As a passionate stationery enthusiast I love nothing more than scouting trade shows and events for new, up and coming designers and scoping out the fresh product launches from some of my favourite brands. Although technology sometimes takes over our lives, it is clear the love for all things stationery has not subsided as consumers continue to seek fashion-led paper products that we see constantly being blogged or instagrammed.
Here are 5 stationery brands and designers to watch out for…
This beautiful collection of greeting cards combines the stunning photo art created by Helena Christensen with an environmentally friendly philosophy. The cards are created with 100% recycled paper, printed using only vegetable ink and packaged in 100% bio-degradable plastic wrapping. A great combination of Danish design, sustainability and heartfelt messages. The unusual but intriguing mix of rusticity with pretty florals is perfect for this coming season!
Studio Sweet and Sour is a Dutch design studio who create wonderful stationery and gifts that are out of the ordinary. Their aim is to make things fun and to put a smile on your face (it definitely worked for me). They have a big love for detail and pay as much attention to the inside as they do the outside including interesting metallic foiling and neon edging. With contemporary colour combinations and exciting surface finishes; this is a product collection your don’t want to miss!
I love this award winning brand… Men’s society is your one stop shop for stylish and quality gifts designed specifically for men. They source unusual, quirky and classic items that will never date but rather improve with age and use. Many of their products are handmade using only the finest tools; this connects perfectly with our Analogue Workshop Trend for 2017. I will no longer struggle to buy presents for the men in my family!
Launched in 2011, this brand aims to bring quirky illustrated products to the mass market. This modern collective is made up of many unique illustrators who create anything from homeware to stationery and everything in-between. I particularly loved the dark floral notebooks designed by Susan Castillo, it fits perfect with our Heathland Trend for this coming winter.
Katie Leamon is a luxury card and stationery brand based in London, their family run production studio is based in the English Countryside where they design, create and deliver beautiful, hand finished collections of original paper products. The collection can be found at Selfridges, Anthropologie and Harrods.
Top 5 Tips for Stationery Product Photography for your social media
Lighting – Get the light right and you’re nearly there, it doesn’t need to be sunny you can set your scene near a window and create softness with a curtain or a sheet.
Set the Scene – To shoot lifestyle, shoot detail, shoot wide – make sure you shoot a mix of ways to capture the scene adding some lifestyle elements that compliement your asethetic.
Details – It’s all in the detail, look at the scene you’ve set – does it work? If not tweak.
Edit – Use free editing software to edit pictures.
For further stationery inspiration see our 2017 Stationery Trend Report; includes great ideas and inspiration for stationery designers and manufacturers, whilst also being superb stock purchase & merchandising guidance for retailers. Don’t forget to follow our ‘All Things Stationery‘ Pinterest board for the latest trend direction.
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Mention Trend Forecasting to most people and the majority are unsure what it’s about; and those that have heard of it, well they mostly associate it simply with pattern and colour.
But, to use it so, is to almost completely waste the true value a good consumer & interiors product Trend Forecaster can add to a company’s success. There are very few business tools available that, if used well, are guaranteed to improve business performance, no matter how you measure that. The more broadly the Trend research information is integrated into a company’s activities, the greater the performance improvement will be. A results and performance uplift might be seen in production as design costs reduce, PR success increases as content marketing is improved, product ranges can be smaller and the number of ‘slow-moving lines’ reduced; sales will increase as product & service offers better match the wants, needs & desires of your customers. The story telling and content meets the same degree of success in both B2C and B2B sectors. All of this ultimately leads to better profits.
Yes, our Trend Forecasting for the interiors market will do all of that!
The biggest, most valuable resource that Scarlet Opus Trend forecasting gives to a product development team, manufacturer, retailer, interior designer or marketing strategy is…. ‘TIME’. The pressure on all of the business teams in any company, is significantly reduced because our trend research extends the time in which the total business cycle has, to be completed. No need to ‘spot trends’ at an exhibition(s), hope you’re right & then rush to bring your version of a product/service to market before the trend diminishes; engage with Trend Forecasting which will provide you with the same inspiration 12 – 18 months ahead of that exhibition being visited. You’ll gain more as you’ll also gain trend/consumer back stories to build your content marketing; you’ll get specific material, pattern, texture, shape & colour guidance as well as being able to explain ‘why’ this will all match with future consumer desires.
Trend Forecasting for interiors will give you a detailed view of those consumer desires up to 2 years in advance of the point at which your product should be brought to market. 2 YEARS! As a general view this could be increased to 5 years.
Imagine knowing the detail of what your customers will desire in 2 years’ time and knowing with certainty.
Research shows that company employees work more efficiently when they are relaxed & confident. Designers are more creative, salespeople convert more sales & PR events run more smoothly. If the risk associated with New Product Development or Services development is significantly reduced; your staff can focus on creating the best PR, producing excellent content marketing, targeted marketing support materials and preparing, rehearsing and enacting sales presentations that will demonstrate to buyers how well your company understands what consumers want and will pay to get.
Dr. Robert Passikoff (Founder of Brand Keys) says of 2014:
Consumers Expect More: Over the past five years, consumer expectations have increased on average by 20%. But brands have kept up only by 5% annually, a big gap between what’s desired and what’s delivered. The ability to accurately measure real, unarticulated expectations will provide significant advantages to brands that can engage and delight.
This describes beautifully, the gap that consumer, business & design Trend Forecasting will fill for any company. Why then aren’t more companies engaging with Trend Forecasting? The answer might lie in these 2 thoughts:
It requires taking, quite a’ leap of faith’ to engage with someone who tells you that they can ‘see your future in detail & with certainty’!
It’s possible that Creatives see Trend Forecasting agencies as an external design source; instead of an external design resource.
Trend analysts, spotters, reporters, colour & trend consultants all play valuable roles; but only a Trend Forecaster can create so much time and:
Inspire design teams to create products in materials with textures, patterns & colours that the consumer will want to buy. It’s global social, political, cultural & natural events that influence how humans behave & want to surround themselves with.
Inform sales teams how to support product presentations with trend information that will help buyers to choose their products to meet consumer demand.
Give Marketing teams an understanding of what caused a trend to emerge & how the consumer will feel as a result. Excellent content marketing will follow and help to leverage consumer marketing by suppliers of complimentary products.
Identify which trends specifically suit a company and its product offer/sector; enabling a more focused product offer to be developed. A trend forecaster will identify which trend next year is best suited to ‘Bathroom’, or ‘Dining’?
It’s crucial to identify trends for interiors that have longevity giving manufacturing/sourcing teams the opportunity to optimise production planning.
Produce inspirational PR events especially for the trade press always hungry for future trend information. ‘Expert’ endorsement is gaining traction with consumers over ‘celebrity’ endorsement.
Design exhibition stands reflecting ‘future trend themes’ making them stand out and provide a unique ‘visitor experience’.
Assist buyers translate Trend research into design briefs for manufacturing partners; or buying guidance for retailers.
There is so much value that Trend Forecasting adds to a company’s activities in all areas that it needn’t actually, even include the obvious product development. A business with a ‘fixed’ product design can still be more successful marketing it’s products within the framework of consumer wants, needs and desires.
It’s realistic to engage a good Trend Forecaster with the expectation that sales revenues will increase by double digit percentages, with a similar reduction in relative costs.
It’s as if seminars, speeches and conferences are the ‘in way’ to attract new business today and that must be inducing a lot of stress in a lot of people.
Or has the celebrity culture made the proliferation of such opportunity a ready-made platform for fame?
Are there a mass of us in the wings, just waiting to be given the chance to stand at the podium, on the stage, or just ‘at the front’ with a ready-made, captive audience at whom we can now speak about ‘something’?
Some years ago, as I was just starting my time with the Mars group, it terrified me to learn that each month I’d be expected to make a presentation to the area management team about my own team’s results and forecast.
There were only 10/13 people in the room, I knew all of them really well, they had to do it too, they felt nervous as well. The only one of us that didn’t, was the ‘smug one’ who for that month was top of the sales league. It wasn’t that he/she had acquired excellent public speaking & presentation skills along with the sales result – just that they could at this time get away with murder, wearing their protective coat of ‘achievement’!
In the years that have followed I’ve been given lots of advice about ‘How to Present/Speak Publicly’, attended perhaps 15 courses on the subject (each one run by a world expert of course), and see the same advice/training all over the web even now.
What surprises me then, is the general standard of presentations and public speakers that I now go to see and listen to. Who am I to talk you ask? Well, I am not putting myself forward as the world’s best in this area, but I can still read, and do, all of the advice, notes, training books, and web content at my disposal. It’s easy to then evaluate the offerings against all of this.
Have you experienced any of these presentation/public speaking gaffes:
The presenter stands in front of the screen on which is displayed information I should see
The text on the slides is so detailed I can’t read it.
The colours used make it tough to read, they clash, are weak, don’t match the context.
I don’t believe it – he/she is reading the slide to me!
“Well, 10 minutes in and I haven’t a clue what it’s about.”
Should I take notes or will there be hand outs?
When should I ask my question?
Crikey, 30 mins gone, how long is it going on for? I wish he/she’d said, I’ve got to go.
This presenter didn’t have a clear idea of what they wanted me to take away from this.
Please. Please don’t hop around like that, stay still…just for a bit.
Too many people it seems to me, are placing themselves in front of audiences as the expert in their field without having given much thought to what expertise they have in the actual subject of making a presentation. It might just be me but I then can’t help but focus on what is not good about the presentation itself rather than focusing on learning something of value from a person who most likely really knows their stuff.
What a waste for us both!
Now, before you switch off thinking that I will now preach the ‘Dreamweaver’s Guide to the Perfect Presentation’, don’t, because I’m not. There are some really good tips and training documents on the subject available for free via Google. And as usual, there are already lots of people out there who can’t actually do it, but will sell you some training for you to be good at it.
What I will move onto is to express some more ‘views of an audience member’ as I have masses of experience as one. But before I do, let me say that if you want any tips on how to prepare, deliver, and then improve your skills in this area, for goodness sake send Victoria or Shelley an email requesting as such (email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org). They have delivered dozens of seminars around the world (literally), never have a spare seat in the house, and always get excellent feedback. Of course, they did have the opportunity to learn from an excellent trainer!
Now, consider this when you are in the position of delivering a presentation or speech next time…firstly, all the points I mentioned above, they are very annoying habits and will detract from your event. Now from the stalls I say this:
“Are we in the right room? I haven’t heard a single word about how to effectively sell to women … have you?”
Did you need to wear that? It’s all I can concentrate on.
If all you have to say is word for word what’s on the slide, please be quiet, I’m reading!
Is this presentation delivering what it promised, or am I in the wrong room?
Why is the presenter looking at the screen instead of us, doesn’t he/she know what’s coming up either!?
That must be industry jargon, I’ve no idea what it meant; am I the only one?
LOL I bet they wish they’d checked all the equipment before now!
Public speaking can be such a powerful way in which to engage with prospective clients, or entertain existing clients; they are a great way in which to establish credentials as an industry expert – the ‘go to’ industry expert; they can significantly increase your profile, confidence, and popularity.
Public speaking can also make you the last person that people go to listen to in less time than your speech takes to make.
If you go to the trouble of seeing & hearing your presentation / speech as your audience will, then you stand a great chance of it, and you, being a success.
…and, if you have any time & coffee left, here is a double ‘Dreamweaver Bonus’ for you. A brilliant video of how to make a great presentation, and excellent advice on how to be creative; starring John Cleese.
This brilliant example was brought to my attention by my US buddy ‘Whittemore’! Also a tower of knowledge for anyone. Follow her on Twitter @CBWhittemore & check out her website www.simplemarketingnow.com
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No matter what business you are in, Customers are key to your success; keeping your existing customers satisfied, and winning new customers for the long-term is not hard. However, it does demand from you consistency of a high degree of effort to make sure that you understand how they live, what the pressures on them are, and what problems these pressures may bring. If you develop a good understanding of this then you have an even better chance of knowing what solutions you provide for one, or more, of the problems they have.
Whilst I would dearly love to be able to give you a detailed plan of action here, that’s not possible without knowledge of your specifics. However, we can provide the basis of a thought process and some information from our trend research that will set you off on the right path.
Stating the blindingly obvious, but making a point that many seem to forget: Stop thinking like an Interior Designer, a procurement expert, a salesperson, a Managing Director … stop thinking like a business person. When we talk about ‘the consumer’, ‘the customer’ – who is that? That’s right, it’s you and me! There isn’t another group of humans doing the buying whilst we are the ones in business – think like YOU when you are a consumer/customer. If it isn’t good enough, clear enough, or value enough for you then it won’t be for your customers, no matter how much cost it saves you/additional benefits it gives your business.
Last year we worked with Le Creuset on a review of their collections for the Spring/Summer 2012 season, as well as taking a look ahead at their developments for Autumn/Winter 2012/13. Established in 1925, Le Creuset have been making world-class cookware for almost 100 years, innovation remains at the forefront of their success. They are a company that understands colour and the ways in which it can “transform an environment, create a style, set a mood, and alter perceptions”. Recognised for their superior range of enamelled cast iron cookware, they have a wonderful range of fantastic shades available and below you can see how you can work the season’s luxury glamour trend in the kitchen.
Think brushed metallics and subtle shimmer; work with malachite green to create a liquid emerald effect, teal and dark sapphire, exquisite galaxy purples and a pure amethyst, with a deep, intense burgundy.
The policies of austerity implemented by Governments across the world have forced consumers to re-evaluate what they need, how much they need, and how they spend the money available to them. Our research has for the past couple of years identified a consumer trend to buy less ‘stuff’, de-clutter their lives, and to invest in better quality, longer lasting pieces that actually enhance their lives in some way. For your business to achieve an order today, it is much more likely that your ‘solution’ is solving a specific problem rather than fulfilling a gratuitous desire.
I can’t put this better myself and so I won’t try:
“Customers, especially female customers, buy solutions, not products or services. This is particularly true in complex categories and where the investment is significant — such as Home furnishings and white goods. Solutions require thinking about the world our customers live in and stepping away from our day-to-day worries and product concerns and into their world.”
Here are some thoughts to open your mind to spending time quietly (yet seriously) considering this subject objectively, in detail, and using your customer’s eyes.
Expanding business with your existing customers is easier and less costly than opening business with new customers.
An introduction to new customers, from existing customers, is the most cost-effective way of finding new ones.
New customers found in this way always results in new business eventually.
Taking ‘new products’ to ‘new customers’ tops the league table in degree of difficulty and in cost per sale.
‘Offering a wide range of products, or services, will ensure that you secure most orders’ – our trend research over the past 3 years indicates that this is a myth of the past. Today’s customers just want to be taken to the best value for money solution to solve their problem. Showing them fewer, more pertinent solutions will achieve higher conversion rates of enquiries to orders.
Lakeland are another of our valued clients and a company we’ve been working with for many seasons now. They have a very clear understanding of who their customer is and work hard to develop the right product for them. Early last year we created a bespoke report detailing the Spring/Summer 2012 styles that will emerge as focus shifts to Britain’s key events this year i.e. the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Great Exhibition, and the Olympics. We’re thrilled to see their latest range now available, in celebration of the Jubilee, including fabulously on-trend crown motifs in an elegant palette of deep blue and a rich royal red, and a very patriotic street party collection including napkins, cake stands, and cupcake wrappers.
What are some of the ‘living’ trends that our research has given evidence for that might impact on your customer retention and acquisition actions?
Cost is driving consumers to use less energy (gasoline, electricity, gas, water etc.) and this is leading/will lead to our living in smaller spaces.
Across the world there is a faster, more consistent migration of population to urban areas increasing the pressure on space and resulting in less need for individual transport.
Communication tools/methods have increased the use of public transport systems allowing people increased time to do what they want and be more available to each other.
This communication revolution has by default, increased our desire for ‘convenience’ not just in products, but in life. For the purposes of this exercise you might read ‘How easy is it to…’ in lieu of ‘convenience’ e.g. How easy is it to find your business? How easy is it to do business with your company?
When you consider value for money – do you include convenience in your thinking?
Blatant and permanent ‘Sales’ no longer provide the attraction they once did. Your customers want to know much more about what they are buying than ever before and price no longer covers the sins of a product/service/business.
Consumers want to know more about what they purchase than ever before and back stories to you, your business, and where the products come from are very desirable.
Product or service personalisation (not necessarily bespoke), can also be evidenced in consumer trends as a desire.
So back to the beginning, do you offer your customers solutions to problems?
The wonderful technicalities and engineering intricacies of your offer are of no relevance unless you can describe them in a way that everyone can understand them and there is, in the customer’s view, a tangible benefit, of significance, to that customer.
For example: it could be said that there is nothing more beautiful than a Ferrari, nothing more luxurious than a Rolls Royce, nothing faster than a Bugatti, or better engineered than a BMW. But all that aside, each of them must travel at the legal speed limit and each will only go from A to B – as does a Renault Clio. So the sellers of these products must think hard about what issues/problems/needs they solve for their customers that the alternatives don’t.
In 2011 we presented our trends to the team at InterfaceFLOR who have brilliantly captured the attention of their customers by creating a F A B U L O U S collection of short films that truly epitomise the dark and twisted fairytale aesthetic.
So what can you do to keep existing customers and win new ones?
Be easy to find. Provide solutions to satisfy real problems in our lives. Be easy to deal with. Offer value for money. Offer less but offer pertinent solutions. Provide the product/service back story. Be Kind, open, honest, and transparent. Above all, ENGAGE with your customers at every opportunity in a genuine and encompassing way. Bring your customers into your business and open yourself up to them.
That isn’t supposed to be an exhaustive list of the right steps to take – just a start to get your mind working and your meetings buzzing!
As always, I’d be absolutely delighted to hear about your experiences in this activity, your opinions about this posting, any ideas you have that might be better than, or add value to, mine. Most of all, I would love to be able to help further so feel free to seek more information, clarification, or simply ask a question about a customer issue you could do with another view on. Leave your comments by hitting the comment button at the top of this posting or email me at email@example.com
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In our final posting of the week in celebration of International Womens Day we have a posting for men by our Dreamweaver – Phil – on Selling To Women:
Men like Stop Lights & Women prefer Roundabouts!
Get a Big Cat she said!
“The 1st thing perhaps to state is that what you are about to read is the humble opinion & experience of 1 man only and is not intended to offend anyone, or to be anything more than something for you to consider. Some of the opinion and ideas offered are derived from generalisations of specific experiences – now is that clear boys!? After all, how can you take seriously a guy whose job title is ‘Dreamweaver’! They are opinions from a man’s viewpoint about how to successfully engage with women in business and maybe a little in life. During International Womens Day celebrations, an event we don’t have, we (men) need all the help we can get at a time when the smarter anyway sex, feel at their strongest because they really know how to use ‘group power’ in a way we don’t even realise exists!
In general (as I said) when it comes to any sort of work environment, men & women see themselves in some sort of competition. Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, men of all ages will allow their reactions toward women in business to be influenced on some level and to some degree; by the ideas placed into our heads as a result of the evolutionary process. And not to be completely exonerated, women (in general) will be ‘on guard’ for the same reason. In today’s world we all (I know I do) like to think that we have gone beyond this and to a very large and positive degree we have. But here’s the thing that I have learned – women have learned how to cope with the situation and then use it much more than men have, or probably ever will. Particularly when it comes to a sales/purchasing activity. In fact, when you think about it, almost every business activity we conduct uses the skills necessary in these 2 roles. Managing a person requires influencing their behaviour and actions and in doing so selling ideas and solutions to them. We need in business to negotiate something with someone every day. It is not only when with suppliers or clients that this is done. So in most respects women are very good in these areas because we men have over decades forced them to negotiate/sell/contract in almost every aspect of their lives. Our (men’s) only advantage left (not a great word but for now the best I could think of) is that not all of them have realised this yet!
I have spent all of my adult working life (being very young that’s not so long!) learning about people in order that I can improve my abilities to sell, manage & develop them in business. At the age of 18 a great guy and mentor to me – Graham Petty – gave me a gift one Christmas; a copy of Dale Carnegie’s book How To Win Friends & Influence Peopleand being a man I read the 6 principles in it and then took the next couple of decades to accept that Dale was right! The most important skill required in business, if not in life, is found in this book. In general men, and oddly in particular salesmen, are not very good at this skill even though they think that they are. Women however, seem to have a natural flair and ability for it even when they are talking! What is it I hear you ask – it is LISTENING. So if you want to be good at selling to women then you have to get on board double quick with the idea that you have 2 ears and 1 mouth and at the very least should use them in that proportion.
In dealing with the modern woman in business you must have a high degree of confidence, excellent knowledge of your subject, a good memory and flexibility. Now I will tell you why this is my opinion.
In general women spot weaknesses readily and seem to then place them to one side without feeling the need to exploit them. But they have this knack of letting you know (when they are ready) that they have spotted this but will not exploit it. Have a guess what that does to the weakness? Men also spot weaknesses, but we are a little blunt, quick and basic in our attempts to then highlight the weakness as we see it as a competition (irrelevant of whether we are speaking to a man or a woman). Guess what this induces in our opponent – the same weakening of the weakness that a woman can induce? Nope! An aggressive gladiatorial defence mechanism – well done guys, way to go!
Some guys (well most actually) when engaging with women in business suddenly experience/develop an infant like understanding of our language. Confidence is quickly confused with arrogance, know–it-all and condescension in the misguided belief this will impress a woman or ‘show her how it’s done’ – oops!
So development a quiet and reassuring confidence about yourself, your business and your role before engaging with a woman.
Men like to be sold to, or to believe that they have made a buying decision – you see to us it is all a competition no matter who we are dealing with. It is a challenge, a game however the process is described we see it as something to win. A woman simply doesn’t. She wants a fair and equitable deal where she feels comfortable that the process was beneficial to both parties. In fact, in general, women are prepared to come out of the ‘deal’ slightly worse off than those she engages with as long as it feels good for all and she in essence achieves her goal. How dangerous is that? What this all means is that to conduct business successfully with a woman, you must simply provide information of a high quality in a truthful way and then wait and listen for the questions. A woman will lead you to the sales you seek without the ‘combat zone’ that as men we believe is an essential part of the process. Remember 2 key facts: Women will inherently distrust a man until he demonstrates he is trustworthy. Men generally give men the benefit of the doubt and so we are not expecting the reverse and so may not take the right opening shots. Women will inherently not believe marketing messages but will look for confirmation. Men? Well how many of us challenge a Ferrari advert before we have decided that we just want to drive it?
So develop a thorough knowledge of your subject in order to be able to supply any information requested about it – if you do not know never try to ‘flannel’ a woman – they have built-in radar for that, thanks to our actions over 100’s of years!
A simple short subject (especially as you get older!). In a group women discuss things but not with any particular structure or in any particular order. Men like order, straight lines, agenda’s and time blocks. Women don’t need these things I have found. If you let their conversation flow and listen very carefully, they cover enormous ground and everything they need to and in the end spit out a conclusion that is as good as any group of guys – and this has often left me thinking “where the heck did that come from it could n’t have been this conversation?” And is it just to annoy us or confuse us, but more than 1 woman will speak at once and ‘they’ all hear all whilst we hear the loudest – it’s really weird. So don’t stop this seemingly disjointed methodology, let it flow and listen well and develop the ability to remember key points. They will.
This is the best saved until the last…all men in business need to know this one. It will save so much time and provide so much more enjoyment and success. It links everything said above and is the point of my title.
Men love straight lines, turning left and turning right, having a destination and getting there, knowing when to stop and when to start and enjoy having the rules. Men sit revving their engines for the unspoken competition, guidance and structure that stop lights at road junctions the world over provide.
Women meander, dream, flow, don’t need rigid structure and rules to avoid crashes and fights, get to their destination after they have had time to drink in things that they see en route. Women prefer roundabouts where a general set of rules apply with courtesy, forgiveness and if you make a mistake no matter just go round again you’ll get to the intended route again in the end.
We happen to be in Interiors where it is said that women make more than 85% of the buying decisions. Personally, I have concluded that a woman somewhere makes the larger portion of decisions in all walks of life – they just don’t shout about it so much because they are used to (thanks to us yada yada…) not getting the credit publicly and can live with that happily.
So take a look at your retail outlet /design plans / design schemes / products and see if they reflect the fact that most of your sales and potential business will come from a decision made by a woman; and do the processes that you have in place reflect and accommodate the way a woman thinks and behaves?”
What advice do you have on this subject? Leave your comment let me know…..
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Being in business often involves the need for someone to take on the role of salesperson, at some stage. This often falls on a person who didn’t sign up for it, doesn’t want to do it and possibly has all sorts of misconceptions about what it is and who can do it.
This post WILL HELP YOU. A lot of complete ‘rubbish’ is spoken about the subject and some (not all by any means) people are actually in business to make it seem like a complex, difficult task and one that needs lots of training, perfecting, processes, procedures, etc etc. And, there is a place for all of this; but this place in not in a small business full of creatives, technologists, engineers.
You are building up contacts, making appointments and getting close to the point of having to carry out that most frightening of all steps – Selling. It’s easy for those of us with the ‘gift of the gab’ and even simpler for those of us referred to as ‘natural salespeople.’
Sit down & pin back your ears for some really great news – there is no such thing as a natural salesperson and neither is being thought of as having ‘ the gift of the gab’ a good thing. It’s better expressed in my view as being ‘gobby, full of yourself and generally being an idiot!’
Each one of us can win new business from new customers, or from existing customers in other words – SELL. How so I hear you ask? Absolute gem coming up so pay attention. This is why:
‘People do business with people they like’
Now, unfortunately, I am able to claim to have been a ‘salesperson’ for more than 30 years – which does not necessarily make me good at it but, it means that for 30 years I have been reading books about how to sell, attending seminars being told how to sell, being put on training courses to be shown how to sell and I’ve spent thousands of hours with ‘professional’ salespeople. After an extraordinary amount of money has been spent on me do you know what I have learnt?
‘People do business with people they like’
Learn how to be liked (yes this is something you can learn) and you will never look back. Don’t switch off now, stick with me and you will see that it is not about being the centre of attention, nor is it about being the life and soul of anything, or being in the limelight. Here is the second absolute gem:
‘Be genuinely interested in the people you meet’
However we were created, the end result was that we have two ears and a single, solitary mouth; you must practise to make sure that you always, without fail and never forget, to use this equipment proportionally to the numbers in which you own each then you will have taken a huge step toward being a very successful winner of business.
I mean, speak for no more than 1/3rd of the time and listen for the rest – in fact if you can get this to an 80 / 20 split you will be flying! However, when you are doing this it is essential that you use your ears to LISTEN and not to hear. It is just as important that in your early client meetings you use your mouth to ask questions about the person, their business and their problems. Do not use your mouth (until much later in the process) for speaking too much about yourself, your business and your product or, service. This is because in very simple terms – no one is interested.
The key to being liked is very simply:
‘Be genuinely interested in the people you meet’
Altogether there are 6 basic principles that if you put into action you will be liked by most people who meet you and you will therefore become hugely successful at winning business. It might surprise you to know that – again my personal opinion – a huge proportion of ‘salespeople’ are actually not very good at it. They’ve read too many poor books, been got at by too many people making a living out of training salespeople or, have had the dubious benefit of learning from experienced salespeople who weren’t very good to begin with. Imagine that, a whole bunch of salespeople who think they Can, but actually Can’t. This leaves the field wide open for any of you reading this and willing to put the preparation and effort in. Selling is all about preparation and hard work – along with being liked.
So back to those 6 points for you to put into action – I should say that they are not my words of wisdom because if they were I would have no need to be sat here this morning writing this for you. The cool fact about these wise, wise words is that they were written in 1935 by a guy called Dale Carnegie – and I can confidently tell you, despite many attempts to find one, nothing better has been written since. I attend colleges, universities and seminars to listen to how selling is taught. In modern, fancy language, supported by theories for this and that; they all basically say what Dale said more than 70 years ago!
P1: Become genuinely interested in other people.
P3: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest & most important sound in any language.
P4: Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves.
P5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
P6: Make the other person feel important – but do it with sincerity.
Now is that simple or what!
As I mentioned earlier, many thousands of pounds have been spent on building me into the salesperson I am today and I can with all honesty say to you; the best money ever spent on making me into anything was the £3 my then boss, Graham Petty, spent in 1983 when he made a present of Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ book to me. Sadly, I can’t make a present of the actual book to each of you lovely readers, but I can make a gift of the knowledge and suggest that you rush out as soon as possible to get yourself a copy and read it cover to cover – to read it will take you less than a day and yet the knowledge will last you a lifetime.