Tag Archives: performance

Clean up your act… (or else)

For those of you who ignored my rage against the fad of making New Years resolutions, I say “bravo”…  Sure it’s a mindless waste of time to commit to an important goal for just a few months, but you already knew that.

All rage aside, I have goals for my life and most of you do too.    I have to think you wouldn’t continue to hang out here at The DEW View if you didn’t want more from your life.  I tend to be pretty annoying.

(By the way, I hope several of you made resolutions just because I told you, you shouldn’t…)

So back to goals….

We all have them and we all would say that we want our goals to work out.  The reality is that you can have what you want. Your goals really can happen…

You just need to clean up your act.

Here’s a fun fact for you: You guy’s don’t need me to tell you how to be successful.  Most of us know what to do to be productive people.

  • We know that we need to prioritize better…
  • We know that we need to manage our time more effectively…
  • We know that we need to be more disciplined…

Right?  So why don’t we?

I think it has a little to do with how I spent my weekend:

I have had the house to myself for the past few weeks and with two boys and a maddenly busy schedule, things get sloppy.  Despite the pics you see of me on Facebook and elsewhere with my hair uncombed and collar pushed up, I am kind of a neat freak.   It doesn’t hurt that I grew up with a mom that made me clean the toilets and polish the sinks each more morning before I went to school.

So I went back to my roots and decided to get the house back in shape – bathrooms, hard word floors, and carpets.  And it wasn’t easy.  For starters, I couldn’t find the supplies.  I mean, isn’t there supposed to be a caddie thing with all the sprays and soaps and stuff?  Where is it?

I couldn’t find it.

I made a trip to Wal-Mart with the boys to rectify the situation.  Forty-five minutes later, a bucket, a mop, soap stuffs, a little green duster, and a pair of elbow-length pink gloves later, I hit the scene like Saturday night at the movies.

It was nasty. I won’t go into detail here because it will likely reduce my readership quite dramatically.  It will suffice to say that things got sudsy in a hurry.

And about four hours later, the house looked better.  It still needs a professional though…..

Here is my observation.  I could have the most beautiful house in the world, but without periodic cleaning, it’s going to get pretty nasty, pretty quick.

That’s exactly what happens to your goals.

Your sales goals for this quarter.  Your commission goals for this year.  Your 3-year plan for conquering the world.

What starts in January as beautiful and full of delight turns into a March disaster, June denial, and November depression

Along the way your goals get dusty, dirty, and downright nasty.  What’s started out nice and beautiful quickly becomes something you can’t stand to be around.  They stink.

“And when your goals stink, they start to rub off on you…”

So what am I saying?

  1. Donate regular time to clean up bad habits that limit your potential…
  2. Spend effort shining up new talents and skills…
  3. Soak up any advice you can get from great books, bios, and magazine articles…
  4. Don’t let failure and negativity leave scum on your beliefs…

So clean up your act!

It’s not me being a jerk; it’s your best chance of changing the world.

(I need to take my advice with this one too…)

What do you think? 

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Yep… your New Year resolutions are worthless.

It’s that time of year again where we take stock of our poor performance from last year and write down blissful wishes for what we want to make happen this year.

It actually a pretty worthless activity…

From joining a new gym to going to church more to drinking less — whatever you resolve come New Years has a 78% chance of ultimately failing.  That’s almost everybody!

I didn’t make that up.  That’s what a recent international study of almost a thousand people indicated.

Just like we have been trained to do nice things for people around Christmas even though we act like inconsiderate jerks the rest of the year, so we have also trained ourselves to pause ever so briefly at the beginning of each year to wish we could do a few things differently in the coming year.

And it’s a worthless waste of time for 8 out of 10 of us.

And while I am on the subject, why are we still talking about 3-year and 5-year plans when we can’t get this yearly thing figured out?  Seems like a bunch of silly nonsense.

Seriously, are we committed to real change? Real sacrificial “it hurts like hell” change.

We don’t even apply the same level of respect to our own goals as we do the dudes we watch on ESPN.

We respect an obsessive work ethic that makes an all star like Michael Jordan sink 100 free-throws in a row before leaving practice.  We marvel at the obscene practice put in by perfectionists like Tiger Woods who practice distance putting at 3 and 10 foot intervals for hours a day.

And yet when it comes to putting in a little more effort for ourselves, we tend to be the first to come up with excuses (good ones too).  And the older we get, the more experience we gain explaining why our failure was really a good thing.

Aren’t you tired of mediocrity?  Of being an “almost all-star”?

Are you willing to do something about it?  To change?

Are you willing to:

  1. Connect your goal with a larger mision in life… (turn “making more money” into “helping a small company flourish”)
  2. Construct your goal into a series of smaller monthly milestones… (turn big deadlines into a series of progressive tasks)

If so, you might be ready to see breakthrough this year.  This might be the year of YOU… ALL of the 22% who accomplished their annual goals noted that these two were the two primary drivers for their success — passion and planning.

It’s amazing what you can do when you really want something more for yourself.

You might just change the world.

Who Convinced us to Trade MORE for MERRIER?

Parties…  You love going to them.  What’s even better — you love getting that late minute call to go crash your buddy’s friend’s pad to join in the “uninvited”  festivities.

You can’t have hosted a party more than once in the past two millenia without a buddy asked you if he could bring some other dudes to the event.

It goes down a little like this:

YOU: Hey, I am throwing a little party at my place tomorrow night.  You wanna swing by?

BUDDY: Awesome.  I’ll bring some beers.  By the way, do you mind if I invite the other guys?

YOU: Sure.  No worries.  The more the merrier…

What came of this?

I will tell you.  Good times were had by all!

You had more people show up.  Things got louder.  And you didn’t find yourself talking to only that one person in the corner all night.  There was more of everything.  It got crazier.  And people probably had fun.

Back in Virginia, our house got to be called “Schmidty City” because of the memorable happenings that went down.  (Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stop that picture from floating around the interwebs of me wearing a pink tube-top…)

Let’s get serious for a second.  Especially as we think about closing out the year.

“MORE” works for parties — not for closing business deals.

For all the opposite reasons that chaos is the key to a great party, it’s the death of a business deal.

So avoid it…  Stop thinking that you are making progress toward closing that big deal because you have the amazing ability to fire off 3 gazillion HTML emails to only-slightly-less-then random Jigsaw contacts.

The only think you can chalk up to success is your tenacity for annoying other people.

Believe it or not, intimacy still matters in business.  The “merrier” part of the equation is most powerful — not the “more”.

So it might seem less than peachy to tell the “Big Cheese” that quantity isn’t your game, but that’s actually the truth.

Here’s a key pointer to help you keep your priorities straight:

Make sure you understand what the person on the other end of the deal thinks they are are getting out of the arrangement..

If you know that factoid and keep it top-of-mind as you work through your business deal, you will find yourself being much more successful.

As you go into 2010, keep an open mind about the idea of “edgy conversations” that I am spending more time defining.  More leads, more potential customers, more busyness — none of these is the answer.  You might find yourself sleeping fewer hours and running a more frenetic schedule, but you won’t find your revenue skyrocketing like you want it to.

Think “merrier”…  all the way to the bank!

Can I just pretend I really, really care about you and send you an e-card for Christmas?

This weekend, the missus and I wrapped up our shopping for family for the holidays.  I have to say: “We were more thoughtful this year than any time previously…”

(at least I thought so)

We really thought through the whole process and I am pumped by the stack of “stuff” sitting in our kitchen that needs to be wrapped.

It’s about the relationship, right?

There are people you care about — people around whom you really want to build a history.  It kind of parallels your deal making process.

Makes sense, right?  You want to do business with people that you can stand being around.  People you like.

That’s about building a relationship.  Not seasonal email torpedoing.  But a consistent communication thread.

My inbox got me thinking……….

How special would you feel if you were sent the following e-card from someone that you spent money with this year?


I love the “We hope this communication is welcomed…”  Makes me feel like you really remember who I am.  And are you really giving me the option to unsubscribe from next year’s seasonal greetings?

You tell me.  Maybe I am being picky.

Now how about this one…  Are you feeling the love?

I now have to click on a link to go a site to see all the Christmas warmth you can’t wait to share with me… As if that isn’t enough to do, there is the obligatory signature language informing me that I could be sued for mishandling the email you are sending me.  WOW…. way too much baggage for me to do anything with.  I just have to archive it…

These both ended up in my inbox (along with a tiresome few others…) and I just didn’t have the energy to keep clicking through to link after link so I could get in the Christmas spirit.  It kind of made it all feel like a “chore”…

Like maybe our relationship wasn’t so important after all…

Know what I mean?

It gets you thinking.  What’s the logic behind this?

Who emerged from their marketing “bat-cave” with the fantabulous idea that impersonal seasonalized hyperlink creation was something that made customers feel like “you care”?

Was there a memo in the late ’90s that I missed?

Two words: CALL ME…

I know I’m a little cranky when it comes to this stuff, but doesn’t it seem a little dis-ingenuous?  Even if you give the sender the “benefit of the doubt”, you can’t overlook the general lack of creativity.  The fact remains that in the haste to have another “client touch”, the marketer forgot to put himself in the recipient position.

Here’s reality: No one really reads this stuff.

(not even your grandma who has unlimited Facebooktime)

Maybe the first one you get (right after Thanksgiving), but right around the second week in December you are left with no other choice but massive select-and-archive.  You even feel a little bad about it, but you justify if by telling yourself that if you have time, you’ll dig them out later at home to look through.

And you never do…  It’s just not a high priority.

Without a relationship, you just avoid all the rest of  the noise coming at you.

And certainly this mirrors a hunch I have had for some time now as I talk with C-level executives and ask about their behavior to inbound messaging.  I decided to test my theory.  About a week ago, I put a poll up on LinkedIn asking the following question:

“If relationships really do matter in sales, why don’t we build better ones throughout our selling process?”

Here are the overall results:

  • 40% stated that they didn’t have enough access to the right people to build a great relationship…
  • 10% noted that they tried to build good relationships but didn’t know how to keep it up
  • 20% thought that it wasn’t really a good use of their time…  AND
  • 30% admitted they weren’t really sure how to build great relationships…

When you study this further, you see that ALL of the CEO’s who responded to this question answered the same — that they had not developed this skill of long term relationship building.

Are you surprised?  You might have thought that senior level executives had “schmoozing” all figured out.  Maybe not.  Maybe there’s more to that cocktail parties and fast one-liners.

The numbers get more interesting when you look at the size of the companies responding.  All of the big guys (who would have the biggest sales and marketing budgets) all noted that they didn’t have access to the right people to build great relationships.

Essentially, the guys with the most advantages toward building the best relationships were the least likely to know how to get the right people.  Interesting indeed.

When you look at the age for relationship building, it becomes even more significant.  The young guys and old guys fall into the same category — limited access to the right executives.  While the mid-life high-performers know the right people, but aren’t really sure what to do to keep their attention.

Kind of what you would expect from life, right?  You work hard to get somewhere; and then once you’re there you push so far and fast ahead that you lose valuable ties to people who could be a valuable resource to you.

Young or old, big or small — we all need to work a little harder to keep our relationships strong.  They are our lifeblood, our lifeline to accomplishing our life’s mission.

So think about how you treat your relationships.

Are you asking friends to triple-click through your e-card nonsense, or are you bold enough to just say “Thank You”…  and mean it…

P.S.  Thank you to all the amazing readers of The DEW View!  Have a Happy Holidays.  I am grateful that I was able be a part of your 2009 selling year.  Take some time to get recharged and then let’s plan on changing the world together in ’10….  Thanks again!!!

The language of people

There’s a secret language that many of us don’t understand.  It’s deliberate but very real.  It’s hidden but in plain sight.  It’s how we work but rarely what we think about.

It’s called “humanity” and it’s the key to making the impossible very real.  It’s the difference between the unbelievable happening and almost “getting there.”

When you understand people you understand the possibilities.  You get to be a part of this language of “humanity“.

But it means your mission – your calling in life – is not about YOU:

  • It’s you feeling deep loss and quiet tears even when you’re told “I’m fine”…
  • It’s you reading the lines of worry on a tired face …
  • It’s you hearing the silent call for help when there is no sound…

It’s going on around you.  It was you yesterday and maybe today.

Chances are it’s your client tomorrow…

Stop Shouting at Me

1039171_52843470Since when did we as business people decide that having conversations was too much work?

Instead of discussion with our customers and the community we decided that SHOUTING at the world was the “latest and greatest” in sales-marketry…  That being annoying was a great replacement for providing value to the community around us.

(If you see the guy who switched the playbook let me know so I can slip him over the border into North Korea.)

I want a lifetime ban on boring HTML newsletters.  They just suck.

At least pretend to know my name.  I feel like the other side of a bad date.  Like I am being used for just another number in your “see my 10 gabillion readers” quest for encyclopedic  nonsensery.

And here is the ironic part about the craziness of your bad content:

I really want to be inspired by what you have to say to me.  I want to get a rush of adrenaline and nod my head at the end of each paragraph as you rock it out.  That’s what I want from our conversation.

Instead, you think that your fancy picture (which I have now officially deemed “Lame 2009 Clipart” or L2C for short) does a better job of telling me what you really want me to know.

Here’s another paradox:  We all hate the loud dude in the office who just won’t shut up (which is usually me).   But then we turn around become the sales people of the world who fight fearlessly for our loud and impersonal emails that just do the same thing.

We need to stop thinking about emails as sales tools and more as conversation tools.  If you wouldn’t kick down your customer’s door and start spitting sales facts in his face in person, then don’t do it with your emails.

Stop shouting….

Start sharing.

Stolen Shoes and Bad Movie Mojo

croc_yellow

Two stories.  One central theme.

It all started on Friday with a call from my friend, Jill Stelfox

Between a mix of tears and laughing she told me how she had been working to secure a vendor to tape video footage of one of her clients.  Her client is a financial planner who is on MSNBC as a leading source of “money talk” and so she wanted to get a copy of all his appearances to add to his website.  (Sounds like a good plan to me…) So she reached out to several different vendors who quoted her prices between $125 to $150 per tape clip.  One vendor though struck a different tone.  He offered to provide the service at $85 per clip – provided she bought 25 up-front – and even suggested he send her a sample of her client on video.

Pleased, Jill provided more information, and a short bit later the vendor sent over the video.  After looking at the tape Jill called the vendor with a serious problem — the audio and video were synced horribly like a bad Chinese Kung Fu movie.  Jill’s client was talking and his lips were moving “out of timing” with the audio.  The video quality itself was “super spotty”.  Still — this was a FREE sample.  Maybe there was a good explanation (or not).

The vendor listened as Jill spoke and then professionally admitted that there was a problem.  He then went on to note that he “knew there was a problem and that was why he was asking for 25 up-front purchases – so he could upgrade his equipment”… (all true, I promise).  He then went on tell Jill that “he was broke and needed the money to do more work for other prospects.”

It took little time for Jill to hang up the phone in disbelief and end a shockingly bizarre buying experience.

Saturday evening Sara and I were “first person” to our own outrageous buying experience.  It went a little something like this:

There is an children’s arcade/amusement center called Frankie’s Fun Park about 10 minutes from our house in Greenville that my two boys (Bryce and Dustin) love for me to take them.  I just went there a few weeks ago when Sara was out-of-town and found the scene morbidly un-engaging.  Employees were frowning and yawning –  like we customers were a chore that they were forced to take care of.   Needless to say, I took the boys home without spending any more money.  I also took the 15.4 seconds necessary to “tweet” to the world about my poor experience.  And then told the boys that we would never be heading back there again…

screen-capture-1

But, alas, the allure of winning tickets and climbing through indoor jungle gyms was too much for the boys to accept.  They wanted to return and I wanted to make that happen for them.  Besides, Bryce had won almost 2,000 tickets that he had not cashed in for prizes yet.  And so we made our way back into the den of sweaty over-caffeinated kid-dom.

The boys headed straight for the “jungle gym”.  Shoes off and stowed in cubby.  Borrowed socks on.  Fun everywhere with mom and dad cheering on the mayhem (I wish they made one of those for adults…).  It was when the boys got out that the problem began.  Dustin (my 2 year old) had his bright yellow crocs stolen out of his cubby — cubby that his mom and I were standing 5 feet away from the entire night.  Sure — someone might have accidentally picked up the bright yellow crocs by accident (hardly….) — but it was the way the employees handled it that made this a story.

Of course I mentioned this to the 17- year old staff member in that kids area who took a few seconds away from texting to look at me with one eye raised.  “Steal your kids shoe?” she repeated back to me incredulously — like I was making the entire story up for.  Further outraged, I moved on to the front of the establishment to look for management.  Maybe someone old enough to have a car payment would care about my son’s bright yellow crocs.  Sadly I was mistaken.

When I reached the front desk the manager came hustling out to meet me, chattering in half-tones into an ear piece about some food cleanup.  Without any eye contact, he briefly stopped to tell me that he had “everyone looking for my shoe and that he was sure no one had stolen my sons’s bright yellow crocs.”  To which I kindly refrained from sucker punching him in his face and left with Sara and the boys.  I came to spend money and was left shoeless and insulted.  Another horrible customer experience at an establishment that should be completely focused on user satisfaction.

What’s the point?  It’s simply this.

It’s all about the EXPERIENCE your customers are having!  You can’t explosively grow your revenue when you are pissing off the people who have the revenue to help you grow.  You invest in them FIRST so that they will invest in you FOREVER.

And remember — It’s not about their trial period

…………………………or your proof-of-concept expectations

………………………………….or the support ROI you are factoring

…………………………………………..or “who is right” when a prospect complains.

It’s about how a prospect FEELS while interacting with you.  Michael Ports (what a great author…) made the observation that: “Long after people forget what you said or did, [customers] will remember how you made them feel.”

It’s feelings that we need to change.  Not facts!

By the way, that means that logic or facts have nothing to do with this discussion.  At the heart of this is the concept of “relationships” — which happen to be completely illogical.  You can’t build a spreadsheet around a customer experience strategy or “doing the right thing” (which is why so many companies just hire more schmucky sales dudes to find more prospects rather than get religious about creating an outrageous experience for their “community”).

You can’t even explain how you are going to make more money doing this.  But it works.  It’s the stuff of legends.

  • It’s the pricing and staffing economics that make Southwest Airlines the only profitable airline in the US and the most enjoyable (non-luxury) traveling experience….
  • It’s what takes the idea of outrageous customer fulfillment and ten years of consistent performance to build a billion dollar online site like Zappos…
  • It’s the detailed online client “do-it-yourself” tools that catapult a small franchise like Washington  Mutual into a leading insurance powerhouse…
  • It’s the efficiency of client  purchases and delivery that propel Amazon.com to be the leader in online purchases…
  • It’s the foundation of an ACE Hardware franchise that continues to “delight” even while getting smashed by larger Home Depot and Lowe’s franchises…

It’s easy to call this “too intangible for action” and just add more dollars to the CRM budget next year.  This takes guts. And faith.  And obsessing about the details of everything you do and every word you train your people to say.  It is a religion.

But “strangely”, when you invest in your customer’s experience, you emerge as the alpha-standard.  You don’t just improve mediocrity.  You set the standard for the new “impossible”.  You are invincible!

Your ability to achieve explosive revenue growth is directly proportional to your obsession with providing an outrageous customer experience.  Suck at one and you’re guaranteed to suck at the other… (DEWism)

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Possibly coincidence, but my CEO friend, Kriss Wilson, tweeted me over the weekend to tell me about his horrible 8-hour experience with Dell support.  You have to check it out!!