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15 Sad Truths Only Salespeople Can Understand

15 Sad Truths Only Salespeople Can Understand
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Cold calling? Trying to close a deal when the going is tough? Insane customers? If you are a salesperson, you know these scenarios are just a few of those that make up your nightmares. Customers are our bread and butter, but here are 15 things that, maybe, they just do not understand. Time for straight talking.

1. You know a bargain is irresistible but there is no need to riot.

It was an eye opener for me when shopping riots broke out on Black Friday, not in the USA but in London, UK! The rush for those discounts together with some stores opening at midnight led to scuffles. Police were called to quell 15 mini-riots. Now, pity the poor sales assistants as they have to deal with bargain hungry mobs every November.

2. You know the customer is always right, but . . .

You know that most times, the customer is always right. That’s the gospel. The reality is that 97% of people are sane, rational, and courteous. But what happens when a the small number of crazy persons starts displaying insanity to test your patience to its limits?

They also start to treat you as a doormat. This can degenerate into insults, threats of physical abuse and dire consequences if the client does not get immediate satisfaction, money back, apologies and so on.

I once read about a customer who was furious that her query posted on Saturday at midnight on the company’s Facebook page had not been answered. It is really tough being in the front line if you are in retail.

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3. You know all about the effort in putting on a happy face.

Having a happy face and smiling at the customers is expected. Problems arise when you have to start faking. The experts call this “emotional labor.” If a customer treats you badly, then you are going to pay a high price for trying to hide it by just smiling.

A Singapore Management University study showed that the people who had tried to fake it were liable to suffer from insomnia, anxiety and depression. This sort of emotional strain can be just as tiring as physical or mental work. Service with a smile is hard work.

4. You do not control everything.

This is the hardest part of being a salesperson as many people think we have been actively involved in stocking extra large sizes, or creating the returns policy or the length of a guarantee. We do not actually make the products we are selling. Yes, I have been taught to listen and empathize and I will try to help you solve the problems but there are certain limits.

5. You know I cannot offer you a discount.

If a customer tells me that they have seen exactly the same item at Wal-Mart with a lower price, are they really expecting me to start haggling? I am tempted to say that they should have gone there to shop, but I never do that!

6. You are not a babysitter.

If you work in retail, you may dread those family shopping outings where all the kids come along. As they wander down the aisles, the family breaks up. The kids are out of control or have simply vanished. That’s when the salesperson becomes a babysitter and has to then try and locate the parents. There may be tantrums when a parent finds them. Spanking, threatening and yelling all follow.

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7. You have to prepare for business-to-business cold calling.

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”- President Dwight D. Eisenhower

If you have received a cold call from me, you may think I am repeating a script. But, actually, I have read all about your company and know what kind of services you are looking for, and what your problems are. Just listen and give me a chance. Want to know a secret? I have read and studied Art Sobczak’s book called Smart Calling: Eliminate the Fear, Failure and Rejection From Cold Calling.

8. You do not want to be left in limbo.

When salespeople are told “I’ll think about it and get back to you,” over and over again, they know that this is a delaying tactic or an expression of non-interest. If it is the latter, just tell me and save me a lot of time and effort. I’ll get over it!

9. You had to learn the art of selling yourself.

How many customers realize that training in the actual selling process is almost non existent? You either have a natural talent for it or you acquire a few basic selling skills along the way. It is hard slog learning from failures especially when customers think selling skills are pretty obvious. If only they knew!

10. You know that every sale counts.

Most salespeople when selling to companies are relying on closing a sale in order to make their weekly quota of sales so that they get paid a decent, living wage. The next time a salesperson comes across as being insistent, just don’t think that their wages are going to be unaffected because, very often, they are.

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11. You have to face rejection and failure.

“I’m not judged by the number of times I fail but by the number of times I succeed, and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying.”- Tom Hopkins, author of Selling for Dummies.

Losing a sale after a lot of effort, phone calls and research can be a hard blow to a salesperson and yet it happens all the time. The sales manager wants results yet you feel that you should be getting a lot more support from her. The best solution is to see the humorous side, learn the lessons and resolve not be put off and strive for success.

12. You may have to put up with ignorance.

Often, difficult clients will make a sweeping statement about your profession or company. They may offend you by making totally unfounded and offensive remarks. A typical one is that accountants are just expensive calculators. This is just a reflection of his or her ignorance about the rather complex work that accountants do. The best tactic is to stay silent and reflect that they have rather limited experience of how things really work in today’s world.

13. You have to solve problems after the sale.

Let us imagine you are selling a product or service which will involve you in some after sales service or feedback. This will be an important part of the follow-up so you may hear complaints that deadlines are not met or that the product is not working.

14, You are crazy busy.

The sad fact is that you have only about 30% of your time to actually meet prospective customers as the rest of your time is spent in travelling and doing all the administrative work. You may have to make a persuasive presentation to groups of clients and there may be a lot of time spent in preparing it. The great challenge is to avoid getting into too much detail and being too long-winded. You would like to get more coaching but that rarely happens.

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15. You know that educating clients is much more effective.

There is no need to push our products’ benefits and features. The secret is to find out what is happening in the sector and how your new product will meet these needs. Educating your client is much more effective. Your product is different and can solve their problem.

How have you coped with the challenges involved in selling? Let us know in the comments.

Featured photo credit: Car Salesman/Lucy Woods via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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