Monthly Archives: September 2013

Women in Business….are we judged more than Men?

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This weekend I took the time to watch a documentary called Miss Representation.  I found the film to be very enlightening and it gave me a different perspective than I expected.    I do not believe to be a feminist and I have had great opportunities being a woman, so I wasn’t sure what this movie would offer me.  As a strong business woman that works hard to carry a professional image I actually found the movie leaving me to ask myself the question, why do I judge other professional women?  I honestly didn’t even know I was doing it until the movie put it out there in front of me.  I was holding women in business to a different standard to men in business.

Women are constantly on stage whether they are in sales, on TV, or amongst friends, and society has strongly influenced the way we judge women.  We judge the way they look, speak, dress, and act.  It’s not just men that judge and it’s not even men that are the harshest critics.   We find ourselves talking about women’s appearances and personal lives in a professional arena, but do we do that to men?  Do you ever hear people talking about what men were wearing or doing in a professional social setting?  If you do the guy must have been over the top, but with women it could be a low cut top, too high of heels, short skirt, being too gregarious etc.  The worst part is the rumor and talk follows that woman around like a nasty disease.

In sales it can be very hard to be a woman no matter what you are selling or who you are selling to.  I have spent most of my sales career selling in the construction industry so of course it’s easy to assume that I must have to deal with the pressures of men, but really it is men and women.   I have worked really hard to create an image of professionalism.  So the movie made me think about when I first started in sales.  What women did I turn to as a role model?  Did I embrace other women and help them to find success?  Did I judge their outfits and the way they presented themselves?  Did I judge them differently than the men?

Well fortunately for me I was blessed with an awesome mother who was classy and professional.  My mom was a career woman and I watched her carry her professionalism at work and home. So when I started my career, did I judge other woman in professional positions???  I secretly did and I do.  I expected and expect woman to be as classy as my mom, but here’s the thing as a woman I need to stop judging.  I need to take that energy used to judge other woman and instead embrace them for who they are and help them to find success.  Let go of any stereotypes and be the influence that my mom was to me.   Perhaps these women that I am judging think that they must act, dress, or look a certain way, but in actuality women will be successful because they are smart, classy, and nonjudgmental.  So after this movie I will not only continue to carry myself professionally but now I will work harder not to worry about what other women seem like and to take the time to help them overcome judgements.

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Opinions are great…when they are delivered properly

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You are having a conversation with someone and they blurt something out that is offensive and rude… you don’t know what to say or feel.  The crazy part is you didn’t even ask for their opinion.  At first you are a little embarrassed because they caught you off guard, then you get defensive and protective, and then you get completely turned off.  Whether they are a long time friend or a first time contact a rude opinion can be detrimental to the relationship.  Many times you will not get another chance to redeem yourself.  In business and sales it is even more crucial to be conscious of the delivery of your opinions.  Learn how to be a strong business person that delivers your message without being rude or harsh.

Never offend your customer by bad mouthing their current services or processes. You will not earn respect by telling them the way they have done business or are currently doing business is wrong.  You may have a great product or service that is going to make their life easier, but criticizing their current method you will quickly offend the client.  When offering a product or service tell them some key features, and help the client see why your service will benefit them.  If you have to constantly insult their current vendor or practices you may never get an opportunity back in the door.  Let the customer tell you the faults of their system and products.  Sometimes sales people come in so aggressive that the client refuses to make upgrades just to avoid the offensive sales person.

Don’t offer unwelcomed opinions.   Let your prospect open up the door about the current way they do business.  Listen carefully to what is working for them and what isn’t work.  Repeat to the them what you heard.  Acknowledge that you understand their needs and wants before you pitch your solution.  You can do this by saying “I know you are currently getting this, and would you be interested in something that could help you with that and more?”  If you give them your reason for why they should use you before you know anything about their current situation you will come off pushy and ignorant.  How can you help them when you don’t even know about their business or problems?

Do not use slang or negativity.  Using words that are slang or negative come off as impolite and abrasive in business.  I did business with an acquaintance once and he used the word “dumb” to describe something I did that he did not agree with.  He found this to be a perfectly acceptable way to converse with me to get his opinion across.  I’m not sure if that is the way he always spoke to his business acquaintances or if he just felt comfortable with me.  Instead of me taking him serious, I ended the business relationship.  Why would I want to work with someone that would use a word as simple and negative as dumb when discussing business matters?   When you are doing business with friends or casual acquaintances speak to them just as you would any business partner.  Using slang or negativity will only leave you looking unprofessional and potentially insult the other person.

Do not assume everyone has your same sense of humor.  It is great to have a playful side when doing business, but be careful when you are in business meetings.  You can keep conversations upbeat and enjoyable but never talk about sensitive issues that could potentially offend someone.  The person may even seem to laugh at your humor but secretly could be very offended and not give you a second chance.  If they choose to take the subject to an inappropriate place try to change the topic quickly so that you are not put in an uncomfortable position.  Maintaining a level of professionalism is important even when you go off path into lighthearted conversations.

Great sales people tend to become very passionate about what they are selling.  It is a wonderful place to be in when you truly believe in what you are pitching, but it is so important to make sure you walk a fine line of giving your prospects solutions for their business as opposed to insulting their business.

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Labor Day…dedicated to the workaholics!

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As we approach this holiday weekend it’s always good to remind ourselves why we are celebrating.  What is Labor Day?  You hear people around labor day make the comment “don’t labor on Labor Day”….but really that’s the point. Take a break from your hard work!

Many us work way over 40 hours to reach our goals.  We all work for different reasons…some work because they feel that they must do this daunting task to pay their bills, some work because they really love their work, some work to fill their time, some work because they were told they had to, and some work because they fell into something that became habit.  At the end of the day working comes back to most people as something they have to do, but there is a good percentage of people out there that really have love and for some even an addiction to their work.

For anyone that knows me it is no secret as to why I work.  I work because I like to.  Of course I have bills to pay and I like to buy things….but I went to college because I knew that one day I wanted to find work that I was really going to enjoy.  That doesn’t mean that you have to go to college to find a job or career you like but for me that was the path that made most sense.  It’s a blessing that early on I decided to make work something good and positive in my life.  I don’t look at Monday’s as the worst day of the week and I don’t look at Friday’s as a huge relief.  This does not mean that I don’t get excited for Saturday and Sunday, and it doesn’t even mean that I don’t sometimes work on the weekends.

Work is good and good work ethic is even better but remember this labor day that even if you love your job it’s healthy to enjoy life outside of work.

Celebrate your labor day by enjoying a healthy work life balance!

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