Monthly Archives: August 2015

Cold Calling in a Foreign Language

language barrier

You Think Cold Calling is Tough? Try Doing it in a Foreign Language!

When I first stared at this job and began to grow the business across Canada, there was a huge gaping hole in my territory.  That gaping hole was the French-only speaking province of Quebec.  Two years into my position I came to the point where I couldn’t avoid it any longer.  I wanted to continue to grow my sales and I knew that market was untapped and full of opportunity.

Why did I avoid it for so long?

Because I don’t speak French! I had only ever taken basic French up until Grade 12 so I knew some of the basics but far from what I needed to know to try and conduct business.  The French knowledge that I did learn in school was pretty much useless because for some reason here in Canada, they teach you Parisian French but in Quebec they speak Quebecois French which is essentially another language.  I have met people who have moved to Quebec from France and they have told me that it took them almost 2 years to pick up the dialect.

NoIdeaWhatYoureTalkingAbout

So I did what I normally do when confronted with something I don’t like to do, tell myself, “Suck it up Princess!” and just do it!

So I came up with a plan:

1. Translate all Literature into French. I opted to do this as a sign of respect for their language and I’m glad I did because I later learned that in Quebec the government has a “Language Police” division that will fine companies who correspond with Quebec companies in English before French.

2. Write a Cold Calling Script Using Google Translate. The script I created was a general introduction which included:

  • My name, company name and my role (single sentence)
  • What my company does (single sentence)
  • Ask if I could send them information and for them to provide their contact details

3. Cold Call Using My Script in French and hope and pray that I could understand the contact details they gave me!!! If they said anything else, I was totally lost and couldn’t understand!

4. Mail or Email Literature. This was the easy part!

5. Follow-up Call – SKIPPEDYes I skipped the follow-up call because even if I could figure out how to ask the right questions, there was no way I could understand what they would say to me in response!

6. Schedule a Face-to-Face Meeting using a New Script In this script which I once again wrote with the assistance of my new best friend Google Translate, in which I:

  • Asked if they received the information I sent them. I could understand oui (yes) or non (no)- Yay me!
  • Mentioned that I will be meeting with other practitioners in their area on DAY X or DAY Y and if they would have time to meet with me. I wrote out all of the days of the week in English and French so I could have a quick reference at my side. I did happen to know my numbers in French so that helped with setting appointment times.
  • Confirmed the date and time of the meeting, hung up the phone and hoped for the best!

7. Show up for the Meeting and hope to God that I Understood Correctly!  Was I at the right place at the right time? Did I get a meeting with the decision maker? Hoping that the receptionists (who only spoke French) didn’t ask me any questions or try to initiate a conversation. Sweat, sweat, sweat!!! I tell you, a business card can go a long way when you can’t express yourself properly.  When the front desk staff would try to engage with me, all I could do was smile and say, “Parlez-vous Anglais?”. Usually that just ended with a “non” and we sat there awkwardly as I tried to keep my palms planted firm on my legs as to make sure my hands weren’t too sweaty when I went in for that handshake with my new potential client.

8. In the Meeting Hope that the Client Speaks Some English. Most of my clients in Quebec are also trained in English so as long as you put some effort in to speak French then politely ask to converse in English, they will be more than willing to try.  A lot of these conversations involved us sitting together using the Google Translate app on our cell phones in order to properly communicate! In some cases we would find one of their staff members who had an excellent command of both languages who would act as our translator.

What was The Biggest Obstacle I  had to Overcome? Pricing Objections!

For those of you who read my recent article “The Pricing Objection: What it Really Means and How to Overcome it” you will know that I always try to focus on creating value rather than focusing on price.  In this scenario, the language I would normally use to convey value was too complicated to be “dumbed down” sort to speak into basic English. So where did that leave me? Struggling with pricing objections.  All they wanted was price and when they saw that my prices were higher, we suddenly had nothing else to discuss, or rather could not carry on a conversation about anything else because of the language barrier.  Can you say awkward? 

At this point, I’d lost on price and was unable to convey value as I had always done, focusing on product quality and service.  So now what?

This is when it pays off to listen to your clients, even if you can’t fully understand them because as it turned out, there was something I could do to create value for them.

They were all asking me if we had anyone at the office who spoke French.  At the time, my company didn’t have anyone who spoke French but neither did my competitors.  So I made a call to my boss and asked him if he would be willing to hire someone who is bilingual if I get some business and he agreed.

9. Make a Deal- “If you give me 50% of your business, my company will bring on a French-speaking customer service representative.” And that did the trick. It got me into the province and from there I was able to come back and grow it into a very lucrative territory, with the help of our new bilingual customer service rep of course.

So I am sure most of you are thinking, “I will never be in this situation so it doesn’t apply to me.”, and sure you are right to some extent, however the take home message I have for all of you sales people out there is that if you want to succeed in sales:

  • Grow some balls, “Suck it up Princess” and get out there no matter how intimidated you are.
  • Always listen to your clients (even if you can’t really understand them!).
  • Be creative and think outside of the box, always striving to find solutions to your clients’ needs.

Happy sales my friends…and don’t be shy!

Cheers,

TSW

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New Driving Laws Coming into Effect in Ontario September 1st 2015

judge hammer

Attention all of you road warriors here in Ontario, Canada!

Effective September 1st, 2015 the Ontario Government will begin to enforce new legislation and stiffer penalties for existing driving laws.

Why am I writing about this?

Because for reasons unbeknownst to me, our government does not directly notify anyone with a driver’s license directly whenever they change the law.  I mean, they obviously have our current mailing address which is reflected on our driver’s license. Could this be due to the expense of sending out a mailer? Or is it a sneaky way for them to earn more revenue from penalizing individuals who are not aware of the new laws?

Regardless, let’s get to the facts! If you’re driving in Ontario, here is what you need to know:

According to the Ministry of Transportation Bulletin  issued June 2nd 2015, there will be:

  1. Increased Penalties for Distracted Driving. Fines will be increased from an average of $300 to up to $1000 in addition to 3 demerit points upon conviction. The Ontario Government estimates that by 2016 the number of fatalities from distracted driving may exceed those from drinking and driving.  Honestly, I’m surprised it hasn’t already!
  1. Require drivers to wait until pedestrians have completed crossing the road at all crosswalks before proceeding. It’s great to see that Ontario finally got on board with this because this is the only place where I’ve driven where drivers have such a blatant disregard for pedestrians! Perhaps this is why pedestrians represent almost 20% of the motor vehicle-related fatalities on our roads.
  1. Increased Penalties (fines and demerits) for drivers who “door” cyclists. Any driver who blatantly opens a door or moves their vehicle for that matter without looking should be penalized for such carelessness.
  1. Require drivers maintain a minimum of 1 metre distance when passing cyclists. This is good but all too often I see cyclists riding side-by-side, hogging entire lanes of the road! I have no patience for those people. We are supposed to share the road, not hog it regardless of whether you are on a bicycle or in a motor vehicle!
  1. Denial of driver’s license plate renewal if the driver has any outstanding Provincial Offences Act fines. I thought that this was already a law but apparently I have been misinformed!
  1. Allow a broader range of qualified medical professionals to identify and report medically unfit drivers. I’m not sure exactly what this means.  I can see (pun intended) if an optometrist may deem an individual legally blind and therefore unfit to drive.  However to what extent would this apply to other medical professionals? Could a nurse, a naturopath, a chiropractor…etc deem someone unfit to drive? Where does the government draw the line?
  1. Application of existing alcohol-impaired penalties to drug-impaired drivers. I’m not sure exactly they intend to quantify the degree of impairment for drug users since there is currently no simple roadside test synonymous to a breathalyzer. They also didn’t specify as to whether or not this refers to just illegal drugs or if it also applies to prescription drugs.  Recent statistics in Ontario show that over 45% of drivers killed in a fatal car crash had alcohol and/or drugs in their system.  What does that say for the other 55% of drivers???

For the most part, I agree with all of these new penalties because I believe it will make our roads safer.  Where I am uncertain, is where the laws seem “too broad” and open to interpretation.

Furthermore, what is quite frightening is that the Ontario Government is also considering implementing an online monetary penalty system which would replace in-court procedures for resolving disputes.  What that means is that if you get a traffic ticket, it will no longer have any written details from the issuing officer, just a penalty notice indicating the amount of money due and the number of demerits that will be applied. It also means that you will lose your right to contest the decision of the issuing officer in a court of law, therefore losing the right to a “fair process”.

How do you feel about the implementation of these new laws?

How do these laws compare to the laws in your home province or state?

I would love to hear your feedback fellow road warriors.

In the meantime, safe travels.

Cheers,

TSW

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When the Four Elements Destroy Your Road Trip Plans

four elements

Because Sometimes Mother Nature Can Be A Bitch!

Now that its summer time, we generally don’t think of how the weather could interrupt our travel plans or at least I never did.  Here in Canada and in the northern US, snowstorms would be the most likely culprit to force us to put our plans to the way side. But interestingly, the only times I have had to make serious changes to my road trip plans have been during the summer months.

In this article, I’m going to share with you some instances where Mother Nature has lashed out with vengeance and no, I’m not referring to inclement weather like snow or rain.  Below are four instances where each of the 4 elements has grinded my travel plans to an absolute halt.  You can’t make up these excuses!

1. Earth: The Sinkhole that Swallowed My Car

stuckcar

While en route in central Ontario, I parked my car on a gravel country road and just as I put it into park, I felt the car shift downwards slightly to the right.  I stepped out of my car and noticed that the passenger side wheels were a few inches deep into the gravel so I got back in my car and attempted to drive out of that spot but unfortunately, I was stuck.  As I exited my vehicle, I noticed that it was sinking and quite rapidly so I reached for my phone to call CAA and low and behold, there was no cellular reception.  Within 15 minutes, two wheels on the driver’s side were up in the air and my car was rapidly sinking.   I had no choice but to knock on a stranger’s door and ask them to use their phone.  Luckily they were home and as fate would have it, they recognized me from a store we both shopped at over 2 hours away! They informed me that CAA would take in excess of 2 hours to come out there so they offered to pull my car out with their pick-up truck and some chains.  By the time they got to my car with the pick-up truck, my car was completely on one side and in the ground up to the top of the passenger side window!!! Fortunately they were able to pull my car out and were even nice enough to rinse off all of the stones in the undercarriage and wheel wells for me before I went on my way.

2. Air: The Tornado that Almost Swept My Car Away

funnelcloud

A few years ago, I was driving through a small country town in Southwestern Ontario that had just been hit by a tornado a few days prior when the weather took a turn for the worst.  The wind, rain and hail was so intense that I couldn’t see anything so I pulled over and called my office to ask them to check if there was a tornado watch in the area.  The gal at my office informed me that there was a tornado warning for the area and that the radar map showed that one was likely occurring not too far away on my intended route.  With that information I decided to take an immediate detour but it was too late.  There was a deafening silence in the air and my ears began to pop.  I looked to my left and saw a funnel cloud touching the ground 80-100 yards away and it was approaching me.  I pressed my foot down on the gas pedal as far as it would go, but my car would not go faster than 120km/hr! I kept shouting to myself (well more like the car) “Come on! Come on! Go! Go! Go!!” It felt like I was barely moving and this funnel cloud was rapidly approaching, 50 yards….40 yards…It was terrifying but also an adrenaline rush like no other.  Fortunately I was able to beat the funnel cloud but only by a matter of a few yards before I would have been sucked into it or tossed around, whatever! That was a close call.  At that point I decided to just stop at the next town and cancel the rest of my day.  I was seriously off route and didn’t want to risk encountering another one of these beasts!

3. Fire: Forest Fires

kelownafireLast year when I was on a road trip in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, a series of severe forest fires broke out and several areas were being evacuated.  The first ones I could see were in western Kelowna.  I could see them from my hotel room and knowing that I had meetings with clients in that area the next day, I called them to ask them if they were ok and if they were under evacuation alert.  Needless to say, if you have to call your client and ask them if their property is on fire and if they are being evacuated, it might be best to cancel that meeting! Although my clients weren’t being evacuated (just their neighbors!), I offered to bring by some emergency supplies and help as needed since they no longer had power.  Obviously no sales happened on this call!

Later in my travels to the southern Okanagan, I had to completely cancel the rest of my trip and fly out of a different airport because there were two forest fires; one on each side of the ONLY highway going into the mountains where I was supposed to go.  It was quite an expense and inconvenience to have to cancel the rest of my trip, but it was far too dangerous to risk driving on a highway surrounded by fires. What if the highway gets closed? What if I run out of fuel? Then what? In cases like that, my safety takes priority over making a sale.  After all, if you aren’t around to collect that commission, what’s the point?

4. Water: Massive Flooding

calgaryflood

Two years ago I had flown to Calgary for a conference and had planned to cover southern Alberta which I normally do in the spring but this particular year I had to cancel my plans because heavy snowstorms caused the closure of all primary highways to the south. I suppose as fate would have it, I was not going to be seeing any clients in southern Alberta that year because when I flew in, southern Calgary and all areas south experienced massive flooding and many of my clients even lost their homes. In speaking with some other sales reps and the conference, I was shocked that some of them actually had the nerve to try and see these clients.  I’m sorry but if your client just experienced some major natural disaster and suffered extreme damages or lost their home, I don’t think it is at all appropriate to try and make a sales call!!!  Have some respect and common sense people!

In my position, I cover all of Canada so I only get to see my clients once per year. I spend a significant amount of money travelling and invest a lot of effort into arranging these meetings, so I will do anything to avoid cancelling a meeting. I absolutely HATE having to cancel meetings! Sometimes however, instances like these arise that make it physically impossible to make to a meeting or an entire leg of my trip and  you just have to put your safety first and be cognizant of others’ situations.

So travel safe my fellow road warriors!

Cheers,

TSW

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The Worst Pitches I’ve Ever Heard…

sleazysalesman

and They Aren’t All From Salespeople!

For those of you who read my previous post, Why Salespeople Are Suckers For a Great Sales Pitch, you would know that I can be a sucker for a pretty face and if that person has a great sales pitch, I’m likely to buy whatever it is that they are selling.

On the contrary, I have zero tolerance for a lousy sales pitch regardless of whether it is coming from a real salesperson or just the average joe trying to sell me on an idea. Here are some examples.

The Worst Pitches From Salesmen:

dannyD Sales

1. “Do you realize how much money you could be saving? A Mercedes salesman asked me when I drove into the dealership with a Honda Civic and told him I was also considering a VW TDI. He clearly didn’t have the slightest clue about how to qualify a buyer.

2. “You should buy from me because we know so many of the same people.” A chemical salesman who stalked me on LinkedIn and even contacted a former employer of mine! Can you say, overstepping boundaries???

3. “You must buy today because the sale is over tomorrow.” Volkswagen salesman standing in front of a sign that said the sale was over at the end of the following month.

4. The Robot Pitch. Where someone has clearly memorized a script and when you ask them a question that isn’t on their list, they draw a complete blank or just repeat the script.

There are many others including “This product makes you thin, healthy and cures cancer!” or “This is the only product you’ll ever need!” and the list goes on and on and on…

So, what is the worst pitch I have ever heard and yet hear time and time again?…Drum roll please!

winner

Men who try to “sell” me on why I should be a lesser person. 

Yes, that’s right.  It’s a sad but true reality.  As a hard-working, well established professional woman who takes care of herself, I find myself completely bewildered at the number of men who have tried to convince me to do such a crazy thing!

Below are some real life examples of what some “men” have suggested to me over the years.

Worst Pitches From “Men”:

awkward face

1. You should quit your job and become a bartender. You like people right? I think that would be a better fit for you.”-

Oh sure, sign me up to quit my six figure job and sell my house so I can rent a cheap apartment and be a bartender! F*&% retirement! Retirement is for old people.  Oh wait, does that mean I can live off of you ? That would be so romantic. I can’t wait for a man to take care of me!

2. You don’t need to make so much money. You should slow down. It will be better for your health.”

Excuse me, did you mean to say, “So you can make less than me and make me feel like a man?”

3. Why do you like to eat such good food and have nice things like your Caesar salad and red wine for dinner? You don’t have to.”

Hmm…let me think about that one. Maybe because I like nice things, want nice and I buy those nice things for myself with my own hard earned money.  Thank you for asking.

4. “Why are you dressed so nice? You shouldn’t dress so nice all of the time.”

Uuh because I like to look good? Maybe I was trying to look good for you? Can you say, jealous much?

5. Why do you have to travel so much? Are you running away from something? There is so much to enjoy at home.”

Where do I even start with this one? How about I want to explore the world? Why waste it on the couch? Do you mean to say that you can’t afford to travel and you don’t want me to travel solo so you want to talk me out of travelling period? Maybe I should consider running away…from you!

These comments may seem ridiculous but I must say that when I first met these men, the primary interaction often does not start off on this note, but rather with a bombardment of compliments and expressions of admiration for my ambition and accomplishments. The tone usually changes quite quickly.  One guy I dated had this eureka moment and told me, You treat yourself like a princess and that doesn’t leave any room for me to do anything.  I don’t know what to do.” In my mind, I think the fact that I can take care of myself should be viewed as a perk to a man but perhaps only to a select few!

Why do men think that they can “change” a strong woman into a weaker version of herself? Or rather, generally speaking, why do people think that they can change others?

The answer is simple: Because it’s easier to try and “sell” other people on changing themselves than it is to accept yourself and make yourself a better person.

Whether we realize it or not, we are “selling” to others and others are “selling” us every day of our lives.  We all try to get what we want, to make ourselves look good, funny, interesting, worthy of attention and so on and so forth. Whatever it may be, whenever you do it regardless of whether it is in a professional or personal capacity,  a good rule of thumb to live by is:

Don’t sell yourself short and don’t sell others short.

I would love to hear stories from you about the worst pitches you have heard!

Happy sales my friends and don’t get sold on a bad pitch, especially those from non-sales people!

TSW

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