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The 13 Characteristics of Successful People

Posted on 15 November 2016 by CRadmin2

By Jeffrey J Mayer

I’ve spent many years studying successful people and have identified the skills, talents and characteristics that enable them to succeed. As you look at and study these skills, talents and characteristics, you’ll realize that you possess many of them yourself. Some of these skills and talents are more dominant than others are and will play a greater part in your being, or becoming, a success in the business of life. These are the things you do well. The things you do easily and effortlessly. These are your strengths.

When you find you need a skill or talent you don’t have, just go out and look for a person or group of people with the skills, talents and training you need: skills and talents that complement your own. These people will become your teammates, colleagues, co-workers, professional advisors and friends. With these combined skills and talents, organizations grow, prosper and become successful.

These are the five things you’ll find every successful person has in common:

  1. They have a dream.
  2. They have a plan.
  3. They have specific knowledge or training.
  4. They’re willing to work hard.
  5. They don’t take no for an answer.

Remember: Success begins with a state of mind. You must believe you’ll be successful in order to become a success.

The following is a list of the skills, talents, and characteristics you’ll find in successful people:

1. Successful People Have a Dream. They have a well-defined purpose. They have a definite goal. They know what they want. They aren’t easily influenced by the thoughts and opinions of others. They have willpower. They have ideas. Their strong desire brings strong results. They go out and do things that others say can’t be done.

Remember: It only takes one sound idea to achieve success.

Remember: People who excel in life are those who produce results, not excuses. Anybody can come up with excuses and explanations for why he or she hasn’t made it. Those who want to succeed badly enough don’t make excuses.

2. Successful People Have Ambition.They want to accomplish something. They have enthusiasm, commitment and pride. They have self-discipline. They’re willing to work hard and go the extra mile. They have a burning desire to succeed. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Remember: With hard work, come results. The joy in life comes with working for and achieving something.

3. Successful People Are Strongly Motivated Toward Achievement.They take great satisfaction in accomplishing a task.

4. Successful People Are Focused.They concentrate on their main goals and objectives. They don’t get sidetracked. They don’t procrastinate. They work on the projects that are important and don’t allow those projects to sit until the last minute. They’re productive, not just busy.

5. Successful People Learn How to Get Things Done.They use their skills, talents, energies and knowledge to the fullest extent possible. They do the things that need to be done, not just the things they like to do. They are willing to work hard and commit themselves to getting the job done.

Remember: Happiness is found in doing and accomplishing, not in owning and possessing.

Anecdote: Many years ago, I was asked, “Jeff, do you like pleasing habits or pleasing results?” As I pondered that probing question, and squirmed in my chair like a worm at the end of a hook, I felt as if I had painted myself into a corner. A few moments later, I answered, “I like pleasing results.” From that moment on, my life changed. I began to do the things that were difficult, because they enabled me to achieve my goals.

6. Successful People Take Responsibility for Their Actions.They don’t make excuses. They don’t blame others. They don’t whine and complain.

7. Successful People Look for Solutions to Problems.They’re opportunity minded. When they see opportunities, they take advantage of them.

8. Successful People Make Decisions.They think about the issues and relevant facts, give them adequate deliberation and consideration and make a decision. Decisions aren’t put off or delayed. They’re made now!

SuccessTip: Spend more time thinking and planning before you make your decision, and you’ll make better decisions.

SuccessTip: When you don’t get the expected results from the decision you’ve made, change your course of action. Decisions should never be carved in stone.

9. Successful People Have the Courage to Admit They’ve Made a Mistake.When you make a mistake, admit it, fix it and move on. Don’t waste a lot of time, energy, money and/or other resources trying to defend a mistake or a bad decision.

Remember: When people are wrong, they may admit it to themselves. If they are handled gently and tactfully, they may admit it to others and even take pride in their frankness and broad-mindedness. But people become very defensive and angry when others try to cram their mistakes down their throats.

10. Successful People Are Self-Reliant.They have the skills, talents and training that are needed in order to be successful.

11. Successful People Have Specific Knowledge, Training, Skills or Talents.They know the things they need to know to be successful. And when they need information, knowledge, skills or talents that they don’t possess, they find someone who does possess them.

12. Successful People Work With and Cooperate With Other People.They have positive, outgoing personalities. They surround themselves with people who offer them help, support and encouragement. They are leaders.

13. Successful People Are Enthusiastic.They’re excited by what they’re doing, and that excitement is contagious. They draw people to them because these people want to work with them, do business with them and be with them.

About the Author

Jeffrey Mayer helps business owners, corporate executives and sales professionals set their priorities, get focused and achieve their goals so they can grow their business, get ahead in life and live their dreams. This article is reprinted with permission from Jeffrey Mayer’s Succeeding in Business ewsletter. To subscribe to Jeff’s free newsletter, visit http://www.SucceedingInBusiness.com.

Copyright© 2003, Jeffrey J Mayer. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at [email protected].

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Seven Keys to Get Out of a Rut

Posted on 21 October 2016 by CRadmin2

By Paul Lemberg

Rut: a routine procedure, situation or way of life that has become uninteresting and tiresome…

And not surprisingly, unprofitable.

They say a rut is a shallow grave with two open ends. The good news (good news?!) is that the ends ARE still open, which means if you act fast, you just might get out of it.

How do we get into these ruts anyway? Who would voluntarily lie down in that grave, shallow or otherwise? Dr. Edward Debono suggests that thoughts are pathways that are literally etched into our brain as electrical connections that get strengthened each time we think them, thus limiting our mental options – just like cow paths.

It all begins when one of the cows wanders home from the field along a new path. Being cows, others naturally follow, nicely beating down the grass. The next evening our intrepid cow is a bit less bold and follows her own freshly trampled path with fellow cows in lockstep behind her. And so on, night after night, widening the path into a footpath, which over time, becomes hardened into a dirt road. More time passes, and the road is paved into a street, then an avenue, a two-lane highway and ultimately, an Interstate.

By the time you come roaring up the on-ramp in your shiny SUV, your direction is all mapped out in front of you. There’s no way to turn and nowhere to go but towards the next exit. If you want to chart a fresh direction, you are going to have to grab the steering wheel and give it a hard, gut-wrenching yank to the right.

And so it is with your thoughts and actions. Repeating them a few times all but insures you will comfortably repeat them indefinitely unless you take deliberate, and possibly disruptive, action to do otherwise.

Here are seven rut busters I use with my business-coaching clients that you can apply immediately to get yourself and your business out of a rut.

1. Shift your mindset from self to customer.
Most business people think of themselves first. They craft product and service offers from their own perspective and consider themselves the beneficiaries of their actions. While that’s not wrong, to get out of your rut, do this: Put yourself into the mind of your customer. Who are these people anyway? What are they concerned about? What are they trying to accomplish? If you were your customer, what would you think of that new product, marketing campaign or email blast? Are you selling your wonderful stuff, or are you providing them tangible, meaningful benefits? Ask yourself, “If I were the customer, would I care?” And if not, consider, “What WOULD I get excited about?”

2. Shift your mindset from customer to client.
A customer is someone who buys your goods or services. The original meaning of client is entirely different: someone who is under your care and protection. Now that’s a switch, isn’t it? If they’re customers, your goal is to get them to buy something. But if you were to think of them as under your care – would you approach your business from another angle? How would you take care of them? How would you protect them? What new programs would you want to implement immediately?

3. Revisit your vision.
Whenever I feel like I’m in a rut, I return to my vision and do two things. First, I make sure it still inspires me and that it is pointing me in the direction I want to go. Once sure, I put pen to paper and rewrite it – not just once, but over and over. And I keep writing until I can’t write it anymore because I’m jumping up and down with a new idea I must do something about right away.

4.Conduct a Survey.
If you don’t know what to do next, ask your clients. (They are clients, aren’t they?) Conduct a survey about anything that interests you. Ask them what’s bothering them. Ask them what they’re stuck on. Ask them what they like about your company and what they’d like you to do next. Ask them about new features, new products or new services. If you’re not happy with your current customers, conduct a survey among the kind of people you’d like to have as customers. And, if you can’t do that, conduct a survey online. Write an attractive search engine ad, promise something of value and drive people to a survey page. Ask them anything you like. The answers will almost always provide you with an interesting, and oftentimes surprising, mind-shift.

5.Focus on building your strengths and dump your weaknesses.
From the time we are little children, we are taught to better ourselves by working on our weaknesses. This is often frustrating and fruitless and certainly not as much fun as practicing our strengths.

Try this on: What if you focused 100 percent of your energy on being world-class in those few things at which you are already very good and out-tasked or outsourced those things at which you were mediocre. Imagine if you never had to face any of those things again, and you could spend all your time doing the good stuff. Would that change the way you felt about your business? Would that bust you out of your rut?

6. Not if, but how.
Think of that wild and crazy idea you had recently. The one where you said to yourself, “That would be great, but there’s just no way.” Well, I know there’s no way – you just said so – but if there was a way, what would it be? Answer that question as if you believed it was possible – probable even – and then get busy making it real. That’s power, you know: turning your vision into reality. Talk about a breakthrough!

7. What are you willing to sacrifice?
Some important things are more important than other important things, and trying to keep all those plates spinning in the air saps your vigor for the ones that truly matter. Dissipated energy – lethargy — is one of the reasons we lie down in that rut in the first place, and dropping a few of those plates can really help things break loose. So let go. Make the sacrifice. Clear your plate, and give up some of those precious things you’ve been holding on to. Focus your vitality on plans that will really rock your world.

Ruts? Who needs ’em?

About the Author

Paul Lemberg’s clients call him “the unreasonable consultant” because he helps them see the unnecessary limits they place upon themselves and encourages, cajoles and, at times, beats them over the head to take bold, sometimes uncomfortable and often unreasonable actions to reach their critical business goals. He is CEO of Axcelus Consulting, the world’s only systematic business-acceleration program helping entrepreneurs and executives rapidly create faster-growing, profitable and sustainable businesses. His newest book is Be Unreasonable. Paul is available for keynote and executive retreats and can be reached via www.paullemberg.com.

Copyright ©2016, Paul Lemberg. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at [email protected].

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Build a Marketing Plan Guaranteed to Increase Your Business

Posted on 13 April 2016 by cradmin

By Grant W. Hicks

Marketing Objective

There is nothing better in marketing than surpassing your targets and growing your business as you planned. On the flip side, there is nothing worse than finishing a slow month and starting a new month with few prospects and little potential business other than a desk full of cold calls to make.

We all have financial goals and targets. Now we need a blueprint to start making those goals a reality. As an advisor, I know that the ups and downs happen. But I also know that with a consistent marketing guerrilla-attack program, you will smooth out your production and be more consistent in your approach.

Marketing Strategy

How do you sit down and write a marketing plan? Budget at least half a day to one full day, grab a pad of paper and a pen and start writing. Sound simple? Well it is, so make it simple. Unless you’re running the marketing for Proctor & Gamble, why do you need an exhaustive written plan?

Try these simple steps:

1. Write down all of the marketing that you are doing now, the frequency and the annual and monthly costs.

2. Write down all of the marketing ideas that you were thinking of pursuing in the next year. Write or collect a list of ideas. Don’t discard anything until you have examined it further. At this point, write it down. If you are looking for ideas, conduct a routine search of the Internet. Ask your manager or marketing wholesalers for ideas. Visit the library to find a book that serves as a guide to marketing ideas. Just write them down.

3. Write down what your competition is doing for marketing. At the same time, write down who your competition is.

4. Write down what your peer group and some of the business owners you admire or respect are doing in terms of marketing and their costs.

5. Create an annual and monthly budget. Exclude the cost of personnel. The final marketing budget should be between 10 to 20 percent of your gross income. Remember, marketing is an investment in your business and not an expense.

The second part of budgeting is time. Your time and the time staff spends on marketing both need to be allocated. How much time will you devote to developing your marketing? How much time during the day do you spend on marketing? Now, how much time should you spend on marketing during the day? I always schedule a half day per month to work on my marketing and client communication strategies. This scheduled time is very productive time in my practice. If you don’t have the time now, how will you have time in the future to grow your business?

6. Identify your ideal client profile, and write it down.

7. Decide what marketing mix will work for you. What will work and what won’t work depends on your commitment. This is where you make decisions based on projections of growth that you want to achieve. For example, if you want to increase revenue from $300,000 to $450,000 per year, your marketing budget is $6,000 and you have no major plans for marketing, then how are you going to achieve that growth?

Although some advisors say that their business grows by referrals only, what do they do to generate those referrals? Perhaps they provide exceptional service, which costs money and may be defined as an excellent communication program. Well, guess what, their dynamic communication program is part of their marketing strategy. What is your ideal marketing mix?

8. Once you have decided on what you are going to do in the next year, break it down into a monthly marketing calendar. Decide which months you are going to do what.

9. Decide on costs and put annual and monthly costs down on paper. At this point, make sure that you can afford your program. If you cannot, consider the consequences of borrowing to invest into your business. That is solely your decision. I remember once when I first started in the business, I borrowed money on a credit card to attend a conference. I didn’t think I could afford to go, but after I returned, I realized I couldn’t afford not to. I learned that I was investing in myself and not just spending money on my business.

10. Put the plan into a working document. Share it with other executives, managers and your staff. Then, commit to completing it, revisiting it on a monthly basis and measuring the results.

Bonus Tip

The simpler your marketing plan, the easier it will be to complete successfully. The marketing plan should be easy to execute once you have put enough thought and effort into it. The most challenging part of your marketing plan may be time and timing.

For example, I know several financial advisors who start a marketing plan only to stop after a few months because they are too busy. The plan depends on a constant time commitment to complete. If you plan in advance and schedule times and dates and pay in advance, then you are committed. However, don’t put your marketing eggs into one basket. Have multiple marketing ideas in different avenues working for you simultaneously.

Each quarter, I take one day to review the success of the marketing plan, look at future ideas that I may implement into my plan and set a course of action for the quarter. I also write a mini-marketing plan for the quarter. That way, I can review it with my team and plan the next quarter’s marketing events and ideas in advance.

Another key element of your marketing plan is to look back and look forward. First, look back to what marketing worked for you and what didn’t work. Then, project a vision of how you want to position yourself in your marketing messages. For instance, I manage retirement assets, so my title is not Financial Planner. Rather, it is Retirement-Planning Specialist. Positioning means determining exactly what niche you’re intending to fill. I live in a retirement community, so it is natural to work in that niche.

Finally, if you’re happy with and expect average service, then that is what you are probably giving. But if you expect world-class service, then bring that element to your business. The Ritz Carlton motto is this: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Look to first-class organizations with a high degree of service and attention to detail, and implement that type of philosophy into your business. This will help your marketing efforts when thinking about attracting new clients.

About the Author

Grant Hicks, president of Hicks Financial, is one of Canada’s leading authorities on marketing. He is a dynamic and entertaining speaker with an amazing ability to motivate audiences to achieve more. He co-authored Guerrilla Marketing for Financial Advisors with Jay Conrad Levinson for Trafford Publishing in 2003.

Copyright© 2016, Grant W. Hicks. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at [email protected].

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Preserving Tranquility in the Face of Hostility

Posted on 11 March 2016 by cradmin

By Mark Gorkin

Companies often invite their own dis-ease and disorder by not knowing how to manage the emotionally negative or belligerent employee. Two effects are predictable when such a stress carrier goes unchecked:  a) The company’s atmosphere will be disrupted, and b) The client’s trust will be contaminated. Interpersonal simpatico and a basic sense of trust that he or she is in professionally skilled and “good hands” are essential for a positive experience. Negative or overly aggressive energy is a virus corrupting that trust.

In addition, when top management does not address the behavior and attitude of a belligerent employee, both clients and staff will question the quality of service and the professionalism of the business as well as your capacity for leadership.

Signs of Negativity

Here are three key warning signs that cut across the operational spectrum:

  1. Reactivity and impatience – A problem employee is often reactive, quick to take comments personally. Such an employee shows a reduced capacity for being an empathic listener. A therapist caught up in his or her static can hardly be fully present with a client. For example, such an individual may frequently look at his or her watch and brusquely declare, “Your thirty minutes are up!”
  2. Competition over cooperation – Combative employees often isolate themselves or appear aloof. They are not team players; in fact, they may be prima donnas. (Whether they even warrant the status of being “a legend in their own minds” may well be debatable.) These individuals may not extend courtesies to their colleagues. Such a cold or prickly person not only irritates clients but also can have a chilling impact on team camaraderie and support. (Read on.)
  3. Bad-mouthing – Whether competing for clients or just projecting their own state of dissatisfaction, some hostile employees talk negatively about others – criticizing colleagues, the ownership, etc. And this negativity frequently occurs behind the target’s back:  “Can you believe so-and-so did (or said) such-and such?” Such individuals may even try recruiting negative allies among clients and staff thereby creating morale-draining cliques.

Clearly, all facets of your business – the client experience, staff morale and the legitimacy of leadership – are in jeopardy if you are not actively confronting such a dysfunctional individual. So the obvious question is this: As a business owner, how do you constructively engage the belligerent employee and set limits on his or her disruptive and demoralizing behavior? Now let me make this Q&A a bit more complex and compelling. Let’s assume this individual is talented and/or a high producer. (If this negative individual doesn’t bring positive attributes to the table, your decision-making process is simplified…unless he or she is a blood relative. Then, the dynamics can become quite entangled, and family therapy – not just organizational strategy – may be indicated.)

Strategic Interventions

Here are five strategic steps for dealing with a negative or belligerent employee:

1. Begin an informal exploration and heads up. An owner or manager needs to intervene quickly and decisively at the first sign of belligerence or harsh negativity. This intervention may range from exploring the person-situation factors behind the hostile behavior to determine whether the employee is able or willing to acknowledge his or her problematic actions and attitude. Also, review with the employee appropriate ways of responding when frustrated, including having a ventilation meeting with you or a supervisor. Make clear that polluting the workplace atmosphere is totally unacceptable. (At the same time, be careful about becoming too personal in your questioning. Remember, you are the employee’s manager not their therapist. Maintaining this boundary is especially tricky when the employee is a personal friend.)

2. Start a Documentation Process. However, you don’t have to wait for a dramatic incident to begin engaging constructively a hostile or negative employee. If you start having some question about an employee’s hostility or passive-aggressive attitude, or there already have been a couple of code yellow warning signs, after an initial heads up meeting, you or your manager need to start documenting any signs of unprofessional or disruptive activity. Also remember, for an effective intervention process, an owner and manager or supervisor must be on the same page in terms of their assessment of the employee’s problematic behavior and the subsequent remedial recommendations. If you don’t want dysfunctional family dynamics to infiltrate your work place, don’t allow a provocative individual to play one authority against the other.

3. Develop a Performance Improvement Plan. Depending on the nature of the hostile incident or reaction and depending on your desire to reeducate and positively motivate this individual, a formal improvement plan may be a wise next step. This plan should detail specific behavioral and interpersonal objectives (e.g. examples of team cooperation) and performance goals (e.g. constructive ways of communicating frustration or anger, when to talk with a manager, etc.). If you sense that the employee has some personal or family issues that may be fueling the belligerence, you may want to ask if the employee has thought about some short-term psychological counseling. (Cognitive-behavioral therapy often can effect meaningful change in six to 12 sessions. Some businesses pay for a time-limited number of counseling sessions as a company benefit.) Again, the challenge is not to become too intrusive in the employee’s life. Expecting professional behavior on the part of all employees and management staff must be the bottom line.

Whether this individual does or does not accept the counseling recommendation, set up a regular (weekly?) schedule for at least a month. With the Performance Improvement Plan as the standard, these meetings will monitor the employee’s office communications and working relations with clients, staff and management.

And if you haven’t been having twice a year performance reviews with all employees, please consider such a move. First, this provides formal performance feedback. Second, if the feedback process is mutual, then management and staff issues are uncovered (including the presence of a covertly aggressive or an early-stage hostile employee). A give and take performance review fortifies understanding and relating. In addition, an ongoing and open process will keep you in touch with individual and team dynamics that affect workplace morale and harmony. (Clearly, organizational IRAs – incentives, rewards and recognition and advancement opportunities – should be provided on a timely basis throughout the year.)

4. Hold a Team Meeting. Though understandable, many people try ignoring or avoiding the belligerent employee. If this individual has been polluting your company climate for a period of time, you may need to hold a stress debriefing for other staff members. Bullies more often leave psychic scars than actual ones. (And while our focus has been on the frontline employee, the ambient tension and the degree of trauma often increase dramatically when the bully is in a management position.)

If the problematic individual is no longer on staff, then you or an office manager need to facilitate a group venting session. There likely is lingering frustration:  a) towards the employee and b) towards ownership for tolerating a dysfunctional work environment. If this problematic individual will continue on staff and there is unresolved resentment, then consider bringing in a conflict/team-building consultant to hold a team intervention with all parties. This consultant will both provide individual coaching and will help the group work through unresolved anger or hurt, helping to clear the air. In the right hands, the intervention does not have to regress into a group primal scream session. The resultant fresh air and renewed tranquility is worth the team-building investment.

5. Develop and Disseminate a Work Environment Policy. Finally, ask staff for input on developing both a performance review plan and a harmonious work environment policy. It’s also wise to consult with a lawyer and/or a human resources consultant versed in personnel procedure and hostile workplace policy, including intervention and prevention steps. Create a formal manual, and distribute it to all personnel. Finally, follow these actions with some formal harmonious environment training.

Closing Summary

This article has examined three broad stress-warning signs indicating the presence of an emotionally negative or belligerent employee:  1) Reactivity and Impatience, 2) Competition over Cooperation” and 3) Bad-Mouthing. The harmony of a workplace will likely be compromised when ownership does not know how to manage such a problematic individual. Five strategic interventions for engaging such an employee were posited:  1) Begin an informal exploration and heads up, 2) Start a documentation process, 3) Develop a performance improvement plan, 4) Hold a team meeting and 5) Develop and disseminate a work environment policy. Hopefully, these steps and strategies will rejuvenate positive energy and a productive and harmonious space and also help all parties.

About the Author

Mark Gorkin, the Stress Doc™, www.stressdoc.com, acclaimed keynote and kickoff speaker, webinar presenter, retreat leader and motivational humorist, is the author of Practice Safe Stress and The Four Faces of Anger. A former stress & violence prevention consultant for the U.S. Postal Service, the Doc leads highly interactive, innovative and inspiring programs for corporations and government agencies, including the U.S. Military, on stress resiliency/burnout prevention through humor, change and conflict management, generational communication, and the three Rs (responsible, resilient and risk-taking) leadership-partnership team building. Email [email protected] for his popular free newsletter and info on speaking programs.

Copyright© 2016, Mark Gorkin. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at [email protected].

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15 Rules for Effective Teams

Posted on 14 January 2016 by cradmin

By Eileen O. Brownell

“If you think it doesn’t pay to stick together, consider the banana.  As soon as it leaves the bunch it gets skinned!” – Savage: Life Lessons

The first railroad in America was created in 1829. It served as the number-one mode of mass transportation of people and goods for well over 100 years. Trains were efficient. They could move large quantities of materials and products faster and cheaper than wagons, horses or, ultimately, trucks. Many pioneers moved west via the train rather than chancing the hazardous wagons. Trains provided excitement for travelers with the ever-changing scenery and the possibility of bandits.

Railroads created jobs. Not only was there staff on the train, there were also switchmen, freight loaders, maintenance workers, stationmasters and clerical staff. All helped keep the trains running. Even though their jobs did not require them to ride on the trains, they supported the main function of the railroad.

Back in the 1800s, they never heard of teamwork. Staff came to work, did what they were ordered to do and worked long hours, usually six days a week. Decisions were made by supervisors, and nobody ever questioned the choices they made. To do so might mean instant dismissal.

Our work life will continue to speed forward into the future at a fast, never-ending pace. The creation of new technology has made some jobs easier by providing us with quicker ways to perform tasks, computerizing some jobs and providing us with more information than we ever conceived possible.

It is important that we take the time to examine effective teams and their characteristics. It will be through teams that we will continue to accomplish our major work tasks as people become more specialized and technology increases at a steady pace. We can no longer operate like the railroad companies once did, where everything was done manually.

The commonsense railroad rules that were solid and sound in the 1800s and early 1900s are worth reexamining in the context of how they affect teams today.

  1. Know your destination. There are numerous places for a train to head. Where the train will ultimately end its trip is established before the engine even revs up. Every successful team must establish its goals and objectives before they can begin to provide valuable services to the internal or external customer. An effective team has a clear purpose that includes a vision, a mission, goals and objectives. Everyone on the team is clear about where he or she is going.
  1. Turn a moving train slowly. Once a train has established its destination, it gathers momentum. To change directions abruptly without discussion and consensus can be disastrous. If it becomes necessary to alter your course after your team has already begun to create its vision, it is important that everyone be a part of the discussion process. Not everyone may agree with the final outcome. The turn, however, will be easier if everyone has the opportunity to be a part of the decision process.
  1. Successful trains stay on track. If the train jumps the track, a disaster will surely occur. Teams stay together by moving in the same direction. Once the goals and objectives are established, everyone goes about doing their individual tasks to help the train get to its ultimate destination. If it leaves the track, however, it will never arrive. If the train needs to make a detour, there are clear signs that indicate the changes that need to be made so no abrupt turns can force the train from its ultimate focus.
  1. When catching a moving train, get up to speed quickly. When you join a team already in existence, don’t stop, don’t slow down. You have a lot of catching up to do. You did not begin the trip with the team. They formed, established a destination, decided the best route to take, made assignments and established the time schedule. Your task is to get up to speed as quickly as you can without creating havoc and delaying the trip. The team can assist you in that process by providing you with a complete overview of the projects they are working on. Establish if you have the necessary experience to complete the task of the individual you are replacing. If not, then it must be determined how best to train you for the tasks ahead. Finally, they must make sure you are also involved in all future discussions.
  1. Stop when the wheels lock up. Everyone on the team must be encouraged to participate in the team process. When one or more people withhold information, refuse to be part of the discussion or fail to complete their assignments, it is a sure sign of trouble. Just as the locked wheel will hold the train back – if no one on the team is participating in the process, the team will be slow to complete its vision.
  1. Listen for a change in the rhythm. If you have ever ridden a train, you know the sound of the wheels riding the rails. There is a certain rhythm that occurs. You know instinctively when there is a change in the speed of the train or a problem. Members of a team use effective techniques to listen for the changes in the attitude of team members. To clarify someone’s input, it is important that members paraphrase, question and summarize to make sure they have received the message as intended.
  1. Keep everyone on board when the train is moving. Team members must feel free to express their opinions and feelings. They must not feel that if they provide input or make suggestions, they will be thrown from a moving train, a painful experience indeed. The effective team has no hidden agendas. Members feel comfortable communicating during and outside of meetings. Team members must not be afraid to voice their opinion for fear of retaliation.
  1. Work assignments and roles are clear. The conductor would not think of driving the train nor would the engineer come back to the passenger cars and take tickets. Work is distributed among team members fairly and according to job skills. There are specific expectations for each job assignment and team member. Everyone is willing to accept his or her part of the total team responsibility and complete the assignments on time.
  1. Everyone is a leader. There is a formal leader for every effective team. Leadership functions can shift, however, depending upon the circumstances, group needs and individuals skills of the team members. For example, I have watched the conductor jump in to help the dining car cashier when the crowds were backing up on a long-distance train ride. This was certainly not his normal task, but at the moment, his skills were needed to help keep the customers happy. Team members are not afraid to shift focus when assistance is needed.
  1. Be flexible. Trains don’t always arrive on schedule. The staff of the train kept us informed of the reason for the delays, however, and gave us regular updates of the anticipated arrival time. When tasks are not completed on the determined time schedule, the rest of the team must be informed and adjustments made. Frequently, the next step in a process cannot be started until another task is completed. An effective team member is flexible and continues to move forward on other responsibilities regardless of possible delays.
  1. Stop to refuel. Conduct regular maintenance. An effective team stops periodically to examine how well it is doing. Self-assessments are conducted regularly to establish what is interfering with progress of the team. If additional training is needed for individual members or the entire team, arrangements are made. A train cannot run without gas, and a team cannot run without nurturing, training and regular input.
  1. It takes more than the staff on the train to make it go. The engineer, conductor, brakeman and dining car staff are not the only individuals involved in making the train run. There are station managers, baggage handlers, track maintenance staff, ticket sellers, bulk freight loaders and others. The staff running the train is dependent on other individuals to help them complete their tasks. They must develop positive relationships and build credibility with important players in other parts of the railroad system.
  1. Nobody wins when there is an accident. If you have ever seen pictures of a train hitting a car or truck, you know even though the train may still be standing, nobody wins. Team members must be prepared to have disagreements, confront conflict and feel comfortable enough to resolve issues as they arise. Failure to resolve issues and compromise on challenges as they arise is a surefire way to create an accident further down the track.
  1. Celebrate when you arrive at your destination. Whenever a train arrives at its destination, there are always people waiting for the passengers. It is fun to watch people greet each other. Usually, there is much excitement and happiness. Effective teams take the time to celebrate the completion of their goals. They pause to recognize individual as well as team accomplishments before moving on to the next task.
  2. The tracks don’t end at your destination. A team extends its vision beyond the current task. An effective team knows it has an obligation to future passengers to provide a safe, well-maintained and clean train. Members realize their attention is not just on the tasks immediately at hand but also on the future success of the total railroad.

Although the railroad may not be as popular as it once was for rapid mass transit and the transportation of goods and products, it still provides us with a clear picture of how important teams are in the workplace.

About the Author

Eileen O. Brownell is president of Training Solutions, a firm based in Chico, Calif. For over 25 years, Eileen has been noted as a ‘high-energy’ speaker and trainer who captivates her audiences and makes learning a lasting experience. Her expertise is in the areas of customer service, conflict resolution, communication and team development. She is licensed to use the Carlson Learning Products that enhance the learning process. Cable television stations have shown Eileen’s educational programs. She can be found in Who’s Who in California, American Women, Professional Speaking and Outstanding Young American Women. “We cannot choose the challenges that confront us. Nevertheless, we can pick our attitude and how we react,” is her philosophy.

Copyright© 2015, Eileen O. Brownell. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at [email protected].

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The Joy of Feedback

Posted on 19 November 2015 by cradmin

By Denise Lones

Asking for feedback.

It’s tough. It really is. Deep down, we really don’t want to hear what people truly think about us. It’s a scary prospect. What if they don’t like us? What if we made a huge mistake with them? What if they think we’re incompetent?

Makes you want to run and hide rather than find out, doesn’t it?

It’s time to stop hiding. As business owners, we must face our clients – and ourselves. We should strive to get as much feedback as possible on a regular basis. I can tell you from experience that it’s difficult only at the beginning. But once you get into the habit of doing it, you discover the incredible value of your clients’ insights.

Everybody looks at you a different way. Everybody has a different perspective. Everybody experiences and processes things differently. And because of this, that old saying is true: You can’t please everybody.

You can’t. Nobody can. It’s impossible. People are too dynamic and unique for one entity to fulfill the expectations of so many. Instead, strive to find the best way to serve the majority of your clients as best you can with your own talents. But in order to do this, you must be diligent in asking for feedback.

So what are the best ways to ask for feedback?

First of all, let’s talk about the approach. How you approach someone can make the difference between them telling you what you want to hear or the truth. One of the best ways to do this is to ask for their advice. Ask them to rate the process, not you. What did they think was frustrating about the selection, buying, installation or overall process? What did they think was rewarding? Then, ask them how the process could be improved.

Now, they’re warmed up. You haven’t discussed you at all yet. You’ve kept the subject on the process, and you’ve gotten them into an advice-giving mood. Next, tell them that you’re interested in improving your services. You want to help make the transaction easier and smoother. The time they invest to rate your services will have a positive end result. People do care about this. Now is the time to ask about how you handled their transaction.

You can do this in person, on the phone or by sending a ‘Rate-My-Services’ document. The last method is excellent if you’re at all nervous about asking them directly. Many of my clients have had great success with this method.

And the beauty of such a document is that it encourages the truth because you can offer your clients the option of sending it back anonymously. Here’s an example of a typical Rate-My-Services document that you can send out to your clients:


Dear Client:

I am always striving to improve my service and better understand the needs of my clients. Every client experiences the countertop purchasing process differently based on his or her needs. I would really appreciate your opinion and comments about both my services and the countertop buying/installation process through your eyes. If you could take a brief moment to answer a few questions, it would provide me with invaluable insight.

  1. What part of the process was the most frustrating for you?
  2. What part of the process was the most rewarding for you?
  3. What do you think could have been done for you to make the process easier for you?
  4. What would you recommend I do to improve my services?
  5. If I could add one service to help other clients, what would it be?
  6. What did you like the most about my services?
  7. What did you like the least about my services?

Note that the first three questions are process-focused. We don’t even talk about the company until Question no. 4.

Don’t be afraid of feedback – ever. Whenever somebody gives you a critique, you always remember it. For example, has someone ever critiqued your hairstyle? I bet they have. You always remember that, don’t you? But I’m willing to bet you don’t remember all the compliments people gave you. The negative feedback sticks in your mind.

The people that gave you such negative feedback are often your true friends. When someone can tell you honestly what he or she thinks – even if it’s a negative – then you know you can trust them. It is only by learning what is negative that we can ever hope to be our best selves. Without this knowledge, we’d never know what to change.

When somebody rates your services as a countertop fabricator, it forces you to take a good hard look at the way you do business. Sure, it bites and stings at first. But you’re tough. You can take it.

In my own business, I ask for feedback about everything. And truth be told, I am also unable to please everybody, but in a way, I welcome their unhappiness.

In fact, I’m appreciative when a client takes the time to email me with a negative comment or complaint. When the comment or complaint is constructive and demonstrates what is perceived to be a true deficiency, I thank them. I categorize these people among my greatest allies.

For example, we recently added a lot of new technology to our services. It’s easier now for clients to access information and process orders online. But one client called me and said, “Denise, I hate technology! I don’t want to have to go online to do all this. Why do you have to put your business in a format that I don’t like to use?”

This made me think of ways we could improve this process, and I asked him a magical question: “What would you like?”

My client replied, “I just want to see samples in my own hands with my own eyes and place orders over the phone like I always have. Can you just FedEx me a package, and I’ll give you a call when I decide?”

Ding. Problem solved. Ever since that phone call, I’ve given all my clients the option of going through the longer, hands-on processes.

See the power of feedback? Embrace feedback. Feedback is your friend. Have the guts to ask your clients to rate your services. You will be amazed at the results.

About the Author

Denise Lones, president of the Lones Group Inc., is dedicated to helping people find innovative ways to increase their business and still have a life outside of it. She draws from her professional and personal experiences and believes that the key to business success is all about people, systems and follow-through.

Copyright© 2015, Denise Lones. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at [email protected].

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The “Marshall Plan” for Customer Aftercare: How to Spend Less & Sell More

Posted on 04 August 2015 by cradmin

by Ernest Nicastro

My wife likes to shop at the local Safeway. Is it because of the competitive prices? Yes, that’s part of it. Is it because of the convenient location? Yes, that’s part of it too. She also likes their produce department. But the biggest reason she likes to shop at the local Safeway is “Marshall.”

Now Marshall is very good checkout person. He’s fast, efficient and seldom makes a mistake. But his job competency is not the reason why my wife keeps going back. She keeps going back because Marshall always has a warm and friendly smile. And because when Marshall asks, “How are you today?” well, by golly, you just know he’s sincere about it.

You see, for those few minutes while she’s a customer in his checkout line Marshall makes my wife feel genuinely valued and appreciated. And week after week she buys our groceries at “Marshall’s” Safeway.

As salespeople and business owners very few of us will have the same weekly, face-to-face opportunity as Marshall to make our customers feel valued and appreciated. And yet, if we’re smart we’ll make sure we have our very own “Marshall Plan” in effect. We’ll make sure – once we’ve rescued our customer from the grips of our competitor – that we have a Customer Aftercare Program in place to maintain the health and increase the profitability of that relationship.

This makes perfect marketing sense. And, with studies showing that the total cost of getting a new customer to be 10 times that of simply holding onto an existing one it can also make you plenty of dollars and cents, particularly when you consider that a five percent improvement in customer retention can lead to an 85 percent increase in profits. You don’t have to be King Solomon to see the wisdom in those numbers.

A One-Time Sale or a Lifetime Sale?

John and Judy First-Time Homebuyer purchase their first home and come to you for a kitchen remodel. Assuming that John and Judy are upwardly mobile professionals, they’ll probably want kitchen remodels 4 to 5 times during their lifetimes.

If you’re in the countertop business, that’s another 4 to 5 jobs at a minimum. John and Judy alone – even if they never send you a single referral – are conceivably worth many thousands of dollars to you during their lifetimes.

But if you’re actively working on this relationship, if you’re putting forth a consistent and concentrated effort to make John and Judy feel valued and appreciated, then they’ll send you lots of referrals. I GUARANTEE IT.

Now, stop a moment and multiply the above example by 40, 50, 500 or 1,000 and you’ll understand why today’s savviest marketers are placing more emphasis on “Share of Customer” and “Lifetime Value” and less on “Share of Market.”

But without proper planning and execution, you won’t come close to realizing John and Judy’s full lifetime value. The same thing holds true for any other industry as well.

Good Communication Is the Key

The key to increasing your Share of Customer and maximizing Lifetime Value lies in continually strengthening the bond between you and your customer. It should come as no surprise to anyone that good communication plays a major role in this bonding process.

An organized and consistent communications program will keep you in touch with your customers on a regular basis – and increase your Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) with them. Plus, by welcoming and encouraging their feedback, you’ll be reminding them how very important and very special they are to you. And, we all like to feel special, valued and appreciated. We all like to feel loved.

Marketing consultant and Direct Marketing columnist James Rosenfield, in one of his magazine articles, wrote, “Every customer relationship begins with something that looks like love.” Your objective as a business owner or sales executive is to move your new customer beyond “something that looks like love” to the real deal.

Ideally, you want to turn each new customer into a walking, talking, word-of-mouth advertisement for you, your products and your services. And a proactive Customer Aftercare communications program can go a long way toward achieving this ideal. But most of us in the sales profession, unlike Marshall, don’t usually have the opportunity for weekly personal contact. In that case, direct mail is an efficient and effective customer retention tool.

And here are a few examples of the type of communications that should be in any good Customer Aftercare program:

Thank You Letter – To be mailed the very day the sale is closed. Sure, this is something we all do – right? Well maybe all of us do it, but I know from experience that a number of those other folks don’t.

True story: Last year I purchased a top-of-the-line computer system from a very well known, very large computer manufacturer that sells direct to consumers and businesses. Within minutes of closing on the transaction, I received an email from them. I must’ve gotten 10 to 12 pages of literature in the email, including at least 2 or 3 pages on all the awards they’ve won. But the one piece of literature that I didn’t get from them was a simple thank you letter.

Letter from “Mr. Big” – To be mailed 10 days to 2 weeks after the account is opened. In a smaller company, it should come from the president. In a larger company, a senior manager. This letter is a warm ownership/senior management welcome and also informs the new customer that, ultimately, “the buck stops here.”

Sample wording. “If the product or products you’ve purchased, or anyone in my organization fails to meet with your complete approval – now or in the future – I would like to know about it.”

How Did We Do Letter – Mailed a week after the sale. It’s a friendly letter explaining how important honest feedback is to you because it’s the only way you can improve. Attached to the letter is a brief customer satisfaction survey and stamped return envelope. The feedback you receive from this survey will be of tremendous value to you in your ongoing marketing efforts. This feedback will help you make more sales and generate increased profits.

Happy Anniversary Letter – Sample opening: “It’s been a year (__ years) since you opened your account/made a purchase with us, and I just wanted to say Happy Anniversary and thanks again. We look forward to working with you for many years to come.”

Random, Customer Appreciation Letter – Sample opening: “Do you ever get so caught up in the mundane everyday responsibilities of your job that you sometimes overlook things? I know I do. And that’s why I’m writing you.” From that point, you go on to tell your customers how much you value and appreciate them and their business.

Don’t do any selling in this letter. Helpful hint: Mail this letter right before you know your customer will be in contact with a large number of people. For example, right before Thanksgiving or before a trade convention or industry gathering. This way, you’ll get maximum mileage from the positive word-of-mouth this letter creates.

How Did We Do Survey Cover Letter – You should regularly survey your customers, and some suggest doing so at least once a year. Just the act of sending out the survey sends them a message that they are important to you.

But the greatest value and benefit to you and your business is the feedback you’ll get on how you can improve. So, word your cover letter in such a way that it will encourage response.

Sample copy: “At ABC Countertops we’re committed to offering you affordable, quality products backed up by a level of service that sets the standard for the industry. And your feedback is of tremendous help to us in measuring how well we’re meeting that commitment.”

The survey, whether or not your customer returns it to you, is yet one more indication that he or she is important to you.

Birthday Cards – Visit any Petco store and you’ll find forms to fill out with your pet’s name, address and birthday. Complete one and during the month of your pet’s birthday Petco will send your “Fido” or “Fifi” a birthday card and an invitation to come to the store and get a 10 percent discount.

Shouldn’t we treat our human customers with similar care and thoughtfulness? I think you know the answer.

Hand-Written Congratulations Cards – Whenever you or your assistant read or hear about awards, appointments, promotions and other forms of recognition earned by your clients or their children, acknowledge this with a letter or card. This is a small thing to do, but it is greatly appreciated and will pay big dividends.

In addition to the above communications, you’ll also be sending out your normal promotional mailings and regular reminders of the benefits of doing business with you and your company. Plus, you’ll also want to send an annual newsletter.

With the inexpensive database and sales automation technology available today, there’s little reason for any company not to have a well thought out, consistent and clearly defined Customer Aftercare Program. There’s only one drawback. It’s not a quick fix for low sales. But the benefits are many, including maximized customer retention and loyalty, reduced marketing costs and higher profits.

Most important, your Customer Aftercare program will set you apart from the vast majority of your competition and give you the competitive edge that leads to higher sales and profits.

About the Author

Ernest Nicastro is the President of Positive Response, a direct response advertising and marketing consulting company. Positive Response specializes in compelling, response-producing sales letters, ads and lead-generation programs and services . . . based on proven principles and strategies. A versatile professional, Ernest has experience in both the consumer and b2b markets. He has created ads, sales letters, lead-generation programs, marketing plans and marketing communications . . . for such diverse industries as computer software and hardware, financial services, health-care, printing, furniture retailing, autobody collision repair and many more. His clients include Colonial Life & Accident, Information Technology Association of America, Output Technologies, Timberland Custom Homes, Rocky Mountain Natural Laboratories and others.

Copyright© 2015, Ernest Nicastro. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at [email protected].

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Ten Principles of Motivation

Posted on 19 May 2015 by cradmin

by Nido R. Qubein

One of the questions I hear most often from executives and managers is the following: How do I motivate my employees to do the things I want them to do?

The answer is – You don’t!

We can’t motivate people. They are already motivated. But we can determine what motivates them and use this knowledge to channel their energies toward our company goals.

From my 20 years of helping executives solve their people challenges, I’ve learned a few basic principles about motivation. Let me share them with you:

All People Are Motivated

Some people are like water in a faucet. They have the motivation; all you have to provide is the opportunity. The water is already motivated to flow. But it doesn’t have the opportunity until you open the tap.

Others are like mountain streams, which flow swiftly but follow their own channels. People, too, may move energetically but toward their own goals. We in management should make it worth their while to channel their motivations toward the results we are seeking.

People Do Things for Their Reasons Not for Yours or Mine

We in management have to show employees what’s in it for them when they follow behaviors that benefit the company. We can show them by using rewards and recognition, appealing to their sense of pride and achievement.

People Change Because of Pain

When the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing, people will change. For example, Americans didn’t start buying smaller, fuel-efficient automobiles until the pain of high gasoline prices became greater than the pain of switching to less roomy and less powerful cars.

The Key to Effective Communication Is Identification

When something becomes personal, it becomes important. When our clients or our employees begin to identify with who we are and what we are, good things begin to happen. Large corporations have discovered that.

Prudential, for example, knows that its customers want to buy security. So it doesn’t just sell insurance, it markets peace of mind by inviting all of us to buy “a piece of the rock.”

Kodak didn’t sell cameras, it invited its customers to “trust your memories to Kodak.”

AT&T doesn’t tell us to make long-distance calls. It asks us to “reach out and touch someone.”

In dealing with employees, it isn’t enough to appeal to them on the basis of loyalty to the company. They need personal reasons for showing this loyalty.

Whether we’re instituting a new educational program or undergoing a total restructuring, we can get our employees on board more readily if we show them how the change will affect them for the better.

When my company sets out to lead businesses in developing their human-relations skills, we don’t tell them what we’re going to do for the company. We talk about what we’re going to do for the individual. For example, in the introduction to one of our manuals, we tell supervisors the following:

“We’ve designed this complete educational system to help YOU master the skills of supervisory management and enjoy the rewards of leadership and career enhancement.

From management’s standpoint, the training was designed to increase the effectiveness of the organization. That’s what sold the company on the program. But from the employee’s standpoint, it was to upgrade the skills of the individual. That’s what sold the employees on the program.

The Best Way to Get People to Pay Attention to You Is to Pay Attention to Them

That means listening to others and not just hearing them. Listening is active; hearing is passive. If you listen to individuals long enough, they’ll tell you what their concerns and problems are.

It’s very important that executives listen to their staff and associates. We need to take the time to get to know them, not just by name but also by their interests and aspirations.

We should try not to come across as interrogators but ask them friendly questions about how they are, what they did over the weekend and what they’re doing on vacation. Then listen. It’s amazing what you’ll learn.

Pride Is a Powerful Motivator

Everybody is proud of something. If we find out what makes our people proud, we can use that insight to channel their motivation. Pride is tied closely to self-esteem. My friend, Robert W. Darvin, has founded several successful companies, including Scandinavian Design, Inc., and has often used our consulting services and invited me to speak to his people. His observations on self-esteem are worth repeating:

“There’s only one thing that counts in a business: building the self-esteem of your employees. Nothing else matters because what they feel about themselves is what they give to your customers. If an employee comes to work not liking his job, not feeling good about himself, you can be sure that your customers will go away not liking or feeling good about your company.

You Can’t Change People; You Can Only Change Their Behaviors

To change behavior, you must change feelings and beliefs. This requires more than training. It requires education. When you train people, you just try to teach them a task; when you educate people, you deal with them at a deeper level relative to behavior, feelings and beliefs.

The Employee’s Perception Becomes the Executive’s Reality

This is a very important point. When we speak to employees, they don’t respond to what we say, they respond to what they understand us to say. When employees observe our behavior, they respond to what they perceive us doing and will try to emulate us.

Suppose you send an employee to a developmental workshop or seminar and she comes back brimming with new ideas and information. But you haven’t been exposed to all this stimulating stuff, so your behavior doesn’t change. The employee realizes this and concludes that the behavior she observes in you is the behavior you want. This may not be the case at all. You may want the employee to implement all these new ideas, but your employee’s perception is the reality you get.

You Consistently Get the Behaviors You Consistently Expect and Reinforce

We should look for ways to reward employees for doing the things we want them to do. The reward may take the form of financial incentives, prizes or simply public recognition of a job well done. Reinforcement can be positive or negative, as my roundtable partner, Ken Blanchard, has taught us all. If employees learn that a certain type of behavior results in lower earnings, less favorable hours or less desirable territories, they’ll adjust their behavioral patterns.

We All Judge Ourselves by Our Motives, but We Judge Others by Their Actions

Put another way, we’re inclined to excuse in ourselves behavior that we find unacceptable in others. When our employees are late for work, it’s because they’re irresponsible and have no interest in their jobs. When we’re late for work, it’s because we were attending to necessary details that had to be taken care of.

When employees engage in undesirable behavior, we shouldn’t try to assess motives or change them. Just deal with the behavior. We can’t change the motives of our employees, but through positive or negative reinforcement, you can affect their actions.

Follow these principles and you’ll find yourself surrounded by motivated employees who are channeling their energies toward your goals – goals in which they have personal stakes.

About the Author

Nido Qubein is chairman of an international management consulting firm that serves clients across the United States and in a dozen other countries. He is a partner in several companies and serves on the boards of 17 universities, companies and community organizations, including a Fortune 500 company with $56 billion in assets and the Bryan School of Business. He has written many books and recorded scores of audio and video programs, which are translated in several languages.

Copyright ©2015, Nido R. Qubein. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at email [email protected].

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A Different Approach to Marketing

Posted on 15 November 2013 by CRadmin2

By Victoria Munro and Dave Block

Achieving success in today’s economy demands a different approach to marketing and relating to current and future clients. We can no longer rely on marketing strategies that have worked in the past. Rather, knowing that people choose to do business with those they know, like and trust, we should focus on developing those relationships.

Building strong relationships, based on trust, is key to finding and keeping loyal clients—the kind who will refer you to their friends and colleagues. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines trust as “Assured confidence on the reliability, character, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Building such relationships is especially important to those who work closely with clients, such as lawyers, accountants, consultants, coaches, realtors, financial planners and insurance agents.

Following through on commitments made is essential to building relationships of trust. Finding out and responding to what your clients, and future clients, truly want, need and expect will further strengthen this bond. Ideally, you should aim to become a trusted advisor. The following suggestions will help you achieve this.

Ask these questions to help you understand what your clients really want:

  • What would you expect in an outstanding relationship with a (fill in the blank) lawyer, coach, insurance agent, etc.?
  • Have you worked with a (fill in the blank) before? On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being terrible and 10 being terrific), how would you rate that relationship? If the answer is less than a 10, ask what it would have taken to bring this up to a 10.
  • How do you prefer to communicate: by email, phone or in person?
  • How much explanation and detail would you like when we communicate?
  • What do you consider the most important aspect of customer service? Tell me about your biggest customer service frustration.

Give really good referrals:

  • Find out who would be an ideal customer for each of your clients. Then be on the lookout for these companies or individuals, tell them about your client and suggest they connect.

Cultivate a sincere interest in each of your clients:

  • Get to know and appreciate them personally. Find out what makes them tick. In casual conversation, ask about their family, interests, hobbies, passions, books they enjoy, etc.

Record your clients’ information:

  • Use your CRM (contact resource management) database to keep in touch often.

Keep Top of Mind:

  • Think about different ways to ‘touch’ clients, for example: email, hand-written notes, birthday cards, breakfast, lunch, coffee or a ballgame together.
  • Brainstorm other creative ways to communicate with your clients, and how you can make these ‘touches’ more meaningful.
  • Record your actions and ideas. Each quarter, take a few minutes to review their effectiveness.

Building strong relationships based on trust takes time and effort, but the rewards personally and financially are well worth the investment. Our world is changing rapidly. We can’t depend on marketing strategies that have worked in the past. Solid, caring, trust-based relationships will be key to thriving in the future.


About the Authors: Dave Block and Victoria Munro are co-founders of Make-it-Fly® LLC, a company dedicated to creating success for small business owners through creatively-designed programs and tools. Dave is known as the “Master Networker” in the business community and loves sharing how to become a successful business owner by learning the art of networking. Victoria has started and run nine different businesses.. To receive FREE business success articles with tips to help you with your business, sign up for their award-winning ezine, “In-Flight Refueling,” at: www.Make-it-Fly.com, and receive a free copy of the eBook, Get More Done in Less Time: 101 Quick and Easy Time Tactics & Tips.

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You’re the Owner, You’re the Expert

Posted on 24 October 2013 by CRadmin2

Five Ways to Leverage Your Business Acumen Locally

For William, finally hanging the ‘grand opening’ banner on the facade of his business was a dream realized. After years of drafting and redrafting plans and budgets, applying for loans and acquiring the initial capital to break ground on his new property, he was able to turn his goal of owning and operating a local business into a reality.

At a recent chamber of commerce meeting, William found himself in a conversation with a colleague that proved invaluable. Amidst discussion of business tactics and customer development techniques, he was clued in on a spectrum of opportunities to generate brand recognition and supplemental revenue that he was previously unaware of.

As the proprietor, William’s expertise not only applies to the daily operations of his business but to the wider scope of finding success in the small-business sector as a whole – and in a bipolar economic landscape, there is tangible demand for individuals with proven accomplishments in this area. Regardless of his status as a neophyte to the world of business ownership, there are opportunities available to leverage his knowledge.

Here are a few of the ways that you, as a business owner, can employ your unique brand of expertise to build your local reputation and secure a stout customer base:

1. Speaking at Service Clubs

Getting involved with speaking at local service clubs is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to the professional-minded public and to share your business savvy with others. The first step is to research service clubs in your area and start contacting the necessary parties about guest-speaking opportunities.

Now, the initial hang-up most business owners find is that they do not see how sharing the inner-workings of their specific business will be of value to anyone else. When speaking, you need to stretch your expertise so that it applies to a wider audience – not just those in your immediate industry. You do not need to delve into the intricate details of how your particular trade is run – there are overarching principles that apply to operating a flourishing business – and as an example of the payoff that comes with applying them, you are qualified to educate others (while subtlety promoting yourself).

Starting to speak at the local level can also catalyze a larger speaking career. Begin crafting a presentation and approaching the necessary parties to get your voice heard.

2. Stir the Pot by Writing Op-Eds

Tossing a bit of proverbial kerosene on a contentious conversation is an assured way to cause your name to resonate within your community. There are numerous hot-button business issues that continuously circulate in the media and spur lively debates  – minimum wage, unions and mandatory insurance, to name a few. By writing an opinion-editorial that could possibly be placed in daily newspapers with large circulations, you can state your position on a variety of relevant issues, and establish a wider-range of name-recognition.

3. Foster a Thriving Business Community with Mentoring

What better way is there to put your skills on display than to take an aspiring business owner under your wing? Businesses thrive when there is a layer of mutual support, and that often involves working together for a common goal: carving a niche in the community for profitable, locally-owned companies. Attend networking events and connect with others who are in the same position you were in before your dream became an actuality – an individual with an idea and an implementable plan, and coach them through the process that you experienced.

Starting a business can be a painstaking and oft frustrating progression; by acting in a mentoring and advisory role for others, you can help navigate some of the roadblocks that come along the way and create a tightknit community of proprietors and reciprocal customers for life.

4. Guest Columns in Local Publications

Weekly and monthly tabloid-sized publications are regularly seeking fresh content with local angles to fill space on their pages, and submitting guest columns reinforces your identity as a stalwart in the local business arena. Common themes can include commercial trends, regional events or opportunities – essentially any topic that allows you to provide your unique insight.

The readership of homegrown newspapers and magazines is extremely diverse. From the college student seeking weekend plans to the local business magnate in the market for legitimate sales prospects, there is a forum to offer your advice and expertise to a varied audience, which brings a wide-ranging customer base through your doors.

5. Participate in Regional Radio Interviews

While guest columns and opinion-editorials in print have a longer-lasting impact toward your business aims – it is a permanent medium for your thoughts and know-how – radio interviews can provide an immediate boon to your profit margins.

Connecting with decision makers with local radio outlets – via social media or email – is a fantastic first step to donning headphones and contributing in-studio. Many producers and personalities are also active at community networking events, and a brief conversation and a number exchange may lead to an on-air interview.

After his enlightening conversation, William began employing the techniques outlined by his colleague, and saw a significant increase in his bottom-line and local profile. By utilizing his distinct set of expertise to contribute in other facets of the business realm, he has amplified his reach and cemented his position as an erudite force in the local community.

About the Author:

Russell Trahan is president of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target market in print and online. PR/PR represents experts of all kinds who are seeking national exposure for their business or organization. Trahan and PR/PR will raise your business’ awareness in the eyes of your clients and customers.  For more information, visit www.prpr.net or email [email protected] for a free consultation.

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