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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How To Create A Sales Plan For Your Business?
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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 

You might also be interested in reading the following posts:
What Does A Barbie™ Have To Do With Your Personal Brand?
Sorry, Life, but I Couldn’t Find The Emergency Exit.