I was looking through old email and stumbled upon a June 2007 issue of Coaching Compass, a newsletter put out by the Coach Training Alliance. The compelling title was “Attracting the Success You Deserve.”
Who doesn’t want that?
The key is to add value to every relationship, whether personally or in business.
The analogy about how a honeybee sets the perfect example really brings the point home:
“They go from flower to flower collecting raw materials to produce their product. Essentially they are in the honey making business. Their career is working to support themselves and the rest of their family in the hive. But they also create a by-product. They add value to the rest of the world by pollinating. . .When you’re looking to promote yourself or to create a good buzz for your business, remember the bees. Add value to your world. Your reward will be choice.”
If you seek opportunities to add value to your clients (and systematize the process so that it’s easy and effortless and consistent), they will naturally be attracted to you again and again. More than that, they will spread the gospel of how great you are.
Why? Well, even though the concept or idea isn’t new, the actual experience of receiving “added value” (that is, value beyond what is expected) is rare.
I’m reminded of Seth Godin quoting NAR’s statistic that “91% of all Realtors never contact the buyer or the seller of a home after the closing.” Remarks Seth, “Someone just spent a million dollars with you and you don’t bother to call or write?”
That oughtta get the creative wheels a-churnin’.
Can you imagine the potential for increased opportunities to serve your clients by just following up with them regularly after they purchase from you?
Can you see how just this simple action will make you stand out as one of the rare ones who really cares?
What other ways can you pollinate your world? How can you add value to your clients, prospects, potential customers?
Can you think of ways to add value also to your referral partners?
Overwhelmed? Too many irons in the fire?
Taking one step forward and two steps back?
Feel the weight of the world on your shoulders because you have to do everything yourself?
I think someone (or, many someones) is trying to tell us something.
Dr. Dov Baron, a leader in the personal development arena who has held a private practice for over 20 years, has only in the last several years begun assembling a strategic team of individuals who are aligned with his mission and purpose. Asked what he would do differently in his business, he remarked that he would have built a team sooner.
Small business coach, Michael Port, is oft heard commenting that nothing great is accomplished alone.
My coach trainer and mentor, Terri Levine (the Guru of Coaching) has created multiple companies, systems, programs, best selling books, and more all with the support of a super-talented team committed to her (and their) success.
On the surface, real estate tycoon Donald Trump appears singularly self-reliant. Yet, according to Michael Sexton (President of Trump University), “he could never have reached the pinnacle of success without the support of a great team.”
Gary Keller in The Millionaire Real Estate Agent says that “hiring talent is the key to gaining leverage in your business life.” In fact, he advises that in most cases, a real estate agent should hire administrative help even before the full development of business systems and tools.
What do you think?
What could you accomplish if you added just one more team member right now?
When would you say is the best time to start getting help in your business?
Are you a good listener?
Most of us think we are.
Dr. Scott Williams of the College of Business at Wright State University, agrees. In an article he wrote on the subject, he refers to the study W.V. Haney reports on in his book Communication and Interpersonal Relations that surveyed more than 8,000 employees from various and diverse occupations.
Nearly everyone said “they communicate as effectively or more effectively than their co-workers.”
Well, that’s interesting, because the book Business Communication: Strategies and Skills declares that the average person listens at only 25% efficiency.
Since you can’t have communication without listening, clearly there is a discrepancy between what most people believe about their ability to listen and what the stark reality is.
That’s why I had to laugh when I read this quote: “Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses”!
It also goes to show, if you REALLY are a good listener, you will absolutely stand out in the crowded world of business, sales, and marketing.
Don’t you think it’s worth it to assume you are probably among the average, and to specifically seek ways to improve your listening ability?
People will remember you for it. Sadly, people will remember you for being a terrible listener, too — especially if you’re the only one oblivious to the fact.
What a disservice to both you and them if you are inadvertently repelling those who otherwise would buy what you offer!
Here’s a challenge for you for this week:
Pay attention to how you listen in your conversations. Are you hearing the words and the feelings behind the words of the speaker?
Or, are you running your own script in your head about the weather, what you are going to do today, or thinking about what you are going to say next when the other person is finished speaking?
Just listen and observe.
You might even decide to write down your observations. If you choose to accept the challenge, share your observations here in the comments.
How does it feel to be present and to consciously listen?
How does the other person respond?
What emerges as you listen more intently and purposefully this week?
Lisa Nichols remarked once that she used to let men treat her poorly. She lacked a powerful sense of Self and feared rejection, should she speak up for herself and her own needs.
She perceived herself as open and giving and wondered why she so often found herself taken advantage of.
Her troubles began melting away when she began to set boundaries. Lisa describes the shift in her thinking:
“I’m supposed to show up understanding my greatness and allow you to celebrate it with me…I’m the example; I’m the first example how the world’s supposed to love me, and I have to give them the best example ever.”
I see solopreneurs, healers and bodyworkers, and sales professionals of all stripes make this same mistake.
They think it’s a badge of honor to essentially be open 24/7, available at any hour of the day to help and support their clients. Sometimes they tout this as a competitive advantage, something that separates them from their competitors.
I was talking with one real estate agent who said that it was when she started working as an employee for someone else and only working part-time (primarily by referral) that her clients began to respect her and her time.
She now had clearly-established boundaries that she communicated. She could say with confidence that she was only available certain hours of the day when she wasn’t working or sleeping. Clients honored that.
When she worked full-time as an agent, she reported that she was at her clients’ beck and call, every single day and every single hour of the day.
In her words, “People would actually get mad if I didn’t call them back right away; they’d get offended. They’re like ‘I called you like two hours ago,’ and I’m like, I can’t believe this. I just talked to them at midnight!”
I almost laughed it was so ridiculous when the agent said, “And If I do want a vacation and will be gone like 4 days or a week, they’re like ‘What about my house?! You can’t leave! What about this? What about that?’ ”
The change that appeared to come over her clients when she got a full-time job in addition to her real estate business in actuality didn’t have anything to do with the clients.
It all had to do with the agent’s change in posture and self-esteem.
When she didn’t have a boss to answer to, she felt that there was somehow some truth in her clients’ expectation that she should be available all hours of the day (and night!).
She felt guilty, that she was somehow making excuses for not being available.
Fear also fueled this behavior. “Clients are not a dime a dozen”, said this agent, “and so it’s hard to tell people ‘No’ even when you know you need to do that.”
According to this agent, however, when you’re part-time and the clients come to you by referral, you don’t have to jump though hoops just to keep a client. “They are so much more respectful because they feel they know you’re good. They’re not trying to find out IF you’re good.”
The clients-by-referral advantage is a valid point, but the validity is true whether an agent is a part-time or full-time agent.
The moral of the story is: Know that if you do not honor your time, neither will anyone else. Make it your mission to be ‘the first example how the world’s suppose to love you.’
What insights or thoughts does this bring up for you?
Do you agree?
Could there be instances when being available 24/7 is a strategic or tactical advantage for the solopreneur?
To most people I talk to, it’s a bit of a pill to swallow the whole idea of speaking to a prospects “pain.”
It just doesn’t feel right, to be pointing out what’s wrong.
Isn’t that negative?
Well, that certainly is one view.
Yet, very few of us go to the doctor because we’re feeling extraordinarily healthy!
Imagine. You’re sitting on the examining table explaining your symptoms to the physician.
You tell him you’ve had a screaming sore throat for 5 days, you have chills and painful swollen glands, and your sinuses aren’t draining.
You hurt all over, and all you want to do is sleep.
But, all the gentle doctor wants to talk about is how shiny your hair is and what great oral hygiene you have.
Or, worse, he keeps talking all about the latest-and-greatest gadgetry in the office or all about the state-of-the-art examining table you’re sitting on, how comfortable and modern-looking (and expensive!) it is.
If this went on for very long, how long would you sit there on the table? You’d probably wonder whether the doctor was even listening to you, or whether he was even competent enough to help you get well.
Who really cares about your state-of-the-art office? Who cares about my shiny hair and great teeth when I’m in PAIN? I can’t breathe and my nose is stuffed up forgodsakes!
The deal is, as the solopreneur, sales professional, service provider or business person, you are naturally solution-oriented.
This is a good thing.
However, your prospective clients are absorbed — at least for the moment — in their problem.
Sure, they want it solved.
But, first they have to actually hear that you “get” them. Only then, can they be receptive to your solution-message.
Empathy is the biggest key to marketing. When we show empathy, the prospect says “Wow! This person DOES understand where I’m coming from.” Articulating the challenges of our prospects isn’t “negative.” It shows we care about them enough to learn deeply about what concerns them.
The interesting (and valuable) thing about articulating the “pain” so well is that there is an automatic trust that is built up at the same time. The natural assumption, then, is you also likely know how to help them find relief.
The copywriter Robert Collier advises “Enter the conversation that’s already in their head. Don’t try to create a new conversation.”
What additional tips would you suggest to support us really getting into the world of our prospects and clients?
For millennia, marketing specialists have tried to impress upon us the importance of specialization. They tell us to find a target market and market solely to them, to their specific needs and desires.
What makes you different?
Why should I choose you to represent my interests over another?
What’s your specialty?
Despite this advice, many people in business continue to resist because their product and service can help anyone and everyone.
How many real estate agents (for example), have you encountered that — when asked — say that their target market or ideal client is anyone who is buying or selling a home.
Unless you already have an unlimited bankroll, marketing to anyone and everyone is quite an expensive undertaking which ultimately amounts to severely diluting your efforts.
Seth Godin calls it The long slide to gone.
And, what you offer the world in your own unique way is too valuable and needed to be on that long slide to gone.
If Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, I think he’d be a “Spiritual Entrepreneur,” like us.
A spiritual entrepreneur knows that “selling” IS “serving,” and is naturally charismatic and attractive and humble. She or he proactively effects change, and people respond profoundly to that energetic movement.
The life of Dr. King demonstrated all of these characteristics, illustrating what is possible and desireable in terms of a genuine commitment to social justice and to service.
I think what contributed to his tremendous influence in America (and in the world) was his bold, expansive commitment to progressive change — not just in people’s behavior but also in changing people’s mindset and belief systems.
His work and ministry in the tradition of Ghandi was truly transformative.
On Monday, we commemorate Martin Luther King and his legacy on this great National Day of Service (He was actually born on January 15). Though Congress declared it a National Day of Service in 1994, I have to say (embarrassingly) that I had no idea until just last year when Michelle and then President-Elect Barack Obama breathed new life into it again.
This year, Obama declared that Dr. King’s work remains unfinished.
However, the work of being of service is not Dr. King’s work. It’s OUR work.
In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a sermon called “The Drum major Instinct.” He described how all of us want to be important. We want to be recognized as great at who we are and what we do.
What stops people stepping out and demonstrating their greatness is they start comparing themselves to other people. They think they are just Plain Jane and that “being great” requires some special skill or talent.
In that now-famous sermon, Dr. King stated:
“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s ‘Theory of Relativity’ to serve. You don’t have to know the Second Theory of Thermal Dynamics in Physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love, and you can be that servant.”
We have the opportunity to be bold, to be expansive, and to be committed to serving others — not just today, but incorporating this moral imperative in our daily lives…..seeking opportunities to serve in our families, in our neighborhoods and our communities, in our nation and our world.
How does “Service” show up in your business? In your life?
In what ways and in what areas will you stand up and step out as expansive and BOLD?
My landlord and I were both having a glass of wine on my back deck a couple of summers ago. It was a BEAUTIFUL, sunny day in Portland and he (my landlord, who is fair-skinned) was having challenges keeping the sun out of his eyes because the deck umbrella had a mind of its own. It went where IT wanted to go, regardless of our best efforts.
I, for my part, am a Sun Worshiper, so I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the sun’s rays….especially given the LONG winter we’d previously had here in the Pacific Northwest.
We were talking about taxes and how my parter and I were surprised, having recently moved to Portland, that income tax is assessed on ALL income, no matter where in the world it is earned. For example, both my partner and I have employment outside the State of Oregon but because we live here, we must pay taxes on all of our income.
This was not a small surprise, thankyouverymuch (even though I suppose we should have known better!)
The conversation led to my landlord (his name is Michael) relating to me a story that reveals how short-sighted entrepreneurs can be, rather than looking at the lifetime value of a client.
He was looking for an accountant. My next-door neighbor recommended one in Lake Oswego, an affluent suburb of Portland.
Michael secured an initial appointment with the accountant, who, for an hour-and-a-half counseled him about how high the taxes were in Portland and that the first thing Michael needed to do was move himself and his business out of the City of Portland.
It was a lot to digest, so after the consultation he went home.
Several days later, Michael received a bill in the mail for $250. Shocked, he called the accountant’s office to ask why he’d been charged for a free consultation. There must be some mistake.
“Only the first 1/2 hour is free. After 30 minutes have elapsed, you are billed at our regular rate.”
“What? Why wasn’t I informed? Besides, it was you who kept me that long in the office.”
Round and round they went, and — completely disgusted and fed up — my landlord eventually sent them the $250.
What an unfortunate experience. Caught up with demanding this one-time $250, it obviously didn’t cross the accountant’s mind to calculate the lifetime value of this client. Besides, didn’t he realize this was a referral? Landing him as a client was practically in the bag!
I’m not saying that a professional should give away their expertise. In fact, some folks are of the opinion that you should never (or very rarely, at most) give free consultations.
But, clearly mistake #1 was lack of clarity about what was free and what carried a fee. Have you similarly run into problems because you were wishy-washy, unclear, or didn’t even know your own policies with regard to fee versus free?
Even if in this instance it had been Michael who had been mistaken, this accountant lost a potential client-for-life (including any referrals my landlord might’ve sent him) by failing to look at the larger picture. By making Michael wrong and subsequently losing his business, the accountant made mistake #2.
Not only will my landlord think twice about listening to my neighbor in terms of who she refers, but she herself will probably be reluctant to send referrals to this accountant again.
Oops. Mistake #3: tarnishing the reputation of the source of the referral.
Had Michael actually told me the name of this accountant (as most people who have bad experiences with service providers usually do), even more damage would have resulted from his short-sighted Ego-driven behavior.
As it happened, Michael merely cautioned: “Don’t do your taxes with anyone in Lake Oswego!”
Where in your business have you inadvertently made similar short-sighted mistakes?
When you choose to be concerned about the dollars and not the pennies, you’ll naturally seek to honor and add value to your referral partners, to your clients, and to your potential clients.
Selling services is very different than selling products.
A product can be seen, touched, sampled, given a test-drive. The features are tangible.
But, how do you see, touch or sample financial planning, business coaching, acupuncture?
That is why it is so important for service providers to resist talking about their service in terms of their technical skill and their system or process, and instead focus their marketing and selling on how their service solves very specific problems clients are looking for.
If you are in the same industry as someone else (and likely there are many people who do the same thing you do, at least in name or title), the point of differentiation is you.
You might say “your product” as a service provider is you, not the service you provide.
There are many ways to market yourself as product so that people get to know you, like you, and trust you. If you’re like me, you are very involved in the social media arena. The platforms I use most regularly are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Though incredibly valuable, online networking is a complement — not a substitute — for in-person connections. Both are important — essential, even — so that your potential clients “get” you.
If we aren’t conscious, we might easily find ourselves stuck behind the computer at the expense of face-to-face interacting with our communities.
Mortgage lender Brett Reichel notes in an article wrote last year, ”Old School” or “New School” (no longer online):
We have to be careful not to get trapped in just another version of call reluctance. Even though its necassary to embrace Facebook, a Blog, Twitter, and all the other stuff we do to attract attention in the modern world, it’s necassary to realize that sitting in the office on the computer is not the only thing we should rely on. We have to get belly to belly…..We’ve got to see the people….we have to go out and talk to (gasp…) people. People who might choose to buy our product or service.
Yes, the fastest route to trust is to meet face-to-face, especially if the service you provide is a brick-and-mortar-type business.
When people meet you in person, shake your hand, have a glass of wine or coffee or tea with you, and laugh with you, that’s when what seems amorphous and intangible becomes tangible.
Don’t rob your ideal clients and strategic partners of experiencing your energy and personality by hiding behind your computer.
Instead, get out there and let them see, touch, test-drive how amazing it would be to work with you.
One of the first things my clients and I work on together is getting crystal clear on what they want. This is surprisingly difficult for many of us because we don’t have much practice in it, despite there being no lack of seminars, books, trainings, and workshops on goal setting and making sure they are S.M.A.R.T.
Yet, clarifying your direction is SUPER important, and here’s why:
Suppose you need glasses to see well, but you decide you’re not going to wear them. They’re too ugly or too much of a hassle or some reason you have for not wearing them.
So, you get in the car and start driving down the road. You kinda know where you’re going, but the problem is, you can’t really make out the street signs.
Do you suppose you have just increased the likelihood of getting lost?
People do this all the time.
They think they don’t need absolute clarity. They think they don’t have time to sit down and map it out or that it’s going to be a hassle or something. So, they vaguely set out without the proper “proverbial eye glasses prescription” and then lament where they end up.
Moral of the story?
Put your glasses on. Clarify your direction. Know where you’re going.
What? You already know that?
Dr. Robert Anthony has an answer for you (and me, too!): “Your life will not change because you know what to do. It will change when you do what you know.”