Category: Sales

Triumph through failure (and practical tips on how to persevere)

Quite some years ago in a field sales role within the hospitality sphere, part of my role was to present talks on the services we provided. A lot of the presentations were to businesses whom used our services or a business which sold our service onto other companies that would potentially use our services.

It was a competitive field but a fun one. Standing out and being unique yet professional was important. On this one occasion, I decided I would tell a joke. Note now that this wasn’t my joke.

My boss then had told me a service based joke around one of our products that she thought was a good ice breaker and really funny. Not thinking too much on it I thought it would be good to incorporate it into my usual patter.

Arriving at the location it was a gloriously sunny day and I felt confident in what I was about to deliver. I met with several of my counterparts from other locations and we all ordered ourselves according to who would deliver their presentations at what time.

When it came to mine I started off with confidence and then I came to my joke… It’s safe to say that it was a tumble weed, a lead balloon, an absolute bombshell.

No one laughed, no one giggled, no one even stifled a noise of any kind that showed support of humour. The room fell deafly silent for what felt like an eternity.

Of course, in reality it wasn’t an eternity and whilst it probably would have been advantageous for me at least had the ground have opened right up and swallowed me whole right there and then­­- it didn’t. Plus, that’s the stuff of a fantasy story. Isn’t it? This was real life and the show must go on. Right?

I powered through. I was mortified but I didn’t have time to think as I had to finish my speech and then let others do the same after me. After the presentations were finished it was time to mingle.

Do you know what I did? I put my game face on and I went and mingled amongst those that hadn’t laughed at my joke. I chatted with my co-workers (who also hadn’t laughed) and I made my way back to the office at the end of it.

My boss and I talked through the event and had a good giggle at my faux-pas. I mean I should have thought it through. The joke wasn’t mine. It wasn’t natural. The audience could sense the lack of authenticity at that moment.

You see really it was clear as the light of day if only I’d thought it through. The joke was a good joke but it wasn’t the joke I had created. Actually, had I have been myself, it would have allowed people to relate to me, gain trust and rapport.

I wouldn’t be remembered for my humour that day but I realised that through my perceived failing came triumph. Lesson learnt, patter adjusted and I would gauge my audience better in future.

My practical tips (they may be useful to you too) that I’ve learnt through my experiences good and bad are;

To push through the barrier, pushing on and persevering creates resilience, it encourages a mindset of growth (which means learning even if things don’t go to plan).

Minor errors such as my joke blunder will be forgotten- move on and don’t let it impact your confidence. Such instances provide the opportunity to laugh about it as I did with my boss and to adjust the path which you navigate as you progress.

Don’t see failing, see potential for growth and new opportunities. Smile your way through, shield your feelings, acknowledge them but don’t let them stop you moving forward and progressing.

Gain strength from mistakes, and triumph through failure. Build the blocks to your path. Success blossoms from us falling down and getting right back up again. Take it like water off a duck’s back, like learning to ride a bike. Be your own motivator.

Be grateful for the small things, take up activities that help you to step away and enable you to gain perspective. Such as taking a walk, running, going to the gym, a change of scenery, the coffee shop or taking the dog out.

Meditation or finding a quiet space to be, may be of benefit or it could be as simple as turning up the tunes and rocking out to your favourite music. let negative feelings wash away and allow positivity to seep back in.

Nothing can ever replace getting a good night’s sleep or if it works for you and around your job, like the greats in history such as Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Albert Einstein you can take a power nap. Everything appears brighter after sleep and when you’ve had a chance to truly recharge, unwind and relax.

Have you had a workplace blunder or two and want to run and hide?

Hands up- I have! You’re not alone, at times we want to cover it up and forget that it’s happened. But by acknowledging your blunders you can learn and grow and adapt for future circumstances.

Life wasn’t created perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist as a natural being. We are all fallible as humans. How would you tell your story so far? The medium of storytelling is a progressive marketing strategy. Storytelling through content marketing, blog articles, imagery, video posts, social media and web content can be advantageous in engaging and attracting your audience.

Telling your tale takes your customer or potential customer on a journey. A journey where through repeat engagement it brings you interaction. Interaction brings you opportunity. Opportunity gives you dialog. And dialog brings you possibilities with your audience.

How do you tell your story to your audience?

You can let me know by emailing me at; ambersmith@simplyamberlou.com, or you can message me directly on LinkedIn at Amber L Smith.

You can also follow me on both Twitter @simplyamberLou and LinkedIn Amber L Smith alongside my website for past and future articles.

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12 Years of sales: This is what I know…

‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.’ Winston Churchill.

The once and still very famous quote is I find quite apt. No failure ever wholly defines you, and one success doesn’t mean it will continue to lead to others. A combination of varying factors at play drives you on an even keel. But even then you may experience periods of highs and extreme periods of lows. It is the very nature of the business beast.

No business is without it’s up and its downs. You ride the wave, create your path and learn and grow. Having worked in varying sales roles over the years and now utilising my experience in my current career path and extending it as part of my strategic planning. Listed below is what I know, and what I continue to use now. It’s relevant to any field in business not exclusively to sales:

1) Remember the small talk

Remember the small talk. It may seem like an odd point but actually it is probably one of the most important.

Being able to create casual conversation is vital in relationship building. It’s important to remember the small talk for each time you meet with a client. It enables you to build rapport, nurture and grow it. It puts you front of mind. Makes you stand out in a large crowd.

If it’s something you find tricky you can of course prepare in advance. Think of questions to ask and your likely responses. Decide on relevant conversational topics. Preparation will save you and in time it will enable a natural flow of conversation and one with ease.

2) Grow a thick skin

Growing a thick skin takes skill and the ability to detach yourself personally. Be personable but don’t allow critique to pierce through your protective under layer. That doesn’t mean not thinking and feeling but it means you wear your business hat and look at it objectively.

Use any negative situation as an opportunity to reflect and take the time to digest before you respond. If it’s consumer critique then see this as an opportunity to positively create resolution. Remember each move you make distinguishes your brand and your business.

An article by Social Media Today discusses the merits of using criticism to your brand advantage. Be truthful and transparent. ‘A recent survey found that 72% of businesses admitted that they were not as prepared as they needed to be to respond to social media criticism.

And if you don’t handle it in the right way, your business can become stained with a reputation of not giving a damn about its audience. In the age in which one disgruntled user has the power of thousands, it could trigger an avalanche of negative posts.’

3) Honesty is absolutely the best policy

Being honest with your clients is a must. If you make a mistake-own up to it. If you can’t deliver-renegotiate. Nothing is more damaging than broken empty promises. You won’t get repeat business and the business may go elsewhere if you don’t put it right and fast.

4) Communicate, communicate, communicate

This can be your saving grace. Keep in regular contact with clients and potential consumers. Strike the balance of course between being a pest yet don’t find yourself at the opposite end of the spectrum with a complete lack of contact.

For example, if appropriate for your business you might visit every few weeks. Maybe drop a call or email. Set face to face appointments in advance for every quarter if it makes sense to do so. More or less frequency may be needed dependent on the nature of your business or indeed if you have a particular project on, or problem that may need additional focus.

5) Set Goals and document them

Setting your own goals and documenting them is important and a driving motivational force. Holding yourself accountable is essential. It helps you to schedule your time. It lets you know when you need to achieve things by and helps you then work out how you’re going to get there.

 6) Be organised

Being a fan of lists- I like to list. Sticky notes, diaries, planners etc. Are all helpful in keeping you on track. The likes of Evernote can also be helpful in documenting your notes and sharing across devices. My tip is to make it memorable. I like to highlight and choose bright notepads.

Automate where appropriate. Use platforms that can schedule posts such as Hootsuite. Save time where time can be valuably spent elsewhere. You can’t be split in all directions. You can manage your time but automating will help to streamline and create efficiency.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t handle your social media platforms with a personal touch. But it means you can dip in and get more involved when your schedule allows.

7) It’ll never be out of date: Build relationships and rapport

It’ll never be out of date. Build relationships, network and curate rapport with clients. A technique for any field, but yet one that’ll ensure your survival. If you can succeed at this you keep the communication channels open.

If the communication channels are open you open yourself to conversations when things are good but also when they are bad. Meaning the opportunity to turn things around.

Don’t just rely on social media and emails. Pick up the phone, if you’re able to visit your clients-do. Keep yourself current and relevant. It makes it much harder for your client to slip away.

Communication creates opportunity.

8) Always be ready to listen

Whilst you and I may spend allot of our time communicating. Successful communicators, business people and leaders are able to listen. Listening effectively is an art form and skill. It can be acquired and isn’t natural for some. Click here to read this article on how you can brush up on actively and effectively listening.

9) Show your concern for your customers problems

Understand your customers problems. Show concern. Linking in nicely after listening it also is relevant in understanding your customers, what problems they face and how you might be able to solve them. Use this as a USP. A unique selling point.

If you can offer a resolution suggest it or if you can’t, be able to suggest how they might be able to overcome them by recommending another service. You again keep yourself front of mind. You show that you care and you can showcase your knowledge and expertise.

10) Make them remember the why they chose you

You, your business and brand are why your clients choose you. Make them remember why they chose you and should continue to do so throughout your relationship.

Never take it for granted or slack on the job. It gets noticed and will start people looking elsewhere. Keep on the ball.

If you missed the links in the piece, some additional reading:

1) The ultimate guide to small talk

2) How to deal with constructive criticism

3) Dealing with consumer critique on social media

4) Effective listening

In summary, the main points discussed in this article are:

1) Remember the small talk

2) Grow a thick skin

3) Be honest

4) Communicate

5) Set goals and document them

6) Be organised

7) It’ll never be out of date: Build relationships and rapport

8) Always listen

9) Show concern to your consumer problems and provide resolution

10) Remind your client why they chose you

Not an exhausted list by far or indeed a conclusive list. It’s a list of my learnings. Who’s learning is ever complete? I know mine certainly isn’t or is ever likely to be. What’s your learnt list so far? Looking back over your career path what would be the key learnings of your journey? Subject of course to change and growth as we all are.

One last and final tip-Ooze confidence even when you don’t feel it, be yourself, be professional and persevere.

What’s your list? 

You can get in contact and find me on LinkedIn Amber L Smith, on Twitter @SimplyamberLou. Send me an email me at ambersmith@simplyamberlou.com and visit my website.

Meeting a client face to face? It’s contact not combat…

Startup Stock Photos

It’s face to face contact not combat. You’re not arming up and getting ready for battle you are going to meet a client and there are easy steps of behaviour and body language that will help to make your contact more successful. I’ve listed my top tips to assist in making your sales meetings that little bit easier;

The handshake….

According to a poll 70% of people do not feel confident in shaking another person’s hand. Being able to shake the hand of meeting a business client is virtually unavoidable unless you have a full on cold and are profusely sneezing. A firm grip and gentle squeeze whilst keeping eye contact and smiling at the other person is where you want to be.

Make them your friend….

The benefit of maintaining face to face meetings is that you can build loyalty and rapport with the person you are meeting with which undoubtedly will help with future business and ongoing sales prospects.

Making your contact feel as if they are your friend will aid you in building a relationship and you can get to know them not just in their role but as a person too. The things you learn not just professionally but on a personal level will give you an edge and also maintain your business input over another company being able to muscle in.

Eye contact…

Maintaining good eye contact throughout your meeting is key. It shows you are engaged and listening and you are interested in what they have to say.

Having good eye contact also commands attention and holds interest when you need to deliver your speech.

Body language is key….

Body language shows everything. Whether you are bored, disinterested, content, unhappy etc. One of the best pieces of advice I was given when I started in field sales was to mimic the body language of the other person.

Follow suit, emulate and mirror what they do. Again, this grows rapport and understanding with your client.

Be confident….

Confidence sells. Whether you feel it or not you have to fake it until you make it. How can you expect a buyer of your product or service new or existing to feel confident if you don’t? You are the extension of the company you work for, the eyes and ears and need to exude it constantly.

Of course, there is striking a balance. Confidence is not arrogance and you are a human being. It needs to be natural and not robotic.

Less is more….

Don’t be afraid to have that awkward silence. Don’t feel like you have to fill in all the gaps. Putting the ball in the court of your client will enable them to think and answer. Having silence can gently build pressure and force a response. It may feel uneasy initially but it could be the sale that you’re after.

This is by no means an exhausted list and will by no means make you perfect at your craft. That takes dedication, experience and effort. Be prepared and have control. knowing how to close your meetings is equally as important as what you say before and during your time with that individual. You need a tough skin in sales, nothing is personal, it’s business. Be bold but be you. Having good knowledge matched with your personality and ability to deal with people is what will sell you and will persuade others to buy into whatever it is that you’re selling.

Business agreement handshake at coffee shop

You can also find me on LinkedIn Amber L Smith and Twitter @simplyamberlou….