It's pretty common to hear advice about closing a sale during sales training. In fact I'm pretty sure you can't get away from two things in sales training: offering benefits and closing the sale. These are the tried and true cornerstones of traditional sales training. The problem is that they may be the wrong cornerstones of sales training.
Neil Rackham's take on sales is rather academic. In the 1970s Rackham was involved in numerous sales studies commissioned by various companies around the globe where his team observed over 35,000 sales calls. They took notes, analyzed the data, and the result, a book entitled SPIN Selling is what I found to be a very interesting take on sales technique.
The first thing I gained from Rackham's book is to disregard any assumptions I might have had about closing the sale. Their are mountains of books and websites claiming that they have unlocked the secrets of closing the sale, that there is some still secret nuance of closing technique that hasn't been properly utilized by the sales force in general. Placing too much faith and emphasis on closing a sale is a mistake because the importance of your closing is misunderstood and would not seem so important if you laid the proper groundwork earlier in the sales process.
The model for success proposed in Rakham's book is this- The Spin Model: Situation Questions, Problem Questions, Implication Questions, Need-Payoff Questions. The sales process is an investigative one. By cleverly uncovering the true concerns of the buyer you can build up the Explicit Needs which will advance the sale.
Large sales require different techniques than small sales. Features don't matter in large sales, Explicit Needs do. Sales techniques for low value sales don't work for high value sales. Buyers simply don't fall for features or emotional ploys when considering a large scale purchase. There are many possible reasons for this but one that seems plausible is that a buyer knows she is stuck with a product once she has it and cannot easily divest herself of it. The embarrassment, cost and trouble of erasing a buying mistake on the large scale causes buyers to exercise caution.
Opening the call is important, but needn't be stressful and highly structured or planned. The key things to remember for openings are that you should be genuine, no canned greetings or practiced sales lines. Next, allow the buyer to ask questions or lead with personal chit chat. If the buyer is leading the discussion it's likely a safe place to start. The smarter, more experienced or senior the buyer you are facing the more likely they are going to want to get down to business quickly. Don't waste time or they will react, usually in a manner contrary to your desires. Also, don't offer solutions too soon. They aren't likely to spill the beans about all their operational woes very soon or quickly, and so how could you be certain you understand how to frame your product to them as the cure for all their ills? You can't, so don't.
This is why Successful Sellers put their main effort into investigation. By asking questions you uncover the needs, desires, requirements and obstacles to the sale. By investigating carefully you can prompt the buyer to understand and feel that you have the solution to her problem without boring her to death with lame investigative technique like "So what equipment are you using now?, Does that work well for you?, Isn't that expensive for you?" Of course you need to probe for potential problems with the buyer's current product to gain a way to introduce your product as a solution, but be smart about how you do that.
The purpose of questions during the sales process is building an Implied Need into an Explicit Need. What does this mean? An Implied Need is just about any statement made by the buyer that expresses a want or concern that can be satisfied by the seller. An Explicit Need is that same concern or want which has been transformed in the mind of the buyer by a line of questioning from the seller so it now appears to be imperative and necessary to make a change, or to purchase your product to satisfy that newly perceived need. Building needs in the mind of the buyer is key to success. If the buyer wants your product their is little need to 'close the sale'.
Here are the four types of questions you need to practice, and ask during the sales process. You needn't ask these in any particular order, though be cautious about diving in to Need-payoff questions too early:
Situation Questions- fact finders that clarify background information. Don't bore your audience with too many!
Problem Questions- explore problems, difficulties and dissatisfaction in areas where your product can help. Inexperienced sellers do not ask enough Problem Questions.
Implication Questions- taking customer problems and exploring their effects and consequences. "What effect does this reject rate have on customer satisfaction?" Implication Questions take some planning and forethought. If a buyer signals that they have a minor problem, use these questions to tease out details about how the problem is greater than currently understood. Ask things like- What are the hidden costs of training for that equipment/quality assurance/ employee turnover/ customer satisfaction/ other costs? Rackham found that these types of questions were especially powerful in selling to decision makers. You need to see the underlying implications of problems and "speak the language" of the buyer.
How do you effectively plan Implication Questions? Start with a blank piece of paper and draw a square in the center. Fill that square with one potential problem the buyer might have. Next, draw a square off each corner of your original, central square, large enough to write an implication related to the problem you just identified. In this way you can map out your game plan before stepping in to the sales call.
Need-payoff Questions- getting the customer to tell you the benefits that your product could offer. Asking these questions has a very high correlation to sales success. Here's an example- "Would it be useful to speed this operation by 10%?" You don't want to use these questions too early because you'll get caught in a weird trap where the buyer will not feel any Explicit Need for your product (because you haven't built one up yet) and you're likely to face some difficult objections. Need payoff questions express hopeful 'payoffs' your product could bring to the buyer. In comparison Implication Questions are more about consequences, problems, negative results. So, for a successful Need-payoff Question you need to try something like this- " Would that be useful to improve/reduce/satisfy...etc.? Need-payoff questions help rehearse the buyer for the internal selling of your product. You want them to go their boss and say "I found the solution!", so get used to thinking about how you are going to frame Need-payoff questions.
Of course you want to offer benefits during your sales call, just like you might expect to if you are traditionally trained. Just keep in mind that when you are offering benefits you are demonstrating how your product meets or exceeds the Explicit Needs expressed through the sales call, using the SPIN Model. Don't confuse benefits with advantages or features which are less valued by buyers in large sale situations.
Understanding the differences between a Continuance and an Advance are key. Continuances are only positive words or strokes used by buyers to politely dismiss salespeople. An Advance is a definable action that has or will occur as the result of the sales call. A meeting, a test, an evaluation, a discussion or an agreement to set up an appointment with senior management would be considered examples of an Advance. Knowing the difference here will prevent you from wasting time when you've been 'politely dismissed' and regarded that as 'rapport building' in the timeline of relationship building.
Preventing Objections is more effective than handling objections. One key to preventing objections is building value and getting the buyer into an enthusiastic state about the sale. People that get the most objections are those that try to sell features and advantages as benefits. They really don't build up the buyer's enthusiasm and their offerings don't hold sway for the buyer, so these attempts to advance the sale fall flat most times, especially with experienced buyers. Remember that experienced buyers, and those smart enough to see the consequences of a poor decision for their reputation within their organization won't strike at the wrong bait.
You're never going to completely avoid objections, so don't sweat it when they occur, but keep in mind if you are receiving objections often it is a clear sign you're doing something wrong. Remember that you want to build up the need in the mind of the buyer, get them enthusiastic about your product. You've investigated by using Situation and Problem Questions, built up need by asking Implication Questions followed by Need-payoff Questions as appropriate so that you may take the sale to the next logical step. The next step could be another meeting, sending test samples, a meeting with senior management, or the placing of an order for product.
Large sales take time, they're usually not quick transactions. Practicing the techniques mentioned here one at a time, at least three times is going to help you improve your sales conversion rates. Get yourself used to the process of investigation, prepping before calls by synthesizing potential implications, so that when the buyer signals they have a problem, you don't stutter and stumble, but move in smartly with a designed plan. Build up need through Implication Questions and then drive home the benefits with Need-payoff Questions. Simple, right?
The 4-Hour Workweek really comes down to one thing: successful use of Pareto's Principle.
Roughly one third of Tim Ferriss' book reads like an infomercial but one can see example after example of how applying Pareto's Principle to everything we do in our work and personal lives gives us the opportunity to maximize our return on effort.
In the interest of being brief, here is my distillation of the key points raised in The 4-Hour Workweek:
- The concept of eustress, or good stress. This is something I can relate to as I thrive on a certain degree of urgency in my work life. I've never been a fan of clerical work and I think that is partially due to it's wholly unexciting nature.
- Do you want to be a millionaire or do you want to have the options you believe a millionaire has in terms of freedom of choice?
- Don't underestimate yourself and overestimate the competition.
- Parkinson's Law- a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in the time allotted for it's completion.
- 3 times per day ask yourself two questions: Am I being productive or just active? Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?
- You have to be prepared to deal with an uncomfortable emotional reaction as you consider difficult choices and resolutions.
- If you are the average of the 5 people you interact with most, then who are you?
- People are smarter than you think. Give them a chance to prove themselves.
- Using a Virtual Assistant to take care of research and personal chores could be a great boost to personal productivity.
- MBA= Management by Absence
- "Process Driven" rather than "person driven" allows others to make things happen without delays caused by you (acting as a bottleneck)
- Make non-fatal or reversible decisions as quickly as possible. Fast decisions preserve usable attention for what matters.
- Regret is past tense decision making. Eliminate complaining to minimize regret.
Some other useful things you'll find in this book are various websites and services which are listed in each chapter with reviews, helpful hints and potential pitfalls, so that you can make immediate use of the strategies you're exploring.
If you are a person dedicated to getting things done I'm not sure that The 4-Hour Workweek holds an abundance of wisdom for you since you likely already employ many of the concepts in the book. One of the major weaknesses of the 4-Hour sales pitch is the assumption that everyone detests their job but lacks the creativity or desire to do something about it. The concepts and habits that Mr. Ferriss asks you to adopt would be quite unmanageable for most people, in my opinion, because they are too aggressive and emotionally uncomfortable.
A few weeks ago I attended a local Chamber of Commerce meeting and one of the attendees joked that she had received a copy of 4-Hour Workweek several years ago as a gift, had read a few chapters, and the book still sits half-read on her nightstand. During this time she has grown her educational services business from a one person operation to dozens of employees, with recent state accreditation. She enjoys what she is doing and has no need for the deceptive escapism that is often part of the 4-Hour plan.
The 4-Hour Workweek has plenty of interesting things to say but I would advise you to figure out what it is you love to do (Eustress), and go do that. The rest should follow.
Just before my first management assignment, in between the time when I was offered the job and I needed to report, I was all smiles. I had happened upon the opportunity most accidentally. I wasn't even looking for a management job but simply looking to survive the summer in the sometimes roller coaster world of seasonal employment. Upon learning there was an open position at a local restaurant I remember thinking "I can surely do that!" I had been lucky enough to experience the leadership of several enlightened bosses among the many dreadful managers since I had started delivering The Buffalo News at age 12 on a local paper route. I was eager to model the effectiveness of those enlightened role models and to prove to myself that I would be better than the majority of moody, confused and short-tempered souls elevated to management I had observed for far too long in my working life.
Reality sometimes hit hard, even though I was protected by a hearty shied of youthful exuberance, optimism, and of course, ignorance. Within hours of being charged with opening a restaurant that had been shuttered for eight months I realized I had waded farther from the shore than I was accustomed and suddenly had to contend with currents and winds and (gulp), a lack of orientation in a leadership role I had assumed would come rather naturally to me. Everyone needed something from me right away, and moment after moment after moment in an endless stream of questions, I suddenly realized I might not have all the answers.
I survived the opening, and training new and inexperienced employees, and massive crowds of customers desperate for a meal after enduring shuttle rides and bus transfers to see Alaska's famed interior backcountry. What I learned in those first few weeks has stuck with me years later as I reflect on my current goals to become a more effective manager and leader. Technique, used in conjunction with your natural talent, allows you to tackle problems quickly, elevate employees to great performances and allows that monkey on your back to give the occasional massage.
One of the best features of Erika Andersen's book- Growing Great Employees is that worksheets are included as part of each chapter so you can practice mapping out your questions, techniques and knowledge. The best feature of course is the sage advice and easily written action plans for all your management woes. Listening skills, selecting for core competencies while hiring, the Social Style Model, and a coaching toolkit are all laid out in this book, allowing you to pick and choose topics depending on where you need immediate help.
Becoming aware of the techniques needed to fulfill your responsibilities as a manager allows you to perform better, and therefor to lead your employees more effectively. Knowing that I can now analyze a situation and respond appropriately, with great effectiveness...wow, I love it!
If you're like me you may not want to dive into a situation that requires "haggling". I can't say that the idea of dancing about with someone to verbally negotiate the price of product has ever sat comfortably with me. I never experienced haggling as a child to the degree I assumed it was anything more than a cultural convention in Hollywood movies used to crudely describe foreign cultures. While I've grown more comfortable with the idea of negotiating as an adult due to my desire to get a good deal it would not be fair to say I'm a Haggler.
Bargaining for Advantage by G. Richard Shell is a study of negotiation which should demistify the process of negotiations for everyone. You're not guaranteed to be an expert negotiator after reading this book, but you certainly will have a framework to deconstruct what you see in everyday transactions as well as an idea of some simple tactics you can use to prepare yourself for those moments of negotiation that permeate our lives.
So, what can be learned from Shell's book? Well, like most things in life preparation is a key contributor to success in negotiations. Even veteran negotiators and individuals regarded as highly successful professional negotiators are diligent in preparing for their work by studying the situation they are charged with resolving. Successful negotiators focus on areas of common ground between parties and settlement options. They anticipate the arguments of their counterparts so they can frame their arguments in a manner that the other party perceives as appealing and consistent with their own logic for resolution.
Shell breaks down the negotiation process into phases allowing the novice to gain a clear picture of what is going on but more importantly what could happen if you are prepared, focused and educated prior to the start of negotiations. He offers some bullet points on various components of the stages of negotiation which the reader can easily translate into their everyday life.
Tips for a Potential Negotiation
- Identify the Decision-maker
- Look for Common Ground
- Identify Interfering Interests
- Search for Low-Cost Options (that satisfy the other party and advance your own goals)
The points above seem both obvious and simple, but the devil is in the details, and those details require negotiation. When you determine your comfort level, style and goals prior to a negotiation you have a great opportunity to advance your goals by preparing your arguments, understanding your opponent and maintaining an atmosphere of integrity with all parties involved. Be wary of possible cultural differences in negotiation style, as well as the pitfalls of viewing negotiations solely as competitive contests. Use subtle psychological framing such as the Similarity Principle, and Tolerant Amnesia to your advantage.
Lastly, remember to probe first, disclose later!
If you ever find yourself stressed-out about deadlines, projects and details then you should take the time to get to know David Allen. Even if your able to plow through more than most people by brute force and mindfulness you'll find his "Getting Things Done" inspirational and instructive. David Allen allows you to apply a philosophy of organization and productivity to your work as well as providing some simple tips and tricks to get things done more easily, more confidently, with less effort. David Allen is a productivity expert with over 1.3 million followers on Twitter. He's got a great website with free downloads, newsletters and podcasts. It seems he's making it as easy as possible for you to get things done!
I listened to the audiobook version of Getting Things Done which is a new mode of learning for me. It was great to be able to listen to each individual chapter whenever I wanted, repeat, and fast forward depending on my whims. Something to be careful of when listening to audiobooks is the idea that you can learn by listening to material in the background while doing something else. This strategy isn't going to work if your anything like me. Concentration on the audio material was key to my absorbtion of Allen's principles and examples, and I suggest you follow suit.
What did I take away from this audio-book experience? Namely that you do have to apply some effort to your work life organization and flow much the same way you would attack a hobby you truly enjoyed. Instead of being stressed about all the things you think you might need to conclude a project successfully take a moment to ask yourself "What do I need to do to get this accomplished?". This process starts by outlining any action item requiring more than one step, or two minutes worth of effort. By clearly knowing what you need to do, you can go ahead and get it done properly and without questioning whether you've done all you needed to do. Next you provide the physical infrastructure to allow the efficient transition of project materials from undone, to a state of doing (or incubation), and then finally to your final, finished product. Simply having an "in" "incubation/reference" and "out" box helps to create a trusted system that reduces your stress levels and increases the quality of your work time. Finally, having the confidence and mindset that your trusted system will empower you to better performance gives you a calmness and sense of direction that minimizes stress ans increases productivity.
Certainly there is much more to David Allen's sytem than what I have mentioned above. By simply using just a few of the key elements he discusses and applying them toward your work you'll find you have a new, happy sense of organization that instantly lifts your spirits and dimishes your doubts. This all leads to a more productive you!
This book was everything I'd hoped it would be. Yearning for a tale of rebel managers forging a trail of legendary achievements through the jungles of the everyday workplace I was treated to the secrets of the world's best managers and the techniques and attitudes that brought them success. Not too sound too dramatic here, but the discoveries I made reading this book encouraged me by lighting a path I felt I could follow with eagerness....and positive results. Compiled and analyzed data from the Gallup Organization highlights the key elements that measure a great manager against a good one.
Where to begin? So chock full of goodness that my notebook is bursting with hastily scribbled themes, ideas and checklists it's obvious I'll need to reflect on what I've read several times for it all to sink in and be put to good use. Something wonderful about First, Break All The Rules is that much of the information conveyed is easily applicable. You could say there is an instant trick list embedded in the sage advice presented in each page which will immediately allow you to begin an improvement in your applied behavior. Of course following the theme of the title the first chapter informs me that the best managers do everything good managers aren't supposed to do. They play favorites, they treat people differently based on personality and talent level and they certainly don't make the mistake of assuming that everyone has unlimited potential.
Yes great managers are also the reason that some companies achieve great success, great profit and have great public reputations. "Managers Trump Companies". That is, your employees have a relationship with their direct supervisor which dictates not only their satisfaction and tenure at a company but their overall performance as well. Without this important relationship with a great manager, even given identical tools and training to another unit within your company, your employees lacking a great manager aren't going to show you the performance you could see from them. Great managers also naturally select against employees who are just there for the salary and benefits, cruising through their days and waiting for retirement, or 5pm. All of this is acheived through an interactive relationship between employee and manager based on goals, performance, discussion and optimizing talent.
Talent it turns out, is not precisely what I thought it was. According to Buckingham and Coffman's research talent can be defined as "a recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied". It hadn't occurred to me that great housekeepers have a "talent" for being able to clean rooms consistently, day in and day out, while feeling energized by their results. I had thought that the best housekeepers were just more or less consistent, and 'hardworking'. If they had much sense they would consider taking on additional responsibility to lead their team in a supervisory role. After all, why bust your hump like that everyday? I no longer have this opinion.
It was a mistake for me to think, as I believe many achievement oriented people do, that my value is proportional to my potential for advancement and career growth. Taking the example from Buckingham and Coffman I have to confess I now have a better feel for strengths based roles and how much sense they make in helping people achieve their best performance. My specific talents are what are going to determine where I best fit within an organization. If I am lucky enough to be part of an organization that creates a path of least resistance between my talent and the satisfaction of the client, then we will all be happy winners. Further, when I apply these same ideas to my direct reports, then I'll multiply that effect.
Buckingham and Coffman seperate talent into three categories: Striving, Thinking and Relating. You can't teach talent, it's either present within a person or it's not. Talent should not be confused with skills and knowledge, both of which can be taught and improved through study and repetition. Talent is a unique dividing line that separates people into those that can do and can't do, depending on the area of talent needed to excel in a particular situation. Great managers spend the most time with their best talent because they know that the amplification of that attention to the most talented performers will pay much bigger dividends than constant attention to low talent employees. In cases where you have low or limited talent you need to look at what can be done to maximize what talent is there, and obscure or minimize the results in the areas of low performance. This could be done by pairing employees who have complimentary talent sets and casting them in the correct roles once they have been assessed. The best managers always look to maximize what talent is available and never assume that someone can be 'fixed'.
Keep in mind that none of the insights imparted in First, Break All The Rules are easy fix-alls. Many of the strategies and practices written there will require a great deal of effort by the good (aspiring to be Great) manager AND the daunting possibility that company culture may stifle the application of these efforts. The good news is that when you are armed with the knowledge and confidence that comes with understanding what yields the best results you can begin to deconstruct what is happening around you, then act toward your goals in a more effective manner as much as the environment allows. I would highly recommend that you read this book!
A few days ago I finished reading The Personal MBA and now my head is spinning. It's a wonderful feeling to have a sudden point of reference to help you identify what you need to know, what you don't know, but also the things you knew all along (but maybe didn't have the confidence in your ability to trust your insight and wisdom). As Josh Kaufman mentions early on in his book, The Personal MBA is as much a reference as anything else. You don't need to read the book through in one sitting but rather use it as a guide to test various areas of knowledge and learn the 200+ skills, traits and priciples included for your personal and proffesional growth.
I borrowed my copy of The Personal MBA from the King County Library system in keeping with the idea that I'm budgeting my personal education, my DIYMBA, as low cost as possible. I will have to purchase a copy to refer back to because Josh's book is going to be a valuable reference for me in the coming months as I begin to explore various topics that I don't have much working knowledge with. Amazon, here I come!
What's so great about Josh Kaufman's Personal MBA? He provides his readers with exactly what he promised. Outlined in related chapters are distilled insights, laws, rules, anecdotes, examples and guides to help you quickly analyze a situation and make decisions. After reading a few pages in Personal MBA about how to analyze production problems, then synthesize what the solutions might be I instantly realized I had just learned something without any effort. I now have a decision tree of sorts, there's no mystery in my mind about what factors I need to consider when looking at a similar real-life issue.
This book would be an excellent option for someone cutting their teeth in their first management gig, or even someone with a few years under their belt who was likely promoted as a star performer but not given much training on what a "manager" really is. It appears to me that this is a common scenario in today's business world and is the likely cause of high turnover in many companies.
I'm also finding that there is so much chit chat about "Leadership" nowadays that I feel a nearly insurmountable burden of learning awaits my every effort to gain proficiency in these modern "must-have" skill sets that have popped up in pop business culture. As an example yesterday on Twitter I spotted a tweet about Cultural Intelligence. Okay, I thought, this must be a variation on the theme of Emotional Intelligence, and of course we see no shortage of EI reading material on the internet. Is this the new buzzword in pop business lingo on the internet and twitter? Not sure about that but I do know that by following the reading list in Personal MBA I got my hands on a copy of First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. I'm only 75 pages in, and will blog about this great(!) book later, but I already know I need to take this new term, Cultural Intelligence, and distill it down to the essentials, then act from there.
Go get yourself a copy of Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman and watch your confidence, your insight and your ability to act appropriately soar. Thanks Josh!
I'll start by saying that the The Milkshake Moment was a quick read, energetic, direct and somewhat inspirational. When I spotted this book in the stacks of my local library I was actually searching for other authors and titles and wasn't too enthusiastic about borrowing any of the options I saw in the business books section. I had accessed the online catalogue minutes before to search for my 'shopping list' of titles and found that everything I wanted was out on loan and poor old me was going to need to be patient. I placed 7 books 'on hold'.
The subtitle of The Milkshake Moment (Overcoming Stupid Systems, Pointless Policies, and Muddled Management to Realize Real Growth) caught my attention and evoked a smirk. Certainly in the last 10 years I had worked for a company or two that had some pointless policies, some muddled management and some downright stupid systems. Figuring that a free loaned book was worth at least a glance, I checked it out and set to reading that very night.
Steven S Little begins by recounting a disappointing experience at a hotel after a long day of travel where a simple request for a milkshake was left unfulfilled. After calling room service and requesting a milkshake the author was informed that milkshakes weren't on the menu, though ice cream and milk were certainly available as individual items... you get the point.
Long ago yours truly had a summer job as a waiter at a beachfront bar on the East Coast. The manager told all of us on staff one day during a training session that "We do not serve Iced Tea!" Okay. Customers kept requesting iced tea and this was the reason the question had been raised during our meeting. We all knew iced tea was not on the menu, but that never stopped customers from requesting off-menu items from time to time. I dutifully accepted this mandate to refuse iced tea to our customers which was consistently met with disappointment and often some confusion on the face of our customers.
There came a day when our manager met his match. I can't say I don't recount this tale with a bit of wonder, not only because asking for iced tea, or a milkshake, could be so simple to fulfill, but because the manager had worked so hard to refuse the request. Surely it would have taken less energy to relent, to simply make the iced tea, make the guest happy (and..hint,hint....keep my gratuity closer to 20% than 5%!). The guest I mention here was a family man, wife and child present. It was a hot, sunny, somewhat windy day.
"I'd like an iced tea" he asked me.
"I'm sorry, we don't have iced tea" I replied.
"You have hot tea on the menu, and you have ice, right?"
"Yes, I'm sorry sir. The manager says we can't serve iced tea."
"Why don't you go ask the manager if he can explain to me why I can't get an iced tea at a restaurant that serves both tea and ice?"
I have to admit that I was quite curious how Ralph (not his real name) was going to react to this guy. After explaining the plight of this customer to Ralph and intimating that I had detected a thinly veiled civility in his request to speak with the manager Ralph went to the sunny deck to uphold his policy. He returned to tell me to "place some damned ice in a glass and pour tea on top!"
In a sense this event was a Milkshake Moment for me because I realized just how silly this policy of Ralph's was, and how much time and effort was wasted denying a request that wasn't time intensive at all. Why was this rule in place? One can only guess. I felt stupid for upholding Ralph's rule in the first place, but relieved at the same time that I could probably avoid a difficult situation in the future simply by thinking "Does this make sense?"
I tell you all of this so that you know how much weight Steven S Little's book holds for someone who experienced a Milkshake Moment from an employee perspective, certainly at various times in life from a customer perspective, and a few years later when I had secured my first management assignment the realization that crazy little policies like this can come about when a manager feels a strong psychological needs to hold their ground. I now believe that in many situations managers can create policies that are intended to protect their personal space, their boundaries, their sense of control and power. We are, after all human, and basic psychological tendencies to create a comfort zone for oneself could easily translate to an ill-conceived policy of personal space protection.
In Chapter 8 (yes I'm skipping around for expediency) Little writes a little bit about how managers should be conscious of how our actions as are judged externally, not internally. We need to be very careful about how are actions, policies and products are judged by the public since this is the ultimate measure of our success in satisfying the customer's needs. Here we find a little story about a restaurant manager that refused to move some tables around to accommodate Steven and his party.
Chapter 9 quickly follows by showing us a flip-side example of good management, a bar manager who takes it upon herself to put effort into her relationships with her customers and to make their experience memorable. I briefly worked for a restarateur who preached that our customer's experience with us should be "Restorative", that each customer should leave having been restored to a better version of themselves, refreshed and delighted. I really like that idea. That's exactly how I would like to feel when I leave a restaurant, or when I order a Milkshake from hotel room service, or iced tea from a sunburned waiter. I'm not sure I ever heard the concept of Customer Satisfaction encapsulated so eloquently as I did from this owner.
Though the examples from Chapters 8 and 9 I mention here showcase individual managers at the front lines the lessons learned here should be applied throughout all levels of organizations seeking to succeed by satisfying their customers. The simple equation is that a happy client creates value for your brand, leads to revenue and creates the blueprint for success you'll need to repeat as often as possible to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace. In many ways observing the simplest path to a happy customer and creating postive Milkshake Moments is easy if you observe your customers reactions and listen to their comments.
Here's a link to Steven S Little's website if you're interested in his ideas on Growth.