Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Vaastu & Feng Shui of too much water?

Categories: Vaastu Feng Shui | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Vaastu reality of too much water and its effect on your business

Most people who do business do not like metaphysics, and related philosophies such as feng shui and vaastu (its Indian equivalent). They think it is crazy and unnecessary. But, they are wrong. Others think it is superstitious. But, can feng shui or vaastu be considered superstitious if you have analytics proving certain points? You have to be very stubborn to ignore hard evidence staring you in the face, right?

What is feng shui?

The 3000+ year old Chinese art of feng shui examines how your environment effects your health, business, and life in general.  The year a building was built, or the floor plan of a building effects those who live in it.  But, outside, water, trees, and other environmental factors effect you too.


I study waterfalls and their effect on business. At feng shui school we learned that water to the North is good for finances, but that moving water exponentially improved the effects of the water.  We also learned that too much water can DROWN you.  Water on your roof is a disaster, so painting tiles on your roof blue like Japanese people do is suicide! No wonder they had a tsunami that wiped them out after having all of those blue tiles on their roofs! But, I learned a lot more about waterfalls on my own. I have learned that standing the right direction and distance from a waterfall for about 30-45 minutes greatly enhances my internet sales on the following day!

What direction to stand

I learned that where you stand in relation to a waterfall is very important.   Schools say that the water must be to the North for best luck, but I learned that that is not exactly true.  Water to the North, East, Southeast, and West are all auspicious.  Water to the East and Southeast are a little better for developing new clientele perhaps because the water nourishes the wood element represented by the East and Southeast.  Wood or no wood, the analytics I took don’t lie about attracting new clients to my e-business.

How close to stand

The other factor that you can not ignore is how close to stand to a waterfall.  In addition to being the exact right direction (bring your digital compass), you need to be the right distance. I normally will visit waterfalls at Yosemite which are at least 400 feet tall, and up to 2000 feet tall, although those tall falls, sometimes are divided into sections.  I learned that standing 200 to 700 feet away from the waterfall in the correct direction is perfect.  You must have an unobstructed view of the waterfall otherwise you will not get any water energy.

What went wrong

I am experimenting here, so I can not say that I went wrong, but rather that I learned something new. One time I stood too far from a waterfall, and got no improvement on my e-business the next day. When I stand the “correct” distance from a waterfall I always get a 20-80% improvement in my sales the following day (not the same day — this is how the energies work).  A few days ago, I wanted to see what would happen if I was really close to the waterfall.  So, I went “scrambling” on the wet rocks.  This is actually very dangerous and many have lost their lives this way.  I went to about 70 feet from the base of the waterfall so that there was mist everywhere.   I got a little bit wet which was okay.

The results of my waterfall trip

Sales were dead for the next 24 hours.  I think that I got too close to the waterfall and the water energies were too intense. I got the worst analytics for my business that I have ever gotten while doing waterfall feng shui.  I would say that the water “qi” was so intense that it drowned me.  On a brighter note, my acupuncturist remarked at how my kidney “qi” (energy) was the best she had seen it in a long time.  Water energy is the energy in the kidney and kidney energy channels in the human body according to Chinese five element theory.  Being near clean moving water is good for your kidneys (try explaining this to your doctor and you will get a blank look).  So, being “too” close to a waterfall is bad for business, but good for kidneys, and lots of fun.

What is next?

Feng shui is not only good for business, but is fun to learn about, especially when you learn in the real world rather than learning from books.  I would love to visit Hawaii and see how it feels to be near waterfalls there!  The environment is very different there, and very calming. I bet it will be really fun.

How does this effect you?

If you are a business owner, you need to be in tune to how our environment(s) where you spend time effect you and how they effect your business.  Being in a slum for two hours for a business meeting could ruin you sales the next day. You need to be very aware of this to succeed in business! Good luck, and go find a waterfall near you!

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Hiring people with great personalities?

Categories: Hiring & Firing, Outsourcing Articles, Semi-Popular | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Hiring people with great personalities?

Most companies follow the same hiring strategy. Hire anti-social geeks to do technical work, hire a people person to do customer service, and those are the basics.  But, you tend to create large divides in companies that are built like this.

I always realize the vast difference in the feeling when I leave the room with the sales, marketing, and customer service people and go into the room with the technical people.  It goes from friendly to  depressing in only seconds.  My question is, what would happen if you employed a new strategy — a strategy where you create a work culture that is really friendly.

Employees choose where to apply to, and good employees have many choices.  India’s economy has a labor shortage (for the first time in recorded history), and good workers have many choices as to where to work.  So, if you have a company that has a reputation of being fun to work for, then you might be able to attract the best workers even if you don’t pay the most.  Remember — job satisfaction is high on people’s lists these days.

So, what if you had an attractive office, and hired people with great personalities — even the computer nerds would have colorful and engaging personalities (if that is possible — there is a first for everything).  You would be really mastering the art of attraction here.  You would attract great workers, and your workers would quit less, because they liked working there.  You would also attract more clients.

Some clients interact a lot with the employees at particular companies, while others interact mostly by email.  For the clients who talk with people, imagine how they will feel if YOUR company has personal people at every level of the company. Most companies won’t let you talk directly with a programmer, but what if YOUR company has friendly programmers who actually don’t run for cover when a client is around?

In today’s business world, people often ignore the personal aspect of business, and this is the worst mistake they could make. Deals are won and lost, often because someone doesn’t like someone else!  Sure, they want someone who can get the job done, but they might also want to feel comfortable with the people involved.

I wish someone would try this experiment and get back to me — but, someone already has. Cliff Bar hired gung ho and enthusiastic people to run their energy bar company.  For those of you overseas, Cliff Bar makes health bars that have oats, chocolate, and fruit flavors, and they use brown rice syrup and other ingredients to hold the bars together. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts typically love to eat Cliff Bars (me included).  The result was that they had a company where everyone was happy and felt good coming to work, even if they only made minimum wage!  Can you create this atmosphere at your company? It is worth a try.

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How do you teach interaction and smoothness?

Categories: Marketing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

So, how do you teach interaction and smoothness?

I feel that a busy call center is the worst environment for teaching sales.  A cool and relaxing environment where people can focus on interaction is much better.  I study dream analysis which is the study of symbology. My dream dictionary says that a coffee house or coffee in a dream represents stimulation and interaction.  I feel that sales should be taught in a coffee house. Lesson one should be how to call someone on the phone and smoothly engage them in a conversation.  Talk about THEM and what they are doing. They might ask about you, and what you are doing. NOTICE that we have done a lot of talking and not yet talked about what we are selling — this is good.

Did you forget that you were selling something? — GOOD!
When people get to know you and like you, they are now willing to talk to you LONGER, and have put their defenses down, which makes it easier for you to talk about what you are selling while they are still in a good mood.

Learn the art of asking questions
You can practice this in the cafe with your sales mentor.  You pretend you are on the phone with them, and you could even hold real phones to your ear to make it realistic.  You could joke with the people at the next table to lighten the mood — and the key here is to keep the mood light.  People are bothered by salespeople, so if you are the one salesperson who keeps the mood light, they will be less repulsted by you — they might even like you! Think positive!

This dialogue below is very casual. It might be considered inappropriate for larger companies, but smaller companies have the luxury of developing their own “corporate” style which could be very informal.  Many people in America really like a relaxed and folksy (informal) way of chatting.

You can practice a dialogue:  Let’s say that Ravi and his trainor Ramesh are hanging out at Barrista’s somewhere in India.  Ramesh pretends to be the prospective client who is a manager at a company somewhere overseas.

Ravi: Hi this is Ravi from Aleppi Call Center, may I speak to Candace please? (a professional introduction is a must)
Candace: Hi, this is Candy, how may I help you? (Candace uses her informal name variation)

Ravi: So, how is everything going today?   …. (if Candace is really busy, this casual approach will backfire)
Candace: Oh, just busy doing emails as usual.  I feel like a slave in this office.

Ravi: I know how you feel, that is why I do most of my work from a local cafe.  We have all become friends here at the cafe.
(Ravi smoothly lightens the mood)
Candace: That sounds like so much fun, if only I could do that

Ravi: You can always pretend that you are at a cafe when you are trapped in a stressful office
(Ravi has a witty and cool response to every statement Candace has made so far if you have noticed)
Candace: That is so true, I’ll remember that… By the way, what is your call about?

Ravi: Oh, right — “purpose”. It is so much fun chatting, that I almost forgot that we are supposed to talk about something productive!  (funny comments make the other person feel relaxed) We run a large and well reputed call center in Kerela, (this line adds professionalism) and we were curious to know if your company feels overburdened in any way in regards to the volume of calls, emails, or technical support issues.  I noticed that you mentioned that you were buried in emails, we have staff members who specialize in answering emails, and we can train them to answer them exactly how you would like them answered.
Candace: Hmm, that is very interesting Ravi. We have never hired an outside company to do anything like this for us. I have never thought about this even briefly…

Ravi: Certain repetetive tasks are easy for outside companies to assist you with.  More specialized tasks requiring a deeper knowledge of your core competencies (notice that Ravis uses MBA terms with ease) are better left to a skilled manager at the mother company in our experience. Does your company have any types of tasks that you consider to be repetetive that drain your labor resources? (notice that Ravi does more asking than telling — he LISTENS)
Candace: Hmmm, once again you have got me thinking again, usually I operate in auto-pilot when in the workplace. Hmmm….. thinking…  Actually, we do have some repetetive emails, and from time to time some annoying phone calls.  Does your company like annoying work?

Ravi: We actually thrive on that — the more annoying, the more we enjoy it.  (Ravi adds humor once again to win over the mood of the prospect).  We are actually so used to busy work over here, that we don’t even notice how repetetive it is. (Ravi adds a psychological sales pitch here making his company look very seasoned and reliable).  We are actually very flexible at our company.  We cater to companies small and large alike. We can come up with an introductary plan to meet your specific needs which seem to change by the week.  (flexibility is a huge factor when dealing with smaller companies with unstable workloads).  We can handle your overflow whenever you need it, so that you can relax and smell the roses a little more.  Why don’t we set up a time to go over what your specific tasks are and what they entail.  Once I know what the tasks involved are, I can give you approximate billing details.  Do you think you could itemize the type of tasks that you need done?
Candace: I never thought about that.  I guess I could work on that tomorrow.  I’ll itemize all of the work that we might need you for.

Ravi: That sounds great!

What can we learn?

A larger company would need a more formal approach as I mentioned before. But, Ravi smooth-talked this lady.  He was friendly, funny, and involved her in a conversation before talking about business.  He got her to interact with him which is critical. He asked questions, listened, and provided business solutions that were tailor make for her.  Keep in mind that large companies have untrained workers rattle off sales slogans about how they provide tailored and customized solutions to their clients. If you talk more to these salespeople you will find that they have two million clients and only three choices and trust me — these three choices are standardized and there is nothing customized about them.  Rather than making too many generalized claims about your product, make specific claims that pertain to the prospect.    After this dialogue is over, Ravi will have to brush up on his follow up skills which are equally important as the initial sales call.

Can you teach your salespeople to be as smooth as Ravi?

Some people just don’t have it in them to sell anything.  So, you have to start out with people who have potential. The next stage is to get your trainee to relax.  Tension doesn’t sell anything.  Teaching interaction is hard, because that derives from a person’s individual style. But, you can try to train someone to make smooth conversation, and witty remarks from time to time.  The path to smoothness is a hard road, but a little training could go a long way!

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Developing your sales force of novices

Categories: Marketing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Developing your sales force of novices

I wrote this fun blog entry entitled, “How to sell like a pro“. This article looked into the different personality types involved in sales.  I wrote about a very smooth and seasoned pro, and a clumsy novice.  The truth is, that at your typical BPO outsourcing company, you will not be able to afford the James Bond type seasoned professionals, because they will want at least one hundred thousand dollars per year which would translate into an Indian salary of at least a dozen lakhs per year.  The reality is that Call Centers, or BPO operations hire relatively inexpensive staff members, and have to make due with them.  So, in my mind, the strategy here is seeing how much you can develop the people who you can afford. The key here is training the less seasoned salesperson to become a professional at several things.

Smooth and confident

Being smooth and confident is one of the most important skills to have, even if you don’t know the first thing about the product you are selling. Even if you are an idiot, if you are a smooth idiot who is pleasant to talk to and who engages the client in pleasant conversation, you have a significantly higher chance of a score than a timid, nerdy salesperson.

Interaction skills are a must

Anybody can learn product specifications and can learn which attributes to stress during a sales call. But, the harder skill here is interaction.  Knowing how to talk with people, and getting them to feel comfortable interacting is a key here.  High paid salespeople often will just talk to you for at least twenty minutes about “regular stuff” just to win you over and get you to feel comfortable with them.  Novices are in too much of a hurry to make a score, and don’t realize that psychology is 90% of the game and product is only 10%.  Take it easy.

Strategic listening

Women in America always say that they want a guy who listens.  Guess what? So, do prospective clients. I am bombarded with 10 emails per day from idiots who know nothing about me and don’t want to know anything about me, yet want to sell to me. It doesn’t work. They need to briefly introduce themselves, and then listen, and ask questions — by emails, that is unless I delete them which I generally do 99.9% of the time.  But, if by chance, someone cold calls me on the phone and talks to me, they need to find a way to ask me what my needs are.

Are Indians too uptight in business interactions?

Categories: India, Semi-Popular | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Are Indians too uptight in business interactions?

Each region of the world has a different culture or blend of cultures.  India is no exception. India has a vast variety of people, religions, cultures, subcultures, and personalities.  But, what makes India different is that there are a lot of people who are uptight or what we might call socially ungraceful. If you are conducting a business, you need to be very smooth, otherwise others will feel less enticed to have any type of dealings with you at all. In short — being uptight will lose you a lot of business.

Examples of ungraceful behavior

I noticed that at restaurants in India, they warn me with a sense of terror if the dish I am ordering is DRY and has no sauce.  It is like they think the world will come to an end because the dish is dry.  Americans love dry food while Indians would rather perish than eat one bite of something dry.  The problem is NOT the culture difference, but how the situation is handled.  The problem for me is that the waiters are systematically extremely uptight.    Either I am ignored, or I am “uptightly” escorted to a table of THEIR choice.  Then, I am “uptightly” warned that there is a threat of having dry food.  Last, but not least, I am intruded upon by people who insist on pouring my water from MY water bottle which is sitting next to me on the table — without my consent which is very socially ungraceful behavior.    Of course, you are in the BPO, KPO, Call Center, or Programming outsource business, and not in the restaurant business, but the cultural issues are identical across these verticals.

So, what is the solution?

The polished way to handle the rough interactions in the last paragraph are as follows.  A calm, friendly and welcoming welcome are step one in any restaurant meal.  A restaurant that has no host is ignoring their clients which is bad manners even in the simplest of restaurants. It is nice to offer your patrons a choice of tables.  “Would you like a table in the center or a window seat?”.  When I order the Jammu-Kabob combination plate, rather than warning me about the dryness, the waiter could calmly say, “Would you like this dish dry, or would you prefer some masala sauce on the side?”.   Cultural knowledge is important for the water pouring point I made earlier . India is a society with a rigid class system where it is socially unacceptable for the upper classes to pour their own water or even tie their own shoes.  But, Americans of all classes are used to doing things for themselves, and I prefer to pour my own water for cultural reasons.  If someone else wants to pour my water (which is my property which you should touch), then you could at least have the courtesy to ask,”May I pour some more water for you?”

Uptightness in BPO companies

My restaurant example is fun and interesting, but BPO outfits often employ a lot of staff who appear very rigid on the phone.  Either companies need to hire staff members who are more suitable for interacting with overseas clients, or they need to be trained.  When I talk with people at Indian call centers, there is nothing specific that comes to my mind about what they are saying right or saying wrong. It is a general atmosphere of rigidity.  Part of the problem could be that they have a menacing manager looking over their shoulder who makes them feel fearful.  Part of the problem might be that they have to address certain points on a check list, and say certain words verbatum, or else they might get in trouble.  Yes — there needs to be structure in a call center job, but nobody in America wants to talk to someone uptight on the phone.

Solutions for uptight BPO workers…

The solution to uptight workers in BPO companies is to have management that understands what the overseas clients like to hear and how they like to be treated. If the manager only knows what is on a check list of things that need to be done, he will not understand the psychology of the client. This means more training not only for call center workers, but for managers as well — and that is expensive. The result is that you could win over some really large contracts if you do a good job training everyone. Large corporations can assign 1000 seats worth of work to a call center with the blink of an eye, but not if the call center does shoddy work.   The solution is to work on soft skills.  Sure, technical support workers need to be experts at their product knowledge, but understanding how to be graceful and nice in interactions is even MORE important when talking to Americans.  Americans will not want to talk to you no matter how helpful you are if you have the wrong vibe!  Understand our culture, and relax a bit!

(1) Each country has a different culture. What makes India different is the # of uptight or “socially ungraceful” people.
(2) Stay sharp in business, but, remain smooth in your interactions!
(3) If you’re uptight in business, your customers will become uptight too — if you still have any…
(4) Menacing Indian managers transmit tension; this makes workers fearful & rigid
(5) Which is more effective? Going down a checklist or smoothly having an interchange with a client?

(6) Is the manager’s checklist higher on the priority list than gracefully interacting with the client?
(7) The secret to BPO success is to understand how overseas clients like to be treated. Learn our culture & relax a bit.
(8) Work on your soft skills. Americans appreciate grace & manners as much as technical skills

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Power in business is about having choices

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Power is about having many choices

I was watching television last night, and an old businessman said, “You don’t get power, you take it”.  This is somewhat true.  But, real power is all about having choices, and good choices.  If you have a million dollars, but there is only one place that serves food where you are, and they want half a million for a hamburger, your money will soon run out. So, money alone is not power.  However, if you know how to use your money, then you have a lot more power.

On the other hand, if you only have $50,000, but there are twenty places selling hamburgers all competing with each other, and you can get your hamburger for 20 cents, and hopefully a good quality burger too, then your money will last a long time.

We live in a strange world, where money is not backed by anything. A few decades ago, American currency was backed by a gold standard. Now, it is backed by nothing, and the money supply can grow when banks “create” more money to loan out. Sure, there are laws regulating how fast they can create money, but money is just arbitrarily created, and the money itself has no inherent value.

One year you might have $100,000, and the the price of gasoline could become $20 / gallon, and all your money will be lost paying for gas.  Another year you could have $200,000, but then fall ill, and your medical expenses could take your last penny.

How does this apply to your BPO business?

In a BPO business, your power is your ability to hire good people to work for you. Rather than just hiring people and settling on them, it is better to hire more people than you need so you can get rid of the underperformers.  Most workers in any country these days are underachievers, and you need to avoid these types like a disease.  Seed and weed is the agricultural expression to describe what I am talking about.

Hiring BPO companies

Also, if you are hiring outside BPO companies to work for your company, don’t just settle for one. Do a lot of shopping around and take notes about their performance. You don’t know a company until they have worked for you a little bit. Then, you will have an idea of how they perform.

The main point of this article is to put a lot of effort into making sure you have choices, and knowing how good those choices are — otherwise you are powerless and helpless!

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