OKUYUKASHI:  too classy to be hidden

Okuyukashi is one of the main features that make us admire the Japanese Culture so much.
It’s all about attitude: it means refined and graceful, and also modest and reserved, but also cultivated….

Why am I talking about that?
Because recently I ran into a young lady, an entrepreneur who attended my Sale’s posture webinar for FAJ (Femmes Actives au Japon) last February in Tokyo. She put me on to the webinar’s main topic, the importance of discovering Customer’s deepest motivation in way to propose him the most suitable solution through our product or service.
We agreed that Japanese salespeople, despite a most considerate sense of welcome, are commercially quite reserved compared to others.
According to her words they can afford it, but only because their products look so refined, cute, rare and meticulously wrapped. So, no need to sell, promote or persuade. Everyone wants to own them!
So, I challenged her:
->  what if the Customer hesitates, and confused, finally decides not to buy immediately, and after all buys something different from someone else?

->  what if he doesn’t want to take a risk, not knowing what exactly the content of the beautiful box is, and he decides to opt for something more familiar? Especially as Japanese prefer to stay away from risk-taking.

->   what if he finds the product too expensive because no one told him about its finest ingredients, its ecological way of production, about the time its manufacturing requires, or its incredible founder’s story worth sharing?

We found ourselves wondering how many more little boxes would be sold if a hint of narrative was used to rekindle the value of the product, by taking the customer’s imagination to the origins of the little matcha plum cake, or to Kyoto, where the chirimen traditional fabric is made, or to the family workshop where the craftsman carved the lacquer bowl that the customer is weighing up with admiration and care.
An to top it all, can you imagine the Customer’s delight by sharing his shopping experience and the stories he was impressed with?
Storytelling doesn’t help you only to show value in your customer’s eyes. It helps to CREATE DESIRABILITY, which amplifies the joy of owning the product or service, and most importantly, brings along many new Customers!
“Pushy”, “persuasive”, “influencing” are certainly not part of the okuyukashi vocabulary, but “Storytelling” certainly is!


Expressing value and talking benefits, connecting emotionally with the customer through storytelling, and increasing the rate of new customers’ recruitment, not to mention the challenge of bringing back old ones, is the ambition of any brand aiming for longevity.
I am a Sales Performance Consultant, and I would be glad to assist You, your Brand, and your sales Teams on your way to Success.

Create a climate of confidence by being always ready to receive CUSTOMER'S FEEDBACK

As customers, we all know that customer care is key.
Any brand would like a trustful and loyal customer, who is also pleased to 📣 communicate about our brand, and about the pleasure he has working with us, or buying from us.         
Unfortunately, that’s not so simple!

Because it requires 𝐏𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐄, 𝐄𝐌𝐏𝐀𝐓𝐇𝐘, and 𝐓𝐈𝐌𝐄.
And in our always-on western world, devoting time is a privilege. To others, but also to ourselves…

So when in western society the purchase often marks the end of the exchange between the brand and the client, in Japan  the purchase is the point where the story between the two of them is about to start!

In Japan, although Time is perceived and managed differently, the importance of the relationship in business is even more significant:
Follow-ups, regular visits to check if everything is going well, and an attribution of a privileged main contact, are opportunities to generate proximity… and possibly un upset 😉.

A traditional way to show appreciation, but also strengthen and maintain relationships within Japanese businesses and between corporate partners and clients is the OCHUGEN: a Japanese summer gift-giving tradition.

It happens not just once, but twice a year; in July (OCHUGEN) and December (OSEIBO). 
The present can be almost anything consumable. In summer period we find a wide range of fancy looking snacks in pre-wrapped gift boxes. They tend to offer something traditional from their region. One's region is closely related to his identity, so it makes the gift even more special. And that's another great opportunity to get feed-back!

You see? Showing attention, remembering someone’s personal history, his taste, or his centres of interest, are details that foster the relationship and offer to Japanese business partners what they cherish the most, 𝐓𝐑𝐔𝐒𝐓. 

On the other hand, avoiding customers’ proximity, and by extension their feed-back, we turn our back to a potential improvement of our product or service, to additional sales, to a long-term loyalty, and … to REFERRALS !

𝘋𝘪𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘤𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘴 6X 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘦𝘹𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘴? 
𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘢 𝘚𝘢𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘗𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘵, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘐 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘣𝘦 𝘨𝘭𝘢𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘠𝘰𝘶, 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘉𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘥, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘛𝘦𝘢𝘮𝘴 𝘰𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘚𝘶𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴.

The Magic Potion in the Decision-making Process, the STORYTELLING

Last week I went on a Mystery Shopping mission to Omotesando, one of the leading fashion areas of Tokyo. What is it about?

Appointed by the parent company we pretend to be a customer to estimate the customer experience in a retail store.
More than the cleanliness and layout of the shop, the reason that led me there was the audit of the sales teams’ sales posture:

* 100% DEDICATED or not?
* advise in case of HESITATION or not?
* is OBJECTION a blocking point?
* bold as to CLOSE THE SALE?
* agile to EXPRESS THE VALUE of the product?
* nimble to AROUSE THE DESIRABILITY for product & brand?

…and my favorite:
* Generous enough to let the Customer leave the store with a FASCINATING STORY TO SHARE?

So as not to miss anything, I was accompanied by an intercultural consultant Midori Maki Larrieu, whom I warmly thank, because a deep understanding of the Japanese traits in the sales speech was essential, of course!

To get what I was longing for:
MAGIC, BEAUTY, VALUE, CULTURAL ESCAPE, AMAZEMENT, HERITAGE, BENEFITS, I had to use my curiosity and the most scatterbrained objections.

At the end I’ve got some, which proved that salespeople know their product, but unfortunately they keep it to themselves, while there is so much to tell and SHARE !
Storytelling is key in Sales.
Likewise, in the land of the enviable MONOZUKURI craftsmanship spirit, the one that brings admiration to foreigners' eyes and pride to Japanese ones, storytelling would be the most incredible magic potion. So what else than a hint of  MONOGATARI narrative tradition to succeed?

Selling without narrative is like selling by hiding the most enchanting and valuable part of the product, the part that EXPRESSES ITS REAL VALUE AND SWEEPS AWAY CUSTOMER’S FEAR AND HESITATION. 

Why is the Call center experience the richest Sales experience?

A few days ago, I got stuck on the freeway with the car broken down. So I contacted my insurance and the assistance, two contact centres whose mission is to sell and assist, to get me in a safer place.

Later, relating my experience I collected some spontaneous remarks:

"It's such a tough job, I could never do it!"
“Once back home I spent my evening crying… I gave up after 2 days.”


With or without the phone, selling may be difficult for several reasons:
- unawareness of who we are selling to,
- apprehension of not knowing how to respond to   our customer,
- fear of objections and complaints,
 and few others.

 Those reasons are always the result of :
- an insufficient commercial training
- scanty sales techniques
- a lack of basic notions of customer psychology
- salesperson preconceptions and assumptions
- a clumsy communication

By receiving an appropriate commercial training, the salesperson will overcome fear and will appear as an impactful sales professional, who is trusted and whom we enjoy talking to ... regularly.

In situation of hesitation, anxiety, and fear of making a bad deal, customers all dream of:

* a CUSTOMER-CENTRIC SALESPERSON, able to identify their motivations and needs to the point of convincing, and above all reassuring them

* an AFFIRMED ADVISER, able to admit that he does not know, but will inquire to provide them with an exhaustive answer

* a SELF-AWARE SALES PROFESSIONAL, able to rejoice in an objection, like an effective sign of customer’s interest

If you dream of impactful brand ambassadors, give them the KEYS TO THE PROFESSION  and YOUR CONFIDENCE.

But why is it the richest sales experience?
Because it is a tête-à-tête. There is only their voice, with their attitude and personality.
Each of them can be a star-performer: the shy, the talkative, the funny, the serious, the smooth talker, the sensitive, the directive, the dreamer, ...

All these qualities, reunited by a solid Commercial training will become the major asset of your brand.

So don’t let them believe that Sales is just for few lucky ones…

Without investing in our sales force, we cannot expect outstanding results.


You remember, we already talked about the cheapest way to show consideration to our client.
SHOWING INTEREST by ASKING TARGETED QUESTIONS is indeed the most efficient and the cheapest way.
Once customer’s motivations understood the salesperson can propose the most suitable solution and therefore personalise AND can also show that she/he really cares about his client and their long-term relations.

What can we say about Japan?
Paradoxically, in Japan, the country where to serve is a mark of respect, it is quite different.
The customer is hardly known, but the service he receives … it’s an art.

The delicate attention and kindness in the service is close to perfection:  it is the well renowned “OMOTENASHI”.
It consists of a SUBTLE DISCRETION and HUMILITY, blended with ANTICIPATION.
The idea is to foresee the expectations of the customer before he expresses them himself.
It is the underlying idea of the OMOTENASHI service of excellence.

The OMOTENASHI culture of customer experience is the product of the hospitality culture, and it is an omnipresent posture in Japan. 
So, in Japan one hardly asks. He anticipates! And thus avoids the slightest risk of being intrusive.... 
Balance The two cultures are quite different on this topic, it seems?
Indeed, they are…
But both can borrow some traits from each other:
When we ask questions to our clients, it is from the professional’s point of view. Absolutely not to meddle in their lives or the confidential part of their business. 
It concerns strictly their need or their problem they came to us with… 
It makes it much easier to understand and resolve. 

In hospitality, especially among brands that aim to offer un unparalleled customer experience, anticipation and amazement are key.
And when we know the customer, it is much easier even to anticipate!
It’s time saving and it is almost impossible to screw up!

To personalize means to adjust to client’s deepest motivation. And every client wants to be understood and feel important!
It means going the extra-mile in an already excellent service.
And finally:
What do the 2 types of customer consideration have in common?
The genuine interest for the Client and his long-term satisfaction.

What opposes them?
The level of subjection to Time. 
While the first aims to be quick and rapidly productive, the second seems not troubled by time constraints. And here lies another difference, the difference of time perception: while the first is constantly heading to the future, the second fully enjoys the present moment.


I am a Sales Performance Consultant, and I would be glad to go the extra-mile with You and your Teams, towards the most unparalleled customer experience.



I have never thought about the value of time so much as since I came to Japan.
The difference in the time perception obsesses me…
So, that’s why this nth digression about time?

There are situations, and no matter the part of the world, where 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞. ⏱

Yesterday morning, I took the car to pick up my husband at the Haneda airport.
At one of those huge crossings, where you have time to read a chapter of your current book, I checked my mobile phone and I found this short and explicit message:

So, deception, fear, anger, plenty of unpleasant emotions overwhelmed me!
While my husband experienced absolutely none of them.
How come?

At his arrival at Haneda, there was an airline staff waiting for Mr. Langlois, with his name on the sign. He was informed that his suitcase was accidentally forgotten by the airline at Frankfurt airport, but he should not be afraid, because the luggage will be charged on the Friday's flight, and delivered the next day, before noon. He would just have to fill in the form upon arrival and they would take care of all the rest.

So, what swept away all his negative emotions?

𝐓𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐜𝐫𝐮𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐢𝐧 𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐬. Informing the customer before he gets the facts it’s an extremely agile method: it shows to the customer that the company is aware of the incident, but organised after all, and has apparently everything under control.
In the meantime, it avoids a bad surprise at the carousel, where the fatigue of such a long flight would increase customer’s negative emotions.
𝐌𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐚 𝐥𝐨𝐭 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐟 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐜𝐤𝐥𝐲.

The best remedy is to explain honestly. The customer likes being kept informed about how did it happen and how things are going to evolve. That makes him feel respected ➡ 𝐑𝐄𝐒𝐏𝐄𝐂𝐓  is an expression of ourselves and our Values.

After an explanation and an assurance the customer hears the apology much better, and is also more likely to believe it!

#explanation of the steps to follow
The customer is assured, knows how to behave and knows that he won’t have to put up with major constraints anymore.

The luggage will be delivered directly to customer’s home, just after landing of the Friday’s flight. 

𝐈𝐟 𝐜𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐲 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝, 𝐚 𝐛𝐨𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐬 𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐛𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐬 𝐜𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐫 𝐥𝐨𝐲𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐬; 𝐚𝐬 𝐰𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫 𝐭𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐜 𝐨𝐟 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧.

Someone said that ideas come by walking.  

It would seemingly also help us better inhabit the world. Our mind is on availability for ideas and solutions that may come. Walking also allows us to leave wounds and prejudice behind… Such movement lightens us up.
This should have something to do with the famous “hindsight” that allows us to get things into perspective.
Why am I talking about this? During my recent ascent of Mount Fuji, I shifted perspective. I realized that looking down everything was so tiny, preoccupations much lighter - small knots that we will be certainly able to untie once back down.
What shifts those unexpected circumstances in troubles, are #emotions!
When we work with people, like in Sales, emotions often arise, bother the Salesperson-Customer relation, which quite often turns into an ego dance battle. Especially in #Complaints Management.
Why don’t we like complaints?
Because our clients are saying that they don’t like something about us.
And both parts’ speech is suddenly charged with emotions. You see, the famous dance battle…
All at once huge psychological blocks raise and the salespeople are suddenly struggling to hear the complaint. To mask their feelings, they come up with “passable” reasons, like the organization, its policies, its management, the colleagues…
But what is a Complaint actually?
Complaints are statements about client’s expectations that have not been met. BUT they are also a feedback process that can help organizations swiftly and inexpensively reach them.
Here’s another good news: all we should do is focus on the content of the complaint, and not whether the complaint is delivered in an acceptable way. We need to understand not only its surface, but also its deepest sense. Why?
Because with understanding comes acceptance!
There’s something more we should not underestimate: a client that takes time to complain is at the end a sympathizer, if not, he would have just walked away.
By separating the emotions of being blamed, from the content of the complaint, and the clients’ disappointment, we are already further than halfway!
The other half is solving the problem about our service or product, learn from the clients’ reporting, and improve.

So, let’s make a step back and see the complaint as a common part of Sales, an inherent part of the partnership, and let’s keep in mind that the attack is not personal.
But what we can do personally to solve the disagreement can be a huge win for Ourselves, our department, and our brand!
Effective complaint handling is a powerful source of positive #word of mouth, because nowadays in the digitalized world we inhabit customer personal recommendations carry much more weight than advertising campaigns.

Price Objections

Storytelling works so well because it connects us to inner patterns, those generated by our thirst for fairy tales, back in our childhood. 🎏
It permits us to imagine, to see and even to hear.
And besides, it's so easy and good to share!

Storytelling is like a waltz: when the storyteller tells the story, the listener takes those words and adds his own images and emotions. And both are carried away...

But there’s a condition: first of all we need to find out what kind of story to tell, and for that we need to discover our Customer and his deepest motivation to buy.

Storytelling, more particularly in sales, helps us to express the value of a service or product in the eyes of our customer, and enables us to #personalize: every customer wants to be unique, treated like a special one, buying an exceptional product.

In short, storytelling is reassuring!
And if we consider fear as the N.1 reason for not buying, we know what we have to do…

A brief example WITH and WITHOUT #storytelling, to better understand:

In Tokyo, during a Mystery Shopping in an Italian luxury ready-to-wear fashion store, I was surprised to notice in the window display few purses in unexpected colours. 

My interpreter friend, whispered to me in a slightly skeptical tone that she would never buy these purses from them, since they are exactly the colors of the competing French brand!

So I asked her to express it as such to the sales assistant, so that we could see how she reacted to an objection.

It was quite amazing: the young woman wasn’t offended by it, it did not destabilise her either, and she informed us casually that we were talking about the permanent collection and that those 4 colors were inspired by the stone of Rome, the earth of Siena, the sky of Florence and the sea of ​​Capri. 😳

Not only did the objection do nothing to her, but she had just served us a hint of Storytelling… despite herself.
I was left speechless. Such things must not be kept quiet, young Lady! 😱

The 4 purses suddenly had another value in our eyes. 
It was no longer about a little too classic 4 purses, in faded greys, blues, beiges and browns…
Do you notice the difference?

When you navigate in B2C or B2B, storytelling allows you to visualise, to engage, value, reassure and make the benefits of the product observable!

Storytelling adds value to products and services, adds a touch of magic and moves us elsewhere, in the middle of a scenery, naturally.

Once taken on such a trip, would you object about the price?


Why don’t we like complaints?
Because our clients are saying that they don’t appreciate something about us (i.e. about our brand).

For customers it means that employees, more particularly those who are eye-to-eye or ear-to-ear with, are to blame when there is a problem with their product or service. And what happens most of the time?

😨The staff becomes defensive and tends to blame the company’s policies, the management and even the customer!
🤬 In front of rude customers employees develop a negative attitude.

𝐀𝐠𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 is a response to a feeling of insecurity. This attitude is basically a difficulty in welcoming and managing one's emotions which are translated consequently into gestures and words.

And when the Customers notice that they are treated with rudeness and suspiciousness while complaining, they become over-defensive, nervous or, even worse, go away without saying anything to the company… but tell 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰!
🥺But in that case the company does not have any chance to defend itself.

🌹SOLUTION:  Customers-facing staff should learn to shift in perception and attitude about the role and benefit of a Complaint.
We must 𝐟𝐨𝐜𝐮𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐬, and not whether the complaint is delivered in a gracious way or not.

There a many 𝐬𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐬 of an effective #complaintsmanagement:

🌟 Complaints are a genuine feedback process that helps companies to adjust and improve their products or service in an inexpensive way

🌟 An excellent Complaints management lowers advertising expenses; there’s almost no better publicity than an enthusiastic #wordofmouth nowadays… 

So, let’s ask ourselves few things:

  • What is our organization’s opinion about complaints, complainers and how do we talk about them?
  • Is our face-to -ace or ear-to-ear staff trained to respond to customer’s complaints, and solve them?
  • Are they at least trained to acknowledge the complaint in a proper way and give a good first impression to a disappointed customer?
  • Is our employee empowered enough, or is already considering the idea of quitting as soon as possible?

By the way, did you know complainers are more likely to remain loyal customers after they complained?
So, let Customers know we value them!