Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Let's put a stop to gender violence, war, hunger and corruption. Those are my wishes for this Christmas Season.

My Wishes For These Holidays!
Usually by this time of the year, I write a post wishing you many nice and very cool things for the holidays, that are just around the corner, and for the upcoming Year, which we're about to receive.

As always, I wish you the very best the world has to offer you for these Holidays and the New Year 2016.

Obviously, this year I wanted to do the same thing but something deep inside of me said: "No. Not this time".

Then I realized this blog has already been out for a few years old and (thanks to all of you) has its small group of loyal readers, who come back regularly to share with me this space. Then I decided to do something different this time.

As a Catholic and a believer I am, I do wish the Holly Spirit floods your home this holiday season and fills your heart, and that of your loved ones, with His Peace, His Joy and gives you all the enthusiasm to start up the upcoming Year the best way possible.

But today I want to go a little further.

I want to ask God to grant us this Christmas everything we might need to eradicate from the world, or do our best effort to eradicate from the world certain things that are deeply rooted in our societies and prevents us from moving forward.

The first one is corruption.
I ask God to enlighten the minds of all those who get seduced by power and money, and brazenly steal money that belongs to those people they supposedly represent, because we must remember not all corrupt people are politicians as neither all politicians are corrupt people. I pray to Heaven so that this people may (and know how to) find the strength they need to do their jobs in the most honest way possible, helping us all to create a more balanced and transparent society.
Then there is war.
Yes. War. That pitiful scourge that has become a business for many countries, regardless of all people who are dying, especially innocent ones who, unfortunately, are in the wrong place at the least appropriate time. I ask God to help us all realize we should simply be ashamed of having war as a business and recognize that nothing in the world gives us the right to kill innocent people, regardless of the flags we hide behind.
I can't keep from thinking about hunger.
Millions of people die each year because they have nothing to eat. Children, women, elderly people. In brief, a whole disgrace that should resound in our minds every time we open our refrigerators to find it full of food that even sometimes goes spoiled by not being eaten on time. I ask God to help us be more solidary with the people who need the most. If we have no money to share, at least to offer something to eat, a helping hand, a word of encouragement and hope, but, please, may these Holidays be an starting point to live life in harmony with those who are not as fortunate as we are.
And finally gender violence.
I ask God to plant in our hearts true love. The kind of love which doesn't mean dominating and subduing our partner using force. As my children were told in nursery, we must learn that "hands are for giving love, and arms to embrace people around us." My Lord, I pray Heaven to enlighten the heads of all those who can only communicate using violence, beatings, humiliation and abuse. May God put in their hearts the seed of true love, affectionate love and respect for people giving them company.

And these are my wishes for this Christmas season and I do hope they grow abundantly for all of us. I do believe this way we can really build a better world the upcoming Year.

May God bless you all and enlighten your hearts during these holidays and throughout the New Year 2016!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Music To Your Sales Ear: "Sweetheart, Look What I Just Bought!"

"Look What I Just Bought!!"
During all the years I’ve working in sales, I’ve had the opportunity to close many deals. As with all things in life, some of them have been easier to close than others, as usual.

There have even been cases in which, despite having made every conceivable effort on my side, I couldn’t reach an agreement with my prospect, but on the other side there have also been situations where I’ve just meet a new prospect and, in the second visit, he has signed a several thousand dollars worth contract, although I didn’t need to push myself to my fullest performance.

And, without actually focusing our attention in any of those extreme situations, either an extremely easy sale nor the impossible one, I'm sure we can clearly identify two very different sales situations.

The first one is that in which I must admit I was able to close the deal by the actual use of sheer force, and by that I mean, sitting in front of my prospect and wrestling with him until, at the very end and after going back and forth several times, my prospect finally gave up, surrendered, gave me the approval and signed the purchase order.

The other one is that in which I wasn’t able to convince my prospect on the first few contacts, although I have done my best effort to showcase how my proposal would fit his expectations and budget. However, after a few days or even weeks, the prospect called me back to let me know he had finished analyzing all the information I provided him with and confirmed that, indeed, my proposal has satisfied all his concerns and doubts, therefore decided to do business with me.

Which of the two situations you believe has given me greater professional and personal satisfaction?

Bread for today, hunger for tomorrow: closing the deal using the force.

Although any vendor will tell you about the wonderful “I-am-the-best” feeling you’ll have when closing a sale after being for a long time discussing and negotiating with your prospect, properly solving all possible objections, closing all possible escape routes, making use of all your hat tricks and resources, until finally your prospect can’t take it anymore and drops down on his knees, defeated, on the floor. Let me tell you, my dear friend, such a wonderful feeling is completely temporary.

On one hand you have a salesperson leaving its customer’s office with a smile on its face, rubbing both hands and saying to itself: "hahaha ... finally I made it my way and got him to sign the contract". On the other hand you have a customer who is sitting back on his desk, dazed and tired, overwhelmed by not having had the ability to escape your seller’s clutches, and perhaps without even understanding what truly happened.

A customer who can only say: "What a persistent salesman! Look what kind of deal he pushed me to sign for"

And for you it ¡s a temporary victory because, as your customer recovers from the battle and reconsiders his decision, he’ll probably call you back to let you know he wants to cancel the contract he signed for, or even worse, simply call your office trying to get in touch with a supervisor to tell him how he feels you pushed him way too hard in order to get the contract signed, when otherwise he wouldn’t have made such decision.

Whatever the outcome of this situation is, it’s not at all positive or beneficial for a long-term business relationship. Your customer will never trust you because he’ll always look at you as a "relentless salesman," "a highly qualified, infernal machine capable of convincing anyone to buy something they don’t want" and that's not good.

The perfect sale: Helping your client make an informed decision.

The most pleasant sensation occurs in the second case I mentioned to you: When the prospect calls you back a few days after meeting with you, and tells you he’s completely convinced your proposal is the best fit for their needs, and has approved it therefore will be doing business with you.

The times I've had the opportunity to experience this feeling I can tell you it’s quite an interesting one: you feel flush running down your cheeks, your hands are shaking and then this sudden adrenaline rush.

You want to urgently share it with your teammates, you feel completely satisfied and proud because you know you've done an excellent job. You’re so excited that can’t keep yourself from telling your customer you’ll stop by his office in no time to sign all the appropriate paperwork.

The perfect sale occurs when your client says "I am confident your proposal is the best and I want to do business with you"

When you get to close a deal this way, you have a client who has endorsed its own  purchase decision. It was not your insistence but the fact that your customer had the opportunity to analyze all the information you offered him, had also all the answers you gave him during the presentation, and then has finally had the opportunity to say: “This is what we truly need”.

It’s what is called a "well-informed decision": There is nothing in the mind of your customer that can make him retract from his decision, because all the questions he had were professional and adequately resolved by you, without unnecessary pressure.

These relationships tend to last for a long time, and even often go beyond a merely commercial relationship, because your customer trusts you. You’ve won their esteem because managed to give a professional and honest answer to their problems, while given them the necessary room to make a decision, thereby demonstrating security and confidence on what you offer.

It is the famous "win-win" situation: you get the contract signed with the corresponding commission, and your client has successfully solved a problem. Both sides have won.

And that's the kind of business relationships that, ultimately, you want to develop for your business. Isn’t it?

Photo credit: bellemedia | See portfolio

I recommend you reading the following posts on this blog:
Already bought your product, now what?
Loyalty and CKCH: When is it that you really lose a customer?
How To Make A Successful Sale: Do We Create Needs Or Simply Discover Them? 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Egomaniac Business: Is Yours One Of Them?

Have An "Egomaniac" Business?
Over the last few days, I have had the opportunity to read a handful of interesting posts referring to "egomaniac business", ie, businesses run by people with really deep ego problems, and reflecting over the damage that having a boss like this could mean for any business’ own development, even for its very survival during difficult times.

And reading those posts caught my attention because clear memories from experiences I’ve myself lived in my professional life on very recent years came to my mind.

Situations like those in which my colleagues simply lowered their heads and remained silent while coping with continuing violations from our boss who considered himself as the eighth wonder of the world, and who didn’t take any seriously timely paying his employees’ payrolls, and used to do it whenever he felt like.

Or the owner of a company I was collaborating with for whom his own ego made it impossible to objectively analyze its market, along with preventing him from recognizing that his product was simply another one in the crowd, and that his own company was just one more within an universe of much more prepared competitors, strongly recognized within their own niches, and with finely-put-together positioning proposals.

A company run by an egomaniac owner loses the ability to understand what the market, both internal and external, has to say.

It’s really a pity to see how your ego as a business owner can come between your company and its market, shooting down any opportunities for it to grow and develop as it could.

It’s very sad to see how your company could be moving forward, if you heard complaints your employees mean through their silences, and didn’t take their heads-down as a sign of approval or, even worse, a sign of submission which makes you feel more powerful and invincible.

It’s unfortunate to see how your company could be going further ahead, if you realized your employees, suppliers and customers, are the most important assets you can ever have, and didn’t consider your business as a place to vent your deep personal shortcomings.

Which should be your first shock treatment against ego? A large dose of humility.

Keep always in mind there are millions of businesses around the world. Millions. In your country, there are thousands of businesses as well. In your sector or industry, is exactly the same. Similarly, products like yours, there are plenty.

What I mean by this is that the worst thing you can do to yourself is to think that everything revolves around you and your product, because it isn’t true. The only one you’re cheating is yourself and nobody else. The thing happening here is that your ego doesn’t allow you to see the real thing.

To stop being an egomaniac boss, you should start by recognizing that the world does not revolve around you.

And if we go a little further, it’s not true either that the only customer your suppliers may have is you, nor is true that the only place where your employees can work, is your company. Just go figure.

Unfortunately, your egotistical personality simply isolates you from your environment, keeping you from seeing reality lying in front of you and doesn’t give you the opportunity to develop a real team, one talented and productive, simply because you’ll never be able to hire someone better than yourself because you either think someone like that doesn’t exist, or because you’ll consider such a person as a competitor who wants to push you to the side and take away your business.

Your business can grow only when you're ready to let your ego go, quit being so controlling, delegate tasks and trust the people around you will be able to do the job that is required.

I know this initial shot of humility is a very difficult act if you're an egomaniac boss, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to get your ego out of the way.

Don’t ever surround yourself with flattering people who always agree with you: they won’t help your business grow.

A phrase that kept on circling around in my head after the reading was the following: "The egomaniac boss surrounds himself by an entourage of acolytes who always agree with him".

And I felt shocked. Not only because it must be a truly lonely life to be on the shoes of the boss who is never confronted by anybody and believes he is at the top of the game, but also by the reference made to a team of professionals who have this attitude toward their boss, whatever the reason for that is, and get to be identified as a "entourage of acolytes". Truly sad.

How can you realize that you need to make a change, if the people around you tells you that everything is perfectly fine? How will you know you are an unbearable boss, if nobody tells you how annoying you are?

Always surround yourself with professional, capable people who are willing to confront you when necessary.

Remember, there is no sense in hiring smart people just to tell them at all times what they have to do. You should hire smart, talented people so they can tell you what to do, and then you must definitely be willing to listen carefully.

Never allow people working with you to become an "entourage of acolytes who always agree with you" because from that point on, your business is doomed to fail.

If you take a good dose of humility and leave aside the evil side of your ego, that so much damage can inflict to you and your business, you can then begin to build real, mutually beneficial relationships with the three most important assets your company can ever have: your employees, suppliers and, most importantly, your customers.

And it is at this time when your ego will be removed from your path, and you’ll be able to actually walk towards many positive things.

Post I recommend you to read on this blog:
The Oranges Bag Management Model.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"We Didn’t Meet Our Expectations, Therefore We Fired The Sales Manager"

"We Fired The Sales Manager"
A couple of weeks ago I did receive a comment from one of this blog’s readers who indicated that in the company he was working with as CEO, they had decided to fire their sales manager "because they didn’t met their company’s expectations".

Of course, so that I could get a clearer idea of ​​the situation serving to frame such a decision, I asked him if they had followed a business plan when they first started running the business, or even a marketing strategy, or had made a complete analysis of what their business situation was, even asked him if they had made all necessary efforts to find out where was the root of the problems the company was going through, or even situations that led the company to not meeting all expectations they had set for the corresponding period of time.

His answer caught me by surprise as he confessed they had done nothing of what I mentioned to him, therefore I was able to understand the decision to fire the sales manager was simply based on the generic "non-fulfillment of expectations" and these expectations were tied to maintaining an ever growing sales volume. So it was a natural consequence, "sales went down, they had to cut the sales manager’s head."

Why is there the belief that firing the person responsible of any department will make all related problems vanish?

And at least in this case, they only fired the sales director. I have known similar situations in which they have got rid of almost the entire sales team. To put it briefly, stories like the ones we already know.

What hits me the most is the fact that it’s really easy for mosts business owners to blame the sales department, or its manager, when there is a significant drop in sales, or when simply, "sales do not fulfill company’s expectations."

It’s always easier to isolate the problem into a single person and believe, even if it’s only for your own comfort or self-conviction, that by firing the person, your problem will be solved, but reality shows it’s not so simple.

Is this why people say "the rope always breaks at its thinnest point"?

There are so many elements which can affect the sales performance of any product or business. The causes pushing a customer to decide and do business with another company might be so varied, even just to make him choose one product instead of another, that it doesn’t look to me as the most appropriate decision to fire the sales manager without having in advance analyzed which were the real causes for the sales drop.

What if the reason for the sales drop was a highly aggressive and competitive market, or a poor advertising campaign? What if there were some other factors involved, which the company ignores?

In a previous post on this blog I mentioned that a sales representatives should only be considered as the tip of the iceberg in a comprehensive marketing strategy which extends from the product itself to the advertising message your paying customer receives from you, including all multiple communication channels available today and all the contact points your company maintains with the client and the market.

Whether it’s the person making the final product delivery, or a store attendant who gave your customer all initial information, or the website through which the customer placed its order.

There are so many contact points, and so varied, that seems a complete nonsense to hold accountable, or isolate as the only responsible for the whole thing, to just a particular agent, specially when the company itself hasn’t done its homework properly and doesn’t even have enough evidence to make an informed decision.

Properly selling a product is much more than simply having a sales rep on the road doing cold calls.

And I say the company hasn’t done its homework because having a sales  department without backing their work up with a business plan or an specific sales strategy, is simply sending people out to the street, selling your products by cold calling and nothing else.

Those guys do not have the minimum support all companies should offer their sales operations so they can be managed more effectively and professionally.

In every opportunity I have to comment about this subject, I always like to refer to the sales representative as nothing more than the farmer who harvest fruits planted by the company through a comprehensive marketing strategy, properly planned and well executed.

However, I do have to insist every salesperson or representative should be deeply and professionally prepared to do their job, yes, that is required. However the simple skill of "knowing how to sell" doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to close every business opportunity you open up for the company.

Just being a good sales guy does not guarantee you’ll be closing all sales opportunities you’ve generated.

I do know many of us which it were like that! If only sales skills were required to do the job, then there would be many sales professionals earning hundreds of thousands of euros, dollars or any currency you might think of.

And we know that it is not the case.

The real  challenge is for the company to understand there are multiple factors which can affect the sales performance of any product, and that the company itself should be actively involved in managing its sales area, building an scenario that invites customers to make a positive decision towards the company and its products or services, taking advantage of all multiple communication channels and strategies available today.

Believing that firing your sales director is going to solve all your problems, is like trying to cover the sun with one finger. We all know it is not possible.

Photo Credit: studiostoks | Ver portfolio

I recommend you reading the following posts in this blog:
What Role Should Salespeople Occupy Within Your Company?
Why Do I Have To Sell More If I’m Fine With What I’m Selling Now?
What Can You Do When Your Business Sales Are In “Free-falling” Mode?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Why Is It So Hard To Collect Money From Your Customers?

Why Is It So Hard To Collect Money From Customers?
On more than one opportunity I’ve shared with you in this blog my opinions about why it is important for every entrepreneur to learn how to sell its products and services, in despite of the fact that sooner or later it will end up delegating such tasks in a sales team or a commercial director, in the best cases.

But thanks to the very kind comment from my dear friend José Luis Del Campo, I realized that I had left aside an issue that could even be as important to develop as the ability to sell, and it is to be able to collect money you are charging customers for your products or services.

Because even though it’s true you really need to have the ability to bring in money, it’s useless to produce all that money if we can’t collect it or, even worse, if we can’t even get them to pay for it.

And this is most likely a problem that can translate into three different scenarios:

  • You’re embarrassed by collecting the money you're asking for your work.
  • Your client doesn’t believe your work is worth the money you’re asking for.
  • Your client doesn’t have the money to pay, either because he’s tight-fisted by nature, someone who simply doesn’t like to pay, or wants to get it all for free.

You must learn to find out when a customer is not appropriate for you.

I'll start with the last one because it’s the easiest one to solve: those customers who do not have the money to pay the price you ask for what you’re selling, or are some of those who like to be coaxed to release the little money they owe you or, in the worst case scenario, are the kind of customers who want to get it all for free.

And I say that it’s the easier one to solve because for this kind of customers there is quite a simple answer: "I don’t want to continue working with you," although you can come up with the words you like the best, or make up a more polite and less frontal way to deliver the same message.

There is nothing wrong with letting a bad paying customer go to work with another supplier.

Why the answer has to be so upfront and straightforward? Because in the medium and long term, these customers end up becoming a waste of your time and an unnecessary waste of energy, both for you and your team.

Remember that during the process of prospecting new clients, there are two key elements which allow you to consider a customer represents an interesting opportunity for your business: The customer has a visible need your product completely satisfies and, the most important element of all, customer has the money to pay the price you’re asking for your product.

No matter how early you wake up, the sun won’t be doing it earlier. And if the customer doesn’t have the money to pay the price you’re asking for your product, no matter how hard you try to sell him into the benefits of your offer, the money is not there and it will become the objection you’ll always stumble upon when your customer tells you "Sorry, I don’t have the money to make a decision."

There is something else you might want to consider.

Every sales process is a relationship between equals where no one is above anyone.

And this will help you give proper answer to the second situation in which you're in front of a customer who doesn’t value the offer you made, therefore, doesn’t think it’s worth the money you're asking for.

If we get back to the beginning of the whole sales process, your customer has a need your product satisfies way more than enough, therefore, there is an exchange of real and obvious benefits: Your customer wins because with your help it will solve a problem it has, and you also win because you’ll get paid some money to provide your customer with a solution to their problem.

When there is a clear value proposition, well understood by your customer, money is rarely a problem.

The problem occurs when you really haven’t looked at the situation from this point of view, or you haven’t made your customer understand it clearly. That is why he does not understand why you're asking the money you’re asking for: He hasn’t seen the concrete benefits he’ll receive from your offer.

That is why, during any sales process, you must make all necessary efforts to establish clearly your added value proposal, ie, the reasons why your client should consider your product as the option to choose to solve his problem, instead of all other providers who are also bidding.

Last but not least, your time and knowledge are also worth it.

If your product or services are able to solve a major problem your customer has, why you should not get paid for it? If you are really adding value to your customer’s life or business, what is the problem that, in exchange for your assistance, you receive money?

If it comes to a product you're selling, think of all the time it took to create it and develop it. Is it really a product of so little value that you must give it for free to your customer? Then why does it make you feel uncomfortable to ask money for it?

Is it really a product of so little value that you must give it away for free to your customer?

And when it comes to selling your professional services, then what do you have to say about all the time invested in training yourself to gain all the skills and knowledge you now have, in order to be able to offer your services the way you do?

Is it worth your time so little as to give it away just like that, even though in exchange of your time and effort, your customer is efficiently solving a problem it has?

That’s why we consider of vital importance during the sales process, that your client clearly understands what your value proposition is and the benefits it will receive after buying your product or hiring your services.

Only then your customer will understand that it’s really worth paying the money you ask for, and even more.

And for those who do not have the money to afford it, or even make you get down on your knees to collect what they owe you, you already know what the answer is.

Related posts you might want to read in this blog:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Allow Me To Insist .... Or Why You Shouldn’t Fall In Love With Your Own Ideas.

Allow Me To Insist!
Have you ever had one of these nice friends who comes to you to tell you a very, very good joke? One of those really memorable jokes which make you laugh for hours without end until tears come out of your eyes?

I do know it has happened to me several times. In fact, I still clearly remember that one joke I heard when I was 10 or 12 years old, and everytime I am asked to tell a joke nowadays, I do start with that one. It was that good!

What would happen, for instance, if the same person tells you the very same joke a second time, and a third, even a fourth time?

Let me take a guess: As the time goes by and you hear the same joke time and time again, it’ll stop being so funny. You may laugh at it just out of commitment, but deep inside you're thinking: "My Goodness, how come this guy can’t tell me a different joke!!!"

And if the person who told you the joke doesn’t realize this, and simply comes up with the same story over and over again, being totally confident it will make you laugh every time, that person will be making the same mistake some companies commit with their advertising campaigns, when they fall in love with their own ideas, especially when these ideas are creative, original and have made a positive impact, and do not see when it stopped being effective.

A very creative and original idea, until it became tiresome.

This post’s title comes from a recognized advertising campaign. The first time I heard it, I thought it was a great piece: A fresh and different approach. A person who took so much care of having its customers enjoy a positive experience, that even says "let me insist" meaning he understood advertising could in many opportunities fall into the gray area of being taken as repetitive and tedious, therefore asked for permission before interrupting its customers’ life.

And the same feeling I had the following times I heard the same slogan: "Allow me to insist ..." I continued to have good feelings about it until I started listening to it every single day, everywhere: TV, radio... you know the story.

It then stopped being a nice proposal to become an annoying message in my ears, sadly associated with unpleasant feelings.

It was then that something which had been an original and creative idea, transformed into an unwelcome message. Now, every time I listen to it, I find it just intrusive and certainly unpleasant, and can’t help but wonder why the company using it on its advertisements hasn’t made the decision to switch to a new creative piece.

My feeling now is that such a campaign clearly shows someone, somewhere, thought the idea was sufficiently unique and original as to keep on drilling it into our heads, its audience’s heads, by all media available and for as long as possible.

Who came up with the thought: "The important thing is to have people talking about your brand, even if it’s trash talking"?

This phrase I've heard many times at different events and seminars I’ve attended: "The important thing is to have people talking about your brand, even if they’re saying bad things about it." 

It's like saying the important thing is just to be in your customers’ minds as many times as possible, regardless of emotions associated with your brand or company at the time.

Unfortunately it’s something I’ll never recommend you to do: Your brand should always be associated with positive emotions.

For me, from my very personal and professional point of view, there is a fine line between a positive and a negative experience, and it's such a thin line you should stay clear from it at all times.

Why? Many experts around the world recognize positive feelings and talking don’t get spread out as negative ones do, which spread like wildfire. Then, why would you want to get into such an space? How could you keep your coolness when your audience is raging against your brand?

How could you diminish the impact of a deep reputation crisis for your business, if you think the important thing is to have people talking about your brand, even if they are destroying it?

When you are deeply in love, you lose the ability to be objective in many things.

People say “love is blind”, and it truly is. That's why you must never (or should never) fall in love with your own ideas, no matter how original and creative they might be.

And the reason is precisely that the crush blocks your objectivity in many ways, so it could easily happen you remain deeply convinced your idea is great, long after it ceased being effective or properly received by its audience.

And even worst, long after this “wonderful” idea of yours has started to generate a negative feeling among its audience, not only about the message itself but about the brand as a whole.

May the love you feel for your own ideas, not blind you from recognizing market’s reality.

That’s why we must always keep on monitoring what’s happening around your message and its audience. It is not true (from my point of view) that it doesn’t matter whether people say good or bad things about your brand, because the only thing that matters is to have them talking about it and keep your brand on their heads.

It doesn’t work like that. In the worst case, your company and brand should always be associated with neutral feelings and never negative ones. It’s better to have your customers perceive your brand as “insipid”, rather than have them feeling a bitter and unpalatable taste.

Because when this happens, you’ll never know when your audience will want to give your brand a try again.

And that's not good, neither for you or your company.

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Didn’t Want To "Talk With You” ... But Rather Have You Listening To My Story.

"I didn't mean to talk with you."
Yes, even as it looks a little odd, this post’s title is the response I got from a person on LinkedIn after I asked her to please not continuing to send me messages which were solely intended to promote and sell her professional services.

My communication read: "Unfortunately, I'll have to ask you not to include me when sending this kind of messages. I hope you’ll understand. If we are going to talk, let's talk, but not this way."

And, for better or worse (it will always depend on the person making use of the tool, of course), LinkedIn and other social networks allow you to compose a message and send it simultaneously to several of your contacts, being this just the initial incentive to “spamming” people, and by that I mean sending any kind of message to a lot of your contacts, even if they haven’t so requested.

And since I never concentrate on the person who did things, but rather on what the situation was, what we can learn from it and how we can make it better, I think this kind of response merely demonstrates that, although over the last few years we’ve been talking about relevant content, value exchange and two-way conversations, we can’t deny our invasive nature and our tendency to be "spammers". It really defeats us!

We love to sneak through any crack we are offered to invade other people’s space and even more so when we believe they might represent a business opportunity for us, and obviously it ain’t right.

And I don’t mean the fact itself of finding any possible way the person you're interested in pay you some attention. No. Anyone who needs to sell something or to share something that is considered relevant, will do the same thing.

If you don’t want to talk to me, what makes you think I’d want to talk with you?

The problem is on the manners: Saying "I didn’t want to talk with you" basically means your conversation will be flowing from only one side: yours. And then adding: "I just wanted to have you listening to my story" clearly indicates you’re not interested at all in the other party involved in the conversation, and that's not then a dialogue but a monologue.

If you do not want to listen to your interlocutor, how do you expect them to want to listen to you?

Unfortunately it’s this the way many companies are managing communication with their followers and fans in social media and many other spaces.

Instead of a dialogue, they maintain a monologue concentrated on them, their product offering and, in the best cases, content they’re distributing, although this content might not always be relevant to the community receiving it.

How do you expect to get to know your client, if you don’t give them the opportunity to share their story?

In different posts throughout this blog, in all spaces in which I’ve had the opportunity to bring it up, and during my consulting sessions, I've put all the emphasis I can on the need to maintain two-ways conversations with our market, with our community.

And the reason for this is quite unique: The only possible way for you to get to know your market in depth and detail, is by carefully listening to everything your market has to say through all available channels existing today, digital and offline.

Only by listening carefully to your community you’ll discover their actual needs, understand their concerns, the way they live and buy, how they make decisions, and thus you’ll be able to communicate with them more effectively.

Only an arrogant entrepreneur denies his client the opportunity to express itself.

Keeping in mind I’ve told you the problem is not sneaking in to capture your interlocutor’s attention, but in the way you use to make it, I do have to say that, from my point of view, behind this way of doing things a large dose of arrogance on your side comes to the surface. You can name it “corporate” arrogance, (if you want it to sound nice) or entrepreneur’s arrogance.

Regardless of what name you choose for it, you’re an arrogant if your attitude towards the market is not that of a humble person who understands your business’ success is driven by money in the pockets of the person sitting on the other side of the table: your customers.

As longs as you don’t realize customers who buy from you are the lifeblood of your business, you'll be driving your business backwards.

Business nowadays operate very differently. It’s no longer you or your business who dominates the conversation with customers, because there are hundreds (if not thousands) of companies in your market, which have product similar or identical to yours, and they are also playing on the same game.

Now your customer have access to a lot of information related to their needs and with the products supposed to (or aimed to) fulfilling them. And it often happens without you, or your company, knowing about it.

So it’s necessary you put aside your old mentality, and then focus your efforts on developing nutritious and two-ways interactions with the people and companies you consider represent, or could represent, an interesting opportunity for your business.

If you don’t do so, unfortunately you’ll get the silence of your community as a reward and won’t have any relationships being developed with them.

Is that what you want for yourself or your business?

Photo credit: brunobarillari | See portfolio

I recommend you reading the following posts on this blog:
Are you listening? But…. really?
Social Media: How to destroy a relationship in less than 24 hours.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Why Do I Have To Sell More If I’m Fine With What I’m Selling Now?

Why Do I Have To Sell More?
Last week while I was talking with a friend of mine who runs a couple companies which had their golden days during the years in which Spain enjoyed its time of greatest abundance.

Obviously, sales in both his businesses were moving forward effortlessly, almost as if in autopilot: new customers with fresh money on their hands were flooding the market, every product was almost brand new to everyone in an environment just recently born, being this the main reason why his sales were basically flowing.

However, he then started to share with me the problems he was having with the sales area and I was caught by surprise: In the nearly ten years he’s been running his companies, he’s never had a sales department as such, not even a sales process.

His situation has been what in sales we call "order takers", basically people whose work has been to manage incoming orders from customers, without having to do anything to get them to buy.

And that is a common ground from which many companies have been born and raised throughout time: markets were so dynamic and eager-to-buy that the words "planning" and "management" became simply fancy terms to bring up during any business conversation.

The difference between "simply selling” and "selling properly."

Of course every company can survive selling enough to cover expenses and generate a bit of profit. And doing so many companies have made it through. The problem is not selling enough to cover expenses and generate some profit. Believe me: the problem is not there.

In the previous section I mentioned two words: "planning" and "management". And the secret for all profit driven departments, such as sales, is not to simply make enough money but "to properly plan" sales so that all expenses are paid for, generates a decent profit and also to brings in money enough to pay for any unpredictable situation.

"Unpredictable situation?", you might be asking.

You got that right. Unpredictable situations: market fluctuations, economic downturn, unfavorable legislation, more aggressive competitors, changes in your workforce, and all those situations that usually never happen but, when they do, it can really become a nightmare for most business owners.

You have done very good sales in the past, however, it doesn’t mean you'll continue to do the same in the future.

Anyone can sell, especially when markets are receptive and have plenty of customers who want to buy and have the money to pay for things. Selling on such a favorable environment is easy.

But we all know this favorable situation has been left behind us long ago and yet, many people still keep the same mentality and haven’t realized that what they sold then is not even enough to survive nowadays, and now realize they need to sell more, much more. I hope you're not one of them.

And to sell more, you definitely need to sell properly.

Going from a rough stone to crafting a precious jewel.

As every time I make this kind of statement, I’d like to explain myself with an example, in this case I'm going to talk about talented people.

There are millions of talented people throughout the world for many different activities: music, arts, sports, science, etc. However, only a small portion of them get to develop to their full potential. Why is that?

If you want to sell more and properly, you must professionalize your sales process.

Simply because talent alone is not enough to reach your best performance and bring you to the next level.

For a singer, for instance, it’s not enough to have a wonderful voice: his music must be wonderful, lyrics have to be sticky and please the public to whom it’s aimed, as an artist he also must be physically and mentally prepared to cope with the harsh days of trials, the long trips from one place to another, and a thousand other things.

As you can see, talent by itself won’t make it, but also being professional and thoroughly trained for an increasingly competitive and demanding market. It is like the process for converting a rough stone into a masterpiece, a real jewel.

And the same goes for the sales area of your business: It’s not simply about receiving purchase orders from excited buyers, but being capable of selling to a bigger market and do it on a professional way.

What does it mean to sell more and do it on a professional way?

Selling ​​more and doing it on a professional way simply means not being satisfied with what the market itself can offer and going a step forward to develop your own  mechanisms to generate a growing demand and reach a bigger portion of the market.

If until yesterday you were able to sell 40 product units each month, selling on a professional way will allow you to sell 60 units or even more.

But how is it done?

  • Understanding the sales process of your company must go beyond “taking orders”.
  • Understanding your whole offer must be continually renewed so it meets the needs of a market in constant movement.
  • Offering your sales staff frequent training, not only about your product but also new sales techniques and tools.
  • Knowing in depth who your customer is and what their needs are, so you can properly identify additional sales opportunities.
  • Understanding the sale does not end when the customer signs the contract or pays the bill, but instead that moment is just the beginning of a business relationship which should last the longest.

We could go on talking for hours on how to professionalize a sales department, but I'm sure these tips will help you go beyond the "I-am-happy-with-what-I-am-selling-today” thing to “I have the opportunity to bring in more business”

Isn't it a better way to look at your business?

Photo credit: Christophe Fouquin | See portfolio

I recommend you reading the following posts on this blog:
Make Your Business Grow: What Actions Can You Take To Sell More?
What Role Should Salespeople Occupy Within Your Company?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Never Tell Your Customers What They Bought Is Worthless.

Don't Tell Them They Are Wrong.
We are all clear we need to make sales and we’ve designed all sort of arguments to convince prospects about our products and services being the best option for them. Obviously.

Many of these arguments are focused on the product and its most prominent features, others are focused on customers and their needs.

However, there are arguments which seem to me particularly special and are those  focusing on competitors.

And I do say “special” not because they are actually good but precisely, in my opinion, quite the opposite: they’re the worst way to start a conversation with a prospect whom you hope to convince about buying your products or services.

I'm not good because I am good, but because my competitors suck.

Many times I have heard salespeople tell prospective customers things like "you paid too much money for that product," "your security system is useless", "your website design is rubbish" and so forth.

Anyone can be better than a bad product. Always compare yourself with the best one or one better than you.

And although at first glance it might look interesting to highlight for your prospect the shortcomings of other people’s work or competing products, it turns to be quite a poor sales strategy mainly for the following reasons:

  • It shows your strength depends on others’ weaknesses: It shouldn’t be necessary to compare your own product with the lower-quality ones to show how good yours can be. It should be the other way around: that your product (or services) are able to beat the best performers in the industry.
  • It forces you to explain why you consider competition sucks: and that has always seem to me the less professional thing a sales guy can do. Investing your time (and your client’s) to criticize competitors is quite wasteful.
  • It creates a negative ambiance for your sales presentation: Maybe if you are fond of gossiping along the hall and stuff like that, this situation will not bother you, but criticism (when it’s not constructive) generates negative energies all around it, and that's the least thing you want to emerge during your sales presentation.

Think for a moment about the kind of image you’re creating on your prospect while you devote your time to criticizing competitors. What kind of image do you think it’ll be? Is that the kind of impact you want to generate? Is it good for your ultimate goal, which is closing the deal?

Nobody likes to be told they make bad decisions.

Whatever the product your prospect has already purchased or the services he contracted, when the decision to buy was made, you must assume he was perfectly (or nearly perfectly) sure it was the right thing to do.

That is, at that time, your “I-want-this-person-to-be-my-customer” reviewed all the information available and, based on its own criteria (whether such criteria is the best one or not), made the decision to buy the product in question or hire a particular supplier.

Want to abruptly end a conversation? Suggest your client he doesn’t know how to make good decisions.

By trying to show him that what he bought or hire, doesn't work, it’s bad, doesn’t sell or it’s simply worthless, is a clear and rude way to tell him his decision, and the whole process surrounding it, was wrong and with that, my dear entrepreneur, you’ll have won a slam in your face and a goodbye.

Value others the same way you’d like to be valued.

Properly valuing the work of others creates good energy, and that’s something your future customers will appreciate. Valuing what others do also allows you to create a more professional image of yourself, and that your client will also appreciate.

A sales presentation focused on positive stuff, always adding value, highlighting the reasons why your product or proposal will efficiently and sufficiently solve your customer’s needs will always be a more positive one.

Always value other people’s works and products, so that your own stuff is valued the same way.

Also, if the product your prospective customer bought is really that bad, he will soon realize that because it’ll become evident to the naked eye and it’ll be enough for you to say something like, "Can you see the difference?" to invite him make the whole comparison.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you make a sales presentation.

Focus your conversation on your customer’s needs and how your product (or your services) can fulfill them and, when you feel the need to refer to what your customer has already bought, make sure you always do it constructively and avoid unnecessary criticism.

Besides, and after all, there are no perfect products. Or are there?

Photo credit: christianchan | View Portfolio

I recommend you reading the following post on this blog
Rookie Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make In Sales

Monday, August 17, 2015

Happy Summer Time! Take Good Care And Have A Great Time!

¡Happy Summer Time!
During all the years I've been writing this blog, I have recommended you on several occasions to maintain, or try to maintain at least, a balance between work and personal life, to put aside time to enjoy with your family, to have a little (or a lot) of leisure moments and plain fun.

I have also told you about looking for a space and time to exercise, and to disconnect from all the informational storm that overwhelms us, while I try to offer you as well the best advice I can to produce more money in your business and assist you in managing your professional stuff the best way possible.

Well this is again that time of the year when I will recommend you to go ahead and take the time to connect with your "off-line" life, with the environment in which you live and breathe every second of your life, with all the things surrounding you.

Because such time has arrived for me, and it is my turn to do it. Therefore I wanted to let you know that I'm going to take a little two-weeks break, I'm not sure if deserved, but definitely awaited.

It will be the time for me to enjoy my wife and my two precious children, who are growing at an extraordinary speed, to enjoy with the family, to calmly go to the beach and enjoy true relaxation, taking corresponding sun baths (although I don't really need them), en brief: to relax and enjoy my own life intensely.

I want to take these days to talk about life, and above all to enjoy, relax and spend quality time with my family. In a word: to get back in tune with my own life "offline", to brush-up and recharge my batteries, to think a little about all the things I've done over the past year, and also to think about the many things yet to be done.

Time to think, read, have fun, rest and be completely ready and up to speed to begin writing again on this blog from the second week of September.

I'd like you to have a great summer as well, with your family and loved ones. Enjoy it and have a superb time!

Bye now! Take good care and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How Can You Be More Effective When Doing Sales Calls?

Make More Effective Sales Calls
We are living in an age in which many things have changed thanks to technological advances. One of those things is the sales process, ie the work you have to perform to approach people with the desire to share with them information about your products or services, and convince them to buy from you.

Some years ago, I can’t remember how many, the only way for a sales rep to approach a client was either stopping by their offices directly, or contacting them by phone.

And after that all the tools we are so familiar with today started to show up progressively, being the first one the fax machine, and then moving on to electronic mail (email) and, more recently, all digital platforms we know of.

What’s the difference between then and now? That today you don’t need to see your customer or prospect’s face or listen to its voice in order to get in touch. Digital platforms have enabled us to do so, and nowadays you can contact everyone within your network even if you're lying flat at your home, having an horrendous cold and can barely speak.

The only thing you need to do is to sit in front of your computer and you can maintain relaxed conversations with all your contacts, without even having to bother about what shirt color to wear, if you need a haircut, or if you are just not in the mood to talk to anyone.

And this is as bad as it is good because, somehow, has made us put aside the face-to-face contact and phone calling our customers and prospects, both of which I believe continue to be the best opportunities you may have to deliver a very positive impact to the person on the other side.

While some people say "dog is man's best friend", I would have to say that "the phone is every sales representative's best friend. Why?

Why is the phone every sales representative's best friend?

Sales calls are usually very comforting, especially when they go well. When they do not, then can become quite frustrating and discouraging. It’s normal. After all, no vendor likes to have a customer giving him a hard time over the phone. Or does it?

However, in despite of these type of situations (which happen very rarely), the phone is a powerful tool which allows you to transmit your personal charm, at those times when a face to face contact is not possible.

Over the phone you can feel and measure emotions on the other side, you can be understanding, caring, create empathy, things that through other platforms are impossible to achieve, except in a personal visit.

Only the phone or a personal visit allows you to effectively exchange emotions and feelings with your customers and prospects.

Hasn’t it happened to you when receiving messages through WhatsApp, for instance, that you believe a person is upset about something, when really it isn’t so? Or you believe someone is acting in a sarcastic manner, when it is not that person’s intention?

When you talk on the phone with your customers and prospects, you establish a dynamic conversation, a real-time, live moment of sharing points of view, relevant and not so relevant information and, if you have the habit of listening actively, you can also discover many other things which will definitely go unnoticed if you were to  replace phone calls with an email, or something less personal.

However, in despite of all the positive things the phone can offer to improve sales representatives’ performance, there are some guidelines you should take into consideration in order to be more effective when making sales calls.

Like many things in life, it all begins with doing proper planning.

That's it. Perhaps you are wondering: "How's it that sales call should also be planned?" And, since phone calls are an investment not only of your time, but also that of your interlocutor, they must have a goal that is mutually beneficial, otherwise why would someone be interested in starting the conversation?

Properly planning sales calls guarantees you’ll be achieving your best results.

While planning each sales call you’ll be able to, for instance, anticipate possible questions your customers might bring up and have available all information required to offer proper answer. You’ll also be able to familiarize yourself with the company you are going to contact, if it were an initial approach, or to get to know a little more closely the profile of the person you’re going to be talking with.

You can even establish what goals you hope to achieve in each call, or what minimum goals should be achieved so that you can consider it a productive one, just in case things don’t go as expected.

Therefore, the first thing to do to make a more effective job while doing sales calls is to properly plan them.

Stay away from stereotypes and strive always to be yourself.

In last week's post, I commented that "above everything else, we are human beings" and it’s a reality equally important in our professional environment, or at least it should be.

We are all familiar with, and have come across that charming, witty and humorous character: the professional sales guy. And many people would like to be like him, so nice and pleasant. However, if your nature isn’t so extroverted, then you’re better off not trying to imitate him, because at some point people are going to notice.

Although the monkey wears a silk dress, it continues to be a monkey. For there to be true empathy, there must be authenticity. Be always yourself.

Also remember that you're interacting with another human being, just like you. It only happens that, at this particular time, your interlocutor is acting as a customer or prospect, and nothing else. When that person leaves its work, for sure it has the same interests and concerns you may have, or might be going through a very difficult situations. That you don’t know.

And not because it is your customer or prospect, the issue is any different. By being authentic you'll have a better opportunity to build a lasting relationship based on mutual trust.

The only way to get answers is to ask proper questions.

People say "he who wants a kiss, must aim for the lips" and that’s why, if you want to know something about your prospect, ask the questions you should ask to get the information you need.

Obviously you must be tactful and maintain a respectful attitude towards the person you’re talking with, but only making questions you’ll get the answers you’re looking for.

When you want to know something for sure, don’t hammer your head on the wall and do the right questions.

People do not buy products, but solutions to their problems, therefore, an excellent opening question is always: "How can we be of help?" Or something to convey your intention to be helpful rather than your desire to make money.

In addition, asking questions invites conversation and exchange, while showing a genuine interest on your side to better understand your client’s specific situation, and that's always highly valued.

Do not rely solely on your memory and take notes.

Since we're always so busy, I wouldn’t trust so much on my ability to remember each and every little thing covered on every sales call. Imagine for a moment that in one day you get in touch with 10 or 15 different people, how are you going to do to remember everything?

Well, quite simple, I do take notes. Also, if you make it an habit to tell your interlocutor during the call if it allows you to take notes because you consider what you guys are going to be talking about is important to you, you probably will make the other person feel great, and that generates positive energies.

Many things can be said on any sales call. By taking notes you’ll be able to easily remember the details.

For me it is an habit to take notes on each meeting with prospects and customers. This way, I can always have a backup of things said and agreed upon, can refer to them when necessary and build, at the same time, a small history of my relationship with each of them.

Taking notes properly, you will be sure you’re not leaving any details on no man's land, and you’ll be able to accurately reconstruct the conversation you had with the client when back at the office, working on the proposal.

As you can see, four simple recommendations that will help you, for sure, to be more effective when making sales calls. They’ll also make you feel more prepared when facing the phone: plan your calls adequately, always be authentic and genuine, ask the questions you need to ask to better understand your customer’s situation, and get used to making notes of all relevant points covered.

Can you think of anything else that could help you make it even more efficiently?

Photo credit: lassedesignen | See portfolio

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

On Top Of Everything, And First Of All, We Are Human Beings.

In the last several consulting sessions I’ve given, a common situation has surfaced: entrepreneurs who are concentrating all their efforts on developing their businesses and have no time at all to carry out any additional activity, or it is that they’re convinced they SHOULD NOT spend any time in any other activity as they must concentrate all their efforts into putting their business in the road to success.

I’ve also met professionals who are having a very hard time trying to keep a balance between their professional and personal lives.

In both cases, the urgent situation serving as a background is the same: our society is conditioning us (others might call it "programming") to believe professional success is the most important achievement in life, and that only after you’ve got to your highest professional stage you can actually consider yourself a happy person in the other areas of your life.

And there is nothing further away from reality.

In fact, a few days ago I read an article in which a successful businessman shared how he had seen his life transformed after having spent a few weeks in Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, and how those weeks made him realized that, despite the tough economic situation the majority of people there face, they can still enjoy life and smile often.

Something that many people in First World countries simply dream of doing.

First of all, we are people, human beings.

And that's the reality: To start with, we were born from our parents and have spent at least the first two decades of our lives cultivating our own personas, our "Inner Me", what and who we are as individuals.

That is the basis of everything else. All relevant stories that come afterwards in our lives are based on the values ​​and principles we learnt and internalized during those early years of our lives, thanks to our parents, our school teachers and, after them, as a result of social interactions with our peers.

A successful professional can never considered himself "complete" if its reality as an individual, spouse or parent is broken or incomplete.

From the moment we dive into society, we start to take on additional roles: I met my 25+ years long spouse during my college years. Then some years after we got married, had a couple of wonderful children and reached what I might call my "maturity as a professional", right by the time my oldest son was a couple of years old.

In your case, those situations don’t  have to follow the very same sequence but what’s really important is that those roles must keep the same hierarchy (or at least they should):

  • First "Individual".
  • Then "Boyfriends in love".
  • After that  "Parenthood"
  • And finally, "Professional".

If as an individual, you are not in communion with yourself, if you aren’t familiar with your own weaknesses and strengths, your fears, the forces that motivate you and drive you forward, then you’ll carry all of these shortcomings to your personal relationships, as well as to the way you relate with your kids and with colleagues in your professional life.

It's that simple, in a major or lower scale, but just that simple.

Achieving professional success shouldn’t mean sacrificing everything else.

How many cases can you recall about those personalities most people consider their idols, only to discover those “idols” had disastrous sentimental relationships in their real lives? Or had multiple addictions, whether alcohol, drugs, smoking, etc and so on? Or are regularly involved in public scandals of any kind?

How many times have you felt sorry after seeing the person you had so highly valued, mounted on a pedestal, being thrown into prison for giving its partner a brutal beating? Or because they are publicly and openly criticized by their own children?

There will never be money enough in any person’s banking account to buy happiness.

That’s why it is sometimes necessary to be reminded that our personal growth and development should go from the inside out, and not the other way around. Money doesn’t buy happiness, although it’s clear it makes things much easier.

If you don’t believe that money is not everything, simply take a look at the poorest countries. Those which, at least theoretically, are more unfortunate: Even with all the shortcomings they have, with all the challenges they face day after day, people on those places have learnt to live life with a big smile, and stress is not such a powerful killer as it is for us, who so regularly fill our own mouths saying we have money and resources enough to have access to almost everything.

How do you think that kind of happiness is possible?

Happiness and success are tucked deep within ourselves.

Sometimes it is interesting to learn things from what we see happening to other people. We not necessarily should have to wait to go through every imaginable experience ourselves, to understand things.

For me, personally, I’d like to rationalize deep inside that I can be extremely happy with fewer material things, instead of having to live on extreme poverty to learn the lesson.

Our strength as professionals, parents and couples lies in the strength we have as individuals, human beings.

Likewise, I would like to have the ability to truly pay attention and enjoy all the different aspects of my life (as an individual, partner, parent and professional) without any of them being sacrificed on the name of others.

I believe it’s my job to recommend you to pay close attention to all of them equally. Yes, it’s very important that you achieve all the goals you set for you as a professional and for your own business, that’s definitely true.

But it is also true that none of your professional achievements will have value if, along the road, you leave aside or directly abandon your roles as a couple or as a parent.

And if it’s the case you don’t have any children or are involved in any relationship, then it makes even less sense to become one of those successful characters who have given everything to achieve what for many is "the professional and economic summit", and along the way have destroyed their most wonderful gift: their own lives.

Or it does make sense?

Photo credit: 123RF / Kurhan 

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What Does A Barbie™ Have To Do With Your Personal Brand?
Sorry, Life, but I Couldn’t Find The Emergency Exit.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sorry, Life, but I Couldn’t Find The Emergency Exit.

Have you ever stopped for a moment to think about what a stressful, anxiety fulfilled life we are living nowadays?

Have you noticed how we consider perfectly normal to be crazily busy continuously, without even having time to take a break just to share a calm and relaxed moment with our loved ones?

Our desire to accomplish things, to grow, to move forward with our projects, succeed and end up winning, have become common ground for all of us, even in our day to day conversations.

It’s so much this way that we’ve become fully used to living stressed out, overwhelmed, hyper accelerated, as if all this were a normal part of our lives, and required to succeed. Stress and all emotional burdens associated with it, such as depression, anxiety and stuff like that, have become some sort of a by-product of our technologically advanced era.

And it shouldn’t be this way. As I always do, I’m going to share with you the following story so that you get to understand me better.

We consider stress such a normal thing that we no longer give it the importance it truly deserves.

Did you know stress is worldwide known as the "silent killer"? And if you didn’t know, you better get acquainted with. Many are the studies that have been done around the world demonstrating stress is directly associated with a bunch of ailments and illnesses, so many that only listing them will make you sick.

I have had my own personal encounters with stress, and one in particular sent me directly to the hospital a couple of years ago, not being sure if I was having a heart attack or not.

By not considering how strongly stress can impact our lives, we have all become more vulnerable to its attacks.

And the same thing goes for many other situations and habits such as drinking alcohol, taking drugs and smoking, just to name a few. We are already so accustomed to considering it so normal, so belonging to our everyday, that we are no longer capable of assessing their actual and true meaning.

And going a bit further, you will always find the person who gets upset with you when recommending them to quit their habits, that they’re hurting themselves; or the one who tells you smoking weed occasionally will not do any damage to you at all.

It also goes with emotional burdens regularly associated with stress: we see it so normal feeling depressed when things go wrong, feeling sad, depleted, exhausted, that we don’t even come to think that all these situations come at a high price tag to our bodies and minds.

When the damage is done, there is no turning back.

The really horrible thing is that all these “stress-related” complications go unnoticed until they have reached the point of "no return", meaning the point at which enough damage have been done to either our body or our head, that we won’t be able to fully recover.

And if we do recover, we must pay the price tag and accept all the consequences.

A broken vessel will always be a broken vessel, no matter how perfectly you could fix it.

Have you ever broken a vessel? Well then you have already proved that regardless of the effort and love you put into gathering all the broken pieces, put them back together, little can be done to cover the scars.

For people living stressful situations or who may be going through deep depressions, even if they haven’t realized it, the biggest problem is the people surrounding them will never get to know when their vessel begins to weaken, only when the damage is already visible, and they are completely broken, with pieces scattered all over the floor.

Where is this story coming from and where do I want to go with it? As always, my intention with this post is to add something positive to your life, your business and your soul.

For the father of a dear friend of mine, sorrows and frustrations had been piling up in his life, some of them personal, some others were professional and economic. However, for all of us around him, his friends, it was never apparent those situations were making a dent on his personality or even weakening him, or at least for all of us his mood changes were all the "normal-thing-to-happen" to a person going through situations like the ones he had to cope with.

Sorry life, but I couldn’t find the emergency exit.

However, two weeks ago, he decided to commit suicide and thus wipe out all his sorrows and sufferings. And along with the humongous surprise of such a painful, unexpected situation for all who knew him, the big questions will always be:

When did he made the decision to do it? Why he didn’t ask for help? What happened to all of us that no one could even see this coming?

And deep within the great sadness I feel for my friend and his family, who are almost like my own family, I need to find the lesson that life has for us all buried deep inside this incidence.

I think we should all start by relocating stress and depression to the place they do belong, and never stop giving them the importance they have so righteously earned, just in case we get to lose control of them.

It's okay to live with tolerable levels of stress because it forces us to stay alert and make prompt decisions at critical moments. However, we should never let stress take control of our lives and prevent us from finding the solution to all problems and challenges life might bring us.

If we get to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, agitated, let’s do things to make ourselves feel better: Let's go get some exercise (which is always good), or talk with a friend about what is happening to us and ask them to give us a hand. If all else fails, we always have the opportunity to seek professional advice.

But, above all things, never keep ourselves from looking for help, to let someone approach us with a helping hand, no matter how selfish and arrogant we might be. Because you will never notice when stress or depression are taking control of your lives and pushing you to make the wrong decisions.

May God have you in His Glory, dear friend, and allow you to find in His lap the rest and peace you needed so badly throughout your life along with giving your family the strength to overcome the pain and sadness your departure as brought.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Rookie Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make In Sales

Rookie Mistakes In Sales.
I recently came across an interesting post written by one of my references when it comes to sales management, Geoffrey James (sales_source). On his post, Geoffrey made a list with the 10 dumbest mistakes you could make while doing sales.

And it's funny because, despite the years of experience one might have under the belt, more often than not those mistakes are the kind of little things that scurry through your hands without you even realizing how often they do occur.

You simply have to make sure you are not falling into them, or at least try not to, and you can also save this list and keep it in your head while doing your next sales presentation to confirm they are not happening to you.

Offering solutions to objections the customer has not brought up yet.

Simply because you could be setting the stage for your own defeat. If the customer hasn’t formally talked about any particular problem or situation, don’t bring it to the table yourself.

Don’t assist your client on telling you "No" raising issues he hasn’t brought up to the conversation.

It could also be taken as a symptom of insecurity on your side and you could be sending your client a message indicating you’re not being completely honest and open about your product or even about the proposal you are presenting.

Letting customers decide what the next step should be.

Imagine for a moment that you're on a date with the girl (or guy) of your dreams. During the evening everything has gone spectacularly well. You guys have talked at length, have laughed together, shared stories. On one word, chemistry surrounding both of you has been totally awesome. Suddenly, time seems to stop, both look into each other’s eyes while remaining silent, smiling.

And then nothing else happens because you made the decision to wait for the other party to take the initiative, make the first move and kiss you, instead of simply moving closer to her (or him) and doing what both had been waiting for, all along.

You should always be the one to take the initiative and suggest what actions should be taken next, during the sales process.

During the sales process it works the same way: You’re the one interested in closing the deal, therefore the initiative should always come from you. For sure a prospect who is very interested in your offering will make it much easier, but as a rule, you should never expect customers to do what is really your job.

Try to be always the one proposing dates for follow up meetings, scheduling phone calls at specific dates and so on. This way, you will be sure the ball is always in your court and under your control.

Focusing your sales speech on your product instead of the solution.

Long ago, major industries found out customers do not buy products but solutions to problems they have. Being this so, why do you keep focusing your sales presentation on your product’s wonderful features?

Customers (whether individuals or companies) do not buy products, but solutions to problems they have.

You should instead try to identify how your product solves your customer’s problems and your results will be much better, guaranteed. From your customer’s point of view, it’s always easier to understand your product as a solution rather than a long list of technical features.

You could also think of it as an opportunity to differentiate yourself because most vendors nowadays continue to concentrate their efforts on selling product features instead of solutions.

Pretending you have a close relationship with your client.

And there is nothing that bothers me most than seeing somebody I don’t have any ties with, treating me as if we were lifelong friends.

To sell your product you don’t need to pretend having a close relationship with anyone, not even the decision maker.

Quite the opposite, if you do your job properly, seriously committed with servicing your customer on a professional way, the relationship with your client will start to grow and you’ll eventually come to the point of being more of a friend rather than a sales rep to your customer.

But then you have to be careful not to become your customer’s "best friend" because - after all - it’s a professional relationship with a very specific goal: close the deal. It’s always easier to say “No” to a best friend, isn’t it?

Writing a sales proposal too soon.

This can be due to two things: either you were totally wrong interpreting your prospect’s buying signals, or you believe preparing a written sales proposal will somehow persuade them to make a decision faster.

In either case, it’s something you have to work on. It’s the same as in athleticism: runners should start their sprint only when they hear the judge’s shot, not before. Same thing happens during the sales process: A proposal must be formally prepared only when you have reached an agreement with the customer to do so.

Avoid false starts. Do not prepare a proposal if the client hasn’t requested it.

If you don’t follow this advice, you'll be doing it as the athletes who make a false start: lose all the momentum they gained and return to the starting line to give it another try, whereas with a client, the difference is you’ll be sending a message of  despair and rush to close the deal. And that's not good.

The overly bad habit of talking way too much instead of listening.

According to some of my friends, we have two ears and one mouth because we are supposed to spend twice as much time to listening rather than talking. And in sales, this is even more evident: Sales representatives who talk endlessly and do not listen to their customers, become bothersome and annoying characters. Don’t you become one of them.

You have two ears and one mouth to dedicate double the time to listening instead of talking, not for other reason.

From my experience I know that the times I've listened carefully to my customers, I have been able to identify and address their specific needs and focus my sales presentation only on the product features that were more appropriate in each case.

In your mind, switch your chip from being the "always-talking salesman" and concentrate your efforts on listening carefully to what your customer has to say, providing the most appropriate responses to each of their concerns.

Investing your time on opportunities that are going nowhere.

We completely understand that you’re eager to sell. We know that, but in a world where it’s so difficult to make a direct and personal contact with a prospective buyer, you run the risk of believing that any such contact represents a solid business opportunity worth your attention and time, and you get completely stuck there.

When selling, time is really money. Invest yours only on really worthwhile opportunities which have a clear direction.

There are specific questions that can help you evaluate when a business opportunity is for real, if the customer has a real need and, more importantly, if they have the money to afford it.

Ask these questions during the early stages of any sales presentation and you will be able to assess with certainty if there is a real business opportunity for you, or if you're just dreaming alone.

Not to follow up on what you promise to your clients.

To earn the trust of your prospect and close the deal, you should not give up on the first "no" you receive from them, because trust can only be achieved in time, after you've proved to be able to truly deliver all those things promised, even the smallest one.

Prove you're good with the small commitments, and you will be rewarded with the big ones.

It is really, really important that you make a very strong effort to honor all the commitments you make with each of your prospective clients, whether it’s phone calls, sending quotes or any information you have been asked by your client.

Fail to honor your promises and you’ll see how the relationship with your customer becomes a nightmare.

The selling process does not end either when the contract is signed or the payment is received.

Quite the contrary, this point (or these points) are simply stages of a relationship that, God permits, will grow in time for the benefit of both parties. At least, that’s the way things are supposed to be and what you should be aiming for.

Closing a sale should be considered only as the beginning of a relationship in which everyone is supposed to win.

If you think that everything ends when the customer signs the contract or hands you the money, you will make the dumbest mistake in the sales world: Stopping to  cultivate the relationship with your client long term, with all the benefits it implies both for you and your business.

Focus your efforts on building long-term relationships. Think of signing the contract or receiving the payment as only the beginning of everything and not the end of the process.

Picture Credit: gosphotodesign | See portfolio

You can find the original article I mentioned on the beginning here:
10 Dumb Sales Tactics To Avoid.

Also, I recommend you to expand your reading with these other posts of my blog:
Growing Your Business: What Can You Do To Increase Your Sales?
Can A Business Exist Without Customers?