We all can fall into this trap. One example of a potential talking-down situation is after someone leaves our company, goes to a competitor, and uses (steals) proprietary information/knowledge (I am not going to deal with the legal aspects of this situation; rather, I’m considering how we should deal with customers or prospective customers). Here are a couple of other examples of times we may be caught speaking negatively about a competitor: 1) We know our competitor has offered a lowball price, which they will not be able to sustain; 2) We know our competitor’s product/service is inferior to ours, but the prospective customer cannot discern the difference.
There may be a way to tastefully educate your prospect and open their eyes to any misinformation/misrepresentations, but my experience is that when you step into this dialogue, you’re usually the one who comes out looking bad. My strong advice is to focus on your prospect and your product/service, and helping them understand why you are the perfect solution. Provide examples and use customer references — especially people your customer may know in their industry.
How do you feel when someone else speaks poorly of his or her competitors? Have you ever made a sale by bad-mouthing a competitor? I would love to hear about it.
This quote is from President Harry Truman. I (Tom) made it until age 30 before I developed the discipline of reading (i.e., other than Sports Illustrated and the sports section of the local newspapers). One of my running buddies was always talking about the most recent book he had read, and his enthusiasm was contagious. Before long, I had become a “real” reader, too.
We highly recommend incorporating a reading program into your daily routine. It is amazing what a difference it can make in expanding your knowledge base and broadening your view. We are currently reading a book about the pre- and post-Depression eras, called Forgotten Man. The similarities between FDR and President Obama are amazing. We have come to realize that there may, in fact, be nothing new under the sun.
We would recommend starting by reading about something you are interested in. There are some really cool books on leadership, written by great coaches, for example. Just do it!
You can find my book list(.docx) on the resources page.
Last winter we returned to our favorite place to ski in Colorado. In order to utilize our many frequent flyer miles, we had to take a flight that deposited us about three hours away from our destination. That meant we had to reserve a shuttle. Prior to our departure date we were contacted multiple times by the shuttle service, confirming our reservation — sometimes with the wrong date and/or time. Honestly, we thought we had a 50-50 chance of getting picked up. To our delight, the shuttle driver was waiting, with our name on a placard, upon our arrival. During our three-hour journey, we told the driver about our experience with his shuttle service. We related the story of the many phone calls we had received, and told him how the calls and misinformation had created a great deal of anxiety. He gave us the name of the owner and said she would love to know about our experience.
On about the fourth day of our vacation, despite the fact that the sole purpose of the trip was relaxation, I decided to call the owner of the shuttle service. Due to our driver’s strong encouragement, I thought it would be the right thing to do. And what was the owner’s reaction? You guessed it. She was very defensive, and cut me off several times. I finally terminated the call. When I got off the phone, I was angry, frustrated, and offended. After all, I was just trying to help a fellow businessperson.
How do you and your associates respond to legitimate service complaints? Are you willing to listen? We believe world-class businesses convert these situations into opportunities to create loyal customers/clients.
p.s. I didn’t say it is easy. If you click this link (http://www.doescheradvisors.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Having-Effective-Difficult-Customer-Conversations.pptx power point), you will go to a December presentation on Having Effective Difficult Customer Conversations.
As a follow-up to our June 12, 2012, newsletter, entitled Levels of Leaders: Is he or she a leader?, we wanted to talk about entrepreneurs. I have two clients who just get it. When I first met each of them, I asked the following question: What was your first business? They both smiled and enjoyed telling me how, when they were in their early teens, they would go down to the corner store to purchase candy and then resell it to their classmates. This past summer we were in Guatemala, staying at a mission house. After a week of building houses for widows, my work boots were pretty dirty. The locals told me there was a young man (actually a young boy) who could clean them up for me. At the designated time, he arrived at the house and gave me a great shine. As he was working on my boots, I couldn’t help but think, “This guy is a 10-year-old businessman.”
So what’s the point? Our posts on April 3 and April 10 encouraged you to “hire owners.” As you build your teams, look for clues to each individual’s personality and attributes and strive to develop associates who have entrepreneurial skills. Some of them may leave to start their own companies, but if you treat them right, most will stay.
In our March 29, 2012, newsletter, we promised to tell another Coach Tom Izzo story. As promised, here it is. There was a janitor who allowed the MSU basketball players to shoot hoops in the field house after the normal hours of operation, as a favor for the coach. Turns out the janitor would also let the coach know which players were actually investing their personal time this way. When the Spartans won the National Championship, Coach Izzo, with a huge smile, said he gave the first championship ring to this janitor. Now, just think about the positive consequences of this classy move by the coach.
We probably all have janitors (or seemingly less-important team members) in our companies. Do we take the time to appropriately recognize them?