We reluctantly came. We nervously saw. OMW, we sold!

The choice of touch points or channels has always been quite a strong focus of most of my career. Where to target customers, on which channel, when and how. So when we launched our small business CW-X SA, I seriously thought that I would be able to lure customers to the website via a range of beautiful imagery on Instagram and engaging stories on Facebook.

Sales have been slow. 

We realized that the brand had dipped into very low awareness levels, the competitor environment was fierce and that unless we put money behind our social media posts, no one was really seeing our brand.

We decided to get our faces out there and approached Randburg Harriers Running Club asking if we could promote our goods at their Thursday evening time trial. I won’t lie, a social media collaborator and an engineer, face-to-face sales was not our strong point and we were dreading it.

The nerves ran high!

But here’s what we learnt:

  • Our brand needs to be seen in the real world. Once people saw the banners, it suddenly felt real.
  • Our faces need to be seen and recognized by fellow runners to make the connection between our brand and ourselves. Why? Because trust sells. Relationships sell. Networking sells.
  • And most of all, word-of-mouth is key! Once people realized its was us and they knew our faces and names behind the brand, they were really excited and started to tell other people.

Mini brand ambassadors were born.

I’m all for eCommerce but it doesn’t allow for much human connection. With the face-to-face interaction at time trial along side the track, it was easier to question and probe. We showed an interest in people and their stories.

It created a comfortable space for people to share their running injuries, their eating struggles and their choice of what running tights suited them more. People opened up to us about personal stories they would not necessarily do online.

After one evening, we’re no experts. But what an eye opener.

And here’s one more nugget. We fell out of our comfort zones and rolled straight into realizing that maybe, just maybe, we can do this thing called sales.

Lessons from my mentor: sell yourself

I’m one of those people who is priviledged enough to have found a handful of mentors who I’m able to bug for advise and assistance when I encounter different problems, not only at work but in my personal life.

Catching up with one of my mentors and a good friend (my Mr Miyagi) yesterday gave me lots of food for thought for my run this afternoon…

He was sharing his views on people’s personalities and how, (in his humble opinion) you don’t really get far in the corporate world unless you are willing to have a voice to speak up and be heard.

The point he was trying to make is that for some people, speaking up is an uncomfortable space to be in. There are people who would much rather sit quietly in a meeting, taking notes and internalising the issues than being the loud-mouths who need to be heard. The down side to this is that these ‘quiet’ people are then viewed as not contributing to the discussion or not having an opinion.

Unfortunately, to be noticed and to grow and to be recognised as someone who has something of value to the team, you sometimes need to push yourself out of that comfort zone and become that loud voice. Especially to make sure people start noticing you and the knowledge you possess.

So many of us have special skills and konowledge which a lot of people are unaware of. The best person to sell those skills is yourself because there’s no one that knows you better than you know yourself.