Author Archives: TravellingSaleswoman

Damage Control in Business: A VW Scandal Update

sorry heart

VW Says “We’re Sorry” With Gift Package Valued at Over $1000.

Business is part of life, and with that comes ups and downs.  At the end of the day, we are all human beings and by nature, imperfect and make mistakes.  In business, a simple mistake or poor decision can affect hundreds, thousands or potentially millions of people.  Minimizing damage control can be an extremely difficult undertaking, especially if you or your company was unable to proactively prevent the transmission of and correct the mistake or poor decision to employees, clients or even worse, the media.

A perfect example of this is the VW Recall, later known as the “VW Scandal”.  The former CEO of VW Martin Winterkorn, had approved the decision to install software on over 480,000 “clean” diesel vehicles in the US between 2009-2015. This software only activated the cars’ pollution controls during emissions testing (while on a hoist) which prompted a world-wide recall of nearly 11 million vehicles. This was obviously a fraudulent means to pass the rigorous EPA standards in the US and will end up costing VW up to $18 billion.

Unfortunately for the sales force at VW, they had no idea this was happening behind the scenes until they literally heard it on the news before they came in to work that day.  For the full story of the immediate impact on the sales force, read my interview with Aaron Hansen, Sales Manager at Cambridge Volkswagen, “How Poor CEO Decisions Impact Sales Reps: The VW Recall”.

VWGiftCard

So now, 4 months later in an attempt to say “We are sorry”, VW has provided all affected TDI owners such as myself with a compensation package.  This includes a $500 credit at a VW dealership, a $500 MasterCard gift cart and 3 years of free road side assistance. Furthermore, the recall on my vehicle will be fixed at no charge or inconvenience to me.

As a loyal VW owner, I think this more than compensates for any wrong doings on their part.  As I have mentioned previously, I never bought my car so that I could drink water out of my tail pipe.  I bought my Passat TDI for comfort, safety and fuel economy among other reasons.

Do I accept VW’s apology?

I most certainly do.  And I must say, the timing couldn’t be better, being just after Christmas and before Valentine’s day.

Will I remain a loyal VW/Audi customer?

Absolutely.

Overall, although VW should have given their sales force a head’s up about all the negative press they were going to receive in the media and prepare them with how to handle customer inquiries and complaints, they made up for it after the fact.

In speaking with the reps at my local VW dealership, sales are back to normal.

Just goes to show that regardless of the severity of the “damage” a business succumbs to or has brought onto themselves, it is possible to recover with the implementation an aggressive damage control program.

If your business is in a similar situation, you should consult a PR expert and ideally one who specializes in your field of work.

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Micromanagement of Sales Representatives: Has it Gone Too Far?

EmployeeTracking

Micromanagement is the elephant in the room and it is destroying the salesperson-client relationship.

In this day and age, we rely on technology for almost all of our daily activities.  We are easily traceable and accessible to almost anyone, anytime thanks to the electronic devices that supposedly make our lives so much easier.  This can be seen as a huge advantage to an employer who wants to keep tabs on their employees, however in my opinion, Big Brother has gone too far.

BusinessmanRotaryPhoneNot very long ago, a typical salesman would have one “office day” where they used their home or office phone (since there were no cell phones) to schedule their calls for the week.  They would use paper files to keep notes and tabs on their customers and upon their return to the office they would place those orders for their clients.  Sales reports were generated as long paper printouts and filedIf a salesman didn’t meet his quota, he would simply be out of work.  That was the only form of accountability. Simple and effective.

Now, not only do salespeople have to meet their quota, be available from the moment they wake up until they go to sleep, but their every step can be now monitored by their employers.  

GPS-tracking-deviceI once met a sales representative who had been working for the same pharmaceutical company for over 10 years who informed me that her company had installed a GPS tracking device on her vehicle.  She told me that one day she had some time in-between appointments (3 hours to be precise) and had parked her car to do work on her computer. Over an hour into her “break”, she received a call from head office asking her why she was stationary for so long and not calling on nearby clients. They proceeded to advise her of whom she should call on in her downtime before her next appointment. Can you say creepy? And to the benefit of the rep, I am certain that she was catching up on paperwork that needed to be done and I don’t see anything wrong with that.  In my opinion, time can be better spent tackling your to-do list compared to wasting time cold calling on a client with whom you have minimal potential to do business with.

SignatureOniPadThink that is bad? Well some companies have gone to the next level which I learned in a recent visit to my family doctor.  He informed me that several of the pharmaceutical sales reps who call on his office are now provided with iPads that trace their locations throughout the day which are saved and uploaded to company cloud. Furthermore, the sales reps must acquire the doctors electronic signature on their iPad to prove that they physically met with the doctor!

I don’t’ know about you reading this but if I was a doctor, I would be quite put off by that.  I mean, doesn’t it seem like a ex-con checking in with his/her probation officer? I think forcing that into a sales call takes away any genuine connection or relationship between the sales rep and the doctor. All is it says to the doctor is, “I have to be here whether I like it or not. Please buy and sign here or I will get into trouble.” 

How does this help the doctor, the patient or any client for that matter? Nevermind the fact that It also puts extreme stress on the sales rep and to what avail? Why even bother sending a sales rep? Might as well just send and email or a fax!

And it doesn’t end there. Some companies have even gone as far as requiring access to their employees’ social media accounts such as Facebook and LinkedIn and guess what? It’s completely legal.

robot-businessmanMicromanagement as far as it has come, discourages the creation of value-based selling to the client. If a company wants to treat their reps like robots so they can keep tabs on them at all times and only allow them to say scripted messages, why not just replace your reps with a team of robots?

In terms of what is to come in the future, I am certain that cameras in company vehicles will be the next “thing”.  Just over 1 year ago, Hertz installed cameras and microphones in their “NeverLost” GPS systems and now police officers will be forced to wear body cameras, so why not watch your sales reps as they drive between calls?

Why not listen to all of their sales calls as well so you can interrupt them and provide them with feedback on where they need to improve?

So to all the companies out there who are spending so much time monitoring their sales representatives, why not just hire capable sales people and have faith in them to do what they do best?

How many employees are required to monitor an entire sales force? At what pay grade? For what result? Really.

Sure one could argue that if a sales rep is doing a great job, they shouldn’t be concerned about being monitored but as I mentioned previously, if the client is aware that their rep is being monitored in their meeting, this will damage the rep-client relationship and take away value from the message the rep is supposed to relay to the client.  It is an elephant in the room and it is ruining the sales rep-client relationship. 

So my friends, keep selling and well, you just never know who might be watching you. Or perhaps you do?

If you are in a situation where you are being monitored by an employer, I would love to hear your story and how you feel it impacts your work performance and client relations.

Cheers,

TSW

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6 Common Barriers to Sales Success

manfacingbrickwallIs there a brick wall impeding your path to sales success?

Most sales people experience some sort of struggle achieving targets at some point in their careers.  In many cases, this can be due to the company’s lack of proper management, support, or setting their reps up for failure by creating unrealistic targets however that is not always the case.  All too often, underachieving sales representatives may point the finger at their superiors as the reason for their failure and simply because it is easier to blame someone else than it is to accept one’s own weaknesses and take the steps necessary to improve.

Last month, I wrote about “5 Sure-fire Ways to Lose Your Best Sales Reps” which focused on common mistakes that companies make when managing their sales reps which typically cost them their best employees.  Today, I will be focusing on the other end of the spectrum and outlining some of the most common problems that salespeople face which can impede their performance.

Some common barriers to sales performance include:

1. Fear of rejection and Lack of Confidence (inability to execute):

RejectionThis is THE #1 obstacle that all sales people must overcome. In sales, you are confronted with the possibility of rejection more than almost any other profession and it takes many shapes and forms. For instance, one may fear that in spite of their efforts, clients may simply ignore their calls and emails, say “no” when asked for the order or just tell them to buzz off entirely. It’s easy to get bogged down by such negative results, but in sales, you have to pick up your head and move along to the next prospective client. So, as I always told myself,Suck it up princess” Move on and pick up that phone or get back to pounding the pavement and keep in mind that as the common saying goes, “The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.”.

The best thing you can do, is take the correct course of action.  The next best thing you can do, is to take the incorrect course of action. The worst thing you can do is nothing at all.

2. Difficulty prospecting and qualifying leads: 

CustomerSearchingSo many sales people say, “Get me in front of the client and I will close!” but how does one get this opportunity of they do not prospect properly or effectively and fill their pipeline with qualified leads? That’s right, it doesn’t happen.  In order to find new prospects, the easiest and most effective means is to obtain referrals from your existing client base. In the event that you have already exploited your existing network for new business referral, you will have to stick your neck out there and find new business and start cold calling. Yup, that’s right, I said cold calling, the biggest source of fear for sales reps fearing rejection.  I suppose that is why so many self-proclaimed sales experts who hide behind a computer all day are claiming that cold calling is dead. In my opinion, those people are just too chicken s%^& to pick up the phone and cold call! For tips on how to cold call with tact, read my post on “The Do’s and Don’ts of Cold Calling”. Once you have filled your pipeline full of new prospects, you must learn how to qualify those leads in order to ensure you are most effectively utilizing your time and resources.  For some tips on how to qualify leads, be sure to read “How to Qualify Leads and Not Get Lead Astray”.

3. Ineffective Communication:

confusedcustomerIn sales, it is absolutely essential to listen to your client more so than it is to pitch them your product or idea. You must understand your client’s business, their needs, wants and their language.  If you spend your entire sales call talking AT your client, you will never get the sale.  A two-way dialogue is essential to close a deal.  In addition, if you bombard your client with corporate jargon or industry buzzwords that only your company knows, you will never be able to communicate value to your client. You might as well be speaking another language.

4. Disorganization & Inefficient Work Process:

messypaperworkTime is money and money is time. Mismanage that and it will be detrimental to your success. Each day, sales people are bombarded with multiple emails, phone calls, meetings, follow-up requests, reports and if these tasks are not organized and prioritized in some fashion, most of those tasks will never be completed correctly or at all. I obviously can’t summarize this massive topic in one paragraph but in summary, in spite of how amazing your memory may be, be sure to always make a “to-do list” and block off areas in your calendar to complete all of your tasks even if that means seeing one less client each day or having a dedicated office day.

5. Too Much or too Little Information:

businessman-with-head-in-the-sandSome companies provide their sales representatives with far too much information and literature without any focus provided by management. I once worked for a company that had hundreds if not thousands of products. My entire trunk was full of literature.  There was a general focus, but even that limited it to a few hundred products. Sure there was always something to sell, but it was overwhelming. I eventually just picked a handful of products that I focused on exclusively. On the other hand, some companies provide close to zero information to their reps. This can be dangerous for the company because who knows what the rep will end up saying to their prospective clients?

6. Unhealthy lifestyle:

womaneatingwhiledrivingSurprised to see this make the list? You shouldn’t be. Most sales reps are on the road for the majority of the day which makes it very difficult to find time to eat healthy and exercise. Over time, these poor health choices will affect one’s physical and mental well being which will ultimately cost you in your personal and professional life.  For tips on how to improve your lifestyle en route, be sure to read my posts on How to Eat Healthy on the Road and How to Keep Fit on the Road.

Hopefully in reading this, if you are in sales, you are not impacted by any of these barriers to any significant extent.  If you are struggling and confronted with potential job loss, it may be time to hire a sales coach. Contact me and learn how I can help you improve your sales game!

Happy sales!

Cheers,

TSW

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The Parallels Between Divorce and Job Termination

DivorceSeparatingTiesMost adults have experienced one if not both of these extremely stressful, life-changing events. This past Monday, the first Monday of the New Year has recently been coined “Divorce Day”, since it is historically the day when the greatest number of divorces are filed each year. With that in mind, I found it most suitable to start the New Year with this somewhat dismal topic.

Ever heard of the term “work wife” or “work husband” ? If you have worked in an office environment within the last decade, most surely you have!

If you have been working for a particular employer for many years and are debating on moving on, it is actually quite more similar to the divorce process than you may think.  Just as I have outlined the Parallels Between the Dating and Sales Processes, the divorce and job termination processes have just as much in common.

The average person spends more time at work then they do at home with their significant other, so there lies no mystery therein why terms such as “work wife” and “work husband” were coined and embraced.  Although those labels do not infer any sort of sexual relationship, it must be noted that a close working relationship with a superior (or inferior) can still be an intimate relationship even though it does not involve sexual activity.  As such, when those relationships begin to fall apart to a point that is beyond repair, regardless of whether the relationship is romantic or one of a platonic nature with a close colleague or superior, the separation process is remarkably similar as follows:

Stages of Divorce and Career Termination:

1. Dissatisfaction and Deliberation of Change

DissatisfactionCould the grass really be greener on the other side? Once the relationship enters into a phase where at least one of the individuals is not content and their issues are seemingly unable to be resolved, one if not both individuals may begin to seek alternative arrangements.

In a romantic relationship, the most dissatisfied party may begin to consider alternative mates or imagine life on their own.  They may open an online dating profile and begin to scope out prospective mates (not necessarily even replying to messages they have received) or begin to search for new housing accommodations and envision their new independence.

 In the working environment, the disgruntled employee may begin to brush up their resume, consider applying for other jobs, contemplate starting their own business and/or begin networking with other companies to jump-start their job search to see if there are better opportunities.

Similarly, the disgruntled employer may begin networking to seek out potential alternative candidates to replace the employee.

2. Enough is Enough

divorcemiddlefingerEventually the time may come where a partner in a relationship, an employee or employer may decide that they have simply had enough with the relationship/working agreement as it currently exists and that the time has come for it to end.  For whatever reason, it wasn’t working and there is no resolution except to decide to terminate the relationship.  BUT, in this day and age, that never comes without a price which leads us to stage #3.

3. The Legal Consult

DivorceLawyerClientMeetingWhether you are contemplating divorcing your significant other, suing your employer or are an employer who needs to know their rights and obligations before terminating an employee, you must seek legal advice.  This is an evil (and costly) necessity in any of these situations in order to ensure that you don’t end up getting the short end of the stick at the end of the process that you have already committed to proceeding with (or maybe not?).

4. Giving Notice: Filing for Divorce or Severance

DivorceFilingForThere is no escaping paperwork! Regardless of whether you are intent on notifying your significant other of the end of your marriage or the end of a working relationship in the case of an employee or employer, this intent must be submitted in writing to the other party.

5. Arbitration

Divorce ArbitrationThis is where things get messy.  In a divorce, this can take years and tens of thousands of dollars to resolve.  Similarly, if an employer or employee cannot come to an agreement about the severance of the employee’s agreement, it may end up in the hands of a lawyer or labor board and both parties may incur significant legal fees in addition to time in court.

6. Settlement

DivorceSettlementFollowing (hopefully not) extensive deliberation with a lawyer, partners, employees and employers will eventually come to a settlement agreement.  In the case of a divorce, this may involve alimony, child support and the dissolution of any other assets.  In the case of an employer/employee relationship, the settlement can involve termination pay (if the employee is fired) or severance ( if the employee is fired and the employer has 50 employees or more).  In either case, a unique settlement can be agreed upon by both parties.

7. The Aftermath and Moving On

DivorceMovingOnSo you got divorced, quit your job or fired your employee, now what? Hopefully you thought about this when you were at Stage 1: Dissatisfaction and Deliberation of Disloyalty, otherwise sorry to say but you’re kind of F@%$’d.

In reading this, before you engage in any of these steps, be sure to make sure that you are completely and utterly prepared to deal with the “aftermath” and consider all of the potential outcomes carefully. 

Nobody ever plans on getting divorced, getting fired, forced to quit their job or fire a long-term employee, but the reality is that it’s a fact of life and it happens to all of us.  We must always be prepared for these “hiccups” in life but in reality, none of us ever are.

If you are currently in the middle of either of these messes, keep your head up, be strong and persist because the grass will be greener on your side if you grow it and nurture it yourself.

Cheers,

TSW

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Unusual Reason You Can Be Denied Boarding a Flight

gateagent

It is with great sadness that one of my loved ones was unable to make it back home to Canada for Christmas.

Why was he unable to?

Because he was denied boarding. 

Why was he denied boarding?

Not because the flight was overbooked.

Not because the flight was cancelled.

Not because he didn’t have a seat.

Not because he was drunk and unruly.

Not because he was on the no-fly list or any other obvious reason.

DamagedPassport

He was denied because his passport was damaged.

Most of us take good care of our important documents but we are only human and it is so easy to have an accident and damage those documents.  Unfortunately most of us don’t even realize what small “damage” to a passport can cause you to be denied boarding a flight and hence the reason I am writing this post. The worst part is, in Canada if you have to replace a damaged passport, you must complete a comprehensive general application and will not be able to simply renew it and this process can take weeks if not longer.

According to the Canadian Passport Office a passport is considered damaged if it:

  • impedes the identification of the holder;
  • appears to have been altered or falsified; or
  • could potentially cause problems or has been denied by an airline or at a point of entry due to perceived damage.

Examples of damage to a passport:

  • has been exposed to water or humidity
  • has a tear in one or more pages
  • contains unauthorized markings
  • the information and/or photo have been altered or made less identifiable
  • pages have been removed or torn out
  • the cover and inside pages have come apart
  • has been chewed by a child or pet
  • other forms of damage that are not listed here

A few years ago when I was in Grenada, I was almost denied boarding a flight back to Toronto because of my passport photo.

The officer looked at my passport then looked at me and asked, “Where is your beauty mark?”

I told him I didn’t have one to which he replied, “You have a beauty mark in your passport photo.  Come with me please.”

Wow! Was I ever sweating!! My heart sank right into my stomach because I had no idea what he was talking about.

I was taken into an interrogation room for a more detailed search of my belongings and asked many questions.

Fortunately they let me have a look at my passport so I could see what they were talking about…

PassportPhoto

As it turned out when I was entering Grenada, the officer stamping my passport accidentally put pen marks on my passport photo page AND on my face in my photo! Fortunately, the pen mark was in blue, there were multiple other pen marks on the page and I had several other pieces of photo ID so they let me pass.

I was sure to renew my passport well in advance of my next trip because I didn’t want to risk getting stuck anywhere again over something so silly.

There are a multitude of reasons that a traveller may be refused boarding or entry/exit into a country but don’t be one of those people.  Be sure to add “check the condition of your passport “ to your pre-travel checklist and do this well in advance of travelling.  If you are unsure about the condition of your passport, visit a local passport office or contact your airline.

Safe travels my friends. I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season without hiccups such as these.

Cheers,

TSW

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The Handwritten Note in Sales and Business: A Lost Art

Handrwitten CardYear after year, each Holiday Season less and less people are mailing out Holiday Cards.

Why? Because it’s so much easier and cheaper to just send a Holiday Greetings email or to post a Holiday Greetings picture on your website or email signature.  Sure you can send a Holiday Greeting email blast out to hundreds of clients and track who opened the email but is that really effective? What is your return on that investment?

I personally find those sorts of impersonal messages totally meaningless.  All it says is that the sender is too lazy or cheap to spend the minute or two to actually write a note in a card. I may spend 1 or 2 seconds to look at the email and think, “oh, ok” and promptly delete the email without further thought.  After receiving many of these in addition to the dozens of other emails I receive on a daily basis, it is likely that I have completely forgotten who even sent me that email greeting within a few days.

In today’s modern society it is all too easy to send a text or an email. Even if we need to “write” a formal letter, that letter is typed, never written.  The closest thing that most of us do to handwriting is signing a document or receipt. I bet most people these days don’t even remember how to do cursive handwriting! Try it!

A step-up from the impersonal mass email greeting are greeting cards that are pre-printed to include a personalized message (you can only have one of course) and your signature so it “looks” like you signed it.  This is a bit better than an email but I’d still toss that card right into the trash.

That being said, if you are in sales or run any sort of business it speaks volumes to your clients if you actually send them a card with a handwritten note.  Sure it is a total pain in the butt and is time consuming but it shows that you care about your client as an individual and are willing to put the effort into expressing your appreciation.  It is a small gesture but it can go a long way.

Furthermore, since nobody seems to actually write greeting cards anymore, you may be the only one to give your client a hand written gift card which will make you stand out in their mind.

If you have hundreds of clients, sure writing out personalized greeting cards to every single one of them is not an effective use of your time, however as a rule of thumb, you should send out personalized cards to your top 20% accounts or at minimum or your top 10% in addition to prospects which have the potential to be in your top 20%.

Not sure what to write?

Here are some tips on how to write a simple and effective note in a greeting card:

  1. Address the receiver by name (i.e. Dear John)
  2. Include your general message: If sending multiple cards, write up 2 or 3 different versions of this message so you aren’t sending everyone the exact same statement. Keep the statement brief (i.e. 1-2 sentences)
  3. Write a brief personal statement . This can be something that only applies to this particular client. It can be a reference to a joke between the two of you or something as simple as thanking them for the specific number of years they have been your client.
  4. Sign your card

A personal touch can go a long way.  Remind your clients this Holiday Season that they aren’t simply a number to you or your company but rather a valued client who you can relate to as a person. In spite of how technologically advanced our society has become, people still like to buy from actual human beings and put a face to the company they are dealing with.

So this Holiday Season, If you haven’t sent out your greeting cards just yet, there is still plenty of time to do so! But if you missed the boat this year, try to plan on doing it for next year.  In the meantime, it is also a great idea to send a hand written thank you note to a new client or one who has recently made a large purchase.

Happy writing my friends!

Cheers,

TSW

 

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Dating a Frequent Traveller: How to Make it Work

TagAlongTravelAn interview with Deborah Zanke, spouse of a frequent traveller and author of the Tag Along Travel Blog.

Being a frequent traveller, I know all too well what it is like to date someone who does not travel for work which I discussed in my previous post “ Love and Romance En Route: The Unique Challenges Frequent Travellers Face in Dating and Relationships.”

In my experience, I have always preferred to date fellow salesmen or men who are frequent travellers because they inherently understand business travel and do not have a problem with me going away for extensive periods of time for work and vice versa.  My last relationship with a non-traveller proved disastrous.  He was completely insecure and became so jealous and suspicious of my every move because he just didn’t get it.  He turned into a complete control freak.   If I didn’t respond to every text or phone call, he thought I was cheating on him which was never the case.  I was just busy, working.  I didn’t have the time or patience to deal with this type of behavior and annoying false accusations and hence why the relationship ended.  Based on my experiences, I was sure that romantic relationships where both partners travel for work was the only way it could work, but I have been proven wrong. As  it turns out, dating insecure and emotionally unstable people makes it impossible.

So I digress…

I recently met Deborah Zanke, the owner of a Marketing and Public Relations Firm and author of the Tag Along Travel BlogIn her blog, she discusses the ups and downs of being married to a frequent traveller and her experience tagging along on his business trips.  Her spouse of 20 years only recently embarked on a new career that involved a significant amount of travel and that change she says, required a significant amount of adjusting on her part.

Debora’s husband is away on business travel nearly 40% of the time.  In the past year alone, he has travelled on over 100 flights in 11 countries.

What are the biggest challenges of being the spouse of a frequent traveller?

Deborah admits that it took her time to get used to him being away.  Initially he would be away on business for up to 3 weeks at a time and logistically it wasn’t possible for him to come back home on weekends which created tension in their relationship.  He then moved to a different position where he is only away for usually 1 week at a time at most but nonetheless, still travelling for a significant amount of time.

Other challenges of being the spouse of being a frequent traveller  Deborah says are coping while they are apart, missing each other, dealing with things that go wrong while he is away (condo repairs, car troubles, etc.) and being out of synch when he returns.  When reunited, may they be adjusted to different time zones and set in different routines.

How did she overcome these challenges?

In order to adjust to her husband being away so frequently, Deborah realized that she had to be more independent.

A huge perk of Deborah’s business is that she can work remotely which means it’s possible for her to accompany her husband on business trips.   When she does this, while her husband is working she works on her own business during the same business hours as her hometown and spends the rest of her time essentially travelling solo.  She describes a recent business trip of her husband’s to London which she tagged along on. During the day while he was in meetings, she would go sight-seeing and dine alone and if he was working in the evening, she would work on her own business at night since it was still regular business hours back at home.  Occasionally she would accompany him on business dinners but that was not commonplace.

The key to their success is that there is a mutual understanding that if she tags along on one of his business trips that his business is the priority of the trip.  She has the strength and independence to essentially go on the trip as a solo traveller and not interfere with his business.  She enjoys being able to take advantage of his super elite status, hotel upgrades and the opportunity to explore new places that she otherwise never would have even thought of.

When she isn’t able to tag along on one of her husband’s business trips, they maintain their intimacy by communicating regularly by text message, skype and facetime.  They even had the great idea to do a “virtual date” whereby they watch a movie and order pizza together over Skype.  Such a great idea!

Overall, in speaking with Deborah, I have learned that although it may not be easy at first, it is possible for a non-traveller to have a healthy, loving and fulfilling relationship with a frequent traveller which she achieves by being:

  1. Self-confident and secure
  2. Not afraid to travel solo
  3. The owner of her own business and one that can be done remotely
  4. Comfortable making the best of her time alone when at home, enjoying things such as binging on Netflix
  5. Understanding that her husband’s business is a priority while he is on business travel and doesn’t try to interfere
  6. Able to find unique ways to communicate and maintain intimacy from a distance

So fellow frequent travellers, there remains hope for maintaining a romantic relationship with a significant other who does not travel frequently for work.  And for all of you who are on the other end of the spectrum and are dating a frequent traveller, be sure to read the Tag Along Travel Blog or follow Deb on Twitter  for tips on innovative ways you can best utilize your time together and apart and make it work.

Safe travels my friends and good luck in love.

Cheers,

TSW

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Medical Marijuana Users Should Butt out Like the Rest of us Cigarette Smokers

marijuanaMarijuana Can Now Be Smoked Anywhere in Ontario: As a Cigarette Smoker and Frequent Business Traveller, I Disapprove.

Smoke on a plane? I don’t think so!

The Ontario government here in Canada recently passed a new legislation legalizing the smoking of medicinal marijuana in all public places where cigarette smoking is not permitted. As a cigarette smoker and frequent business traveller, this completely enrages me.

In Ontario, it is legal for anyone over the age of 19 to buy cigarettes but not smoke them anywhere however under this new law, if you have a license for marijuana, you can smoke it anywhere. This includes restaurants, offices, stadiums, movie theatres and “any other places where cigarette smoking is prohibited”. Does this include taxis? Airports? What about airplanes? Are they off limits if they depart from Ontario? How about police stations?

I have been a cigarette smoker for over 20 years now. It’s not something I’m proud of but rather something I’ve chosen to live with and it is an addiction. We all need some sort of vice right?

As a smoker, I am vehemently opposed to smoking indoors. I have never smoked in my home because it is disgusting just as I find the smell of smoke while I am eating completely off-putting. I find the smell of marijuana even more repulsive than cigarette smoke.

Being frequent business traveller who smokes cigarettes can be quite challenging.  If you’re travelling all day long on flights and within airports, you cannot smoke unless you exit the airport and have to re-enter security.  I have almost missed flights trying to do this.  The last time I connected through Denver and had 2 hour stopover, I thought that I had plenty of time to go outside and come back in through security however I was wrong.  Fortunately a security guard allowed me to bypass the over hour long security lineup (there is only 1 in all of DEN!!!!!) with my Nexus pass so I barely made my flight.

When booking hotels, I spend a lot of time searching for ones that have balconies so I can easily smoke outside.

When renting cars, I am careful not to stink up the car.

It is a lifestyle choice and I don’t have a problem with that. I put a significant amount of effort into abiding by the laws and keep my smoke out of the way of others. I

But now with these new laws in place, anyone with a medical marijuana license can smoke their stinky cancer-causing weed anywhere and we are all just supposed to suck it up?

What if you have children? In Ontario it is illegal to smoke cigarettes in your car if you are driving with a child under the age of 16.  What kills me (no pun intended) is that our government has a “Smoke-Free Ontario Act” devoted to “protecting children and youth from the dangers of smoking” and yet under this legislation, a parent with a medical marijuana license can legally smoke away even on playgrounds.

I studied toxicology extensively in university and know full well that second hand smoke from both cigarettes and marijuana contains all of the same toxic compounds. In particular, over 150 of the same carcinogenic polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) have been identified as being present in both cigarette and marijuana smoke.  

A good friend of mine who was a heavy marijuana smoker (but not cigarette smoker) developed lung cancer.  Why? Because it contains all of the same if not more carcinogens as cigarettes never mind 30 times the tar content.

That being said, I’m sorry but just because you have cancer (which you probably don’t since most of the people who get these medical marijuana licenses do not have cancer), doesn’t mean it’s OK for you give other people cancer.  Be respectful of your environment just as us cigarette smokers do.

I smoke cigarettes and that is my choice. I don’t impose this bad habit on others. I stay out of the way. If I am in an area where I am unable to smoke I either hold off until later or chew Nicorette gum.

If you have a medical marijuana license, do us all a favor and just like us smokers who either refrain from use or use cessation aids, how about you pack a marijuana brownie or cookie and chew on that instead?

Under this legislation, business owners do have the right to overrule medical marijuana smoking and prohibit in their workplace, so if I am in a restaurant and someone lights up a joint or “vapes” next to me because that business owner thinks this is acceptable, I will leave the restaurant. Same goes for any other business establishment.

If a sales representative smoked marijuana in front of their client, how do you think that would go over?

If someone lights up on an airplane or in the airport, they should be arrested just as a cigarette smoker would be.

This double standard should not exist. Our government should be focusing on more pressing issues.

So that’s my rant of the day.  Now that I have shared how I really feel, how do you all feel about this topic?

Would you allow your workers to smoke marijuana in your workplace if they had a medical license?

If you were allowed to smoke marijuana in your workplace, would you?

TSW

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7 Things You Need to Know Before You Rent a Car

lady picking up rental car
Planning to rent a car on a trip this upcoming Holiday Season?

Believe it or not, there are a lot of things you need to know before you book your rental car that could save you hundreds of dollars.

What do You Need to Know?

1. Search Expedia for Company with Best Rates and then Book Direct

keyboard typingGoing onto a site like Expedia will give you a quick overview of all the rental car agencies offering vehicles for your itinerary and indicate cost, mileage allowance and whether or not the rental kiosk is located in the airport terminal or if you will require a shuttle.  Select the vehicle that best suits your budget and itinerary and then go to the rental car agency’s website directly.  The reason you should do this is not only will you save a few bucks (Expedia does have a mark-up) but you can also earn travel rewards with that specific rental agency or gain frequent flyer points (not an option at Expedia).

2. Rental Cars Do NOT Have Snow Tires

baldtireIf you will be driving anywhere where there is a chance of snow, regardless of the vehicle you chose, it will not have snow tires.  I have yet to find a single rental car agency that equips their vehicles with snow tires and the reason being is added expense.  It is cheaper for them to write off the odd vehicle that is in a collision due to inclement weather than it is to invest in snow tires for each vehicle in their fleet.  The best option is to rent an AWD or 4×4 vehicle BUT not if it is old and has bald tires.  When you arrive at the rental car kiosk, request a new vehicle and be sure to inspect the condition of the tires before you accept the vehicle.  If the tires are bald, you are better off driving a newer FWD that has tires that are newer and in better condition.  Rental car companies do not spend a lot of money maintaining their vehicles like you and I may do.  Furthermore, most people who drive rental cars, drive the s^%& out of them, so be sure to check those tires before you leave!

3. Do NOT Purchase Insurance Through the Rental Car Agency

Car-insuranceEvery single rental car agency tries to sell you on purchasing their insurance which can be in excess of $23 per day! In most cases this is completely unnecessary. In most states and provinces, the car insurance that we have on our own vehicles covers us when renting a vehicle.  Additionally, several major credit cards include travel insurance, specifically rental car insurance.  Not sure if you are covered by either? Call your insurance company and your credit card company before you depart.

4. Do NOT Pre-Pay for Fuel: Plan on Fueling Up Before You Return the Vehicle

fillingupThis is probably the second biggest waste of money next to purchasing insurance.  If you agree to pre-pay for fuel, you are paying for a FULL tank of fuel regardless if you use it or not. This way you are paying to fill the ENTIRE fuel tank as though you brought it back completely empty which would never happen.

If you opt to return the vehicle with a full tank of fuel and forget, you will be billed up to 3X the price of regular fuel PLUS a refuelling fee!  When the agency bills you for fueling up, sometimes they don’t even pay attention to the exact size of the fuel tank of the vehicle you are driving and just bills you for some random sized fuel tank. This happened to me once when I returned a Chevy Impala with a tank ¾ full, and got billed for 88L (or 23 gallons) of fuel! The tank of the car was only 63L (or 17 gallons)! When I complained, they informed me that their calculations were based on an average sized fuel tank, not specifically the one I used.  What “average” vehicle at a rental car agency has a tank size of 100L?

5. You Can Not Reserve a Specific Vehicle

Chevrolet-Impala-2015The vehicle in the picture on the website when you are making the reservation is only a representation of a general vehicle type.  If you reserve say a Chevy Impala, you might not get that same make and model but rather anything similar in its class, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the precise vehicle you thought you reserved.

6. Don’t Assume You Have Unlimited Mileage

unlimited-mileage-car-rental-with -auto-europe-travel-tipsWhen booking your reservation, be sure to note if the mileage is restricted on the vehicle.  Often the ‘discounted” vehicles do not come with unlimited mileage.  If you plan on driving any significant distance in your travels, be absolutely sure that your rental car package comes with unlimited mileage otherwise you will pay a hefty fee for each km/mi you drove over the allowance.

7. If you Drop off a Vehicle at a Different Location You will Incur a Fee

routeAtoBIf you plan on picking up and dropping off your vehicles at different locations, be prepared for additional fees.  If your plans are somewhat flexible, for instance you can either go from A to B or from B to A, be sure to check out the fees for both options.   When I travel to Alberta, it is almost $1000 cheaper for me to pick up a car in Edmonton and drop it off in Calgary than it is for me to pick it up in Calgary and drop it off in Edmonton.  Do your homework before you book. You could save a small fortune!

I hope that in reading my tips, you will be much more prepared before you rent your next vehicle and possibly save a lot of money.

Safe travels my friends.

Cheers,

TSW

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How to Keep Your Cool During a Heated Sales Call

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Just because someone is having a bad day, it doesn’t give them the right to take it out on you!

When you walk in to meet with a client, you have absolutely no idea what kind of day they may be having.  Heck, you might be having a terrible day yourself.  Regardless, sometimes sales calls can get quite heated and escalate to the point where you could lose the business if you don’t handle yourself properly.

If you have been in sales for any length of time, you most certainly have encountered a client who is rude, belittling and/or who outright criticizes your company, product/service or even you personally.  There are a multitude of reasons why a client may act this way and it could range from anything such as problems at home, difficulties with other employees, issues with a supplier, legal troubles or they just saw your primary competitor in the hours or days prior who planted seeds of doubt in their mind.  The fact of the matter is, you won’t really know unless they feel comfortable enough sharing this with you. If they don’t, don’t ask.  If you don’t have a very well established rapport, don’t meddle in their business.  Do what you came to do, sell your product or service.

So what happens when your client gets out of hand and says or does something unacceptable?

In order to make sure you keep your cool and maintain professionalism, do the following:

1. Know Your Product/Service Inside Out

knowledgableThis should go without saying but before you go into any sales call, be sure you are an expert on whatever it is you are selling. If you can’t remember everything, be sure to contain supporting data or documentation in your detail binder and have it ready for demonstration.  Be sure to know exactly where each article is located in your binder in order to avoid fumbling around, wasting unnecessary time and looking like an unprepared fool.  Being prepared will enable you to keep calm and address your clients’ comments and concerns directly and precisely.  If they catch you off guard and say or ask you something that you don’t know how to reply to or don’t know the answer to, simply acknowledge that you don’t know and will have to get back to them.  If they get more irate by that answer, then reschedule the follow-up meeting immediately in order to diffuse the situation.

2. Do NOT React.

woman-covering-mouthThink, THEN React. It’s only human nature to snap back and lash out at someone who acts out at us in a negative way but you must control this urge.  It will get you nowhere besides kicked out the door and never welcomed back.  Think about what it is exactly that your client said that you found offensive or untrue and ask them why they said what they did.  Are they misinformed? Remembering details incorrectly? If they don’t provide you with a straight up answer, do not react or engage further. You can try to joke with them but I urge extreme caution in doing so, especially if you don’t have a well-established relationship with that particular client because you have no idea how they will react. If you are unsure, opt to redirect the conversation back to what you are selling.

3. Keep Focused on Your Product/Service

business chartAlthough it might be difficult, try to keep focused on what you are selling.  This will reduce the likelihood of any further provocation or outbursts from your client.  It also removes any emotional stimuli from the interaction.

4. Find a Reason to Follow-up (Take a Break and Reschedule)

Reschedule Word Circled Day Date Calendar Delay Cancel AppointmeIn the event that you are unable to keep the meeting focused on your product or service, you should end the meeting and reschedule for a later date.  You can directly inform your client that based on how they are acting or feeling, that perhaps it would be best if you met another day the following week to discuss.  An indirect approach would be to inform you client that you will be able to bring something of greater value to the next meeting (create an excuse to have a follow-up meeting) and would like to make arrangements to do so.

5. Smile and Try to Make a Joke

woman telling a jokeIf you do this right off the get-go, it can go 1 of 2 ways: Either it will totally piss off your client or it will make them laugh and relieve their tension.  Regardless, it’s a gamble.  If you’ve already ended the meeting and rescheduled, that would probably be the safest time to make a joke but again, only do so if you are pretty darn sure how your client will react.

Whether you are in sales or any customer service type of role, it is only inevitable that you will encounter difficult customers and how you react (or don’t react) will determine whether or not you will keep those customers.

Growing up, I worked for my father who owned his own business. He had always told me , “The customer is always right.”.

When I was 16 working as a receptionist at an animal hospital, the head receptionist told me “Just because someone is having a bad day, don’t EVER let them take it out on you! There is no excuse.  If someone is rude to you, you have my permission to kick them out. No questions asked.”

I never forgot that advice.  It was empowering to be able to stand up for myself and not have to be treated like a doormat.  Nobody should be treated that way.

That being said, you can use all of the tips in this article to try and diffuse a situation with a difficult client but that isn’t possible all of the time.  In a previous post, I discussed “When to Fire a Client”.

So, happy sales my friends and just remember, you don’t ever need to take abuse from anyone.

Cheers,

TSW

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