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Archive for the month “January, 2010”

The Great Business Experience…The Exchange Act 2

In our opening scene, we introduced the engagement to the Great Business Experience. We discussed how this was an extremely important part of the decision making process. It is a time of evaluation based upon performance. It is also a time for you to proactively seek opportunities to become involved with your customers; to give them the opportunity to freely talk about what matters to them…remember no task to small no question to irrelevant? As the scene ended we demonstrated the great value of a successful engagement in that once established you gain a COMMITMENT! Now things change, because no matter what else is out there or what other opportunities appear, they become dim compared to working with you. This is a great beginning… but it is only the beginning (Scene fades to black)

We are in a great place, things are looking good. We have someone who believes in our business or our product. We have set the stage for a great exchange. The exchange in the Great Business Experience is two fold, that’s right two fold.(Suspense builds) Lets define the exchange. It is the moment in the experience when action occurs that transfers from one party to another. It is the GIVE and TAKE to the process. The first exchange should be quite clear. It is the transfer of a product or service for a given solution. Here you GIVE your customer, excellent service and a product (or service) that meets a need or provides a solution. The customer TAKES the solution and their life is improved because they encountered you. This last statement is underlined for a reason…to be revealed later.

The other fold (remember the two-fold) of the exchange is that the customer has GIVEN you their business and if you TAKE care of it, will last a lifetime. You should really consider what is happening here. You have someone who said “YES” to you! They have chosen you above all others for their great business experience! (applause!) This is a great moment. You have begun a new relationship that can last a lifetime. This is like being back in grade school and it is time to choose teams for dodge ball…remember? Think of this moment as you being selected first by the person you hoped would choose you and staying on that team for the rest of your dodge ball life…get it! (crowds gasps in awe!)

The exchange for you is a lifetime customer and your life is improved because you encountered them! Does this line look familiar? The key to you as a provider is very simple. You have been GIVEN an opportunity to develop an experience that you should never TAKE for granted (give and take). In today’s world of fierce competition, it is mandatory you treasure every customer and client that thinks enough of you to say YES!

By now you should be “fired up” and ready to move forward. I know in my sales experience there is no greater feeling than closing the deal…gaining new business. But more importantly is the fact that you have given your customer a great feeling of satisfaction. They have chosen you and you have made a positive difference in their life. Now to complete this great business experience we must draw it to a successful conclusion. One that leaves your customers wanting more! It is the critical time to reinforce and validate your customer’s decision. Just like the engagement process, now is the time to reassure the commitment. We never want our customers and clients to experience “buyers remorse” (“How do we do that”, the crowd asks?) I’m glad you asked! This great opportunity presents itself before your customers walk out the door!

We are now ready to discuss the final event to the great business experience; the successful EXIT. This moment sets the stage for your customers’ highly anticipated return…Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion of “The Great Business Experience” (Scene fades to black amidst great crowd expectations!)

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The Great Business Experience-The Engagement Act 1

Welcome to our performance entitled “The Great Business Experience. The Engagement, The Exchange and The Exit.” This performance is filled with a star- studded cast featuring the talents of you and your potential and existing business relationships. This great event is brought to you by your company…your business. This exciting 3 Act presentation focuses on 3 key areas that will develop, implement and insure a great business experience for you, your customer and your company. So without further ado…we give you “The Great Business Experience: The Engagement, The Exchange and The Exit” (Fade to black)

Act 1: The Engagement :The Opening Scene

This is your first impression. A great business experience begins like a courtship. A common interest or perceived match or solution is identified that allows your path and a potential relationship’s path to cross. A bonding begins. This “path-crossing” is created from a variety of resources…a need for your product or service you provide, a relationship you developed, a personal introduction from others or from a great reputation, or perhaps a chance of fate. Regardless of how it happened, it happened and you have granted a tremendous opportunity.This brings me to a question. Do you view every potential customer as an opportunity? Are you appreciative of every existing customer? You should. Standing in front of you or talking with you over the phone is the very reason you are provided the chance to do what you do. Customers are not just another arrow in your quiver, they are a priceless commodity and should be treated as such. Now on with the show.

I want to look at the engagement in two distinct views. The first is from the “courtship” view. Think about the engagement as putting your best foot forward first! Remember how it was when you were dating? I do. I remember the first date with my wife. I wanted to make certain I looked as good as I could. I paid attention to every detail. From my hair to my clothes, I wanted her to see me at my very best right away…to make a lasting first impression! My engagement went much further than physical appearance, it also encompassed the way I acted, the way I spoke and the way I wanted to make sure this person, perhaps my future wife, knew I wanted to learn all about her. What she liked, where she was from, what she wanted out of life and so much more. You see the engagement period was a time of decision making for both of us…but it becomes so much more. I’ll explain later. The engagement takes work. It can be easy after a while to assume the deal is done and begin to take things for granted. Only when that decision is challenged do we begin to pay attention to detail again. My challenge for all of us is to stay focused and never lose site of what this valuable process is about and how it provides life long rewards. (Next scene please…Action!!)

The other view of the engagement I want to address focuses on the interaction process. A successful engagement with your potential and existing customers is the ability to provide an atmosphere where they can be themselves. As stated earlier, with the example of dating my future wife, it is a time to find out what potential and exiting business relationships like, where they are from, and what they want. A successful engagement provides and promotes an environment that lets those you serve know with confidence, no task is too difficult, and no question is too silly or irrelevant. This interaction process states proactively that you welcome the opportunity to listen and learn! If I know you want to know then there is NO reason we wont successfully move forward. One of the greatest measures of customer worth is your personal attention to engaging or interacting with them every time they do business with you! (Scene fades to black)

The engagement makes or breaks relationships. Many times if the engagement fails the relationship fails never to be revived again. This is why this process is so very important. As I stated earlier, the engagement is a serious time of evaluation and decision making…but remember I said it was much more…are you ready for the more? Here it is. (pause for dramatic effect…) When the engagement is validated something GREAT happens; you get a commitment! Now everything changes. The commitment says no matter what else is out there, no matter the other opportunities I may encounter; no matter if you make a mistake, I AM COMMITTED! I have seen the value that you and your company can bring to me and I am yours. Doing business with you feels right! No greater compliment could ever be given. (Scene ends to great applause)

The engagement is the beginning. It is the first great impression. It is the excitement in developing the relationship. It is the “feels right” atmosphere and attitude the customer believes when working with you! Now here is a valuable point to remember, the engagement is just the beginning. There is so much more to a great business experience. In Act 2 of our performance you will see how The Exchange-“the giving and the taking” validates and proves unconditionally the decision and commitment made in the engagement…stay tuned! (House lights up)

Things Change…Things Never Change Part 2

In part one of this article, I discussed how things have changed over the last 25 years. While I detailed only two, I am fully aware that this list could go on and on. Just to refresh your memory, I detailed how competition over the years has introduced two new competitors that were not as prominent to me as in the beginning. These competitors are time and technology. Both are elements that I must compete with and stay ahead of everyday in order to be successful and give myself a chance to win. But there are still today some things that have not and should never change? Curious…Read on!

It is as clear as if it happened yesterday when my sales manager in 1984 looked me in the eye and said; “There are some things that should never change, and you need to make a personal commitment to keep it that way”. What could this be that has stood the test of time and according to a most wise counselor, should never be altered? I can summarize in two words: treatment and promises.

The way we treat our customers should never change. The one on one personal touch, the effort to make certain their needs are taken care of should always come first. When we encounter a prospective customer or an existing one, they need to believe unconditionally, we are glad to help them and are as happy to see them as the first time we met. I did a series of articles not too long ago about the Great Business Experience. In this series I discussed how during the engagement process-or the time we are putting our best foot forward, we pay special attention to demonstrate how much we want a prospect’s new business. I believe we need to continue this level of performance to show existing customer’s how much we appreciate their continued business.

We need to treat our customers just as if our performance depended on winning or losing their business everyday! The way we treat our customers and prospective customers cannot be replaced or short-sided. If we become complacent or try to reinvent the wheel, we are destined to fall.

Finally, the way we value our promises should never change. I remember hearing my granddad say many business deals he made were sealed over a handshake. It was a person’s word, or promise-nothing else was needed. What happened? If we make a promise or a commitment to our customers, it should be just like the handshake my grandfather spoke of-A done deal- You can count on me! Your promise is your “follow through and follow up” on your commitment to those who have chosen you as their provider of choice. Promises made are appealing; Promises kept are priceless

Now its my turn to be the wisdom giver. I stand before you 25 years later and tell you with out reservation, my sales manager was absolutely right! And now, I offer you the same challenge I was given 25 years ago. While the way business is done will change, we must make a personal commitment to never change the way we do business. Even in today’s highly volatile world it is comforting to know that there are still great opportunities for those who proactively demonstrate their commitment to the unchanging elements of great business. I’m ready for the next 25 years and I believe you are too. To prove it?…a simple handshake will do!

Things Change…Things Never Change Part 1

It was almost 25 years ago to the date that I began my career as an entrepreneur straight out of college, ready to set the world on fire, my only problem was I didn’t have a match. I needed a good fire-starter and I found one in an experienced financial services professional named John.

John had been in the business for almost 40 years and to this day, I will never forget one of the first things he ever said to me. “Tim, the way business is done will change greatly between now and when you decide to hang it up…but the way you do business should never change and you need to commit to keeping it that way”. He was right; the ways of conducting business have greatly changed since I began in 1984. There are more things that require attention, more things that require detail than when I first opened the doors of my little financial services practice. See if you can relate to this…

Two “T’s” The New Competition

Competition has changed! I’m not referring to companies or individuals that offer similar services like me, I’m referring to the types of competition; the thing that I must deal with and manage everyday to stay ahead of the game and give myself the “competitive edge”. There are two “T’s” of this new competition. The first is TIME.

Everyone and everything competes for your time. Your existing clients need service and support, your potential prospects require attention. Your staff needs you; Your children and your spouse have needs. Then there are your friends, you social and civic responsibilities! WHEW! If you do not stay ahead of TIME it will control you.

The next “T” of competition is TECHNOLOGY. Now hold on, I am not knocking technology. I use it everyday. I bank online, I purchase things online, I even sell my products and services online. Technology is a great SUPPORT feature to business. What I am saying is that if you offer products and services YOU MUST DEMONSTRATE VALUE in doing business with you. There has to be more than just what is on the account form. There has to be more than the order form and the credit card information located on the website. If we don’t demonstrate value, if we take this competitor for granted, then we may one day surrender to that little electronic box with a screen which can be found in almost every office, and in every home that stands ready to offer our products and services available 24/7 without ever speaking to a human being…without ever speaking to you!

While the list of changes that have taken place over the last 25 years can be exhaustive, it is important to note that there are some things that have never changed and should never change. What worked 50 years ago- still works today and I can assure you will work 50 years from now. Curious to know…? Tune in to part 2 of Things Change…Things Never Change coming soon!

As Your January Goes…So Goes Your Year

I will never forget the first time I heard these words. It was several years ago and I remember them as if they were just spoken. Personally, I have never heard more powerful and accurate words than these seven. I have witnessed and experienced both the benefit and the consequences of being prepared and unprepared for the all important month that happens at the first of every year.

If you are in business for yourself or if you are part of an organization, imagine if you will a giant Etch-a-Sketch (for those not familiar with this devise, it is a toy developed sometime in the 60’s that allowed you to draw and create incredible images in straight line patterns. I loved making stairs!). Back to the point, imagine a giant Etch-a-Sketch that has the picture or the story of your last year. Some parts of the picture are just as you planned and some parts did not turn out exactly as you had planned, nonetheless, there it is, your last year’s production or performance.

Now imagine taking the Etch-a-Sketch and giving it a good shake and suddenly all that was once there is now gone, nothing left of what was, only the tiny dot of promise ready to be utilized again to draw the story of what will be the picture of your new year. Are you ready? Do you know what you want your picture to look like? Do you have what you need to make it happen?

The more prepared you are to begin your next rendering, the more likely your picture (year) will turn out like you want it to. The key is to be ready when it’s time to begin-Thus the importance of your commitment to that first month January.

I have seen many individuals begin to prepare for their year when the year begins. This is poor planning. I knew an individual once who set out to devise his game plan in January only to find himself implementing it in March. Before he knew it, his year did not start until April and he found himself behind the entire year unable to catch up! The key to a great year is to hit the ground running in January. How do you do this? Good question. Here are a few tips.

1) Plan your next year at least in the final quarter of the previous year. Schedule time to review what has gone well, what needs to be adjusted and how to move forward.

2) Have clear goals and objectives. Know what you want and how you will get there. Have an accountability process to keep you focused.

3) Have something waiting for you when you begin. There is no greater feeling than having activity, appointments or opportunities waiting for you when January rolls around. Prospect for these opportunities throughout your previous year!

Some of you may not measure your performance in January. I understand. But I hope you see the point here in that you cannot perform at your highest level if you find yourself struggling to make up for lost time! Stay ahead of the game…stay ahead of the competition!

While your January may seem like you are “starting over” you can impact your start by the way you prepare. Giving yourself a great “boost” to explode in January will create momentum that can carry you throughout your year…because as January goes, so goes your year.

So to all of you reading this article, January IS here! We have many exciting things already in place and if the rest of the year looks anything like our January, we going to have to find a bigger Etch-A-Sketch.

Best wishes for a very successful 2010. Train Up!

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