When your market is changing and possibly even decreasing in volume or sales value it is time to take stock of how you change your communication style when speaking to customers.
They will know if you are exaggerating or trying to gold plate or overstate the situation. Not only will your words seem to contradict what they know but your body language may betray you. The old saying that honesty is the best policy stands true in the changing market.
Firstly make sure that your research and information is up-to-date. Understand what various industry commentators foresee in the next six to12 months. Then figure out how you can rephrase this and include examples in your marketplace to support or contradict it. Provide extra information to add credibility when speaking to customers. Specificity creates credibility. So have specific examples on hand that are relevant to assure your customer that you are knowledgeable and credible.
Respond to questions with a point of view and a reason, summarising the point at the conclusion of the answer. This more thorough and thoughtful answering of simple questions will further enhance your credibility. You may even have to be ready to review the past present and future market outlook. Having these prepared is a simple solution to being caught out and unable to answer the question.
People will see through bravado and exaggerated positivity. But if you speak knowledgeably about long and short term market trends your customers trust will increase.
My 2-year-old son has crazy amounts of energy. We recently spent time together at a local indoor play centre. No matter how hard I tried to watch him, he became invisible among the other children. Wanting him to stand out from all the other kids playing became a frustration for me. The enjoyment of watching him play was lost in the frustration of not seeing him stand out.
Do you feel the same frustration when your business gets lost among the noise and blur of everything around it? If you do, let me share my experience and understanding of design, business and community. In under sixty minutes, I can start you on your journey towards an original, authentic and engaging personal brand.
Every day we meet and work with new, existing and past clients working our way through a transaction that leaves our customer with an impression or experience. This experience is now becoming the buzz word and critical focus for many major corporates and multi-nationals alike. The reason for this is the customer experience will often determine whether the customer becomes loyal and engaged with your brand. If your client is not loyal and engaged, this will reduce business enterprise value.
Recently working with a particular client, we have been analyising their customer experience and analyising it to determine its effectiveness. One of the best ways of creating support information was actually interviewing clients that had transacted with the company to get an understanding of the experience the customer received and how they felt about it. This research showed what the business thought was of value, the client didn’t actually recognize and the items the customer needed were often overlooked.
Concept for this month
The first step of this process is to define your current customer experience and determine what are the steps that you need to create an ‘above expectation’ outcome. A good example of this is to send a gift (box of chocolates) to the customer. After your first enquiry or fact find appointment saying “thank you for your enquiry” or “new order”. Once you have done this, I recommend talking to past clients using an independent person to collect some customer experience feedback. This will enable you to ensure your service value proposition is meeting and ultimately exceeding your customer’s expectations.
Analyze your customer experience and develop a strategy to exceed your client’s real expectations.
True or false - it takes 21 days to form a habit? Sorry, but it’s just not true. The 21-day myth started when the work of a 1960’s plastic surgeon (Dr. Maxwell Maltz) was misquoted, and so it stuck. The reality is it takes much longer, and there are three phases – the honeymoon, the fight through, and finally second nature. In developing negotiation as a habit, we can expect the same phases of getting excited about the benefits, being frustrated when the other side is difficult, and finally where its just the way you do things.
Negotiation normally brings to mind major transactions with customers and suppliers, selling an asset, negotiating a mortgage, or discussing your salary. The reality is that we all negotiate everyday, from what we will have for dinner, to bedtime for children. So if we develop negotiation as a habit in our daily life, its a safe bet to expect that it starts to become the way we approach major home or work negotiations.
Put simply, negotiation is reaching agreement through conversation. While it gets considerably more complicated given the human dimension, the process of negotiation can be summarised as looking at interests rather than positions, separating the person from the problem, considering alternatives (BATNA), taking a problem solving approach, and then trading away what is less important in return for what is important. So next time you are tempted to reach straight for power or authority, take a second to think whether there is a better way to reach agreement by checking your assumptions. Like the 21-day myth, we sometimes get it wrong.
One thing I’ve noticed in my travels around New Zealand talking to business owners and their teams is that few have a clear personal financial plan. I known Lisa Dudson for over 15 years and have worked with her in the last 6 months. She is a leader in her field and has over two decades of experience in working with people to improve their financial position. I would like to offer our clients to work personally with her.
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Annual Financial Coaching Programme with Lisa Dudson
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Not everyone needs to be an English professor but one sure way to diminish your professionalism in the eyes of your staff, customers or prospects reading what you’ve written is poor business-writing basics. Communication is the single most critical element in engaging people. In an age of text-speak and consulting jargon, one sure way to stand out positively from the crowd and noise is clear, simple, and persuasive written communication skills.
I’ve had several books published, as well as being a regular columnist in industry media. I watch with amazement at professional proofers doing their job. Neither you nor I need to have that level of skill and precision, but we can all improve our results and lessen our regrets by following a few simple principles. I’m not calling them ‘rules’. The thing with English is that every time you have a rule, you soon find many exceptions. I before E anyone?
I met one trainee who ran a clothing boutique. They’d sent out a mailbox drop in their neighbourhood promoting their latest fashion arrivals. Their intention was to communicate that many of the shoes matched up nicely with many of the trousers on offer. They referred to this matching as, “These shoes are complimentary with these pants”. Unfortunately, what they meant was, “These shoes are complementary with these pants”. You see, one of those words means ‘matching’ but the other one means ‘free’.
Write from the reader’s point of view
Are you including information useful and relevant to the reader or just brain dumping to get it out of your head or make you look like an expert? They don’t have time to read everything and there is a lot of competition for their attention. How often are you using the words “you” and “your” compared to “me”, “my” and “I”?
Ambiguity is the enemy
I saw a billboard advertising ice cream that was, “97% fat-free and gluten-free”. Can a gluten-intolerant person eat that ice cream? It’s ambiguous. I saw a magazine cover, “Rachel Ray loves cooking her family and her dog”. How do her family and dog feel about this?
If in doubt, leave it out
If you’re not sure, how can you be sure they’re sure? If you can’t explain to me where and why you might use the word ‘whom’, then don’t use that word.
Less is more
Do I need to expand this? I hope not.
What is the purpose of your document? Is it to sell, influence, or inform? Should that one email be three emails instead? Check all your ideas that you might include back against the over-riding purpose of the document. If it isn’t working for your purpose, it’s working against it. Leave it out or append it.
In jest, I often recommend having a13-year old around of slightly above average intelligence. They can test your writing for reader-centricity, clarity, efficiency and meaning. If you don’t have access to such a resource, have you ever run readability statistics over your documents? You can find this function in your word-processing apps usually in the same menu as spellchecker. Not everyone needs to write for a 13-year old, but the stats can give you a feel for the consistent level you should be writing for and when you’re off-track.
Not every document matters, but if it matters, it really matters. Use fresh eyes and have others check your writing and you reciprocate. If you have multiple people contributing to a single document such as a proposal, then make one person in charge of sorting consistency.
Better engagement via better communication leads to increased productivity and revenue. Let’s write right!
As mentioned above, on my recent trip to Dallas, Texas, I met up with Steve Napolitano who is a great speaker, trainer and business coach working out of San Francisco. In the many discussions that we had, there were a number of things that we talked about in terms of what we were seeing as challenges for our clients and how they were overcoming these. Steve works with a lot of high-end, very successful corporate clients that spend a lot of their time travelling both nationally and internationally and can be very pushed for time. One of the key techniques he uses to help these clients is to get them to get a very clear vision of exactly what a successful life for them would look like both professionally and personally. He then tips the equation on its head and asks them to put into his diary all of the things that would be important to them. They then diarise these first, and by doing this, making them put all of their business commitments and business environments into the time that is remaining. Obviously this can be challenging at first in getting an idea of how to make this work, but one of the key things that he noticed that he did, was making his clients very disciplined around how much time they were going to allocate for work and what they were going to achieve in that timeframe. This concept has certainly been a challenge for me because I think a lot of the time we develop businesses where we will allocate as much time as we possibly can to create our success. Imagine we could build that success but only in the time that we were able to allocate where all of the other lifestyle components were going to be just as important.
This month, please consider having a look at your diary, having a look at the time you have allocated for your work commitments and challenge yourself that you can replace some of these with lifestyle or family opportunities and let’s see if we can condense and use the time that we have allocated for work far more efficiently and profitably.
One business owner I met this week was concerned about his team negotiating by phone or email, rather than taking the time to have face-to-face meetings. Under time pressure, there is a huge temptation to pick up the phone or email to progress a deal, but the tradeoff is a loss in 3 key areas of negotiation – feedback, focus and flexibility.
Feedback to a proposal is often communicated by a person’s body language, and without that feedback we can’t judge the best next step. The focus of a meeting is far better than on the phone or emailing where there are more distractions. And flexibility is needed in a give-and-take negotiation, where both sides try to problem-solve and meet their interests. Emails aren’t flexible, and can be recipes for disaster in a negotiation as they tend to state a fixed position.
So following my own advice, if you want to improve your financial performance by up-skilling your team’s negotiation skills, then let me know (by phone or email) and happy to meet up over a coffee to discuss how I can help.
I visited a presentation this week and listened to a room full of energetic people with many years’ experience listening intently to how their chosen field of work was going to get harder unless they changed. I also noticed how they produced their own marketing material through their own means and not using a skilled practitioner. Most of what they do is marketing, yet marketing for themselves had been left alone.
The biggest message from that day was that “if you stay the same, and not evolve, you will get left behind”
Many people don’t know where to start when it comes to personal branding. To help you out I wanted to give you some guidelines on how to structure your personal branding. Here are Six Steps to improve your personal branding. These can be reviewed at any time and don’t need to be completed in order.
Establish your purpose as an expert
Embrace and expand your STORY.
Explore your competitors as you build your brand
Show Localness & Profile Photos
Craft your individual Branding statement
BE DIGITALLY discoverable as a BRAND
If you want to know more, please don’t hesitate to contact me – I’m happy to connect with you and listen to your story.
Having a group of people within your business who are all specialists in their areas, is key. Recruiting for these specific people, requires us to be asking the right questions: Here are 6 key questions to ask at your interview:
Give me an example of how you’ve showed initiative and what was the result?
How have you created change in your last role?
Give me your definition of High Performance?
How have you created an amazing customer experience for a past client?
As a member of a High Performing Team, taking responsibility and problem solving is critical. Give me examples of how you’ve done this.
Where do you see your current skills fitting in this role and how can they be developed and complement the team?
Creating the structure for your High Performing team involves having role overviews, establishing expectations, having an activity plan, accountability training and skill development.
If you need assistance creating your EBU or want help motivating your existing team or creating structure, systems and processes, give us a call.