Two people shaking hands in a meeting on closing the deal

Boost sales without being pushy

How to boost sales without being pushy?

The word “SALES” has got a lot of negative connotations because of either amateur or unethical salespeople who use pressure and manipulation techniques to sell you poor quality products and services that you either don’t need or won’t satisfy your needs. Hence, when you hear the word “SALES”, most people immediately think of door-to-door or insurance salesmen or those telemarketers.

And this rather unfriendly image of a salesperson causes many new entrepreneurs and business owners to avoid selling at any cost which in turn stops the business from growing. Because the only way to grow the business is by improving sales. So here in this article, I present a rather unconventional understanding of sales which will help you boost sales without being pushy. Please note that this article isn’t about the whole conversion funnel or about having the first one thousand true fans, it isn’t about generating leads but about the human and psychological aspect of actually following the leads and closing the sales.

Use the “SALES” Framework to Boost Sales Without Being Pushy!

To help you boost your sales I have created this framework by turning the word SALES into a mnemonic device.

S = See

On the surface level, it just means seeing the client. Follow up on the leads because despite the popular belief having a good product or service is not enough to close sales. Things don’t sell on their own, that’s why companies spend billions of dollars on getting people’s attention.

They spend on everything from billboard and shelf space to Google and Facebook ads everything just to get the eyeballs. Let’s face it if you are out of sight, you are out of mind. So why would you not try to retain and convert the attention you have already got?

However, there’s a deeper connotation to “seeing” viz. perception. Perceive the client’s situation what difficulties are they facing? or What amenities are they looking for? And what product or service does your company offer that could satisfy their needs or solve their problems? You should also try to understand what are they shopping for, are they shopping for the price? or are they shopping for the best quality? No point trying to sell a Mercedes to someone looking to buy a Prius.

A = Ask

Don’t assume, Ask! Validate your perception. Probe deeper to understand the problem better. You can use the “5Why?” Technique to arrive at the root cause of the problem, if you don’t know what that is you can read more about it in the article TURN PROBLEM INTO BUSINESS WITH THIS 5 STEP PROCESS. You can even ask them what is their most important decision making factor, is it the price? are they looking for someone with a great track record? etc.

L = Listen

Listen Carefully, Note down, repeat occasionally, so they know you’re really listening. Never interrupt the client while they are speaking, this breaks their flow and they might forget some crucial point. Let them speak. The more they open up the better your understanding of the problem.

E = Empathise

Now as you have the whole picture, empathise, and try putting yourself in their shoes. Do you really think you have the right product for them? If not can you recommend your friend who works in sales for another company that might have a product that’s better for the client? This would not just improve your friendship but would also help build a lifelong relationship with the client. Now they see you as a person of honour and values. Might even feel a little bit indebted for suggesting the right product even at the loss of your commissions, might even get you some unexpected leads. And when a lead comes with a recommendation is heaps easier to close the deal

S = Serve

Propose a solution, this also means closing the deal. After you summarise the whole thing and if the client agrees that you have understood the problem correctly. Then you can say something like “From what I understand this issue is causing you £10,000 in lost revenue? If that’s correct then if I send you a proposal worth £1500 then would you be willing to close the deal before this weekend?”. A question like that summarises everything and brings everything into the right context, also putting the client in the decision making state. And once he says yes to this and you send a sensible proposal you are 99% done. All that’s left is to do is deliver the product/service as promised.

If you like the article, share it with your family and friends so they can benefit from it too. After all, sharing is caring ;).

How to build an Authentic Brand? Don't know where to start Branding? Start Here! Cold Hard Truth Nobody talks about!

How to build an Authentic Brand? Don’t know where to start Branding? Start Here! Cold Hard Truth Nobody talks about!

Your ‘Brand’ is not your logo, colour palette, visual identity, products and services, trademarks, patents, shelf space, billboards, packaging etc. but it is every possible interaction you could have with your potential and existing customers/stakeholders and how you make them feel in each of those from smallest to greatest. Your brand is the sum total of all the experiences, perceptions, expectations, memories and stories they associate with your business and hence branding is how you influence the above.

“People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

— Maya Angelou.

A lot of so-called Branding Experts would tell you to start branding by “Identifying your audience” but that’s not how you build a genuine and memorable brand. All true things come from within, from an inner reflection and so does a brand that makes a difference to the world! Hence I insist you start with honesty, sincerity, authenticity and self-reflection! How you perceive yourself in your head/s corresponds directly to how you represent yourself in the world!

Don’t be Freaking Neutral!

A brand isn’t supposed to be neutral. It isn’t supposed to be altruistic but it’s definitely some-truistic. It’s definitely about providing value but it is much more than that. It is about caring for some “issue”, representing some “ideal”, serving some “people” very very deeply like no one else can!

How to build an Authentic Brand? Don't know where to start Branding? Start Here! Cold Hard Truth Nobody talks about!

“If no one hates it, no one really loves it.”

– Jessica Walsh

Don’t be a people pleaser, don’t be distracted by ways to make a quick buck or by trying to capitalise on recent trends and whatever you do but don’t be just another commodity. Discover your personality, Distinguish yourself, Stand out from the crowd, and find something you genuinely care about!

Ask These Questions:

  1. Why is this important to me/us?
  2. What makes this particular pain point more important than the rest?
  3. Am I really passionate about this?
  4. Do I really care about serving this particular group of people or it’s just another payday?
  5. How does this business enterprise contribute to the greater good?
  6. Some personal questions like: Am I a Windows person or a Mac person? Do I like to work in a sunlit office with bright colours or in a dark room with cool neon lights? If you’re a very “hip” individual then the last thing you want to do is work with someone super corporate!

Don’t be neutral! Nobody really loves elevator music! They can tolerate it but they don’t identify with it, they don’t dance, laugh or cry to it. It’s just another background noise!

Branding Starts with Authenticity — Be a Unicorn

And although this intention is intangible when a company communicates this intention with clarity and sincerity in every single possible interaction and decision it makes, the XYZ company is now a brand. Now people start identifying with it, they have stories and expectations.

For example, if I told you Apple is going to come up with a series of deodorants it is not difficult to have some anticipation in mind, some vision of how it would be packaged or who would it be for, you could immediately feel something which is quite abstract yet very real whereas if I told you Unilever is going to come up with a new laptop, you have no freaking idea what it’s gonna be like, you have no expectations because Apple has a brand, Unilever has a logo, billboards, adverts and shelf spaces.

So then the easiest way to start establishing yourself as a brand is by being Authentic.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

― Brene Brown

Authenticity will take your Brand to places no technology, funnels or algorithms can.

Being authentic requires acceptance of vulnerability, transparency and integrity. Being authentic makes us fearless, it keeps us going when everyone else stops.

Authenticity requires no pretence.

After all, we can fake genuine care and concern only for so long. If you ever feel tempted to be inauthentic, think of those politicians you despise and you’ll be back on track.

Authenticity makes the Brand Integral and Genuine.

In this day and age, it only takes one viral video from a dissatisfied customer and employee to unmask one and sink the business.

What are your thoughts on branding and being Authentic? Let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed the post then do share it with your fellow entrepreneurs and loved ones, after all, sharing is caring.

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What is 5S? (or 6S?) Become a Ninja at organising with this Japanese Methodology

Where there is no Standard there can be no Continuous Improvement.

Taiichi Ohno

The Five S (5S) methodology is a tactical framework used in Lean Organisations to organise the workplace be it a desk drawer or the whole production floor. The goal is to have even something as mundane as a paper clip organised as per the 5S. And it’s not limited to the organisation of physical objects but can be equally applied to digital assets. This framework emerged as an integral part of the Toyota Production System post World War II.

Lean manufacturing involves the use of many tools … 5S is considered a foundational part of the Toyota Production System because until the workplace is in a clean, organized state, achieving consistently good results is difficult. A messy, cluttered space can lead to mistakes, slowdowns in production, and even accidents, all of which interrupt operations and negatively impact a company.

5stoday.com

5S consists of 5 Japanese Words:

1. 整理(せいり、Seiri)Sort

Throw away superfluous things (put down seldom used ones,…)

2. 整頓(せいとん、Seiton)Set in order.

Every tool must have its designed place and be returned to that place after use.

3. 清掃(せいそう、Seisou) Sweep/Shine.

Clean, clean and clean.

4. 清潔(せいけつ、Seiketsu)Standardize.

If you make any change in the workplace, make sure it is easy to follow by making a standard, or rule.

5. 躾(しつけ、Shitsuke) Sustain.

Build a culture of sustainable change.

Safety the 6th S

As 5S went to the west the 6th S of Safety was added. to the standard 5S methodology. This essential step of 6S focuses on identifying hazards and setting preventive controls to keep workers safe during work operations and ensure that the work environment meets required safety standards.

5 S Example
Source: J. BERENGUERES’ THE BROWN BOOK OF DESIGN THINKING

My Personal Experience with 5S

Standards should not be forced down from above but rather set by the production workers themselves.

Taiichi Ohno

This is one of the most important points. A few years back when I was working on the production floor, there was a cabinet in our office for Personal Protection Equipment. My predecessor organised it by type. So we had gloves with gloves, masks with masks etc. But when that responsibility was handed over to me I quickly realised that it wasn’t the best way, either the production demands had changed or my predecessor didn’t notice it, whatever the reason but I saw that there was more frequent demand for particular types of masks, gloves and other protective gear and less demand for others.

Due to that, the machine operators had to frequently kneel (or bend) down or move across different shelves to get their gear for the day, sometimes twice a day (before and after lunch break), since much of it was disposable. Also frequent kneeling down or bending down can lead to hazards due to unnatural positions the body has to take and obscurity could cause accidents. For example, someone might not see the leg of the operator kneeling down (since his body is covered behind the doors of the cabinet) and could accidentally trip over it.

Hence I decided to reorganise it as per the demand, with things in the highest demand being on the topmost shelf and so on. And it made the whole thing a lot quicker, safer and more efficient. It further helped us monitor the PPE stock better. We could reorder the high demand items more frequently and there was never a day that operator didn’t have the protection he needed.

I am not sharing this to claim “Look! I am so smart!” but because this proves Taiichi Ohno’s point and also teaches us that once something is standardised is not something set in stone forever but it only serves as a basis for continuous improvement as stated in the quote at the beginning of this article.

DONT WORRY BE CRAPPY: How to use MVP to build successful products!

DONT WORRY BE CRAPPY: How to use MVP to build successful products!

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day, But They Were Laying Bricks Every Hour.

Design is a highly iterative process, you really can’t plan it because it’s not linear, it evolves through each trial, failure, customer input, ideation, iteration, challenge etc. it’s like jazz, you can’t set the design process into stone because it’s all about the live improvisation in response to everything that goes on around it. Hence it’s always a good idea to not design something completely isolated from the environment, from the end-user because good design feeds off the consumer input as much as a jazz performer feeds off the energy in the room.

I’ve borrowed the title of the post from Guy Kawasaki, evangelist, author, speaker and one of the original Apple employees responsible for marketing the line of Macintosh computers in 1984.

The first step in launching a company is not to fire up Word, PowerPoint, or Excel. There’s a time for using these applications, but it’s not now. Instead, your next step is to build a prototype of your product and get it to customers. I call this, “Don’t worry, be crappy”—inspired by Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Guy Kawasaki

Eric Ries, the author of The Lean Startup, calls this the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Ries explains the MVP concept in this way:

“It is not necessarily the smallest product imaginable, though; it is simply the fastest way to get through the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop with the minimum amount of effort. . . . The goal of the MVP is to begin the process, not end it.”

Kawasaki adds two words to MVP and transforms it to MVVVP: Minimum Viable Valuable Validating Product.

First, the product can be viable—able to get through the feedback loop and make money—but that’s not enough. He says: “It should also be valuable in that it jumps curves, makes meaning and changes the world. Let’s aim high!”

Second, the product should also validate the vision of your startup. Otherwise, you may have a viable and valuable product (which is good) but not necessarily one that validates the big picture of what you’re trying to achieve.

But this is not really a new concept. It goes back to Walter A. Shewhart and W. Edwards Deming. In fact, Ries’s Build-Measure-Learn is just a variation Shewhart or Deming cycle called PDSA or PDCA which transformed Japanese Manufacturing post World War II. PDSA is a loop of 4 phases: Plan, Do, Check/Study and Act.

1. Plan = Think of one potential improvement

2. Do = Try it

3. Study= Measure and study the “effects” of change

4. Act = Adjust. Evaluate. Fully implement the proposed change OR discard the change.

5. Go to step 1 and repeat the cycle.

Get Unstuck! Seek Progress! Not Perfection!

Whether you call it BML or PDSA, we are essentially talking about a problem-solving process intended to drive continuous improvement in a Lean Organisation that truly improves the problem-solving abilities of the practitioners and helps in cultivating a learning and experimental mindset which allows the practitioners to see the problem as a learning opportunity and solution as a hypothesis to be tested and validated. If there’s no interest in the solution then the start-up can “pivot” by changing one or more hypotheses and come to a better solution.

It also helps the team get the ball rolling and continuously learn and improve instead of waiting for a perfect or ideal solution which is usually delayed hence rendered useless in a constantly changing market and user needs.

Kawasaki gives us an example:

“For example, the first iPod was not only a viable product (early to market and profitable); it was also valuable (the first way to legally and conveniently buy music for a handy device) and validating (people wanted elegant consumer devices and Apple could transcend selling only computers and peripherals).
NOTE WELL: this is not permission to ship a piece of crap. Here’s a good test: Imagine your product is a new car. Would you let your kids ride in it? If you don’t have kids, then your golden retriever.”

The right and wrong way to build an MVP (Courtesy: Fast Monkeys)

So if you’re a designer or entrepreneur don’t work about being perfect before showing or shipping the product, just make it good enough, test, listen to feedback, learn, and improvise on the go.

We need more Leaders. Management is NOT Leadership

We need more Leaders. Management is NOT Leadership

Leadership is a choice. It’s not a rank, it’s a choice. I know many people who are at the top of their organization who have authority. We have to do what they say because they have authority over us. But they’re not leaders. We wouldn’t follow them. They may be at the top of the company but they’re not leaders.

Simon Sinek

We need more Leaders and management is NOT Leadership. When I hear the word Management it sort of reminds me of Charlie Chaplin’s classic movie”Modern Times”, maybe because of my experience on the production floor but also because over the years what I have seen being done in the name of management is a massive “Mismanagement”.

Now coming back to the topic. Management is about manipulating the resources in the right way to get a known job done. Restaurant owners hire managers, Celebrities have managers, McDonald’s franchises hire Managers too. Managers know exactly what they need to deliver, the process is already well established and standardised and they are given resources to do it at a low cost. Managers manage a process they’ve seen before, and they react to the outside world, striving to make that process as fast and as cheap as possible.

Here’s a scene from Modern Times (1936)

A thesaurus may suggest that the best synonym for leadership is management. Maybe it used to be but it no longer is. Leadership is not management. Leadership is all about, bringing about a change that you believe in. Leaders create a cause and causes make things happen. Leaders have followers. Managers have employees. Managers make widgets. Leaders make a change.

Why do we need a Change? Isn’t it scary? No, It’s scary to not change. So here we are. We live in a world where we have the power to make things happen, the ability to do work we believe in, and the marketplace is begging us to be unique, remarkable, to be a unicorn. And yet, we are stuck. Stuck following archaic rules. Even in our personal lives, we have to obey archaic laws: Go to school. Get a Job. Get Married. Have Children. Retire. Wait for death. But it doesn’t stop there we are stuck in industries that not only avoid change but actively fight it. Stuck in fear of what our parents, neighbours, society and boss will say, designers are stuck too, we design stuff that’s not sustainable and it’s destroying the planet for the sake of industrial greed, bankers are stuck and shackled to satisfy the Wall Street.

We are stuck because we’re afraid we’ll get into trouble. Most of all, we’re stuck acting like managers or employees, instead of like the leaders we could become. We resemble a factory instead of a community. That’s one more reason why this whole topic reminds me of Modern Times. The Fear of change in a mega factory is appropriate where standardisation is the key to efficiency and synchronicity and that saves the day. But again what does Darvin say about those who don’t evolve? Let me whisper it to you: they perish”. Today the fear of change has become our enemy; it’s now the thing standing in the way.

“How was your day?” is a question that matters a lot more than it seems. It turns out that the people who like their jobs the most are also the ones who are doing the best work, making the greatest impact, and changing the most. Changing the way they see the world, sure, but also changing the world. By challenging the status quo, a cadre of heretics is discovering that one person, just one, can make a huge difference.

Seth Godin

Leadership is about belief in an idea and in creating a cause and a community around it. Do you believe in what you do? Every freaking day? It turns out that belief happens to be a brilliant strategy. A community feeds on the beliefs, persona and the standard the leader sets and expresses for himself in his thoughts, words and deeds. He has nothing else. He doesn’t pay someone to follow him. He doesn’t have the sceptre of threat that the manager exploits.

This global pandemic has shown to us three very important things:

1. Many people are starting to realize that they work a lot, often without any job security and benefits and that working on stuff they believe in (and making things happen) is much more satisfying than just getting a paycheck and waiting to get fired (or die).

2. Many organizations have discovered that the factory-centric model of producing goods and services is not nearly as profitable as it used to be. Furthermore treating employees like emotionless robots is not going to work anymore.

After the Great Resignation in the USA, where 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August 2021, across an array of industries, according to a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, tells TIME. “[Employees] don’t want to return to backbreaking or boring, low wage, sh-t jobs. Workers are burned out. They’re fed up. They’re fried. In the wake of so much hardship and illness and death during the past year, they’re not going to take it anymore.”

3. Many consumers have decided to spend their money buying things that aren’t mass-produced commodities, to support the producers, creators and issues they care about, to spend their time and money on fashion, on stories, on things that matter to them, and on things, they believe in.

It’s simple: there are tribes everywhere now, inside and outside of organizations, in public and in private, in nonprofits, in classrooms, across the planet. Every one of these tribes is yearning for leadership and connection. This is an opportunity for you—an opportunity to find or assemble a tribe and lead it. The question isn’t, Is it possible for me to do that? Now, the question is, Will I choose to do it?

Seth Godin

The boom in the usage of social media channels, combined with the increased leverage of individuals within organizations as well as within society, makes it possible for just about anyone to influence just about everything. Everyone can be a leader. Everyone can lead someone with their example, stories, experiences, products, humour, conduct, hobbies, art, interests etc. This means that anyone who wants to make a difference, can! Without leaders, there are no followers. You’re a leader! We need you! And if you like, you can start leading by sharing this article with someone you think could benefit from it. Namaste 🙏.

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6 Management Myths & Alternate Maxims by Jeanne Ledika

These Six Management Myths to Avoid (and Six Alternate Maxims to Consider) are the courtesy of Jeanne Ledika of Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. These are classic management adages and tenets which don’t work anymore because things are so dynamic these days and their modern alternatives. I first read them in a free pdf by Darden Executive education but the pdf is no longer available (wasn’t the last time I checked) and these maxims are just too precious to be buried under the currents of time and change. So I am sharing them here.

Myth 1: Think big.

Better maxim 1: Be willing to start small — but with a focus on meeting genuine human needs.

Pressure will always exist to be sure an opportunity is big enough, but most really big solutions began small and built momentum. When the Internet was still new, how seriously would you have taken eBay or PayPal? In an earlier era, FedEx seemed tailored for a niche market. To seize growth opportunities, starting small and finding a deep, underlying human need with which to connect is best.

Myth 2: Be bold and decisive.

Better maxim 2: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket — always explore multiple options.

In the past, business cultures were dominated by competition metaphors (those related to sports and war being the most popular). During the 1980s and 1990s, mergers and acquisitions lent themselves to conquest language. Organic growth, by contrast, requires a lot of nurturing, intuition and a tolerance for uncertainty

Myth 3: Don’t ask a question to which you don’t know the answer.

Better maxim 3: Be willing to start in the unknown and learn.

Pressure will always exist to be sure an opportunity is big enough, but most really big solutions began small and built momentum. When the Internet was still new, how seriously would you have taken eBay or PayPal?

Myth 4: Measure twice, cut once.

Better maxim 4: Place small bets fast.

This one works fine in an operations setting, but when the goal is creating an as-yet-unseen future, there isn’t much to measure. And spending time trying to measure the unmeasurable offers temporary comfort but does little to reduce risk.

Myth 5: Sell your solution. If you don’t believe in it, no one will.

Better maxim 5: Choose a worthwhile customer problem, and consider it a hypothesis to be.

When you are trying to create the future, knowing when you have it right is difficult. We think being skeptical of your solution is fine — what you should be certain of is that you’ve focused on a worthy problem. You’ll iterate your way to a workable solution in due time.

Myth 6: If the idea is good, the money will follow.

Better maxim 6: Provide seed funding to the right people and problems, and the growth will follow.

Managers often look at unfunded ideas with disdain, confident that if the idea were good, it would have attracted money on its own merits. The truth about ideas is that we don’t know if they are good; only customers know that. Gmail sounds absurd: free email in exchange for letting a software bot read your personal messages and serve ads tailored to your apparent interests. Who would have put money behind that? The answer, of course, is Google.

Source: The Essential Guide to Design Thinking by Professor Jeanne Liedtka. Darden Executive education. If you like this post, make sure you leave a heart (like), comment and share with your loved ones so they can benefit from this too. Sharing is Caring 🤗❤️.