Apr 132010

This is the third post in a series of six articles

Why you will be the next person your customer seeks to solve their problem

You may think that making more sales in your business is too challenging, but if you try, actually your prospective customers will thank you for offering the solution they’ve been seeking. And if you just introduce yourself with their needs in mind, then you’re well on your way and you’ll get better sales results.

Find Things in Common

First, you find something in common, making sure that you’ve made a connection. Often I hear people use closed ended questions in the beginning of the conversation. You know, the yes-no type. This is a generally big mistake. Remember the poem from Rudyard Kipling? I KEEP six honest serving men who to taught me all I knew. Their names are What and Why and When, And How and Where and Who. Then you begin to discover your customer’s situation, with some context to build from. Save the yes-no questions for decision time, a very short interval at the end of your conversation.

Have You Tried Paraphrasing?

I’ve used paraphrasing in conversations, where I listen intently to the customer, re-phrase what they are saying with words that will reveal buried meanings and feelings submerged under their statement. This approach works great, and should be studied carefully. These concealed meanings and feelings need to be clear.

Here’s an example . . . when I’m discussing the ImHonest.com product that helps people recover lost valuable gadgets, I sometimes hear a prospective customer say that they never lose anything. Many times I can spur the conversation along a direction pleasing to my goal, by first, acknowledging what I just heard. Yes its admirable that you are careful with your belongings. Can I ask you this, “How do you manage to not lose valuable items.” “I tell you, it’s a habit that I learned from my mother. I just wish that my teenage kids would be better at keeping track of their iPods and cell phones. They rely on me too much.” Here’s the paraphrase that the superstar sales person might use: “It seems to me that if you could help them to recover their lost items, that it would relieve you of a certain burden of replacing it. Am I right?” You’re seeking a deeper level of understanding. The person I credit with learning this approach is Lee Boyan, writer of Successful Cold Call Selling. With their answer of Yes, now I have it going a way that helps both of us. This is just one example of the kind of seeds you want to plant that take root in the form of impressions and memories of events or attachments. Commit to learning it and give it a try.

Get Agreement on the Minor Things, then the Major Things Take Care of Themselves

Make sure you have agreement, and that you’ve empathized properly with their situation. The conversation is lively at this point, because you’re talking about what’s important to them. Next, summarize the benefits and ask more confirmation questions. Here’s a way I do this with the customer, “Yeah, so you’ve told me that it’d be a lot easier to receive a notice later in the same day from ImHonest that someone found your son’s missing iPod and it’ll be shipped to your home via UPS in three days.” These are mini yeses, which seek agreement. It’s kind of like testing the temperature of the water in the hot tub with your foot before sinking your whole body. If you have a complex product or service, it’s a good idea to seek several confirmations on different aspects of your solution. You know, follow up appointment, payment method, delivery date, implementation plan. When you take the time to learn this approach and execute it, you’ll notice that reaching the final agreement, when they say YES to your offer, will be a natural and pleasant conversation rather than a contrived, ill timed, awkward presentation.

It’s time to take off the chill and embrace the thrill of selling. Let me know how you find this working for you.

Dec 032009

Tiger shanked one into the woods the other day when he rammed his Cadillac into a tree. He has more repair work than his SUV. His health is OK. That’s good. It’s no big deal, right? Wrong. The speculation about conditions preceding the event has been a firestorm in public conversations. Some rumors I’ve heard are his wife chasing him with a nine iron, breaking glass in his escape vehicle, him driving barefoot, and the extramarital affairs with other women, Rachel Uchitel and Jamiee Grubbs. The interesting part for me is it comes down to character and how he responds to the present situation. Is he being honest?

This crash was a very minor mistake, considering his injuries weren’t severe. The Florida Highway Patrol gave him a careless driving charge, a $164 fine, and four points on his driving record. He’ll pay for a broken fire hydrant too. That penalty causes Tiger less damage than a bogey on a hole in one of his golf tournaments.

If this event happened to an ordinary citizen, small harm, no foul. But this didn’t happen to an ordinary citizen. It happened to Tiger Woods. The same guy that agreed to “I am Tiger” commercials on television, portraying him as a saint, and letting him collect millions upon millions of consumer dollars in endorsements from firms like Accenture, AT&T, EA Sports, Gatorade, Gillette, Nike, TAG Heuer, Dubailand, TLC Laser Eye Centers, Upper Deck, and the PGA Tour. EA Sports already said they’d stand by Tiger. Will someone stand up for disclosure and honesty?

Remember what McDonalds did when all-time Olympic gold medal winner, Michael Phelps was pictured in a compromising position? He owned his actions and we were part of it. Phelps’ mistake was in the kiddy pool, whereas Tiger’s is in the deep end. These companies would do well to make announcements on their position with their Tiger Woods sponsor agreements.

In Tiger’s case, Honesty will get him out of this mess. I believe the media is justified in asking “what happened?” In response, Tiger chooses to stonewall everybody. If he just answered the question to his fans, then it would have a chance to pass and we could get on with building for the future. Remember what David Letterman did shortly following his recent expose. Tiger should look to Mr. Letterman for clues on how to handle it.

In my conversations with family members this week, we discussed different aspects of Tiger Woods’ recent calamity. For me the issue is Honesty. I said that Tiger owes his public fan base an explanation. One of my sons agrees with me, the other said that Tiger’s family business is private if he wants it to be. Why am I making it an issue of Tiger being honest with his public fan base? He’s earned his sports hero status, but his fame and wealth came from us. This event doesn’t change his sports legend, but it does call into question for his sponsors and all of us, why do we hold him up as a model to aspire when the honesty is gone?

Sep 132009
The Power of Honesty returns my lost windows mobile device on BART

The Power of Honesty returns my lost windows mobile device on BART

Have you ever set your cell phone down on the chair next to you when you were in a subway or taxi?

At the moment you do it, I know what you’re thinking. You tell yourself, “I’ll pick that up as soon as I finish this other thing.” Then later, you get off the chair, depart from the scene, and leave your device behind too.   Have you done it with a set of keys?  Maybe you never do it, but you probably know someone that does it again and again out of habit.  Maybe it’s your child.

You’re familiar with the emotions of panic and distresses hurtling inside as you try to remember “where did I leave that item?”  If this is a common occurrence for you or your loved ones, consider consulting Professor Solomon for tips on How to Find Lost Objects.

I left my smart phone device on a BART subway train a while back.  As I emerged from the station, it dawned on me that I left it on the seat of the railway car.  Separated from my digital friend, I started to panic for a moment, and then optimism took hold of me. I asked myself, “Will I need to file a claim at the BART lost and found?”  I turned around to ask the station attendant if someone turned it in. Mind you at this point, I did not expect someone would turn it in, because I didn’t want to be let down if someone actually hadn’t dropped it off at lost and found. 

To my pleasant surprise, the station agents in the booth knew exactly what to do. Evidently, they get this request dozens of times daily.  One made an announcement page to all the stations on the system and the other called my cell phone from his cell phone.  In less than 30 seconds they had it located at the Mission and 24th station.  

This time, I was saved by St. Anthony, the BART station attendants and a complete stranger who was honest.  Whew!  I began to think, “Hey this honesty thing is great.  How can I make it more likely to happen for me next time?”

Partially because of this experience and when I found ImHONEST.com, it made sense instantly for me to add this identification and recovery service to my valuable items and I’d improve the chances dramatically that I’d be able to retrieve lost items.  Please feel free to share your stories of great relief retrieving a valuable item out of the honesty of a stranger.