Sales: When the unexpected happens, will you be ready?

Those pleasant surprises, whether in our personal lives or our careers, when life presents an opportunity, why do they happen and what role does luck play? A Roman philosopher once said “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Being prepared is the key.

In almost all the sales job interviews I have conducted, I always ask the candidate, “Are you a lucky person?” Not the most common question in an interviewer’s question bank, however, the answer will tell me a lot about the prospective candidate. Do they go into a tailspin or they are confident in their answer? Either way it is always interesting.

Thomas Jefferson must have had a salesperson in mind when he said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Work hard and the unexpected opportunities for success will find you.

Recent research carried out by Joël Le Bon, Why the Best Salespeople Get So Lucky , explores the notion of “provoked luck” and the unexpected events that come about when our behavior as sales people is maximized to react to potential opportunities.

Le Bon’s research found that the belief in luck seems to boost confidence and self-assurance, thereby helping experienced sales professionals remain optimistic in the face of setbacks.  Belief in luck also helps the inexperienced salesperson in overcoming uncertainty and fear of failure. These factors are critical in helping salespeople maintain motivation and job satisfaction. Confidence and assurance are also critical when starting your career in sales. For sales managers it can reduce attrition and therefore decrease recruitment costs.

For the young or new salesperson, who may be struggling, the best advice for getting through the initial wave of despair is to have a firm belief in luck — not the luck of the random windfall, but the kind of provoked luck that truly helps increase the odds of success.

If you apply the theory about hard work to your selling, the “lucky” sales opportunities will present themselves. The important question is, will you be prepared to capitalize on your luck and turn the opportunity into an order?

It would be inconceivable to think that you would have done all the hard work, invest the time and effort to create some luck and then be unable to take advantage of it. Do you know your products, have you the expertise and the business insight to help the unexpected prospect, the one whose requirements are likely to be slightly outside your comfort zone? If you do, it will quickly allow the prospect to gather the information they need to make a fast and favorable decision.

Unfortunately we can’t account for luck in our sales pipeline or sales plans, but you can count on doing your job to the best of your ability. Build your well-defined sales process and consistently deliver day after day. Follow up your leads, know your customers, add value and good things will happen. Then embrace your luck when it appears.

Oh, and by the way, the best answer to my interview question is, “You create your own luck.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey.  All Rights Reserved.

Why Cybersecurity MUST BE your new business priority.

It reads like something from a thriller movie trailer and yet it’s the headline of a recent article in Reuters highlighting what many political and business leaders fear most:

“Destructive hacking attempts target critical infrastructure in Americas”

What’s so remarkable about the most recent hacking attempts in the US, is that the hackers are no longer trying to steal data, instead opting to try to shut down computer networks, delete files or control equipment.

So great is the concern about this, that it was the driver for a recent executive order and proposed legislation to encourage greater information-sharing about threats between the private sector and government.

And yet, in spite of all the growing threat to Cybersecurity, only one in three HR professionals report providing Cybersecurity training to staff.

Is your organization doing everything it can to protect itself? Continue reading

Sales: From Sandbagging to Motivating

What’s the best way to compensate and motivate your sales team?

Whether you’re a manager or a sales professional yourself, I’ll bet you have some thoughts on the matter.

This month’s Harvard Business Review offers up a fresh take that I wish I could’ve benefited from when I first started out. Continue reading

UK Failing to address the digital skills shortage

Our industry has done so much advocacy in the last few years trying to get students interested in IT and considering our strong efforts to bridge the digital skills gap, it is almost inconceivable that we are still so short of achieving our goals.

Yet, as we make our way into spring 2015, the digital skill shortage is still a big issue. According to the House of Lords Digital Skills Committee, 35% of UK jobs will be at risk of being automated over the next 20 years. What’s even more worrying is that the committee says the UK government is failing to address the issue. Continue reading

IT industry must collaborate to solve IT skills gap

As close as we are to the problem on a daily basis, the IT industry alone cannot solve the skills gap. However, when we team up with or gain the support of influential politicians, that’s when things can start to change for the better.

As I currently live and work in the US, I’m interested in ways the skills gap is being addressed here. I recently came across a story highlighting the need for our industry and elected representatives to work together to develop the IT skills needed for our profession to succeed. Continue reading

IT job market is bright, but fresh skills are needed going forward

It’s now approaching the sixth year of the global economic downturn. We’ve seen banks and even our favourite high street chains go to the wall. However, depending on who you speak to, the job market is looking rosier in certain sectors.

One sector that has to a degree bucked the trend is IT. Research from US-based Burning Glass Technologies found that Q4 2013 IT job openings numbered over 500,000. Additionally, research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the IT unemployment rate was 3.3% in the US compared to the overall national average of 7% across all sectors. We’re the lucky ones it seems. Continue reading

Business success 2014: Selecting the right technology

In my last blog post I championed the human being the most important element in the workplace. That view certainly hasn’t changed, but the technology deployed in the workplace is almost as essential as having motivated and driven staff. The two need to marry each other, without divorce!

A huge ongoing challenge in the workplace is managing data. Big data, metadata, ever-increasing data – it’ll not go away, so learn to manage it. Now and in the future, a real headache is loss of business data. Continue reading

Business success 2014: The human touch

Now that the often-sluggish month of January is behind us, it’s very much a case of knuckling down to address the business challenges we face in 2014. In this blog I want to address the human element of achieving success.

We all may confess to be addicted to technology in our lives. We can pay bills at 4am, stream music and films to devices all around the home. In short, our machines are vital to us. But let’s not forget who designs, communicates, operates and improves our tech-dominated office: human beings. Continue reading

Helpdesk is at hand to nurture students’ IT career skills

It’s often argued that many education systems do not adequately prepare students to enter the workplace with the right skills. Fact. However, I recently came across a school that is bucking this trend.

West Leyden High School in Chicago wanted its students to understand the IT skills needed in the business world. With this in mind, Leyden set up the Technical Support Internship (TSI) to provide a live IT helpdesk for the school.

The mission was clear: to be the first contact point for IT queries; to be academically focused; to be customer-centric; to place technology at the heart of teaching, learning and productivity. Wow, I’m impressed! Continue reading

Light-fingered iPhone 5S hackers need heavy-handed counteraction

Unless you have been living under a truly analogue-shaped rock of late, you will know that Apple recently launched its new iPhone 5S. You know the situation by now: Apple worshippers queuing outside stores around the globe, desperate to get their hands on the latest must-have device.

Some would argue that the cult of Apple should lead to being aware of false Gods – a case of the iPhone being bigger than Jesus, and indeed The Beatles. What Apple devotees should in fact be aware of are hackers ready to attack the latest consumer device they adore. Continue reading