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Face 2 Face Matters, Because You Can’t Shake Hands With A Screen (Phyllis K.)

In today’s social media-focused economy, it’s become increasingly common to have long, complex and lasting business relationships with other people without ever speaking to them face to face—or even on the phone. More of the average business’s sales support, customer service and other customer-facing functions are moving to the Web instead of being handled in person. And with cost-cutting foremost on everyone’s mind, conventions, conferences and meetings are all going virtual as well.

In this environment, you might suppose that there’s no longer much need to meet face to face. Well, you’d be wrong. In-person events are better than virtual events at capturing attendees’ attention, creating positive emotions and building relationships and networks.

Researchers found that face-to-face works best in three situations:

  1. To capture attention, especially if you are launching something new. Attendees at virtual events are more likely to multitask and filter certain information out. “[Multitasking] engages a different part of your brain, and information doesn’t make it into long-term memory. In contrast, the range of stimuli at an in-person event–from speakers to meals to meeting new people—creates novelty, which helps people be more open-minded and creative.
  2. To inspire a positive emotional reaction. An event that involves interacting with other people in the flesh creates a positive emotional experience. Those positive emotions become attached to the companies involved in the event, as well as contributing to make attendees more open to new experiences.
  3. To build networks and relationships. There a  distinction between sharing information—which can easily be done virtually—and creating networks or relationships, which still requires in-person human interaction. Relationships forged in person are stronger.   “Trust is built more effectively face-to-face.”

This applies to every meeting—even just between two people. You can Facebook, email, tweet and even talk on the phone all you want, but there’s no substitute for the kind of energy and connection that happens when you actually get together with a colleague or customer in person.

That’s why, no matter how busy I get, I always make time for face-to-face meetings. In my experience, they’re invaluable for building relationships that last—and that help grow your business.

 

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You Receive Not Because You Ask Not!

When it comes to driving your business, you want to have a couple of  magical things happen:

  1. You want your customers to become even better customers
  2. You want those customers to tell people about you.

This magical one-two punch is what grows your business without inflating your expenses. But to get a handle on those two things requires you get the answers to three things your customers won’t tell you … unless you ask.

No. 1 – Why Do You Enjoy Being My Customer?

Customers continue to do business with you for a number of reasons (good rates, great service, strong rapport), but it’s rare that they’ll volunteer this information without being asked. So ask them.

Find out what you’re doing right, and you can do two things:

  • Do more of the things they like
  • Discover patterns

Get the goods on this question, and you can turn your current customers into do-more-business-with-you customers.

No. 2 – What Else Do You Wish I Did In My Business?

Customers don’t just get products/services from you – they get other products/services before, during and after their transactions with you. Don’t miss this chance to cash in. Find out what else they want, and discover how you can give it to them.

  • If it’s out of your business scope, make deals with trusted vendors and recommend them.

Either way, it’s a chance to tap into more revenue, potentially at a minimum of effort on your part. But you have to ask.

No. 3 – Who Should You Tell About My Business?

People like doing business with you. And chances are high that they know others who would benefit as well … but they won’t volunteer this info off the top of their heads (most of the time). So make it networking with future clients easier by offering incentives.(Be on the lookout for my next post on how to do this)

Give people a good enough reason to spread the word about you, and they surely will. And when your good name becomes a standard of excellence that attracts new customers to you, the effort you put into creating it is money in the bank.

 

Run FORREST (Customer) RUN!

Loving customers sounds great when we’re reading it in a business book. But in the real world, the way we interact with customers can be anything but loving.  Here are some of the bad behaviors that I’ve seen over the years as a business banker and how to fix them.

1. Pushy Salesperson Attitude.

The days of the pushy salesperson are long gone. And if you’re still measuring sales performance on quantity (revenue) instead of quality (profit), then you are bound to get reluctant customers who cost money to integrate into your system and are often lost before they become truly profitable.

Find your ideal customer.

Start by identifying your favorite customers, the ones you get along with, who seem effortless and even a pleasure to work with. They are often a pleasure to work with because their requirements match what your business system delivers. For example, if you consistently deliver within 48 hours and your customers need product in 48 hours, they will be delighted. But if you bring on customers who need 24-hour delivery, you will consistently disappoint. When you’ve identified your ideal customers, dig into the specifics of what it is about your business that works for them.

2. Overpromise and under-deliver. (elementary?)

Studies show that expectations drive satisfaction results. So if you set your customers’ expectations higher than you are able to deliver, they will be MORE dissatisfied than if their expectations were closer to the true experience.

Listen.

For what’s really important to your soon-to-be-customer. Ask them what they expect from your company and then speak to each expectation and detail what a real experience is like. Then ask them how that sounds to them and if that meets their expectations.

3. Tell them what they’d like to hear.

This is another expectation issue. Customers want to know what to expect: when will their product be delivered, when will the service guy show up, etc. People are planning their busy lives around your answer, and when you just tell them what they want to hear but deliver something altogether different, this absolutely sends people through the roof.

Tell the conservative truth.

If you have only been able to deliver overnight 1 percent of the time, don’t say that you can always do it. If you’re not as good at providing a typical service because you just don’t like it, then refer them to the person who is better. This will actually work in your favor.

4. Ignore them after the sale.

Bringing on new customers is important, but loyal customers who refer people to your business do so because of their experience AFTER the sale.

Create a process.

Customers get ignored because there’s not a process to service them after the sale.

Love your customers.

I mean this in the most serious way. Look for ways to offer them special deals and introduce them to new products and services. Have special events just for them where they can learn new things about your product or service. One client I have sent their customer a truckload of balloons, hamburgers, hot dogs, a grill and all the fixings for a picnic to celebrate their anniversary of being a customer for 25 years.

5. Keep the owner (President/CEO) behind the scenes.

Loyal customers feel like they have a relationship with the company. When customers have the feeling that they can reach out and talk to the owner whenever they want to (even though they rarely do it), it gives them a sense of closeness and loyalty.

Interact with customers.

Find opportunities to put yourself in front of your customers.  If you own a retail operation,  be there and answer questions. If you are a manufacturer, take customer service calls now and then. You might think you have more pressing things to do, but they will not yield the powerful customer loyalty that a personal connection does.

6. Make them feel stupid.

Rude and condescending tones can creep out in your communication— especially if you’re stressed. Your customers probably aren’t as smart as you about the product or service that you sell—that’s why they buy from you!

7. Voicemail, and no other way to find you.

It’s getting more difficult to find people at their desk.  And today’s communication tools have increased expectations that when a customer calls, they expect a call back or a response ASAP. Voicemail will NOT cut it anymore.

Leave a cell phone number.

Be sure to include your cell phone number in your voicemail recording so that people can get in touch with you.

8. Not understanding what’s important in their application.

There’s nothing more frustrating to customers than feeling like they are talking into a black hole when they explain how they use your product and service in their application.

Observe your customers in action.

Take the time to actually spend time with your customers watching how they use your product. You might even discover a new product or service in the process.

9. Putting your policies over their satisfaction.

Have you ever created a policy about customer satisfaction? The customer isn’t always right, but is following your rules worth the loss of a customer?

Plan to break the policy.

This might sound odd, but think about when it makes sense to break the policy. Think about when breaking your rules is worth it. This makes it easy to deal with situations quickly and easily without taking too much time to have the customer wallowing in discontent.

Habits of Highly Effective Networking

For most solo professionals, in-person networking is a significant piece of their ongoing marketing strategy.  Getting out and meeting the right people is often the quickest way to enroll new clients into your program and generate additional revenue.

Though networking can open the door to numerous opportunities, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s one of your favorite activities. I know a fair number of entrepreneurs who dread networking and consider it to be a necessary “evil” of running a business.

Whether you LOVE networking or do it out of sheer necessity, I’m confident you want to enjoy the best possible results at every opportunity. Here are some  Smart, Simple Tips on how to use this strategy effectively to connect with your ideal clients and create opportunities to grow your business:

1. “Fish in the Right Pond” – Don’t attend a networking event just for the sake of doing so. To get the most bang for your buck (and use your time efficiently) make sure you are ONLY attending networking events where your target clients and referral partners are hanging out. Remember, to be extremely successful in business you can’t market to any and everyone. You need to focus your attention on providing specific solutions to your ideal clients. Which means you need to do targeted, focused networking. You’ll enjoy yourself much more, have better conversations and create more opportunities when you’re talking to people who “get” what you do and are already looking for your product or services.

2. Get your head right – Networking isn’t about selling yourself or pitching your services. It’s about making connections with people, getting to know them, finding out what they need and creating opportunities. Be clear about your objectives BEFORE you attend the event so that you “show up” as a friendly, gracious and helpful resource. If you are a person who doesn’t LOVE the experience of networking, adjust your mindset. A lack of confidence and a negative attitude are highly unattractive and will repel others from wanting to connect with you. Instead of dreading the experience, look forward to the opportunity to meet other people and educate others about what you do. Set the intention before you head out the door that you’re going to have a GREAT experience and enjoy yourself!

3. Have reasonable expectations – Don’t attend the event desperate to close new business on the spot. If you do, each person you meet will “sense” it on you and will likely be turned off your approach. Instead, focus on having meaningful conversations with the people you meet and getting to know them so you can follow-up as appropriate.

4. Resist the urge to “work the room” – I know you’ve seen this. There’s always a guy someone at networking events running around the room, almost tossing their business card at every person they pass. Don’t be that person. Take your time. Enjoy meeting various individuals. Allow the conversations you start to develop and end naturally. You’ll feel much more relaxed and have a better experience. Plus you’ll create deeper connections with the people you meet and have a much easier time following up with them after the event. It is far better to have 4-5 fabulous conversations than to run around the room passing out your card to everyone in your path.

You Have Your DREAM Client, NOW WHAT!?

You put a lot of time and effort into turning your dream clients into clients. Once you acquire them as clients, you have to manage and deliver the outcomes that you sold and promised. You must also understand and become an active participant in their buying cycle—or someone else will!

Where the Cycle Starts

Your dream client became your client after they became dissatisfied and after you built the relationships, created value before claiming it, and developed the necessary trust to deserve and opportunity.

The buying process always starts with dissatisfaction. Once a buyer becomes dissatisfied, they start to work to understand their needs, identify possible options that will deliver an improvement, and then to resolve any concerns. If your dream client is now your client, it’s a pretty safe bet that you helped them through this process.

You may have delivered your solution, and you may have already made a significant, measurable improvement for your client. But know this for certain: your solution did nothing to change the deep fundamental that began this process.

The Deepest Fundamental

The deepest of all fundamental trends is change. More still, the pace of change is accelerating at a breath-taking and astonishing speed. Great change and shifts in the business environment and economy mean that the buying cycles are shorter.

The time between a new solution and an external change that causes dissatisfaction is growing shorter. Retaining your client means understanding these shortening cycles—and then getting deeply engaged in your client’s buying process. Again!

It’s You—Or It Is Your Competitor

When the buying cycle starts again—and it will start again—it begins, as always, with dissatisfaction. Something has changed. Your solution no longer produces the needed result. Or some other part of your client’s business comes unraveled and needs to be put back together because something changed.

You have a choice: you can either work with your client through their buying process, or you can wait for your competitor to find their way in.

The pattern is one you should know. Your client is dissatisfied. Either you help them identify and understand what they need, or they will find someone who will.

Your client needs ideas. They need solutions. They need options. Either you get engaged in working with them to identify all of the potential changes that might be made, the new products, the new services, the new solutions that may be necessary, or they look outside.

Someone is going to help your client build a vision of the right way to move forward and deal with the change that has been thrust upon them. Someone is going to help them sell the case internally, and someone is going to resolve their concerns about undergoing a change effort. It’s up to you whether they resolve the concerns about switching partners or whether they resolve concerns about your proposed changes.

Retaining your clients means understanding the buying cycle begins with dissatisfaction and that the deepest fundamental, change, means that dissatisfaction will be making its rounds again soon (sooner than you imagined!). The only way to retain your client is to become an active participant in their buying cycle and ensuring that they don’t need to look elsewhere for help identifying and understanding their needs, coming up with options, or resolving their concerns.

 

Mind Yo Manners on Facebook!

Alright you have joined facebook for business purposes and are wondering why you are not getting instant results. Well first thing you have to realize it will take time to build it up. Second is that there is definitely a facebook business etiquette that you should follow. Why is this you are thinking, let me explain it for you.

Facebook is a social community online and people go on there to communicate with others and build relationships. This sure is a perfect place to do business if you use the right etiquette when approaching others. No matter where you are from in the world the basics are the same.

Basic facebook business etiquette that everyone doing business on there should know.

  1. Someones personal profile or page is their own personal space. Now in real life you would not go up to someone and say ‘I’m a car sales man, buy this car. Here is my card ring me as soon as you can so we can get it all settled.’ I am sure you would not be interested one bit in what they have to offer. Facebook is the same as real life when it comes to approaching people. When you friend someone or they friend you means they are giving you the okay to form a relationship with them. If you were to go and put your business link on there wall or post about a great deal you have on there, you are not only being disrespectful to them you are invading their personal space.
  2. Sending out friend requests. When sending out friend requests it is polite to send a personal message with it. A personal message is not Hi my name is …. then a business link. This is a sure way to have your friend request ignored. You need to treat people as you would someone you meet for the first time. A hello and the reason why you are wanting the friendship is a good way to start. This does not mean Hi I want to add you so your can join my business or buy my product. You need to have something in common with the person so you have a reason to connect.
  3. Sending messages. To be in business for yourself you have to have passion, this does not mean you go spamming peoples inboxes because you believe in your product or service. People will either stop reading your mail or will delete you. Remember it is a social network with real people.
  4. Pages are for business. This is one people seem to forget regularly. Sure you want to get your business out there but to only post business on your personal profile not only is boring for those who read it but is not excepted by facebook. A personal profile is a place to share who you are and what you enjoy or have learned. A page is a place to share your business as everyone who has decided to be on your page is happy to read about your business and receive mail about it. Together we can all make facebook a great place for business and pleasure if we follow this basic facebook business etiquette. Happy facebooking to all you business owners.

Together we can all make facebook a great place for business and pleasure if we follow this basic facebook business etiquette. Happy facebooking to all you business owners.

The GROWING Optimism of Credit Availability

Overall, 61% of borrowers and 74% of lenders who responded to a NREI survey expect credit to become more available over the next 12 months. That fits the emerging storyline that the economy is on the mend and that property values for commercial real estate have begun to stabilize or even rise in some cases, forcing lenders out of hibernation. Still, 30% of borrowers and 19% of lenders say that the availability of capital will stay the same or worsen in 2011. That sentiment could reflect the fact that lending conditions in secondary and tertiary markets are less favorable and more stagnant than primary markets.