The global pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in virtual sales, but there seems to be a continuous divide when it comes to developing sales strategies for the future. Can we return to the classic method of face-to-face direct sales as soon as circumstances allow, or joining the revolution of going full virtual. What should we plan for in the “new normal”?
This time last year, I was waking up at the crack of dawn to brace the Johannesburg morning rush to get to my first client meeting in Pretoria. Today, I am working virtually for an American company. My first Zoom meeting is at 3 p.m., which is 8 a.m. Central Time Zone in Tennessee. I have gone from meeting clients in person every day, to calling and emailing them. Building virtual relationships with the time difference has been quite an adjustment, but I am enjoying not having to sit in traffic for hours. As someone with experience on both sides, this is my take on the two strategies.
The way I distinguish virtual from direct sales would be, quality versus quantity.
Direct Sales – Quality
Direct sales would be the quality approach. The focus is on face-to-face interactions. The value of the relationship between business and client is heightened because of the personal bond created. The client’s trust is built on meetings where informal conversations can lead to a higher chance of client retention. Even if the number of clients reached is considerably lower, because of the time taken to build the relationship.
Virtual Sales – Quantity
Virtual sales would be the quantity approach due to the access to a larger spectrum of potential clients from various industries, and the ease of contact via electronic platforms i.e. email. It is a great way to determine which industries to target and eliminate the ones that do not bring in positive metrics or sales. However, maintaining good relationships with clients can be difficult because of not having the face-to-face factor, and managing a concentrated customer base can create a lower chance of client retention.
To further differentiate the two sales strategies, I will use the 4 A’s model: Acceptability, Accessibility, Affordability, Awareness, and the selling of sweaters as an example for each.
4 A’s Model
Acceptability – Why should customers buy our sweaters? Are they priced according to the quality we are offering? This component can be used in the sales pitch to potential customers.
Accessibility – Ensuring the store is stocked up with sweaters and positioned where customers can easily see and reach them.
Affordability – Are our sweaters priced to attract our target markets? How are the sweaters priced against competitors at stores nearby?
Awareness – Can customers see that we sell sweaters in our store? Are they visible on mannequins in the display window? Do we have a sign?
Acceptability – Why should customers buy our sweaters? Are they priced according to the quality we are offering? This component can be used in the product title and description on the website.
Accessibility – Having a website that is easy to navigate, and mobile phone optimised, so customers can effortlessly buy sweaters from any device.
Affordability – Are our sweaters priced to attract the desired target markets? How are sweaters on competitors’ websites priced?
Awareness – An email campaign, targeted at a group of potential customers to inform them about our brand of sweaters.
We can see from this, that the mechanisms of the 4 A’s in both approaches often coincide and have similarities.
Adapting to the current climate and adopting a sales process that not only protects your team, but also grows your business, is essential.
A combined approach of both sales strategies based on your company’s goals and objectives, would, in my view, be the most beneficial in these uncertain times.
“We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how.”
Why do we have mentors? Why do we need mentors? What is a mentor?
This type of person is not necessarily in the lime-light or has social status, it can be the person next to you or even an equal. A mentor leads by example and is not always aware of the people following their example. By setting an example you are seen as a mentor. This is not always deliberately, but because of certain personal morals and values, you set an example to others. Being a mentor means exhibiting integrity and responsibility – inspiring and motivating others to reach their goals, being it in a business, or social environment.
Starting off in the business world, I was nervous and unsure about what to expect. I knew I wanted to lead my business by empowering and encouraging my employees. By leading in a positive and well-structured manner, you achieve optimal productivity and efficiency. A positive working environment will motivate not only yourself, but your employees as well. This will help them in gaining and building their knowledge. I want them to feel comfortable and respected in their profession. But trying to achieve this is not easy.
Luckily, I have a person in my life that taught me how to achieve these goals.
I do not even think my mentor knows he has influenced my life in such a way, but he surely made an impact.
Abe Beukes, the winemaker at Yonder Hill, needs to be mentioned, even if this is only for myself.
Photo by Daniel Naude
What Leading by example means
Having Patience and Endurance
Abe has taught me, if I want to reach my goals, I will need patience and endurance. Seeing the way he treats his employees and work closely with them, showed me how to lead my business in a way to create a positive environment. I strive to have an open, but professional, relationship with my employees. To do so I need to be approachable and listen to them. He has not only taught me how to lead my business, but even though I achieved one of my goals, nothing stopped me in reaching other goals. I strive to not only be a good leader but also to improve my own knowledge. In this manner I can help my business gain greater success. Having him as my mentor has definitely prepared me in building my own independent business.
Developing one’s self
A mentor prepares and helps you to not to make the same mistakes, but rather improving yourself in your business. Being part of the Virtual Assistant (VA) world, showed me that having a mentor is an important aspect in developing one’s self. Without this knowledge, it would not have been easy to start my VA career. In my life I have had many mentors. Each of them had an impact on my life. Amongst all of these people, only a few revealed to be true mentors. Working with all of these different people, I gained enough knowledge and experience to distinguish who I would like to be associated with. Abe is always open to answering questions. He shows patience and open mindedness and tries to put himself in someone else’s shoes when questions are being asked.
Although being a renowned winemaker, and probably knowing everything that needs to be known to be a good winemaker, he still attends conferences, workshops and lectures to widen and improve his knowledge. He believes in constantly upskilling yourself.
Influencing the people around you
Having said all of this, each person chooses their own mentor. You as a person needs to decide what you want to achieve and how you want to be seen, in a business or social environment. When I started, I decided that I want to have a positive and encouraging effect on people’s lives. I realised that my previous mentors could not teach me in a way to successfully achieve this goal. That is why I decided to follow Abe’s lead. Having a mentor like him and achieving my goals, I can also strive in being a mentor to someone else. At the end of the day you will never know if you are someone’s mentor, but by exhibiting integrity, responsibility and positivity you can make a positive change in someone’s life.
In bringing this together I decided to take these words from this Franchise Growth Partners blog, it perfectly summarizes the person I want to be in business and personally. It starts with a choice to be the person you want to be:
Be willing to share skills, knowledge, and expertise. Always demonstrate a positive attitude. Always try to take a personal interest in the mentoring relationship and exhibit enthusiasm in your profession. Try to provide guidance and constructive feedback so that you can be respected by colleagues and employees in all levels of the organization. Lastly value the opinions and initiatives of others and motivate by setting a good example.
Healthy body = Healthy mind. Healthy mind = Healthy body.
Seems so simple doesn’t it? And yet keeping a balance between body and mind can be quite challenging. Bring in the third element – soul – and we find ourselves in a whole new ball game. Our mind, bodies and souls are the 3 cornerstones of our existence. One cannot exist without the other and if these are not in harmony, we find ourselves unbalanced. I like to visualize them in a circle, so that I see a rolling, continuous cycle, all interleading into each other. One will always be on the top whilst you give your time and energy to it, and then will move onto the next and the next, picking up the energy and momentum and keeping it flowing, filtering energy and positivity into each one. If positivity is what you choose.
We live in an era where stress is a huge part of our daily routines, especially now in this new world we live in. The pressure of simple daily tasks can seem unsurmountable, leaving us nowhere near a healthy mind, body, or soul, especially if the situation is the same day in and day out, with no definitive end.
Finding your balance
You can change this by completing the mind-body-soul circle. Make a concerted effort to change, starting with one of these three areas. Maybe you only need to work on one. Now is a good time to start and carry through into our lives once we go back to whatever the new normal is going to be.
Be kind to yourself. Remember that you might not get it right every day, that is not the victory. The victory is that you keep trying and don’t give up. This is a journey you will be on for the rest of your life and every small win is a win!
The mind is incredibly powerful! One has to be so careful on what you allow it to do. This all depends what you feed it. As powerful as it is, you are still in control. Unless you are consciously aware of this, it could control you. There have been thousands of case studies and theories on the power of the mind. To uncomplicate things, keep it simple. Don’t consume all your energy on negative thoughts, especially those you are not able to control. If you are consumed by something, ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to change the situation? If not, let it go. This takes practice. When we practice noticing our thoughts and letting go, we engage in a powerful habit, leading to peace and ultimately a better-balanced life.
I am trying a new technique, which may work for you too. When I find my thoughts racing and out of control, I force my mind to envision a bright ball of energy. (This is used in Qigong Yoga) and nothing else. I imagine this to be my safe zone, my go to place, and I try and feed my mind off this positive space. You could also try a happy place – a special place in your mind that you love being in and sit there quietly. Calming your thoughts and taking back control of your mind.
Taking control of your mind one step at a time can be incredibly liberating! If you do not like what you are thinking you need to change what you are planting.
An old Chinese proverb captures the power of our thinking in shaping our lives:
Sow a thought and reap an act
Sow an act and reap a habit
Sow a habit and reap a character
Sow a character and reap a destiny
Exercise for some may be hard, for others it is easy, and they can’t imagine their lives without it. They may have an advantage here, as the benefits of exercise have been proven time and time again. For those not on their side of the fence, what I am suggesting is that you start off slow, no pressure, don’t even set a target. Just experiment and find what you enjoy. Experiment with Yoga, with Pilates, with Qigong, Zumba, Barre (ballet-inspired fitness class) boxing, the list is endless, or the more traditional running, walking, swimming, or cycling. Due to health reasons I have had to stop running and focus more on strengthening. I miss the runners high but am now enjoying the feeling of being stronger and this has opened my eyes to another world connecting me to focused breathing, control, and the power of the mind, interlinking the mind, body, and soul trinity.
A good diet is essential, I’m sure you can all attest to the fact that over the past few weeks working from home has not helped the diet, this is where having a healthy mind is going to come in – willpower. We really are what we eat. We are all aware of the benefits of healthy food. Try and remember them.
Feed your soul
When I pray for my 4-year-old son, I pray for protection of his mind, body, and soul as I think of his future and what may lie ahead in all 3 of these aspects. Whoever you may or not pray to, believe, or not believe in, guard your heart and soul. Feed it to grow and prosper whatever this may mean to you. There is no one rule fits all here, only you know what your soul needs and what makes it happy. Know your worth. If you need coaching or counselling in areas where you think you need this, reach out and get the help to be the perfect version of you.
A happy version. A healthy version. The best version!
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. Dr Wayne Dyer
Wise words from a great man and of extreme relevance in this current situation in which we find ourselves. An unsettling time of unchartered territory where we feel that we are standing in the corridor, waiting for a door to open, revealing the new way of life into which we will emerge.
COVID 19 has affected every one of our daily lives in many ways, and none have remained untouched. Our lives are no longer the same and this brings about opportunities for self-introspection and evolvement. We need to start looking at things differently, with fresh eyes, from a new angle, in other words, gain a new perspective. It can make the acceptance of our new way of life an easy transition.
What is perspective?
Perspective is the way we see life through our filters. A skill that we use to navigate our path, adding to our ever-growing subconscious library of reference. As humans, we have feelings and emotions associated with our experiences according to our make-up. Our view of one situation may be completely different from another person, yet both entirely correct as seen from their perspective.
Where to begin?
As with anything we wish to change, the first steps are recognition, acceptance and willingness to change. So, take a step back. Try to look at the situation objectively, as if you were a by-stander and do not allow your emotions to take over. If we observe from the outside, we can start to see it with fresh eyes, expand our thinking and bring in some new possibilities we may be willing to try. Decide on what you want to change and give it a go.
Some tools you can use
Sound too easy? I agree that sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees when you are in the situation, and at times there doesn’t seem to be a solution at hand besides the only one you can see. Take some time to sit with yourself in reflection and try one or two of the following methods.
Questioning – Ask a couple of people for their perspectives or solutions and ponder over them, trying to see things from a different angle.
Meditation – find a quiet place or time and go into deep thought around the subject. Note afterwards any changes you may have discovered.
Journaling – write about your thoughts and whatever ideas come into your head as you are doing this. Reflect on your writing afterwards and see if there is another viewpoint you can adopt.
Mind-mapping – either on paper or there are many mind-map apps out there you can explore and use to jot down your thoughts and see how they can expand, open and change.
Do things differently – even if it just starts with the way you approach your chores, your regular routes or your exercise routine. Changing things around physically can help you to shift thought patterns.
You have the power
You have the inner power to change how you view things around you, of forming new patterns and looking at life. It is not about changing who you are, but rather about your expansion and growth, so go ahead and treat yourself to a broadened perspective.
Self-awareness is essential to developing as a person because it allows you to do things mindfully instead of settling for whatever comes your way and personal development consists of conscious actions that one undertakes in order to become the best version of one’s own self. It’s an ongoing process of self-improvement either in your career, in your education, in your personal life, or in all of these areas. It is about setting goals for yourself and putting plans in place to reach those goals.
As you develop self-awareness you’ll find that it will help your personal development journey as well. The more you understand yourself and why you think, feel and do certain things, the more power you have to grow and succeed.
Keep in mind the following steps to personal growth:
Establish the goals you want to reach in all areas of your life
Look for the weaknesses that need improvement in order for you to reach these goals
Identify the different opportunities to develop the weaknesses
Set up your plan of action for improving the weaknesses
Make time for nurturing your strengths
Record the outcomes of your development
Evaluate your outcomes against your goals
The ability and desire to learn are powerful skills that can have a positive impact on many areas of your life. Learning can take place in a traditional sense through reading or studying, or in a more interpersonal sense through listening. Either way, it’s a crucial aspect of personal development.
Evaluate your life
Self-awareness is a key aspect of personal growth, so it’s important that you take some time to do a full evaluation of your life.
Why is self-awareness so powerful?
Because it helps you set and achieve your goals, make sound decisions, improve your people skills and relationships, and cultivate a sense of inner peace. Self-awareness can help you get anywhere you want in life as long as you know how to use it to your advantage.
As a self-aware individual, you will better understand your own thoughts, beliefs, motivations and emotions. Furthermore, you will better understand others. You will recognize how others perceive you, your attitude and your responses. Sometimes their views will surprise you, and in the business world this can be enlightening. If there is a discrepancy between how others perceive you and how you want to be perceived, you can work to rectify the problem.
In a nutshell
With our busy schedules it might be difficult to find time to think about who we are, our strengths and weaknesses, our drives and personalities, our habits and values. Besides, many of us just aren’t inclined to spend much time on self-reflection. Even when personal feedback is presented to us, we’re not always open to it, because honest feedback isn’t always flattering. Consequently, many of us have a pretty low level of self-awareness.
The journey of self-improvement is an ongoing process of constant learning. It gives you the opportunity to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and to work on them.