April is National Stress Awareness Month

Last year, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducted  a stress study and determined the top 7 causes of stress in the U.S.


As this Statistic Brain screenshot shows, everything from job pressure to poor eating habits to excessive media consumption can create stress.




Understanding stress can be just as difficult as stopping it. Stress is tricky, something that is a trigger for one person, isn’t a trigger for another person.  There are things that don’t stress you out but they send your co-worker into a panic.  It’s important to identify what sets you off so you can better handle your stress.   Bringing stress to work or leaving with it is not healthy in the long run.


Sometimes we get so busy with our day to day, keeping our head above water, that we don’t pay attention to some of the signs that we are really stressed out!  We do things to “manage” our stress so we can keep producing but we don’t focus enough on the root cause to eliminate the stress.




You don’t have to change all your stress-inducing habits too quickly (because the thought of transition can be stressful in its own right), but you should at least be aware of what makes you more irritable at work, why you’re easily fatigued when you get home, and what exactly causes stress to go from being a one-time thing into a worrisome pattern. Once you know, then work to eliminate the stress over time.


Find more helpful answers in the first part of our Stress Management series, which you can view in its entirety right now as our Featured Course of the Month!

How to Avoid The Q2 Sales Blues

Can you believe it?  I don’t know about you, but Q1 flew by for me!  Time flies when you’re having fun and when you’re in the zone!  So how did everyone do? Have you looked at your workplan or Q1 goals to measure progress and effectiveness?  Were you able to close last-minute 2013 prospects that rolled into 2014? Did your cold call volumes increase? Did you increase the number of face-to-face meetings with prospects?


If you missed your goals or quotas then it’s time to look at what went wrong.  It’s better and easier to determine what went wrong now, and it also gives you the remainder of the year to fix it.




Here are some things to take a look at as you prepare for Q2.  First, take a look at your sales process – where did you get “stuck” the most?  Talk with your supervisor or co-workers and see if they are experiencing similar problems and what solutions they’ve deployed.  Next, take a look at your targets – were they qualified targets?  Did you lose time running down leads when you really should have passed?  Take a look at the leads in your pipeline and make goals for each prospect.  Now, be honest, were hot stumped with objections that you received from the prospects?  You know real “selling” doesn’t begin until you heard the word “no”.  By researching your leads, determining their buying motivation and really listening to what they say ( and don’t say) you can better guess at what kind of objection you’re going to hear.  This allows you to be better prepared to address the objection and move the sale to close.


Here are some other tips you can use to combat the Q2 sales blues.


Create a Sense of Urgency


How many times have you called a prospect and they said, “YES!”  Yeah, it doesn’t happen that often.  Not everyone’s a buyer at first. It’s part of your job to convince them that your solution not only meets their needs, but they will see additional beenfits on top of that. Sometimes this calls for a sense of professional urgency versus hard closing. Let‘s take a look at both tactics.


Professional urgency is knowing how to get from the initial call to the close in a quick, but respectful manner. That means keeping a consistent, friendly tone every time you follow-up. That means carefully crafting emails that are well-thought out reminders, not threatening demands of  “Hey, do it!” You need to move each prospect carefully and quickly through the  sales cycle.


The other side of urgency is the hard close. It’s trying to force the issue, force the sale with a barrage of emails that annoy instead of inform. It’s taking a terse or condescending tone when you leave a voicemail. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes, when done correctly, a hard close can work and not come off as rude.  However, most of the time, all a hard close does is drive your prospect into the arms of the competition.


Put Rejection in Your Rear View


Like I said, usually when you call on a prospect, the first thing you hear is “No.” No one likes being rejected, but it comes with the territory, sales territory that is.  Cold calling will leave you mentally exhausted and ready to give up because you’ll hear “No” more times than you’ll hear “Yes.”


Sales requires a thick skin to battle the gauntlet of rejection. You have to forget about the hang-ups and and rude behaviors.  Remember the benefits of being persistent? Persistence pays off in sales just like it does in other areas of our professional and personal lives. But persistence doesn’t work if you’re rehashing the days of rejection with your co-workers.  Putting yourself down, holding a grudge or dwelling on the negative with peers will only dig a bigger hole in your Q2 productivity.


Keep a positive attitude while remaining professionally urgent with missed Q1 opportunities and turn Q2 into a bright spot for not just your quota, but your overall performance improvement.


Have you seen the latest addition to our award-winning sales content, yet? Check out our brand new series, “Territory Development”!



See the entire clip of “The Realities of Selling in the 21st Century” right now with a free trial of Thinkzoom!

Check Out Our New Sales Series, Territory Development!

Taking control of your territory is a big responsibility. You must master the ability to manage and prioritize your territory, determine the best way to keep your CRM updated, network with people in the community, and oh yeah, continue to sell and pitch clients!


With our new sales series, Territory Development, you’ll find the answers and techniques to help grow your sales territory the right way. Get a sneak peek at our largest sales content release this year!



Sign up for now for a free trial of Thinkzoom to view one of the courses, “The Realities of Selling in the 21st Century.”

Watch How Off-the-shelf eLearning is Made at ej4

A lot goes into making off-the-shelf eLearning impactful for the viewer. From subject matter experts to scripting to shooting and editing, take a look at how ej4 creates short, engaging off-the-shelf eLearning that sticks.



Have a look at our off-the-shelf library right now with a free 15-day trial of Thinkzoom!

The Cost of Poor Project Management

Have you considered the cost of poor project management on your organization?  When I say “cost,” of course I mean the bottom line, but I’m also including the soft cost: people costs.



 I get to cap the week off with statistics about the costs of poor project management. So let’s get right to the numbers, shall we?


Below are two separate studies on the costs behind inefficient project management.


First off, there’s the study done by PricewaterhouseCoopers.  During their lengthy study on 10,640 projects from over 300 companies, across 30 countries, they found that only 2.5% of the companies successfully completed 100% of their projects.


OK, but what about when you focus on a specific industry?


That’s what the Harvard Business Review did with their research. They concerned themselves with project management trends in the IT industry. They analyzed around 1,471 IT projects and discovered that 1 in 6 projects had a cost overrun of 200%, and a schedule overrun of nearly 70%.


However you try to analyze it, that’s a lot of wasted resources!


But what’s that equate to in dollars? Well, it’s estimated that the rate of IT project failure falls between 5-15%, with total labor cost losses between $50-150 billion in the United States alone. That’s money wasted because projects aren’t managed tightly enough to be completed on time or within budget.


And beyond dollars, poor project execution impacts many parties. An unsuccessful project can break trust with customers. Lose that trust, and you might as well hope for the best on future business with that customer. Trust is also lost internally when a project fails. Members of project teams begin pointing fingers, creating animosity, losing respect for one another, and building grudges against stakeholders or project managers. Failed projects break morale, and create disruptions in future projects before they start.


Project management can break down in many places. But it has been in my experience that ultimately, a project fails for two reasons: either from poor planning or poor communication, or maybe both.


I’ll admit, I’m sometimes guilty of rushing through the planning phase to get a contract signed or a project launched, only to realize later that hurrying through the details meant dealing with larger issues midway through the project.


On the flip side, I’ve worked on projects where we carefully hammer out specifics with stakeholders and team leaders, and keep communication lines open and efficient as possible. Nine times out of ten, those projects should, and do, run smoothly. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise, either. Projects with thorough planning and reliable communication have the ability to remain successful even when occasional hiccups try to derail progress. And let’s face it, there’s always potential for some part of a project to stall or not run according to plan.  No company’s immune to it.


With that said, what are some other hard or soft costs you’ve experienced as a consequence of poor project management? More importantly, what steps have you taken to prevent similar costs in the future?


For more tips, check out “Managing and Tracking” from our Project Management series on Thinkzoom. Start your free 15-day trial now!