Getting outside after a long week

It might be quite apparent to some of you that I am a great believer that we should spend as much time as we can outdoors. So after a deterioration of health within the family unit towards the back end of last week there was very little opportunity for any of us to be out of the house much. Over the weekend however things improved significantly and today we had some glorious weather in our part of the country, albeit a bit on the chilly side. No such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing choices; is a regular passage spoken in our house. 

So off we set, with the sunlight streaming through the car window we headed north east to Fountains Abbey. Making good time on some strangely empty roads we arrived well before lunch and flashed our national trust cards upon entry. We love it there, their well maintained grounds and stunning views are just the tonic you need when you’ve been cooped up in your office half the week and travelling on public transport and pounding trade floors the other. Add to that two little ones who have were both going square eyed from the relentless repeats of the sound of music and fireman Sam (sickness bugs kind of do that to you) and the inevitable energy release followed by total energy drain were of no surprise. 

With only 1/2 mile left to go they’d both had enough but the promise of lunch and a warm room to eat it in was fortunately tempting enough to help them reach their final reserves. After this we had another fairly traffic free drive home and our vitamin D had been given a well needed boost. 

This is why I enjoy my life so much. Everything is intertwined the energy I gain from days out with my loved ones like this set me up perfectly to tackle a new week of work ahead. One compliments the other in harmonious equilibrium and the challenges from either are made easier by the joyful memories of the other, bringing a state of zen like stability to both worlds. 

It is time in the open air that helps with the healing process of my mind, revitalising every fibre of my being. Is it any wonder therefore that I’m sat here right now waxing lyrical about the virtues of being outdoors. We all have to make choices in our lives and today was certainly the right one to make in mine. 

TGL

Living in your phone #part 1

This week I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to attend a trade event in our capital city of London. In fairness I’ve been involved with quite a number of these over the years and in some of the earlier ones I attended I too was caught “RED HANDED” guilty of what I’m about to write about.

Let me set the parameters!

When a company embarks upon the journey of exhibiting at an exhibition there are a plethora of things that need to be taking into consideration, just about all of which have a financial impact associated with them. Ultimately they are going to be looking for an ROI (return on investment) at the end of it and various KPIs  (Key Performance Indicators) will determine the success of the event. These outcomes, however, are very strongly influenced by one single metric; the personnel manning the stand. That’s right! surprise surprise but your next year’s “team jolly to London” is resting on your shoulders.

These events can be hugely entertaining and there is, without question, an opportunity to socialise and network with your peers, but when you’re on the stand you also have a huge responsibility because throughout the entire time you are on the stand, you are the face of your company. Your body language, your attention to detail and your physical appearance tells a huge story to the passing  trade and if you want to maximise your success at these events then there are a few rules that you should observe.

  1. Be careful what you eat the night before. If you turn up on your stand oozing the splendours of last nights garlic drenched fish out of every pore of your being then it shouldn’t come as a surprise if your passing trade takes a wide berth.
  2. On the very same lines as the above but even more important in my opinion, don’t overdo the alcohol on the night before. This is particularly important if you haven’t got a late start rotation in place because at 9am there’s nothing more disgusting than drinking in the breath of a barely sober individual who’s tried to hide the stench behind half a bottle of mouthwash.
  3. Don’t eat on the stand. I appreciate that sometimes you have been left to man the stand on your own but there’s no way you can last the day without the toilet and equally there’s no way you’ll last without food. So take a break. Leave a note to say you’ll be back in 10 minutes and even if you’re only around the corner don’t try to grab your food whilst you’re working.
  4. Dress how you want your clients to see you on a first meeting. Not everyone needs to be suited and booted but there aren’t very many meetings you would go to in a torn pair of jeans and ripped t-shirt!
  5. When you’re talking to a potential client devote your time to the person you’re conversing with. Stop looking over their shoulder for the next million dollar deal to walk on your stand. Not only is this the height of rudeness but you could actually be talking to that million dollar deal, you’ve just not given it the attention required to uncover it. Believe it or not but nobody wears 1 million dollar budget sticker on their name badge.
  6. Stop talking shop with your colleagues. Do I really have to explain this one?  Ok 2 points 1) how are you going to attract somebody onto your stand if you’re already talking to somebody else and 2) you’re in a hall full of industry peers and competitors who’ll be very interested to hear about John’s installation hiccup that nearly cost you your best customer.
  7. Right this is my number 1 pet hate. Put your mobile phone away! Both life and business happen outside of your back-lit screen and you’re not suddenly going become a technophobe just because you missed your best mate’s LinkedIn update. Your emails can wait, if somebody early wants to get hold of you they’ll call, and if you’ve already explained to all the most important people where you’re going to be and for how long, they’ll either see you there or arrange another time to speak with you. There is almost certainly somebody back in the office that can deal with it and if not they too can get a hold of you. You are in sales, you’re not a surgeon. Nothing, aside from an emergency phone call from your closest family, is more important than talking to a room full of people who buy and sell in your space. I cannot believe that I observed a stand with 7 reps all on their chuffing phones whilst crowds of people just walked on by on Monday, but I did. Your company invested thousands to send you there and you repaid them with Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook updates, with a dollop of internal banter about the good looking girls on the stand around the corner, on the side. Yes this really did happen! Shortly after 3pm Monday 23rd January 2017 and I’ll stop of naming and shaming. Rest assured I’ll be in touch with that company later on this week to ask how the show went and if they thought it could have gone any better.

I do hope that this none exhaustive list is of value to some of you and don’t take it to heart if you’ve done any one or even all of them, because I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point in our careers.

TGL

If you live in the present your new world starts every day!

Over the last 48 hours there has been so much talk and comparisons made regarding the inauguration of the latest president of America. I do not doubt in the slightest that things on the world stage are going to change over the coming weeks, months, years; and I really don’t want to start hypothesising about where America is going to be 5 years from now, because quite frankly there is precious little I do in my life which can influence the direction she is taking. What I can do though is take control of my own life. I can influence the small few who surround me, who need me, who love me, and who believe in me. Who then in turn can do the same to those in their close circle of life. If we start looking for all the good things to share, smiling at people we barely know and sharing our inner most thoughts with those who we truly love and trust, then maybe just maybe this united act of loving kindness can steer the world in a more harmonious direction than the one we’re currently being fed by the world’s doom and gloom press. 

Every day I wake up surrounded by my loving family, I meditate and find inner peace to start the day, and I then try to share some of this joy with anyone I can so they too can have a small moment of happiness in their day.  I am not special, I have a million flaws, I hurt in so many ways but I live in the present moment and as a result my life has a new beginning each and every moment in each and every day. I learn from the past, I forgive myself and others for things I now understand to be hurtful and I continue to listen to my body, my mind and my surroundings so that I don’t make these hurtful mistakes again. I don’t always succeed either but I try and by doing so I change over time. So if you too, as I did not all too long since, find yourself being absorbed by the poison of the press and those who preach it without validation, then take a moment to breath, think about where you are and become present in your here and now. It will, I assure you, take away the initial pain and help you focus on what really matters, YOU and those close to you.

TGL 

Perception is not always a good thing

I suppose this can be said about many things, as near enough everything is open to interpretation these days, especially the written word. However the content of this piece in the Guardian 2 days ago left me full of both anger and pity.

It is probably healthy to let out the anger first, so here goes. My wife is Swedish, therefore my children, despite being born here, are both half Swedish. So after the recent debacle (the general global consensus is that this really was so) called Brexit the UK has hit the headlines for a number of reasons. Sadly a large portion of those have not been very pleasant and the article linked to above is just one very recent example. Reported xenophobia has increased by a startling 41% if this Huffington Post example is to be taken on face value, and there was also the most serious of cases which led to the death of the MP Jo Cox prior to the vote even taking place.

My single biggest fear is that my wife and children may also be exposed to this over the coming months/ years and all because we are no longer part of Europe. For some reason a xenophobic minority think it is now OK to go around saying and doing whatever they want to people they believe not to be British. Hate fuels hate and if ever there was a time for everyone to re-watch the 1982 Biography about Ghandi, now would be it. It is absolutely remarkable that we have so much documented history from the last 100 years and yet we still can’t learn the lessons.

So now that I’ve vented a little I’ll move on to the pity element. My pity lies with those who still struggle to see the kindness in others, those who still use violence to express their fears rather than opening up a conversation to talk about them. They use social media to bully others, particularly in schools; and they have no concept or ability to listen to a counter argument that challenges their existing beliefs or way of thinking. It is incredible that even writing these words has evoked a wave of emotions that are now engulfing me to the point of choking, and all because of how very real they feel in a world that is now full of hatred, despair, and poverty. And yet the source of this can now be pinpointed to one or two major events in our recent 30 year history. The first is pretty obvious. A war which never was about anything other than oil started by the west and which has fuelled a rise in terrorist activity of a magnitude that has never been seen before. Second our most influential and precious commodity of the modern world, the internet. Communication and mis-communication alike travel in milliseconds across the globe. Therefore we all have a duty of care, I believe we do anyway, to ensure that we use this power with care; sadly even world leaders abuse this daily.

So our powers that be running our country now have a huge job to do, and in a way we can assist them with this as it will be beneficial to us all. We need to dispel the perception that we are a small, big headed, xenophobic country trying to regain the power of an empire long lost and replace it with a the reality that we are a small nation of talented people who have been poorly managed over recent times and who now have the intention to make amends. We do have ambitions to ensure that the “Great” in our country is justified but equally we are not conceited enough to believe that just because we say we are, that the rest of the world will listen.

I love my country but right now I’m embarrassed by the actions of a minority who are bringing it into disrepute. Our image outside of our own blinkered view is no longer one of “Great” as this has been replaced by “what do they think they are doing?” So let’s all rally together and bring it back. We’ve been dealt a hand through no fault of our own so lets play with it and create the best possible outcome we can. And we need to start this by being humble enough to accept that we have probably made a bit of a mess of things over the last few years.

Thank you.

TGL

Getting it right

In an article I read in the Australian online news outlet “The Age” there is a story about a radio presenter experiencing an awkward situation when referring to the person they were interviewing as “She”. Now on face value a simple assumption to make, as the physical gender of that person was female. However as the interview was about lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in media and film, it would have been much more appropriate to have established how this person would prefer to have been addressed in advance of the interview.

Making assumptions is a dangerous game and very much so in the world of translation. In this instance,  as Rory is quoted as saying, “Most of the time people feel a bit embarrassed, all that’s needed is a quick apology, it doesn’t have to be a huge deal. The less of a big deal the better.” but it highlights very clearly how things can get out of hand. Had Rory not been as understanding it could quite easily have escalated into something much more problematic.

One of the questions I’m asked all the time is “why pay for something you can get for free?” referring of course to Bing and Google translate (amongst others). Whilst I do firmly believe that there is both a place and a market for this kind of technology, it truly does not belong in your shop window.  By this I mean any customer facing material such as websites, product brochures, software UIs, FAQs (you get the picture)

There are so many anecdotal examples of where translation has gone catastrophically wrong, and I won’t bore you with another list of them here, but even these cannot all be put down to machine translation. In fact a fair proportion are as a result of human misunderstanding, and yes here it is, MAKING ASSUMPTIONS.

In my industry there is no such thing as too many questions, so long as the questions:
a) have not been asked more than once before
b) are relevant to the situation
c) require an answer to move on to the next stage

So here’s my pearl of wisdom for today, if you are looking at talking to an overseas market, one which does not speak your language as their mother tongue, or has different beliefs or culture; then get in touch with a professional translation agency. Be very mindful about what questions they ask you too. You’ll probably be surprised how many just ask you to send the source file without first having a proper discovery call with you. Once you do find the right one for you, invest the time upfront answering their questions, bring in your own ideas and work together as they should ideally feel as if they are part of your team. And if your end client has a similar story to the article at the beginning of this blog, imagine what the implications would be in a language where gender specific articles have a profound impact in the resulting translation.

TGL

Goal setting for 2017

A week behind the curve this year for me this one, but nonetheless it has been a particularly thorough exercise this time around.

This is my second year of following Micheal Hyatt’s principals for your best year ever and having reflected on what went right and what didn’t go right last year I think this year should be a much more balanced year than 2016.

I’m amazed to hear how few people actually write down their goals each year, especially when Harvard business studies prove that you have a 43% greater chance of attaining your goals if this is all you do. Couple that with an action plan, mentors, well thought out specific and balanced goals, your fulfilment chances rise significantly more and therefore it would be entirely foolish of me not to do this. Especially as 2017 is going to be another busy and successful year.

As it stands right now I’m just finishing off the final touches to my 8 goals, I’ve committed them into writing, I’ve shared them with a select few who will hold me to account throughout the year and I have scheduled the completion dates into my wall calendar. Once the progression milestones have been sanitised they too will be added to the calendar and each of my mentors informed so that we can arrange our review dates.

To some of you out there this will all sound like hairy-fairy mumbo-jumbo stuff, management BS, or just a plain waste of time, but as a testament to how this stuff actually does work, I managed to build my own office last year. As well as qualifying to become a level 2 British cycling coach, closing out an outstanding business year in Q4, teaching my daughter how to ride her bike, having an operation, and recovering therefrom, on my shoulder (from which I’ve been suffering over 6 years) increasing my running ability to run a sub 50 minute 10km and still maintaining my cycling fitness to enable me to lead out our club rides on nearly every Tuesday of the year. This is all in addition to the normal run of the mill family life stuff which we all have.

When I set out these goals last year they seemed totally insurmountable on paper, but I was driven and determined to do them and I wrote them all down. As a result they happened, not without hardship, as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, but that’s why this year things will be even better.

So remember the only thing stopping you doing what you have to/ need to do, is you. If nothing else write down your goals on paper and hold yourself accountable for them, but if like me you need more pressure than that, then I would encourage you to look up Michael Hyatt and hear what he has to say about true goal setting.

Have a great 2017, all of you.

TGL

 

Should I make the call?

Once again I’ve been reminded of how important it is to keep on persevering.

Sales is a numbers game but it isn’t just about burning through a list of potential clients one after the other. Actually it is if you’re in telesales but that’s why B2B sales people get a bad rep.

Whenever you speak to someone your tone of voice and your first words will influence the way that conversation is going to go. If you chose to read a script then you can bet your bottom dollar that if that script has been given to you by somebody else, then it will have been heard before, so your first few words such as “How are you doing today?” in a fake friendly tone are not going to be met with the most positive of responses. Similarly the old school technique of “John Smith” in a curt and total condescending tone of voice will, quite deservedly, meet with an equally hostile response.

Over the many years I’ve been in sales making a call has been something I really have grown to love, but it wasn’t always that way. It really is difficult to hide your true intent in just words and tone, which is why your true intent is so important.

So before I make any call I follow a few basic rules.

  1. What is it I want to share with the person I’m calling?
  2. What time of day is it where they are?
  3. Is this call going to be important enough for me to interrupt their working day?
  4. Is this call going to add value for them?
  5. What outcome do I want from the call?

Once I’ve gained the answers to these then I’m ready to style the tone and vocabulary I’m going to use on the call.

Then, and only then, I’ll make the call.

So what happened today?

Over the last 12 months I’ve been trying to get some time to speak with a potential new client. I’ve left VM after VM, I’ve sent emails, video messages, the works and still I’ve not been able to speak to them. Today, I picked up the phone and dialled their number, I’d ticked all the boxes and they answered the call. In fact they not only answered the call but we’ve not got the foundations laid out for the next steps with specific dates scheduled for the next call.

So if you’re sat there asking yourself should I make the call? If you can answer the 5 questions above positively, then yes MAKE THE CALL.

Terry’s 2017 takeaway – Sales post

During my few minutes over lunch today I was privileged to be able to read a post by a Director of Marketing and Communications, who was politely telling sales people to stop calling her in this very public format.

In all honesty I didn’t find it all that polite at all, in fact at times it was very condescending, but bear with me because she did raise a few good points.

Sales professionals worldwide can glean a lot of good value from this post on some of the dos and don’ts in our profession.

Dos:

  • Do make sure you do your research on both the company and the person you are calling.
  • Do be tenacious but DON’T be over zealous
  • Do be friendly
  • Do be respectful
  • Do have a true value proposition
  • Do believe in yourself and your company

Don’ts:

  • Do not be over familiar
  • Do not be condescending
  • Do not be presumptuous
  • Do not try to trick somebody into talking to you (if you start with a lie how can they trust you- sales is built on trust)

There is a whole raft of others to add to both lists but you get the picture and  Lisa does go into some of her own pet hates in the blog.

But the bit that got me a little hot under the collar today was this

“Skip the “May I have some time on your calendar?” and hit me up for “the day and time that work best.” Whoa, cowboy or cowgirl — the first step is persuading me that I need your product or service. (And if we both know I don’t need what you’re offering, a meeting is going to waste the time you could spend closing a deal with someone else.)

If were going to be talking about being presumptuous then this statement highlighted in bold really is at the top of that tree. As a sales professional my first step is not about persuading anyone that my product or service is what they need. My first intention is first, and absolute foremost, about understanding your company’s unique set of requirements and only if I speak to the people in your company who have those requirements, can I then understand if the product and services we have are a good fit.

In this respect therefore I have to take umbrage with Lisa.

I rarely speak to somebody who hasn’t been able to take away some benefit from the conversation I’ve had with them. This wisdom is a service I offer for the small cost of your time. Not always will this lead to further conversations but I can guarantee that the 5 or 10 minutes we share together will be productive for both of us. It will also be a lot less time consuming for both of us too. By screening every call that comes in you are wasting an extraordinary amount of time especially if that person has you on repeat dial for several weeks. By taking the call you will facilitate 2 major things.

  1. You will know for sure that the services we offer are or are not right for you. Surprise, surprise not every company out there has an identical offering, even if the end result of the service or product delivered is the same. Quite often a company with longevity and customer specific focus will have methodologies which can vastly improve your own productivity even though the service on face value looks the same.
  2. And this might also come a shock to you, until such time as we have established if there really isn’t a fit for our services, we will continue to call, email, and whatever other methods we feel are necessary because our ultimate goal is to make your life better. If we can’t do that then we’ll walk away, because that really would be a waste of everybody’s time.

So please the next time you get a sales call from one of the hundreds and thousands you receive just try to remember that a small minority of us sales guys out here, are actually trying to help you and telling us to stop trying to help you is like asking your mum not to stopping loving you. Please don’t compare my persistence to me being some annoying fly that won’t leave your food alone on a hot summer’s day, because if the truth be told a simple thanks but no thanks could go a long way to building that next relationship that you so dearly treasure. And it maybe that in the future you have a need for something we can offer and provide to other clients in your space that you currently don’t know exisits.

TGL