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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The Bad Habit of Labeling Everything!

In these days creativity is still a rare and underused skill! Why? Are you asking, or not!!! Well, a lot of reasons can be accountable for, among them are some old habits, routines or cultural aspects that very vivid in the managerial world are still strong inhibitors of creativity. In this post I would like to focus on something I consider a bad habit, cultural or not, something that inhibits heavily creative and innovatory processes. I would like to talk about labeling. Who has the syndrome of labeling everything? 

Obviously, labels can be positive, it will always depend on what one is doing! If one is doing Market research, consumer behavior analysis or simply searching in the internet, labeling can be very useful in order to make sense out of an huge amount of information and data. Abnormally or not, the positive side of labeling coincides with its negative one. At the same time that labeling allows people to categorize and put similar stuff in a common drawer, it also eliminates uniqueness and reduces everything to a degree of similarity. By enclosing things inside drawers and boxes, not leaving them breathing nor trespassing to the neighbor, labeling avoids all the interaction and mixture between different aspects and leaves out all the creativity, innovation and outside-of-the-box effect. How can one allow the overuse of such a powerful uniforming tool in the era of differentiation and tailor made products? Creativity, innovation or even leadership need label-free environments, places where one can play around with concepts and ideas and think really outside of the box. Labels and preconceived ideas bring rigidity into processes leaving people with little ability to break barriers and try new things out, key aspect in the commencement of this 21st century.

On a different angle, I also believe that we live in a world with too much labeling and too less uniqueness! Where the first thing someone wants to do when meeting someone is to put her inside a drawer and labeling. Labeling can also be very negative when doing business and negotiating. When negotiating, please do yourself a favor and do not label people, otherwise you can end up losing the negotiation. By putting people inside drawers one is reducing the scope, missing the key information behind the obvious, blurring one’s sensibility and failing to truly understand everything involved. When negotiating, selling, doing business or leading, avoid labels, and drawers, and your likelihood of succeeding will rise exponentially.

Lessons learned, pay attention to overuse, misuse and wrong use of labeling (categorization, tagging…), it can harm your creativity, inhibit innovation, or damage your leadership and company.

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