Just a small story to highlight how something so small can make such a difference.
I had a new composite door fitted a while back, and I was incredibly pleased with it, until one day the locking mechanism would not work. Unfortunately for me, I was on the outside of my house, and the door would not lock, and would not open, and my back door was locked with the key in the door! I was on my way to a meeting that I needed to attend, so had to leave it. A locksmith came out late that night, as I was out of hours for the door manufacturer, with the total confidence he would get me in through my door ‘in a jiffy’ Nope! He really tried, but was worried about ruining the door. I was stranded.
The manufacturer sent their guy out the following day, with difficulty, he opened the door, stripped, cleaned and oiled the mechanism – bingo, it worked…for one day! He came out again baffled, and as he started to take the mechanism out again, noticed a loose very small screw, less than (I’m guessing here) 0.01% of the entire mechanism of the door, causing the fault!
This leads nicely into the principle which is Kaizen:
Kaizen - Continuous Improvement
I have been reading Tony Robbins book ‘Awaken the Giant within’ quite a read.
He mentions Kaizen. This is a Japanese principle of Continuous Improvement, which actually originated due to a collaboration with an American: Dr. W. E. Deming, sent to Japan after the second world war, to help with rebuilding an industrial base. The changes he implemented, were seen as a miracle.
His processes included 14 principles and beliefs and reflected how small changes, implemented and evaluated continuously, make a huge difference, over time or the lifetime of a project.
Even a 1% change daily can have such a beneficial effect, on businesses, on personal performance, on motivation levels, on kicking not so good habits and implementing new ones.
I see clients who would like to change many things about themselves, to leave behind thoughts and habits that are holding them back, they quite often see it as an insurmountable mountain, too huge to contemplate, which is a big reason for procrastination, and a sense of having failed before you have even started.
Firstly, it isn’t about changing who you are. Small little shifts can make such a difference if implemented daily, helping to you also build on your Confidence and Motivation. It is good to track your progress, to see how you are doing, and to work out if the goals you have set are realistic and achievable, or do you need to adjust? Though don’t micro manage yourself and put unnecessary pressure on yourself to be achieving, as small changes do need the benefit of some time.
A friend of mine found this resonated with her, because she realised she could easily manage a 1% change, most people are happier with small changes. The one step at a time approach, really is so effective, and sometimes something will just click into place and you will find yourself taking a leap, naturally and easily.
I mentioned the London Marathon above, not one person running would have pitched up on the day, without having taken steps over the year to build up on their running distance, technique and fitness levels, literally one step at a time.
On the 28th March 2017, I had the pleasure of being invited onto Channel Radio, for the Business Bunker show, by Paul Andrews. This show is to serve and support all local businesses in Kent. This was my first, and hopefully not last, experience of being on a radio show.
Before going on the show, I asked what area of business would people like more Confidence in by doing a poll, asking if it would be in a) Sales, b) Presenting, c) Using the Telephone, or d) dealing with Conflict? Overwhelmingly it was the area of sales.
There are several reasons as to why people feel they need more confidence in this area. Sales ultimately make or break for your business, and of course is a concern.
'Sales' is a form of presenting. Presenting is a top fear; people worry they may get it wrong, be rejected, be judged and that people won't buy from them. It also can be that they are so under pressure, from themselves or others, to perform or reach targets that may not always be realistic. This sort of pressure is picked up on very quickly by customers or potential customers.
If you do fear getting it 'wrong' what you're really saying is, that you would like to get it right! This a good thing for your customer, so how do you make sure you get it right?How do youget over the fear, or lack of confidence with sales? Below are some basic points
Firstly – Try to take yourself, and how worried you may feel about sales, out of the equation, as your primary concern, isn't You, it's about your customer and what they Want or Need from your product or service. Your focus is better being on how your customer feels, what their worries and concerns may be, their possible barriers. They are looking to you or your product, to be their solution. They want to be Confident in YOU! If you are focused on yourself, then your focus is not on them.
Think about what you appreciate when buying something. What is good service to you? What encourages you to buy from one provider over another, maybe again and again?
Knowing your product or service inside out, helps you naturally feel more confident, than if you're not sure. As with anything, we definitely feel more confident with what we know well. So, get to know all you can, where or who to get the required information from, any potential pitfalls and common questions customers may ask, so you can pre-empt them, not avoid or gloss over them. Integrity and transparency is important. Your customer is looking to YOU, to know your product, your service, your company.
Don't be worried if a customer asks you a question you are not sure of, it is better to say 'I want to be sure I give you the right information, let me clarify / confirm / check...' nothing wrong with that at all. Then do follow up, promptly. Better than plucking things out of the air, or making promises that cannot be fulfilled. For example – ‘yes we can deliver in 3 weeks’ without knowing for certain, only to find out it will be 6 weeks. Customer expectations are usually pretty high, and it is up to You, to manage the expectations ensuring they are realistic, not only from your side, but also what may be required from the customer, to ensure you can deliver.
Customers are always wanting to know WIIFM - What's In It For ME?
Are you their 'Solution? What are the Benefits? even if they are already basically sold on the product or service, researched it, and like it, they want to know why buy form you? what extra Value will you deliver? This might be a friendly service, good after sales, a guarantee, and not what are the freebies? People will pay extra for a good service, and come back and refer on.
A friend had gone to buy a relatively high end car, and had a good idea what they wanted, but the sales person did not listen to them and tried to sell them a different model, that didn't serve their needs. The friend left without purchasing a car, feeling disappointed. When the sales person rang for a follow up a few days later, they found out that their potential customer had gone elsewhere, a competitor, and spent more, due to getting the right service and being treated like a person, not a sales target.
Inform – don’t ‘Sell’ and definitely do not pressure sell a customer. Let your customers have all the information they need, to make their decision, an informed one, when you invite them to do so. Asking the ultimate question as to whether they would like to buy your product or service, without the customer feeling under pressure, is crucial, and expected, otherwise you have just had a well-informed chat. Also having ‘calls to action’ on your website are an ‘invite to buy’
Before getting to this stage it requires you to LISTEN to your customer, actively listen to them, take their cues, and ask the right questions based on the information they are giving you, to let them know, you are thinking about them, their needs and requirements, not just the next sale. Too many people in sales have or are given a script, and have an agenda, where they talk at a customer.
Sometimes your customer is not entirely sure what they want, and they are looking for guidance, your expertise. Uncovering what is important to them in regards to the product or service, or even beyond the product or service e.g. feeling safe. What the product or service needs to do for them, or their family, helps you and them get to the right product or service for them, which may not necessarily be yours!
Think about your customer and treat them how you would expect a loved relative of yours to be treated; With Honesty, Integrity and Respect. With a little thought this is easily achieved. Be genuine and interested in them. They may not buy from you straight away or at all, but could know many people who would. Receiving referrals is a gold stamp of approval.
How you present yourself personally is important, whether showing pride in your work clothing / branding, or in own clothes. Be smart, clean, and fresh, (you would be dressed appropriate to the industry you are in).
Your body language is important too. Yours needs to be open and friendly, have decent eye contact, but more importantly be aware of theirs; have they lost interest? are they distracted? or feeling defensive / unsure? Be aware of not being in their space, and allow them some time to think and possible converse with who they are with. Listening, and watching for non verbal cues is a great skill to have, as is knowing when to be quiet, some silence allows respectful thinking time, or a customer will quite often want to fill the gap.
Studies suggest that body language accounts for 55% of how we process information, we do most of this sub-consciously, 38% is tone and pace of voice and 7% is are the words said.
On the phone, you only have pace and tone of voice to go by. Smiling and standing whilst on the phone is effective, making your tone of voice better. When on the phone remember to listen, people are in the habit of answering the phone automatically, even when too busy to take the call; listen to their tone and pace of voice, if you can hear they are busy, say ‘I can hear you are busy, when is the best time for me to call back?’ one of two things will happen, they will apologise and concentrate, or be grateful and give you a better time to call, confirm this, make sure you can call back then at that time, and DO.
Also be aware that some people are listening to what you say, Auditory, if the product is about sound then doubly important, for some it is more what they see, Visual, so they may be looking at you, but want to see the product, read information, see how it works, see the colours etc… and others are more focused on how things feel, Kinaesthetic, so may want to feel the product, sit on it, in it, work it themselves. We are generally a mixture, but may have a preference.
Clarify often with the customer and ask things like ‘what is important to you?’ ‘Have I covered what you need?’ ‘Is there anything more you need to know?’ ‘Is that okay for you?’ ‘Do you have any concerns?’ ‘is there anyone else involved in the decision making?’ ‘what can I do to ensure you have all the information you need?’ These types of questions are endless, you will pick the right ones for you customer, if you are listening to them, and allowing them to speak. If you are doing all the talking, that is not a good sign.
An interesting question is: When does the sales process start? Is it when the customer first rings you or calls in? In most cases - no. The sales process starts before then, when the customer first starts contemplating what they want, they will rely on many things; Past experience, what they already know, what who they know, knows! A referral goes a long way in providing TRUSTED recommendation. Testimonials, written and by word of mouth; what is the product or service like? Ease of sale? or is your service provided in such a way as to relieve stress for the customer to help them overcome something? Are you fulfilling their need, are you the solution? Do you deliver, when you say? what is the after care? Do you sell, then drop them, or follow up? how are complaints dealt with? They may research on your website or other social media, or actively look for reviews.
This whole process is termed ‘The Client Journey’ their overall experience. The sales process starts way before the customer even thinks about buying from you. Your job as a business, as an employee, as an individual, is to ensure the whole process for the client is as good as it can be, at every stage, offering value at every level and being open and honest with them if things have not come up to scratch, and ensuring a more than satisfactory resolution. There are the odd customers that will never be fully satisfied, and possibly take up a lot of your time, it takes confidence to suggest they may possibly be better going elsewhere, where they can get the service they require.
Another important factor is how you or your staff 'Present' or Represent your business, not just when in the business, answering the phone, on the website and literature etc… but also when away from the business, this can drastically affect sales, especially in the days of social media, if you are saying for example, ‘we value our customers’ and you or a member of staff is heard complaining about a customer, or worse it is on social media, this affects trust, you or the company are then not seen as congruent, in valuing and looking after your customers.
On a practical level for You:
Believe in yourself and your strengths and abilities.
Arm yourself with all the knowledge you need, and be more than happy to attend training or source what you are not sure of, or know presently. Each customer, will be bring good and some challenging valuable learning opportunities
Smile, be curious and interested in your customer. Show enthusiasm and passion in what you do. Pride yourself in offering the best service you can, it will show and pay dividends, and you will feel good about yourself knowing you did your best for the customer.
Stand tall with confidence, in the knowledge that you know more about your amazing product and service than your customer does.
Finally – enjoy being with your customers, they are people like you and those close to you, don’t be afraid of them and worry about making ‘the sale’. They are more likely to buy from you if they think you are interested in them. That you are knowledgeable and care about the product or service you are delivering, are open and honest and that they FEEL they can trust you.
·>Show your Passion and enthusiasm >
·>Be yourself >
·>ANXIETY = EXCITEMENT!>
·>You are in Control – you know your subject>
·>Relax and Smile – most people don’t – it is your job to put the audience at ease. >
·>Depending on where you are – it is your responsibility to do housekeeping e.g. Fire / toilets etc…>
·>Connect with your audience and their needs>
·>Telling stories is a good way>
·>WIIFM – every member of your audience is thinking ‘What’s In It for ME’ if you don’t hook them in with a BENEFIT you may well lose them early on – It is about them – NOT YOU>
·>Keep the message Clear and Simple >
·>Remember Visual Auditory and Kinaesthetic – graphs, videos, products, get audience involved>
·>Be aware not everyone will be interested - but that is OK>
·>Practice Practice Practice (the 7 P’s = Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance)>
·>Video yourself, practice in front of a mirror or friends / family>
·>Don’t be too scripted, so you can be flexible and more natural – remember you do know your stuff and it is ok to have notes to refer to, it just shows you planned, but don’t be tied to them.>
·>Keep a relaxed confident body language – no over gesturing and be congruent – so what you are saying rings true with your body language – which is 70% of communication>
·>Eye contact – if you feel nervous - look at the top of a person’s head especially if in a large room. Try not to focus on only one or two people they may feel uncomfortable so go around the room, to make people feel involved, these people could be your potential customers. Project your voice to the last person in the room>
·>Anchor yourself – standing straight and taking a deep relaxed breath helps – you can also practice the ‘power pose’ before hand – hands on hips and feeling strong, then imagine it, to Anchor yourself before presenting >
·>Keep you presentation Clear, Simple, Concise and Relevant. Depending on the length of time you have 3 to 10 points may be enough for people to take on board – you can always give out extra information after, or invite questions and if you have enticed them enough they will have some. Maybe they will want to buy your book, get on your email list for your newsletter…or want a quote for business and meet you for coffee to find out more>
·>Don’t over complicate or fill the slides>
·>Always have a PLAN B>
·>Be truthful – no wild claims and messing with facts>
·>Clarify and check in regularly with your audience – especially if a long presentation>
·>It is okay to have a ‘call to action’ ie: visit my website for more information. I offer a free Initial Consultation…>
Mostly enjoy it as it is a real opportunity for you to get yourself in front of people, to promote yourself and your product or service
WE LEARN THE MOST WHEN WE STEP OUTSIDE OF OUR COMFORT ZONE
Find a friend, a work colleague, a family member, your GP or an organisation to support you – you really do not need to cope alone.
Find what works for you - Get back to being YOU
30 (plus 1) ideas and tips: to help you manage your Stress levels
1.>Step back, pause and think about what is at the root cause of your stress? be honest about what really should be addressed, even if painful or embarrassing as facing a problem head on, as calmly and as reasoned as you can, will start to resolve it and you may find help or strategies you were not aware of>
2.>Take responsibility for yourself and your actions, this can be hard – however once you do, the solutions tend to follow, because you are more open to accepting them. If it means admitting you are wrong or sorry – then rise to it and feel the stress lift from your shoulders – and then you can get on with how to fix things>
3.>Change what you can change>
4.>Recognise and accept what or who you are not in control of changing, and change how you VIEW the situation or the person / persons - your view, your thoughts - you do control>
5.>It can be healthy for you to ‘let go’ of what or who is causing the stress – you will most probably need guidance with this you will most probably need guidance with this as it can be a serious matter for you to look atand needs consideration. Letting go is always with forgiveness and love, from a place of self love, and is about freeing yourself from burden.>
6.>Seek another perspective. Look at things from another point of view, how would you advise someone else in your situation? Ask a trusted friend or colleague for their point of view or advice>
7.>If the problem is a financial one, seek help sooner rather than later, the banks can help, and there is the Money Advice service and the CAB who can be invaluable to you If it is a legal matter, again seek help quickly.>
8.>Take ‘time out’ all together if necessary – your GP can advise >
9.>Address any health issues you may have ignored, or neglected, your health is so valuable to you. Even if you are fearful, nothing can be dealt with unless you know what you are dealing with >
10.>Striving for ‘perfection’ in yourself or others is a big cause of stress (perceived perfection a lot of the time, as what is ‘perfection’? what it is to you - isn’t necissarily what it is to someone else), you do want a job to be done well, strive for excellence instead and be kinder to yourself and others for (human) imperfections and mistakes>
11.>If it is a case of feeling overwhelmed and procrastinating – sit down, preferably with help, and identify all tasks then prioritise, then set a schedule for them to be done, (the art of time / task management) what can wait? What needs to be done at all? Or what can be delegated? –some tasks can easily be given to someone else to do, or be shared >
12.>Focus on one task at a time start with 10 minutes – 20 minutes - 30 minutes – put a timer on – do you need a break? If so take a break, then back to it, build to 90 minutes maximum on a task, then take a 15 to 20 minute break. It is surprising what you can achieve – freeing up time for other things>
13.>Get off private social media in ‘task time’ and turn off your phone!>
14.>Write down 3 things to do for the next day, before winding down for the evening, to help you wake up the next day with focus and purpose, whether it is work tasks or doing 20 minutes plus exercise, reading for yourself or with children or some ironing or making a point to phone someone you have not spoken to in a while>
15.>Also set out things for the next day; like what you are going to wear, things you need to have with you, a packed lunch ready in the fridge, money for parking etc… it really helps with the morning and sets you up well for the day>
16.>Set a time slot to send or answer emails and phone calls or to catch up on private social media>
17.>Remember the phone is there for your convenience – if you choose to answer it you are saying you are available! You will generally know if it is really important.>
18.>Learn to say NO so you don’t take on too much, or get into something you really don’t want to do. Be realistic about what you can achieve, it is good to challenge yourself, however in times of stress be kinder to yourself>
19.>Make time to do something fun, watch a comedy, spend time with friends and family – reconnect>
20.>Relax with a nice warm bath, read, take a long leisurely walk, listen to music, go out dancing or to see a film, etc…>
21.>Have a massage, or haircut, spa treatment or a break, it doesn’t have to be expensive>
22.>Another very useful thing is to do a ‘skills swap’ you will have a skill someone else could use, in exchange for a skill they have – no money needs to change hands, it is a matter of allowing an hour or so of time each and it can work very well.>
23.>Breathing exercises, Mindfulness, Meditation and Yoga are all very beneficial for relieving stress and help you focus in the now, being aware and present, reducing heart rate and other stressful symptoms enabling you to feel calmer and more able to view things objectively and allowing your creative imagination help you find solutions>
24.>Make some time to exercise – there are proven benefits, to physical and mental health, especially being outdoors. Find what appeals to you, join a group, a gym or buddy up with someone, a friend, a colleague a family member including your children (if you have them) and walk, run, get on bikes, play tennis or football there is so much you could do, walk the dog, a neighbours dog, do gardening – your own or someone who needs help with theirs>
25.>Find or re-kindle a hobby >
26.>Pets can be a good stress reliever; cats, dogs, fish, rabbits etc… they can help with re-focusing and being calm, or getting you up and out>
27.>Get enough sleep, sleep is so important for our health and cognitive function – be strict about this, and have a bedtime routine - wind down properly before bed, no devices on late, a hot milky drink, a bath, read instead of watching TV- get prepared for a positive day ahead>
28.>Apart from writing down 3 tasks for the following day (12) a great thing to also do is to write down 3 good things from the day or about yourself, that mean something to you, anything – Gratitude – and being thankful, helps you remember that your life as a whole has good things in it, reminding you of what you can do and do have – do this at least for 21 days, read it back during times when you need a boost>
29.>Make sure you take time to eat healthily through out the day –a good breakfast is essential, most especially in times of stress, even if you do not feel like it– take regular breaks to have a drink and food that is good for you and will sustain you – you will be more productive – therefore reducing your stress – you may want to consider vitamins and supplements as during stress these do deplete quite quickly>
30.>Make sure you take time to eat healthily through out the day –a good breakfast is essential, most especially in times of stress, even if you do not feel like it– take regular breaks to have a drink and food that is good for you and will sustain you – instead of empty sugary things and you will be more productive and have more energy – therefore reducing your stress – you may want to consider vitamins and supplements as during stress these do deplete quite quickly>
31.>Work on your self esteem and Confidence, and developing resilience, so you are better able to deal with or even avert stress in the future>
click here if you have not read the article S is for Stress
Anxiety has been mentioned again on BBC Breakfast, as speculation as to why Singer / Songwriter Will Young has quit Strictly. He has openly mentioned in the past his struggles with Anxiety. Whether you watch the programme or not doesn't matter. The important thing is it shines a light on the Impact that not having a healthy mental health can have on your life, your family, your job and your business. Below is an article I written.
What is Mental Health?
Mostly the term Mental Health is thought of as the opposite of Health, that is: mental health problems or issues, mental illness and disorders. Not intentionally of course, but it seems Mental Health is being associated in this way.
A definition of Mental Health is:
A person’s condition with regard to their psychological, emotional and social well-being. How we think, feel and act.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) stresses the importance of the positive dimension of Mental Health and says:
‘Mental Health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contributions to his or her community’
Of Health in general the WHO say:
‘Healthy is a state of complete physical, mental and social well -being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’
Reading the above statements, really highlights why our Mental Health and well-being are so important for us to look after and invest in. Feeling healthy mentally / psychologically does impact on how we think, feel and act, in all areas of our lives, family life, relationships, socially, at school, college, work and in business, how we look after ourselves and others. Also affecting our general attitude and mindset in how we cope with life's ups and downs. Being much more than just having a 'positive mental attitude'.
If we feel mentally healthy we tend to be, and feel, happy, confident, relaxed and are more robust, tending to bounce back from knocks more easily. We have better resilience, which enables us to cope with, deal with and manage effectively, any stresses, changes, people, circumstances and situations that may be challenging in some way, in a healthy, positive, more solution focused way, that serves us and others in a good way. We can evaluate things in a logical way, and feel in control of our life.
Consciously focusing on choosing how we act and react to our world - soon leads to easily, at subconscious level, (without conscious thought) making better choices in everything we do and say, lessening the ‘risk’ of things not being right and therefore the law of cause and effect working for us in a good way.
Having positive Mental Health and well-being, and nurturing it, means we grow in many ways as a person, harnessing our emotional intelligence, meaning we understand ourselves more, and are mindful of how we impact on others around us and situations. We take time to also be mindful and understanding of others, and the actions and reactions they may choose, which could be for a myriad of reasons.
Importantly we have a great relationship with ourselves and will make choices that also enhance our physical health, like the food we eat, what exercise we do, getting enough quality sleep, giving ourselves time for fun, for family and friends, and our interests. Which all in turn improves our Mental Health and well-being.
This all lessens our risk of developing and suffering from prolonged Anxiety and Stress and the related physical impact these can have on our health. Our general physical health is improved and we tend to also have healthier immune systems, meaning less colds and other viruses. Productivity, Motivation and Performance at school and work is increased.
So looking after You from top to toe, from inside out, is incredibly important.
Invest in yourself- your Mental and Physical well-being
Value yourself- be confident to say No to what you don't want, and Yes to what you do want, which leads to increased confidence.
Teach and help those around you to do the same.
The impact can not be underestimated, life will most certainly be better all round.
When you're OK your world is better
Do go easy on yourself though too, as not one person is perfect- we don't always get it right, we all make mistakes and have off days; after-all ‘To err is human’
The important thing is to see ‘mistakes’ or ‘failures’ or changes, as learning opportunities, helping us to grow as a person.
If we for the most part act with good will and conscious thought, and set positive intentions, we will form great habits and our natural daily ‘default’ will be a positive one, leading to positive results.
Our Potential, Productivity and Happiness will Soar and will be a direct reflection of what is possible with positive Mental Health and well-being.
The work I do with clients means a lot to me. It is a partnership, a working together. I make sure clients do understand that there has to be a level of commitment from them and a letting go of self-limiting beliefs, to enable them to open their mind to trying some techniques that may seem alien to them at first. The testimonial below shows the amazing power of working together to create positive change.
The Health and Safety Executive reported that 9.9 million working days were lost in 2014 / 15 due to anxiety, stress and depression.
Out of 43% of working days in 2014/15 were lost due to ill health 35% was stress related.
I have developed a fun informative interactive course for Employers and their Employees to develop skills and techniques that boost Motivation and Confidence to use both in the workplace and personal life.