We are innately social creatures, hardwired to seek each other out and profoundly shaped by our relationships and alliances.
Our ability to empathise, relate to one another and communicate our thoughts and ideas is what sets us apart and makes us uniquely human. We naturally seek deeper associations with people as a way of identifying and better understanding others and ourselves. But the truth is, it’s not always easy to make those connections.
The bonds we create are key to building our businesses and creating full and happy lives. However, in a busy world full of distractions it can be hard to build friendships, especially when we have limited time.
Here are 10 ways you can begin to build deeper connections with anyone you meet.
When someone is talking to you, it’s important that you really focus on what they’re saying and pay attention to the details they give.
You can learn so much about someone just by really listening to them and noticing both their verbal and nonverbal communication.
Checking your phone or scanning the room to see who to talk to next is rude and dismissive and shows that you don’t really care about what the other person is saying. Make eye contact. Ask questions. Focus on getting to know the other person, even if you only have limited time to talk.
2Make a good first impression
Body language is intimately tied to how others perceive you and their first impressions of you. How you hold yourself, your posture and your facial expressions are cues others will look at to appraise what type of person you are and whether you are approachable and likable.
Be aware of your expressions, tone of voice and gestures.
Do you make eye contact throughout a conversation, indicating interest? Or do you keep your arms folded in front of you, forming a barrier? Remember that nonverbal communication is just as important as the words you use.
3What’s my name?
Not everyone is gifted at putting names to faces, and it can be particularly difficult to remember names if you are in a social setting where you’re meeting a lot of people in a short amount of time. But remembering people’s names and being able to address them directly will instantly make them feel acknowledged and welcomed.
When you meet people for the first time, try saying their name several times during your conversation and introducing them to others. For example: “Nice to meet you, Larry. Have you met Josie?” The more times you say their name, the easier it will be to remember it.
Ask people about themselves. What are their hobbies or pastimes? Find something that will help lock their name into your memory bank. Try to think of something funny or memorable to associate with them or use a mnemonic device to remember their name (e.g., Calvin from California or Bobbie with the bobbed haircut).
4Have a connection story
Make yourself memorable by having a story about yourself that gives insight into who you are and what you’re about.
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, come up with a narrative about why this is important to you and what experiences have fueled your desires and life goals.
Your connection story should be specific and include a series of events as well as other people. It should be meaningful and give people a window into your beliefs and motivations. It should also make others feel comfortable sharing their stories with you.
Use storytelling to give people a glimpse into who you are and what you believe. Stories capture people’s attention more than rattling off dry facts and information.
Find ways to make yourself invaluable and people will appreciate you. Being of service to others, even in small ways, is a great way to connect.
Maybe you have a tip on a job that will be coming open, or maybe you know someone who is looking for services they offer. It could be something as small as lending them a book or telling them about a great TED talk or YouTube video on a topic they are interested in. Learn to embrace generosity and you will make yourself and others more successful.
6Do your research
If you find that having off-the-cuff conversations makes your palms sweat and prompts you to run for the door, consider doing a little groundwork ahead of time. Thinking through some questions to ask people will help put your mind at ease and alleviate anxiety.
The goal isn’t to have a list of questions you can pull out and recite. The idea is that a little prep work will help you feel confident and relaxed so you can have a fluid conversation. Before you go to a social function or networking event, come up with three open-ended or thought-provoking questions to help keep your conversation moving.
Make sure they aren’t too invasive or personal; however, they should be deep enough to make the person think about their response. A more meaningful and deeper conversation will make you more memorable and help others feel a connection to you.
7Spark interest with a conversation piece
Sometimes all it takes to stand out in a crowd is showing off your unique fashion style. Do you have a signature colour you like to wear? A fondness for Hawaiian shirts? Or perhaps you like wearing Converse sneakers with your dress pants.
Wearing something that can be a conversation starter will help you seem both approachable and unique. However, make sure that you aren’t opening yourself up to be the butt of jokes or turning people off with something potentially offensive.
Think of this as a chance to show a little flair, help you stand out from the crowd and put a smile on people’s faces.
8Wear your heart on your sleeve
We all have thoughts, ideas, beliefs and goals. Be willing to share a bit of yourself – who you are and what you believe in – and others will naturally be curious and want to engage you.
Have you lived an interesting life or are you passionate about a cause? People will find you more interesting and memorable if they know more about your experiences and what makes you tick.
This doesn’t mean you should monopolise conversations. Be careful not to pontificate or lecture others on a cause or issue you care about. Simply embrace your passions and share them with others – it may be a great way to engage in deeper conversations or friendly debates.
9Be open to learning
As great as it is to share your life experiences, you should remember nobody likes a know-it-all. Always be open to hearing other people’s ideas and stories. Share the stage and resist the urge to always try and “one up” someone with your knowledge or expertise.
You can break down walls by hearing what someone else has to say.
Chances are you don’t actually know everything, and being open to hearing another point of view will shed light on something new.
10Show you care
Being genuine and showing empathy and kindness will never go out of style, and costs you absolutely nothing. Show your gratitude to others by saying thank you and being grateful to those who help you.
You can start building deeper connections with people simply by showing your human side.
If you are uplifting, positive and show common courtesy to those around you, you will begin building bonds that go beyond business. Never underestimate the power of real friendships.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
3 Ecommerce Trends You Must Prepare For In 2019
The ecommerce explosion continues, but there’s also an element of evolution. To take your ecommerce presence to the next level, take advantage of these emerging trends.
Retail ecommerce sales continue trending upward, and consumer confidence has reached an 18-year high. Conditions are ripe for brands with an established ecommerce presence, but that doesn’t mean business as usual will always suffice. Instead, the organisations that excel will be those with a forward-thinking approach to ecommerce.
Ecommerce is thriving because enough companies have kept up with changing technology and consumer expectations. For example, as mobile purchases increased in popularity, ecommerce retailers began specifically catering to this shopping avenue. Mobile purchases constituted the majority of ecommerce sales in 2016, and eMarketer estimates that 72.9 percent of online purchases will be made on a mobile device by 2021.
Device preferences aren’t the only thing in transition – search methods are also quickly evolving as technology becomes more sophisticated. According to predictions from ComScore, 50 percent of all search queries will be made via voice by 2020. And it’s likely that more people will be audio searching for buyable goods soon: Devices such as Google Home Hub and Amazon Echo Show are integrating voice and image search so that shoppers can see what they’re asking to buy. Ecommerce retailers that can’t cater to a voice-activated future (Read: optimise for natural language search) will quickly lose ground to their rivals.
Ecommerce companies are also partnering with payment processors to make online purchases as frictionless as possible. By offering payment options such as PayPal, Venmo and Amazon Pay at checkout, customers can leave their credit cards in their wallets, so buying becomes even easier.
No matter how mature your ecommerce presence might be now, you need to keep looking ahead to ensure future success. To elevate your ecommerce efforts in 2019, take advantage of these three emerging trends.
1. Sell your wares on social
Effective marketing is about optimising your messaging to appeal to your target audience, but messaging won’t matter if the audience never sees it. Meeting your audience members where they spend their time is crucial, and here’s a tip: If your customer base is online, it’s on social media one-third of that time.
If you’re not selling on social media, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Most social media platforms now support integrated buy buttons that transfer users to your website to complete a sale, and apps such as Instagram and Snapchat offer shoppable stories, too.
Retail brands like Jordan have also capitalised on event-related social commerce opportunities. For the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, Jordan partnered with Snapchat to offer access codes to an exclusive sale of the special edition Air Jordan III Tinker shoe. Users could only receive a code if they were near the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and the sneakers sold out in 23 minutes.
2. Remix the buyer’s reality
Mixed reality technologies have yet to see mainstream adoption, but they have made huge strides in that direction. Vertebrae’s launch of its AR/VR ecommerce platform Axis aims to prove that the tech is much more than a novelty, and IKEA’s Place app provides shoppers with an AR-powered glimpse into what IKEA products would look like in their own homes.
“Augmented reality and virtual reality will be a total game changer for retail in the same way as the internet. Only this time, much faster,” says Michael Valdsgaard, leader of digital transformation at Inter IKEA Systems.
AR might not be everywhere yet, but ecommerce retailers that successfully incorporate AR capabilities into the shopping experience stand to gain a significant advantage over their competitors.
3. Strengthen your Amazon strategy
Amazon has established a pre-eminent place in the ecommerce ecosystem, and Salmon’s “Future Shopper Report” indicates that 68 percent of American shoppers head straight to the site when browsing for products. What’s more, even when customers plan to buy from another site or store, 80 percent read Amazon reviews and check prices there.
Clearly, mastering Amazon is critical. Trevor George, founder and CEO of Amazon marketing agency Blue Wheel Media, says that the only way for sellers to win on the platform is through ads: “The future of Amazon is advertising, and if a brand wants to make money now and into the future, it needs to be able to navigate Amazon’s advertising platforms.”
According to George, that means investing in auto-bidding tools such as Prestozon or Ignite, isolating the right search terms, and incorporating negative keywords so your appliance company isn’t spending money to appear in searches for Easy-Bake Ovens.
The ecommerce boom isn’t waning anytime soon, and capitalising on it requires a thoughtful strategy that keeps your brand ahead of the competition. Keep social commerce, mixed reality shopping and Amazon advertising on your mind through 2019.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Get Ready To Sell Your Business – Advice From Marnus Broodryk
If you’re thinking about selling your business, there are some critical steps you need to make first.
MAKING THE SALE
A successful transaction will mostly boil down to having a solid business with great systems in place that is making decent money and the starting point for these transactions will be financial information.
Some entrepreneurs are ‘starters’, they like to start a business, get it off the ground and then flog it. Others are ‘growers’, they look for existing businesses and have the ability to grow them beyond their original value. Both will probably get to the same end point: Selling the business.
But entrepreneurs are often misled when it comes to the sale. They have put everything into the business and it is worth a huge amount to them because of it. But buyers are seldom willing to match the price, because what is being sold, and what is being bought, are not the same thing. Sellers see the emotional and financial investments they’ve put in; the buyer mostly looks at one thing: Profit.
Effort does not equal profit. The balance is out.
Prepare for the challenges of selling
Once you get to market you will soon realise that there are, unfortunately, fewer buyers than you’d like. Unlike listed companies, you can’t sell shares easily and quickly on a public platform. Instead, you need to find an interested individual or business, many of whom just aren’t buying what you’re selling.
Some of them are, but that doesn’t guarantee a sale. Most SMEs must put their faith in a cash deal, since banks will never finance anyone wanting to buy them. In reality, this means that you may have a genuinely interested buyer for your business, who won’t be able to get finance for it from the bank. So, after a few months, you’re back to square one. After a few rounds of this cycle many entrepreneurs will just sell out of desperation, forgetting what the business could actually be worth.
Selling a business can be very emotionally draining and this will be compounded by many people who will waste your time and mess you around. You spent a large portion of your life building this, but others will not see it the same way you do. Ensure that you prepare and mitigate against all of those issues, and have the stomach for the fight.
Always keep the end in mind
If you are looking at exiting your business, it is crucial to allow enough time to prepare yourself for it. Maybe you’re simply tired of your business and you just want to get out, but, because the business is not in a great state at the moment, you’re too fed up to care, and you simply don’t have the energy to fix the issues.
You’re at risk of letting your business go for next to nothing. All the hard work for hardly any reward.
If you have the end in mind, and prepare for it, it can be a very different, more lucrative story. A successful transaction will mostly boil down to having a solid business with great systems in place that is making decent money and the starting point for these transactions will be financial information. You need to have proper financial records for your business and you need to be able to show the potential buyer how much the business is making and how it is making it. It sounds so elementary, yet most entrepreneurs don’t have financial information when they want to sell their businesses. If you think you may want to sell in the future, make sure you’re keeping solid records now.
If your business’s financials are messy, start cleaning them up at least twelve months before trying to sell your business. Remove all your personal expenses from the business and ensure that all transactions are properly recorded, and that your taxes are up to date and accurate. Work with your accountant to prepare a sales pack with all your financial information, including details of your clients, employees, suppliers, what your strong and weak points are and how the business could grow in the future. It’s at this stage that you can pick up on issues and resolve them before taking your business to the market, making it a much more attractive product.
With some (more) hard work, you will be in a great position to sell your business, you will have serious buyers and the valuation that you deserve for all your hard work. If you don’t, why bother?
4 Rules Of Engagement That Wildly Increase Your Odds Of Closing The Deal
If someone calls about what you sell, call them back. Not in a week, right now.
Sales is a process that can be learned but is comprised of many topics and categories that you have to master to become an expert. No one book or recording can cover everything you need to know to become great.
Consider that every salesperson has a unique personality and then add to that that every customer interaction and customer personality is unique and you can see how complicated it can become. Surgery is almost less complicated for the doctor because he is dealing with bodies that are unconscious while the salesperson is dealing with personalities, egos, insecurities, uncertainty, economics, competition and more.
Here are a few of the topics that salespeople need to learn and understand:
New to Sales
- Fundamentals of Selling
- Road to the Sale
- Handling Objections
- Negotiating Strategies
- Social Media and Sales
- Closing the Deal
- Follow Up for Owners
- Follow Up for the Unclosed
- Sales Manager
- Sales Meetings
- Understanding Customers
- Incoming Calls
- Outbound Calls
- Cold Calls
- Internet Response
- Customer Service
It’s very easy to become overwhelmed with the different topics so let’s narrow the focus and talk specifically about four general rules to follow once you have actually gotten a customer or prospect in front of you. What approach will you take? Not knowing means you’ll be missing out on deals every day.
In business, you must have a pipeline and a belief system that you can sell to anyone. Once you have become engaged here are four general rules to help you in the process.
No matter what the buyer says, states or demands, you should under no circumstance ever disagree, make the buyer wrong or suggest their request is impossible. This simple strategy is very powerful and will save you lots of sales once you perfect it.
The old saying – the customer is never wrong – is not true. In fact, often the customer is wrong; sometimes they even lie, but that doesn’t mean you should call them out. When you tell someone you can’t, you won’t, you’re not allowed to or that’s impossible, you only cause the customer to become more dug-in on their position. You make it more difficult to come to an agreement.
Train, drill and rehearse avoiding all variations of no, not, never, can’t and won’t. Any and all variations of “no” and “can’t” must be eliminated from your vocabulary.
Now when you hear this you may think, “I don’t want to mislead the customer and I am not going to over promise and then be unable to deliver.” The problem here is when you tell someone early on you are unable to do something because you are “so honest’” you just eliminated any chance of being able to do anything for the customer. Try this when a customer asks for the impossible, “I never say no until I have to – if that is possible, there is no better place for you to be.”
Role play this law of selling until you no longer get into confrontations with your buyer and make them more difficult than they already are. Perfect “no problem, happy to, my pleasure, exactly what I am thinking, done, you got it” and then learn how to negotiate from a place of agreement. This does not mean that you simply lie down and give the buyer everything they want. It means you use the agreement to keep the negotiations loose enough to be negotiated.
Just because this is simple do not underestimate the time and energy necessary to get GREAT at it.
You must give them an offer and your proposal should have a figure and be presented with confidence. These seems basic but 72 percent of salespeople never present a proposal to their customer, which is part of the reasons why 87 percent of all salespeople miss their quota.
Simply increase the number of people you show a written proposal to and you will close more deals.
Wrap the deal up and get them to purchase. When you get to the close, make sure you are with the decision maker. Qualify them and have a sense of urgency. Without urgency, there’s no point in doing the deal today or tomorrow.
Selling, presenting, demonstrating, promoting, marketing, building trust, etc. are all very commendable and admirable actions but in no way compare to finally closing the deal. Closing is when you finally benefit your buyer.
Closing allows you and your company to expand. All the things that took place prior to the close were necessary to get to the close but will not allow for expansion and survival. Close the deal! Be willing to do whatever it takes to close the deal, knowing that only when you close do you provide any real value to the customer.
The close is ultimately for the buyer, not for you or your company. Until the customer closes they cannot benefit from your service or offer.
Related: 6 Ways To Win A Better Deal
This is the Holy Grail of sales. It’s the most important thing there is but few people and companies do it. Consider that 48 percent of salespeople never follow up and that 64 percent of companies admit they do not have any organised way to nurture a lead. Follow up is a massive opportunity. Then add to that the average company takes almost 72 hours to follow up a lead, even though contacting a customer in the first five to 10 minutes increases your chances of contacting the customer 900 times. Text them in the first five minutes and your chances of closing them increase 50X.
Learn the rules and use the rules and make deals.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship3 days ago
Want To Get That Side Hustle You’ve Been Dreaming Of Off The Ground This Year?
Performance & Growth2 weeks ago
How Matt Brown Quadrupled His Business By Becoming A Niche Player
Entrepreneur Today1 week ago
5 Businesses You Should Start in 2019
Entrepreneur Today2 weeks ago
Entrepreneurs Organisation Crowns the Winner of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards
Start-up Advice1 week ago
How To Apply Lean Principles To Your Start-up’s Productivity And Time Management
Entrepreneur Today2 days ago
Government Injection To SMEs Cautiously Welcomed
Entrepreneur Today3 days ago
2019 National Budget Speech: Five Positive, Key Take Outs For Local SMEs
Innovation6 days ago
The Art Of Pivoting: How To Know If The Time Is Right