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?