On Sales | HBR Post: Yes, You Can Learn to Sell

There is a fun Hindi term: Sale’oo. Which essentially means a person in the Sales profession… but the word is surprisingly close to ‘chaloo’, which, loosely translated, is a cunning, crafty person.

Fail. Sales is a most noble, most gratifying profession.

I have never been in what is commonly called ‘field sales’, but have covered all the other aspects of the sales cycle. And might I say, I am mighty proud of it.

In my book, there are just two parts to a business. Sales and Delivery. Everything else is support.

Here’s a fine article from HBR.

 

Website 101 for the creative types

You are a Musician. You are a Band. You are a Writer. And you want to set up a website for yourself; your book, your music, your life. Heck, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?

So I was speaking with this friend of mine from college, a musician. It surprises me that it took him this long to break away from the staid stable corporate job and chase his musical dream.

This post comes out of a couple of back-and-forth emails…. All you musicians, bands, writers: please take note.

The first point to understand is that the website is merely a tool, a medium. It’s a medium to reach out to your audience, to reach out to your would-be-sponsors, to get published, to be hired, to be loved (and your end-product to be purchased. And read / listened) by people. That’s why you are here, right? Or why are you here? Put your novel up on a blog. Put your music up on Myspace.

The second is that the website is just one of the many tools you use. An email is a tool. Your Facebook and Mypace pages are tools. Your tweets are tools. Your live gigs are tools. Your book-reading sessions are tools. Your Youtube video is a tool.

Third: What sets the website apart is that most often than not, it is the first thing that your would-be fan sees when (s)he types your name on the search page. It is first impression, and you would like to make a good one.

Okay? Now back to your website. First, answer these questions.

1.       What are you offering?

You have a band. You have had a couple successful gigs; a few fans; a stalker … You are on your way. Answer this, then. What does your band stand for? Not the simple ‘Avante-garde-pop with a bit of punk and some Ali Farka Toure influence” or the “A bildungsroman on growing up in the capital city of India”– that’s what you do. That’s what you have created. Who are you? What do you stand for? What is your promise to your audience? What should they expect from you?

2.       You are a brand. What’s that brand? What is your brand image?

You are a mystical sufi-influenced rock band. You are an anonymous writer. Then why do you want to make yourself public, like a frog? It’s self-defeating. If you are Where’s Fluffy, you should not have a twitter feed, leave alone a web-page. You understand what we are getting at?

3.       What do you want to achieve via the website? Why should you have a website? What purpose does it intend to serve you?

This is important. The first question should not be ‘why not a website too’, but rather ‘why a website’? My friend is, in my opinion, a genius; and I feel he needs to have a website. But I am a fan and a friend. He is the artiste; he is the one in charge of his image. If the website does not add to his image, then why invest the energy into it? If the website does not help in reaching out to the influencers (music producers, record labels, publishing houses et al) or the audience (readers, listeners); then why have a website?

4.       A one-liner.

Now write a one-liner about your offering to the world. Your world-view, your music, stems from that one-liner. Your website obviously is an extension. Think about the above three points, when you are getting at this. Speak with your agent if you have any. Ensure you are coherent and consistent; in all the media outlets.

Now fill in the gaps and create your website.

  • There are hundreds of places from where you can buy your domain. (GoDaddy etc are common ones)
  • There are myriad website templates that you can pick up online. Google them. Ensure that they mirror your image. A spartan wordsmith should not have an orange-and-red-and-green flames-and-popups, and a glam-rock band should not have a plain-white background, bare-details website.
  • Link all your other tools into the website.
  • Your twitter feeds into your website.
  • Your Facebook posts do the same.
  • I should, with one click, go to your Myspace page where your music could be listened to.
  • I should, with one click, read a sample story or an excerpt of your soon to be published novel.
  • You should have a homepage that gets the attention you want. And is brief.
  • You should have a page which mentions what other people are saying about you.
  • Normally, you should have a page which gives your detailed contact information.
  • If you have a blog, link to the website.

And that’s just the basic stuff.

But you are on your way already. You know what you are looking for; I don’t think you need any more advice from this uncreative old suit.

You are the creative mind. So show the creative.

Wow us!

Last Question: What is our pedigree? Why should you listen to us?

There is an option. Don’t. But we’d read through a bucket-load of information on this topic available on the internet, spoke on this to a few creative people we know, and this piece is well-researched. And well, we have been marketers. Not books, not music bands, but other things; companies, products and services.  Some of them were excellent companies, super services and mind-blowing products. Some of them were rank bad. Just like there are good and bad writers, and good and bad musicians…

And good and bad marketers.

So do some more of your own reading, and get at your website. Or don’t. But don’t go in blind, please…

The ‘Right’ price for your shovel, (or) what has ethics got to do with it?

Remember this old post where we had written about The right price for your products?

Taking it forward from there, we would like to bring to you this post from HBR.

After a Blizzard, what’s a fair price for a shovel?

We discussed, and what follows was the quick post one of us wrote, and in fact insisted upon over email.

Haha..simple, pricing objective needs to be clear….it is not just about one season profit.

Also if we are assuming that the shopkeeper will gather inventory before the start of winter, then why won’t the consumers do the necessary preparation for the season and buy shovels and other necessities?

….now, there could be some lazy bones like me who will start digging a well when they are thirsty…also, there could be some instance where shovels will break…now, if a shopkeeper wants to squeeze money from those cases in point, it is absolutely fine, if the pricing objective is being met.

i.e if my business (my shop’s sales) is unpredictable and I am not sure about sustainability till/ during next season, and I am really in a cash crunch situation, I would milk the cow by increasing the price……think if I don’t have this unpredictable  cash crunch situation, but I increase the price, what will happen if rest of the season (even next year season) is normal winter – I will lose customer loyalty………………………………..

NOW, OF COURSE if it is not about me, but we all lobby and increase the price at once (and there is not a game theory defaulter), enjoy the profits (you may never enjoy this in future, as consumers would be extra cautious (prepared in advance) from next time onward – But not all; humans are humans) 

I hope you are keeping track of the social media mayhem with the Applebee’s check that was posted online. Read this post from the ‘Single Minded Proposition’ blog. This should tell you almost everything you need to know about it.
How important keeping one’s reputation online has become! And most organizations (especially small-midsized Indian ones) haven’t quite figured out this monster yet.
Will, dear readers, write a post soon on one of my favorite topics, a company’s Glassdoor.com page.

single-minded proposition

Over a week ago, the social media world was buzzing about an incident at an Applebee’s restaurant in St. Louis.  Here’s what happened in a nutshell.  A patron at Applebee’s, who happened to be a local Pastor goes to dinner with a large group of people.  Applebee’s automatically adds 18% to large parties.  When the check comes, the Pastor stiffs waitress and writes an obnoxious message on the check saying “I give God 10%, why should I give you 18%?”

Another waitress sees the message on the check, takes a picture of it and posts it to Reddit.  Thus begins a social media firestorm leading to the firing of the waitress who posted the picture and making Applebees social media team pull all-nighters for several days.  

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Merely Sharing: Electronic Writing Pads

With this post, we will start sharing stuff around the internet that we have read recently. The series will be called ‘Merely Sharing’.

Many of these are only peripherally linked to what we generally write about on this blog. These are not the ‘Read This’ posts either, which we implore you to read, they are so good.

These are and will still be somewhat related to the world of Business (No Kidding!), but not directly to the general theme of this blog. We will preface the headline with the phrase ‘Merely Sharing’, so you, dear reader, will know immediately that this is not the normal blog post. We think this is important, now that this blog is having some readership.

So okay, to today’s Merely Sharing:

Electronic Writing Pads (Link here)

There has been an interesting project we had been working on, and this research on Electronic Writing Pads was part of it. This article especially is a nice deep-dive on the product, and variants.

Would you, dear reader, know more about this? Tell us. Educate us.

Shortstack: How to evaluate your Facebook page

Do you keep in touch with Shortstack? we have been, and think that their blog (sociallystacked) is a little bit excellent. Do read often, strongly recommended.

Here’s the read-today of the day.

How to evaluate your Facebook page – a checklist.

We love checklists. (Sometimes) Operations Consultants like us love checklists. Here’s one, and (what we assume is a) good one. And a practical one. So go take a dekko. Cheers.

HBR Post: You are rude because your boss is rude. Plus, an apology.

Another on the read-this series. HBR is great, aren’t they?

And while this blog might seem like re-posting way too many HBR articles, the only way we can stop it is if HBR starts posting a lot of trash. Which won’t  happen. So….

Here’s why you are rude at work. Because your boss is rude at work.

Additional reading suggestion would be the book ‘The No – Asshole Rule” by Robert I. Sutton. (Amazon.com link here). I liked the book without being overwhelmed by it.

 

(Where’s the apology, you ask. Okay, here it is. A colleague complained on reading the previous post that while we have spoken about ‘Death by SEO’, most of the visitors to the blog came here for the metrics. So where are the metrics? Isn’t my anti-SEO rant basically typically SEO-rich fluff?

Ouch!

Okay, here’s what we will do. we will put a post on this blog soon about my adventures with Learning and Development / Competency Management metrics… along with some definite guidelines i.e. some fluff and some meat. How’s that?)