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