In a competitive marketplace, customer service is a huge consideration for business owners and patrons. The creation of high-value products and services is often at the top of the priority list for entrepreneurs.

Many people believe that giving is a way to make people happy and essential to a thriving business.  

Giving endlessly in your business is actually a recipe for a crash and burn – not only for you, but for your finances and clients as well. It erodes the long-term sustainability of your business, your body, your relationships, and everything that you are up to in the world.

There are other possibilities

Here are some things to consider – and change – so that you are still a valuable resource for your clients, but not depleting yourself and your business in the process:

Empower your clients

Our desire to help people goes awry when it turns into a level of giving that disempowers them. When people actually choose and reach for something they give it more value in their mind. For most of us, the more value we assign to something, the more we are willing to actually receive from it and we end up valuing it even more. 

This approach to your clients leaves them knowing that they can always ask for more, choose more, and succeed in reaching for it. If you are available to them without giving endless handouts – they know where to find what they are looking for when they are looking for it. From this approach, you become a resource rather than the source.

Action step: When you think you have to give more – stop! 

Pause. Ask yourself, “Is this going to empower my client (and me too)? Or is this going to disempower them?”. Empowerment goes both ways. If your client is empowered, you will be too.

What’s your vibe?

While few people recognize this, it’s the energy, or the vibe, behind everything that we do that actually determines what occurs in our business. If you have the vibe that you need people to choose you in order for your business to be successful, they will pick that up.

For example, have you ever encountered a salesperson that was desperate for a sale? Did you want to buy what they were selling? Probably not. That energy pushes people away. It does not actually work! And yet, people approach sales in this way all the time.  

Action step: Be the choosing one in a business relationship!

In business, most people put themselves in the position of being the chosen one. What that means is that you have decided that people need to choose you in order for your business to survive and thrive. The business then becomes a game of trying to get people to choose you, which isn’t fun – or productive – for anybody.

Take a different perspective and a different vibe. What if you don’t ever need anybody in particular to choose you or your business, and you know that – and embody that in the energy you bring to the world?

How do you do that? First of all, become aware of when you are functioning from the energy of need or lack. Take a breath, get present with yourself, and remind yourself that you are actually pushing people away with that point of view. Then ask yourself, “If I was being the choosing one, rather than the chosen one, what would I actually do?” 

This will give you more awareness over time of the vibe you are putting out into the world – and give you more choice as to what’s going to create the most for you.

When you value you and what it is that you have to give, others do too. When you empower your clients, everybody is greater because of it, including you. Perhaps it’s time to do something very different, put your health and wealth front and center in your own life, and be the choosing one? The world will actually be a greater place if you do! 

 

About the author
Heather Nichols, MSW, is a Joy of Business facilitator, movement & meditation consultant, tantra practitioner and somatic psychotherapist. She combines her expertise in mind-body therapy with 20 years’ experience in the world of business and entrepreneurship to facilitate people toward a fuller, more joyful, experience of business, life and family. An Access Consciousness® facilitator, healer, and mom, Heather has been running a weekly radio show for more than 6 years. She also facilitates workshops and private consultations online and around the world. She refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer from life and brings to her work a fierce commitment to create joy, ease, and wealth on the planet – in every aspect. 

 

 


Great businesses are born and developed every day.  Yet with the constant pressure of making money, remaining ahead of trends, staying afloat and thriving in a competitive and overcrowded marketplace, it’s no wonder business owners turn their attention to ‘experts’ and outside opinions to improve their business.  As a business owner, what happens when a once-thriving business suddenly declines? Is it the market, the conditions or something even less conspicuous… you simply lost your way? 

How business owners can stay accountable and true to themselves

  1. Review your reasons for why you are in business

    List the reasons you decided to start your business in the first place. Once you have listed these reasons, ask yourself, are you still are aligned with these, or have things changed for you since you first established your business? Are you are still contributing in the same way you did when you first started? If not, what needs to change? Take the time to brainstorm to ensure you are really honest about your current feelings and reasons.

  2. Take a moment to get some honest feedback

    Our customers and clients can offer valuable feedback, as after all, they are the ones who already engage with you, and may continue to do so. These are the opinions other than your own, that you may need to explore.  Make a few phone calls to gather this information on their experiences with you. Listen to the feedback and consider the responses to this collective information. How can you adjust different areas of your business that may need improving, and strengthen the ones that are valued?

  3. Take time out for you

    What activities outside of your business make you happy? Ensuring we have regular time in our personal lives to exercise, connect with loved ones, engage in hobbies, or to simply rest, impacts our ability to feel happier, energised, and more engaged in our business. We are less reactive and more proactive in our business operations and decisions. This investment in ourselves is invaluable and allows for greater long-term sustainability to continue running a successful business.

  4. Do a ‘gap’ analysis

    Take an inventory of your business.  Where are you now and where do you want to be in one year, 10 years from now?  What are you good at? Who do you need to hire? Who are your clients now? What clients do you want to work with? Who are the clients you do you not want to work with? What products and services can you offer? Are there additional revenue streams? Take a broader look at your business, your life, your targets and be accountable.

  5. Project Manage Yourself

    Ask yourself what daily, weekly, and monthly action steps you can take today, that will create change or improvement in your business?  Use tools that can help you do this easily and successfully. Many digital applications now make this helpful to keep yourself, and your team, on track. This can reduce the feeling of overwhelm, improve efficiency, and develop a sense of achievement.

  6. Measure your success

    It is important to give yourself feedback about where you are now and where you are going. What activities are you doing now that will grow your business and help you achieve the targets you have set?  How can you measure those? Is it by looking at the numbers – an increase in revenue, profit or cash flow? Or is it looking at how much fun, joy and adventures are you having in your business? Or is it both? Whatever that measurement is will shine clarity on the choices and actions you would like to continue or adjust.

You create your experiences just as you create your business. You are also accountable for what you create. Be honest of where you need to improve, or become more efficient, and enjoy your business again.

Arlene Schmidek discusses businessAbout the author
Arlene Schmidek is a
Being You facilitator and has been in the industry of business, life and wellness development for more than 30 years. Arlene is co-owner of a multi-million dollar family-owned dealership, which is now celebrating its 44th year of operation, in addition to being a co-founder of a consulting and training business. She brings a wealth of experience across many disciplines, coupled with a passion for creating positive change with her work with Access Consciousness.

 


What if you entered a room with five people waiting for your presentation and you won the deal after fifteen minutes? Or does this seem too good to be true? One year ago I was in this exact situation and it forced me to consider how to profile a customer.

I got a phone call from a CEO with an invitation to pitch my ideas to their company on how I would help them build their new company culture and develop their first line leaders, after a merger.

I knew that I was the last out of four consultants to present my ideas. “Normal” consultants would start their presentation by introducing themselves with their knowledge, experience and highlights of their offer. Is that familiar to you? Did you experience how monotonous it can be when someone does this?

Never do that! With this, you would miss the opportunity to profile your audience and to engage them, so that you get to know what is really important to them. Profiling your customer starts days, or even weeks, before with intense research.

There are two types of customers you need to profile (no matter what you have to offer)

  • The company itself
  • The decision maker as an individual

Concerning the company, you should find out:

  1. What is the companies products or services? High price, medium, low?
  2. What is the situation concerning their market? Expansive, stagnant or shrinking?
  3. Do they have many branches and, if so, in which countries?
  4. How many employees are there?
  5. Do they have a vision, mission or any guidelines?
  6. And anything else you could ask them upfront?

In my specific situation, I could rarely find something about the two previous companies, before they had the merger, concerning their leadership habits or their vision. So what would you have done?

I called the CEO and asked whether they could provide some information about their past. Anything would be helpful – I said to them – because I would suggest not to ignore what eventually had worked in certain areas and to acknowledge what made each company successful, to build the new culture from there.

They provided this information and I was able to get an impression of what was important to both companies. Now I could prepare my presentation based on my knowledge of how to profile a customer, their values, needs and desires, enriched with new possibilities for a greater future.

Concerning the decision maker as an individual, you should know and perceive:

  1. How many and which hierarchy levels will be present with which responsibility? This is also easy to find out. Just ask.
  2. The second is your ability to perceive the character of each person so that you can address each person individually.

Here is how it works:

How to profile a customer you ask? You have four elements to profile a person:

  • A handshake when you first say hello.
  • Eye contact, mimic, gesture when they place themselves or when they already sit at the table.
  • The tone of their voice.
  • Behaviour during your presentation.

How does a handshake, eye contact, mimic, gesture, tone and behaviour come together and is visible for you at the very beginning?

  • A strong handshake can give you the information that this person knows what they want. They will have direct and sometimes intense eye contact as they scan you inwardly. Their voice can be loud, precise or demanding. They may take over the conversation. They may mention in between what they like or dislike. Normally they are ready to make decisions soon after your presentation.

To win this person, you should integrate them into your presentation. Ask them questions and ask them about their experience. Acknowledge what they have accomplished already.

  • A “normal” handshake can indicate a balanced person. Their eye contact is friendly. Most of the time this person has integrative gestures. Their voice is moderate. They tend to open the conversation with a smile. They will ask questions but will wait until it is appropriate. Or they will ask – “may I ask a question?”. While the “strong” customers will just jump into your speech. The “moderate” customer loves to repeat at the end what they have learned and how the procedure will go on.

To win this person you can mention their integrative ability. This could be helpful for future cooperation. You could create a picture of the role they could have in the upcoming process. Be careful to integrate the strong customer as well!

  • A “soft” handshake indicates a more introverted person. When you first meet this person, they will not maintain eye contact or a handshake for a long time. They will not talk a lot and if they do speak, their tone is calm and quiet.

Don´t mislead yourself. Many introverted customers are very precise in observing what´s going on, are the grey eminence behind the scene and are the real decision maker! If you do not ask them a question during your presentation, they normally won’t say anything. However, they will register that you probably dismissed them.

Now, it´s your turn. You have all the information about the company. You have actioned this advice on how to profile a customer and met them. What do you do to win the deal?

Reflect on yourself when considering how to profile a customer

You set yourself up to win in raising your energy

With every handshake, be aware that your energy flows from you and through them, and then back to you and through you. Think of it as though you are inhaling and exhaling through everything you get in contact with. This is what I did in this particular situation. So I embraced everyone energetically.

I opened my presentation by asking them questions. For example:

“Before I start with my ideas concerning the new company culture we can create together I would like to ask you some questions.”

This immediately places them in a position of power and importance. Not me or my company. I presented myself strongly by wording statements and questions carefully to imply we will be working together in future.

During my presentation, I asked everyone questions, including customers that appeared to be introverted, and asked them for their perspective and point of view.

What was the result of my informed customer research? In their feedback after my presentation, they told me that I had them within the first 15 minutes because I did not present myself as a “hero” but asked and considered what was important to them as a company, and as individuals.

Imagine what this could mean for you and your business

You should take the lead in actively integrating everyone and everything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the customers you profile and don’t judge anything you perceive. Build your awareness, research avidly and, most importantly, have fun. You may find that you’ve won the game!

Beate Nimsky

About the author

Beate Nimsky is an inspirational catalyst for change and works with CEOs, business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders in companies developing their leading abilities. She has been a pioneer in consulting and implementing value-driven cultures in companies for more than 25 years. She is a certified Right Voice for You facilitator, a specialty program from personal development organisation Access Consciousness® and includes all the Access® tools within her coaching and consultations. 

 


As someone who produces videos for a living, it still surprises me how often I come across people who are afraid of using video to help promote their business.

It surprises me for several reasons:

1. Video connects with people online

Given how effective video is for engaging an audience, retaining customers and generating leads, it just makes sense to be using it. Video enables you to build rapport and cut through the noise in our information intense environment in which we now live.

Businesses who use video are seen to be more engaged with their community. Buying decisions are easier and people feel more supported by your business. If in doubt of the effectiveness of video, check your Facebook feed. Video is dominating how people are connecting and communicating online.

2. Your competitors are using it

At some point you have to address the fact that even if you are trying to avoid using it, you will either work with it or walk away. Video is now the predominant way to engage with your customers. You can try to bury your head in the sand, but when everyone around you is using it you’ll just get trampled by those heading over to your competitors.

You are no longer ahead of the pack if you are using video, you are simply in the game.

3. Everyone can do it

Now I know that some people are saying “I look terrible on camera” or “I freeze when a lens is pointed in my direction”. Well that’s okay. You don’t have to be the focus of the video. In fact your customers should be the focus of the video. Any marketing you do should be about them.

Often to put first timers at ease I tell them, “Don’t worry if you do a terrible job, we won’t use it.” Surprisingly my little joke actually works. They realise you don’t have to nail it. It’s only video. If it’s not great, no one has to see it. They also relax and generally perform quite well.

4. Fear is not real (it just seems that way)

Trying to rationalise fear is like trying to say why I like blue. It’s not about logic, it’s emotional. But generally at the root of all fear is a lack of exposure and a lack of understanding. 95 % of things we worry about never happen.

But like anything, the more exposure you have to it, the more comfortable you become with it and the better you become at performing. So the only thing you should be afraid of in regards to video is not using it.

Dip your toe in the water. Accept that you will improve over time. Putting yourself outside your comfort zone is where real success occurs.

5. There’s plenty of options

There are dozens of different types of videos you can be using to promote your business, engage with your customers, answer frequently asked questions and generally support your business community. Standing in front of the camera is just one of them. So if that’s not your thing, relax. There are plenty of powerful ways to use video that’s not about you.

There’s animations, there’s case study videos (when you film your customers), there’s products overviews, you can use a voice over or an actor to speak on behalf of your organisation and many more ways to use video effectively without having to be in front of the camera.

6. Lots of ways to learn

There are plenty of courses online and live workshops that can help you master the skills in video production. It has never been more important to use this readily available technology on a regular basis. Thinking I don’t know what to do or how to do it, is no longer an excuse. You might be surprised once you look into it, that’s its actually not that hard.

In fact, I’ve written a book “Shoot Me Now -making videos to boost business” which takes you through what you need to know to make impressive videos. Feel free to get in touch and I’ll send you a free copy.

Follow Geoff Anderson on Twitter @geoffsonic for more tips on how to use video to improve engagement with your customers.


Having a thick skin in business is important but so is having a soft side that is vulnerable.

If we operate in business with our defences up, we miss the learnings we can gather along the way. Such learnings can help transform our business as it grows and matures.

When a customer complains we often do one of two things:

1. Become defensive and justify why we did what we did.
2. Say sorry and try to rectify the situation

A third option and the one I’d like to explore is showing gratitude.

If we have undelivered to our customer they have a few options as well.

1. Walk away and never say anything and never come back
2. Bad mouth the business every opportunity they get
3. Take the time and effort to confront us to tell us why they are unhappy.

When people take the effort to complain they are showing that they still care enough to want to work on the relationship. It’s quite significant. If they didn’t, they’d just walk away. But they don’t. They stay and want to talk about it.

They want to give you a second chance. They want to help you improve your products or processes. They want you to listen.

That in itself is a gift, but here’s where your business can really impress them.

How you respond to that complaint can dramatically transform how they see your business and the story they tell about your business.

If you show them that you value their feedback and make amends that address their problem you can create an advocate for life. Your relationship can be significantly enhanced because of the problem and how you resolve it.

When you satisfy someone’s needs the customer experience is neutral. When you under deliver it is a negative response. When you over deliver they are excited and pleased.

In most business dealings we set out to satisfy our customers needs. It’s a neutral exchange. A problem or a complaint provides the opportunity to over deliver in terms of expectations.

What was once a negative becomes a resounding positive. The trick is to do it with grace and not resentment. Let the customer understand you are pleased they have bothered to let you know about the issue. That you are sorry it occurred and you are keen to rectify the problem.

Then do it.

Here’s an example I just had today after I started writing this article. I noticed on my credit card a debit for hundreds of dollars for a service I hadn’t used in almost a year. I logged in and realised I had left the auto renew option selected.

$234 for a service I no longer use or currently need. I was annoyed at myself for not deselecting the auto renew setting. It’s a trap for new players and I should have known better.

But still I didn’t want to have to pay for something that I wasn’t using. So I emailed their help desk. I explained that I haven’t used the service for almost a year, I don’t need the service and I’d appreciate a refund as soon as possible.

I received an automated response saying they had received my enquiry. Pretty standard. Then almost as quickly I received this email.

Hi there Geoff,

Thanks for getting in touch with us about the renewal, and I’m really sorry to hear if your account’s auto-renewal may have caught you off guard. We keep auto-renewal active on accounts after upgrading to ensure that your access won’t be limited during the middle of a project, and you can disable auto-renew any time. We mention this when you upgrade and in our terms of use, but I’m sorry if you weren’t aware. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but I’d definitely be happy to help you out.

I just refunded your payment method for the last Select Yearly plan renewal for your account, and turned off auto-renewal for your account so you can rest assured you won’t be charged going forward for this SurveyMonkey account.

It may take your bank up to 5 business days to post the refund in your account. Here are the links to your refund receipts, which you can also view from the Billing Details tab in My Account (LINK PROVIDED)

Your account is now on a free Basic plan. Please review this article for more information on how this affects your surveys and available features: http://help.surveymonkey.com/articles/en_US/kb/Limitations-of-the-BASIC-Free-Plan

I hope this helps you out today! If you do have any questions, please feel free to write in and I will be glad to help out! Thanks so much for your time and patience.

Best regards,

Jeffrey
Customer Engagement Representative

I was blown away. How good is that? They gently pointed out that I should have known better, but regardless they were not only going to help me out, they already had. They’ve turned off the auto renewal – without my asking and reassured me that all is good in the world again.

They also take the opportunity to remind me of the limitations of the free account, in case I change my mind.

Now at present I don’t need their service, but if I do down the track I will most likely come back to Survey Monkey given how they have handled this issue. And I’ve just shared this story with everyone who reads this blog.

This is great example of how to turn a complaint into a gift. When have you been able to turn a disgruntled customer into a raving fan?


Is Your Small Business Making These Marketing Mistakes?

Most small businesses don’t have extra resources to throw around in a bid to get more customers. However, many decisions that are made don’t result in the best use of the limited resources they do have.

Check out the following 7 marketing mistakes that your business might be making, and see if you can make improvements in the way you’re marketing your business.

1. Mixed Messages = Confused Customers

A lack of cohesive branding sends confusing messages to your customers which dilutes what you’re saying, and leaves them unclear about what solutions you can help them with. This is often due to a haphazard approach to marketing and lack of an overall strategic plan.

Solution: Take some time to plan out what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there.

2. Stopping, starting & not getting any traction

This type of uncertainty comes about because there is little understanding of what marketing options are available, what will work best for your business and how to implement them so they work together to get you more business.

Solution: Consider getting help to put together your plan and to manage the implementation if that is a weak spot for your business.

3. No way of accurately measuring your Return on Investment

Without information on your key marketing metrics, you could be wasting money on activities that aren’t bringing in new customers or encouraging repeat business from your existing customers. Gut feel is important but not always accurate.

Solution: Put in place achievable goals and tracking so you can easily see what needs to be improved.

4. Unclear product benefits

A visitor to your website, a customer stepping into your business or someone looking at your brochure, should be able to tell within a few seconds what your business can offer them and the key way that you can solve their problem. Many small businesses feel that the benefits of their product are obvious and don’t need explaining.

Solution: Be clear about how your product or service can help your target market.

5. Following others & getting distracted

What works for one business in one market doesn’t necessarily work for other businesses. Just because everyone is doing social media training or jumping on to Instagram doesn’t mean you automatically need to do that too.

Solution: Training & mentoring to help you and your staff implement your plan and be a sounding board for any deviations.

6. No information that explains your expertise

Right after a potential customer has worked out what your product can do and whether it can help them solve their problem, they want to know how you can support that claim. What credibility can you offer?

Solution: Demonstrate your expertise through examples, case studies, testimonials and weave it into your product or service descriptions.

7. Making it hard for customers

There are a number of things that need to come together to make it easy for customers to order from you. Relying on your customers to be committed and seek out the information they need is not a good strategy for success.

Solution: Review where you’re getting it right and what areas can be improved.

Taking a more strategic and considered approach to marketing may seem tedious if you just want to get on and sell more as soon as possible but a little bit of planning upfront will provide benefits that you can build on for many years to come.

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0

 

JIll-Brennan-Leaders-in-Heels-imgJill Brennan

Jill Brennan is a marketing consultant, mentor and the founder of Harbren Marketing. With around 20 years in the small business trenches, she takes the headache out of marketing by working with small business owners to build their own marketing engine. Get a more detailed guide to the 7 Small Business Marketing Mistakes at harbren.com.