Update and Comments: 29 October 2019

Could someone possibly tell me what has caused this year to be only half as long as previous years? It seems just the other day that I was decorating my Christmas tree in time for the 2018 festive season, and now it’s almost that time yet again. I am beginning to think that there is an invisible and very devious time thief lurking out there, conniving and scheming to steal that very precious commodity from those of us who really could use a few extra months each year just to catch up on ourselves!

When a year begins with huge amounts of heavy rain resulting in a lounge having its own version of Niagara Falls, then I suppose it stands to reason that the rest of the year could be somewhat challenging. Roof and ceiling repairs, replacing a door, then small appliances deciding to give up the ghost, all played their part this year. Then last week my faithful laptop just made up its mind to go AWOL. No indication that it was suffering from stress, was overworked and under paid, and generally feeling frustrated and needing a long holiday. It just bit the dust, so to speak. It might have been a sign of loyalty if I had been given some kind of warning – but, no! Just a blank, non- responding screen.

Unfortunately, when one is totally dependent upon one’s computer, a quick decision needs to be made, and time is of the essence. Therefore, I am now getting my head around a new laptop with a more up to date version of Windows, and I hope that I haven’t lost too much of my writing due to the changeover. From now on, I think that the Cloud needs to become my new best friend. Cannot bear the thought of hours of work disappearing into thin air ever again!

All the above chit chat is just a way of letting you know that I am still here, in body if not always in mind, and back to bashing away on my brand new keyboard.

Until next time, it’s my hope that none of you are spooked out this Halloween!

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

Update 29-10-19 350x235

Direct Sales – Chapter 4

Learn about your product!

You will only gain the confidence you need regarding the products you are hoping to sell, once you have as much knowledge as possible about them.

Using the items yourself is obviously very important as you are then talking from personal experience. Listening to comments received from your customers is also critical and a way in which to gain more information without actually having to have first hand experience of some of the other items on the range. Keep notes on the products and constantly refresh your memory, particularly in the early days of your new venture.

Most direct sales companies will offer on-going training and it is in your interest to attend these training sessions and take written notes of what is being said. It is a proven fact that once you write something down, you are far more likely to remember it than just recording what is said onto your cellphone, or a recording machine. You can pick up so many tips and hints from other people who are selling the same products as yourself. They have obviously been successful with their sales, and you can always learn from hearing them talk about their experiences as well as beginning to know more about the products.

DS 4 1 350x233

Your new customers, knowing that you have only recently joined the company, will appreciate your offering to find out facts of which you might not as yet be aware. Instead of bluffing your way through if you are asked to give advice about a specific item, it is far better to offer to ask your area manager or local distributor for their help.  You will lose respect from customers if you pretend to know something regarding an item when you actually have no idea at all. Far better to make that contact with someone else in the company who has a lot more experience and who will be able to give you the right information for you to give back to your customer.

If you are selling a product which needs to be demonstrated, a good idea in the beginning of your career is to use some cue cards to help you.  I continued using cue cards all through my many years of direct selling as a means of keeping continuity for my demonstration, in the even that I was side tracked by customers’ questions. If you have your range of products displayed on a table, you can discuss each item in turn and once you have given the benefits and uses of a particular product, you actually need to place the cue card next to that item on the table. This enables the customers to come up to the table once you have finished your talk, and they can identify the product by the picture and will see the price as well. Usually you would have catalogues which can be used for making your cue cards by cutting out the relevant pictures together with the descriptions and current prices.

An important factor is that you need to be organized regarding your new career and this means organizing your thoughts before you address a group of potential customers. It is no good just handing out brochures and expecting people to understand what it is that would benefit them most. This is particularly relevant when it relates to products such as Tupperware, as make-up and clothing items are far more personal and everyone usually has a good idea of what will suit them and their particular taste. However, when it comes to household items the input of an expert (and you are aiming to be that expert sooner rather than later) is indispensable to avoid making an expensive purchase which becomes something of a white elephant. This is likely to create a resistance in the customer to purchasing anything from you again in the future. Taking their type of lifestyle and living situation into account, you will soon be in a position to give good advice on what they should buy to make their life easier and to save money. This will gain you their trust as you are not pushing for sales to benefit yourself, but have their needs in mind. Once again, it is a case of getting to know as much about your product as quickly as possible as well as listening to your customers.

Whilst you are still very new to this venture, it is far better to feel really confident and have first hand knowledge of a few products and offer to get feedback regarding others with which you are not necessarily au fait. Over time it is advisable to invest some of your monthly income in purchasing a variety of items across the range to use yourself in order to boost your confidence as well as your sales.

DS 4 2 350x233

If you are selling make-up items you will be able to help your customers by letting them try out samples to make sure that they make the right choice of colour or texture. If the company has samples available for you to buy, then that makes it easy for you. Otherwise you could buy some very small plastic jars and use them for dispensing a portion of a product (such as moisturiser, or hand cream, or shampoo) to give to your customer for them to try out. If they decide to buy the full sized product you will make back the amount you have spent in a short space of time. They also feel that you actually care about their decisions instead of expecting them to order only from pictures in brochures.  Again, as far as selling makeup is concerned, there are usually shade charts which you can purchase as sales tools which assist customers in matching products with their specific skin tone.

The bottom line is that you will grow your business much faster if your knowledge of the products you are able to offer is comprehensive and your customers come to trust you with the choices they make.  By going the extra mile to help prevent incorrect purchases, you will soon gain the respect of those people whom you are serving. Happy customers tell their friends and family. It is a fact that word of mouth advertising is the very best kind there is.

“Today Knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity
and advancement.” – Peter Drucker (1909-2005)

Face Book – A Psychologist’s Best Friend?

I am convinced that since the advent of Facebook as well as Twitter, Instagram etc. and the enormous growth of users, psychologists are being inundated with patients needing help to cope with their perceived worthless existences.

In the past few weeks I have seen old wedding photos of people I once knew well. Reading all the syrupy garbage that not only the couple, or one of them (usually the wife,) but dozens of their friends and family members have posted on their Facebook page is enough to make even the soppyist of people puke! Oh come on, let’s get real. How many marriages are so absolutely wonderful. How many partners are these amazing walking demi gods who have been such perfect soul mates? Sure, it’s great to celebrate a long marriage, but scratch the surface and you are sure to find some polyfillerd cracks of various sizes and shapes.

I remember a few years ago saying to a group of female work colleagues that, if anyone says that they have a wonderful, argument free, marriage and that their husband is perfect, then just look a bit deeper. Either he is full of guilt due to extra marital affairs, or he is a closet gay! One of the women in the group piped up with “that’s what happened in our marriage – he was having it off with his secretary!”  I may sound cynical, but all this on-going rubbish that is being posted on Facebook is one huge ego trip and often a load of total hogwash.

It would be really refreshing, when a couple wish to let the social media world know that they are celebrating a wedding or commitment anniversary, to read something along the lines of  “on this day x amount of years ago I committed to sharing my life with a person with whom there have been many memorable occasions, good and bad. We have had our challenges which often involved in-law interference, or money worries but we have survived! We have had our times of fun and laughter along with the difficult days. So, let’s have a toast to more years still to come!” Now, no-one is going to feel sick with jealousy because they cannot compete with this perfect match made in heaven, and hopefully that would stop all the hypocrites from waffling on about the perfect couple – blah blah blah!

Marriage 1 350x350

It goes further as far as the bragging is concerned. Everyone out there seems to have children who are amazing, and never cease to make their besotted parents gloat in wonder. The certificates, awards, successes –both in the classroom and on the playing fields -the list goes on and on. There must be many parents who read these posts who feel that they have been dealt a really lousy hand where offspring are concerned. They may be coping with children who are just average or perhaps challenged in some or other way be it academically or physically. I had a good friend for many years who always used to say “there are no throwaway people” – everyone is worthwhile regardless of their achievements. This is the crux of the matter isn’t it? Whatever challenges we have in life, we sometimes really struggle to accept the fact that we either cope with what we have in front of us, or just give up. The latter is not an option in most cases, and that is where the professionals and their counselling can be of incredible assistance. Feeling inferior, hard done by, worthless, incompetent – all emotions which are so readily fed and watered by the many ego-driven postings out there on social media.

It would be interesting to see some statistics relating to the demands being made on psychologists and psychiatrists since the advent of social media-itis and before it raised its often ugly head. I may be wrong in my presumptions, but I do know that there is a lot of evidence that more and more youngsters are feeling depressed, worthless, and inferior and often contemplate committing suicide. There has to be a correlation with the fact that these same young people seem to be spending most of their waking hours using their cellphones, either to send posts themselves or reading what others have to say. It appears that it is no longer the norm to get together with members of your peer group and hang out and have fun. Nowadays it would appear that, in many instances, relationships start and end with the use of cellphones. How devastating to receive an sms or a WhatsApp message letting you know you are no longer the flavour of the month or to see evidence on Facebook that your ex has replaced you and wants the world to know.Depression-flat-simHow far is all this going to go before the bubble bursts and life once again returns to some semblance of normality? Never, only in our wildest dreams and this is the “normal” for all those young people born into a world of social media. Oh well, let’s accept the inevitable and just hope that there is a constant stream of qualified and empathetic psychologists graduating from quality universities to handle all the world’s troubled souls!

Основные RGB

Keeping up with Change

Sometimes I think back to the late 1960’s when, as a 19 year old I spent a few months doing temping secretarial work in London. Travelling on the underground from my aunt’s house in the suburb of Kew Gardens every day to get to the Daily Mirror offices I used to read all the adverts on the walls whilst going up or down the escalators at the various tube stations.  At the time there was a show on called “Stop the World, I want to get off!” That was many years ago, and that saying would seem to be far more relevant in this day and age.

Underground 1 350x222

We are constantly being bombarded with new ideas and new technology. In the 60’s things were so much slower although, at the time, we thought life was pretty hectic. Getting to work on time, meeting deadlines – if only we had had an inkling of what the future was going to be like, we would have looked at our situation in a totally different light! In some ways those years were paradise compared to the times we are living in now. The pop scene of the 1960’s took the world by storm and heralded changes in every area of life, particularly where the younger generation was concerned. Fashions changed, music changed for ever, and suddenly there was an expression coined which was known as “the generation gap”! Somehow, this had never had any relevance in previous times.

The old adage that there are only two certainties in life – death and change- can be pretty depressing. However, it depends very much on how one is able to cope with either or both of these facts. The former can actually propel us into facing each day with excitement, as it could be one’s last day on earth and therefore needs to be embraced and enjoyed to the very fullest extent. The latter is the one which can often cause the most stress and discomfort.

“ I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself,
‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do
what I’m about to do today?’
And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days
in a row,I know I need to change something.
” – Steve Jobs 

For the so-called baby boomers, there has probably been far more change to cope with than for any previous generation.  Social attitudes, technology, communication, medical advances – plus so many other areas which affect us on a daily basis have, in many cases, caused stress as well as improved lifestyle.

Change 3 350x222

Receiving up to date news items from all over the globe can in itself prove difficult to cope with. Years ago there was no such thing as the internet and we relied on radios and newspapers to keep us up to date. The situation that existed in many areas of the world such as the Iron Curtain (Eastern Europe) was so controlled that it prevented any form of negative news from being exposed to the rest of the world. This situation also existed in China. With the advent of the computerised office as well as the availability of the P.C., life changed forever. For better, or worse? That is a matter which could be discussed ad infinitum!

Today we hear about all the catastrophes affecting people in all corners of the world, from the moment we get up until we go to bed. Depending on one’s psychological makeup this can be devastating to one’s mental health or inspire one to try to make the best of a possibly challenging situation.

Then there is the pandemic of social media-itis. If you are unfortunate to suffer from this contagious condition then everyone else appears to be more beautiful, living a wonderful life, travels extensively, wants for nothing – oh yes? Scratch the proverbial surface and the truth is often a totally different story. So much can be said about this toxic situation but enough rambling for now – another time maybe!

“Is this where we’re heading…?” 

Change 4 350x196

“Just a thought!” \

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?

Basic RGB

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.

Christmas_2

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.

template 1

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.

influence 350x196

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.

Influence 2 350x163

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