Understanding the Buyer’s Perspectivestring(39) "Understanding the Buyer’s Perspective"

One time when I was traveling, I met someone with whom I had a very interesting conversation about sales. I was sitting at an airport waiting for my plane and started talking with the young man sitting next to me. He was wearing a nice suit, was equipped with a laptop, and looked like he was traveling for work. I asked if he was going to the same business event I was going to; he was not. However, during our conversation he said that he was new to the sales industry and found it somewhat difficult to achieve the level of success he had envisioned for himself when he first got into his profession. I offered some advice to him and I’m going to share it here with you, too.

I believe one of the most important keys to selling is understanding the buyer’s perspective.

Selling has everything to do with finding out what the customer wants, what they are able to pay for, and then making the deal (with the assumption that you can provide the service and/or product they want). Yet, this process is far from straightforward. If it were truly that simple, there would be no demand for salespeople; buyers could get everything they need from a machine.

Many buyers embark on their purchasing journey with only vague ideas of what they may need. Turning a buyer’s vagueness into clear solutions is the job of the salesperson. It is also their job to remember that the buyer is looking for the best possible solution for their needs, delivered to them in an effective and pleasurable manner.

It is crucial to recognize that buyers are multifaceted, and they are going to weigh the pros and cons of any potential purchase. Some considerations are shared openly with the seller, while others are kept to themselves. Adapting to the buyer’s unspoken thoughts and progressing towards a satisfying conclusion represents a complex and intricate task that rests on the shoulders of the adept sales professional. As we step into an era of heightened consumer awareness and digital empowerment, understanding the nuances of the buyer’s perspective requires a blend of traditional acumen and contemporary insights.

The Sales Clock

My friend Brian Roach, a computer technology expert, told me about a concept he calls the sales clock, which he described like this:

It’s a great day. You answered a call from a new prospect, met with their team to discuss your product, and . . . they asked you for a proposal. Soon after delivering your proposal, you started your wait for their decision. The sales clock ticks as you wait on the fate of your proposal. It may tick a long time before hearing back from the customer, and as the seller, you don’t know if you are being ‘stiffed’ or if the customer is swamped with other pressing priorities. Whatever the reason, waiting out the sales clock can be stressful. The last thing you want is for your own stress to create a negative impact on your prospect.

Brian reminds us that ‘it’s all about the customer,’ in the sense that they are the ultimate buyer. And yet the seller also must earn a wage or commission, meet monthly targets, and ensure proper scheduling for the workload. The waiting period after proposal submission remains a source of stress for sellers awaiting the prospective client’s decision. In this evolved sales clock, time ticks not only in hours but in the real-time interactions that occur across diverse digital platforms.

Sellers must now navigate the intricacies of a digitally connected world. The customer’s perspective is shaped by instantaneous responses, personalized interactions, and the seamless integration of online and offline experiences. Brian’s sales clock reminds us to always look at both the customer’s perspective as well as the seller’s demands with each sales scenario.

Tapping into the Customer’s Perspective

I have some tactics to help you as the seller determine if the buyer is putting you off or simply attending to other pressing business demands. I am also sharing some effective communication techniques which will help you tap into the customer’s perspective.

  1. Attentive Listening:

Actively listen to what they are saying without thinking ahead to what you are going to say next. Focus on them, their words, and their body language to discern whether they are genuinely disinterested or perhaps preoccupied with other matters.

  1. Understand Behavioral Styles:

Learning about behavioral styles gives you knowledge about how to craft your sales interactions to the style of communication that is most comfortable to the client. All people like to be communicated with in a manner that is most familiar to them, and this helps you customize a sales approach for each unique individual.

  1. Product Presentation:

The product presentation is one form of customer communication that has a strong influence on a successful sale.

Andy Bounds, a sales communication expert from England, reminds us that the
“ . . . prospect is really interested in the total opposite of most commonly delivered product presentations. The prospect only cares about his or her own present and future, whereas most presentations focus on the seller’s past and on the product features.” Andy reminds us to talk about what the product will do for the customer rather than its features. His favorite phrase is, “Customers don’t care what you do; they care about what they’re left with AFTER you’ve done it.” He uses the word “after” to keep the product presentation focused on the customer’s needs, and recommends these customer-oriented questions:

  • “What are you looking to achieve after our work together?”
  • “What would success look like to you as a result of this project?”
  • “Looking back a year from now, what will need to happen for you to think things have gone brilliantly?”

Nothing works perfectly every time; being able to read the customer’s buying signals is crucial to making necessary course corrections that meet the customer’s top-of-mind concerns.

The state of the selling art allows masterful salespeople to combine a little science with human relation strategies to create a wonderful buying experience for the consumer, while still maximizing the seller’s commission. 

As a business professional, you want to craft a positive buying experience while also making it a seamless and memorable journey for the consumer. Timing remains as crucial as ever, and mastering these strategies and techniques is imperative for sellers to address today’s customers effectively by understanding and respecting their perspective.

Good Customer Service Alone Doesn’t Win Referralsstring(51) "Good Customer Service Alone Doesn’t Win Referrals"

Many businesspeople are under the impression that if they provide good customer service, people will automatically refer business to them. Of course, customer service is important. But good customer service is just a prerequisite; it is a minimum expectation.

Think about it. Would you refer somebody to me if I provided lousy customer service? Of course not. Your own credibility would suffer.

Good customer service is part of what the prospect expects when you refer them to me. If you are recommending me to them, I must be something pretty special, right? And if I want to keep that customer coming back, I have to provide more than the minimum expectation of simply good customer service. I will need to provide great, outstanding, memorable customer service to really stand out.

The Misconception about Customer Service

In my book, The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret, I say that some people are under the delusion that good customer service alone was enough to enable them to build their business through word-of-mouth. This misconception about customer services is one of the delusions people have about networking and referral marketing.

People don’t refer business to you because you meet their minimum expectations. They refer you because they expect you to do a good job which, in turn, enhances their relationship with the person they are referring to you. They expect you to provide outstanding value to the prospect. They want that person to come back to them and say, “Thanks for sending me to Joe Trueblue. He had just what I needed, and the service was great. You sure know some outstanding people!”

Your referral source has a strong interest in making sure everyone comes out a winner. They know that when the happy customer comes back to you again and again, you are more likely to send business their way when the need arises. The great service you provide to the customer comes back to you in the form of a stronger relationship with your referral partner.

My friend Bob Burg, author of Endless Referrals and The Go-Giver, shares his view on what it takes to consistently receive referrals:

Of course, having an excellent product is important. However, technology today has made that commonplace and expected. In order to have qualified prospects “beating a path to your door,” you must be able to network and to market yourself and your product or service in such a way that it makes people want to do business with you and refer you to others. You need to provide them with such a great buying experience that they know they made the right decision. However, to get them there in the first place, it’s the networking and marketing that’s most important.

Being in a referral group like BNI is one of several important parts of an effective word-of-mouth marketing plan. One of the things these groups emphasize is that you need to be very specific in what you do and in how your product or service is uniquely valuable. If you use general terms, you’re at the lowest level of competitive effectiveness. And if you say, “customer service,” that’s not what people are buying.

In the book Truth or Delusion, we say that you don’t sell the process; you sell the result:

Talking about what you do does not motivate people as much as what happens to their client or friend as a result of what you do. I used to sell copiers, and I never met anybody who was buying good customer service. They were buying the ability to make photocopies quickly and reliably. They weren’t shopping for customer service, because that’s a prerequisite. It is part of what creates that end result.

The Importance of Testimonials

Referral networks often feature third-party testimonials, in which someone who has used your product or service tells the group, “I’ve used Maria’s products, and I’m here to tell you, they’re the best I’ve ever found.” Hearing it directly from someone they know is often enough to get people to believe it and act on that belief.

Testimonials are crucial to the referral process, especially within referral and networking groups. When you stand up and say, “I’ve used this person’s business, and you should use this person too, because . . .” and then go on to explain why, it is powerful and can change how people view that service provider. Your experiences become my experiences. This makes it much easier for people to refer that provider–even if they haven’t personally used their services yet.

Remember, unhappy customers are 11 times more likely to talk about your business than happy customers. Good customer service only reduces negative word-of-mouth; it doesn’t necessarily increase your business through positive word-of-mouth. Build an effective network of strong business relationships to increase your referrals.

converting prospects into customers

Converting Prospects Into Customersstring(35) "Converting Prospects Into Customers"

Your referral source has done her job and emailed you a referral. If she is a BNI member, she passed you the referral via BNI Connect. Now it’s time to contact the prospect. But be careful: The purpose of your first contact call is not to make a sale or even ask the prospect if he has questions about your business. If, and only if, the prospect asks, should you present your products or services during this first contact call. Remember, when converting prospects into customers, you must first build a relationship. It may take a while, but if you follow these recommendations, you’ll speed up the process of closing the deal.

Do your homework.

First, contact the referral source who passed you the referral. Ask the referral source for any relevant information. As we are currently practicing physical distancing globally and working from home, the first contact meeting cannot be a face-to-face meeting at this time. Instead, the preferred format for this first meeting is to do a video conference call. However, ask the referral source to contact the prospect on your behalf to determine if the prospect wants to be contacted by you via telephone or video conference call for the first call.

If the prospect prefers this first contact call to be a telephone call, do not delay. Make your first contact telephone call with the prospect within 72 hours.

If the prospect prefers this first contact call to be an online video conference call, send an email to the prospect requesting possible dates, times, and their preferred video call platform (Facetime, Zoom, MS Teams, Gotowebinar, etc..). Please confirm the time zone if the prospect if not living in your area.

If the referral source can be present, invite the referral source to attend this video conference call with you and the prospect. This way, the referral source can introduce you in person to the prospect at the start of the video call with a more thorough briefing about you, your business and your products or services.

First Contact Telephone Call / Online Video Conference Call

Before the first contact call, look up the website and the various social media pages for the prospect’s business for additional information. Review their website to understand their business better. Use these sources of information to get to know the prospect better and to prepare questions to ask about them on the first contact call.

Reminder: The purpose of your first contact call is not to make a sale or even ask the prospect if he has questions about your business. If, and only if, the prospect asks, should you present your products or services during this first contact call.

The purpose of the first contact call is to:

  • Begin to build the relationship;
  • Get to know the prospect better;
  • Help the prospect get to know you better;
  • Find out how you can help them;
  • Position yourself to make your next contact; and
  • Judge if the prospect fits your source’s description of her.

You’ve Got Mail

Within 24 hours after the first contact call, it is recommended to email the prospect with a summary of the call, fun facts about the prospect, any information requested by the prospect, a brief note of gratitude, the next steps, and your contact information.

When you start composing your email, start by naming your referral source–a name the prospect will recognize.

Writing this email gives you a better, more controlled opportunity to convey what you’ve learned about the prospect. It helps develop your relationship to let your prospect know you find him interesting enough to have taken the time to learn a few facts about him. Express an interest in meeting him again, and advise him you’ll be calling to schedule a mutually convenient appointment for the next online video conference call.

Do not attach and send your business literature with this email unless requested by the prospect. This will avoid giving the impression that you’re interested in him primarily as a prospective customer.

Make the Call

Give the prospect a week to process this email before you follow up with a telephone call. When you telephone the prospect, ask if he has any questions from the first contact call. Plus, offer to send more information via postal mail. If the prospect indicates that he would want this, send it right away. Finally, schedule a second video conference call while on this telephone call. Hopefully soon, we will once again be able to meet people face-to-face again.

Following Up When Converting Prospects Into Customers

When building relationships, it’s always important not to let much time lapse without following up on the first contact. Within two to three days of the follow-up telephone call, you should send your prospect a note via postal mail expressing your pleasure in communicating with him. It’s still too early, though, to automatically send business literature unless requested above or to make any move toward sales promotion.

So follow up early, but don’t push beyond the prospect’s comfort level. Once the prospect has expressed an interest in your products or services, you can provide information about them, but don’t force it on him. Continue presenting your products or services, but avoid the hard sell. Focus on fulfilling his needs and interests. Your goal should be to keep your prospect aware of your business without annoying him.

If you have prepared your referral sources well, your efforts may pay off on your very first call. Most often, the prospect from a referral will need more time. Many people were financially affected by the changes from the viral outbreak. Therefore, this may not be the ideal time for them to hire you for your services. They may express an interest in talking later about your products or services and hiring you when the situation improves. Be patient when converting prospects into customers.

Emotional Intelligence

Build a High (EQ) Emotional Intelligencestring(40) "Build a High (EQ) Emotional Intelligence"

Building your “Emotional Intelligence” also known as “Emotional Quotient” or “EQ” is extremely important right now. Emotional Intelligence is the ability we have to manage our relationships with other people. EQ is the skill we developed as business owners before the pandemic to network with others face-to-face and build our “social capital”.

However, physical isolation and working from home has led to changing the way we are networking these days. We currently cannot network in person nor meet with clients at our places of business. Instead, our networking is online and our businesses are virtual. Therefore, managing our relationships with other people by building a high-EQ is even more important than ever.

The higher your Emotional Intelligence is, the more natural your ability to network will be. You can improve your EQ by understanding and applying some important online networking concepts.

Develop a dynamic online networking style

Networking is so much more than attending the typical face-to-face meet-n-greet routine events. These days, we are not attending face-to-face events; we are networking online and by telephone. Therefore, your networking style needs to also change to maintain your social capital. Developing an online networking style that is deliberate, dynamic, and habitual will help you to build higher Emotional Intelligence.

This can be done while working from home by reading books and other internet articles about online marketing and learning from others their techniques for applying your previous word-of-mouth networking skills to networking online. Adapting your networking skills will take conscious practice and application before they become habits. Build a high-EQ by creating a dynamic plan to network online these days.

Network online appropriately 

Be sensitive to the fact that we are all in this together when building your online networking style. Businesses not used to networking online promote their company with an almost vulture-like intensity. They flood social media with direct sales ads and posts about their business to people they hardly know. This will result in lowering your Emotional Intelligence. Furthermore, the business world has changed and networking has adapted to a virtual market. We are no longer able to attend face-to-face networking events to pass out our business cards, obtain transactional leads, and ask someone the ubiquitous “what do you do?”.  Instead, we need to post regularly on our social media pages, build our relationships with others, pass referrals, and ask others “How can I help?” Understanding how to network appropriately online is another sign of a high-EQ networker.

Stay connected and follow-up with others

Picking up the phone and staying connected with clients, customers, and colleagues is an area where the high Emotional Intelligence networker excels. A skillful online networker will never miss an opportunity to follow-up after an introduction to a new business contact. I recommend that you write testimonials on the social media business pages for your referral partners. Plus, reach out and do the same for those businesses you have used both personally and professionally over the years. Leave a comment on a few of their social media posts too. I also recommend that you request your clients, customers, and colleagues to write testimonials and reviews on your social media pages too. Now is a great time to create a newsletter that you can email to all your clients about the current changes to your business, special promotions, how you are helping others, and include the URL links to all your social media pages. Ask them to like and follow each of your pages in addition to a request for testimonials from them about your business.

Following up with others on referrals (received & given) is not our favorite thing, but it is something that needs a lot of finesse and demands diligence. Pick up the phone and call. Many business people are working from home alone and do not have other people to talk to. Keeping your name, your business’s name and your expertise in front of others is very important these days. And it’s important to follow up more than once. High-EQ networkers use their telephones, social media pages and emails to network online and re-connect with each other often to build a strong long-lasting relationship.

Maintain customer loyalty

Many entrepreneurs focus so much on bringing in new business that they miss the boat on maintaining customer loyalty with gratitude. Keeping current customers coming back and referring others to you is important for business success and growth! The entrepreneur who understands this makes their customers feel valued and appreciated. They will come back and refer others to you, even if you are working from home. Becoming friends with each person with whom you do business is an indicator of a high-EQ networker.

Business owners will be referred to and promoted by others because of Emotional Intelligence and their ability to develop social capital. With online networking these days, high-EQ networkers can maintain a strong word-of-mouth based business.

Case Studies

How to Create Case Studies that Make Customers Buy, Engage and Ascendstring(69) "How to Create Case Studies that Make Customers Buy, Engage and Ascend"

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topics of “The New Customers Experience” and “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company” on my blog.  Today, he is sharing the topic of creating case studies. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.

Creating Case Studies

Your customer has three important decisions to make about you and your products. With each decision you have the opportunity to win or lose the customer.

Those decision points are:

  1. Should I give this product a try?
  2. I bought, is this really worth what I invested in time and money?
  3. I’ve been a customer for a while, I’ve enjoyed this in the past but is this still worthy of my time and money?

There’s one marketing tool that can help your customer choose you each time: a well-crafted client case study.

Really? A client case study?

Yes. These case studies and client stories are the most powerful tools you have on your side to foster strong relationships with potential customers, new customers, and long-time customers.

The publishing industry has undergone a huge transformation in recent years with subscriptions at historic lows. Today, Business Week is a shell of what it was with fewer than 950,000 subscribers each month. People Magazine, however, has more than 3.5 million subscribers. People want to read about other people.

Your customers want to hear about people like them. They want to hear stories of striving, overcoming, and of the underdog beating more powerful rivals. As great as your teachings and training resources are for your members, these stories are what they really want. You’ll attract and retain your customers in proportion to how well you deliver these stories.

These stories also prove that what you say is true. When you deliver example after example of individuals who have used your product or service and succeeded, you impact how your members think about your program and themselves. Even if a customer hasn’t gotten results. After reading or watching a video about one of your client success stories, they think, “Gee, maybe this is possible.”

After enough of these stories, your customer says to himself, “If that guy can do it, I can do it, too.” After this mindset transformation, she’s a lot more likely to use what she purchased and consider buying more. Which brings us to the question of the day:

How do you write a terrific client success story?

Recently, a long-time client asked me the following question about case studies; perhaps you have wondered something similar:

“My question for you is do you use these questions on clients based on what YOU did for them? YOUR process? Meaning, should I do these to sell myself and my product? Or do I put these forward as their own case studies of how my client became successful and leave me out? Then just mention some of the things I teach?”

On how far to promote yourself and your strategies in your case studies — it depends on the how you are using them.

If you are presenting case studies within a sales presentation, then you’ll want to make it clear where you were involved.

Or, if you are presenting this case study to existing members, you may be advocating a key philosophy. In this case, you may indicate the person is a member or client, then describe how using a particular product or service you sell created the impact.

To summarize: If you are in an overt sales situation, then be overt about your involvement. Then, in many other cases, it may be appropriate to illustrate the power of implementing your philosophy.

My formula for creating case studies is simple. I start by recording an interview with my member. I then provide the interview transcript to a writer to create a written case study.

Here are interview questions to get you started.

As you read the questions, replace the words “your member breakthrough process” with the name of your product or coaching program:

  • What’s your background? How did you get started doing what you are doing now?
  • How did you discover “your member breakthrough process”?
  • What did you think of it when you first saw it?
  • How did you get started implementing “your member breakthrough process”?
  • What has changed in your life since you discovered “your member breakthrough process”?
  • What advice do you have for someone else who has just discovered “your member breakthrough process” and is deciding whether or not to try it?

For best results I conduct these interviews personally. I can explore areas that would be interested to members by asking follow-up questions. However, if time is short I’ll often send these questions out as a survey instead.

Once I have a good interview recorded, I use the transcript to craft a compelling success story.

Once you have these case studies, you can use them in presentations, monthly newsletters, pull them together into books to give to prospects, or include them in email follow-up sequences to convert more prospects int customers.

Use demonstrations, capture case studies everywhere you can, and teach through examples rather than relying only on lectures.

Robert Skrob is the #1 expert in membership and customer retention and the author of the book, Retention Point The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth. He has helped hundreds of membership programs launch and then grow from start-ups to become some of the largest membership and subscription companies in the world.

 

Vibrant Community

Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company by Robert Skrobstring(64) "Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company by Robert Skrob"

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topic of “The New Customers Experience” on my blog.  Today, he is sharing the topic of “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company”. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.

Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company

What if you had 45 percent of the available customers within your market?

The mutual fund company, The Vanguard Group, does just that. More than 45 percent of the money flowing into mutual funds today goes into a Vanguard managed fund.

You’d think they wouldn’t need to do much for their customers. Since they specialize in index traded, set-it-and-forget-it type investment vehicles, you’d think they wouldn’t need to communicate with their members. In fact, the opposite is true. The Vanguard Group has one of the most vibrant customer tribes in the investment world, and it’s a large part of their success.

The term “Boglehead” may not mean much to you, but I’ve been a Boglehead since 1991. Actually, we weren’t called Bogleheads then; instead, we were known as “Vanguard Diehards.”

While I pursued my master’s degree in accountancy from Florida State University, I wrote a paper about index fund investing. Mind you, this was during the big recession of 1990-1992. Through my research, I discovered that fewer than 30 percent of the professionally managed mutual fund companies beat the S&P 500 index in any one year. And a much smaller percentage could beat the index over a period of five or 10 years.

I figured if full-time professionals couldn’t consistently beat the S&P 500 index, why should I believe I could pick stocks any better working part-time? I became a believer in index fund investing and have stuck with it ever since. Of the index funds, The Vanguard Group is consistently the least expensive, so I’ve been squirreling away my savings there ever since.

Jack Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group, passed away in January 2019 at the age of 89 years old.

As the founder and while CEO of Vanguard, Jack was an avid promoter of index fund investing. He was an outspoken critic of high-fee mutual funds and “financial buccaneers offering a panoply of silly investment strategies that people may not understand.”

Jack Bogle created thousands of fans. One of them started a membership site called Bogleheads.org. It’s grown to have an annual meeting with appearances by The Vanguard Group executives, a field trip to Vanguard headquarters, and featured speakers from the world of personal finance.

You may have different opinions with regard to investing. You may be a financial advisor who offers investment vehicles that directly conflict with what’s published on Bogleheads.org. However, see Bogleheads.org is an excellent case study on how you can create a vibrant community around your company, no matter what you offer.

Within the “Start here” menu, Bogleheads.org outlines the investment philosophy first promoted by Jack Bogle during the 1980s.  This gets new members caught up on the values of the Boglehead community. In a word, it indoctrinates them. This is a critical piece that’s missing from most information marketing businesses.

Bogleheads.org gives its members valuable information (ROI), a connection to a community of like-minded people, an opportunity to contribute by posting content, recognition for being helpful to other members, and an opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves.

Even though the site has a dated design and the founder of the philosophy has passed away there are still thousands of active users every day.

Plus, for Vanguard, it insulates its members against all the conflicting investment offers within the marketplace. The community helps customers believe the single best investment option is low expense mutual funds. The same low-cost mutual funds Vanguard happens to specialize in delivering.

What if you had a community indoctrinating new customers into believing the products and services you offer are indeed the best solutions to your customers’ problems? Perhaps like Vanguard, you could own 45% or more of your market?

It all starts with your core values. BNI’s core values are Givers Gain®, Building Relationships, Lifelong Learning, Traditions + Innovation, Positive Attitude, Accountability, and Recognition. When BNI members experience the power these values have within their business life they become excited members for life.

What are the core values of your company?

For The Vanguard Group, Jack Bogle had to convince investors that index funds were the smarter way to invest. What must your customers believe and how should they behave to get the most value from what you deliver?

This may be an “advanced” marketing skill. But when it’s complete, it can give you a fast-growing world-wide business that leaves competitors scrambling for second place.

Robert Skrob is the #1 expert in membership and customer retention and the author of the book, Retention Point The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth. He has helped hundreds of membership programs launch and then grow from start-ups to become some of the largest membership and subscription companies in the world.

New Customers

Are you pushing your new customers away or building trust for repeat business? by Robert Skrobstring(94) "Are you pushing your new customers away or building trust for repeat business? by Robert Skrob"

Today, I’ve asked Robert Skrob to do a guest blog for my site.  I thought it was fitting because Robert was recently a guest at my home to work on a new book that we are writing (the working title is: The Connector Effect).  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  I should also note that he was a great guest at our home. That statement has nothing to do with the incredible Cabernet Sauvignon that he gave us as a gift for staying with us.   Today, he is sharing the topic of “The New Customers Experience”.  Read closely – he is truly an expert.

The New Customers Experience

Imagine yourself walking into a restaurant at 3:32 p.m. It’s three hours past your regular lunchtime, and you are starving because you were in a hurry and skipped breakfast earlier, as well as your normal lunch. You have a headache from not eating. Just from feeling so hungry, you are grumpy and all-around sick. You finally get the attention of the hostess who was busy with table work as the lunch rush has long passed. The hostess walks you to a table where you are immediately greeted by your server. Your server takes one look at you and says, “You look hungry. I’m here to help you get the food you need, as quickly as possible. These are the three items that come out of the kitchen the fastest this time of day. They are 1. Salads 2. Soups and 3. Sandwiches. Would you like one of these three options, or would you like to see the entire menu?

How would you feel about that experience? A lot more confident, right? I know I’d be excited to have a server who recognized what I needed and dedicated herself to getting it to me as quickly as possible.

What if, instead, the server showed up with a tray full of desserts saying, “Darling, we’ve got a bunch of desserts left over from lunch. Here are some key lime pie, cheesecake, and a bowl of ice cream. Enjoy.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d be frustrated. Dessert may be fine later, but right now, I’m starving. I’d like to eat something before dessert. You’d likely feel the same way. You’d begin to wonder if you were in the right place or if you should find some other restaurant where the people working understand their job is to give real food (rather than desserts) to hungry people.

Too many businesses make a similar error with their customers. I’ve come across many who welcome their new customers with friendly conversations, follow-up calls from customer service reps. and/or gifts of cookies, coffee cups, and T-shirts. This is similar to delivering desserts to a hungry, grumpy, in-a-hurry guest in a restaurant.

Chances are, your customer didn’t join because he wanted to speak with someone from your support department. So when she receives the call, she’s thinking, “That’s nice, but this doesn’t solve my problem.” To you, it’s another contact to demonstrate you care. To your new customer, it feels like pestering.

If I buy your product to get a tool or to learn how to relieve some pain in my life, that’s what I’m going to be looking for. And anything I get that’s inconsistent with that solution is going to make me wonder if I can really trust you to deliver the solution you promised. So think: How can you craft the first thing your customer receives to be your version of the “Here are the three items we have that come out of the kitchen the fastest …” solution to your customer’s greatest hunger? After all, in order to make the sale, you did all you could to point out your customer’s pain points, irritate that pain, and make him so uncomfortable he couldn’t do anything but buy immediately. He’s ready, so why are you making him wait? And it’s not just friendly calls and gifts.

There’s a place for dessert at lunch. Let’s go back to our restaurant story. What if, after you enjoyed a hearty lunch, served promptly, the waitress came by with some free desserts? At that point, dessert would be awesome. Those desserts would have a tremendous impact. To have a positive impact on customer retention, you can deliver those bonus “desserts” after you’ve delivered on your core promises and have built trust with your new member. When your customer chooses to buy from you, you have a short window of time to solve the problems you promised to solve, or you will quickly lose their trust. This is your opportunity to deliver your very best solutions, quickly and concisely, so you can establish yourself as someone your customer can rely on.

Robert Skrob is the #1 expert in membership and customer retention and the author of the book, Retention Point The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth. He has helped hundreds of membership programs launch and then grow from start-ups to become some of the largest membership and subscription companies in the world.

Steve Farber

Steve Farber says “Love is Good Business”string(53) "Steve Farber says “Love is Good Business”"

Fellow Transformational Leadership Council member and friend, Steve Farber, talks to me about focusing on finding love in business. Steve is one of the best speaker’s I’ve seen on the stage.  His message is both surprising and impactful. When we were in Cancun together last week, he talked to me about love being a part of your every day mantra as a business owner.

It’s true. Love is just damn good business. Here’s the logic:

1. You have a massive competitive advantage when your customers love your product or service.

2. The only way to create that experience for customers in a meaningful and sustainable way over time is to create an environment or culture that people love working in.

3. You can’t create that kind of culture unless you love your business, your team, your colleagues, your employees, your customers, yourself, first.

4. Employees will model how they are treated by their leaders.

Love being part of our every day business

Businesses that promote love and celebrate love still need profits to keep their doors open, but they understand the powerful connection between loving what you do in the service of people who love what you do. It builds strong relationships, trust, loyalty, and the commitment that allows a business to not only make money but make a difference. Love being part of our every day business is no more complicated than the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.

Steve Farber, founder of The Extreme Leadership Institute, is a popular keynote speaker and leadership expert. Steve’s been featured on my blog before. He’s the bestselling author of The Radical Leap, The Radical Edge, and Greater Than Yourself. Learn more about Steve on his website at stevefarber.com

Think of this the next time you order a pizza. It’s a great example of “love is just damn good business” in action. 

Truluck's

You Achieve What You Measure – A Truluck’s Storystring(60) "You Achieve What You Measure – A Truluck’s Story"

Since I moved to Austin Texas, I’ve discovered a number of restaurants that I really enjoy.  One of them is Truluck’s in downtown Austin.  The first time my wife and I went to Truluck’s we couldn’t help but notice how engaged the host was when we walked up to check in for our reservation.  He was welcoming, friendly, and conversational.  It was unusual in that the host seemed more engaging than the normal friendly host you might get when you enter a good restaurant.  He was incredibly personable and it stood out to me. I took a mental note and wondered if the rest of the experience would be the same.

I sat down and the wait staff was very attentive (but not too attentive).  They were right on the spot when I needed something but they didn’t interrupt constantly.  The wine list was great (see this blog to know why that’s important to me).   Then, the meal came out.  It was phenomenal.  For me, a great meal paired with a great wine and great service are the proof of the existence of a divine being.  OK, maybe I exaggerate a little but it was really good.

My wife and I had a nice long dinner and a great experience.  When we were ready to go, the wait staff brought out the bill and a computer tablet.  The tablet had a series of survey questions on it.  The first is the screenshot on this blog.  They asked if I received a hospitable welcome from the host when I arrived!  Voila!  I now understood why the host really went out of his way to make us feel welcome.  (By the way, I scored it as “Absolutely!)”  The restaurant had about six questions in total relating to the experience during the evening and I checked each one of them at the highest possible level.

Truluck's

Trulucks measured key factors in their restaurant experience and the management got an immediate, real-time result for each of these areas.  This is a perfect example of “Achieving What You Measure.”  In their case, there was no delay in getting the results.  They could tell exactly how people felt about the experience before the customer even left the restaurant.  On one of my visits to Trulucks, I spoke to the manager, Thomas, about the survey system at the restaurant.  He said that the previous month they received a 98% positive rating from the customer surveys.  I told him that was outstanding.  I love his response.  He said, “actually, we always shoot for 100%.”

We could all learn from this type of management control system.  Well done to Trulucks.  I look forward to going back again soon.

 

Introducing Garage to Globalstring(28) "Introducing Garage to Global"

Garage to Global

What does it take to start a home-based business and turn it into a global organization?  I am sharing the many lessons I’ve learned to do just that.

In 1985, I started a small business from my home in Southern California.  Today, BNI has ovBNI Member Growth Through 2014er 7,400 locations in more than 65 countries around the world (see the member growth chart to the right).

From business networking to management, scaling a business, and surrounding yourself with good people, I will be sharing with you the secrets for building a global brand.

Go here and subscribe to my new Garage to Global Channel (part of the Entrepreneur Network) on YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/garagetoglobal.

Share with me below what you think it takes to go from “garage to global” (but don’t forget to subscribe to my new channel. 🙂

Why We Need to Stop Reinventing the Wheelstring(41) "Why We Need to Stop Reinventing the Wheel"

ID-10026461As business people and networkers, and even in our personal lives, we are often trying to make things harder than they need to be. There is an abundance of techniques, for sales, communicating, and general business practices, that are tried and true, so much so that they seem too simple to truly be effective. We re-evaluate them, we “improve” upon them, and we overcomplicate them. Possibly worse, we sometimes just scrap the old way and try to start over from scratch.

Often, we think we are smarter than those who came before us. Our egos prevent us from listening to those who have more history. The danger here with reinventing the wheel is that it puts us in danger of history repeating itself.

Here are three common warning signs that you may be falling into the danger zone of repeating work, and what to do about them.

  • Instead of solving a problem, you come up with new features to cover it up. First and foremost, this is poor customer service to add features to try to distract from a known issue with a good or service. Instead of wasting your time coming up with new features on an old issue, spend time diving into the old issue and make minor changes on existing features to elevate the whole product.
  • When something with history doesn’t work perfectly, you think it might be easier to start over. Without a doubt, there was a reason things got to where they are. Instead of erasing all of the work of those before you, do a little research. Take time to talk with your predecessors and learn what the motivation behind choices were. Chances are you will discover the core problem, and be able to instead make moves to target that issue, instead of starting over.
  • The wheel you’re looking at reinventing is a common wheel that many business people are faced with. Is your wheel unique to you, or is it something that many in your profession are faced with? If the latter, it is highly possible that there are many people also working to reinvent that wheel right now. Perhaps it is a standard business practice in your field that simply doesn’t work. Instead of putting forth resources (including time and money) to tackle it on your own, see if there is a group in your field working on this issue. If you are working to forge new paths at the same time others are trying to do the same thing, you’re all wasting resources and could likely work more effectively as a team.

Have you ever tried to reinvent the wheel? What happened?

Ya Gotta Know Your Audience!string(28) "Ya Gotta Know Your Audience!"

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We were having some wine the other night with a friend who had just come from a private jet show in Geneva, Switzerland (sounds like fun!). He was telling us about what a great job one of the exclusive, high-end private jet companies had done to wow their potential customers.

He said that they gave a new iPad to each invited guest in which they had loaded all the specs for their various jets, including apps that let the prospects choose the plane they were interested and create a custom interior from all their choices – woods, carpeting, leathers, etc . . . They could see what their new plane would look like right there on the spot. Brilliant!

Everyone seemed extremely impressed with this high-tech marketing tool, until it was handed to someone my friend recognized immediately – Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft.

His words? Something like, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Someone had failed to think about how the Founder of Microsoft would react to being handed an Apple product to use in the process of a potential sale. It’s a small detail, you may think, but you really have to know your audience. What may seem like a small detail to you could end up being huge to your potential customer and could make or break the deal!

Have you witnessed a situation where someone didn’t think about their audience and blew an opportunity? If so, please share it here–I’d really like to hear about it.  Thanks!

1 2