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Intention vs. Execution

One of the things I love to do is to understand different types of people.  I love to look for patterns in people and learn how they think, how they make decisions, and to try and find similarities in extremely successful people. 

In studying people, I have learned that most people have very good intentions…really.  Most people intend to do good things.  They intend to get things done, to pray for you when they say they will, to read more, to improve themselves, to lose that 10 lbs, get out of debt, and so on.  Good intention might be defined as the process of having a sincere desire to do something we know needs to get done.  Let’s say that at least 90% of people have these kinds of thoughts.

Executing might be defined as the ability to formulate a plan to get a thing done and then following through with the plan until the thing is fully done.  This is where the pack starts to thin out.  Few people are really good at this part of the equation.  How many people do you know today that when they say to you, “…that sounds great.  I’ll call you this week to confirm.” that there is a slim chance they will actually follow up.  It’s widely accepted that things just fall through the cracks sometimes.  We are all busy right?  Wrong.

I suggest to you today that the gap between intention and execution is the exact same gap between your dreams and success.  The smaller the gap, the larger your success.  People who drop the ball with little things will drop the ball with big things.  Successful people don’t drop balls…period.  Some have assistants that help them, some have systems in place that work for them, but one way or another they do the things they commit to do or they simply don’t commit. 

If you are in business, I especially want to challenge you today to eliminate the gap between your intentions and the execution of every single thing you say you will do.  No more casual commitments.  If you can’t do it, say no instead of casually committing.  Your reputation depends on it.  Your success depends on it. 

“Repeat anything often enough and it will start to become you.”  ~ Winston Churchill

“99% of failures come from the people who have the habit of making excuses.”  ~ George Washington Carver


Seize The Moment!

This week’s lesson is worth the entire price of admission!  : )  If you are looking for a competitive edge in the area of customer experience, this is it.  From day one, we are taught that in business you don’t get what you deserve; but rather what you negotiate.  You negotiate with your clients exactly what they will pay and exactly what they will get in return.  But I read something in Jack Welch’s Straight From The Gut a few years ago that I have found to be HUGE.  That is giving your client an unexpected, unrequested “extra” once the deal is done. 

An example of this is that just today, I was at an event our company is doing at a local resort.  Twenty five of my top clients were in attendance and I was there to personally welcome them.  I was looking for a way to do something extra for them; but honestly our team had done such a good job already I was struggling to find what I needed.  Then just before I left for the office, I heard that lunch was not provided and that attendees had only an hour to get lunch and get back.  This is nearly impossible in this area with a large group.  Bingo!  I headed straight for the Hotel restaurant and found the manager.  Within 15 minutes, we had arranged for 25 of our top clients to have a specially prepared lunch on the patio on a gorgeous fall Tennessee day.

The lunch was good, the convenience was very helpful; but that’s not what made these clients feel special.  It was that they got a private note from one of our staff during the event just before lunch time that I had taken care of everything.  Not only did this solve a big problem for them, but it was spontaneous and most importantly unexpected.  The clients were floored and I had made a huge deposit in our “relationship account” that said they were worth far more than any agreed upon terms of business.

Don’t miss these.  These opportunities come quickly and without notice.  If you are not watching for them, they will get away.  Keep your eyes open for spontaneous, unexpected ways to give friends, spouses, and clients more than they asked for.  The extra 2% effort will communicate trust and appreciation. 

Minor things can become moments of great revelation when encountered for the first time.  ~ Margot Fonteyn

Great Customer Service Siting: Mapco

Here in middle TN, hurricane Gustav has caused a gas shortage.  Very few stations have any gas.  The ones that do have extremely long lines, policemen directing traffic and even breaking up fights. 

So I set out a little after 7:00 am on Saturday to hunt down some gasoline.  I found a Mapco near my house that had gas, along with two long lines of cars coming from two different sides of the station.  I got in line. 

Now let me paint a picture for you…  There are twelve pumps.  Cars are lined up maybe twenty cars back in each line.  One line of cars comes from the front of the station, one from the rear entrance.  Different cars have tanks on different sides, adding to the chaos.  Even when your turn arrived, gas trickled out very slowly.  People are not quite themselves.  There is just something about 9 out of 10 gas stations being out of gas that gives you an eerie feeling.  There is also a very good chance that the station could run out of gas while you are in line or even once you start pumping your gas and you have to start the process all over.  I was prepared for the worst.

But I want you to know that Mapco had two employees out early in orange vests.  They weren’t just directing traffic, they were in charge.  They were smiling.  They were shouting updates to each other from different sides of the parking lot.  “You’ve got room from two over here!”,  I would hear.  Air traffic controllers had nothing on these two Mapco employees.  They were talking to people in the line, letting them know their turns were coming and which pump they would go to.  People weren’t fighting, or even cutting each other off in line.  They were laughing and talking about the day’s events. 

It was really an enjoyable process to watch these two Mapco employees take charge, that instead of dreading the next four or five hours until they ran out of gas, they stepped up with enthusiasm.  They set expectations and met them.  People in line knew their turns would come and that they didn’t need to push their way through to get treated fairly.  Not only was I impressed with their teamwork and attitudes, but it reminded me that even in situations where emotions are volatile and their is a tinge of fear in the air, people respond to leadership that is confident and enthusiastic.

Take Away:  In volatile or uncertain situations, take your communication skills up a notch and people will follow your lead.

Superbowl Tickets Are Cheap The Day After The Game

Hannah Montana tickets with a face value of about $50 went for hundreds, even thousands in some cases the day before the concert.  Fathers raced in high heels dressed as Hannah Montana trying to win tickets.  But the day after the concert, those tickets wouldn’t get you a cup of Starbucks.  Superbowl tickets on the 50 yard line are a lot more affordable after kick off, nearly free by the third quarter, and worthless when the game is over. 

Opportunity often only knocks once and it doesn’t always come with advance notice.  Did you know that a fussy customer is an awesome opportunity for some great advertising?  I once heard that if a kid at Disney World drops an ice cream cone, Disney team members don’t just get them a new cone, they get them a new cone stacked three scoops high!  Even if that is an exaggerated story, did you notice that I didn’t see it on a Disney commercial?  True or not…I heard it from other people

If you work with the public, you have undoubtedly dealt with the guy that wants his steak cooked “jusssst right” and sends it back three times.  Those customers usually show up when you have already had a tough day.  It crosses your mind to tell him to just go back there and do it himself if he’s so picky.  🙂  But I want to challenge you to see that moment as a fleeting opportunity to convert him into your own personal Disney story.  The more obnoxious he is, the better, because that means he enjoys telling other people what he thinks.  Go out of your way to capture the opportunity, to exceed his expectations.  After all, he is going to tell the next ten friends he sees something about his night out at your restaurant.  Why not deputize him and everyone at his table to brag on how you blew them away and seized the moment?

Take Away:  Every customer is a brief opportunity to evangelize your community.

How can something so simple be so powerful?

I had something hit me this week.  I guess I’ve known it all along, and I’m sure others have said it a thousand times; but you know how things just sometimes “click” all of a sudden?  That happened to me this week.

It was this:  You can become exactly the person you want to be by deciding how you treat others.  Maybe it’s better stated, “You WILL BECOME the way you treat other people.”  WOW.  Want to be more generous?  Start doing generous things.  Want to become impatient?  Start being short with people who don’t get it the very first time.  It really is that simple and it really is that powerful. 

The beauty of this principle is that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to use it to your benefit.  I can literally go from being a negative person to being a positive person just by saying positive things and looking for positive things in the lives of others.  I’m not talking about merely appearing more positive…I mean it will become the new me!

Unfortunately, there is no way to opt out of the power of this principle.  When someone refuses to let me over in traffic, I still get mad like everyone else; but I will get over it.  They, however, just became a little bit more like the behavior they chose.  Their impatience actually harmed them more than it harmed me.  In other words, when people choose to be rude to you, or critical, or say things that are not true about you…it really does harm them more than it does you.  

So how does that have anything to do with business or customer service?  The tie-in is that I can let the mis behavior of others roll off easier.  And I can literally become anything I want to become (wise, patient, discerning, insightful, ambitious, honest, successful, etc.) just by training myself to think that way and by treating others that way. 

“Nurture your mind with great thoughts.  To believe in the heroic makes heroes.”  ~ Benjamin Disraeli

“All truths are easy to understand once discovered.  The point is to discover them.”  ~ Galileo Galilei

The Palin Principle: what can we learn?

While this is not at all a political post, I couldn’t help but be impressed recently by McCain’s VP Sarah Palin.  As she was giving a speech, you couldn’t help but see how much people liked her.  People were smiling and laughing while she spoke…in other words, they connected with her in a real way.  Do you think that all of these new Palin fans really understand and agree with all of her politics?  Probably not.  Do I think those same people will vote for John McCain simply because they connected with his VP in a very personal way?  I’m sure of it.

How does that apply to being in business and providing great customer experiences?  The answer is that when people do not understand the in’s and out’s of the business or service you provide, they will decide whether or not to trust you based on two things. 

Oneis whether or not they like you personally.  If their brain and emotions tell them that you are someone that likes them, and that they like you back…trust occurs.  It’s that simple.  It’s so simple that it is even dangerous.  People will trust someone that knows very little about getting the job done if they like them.  Learn to like people, and people will like you back.  Remember their names, their kids’ names, that they make great fruit tea, etc.  Decide that this is too elementary and that your credentials should speak for themselves, and you’ll always come in second place.

Second is that when people do not understand the in’s and out’sof your business, they will judge you by the little things they do know.  How fast you return a phone call equals how much they should trust you.  How fast you send them that email you promised is how much they will trust you.  Decide that you are beyond having to provide lightening fast follow through on the small stuff…and you’ll start noticing your old customers are around the way they used to be.

“The person who knows how will always have a job.  The person who knows why will always be his boss.”  ~ Diane Ravitch

Why Sell Ice To Eskimos? sales negotiation

Why sell ice to Eskimos when you can sell life jackets to drowning men?                                                                  

 So why would anyone boast of being able to sell ice to an Eskimo?  The Eskimo clearly doesn’t have a need for ice.  He will certainly experience buyer’s remorse when reality sets in.  And in addition to losing his future business, you’ll probably annoy the Eskimo.

A sale, in addition to the rest of life, is a negotiation.  We may not naturally assume this or even enjoy negotiation.  If, however, you are in any form of sales this is reality.  Due largely in part to my natural awkwardness when it comes to negotiation, I have been studying this subject for years.  Selling is negotiating.

In addition to many aspects of negotiation, I have a special interest in the area of sales negotiation.  I have learned one specific concept that has so influenced my life that I just knew that I wanted to share it with you.

 Instead of the Eskimo thing, wouldn’t you rather be in the position of selling life jackets to drowning men?  Don’t feel bad; you are not the cause of their situation.  You are the solution.  They need life jackets.  Wouldn’t you agree that the worst life jacket sales person in the country could close this deal?  Price will likely not be an issue.  And the drowning man will almost certainly feel good about the purchase for years to come… 

            So Jack, you ask, what is the point?  The point is that this sales person, or negotiator, has a tremendous POSITION OF STRENGTH.  He has walk away power while the drowning man does not.  POSITION OF STRENGTH could be defined as anything that you do to increase your opportunities and alternatives to a given situation.  In your career, this may include finishing that college degree, reading everything that you can get your hands on about your area of expertise, and even getting out of debt.  These types of things make you more valuable while making the sale less urgent.  Assume your job is lost today.  You are negotiating your compensation with a potential employer.  Wouldn’t you agree that having $25K in an emergency fund and no debt would take the immediacy away and you would certainly negotiate a better deal?  And what about your current employer?  If you are constantly investing in yourself by creating relationships and becoming indispensable, would a raise or promotion not be much more comfortable to discuss?

            In sales, if you are selling the right product (life jackets) to the right group of people (drowning men), you have a powerful POSITION OF STRENGTH.  You are now in control.  If you cannot afford to walk away from the sale, you have already lost the deal.

            This principle will translate into every area of your life.  If you are always working to increase your POSITION OF STRENGTH, you will be a better negotiator.  While the other guys are looking for the overnight method to greatness, you are investing long term into something that follows you and continues to build.  Don’t worry about the Eskimos.  Be ready for the drowning men because they are on the way…will you be ready??

Good Job Taco Bell!

A cashier at Taco Bell caught me off guard this week.  I was at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville.  The Taco Bell was small and crowded with the lunch rush; but it was moving fast.  Before I could even greet “Kenya”, she had handed my six year old son his own kids size cup.  She was talking to him right away and patiently letting him give his own order.  After we all ordered, she asked him directly “How about some cinnamon crisps?”  I must say I was at least a little curious, that she just let my son add a buck to our order; but I was enjoying it and just went with it. 

Once we sat down, I looked at the receipt.  No charge for the kids drink or the cinnamon crisps…wow.  I was impressed!  Sure it was only a 79 cent gift; but it was a big deal to me.  She had gone out of her way to greet us and to make a hospital lunch time fun.  I have a rule that I never let a business out give me.  Seriously, they may’ve made a small gesture; but it was given so cheerfully and it meant a lot at that particular time.  So not only do I brag online about Kenya’s generosity; but I also enjoy shooting the corporate site a quick email to brag on how Kenya is such an asset to Taco Bell and how I will tell all of my friends and go out of my way to eat there more often to make sure their investment in us was a good one.  Good job!

Missed It By That Much!

Staying positive is a big deal to me.  So I try to catch people doing things right when it comes to customer service instead of looking for people doing things wrong.  The exception is when we can learn from a less than great customer service experience in order to win next time. 

Just last week, I was considering hiring a broker to help me purchase a vehicle.  He was out of state, so we had to interview each other by phone.  It should be mentioned that at no fault of his own, he was already at a disadvantage since most decisions are made based on non verbal communication.  So you might say I was paying extra attention to his expressions, responses, etc.  The purchase was a big deal to me, so I wanted to hire someone who understood that.  But as much as I needed his help, I chose not to hire him.  He lacked enthusiasm.  He just wasn’t interested enough.  And then there was one or two sort of sarcastic tones when I explained what I was looking for.  I think it shocked him when he didn’t get the sale.  He obviously knew his business well.  Yet, I’ve had so many great customer experiences lately that I just chose not to settle for any less.  Why work with someone who doesn’t value customer experience as much as I do right? 

Back to being positive…it was a good reminder to me that being an average sales person is never going to get great results.  The only way to rise to the level of the elite, the really wealthy, and the sought after is to always have your A game ready.  Sometimes it’s the slightest difference in how you perform that determines coming in first place or second…and in sales, second place is last place. 

Catch Somone Doing Right And Have A Great Weekend

Never tell a person that anything cannot be done.  God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing.  — John Andrew Holmes

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