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Scrabble

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scrabble

You can call it volunteering if you want but I just call it “an old fashioned whoopin’ that keeps on giving”

It’s true I’ve been known to head to the local Sr. Center and um… volunteer to play scrabble with some of the folks that hang out there.   My objective is twofold:  give of my time and talent to these wonderful folks and of course, to win.

Scrabble is a great game. It’s a great game for anyone.  It keeps the mind sharp.

Let’s all agree to that helping drive interest in the playing of Scrabble is a good thing – especially at a Senior Center.  Let me make an argument that it’s even better when I do it.   Scrabble in my hands for a mere hour a week, is a series of important life lessons for all of us.

 

  • Losing never gets old.  Chances are overwhelming that you will lose to me.  (Ok, well 2 weeks ago was an exception – but I’ve got my eye on you Betsy).  There’s no age when losing should stop.  Life is funny like that; the only time losing stops pretty much is when you’ve given up trying something or are no longer literally getting in the game.  My trouncing you is therefore, good for you.
  • Chi is good, really good.   Chi is a word that means vital internal energy.  Good chi is exactly what you want in your Senior Center and exactly what you want in Scrabble.  With me as your Scrabble guide, you’ll get vitally energized when you learn that you can spell “chi” for immense points in two other ways with just two letters as in “xi” and “qi”.  What fun!  When I did this for 31 points, Kathy shot me a look and then spewed out  two other choice letters tied together that I can’t mention, but nevertheless, this is a teaching moment!  - Teaching never grows old, even if we do.
  • Without rules there’s Chaos.   Just because we may have a little more life experience doesn’t mean rules get lax.  I have a lot of personal rules about Scrabble I think are endearing and truly in the spirit of the game.  One rule is that you should never put down a word that you cannot use in a sentence.   Nancy disagreed when I asked her about “el” and then slammed down her 4 page print-out of acceptable 2 letter Scrabble words and said “That’s stupid-  it’s a word! But to make you happy, how about you shutting the el up?”  Funny now but she’ll think about it later and realize how much I’ve taught her.

 

This week at my suggestion, we’ve added a Scrabble trophy for the winner of the weekly matches. The winner keeps it for the week, snapping and posting photos of you and your trophy around town.  A nice incentive to work hard every week and improve your game I say.   My Scrabble mates liked the idea but suggested if I win, to take a photo of myself and the trophy at the end of a long walk on a short pier.

Not very nice but chi is chi baby– bring it on!

 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

April 2, 2014 at 8:57 am

The 4 Best Sales Pick-Up Lines Ever

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bar

The 4 Best Sales Pick Up Lines Ever

 

Want to get a date with your prospect?  Want to see if you make those sparks fly?  Or maybe you want to date your current customer and move into a deeper more satisfying relationship.

Pick up lines work great.

My favorite one in college (worked darn near every time) was when I sauntered up to an unsuspecting attractive young lady at the bar and said   “I can play Lionel Ritchie songs on the piano, you wanna hear some? ”

But I’ve grown and realized that pick-up lines aren’t just for your love life.  They’re for work too.

Here are my top 4

“I know people just like you, in fact I spent the weekend in Vegas with hundreds of them” – This one is always good; you’re smart about their business – you went to a trade show in their industry and bragged about it.  You’ll be fun and a good listener.

“You may not know this, but I’ve been watching you..”.   Creepy?  No, not at all.  You’ve been watching them on social media, maybe read their posts or blogs.  You might have even read their financial reports.  You’re the type that makes people and businesses feel special.  You’re a nice talker, not a stalker.

“I’m learning about the most entrepreneurial and successful people,  do have a minute for me to interview you?” This one is always great.  People like to help people and especially if they can talk about themselves too!  You’re sure to get some time and maybe even for way more than a minute!

“Do you believe in love at first sight or should I show you that again?”   Great line to use In your presentation when you are super proud of your stuff –  your product or your solution.  It is very contagious and attractive to be proud so be proud!  You’ll have prospects fawning all over you.

 

 

 

Till next time,

Truly Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

March 26, 2014 at 11:05 am

Big Whoop

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big whoop

Big Whoop

 

  • You have a new dry cleaning store that also provides a unique pick up service?  Big Whoop.
  • You have a new service that writes blog posts for your business so you don’t have to?  Big Whoop.
  • You have  loan acquisition product for my bank that is cheaper than my current partner?  Big Whoop.
  • You have all in one online and offline marketing product suite?  Big Whoop.
  • You have an online fraud prevention product that is tablet friendly?  Big Whoop.

*****

  • Big Whoop cuz’ I wash and iron my own dress shirts.
  • Big Whoop cuz’ I don’t blog on my business website.
  • Big Whoop cuz’  the pain of switching to you blinds me just thinking about it.
  • Big Whoop cuz’ I don’t care what you have my business is small.
  • Big Whoop cuz’ I am very careful.

We spend a lot of time focused on why clients and prospects should choose us.  So much time.  So much time it is often sickening.

We need to spend more time on why clients and prospects should even choose at all.

Big Whoop is what you never hear your client say but what they often think.  Let’s be honest, most businesses and consumers are getting it done today, somehow or some way.

Your job is to get them to think change, to want to change, to inspire or scare them into change.  Get them to think differently.  Get them off the status quo.   

Status quo is ten times the enemy your competitor ever will be.  Go focus on that. 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

March 18, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Inherently Suspenseful

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golf

Inherently Suspenseful

The Wall Street Journal had an article recently touting the growth of Golf play-by-play on radio.  So what you say? Well, hear me out – there’s a lesson for us.

It’s true that golf on radio is growing – but that wasn’t what struck me as most interesting.  The article touted how popular golf is on TV.  I admit I love to watch golf (I hardly play and when I do play about once a year –it’s horrendous to watch).   I’ve always told people that I like to watch TV golf because it’s relaxing and frankly, being from New England, the weather is always better on TV in golf than out my window.  That’s why I think I like golf.

But the writer of the article (John Paul Newport) said this about golf on TV,  “Television discovered that watching the little ball sail through the air for several long seconds, to land who-knows-where, was inherently suspenseful.”  

Brilliant insight.

So that’s why I watch it.  It is inherently suspenseful.   And maybe I like the physics and geometry of it all; playing angles and surfaces and wind which by the way add to the suspense of where that little white ball is going to land. 

And I got to thinking about those fleeting moments every day that are inherently suspenseful for us;  getting the mail ( what’s there?), getting an email ( what is this about?) , a comment, a poke, an update or a post ( I wonder what this is?).  And what about the scratch cards, the monopoly tickets, even the daily specials – we are suckers for this stuff.  We love small things that are inherently suspenseful.

Add up a bunch of those inherently suspenseful moments and maybe you get to be like golf on TV with some eyes watching you.  How good would that be for business?

Maybe you take your business and add things like badging ( foursquare) or service plateaus or QR codes to earn a prize or a bragging right.  Maybe you add suspense by adding a ritual to your business; (think of the social media craze where Pizza places like Pizza Hut are putting surprise handwritten jokes inside pizza boxes) or maybe it’s telling great suspenseful stories on your website or Facebook pages about your customers or even yourself.

Inherently suspenseful is attractive.  There’s surely a ton of great ways people are doing it today you can discover, but keep your head down and that left arm straight and look for those moments in your personal interactions with clients or in your business’s interactions and string some fleeting moments of suspense together. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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Some Things Change, Some Don’t ( But Could If We Try)

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water heater

Some Things Change, Some Things Don’t (But Could If We Try)

I am waiting.  Right now.  But I am OK.  I guess until I get the bill.  But I’m still OK.

My water heater has been leaking for three days and of course two of those days are over the weekend. 

At first I thought some weird condensation thing was happening given the freezing temperatures and then I was hoping it might be some pressure valve temporary issue where it needed to vent a little bit of water on the floor and that would be that. 

Who am I kidding? My first thought wasn’t any of that.  As soon as I realized this was a leak vs. tracked in snow in the basement, I raced to my IPad and looked for a video on “Leaking Water Heater”.  I’m a complete moron when it comes to handy man stuff (yes, there is a reason I am the only son-in-law that never gets tools for Christmas like the other guys)

That video of a Colorado plumber explaining things (and I have no idea why some Colorado local plumber’s video was at the top of the search page given Google knows exactly where I am searching from in Massachusetts) taught me to consider condensation and to check and see (by putting small bucket under the pressure valve tube) if the pressure valve was the culprit.  They weren’t – that meant the worst scenario; an actual breach to the water heater.

Here’s the point about how some things change though.  When I need service or a product today I learn first.  I educate myself first.  I get myself smarter before I go make a call or query   Power to the buyer.  I know you do too.  And I use video. (Who doesn’t?)  

Here’s where some things don’t change but probably could have.  Armed with new knowledge and not feeling like a complete idiot, yet sadly realizing this cool expert plumber guy was a couple of thousand miles away, I called someone else.  I called the company that fixed my furnace last year and the air conditioning thing a ma jig.   I called them and asked them to recommend a plumbing company to help with my water heater issue.

They gave me a name.  Done.  That company is on their way. 

Referrals from trusted people or suppliers are killer.  That will never get old.

I will tell you though, if that video in water heaters was a local guy, a local company – I would of straight up called him first as the video was done so well done; professional  yet personal, homey yet really informative.

So recognize this all you businesses or salespeople or experts in any field – get some quality video out to help educate your prospects and customers.  Get it out in such a way that you drive it to the top of search engines using everything you got in great content and SEO.  Because getting smart is what we all do now as the first step before we open our wallets. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

March 3, 2014 at 10:56 am

Rethink

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question-mark3a

Rethink

If you want to totally rethink what you are doing in business you need to get your customers to rethink what they’re doing. 

And if you really do get them to rethink what they’re doing – that’s a huge win for you. 

Apple did it.  Like for the last 10 years.

 Advanced Auto Small Engine Repair in my little town did it on Friday.

 It’s a tough world out there.  Most of us in sales and service know that even when customers love us – they are, by the time they call about that new service you’ve been pitching or your flyer or your email,  – they’ve done the research and while you’re still in the game- it’s a price war between you and your competitors or them sticking with the status quo- just doing what they’ve always done.

Disrupt the thinking upstream.  Teach. Preach.  Challenge. 

 Be that person or that company. 

Apple did it –blah blah blah we know that.  And their disruptive tech did make us rethink what we are doing but it extends elsewhere too.   Do you think they did some research and asked you and me if when you go in the store, that we wanted some 6 foot 3 bearded technical guru to greet you in the first 8 feet, get your name and ask what you are here for?  Heck no.

They just did it.  And that’s the way it is.  We have been taught.  But we had been taught before by Apple. They reshaped our thinking.  We believe. We trust.

I had a first world problem Thursday night.  My snowblower after a total of 3 feet exploded.  Well I thought it exploded: the chute shot into the air about 10 feet.   I don’t have a clue.  Next day, my wife got a recommendation from a friend about Advanced Auto and they drove up, loaded the snowblower on the truck and then plowed my driveway.  Plowed the driveway.  They didn’t ask, they didn’t check, they just did it.

3 hours later they returned with a fixed blower, an education about the machine, a conversation about what I should watch for, an invitation to learn more and not a word about plowing the driveway except humble acknowledgment of my thanks.

While Advantage Auto didn’t wholly disrupt my thinking – they did reshape my thoughts about service expectations and education in a small way.  It’s a great start for them.  I grabbed 6 of their business cards and a promise to myself about saying a few things on social media.

The perfect world for changing your business or your approach is realizing and then innovating on changing the way your customers not just think and work with you,  but changing the way they do their own business for the better. 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

February 18, 2014 at 7:47 am

There’s Something About The Plastic!

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Cat

My Cat in a rare moment not licking plastic

There’s Something About The Plastic!

“There’s something about the plastic!” is a hilarious phrase around our house these days.  And I think there’s an interesting business lesson to it as well.   Let me tell you why.

I have a cat.  I like cats.  My cat likes plastic.  I like plastic too.  But not like my cat.  My cat would lick plastic all day long if you let him.  Plastic bags, plastic wrappers, plastic sheet protectors, empty plastic zip lock bags ( his fav) or pretty much anything plastic including the Tupperware kind of stuff.   I have no idea why.

My son’s friend Jamie heard me incredulously exclaim (after seeing the cat lick a zip lock bag for an hour) how crazy it is that the darn cat licks plastic all day long and Jamie shouted “That’s what all cats do!!” He said it with the obvious tone that he knew the answer as to why they do.   I leaned forward and could not wait for the answer – I needed to know!.  And then Jamie said…. “There’s something about the plastic!”  

That was it.  He had no idea why either.   And that’s why we all collapsed on the floor laughing and why the phrase now is spoken, texted and emailed randomly among us for last 6 weeks especially when someone texts or says something worthy (unworthy)..   “There’s something about the plastic!” is the label we put on something said that brings absolutely nothing new, interesting or valuable to the conversation. 

There’s a bit of that that goes on at work too eh?   Here are 6 of my favorite phrases (often shouted out ( like Jamie did)) that mean nothing or are just plain let downs.  I have been guilty of a few of these myself for sure.   Please feel free to add yours in the comments section!

  • We tried that a few years ago, it worked great.”  [And why is it not still here? Usually heard in a brainstorm meeting]
  • “Just gotta get people to offer it more. ” [usually in a sales meeting- we all know it’s more complicated than that]
  • “There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this” [usually followed by silence.  Thanks cpt Obvious.]
  • “We need better leads” [ I’ve been on all sides – selling to feed my family, sales management & training and I can say never in my 25 years have I seen where that is true – it’s how you work the leads ( or better, make your own) that matters ]
  • “People need to be retrained” [OK –so this hits home today in my role but seriously- it’s a rare day that folks need “retraining” – what they really need is” re-selling” of the content by a leader or  “re-coaching” or “re – holding people accountableness-ness”
  • “We have to prioritize this with everything else.”  [Guilty am I here at times on this but think about how often we really hear it. And how “future tense” it is. Worthless.    And usually it never does get prioritized because that means something needs to be “de prioritized” and that is courage not enough of us have in excess.  ]

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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Written by Mark McCarthy

January 16, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I Am Joe’s Goals

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moleskin black

I Am Joe’s Goals

It’s my favorite time of year!  I miss Joe.  It’s been a while.

This year is gonna be a great one I can tell.  A Moleskin notebook baby, it’s Moleskin!   Joe actually went to Barnes & Noble (like really walked in a brick and mortar store) and purchased this here fancy schmancy,  jet black paper journal to write me down in.  

There I am all smilin’ and stuff – that’s me right here on the first page ready to go!

                                                                      “My Goals 2014”

Here we go!

Um.  He stepped away for a minute I guess…

While I got ya – let me tell you about last couple of years – what a ride!  Last year I was on his IPad.  That was pretty awesome slipping and sliding all over the place getting blown up and then minimized like a 5 times a day (at least in the beginning).  But by February zoom!; he’d swipe my butt every time he’d see me and I’d go screeching off to my right like at 100 mph into darkness again, again and again.    After a while I was buried in a sea of other Apps.  Not fun.  I was not front and center like this Moleskin journal.  This book is all for me baby, nobody but me.

The year before the IPad thing I was on some yellow legal paper he bought and that was cool. But I got confused when he started carrying me around to meetings.  At first I thought it was good cuz’ it seemed like he was looking at me a lot (like he should) but then he started like writing loads of stupid meeting notes under me ( that he never looked at again mind you) and then started writing numbers down just below our 5 goals for the year that had nothing to do with the goals!  The last thing I remember was he drew this flower thing right through our goals that became a dragon that became a wizard with a dog or something and then I heard this massive tearing sound and I just blacked out and started tumbling and tumbling and then…but here he comes… that’s a story for another day….

OK here we go…he’s starting to write me down for 2014! 

“Be a better father”

“Earn more money”

“Lose 25 pounds”

Oh poo.  What the heck are those?

Joe!  Joe! Joe!  Will you never learn?   My Goal friends at Club Dead (It’s where Goals go to die) tell me the great stories about the Goals that don’t come back starving and looking for some late year bloomers to pick them up in February.  They say they hang on because their original owners because they write down “why” they want to be a better father, why they want make more money and why they want to lose weight in great detail!  AND that you have to write out the real steps and timelines you want to achieve to reach each of these goals.  AND that you have to look at these every day, set a target to achieve something each day towards each of these goals and mark your progress.  

I’m guessing Joe; if you don’t do these things the same results are going to happen to us which has been for the last few years at least, mostly “nada” for our goals. There is so much room here in the journal; you’ve got to take the time to do it!

Shoot, he just closed that cover on me.  I hope he heard me.  I like the promise of this journal but if he doesn’t get better at writing me out – I’m heading back to Club Dead.  Again.    

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

January 7, 2014 at 9:19 am

Amp It Up: Prefacing Questions

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amp

Amp It Up: Prefacing

Asking questions in sales, service or support is important.  There are a million theories, books and articles on what questions to ask. 

I don’t care about any of that today.

I’m going to give you 3 powerful tips however that will amp up the results of your questions and they take all of less than 3 seconds in a tactic I call Prefacing.

Each of these is additive in that if you apply just one tip, you’ll get better results than you do today with your normal questions  but  if you do all three – watch out, you’ll see amazing results immediately.

Preface #1: “I always ask…” Begin with “I always ask..” as a preface to your question of the customer or prospect.  Let’s pretend you are on software sales –   “I always ask business leaders if you see enough data on a daily basis to measure the health of the business…” Or let’s say you sell online marketing “I always ask owners where they think the best social media place to be to drive business.” Whatever your purpose is in asking the question is fine.  But prefacing it with “I always ask” makes you sound like you’ve been there before; that you have experience, that this is not your first rodeo.  In less than a second you’ve built some credibility in the minds of the listener and that psychologically will result in a more thoughtful answer by the recipient. 

Preface #2:  Add an Affiliation:  Remember this is additive – so for example “I always ask the CFO’s of Consumer Financial organizations if they see enough data… Or “ I always ask my HVAC folks where they think….”;  This addition is incredibly powerful – not only are you credible already by adding  “I always ask” but now you’ve imparted in just one more second,  that you know something, have talked to, have hung out with people like them in their world or in their industry.   You’ve talked with CFO’s (and even better talked with CFO’s in financial orgs) or you’ve talked with HVAC owners and understand what is happening.  Immensely powerful – your questions now have an even better chance of getting thoughtful and deep answers which translates into better sales service and meaningful conversations.

Preface #3:  Put a Number on the Questions:  This too is additive so in our examples let’s take it to the 3rd level, “I always ask the CFO’s of Consumer Financial organizations these 3 questions about visibility….”  Or “I always ask my HVAC folks these 2 questions about where they think the best place is…”  The theory is simple and powerful.  Placing a number on the questions helps lower time tension.  People are busy.  When you articulate the number of questions you are going to ask in a particular space then the listener knows when it will be over and in essence will stay focused for those questions and give you great information.   Not articulating a number can lead to that self-talk of “When will this be over?” or other distractions.  Prefacing with the number of questions needn’t be limiting.  You can easily move on to other subjects with for example “I always also ask 2 questions of HVAC folks about how hard it is to get paid quickly….”

Are the types of questions you ask important?  You bet.  Does everybody forget or not even think about the value of Prefacing a question?  Without a doubt.   In my opinion prefacing is as important as any aspect of questioning.

Here’s the beauty of today’s post.  It’s easy.  It’s less than 3 seconds of your time.  If you are in sales, service or support as a pro or perhaps a leader, or you are a business owner, consultant or entrepreneur looking to get better conversations and more business; print this thing, spend a few minutes wrapping your head around and go to it – you’ll be amazed at what you get in return.

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

December 12, 2013 at 10:07 am

You’re Doing It Wrong

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wrong

You’re Doing It Wrong

Duh.  Sad part is at some points in my life (and some more recent than others) I’m guilty of every one of these.

  • Coaching to “gaps” first.  Neurological and observation data proves coaching to strengths first and more often than coaching to gaps, results in better performance.
  • Thanking a customer for calling.  How silly.  Welcome them, Greet them or Wow them and then Thank them (profusely) for the business at the end of the call.
  • Nobody has ever asked anyone, in the entire history of the world, for more PowerPoints to help them learn something. But we keep on giving.
  • If what you bring to the sales or service party is the exact same thing that can be found on your website, brochures or catalogs, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Thinking that in this global, democratized and highly connected world that the real selling is over when they “sign on the line that is dotted”. Au contraire – it is just beginning.
  • Time snobbery.  Obsessing and devaluing content, books, blogs and videos if their origination date is more than 6 months old. Newer is not always better or different or smarter. Quit it.
  • 8 days and near 24/ 7 hours spent in a war room to fix a run of bad performance and just 8 minutes on a conference call celebrating landing a large client or exceeding performance for the month.
  • In your office.  All day.  On the phone.  And you haven’t seen a manufacturing floor, the call center, some customers, suppliers or a lunch with a department in months.
  • Asking a question of a client or prospect that has no apparent immediate benefit to them to answer.  That’s just not smart.
  • Reading this post and agreeing (or not) and just leaving it there.  Pick one, two or six that resonate with you and make a plan and execute upon it today.

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

December 11, 2013 at 10:52 am

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