Business People

Bring Your Sales A Game

I don’t know about you, but when I was first told that I needed to call on senior-level executives, I was terrified. What would I talk with them about? They were so far above me – so much smarter than me about things like finance, overall strategy…you name it. Yes, you do need to have a different conversation with these people.

A few years ago, when working with one of my best clients, I was told that I needed to meet with a hotshot young executive. When I heard his name, it struck a bell. I asked, “Is he about 27, with dark hair, good looking? Is he originally from Prince Rupert? And, did he play hockey?” The answer was yes, yes, and yes.

That’s when I knew that I knew this hotshot executive. I went to school with him. Suddenly, I realized how irrational my fear of selling to executives was. They were normal human beings too…people like you and me. Sure I had to have a different conversation with them, but I didn’t have to be scared. Remember, you’re selling to people – not a position. And you know how to talk with people!developing relationships with customers

Tradeshow

So Tell Me About Your Product

How should you respond when a prospect asks you to tell them about your stuff? Most of us get excited because we think they’re really interested in what we’re offering, but the truth is they’re really looking for a way to dismiss us.

Tip – if you talk about your stuff, you’ll be brushed off in moments!

So what should you do? Rather than try to give a quick overview, focus on a story – be prepared to share a real-live customer scenario. You’ll be much more successful if you’ve practiced it ahead of time too.

Once you’ve used your story to pique your prospect’s interest, conclude with, “That’s just one example of what we do. What’s most important is to find out if it makes sense for you to change.” Then, proceed to questions.sales-objection

Iced Coffee

Ways I Stay Motivated

Sometimes running a business, working full time, being a mom and having a life can all be a bit too much. This is why it’s so important for me to stay motivated all the time.

I’m often asked how I have the energy and focus on it – so I thought it might be useful to list out what keeps me going:

Daily gratefulness:

This is one where I find real power in. Being grateful for things in your life, really allows you to see just how awesome it is now. It is all well and good thinking you want x,y and z in the future – but you have to appreciate what you have now. Otherwise, how are you ever going to have the ability to appreciate the things you want, when they come? You’ll just be wanting more, more and more.

Go back to my goals:

To keep on track with my goals, I tend to go back to them regularly. I should be clear that I have life goals, which are broken down into smaller goals, this helps me work towards the bigger ones…these actionable steps are smaller and then build into the wider vision. Combining my life and business plans together means one helps me to work towards the other.

Pinterest:

If I am ever having a day where I really need some inspiration, I go back to my ideal life board, or my life inspiration board, to perk myself up and get some awesome quotes. It also allows me to see what I am working towards, which really helps!

Taking time off:

If you are to be the best version of yourself, then it is important to take time for yourself. I try and do this quite often, by having evenings, when I am the only one at home, to work and do things that are important for me. Spending time alone gives my mind the space to be able to think and work towards the bigger goal.

Meditate:

This is one I admittedly need to do more of, but when I do, it helps me to relax, recharge and feels like I’ve had a nap in just 10 minutes. You really don’t have to do it for more than that a day and it does help.

Drinking iced coffee:

I have a morning ritual of getting up at 6:00 am, burning candles and working on my business. The other part of this? Drinking iced coffee. There’s something so comforting knowing that I can take a break on whatever am working on, to go and make one. It breaks up my day in the loveliest of ways.

Hand Shake

Selling Through Conviction

What do you want more than anything when you walk into a meeting with a potential client? You want them to love your products/services, right? Of course we want the right clients, fun clients and clients that click with us, but at the end of the meeting, you want one thing more than anything else – to close the deal.

The close deal at the end of the meeting signifies something. It says that your client believes in you. It says that they trust you and that they want you more than any other company. That is a good feeling and we need to have those feelings often.

How do we have those feelings more often, or should I say, how do we get clients to pay us more often? How do we close deals and make it happen on a regular basis?

Answer: CONVICTION

If you are convinced about how good your products and services are, then your prospects (those who you want to become clients) will be convinced. If you are unsure of yourself, then your client will be unsure of you. You must have complete conviction about what you can do when you walk into a client meeting, and believe that you are capable.

There is something inspiring and engaging about someone who has complete confidence in their ability to do something and it should never smell of arrogance.

Confidence is not just about being a good business owner, it is really about how you feel about yourself.

Confidence comes from deep within you and is built by speaking truth into yourself through repetition.

If you need more confidence, then this is your action plan to becoming more confident and more convinced of your worth as a business owner.

1. Write down your goals on paper (I want to be more confident in my selling etc).

2. Read those goals out loud each morning when you wake up, and each night before you go to bed.

3. Believe that you will become that person that is able to achieve those goals.

4. Each time you doubt, replace that thought with one that is uplifting and positive and refuse to accept those negative thoughts.

This may sound too simple to work, but the truth is that once you are convinced in your own mind, you will convince others. You have to win the battle over your mind first, and then it will follow in your actions.

GirlBoss

Reinvent Yourself At Work

Reputation is important, especially in the workplace. I guarantee you can list at least three people you work with who you either don’t take seriously or don’t respect. On the other hand, I’m sure you can also name those individuals that the organization couldn’t live without. It’s easy to compile this list from your own viewpoint and experiences, but…

Have you ever wondered what your coworkers think of you?

Below are my top choices of ways to positively influence change in the eyes of others regarding your image in the workplace and some tips to help you start implementing change in your day-to-day interactions.

Keep Your Word. 

If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Write your to-do list at the beginning of each day. Then, make sure to update it as the day goes on. Have it handy while you take notes during a meeting. Any action items called out should be immediately transferred to your to-do list.

Tip: I like to add “completion dates” next to certain tasks so I can prioritize them. In sales, the biggest part of our job is follow-up. We go on all these meetings, make a ton of promises, and if we don’t do proper follow-up – we lose the opportunity (or even worse, the customer).

Be Responsive.

If you miss a call, make sure to call back in a timely manner. Do not make the person have to follow-up with you again. It’s better to send a quick response setting an expectation for when they can expect a real response, then not to respond at all.

Tip: Set a reminder on your calendar to call or e-mail someone back. I do this all the time and it’s a lifesaver. You can also use the “follow-up” flag on the actual e-mail to add it to your task list in outlook.

Be Prepared. 

Lack of preparation not only shows immaturity, but it also shows a lack of respect for the person you’re meeting with and the organization you’re representing. This is by far my biggest pet peeve. I say that only because I learned harshly from my own experiences early on in my career. Being in sales, there’s nothing more frustrating than setting up a meeting with one of my customers as a favour to a vendor or internal resource and they show up unprepared.

Tip: Schedule prep time on your calendar for the meeting. If you are presenting to a customer, schedule an internal prep call to review and get on the same page. Even if it’s a ten minute call, this will help you look like a rock star in front of the customer.

Dress To Impress. 

You’ve heard the term. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. If you have a great job already, dress the part. The way you dress says a lot about how you view yourself. If you want to be taken seriously, don’t show up with an untamed beard, dirty jeans, and a polo.

Tip: In sales, you dress for the customer. If the customer’s culture is suit and tie, you wear a suit and tie. If it’s jeans and a polo, you dress business casual.

Always Be On Time. 

There may be ten thousand excuses in the book, but none of them matter. Your coworkers don’t care and neither do your customers. It’s disrespectful, period. It shows the people you work with that their time isn’t as important as yours.

Tip: Wake up early before you have to officially start your day. Plan and prepare accordingly including traffic delays.

One last thing. Constructive criticism has helped me more than anything else in my career. If someone offers it, take it. Don’t take it as an insult. Take it as a special tool that’s being offered to you and use it to better yourself. The feedback from my mentors has drastically helped change my image at work.

Talking

This One Trait Could Be Holding You Back

Being in sales, I interact with a lot of people on a daily basis. Whether it’s customer meetings, business lunches, or conference calls. I spend a lot of time in conversation with various personality types. One trait I’ve noticed that seems to really hold people back is overtalking. Random babble and nervous chatter make you look unconfident and unprepared. People who do this don’t get invited back to meetings and typically don’t close a lot of deals. Why? Because they waste people’s time and derail meetings. Don’t ruin opportunities for yourself by overtalking. Pick up on the subtle signals people are giving you.

Ways to Avoid Nervous Chatter:

1.Make your point. Be clear and concise. Avoid filler words and filler sentences. If they don’t help make your point, they are unnecessary and distracting to the listener.

example: “I was thinking we could go to lunch on the tenth but I know you’re busy with that microsoft project so if that doesn’t work for you I can also do later that week or possibly the next Monday or we could just go somewhere quick and close to your office.”

instead: “Are you available for lunch on the tenth?” 

2.Have patience. Wait for the person to respond. Some people need to think and digest information before responding. Give them the time or you might miss their response by derailing the conversation.

3.Stop repeating yourself and others. Know your place and don’t waste people’s time by making them listen to you drag out a point that someone else in the room already made.

example: “So as Jim said we need to confirm our engineering team’s schedules because we have a lot of projects that just kicked off and availability that week might be limited…but we will just check and see and get back to you on that as soon as possible. I think Jim said he is going to be able to provide that information to me on Wednesday, so I will be able to get it to you Wednesday afternoon – is that what you said Jim?”

instead: “We will check engineer availability and get back to you Wednesday.”

Make your message clear and keep your call to action simple.

Stack Of Books

My Favourite Business Books

These career classics are reads that every one of us should have on our book shelf. Many of these favourite titles do double duty giving us advice for a great career and a great life.

How To Have A Good Day

If the old adage is true that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives, then Caroline Webb does us a major favour by letting us know how a few small tweaks to our daily behaviour can have a major impact on our life. As an economist, Webb takes an almost technical approach to having a good day and uses both neuroscience and psychology to explain and test her suggestions. Along the way, you’ll find it marvellously comforting that such an abstract idea can be broken down to a practically applicable science.

How to Have a Good Day

Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office

Think that avoiding office politics and asking permission to take on projects is the way to get ahead? Hold it right there, nice girl! Dr. Frankel tells us otherwise, and explains a distinct set of 130 behaviours that we learn as girls and that ultimately sabotage our career efforts as adults. You’ll find yourself bookmarking page after page in this easy read, which basically ends up functioning as your roadmap to effective self-assessment. Bottom line: Don’t let the little things we do get in our way of where we want to go.

Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office

The Go-Giver: A Little Story About A Powerful Business Idea

Told as a modern parable, Mann and Burg give us a powerful new take on a classic idea: Give and you will receive. The main character, Joe, is focused on closing a sale, but instead a fortuitous connection with a mentor connects him to a series of other successful people. They teach Joe how the laws of value, compensation, influence, authenticity, and receptivity will contribute to his own success. This reminder to put others’ interests ahead of our own is one that resonates for our lives, both inside and outside the office.

The Go-Giver

Thinking Fast And Slow

This book nearly begs to be read old school style, with a big highlighter and a notebook nearby to jot down little nuggets you’ll want to refer to again and again. As a world-renowned psychologist and Nobel Prize-winning economist, Kahneman expertly addresses the way we think about and make choices. He explores the two systems of our mind: The first that is fast, intuitive, and emotional and the second that is deliberate, logical, and slow. Once read, you’ll better understand your own biases and quickly catch yourself thinking about how you think.

Thinking Fast And Slow

Grit: The Power Of Passion And Perseverance

Grit explores how it’s actually passion and persistence that lead you to success, not necessarily intelligence alone.

Grit: The Power Of Passion

Public Speaking

Conquer Your Fear Of Public Speaking

Whether you’re normally pretty confident or simply the thought of getting up in front of a room full of people immediately inspires the need to breathe into a paper bag, I’m sure we’re all familiar with that sweaty-palmed, shaky-kneed feeling that crops up when we’re about to make a big speech or presentation.

Let’s face it, public speaking can be a little intimidating. Even the most calm, cool, and collected can get a little panicky. Luckily, there are a few things you can put into play to calm those butterflies and address the room with poise and confidence.

Plan Ahead

Talking in front of others can be anxiety inducing to begin with. But, doing so when you feel completely disorganized and unprepared? Well, that takes your nerves to a whole new level.

Planning ahead is key to making yourself seem calm and qualified in front of your audience. They can all tell if you’re up there just winging it—unless you’re ridiculously good at the whole improvisation thing.

So, whether it’s a speech or a presentation, make sure that you take the time to adequately prepare beforehand. Organize notes and talking points; lay out the general structure of what you want to say; think of possible audience questions and practice thoughtful responses. The equation is simple: The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel.

Practice

Practice makes perfect. No, that’s not just a sentiment your mom would utter to you during your middle school flute lessons or gymnastics classes—it actually holds some water. Practicing your public speaking skills is a surefire way to look pulled together in front of a crowd.

The idea of practice might conjure up images of you standing in front of your bathroom mirror using your hairbrush as a microphone. But it really doesn’t need to be anything complicated. Those talking points you set out while you were getting prepared? Use them to rehearse your whole speech or presentation all the way through—more than once.

In fact, run through your talk as many times as you need to in order to feel somewhat loose and comfortable with it. There’s nothing worse than a speaker who mumbles through her whole presentation with her eyes glued to note cards. And plenty of practice will help you avoid those common public speaking blunders.

Don’t Panic About Questions

You’ve rehearsed your speech until you’re almost blue in the face and you fly through it with relative ease when the day actually arrives. You feel an immediate sense of relief, but then you see a hand shoot up in the crowd. Someone has a question for you. Your stomach immediately drops into your shoes—you weren’t prepared for this.

I know that having audience members prod you for more information is the last thing you want, especially after you managed to survive your nerve-wracking speech. But first it’s important to remember that questions are truly a great sign. It means that your audience was actually listening and actively engaged in everything you had to say.

Once you’ve accepted that, move on to answering the question. Focus solely on the individual who asked it and think of it as having a one-on-one conversation with that person. Forget that you’re responding to the inquiry in front of a crowd of other people and zone in on providing a thoughtful response to just that person. It’ll help to remove some anxiety from the situation—and ultimately improve the quality of your answer.

Establish A Routine

That lucky pair of socks you always wear for a big event; the peanut butter sandwich you feel like you need to eat before a presentation; that special song you have to listen to when you feel unbearably nervous.

It’s easy to brush these quirks and routines off as simply foolish superstitions. But, routines are actually a really great way to deal with your nerves. They make you feel as if you have some control in a situation that’s already making your stomach do flips.

So why not establish one that can help calm you down before a public speaking engagement? Whether it’s a breathing exercise or a walk alone around the building, think of something that will help you deal with that all-too-familiar jittery and queasy feeling. If nothing else, it gives you some time to try to pull yourself together before you take the floor.

Speak Slow (Really Slow)

If you’ve ever heard your own frantic heartbeat pounding in your ears, you already know that your pulse quickens when you’re nervous. But, unfortunately, that’s not the only thing that kicks into overdrive. Most of us have the tendency to talk a mile per minute when we’re uneasy as well.

When you’ve spent so much time preparing, you want to ensure that your audience will actually be able to understand everything you’re saying. And, that’s going to be difficult if your nerves cause you to race through your entire presentation. You don’t want it to seem like someone’s pressing “fast forward” through your entire speech.

So, be conscious of the speed of your voice and make an effort to speak way slower than you feel like you should. Word to the wise: If speaking that slow feels weird and unnatural, you’re probably doing it right.

Be Mindful Of Nonverbal Cues

Of course, the words you’re saying are undoubtedly well-researched, informative, and important. So you’d hate to have those impressive insights overshadowed by incessant fidgeting, lip biting, and hair twirling. Sometimes what you’re not saying indicates more than the words that are actually coming out of your mouth.

Similar to how you need to pay careful attention to the speed of your words, you also need to be mindful of other nonverbal cues. Make eye contact with specific audience members, rather than scanning over the top of heads. It makes you appear more self-assured and engaged.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and make large gestures away from your body—rather than towards yourself. Don’t begin talking as you walk to your position. Instead, walk to exactly where you want to be, plant your feet, take a deep breath, and then get started. It’s an important moment to collect yourself and it also doesn’t make you appear as if you’re rushing to get through your presentation.

Finally, be conscious of not raising the pitch of your voice at the end of your sentences. It’s a habit that most women have—particularly when they’re nervous. And, you want to make it clear that you’re making statements—not asking questions.

Public speaking is definitely enough to rattle your nerves. I get cotton-mouthed at the thought of talking in front of a crowd. But you don’t want your anxiety to totally get in the way of giving a killer presentation.

Money

How Much Money Do You Make?

It’s pretty widely documented that many of us are uncomfortable talking about money, especially the details about how much we make. When this question arises, it’s important to think about who is doing the asking. There are plenty of ways to talk money while keeping your “number” discreet depending on the circumstances.

If you’re asked in an interview…

The real question here isn’t actually how much money you make, but how much money you’re asking to make at a new job. Many employers will ask this delicately by saying: “What are your salary requirements?” But you may still come across some stage of the interview process where they’ll lob across the table asking how much you’re making now. Don’t be lured into providing an exact number here—you are allowed to stay mum! Focus on how the compensation you want is aligned with the skills you bring to the table and that it is commensurate with increased responsibilities.

You want to be professional and tactful here too, so this is not the place to complain about your current salary. Responding in this situation might look something like: “My current compensation is tied to the responsibilities I have now, but I know that in the Project Manager role I’ll be managing more direct reports and be bringing five years of design experience to the position. Because that work looks very different from what I’m doing now, I’m seeking…” Not directly providing a number at this stage of the game is very common so don’t let the redirection make you uncomfortable!

If a work colleague is asking…

There is almost never a scenario when it’s in your best interest to disclose salary or bonuses to a work colleague. If a colleague asks how much you make, it’s completely appropriate to respond, “Why do you ask that?” This puts the responsibility on them to explain their motivation. Most of the time, a colleague is asking because they believe they are underpaid or are looking to negotiate their own salary. If they let you know they are researching for a raise, shift the conversation to helping them with negotiating tactics rather than sharing an actual number.

You might also suggest they reach out to an HR representative to get a true “average” for the grade of their position to more effectively inform their conversation. In this scenario it’s also perfectly reasonable to let people know you don’t discuss your personal compensation package. If it’s a group setting at the office, you might be best off using humour to diffuse the question: “A million over three years, isn’t that what we all make?”

If family is asking…

The motivation for this question from family members will vary and can be very personal. Sometimes parents who ask do so out of feeling excited and proud of your career accomplishments. Sharing with them other benefits of your job and opportunities will scratch that itch of them wanting to know about what you’ve achieved: “The salary was a strong market rate and I was offered a lot of great training opportunities coming up this fall.”

Family might also be asking if you’re lucky enough to have their assistance financing your education or something like a down payment on a home. The question of how much you are making is likely to come up when you are paying back this type of personal loan. At this point you probably want to begin to build additional privacy into your personal finances. An option here would be to reassure them that you are comfortable and capable of whatever monthly repayment amount you’ve agreed to, instead of disclosing your exact salary.

If your partner is asking…

This is when to go full disclosure. Being honest with your partner is one of the most important factors when discussing money with your significant other. At the point in a long-term relationship when you are planning financial goals and sharing a life together, your partner should be aware of the details of your personal income. This includes everything from how you earn your salary (is it a base salary or variable, dependent on sales and commissions?) to the stability of income over time. When your partner asks this question, it’s best answered when you have time to make it a thorough discussion.

If it comes up for the first time in a place where you don’t feel that’s possible, acknowledge the question’s importance by setting up a chat for another time: “Thanks for starting this discussion for us; I’m excited to talk more about our financial goals together. Can we spend some time discussing this Sunday after dinner?” The time to chat finances with your loved one is when you two are alone, not under time constraints, and have the emotional energy to devote to a productive discussion.

If friends are asking…

Your closest girlfriends should be a safe space to talk finances so this response can go a few different ways. Friends asking this question might have an interest in your industry or career and are hoping to get a sense of what their lifestyle could look like doing similar work. If you believe this the motivation, it’s best to still talk in ranges, saying something like, “Most people on my team make between $45,000 and $55,000 annually, but that can also be project dependent.” In this way, you’re providing a broad range, but there is flexibility in the response.

You also don’t have to give your exact salary to your friends to engage in honest money talk. Focusing on percentages—the percentage raise you received or lifestyle questions such as what percentage of your income you spend on rent—is another way to have productive salary conversations with girlfriends while still maintaining some privacy and discretion about personal finances.

Follow Up

Messaging And Follow Up

You scan through each and every sentence of a perfectly crafted email one final time and then hit “send.” Whether it was a job application, request for a meeting, or just a simple question you need answered, there’s now nothing left to do but wait for a reply.

Days tick by, and you’ve heard absolutely nothing. Understandably, you’re getting antsy for a response. But at the same time, you don’t want to seem like a total nag. So, what should you do?

Following up is always encouraged. However, there’s a fine line between being persistent and being a pest.

Be Realistic With Your Expectations 

We’re all constantly connected today. And, while that’s definitely helped make life more convenient, it’s also warped our perceptions of what a reasonable response time is.

So before ever drafting a follow-up email, it’s important to pause first to think about your expectations. That message you sent days—or even a week—ago that’s still awaiting a response? You can check in on it without seeming overly eager. But, if you contacted someone mere hours ago and are shocked that he or she hasn’t gotten back to you yet? Well, you’re better off practicing a little patience and keeping that follow-up in “draft” for now.

Be Polite

It can be frustrating to feel as though you constantly need to chase people down in order to get what you need. Believe me, I’ve been there far more times than I care to admit. However, no matter how irritated you become, you shouldn’t let any of that hostility creep into your follow-up message.

That means no snide remarks like, “I still haven’t heard anything from you,” or blatantly aggressive comments like, “I don’t understand why it’s taking you so long to get back to me about this.”

Most of us don’t respond well to anger and finger pointing. So, even if it manages to get you a reply, it likely won’t be one that you like. So make an effort to be overly polite. And remember the the old saying: “You catch more flies with honey.”

Explain Your Reasoning 

We all get busy. And in those moments when it feels like your to-do list is out to get you, it’s tough to think of anyone’s workload besides your own. This is why it’s important to remind the recipient of why you’re following up—why exactly is their response needed?

Of course, this explanation will vary depending on the specific item you’re checking in on. But, for the sake of simplicity, here’s an example. I often have to circle back with potential clients to see if they’d like to move forward with a discussed project. They can be notoriously slow on responding with a decision, so often a line of my follow-up email looks like this:

Please let me know whether you’d like to move forward with the project as discussed. Your firm answer will allow me to map out my workload for the coming weeks.

This is a gentle assertion that my own schedule is hinging on their response. Oftentimes, being reminded that they aren’t operating in a vacuum is enough to inspire people to fire off a quick reply.

Switch Things Up

We all rely heavily on email. But, it’s definitely not the sole form of communication that exists. So if you haven’t had success with the written word, why not try a different method? No, you don’t need to send smoke signals or carrier pigeons. However, if you have a phone number for the person, why not give a phone call a try?

Of course, you shouldn’t plan to bombard someone with an endless stream of emails and calls—that’s how you develop a reputation as a pest. However, if you’ve sent two messages and have yet to hear something, sometimes connecting in a more personal manner (such as via the phone) can get you the response you need.

If you’d rather stick to email? You can switch things up there too. If you sent your previous email in the morning, try sending your second follow-up in the afternoon this time around. Sometimes your key to success is catching someone when they’re not absolutely swamped.

Set A Firm Deadline

There’s nothing that lights a fire quite like an approaching deadline. And while including a firm end date in your follow up emails might seem a little direct and brash, it’s usually effective.

Why? Well, it puts the ball back in your court and makes your expectation clear to the recipient. It illustrates that if you don’t hear back by the specified date, you’re moving on.

What does this look like in practice? Let’s continue with the message I used with a hypothetical client above. I’d just tack a simple line like this onto the end:

If I haven’t heard from you by the end of this week, I’ll assume you’ve gone a different direction.

Whether you’re waiting on an answer from a client, a potential employer, or a co-worker, setting this firm deadline ensures you’re both on the same page—which is key for avoiding any further problems or miscommunication.

Know When It’s Time To Call It Quits

The most important thing about using a deadline in your follow-up emails? Sticking to it. You don’t want to set an end date for your recipient, and then continue to contact them about the issue. Then your words and expectations will hold no merit. Why should they ever take you seriously?

There comes a certain point when it’s clear you’re just not going to hear back from a person. So let go and move on. If you continue to pester someone, even after they’ve repeatedly (and blatantly) ignored you, you’ll only annoy the recipient and harm your own reputation in the process.

There’s no denying it—not hearing back from someone can be annoying, irritating, and even stifle your own productivity. There’s nothing wrong with following up in order to get your hands on the information you need. However, you want to do so in a way that shows you’re persistent and not a pest.