Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How can you professionalize your sales team? Why do you need to do it?

Professionalize your sales team.
It would be very nice to have a car which didn’t require any human intervention to take you from one place to another.

A car equipped with an autopilot so sophisticated that you would only have to enter or speak the address you are going to to let the car then do the whole job.

Can you imagine it?

It would certainly be very comfortable to have a car that could do the whole thing.

From starting the engine, switching to the corresponding gear, accelerating and slowing down as necessary, turning the steering wheel at each intersection on the road to the place you’re heading to, making a stop when it was time to fill the fuel tank.

In one word, taking care of  all those things we normally take care of when we are the pilots.

Your sales force can not be managed using an autopilot.

It is a common mistake for many businesses to use this same approach to managing their sales teams: looking to hire salespeople who only need to hear the words "go out, bring some sales in and reach the sales goal we set for you" to completely charge their batteries and go out as fireballs into the street to sell, reaching effectively and promptly that sales goal the company set for them. It would really be nice.

And even though in some cases, very strange cases though, you can be lucky enough to hire a “king-of-the-sales-kind-of-sales-guy”, it is very common this sales  management model doesn’t work or, if it does, to render average or even mediocre results.

What distinguishes a professional sales guy from one who is not?

As every time I make a statement like this, let me explain myself with an example. Today I would like to bring your attention to the aviation industry, my lifelong passion.

First of all, professional pilots (also called "commercial pilots", ie, pilots who earns their salaries flying airplanes back and forth) receive recurrent training, ie, at certain and regulated time intervals.

Such training includes reviewing emergency procedures, basic flight maneuvers, flying the airplane solely based on information received from navigation instruments on the cockpit and many other things.

That is, when a pilot is not actively flying, is actively receiving training. And you might ask, "But if they already know how to fly airplanes, why do they need to receive recurrent training?" ... Which would be the same as asking yourself about your sales people: "But if this person already knows how to sell, why do I need to provide her with recurrent training?"

A professional salesperson is trained regularly to maintain its effectiveness and performance at maximum level.

The thing is that selling, like flying airplanes, is not just about having the gift of the gab to convince someone to buy a product or service. That's just what you see on the surface, the outcome of a process of serious and dedicated training.

To be a professional seller, individuals must be familiar with many things, some of them related to the product to be sold, other things related to sales techniques themselves, and others related to surrounding market conditions and competition.

It would be like saying that to fly an airplane, you just need to know how to takeoff, keep it level and bring it back to the ground smoothly. And obviously, that's not so.

No matter how good a sales guy might be, he can’t sell a misconceived product.

Please notice I’m not talking about a "bad" product. No. I'm talking about a "misconceived" one, which is a completely different issue.

In many cases, during their “training stage”, a sale guy receives information solely about the product. Such information is most of the times scarce, poor or simply focused on highlighting the wonders of the product to be sold and nothing more.

This information is often insufficient to fully prepare a professional sales guy to sell the product effectively.

A product is misconceived when one (or more) of the following situations occur:

  • The product’s price has not been established according to the market segment in which it’s competing.
  • The differential value proposition which separates the product from its competition is not clearly defined.
  • The product is aimed at each and every person at the same time. That is, it doesn’t have a "buyer persona" clearly defined.
  • The product does not have a defined communication and promotional strategy, so there is nothing to support the sales people work.

In an article I posted on this blog a while ago, entitled “What Role Should Salespeople Occupy Within Your Company?” I made reference to the fact that a sales rep is just the tip of the iceberg within a company which has a clear strategy to approach its market.

There is no sales guy good enough to sell a misconceived product.

Sales reps are simply instruments used by the company to collect the rewards of a promotional and marketing strategy properly put together and executed. If the company does not do its corresponding tasks correctly, then the seller will be just a mercenary who will be on the road looking after any sales he may close, but wouldn’t be a professional who is developing profitable and long term business relationships.

If all the parts involved are working properly, if each area does its job, then yes, sales reps will have the ability to go out with a properly conceived proposal which potential customer will greatly appreciate, understand and, if it’s aligned with their needs, will become a new business for your company.

If your company does do its job and leaves all the responsibility (and hopes) on sales people’s shoulders, your sales area can never be considered a professional one, and the results you’ll get are far from being those you are expecting.

Therefore, a well-conceived product is the first thing you need to have to sell professionally.

A professional sales guy doesn’t only rely on his personal charisma.

Although any person’s charisma and physical attractiveness may be elements that will help close an occasional sale, a real sales professional must be trained in several different areas so it doesn’t depend on either one of them to be effective.

Let me share with you this story:
There was once a woodcutter who reported to work in a timber. The pay was good and working conditions even better, so the woodcutter set out to do his best job.

The first day the foreman gave him an ax and assigned a forest area he’d be working on. Our excited woodcutter went out to the woods to chop. In his first day he cut eighteen trees. “I congratulate you. Keep it up,” said the foreman.

Encouraged by these words, the woodcutter was determined to improve his own work the next day. So that night he went to bed early.

The next morning he got up before anyone else and went to the forest. Despite his best efforts, he failed to cut more than fifteen trees. “I must be tired” he thought. And then decided to go to bed with the sunset.

At daybreak he got up determined to beat his mark of eighteen trees. However, that day he did not cut even half of that. The next day it was only seven, after that five, and the last day he spent all afternoon trying to cut his second tree.

Disturbed by what he would say the foreman, the woodcutter went back to the office to report what was happening to him and swear he was really determined to work up to the limits of faintness.

The foreman asked: “When did you sharpen your ax for the last time?”. “Sharpen? I have not had the time to sharpen my ax: I've been too busy cutting down trees."

And the story ends with this reflection: "Sometimes one question makes us reflect on what we are doing and how we are doing it.

It is normal in business to listen to staff complaining about being stressed out, not having time for anything, having too much work, but they don’t even stop to think they might be needing “to sharpen their axes” instead of being so busy working. It would only take them a few minutes to do and would save many hours.

This is the leverage effect: with minimal effort reach the maximum result. Falling into the trap of cutting down trees relentlessly will only lead us to our highest level of incompetence."

As you can see from the story, the woodcutter was physically ready but his ax, his working tool was not. The same applies to individuals in your sales team: they can be physically ready, but their working tool (their ability to sell) might not be to its top condition, therefore their performance will not be the best.

Keep in mind your goal must be to turn your sales department one of professional sellers, giving them the recurrent training they might need to stay sharp and on their top performance in all necessary areas.

Remember: Not only having the gift of gab is important to sell, but also your salespeople must have a product that really be sold and keep their sales tools and skills, “their axes”, as sharp as they possibly can.

Photo credit: © Leah-Anne Thompson

Link to other post on this blog you may find of interest:
What Role Should Salespeople Occupy Within Your Company?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I Choose To Be Always Positive: Could It Be That We’ve Become Used To Complaining About Everything?

Have you become a whiner?
Every day that goes by strengthens my conviction that, as long as we have our eyes open and observe what happens to each of us every day, we’ll learn more things.

Certainly life offers hundreds of opportunities to learn valuable and different things all the time: we only have to be willing to listen carefully and draw the lesson lurking behind every situation we live.

A few days ago I met a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen for a while. After greeting each other the traditional way, ask about our respective lives and everything else, I asked him about his work.

He replied: "The same trash as always!". A little confused by his answer, remembering that the work he had last time we saw each other was not to his liking, I asked: "Why?".

"The same crap as always, Joel. Literally, I'm picking up trash in my job!". I asked him: "Are you looking for something different then?"

"No, I am not!" he replied.

And I’m sure I couldn’t hide the shocking feeling on my face, perhaps unintentionally or out of appreciation for him, but it really took me by surprise that he was making no effort to find a different job, one that made him feel better especially after being stuck for so many years working in the same place, feeling frustrated, always complaining about his work being rubbish.

Some years ago, I wrote in this blog an article entitled: "I refuse to say "It is what it is "and "With what the situation is itself" (sorry, it didn’t have an english version) which are phrases commonly used to demonstrate our inability to change our circumstances and have a better life, to take control of our future, simply because the negativity around us is the dominant agent and determining factor in almost all our things.

I refused then, I refuse now and, for the rest of my life, God permits, will refuse to let myself surrender to negative thoughts and complaints and give them control of my life.

Complaining as a habit, turns you into a toxic character

Hasn’t it ever happened to you that you start working for a new company and, all of a sudden, you realize you’re sharing desk with one of those coworkers who is able to steal energy from even the most positive person in the world?

In particular, it has happened to me in two of the last three companies I have worked with. In one of them, it was my own immediate supervisor who took charge of discharging batteries of all his team, whether after each sales meeting, or during our on-the-road campaigns.

If from your mouth come only complaints, you’ll never have the opportunity to clearly see the road ahead of you.

In the next company I worked with, almost all employees used to complain, every single day, about the miserable wage conditions, the extreme delay depositing payrolls, about having too many non-productive meetings and you could keep on going.

It causes much frustration to get excited about your new job only to discover how your own co-workers become the ones responsible for crushing all you illusions, stealing your energy and taking away everything to finally turn you into one of them: Just another whiner!

Who wants to work in a company surrounded by toxic colleagues who spend all day complaining about the life they have?

There are very few things that are built within an environment of negativity. Where negativity reigns, there is no room for creative, dynamic thinking, the kind of thinking that turns adversity into an opportunity.

When you complain as a habit, you stop assessing your opportunities

First of all, I think that continually complain about something without doing anything about it, makes you sink forever deep in your problems, makes you a part of it and doesn’t let you focus your eyes on anything else.

Concentrating your thoughts on what your situation is, thinking it’s just like that and that there is nothing you can do about it, immerses yourself in the world of conformity and self-justification.

Only if you take control of your life and your stuff, you will begin to appreciate your true potential.

What kind of opportunity can have this friend I met on the street, whom I mentioned at the beginning of this post, if for him his work is simply rubbish but, regardless, he makes no effort to find something better?

Doesn’t it seem like the attitude of a person who has already surrendered and stopped fighting for its professional development?

And if you've already thrown in the towel and don’t think you deserve any better, then you're not valuing all options that would be available for you, if only you gave yourself a little chance to look at things from a positive, creative and proactive point of view.

What’is my advice to you?

Always choose the positive side of the story. Very realistic, though, but always on the positive side. You will see the difference.

Photo Credit: Portfolio / jorgophotograph

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

My Two Favorite Expressions As A Professional Consultant: “According To” and “Depending On”

Custom Design Plans.
They made their presence notice in my vocabulary after several conversations with my kids, in which my answer was invariably something like "depending on and according to", all of them together, no supplements, no other words to go deeper, but with a clear invitation to a more complete explanation.

"According to" is an english expression we have all been familiar for years and it highlights the relationship existing between two elements, one defining the performance of the other.

And "it depends" means "one thing that is conditioned by another, is associated with another or followed by it. Being a person under the control or authority of another, needing its assistance or protection".

And, as you may all know, there are things my kids ask me which do not have an absolute answer rather one deeply connected with other circumstances, other situations and conditions.

The same thing goes for managing your business, regardless if we are talking about planning, budgeting, expenses, anything: It all reverts to a "depending on and according to" kind of situation.

There is no “one size fits all” solution when managing your business

Because even if you would think an aspirin can relieve your headache, it will only be true if your headache has been caused by a simple thing, like being hungry or something like that, but wouldn’t be the same if it is caused by a tumor located in your head pressing on your brain. Can you see the difference?

And although this example might sound a little bit harsh, I do think it’s necessary for you to understand generic answers can only provide you with a temporary solution to your business situation. If you really want the results to be the best possible, then you should start from a correct diagnosis instead, and this is the first appearance of an “according to” in your life as an entrepreneur:

Any kind of plan in which you’d like to get involved, must be designed according to your business’ specific situation.

It can’t be any other way. You can take as your inspiration recommendations given by professionals from different industries who are focused on specific areas, of course you can. But that doesn’t mean you should blindly follow those recommendations without first adapting them to your particular situation.


When I do review projects with my prospect customers and they do tell me things preceded by something like "I am using the business plan recommended by John Smith", or "my strategy is the one successfully used by a top rated brand for a long time" or things along the same line, these two phrases, "according to and depending on" emerge almost automatically.

Because as you know, no two companies in the world have perfectly identical situations and conditions, so anything they do will depend on some or all of the following things:

  • Budget they have available to devote to implementing any plan.
  • Human capital that’ll be in charge of putting everything in motion.
  • The plan or actions to be executed are appropriate to the conditions prevailing in the market.

And as you can see, we could continue with a much longer list of factors that can influence decisions that you, as an entrepreneur, can make so the first thing you need to be clear on is this dependency relationship connecting them all.

When doing planning for your business, there are no absolute answers

And this dependency relationship will necessarily take on the form of an "depending on and according to" expression as they do relate to managing your business, because all decisions you are going to make from the very beginning, will all be linked to some other thing in particular.

Starting with the decision about the strategy you’ll be approving, which must be designed “according to” your business actual situation, and through monitoring all implemented actions, which should be evaluated “depending on” how close, or far, they get you to achieving your goals, everything will be a continuous coming and going of things, a constant flow from one side to another, a permanent change.

The point I’m trying to highlight here is all the interlacing elements that relate with each other, factors affecting the performance of one thing and all others, so it all means there is nothing that can be written on stone, neither when planning or managing your business. There is no any single element that may remain fixed throughout time.

"The only thing I know is I know nothing" allows us to keep an open mind to changing and learning, and understand everything is simply relative when it comes to your business.

I positively believe the best approach for ourselves is to maintain a very open attitude towards change and flexibility. As Albert Einstein said, "It is all relative", especially as it relates to your company and its development.

If you accept the fact that "it is all relative", you open up your mind to the real possibility that any situation can change at any time, so the most positive thing you can do is to keep your eyes and ears open to realize when it’s time to go over everything and adjust them, according to the new existing conditions.

The effectiveness of custom design plans

That's why I've always being convinced about the "custom design" concept, with which I’ve been familiar with for quite some time.

When I was in my 18 years and worked as an fitness instructor, the first thing we did was to talk with each of the trainees to know what their physical development goals were. Then we moved on to performing a stress test to each of them in which we determined which were the maximum weights they could handle in each of the stations we had in our facilities.

With these two pieces of information in our hands (their goals and their capacities), we then put together a workout routine oriented towards those specific areas of interest for them.

Custom design plans ensure greater effectiveness and achievement of better results.

Thus, routines were much more effective and results were achieved more easily. Hence the great value of custom design plans: While no two clients are alike, there will never be two identical plans. They can appear to be quite similar but will never be exactly the same.

I am positive it will always be good for you to be inspired by what professionals on different industry segments recommend, but you must certainly adapt any of those recommendations to your business’ particular situation, always keeping a flexible and open mind so you can evaluate your results as you move towards your goals.

As you can see, “according to and depending on” are my favorite two expressions as a professional for those reasons.

Photo credit: Belphnaque / View Portfolio

Recommended articles will complement you.
A business plan’s flexibility: obstinacy or perseverance?
Strategic Planning: The difference between desires and goals.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How to Write Your Sales Plan In Five Minutes

Your Sales Plan In Five Minutes
This is the first time in nearly six years writing my blog, that I decide to title a post with something like this. The reason being I wanted to call up your attention upon a point I believe is quite important: the time it takes to get things done and how this time should be taken into consideration when writing your sales plan.

If you pay a little attention and analyze most of the ads we receive nowaday, in many cases, its main promise revolves around the following statement: "You can accomplish these wonderful results only dedicating to it a few minutes every day."

And you can see it applied to many different areas: learning a new language, earning a professional degree, professional improvement, losing weight, quitting toxic habits, growing your muscular mass, making money, achieving professional success, overcoming our deepest fears ... increasing your business’ sales.

It looks as if the more complicated the matter at hand, the more attractive the offer to achieve it in the minimum time possible becomes. That is, the more valuable and important the result we want to obtain, we are less likely to be willing to devote the time it involves.

And unfortunately, this trend has also become popular in managing the sales area of many businesses.

And my question to you is: Why is this so?

The cult of immediacy is moving ahead of us and winning.

This "why" is directly related to your need of “having everything done by the end of the day tomorrow”, as it happens to many entrepreneurs as well. Perhaps because we are all pushed by short term deadlines, perhaps because many entrepreneurs are thrown into the entrepreneurship adventure after having invested much of their lives in projects which have not been worth it, perhaps for a very urgent need of cash.

The “reason why” can be as varied as you would imagine! If you do not have this necessity, I'm really happy for you, because you are one of the few who are this lucky. As I wrote in a past post, "it is not the same thing being an entrepreneur, than an adventurer".

There is a saying you've probably heard more than once which goes like: "The important thing is not the destination but the journey" and I'm pretty sure one of the worst mistakes we are making these days is focusing too much on promoting the benefits of the destination and paying very little attention, if any, to the journey itself, that is, we are doing exactly the opposite.

I am sure you might be fighting yourself against this situation on a personal level, especially if you have teenagers or even younger kids. Let’s take a look at YouTube, for instance: it allows you to identify many young people who are making an important amount of money uploading videos on a variety of topics.

Just about every corner on YouTube you can come across things like: "John Doe earns millions of dollars a year for advertising placed on his videos", "Manny Lopez earns hundreds of thousands of dollars for each video that goes viral",or  "Jim Brown was hired by Google and transferred to California, being paid an awful lot of money".

But no one takes the time to talk about the process each of these personalities have gone through from the moment they started out to the moment they are living nowadays because, if there is one thing you can be 100% sure, it is that each of them started out from scratch.

The "must be done as soon as yesterday" phrase doesn’t apply when it comes to crafting your sales plan.

To make sure your sales plan is bound to be successful, you have to understand it is exactly that: “a plan”, therefore, a series of strategies and corresponding actions aimed to taking your sales from where they are today to a higher point sometime in the future.

And when we say "sometime in the future", what we really mean is that such moment in time depends solely on the point you’re starting from and the distance separating you from the point you want to get to.

Yes, I know it's very frustrating to listen someone telling you this, being that you really want to get there as soon as possible, and I’d like to tell you your sales plan can transform your company or your product within two weeks or even a month, but unfortunately, I cannot unless you want me to fool you. It Just doesn’t work like that.

How do you know what to do, if you do not know what is wrong with you?

Once you have this “process” concept clear, the first step is then to make a correct diagnosis.

And so that I can make myself more clearly understood, I offer you an example: Suppose you spend a week with fever, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and cold sweats. You've been self-medicating some things after you had initial symptoms, but none of them have worked. You are extremely worried about your health when you finally go to see your doctor.

After explaining your doctor what your situation is, he simply responds: "What you have is just a virus".

How does it make you feel? Wouldn’t you be asking yourself whether you do need the doctor to run some further testing to rule out you might have something more serious than a simple virus?

Does his prompt response make you feel confident about his professional diagnosis?

To put together a sales plan the same holds true: The first thing you have to know is exactly where you are and the real reason why you are there:

  • Why has your sales movement stopped? Why sales have begun to decline?
  • Why aren’t you selling more even though you keep a good ratio of meetings with customers?
  • Why don’t your customers buy, although all of them say your product is great?
  • How long ago did your sales reached their peak? What were the conditions that led to that peak in sales? Do you know them?
  • Where are your sales coming from? From one very high-volume customer and several tiny ones, or from a bunch of tiny customers?

As you can see, each of these questions takes you to a different place, so you need to have the most accurate answers for them because, in the end, you could be taking a painkiller when what you really need is chemotherapy.

And with the proper diagnosis, your doctor can then decide on the appropriate treatment.

It is then time to define the actions you must take to take your sales from where they are to the place you want them to get. Remember that sales is only a small part of a much broader process involving product promotions, corporate communications, marketing and other things.

And I bring this up because it’s easy to think that just sending a sales team to hit the road, properly dressed and with a product catalog under their arm, will be enough to make your sales goal become a reality.

Nothing could be further from the truth: Your sales team is just the tip of an iceberg represented by your company and all the people working for it.

Sales is just one more unit of a much broader concept called “a strong company”.

Although is quite an important area, your sales team is simply the collector of the results generated by all the actions you put together as a company, whether you call it product promotions, special discounts in prices, advertising campaigns and communications, PR events, social networking presence, sponsorship of sporting events, acts of solidarity with the community, supporting charitable causes, and many others actions.

In a post published in this blog, entitled "What role should your sales people occupy within your company?" I make reference to this point.

I hope to have achieved my goal: A sales plan can’t be written in five minutes, definitely not.

First because it is very dangerous to base your sales plan in a superficial diagnosis of your real situation. As I said above, it could invite you to take a painkiller when what you really need is chemotherapy.

Second, because your business’ sales are not an autonomous and independent area among all other areas within your company. In a highly connected world, in many cases connected through invisible platforms, your future customer can get in touch with your company through endless ways, therefore everything should work in sync to cause a profound and positive impact in the market.

Third, because the real situation of each company is particularly unique, therefore, what works for many, might not necessarily be what you do you need.

So the next time you ask someone to assist you in developing a sales plan for your business, don’t trust in anyone who says it’s something that can be done in five minutes, because it’s not.

Photo credit: Theartofphoto / View Portfolio

You will find below links to the posts I’ve mentioned today:
It’s Not The Same Thing Being An Entrepreneur Than An Adventurer
What Role Should Salespeople Occupy Within Your Company?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Til Death Do Us Part" Doesn’t Exist In A Professional Relationship”

"Til Death Do Us Part" Doesn’t Exist
A couple of weeks ago I read an article posted by Andrés Pérez Ortega in which I first came across the word "job-dependant" and with it, Andrés was referring to the widespread practice among professionals nowadays whom hope to establish a dependency relationship with the company offering them a decent job opportunity, based on the premise (a wrong one from my professional point of view) that there must be a mutual and long-term commitment between the company hiring and the  professional being hired.

A commitment implying the company will "guarantee" the employee's workplace, as long as it maintains an outstanding performance in carrying out the tasks for which the company is paying it a salary and offering additional benefits.

It is reasonable to believe any company will be interested in retaining an employee who has an outstanding performance, and it is also reasonable to believe a high-performing professional would aspire to receive from its employer a long term professional opportunity.

Yes, it is definitely reasonable, but in no way implies an obligation on either side. I do think that expecting such a long term commitment between the employer and its employees is a mistaken premise held by many professionals because they continue to feed a distorted concept of what a labour relationship truly is.

As always, whenever I make such an statement, I’ll explain myself.

An employment relationship starts up being a business relationship.

When any business is looking to hire a professional to occupy a certain position, it really means they’re looking for a person who has a number of personal and academic qualifications which guarantees it will be able to perform its job with an outstanding performance, therefore assisting the company in achieving its proposed goals and moving forward.

The company is then ready to offer the successful candidate a certain amount of money in exchange for its professional services.

As you can see, it is a commercial exchange: the company has the need to fill a particular area and searches for a product, (sorry!!), I mean a professional who has the ability to meet and fulfill such need. In return, the company is willing to pay a certain amount of money.

A company that hires you is really a customer who decided to buy the product you offer.

If you are the person who, professionally and personally, has complete credentials for the position, then they can establish a professional relationship with you.

If you don’t, they do not have any obligation even to take you into consideration, in the same way no person is obligated to purchase a product which is not going to help them meet their needs.

One thing leads to the next one: No employment relationship is to last forever

And here I’m going back to the title I gave to this post: "Till death do us part" does not exist, and should not exist, in any employment or professional relationship. Why?

Because there are two conditions that must be met on such relationships: On one side there must be a professional who is having an outstanding performance and is helping the company achieve its objectives. On the other side there must be a company that continues to have a need to fulfill, and is also offering any professional who satisfies this need money and benefits according to professional qualifications required and expected performance.

Would you still buy a product you no longer need? Would you continue to do business with a non-paying customer?

The reasoning is simple: when a product is no longer useful for what it's supposed to be useful, then it ceases to be a viable purchase option and there is no need to buy it.

Similarly, if you have a product (in this case your professional services) and you’re dealing with a customer (call it “employer” if it makes you happier) that is not willing to pay the price you are asking for, then such customer is not a proper fit for you.

Going back to the situation we are referring to today, if a company has no way to put together a decent offer for your professional services, you have no obligation to commit to it. And even more if it happens to you, as it did to me, the company is no longer honoring their side of the “commitment”, and stopped paying you for no reason.

As you can see, and I do hope you see it now, expecting a professional or business relationship to last "until death do us part" is a bad thing for both sides: the company hiring and the professional being hired.

Why you should fight the "job-dependency"?

Expecting to have a job lasting forever is like trying to have a customer who buys your products for the rest of its life. It is a very comfortable situation on your side but it entails very significant risks for both parties. Why?

It is a comfortable situation for your side because, professionally, it means you no longer need to worry about finding yourself a new job, or going through a new hiring process, or even having to prove your professional value again.

It is a comfortable situation for your side because being sure that every week, every two weeks or every “end of the month” you will receive a certain amount of money, and it is gonna be like that for the rest of your life for sure will give you plenty peace of mind, that’s for sure.

But it is nothing more than a comfortable attitude on your side and, perhaps, a little bit self-defeating. If for a moment you put yourself on the hiring company’s feet and think about the whole thing: Is it the best for us to secure job positions for “a lifetime”? Isn’t it better to secure the positions we truly need, as long as the employee has an outstanding performance or as long as we have the money to pay for what the job is worth?

What if your employer has some other problems and simply can’t guarantee its jobs’ stability? Have you ever thought about it?
In addition to all these things: By relying on a “lifetime” job, you stop being open to new opportunities for professional growth, you no longer have the opportunity to be hired by someone who offers a better value for your services, and you stop looking to the world through the eyes of ambition and begin to nurture in your heart an attitude of conformism.

Is professional conformism what you really want for yourself?

That is, why in the world would you become attached forever to a company that can’t pay the salary you deserve ? Would you be willing to forever do business with a customer who does not have the money to pay what your products are worth?

Who would do that?

Below you’ll find the post I did refer to at the beginning of this one. It was written by Andres Perez. (Sorry, no english version) And the second one is mine and I thought you would find it interesting.

Photo credit: Karen Grigoryan

"No seas empleo-dependiente" by Andrés Pérez Ortega
7 Easy Steps To Building Your Personal Project: Why Should You Have A Plan "B"?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What Is It That Really Makes Us Less Productive?

What Makes Us Less Productive?
When it comes to making up excuses to justify why we postpone things for the following day, or why we could not achieve the goals we have set for ourselves in our heart, or why we do not spend our time the way we really want, we’ve become completely skillful at building a collection of excuses: that it is our continued checking of emails, the temptation to spend more time than advisable on social networks, gossiping, unscheduled phone calls, our boss who calls us for an out-of-the-blue, unexpected meetings, and so forth.

It has happened to all of us: suddenly and unwillingly, we see as the day passes by and we haven't been able to complete those activities we really wanted to have completed today and we postpone it for the next day ... or the one after that one, and so we go on through life.

But what is really happening to us? Are those external agents really responsible for taking away all of our time and attention, keeping us from achieving our goals and making us less productive?

Just a few weeks ago I came across with one of those posts that really nailed it the way I like, (you’ll find the link at the end of this post, as always) and put the record straight.

According to the post, it turns out we are almost always looking for excuses in the wrong place, so we never end up reaching the real root of our productivity problem.

Why do we get distracted by so many things and just keep ourselves from reaching our maximum productivity?

Lack of planning: If you do not know where you're going, any road will fit you.

This is, for me, the most important of all reasons. In a post I wrote for this blog a while ago, entitled "5 Very Productive Habits You Can Incorporate in Your Life Today”, I wanted to highlight how important it is to start every single day and week with our goals clearly configured, as well as all pending tasks to be completed within the day.

And it turns out we do a lot of emphasis on the things we have to do, without realizing it is almost as important to be able to clearly identify the things we should not do, simply because they do not align with our immediate goals, or can be done on a more efficient way.

Planning ahead each day brings us closer to creating a more productive routine.

If you do not see clearly the importance of planning ahead every day, just imagine for a moment that you take your car, turn it on, take it out of the parking lot, jump on the first highway you find and just drive without known destination. Do you think it is productive?

Of course it is not. And it doesn’t make any sense at all unless your goal is simply to burn out fuel and nothing more. As soon as you define the place you want to be heading to, the first thing to happen is that you have a couple of routes to choose from, and that is then a completely different story.

Hence the importance of planning: Knowing where you are heading to, goals you would like to achieve, you can then choose the tasks that need to be implemented so that you can get closer to your goals and, at the same time, remove from your agenda those activities that will not be of any help.

Discipline: Plans which remain on paper, do not serve you at all.

Note that in the last section I wrote: "bring you closer to creating a more productive routine." Why did I write "closer to" instead of simply "you’ll have a more productive routine"?

Simply because the element we all most need to be fully productive is to have the discipline needed to concentrate our efforts into sticking to the plan, and do only those things we have to do which are aligned with our goals, and nothing else.

Moreover, even it takes discipline to just get going, and by saying that you can get the full picture. That's why there are so many New Year's resolutions that are never met, so many wonderful plans that never cease to be more than a few scribbles on a sheet of paper, many fabulous business ideas that are nothing more than projects in which partners have invested all their money just to see them simply get stuck right from the very beginning.

A good dose of discipline plus proper planning guarantees you’ll be achieving good results.

That's why I usually recommend my clients to put more effort into implementing their plans instead of spending all their energies in the planning process itself, of course without downplaying the planning.

There is even a syndrome called "Paralysis By Analysis" and it is what happens to entrepreneurs when they want to plan as thoroughly their business, down to the tiniest detail, that spend long months on this planning process and never get to the starting line.

At some point the figure of the “One Man Band” is no longer productive.

And finally, I think the other factor which does not allow us to be fully productive is the belief that we can do everything by ourselves, therefore we start to delegate those tasks that can (or should) be delegated too late in the game.

Every growing business needs a team, regardless of its size and characteristics.

And this is the first idea you have to get used to if you really want to see your business blooming and growing, and to be as productive as possible: Keeping the desire to be “a one man show”, willing to be the one playing all instruments simply ensures that, at some point, you’ll sound out of tune and your customers will notice.

To be truly productive 100% you need to have a team in which you trust and delegate.

Yes, we all know that our ego feels very good when shows that it is capable of doing many things, especially when they can all be done at the same time. However, it has been scientifically proven that this condition of concentrating all tasks in one single person is contrary to any productivity criteria.

Also, if you really want to make sure you develop a product or service of the highest quality possible, then you must allow each area of ​​your business to be managed by a highly qualified professional.

So I think if you analyze your daily routine from this new perspective, taking into consideration these three variables, then you’ll significantly increase your productivity.


  • Plan ahead each day, and make sure everything you do is aligned with your goals.
  • Build and strengthen your discipline to stick to the plan, and do the things you should do, and say no to those which would simply be a waste of your precious time.
  • Delegate those tasks that you can delegate and trust your team will be able to deliver a high quality product or service.

Below you’ll find the links to the posts I recommended you at the beginning of this entry.

Photo Credit: Alphaspirit

5 Highly Productive Habits You Can Add To Your Life Today.
4 Easy Tips to Effectively Managing Your Time
4 cosas que se roban descaradamente tu tiempo sin que lo sepas (Sorry, only in Spanish)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Why Is Content Marketing So Important For Your Business?

The Power Of Content Marketing
If you want to ensure for your business a successful and sustained trajectory over the years, you have to make sure it’s present on the minds of its’ customers or potential buyers every time they need to purchase your type of products or services.

It's really simple: If you sell leather jackets for men and I, as a potential customer for your business, don’t even think about your brand when the time comes for me to buy a new one, because mine doesn’t fit anymore, then you have a huge problem to solve, or your potential customers will never approach your business to make the purchase.

In advertising, this is called "top of mind" and refers to the process through which you assist customers in remembering your brand and business in a positive, memorable way and consider it as their choice of preference when making a buying decision.

The goal of your strategy should always be to position your business in your potential customer’s minds as their choice of preference.

If your company is not "top of mind" for customers when deciding to purchase, unfortunately the business will be taken by another people. Guess who?

That’s a given: It will be taken by the company properly positioned in that particular space of consumer or potential customer’s minds, regardless of their leather jackets not having even the same quality as yours.

Of course, the next question is: What tools can be used to reach and occupy such a privileged place in potential customer’s minds?

In addition to paid advertising and the likes, I’d like to talk to you about a special one.

A powerful and silent sales representative for your business: content marketing.

Some time ago I wrote in this blog an article entitled "What do you talk about with your customers when you're not selling to them?". At that time I made a reference to this powerful tool you can use to properly position your business in your potential customers’ minds and become their choice of preference when they make a purchase decision.

Content marketing allows you to do it without having to become the sales rep who calls customers once a week just to “check in”, or who sends an email or "drops by" customer’s offices from time to time just to "keep himself within the radar", all of those things that if you perform them the wrong way, will send you directly to the "annoying characters nobody wants to talk with" drawer.

It’s the main benefit you’ll receive from content marketing and therefore its strongest value. If you invest part of your time developing content that might be relevant to both your customers and the industry in which you are immersed on, you are creating both for you and your business a very important venue to be recognized for the value of your opinions and knowledge, and not only for the products and services you sell.

Differentiate yourself by the value shared through your conversations and the usefulness of content you share.

It is clear that "content marketing" and "promotional content" are two very different things. It’s not the same to share with your customers a very well written article in which you describe in great detail the products and services your company offers; than to write a detailed post about the problems your customers face most often and which are the best ways and tools to solve them.

As you sure have noticed, in the first example you are simply putting down on paper a sales speech while in the second one, you are sharing value, because you’re helping clients (or future clients) to solve one (or more) of the problems they have.

Do you see the difference?

Now, how does content marketing work? Why is it so valuable?

Developing and publishing relevant content is one of the most valuable tools you can use to attract and cultivate new contacts and business relationships.

Why is it so? I can show you here at least some of the ways content marketing works:

  • When you publish new content on LinkedIn, for instance, each of your contacts receives a notification from the social network and is invited to read it, even those contacts who don’t answer your phone calls, don’t reply your emails or even those who you haven’t seen personally in the last few months.
  • When you share your knowledge through other platforms, all that content is available to people who have questions regarding that specific topic within your industry, who look for answers to those questions online. If your proposals are valuable and relevant, you immediately enter on that person’s radar, providing you truly create concrete answers to real problems.
  • Each time you send a newsletter to your database, regardless of how often you do it, you're reminding each of your prospects / customers / acquaintances that you are a specialist within your business sector and have a selection of relevant articles which provide answers to the most common problems related with your industry.

As you can see, you don’t have to use the phone or email to make direct contact with your market. Quite the opposite. You've approached them in a different way: a positive, constructive and, above all, disinterested one.

You're not focusing your conversation on selling your products, but on issues that are relevant and interesting for everyone, and this leads always to much more attractive and interesting conversations.

That is why content marketing is so powerful and effective. If used the right way it’s a powerful reputation builder for your brand, your company and its products.

We all have a story to tell. What matters most is how to identify it.

The hardest part of a content strategy is precisely developing such content.

In many cases, I get to talk with entrepreneurs who, after 10, 15 or more years within their respective industries, tell me they don’t have a story to tell, that generating and creating content is not for them.

How many customer’s related questions have you had to answer throughout your professional life?

And the reflection is always immediate: During your career, how many customer or even product and industry related questions have you answered?. How many problems have you solved?

When you have participated in professional or business meetings, forums and so on, how many relevant discussions have you joined?, how many interesting topics have you come across during all your years in the industry?

It is at this moment when all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and allow you to really appreciate its beauty.

If you can put on paper all these stories, you will have an excellent opportunity to create a powerful source of relevant, interesting and inexhaustible content for your customers, actual and future.

In addition to that, you will be demonstrating how valuable an experience you've accumulated during all those years, experience that may be even deeper than that of your customers, so they will come to realize there are many things they can learn from you.

And that is quite a great opportunity, both for your business and yourself, to strongly position as a reference point within your industry, an opportunity you can take full advantage of using content marketing.

Following you’ll find links to the articles I did mention throughout this post along with an additional one I’m sure you will find of your interest.

What Can You Talk About With Your Customers When You’re Not Selling To Them?
Differentiate Yourself By The Value Shared Through Your Conversations.

Photo Credit: Billion Photos

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Are You Aware Of The Tricks Your Salespeople Use To Close More Deals?

How do they close deals?
One topic which frequently comes up during meetings with my consulting customers or when I engage in professional discussions is referred to the fact many entrepreneurs believe they need to have sales departments which work on autopilot, meaning they require the least supervision possible but continue to generate their best results.

I have even heard many entrepreneurs say building business opportunities and bringing in more money is the sole responsibility of the salespeople because they should know if “they don’t sell, they’ll get immediately fired and replaced by somebody else".

And it’s understandable an entrepreneur wants its sales department to operate autonomously, independently and requiring as little attention as possible on its part.

It’s normal: the sales area of any company can become a very complicated one, especially when achieved results are not as expected or, even worse, when it’s required to develop the sales area from scratch and nobody has an idea on how to make it happen.

A salesman without supervision is a double-edged sword for your company, and a very dangerous one.

And this same desire to have a self-sufficient and independent sales department is most probably the reason why we can see many sales representatives on the road by their own, trying to sell their products all over the world, without rhyme or reason, headless, without any sort of plan and, the most worrisome thing, using any kind of trick to close any deal they come across with.

When the cat's not in duty, mice go out to have fun.

Some time ago I wrote an article on this blog entitled "Business Reputation and The Sales Rep Responsibility" (you’ll find the corresponding link at the end of this post, as always) and I tried to showcase how important the sales representative performance is to developing a solid reputation for your business.

However, day after day I get to know about more and more cases of companies leaving their reputation in the hands of sales professionals whose practices, rather than adding value to the relationship with customers, do quite the opposite, compromising reputation of the business they’re supposed to be representing.

It’s not the same thing to say "I’m an independent sales rep" than "I do whatever I have to do to close more deals."

The saddest thing is that, by sticking to the policy of having "independent and autonomous sales departments" in most cases the company doesn’t even get to know how their representatives are approaching new customers, not to say all the arguments, tricks and strategies they are using to convince prospects about making a buying decision favorable to products or services offered by the company.

As always, every time I make this kind of statements, I like to do it backed up by recent situations I’ve experienced firsthand.

Here is the story.

When your sales guy’s persistence gets the door shut down for your business.

A few weeks ago I received a phone call from a commercial agent from Mexico, who wanted to offer me their financial advisory and investment services. I kindly attended him, spent the time required to listen to what it was all about and what their working conditions were.

When I realized he was trying to convince me to make a decision immediately and over the phone, I asked him to put everything on writing and email it to me, so that I could go over it at my own pace. He agreed on that, promised to send me all requested information and to call me back the next day to follow up.

I did receive the information without any problem, read it calmly and when I realized they required a strong initial deposit to start operating with them, my decision to not doing business with them was made. I then emailed him back, thanking him for his time and attention and indicated him I was not interested on their services.

Without replying to my email, the guy called me back the next day as if I hadn’t written anything. I remarked over the phone my decision not to sign up for their services and asked to keep the contact open just in case things could change along the road and an opportunity could arise.

And I think either he didn’t hear what I said, or didn’t understand me, or simply didn’t want to understand what I said, but the fact is that, the day after our second conversation, he called me back again, this time to ask me if I had already cleared things up and changed my mind.

The difference between being persistent and being stubborn, can only be recognized by a true professional.

I told him I wasn’t going to change my mind, neither doing business with them and thanked him again for his kindness on following up with me.

From that day on, I blocked his phone number on my mobile and made a firm decision not to speak to him again. Just imagine the experience has been so negative and disappointing that I can’t even remember the name of the company he was working for and not even his own name.

Is this the way you want your salespeople to close deals for your business? Is this the way you want your customers to be treated?

More importantly: Is this the reputation you want to develop for your business? One that is blocked on the phone and put aside?

That’s why my advice will always be to take charge of your sales department, no matter how many people work in it, supervise it properly and, above all, make sure you give proper training to every single person doing sales for your business, just to make sure on the way they are approaching your prospects and representing your business’ brand.

Picture credit: poosan | See portfolio

Following you'll find links to the posts I mentioned above which you'd like to read:
Corporate reputation and sales reps’ responsibility.
How to Effectively Supervise Your Sales Team

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Do You Know Which Can Be Your Best Investment Of All? Put Time Into Learning New Things.

Your Best Investment Ever: Learning.
How fast time really goes by. It's been a little over a month since I last sat down to write a post for my beloved blog.

It just happens that I like to write only when I have already digested the ideas I want to share with you, and also when I have been able to run all mental revisions I feel convenient just to make sure only valuable information is delivered to you, information which might be relevant to your business and, why not, to your own life, but so far I haven’t had the time to be so thorough with my writing.

In addition to that, I've also been pretty busy with the professional projects I'm managing now along with my two kids who have been on Easter vacation for the last two weeks. I guess now you can understand I just haven’t found the time.

That’s until now.

And I say so far because today I want to tell you about a story I have lived in first person over the last two months which surely will invite you to look at things on a different way.

Once again "I refuse to say that is just the way things are, and with all the things happening around us"

This was the title of an article I wrote in this blog about 4 years ago. And it was so badly real at that time as it is today. Yes, I know things out there in the world are looking pretty bad, and that the world’s largest economies are ulso hurt and moving slowly, and that politicians, and fifty more stories that can come to our minds simply to justify an environment of pessimism and distrust.

However, I refuse to give up to that trend. And even though, like it’s for you and for every human being in the world, I also have my downs and ups, I always try by all possible means to maintain a good mood and positivism, at all times.

No person with a negative attitude has ever been able to build any positive thing.

And it is just that everything that happens to us in our lives can be seen in many different ways. I'll tell you about the stories of two very dear friends of mine.

Roberto, is a colombian guy who is about 30 years old. He lived with his partner for many years but, as with many things in life, their relationship deteriorated and ended up on a somehow traumatic divorce.

The relationship with his ex-partner has been really tough for a long time, he’s barely allowed to see his 5 years old daughter, well ... one of this sad situations we’re all familiar with.

However, despite everything I'm telling you, a couple of years ago Roberto decided to do something with his life, and today he’s professionally established in the telecommunications area, starting to work on his own as an independent contractor and moving forward with his life.

I forgot to mention that my friend Roberto is bipolar, so his situation becomes much more complicated than yours or mine.

If it's raining lemons, you better learn to make some delicious lemonade.

If that one story is not enough for you, let me share with you another one: Elizabeth is a friend of mine who should be around her twenty-some years old as well, perhaps closer to her thirties. A couple of years ago she had a steady job and was living a happily-ever-after-kind-of-relationship with her fiancé, as she herself told me.

One day, everything turned into a nightmare for her: she broke up with her loverboy, and a few months later she got fired from her job and found herself without either one of the things that built up her entire happiness. Alone and deeply depressed, she was feeling devastated to the point of needing medication.

Similarly, Elizabeth today has a new job, is very excited about it and it is all going much better for her. She also got into a new relationship, got pregnant and now has a beautiful baby girl who should be one year old or so. She’s having a blast.

What have Roberto and Elizabeth in common? That one day, after many lamentations, tears and many days simply justifying their pitiful lives, they both decided to leave aside negativism, they mustered up courage and took charge of their lives to make them better.

They also refused to keep on saying "it’s just the way things are" or "nobody can move forward on such a difficult environment", and decided to play starring roles in their own lives.

They both dared to dream and discover their full potential.

This is also the title of a post I wrote on this blog a few years ago. It contained a link to an spectacular video on YouTube, which I truly recommend you to watch and keep as one of your favorites, getting back to it whenever you need.

Not just simply refusing pessimistic conversations will make it, but also putting yourself at work, moving forward to go somewhere.

Not because you wake up early, the sun is going to rise sooner.

My friends Robert and Elizabeth did it: They dared to dream. Roberto got back to the books and got a degree in the ​​telecommunications area, and Elizabeth did the same in nursing and elderly people care.

Yes, each of them had their own stories and multiple reasons to be swayed by negativism. However they chose to trust and believe that a better world is possible for us, and that living a better life was within the reach of their hands, as it is for all of us if we dare to take the necessary steps.

Kind of the same thing happened to me in recent weeks: I found a possible opportunity to generate additional income for the family and for me, and since it’s an area with which I am not (or should I say, was not?) familiar with at all, I decided to do what must be done on these situations: seek for specialized training and education to build a deeper knowledge on the subject and begin to feel comfortable with.

You know I'm a man of faith, and my faith helps me to trust God has always wanted a better world for all of us and has put in our hands every possible tool and power to make it real, go for it and make all decisions we’ve got to make.

That is why I strongly believe the time you invest in receiving professional training in an area of your choice,  will always be the best investment you can ever make in your life and for your future.

Look at my friends Robert and Elizabeth, live testimonies of what I’m saying: they demonstrate that, even from the worst circumstances, it is always possible to stand up again and move forward.

So now what do you think? Is it going to be a great week or what?

Picture credit: Voyagerix | Ver portfolio

Below you will links I recommended throughout this post:
You Need To Update Your Own Personal Processor: From Being A Spectator to Taking A Main Role In Your Play

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Don’t Ever Make This Mistake: Even Your Best Customers May Consider Other Options

They Do Have Other Options.
During the past few weeks I have had an experience I found quite interesting, especially because it has served me to demonstrate, once again, there are still many business out there for which customers are simply numbers and nothing else.

It turns out that my wife and I have been working with this tax advisors firm since we arrived in Spain, seven years ago. And since that time (seven years x 12 months = 84 months) we have never had any problems.

Whenever we had any questions or requests, we got in contact with them, they offered us their professional advice and that was that. Nothing else.

The services they rendered us every month were the usual services you get from such a company: preparing tax returns, filling out all necessary forms, really nothing particularly special.

Our problem started last year when our fiscal situation changed and we ask them for a review of their offer and monthly services fee. Based upon the relationship we have had with them for so many years, I thought they wouldn’t have any problem in considering my request.

What response did I receive? None. At least not a single one indicating they had taken my request to revise their monthly service fee seriously.

Never force your loyal customers to look for what your competition might offer them.

And it was not only that I didn’t receive a reply to my request, but when we received the bill for their professional services that month, they have charged us the full fee plus an increase we had no idea was coming through.

That is: not only we didn’t receive any special treatment or price reconsideration or anything based on the relationship connecting us. They charged us the full monthly fee plus an increment, a small one but always an increment at the end,  and to make it all more intense, without any prior notice.

When a good, long-term customer, comes to you asking for price review, you better take it seriously. Something must be happening.

What happened then? That for the first time in seven years, much to my regret, we started thinking about considering other options, therefore I got in touch with another tax advisors firm to inquire about services they offered and how much it would cost us.

And you may laugh at it and everything, but is not a new situation for me.

While I was working for a major alarms company here in Spain, the firm had a rather strange policy regarding customers: Best prices, deals and promotions were only available to new customers we were bringing in, and for customers who had dropped out of their contracts and our company was pretending to bring them back by offering substantial discounts on the monthly service fee along with promotional items.

Your best customers are the ones who reward you with their trust for years and pay always on time.

That is, for the loyal customer, paying its monthly fee without delay and without complaint, the one who occasionally called to request maintenance service, for that client the company had nothing special: there were no discounts on the monthly fee, no promotional gifts, nothing whatsoever.

As long as he paid regularly and without delay, nothing happened. Yes: if he got behind in a single installment, he was contacted immediately to be brought back in line by the company’s legal department. Out of that, nothing happened. Each client was simply included as a number within a huge customer database and nothing else.

The time to nurture customer’s loyalty is while they are pleased with your company, not when they’ve already decided to go with someone else.

Our company took action only when a customer decided to drop out of their contract, when they had already made the decision to go with someone else. At that time, we salespeople were sent to visit these customers and sign them back in, giving them our very best service, our best smiles and making all kind of promises to hook them again.

Let me tell you there is nothing more difficult and unpleasant for a sales rep, than to talk to a customer who has already dropped out and is working with the competition because simply they will discharge upon the sales guy all the contained frustration, disappointment and displeasure they have accrued against the company during the time it took them to make the decision to switch to other people.

What is the first thing you need to do when a customer decides to stop working with you?

And this is actually a tricky question because your main responsibility as an entrepreneur, in a normal situation, is to ensure none of your customers reach a point of dissatisfaction strong enough as to decide to take their business somewhere else.

Moreover, you have to be a little more demanding than that: You must ensure you do not give your customers any reason to be dissatisfied with your product or services at any time.

But as we know this is rather impossible because each client is different and you can’t please them all, if you come across a client who decides to go work with your competition, your first obligation should be to know why he’s doing so.

What made that customer you've had for so long decide to do business with your competition?

Which were the reasons for their disillusionment, their discomfort? What was it that made everything changed and, from one moment to the other, your loyal customer decided to switch and work with other people?

Only receiving these answers in all honesty, understanding and analyzing them thoroughly, you will have the opportunity to develop a better offer, to make a better product.

As I said earlier, don’t you make the mistake of thinking your loyal customers can (and will) only do business with you, because it’s not true. Neither neglect your loyal customers, those who pay you regularly and reward you with their trust.

The most successful businesses in the world are those who cultivate many long term, loyal customers like these because, as time goes by, those are the ones who bring the most economic and reputational value to the business.

Photo credit: Therina Groenewald | Ver portfolio

I recommend you to read the following related post in this blog:
Loyalty and CKCH: When is it that you really lose a customer?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Things I've Learned Throughout My Career As A Professional Sales Representative Which Can Be Very Useful To You.

Things I've Learned.
If you have been an entrepreneur or run your own business for a while now, you might already have realized your need to effectively communicate with a lot of people around you, and completely different people.

First of all you must make sure your customers (or prospective buyers) are fully aware of your company, trust in it and have confidence in the product or service you are selling.

Then, if you have employees, you’ll probably have to make sure they feel confident and well supported while collaborating with you in your business project. And if you look around, you may also have noticed you need to capture your industry’s  attention, your market and especially that of the audience you’re aiming to, which is the ultimate reason why you are in business, right?

And if you have business partners, then things get a bit more complicated because you have to secure their full support at all times, making sure they know you have the ability to take the ship to safe harbor and, if any difficult or unexpected situation should arise, you'll be perfectly able to make all decisions required without further compromising the future of the project itself.

As you can see, at all times you are using a very powerful set of business skills you  may not even know you had, or even never associated with something related to selling your own ideas to people.

Because, after all, and at all times, we're all selling something to somebody.

What have I learned, as a professional sales representative for many years, that  could be helpful to you during your journey as an entrepreneur?

Good sales people develop a strong moral.

And although many people believe that to be a good sales representative one must be a mischievous person with bad habits, or from time to time dive into "the dark side of the force", really professional sales representatives who considered themselves valuable and worthy (or at least do their best for it), have a strong moral.

Why is this?

Because professional sales people strongly rely on their reputation, and also understand they won’t ever be able to develop a strong professional reputation just living their lives doing things they shouldn’t do at all or the kind of things that might  be considered not completely right, especially when it comes to their professional roles.

A successful entrepreneur must always be a morally strong person and build a solid reputation.

One of the things I have learned throughout my career, regardless of those huge economic results I might get from a client, is that it’s much more important to remain an honest professional who does the right thing whenever possible, even when it might involve walking away from a good deal or even quit working with a client whose practices are openly questionable.

As an entrepreneur, don’t ever take the risk of having your whole professional and personal integrity being put in the spotlight just because, one day, you decided to cross the line and go into the shade of unethical, questionable behaviors. It’s not worth it.

And being a morally strong professional, you’ve a greater chance to earn your prospects’ trust.

One thing takes you to the next one: Who doesn’t like to do business with someone who proves to be a real professional, respectable and always acts with honesty? Your integrity and your ability to gain other’s people trust go hand in hand, and is a skill that real good, professional sales guys learn to develop.

Because at the end we’ve come to understand it’s useless to have a customer who will only buy from you once. We understand the real value of any business relationship is to last for many, many years, developing customers who truly trust in us and the business we represent.

They should also feel confident enough as to buy your products and services whenever they need to, knowing they will never be disappointed at all.

As an entrepreneur, you must learn to earn the trust of the people around you, both customers and employees, suppliers and partners.

Trust, for sure you already know, is a very precious gift you cannot earn overnight, but can be destroyed in just a couple of seconds with greatest ease.

That is why you must put every grain of sand in your side to build your customer’s trust, the same thing with people around you. You have to become a morally strong person and build a strong reputation.

Good salespeople will always have a plan to achieve their goals.

And though those plans may not be as formal as the word itself implies, any good salesperson understands it will never get the best results if it’s not guided by a plan, even the simplest one.

Starting by your need to understand your market, competitors and customers, to designing a way to reach out for the largest number of well-qualified prospects, particularly when it comes to the sales area, you must develop a strategic kind of thinking that is not casual at all.

As an entrepreneur your ability to plan the development of your business is crucial to achieving its goals.

And this is a kind of thinking that comes really handy when you are an entrepreneur or are running your own business because, after all, you want to take your business and project to a specific place and achieve certain goals, and for all of this you will alway need to have a road map to guide you.

You can not inspire confidence in your project if you do not believe it yourself.

Hundreds of times I have seen sales people engaged in selling products they do not trust, trying to memorize a sales pitch that doesn’t make any sense in their minds, trying to make presentations to their clients when, at the end of the day, they are just thinking about when it will be time to get back home.

It never works and never will. You can only sell something you believe in, something you’re confident with, something you trust. If you don’t believe in the product or solution you are offering your client, they will notice it before you can realize and the whole sales process will go down the drain.

If you as the entrepreneur don’t believe your own story, how can you inspire others to follow and cooperate with you?

My best years as a salesman were in the United States, as advertising sales director for an international interior design, architecture, and home decor publication specifically aimed to the Hispanic market.

Our arguments as a product were so strong, that backed us up as we started slowly earning the trust of larger customers, until we could finally do business with big national advertisers.

Which was our strength? That we all, as a team, were deeply convinced we were delivering a compelling value proposition, and we were able to clearly transmit such confidence to our customers.

Be sure to always convey how much you believe in your project and all the confidence you have put into it and why. Thus, both customers and employees, along with your partners, will reward you with their trust.

And best of all: the ability to stand up again and again, after every failed attempt.

It's certainly the one I consider most important of all the things I’ve learned: the ability to get up every morning knowing I have a full day ahead to accomplish new things, knowing that whatever happened yesterday belongs to the past, and that the important thing is all I can do today to get closer to achieving my goals.

In sales, you often feel you are running around blind, working hard with the hope of one day achieving the results you expect, but you can only confirm that when your customer finally says yes, signs the purchase order and makes corresponding payments. Days with many phone calls with little results, days with fewer phone calls and more results. It’s all about going up and down, day after day.

Your life as an entrepreneur is also plenty of ups and downs. Some days are certainly better than others and even if today you can be celebrating the signing of your biggest customer yet, tomorrow you can be down to the ground, devastated after finding out your biggest customer changed his mind and decided to do business with your closest competitor.

The important thing is to have the ability to wake up every day knowing you’ll always have the opportunity to grow your business and move forward.

And it’s probably the best advice I can give you after all these years: Never stop fighting, never give up. It doesn’t matter if things appear to be going against you, give yourself time to analyze each and every situation, draw from it the very best lesson you can, and take what you’ve learned as a foothold to change course and move on.

Always move on and always for the best.

It is for all those things that I believe having experience on the sales side of life, is one of those sources from which you can learn many positive things that will make easier your life as an entrepreneur and leader of your own project.

Although no one can guarantee anything to you but yourself, counting always with your own effort, I am sure that if you take this advice into consideration, you will see positive changes in your way of doing things, and the results you get from those things that you do.

That’s a promise.

Picture credit: Sergey Nivens | Ver portfolio

I recommend you reading the following post in this blog:
4 attitudes you can learn from a professional sales representative.