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Winter is here…and there’s still a long way to go…so choose to love it.

From previous blogs or our work together, you’ve learned how choosing to have a positive attitude is critical to your success and overall happiness.  Yes, you choose happiness.

Remember, your attitude will drive your actions, which produces your results.

So, whatever happens in business, at school, at home, and …yes…even with the weather, you must find a way to remain positive.  Now, don’t get me wrong. When I wake up on a Wednesday morning and there’s another foot of snow to get rid of before my two hour commute to Boston, I’m not singing “Winter Wonderland”…not immediately.  But I have conditioned myself to breathe when I feel stress rising, and then accept what I cannot change.  Then, instead of dwelling on all of the negative attributes of the situation (that I can’t control anyway), I instead choose to reflect on that which is positive.  Take Winter for example.  With snow shoes and the right clothing, there’s nothing better. Shoveling equals forced exercise (which most of us need). Deer frequent my yard. The fireplace will be going this weekend with family, hot chocolate and whipped cream…ahhh! For commuters, download an audio book and actually enjoy the ride.  I chose to live in New England…and I love it.  I accept and embrace Winter as part of what makes home a special place.  What will you do this weekend to ensure you enjoy this remarkable season?  Go sledding?  Build a snowman?  Shovel snow for an elderly neighbor?  Host a Winter block party with a backyard bonfire?  If you disagree with this blog and are overcome with the intense desire to throw a snowball in my direction, then use that as a sign that you need to carve out some time to readjust your attitude towards Winter…or whatever is causing your negativity.  After all, this isn’t just about Winter.  Contact me with your results and feedback.  Thanks for reading!


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Have a quick two minute tip for you today that might make a huge difference in your attitude and perhaps all those you influence each day!

Please scroll down and have a listen on the handy dandy audio player!

Download this episode (right click and save)


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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).


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Once upon a time in a sales cubicle far, far away I managed a sales team that had a very cool luxury . . . a team of inside sales jedis who’s sole purpose was to set appointments for the outside sales jedis.

Pretty freakin cool . . . huh?

Well, upon mucho reviews and mucho ride alongs I noticed something rather disturbing.

We were sitting on top of a territory that had all the big game, but were only getting in front of the road kill.

I confronted the head of the department and was told that “nobody in the big companies wants to see us” I don’t remember how I responded and quite frankly it doesn’t matter but I do remember what happened later that night when everyone left the office.

Note: this next part requires a humming of the Mission Impossible theme and picturing me flying into the bullpen on a zip line. My blog . . . I can BS if I want to.

I decided to look through their notes which brings us to

Note #2: The company I worked for didn’t give us computers so we had everything on 3×5 cards. Very disturbing considering this was 1998 but any who . . .

I quickly understood what the problem was

It was their notes.

Things like (earmuffs some strong language coming up)

“Total b*tch hung up on me”

“Screw this guy. Total A-hole”

You get the picture.

So every time they would come across these contacts, they would naturally avoid calling.

Or worse yet, call with a certain tone of defensiveness that I’m sure could be felt on the other end.

Then a wave of genius hit me.

I was about to hire a new outbound rep, so . . .

What if me and my group of outside jedi were to rewrite the cards and do the unthinkable.

Give them to the new rep as if they were the “Glenngary” leads.

So for the next few weeks, we rewrote approximately 5,000 cards removing the comments.

When I hired the new rep, I told her that the others would be jealous and she was not to tell them about the “special” leads or

Listen to anyone who told her she was wasting her time.

By the end of that year, we signed massive amounts of business, my team went from 110th worldwide to 13th and two of my jedis were ranked in the top 20.

All because we created a new self fulfilling prophecy!

It makes me want to offer some questions to consider . . .

What is the overall tone of the notes you review when calling a prospect?

What affect do they have on your attitude and willingness to call?

How appropriate is it to vent through your notes in the first place?

Have you ever avoided an account simply because one of the veterans told you you’re wasting your time (meanwhile they are basing this on a solitary call made to the prospect back in 1976)

And just for the heck of it . . .

If someone is an idiot to you

Could it have just been “one of those days”

Did your approach  add to that certain pissiness? Not saying its justified, just sayin.

Could things have changed since your last call (like they are now on Prozac or the recipient of a successful exorcism)

Or maybe one of these things happened in this Free Poster

Things change!

Today, you are cordially invited to think about these little moments of venting and how they influence your future behavior and . . .

How they influence your behavior today as you set out to put a new ding in the universe!

Today’s News: Have we connected on Facebook? Feel free to click here to go to my personal page (this isn’t the Sales Playbook fan page)


Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).


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Click here to read Content Strategy – Six Steps to Better Content: Introduction – Part 1

Understanding Content Strategy

To understand content strategy, you need to understand that creating good content is more than just putting words and pictures together. Good content involves:

  • Understanding your target audience’s needs
  • Defining your organizational ability to meet them
  • Setting content goals to address those needs
  • Conducting a content audit to determine what, if any, usable content already exists
  • Assessing what shape that content’s in – does it need refreshing or serious overhauling?
  • Determining what new content is required
  • Determining who’s going to provide it and where and how it’s going to be used

To ascertain all the above, you need to go through the steps mentioned earlier. The result of this process will be an outline of actions needed to successfully produce the valuable content you need without head-scratching, finger-pointing, and frustrating delays.

6 Steps for Creating More Effective Content

While there is perhaps any number of ways to go about creating content, they all boil down to these six basic steps that, in a proactive organization, form a cycle of renewal:

6 Steps to Content Writing

6 Steps for Creating More Effective Content

We’ll now take a look at how each one of these steps, when completed as thoroughly and accurately as possible, will provide a solid, actionable content strategy grounded in reality while avoiding the pitfalls of assumption and wishful thinking. The first three steps guide the development of your strategy, the second three show you how to implement it.


© Lisa March for Reliable Linking, 2011. |
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Did you hear the one about the client who went to his inbox to find a “happy anniversary” email with a handy dandy gift certificate attached.

No?

Nor will you because it rarely happens.

Unbeknownst to me, it was my 1 year anniversary with audible.com and they decided to do the unthinkable . . . show gratitude with a surprise.

And this isn’t the first time. They sent me a free download at the holidays too.

It made me think that whether it be . . .

The shear “WOOHOONESS”  of getting a surprise

The waking up of our “inner child” or

Just the feeling of acknowledgement that we are indeed valued . . .

Perhaps the surprise is an underutilized Jedi mind trick?

Some things to think about

1)    Birthdays: Don’t believe anyone who tells you they don’t give a sh*t about their own birthday because they suddenly do when you miss it.

2)    Anniversaries: I like this one and would invite all our leaders out there to remember employee anniversaries too!

3)    Gratitude: How can you thank your clients in new and exciting ways? Bonus points if you surprise them just because!

Way Cool Surprise My Family Received:

My Dad worked for General Mills many years ago. Every once in a while, when Dad was away on business,  the company would send a box filled with their products along with a note thanking us for letting them “borrow” Dad.

I know a very successful sales rep (now President of his own company) who used to randomly hand out Starbucks cards to his support team. Just in case you didn’t get the memo on this type of thing . . . people dig it!

Homework Assignment (Yep you aren’t gonna just come here and read my rants and not own the material dude)

Today (as in not tomorrow) you are to think of at least one way to surprise:

A client

An employee, coworker or what the hell . . . the boss!

And just for good measure . . .

Surprise someone in your personal life!

Before you go, I have a little word of advice for you . . .

“Courtships” should never end after the marriage!

Today’s News: We will will be having a little give away over on our Facebook Fan Page. Nothing major and you won’t be able to retire from it but you will get to embrace your inner “WOOHOONESS” if you win. We’ll have the details up on Facebook early Wednesday am. Meanwhile, why don’t you stop by and “like” us already!  Click here to join the festivities


Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).


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Click here to read Content Strategy – Six Steps to Better Content: Introduction – Part 1

Understanding Content Strategy

To understand content strategy, you need to understand that creating good content is more than just putting words and pictures together. Good content involves:

  • Understanding your target audience’s needs
  • Defining your organizational ability to meet them
  • Setting content goals to address those needs
  • Conducting a content audit to determine what, if any, usable content already exists
  • Assessing what shape that content’s in – does it need refreshing or serious overhauling?
  • Determining what new content is required
  • Determining who’s going to provide it and where and how it’s going to be used

To ascertain all the above, you need to go through the steps mentioned earlier. The result of this process will be an outline of actions needed to successfully produce the valuable content you need without head-scratching, finger-pointing, and frustrating delays.

6 Steps for Creating More Effective Content

While there is perhaps any number of ways to go about creating content, they all boil down to these six basic steps that, in a proactive organization, form a cycle of renewal:

6 Steps to Content Writing

6 Steps for Creating More Effective Content

We’ll now take a look at how each one of these steps, when completed as thoroughly and accurately as possible, will provide a solid, actionable content strategy grounded in reality while avoiding the pitfalls of assumption and wishful thinking. The first three steps guide the development of your strategy, the second three show you how to implement it.

1) Link to inactive social networking accounts: So there’s a prospect, interested enough to check out your Linkedin profile. They click on your Twitter link thinking “Cool, I spend more time there anyway” then they discover your account either has zero tweets or the last time you tweeted was back in late 2009. I’ve seen this with inactive blogs and even websites. Please go back and update or report to the Principals office folks. Inexcusable!

2)    Dancing the “Linkedin two step”. This is when you accept someone’s invite and they immediate launch into their sales pitch. Not bueno! Think courtship not singles bar.

3)    Start a discussion and then go MIA. Would you walk into a room, start a discussion and then slip out the back Jack? Of course not. Then why do so many people start Linkedin discussions and then leave without any acknowledgement of the comments? Stick around and facilitate your discussions unless you are striving for a certain David Copperfield vibe.

4)    Continually engage in negativity, combativeness etc. I don’t care if someone gives you the old virtual finger by calling you out publicly or if you just have a need to rip apart someone’s logic in a discussion . . . its bad news. Also, and how shall I say this, your network hates when all you do is complain in your status updates and tweets. Do you really think people say, I wonder what kind of cool negative sh*t that rascal Castain is tweeting about today? You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, but let’s stop playing the A Hole card already.

5)    Stalk people: liking everything, commenting on every status update. Its just creepy and I will leave it at that. I have this sudden urge to ask if anyone has seen that movie Silence of The Lambs. Don’t know why.

6)    Broadcasting instead of interacting. I see this happen way too many times on Twitter. Quite frankly it bores the hell out me. Let’s make sure that somewhere between all the links, quotes, tips etc we are thanking, acknowledging, validating and showing the world that there is indeed a human being behind the tweets. And in my case, a human being who finds the word “tweet” unmanly.

7)    Too much me, not enough them. You’ve seen it before: “Check out my Facebook fan page” “I’m speaking at . . . “My latest blog post . . .” and even the more sophisticated narcissist who will only retweet those who are mentioning them. I believe the key to your rock stardom rests in your ability to make others look like rock stars. Doing so creates legions of fans who will in turn become brand evangelists . . . spreading the good news about . . . YOU!

8)    Flooding The Twitter Stream With Irrelevant Data: Live tweeting, twitter chat, rapid fire tweets, mucho foursquare updates. This is a rant for another day but I can tell you its annoying and can get you unfollowed right quick. Please think value before you send this stuff. Better yet, put yourself in your follower’s shoes who’s twitter stream get’s flooded with your need to tweet a sound byte from a conference that we really needed to be there to understand. Same with Twitter Chats and tweeting 7 links in 3 seconds. Did I mention you should think?

9)     Too much duplication of your message across the platforms. As someone who participates actively on the Big 3 (Twitter,LinkedinFacebook) I know that I need to bring my content to each, but if all I am doing is sending the same stuff to 3 places and you follow me in all 3 places, doesn’t that sort of punish you? My suggestion is to offer things in each platform that you don’t offer in the others. Just a thought.

10)  Linkedin template. I won’t say more than my usual “I think using templates put forth the worst possible ‘you’ as far as a first impression” I would go as far as to say that if you don’t have the 20 seconds to introduce yourself properly, what makes you think you’ll have the time to properly nurture the new connection? Besides, you’re better than that!

11)  Ask for a recommendation from someone who basically said hello to you once.

12)  Asking for a recommendation from someone and using the template. Hang your head if you ever did this.

All joking (and self righteousness) aside, I’ve made lots of mistakes in my efforts to be a social networking rock star. I will openly admit that I’m a work in progress!

My suggestion to you would be to take the time to think things through a bit and model the people who are getting the results you wish to obtain.

Oh and just for the heck of it, pretend you are the person at the other end of your social networking efforts.  If you find yourself saying “that’s not cool” even once, then it might be time for a course correction my friend.

Today, you are cordially invited to make a better first impression!

Here’s a cool, free E-Book for you with 21 Ways For You To Master Linkedin . . . Enjoy!


Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).


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Check out Lea and Marc’s beautiful West Park Winery Wedding in the new edition of The Knot!

Their rustic, country Real Wedding Feature is one of the larger, four page spreads!!! Can you tell I’m excited about this :) !
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Oh no. Another know it all blogger preaching some dress for success BS we’ve all heard a thousand times . . . think again sista!

Today, we’re going to focus on the all too often neglected areas that seem to slip under the proverbial radar.

So, let’s look at the dress for success thing as meaningless if . . .

Your breath is so bad it could start the windmill on an old Dutch painting.

Consider becoming one with an Altoid. Especially important if you will be engaging in close quarters combat like riding in a car together or talking close up at an event. Note: if people retract when you talk you may be guilty of “Ass Breath”  Also, if anyone ever says “Hey I’m bored, let’s go brush our teeth”  there’s your sign!

Your cologne/perfume arrives 10 minutes before you do and stays thru the new year.

I remember when I worked with my Dad making the mistake of bathing in some Emporio. He promptly invited me to “Shower it the hell off”. He felt it was a huge distraction and it wasn’t until I was on the receiving end of an over ambitious cologne enthusiast that I forgave my Dad for being a bit harsh that morning.

Your eyeglasses are so filthy your blue eyes have taken on shades of dirt.

There’s actually a simple cure. Pick up a small bottle of eye glass cleaner or wipes that they have designed for cleaning glasses. Keep them in your bag and viola you are ready to combat “Optical Skankosis”!

If your shoes look like you were on a construction site before the meeting.

The shoes are by far one of the biggest areas of neglect that I have seen. I’m assuming they are getting dirty between when people leave the house and arrive at appointments but we all know, there are some people that simply neglect shining their shoes. I’ll spare you the common sense moment on why you need to keep up on polishing shoes and focus, instead on how to keep them looking primo! My suggestion would be to carry some liquid shoe polish in your car for those touch ups. It will surprise you how often you will need to use it! For those of you in Metropolitan areas or who find yourself in and out of airports, why not drop the 5 bucks on a shoe shine? Not only do you get some spiffy looking shoes, you get to sit there on that throne like you are the master of the universe. How cool is that?

If you pull out some messy pad that you have to flip through 50 pages of “stuff” to get to a clean page.

I won’t lie, this was me, not too long ago. I went out and bought a leather padfolio from Staples and fixed that one real quick. Just when I thought I had it figured out, a multi millionaire client set me straight on something else that was destined for a “Who’d a thunk it?” moment. He sat me down one day and said “Paul (they call me that back home), you wear nice suits, silk ties, monogrammed French cuff shirts, your shoes are always shined and . . . ” I stopped him right there and said “Michael, I’m not into dudes” After shaking his head in complete confusion, he continued “then you screw it up by using that 25 cent Bic pen!” Truth be told, I thought he was being snobby until I stepped back, lost my ego and realized that whether or not my pen was indicative of success, it certainly was a distraction. I upgraded to a nice Waterman pen so when I would ask people to sign, it made a better impression.

Fingernails: I’m not talking about manicured, I’m talking about nails that have accumulated enough dirt to fill in a pot hole! Not a bad idea to keep a nail clipper in your trusty bag, unless, of course, you are striving for that “raised by wolves” look.

This next one is tacky so I will avoid all preface and simply “go there”. In the summer months we can really sweat. It takes no rocket scientist to deduct that where there is sweat, there is at least the potential to become what specialists call “the smelly kid” Short of taking a “whore’s bath” in your client’s sink (and risking them calling you “lazy”), look into a travel size Fabreeze. Get in the habit of giving your jacket a quick once over. It kills odors without putting a heavy scent on your clothes.

Pop Quiz: You are visiting your prospect/client and are wrapping up a great meeting. They walk you to your car continuing a great conversation. Would the inside or trunk of your car embarrass you? Not to brag, but the inside of my car would never embarrass me, but the empty 7-11 coffee cups and wrapper from my egg sandwich might. The only thing you can do if you screw up is to say the following (word for word) “Mr/Ms Prospect/Client, I’m afraid I can’t let you leave. You’ve seen too much!”

How about your computer bag? Does it look like it was dragged on the back of your car for the better part of the year? Don’t laugh, mine used to. I was clueless until a few of my teammates facilitated an intervention on my behalf. Once again they reminded me how distracting it was for them as well as the clients we visited. You know what gang, I knew better and there was simply no excuse for me to neglect something like that!

Do you show samples? I know in the printing industry, we show them like photos of our summer vacation. Keep in mind that color fades over time and samples can just get plain old tired. I’ve even seen coffee stains, dog eared samples as well as out dated ones to boot!

So here’s the bottom line gang, compliments of my late Dad (he was actually quite punctual but I mean late as in deceased and/or dead)
We all have an important message to deliver  worthy of our audience’s attention. We can’t afford to have distractions!

And just for the heck of it, I’m wondering if we pay close attention to the details if that in and of itself sends a message? Something to think about while you chew on an Altoid.

Today, you are invited to be impeccable!

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Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).


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Let’s get this out of the way right now: it’s pretty much a given in the business world today that content is king. More important, content is critical. It is the lifeblood, the identity, and the value of any company or organization. So why is it that content is so often relegated to the backseat? What is it about content that so often makes it an afterthought for otherwise bright, engaged, and responsible professionals?

Content Writing

Perhaps it’s the tedium that overcommitted, understaffed sales and marketing executives and department managers have come to expect when it’s time to sit down and actually commit digital words to a blank screen.

Perhaps it’s the tedium that overcommitted, understaffed sales and marketing executives and department managers have come to expect when it’s time to sit down and actually commit digital words to a blank screen. Let’s face it – no one really wants to take on the task of trying to think of what to say about a product or service, a company, institution, or organization. Where’s the fun in that? Besides there are more important things to do, right? Call a client. Write a sales report. Get those fourth quarter numbers in. Anything other than try to talk about what it is you do or sell so that it makes sense and someone would actually be interested in reading it.

As a result, more than a few otherwise calm, rational human beings become frantic, desperate individuals racing against a deadline to produce something, anything, for a website, newsletter, sales brochure, blog – with little thought and even less planning.

But the truth of the matter is that “content” – that elusive, gray cloud of words, images, and graphics – is the soul of any organization, large or small, profit or non-profit. Without content, there is no brand, no image, no value. A construction without substance, a body without soul. Without proper planning and adequate attention, it’s no surprise that the resulting product is unfocused, dull, generic content that creates no unique brand identity, no interest, and no sales.

What’s needed is a content strategy and the ability to implement it.

So what is a content strategy?

In short, a content strategy is the analysis, creation, publication, and maintenance of useful, appropriate, and current content, developed to meet one or more established goals. While the word “content” is often used today to refer to information developed specifically for a website, it really can apply to any text and supporting graphics created for distribution across any and all channels of a marketing program.

In this e-book, we’ll discuss the various aspects of developing a workable, usable content strategy that will help you gain control of the content creation process using a few, simple steps. You’ll also gain an understanding of what it takes to generate unique content that will help build your brand, set you apart from the competition, and provide a number of valuable tools for your sales and marketing toolbox.