Social Media And The Disintermediation Of Sales People

Recently, I have been in many conversations with people claiming, social media reduces the need to have sales people. Some going so far as to declare the extinction of the sales person. I don’t buy this, in fact, I think it is just the opposite, I think it increases the need for strong sales people engaging their customers in new ways.

Social media changes the role of the sales professional, it doesn’t eliminate it. At least in B2B Sales, I believe the role of sales professionals is even more important.

Traditionally, sales people served a role of informing and educating customers about solutions. Today, the customer gets much of that information from the web. Some claim the sales person no longer needs to educate the customer. I think that’s wrong, just because it’s on the web, doesn’t mean it’s accurate. The sales person may have to spend a lot of time re-educating the customer, correcting misunderstandings. Additionally, many of our solutions are very complex, so while the customer gets a lot of information from the web, they still need to solve THEIR problem. The sales person still has the role of showing specifically how their solutions should be implemented to meet the customer’s specific situation. They bridge the gap from the experience of others to the specific and unique needs and priorities of the customer.

The change in the sales person’s role goes far beyond this. Some claim, with social media, the sales person gets involved later in the buying process than traditionally. Some would way, the customer has already done their needs assessment, narrowed their solution alternatives and engage sales people for those solutions that have been “short-listed.”

I think this is dead wrong, bordering on dangerous! This assumes the customer is perfectly knowledgeable about how to analyze their needs and narrow the solutions to those that best fit their needs. It assumes the customer has taken the time to research alternatives and apply them to their own business improvement.

To be honest, customers are prisoners of their own experiences (we all are). They will look at their business in a certain way-best on their own experience. Research on the web may broaden that perspective, but it will not address their specific situation. They still have to bridge that gap. Additionally, solving problems with your business starts with asking the right questions-to make sure you are solving the right problems.

Too often, because we are prisoners of our own experience, we may not be asking ourselves the right questions. One of the great roles of the sales person is that because they see many other customers, they can ask different questions, they can help the customer to reconsider how they are viewing the problem.

So far, we’ve focused on the role of the sales person in “the last mile,” the value they create by helping the customer understand solve problems or address opportunities the customer has already recognized. Rather than educating the customer about their products, they focus on the application of the product to solving the customer problems (but I always thought that was what great sales professionals do).

I’ve always thought great sales people don’t just help their customers solve problems, they don’t wait until the customer has a problem then propose great solutions. Great sales people help their customers consider new opportunities to grow their businesses, they help them understand new opportunities to improve performance.

Great sales people bridge the gap our marketing materials can never bridge. They can bridge a gap, that social media has difficulty in addressing. Great sales people know the customer’s specific strategies and priorities. They know how the customer works, they know how to make things happen within the customer. Knowing this, they are in a great position to go to their customer saying, “I’m seeing a lot of discussion about this…., have you ever considered what might happen if you tried doing this….?”

Great sales people are constantly working on behalf of their customers, finding them ideas about how to improve their businesses.

This is why I think it’s so important for sales people to be engaged in social media. As I’ve mentioned in other articles, I strongly believe sales people need to be listening-they need to see what their customers are doing, what their customers’ customers are doing, what their customers’ competitors are doing. They need to use social media as a source of ideas, opportunities, and possibilities for the customer to improve their business. They need to engage their customers before the customers are searching for solutions to help the customers understand new opportunities for their businesses. It may be pointing them to provocative blogs or news articles on the web, it may be a quick phone conversation to alert them about new possibilities.

Social media is not disintermediating the great sales people. It provides them the vehicle to be a more important contributor to their customers’ success. It changes the role of the sales person. Great sales people recognize this and are embracing it. Are you?

Intercultural Education

As more and more internal business structures have been radically transformed; mainly in the communication and transportation technology. The need for global interdependency has also increased resulting in companies fighting to conquer an international market by obtaining an intercultural business.

There are many factors to be taken into account when a company wants its business to be established in foreign grounds. The main concern when doing so would be intercultural differences. Regardless of how well you manage you business there will be intercultural misunderstandings, which will spark, in a regular basis.

The smart move to do then would be to introduce intercultural education or meetings to brief the staffs of their differences. Intercultural education doesn’t mean we have to fully understand their religion or culture, but it is more like a guideline for the do’s and don’ts of a certain race or culture.

Intercultural education or training sessions focuses on helping a team to realize their differences and similarities. Such areas like status, hierarchy, decision-making, conflict resolution, showing emotion and ultimately cultural relation building. From this basis, teams are then tutored on how to recognize future communication difficulties and their cultural roots molding them into becoming more self-reliant. This would result in a more cohesive and productive team.

When a company has a majority staff or clients with the same culture, their business can carry out smoothly without touching to much sensitive issue. But problems arise when the diversity of a certain culture is being mistreated, mostly ethnic minorities. For example in Malaysia: Governmental companies have a ratio of 60%~80% Malays, 10%~20% Chinese, 5%~8% Indian and only 1% for other cultures.

Such cases would induce lack of respect for each other, alienating different ethnic groups and in the end poor work contribution. When leading an intercultural business, one needs to understand and take care of the minorities, as a company is like a clock and for a clock to work properly it needs all of the mechanical parts inside to work together not against each other. (Remember the show “The Incredible”???)

Sure it is arguable that a company with a sole or one culture would work better than an intercultural company. Trying having all your close friends to work with you together, you’d get more cooperation and understanding as you don’t have to explain much all you need is a glare.

But that would otherwise disprove the need for global interdependency. Sure, you’ll get more cooperation and understanding, but what about other markets and foreign territories? China is an exploding market and their doors are open, are you fit enough to go in as you are? Wouldn’t it be a better idea if you were to send a Chinese representative over there, you’ll make more handshakes in a day as they are local. India is also a vast market, wait, you have an Indian staff go right on in. There are endless possibilities for intercultural companies; the only thing left to do now is to have better intercultural education with one another respecting each other while joining hand in hand to a prosperous future.

Tips For Creating a Fun and Educational Playroom For Children

You can create a fun and educational playroom for children simply by keeping things at their level, both physically and mentally. Bright colors, simple words, sturdy furniture and well made children’s rugs can make your kid’s playroom an adventure in learning as it provides a rich learning environment.

Toddlers learn at a phenomenal rate. Everything they do increases their knowledge base. At the same time, you want your toddler’s playroom to be fun and entertaining. By using educational kid’s rugs, low shelves and child-sized furniture when designing your playroom, you can create an environment that is both fun and entertaining.

Educational Children’s Rugs Serve Multiple Roles

Let’s face it – children sometimes spill things. That’s a fact of life. They also want to learn and play. Children’s interactive play rugs serve multiple jobs, protecting your floor, providing a comfortable play area and offering educational experiences. Children’s rugs can teach geography, the alphabet and animals. They also come designed as miniature communities and cities, and you can even purchase kids’ rugs that will teach your toddler about your home state!

Children’s rugs are designed with toddlers and young children in mind. They are soft and plush and come with plenty of padding. The materials used are easy to clean and durable enough to last for years of enjoyment. Your children’s playroom will be all the more fun with an educational kid’s rug. Children’s interactive play rugs can even help young children learn important social skills as they explore the possibilities with their play group friends.

Sturdy Children’s Furniture Is a Must

As appealing as inflatable or plastic children’s furniture may appear, it is generally unsafe and it certainly won’t last. Children are still learning about the laws of physics that rule our world. Sturdy, well made, child-sized furniture will help your toddler maneuver in their playroom safely and constructively.

By providing child-sized furniture, you will help your child learn how to use their body properly. This type of furniture is also far less likely to tip, causing a fall. In addition, children’s furniture comes in a variety of colors and patterns, allowing you to create a customized playroom, best suited to your kid’s interests and personal style.

Personal Touches Add Educational Fun

You can make your children’s playroom all the more enjoyable and educational with personal touches that you create together. Index cards make great learning tools when used to label common features of the playroom, such as taping a card marked “chair” to a chair. Other labeling opportunities can include walls, tables and dressers. You can also create a word wall using pictures and words of common items such as books, shirts, dogs, family members, trees, cars, and so on. The possibilities are limitless and you can make working with these label cards a game for you and your toddler.

Children love to learn and play. You can make your kid’s playroom a wealth of fun and information with sturdy, child-sized furniture, children’s interactive play rugs and other educational children’s rugs, homemade labels and plenty of books and positive learning games. Your children will enjoy hours of educational fun in their very own playroom.