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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It’s Better Read Than Said

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texting

It’s Better Read than Said

How many of you like pulling VM from friends or colleagues on your smart phones, home phones or work phones these days? 

That many. 

I thought so.

So cumbersome, this voice thing:  So much time wasted listening to the slog of a human voice blathering dozens of extra words around the likely simple intent of the message  added to the process of accessing, listening and remembering what was said ( or worse –lunging for a post it note to scribble it on).

It’s getting harder and harder to find the time out there to listen to the human voice share information.

Why?  Because it’s getting so much easier, faster and efficient to read it.  And type it.  And text it.   And Like it.  And Follow it.   And also to Learn and Share and Refer and Recommend.

We are information hogs, all of us now.  We can’t get enough.   We want information in huge amounts,   And we want it in a way we can save it, retrieve it and share it.    We want so much so fast, that it becomes easier to accept the inefficiency of the human voice and not want to use it or as we more increasingly feel, hear it.  

You need to understand the change here on a couple of levels.

You as a person and an employee should know:

  • When you do talk or leave a voicemail, it better be good and meaningful and compellingly vital because if it’s not- it should have just been an email or post and eyes will roll.
  • Human nature yearns for the sharing of “one to many”.   Everything you might have wanted to say to some one you can say to hundreds or thousands at the same time but without the fear of Public speaking.  That is outrageously attractive to people.  And that’s a powerful thing for your self and your career if you embrace it well.

You as a business owner should know:

  • This is Word of Mouth now.  This is where your clients rave or rage about you.  You must make it easy for your customers to pass along good things about you and your business.  One to one still works but people would much rather “tell 10 friends” except this time they can do it for real in seconds.  
  • You have to be smarter and cooler and more valuable than your website.  If talking with you takes 5 times longer than what the prospect could have gotten in 3 clicks on your website then you are not adding value where you should.  Think hard about what your voice brings to your business.  Think brand.  Think feel.  Think purpose.   Then plan and speak accordingly. 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Useless Vs. Priceless Phrases

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Useless Vs. Priceless Phrases

I have three Priceless Phrases that can make your life easier (and/or more successful) if you chose to use them immediately.

But before I get to those, let me share some favorite Useless Phrases so the distinction between the two types of phrases becomes very clear to you.

3 Useless Phrases 

  • I’m a big fan of shouting “Lords of Light!” when surprised.  ( Silly phrase – Just darn odd too)
  • Being of Irish Boston heritage I will say a whole lot of (when angry)    “ _______, Mary and Joseph!” (I left it blank because I swear my Mom still can hear me and she would not be happy).
  • If you are a faithful blog reader you know that lately I’m partial to randomly saying That’s not a real puppy. That’s too small to be a real puppy”.    I use this phrase (stolen from a TV commercial) when I see people obsessed with social media.  

None of these phrases really do anything for me.  Nor certainly, will they do anything for you.

But now these next phrases – Have at em’ – They will set you free!

3 Priceless Phrases 

“OK, let’s talk a bit more and see what we can do”.  Is part of your job helping people?  My guess is yes.  Is part of your job getting requests or demands from colleagues or customers?  Then this phrase is for you.  Nobody likes to hear “no” right off the bat (and few of us like to say it).  This phrase takes requests or demands and gets you both a little time (critical for discovery) and focuses on what “can” be done vs.  what can’t.  Tension is therefore reduced and work can begin.  Make it your own – “talk” can become “meet”, “we” can become “I”.  You get it.

“Who besides yourself…”  So easy, but nobody says it.  Talking with customer, colleague or service provider no matter – this phrase gets you way more than you think.  Want to talk to the decision maker?  Presume the person you are talking to has some kind of influence and ask “Who besides yourself has a say in investing here?” Otherwise you risk disconnect or diversion.   Protect the pride and ego of the people you talk to- it helps you.

“Tell me more about that…”  Fantastic for a networking event, or easing the challenge of going to party with people you may not have ever met or simply doing some good discovery with a client.  We all love to talk about ourselves or what we do.  This phrase fuels that making you also perceived to be “such a great listener!” No harm in saying “Tell me more about that” a dozen times in an hour at a convention, conference or party.  Bonus:  You can make this phrase more effectively open up your clients, new friends or potential customers by narrowing the focus (vs. the broad word “more”).  Ask “Tell me the best part about that”.  It allows for often a faster focus point for the responder and better, it keeps that person focused on the positive – all good when they think back on talking with you.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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We Need More Boring Sales Stories

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We Need More Boring Sales Stories

We need more of these.  You know the boring Sales stories right?

 

 

  • Your Voicemail lights up.  “Hi Mark, I’d like to place a new order”. 
  • Your phone rings:  “Hi John, I need to buy a car for my daughter.”
  • Your door opens:  “Any way I can get a pool installed in 2 weeks?”
  • Your email pings: “Can you be the listing agent for my house?”

You never hear any of these sales stories around the water cooler or at the bar.   No war stories there.   Boring. Boring. Boring.     

Yet these things do happen to great sales reps.  You don’t hear about them though because as we’ve established, it’s um, boring – not much to see here.

Except that’s not really true.  

You see, in these sales stories, someone else did the selling.  Some customer was so moved by the experience with their sales rep, so amazed at the service, the follow up, the treatment, the wisdom and the sheer help,  that he/she inspired friends to call, visit or ping this sales rep with their open minds and wallets. 

No referral was asked for here – all the selling  was done behind the scenes, unknowable to the sales rep. Hard to tell a story in which you have no idea what really happened.   A real snoozer.

Best kind of sales though where the customers do the selling for you ain’t it?  Bring on the boring! – Zero to close in 30 seconds!

How many of these calls, visits or emails are you getting?  How many boring sales stories could you actually tell?  Not enough?

Get cracking then – do what you need to do to get your customers to sell for you.  Be boring all the way to the bank. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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“That’s Not a Real Puppy”

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That’s Not a Real Puppy”

“What?  Thats not a real puppy. That’s too small to be a real puppy.”

I love this commercial on a lot of levels.   And I love that line about the puppy.   I quote it often when I see heads down  staring into the great smartphone abyss (and my family thinks I’m crazy because I say it).   Have a look at the commercial first and refresh your memory – I’m sure you’ve seen it.   Then, let’s talk about it.

I get it’s about a car.  And about how this car ( the Toyota Venza) actually gets you somewhere to interact with people.

And I get it’s about how “younger” people may not quite understand what “being social” really means and Mom and Dad do.  OK cool.  Great message. 

But it says a lot more to me than that.    

It says that sitting at a computer or with your smartphone all day with your fans, friends and followers probably isn’t a good thing all an all.  And it is starting to show.  

  • Last week in USA today,  it was noted that driver’s license acquisitions across the US are way down over the last few years with many teenagers delaying the getting of a liscence till nearly 19.  A key factor attributed is the rise of social media and requisite devices we all have; that the need to hope in the car and physically “get together” is not there.
  • One of the hottest Training trends is Companies creating courses for new employees teaching them how to speak effectively in meetings and on the phone.  The courses also contain training about how to use proper eye contact.  All this because “conversation isn’t something folks are that good at anymore”.
  • It’s no surprise that in the developing worlds you are far likelier to see investment in wireless networks than in roads development first.  Makes sense on a competitive level but getting connected and getting around isn’t getting easier unless you have smart phone.   

Are we destined to in 5 years time be holed up in our basements, bedrooms and boardrooms connecting online and online only?

Technology at its best,  is disruptive and changes the status quo.   But when part of the status quo was a round of handshakes and a smile, a face to face lunch in in the cafe with a colleague,  attending a party or an outdoor cookout, or a backyard game of volleyball or going for a walk – what’s so wrong with that?  

I’m as guilty as anyone taking too much time online connecting with my Blogging. Twitter and the like and I can see how easily it can keep you in your chair.  I think we have to fight that and fight it hard.   I think that soon – digital isolation is not going to just hurt you at home (“687” friends isn’t really possible)  but at work too.  If you have only an all-digital relationship, how long before your prospects or customers say.. “What?  That’s not a real person.  That’s too small to be a real person..”..

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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The DIFM Kid

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The DIFM Kid

I gave up.   January 1st was the day that I was done.

I gotta just focus on what I do well and maybe do that better.

Now I pay a 14 year old whiz kid (a friend of my son),  to just do technology stuff for me now.  “The DIFM Kid” (Do It For Me) is what I call him. (He is pictured here as rendered by my wife)  I don’t pay him a lot.  But the ROI is unbelievable.

Let him set up the Netflix on the Wii, let him set up my wife’s new Facebook Business Page, let him figure out how to connect the piano keyboard to the PC so we can record some of my son’s music.  Let him figure out why the wifi sync doesn’t work or why we need two Routers now because of all the stuff using whatever it is they use.

I’m not stupid.  Some people (and this is hilarious) think I might be a little on the  “techie” side of the ledger.   ( LOL- that’s called Acting man) but it is getting harder out there.  I don’t have the time,  but I have the need.

I just realized no matter how many manuals and instructions I read, or how many tutorials or videos I watch, I’m not going to get it.  Or I am not going to get it done fast enough.   Or sometimes I am going to make it even worse.   And maybe I need to focus on what I do well already and quit wasting time on stuff I don’t.

And now word has spread about “The DIFM Kid” and me using him.  Now everybody in the extended family is asking for him.  He disappears on Sundays 3 towns over at brother in-law’s house to go set up a new TV or to fix a slow laptop or to connect a transmitter to an outside thermometer.    There’s a darn waiting list for him and texts asking “When is “The DIFM Kid” gonna be around? ”  Things are looking great for him.

There are a lot of us out there feeling that way, consumers and small businesses alike.

You don’t have to look that far to see that Do It For Me services are going to explode not just in my family but in the marketplace too.  I see them every day grow stronger and stronger where I work.    They’ve been around forever,  but now the speed in which new becomes old, or good becomes just OK or keeping up becomes “What the hell just happened?”  is accelerating at a pace where DIY ( Do It Yourself) might soon feel so yesterday

That smacks of opportunity.  Be ready- The next DIFM Kid could ( or maybe should) be you. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

5 Things You Will Soon Lose (But It’s OK)

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Your Resume:  What you think of and how good you are about getting or keeping customers  (the only thing any employer truly should care about)  will soon best embodied by your blazing trail on the web via your blogs, slideshares, tweets, posts and commentary by businesses and customers you’ve influenced ( or not).  Your web fingerprint is a lot more credible than that single pager of spin we’ve grown to love.

 Your Thirst For Big Numbers.  You’ll soon despise having 500+contacts in LinkedIn or 10,000 followers on Twitter.  Instead you’ll yearn for being part of as many smaller networks you can.  It’s a bit sad, but we are embracing ever more tightly, the belief that “the bigger the network is the lower the trust of those within it.”  Tough business this world of trust is.

Your Memory:  Well, at least the loose data stuff.  With the Googlization of the world and how it changes how we use our brains (it’s a fact by the way)  to find out about stuff,  you’ll need just a swipe or a couple of spoken syllables into your (insert wicked smart battery powered thingy here) to get that memory jogged.  Good news it that neuroscience studies show it leaves more focus for the brain to work on more important stuff. 

Your Social Skills:  Tragic but we’ll soon be hard pressed to remember how to make eye contact, know which hand to lead with to shake hands and remember that unlike IM, you have to wait for someone to stop talking before sharing your thought.  Forget “Virtual Meeting”,  “Flesh Meeting” will become two dirtier words. Happily,  when we realize what we’ve lost we’ll get a fresh start on new and improved social skills. 

Your Boundaries:  It will happen.  Meeting at10 am.  Meeting at2:30 pm.  Go home at4pm.  Play with kids.  Nice dinner at6pm.  Watch reruns of 3 and a ½ men (Sheen came back from the dead- it was of course, just a dream).  Meeting at9pm with New Zealand staff.  Sleep.   Meeting at8am in UK client.  Meeting at10 am.   Rinse and Repeat.  Global is big. Global is different.  But global is money. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

 Mark