Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I am a happy person, but ...

Sorry to those of you who've been hanging on the edge of your seats anxiously awaiting a new blog post. Surely all 50 or so of my readers have suffered from withdrawal. LOL. I've been having quite a busy month. Yes, being busy is a good sign. I have been making many sales, which is great. But, truth be told, as always, I spend far more time trying to get in to see business owners than I do actually seeing them, much less selling anything to them.

That's right. I'm gonna rant about this again, which brings me to another matter. There's at least one person who becomes "concerned about me" anytime my blog takes this sort of tone. Perhaps there are others, too, who just don't come forward and say it. So, let me assure you of something right now: I am a happy person. Really. In fact, I am happier, generally speaking, than most of my friends and family members. I live in a state of gratitude for the many blessings in my life. I do not suffer from a poor sense of self worth. I don't have to drag myself out of bed in the morning and go through the proverbial motions. And, I don't hate my job. Far from it. In many ways, this is the best job I've ever had. I don't mean to present a picture of my life that's rosier than it actually is. I have my share of problems, just like everyone else. But, overall, life is good, career included.

There are some things that bother me, however — among them the prevailing attitudes and behaviors many have where salespeople are concerned. I often am told by well-meaning friends and acquaintances that it's simply the nature of the beast ... that I must just accept it and learn not to take it personally. It still bothers me, though, and I can't imagine that it ever will stop bothering me. I've never been one to accept things like racism, sexism, homophobia or bigotry of any kind, and I don't see why this should be any different ... why I should accept rudeness or discourtesy for any reason, for that matter. I'm not wired that way. I've always been one to speak up for what I believe and to try to bring about positive change when I see wrong being done. It's the primary reason I started this blog ... to give a voice to members of my profession — salespeople, that is — who deal with these issues every day.

If you don't get what I mean, let me cite as an example a simple sentence I tweeted, on Twitter of course, not long ago, and some responses I received. My tweet was simply this: Salespeople are people. Following are a couple of the @ replies:

•"That is an audacious generalization."

•"no, not all, some are robots, some are clueless, some shouldn't be selling and some are way overbearing"

... and more of the same. Not one person had anything nice to say about salespeople. No one said, "You know you're right. I hadn't thought of it that way before." One person said essentially that rude and discourteous behavior comes with the territory ... that every salesperson knows that and chooses to be in sales anyway.

While there may be some truth to these remarks, they were beside the point I was trying to make. Sure, some salespeople are annoying and overbearing. But some aren't. Some don't have good products. Others do. Some aren't good at what they do. Many are great at what they do. Regardless, they are all people. They have bills to pay and families to support. They have rough times and hardships to endure. They have "feelings" (not that feelings are real, but you catch my drift). They are people's mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends. Whether they're salespeople or not salespeople, they are people, and people deserve to be treated with kindness and courtesy, no matter who they are or what career they choose. Warm voices, smiles and returned phone calls can make their day just as easily as harsh words, icy glares and being ignored can ruin it.

Do you want to be a ray of light in someone's day or a gloomy cloud? Think about that the next time you receive a sales call. Treat that salesperson the way you would want to be treated. Treat them as you would want your family members and friends to be treated. It doesn't take much extra time or effort to be kind and communicative. Think of the time you may waste in other ways, whether playing on the Internet or chatting with colleagues, and give that salesperson just a few minutes out of your day to hear what he or she has to say. You may be surprised to find that it's something worthwhile. If you truly are too swamped to spare a few minutes, ask the person to try again later, and suggest a better time. If you know, and I mean really know what they're selling isn't for you (and be careful of what you know), say something like, "I really appreciate you thinking of us, but this isn't something we need. I'm not going to buy, and I don't want to waste your time," then, refer them to someone who might! (That last part should be effective at getting them off your case, and surely you know someone who might want what they sell ... probably a few.)

If you won't do it sheerly for the sake of kindness, you might think about this: Salespeople — good ones, anyway — tend to be good networkers. They talk with business owners, managers, marketing professionals and all kinds of people every day. When people (like you!) show them kindness and talk with them a little, they tend to spread the word. I know I sure do! I have formed great referral relationships with business owners who for whatever reason did not buy anything from me but were nice enough to take the time to talk with me, to tell me about their business and a little about themselves. I now shop in their stores and send friends their way. Conversely, I have to admit, I tend to steer clear of the ones who are rude or ignore me, and I seldom recommend them to others.

Remember, you get what you give, and that's true in so many ways.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The future's so bright I've gotta wear welding goggles!

Nothing like a trip to forward-thinking San Francisco to remind me that we are headed in the right direction and everything will be okay. If you've never visited this fine city, please, please put it on your list of vacation destinations. Being there is both literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air. Beautiful scenery, architecture and public artworks abound. The streets are clean. I'm talking really clean. People do not toss their garbage or even their cigarette butts on the ground. Many of the municipal trash bins — visible on nearly every city block — have separate compartments for trash and recyclables. The public transportation system is impressive, affording citizens and visitors to choose from among the famous streetcars, the municipal railway (both sub and above ground), buses, taxicabs and car sharing services. Cars actually yield to pedestrians, too. The leisure and learning activities seem endless, and surprisingly many are free or low cost. And the food! Oh, the food! San Francisco offers such an array of culinary delights, one could probably live a lifetime there and never have time to taste them all! This was my third trip, and I've yet to scratch the surface.

I think what I love the most about the City by the Bay is its harmonious spirit. People of all walks of life — all ages, all nationalities, all economic brackets, all religious affiliations, all sexual orientations and all levels of eccentricity — seem to coexist in relative harmony. I don't mean to paint an idyllic picture. I'm sure San Francisco sees its share of crime, violent and otherwise, but the general feel of the city is pleasant and, well, gay! Given the trendsetting nature of the California coast, I hope it offers a glimpse at what we can expect as a nation somewhere down the line, sooner rather than later.

Now, as a salesperson of internet marketing tools, I'll tell you what excites me career-wise. San Francisco "gets" the Internet. QR codes are commonplace in storefront windows, on billboards, buses, brochures and business cards. Restaurant and retail websites are standard, and there are local mobile apps aplenty. The business community and ordinary citizens alike embrace Internet technology. In fact, they integrate it into their everyday existence — something that I see making its way into the less cosmopolitan pockets of America, including the city where I live. While the younger generations here seem to understand this, at least to some degree, I marvel all the time at how hard I have to work to convince some would-be clients that the Internet is where it's going ... where it's at.

Google searches and mobile apps aren't going away! In fact, they've only just begun! If your business isn't showing up when consumers and other business professionals search their computers, iPads and phones, you are missing opportunities. This is becoming more and more true with each passing day. To reach new customers, retain your existing customers and, at the very least, to keep up with your competitors, you need a strong online and mobile presence. If you don't have an official business website, you are behind the times. If your business website does not show up when potential customers search the 'Net for your services, you are losing business to those who do. If your business website is not readable and navigable on a mobile phone, you are at a disadvantage. If you don't have a mobile app for your business, it is only a matter of time before your competitors will, so why not beat them to it?

Make it easy on yourself and me, your friendly Internet/mobile marketing tool salesgirl. Accept and embrace the changing way Americans and people the world over search for business information. Don't get left behind and become irrelevant in this age of technology. Be a forward-thinking marketer and position your business for success!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lamest blog post ever? You decide.

All work and no play makes Salespeople Are People a dull blog. Sorry, folks. These last few weeks have been a doozie ... but in a good way. We launched an exciting new product — apps for small businesses — went away for training on that, spent a few days on business and pleasure in New Orleans, and did some spring cleaning. So, I've been busy ... but it's a good kind of busy!

I do want to touch on the new app product I'm offering, because it's kind of a big deal. Whereas businesses have had to spend a small fortune for a custom-made mobile app, my company is revolutionizing the industry by making powerful apps with neat features available to even the smallest businesses and organizations! For about what most business owners spend on Starbucks each month, they can have an interactive app for their business. Features may include deals/coupons; in-app messaging with pictures, sound and text; invoicing/payment; and appointment scheduling. We make it easy for consumers to download the free apps for iPhone and Android and share to Facebook and Twitter. It's a very cool thing, but something that's consumed a lot of my time in beta testing over the past few months. And, I got the okay to sell them last week and am already making sales! Yay!

Anyway, as soon as I can come up for air, I'll be back to ye olde blog. I'm flattered that multiple friends and business acquaintances have actually noticed I haven't been blogging and asked for more. Thanks for the support! Everyone take care and have a great weekend!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Things you should already know

A series of frustrating encounters this week has inspired me to write about a few simple rules everyone should follow. It may seem silly (to some of you, I hope) that I should have to write these things. They are things that people should already know. Clearly many people don't know these things, however. Or, if they do know, they don't care ... or don't actually practice what they know. Anyway, here we go.

1.) When someone smiles at you, smile back.

2.) When someone tells you hello, say hello back.

3.) When you want someone to do you a favor, be nice and say please.

4.) When someone does something nice for you, say thank you. (Try to mean it, too.)

5.) When someone leaves you a phone message or sends you an email and asks that you reply, do reply.

6.) When you are working on a project with someone and they take the time to write down helpful instructions for you, read them, then follow them.

7.) When you schedule an appointment with someone, enter it into your calendar. Check your calendar daily. Make every effort to keep your appointments. If you realize you can't make it to an appointment, call, text or email the person you had the appointment with; explain you aren't going to be able to make it; reschedule the appointment for a different time; and show up to that one!

8.) If you completely forget to show up for an appointment, apologize profusely. (Note: It helps to actually feel sorry for inconveniencing the other party.)

9.) Never tell anyone you are "too busy" to give them a few minutes of your time. Especially don't tell them that and then post on Facebook a couple of days later about how much it sucks that it's raining because you were really hoping to spend the day laying out by the pool.

It's not rocket science, folks! Just don't be a jerk!

Monday, February 6, 2012

LinkedIn: What is it good for?

Been having such a busy (and productive) time, I've been neglecting to blog. Ordinarily I'd assume no one cared, but I actually have had a couple of people request a blog about LinkedIn — why I like it, how to use it, etc. So, here goes:

6 Ways LinkedIn Is Your Friend

1.) Directly Accessing Business Acquaintances

Granted, it isn't a sure thing, but LinkedIn often can be a handy tool in reaching business acquaintances directly. This has proven true time after time in my careers as a journalist and as a salesperson. Especially if you are trying to reach someone you don't know all that well or who you have lost touch with for a while and you do not know their direct phone number or current email address, LinkedIn can prove very helpful. Many people, myself included, keep their LinkedIn profiles up-to-date through moves and job changes, and often messages sent via LinkedIn will send an alert to the email address the LinkedIn user checks most often. (Note: If you are one of the few who does not keep up with LinkedIn in these ways, you should consider doing so. You never know what opportunities you might be missing otherwise!)

Working in sales now, I have to make a lot of calls to request meetings with people. Even when trying to reach people I know or have worked with in the past, I often encounter some amount of hassle finding the right phone number and dealing with a receptionist type, who usually wants to know what the call is regarding, or getting voicemail. Maybe it's the writer in me, but I am more comfortable putting down in a few sentences what my intentions are than leaving them in a vocal message. Anyway, I get a higher response rate from LinkedIn messages than I do from leaving phone messages. So there.

2.) Seeing Who Knows Who

Whether you are considering hiring someone for a job or entering into any business arrangement with another person, it's always a good idea to do your homework. LinkedIn makes it a breeze to see all kinds of information about would-be employees and business partners of all kinds. What did she study in school? Where has she worked before and how long did she work there? Does she have any recommendations, and what do they say.

More valuable than any of those things, though — especially if you are considering hiring a person — is seeing the connections you have in common, then picking up the phone and making some calls. If there's one thing I have learned in my 15-or-so-year experience in the business world it's that a whole lot of people who look competent on paper (or on the computer screen) aren't. It's always best to find someone — or multiple people — who actually have had business experience with a potential job candidate (or contractor, or vendor, or whoever) before and have a conversation. Sorry. I might get flak for saying so. (Not sure why, but I've noticed lots of people like to complain.) But, it's true. I learned this the hard way.

And, it's a two-way street. If YOU are the job seeker, vendor or salesperson, you can call friends, former co-workers, etc., who know the person you're interviewing or meeting with and ask them to put in a good word.

3.) Expanding Your Network

Just by being an active LinkedIn participant — by adding connections, posting to the newsfeed, joining groups and contributing to discussions, etc. — your network will grow over time. You get out of it what you put in. I get new requests to connect usually a few times a week. Most often, these requests are from people I've met in the past or recently. Occasionally, they are from people I don't know. LinkedIn actually says it's a no no to request to connect with people you don't know, but hey ... it works for me! I'm in sales. If someone, especially a business owner, wants to connect with me on LinkedIn, I'll take it!

Even if we're not talking about sending or accepting a "connection" request, there's plenty of value in just participating in group discussions. There are so many different groups on LinkedIn for virtually every industry out there. Join them! It's an easy way to share and receive industry insight from others in your field. Racking your brain about a work-related problem? Post it on LinkedIn, and you might be amazed by the responses you receive! Can't find a group that suits your needs? Start one of your own. It's free!

4.) Infiltrating a Company

Trying to get into a company, whether to land a job there or sell a product or service? LinkedIn offers advanced search options wherein you can type in the company name and bring up a list of people you know who work or have worked there. They can use their influence to usher you in. It's happened to me!

5.) Improving Your Google Page Rank

LinkedIn profiles get picked up pretty well by Google and other search engines. Here's a fun test: If you know it, Google my name. I'll bet my Google + profile shows up first and my LinkedIn profile second. In fact, if you're bored enough to try that, please do report back to me what results you get, because I'm curious to know whether my machine/IP address is biased. =-)~

Now try searching your name on Google. (Put your name in quotes.) Does your LinkedIn profile show up on page 1? If not, you've got some work to do. Fill out your profile more completely, update your status more frequently, join some groups, add some connections, then try again in a month or two and see if your ranking improves. I'm willing to bet that if you have a common name, the person with that name who is most active on LinkedIn will show up ahead of the rest. BE that person!

6.) Seeing Who's Viewing Your Profile

You know how every now and then on Faebook a scammy app appears that claims it will let you see who's viewed your profile? Well, on LinkedIn it's not a scam. You really can see who's been viewing your page ... sometimes anyway. First of all, you've got to check off a box in your profile settings giving permission for others to see when you view their pages. (Otherwise, you won't be able to see who's viewed yours.) With an unpaid membership, which is what I have, you can see only a limited number of page viewers.  Every week or so it will let you view five or six more.

Sometimes it tells you outright that it was "so and so" who viewed your page. Sometimes it tells you only that someone from "Company X" viewed it. Then it gives you a list of people from Company X, and you know only one of them, so presumably it was that person. LOL. Occasionally it says that "Anonymous LinkedIn User" viewed your profile. Presumably these anonymous ones are paying for an upgraded membership. I'm not sure what all special benefits a paid membership brings, nor how much an upgraded membership costs. Someday when I am rich and famous I may consider paying for an upgraded LinkedIn membership. I have a feeling at that point I'll have better things to do with my time, though.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

You and me and Google

Several people have asked me to blog about LinkedIn ... what it's good for, how to use it, etc. I'm going to tackle that soon. It's going to take some time and thought to compose that one, though, and I'm short on the time part right now. (I'm continuing to have a highly productive month!) So, today I'm going to share some info I've already got put together about Google and its advertising platform, AdWords ... specifically why it might be a good idea for you to advertise your business (if you've got one, that is) and why, if you decide you want to, you should buy your Google ad plan through me. Here goes:

Why use Google AdWords as an advertising platform?
• In a recent poll of Internet users, 97% reported conducting research online prior to making purchases at least some of the time.
• 90% of the time, Internet users do not search using a business name. They search using product- and service-related keyword phrases.
• Internet search engine advertising has a higher return on investment rate (averaging 10%) than traditional advertising. This is because it targets only individuals who are actively seeking the advertiser’s products and services.
• Nearly 70% of Internet users start their Internet search on
• Paid advertising via Google AdWords ensures immediate, highly targeted exposure for a business, and that exposure lasts for the duration of the ad campaign.
• Google AdWords ads also may appear across the Google Display Network — thousands of other highly viewed reputable websites. Ads here are displayed beside content relevant to the advertiser’s industry.
• Google ads take Internet searchers directly to the advertiser’s company website, where the advertiser crafts and controls all content.
• Using Google AdWords, advertisers pay only for ads that were clicked — never for impressions (or the number of times an ad appeared).
• Unlike traditional advertising platforms, Google AdWords plans include post-ad reporting, informing advertisers of precisely how many people viewed their ads, as well as the most popularly searched phrases that resulted in ad views.

Why use User Friendly Media as your Google AdWords provider?
• My company boasts nearly 30 offices across eight states. We have a customer base more than 30,000 strong, and we pride ourselves on having a high-level of customer satisfaction. We are a privately held company backed by a reputable merchant bank.
• My company is a Google AdWords Certified Partner, meaning our employees (including myself) involved in selling and maintaining Google ad campaigns have undergone specialized training, demonstrated an in-depth understanding of AdWord by passing exams, and meet all of Google’s AdWords qualification guidelines.
• Google selected my company as the first reseller to pilot a special Google AdWords program wherein campaigns are built and incubated by a team of dedicated Google employees. With expert-built campaigns, our advertisers have a competitive edge!
•100% of ads placed within our Google program appear on and the Google Display Network and link directly to the advertiser’s website. (This is not always the case with competitor plans.)
• Our Google ad campaigns are completely turnkey for the advertiser. Google and my company staff handle all aspects of implementation and maintenance of every ad campaign. (Google recommends 10 to 15 hours per week of ad campaign maintenance for optimal performance.)

There you have it! Any questions?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The end of the world as we know it?

Apparently there are a slew of people out there who really do believe the world is coming to an end this year. Really. I've seen them on TV. While I'm doubtful that our race will be wiped out or our planet will be obliterated, if it's the end of the world as we know it, then I'm gung ho! Frankly, the world as I know it, at least, hasn't been so hot these last few years. I mean, it's had its moments, and I'm not really complaining. I've had my wonderful family, my health, food to eat, and a roof over my head. But, it's been a struggle just trying to cover those basics ... a much harder struggle than ever before in my life. What's great, though, is if the rest of 2012 goes as well as these first few weeks have, then happy days are here again! I hope this is the case for you, too!

Good things are happening, people! Sure, sometimes I still feel shunned, and I don't close every sale I try to make. But I'm getting meetings and making sales at a pleasing pace. I'm getting positive feedback from customers, my first renewals from last year's contracts, and even surprise calls out of the blue from people I pitched to in 2011. They're ready to buy, they say! It's not just that, either. Good stuff all around. A hopeful outlook sure does good for the soul. I'll tell ya. (I just did. LOL)

Now, if only I could lose the rest of that baby weight I gained TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO! (Where does the time go? Oh yeah, into working my butt off. I wish that were literal!) I'm finding 80 pounds and age 35 just doesn't melt away the way it used to. I'm being proactive by exercising, but it looks like some dietary changes may be needed to shed the last few ... at least that's what my latest client, a dietitian, tells me. But, enough about me.

I'd like to get some feedback going here. How is your 2012 shaping up so far? What's going on in your world? One of my goals this year is to make this blog more interactive. I'd love to hear from you! Salespeople ... nonsalespeople ... let's support each other! We're all in this together, whether you realize it or not. Let's make 2012 a great year together! Okay, go!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be salespeople.

Junior salespeople? Keep waving. Keep reading. Just don't major in English like Mama did, unless you intend on continuing on to law school ... or else you're gonna be falling back on this later on in life.

Friday, January 6, 2012

You're traveling through another dimension ...

... a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind ... a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead — your next stop, the Twilight Zone.

Surely you've had that feeling before. You're going about your business ... you know, doing stuff, chugging along on what seems like an ordinary day. Then, all of a sudden, WHAM! You find yourself in a situation so surreal it prompts you to ask yourself, sometimes maybe even out loud, "Really?" It feels like you're in the Twilight Zone. You know what I'm talking about. Well, when you work in sales, you spend oodles of time in the Twilight Zone. As a matter of fact, the Twilight Zone starts to feel "normal." You come to expect weirdness. You aren't nearly as surprised when you enter it, anyway.

Where Salespeople Live

If you read any of my previous blog posts you'll remember I touched on this a bit. I'm referring to situations when generally nice, "normal," grown adult businesspeople behave like shy school kids. It goes something like this: 

I start by calling or emailing to set up a meeting with a business owner. Sometimes, this is when I enter the Twilight Zone. My Facebook "friends," email contacts I've conducted business with before in other jobs, and other friendly acquaintances I may have known for years simply may not respond. I may proceed to attempt to reach them in different ways, two and three times, and they may just never get back to me. I'll even try different techniques in the ask ... carefully choosing my phrases to convey the brevity of my intended meeting. I'll ask if I may "run" over for a "quick" chat at their "convenience." I'll "sure appreciate it," I'll say. "Please" and "thank you," I'll say. I may even explain that if they hear what I have to say and decide it simply isn't for them — and this is the truth — there will be no hard feelings ... that it's my job to go out and meet with a certain number of business owners each week, and simply by letting me come over and talk for a few minutes they'll be doing me a favor and may learn about some neat ad opportunities that can help their business in the process. And besides, I might add, if what I've got doesn't interest them, it might interest someone else they know, and perhaps they can give me a referral. Sound reasonable? Would you let me in? Half of you are probably shaking your heads no, because that's about how many people will still not respond. Later, I will run into them at a coffee shop. Another Twilight Zone moment. But what about those who do agree to meet with me? Here's what happens next ...

We get together. They talk about their business. I tell them what I do and how it can help their business. Then, one of three scenarios occurs: 
Scenario No 1: They buy something right then and there.
Scenario No. 2: They say they will or might buy something soon but not right that moment for any number of reasons, and I agree to call them the following week or month or whenever.
Scenario No. 3: They kindly decline to buy.

Scenario No. 1 is my obvious favorite. Everybody wins. We all save time. I earn a living. They get exposure and, in turn, new customers. Hooray for scenario No. 1! Too bad it happens this way only maybe a tenth of the time. And, what would seem to be the good news is, Scenario No. 3 almost never happens. I can count the number of times it has happened certainly on two hands if not one. So, that leaves Scenario No. 2 — where the vast majority of my sales pitches go. This often is, yet again, the entrance to that other dimension ... sucking time and energy, evoking weirdness, awkwardness, wonder and sometimes paranoia. This is the Twilight Zone, folks.

Now, at this this point what's going on with me is I just want to know whether they're going to buy something or not. If so, when? If not, why? (But if they really don't want to tell me why, I still prefer that they tell me no without any explanation than just leave me hanging.) I'll call or I'll email, just like we agreed I would, and guess what the most common response is? NO RESPONSE AT ALL! Hmmm. What does it mean?! Before you answer with, "It means they don't want to buy," let me tell you no, I doesn't necessarily mean that! I, too, thought that at first. But, too many times after getting the "no response at all" response — after I'd given up, cut bait and called it a loss — suddenly out of nowhere I've gotten a call, and guess who it was? It was Mr. Ignored All My Phone Calls And Messages Guy! And, guess what? He wanted to buy!!! Weird, right?

So, one day it occurred to me ... the perfect solution. And I crafted the following (brilliant!) email message:

Hi! I'm making my monthly rounds as the deadline for campaigns is approaching. Please pick one of the following:
1.) Yes, I am ready to sign up for a campaign! Let me know what we need to do to move forward.
2.) I am somewhat interested in a campaign but not just yet. Please follow up again next month.
3.) No, I am not at all interested in a campaign. Stop harassing me! =-)~
I look forward to your reply!

Can you guess how people respond 99.9 percent of the time? They don't respond at all. Sigh.