I found this article on Promokitchen and thought I would share.. Some ideas we have talked about in previous posts, but worth a mention!


What’s the most important trait in a salesperson?



The following article was written by Steve Pons, vice president – national sales, at Accolade Promotion Group (APG), a division of Golf Town Canada Inc.

We all agree that good people are what differentiate a good business from an exceptional business. Jim Collins’ widely read book Good to Great talks a lot about getting the “right people on the bus” and the “wrong people off the bus.”

But what I find myself often struggling with is accurately identifying who the “right people” truly are.

This is nothing new. Companies spend a ton of time and energy on evaluating talent and determining if potential employees have the proper skills and are the right fit culturally. We all know about candidate filtering methods such as the Zappos’ famous “Offer” that actually pays people to quit before they start. We also know of many companies that ask people to complete a questionnaire to see if their aptitudes and personality traits match the values and personality of the organization. (At APG, we utilize such a tool in combination with getting people to meet several colleagues and managers throughout the business to see if there is a good fit)

Even with employee screening and interesting sociological methods such as “The Offer” companies still say their number one challenge is finding and retaining the right people…the best people.

I used to believe that the only indicator for someone being successful in any business was if they were well organized and if they displayed a confidence in themselves, what they were talking about, what their passion was, etc. I’ve realized however that those are only the traits that appear when someone has a much more important quality: Self-Awareness.

When reading stories about business success involving people such as Isadore SharpTony HeishJeff Bezosand Warren Buffet, all of them in my mind have one consistent trait. They are very self-aware and adapt their business approach to not only their client audience but to those who work with them or for them.

Over the years, I’ve seen a handful of people in the corporate merchandise services business (all of whom I would classify as successful) adapt their style to suit a variety of situations: C-level client conversations, asking team members to work extra hours to meet a deadline and negotiating win-win results with challenging clients or suppliers. In each circumstance the person was not only aware of who they were speaking with and what they were trying to achieve but also how to diffuse tension, instil confidence and make the other party feel comfortable that the salesperson was in control of the situation.

As Matt Dixon speaks of in his book The Challenger Sale, customers respond to confidence and integrity. Salespeople that are confident in sharing what they know (and how that will bring real value to the client’s business) and have the integrity to admit where they are not experts often win over sales reps that unilaterally say “we can do anything!” A self-aware salesperson identifies their shortcomings and proactively seeks out ways to either learn what they feel they should know or to ask others to be a resource for them. They seek to become a greater expert to help teach their clients and provide real insights they may not have considered.

Gone are the days that salespeople could use their greater knowledge of the products, supply chain, partnerships, etc. to demand a higher price. Clients can (and do) all their research often before the sales interaction starts. Virtually every sales rep has already seen this transition in our business over the last 5 years. A self-aware rep has recognized and adapted to this change and has evolved their approach. They seek out guidance and coaching when presented with any challenge but don’t rely on training to be provided by the organization before they take action.

In short, many people may pride themselves on being excellent judges of character and indeed many of you may have had excellent success in hiring and developing talent. But I offer you this test: ask your salespeople to rank their strengths and weaknesses while you independently do the same for them. How do you feel both results would compare? In my experience the reps with the greatest alignment with their manager’s assessment are usually the most successful. (In fact, they are often harder on themselves than their managers are on them!)

While many in the promotional products business feel that growing their salesforce (with a book of business the rep brings with them of course) is their best way to success, I would take an eager self-aware salesperson any day of the week.

Bonus link: Why hasn’t “The Offer” caught on in business?

Published in Benchmark Blog

 An interesting video describing the Universal Principles of Persuasion based on the research of Dr. Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University.  He describes six distinct principles in the science of persuasion.

·        Reciprocity (which we’ve talked about before)

·        Scarcity (the idea that people place a higher value on something they get less of)

·        Authority (what makes you credible?)

·        Consistency (getting people to commit)

·        Liking (finding commonalities, similar interests)

       ·        Consensus (Benefits of doing something your way)

Published in Benchmark Blog
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 17:14

Reciprocity- Our Business Buzz Word of the Year!

By definition it means given, or felt by each other toward the other, as in mutual respect, or corresponding, matching, complimentary, equivalent.  It’s an adjective, so it conveys action.  And why is it important?  Because in business, as in everyday life, it can mean the difference between success and failure.  It’s about letting your customer’s know, through your actions, that they are important to you.

As a personal example, I have started bringing coffee in for some of my co-workers on Friday mornings as a sort of “we survived another work week” celebration.  I get the coffee at a Starbuck’s that is a little bit out of my way (yes, I know there is usually one on every corner) but this one is not along my usual travel route.  The reason I go to this one in particular is because the barista’s at this location have made it a point to remember my name, my usual order, and they even put smiley faces on my cup!  Now, it may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it makes me, as a customer feel like a VIP, so I am a loyal patron there every Friday morning.  The point is, making a customer feel special doesn’t necessarily involve some grand complex gesture, sometimes it simply means answering the phone with a smile, or remembering a person’s name without having to ask twice.  These are small gestures that can go a long way towards eliciting a positive response from the receiver, namely, developing a long standing relationship with a client or customer.


Not Only Meeting, But Exceeding Expectations!

Many of us are familiar with the company Zappos, at least most women will be.  They are an online store that specializes in shoes and clothing, and they have become extremely successful the past several years, despite the fact that they do very little advertising.  The key to their success?  Word of mouth.  I personally learned about them through a couple of friends who had made purchases, and both told me that they were pleasantly surprised by the expedited shipping, with items being delivered within a day or two of purchase.  In fact, Zappos often gives surprise free upgrades to overnight shipping for customers, though their website reports that delivery will take two to five business days.  Talk about under promising and over delivering!  Another noted example of their stellar customer service was when a woman called to return a pair of boots for her husband because he died in a car accident.  The next day, she received a flower delivery, which the call center rep had billed to the company without checking with her supervisor.  It is examples like these that explain why Zappos has become so successful, and why 75% of it’s business is from repeat customers.


The moral of the story may seem obvious, but in a world where most individuals have an abundance of options when it comes to purchases, these examples show that sometimes even small kindnesses matter, and that even one small act of goodwill can mean the difference between a one- time purchase, or gaining a customer for life.

Published in Benchmark Blog
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