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First, Best, or Different

Niche Marketing Matters
By John Bradley Jackson

Tips to Boost Your Charisma

June 20th, 2013

We all know charisma is important, but few of us know how to be charismatic. Many people think it’s something you’re born with and that it’s impossible to learn. While some people’s personalities may be more naturally charismatic, there are some simple tricks to increase your charisma quotient:

Be kind. People are drawn to those they believe have their best interest at heart. Offer constructive criticism. Always offer to help. To project kindness and warmth, try to think of a few things you like about the other person. Just thinking those thoughts will affect your body language in a positive way.

Stay focused and engaged. When you really pay attention to what someone has to say, they feel valued. If you let your thoughts wander, it will show up in your body language, even if it’s almost imperceptible.

Plan ahead. If you’re distracted, uncomfortable, or in a hurry, people can see it in your face. Wear comfortable clothing, account for travel time, and give everyone your full attention.

Be humble. Admit your mistakes and don’t be defensive. Shine the spotlight on others.

Love yourself. Have big goals that inspire you. Practice gratitude and self-compassion.

Olive Fox Cabane, author of “The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism”, writes that in order to project charisma, you must project 1) power, 2) presence, and 3) warmth. In terms of charisma, power means it appearing you have the ability to influence your environment. Presence means really being engaged in an interaction and not letting yourself get distracted by your own thoughts. Warmth means demonstrating compassion and genuine concern about the other person.

Cabane says it’s all about body language. Unfortunately we can’t control much of our body language, because our body displays our mental and emotional states beyond our conscious control. If you feel nervous, you will probably look nervous. If you get yourself into a good mental state, however, charismatic behavior and body language follows naturally.

Barriers to charisma include low self-esteem, negative self-talk, lack of empathy, lack of interest or desire to learn about the other person, any condition that would affect your ability to pay attention (like ADHD), and negative emotions like anger and anxiety. Before you can be more charismatic, you’ll need to address what’s holding you back.

Whether you’re a business leader, student, or a waitress looking for better tips, charisma is important. People look to charismatic leaders to guide and inspire them.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2013
All rights reserved

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How to Deal with Extroverts

August 2nd, 2012

In the last entry, we talked about how to deal with introverts.  Knowing how to customize your own behavior to make others feel more comfortable may seem like a no-brainer, and it can help if you are aware if the other person is an introvert or an extrovert.

Extroverts dominate society.  The adjectives to describe an extrovert are decidedly more positive than those used to describe an introvert.  We usually describe an extrovert as “outgoing”, “sociable,” or “a people person.”  (By comparison, you might describe an introvert as “distant” or “reserved.”)  Even though being an extrovert is more socially acceptable than being an introvert, there are some common techniques to maximize your effectiveness when dealing with an extrovert.

If you find yourself dealing with an extrovert (especially if you are more introverted yourself), then you may find these do’s and don’ts helpful:


  • Let them process their thoughts externally, usually through talking and narrating their opinions and emotions.
  • Use small talk to loosen them up.
  • Remember personal details to make them feel valued.
  • Make an effort to listen and interact rather than simply letting them talk.
  • Show that you are engaged and interested in the conversation.
  • Let them have time to socialize with others before turning their attention to more serious matters.



  • Assume extroverts aren’t deep or intelligent just because they enjoy casual conversation.
  • Write them off as shallow, chatty, overbearing, flirty, or aggressive.
  • Nag them about too much socializing.
  • Appear apathetic or indifferent to their chosen topic of conversation (even if you are).
  • Assume they just want to hear themselves talk.  Make sure you really listen!

Homework Assignment: How do you handle those with extroverted personalities?  What strategies have you found to be effective (or ineffective)?

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2012
All rights reserved


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The Busyness of New Age Marketing

July 1st, 2012

A recent article titled “The Busy Trap” by New York Times columnist Tim Kreider got me thinking about the busyness in my own life and the current state of what I call “new age marketing.”

This is a powerful article and it sadly describes my own busyness. Yet, I was not always this busy. I used to have unstructured time.

As a youth and young adult, I was not this busy. I lived an almost improvisational life with just a few major goals such graduate from college, learn to snow ski, and get a job

Even as a new parent I was not this busy. Yes, I had little or no sleep but I had a keen sense of what to do when the baby cried: pickup the baby, get a bottle or change the diaper.

Yet, today I am very busy. Too busy. I am doing so many things for myself and others that I cannot even remember them all.

What changed?

I think the web and its encroachment into everything I do is a factor. I have four blogs and I am deeply involved in social media which I justify for professional reasons. I say yes too much to others and rationalize it as my own generosity. Mostly, I think it is my choice to have been this busy. Or, better said, maybe a lack of prioritization creates busyness.

The new age of marketing reflects this as well. Companies measure their sales success using KPIs (key performance indicators) which measure busyness: # of sales calls, # of proposals, # of new customers, etc. Note that the KPIs describe activity rather than meaningfulness or satisfaction.

Facebook success for many brands is gauged by the # of “likes” or fans or contacts with a mantra of “more is better.” Likes are so absurdly important on Facebook that now you can actually buy “like” packages in quantities of 500 or more raving fans. Of course, the # of likes is almost meaningless as they truly measure little in the first place. (By the way, please like my page called First, Best, or Different” on Facebook.)

The new rage in new venture development is the “Lean Start Up” which advocates launching new products which are merely untested prototypes. Rather than perfect the product prior to launch, let the customers debug it for you. The thinking is that time is short and why waste it in product development. Who cares if the customer gets an usable piece of crap. Let them figure it out.

I submit that busy is not better. Activity is not an indicator of success or quality. Activity cannot be construed as a result. Busy is just busy.

I must now pause  to reflect.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2012
All rights reserved





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Giving Bad News

October 20th, 2011

Bad news isn’t wine. It does not improve with age.

Sometimes in sales, you have to give bad news to customers. While this is never easy, a little preparation goes a long way to helping you get the job done. Start by gathering all the facts and preparing yourself emotionally. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and figure out how you would feel when delivered this bad news?

Here is a basic process to follow when delivering bad news:

  • Define the situation: What must you communicate? How does this situation impact the customer? Do you need to provide all the background information? Where a strong emotional reaction is expected from the customer, providing reasons may only serve to fuel that reaction.
  • Emphasize the positive points: Once you have presented the situation, are there positive points that you can emphasize to the customer? What will not change? Be honest with the customer to remind him/her what will not change in this situation.
  • Be prepared to accept the customer’s initial reaction: Try to predict the customer’s reaction. How would you feel in this situation?
  • Responding to the reaction: Prepare a possible conversation on what the buyer will probably say. Prepare your response. Restate positive points, if there are any.
  • Express your expectations: How do you expect this situation to be resolved? Are your requirements negotiable? If “yes” then what is negotiable? What action, including deadlines, must be performed by this person and what is the deadline?
  • Restate the basic agreement with a timeline: Confirm in writing and be specific.
  • Follow-up action: Negotiate the best time for a follow-up meeting or phone call.

Delivering bad news is never easy, but a little preparation might help ease the pain (yours and theirs).

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2011
All rights reserved


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Selling With Questions

May 9th, 2010

“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”

James Thurber (1894 – 1961) Author and Cartoonist

A friend of mine reminded me that selling is not about what you say to the customer, but rather it is about the questions you ask. Many salespeople are in love with their own words and ideas. They are often described as having the “gift of gab” which means that they really just talk too much. Instead of asking open-ended questions and listening, talkative salespeople talk too much.

They ramble on and on about product features to fill the dead air (which is extremely uncomfortable for a talkative person). Worse yet, they invariably talk about themselves, which is the last thing that the buyer wants to hear.

Meanwhile, the buyer ultimately buys from the seller who best understands their problems or needs. Of course, you don’t get to understand the buyer’s needs by talking. Great salespeople ask questions to learn about the buyer’s motivations, concerns, and desires. It is really that simple.

Ask questions to discover what matters most to the customer. If you must speak, then talk about what matters most to the customer.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2010 All rights reserved.

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Don’t Talk About the Weather.

March 21st, 2010

A recent study by a psychologist at the University of Arizona found that people who spend more of their day having deep, heart felt discussions and who spend less time engaging in small talk seem to be happier. Or, simply put, the folks who choose idle banter over in-depth conversations are found to be less satisfied with their lives.

Interesting study was my first reaction. Yet, the more I reflected on the study’s findings, the more I discovered its application to selling and to customer relationships. Sales people are legendary in their mastery of small talk including spontaneous dialogs on the weather or the last major sporting event. In response, the customer smiles placidly with eyes glazed over with hopes of the meeting’s conclusion.

I know this because I have been such a “weather reporter” and have witnessed firsthand the banality of talking about nothing. Yes, it was not fulfilling, but that is what we do when “doing business”. The buyers expect it and put up with it.

I have also observed that customer discussions focused on serious problems or on significant issues often are very satisfying. More often than not, both parties leave with the feeling that the overall relationship improved. Yes, they felt happier. And, the likelihood of the doing business again was improved. In retrospect, it was the sincere and meaningful conversation that made things better— even if it was based on a problem or disagreement.

My suggestion is to stop talking about nothing. Instead, look into the other person’s eyes and talk about things that really matter to them. Listen intently and share your true feelings. My guess is that you will both be happier if you do so.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2010 All rights reserved.

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Slow Down Grasshopper

June 23rd, 2009

The best advice I ever received was to slow down.

Like many rookie sales people, I was anxious for success—so I worked harder and faster than everyone else. While I hit my numbers easily, I also ran out of people and companies to call. Also, I was exhausted.

Watching me with amusement was an older, battle scarred salesman named John Randall. In contrast to my frantic pace was his peaceful approach to selling—nothing seemed to phase him and he was never in a hurry. Yes, he hit his numbers year after year.

One day when he saw that wild-eyed look on my face, he pulled me aside for cup of coffee. “Slow down or you might miss something”. Then he walked away.

Not sure of exactly what he meant, I went back to work and tried to slow down. I found that by slowing down I was making few errors in my proposals. When I slowed down, I listened more and talked less. When I did things slower I felt more in control. By slowing down I sold more.

As Master Kan said in the TV series Kung Fu, “Slow down Grasshopper”.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2009 All rights reserved.

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Is Your Hair on Fire?

June 11th, 2009

It seems that many employers in the new economy expect you to work like “your hair is on fire”. This most applies to sales people.

In the era of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, activity is king. Activities include telephone calls, emails, proposals, face-to-face meetings, product demonstrations, etc. The thinking is that if many sales activities are good, then more activities are even better. The message chanted to sales people is to work faster, harder, and longer.

While I am a proponent of activity being the enabler of sales results, I feel strongly the quality of the activity far outweighs the quantity of the activity. Regretfully, many sales managers driven by the need to increase revenue can put too much emphasis on the number of activities and the documentation of these activities.

A few years ago, FedEx had such a mindset about sales activities for their B2B field sales force. Their sales force was put under tremendous pressure to create activities and log them all in the CRM system so that management could track the trends and forecast better. In practice, the CRM system was so cumbersome and time consuming that the average sales rep was spending about 8-10 hours a week entering their activities in the CRM. Ironically, sales were going down instead of up.

While it took a few months to figure it out, FedEx management ultimately determined that their number one sales activity was entering sales activities in the CRM. How brilliant is that? Needless to say, CRM data expectations were later streamlined. Yes, sales increased when the sales force devoted more time to selling.

A better message to send your sales team is to slow down. Make the most of your customer contact by listening carefully and focusing on the customers’ wants and needs. Trust and respect the sales process and you will be rewarded.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2009 All rights reserved.

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When Is a Customer Too Big?

May 17th, 2009

Talk about a high-class problem. You have delivered a specialized solution in a niche market while doing all the right things. What happens? You land an elephant for a customer who has an insatiable appetite for your product or service. By comparison, your other customers look like mice. You hate to admit it, but this customer has incredible influence over your day-to-day decisions, as well as your long term plans for the firm. Secretly, you live in fear that you might lose this giant customer overnight and find yourself out of business.

This is hard one for a small firm. I have seen many small firms prisoner to the revenue stream from one key customer. The reliance on a huge customer can impact the small firm’s cash flow and control its day-to-day decisions, if not its destiny. If the big customer does not pay its bills on time, the firm can struggle to make payroll. When the big customer becomes too dominant, it can direct the day-to-day scheduling of activity, which might sacrifice the needs of other customers. At some point, the small business seemingly has no control over its destiny since the big customer is calling all the shots.

A general rule of thumb is that no one customer should account for more than 25 % of your sales. If a large customer abruptly drops you, you can still right-size your operation until you can find other sources of revenue. Even 25% makes me shudder, but in most cases, you can still adjust to the loss of this dominant customer. It will hurt, but the firm could still survive, presuming that you moved quickly enough.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2009 All rights reserved.

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Selling in the Recession of 2009

April 5th, 2009

Times are tough—we can all read the headlines. And selling is tougher than ever. The typical sales management reaction is to push the sales reps harder and demand more sales activity. Some managers will remind the reps that everyone’s job is on the line.

So guess what happens? The reps become even more aggressive and try to push the customer to buy now regardless if it makes sense or not to the buyer. On the customer side, the buyers’ jobs are also threatened and they find the harassment from their once friendly vendors revolting.

The truth is that all the pushing by the sales rep does not really work. It comes across as selfish and self-serving. It only serves to alienate the customer. The customer shuts down and does not return calls.

So what do you do? My recommendation is to focus on the buyers needs and put your product pitches aside. Turn off the PowerPoint and close down the laptop. Acknowledge that times are tough and remind the customer that “we” are in it for the long haul. Look for common ground and seek ways to help them. This is a time for relationship building and for networking. Think of others first. Help when and where you can. Stay in touch but don’t harass. Be genuine.

The orders will come back eventually, so make sure you will be welcome when they do.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2009 All rights reserved.

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