Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Noble Profession

I had a front row seat today, as I witnessed my Son's first transaction as a professional salesman. Yes, he closed the deal... and, yes I was his first customer... For the record, I was not a lay-down. He had to work hard for my business (probably harder than with a 'normal' customer), and he definitely earned it. I could not be prouder than I am of him today... as he follows in my footsteps in the Noble Profession of Sales.

There are too many noble professions to list (military, medical, public safety, education, not-for-profit, etc.) Rarely, however, is Sales ever included in this group... despite it being the Lifeblood of the world's economy and everything we have accomplished. Simply put, without Sales... mankind would be nothing more than isolated hunters & farmers.

The profession of Sales has a deserved reputation of sometimes being something much less than noble (because of the countless individuals & organizations who abuse their customers). However, I am proud to announce that there is another addition to the world's sales force that is and will continue to do it The Right Way!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Death of Retail – Part I

I noticed a new tombstone as I walked thru a graveyard yesterday… Actually, it was my local mall, but it sure looked and felt like a graveyard: rows of closed or empty (dead or dying) retailers as far as the eye could see… It was the perfect place to go to pay my last respects to a long-time friend… and an even better place to buy overpriced apparel & jewelry.

The beautiful new tombstone was a fully stocked, completely automated kiosk. This tribute to technology was another sign of the death of retail (as we have known it)… not because consumers prefer to do business with a machine over interacting with a human being… but because most of the surviving retailers are doing their best to eliminate the difference.

Fewer sales people… less training… more self checkout stands… worse customer service… Most retailers are racing toward the cliffs of extinction… and continue to be surprised when they fly over the edge.

An automatic kiosk is the preferred option… only when walking into a ‘real’ store provides little or no Value. As retailers pretend to increase profits by cutting expenses, the only ones who will delay their funeral will be those who leverage their Human Advantage. What are you doing to provide Value to your customers?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"You Are Not Important... Yet!"

Another business refused to take my money today… at least for a while. I was standing out front of that business for 10 minutes waiting for it to open. I could see employees behind locked doors scurrying about trying to finish their ‘urgent’ last-minute tasks. Occasionally, someone would glance up and look at me (as I waited outside to give them my money)… Never did they greet me… Never did they even acknowledge me.

Poet, author and African American ‘treasure’, Maya Angelou one said, “If someone shows you who they are… Believe Them!” In other words, “Talk is Cheap!” Don’t tell me that I am a valued customer… show me. Don’t say that you appreciate my business… show me.

When I managed retail stores during the early part of my career, I instructed my staff to always let customers into the store if they arrived before business hours. We showed our appreciation and how much we Valued their business by making them our priority… not some task that could be done later.

What are your actions telling others?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I Choose!

I drove over a nail on the freeway yesterday… on my way to give an important presentation. Here is how I chose to feel about what happened to me:

  • I felt lucky that my tire did not go flat on the freeway… (I made it to my destination in time for my special event).
  • I felt fortunate that I discovered my flat during an unplanned quick trip to put something in my car.
  • I felt thankful that everything took place during broad daylight… instead of in the darkness of night (when I was scheduled to use my car to get home).
  • I felt happy to have a working spare tire.
  • I felt relieved to have emergency roadside service (but chose not to use it).
  • I felt capable to know how to fix a flat tire (and I quickly did so because that was my desired option).
  • I felt Blessed that the flat happened to me instead of my son (who traveled in a separate car to the same event).
  • I felt prepared that I had my camera with me to capture the event.

No situation or person can make me feel anything… I choose how to feel!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Good Things Come to Those Who Wait"

Don’t believe the statement: "Good things come to those who wait."  

Otherwise, you’ll be as bad as people who think like this:

“I need a job!  I’ll just stay here in front of my computer… and wait for the phone to ring.”

“I need customers!  I’ll just open my business… and wait for them to find me.”

“I need a world-class team!  I’ll just hire the best people I can find… and wait for them to improve on their own.”

“I need to be more successful!  I’ll just continue doing what I’m doing… and wait for things to change.”

You can decide to take control of your situation and create your own destiny or... you could wait.  It's up to you.

Monday, June 1, 2009

"It's NOT The Club!"

Rumor has it that many years ago Vijay Singh (former #1 professional golfer in the world) was playing in a ProAm tournament.  An amateur golfer was given the privilege of playing a round with this world-class athlete.

As the story goes, after the first shot, the amateur approached the pro and asked, “Vijay, Vijay!  What club was that?”… and after the next shot… “Vijay, Vijay!  What club was that?”  This continued shot after shot… hole after hole… Vijay apparently answered each question politely… but, eventually he couldn’t take it any more.  Not because the questions were a nuisance, but because the guy was completely missing the point.

After Vijay’s next shot, the amateur asked, “Vijay, Vijay! What club was that?”  Vijay didn’t answer…  Instead he asked the man to hand him the 9 iron.  Vijay proceeded to hit the ball 10 feet from the hole.  He then asked for the 7 iron.  Vijay hit the ball 12 feet from the hole.  Finally, he asked for a pitching wedge.  Vijay hit the ball 5 feet from the hole…  He turned to the man, and quietly said, “It’s not the club.”

Regardless of the discipline: sports, music, the arts, communication, etc… it’s never just WHAT tools you use… it’s HOW you use them that makes the difference.