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Overcoming your sales fears

 

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Sometimes, the thought of selling strikes one with fear.

What do I say?

What if I mess up?

Am I the right person for this?

They don’t think they have any experience.

Clearly, this person is in denial.

Keep in mind, most people probably sell something every single day – whether they realize it or not. How did they convince their friend to try a new idea? Get their parents to do x, y and z? Didn’t one have to ‘sell’ themselves to get a job?

We are all sales people to a certain extent, and one don’t necessarily have to work on the sales floor to know how to communicate and persuade.

Here are some pointers for getting over sales fears.

  1. It’s all about the attitude.

One can’t always control what happens in life, however they can control how they respond. Attitude is 90 percent of how one copes with the universe’s hurdles. If one has a winning attitude, success will be just around the corner. Have confidence – believe you can and you will.

  1. Sales is a discussion before it is a sale.

Every time a person meets with someone, they are having a conversation. An individual may have hundreds of different conversations every day, ranging from in-person encounters, to IM conversations or chats over the phone. The only difference is that in sales one has a conversation with the goal of listening more attentively and helping someone resolve their business issues.

  1. Every stumble is a step on the stairway to success.

Barbara Corcoran on Shark Tank once described the difference between the people who are successful in sales and those who aren’t on an interview. Those that succeed brush themselves off and get back up on their feet right after every fall. They don’t spend time brooding over failure, as they are too busy chasing after success.

Striking similarities: millennials and baby boomers

This article is in response to the Huffington Post’s Who Will Win Out Between the Millennials and Boomers

What if marketers sought strategies that leveraged what millennials and baby boomers had in common rather than pitting one against the other?

marketing to millennialsSocial media, news sites, TV and many other media outlets are rife with conversation about marketing to millennials: how they differ from the generations before them, what and why they buy, and how they buy differently.

The New York Times highlights that the millennial population is now slightly larger than the baby boomer population – consisting of 26 percent of the total U.S. population as opposed to 24 percent.

Given the wide circulation of articles like NPR’s Why You Should Start Taking Millennials Seriously and all of the hype surrounding the younger generation it could falsely appear that the millennials are all that matter to advertisers.

Something to keep in mind is that the baby boomers are going to be here for a while – and still dominate America’s purse strings.

According to Bloomberg the baby boomers still outpace millennials in consumption – spending $3 trillion in the U.S. alone compared to the millennial’s $600 million, dominating 70 percent of disposable income. With the federal government predicting people to live well into their 80’s and Americans retiring later than ever, the marketing community as a whole can’t afford forget this audience.

Sure, some products and services are most definitely geared towards younger audiences, but we have noted that the dividing line between the “millennial mindset” and the baby boomer is not as thick as it seems.

Boomers are echoing their younger cohorts and millennials are influenced by older boomers. Advertisers should take note of their similarities rather than just their differences.

Older populations are heavy consumers of online media, too.

According to the Pew Research Center, at least 65 percent of baby boomers aged 50-64 use Facebook. Google’s Reaching Today’s Boomers & Seniors Online suggests that the majority check their profiles daily.

Google’s study shows that the population is an active participant on social media – with more than half engaging their community at large through video, following/joining groups or supporting causes.

Additionally, boomers are device agnostic like millennials – utilizing multiple screens at once, i.e. texting, posting and/or watching TV at the same time. Thus, opening the door to compelling mobile programmatic opportunities.

Conversely, millennials are more like the older generations than marketers may think.

Every younger generation is described as being radically different from its predecessors as one witnesses ‘shocking’ expressions of youth – like Elvis’s notorious hip-gyrating on national TV in 56’ (gasp).

However, some of these generational differences may be more perception than actuality.

For example a study referenced by Millennial CEO reveals that, like baby boomers, millennials are also heavily swayed by the input of their family and friends when choosing a product.

MediaPost reveals that 72 percent of surveyed younger millennials (18-25) stated that they are loyal to all or many of the brands that their parents use. 56 percent of older millennials reflected this same loyalty to their parent’s selections.

Furthermore, according to Accenture, both millennials and baby boomers are notoriously frugal – bargain hunting and showrooming to locate the best deals they can possibly find.

Could it be that the so-called “millennial” mindset isn’t strictly defined to millennials at all, but more a product of life in today’s recession-wary, increasingly digital society?

Marketers may have a lot to gain in recognizing these similarities and marketing to millennials and baby boomers in tandem.

6 tips for handling difficult clients

By Mariama Holman and Kate Buhr

At one point or another, everyone runs into a challenging client. They are rude, demanding, curt, and maybe even curse over the phone.

Here are a few quick tips for turning those sour lemons into lemonade.

  • Don’t take it personally.

Oftentimes, when a client is upset, it’s not you at all. It’s actually them. Their life might have taken an unfortunate turn for the worst. Perhaps they’ve had one of “those days” – their car broke down on the way to work. They spilled coffee all over their dress. They were late dropping off the kids at school.

Sometimes a customer service representative is just the trash can for the clients’ emotional issues. Realize that the client is just struggling to manage the challenges in their life. Handle the situation with empathy rather than picking up an attitude yourself. Always be aware of your tone of voice, as clients’ tones will often reflect what they hear over the phone.

  • Patience isn’t just a virtue.

Patience is not an ethereal quality relegated to Mother Theresa-esque characters. It is an action to be put into practice every day, every moment. Before becoming irate at the client or the situation, recall all of the grace and patience you might have received in life. Remember the mischievous little things your caretakers had to endure from your childhood? Or the perpetual bad-attitude you rocked as a teenager? Someone was patient with you and now it’s your turn. Retribution.

The first step to patience is actually tuning out emotions and tuning into what the client is saying. Clients want to know that their complaints are heard and acknowledged. They appreciate good listening. If you take the time to actually practice active, empathetic listening, they will be more inclined to give you the same courtesy. Clients will respect you if they feel that you are not the enemy, but a partner who understands their point of view.

  • Change your mental filter.

This chorus sung by Ella Fitzgerald that describes the response perfectly:

“You have to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative…latch on to the affirmative and don’t mess with mister in-between…” The chorus begins at 1:10 in the video below. 

Look at the good, not the bad of the situation. By drawing attention to the positive, it not only helps you cope with a tense moment but eases other’s frustrations as well. Hum, chant and whistle Accentuate The Positive to keep a clear head in the midst of conflict.

  • Suggest a (good) solution.

Clients are not just calling to complain – they want results. They want a solution to their problem. Be the clients’ problem-solver. This is always the best course of action and the clients will definitely appreciate a solid fix. Do not be afraid to be creative and think outside of the box. Utilize any opportunity that will benefit them and their businesses. Just make sure the solution is timely, efficient, and of course, actually resolves the problem.

  • Keep it candid and carry on.

Sometimes clients are completely disrespectful – yelling, cursing and insulting. The best way to handle this situation and get the client to actually listen is to be honest. One can be candid without being rude or raising their voice. Confidence is important, as it reflects how the client will respond to you. If one portrays themselves as having low to no-self esteem they will never gain the client’s respect.

  • Kill them with kindness.

Unfortunately this saying is not practiced as often as it is heard. Even when a client is flipping tables in rage, treating them with respect, civility and tact will always pay off.

Join Your Alumni Association!

I never believed my dad when he said college would be the fastest four years of my life. I wish I would have listened better, because in a blink of an eye, it was all over. Just like every senior in their last semester of school, I was begging to be done claiming life after college was going to be nothing but amazing. News flash, being a “real” adult, meaning you’re 100% independent from your parents, is really, REALLY hard.

Like most recent grads, I moved away from my college town to embark on real world experiences. It didn’t take long before I was wishing to be back in the college life bubble. Luckily I moved to a place where my university had an alumni chapter, and a big one at that.

I won’t lie to you, I was hesitant to join because I just assumed that alumni associations were for older, well-off adults. Then I realized all of the benefits being part of an alumni association had to offer. Here are my top 3 reason why you should join your alumni association:

  1. To stay connected. When you’re not in your college environment it’s hard to always keep up with what is going on at your old stomping grounds. Many alumni chapters offer their members social media sites to follow to stay connected with what is happening on campus in real time. A lot of universities even ask alums their advice on some campus projects before they are put to a vote. Your participation matters as the future of the university lies in your hands. Joining an alumni association gives you a sense of being “home” even if you’re far away.
  2. Network/Find jobs in a new city. Universities want to make their alumni forces strong worldwide, which is why so many schools heavily support their alumni associations. In a lot of cases, it’s very easy to reach out to your alumni base and ask for help in regards to starting a new career. The world really is small and you’d be surprised to know how many of your school mates are in really successful positions. Your fellow alumni are everywhere and are valuable resources in a new city, reach out to them and see how far your career goes!
  3. Game watch parties. There’s not a lot of explanation needed here. If you’ve recently moved to a new city, this reason alone should convince you to join your alumni association. It’s not uncommon for local alumni chapters to find a bar and designate it as their school’s game watching bar. This creates an awesome and comfortable environment to really show off your school pride. There’s nothing better than finding a group of people to scream your fight song with after a great win.

Alumni associations are also known for organizing international trips for alumni, recruiting new students, and raising thousands of dollars for scholarships. Even if your new city doesn’t have an alumni chapter, it doesn’t take much to start your own. I challenge you all to look into joining your alumni association. It’s not expensive, and if you’ve graduated in recent years, I bet your alumni chapter even offers a “young alumni” fee.

Level-up conferences with a nod to the entertainment industry

What makes a great conference – the keynote speakers? Event planners shouldn’t seek to woo attendants with flashy keynotes, but an experience with a wow  factor they can’t find elsewhere.

People have the ability to listen to experts from the comforts of home via their iPods. It’s a good idea to make a conference worth their while.

What can be done to up the ante on an association’s conference?

For starters, one can boost the level of engagement and interactivity the conference offers, as if creating a concert. Concerts become unforgettable when fans have an opportunity to actually connect with the artist, or in the association’s case, the rock-star speaker.

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Association conferences need to reimagine their events – maximizing human connection on all fronts to truly become something worthwhile.

This is what an association’s conference looks like, leveled-up with inspiration from the entertainment industry.

Engagement through gamification

At the 2014 Drake Vs. Lil’ Wayne Concert, event planners created an app that allowed fans to vote for their favorite rapper – live – as they were performing. Fans could also send “power ups” to boost an on-stage energy meter for either Drake or Lil’ Wayne.

Your association could consider hosting a debate. Association members could “vote” in real time for which speaker they agree the most and have their feedback and comments featured on stage.

Crowdsourcing conference themes

2015’s SXSWedu conference topics are chosen through a “Panel Picker,” an online platform that allows prospective attendees to submit ideas for conference sessions, gain feedback, and then ultimately vote for favorites.

Rather than asking an internal panel for discussion ideas, give the audience a voice. Reveal the schedule at the event. If one empowers their audience to discuss what is important to them, it might even shed more light into opportunities for the association as a whole.

Interactive learning

The B.I.G. Salsa Festival in San Antonio hosted a series of hands-on-workshops with famous, iconic leaders from the salsa dancing universe- allowing participants to further explore topics of interest with small-group speaker lead discussions and facilitated skills-based workshops.

One could watch an expert talk…or talk with the expert. Which might be more memorable?

B.I.G, SXSW, and a host of other entertainment industry events facilitate opportunities for attendants to interact with speakers live. Consider hosting a SXSW style “playground” – a space allowing for small group discussions or skills-based workshops with speakers.

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