Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
I spent last week at my favorite resort, Rancho La Puerta, and was inspired to write this newsletter, “Show Me You Know Me.” If you’ve ever been to “the Ranch,” you’ll have felt the deep level of personalized service. And your customers want the same experience! Read the newsletter for my thoughts on today’s key competitive advantage: differentiating your customers.
Read the newsletter: Show Me You Know Me
Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
What’s my answer when somebody asks me for 3 Tips for Better Customer Conversations?
- Don’t talk about yourself.
- Leave things in your pocket.
- Use callbacks.
You don’t want to miss these tips… they can help you improve your conversations today.
Read the newsletter: “3 Tips for Better Customer Conversations“
Monday, May 2nd, 2011
Which organization is likely to go out of its way for customers, a for-profit business in a very competitive marketplace, or a government bureaucracy charged with catching bad guys?
It depends on the individual employees who are interacting with customers. It’s about the people, not the institution.
Read a story in today’s newsletter that shows how close enough for government work can sometimes be closer than you might think … as long as an individual person takes the initiative to look out for the customer.
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Steve writes in today’s newsletter, Sales Conversations: Earning the right to be heard, “The first thing we need to do, if we want customers to listen to us, is to earn the right to be heard.”
This solution is part empathy and part smart selling – if we want our customers to listen to us, we must first listen to them and learn what they care about. We know this as a general rule, but how many of us earn the right to be heard each and every time we talk with a customer or prospect?
Get some sales inspiration. Read today’s newsletter, Sales Conversations: Earning the right to be heard.
Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
I recently ran a sales workshop for lawyers from a successful Chicago firm. One of the attorneys said, “I have a hard time explaining what I do. It’s pretty technical, and by the time I finish describing it I’ve usually confused the person.”
In response, a more senior lawyer, who also happens to be one of the biggest ‘rainmakers’ at the firm, said, “If someone asks me what I do, I just say that I’m a lawyer. I don’t offer any details. Then, they usually ask me to tell them more. At that point, they’re interested, so I can give them some more information.”
The Second City Almanac of Improvisation says “the more you tell the audience, the less they can imagine.” (page 160) This is a wonderful maxim for sales and marketing. Brochures stuffed with copy, hour-long fact-filled presentations, massive PowerPoint decks … they’re all based on the idea that the job of sales and marketing is to explain a story to customers.
But explaining a story is usually not best the best way to communicate that story. In order to communicate successfully, it is important for the customer to become engaged in the story, and a monologue won’t engage her. A dialogue in which she participates has a much better chance of engaging her and creating successful communication.
Resist the temptation to explain. Remember that your customer isn’t all that interested in your story, and so a detailed explanation is likely to lose her attention. Make it easy for her to participate in the conversation.
View your sales and marketing interactions not as opportunities to explain your story but as opportunities to engage your customers deeper. Don’t over explain … and give your customers a chance to imagine.
Friday, July 9th, 2010
Yoga practice is filled with balance poses. As you first learn these poses your concentration is focused 100% on the physical requirements of balancing. You find yourself moving your arms around and tensing your muscles, trying to keep only 50% of your weight on each side of the mid-line.
Then, you eventually learn to see balance in a new way. The physical requirements of balancing never go away, but you begin to see that mindfulness is the most important, overriding key to your balance. You begin to notice that you wobble and fall not because your leg lost its strength, but because your mind did. Your balance feels different every time you practice – some days you’re not very “balancy,” to quote one of my teachers – but you begin to realize that your readiness to be focused and present on a given day are what most influence your balance.
Tree pose (know as “vrksasana” in Sanskrit) is one of the most common balancing poses in yoga. You stand on one leg, driving it down to the ground while your head reaches to the sky. The heel of your raised leg pushes into your standing thigh which, in turn, pushes back on your heel. Your eyes focus on one point in front of you. You breathe. And your ability to hold this pose with grace and calm depends on how well you stay present in all of this. Almost every time I start to fall out of a simple balancing posture like tree pose, I realize that my mind has wandered. But I have also learned that I can usually regain my balance once if I am able to regain my mindfulness.
A sales conversation is like tree pose. There are many ways you can fall, and you are often challenged to stay in balance. You are constantly alert to new information from your customer and the environment around you, requiring constant micro-adjustments. Distractions can enter your mind, at any time and from any place, challenging your focus. But at any point in a sales conversation, no matter what happens, you can always improve your balance with mindfulness. The best way to hold your balance a sales conversation successfully is stay focused and present, aware of everything, not distracted by anything.
So, in your next sales conversation, be in tree pose. Stay present, and you will not only keep your conversational balance, you will have a more productive relationship-building encounter with your customer.
Friday, July 2nd, 2010
I don’t like the concept of the elevator pitch, that 30-second monologue that is designed to summarize your story, but will have the actual effect of obscuring your story. (See this post, Tear Up Your Elevator Pitch and/or page 77 in my book We)
I’ve had people in television production and venture capital say this to me: “But sometimes I need an elevator pitch. The (television network/investor) doesn’t want to give us much time, so they require that we give them a 30-second pitch.”
That’s true. It’s too bad, but it’s true. So let’s explore how to deal with the mandated pitch.
Realize that the goal of the mandated 30-second pitch is not to sell your television programing idea or raise $25 million in investment capital. Yes, it would be wonderful if you achieved that outcome, but it is very unlikely. The only goal of the mandated 30 second pitch is to interest your customer in having a deep, relationship-building conversation with you.
Look at the mandated 30-second pitch as an aperitif. An aperitif is an alcoholic drink that is served before a meal to stimulate appetite. (Digestifs, in contrast, are served after meals to aid digestion.) The only thing you want from the mandated 30-second pitch is to whet the appetite of the person you are trying to sell. The aperitif doesn’t make the meal, but it makes a great meal possible.
So, like a skilled dinner host, recognize the limitations of the aperitif you serve. See it for what it is: a gateway to something much more memorable. Don’t depend on a mandated elevator pitch to make your sale.
Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
What do you do if a customer meeting doesn’t go as planned? Resist? Deny the situation? Stick to you original plan, no matter what happens?
Or, should you Ditch the Pitch and make the most of the new situation?
Today’s newsletter, Work with what you are given, takes a lesson from stage improvisation and helps us learn how to “go with the flow” and improvise a powerful customer encounter, even if the encounter isn’t what you thought it would be.
Do you have any examples of “war stories” of customer meetings that didn’t go the way you expected them to go?
Thursday, April 15th, 2010
Who does your customer care more about, you or herself?
Don’t ever forget this, for a minute. Your customer doesn’t really care about you. Your customer cares about herself. If you want her to be interested in you, you MUST ensure that the conversation is about her, not about you.
Ditch the pitch. Don’t talk about yourself. (Unless you want your customer’s mind to wander.)
Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
Today’s newsletter, Don’t be a “vendor,” focuses on what it takes to be considered a “partner” by your customers, instead of being kept down in the lowly realm of vendor status.
I’ve heard 727,435 senior executives bemoan the vendor/partner challenge in the years I’ve been teaching people about “We” relationships, so I thought this would be a worthwhile topic for us to focus on. My theme: If you don’t want to be considered a vendor, be sure you’re not acting like a vending machine.