I was invited over to Colombia recently (the 29th country I’ve now spoken in) to speak at a large Sales event, based in Medellin and Bogota. It was the largest gathering of salespeople in the region and I was looking forward to sharing my ‘Stand Out Selling – The New Rules For Salespeople’ speech!
Travelling with a speaker friend of mine, Gilan, the reaction to our speeches was fantastic. A big thank you goes to our two interpreters (Constanza and Jennifer), without whom 75% of the audience wouldn’t have been able to understand us!
It’s always interesting as a speaker, when you know most of the audience is relying on simultaneous interpretation via headsets, making sure your pace is good and you are understood by the English speakers in the audience, and also making sure you’re not speaking too fast for the interpreters to keep up!
Anyway, here are 3 quick lessons from my trip to Colombia……..
Having spent most of my prior successful sales career in Print sales, I’m a big fan of ‘final’ checks of any document. Back in the day this meant proof-reading a client’s brochure word for word with a colleague – as the client would usually blame us for any mistakes, even after they had signed off their proof approval!
These days it’s doing your ‘final’ check on any proposal or tender documents you’re sending out. Checking again that email you’re about to send. Checking that attachment for spelling mistakes etc.
Prospects and clients are making judgement on what you send them. Why give them a reason not to trust you with their work, or not to use you at all?
Before you take this too lightly, I’ve personally seen accountants that made mistakes adding up. Language translation companies (that pride themselves on accuracy) having spelling mistakes in their LinkedIn profile and corporate literature. And design companies with poorly designed websites!
In this instance, I was preparing my final draft of my presentation, when I noticed my computer was automatically correcting ‘Colombia’ to ‘Columbia’. A BIG problem if you can’t even get the name correct of the country you’re speaking in, right?!!
It’s such an issue in Colombia, that there’s even a T-Shirt that ‘greets’ you as you transfer at Bogota airport!
So remember, it’s ALWAYS worth a final check!
Sometimes when you don’t feel like doing something…. that’s the very time you need to go and do it!
I remember being given that advice years ago by an old Sales Manager of mine. And let’s face it, we all procrastinate over things. Whether it was a piece of ‘homework’ that needed to be handed in, a complaint from a customer that you know is going to be awful to deal with, or your cold calling/prospecting that needs to be done – we all procrastinate!
And sometimes when you don’t feel like doing something…… that’s the very time you need to go and do it!
On this occasion, for me, it was climbing El Penol y Guatape. This is a large rock, about 90 minutes from Medellin. I’d heard that it was tough to climb up the steps to it, but that the views from the top were spectacular, and well worth the climb!
The problem was when we got there, the top half of the rock was covered in mist and cloud, meaning we wouldn’t be able to see anything! So we started the ‘shall we/shan’t we’, ‘is it worth it?’ conversation!
Will we be able to see anything from the top? Or will it just be covered in cloud? Is it worth the climb in that case?
Having decided that we were there anyway, and me might not get the chance to come back, we set off to climb up 750 steps. It was just as hard as we’d been told it was.
And when we got to the top, all we could see was cloud! – as you can see from the picture of my friend Gilan here, on the right!
After a while however, the mist and cloud cleared and we could see some great views around the place – and it was definitely worth the wait, and well worth the visit!
It was also a good reminder that in sales (and in life), sometimes we have to do things we’re not sure about, or that we might not want to do – but often, it’s definitely worth it!
In sales, that might be things like, prospecting, cold calling, calling clients back to answer a complaint, dealing with requests to be sent more information, etc etc.
If you’ve been to any of my seminars around the world you’ll know one of my favourite saying is ‘the more ‘new business’ the activity is, the more people will naturally try and avoid it’….
I remember hearing a long time ago ‘If your message isn’t being heard, you need to change how you’re communicating’. And that’s a pretty good phrase that applies to your sales process as well.
A lot of sales messages aren’t heard. Whether they’re online, direct from a salesperson, in an email, in a presentation, prospects and customers don’t always get your messages in the way you intended!
We were reminded of this in Colombia. Especially because we chose to arrive 3 days before the first event, in case of any flight delays, to get used to the time difference, and to see some of Colombia while we were there.
In the first 3 days we were there, we only met 2 people whose English was god enough to have even a brief conversation with! Aside from that we were relying on some of my (very) basic Spanish from a few holidays in Spain years ago! When those 2 people include airport staff, taxi drivers and staff at the hotels, you can imagine what is was like trying to be understood!
Then we spent time with the 2 interpreters, checking the Spanish translations on our slides, and the ‘local’ pronunciations of some of the place names and other Spanish that was going to be included in our speeches. Not only are there variations between traditional Spanish and South American Spanish (where the attendees were from), but even variations between the different cities in Colombia!
I see this a lot in Sales situations. The message that was understood isn’t always the same as the one that was intended to be communicated. Presentations, slide decks, emails are often misinterpreted, let alone telephone conversations and face-to-face meetings and product demonstrations.
So, where does your communication need improving? What message is not being heard by your prospects and customers right now?
Oh, and just in case anyone is wondering, I highly recommend a trip to Colombia! One of the best places I have been to. Drop me a message if you want to hear more about the ‘social’ parts of the trip! #LoveColombia