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!