Motivating People – What You May Not Know

Two fascinating leadership books (“Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek and “Drive” by Daniel Pink) highlight a fallacy of traditional leadership models. The model of pay them and they will work harder no longer works in business environments that involve creativity and cognitive skills. In fact, Pink says that some people perceive financial incentives as a turn-off and not motivating.

Pink makes the case that financial incentives work well in situations where the tasks are straight forward and repetitive. Financial incentives don’t work where tasks require even rudimentary cognitive skills. In the latter cases larger rewards actually led to poorer performance (study by Federal Reserve).

To motivate their staffs large and small businesses have traditionally offered extra pay to incent additional performance. During my 27-year corporate banking career I was subject to many forced ranking programs where bonuses were awarded based an individual’s performance ranked against others on the team. Seems fair; those individuals who generated the best results earn a larger bonus. Conversely, those on the other end of the performance scale often didn’t receive a bonus.

BUT, there are three problems with this approach:

  1. Financial incentives narrow people’s perspective, which often results in doing what’s best for the sales person but not for the customer
  2. It presupposes that money is the universal motivator. People have performed amazing feats of bravery or made enormous contributions to society not for wealth but for other personal reasons.
  3. Like Clark Griswald in Christmas Vacation, people begin to view any bonus as part of their pay…they expect it and it therefore becomes less of a catalyst for performance.

So if money isn’t always the best motivator, then what is? Sinek offers an alternative approach:

“[Most] people would rather feel safe among their colleagues, have the opportunity to grow and feel a part of something bigger than themselves than work in a place that simply makes them rich…We stay. We remain loyal. We help each other and we do our work with pride and passion.”

This implies that to motivate someone you must offer people “the opportunity to grow” in areas that are important to that person. Being presented with an opportunity to learn accounting wouldn’t motivate me, but provide me the opportunity to learn graphic design and I’m motivated. So…for you to motivate someone you need to learn their interests and goals. This requires getting to know your employees at a deeper level than just how well they’re performing on the job. After all, additional money isn’t what everyone wants.

Have you taken the time to understand the desires and goals of each of your employees? Make it a priority to learn this information from each and work to help them achieve those desires…that’s how you motivate. Not by applying a “one size fits all” monetary program.

Jeff Lovejoy

Certified Business Coach

404.250.3221

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December 24, 2014 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

“Perceived Indifference” – What Do Your Customers Think?

I couldn’t believe it had happened again. When I called “—– Airlines” to resolve a problem I heard, “due to higher than usual call volume your wait time will be 21 minutes”. After 24 minutes a live person told me that I needed another department and… yessir… another wait. Every time this kind of thing happens I make up my mind to take my business elsewhere; what a woeful comparison to the service standards the airline claims to live by.

Alternatively….

Brian Tracy, noted author and speaker, tells of an important call he made to his contact at IBM one evening at 8:30. The person who answered the phone told Mr. Tracy that his contact wasn’t in the office but that he would try to find him. The contact was found, and Mr. Tracy’s emergency was resolved. It turned out that it was the janitor who had answered the phone, and when asked why he went out of his way at 8:30 pm to find Mr. Tracy’s contact he said “at IBM whoever answers the phone owns the issue.”

WOW. Talk about commitment to customers and focus on customer experience. He who first touches a customer inquiry owns the issue. If “—– Airlines” had responded that way to my call, I would never fly on any other airline.

My airline story doesn’t just happen at a large company. Businesses of all sizes lose focus on how difficult the total customer experience can be for their clients, and frustrated clients make a business pay by walking away. The Small Business Administration (SBA) calls “perceived indifference” the #1 killer of relationships by a factor of five. The study rankings follow.

  • Perceived indifference (“Not Feeling Appreciated.”)  68%
  • Product or service PRICE  14%
  • Purchase from a competitor  9%
  • Purchase from a friend or a referred provider 5%
  • Relocation 3%
  • Death of company contact 1%

 

How focused are you and your employees on providing a customer experience that embodies the IBM approach?  How would your customers rate the experience of dealing with your people or your service standards/policies?

Why not ask them…hearing clients speak in their own words generates valuable information on many fronts. It lets you identify areas where your team may have lost sight of the customer’s experience, where your business promises may not be matching the reality of the customer experience, where you may be creating a sense of perceived indifference.

The process of listening to clients speak begins with what is essentially a survey. Surveys can be done in person or they can utilize written or electronic interactions. They can be focused on specific areas of concern or broadly for the business as a whole. But they have to be deigned to let you hear how your customers feel they are being treated.

How you treat customers is one of the true differentiators for small and large business owners. Aim to build your uniqueness around providing a world-class customer experience.

If you would like ideas on how to engage with your customers and provide valuable insights into their perceptions, give me a call. 404.250.3221.

Happy Holidays.

 

Jeff Lovejoy

Certified Business Coach

404.250.3221

 

December 12, 2014 at 11:34 am Leave a comment

Gratitude

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not because of the volumes of calories and liquids that I’ll consume, or because of the pumpkin pies that will be served or the televised football games. No, I like Thanksgiving because it’s the official day when our focus should be on giving thanks.

Thanksgiving for me growing up in northern New Jersey meant going to the annual Montclair vs. Bloomfield High School football game to watch ole Clary Anderson coach the Montclair Bulldogs hopefully to victory. The game was followed by a Thanksgiving feast with immediate and extended family. Turkey was the focal point of those feasts with my father slicing the bird into succulent portions for eating. But the highlight, at least for me, was my grandmother’s pumpkin pie served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. That’s what Thanksgiving meant to me and means to millions of Americans…feast, football and fun away from school or work.

With the passing of years I’ve begun giving “thanks” each and every day and not just on this special day. Why do we need a special day to remind us to stop and appreciate everything that we have? Why do we dwell on what we don’t have? Or, what’s preventing us from accomplishing what we want? Why do we spend more time worrying, fearing and denying instead of appreciating what we have and the opportunities that lie before us?

I prefer to focus on all the good around me; to be grateful for all that I have been blessed with. The choice is yours. Will you daily be grateful for the all the wonders you have and for thanking those who have sacrificed so that you may have a world of abundance? Or, will you succumb to the “dark side” by worrying, fearing and bemoaning life? If you choose the former, how will you focus on being grateful? I challenge you to be disciplined in daily focusing (min. 3 – 5 times each day) on being Thankful. You’ll be amazed how this commitment will change your disposition and your life.

 

Jeff Lovejoy

Certified Business Coach

404.444.1836

November 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm Leave a comment

Excite Your Customers – Build Loyalty

You would think that all business owners have instituted a Customer Loyalty Program within their business. After all, what better strategy to generate leads than from existing customers? What better way to encourage customers to refer your business than rewarding their loyalty?

How do you define customer service? Wikipedia says it’s “the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.” Is this your definition? If so, you’re like most owners.

I believe this definition significantly understates the goal of good customer service and results in providing service that only satisfies customers.

If your goals is to satisfy customers only, I suggest your competitors are “circling the wagons” in anticipation of stealing customers. Satisfying customers isn’t enough…your goal should be to provide a level of service that delights customers.

The key to “delighting” customers is appealing to their emotions. Customers have emotional “bank” accounts, and to truly delight customers you must continually make deposits to their account. The absence of deposits can result in a low “balance in their account, which leads to customer dissatisfaction. Deposits don’t happen from providing service that only meets or satisfies expectations…your service must be outstanding.

We worked with a men’s clothing store where the owner adopted a strategy of delighting his customers. When someone purchased a suite he always added a pair of nice socks to the garment bag, unbeknownst to the buyer, with a note that read “thought these would look nice with your new suit.” Two days later he would send the buyer a new shirt, at no charge, with a note that said “I forgot to give you this when you were here and thought it would look great with your new suit.”

Unexpected surprises like these result in large deposits to the buyer’s emotional bank account. It’s best to make deposits when your customer least expects it…not at the time they give you their credit card to make the purchase.

What are you doing to deposit to your buyers’ emotional account?

Here are some other examples of creating WOW for your customers:

  • Send cookies with your company’s name on each cookie
  • Send a photo album of their new purchases (real estate)
  • Put bottled water in their car with a gift certificate to a pizza restaurant
  • Provide a round of golf with a golf pro

These surprises don’t have to be extravagant – even tickets to a movie can delight – but they must be unexpected.

Creating a valued customer service strategy is one of the most important initiatives you as a leader can undertake. Create WOW programs that your customers will love and you’ll be well on the way to creating Raving Fans.

If you’re a business owner who appreciates these comments but doesn’t know how to initiative such a customer loyalty program, give me a call and we’ll schedule time to talk. You can’t afford to lose customers to competitors due to your customer’s perception that you don’t care about them. Give me a call or send me an e-mail.

November 13, 2014 at 3:59 pm Leave a comment

Initiate Positive Change

Initiate Positive Change

Why is it that some people don’t like change?

Or, more to the point, why is it that some people won’t make a change even when gains would clearly result from making the change?

You and your sales team undoubtedly encounter clients with this kind of counterintuitive behavior. For example, think of prospective clients who stayed with their current supplier despite your superior alternative. What gets in the way of their making such a positive change? On a personal level, we’ve all seen colleagues or family members avoid making a change that would clearly be in their best interests. Why?

When looking at change and the stickiness of that change, we look at four things:

  1. Level of Dissatisfaction with the status quo =  D
  2. Vision of what could be =  V
  3. First steps required to make a change =  F, and
  4. Resistance to change, the boulder that obstructs the path =  R

Change only happens when the Resistance to change is overwhelmed by your Dissatisfaction (D) and Vision (V) and the First step required to make the change. In other words:

(D  x  V)  +  F  must be greater than R  for change to happen

If dissatisfaction is low, clarity of vision lacking, or the first steps towards making the change are too great, then overcoming Resistance is unlikely and change improbable.

Applying this framework to business situations we see some fairly typical examples of sales challenges you may be facing in your business.

  1. Your sales team knows every feature and benefit of your quality product, but their sales results are disappointing. All too often sales teams spend their time promoting features and benefits to prospective customers, but they neglect to probe their prospective client’s dissatisfaction with their current provider.
  2. 80% of sales are made for emotional reasons (people buy on emotions and justify with logic – Tom Hopkins). Taping into that emotional component of sales in this case means that the alignment of your service value with the prospective client’s dissatisfaction and/or vision should be high. Effective sales teams make clear how their offer connects with the prospective client’s dissatisfaction and/or vision…that’s where sales happen.
  3. Businesses impacted by the recent economy realize that they need to change their strategies and operations to prospect. Yet, these changes are often difficult for business owners to make, especially those who have operated one way for many years. By helping the decision maker(s) increase the intensity of their dissatisfaction or desire to achieve their vision your sales team will have done your prospective clients a service that often results in a sale..

It’s a rare bird who seeks out change, but it comes to all of us in our business and personal lives. “The only constant in life is change”. In those cases where you find making change difficult, it may be useful to examine your dissatisfaction with the status quo, your clarity of vision for what you want in the future, and what’s required to get started. You’ll be more likely to embrace long-term change and to help your clients do so as well.

Jeff Lovejoy

Certified Business Coach

404.250.3221

November 11, 2014 at 9:33 pm Leave a comment

Clarity X Action = Success

The success we achieve in life is a function of two things, clarity around our goals and the effectiveness of the actions we take to achieve them.

CLARITY   x   ACTION   =   SUCCESS

Both components of this formula have to work together or success will elude you. Perhaps you know someone who is clear on what they want but isn’t taking action to achieve it. Or they may be active, but it’s the wrong kind of action and it doesn’t help them succeed. So let’s look at the two components.

Clarity – around goals. “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do.”

Surprisingly few business owners have written down a clear vision for their enterprise. If that is true for you, consider this. The minute you gain clarity around what you want, taking action becomes easier and the right action to take becomes clear. Activity that isn’t focused on a goal cannot be measured for its effect.

Employees need to understand what you will reward them for and will struggle to stay motivated if they don’t know where you are going. Clarity on the goals keeps everyone in the organization aligned and allows you a predictable way to calculate success.

The minute you gain clarity around goals, taking action becomes easier and the right actions become clearer. Clarity leads to power.

Action – directed to goals and measured for efficacy.

The important point here is that ‘busy-ness’ does not equal the ‘action’ we are talking about. Growing a business takes a plan and a comprehensive series of actions across the functional business areas. Owners need to distinguish those actions that will grow the business from the daily work of operating the business. Examples of the gap include:

  • Salon owners whose time is taken up cutting hair
  • Construction company owners who visit each job daily and log trips to vendors for material
  • CPAs who only prepare returns
  • Dentists who spend all their time drilling and filling

Businesses stagnate if owners work long hours without taking the time to think about growth. The owner needs to run the business and lead. Successful owners recognize that their business can only grow if they take leadership and take the right actions. Are they inspiring the team by cutting someone’s hair?

For those immersed in the day-to-day it can be a challenge to establish a focus on growth, but there are resources who are regularly involved in doing so, including an Action Coach.

How much clarity do you have around goals (dreams and vision) and how to achieve those results? People with clarity are like sailors guided by the powerful beam of a nearby lighthouse. Clarity enables you to become proactive as you navigate where you are going. Without purpose, you are rudderless, but you can choose to do otherwise and grow.

 

Jeff Lovejoy

Certified Business Coach

404.444.1836

October 22, 2014 at 10:22 pm Leave a comment

3 Simple Strategies That Will Increase Profits

Business owners want to increase profits, but too often they overlook the power of strategies that increase the average dollar amount of their sales. Each dollar increase in their average sales amount goes directly to the bottom line of their business.

In order to increase profits most business owners focus either on reducing costs and/or increasing the number of new customers. They overlook the power of increasing the amount each customer spends, i.e. the average purchase amount. Presumably your customers value the service or product you provide, so…make it easy for them to purchase more from you.

1.  Create a checklist: ActionCOACH was hired by a paint store to help the owner adopt profit-raising strategies. One of our suggested strategies was to post checklists to remind customers of all the items they might need for their project. The owner adopted this approach and posted checklists at key locations in the store, including the check-out counter, reminding customers that they probably needed to purchase more than just paint: a brush, roller, tape, drop cloth etc.

You get the point, offering suggestions like these makes customers think through all of their needs and give you the opportunity for another sale. Customers will thank you because the list will remind them of items they would have forgotten until they got home. At that point they would likely have done without or visit a more convenient store to purchase the item. In either event, it’s likely that you won’t have gotten the additional sales. Even if the customer returns to your store, you could have been a hero by reminding them before they left the first time!

 2.  Create package deals: Perhaps the most famous example of creating package deals is “do you want fries and a soda with your order?” By asking that simple question McDonalds increased revenue by tens of millions of dollars each year. What are your equivalent of fries and a soda?

Two simple suggestions:

*  Create a package with products that complement each other

*  Sell them at a price that is less than the normal combined price but higher than the average sales for your “burger” equivalent.

Include products that have been moving slowly and consider making the package deal time sensitive…”Good until October 20, 2014”.

3.  Make sure customers know your entire range of products/services: Scott, a friend of mine who provides IT services was disappointed when his best friend hired another company for his IT network needs. Turns out Scott’s friend didn’t know that Scott provided networking service support.

If you don’t market the full range of your services even your best friend won’t know everything you offer.

What are you doing to ensure your customers and prospects know your entire product/service range? Do you sell only life insurance…or do you sell a full range of personal line products?

It is vital to remember that each increase in average dollar sale drops directly to the bottom line of your business.

There are many more proven strategies to increase your average sales amount…we have more than 50 of these types of ideas that might make sense for you. If you are interested in increasing profits from your business, reach out to me for a brief discussion.

Great success to you and I hope to hear of you.

 

Jeff Lovejoy

Certified Business Coach

404.444.1836

jeflovejoy@actioncoach.com

October 1, 2014 at 12:14 pm Leave a comment

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