Self-esteem & Sales


My dog runs our office. Or so she thinks. Sadie is one of those dogs who thinks the world is her oyster. Everyone who comes through the door must surely be there to see her. If we could only “can” her self-esteem and market it, we’d all retire early.

High self-esteem is a key ingredient for success in any profession, especially sales. Having the confidence to approach high risk situations, not letting “no” get to you, and moving out of comfort zones, it’s all part of the job. Unfortunately many people look for the magic one-liners thinking this will get them the business. They focus on technique forgetting that success is a combination of having the right attitude, the right behaviors and backing all that up with good professional sales skills (technique). Of course at the core of all of this is how you see yourself. . your self concept . . your self-esteem.

There is no magic when it comes to improving self-esteem and confidence. Depending on how you feel about yourself, you could have a long journey ahead of you to create a strong self -image. But the first rule of thumb is to realize that you have a choice. I call it the “You Pick Principle”. Simply put: Do you want to feel lousy about yourself, or do you want to feel good? You pick. Let that sink in. You aren’t a victim in some “feelings” scam, so give yourself permission to believe that you get to decide how you feel about yourself. That’s a pretty empowering thought.

So when you’ve done something really dumb . . . blown a sale, been a cranky parent, forgotten Aunt Harriet’s birthday . . . give yourself a break. Don’t take it personally. You can mess up on the role side of your life and still be a decent person, worthy of high self-esteem. And like my dog, if you are brimming with self-confidence the rest of the world may just see you that way, which reinforces how you feel about yourself. So wag your own tale, and pick a self-concept that will get you the success you deserve.

This week’s sales training tip is brought to you by Hungerford, Creekmore & Co, LLC, an authorized Licensee of the Sandler Sales Institute. Dennis Hungerford can be reached at (541) 382-4316 or

Tips for Small Business

Easy Steps to Better Listening


People have a very strong need to have other people hear them, understand them and process the information they give. This tremendous need to be listened to is crucial to human relations in any business situation. When listening is purposely withheld, the self-esteem of the customer or employee often suffers. Ignoring this important fact can lose clients, customers, and employees.

Our society is bombarded with messages. Because people couldn’t possibly give their full attention to all of these messages, they become selective listeners. Thus, information overload is one cause of poor listening skills. Also, when a subject seems difficult—above one’s level of ability—people will often fail to listen, when, in fact, if they had listened they would have seen how clear and understandable the message actually was. The opposite often happens as well. When people are in a group listening to a single speaker, they can easily allow their minds to wander. One reason for this tendency is that we have a capacity for listening at a speed that far exceeds the ability of the fastest speaker to speak. How you spend that extra time and energy often determines your effectiveness as a listener.

Sometimes, people in the workplace simply refuse to listen to co-workers, often out of prejudice. The process of doing business can be hampered by prejudice. “Red flag” words and expressions can bring an immediate emotional response from the listener. Clearly, there are many reasons why people do not hear what their co-workers are really saying. Becoming an “active listener” means getting beyond those reasons.

You can become a better listener with just a few basic steps. All of us can change our listening habits, but as with all habits, these changes take time and effort.

1. Stop talking. The ears work better if the mouth is closed.

2. Get Rid of Distractions. Distractions can be external—such as noise and movements near you—or internal, e.g., thoughts and emotions.

3. Try to Enter into the Speaker’s Reality. Temporarily put aside your needs and try to understand where the speaker is “coming from.”

4. Use Pauses for Reflecting. When a speaker pauses, use the extra time to make associations in your mind with other things that have been said. Avoid the temptation to let your mind wander.

5. Listen for Main Ideas. When listening to a public speaker or talking one-on-one, make sure you understand repeated ideas or main points.

6. Give feedback. Eye contact and facial expressions as well as responding with “I” statements are examples of feedback.

7. Listen for Feelings as Well as for Facts. Listen to not only the facts being spoken but the nonverbal messages being sent by the speaker. Examples of nonverbal messages are vocal tone, body posture and stance. All of this requires careful listening and the full attention of the audience.

8. Encourage Others to Talk. This allows openness between speaker and audience, as well as clarity of the speaker’s intent.

Use of these eight easy steps will help improve your listening, which in turn will make you a more effective manager and entrepreneur.

Lowell Lamberton is on the faculty at COCC where he works with local managers in improving their communication and leadership skills. He can be reached at (541) 383-7714.

Tips for Small Business

“But We Don’t Have Any Drivers!”

Is Customer Service Alive or Dead in Central Oregon?


Kyle is a friend of mine who owns a chain of lumberyards in the Seattle area. He mentioned he was having trouble with getting employees to be service oriented. Recently, after a day of numerous complaints about late and missed deliveries, he went to his dispatcher to find out what was the problem. “But we don’t have any drivers!” was the dispatcher’s response. Kyle asked “Why, did everyone else walk to work today?”

I recently had a problem with a local auto repair business with the end result being a credit to my charge card. I stopped by to see the owner when the problem occurred. Not being present, an employee mentioned I would have to return later. I called a few days later and was told by the owner he would look into it and call me right back. I never heard from him. I called again a week later and he asked me to bring the paperwork by again. When told the problem he said “No problem, bring the paperwork by and I will reimburse you.” I asked, “Why don’t you just credit my charge card.” He finally agreed to do just that.

I tried to make a reservation with two different travel agents this past year using their e-mail. In both instances they did not return my electronic request. One of them admitted they only used e-mail for dealing with airlines and tour companies and not for his retail customers. (I wonder why he puts the e-mail address on his business card?)

A recent repair at a computer shop left me with my old computer not working and a used unit given to me as a replacement. When the used CPU wouldn’t attach to my monitor, I was told by the salesperson I would need to go to a computer store for an adapter. (I’m thinking, “Aren’t you a computer store?”)

Is customer service alive or dead in Central Oregon? More importantly, how is the service at your business? Ever notice how often people in Central Oregon respond “No problem” when you ask them for something at a business. That’s the problem! Why aren’t they responding “I would be happy to get that for you” or “Thanks for asking”? They don’t have a true service mindset. They don’t realize how customers interpret interactions at their business. Owners need to script what they expect people to say and do under a variety of conditions. But you can’t write the script until you know what is important to the customer. You must know their “Moments of Truth”. That’s why more and more businesses are using secret shoppers to analyze their customer service interactions. When was the last time you had someone “shop” your business?

Jim Kress teaches business classes at COCC while also working with local businesses to help them improve their service and marketability. He can be reached at (541) 383-7712.


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