I once had an epiphany, a moment after which I was never to be the same again, when George Adair, of Phoenix, Arizona and founder and leader of the Omega Training program looked at me and said: “…to the extent that you trust others is the extent to which you are trustworthy.” This statement held two meanings for me.
First, from that moment on, I saw myself as ultimately responsible for me. I stopped blaming others for any aspect of my life. I understood its meaning: I can lead my life according to my ideals and make decisions because I can trust myself to deal with the consequences, to deal with life on life’s terms. If something great occurs, I will embrace it. If something disastrous occurs, I will walk through this also. I do not complain or whine, nor do I make others responsible for my emotional well-being. I simply do what I do best – learn form the process and see to it that, as a result of that experience, I am improved in some way.
Because I make every experience an eventual win, I am unafraid of making mistakes. I trust myself just as much if a decision I make has negative consequences as I do if it has positive consequences. I am trustworthy – with me! This resilience means I do not organize my life to stay safe or hear people exchange pleasantries. Not that there is anything wrong with pleasantries; it’s just that I do not want a steady diet of them!
The second effect of George’s statement was that I became less wary of people in general. Since I held myself to be trustworthy, I now began to presume that all others with whom I come into contact were also trustworthy. This did not mean I became a pushover. It just meant my heart was more open to others’ opinions, even if they were diametrically opposed to mine. I still had my boundaries and maintained my skill of discernment. This new attitude, presuming others to be trustworthy, made me more open and approachable. Paradoxically, it also increased my ability to be discerning and decide much quicker if our mutual agendas were a match. I no longer labeled someone as trustworthy or not. I simply noticed similar or dissimilar agendas!
If you notice a tendency to avoid confrontation, then you must also notice that what you seek to avoid is exactly what you are drawn to. This is a law of nature; nature always seeks balance. The balance here would be to neither seek nor avoid confrontation.
Salespeople cannot meet past clients face-to-face as often as they would like, for the purpose of fostering and maintaining business relationships. Great salespeople are strategic enough to see to it that even if they are absent for weeks, or even months, at a time – their presence is well felt.
To do this, the strategic salesperson will use the personal client contact that they do have to gather all types of personal, professional, and ‘other’ information. By other, I mean coming to understand and know their clients’ attitudes, values, and beliefs. The information is then deliberately “stockpiled” and the salesperson acts on it from time to time. Using these steps below provides opportunities for further contact, and builds client loyalty, and goodwill.
- Show an Attitude of Gratitude – The first way to show gratitude is simply to send a letter saying so! Whenever I get a thank you letter, note, or email, I feel a warm fuzzy feeling. What a pleasant response to have your clients “anchor” to you.
- Send a Gift – Up the ante and send a “Thank You” note PLUS a gift. A gift doesn’t have to be expensive – just thoughtful. A copied article or a magazine will do. This way, you not only express gratitude with your words you support it with action.
- Do not waste your clients time – Push too hard or don’t push at all – a client recently told me that most salespeople fall into one or the other of these categories. And the category she dislikes the most is the latter – where she has a soft salesperson who doesn’t ask for the order. The client must then do the work of asking the sales rep to supply the product or service. This not only creates apprehension about the salesperson’s ability to perform other aspects of the job, but if you beat around the bush and don’t get around to closing you are probably wasting your clients time.
- Loyalty Moments – These are the spontaneous occasions in the moment when you stop what you are doing and look a customer in the eye and say, “Good idea. I never saw it that way” or “I’d like to take a moment to let you know I appreciate your trust in me.”
- Give Them Leads – As you go through your day, there might be an opportunity to notice how one client could use another client’s product or service.
You have probably heard, “A client won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” By using these five steps your clients will be clear on how you care about them, which is invaluable in maintaining a business relationship to drive future sales.
The Six D’s of Success
Those who produce what they want in their life want what they want with desperation; they feel this need to their core. They also have the ability to detach in a way that allows them to remain focused regardless of the outcome.
When successful salespeople fail to have a profitable month, they are quick to perform a self-assessment. They run through an inventory of personal skills and attitudes to see if they lack any of the Six D’s of Success—The Motivational Factor:
1. Detachment: Pursue your dreams with all your heart, but be prepared to detach from the inevitable setbacks.
2.Discipline: Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s easy or fun.
3. Desperation: Desperation is the unstoppable combination of fear and motivation. Desperation can make one truly willing to do whatever is necessary.
4. Direction: Study others and learn from everyone. At the very least, you will learn how not to do something.
5. Desire: Accept that you are a work in progress, and have an honest craving to know, be, and achieve more.
6. Determination: Determination is an unwavering focus on your vision. Understand that you have the right to achieve your dreams. If something has never been done, it simply means you are the one to do it now.
Motivation is Highly Personal
Your motivation is highly unique and personal: no one but you can motivate you…it must come from within. The most you can expect from others is to gain inspiration and direction. When you interpret these truths in terms of your own personality, you can increase your desire, determination, desperation, discipline, and detachment so that you can achieve more.
There are always the salespeople out there who seem to make the sales process easy. Experience, personality and product knowledge may account for some of their success but the majority of their success can be attributed to the seven aspects of personality listed below.
Creativity: the ability to think of more than one solution.
Stress tolerance: the ability to manage perceptions of the situation.
Personal insight: the ability to perceive both strengths and weaknesses.
Communication skills: the ability to ask questions, listens, and provides feedback.
Self-direction: the ability to perceive one’s self-worth independently of the views of other people yet is receptive to suggestions for improvement and critical feedback.
Self-motivation: the ability to look within for energy and initiative, and to be inspired by one’s own personal goals and thoughts.
Independence: the ability to work alone, yet understand the benefit of learning from co-workers; being willing to seek advice knowing that no one has all the answers.
The biggest objections salespeople will ever have to overcome are within themselves and their attitudes. Unless these internal objections are mastered, they will be their own worst competitor.
Faulty Assumptions – Every success or failure is based on our assumptions. If our assumptions are positive, our actions will be positive, thereby making the results positive.
Unrealistic Expectations of Others – Are you expecting your internal contact and influencer to carry your message to the decision-maker as well as you?
Poor Appearance – A shine on your shoes is a smile on your feet. Looking disheveled will not create trust. It is possible to change a negative first opinion, but why go through the effort?
Language – Imagine how disgruntled clients would feel if after they expressed a concern the sales rep said, “No, you just don’t understand.” Instead, the sales rep could have said, “Perhaps I am not being very clear.”
Body Language – It’s not just the words we say, or how we say them, our body language also makes a difference. A general rule of thumb is that arms folded over the chest area connote closed body language – nothing in and nothing out. If you’re in favor of copying clients’ body language, with this one do so in a loose manner with arms crossed at lap area versus chest area.
Severe Shyness – Shy people tend to be self-conscious, worrying about the impression they are making. For these people it is empowering to stop worrying about them and focus on the customers by asking questions. I know this is easier said than done, but asking questions is the answer to shyness. It makes you seem interesting, caring, and outgoing. This coping skill will become a natural part of you if practiced daily – and think of the success it will attract.
Lack of Enthusiasm – People don’t fail because of what they don’t know. They fail because they’re not enthusiastic about what they do know.
Hanging On To A Dead Prospect – let them go to the competition.
Talking and Telling Too Much – The 80/20 rule rules. Your customer talks 80% of the time and you talk 20% of the time. Speak only when you ask questions or comment on what the client just said.
Criticizing the Competition – If you mention a competitor by name, then you are advertising for them. If you try to look big by making others look small, you will lose. Your mother said it best: “If you have nothing good to say, then don’t say anything at all.”
Unable to Manage the Sales Call Process – Pushing the client to get an answer, any answer, rather than understand the client’s due diligence process. I have seen sales reps push with a hard close and been happier with a no, rather than proceed ahead slowly and live with not knowing.
Afraid to ask for the order. So many salespeople are intent on building the relationship and being sensitive to the customer’s needs that they forgot to ask for the order. Ask early and ask often – in between, you can nurture the relationship.
Any successful business conducts an inventory to decide which items are valuable and which must go. Salespeople also need to perform their own version of an internal audit and uncover personal obstacles between them and success. If not now, when?
*Alice Wheaton is an author, consultant, and professional speaker. She works with organizations to help them strengthen their top line by creating new opportunities and closing more sales. For more information on Alice’s products and services, visit www.alicewheraton.com*
Customers have five requirements when they shop at our place of business and there are too many other competitors who are doing a good job not to fulfill these requirements. These fateful five are: great quality, varied selection, excellent service, a good price and an awesome experience. They want it all and the process of providing it all and creating Loyality Moments can be very stressful. The following are some ideas for decreasing or dealing with stress, developing great relationships with peers and clients, and for ensuring you have a great chance at the next promotion.
6. Detach In the Moment: When customers are nasty (as probably about only 5% are) mentally create a shield around yourself. Many social scientists believe we psychologically have a shield that extends out from us by about 18 inches; that this is considered our “personal social space”. Notice that most people, even friends, stop their approach at about this range. So mentally visualize a barrier at this distance where a customer’s negativity does not infringe on your personal space. You will still be able to provide good customer service.
3. Be on time: Actually one boss used to tell me to have the attitude that “on time is five minutes too late.” These five minutes will give you a chance to become climatized to your new surroundings; give your senses a chance to adjust and mentally strengthen yourself for the shift before you.
4. Become the “boss of yourself”: Lead and inspire you. Don’t wait for your boss to make you feel good about a job well done. Deliberately look for a “higher story” to tell yourself during each break about the hours before you worked the break. Be determined to learn one lesson a day.
5. Practice the power of leverage: Successful people learn early the “power of leverage.” Leverage is taking the experience of one situation, whether it is positive or negative, using that lesson in other situations to be smarter, better, more effective. So when something “bad” occurs find a higher story for the event. One lesson might be to learn how not to behave, react, perform, etc. If you deliberate long enough you will find some benefit or at least some humour in the situation and put that to use so as to take care of yourself while taking care of others.
6. Learn from Others: Only the arrogant are closed to the experience and ideas of others, as if learning from someone else will make them appear smaller. The opposite is true – bring an open mind to learning from others’ failures and successes. This will help pave the way for getting whatever you want in life. Ben Franklin, one of the world’s most prolific inventors and philosophers was fond of saying, “The wise learn from their own experiences but the truly intelligent will learn from someone else’s!”
7. Value Feedback: There are times in everyone’s life when the feedback we get is so “off the wall” and one would meet with certain disaster if followed. Nevertheless it is vital to consider the feedback, and then dismiss it if there is not a fit – yet. The process of being open will bring you both good advice and bad advice and as well you learn that good useful feedback isn’t always just what you want to hear. Those who are humble are teachable; those who are arrogant are unteachable. The pity is that arrogant people often confuse this state with being confident when nothing could be farther from the truth!
Dealing with others, whether they are our supervisors, peers or customers can place us in discomfort and challenging situations. How we deal with this will improve not just our mental health but our physical health as well. The total amount of stress felt depends on our perception to the situation we’re facing. Being able to step back, create a personal shield and reframe your negative perception with a “higher story” of the event will promote happier days at work. The results will show. It’s your life! Do what you can when you can to take care of yourself by taking care of others!
Today we are departing from the usual sales, prospecting, cold calling and business related material. The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Imperfect Forgiveness: Releasing Hurt Bit-By-Bit. Please enjoy, and remember to comment, follow, and share.
The Implications of a Courteous Heart
It is vital to go through life with a forgiving attitude, forgiving the big things and the small. Forgiving people, places, and circumstances is the best technique to adopt, and best spiritual attitude to hold, in order to live in the moment, and stay in the now. When we obsess about the past or worry about the future, our vital energy is depleted.
When you go through life with a forgiving attitude, you develop a courteous heart. Because a courteous heart does not interfere with another’s character, it may appear detached. This is not so. A courteous heart feels no need to criticize, regulate, or improve another. It does not search for a reason to make others feel guilty. It does not say: “Why didn’t you do that?” or “You made me feel bad.” A courteous heart simply looks at a person or situation with something very special: discernment versus judgment.
Judgment means to observe a person doing or saying something, and declare the person as wrong, mean, unpleasant, evil, etc. Discernment, on the other hand, means simply to observe the behavior with an open mind. You would simply say: “This is what I see, hear, and feel.” Conversely, a judgment is expressed by saying: “I see a person doing or saying something which I believe to be wrong, and because of that behavior, he / she is mean, evil, untrustworthy or wrong.”
A courteous heart knows that to judge is to limit its ability to learn. More than anything, the courteous heart wants to be open to the experiences and gifts of others. A courteous heart knows that it cannot learn from someone it judges to be less than itself.
This does not mean that in embracing the courteous heart you will tolerate the intolerable or accept the unacceptable. It means you will change what you can and let go of, and forgive, the rest. If someone is in your face, and you feel uncomfortable and want to retaliate, contain your emotions with this mantra: “Bless them and improve me.” This releases that person to a power greater than you, and frees you from the limitations that accompany judgment. It also causes you to admit to yourself that you, too, are imperfect, in need of help and blessings.
Adapting a forgiving attitude frees you and gives you more focus and energy to get off their case and get on with your life. It frees them from the unhealthy obligation of feeling accountable to you. It allows, or you give permission, for people to present themselves to you just as they are – works in progress, for this moment.
Adopting a completely forgiving attitude does not mean you do not have boundaries – quite the reverse is true! However, when you do create the boundary, it is elegant instead of defensive. The boundary you create is about the person’s behavior, not an attack on the person. When you attack without separating the person from the behavior, you lose your power.
If you do not let others know your boundaries, they may offend you by what they say or do. However, they are not responsible if you have not taken the time to consistently identify or clarify your boundaries. When you have educated them and their offensive behavior continues, you will have to make a decision about whether or not to remain in contact.
Boundaries usually need to be emphasized a number of times because if we were in a relationship with someone over an extended period without healthy boundaries, we essentially have taught them how to treat us and allowed them to do so. Such a pattern will not be abandoned without resistance on their part. Your persistence in creating elegant boundaries will reduce their resistance to recognizing and respecting those boundaries.
When you become angry while maintaining a boundary, you are effectively moving from a boundary to a defense. Typically, a defensive posture only stimulates more defenses, or attack is met with attack. Notice how our world powers are skilled at attacking each other.
The gift you give yourself by going through life with a forgiving attitude is that you develop a courteous heart, and in so doing, you become spiritually elegant. One who is spiritually elegant does not feel snobbish or superior and is able to learn from everyone else. The divine spirit of the universe works through people, all kinds of people, from all walks of life. A courteous heart embraces everyone, and therefore experiences the divine in all, including the divine in oneself. The positive results will show.
Either our customers are drawn towards us by excellent products and service solutions or they are being pushed away because of poor service and inappropriate solutions. At the point of being pushed away, a door of opportunity opens for our competition.
If the competition is doing their job, our place is filled without us being any the wiser. We only become aware of the problem when sales that we took for granted do not materialize and more often or not, we take a number two, or even further down the line, position. Our only hope is to wait for the competition to fail as we did previously, and that door of opportunity is opened once again.
In most cases, clients do not pick up the phone and call you to say, Hello. I just thought I would let you know that you are not doing a good job and unless the situation improves, I will have to look for another supplier. Instead, they slowly slip away and you only discover that you are losing their business after the fact. Even thought there can a strong relationship between the buyer and you, this relationship cannot be counted upon to withstand repeated service infractions.
Sadly, many sales reps count on the relationship to carry them through. In the meantime, our competitor is very grateful for the opportunity, which we created, and is going out of their way to provide a level of service that our client originally received from us but have not received for a very long time. If our client finds our competitor’s level of service to be professional and excellent, they will naturally be reluctant to let go of it. We will have to regain their trust which will require much more than patience, and saying, We are sorry this happened. Things have changed so let’s just go back to normal!
If we have any chance of winning back the client’s trust, we will have to meet with the client and face the issues head on; no more taking the client for granted and hoping that the passage of time will make the troubles disappear.After any infraction occurs , trust is restored slowly, if at all. The Commitments to Service Standards below will be just one of the concrete strategies to will help you fast-forward this rebuilding process.
Rationale for the Call Objective
Every meeting with a client should begin with the salesperson stating his or her reason for taking the client’s time. In sales talk, this process is referred to as a Call Objective. When you let your client know your call objective, you demonstrate your leadership and your client relaxes, knowing the purpose for investing this hour or so of his or her time.
Call Objective for the meeting
- Review how it was
- Take responsibility for situation as it exists today
- Ask how you can make amends for today’s issues and situation
- Agree on standards that will help rebuild trust between you and your client
- Establish a go forward plan
Commitment to Service Standards: The more explicitly accountable you are willing to be, the faster trust will be rebuilt.
- Daily reports from you to them
- Accurate, on time production work
- Invoicing to be accurate and on time
- Respond to voice mail within two hours, with and status report (not necessarily the solution)
- Respond to email within two hours with update ( not necessarily solution)
- Full service and access via lab for troubleshooting and research
- Attend weekly, or daily, operations meetings as needed
- Provide in-house technical support
- Call General Manager anytime of day or night if unable to get an answer through established communication channels
- We will meet your requirement for inventory and field staff. When we promise your product and staff that will happen.
- To ensure our company is keeping committees and standards agreed upon, the General Manager will touch base with you weekly to ensure that no service infractions, no matter how big or small, go unnoticed or untreated.
When a client can measure our behavior with explicit standards of service, they know that they can count us to efficiently manage any infractions; we can rest assured that the competition does not have a chance of penetrating them. Because we have systems and processes in place, we can expect to be successful by design instead of by default. Our competition will shake their heads and wonder why our customers are well fortified against the competition.
Customers want it all! With many competitors in the marketplace offering the same value, you cannot afford to NOT deliver exactly what they want!
What, exactly, do customers want? They consistently expect you to deliver five components to their buying process – quality, selection, service, a good price, and a positive shopping experience. They want to leave your place of business thinking, believing, and telling others about the positive experience, they had. In truth, that is what you should also want for them because every time a customer speaks or thinks of you positively, it reinforces their decision to shop with you again. If their experience is consistently strong, they will even become immune to your competitors’ advertisements that boast lower prices.
How can service providers ensure a great shopping experience, where all five conditions are met? This is a tall order, especially when we consider that, at least in retail, our contact with the customer can be as short as one minute. The answer: we must create a great experience by ensuring what I call loyalty moments. A loyalty moment is the result of taking a potentially negative or benign encounter and transforming it into a strong, positive, and lasting impression that will guarantee your customer will return to your place of business to buy from you again and again.
Following are six ways to create “loyalty moments:”
1. A customer approaches while you are busy with another customer.
Loyalty moment: You must, must, must acknowledge that you see the approaching customer. Just nod, focus for a second and smile, or say: “I’ll be happy to help you in a moment.” Breaking the focus from one customer to acknowledge the new customer – even for a second – creates a welcome helpful feeling and it does not compromise the quality of service you deliver to your first customer.
2.A customer complains and is nasty.
Loyalty moment: let the customer vent; think of a two-year-old having a tantrum. There is no point in interrupting the tantrum, or attempting a logical exchange. However, when the customer finishes venting, state with sincerity: “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or “I’m sorry you had that experience.” You could then follow up with: “Is there anything else that you’d care to discuss?”
For your own protection, don’t take the customer’s nastiness personally. Make sure you tell yourself: “This is not about me; this is a person who has no better way of coping with stressful moments than to vent and rage.” Then, turn the stressful moment into a loyalty moment by not defending, justifying, or getting emotionally ‘hooked’ yourself. Turn the full force of your charm and helpful attitude onto the next customer who is sure to appreciate you! Every encounter, no matter how negative, can be a learning experience, and always contains a higher story where even the most difficult of situations contains a valuable lesson.
3. Show interest. Be curious.
Loyalty moment: Customers are happy to have you be curious about their interests. I was shopping at a garden supply center recently, and an especially bright teenage employee was helping me to take my purchases to my car. On the way to the parking lot, he created significant loyalty moments by asking simple questions, such as: “Is gardening one of your summer hobbies? Do you find planting and gardening relaxing? What vegetables do you like to grow? What are your favorite flowers? Have you been gardening long?”
This young man acted as if he were already a Vice-President of Customer Service for a Fortune 500 company, and I was charmed and impressed with his style. I’m a firm believer that “How we do one thing is how we do everything.” Because of the way he treated me, I feel certain that this young man is headed for the top. And, when he gets there, it will not be by accident, but by design.
4. Increase communication skills.
Loyalty moment: After you have helped a customer, they usually say: “Thank you.” The service person usually responds with: “You’re welcome.” You can take the opportunity to transform that expression of thanks into a loyalty moment. Instead of the simple reply: You’re welcome say with enthusiasm and energy, “It was a pleasure to help you, and I hope I have the opportunity to help you again.” This communication process work especially well in a call center when you add, “…and when you call back, I hope I’m the one to take your call.” The person will hang up feeling special, even though they may have waited a few minutes in the queue before talking with you.
5. Turn a simple request into a memory of being seen.
Loyalty moment: A customer asks for directions and with enthusiasm, you direct them to the area in question. A few minutes later you see the same customer. Approach the customer and ask: “Did you find what you needed – and, can I help you with something else?” This is a great example of being proactive by offering help before a client asks.
6. De-stressing yourself enhances clients’ shopping experience.
Loyalty moment: Consistently creating loyalty moments creates job security and builds your reputation. You create a wonderfully positive work atmosphere when you help contribute to create happy customers, and when you become a positive person with which to work.
Employees are categorized as either a ‘top ten per-center,’ or the opposite – someone who needs a lot of attention and supervision to get the job done. Your customers and supervisors will certainly relate their positive experiences with you to upper management, and this earns you a great reputation where you are seen as a top ten per-center. Management knows which employee goes the extra mile just as well as those who get by doing the bare minimum.
Being good enough or just getting by is not good enough in today’s marketplace. Be the best you can be, and then go a little further with every customer you meet and the results will show. Remember: “How you do one thing is how you do everything.”