Be Your Own Profiler Or Risk Not Knowing The Truth!

When interacting and socializing with people I keep coming across with the same strange and scary trait, people do not know themselves! How astonishing this is? Very, though not a novelty. Although everything is changing and being more focus on individuals than on institutions, people continues thinking that the most important aspects to know or master in life are Science, Economics, Math, Management, or any other aspect but oneself! How crazy is this? A lot, at least I think that way! How can one do whatever one does if one does not know oneself? One’s strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, traits, emotional aspects, abilities, capabilities…and everything one can and should know about oneself. I believe and preach that one has to know oneself before going outside trying to conquer the world – metaphorically speaking! Conquering the world can mean complex but also simple things like lead a team, develop a strategic marketing planning, manage a project or start up your own company. Even the simple things need a good understanding of oneself to be truly and successfully performed!

Please Stop! Take a moment of your time and try to know yourself. Be your own profiler, or you are seriously risking living your life without knowing what you are able of! 

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Please Do Converse With Your Clients!

What was the last time you have conversed with someone at a bus stop or supermarket? Someone that you have never met before? OK! Let’s put it differently. When was the last time you have really engaged in a conversation with someone outside your regular circle of friends? Someone that you have known for years but never said more than a good morning or a good afternoon, a neighbor or the mail man! Well, you are probably doing the same with your clients! OK, I ask you again: when was the last time you have really engaged in a conversation with a client? Probably too much time ago!

I would like to share with you an example of absence of conversation in sales that happened to me today. I was shopping when suddenly my phone rang. I answered, and guess what? It was my Gym’s sales rep. She started by presenting herself, what was well done, but then big mistake! Without any previous conversation she informed me that my “contract” was seating there without being renewed since July (when my pre-paid 6-month enrollment period finished), and therefore, they were calling to ask me if they could kill it or if I was interested in renew it! Amazing isn’t it? They spent time and money just to ask me, for this same order, can we kill your account, or do you want to renew it! So I thought, ‘they are not interested in knowing if I am interested or happy with their services. They just wanted to know if they could clean up some administrative documents. So, I answered: ” Well, I will pass by this weekend thank you for calling”, and cut the talk short. Although, I am renewing, I am doing it because I like the gym not because I liked the approach. Otherwise they would have lost two clients: myself and my husband. Wrong move!

How many errors did she do with this one phone call? Too many!  And I am referring only to Sales errors.

[Sales] Lessons Learned: 1) Never call a client to ask: “May we kill your account?”; 2) Do not call a client to ask why she is not buying your products in a rude and too direct way; 3) Never forget to converse with your client before presenting whatever you have to present her; 4) When calling to a client be prepared: have a plan, understand what is the need and how can you satisfy it; have a strong message to delivery and prepare the different answers you may end up with in order to have a positive outcome what would be a face-to-face meeting; 5) Never push for a decision over the phone, try instead to schedule a face-to-face meeting where you will be able to better understand your client’s motivations and needs and present a tailor made solution.

However, If everything you have it is a phone call, please be wise and be prepared! After preparing yourself, I propose the following 4-step approach: 1st step, create empathy and establish some rapport with her in order to overcome the first barrier; 2nd step, actively listen and converse with her, trying to understand (open and semi-open questions) needs; 3rd step, only after understand needs you present solutions and never before, and never rush to close the deal before timing; and 4th step, closing the deal is crucial though very sensitive, so you must have passed for all the mentioned steps before trying to close it!

Good Luck with your Sales, and please NEVER forget to CONVERSE with your clients! Use your Active Listening to do it!

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Innovation is everywhere!

Living in a world where everyday innovations are more important than breakthroughs, leaders must be able to innovate and allow innovation! Ah, and the good news is, ‘you do not need to be a rocket scientist to be an innovator’Innovation is everywhere!

Minor changes and little improvements may suffice to help a company being better prepared to face the market and its rivals. Everyday innovations, and not only big innovations, can help companies being more competitive! It is crucial to move from a “putting all the eggs in the R&D basket” mentality to an “innovation is everywhere” mentality! If someone working in the customer service develops a new way of handling customer complains and bring time-to-answer down, she is improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. If the sales team develops a new way to prospect clients in a brand new way its being innovative! Even in a department like accounting one can innovate. Everything that introduces novelties and is able to improve competitiveness, uniqueness or creativity can be called of innovation!

Open innovation and crowdsourcing besides being very trendy nowadays, are also brilliant innovatory concepts! The idea of having key stakeholders helping a company solving problems or moving into a next level it is in my point of view amazing. The Social Media not only helps boosting these processes, but it can also be the process in itself. Social media brought a brand new way of interacting with consumers and brand fans, and introduced innovatory ways of lever on these interactions. By cutting off the difficulty and lack of commitment associated to the old fashioned surveys and inquires, where people did not feel motivated or committed to give suggestions or ideas, social media allowed companies to build strong online communities and transformed crowdsourcing into a competitive weapon. If a company is using social media networks to create alive communities and being able to build rapport around its brands and products, it is now better prepared with a real competitive advantage to face its rivalry.

A lot has changed regarding branding and marketing management, consumers does not want to be interrupted by advertisement campaigns on TV or an e-mail on there inbox, they prefer to chose when to participate or receive info from companies. So, when a person expresses her will to belong to an online community, she is already committed to receive info and, who knows, to engage. Ultimately, she can become a brand evangelist in helping spreading the word, and a fan committed to help the company with ideas and suggestions! Not only social media augmented the impact of crowdsourcing but also allowed companies to measure the pulse to its audience in a more reliable way! Social media democratized innovation in the sense that it brought common [inside and outside] people to participate in the process. In my viewpoint, brilliant and genius! Isn’t it?

In my point of view, innovation can be everywhere and carried out by everyone! 

What do you think? Is innovation everywhere? Can everyone be an innovator? How about online communities? Have you ever though that they could be a real competitive advantage to your company? Send us your thoughts and experiences!

Have a great day! Be an innovator but more than that, allow innovation into your company!

How Can A Corporate Culture Based on Frugality Save Your Brand?

I strongly believe that a company does not need to spoil resources to have a strong brand or be competitive Yet, we keep seeing companies spending and spoiling more than they can afford. Working for cost sensible companies gave me an insightful position on this matter, but never inhibited me of focusing on quality or brand image. Therefore, I still believe that if a company wants to face successfully the challenges ahead, it needs Leadership not vanity, and a culture of cost sensibility and frugality, instead of one based on waste .

Cost sensible does not mean less quality or weak brands, it means instead a sensible management of expenses. A company does not need to have expensive offices, latest state of the art fleet, or exquisite furniture to run a business successfully! It needs instead an informed and well trained team willing to be creative and innovative without a millionaire budget, and always committed to be lean and customer-oriented. More important, it needs a leader who uses the companies assets wisely and productively.

cost-sensible and frugal culture can work as a way of freeing up resources to invest in new capabilities and gain stronger competitive advantages. Obviously, for this to happen the company must re-invest the freed-up resources in crucial areas such as innovation, creativity, uniqueness, talent management, R&D or other that can add uniqueness and factors of differentiation.

I strongly advocate that a cost-sensible and frugal culture as a competitive advantage factor and a brand saviour. 

What Complexity Has To Do With Being Competitive? Nothing, I Must Confess!

Complexity is everywhere, I know! However, I sometimes feel that some companies want a piece of this complexity to feel like God, omnipresent and omniscient. This companies believe that by making use of a puzzled language and complex processes they are differentiating themselves from their competition and being unique. Not True!

We, human beings, have a problem with simple things, we believe that to be good and better than others one needs to be complicated and complex. I advocate that complexity leads only to a false sense of superiority, and creates a feeling of suspiciousness in consumers. Consumers do not like to be tricked or fooled by incomprehensible language and processes, though. Complexity does not lead to any competitive advantage, but it can cause damages! It generates difficulties in handling and optimizing processes, and in designing business strategies.

Being simple does not mean simplistic, like complexity does not mean competitiveness! Please avoid shortcuts and keep it simple, invest in uniqueness, creativity and innovation instead!

Meritocracy in a War-for-Talent World!

Although I am a huge fun of Networking and Social Interaction, I believe in a culture of meritocracy and people is rewarded regarding is effort and ethics. I know… I know,  Social Networking can not be reduced to traffic of influence and to jobs for friends. In my point of view, Social Networking is a powerful tool, and like I wrote for brainstorming in The Art Of Brainstorming In The 21st century!, it can work as a competitive advantage for those using it correctly. Nevertheless, in a moment of economic crisis and dead ends it is very common to assist to traffic of influences and the use of networking to find jobs for friends, and friends of friends.

Being honest here, I totally hate this awful downside of networking! I am totally for a meritocracy culture, and I believe that by having one a company can be more competitive and better prepared for the future. Merit is a factor that, regardless not being referred in text books or business schools, can work as a competitive advantage fro those using it. Why? Because it rewards creativity, innovation and efficiency, and at same time it is a strong support for talent management. Nowadays, and due to the amazing advancement of the technologies associated to the Internet and World Wide Web, social networking is more and more in use and sometimes in misuse! For instance, some people believe that because they have a big off and online network they can successfully sell a false profile in order to be hired as such. Networking is a powerful tool to source and manage talent, though, it must be used wisely and as a complement of meritocracy. The companies having a corporate culture based on meritocracy are a step ahead of those doing Friendocracy! Please do not fall for the Friendocracy trap!