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A Sales Masterclass on a Portuguese Street

Just last week my wife and I were having a break in Lisbon, Portugal. One evening, as we ate dinner at a street restaurant, we witnessed something of a masterclass in sales.
Philippe was busy drumming up trade in a bustling area of the city where there were literally 10’s of restaurants scattered around the streets. (Competition)
Not phased at all by the competition our man smiled and greeted each potential customer, politely asking if they wanted to look at the nicely designed menu, whilst walking alongside them. (Presentation)
The slightest hint of acknowledgement and he began to sell. (Buying signals)
If the pitch wasn’t being too well received, out came the small glasses for a complimentary shot of a local brew. (Incentive)
The law of probability them kicked in; he knew if the potential customers took the shot he had them reeled in. (Tactics)
Charming as he was, he knew his menu very well and easily answered any question pleasantly. (Product Knowledge)
He was not alone and worked as part of a group.  One cheeky observation was when his colleague thought he had a couple interested; Philippe bent down to tie his lace, blocking the pathway to allow a little more time for the pitch to complete, which turned out to be successful. (Team work)
He knew at a glance who was definitely not interested and those who may be. He didn’t waste time on the cold shoulder, he just moved on to the next challenge. (Resilient)
It was interesting to note that Philippe’s restaurant was the busiest on the street. It was also amusing to watch while we enjoyed the food and this live entertainment.
Of course we were watching because he had reeled us in just a little earlier. (Closing the deal)

Keeping good people engaged

Like it or not, even the best of people can become unsettled in the workplace.  This includes those who are considered to be 'part of the furniture.'

What causes a person then to become unsettled?

Believe it or not, in my experience a lot of unsettling comes down to listening.  Giving people a good listening to, is key to engagement.  Good people are usually the quiet ones.  They just get on with the job and don't make much fuss, but as a result they can easily be taken for granted at senior level.

Another contributor is appraisal, that controversial term that often makes people uneasy for all the reasons you might expect. Regardless what a person's experience has been, one thing is certain; each member of staff has the right to be heard by any progressive organisation.  Whether it's a structured sit down or an informal chat over a cup of tea, it's good practice to meet with the people to hear their outlook on life in the company.  Giving staff members opportunity to express their views is actually very liberating - believe it or not.

Of course, there are those who stay clear of this because they think it's an opportunity for a moan, or to be hit with a bunch of awkward questions. What they don't consider however, is that the moaning may be going on behind their back anyhow, so it's best to front up and snuff out rumours and frustrations directly.

When staff members are listened to, they perform better.  Not only do they perform better, but they become engaged and are present.  Those who don't get listened to, may be present (i.e. physically) but are often not engaged.

Managing relationships

The term 'Relationship Management' usually refers to external customers and suppliers, but managing relationships internally is a different thing all together.  How we regard and behave towards each other on a day to day basis paints a very real picture indeed.

It's where influence and inspiration co-exist. It's where we develop others, recognise needs and identify barriers.  It's where conflict appears, because like it or not, that's how us humans are wired. Finally, there is the team and how we build team spirit and encourage collaboration.

Managing relationships is an essential part of day-to-day business.

Daniel Goleman once said, 'The fundamental task of leaders is to prime good feeling in those they lead.'

When managing relationships (internally) it's always useful to ask ourselves two simple questions:

  1.  How am I doing?
  2.  What do I need to change?



Feeling ready is overrated

It we waited until we felt qualified, or ready to do something big, we'd never move.  There are times in life when we have to push the boat out, even though we don't really know how to navigate it at the time.  So often we hesitate because we don't feel ready, or we don't know enough, or even we wonder are we able to do it at all.

I don't know about you but I think we all work through thoughts like these.  Of course a lot of this thinking can come from how we've been conditioned in life, often through our formative years.  We may have heard too many times the quip, 'Sure you could never do that,' or 'You'll not amount to much.'

The capacity of a human being is immense and that includes all of us.  There are countless examples of people rising to take up a challenge, overcome a serious obstacle, or achieve what seemed impossible at the outset.

Hindsight is also a wonderful thing.  I often like to think when facing a challenge that it will be good to look back at it in about 6 months or a years time. Then I smile thinking I'll be saying, 'what was all the fuss about,' as has been the case on countless occasions.

Feeling ready is overrated.  If we wait until 'we think' we're ready, we'll never move.  So today, if you're looking at a new opportunity, or a new yet formidable looking challenge, get going because you'll learn along the way.

You'll look back at it in the future and smile, probably saying to yourself something like, 'Why didn't I do that years ago.'