Top-Shelf Tip No. 92:

"One good conversation can shift the direction of change forever."

Linda Lambert

Two Critical Conversations You Must Have Now

No matter how solid your marketing and prospecting efforts, you're missing out on some sales opportunities. For many salespeople, the thought of what they might be missing is the stuff of nightmares. While you can analyze a loss and find ways to improve moving forward, a missed deal—one you didn't even know you were competing for—is like an alternate timeline you didn't know existed. When you realize that these deals could have led to add-ons, referrals and other opportunities, it compounds the situation.

Art Petty, a coach, speaker and workshop presenter, says this is a bad situation for sales and marketing professionals. What's worse, though, is leaving critical conversations unsaid. He says not talking about the right issues at the right time closes off access to an unknown series of potentially game-changing outcomes. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we examine the two critical conversations that Petty says can open up entirely new universes of possibilities.

1. Conversations over failing projects. Many significant initiatives are simply masquerading as strategic projects. These projects drain precious time, money and talent away from other opportunities, with no realistic hope of ever concluding positively. Almost everyone knows the project should be scrapped, but no one wants to suggest it. It's hard to admit failure and admit when it's time to call it. However, people fail and need to feel comfortable confessing when something just doesn't work out. Petty says every organization needs to work diligently to continually evaluate the overall project portfolio and assess each initiative for a strategic fit. Much like managing a stock portfolio, some efforts merit additional investment for the right reasons, and others warrant pruning or selling off. In your organization, strive to set an example of the importance of learning from your mistakes. Commit to being open and honest, and help your team not be afraid of failure.

2. Conversations about the pipeline for ideas. Fear prevents many people from sharing ideas and new approaches. This keeps people in a perpetual state of defend mode and chokes conversations. It also sends creativity out the window. Petty says that in order to open up new universes of possibilities, encouraging conversations should be taking place in your organization. People should feel safe enough to share what's on their mind, no matter how offbeat their ideas may seem. By suppressing the open sharing of ideas, you're missing out on what could potentially be game-changing outcomes. Petty says unspoken ideas are essentially timelines filled with closed-off opportunities simply because no one had the courage to speak up.

Does your organization have an environment where critical conversations can flourish? If not, make it a priority to create an atmosphere where people can do their best work, share their most outlandish ideas and try new things. You never know what opportunities will come of it.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Art Petty is a coach, speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Petty serves senior executives, business owners and high-potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor.