Friday, April 30, 2010

Behind Every Sale Is a Person

Behind every sale is a person. You may call this person your customer or client, but regardless of what you call them, they matter in whether your business flourishes or flounders, survives or sinks, makes a profit or plummets in sales. . If you constantly keep this thought in mind you will do well in whatever people business you find to occupy your time. Every person with whom you interact wants these things.

I love what Spencer Johnson, M.D. and Larry Wilson wrote in their powerful little book called The One Minute Sales Person.
“People buy for their reasons, not ours.
People buy for how a product or service makes them feel.
People buy for prestige and a sense of empowerment.
People buy for added value.
People buy because you help them get what they want.
People buy for the good feelings they want about what they bought.
People buy trust and service.”
(The One Minute Sales Person, Spencer Johnson, M.D. and Larry Wilson)

People buy for their reasons, not ours.
I had preferences on the feel of certain mattresses when I sold them, but often customers had their own preferences when making their choices. I could tell them all of the data that mattered in how mattresses are constructed and how they felt, but people bought for their own tastes and preferences, not mine. Remember this always.

People buy for how a product or service makes them feel.
Feel is such a personal matter, but the bottom line is that it really does boil down to how a customer feels and if they can see themselves using a particular product. I remember selling a mattress to a lady simply because it had a Fur Elise pattern in the quilting layer.

People buy for prestige and a sense of empowerment.
How many people buy the same kind of golf clubs as Tiger Woods? Products that are successfully marketed use power words and phrases and popular personalities to promote these products simply because of the power of prestige.

People buy for added value.
What else will your product do for me? Will I be more handsome? More desirable? Will I attract that all important job by wearing your clothes? What attributes can you bring in that will let people know about the added value your products or services bring to the table?

People buy because you help them get what they want.
You help get what they want by listening, looking and observing body language, expressions and hearing the spoken and non-spoken hints that your customers give away. Speak in terms of the other person’s wants and needs is basic to relating to people.

People buy for the good feelings they want about what they bought.
People want a good value for their money spent. If you show them value and quality, be very clear in telling the story of that particular product. Sell benefits. People want a good deal but they want great quality.

People buy trust and service.”
In case you haven’t noticed, there are some less-than-ethical sales people in the workforce today. Customers want to be able to trust you, but they have been burned too many times and their trust factor is shot. I often have to work hard during the first twenty minutes of a sales presentation simply earning my customers trust. I have to present myself as knowledgeable, and I have to come across as sincere, trustworthy and someone who shows that I can be trusted. I want to enter into a partnership with my customers, not just a salesman/customer relationship. I can be your biggest ally if you’ll allow me to help you.

What are your attitudes toward your customers?

Behind every sale is a person. And that person wants respect and to be made to feel important.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Catch People Doing Something Right

Catch me if you can, but catch me doing something right!  Tom Peters wrote about this philosophy in his book In Search of Excellence. During my good fortune to work for Sylvan Learning Centers I had opportunities to perpetuate this good philosophy. Let me tell you about it.

When I worked for Sylvan Learning Centers in Texas we adopted this philosophy of “Catch People Doing Something Right”. Not only were we in the business of tutoring students and helping them fix skill gaps in their learning in specified subjects, but a huge part of our philosophy was to build up the self-esteem of our students.

We would look for small things a student might do in a positive behavioral way and then reinforce this good behavior by some kind of “reward in the moment” method.

This philosophy has huge implications for students and adults as well. Some of the behaviors we looked for and rewarded were:
-If we saw a student pick up a piece of paper and deposit it in a nearby trash can
-A student who kept all four legs of their chair on the floor during the learning session
-Smiling and a good attitude
-Trying their very best, even if they were struggling and not getting it perfectly
-Staying focused on one’s own assigned school work without daydreaming

When a student was caught doing something right, we would reward them instantly with a positive word specific to the act and then give them a token which would be used to purchase small toys in our Sylvan store after each class session. The verbal praise was just as important as the token.

How about you? Do you appreciate it when someone in your life recognizes and acknowledges some action of yours? Of course, we all love that kind of recognition.

Have you mastered the art of catching people doing something right? Anyone can catch people doing something wrong. But to turn the tables and recognize them for doing something right and rewarding them instantly right on the spot, now that is fresh.

Tips for Catching People Doing Something Right
1.  Do it as soon as possible and as close in time proximity to the actual good deed. Milk goes stale if left out of the refrigerator for a few hours. Don’t let too much time lapse between the deed and the acknowledgement. Your words will have the most impact the closer they come in connection with the deed performed.
2.  Praise in public. Criticize in private. This is still great advice for catching people doing something right.
3.  Make the acknowledgement fit the deed. Every act is not deserving of balloons, a brass band and a plaque. Sometimes just a simple few words lasts for days.
4.  Make sure and spread around the good cheer and positive reinforcing words. Most of us will always have our favorite person that we love to heap praise and compliments on, but make sure and spread the positive praises around to include your whole team as often as possible.
5.  Be sincere in your words of affirmation and be specific. “Carl, I loved the way you listened attentively to that nice lady just now. You head her out, let her speak her mind without interrupting and then provided the perfect solution. That was a model example of excellent customer service. Thank you.”
6.  The more you catch someone doing something right the more they will want to do the right things, and that, my friends, oils the human relationship experience, improves the bottom line and makes for an enjoyable environment at home, at work and anywhere else we choose to practice this character trait.
7.  If you point out something someone has done right, they are more likely to repeat and model the correct behavior. Can you relate to this statement? I can.
8.  Use an indirect compliment. Once my manager asked my opinion on what I felt were some key mattresses we should have on hand in our store. About twenty minutes later I called him back and gave my recommendations. He thanked me, confirmed my choices and added that he agreed with my suggestions. I felt esteemed for that moment and it lasted much of the day.

Catch people doing something right, and tell the world!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Be Present. Be In the Moment.

Don’t you love it when someone with whom you are engaged in conversation actually listens and looks at you? When I leave someone like that I am thinking “I like that person. They have great manners. They made me feel important.” The art of “being present” when engaged in conversation with someone is one of the key people skills that sets you apart from the rest of the field.  Your customers require it, your friends merit it, and you show good people skills when you demonstrate this trait.

Be Present by Listening
I developed the habit a long time ago that whenever someone entered my office I would stop whatever I was doing, turn to face them directly and give them my undivided attention. If I was typing on my computer, I would remove my hands from the keyboard. If I was reading, I would put down my reading material so that I might concentrate fully on them and what they had to say. I wanted them to feel important. I wanted to be present with them for this moment in time.

Attention shows respect, and respect is a great way to make someone feel important. If you call me on the phone, and it is convenient for me to take your call, I will stop typing, reading, or working, and tune in to our conversation. I owe you that kind of respect and attention. After all, you ARE important.

Be in the Moment
In retail, there is a rule called “Floor Awareness” in which every sales person is supposed to become aware of the floor at all times and note when a new customer comes into the store. The objective is to make sure that every person is given proper attention. If I am with a customer and another customer enters the store, I will make sure I stay tuned into the first customer and whatever they may be saying, and at a convenient pause in the conversation I’ll excuse myself with clear reasoning as to what I’m about to do with a word of assurance that I’ll be right back.

Use Appropriate Eye Contact
I remember meeting Congressman Chet Edwards when I was living in Waco, Texas. We had a brief two-minute conversation after an event at which he spoke. Even though there were dozens of other well-wishers awaiting their turn to speak to him, Congressman Edwards never took his eyes off me. He stayed completely tuned into our conversation. I have always remembered his focus and attention. He stayed present in our conversation and he never looked over his shoulder to see the next person with whom he was to speak. What a great role model.

Always remember, there is a human being at the other end of your transaction, and that human being wants one thing only from you. They want to be made “to feel important”.

Remember, every person you meet is wearing an invisible sign around their neck that says, “MAKE ME FEEL IMPORTANT.” (Mary Kay Ash, People Management)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Just Because It Fits Doesn't Mean It Fits

As a child I had an abundant curiosity about things and how they worked. I wasn’t exactly mechanically gifted; for instance, I couldn’t take a radio apart and put it back together and make it work, but I was curious nevertheless.

When I was four, on a Saturday afternoon, my Mom and Dad were getting all of us ready to go to some event. We were dressed in our Sunday best.

Mom helped me get dressed and then left me and continued with her other chores before we were to leave. I stayed in her room and was messing around with stuff on her dressing table. I found a box of plastic snap-together pearls that I thought were the most fascinating things in the world.

For some unexplained reason, I wanted to see how many of these pearls I could stick up my nose. Seems I was able to get three pearls up my nose before I decided it was best that I remove them before I got caught for doing something I probably wasn’t supposed to be doing in the first place.

I was able to successfully remove two of the pearls, but in my youthful exuberance to put them there, I jammed them in too hard and this last pearl was lodged way too far up my nostril and there was nothing I could do to make it come out. I knew I was I in big trouble, but there was no way I was going to confess what I had done.

And then came the moment of reckoning!

My Mom came back into her bedroom to give me one last going-over before we left for our event.

One of my Mom’s techniques to assure that we were fully ready was to clean our ears and nose with a bobby pin. Mom began to work on me; first the ears, and then she moved to the nose.

She put the bobby pin up my right side and heard a click. She pushed a bit more and mused to herself, “What in the world?” She tilted my head back and saw this shiny orb starring back at her.

She called out to my Dad, “Jay, come here!”

Dad called back, “What’s the matter Mother?”

“There’s something wrong with Mike.”

Dad came, shined a flash light up my nose and saw the shinny pearl. He asked what I had done and I had to tell.

He immediately dropped what he was doing and took me down to the corner doctor’s office (can’t remember his name). The doctor laid me out on his examination table, shined a light up my nose and began pressing and probing around on my nose.

All of a sudden he pulled on my arm and jerked me up off that table and put his hand under my mouth and out popped the pearl, no pain, no problem, no fuss.

Well, that was a happier ending than what might have happened, wouldn’t you agree?

Here’s the point. Just because it fits, doesn’t mean it fits. Those pearls fitted perfectly in my nose, but they didn’t belong in my nose.

How many times have we tried to make things fit just because “it would be nice”, or “it looks so great on me”, or even “but I like her, she’s pretty”.

Sometimes we make things fit, like jobs, because it is such a great company with which to work, or it is in a great city and we have always wanted to live there.

I’ve had relationships that didn’t fit. Have you? We were two perfectly well adjusted individuals, we liked each other, there was an attraction to each other, but for several unexplainable reasons we just didn’t “fit” together. The chemistry, the Karma, the charisma was all wrong.

Just because we were male and female didn’t mean we would automatically fit.

My friend KJ went to work recently with two different color shoes on. They both fit his feet, but they didn’t “fit” from a fashion standpoint.

I recently re-read the book Your Natural Gifts by Margaret Broadly. This book tells the story of the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, whose sole purpose is to test individuals and help discover their natural gifts and what they are most gifted to do. Mrs. Broadly relates numerous examples of people finding their bliss after chasing dead-end dreams for years.

In one instance she tells of a man who followed in his father’s surgeon footsteps and was a miserable failure because he lacked the critical skill of finger dexterity. That is a huge example of trying to “make it fit just because it fits.”

When it’s a natural fit, you’ll know it. You’ll feel a calmness, an inner assurance of “this is so right.”

I hope you find people, experiences, books and thoughts that fit perfectly into your life.

In closing, I want to leave you with this thought, but it doesn’t fit.

“I will stick no pearl up my nose before its time.” (with apologies to Orson Wells and Paul Masson Wines)

So I’ll just say this …

Just Because It Fits Doesn’t Mean It Fits!

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming

Today is Friday. It is raining on the outside. It’s windy and unusually cold for April in the northwest. But Sunday’s coming.

Today we have stuff to do. Carolyn has her internship. I have my Friday morning in the library writing.

Tonight we attend a Good Friday service. But Sunday’s coming.

Saturday I have to work. I have quotas to meet, sales to make, people to see. But Sunday’s coming.

As I lay my head on my pillow Saturday night my last thought will be Sunday’s Coming.  It will be a day to celebrate, to anticipate, and to hold on to hope.

I’ll do my tasks for today on Friday.
I’ll make it through Saturday.

But Sunday? Oh yeah! Sunday’s coming.

I’m anticipating Sunday. I’ll sing a hymn or two, read some Bible passages, pray some prayers, and I’ll celebrate. I’ll think and meditate on love and redemption, grace and forgiveness, the limits of my mortality and the abundance, and majesty of an eternal God.

He had a plan all along. It included you and me, a Redeemer, a cross, a grave and a heavy stone cast aside. His plan is all about Hope. Love. Forgiveness. Redemption. .

Can you see the empty grave?
     Hope cries out.

Can you see through the burial cloth that covered the face of our Redeemer?
     “Look to me” it seems to cry out. “I see you. I want to offer you something that is life changing.”

Can you see the gravestone cast aside?
     It’s an open door to hope, love, forgiveness, redemption. It is ours for the taking.

Will you walk through the door with me?

It’s Friday.
But Sunday’s coming!!!