Struggle of a Gen Yer in Software Sales


If you aren’t familiar with Generation Yers or any of their characteristics, I’m going to start with a quick explanation. According to the web, anyone born between the early 1980’s and early 1990’s is given the label “Generation Y”. Those born in the early 1990’s are also known as “Millennials”. As with any generation, Gen Yers have been identified as having certain characteristics that most people born in that generation possess. We’re known for being ambitious, team players, family oriented, impatient and attention seeking, but most of all, we’re known for being tech and web savvy.

Working with StaffStat doesn’t just mean that I call prospects and try to make sales. It also means that I take customer service calls when they come in from staff and users that don’t quite understand how the system works. Some people have forgotten their password and I need to do a simple reset, some aren’t sure how to respond to shift requests via the phone call, text, email or App when they come through, and some don’t understand how to use the system at all. Being a Gen Yer born in 1993, I grew up with technology and I understand it. I don’t like to admit it, but I’m constantly glued to my phone, I watch TV through my xBox, I own an iMac and a Macbook Pro, and I probably have 3-4 iPods laying around in different end-table drawers around my house. I don’t have to call tech support lines to understand how to use my technology and I don’t have to rely on someone else to troubleshoot problems or glitches when they happen.

Being a Gen Yer, I can honestly say that I’ve taken on two of the characteristics that I listed: I am both tech saavy and impatient. Being in the role that I’m in with StaffStat, it’s been quite the learning curve to learn to juggle the two, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Patience is something that I’ve always struggled with. I’m impatient when waiting for things to load, I get angry walking behind someone who walks slower than I do, and I have a tough time driving behind someone who’s “only” going the speed limit. Taking time to be patient and educate users on how to navigate their way through the system and understand how it all works has definitely been something that I’ve had to learn the art of along the way. I’ve never been in a position where I’ve had to really practice patience and understanding, and with this role I have no choice but to accept it, get used to it and be comfortable with it.

If you find yourself struggling with patience in sales or impatience in general, give the following tips a read to help you destress or overcome your impatience:

  1. Take deep breaths. Although I don’t like that this makes me sound like I have major anger issues, it’s usually the thing that calms me down the most. It gives me a second to collect my thoughts and figure out what I’m going to say and/or do next without sounding annoyed or frustrated.
  1. Go outside. Another thing I love to do if I’m feeling impatient or frustrated or stressed out is go outside and sit in the fresh air for a few minutes. Although it doesn’t alleviate the stress as it’s being built up (if you’re on a call for example), it helps release it afterward. 
  1. I remind myself that they genuinely don’t know. When I’m on a call with someone who’s asking for clarification on something that seems simple to me, I have to remind myself that they genuinely don’t know the answer to the question that they’re asking or they wouldn’t be calling me. No one calls into the tech support line to simply give us a hard time (even though it sometimes feels like it).
  1. I force myself to be patient. Rather than rushing into the fast lane or moving to the other side of the hallway in the mall or grocery store, I sometimes force myself to stay in the slow lane or walk behind those that move slower than I do to get used to it. When I do this it’s usually a good reminder that I’m often rushing for no reason!


6 Characteristics of Successful People

Team-Success-SmartTalent.jpgOver the past two years, I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by individuals who I believe have the characteristics needed to be successful. From my experience, I have created a list of what I feel an individual needs in order to successfully reach a goal. The team I work with exhibit these characteristics and so much more.

‘Success is almost dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret to winning.’ ~ Denis Waitley

Drive. Each and every one of our team members has an abundant amount of drive. We are all determined to get to task and do what it takes to reach our goals. Our team is broken down into individual roles and job descriptions; however, we all go the extra mile even if it’s outside of our job description or expectations.

‘Resilience is not what happens to you. It’s how you react to, respond to, and recover from what happens to you.’ ~ Jeffrey Gitomer

Resilience. Just as any business, we have had our successes and our obstacles. However, it never ceases to amaze me how much stronger our team comes out after a setback or a stumbling block. We strategize, problem-solve and come to a solution for every obstacle we come across. Our obstacles, and thus our solutions, make our team and processes stronger.

‘Patience is a key element of success.’ ~ Bill Gates

Patience. We all understand that success takes a good balance of patience and persistence. Patience is valued and found in every interaction within our team, and with our customers. We all have the capacity to accept or tolerate delay or setback without frustration. We all know that reaching goals as set by our strategic plan takes time, persistence and patience.

‘Integrity is doing the right thing. Even when no one is watching.’ ~ C.S. Lewis

Integrity. Having a strong moral compass and having a team that shares similar values are vital to our successes. I work with the most honest team, we are all accountable for our actions and transparent in all of our interactions, whether it is among one another or with our customers. We are strong because of the trust that we have built together as a team.

‘My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style’ ~ Maya Angelou

Passion. If you do not have the passion for what we do, you won’t last long. Passion is a necessary ingredient in what makes our team successful. We all believe in our product and that passion shows through in everything we do; whether it is while talking with prospects, customers, colleagues or partners.

‘Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.’ ~ Helen Keller

Optimism. Some moments can be difficult but always looking forward with a positive attitude is another necessary ingredient in our success as a team and a company. What you put out into the universe is what you’ll get back. By living a positive life you certainly attract positive energy.

Our team is built upon many characteristics; however, today I chose a few that I truly value and look for individuals that I want to surround myself with. Success is almost definite when these six characteristics combine to build a strong team of women.






6 Tips to Make Your Content Pop!


With so many users and businesses on social media these days, it’s extremely easy for your content to get lost in the shuffle. So how do you ensure your content gets more engagement in the form of likes, comments, shares, mentions, retweets, etcetera? Read and execute these tips to make your content pop!

  1. Be refined. Use high quality images. It may seem silly, but the photos you use in your ads can say a lot about your business. Your social media profiles are an extension of your brand. Use appropriate images that are high quality: those that are large, crisp, have a great resolution, and are not pixelated. For a list of free stock photo websites to help in your ad creation, click here. Example: the ad featured below was created for our tech company, StaffStat,  and uses a high resolution photo with a simple string of text. 12006682_1226050957420981_8012150053996153925_o.png
  2. Be authentic. In the majority of my blog posts I have said that you should always be as real as possible in your interactions on social media. People love brands they can relate to and those they feel like they know on a deeper, personal level. Consumers want to know who they’re buying from. When creating ads, choose images that align with your brand. Don’t follow what others are doing because it’s trendy. If you’re falsely representing your brand with the images you use, your followers will notice and it could potentially hurt your relationship with them. In managing the marketing for two companies, I’ve noticed that our followers love seeing content highlighting personal stories, blurbs celebrating our successes, and photos from events our team attends. Try posting content that shines a light on your company, culture, team, values etc. Example: a Facebook post linking to a blog post written by StaffStat’s CEO. It’s been read over 1000 times! Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 3.28.25 PM.png
  3. Be visual. Bright, bold, colourful, and vivid images generally perform better on social media. It’s all about catching your audience’s eye. Using black and white photos with a pop of colour can also create intrigue and stand out among all of the other colourful photos that populate on your followers’ feeds. Example: in this ad, we used a black and white image, with a pop of colour and large, bold text to catch the viewer’s attention.
  4. Be positive. Happiness breeds happiness. I’m sure many of us know that our Facebook feeds can get inundated with content that isn’t necessarily upbeat. Posting images that are light, fun, humorous and make your audience smile will increase the likelihood of your followers sharing your content, enjoying your messaging and your brand, and ultimately buying your products/services. Example: remember WestJet’s Christmas marketing campaign featuring random acts of kindness? It received over 200 billion media impressions and made a lot of people smile!
  5. Be emotive. Our eyes are naturally drawn to images with human faces, especially those that are very emotive, i.e: smiling, shocked, etc. They are also said to perform better on social media than images that are computer generated. Using such images plays on human emotions and allows people to relate to your content. Example: a recruitment ad I created for our company, Plan A Health Care Staffing Solutions features a vibrant background and a very excited nurse! Who wouldn’t want to have the #BestJobEver?13240139_1044782118902420_6873777918039857010_n (1).png
  6. Be flexible. This one’s easy. Don’t constantly be selling and don’t post content of the same type all the time. Switch it up! Post testimonials and ads about your brand, share articles related to your industry, post photos of team outings, and more! Get creative!

There you have it—six tips to build better social media content for your business! Good luck!


Elements of a Marketing Plan

chess-strategyWhether you’re starting your first business or going into your fifth year, developing a marketing plan is an absolutely critical component of the operation and sustainability of your company. Your marketing plan acts as a guide to help the individual responsible for the marketing within your company implement strategies that align with the goals of your business.

At the beginning of each fiscal year, our company has a strategic plan meeting in which all employees attend. We discuss the various functions of the company (growth, operations, financials, etc.) and set goals for the year. We also discuss the steps and tasks needed to take place in order to reach our goals. Marketing plays a pretty significant role in this, so we all brainstorm ides of how to ramp up our business with various marketing strategies! From here, I craft the marketing plan which acts as a living document for the year and helps me, the Marketing Manager, stay accountable in my work; it guides me in understanding which activities must take place, when, and the cost of each.

Creating a marketing plan isn’t difficult, it just takes some time and careful strategizing. If you follow the steps outlined below that I personally use to create marketing plans, you’ll see how simple it can be! Good luck!

  1. Executive Summary: outlines the who, what, where, when, why of your marketing plan; briefly summarizes your entire plan; write this section last!
  2. Company Description: summarizes the history of your company—how it was founded, by whom, your products/services; explains why your business is unique; discusses the growth possibilities.
  3. Mission and Goals: describes your mission and goals of the business (both financial and non-financial).
  4. Core Competencies: what your company does well and how it plans to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.
  5. Situation Analysis: SWOT: strengths and weaknesses (internal factors that affect your business), opportunities and threats (external forces that presently affect/can potentially affect your business).
  6. Competitors: Define the competitors that exist in your market (think big); define their strengths and weaknesses and how you differ from the competition.
  7. Target Market: Define your customers; be specific; look at the demographics and psychographics, their needs, what they value, etc.
  8. The Marketing Mix: the methods you take to get your product/service to market. Consider the following elements:
  • Product Strategy: What is your product/service? What needs does it satisfy? How will you expand your current offering?
  • Distribution Strategy: Where are your products/services currently placed? Where will you expand? How will you get your product/service to customers?
  • Pricing Strategy: What is the value of your product/service to your target market? Price adjustments? Discounts? How will you increase sales?
  • Promotional Strategy: How do you/will you communicate with your customers? How will you get your message across? Think of social media, experiential marketing, media advertising, networking, public relations, etc. Choose strategies that align with your brand. Include approximate costs of each, as well as when each task should occur and other pertinent information.

9. Budget Schedule & Monitoring:

  • Budget: Include specific financial details (you can pull these from your business plan). Calculate the overall costs of implementing each element of your promotional strategy.
  • Schedule: Lay out exactly when each element of your marketing plan will be rolled out, as well as the execution of each element. Create a chart listing each month, and insert every single marketing activity/task that will take place throughout the year in the appropriate month as well as the cost associated with each. This will help you determine how much money you will be spending on marketing on a monthly (or even weekly) basis. Check out this example I just created:Screen Shot 2016-09-20 at 3.44.43 PM.png
  • Monitoring: List how you will keep tabs on each element of your plan. How will you improve/adjust when necessary? How will you know if your efforts are successful? What is your ROI (return on investment)?



The Dangers of Overthinking


I am guilty of this. I am working on it, but I have to admit that I am completely guilty of overthinking many things. I will overthink a decision, over-analyze a situation and reflect on an event and conceptualize various ways it could have been approached differently. I actually found myself overthinking this blog topic! Now, I do think that some amount of well thought-out and well-planned processes are necessary, however, balance is key.

As I work through my overthinking and find a solid balance, I want to share what I feel are the dangers of overthinking.

  1. Overthinking can cause you to ‘create’ stories in your head. As you overthink and analyze a situation, conversation or event, you may start to create a story in your head based on your individual perception. Everyone has their own perception and perspectives alter from person to person. After much analysis, sometimes we assume we know what will happen if we ask a question we are afraid to ask or we perceive the tone of an individual as harsh when in fact these are the scenarios we believe to be true. When we create these stories of what we believe as true we lose facts. It is best to view a situation with facts, eliminate emotion and assumption and if you do not feel you have all the facts, it may be wise to communicate with others to ensure you are understanding.
  1. Overthinking is time consuming. Sometimes I didn’t even realize how much time I have spent on something that I could have easily found the answer to by using my resources. Now, before I waste too much time on something, I bounce my thoughts off of a well trusted friend, co-worker or mentor. Use your resources; confide in another who will not only help with your thought process but will share their perception as well.
  1. Overthinking keeps you from living in the present. If we spend too much time worrying about a past decision, we remove ourselves from the present and disrupt our focus. Being mindful of the present is something I am working very hard at mastering. If we overanalyze the ‘what if’s’ of a past or future event, we are not being mindful of the present. Again, careful planning for the future is necessary as long as it is kept healthy and not causing worry. Besides, what is the point to worrying about something that cannot be changed or that you no longer have control over?
  1. Overthinking drains your energy. Overthinking and worry leads to stress and stress drains us of our valuable energy. In today’s busy world, energy is just as valuable to me as time. If my energy is depleted on things that are not priority or necessary, I am unable to maintain my focus on the stuff that matters. I have learned to not let petty or dramatic conversations or events take me away from what is important. Past conversations, decisions, errors, etc. no longer need your energy. Constant re-visiting of past situations will certainly drain energy needed for your present. Be mindful and always focus on the moment and and always look forward.

I do feel very strongly that thinking, analyzing and problem solving are necessary and are key to making a successful decision. However, keeping it all balanced is just as important. Next time you find yourself needlessly wandering back to the past, being consumed by something you cannot control or change, re-visit my blog post and remind yourself of what is worthy of your time and energy and what isn’t.






Crush the Creativity Coma


I consider myself a forward thinking and innovative business owner and my focus is not just on keeping up with the trends in my industry, but on leading them.  Dreaming up better, faster and more unique ways of doing things is a big part of that process, which takes work.  To stay tapped into my best creative self and free my mind to dream big, I’ve implemented the following rituals into my daily routine:

Get plenty of rest: GO.TO. BED.  Listen to your body.  If you’re fighting to stay awake, one more hour of work won’t help you, but sleep will.  Studies have proven that people who get 7 hours or more of sleep are the most productive.

Laughter:  It is the ‘best medicine’ for a reason!  I like to laugh often, long, and many times a day.  I simply love to laugh!  In the good times and through the bad times, it is a game changer when you can stay positive through anything.

Relax:  This isn’t sleep…this is doing NON-WORK related things that you really enjoy.  My weekdays are extremely busy but my weekends are focused on my little family, friends and making memories.  It can be a dinner party, participating in our local family skate or date night with my partner.  Whatever it is, my goal is to be in the moment, which means putting work (and the phone) away for the duration.

Listen to audio motivation, inspiration and innovation:  I listen to something that moves me every single day.  Some days it a 15 minute TED Talk and other days it’s a 1.5 hour webinar with Brendon Burchard.   The point is that I want to be motivated every day and audio for me is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to do that.   Some of my other favourites are Gary Vaynerchuk and Dr. Brene Brown.

Surround yourself with like-minded people:  Ideas breed more ideas – simply put.  When you surround yourself with happy, positive people who have goals and who are doing things to charge their life, you have no choice but to be charged up too.  Surrounding myself with people who like to deliberate ideas or discuss solutions is my way of keeping myself excited for what’s to come!

Get out:  A change in scenery keeps me stimulated.  I start my day in my home office and each day I make my way to the Plan A office.  I also use cafés, restaurants, and events as places to connect with people, have meetings or just to get caught up on my own reading.  For me, it keeps things interesting!

Nutritious Eating:  Energy plays a big part in my level of creativity so I am conscientious of what I put in my body.  Lean meats, protein, fresh fruit and vegetables make up my daily choices.  Eating for energy takes discipline but it works!

These are some of the things I do foster creative thinking.  Tapping into your creative side takes practice, but once you do you will express one of the greatest qualities that you have.   When you allow your creativity to prosper, you will find that it’s easier to do exactly what you love to do, and that will excite and challenge you every day.  A bonus is that it inspires the people around you to tap into their creativity as well!



How Far We’ve Come


Oh, the difference one year can make! I still remember booking our first booth for our first conference last year at this time. Actually, we almost didn’t get a booth at all. I was unaware of the fact that we should have booked almost 3 months before. Some begging, strategizing and admitting to our mistake led us to a sponsorship that allowed us a spot on the exhibitor floor (one might actually admit that it ended up landing us the best spot). Up to that point, we had no idea what our first conference would have in store for us.

We walked in to the Toronto based conference knowing 3 things:

  1. We would be a unified team (from what we wore to the language we spoke).
  2. We would take advantage of every networking opportunity and attend everything available to us as exhibitors (the evening gala, the hospitality suites, the AGM…).
  3. We would come back to the office after 3 days of networking and schmoozing and follow up on every lead and every bite derived from every conversation.

I wrote an entire blog following our attendance last year but, in a nutshell, as conference newbies, here’s what didn’t know:

  1. Vendors who think that conference hours end when the last delegate leaves the vendor floor are wrong. We learned, early on, that the opportunity for meaningful relationship building continues on… into the wee hours of the night.
  2. Even if a delegate tells you they have no decision making power, talk to them and show them what it is you do. We probably gave demos to over 80 people from one corporation who repeatedly told us we would have to get the nod from Corporate. While the decision maker never came to our booth (although we tried to get him there), the corporation has since admitted that they always know when we attend a trade show because everyone who sees our product calls corporate to make a request to have our product in their home. Those calls reinforced the relevance and the validity of our product’s offering which opened the door for a meeting with the key people in their organization.
  3. When the delegates are in session, mingle with fellow vendors. By letting them know that you’re there, you’re giving way to opportunities for partnership, advice from those with experience and again, meaningful relationship building.

We are, at this very moment, preparing to attend the same conference. The difference, this time, is:

  1. We’ve been nominated for an Excellence in Innovation Award, giving the gala a whole new meaning for us. Last year, we took note of the nominees and winners and made mention as well as congratulated the winners the following day when they presented themselves at our booth. This year, we have that to look forward to as well as the potential to be recognized by one of only 2 memberships in our sector for the idea we’ve developed.
  2. While last year, we were the ‘Poster Board Sponsor’, we were admittedly unaware of the impact of that sponsorship opportunity. Our name was everywhere on the tradeshow floor and our logo got some recognition to say the least. This year, not only are we the sponsor, but we applied for and were invited to present our own poster board.
  3. We’ve been invited to present at the Innovator’s Den, a new offering at this year’s conference. I don’t know when the last time is that you were afforded the opportunity to have the attention of and speak to 300 prospects for 3 minutes but that’s exactly what’s coming our way.

As a collective, our team works hard and we’ve certainly come a long way! We’ve gone from newbies to nominees, from sponsors to participants and from a virtual unknown to a highlighted product on the conference’s largest stage. The most valuable lesson learned last year; seize every opportunity thrown your way. You never know where the simple spark of a conversation on the trade show floor might lead!