The Customer is Not Always Right

The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. - Benjamin Franklin

Customers can be jerks who don’t deserve your service at all. I recently found myself in the Denver airport waiting for a flight back to Orlando. At the last minute, they announced a gate change followed by the dreaded announcement that the flight had been canceled. We were instructed to go across the terminal to American Airlines Gate 26 where we were told some of us would get a seat.

Being pretty quick on my feet, I was the first one from our flight to make it over there, only to find that 50 American passengers were already in front of me. I took my place in line and prepared to wait. A few minutes later the rest of the passengers from my original flight showed up and groaned at the sizable line. One man had no intention of being put out. He was a large man wearing a white suit with matching hat and carrying a large leather bag. He marched right to the front of the line waving his ticket in his hand.

Generating Creative Solutions

Everything new is really just an addition to or modification of something that already exists. - Michael Michalko

Once the problem is actually defined and constraints have been examined, the next key is to gather your team and generate as many different solutions as possible. The more solutions you can generate, the greater your chance of finding the right one, the one that not only solves the problem, but perhaps even goes beyond it to create new opportunities. Before embarking your team on a no-holds-barred brainstorming session, a few simple rules should be followed to make such meetings of the minds effective.

Effective Brainstorming

Brainstorming is done a number of ways. However, too many sessions degenerate into simple discussions or “bull sessions.” Hold the session in an esthetically appealing place to stimulate creativity. Avoid distractions and interruptions.

Want Massive Growth? Then Train Your People How To Sell!

"A minute’s success pays the failure of years." - Robert Browning

Recently I had a call from a major resort asking what one idea I could give them to instantly improve revenue. The answer was easy and would have been the same had the caller wanted to sell more cars, computers, furniture, suits, consulting, or widgets: Train your people how to sell!

Nowhere in this entire blog will you get faster results in terms of pure income than in this and the following section on how to sell. Few people in business genuinely “love” selling. Fewer still are good at it. In many ways, it’s not surprising that most people don’t like to sell. Selling not only has a bad image in many people’s minds, it often deserves it. Telemarketing calls at dinner time, pushy salespeople who won’t take no for an answer, and products and services that don’t live up to their sales claims. These have all contributed to the bad image that sales has today.

In defense of sales, almost everyone sells in their everyday lives. Teachers need to sell students on the benefits of paying attention. Spouses sell their ideas to each other. Children sell their parents on staying up for that special TV show, and so on. Practice with sales will make it more comfortable if you have the right attitude.

Increasing your sales skills by even a few increments can dramatically increase your profits. Imagine if you closed two out of ten leads instead of one—you have just doubled sales at NO cost. Even small improvements in how you answer the phone, handle objections, and close can have massive impacts on your bottom line. Yet few businesses engage in the meaningful and ongoing sales training needed for entrepreneurial success.

A good sales training system must cover the following areas:

• how to get mentally ready to sell

• how to develop instant rapport

• how to qualify prospects

• how to give quality presentations

• how to handle objections

• how to close

• how to follow up

Having a documented sales training system for your business will be the best investment you ever make.

For more great sales, marketing and business growth advice read or listen to

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Up-size Slowly—Downsize Fast

"Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide." - Napoleon Bonaparte

The biggest mistakes I have made in business have not been growing too fast—up-sizing—although I have done that plenty of times. In no case was the growth decision fatal. The real opportunity to make a BIG mistake is in not downsizing fast enough when things start to go bad.

There are a great many factors in business and in life that will always be beyond your control: commodity prices, competition, production problems, terrorism, natural disasters, sickness, accidents, or the economy in general. But whatever causes the slowdown doesn’t matter. What matters is that you move fast to compensate for the loss of sales and income.

Measuring the Intangible for Tangible Results

"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." - George Burns

There are lots of concrete things business owners can do to measure the performance of their businesses. You can measure profit and loss, the number of clients you have, your market share, or the number of widgets that you can produce in a day.

These are all important measures that can be seen in black-and white reports, but there are other less tangible items that should be also be measured.

Most business owners have a feel for how some of the more intangible factors are helping or hindering their performance. The problem is that a feeling is not an accurate enough measure of important factors like:

  • brand/name awareness in the community
  • customer satisfaction
  • employee morale
  • systemization of your business
  • cutting edge ideas

Seven Resolutions for Superior Business Performance

"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him." - David Brinkley

Adopt these seven resolutions and watch your business grow and thrive.

Resolution Number One. Spend the first hour of each day on marketing. Send emails, write letters, make phone calls—do something that has a chance to generate business! I would credit this one factor above all others in business success. If you just get in front of the right people every day, you have a chance to make a sale! Too many business owners are so busy being busy that they never have time to market! How much time do you spend on marketing per week—really spend?

Resolution Number Two. Spend at least three hours a week (more would be much better) working on your business, NOT in it! That means taking the time to write procedure manuals, business plans, and the other cornerstones of duplication and long-term success. Few people enjoy this, but it is a very important factor if you are ever going to maximize the potential of your business. The more systematized your business becomes, the easier it is to run and the more time you can spend making money or playing golf instead of putting out fires.

Resolution Number Three. Outsource everything you can that is not critical to your core success. That means bookkeeping, cleaning, mailings, and so on. The more time you spend selling and marketing your business, the more money you will make. Look at Nike, a giant of a business success. They outsource everything, they make nothing. Instead, they focus on sales and marketing. There is a powerful lesson to be learned from this!