Learn to be Part of the Solution

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In most organizations, problems become pretty easy to spot and call out. I’ve believed for a long time that one of the key qualities of people who rise through the ranks quickly is their ability to take the next step:

Bring forth solutions to the problems. Teddy Roosevelt used to say, “Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining.”

We all encounter problems. Everyday. But the people who achieve at the highest levels are the ones who are best at solving problems.

The bigger, the better.

Here are four important watch outs to ensure you are solving problems and not just calling them out, in the workplace and at home:

1. Begin with the end in mind

Stephen Covey used to say, “Begin with the end in mind.”

A great place to start is by looking at what the best possible experience needs to be for the end user, which is usually the consumer or business who will be buying the product. From that starting point, you can work backward toward the solution.

If the situation is not in business, the process shouldn’t change. Think to yourself, “What does the ideal outcome to this situation need to look like?” This level of thinking forces you to think more creatively and will increase your chances of creating a solution.

2. Utilize people of different backgrounds

Often times, it can be extremely difficult to take a holistic look at situations, especially if you’re immersed in one particular function of the business. When you’re buried in the day-to-day of your own responsibility, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and be closed off to other possibilities and ideas.

Step back, detach, and attempt to look at the situation from 30,000 feet, not just from the ground level. Ask some teammates for their opinion on the topic. Also, ask people in other departments if they have any ideas.

In my own life, my wife gives me the best advice. She is incredibly resourceful, intuitive, and solution-oriented. I hate to admit, but there have also been times in business where she’s told me I was going down the wrong path on a decision, and she’s almost always been right.

If you have someone outside of your current business to bounce ideas off, I highly recommend you entertain their thoughts and opinions when possible.

3. Use all resources available

In today’s world, there are very few problems to solve where you can’t find an answer somewhere. With all the resources and tools available today, I firmly believe the only answer you can’t find is the one you don’t look hard enough for.

Books, podcasts, and blogs are great places to find useful wisdom and guidance. Books are my favorite resource. If someone has taken the effort to research, write, and publish a book on a topic, even if the entire work isn’t amazing, there are usually at least one or two nuggets I can learn and act on.

One word of caution: because there are is so much content out in the world today, and there are so many “experts” in practically every field, you must be careful who you take advice from. Before absorbing someone’s advice or opinion, take a few minutes and research the person who created it. Some good qualifiers are the person’s background, certifications and/or qualifications, who they’re connected to, and who they’re endorsed by.

4. Set it aside and come back later

Frustration kills creative thinking, and it is possible to be so frustrated that there’s little chance you can think of a solution in a particular moment. This is completely normal, and it’s okay.

In times when a problem is really frustrating, and you’re not making any progress, it’s okay to put it down and come back later with a clearer head. Take a day or two, walk away from it, and revisit it later.

As long as you make the commitment to come back to problem at a later time, stepping away can be a good thing.

Problems are not only frustrating, but they are what leaders in all walks of life are trying to solve. In most cases, the reason people have been put in top positions is because of their ability to lead teams to solving problems.

And most are always looking for more people to help them. Bring more solutions, and you’ll watch your career take off.

What are your best tips for being a part of the solution?


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and has been a top-producing sales leader in multiple industries. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

Posted in business success, leadership, sales, Sales management

How to Maintain Control in this Crazy Time

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To say this is a tough time in the world would be an understatement. As we all are taking precautions to minimize the spread of COVID-19, every aspect of people’s lives has been affected by this pandemic.

For most people, most of the adjustments related to “social distancing” are perceived negatively.

With businesses shut down, the stock market taking a historic tumble, people losing jobs, kids being out of school, and virtually all recreation activities, sports, and entertainment events canceled, there’s a lot to be anxious about. When you add being isolated in your home for weeks or months on end, you start feeling like you don’t have any choices or control in life.

While there is a lot of truth to that, we have to remember this is a short term thing. Eventually the virus’ curve will flatten, we will be able to get out of isolation, and we’ll return to life as we knew a few weeks ago.

Life may not turn out exactly how it was before, and that’s certainly a popular debate these days. The truth is, no one knows exactly what life will look like, but it will certainly be closer to what it was before this pandemic.

In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to weather this storm and ensure you come out better on the other side:

1. Control your thoughts and attitude

In his famous book Man’s Search for Meaning, Austrian physicist and holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl says, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

While our experience in today’s world is clearly not comparable to Frankl’s experience in concentration camps, what is the same is our ability to dictate our thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

What you choose to focus on grows.

If you spend your quarantined time focused on the negative aspects of this experience, I guarantee you’ll see more of that than you’ll see good. That thinking will cause you to dwell on things you truly don’t have control over, and you’ll miss out on opportunities that, even in these dark times, are right in front of you.

Focusing on the positive aspects of this situation doesn’t mean you disregard the challenges. No doubt, these are tough times. But it means you are shifting your focus toward solutions and what can be done, as opposed to spending the majority of time dwelling on things you have no control over.

You are always free to choose how you feel, look at, and act on situations.

2. Create a daily to-do list and commit to it

I’ve always believed people are happiest when they are productive. In my own life, that has definitely been proven true over the years. When I’m sitting around too much, not doing enough, I don’t do well mentally.

Generally, it seems like people who are the most miserable are the ones with too much time on their hands. If you’re busy and focused on productivity, progress, and moving forward, there’s something contagious and motivating about that.

As Tony Robbins says, “Motion creates emotion.” I’ve found this to be incredibly true. It’s one of the reasons people who enjoy early-morning workouts swear by them.

If you’re like my family, your to-do list may look a little different than it usually does, and that’s okay. During this time of quarantine, now is a great time to knock out projects, focus on hobbies, or honey-do’s you haven’t been able to do ordinarily.

Use this time to clean out that closet or garage, make a trip or two to Goodwill (maintaining appropriate social distance, of course), read a few extra books, start that blog you’ve want to for years, and anything else you’ve been putting off. Binging on some Netflix won’t hurt, but just make sure it’s kept in check and during times you’ve planned.

3. Exercise daily

For most people, this is one of the biggest adjustments of all. Especially for gym goers, the adjustment to an at-home workout can be extremely tough. However, there are several things you can do to transition to at-home workouts and still maintain a solid level of fitness.

There are several apps and programs designed specifically for at home or on the road workouts, and many of them don’t require any weights or equipment at all. Additionally, most fitness clubs have also launched at-home workout plans and additional resources for their members.  If you haven’t checked your health club’s website or mobile app, log in and see if they have launched a virtual workout plan you can follow.

Another challenge to working out at home can be family getting in the way, especially if you have young children. Three options I suggest: work out with them, let them tag along or play nearby (and realize it won’t be exactly the same), or wake up before everyone else and knock it out.

One of the group fitness classes my wife takes has transitioned to virtual classes on Zoom. Since there’s no gym daycare at the house, and often times I’m working in my office, our little guy does the workout with my wife.

While it may not give her the adult alone time she usually enjoys during her usual routine, she still is able to get a solid workout in, and it also sets a great example for our kids of staying active and healthy. Plus, the other ladies in the class are most definitely entertained by our video-bombing pre-schooler.

4. Monitor your information consumption

My old friend Isaac Tolpin likes to ask his clients, “Are you producing more than you’re consuming?” This plays out in multiple areas of life, but the area that gets most people into trouble is on their mobile device.

Do you find yourself spending too much time scrolling your news feeds on social media, “spying” on people, liking too many things, leaving a ton of comments each day? Additionally, how much time are you spending on news sites, watching politically-charged television, and allowing yourself to get swept up in that vicious cycle?

That’s consuming.

I’m not saying it’s not important to see what’s going on in the news. I definitely read the news every day, and I encourage you to do the same. However, keep a limit on it.

There are two ways I’ve found to work best on not over-consuming the news. First, limit your exposure to 30-60 minutes first thing in the morning. This is more than enough time to get a general pulse on what’s going on in the world. Second, check or tune in for 10-15 minutes in the early evening. If you’re on a news website or a television newscast, any significant happenings for the day will be readily available.

More than that, and you’re spending too much time focused on negative topics, most of which you have no immediate control over.

5. Spend extra time with family

There have been some silver linings during this pandemic, and the best one for me is it’s given me more time at home with family. While we haven’t been able to go to playgrounds or visit fun places like we usually do, we have been able to spend more quality time together, when I’m usually gone for most of the work week.

We’ve gone on numerous bike rides around the neighborhood, played baseball in the backyard, built crazy Hot Wheels tracks in the playroom, read books, worked on puzzles, and played board games. Also, my wife got me hooked on Ellen’s show Game of Games, which reminds me of an adult version of Nickelodeon’s old show Double Dare.

I recently re-read Gary Chapman‘s book The 5 Love Languages of Children. One of the love languages that can have a profound impact on our relationships with our spouse, children, and family is quality time, which simply consists of spending time together where you’re present and focused on them. Now is a great time to practice that.

Undoubtedly, these are unprecedented, uncertain, unbelievable and crazy times. None of us know for certain how this pandemic will end, and exactly what things will look like when it’s over.

There are a lot of outcomes that will be outside of most of our immediate control, that’s for sure. However, uncertainty doesn’t give us the excuse to not control the things we can influence directly.

One of my old bosses used to say, “Control your controllables and the rest will take care of itself.” Let’s remember that as we move into our new future.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and has been a top-producing sales leader in multiple industries. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

Posted in business success, fitness, health, leadership, sales, Sales management, Sales tips

How to Believe You Can Achieve Your Goals

IMG_6734James Allen once said, “The will to do springs from the knowledge that we can do.”

Regardless of the endeavor, belief in what you’re doing matters. It matters more than most other factors. In many cases, a lack of belief is what holds people back from taking the actions that lead to positive results.

When you look at people who are successful, whether it’s people in business, athletes, actors, or normal people like you and I,  belief in themselves is one of the key traits.

Belief leads to action. Action then leads to results. Results create more motivation and makes it easier to take more action.

Momentum matters.

If you’re struggling to believe, and struggling to gain momentum in one or more areas of life, here are three quick actions you can take to change that:

1. Look at those who are succeeding

Regardless of the activity, there are most likely people already succeeding. Look to them as proof that it can be done. Once someone accomplishes a great feat, it should serve as proof that others can accomplish it too.

The 4-minute mile is a great example of this. For years, people thought it was physically impossible for a human to run a mile in under four minutes. It was so ridiculous that even doctors were trying to justify how the human body couldn’t handle running that fast.

Then on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister achieved the first sub- 4-minute mile. The interesting thing is, that record only stood for 46 days. Within a year, several others had also broken the mark.

All it took was one person to show the world it was possible.

When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to get lost in your own personal doldrums. Salespeople do this all the time. Instead, look around and see what others in your profession are achieving.

2. Learn the specific actions they took

One of the common challenges I see when people look at others who are successful is they want to distance themselves from that person. Or they make excuses why that person’s success can’t be duplicated.

In sales, it might be someone having a better territory with more hot prospects. In sports, maybe someone had better coaching or played against tougher competition. Maybe an actor had connections to people that others don’t.

Don’t go down that path. Instead, look at what the person DID. What actions did he or she take? What resources and training did they have to seek or engage in before they achieved the results?

How many times did they fail before they made it? What did they do to overcome their challenges? Once they reached the top, what actions did they take to reach even higher levels of success?

Some people do have  starting points that are farther along than most of us. But more often than not, you’ll find the true key to their success lies in their work ethic, tenacity, willingness to push through challenges, and an effort higher than most. There were challenges to overcome, and they didn’t give up.

3. Scale your actions to theirs

If you want to be successful, do what successful people do and emulate the same volume of activity. It’s that simple, and it’s also the only thing you have total control over.

You may not achieve the same exact results as they did, but you’ll achieve more than you currently are. Over time, your experience and skill level will improve, and so will your results.

When I was new in sales, I struggled bad. My first 12 appointments resulted in no-sales.

Then I went to a conference and learned some selling skills and messaging techniques that helped me make some sales. Then I plateaued again.

What helped me through the second plateau was emulating the volume of actions other reps were taking. I just wasn’t doing enough appointments, and what that took was making more prospecting phone calls.

An increase in focus, discipline, and tenacity was all it took, and my sales took off even more from there.

Ultimately, all roads lead to this conclusion: take action, and take more of it! Taking more disciplined action cures a lot of problems. Once you do, you’ll see results, and you’ll know you can do it. Then you’ll want to take even more action.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

Posted in business success, fitness, health, leadership, sales, Sales management, Sales tips

8 Reasons Salespeople Fail & How to Avoid Them

DCCCF4AC-52C9-4633-9774-E6BD87F42056Too many salespeople don’t succeed.

Out of the thousands of sales people in the world, most are not “crushing it”. Unfortunately, it’s reality.

There are some in sales who do quite well. But that’s usually not the majority, and typically when you look at the percentage of a sales force that hits quota, it’s usually not more than 60 percent.

An article published in Forbes last year cited that 57% of sales reps missed target in 2017. For most sales people, the story line plays out a couple different ways.

The most common scenario is: the salesperson jumps from job to job, and has really good stories (either blaming the prior company or telling a grass is greener story) as to why they needed to make the jump.

The other script is the tenured sales rep, who has never performed at plan, and is left alone because the leadership of the company doesn’t take the steps to correct the situation. Maybe it’s an HR or a loyalty issue, but the bottom line is, it’s bad leadership.

Harsh reality: either the person needs to be coached up, or he needs to be coached out of that position.

Usually, people just need coaching up.

This requires properly diagnosing why a person isn’t succeeding, giving them proper feedback, and putting specific accountability measures in place to help that person out.

If one of your sales people is currently struggling, or if you’re a salesperson and find yourself in this position, here are the 8 most common reasons sales people don’t succeed and thoughts on how to avoid them:

1. They don’t believe they can succeed

Often times sales people do not believe they have what it takes to succeed. This can be especially true for new salespeople. I know, because I was in this same boat 18 years ago as a brand new sales rep.

In my book, The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry, I discuss what it took to go from starting my career with 12 straight no-sales to becoming one of the high achievers in a very short time frame.

If someone on your team is struggling to believe, match them up with one of your top reps as a mentor. Show them the evidence of success, and have one of your top reps show them step-by-step how to do it.

James Allen once said, “The will to do springs from the knowledge that we can do.”

If sales people can see evidence of success and learn to emulate the habits that create superior results, sooner or later they will achieve those results.  Then they will believe as well.

2. They’re not provided proper training and onboarding

My boss often says, “You live with what you launch”. In terms of team and employee leadership, there is no truer application of this than in onboarding and initial training. This is one of the biggest developmental gaps for most people managers, especially those who are new to leadership.

Put yourself in the shoes of a new hire.

New hires are joining a new company, and they really don’t know what to expect. They could be doing a new industry altogether. Furthermore, they may have even turned down a counter-offer from their prior company.

There’s a built-in level of apprehension that all new hires have. They’re trying to figure out a new job while also hoping they made the right decision joining a new company.

So get them started out on the right foot. Make sure all their electronics and email addresses work and are ready for them, have their desk (if working in the office) set up and ready, make sure everyone on the team personally welcomes them, and have their first two weeks mapped out impeccably.

Most companies have the HR and paperwork piece handled. However, making someone feel welcome and their first day memorable involves a lot more than supplying an I-9 and a W-4.

3. They shouldn’t be in sales in the first place

When interviewing candidates, I love asking how they got into sales. The answer to the question usually gives me a good indication if we should proceed with the candidate.

Some candidates will give an entrepreneurial or business-type response, how they’ve always been a go-getter, are goal-oriented, want to control their own paycheck, want to get paid what they’re worth, have unlimited income potential, or answers like that.

Those people are often times a good fit to continue in the hiring process.

The other most common answer is: “Well, I got to the end of my senior year in college, and I always got good grades, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do still. Then, I went and met with a counselor (also insert, professor, grandparent, friend, aunt, or uncle, or best friend’s mom or dad), and they told me I should get in to sales because I’m good with people.”

Now, that doesn’t mean I would automatically rule that person out. And there are plenty of top sales people who stumbled their way into this profession. But make sure they are in sales for the right reason and have a full understanding of the grind before moving them forward.

As the great Tom Hopkins likes to say, “Sales is the highest paid hard work, and the lowest paid easy work.”

Sales is hard, and it’s not for everyone. As hiring managers, we owe it to prospective employees to make sure the business, and the effort and actions required, are truly for them.

4. They don’t follow the training

It amazes me how many people try to reinvent the wheel. This sets them back in the training process and doesn’t set them up for success.

With most activities or endeavors, there have already been trailblazers who have figured things out, usually the hard way. Sales is definitely one of those endeavors. Even if the company training program isn’t that great, there’s usually immense value in following it.

Follow the program, at least initially. After about 100 appointments or customer interactions, you can adjust if necessary. In my experience, most sales companies do a pretty solid job at training new hires.

Sure, some don’t. But if the company has been around for a while, generally the training program is good enough to achieve some level of success.

If the employee doesn’t follow the training, that’s another story. As a sales leader, you must also sell the new hire on the necessity of following the program and ensure that happens.

5. They don’t take enough action

Sales people need to know the volume of specific actions that are expected of them, and they should also be shown the exact steps that top producers are taking daily.

This was one of the mistakes I made when I was new in sales. After I got through my initial training, I was eventually making some sales. However, my overall revenue wasn’t growing as rapidly as it could because I wasn’t doing enough appointments.

To get more appointments, I needed do engage in a higher volume of prospecting activities, which back then was phone calls. I needed to make four times the amount of phone calls than I was.

So I went field training with one of the top reps (shoutout to Adam Curchack), watched him do four sales appointments and watched him do phone time. After that day, I realized that I wasn’t working nearly as hard as I thought I was or needed to.

6. They’re not given proper ongoing coaching

Coaching makes all the difference in the world, especially in sales. Coaching can come from several different angles.

Sales people need feedback and coaching, regardless of how tenured they are. Hall of Fame quarterbacks have coaches and coordinators. Baseball players have hitting, pitching, and position coaches. Golfers have swing coaches.

Sales people need coaching too. At all levels.

A common mistake sales managers make is not actively coaching their best people as hard as they do their newer employees and under performers. Big mistake.

The best people want to be challenged, coached, and developed. One of the keys to having a high-achieving organization is to have the most talented people possible.

Getting the people is one thing. But work with them. Develop them. And don’t stop coaching.

7. They’re not held accountable to adapting

In today’s world, being adaptable wins over most other qualities. It’s right up there with work ethic in my book, especially in the new world of sales we live in.

Sales today isn’t done the same way it was 10 or 15 years ago, and that’s in all businesses. We can thank the online world for much of that.

Markets…customers…competitors…technology…education…economics… it all changes over time. If your sales people aren’t nimble and able to make adjustments to how they approach their business and customers, they won’t make it long term.

The best read on adaptability is Who Moved My Cheese by the late Spencer Johnson. It’s a classic on how to deal with change, both personally and professionally.

I’ve bought several copies for my sales teams over the last few years, and it’s always been a hit. If you, or people on your team have already read it, have them read it again.

8. They quit

The harsh reality is, a lot of sales people are not succeeding at high levels because they’ve simply given up. They may not have formally resigned, but they’ve quit.

How many people on your team have quit?

If you feel this is the case for anyone on your team, you need to work to re-engage them, or they need to leave. Maybe there’s an opening in a different department, or even on a different sales team.

Or maybe they need to exit the organization, which can be a positive thing for all parties, if the situation truly isn’t a good fit.

However, most sales people don’t quit, unless several of the first 7 points in this article ring true. Engage with your team, and make sure that doesn’t happen.

What are your best ways to ensure salespeople succeed, thrive, and develop under your watch? Please feel free to provide comments below.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

Posted in business success, leadership, sales, Sales management, Sales tips

3 Questions all Sales People Should Ask

Are your sales initiatives making progress, and are your current projects moving forward? Or are you stuck and can’t figure out why?

If you find yourself in the latter category, the solution may be a lot easier than you think.

Sales efforts stall out for a variety of reasons, ranging from not having a need for the product, not liking the sales rep, not being able to get all important parties on board, among several other reasons.

However, if you want to increase your odds, ask yourself these 3 questions and ensure your sales communications and meetings also follow these themes:

1. What is my customer or prospect’s agenda?

So many sales people make the mistake of starting with the mindset of having to sell the customer their product or service, and sell it to them now. Why wouldn’t they? After all, you need to hit your quota, right?

Even if your product or service fits into a customer’s need, that doesn’t necessarily mean it does right now.

Try this: instead of walking into your next 10 sales meetings with the mindset of selling your customer what you have, take the mindset of finding out what their initiatives are, what problems they’re trying to fix in their business, and what the time frame looks like for them.

2. How can I align my strategy to theirs?

Your answer may still be your product or service, especially if you are in a business structure where you only carry one product or service. But you’ll at least have a better idea of how it may need to look for your prospect to move forward with you.

If you sell a portfolio of products, really listening to your customer, specifically the pain points they may be encounter with their current vendor or product offering, will be highly beneficial.

In today’s world, especially in big business, most deals involve multiple decision makers within highly complex organizations. Often times, that means projects and budgets are mapped out well in advance, sometimes by several years.

For sales people, this means the sales cycle can be very, very long for many products and technologies. Always longer than your company wants to see too, by the way. So the best way to shorten this cycle as much as possible is to get a solid understanding of what the customer’s process, projects, timelines, and key players look like, and align your initiatives to what they’re already doing.

The other way around will not be as successful. I can 100% guarantee you of that.

3. What does a successful relationship look like to them?

Have you ever asked your customer what they expect of you, and how you can be a great partner to them? It may sound like a pretty elementary question to ask, and because of that, most people don’t ask it.

Most people assume they know what the customer wants. Most are probably incorrect.

During your next meeting with your top customer, say something like, “Mary, I want to make sure that me and my company are great partners to you and your company. May I ask you how we’re doing so far, and what thoughts you have on how we can be a better partner to you?”

Again, it sounds simple, but I bet not many people have asked your customer that question lately. And if your competitor hasn’t, you’ve already got a leg up.

What are your best strategies for aligning your message to your customer’s agenda? Feel free to comment below.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

Posted in leadership, sales, Sales management, Sales tips | Tagged , ,

8 Keys to Working from Home

IMG_5873Working from home is a rapidly growing trend these days. Otherwise known as “telecommuting”, more and more companies are structuring for employees to work from home at times.

According to a 2017 report by Global Workplace Analytics, 3.9 million U.S. employees telecommute at least half of the work week, a 115 percent increase from 2005. In over half of the metropolitan U.S. markets, telecommuting exceeds public transportation.

For obvious reasons, employees love it.

If done right, working from home has significant benefits, both for employers and employees. However, I’ve always questioned the efficiency and would bet there’s a huge variability from one employee to the next in “telecommuting” production.

As someone who’s had a home office for almost 20 years, I’ve lived through the benefits and the challenges of working from home. The convenience of working from home is great.

But there are watchouts.

Here are 8 tips for maximizing your efficiency when working from your home office:

1. Set up a good space

In recent years, much has been written about setting up the best office space. Some have advocated filling an office with motivating, inspiring objects that put you in a positive mood. My office has some of that.

For me, the two most important factors have been a space that can be quiet when you need it and with good lighting, preferably natural lighting. When we first moved to our house nearly six years ago, my office walls were lined with dark, natural oak wood. As hard as it was to do, when we remodeled our house last year, we painted the entire office white.

That decision has brightened up the entire space, and I think it’s helped make me more productive when I’m in there. It also creates a much more positive, uplifting vibe.

2. Be proactive before the workweek

Use weekends to catch up on non-work chores, like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning the house, and doing yard work. Don’t procrastinate on those things because you’re home a couple days during the week.

Just because you’re home during work hours doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be operating at the same productivity as at the office.

Sometimes it’s not always possible to accomplish these items and also spend time with family, especially if you have kids into sports.

For the items that can’t be completed during the weekend, consider delegating those items. For us, the yard and pool get delegated. I love doing yard work, but carving out 3-4 hours every weekend for yard work just doesn’t work for my family.

3. Establish clear expectations and boundaries

One of the benefits of working from home is being around family during the workweek and not being away. There are many times I’ve completed expense reports on a play room floor, booked travel while eating lunch with the kids, or worked on a report on the couch.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

However, when you need to concentrate or need it quiet for a call or teleconference, you have to set those expectations and make the accommodations necessary, especially if you have younger kids.

4. Plan your days – don’t wing it

Unless you’re in a business that’s highly unpredictable, plan your days out ahead of time. Instead of working from to-do lists, put those items into your calendar.

Some businesses are more reactive in nature. However, even in those businesses you can minimize the amount of random calls and fire drills that surface.

A couple years ago I was dealing with this exact issue. I’d have a full schedule of calls and tasks to accomplish, but I’d be inundated with calls all day long. When I started logging the calls that came in, and why, I realized most of them were from my direct reports.

Most weren’t urgent.

So I communicated the expectation with my team in terms of what items were urgent and needed my attention, and which items needed to wait until our 1-on-1 calls. It made all the difference and freed up an abundance of time.

Take a close look at what consumes your day. Are you running your business and team, or is it running you?

5. Block out free time

It’s okay to block out an hour to have lunch with your family, or to meet a friend for lunch. Office-based employees do this type of stuff all the time.

When I first started working from home, I never did this. I’d hole up in my office all day, trying to maximize every minute of every day. In terms of productivity, it was great, but in some ways that work model was counterproductive. It’s definitely counterproductive to your family.

Additionally, people working from home don’t have a commute to or from those days, so most likely, the work day starts earlier anyways. If you’re diligent about starting early and sticking to your plan, there’s time to take an hour for lunch with your family every now and then.

6. Minimize distractions

Recently, a friend of mine was telling me he negotiated with his company to work from home two days a week to avoid office distractions. His reason: he couldn’t get anything done because people stopped by his office all day.

I’m sure that’s a real challenge in an office environment, especially if you have folks reporting to you, directly and indirectly. However, I’d argue the challenge is even greater at home, where no bosses are around.

With no supervision, the culprits for most people are social media, radio, and television. I’m not going to say don’t look at these things on home office days, but be cognizant of how much time you’re on them.

7. Set a cutoff time – and stick to it

There are certainly times when you’re trapped in your office, and it seems like you’ll never be done working for the day. But that should be the exception, not the norm.

Have you ever noticed how productive you are the day before leaving for vacation? Practice that mindset every day, have a solid understanding of what you can accomplish in 9 or 10 hours of work, and get to it.

Once your cutoff time comes, leave all electronics in there, close the door, and walk out. No employer will argue with that level of effort.

8. Include when possible

I’ve always believed one of the greatest benefits to working from home is your kids get to see you working hard. It’s important for kids to see the hard work their parents put into creating the life they have, as long as all of their needs are being met.

In their earlier years, they won’t understand it. But over time, it will start to sink in.

As long as it’s not top-secret information you’re working on, I’ve found it helpful to share with your family some of the projects and challenges you’re currently working through. And don’t forget to share the wins.

Some may disagree with this, but I’ve always believed that being as open, transparent, and communicative as possible yields the best experience for all. The key is open, transparent communication.

Working from home, and balancing the responsibilities that encompass it, is not easy, but it’s possible. My family and I had grown accustomed to it, and it works out extremely well for us.

If you take these tips and apply them to your home, office, and family situation, I’m confident this area of your life will work out well.

What are your best tips for staying efficient while working at home? Please feel free to provide comments below.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

Posted in business success, sales, Sales management, Sales tips

How to Never Forget Someone’s Name

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In his famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie says, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

When you meet someone new, how often do you have an entire conversation with that person, learn a ton of information about them, their family, job, interests, likes and dislikes, and then go to leave, only to forget their name?

It happens. But it shouldn’t.

If you find this happening to you, it’s most likely because you’re too worried about what YOU are feeling, thinking, or going to say, and not what the other person has said to you.

Follow these five habits, and you’ll never forget someone’s name again:

1. Repeat it back to them

Simple enough. You stick out your hand, say your name. They say theirs back. You say, “Nice to meet you, John.”

2. Ask them how it’s spelled

This one doesn’t work all the time, especially if they have a common name where it would be really awkward to ask.

For instance, my wife’s name is Jessica, so no one ever asks her how to spell her name. However, people always ask me if my name is spelled with one T or two. That one works well.

3. Say it to yourself three times

Repeating their name to yourself three times helps ingrain it into your brain, and it also forces you to focus on it, and not on what you’re going to say or ask next.

4. Introduce them to someone

Often times, we meet people at social gatherings where others are around as well. This is a perfect example where if you don’t remember someone’s name, and there’s an opportunity to make an introduction, you just downright look bad by not remembering their name.

5. Use it in conversation

This is to be used sparingly. We’ve all seen people that go to conferences or read a book on sales, and you can tell they’re trying WAY too hard to execute key fundamentals they just learned.

However, using a person’s name 2-3 times in a 10-minute conversation is not overkill at all.

Commit to the process outlined above, and you’ll never walk away from a first-encounter blanking on the person’s name. You’ll separate yourself from the rest, leave a solid first impression, and create a habit that will benefit you for years to come.

What are your best tips for remembering people’s names? Feel free to comment with thoughts and feedback below.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

Posted in business success, sales, Sales management, Sales tips | Tagged , ,

7 Tips for Getting Past the Gatekeeper

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In sales, access is everything.

If you can’t get in front of the decision makers who can buy your product or service, you will never be a top-tiered sales person. Harshly put, those is sales who can’t reach decision makers usually don’t last long in the industry.

One of the greatest skills a salesperson can possess is a knack for befriending and getting past the gatekeeper. All top sales people possess this quality, especially those who are skilled at building long terms relationships.

Below are 7 tips to befriending the gatekeeper so he or she will WANT to get you in front of your target audience:

1. Smile

People who smile a lot appear friendlier and are considered more likeable. It’s a proven fact. Leading with a smile is the best way to disarm even the most stone-cold secretary. It’s hard to stay mad at someone when they’re smiling at you, even if they’re interrupting your day.

2. Remember their name

In his famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie says a person’s name is the most important word to them. As a salesperson, if you remember someone’s name, especially those at the lower levels of the org chart, you have separated yourself from 90% of the sales people who call on that company. Whether you put it into your CRM or have a different note taking system, make sure to write down and remember the name of the person at the front desk at every company you call on.

3. Ask for help

By nature, most people like to help others. My favorite way of engaging a receptionist at a business is to introduce myself, get their name, and then say, “I’m hoping you could help me out today.” As long as you do the first couple things right (and smile, or course), most people will genuinely be receptive to what you have to say.

4. Clearly state your purpose

The fastest way to get screened out is to be unprepared and sound like a nervous rambler. These gatekeepers see it all, and they can usually determine within 10 seconds of you opening your mouth if you are worth her boss’ time or not. Have the purpose of your visit scripted and practiced, and when the opportunity presents itself, deliver it confidently.

5. Sell them first

The late Jim Rohn used to say, “You never know who’s in the audience.” When you’re making your first visit into a business, you never know who’s who, nor do you know the potential influence everyone has. We’ve all heard the famous stories of the janitors who are best friends with CEOs of companies, so you must assume that everyone you encounter in the company has some level of decision-making power. When it comes to the gatekeeper, you don’t need to give them granular details on your product initially, but they should know what you have, how it may fit, and why it’s imperative she gets you in front of the top leaders.

6. Send a Thank You

Hand written thank you notes are really a lost art. It has become so easy to send an email or a social media message to someone, which is how most people follow up nowadays. Often times, they send the message before they’ve even left the parking lot of the company. Get some nice stationary and send thank you notes, especially to the people who get you in front of the key decision makers. Believe me, you’ll be one of the only sales people who does.

7. Keep in Touch

Make sure to keep in touch with the gatekeepers who help you, especially if you are in a specialized industry where people move around a lot. In medical sales, it’s not uncommon in a particular specialty to have hospital or office staff move to different facilities in the same town or area. Keeping connected with these people will make them feel appreciated, and it can also help you in the future. You can’t have enough friends in this world.

If you commit to following these 7 tips and acting on them, you will find yourself in a lot more meetings with the key decision makers you’re trying to meet with. Additionally, you’ll watch your sales results climb as well.

Please feel free to provide comments and/or your personal experience on this topic in the comments below.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

Posted in business success, sales, Sales management, Sales tips | Tagged , ,

5 Tips to Ensuring Your Voice is Heard

Have you ever noticed how some people are just easy to listen to? In meetings, they are always the ones whose opinions are highly coveted. In networking events, they can work a room like no other.

When they speak to their children and families, you can tell they are being heard and respected.

Why do people listen to them, when it often seems so hard for the rest of us?

The truth is, it’s not about their job title, their financial stature, or even their physical stature, for that matter. Although they may have reached a high level of success, it is the communication skills these people possess that make them effective communicators and garner the respect and ears of those around them.

If you aspire to be someone people listen to, consider these 5 best practices:

1. Hold Stronger Eye Contact

Shakespeare wrote, “The eyes are the window of the soul.” The first place to get someone’s attention is nonverbally.

Most people make weak eye contact, which comes off as less confident. The best leaders also make the best eye contact with those around them.

2. Speak with Brevity

Don’t be a rambler. Ramblers are not respected, and they get tuned out by most after their first five words.

Know what you want to say, and be direct and to the point. If people want clarification and need a more in-depth explanation, they will ask you to expand.

3. Listen ’til the Last Drop

When you talk to people, are you listening to create your response, or are you listening to understand? Do you find yourself accidentally interrupting others while they’re speaking?

The best leaders never do that, and it’s something we all must strive to work on.

Try this: during your next few conversations, listen and pause until it almost gets uncomfortable, or until the person asks you what you think. It may feel really awkward, but that’s really listening.

4. Present Solutions

Teddy Roosevelt used to say, “Complaining without a solution is whining.”

Identifying problems and roadblocks is easy. Everyone does it. However, the true leaders are the people who identify the challenges, and then throw out an idea or two to OVERCOME THEM.

They may be great ideas, and they may not be. That’s not really the point.

The key is: they focus their attention and effort on solving the problems, not dwelling on them.

5. Remove Yourself from the Equation

Before presenting an idea or voicing a concern, ask yourself: “If I had no personal stake in this, would I still have the same concern?” If the answer is no, then you should re-think what you’re about to say.

It’s usually pretty easy to sniff out how people are personally benefiting in situations. True leaders approach situations objectively and understand they will gain by helping others achieve their wants and needs.

Remember the famous Zig Ziglar quote: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will help enough other people get what they want.”

Practice these five steps until they’re second-nature, and you’ll find it much easier to get others’ attention.

What are your best practices to getting people’s attention? Please feel free to provide comments below.


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

Posted in sales

Reading List: February 2018

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Here are the books I read in February of 2018, along with key learnings and takeaways from each:

1. The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team THREE Sniper’s True Account of the Battle of Ramadi by Kevin Lacz

Great book worth reading. What I really enjoyed about this book is the level of detail, and especially the emotional side, of what it’s like being an American soldier on deployment in a war zone. These guys are the true American heroes.

2. Why You Do the Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships by Dr. Tim Clinton & Dr. Gary Sibcy

Often times our actions and reactions are a result of our previous life experiences, especially those from childhood. In this book, the authors identify four different personality patterns that, when we learn them, make us better connectors and communicators with others.

3. The Potential Principle by Mark Sanborn

Mark Sanborn was the keynote at our national sales meeting last month, and I was grateful to get a copy of his new book. I’ve followed his work since reading The Fred Factor nearly 20 years ago, and I really enjoyed this book as well. Even if you’re at the top of your game, Mark Sanborn shows you how to take your game to the next level.

4. Give Your Kids a Break: Parenting with Compassion for You and your Children by Kim Fredrickson

This book should be required reading for all parents. As a parent with pre-teenagers and a toddler, the advice was very fitting for the portion of the journey my wife and I are about to encounter. Her insight on the psychology of children is enlightening.

Book Goal in 2018: 50

Progress after February: 9/50 (18%)


Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

 

Posted in sales