Modern Solutions For Managing Information Overload

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” ~ Herbert A. Simon

Every day, our brains process massive loads of information. From nonstop news and social media to client emails, proposals and contracts, the information overload seems inescapable. Just like computers with too many tabs open tend to run slower, we can also get bogged down. And just like computers, we are more prone to errors when there is too much going on.

So, how can you help your sales reps better comprehend and synthesize all the data that comes their way? According to Trish Sammer, a writer who contributes to the Atlassian blog, it comes down to organizing and prioritizing your flow of information so that you have what you need, when you need it without getting mired in extraneous information.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Sammer’s tips for managing information overload.

Create shareable digital buckets. Whether you use Trello, Asana, Google Drive or another tool, a great way to manage information overload is giving your sales reps a central place to share and find information. When everyone knows where to go for things like plans and status reports, you help free up their mind to work on the task at hand, says Sammer.

Establish focus time. Another way to get information overload under control is to set aside focused blocks of time. When your brain is distracted by the constant pings from Slack, texts and news alerts, you end up depleting your energy. Switching into focused work uses less energy. To help your team manage notifications, Sammer suggests using an app like Clockwise that integrates into the calendar to find periods of time for deep work.

Stay mindful about mindless scrolling. While you may intend to spend just a minute or two scanning a favorite news site or industry blog, you probably get sucked in for longer. That’s because web content is highly optimized to grab and keep attention, says Sammer. She likes to use a tool like Pocket that allows you to bookmark articles to read later. It’s a simple way to manage information overload and stay focused on the work in front of you.

Give the brain a different focus. You may encourage your sales reps to sign off at a certain time, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to do it. Instead of making unplugging a strict mandate, Sammer suggests giving your team something else to focus on. If you want them to unplug over the weekend, for example, challenge them to complete a home project or play a sport outside. These breaks give the brain a neural reset, which means everyone will be sharper and more productive at work.

Information can empower your team—or overwhelm it. To get ahead of information overload, it’s important to know how to manage the demands on your attention and time. Make it easy for your sales reps to share knowledge and find what they need. You can also use tools that help you track how you spend your time during the workday. Managing information requires commitment and patience, but it will help your team maximize their time and boost their productivity.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Trish Sammer is the interim managing editor for Atlassian.

Contact Ed at Island Media Services for all of you print and promotional product needs: - (336) 833-0682

Nine Strategies To Overcome Procrastination

“Happiness inspires productivity.” - Shawn Achor

Even the most focused and productive people procrastinate sometimes. You might find yourself scrolling social media or repeatedly checking emails instead of getting started on a project. Or you might decide to check the news or Skype a co-worker rather than make a sales call. Once you get off track, it can be difficult to re-focus.

To beat procrastination before it takes hold, Dr. Travis Bradberry, the award-winning co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, recommends taking control of your mood. When you get yourself in the right frame of mind with the right strategies, you can get things done and avoid going down the procrastination rabbit hole.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share nine ideas from Dr. Bradberry on how to push back the next time you feel like procrastinating.

1. Eliminate distractions
When you recognize the things that can distract you, whether that’s the ping of incoming e-mails or kids bursting into your office, you can make a plan to stay on track. For example, you could look up necessary emailed information before starting on your task and alert your family that you are working from a certain time until a certain time.

2. Get started
Even when you love what you do, it can sometimes be difficult to jump in. Once you get going, though, Dr. Bradberry notes that your mood improves dramatically. This helps you stay on task.

3. Break down your project
Feeling overwhelmed is a leading cause of procrastination. That’s why Dr. Bradberry advises finding smaller pieces of the task that you can quickly and easily accomplish. Those smaller tasks will add up and make the larger project not feel so intimidating.

4. Work in the right place
Another way to beat procrastination is to make sure you are working in the environment that is right for you. If you know you are distracted by the TV or you will feel tempted to stop and catch up on housework, commit to working in an area where you won’t get so distracted.

5. Celebrate the small things
Did you check off an item on your to-do list? Acknowledge the accomplishment. According to Dr. Bradberry, small victories build new androgen receptors in parts of the brain responsible for reward and motivation. By enjoying small victories, you build your confidence and momentum.

6. Be realistic
If you set unrealistic goals for your day, you will become discouraged and more apt to procrastinate. Dr. Bradberry says it’s smarter to get real about what you can accomplish in a given time period.

7. Fixate on the action you want
Rather than telling yourself, “I will not procrastinate. I will get this done today,” Dr. Bradberry recommends focusing on what you will do and how great you feel once you do it. This allows your mind to fixate on the action you want to take instead of the behavior you want to avoid.

8. Ditch perfectionism
Many professionals freeze up when it’s time to get started because they are waiting for the right inspiration or they know their ideas aren’t perfect. Unless you get started, you will never produce anything great. Avoid aiming for perfection and just get started on your project.

9. Focus on results
You may feel nervous before beginning a major task but think about how amazing you will feel when you complete the task and see the results.

Procrastination may bring relief in the moment, but in the long run, procrastination can severely limit your potential. Fortunately, like most habits, you can overcome procrastination. It helps to first understand why you are procrastinating. Then, you can think about how to apply the above strategies to get back on task. Procrastination happens, but you can prevent it from becoming the norm in your life.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the co-founder of TalentSmart, the world's leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training serving more than 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies.

Contact Ed at Island Media Services for all of you print and promotional product needs: - (336) 833-0682

Five Sales Skills Reps Need To Succeed Right Now

“People will try to convince you that you should keep empathy out of your career. Don’t accept this false premise.”
Tim Cook

Life as a sales professional looks different now than it did last year. With the pandemic disrupting traditional ways of doing business, sales reps need the right blend of soft and hard skills to succeed. Have you helped your sales reps adapt their skills to meet the moment? Tess Townsend, a writer for the Salesforce blog, says that now is a great time to refine some important skills.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we discuss Townsend’s thoughts on the five skills sales reps should develop now.

1. Empathy
This skill will take your reps far today and in the future. Train them to see things from the customer’s perspective and to be sensitive to each person’s unique situation. Instead of ending a sales call with an ask, consider closing with an open-ended question. Townsend suggests asking something like, “How is your business adjusting?” or “How has it been working from home for you and your team?” By sharing a little of your experience, you can help build a connection. For example, perhaps both you and your client are working while homeschooling kids. Look for ways to empathize to help authentically connect with the other person.

2. Data fluency
How often do you and your sales team look at important data, such as industry trends and territory data? While you do not need to be an expert in manipulating data, you should know how to analyze it for your sales team. For example, if you see that your reps are booking meetings in certain industries such as real estate or professional services, you can lean into these fields.

3. Customer research
According to Townsend, being able to build knowledge about your sales prospects is another key sales skill worth honing right now. She notes that reps in high-performing organizations are more than twice as likely to monitor customer purchase history and customer staffing changes than their underperforming counterparts.

4. A knack for communicating virtually
In a time when most sales meetings occur over the phone or via a video call, your sales reps should work on developing their virtual presence. Make sure their computer is set up to run video calls, ensure they have proper internet connect, and test the picture to make sure it isn’t blurry. You can look at getting your reps an external mic or webcam, when necessary. Train your reps to keep a light source in front of their face and to keep their camera positioned at eye level, adds Townsend. And to be considerate of your clients’ needs, always ask if they prefer a video call or phone call.

5. The ability to build relationships
Sales is still all about relationships, even though you may not see your customers face to face. That’s why being able to build relationships, even under changing circumstances, is one of the most critical sales skills today. Seek out ways to connect with your clients, whether that’s hosting a webinar or inviting them to a livestreamed class.

While selling during a pandemic poses many challenges, the basic objective of meeting buyers’ needs and solving customers’ problems remains unchanged. By training your sales reps to step up with the skills above, you can demonstrate that they are trusted advisors and build meaningful relationships with your clients, even in a difficult market.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Tess Townsend is a freelance journalist who contributes to the Salesforce blog.


Four Important Networking Emails—And How To Write Them

“Pulling a good network together takes effort, sincerity and time.”
Alan Collins

Whether you want to stand out in the job market or you want to make a strong impression on a prospect, a well-written email can help you achieve your goal. When you meet someone new, either in person or virtually, jot down some notes about them. These notes can help you establish, maintain and build the relationship down the line, which is crucial when you are trying to land a job or make a sale.

According to David Solloway, a career consultant and life coach, the key is to move quickly. The more time that passes after you meet someone, the harder it is to remember them. So, if you want to go from a potentially forgotten contact to a trusted resource or must-hire sales professional, take some time to craft a compelling networking email.

We share Solloway’s thoughts on four networking emails to write and his tips on writing them in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Email No. 1: The thank-you email 

It’s always a good idea to express appreciation, whether you want to say thank you for a prospect’s time or thank you for a job interview. Solloway suggests reserving 15 minutes within 48 hours of your meeting to write a thank-you note.

How to write it: You could start with a simple sentence like, “Thank you for taking time to chat with me.” In the next sentence, Solloway recommends sharing a specific piece of advice or insight from the other person that you found helpful. Then end the email, wishing the other person well. Often, the other person will respond saying they were glad to meet you as well.

Email No. 2: The referral request email

Sometimes, you may want your contact to refer you to another person. To gain a referral, you should have shown that you are a dependable and likable person. You also need contacts who are willing to take the time and risk of opening their network, says Solloway.

How to write it: Start by thanking the person again. Gratitude goes a long way. Then, remind the contact of your interests in a broad way. You could mention you’d like to learn more about their marketing role and the broader industry in their city. Next, ask for advice on next steps to secure a meeting with a hiring manager or buyer. You could say something like, “Is there anyone else you think I should meet?”

Email No. 3: The check-in email

Solloway recommends setting monthly calendar notifications to check in on those who refer you. Their helpfulness is a good indicator that they would be willing to recommend you for a role.

How to write it: In the first email, thank them for referring you to another person and provide a summary of how you have applied their guidance. In later monthly emails, consider tying in the season or company news. For example, you could say something like, “I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Thanks for all your guidance!”

Email No. 4: The application notification email

If you are applying for a new role, be sure to keep relevant contacts informed. If you do not notify valuable contacts before you apply, it’s like planting a garden and not harvesting the produce, says Solloway. This can also benefit your contact, as many employers offer bonuses to employees who recommend great candidates.

How to write it: Before you apply, you could send a note to your employer contacts saying something like “Thank you for all your guidance. I’m excited to apply for the sales director position at your company.” You could then close the email by asking if they would be willing recommend you for the role and if they have any suggestions before you apply.

When you meet someone new, don’t let the new connection go to waste. That new contact could help you secure a job or close a sale with a new client. To stay connected with the people in your professional network, consider when you can use the four emails above.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: David Solloway is a career consultant, life coach and cross-cultural training/development specialist. He works as the assistant director for Daytime MBA Career Services at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Four Ways To Create Rapport Virtually

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Dale Carnegie

Building rapport is critical to succeeding in sales. By getting to know your prospects and clients beyond just a surface level, you can begin to establish a meaningful connection. The more your prospects and clients get to know you, the more likely they become to work with you rather than turn to your competitors.

But, in an era of remote work and social distancing, how do you go about creating rapport online? According to Dave Shaby, chief operating officer of RAIN Group, you can focus on building relationships virtually by implementing four smart strategies.

Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today for Shaby’s insights on making time and space for relationship building when your conversations are happening online.

1. Make a point to focus on establishing rapport
When you are meeting virtually with a prospect or client, Shaby recommends making the first move by speaking first. You could talk about what you did over the weekend or something you are looking forward to doing. He says that while it is tempting to let other people speak first, if you want to set the tone, you should talk first.

2. Close the call with a casual conversation
Just like with in-person meetings, leave room for easygoing conversations at the end of your virtual meeting. Shaby says after the formal part of the meeting ends, you could bring it to a close by refocusing your rapport. You could say something like, “Great, so the next steps are A, B, and C. Before you go, I’d love to know more about what you said about being a part-time professional chef. That sounds interesting.” If you are in a group meeting, Shaby recommends saying something like, “Chris, I know we have worked on this project for several weeks, but I haven’t had the chance to speak with you one on one yet. I’d like to learn more about you and how you would like to see this go. Can we chat for 15 minutes later this week?”

3. Schedule brief check-ins
To keep the conversation going, sales professionals should make it a priority to contact prospects and clients to check in. You don’t need to request an hour on someone’s calendar—just 15 minutes will do, notes Shaby. With no in-person interaction, Shaby says it is helpful to schedule a video meeting to help build greater rapport. People often find it easier to connect to others when they can see them.

4. Work on building relationships outside of formal meetings
Remember that you can make connections and establish rapport with prospects and clients outside of scheduled meetings. Whether you send a text, an email or a LinkedIn message, you can use various channels to strike up a friendly conversation. Even giving a client’s post a like or adding a comment demonstrates your interest, says Shaby.

Relationships matter in sales. However, you don’t need a handshake or face-to-face eye contact to establish rapport with your prospects and clients. Even when most of your meetings happen virtually, you can build rapport by establishing a common ground right from the start, making time for casual discussion at the end of the meeting, and committing to regular check-ins. Learning how to create rapport virtually is a skill that will serve you well now and in the future.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Dave Shaby is chief operating officer of RAIN Group, a sales training company that delivers award-winning results through in-person and virtual sales training, coaching, and reinforcement. Shaby is the bestselling author of Virtual Selling: How to Build Relationships, Differentiate, and Win Sales Remotely.

Nine Focus-Boosting Ideas To Get You Back On Track

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”
~Bruce Lee

Whether you are working from home or you are back in the office, distractions happen. Some people find it difficult to regain their focus after getting interrupted, while others can refocus quickly. If you are going to do your best work, you must learn how to keep diversions at bay and stay focused.

Michael S. Hyatt, an author, podcaster, blogger and speaker, notes that in a distraction economy, focus is a rare commodity. He encourages leaders to learn how to alleviate distractions in the workplace and help their team members stay focused on their daily work.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share nine ideas from Hyatt on how to increase your concentration levels and zero in on the task at hand.

1. Schedule time to focus. What gets scheduled gets done, Hyatt notes. If you do your best work in the morning, block off time in your calendar to complete your most important projects.

2. Spend time alone. Sometimes it’s helpful to shut your office door or put on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to signal to those around you that you do not want to be interrupted. You could also designate a day in the week as a meeting-free day.

3. Get offline. The constant ping from emails, texts and Slack messages can make it near impossible to truly focus. Hyatt recommends turning off notifications or using a tool to block content.

4. Lower the room temperature. To increase your focus, lower the temperature in your office. Hyatt points out a study from Scientific American that found that cooler rooms improve concentration.

5. Get comfortable. Do you like working at a stand-up desk? Like to have a cozy blanket draped over your legs? Find what works for you and you will find it easier to stay focused.

6. Turn on some music. According to Stanford University researchers, the right music can help you stay on track. After studying the effect of music on the brain, they found that music engages areas of the brain involved in paying attention, making predictions and updating memory.

7. Watch how food affects your focus. Hyatt suggests paying attention to what you eat and drink and how it makes you feel when you are working. Does a second cup of coffee help you focus or does it make you jittery? Maybe you need to keep snacks handy or track your water intake to make sure you stay hydrated. Hyatt recommends adding foods thought to increase brain function such as salmon, coffee, blueberries and chocolate.

8. Establish mini goals. According to Hyatt, a mini goal is a small project you can accomplish in a set period of time. For example, he likes to set a mini goal of writing a 500-word blog post in 45 minutes several times a week. He knows his average writing time is 75 minutes per post, so setting a timer helps him stay on track.

9. Take breaks frequently. Remember not to power through your day without working in some breaks. It’s important to pause often, whether you make another cup of coffee, take a quick walk or pause for a few minutes of meditation.

To get the most out of every workday, you must commit to being intentional with how you spend your time. Rather than allowing yourself to get sidetracked by every little disruption, make a point to keep yourself on track. Even by working in a few of the ideas above, you can give yourself a valuable concentration boost.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Michael S. Hyatt is an American author, podcaster, blogger, speaker and the CEO and founder of Michael Hyatt & Company. He has written several books about leadership, productivity and goal setting.

Seven Words To Supercharge Your Emails

“Communication works for those who work at it.” ~John Powell

Sales professionals often spend a good portion of their day crafting emails. While they might be adept at verbal communication, they may not be as skillful when it comes to the written word. Still, emails matter. Sales reps must know how to use the right words in their emails if they want to make a great impression on clients and prospects and increase their chances of landing a meeting.

Steve Adcock, a contributor to CNBC, CBS MarketWatch and The Ladders, says there are seven phrases and words that can help sales professionals communicate their message clearly and decisively. We highlight Adcock’s suggestions in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

No. 1: The recipient’s name.
Adcock says personalizing your emails establishes an immediate connection between you and the recipient. He recommends using recipients’ names when it makes sense. In other words, do not stuff names unnaturally into your email message. This appears spammy and computer-generated.

No. 2: Simple.
By including the word “simple” in your emails, you convey that your message isn’t complicated. People are busy and prefer things that are easy and smooth over things that are complex and difficult to understand.

No. 3: Also.
According to Adcock, words like “also” and “and” are great ways to imply something important. These words are especially valuable when writing sales or marketing emails. By using these words, you demonstrate that the recipient is getting more than just one piece of valuable information. Everybody likes a little something extra if it adds value.

No. 4: Right.
When people see this word, they often think of other related words like “correct” or “appropriate,” says Adcock. “Right” is typically associated with positive feelings—which is how you want people to feel when they read your emails. When you use the word “right” early on in your message, you can set a positive and confirming tone for your email.

No. 5: New.
Most people love the word “new” since it conjures images of clean and high-quality. That’s why we use the phrase “new car smell.” Adcock notes that when something is new, it is also often fresh or never seen before, which people like.

No. 6: Freebie.
A “freebie” is something that people get in exchange for something else. Maybe you send them a free download or checklist in exchange for their contact information. You should use “freebie” or something like it in your emails since most everyone likes getting something for nothing.

No. 7: Backed.
Adcock says the word “backed” implies authority. For example, if you say that something is “customer-backed” or “research-based,” you can help add credibility to your statement.

If you want more clients and prospects to read and respond to your emails, try incorporating some of the above words and phrases into your copy. You will come across as a smarter communicator and inspire recipients to take action.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Steve Adcock is a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC. He writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career.

Seven Ways To Turn Your To-Do List Into A Success List

“Focus on being productive instead of being busy.” ~Tim Ferris

Some people love a good to-do list. They like to jot down all the tasks they hope to accomplish in a certain time period and then feel the satisfaction of crossing off various items. The thing is, though, that to-do lists aren’t always effective. Many people use them as parking lots for items they want to get to eventually and they end up getting overwhelmed and not completing the tasks at all.

Naphtali Hoff, Psy.D., president of Impactful Coaching & Consulting, says there are some ways you can turn the traditional to-do list into a list in which you accomplish meaningful tasks, rather than just crossing things off a checklist. 
In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Dr. Hoff’s smart strategies for approaching your to-do items. 
1.    Add the right items. When jotting your to-do list, keep it manageable. If you add too many items you can’t accomplish in a day, you will feel overwhelmed. Dr. Hoff recommends adding only items that are actionable and measurable (such as making 20 sales calls) and that you can finish in one sitting. 
2.    Schedule time for high-priority work. If you do not prioritize items on your to-do list, you may end up wasting time and not getting to the most important items. Look at your list and move the high-priority items to the top. Whether you use a planner, whiteboard or corkboard, pick a format that works for you and stick to it. 
3.    Split projects into smaller tasks. When you have large, looming projects on your to-do list, you might not know where to start. That’s why Dr. Hoff suggests breaking larger tasks into more approachable, quantifiable action steps. 
4.    Begin with the easy tasks. Some people recommend “eating the frog,” or starting with the difficult tasks. Dr. Hoff encourages building momentum by knocking out a few easy two-minute items on your list. This can help you get in the frame of mind for the real work. 
5.    Let others know your plans. Accountability is a big driver when getting things done. When your colleagues or bosses know what you plan to accomplish, you will naturally want to stay on task. 
6.    Enjoy checking off items. There’s a real sense of satisfaction in crossing a line or putting a checkmark next to a completed item on your to-do list. Remember to do this digitally if you use tools such as Trello or Asana. 
7.    Edit your list. Take a look at your to-do list (if you keep one). Are there items that seem to perpetually end up there? Take some time to determine what is getting in the way of accomplishing those tasks. Maybe they do not need to be an action item on your list at all. 
If you have been making to-do lists for years but you do not feel like you’re making any real progress or change, it may be time to take a fresh approach. Just because you make a to-do list does not mean you will be more productive or effective at accomplishing your tasks. Instead, think of your list as a success list by following the tips above. You might be surprised at the sense of accomplishment you feel at the end of the day when you see you made tangible progress on an important project.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Naphtali Hoff, Psy.D. is president of Impactful Coaching & Consulting. He wrote the leadership book, Becoming the New Boss.

Raster vs. Vector Images – What’s the difference and why is it important?

For those of us that aren’t graphic designers, the terminology regarding art files can be confusing. For example, understanding the difference between a vector and raster image. One is crisp and sharp, and the other is barely legible.

To understand the difference, you should first know how each is created. A vector image is a series of curves, lines and shapes all based on mathematical equations like that algebra class you never thought you would use to create an image in the computer. A raster image, on the other hand, is a representation of an image using a variety of pixels.

Vector Art:

Vector art is ideal for all forms of printing. Since the art is based on an equation, the image can be printed in any size and the quality will remain the same. You can use a vector image for a business card and then use the same image for a billboard sized project and the art will still be crisp and clear.

Raster Art:

If a raster image was used this way, it would blur and pixelate beyond recognition. A raster image, also referred to as a bitmap, is better displayed on a screen or computer monitor.

So when creating or sending images, keep in mind the final product. Getting the correct version of your artwork for a project can be tricky and with so many design terms and jargon, it’s very easy to get lost in translation! And remember, Island Media will ALWAYS provide you with several different versions of your artwork, both vector and raster, so you have the right file for the right job!

If you have additional questions or would just rather have our graphic designers create your artwork for you contact us.