10.2.15 – Roseburg

This is not my usual Friday post, and it is NOT political.

I was in Roseburg, OR this past Monday, where I had the privilege of working with a talented group of clinicians dedicated to improving the health of our nation’s veterans.  At the VA Health System Roseburg, I spent the day not just working together, but learning a little more about their beautiful, small town.

Having once lived in a small town, tragedies like yesterday touch virtually every one who lives there.  So, whether or not the fine folks I met knew any of those lost or injured, the violence affected them, too.

Take a moment to pray, if you do, or simply think kind thoughts for the people of Roseburg so that the collective good thoughts of all of us will wrap around them like a blanket of comfort.



Service is YOUR Responsibility

092815cLike most road warriors, I have a barful of road stories to tell.  Many of these, though, are great learning opportunities.  Take this one from last week, for example.

I try to keep my hotel points at one of two superchains, so I have status in both their loyalty programs.  I stayed in one of Brand H’s airport properties, where I had a miserable experience from beginning to end. The desk clerk insisted I had no reservation, despite my showing it to them on their phone app.  (Fortunately, there was a room available.)  Rather than find a way, he made me prove I had a reservation before he found a room was available. If I had just shown up for my first stay ever at Brand H and asked for a room, I would have been given one.  My responsibility to prove I had a reservation?

An associate was driving from home and we were to meet around 630 and head out to the North End for dinner. But, both our trips were longer than expected, so we decided to just have some drinks and apps at the hotel bar and crash.  Walking through the restaurant, I noticed the carpet was in serious need of vacuuming and tables were not bussed.  I had a bad feeling about this, but we were too tired to fight. No deuces at the bar, so we went to a hi-top.  The top of the table was sticky, like from spilled drinks not being cleaned up properly.  The second hi-top was somewhat better, though I didn’t eat the tortilla chip I dropped on it.  After a decidedly average snack, we called it a night.

When I returned home, I visited Brand H’s loyalty site and found a form to fill out (Completely Dissatisfied to Completely Satisfied) along with text boxes to tell them why. I took some time to give what I thought was sufficient detail of my experience.

Shortly thereafter, I received 2 or 3 “Sorry about your experience” emails.  Then, I got a second round of emails asking for me to provide more detail about my experience.  They don’t get it. They wanted me to spend more time helping them figure out their problem.

If I had received a phone call, or an email requesting a good time for one, I would have written an entirely different post here.  Brand H, wanted me to spend even more time (with nothing in return) providing additional detail at the cost of my time.  The customer fulfilled their responsibility by reporting poor service.  It is YOUR responsibility to make it right.

Examine your process for handing customer complaints:

  • Do you acknowledge the complaint quickly?
  • Do you accept the responsibility for investigating it?
  • Is your staff empathetic and are they good listeners?
  • Are they empowered to offer a suitable “makegood” on the spot, or do they have to go through layers to make it right?  (Is it easier for them to ask for forgiveness than permission to create a solution?)

Every organization will have customer service issues, so how you handle them when they happen makes the difference between someone leaving you for a competitor, or giving you referral business.  Regardless of the outcome, you’ll learn a lot about your business from the most important point of view – your customer’s.

Friday Faves – 9.25.15

092515Summer’s over, which means your deciders are back to work, back from vacations and ready to buy.  Are you ready to sell?

Were You Productive Today? – This presumes you are planning, which if you are not is a bigger problem.  A good daily “wrap up” assessment.

What Other Metric Counts? – You can incur “analysis paralysis” with too many metrics.  Which ones are most important?  Here is one view.

Getting an Audience to Remember Your Presentation – One of our most important tools, presentations, often gets minimal training.  Here are some good ideas to make your podium time count.

Manage Your Email. Grow Your Sales. – What’s both a key sales tool and a time suck?  Mastering use of email, along with your time, will pay big dividends.

Spare Change – More thought on why change needs to be your reality.


Friday Faves – 9.18.15

091815As the quarter draws to a  close, are you scrambling to find revenue or are you wrapping things up and laying the groundwork for Q4?  Either way, here are some ideas to help you get more wins.

Don’t Send Prospecting Emails Like This One – Are you making the most of one of your primary sales tools?

The Last Secret In Sales! – It used to be s/he who dies with the most toys wins.  Now, it’s s/he who has the most tools and the best skill in using the right one(s) at the right time(s) wins.

The Wrong Time to Discuss Pricing – Some good ideas on a potentially deal-killing conversation.


The Puppy Dog Close – Updated

091215Here’s the newest Buick commercial promoting their 24-hour test drive.  The spot and the vehicle are new, but the closing technique it illustrates is not.  It’s a tried and true technique that’s been around for decades.  And we have a savvy pet shop owner to thank for it (or so the legend goes.)  It’s called the Puppy Dog Close.

According to legend, a mother and child were in a pet shop and the child wanted Mom to buy him a puppy.  Not sure about the cost or commitment, the mother said she’d have to think about it.  In steps the pet shop owner who offers to let them take the puppy home for the weekend to see “if you like each other.”  Well, it takes about an hour to fall in love with a puppy, so the mother returned to the pet shop and paid for the puppy.

Elegant in its simplicity and powerful in its effectiveness, the Puppy Dog close has been used and misused throughout many industries for decades.  It’s part of a larger marketing tactic called sampling.  Costco has elevated this to a freeloader’s buffet lunch, but it remains a highly effective tactic in B2C and B2B instances.  Here are 3 tips to make your B2B sampling more effective.

  1. QUALIFY – Why would you hand out cheese samples to someone who is lactose intolerant, or peanut butter to someone with a nut allergy?  Any prospect to whom you provide a free sample or access to your solution should be thoroughly qualified and you’ve ascertained:
    • NEED – This prospect has a business need your solution can meet.
    • BUDGET – This prospect can afford your solution, or can budget for it in the next cycle.
    • DECIDER – If you are not talking with the decider, you need to make sure the access/sample will be shared with the decider or your contact reports to the decider.
  2. STRUCTURE – Even in Costco, they don’t just hand you a sample of marinated artichokes and ask “Do you like it?” They tell you how you can use it in salads, antipasto, serve with pasta, etc.  Make sure you discuss and follow up in the email the specific business issues the prospect shared with you that your solution can address. You need them to be able to see this for themselves and share it with the decider.
  3. CLOSE – As in ANY next step, you must CLOSE for it and I recommend the 3-legged stool:
    • DELIVERABLE – Preferably mutual (you to the prospect and the prospect to you, so they have some skin in the game), but if you provide the sample/access to the client it will still serve your purpose.
    • NEXT STEP – Agreement on the next step – I will follow up with you for your feedback, I will meet with the committee after you’ve completed your access, etc.  Some TANGIBLE, mutually-agreed upon step which will occur after you provide the sample/access.
    • TIMELINE – What is the deadline for the next step?  Will 2 weeks be enough time for you to evaluate?  I’ll call you in a month.  You just need agreement on how long the prospect will need the sample/access.

Throwing samples/access out without these steps is like when they shoot hotdogs or tshirts out of the gun at a sporting event.  You put a lot of effort into the promotion, but have no idea what results you’ll get.  It’s a total crap shoot.

Selling is not.

CONFESSION:  My wife and I bought a pre-Chrysler FIAT 128 Spyder via the Puppy Dog close. Besides being woefully underpowered, it stalled out whenever you went through a big puddle. All the ignition electronics were on the bottom of the engine and dragged through the water, shorting it out.  But it looked really cool in the driveway.


Friday Faves – 9.11.15

Take a moment today to remember.

Take a moment today to be grateful.

Take a moment today to show kindness.

Take a moment today to show respect.

For others.

For yourself.

For the lost.

Friday Faves – 9.4.15

090415Hope you’ve had a great summer and enjoy your holiday weekend. Then, time to get back in gear as the quarter is almost over.  Here are some good ideas to help you beat goal.

Women in Sales: What’s Standing in Our Way? – Sales should be the ultimate equal opportunity employer.  You are over or under goal.  You’re a closer or you’re not.  Closer is gender-neutral.

“Don’t touch it, you might break it.” – No, touch everything!

CAN YOU PASS THE QUESTION TEST? – Can I?  What if I can’t?  What if I can?  How does that affect my close ratio?

Successful Voice Mails are like Bikinis! – If you can get past the sexism, some interesting addition to the voicemail dialog.

Target Your Ideal Clients, Not All Clients – Focusing your efforts is basic time management.

AN UNEXPECTED TRAIT OF THE TRULY SUCCESSFUL – Disagree!  The best are ALWAYS learning, ALWAYS seeking the advice of others, ALWAYS looking for what’s NEXT.