Characteristics of Successful Companies

I’ve had the privilege of visiting dozens of small businesses and interacting with hundreds. I’ve learned to pay close attention to what I see, wanting both to help out where I see opportunities, and to steal shamelessly what I can for my own business! Here are what I’ve seen as the top two characteristics among these companies. You’ll have revisit my blog for the rest of the top ten list later…

1. Urgency. Companies that succeed recognize that a customer looking for service has many options. If we should be so lucky as to get called on for that service, we must move mountains to get that customer taken care of immediately. This is the case for the companies pushing $20 and $30 million as it is for those with $1 or $2 million. Urgency communicates empathy, professionalism and a deep understanding of a customers potential apprehension in calling.

2. Training. If you are deliver this level of urgency to your customers, the next natural need is for diverse, consistent and frequent ongoing training. Through constant repetition of the goals and values, the vision of the company begins to set into the behaviours of the people. Through specific, reproducible systems those behaviours shape every customer’s experience from first contact through to final follow up.

Don’t be fooled, these two things don’t come easy and they don’t come cheap. A company that establishes urgency and training as a way of life has committed to an investment of resources. That investment shows up as extreme customer satisfaction and loyalty, but it requires time, energy and money to start the ball rolling and keep it going.

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Getting Unstuck

Flying 30,000 feet somewhere over Mississippi and taking advantage of inflight internet. I’ve recently read Bryan Tracy’s book, No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline. In it, he talks about a special island he calls “Someday Isle”. Allow me to paraphrase his thoughts. Someday Isle is a place where procrastinators live. It’s where great ideas go, fester and die. It’s where dreams get parked and never get moving again. It sounds like this:

“Someday I’ll…get that dream job, start that blog, get married, have kids, volunteer, change my facebook profile picture, stop smoking, travel the world, change my underwear, etc, etc, etc.”

I would venture to say that Someday Isle is vastly populated. I bet you’ve been there, perhaps even live there now. The question is how in the world do I get off Someday Isle? How do I get my plans unstuck and begin moving down the path I’ve been wishing on for far too long? Here are a couple of ideas that might help.

  • Write it down. Something happens when you write your plans down. So start writing. Don’t let “write it down” get to Someday Isle too! Write you plans and goals, and give them realistic dates. Tracey says that 3% of the world has written goals. Is it any wonder that the island is so densely populated?
  • Plant a stake in the ground. Envision your goal completed. Get clear on what that picture looks like in your mind. Then imagine that picture is a stake you can drive into the ground to mark your destination. Put that stake out in front of you – it doesn’t matter how far out it is. Now start walking towards that stake. You may not make it there in a day, but you’ll be surprised how quick you’ll begin to see your goals come around. When you get off track, just find your stake, correct course and keep walking. It doesn’t have to be a straight line from where you are to where you are going. Walk left, walk left, slow down, speed up — it’s all good. Just don’t stop moving!
  • Plant reminders. The worst thing about dreams and goals is that they spend a lot of time in our subconscious but not much time front and center in our conscious thought. So, once you’ve written them and created a picture, plant some reminders where you’ll see them from time to time. A little sticky note with a couple of words can help. Attach it to a credit card you seldom use. Then, when you pull it out, whammy, the reminder smacks you up side the head. Plant reminders in your calendar so that they pop up on days you wouldn’t otherwise have thought about it. The key with this is to plant another reminder when you get the first one. Change it up, get creative and don’t let yourself forget! I’ve been doing this for years. I have reminders that have been popping up since about 1998 when I got my first US Robotics Palm 1000. Amazingly, many of those goals have been realized and they keep on growing! I’ve had to move the stake several times.

Hope that helps. See you someday. Now go change your underwear.

~Dan

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No Excuses

There are two kinds of people in the world, those give reasons, and those who give results. When I consider the new year and where I want to be going, I realize that I have been among the former group in 2010. I had a lot of reasons, some really great ones too, why things went the way they did. The trouble with focusing on reasons is that you become of victim of history. Reasons are, afterall, reflective in nature. So take your eye off the past for a moment and start to build the future with a results focus. When you do that, you’ll find that you can stop making excuses, and start getting to where you really want to go. Here are three quick and easy steps to a life without excuses:

1. You did it. Accept it, and move on. When you blame others you fall into the trap of waiting for them to do something before you can. Yes, there are outside influences. No, they don’t have to run your life (unless you permit them to). You did it. No excuses.

2. You must do it. In the same way as accepting responsibility for the past, you must accept responsibility for the future. Everything you will do in the future will be a direct result of your own action or inaction. Tough decisions must be made and you must make them. No excuses.

3. Red cars don’t fall out of the sky. Gee, thanks for that, Dan! Follow this: Ask yourself how many red cars you drove by on the way to work. Can’t answer, can you? However, if I task you with counting red cars on the way to work, you’ll be amazing at how many you see, and you’ll see ALL of them. Why? Did red cars fall out of the sky? No, you just chose to see them and your brain magically did what it’s programmed to do and found them. Success, like red cars, will not fall out of the sky. It’s out there, and if you look for it, your brain will magically do what it’s programmed to do and find it. Pay attention to your focus, padawan. You’ll find the object of your focus. Success, failure, or excuses.

No Excuses. Happy New Year. Go find some red cars.

~Dan

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Sales 101 – Lessons from a 3 year old

I travel internationally and teach sales and service to thousands. One of the key themes I teach about is the art of sales. My three year old sweetheart, Elizabeth, has evidently been paying close attention — or it just comes naturally.

My baby girl

A recent conversation between Tina (my wife, Ellie’s mother) and Ellie went something like this:

“Mommy, what yours favorite ice keem is?”

“I like Breyers Vanilla Bean, Sweetie.”

“Me likes it too, Mommy.”

“That’s nice, Ellie.”

“You want to have some ice keem, Mommy?”

Sales 101, lesson 1: Always start with your customers wants and needs. How is it that I have to travel to all ends of the earth to teach this to grown ups, when a three year old just inherently understands it?

Some other keys to be gleaned from this brief interaction:

  • Don’t persuade, uncover! Instead of hard selling try to uncover your client’s wants/needs and they’ll be much more willing to buy.
  • Common interests must be sincere. You can’t fake interest in your client. If your really interested, it will be obvious.
  • Don’t just go for the kill! Spending time with your client will invariably surface real issues.
  • Stop selling. When you stop focusing on your own need to sell, you’ll find out that you’re just matching your products and services to their wants/needs.

The burning question you’re all still faced with: Did Ellie get the ice keem? Well, Tina wasn’t born yesterday! No, she did not get ice keem (at least not until after lunch) and you can bet that she has since adapted her approach to increase her odds of closing the deal. ¬†Hmmm. Maybe we just stumbled onto Lesson 2…

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Business Leadership – Telescopes and Microscopes

Most business leaders fall into one of two leadership styles. They either focus on the long range vision and ignore all the details leading there, or they are so focused on the immediate details that they can’t see the long range. Which are you?

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Tribute to Nexstar’s Beloved Marla

Change is tough in any organization because of the level of impact it has on people. People are the driving force behind any great organization, and the Nexstar Network is no exception. Of the many changes this tremendous group of independent contractors has seen, the departure of our dear Marla Coffin is among the most difficult.

Marla has served tirelessly for 15 years, and her quiet persistence has impacted literally thousands. I’m a member of Nexstar and a trainer. I’ve learned¬†that Marla is the kind of person that is always standing solidly in your corner, cheering you on. Her humility sets you at ease. Her strength gives you wings. You’ll succeed because of her, and she’ll smile and pat you on the back, cheering you on for your next challenge.

Thank you Marla for all you’ve contributed to the membership. We will miss you. Our prayers are with you as you and Phil set out on this next, exciting chapter of your life.

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Customer Service: What to work on first

It’s been a while, but I’m back! Here to talk about the law of primacy and recency. Enjoy!
Special thanks to Cindy Pautzke at Participant Centered Results! http://www.participantcenteredresults.com/
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