TLDR Article: What makes a good Sales personality

Just spotted a study[1] which reports that manager’s evaluation of higher Job performance correlated with:

  • Employee’s self-evaluation of Assertiveness and Self-discipline had a good correlation too
  • Manager’s perception of employees having traits of Extraversion or Conscientiousness

My conclusions drawn from other sales stories confirm these.

 

P.S. Don’t forget about the difference between correlation and causation. Also nailed by xkcd:

[1] http://su.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:542263/FULLTEXT01.pdf

Why to learn? A few numbers on costs of learning it the hard way / investing in advance

Growing a decisive person off the current self, I’d like to employ all my decision making oompah-loompahs for something new each time.

Here goes a short list of life lessons learned with associated cost to help me say “Yes!” to a next educational venture.

cat_motivate

-$1000. For negotiating with a person having no authority

I was working for IT company and received a sign-up bonus for a relocation program. They were delaying the relocation for months.

Then it was a time to negotiate my pay raise. Manager told me the bonus should be considered the raise. A few months later I’ve decided to quit the company which led me to the discovery that I have to pay off the bonus back (which makes it slightly different from a pay raise).

In the end I’ve never received the pay raise and had to pay back part of the bonus all because the true decision maker was up the chain and I’ve never had a word with him.

I had another funky salary negotiation less than a year ago where my suggested raise was lower than a pre-negotiated one. Funky!

-$200. For signing a contract due to a pressure

While trying to rent an apartment I became a target of a brokers scam. Discussing the contract at hand became quite heated when I was questioning the validity.

Signing that out of guilt was stupid.

Now I know that people selling decent things don’t need to scream.

angry_birds

-$400. For lending [all of my] money to a gambler

Yes, I know (:

What was cool – I’ve learned (as well as my girlfriend *wink*) what a birthday present for $2 can look like!

Also what I’ve discovered that lending sucks. Giving money to people (especially for a cause) works much better with regards to how I feel as a result.

-$500. For not knowing how to behave in large cities

I’ve been mugged once and had my Palm (if you know what is that) stolen once too. A few basic concepts from a $10 book are saving my neck for quite a while since that.

+$1000 x 6 mo + position I wanted. For learning about career management

My manager at the company from the above (the bonus guy) wasn’t willing to let me lead a team + salary was not negotiable.

So I went to explore the market (which was a new concept to me but suggested by a training I’ve attended).

As a result, I’ve got the position I wanted, lots of moments to learn from and a higher salary (for at least 6 months – that’s when next salary review was scheduled to happen).

x2 above the average rate. For learning about sales

One of the cool things I’ve learned from sales is about the importance of being a great fit for a customer: people can buy your service because you’re cheap or they can buy your service because you’re great fit for their problem.

I use this principle whenever negotiating a new consulting contract: being asked for a discount I suggest to use cheaper providers for the simpler parts of the work, while using my service for the trickier bits – everyone wins as a result. Potential customers can walk away – that is also ok.

-50% of savings. For favoring saving over investing

Ukrainian currency declined from 8 to 25UAH/USD. Traveling most of my time outside of Ukraine I spend in USD. Thus purchasing power of my savings declined a lot.

My skills on the other hand suffer less from political situation and the more of them I have the better is cumulative return.

P.S. Hint on how to adjust the numbers if you’re not from Ukraine

Average software engineer salary is $2000/mo(we don’t talk annual salaries here).

Average salary across the country was $400/mo in 2014(now it’s apparently declined because of the fx rate).

horse jump

Summary

In my experience every trick learned saved (or would have saved if learned in time) me a few hours / a few bucks (feel free to convert according to your hourly rate).

So, why bother learning something from a $15 webinar, you say? (:

fry_think

Kiss Your Woman III: Launch stats

While my programmer woman is taking a break, I’m going to go ahead and start working on our marketing strategy.

Launch stats

Our first announcement happened on a few social networks:

  • Facebook ~ 1000
  • Vk ~ 500

Surprisingly to me, we were supported with a few reposts(like 4) accounting for like half of the total traffic(the second hump).

Screenshot 2015-01-22 13.26.18

I’m not sure about how many views actually happened as a result, but those had converted to ~150 hits to the registration page.

In the end we have received 6 e-mail signups.

All the cool marketers would draw a pipeline. Mine looks like this:

[ 1500 ]—-( 10% )—->[ 150 ]—-( 4% )—->[ 6 ]

Estimating budget

What’s cool about the pipelines is that now I can estimate how much resources I need to spent to get to a number I want.

 

E.g. if I need 100 users and Google Ads cost 1 UAH per click, I need:

100 users * 1 UAH / 0.04 = 2500 UAH

Which is not terrible amount of money but stands out compared to average salary in Ukraine of 3000 UAH (:

Btw, 1UAH per click was chosen at random – google now shows 15..40 UAH which makes things even more interesting.

Anything wrong?

Although 4% conversion doesn’t seem that bad compared to the industry average, higher values can be achieved.

stats

 

Better targeting(no more spamming all the friends) and improving the landing page(yay my non-english speaking friends) are the low hanging fruits.

What’s next?

I’m letting a Google ad into the wild and let’s see how it works – more reports to follow : )

When Olga will return, she’ll have even more fans to code for! ^_^

P.S. KissYourWoman.com is a relationship nurturing tool. Join us!

Stepping forward, no matter how small

Almost 2 weeks had passed since our start with KissYourWoman.com and nothing had happened. Like at all. Enumerating all the excuses won’t help as they don’t tell me what to do to move things further, so I’ll be telling you about the attempt to cure this.

Thinking about that reminded me of 6 people I can remember straight away which were curious about becoming a Java programmer, asked me, I handed them the plan summarizing my story and… nothing happened.

And awesome Learning how to learn, amongst other things suggesting to do whatever stupid but small and regular steps.

So small and stupid we did it. A neat drawing of a screen, LayoutIt!, some attention of a caring engineer and let’s care about project plans, awesome frameworks(hi, rails!) later.

May the fun be with us now (:

kym

Applying all of that to myself(and given that I’m into sales), I should find a sales person and stick with them until I”ll become a one.

Mosquito bites stat

mosq1

I went ahead and calculated all the mosquito bites I had received here before buying the mosquito net. All the easily accessible ones(like excluding back, head etc) totaled 48! (:

I’d attribute most of these to the first 2 hours of the night with no repellents.

My story of working remotely

Being asked about this on a regular basis, I’ve decided to document my story with telecommuting.

Currently my experience in the area is about 2 years working out of the offices out of almost 7 years(all of which were working in distributed teams).

Disclaimer: this article is not about how to quit working. I do code 4…15 hrs almost every day, and though I earn more than average Ukrainian engineer(, I don’t see how I possibly can stop – I’m addicted! : )

Disclaimer to disclaimer: why would telecommuting be related to quitting working? Because I hear about that mostly in a context of quitting working for someone. And I do enjoy being useful for other people(yay weird traumas).

My story of telecommuting

First taste. Days

First I’ve tried the taste of working remotely somewhere in 2008/9. Crisis just started and customers were picky. I’ve just recently entered the profession and managed to catch a cold in midst of my second billable project(first one was put on ice because of the crisis). Long story goes short. I was good, project needed me to deliver on time so all the sign-offs happened quickly. I loved this company a lot, but then I grew up and decided to lead a team for a while. Offer to do this in a year was not matching to my vision of myself, so I quit.

Love is the answer. Weeks

I’ve thought that I would love to prove myself as a team lead and was suggested to try that in… a year. I’ve found nobody in my home city was ready to give me that straight away, so my next employer happened in a few more years in Odessa.

Thus I had one more excuse to telecommute – visiting my relatives in Kiev(which I didn’t use until the very late). I was working from whichever place I could because I loved the project and because of the time differences (we had folks +8hrs from us in Vladivostok and -10 hrs in San Francisco) and synchronizing with all of them was of major importance to me. Later on I fell in love with a girl from another city spending a few weeks in her place. I can’t say my leaves were appreciated(*wink*), but nobody was firing me while I was bringing the cash in the house.

Months

Because of whatever political reasons we’ve lost the customer and I’ve decided to return to Kiev. Teamleading was thus no longer a valid option(my office was still in Odessa *sigh*), so the company & immediate management was going to lose me.

Accidentally my friend offered me a job supporting an internal project(which was lots of fun as I it made me excited about the sales and related stuff). I’ve decided that it would be fun to become a sales engineer person and I was presented with an opportunity to become a one in… a year(why people are not saying simpler yes/no things?).

So I quit and while interviewing one of my sales engineer friends, I was offered to check out their office and fell in love again.

Years

That last company was luck again and soon I’ll be celebrating my year as a remote person(though, almost quarter of that I was visiting our offices).

I love the people so much that I’m gonna commit to stay in one of the locations for a while. Telecommuting is dead? Long live telecommuting!

Random stuff

I won’t be summarizing anything as the stuff from above is just a story and your actions is what counts towards the result.

I-Have-No-Idea-What-Im-Doing-1

Links

Kiss Your Woman (.com)

Screenshot 2014-12-31 20.35.34Happy New Year and bla-bla-bla, but I have more important matters to address. This this post announces start of (yet another one) project. Me and Olga gonna be fixing my interactions with people desiring a piece of my attention.

Meet www.kissyourwoman.com.

Kind of a logbook

  • Started like an hour before midnight(22:30) on New Year Eve
  • First visitors at 01:30
  • Tried like 4 services generating landing pages. All suck in trial – nice demo of what a premium account can give me : )
  • Bought a domain name for $20 for 2 yrs from godaddy
  • Bought a month of service from kickofflabs.com for $29 :\
  • Total: 4 hours, $49 to start

 

Recap: HR Maverick recruitment training

This Saturday I’ve participated in a recruitment training by Vika Prydatko(also known for her HR-Maverick blog). I was lucky enough to join them just for half of the time(day 2) and as one of the two developer guinea pigs(I can’t remember a single other IT HR event advertising live devs being invited so it was kind of special already).

Disclaimer: I like her as a personality so that well be an influencing factor : )

TLDR: I can summarize the thing as “Recruitment with purpose”.

mrr

 

For a long time I felt like most of the recruitment contacts reaching out to me did that with the pipeline model in their head(e.g. mindlessly spamming more people –> more candidates respond –> more offers accepted –> more bonuses –> more Goa trips).

The training makes me think the situation is not that hopeless – identifying and matching candidates(and companies) needs and core values were the cornerstone of everything. I can confirm that surprisingly this works in longterm – I’m more willing to talk and try projects suggested by recruiters respecting my interests.

Apart from having alive devs(us) to validate / elaborate on the points being made, Vika prepared a few nice practical games : ) Overall it was more of a facilitated discussion with lots of real life cases, so spending the whole day there was easy as a pie(why I never had that in my university? :'( ).

It also made sense to take notes as people were sharing lots of ideas, tricks and models. I loved the training a lot!

A few field notes:

  • The simplest way to make candidate feel better about the company is to suggest a nice sandwich — I never had that experience and imagining that makes me agree 110%
  • Psychotests are ~20-30% valid so relying just on them(or making people spend an hour filling them) is not the most efficient strategy
  • Myers Briggs tests are kind of nice – you can have fun applying that to yourself : )
  • Herzberg motivation theory
  • Spiral dynamics
  • Money dust cartoon
  • Funky “Forgot to feed the cat” notebook
    блокноты_лицо
  • Standard hackneyed interview questions can be reframed into something of a higher meaning: “Why you’d like to work for our company?” –> “From the things I’ve told you about the company so far, which were the most interesting to you?”
  • <3 Some people/companies do propagate interview feedback meaningfully back to a candidate

Learning how to learn :: Bar alone report

Learning how to learn is a funky(and free) course I’ve started recently. Being lean and easy to digest, it doubled number of tricks I know to succeed with new stuff : )

Coursework did not lower my level of excitement, I feel exactly the opposite. I’ll be reporting my experiments to the people as well as will be discovering what are they learning themselves – that naturally fits into my favorite paradigm of project-oriented relationships(or basically doing useful stuff together).

In my most awesome peer assignment ever, I’ll be describing concepts from the course using my Bar Alone Project: I was improving my fluency with having conversations with people I never seen before and here I’ll reflect on the experience.

Stick with a supporting mindset

“Life begins at forty” (c) proverb

You’ve probably seen people being super-easy going and having super nice conversations. Some time ago I’ve learned about introverts and thought I never will be able to talk to people smoothly(at least until I’m forty according to the proverb).

It’s better to have a supporting mindset and the course told me a one. Deliberate learning says that most of the things can be learned by practicing enough(and I think by making enough mistakes).

social skills

My first day was super important in terms of kicking off with the whole adventure. As an engineer, I’ve started with researching existing studies in the field. I was reading a lot about what people can do in a bar, what types of bars are there, movie scenes etc. Although, this strategy helped me a lot in the past, it just delayed me from entering a bar now. Welcome to einstellung – a type of mind trap where by having a particular hammer in my head, I was seeing nails everywhere.

Beat procrastination with something simple

I could have spent ages in this known and pleasant state(you’ve probably heard about the procrastination), but then I’ve decided to kick start myself with something real simple. I was just supposed to get into a bar and just buy myself a drink. No expectations, no strings attached – nothing to worry about. That helped a lot. Generalizing the idea – it’s easier(and more pleasant) to be focused on small step(one at a time) and thus a process. The end product of the multitude of steps will come naturally.

Rinse and repeat

Although, my first experience was really exciting(making me feel like I should party 7 days in a row), better results in learning(and in this case in preserving state of my liver) can be achieved by spacing repetitions of a thing you’re trying to master. Neural pathways take time to be formed and the more you use your newly formed connections, the more persistent they will be. Probably that’s why I remember just nothing from my university – everything was learned just the last moment ^_^

TL;DR: Learning is fun and easy

Spending <10 hours for the course(yay 2x video replay speed!), I learned how to be more productive with learning. I already have 4 additional learnings activities 3 of which(driving, sailing, French) are nicely covered by AnkiWeb / AnkiDroid(basically cards in your phone for spaced repetitions) and time sponsored by the public transit system ^_^

cat_wardrobe

P.S. Yes, I’ve found a date, though that’s a completely different story : )

Bar alone project :: Day 4 – Visit a bar during a working day

So today(Thursday) I visited Uptown, highly recommended by one of my friends. Uptown is a dive bar(meaning for neighbors mostly).

A few bar guides were suggesting that on a working day bars are empty and you can have a nice chat with a bartender. It was not the case for me, maybe Thursday is a day off in San Francisco – who knows?

Also I’ve been there with the intention of trying a formalized(ha-ha, I’m a nerd) socializing process I’ve picked up somewhere on youtube:

  1. Walk around the place
  2. Have eye contacts with people in the bar
  3. Use conversation starters
  4. Don’t stick with the same set of people for too long(you can always return later)

So the log:

  1. Entered and had a walk
  2. No eye contacts at all – everybody in tight groups doing something
  3. $8 tequilla + cider + tip
  4. $1 -> pinball, yay!
  5. 3 newjoiners at the pool -> I can bee 4th
  6. A game, nice chat -> mission accomplished

A few conversation starters:

  1. Off-the-wall stuff(e.g. do you need 4th person for the pool game)
  2. Where are you from(I hear that in first 30 seconds during 99% conversations)
  3. What’s your name / my name is xxx (I’m xxx for some reason does not work well for me – have to reiterate :) )
  4. What you’ve seen so far / what can you recommend
  5. How you’ve met / where do you know each other from

Total: $9

P.S. Uptown itself was the most pleasant experience for me so far – cheap, relaxed people, pool/pinball, music does not interfere with conversations.

uptown

Photo credit goes to noisejockey.