Steve Ferrante's High Performance Blog for Sales/Customer Service/Leadership Champs and Progressive Professionals!

Posts tagged ‘Pinnacle Performance Training’

Why Winners Don’t “Rise and Shine”

As a long-standing resident of Planet Earth, no doubt you’re familiar with the expression “Rise and Shine”.

Well I’m here to set the record straight once and for all…

The expression has been bantered about likely as long as folks have been sleeping, a very long time indeed.

In the literal sense, “Rise and Shine” means ‘get your butt out of bed and be lively and energetic’!

So, are most folks doing that? More personally, are YOU doing that? If you’ve been working somewhere you’re not particularly enthused about after you rise then the odds of you ‘shining’ there are quite low.

Sadly, countless companies across the globe are populated by the walking dead… zombie employees dragging themselves through the day. All rise, no shine.

Often, the problem stems from a poor corporate culture lacking effective leadership.

More on that here > Eight Great Practices for Creating a Winning Team Corporate Culture

In any event, with regards to high “Pinnacle Performance” achievement, the expression itself is backwards…

One does not merely rise and shine.

A living testament to this, I was rising for years and wasn’t shining much at all. It simply doesn’t work like that.

To truly shine, you must first be excellent at what you do. Once you master your craft you will ‘shine’, and once you do, you will most certainly rise to higher levels of success.

When you truly ‘shine’…

Your customers will notice (You’ll improve relationships and increase sales)

Your team will notice (You’ll set the winning example for all)

Your employer will notice (You’ll stand out and position to promote)

So please, don’t rise and shine… Shine and Rise!

Make a Great Day!

Steve

Passion Powers Performance – Does Your Team Have It?

Former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, said, “People with passion can change the world.” A bold statement for sure, but perhaps you’re not looking to change the world. Perhaps you’re just looking to create a more successful business. Then does passion really matter? In short, yes – and quite a bit at that.

What is passion? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, passion is “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.”

Do your team members have a passion for their work? More importantly, do you?

Consultants who study high-performance organizations and high achievers (conspicuously raising my hand) will tell you that passion and success go hand-in-hand. It’s no great secret that many folks have little to no passion for their work. They consider their work little more than a paycheck and their No. 1 goal is getting through the week to cash out and receive it.

As the above quote suggests from legendary football coach Vince Lombardi suggests, Mr. Lombardi was quite serious about passion and enthusiasm with his players. He knew that passionate, enthusiastic players would possess the magnetism to drive each other to give it their best to succeed. This same contagious “magnetic effect” is also true in the workplace and, when properly managed, can power your business to new levels of success.

Sadly, the average business typically has many more unmotivated, unenthusiastic employees. Often poor management is the root cause of the problem with uninspired managers demotivating team members with their disengaging behaviors and lack of on-the-job enthusiasm. However, a poor or weak manager should be no excuse for each employee’s personal responsibility in delivering excellence (PRIDE) on the job.

“Put Some Zip In Your Do Da!” is one of my favorite Pinnacle Performance maxims and for good reason… it is the fuel of high performance! We all have that daily “Do Da” we do, but all too often there’s little zip in it.

The fact is that positive attracts positive in all we do. A positive, upbeat attitude typically influences a similar positive response in your customers, co-workers, and everyone else you interact with. Conversely, a negative or poor attitude repels, typically influencing a similar negative response from others.

High achievers in sales or customer service demonstrate zip with their upbeat friendly tonality, never sounding bored or tired. This is especially important on phone interactions where only 30% of communication is what you say (content) and 70% is how you say it (tonality). Simply put, to engage callers (and turn more into customers) you must be engaging.

Your outward appearance also says a lot about your “Do Da.” High level politicians up to the President of the United States are coached on body language and how to present themselves to the public because we the people expect leaders to look a certain way.

Leaders (that people want to follow) and successful folks in general are not those that look like they’re carrying a heavy burden and dragging themselves along day after day. We’ve all seen those sleep-walking Sally’s at work. To quote Aerosmith, their “get up and go must have got up and went.” A sweet emotion interacting with these folks it certainly is not.

For your selling/customer-service/ life purposes, recognize that people naturally gravitate toward people who are successful and conversely avoid failure at all costs. High-achievers project zip with an energetic pep in their step, good posture and a can-do demeanor that delivers a message of confidence and success.

Test Your Passion

It’s not hard to assess your passion and/or those of your co-workers on the job. Refer back to that opening definition: “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” Is that how you feel about your work?

Passion is all about engagement. Those with true passion are “fired up” for and at their job. They are positive, look forward to their work, have high energy, and their time there seems to fly by. Those with little to no passion are negative, dread Monday mornings, bring no energy to their work, and their on-the-job time seems to crawl by as they count the minutes until they can run away from it.

Obviously, one of these folks is far more productive than the other.

It’s not about your products or service…

As I advise my many market-leading clients in the tire/auto service industry, a successful (high-achiever) employee’s passion is rarely, if ever, tires or working in a tire/auto service business for that matter. However, they must have a passion for customer service, a passion to serve, a passion to help others, and above all, a passion to succeed. This applies to any type of business.

You may be thinking, “My work is not special. I’m only a salesperson, a customer service rep, another worker bee. What do I have to be passionate about?”

How About Being the Best at What You Do?

You may not have a deep-seated personal passion for the products and/or services that your business sells, and that’s okay. You should, however, have a passion for your profession and to be the very best you can be in your role.

As a sales or customer service representative, that means having a passion for selling and helping potential customers purchase your products or services, providing the best in customer service and exceeding expectations.

If you don’t have a passion for being the best at what you do where you are currently doing it, then you’re probably in the wrong job and positioned for failure or, at best, mediocrity. In other words, if you can’t do your job with passion then you probably shouldn’t do it all.

Face the fact that you’ll never achieve the level of success you are capable of achieving without true passion – you are costing yourself and your business – and move on. For when you follow your passion, success will follow you.

Steve Ferrante

Gratitude is the Best Attitude!

The occasion of Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to be thankful for what we have but being grateful should not be limited to the fourth Thursday in November.

From a business perspective, practicing an attitude of gratitude means letting customers know how much you value and appreciate their business.

Since starting Sale Away 13 years ago this month, I have asked literally thousands of sales and customer service associates in many dozens of businesses all over North America if they appreciate their customers and, predictably, I always receive the same response; “Of course we do!” Then I ask them the real question… How do your customers know?

The sad reality is quite often customers really don’t know or, more importantly, feel appreciated. Often, employees assume customers know they’re appreciated because they regularly thank them at the end of a given interaction. That’s great but true displays of customer appreciation are about much more than a token “Thanks” at the end of interactions, they are heartfelt and consistent throughout the relationship.

Your customers (and potential customers) should always feel that you truly care for their personal well-being. This begins with treating them like human-beings and being grateful, not just because they’re interested in your product or service, but rather for the relationship or opportunity to help them.

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Although Thanksgiving is the time of year this sentiment is most talked about and expressed in others, true gratitude is not a seasonal affair. Your attitude of gratitude should be practiced year round for there is much to be thankful for.

Always keep in mind (and heart) that when a customer purchases a product or service from your business, even if the transaction did not involve you, the customer is indirectly paying you. For, without them, there is no paycheck – no job – no business to be had.

As the title of my Pinnacle Performance Training poster below reads.. Always Be Grateful.

Maintain and Attitude of Gratitude

It is human nature that as we settle in over time we “get used to” everything. When the company, your fellow team members, and customers become part of your daily routine it’s easy to lose the appreciation we had when these ‘good things’ were new to us. 

Of course, we don’t want to lose these things (our job, customers, etc.) to come to our senses and appreciate just how important they are! 

In order to not lose our sense of appreciation as new things become familiar to us, we must live in the moment and maintain an attitude of gratitude. This is easier said (or written about) than done. It takes a conscious effort where we mentally count our blessings and don’t allow ourselves to take the most important ‘good things’ for granted.

On the job, this takes true customer-focus.  You must not become complacent and go through the motions but rather execute with purpose and sincerity.

Of course, it’s not only what you say but what you do that makes the difference. Spontaneous “Thank You For Your Business” cards, follow-up calls to thank customers for their business and ensure they’re happy after the sale, random acts of kindness and consistent acts of exceptional service go a long way towards demonstrating genuine appreciation and gratitude.

Speaking of gratitude, I would be remiss if I didn’t Thank You for making it all the way to the end of this article. I appreciate your effort and wish you all the best for success!

Steve

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

Shine to Rise!

As a long-standing resident of Earth, no doubt you’re familiar with the expression “Rise & Shine”. 

Well I’m here to set the record straight once and for all…

The expression  has been bantered about likely as long as folks have been sleeping, a very long time indeed.

In the literal sense, “Rise and Shine” means ‘get  your butt out of bed and be lively and energetic’!

So, are most folks doing that? More personally, are YOU doing that? If you’ve been going somewhere you’re not particularly enthused about after you rise then probably not.

Sadly, countless companies across the globe are populated by the walking dead… zombie employees dragging themselves through the day. All rise, no shine.

Often, the problem stems from a losing corporate culture that could certainly benefit from my recent article > Eight Great Practices for Creating a Winning Team Corporate Culture

And, with regards to high “Pinnacle Performance” achievement, the expression itself is backwards…

One does not merely rise and shine.

A testament to this, I was rising for years and wasn’t shining very much if at all.

To truly shine,  you must first be excellent at what you do. Once you master your craft you will ‘shine’  and, once you do, you will most certainly rise to higher levels of success.

So don’t rise and shine… Shine and Rise!

You Need To Shine To Rise

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

Is your business looking to Shine so they can Rise above the competition? Then, by all means, visit Sale Away today!

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