Tag Archives: leadership

Make A Difference. We Can Help.

29 Oct

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Imagine your company’s best sales executive has been working hard to secure a new account for your company.   Strong training and development of this executive has led to a remarkable portfolio of closed deals and it’s clear another big client is just days from signing the dotted line.   However, when the potential client calls with a simple contract question, the polished sales executive is out of the office.  Still, the client needs an answer immediately.  The receptionist panics, placing the call on hold for an excessive amount of time before finally sending it on to someone unable to answer the question properly.   The client hangs up frustrated and dissatisfied.   The deal could be lost.  Just like that.

 At Fuller Communications, our goal has long been to make a difference for our clients.  Our full-circle approach to training has provided many businesses the opportunity to improve and build upon communication skills in order to move the needle on employee retention, client satisfaction and, ultimately, the company’s bottom line. 

However, much of the time, our training team comes to a boardroom table that’s made up primarily of upper level executives, sales staff or customer service agents.  And, while we’ve met great success with each of these audiences, it’s become clear to us that more can, and should, be done to achieve the greatest possible results for each and every business we touch.  

It is with this idea in mind that we developed Make a Difference™, a new program designed around your company’s mission and business plan.  Make a Difference consists of new skill sets and tools with which we teach your employees how to build relationships, gain trust and add value.  Equally important, Make a Difference is designed to be part of the company as whole. 

In fact, management plays a critical role at that start of our program, relaying to employees that the training to follow is aligned with the company’s mission, values and goals.  They acknowledge that the program is not a one-day, one-week or even a one-year lesson but instead an ongoing corporate initiative designed to teach individuals how to Make a Difference.  

We believe that responsible, results-driven training is more than executive training. 

A successful company is one in which each and every employee is trained, satisfied and invested in their day-to-day role. 

With that in mind, we teach the fundamentals required for successful personal communications in all business functions including learning styles, analyzing audiences and organizing presentations, delivering the message with conviction, running meetings and creating a dialogue. 

We believe we are unique in our abilities to provide a well-rounded, comprehensive program that will make a difference.

We are Fuller Communications.  Let us Make a Difference for your team.

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RFPs? Don’t Be Afraid to “Just Say No.”

30 Sep

Here’s some advice you likely won’t hear very often.  But, we’re not afraid to say it.  You ready?  Here it is.

Don’t respond to RFPs.

What? 

We mean it.  Ignore them.  Let them go.  They’re often a waste of your valuable time and money.  Here’s why…

Most RFPs are little more than a gauge that companies use to determine if they’re getting the best bang for the buck from their current provider.   Or, along the same line, some RFPs may represent a simple warning to current providers that they better not take the business for granted.   Without a dramatic difference in costs, an irreparably damaged relationship or some other unlikelihood, change from one vendor to another is highly unlikely.

It’s unlikely because the incumbent has a significant advantage over the competition from square one.   Assuming they’re doing their job, the incumbent has an established relationship with their client. They are a known quantity, a familiar face.  They are the path of least resistance, a simple choice against even the most qualified RFP responder.

So, what should you do when you receive that RFP on a piece of business you’ve been eyeing hungrily?  We suggest you politely decline to enter the bidding process unless you are given an opportunity to meet with top management “face to face”.

Here is how the conversation might go.

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“I regret to inform you that we will not be responding to your RFP.”

“What?  Why not?”

“Because, we don’t know you well enough.”

“Don’t you want our business?”

“Of course we do.  As you know, we have been calling on you for years.  The problem is that we don’t know you well enough.  We don’t yet know how we can properly add value to your company.  However, if we are able to first meet with you and the people who have suggested you need to make a change, we will be happy to put together our response.”

“The details are all in the RFP.  Why would you need to meet us?”

“Here’s why.  We care very much about developing a personalized and proprietary relationship with our clients in order to assure mutual success.  Our uniqueness lies in our specialized approach and the talent of our people.   We believe that mutual success requires a collaborative effort put forth over time, in a series of face-to-face meetings to discuss philosophy, commonalities, and policy.  With these in place, we establish trust and, ultimately, true partnership.  You won’t get that from an RFP.”

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There you have it.  Don’t waste your valuable time or money responding to an RFP if you don’t already have a strong and trusted relationship with the prospective client.  Sophisticated, long-term transactions must include several options and numerous items to be considered as a team.

There are no simple answers, no simply bids for successful business relationships. Top management must be willing to meet with a potential service provider to determine the potential for partnership.  This requires face-to-face meetings and open discussions in order to establish relationships and build trust.  

Without trust there is no relationship.

Good business decisions cannot be made in a vacuum.  If the playing field is to be level then all parties must be given equal time to understand the scenario, challenges or opportunities.   

Moral of the story:  Don’t get caught up in the RFP rat race.  Sometimes, you need to just say no.

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“Show” Them You Mean Business.

26 Aug
“Don’t just tell your story. Show your story.”  Diagrams (white board, flip chart or scrap paper on the desk used to enhance your presentation) not only help the audience understand your concept but also bring life to your ideas.  When your presentation format calls for a “stand and deliver” style, diagrams give you the opportunity to add a level of excitement to any subject. Studies have shown that even the simplest of illustrations (bulleted points, sketching a process or crafting a chart) will hold your audience’s attention far longer than a presentation without any graphics.   And remember, it’s not about the quality of the artwork.  It’s about helping your audience see and understand the message.
Here are just a few examples of what we feel are effective diagrams.

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At Fuller Communications, we know Diagramming.   Let us talk to you about how you can bring a whole new level of energy to your next presentation.

SPECIAL OFFER:  Send us an example of a presentation diagram that worked for you and be entered to win a free copy of Success Simplified, a true communications bible with a chapter contributed by our own Ted Fuller.  Image

What’s Your Story?

2 May

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“I loved it.   From the very first page, I just couldn’t walk away.  I related to the characters, empathized with their situation and felt personally connected to their story.  And as it drew to its dramatic conclusion, I was almost disappointed it had to end.   I look forward to the next…

 …presentation?”

It’s true.  Often, a strong presenter must view his or her presentation as an opportunity to tell a story, weaving in many elements of a best-selling author.

Open Big

The curse of a bad book is an inability to grab the reader early.   If it hasn’t grabbed your attention in the first few chapters, chances are good that you’ll put it down and forget about it.   The same goes for presentations.  At the start of a presentation, your listeners are ready to be captivated.  But, with very passing minute, you stand to lose them.  Grab ‘em early and hang tight.

Development Your Story

The most memorable characters in literature are often the ones to whom we can best relate.   When presenting in business, know your audience and adjust your presentation accordingly.   Show them how your presentation relates to them as individuals, not just as a group.  If your listeners are personally invested in your story, they’re far more likely to listen.

Don’t Ramble

A writer’s best friends are his eraser and his Editor.   When you’ve finished building your presentation, go back and look at it again.  And again.   Chances are good that there’s room for reduction.

Finish Strong

You know that feeling you get when you finish a really great book?  Give that feeling to your listeners.   Leave them feeling inspired, motivated and grateful for the time they’ve invested in you.

Be a Leader, Not a Boss.

12 Mar

We came across what we thought was a terrific graphic on LinkedIn recently and decided to share it with our Twitter and Facebook followers.  It got a lot of attention.   People started “liking” and “sharing” and “sharing” some more and before we knew it, thousands of eyes had viewed the graph.  It was clear that the subject matter struck a chord.

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Aside from being well organized the graphic is simple, straightforward and easy to understand.   It speaks to the masses while still speaking to the individual.   These are all qualities we look for in any good presentation.  Organized, simple, easy to understand, personalized.

We’ve all been there.  We’ve had our share of bosses.  You know, the one who commands a room with fear, threats, demands and general impatience?  The one you couldn’t wait to leave at the end of the workday?  The one you worked “for” not the one you worked “with”?    We’re willing to bet that many of the people who “shared” the graphic did so with that boss in mind.

We’re hopeful, though, that others “shared” it, with leaders in mind.  They read those words and thought about how lucky they were to have landed a job they love.  They thought about how they felt appreciated, motivated and respected by their leader.    They looked forward to making a difference in their company.  They felt part of a team led by someone worth following.

For many people in a position of organizational power, leadership doesn’t just come naturally.   Leadership usually isn’t easy.  It takes work and development of a variety of skills, personal and professional.   At Fuller Communications, we specialize in helping build these skills.

A simple promotion can make you a boss.  Fuller Communications can help make you a leader.

“How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?”

16 Jan

ImageYou’ve heard the old joke.  A tourist walks up to a man in Times Square and asks “Excuse me, but how do you get to Carnegie Hall?”  The man replies, “It’s simple.  Practice, practice, practice.”

This may not have been the answer the lost traveler sought but that doesn’t make it untrue.  In fact, practice (particularly as it applies to business presentations) is the single best thing you can do to ensure your message comes across accurately.   Practice has proven to reduce one’s own anxiety, enhance confidence and produce a superior product for your audience.

Don’t have time to practice?  Hogwash.   Any presentation worth giving is a presentation worth practicing.    Clearly, an unrehearsed, stumbling, bumbling, stuttering presentation can be damaging to your message and your credibility.  If you didn’t take the time to rehearse and perfect your message, how whole-heartedly could you possibly stand behind it?

Consider the following tactics to help better prepare for your next presentation.

1)   “Your Mirror is Your Friend.”   We know.  It can be painful.  But watching one’s self in the mirror for the duration of a practice presentation can teach you a lot about your physical presence.

2)   “Do I Really Sound Like That?”   Yup.  That Mickey Mouse voice on the audio recording is yours.  Ignore the tone and focus on the words.  Are you speaking too quickly?  How many “umm”s or “ahhh”s do you count?

3)   “You May Be Wondering Why I Gathered You All Here…”  Use your home audience.  Your spouse, your parents, even your kids can be a valuable practice resource.  Simply having others’ eyes on you while you speak helps you better prepare for the real thing.

Just a few simple steps can mean the difference between a successful presentation and a disastrous one.   So, give your audience credit.  If you walk in unrehearsed, they’ll know it.   It’s hard to focus on your words (no matter how brilliant) when they’re accompanied by a nervous twitch, a lopsided tie or a flurry of disorganized papers.  Conversely, if you walk in confident, self-assured and well prepared, they’ll listen.  They’ll see that you stand behind your message and cared enough to deliver it properly.

“If you don’t practice, you don’t deserve to win.”

Andre Agassi, 8-time Grand Slam-Winning Tennis Champion

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Fuller Goes the Distance

27 Nov

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Would you train for a marathon but only run 25 miles come race day?  Would you host a Thanksgiving dinner but leave out the turkey? Would you buy a plane ticket from Boston to Hawaii but forget to re-board during your connection in Cincinnati?

Of course you wouldn’t.

But, that’s essentially what many companies are doing when they hire outside companies to help with internal communication issues.    They buy the ticket.  They board the plane.  They take off.   But, faced with some diversion, they hop off their flight prematurely…never reaching that final, sunny destination of communication success.

Many years ago, an employer gathered twenty-one coworkers and me in a conference room to review our outside-sourced personality tests.  I distinctly remember spending more than a few nights leading up to that meeting pouring over the assessment papers, answering questions about my life preferences, goals, and perception of my own skills and weaknesses.   Papers handed in, we gathered to await our results.

“ESFJ…ISTP…ENFP…”

It was all so fascinating to us.  I remember my own four letters to this day.  I remember how amazed we were by how accurately the documents described our own traits.   I remember how, free from the conference room, we compared assessments over the course of the day and nodded admiringly at each other’s results.

And, I remember that, within days, I promptly forgot everything about everyone else’s letters.  What was it that I was supposed to have adjusted in my communication to each of them?   Was my manager an EN with whom I should be more direct?  Or was she ES with whom my direct approach would fall flat?  Panicked, I began to wish we’d been assigned name tags with letters on them.

And therein lie the problems with some executive coaching, team-building and other outsourced assistance.  There’s no doubt that knowing our own strengths and weaknesses is helpful in the business world.  We must recognize our attributes, emphasize our best abilities and continually work to improve in the areas where we lack confidence.

But, perhaps it’s even more important to know the personalities of those around us.

The task of improving workplace communication and building a highly functional team is only half complete when we’ve just studied our own traits.  After all, we know we can talk ourselves into just about anything.   Can’t we?

We must also know our audience be they a co-worker, a manager, a sales force or a client.  We must learn what communication styles work best for them and adapt our messages accordingly.    Don’t sell ice to a penguin.  Don’t sell shoes to a snake.

Fuller Communications takes analytics to the next level.   With a patent-pending behavioral pattern chart and customized programs to meet all their client needs, Fuller Communications finishes that training marathon.  They’ll make sure your group workshops get the Thanksgiving turkey to the table.

They can’t promise it’ll be Hawaii but there’s no doubt that, after training with the best, your company will love the direction they’re flying.

You No What I Meant

13 Nov

Ever come across a type-o in a book and wondered how it ever got past the editor’s desk? In the world of digital checkers, it seems almost unforgiveable that something as lazy and careless as a spelling error could make it into press. And yet, it happens all the time — in literature, in business, in our personnel lives. (Did you catch that?)  Here’s an example.

In July of 2011, an NBC-owned Twitter account broke news that the President would be “making a personal statement in the Rose Garden” the following afternoon. As you might imagine, speculation ran rampant. What breaking personal news could the President have to share in a Rose Garden news conference? A tragic illness? A family crisis?

Of course there was no such scenario. The tweet merely included a critical type-o. The President was, in fact, announcing a “personnel” change in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But, for nearly an hour before the error was noticed and corrected, the Twitter world was abuzz with speculation.

When releasing written statements to your audience, whoever they may be (your friends, your boss, your co-workers or even your family), keep a few tips in mind.

  1. Use spell check. If your computer doesn’t automatically notify you of errors with underlines or auto-correct, use the “tools” menu available on most office systems.
  2. Re-read your work. It’s amazing how often you will find and correct your own errors if you just give it a second look before sending.
  3. Ask someone else to read it for you. Let’s face it. Even some of the most articulate people we know, might not know a colon from a semi-colon. Forgive yourself and admit you just don’t know what’s right.  You weren’t an English major.  Your recipient, however, just might have been.

When our spelling is perfect, it’s invisible. But when it’s flawed, it prompts strong negative associations.   — Marilyn vos Savant