How to get better Social Media Results

social-media-resultsMost businesses are now using Social Media in some shape or form. And it’s the shape and form that matters. To put it in context there are an estimated 50 Million businesses using Facebook. Why?. To generate business.

It’s simple. Social Media is about conversation and engagement. Plus it’s about creating content which ignites the spark – to start the conversation and enhance the engagement. So if it’s that simple Wayne, why do some many businesses still struggle with Social Media?

Well not to put too fine a point on it. Their content sucks.

Yup I said it. Poorly planned, last minute, always in sell mode, poor quality..the list goes on. And guess? It’s got little to no hope of sparking any conversation – let alone engagement.

Now before you go all OMG on me, thinking I’m really harsh on hard working businesses, I want to offer a silver lining – some Top Tips for all those businesses and other organisations who are finding their social media a chore.

Plan. And StickToIT.

Before you do anything you need to get a plan.

So step away from your Smartphone or Laptop, grab an old fashioned pen and paper and start to develop a plan. Questions like

‘Where are we now with our social media?’ (Assessment of current platforms/campaigns)

‘Where would we like to be?’ (Examples of admired bus/orgs)

‘How are are we going to get there?’

..are all good starting points.

Remember the journey is a long term game.

Many make the mistake of thinking of social media as some sort of silver bullet, which will get the phone ringing overnight and the enquiries coming in. That, my friend, takes time.   

Research 

If you were to rewind – say to even 10 years, you’d know how difficult it would be to carry out research, not to mention how much it would cost. We live in a time where research has become a whole lot easier in relation to identifying and accessing your potential audience locally, nationally or even internationally.

I’m a big fan of ‘Keeping it (really) Simple’. Two things you need to do:

Go to the Google Keyword Planner tool (which is free to use). This can shed a whole lot of light on a potential audience for a business. Best of all it will give you a real good indication of the types of things people are searching for locally and globally which relate to your business. If you see a trend and people are searching for particular words, guess what? You start to create content.

Keywords research is very important. In a nutshell, it’s the process for identifying keywords or phrases which are generating search volume from users each month. The process helps you pinpoint suggested keywords that can help generate traffic to your website or blog. Simply put it will help you target traffic which will be more niche and potentially ‘your market’ .

Facebook Ad Tool

Using the Facebook Ads tool also helps give you a pretty good indication of your potential audience and reach.

Facebook for the most part for businesses is ‘Pay to Play’. While I recommend you do a mixture of paid and non paid activity, if you’re just starting out it’s a great tool for getting an idea to your potential customer base. It is a tool I use regularly to check the potential audience base for my content ideas.

Write Better Headlines

Spend the time coming up with effective headlines for your content. It’s important. If you have a copywriter to hand – use them. If not take your time on this. Think of how fast social media moves. You have just a small window to capture the attention of your audience. A great little tool I suggest small businesses take a look at is Co Schedule Headline Analyzer. This is your headline assistant. It scores your suggested headlines eg for your blog posts and gives some great suggestions on how to best improve your headline for Maximum Impact. #BOOM 

Promote your Content 

It’s a wasted exercise creating great content for your business or brand, investing time, energy and money into it if you don’t promote it.

When it comes to promotion most businesses go straight to Facebook and Twitter to get their content in front of people. While these may work there are a number of other ways to try getting in front of digital eyeballs.

Content distribution

Outbrain is a content discovery platform that partners with publishers across 55 countries. It offers another way to get content sitting on websites and blogs in front of people. Normally via news websites in a ‘you may also like’ way. You are charged on a cost per click basis as opposed to a impression basis.

When it comes to content via Social Media and your businesses website it helps to educate, inspire and inform.  Visitors then turn into customers – it helps conversion. Spend time creating content, with great Headers, about topics your targeted audience wants and promoting it wisely. You’ll see results.

If you’d like to get more hands on with Social Media and improve how it’s working for your Business – Join Wayne on the next ISM Social Media Marketing Workshop to book a place email: [email protected]

Emotional Intelligence

For decades the term IQ has been bandied about as a prerequisite for career and life success. You either have a high IQ which makes you an achiever, or you don’t and get by perfectly well in life as an average employee. However the newest buzz word, Emotional Intelligence (EI), is something we can all get on board with because as humans we each possess multiple emotions and these emotions can be controlled, moulded and channelled to help us evolve into more productive professionals at the workplace.

So what by definition is Emotional Intelligence? It’s the ability to identify and control your own emotions and the emotions of others through skilled manipulation of emotional awareness. This ability to harness and consequently manage emotions is what can make a powerful leader (think politician). Obviously not every profession demands a high level of people skills or a deep understanding of human behaviour. But where it is required, and where it becomes catalyst for career advancement, a mastery of emotional intelligence can contribute to a rapid climb up the corporate ladder, culminating in a successful and lucrative career.

The theory of EI was proposed in 1990 by Peter Salovey (now Provost of Yale University) and John D Mayer, Professor of Psychology at the University of New Hampshire. According to Mayer, “People with high EI, we believed, could solve a variety of emotion-related problems accurately and quickly. High EI people, for example, can accurately perceive emotions in faces. Such individuals also know how to use emotional episodes in their lives to promote specific types of thinking. They know, for example, that sadness promotes analytical thought and so they may prefer to analyze things when they are in a sad mood (given the choice). High EI people also understand the meanings that emotions convey: They know that angry people can be dangerous, that happiness means that someone wants to join with others, and that some sad people may prefer to be alone.”

Emotional intelligence skills are typically divided into four categories: Self-awareness, Self-management, Social awareness and Relationship management. These skills when mastered and used in conjunction with conflict resolution tools can prove a potent armoury for the modern day corporate warrior.

“Naturally, people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money—an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence. The link between emotional intelligence and earnings is so direct that every point increase in emotional intelligence adds $1300 to an annual salary. These findings hold true for people in all industries, at all levels, in every region of the world. We haven’t yet been able to find a job in which performance and pay aren’t tied closely to emotional intelligence.”

FedEx Express, the world largest cargo airline with over 290,000 employees and one of Fortune’s top 20 “Most Admired” companies for a decade, has implemented EI assessment and development into a six-month on-boarding process for new managers with remarkable results. “The program is yielding an 8-11% increase in core leadership competencies, with over half the participants experiencing very large (10-50%) improvements in certain key emotional intelligence skills and leadership outcomes:  72% of the program participants experience very large increases in decision making; 60% in Quality of Life, and 58% show major improvements in Influence.”

Most companies still tend to focus their hiring process and consequent training on hard skills. Typically little attention has been placed on soft skill competencies such as stress/conflict management, assertiveness, empathy, and social aptitude. In the real world these are vital skills that build strong competency in employees and management and are reflected in a company’s success.

Conflict and stress are ever present in our lives and we learn to deal with the unpleasant and negative side effects the best way we can. Now with the availability of EI training courses the good news is that you can learn how to deal with difficult people, how not to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation, when to take a step back, how to listen and communicate with empathy and a ton of other traits you never thought you could acquire. With some guidance and practice we can reprogram ourselves to don many facial masks, with accompanying body language and tone of voice, as the situation requires.

On Sunday 26th June ISM will be conducting a Summer Short Course titled “Self-Smart, People Smart – An Introduction to Emotional Intelligence”. This is an opportunity to explore and gain insight into your own level of emotional intelligence amidst a selected group of 18 participants. Contact ISM for more details.

 

Leadership in Dubai and the UAE has never been in question. How is it that such a small country has leapt onto the world’s centre stage in such a short time? Well, there are lots of great books out there where you can read up on Dubai’s history and the Leadership skills that have catapulted it from a small trading port to a megacity but I will touch on one quality, namely creativity.

In 1999, when addressing a government award ceremony Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum gave a very interesting speech in which he said, “a leader does not necessarily need to be the most intelligent member of his group, although many of us think that this should be the case, rather he is the one with the clearest and most far-reaching vision.”

his excellency sheikh mohammed bin rashid al maktoum

His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum always has his eye on the future,

Leaders like Sheikh Mohammed do not stay still , they do not look at what their competitors are doing and try to mimic them rather they have the ability to create opportunities and go beyond the current mind-set.

Visionaries are willing to try new things and challenge the norm and have conviction and ability to execute their vision. They do things differently. Different is why they exist. The why they do it is important , it drives them to explore ideas and pursue their goals .

Steve Jobs was regarded as a visionary leader and Apple’s success can be attributed to his creativity in imagining new markets for emerging technology (coupled with of course Steve Wozniak’s technical programming skills). So why do they do it?

George Mallory, the great climber in answer to why he attempted to climb Everest, stated, “because it is there.”

Jobs said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Sheikh Mohammed, Dubai’s leader is quoted as saying, “If we have achieved everything, should we stay hand folded, just to eat and drink?”

They all strive to look beyond the present into what could be, they don’t stand still. Innovation is born from chaos not status quo, so next time you see a leader of industry resting on his laurels that is when the competition will gain advantage. Likewise business will cede competitive advantage when they lack vision and mimic the best practice of successful companies. The businesses that are leading the market are the ones creating not best practice but ‘next’ practice and embrace the philosophy of ‘what if’.

So who do you think is a visionary leader? If political leaders are not meeting the mark who is? Which business leaders epitomise creativity?

For information on ISM’s game changing Leadership course in Dubai please contact [email protected]

For the last three years marketing departments all over the world have been shouting about harnessing the power of social media. But is it right that business invades social interactions online? Does the Facebook account of a young businessman in Dubai need the intrusion of a local bakery touting their latest offer?

Well, according to a recent study by the Dubai School of Government, that’s exactly what entrepreneurs in the region want to happen. From a poll of 5,000 young people from throughout the Middle East, 86% believed social media would empower entrepreneurs with branding and marketing. Another 86% believed it would help them tap into wider markets.

So social media has been fully embraced as a strong marketing tool. But is this view mirrored by the users of social media? According to a report by Bayt (a recruitment company), over 47% of people polled in the Middle East say they actively follow business social media vehicles (other than the social media from the company they currently work for).

And the top brands being followed? Well unsurprisingly N2V, the internet company, tops the Facebook chart with over 260,000 fans, followed by The Dubai Mall’s Facebook page. But liking a page isn’t the same as actively engaging with a company’s social media. Air Arabia can only be applauded for with their efforts in building a engagement rate of 0.31%.

These results show that people in the Middle East are as happy as the rest of the world to get involved with their favourite brands through social media.

Social media is growing rapidly in the Middle East. 88% of the Middle East’s online population uses social media sites on a daily basis. Which is over a third of the population of the whole of the Middle East.

Although numbers cannot be exact (as they are growing every day), a survey early in 2013 put Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn firmly at the top of the social media tree. Facebook users were 58 million, Twitter 6.5 million, and LinkedIn 5.8 million.

However, in the UAE LinkedIn outstrips Twitter, where 12% of people use LinkedIn, Twitter gets a paltry 3%. This could be down to the more professional focus seen in professionals in the region. Something that is backed up by another survey by Bayt. In the whole of Mena, 9 out of 10 professionals said they’d gone online to search for people they had either met, or were going to meet, while 8 in 10 said they’d googled themselves: proving the UAE professional is obviously very internet savvy.

With nearly a third of professionals admitting to spending more than five hours a day online, the internet has penetrated both business and private lives of people living in the Middle East. For marketeers this shows there is a real appetite for online content. As people rely more and more on social media to find great content, it is not a case of whether businesses should be engaging people through social media, It’s more a case of businesses becoming more creative in finding the best strategies to engage people.

 

bank audi

Did this campaign bring out the artist in you?

An example of this was Bank Audi’s ‘Card Artist’ social media campaign. The bank encouraged people to completely personalise their credit cards, then post a picture of it on the bank’s Facebook page to possibly win a cash prize. It took just a few days for Bank Audi’s Facebook page to gain 2,000 fans. As a consequence of their hard work on their social media, Bank Audi won the 2012 Middle East Internet award for Best Social Media Campaign in the Financial Services category.

Whether your customers are in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Muscat, further afield, or closer to home, using social media cleverly is not only welcomed by social media users in the Middle East, they can become active participants in building your brand online.

Sources

 

http://www.bayt.com/en/research-reports/

http://visual.ly/social-media-usage-middle-east-statistics-and-trends

http://www.socialbakers.com/storage/www/sm-uae.png

http://img.b8cdn.com/emails/marketing/infograph0612/csm_en.png

http://www.wamda.com/2013/04/the-positive-effect-of-social-media-on-the-arab-world-infographic

http://www.slideshare.net/mrdamian/digital-digest-special-social-media-in-the-mena-2012-review-15877371

http://www.banqueaudi.com/NewsRoom/PressReleases/Pages/201211-cardartist.aspx

http://www.terrapinn.com/2012/the-internet-show-awards-middle-east/C38481.stm

Marketing is an essential activity for any business, but it’s often difficult for new companies to know where to start. Here are three tops marketing tips that wont break the bank, but will get your marketing strategy off the ground.

Become a great networker

Yep the networking game is daunting, is often filled with time wasters and can be highly repetitive. However, it can also hold the key to accessing your next biggest client.

Networking is about building relationships, and building those relationships takes time. It’s not a quick fix for finding new clients; you have to put the effort in to get the work out of it. So don’t be pushy, don’t try to sell your business to the first person you meet. You have to get to know people and, more crucially, they have to get to know you.

Because trust doesn’t happen in the first couple of meetings, you have to select your networking carefully. Do some research. Many networking groups allow people to visit before joining. Go along to as many as you can in your area and see which one suits you and your business needs.

Once you’ve established one or two groups to go to, make the effort to turn up regularly and you’ll start to make connections. Some of those may not even be people in the room. Every person in a networking group has a huge number of their own contacts, and you’ll often find that the work comes from external contacts.

Remember: when a group of people start to trust you, they’ll start to see the worth in your business and either make an appointment to find out more for themselves, or pass on you details to someone in their own network.

Awards

blog badge

ISM needs to be recognised as a great local resource !

Being recognised with an award is a great way to market your company. An award promotes confidence in both you current customer and prospective customers.

There are lots of awards out there; it’s just a matter of finding the right ones for you. The first place to check is industry specific publications, then move onto local government awards, and then spread your net a little wider for left-field awards such as your online customer service.

Understand the criteria for applying and then put yourself forward. Winning is the aim, but if you don’t win the first year you enter, try again the following year.

And when you do win an award make a big deal of it – use it in e-shots, blog about it; add any badges to your website. It’s all about showing your customers and clients that you merit their attention.

Publicity

Research your local newspaper reporters, online industry journalists and bloggers. They are the lifeblood of publicity and can be a really effective marketing tool for your business.

Your local newspapers will always be on the look out for stories about local businesses. Remember that award you won? Send a press release to the local paper– but make sure it’s a well written press release because the better it scans to the journalist the more likely they are to run the story, or even ring you up for more information.

Building up contacts in the press will help you market your business. You can reach a larger audience through news articles. When the article is written by someone trusted for their professional opinion, another layer of trust is given to your business.

Whether you are marketing a company in Dubai, Cairo or Sydney, the basics of publicity are the same. Just like networking, take your time to build up contacts. Don’t rush it, get too pushy, or become unpleasant. The least that can happen is you won’t get any press at all, but the worst… well bad publicity in the internet era is the last thing you need.

 

 

 

mountain path

Negotiation is a pathway that needn't be daunting

Before you close a sale, you’ll have to sit tight through the negotiation phase. In sales, negotiation is one of the real tests of whether your company can work in the long term with another company.

But how do you ensure the negotiations will bring in the business your aiming for? Here are six ways to make negotiations go more smoothly.

Set a schedule

Whether you need a series of meetings, or just one specific meeting, schedule it as soon as the opportunity arises. Nobody has time to waste in business. So you’ll find that the company you want to work with should be receptive to the idea of scheduling time for negotiations. If there is some resistance, don’t be afraid to ask what is holding them back.

Ask lots of questions, and then listen

One of the major mistakes people in sales make is not understanding the prospective client’s needs. If you don’t get all the information you can before negotiations start, then tricky questions on their side wont get the answers from you that will seal the deal. So before you even get to the negotiating table ask as many questions about what the prospective client wants from your product or service.

Be flexible

Sure you want to close a deal with the best outcome for your business, but don’t push so hard for concessions you scare away the prospect. Doing business is a reciprocal arrangement. You’re helping them out with a (hopefully) superior offering, they’re keeping your business going by buying that offering. Any reputable business looks for a win win scenario. This ensures a long lasting business relationship where both parties gain something worthwhile.

Know your bottom price

Everyone likes to get a good deal, but you need to know what your permitted bottom price is before walking into negotiations. The difference between knowing your bottom price and not knowing is the confidence it gives you. If you don’t know where you draw the line, that insecurity could jeopardise the deal. It also prevents you from making a deal based on a price your company cannot make a profit from.

Know your extras

When making a deal you’ll have some extras up your sleeve to sweeten the deal. Don’t go for gimmicky extras, they have to be real and add a sense of worth to the deal. These can be lower prices over a certain volume of orders, or a particular after sales service that companies normally pay for. Don’t forget to highlight how great your normal standard of customer service is. Sometimes what seems like normal to you can seal a deal – the customer may not be used to your high level of customer care.

Don’t be afraid to walk away

Of course the deal is important, but is it really worth it if you have to concede too much? Remember your bottom price? That’s the number where you are still making a reasonable profit from the deal. If the other company demands so many concessions that you exceed your bottom line, the deal isn’t good for your business. At every stage during a sales process you should be asking yourself whether the deal is worth pursuing.

Negotiating in a sales environment shouldn’t be daunting. Your job is to find a happy middle ground where both you and the customer walk away happy with the deal you’ve struck.

Business to business networking can really benefit your business in Dubai, but only if you approach it from the right angle. For many people, business networking conjures images of rooms full of pushy salesmen and women committing the sin of hard selling.

But it needn’t be like that. In fact, networking done properly is about businesses helping each other. If you’re always shied away through nerves or a fear of wasting your time with false people, it’s time to reassess your preconceptions and look at how much networking has changed.

It’s not about you

First of all, you have to park your ego at the door when it comes to networking. This is not a time to take over the conversation and talk, talk, talk. It’s a time to listen to people.

Giving your ear to others is the only way to get beyond the job title and business name. Great networkers take the time to get to know people, because it gives you a better idea of who they are and how good they are in business.

Make connections

nerve connections

We are all a bag of nerves but making connections helps growth. Personal and business !

The biggest mistake people make when networking is to try and sell from the get-go. But that’s not what networking is about – and the sooner you realise it, the more successful you’ll be at it.

More often it’s about helping people out. Once you get to know their business, you’ll soon see how other business people you know will benefit from their services or products.

By helping each other through networking, businesses grow organic relationships that will last much longer, and be more profitable as a result.

Think beyond the room

Despite the fact you are meeting and getting to know the people in the room, it’s the connections those people have that can prove more profitable in the long run. Think of your own business network. How many different business owners do you know? It’s going to be quite a lot. When you apply that to a room of 30 people, you start to understand why it’s important not to sell too hard to that small group. Forging relationships will eventually lead to business outside the room.

Do your research

As in any other area of business, research is everything. There will be many different business networking opportunities in your area. Some will compliment your business aims more than others. Go to as many as possible and then narrow it down to the ones that you feel are going to be the most effective for your business objectives.

Attend regularly

It’s only by attending these networking events regularly that you get the best results. Whether you go once a month, every week, or every quarter, the only way to get to know people is seeing them on a regular basis.

Networking can be a highly effective way of gaining new business. So brush up on your people skills, forget your nerves, and dive in.

So you’ve decided it’s time to start your email marketing campaign to your Dubai or Gulf database… but before you begin there are some simple ways of making it truly effective.

When to send

People are busy and your email has to hit their inbox at a time when they are in a receptive mood. There has been a lot of research done into when this golden time is and generally, midweek is a great time for business emails.

If you are selling to the consumer, then the rules change slightly. Some companies choose a blanket approach such as one a day, usually sent in the middle of the night so as to be one of the first emails seen in the morning. However, this can be highly annoying and many people just unsubscribe if you send too often.

UAE flag

Are you planning to launch a National Day product ?

When tying your marketing campaign into a national holiday or event, then a couple of days beforehand is a good time to send – especially if you an e-commerce company hoping to sell more products on the back of the holiday. It gives people time to have the goods delivered before the day itself.

Subject heading

It’s really important to get this right, because if you get it wrong it’ll be deleted straight away. Remember that people are busy and no matter how great your offer or interesting your newsletter, if the header doesn’t grab them within two seconds, your email marketing effort is toast.

Words like ‘free’, ‘limited offer’, ‘sale ends today’, do grab attention and are worth using if you are doing a push in a tight time frame. For those who are sending out monthly newsletters, then you need to remember what your target audience is likely to respond to. Try to think like a journalist – what is the most attention-grabbing nugget in your newsletter? When you know what it is, put it in the subject header.

What’s in the Body?

You may have heard that email marketing is dead, but that isn’t true. What is dead is the old style of sending out long, text heavy emails that nobody has the time or the inclination to wade through. You have to break up your emails, put in images and make it look attractive, as well as having interesting articles, news, and special offers.

Give people a taste of what you are offering and then place a link in there for them to click on. You can take them to your website for the special offer, or a more detailed blog.

Who’s clicking through?

So you’ve managed to get people to open the email and click on the most important link – what now? Are you tracking how people behave when they read your email? If you aren’t analysing your email click through rates, you are missing some essential business information.

There are many different types of software out there to track what people are doing with your emails. One of the most popular by far is Mail Chimp. This gives you the power to know who is opening your emails, and whether they are clicking on any links in that email.

This type of knowledge makes your email marketing much more targeted. By analysing how people respond to one email, you can adjust your next one, refining all the time to make the most of this simple marketing tool.

Being a great salesperson means remembering that some of your best sales don’t come from new clients, but from established ones. They’re the ones who have already bought into your product before and they are more likely to buy into it again.

It pays dividends to keep in touch !

Keep in touch

In the race to get new business it’s easy to forget old contacts and business customers. But a really good salesperson knows not to do that. Keep track of when you meet clients and what they are doing. If there is a conference coming up, that’s the perfect time to get in touch with old clients and see if they are going. If they are, arrange to meet up. Talking in a social setting is a more relaxed way to remind your old customers that your business is still there for them

Cross-sell

When talking to customers keep your ear open for opportunities to cross sell products. Depending on the setting, you may want to set up another, more business orientated meeting to discuss what else you company has that will help the customer.

Analyse your customer base

The vast majority of your business will come from a small number of clients. Sitting down and identifying those clients is essential. Knowing which clients order more of your product or service, than any other, means you can specifically target them first when offering a new product.

Plan

As in everything, planning is the key ingredient to being successful. Give yourself some time to sit down and go through what you want to achieve in the next 12-month period. You can break this down into how to leverage the relationships you have with current customers and what you can do to create new customers. Using the information you’ve gathered from looking at the most lucrative customers, you’ll know how to offer them a better service. You may also see how that relationship developed from a cold start to being profitable. Once you know how it was done once, you can look at ways of replicating it with another potential customer.

Perfect your presentation

It’s pointless trying to shy away from it – every salesperson has to a sales pitch or presentation at some point. Which is why you need to make it as perfect as possible. Remember a sales presentation is your chance to show customers and potential customers how your product will add real benefit to their business. Don’t go overboard with words like ‘exciting’, ‘wonderful’, ‘innovative’. Instead focus on why you think it’s all these things. Remember to always show the benefits of your products and how they will make life better for your customer. This approach is more valid, and the customer can identify more easily with it.

Stretch yourself

If you have mastered the art of keeping in touch with old customers, you may well feel quite comfortable without having to go out and find new business. But, as the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t rely on a small number of customers to keep you business going. Calling a new lead can be daunting, but done right it will produce new business – you never know, one of those may well become the best customer you’ve ever had.

Being a successful sales person in Dubai is no different from a sales role in London, New York or Mumbai. You have to have work on your current customer list and take the time to find new customers periodically.

The success or failure of a department in a company most often lies in the hands of the manager. And wherever in the world you are, the processes to becoming an inspiring manager in Dubai, New York or Delhi don’t vary a great deal.

Pied Piper

Are you the kind of leader that people want to follow?

Some people seem to be innately inspirational; their personality boosts those around them to give that little bit extra on every job. Yet the basics of bringing out the best in those around you can be learned. But they also have to be put into practice.

Loyalty

To build an atmosphere of trust in your team, you need to show your team loyalty. This means not pulling someone up in front of everyone, but taking them to one side and talking to them honestly. And if you receive praise for a project, remember to pass on that praise to the team.

If your team has succeeded in brining in a big order, celebrate. And invite everyone in who helped in the success. By acknowledging individual efforts in a joint success, you’ll inspire everyone to achieve as much on the next task.

Put in the hours

If you turn up for meetings late, don’t get reports in on time and generally show a distinct lack of interest… so will your team. A really great manager leads by example, so if want to inspire your team, put the hours in. Make sure your reports are ready when you say they will be, turn up early for meetings so you can talk to the team before the real meeting begins.

A leader who gets 100% from their team is one who puts in 100% themselves.

Set goals

Don’t be satisfied by mediocrity, aim high and put in the hours yourself to see the project through.

By showing your own commitment to a project, your team will begin to feel (especially if you have built a loyal environment) that they too can put in a little extra to reach the goal.

When you have your goal, work out the steps necessary to reach it  and tell everyone what their role is in achieving that goal. Giving people ownership of part of the process will boost their confidence.

Be there for your team

And once you’ve set those goals, given people responsibility over the process, don’t just leave them too it. Be there when they need help, make asking for advice a good thing in your office, not an admission of failure. Putting out a task and keeping your door open, answering emails and arranging regular meetings to see how people are doing not only gets the job done more effectively, it shows your team you are interested, involved and ready to help where needed.

Invest in people

Developing skills in your workforce shows a real commitment to their career. Some companies may feel that it is a waste of money putting staff on courses, especially if they can hire someone with those skills already. But, by using the staff you have and investing in them, you are building trust and loyalty. Sure, it’s possible the new person knows a lot about a certain area, but do they know the customers as well as the guy you fired? Probably not. By putting someone in house on a course, you are building a much stronger team.

Being an inspiring leader takes effort, but when you are running a business, that effort is essential in creating a successful company.

Before you embark on a social media campaign, your Dubai marketing team needs to plan, plan, plan. A scattered approach will yield scattered results at best. At worst, lots of social media accounts will open, and then nothing will get posted.

There are several different vehicles you can choose from to begin a social media campaign. Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter are the main ones. But which one do you choose?

Pooh

Pooh has a lot to say about thinking before acting. Do you have a well thought out social media marketing strategy ?

Well you are already well ahead of yourself here. Because the starting point is not what vehicle to choose, but deciding what your marketing campaign is aiming to achieve. Are you promoting the business as a whole, or one particular aspect?

Once you’ve identified what you are marketing, you then have to think about where you want people to go once they have been engaged. Do you want them to go to buy a product in a real shop? Are you promoting a product or service on your website? Is the aim to get people to your website and pick up the phone to contact you? Or to make a purchase on the website?

Not knowing the answer to these questions places your social media strategy into the pointless zone: engagement without a goal.

Answer all these questions as fully as possible before deciding which social media vehicle is going to help you achieve the most success. As an example, if you are selling a new range of cosmetics, you will need videos showing people using the cosmetics, beautiful images on Pinterest, a twitter account and a Facebook account to talk to customers and tell them of offers in Dubai shopping malls. And your website has to reflect the brand message.

But if you are offering consultation services, you need a truly authoritative blog, perhaps some tutorials on YouTube, some audio downloads and a LinkedIn account to talk to other businesses.

At this point you should know  what you are selling, who you are selling it to, and how you want to sell it. So who do you put in charge of the social media campaign? Do you place it in the hands of the new intern? Do you rotate who works on it?

The answer is obviously no, you don’t. You need someone who is net savvy, marketing savvy, customer orientated and comfortable confining their comments to 142 characters. This is not a job for an intern. You need a dedicated team who can track what is going on in each of the vehicles you’ve chosen.

Because when you have more than one social media platform, you need to know when to feed information into it. If you have a new video up on YouTube, tell people about it on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. A new blog post is the same; tell people it’s up. Think about social media as multiple loops that feed into different parts of your website. To keep track of everything, have a big calendar on the marketing office wall that shows everyone when videos, blogs, audio content is being produced and loaded. Preparation is key. Thoroughly planned, your Dubai social media strategy will be engaging,informative and effective allowing your business to reap the rewards.

 

 

Viral marketing is a difficult concept for your Dubai marketing team to turn into reality. What will tickle the imagination of the general public? How do people then feel compelled to share it with their friends? But most importantly, how can you market your products and services this way?

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Firstly, don’t confuse a really popular video on YouTube with viral marketing. A funny cat video may well get viewed over a million times in 24 hours, but it’s not selling anything other than funny cats and, of course, YouTube. The viral nature of videos sells YouTube far better than an ad campaign could have done. Kia’s grooving hamsters were a late entry into the viral charts in August with their latest dance ( see video above.)

This shows the flipside of viral marketing. Very often people mistake the message as the marketing. Yet, as Marshal McCluhan said in his seminal work ‘Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man’, it is the medium that is the message.

By using a new type of medium (TV, YouTube, Facebook), your message can travel in new and distinct ways through the population. Find a new medium that people like using, or receiving information through, and you can start creating your sales message.

Creative quarters in every major city in the world are constantly on the look out for new ways of spreading their message. QR Codes and Augmented Reality are the latest trends in this ever-expanding search for the new. However, there are still ways of making the grade virally, without the major spend in new territory.

FREE

Free is always going to generate interest. And it’s not just the current climate that makes free so easy to disseminate. Free has always held people’s attention. A staple of beauty magazines was the free sample. A little sachet of cream that promised clearer, tighter, dazzling, skin.

In the age of the internet it is information that holds value. Giving away a free guide, and pdf, free Kindle book, is a great way to spread an idea. Very often that idea is that your company knows what it’s talking about. It’s an excellent way to increase brand awareness and goes some way to give a base to growing brand loyalty. Just make sure your freebie is worth the time of the person reading it. This is a one shot deal. Mess it up and you end with a poor reputation, or no reputation at all.

SHARE

We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Clicked the share button on Facebook because we thought it was funny? It is known that an item shared on Facebook is four times more likely to lead to a sale. Get it right and your video, image or daily deal will attract the right attention.

On YouTube careers have been launched and millions made. It is still a great way to give your product or service some exposure. But, again think before your post because if you are putting out lame, boring, thinly populated material, you’ll be doing more harm than good.

TALK

Let’s suppose that you run a wool shop. You’ve created a free document that shows novices how to knit a jumper. And the video that accompanies it is proving very popular. So what now? Are more people coming to your online wool shop and buying from you? Not as many as you’d have liked? Have you provided them with a space to talk to you?

Knowing who is your most profitable client, and understanding how to manage your relationship with them, is the main responsibility of a key account manager in Dubai, Riyadh or London.

In fact, the role of a Key Account Manager (or KAM) has become more important as companies spread their business dealings across the globe. The Financial Times defines the role of a Key Account Manager as: “The art of developing long-term relationships with selected customers.”

These selected customers are those that provide your business with the most income, or are strategically important to your company. So maintaining a good working relationship with them means you first have to identify who they are, and then you have to plan how maintain or develop your working relationship.

How to Identify Your Key Customers

KAM

Which of your accounts is the Big Daddy?

You may think you know instinctively who your key accounts are. Yet it is possible that you are focusing on the larger companies you deal with, to the detriment of smaller ones.

Take a step back and look at your sales and where they are being generated. There is a particular rule in business that 80% of business comes from only 20% of your customers. Finding out who belongs in this 20% is essential for identifying your key accounts.

You also have to assess how much effort you put into bigger companies compared to the orders you receive from them.

Once you’ve found this set of customers it’s important to also look for the strategic ones. For example, do you have a small customer who is excellent at referring you to bigger companies? Is your signature product sold in a particularly important boutique?

Understanding the difference between the volume sales, and the strategic sales customer is crucial for the planning stage. When you know who is most important to your business you can begin the next step:

How to Maintain/Develop the Relationship

There are different approaches to planning a relationship with key customers, but the most important action is the actual planning itself. Managing a customer on the fly is highly inefficient and at one extreme may lead you to lose the customer completely. Firstly you need to sit back and create short term, medium term and long term plans for each of your key accounts.

Each of your customers has a very different set of company goals and market challenges. When you have identified these key accounts it’s essential you understand their particular circumstances and how your business can help them achieve them.

Put in place objectives for each customer. Initially you’ll need three: vision, relationship, and business. Your vision is to have an image of the best outcome from your dealings with a business. The relationship objective centres around building a strong relationship where you deliver on time, fix problems quickly, and are there for the customer if they need extra support. The business objective is the solid financial outcome of the business relationship. You want to have a clear (and achievable) sales forecast for this customer.

Although there may be just one KAM for each customer, the planning and implementation needs to be carried out on a wider level. If you want your plans for a key account in Dubai to work holistically with your other key accounts in Abu Dhabi and Jeddah, have a series of planned meetings to form a cohesive overall strategy for your business.

dirhams

Money, can you keep track of it ?

Are you spending more than you are making? This is the absolute basic of budgeting for any start-up or non-finance manager in Dubai. Can you honestly say you understand where all the money coming in is being spent? And do you know which areas need less money and which areas require a boost?

At the heart of all businesses is the need to earn enough money to cover all the overheads and make some profit. Without a clear plan to ensure this happens, a business will obviously flounder. But assessing how this happens, and where to make changes to increase profitability, requires some knowledge of financial terms and how to implement them.

Here are some staples of a Finance Director’s daily routine. Understanding not only what they mean, but also how you can use them, will help a manager create a healthier department.

Cash flow Analysis:  Shows where (and more importantly when) the money is coming into the company and how it is being spent out of the company.

Gross Margin:  If it costs you 12 dirhams to make a product and you sell it for 25 dirhams, the gross margin is 13 dirhams.

Balance Sheet:  This is a snapshot of your company’s, or your department’s financial situation. It shows the assets and liabilities on a specific date and can be used to show the worth of the company and to analyse its management.

Break Even Point: This is where your total income equals your total expenditure.

Income Statements:   An important report analysing a company’s revenue and expenditure. This is also known as the profit and loss statement.

Return On Capital:   Is the measure of how a company uses its resources to generate profit.

Key Performance Indicators:  These help companies keep track on the success (or failure) of defined goals and targets.

Working capital:   Is the money available to a company to pay the day to day bills.

It is the job of a department manager to do more than just know what these terms mean. A thorough understanding of how to read a cash flow analysis alongside the income statement, will allow you to plan better. You will see where the money is working hardest and where it is disappearing into a black hole of inactivity.

So instead of winging it every month, you’ll be able to place a strategy behind your department’s work, and ultimately increase profitability.

Without proper budgets behind purchasing and marketing decisions, a department can quickly descend into chaotic spending patterns that not only make it a drag on the company as a whole, but also puts a question mark against whether you are capable of running it properly.

If you are struggling to keep a tight rein on your business or department budget, it’s time to think about a financial course in Dubai aimed specifically at non-financial managers. The Institute of Sales and Marketing has a highly knowledgeable team of experts that are here to help you. On our Finance Management for Non-Financial Managers course, you will gain confidence in your abilities to effectively oversee budgets and understand basic financial principles.

Every company in the world has been told they need to write a blog. But, do you really know why your Dubai marketing agency needs a regular blog? Or have you found yourself lost for what to write about?

sethgodin

Business blogging ..make it work for you !

Writing a blog is an excellent way to create real content on your website that appeals to your site visitors as well as to search engines. For search engines love new pages: it indicates a website is still in use, and they love indexing new pages. Blogs are also one of the cornerstones of social media marketing. With a blog you can draw attention to your website through all the other social media channels, improving your inbound links and thus, again, improving your rankings on search engines.

Here are some handy tips to help you keep your blog on track:

Make It Relevant

One of the worst mistakes you can make with your company blog is to talk about issues and events that are outside your knowledge base. If there is a major event in your industry, have an opinion. If there is a political or social issue that your company has no connection with, don’t blog about it.

You need to keep your blog consistent. Readers will grow accustomed to seeing your blog as a consistent source of information. If you write with authority on your subject, you will find that readers will come back every week to find out more. Deviate too frequently and you’ll confuse people and lose their attention.

Spread the Word

Don’t just write a blog, upload it to your site and leave it at that. Use other social media channels to ensure different types of readers get to know about it. Put a link to the blog page on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. If you are a regular on forums where linking is permitted, put a link there as well.

Show, Don’t Tell

Although a company blog is generally a written format, don’t be afraid to get some pictures up there, or embed a video. Pictures and video can really liven up your blog posts. Don’t use them in place of the written word all the time, but the occasional pictures or video will bring it life.

If you have a new product, service, menu, put a picture of it on your site and, if you feel it might attract attention, put it up on Pinterest as well. If you have a video of the product in action, even better, embed it into your blog as well as putting it up on YouTube.

Be Regular

If you want to keep people engaged in your blog, make sure you publish it every week. Every day would be great as well, but daily blogging is a huge task and requires having someone whose sole job it is to do your social media. So once a week is an easy ask. Once a month is too infrequent for blogging, but it is perfect timing for sending out a newsletter rounding up the month’s blogs and any other news your company has for your clients and customers.

Keep a schedule

It’s far easier to write a schedule of blogs for the next 8 weeks than trying to come up with ideas every week. Write out what needs to be highlighted each week to coincide with product launches, company events, industry events and news. A schedule also gives you the flexibility to change if something unexpected happens that you feel needs blogging about urgently.

So next time you’re feeling a little stuck for inspiration for your Dubai restaurant blog (and if you do have a restaurant or clothes boutique, Pinterest is a great way of showing your latest creation), open up Word, write a schedule and you’ll soon discover there is more to write about that you imagined.

Getting a Dubai company LinkedIn page up and running, or your personal profile working harder for you, is a quick process that can boost your own credibility as well as that of your business.

Founded in 2002, LinkedIn has developed a reputation for being the social media networking site for professionals. Unlike YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, this is a space devoted to building up relationships for business, not friendships (although that does happen, it is never as relaxed).

Which is why if you are not on there, you need to get your skates on. I’d hazard that most, if not all, of your contemporaries already have a basic account. With over 150 million users in over 200 countries, that’s a lot of business you could be missing out on.

A LinkedIn profile is nothing like your Facebook profile. This is the place where you tell people what is on your resume or CV, not where you spent your birthday party. And ensuring your profile gets seen is a matter of learning how to network online in a similar way that you’d network in real life. The only difference is that people can find out almost instantly what you’ve done in your career.

Making your profile work harder for you will require spending a bit of time on the site every week. There are some simple ways of boosting your profile:

Get your profile up to date – Every time you move job, learn a new skill, attend a seminar, or win an award, make sure you update your information. Remember, recruitment consultants use LinkedIn to find quality job candidates all the time. If you are looking for a new position, spend as much time polishing your LinkedIn profile as you would on your CV.

Ask for a recommendation – This is really important if you are a business or a freelancer. Ask people you’ve worked for, clients and partners to post a recommendation on your page. It allows visitors to see that you not only have the skills they are looking for, other people like what you do as well.

Join in discussions – There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn, talking about a wide range of topics, some of which will be relevant to your industry. Join the ones you are most interested in, or are most relevant to your company, and get talking on the topics and start some of your own. Showing you have an authoritative voice will benefit your company and your personal standing in the LinkedIn community.

Utilize the space – Don’t just give a short resume of yourself or your business. When people arrive on your business page on LinkedIn, they want to find out about your company, so give them all the information you want them to have. On your personal LinkedIn page, use the Summary section to really sell yourself and your abilities.

If you are going to use a piece of software like Hootesuite to send out messages to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, at the same time, just keep in mind that LinkedIn is a professional space and talk like you would in the office, and not how you’d chat with friends during downtime in Dubai Marina!

derren brown

Some people can effortlessly incorporate NLP into their communication skills.Can you?

How often have you seen people rolling their eyes when neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is mentioned in your Dubai sales office? It’s a commonly held misconception that NLP is dated, tired and  slightly embarrassing. On the flip side it has a reputation for being a mind controlling dark art.

Of course, none of this is really true. NLP is as relevant today as it was when John Grinder and Richard Bandler first researched it in 1972. Grinder was an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of California and Bandler a student of psychology at the same university.

Their aim was not to create a new branch of psychology, but to find out what made certain therapists so good at their job. In doing so they created models of behaviour to enable better communication between people: and they named it NLP. This was not some snake-oil cure-all to be sold at the side of road; it was devised by serious academics looking to build more effective ways of modelling excellence in others.

The hokum concept of NLP derives from the fact that anything to do with changing a person’s perception of the world is viewed with suspicion. We are hardwired to be resistant to people messing with our minds. However, when our methods of dealing with the world are proving unsuccessful, finding a new, well researched model is a good thing.

This is one of the reasons NLP has lasted so long. It is now applied in business, education, health, therapy and law: not areas that would rely on something for forty years unless it was working.

And how does NLP help your sales team in Dubai? Well, the modelling aspect is very important for sharing successful sales techniques that drive up the overall effectiveness of your team.

You will have heard of the hunter and farmer mentality in a sales team. The hunters go out and catch a prospect with no worries about whether you have to go back a second time. The farmer will tend his flock of prospects so they feel happy to come back for another purchase.

NLP may seem, on the surface, to be perfect for the hunter: there are techniques for matching body language and breathing rates, keeping eye contact. However, it really is about building relationships with strangers that have long lasting benefits for both parties. It’s the win/win model of sales and marketing. You win a sale and your customer gets the product or service that will make their life easier or more exciting.

But learning these techniques is not as easy as cracking open the latest best seller. It will do a great job of introducing you to the techniques, but it doesn’t give you the real, hands on learning experience that will really benefit your ability to create a successful sales force.

ISM run targeted courses on how to successfully use NLP in a sales environment so that you don’t make basic mistakes and ruin the deal before you start. The Institute of Sales and Marketing NLP course is a sales master class aimed primarily at those who may have already attended our popular Professional Selling Skills and would like to explore NLP sales in a 2 day hands on workshop.

Weekends are a precious space to take a breather from the office. Yet when you have just slogged through the commute back to your Dubai home, the bad vibes in your office can blow away any peace you might have had left.

Nothing ruins you mood, and sometimes your commitment to your job, faster than office politics. And it isn’t just a small annoyance, chat to anyone in HR and they’ll readily tell you the overall effect of someone, or a group of people. Playing office politics is detrimental in terms of a department’s performance: it lowers productivity and leads to higher staff turnover.

camel milk

A switch to camel milk might just stop the milk thief in their tracks !

There are, of course, levels of office politics ranging from simple ignoring a colleague to specifically targeting an individual and making their life a misery. However you look at it, it’s going to cause trouble. An ignored colleague is either going to feel ostracised and perform badly, or feel a lack of support and seek employment elsewhere.

On the other end of the scale where someone is specifically targeted, this goes beyond office politics and into bullying territory. In a culture where not passing on important information to an individual is accepted, it has ramifications for the business as well as the individual.

Not only could a person be made to look stupid at a group meeting, it might even cause them to lose a client. Neither is good. Losing a client hurts the entire company. The individual meanwhile is thoroughly demotivated and will either quit or under perform.

So how do you combat this happiness, time and productivity sucker? If you are a manager of a the group and can see the office politics being played out in front of you, it is part of your job to sort it out. Let’s face it, any detrimental activities going on during your watch is going to have a negative impact on your promotion prospects.

If you are the person feeling the brunt of the office politics, getting it off your chest may be difficult, but if you want to stay within the company rather than trying for a new job, you have to find the right person in the organisation to talk to.

In both cases you have to prepare yourself beforehand. To get a successful resolution you need to think of all the possible angles the other person is going to take. It may be that there is a little bit of tit for tat going on where no one person started it, but the whole department is suffering as a consequence. It’s possible that your manager is actually in on the game of politics – perhaps taking credit for your ideas and hard graft. It may be that you need to find an advocate in HR.

As with most difficult conversations in life, first of all think about what result you are looking for from the conversation. Without an end goal, the drive of the conversation can easily be taken away from you. Practicing your opening comments is key. Knowing exactly what you want to say will help you get over the hurdle of broaching the subject with the other person. Get yourself into a calm place as well: ranting doesn’t help your cause. Listen to the response, remember they have a right to their point of view, yet keep in mind your goal.

Tough as it is to confront a problem in the office, your daily commute through Deira will be significantly easier if you tackle it. And don’t wait until Thursday to do it. Make the commitment at the beginning of the week so you can all work through the after effects together.

ruthbadger

The Badger...do you have her sales skills?

We all know there are born sales people. You will have seen them in your offices: the ones who can sell the benefits of their product and get huge commitments from you in Dubai without breaking a sweat. But don’t worry, you can learn good sales techniques: the innate salesperson just learned their craft a little earlier than you. Here are five simple ways in which will help you straight away.

Stay Calm

There comes a point in all sales pitches where the tension begins to mount, but the more experienced sales person doesn’t let this show. Some sales situations are more stressful than others, such as negotiations worth hundreds of thousands. But during this process a seasoned salesperson is able to calmly deal with any last minute prevarications from the client without losing their cool.

Ditch the Script

We’ve all been on the receiving end of a sales call where we can almost see the script that is in front of the telesales person. Transfer this feeling into a face-to-face conversation and you can easily see why working to a script doesn’t convert to sales. Easy, confident language is key. Whilst the script is in your head, try to talk in a more relaxed style that bring across the good points of the product.

Be Straight Up

Or rather, don’t tell lies. Although the best salesperson can sell just about anything, you’re not going to create goodwill if you sell a product which the client quickly finds out doesn’t do everything you said it does. When selling a product keep to what it really can do, rather than trying to sell it on benefits it doesn’t have. And if you don’t personally like the product, be honest: the product may be exactly what the client wants, and the fact you are honest in your opinion encourages them to believe everything else you say about it.

Be a Professional

Emulation has always been considered a good sales tactic. However, this only goes so far, there has to be a stopping point where you retain your own level of professionalism. If your client appears to be a very relaxed surf dude don’t try and pretend to be on the same wavelength – whiff of insincerity is enough to put off a potential customer. Better to be your own person and copy subtly, than to make a fool of yourself.

Mind Your Manners

Being rude gets you nowhere in the business of sales. And in the current economic climate, it is even more important to remember that being pleasant during negotiations is paramount. Remember, if the client is having difficulty committing, it’s your job to show them how your product or service will be a real

As with everything in business, there is always something new to learn. Next time you have the opportunity, watch your best salesperson and take mental notes on how she creates the right atmosphere to close the sale. Don’t stop there either – keep your eyes and ears open when out and about in Dubai, it’s a tough sales environment and you will come across a continuum of  sales skills which you can reflect on.

How do you become a great leader? Well, first of all becoming a leader doesn’t suit everyone. Some people are great innovators, brilliant managers or excellent at hiring the right people. But, if you feel that leadership is the role you want, here are five traits to work on.  They work for business leaders all over the world, whether they are selling a cup cake franchise in Boston, or rivets in Dubai, leadership characteristics are universal.

yoga in dubai

Yoga might not be your thing but you have to admire their 5.30 am start in Zabeel Park

Have a Clear Focus

 Every morning a leader wakes up knowing the prime business focus of the day. Without a clear objective from the top, members of the team would have difficulty keeping on track with a project.

One tried and trusted method for keeping yourself focused is to get up a bit earlier than you normally do and thinking about where you need to be by the end of the day.

 Adapt and Change

It sounds counter-intuitive, but without the ability to use the changes in the world around you, a business will have difficulty keeping the momentum going.  The world changes rapidly. This is nothing new, but there are game changing moments in every industry. Social media is a prime example of this. Those who thought it was just fad have missed out on the early years learning how it might work for their company.

This doesn’t mean you chop and change your main ideas constantly; nothing would get out into the world if you did, but you have to use the changes around you to your advantage.

Make Difficult Decisions

If there’s one point where leader really shines, it’s making the difficult decisions that nobody else can, or should be making. This can be whether to ditch a project that has been in development for over six months, or understanding whether a particular sales model is working for your company.

A leader also understands that to make their team outstanding, it has to have the right people. Knowing when to let someone go is one thing, putting it into practice is where a true leader stands out. Done in the right way it will make the team stronger, done badly and the whole team might feel insecure and wonder who is next.

Have Courage

There are different types of courage in business life. It’s one thing to show off your driving skills during a wadi bashing team building exercise, but quite another thing to confront difficult issues within your company or team.

If you recognise there is a problem nobody else is facing up to, this is where the real courage comes into play…figuring out how to address the problem to get the outcome you know your company needs.

Keep Learning

An inspiring story will help you understand how other leaders became who they are, and as a consequence, help you become a better leader. Take a good look around the Kindle store, chat to your local bookshop owner, talk to your business colleagues, family and friends. Every one of them will have their own favourite book. And don’t confine yourself to the business shelves, read biographies on your favourite sporting hero or fashion designer, look beyond the business rack and delve into arts, film, even the hobby aisle. Go on courses run by inspirational people who will open your mind to new possibilities.

Without learning from the success and failures of people we know personally, or admire from a distance, we cannot develop the full range of abilities needed to become a really good leader. To develop learning cultures within your own organisation that will sustain business in the future , a leader needs to model and adopt lifelong learning practices themselves.

The leadership courses run by the Institute of Sales and Marketing in Dubai are in high demand because they help companies develop effective leadership principles. Please go to  https://www.ismdubai.com for more details on the next course available.

There have been low level, techie-driven grumblings about QR Codes for several months now. Predominantly based around the fact they will soon be replaced by another type of scanning technology: Mobile Visual Search. So is it time for your Dubai advertising team to ditch your QR Code campaign?

Not quite. It’s taken over two years for QR Codes to gain the broad public awareness to become the viable marketing tool it is today. But it will help your marketing team enormously to get a heads up on Mobile Visual Search.

MVS is a slow burning technology that allows mobile phone users to scan their environment and get information pushed to their phone. For example, point your camera at the Burj al Arab and an app on your phone will send you the information on this iconic building.

However the apps for this technology haven’t reached the saturation of QR Code apps, and there are only a handful of MVS developers in the world, who use an even smaller number of companies for the image recognition technology behind the apps.

It is a very niche idea at the moment. Google has invested in their own MVS app, Google Goggles, and the potential is very alluring – point your mobile’s camera at anything, instantly finding out about it. No messing with intermediary codes.

 

QR code

Would you like a present from ISM ?

But, for advertisers the QR Code still has traction. You can put one anywhere, on anything. When Calvin Klein wanted to seduce trendy young people in New York with a risqué ad, it was done through using a QR Code. There was no need to put a picture up on the billboard, similar to the ones that have got the company in hot water in the past. The QR Code is like a present, you are not sure what you are going to get before you open it.

With Mobile Visual Search, this element of surprise is gone. You point your camera at a product, building, painting or some foreign words and the information is delivered to your phone. It just isn’t as exciting as receiving a present, it’s more like opening a guide book.

Advertising and marketing companies are going to have to get very creative with this new technology if they want it to work on the scale that QR Codes currently do. One of the objections to QR Codes is they are ugly and interfere with advertising real estate. But they don’t have to be ugly and can direct customers towards specific pages of content, videos, or purchase points.

And this is where MVS falls down currently. You can make sure anyone accessing your logo through MVS technology goes to your corporate website, but how do create a journey for them? How do you take them to the latest video, how do you give them a present?

One article on the web has stirred up a lot of the current controversy surrounding the possible death of the QR Code, and has spawned other blog posts on the subject. On Mashable, the owner of a company that develops MVS said he didn’t think 14 million people accessing a QR Code was impressive. However, these codes can only be accessed by smartphones and there are 1.5bn worldwide mobile web users (i.e. smartphone users). Suddenly 14 million in one country is starting look at lot more impressive.

Mobile Visual Search is advancing, but just like video didn’t kill radio; QR Codes will develop and adapt to counter the new tech on the block. So don’t stop your QR Code advertising campaign in Dubai just yet. Dubai is one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to QR Code usage. It’s not wise to let such a savvy audience down, but enhancing your offering with new technology is always a good move.

References

Comscore

2d.code.

Econsultancy

Gizmodo

Mobile Marketer

International Telecommunication Union

Mashable

 

There is a lot to be learned from watching The Apprentice, particularly for improving your sales skills and tactics in Dubai. The contestants are high flyers in their fields pitting themselves against each other to win the prize of £250,000 investment in a new venture.

Now these individuals own their businesses, run financial departments, are risk managers for blue chip companies, and yet…

When it comes to the sales tasks, the failure rate is incredibly high and makes for riveting viewing.

So why do they give TV ratings gold with their poor sales tactics? Well, the majority of mistakes can be put down to these five points.

1 – They Panic

The greatest mistake anyone can make when approaching a prospect is to panic. You should be prepared, and before you go anywhere near the prospect, you need to know exactly what you are selling and why that person would want to buy it off you. You need to have practice runs with your sales team so they have a memorised the script to the point where they can talk the benefits of a product naturally.

2 – Resorting to the Boiler Room

boiler room

Would boiler room tactics work on you?

The Apprentice is a high-pressure sales environment and the temptation is to resort to Boiler Room Tactics; which is never a good idea. Making a prospect feel uncomfortable and pressured is a major turn off. Boiler room tactics have a justifiably bad reputation and if you find yourself, or see a member of the sales team, starting to use these tactics, you know the sale is already lost.

3 – Poor Preparation

Because The Apprentice contestants have less than a day to design a product and put it to market, they often don’t prepare adequately and are selling a product they know very little about. One of the most stunning cases of this was when the Series 7 teams were asked to create a concept magazine. Without finding out the current state of the magazine market, the teams created a lads mag and a magazine aimed at the over 60 market. One was highly offensive and the other condescending. When they tried to sell the magazines to publishers, the response was cringe worthy. In the real world, your sales team often has no input into product creation, but you can make sure they know everything about it before they hit the streets.

4 – No Clear Leader

Without a designated leader, your Dubai sales team will fail because they do not know what they are supposed to be doing and start making it up as they go along. There is only one person who disproves this theory in any series of The Apprentice UK, the Irish salesman, Jim Eastwood. Because he is a natural, he can sell just about anything to anyone. However, born salespeople like him are few and far between, and so a designated leader will help steer your sales team to success.

5 – Bad local knowledge

One of the best examples of failed tasks on The Apprentice is the lack of local knowledge. Not knowing where the best place to sell your product means your sales team can work their socks off without making a single sale. If you are launching a new range of frozen yoghurt, which end of the Mall of the Emirates is going to be a prime spot? Or should you be down on the Walk in JBR? Find the sweet spot so your sales team in Dubai can hit their targets.

If you don’t have access to the latest series of The Apprentice, search for ‘The Apprentice UK’ on YouTube.com where you’ll find the best clips from previous series.

 

There is a great debate surrounding over the validity of NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, but the major question for your sales team in Dubai is: can NLP benefit us in a sales situation?

You may not have heard of NLP, but only if you are new to the sales arena, because whether you are a saleswoman in Dubai or a super sales guy in New York, NLP is part of the sales toolkit.

yoda

Can't decide ? Let Yoda persuade you....

Some people believe that is a form of the Jedi Mind Tricks and find it laughable, however, it does well to remember that NLP started life as a therapeutic system to help people overcome problems in their life. The methods used to help people can be used positively to help sales people listen to their customers in a much more productive way. Good practice NLP techniques are also an excellent way to learn how to better communicate how your products will really benefit your customers.

One of the major demands on sales people is to try and persuade the prospective customer that their product is better than the competition’s product. In fact, they have to go one step further and convince the prospect that not only is the product better, it is so good that the customer willingly takes out their wallet and buys it from them.

To do this you have to be persuasive. Some people are naturally good at it and have probably been wrapping the world around their fingers since toddlerhood. Since not everyone has this innate skill, it is fortunate that one aspect of NLP does address this. It is called language patterns and helps you learn how to create a sentence that will direct people’s attention in the direction you want to go: your product!

According to bestselling author, Rintu Basu, there are tried and tested ways to use this technique. An example Basu uses during an interview on Your Charisma Coach, is the sentence: “The issue isn’t x, it is y”. It’s simple way of moving the conversation in the direction you want it to be going in.

Some people feel this conversation management technique intriguing, and at the other extreme there are some who think it is down-right immoral. Now, as a Dubai advertising executive or marketing junior, you are of course trying to get a person to buy your product or service over your competition’s product or service. This is not quite the same as trying to make that person do something they aren’t already thinking of doing.

Because there is a lot of misinformation on the internet about NLP, it is one area where a training course is really beneficial. For a professionally organised, systematic approach that will really give your sales team a boost next time they go to see a potential new client or customer, visit the Institute of Sales and Marketing website for details of their latest courses in Dubai on Professional Selling Skills. You can learn about how NLP can turn you into a more professional questioner, listener and communicator. A soon to be launched course is an NLP sales two day workshop which gives sales professionals a chance to really practice their NLP  sales skills in a safe environment before using them to create rewarding customer relationships.

 

Pinterest has been around for less than two years, yet it has become the fastest website in history to break 10million unique visitors. And because the majority of users are women, for sales and marketing teams in Dubai it provides an ideal opportunity to reach out to their target audience in a fresh way.

For a website that is still in an open beta stage, the phenomenal 11 million total visits per week in December 2011, clearly shows why this zero to hero site grabbed the best startup of 2011 by TechCrunch (one of the world’s foremost technology news and analysis websites).

The speed at which Pinterest has become so popular is due, in part to the relaxed attitude to money taken by the founders of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp. The aim is to create a popular platform before considering how to monetize it. And the venture capital companies that have so far invested $37m in Pinterest, seem willing to wait as well.

One of the main investors is Bessemer Venture Partners. Jeremy Levine, of Bessemer, said recently that they had been looking for “a user-generated content media property around products” for over six years and when they came across Pinterest in 2011, it hit a cord with them immediately.

So at what point does this free website make the kind of money that attracts millions of investment? Well look to Facebook and Google for the answer. Both sites provide huge amounts of free content, and are able to heavily monetize a small percentage of that content.

Pinterest, Levine says, is not at the stage of thinking about monetizing it, but when the moment comes, be sure that it will do so very profitably indeed.

So, you may be thinking, how does my company in Dubai use Pinterest from a marketing point of view? Well the most common way used as the moment is the competition format.

cool romance pinterest

Get you nails on Orly's goodie bag!

One such competition is being run by the nail polish brand Orly. The prize is a swag bag of Orly products, and to enter people have to create a Pinterest board titled ‘My Cool Romance’. By asking people to enter on Pinterest, Orly are just one of hundreds of companies wholeheartedly embracing the zeitgeist.

Copyright issues still dog the site as some people don’t know whether what they are allowed to pin other people’s work to the site. However, Pinterest get around this problem by working with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, an act designed to protect the intellectual property rights of individuals. They also have an etiquette that asks users to credit their sources. Which in the case of companies running competitions works very much in their favour.

Because it is populated primarily by women, (97% of Pinterest’s Facebook fans are women), it provides an ideal platform for companies to talk to a female audience in an environment they have self-advocated. Get your offering right and it will become an interesting component of the fast moving social media marketing landscape.

There is no doubt that, this year, Pinterest is the next big thing. Will it continue to hold its position as one of the top ten social media vehicles, or will it go the route of MySpace? Whatever the answer, at this time the question for your marketing department in Dubai is not when should we engage, but rather how quickly can we engage?

 

Sources:

http://www.sirenasparklestar.com/2012/03/orly-launches-pinterest-contest-today.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinterest

http://www.fastcompany.com/1816870/bessemer-ventures-why-we-invested-in-pinterest

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/shortcuts/2012/feb/27/pinterest-a-man-free-zone

Despite local differences in etiquette, it doesn’t matter if  you want to improve your sales skills in Dubai, London, or Singapore there are four main elements that will improve your sales technique.

1. Be the Adult in the Room

The successful salesperson knows that when they sit down to talk to a client about a product or service, they are the expert in the room on that product or service.

Your customer may have researched you and called you into a meeting, they may know a lot about the different kinds of products available in your industry, but essentially it is you, the company salesperson who knows most about your company’s offering. And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be in the meeting in the first place.

By understanding that you are the most knowledgeable person on your service, you can talk with confidence and be able to show why it’s the right fit for the customer.

2. You are there to sell a product, not make a friend

Getting too close and personal with people in business is not what makes a great salesperson. That doesn’t mean you are have to be cold and impersonal, it means you have to remember the difference between making a friend and making a sale.

3. Ditch the Ego

Johnny Bravo

An over-sized ego could land you in hot water!

Too much bravado, over-confidence or excessive ostentation from you will be off-putting to potential customers. When you walk into a meeting there will be plenty of egos in there already, you don’t need to add yours to the mix. By turning down the volume on you the salesperson, you allow your product or service to get a greater slice of the attention, so it becomes the star of the show.

That doesn’t mean you forget the first point of being the adult in the room: you know your product and you know how it will benefit the customer.

4. Question, then Listen and Watch

One of the big mistakes a salesperson can make is to do all the talking. Firstly, many people think they’ve told you everything about themselves or their business, but every successful salesperson knows that very often the customer hasn’t told the whole story. By asking questions you learn a lot more about what the company needs from your product.

You may think that you have a good idea of how the company can use your products, but by asking the right questions and listening to their answers, by the end of the conversation you will learn what they really need.

Not only does listening to what people say, and watching their body language, give you a better understanding of how you can help that company with your services, it also shows that you have a real interest in their business. That interest will earn you, the salesperson, more respect from the room, and as a consequence you’ve just added a level of respect for your product.

To learn more about how you can really improve your sales technique, the Institute of Sales and Marketing offer professional level courses for successful sales skills in Dubai. Find out more and book a place today https://www.ismdubai.com/

 

 

Sources:

https://www.ismdubai.com

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/06/the_seven_personality_traits_o.html

As a Dubai marketing team do you want your customers and clients to Like you, or to +1 you?

google plus one

Google plus one..are you on the list?

Well everyone likes a Like and up until six months ago, nobody had seen the +1 button on websites. Even as this little button slowly began appearing, nobody really took much notice. But when the world’s biggest search engine dives headfirst into social media, best take a step back and re-evaluate your position.

Until Google entered the social media landscape in June 2011, there were five social media vehicles for companies to use to increase search engine optimisation. These were Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogs.

There are hundreds of other different vehicles that can be used to increase your Dubai business profile in social media circles, yet only recently have businesses really taken Google+ seriously.

But that is now changing. Not because it is necessarily where your customers will hang out. More so because Google wants to make Google+ successful and is giving its use higher rankings in searches. And it is this particular side of Google+ that makes it a necessary component of your company’s social media strategy.

If Google is willing to place greater emphasis on those who are using 1+ button on their sites, it is the smart marketer in Dubai that gets her company profile up and running as soon as possible. We all know Google changes its search engine algorithm constantly, but if they want to push Google+, then it could well be that little button will weight your company more favourably in searches.

At the moment there aren’t a huge amount of people on Google+ who would be considered natural customers, but as nobody is sure how Google+ will progress, far better to have some presence now, rather than joining the party later.

Facebook is a different beast entirely to Google+ and when you are looking at how best to improve the social media marketing for your business, including both is a better bet than choosing one over the other.

Branding of Facebook pages has become necessary to the extent that some businesses are actually ditching their traditional websites and concentrating on what is termed F-Commerce, Facebook Commerce.

The reason behind this shift is the same as the reason markets and malls exist. That is, be where your customers can easily find you. If all your customers are on Facebook, why make them go off site to discover what you can offer them.

limahl

Do you "love plus one?"

Facebook is more than just a light site (sorry Google+ but so far so true) for professionals and business people to play around in. Facebook is a global economic, social, and political force. According to Facebook’s most recent figures, it adds an estimated €15.3 billion to the European economy. There is a panel discussion on the Economic Impact of Revolutions in the Middle East, which has its events page on Facebook. And just about everyone on the planet keeps up with friends and family through their personal profiles.

It’ll be a long time before Google+ comes anywhere close to the popularity of Facebook. At the moment it has a problem with people and companies not being entirely sure what it does and what it will become.

But while Google+ goes through its identity crisis, give your Dubai business a search engine boost by creating a profile and putting  +1 on every page of your website.

Sources:

Facebook Newsroom

http://newsroom.fb.com/

Social Commerce Today

http://socialcommercetoday.com/uk-pub-chain-ditches-web-for-facebook-traffic-up-2000-percent/

Google Search Engine

http://www.google.ae  or http://www.google.com

Star gazing

Want to see stars in Dubai? Download a star gazing app !

Apps are not just profile raisers, they can increase sales when you consider them part of your marketing mix in Dubai.

If you’ve visited the Apple website recently you can’t fail to have noticed their 25 Billion App download Countdown. From the ever-popular Angry Birds to the incredibly useful Dubai Travel Guide, there truly is an app for everything.

Which is why every company, regardless of whether they are a SME or international corporation should be considering the development of an app as a marketing tool for their business.

Undeniably it can be expensive to develop apps for businesses, not only because of the time involved, but also because of the different software packages required to publish on different platforms. However, since the skill sets of graphic designers, programmers and software developers have improved dramatically over the last four years, the costs have come down somewhat.

In 2010, an American company, Miss Cayce’s Christmas Store, spent $20,000 on creating an app that gave Christmas decorating tips. The owners of the store, based in Texas, viewed this cost as part of their marketing budget and were very pleased with the results: “We have gained (customers) and have the potential to gain more.” They said in an interview with Small Business Computing.

And this is what lies at the heart of developing a company app: it is a marketing tool that can gain you more customers and re-engage old customers who may have forgotten about your business and what it can do for them.

Although the costs have come down, there are app development companies offering app development for as little as $2,000 now, you have to ensure that you know what you want from the outset. Only by having a clear idea at the beginning can you keep a lid on the costs of developing your company’s app.

Another consideration is your target market. Despite the fact that very loose estimates put Blackberry apps at around 30,000, a company who sells high-end business software in Dubai, will need an app that can be used by Blackberry users as well as iPhone users. An app that isn’t available on Blackberry is going to miss a chunk of your potential customer base.

And don’t be seduced by the thought of making money out of selling the app. Only rare games such as Angry Birds bring in the big bucks and they required a huge investment of over $1m to get the return you see today.

Think of developing your app in the same way as the owners of Miss Cayce’s Christmas Store did. By providing a really neat service showing their customers how to decorate a Christmas tree they provided a fun and useful app.

An app that is downloaded and then languishes on the home screen without ever being used is a waste of money. Consider your business and your customers, what is going to be a big benefit for them and for you?

* In December 2011, Apple announced there were over 500,000 apps available to download. It is impossible to get exact number of apps available on the other major platforms such as Microsoft, Blackberry and Android, however approximate estimates put them as follows:

Apple – 500,000

Android – 200,000

Windows – 40,000

Blackberry – 30,000

Sources:

Small Business Computing – http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/emarketing/article.php/3930736/How-Apps-Can-Help-Market-Your-Business-Increase-Sales.htm

It stands to reason that a market research project for a cosmetics company in Dubai should target people who are based in Dubai. However, finding the correct people is key to a successful research campaign.

Fortunately a city the size of Dubai has what is called the ‘accessible population’, a term reflecting the high number of people living and working in an urban environment.

There are a myriad of ways to talk to people and get them to participate in your market research project. Firstly, though, it is important to create a precise list of the points you want to be answered. By keeping the focus at this initial stage, it makes it far easier to know the type of person you need to ensure your market research is productive.

It is also necessary, at the beginning of a new brief, to outline the budget constraints on the project. It is ineffective to hire expensive equipment for the rather useful computer assisted personal interviewing (CAPI), if there is nothing left in the pot to pay researchers to go out into the street with the computers.

Now armed with a budget and a firm idea of what you, or your client, specifically want clarifying from the market research, you can identify the types of people required to achieve optimum conclusions and recommendations.

The people you need to talk to will depend entirely on the product or services being researched. If we take the example of a market research project for a cosmetics company based in the centre of Dubai, historical data into this industry will give some basic lines along which to find the target respondents.

lip gloss

Wasabi lip balm anyone? Is this going to be a bestseller in Dubai? Pretty nifty if you like sushi...

Finding your participants will depend on the initial questions the company requires answering. So if our cosmetics company is developing a new flavoured lip-gloss, it may want to know what flavours are the most popular and which are the most unpopular. Choose the wrong range of flavours and the lip-gloss will fail in the stores.

In this instance the target market is going to be young women and teenage girls. And the likely places the market researchers will find their target participants are hubs of activity such as:- the Mall of the Emirates; Safa park; the beach at the weekend; university campuses ; the business district during the week or the eternal favourite of market researchers- the supermarket.

Successful market research does give an organisation a highly competitive edge. It can change the advertising approach; it also can lead to the development of products and services more finely tuned to what customers actually want. Far better to find out what consumers like and don’t like at the beginning of product development, rather than after huge amounts of money and resources have been ploughed into it.

But it is not always obvious which methodologies are going to be most suitable for each campaign, which is why The Marketing Research and Intelligence course, from the Institute of Sales and Marketing, Dubai, gives your business the tools to make the best market research decisions for your company. More information on these marketing courses can be found here: https://www.ismdubai.com/courses/market-research/index.php

Whether you are a Dubai based company selling a local service or products worldwide, you will be using a website either to sell directly or use an online brochure. Which means you’ll need a digital copywriter alongside your web design team.

As the world of business turns on the Internet these days, you cannot afford to place your trust in a traditional copywriter with no experience of working in the digital environment. Unless you are a marketing company willing to teach someone on the job, there are too many essential skills required in this medium to leave it to a newbie.

If you are using the services of a large Dubai marketing agency, it’s highly likely that you’ll be working with a skilled digital copywriter – but it is always good to ask anyway, just in case. However, for smaller companies without a large marketing budget, hiring a freelance copywriter to work alongside your web design company is common practice and very economical. But ensure beforehand they do have the relevant digital background.

Writing for the web does need some of the skills used offline, but there are a raft of skills and little tricks of the trade, that only a digital copywriter will be aware of. The most basic of these are:

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) & Keywords

SEO is the buzz word for getting your website seen on the first page of sites such as Google and Yahoo. But not many people really understand what it actually means. A good digital copywriter will know. They will understand where keywords are best located on your website. They will write a great title tag, including the keywords for each individual page on your site.

Provide a brilliant user experience

A digital copywriter has to have more than a passing interest in web site design theory and practice. There have been numerous studies done to find out how people interact with websites. The most scary statistic is that you have less than a second to hook someone’s interest. Once that is done, the writer’s job is to keep them hooked and take them on a journey through your site and, ultimately, hit the buy/download button.

Editing & Proofreading

no smoking arabic

Make sure your directives are carried out by someone competent!

Although a traditional copywriter will be a stickler for correct grammar and spelling, there are always a couple more sets of eyes along the line that will pick up on any glaring mistakes. But when a writer is loading up content directly to your website, you need someone who will not leave a trial off blivious errors.

 

Use Content Management Systems (CMS)

A content management system sounds easy enough, but there are rules and your digital copywriter should be able to whizz around it, uploading new copy to your website, fixing the odd broken link and creating tag cloud words, decide who can and cannot view the page, create META descriptions and keywords, upload images, change the font, the font size, colour the text, and lots of other design elements you don’t want an amateur mucking about with.

Cut and Past?

 Oh, and lastly, it doesn’t matter if your business is in Dubai and the digital copywriter is based abroad as everything can be done over the web. But they should definitely know not to cut and paste from Word into your CMS – your website will suffer visually and you’ll need a web designer to sort the mess out – because a copywriter who doesn’t know that, wont know how to fix it!

Bill Levell

Bill is Director of courses for ISM training and uses his industry experience to tailor our courses for the Middle East market

The buyer’s perspective is an important area for sales people wishing to enhance their sales process and sales skills to understand. Over the last 3 weeks we have been exploring some perspectives that the buyer may be considering when looking to enter into a business relationship. Here are the final key areas. If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 they are archived in the Sales discussion area.

A. Change management

The management of change, both within the agreement and in a wider sense as part of business change programs, is a key issue. Suppliers on strategic service contracts must have a positive approach to change and show evidence of their capabilities in managing it.

B. Service provision and management

  1.    Is there evidence that the supplier has recognised capabilities in relation to service management delivery?
  2.   Are the supplier’s plans for service management adequate, covering resources/capacity/workload, performance, service continuity, charging and ordering, exception reporting and feedback, incident handling, change control, etc?
  3. How will these plans relate to other parts of the supply chain?

C. Resource management

  1.  Does the supplier demonstrate a mature approach to resource risks and contingency management, e.g. in terms of established succession plans?
  2. Is there evidence that the supplier has the necessary processes to ensure that there are sufficient resources available to meet the business workload demands?
  3. Does the supplier have adequate availability plans / future utilisation profiles to demonstrate that key resources can be made available to meet customer service needs?

D. Capacity planning and management

Has the supplier formulated a capacity plan at the appropriate level of detail, taking into account workload predictions, upgrades, and predicted changes?

E. Business continuity and contingency plans

Are the supplier’s plans for contingency and business continuity adequate and appropriate?

F. Strategic management

Does the supplier demonstrate a clear business strategy and vision of the future?Can the supplier’s strategy be progressed alongside the buyer’s strategy, to mutual benefit?

F. Risk management and risk transfer

For some contracts, the supplier’s ability and willingness to take on risk is a central concern. In such cases, evaluation should probe their understanding of and attitude towards the risks involved.

G. Supply chain management

Does the supplier’s proposal demonstrate how subcontractors and/or consortium members will be organised and managed?

H. Benefits management and delivery

The supplier should have a balanced approach to benefits, delivering those required and linking them with those they seek for themselves.

I. Relationship management

Is the supplier committed to communication and the principle of an open working relationship built on trust? How can they demonstrate this?

This concludes the series on the buyer’s perspective. In a future blog post we will be looking at the other side of the coin the seller’s perspective.


 

flamingo dubai

Birds of a feather #flock together.

Twitter has become one of the cornerstones of social media and, whether you live in downtown  Dubai or a farmstead in the Australian outback, you can talk to the world with a tap on the return key.

Since it’s birth in March 2006 (created by Jack Dorsey a software architecture named on of the top 35 innovators in the world by MIT’s Technology Review in 2008), Twitter has gone from zero to 300 million users in 2011.

So why so popular? Well, people like being sociable, and in the digital world so many people find themselves working in, taking out five minutes every hour or so makes you feel connected to the greater world.

And it’s turning out to be a great tool for businesses to talk directly to their customers. But you have to step lightly into this arena as a business, because one wrong, misdirected tweet can be a reputation spoiler.

For example, Habitat was left with a large dollop of egg on it’s face when it tried to piggy back the Iran elections with a dubious money saving offer tweet. The backlash was instant – Twitter leaves companies no place to hide. Even if you delete your tweet, someone, somewhere has already seen it and passed it on.

Now, this instantaneous passing on of information is awful if the message is wrong, however most companies believe that the re-tweeting of their message is the ultimate aim of being on Twitter. But that’s only a part of the story.

Twitter for business is a different game to personal tweeting. If you run a Dubai based business that is primarily a local service, getting re-tweeted by a guy in the USA to 30,000 followers will only be beneficial if some of his followers are based in Dubai.

Thinking local will really help when you start out on Twitter. Also, don’t just use twitter to talk only about your company, and what your company can do for others. Unless of course you are offering a free meal on a Thursday night, which may well get some interest going, there’s a fine balancing act to achieve.

Hash tags (#) are a wonderful way of localising your tweets. If you are in a particular street and something interesting is happening use a hash tag i.e.: guy juggling chainsaws on #alwasl #dubai! Which when accompanied by a picture will most likely get people looking, and maybe re-tweeting.

As a business you need to create a template for using Twitter. This way, whoever is in charge of the Twitter feed at any time keeps to a pre-set standard. Having a strong strategy before your very first tweet will enable you to keep on track and (hopefully) not commit a Habitat scale faux pas.

You also need to ensure that you are tweeting at a time when people are on twitter. Every industry will have it’s own optimum times, but as a general rule just after people have got to their desks, lunchtime and just before clocking off are good for the working day. You will find a natural rhythm over time and should test and test and test to see which Twitter times work best to reach your Dubai based customers and clients.

So here are few guidelines:

Don’t just tweet about your products.

  • Do talk about the wider business you’re in.
  • Be social, say hi to new followers.
  • Follow back those who choose to follow you – it’s good manners.
  • Re-tweet interesting and funny tweets you come across – but watch/listen/read all the way through just in case there is something highly offensive right at the end.
  • Use hash tags ‘#’ to localise your messages.
  • Tweet about your blog/new products/great service lightly.
  • Always thank people for re-tweeting your messages.

 

References:

 

@LinkedInQueen http://www.socialmediadelivered.com/

@Danzarella http:// http://danzarrella.com/

In part 2 of  the Buyer’s Perspective , Bill looks at some more key areas that a buyer may raise questions about – from whether your company aims are aligned to theirs to whether you  are able to establish the quality of your product. As a salesperson it is critical to understand their perspective before offering solutions.

4. Shared strategic aims

It is important to identify the supplier’s core business area(s), and whether the buyer’s requirement coincides with it. This will affect how important the contract would be to the supplier if they were to be successful. Consider the organisation’s strategic aims and those of the supplier, how they fit together and the areas where work is required to reconcile them.

Buyer's persperctive

Bill trains by raising questions and challenging you to find solutions through collaboration and simulated exercises

5. Culture

The compatibility between the business cultures of the customer and the supplier will be a key factor in determining the strength of the relationship and therefore the achievement of shared strategic aims.

6. Organisation and management

How does the supplier manage its own business? What tools does it use for quality management, financial management, performance management, contract management, risk management, change management etc?

7. Quality management

Does the supplier have a suitable quality management system and appropriate quality records? Does the organisation have a suitable quality policy and effective quality organisation? Is the supplier’s quality organisation and quality management system of a suitable standard, with demonstrable evidence of continuous service quality improvements in line with customer expectations?

8. Project and programme management

Can the supplier demonstrate experience and expertise in Project Management and/or Programme Management? How will the supplier interface with the project’s programme and project management procedures?

9. Proposed supplier organisation and project staffing

When the supplier’s capability to meet the buyer’s requirements has been established it will then be necessary to consider the organisation and resources the supplier intends to use to manage their responsibilities under any contract that may be awarded. Does the organisational structure of the supplier (or the supply chain they are proposing) enable them to meet the requirement, fulfil expectations of quality, and build a strong working relationship?

10.Technical understanding

Does the supplier’s proposal demonstrate full understanding of the requirement in all respects, or at least to the level you would expect pre-contract award? Does the supplier demonstrate full technical understanding of their own proposed solution?

11. Proposed management processes

Does the supplier’s proposal demonstrate their management expertise in processes relevant to the buyer’s requirements? Are the support systems that are in place adequate for the proposed arrangement? Does the supplier’s proposal have a suitable process for controlling changes in requirements?

The final key areas will be discussed next week in this comprehensive series on the Buyer’s perspective. Of course as Bill pointed out in Part 1 not all of these will be applicable during a given sales process , however they are food for thought along the journey to becoming a successful consultative seller.

Stop sign

Stop and think about who is writing your copy!

Look back ten years ago in Dubai, and indeed across the world, and the role of a digital copywriter barely existed. Commercial use of the Internet was in its infancy and most companies employed their traditional copywriters with little consideration of how the new medium would change their role.

Today, however, there is a distinct line to be drawn between a traditional print copywriter and a digital copywriter. Obviously, there are cross over skills: such as the ability to write clear, concise, engaging copy. But without a deep understanding of the mechanics of writing for the web, the copy will fail to attract attention and so your business will fail to convert visitors into customers.

Whether your company is in Dubai, New York or Beijing, the skills you need from a digital copywriter will be the same. Here are the top five:

1.     Keywords and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Despite the global reach of the internet, you need to talk to you potential client and customer base locally, so your copywriter needs to know how to create content for your website that includes keywords that search engines will pick up. For example, when a person in downtown Dubai searches for a Dubai locksmith, you need those two words on your website. Very importantly, a good digital copywriter will be able to include keywords in a way that doesn’t make the copy read like complete gibberish!

2.     Call to Action As website design has become increasingly sophisticated, so have the methods used to attract the attention of visitors to websites. Without an effective call to action button on a web page, a potential customer will not understand how to navigate and will go to another site. Now while a good designer will already know where on the page to place the call to action buttons, it is the job of the digital copywriter to choose from the myriad of tried and test phrases to appeal directly to your target audience.

3.     Site Map Now, this is one that many traditional copywriters may not even be aware exists. The Site Map is the designers crumb trail to how a website is constructed. The digital copywriter also needs to know how a site map works to create the content in a cohesive fashion.

4.     Content Strategy This goes hand-in-hand with the Site Map. Without a strong understanding of how a visitor is guided through the website, a digital copywriter cannot construct an effective content strategy that encourages visitors to the site to get to the ‘buy’, ‘download’, ‘sign-up’ page. And once they’ve been drawn to those pages, good copy will put them in the mood to take action.

 5.     Schedules and Updates  Once your website has been created it cannot stay exactly the same forever. Without new content, visitors to your website will dwindle and it will slowly disappear from the search engine radar. Keeping on top of your content means your site stays fresh not only for seo but, and this is often forgotten in the race to be number one on Google, for your customers and clients. Fresh and interesting content will not only retain your old customers, it’ll attract new ones.

 

Crazy ads dubai

No help needed in copywriting here I am sold!

A website will give you global reach but as a Dubai based company, what you need from your digital copywriter is the ability to create a brilliant content strategy that markets your products and services to your local audience.

At ISM Dubai, a course we often run in-house and cover during our selling skills course, is looking at a sale or negotiation from the buying perspective. This holistic approach needs to be understood by sales people  to  help drive their own success. In this three part blog Bill Levell will cover  buyer views comprehensively.

Buyers perspective

Bill , master of sales skills enjoying a quiet moment between activities

From the buyer’s perspective engaging with a potential supplier calls for detailed information gathering through whatever means are appropriate.

There are several key areas to explore in depth through desk research, asking questions and holding discussions to assess suppliers and their proposals in all relevant areas.
Here are some examples of these areas, not all are always essential, and there will be others which I have not listed which are industry/technology specific.

  1. Capability

Does the supplier’s staff have the skills and experience, including specialised technical knowledge that they will need to meet the requirement?

  1. Experience and track record

Past experience should be examined in sufficient detail to give confidence that the supplier has the right ability. This may include visits to customers of the supplier or to the supplier’s premises. The principal objective is to assess how much of the supplier’s experience is relevant to the buyer’s requirements and how they can back up their responses with evidence that they have provided similar solutions before. Questions like:

  1. Has the supplier fulfilled requirements of a similar type, scale and/or complexity before? If they have, was their performance satisfactory?
  2. What problems arose, and how will they be avoided on this contract?
  3. How well does the supplier’s experience and track record back up their proposal?
  4. What evidence is there of the supplier adding value by adopting proactive approaches, making improvements, building strong working relationships and so on?
  5. Can the supplier demonstrate a spirit of co-operation in their past or present customer relationships?
  6. What is the supplier’s track record on team-working, relationship management and/or partnering? What evidence can be sought supporting their proposals on working together?

3. Capacity

It is important to validate the totality of the declared resource skills against overall supplier resources.
If the supplier has high reliance on one major customer, this may present a risk to the project. This does not necessarily mean that the supplier must be rejected out of hand, but the risk should be analysed, considered and managed like other project risks. Questions like:

  1. Does the supplier have adequate capacity and resource for the requirement, both now and in the future?
  2.  How many experienced staff does the supplier have working in relevant areas?
  3. What other contracts does the supplier currently have running that could affect capacity?
  4. What other contracts is the supplier bidding for? If they won them, would this affect capacity available for this requirement?
  5. Does the supplier give sufficient consideration to ensure that there is sufficient flexibility to adapt to changing business needs?
  6. Can the supplier demonstrate that it has the necessary resource forecasting experience and perhaps models for capacity planning purposes?
  7. Is there evidence that SLA requirements are used to define availability plans and targets?
  8. Does the supplier monitor actual performance against availability targets?
  9. Does the supplier have adequate methods and procedures for monitoring service capacity and tuning systems performance?

 

The next two parts to this comprehensive look at the Buyer’s perspective will be published in the next fortnight and if you have any thoughts on what else should be included please let us know.

 

 

Presentation skills are always difficult to master, they take practice. One tip is to always remember that the audience is your central focus; they are giving up valuable time so you can communicate important information. You may have a well-conceived idea of what you are verbally saying, but do you know what you are saying non-verbally? We all want an engaged audience, whether it is an audience of one or one hundred, so it is vital that you are quickly able to follow the non-verbal clues they give you and adapt your own body language to establish rapport and  engage them.

Micro-expressions, can you read them or do you need an emoticon?

One aspect that helps us to be better communicators is mastering the non-verbal clues that we are both giving and receiving. Non-verbal communication includes gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, posture, body movements, touch, space, environmental contexts, physiologic responses (e.g. reddening) and voice tone; inflection or pace . The ability to use these signs to help interpret the flow of a conversation can dramatically improve communication and understanding. When your non-verbal cues are aligned to your verbal message then communication is clearer, more open and also seen as more trustworthy- essential to building a strong business rapport. When you become aware and adept at controlling your own emotions you are able to focus on reading the signs in others. Look for inconsistencies between non-verbal and verbal communications and groupings of non-verbal clues which are all conveying the same overall message. Remember that there will be cultural and generational differences in non-verbal clues so it is difficult to interpret an isolated event and more accurate to look at a group of signals.

Practicing for example some cues that denote confidence seems like a good idea, using strong purposeful gestures, speaking slower with no more than a moderate voice and engaging eye contact with a smile. Even  if we master this, however, we might still not be in control of all of our body language. Observation of people helps, start looking around restaurants/ public spaces and interpreting relationships without hearing words. Chances are you will be able to identify defensive postures, lying, disengagement and aggressiveness as well as a myriad of other non-verbal pointers.

Eye contact is used to signal many different intentions and many of us will already know that looking up and to the left is done when recalling a memory and looking up and to the right denotes using your imagination (or possibly lying!). It is again important to establish the normal for each individual by asking base line questions and paying attention to the rest of the non-verbal clues.  Moving the feet for example ( check under the table ), over or under emphasis of voice as  well as keeping the limbs closer to the body would reinforce a sense someone is lying when appearing in a cluster of behavioural responses. Even the humble knee can give a lot away, watch where it is pointing to find out their subconscious desire, towards the door and away from your business transaction? Of course, it could just be comfort! When we recognise body language we are able to change ours to begin to dictate or steer events towards more successful conclusions. There are few people who do not respond to changes in body language, a smile from you will usually elicit one. Managing your emotions will help to shape/ manage your body language , so always pause and regroup when you are finding it difficult to keep your emotions in check otherwise you will quickly lose rapport with another.

Many of the traditional roles of Human Resources are becoming automated or ‘self-serviced ‘and as this happens many HR managers in Dubai are seeing a shift in their roles from administrative to a more strategic one. Successful companies recognise that HR professionals have a very relevant role to play in today’s knowledge economy as stewards of a business’s most important asset- their human potential. The best HR talent in the region will (if they already aren’t) be positioning themselves as talent evaluators/analysers, performance coaches and linking their departments firmly to organisational strategy. Challenges in today’s fast paced market mean that companies have to innovate and respond quickly to change in order to be sustainable. Building employee competence, to achieve organisational objectives is a mainstay of competitive advantage and HR has a primary role in championing the fulfilment of a company’s human assets.

No longer reactive to staff issues they must proactively make sure they understand the links between employee motivation and organisational performance. A key factor in employee motivation is development of talent through informal and formal training, providing opportunities for cross-training in other roles, challenging employees with new responsibilities and creating a culture of learning within the organisation. While ensuring that there is access and funding to  industry specific training and soft skills, 21st century imperatives in training such as building creativity and technological skills cannot be ignored. Mentoring, coaching or team teaching are possible in-house solutions.HR is also responsible for ensuring this training is followed up with opportunities to practice and that it is quantitatively evaluated for effectiveness. Although the choice of training is aligned to company strategy, employees that can select their own developmental direction embrace the opportunity to become self-managers and are  more engaged, active learners – an asset for any company.

Leadership? What is it? To help me with this question I am summarising a great report this week…so you don’t have to.

Bill Gates

Transformational leaders can cause change in individuals and social systems

Identifying the qualities that make a “great leader” and using these to appoint or promote is still a widely used approach despite the inconsistency of traits appearing across the board. Some of the traits identified consistently however include charisma, intelligence, emotional control and application to task as well as social skills and group task supportiveness. Traits like honesty and integrity are difficult to measure and later theories centred on behavioural aspects focusing on relationships and performance. McGregor’s Theory Y managers had a participative approach to leadership believing that commitment to objectives would empower a workforce to seek responsibility and be ultimately self-directing whilst the Theory X managers used an autocratic style directing and controlling passive workers who lacked self- control. The contingency model of leadership holds that there is no best way to lead and different situations will call for different styles e.g. in a routine environment the leadership may be much more directive whilst in a dynamic environment a more flexible approach is called for. The leader’s situational control is influenced by leader-member relations, task structure and the perceived amount of power the leader feels they have to direct, reward or punish. It suggests that leadership style should be directed to the area where it is most suited in a company. A relationship orientated leader would fare well for example in customer service and a task orientated leader in sales management.

Blanchard suggested that leadership styles are dependent on the developmental level of the subordinate and can be directive, coaching, supporting or delegating.Tannebaum and Schmidt’s leadership continuum recognises that leadership behaviour can vary from autocratic through persuasive and consultative to democratic. Formal organisations such an education establishments seldom are democratic and subordinates experience low participation in decision making. Again the use of the telling or autocratic style would be contingent on situation…it would be ideal in an emergency. Adair‘s action centred leadership holds that a leader has to manage three aspects: task, individual and teams. Servant leadership (e.g. religious institutions) emphasises the need to serve rather than lead, it encourages trust, collaboration, listening to followers priorities and using power in an ethical way. Leaders also have a role in following others by asking questions instead of giving answers, contributing to the work of others, helping people find collaborators so they are not the central go to person and making sure goals are common. The leaders that can chose the path of following realise that only the individual or team has the capacity to do the task and that they may not hold all the judgement or know how.

A more holistic leadership style is team leadership which builds on diversity, talent and develops colleagues… a more participative and flexible approach that lends itself to  innovation and problem solving- key in today’s changing global economy. The solo leader has become an outmoded concept and leaders that interfere, dictate, seeks to mould and need admirers may not survive long or sustain a business model. Transformational leadership has the purpose of inspiring others to strive, builds momentum, seeks perspective from others and considers that all individuals have differing needs. It asks people to put aside their own needs for group/organisational/social benefit and  is concerned with individual development and building respect for values.

If you want to read more, the paper I have summarised can be accessed from the reference hyperlink. Leadership is a much studied, hot subject and one that deserves meaningful thought in organisations. What’s your leadership style?

References

Bolden, R., Gosling, J., Maturano, A., & Dennison. (2003). A review of leadership theory and competency frameworks. Retrieved November 4th, 2011, from http://centres.exeter.ac.uk/cls/documents/mgmt_standards.pdf

We live in a world where self improvement has become an imperative. The free enterprise capitalist system was declared the winner well before the end of the 20th century. Experiments in dirigiste state planned/communist societies had finally fallen by the wayside and market economies driven by intelligent self interest stride the globe.

Self interest…………self improvement. We are besieged by any number of self help tracts designed to give us an edge as we seek to improve our personal lives or our performance in the workplace. Midst these myriad approaches the one technique which appears to yield real, measurable results is personal coaching.

Personal coaching has become big business occupying two main streams – business coaching and life coaching. Each is intended to achieve different ends and the coaches to each will have come from different backgrounds and disciplines.

Life coaching is a very personal service designed to help an individual identify particular goals and to put in place a process which will ensure their achievement. Those goals will represent a spectrum of interests covering career, finances, personal health and well being, family matters, hobbies and so on which are of concern to us all as we aim to live a purposeful life. The coach will have experience in working to this holistic view of the individual’s needs and will have been trained to discipline a person’s thinking, prioritise goals and, most importantly, identify the steps required to meet them.

Business Coaching

Some Key Business Coaching Objectives

Business coaching is in most respects more robust and focused. The business coach is less concerned with an individual’s holistic needs (though work life balance is important to success in business) and more about the individual’s performance in the job. The coach will work to agree those key objectives which, when met, will ensure superior performance. He/she is likely to have had more extensive training in planning and executing tasks and will be the more effective if he/she has had a successful business career where that experience can be employed to assist in identifying issues, analysing options for action, and executing a plan.

Both forms of coaching have been in use for two decades in the West and only recently has the practice been adopted by individuals and corporates in the UAE and GCC. There is no evidence of any cultural objection to using coaches here. Rather the absence of sufficient qualified coaches to satisfy demand has kept a rein on its more extensive application.

The distinctions between life and business coaching diminish when it is understood that the overriding purpose of any form of coaching is self improvement. Whether we are concerned with creating an holistic approach to leading our lives or determined to be a superior performer in the workplace the evidence is now clear that personal coaching is the best means of getting results.

Corporate Social responsibility or CSR has become integrated into many business models in the region. ISO26000 is the recognised international standard and the goal of CSR is for companies to accept responsibility for their public impact through supporting activities that promote community development, ethical practices, and offset environmental effects. The growth of CSR has increased with the growing ethical consumerism movement. Whilst critics may argue that some companies pay lip service to  CSR or that it detracts from the core business, other companies are finding that it creates shared value between their business and society, gaining them competitive advantage.

For CSR to succeed there has to be a link to your corporate strategy and business sector. Analysis of the positive and negative effects of your company can help to expose the most effective areas opportunities for proactively approaching and coordinating social, community and environmental responsibilities. In the UAE the Muslim practice of Zakat or private donations to those in need should be separated from a more public statement about your company CSR initiatives. Positive public reception of your company brand through your meaningful support of CSR can provide consumers with an ethical choice in a region that still has much work to do in protecting vulnerable communities.

Harmony House children supported by many Dubai children, parents, individuals and businesses

Lucy Bruce recipient of the Emirates Woman of the Year Award 2010 in the Humanitarian Category, founder of Harmony House ( Delhi) and co-founder of  Homegrown Nursery (Dubai) spoke about  CSR :-

At Homegrown Nursery we have our own charitable and community initiative called Harmony House. Harmony House is a full time community centre in Delhi which provides education, food and medical facilities for women and children living in nearby slum areas. The parents that send their children to Homegrown Nursery share our values and are increasingly conscientious about teaching their children to give back to society, which is why we have incorporated this into a curriculum which values respect and awareness for themselves, others and our planet. For each child that attends our nursery a portion of their school fee is helping to sponsor a child at Harmony House creating a perfect synergy between our philosophy and company values. There are links to Harmony House beyond the sponsorship; parents as well as the Dubai community regularly lend their professional expertise to further enriching the Harmony House community. In addition to this Homegrown Nursery supports many other charitable organisations and initiatives within the UAE.

Companies should base their core CSR initiatives on those with the greatest shared value: those which will increase their own competitive effectiveness as well as have the greatest benefit to their community. Successful companies recognise that they need a healthy society and this will in turn sustain and create additional demand for their business.

“ When a well-run business applies its vast resources, expertise, and management talent to problems that it understands and in which it has a stake, it can have a greater impact on social good than any other institution or philanthropic organization( Porter & Kramer, 2006, p.14 ). “

References

Porter, M.E., & Kramer, M.R. ( 2006, December). Strategy and Society:The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved November 3, 2011, fromwww.salesforcefoundation.org/files/HBR-CompetiveAdvAndCSR.pdf

Steve Jobs

"One more thing..." Jobs, the master marketer

Businesses that market themselves successfully will in all likelihood have a marketing plan that is adaptable to a changing business landscape.   A marketing plan will help you determine the marketing resources you will need to apply to meet your marketing and corporate objectives whether you have a small business or large company. The key purpose and focus of marketing planning is identifying and creating competitive advantage with intelligence coming from the market. It is about what you want to achieve (marketing objectives) and how you plan to get there (marketing strategy). A marketing plan can streamline the matching of resources to opportunity, enable increased coordination of efforts, develop a future market mindset within your company and help your business thrive through a combination of employing long-term strategic marketing and shorter tactical marketing.

So what do marketing plans involve?

  1. The marketing plan should be integrated with the corporate plan so that objectives cascade down into each department.
  2. A marketing audit to comprehensively review and appraise internal and external factors that affect the company’s profitability to direct the marketing strategy/objectives.
  3. The audit will lead to a concise SWOT analysis generated internally from a variety of viewpoints. This is done for each product or market segment. From the SWOT’s assumptions can be made that guide the marketing objectives you will set.
  4. Strategy should now be formulated with sub-objectives and action plans to achieve these within each individual department. The budget and resources needed to carry out these objectives should be determined.
  5. The marketing objectives are measured and reviewed to inform future planning.

Whilst this is an extremely simplistic view of a fairly complicated and lengthy process, the importance of market planning cannot be overemphasized since it will help your company survive, thrive, adapt and capitilise on emerging markets.

ISM training specializes in marketing training and will be running ‘Strategic Marketing Planning’ in Dubai, October 18th to 20th , please contact  Michelle if you wish to book a place.

In the October Issue of the Harvard Business Review magazine Zenger, Folkman and Edinger (2011) describe a path for executives to take to enhance their leadership strengths using a cross-training approach. Leadership key competencies were paired with competency companions and when these companions were addressed the strength became more distinct to the employer pushing executives closer to the tipping point they needed for promotion into a leadership role. They argue that a single extraordinary strength can elevate you from the bottom third of leaders whilst two distinct strengths will put you in the top third of candidates.

In the cross-training approach strengths should be identified and selection of strength to focus on quantitatively made. This is based on your skills, the importance of that strength to the organisation and the passion you feel for it (do you actively and happily seek knowledge in this area outside your defined job role?). A complimentary behaviour to strengthen is then chosen to work on. Their example executive’s selected personal strength was ‘inspires and motivates others’, a recognised leadership quality. From a list of competency companions which included ‘develops others’ and ‘nurtures innovation’, he chooses to work on ‘communicates powerfully and broadly’. This skill was also important to his organisation and if he successfully masters it could emphasise his strength, namely ‘to inspire and motivate others’.

Queen Rania

21st Century leaders must be inspirational

Whilst leaders should leverage their strengths it also behoves them to recognise and eliminate their weaknesses. Leaders that do not recognise their weaknesses are often dictatorial and egotistic, the type of leader that rules by authority and rank instead of knowledge, integrity,influence or charisma. Are you scrutinising your leadership skills and working on them?

“Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ — that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” –Peter F. Drucker

References

Zenger, J.H., Folkman, J.R., & Edinger, S.K. (2011, October). Making Yourself Indispensable. Harvard Business Review Magazine. Retrieved 4th October, 2011 from http://hbr.org/2011/10/making-yourself-indispensable/ar/4

There is an increasing amount of discussion about recession returning. All the media are gloomy about the continuing impact of recession on businesses.

This has an effect on businesses and their people, not only in terms of generating negative thoughts but believing them.  These negative thoughts affect the way in which businesses see their prospects of future survival.  It is vital, if you want to succeed in these conditions in any market to ensure that a positive outlook is maintained , essential marketing, sales and negotiation skills are energised and activities increased.  In times of recession it is tempting to cut sales activities which can only lead to further limitation of sales results.

Bill Levell for ISM Training

Bill mentors a delegate during an ISM Training Course

During such times customers place increasing importance on finding suppliers on whom they can rely and who provide them with valuable support.

When the going gets tough it’s not the time to withdraw but rather to become more proactive – increase marketing efforts, strengthen sales activities and sharpen negotiation skills. Even if the business potential is limited, it is essential to be even more active and more focused to ensure of being well placed to capitalise on the opportunities that will exist when recession is finally over.

Customers will be looking for ways to improve their profitability through negotiating better prices and value.  They will be spending more time in analysing the differences between competing offers, however, this will not be limited to price alone.  They will also be making comparisons of:-

  • Performance
  • Cost reductions
  • Delivery
  • Quality
  • Support
  • People and relationships
  • Financial stability

Customers/buyers are not committed to buying at the lowest price – they know that the lowest priced supplier does not have 100% of the market and they recognise that there is always price differentiation.  It is rare that the lowest priced offer secures the business.

What is more important, is for the customer to achieve the lowest cost of ownership of the product or service.  Attempting to negotiate a single variable such as price will almost certainly lead to suppliers having to concede part of their profit to the buyer.

Effective negotiation requires suppliers to thoroughly understand the value proposition of the competition compared to their own.  The implications are that it is essential to assess all of the variables on their values not just price.  Think about the factors that influence the customer’s evaluation e.g.

  • What are the costs and risk involved in changing supplier?
  • What is the long-term impact of building strategic relationships and support?
  • What will be the impact of the products and services on the the customer’s products and organisation?

When negotiating, it is in the interests of both parties to establish measurable, additional value by trading multiple variables simultaneously.  It is much more effective to avoid reacting to price reduction demands and to focus on demonstrating how to help the customer achieve their internal objectives whilst getting valuable concessions from them in return.

Market recession provides great opportunities to increase credibility and customer acceptance through demonstrating a thorough understanding of their value requirements and trading all variables effectively.

The ISM Training Dubai courses “ROI Selling Skills “and “Advanced Negotiation” provide high skill building which will contribute significantly to maintaining profitably and securing competitive advantage during recessionary times.

burj khalifa

AR 'at the top'!

On the hunt for more Augmented Reality (AR) in Dubai, I have recently come across a few more examples. The first is to be found at the tallest structure in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa.  On the 124th floor viewers can use a telescope to view a live stream of Dubai. If a location of interest within the field of view is selected then additional information will appear on a screen. At the moment this is limited to tourist attractions. Panadol , also ran an AR campaign to launch their new packaging in Mall of the Emirates (Talk Partnership).

Mapping projection is more prevalent in the region with examples of the Fanta Chase and the recent unveiling of Green Line metro in Dubai. Nabil Moutran,  the Regional Director from Ogilvy One explained that  the  reason AR hasn’t yet been strongly  picked up in this market as in other regions , is simply due to the fact that the new world of digitalisation from a marketing perspective is still being explored. He expects rapid growth to come in digital marketing as a whole. However, he emphasised that Ogilvy One, whilst constantly   looking for new technologies and methods to engage with consumers, considers the creative idea as central to brand marketing. If the idea then allows Ogilvy One to explore new tech such as AR, then it is proposed.

“We believe in innovation, but our focus remains on developing strong ideas.”

A strong and effective marketing idea is vital to the successful promotion of products or services and at the moment AR may not be the best delivery medium. Marketing ideas should be responsive to changes in the local markets and be able to adapt to local tastes and preferences.  However, if marketing firms in the region are not developing their digital marketing /AR expertise and looking towards the future then this may be a lost opportunity to become market leaders in technophilic Dubai.

Thanks to Roland for some AR spotting and Nabil Moutran from Ogilvy One ( responsible for Fanta Chase). An enthusiast at the top, Burj Khalifa.

As a non-finance manager or executive are you completely lost when it comes to understanding financial jargon? Well if you replied “Yes” then you belong to the majority according to the Harvard Business Review. It   revealed that only 38% of executives could pass a basic financial literacy test and many of them couldn’t define ‘free cash flow” (Berman & Knight, 2009).

See if you can answer these three questions they asked ..they are not as easy as they might appear and  only a mere 26% got question 2 right!

[QUIZZIN 1]

Finance may not be a large part of your role but it is very important in today’s challenging marketplace for all managers, executives and small business owners to have a firm grasp of the fundamentals. Successful managers must be able to communicate effectively with those who get things done and those controlling the financial aspects of the organisation.  To succeed as a non financial manager, knowledge of basic financial principles (balance sheet, profit/loss account and cash flow) as well as the budgeting process is critical. You have to understand that the  decisions you make in running your department or business will affect your organisation’s financial performance and you are likely to be held accountable for this. If you want to move to senior management then it is almost certain that you will need to have a working knowledge of financial management to help budgeting, increase profits through recognition of financial drivers/ loss makers and determine financial viability of projects.  It also enables you to make sense of those financial statements about your organisation’s operating costs and financial control.

The challenge is that a large number of us perceive finance as boring, irrelevant to our roles and difficult, but we all know that cash needs to be managed effectively in order to meet present and future demands . It might even help  ensure that your role will be  not become redundant due to “tighter financial controls” proposed by the accountants you perhaps walk swiftly past. Warren Buffett said ‘There are really only three kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who can’t. Which one are you?”

Could you go up against the Dragons with your financial knowledge?

References

Berman, K., & Knight, J. (2009, October). Are your people financially literate? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved September 15, 2011, from http://hbr.org/2009/10/are-your-people-financially-literate/ar/1

Larry Crowne

Are you up for going back to school?

Training is important and can potentially be life changing. Just ask Tom Hanks character Larry Crowne in the film of the same title. There are very real benefits to training:-

  • Staff learn new skills
  • Increases motivation, retention, confidence and job satisfaction
  • Staff refresh skills and keep up to date with new information
  • Can improve ‘soft skills ‘ such as leadership and communication
  • Customers benefit from better service
  • A comprehensive professional development strategy helps recruit top candidates
  • Increases efficiency, time management and productivity
  • Public courses also allow them to network and hear best practice from their own and  other sectors

As a return on investment (ROI) ongoing training has an impact on productivity and consequently bottom line. In Dubai many companies understand the value of training and their training departments work hard to present options that meet their specific needs. For a better ROI they need to source training providers that:-

  • Meet their employee and organisational needs.
  • Have courses that cover the skills required (take time to read course objectives).
  • Can customize their training and apply it to their industry.
  • Can provide the training when you need it.
  • Demonstrate good value.
  • Offer ongoing support.
  • Have a good market reputation.
  • Have quality trainers experienced in the local Gulf market.
  • Can help identify the ‘skills gap’ your employees might have. Do you know what they don’t know?

One of the major objections to training “I don’t have time” is actually indicative of the need for training. If well supported by management, training initiatives would not be the cause of employees breaking out in a rash thinking about all the work they are missing whilst on a training course. The importance of scheduling training in advance is a solution to this and most providers will have a yearly training calendar at least for their public courses and would only be too delighted to meet to discuss tailored programs.  Booking in advance can also give employees the time they need to plan/arrange/delegate while they are in the training room.   Most employees will want to engage in further training, especially if they are able to gain approval for courses they wish to attend.

Michelle Lewis-Smith the lead training adviser for ISM training recognizes this as a common objection she receives and added,

I can honestly say that getting my clients to attend their 2nd course with ISM is a matter of ‘when can I register’ rather than ‘I don’t have time’. It’s always great to see our clients progression in their career too, over the years you slowly watch their job title change from Sales Executive to Sales Manager to Sales Director to General Manager etc….. These are people that are not afraid to admit that they need a little help/guidance in their development and of course these people act on it rather than worry about it.

Now whilst that may be banging our own drum,  it is true that the individuals that engage in lifelong learning do have an outlook that can keep pace and adapt to the many changes we all experience in our workplace . The staff that know the value of investing time in training will be amongst the most innovative, motivational , able employees with strong performance records and increased company loyalty.

The big question is how to keep your business sustainable and marginalizing the impact training can provide is terminal. If you aren’t constantly developing your own or your staff’s skills you can bet that your competitors are.

Key account management (KAM) is concerned with planning and managing the relationship with the customer but this is a means to an end if you have little business development to show for it. Key account managers are not just salesmen with good negotiation skills but apply clear strategy to select, develop and maintain their most important customers in order to profit from them. They need to constantly update their own skills and have a clear idea of company strategy, operations and marketing functions in order to build lasting relationships with their key accounts. Customers now have power over their suppliers and are looking for greater partnership, anticipation of their needs and customised solutions/resources to give them competitive advantage.

Diego in Dubai

Brand Dubai rolls out the red carpet for Maradona

Even for a large company the number of key accounts should not become unmanageable (optimum 15 to 35) and the right accounts should be selected for inclusion. With high numbers of key accounts it is doubtful that you can successfully attend to them and failing to deliver can lead to them exercising their customer power and going elsewhere.

When selecting these key accounts bear in mind the following:-

  • Do your key accounts have a clear idea of your company strategy and are they aligned to it?
  • Are they leaders in their field?
  • Did you invest time and process in choosing them?
  • Did you choose them objectively? Or were they just important to particular individuals/chosen under internal or political pressure.
  • Is each department unified in the choices, were their views accounted for?
  • Did you focus on the customer – their potential, their position in their marketplace, their strategy or just on the current profit yield from the customer?
  • Did you use a criteria based approach to selection that was clear and covered customer needs/outcomes/attributes and risks?
  • Do you have a dynamic process monitoring these accounts and review their resource allocation/status if they are not performing? Are you prepared to tactfully diminish their resource allocation?
  • Are you using reliable diagnostic tools and measures of performance for your key accounts?

If you have answered yes to most of these questions then clearly you are not spending vast amounts of time managing accounts that really are not profiting your company and don’t belong in the key account category.

ISM training will be running a Key Account Management course this month please contact Michelle for details.

If team members were asked to confidentially evaluate their managers then rarely would the feedback be all  positive but possibly  more along the lines of “motivates by threatening punitive action” or “hears what they want to hear but not what I say”. In Dubai, a recognised problem is that many managers tend to do very little ‘managing’ and provide minimal direction or support for staff. They are not able to inspire better performance but do demand it. Managing is not an easy job but giving up and taking the hardened attitude of “my way or the highway” will not ultimately create a sustainable, creative, effective, cohesive and empowered team.EffectiveManagement?

As a manager you cannot rely solely on your technical skills to lead a team you also need to have good management and interpersonal communication skills. It is crucial that your team develop trust and confidence in you and you will need to invest in and update your own skill set/ expertise on a continual basis. It is as much a developmental journey for you as it for each team member you are responsible for. A high performing team will be one in which the members are ultimately self managing, where ideas are freely exchanged, leadership roles shift and peer coaching is present. In order to improve your management style you may need to work on the following areas:-

  • Effective delegation.
  • Communicating the companies’ guidelines and vision. Do staff know what the big picture is?
  • Clear communication of goals and possible strategies to achieve them.
  • Listening to feedback.
  • Analysing facts not opinion, the “what” not the “who”.
  • Managing meetings effectively.
  • Encouraging and coaching team members towards achieving their goals based on what they are doing right not through criticism of what they are doing wrong.
  • Developing the skills set of team members and setting aside enough time to do this.
  • Positively rewarding and modeling best practices.
  • Encouraging others to share their ideas in a non threatening way.
  • Motivating members to excel improve their work quality and accept responsibility.
  • Evaluating the development of yourself and team members in a positive way. Your performance management should not be superficial, restricted to generic performance appraisals .It should ideally arise from a genuine realisation of the achievements, talents, skill gaps and career aspirations of staff which have been gleaned from regular coaching and one on one discussion.
  • Cultural Intelligence.

Of course none of this comes easily; it will take time from your already busy schedule, training, practice and determination to reinforce these management behaviours but when the effective team you are working towards emerges their performance and job satisfaction will validate your management model.

Are you reaching out to your potential market en masse or do you use the more subtle, effective method of relationship marketing? Your transactional customers may not sustain your business long term and according to Pareto’s Law approximately 20% of your customers are going to be responsible for 80% of your business. So do you know who these emotively loyal customers are and how are you engaging and communicating with them? Does your business adhere strictly to the traditional marketing mix approach focusing on markets and products or are you developing a more holistic approach and developing relationships with your customers? Is there synergy between your customer service departments, quality management and marketing team and does your strategy recognise that each employee has a marketing function? Are the customers that are initially loyal to your brand about to jump ship because you are not cementing your relationship with them?

Will he let his hair grow back now Steve Jobs has retired?

It is important to know who your customers are to retain their loyalty to your brand, they are the ones that have developed trust in your brand and need individual attention. Analysing your consumer database offers insights into their needs and demographics. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is about understanding who your customers are through long term study, improving the way you communicate with them and is aimed at creating relationships that can increase profitability. Vital information about customers such as frequency, recency, type and amount of purchase will help you develop a picture of their Life Time Value (LTV).  You can segment your markets and target them more effectively communicating with them about products they truly might be interested in, anticipate their needs and track their response to your personalized approach and promotions. The data from CRM programs should feed back to management to drive the marketing strategy forward and assess the most effective and convenient communication channel for your different customers whether it be point of sale or internet based. Indeed for this valued set of customers you should be acutely aware of how they prefer to be communicated to.

However, there is no point in having lots of data if you are not using it thoughtfully and allocating resources to maximize the return from your 20% of most profitable emotivally loyal customers.  Businesses can use free (for basic features) internet data analysers e.g. Google Analytics or invest more deeply by using services such as Omniture or Webtrends. Businesses that choose to use a paid service may already be ahead of the game since they have signaled a deeper commitment to the process of customer analytics.  CRM systems are the key to defining your customers; creating customer satisfaction; improving customer service brand loyalty; receiving their feedback; engaging them as brand ambassadors and can result in directed rather than mass marketing.

So how is brand Dubai doing these days? Well, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, set up the Dubai Media affairs office in 2009. One of its  purposes is to investigate and enhance Dubai’s image  and if recent reports are to be believed Dubai is rapidly overcoming the backlash the city saw in the wake of the debt crisis and more positive chat is appearing again . Sheikh Mohammed himself has 457,885 twitter followers and growing and it is clear that the relationship strategy for Brand Dubai has key leadership support.

ISM training will run the highly successful Marketing Masterclass public course from September 11th to 13th and also runs more focused Marketing Communications/Strategy courses both in-house and publicly.

The way we visualize our physical environment could be about to change thanks to progress made in applying augmented reality to our spaces. Augmented Reality allows information about your real environment to connect to a display interface (mobiles and eventually glasses) allowing added information (the augmented bit), multimedia, interaction and on-demand information to enhance your sensory experience of the world around you.  These enhanced AR systems can track and adjust to the users movements within their environment. It has already been around since the 90’s being used  in industries like the military, engineering, film and robotics but could it become the widespread and familiar experience to all of us?

Augmented raybans

Do you think my augmented Ray bans look OK?

Some of you may already be using geo-located AR through your mobiles overlaying information on your location to help you navigate your way around unfamiliar cities and choosing where to eat, gaming or watching sportscasts with an AR overlay but what are the prospects?

Ultimately it is envisaged that it  will change our cognitive experiences of space engaging us into it, helping  understand community, present and historical contexts allowing for greater interaction.There are some great examples of use and possible use e.g. Hoppola and Superimpose created a sensitive AR layer in Berlin bringing history back to life by recreating the Berlin Wall; the Oxford Natural History museum is working on their AR exploration of exhibits and an app may be soon available for i Phone to allow you to watch scenes from movies shot where you are located. Mass consumerism of this is not too far in the future and once a portable system has been developed combining display, tracking and hardware without any of the current issues there could be widespread application of AR. Current barriers include  getting the virtual world to map precisely with the real world (tracking) and merging seamlessly with user movements as well as creating a portable interface for the consumer that will be secure and universally operational .

So has AR arrived in Dubai yet and is there a market opportunity? I have been struggling to find examples but some Dubai residents and visitors may have seen the digital Memac Ogilvy’s Fanta Chase in Downtown Dubai earlier in 2011. Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has a new i Phone application for visitors to promote tourism, do you know anyone using it? The recent release of Augmented Reality (AR) Platform for Android smart phones from Qualcomm will allow Dubai businesses, advertising agencies, gamers and educators to build applications based on their platform. What’s clear is that  Dubai marketeers will be using AR marketing more in the future.

Here are a few well known examples of innovative AR applications from around the world.

Heineken ( Taiwan)

Lego

Rayban Virtual Mirror Webcam

Negotiation is a dynamic, complex skill and one that is difficult to master. During a  successful negotiation both parties whilst inherently in conflict with each other must reach a mutually beneficial agreement and  be broadly satisfied with the outcome (Win-Win).  Both sides should feel that a fair conclusion was reached, the agreement will be delivered as negotiated and importantly want to work with each other again. The adversarial element must be tempered if you are to reach a reasonable, successful outcome and a number of variables may have been traded. The variables (must haves, ideals, loss leaders) are at the heart of the negotiation and their importance to each party will be on a sliding scale, it is up to you to determine their priority through sound groundwork and optimize the trading. Be aware that minimizing a trade may not work in the Middle East. Indeed the first step,’ preparation ‘should have guided you towards any cultural context of discussions. If you are negotiating in an international setting your cultural intelligence, knowledge and cross-cultural skills will need to be developed.  There are several stages in negotiation which need to be followed in order for it to be successful, it is a process.

Negotiation ProcessPlanning for negotiation will pave the way for smoother communication, you will be able to predict most if not all outcomes and  you will have a good knowledge of all parties’ needs  .Negotiation cannot be rushed , you need to first establish a rapport and be able to effectively  and clearly communicate without being too jargonistic. You need to build trust with shared values, views, attitudes, experiences, and interests.

Your communication should have the right balance of empathy and yet be able to project your own ideas. Your persuasive communication skills should focus on listening more than questioning, with no perception of their position you cannot be persuasive. Make sure it is focused on helping them reach a decision; they need to explore your ideas and come to a net benefit for them. The persuasion process should mimic the stages they go through in their decision making process e.g. in exploring their concerns you should be ready to handle objections. Ultimately you need to have a commitment to act but this cannot be achieved without first exploring the stages involved in decision making. Only once agreement is reached can you move onto the final negotiation. There are many useful tactics to consider during negotiation but ultimately you should concentrate on building agreement, listening to and interpreting their language and maintain a open professional outlook that acceptably drives the negotiation to a win- win conclusion. Concessions should not be given up without extolling their benefits. Remember cost may not be the key variable you think it is after you have successfully established the true value /potential of your business partnership and ability of your product to meet their needs.

Generation X is a term used to stereotype adults in their 30’s and 40’s born in the late 60’s to early 80’s. Other terms used frequently are the lost generation; the 13th generation; the in-betweeners or just plain ‘slackers’. Whilst marketeers desperately tried to define this generation in order to be able to sell to these fervent anti-commercialists, Douglas Coupland ,  who popularised the term, denied there was one after all .He stated that the term had been co-opted as a marketing term. The term however, negatively Gen X er’s view labels, has stuck and has given birth to Gen Y, Z, Jones etc.

Generation X
Whatever your views are on stereotyping it is clear that Gen X are seen by marketers as one of today’s major consumers.
• They are seen as cynical seekers of value, their formative developmental years having developed a generational healthy scepticism.
• They trust peer reviews and third party review sites over brand messages and are tough customers.
• They use mass/social media for their own means by accumulating information to make buying decisions. They are likely to have researched the object of their desire and compared prices or reviews.
• They voice their concerns and have quiet power to influence peers.
• They are comfortable with buying online having grown up with technology.
• They like convenience and don’t want to spend all day shopping after all but instead prefer a short uncomplicated sales cycle. It gives them more time to achieve a life/work balance.
• They respect businesses that give back to communities and have a strong social/environmental conscience and value diversity.
• They have social-cultural triggers that will turn them off quickly and they will rapidly hit fast forward to the next option.
• They are not responsive to pushy salespeople or unethical marketing. They are looking for truth and authenticity; they are sceptics after all and like the sales person to be able to answer their product questions with honesty.
• They are open to trying out new ideas, they embrace new learning.
• They are quality seekers they like the small business brand, they like the corner coffee shop.
Reaching out to this generation from a marketing perspective requires listening to consumer demands and allowing them to become your brand ambassadors. You need to give them social proof and be transparent as a business since they are adept at discovering marketing fluff for what it is.
As Jeff Gordinier, the writer of “Generation X saves the world” puts it:
The generation that is doing the hard, quiet work of keeping America from sucking is the one that still gets pegged as a bunch of slackers: Generation X. Over the past twenty years, in fact, those slackers have irrevocably changed countless elements of our culture – from the way we watch movies to the way we make sense of a cracker political process to the way the whole world does business.
Whilst international brands are listening, respecting and responding to this demographic, is Dubai? Is there a Gen X in the cultural melting pot of this giant Middle Eastern consumerist economy or has this  generation truly been lost and swamped by the millennials already? Join the conversation.

space invadersMany of us work in a challenging environment and it seems that challenge begins when we walk into the office space. If we have reached the upper echelons it may be that we have our own clearly defined workspace but the vast majority are fixed in a cubicular world which mimics early psychological experiments. It’s a wonder we don’t implode, it’s amazing we are actually productive.

Edward Hall regarded by some as the great grandfather of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coined the term “proxemics”. This describes the space in which we feel comfortable in different contexts. With a large part of our lives spent at the office having space invaders  encroaching on our spatial limits can impact on our performance. With cubicle space rapidly decreasing by as much as 50% in urban areas to increase cost efficacy environmental stress can have long reaching impacts on employee health, productivity and inter-cultural relations. Overcrowding in the animal kingdom leads to aggression and territorial tension but  in the office do the polychrones inadvertently wind up the monochrones by borrowing ‘personal’ items and multitasking?

Space to think concentrate or think creatively is lacking in most office environments and whilst some are able to zone out and accept differences others can obsess on them seeking quieter spaces to perform. Personalisation of spaces, creation of physical barriers or feng shui may provide some cognitive solace against the shrinkage of personal space but ultimately we may be slaves to primal evolutionary forces. Research from Caltech shows that  the amygdaloid region of the brain may hold the key as  to why we maintain spatial distance from people, it indicates that this region is active during romantic approaches but also influences our   fear response and holds emotional memory. One subject with damage to this region had no concept of personal space.

Creation of our own ‘personal bubble’ may not translate however across inter-cultural divides. Dubai is an extremely multi-cultural work environment, in the workplace you will hear different languages and experience different smells, tastes, dress, intonations, work ethics and cultural space boundaries. The question is whether you recognise them for what they are or react with your own defences seeing intrusion as a threat.

Edward Hall wisely said : We should never denigrate any other culture but rather help people to understand the relationship between their own culture and the dominant culture. When you understand another culture or language, it does not mean that you have to lose your own culture.

“Oral delivery aims at persuasion and making the listener believe they are converted. Few persons are capable of being convinced; the majority allow themselves to be persuaded.” Goethe.

Jedi Mind trickUnless you wave your arms around and alter the tone of your voice like Obi Wan Kenobi or can control minds like Professor Xavier, it may be that you need a few tips in the art of persuasion. As with most conversations in life if you listen to your audience and understand their motivations first, then you can offer solutions and a different perspective.

We have all sat through dull presentations, slide after slide delivered with all the passion of a stuffed animal. As an audience we try in vain to signal our disinterest flicking through material, checking our messages, shifting in our chairs. We really do want to be enlightened; after all we have given up our valuable time to be there. All too often the presenter forgets that as the audience the presentation should be all about us and not about them, their accomplishments, their company or their product. Of course it is about those things but if you fail to engage and involve the audience and listen to them you might as well pack up and go home.

The skill of being able to present yourself or your company in a professional, memorable and persuasive way does not come easy to most and needs practice and refinement to achieve objectives. If you have to speak at meetings and conferences; put up a case to the board; communicate company policy; pitch to prospective customers or carry out business development responsibility then you need to be able to persuade. A persuasive presentation normally starts with a story, statistics or facts to gain our attention from the beginning, connects the content with our needs and involves us, the audience, in developing a solution. However, when developing your persuasive presentation you need to first focus on analysing the audience. Ask yourself these questions to get you started:-

  • “Why should they care?” or “What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)”
  • “What motivates the audience?”
  • “How much do they already know?”
  • “What biases might they have?”
  • “What interests do they have? Do members of the audience have conflicting interests?”

Thinking about these and embedding them into your presentation will persuade the audience you are there for them. Even Steve Jobs started somewhere, here he is persuading us to buy Mac’s in 1984 and he is still persuading us today.

If you are interested in developing your presentation skills please contact ISM Training, Dubai for further information on our public and in-house courses.

In today’s market sales professionals can no longer rely on sharp presentation skills and closing techniques. The customer is much more knowledgeable about products and has access to many other buying options thanks to the internet. Consultative selling skills focus on understanding the client’s needs and offering expert value solutions after listening and building a partnership of trust. Whilst many of the techniques of traditional selling are used, the fundamental difference is the sales person must become a consultant, problem solve through common understanding and be willing to offer the best solution even if they don’t close the sale immediately. Over time consultative selling gains customer loyalty by demonstrating integrity ensuring competitive advantage through sustainable business development.
Sam I am

Dr Seuss and Sam the pushy salesman overcoming all objections.

Bill Levell, Director of Courses at Institute of Sales & Marketing, Dubai, believes that the process of consultation and establishing a rapport where the relationship with the client is an advisory one is essential to modern business. The aims are to establish a procedure and standards for client qualification which provides a better idea of the client’s expectations, values and beliefs. Establishing shared visions and understanding the complexity of stakeholder interest within organisations during the pre-qualification process enables effective business consultation. Developing a practical knowledge of NLP (neuro-linguistic-programming) will also enhance the ability to gain support, commitment and buy-in from the stakeholders to build successful relationships.
Once the position of trusted advisor has been established it will be easier to drive projects through to agreement and completion. Since the consultant has invested in relationship building they gain broad insight into the clients business environment, critical drivers, priorities and future business initiatives and will be in a valued position to advise on these.
A consultative value driven approach with strong customer relationships may also prove to be differential during economic downturns and prove to be mutually beneficial with increased business referrals.
Is your phone ringing?

Many Dubai companies experience high employee turnover rates and cannot afford to ignore some of the basics of employee retention if they are to retain a competitive advantage. Recruitment and training of replacements is expensive and productivity from them takes time. There is also a cost issue involved with severance packages if the employee has resigned after a successful probationary period. High turnover of staff can have an impact on staff morale. Undoubtedly effective recruitment can mitigate some of the reasons your company is not retaining staff. It is easy to siphon out those who are only applying to hone their skills before moving on during interview ( if they aren’t weeded out before due to job history) by asking the right questions , but does your company continue communicating effectively with employees past a short induction course?

With a predominantly multi-cultural expatriate work force the need to effectively communicate and listen to employees becomes even more paramount. Companies that retain their employees may have the following practices:-

  • Recognition and rewarding of good performance.
  • Mentorship programmes to challenge and support employees.
  • Information sharing.
  • An understanding of change management, sharing decision making.
  • Clearly defined job roles.
  • Opportunity for professional/personal development and career progression.
  • Flexible work hours
  • An inclusive, safe, open and ethical work environment
  • Focus on good leadership and coaching attitudes.
  • Support staff with the resources they need to carry out their function.
  • Have Middle Management that provide a framework for employee success.
  • Clear knowledge of the skills, creativity and experience of staff.
  • Solicit staff feedback through focus groups, evaluation etc.
  • Conduct exit interviews to find out key reasons for employee dissatisfaction.
  • Are prepared to dismiss demotivational managers who consistently fail to motivate their teams.

Today’s employees place value on quality of life, flexibility, a challenging career and a sensible life/work balance.To avoid the hidden costs of high staff turnover companies in Dubai need to firmly address retention as part of their Strategic Planning. Philip Parker, former Chairman with TEC International, the world’s largest coaching organisation and business strategist commented:-

“It is a well worn cliché that employees are a company’s most vital asset. The force of this axiom is increasingly apparent in our knowledge driven world where enterprises are reliant on a skilled, educated workforce to sustain their competitiveness. Any Dubai company that fails to appreciate this essential asset and does not embrace a range of measures to promote the long term retention of its key people cannot expect to be effective competitors and will not be seen as employers of choice. Unless Dubai HR policies place employee retention at the top of their agenda those companies’ very ability to survive will come into question.”

Intriguing question posed by Nick Bennett in Social Media today. Dubai, never shy about new ideas is not lagging behind in its use of social media. Recent insights from Dubai School of Government reported that half of the UAE Emirati population uses Facebook and the UAE (accounting for its small size) is amongst the top ten worldwide users of Facebook. Facebook usage in the UAE stands at 2. 4 million users, 29% of the total population. Twitter penetration is not as high yet but has grown 50% in the first quarter of 2011. Active users in this same period tweeted approx. 23 million tweets. Social media usage has spiked considerably during recent and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East region. A spike was seen on twitter when President Mubarak left office on Feb 11, 2011.
Social Media marketing is definitely shaping the future in many sectors. Is your organisation connecting and listening to customers? Is your marketing strategy flexible enough to include their insights?
A good example is from Lego though it should come with a parental advisory sticker.

Connecting with clients

It’s been some months now since the launch of our new website and generally feedback has been good. Most of you have found it easier to access our training course brochures which was always an issue in the past , and there is easier access to our latest course schedule on the front page. It is now therefore high time that we created our Blog – what marketing organisation should be without one. We hope that you will enjoy the issues discussed, get involved and embrace the concept of lifelong learning.So sit down,welcome and read on…