May you live in interesting times!

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I was just considering how sometimes things come to a crossroads and paths collide whilst acknowledging the events of the last few days with a nod to the famous quote (originally from Chinese roots) “May you live in interesting times!”
Within the last few days we have witnessed following the recent lunar eclipse the passing of 3 music greats, Ben E King, Percy Sledge and Errol Brown all within a few days of each other. In the world of Football at a crucial stage of the season, Jimmy Greaves has a life threatening stroke while David Beckham celebrates his 40th Birthday. Nepal sees it’s worst earthquake in 80 years, there has been the greatest billed boxing fight of recent years and we see the birth of the new Royal baby, Princess Charlotte. Also, we’ve come through the General Election with new beginnings unfolding in Government at the same time of marking the 70th anniversary of the end of war in Europe VE Day. Not forgetting other significant developments around the world such as in Putin’s Russia, North Korean nuclear plans and the hopeful eradication of Ebola in Africa, this has been an eventful few days. Question is, what’s going on with you and your business? Are things ticking over or have you reached a cross roads where big life changing decisions need to be taken? Have things all happened suddenly and collided or is the road ahead clear?

Election Over – Now Maximise!

I don’t know if you were voting on Thursday at the General Election but I have particularly seen an interesting parallel when comparing business to the Election run-up.
There are a lot of people with opinions about business and entrepreneurship as with politics that have been passed down from well meaning and protective parents who also have forged their own thinking from their own parents and from a different time and generation. This is all well and good, and even sentimental, as it becomes your forefathers identity of which you are a part, though you can really trip you up unconsciously when challenged with what you actually do believe politically, how and why you chose your employment or business and what your expectations of success are and what this is based on?
It is all well and good being polite, upstanding and and socially acceptable in the work place but an entrepreneur needs unwavering belief in themselves, the acknowledgement they are ultimately responsible and captain of their own ship, a fairness when it comes to their employees, a good sense of budget and not overspending plus the character and salesmanship to bring in new business. It is one thing to be a “worker” and to “put in a shift” but creating and running a business is so much more than this in the imagination, intelligence, energy and strategy required. Likewise, our political choices ought to be made with the famous John F Kennedy’s request in mind that we should not ask “what can my country do for me but instead what can I do for my country”. In other words, and in life generally, particularly with our businesses and careers, we should see our work as our mission and literally our life’s work and as the legacy we will leave behind and what we were known for and here to do not just as the job or “shift” we “clock in” for. I am not demeaning having a job instead of your own business but I am flying the flag for maximising the role you have and growing it and smashing it and not just going through the motions as a means to collect a pay cheque to pay the bills or because you have always thought a certain way without questioning it. So Maximise!

Better to ask for forgiveness than permission!

Just a big tip when at the end of the appointment setting conversation and establishing the next time of telephone contact. Never ask if it’s ok to speak to a prospect in the future or if the prospect is available at a certain time in the future as this makes things too easy for the prospect to just say No or throw you off track. It’s better to take the initiative and refer to a future conversation in a friendly informal way that assumes you will be speaking again. So for example “when we next speak, I’ll give you an update on the question you’ve asked me today”. The prospect feels you are actually helping and there is no over eagerness to call but just feels normal and within reason. Just end the conversation with “speak to you soon” or “ok, we’ll talk soon and you can update me again then!” There is an element of cheekiness in this but if it is within the context, and spirit of the call, it will come over as very natural and not a jolt out of the blue or alarming or out of character. As long as you are congruent, professional and to the point, the prospect will allow you to take control of the conversation as they are busy. Once they know you are doing your job and are knowledgeable can actually help them, they will go your way and not block or question you. It’s easier to stop and apologise (if you really need to) than to explain everything and ask permission. You will get much further. Best of luck and keep it natural!

“How are you today?” – Politeness or Pain?

How many times have you been cold called with the opening question “How are you today?” The reason this is so annoying and out of place when addressing a stranger on the telephone is that no relationship exists yet between the caller and person being called and so this (whilst meant in supposed politeness) is misplaced as it has no context or reference at this point and is only uttered because it happens to be the first line on the caller’s script because the caller’s training says it has to be this way. The scenario is different if the cashier in the supermarket greets you as a stranger with the same question as the context is that you as the customer have already spent time in the store and are now in fact about to buy something and the “how are you today?” fits the occasion when both parties can see and feel the scenario and these words are naturally appropriate. ┬áTo assume this context and relationship on the telephone as the opening line with a stranger (particularly when calling to sell as opposed to someone buying from you) is totally unprofessional particularly right at the top of the call as it determines the mood for the remainder of the conversation however long it lasts. Try a quick friendly intro of your name and company name first so people can place who you are without you trying to assume the relationship and just get to the reason for calling very quickly because the other negative with “how are you today?” is that it now requires the person being called to comment on how they are feeling causing unnecessary/irrelevant distraction to the beginning of the call and can water down the message as the caller in normal conversation would then be expected to comment on the reply to “how are you today?” not brush it aside moving straight into the pitch. You wouldn’t at a party ask someone how they were, they then reply and then you quickly change subject onto what you wanted to talk about. You would talk some more on the subject of “how are you today?” before doing that and on the phone you have no time for this and the reason why this opening question is so misplaced. It detracts from the real reason for your call. (The caller is supposed to press on with their pitch regardless of the person being called saying “I feel like ****!”). Be mindful and act how YOU would like a caller to handle the greeting stamping your own take on this rather than blindly following your script without thought. Engage efficiently, remain in control, still remaining polite and do not annoy people right at the beginning of the interaction. Have a productive week! – Kevin.