Monday, March 31

Get the Right People on The Bus 

This just came across my inbox from Jon Gordon, author of The Energy Bus:

In the classic book Good to Great Jim Collins says, "...to build a successful organization and team you must get the right people on the bus." His research shows that great companies and organizations do this. They get the right people and put them in the right seats.
But a question I've been wondering lately that is not in his book is "Who are the right people?" After all, in order to get the right people on the bus you must identify who the right people are, right?
While speaking to the Cornell University lacrosse team in December I had the chance to spend time with the Head Coach, Jeff Tambroni, who has built Cornell into one of the top lacrosse programs in the country. As a former Cornell lacrosse player and given the work I do now I was very curious how Jeff was able to build a winning team and attract great players year after year.
Without hesitating he said, "We know who our type of player is. We have identified what we are looking for in a Cornell lacrosse player. We tell them that we will work and train harder than any other team in the country. So if they don't have a strong work ethic they are not our type of player. We also find the right athletes who we can develop and mold into our system. This has made it a lot easier on our recruiting. Instead of recruiting 30 players we go after the top 10 that are right for us."
This principle of identifying the right people was echoed by the Director of Learning at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. He told me how the Ritz has saved millions of dollars by identifying the key characteristics, strengths and traits of each job/position at the hotel and then creating a benchmark that every potential employee is measured against. Utilizing a company called Talent Plus they interview each potential employee and then identify how they measure up to the benchmark of the position they are applying for. As a result they are better able identify who the right people are for each job at the hotel.
As managers, team leaders and engaged employees it's not enough to say that we need to get the right people on the bus. We must identify who the right people are and create a process that gets them on the right bus and in the right seat.
Here's a simple process to get started.
1. Identify who the right people are. Each organization and team will have different needs so your right people may be different than other organizations and teams.

2. One exercise you can do is to sit down with your leadership and human resources team and identify several people in your organization who you wish you could clone. Write down their characteristics and traits and create your own benchmark of the right person for each position.
3. Identify the type of person that fits your organization and team culture. For example, if you want to create a positive culture make sure you hire positive people. If you want to create a culture that is creative then hire creative people.
4. Make sure you take your time during the hiring/recruiting process. If you invest your time, resources and energy to get the right people on the bus you'll have less headaches, expenses and flat tires later on.
5. Remember, the people you surround yourself with will often determine the kind of ride it's going to be.
Tell us what you think! How does your organization get the right people on the bus?

Sunday, March 30

The power of results 

People love chopping wood. In this activity, one immediately sees results.
-- Albert Einstein

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
-- Winston Churchill

You're doing everything right at work. But are the right things getting done?

There is a big difference between doing things right and making sure the right things get done.

One is about procedures, and the other is about outcomes, results, and the quality of the wood that you're chopping!

Friday, March 28

Keep your mind on the hole you're playing.  

Keep your mind on the hole you're playing.
-- Tom Kite

I am not a golfer, but the following bits of wisdom from former US Open champion Tom Kite have value far beyond the links.

You can only play one hole at a time. That's the first step toward how to think like a pro. An important key to a successful game is staying in the present.

Resist the urge to add it up. If you anticipate your score, you'll be distracted from the task at hand.

Focus. Concentrate on hitting great shots rather than worrying about bad ones or what others will think. Visualize the ball going to your target. If your mind wanders, refocus and start over again.

Don't worry about the shot you just missed, or how you're going to play the 18th. Taking care of the present lets the future take care of itself.

Wednesday, March 26

Get the Most From Consulting 

This piece just came across my desk from Cathy Stucker - it's an OUTSTANDING fast-read resource for getting the most from your consultant.

As the author of The Manager's Pocket Guide to Consultants (HRD Press, 2007) I can tell you that Cathy hit the nail on the head with this great advice for small business owners and entrepreneurs. For larger consulting clients, you'll want to read my book . Seriously... it's whole different ball game with consultants and consulting in the larger world of business.

-- David Newman

Get the Most From Consulting
Guest column by Cathy Stucker, The Idea Lady

When you pay someone to advise you, you want to get the greatest possible benefit. Not only are you investing money in the advice, you are spending your time with the expert
and implementing the advice they give. Here is how to make the most of your investment.

Choose the right expert. Do they know about what you need to do? Do an online search for them and see what comes up. That is especially useful if they are going to teach you how to
do something online. If someone claims they can give you a great online presence, but you can't find them online, there is a disconnect there.

Let the expert know what your needs are. What issues do you need to discuss? What do you need to walk away with in order to consider your consultation a success? Be as specific as
possible about your goals.

Focus on goals, not process. Although you should be specific about your goals, you might leave it open about how you will get there. For example, instead of saying, "I need to know how to implement a Pay-per-click advertising campaign," maybe what you really need to know is how to get more people to your web site. Pay-per-click is one option, and if that is the only one you know, you limit what the expert may be able to share with you.

Give background. I always ask if there is something I should review to have a better idea of where the client is now. That might mean looking at their web site, or information about
their products or services.

Record your conversations. You will not remember everything that is discussed, so make a recording that you can review later. You do not want to spend a lot of time taking notes,
you want to be focused on the conversation. Let the consultant know that you will be recording. If they object, maybe they are not the right expert for you.

Do not be intimidated. If the consultant says something you do not understand, ask her to explain. That is her job.

Use what you learn. Now that you know what to do, do it. Put the ideas your gained to work for you.


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Cathy Stucker, The Idea Lady(tm)
Attract Customers and Make Yourself Famous
Make growing your business easy and fun!

6 Celebrity Secrets for Making Your Customers Feel Like Stars! 

Guest column by Donna Cutting

If Johnny Depp walked into your workplace today, how would you behave? If you're like most people, you'd drop whatever you were doing and approach him, smiling, ready and eager to serve him. If Halle Berry walked into your restaurant, you'd immediately escort her to the best seat in the house. If Tom Hanks was on the phone asking questions, you'd do whatever you could to get him his answers... cheerfully... right?

What about the rest of your customers?

Perhaps you're thinking, "Of course, we'd treat them exactly the same way!" Maybe. In general, though, customer service has become a "buzz phrase" that is rarely lived up to.

A study done by Connell and Associates (2004) found that 45% of all respondents felt that most companies simply do not provide good customer service. In a Harris Interactive Study 80% of respondents stated they had made the decision to never do business with a company again because of bad customer service.

How can you -- the business owner or service professional -- turn this trend around? By treating your customers like stars!

As Garrett Richter, president and CEO of the First National Bank of Florida, tells his employees, "If we roll out the red carpet for billionaires, they won't even notice it. If we roll out the red carpet for millionaires, they expect it. If we roll out the red carpet for thousandaires, they appreciate it. And if we roll out the red carpet for hundredaires, they tell everybody they know."
To his point, the same Harris Interactive Study found that 60% of respondents said the main reason they would recommend a company is outstanding customer service. Here are six secrets from the world of celebrity that will get your customers buzzing about you.

1. Give Them a Red Carpet Arrival. When a celebrity arrives for a movie premiere or a charity function, it's a big deal! There's a red carpet. There are photographers. There are hundreds of fans lined up, shouting their name and begging for a chance to spend even two seconds with the star. When the rest of us arrive at a place of business, we're lucky if we can even get someone to acknowledge us. Treat your customers like stars by showing them you're glad they came. Look up, smile, walk out from behind the counter and greet them. Most people don't need a fancy carpet or paparazzi -- just eye contact is enough!

2. Call Them By Name. Motivational guru and author Dale Carnegie said that when remember someone's name you "make them feel important." Remember your customer's name and use it each time you see them. Make it a top priority, and you'll find remembering names easier than you think. You can also find unique ways of using someone's name. For instance, High Point University welcomes all expected guests with their own parking space designated by a sign bearing....you guessed it...their name. Some restaurants name dishes after famous people. What if you named some of your products after your best customers? Now that's the star treatment!

3. Remember and Refer. Aside from their name, remember other details about your customer as well and refer to them. When one grocery store manager recalled that the "grumpy lady who comes in on Wednesdays" had been to Chicago to visit her daughter, he asked her about the trip....and made her day! Now, that once grumpy customer seeks the man out with a smile on her face whenever she comes into the store. It doesn't take much to make ordinary people feel special. Just pay attention.

4. Cater to their Personal Preferences. While your customer may not be as picky as the celebrity who wants all the brown M&M's taken out of his candy dish, everyone has their likes and dislikes. Surprise your customer in little ways and let them know you are paying attention. In his former career as a banker, Author and Speaker Dave Timmons earned the business of a prospect after he tossed him two baseballs signed by the members of his grandsons' favorite sports team. One hotel dining room supervisor heard a guest say that she enjoyed blood oranges, so he secretly had a few brought up to her room. Delight people in this way and you and your business become unforgettable.

5. Give Them SWAG! At every awards show celebrities walk away with gift bags filled with products and paraphernalia worth thousands. There is a reason why people line up -- and even pay good money -- to give their goods away to celebrities via the swag bag. When the superstar wears or uses their product, it creates buzz. When Katrina Campins, star of the first season of The Apprentice wore a watch on the show that was given to her by Jacob the Jeweler, she was swamped with calls from men wanting to buy one for their wives. While your customers may not have the platform that Katrina had to show off your product, when you give them something for free they will talk about it. Just watch how much press Ben & Jerry's gets next time they hold a "Free Cone Day." What kind of swag can you give your customers to get them talking about you?
6. Be Extraordinary...And Then Some. Make a commitment to be remarkable in every way that you serve your customer. Be the first one to respond. Have the widest smile in the room. Call everyone by name. Constantly be on the lookout for little ways that you can make your customer feel like the most important person in the world. When you do, you will find yourself not only with a customer for life, but with a raving fan that will go out and spread the word about their incredible celebrity experience.

About Donna Cutting: Donna Cutting is the author of The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red Carpet Customer Service (Wiley; 2008). She speaks nationally on the topics of employee engagement and customer service. www.donna@donnacutting.com

Tuesday, March 25

Telling a Good Story 

Guest column by Michele Miller, Inc. magazine

You may have the greatest company in the world. But if you don't know how to convey that to customers, you may as well not exist.

Every entrepreneur believes his or her business is remarkable. As I work with clients to uncover and determine brand strategies, they're always very eager to tell me about how special their business is. Most of the time, I reply by saying, "You're right. You definitely have something unique to offer, and have a good operations system in place to deliver what you promise to customers."

"Then why," they ask, "are we struggling just to stay even, let alone grow?"

"Perhaps," I respond, "you're not telling a good enough story."

When it comes to marketing your business in a powerful and meaningful way, you need to give serious thought to that which makes you stand out in a way no one else can -- your brand story. Consider some of the most successful marketers in the small-business landscape today, and check out the stories they're telling:

The J. Peterman Company. Yes, there really is a J. Peterman, and the reason behind the clothing company's success can be found in a quote from J. Peterman himself. "People want things that are hard to find. Things that have romance, but a factual romance, about them." You're not buying an ordinary polka-dot skirt -- you're strutting down the Boulevard St-Germain in Paris. The man's Estancia shirt tells a tale of wealth and polo ponies in Argentina. J. Peterman weaves a tale around each and every piece of clothing that is very compelling. Customers aren't purchasing outerwear; they're buying into a dream of adventure.

Columbia Sportswear. In the mid-1970s, Columbia CEO Gert Boyle knew it was time for a change in marketing. "I always thought our advertising was kind of weird, with the 'engineered' and all that. Because the average person doesn't care anything about having something engineered. People care about having it fit well." That was the beginning of Columbia's "Tough Mother" campaign. Customers are convinced of the sturdiness of Columbia clothing, not only because of engineering, but Gert's stories about what she herself puts a piece of clothing through before selling it to the public. And what better guinea pig that her son, Tim? Their most famous ad showed Tim (now the company's CEO) submitting to a run through the car wash to test a Columbia parka, at his mother's behest. Today, Columbia Sportwear is a $1.2 billion company.

One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning. What is the biggest complaint about repair people? You have to wait around for hours and they're always late (that is, if they even show up). One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning took that bad rap and turned it on its ear. They don't market themselves as having "timely service." They actually guarantee "Always On Time or You Don't Pay a Dime." And they mean it. If the repairperson is not there within an hour of your appointed time, you pay nothing. Quite a powerful story, and One Hour can do it, because they have the operations system in place to back up their guarantee. It is now one of the fastest-growing franchises in the United States today.

If you had to tell you story, what would it be? Would it have the right balance of fantasy, whimsy and fact? When creating your story, remember to:

Be authentic. The examples above are success stories because they draw from the "heart" of the company -- J. Peterman's love for storytelling, Gert Boyle's tough nature, and One Hour's commitment to saving the customer time. Anyone can make up a story, but the customer's innate sense of authenticity is what transforms a story into a brand message. Spend a good deal of time looking back at your history and personal values in determining why you're even in the business you're in. What's your passion, and how can you tell customers about it?

Be consistent. It's not enough just to tell a story; you must live it everyday through everything you do. I've written about the fact that every touch point of your business is a marketing opportunity. Columbia Sportswear wouldn't be the success it is today if the company talked about toughness, and then the zippers on their parkas disintegrated after a week. One Hour knew it had to have its operations structure in place to deliver on its promise of timeliness. From message to delivery to customer service, every element of your company has to align with your story.

The companies we call "super brands" use their unique (and sometimes personal) story to connect with customers in a way that makes them feel special; customers feel that they're in-the-know about who the brand is and what it offers. Do your customers really know you? And does the message get reinforced in everything you do? You can tell, and deliver on, a good story, even on the smallest of marketing budgets. It's a remarkable marketing strategy for a remarkable business -- yours.

Tuesday, March 18

10 Business Card Blunders That Hurt Business 

You don't have to be a Fortune 500 company to have an effective business card that
captures attention and inspires someone to want to know more about you and what you

By being aware of these ten common blunders and making sure you avoid them, you'll
have a business card that gets noticed and increases your number of referrals and

1. Miniscule print. Have you ever received a card that has a huge graphic taking up half the card and print so small you can't read the phone number? Well, I have. Too many in fact. And after straining my eyes and holding the cards under bright lights, trying to "crack the code," I eventually pitched them into the trash.

Make your name, phone number, web site and address easy to read. Business people
are busy and won't spend more than a few seconds trying to decipher your information.
Most don't carry magnifying glasses in their back pocket either.

2. No physical address. Perhaps you don't want to give your physical address because
you work from home.

Unfortunately, holding back on contact information is harmful and hints that your
business is not well established or reputable. Consider getting a post office box or
asking a colleague if you may use her business address for your mail. Create a suite
number to create an image of professionalism and longstanding.

3. Slick texture. It is often recommended to have a business card that "feels" different from everyone else's so it stands out. The problem that arises with this practice is some of these cards cannot be written on.

Last week at an event, a gentleman gave me his card and struggled to write some
additional information onto it because it was made of slippery plastic. He did his best, but by the time I got home, the information was gone.

4. Blank back. The back of your business card is prime real estate. Something that very few people use. Use this valuable space to print a coupon, offer a special report or complementary consult.

Create an offer that inspires action such as, "Present this card for a 25% discount on your first visit." or "Bring this in with you and get a free oil change."
This gives people an added reason to hold onto it.

5. No photo. Placing your picture on your card makes you more memorable and instills
a stronger sense of connection. As people look at your card time and again, they begin to feel like they know you and are more apt to get in touch with you.

Imagine collecting 50 to 100 cards at an event then trying to remember who's who.
Your picture creates instant recall while others may be quickly forgotten.

6. Incongruence. If you offer a web design service and don't have a web site of your own listed, your card will raise red flags in people's minds. I recall meeting a gentleman who introduced himself as a web designer and gave me his card.
When I asked him why he didn't have his web site listed, he said he didn't have one.
If you want to sell a Ford, drive a Ford. If you want to sell cell phones, have one and make your number available. If you want to sell toll-free service, make sure you have your toll-free number on your card.

You have to walk your talk and demonstrate that you live, eat, breathe and firmly
believe that what you offer is of tremendous value to others, starting with yourself.

7. No benefits. A graphic, your name and contact details don't do a whole lot to create a memorable impression, and by the time new contacts get home with your card, they may have forgotten what it is you do.

Create a tagline or something memorable that expresses a benefit and states exactly
what business you're in.

For example, a local delivery rep may have "Your important business packages
delivered same day or get twice your money back!" That's grabs a person by the eyeballs and makes it very clear what the business does.

8. Not unique. Ninety percent of the cards you collect look the same. After all, how
creative can you really get? Well, you'd be surprised ...
- crop a corner or have a stencil cut out
- attach a magnet to the back so it's displayed on a fridge or file cabinet
- include contact details in Braille
- make the back a scratch ticket for a discount
- place a mini map to your location on the back
- make it 3D
- make it look like the product you're selling, ie. a cell phone
- place it in a protective sleeve
- have a picture of a satisfied client on the front with a testimonial
- if you're a lawn care company, make your card a packet with a few seeds inside

The creative possibilities are endless.

9. Challenging sizes. Although creatively shaped cards and over-sized cards do stand
out, they can pose challenges for those who use scanning software to import the cards
into electronic storage devices.

And, oversize cards don't make it into the standard business card albums or card

Your card may stand out and stand alone, but it might also become lost or overlooked
because it's not stored with others.

10. Home jobs. No matter how hard you try, a home-made business card simply can't compete with professionally printed cards. Perforated and light-weight cards scream "cheap" and "amateur" and will lessen your ability to make an impact.

Professional business cards can be printed inexpensively and go a long way to create an image of professionalism and quality for both you and your business.

Simple, inexpensive changes to your card can make the difference between boom or
bust in the number of referrals and new prospects you attract.

Invest in creating an effective, professional card and you will be rewarded many times over.

2007 © Laurie Hayes - The HBB Source

Laurie Hayes, founder of The HBB Source, and creator of The Complete 12-Step Guide To Starting A Home-Based Business and The HBB Survival Guide, helps freedom seekers fast track their journey from employee to home-based entrepreneur. Get her free ezine packed with helpful resources at http://www.thehbbsource.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Laurie_Hayes


Monday, March 17

Do Your Clients Trust You? 

Do Your Clients Trust You?
Guest column by Jennifer Wessman

Successful salespeople are adept at gaining their clients' trust, though they might be hard-pressed to explain precisely how trust influences people's buying decisions. Research has shown that in product sales, clients often trust the reputation of the product itself as much as they trust the salesperson. But when you're dealing with a service sale involving intangible elements, trust becomes the buyer's primary motivator.

Because of this, many professional, trustworthy people don't always come across as such. This concept intrigued Neil Rackham, founder of Huthwaite. As a result, Huthwaite conducted a study of professional services clients to define their perception of trust. After interviewing almost 1,000 people, Huthwaite found that trust has three essential components:

1. Candor
Clients value honesty when dealing with a service company. They want a salesperson to be straight about what will work and what won't. And most importantly, they value a salesperson's willingness to say "I may not have the right answer right now, but I'll find it for you."

2. Competence
Clients want to be sure you know exactly what you are doing. They need to feel a low level of risk when working with you. Because they can't see and touch the product, your ability to solve their problem becomes the focal point. In a real sense, your competence is the product.

3. Concern
Clients want to know that you feel their pain and that you are concerned about them and their business issues beyond the lip service it takes to land a sale.

The three C's of trust -- candor, competence and concern -- are all essential. The absence of any one can cost you a major sale. But are salespeople equally good at demonstrating each of these three C's? The answer is a resounding no.

In both the professional services study and in parallel studies Huthwaite conducted with product sales forces, the most frequently missing element of trust was concern. Put simply, clients felt that while most salespeople were competent and candid, when it came to concern they were sorely lacking. As a result, clients didn't trust them.

So why is it that clients see salespeople as unconcerned? There are a few reasons:

• We listen for the things we can solve rather than the things that are important to our clients.
• We're often too anxious to get to solutions, so we don't listen to the problem.
• We don't get on the client's side of the table.

As a result, while clients may see us as candid and competent, they don't feel that we show concern for them or their issues. Is this really important? The answer is yes. Unfortunately, concern is the one dimension of trust where you'd want to score an "A." Not only is concern most important to clients, it is the one area where they can make a valid judgment that minimizes the perceived risk involved in buying from you.

Rackham recounted a story told by John Wilson, his former colleague. Wilson had taken his child with a high fever to a new doctor. Like most parents in an emergency, he was apprehensive about the child's well-being. Unfortunately, the doctor showed no concern for either child or parent. He performed a clinical examination and wrote out a prescription. "I just didn't trust him," Wilson said after the incident, "and I thought he was incompetent. I later found he was a top professional in his field, but that's not what came across. His lack of concern had me suspicious of his competence.

We wonder how often clients draw the same conclusions.

Friday, March 7

3 methods of learning for professional services firms 

By three methods may we learn wisdom: First by reflection,
which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest;
and third, by experience, which is bitterest.

-- Confucius

Let's examine these three methods a little more closely.

Learn by reflection: My friend and consulting colleague,
Michael Ray, believes that the question, "What should I
do?" is not really a question of action - it's a question
of information.

There's something else you need to find out: it could be
about yourself, your capabilities, your desires, your
goals, your resources, or your intention, but there's some
piece of information that is missing.

When you have all the information, you will know exactly
what to do.

The best way to access this information might be to take 10
steps back from the problem - zoom way, way out - and spend
some time on a mental "retreat." The retreat could be as
short as an hour, or as long as a week, or even more if you
have the time.

Take the time you need to really reexamine the situation
and your relationship to it. Look inward and explore your
intuition and your feelings. If you need more external
information, go find it - talk to people, do some research,
get out and about.

But always bring that information back and examine it
introspectively and holistically to put all the pieces of
the puzzle on the table.

Then, allow what you see and feel to help you decide what
to do.

Learn by imitation: Best practices are dead. So that's not
what I mean by imitation.

But if you see something that works in one company or
industry, see how that might apply in a cross-pollinating
way to your organization - and specifically to the business
challenge you're trying to acquire wisdom about solving.

For example, what can you learn from:

Southwest Airlines flies to a limited number of cities that
are profitable for them. They choose where they want to

AOL sends out countless millions of subscription CD's for
people to try their service firsthand.

Sony prides itself on the speed with which they can take a
new idea and prototype it in order to get feedback from
internal groups. Their average time to prototype: 5 days.

As composer Igor Stravinsky put it, "A good composer does
not imitate; he steals."

Learn by experience: People sometimes make the mistake of
assuming that learning by experience is the same as
learning from your mistakes. That's only part of it.

Perhaps more important is learning from your successes.
Look for what went right in the past; what successes were
easy, effortless, and enjoyable? What did you put into
motion that "just clicked" and turned out even better than
you expected?

It is these successes that are some of your most powerful
teachers in business.

I'm not suggesting that you try to replicate past successes
- you can't.

But you can replicate the conditions under which those
successes came to be. You can look back and recall the
tools, the skills, and the resources that you mobilized.
You can start to inventory your strengths, personal
preferences, and your own best ways of working.

And those things, if used intentionally and with clarity,
are much more likely to serve you well in the future.

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