Category Archives: Value
When you are a teenager, working for the first time, it is truly all about the money. Finally, you have some independence from your parents, and can start to buy things for yourself! As you make a little more money and get different jobs through high school, earning money gets even more exciting. The thought of providing any value to others as a teenager does not even register for most. I was part of that group. Then there was a real shift for me when I was 19 years old, thanks to my dad.
I was making $5.25 per hour working at a buffet restaurant in the summer of 1992. I was working a lot because I was off from university for a few months, and the “money was rolling in” (or so I thought). My dad was teaching an adult education class in the evenings, and connected with a man who needed some math upgrading. He was involved in an accident, and had to pursue a new career due to his injuries. The kicker was he needed his high school diploma to qualify for most jobs.
My dad could not commit to doing all the tutoring himself, so he asked if I would help at a rate of $30 per hour.
“$30 PER HOUR?” I said.
“You bet”, said my dad back.
“WHEN DO I START?” I hastily replied.
I was excited because I was going to make more money working with him in two hours a day, then I would make in eight hours per day at the restaurant!
As I started to work with the man, it soon became very clear that it would not be as easy as I thought. Just because I understood math very well, did not mean that my knowledge was going to “rub off on him” as quickly. There were some difficult days at the beginning of the process, but by the end, we were working well together. We gained a mutual respect for each other as time passed. I often caught myself thinking that this guy must have thought that I was a “know-it-all young punk”, but realistically that was not the case. He was in a jam, and I was there to help.
This was a life changing experience for a 19-year-old kid, to realize the value that I provided was much more important than the money I was receiving. It did take a while to get to that place, because all I could think about was the $60 that I made each time I saw him!
In retrospect I would have done it for free, because I changed a life. As I look back now, that is what I remember the most. The memory of the money is only for story telling purposes. I helped him get back on his feet when something terrible had happened. As a 19 years old kid, $30 per hour to me then was like $200 per hour today!
In the end, my “compensation” was that he got to start over again, and I played a small part in that.
You are not going to get paid for everything that you do in your life, that is a fact. When you realize that helping others, providing value and not always expecting something in return is a great way to live your life, it will be a real game changer. It was for me!
- When have you provided value for someone, and not even realized it at the time?
- Do you have the mindset of “what is in it for me?” before deciding if you should help somebody?
- Is it time to start giving unconditionally?
- It’s time-consuming
- It can start a series of telephone tag or long email correspondence
- It may dig up potential issues that you don’t want to deal with; feels like you are becoming a complaint handling department
- Don’t want to bother people
- Don’t know the right amount of time to wait if you need an answer
- Would rather focus your efforts on getting more business if in a sales role, or fulfilling other more enjoyable business activities in general
TOUGH LOVE MOMENT – Suck it up!
Imagine if all of your competitors thought this way! You should be embracing follow-up and becoming your customer (or prospect’s) go to person!
Customers will respect you because your relationship with them is not complete after the purchase order number is given. They have put their hand up and said “treat me special“. Don’t take your current customers for granted and follow-up regularly.
- If you have quoted a prospect, be sure to follow-up. Don’t expect that they will magically call you and give their decision either way. It may only take a brief clarification to secure the business
- If you are following up to check on a previous issue, it may help prevent future issues
- If it is follow-up after a sale, it may take care of minor issues before they escalate in to bigger ones
One of my biggest pet peeves is when a project stalls with somebody in the organization, due to the fact that others have not responded to them. That is always unacceptable. If you need to follow-up frequently via email, phone, or in person, get the answers that you need to move things forward. Never use others as scape goats for things being held up by you.
Successful sales and business people do things that they do not like to do every day to continue to grow and achieve a cut above the rest.
If you are not ready to “get your hands dirty” the time to change is now. If you are already a master of the “circle of follow-up“, congratulations!
As I attempted to write this post over several days, I struggled to make it interesting. On the surface, “how well do you know your customers” can be dismissed as a generic topic that does not peak people’s curiosity.
“Of course I know my customers Tim. What are you talking about?”
I can hear you making silly comments to your computer screen now!
In all seriousness, what I am about to say will have tremendous value for you long-term with your current customers and prospects. Be honest with yourselves. How well do you really know your customers?
I went on joint calls with one of my Sales Manager quite often. After one particular call (visiting Bob and John), he asked me what I learned about the two associates. I drew a blank for a minute and said that I did not know. His reply,
“Bob loves to golf, and has twin daughters who are 12 years old. The family likes going to Mexico every winter”.
“John is single, enjoys playing recreational sports, and has two dogs”
I asked him why knowing this would matter. He responded by saying that now that I knew some information about each of their personal lives, it would be easier to keep discussions going in the future. Speaking to them about business was always the primary goal, but when it was time to have casual conversations, personal topics would really get them engaged. One word answers like “yes”, “no” & “inaudible mumbles” would not be an issue then.
They might like to talk about their kids, their golf game, current sports stories, upcoming holidays, or hobbies. I always stayed away from touchy subjects like religion and politics. It was not worth the hassle if a nerve was struck with someone. Previously I would often go in to calls and talk about the weather, or something that was in the news. But it was not personal to them.
How awesome would it be for you to look into a customer’s eyes and remember any of the above details (even what they take in their coffee), by only asking once? Better yet, how awesome would it be for them to know that you cared enough to remember?
The key to keeping details straight (and not confusing Bob and John) is to record them as soon as possible. Take a few minutes after a call, sit in your car and write things down. Test yourself – can you remember three things you learned about your account today? And don’t expect that you’ll remember all of this at the end of the day. A few minutes early on will pay off in the long run.
You can also dig deeper, in terms of the “rules of communication” with the account contacts:
- Do they want you to make an appointment first, or is it ok to just drop in unannounced?Do they like to be contacted by email, text, cell phone or land line?
- Is there a best time of day to drop by if just stopping in?
- How often do they want to be visited?
The earlier you make notes on each account, the sooner you will understand the level of engagement they want. You may want to engage them face to face more than they want to be engaged, so you have to find that balance and not be a nuisance.
Oh yeah, work your butt off to remember their names as soon as possible. That is a must! Statistics prove that people respond better to what you are saying when their names are used during conversations. I had documents that I would refer to before going in to each call.
I don’t care how you record this information, as long as you do it. It could be through CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, task lists on email programs, iPhones, Blackberries etc. Heck, good old-fashioned notebooks still worked last time I checked! But it is imperative that you have separate files for each account to avoid confusion and disorganization.
Showing interest in customer’s personal lives, and remembering minor details that nobody else takes the time to, will strengthen relationships more often than not. The primary goal in sales is to obviously sell stuff; but the ones who show genuine interest in their customers and CARE will win in the long run.