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Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Getting What You’re Worth? Prove it!

October 19th, 2009

The other day I was listening to a guy complaining that he wasn’t getting paid everything he felt he was worth. I finally got sick of hearing him whine and so I called him out on it. It doesn’t matter what you think you are worth. The primary factor in your pay is what the person paying you thinks you are worth. If you have a boss, what are you doing to prove your worth to him or her? If you are a salesman, what are you doing to demonstrate the VALUE of what you sell? If you are a business owner, what are you doing on a consistant basis to PROVE that what you provide is worth MORE than what you are asking for it?

What have you done TODAY to prove your worth to the world? For more than seven years I’ve written a monthly column called The Business of Magic in a trade journal for magicians called The Linking Ring. That is a volunteer position that I have faithfully delivered on for almost 100 consecutive articles all for the simple opportunity to demonstrate my value as a writer, as a marketing consultant, and as someone who delivers on a promise consistantly over time. For almost that long I’ve been contributing to this blog and producing a periodic e-newsletter, again simply as a method of demonstrating my value as a professional speaker and expert on human behavior change.

When I first founded the company that is now called “Library Rat” there were times early on in the business when I would go do shows myself that I couldn’t pay anyone else in my company to do because the mileage covered would be more than we made in total fees for that one simple show. But I knew that when we got into that new marketplace and demonstrated value that we would have the toe hold we needed to grow into the most successful provider of school assembly programs in the state of Texas. Any very successful person can tell you stories about various times in their life when they had to work particularly hard for little or no compensation other than the chance to demonstrate the value of what they were working on.

We are in a sluggish economy right now. Almost everyone is feeling it at some level. Money is still there. Money is still being spent. But buyers feel a stronger need to ensure they are getting the value they are paying for. If you don’t feel that you are getting as much money as you deserve it might be because you are failing to demonstrate sufficient value. Think about ways to demonstrate and prove your value to the people paying. Think about ways to increase the value of what you do.

HINT: The things you do that you THINK create value are almost never the things that your customers and clients think are valuable. It’s the old “Features vs. Benefits” argument. Know that your customers don’t care if the table is made of 5/8″ solid mahogany planks treated with an impermiable solution of blah-blah-blah. All they care about is that the table is strong and it will clean up easily even if their kid colors on it with a green crayon. People are rarely concerned with the clever details you find so facinating unless you take the time to explain how these details actually add value for them. Buyers never care about how DIFFICULT something is for you to do, they only care about the finished solution and how quickly and effectively it solves their problems or makes their life easier.

So I’ve seen two responses to the sputtering economy. There are businesses (and employees) who have dealt with the lower sales by cutting corners, reducing quality, and delivering with an attitude of pessimism. There are also businesses and employees that have heard the wake up call and are paying even more attention to the customers they have, doing everything they can to ensure the satisfaction and happiness of the people who deliver money to them and their business. Today is filled with opportunities to begin demonstrating value. What are you going to do today?

Customer Service, Down Economy, Success

Are you a Hunter or a Farmer?

March 18th, 2009

There is a certain romance to the “hunter/gatherer” lifestyle. You wake up in the morning not knowing exactly what you’ll eat, or even IF you will eat. It is only through your skill and determination that you are able to put food on the table each day.

But if you can get past the need to have that sort of drama in your life, the farming lifestyle has a lot to offer. A farmer wakes up and with almost complete certainty know EXACTLY what he is going to eat and exactly how much of it. A farmer has almost complete control over which crops he grows, which animals he raises, and how many of them he decides to take care of. In other words: fate, destiny, luck, and fear have little place in a farmer’s life, at least significantly less than in the life of a hunter.

I’m not talking about REAL farming or hunting. I’m talking about how you run your business. You can run it like a hunter, where each day you have to set your sights on a new prospect and hope that you are able to make the close. If you spend a disproportionate amount of your time marketing then you are probably a hunter. If you have to constantly revise your marketing materials you are probably a hunter.

Farmers on the other hand sow their seeds and then watch as handfuls of seeds explode over time and become enough food to fill a grain silo. When every job you do systematically and automatically turns into two, three, five, or ten additional jobs (through referrals, repeats, and word of mouth), then you are a farmer. If your marketing expenses keep dropping year after year and your income keeps growing by at least 20% each year, then you are probably a farmer.

I’ve had the good fortune of working with several excellent business owners who kept their bank vaults full because they were great hunters. But once I showed them how to become great farmers, their worlds were changed just as dramatically as when mankind left the Stone Age to begin the transition to modern society.

Farmers would NEVER allow their family to eat seed, no matter how hungry they were. To eat the seed is to doom your family to hunger. Instead that seed is put into the ground where it is tended, kept, watched over. The dirt is watered, and fertilized, and weeds are pulled. In short, there is a lot of effort up front and not a whole lot of payback in the beginning.

But we are coming into a time where many people have more time on their hands than they used to. Use this to your advantage. Begin building the systems into your business that allow you to grow and provide more to your customers and clients. I’ve got some very specific examples, including several interesting twists that are happening in my own business that I’ll be sharing with you in the next issue. Stay tuned!!

Customer Service, Marketing