Caught in the middle?
Apart from possible personality and cultural traits, I wonder whether the soft approach is also an age thing. A trait of someone in the techno-middle age bracket, like me. (OK, I made up the word). Someone born and raised in the "analogue days" who prepared for working life on a diet of courses to ensure computer literacy on the essential Microsoft software packages. It feels like you were good with your MS Office collection and nothing major happened for about a decade.
Fast forward to present day and if you can’t talk about code and what is happening under the digital hood, who are you?? Now, what has this got to do with small business and selling? Well, it seems to me that not so long ago, it was about amassing qualifications and certificates to add lines to your CV to demonstrate how well versed you were in the required theory and ready to apply it to work. In a way, you worked for years on your one life sales pitch. Broadcast communication skills to entice and entertain were not even on the desirable skills list until now, if you have a keyboard and internet connectivity, you may stand up.
Permission to Instagram
Thanks to web access and the ease of information exchange, there is democratization of knowledge – and long may it continue. So, in the emerging world of work in virtual offices and Skype calls, there are no walls to hang framed certificates and accolades. It’s not all about what you know but what you can do and how you can mobilise action. While you've been faithfully putting in the time for that promotion or big deal, a savvy kid you’d never heard of just built a following on Instagram the size of your entire city and by the looks of it, they won’t need to talk to the bank about a mortgage when they are ready to settle down. Why? They were not quiet and didn’t ask for permission. The concept doesn’t exist for them. They started a movement and didn’t wait until someone told them they were good enough to do it.
Nobody knows you, nobody cares
Now you may roll your eyes, as far as you’re concerned these huge online followings are just as elusive as big Ponzi schemes. They are not real and not wholesome, right? Wrong. I’m sure there are social scientists studying how disconnected people are becoming living on the web, but when we are talking business, I’m inclined to agree with the exuberant, no BS Grant Cardone. He says to the struggling, “You’re too small, no one knows you, nobody cares.” Ouch! The Cardone Zone host may not be for those with delicate dispositions but the man is right. It’s a numbers and noise game. You need to be knocking on more doors, and you need to hear more ‘no’s to gain significance. No matter how sophisticated or not your system is.
We are all selling
To sharpen my selling sword, I’m currently reading Dan Pink’s To Sell is Human. I’m still on chapter four but key lesson learnt so far, we are all selling – you and you and you and me. We’re all in the “moving business”. Moving people to take action in offices, schools, communities and homes. Back to the issues of business survival, whatever your business may be, if you can’t and won’t communicate value in an age where we have access to knowledge in our pocket computers, I'm inclined to think obscurity spells disaster. This techno-mid baby is for one thinking about what will happen when Millennials are running our institutions. I need to future proof by turning into a cool aunt; I’m going to need to be able to sell in the next technological phase, taking more courses is not going to cut it.
Selling is not about being needy
Some years back I was travelling with a sales colleague to visit a customer. I remember her saying ‘It is my job to sell, it is their job to buy’. There's a different mindset. As far as she was concerned, it was the prospective buyer’s job to educate themselves about the resources on offer, evaluate them and if they were suitable, select them to help their company and colleagues do their jobs better. It was all about the value exchange. Selling was not about being needy, and certainly not about scheming. It was about giving the other person an opportunity to discover something that could be useful. Selling is about the exchange of resources between two people or parties.
Show me yours, I’ll show you mine
So, what are the partying words to this piece dear friends? If you have a good thing going or even just a thing under construction, tell the world about it. Silence is not serving your gifts, skills, creativity and enterprise. Make it a mission to find those who want to find you.
I grew up in analogue times in dusty Nairobi. I was mostly a well-behaved child. Speaking without raising my hand was not allowed, and personal opinions were rarely solicited. My end of term report was evidence of how hard I had worked and if I kept it up, someone would notice and I would get picked for the next round. Now that I’m all grown and doing my hustle, I’m on a new learning path and so you’ll be hearing from me!
Excuse me while I go and shout from the rooftops.