Pinnacleceo's Take

Experiences put to paper…

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Is the Market Value of Your Commitment Level Going at Sold Out or Close Out Prices?

Market value:  The current price at which someone is willing to pay or someone is willing to invest based upon the immediate value of the service or opportunity.

Let me ask you a question. I want to get right to the point.  Based upon what you know about your commitment level to what you do and those you serve, right now, today, would the price to gain you and what you bring to the table, be going at a high premium , OR… are your efforts going at liquidation prices to recover losses and shut the doors?   

This is a fair question.  It is becoming more and clearer to me that there is a wide disparity of commitment levels in every industry and at every level.  Now I’m not saying things are easy right now, I have had my own share of struggles BUT, I believe it is time to take a good, hard look at what we believe in and what we value and are willing to “stick to” when it comes to our work and working with others. 

I want to discuss the market value of two specific levels of commitment and then if you will allow me, to share my thoughts on the market value of having a job, right now, today.  Here we go!

The market value of the “Sold Out” Commitment:  Have you ever gone somewhere looking for something that you really wanted only to find that many, many others wanted it too, and when you arrived with purchasing power, you discover that there is none left…it has sold out?  If this experience deals with something that you really wanted, you would have gladly paid extra to acquire it and you will not stop until you find it!  Your commitment level can have a “sold out” market value as well.  It is defined in that you believe so passionately in what you do, and you want to see it succeed so badly, that regardless of the obstacles or circumstances, you will not give up, you will not quit until you have exhausted every means to accomplish it.  I am sure you can think of many stories of people in all walks of life who overcame adversities to reach their goals and how these stories inspire you to pursue greatness too.  This is how it should be with our commitment. We should be sold out to the cause so much that it becomes something our co-workers witness in our actions, and our customers experience in our delivery!  A sold out commitment level has a premium market value because of the great worth it offers everyone who comes into contact with it!

How to sustain a “Sold Out” commitment:

Be sure of your cause: Make certain you do your homework and that what you are committing to is worth it.  It is critical to always have the end in mind with any endeavor you pursue. Ask yourself what you want the result to be before you start and then create a plan to get you there.

Keep Score: Consistently know where you are. Be accountable to the end result and each other. When you begin to see results that you are gaining progress or momentum, it fuels your commitment level, but you won’t know this if you don’t keep score.

Patience and Praise the Positives! I must admit this is my weakness.  I have to learn patience every day. I even find myself upset with the microwave! I know, that’s bad…moving on. You have to give your commitment time to nurture your goals and objective. Do not close the door too quickly.  This again can be determined if you are keeping score consistently as described above. 

Finally, make a BIG deal out of positive things.  Celebrate every small success and be sure to include everyone in celebration! Nothing goes further than sustain a long term “sold out” commitment level than sincere recognition of a job well done!

The market value of the “Close Out” Commitment:  When I think of “close out” it reminds me of the commercials I have seen of businesses closing their door, going out of business.  I have even heard the expression  “at going out of business, close-out prices”.  When you hear close out prices, what comes to mind? This means you can probably purchase at really cheap prices. Close out can also mean it becomes so worthless, that if no one wants it, it will be thrown away…ouch!

When the market value of your commitment is going at close out prices, you too may one day find yourself going out of business. Close out simply means that your commitment has determined that the effort is too much to ask, to difficult, or a sense of apathy has taken over your organization, so let’s just do some damage control, get what we can and wait and see.

Signs of a “Close Out” Commitment:

Apathetic Conversations: Statements such as “what difference does it make” or “what’s the use” or especially; “I have been here for 300 years and we have never done it that way before, it would not work then and it will not work now” Sound familiar?  If your organization is filled with comments or attitudes like this, then you are clearly operating in an environment with a “close out”, liquidation price commitment level.

Low energy and performances at the minimum: If your organization has a very low level of effort or each of the members of your team seek only to do the minimum as per the job description, you are drowning in a “close out” commitment level.  If co-workers look to be the last to punch in and the first to punch out, well…I think you get the point.

“Close out”  commitment levels can be remedied, but it must start with you! Be the first to take the initiative on a project.  When someone speaks apathetically, immediately put a positive spin on it, when you see a co-worker doing something above expectation, recognize their effort.  A little bit at a time can go a long way in changing the market value price of your commitment to both your co-workers and your customers!

Finally I want to talk about the market value of being employed RIGHT NOW.  First of all let me say that I truly hope you love your job, BUT you may not.  It is important to understand that even the most perfect job or career, comes with ups and downs.  So with that said, let me get right to my point. If you are gainfully employed and you have the opportunity to get up every morning and earn a paycheck then you are BLESSED!!  I hope you hear this.  I have encountered several people my age who are facing a future that requires them to start over. They are looking for work, any work.  I can’t imagine that thought process.

So let me say to you that if for no other reason than having a secure job, your commitment level should be going at a very high market value.

So there is it. My challenge to you is to take a very good look at your commitment level right now and answer the question I posed to you at the beginning of this writing. Would you or those you work with or serve be offering a premium price for what you bring to the process, or would they be getting you at “close out” prices.   I hope you discover you commitment level going at its highest market value ever, and then soaring even higher!

Promises, Perception and Performance: The Brochure vs. Reality

Not long ago, I wanted to find a nice getaway for me and my spouse and so like everyone does these days; I went to that little black box and searched for what I was looking for.  I found it…I thought.

On the opening page of their electronic brochure it described all the amenities I was looking for; cozy, bed and breakfast style, pool and golf course, perfect; according to the brochure. Based upon the information promoted to me (this is key to this writing), I made the decision to buy and clicked purchase.

Upon arriving at our destination after 4 hours of travel, it became clear that reality was not the same as the brochure.  It was cozy in the fact that the rooms were very small and crunched together, it did have a bed and you could get breakfast at the café across the street, there was a pool but it was not ready for use and finally, I asked about the golf course and was informed that the public course was just a few blocks away.

Now, they did provide everything they said in the brochure, and maybe to some extent, knowing where we were headed, I may have expected too much? Hmmm. However the reality of my experience as to my expectations was a big disappointment; so much so that I am writing about it now.  Obviously, we will never return there and if I am ever asked about the place, you know exactly what I will say.

Companies spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars developing a promotional piece they hope will set them apart, grab the prospects attention to want more and then act upon the perceived value promised in the piece.  It is a huge responsibility that should never be taken lightly.

Not all brochures come in paper form. They are not always found nicely arranged on tables in lobbies or in display cases on desks; yet every organization will have them.  These brochures walk and talk, and encounter those you serve or hope to serve every day. They are your co-workers, teammates and employees; they are the reality of who you are! 

Answer this question. Does every member of your team, every person who represents your organization have the same value and appreciation of customers, clients, or teammates as the owner, manager, the leader…or you?  It is critical you understand that one person has the ability to make or break a relationship.  Do you believe that what your marketing team is selling when promoting who you are is validated at every level and every role within your organization?

I walked into a financial institution once and upon entering, I first noticed a very nice arched shaped desk and sitting behind it was a person whose job I assumed was to greet me.  As I approached her to ask how to speak to the owner, I noticed she was writing a memo or something.  She stopped for a moment, stared at me, then went right back to writing! BOOM! I had to say “excuse me, could you tell me where (owner’s name) can be found.  Without hesitation she POINTED me in the direction of his office.  Here is the point, regardless of what that company’s brochure said, the reality was at that moment I DID NOT MATTER!  Everyone else in that building could have been great to work with but because of one, just one, they will never get the chance to change my reality. 

I am sure you have had similar experiences with the same results. 

Ahh, but the beauty is that it works both ways.  One person, going above and beyond the call of duty creates an image of my reality that positively impacts the entire organization. For you see, because my great experience with one creates the perception that everyone I encounter within your organization will validate my reality in the same way!

In closing here is a checklist regarding the brochure and reality.

  • Be transparent:  No hidden agenda, no fluff, what you see is what you get.
  • Know before you show: Make sure of your message: that is it clear and it is something you can consistently deliver. This is your promise.
  • Create a culture to exceed expectations:  You have heard this time and time again, but make it part of your culture to find opportunities to go above and beyond the stated or the expected. Nothing validates reality more than this
  • Everyone takes ownership.  Perhaps the most critical of all is that everyone at every level has the same positive, dedicated commitment to validating your brochure; that they individually have the power to make or break a great business relationship.

So please take a close look at your brochure to insure when the time comes to prove what you promise, everyone, everything, everywhere is meeting or exceeding not only what is stated in the fine print but in your actions too!

 

 

If You Build It, They Will Come. What every organization can build for long term success.

One of my favorite all-time movies was made it 1988 and yes it is sports related.  It is Field of Dreams.  For those of you not familiar with this classic, let me give you a brief summary.  Kevin Costner plays an Iowa corn farmer who has an unfinished past with his father. The one thing they had in common was baseball.  One day while working in the field Ray (Costner), hears a voice compelling him to “build something” If you know it say it with me…”If you build it, he will come”  I still get chills. Costner followed his instincts and built a baseball field.

To make a long story short, because Costner took action and did something extraordinary he was able to not only mend an important relationship, he also provided a great value for others as well.  Perhaps the greatest scene of the movie was the last one.  As the camera panned across the horizon, you could see cars coming from miles and miles to experience something extraordinary.

While in the movie the key item built was a baseball field.  In business the key item we can build to make sure they will come time and time again, is a bridge.

The bridge of mutual trust:  It should be a given that our customers and potential customers can trust us to take care of them.  If we cannot establish this we are done. But trust works both ways.  For example, how would you feel if one of your customers approached you, and informed you they just purchased something you offer from one of your competitors without giving you the first opportunity?  Why did this happen? Did they not know you offered the product or service? Or, did they not value the relationship enough to think of you first?

When I was a sales manager for a financial services company, an agent walked in my office and was upset after visiting with a client.  He had just delivered a piece of the client’s estate plan only to discover that someone else had filled piece of the plan.  The agent stated to his client that he could have provided that same service and then it happened…some of the most dreaded words your customer or client can ever say to you; “I didn’t know you offered that”. ( As a side note sometimes, we may be afraid to ask for more because we do not want to hear “NO”, but I submit I would much rather hear my client say “No” than hear them say “I didn’t know” . )  Moving on…

Just as damaging to the process is the latter question asked above, did they not value the relationship enough to think of you first?  Let me ask you a question. Are you transaction minded or relationship minded?  Which matters more, the quick sale or the long term relationship?  Are your customers account numbers or individuals with needs you can fill both now and in the future?

The key to understanding the bridge of mutual trust it to understand that relationships are never one sided.  They work both ways.  In order to get from point to point time and time again, there must be a confident pathway to cross.  For you see, the goal is not to cross from need to solution just one time, but to cross time and time again, without thinking about the directions! In summary, if you consistently demonstrate value to customers and clients and prove it unconditionally, you have the right to trust them to give you first opportunity at all their business.  Simply put, if you’ve got it, they get it from you!

Here is the blueprint for building your bridge of mutual trust:

The first “yes’ is just the beginning.  The process to long term success is to understand that when customers and clients sign on the dotted line this does not close the deal, this is just the beginning.  Many times I have seen businesses go above and beyond to gain new accounts and when the deal is finished; quietly slip the customer in a filing cabinet only to be seen or heard from when they make contact (more on this later).  The engagement is over.  If you offer more services than the initial purchase, then you must understand that this is the beginning and you must continue to go above and beyond just as you did to earn the business in the first place!

 

A proactive approach to communication:  I’ll be the first to tell you, this is hard but it is critical to the mutual trust bridge. Ask yourself this question. Is the only time I communicate with my customers and clients is when they contact me?   Several years I was introduced to a very sweet lady who had experienced a very rough time in the investment world.  She had been taken for a ride (that is the only way to put it).  She was scared to death to do anything but circumstances dictated a change in philosophy in order to provide her the income she needed.  She agreed and we placed her funds into some longer term, safe, fixed rate income producing vehicles.  Before the maturity date of our initial purchase, I called her and informed her that her rate was going to drop but was still better that what we could get elsewhere and I wanted to let her know not to be alarmed when she got the letter telling her this news. 

 

Here is the point.  I could have waited until the letter hit her mailbox and waited for my phone to ring and hear her voice say “Did you know my rate was dropping?”   I chose to be proactive and it made all the difference in the world.  FYI, I met Mary in 2001 and still see her at least 4 times a year. 

Now…you may be saying, “Tim, you can’t possibly expect me to do this with every customer. It would be impossible” and I would respond that I understand completely. Not all of my clients require this level of communication as described above, but if I promised it, I must and I will deliver it.  What I am saying is this; you and your organization should have the mentality to be proactive as best you can with those you serve.  While the approach to proactive may be different, the mentality and commitment to implement is not…it is by CHOICE.

So there you have it; the most important thing you can build to sustain your business and the critical components to building you mutual bridge of trust.  Remember relationships like trust work both ways and to end this article I leave you with a line from “Field of Dreams”  that says what I believe you will experience time and time again by building the extraordinary…”People will come Ray, people will most definitely come!”

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