Leadership Inspires Really Happy Customers

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“We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us. Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders—in that order”

~Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Have you ever encountered an employee who was obviously part of an organization that believed happy customers really matter? How about an employee who was obviously safe, cared for and empowered by her organization to lean toward customers in very tangible ways? If you’ve met someone like this, you’re certain to remember them.

Employees like this don’t happen by accident. They are trained, inspired and rewarded by great leaders who clearly articulate what they believe about customers and why customers are important to the organization.

Employees like this deserve to be celebrated. Here’s an employee you’ll never forget.

Jay tells his story of an encounter with Lydia, taking serious her ability to make customers really happy!

Jay was the best man in a wedding and had ordered his shoes from Zappos as instructed by the groom. He paid for 3 day shipping by UPS ground, and his package was lost in transit. When he called UPS to have his package held, the agent told him she couldn’t hold it until after one attempt to deliver it to the correct address. Knowing he wouldn’t have the shoes in time for the wedding, he asked again to have them held. The UPS agent said that while she couldn’t stop the shipment, Zappos might be able to since it shipped from their location.

Jay called Zappos and was wowed by Lydia’s customer service actions. To make things right, Lydia over-nighted a new pair of shoes to Jay’s wedding location, she moved him up to “VIP” status with Zappos, she stopped the shipment with UPS and had the shoes returned to Zappos. Then she removed the charge from Jay’s card and had the shoes delivered at no charge to him.

Jay’s response?  “Zappos has earned a customer for life — In addition to all of this, I originally ordered from them because they had the cheapest deal on the shoes I needed.”

Zappos did it again!  They delivered WOW through service, but for the leaders and employees, that’s just they way they do things.  That’s their culture!

Leaders who are great at communicating what they believe instill those beliefs in their employees. There’s nothing more powerful than an employee who’s been inspired to lean toward customers in very tangible ways. Great leaders inspire greatness, and these are the leaders people willingly choose to follow. That’s the essence of leadership!

Share your thoughts by clicking here.  I look forward to learning from you and your experiences!

Does Corporate Culture Matter?

“If you get the culture right, then a lot of really amazing things happen on their own.”

~Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos

“Culture is a combination of attitudes, actions and beliefs that combined create pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation” (Fast Company).  It translates itself into the feelings and experiences people have when they encounter you and your business. And as we all know, how a person feels about their encounter determines the story they share with others.

I recently rented a car from a national rental company, and the culture I experienced was far less than positive. I encountered a manager who said he didn’t have my reserved car in stock, so he would “upgrade” me, only to find on their website that I had been downgraded. I offered to pay more money to upgrade to the car I wanted only to be coldly told, “No,”  there were no cars available in that class, so an upgrade wasn’t an option. I experienced a culture that didn’t care about customer needs and a culture that seemed programmed to say, “NO.” The whole experience left me disappointed, frustrated, and ready to share. That’s the power of a culture experienced.

Then there was a late night dinner at that the Havana Central Restaurant and Bar, Times Square NY that was an experience in culture of a different kind. Opening the door to enter the restaurant, two unknown ladies raved to us about the homemade Empanada’s, and from that moment on, the service, the atmosphere, the experience, and the food was exceptional!  I highly recommend the Havana Central Restaurant and Bar, Times Square.  There I experienced culture in the most positive, upbeat and festive ways. Simply put, I was wowed!

Havana Times Square

 (Havana Central Restaurant and Bar)

And then there’s the Southwest Airlines culture where I learned the power of “Leaning toward the customer.” I’ll never forget the day I watched as a Southwest manager greeted a distressed passenger connecting onto a Southwest flight from a transatlantic flight. This dear lady was upset because security wanted to confiscate the Holy Water she was bringing home to her ailing mother. The Southwest manager stepped in, took the Holy Water, had it packaged, paid for and shipped to the lady’s home overnight. One simple act that made a world of difference. That’s a culture that goes beyond talking about “Leaning toward the customer.” That’s a culture practically lived. That’s a culture that makes a difference and wows customers.

“If you get the culture right, then a lot of really amazing things happen on their own.”  -Tony Hsieh

You and I are living proof that when a company gets the culture right, we have amazing experiences. And when a company drops the ball on culture we know the pain it creates. Whether you’re a single business owner with no employees or you’re the leader of a major corporation, your culture matters to the people you serve so give culture the time, attention and emotional energy it deserves. Culture determines the experiences of your guests. Corporate culture matters.

How has corporate culture affected your buying experiences? Share your story and help us to learn firsthand the power of corporate culture.

Giving Value

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In a world where we’re often told, “No,” and people seem to go out of their way to do very little to serve others well, think of the difference it would make if you joined me in a commitment to give value whenever possible. We’d make a radical difference, and here’s why.

Jeffrey Gitomer said, “Adding implies you have to ‘buy to get.’ Giving means the customer receives BEFORE buying.”

Giving value is about surprising others with the unexpected before being asked. It’s about going beyond the norm to wow the people we serve each day. It’s about going beyond the competition to give in the most memorable ways.

In a world where people are looking for connections to grow their business, you can give value by making an introduction to the person who can best help that business grow. Find ways to solve challenges for your clients, and without a fee, offer the solution. And when you come across great articles, books or resources that will benefit your client, make the investment to get the resource into their hands as quickly as possible. Give value unconditionally. Give value simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Giving value compels us to spend more time thinking about what’s truly valuable to those with whom we engage.

Giving value inspires us to work diligently to understand the viewpoint and needs of those we serve.

Giving value motivates us to find ways to make a difference.

How will giving value impact the way you relate, engage, and sell?  Let me know what you think.

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.

 

The Art of Moving People

 

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You are in the business of moving people. Whether you are the leader of an organization, the owner of a business, the member of a sales team, the employee or parent, you are constantly moving people.

In his book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others Daniel Pink calls sales, the “art of moving people toward our ideas, our projects, or toward ourselves personally.”

In order to move people, we must seek to understand things from their perspective. The threat that keeps us from seeing from others’ perspective is our personal power. When we believe we have the best information, we feel powerful. When we’re convinced that we have the solution that’s best for everyone, we launch our personal power trips. And when we’re convinced beyond a doubt that we know better than anyone what others really need, we put ourselves in a most powerful situation.

While that power may feel good to us, it’s been proven to “anchor us too heavily to our own vantage point, (keeping us from) insufficiently adjusting to others’ perspectives,” Power and Perspectives Not Taken, Adam Galinsky, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Our personal power keeps us from seeing from other people’s perspectives. And the loss of people’s perspective inhibits us from moving people for the good of us all.

The next time you engage in a conversation where you want to move a person toward your ideas, your projects or toward yourself personally, surrender your personal power and make it your goal to first gain the other person’s perspective. Ask open-ended questions with an intent to discover real needs. Guard your mind from thinking over others while they’re talking. And take a real interest in what others are saying to you.

Perspective takers enjoy the art of moving people for their good.  What will you do to take the perspective of others today?

“Teach thy tongue to say, “I do not know,” and thou wilt progress.” –Maimonides

Thoughts Define Us

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As you think, so you will live.

Think scarcity, and you’ll sabotage the successes you’ve created.

Think abundance, and you’ll find more than enough to go around.

Think fear, and you’ll doubt yourself, you’ll be suspicious of others, and you’ll see them as a threat to your success.

Think confidence, and you’ll find yourself acting decisively, taking on challenges, and living beyond your wildest imaginations.

Think misfortune, and you’ll find yourself discouraged, doubtful and hopeless.

Think opportunity, and you’ll find the floodgates of life, relationships and business raining down on you.

You are free to choose the thoughts that will direct your life today. Choose carefully, your thoughts define the outcome of your life and business.

Based on your thoughts, are you content with the direction you’re heading? Are you going to continue on that same path, or are you going to think and act differently so that you affect the outcomes you create?

Do me a favor and write a comment below to let me know what you’re going to do. Thanks, I’m cheering for your success!

Non-Profit Leadership Lessons

 

Tina Combs

Tina Combs, President & CEO

Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce

It didn’t take long to find out why people said that I had to meet Tina Combs. Our coffee shop conversation flowed naturally and easily over a topic that was an obvious passion for Tina – leadership in the non-profit world.

At the heart of every great business, every great organization and every great non-profit, there’s a leader with a heart. Lose your heart for people, and your organization will pay the price.

Here are some leadership lessons I learned from Tina, a leader with a heart for the people she serves.

HAVE A HEART

First and foremost, “Say,No,’ to ego. Don’t worry about who gets the credit as long as the work gets done for the good of the community. Be sincere in what you do and sincerely try to help others.”

Leadership isn’t a power trip to be taken. Leadership is about improving the quality of life for others, your staff, your volunteers, your clients, and your community. By investing in training, education, retreats, and celebrations with your team, you let them know that you care and that you value what they bring to the team. Have a heart. Do something meaningful for the people you lead.

LEAD WITH PURPOSE

“A good leader must never forget their purpose.” Purpose, valuesand vision motivates, builds a strong sense of culture, and gives people something worth giving their lives too. Keep your eye on the prize, and daily point the members of your team toward your purpose. To lead is to inspire people with a sense of purpose. Can they articulate the purpose of your organization?

ENGAGE OTHERS

“Work well with others. Get people engaged. Treat your volunteers like gold, appreciate them, be organized and don’t waste their time.”

Time is precious, and there is no better way to wear out, discourage or lose great staff and volunteers than to waste their time in ill-prepared meetings lacking leadership. If you want people to volunteer and serve with you, respect their time, lead by your example, and value your volunteers, your staff and your team in every possible creative way.

Tina rightly said, “I can tell when people (I’m volunteering for) forget I’m a volunteer. Always show appreciation. No one is obligated to help us.”

And no one is obligated to work for us. When you know you’ve hired the right employee, treat him or her as the valued asset they are. It’s been repeated over and over that it’s much less costly to invest in great employees than it is to search for and train a new employee. The same goes for volunteers. Value the people you have around you, and they’ll likely stay with you for years to come.

BE WILLING TO SERVE

“Good leaders go outside of their world and help other people in the community. Volunteer for others.”

Non-profits require a strong volunteer base, and some of the best leaders are those who have learned to serve well from their personal acts of service. Service is learned in the field of volunteerism.

Is it time for a refresher course in service? If so, contact a non-profit with a purpose in line with you’re passions and find your life enriched by your acts of service.

TAKE TIME TO CULTIVATE

“Cultivate relationships & your reputation. Show that you’re leading a credible organization.”

Self leadership, organizational leadership, team leadership takes intentional effort. The best leaders are those who give specific attention to building healthy, life-giving relationships inside and outside of their organization. The best relationships and the most revered reputations are built on honesty without compromise.

Organizations need leaders who are honest with their teams, their clients, their volunteers, and themselves. The quickest route to a damaged reputation is to compromise on the truth. When a leader compromises in the smallest of ways, his or her team quickly assumes that’s the way of the organization. Once lies and half-truths take root in an organization, the culture shifts. And a shifting culture will damage your reputation. Safe-guard your relationships and your reputation. Build a culture of honesty without compromise.

Businesses, organizations, teams, volunteers, and non-profits will be at their best when their leaders are at their best. What are you doing today to become a better leader tomorrow? How are you investing in your personal leadership?

Leave a comment below and let me know what leadership investments you are making. I want to learn from you, and I hope to hear that your team and your organization are soaring to new heights because of your leadership. Make it happen leaders.

 

 

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!”