechKnowledge Conference in Orlando, Fla., in 2003, and at several American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) chapter meetings, in 2004, an earlier version of TriZenter was unveiled. It showed how in a 45-minute presentation-after 117 slides-the audience could still remember the five key points of the presentation. The presenter also showed, how during the presentation, up to three live Web sites were accessed with a click of the remote.

"A major issue on the minds of many technical training presenters focused on the need to be able to show new and old versions of the application, simultaneously," Skarbek said. "The newest features in TriZenter include a ticker tape (crawl) that can run across all three screens to reinforce key messages. These additions focus normally wandering attention spans of the audience back to the subject matter. They also eliminate the low retention, poor data recall, and the need to provide more current information by allowing real-time access to the World Wide Web."

"This system does all of these effortlessly," continues Skarbek. "The Orlando presentation demonstrated how the system solves problems by integrating technology, adult learning, and neurosciences into a holistic methodology."

The Information Age has bombarded more information to mankind than it can possibly absorb. However, the most effective information during presentations relies on comparisons and is best achieved by seeing two or three pieces of related information - new, old, and future - all side-by-side. Keeping comparisons in front of the viewer, all at the same time, makes understanding and decision making much easier, faster and more complete.

For more information on this product contact us at Charles.Loew@masetllc.com

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Integrity Matters Broadcast
"Workers require integrity as well"

By James F. Bracher

Question:

You write that leaders need integrity, but what about employees?

Response:

Integrity matters regardless of one's responsibilities. Leaders are important, but without integrity-centered followers, organizations cannot be effective. Organizations need committed followers who think, are self starters, carry out duties with energy and assertiveness, take risks and solve problems independently. Do you and the leaders of your organization proudly and energetically recognize and promote valuable, integrity-centered followers?

Almost twenty years ago, Robert E. Kelley, in the Harvard Business Review, described the attributes of legitimate followers. He mentioned that integrity-centered followers are not sheep that are passive, uncritical and dependent, lacking initiative. Nor are they yes people who appear overly deferential, spending lots of energy building alliances between and among other yes people and insecure managers. Integrity-centered followers are not passive, unwilling to challenge leadership. They do not play it safe, waiting to see which way the wind blows before making a suggestion or taking action. Integrity-centered followers do not adopt the slogan: "better safe than sorry." Long-term viability requires leaders and followers who are single-minded and hard working.

Effective followers exhibit many admirable qualities. They manage themselves well. They are committed to the organization; its vision, mission and culture. They stand tall and proud in support of the individual whose enterprise they serve. They build their competence and focus their efforts for maximum impact. They exhibit the Eight Attributes©: character, honesty, openness, authority, partnership, performance, charity and graciousness.

Enthusiasm, intelligence, and self-reliance cause followers to be effective. They are engaged without the need to be the star, always eager to work toward the achievement of organizational goals. Effective followers are motivated to be team players. Upfront about their ambition to get ahead, they desire to earn as they learn.

Effective leaders have the vision to set corporate goals and strategies, the interpersonal skills to communicate enthusiasm, combined with the capability to coordinate different efforts with the desire to lead. Effective followers understand and support organizational vision. They refine their social skills to work well with others and exhibit the strength of character to flourish without heroic status. These productive individuals possess the moral and psychological balance to pursue personal and corporate goals for those they respect and admire.

Perhaps the most reassuring realization about leaders and followers is the similarity between the two. Each exhibits initiative, self-control, commitment, talent, honesty, credibility, courage and integrity. Because you admire those who deliver your products and services effectively, and want them to continue being productive, then let them know. Integrity is essential throughout organizations and is sustained through careful hiring, thorough training. Effective leaders provide public and private recognition.

How well do you measure up as a leader and a follower? What steps are you prepared to take to improve?

Published for Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column in "The Californian," Salinas California June 1, 2005.

James F. Bracher is the Founder of Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership - www.brachercenter.com

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FOURTH FEATURE OF THIS ISSUE:


Exceptional Selling: The Mything Link
By Linda Stimac, Author, RxSales: An Expert Performance SystemTM

To understand what causes many serious selling skill and process gaps, dust off your old edition of Greek & Roman Mythology. Scan the index for your favorite story or character, and you'll discover the universal truth about myths.

Maybe you selected Sisyphus, wicked king of Corinth, who lived in the underworld and rolled a huge stone uphill. This story taught people in ancient Greece that evil is punished. In the myth, the stone always falls back before Sisyphus can reach the top, so he is condemned forever to live a life of continuous frustration and back breaking work in the underworld.

Or is Pandora your favorite? Impelled by her natural curiosity, she opened the jar that she was ordered not to open under any circumstance. Evil escaped and spread over the earth; and, when Pandora hastened to close the lid, one thing remained trapped at the bottom: hope. This sad tale helped to explain why bad things happen. Whenever pestilence, death, war or natural destruction struck, the ancient Greeks knew why.

Like ancient people, sales professionals seek rationale for things that happen to them, and often, it's the bad things that require explanation. Why do prospects take so long to make decisions that they sometimes lose interest completely? How can people not see the benefit of this fine product or service? What makes people say "no"?

Sometimes the sales professional's own actions require justification. Why did I walk away from that prospect when I learned he was talking to another salesperson like me? Why do I have thirty electronic files containing hundreds of sales that are in the "follow-up stage"? Why can't I ask real questions that can turn a sale around?

Positive, supportive beliefs are the cornerstone of an effective sales process. But non-supportive beliefs lead to negative results and are often the root cause of a related skill or process gap. In The CheckUp TM, we examine sales professionals for the presence of twenty-three non-supportive beliefs about selling. For reasons you can understand, we call them Myths.

Like their counterpart in legend, sales myths often contain a kernel of truth. Consider the common myth: "It takes a long time to close a sale in my business." No one disputes that it can take a long time to close a sale - especially in industries with complex and lengthy internal sales cycles (classic example: life insurance and its underwriting process).

The hallmark of a sales myth is that there is a negative outcome for the salesperson who believes it. In the example above, it is easy to recognize the potential negative outcome: if you believe that it takes a long time to close a sale, then it will. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Many non-supportive beliefs are the root cause of skill or process gaps. For example, if a salesperson believes that it is not right (or polite) to ask for referrals, then it is likely that the person is not proficient in asking for introductions. This is a shame, considering that it is the best way to build a client base. Even if the person attends a two day workshop on How To Ask For Referrals, new techniques will go unused as long as this powerful but non-supportive belief is allowed to swim around up there in the psyche.

If sales professionals believe that the purpose of a sales call is to make a presentation, they will conduct themselves accordingly. Watch them in action. They barely graze the chair before launching into a features and benefits recitation. The negative outcome? Today, when prospects and clients want information, they take it from salespeople suffering from this myth. But these salespeople are doomed to remain unpaid fountains of information, rather than successful sales professionals.

Myths - the source of many skill and process problems - are insidious creatures. That is why it is crucial to tackle them before anything else. The RxSales blended learning program, called The Clinic for Sales Professionals TM, does just that, beginning with a round of treatment for myths. During this treatment, sales professionals identify potential negative outcomes for each myth in their private collections. They calculate the cost (in lost production) of having these myths. This gets them motivated to begin to replace non-supportive beliefs with positive affirmations with the help of a series of self-exercises they complete and discuss with their coaches.

The process isn't easy. It takes time and patience to rewrite private myth collections. Familiar behavior is driven by those myths, making it hard to change what has virtually become a part of us. Sales professionals are hardwired to believe that their beliefs serve them well - but in the space of a single CheckUp TM, they learn that some beliefs actually hurt them.

The payoff is worth the effort. When a sales professional's belief system changes from hazardous to healthy, skill and process gaps close quickly, replaced by new abilities and systems that are constructive and supportive.

To learn more about RxSales: An Expert Performance System TM, visit the Guest section at www.rxsales.com or contact Charles Loew at Charles.Loew@masetllc.com

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