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Brainstorming Techniques for Every Situation

“Brainstorming is the nexus of ideas.” – Asa Don Brown, Interpersonal Skills in the Workplace, Finding Solutions that Work

Brainstorming, developed in the early 1940s by advertising executive Alex Osborn, became a tool with staying power.

For companies that provide professional PowerPoint services, it’s important for there to be a collaboration between the client and the company, as the client’s input is vital to how the design experts will approach the project.

Conducting a brainstorming session of your own? Remember that for it to work and not feel like a total waste of time, everybody must be open and respectful to everyone’s ideas and opinions. Problems arise when there are people that think they need to filter good ideas from the bad because of the fear of judgment.

How does it work? In a nutshell, brainstorming consists of three steps:

  • Pose a problem or opportunity.
  • Ask the team to pitch their ideas, no matter how unusual these may seem—there is no right or wrong idea.
  • Review and select the most interesting ideas and then discuss how these can be implemented.

For example, working with marketing presentation consultants require brainstorming so they can translate your specifications and their design into an effective and engaging PowerPoint. If you’re having difficulties in generating ideas on the top of your head, then why not try one of these interesting techniques instead?

Mind Mapping

Conceptualized by Tony Buzan in the 1960s, this visual tool enhances the brainstorming process. This organizes thoughts by showing how these can be connected, encouraging the continuous flow of ideas and associations.

SWOT Analysis

This stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and what this type of brainstorming does is that it helps flesh out ideas in an objective manner. It specifies the goals of the project or business venture, identifying the internal and external factors that may affect its success or failure in the long run.

Starbursting

Usually, people brainstorm to find answers—with starbursting, it focuses on forming questions. It starts with a star, which has product, service, or concept to be discussed, and expands as more questions are asked. The should answer who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Brain-Netting

This involves brainstorming on the Internet, which means team members will share their ideas over a private channel and then discuss it in person. They may also choose to generate and discuss concepts online.

Round Robin

This method of brainstorming gives everybody in the group an opportunity to speak their minds. Once gathered in a circle, members of the group are encouraged to pitch in and contribute, as there are times that one or two people in the group may be too shy to voice their opinion on the subject. Plus, this is a way to keep dominant personalities from taking over the session.

Once everyone has shared their ideas, this is the only time that other members may suggest a second concept.

Brainstorming combines lateral thinking with an informal approach to problem solving. It promotes collaboration among teammates, encouraging each person to be as creative and original as they can. With this tool, it helps companies generate radical solutions to problems.

References:

Tucker, Robert. “Seven Brainstorming Techniques for Your Next Ideation Session.” Forbes. November 16, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertbtucker/2017/11/16/seven-brainstorming-techniques-for-your-next-ideation-session/#18a15bb66d5d

“Brainstorming and Mind Mapping.” Monash University. https://www.monash.edu/rlo/research-writing-assignments/understanding-the-assignment/brainstorming#Mindmapping

Madsen, Dag Øivind. “SWOT Analysis: A Management Fashion Perspective.” International Journal of Business Research. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dag_Madsen/publication/299278178_SWOT_Analysis_A_Management_Fashion_Perspective/links/56f05fee08ae70bdd6c94a74/SWOT-Analysis-A-Management-Fashion-Perspective.pdf

Customers Are Always Right—Or Are They?

The business world had first heard the maxim, “The customer is always right,” when Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of the Selfridge department store in London, used it to reassure customers that they can always expect good service from his company. More than a century later, it’s still being applied by many business giants, often to the exasperation of employees.
Decade after decade, this mentality has been drilled into the heads of entrepreneurs. Workers are told to look beyond the need to do what is just. They’re expected to turn the other cheek and smile when an irate customer is calling them down. Well, here’s a secret for you that everyone knows but nobody wants to spill out: The customer isn’t always right. You know it, and business owners know it, too.

Why ‘The Customer Is Always Right’ Mentality Is Wrong

Why This Mentality Should Be Ditched

Businessmen have long touted the customer-is-always-right mentality. However, it’s time to let it go and accept that it could destroy employees’ morale, mess up the business process, and harm customer service in general. Customers are not always right—they just think they are. However, that doesn’t mean you should continue to apply this principle mindlessly in your business. Here are six reasons why this mentality should’ve been flushed down the drain a long, long time ago.

1. Customers don’t always know what they’re doing

Customers are not experts. They may be aggressive in asserting their opinions, but most of the time, they don’t really know how their words and actions affect the bigger picture. To contend the absolute power of customers, regardless of their individual attitudes and unique situations, is one way to send good business flying out the door.
If you know that the client is wrong and your employee is right, don’t suck up to the former and disown the latter. Instead, be just and reasonable. Remember that part of your job is to help both customers and employees. Telling customers they’re right when they’re not doesn’t do them—or you—any favor. Don’t bend over backwards every time a client complains. Remember, you’re the expert, not them.

Why ‘The Customer Is Always Right’ Mentality Is Wrong

2. Most customers are resistant to change

The case is simple—there are many consumers out there who are simply not progressive thinkers. They care more about keeping the status quo as it is than exploring possibilities for improvement. They don’t care if you’re trying to create something new; they’re not going to adopt it until the rest of the world is onboard and they’re the only ones left in oblivion. The fact that there are still many retrogressive people in the world can put you in a vulnerable spot, especially if your business is geared towards innovation. As you know, the enemy of business success is stagnation, so it will harm you to stay on one spot for the longest time just to please regressive customers.

3. Unreasonable customers are bad for business

Most entrepreneurs are possessed by the illusion that the more clients a business has, the better off it will be. While this may be justified to some extent, it’s not an absolute truth that every businessperson should uphold. There are things more important than garnering a massive consumer base and earning money—and yes, we’re talking about dignity and respect. That said, it’s only appropriate to fire a bad customer who is on the verge of burning all of your resources and energy. Remember, you can only expend so much, so don’t use up all your resources on clients who deserve them the least. Dedicate them instead on reasonable clients who are willing to work things out. Do your part, and if that doesn’t lead you anywhere, move on. After all, no reward can make keeping a difficult customer relationship worthwhile.
To use author Peter Fader’s words, “Not all customers deserve your company’s best efforts. And despite what the old adage says, the customer is most definitely not always right. Because in the world of customer centricity, there are good customers…and then there is everybody else.”

Why ‘The Customer Is Always Right’ Mentality Is Wrong

4. It gives bad customers an unfair advantage

Since when does being rude gets rewarded? Abusive customers need to know that they can’t always get what they want. Sometimes, they need to adjust their mindset. What makes more sense is for nice people to be treated with care and respect. Businesses should run the extra mile for those who leave a long-lasting positive impact, not for those who only bring problems.

5. It makes employees unhappy and resentful

The customer-is-always-right principle is a double-edged sword. Not only does it encourage rudeness; it also dampens employee morale. By choosing a hard-to-please client (who is halfway through the door anyway) over a valuable employee who’s been with you through tough times, you’re only reinforcing the prejudice regarding employers not having the employees’ back—and this will upset your employees. To quote Bret Larsen, CEO of eVisit, “Chances are, you assembled your team based on their values and abilities. Put faith in that. Support them however you can.”

6. It results into worse customer service overall

If your argument for insisting that the customer is always right is that it’s a good customer service principle, then you need to reevaluate your business assumptions. To borrow words from author Alexander Kjerulf, “Believing the customer is always right is a subconscious way of favoring the customer over the employee, which can lead to resentment among employees. When managers put the employees first, the employees will then put the customers first. Put employees first and they will be happy at work.” When employees are happy, they feel more motivated. This ultimately leads to a more positive environment where customer service can thrive best.
The gist is simple—customers are not always right. However, that doesn’t mean they’re always wrong either. You have to weigh in the facts and use your judgment fairly. That’s what being a good entrepreneur and employer is about, anyway.
 

Resources:

Beal, Andy. “Why the Customer Is Not Always Right and Why It Doesn’t Matter.” American Express. July 25, 2011. www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/why-the-customer-is-not-always-right-and-why-it-doesnt-matter
DeMers, Jayson. “No, The Customer Is Not Always Right.” Forbes. September 2, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/09/02/no-the-customer-is-not-always-right/#74b964ad4412
Kjerulf, Alexander. “Top 5 Reasons Why ‘The Customer Is Always Right’ Is Wrong.” Huffington Post. April 15, 2014. www.huffingtonpost.com/alexander-kjerulf/top-5-reasons-customer-service_b_5145636.html
Page, Bubba. “3 Reasons Why the Customer Is Always Right…Is Wrong.” Inc. October 15, 2015. www.inc.com/bubba-page/3-reasons-why-the-customer-is-always-right-is-wrong.html
“The Customer Is Always Right.” Phrases. n.d. www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/106700.html

3 Ways to Improve Public Relations for Your Business

A good product stays just that – a good product – unless it gets a boost that enhances its marketability.

Don’t let the fruits of your labor slip into anonymity.

Access your target market through a strategic marketing plan and effective public relations effort.

Increased publicity will give your business the boost it needs.

Networking

One of the most instinctive ways to build your public relations is through networking.

Whether consciously or not, you form a network with individuals you encounter as you build up your business.

These can come in the form of long-time customers or corporate partners.

Even your employees and personal friends are part of your network.

If you’re still starting out, it’s time to prioritize these relationships.

Take care of your employees by giving benefits and convincing them your vision is worth believing.

Individuals whose beliefs are aligned with yours will be ready to support your enterprise.

Similarly, customers who follow your work and favor your product can recommend you to their own friends and family.

Aside from these person-to-person cases, you can also expand your network the old-fashioned way.

Forge partnerships with like-minded individuals and organizations relevant to your field.

You’ll be able to help each other out when it comes to resources and promotion.

Build Your Reputation

To impress people enough to convince them to invest requires plenty of self-exposure.

Showcase your product – and make it appealing.

Strategize your marketing plan and assess your product’s strengths and weaknesses.

Develop your product’s strong points and emphasize your advantages over the competition.

You can start small by relying on your personal network to endorse you.

But once you’re ready, you can present yourself to prospective clients.

This may come in the form of press releases or public presentations.

If you’re pitching to a journalist, make sure you craft the right message.

You can tease them with a preliminary pitch that will get them interested enough to ask for more details.

For public presentations, make sure to strike a balance between content and delivery.

Prepare an outline of all your main ideas with a professionally-made PowerPoint to boot.

This keeps your audience’s attention while getting all the important points across.

Social Media

The Internet plays an undeniably huge role in our lives.

Use it to promote your business by tapping into social media.

Make a site where you can advertise your product or service.

You can see how well you’ve drawn your target market in by monitoring site traffic.

The more people follow your page, share your tweets, or visit your website, the more likely that you’ve caught their attention.

It also makes your profile available to interested investors.

Keep an eye out for influencers online who can help promote you to virtual audiences.

These influencers will also require pitches that are relevant to their own interests.

This is best for making sure you contact the right individual or organization.

As much as social media can give you a leverage, always keep yourself grounded in your original objectives.

Don’t overstep personal boundaries to get undue exposure.

You need to maintain your credibility to keep your clients.

Conclusion

Building your public relations is important for promoting your product.

This can be achieved in a number of ways.

Reach out to your personal network, or expose yourself to a wider audience through presentations and social media.

A combination of the two is even better.

This ensures more feedback from a greater number of people.

 

References

Honeysett, Alex. “4 Steps to Pitching a Guest Post (and Getting a “Yes!”).” How to Pitch a Guest Blog. Accessed October 21, 2015.
Measuring and Improving Your PR”. Queensland Government Business and Industry Portal. October 9, 2014. Accessed October 21, 2015.
Raposo, Kevin “How to Pitch: Outreach Tips from Journalists.” BuzzStream. May 13, 2014. Accessed October 21, 2015.

 

Featured Image: “PR” by Niuton may on flickr.com

Presenting Your Business Pitch with Confidence

Not everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur. There’s a wide set of skills and traits you have to possess in order to become an effective business leader. Among those traits is self-confidence, a natural magnet that can draw people to you and make them want to listen to what you have to say. As such, it’s an invaluable skill during a business pitch.

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To entice potential investors, you need to appear and sound confident while pitching your idea. Investors are naturally drawn to leaders with high self-esteem because it signifies strength of character, another trait necessary to lead a business venture forward. As Larina Kase, a psychologist and author, said, “True confidence is not thinking that you’ll get a great result. It’s knowing that you can handle any result.” When the path towards success is dark and murky, confidence can carry a strong business leader through.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

How to Boost Your Confidence for a Business Pitch

There are things you can do to pump up your spirits before facing investors and presenting them your business model. Here are seven of them:

1. Look and sound the part

The thing about confidence is that you don’t need to have it to look the part. You can carry yourself with poise even if you’re feeling intimidated or scared inside. There are a few things you can do to package yourself for success: dressing well, correcting your posture, minding the pacing of your speech, using precise language, and smiling. In other words, by making a conscious effort to look confident, you can make a good impression.

2. Exude conviction from every pore

To sell a business idea, you should be able to show investors how passionate and committed you are. They’ll try to gauge whether you really know what you’re doing, so make sure that you remain composed but enthusiastic throughout your business pitch. Make the investors believe in your potential to succeed. To achieve this effect, you have to communicate a certain aura that tells investors how confident you are about your product. This means avoiding uptalk and articulating a statement with a declarative—not an inquisitive—tone.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

3. Know your key differentiator

To identify your business’s primary selling point, ask yourself what your edge is as opposed to competitors. Why should investors choose you over businesses similar to yours? You must have something unique to offer to make your business pitch stand out. Apart from this, you should also be able to explain what your worth is to investors. How can they benefit from your business? What gains can they expect, and when?

4. Find an external manifestation of success

Perhaps the best way to gain self-confidence is to find an external manifestation of your business’s capability to survive and succeed. It’s easier to sell a business idea if you have something tangible to back it up. An example of an external validation of success is a solid customer base that raves about your product. A sizable social media following that has positive things to say about your company is also a good proof that you’re breaking ground. Determining your niche is crucial during the first stages of business development because if you sell to the wrong customers, your business is bound to flop. On the other hand, with the right audience, you can improve your revenue and boost your credibility, which will ultimately attract investors towards your business.

5. Solve problems before they appear

Amateur entrepreneurs who only want to impress investors often make the mistake of acting like they’re immune to disasters. They’re hiding behind the assumption that their business model is so perfect, it can’t possibly be taken down by any future problem. As a general rule, before you present your business pitch to an investor, you should think through the possible challenges that you may encounter along the way. If possible, look for various solutions for each issue so that if one fails, you’ll have a backup to fall on. Set up contingency plans for when things don’t go as planned. By making sure that you’re prepared for the ugly as well as the good, you’ll be able to present yourself as a competent leader who can weather the storm when the worse comes to the worst.

Self-Confidence: The Top Trait You Need for a Business Pitch

6. Rehearse and refine your business pitch

Preparation is key to any speech. As with any other field, achieving a certain level of self-confidence takes time and an immense amount of effort. Research also plays a major role on how competent and confident you will appear in front of a panel. Make sure that your presentation has no loopholes and that everything goes as planned.

7. Worry less and just do your part

Fussing over the aspects of your business pitch that you can’t control will only stress you out. Instead of worrying over the negative aspects of your situation, just focus on the positive. Don’t zero in on your weaknesses as that will only distract and discourage you. Instead, strive to turn your weak spots around and let go of the things you can’t change. Optimism can go a long way in boosting your self-confidence, so try to appreciate the good parts as much as you can.

Above all else, smile even if you don’t feel like it. As Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at George Washington University, said, “Smiling not only makes your voice more pleasant to listen to; it also conveys confidence…. You will appear friendly, approachable, and composed.” That reason alone should be enough for you to flash a smile during a business pitch.

If you follow the aforementioned tips, you’ll be closer to improving your self-esteem. Just be patient and remember that confidence is built over time. With determination, you can stand in front of a panel of investors and present your business in the best light possible.

 

 

 

Resources:

Connick, Wendy. “How to Find Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).” The Balance. June 19, 2017. www.thebalance.com/how-to-find-your-unique-selling-proposition-usp-2917402

Landrum, Sarah. “10 Secrets to Sounding Confident.” Fast Company. July 20, 2015. www.fastcompany.com/3048748/10-secrets-to-sounding-confident

Lobb, Jennifer. “How to Pitch Your Business Like the Pros on Shark Tank.” Nav. December 28, 2016. www.nav.com/blog/how-to-pitch-your-business-like-the-shark-tank-pros-15102

Whitmore, Jacqueline. “9 Ways to Show More Confidence in Business.” Entrepreneur. September 30, 2014. www.entrepreneur.com/article/237634

“How to Give Investors Confidence in Your Business Idea.” Virgin Startup. n.d. www.virginstartup.org/how-to/how-give-investors-confidence-your-business-idea

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The Real Cost of a Poor Presentation

The truth may be more prevalent than you would like to admit, but it’s unhealthy to ignore the fact that there are good presentations, and there are also bad ones. If you could give an estimate, how many from the total number of existing presentations are poorly made? Around 50 percent? That’s a big number. Assume for a second that, around the world, there are over a billion PowerPoint files today. That’s 500 million at the very least.

With all the design and content tips littered all over the Internet about making the best pitch deck, you’d think that by now, everyone can create decent slides. But let’s not get too idealistic. PowerPoint is tricky to master, especially when you consider how people have different reactions to presentations in general.

Should you cater to their wants then? “Yes” would be a short answer, but it has serious implications for your succeeding attempts at presentation. For example, when you’re creating a pitch deck. You can’t make a one-fits-all since it’s practically impossible to create slides according to the preferences of every executive you’re looking to impress. It’ll be a mishmash of different styles, and that can be distracting.

Does it mean that this is a hopeless case? Of course not. The best you could do is minimize the negative effects of a bad pitch deck presentation, like death by PowerPoint. Other suggestions are doing your best to create the most visually appealing deck people will ever see or hiring a good team of presentation specialists to make awesome slides—as long as you avoid using poorly designed presentations. Why? Because you stand to lose more than just cash by crafting pitch decks or sales presentations sloppily. The infographic below will help you see that you shouldn’t be worried with just your profit margins because you put at risk something bigger than money.

Resources:

Griffith, Eric. “17 Tricks to Master Microsoft PowerPoint.” PC Mag. October 14, 2014. www.pcmag.com/feature/328357/17-tricks-to-master-microsoft-powerpoint

Looking for creative presentations that can leverage your business? Enjoy free PowerPoint templates from SlideStore! Sign up today.

Successfully Introducing Your Product in a Business Presentation

When you launch a product for the first time, you’re automatically handed the responsibility of ensuring its success. The audience will look up to you for answers because you’re the expert in that particular setup. You’re expected to know more about your product than anyone else. Rightfully, you are also entitled to feel excited or overwhelmed. After all, you’re handling a do-or-die moment for your brand. The key to conquering this situation, of course, is to win your audience’s favor. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Show, Don’t Tell

When introducing a new product, it’s not enough to simply tell your customers about it. You need to let them see it with their own eyes and test it with their own hands. Of course, before doing that, you should draw the audience’s attention and interest first. Make them want to experience your product and explore its features. You can do this by creating a point of comparison between your product and that of your competitors. Convince your audience that you are the right choice. Take note that your clients will form their opinion based on what you show them, so give it your best shot when showcasing your brand.

How to Launch Your Product in a Business Presentation

Build Enough Hype

Market your product without overselling it. You can use all kinds of platforms and outlets to let your target audience know about your business. Expand the reach of your market through print advertising and social media marketing. Give your potential clients something to anticipate. You can go on and highlight your product’s best features, but don’t promise something that you can’t deliver. Ultimately, you want the hype to be real.

Also, it’s important to seamlessly shift your presentation’s focus from the product to the audience. Don’t just proclaim how great your product is. Instead, tell your potential customers how it can make their lives better. That way, they’ll have more reason to look forward to its release.

How to Launch Your Product in a Business Presentation

Solidify Your Expertise

Credibility is crucial to any brand. When presenting your product for the first time, it’s important to impress as many prospects as possible. To do this, you need to demonstrate how knowledgeable and well-experienced you are in your industry. This is the time for you to flaunt your credentials. What has your business achieved so far? What projects are you working on now? Who are the experts who make up your team? What are your plans for the near future? All of this can give your audience a reason to trust in you and believe in your product.

How to Launch Your Product in a Business Presentation

Communicate Confidence

In a business presentation, it’s important to communicate just how much you believe in your brand. If you don’t trust your own product, no one else will. Confidence is a magnet that draws people in. Make sure you’re equipped with at least that before you step into the stage.

Your product launch doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You can make it exciting for yourself and your audience if you implement the aforementioned tips. With sufficient preparation, you can deliver a presentation that highlights your new product’s best features and places your brand under the limelight.

Resources:

Bly, Robert W. “How to Convince Customers to Buy from You and Not the Competition.” Entrepreneur. December 15, 2015. www.entrepreneur.com/article/252960

Shope, Kendrick. “How to Sell Something Without Being Sleazy.” Infusionsoft. February 29, 2016. learn.infusionsoft.com/sales/sales-process/how-to-sell-something-without-being-sleazy

Tallent, Barbara. “How to Create a Product Presentation.” Infrasystems. n.d. www.infrasystems.com/product-presentations.html

Watkis, Nicholas. “Is Credibility the Most Important Ingredient for Business Success?” My Customer. November 6, 2012. www.mycustomer.com/experience/loyalty/is-credibility-the-most-important-ingredient-for-business-success

Closing a Deal Without Assuming a Salesperson’s Role

Contrary to popular opinion, there’s nothing inherently wrong with hard selling. If you know you have a wonderful product that should see the light of day, then by all means go and sell it hard. However, you need to be wary of the caveats and repercussions that you may encounter along the way. Make sure that when convincing a prospect of the value of your business, you remain honest and true. Also, before going around and trying to talk people into investing in your product, make sure that you’re adept enough to communicate and empathize with them.

The problem with most salespeople today is that all they care about is closing the deal. They don’t bother about being honest with the consumer. They hardly go out of their way to find out what the consumer really needs. This is exactly why sales agents have developed a notoriety so ill that people recoil when they see a salesperson trying desperately to catch their eye. The harsh truth is that being a salesperson today is synonymous to being pushy and annoying. If the economic landscape is to reach a higher bar, this stigma has to end.

The Logic Behind Using a No-Pitch Promotion

No one can change the salespeople’s reputation but the salespeople themselves. Many companies have already figured out the right ways to reach consumers without distressing them. Surely, a lot more would follow if only they knew how. If you still haven’t employed the right techniques in selling without coming off as obnoxious, here are two of the main reasons why you should change your ways now:

How to Make a Deal Without Sounding Like a Salesperson

  • To take the pressure off the audience

What seems to be the salespeople’s role today is to serve themselves and their company. However, there should be a shift in perspective. Instead of thinking of their own good, salesmen should serve customers and see how they can help alleviate their concerns. Instead of inconveniencing prospects, salespeople should strive to make matters easier and more convenient for them.

The last thing you want as a salesperson is to give the impression that you’re trying to squeeze every penny out of your customers. Shoving the product down the customers’ throat won’t make them pay for it. Put them at ease and let them be comfortable so that they can make that decision for themselves.

  • To differentiate yourself from corporate players

One of the advantages that a small business holds over a goliath is that it has an option to personalize the customer experience. Customers like it when they’re treated in a special way. This is why even big players in the business field should try to mimic the small-business model of sales. As a salesman, you should be more personable. Take your time in easing the prospect into your business. Instead of rushing to pocket the money, let the sales process unfold. If you focus on attending to your client’s needs before anything else, the deal will close itself.

How to Make a Deal Without Sounding Like a Salesperson

Four Proven Ways to Sell Without Being Aggressive

Most salesmen are torn between hard selling and using alternative sales techniques that are subtler and less aggressive. On the one hand, hard selling makes a salesperson feel like s/he has done everything in his or her power to gain a new customer. On the other hand, it is usually a turn-off to customers, and therefore, a big no-no. Fortunately, there are easy and effective ways to sell without sounding like a salesperson. Here are some of them:

1. Be transparent about your business processes

Make your business processes open for the public to see. Share every thought and effort that went into creating your product or developing your service. Tell your prospects what went wrong and what worked out in the end. In other words, lay your brand bare before them.

By doing this, you’re essentially inviting people to trust you and see you not as a business without a face but as a familiar friend whose struggles and successes they had the privilege of knowing. By being vulnerable and letting them into your business’s personal bubble, you’re giving them an invitation that they can’t turn down. The bottom line? Genuine stories sell.

2. Demonstrate what your product does

Merely talking about the product won’t cut it. To persuade a crowd of skeptic consumers, you need to let the product speak for itself. Show your prospects exactly how your product works so that they can judge for themselves whether it’s good enough to satisfy their needs. A product demonstration is a quick and effective way to tell someone just how great your offers are without actually telling them.

How to Make a Deal Without Sounding Like a Salesperson

3. Pitch at the right time and in the right place

Timing is key in every field, and it’s not surprising that it’s just as important in sales. A good salesperson can tell when it’s appropriate to approach a customer with a product offer or when it’s best to just drop it and focus on addressing the customer’s immediate concerns instead. Watch for external cues that will give you hints on whether or not a customer is open to a sales pitch. If you insist on troubling a prospect, you might end up losing a potential client for good.

4. Focus on addressing the consumer’s pain points

It only makes sense that if you let your prospects do the talking, you can’t possibly annoy or offend them. In fact, if you assume the role of a listener from the start, it’s likely for them to relax and feel comfortable around you. That said, before you make a pitch, make sure to hear out your customers’ side of the story first. Let them spill out their concerns so that you can thoroughly assess the situation. Only talk when you know that you have something useful to offer. Your proposed resolutions should revolve around their problems. Remember, the goal is to help the customers, not to take their money.

The approach to sales described here isn’t new or farfetched. In fact, it has been used by top marketers for many years now. However, until every salesperson learns how to use the methods of soft selling to better attract and gain customers, the reputation of the sales world will be stuck in the dead zone.

 

Resources:

Charles, Jeff. “5 Easy Ways to Sell Without Being Pushy or Obnoxious.” Small Biz Trends. August 31, 2015. smallbiztrends.com/2015/08/easy-ways-to-sell.html

Flynn, Pat. “How to Sell Without Selling: The Art of No-Pitch Promotion.” Smart Passive Income. May 20, 2014. www.smartpassiveincome.com/how-to-sell-without-selling-the-art-of-no-pitch-promotion

Gregory, Alyssa. “12 Tips for Using a Soft Approach to Make the Sale.” Sitepoint. June 22, 2010. www.sitepoint.com/using-a-soft-sales-approach

Iannarino, Anthony. “Don’t Mistake Selling for the Hard Sell.” The Sales Blog. May 28, 2010. thesalesblog.com/2010/05/28/don%E2%80%99t-mistake-selling-for-the-hard-sell

Nornberg, Vanessa M. “3 Ways to Tell When a Customer Is Ready to Be Sold.” Inc. August 8, 2014. www.inc.com/vanessa-merit-nornberg-nornberg/3-ways-to-tell-when-a-customer-is-ready-to-be-sold.html

Verrill, Ashley. “How to Sell Without Sounding Like a Salesman.” Scott’s Marketplace. July 17, 2013. blog.scottsmarketplace.com/how-to-sell

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5 Ways PowerPoint Presentations Can Improve Business Leads

When someone says the word “marketing,” the initial thoughts that come to people’s minds are sales talking, customer service, advertising, and/or social media and blog posts, or any combination thereof. It may not be wrong, but surely the concept has deeper roots than just getting a “come on” for people to trade their hard-earned cash for a product or a service.
For the better business-minded people out there, the focus of the game has shifted to customer experience, the concept that looks at consumer interactions and how your potential leads form a relationship with your brand. Extending that logic, forking cash over doesn’t terminate the connection; sure, it may be the end of the transaction, but it’s just the beginning of the experience. There’s still the post-sales service (via customer service), trust and loyalty maintenance, etc. It’s kind of an “It’s not about the destination but about the journey” thing.
True enough, the most memorable relationships continue after you receive the customer’s money.
But how do you start getting those people to show even a bit of interest in your company? It’s not like you can do so much after traditional marketing, right? Right?
As it turns out, there’s one avenue you may not have thought of but works because of its uniqueness: PowerPoint. It’s one of those functions that the software wasn’t intended for but still amazingly works given its nature.
You know where this is going: a public speaking arrangement where you can use your deck as a tool for your sales pitch. But what benefits would that bring? Won’t it be just like how you started your whole enterprise, only your audience are executives instead of potential customers?
There are a few more things you can do besides showing off your products and offering crazy sales. Conversations, arguably the best sales pitch ever, become more than just pitches. Check the following infographic to learn all about the advantages you can get from using PowerPoint presentations when it comes to gaining more leads.

Resources:

Barr, Corbett. “The Best Sales Pitch Ever.” Fizzle. November 16, 2016. www.fizzle.co/sparkline/the-best-sales-pitch-ever
Zwilling, Martin. “‘Customer Experience’ Is Today’s Business Benchmark.” Forbes. March 10, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/martinzwilling/2014/03/10/customer-experience-is-todays-business-benchmark/#50113f125011

Tour of California 2017 and the Seven Stages of the Business Cycle

The Tour of California is a professional cycling race that has been dubbed as America’s Tour de France. Debuting in 2006, the event is considered as one of the most important cycling races in the United States. Although it’s now held every year in May, it was originally a February affair. The change was made back in 2010 when organizers wanted to make the race a preparatory event for the Tour de France. The Tour of California typically covers 700 miles through the U.S. state of California.

This year, the cycling race will start on May 14 and cap off on May 21. It’s only a few days before the event officially starts, and excitement is already building around the cycling community. Kristin Klein said, “As the sport of cycling continues to bloom in America, the Amgen Tour of California men’s and women’s events are both part of the UCI World Tour for the first time, a privilege and designation reserved for the world’s premier’s races. This means the competition will reach an all-time high, with the best racers and best teams in the world lining up to take part.”

All this hype will surely attract the public’s eye. Indeed, as Klein noted, “The Amgen Tour of California is America’s greatest race, and this year more than ever, the world will be watching.” Cycling enthusiasts, athletes, health junkies, and casual fans alike will all be there to support the cause. But there should be one more group that ought to jump on the bandwagon: businessmen. That’s right—men in suits may seem like the odd-ones-out in a crowd of Lycra-shorts-wearing people, but they’re not far removed from the spirit of this occasion. In fact, the Tour of California cycling race may just be the new business metaphor that entrepreneurs, like you, need.

Resources:

Chen, Sheen. “What Are the Stages of a Business Lifecycle and Its Challenges?” Business 2 Community. March 4, 2014. www.business2community.com/strategy/stages-business-lifecycle-challenges-0798879#osr2aRkspuuKlDE5.97

Griffiths, Andrew. “If You Want a Solid Future You Need to Know Where You Are in the Business Life Cycle.” Inc. April 19, 2016. www.inc.com/andrew-griffiths/which-part-of-the-7-stage-business-life-cycle-are-you-in.html

Janssen, Thierry. “The 7 Stages of Business Life Cycle.” Just in Time Management. n.d. www.justintimemanagement.com/en/The-7-stages-of-business-life-cycle

Schilken, Chuck. “Amgen Tour of California Announces Routes for 2017 Race.” LA Times. January 31, 2017. www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-tour-of-california-route-20170130-story.html

“2017 Tour of California Routes Announced.” Cycling News. January 31, 2017. www.cyclingnews.com/news/2017-tour-of-california-routes-announced

“Where Are You in the Seven-Stage Cycle?” Addison and Company. n.d. www.addisonandco.co.uk/the-7-stages-of-business

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What Leaders Need to Know About Mindfulness

The best leaders work resolutely to unite their team to achieve their goals. Working hard is a given for them, and so is playing hard. They can channel their energy towards any challenge, and they can rest their minds despite the many responsibilities that await them. In other words, the best leaders know the secrets of mindfulness.

Before delving into what mindfulness is, let’s first clarify what it’s not. Mindfulness is not a religious activity—although it is, to some extent, transcendental in nature. It’s not about putting your thoughts to a pause, nor is it a way of escaping from reality. Most importantly, it’s not a one-time fix for your problems.

Mindfulness is a basic ability that you can harness if you put your mind to it. It involves focusing on the present, detaching your judgment from your reactions, and practicing self-observation. Its utmost goal is to rouse the inner workings of your mind so you can perform at your best. By training to be mindful, you can remodel your brain structure and mental composition.

Mindfulness for Business Leadership

Mindfulness for Business Leadership

Mindfulness presents many positive implications for business. In fact, it’s believed to be the one solution to the world’s illnesses. But as underlined before, this state of consciousness is not really a panacea. What’s more, there’s no substantial data relating to its impact on contemporary leadership.

If there’s no solid research about how this practice can “cure” the industry, then where does the overwhelming enthusiasm for it come from? Incidentally, it’s all based on personal observations and experiences. Take Bill George, for example. George, a Harvard professor and former Medtronic CEO, shared how meditative practices had helped him cope with his struggles at the top of the business chain. Another business tycoon who leveraged the power of mind training to become an effective leader was Apple’s co-founder, Steve Jobs. Jobs practiced Zen meditation techniques to gain better business clarity.

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Apart from the influence of these people, another reason why mindfulness is gaining a wider audience is the growing need of business leaders to find a timeout from their busy careers. They need a way to stop the world on command, and mindfulness can help with that.

Becoming a Mindful Leader

How to Be a Mindful Leader

Proper training can enhance your leadership abilities and improve your resilience. The following seven mini-habits are a good place to start.

1. Make time for introspective practice.

You need a proper space and enough time to carry out a mindful, introspective exercise that will awaken your mental mechanisms. The said exercise can come in many forms: journaling, praying, taking long walks, hiking, jogging, doing yoga, and meditating, among others. Any activity that lets you center into yourself will help open your inner sense of well-being. By developing simple habits like these, you’ll gain clarity to make sound decisions and become more aware of your impact to the world.

2. Pay attention to the present moment.

Mindful leaders know how to dwell in the moment and live life as it happens. After all, one of the aims of mindfulness is to quiet the mind and see everything as it is. Train your mind to pay attention to what’s immediately happening before you. You may occasionally find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and emotions, but that’s alright, as long as you always return to the present.

3. Acknowledge your thoughts and let them roll by.

One of the important skills that come with mindfulness is metacognition, the ability to let your judgments roll by after making a mental note of them. Metacognition allows you to observe each moment and participate in it. It’s like going into the riverbank of your stream of consciousness to see what’s going on inside your head. You’ll find your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and impulses laid open before you. As a leader, you’ll find this helpful as it will keep you from being overly reactive or overwhelmed. You’ll be able to take broader perspectives into account before making crucial decisions.

Acknowledge Your Thoughts

4. Let your mind wander but only for a while.

While you’re in the middle of an exercise—practicing introspection, staying anchored to the present, observing metacognition—your mind may wander off. When this happens, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, just recognize where your mind has wandered into and gently bring it back.

5. Marry your head with your heart.

For you to become a mindful leader, you have to let your heart and mind become one. This may sound easy, but it’s not. As Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The longest journey you will ever take is the eighteen inches from your head to your heart.” To be a mindful leader, you must have the courage and the passion to be better. You should be able to exhibit intentionality in every action you take.

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6. Disconnect from the world.

To be truly mindful, you must reduce the unnecessary chatter in your head. You can’t focus on yourself if you’re always bombarded with distractions. You need an opportunity to de-stress and gather your thoughts. Do this by disconnecting from the world. Unplug everything that can distract you—people, gadgets, and noisy objects that keep you from centering on important things.

7. Take interest in the world around you.

You can only put yourself in the present if you take an interest in the world inside your head and the universe around you. Curiosity is the ingredient that will truly open your mind to its full capacity. Without it, you’ll have no motivation to explore the extraordinary capabilities of your mind.

The pursuit of mindful leadership will help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your bearing to others. Mindfulness will drive away trivial and noisy thoughts to help you focus on what’s paramount. Ultimately, it will allow you to become an authentic leader in your field.