Be a Masterful Thanker

In the holiday spirit, I share this Fast Company article, “Make 2012 Your Best Year Yet.”

My favorite suggestion is to embrace gratitude as a business strategy. Many of us suffer from GDD or Gratitude Deficit Disorder. Who do you know who is a masterful “thanker”?

Despite our good intentions and actions, we receive much more flak than gratitude. We are hungry for genuine appreciation and thanks. We want to know that we matter, and that our efforts make the world a better place.

So as we end 2011 and start a new year, think how you will communicate your appreciation. How can you catch people in the act of goodness or kindness? How can you fill the global hunger for gratitude?

In this spirit of gratitude, here is a poem that a fellow Tweeter shared with me recently. It’s a golden oldie.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even to the dull and the ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;

they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain or bitter,

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals,

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love,

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,

it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life,

keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s

Happy Holidays however you celebrate: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa and Happy New Year!

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Six Things you Can Learn from Conducting Win Loss Interviews

I am always surprised that more companies don’t have a formal win loss program since the ROI is amazing, and what you learn from this process can often be quickly implemented.

To conduct win loss, interview your customers or lost customers shortly after the sales event to find out why they chose to do business with you or decided on a competitor. The data gathered combines sales intelligence and knowledge from customers, competitors, and your marketplace. Those companies that do win loss analysis claim to improve their win rate by 15-30%. That’s a nice return on investment.

Here are some improvements I have helped companies uncover through win loss interviews and analysis.

1. Improve sales professionalism: Benefit-more customers and customer retention.

Beware of the sales person who is fixated with, “How are we doing compared to the competition?” This is a turnoff. In one recent case, this behavior cost the sale. The customer was strongly leaning towards this company’s solution, but the account rep rubbed the decision-maker the wrong way with his pushiness to close the deal. This was a gift to the competition. This behavior is most injurious when your product really isn’t that different from the competitor’s.

2. Improve the quality of your customer testimonials: Benefit-more customers

This one comes up often. Make sure you have picked respectable and responsible people among your customers to represent your product or service. Make sure they really know your product, and can answer just about any question your prospect might have. Provide enough customer testimonials, so prospects have a choice and you are not overburdening your testimonial customers.

3. Improve implementation, training and service: Benefit-customer retention

I hear this one time and time again. Companies often get careless after the sale is made, and don’t hold the customer’s hand enough during implementation and during that period of time when the customer is ramping up and learning how to use your product or service. Make it easy for them. Ideally assign them a dedicated rep, so they don’t have to repeat their story to a new “help desk” rep every time. This continuous repetition is also not efficient for your staff. Get it right sooner and you will have happier customers, less downtime and fewer help desk calls.

4. Focus on Product Features Your Customers Value the Most: Benefit-more customers and customer retention

You will find out about features that your product doesn’t offer that the competition does or does better. This isn’t always a quick fix, but sometimes it is. However, this knowledge can fuel product development. More immediately this information helps Sales focus on your product features that customers value the most, perhaps by vertical market, knowledge that also comes out of win loss interviews.

5. Learn Which Clients Are and Are Not Good Prospects: Benefit-qualify the right customers sooner. More customers

Good sales people tend to focus on solving the customer’s business problems with your company’s solution. They usually are not fixated on the competition, but rather on your company’s solution. Win loss data can help provide fuel for how and why your solution is the best, and where it is not so strong. Knowing which clients are not good prospects for your service gives Sales more time to focus on better prospects, which improves close rates and revenue.

6. Don’t Forget to Research Wins: Benefit-customer retention and incredible intelligence, not just competitive intelligence

Many companies just want to focus on losses. Wow, are they missing the boat. Your customers are usually a better source of intelligence. Generally they will spend more time telling you what you’re doing right; what you’re doing wrong; and provide you with ideas for product development and the competition. They will tell you about implementation, service and how well your product is working for them (or not). Psychologically they want you to be successful. They chose your solution. Their sharing is a reflection on their good business decision using your company’s solution.

Conclusion: This is just a smattering of what you can uncover in win loss interviewing. If you analyze the data, you can quickly uncover trends in your business, and more importantly take corrective action.

What have you uncovered in win loss interviews to help your company or your client?

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