Category Archives: Self-improvement

5 Pieces of Good Advice for Sales People – from a gambler!

Yesterday I heard the song “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers on the radio (yes, we still have one).

In the years that I managed a sales team, I often used to quote from this song as it is such good advice for sales people. We often hang onto prospects because we have invested time and energy in them, and just believe that the product or solution we are offering is “so right” for the customer. Persistence and tenacity are fine qualities for a sales person, but sometimes we just don’t know that we should let go.

The refrain of the song goes (and it is advice to a poker player): “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run. You never count your money, when you’re sitting at the table, there’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done.”

Let’s unpack this and see how it relates to selling.

  1. You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em – These are the qualified prospects who are ready to buy. They have the budget and you are talking to the right people at the right time.  They are worth “holding” and putting the highest percentage of your effort into because the odds are high that you will close the deal.
  2. Know when to fold ‘em  – These are the “no, not now” prospects. They are not ready to buy yet, but will be at some time in the future. Put them on a “maintenance plan”, where you contact them regularly by sharing useful information, sending greetings for special occasions, and  calling them on an agreed to schedule to find out whether the situation has changed.
  3. Know when to walk away – These people are not going to buy from you in the foreseeable future – if ever!  Remember, these are usually nice people who don’t like saying “no”. Just don’t waste any of your time on them. You have to accept it and give up, although you can keep them on some a CRM system, that automatically stays in touch.
  4. Know when to run – As with those you walk away from, these people are not going to buy from you, but they are very good at wasting your time. They often want things for free and ask for favours. They are potentially damaging because they turn nasty when you stop agreeing to their one-sided requests. So they’ll waste your time, and drain your emotional energy, but always dangle the “one-day” carrot in front of you. Learn to run from these guys as soon and as fast as you can.
  5. You never count your money, when you’re sitting at the table, there’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done. – This last bit of advice is for when you are sitting in front of the prospect. You should be asking the right questions and listening to what they are saying to get a clear understanding of their needs. The you get agreement on the way forward. You should not be sitting there  figuring out what deal to offer to realize the highest commission. There will be time to do so when you have left the meeting and considered the solution that best meets your prospects needs.

I think this song and it’s application as advice for a sales person resonates with me because it is easy to remember,  if you know the song. If you don’t know the song, find it on YouTube and listen to it several times (it’s quite catchy so you’ll pick it up quickly). You might also want to learn a little about the game of poker if you have never played.

Think about the prospects you are working on. I’ll bet you will find  people who fit into the above categories. If you only have “Hold ’em” prospects, then you are very good at your job! Every time you start working a new prospect, decide whether you should hold, fold, walk away or run.  You’ll get a better return on your time, and have an odds-on chance of making your numbers.

Happy selling!

Confessions of a Yo-Yo dieter

Over the years I have lost my total current body weight. And then I go and put  it back on again, with interest. I have always been on the heavier side, and really like eating sweet things and drinking those glasses of pink wine. Funnily enough, I don’t like sweet drinks, but I love chocolate, cake and cookies.

My Mother was one of those naturally slender, although curvy, women. She never dieted a day in her life. My weight carrying genes come from my Father (thanks Daddy). If I could bottle my Husband’s metabolism, I would be a rich woman. He can – and does – eat whatever he likes, and just doesn’t put on weight. His weight has remained more or less constant since he was 18. Fortunately he loves me whatever shape and size I am, but he is always proud when I do lose the weight because he knows it makes me feel good about myself.

I could write a book on dieting. My journey has given me a lot of knowledge on good eating habits and what does and doesn’t work for me. What I do know is that I need a support system, and most of all I need the discipline of standing on the scale in front of someone else.

So let’s take a look at my ups and downs and back up again (maybe more like a roller coaster than a yo-yo now I think about it).

In my early 20’s I went to a Naturopath, who taught me to eat only healthy foods. The eating plan was quite hectic, and was more about getting healthy than losing weight. I did lose weight, but don’t remember how much.  I did learn a lot about how food relates to health.

A few years later I went to a French beautician who ran a weight loss program. A friend, who was getting married, went to her and lost weight quickly. As an interesting aside, this friend went to a dressmaker to get her wedding dress made. The Dressmaker told her to lose some weight and then come back again – almost as if she wasn’t prepared to make a dress and have it look less than perfect! The French beautician insisted I had a very “Chanel” figure, meaning I was the right shape but just needed to lose a few pounds. In those days I had a small waist and carried all my weight around my hips and thighs. She put me on a calorie reduced diet. I lost those few pounds but of course inexorably I found them again – with interest.

When my Husband and I started living together I put on a lot of weight. I guess it was contentment. We moved to Cape Town and the sight of a picture of me in a bikini was enough to motivate me to join Weigh-Less. The Weigh-Less eating plan is very useful in that it teaches a balanced diet. I was a real evangelist for a while, and even considered becoming a group leader, but at the time they only wanted women who did not work. I lost 19 kg’s in total, and kept much of it off for a few years, but slowly the weight crept back up. Anyone thinking of going to Weigh-Less should do so. It does work. Some of the Group Leaders are better than others: find another group if you don’t like yours. I have to say though that I did best with a group leader who did not seem to take to me – being as contrary as I am I think I was determined to prove to her that I could do it. I did try going back to Weigh-Less a few years later, but found I was bored.

Fast forward a few years, and having now regained all the weight I lost – plus interest, I joined Weight-Watchers. I really loved the flexibility of the eating plan and think that psychologically it’s really good to be in charge of your own eating, with tools to measure and control your daily and weekly intake.  Once again I lost approximately 19 kgs, once again I stopped going because I was bored, and true to form the number on the scalecrept back up.

I had a small flirtation with the Atkins Diet. Lost weight quickly, put it on – with interest – twice as fast.

In the early 2000’s, because I was downhill skiing annually at the time, I knew I had to be fit. I went to join the gym, and signed up for the Body for Life program. I have to say that it really worked for me. I never followed their eating program (but by now I did know how to eat LOL).  I was weighed and measured monthly, and the exercise regime was increased in intensity every month. Although it was necessary to go to gym six times a week, the programme only lasted 20 minutes at a time. So it was really easy to fit in, and once I was in the groove, I became very dedicated. When the program was over, I signed up for a Personal Trainer, but eventually I just did not have the money or the motivation to continue.

In 2008 I hit an all-time high weight-wise and for the first time my blood pressure was higher than usual, my cholesterol count a little worrying, and after eating my way around Milan, the time had come for drastic action. A friend introduced me to a dietician who helped me to detoxify first, and then put me on a low GI diet. Five meals a day and no carbohydratess allowed after lunch. I also learned what foods my body does not tolerate. The great thing was the dietitian measured me as well as checking weight, BMI and body fat percentage. I really got into the zone and once again lost 19 kgs (what is it about this number?).  Moreover, apart from having a too thin face, my body was probably a better shape than I had been for a long time (no more thunder thighs)  I stopped my visits just over a year ago, and despite knowing exactly how I should be eating, I am gaining centimeters around my stomach, hips and thighs at a scary rate.  Part of the problem is that I work from home building my business, and so don’t get nearly enough exercise. I joined the gym again last year, but have now acknowledged that I really don’t enjoy gym – this means I always find excuses not to go.

There is a saying in weight-loss circles “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”. I don’t believe this – if it was the case I would simply stay thin!

I decided to write this in the hope that I would learn something about myself, and maybe help others do the same. At the very least, many women out there will know they are not alone. After thinking about and writing the piece, what I now know for sure is:

  • As you grow older, it gets harder and harder to shift the weight. And each time you lose and then gain, you gain a little bit more.
  • When I am motivated to lose weight and shape up, I really do “get with the program”. In fact, I realize that I probably bore my friends going on about my latest diet and how well it is working for me. I become a bit fanatical. I bet they all have a quiet laugh as I grow larger. I do have a sense of letting people down, but it’s not enough to keep me on the straight and narrow..
  • As my GP pointed out, all of these weight-loss programs do work. It’s the motivation that is difficult.
  • I get bored easily (I already know this about myself). This is why I never go back to the same program.
  • Gym is not for me, I need to find a dance class because I love dancing.
  • I need a support system.
  • As much as I enjoy online communities the commitment level is not the same. Although maybe if I ran such a community I would be conscious of needing to be an example.

I need to find the next viable weight-loss program and then “keep it off”. If I could find a weight-loss coach who could also be any exercise buddy, that might help. The Coach would have to challenge me an keep me stimulated. Any suggestions or volunteers?

(I’m also trying to get into the habit of writing – the experts say “Just write anything to get into the habit”. So this is me doing just thaT)

Charged by a gift book

Have you ever noticed how things come to you at the time you most need them? This happened to me recently when I received Brendon Burchard’s new book “The Charge” – but let me give you some background first.

I follow Brendon and receive his e-mail newsletter. I can’t quite remember what I had to do to receive his new book, but do know that it was something simple like a Like on Facebook or a retweet. I was a little sceptical about receiving the book – after all, I live in Cape Town, South Africa, and wondered whether the offer would be honored when there are additional costs. It’s one thing to get an e-book for free, but an actual hard copy of a book? But because I have a deep love of books – developmental and fiction – I thought there was no harm in giving it a go. So I did the necessary, and forgot all about it.

So receiving the actual book was like receiving a belated Birthday present – not only getting the book but realizing that honourable men like Brendon do exist And it came to me at a time when I knew I needed to make some changes in my life from a professional perspective. I am far from finished with the book, because it’s not something you simply read – if you want to change your life there is work to be done, and I am going to do it.

Yesterday there was a lively discussion about Leadership on Skills-Universe (www.skills-universe.com), prompted by the death of  Professor Tobias. As I was engaged in the discussion I found a paragraph in “The Charge” about competence and leadership, which I duly posted because it was so appropriate to the discussion.

So “The Charge” is a gift that keeps on giving! For more information about the book and it’s author go to http://www.brendonburchard.com, or maybe just go to Amazon and buy the book! You won’t be sorry.