Monday, December 23, 2013

May love abound in your life these Christmas and throughout the New Year!

When I was choosing the image for this post, the first images I initially chose  were all the typical Christmas images: the tree with ornaments, glasses of champagne for the toast, an image of Santa Claus, and the like.

But suddenly, in my search, I came across this one, which has nothing to do with the others, but it really says what my best wish is for you, for me and for all of us: May love abound in your life these Christmas and throughout the New Year!

Why love?

Because I've found that if there is love in our lives all things work wonderfully well, with plenty smiles, illusions, hope, kindness, there are plenty of good thoughts... Good vibes as people say around here!

And if these things abound in our personal lives, they will surely abound in our businesses as well, and in our companies, our work and, therefore, things will go much better, despite the crisis, politicians and all those things which everyday, push to steal joy, peace, tranquility and harmony from us.

When love abounds, there is no much room for selfishness, and that's a good thing!

Therefore I conclude this year, as always, thanking you for being there, reading my posts, allowing me to share with you the things that I think, feel and live, and letting me know your opinions and experiences too by commenting.

And after thanking you, my wish for you is this one: That during these Holiday and throughout the New Year 2014, love abounds in your life, my life, and our lives!

Surely if love abounds, there is less room for selfishness and that, maybe, can even help us become better leaders.... And that is not a bad place to start the New Year from!

¡Merry Christmas and
Happy New Year 2014!

Your friend and fellow adventure
Joel J. Pinto

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do you know why you're doing what you're doing in social media?

"If everybody is special, then nobody is":
Three articles have inspired me to write this post. My dear friends, Reyes Ramon and her post "Got engagement?" published in desmárcateya’s blog, one by Maine Beristain titled "Brand tales to remember" (both these posts in Spanish, no translation available, sorry), and an article published by Pam Moore on Social Media Today, a really phenomenal one, entitled "Why: The most important question in social business", which really nailed it.

As I always do, all links will be included at the end of this post, so you can go deeper into the content I want to share with you today.

A while ago, I wrote an article on this blog entitled "Who follows who in social media?" in which I made a reference to the unbelievable competition that exists today in social media to capture our respective audiences’ attention and how social conversations were focusing on products and companies, instead of focusing on people.

Hundreds of thousands of companies have embarked on the development of promotional and content strategies to attract the attention of their followers and engage their fans with the brand, to try and establish with them a dynamic and mutually beneficial relationship, and finally turn that relationship into positive results for both: the audience has needs to be resolved, companies have products to be sold.

Who is then the focus on the conversation between your company and your audience in social media?

And the question is still alive: Who follows who in social media?

The most common thing to see happening in social media, is a continuous flow of promotional messages that burst into our inboxes asking us to like someone’s page in Facebook without giving us a specific reason, or to follow a Twitter account to “supposedly” have access to more, interesting things, and so on. If we put it simple: messages that are selling us something, whether with or without intention.

Everyone seems to have the solution to our business’ problems, all of them supposedly have an amazing story to tell, every product has the best price, the best conditions, the most innovative things. Did you ever watch “The Incredibles”? If you remember Syndrome, the antithesis of Mr. Incredible in Pixar’s movie, said: "If everyone is super, then nobody is".

And nothing more certain than that because, in an environment where almost all business offer the same thing, who is really special?

If you honestly check the content you share with your audience through your social media accounts, and you get to realize you are continually talking about your products and how good they are, or about the new things you're bringing into the store, or inviting people to follow you without giving them a compelling reason, without adding real value to their lives, or not helping them solve their needs, it is then time to ask the question:

Why are you doing what you are doing in social networks?

You must not forget that social media is based on people, and evolves about their conversations and the relationships that establish between them and how they use those relationships to find solutions to specific problems.

What do you think about people who flood your timeline with promotional messages? How do you feel? What about those who preach for quality over quantity, and repeatedly publish the same content several times every day? What do you think about those who beg you to "like" their Facebook pages but never again follow up with you?

Surely you dislike them as much as I do, but aren’t you doing the same?

What reason are you giving your followers and fans to share the content they receive from you on social networks? Are you connecting with their world and their needs, or just want them to share whatever content you post only to gain more visibility for your business?

Social networking should not become another channel for your business to add "noise" to your "followers’ life", and every time I write the word "followers", the same question comes back to my mind "who should really be following who in social networks?".

The search for a common and intimate space with your audience.

Quite the opposite: social networks should serve to create an intimate space with your customers, a common area where their interests, questions, concerns and needs match the value proposition your company develops.

For more clarity, let me explain: What intimate area do you think a running shoes brand can develop with their audience? At what point can both their interests meet and develop a space for mutual benefit?

Let’s do a little exercise and think about the person who buys a running shoe: Could he or she be interested, for instance, in learning about ways to improve their performance in the race? or what about learning how to avoid knee injuries? or maybe they are interested in knowing which are the best dietary supplements to take while preparing for a competition, or perhaps it will be of tremendous value for them to learn that, if they decrease by 30 minutes the duration of each training session, and train more times within the week, they will increase their overall performance in about 25%.

Have I helped you realize what it means to create a common place, an intimate space with your audience?

It is in this unique space where you will find content interesting enough to give your followers and fans enough reasons to connect with your company and share the content you deliver through social channels.

It is in this space where you will really begin to solve their problems and will start positioning your brand as a leader within its industry or business, where you will be making your audience fall in love with your brand and its proposal, and building it as a memorable one as well, one to be remembered forever.

Keep in mind that if you are helping your customers and your audience achieve their goals, you will be achieving your goals at the same time. It all goes together. Don’t stop at getting people to "Like" your Facebook page or increase your followers count on Twitter. That's important, but definitely is not everything.

Focus instead on really connecting with them, inspiring them, helping them solve real life problems. Aim to influence the way they think and genuinely look to win their heart.

The pulse of social media is the people. People like you and me.

Are you feeding the heartbeat of your audience or you're just taking it all for yourself, without giving anything in return?

Have been my inspiration to write this post:
¿Tienes "Engagement"? written by Reyes Ramón
"Brand stories to be remembered" by Maine Beristain
Why: The Most Important Question in Social Business by Pam Moore

Related post in this blog:
Who follows who in social media

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How Not to Become a Prisoner of Hope

Imprisoned by your own hope?
What does being a "prisoner of hope" mean?

Have you ever been a "prisoner of hope"?

All new and starting businesses are characterized by many special things, including among them optimism and good will of its founders, and the hope that, with a lot of hard work and dedication, things will eventually work out, implemented actions will bring in positive results and business will become profitable.

And this wealth of optimism is a fantastic tool, and is absolutely necessary to get up every day with enough energy to address all the multiple actions required to put the ball in motion and keep it rolling for as long as possible.

It's definitely good to be an optimistic and hopeful person.

Of course it is, but like with all things in life, extremes are never good and maintaining an exaggerated optimism based on feeding the "hope" that all things will work out well for your business, is not a healthy attitude and can generate quite unpleasant consequences.

When you become a "prisoner" of hope?

Experts say that to be "prisoner" of something is to be deprived of freedom. Plainly and briefly: You are in a prison and can’t get out.

You can name this prison the way you want: prejudices, beliefs, false expectations, poor information, not having proper training, lack of experience, and even there comes a time when one's own hope that things will work out well, becomes our own confinement.

But the question you must be asking yourself at this point is: When hope stops being truly hoping and becomes confinement? When does it cease being positive and becomes something negative?

When hope becomes a veil covering your eyes and preventing you from recognizing what's in front of them.

When you deny the evidence that proves your business’ promotional actions are not performing as they were supposed to, therefore not being as successful as you expected them to be.

It's at that moment that, either by your own or someone else’ will, you become its prisoner.

When you hold on to something that is not working, or simply, when you hold on to your own hopes just because you need to keep them alive, you then strive to keep on doing things that are not making neither any sense nor good to your business.

How can you realize that you have been trapped by hope?

Situations can vary significantly and occur on very different environments. Here I am going to share with you those imprisoning situations I have lived myself or that I have witnessed how it has happened to other entrepreneurs, like yourself.

  • You have a client who has already signed with you a huge contract and yet, after many unsuccessful attempts on your side, it hasn’t moved any further and you haven’t been able to bring him from decision to action.
  • You have prospects who tell you "I can’t buy from you this month, but I for sure will next month, absolutely" and they have repeated the same thing to you over the last few months and yet, you continue to visit them as regularly and with the same enthusiasm as you did before.
  • Your business is not recovering and sales are not going up, despite you have followed and implemented all possible actions recommended by experts on different fields. You should face it: It might not have been the right moment!
  • You hold on to newspapers, reading them daily and regularly, hoping you’ll find on its pages an indication that things will soon improve, that government will implement a law that will favor your industry, that tax rate will be reduced, and so forth.

What’s the worst thing that happens when you become prisoner of hope?

That you are surely going to deny it!

Yes. that’s the key problem: When someone approaches to tell you that you've been imprisoned by hope, you’ll immediately come forward with fifty different excuses, all of them too delicately good, but in any case just useful to help you justify things that you're doing.

And if you don’t open your eyes, you’ll stay happily there, on your own prison.

In the same way an alcoholic person finds it difficult to recognize it has a problem, when you are a prisoner of hope, it’s truly hard for you to recognize you're immersed in that situation, just because by doing so you’ll be losing your hope that “all things will work out well”, and that you don’t want to happen. You don’t want to recognize there is no reason for you to do what you’re doing.

We have been educated under the premise "losing hope is the last thing you do" and it might probably be different on a personal level (although I'm not completely sure) but in regards to your business, your company and its development and growth, there is nothing worse than keeping it stucked into this belief.

How do you stop being a prisoner of hope?

Recognize you’ve been trapped: Like with all things in life and business, the first step is to have an open mind and be willing to accept that you're stuck in a vicious circle from which you cannot come out.
That is the first and most important thing you’ve got to do. Once you've realized you are holding on to actions that are not taking your company to where you wanted to take it from the beginning, you've won half the battle.
Evaluate all possible options available to you: Almost all problems in life and business have a solution, no matter how difficult or expensive it might be, every problem has a solution. Otherwise we wouldn’t be even talking about this.
Choose the most viable option for your specific situation and implement it, making all decisions you have to make: Once you evaluate your options and know which one is more appropriate for the particular situation of your business, it’s simply about taking action and moving forward.

Remember though decisions without actions are just really nice thoughts that lead you nowhere.

For example , if it’s about that nephew of your brother you hired for an administrative position six months ago, who still can’t find a way to do his job properly but you hold on to the hope he’ll do just fine soon and that the only thing he needs is a bit more of time. What options do you have?

  • You can help him acquire supplementary training in his specific duties and establish a timetable for him to start doing his job effectively.
  • You can talk to him, for the umpteenth time, to help him recognize the thing he needs to improve on, and then give him another chance to see if, hopefully this time, all things go as you expect them to.
  • You can let him go at once and hire another person, better qualified for the position.

You evaluate the options you have available and choose the one that is best suited to your company’s particular situation at the time.

The moment you make the decision to do something about it, you stop being a prisoner of hope.

As I told you at the beginning of this post: positive attitude and keeping a strong hope that things will turn out good for your business is always very valuable and it greatly helps you accomplish many things.

Until it no longer does. Keep it always in mind while managing your business.

Image credit: kharlamova / 123RF Stock Photo

Related post in this blog:
The Hardest Business Decision You Will Ever Make: When to Stop and Change Direction.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What Can You Do When Your Business Sales Are In “Free-falling” Mode?

Are Your Sales on Free-Fall Mode?
Running a business is definitely quite a particular challenge, and one capable of bringing in a huge emotional load to your life, often with really intense emotions.

One of those “intense” emotions is the anxiety experienced when you realize sales are steadily decreasing, and it may easily exceed your strengths and take you deep into a strong state of anxiety, regardless of how strong you might think you are or how professionally prepared you can be.

It's an overwhelming feeling!

However, like with all things in business and life, it’s possible to completely recover from such situation and overcome this fall, once you've identified you’ve got a problem, shake the dust from your lap and get back on your feet.

Always keep an eye on your numbers.

That’s the first advice you'll always receive: Keep your numbers under accurate control, no matter what.

Have you ever found yourself tripping on the street and then fell down? Do you remember how it happened? First your feet stumble, trip a bit, you lose overall balance, your arms try to find something to hold on to avoid falling and finally pum.... you're down there, lying on the floor (Let's hope not that many people saw it!)

A drop in sales occurs in the same way: it starts slowly, you get into a denial stage as you can’t believe it’s happening, then you realize it is really happening and start to wonder why, and finally, when it’s almost too late, the drop is fully developed and goes top speed.

Whether it’s your own personal sales, or your business or corporate sales, you have to keep a strong, efficient and detailed control of your numbers and review them frequently, so that you can timely detect any deviation from what is expected or any trend indicating the "beginning of the fall" or that "something is wrong", and not to wait until it’s too late to make any correction.

Just as we do with any disease, we take the medication (or at least, we should) when we start experiencing certain symptoms of discomfort, when we are not in a “take me to ER right now” kind of situation.

That your sales are already free-falling and you want to recover?

Recovery from a sales slump can be accomplished with ease, and can usually be done in a quick way, if you can keep your mind calm and concentrate your efforts on doing what you have to do, and not continue whining about the situation.

Make a plan + Stay positive + Concentrate on Getting Things Done

To accomplish the recovery, you need three things: You must create a plan of action, keep a positive attitude and have the drive to get things done.

Concentrate on closing the easiest sales:

  • Concentrate your actions on selling your best-sellers and best-rated products.
  • Make a list and identify those clients with whom you have the best relationship with and who you can encourage to buy more by providing sales incentives. You can also identify those proposals which are closer to the decision-making moment and concentrate on doing everything in your hands to close them and bring the business home.
  • At this time you should not be looking for long-term sales. You have to focus on bringing in more money and close sales for the following days, weeks or even a couple of months, until the recovery is accomplished, nothing more.

Find people who can criticize you openly and honestly.

At this point you need to know what you're doing wrong, either at product, company or even personal level. You need to know what’s happening and how that is keeping your customers from buying, or at least not buying as much as they did before.

It could be a situation generated by the market itself or the government, which will give you a poor excuse, but will probably make you feel a bit better. But it could also be a problem exclusively related to you and your business. That you need to know, and for that you can’t count on your own assessment. You need to receive feedback from people around you: employees, suppliers, associates and, more importantly, customers.

At this time, don't look for your mom's advice.

Their reviews and honest opinions will help you learn about the things you can do to improve both your product and the services you offer. Remember: Do not seek for your mom’s advice or your significant other's opinion. These reviews are biased and will not do any good.

Concentrate your efforts on improving on everything you learned.

Now that you have a better idea of the reasons why your sales began to crumble to the ground, you can concentrate all your efforts and energies in doing everything necessary to improve what needs to be improved.

If it’s about a dysfunctional product, you either have to remove it from your line or actually improve it; if advertising is sending the wrong message, you have to take care of it; if it’s about you having to deepen on your product or sales training, then you have something to start working on. The goal is to start making things better.

This is the time to make things happen. Now you know how it feels to see your sales dropping. 

You know it’s very unpleasant and probably do not want to experience it again, so from this point on it’s a matter of establishing a strong commitment on your side and not to let it happen again and, if it occurs, to take corresponding actions more quickly.

One last thing: Stop blaming yourself or looking for someone to blame.

Markets are dynamic environments and move fast enough as to be of any use to seek for a culprit or someone to blame for the drop in your business sales. That will only wear you out and take away energies you need to focus on other, more productive things.

It doesn’t matter who or what is responsible for the situation. The important thing is to focus on solving it as soon as possible and bring those numbers back to normal again. It is your sole responsibility as the business owner, a responsibility you also have with your wallet and your shareholders.

Roll up your sleeves and dive deep into solving your sales slump and boost those numbers back towards the positive side.

Image credit: hyrons / 123RF Stock Photo

Related post in this blog:
How to Make a Sales Plan For Your Business?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to give advice and not come off as a know it all

Have you ever been "Mr Know It All"?

Guest post by: 

Taylor Elwood.

You are an expert in your field. You are someone people come to for advice when they have a particular problem. You know what you are doing and you feel secure in that. Here’s the challenge for you: How do you give advice to someone who needs advice without coming off as a know it all? 

One of the behaviors I notice (and have occasionally embodied) that occurs at networking meetings is that someone will offer unwanted advice because s/he is an expert and can see that a person they are talking to needs the advice. 

The problem is that the person hasn’t asked for the advice and feels resentful and likely will not fully listen because the person offering the advice hasn’t taken the time to consider whether or not the person is ready for the advice. 

Have you been either person in this situation?

Chances are you have been either person. 

Certainly I’ve been both the person who didn’t want advice and the person who offered advice and came off as a know it all. When you come off as a know it all, people don’t want to be around you, because while you might have the answer they need, what they don’t need is you forcing it down their throat. 

In fact, what they really need is for you to be considerate of them and to take an approach to offering advice that doesn’t come off as you being a know it all.

So how do you go about offering advice without coming off as a know it all?

  1. Listen carefully. Listen to what the person is saying. A lot of times what a person really needs is to be listened too. If you interrupt with advice, what it demonstrates is that you aren’t interested in them and their problem. You are more focused on what you know than on discovering what they need.
  2. Ask them if they want advice. After you’ve listened to someone, ask them if they want advice or feedback from you. If they say yes (and usually they will) then its ok to offer advice, because they are ready to listen (and more importantly they feel listened to and acknowledged).
  3. Avoid statements that include the word "but". Whenever someone says a sentence that includes the word but, it indicates that the first part of the sentence isn’t important. It marginalizes what was said, and emphasizes the second part of the sentence, but it also can marginalize the person hearing it, because even if you offer a compliment, it comes off as a back handed slap across the face.
  4. Recognize you don’t know everything. You may know a lot, but if you recognize that you don’t know everything, you keep yourself open to learning more. Just as importantly it helps you be humble even when you are an expert.
It is wonderful to want to help people and offering advice can be a good way to do it. Just remember that the person who might need your advice also needs to be respected and considered. 

Think about how you want your advice and you to be remembered and then approach the person, and be open to the possibility you may not offer the advice because they aren’t ready for it.

Crédito fotografía: lenm / 123RF Stock Photo

This is a guest post by Taylor Elwood. He became certified as a business coach and started his own business – Imagine Your Reality Business Coaching. He teaches other business owners on how to move their business from survive to thrive! You can visit his blog at Imagine Your Reality and follow him on Twitter

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Which is the Best Way to Manage your Growing Customer Base?

 How do you manage your customer base?
I bet that when you first started your business, your dream was to have an ever growing customer base. And little by little, step by step, as you continued interacting with more people, helping potential customers become aware of your business, witnessing as more and more people bought your products or services, you also started to see an increase in your daily tasks, more phone calls to make, scheduled meetings, emails to be sent, proposals and presentations to be sent, documents, sales orders, and a number of small activities, all of them important, all of them necessary.

By this time, you might have noticed that having an agenda full to the utmost with small notes, sticky notes, reminders of events scheduled in your mobile phone's calendar, won't be enough for you to stay completely up to date with all your stuff.

Do you remember that one big contract you lost, simply because you weren't able to phone the client the day you both agreed upon, due to a real life emergency that came up, and the contract was awarded to your competition?

Do you remember how embarrassed you felt when, during a meeting with your sales staff, you angrily claimed to one of the guys why the company had not heard back about that interesting proposal that had been prepared and sent to the client two weeks ago, only to be confronted with the following reply: "But boss, at last week's meeting I told you this project's decision had been postponed until next year"?

It is then time to begin managing relationships with your customers.

And this expression "Managing customer relationships" has been around for quite a while, however, it's often associated with the use of tools, when it really should not be.

Managing customer relationships is a must for any business owner, regardless of the size of the company or the industry it is in.

To close a sale, you must be in the appropriate place, at the right time with the right information.

Every business depends on the effective management of customer relationships, if you don't believe so then ask any sales director who has missed the opportunity to close a deal for the sake of not having in his hands the required information in a timely manner.

The real challenge is that relationship management can be implemented in a highly sophisticated way or not, depending on how you, as an entrepreneur, understand and value the relationships you have with your customers and prospects before, during and after the sale is done.

You might think that it's an issue that concerns only to big, large business but not to small operations like yours, or just because you only have an online store and never see your customers face to face, but regardless of the type of customers you have, what happens before, during and after the sale is important to keep them coming back and doing business with you .

That is why you must manage those relationships effectively.

Here come the tools to help us all out: CRM platforms.

For over a decade I've been using CRM platforms for customer relationship management. I currently use Zoho CRM, but before this one, my favorite was ACT! developed by the people from Sage Software.

But far from simply going to recommend you one tool or the other, I want to share with you what I believe to be the main advantages you will get by using them, regardless of a thousand other things and wonders you can achieve if you really go deep and dominate them 100%:

  • Contact information of your customers and prospects stored in one place: Do you remember the time you had to fire a sales guy a couple of years ago who took with him all customer related information, and then  your secretary had to go back, invoice by invoice, budget by budget gathering all the information to again build the database? This problem is solved with a CRM platform. It allows you to store in one place all the contact details of your customers and their businesses: addresses, phone numbers, details of decision makers, in just one word: EVERYTHING.
  • You will be aware, at all times, of the current situation of each client and/or prospect: providing you with vital information for making timely and effective decisions. Having on your hands the results a sales guy obtained during his last meeting with that important customer, even if the meeting was held outside of your city, will allow you to make better decisions.
  • They allow you to manage your own schedule, and that of your own people, more effectively: with CRM platforms you can schedule on time tasks that are required to close a deal and all pending activities, therefore you will never start the day without a perfectly clear view of how you would invest your time, and which are the things that can wait .
  • Save time by automating certain tasks: And this is a point that often causes pointless arguments. There are jobs that should necessarily be automated and to clarify this point, I ask you the following question: Do you really think it's worth writing the same email 20 times and then send it to your customers? It may make sense when you have two or three customers, but how would you handle it if you had 50? And 150?
  • You can do effective follow up on all business opportunities that are pending: both those you're taking care of directly, as well as those managed by your sales representatives, so you will not miss any of them.

And these certainly are just five of the many benefits you can get from a CRM platform. As you can imagine, I mainly use them for business management, but justo the same way, all CRM platforms can provide you with relevant information to all departments of your company, from sales to administrative and billing.

People say information is power.

And this phrase is still as important today as it was 50 years ago, especially when the markets around the world are so competitive, and you have to be so en top of so many things.

That you own a small business and only have a few customers?

Well, you shouldn't think only about customers who buy from you. Instead try to think also about those customers to whom you would like to sell, and those that once bought from you, but have not done it again, or with whom you just had a couple of conversations and nothing else.

Customer relationship management goes far beyond the tools we use.

Don't you think it's worth to take advantage of the technology that exists today and use it to get more and better growth opportunities for your business, developing an excellent and effective management of your relationships with customers?

Keep always in mind that the sales you're not doing you, are been done by your competition. What are you gonna do about it?

Photo credit: peshkova / 123RF Stock Photo

Related reading on this blog :
How can I Build A Company With a 2.0 Mindset?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

4 Easy Tips to Effectively Managing Your Time

Do you manage your time properly?
I was recently talking with a friend of mine about time management and the achievement of our personal and professional goals, and it appears to be an issue that becomes quite a challenge for many people, especially given the many things fighting to grab our attention each and every day, and asking us to allocate for them a little piece, or a huge portion, of our time.

And to pay attention to all these things and all the items pending in our to-do list everyday, we have just one, limited, non-renewable resource: time.

For better or worse, there are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, and a year has between 365 and 366 days, depending on whether the year is a leap one or not.

Up to the date I’m writing this post, there are no changes planned for it, and so far no one has discovered a formula to add hours to the day, or days to the week, and more weeks per year.

Therefore, for all things we want to do with our lives, we have a 24 hours day. No more, no less.

Everything you do should either bring in money or make you happy, or a combination of both.

It might sound cruel, but unfortunately, it's simply true: If what you’re doing doesn’t produce money (or helps you make money) or makes you happy (or helps you feel happier) then you can consider a waste the time you are investing in that activity.

Why a waste? Because there is no way you can go back in time and retrieve those minutes you spent in that activity, and make a more productive use of them. The time is not recyclable. It’s just gone and that’s it.

Effectively manage your time by following these four simple steps.

That’s why the first thing you have to do is to set priorities, at least it’s what I do with my personal and professional life.

There is no time to do everything, nor it’s worth to investing your time in doing certain things.

Like the rest of us, there are many things I would like to do, but when I classify them according to the goals I’m pursuing, I realize that I don’t really need to go for that many things, at least not in the short or medium term.

And at this point we truly have to be very honest with ourselves: Remember that one “Speaking in Public” course? you thought it might be a good one for you now, but then realize it should be postponed and, instead, you should focus your time in getting that training to get to know the product you’re selling more intimately.

Once I know what activities should I invest my time on, I have to check whether there are deadlines I have to consider for them, to properly plan ahead.

This way I know what activities should I do today, which can be done tomorrow or later on the week, or which can be put aside until next week, without getting myself in trouble.

Classify your tasks based on the time it takes to get them done.

Once I make the list of all activities that will help me achieve my goals of making money and living a happier life, and knowing when I'm supposed to have them done, then I classify them according to the time required for properly execution.

There are things I can do in a couple of hours, others I can’t. There are activities which are performed only once, there are others that should be carried out on a continuous way or periodically.

With this in mind, I put things in perspective and can effectively plan the use of my time.

To explain myself better, I give you an example:

  • Riding my bike: makes me feel very happy and helps me be more productive in my daily work. This activity should be carried out continuously, therefore I have made the decision to invest between 60 and 120 minutes each session, 3 to 4 times a week, every week.
  • Get additional product training: I'm taking a course that helps me deepen in the knowledge of the product I'm working with now, so it will help me make more money. It’s a course that features 12 main lessons, each of them with several chapters that can last up to an hour each. Can I finish it in one day? No. So, I have made the decision to schedule three to four, two-to-three-hours sessions, each week, until I finish the course.

When I get to this point, I kind of have a better idea on what I will do with my time each day, which activities I am going to perform and how long I expect to devote to each one.

I don’t mean by this that your day should be directed by a rigid list of things you should do, with minutes and seconds allocated for each one. I’m not talking about something that rigid and strict, but what I do mean is that we should put a strong effort to take it seriously and consider it as an exercise in organization and planning.

Your time should be used with common sense and on things that are relevant to you.

Time is a very valuable resource to waste it on things that are taking you nowhere. By now you might be thinking: "Joel,  what if I simply need to relax just for a bit and disconnect from the world to recharge my batteries?"

That’s ok then. You have a very clear goal in your mind: "Disconnecting from the world". That will definitely make you feel happier, therefore it’s a task you can consider a priority for you, thus devoting your time to it would be the right thing to do.

The real question here is: would you spend a couple of hours reading a newspaper that doesn’t have any interesting news for you? could you sit in front of the TV all afternoon long and flip from one channel to another, without finding anything relevant for you to see? could you be at your office, chatting with your friends on Facebook, while you know there is a business proposal you still have to write and has to be delivered this very afternoon, before 6 pm?

I recommend you to read:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Are You Familiar With The Newest Hootsuite Features to Easily Share Content?

To Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and last week I was really surprised and excited when I learned about the new features launched to the market by my preferred social media management tool: Hootsuite.

And they have been changes whose only, and evident goal from my point of view, has been to make the content sharing and scheduling experience more positive and efficient for its users, that is, for you and me.

Now, only with the click of a button, Hootsuite offers you an easier way to share relevant content through all your social media channels, from anywhere in the web.

What are those changes and how can you make use of them?

Now you can select the text you would like to use when sharing a specific post.

Even though this is not a brand new feature, since I have been using it for a while now, the thruth is the dialogue box has been completely redesigned if you compare it with the one they used before, with a fresher and cleaner look, making for a more grateful user experience.

It only takes a few clicks to take advantage of it. When you are surfing the web and find yourself in front of that wonderful piece of content you would like to share with everyone on your social world, just do the following:
  1. Highlight on the post the main idea or paragraph you would like to use to create your message. Right click on it and you will be offered an emerging menu with the following option...
  2. "Share selected text via Hootsuite", click on it and you are taken to the following screen.

  3. Highlighted text will appear on the "Compose message" box. You can either leave it like that or make changes to it.
  4. From the drop down menu, choose the account (or accounts) through which you'd like to share the content.
  5. Choose the date and time of the day for your message to be published.
  6. You finally click on either "Schedule" to have your message programmed or "Auto-Schedule" to allow Hootsuite itself to choose the best time of the day for the message to be published.
It's really that simple, and the most important thing from my point of view, is to have the possibility to choose the text you would like to use to compose your message, allowing you to specifically choose that great phrase or idea you have the feeling will deliver the most positive and valuable message to your audience.

You can also share videos directly from YouTube.

The second thing that I found really interesting was the addition of a "Share with Hootsuite" button right next to the "Susbcribe" button inside the YouTube playback screen, exactly when you are watching the video, without asking you to leave the screen. Just right there, in front of your eyes.

This way does not allow for any distraction nor requires from you to take any additional action other than clicking on the "Share with Hootsuite" button and follow the same steps I indicated above:

  1. Click on the "Share with Hootsuite" button.
  2. From the drop-down menu choose the account (or accounts) through which you'd like to publish your message. Keep in mind you can always change the text included in the "Compose message" box.
  3. Finally you either choose date, time and click on "Schedule" to program your message or allow the "Hootsuite Auto Schedule" feature to do the job for you. That easy!

Discover Twitter conversations that include your keyword search in Google, right when you're searching.

And this is a feature you could only make use of before directly from you Hootsuite dashboard. So from now on it is all much easier. I offer you the following example so that you can follow me through. It's really simple and only takes a few clicks of your mouse.

  1. Type in your search term in Google's seach bar. For this example I performed a search using the word "Batidora (Blender)". As usual, Google offers you its SERP results. This isn't new.
  2. If you look closer, on the right side of your screen there is a small tab. When you click on it, a new tab opens up with the "Twitter results for" page, generated by Hootsuite, which shows the most recent tweets people are sending out that include your search term.
  3. Giving you the opportunity to directly add it to your Hootsuite dashboard.
  4. Ot to directly engaged with the Twitter community by either "Replying to" or "Retwitting"  messages other people are posting related to the keyword you initiated your search with.
As you can see, in this very simple way you can immediately engage with Twitter users that are talking about subjects of your interest and closely related to your business. Better timing impossible.

For me it is very clear, and I do hope to have helped you see it the same way. Those changes are aimed to reaching out for users instead of asking them to go to their dashboards everytime they want to share content, and that's a significant step.

The tools is getting closer to its users instead of the other way around, and that is great.

In a few words: ¡Making easier their users experience!

¿Do you use Hootsuite to manage your social media accounts?¿How do you feel about the new changes?

Related post in this blog:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Can a Sales Guy Ever Say "He’s Got Nothing To Do"?

Can you say you've got nothing to do?
A few months ago, talking to a colleague who was doing sales for an engineering company at that time, just as he was coming back from his two-weeks summer vacation, he said to me that his first few days back in the office were always extremely heavy because "things were really slow. He didn’t have anything to do at his workplace by that time."

Obviously I felt the need to ask him "Why do you feel like not having anything to do?", to which he replied: "It is that all my clients are on their summer break too and they have not come back just yet."

And his reply hit me so hard that I couldn’t help but realize that he was making the same mistake that many seasoned sales representatives make: devoting most of his time managing an active customer base, especially those accounts from which he was receiving a good turnover.

While managing your sales team, or even if you're the person responsible for carrying out the selling side on ​​your business, you must always stay focused on your main task: bringing in new customers.

If you want it briefly, two tasks: prospecting and managing.

The ideal situation for any sales representative in small to medium size business must be to split his time between the completion of three main tasks:

  • Continuously finding new customers.
  • Making sure requests from all active customers are served the best way possible.
  • Developing strong relationships with active customers.

Out of all these, the most important one (and certainly the reason why you have hired a sales representative to start with) is looking for new customers on a regular basis. That's why it made the top of my list.

However, if your own a small company, or if you are the kind of boss who thinks that a sales representative should be responsible for all activities related with his customers, such as collecting money or coordinating delivery of the merchandise, you must definitely think again, because you are going to be using your salespeople’s time for doing things that should not be considered their primary task, and that, ultimately, will bring its own consequences.

And if you're doing the selling, and at some point in time you find yourself in the same situation as my colleague was, keep always in mind your main task is to find new customers for the company. If "all your clients are on their summer break" it is then the best time you’ll have to search for new customers, because nobody will be calling you on the phone or emailing you.

Your customer base needs to grow larger every day.

And growing your customer base is the one and most important thing you can do to promote your business’ commercial success. If any of your sales representative has enough free time as to say "he has nothing to do", it is then that he’s not trying hard enough to get new customers for your company.

And this is, the way I see it, one of the biggest mistakes you or any person who engages in sales or have the responsibility to manage a sales team can make: to only focus on managing active clients or those who are more likely to buy, and leave searching for new customers on the side.

Why should your business always be searching for new customers?

I am sure your answer is going to be something like "to make more money", "to generate more sales", "to boost company’s growth" or "to make shareholders happy", and even though they are all true, there is a deeper reason: a solid, always growing customer base, guarantees your company will be strong enough as not to significantly depend on one single customer (or a small group of them) and will allow it to cope with unforeseen situations (declining sales, other business closures, etc.) in a less painful way.

A solid, always growing customer base provides your business with the strength it needs to survive to market fluctuations.

Have you ever heard of companies that have had to go bankrupt because they lost just one single customer, but which happened to represent a significant percentage of their total billings? Or companies that simply lost a significant portion of their market share and and were not able to put it all back together again?

Cases like these have been many, and most of them are pretty well documented on the Internet. Google them. I am sure you’ll learn a lot, and will recognize how important it is that your salespeople (or even yourself, if you're doing your own selling) keep themselves always on the lookout for new customers.
If you don’t find new customers, it is that you're not looking hard enough.

I have also had the opportunity to talk with salespeople who tell me things like "we’ve got the market fully covered," or that "customers for my product belong to a very exclusive niche", thereby trying to justify their own apathy, or their own inability to discover new opportunities, to analyze their market from different points of view, or to experiment in alternative niches.

Every day, hundreds if not thousands of new consumers who may be potential customers for your business, join the market. Every single day. Go after them.

If I had to make a very general list to include all activities I would like my salespeople to focus on, it would be something like this:

  • Manage all activities related to active customers (those which are actively buying)
  • Strengthen and deepen relationships with these customers.
  • Develop relationships with potential customers as well.
  • Continuously look for new business leads for the company.

There shouldn’t be any opportunity for you to be not busy: If you are not working on servicing active customers, then you should be looking for new ones. It’s that simple.

And if you are managing a sales team which really and honestly is so busy that they don’t have the time to look for new customers, then that’s great news for you: ¡It is then time to hire new salespeople to do the job!

If really you don’t have the time to look for new customers, then hire salespeople to do the job for you.

On top of everything, for any sales department to be considered “effective”, it should be focused on performing two tasks at all times: actively looking for new customers and effectively managing active customers.

Please make a note on the adjectives I have chosen to use: the looking for new customers should be "active", dynamic, committed, continuous and interested, and the managing should always be "effective", meaning there is no time to waste on doing other things not related with managing active customer, like complaining about not having time enough to do the job.

Each one of them, both effectively managing active customers, and generating new ones, are equally important to your business project, yet to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and in any sales department, no matter how large it can be, the #1 goal is to generate new customers for the company.

Are you focusing your attention and efforts on it?

Photo credit : citalliance / 123RF Stock Photo

Related posts in this blog:
Why You Shouldn’t Outsource Sales When Starting Your Business
¿Are you an entrepreneur and don’t like selling?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

When Do We Start Creating Our Personal Brand?

When Do We Start Creating Our Brand?
Has it ever happened to you, while attending a social gathering, that suddenly a person approaches you and says "Hey, I do remember who you are. You are (insert your name here). Do you remember me? We went to the same school (or worked together at that company)?"

My wife uses to say that I meet with someone I know in every place I go and I have always had to agree with her.

One of those many times, I had a very entertaining and enlightening exchange with a woman. I'll let you know why I found it enlightening later on this post.

It turned out that we had been neighbors in Venezuela, during my teenage years, and she studied at a high school located two blocks away from my house and which we (my teenage buddies and I) used to visit every year, during Carnival celebrations, to bath all the girls who studied there with water, flour and everything we could think of, as soon as they were coming out through the main gate.

When she told me she studied right there, during those years of my life, my face turned pale, I felt an “I-don't-know-what-it-is” kind of feeling through my entire body, and I was only able to tell her: "Well, you know, I really hope you were not among the victims of one of our carnival visits".

Our personal brand has always been there with us.

Everything we’ve done, everything we haven’t done, our good decisions, those not so good, our good deeds and those that make us look away in shame, they are all part of our personal brand.

Your brand can not be created, because it's been established for a long time.

It’s not something we can create as if it was coming brand new on a box, because it has always been out there. That's why I said the encounter with this woman was enlightening to me: Your personal brand can’t be created, because it has been created for a long time, both your personal and professional brand, although nowadays, we usually refer to your "personal brand" when we truly mean your professional one, but for the purpose of this post it’s the same thing.

Think of your personal (and professional) brand as the footprint that has been etched in people with whom you've connected throughout all your life, in a personal, sentimental or professional way. And it’s a footprint that you’ve already created, even without realizing it, even without being 100% aware of it.

Why is it important to recognize that your brand has always been there with you?

Because somehow, both professionally and personally, we have to take responsibility for our own actions and all their consequences. Not only for our actions in the past, but also for all the things we are doing today and for those we’re intending to do in the future.

Honesty, humility and transparency, the core values ​​of a strong personal brand

That’s the main reason why I will always defend honesty, humility and transparency as the core values you need to nurture ​​to maintain a strong personal brand:

  • Honesty .......... I guess it does not require further explanation.
  • Humility: to be able to sincerely recognize your own weaknesses and strengths.
  • Transparency: to learn to live with and professionally develop yourself knowing all of this.

And to explain it better, I offer you an example: You are an entrepreneur and want to develop your business. You’ve just come across a company with which you would definitely like to do big business. It would be your "dream client". (Who doesn’t want one?)

While you were doing your homework, you find out that the person you should talk with is called John Doe. His name sounds familiar, but no matter how hard you try to find connections, you just can not.

Finally you get to schedule an appointment with Mr. Doe. When you walk into his office, he stares at you for a couple of seconds, and after a brief pause, he says: "Your face is really familiar to me. You are (please insert your name here). We went to primary school together. Do you remember me?"

Your face pales, you squirm uncomfortably on your chair and start to feel a “You-don't-know-what-it-is” feeling inside. You just can’t make the connection. He looks familiar to you but that’s that. You just can't remember.

From now on, you can put an end to this story the you want. It can be either good or bad. It doesn’t make a difference.

The point is that you realize how your brand has always been there with you, even in those moments in which you weren’t even thinking that someday you were going to have your own business, let alone thinking about having a buddy from primary school be your “most desirable business prospect”.

Remember that your personal brand is the footprint you leave behind in all those people with whom you have related, whether in a personal or professional way, throughout your entire life. It may have been a positive, negative or neutral footprint, but it will always be there.

Photo credit : slasny / 123RF Stock Photo

Related post in this blog:
What Does a Barbie™ Have to Do With Your Personal Brand?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Feeling Absorbed By Your Digital Life ? Find Your Balance To Live Life Intensely

Afraid of missing out?
This entry has been written after a deep meditation I've been doing for a long time now and it’s about a subject I really want to share with you.

I understand that new technologies have radically changed the way we relate to the world . I have no doubts about that.

As a matter of fact, I consider it an extremely positive change . Of course I do.

Whether for business or for ourselves as individuals or professionals, the digital environment offers countless opportunities to interact with the world, in a way we could never have imagined before.

But as with all things in life and business, excesses are never good.

Have we lost the ability to fully focus on the moment we are living now?

A few weeks ago , I was with my kids at a McDonald's restaurant and at the table next to ours, there was a group of people, perhaps the mother with her children, or with a group of her daughters’ friends, neither I’m completely sure, nor asked. The point is that there was a group of four people at least next to our table.

While I continued chatting with my kids about topics we can only talk with them when they are between 8 and 10 years old, I couldn’t help but notice how, in the table next to ours, rather than maintaining a conversation, each of the four people sitting were perfectly focused on their mobile phones, instead of relating with each other.

Chatting , whatsapping, reading emails, posting a picture on twitter, or a facebook update. I don’t know. The truth is that all conversations had ceased, and silence reigned among them. You could only watch them as they’re sucked into their small, tiny screens.

And that wasn’t the saddest thing, but that the situation remained, at least, for twenty minutes. There was no conversation held. Only their mobile phones.

At that moment I thanked God that my children don’t have cell phones and I promised myself I would do every effort possible to keep such a situation from happening in my family, or at least , if it were to happen, to be able to recognize it beforehand and act accordingly, so that my children, my wife and I might always be able to connect to the moment we are living, and enjoy it here and now, not to let it pass without being noticed, therefore giving us an opportunity to enjoy everything, intensely and deeply.

Everything has its own space, time and its own moment.

I think every little thing we do in our life has its own space, time and moment. In the same way I can’t be riding my bike the whole day even though I would like to, I can’t stay connected on Facebook for endless hours, neither can I stop paying attention to my daily chores, my job, my children, my wife, and so many other things we could name.

The same goes for our digital life: it must have its own space, its time and moment in your every day. And it can’t, or shouldn’t, replace at all the experiences we can have each day offline. The same way we can’t replace one with the other, nor can we be making a stronger effort to living our digital life than the effort we put into living our "non- digital" life.

We can't replace our real life, with our digital life. Neither can we keep ourselves from taking advantage of what our digital life offers to us

Because, in the end, everything happens in real life. Or perhaps does it feel better to tell a friend you love him a lot by sending her a chain of hearts instead of giving her a big, strong, tight hug, the kind of hugs that take your breath away?

Or is it that it feels better to email or send a direct message to a client instead of having a face to face conversation over a cup of coffee?

It seems that everyone wants to be sociable on social networks, but what about being social in real life ?

So what happens when you're sitting at a table with some of your friends and they are with their heads buried into their cell phones most of the time?

Where is the social side of us at that time? When did we stop socializing as we did before? and when did we start being only able to socialize in our digital lives ?

What advise can I can offer you so you can balance it all ?

Make it a point to set priorities in your daily live. Give everything the time an moment it deserves, based on your priorities. A time and moment for everything.

Limiting the time you spend immersed in your digital life, and allocating time for all the other things you have to do, including socializing in real life, you'll be able to enjoy every one of them with more intensity, and you’ll develop stronger relationships with your immediate surroundings, with much more enthusiasm than you had before.

At least , I personally intend to do it that way .

I want to share with you the "I forgot my phone" video which fully illustrates message I want to convey in this post.

Forgot My Phone

I recommend reading :
Fighting FOMO: 3 Strategies To Beat Your Fear Of Missing Out

Related post in this blog:
Social Media: Do not stop halfway down

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Thin Line Between "Following Up " and "Annoying" Your Potential Customers

Between "Following Up " and "Annoying"
One of the most sensitive issues for any sales representative is to recognize when he’s cultivating a relationship, and when he’s simply destroying it.

A phone call at the wrong time, a not-so-funny joke, not having up to date information about your prospect, not understanding properly what their needs can be, among many other things, can throw away your opportunity to get the business.

There is a thin line which separates "persistent" salespeople from those who are simply "annoying". What can you do to recognize such line and stay within the “persistent” side?

How do you keep yourself as a person who "is worth spending time with" and do not become a "Oh, no, that guy is calling (or emailing ) me again"?

Each contact with a prospect must have a clear goal defined.

Have you ever received a phone call from a sales representative who has been trying to get your attention for a while, just to find out he doesn’t know exactly what to say afterwards? Or that after the usual greeting in a follow up call, the conversation continues with something like "so what’s up? How are things coming together?"

Every phone call, every email or contact with a company or person you do (or pretend to do) business with must have a clearly defined goal

Time is money, and that’s why you’ve to make sure to have a clear goal defined each time you contact a prospective buyer or a customer. Always try to add value to the relationship, you could even prepare in advance the questions you want to review with your prospect, as well as the information you would like to share with him, so that your contact is always seen highly professional.

This simple way, you’ll have a clear and effective plan of action plan to leverage your time and not waste that of your interlocutor.

How would you like to make contact: By phone or email? Which is best?

Using one-way or the other is really a personal matter, which depends on which one you feel more comfortable with. Keep in mind, however, each one has its pros and cons.

Emails allow you to make use of graphics to grab attention and help your prospect understand what you want to convey. It also allows him to pass it to another person within the company, who might be in a better position to give you feedback, if your proposal is of their interest.

However, the dark side of emails is that most of them go straight to the trash can if the recipient can’t establish an immediate connection between the sender and a subject of their interest.

I particularly always prefer a phone call, unless the subject to be treated is purely administrative and doesn’t require any insight or more interaction with my prospects.

A phone call gives you the opportunity to set a more personal, human tone to the relationship. If it's something you feel comfortable with, using the phone can help you create a stronger connection with your prospect faster, and get the person to call you back.

However, the most common thing that happens when you use the phone to approach your customers is that you you don’t get to talk with them right on the first time, and you have to talk instead with a secretary or an assistant, or simply leave a voice message.

The best solution is to use a combination of both methods, so that they complement each other.

Then it’s time to be persistent ... but just for a while.

The difference between being a "persistent" sales guy and a simply "annoying" one, is in the way you handle the contacts you make with your prospects.

If you have sent an email or have made ​​an initial phone call and have not received a reply yet, your responsibility is to make a second follow-up contact, indicating that your intention is to check that everything is allright and confirm the information initially submitted has been received, if it wasn’t not, send it again and coordinate an additional contact.

If you still haven’t got a response by then, and have even try to make a third contact, reminding your prospect that you’ve been trying to reach them and haven’t been lucky, and still nothing happens, it is then time to put things clear.

And this is precisely the most difficult thing to do: Letting your prospect know that you have tried to make contact with their company on several occasions and have not received a response yet.

Let them know you recognize it might not be the best time for them to establish a relationship, and that you don’t want to become a nuisance if the case is that there isn’t a real possibility of business between both companies.

You might even come to think you're a fool because it is you who is throwing the business opportunity away. It ain’t like that.

Usually, if you've done your homework well, at this time you get a response from your prospect. They are usually very busy too and although they’re willing to get back to you, they just can’t find the time to do so and are counting on you to continue to follow up with them.

If you have always made ​​it clear you have a proposition which is authentically valuable and they might find interesting, they will be getting in touch with you or at least would want to.

Regardless, you should give them time to react and take the initiative too.

Any business relationship should be beneficial to both parties involved, which is why you are as interested in contacting them, as they are in talking with you. Both ways. In your side, because you’re completely convinced your offer will be suitable for their business, and them, because they see it the same way.

Keep in mind it’s very easy to stop being persistent and become an annoying salesman.

Some prospects are willing to offer you their time to talk. Others are not. If you are on the sales side, it’s your responsibility to be gentlemanly persistent with your customers and not to become annoying.

How can you do this? Well, you might start by taking into consideration the steps indicated above and you’ll be doing a better job.

Credit Photography: jaykayl / 123RF Stock Photo

Related articles in this blog:
Cold Calling Sales: Where Can You Start From?
What do we really mean by "follow up"?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

All it took was a bad experience one day with one employee

A bad experience, one day.
My post in this blog last week initiated an interesting conversation about how little effort companies make to sincerely create a positive experience for their customers, properly train their employees to be the first and strongest brand ambassadors, and make of good customer service an integral part of their corporate culture.

"The road to brand loyalty, passes only through a positive customer experience"

Building a loyal customers base, engaged, whom keep always doing business with your company is the healthiest and safest way to build it up.

It’s a concept most business owners agree on and understand, but unfortunately most of them rarely put it on practice or simply don’t do the best they can at it.

There will never be a client who would want to, or would be willing to become a true follower of your brand or company if it has had a bad or mediocre user or purchasing experience, unless you’re one of those who says "let them talk about my brand even if they say bad things" and consider a loyal customer is one who wants to go after your business, inflict some damage, hurt it, put a legal claim, or in the best-case scenario, simply openly spread the word about how bad its shopping experience has been with you.

Your business goal is to have a loyal customer base, and it only happens when you develop for your customers a positive experience “continuously”.

Why do I say "a positive experience continuously"? I’ll get to that in a second

How much does it cost your company to lose a loyal customer?

I recently read on Social Media Explorer (the link at the end) an article  in which its author, Nichole Kelly, apart from narrating the experience she had with her favorite airline, at least favorite until that day, made ​​a statement which I believe is worth to keep as a reminder of how important customers are to the health of your business:

"The price of our brand loyalty is simply one bad experience"

In her story, Nicole shows us how just one bad experience she had one day with an employee, one of the several hundreds working at the airline she flies with so frequently, was reason enough to make her think about going to fly with another company and throw away an ongoing loyal relationship she had had with that airline for several years.

A bad experience one day with any employee was all that needed to happen for this airline to be so close to losing one loyal customer.

Fair? Probably not, if you analyze it in depth, but it's the way things happen. You could even say that Nicole actions were a bit exaggerated like those customers who, at the slightest mistake of the company, are able to build a story of great magnitude. It might be the case, but the lesson to learn is that it’s always possible and it could aslo happen to you.

Not fair but very possible indeed. It's not your decision. It’s up to your customer.

Being loyal to a brand is not the same as it is between people.

Your customer’s loyalty to your business is not the same as loyalty between human beings. That you need to know. And to understand more clearly how certain this statement is, let’s take a look at how it would be if we were talking about your personal life.

Let’s say today you have a very strong argument with your partner. What happens next? That you both will be willing to give each other a chance, work things out and get everything back to normal. How long it takes will depend on how strong the argument was, or whether things that were said were truly hurtful or not, but in a personal relationship like this one, the willingness to give the other side an opportunity exists. Or at least, it should.

If it weren’t this way, no relationship would last more than a couple of months. Or, is there anyone who can say not having had a serious argument with its partner at some point during the relationship? I know I have.

But the difference is that in a relationship where there are strong emotional bonds (which some, including myself, call it "love") there is a decisive willingness to forgive, work things out and move on. The willingness to "give a second chance".

It‘s not so when it comes to your customer’s loyalty to the company and its services. Much more so when the competition is so aggressive they will steal customers from you if you offer them a chance.

Brand loyalty : A two very-clearly-defined faces coin.

Throughout this article I have highlighted two things: "continuously positive experience" and "strong emotional ties". And I did it for the following reasons:

  • A customer will be willing to forgive your mistakes, or your employees’ mistakes, only if there are "strong emotional ties" that connect him to your company or brand. Only then, your client will be willing to give you a second, and perhaps even a third chance. Not otherwise.
  • The "strong emotional ties" with your customers can only be developed if your company focuses on offering a “positive experience continuously" to its customers. Not only one time, or one single day. It has to happen on a recurring basis, meaning whenever your customers get in contact with you, every time they make a purchase, every time you communicate with them.

It may sound too demanding: every time, every day, every purchase, every contact.

But consider the case illustrating Nicole’s post: A bad experience one day with an employee of the company was reason enough for her to think about going to fly with another company, and also to feel upset enough as to write her post and spread it out through social networks.

That is why brand loyalty has these two faces, so opposite to each other. White and black. Perhaps most of this situations get started the very same way: An incident that otherwise wouldn’t be of great significance itself, turns into a nightmare because it involves a client who is willing to share his bad experience with others.

Fair? Once again probably not. But it's the way things happen.

What can you do to prevent this from happening to your business?

It isn’t so hard if you try to focus on two things:

  1. Make sure to create a "positive experience continuously" for all your customers.
  2. Make sure each of your company’s employees and staff members, from the management team to employees servicing customers day after day, understand that "customer satisfaction" is the only road possible to business success.

Only this way, you are taking the best steps you can to make sure you don’t lose customers, for one single incident, one day, with any of your employees.

Photo credit : Creatista / 123 RF

Article I recommend reading :
One Bad Experience Can Ruin A Lifetime Of Loyalty

Related articles in this blog:
How important is what your customer experiences with your product?
The Deep Relationship Between Expectations, Experience and Your Business Success