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

Posts tagged ‘Professional Development’

Things Turn Out Best For The People Who Make The Best Of The Way Things Turn Out

Good Day Pinnacle Performers,

Welcome to May! Hope this post finds you doing extraordinarily well.

We have arrived at the last in the series of John Wooden Maxims:

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

Excerpt from Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court:

“Why is it so much easier to complain about the things we do not have than to make the most of and appreciate the things we do have?”

This quote ties directly into the Maxim as many folks don’t make the most of the way things turns out, instead focusing on and complaining about what is missing and/or wrong with the situation.

This is a lesson I personally lived out in my professional selling efforts. When I started in business management consulting sales, I was assigned a territory that was considered to be “saturated”, having gone through many years with many different sales reps before me calling on what was, by and large, the same prospective client base.  At the same time, there were brand new “virgin” territories in other areas of the Eastern U.S. that afforded the sales reps there opportunities to get in front of potential clients for the very first time. In a new territory, it was not uncommon for the salesperson who worked there to receive (from the company’s inside sales effort) twice the number of appointments in any given week.

It would have been quite easy to focus on those negatives; I can’t sell because the territory is saturated, I can’t sell because the prospects I’m seeing have seen us 14 times already,  I can’t sell because I’m getting half the appointments, etc.

Instead I chose (with some effective mentoring at the time) to focus on what I did have and could control. If I had less opportunities and the opportunities themselves would potentially be of lower quality, well then I needed to be all that much better with the opportunities I did have or I would surely fail.  I’m happy to report that was not the case…

Over my 10 years with the company, I maintained the highest batting average (sales to presentation ratio) and ended my tenure with the highest generated revenue totals in the company’s history.

One thing is certain. You will have challenges. You will have obstacles. In order to succeed you must build a mental bridge and get over them. What John Wooden said is true:

Thing Turn Out Best - John Wooden

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

It’s What You Learn After You Know It All That Counts

Good Day Pinnacle Performers,

Time marches on and with it we have arrived at the next John Wooden Maxim: It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

Wooden On Learning

This popular Wooden maxim is the first quote I reference with new trainees. While select students are novice, inexperienced lads and ladies, most folks enter training with at least several years of experience, up to seasoned veterans with 10+ years on-the-job.

Many of these experienced folks enter new training with a know it all already mentality, seemingly close-minded to new ideas. Obviously this is not the most favorable attitude when it comes to learning anything.

Fortunately, the vast majority of participants in my Pinnacle Performance training do come around. Usually at some point during our first time together they realize they actually didn’t know this or that and, now that they do, they’re better for it.

“Always be learning, acquiring knowledge, and seeking wisdom with a sense that you are immortal and that you will need much knowledge and wisdom for that long journey ahead. Know that when you are through learning, you are through.” – John Wooden

The reality is you can’t learn anything if you already know everything.

You Can't Learn Anything, If You Already Know Everything

Those know it all types aren’t particularly interested in moving forward and growing, contending that if they don’t know it by now then they never will.

Pinnacle Performers maintain an open-mind and pro-actively seek out new learning opportunities and ideas that can help them further their skill set and performance.

Looking to learn more? Visit Steve’s Recommended Reading

Make a Great Day!

Steve

Never Mistake Activity for Achievement

Good Day Pinnacle Performers,

This next John Wooden MAXIM is one of the best of his best.

Never Mistake Activity For Achievement

Over my 25+ years in sales/sales management and sales/customer service training, I have witnessed countless sales and customer service people that confuse activity with achievement, many on a daily basis.

The fact is many sales and customer service people routinely engage in activities that keep them busy rather than focusing their efforts and attention on the behaviors that will move them forward towards greater success. They perform their going through the motions routine and have the outward appearance of  lots going on but, like running on the treadmill, tomorrow they’re no father along then they are today.

It reminds me of the wonder years coaching my kids soccer teams. During games, everyone would run around (lots of activity) but hardly anyone would score (achievement). At the end of the game everyone would feel like they worked their butts off and accomplished something but the score would reflect otherwise.

When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur…. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts. — John Wooden

This MAXIM ties in perfectly with the previously posted Ben Franklin Lesson 3: Stop Procrastinating! where I wrote about Managing Your Cash Flow Zone and the the difference between high-value and low-value activities

As I often say in training, there’s a difference between activity and prosperity. What will you do today to prosper tomorrow?

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

Be Quick, But Don’t Hurry

Good Day Pinnacle Performers,

Let’s kick-off the week on a high-note with the next John Wooden Maxim; Be Quick, But Don’t Hurry.

Excerpt from Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court:

“When you hurry you tend to make mistakes.  On the other hand, if you can’t execute quickly, you may be too late to accomplish your task. It’s a delicate but crucial balance.”

This little maxim has big meaning when it comes to maximizing your performance. Customers want you to be pro-active and “act quickly” to address their needs. They also want personal care and attention and, if you hurry this area, they won’t feel your behavior was sincere and you put the relationship at risk.

World class customer service pro’s maintain proper balance; quick in service but slow in interactions with customers. So, like a supercar, you must be “Quick” and responsive when needed and also properly paced “Don’t Hurry” when called for.

Wooden Be Quick But Don't Hurry

Walk The Path!

Steve 🙂

Customer Disservice… With a Smile!

disservice

There’s a lot of talk about the importance of providing quality customer service and superior customer experiences to improve customer loyalty and sales and, as you know if you’ve visited this blog before, these topics are a primary elements of my Pinnacle Performance training seminars and consulting practices. But, on the flip side, there’s relatively little dialogue about the aspects that turn customers off, harm customer relationships, and can ultimately have customers not only leave your business for a competitor but do so while complaining about your business to everyone they come into contact with.

Please allow me to provide you a very personal experience of my recent family vacation in sunny San Diego. I didn’t know it (or expect it) going in but left with plenty of examples of what not to do when providing proper customer service. First, please know I am removing the destination name we stayed at because this is not intended to slam them directly but rather to learn from their mistakes and ensure you’re not doing the same with your customers.

The first thing you should know is that this was not a bargain basement motor lodge. It is a high-end, “luxury resort” that advertises “first class” vacation experiences. Sounds wonderful… let’s go!

Traveling with another family, we required two separate suites. Using a special American Express promotion I was able to secure a desirable “free room upgrade”, a significant savings of $50 dollars per night over paying for the rooms without the AMEX card. On the online reservation return receipt I noticed that room upgrades (like the ones I just reserved) are “based on availability” so I promptly called the hotel for clarification and was told to call back a week before traveling out and they would reserve the room upgrades at that time.

Enter Patsy. Patsy and I had a wonderful conversation and she was most helpful saying that my room upgrades were “all set” and would be waiting for us when we got there. So we got there and, lo and behold, found that was only half true. Seems only 1 room upgrade is available, the other is not. Not particularly good news and certainly not what we were expecting. I explained my previous “all set” call with Patsy. The reply from the front desk employee? “Patsy is in reservations, she doesn’t upgrade rooms”. Let me see if I have this straight… Patsy is in reservations and she doesn’t manage reservations? You would think the person most empowered to manage reservations would be the person whose job is to interact with customers on their reservations line, right? Evidently, wrong. So much for being “all set”.

Lesson #1: Be Accountable.

A big part of delivering great customer service is assuming responsibility and standing behind your commitments. Saying it is not the important part. Doing it is. Sales and service professionals already have their work cut out for them to gain customers trust. Broken commitments are a warning sign of mistrust that can seriously jeopardize the health of the relationship. You will never see this type “it’s not her job” finger pointing at elite customer service establishments. They focus on making it right for the external customer not on who made it wrong internally.

Once settled in our suite we realized there was no silverware, glasses, plates or any other kitchen utensil in our kitchen. So we called the front desk. Remarkably, their first response was “many guests bring these household items with them”. We traveled across the country from Boston to San Diego with two kids and four suitcases. Did they actually expect us to pack and lug our kitchen items as well?

Lesson # 2: Never make your customer feel like they did something wrong.

 When a customer feels like their being accused of wrong doing they typically get defensive, annoyed and uncomfortable. Obviously, these are not the best emotions for positive customer relations. Never make the issue the issue, focus instead on what you can do to help the customer. Managed properly, the front desk employee should have replied with something like, “I’m sorry to hear that, we should have asked you upon reservation if you would like us to supply the kitchen with these items, I’ll see to it that this gets taken care of right away.”

In any event, after the initial inquiry nothing happened so a few hours later we called again. Each time the staff member on the other end of the line was polite, helpful sounding and ensured us it would be taken care of in short order. But, for the entire day, exactly nothing materialized and we were still completely utensil-less. So the next morning while staring at our dry cereal we decided to physically go to the front desk and seek redemption. Once again, the smiling staff member entered the information into “the system” and ensured us that the utensils would be sent over right away. A few hours later when (unbelievably) no one showed up I made the last call, the call that makes it clear that we are beyond displeased, have no faith in anything that is spoken to us, and asked what manager I should speak with when nothing happens after this call-in-progress too. That’s all it took to get some basic kitchen utensils at this “luxury resort”.

Lesson # 3: It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.

 The old adage is true; actions do speak louder than words. Many people think providing great customer service is about being friendly, polite and smiling a lot. While that’s essential it is only part of the total equation. You can smile all day but if you don’t fulfill your commitments and meet your customers’ expectations then the net effect is greatly diminished. Customers ultimately view the gestures as insincere, and you’ll end up with an unhappy customer.

Unfortunately, we experienced at least a couple more incidents of customer disservice that week. Clearly, there is a detrimental disconnect between what staff members are demonstrating/saying (behaviors) and what they’re doing (actions/execution) at this vacation resort. True world-class customer service can only be achieved with a proper unity between the two.

In closing, always remember this fitting Ben Franklin quote, “Well done is better than well said.”

Steve 🙂

Discipline for Success

Discipline is a fundamental component of success in anything in life.

Have you ever seen an athlete achieve world-class greatness without discipline to their sport and a commitment to working on their game and honing their skills? Champions rarely wing it.

Have you ever seen a seriously overweight individual get in shape without discipline to some form of diet and exercise? Most likely, no.

Sadly, it is rare to see the same level of discipline in sales and/or customer service reps. Sure, the consistent achievers (Pinnacle Performers) have it. But they are often the exception and not the rule.

Everyone wants success in their sales or customer service role. True performers achieve success by committing to continuously improving their skill set and performance.

I once had a trainee tell me that he didn’t like to role play (customer interaction scenarios) because he didn’t feel he was very good at it and he would be “a mess”.

Imagine telling your (pick a sport) coach that you don’t want to practice because you’re not very good at running the plays?  That’s the point of practice!

I tell trainees all the time, the program works if you work the program. All it takes is discipline.

Steve 🙂

Persist To Succeed

Good Day All,

The attached image shows just a few but many of the world’s greatest accomplishments never would have been achieved without persistence.

Right now, in a tough economy, there is much to challenge your chances of success. Consumers limiting their spending, reduced traffic in the stores, etc.  It is easy to fall victim to these external issues and lose your internal drive.

Persistence takes practice. It’s something you bring to work every day. Regardless of what your goal may be, you can only accomplish it if you persist towards it with daily focused behaviors.

Commit to moving forward every day, each another step of progress and one step closer to your goal and ultimate success.

Steve 🙂

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Poor Wellbeing Is Killing Your Business!

Hi All,

Anyone familiar with my Pinnacle Performance training knows that we spend considerable time learning about market-leading companies and how, to the point of this post, building a winning team corporate culture leads to increased employee engagement and, ultimately, greater customer engagement and sales performance.

Well here’s a fantastic new article from the Gallup Business Journal that supports those principles and then some.

A Q & A wih Tom Rath and Jim Harter, Ph.D., authors of the bestseller Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, the result of decades of research into wellbeing.

Click-On Here To Open Article > Poor Wellbeing Is Killing Your Business!

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

Keep Moving Forward To Succeed

Hi All,

As any calendar will tell you, we are now officially half-way through 2012. And this midway point comes smack dab in the summer season when it’s easy to be distracted by the nice weather and thoughts of being out of work for a little fun in the sun.

That’s great and well deserved for your efforts. Just don’t take that mental vacation while at work too…

You are (or should be) on the right track to a Pinnacle Performance year. This is no time to stop and smell the roses.

Keep moving forward towards your goal and striving to be better today then you were yesterday.

Walk The Path!

Steve :-)

Frost on The Road Less Traveled

Hi All,

In one way or another, I speak about this all the time in my Pinnacle Performance training.

The fact of the matter is you’re not a monopoly in the marketplace. There’s likely many people and companies who do what you do.

When product and/or services are identical from company-to-company they are automatically commoditized with lowest price being the single biggest purchase influencer. When you are the same as everyone else in your role then you too are commoditized and worth only the “going rate” for your daily duties.

The best performing companies, and the people in them, are innovators. They don’t behave like everyone else. They go over-and-above to create special value for their customers, internally and externally.

They take the road less traveled and that truly does make all the difference.

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

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