Let’s Begin !

Thank you for joining me!

“We owe almost all our knowledge not to those who have agreed but to those who have differed.” ― Charles Caleb Colton

This page and blog have been created with at heart the exchange of information and experiences around the fields of marketing and sales. Any and all feedback is welcomed, as well as questions or further elaboration on the topics/stories that will be addressed.

This will be a journey of my personal experiences and stories, as well as my process of thought as has been formed through my academic studies in the field of Marketing, complemented or contradicted by real life experience with Marketing and Sales.

In doing so I will provide you with some insights and tips on how to come on top in these highly competitive fields. So, let’s begin !

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Sales and Negotiations: Hold Your Ground!

Times have changed. The markets have changed. Competition has changed. Customers are informed on products and services, therefore the way you handle a sale, the negotiation process and even the closing have also changed. The classic scenario was as follows: Start off with a high opening offer, customer counter offers with a very low one, and then meet somewhere in the middle. In this article, we will examine one of the new methods of handling the sales/negotiation discussion.

Below are three terminologies that will be used to better explain the sale and negotiation process:
1. ANCHORS: It refers to a target or goal. Usually associated with a price (figure). Both parties can have an anchor.
2. CHILLING EFFECT: One of the negotiators looses all motivation to continue the discussion (negotiation)
3. BATNA: This term refers to the Best Alternative Agreement ( Fisher & Ury, 1981)

Back to the present now, unfortunately the above mentioned tactic won’t even allow you to get noticed. This doesn’t mean that tactics used for the last century are no longer effective, but rather need a reexamination and adjustment. The need for this readjustment/ reexamination, is that majority of sales now happen in the faceless online world, and if your opening offer is high, then you will not even get the lead, the chance to enter the discussion with a potential customer.

The below technique is for sales people who are well informed on their product/services, understand competitive advantage and also have the stomach for it. This technique requires a lot of practicing and you must be equipped with facts, figures, and a lot of patience. Be wary of the vocabulary you will use and your attitude towards the other party, otherwise it might have a chilling effect.

How to get started is simple, but will take some time to master in order to be able to go from lead to actual sale. First off you need to lower your anchor (asking price) and bring it closer to your BATNA (Best Alternative Agreement). The higher your anchor is, the more likely is that you will get lost in the midst of the competition. Lower your anchor to stand out from the competition. When the leads come in, and they will come in, then it’s up to you and your team to turn it into a sale.

Here is how is done: Have you ever seen a movie with knights, who declare where the last stance will be, and when the battle begins how their main goal is to hold their ground? Your approach must be the same. Hold your anchor, and don’t take a step back. Potential customers will of course engage in a discussion, or even try to negotiate for better, lower price. It is in our nature. Show that your are serious about your offer, and repeat all the pros without referring to pricing as much. Always keep in mind that the main reason they have chosen to contact you, is because your pricing is better than competitors. If you take a step back, it will be the first of many.

Not stepping back shows how serious you are with reference to your product and pricing. In addition you come forth as credible, by providing facts and market knowledge while sharing them with the customer. Spend time with them and repeat the key benefits of doing business with you, whether it is about the product or your organisation. All of this comes together with a lot of patience. Take the necessary time to convince of the benefits, and when you see the customer countering his initial offer closer to your offer, then simply fall back on your BATNA (or close to it) and seal the deal. Closing the deal in that way, still leaves the customers with the feeling that they got the best bargaining price out of an already excellent package.

Two benefits from using this technique are:
1. It will bring in more leads. More leads means more potential sales.
2. Directly puts pressure on the competition. Those who can’t compete, will fade away.

Not all sales or negotiations have a simple or happy ending. For this reason, you must always have a walkaway strategy. When the customers sticks to their anchor, which is at a big distance from yours, and after all other means of persuasion have failed, then it is time to simply walk away. Have faith in your product, and more leads will follow. Being ready to walk out shows that you are not desperate for the deal, and that you are only interested in engaging in a serious conversation, and not a battle of egos.

Having used this technique myself for the last few years in sales, not only have I managed to see more customers, but also increased the conversion rate drastically. Just like the knights, declare your battlefield and hold your ground!

I hope you have found this topic interesting and useful. What do you think about it? All feedback and comments are welcomed.

Negative Reviews: 4 STEPS

Let’s face it! Not everybody likes you, and not everybody will like you regardless of how good, efficient or productive you are. Sadly online platforms and especially social media have given new means for the upsetting minority to be loud, and without the proper tackling, negative reviews can be detrimental to your business, or yourself on a personal level.

Having negative reviews in your personal life is inevitable. People are stalking your every move and are waiting patiently for that first mistep to jump in, doubt you, and bring you down. Don’t let it bother you. Take all constructive criticism, which is always welcomed, and the rest let it wash off. The naysayers cannot win unless you fuel them. (Handling personal negative feedback will be addressed in a future blog post)

If you are in any type of business, whether it is products or services, you can always expect the negative reviews. Oddly enough, the majority of happy customers won’t say anything, and only the ones that have something to complaint about will take it to the keyboard to share their “Horrific”, “Dramatic” experiences. Most of these reviews are plain ranting from people looking for their 5 minutes of social media fame.

It has always stayed with me, the first time when I got my first negative review for myself and the organisation I represent. A classical scenario of false facts, over dramatization, and just plain ranting. I was beyond overwhelmed with a feeling of injustice, and drowning. Now, five years down the line, we are at a steady 4.8/5 stars reviews on all social media platforms. Here is how we did it in 4 simple steps:

  1. Filter the text (separate the constructive criticism from the ranting)
  2. Always reply (never leave a negative review without a formal reply)
  3. Where applicable block/ban the user
  4. Get more positive reviews (ratio)

Step 1 is to always filter the negative review. You might find some useful information by reading between the lines. There is always room for improvement. Even in plain ranting, one can find some useful feedback.

Step 2 is to reply. Take your time when replying, and don’t rush. Be as professional in your reply as possible and do not drop to the level of the person who wrote the review. Always begin with a “Thank you for taking the time to review…”. The response doesn’t have to be lengthy, but rather clear, on point, and use facts. If you cannot be objective and formal, have someone else (copywriter) to do it for you. You are responding to that one person, but you also need to consider every one else who will take a second to read through. Once you reply, then let it be. Do not engage again even if there are follow up comments. The dust will settle sooner than you would expect, and life goes on.

Step 3 is the simplest. You can eliminate all follow up comments by this user by simply blocking them or banning them from your page (in the case of Facebook pages). People like that usually have a tendency to stick around and comment on your material, trying to reignite a fire. The principle is simple, and is based on real life. You don’t get to come to my house and run your mouth about me. Thank you for coming, but you are no longer welcomed here.

Step 4 is to set a target with your team. Drown the negative reviews with positive ones. Set a goal, and say that for every 1 bad review, we will try to get 20 positive ones. It’s not that hard to do. Promote and encourage people to leave a positive review online. Just ask customers to give a review or feedback of your services, or train your staff to seek that positive review (via a reward system for employees).

Unfortunately most businesses realize the importance of reviews as soon as the negative reviews come in, and then they are in a chase to get some good ones. This is like starting a 100 meter race, and you give the opponents a 3 seconds heads start! Get ahead from the beginning. Have a constant flow of positive reviews, and you will not have to bother with the negative ones, if and when they come your way.

Follow the simple 4 steps to not only make the most out of negative reviews, but also to get ahead. Lastly, always remember “You don’t get 500 million friends, without having a few enemies” (Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder).

I hope you have found this topic interesting and useful. What do you think about it? All feedback and comments are welcomed.

The Power of One: Gediminas Tower

As mentioned in my blog, all of the insights and information provided come from real life experiences in the fields of marketing and sales and personal development. These experiences apart from the professional career and encounters, also happen on the daily world, and if you look closely you will see that everywhere you look, everywhere you go, there is a lesson to be learned.

This happened to be the case on my last visit to beautiful Vilnius (Lithuania). Having a stroll through the city, I came to gaze upon a hill, a majestic tower standing tall, right in the heart of the city. You couldn’t miss it. This was the Gediminas Tower, originally constructed in 1409 for the Grand Duke Vytautas, and then again rebuilt in 1933 by Polish Architect Jan Borrowski. It truly is a must see landmark. Unfortunately in recent years the city (administrative body) has cut off all of the trees and plantation of the slopes of the hill, in order to make the tower more visible to the public due to its symbolic significance, despite environmentalist specialists advising them against it.

In 2012, against all warnings, the cutting off all of the surrounding trees (maple trees) proceeded. The results were devastating and as predicted. With no trees (roots) to hold the soil, the hill has given way in recent years, resulting in the tower to be on the verge of collapsing. The tower is now naked at the mercy of the environment, weather conditions, ground shifting, and the city has ever since been hopelessly trying to secure and restore the damage.

Picture this now: This tower is YOU! You have built yourself up with knowledge, wisdom, intelligence, hard work and you can now stand tall and proud at what you have become and where you are at, the top of the hill ! The trees are your network. This includes your family, close friends, peers, in a pyramid hierarchy with family being at the base of that cliff.

No matter how tall you stand, how majestic and powerful you appear to be, if those trees are cut off, you will be exposed and vulnerable. Exposed to circumstances beyond your control, and vulnerable to malice and bad intentions. The sad thing is that a lot of people do it voluntarily. They intentionally cut off their trees, their network, their family, their friends. I have seen people in my life, and I’m sure you have seen too, who will turn down any form of help, even help from their closest people who only have their best intentions at heart. “I don’t need your help”/ “Get out of here” /”I’ll do it on my own” are the common phrases you will hear.

Having a network of people around you who are willing to help you, advise you, provide you with an extra option, who genuinely care about you is by no stretch of the imagination a disadvantage. If you have people like these in your life, even just one, count your blessings ! They hold together the ground on which you can built, stand and grow.

Cut them off and see what happens. Be your own Gediminas Tower, ready to crumble. Don’t alienate yourself ! Be your own Tower, and appreciate the trees that surround you for it is them that make the ground you stand on stable, and lastly, don’t forget that you are a tree at someone else’s cliff too!

I hope you have found this topic interesting and useful. What do you think about it? All feedback and comments are welcomed.

Informed Customers: How to Win!

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It is true that the landscape of sales has changed. Information on products and services are available for free online and most customers will go through an extensive research of these before even deciding to contact you. Sales people and marketers should be up to date and well read on their products or services, but inevitably you will encounter what we refer to as “Informed Customers”, and in some rare cases, more informed than you! If that comes to be the case, do not let it discourage you. Instead, see below the step by step approach on how to handle situations like these, and how to win:

  • Give them credit!
  • Let them talk (be patient)
  • Find common ground
  • Seal the deal

Start off by giving them credit for their information and knowledge. Don’t hesitate to even go one step further by admitting that you might not know as much as they do, with regards to the specific product or service. The true power of a good sales person is not in the knowledge of the product or service, but rather the ability to guide the discussion towards the desired direction. It’s simple, just say “I have seen you have done your homework”, and don’t be in a rush to answer back to them. You want to avoid having a who knows more discussion with an informed customer.

Everybody loves to share their knowledge and how much they have prepared for this. This is where you need to be patient. Let them do the talking, let them guide the discussion for a while. Jump in their monologue when you have a clear idea of how much information the customer has reference the actual product and pricing, and what is the actual need for it.

Do not antagonise them. These people have spent countless days and nights reviewing the specific products and services, and the last thing they want is for you to burst their bubble. Instead, you can complement that knowledge by adding some more information and monitor their response. Avoid discussion on areas you are not well informed about, and instead try to find common ground. Use sentences that will enable that agreeableness to occur, i.e. “Would you agree that… ” , “Wouldn’t it be fair to say that…”. And again see the response. If you are just repeating stuff that they already know, then more likely they will get on board with you.

The last step is to seal the deal. If you can manage to get through the first three steps and the customer is still following, then you can just get on with the pricing and details. Informed customers will know of a good deal when they see one, so there is no more reason to beat around the bush. Lay the deal out to them and allow for some little room for discussion. Most of the discussion has already taken place either way, so it is time to shake hands on it. What you are in essence doing, is allowing the customer to sell your product or service to themselves!

An area that you should as a sales person or marketer be vary wary of, is customers who are not interested in a transaction, but rather just want to shine in the spotlight for three seconds, also known as “Tyre Kickers”. These are the people that will literally waste your time, and try to contradict everything you say in no substantial or constructive manner. Do not be drawn into it. Simply walk away. Focus on the genuinely interested customers. Time is money ! (this is a topic I will be addressing in full in a future blog post)

I hope you have found this topic interesting and useful. What do you think about it? All feedback and comments are welcomed.

The First 100 FB Likes:

I have just over a week ago launched a new Facebook page, as an extension to this blog, and it has today reached 100 Likes. Is this a reason to celebrate? Or am I making a big deal out of nothing? Below is the “WHY” it is important to address this, and see for yourself what an impact this can have in multiple areas.

One of the main principles that must be held high for both professional and personal success, is that each milestone must be celebrated. Whether that milestone is something spectacular, or something minor, these are the little victories in life that help an individual or company move forward. It might not even be moving forward, but also to keep hanging on.

As said, you can reach any destination, as long as you do it “One step at a time” and it is always that first step which is the most important one. Some people have ideas, dreams, and hopes, but they never dare to take the first step. A dream will remain a dream, until you take that first step. Then a dream becomes a GOAL, and when you have a goal, it is a matter of time before reaching it !

For better or for worse, life is hard and difficult, and anybody who tells you otherwise haven’t lived. It comes with its ups and downs, the many losses and the few wins. This is why it is important for every little victory, every little step to be celebrated. And celebrate it with others. Celebrate their first steps too. People require so little motivation some times to pick themselves up and keep going.

This is my first step, and your support means the world. Step by step, let’s see how far we can get together. My goal is to be able to inform, and educate through my experiences in the fields of Marketing and Sales. It was a dream of mine, now it is my goal. What is yours? What’s your first step? Let’s celebrate your first milestone together!

I hope you found this topic interesting and useful. What do you think? All feedback and comments are welcomed

Online Offices:

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Let’s face it, in today’s world more people will visit your online showroom (website) than will ever walk through your doors! Make sure you are ready to make it a good experience for them, giving them the chance to be informed and able to engage with you as if they were right in front of you. Remember it takes seconds for a consumer to walk in and out of your online office.

Build your website on the following principles:
1. TIDY and CLEAR
2. EASY TO NAVIGATE (USER FRIENDLY)
3. USE THE 3 CLICK RULE
4. USE BAITS FOR GETTING USERS INFORMATION
5. MAKE EFFECTIVE USE OF SEO
6. KEEP IMPROVING AND UPDATING
(contact me if you need me to elaborate further on any of these principles)

All companies nowadays are relying entirely on their website for generating leads, making sales, or as a means of communications between the consumers and themselves. Once the website is up and running make sure everyone in your company is familiar with every page, every button, every option, every click.

Having said all of the above, the last and final thing to take notice will be discussed at a later blog post, and that is to be able to turn Leads into Sales.
This is the final piece of the puzzle to be able to get ahead, and keep going. Build yourself a team that will give you the best possible conversion rate of leads to sales, generating income for your organisation/company (read more on this topic in the upcoming article)…

I hope you have found this topic interesting and useful. What do you think about it? All feedback and comments are welcomed.

Sales People, Bad People!

Being in sales myself, I have had my fair share of being called “con-artist”, “cowboy”, and “bad person”. Needless to address all the adjectives fellow colleagues in other industries have been exposed to, the list is endless. Main accusation and notion around sales people is that they will go at any lengths to achieve that one sale, including lying, and making false promises. But are really sales people, bad people?

Sales professionals are far from it! They understand the concept of value beyond price, and will work with the customer in coming up with solutions that will fit their budget and satisfy their needs. Professionals in the field hold high the idea of win win scenarios. This means that the final deal should allow the customer to walk away as a winner, but at the same time not compromise the interests of the organisation. A customer who feels like a winner, will more likely be a repetitive customer, or will help repetitive sales.

Unfortunately, more often than anticipated, we as sales people find ourselves dealing with bad customers, people who think they are above everyone because the money is temporarily in their hands. In doing so, with arrogance, they will ignore any consultation or discussion on products or services, and in a lot of cases be rude,impolite, loud and demanding. Yet they will be the first to complaint the moment they feel that the product/service didn’t satisfy their needs or wasn’t as expected, and of course it’s the bad sales person’s fault.

Let’s get this clear! No sales person is responsible for the decisions you take, or the purchases you make. Life evolves around voluntary transactions between sellers and buyers, and at some stage, at some point in your life you were the seller of something. Whether it was selling a good/service or even yourself, i.e. through your CV, you have been the sales person at many cases.

Of course, at the end of the day I will be the first to say that sales people are not bad people, and that’s because I’m a sales man. But so are you! Does that make you a bad person?

I hope you have found this topic interesting and useful. What do you think about it? All feedback and comments are welcomed.