Does Selling Exist Anymore?

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I’ve been in sales for a long time, so much so that I believe we are all in sales; I’ve written a previous blog about that. I love sales probably because as a consumer I love buying! I love a great sale, when the salesperson really listens to what you want and wows you with their level of attentiveness and personalised service.

I detest bad sales.

And unfortunately, over the years, more of us experience bad sales than good sales. So it’s no surprise that so many consumers view salespeople as possessing some very unsavoury characteristics. Most of us see sales people as pushy, privacy-invaders, cold callers, or those who will go to any lengths to close the sale.

Companies seek to attract and retain people who are ‘hungry’ for the sale, driven, ambitious, entrepreneurial. These are not bad characteristics – I admire them in people – and when combined with someone who is an excellent listener, make for amazing sales potential.

Unfortunately, whilst sales techniques have developed over the years, they perhaps haven’t changed and developed as much as the consumer base has.

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Happy Endings!

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Everyone wants a fairytale-style happy ending, right? Everything turns out as planned, for the best, everyone’s happy, dreams are achieved. Movies are great at creating the perfect happy ending, against all odds, where it all just “comes together” in the closing scene.

In real life we too want happy endings, our dreams achieved, challenges overcome, happiness secured. However, real life is not the same as a movie; we have two big stumbling blocks:

How do you define happy?

When exactly is the ending?

Happiness tends to be far more complicated and elusive in real life than in a movie. Nothing is ever really perfect; there will always be some lingering issue or concern. The stuff the characters presumably have to deal after the credits roll and the movie theatre gets cleaned up ready for the next showing.

And what is an ending in our lives? The end of the week, the month, the holiday, the wedding, the big event…?

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The Most Valuable Thing On The Planet

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What is the most valuable thing on the planet?

When we talk about value, we have a tendency to attach a monetary value; what is something worth in Dollars, Pounds, Euros, Yen? Most things, even your happiness, can be attached to an economic value. And, because we live in an economic world, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without money.

So what is the most expensive thing money could buy? At the moment it’s probably the company Apple, with a market value of approximately half a trillion dollars. Just pause and consider that: five hundred billion dollars. It is an amount of money that is almost unimaginable.

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What Do You Really Care About?

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We are often told what we should care about. We are regularly force-fed an agenda of what is important to us and what isn’t. We are told that the economy is something we should all care about, and be fearful about, and be protective of.

Whilst the 2008 economic crisis was very serious, we also talked ourselves into it. In the six months before the recession hit, the news reported that we were heading for a recession; as a result people stopped spending, people stopped planning holidays and purchasing cars, on the basis that there was a recession coming.

When it did hit, it hit us very hard. And lo and behold, the news reported that it hit us harder than expected because people had stopped spending, stopped planning holidays and purchasing cars! The economy will often take precedence in the news above so many other stories.

We are told what we should care about, we are told what we should know, we are told when we should be scared and even when we should feel joy.

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I Don’t Know If I Like It Or Not…

 

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We all have a tendency to play it safe. We don’t want to take risks. We only go to restaurants we know we will like. We only going to the cinema if we are absolutely certain we will like the film. We prefer to engage with like-minded individuals with whom we share similar views or experiences.

If we think there is a risk we might not like something, all too often we don’t take the risk.

In many respects it makes sense to avoid things that you don’t like. But the problem is that when we don’t even try, all we risk is that we might not like something. Perhaps the cost of a meal or a cinema ticket, but in the scheme of your life that’s not a huge expense.

By not doing something because we think we might not like it we could wind up leading a very bland life…

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Cover Versions

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Creating original content can be very hard, no matter what your field.  Whether it’s writing, composing, leading a business or even inventing, chances are someone has done it before you.

This makes for challenging times, as everyone is trying to bring something new to market, trying to saying something original, trying to tell a new story.

It’s not impossible to be the creator of something truly original, but it’s rare. The narratives of most films can be traced back to stories in Shakespeare, which in turn echo folk tales that were passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years, long before Shakespeare was born.

Your dreams, your goals, your aspirations, it’s likely someone has gone before you and done it already. Does this mean you shouldn’t bother? Of course not. There’s nothing wrong with a “cover version”. The beauty to embrace is that you already have your originality – you.

There is only one of you.

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It Doesn’t Count

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As a society we seem obsessed with measuring something so that we can put a number on it. Maybe it’s because of our tendency to perceive numbers as facts. But it does mean we risk missing things that could be equally important, or perhaps more so, than the things we can attach a number to.

In business it’s all about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).  As we strive to represent performance as a number, the KPIs take on paramount importance in understanding how a business is doing, even though less tangible aspects such as employee engagement, or customer experience are also massively important ingredients in achieving success.

Sadly, it seems that what we can’t count, ends up not counting.

If we overlook or dismiss such intangibles, we limit our understanding. We do ourselves and our businesses a disservice because we’re missing out on important opportunities to learn, to grow or to develop.

The same applies to schools and education. In the UK and many other countries, there is an obsession with school league tables. There’s a considerable over-emphasis on counting the numbers of children who can read, spell and perform calculations to a certain level. Yet there is plenty of truly valuable stuff that doesn’t get counted – and therefore doesn’t count – because it can’t be reduced to a number in a league table…

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You Can’t Argue With The Numbers

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Numbers, and in particular mathematics, are considered to be the language of science. As such, numbers take on a particularly amazing quality: they’re immediately associated with facts and statistics. For example, did you know that only 1% of people who set out to achieve a goal actually succeed? The other 99% fail or give up.

Numbers are also used to describe the world around us and, of course, the absolute truth must come down to a number. As Douglas Adams so brilliantly revealed in “The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy” the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.

Whilst Adams wonderfully highlighted the nonsense of bringing all our scientific discoveries and explanations of the universe down to a single number, there’s no denying the pervasive influence numbers have on our lives. And because we associate them with facts, with science and, ultimately, with the truth, we have a tendency to believe numbers even if they are not backed up with facts. We’ve come to accept numbers as facts. As we’re so often told, “you can’t argue with the numbers!”

But perhaps we should.

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The Great Average

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None of us want to be average, right? Most of us want to be more than average. Most of want to experience more than average. I don’t know anyone who would tell their boss they’re aiming for an average performance this year. I’ve not met the person who would go into a restaurant and expect just average service and food quality.

Our personal aspirations also tend to be more than average, In fact, they’re often closer to exceptional. There are countless role models who remind us how much potential we all have to be exceptional:

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein”

– H. Jackson Brown Jr

We all have our personal role models, those individuals that we would aspire to be like – whether it’s in business, science, arts or sports. They may be a “superstar” in their field or just someone you know or work with personally. Either way, we all have individuals who we aspire to be like – their achievements inspire us towards greatness.

The problem is when we look up to such role models we tend to only focus on the greatness of their achievements, not the accompanying failures they experienced.

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Have You Made Up Your Mind Yet?

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What’s on your mind?

How many choices and decisions do you have to make today?

How many long term decisions or concerns are occupying your mind right now?

Our minds are only capable of making a certain number of decisions. This number can vary depending on the type of decisions you have to make; we all know that some decisions are easier to make than others. Our cognitive resources are limited in their capacity to make decisions; and the more decisions you have to make the less cognitive resources you have available.

If you have several programs open on your computer it uses active memory to keep them running in the background. The more tasks you want your computer to perform, the more slowly and more frustratingly it will operate. Similarly, when our cognitive resources are occupied by lots of decisions – from the small to the large – it’s like running a bunch of programs in the background. Those huge decisions you keep putting off, or the small stuff that gets bumped on to tomorrow’s to-do list, all take a toll and leave you emotionally drained, struggling to focus on anything more than passive activities like watching TV or listening to music.

The big problem here is that you need the full capacity of your cognitive resources if you want to achieve your goals and dreams. Sadly that important stuff often gets neglected because our minds are constantly occupied with other decisions and thoughts.

So how do we free up our cognitive resources to focus on the good stuff?

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