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Archive for the ‘Steve’s Articles’ Category

Are You The Smartest Sales Person In The Room?

There’s this popular quote, “If you’re the smartest person in the room you’re in the wrong room”. This quote has always struck a nerve with me. More on that shortly. First, a brief (remarkably relevant) story..

About a year or so ago, I was speaking with a business owner who had just decided to hire me to train his sales and service team. His primary reason for hiring me had nothing really to do with anything I had done or said personally, we had never met in person and had only spoken on the phone once. Instead, his reason for hiring me was something another client had said about me to him. “He said you’re crazy smart and had a really positive impact on his whole team”. “Crazy smart”, those were his exact words. Sounds like an oxymoron to me and, besides, being a New Englander with Bostonian DNA, I prefer Wicked Smaaht.

At that time, I didn’t say much of anything other than “great” or similar as we proceeded to formalize our training plans. But that label.. it stuck with me. I knew where it came from but why? In my 12+ years as a trainer, I certainly don’t recall ever referring to myself as “Crazy Smart”. 

So please allow me to set the record straight..

I am far from smart, crazy or otherwise, on most things. So are you and all the people you know. Take carpentry for instance. I have a good friend who’s a fantastic carpenter. The kind of guy that didn’t have an addition built on his house so he could do it. And now it looks at least as good as the house!  By comparison, my smarts on carpentry are right around dummy level.  If I built an addition on your house it would, at best, be an abomination. 

Same goes for chemistry and agricultural. I’m not the best choice to mix your meds or tend to your crops. In fact, there’s a very long list of things that I really have no business in. And that’s the whole point.

Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid. – Albert Einstein

Being an expert at carpentry, chemistry or agricultural would do absolutely nothing to further my chosen profession as a sales/customer service/leadership trainer. Accordingly, I spend exactly no time on furthering my rather limited education on these subjects.

On the other hand, if you want to know about sales, customer service and/or leadership well now we’re talking! Business, customer engagement, human relations, creating a winning corporate culture? I’ll ace that test! After all, I’m a trainer/speaker/consultant on those subjects.

Be The Smartest Person In The Room?

Back to the quote; “If you’re the smartest person in the room you’re in the wrong room”.

What’s wrong with being the smartest person in any room? If you’re the dumbest person in the room, are you now in the right room? Actually, that thought is more aligned with the true meaning of the quote. If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re prohibiting your growth as you can’t learn anything (that you don’t already know) to further your development.  That makes sense.

As an example, if you’re the President of the United States, it would not be most advantageous, and potentially dangerous, to be the smartest person in the room. Accordingly, the President has a Cabinet with the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments including  Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, to name a few. The Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office. With that vital appointment, Cabinet members should certainly be the ‘smartest person in the room’ as they are relied upon as the President’s go-to source for expertise in their department. With the health of the country at stake, it makes perfect sense that the ‘smartest’ people are appointed to the President’s cabinet.

The same goes for corporations. Successful CEO’s recognize they can’t do it all and need to hire and surround themselves with the best and brightest people in each department to effectively grow the business. Conversely, many small businesses fail when the CEO takes on too much themselves and/or fails to hire the best people.

However, imagine being sick and not having the smartest doctor in the room treating you? Or a lawyer who’s not sure  what to do about your legal matter until he speaks with a smarter attorney than himself. In both cases, you would want to deal with that smartest person directly. Be that smartest person.

Napoleon’s “Specialized Knowledge”

Successful people, in all callings, never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business, or profession. — Napoleon Hill

I wholeheartedly agree with the Napoleon Hill’s principle of “Specialized Knowledge”.  Napoleon asserted that knowledge is not power, it is only potential power. It only becomes power when, and if, it is organized into a definite plan of action, and directed towards a purpose.

In simple terms, if you want to succeed at anything than you don’t need to know everything. Only what is necessary to succeed at your “major purpose” truly matters. 

As I wrote in The Truth about “Born Salesman”, top performers don’t rely on fate/destiny, they decide and commit to being a student of their profession, learning all they can and working to master their craft over time.

So I absolutely agree and totally disagree with the quote, depending on the position it’s based on. If you’re a sales and service professional seeking peak performance (and all the rewards that comes with), you should certainly strive to be ‘the smartest person in the room’, not only an expert in your business/industry/products but also a master at your craft (selling and customer service).

Steve

pinnacleperformancetraining.biz

How To Fail In Your Business

If you’re familiar with my Pinnacle Performance Training or have been reading my columns in Tire Review over the past few years than you know my focus is on success and creating the winning sales, customer service and workplace culture that differentiates and elevates businesses above and beyond its competitors.

In this article, I’m literally flipping that on its head and taking an opposing view of many of these proven success principles. Since 80% of all businesses are not performing at the level of the top 20%, its logical to assume that most businesses are closer to these positions than the minority that are succeeding at the highest level.

With that, here are six proven ways to lose customers and damage your business:

Don’t Prepare

When Ben Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” he was clearly misinformed.  You’ve been getting by all these years without proper preparation so why start now? Sure, your sales and service people “wing it” in their customer interactions and you’re no doubt losing sales to well-prepared competitors but that’s okay. It’s the way we roll around here; we’re born to be wild!

Besides, all that ‘preparation’ stuff takes time and time is in short supply around here. We may not have the time to properly prepare and do it right at the moment, yet we always seem to find the time to fix it later.

Focus on sales, not service

Business is really all about the numbers. All this mumbo jumbo about customers and enhancing their experience to create sales and loyalty to the brand is just a fad. What your business needs is sales today, not customers tomorrow!

You’re  also going to want to spend that marketing budget on advertising to drive more traffic in. Why invest in your existing customers’ experiences (to build loyalty, generate referrals and reap long-term gains) when you can spend much more money on advertising to attract new customers and make a few sales today? 

It’s probably a good idea to have a sales meeting and yell at the team for poor production. “Close more deals!” That should help. Better yet, you should hire a consulting firm to train your sales team to be more aggressive and pushy to sell more prospects. After all, making sales today is more important than building customer relationships for tomorrow, plus all that pesky repeat business and new business referrals it can create.

Focus on price, not value

Focusing on value means delivering more for customers money than your competition does. Consumer research confirms that, when a customer perceives additional value, they are willing to pay more for a business’s products and/or services.

The primary driver of a customers’ perception of value is the quality of the service provided them. To lose customers and damage your business you should absolutely avoid improving the quality of service to increase perceived value altogether. Instead, focus on coupons and aggressive discounting. People love coupons and discounts! As long as sales are coming in, who needs profits?

Since most shoppers consider products and services a commodity, and often want the cheapest available, you’ll also want to make sure your sales staff doesn’t communicate the value of your offerings. And, by all means, do away with any value-added services you may be offering. That will only enhance the customers perception of value and drive more profitable sales. Yuck. To fail effectively,  your sales staff should avoid value selling. Instead, discount early and often.

Fail To Deliver

There are a number of ways to fail to deliver and each one is proven to lose customers and damage your business!

Let’s start with quality work. Service businesses build their reputations on quality work, so you’ll want to stop doing any of that straight away. Of course, you should never ever do anything less than honest, but there are other ways to dramatically reduce quality. As an example, skip those post-sale quality assurance initiatives and you’ll be well positioned to have disgruntled customers come back to you with problems you missed and how they’ll gladly take their business to a competitor next time.

Customers value service providers that are responsive and proactive to their needs so, presto. Just flip that around and be unresponsive and reactive. If your business has the customer waiting while you’re performing their service, don’t provide any progress updates. Let the customer get up and come to the counter. If they’re not in-house, let them call you – ideally several times – to check on their service status.

No doubt you’re familiar with the popular phrase “under-promise and over-deliver”. This is another easy role reversal to now “over-promise and under-deliver”.

Here’s a great little gem of an actual account from a tire business that did a masterful job at this:

A customer walks up to the counter and asks how long it’s going to be to have their new tires installed. The employee responds, “We’ll have you in and out in about a half hour.” Customer replies, “Great, I’ll wait then,” and goes and sits in waiting area.

A half hour later, her vehicle is still parked in the lot with absolutely no explanation from any store employee. Another customer walks in and the first customer overhears the same empty “we’ll have you in and out in about a half hour” pledge. As soon as the second customer sits down in the waiting area, the first customer says, “They’re lying; I’ve been here over a half hour already and they haven’t even taken my car in yet.”

Later, that same customer posts a negative review on the Internet making a case that the entire business is dishonest. Not only will she never come back, but now she also told all of her friends and co-workers not to do business there. One incident of failing to deliver as promised has now produced dozens of potential customers lost. 

Be Inconsistent

When customers can count on consistently great service each time they do business with you, their confidence increases and they are far less likely to shop around for their service needs. However, when the customer’s experience is inconsistent – exceptional one visit and so-so or poor the next – his or her confidence is compromised and (as influenced by the perceived risk) they are far more likely to consider competing alternatives.

A consistent customer experience builds consumer confidence and strengthens a company’s brand, but where’s the fun in that? Be spontaneous and mix it up a bit instead. All those successful service businesses, hotels, restaurant chains and franchises with their fancy systems and processes, boring! Be hit or miss and send a clear message to customers that they likely will not receive the same level of service in the future. That should do wonders when it comes to losing customers and damaging your business!

Be Unremarkable

Consumer research has shown that approximately seven out of 10 customers leave a business because of indifference. They feel like “just another transaction” and have no emotional engagement with the business.

As your potential customers shop around with very little to distinguish one business from the next, they naturally default to the cheapest price for the product or service they’re seeking. Losing on price or discounting is perhaps the single biggest consequence businesses suffer for being unremarkable.

Of course, in sticking with our “losing customers and damaging your business” theme, you’ll want to follow the crowd, play it safe, stick to the norm and deliver ordinary, unremarkable customer experiences. Any remarkable efforts will only foster customer engagement and rave referrals, creating loyal customers and even more business.

And who needs that?

Steve 🙂

Also on LinkedIn @ How To Fail In Your Business

Le Petit Chef and the Positively Memorable Customer Experience

In the article,Customer Satisfaction Doesn’t Count,” the Gallup Organization stated that “if you do not make an emotional connection with customers, then satisfaction is worthless.” Their research proved that customers do not buy strictly for rational reasons and that, from a results standpoint, it is much more important to engage customers on an emotional level. 

The fact is no one remembers an ordinary transaction and they certainly don’t share them with their family and friends. They do remember extraordinary interactions and experiences. In this sense, creating a positive memory is the ultimate emotional connection!

We’ve all been there..

You’re at a restaurant with your family and/or friends. You just finished dinner and order dessert and perhaps a coffee. Then you wait and, sure enough, 10 or so minutes later your dessert arrives. Nothing special or particularly memorable about that. Enter the fine folks at Skullmapping..

From their website: 

At Skullmapping we create projection mapping projects, VR experiences and holograms. Our passion is to develop stories and present them in a new way, in order to surprise our audience. We love to experiment with the latest technology, and push beyond what has been done before.

And so now you’re in a delightfully different restaurant waiting for dessert and this happens..

I bet you and your family and/or friends would remember that!

While you may not have the capability to utilize virtual reality in your business as spectacularly demonstrated here, the concept is the same. To stand out and above your competition, you must strive to create positively memorable experiences for your customers!

the-best-customer-experiences-are-positively-memorable 

Make a Great Day!

Steve 

Want to create true emotional engagement and positively memorable experiences for your customers? I can absolutely help you! For details and contact info click-on > Sale Away LLC.

The Five W’s of Customer Service

5-ws-of-service

Any sports coach worth his whistle will tell you that you must first learn, practice, and master the fundamentals if you’re going to be truly great in your sport.

That same philosophy is true of your business: your sales and service team needs to learn, practice, and master the fundamentals of customer service if you’re going to have a truly great service business.

Continuing the sports analogy, many businesses are playing without a good grasp of these fundamentals. They hope to win the game, but are not familiar with the playing field.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the fundamentals of customer service by answering the essential “Five W” questions.

Read the entire article here > The Five W’s of Customer Service

Creating a Winning Workplace to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Attract and Employ Top Talent

Having difficulty finding talented employees? Have a look at the engagement of your existing employees first.

Spending the last 21+ years in business consulting, the past 10+ in my own practice, I have heard the plea “we can’t find good people” countless times from business owners and/or management personnel. In fact, if you’re a business owner or manager, there’s a very good chance you have said this yourself at one point or another.

Of course, every business wants to attract, hire and retain “good people” but only the best businesses seem to do that consistently well. Why is that?

Read the entire article here > Creating a Winning Workplace to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Your Single Biggest Advantage

Recently I came across this cartoon…

Who Wants Change

I’m not sure who the artist is but the depiction bears an uncanny resemblance to a speaking engagement I had a few years back. I was speaking at an automotive industry conference at the beautiful Baltimore Marriott Waterfront. There were about 1500 people in the audience. I was on stage with a movie theater size screen behind me. About 5 minutes into my presentation, I put this slide up on the screen..

DO YOU WANT TO WIN

The sheer amount of people and the rally environment of the conference made this the loudest response I’ve ever heard in the many times I’ve used this slide as they seemingly all cheered loudly, many raising their arms/fists to demonstrate their support. After all, who doesn’t want to win?

Then, I said “Great! What are you doing about it?” Like someone pulled the fun plug, the cheers faded away, the arms went down, and the place fell nearly silent as I switched to this quote from Coach Paul Bear Bryant..

The Will To Prepare To Win

Having trained thousands of folks in dozens of businesses, I’m convinced most people want to be better. They want to win. However, few people turn that desire into action and make the necessary changes to succeed at at a higher level. I believe this is your single biggest advantage for success.

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When I talk with clients, and people in general, about achieving higher levels of success (“Pinnacle Performance”) they all want it. But, when we address the changes it’s going to take then I often receive halfhearted commitments or excuses. Finally, I discover who I’m really dealing with in the actions they take or, most often, do not take.

Ever heard of a New Year resolution? The research studies all conclude the same findings, approximately 80% of people that make a New Year resolution do not keep it. There are a number of reasons for this but they are all driven by self-discipline and a commitment to change.   

Now this ‘change’ principle is certainly not the latest in professional development advice. In fact, English literary James Allen published this famous quote in one of the most popular self-help books of all time, As a Man Thinketh, way back in 1902:

“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.” — James Allen

Improvement, by design, is change. When you effectively apply this change principle to a organizations culture, where everyone is committed to continuous improvement, it is a very strong competitive advantage.

From 2007-2012 I conducted my “Strong Selling In A Weak Economy” seminar to dozens of organizations and associations. A popular program at the time, I would hear from many business owners on how they were trying to “weather the storm” and assuming a “bunker mentality” trying to make it through until the economy improved. I would ask how this was working for them and their business. It was not.

They all wanted to be better, yet they weren’t really doing anything about it other than trying to survive.  I would ask, “now that the economy has changed, what have you changed?” In most cases, nothing. I would point out how Einstein called this the definition of insanity; “doing the same thing and hoping for a different result”.

jim-rohn-change quote

So if positive change creates positive results then why don’t most people change? Here’s my top 3 reasons:

1) Change Is Hard?

There is no glitch in the Matrix.. That curious question mark at the end of this common statement is on purpose. The reality is change is only hard when you don’t know what and how to change. If you’ve been winging it, as a example, then “yes” change is hard. If you’re following a proven path then change is not easy, it’s just less hard, much less.

For instance, if you do not play the piano but were committed to playing really well, you wouldn’t buy a piano and just wing it. You would take lessons from a professional piano teacher who would help you change, with patience and practice, from an amateur to a professional yourself. 

You would recognize that in the beginning of your piano playing, like anything new, you would not be good and, very likely, would just plain stink. You would understand that this phase is a part of the learning curve on your way to mastering your skill.

If you understood all that and did persevere, you would be in the minority as the majority that try new things don’t succeed at them, much less master them. For them change is too hard. It’s much easier to retreat back to the comfort zone, so that’s where they end up. 

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

2) Your Environment

If you’re looking to lose weight then it only makes sense that you would not want to frequent the local ice cream parlor or pizza pad. If you want to succeed in your role, you need to take the same approach. Build a supporting cast by surrounding yourself with folks that are committed to the same change (or changes) you’re trying to make. Distance yourself from the naysayers and surround yourself with winners.

HANG OUT WITH EAGLES

For businesses, this is a culture issue. If a company is looking to achieve higher levels of success (a change) but their people are looking to stay the same (no change) then, ultimately, the company will not achieve its goal.  

Leaders must continually communicate the case for positive change and how it is ‘good for business’. They must create a culture that embraces change and strategically replace those on the team that are stuck in their ways and refuse to change.

3) Procrastination

Statistically speaking, there will be a great number of folks that read this and insist it’s not really about them. They are the ones that want change. They’ve just been so busy managing their current affairs that they haven’t really had the time to focus on all this change stuff.

Now, for some of these folks, it’s just not that important. They’re simply not that committed. Their goals are really just wishes. If they happen, great! If they don’t, that’s okay.

For those people, good enough is good enough

For the others that say, “Heck no, it’s really important”, it’s often a matter of procrastination.

You can find my whole article on that here > Top 3 Reasons Champions Don’t Have Time To Procrastinate

I hope this article has changed you, even if just a little, to be better than before you read it!

Steve 🙂

This article is also published on LinkedIn here > Your Single Biggest Advantage

Steve Ferrante is the Grand PooBah & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC.  Through Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Winning Team Culture training, speaking and professional development services, Steve creates positive change for success-driven businesses throughout North America. For detailed information visit Sale Away. Steve can be reached directly at 866-721-6086 ext. 701 or via email at steve@saleawayllc.com

Customer Experience Lessons From A Luxury Resort That Failed To Meet It’s Brand Promise

Walt-Disney-it-takes-people-to-make-the-dream-a-reality

I have been referencing that great Walt Disney quote regularly to my training clients over these past 10+ years since I started Sale Away. To use Walt’s word, I have many examples of great ‘places’ delivering less-than-great, and sometimes just plain poor, customer experiences.  This 2012 family vacation certainly comes to mind.

Sadly, this recent account has joined the my list of great places diminished by a disappointing customer experience. 

2 Tickets To Paradise..

To celebrate our upcoming 20th wedding anniversary we decided to leave our teenage kids home and take a long weekend to somewhere special that we had never been before.  After much research and deliberation we decided on the Waldorf Astoria Casa Marina Resort in Key West. As you can see on their site here, the place is just beautiful.

A gorgeous setting and that world-renowned Waldorf Astoria name set high expectations for a top notch customer experience. What could possibly go wrong in paradise?

Here’s a few examples that left us with less-than-happy memories:

 1) Special Requests

Preparing for our arrival, the Casa Marina emailed me a reservation confirmation with details on the resort and included a request on any “special occasion” that we may be celebrating on our visit.  Using this “Pre-Arrival Assistance” form, I informed that we would be visiting for our 20th Wedding Anniversary. I fulfilled a similar request at the Casablanca Hotel in Times Square for our 15th Anniversary and fondly recall how we were welcomed appropriately (“Happy Anniversary!”) by the check-in staff and pleasantly surprised by a bottle of champagne and card in our room.

Apparently, this was ignored as nothing was ever mentioned or offered during our entire stay. I know what you’re thinking.. they never received the request. They would never ignore it and, in fact, had they received it then no doubt they would go to great lengths to ensure it was acted upon. That what I was thinking too but, as I later discovered, this was only the beginning of a troubling trend. 

 2) The Beach Incident

First off, if anyone ever asks you if you want to drive from Miami to Key West.. SAY NO. Anticipating a pleasant scenic drive for 3 or so hours, we decided to fly to Miami International Airport and drive to Key West. Ended up being a 5+ hour mostly stop n’ go ride with plenty of time spent traveling traffic light to traffic light in, you guessed it, traffic. Of course, the resort awaiting us had absolutely nothing to do with our experience at this point.

Then, finally, we arrived.

After our surprisingly unceremonious check-in (see #1), all we wanted to do is relax so, after a brief room pit-stop, we visited the private beach.  Around 5:45 at this point, the beach was fairly empty with plenty of chairs and cabana beds available.  Not ones to pass up an opportunity to be extra cozy, we laid out on one of the cabana beds. I was dozing off rather blissfully when, not 15 minutes later, a resort employee abruptly asked us to get up so they could move all the chairs back for beach grooming later (not right then). I sat up in bewilderment.. there were easily a few dozen other chairs/beds spread about that they could of moved before even considering disrupting our peace. Not a good second impression of service..

3) Breakfast On Us

Our first morning there, we decided to walk the 1.5 miles or so down to Duval St. and had breakfast at a funky little restaurant there. Pretty good eats for about $40 with tip. 

The next day we decided to stay onsite and have breakfast at the resort. Upon checking-in with the hostess, she advised that their rather extensive breakfast buffet was included in the package I had already paid for when I made our reservation. Well now, wouldn’t that have been a nice reminder at check-in? “Mr. Ferrante, I see you have purchased the package that includes our buffet breakfast. It’s really great and served just around the corner in our main dining area with additional seating on our outdoor patio. The hostess will be expecting you. Enjoy!”

Instead of that, nothing.

It’s worth noting that I regularly stay at Marriott’s all over the map for business, and occasional pleasure, travel. I cannot recall the last time the check-in staff did not welcome me as a Marriott Rewards member and inform me of their free breakfast. The Casa Marina is part of the Hilton Honors program. I am a long-standing Hilton Honors member. Although my reservation had my HHonors number on it, my membership never came up and there was certainly no distinction between ours and non-members service.  

4) We Don’t Give A Tweet

As I often do with poor customer service interactions, I broadcast the post below on Twitter and included the resort wondering if anyone was paying attention there.  

The next day after incident # 3.. 

Apparently no one was paying attention as no reply was received on either tweet. Compare this lack of response to my recent experience at the Marriott and it becomes painfully apparent that there is a valuable customer service component lacking at this establishment. 

Upon departure, I requested to speak with the resort manager to discuss our experience and, when he could not be found, the front desk employee cordially provided his business card. I emailed him, along with Hilton Honors customer service, a detailed account of our experience. When no reply was received, I forwarded the email to them again requesting feedback for this article. That was 3 weeks ago now. No reply has been received.

A beautiful place may bring customers in but their experience is what brings them back

The Gap Between Us  

The gap between a business and its loyal advocates is the experience customers have when interacting with the brand. Every service interaction will either add or subtract from the customer’s overall experience. If poor interactions outweigh the good ones, as was the case here, then the customer’s memory of their experience will be tarnished and the likelihood of securing their future business jeopardized. 

In most cases, customer service interactions come down to the employees tasked to deliver them and whether or not they demonstrate PRIDE on the job. 

Still, even when PRIDE is present, employees can be limited by the organization itself, not having a true customer service culture and/or not being properly trained on what to do (and how to do it) to effectively contribute to it. Reflecting on our time at Casa Marina, I suspect this played a major role in the service shortcomings we experienced. 

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how nice your business looks if your service is substandard. As Walt Disney said, People make the difference.

Steve Ferrante is the Grand PooBah & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC. As producer and host of Pinnacle Performance Training, Steve delivers sales, customer service and winning team culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven organizations throughout North America. For detailed information visit Sale Away. Steve can be reached directly at 866-721-6086 ext. 701 or via email at steve@saleawayllc.com

This article is also on LinkedIn here

Jaromir Jagr’s Success Formula

some-people-dream-of-success-while-others-wake-up-and-work-hard-at-it-22

It goes without saying that being a professional athlete in any sport is not something that is easily achieved. Sure, some people are born with genetic gifts that made them tall or especially strong but, as I wrote about in The Truth About “Born Salesman”, they must still apply themselves and continually work on their game to master their craft and truly achieve greatness. 

And, as referenced in the video below with regard to hockey, once the average athlete does achieve professional status, their tenure at that level is usually short-lived. All that makes the story of hockey great Jaromir Jagr all that more remarkable. 

Have a look and listen to this brief ESPN Spotlight video:

 

As I often say in my training and speaking engagements, success has a formula. Jaromir’s success is certainly no accident. He does indeed have, and more importantly, adheres to a formula.

Let’s breakdown a few key points Jaromir made in the video that speak directly to achieving and sustaining success:

Constantly Adjust

Good yesterday doesn’t equal good today. You have to adjust. – Jaromir Jagr

One of the biggest threats to progress and ultimate success is complacency. While high-achievers like Jaromir are constantly striving for higher levels of performance, average folks get to a point and settle for good enough. As I referenced in the previous post.. If good enough if good enough for you, then you’ll never achieve greatness. To avoid complacency and keep moving forward you must constantly adjust. 

Consistent Practice Equals Consistent Results

The body is like a computer, I believe you can program it.  – Jaromir Jagr

One of the biggest problems I see that stifles growth with many businesses, and consequently the employees in them, is that they are inconsistent with their training efforts. As I wrote about in 4 Seldom Considered Reasons Sales/Customer Service Training Fails, training works with consistent exposure to the training. 

As Jaromir pointed out, you have to keep practicing to program your body and be best prepared to perform at a high level. That type of programming also applies to sales and customer service training. When folks do not consistently practice they gradually deprogram themselves and are not best prepared to capitalize on sales opportunities or provide the highest quality of customer service.

I wish I didn’t have to do anything and be good but it doesn’t work like that, it would be too easy and everyone could do it. – Jaromir Jagr

You Can Have Your Muffins but…

Like Jaromir, I also like muffins. There’s nothing quite like the savory deliciousness of a warm blueberry muffin with a little pat of butter. No great lesson here.. just an intriguing food fact.

Seriously, if you’re gonna cheat with the sweets then you better offset it with regular workouts. Unless, of course, you’re not really concerned with peak performance. Then diet, and just about everything else, doesn’t really matter. 

Be 100% In It

Whatever I love I have to be 100% in it. – Jaromir Jagr

This speaks directly to commitment and passion for your job. As I wrote about in Passion Powers Performance, most folks don’t have it.

You will never achieve the level of success you’re capable of achieving if you’re not 100% invested in your work. Put another way, you’ll never achieve the level of success you would have achieved in something you were 100% invested in.

Like Jagr, in order to be a great you need to be 100% in it .

Jagr Stanley Cup

Steve Ferrante is the Grand PooBah & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC. As producer and host of Pinnacle Performance Training, Steve delivers sales, customer Service and winning team culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven organizations throughout North America. For detailed information visit Sale Away. Steve can be reached directly at 866-721-6086 ext. 701 or via email at steve@saleawayllc.com

Marriott Gets Social To Deliver Great Service!

Bill Marriott if-you-take-care-of-your-employees

Marriott has long been known as a leader in the hospitality industry. Like the Ritz-Carlton, which Marriott International purchased in the mid-1990’s, Marriott understands it is the customer experience that drives customer satisfaction and, ultimately, loyalty to the brand.

Marriott also knows that the quality of the customer experience is only as good as the culture of the business and the employees that interact with guests. So, like the Ritz-Carlton, Marriott trains every employee — from concierge, front desk, housekeeping, to maintenance — to interact with guests with a focus on enhancing the customer experience. 

The remarkable success of the Marriott brand and their customer service culture is detailed in the highly recommended book by J. W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., The Spirit to Serve

More recently, and as a tie in to my recent experience chronicled below, Bill Marriott spoke about the role of social media in the customer experience:

Today, social media makes it easy for organizations like ours to ‘listen’ and ask questions of our guests. Our guests and associates have lots of opportunity now to let us know what they’re thinking and how we’re doing as a company. – Bill Marriott

The important part of what Mr. Marriott said is ‘listen’. These days, most reputable companies have some sort of social media presence and the capability to listen to their customers. Of those companies, the impact on the customer experience is in how they turn that ‘listening’ into action. 

Case in point:

Two weeks ago I was back on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii for another round of in-house training with a very-valued client of mine.  As was the case on my previous two visits, I stayed at the beautiful Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

While working on my laptop from my room balcony I tweeted this >

About a half-hour later I received this tweet back:

Good Stuff! Someone there was certainly ‘listening’ and responding in a positive manner to enhance my customer experience!

The next morning I left for my client early, was out of the hotel all day, and returned to my room early that evening to find a fresh fruit plate, 6 slices of banana bread, 2 bottled waters and silverware on my desk:

Waikoloa Marriott Treat

As shown, it included a card from the Director of Sales & Marketing, John Dominguez, with a thoughtful message:

Aloha Steven, If you have to work on your lanai, we hope you will enjoy this small treat.

Waikoloa Marriott Card

WOW! Now that’s exceeding expectations! Impressed and delighted with John’s consideration, I tweeted again:

Seemingly immediately, Marriott ‘liked’ the tweet and, not long after that, I received an “ENJOY!” retweet response. I sure did!

This is a great example of harnessing the power of social media to engage and, along with taking action, personalize and provide a memorable customer experience.

Well Done Marriott!

Steve 🙂

This story is also on LinkedIn @ Marriott Gets Social To Deliver Great Service

6 Resolutions for a More Successful New Year!

Here’s a timely article I originally published last year. The year has been updated, my advice remains the same..

6 Resolutions for a More Successful New Year!

As we come to the end of 2015 we arrive at the intersection of a new beginning, a clean slate and opportunity to be even better in the new year.

While the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions tend to fade away by the time February rolls around, here’s six I hope stay with you for greater success and improved well-being in 2016 and beyond.

In 2016,  I resolve to:

1) Focus On What I Can Control

More often than not, we experience grief, anxiety and/or frustration from situations that are beyond our control. Obviously, this is counterproductive. In 2016, minimize external issues and focus on your attitude (see # 5), your behaviors (what you do) and your execution (how you do it) to best control your destiny.

2) Be Grateful

As I published at Thanksgiving, gratitude is the best attitude for success. Grateful individuals focus on the positive aspects of life/work and do not take them for granted. They express heartfelt thanks and appreciation to others and their genuine gratitude positively attracts others to them.

3) Be a Student of My Profession

High-achievers, in any occupation, are true students of their profession. For sales/customer service professionals, realize that you are in the people business first and your product/services second. That means learning everything you can about improving your ‘people skills’ to better communicate and connect with people, build rapport, trust and relationships. Top performers continuously invest in themselves through training, reading and professional development to further their skill set.

4) Exercise Regularly

This is perhaps the most neglected New Year’s resolution of all time. Although the vast majority of folks do not stick with their resolution to exercise regularly the benefits of doing so are indisputable.  Regular exercise improves heart-lung and muscle fitness, helps prevent heart disease and diabetes, relieves stress, improves sleep, controls weight and generally improves your chances of living longer and healthier. 

5) Be Happy

 As I often say, positive attracts positive in everything you do. You will certainly gain far more in 2016 being happy than you would being miserable. I once read that the ‘grand essentials’ of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. For greater success in 2016, make sure you’re aligned for this and be happy.

6) Make Each Day Count

The Champ Himself, Muhammad Ali, once said “Don’t count the days, make the days count”. This principle is directly applicable to having a successful year… don’t count the days on the calendar, make each day on the calendar count. When you focus on making each day a success your year will take care of itself!

Commit to a Successful New Year 2016

All The Best To You For Success In 2016!

Steve 🙂

Steve Ferrante is the CEO & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Winning Team Culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For more information on Steve and Pinnacle Performance services for your team visit saleawayllc.com

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