Archive for the ‘Selling’ Category

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Since its invention, we have been enamored with the photograph. Why do we respond so strongly to images? And how has this penchant for images been changing the social media landscape.

Photography allows us to capture life’s most important events. We can immortalize famous moments in history, beloved relatives, young children before they grow up, our holidays, vacations, and much more. Images connect with us – instantly – on an emotional level that the written word simply cannot compete with.

The rapidly burgeoning smartphone market means that practically everyone has a camera in their pocket. In addition to holidays and birthdays, we can now visually document nearly every facet of our lives. People post pictures on Facebook of their meal at a fancy restaurant. Parents instantly upload photos of their newborn from the hospital. Those who are oppressed in corrupt countries can post pictures of war crimes and human rights abuses to hold their leaders accountable. As the influence of the internet increases, visual media has exploded as a huge trend. Anyone can be an amateur photographer.

Why do we respond so strongly to images? For one thing, our eyes are the most developed of the sensory organs. We are hardwired to take in tons of visual information every second, process it, and make sense of it. It’s simply faster for us to look at a picture than it is for us to read a paragraph. Information designer Tom Wujec described in a TED Talk how our brains create meaning through images. Wujec says that our brain doesn’t actually see the world exactly as it is, but instead creates mental models based on the information our eyes take in and deliver to the brain. The primary visual cortex, which can only see basic geometric shapes, takes this information and sends it to centers around the brain, including the limbic system. Very old evolutionarily, the limbic system is deep inside the brain and supports our emotional functioning. It also pays attention to color. This is why we have such an emotional reaction to photographs, especially color ones.

European brain researchers found out that our visual sense dominates our experiences. The researchers put red dye in white wine, and asked professional wine tasters to describe the win. Every one of them described the wine using vocabulary prescribed for red wines, demonstrating that we believe what we see.

In an article called “The Rise of Visual Social Media”, Ekaterina Walter calls online visual marketing “the breakout trend for 2012.” Websites like Instagram, Pinterest, Flikr, and PhotoBucket are doing very well. People are more likely to click on a link if it has an eye-catching picture, even if it’s something simple. We used to think it was all about content, which is still important, but it seems that visually-appealing images are the key to getting people’s attention.

A 2012 study by ROI Research found that people enjoy looking at pictures their friends post on social networks more than they like viewing status updates, links, etc. Women in particular are drawn to images, perhaps explaining why so many women are on Pinterest.

How can you take advantage of our fondness for photographs? Include eye-catching photographs in your presentations, flyers, and brochures. Frame a beautiful or sentimental photograph and give it as a gift to a friend or loved one. Be aware how your emotions may be manipulated when you see an advertisement with appealing images. Don’t underestimate the power of pleasing images and colors when you are trying to persuade someone.

Visual media is continuing to grow alongside advances in the internet and technology. Better and cheaper cameras allow practically anyone to document their lives, and smartphones are at the front of the movement. Is there such a thing as image overload? Will we eventually tire of the onslaught of images? Not so far.

John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

© Copyright 2013

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Tips to Boost Your Charisma Saturday, May 18th, 2013

We all know charisma is important, but few of us know how to be charismatic. Many people think it’s something you’re born with and that it’s impossible to learn. While some people’s personalities may be more naturally charismatic, there are some simple tricks to increase your charisma quotient:

Be kind. People are drawn to those they believe have their best interest at heart. Offer constructive criticism. Always offer to help. To project kindness and warmth, try to think of a few things you like about the other person. Just thinking those thoughts will affect your body language in a positive way.

Stay focused and engaged. When you really pay attention to what someone has to say, they feel valued. If you let your thoughts wander, it will show up in your body language, even if it’s almost imperceptible.

Plan ahead. If you’re distracted, uncomfortable, or in a hurry, people can see it in your face. Wear comfortable clothing, account for travel time, and give everyone your full attention.

Be humble. Admit your mistakes and don’t be defensive. Shine the spotlight on others.

Love yourself. Have big goals that inspire you. Practice gratitude and self-compassion.

Olive Fox Cabane, author of “The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism”, writes that in order to project charisma, you must project 1) power, 2) presence, and 3) warmth. In terms of charisma, power means it appearing you have the ability to influence your environment. Presence means really being engaged in an interaction and not letting yourself get distracted by your own thoughts. Warmth means demonstrating compassion and genuine concern about the other person.

Cabane says it’s all about body language. Unfortunately we can’t control much of our body language, because our body displays our mental and emotional states beyond our conscious control. If you feel nervous, you will probably look nervous. If you get yourself into a good mental state, however, charismatic behavior and body language follows naturally.

Barriers to charisma include low self-esteem, negative self-talk, lack of empathy, lack of interest or desire to learn about the other person, any condition that would affect your ability to pay attention (like ADHD), and negative emotions like anger and anxiety. Before you can be more charismatic, you’ll need to address what’s holding you back.

Whether you’re a business leader, student, or a waitress looking for better tips, charisma is important. People look to charismatic leaders to guide and inspire them.

John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

© Copyright 2013

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“It Is Better to Know Some of the Questions Than All of the Answers.” Sunday, May 9th, 2010

James Thurber, author and cartoonist, said that many years ago and it is true today.

Selling is not about what you say to the customer, but rather it is about the questions you ask. Many salespeople are in love with their own words and ideas. They are often described as having the “gift of gab” which means that they really just talk too much. Instead of asking open-ended questions and listening, talkative salespeople talk too much.

They ramble on and on about product features to fill the dead air (which is extremely uncomfortable for a talkative person). Worse yet, they invariably talk about themselves, which is the last thing that the buyer wants to hear.

Meanwhile, the buyer ultimately buys from the seller who best understands their problems or needs. Of course, you don’t get to understand the buyer’s needs by talking. Great salespeople ask questions to learn about the buyer’s motivations, concerns, and desires. It is really that simple.

Ask questions to discover what matters most to the customer. If you must speak, then talk about what matters most to the customer.

John Bradley Jackson
Top Dog

The BirdDog Group
© Copyright 2010
All rights reserved.

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Body Language Tells a Story Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Body language helps us communicate whether or not we are aware of it. A recent university study on how people receive information had the following results:

– 55% of what we learn from others comes from their body language (mostly from the eyes)

– 38% of what we learn from others comes from their tone of voice.

– 7% of what we learn from others comes from the words they say.

What this means to you and me is that our body language communicates a lot of information whether or not we try to manage it. This makes the initial greeting critical to the beginning of a new relationship. While people expect a firm and professional handshake, studies show that we make up our minds about people in the first three to four seconds

Essentially, we make a judgment based on physical characteristics such shape of the face, posture, eye contact, body type, voice, clothing, and smell. We quickly determine if the new person is friend, foe, or neutral. This mammalian reaction comes from thousands of years of learning to survive and thrive in a hostile world.

Beware that when you meet new customers or contacts that you are being sized up and categorized. To make the best first impression, a smiling face and direct eye contact helps get you off to a good start. A firm, uncomplicated handshake is best; avoid a weak hand shake or an overly aggressive grip. The goal is to be accepted not to dominate. Stand straight but relaxed.

Your voice should be steady and enthusiastic. A happy person has a higher pitch and fast pace, while a depressed or bored person speaks slowly in a monotone voice. An aggressive person can be loud with a deep voice (think growl).

Clothing matters. Have you ever noticed how a person who is dressed-up, even in older or out-of-style clothing, always commands more authority and respect? The impression you make and what you have to say is enhanced by your personal presentation. The goal is to fit in but not to draw extra attention, so beware of flashy or provocative clothing.

Finally, good grooming is essential. Body odor can be offensive in most cultures; also, beware of over doing it with perfume and cologne since this can also be offensive to some. Clean hands and well groomed nails are essential.

Your body language tells a story to others whether you mean to or not.

John Bradley Jackson

The BirdDog Group

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