Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Help Wanted: People Skills!

Question: From your perspective, what people skills do you see MOST lacking in the companies you visit?
- Bonnie

Hello Bonnie - Great question! My company and I have listened to more than 40,000 recorded sales and customer service conversations. We've analyzed the conversations, listening for what's missing, and based on careful analysis I make the following assertions:

Most business people are stuck in the information age. That is, through no fault of their own, they are trapped in the information age because we have been born into it. The skills learned in schools and on the job are good for exchanging information, but blind us to the real game of coordinating action and building relationship with others.

Another issue is that most of us are on automatic most of the time. That is, as humans we are in many ways not unlike computers. Much of our biology is fully automatic (breathing, heartbeat, waste elimination, etc.) as is our speech communicatoin. For instance, if I ask you, "What food do people eat at the movies?" The answer is most likely going to be, "Popcorn!" If I ask you how you are doing, the answer is mostly automatic: "Just fine, how are you?".

After analyzing 40,000 discussions, I can safely state that most people in business today are on automatic mode and are fluent in the world of information, but that's as far as it goes for most.
The skill most lacking, again based on detailed analysis, are the abilities to design relationships, coordinate and generate action in the future with others, and using language for superior communication.

Whether you're dealing with sales and customer service or with leadership and management, building trust/credibility and coordinating/generating action using language is the area of expertise lacking across all industries.

We are a generation of information experts. The only problem is that the information age is over! It's dead! There is little competitive advantage, for the average person, in more information or prettier information, because it's ubiquitous.

From my perspective, we have an entire generation that is mostly incompetent when it comes to building trust and credibilty and generating action - all of it by design.

Thanks for asking the question,

This is a fascinating area of research and if there are any consultants out there interested in discussions about something I call the Language Of Commitment and how it can impact your own clients, get in touch with me. You may email me at dmolloy@molloyllc.com or give me a call at 877-212-6001.

Do you have to believe in your products to be a great sales person?

I love this question which was brought to my attention during a LinkedIn discussion. Here's my reply to that group:

You're a singer (like I was years ago), it's 2:00 AM and you have one more set to do. At the same time you're exhausted and you have a cold. What do you do?

You're a triathlete (like me now), it's 90 degrees as you begin the run. Someone hollers that you need to catch one more guy and you win your age group. What do you do?

You're a professional sales person, it's the end of the month and you need to make your numbers and bring home the bacon and make customers happy... all of it.

Let me ask you this question: Why are you working where you are working? No one forced you to be where you are. So the question about what you believe in and don't believe in is a silly question. If you are being paid to perform, then perform or get out. Professionals BRING IT for one reason and only one reason, because they said so. Our power as people rests in being able to give and keep your word. A.) to yourself and B.) to others. When we give our word honestly and we mean it and we are professionals, then even asking this question is silly. The answer to the riddle is found in answering the following yes or no question, "Are you a great sales person?"

Also, when you get into it, deeply, there really is no such thing as sales. One of the reasons people suffer about being great at sales is because they don't fully understand what being great at sales is.

Question? Was Bernie Madoff a great sales person?

Looking strictly at the numbers, there was a time, when many would have said, "Bernie is a great sales guy!" But the reality is he was a con man. So does greatness in sales show up only in the numbers? Or in belief in what you are doing? Or is it something else?

I say that the word sales describes another phenomena where people use specific language and human energy to design a mood of trust (the key word is design) and then within that mood of trust, make commitments (in time) to take care of someone else's concerns and ask the other to commit in return. The act of commitment by one human to another is paramount. It's one of the most fundamental acts of being alive and yet most people and most sales people are lost and do not understand the dance of commitment or something I call the Language Of Commitment.

The issue has nothing at all to do with the product, but with one's competence when it comes to building trust and both making commitments and asking for commitments. True professionals have figured this out and so this question is not an important question. True professionals would not have to worry about believeing in the product. If they didn't think the product/service was good, they would not represent it in the first place.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Worst Customer Service I've ever experienced - read this!

A sad but true tale about customer service... Dr. Frankenstein style.

This past Saturday I flew up to Buffalo in order to drive back with my daughter who is a senior communications major at the University of Buffalo. When I touched down she met me at baggage claim and decided to go to a local restaurant for breakfast and so we could get caught up on life. Jordana, my daughter, said she knew the place we should go which was only a 5 minute ride from the frigid Buffalo airport. Upon arrival at The Original House of Pancakes, we parked and walked in the front door.

Note: Jordana had just purchased a $3.00 cappuccino from Panera on the way to pick me up. It was still hot and when we arrived at The Original House of Pancakes and she carried the drink with her into the restaurant so as not to waste her investment.

Upon entering the hostess came up to greet us and the first thing she uttered is, "No food or beverage is permitted to be brought into the restaurant". Whereupon I said, "No, you don't understand, we are here to have breakfast and spend money at your restaurant and my
daughter just spent $3.00 on her cappuccino and she doesn't want to waste it". This tactic was to no avail as the hostess insisted again with certainty that no food or beverage was allowed.

Not being one to give up that easily, I suspected that she was simply young and inexperienced in the ways of common courtesy and so I tried another linguistic maneuver by making a simple request, "Would you please ask the manager to come over so we can have a conversation?"

She walked away and a moment later young man, I'm guessing about 35, walked up to us. Again, I'm thinking to myself as he approached, this is going to be easy, I'm certain that he's going to be a reasonable business person and we'll just be able to sit down and have breakfast, talk, and spend money here.

All of a sudden he morphed from a friendly looking young man in to the Frankenstein of customer service by again stating in no uncertain terms without saying anything else to us, "No food or beverage is allowed to be brought into the restaurant".

Ouch! We stood there in utter disbelief at his approach to handling us and I again tried to persuade him to our way of thinking. We again explained that Jordana had just purchased a $3.00 cappuccino and it was still hot and she didn't want to waste it... and he continued to say, "No food or beverage.... bla bla bla."

Then I ask him a very direct question about his philosophical approach with respect to his business policy, "Let me get this straight, you're going to turn away a new customer, who wants to spend money in your restaurant, because of this policy?" The manager replied, "Yes". And he
further explained, "My family owns this restaurant and I'm the manager and this is our policy."And I said, "Even if this means that we never come back again?" And he said without blinking, in front of other patrons, "Yes."

We hopped in the car and drove 1/4 mile down the road to a Bob Evans restaurant, which I explained to Jordana, was a huge chain operation. Upon getting out of the car, we decided to do a marketing experiment by bringing the infamous cappuccino into the Bob Evans restaurant just to see what would happen.

The answer... NOTHING. The lovely hostess took us to a nice table, we ordered breakfast. Spent about $25 with tip and left satisfied.

Just before we left, I asked to speak with the manager, Mr. Colucci , who approached us somewhat cautiously. When we thanked him for the friendly service and good food his face lit up
and he smiled. When we told him of our customer service experiment, he explained that the
manager/owner of his competitive restaurant had a reputation just like we were describing. In fact, some of his employees use to work at the other place and reported how much they hated working there.

Bob Evans - THE GOOD GUYS!