Sincerity in a hectic world

“Time is the most valuable thing that a man can spend.” – Diogenes

Most of us spend a good deal of each day using verbal skills to communicate with friends, family and business associates as well as casual acquaintances. This can result in a huge amount of conversation and the choice of many thousands of different forms of syntax, regardless of the language being spoken. However, how much of what is being relayed qualifies as truth and how much is pure dreaming or just saying what you think the other person wants to hear?

How often do we hear the phrases, “we must have coffee soon” or “let’s make sure to get together before too long”? So easy to let these words float out of our mouths, but what is the point if they are purely being used flippantly? I had an occasion recently where someone whom I had known for many years accused me of being of no use to her in my business endeavours as I was obviously too busy to do a good job, as I had never bothered to have tea with her! Being told, “Oh, you must pop in and have tea one day” does not constitute an invitation and being self-employed, there is very little time to socialise, and certainly no time to just “pop in” on the off chance that I may be welcome. In trying to explain to this very obnoxious woman that my time is constantly being taken up with my business and trying to earn a living, I was very abrasively shouted down. However, if she really had wanted to speak to me over a cup of tea or coffee, she should have made the invitation genuine and I would have certainly made the time to see her.

Since the advent of social media, things seem to have become far worse as far as meaning what one says and being genuine instead of trying to just make an impression. We see all these flowery “Love you my angel” with the response “Love you more”, etc. etc. and one wonders why anyone would need to put comments like these out there for the world to read instead of just telling the person in question the very same words?

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What is it about the human race that there is this need to be seen to be other than who one really is. Not to say that we need to show our bad side to others, but let’s try to be genuine instead of fake. How much better to only use certain words of endearment when the person you have strong feelings for is hearing them coming out of your mouth and not splashed on a screen for all to read. So often these comments are totally cringeworthy – especially in cases where you know just what the people concerned are really like.  The results of a recent survey showed that the happiest relationships are those where the people involved do not post personal comments on social media.

Nothing boosts our mood more than having a friend or acquaintance phoning us or sending a personal message to say that they are thinking of you and when can you meet? Now there is a genuine desire to get together and it wasn’t put out there as public news.  I get the feeling that the reason there is so much loneliness in the world today is due to us not taking the time to say and do the meaningful things which, as human beings, we all need in order to make us feel cherished and worthwhile. It’s just become far too easy to get so involved with one’s own life and day to day existence that to clear one’s conscience with those flippant words, “we must get together for coffee soon!” have become way too common.  Putting messages out there in the social field could also be a quick fix which eliminates the need for giving up on personal time.

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So many wonderful words are spoken at memorial services after a friend or family member has died, but when they were living did they ever hear the same words being said to them? In many instances they have been more or less abandoned by these self-same people due to their busy lives and them preferring to spend leisure hours doing more exciting things than paying a visit or making a phone call. Sincerity often means making sacrifices of one’s time in order to do it right when it actually can make a difference in the other person’s life. Young or old, the need to feel special is part and parcel of the human condition and it is often those who appear to be totally self- sufficient who drastically crave the human touch.

Very often just making the time to do the right thing turns out to be an extremely rewarding experience. When you realise just how much your selfless act of sharing some of your valuable “free time” with that other person has cheered them up as they face life’s challenges, then you are usually rewarded with a feeling of self- worth and satisfaction. So being sincere in caring has two-fold benefits which are not achieved by sending meaningless messages via social media just to show all those “friends” (many of whom you have never met and probably have no desire to meet either!) what a great person you are.

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A friend of mine who sells intricate beaded ornamental items at a flea market stall told me of someone who also used to have a stall at the same flea market who suggested that they become friends on Facebook. My friend was actually angry at the request because the person in question had never ever bothered to pass the time of day with him having been in the same place, weekend after weekend over the past 10 years. Again, is this sincerity or just idle words and why bother? If you cannot make friends with another person face to face then what on earth would you have to say to them via social media? Having hundreds of these so-called “friends” may be great for one’s ego, but what is the point unless it is purely to try to sell your product or advertise your business. That may well be the case, but if you really do want a friend, you have to be prepared to be a friend, in the true sense of the word. The Oxford dictionary defines “friend” as “one joined to another in intimacy and affection”. By the same token, the word “sincere” means “not simulated or assumed” i.e. genuine.

This is not intended to create feelings of guilt at all, but many of us are like the proverbial hamster spinning around and around on his wheel and we need to sometimes jump off the wheel and do the right thing by that other person. Just a thought!

“And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years” – Abraham Lincoln

Direct Sales – Chapter 3

Where do you find your customers?

You will no doubt be worried as to how on earth you are going to find people who will purchase the goods you plan on selling. The phrase which you will hear over and over again, regardless of which direct selling company you decide to join, is “your circle of influence”. This really means all the people you know who you could contact to tell them about your new venture. To start you off here is a list of potential contacts:

       *Family members                  *Friends

       *Neighbours                            *Parents of your children’s friends

       *Work colleagues                   *Church acquaintances

       *Gym acquaintances             *Local businesses

*Receptionists at your dentist, doctor, vet, hairdresser etc.

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No doubt you can extend this list, but this just gives you some idea of where you can start. The best thing when you approach a possible customer is to find out if there is anyone from whom they are currently purchasing the product you will be selling. If they do not have a regular representative then you can offer to drop off the current catalogue at the beginning of each new month.  They may not be happy with the kind of service they are currently receiving from their representative, and be very pleased to use you instead.

If you are attempting to get sales from the staff within an organisation, you should try to find a person who would be prepared to collect the orders for you and send them in to you once a month. They in turn would be responsible for collecting the money from those people who placed orders, so that you only have to work with this one person. It just makes the process much simpler than having lots of loose orders which have to be delivered individually. Each individual order will be packed by you with the name of the customer and amount owing easily visible on the package but you have one drop off point for all the orders for a specific company. The person nominated to collect the money from the individuals and to distribute their orders can be rewarded by you with small “thank you” gifts from time to time just to show your appreciation for their time and effort.

Don’t be shy about telling everyone whom you meet in the course of your day, what you are doing and how convenient it would be for them to be able to buy from you rather than spending valuable time searching for the product which suits them best at large retail outlets. You will sometimes be pleasantly surprised by the reaction you get from certain people. Many may have lost contact with someone who used to supply them with the products and have not yet found anyone else from whom to order.

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By utilising all the facilities which are so readily available these days, such as computers and smart phones, much of the time consuming drudgery which was part of direct selling in the past, is now history. How much easier it is to send bulk e-mails or WhatsApp messages to inform your customers of product specials, shortages, price changes as well as to remind them that the current order cut off day is fast approaching,  instead of having to phone each one individually. Personal contact is still very critical to building good business relationships, but there are definitely many benefits to being able to just send a message instead of always having to make loads of time-consuming phone calls.

When you are chatting to your customers, listen to what they are telling you and make a habit of keeping notes that you can use in future in order to make them feel that you actually care about them and that you remember what they tell you.  They will also assume that you have an amazing memory, whereas you have just saved relevant info regarding them, their families, and important facts which they have disclosed to you during conversations as well as their product choices. This makes for a far more personal relationship with customers and they will value your interest in them, apart from just the buying aspect. Index cards, or keeping the information on your computer – whichever method suits you, will serve the purpose just as well.

Once you have managed to get a reasonable number of customers ordering from you on a regular basis, just remember that it is far easier to keep your existing ones than having to find new ones. Also, happy customers will recommend you to their friends. Word of mouth advertising is the best form of advertising that there is, but people who have a bad experience will also spread the word and unfortunately often far wider than those who have had good service. Sad, but true.  Therefore, it is very important that, if you make a mistake somewhere along the line, apologise and correct it as soon as possible. A small token given to a customer who has been inconvenienced goes a long way to mending the relationship. Remember – the customer is always right!

“I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success
of any kind as the quality of perseverance.
It overcomes almost everything, even nature.
” – John D. Rockefeller

 

Update and Comments: 6 June 2019

If only we had won the lotto recently, then I would not once again be berating the fact that time has played against me and I have not posted anything for the past few weeks. The only excuse that I have – and it is a valid one I can assure you all – is that having to earn a living can be time consuming! If a huge windfall had come my way, I might be writing this from the deck of a luxury liner, having booked for a world cruise! Now that is an attractive thought – just as long as the liner was equipped with enough life jackets and lifeboats to accommodate the entire quota of passengers and crew. I have seen Titanic several times so certain factors would have to be in place before I packed my suitcase and set off for the trip of a lifetime. I am certainly not that big a gambler – safety first is a good motto to live by!

Back to reality, and the past few weeks have been extremely busy, which is obviously a good thing especially when one is self-employed. A friend of mine who is a chef and has her own catering business said that the trouble with working for oneself is that often when you wake up in the morning you face the unpleasant fact that you are unemployed! You just have to get up, brush yourself off and try to get more business. Definitely not for the weak hearted! The emotional side of working with people can be very draining as well and last week was no exception, with the death of a client with whom I had become friends over the past months. Enough waffling and time to get back to what I love doing – writing articles which I can post in the hope that you may find them entertaining or informative, or both.

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

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Update and Comments: 14 May 2019

I have recently posted the second chapter relating to Direct Selling in which I tried to give some idea as to how to choose a company which suits you best.  I intend to follow this with the next chapter very shortly and I do hope that the information which I am sharing is of use to anyone looking at going into this kind of business venture. On a different note, I have posted some great new recipes from Chris in the cookery section of the Guest Contributor portion of the blog – am sure the Foodies among you will be interested to try them out.

April seemed to disappear in a blur of public holidays here in South Africa and then it was a case of waiting for the Big Day, 8 May 2019 which heralded the 6th free and democratic countrywide national election. Well, in most instances and, despite all the negative postings on social media forecasting doom and devastation, most polling stations appeared to be run relatively successfully. All the people involved at my local polling station were very helpful and efficient and hopefully we will not be overly distraught once the election results have been verified and announced. My own experience was hundreds of times more pleasant than the 7 hour wait to renew my driver’s licence last month! (That little episode will feature in a future post once I have actually got my renewal in my sticky little hand. Cannot afford to send out any negative vibes in that direction until the deed is completed and I am once again legally entitled to drive for another 5 years!)

Something which occurred on the same day as our election, was the first sight of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new-born baby boy. I thought at first that they were just carrying a doll wrapped in a blanket wearing a woollen hat as the baby’s face was hidden from view. However, there were several photos published later which happily proved me wrong! The poor little chap may become the cutest baby around, but that name!! Archie!! Born into a royal family and called Archie! Queen Victoria must be turning in her grave!!  However, new facts have come to light since then which makes a bit more sense regarding the name. Apparently, the late Princess Diana had a distant ancestor who was called Archibald Campbell and he was the 9th Earl of Argyle. I think Diana’s maiden name of Spencer may have been an easier option for the poor chap to live with – especially if he lands up being a red-headed Archie!!

I suppose, in case there were any doubt at all as to the father of the child (just tongue in cheek – not aiming to offend any devout Royalists!), having the middle name of Harrison (as in Harry’s son) puts paid to any speculation in that region! Life is definitely interesting and always full of twists and turns, especially when an American actress marries a British prince! Here’s hoping this story, unlike some others of recent years, defies all odds and has a happy ending.

On the home front our dear Kelly, who is now almost 7 months old, is something of a canine Jekyll and Hyde! She is very clever (when the mood takes her) but unlike most dogs, is not particularly fond of food. She far prefers to chew branches of bushes, feathers from pigeons as well as having a passion for pebbles (of which there are hundreds on paths in our garden!). Needless to say, many valuable hours are spent in attempting to educate the dear pup that we really would prefer to control a potential obesity problem rather than having to face the prospect of foreign bodies finding their way into her digestive system and necessitating a rushed journey to our local vet! Who said: ”this too shall pass”?

Just a brief postscript regarding the e-mail contact for my blog. Despite following the instructions given by WordPress, there seemed to be a technical glitch. This has been rectified and tested and should be working well now, so please do feel free to contact me as per the contact details available on the blog.

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

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Direct Sales – Chapter 2

Choosing the company which suits you best!

The first step when considering becoming involved in direct selling, is to find a product which you can believe in and enjoy selling. In years gone by, items such as expensive vacuum cleaners and encyclopaedias were sold by salespeople who had to carry heavy demonstration items with them when going door to door to try to sell their product. With the incredible advances in technology things have changed dramatically when it comes to direct selling. It no longer has the stigma with which the “door to door” salesman of the past had to contend.  By the same token there are many people today who wouldn’t know what a set of encyclopaedias looked like!

The most popular direct sales companies nowadays would appear to be those selling household products such as Tupperware, and companies such as Avon, which has salespeople in many corners of the world making a comfortable living from selling their range of goods of which cosmetics form a large percentage. When one is putting out feelers to find a company which you would be happy to represent there are several factors to consider. First of all, is the warehouse which houses the company’s products easily accessible or will there be a considerable time lag between the placing of an order and receiving it?  Buyers tend to be very keen to receive their orders once they have placed them with a representative and If you live in a rather remote area, then it stands to reason that you may not have deliveries as frequently as if you were living in a larger town. The solution here is to collect your customers’ orders early in the month in order to place and receive them in time for month-end deliveries. This applies mainly to countries where people receive monthly pay cheques and budget for their purchases accordingly.

Once you have given some serious thought to joining a particular company as a sales representative, you need to find out whether there is a cost involved. You don’t want to have to take a bank loan in order to begin selling! In most cases the initial outlay is minimal and usually your payment will provide you with a starter pack of catalogues showing the current range of available items, and in some cases a few products for you to show to your prospective buyers. Once you start making some money, you can build up a reasonable supply of items which you can demonstrate to help increase your sales.

Another question to ask is whether or not you will be granted credit when you sign up with the company. In other words, will you have a certain amount of time to collect the money from your customers before having to pay your account or is it purely a cash business. If the latter is the case, then you will always need to collect the necessary amount from your customer as you take their order. You give them a written receipt for the amount paid to you and be very strict on how you handle this money. When you pay your account, the difference between the amount you have received from your customers and the amount you pay your company is your commission.  If you are granted credit then you deliver the products to the customer and only hand them over when you are given the amount due.

It is normal practice when you sign up with a direct sales company to be allocated to an area manager whose job it is to assist you when you have problems. This person may or may not give you regular training sessions themselves, or it may be company policy to encourage you to attend regular sales meetings run at the branch of the company closest to you. It is very important for you to learn as much as you can about the products you will be selling as buyers expect you to be knowledgeable regardless of the length of time that you have been with the company.

Depending upon how well you sell once you have started with your chosen company, there may be seminars which you are invited to attend where you will receive on-going training as well as motivation. Things change according to economic factors as well as management policy but you will find that the more successful you are at selling, the more your company should recognise your efforts.

“Success is never final. Failure is never fatal.
It is courage that counts” – Winston Churchill

Materialism in the 21st Century

One only has to be in contact with children these days to see that quality time spent with parents seems, in many families, to be a very rare commodity. Both parents are usually working full time just to pay the bills and with the amount of time spent in traffic commuting to and from the workplace it stands to reason that juggling work and family time is a constant battle. At the end of the day it is much easier to give the children material gifts instead of trying to fit in reading a story to them, or chatting to them about the events of their day.  The majority of children from middle to upper income homes all seem to have access to the latest technology such as mobile phones, tablets and computers as well as having no shortage of up to the minute clothing – brands such as Nike or Adidas being firm favourites. Even very young children are demanding clothes with Disney or superhero logos on them, all of which are more expensive than the no-name items. So, materialism and the desire to have more and more belongings can begin very early in the home.

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Obviously the above observation is very general, but it is now accepted that children are communicating with each other via their mobile phones, and even youngsters barely out of nappies are allowed to play games on their parents’ devices.  Travelling with young children can be very challenging and it seems to be quite normal to settle them in the back of the car with headphones and a choice of entertainment on tablets or i-pads. What happened to talking to them and playing games such as spotting certain makes of car or animals in the fields or a game of I spy with my little eye something beginning with the letter ….?

Obviously sending youngsters to crèche or nursery school does alleviate a certain amount of the guilt feelings which parents may have due to their rushed lifestyles. However, even these institutions seem to foster the whole concept of materialism. I have seen that it is customary for children as young as 2 who are at crèches or nursery schools to be expected to come dressed in costumes for events such as Valentine’s Day, Halloween, or Superhero Day.  The poor overworked parents now have to conform otherwise their child is going to be the odd one out. The world really has gone stark raving mad! All these extra demands which are being made on the parents always result in purchasing things such as dress up items which really don’t have an awful lot to do with education when all is said and done. This whilst many millions of children worldwide are living in abject poverty. Somehow the more we are made aware of the desperate situation of millions of people all over the world, the more we are hammered with adverts to buy this, wear that and drive the other! Definitely, the first world as well as developing nations are constantly being succoured in to the ego-driven world of materialism. Sad, but true!

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If one looks at the way in which our parents or grandparents managed to survive without the trappings of modern day materialism and compare our lives today, we see just how things seem to be spiralling out of control at an alarming pace. In years gone by, life was tough for the majority of people and children had very few belonging. Clothes and footwear were often hand me downs  and the only toys may have been home-made playthings – a far cry from today where everything in the modern world is geared to spend, spend, spend and then more!

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Nowadays the leftover Christmas turkey has hardly been devoured when shops are advertising Valentine’s Day gifts. After that it is the Easter eggs which are on the shelves alongside appealing fluffy bunnies. Hardly time to take a breath then it’s (in certain countries) Mother’s Day, followed by Father’s Day and the last one to hit the money grabbing retail outlets – Halloween! Where is it all going to end? There is definitely a move towards once again creating instead of buying a mass produced product. Examples are young women learning to knit and crochet after years of such pastimes being scorned by many. Another avenue which has taken the world by storm is cooking and baking.  One only has to channel hop on television to come across yet another cooking competition and these have certainly inspired many people to attempt to cook or bake instead of buying ready-made food.

Maybe, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.  If there is a concerted worldwide effort to try to educate our children to appreciate the little things in life, which perhaps are far more important than material belongings, then things may change for the better. There are so many organisations involved in saving the planet, preserving endangered species, and caring for the less fortunate, which can be a means of making children aware of the importance of social responsibility. Education leads to knowledge and knowledge is power. Therefore educators as well as parents and family members can all help to improve this materialistic world before it implodes on itself due to mankind’s ignorance and selfishness. One can but hope and hope is what keeps us humans continuously carrying on regardless!!!

“It is the preoccupation with possessions,
more than anything else, 
that prevents us
from living freely and nobly
” – Bertrand Russell

Direct Sales – Chapter 1.

Personal experiences and an introduction
to the world of Direct Selling!

After several years of long distance studying to obtain my degrees, I found that I was becoming somewhat isolated and also needed to earn some money of my own. Having seen several family members do a somewhat half-hearted job of selling various products such as Tupperware and a range of linen, I was sure that I was capable of making a success of such an endeavour.

I approached a Tupperware representative and basically recruited myself. Over a period of around 14 years I was very successful as a sales person and later as a manager, a position which included having a company car (dependent upon maintaining a certain level of monthly sales) and being responsible for a team of sales people. This was whilst raising children, running a home, being involved in a charitable organisation which cared for HIV patients, and continuing with my studies.  At a later stage, I also taught an African language, namely Northern Sotho, at a local private school.

The excellent on-going training which I was fortunate enough to have received during my years of direct selling gave me the confidence to succeed in other avenues such as the aforementioned teaching, lecturing psychology to students of natural healing modalities, being a co-owner and full time manager of a well-known, Irish themed, 72 seater pub/restaurant for 5 years, as well as continuing to be involved in different forms of direct selling. Enough for now, but I would love to share some of the most important factors which I feel could be of help to those of you who may know very little if anything about how to earn money through direct selling.

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For the uninitiated, direct selling actually means offering products to prospective buyers who have the benefit of being able to see, touch and often sample an item before purchasing it. The advantage of this kind of purchasing is the personal interaction between the person selling the product and the buyer. Unlike having to spend hours hunting for goods, and being faced with umpteen confusing options, having a professional salesperson guiding you in the right choice of product, is not only time saving, but can help prevent spending money on the wrong item. Another bonus for the buyer is that the order will be delivered to them personally by the salesperson.

One needs to be aware that direct selling should not be confused with pyramid schemes where money is made, not through the sale of products, but by recruiting more and more people into the scheme and coercing them into parting with hard earned cash in order to buy “necessary” training material as well as paying high prices on a regular basis to attend so-called inspirational seminars.   Although there may be levels within a direct selling company for the earning of commissions, there is no catch. It is purely about buying the product which appears in the catalogue or on the display table and not a case of being hoodwinked into becoming part of a “get rich quick” scheme. There are many reputable companies who rely totally on representatives placing orders on a regular basis.

I plan to post around 10 chapters on a regular basis which I hope will cover a wide range of information regarding the whole subject of direct selling.

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