Live Your Ideal Life

We have written often about important it is for your business to have a vision statement, but it is just important for you to have a personal vision statement for a guide.

vision board - wordsOften personal statements are done in the form of Vision Boards.  As you read through magazines, or the mail, cut out pictures of the things you really want for your life.  Read the rest of this entry »

After the Sale

Is your sincere thank you the end of the sale?  NO.  How you treat your customer after the sale is crucial to the success of your business.  People do business with people who they know and trust.  Encouraging them to be repeat customers is much easier, and less expensive, than cultivating new customers.

Absolutely essential is a Thank You note, within three days.  If you only do business on the internet you might get away with email.  Hopefully it is not an auto responder that is cold and generic.  Someone in your Organization should be in charge of making sure this is done properly.

Smaller Organization s can easily add this activity to their work flow.  They also have more of an opportunity for personalization.  The people who actually interacted with the client should be sending out the thank you notes or gifts where appropriate; that’s all part of relationship building.

The really smart salesperson will take the time to hand write (horrors!) and personalize their Thank You notes.  Include a comment that indicates that you were really paying attention. Send it by snail mail; your message will stand out because hand written mail is so rare today in our electronic age.

Then, depending on the lifespan of your product, you should contact your customer again.  I don’t however recommend a Christmas/Holiday card; your message will get lost in the pile.  Try any other holiday or regular event, like daylight savings time or the change of the seasons. And, of course, don’t miss their birthday.  That gives you at least two contacts per year, three if you send holiday cards.

Seasoned, successful salesmen/women also pick up the phone occasionally.  “Just thinking of you”, “this reminded me of you”, or congratulations on your new position/baby/whatever.

These professionals have worked with these same customers/clients for several years and sometimes even multiple generations.  Think of the security of knowing that half your income is already made for the year because of this business that you have cultivated, tended, and watched grow. You can now spend your time planting the seeds for new customers to grow your business.

 

 

No Place on the Bus

I just met the most fascinating woman.  Although she is a senior citizen now, she was about seven or eight when this happened.  She had just arrived with her family in Alabama, from Japan.

After doing their weekly shopping she and her mother decided to ride the bus home; home was about five miles away and they had a lot to carry.  After boarding the bus she made a disturbing discovery.

Although this was the mid sixties and the civil rights act had been passed ten years before the bus was divided into two distinct sections, one for whites and one for coloreds.  She noticed that there was no section for Asians. There was no place on the bus for her; they didn’t fit in anywhere.

It took her a long time to get over this sense of invisibility; in the eyes of the bus company she didn’t exist.  Her welcome to America was tainted.

Since they couldn’t find a seat on the bus they walked all the way home. Five miles was a long way for a seven year old, with packages. This was their only choice because there was no place on the bus.

 

Are you getting in your own way?  This often the most misdiagnosed challenge for a small business.  You have a vision of where you want to be, but you are using rusty tools to get there.

The business world has changed drastically in the last fifty years. Many of us are still sticking like glue to old wisdom or systems.   The internet is probably the culprit.  Ideas and lessons can now spread so quickly that it is difficult to stay ahead of the curve.

We often live in our comfortable bubbles and not taking advantage of changes.  This is not surprising since most people don’t like change very readily. Change can be a very good thing and a powerful tool for advancing your business if you embrace it. If you must question change; ask yourself “what is the worst possible outcome if I take this action?  Can I live with the consequences?”  You will be surprised how much smaller your problems will seem when you take the steam out of them.

Stand in front of your mirror and take an honest, objective look at yourself.  Do you see the same things that your clients do, or are you living in a different reality?  If you can’t see the differences yourself, get a coach or neutral friend (rare) to help you see reality.

It is important to review your goals, mission and vision and change them if necessary on a regular basis.  Participate in continuing education opportunities within your field.  Carefully look at the leaders and competition to see what they are doing better, what they are doing worse, and how you can do better.

Business today is run more on brain power than brawn.  Use yours to help you grow your business.

 

 

You have heard this mantra, “there is no such thing as a stupid question,” a lot of times in your life; from teachers, parents, coaches and friends. However, the second half of this bad advice is that the only stupid questions are the ones you don’t ask.

Does your ego make you avoid questions because you may be laughed at, or ridiculed, or thought foolish?  If someone takes this stance with yoImageu you are probably asking the wrong person.  Respectful, knowledgeable people will not laugh at you; they will answer you or tell you where to get the answer. If it is a subject that they are passionate about you might even get more information than you could ever use; take what you need and remember this person if you ever need more details. Most people are honored that you have asked for their advice and are happy to share it with you.

There is no way to learn if you don’t ask questions.  You may ask an associate or friend, or you may ask Google, either way you are taking the opportunity to increase you knowledge base.  Conventional wisdom says that it is wise to learn something new every day.  That equals over 27000 new tidbits of information in a lifetime; that is a huge data base to have at your fingertips.

How could your life be different if you were able to recall facts or other data whenever you needed it?  Would it be easier for you to make decisions?  Would you be more comfortable with life; less stressed, more productive?  Are these good reasons to ask more questions?

Avoiding questions hampers your growth and keeps you stuck.  Asking questions can lead you to grand ideas and success.  Consider your requests as tools in your toolbox; just as you would pull out the appropriate screw driver for a project, the answers you get from asking questions are the tools you can use for personal or business growth and development.  Using questions, and the information that you get from them, are important tools to have in your toolbox.

       “The only stupid questions are the ones you don’t ask.”  They represent missed opportunities and keep you trapped in the now instead of enabling you to go forward and celebrate a full life.

 

 

 

According to John Donne, “no man is an island”; we are all dependent on each other.  In the overall scheme of things, business or personal, we should all ask for help and offer help to others.

The challenge for your business is recognizing that you do need help. Leaving your ego at the door is the first and most critical step to successful analysis.  You need to take a hard look from the client’s point of view; your personal choices do not count.  This is where asking for help may be necessary.

Having a mentor, someone outside of your business, is a good source of information.  There are a number of other choices that are also available to provide insight.  Employees, co-workers or associates may have good ideas or insights that you can refine and implement.  Hiring a consultant may be the best answer.

Consultants are free of any other connections that may taint a call to action. Many people are reticent to hire a consultant because they don’t recognize the need, and they think of it as an expense.  Most Consultants will give you a complimentary half hour, or so, to assess what you may need; because they are entirely neutral they can bring very useful information to the table. As far as being an expense goes, nothing could be farther from the truth; A good Consultant is an investment in the future of your business.  You need to put systems in place that can calculate your return on investment (ROI). Your Consultant can help you with this.

If you take advantage of your Consultant’s advice, act on her suggestions and follow your progress with your ROI system you will see a significant growth in your business.  If you just invest the money and do not take action, your investment will become an expense and a waste of valuable resources.

You have to take the action, but having help in determining what that action will be is a very good idea.

 

Let’s Go Shopping

Have you ever “shopped” your own business? Are you aware of how your customers are treated, are your products displayed in an appeasing and inviting manor, is your shop warm and welcoming?

Secretly shopping your own business will open your eyes to all new possibilities.  You do this by having someone pose as a potential customer and come into your store as a regular customer to assess all of these items: plus more depending on your needs.

An easy way to create a “secret shopper” is to contact the marketing department of a local University. A co-op between you will give you the information you need and it will be a good project for a student. Follow up with a referral letter for the student to her/his teacher.  A “win-win” for both of you.

You may be very surprised at the findings of you “secret shopper”.  No longer can you be in denial of the reality of your marketing efforts. You may find that your employees are lazy, your stock is haphazardly displayed, or your restrooms are dirty.  Each problem they find is an opportunity for you to update and make changes to improve your retailing.

Just having this extra set of eyes can help you keep fresh and relevant for your customers. Because you see it every day you may miss things that your “secret shopper” can see.  Remember that this is what your customer sees; you want it to be fresh and inviting, and calling out to be bought.

The better your shop looks, the higher your bottom line.  A clean, well-run store tells your customers that you really care and will do your very best to make their shopping experience rewarding.

 

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