Monthly Archives: March 2010

5 Questions a Buyer Must Answer Before They will Buy

Buyer believability in this time of rampant distrust is critical to your business growth strategies. Leaders of small businesses especially have to be tuned in the buyers concerns. There are so many options facing buyers, they are eager to find those who they believe they can trust. Add that to the overwhelming amount of information facing a buyer, much of which is pure garbage, and the choices can be overwhelming to the buyer.The companies who create buyer believability are the companies who are going to succeed in the new economy. Are you ready to answer the 5 most important questions a buyer needs answered honestly in words and actions?

Buyers have 5 important questions they must have answered successfully before they are willing to buy.

  1. Can I trust you?
  2. Do you care about me?
  3. Are you enjoyable to work with?
  4. Do you have what I want?
  5. Are you going to be fair with me?

Check out this short (less than 3 minutes) video on these buyer questions.
Bonus: Is your organization on a tight budget? Don’t let the learning stop!!! Why not use these Friday videos for a Lunch and Learn for your staff? Bring in a pizza or a deli tray, watch the short video and use the following discussions questions to figure the best way your organization can benefit from this information. I assure you, the ideas and action steps you create out of this process will be of greater value than the minimal investment of a staff lunch.

Lunch and Learn discussion questions for 5 Questions a Buyer Must Answer Before They will Buy:

How are your marketing messages, products and employee/customer interaction developing trust in the buyer’s mind? What action steps can be taken to make improvements?

How do the employees who come in direct contact with potential buyers demonstrate they are more interested in the person than the wallet? What different marketing and sales approaches could employees try to elevate customer care?

Buyers are looking for an enjoyable transaction process. How can you increase buyer joy in every transaction? Hint: Attitude is more important than price.

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What Are You Overcomplicating?

During the space race of the sixties NASA needed a pen that would write in zero-gravity so their astronauts could take notes and keep records while in space. Since pen technology is based on a gravity feed of ink to the point, NASA spent a million dollars (in 1960’s dollars) to design a pen that would work in zero-gravity. What did the cosmonauts use in space? A pencil.

Sometimes I see businesses overcomplicate simple matters and spend hours in meetings agonizing over issues because they are usually focusing on the wrong question. The question wasn’t what pen can write in zero-gravity, the question was how can an astronaut write in space?

What are the questions your leadership team is spending hours of meeting time on, that might be the wrong question?

Are you agonizing and focusing on how and where to trim expenses and labor or are you looking for innovative ways to find more sales to keep you from having to make those layoffs?

Are you asking questions like, “Why did this happen and who is responsible?” Or are you asking, “How can we solve this problem and prevent it from happening again?”

Look at the issues you are facing and trying to address. Which ones are you overcomplicating? You probably can save your organization thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours by doing this one thing today.

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Ready Shoot Aim – It’s How We Do It Now

In traditional times I used to joke about Ready, Shoot, Aim managers who were not getting all the facts before they started to make decisions. In the new economy, at the pace of business today, that is how we do things and it can have great results or disastrous consequences, but is there any other way?

If a company waits until they get a product perfect before launching it, the product will never get launched and the company will miss the window of opportunity. Actually, this isn’t a new story. The first telephones, televisions and light bulbs have been upgraded and improved since their inception. The difference is those inventions took decades to improve. Today we are improving technology and product creation by the nanosecond.

The capability of mobile phones, the quality of web sites, and the ability to sell by the Internet has dramatically changed in the last 20 years, and changes are only happening at a quicker pace.

If Apple had waited to get the iPod perfect, we still wouldn’t have seen one because the technology keeps improving. Arguably, having a less Continue reading

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Stop Meeting Mania

Ever had a meeting to talk about the meetings coming up? Or how about the pre-meeting meeting and the post-meeting meeting? You know they happen in every office. Imagine if you had a money counter like you see at the top of progressive slot machines sitting on your conference table counting all the salary dollars of those attending being spent/wasted in the meeting?

How can you stop wasting time and money in meetings? Try these three ideas I’ve learned from three very different CEO perspectives.


Set an agenda and distribute days in advance. This will inform everyone of the expectations of the information to be prepared to discuss in the meeting. An agenda also established the length of time to be spent and on which topics.


Jeff Bezos founder of believes meetings get too cumbersome when they have too many people in them and those meetings drag on for hours and hours. Being someone who loves efficiency and doing things a bit different, Jeff believes a meeting should never be larger than who you can feed with two pizzas.

If you can feed the meeting with two pizzas he believes it’s the right number of people to truly make it an effective meeting where real decisions can be made.

Out There

Caterina Fake, co-founder of the photo-sharing site Flickr has taken my stand up meeting idea one step further. I’ve long been a proponent of meetings without chairs where every stands the entire time. Meetings are shorter, to the point and the fact everyone is standing says to everyone present, “We are busy and have other things to do so let’s get this done quickly.” Traditionally, comfy chairs, coffee pots and snacks just say, “Let’s settle in for a long time.”

Caterina adds the addition of everyone guzzling a 16 ounce bottle of water as the meeting begins and when the first person has to go to the rest room, the meeting is over. Once again a sense of urgency is added. Obviously Caterina understanding another concept I’ve mentioned – The call of nature has no call waiting.

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Domestic Healthcare Tourism: Completely on the Company’s Dime

Large companies are embarking on a new healthcare strategy for their employees: Offer to pay completely, including travel, for certain surgeries provided they are performed at a select hospital.

According to an article in the Charlotte Observer:

“In a move to control rising health care costs, Mooresville-based Lowe’s has cut an unusual deal with a nationally known hospital.

Lowe’s is giving its full-time employees a choice: Have selected heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio instead of at a local hospital, and the company will pay for it in full, even covering travel and living expenses for the patient and a companion.”

With out of control healthcare costs and directionless decisions being pondered in Washington, some employers are taking controls into their own hands.

Which raises the questions:

Will hospitals begin negotiating multi-year contracts directly with employers for specific surgeries thus eliminating the insurer in the equation?

What new jobs will be created as a result of this trend? Doctor agents who will negotiate free agent deals with hospitals looking to strengthen their bench in certain specialties? Hospital negotiators who will approach large employers for such contractual agreements? Travel agencies who specialize in domestic medical trips?

Will drug manufacturers be next?

Will this create favored employer status based on the medical deals they have negotiated?

Obviously, Lowe’s and the Cleveland Clinic believe such an arrangement will be more profitable and the employee incurs no expenses for this surgery. Is this the new model for company-provided healthcare coverage? How will small businesses compete?

This revolutionary step opens an entirely new approach to providing medical benefits to employees.

How would your organization participate in such a venture? It might be something well worth exploring.

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Jump on Opportunities like a Caffeinated Cricket

Have you ever watched a movie or listened to a speaker at a conference that put you to sleep? You just get numb from the uninspiring information and delivery. A bad economy will do the same thing to your business. After 18 months of recession slow down and back-stepping, business leaders can get into a malaise that feels like the numbness experienced listening to that boring speaker.

Once this habitual plodding happens, business leaders miss good opportunities because their minds are more focused on just getting through one more month instead of looking for big jump opportunities.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your budget for this year set with expectation of improvement or with the fear of repeating 2009?
  • Do you have wiggle room to capitalize on a fresh opportunity or do you feel overwhelmed in time and financial resources; therefore, you only hope to make it through the year?
  • Are you on high energy rush and expecting to have a record performance year, or are you using the same mindset you used to survive 2008 and 2009?

Opportunities for every business will be available this year. Those leaders who are looking for them will find a way to take those opportunities and turn them into long-term success. Others will be waiting on the right time to take on such new ideas, which means those business executives will go lacking while the aggressors take more market share.

Use this month to awaken your senses, get your people vibrant in their attitudes once again and grab your share of opportunities that are ripe with potential. In talking with a gentleman who owns 600 rental properties, someone asked him if he was feeling the pinch of the economy where people were not paying or he was left with open properties. He didn’t even respond to the question, he just offered a different perspective.

He said, “I’m not worried about how many open properties I have because now is the time to focus on the great opportunity to buy more properties, so I’ve been on a buying spree getting some great deals.”

Think of your perspective. Are you more focused on the negative impact the economy has had on your business, or are you focusing on the opportunities that can be grabbed while everyone is looking the other way? This is your wake up call.

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What is your level of TMI?

Chip Conley, the CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, shared his internal struggle with posting his Burning Man pictures on his Facebook page at His pr advisors told him those pictures and his CEO persona could cause a misunderstanding about what is proper behavior. (I think it was his tutu picture that was the point of the discussion.)

Burning man is a one week retreat in the middle of a dust bowl with no food, no water, no showers, no cars, just what you carry in on your back or bike. It is intended to be an “out there” experience and from what people who have attended told me, you will see anything and everything going on at this retreat. When I say everything, suffice it to say, it is impossible not to be shocked at Burning Man because it attracts the freest of the free spirits and the edge is pushed more and more each year. I would guess not many CEOs attend Burning Man.

Which brings the question for all executives: What is proper to share on social media? The challenge with social media is that your personal and professional lives collide and for the “In the full disclosure of who I am” category it is actually a great resource for people to investigate who you are. Everything about who you are.

Employers are looking at social media pages such as facebook, twitter, and linkedin to see what employees and prospective employees are saying. The same goes for executives who are being “checked out” by employees, clients and competitors.

I have a number of clients who follow me on my personal pages as well as my fan page and they get the full me. But where is the Too Much Information (TMI) line drawn?

Would I share about my Saturday night in the strip club where I got 5 lap dances, had 8 beers, and was escorted out of the club by the bouncer for rude behavior? Would I share my disappointment about my employees letting me down? Would I go on a rant about how I hate Mondays?

Curiously, I have read each of these remarks by people who at that moment were employed somewhere. Is there a different standard for executives? I don’t think so.

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3 Ways to Avoid “Map Wars”

In other words: How to prevent the competition from telling everyone about your weakness.

The Verizon map ads seem to appear on TV every 10 minutes. Their unrelenting message caused AT&T to fight back with Luke Wilson ads that just don’t work. Why? Because Verizon found the glaring weakness of their competitor and cleverly got the word out to potential customers while the AT&T ads are just attacks on a competitor. Sour grapes does not gain market share.

What is AT&T going to do about this?

AT&T Will Spend $2 Billion To Improve Wireless Network

Now they are making upgrades they should’ve done before. Instead of gaining momentum with upgrades it appears they got caught with their pants down and appear to be reacting to the competitor’s ads. Meaning, instead of gaining customers for the upgrades they appear to be simply trying to keep the customers they have. That is a dramatically different return for a $2 billion investment.

How could they have prevented this from happening?

1. Be honest with yourself about shortfalls

When I work with organizations on strategic planning we often discuss the problems they have in-house and problems the competitors have. Which list do you imagine is longer? Many executives are blind to their own in-house problems and seem more focused on justifying why their situation is like it is.

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