Ramblings of a Creative Mind

Thoughts on Work and the World from an Executive Mom

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Score 1 for the Other Team

Ever had one of those days?

Ever had one of those days?

So, sometimes no matter how hard you try, you still have one of those days.  Perhaps you lose a teammate – a valuable one. Maybe you lose a sale – one you have been working on for a while. Maybe you lose a client – one that you have moved Heaven and earth to keep happy – to someone offering a lower price, fancy new bells and whistles, the latest whatever it may be.  You rallied the troops around that teammate/sale/client, and you still lost.  How do you react?  Are you angry?  Frustrated?  Off your game?

I would ask two questions in a situation like this.
1.  How strong was your relationship?
2.  How well were you listening?
What do you think about when you think about the important relationships in your life?  Can you picture the laughter, the way that person makes you feel when you are around them, the shared memories?  Those are important parts of a relationship, true.  But how many of those relationships have come and gone? What is different about the ones that have lasted years?  One key difference is probably in the amount of hard work you’ve put into it – the ongoing attention you pay to that special person.  Let’s face it.  Some of the most important, maybe even most transformative, relationships you’ve ever had are long gone. The best friend, the first love.  We’ve all done it.  Perhaps we chalk it up to “outgrowing” it, we “learned what we were supposed to learn” and are better people.  That’s great.  But maybe it wasn’t just a phase.  Maybe we didn’t pay enough attention, took that person for granted, or allowed too many excuses to get in the way of getting outside of our box.  Getting uncomfortable.  Getting vulnerable. Getting real.  Maybe our relationship wasn’t as deep as we really thought it was.  After all, if you really get down to the heart of any relationship and bust your buns to stay there, you can feel if something is drifting out of focus.  You’re working with your head and your heart.
Then, there is the listening part of it.  In any sales environment, we know we should be listening more than we speak. That’s a given.  But what about those later stages of your relationship?  When you’ve worked with a client for a long time, it’s natural that you get to know them.  You care for their welfare and have a personal stake in their success.  And once you have celebrated success, signed the client and developed that personal stake in it, there’s a danger of becoming too familiar… “Knowing” too much.  You assume the next sale. You may talk too much because you are so comfortable, and you forget to listen.  Needs change.  If you are actively listening, always asking questions, keeping that relationship “new”, always working at it, then you’ll hear those cues that perhaps something isn’t quite right.  It’s hard to hear those hints over the sound of your own voice though.  It’s easy when you’re quiet… when you listen.
Even when you do your absolute best, you still will lose one here and there.  But don’t forget to ask yourself if you really were doing your best after all.  And on those days when you do lose one, remember to be grateful for everything in the win column.  Now, make sure they stay there

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Five Steps for Making Every Moment Matter

Bracelets_of_powerSo, I think about relationships and leadership a lot.  After all, any kind of selling – whether you’re selling to businesses or people – is really about building a relationship.  Relationships are founded on milestones: your first date, taking a trip or buying your first car.  Yet, relationships are forged on the moments that come in between.  It’s the small things that you do such as smile a special smile, sharing a joke or opening a door, that speak to who you are and how the person with you feels when they are around you. Now, every business person today has heard from industry “experts” that loyalty is dead.  Gen X and Y folks may have eight or more “banking” relationships.  They don’t care about what make and model of car they drive etc.  According to many, the days of loyalty are fading fast.  Do you buy into that?  I don’t.  Take a look at your favorite sports team.  Take a look at their fan base.  Among that loyal fanbase – the jersey wearing face painted nation – are people of all ages.  Heck, my 5 year old can recite Kobe’s stats and recently schooled me on Metta World Peace.  And my house is part of the Spurs Nation.  What happened there?

So why aren’t more of your current clients, loyal clients?  Are you making every moment matter?

Now, I’m from a small town in South Dakota where you don’t lock your doors, where you know everyone (and their business) and where you go to the same store to purchase whatever you may need every time.  People still wave and say hello when you coast on by.  And if you burn a bridge, you probably just burned that bridge with half of the town as word spreads quickly.  Every moment matters. In today’s hypercompetitive economy, technology keeps people with us all the time – kind of like that same small town.  People you haven’t seen in decades “wave” as you pass by on Facebook, and one bad review or relationship turns into a thousand if not properly tended.  Today, you must always be aware, providing better and faster service to improve loyalty and keep your clients happy.  There are always opportunities to make magic moments each time you work with someone.

Tell Your Story
Every time you speak with someone, reinforce why your service is the best and what sets you apart.  After all, you work where you work because you believe in the greater purpose or mission.  It’s a basic human need to believe in something.  Share proudly why people should believe in you.
Show How Much You Care
Find sincere ways to show your clients how much you value them and how your product or service helps protect and care for them.  Every product is designed to meet some basic need.  What need does your product satisfy?  What problem does is cure?  How important is it to you personally that they are protected?  Make sure they know.
Everyone Walks Away With A Smile The path to happiness is a short one.  It starts with you being happy.  How happy do you feel when you sit down across from someone?  Is anything getting in the way of your good mood?  If so, get rid of it.  Is your desk cluttered?  Perhaps your mind is cluttered.  If you’re in a bad mood in the morning, find a token to remind you to change your frame of mind.  Mine is a set of rubber bracelets I picked up at a conference last year.  I call them my “Bracelets of Power.”  They tell me that “No Negativity is Allowed” and “Success is My Duty.”  I glance down at them, get a reminder, and put a smile on my face.  No matter how long someone has known you, every time they see you again, there is a tiny little adjustment in how they view you – a tiny judgment.  Make sure it’s a good one.  (Thanks to Grant Cardone for the token.)
Meet People Where They Are Most of your younger clients today grew up with both in person and digital relationships.  They’re comfortable in that space, and they expect you to be too.  Why ask them to go out of their comfort zone to meet you?  You’ve just added another hurdle to your success.  Just like the Country Doctor (AKA my Dad) did back in South Dakota, go to your client instead.  Do they want to meet in person?  Great.  E-mail?  Great.  Text message?  I’d bet a lot of people would appreciate it.  That’s what I prefer, and the fastest way to reach me frankly.  Then, great.  Getting outside of your comfort zone and into theirs helps build that elusive loyalty factor.  You’re placing their needs first.
People Remember Mistakes: No matter how good you are, sooner or later, you will let someone down.  Don’t let one bad experience ruin someone’s opinion of you or your Company.  Mistakes usually happen when you are distracted, whether it’s in multitasking and emailing while you are on a call or just a bit of mental drift near the end of a long day.  Remember, every moment matters.  Focus on the here and now when you are with someone.  Everything else can wait.  People have long memories in small towns and online, the world’s biggest small town.  And if you don’t have people that believe in you, you won’t have a business.  When you do make that dreaded mistake, please apologize.  Yes, it’s good manners.  Yes, it should be natural, but often we may get defensive.  Ultimately, that never helps.  A sincere, heartfelt and humble apology will go a long way to rebuilding a damaged relationship and creating a raving fan instead.
Make every moment matter.  It’s hard work, but it’s good work.  And it’s work that pays dividends both professionally and personally.
So how will you make it matter today?


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The Looking Glass

Feelin' groovy

Feelin’ groovy

“Can’t you see?  Life’s easy if you consider things from another point of view?” – DB Boulevard

Have you ever had your aura read?

Up until earlier this week, my answer would have been “no”, but Conventions in the auto industry are anything but conventional.  At one I recently attended, they hosted a lifestyle pavilion where, on your break, you could have your aura read and photographed.  I’m always up for new adventures, so although I was a bit skeptical, I decided to try it.

It was fascinating.  A rainbow of colors swirls around you in a computer “looking glass” and is photographed.  Then a specialist translates what those colors mean: who you are and what you need across various different categories…. heart, communication, thought processes and more.

Now, I’m not sure if I believe or not in the aura and the reading itself, but what I DO know, is that I opened my mind to not only what I may be projecting, but also to another point of view.  It helped me view the world from a different perspective.

We all have lives outside of the office.  Traffic may be bad on the way in.  Sales can be tough.  You may be overwhelmed because it feels like you have too many people to call back, too many “looky-loos”, too many meetings, accounts to market to or emails to respond to.  So you may try to weed out the ones who are only shopping you and focus on those members or accounts that you know will buy.  You may pay more attention to people or clients that have sent referrals, but you don’t market your other accounts as regularly.  You may delete e-mails without reading them, or maybe pay less attention to something as you feel it doesn’t apply to you or maybe has no effect for you and your life.

 But have you put yourself in the other person’s shoes?

So, you’re stressed out on the way in, and someone sits down at your desk.  Do they know you are stressed out?  They shouldn’t.  Do you stand up, walk around your desk, shake their hand and pull out the chair for them?  You should.  People pick up on positive energy (and negative too).  Every person you work with – regardless of what industry you are in – should walk away from your desk feeling as if they are the most important person in the world to you.  After all, by the time they actually do come in for an appointment or call you, they want to buy from you.  Whether they’re someone who needs the car (or whatever widget or service you offer) tomorrow, or maybe something tough like a $10,000 Camry – the member wants your service.  How are you responding?  How quickly do you follow up?  Even that $10,000 Camry is a major purchase for most people.  If you were on the edge of your seat, excited about your next car and someone did not call you back for a few days even just to check in, would you still feel important?

That referral opportunity for you is expensive, both financially and from a time perspective.  It’s also expensive when you think about your reputation.  The member who buys from you and believes in you helps generate interest income for you, your company and your partners.  It helps keep companies open, people employed, amazing products and services offered to other consumers and more.  That referral means not only potential for you and your family, but for every employee at your Company and their families.  Are you treating each referral with the importance that it deserves?  Are you visiting your clients on the B2B side?  You mean business for them.  You can help them.  If you don’t follow up with them to thank them for their referral, they sit out there wondering – and trust diminishes.  If you skip marketing for a week, it diminishes their relationship with you… and ultimately their referrals.

The most successful service and sales people know this intuitively.  They follow up consistently and with a process.  They do not skip marketing visits or networking opportunities, and they respond quickly and graciously to every referral because they know that referral is a critical piece of a much larger picture.  Every referral and success leads to better profitability, a better reputation and a new opportunity, driving more referrals back to YOU.  And that beautiful cycle keeps on going.

You have a bright future if we all remember we’re connected, and our actions and attitude have a meaningful impact on everyone else.  We may not always see it, but it’s always there.

Aristotle said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

I believe it.  Together, we can make it true.

For more fun DB Boulevard music, check them and that tune out at: http://www.dbboulevard.it/.  Jam on!