Terry’s takeaway 2016-11-28

The right here and now!

Over the last few months there has been some significant changes in my life and I am attributing a number of them to my change in attitude.

I’ve heard so many people over the years say “just live for the moment” or something of that ilk and a quick search using your favourite search engine will reveal a plethora of similar statements. However this is exactly how I’ve lived my life recently.  Now don’t get me wrong I have my plans, 12 months, 2 years, 5 years and retirement, and without them the “here and now” wouldn’t actually be happening but there is something very real about this shift in mindset.

Backtrack to 2008:

In September 2008 I was sat in Vienna on a Sunday evening, having just flown in, waiting to attend the Swift banking conference Sibos. As the conference opened and the news of the single largest financial crash to date unravelled, it became very apparent that things were going to change. By 2010 my redundancy came to pass and I made a very significant decision to leave the IT sector and start my career in something I was just as passionate about, if not more so, languages.

Having had to study German in order to attain my degree in IT Sales and Marketing, I was the personification of the need to understand language and culture and as this powerful $38 Billion industry uses an immense amount of IT and infrastructure the marriage of the two in a new vocation seemed like a match made in heaven.  Despite all of this I have struggled in this industry.  Yes I know how it works better than most, yes I know who to speak to and how to speak to them and yes I have had some great success along the way, but I’ve not been able to find any endearment towards any of the companies I’ve worked for.

Back to the future:

Until now! In June 2015 I was given the opportunity to work with a company in our industry who has vision, morals, belief, pedigree and above all one I have found endearing. Now I appreciate that some of you will be finding the use of the word endearment a little disturbing, especially when being used to describe the company I work for, but it is the way I felt about my previous employer in 2008 before that world fell apart. Quite honestly there is no way that anyone would travel to London 3 times in one week and return home each day only to return the following one having done a 16 hour day if they didn’t. Granted this didn’t happen week in week out but it did happen, a lot, and I was happy to do it.

So last week, at the drop of a hat, I found myself on a plane to Madrid, because it was the best thing for both me and the company to do under the circumstances and the results of this trip were profound.

Without passion you can’t achieve the outcomes your client needs, without a love for what you do you won’t find that passion, and without the support of those around you won’t find the love you need. So finding a company who is so passionate about helping their clients achieve their outcomes is not only rare, but something you find yourself being infected by daily. This makes my job so much easier and the consequent results so much more rewarding.

And all this in the “here and now”

Terry’s takeaway 2016-11-22

Face to face is always better- no really ALWAYS!

A busy few days at the end of last week organising some last minute travel arrangements to Madrid meant I haven’t been able to update here for a couple of days.

Last night I landed in Madrid so that I could meet with one of my clients first thing this morning.

Up until today all our business has been conducted over the telephone, conference call and email due to the distance between our offices. Time zones have also meant that they have an intense end to their day and equally we have an intense start to ours. Quite honestly don’t know which I prefer if I’m honest but either way we both have the ultimate goal to do good business together and it works.

When the client then suggested that we meet in one of our voice recording environments so that they could evaluate first hand our set-up and project progress we were only too happy to oblige.

For some in our industry this would have struck them down with horror. The very thought of a client visiting their environment would induce a cold sweat somewhat akin to being spooked at midnight by a man in werewolf costume, and probably with good reason too. In an industry where there are over 28,000 LSPs (Language Service Providers) it is often easy for one or two people to set up a company, which on face value would seem like a much larger organisation with a majestic office space, but which in reality is a rented cubicle at best. There is a reason why people should do more research when looking for language services and also a reason why some don’t. The truth is you often get exactly that what you pay for and travelling the globe to see somebody’s bedroom is not good use of funds.

When our client met with us this morning they were very pleasantly surprised. In their own words “This makes me very happy”. We’ve had an enormously productive day and tomorrow is also going to be just as busy but we’ve achieved more in the last 10 hours than we would have done in 2 weeks and time really is money.

All of the above plays nothing but second fiddle to the magnitude of the value from actually meeting with the client in this face to face environment. The smiles, the puzzled faces, the frowns and the surprise recognition when the penny drops have all formed part of this meet, and none of which will be forgotten. So that when we all return to our own office spaces in our own countries and have our early morning/ late evening conference calls, the signs, smells and smiles will too be part of those meetings, even if we’re no longer in the same room.

TGL

 

Terry’s takeaway 2016-11-16

Celebrate:

When you have a longer sales cycle being able to celebrate your successes is sometimes a bit of an anticlimax. It has taken so long to get there, and often times the midnight oil has found itself on the final few drops, that the only celebrating you feel like doing is curling up in bed for a good night’s sleep.

So what I’ve found myself doing is creating little reward steps along the way. Mini celebrations if you like. These have a profound impact on your personal psyche and can help you stay motivated throughout these longer sales cycles.

Our inner chimp (Dr Steve Peters again) needs rewards from time to time, otherwise he throws a fit so as long as you set out some milestones that are achievable (Yes SMART does work) then you can allocate varying reward grades for each stage. It doesn’t mean that you go on a spending binge every time you’ve had a good phone call, these rewards can be as simple as taking 5 minutes for a cup of tea or, if you’re a social media addict allowing yourself 10 minutes in that rabbit hole (set a timer for this one though because that’s a whole different blog about procrastination and time wasting). Whatever it is you do make sure you take that guilt free reward for good work.

Now I can already see some people out there using this as a means of justification for a guilty pleasure, but that’s not what this is all about. This is about taking time to embrace success and when the big one does come along, hopefully you’ll not be anywhere near as stressed as you’ve previously been because this little tip will have given you the time out required to reflect on how much you’ve achieved on each significant stage of the journey.

TGL

Terry’s takeaway 2016-11-15

Sometimes the very thing you need to change is right there at the end of your nose.

In my case this was quite literally the case. Over a number of weeks now I’ve been staring down further and further towards the bottom rim of my glasses. Anyone out there who wears glasses with varifocal lenses (progressive lenses as they call them over the water) will tell you that this can only mean one thing. Time for an eye test.

A couple of weeks back I did exactly this and it was confirmed that my prescription had changed and that I was now in need of something a little stronger.

These last two weeks have been quite tough, knowing that the pair of glasses I was using were adequate but weren’t quite good enough and today saw (pardon the pun) the arrival of their replacements.

What a difference they have made already. Lighter, clearer and stronger and most importantly fit for purpose.

So what’s this got to do with sales? Well quite a lot really. Frequently I hear prospects tell me that they are “OK” with what they’ve got and that the service they get is adequate, but when I dig a little deeper it tends to uncover a different story.

More often than not they’ve been used to the same pair of glasses and despite staring at the rims, because the service is no longer sufficient, they continue to wear them. Well maybe now would be a good time to have that health check. Maybe now you could see that your needs have changed and that over time your older prescription is no longer good enough.

So unless your current provider can offer you those missing or improved services that you now need, maybe a new pair of glasses might just be the right tonic for you too.

TGL

Terry’s takeaway 2016-11-14

Smarketing

The buzzword coined by HubSpot has resonated with me quite significantly today.

If you’re not familiar with it then quite simply put “it is the amalgamation of sales and marketing for the common good.”

Working together with marketing you can produce some of the best customer orientated marketing material all of which is relevant to your client’s needs. And if you’re not involved from the sales side then your marketing team are most likely just “best guessing” as to what it is they need to say (educated of course).

Coming from a Sales AND Marketing background I personally embody this amalgamation and can therefore see why it is such a powerful way to approach the whole complex subject matter of both disciplines. One really should not live without the other and if your organisation is still working with the “GREAT DIVIDE” then both sides should probably take some time out to listen to the podcast from SpinWeb.net. Abby and Michael will introduce you to how much fun the collaboration of the two “warring fractions” can really be. (High Five guys, you’re both amazing)

So why did this resonate with me so much today? Because our newly launched website carries with it a whole heap of newly required marketing material and our marketing team aren’t in a position to produce it as fast as our sales team need it. The simple answer is then, for us in sale to be familiar with the brand guidelines and start creating the material ourselves. Yes it might feel like “you’re doing their job” but hang on guys you need this stuff right? and you, of all people, know what the client wants, so do yourself a huge favour and embrace your marketing side, you’ll be amazed how much more in tune with your clients you become if you do.

TGL

Finding what works for you

From a very early age I’ve always been able to get up and out of my bed very early in a morning. It started with a paper round as a boy and just continued from there. The thing is, despite being a morning person, I need this time in solitude. I need it to be able to function correctly for the rest of the day, it is my personal reset function if you like.

For the last 8 years I have shared this solitude with my faithful dog, he and I got up between 5.30 and 6.30 every day and walk off into the Pennines, no matter what the weather. 50 minutes to an hour later we returned and my personal defragmentation was complete. The to do list was mentally structured, the presentation recited, the sales calls organised, the latest blog post thoughts noted, the list goes on; and as such I started my work day very early.

During  the course of this morning activity I occasionally encountered one or two other people and there appeared to be a mutual nod, and sometime a verbal, recognition of unity but generally speaking that was about as far as it went at that time in the morning and this suited me perfectly, like I said I need the solitude.

Upon my return I had to put work on hold, as the family required my full attention. A cup of tea for the wife and I, freshly ground and brewed coffee into our amazing Starbucks Thermos mugs for the mid-morning and then upstairs to greet my wonderful family. Up to this point in my morning routine little has changed for the best part of 8 years, other than the addition of the 2 children during that time who now demand their share of my attention.

However since October this year the routine has changed somewhat. My morning companion is very sadly terminally ill and he can no longer entertain the full hour so we’ve cut the walk in half and having recently begun to listen to podcast during that time I decided to play them at 1.5 speed to get the same input of content as I would have done in my previous walks despite the reduced time-frame, it works and I wished I’d done it sooner actually.
Fortunately I have also managed to change my mind-set a little over the last few months and it does mean that I now have a special 30 minutes time to read on those 3 days a week when the house is void of my family due to the early start for them on Tuesdays through until Thursdays.
This ability to be able to switch modes between work and family and ensure that my priorities are aligned with what’s important to me has played a key role in this change and whereas so many talk about work-life balance, I personally tend to agree with a more recent line of thinking  “a work-life mix” (or blend).

So isn’t this just the same but using different words?

Not at all, in fact the use of language here is very important. If it was truly a work-life balance I would spend the exact same amount of time each day working and the same amount of time with my family and hobbies, notwithstanding the prerequisite of sleep of course. If ever something cropped up on one side or the other requiring a an increase in time the balance would be offset; and by default it wouldn’t be fair. Your mental well-being is then put under undue stress as you constantly strive to “re-balance the book” and you spend an excess amount of time worrying if you’ve got it right as opposed to just getting on with life.

By using the word mix, or blend, you instantly change the parameters surrounding the whole situation. A mix doesn’t have to be balanced. It doesn’t always have to be equal. In fact it invariably isn’t equal. You invest your time in what is important to you and in line with your beliefs. Yes you have to ensure that you put in the required hours of work to fulfil your commitments and you have to ensure you do your job to the best of your ability but equally you have to ensure that your family knows who you are and that in their hour of need you are there for them.

Working in sales this mix is not easy to manage, quite often I am accused of working 24/7 but that is certainly not the case. I sleep, I ride a bike, I walk my dog, I take my kids to school and I attend various council, club and school meetings alongside various other activities. Yes whilst doing some of these I’m also working, but that’s where the mix comes in to it. I can have a conversation during a club bike ride and start talking about business, I can attend a parents’ evening at school and strike up a conversation about business and even on a family day out whilst sat in a café drinking a cup of hot chocolate with the kids, there’s always a chance of a chat with some other like-minded person to talk about business.

So using this art of blending everything together does help me to get my priorities right. I probably dedicate more time to work as a result of it, hence the perception that I work 24/7, but this is never to the detriment of my family. Family, life, my own well-being and work have all benefitted from this way of thinking and I don’t have to waste time worrying if I’ve got the balance right, because the results, on all sides, are proof enough that I have.

My advice to all of you, who are still trying to get that work/life balance right, is just stop! Work out where you priorities lie, work out where you are the most efficient and then blend it. The results speak for themselves.

TGL

Terry’s takeaway 2016-11-11

Remember them:

On the 11th hour of the 11th month every year I go through an extremely emotional phase of my life.

It is a time of reflection, gratitude and more importantly remembrance for those friends, comrades and family; of my military brethren, who’s life was shortened for the greater good of everyone in the world they left behind.

Today this major event in my year already feels tougher than ever before. In a year where the world appears to be spiralling into self destruction I deeply hope that the passing of those millions I didn’t know, and those few I knew and loved so dearly, wasn’t in vain.

So to all those who share my sorrow and grief, especially those in my family WE WILL REMEMBER THEM!

Terry’s takeaway 2016-11-09

Make the call

Too often the lure of sending a quick message, via email, text or social media; is far more appealing when you’re not “feeling it”.

Probably because my body is still playing catch-up after a busy weekend and months of limited sleep (young kids do that to your sleep patterns), but this afternoon found me heading towards this infernal trap.

The thing is I actually love talking to people so sending out messages in writing does not help me out of that rut, in fact it only serves to enhance the negative feeling I get from it. So despite the natural digression into this soul destroying and quite frankly poor form of prospecting I fought against it and picked up the phone.

Nothing quite beats the sound of another human-being talking about their issues when you have the tools in your armoury to help them get over those issues. You really do have to hold back too. It would be so simple to rush right in and shout about this amazing solution that is the utopia to their pain, but a small back catalogue of missed opportunities from shooting too soon now has an amazing pull on my lips and stops them from opening.

The medicine to my fatigue arrived, and the enthusiasm I’m renowned for was revitalised and all because I made the call.

TGL

A cultural weekend away with my second family

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I can see for miles and miles

Once a year a multicultural group of over 45 work colleagues arrive in a secret city location to engulf themselves in the culture of that locale. Leading up to the event there is a series of clues released, by the organising committee, with the final reveal around 3 to 4 weeks in advance of the arrival date. As a consequence, by the time we arrive the expectations are usually very high.

It is therefore a mammoth task for the organisers to get everyone there on time, especially as the participants come from all corners of the globe, and each year they excel and exceed all these expectations. This is testament to the talent that we have accrued over the years here are CPSL, in fact over the last 53 years, and to the enthusiasm of all those who attend.

This year was no exception and my work family and I gathered in the amazing city of Granada. A lunchtime reception of tapas and drinks at the Hotel Vinicci Albayzin started the weekend off in style followed by a number of corporate presentations celebrating our successes of this year and setting out the stall for 2017. A short walk later and we arrived at the team building session. What can I say? If you’re not first……. 😉

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And the winner is

With military precision the turnaround time from completion of the team-building to the departure for the pre-dinner walk was limited to 3/4 hour, which for me at least was a good thing because otherwise I would have most likely opted for a catnap and the result of that would have been “CATastrophic (sorry couldn’t resist).

The typically late evening meal was met with welcomed eyes both on the plate and the spectacular night-time view of the La Alhambra from the windows of our dining area.

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Night-time Alhambra

Just as the food and wine kept on flowing so did the tirelessly wonderful view, however those dark night clouds were also the bearers of something far more cleansing and right on cue our departure from this awesome venue was greeted with some torrential rain. Coming from a county in England where this kind of thing is a regular occurrence it didn’t faze me, but there were those who believed that I had purposely brought the weather with me so as not to feel too homesick. – Honestly I would have preferred it not to have rained but it did have the very positive effect of keeping me awake in those final few hours of a long but exhilarating  day.

My colleagues, who were fortunate enough to have been able to spend the previous evening in Granada, informed me about the high standard of the hotel breakfast on the return to the hotel so that when I awoke the following morning feeling that my body could certainly approve of a few more well spent minutes in slumber land I wisely chose not to.

Fuelled with enough energy to climb a mountain, we left the hotel for a guided tour of the city of Granada. One of the most important parts of our corporate culture is to practise what we preach. So each year that we meet we submerse ourselves into the history of the city we visit. Granada has this in buckets and around every corner a whole world of “years gone by” opened up its arms and smothered us in their delights.

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Beauty, beauty everywhere

Almost exhausted from the culture overload we have a small break as we travelled by bus to the top of the hill where the world famous La Alhambra Palace was waiting to take our senses into mind-blowing overload.

Every window had its own unique story, every tree, plant and flower its own smell and every fragment of dust reminded us of a time in the past which we totally connected with. Words are my world but sometimes even they are inadequate when confronted with the beauty of something so spectecular as La Alhambra.

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The importance of this experience within our organisation cannot be expressed enough. We are language and culture experts and the more we learn the better we do our job. The sheer joy of what we were subjected to over the weekend of the 5th November 2016 has taken me to a new level of cultural appreciation and for that I thank my CPSL family.

TGL

Terry’s takeaway 2016-11-04

Resilience

A word which conjures up many conflicting views about a person who demonstrates this and quite often is perceived as somebody just bulling their way through life no matter what. This way of thinking, for me anyway, is more of an arrogant trait than a resilient one but that’s where the fine line can be drawn.

I personally believe that resilience is a positive attribute but one that is frequently born out of adversity.  As a sales professional it is often said that you have to be thick skinned and in some respects this is true but, to coin an old school sales motivational phrase, every no is one step closer to the next yes. Dealing with these disappointments is what differentiates the best sales professionals from the rest. My personal and all time favourite sales trainer Anthony Iannarino talks about mind-set being the most important part of being a sales person and in his number one best selling book “The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need” he breaks this down into 9 elements. His work in this field is truly inspiring and I totally agree that mind-set is where it all begins, resilience is part of your mind-set.

In today’s example I experienced a significant setback in my ongoing prospecting of a particular dream client. The outcome I was working towards didn’t materialise and consequently I got a no, however this was followed by a “but maybe”. It was wasn’t a placating “but maybe”, as so many are, but a significant one and the following conversation opened up a new opportunity, which is significantly greater than the initial one we were discussing. The downside to this is there is a whole heap of repeat work to be conducted with a number of new contacts from within this organisation and therefore the near 11 months of invested time already in this account continues, making the sales cycle a little longer than I would normally have preferred.

I know for a fact that many other peers in our industry would have already given up on this prospect, not least of which because they wouldn’t have taken the time to understand their needs correctly. In this latest setback I also know that a younger Terry would not have been in the right frame of mind to continue the conversation, in the manner that was needed to get the new outcome, especially after having been delivered the disappointing decision from the first one.

Creating an opportunity out of adversity requires resilience and if you want to succeed in life, let alone sales, then you need to be able to create coping strategies to help you overcome these setbacks and thereby becoming that resilient, and not an arrogant, sales professional.

TGL