Show me the honey

Experiences in the service industry are hit and miss. You may have a great experience at a store or restaurant one day and the next time you visit, it could be a bad experience. The last time I ate out, the waitress had a chip on her shoulder the minute she arrived at our table. She was rude and argumentative. We obviously caught her on a bad day or maybe this was her normal demeanor. I should’ve probably responded to her behavior by being overly sweet and nice—the way she should have been treating us, but my level of frustration didn’t allow that. I wonder what would have happened if I had. Maybe her surly attitude would have changed. Maybe not, but I’m still a believer in the saying you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. In the times that I’ve had enough patience to try this tactic, it’s almost always worked out well. So whether you’re dealing with a difficult customer or you’re the customer dealing with a difficult employee, try showing them the honey and see what happens.

When it clicks

When you have a team of people who not only work well together but truly enjoy and respect each other, their productivity, efficiency and creativity skyrocket. The opposite is true for those teams who are continually undermining and distrusting each other. While there’s no magic wand when it comes to forming a great team, it does start with hiring the right people. Just as important as finding someone with the right qualifications is hiring a person who will fit with the team dynamics. It’s great if they can fit in with the company’s overall culture and atmosphere, but even more essential is that they mesh with the team they’ll be working the closest with. When it all comes together and you have a team that works well together, the possibilities seem endless.

If it’s broken, fix it

Anyone who’s ever painted knows that paint cans are difficult to pour paint from. Inevitably paint drips down the side of the can, gets inside the lip and dries. And the lids aren’t exactly easy to use either. Yet, they’ve been the same for years—until Dutch Boy broke the mold and came out with its Twist and Pour® paint container that’s easy to pour, easy to seal and easy to carry. They designed a paint can with the end user in mind. Now if only everyone would start packaging paint this way! Is there anything in your business you can fix to make things better for your customers?

Lead the pack

With all the products and businesses out there today, it’s hard to distinguish yourself among the competition. One way to set yourself apart is to become an expert your customers can turn to when they need a service, product or industry information. Become a thought leader in your industry. Write articles or whitepapers about topics related to your business. It could be a review of a new product or service, an idea to improve a process, a challenge your industry faces or ways to make the customer experience better. The more you get your name out there, the more people will recognize you as an authority in your industry. It’s also a great way to show your customers that you have an interest and passion for your business.

Maintaining quality service

Shopping at a big box store one day, I suddenly realized how nice everyone was being, when typically the place is a mish mash of unfriendly and sometimes downright scary people. I wondered what was going on. Then I realized they were being graded by corporate representatives. People were walking around the store with clipboards, critiquing displays, shelves and merchandise. Now I understood why normally robotic checkout people were engaging me in pleasant conversation and employees were saying hello to me as I was shopping. I thought how sad it was that my shopping experience wasn’t this way all the time. Why was it that a visit from corporate was necessary for this kind of experience? Why couldn’t they maintain it? To deliver great customer service, you need to do it consistently, not just when someone is looking.

Talk to the people who are listening

It’s difficult to come up with a brand and marketing message to satisfy the masses. You’re sure to alienate someone, tick someone off or leave someone out all together. You want your message to resonate with your brand’s positioning and sound like it’s actually coming from you. And of course you want to sell your products or services and be successful. But you don’t need to water down your message to satisfy the masses. Just talk to the people who are listening—the early adopters—the people who are really passionate about the product or service you offer. If they like it, they’ll spread the word for you, free of charge. Win over the early adopters and the rest will fall into place.

Do one thing and do it well

I recently ate at a 5 Guys Burger and Fries. As I waited for my food, I looked at the menu. Very simple—burger, hot dogs, fries and toppings. That’s it. Oh, I think they offer grilled cheese if you’re a vegetarian. This is in stark contrast to other restaurants that strive to offer their patrons every kind of food under the sun. In fact, it’s become so bad in some restaurants that the menu reads like a book and confounds you with too many choices. 5 Guys is a perfect example of finding one thing, doing it well and sticking to it. In their case, it’s making a great burger. Instead of straying from their true talent by adding salads, chicken or whatever else to their menu, they’ve maintained their focus on what they do well. And it’s worked wonderfully for them. Is there one thing your business does well? If so, make it your focus, your niche and run with it.

Voting Day

Today is the day to vote for president. Every other day of the year, our customers vote whether or not to buy our products or services. Are you running for provider of the year every day? If not, you are missing the votes, and the sales, that will help make you a success.

Redemption

Last night a new season of The Next Iron Chef America began on The Food Network. The subtitle is Redemption. The cast is made up of ten elite chefs who have lost on previous seasons of the show or other food competitions. They all want to prove they are the next Iron Chef and are chomping at the bit to show what they can do and bring home the win.

The first cooking challenge? The chefs were given the food they messed up with and made them lose the last battle they were in. How is that for stress? The chefs have the stress of performing in front of millions of people, on tape, against the best of the best (and peers), and they have the added mind game of winning with an ingredient that got the better of them before.

Why is this important to the sales channel? Because we aren’t often given a chance at redemption, but when we do, our choices are: rise to the occasion or choke on the pressure. It’s not easy, especially when your ego and professional reputation are at stake, but it it can be done. If you want to see how this kind of pressure can get the best of you on the sales floor or in a board room, watch. The game is a test of skills, but also of nerves. This is often present in the job of sales. We often lose a sale because of self-inflicted stress, rather than from a lack of expertise. These are ten extremely talented individuals, but only one can win this time. Just like every day…

Happy Halloween!

Have you ever wondered about the origin of a word, phrase or holiday? In the spirit of fun and education, here’s a link to the Wikipedia post on the origin of Halloween. It’s definitely a departure from our usual posts about the sales channel, but it is a holiday after all…Enjoy!