Monday, October 31, 2011

A Trick or A Treat?

In honor of Halloween, we are handing out treats. 
Email Melissa at what you're going to be for Halloween, along with your mailing adress, and a treat will be sent your way.

You must email her by 11/2 to redeem this special treat!

Friday, October 28, 2011

KeFactors Friday (Rewind): How to plan a good murder

This is one of my favorite stories, from a veteran high school teacher, Mr. R., who was covering an ethics unit for a senior [critical thinking] class.

After covering the fine points of ethical thought and behavior, the big assignment was to get into small workgroups to plan the perfect murder.

Students who’d been disengaged lit up and got involved. Individuals who hated group projects re-engaged with enthusiasm. Kids in other classes said, “AwwwI wish I had that class.” For a couple days, even Facebook was deserted in favor of this assignment.

By deadline, these bloodthirsty students had their Powerpointed schemes all worked out. That is, until Mr. R. asked the showstopper question:

This is a unit on ethics. Did anyone at any point speak up against this?”

They stared at him the way a lab full of monkeys would stare when all the bananas are inexplicably removed.
“But you sort of gave us permission,” argued one student, “when you made it a homework assignment."
“And we all know it’s not for real,” said another. “No one really gets hurt.”

I know that in business many things can be forgiven if the right outcomes ($$$) are produced, and in recent years it’s become socially acceptable, even hip, to laugh over the “cleverness” of people who win profits by pulling off some ethical sleight-of-hand.
But here are the questions that teacher posed:

If someone in a position of authority initiates or sanctions what you know to be wrongdoing, does that make it all right?
If you’re told that it’s not for real, if you can’t see the victim, or are assured the wrongdoing is a victimless crime, does that then make it all right?

This teacher told me every once in a while he’d have a student who’d raise their hand and say, “Hey, Mr. R., I don’t get this. We’re studying ethics so why do you have us planning a murder? Isn’t that wrong?
Bingo—automatic “A” for that unit.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is Your Prospect Ignoring You?

It happens to everyone. You meet a prospect, have a pleasant chat and they appear interested. They may schedule a second meeting, or even a third. But then that dark day comes. You call and email and you’re ignored. Sometimes, the problem is you.

There are three questions you should ask yourself to ensure your meetings and follow-up tactics have been effective.
1. Did You Click With The Buyer? While you may click with some prospects instantly, your personality may clash with others. To earn a return invitation, focus first on rapport building and being more likable. Some buyers enjoy chit-chat about personal issues, while others want to get right down to business. To establish what the buyer desires ask, "How did you end up at this job?" Do they enthusiastically share bits and pieces of personal history such as where they grew up or went to school? Or do they limit their answer to a short unembellished recitation of career highlights? No matter what is said, the answer illuminates preferences and copying the buyer’s conversational styles helps you establish rapport and keeps the sales cycle progressing.

2. Did You Bring Enough Value? Beyond price, many prospects are looking for a vendor’s ability to meet critical requirements relating to product usage, delivery dates and material requirements. In “Selling to Anyone Over the Phone,” Renee P. Walkup categorizes benefits in five basic categories: saving time, saving money, increasing revenue, reducing stress and improving productivity. Customers desire some of the benefits you offer and don’t care about others. They don't always buy the best solution, but they buy the solution with the best value.

3. Did You Employ Inspired Selling? Inspired selling starts with a positive attitude that is visible to the buyer from the first moment you meet. In a world where buyers have many options, inspired selling creates competitive advantage because it focuses on a critical differentiator that can’t be copied—YOU! Inspired selling shows genuine concern for the buyer’s best interests, and delivers a message customers want to hear. It’s aspirational as well as personal. It doesn’t just tell customers what you can do for them; it evokes emotions and is visionary, painting a clear and compelling picture of how life will improve by making the purchase. Inspired selling will get you follow up appointments and will inspire buyers to buy.

Friday, October 21, 2011

KeFactors Friday (Rewind): The Waiter Rule

The word “context” is frequently used by those in the helping professions, to suggest that care be taken to understand an individual in a bigger-picture way—in the full context of his life, and not merely via a single aspect, such business identity. Western cultures tend to be “low-context,” preferring to focus in on specific aspects. In contrast, certain Asian cultures are “high-context,” believing it’s important to comprehend the character of the whole person, so it would not be impolite to ask a new business associate where she is in birth order, a bit about family history, and how or why she chose her career.

As emotional intelligence and soft skills gain importance in how we conduct business, we’re going to see a more intuitive, high-context approach to selecting candidates for jobs and suppliers for business relationships. This will require a more articulated, well-defined customer service attitude—ie, zero-tolerance for abrasive jerks.

For example, many leaders take cues from “the Waiter Rule.” Recently one of my clients took a new supplier to lunch to discuss a potential business relationship. Up until the lunch, the supplier had been genial, friendly, and alert. Things looked promising. But at the restaurant, the supplier let down his guard and was rude and condescending to a waitress who’d gotten his order wrong.

My client was startled by the change in behavior and, needless to say, the guy didn’t win the account.

Or, to quote CEO Bill Swanson of Raytheon: Watch out for people who have a situational value system, who can switch the charm on and off depending on the status of the person they're interacting with. Be especially wary of those who are rude to people perceived to be in subordinate roles.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What Did You Say??

This week The Hubspot distributed the eBook "101 Awesome Marketing Quotes." Some of my favorites include:

"No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog." - Chris Brogan, Founder, New Marketing Labs

“The next time you hear a social media myth, question it. Ask for the proof, and ask out loud." - Dan Zarrella, Social Media Scientist, Hubspot

"Bring the best of your authentic self to every opportunity." - John Jantsch, Author, Duct Tape Marketing

"Your culture is your brand." - Tony Hsieh, CEO,

"You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new." - Steve Jobs, Apple

To get your free Hubspot eBook visit

Monday, October 17, 2011


Did you know that for the past two years YouTube has ranked among the top 10 sites in terms of visits? Last year, the site also was the most searched phrase on the internet. For those reasons alone it was time for Thought Transformation to be a part of.

That's right, we are now on YouTube! Subscribe to our channel to watch videos full of sales tips that will help you close your next deal.

*Source: Experian Hitwise

Friday, October 14, 2011

KeFactors Friday (Rewind): Customer Labels

Customer. Client. Constituent. Donor. Stakeholder. Patient.

As much as labels tell us what is, they also tell us what isn’t—and therein lies the rub, especially in customer relations.

Plenty of organizations make this mistake: they’ll allocate best resources to serve important customers, at the same time forgetting the value of each and every customer.Taking it a step further, for many organizations, their suppliers and employees are also customers. (How often have I seen on consumer complaint web sites, “I may have to work for these bozos, but I’ll never spend my money on their products or services!”)

Here’s another fact of life: organizations who habitually deceive and mistreat their employees suffer the worst customer relations—because degraded, unhappy employees will, consciously or not, spread the misery around.

So what do you do?

First, get in the habit of treating everyone as a customer. Don’t differentiate: close the gap between customer and co-worker (or supplier). Hopefully this will mean a reduction in phony cordialities, and an increase in spreading a habit of trust and respect.

Second, expect to be surprised. Unfailingly, human beings manage to do better in life, so that delivery man coming through your service door may be working his way through school and could one day become a client.

It’s a matter of trust and treatment. Nobody does business with organizations for whom every transaction requires a leap of faith. Without trust, nothing can really get done. And we may forget the things ever said to us, but we never forget the way we were treated.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Online To-Do: October 2011

Ever heard of Pete Cashmore? He's the CEO of and was named one of Ad Age’s 2011 influencers, a Time Magazine 100 in 2010, and a Forbes magazine web celeb 25.

While started as a blog focused on up-to-the-minute news on social networks and digital trends, today it's the largest independent online news site dedicated to covering digital culture, social media and technology. If you are wondering when the next iPhone is coming out or what is the newest and most effective way to use a QR Code is, this is the site that will give you the answers!

Friday, October 7, 2011

KeFactors Friday (Rewind): Do Your Employees Know What to Do?

It’s easy to tell which organizations put a premium on customer service and on their employees by how the latter responds to conflict—particularly conflict with customers.

Case in point: Last week I was somewhat irked by a drive-through bank teller who interrupted my transactions to have a lengthy chat with a customer in another lane. I understood her intentions were good (be friendly), but her chat took up my time, and later I realized she’d made a large mistake in logging a deposit amount (to my disadvantage!). When I returned the next day to have the error fixed, I pointed out this behavior to the bank manager.

Today I drove through again, and the usually friendly teller was noticeably more frosty—which I found interesting.

A well-trained employee would’ve known: (1) not to personalize the complaint; and (2) said something along the lines of, “Good morning, Ms. Ke! Listen, I talked with my manager about last week’s mistake and wanted to thank you for catching it. I’m sorry you had to come back again, but I promise it won’t happen again.” “Oh puh-lease,” you might say, “she’s human, she clearly has a right to be annoyed with you for complaining to her boss about her.”

Well, sure, but think about the messages being conveyed to the customer. By being curt, she comes off as petty, self-involved, and defensive. (Can such individuals be trusted with customer deposits?) If she’d tried option 2, she’d have radiated professionalism, warmth, and concern for the customer’s time.

I don’t like spending all my time in bank lines, so this individual had become a single point of contact for me where my bank is concerned—to me, she is the bank.

It could be a bank teller, a dry cleaning clerk, a receptionist, or a parking booth attendant. When conflict comes up, do your employees know how to react so you don’t wind up alienating customers?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Loyalty List

Take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. In one column, list to your satisfied customers and in the other column, list your loyal ones. Study your list and try to decipher the reasons behind why certain customers are satisfied and others are loyal. As salespeople, it's our job to find ways to convert those who are satisfied into those who are loyal.