The Most Important Personal Asset


Obviously the real answer is common sense. But if you don’t have it already, you probably never will, and there’s nothing I can say here that’s going to change that.

Common sense aside, then, the most important asset in business is a sense of humor, an ability to laugh at yourself or the situation.

Laughter is the most potent, constructive force for diffusing business tension, and you want to be the one who controls it. If you can point out what is humorous or absurd about a situation or confrontation, can diffuse the tension by getting the other party to share your feeling, you will be guaranteed the upper hand. There are very few absolutes in business. This is one of them, and it will never fail.

A sense of humor creates one of the most favorable long-term impressions. A single humorous, self-effacing comment can immediately let someone know that you don’t take yourself too seriously, and that is the sort of thing that people remember.

It is also the best way to start a meeting. You don’t need to have them rolling in the aisles, but a mildly pleasant remark at the outset will create the right atmosphere for everything that follows. Humor is what brings back perspective, which, next to profits, is the easiest thing to lose in business.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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The Creative Selling Process


Although it may look easy, creative selling is not a simple task. Of course, some sales are made in a matter of minutes. But others, particularly for large organizational purchase, can take years to complete. Salespeople should follow a carefully planned process from start to finish.

Step 1: Prospecting: Prospecting is the process of finding and qualifying potential customers. This involves three activities:

  • Generating sales leads. Sales leads are names of individuals and organizations that might be likely prospects for the company’s products.
  • Identifying prospects. A prospect is a potential customer who indicates a need or a desire for the seller’s product.
  • Qualifying prospects. Not all prospects are worth investing sales time in. some may not have the authority to buy, and others won’t have enough money. The ones who do have both the authority and the available money are called qualified prospects.

Step 2: Preparing: With a list of hot prospects in hand, the salesperson’s next step is to prepare for the sales call. Without this preparation, the chances of success are greatly reduced. Preparation starts with creating a prospect profile, which includes the names of key people, their role in the decision-making process, and other relevant information such as the prospect’s buying needs, motive for buying, current suppliers, income/revenue level, and so on.

Next, the salesperson decides how to approach the prospect. Possible options for a first contact include sending a letter or cold calling in person or by telephone. For an existing customer, the salesperson can either drop by unannounced or call ahead for an appointment, which is generally preferred.

Before meeting with the prospect, the salesperson establishes specific objectives to achieve during the sales call. Depending on the situation, objectives can range anywhere from “getting the order today” to simply “convincing prospects top accept the company as a potential supplier.” Following that, the salesperson prepares the actual presentation, which can be as basic as a list of points to discuss or as elaborate as a product demonstration or multimedia presentation.

Step 3: Approaching the Prospect: Positive first impressions result from three elements. The first is an appropriate appearance—you wouldn’t wear blue jeans to call on a banker, and you probably wouldn’t wear a business suit to call on a farmer. Appearance also covers the things that represent you, including business cards, letters, and automobiles. Second, a salesperson’s attitude and behavior can make or break a sale. A salesperson should come across as professional, courteous, and considerate. Third, a salesperson’s opening lines should include a brief greeting and introduction, followed by a few carefully chosen words that get the prospect’s attention and generate interest. The best way to accomplish this is to focus on a benefit to the customer rather than on the product itself.

Step 4: Making the Presentation: the most critical step in the selling process is the presentation. It can take many forms, but its purpose never varies: to personally communicate a product message that will convince a prospect to buy. Most sellers use of two methods: The canned approach is a memorized presentation (easier for inexperienced sellers, but inefficient for complex products or for sellers who don’t know customer’s needs). The need satisfaction approach (now used by most professionals) identifies the customer’s needs and creates a presentation to specifically address them.

Step 5: Handling Objections: No matter how well a presentation is delivered, it doesn’t always conclude with an immediate offer that might move the prospect to buy. Often, the prospect will express various types of objections and concerns throughout the presentation. In fact, the absence of objections is often an indication that the prospect is not very interested in what the salesperson is selling. Many successful salespeople look at objections as a sign of the prospect’s interest and as an opportunity to develop new ideas that will strengthen future presentations.

Three basic approaches to overcoming objections include asking the prospect a question, giving a response to the objection, or telling the prospect that you will need to look into the matter and address it later.

Step 6: Closing: So far, you haven’t made a dime. You may have spent weeks or months—years in some cases—to bring the customer to this point, but you don’t make any money until the prospect decides to buy. This stage of the selling process, when you persuade the customer to place an order, is referred to as closing.

How should you ask for the order? Closing techniques are numerous; here are some of the more popular. The alternative proposal close asks the prospect to assumptive close, you simply proceed with processing the order, assuming that the prospect has already decided to buy. Another alternative is the silent close, in which you finish your presentation and sit quietly, waiting for the customer to respond with his or her buying decision. Finally, many salespeople prefer the direct close, where you just come right out and ask for the order.

These closing techniques might strike you as tricks, and in the hands of unethical salespeople, some closing approaches certainly can be. But the professional salesperson uses these techniques to make the selling process effective and efficient—not to trick people into buying when they aren’t ready.

Step 7: Following Up: Most salespeople depend on repeat sales, so it is important that they follow up on all sales and not ignore the customer once the first sale is made. During this follow-up stage of the selling process, you need to make sure that the product has been delivered properly and that the customer is satisfied. Inexperienced salespeople may avoid the follow-up stage because they fear facing an unhappy customer. However, an important part of a salesperson’s job is to ensure customer satisfaction and to build goodwill.

In order to improve the odds of keeping a satisfied customer after the sale, salespeople should remember to:

  • Handle complaints promptly and pleasantly
  • Maintain contact with customers
  • Keep serving the customers
  • Show appreciation.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Canvassing: Most Inexpensive Marketing


Canvassing can be the most inexpensive marketing method of all. In fact, it can be free, except for the time you devote to it. And if you’re just starting out, time is something you have a great deal of in your inventory. After all, canvassing is merely asking prospective customers for business. During a canvass, which the dictionary defines as “a soliciting of sales,” you should engage in three separate steps.

The first step, called the contact, is when you first meet your prospect. That first impression counts like crazy. So make your contact friendly, upbeat, customer-oriented, honest, and warm. Try to establish a relationship. You need not talk about business if you don’t want to. You can talk about matters personal, about the weather, about a current event—probably about your prospective customer

The second step of canvass is called the presentation. It usually takes longer than the other steps, yet it need take no longer than one minute. During the presentation, you outline the features of your offering and the benefits to be gained from buying from you. Some pro-canvassers say, “The more you tell, the more you sell.” If it is a home security system, your presentation might take fifteen minutes. If it is an offer to wash your prospect’s car, the presentation might take one minute or less.

The third step of a canvass is the most important part. It’s called the close, and it is that magical moment when you complete the sale. That happens when your prospect says, “Yes” or signs on the dotted line or reaches for his or her wallet or merely nods affirmatively. If you are a poor closer, it doesn’t really matter how good you are at the contact and the presentation. You’ve got to be a good closer to make canvassing work at all.

Before there were any other methods of marketing, canvassing existed. In fact, the very first sale in history probably occurred when one caveman asked another, “When to trade me an animal skin for this fruit I picked?” no advertising was necessary. No marketing plan, either. Life has become far better since then. But far more complicated, too.

If you think that canvassing is like door-to-door selling, you’re right only if you want to do it that way. You can canvass by going from door to door. You can do it in residential neighborhoods, and you can do it in commercial neighborhoods. Or, you can presell your canvass by first calling or writing the people you intend to canvass. You have a choice of telling them you’ll be coming around so that they’ll expect you sometime, or actually setting up an appointment. When that happens, it’s more like making a sales presentation than canvassing. For most, canvassing is something done with little or no advance warning. Sure, it helps if you advertise so that the prospective customers have heard of you when you come calling. But you don’t have to advertise. If you make a good contact, a crisp presentation, and a dynastic close, and if you are offering a good value, canvassing may be the only marketing tool you ever need.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Evaluate


Evaluation is intimidating. Often, managers are too busy to keep up with what people are doing and how well they are doing. And when managers don’t know what their people are doing, they can’t  evaluate accurately. As a result, they feel unable to support their impressions or comments about performance—and so they avoid the task.

But when selection and direction are done properly, evaluation becomes a logical, easy-to-implement process. If you know what your people are supposed to do and have assigned each of them specific tasks, responsibilities, and objectives with deadlines, then you have criteria against which to measure that individual’s performance. In this situation, evaluation becomes a simple matter of determining whether or not a person has met those goals, and how well.

Mangers often assume that if they select good people and direct them in what is expected, things will get done. They’re right. Things will get done, but how well they will get done and how long they will take are uncertain. Evaluation lets you determine how well something was done and whether it was done on time. In a sense, evaluation is like a traffic cop. You can post all the speed limit signs in the world, but they will be ignored unless people know that infractions will be discovered and fined.

This sounds logical, but it’s surprising how many managers postpone evaluation again and again while they focus on more pressing but ultimately less important duties. When evaluation is postponed, deadlines also slip, because employees begin to feel that timeliness and quality are not important. When performance slips, more responsibilities shift to the manager—who thus has even less time to direct and evaluate employees.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Talking about Signs


Think of signs in two ways: those that appeal to people outside of your place of business and those that appeal to people who are within the place where you do business. The first category consists of billboards, small signs on bulliten boards, window signs, store signs, banners, signs on trees, and poster-type signs. Category two is made up of interior signs, commonly called point-of-purchase, or point of sale signs.

 Whichever you use, or if you use both, be certain that your signs tie in as directly as possible with your advertising. Your ads may have made an unconscious impression on your potential customers, and your signs may awaken the memory of that advertising and result in a sale. Many people will patronize your business because of your ads. Your signs must be consistent with your advertising message and identity or those people will be confused. If the signs are in keeping with your overall creative strategy, consumers’ momentum to buy will be increased.

 Most exterior signs are there to remind, to create a tiny impulse, to implant thoughts a wee bit deeper, to sharpen an identity, to state a very brief message. As a rule, exterior signs should be no more than six words long. Naturally, some successful signs have more than six words, but not many. Probably the most successful of all have just one to three words.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Call People by Name


President Reagan often is referred to as the greatest communicator ever to serve as President. And for good reasons. He used to speak slowly in a well-modulated voice, looks directly in the person or people he is speaking to, remains calm under pressure and uses simple, easy-to-understand words. Mr Reagan employs many subtle but persuasive techniques in dealing with public. Very importantly, at news conferences which are typically a very difficult presidential task, Mr. Reagan would address reporters by name when accepting a question rather than just indicating with a hand motion which reporter might speak nest. It may seem like a small point, but his method was conducive to help create good relations with the press. Why? Because people cooperate better when they are recognized by name. being addressed by name I a sincere and deeply appreciated compliment. It tells a person, “You are important to me.”

 Lyndon Johnson, the Great “Persuader,” practiced remembering names, and Lyndon Johnson was number one “persuader president” of modern times. He was enormously effective in bringing opposing factions together to get legislation passed.

 Why was President Johnson so effective as a human relations engineer? He worked at it! Long before he succeeded Mr. Kennedy as President, he developed and practiced his own ten rules to make himself more effective in working with people.

 President Johnson’s system for how-to-win-influence-over-people appears below:

  1. Learn to remember names. Inefficiency at this point may include that your interest is not sufficiently outgoing.
  2. Be a comfortable person so there is no strain in being with you. Be an old shoe, old hat kind of individual.
  3. Acquire the quality of relaxed easy-going so that things do not ruffle you.
  4. Don’t be egoistical. Guard against the impression that you know it all.
  5. Cultivate the quality of being interesting so people will get something of value from their association with you.
  6. Study to get the “scratchy” elements out of your personality.
  7. Sincerely attempt to heal every misunderstanding you have had or now have. Drain off your grievances.
  8. Practice liking people until you learn to do so genuinely.
  9. Never miss an opportunity to say a word of congratulation upon anyone’s achievement, or express synpathy in sorrow or disappointment.
  10. Give spiritual strength to people, and they will give genuine affection to you.

 Every person has a name and as Dale Carnegie observed, a person’s name is the sweetest word in our language. People feel bigger and better when called by name because it is their most valuable possession. It gives them a sense of individuality – a feeling of being unique.

Hereare five guidelines for calling people by their names to win their cooperation:

  1. Pronounce the other person’s name correctly.
  2. In conversation, use the other person’s name often.
  3. Use nicknames only when you know they are preferred by the person.
  4. Use a person’s last name until familiarity is established.
  5. Spell the other person’s name correctly.

 “Do you know who I am?” The law of self-interest—the tremendous craving for self-identity—comes through in many little ways.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Communication, Business and You


Organizations bend over backward to see that communication both inside and outside the company are open, honest, and clear. Your ability to communicate increases productivity both yours and your organization’s. it shapes the impressions you make on your colleagues, employees, supervisors, investors, and customers. It allows you to perceive the needs of these stakeholders (the various groups you interact with), and it helps you respond to those needs. Whether you run your own business, work for an employer, invest in a company, buy or sell products, design computer chips, run for public office, or raise money for charities, your communication skills determine your success.

Good communication skills are vital because every member of an organization is a link in the information chain. The flow of information along that chain is a steady stream of messages, whether from inside the organization (staff meetings, progress reports, project proposals, research results, employee surveys, and persuasive interviews) or from outside the organization (loan applications, purchasing agreements, help-wanted ads, distribution contracts, product advertisements, and sales calls). Your ability to receive, evaluate, use, and pass on information affects your and your company’s effectiveness. 

Within the company, you and your co-workers use the information you obtain from one another and from outsiders to guide your activities. The work of the organization is divided into tasks and assigned to various organizational units, each reporting to a manager who directs and coordinates the effort. This division of labor and delegation of responsibility depends on the constant flow of information up, down, and across the organization. So by feeding information to your boss and peers, you help them do their jobs, and vice versa.

 If you are a manager, your day consists of a never-ending series of meetings, casual conversations, speaking engagements, and phone calls, interspersed with occasional periods set aside for reading or writing. From these sources, you cull important points and then pass them on to the right people. In turn, you rely on your employees to provide you with useful data and to interpret, transmit, and act on the messages you send them.

 If you are relatively a junior employee, you are likely to find yourself on the perimeter of the communication network. Oddly enough, this situation puts you in an important position in the information chain. Although span of influence may be limited, you are in a position to observe firsthand things that your supervisors and co-workers cannot see: a customer’s immediate reaction to a product display, a supplier’s momentary hesitation before agreeing to a delivery date, an odd whirring noise in a piece of equipment, or a slowdown in the flow of customers. These are the little gems of information that managers and co-workers need to do their jobs. If you don’t pass that information along, nobody will know about it—because nobody else knows. Such an exchange of information within an organization is called internal communication.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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