Pinnacleceo's Take

Experiences put to paper…

Archive for the month “February, 2010”

It’s Your Move

I discovered this great little game in college called Tetris (okay, I still play it today) and through countless hours of playing it, ah…studying it, I have discovered a secret that has application to the way we develop business. Are you curious? Here we go.

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, let me give you an overview. The object is to complete a series of straight lines from a variety of shapes that fall from the top of the screen to the bottom and continue to do so, never allowing the shapes to accumulate in incomplete rows that fill to the top of the screen thus ending the game. The longer you can continue to build straight lines at the bottom, the longer you play and the more points you accumulate.

There is a catch however. The longer you play the game the faster the shapes fall from the top thus making the decision time as to where you wish to place the shape much more shorter and more costly if you make the wrong move. I think you get the picture.
Here are a few thoughts to ponder:

1. The obvious move is not always the best move. There are moments when at first glance, the choice is obvious. It seems to “speak” to you only to find that the next shape would have been a better fit. The application as it pertains to business development is simply make certain you have analyzed all the angles before you make that final decision. Sometimes what seems obvious is only obvious at the moment and without proper evaluation can do more harm than good in the long run.

2. Momentum follows the right decisions-Destruction follows the wrong ones. It is interesting but as you progress in the game, the computer seems to sense when you have a grasp on making the right decision and the perfect shape to fit in the perfect space just seems to appear! This can go on and on BUT at the same time the game also senses when you are struggling and tends to drag you further down as wrong choices begin to quickly pile up. The application here is as you make the right choices about your business, momentum will follow. You will discover more opportunities when you are looking for them. You will gain greater customer satisfaction when you choose to focus great customer service and so on…Likewise, when we make poor decisions, they too create a momentum-a landslide affect that drives you deeper and deeper into destruction. When you ignore customers they will leave, when you take for granted your staff and employees, they will become complacent about their jobs and before you know it, you find yourself in an “unrecoverable” position. Let’s get off this negative thought and back to the game!

3. Determine your next move by what’s coming next. One of the great features of Tetris is that while the current shape is falling from the sky, the next one appears in a small box, thus allowing you to determine not only where the current one best fits, but also where the next one should go. Because you can see what’s next, you can make a wise decision both now and in the future. Isn’t that cool? And the business application…You can determine what direction you need to go now and in the future if you simply pay attention to what lies ahead. What is the marketplace asking for? W hat are your competitors doing; what is your strategy for getting you message out? What does our next upgrade look like? On and on.

4. Success is addicting. When you begin to “master” the game, you begin to feel you can push yourself to get even more. It becomes a challenge to improve and get better and it gets FUN. Your business should be like this. When you begin to master your processes, when you begin to see results from your hard work, it challenges you to get better and keep success going. Success can be addicting.

I hope you enjoyed these parallels between a good old computer game and business development. It is amazing what you can learn from simple concepts. So now that you know the rules, what to look for, how to plan ahead and how to keep momentum in you favor; Go ahead…it’s your move!

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Swing The Bat!

So, if you have been to our website http://www.pinnacletraininggroup.com (little promo here), you can quite easily see I am a huge baseball fan. We have built several training modules around the theme of keeping your eye on the ball, or staying focused. As I write this article, I find myself right at the beginning of my son’s high school baseball season and the other evening at one of his games, I had one of those moments where I identified how a proactive business owner or staff member’s mentality should mirror a great hitter’s mentality. Are you curious?

Batters live by the numbers. They love them when they are hitting good, not quite so much when they are not. The thing about numbers; they don’t lie. An interesting dilemma about batting is you are afforded the opportunity to fail more than you succeed yet still be highly successful. (I hope you got that as it is the point to this article!) Think about this, only a rare handful of professional league hitters have a batting average of .400. What this means is that for every ten times they go to bat, they hit successfully four. Financially, a player who consistently hits close to .400 year in and year out will make millions and millions dollars!

Now to the point. Let me ask you a question. Do you believe that a player who bats .400 that has batted 4 times in one game and has hit successfully each time, the next time his name is called, has the attitude that his hits are all used up and determines in his mind that the numbers are now against him and asks if he can sit this one out? OF COURSE NOT! This player expects to hit every time! There is no reason to go up to the plate if you do not expect that you are going to hit every time. Swing the bat!

What a lesson for us in business relationship building. Every time we ask for a prospect to become a customer or client, we expect it. Every time we cross-sell or promote additional services in the right way, we expect acceptance and every time we ask for a referral because of our great service, we believe we will gain one. Now I know you are aware that we will never bat .1000 percent or be successful every time, but just think of what would happen to your business relationship building if you were successful 4 or even 3 out of every ten times. Look at what this would do for your company not only from the profits it would generate, but also from the relationships it would strengthen. It’s a win-win situation!

So here’s my challenge to you. If you believe your business is the best choice; if you have great service; and if you believe your products and services will make people’s lives better, then step up to the plate and swing the bat. Take advantage of every opportunity and expect to succeed every time. But remember, if you “hit” 3 to 4 every 10 times you swing the bat, you will be a champion organization in the highly competitive world of business building! The game is on, your name has been called “Batter up!”

What’s On Your Business Card

If you watch television at all you have probably seen the commercial put out by Capital One asking “What’s in your wallet? I interpret this as asking me the consumer, if I have the best representation I can have regarding the services they offer. Let’s take this question a little further and allow me to ask you what’s on your business card?

I enjoy getting business cards from people that I meet. I am amazed at the various styles, shapes and colors you can present on such a small piece of glorified paper. Business cards are perhaps one of the best networking and promotion tools you can possess. Think about it, you meet someone, you discover that there are opportunities to work together or create new synergy, you discuss what to do next, shake hands and give the only tangible thing they will remember you by until the next time you meet. Looking at your representation in this light puts another perspective on it doesn’t it.

I met a man once who handed me his business card and it provided the usual information with the exception of his title. Here it simply read “Solutions Provider”. Naturally it made me ask “what kind of solutions”, and he told me he helped people find solutions regarding their home furnishings one family at a time. I realize we can’t all put that on our business cards but, I think you would agree, what a unique way to promote one’s services.

In one of our training sessions we ask this question; State your name, how long you have worked here and what you do. The first two are easy, the last one is not. At this point we hear things like VP of R&D, Associate Director of Marketing, RSM, RFC and E I E I O (not really, that’s the tune to Old McDonald). Please do not get me wrong, you have worked hard for your title and are very deserving of what it represents, but what does that say to your customers? What does an RSM do? I know you don’t have room on such a small piece of literature to put how you can make peoples lives better, but I would love to have my business card read Tim D.Tivis Pinnacle Training Group and directly under my name the words: Helping Companies Find Solutions and Maximize Potential One Client at a Time! So, if given the opportunity and the space to say what you are really about, what would you want on your business card?

And here is another thought to consider regarding our business card. All of us own one! Regardless of whether you possess a small 3.5 inch by 2 inch glossy card or not, you do have a business card. You use it everyday! It tells who you are. It informs of your accessibility and availability to customers and potential customers on exactly what you do and your desire to help them meet needs and goals. It is displayed through your culture and personal performance in the workplace.

So regardless of the style of business card you use, again I ask, what is on your business card? Does it convey what you want it to? I suggest you take a close look to be certain it represents you accurately; not only from what you see on the printed form…but also from what you see in the mirror.

That Little Extra

Several years ago while working as a sales manager for a major financial services organization, part of my duties was to travel from my city of Lubbock Texas to Wichita Falls Texas. For those who are familiar with the area you can identify when I say it is 215 miles of interesting travel. In other words, there is not much between here and there. In preparing for this trip, I had a very specific routine which consisted of selecting a fast food establishment and pulling through the drive up and ordering a cup of coffee. I would place my order for a large coffee and the attendant would ask if I wanted cream. I replied that I did and then next question I was asked was how many. I said two and was then instructed to pull forward. I handed the attendant my $1.39 and in exchange I received a large coffee with a lid. Sitting nicely on the lid were two small containers of cream. I pulled out of the drive through and being in a hurry to get out of town, I attempted to pour the cream in the coffee while driving. You know what happened…coffee went everywhere including my light gray suit pants. I did not have time to change pants so when I arrived in Wichita Falls, my entire day went as follow: “Hello, my name is Tim Tivis, please excuse my suit pants!”

The following month when it was time to go to Wichita Falls, I selected a different fast food establishment; same routine. I ordered a large coffee and was asked if I wanted cream. I said yes, the attendant asked how many and I replied two. I pulled to the window, paid my $1.39 only this time I was handed a coffee cup but no cream. You know what I asked, “Where’s the cream?” Guess what I heard? “It’s in the coffee”. WOW! Now the world did not stop spinning just because someone took ten seconds to add that little extra, but you can imagine where I went from that day on to get my coffee.

Adding that little extra can earn incredible dividends for your business if practiced consistently. The key is consistency. I understand that sometimes you may not be afforded the time to provide that little extra. Customers may be lined up out in the street and it takes all you can do to service them. Take heart, the key to that little extra is the consistent effort and commitment to providing it. I submit to you that you will have greater customer satisfaction if they perceive your efforts in providing that little extra rather than not attempting it at all.
So the next time you are interacting with your valuable customer or client remember what that little extra says. Take the time to do more than expected. Make sure the coffee is nice and hot and above all else don’t forget the cream! TRAIN UP!

The Great Business Experience…The Exit Act 3

We are now ready to view the final scene of our performance of “ The Great Business Experience. We have to this point, experienced the impact of decisions and evaluations made from the engagement and the exchange of both the customer and the provider. The encounter thus far has led us to this final scene where the customer or client is preparing to leave the confines of our business experience. What happens next sets the stage to reinforce everything that has been accomplished in anticipation for our customers’ favorable RETURN…a successful exit

(Scene opens with a critical observation.) Many times in product and service delivery, we (myself included) sometimes take the approach that the transaction or the experience ends when the deal is made. Quite the contrary, It is the BEGINNING. Often during the engagement and the exchange we do all we can (remember best foot forward) to gain the business. We follow up on questions, we reply in a timely manner, we do above what is expected to GAIN the business. The customer believes from this performance, their business is wanted! THEN something strange happens, the customer signs on the dotted line so to speak and we file them away in our existing customer file and immediately begin to seek new business again. We categorize them as someone now that is “a done deal” and if they want more from us, it is up to them to ask. Don’t get me wrong, we always want new business but let us never forget those who gave us the opportunity to create their great business experience! Remember, they chose us. This reinforcement begins at the conclusion of the transaction or the exit. (crowd sighs AHHH!)

I have a great friend who is a physician here in my city. He is very successful. At last count he had over 2500 patients! He has an incredible reputation for his knowledge of medicine but he is regarded as highly for his great people skills. Dr. O has a great exit routine. After a new patient’s first visit with him, he personally telephones them that evening to make sure they got their medicine and hopes they feel better soon! WOW! Do you think that has anything to do with his practice having over 2500 patients? (Crowd applauds vigorously) You see, Dr. O. does not believe the deal is done at the diagnosis, he see it beyond that… to make sure what has been done works!

The exit is the REINFORCEMENT of all the decisions made during “The Great Business Experience”. It demonstrates to your customers that you want to make certain their needs are met, a solution has been provided AND if there is anything more, you stand ready to serve even after the deal is done or the check has cleared!

Reinforcement of the deal comes in many forms. It is the follow up phone call like Dr. O makes. It is the proactive approach that conveys to your customer if anything is not exactly as it was explained, you stand ready to make it so. You stand behind your promise. It is the fact that if you are not available to personally assist them on any issue, ANYONE in your organization will treat them with the same attention as you would. Reinforcement says if you promise to call back by 4:00 p.m. you call back by 4:00 p.m. even if you don’t have an answer. If you have additional locations, reinforcement says if you visit any other location, your business will be as highly regarded as it is here. WHEW!

The power of the exit is remarkable. Customers leave energized as much or more so than when they walked in your door or met with you at their office. There is no “buyers’ remorse” here. You just proved that. This exit approach clearly proves you want your customers to return, to give you yet another chance to provide a “Great Business Experience” for BOTH of you!! (Crowd cheers loudly!)

The “Great Business Experience: The Engagement, The Exchange and The Exit” is a process that works, and the beauty of it is that it can happen over and over again everyday! It can be the longest successful running performance of your business life. Customers are cheering your praise…they are requesting and encore…Are you ready? The curtain is rising, an opportunity is waiting…time to perform again. (Standing ovation)

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