Gratitude: The Foundation of Abundance

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“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

~Eckhart Tolle

805 million people continue to struggle with hunger every day,”and I just opened my refrigerator to shelves of plenty…I’m grateful!

A recent walk through the halls of the 9/11 Memorial brought sacrifice to a level I’ve never before experienced…I’m thankful!

Lunch with a friend I haven’t seen for several months brought back great memories and reminded me that there are people around who take a genuine interest in others…I’m blessed!

This Thanksgiving week is a time when it comes natural to acknowledge all that makes us grateful. Now imagine a world where more people like us look for things to be grateful for beyond the Thanksgiving week.  Join me and thousands of others in completing a combined total of 2983 acts of compassion, gratitude and service .

As you do, pay attention to how your acts of gratitude impact your daily life. When gratitude is part of your daily routine, you’ll come to appreciated the abundant life your already living.

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”Albert Schweitzer

What acts of compassion, gratitude, and service you will perform? Post your thoughts here.

Positioned To Earn New Clients

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Have you ever accepted a business card with good intentions only to lose them to some black hole? It’s common knowledge that good intentions are simply good intentions. Without a clearly defined process and plan, you’ll soon discover that someone else is winning the business that was meant to be yours.

Rather than stuff great business cards in a place where you’ll forget them, create a well-defined sales-process that positions you as the go-to industry leader when potential clients are most ready and willing to invest in your services. A systematic process makes it possible for you to consistently follow-up, and it positions you as the valuable resource that you are.

A sales-process that includes consistent, value-added follow-up makes you more memorable to potential clients, allows you to educate them, and helps them see and experience your businesses culture long before they invest money in doing business with you. Through a process like this, potential clients get to know you, your values, and your way of approaching business. You become the trusted advisor/expert before you meet to ask for the sale. People are more likely to do business with someone they know, like and trust.

What would it mean for a potential client say to you,

“I have plans to use a service like yours later in the year and when I’m ready, I know exactly how to contact you. You do a great job of staying front and center of my mind by the way you stay in touch with me! I read everything you send my way, thank you!!”

Wouldn’t that be a compliment to you and your business? That’s the power of a well planned sales-process in action.

Are you positioned to be top of mind with potential clients the day they’re ready to buy? What about when they have a bad experience with your competitor and suddenly they’re actively pursuing a replacement?

The person who is top of mind, most familiar, most liked, and most trusted will be the person they likely turn to next. That person must be you. Position yourself for success and enjoy the ride!

What do you think?  Share your comments here.

The Buying Process

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I recently made a call to a particular business to place an order only to be told that they would need to call me back with an exact quote, their vendor was gone for the day. Satisfied with the response, I trusted the process would work. Three days later, with no return phone call, I purchased the product from a competitor simply because this businesses process failed me.

What I’m learning is that we most often buy people and processes over products and price.

Think about it. You decide to purchase a product or service, and with all things being equal, the factors that compel you to buy are most often either the person doing the selling or the person’s process.

A business owner recently told the story of getting quotes from four vendors before making a decision to purchase. This person wanted to buy from a particular vendor because they were a personal friend; however, there was a problem. This friend’s business had not given a quote and was taking an unusually long time to get back in touch.

On the other side, there were other less known vendors who had followed processes making them appear efficient and eager to do business. The competitor’s quote was in, and this business owner was struggling with what to do. Not wanting to give up on the personal friend, this business owner was at the point of being swayed by the competitor’s processes.

Think about your own buying experiences. Have you ever bought a product simply because you felt like you could trust the company since their people or their processes were efficient, timely, and as they promised?

Share your thoughts with us. We’d love to hear if you agree or disagree with this premise and why.

 

No Time to Develop Relationships

Frustrated Businesswoman

“I do not have time to develop relationships with others…” 

The words so surprised me that I had to read them a second and third time to make sure I was reading them correctly. Must be the words of a disgruntled person who wants to be left alone, right? Well, not exactly. Read on.

“What I am looking for are people with immediate needs or people who will need my services in the next month or so. Unfortunately, I do not have time to develop relationships with others who may be a source of business years down the road.”

Reading these words, I thought this could have been me if I hadn’t taken some strategic and decisive steps to guard against such thinking.

“I am looking for people with immediate needs…” 

Translation?  Desperation. “I need real business today, I need it now.” A wake up call for us all. In the race to grow our business, to make more sales, and to meet more goals, we too live with the danger of slipping into desperate thinking that will reveal itself as undue pressure in the next client meeting.

While it’s important that we close as many sales as possible, it’s more important to realize that we’re leading potential clients on a journey that is meant to help them know us, like us, and trust us in order to be ready to buy from us.

“Unfortunately I do not have time…” 

Without systems that allow us to automate the selling process and educate potential clients 24/7, none of us will have the time to reach, engage, and nurture new clients. Instead, the people we meet will fall through the cracks like seed falling on stone. Buyers today want to explore their possibilities, they want to learn about the best solutions, and they want to do it all at times convenient for them.

In her post, “Buyer Behavior Helps B2B Marketers Guide the Buyer’s Journey,” Lori Wizdo says, B2B marketers must nurture prospects for months or years before they turn into sales opportunities.

Customers will engage with marketers who meet their needs – their changing needs – for different information and options during the buying journey. Marketers who continue to “go to customer” with product-centric campaigns and offers risk becoming irrelevant.

“Who may be a source of business years down the road…” 

Simply put, this statement creates the very problem this writer has today. Taking a short-term today approach will leave us wishing for buyers days, months and years down the road.

“The paramount shift from 1:1 marketing that took place between a sales rep and a buyer has gone by the wayside. By the time the client lands at your doorstep, the process has long been underway,” Daniel Newman, Content Is The New Sales Call.

So what’s the solution to this dilemma?

1. Come to grips with the fact that sales is a journey and not a one time decision.

Buyers are reading what we write, they are listening to what we say on many different platforms, and they are taking all those things into consideration when making their buying decision. Are you creating content that positions you as the expert in your field of knowledge?

2. Create systems that allow you to personally engage with potential and current clients.

Systems position us for growth both in sales and in reach. With the best systems in place, you’ll  remove the burden of worrying about where you are in the sales process. You’ll know at a glance. And your systems will free up your time through the gift of automation.

Do you have the time you need to focus on the people and activities that bring you new clients and drive your sales?

3. Position your business for sales and growth over the long term.

With a great Customer Resource Management system you’ll be able to create a process of client engagement that respects the clients journey and welcomes them to engage with you on their own terms. And when they engage, it’s something to celebrate. Do you have clearly defined processes that respect your clients’ journey and allows them to engage with you and your sales team for the long haul?

Take the pressure off yourself and your sales team. Create systems and processes that allow you to engage clients in a journey that is respect-filled, thoughtful, and strategic. Building positively into clients for years to come will assure you have a business for years to come.

By the way. The writer of the letter is a business owner.  Are you ready to buy today? ;)

 

Act Decisively

action speaksOver the years I’ve found myself attracted to decisive people who get things done and make things happen. Yet I haven’t always lived as that kind of person until I took the time to think it through.

I discovered that I was hesitant to act because…

  • I was afraid something bad would happen. I thought I would fail.  I thought it would be a mistake. Then I realized that I was focused on and expecting something negative to happen. This was no way to live, so I worked daily to put that mindset aside.
  • I knew that to act would create more work, require more effort, and affect change. Yet that’s what I really needed for the good of my business and my personal life.
  • I wanted to take time to “think it over.” And guess what I found out? I seldom gave another thought to the idea I said I wanted to think over. That was an excuse not to act, and that was crazy.

Analyzing my actions got me so fed up with my crazy lines of reasoning that I drew my line in the sand and said, “No more.” From that time forward, I vowed to ACT DECISIVELY every day. I intentionally sought out the people, ideas, and solutions that changed the course of my business. Today, it’s my habit to consider my very best options, then to act quickly in saying yes to them.

Here are the biggest lessons I learned in all of this: No decision has ever been irreversible, even when it was wrong. And no decision has been  life-threatening! As a matter of fact, just the opposite has been true. My decision to act decisively, to quickly say yes to the best people, ideas, and solutions always propels my business forward, positively impacting my personal and my business life.

In business, I’ve found  the courage to act decisively from having systems and tools that consistently work in ways that produce measurable results beyond what I ever imagined. And now I have the privilege of training other sales people and business leaders to create their own set of customized sales systems. Together, we are putting processes in place that make it hard for others to ignore us.

My courage to say YES, to act decisively, to put systems in place that I work each day is resulting in repeated comments like…

“Thank you for remembering me in the busyness of work and life. I want to move forward with the project.”  

“Thank you for thinking of me and keeping me in the loop…I’ll be there.”

“I’ve read everything you’ve been writing, and I need what you have to offer.  Let’s get started…”

As a business owner and sales professional, I’m grateful that responses like these are becoming more my norm.

If you had buying responses like these coming into your business on a regular basis, would it make a difference?

Hoping to make more sales without a clearly defined and measurable plan will no longer cut it. This is your time to make a decision and get moving. You, your business and those you care most about need you to stop putting off decisions and act. Your employees are waiting for you. Future customers are waiting for you. You are waiting for you. Get moving! Not one person will loose their life when you decide to take a courageous step for the good of your business. The worst that can happen is that you may be out of some time and a few dollars. Is that too great of a risk to take?

What does your business most need today? Your actions determine your outcomes.  If you need someone to partner with you so that you act decisively, contact me.  Whatever you decide to do, do something good for yourself and for your business. Act decisively. And when you do, you’ll join me in the tribe of, “I’m glad I did!”

Sales Is About Creating Value

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There is always someone looking to buy products and services, so the question we need to ask ourselves is, “What moves a person to buy from me?” A primary reason people buy from you is value. Value is the tipping point to be seriously considered.

Value is difficult to define, especially as it is evaluated personally by the buyer. Value is found as you walk in the shoes of your buyers, identify with their challenges, then solve their challenges with a great buying experience.

Every day people are buying, but the challenge is to create a valuable buying experience where it’s clear that we care enough to truly help others for their sake, and not for the sake of making a sale. Where we care enough to strategically customize a solution that meets customers real needs. Where we intentionally build a great trust-building buying experience from start to finish.

The day you decide to build value into your selling process, that’s the day you’ll find your thinking and your approach shift from how you can sell to how you can help others and make a difference.

When sales systems are implemented that make it possible for a salesperson to create intentional value from the start of the process to the winning of referrals from satisfied customers, everyone wins. With a sales process that’s understood, measured, rewarded, and well lead, value is created.

Leave a comment below and let me know what you’re doing to create value for others today.

Gaining Word of Mouth Referrals

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I recently read an article entitled, “Referrals Can Help Improve Close Ratios“. The author said that the typical close ratio for most salespeople is 10%. Yet when combined with a well implemented referral program, the close ratio goes to 67%!

It’s been said that the very best way for a business to reach new clients is through word of mouth referrals. Assuming that’s true, what can a sales person do gain more word of mouth referrals?

I was recently in a conversation with a lady who was frustrated over the fact that her printer had stopped working in the middle of a big project just before the close of business, 2 pm on a Friday. She contacted her local box store for help, only to be told that the part she needed would have to be ordered and could take up to 14 days to arrive. In need of a solution fast, she contacted Specialty Business Supplies and was blown away when they offered to deliver the part that same day.

Exceptional customer service like this gets talked about without hesitancy.

This lady was so impressed that she felt compelled to share her experience with others. The real message behind this word of mouth referral was,”When your printer runs into problems and you’re up against a deadline, call Specialty Business Supplies. They’re the ones to do business with!”

How To Create A Buzz

Do you want your business to become the word of mouth topic of conversation? Here’s where to begin.

  1.  Deliver exceptional customer service that goes beyond what’s expected. And once you’re finished, deliver it again!
  2. Reward yourself and the members of  your sales team for the referrals gained from satisfied customers. A referral is given only after trust has been earned through great customer service. If you or a member of your team closes a sale because of a referral, reward the efforts…the referral has been earned and deserves to be rewarded. By rewarding referral sales, you build a culture of referral among the members of your team.
  3. Give your sales team permission to lean toward their customer. This means giving them permission to make decisions that are in the best interest of the client. Empower your team to provide unique, custom service to each customer they encounter. When a client presents a problem, they’ll be more likely to find a solution rather than make excuses. And that response will merit a word of mouth referral from the best of us!

Is your sales approach worth talking about? Have you and your team been providing exceptional customer service that’s so surprised customers that they’re talking about it with their friends today?

Click here to tell us about your very best customer service experiences. Who’s surprised you with exceptional customer service?

How To Snub A Customer

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Have you been snubbed as a customer? I bet you have. You’re smiling as those experiences come to mind right now.

I recently took a simple drive through the take out service of a well known chain restaurant. I paid my money at window number one as instructed, and I proceeded to window number two. What happened next was beyond my comprehension.

When I arrived at the window, a young lady had her back to the window, and that’s where she remained for the duration of this event. She was engrossed in conversation with another worker in the window. To make matters worse, I saw my bag with one small food item sitting on the counter just inches from this lady’s hand.

Several seconds later, the other lady grabbed the bag, looked in and said to the “Snub Lady”, “Is this this customer’s order?”

Her reply? “Yes.”

“So why didn’t you give it to him?”

“You can give it to him.”

And without a word, this mysterious hand came out of the window with my bag attached and just as quickly and silently as it came out, it went back in. I drove off shaking my head and declaring this to be the ultimate customer snub!

So, How Do You Snub a Customer?

You turn your back and care about the conversations that matter most to YOU.

You care not about your customers and their needs. You leave that up to someone else.

You choose not to put yourself in your customers’ shoes.

Some of you reading this blog are saying, “This doesn’t apply to me, I’m the boss. I don’t work directly with the customers. My employees are the ones who need to read this.”

Not so fast, Mr. Boss. From my days with Southwest Airlines it was made abundantly clear to me that every boss, every manager, every leader had customers of their own…the employees they were responsible to lead.

Your Employees Are Your Customers

Translation? The way you lead your team, the way you interact with your employees, the example you set by the work you do will be the way your employees indelibly interact with the people you say mean so much to you…your customers.

Want great customer service? Give it first to the customers you’ve been called to lead, your employees!

Just this week I learned about a job posting in a department where three employees work very part time hours. When questioned about the decision to hire, the employees were told the department had 24 extra hours to give, so a new team member was needed.

Enter customer snub number two. The part time employees hearing this news have been begging for more hours so that they can better support their families, but management has consistently said, “Sales are down, and we don’t have the hours to give.” Funny how they now have 24 hours to give, but not to their “customers,” the current part time employees. It was as if their backs were turned, the needs of their customers ignored, and the shoes of their “customers” were never worn.

Want to build morale, win customers for life and watch your sphere of influence grow? Do not snub a customer!

Turn your face to your customers, identify their real needs, address those needs with intentionality, and in the process, make sure you walk in the shoes of your customers. And do it with an honest desire to understand their needs as if they were your own.

Before you make the final decision that affects your customers and their families, before you recommend a product or service for your client to buy,  care enough to find out what life looks like, feels like, and is in the life of your customer. A well cared for customer will become a customer for life.

“As goes the leader, so goes the organization!” ~John Maxwell

Who are your customers? How will this message impact the way you relate with your customers this week?

If this article made a difference for you, please leave your comments in the box below. I want to know what actions you’re going to take to make a difference this week. I’ll be cheering for your success!

What Influences My Buying Decisions?

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In thinking about various buying experiences, there are some sales people I work hard to avoid, and here’s why:

  • They have their own agenda…they want me to grow their business by giving them referrals even though we just met.
  • They care…about closing the sale on the spot even though I have no interest or need for their product.
  • They are ready to write me off once they realize I’m not going to buy today.

Admit it, while reading the above statements, you had names and faces of specific sales people come to your mind, didn’t you?  Today I call for sales professionals everywhere to close the books on this archaic method of selling and instead, give the very best of yourself to the very noble profession of selling. We need the very best of you and we need you to engage us in a selling process. Bring your best, and we’ll buy because we love to buy, but we hate to be sold!

Here’s what sales professionals can do to positively influence my buying decisions today.

Have A Heart

We are naturally drawn to people who genuinely care about our well-being. To care about others is to have a heart that’s motivated to find ways to bring the greatest value to people, even it means referring them to someone more qualified to serve them well.

When we’re driven by a heart that has the best interest of others in mind, we’ll find buyers looking for people like us. And price won’t matter. People love to buy from people who care enough to make life easier or more worth-while. People buy from people they know, like and trust.

Create Great Customer Experiences

People will see your caring heart when they see firsthand the level of service you bring to your customer experiences. Planning a great customer experience from start to finish will allow your customers to see you in a new light, making it easier for them to know you, like you and to build trust with you.

Engage In Learning Processes

When a person enters the market to buy, it’s because they have particular needs, desires or problems to solve. Sales professionals who engage clients in a learning process understand the value of engaging people on their level.

A learning process allows time and space for real customer needs to surface. Once they do, the sales professional is positioned as the trusted advisor that he or she is. There’s no greater joy than meeting the needs of people and making a difference in their lives.

A well thought out learning process also allows the sales professional and the client  to know exactly where they are in the process so that everyone knows what next logical step needs to be taken. A process like this makes buying a pleasure because it’s focused on identifying and satisfying real needs of customers.

Any sales professionals who want to create such an intentional and professional buying experience, contact me. I can help you and your team create winning systems that attract new clients and turn those clients into raving referral fans.

What steps will you take to influence my buying decisions?

A Review of The Peter Principle

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Have you ever worked in a place where it seemed like those in leadership had a pattern of making excuses, using negative reinforcement, or giving superficial answers for ongoing and complex challenges?  If so, you’ve probably had at least one day where you left the workplace shaking your head at the incompetence of those in authority over you. There’s good news, and there’s bad news to the story that’s about to unfold.

The good news is, you’re not crazy, incompetence is alive and well in the workplace and in many well-meaning organizations today. The bad news, unless you’re in a position of authority with the responsibility of leading change, you’ll likely have little influence over it.

In 1969, Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull coauthored the book, “The Peter Principle:  Why Things Always Go Wrong”.  In this book they state,  

“Rather than seeking to promote a talented ‘super-competent’ junior employee, Peter suggested that an incompetent manager may set them up to fail or dismiss them because they will likely ‘violate the first commandment of hierarchical life with incompetent leadership: [namely that] the hierarchy must be preserved’.”

Why does this happen?  Because “in a hierarchically structured administration, people tend to be promoted up to their level of incompetence.”

Someone may make a great salesperson, but when promoted to senior level leadership may find he or she has lacks competence when it comes to leading  people and teams. Someone who made a great manager may not be right for an advancement if the new role takes him or her to a role beyond his competence. It’s important to recognize that with each new role comes new responsibilities and tasks that we’re not always competent to do well.

This begs the question, “What do you do if you’ve been promoted to a level that you now realize exceeds your competence?”

You have a few choices:

1. Remain in your level of incompetence because that’s the proven hierarchical structure that’s often the norm, but do so at your own risk. You’re likely to become very frustrated working and leading outside of your strengths.

2. Reach out to mentors, coaches, books, and training opportunities that can help you grow into your new role. Warning here:  Most companies that routinely promote to the highest levels of incompetence will likely deny you the opportunity for this kind of training. They’d hate to see you become competent in your new role. That would break the hierarchical system of promote from within, increase workload, maintain inadequate pay scale, and demand more from employees for the sake of the company.

3. Have the guts to step down and work at your level of competence.  Simply put, find a place that rewards you for working in your strengths! This is where you’re gonna hate me. Stepping down will likely result in a lesser salary, and it may cause you or others to perceive you as a failure. For most of you, this option is far too much to handle, so here’s my advice. Take what’s perceived as the easy road, and stay where you are. Then watch how quickly your health begins to suffer from the frustration that mounts.

And what if you work for a boss who has risen to his or her level of incompetence?

1. Suck it up and endure it…good luck with this one!

2. Write your letter of resignation and TURN IT IN!

Unless you’re the captain of the ship, you stand no chance of righting the wrong that you see in the leadership of the organization.

Some of you reading this blog are feeling stuck today, and you’ve been stuck for some time. You need a tribe of trusted people who can breathe positive life into you, who can encourage and support you through the changes you need to make. Change doesn’t come easy, but when going it alone, it’s even more difficult.

Have the guts to reach out to the best people who can help you navigate through the change you most need today. This will be a definite step toward Choosing Yourself, and why not? No one else will!

Contact me when I can be of help. I look forward to serving you well!