If you had two minutes for your perfect customer what would you say?

October 25, 2009

A few months ago I had the opportunity to speak at a large consumer trade show. Before my talk I was walking around the show floor trying to understand their business more (and hoping to spend some money too!). As I looked at all the booths I noticed one in particular. At this booth they sold “painted” plates and I remember thinking to myself that they were really nice plates that were likely brought in from overseas like everyone else does. Not that a plate from another country is bad it was just my assumption that this booth was likely just like everyone else. As luck would have it I ended up speaking with the business owner and he told me that each plate I had been admiring was actually hand painted in Canada by a single artist in Alberta. In fact, as we spoke he constantly came back to this same compelling point of difference. In the space of ten minutes he likely mentioned it 5-6 times. I finally looked at him and said, “If I was your perfect customer and I agreed to give you two minutes of my busy day what would you say to me?” He looked at me and said, “All of our plates are exclusively hand painted by one artist in Alberta.” I said, “Great!! Show me how you communicate this powerful message in your booth.” He walked across the booth and pulled out a flyer and handed it to me. I said, “WOW you are making a few big assumptions aren’t you? One, you are assuming that I will enter your booth. On top of that you assume that I would be interested enough to stop and have this conversation with you. If I don’t, I completely miss your compelling point of difference, don’t I? The look on his face said it all. He knew I was right. If his selling value was all focused around a single artist designing every plate he needed to communicate that message in everything he did. He needed to communicate it in the name of the store, in the advertising and in the way the products were displayed. He needed to ensure that message jumped out at people. We spent the next 30 minutes redesigning simple things that would allow him to clearly communicate his message… “one Canadian artist, hand drawn, every plate is exclusively unique.” We designed a place for the artist’s photograph. We changed his slogan and we even turned some of the plates over so people could easily see the single signature on each and every plate.

I share this with you because my chance encounter that day really got me thinking about the question, “If you had two minutes with your perfect customer what would you say to them?” If you know the answer, great! If not, you better set aside some time to think about it. However, once you know the answer start asking/challenging yourself on how you communicate this important message in everything you do.

At Microsoft we called this our eight second elevator pitch. The idea was, what could we say to someone in the span of eight seconds that would get them to say, “Stop… I want to know more.”

So how would you answer this question? Would you even know what you wanted to say if the perfect customer came along? Is your message compelling enough for people to want to notice? Does your business communicate your perfect message in everything you do? More importantly, ask yourself does your message resonate from a distance. You see, most of us can do a reasonable job selling our value if we get close enough to the customer.

The challenge is getting the opportunity to get that close. As the world gets busier and time gets shorter you need to have a strategy for the customer to start seeking you out. Your message of value has to jump right out and stop them in their tracks.

If I go back to my story, I was very busy that day. This show was huge and my time was extremely limited. I wanted to spend money but I really needed someone to reel me in because every booth was becoming a blur. In your industry chances are there are lots of people who sell what you do. But no one does it quite as uniquely as you. At least you hope! This month take the time to capture the essence of what you stand for and then figure out how to communicate it loudly and clearly in everything you do.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
www.curtskene.com

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What if things weren’t so obvious?

October 25, 2009
Let me share with you a quote from Edward DeBono, a prolific modern day thinker.
It’s Obvious!
“Many of the principles will seem obvious.
It is very difficult to teach things that are obvious because the mind takes them for granted.
Because we can understand something, we often believe that we do in fact practice it.
A lot of research into thinking habits shows that the most obvious and easily understood principles are not used, although everyone would claim to use them.
‘The Happiness Purpose’ – page 242

When I read this I begin thinking about the obvious things that we may miss in our own lives. For example, how many relationships have broken up because someone thought their love and devotion was obvious to their spouse. How many of us have thought our hard work and devotion was obvious to our employer, only to find ourselves right-sized out of the business. How many of us have lost business because we thought it was obvious why people would want to continue to buy from us.
It would seem obvious to many that Microsoft had won the software war, obvious to everyone but Bill Gates. In all these years he has never taken his leadership for granted, he remains clearly focused on industry leadership everyday. I remember, in the summer of 1996 when he told many of us in the company that we should never take our leadership position for granted. While it may seem obvious that we are the leader, we can never assume we will stay there because if we rest, even for a moment, we could just as easily be out of business tomorrow. If you look back in your own personal experience, how many businesses do you know that thought their future success was obvious and are now nowhere to be found? My bet is you know many.
So with this in mind my question to you is, “What are the obvious things in your business or life that just may in fact need your attention?” What are those things that because they are obvious you assume are being done but in reality you may not be doing them at all. Then, ask yourself, how can I test these beliefs and see if in fact they really are true? It wasn’t long ago that the President of a succesful business was telling me how finely tuned their business processes were. In his mind, all of the customer processes were obvious, they were documented and every service rep had been trained on how to apply them. One day I decided to test the process for myself only to find out that in his case (and likely many others) the reality was far different from the anticipated!
Because things are obvious we tend to shut down, we rest on old successes and we get complacent. Now is the time to take action and really ask yourself, “What if things weren’t really that obvious?”
 
BRAINSTORMING IDEAS
List as many ideas for the following questions … 
 

 

  1. That the important people in your life are reminded of how much you appreciate them.
  2. That customer calls/opportunities are returned/followed up in a timely manner.
  3. That your “value add” is recognized and appreciated.
  4. What else do you consider to be obvious?

Then ask yourself how can you test them to find out if they are true?

Just because we know it, doesn’t mean we do it and just because we do it, doesn’t mean its noticed. Take a moment to think about it. Work with others and brainstorm the possibilities.

What are all those things that you think are obvious in your business/life?

The fact that the steps may be simple and obvious should not obscure either the difficulty of using them or the value of using them.”

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
www.curtskene.com

What are your customers most unhappy with?

October 25, 2009

This month’s article really came as a fluke. Here I was looking up famous quotes on the Internet when I stumbled upon this quote from Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” * It took me less than a second to realize Bill was right!

When was the last time you stopped to think about what your customers might be unhappy with? What part of your service would they like to see changed? Its sad, but often times most of their problems can be resolved so easily. What do you think would happen if once a month you met with your team and found one service shortcoming and you corrected it?

Many times we find that the reason our customer is unhappy is because there is a simple misunderstanding between the way we think they want to do business and the way they really want to do business. We think they want to work with us between 9am and 5pm and they need us available 24 hours a day. We think ordering off the Internet is a good solution and they don’t have access to outside websites. Whatever the problem is, if more than one customer has it, you need to be concerned!

So, do you really know what makes your customer unhappy? Who in your organization is listening and looking to find out? Are you searching for trends to understand if others are unhappy too? Finally, who is taking action to make sure these customers become happy? One word of warning though, don’t wait for your customers to tell you they are unhappy. Most customers never do, they just leave you!

At Microsoft, in order to ensure we were able to anticipate our customer’s needs, we had an expressions that stated, “We are a company that eats their own dog food”. This means that long before customers ever used our products, we were our own customers. If we didn’t like the way it worked, if we found it too difficult, if it broke too often we would let the Product Management group know and they would start finding resolutions. The idea was, if we didn’t like doing business with us, we knew our customers wouldn’t either.

One last thought. An unhappy customer can easily be your happiest customer, it just depends on how you go about to solve their problem. Customer research has shown that companies that take customers complaints to heart and take action to correct the situation, build strong business relationships that endure very tough times.

This month, ask yourself, “What are my customers unhappy with?” Make a plan to correct some of their concerns. It won’t take long and it will make a world of difference. Its a sad reality, but somehow with all the hustle and bustle we are all attending to, we seemed to have forgotten we need happy customers to stay alive!

Brainstorming Ideas

What are my customers most unhappy with?

  • Which of these things are easy are easy to fix?
  • Which of these things are strategic to our business to fix?
  • How can I anticipate my customer’s needs better in the future?
  • ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com

    What did you learn today… and how will you use it tomorrow?

    October 25, 2009

    My niece was staying with us for a few days and she had just finished her one-hour of devotional reading for the day. Just by chance I met her in the hallway and I asked her, “What did you learn today and how will you use it tomorrow?” You see, I know how important her commitment to devotional reading is, but I also know that there is a difference between reading for the sake of reading and reading for the sake of learning and growing. I was pretty sure that I had surprised her by my comment but she got a chance to return the surprise. About one week later I went to our mailbox and there was a letter from her. I was most intrigued because in her 19 years, I think maybe she had written two or three times. I stared at the envelope and wondered what it was that she had written. Here is the essence of what the letter said…

    Dear Uncle Buck,
    I didn’t know what to say to you that day but you got me to think about what I was really doing. I realized, you were right, if I was really going to make a difference, I needed to stop going through the motions and start asking everyday what does this all really mean to me? I find now that my daily devotional is having more meaning and I am starting to see signs of how it is really changing who I am…

    I tell you this story because I wonder how often we go through the motions in our business. How often do we get customer feedback that goes nowhere? How often do we observe new ideas or find new approaches that never get implemented? My niece learned a wonderful lesson that day. She learned the importance of asking, “What did I learn today and how will I use it tomorrow?”

    Can you imagine how quickly you would grow, both as a business and a person; if you stopped to ask this question every day? What do you think would happen if you took just 5 minutes after meeting with a customer and you wrote down everything new that you learned about them and how you will apply that knowledge to future activity? What do you think would happen if at your weekly team meetings everyone was asked to share one thing that they had learned in the last week and provided examples of how they were going to use their new knowledge?
    In this world of constant change, knowledge is a critical success factor for getting ahead. This month I would like you to think about all the new knowledge you capture everyday and how you will start applying it in your life so that it makes a difference. I read somewhere that if you learned one new thing about your area of expertise every day, you would be a “genius” within two years. Do you think customers are attracted to industry geniuses? You bet they are! Do you think your margins will improve if you are the industry genius? You bet they will! Do you think your relationships will flourish and grow if you commit yourself to learning a little bit more about the people who mean the most to you? You know they will!

    Five minutes a day is all it takes to lead you to greatness!

    Brainstorming Ideas

    1. Ask what did you learn today?
    2. Ask how can you apply this knowledge to be better in what you do?
    3. Ask who else would want to know what you just learned?

    ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com

    What will your legacy be?

    October 25, 2009

    The other day I attended a small party to recognize the retirement of my kid’s school principal. After many years in teaching and 5 wonderful years at our school Mrs. Pat McCutcheon is retiring. During the celebration I remember thinking about all the initiatives she has put in place to recognize diversity, to support different learning styles and to emphasize the importance of reading. I remembered how during the fierce winter days she stood out by the street and made sure every child got in to the school safely and I remembered how she always knew every child’s name and how every child was treated like a real person. Gone were the days where going to see the principal was the scariest thing you could imagine.

    This year through the wonderful support of the parents and local community we opened a brand new playground for the kids. This playground was the dream and vision of Pat McCutcheon, it is something she will leave as her legacy. You see this isn’t a traditional playground. Pat’s vision is that along with climbing bars and swinging bridges, there should be quiet benches and mature trees where kids can go to relax and read. Pat has the wonderful ability of creating a culture where learning is the outcome but the kids are the focus.

    I share this with you because Pat McCutcheon is leaving us a legacy and it inspired me to ask you, “What will your legacy be?”

    In reality a legacy is a brand. It is something you are known for and it is something you are remembered by? What aspects of your service, your relationships, your leadership and your personality will people remember? Will they even remember you at all? You see, creating a legacy is never a given. It is something that each one of us must earn. In order to create a legacy we must create distinction, we must create consistency and we must have the nerve to stand out from the crowd.

    When was the last time you sat down with your team and asked how can we create a legacy? How can we create a business that will withstand the test of time. How can we create a difference that will touch people and allow them to make a connection with us.
    Take a moment to think about it, ask yourself what will my legacy be? I have a simple expression that says, “He who leaves the world a legacy, will never die broke.”

    Brainstorming Exercises

    1. Ask what will your legacy be?
    2. Ask what will you do that is worthy of being remembered?

    If the answers don’t come easy then it is highly likely you have some real work ahead of you!
    Thanks Pat for the inspiration you gave us all!

    ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com

    What tough decisions do you need to make?

    October 25, 2009

    LETTER TO EDITOR – BURLINGTON POST (DEC 7, 2004)
    I remember reading a wonderful article in your paper a few years ago about the “Mayor of the Burlington Beach ”. While I know she wasn’t really the Mayor she sure acted like she was. I had the opportunity to meet her myself many many years ago. While our relationship never went as I had hoped it would, I know she was a lady who lived for the water, lived for tranquility and lived for making our beaches a little more spectactular for all of us to enjoy. I recently learned that the “Mayor” passed away in early November. She was young, heck at 72 years old she was still wearing bikinis. I can’t pretend to know her well, it has been twenty eight years since I last saw her, but I have heard from many in these last few weeks how she touched lives with her spirit, her drive and her passionate desire to keep the beauty of nature alive. Yes, I also heard that she was a lady that never minced words and she fought bitterly if anyone dared to wreak havoc on the splendor of her beaches. Yet, I wonder if maybe some of us, myself included, could learn from her passionate resolve. Upon learning of her passing I took the time to walk the beach; I just wanted to learn a little more about the place she called home. The “Mayor” was right; it really is a wonderful place. Maybe just maybe, I will throw aside some of my appointments, forget some of those never ending “to-do’s” and take my own family on a wonderful walk along the Burlington lakeside. We could laugh, we could sing, we could even tidy it up and yes, we could think about the “Mayor” and the wonderful lesson she left us all, “Death is not about dying, it’s more in fact, about learning to live!”

    Ada Alice Skene June 29th 1932 – November 7th, 2004

    In my new program, LifeLessons, I talk about the important decisions in our lives and the importance of taking control and making them. I never did call my Mother again, and I will live with that decision forever… but what about you, are there decisions in your life that you need to be making?
    Making a tough decision is probably one of the hardest life skills for any of us to master. No one can really teach us. There is no scientific formula or structured process, the tough decisions need to turn us inside and allow us to seek out guidance from our heart and soul. They really don’t teach you anything like that in Business U.

    No action in your life will happen unless you decide to make it happen. You will never have full control unless you decide to take full control.

    This month, I hope you take some time to make the tough decisions in your life. They won’t be easy to make but I gaurantee you, you’ll be better off for them. I remember at the age of fifteen, deciding it was time to go. I wouldn’t wish that kind of decision on anyone, let alone a fifteen year old kid but I knew, I needed to leave. Now at forty two years old, you won’t ever catch me saying I was happy making that decision but I will always tell you that I am better off for the decision I made.

    I always said I would be there at the end and I am proud to say I was. It wasn’t easy stepping back into a life I left twenty eight years ago. But I can tell you that for me, it was the right and honourable decision to make. Quite frankly, it’s not easy writing and sharing this with you but if just one of you makes a decision, and that decision changes your life then the awkward pain I feel right now will be well worth it.

    Here’s to your decision, whatever you decide.

    ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com

    Who’s your group?

    October 25, 2009

    I remember thinking, this is great, seven of us, sitting around, talking and challenging each others business ideas. We call our group the “Mastermind Meeting”. We meet once a month to share laughter, ideas, experience and to discuss any new intellect any of us has acquired. What is really interesting is that we all come from different backgrounds, we all have different reasons for being in the room and for the most part we really don’t spend much time together outside of the meeting. However, for this one night, we are a tight group, and the ideas and insights we gain are invaluable.

    I share this with you because this month I want to ask, who’s in your group? Where do you go to bounce ideas, share experience and learn a different perspective? Do you even have a group that you can draw on? I think it is enlightening to have “fresh eyes” looking at your business. Many times, I find we get too close to our business and we automatically start filling in the gaps in our own thinking. By doing this we miss obvious holes in our logic, we make assumptions that are wrong or we give too much credence to concepts that may not be true.

    For me, being part of this group gives me perspective. I know everyone is different, we all think differently and we all filter our reality differently. For example, this month two of the group members presented their business ideas. While their plans were solid and made sense, each one of us gave our own personal tweaks and nudges that helped to shift some of the thinking. The end result was, the presenters walked away with lots to consider and a handful of fresh ideas for their next steps.

    I think as a business leader you need a group too. Whenever, I meet with business owners, especially start up or struggling ones, I ask whether they have an advisory council in place. It doesn’t need to be formal, just a group that can offer a diverse opinion. A group will help flush out thinking on your upcoming business plans, marketing concepts or even HR related challenges.

    Would a group be good for you? Why not look through your personal network and find 5-7 connections you really admire and invite them to join you one evening. It is especially valuable if you invite people on the outside fringe of your network (i.e. the people you don’t always socialize with). The ground rules are simple, have a brief agenda, park all egos at the door and at all times feelings are to be acknowledged and respected. Outside of this, the world is fair game.

    As a next step I hope one day that our group starts to capture our sessions on CD so that we can share it. I think others might find the humour, insights and ideas we share helpful for their business too. So thanks Tom, Peri, Trevor, Randy,

    Rick and Michael for being a valuable “group” of people to hang with.

    ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com

    How can you shift their playing field?

    October 25, 2009

    SPECIAL NOTE: As you probably know, I am passionate about helping people “Master their Make It Happen Mindset” in their Business, Career and Life. If you know someone who could use my expertise please feel free to forward their name to me (and this newsletter to them).

    A couple of months ago I was having lunch with a friend that I worked at Microsoft with. We were talking about what made Microsoft so successful in their marketing and what we agreed on was that Microsoft was a master at shifting the playing field to suit their needs. Think about it, Microsoft Word took away a 90% market share lead from WordPerfect, Windows NT took away a 70% market share lead from Novell and Windows Explorer took away a 90% market share from Netscape. Were Microsoft products that much better? No. Microsoft was a master of shifting attention and changing the landscape. Instead of focusing on wordprocessing Microsoft focused on the integrated suite of Office products, instead of having a network discussion; Microsoft spoke of the Windows Open Service Architecture (WOSA) and instead of discussing browsers Microsoft targeted the seamless desktop where the browser was the operating system and the operating system was the browser. In a product to product comparison there is never a clear winner but when Microsoft shifted the playing field no one else could compete with them. So this leads me to ask, how can you shift your playing field?

    Are you finding yourself focused on a product/service comparison and struggling to create a sustainable difference? That can be very painful process. I like the way Harry Beckwith expresses it, “Your opportunities for growth often lie outside the confines of your current market. Fighting within these confines, particularly in mature markets, causes you to spill too much blood and money.” It’s true, you are setting yourself up for a losing battle. So are there ways for you to shift your market position by bundling in other services so that others can’t compete. Ask yourself, what do you (and your company have) that no one else has access to? How can you shift it so that you are in a world all on your own?

    Years ago when Crest and Colgate were fighting the cavity battle Close Up came out and said their toothpaste will get you more dates. Yes, your teeth may fall out by thirty but by then you’re married so I guess that’s ok. Many times when you look at your competitor’s strength you can find their weakness by becoming the opposite. Coke had one hundred years of tradition so Pepsi became the choice of a new generation. Hertz was the number one car rental company so AVIS focused on being number two and trying harder. Ask, where is your competition dominant then look to the opposite. A large company can’t be the little one that cares.

    Another question I like to ask is how can you go against industry tradition? What can you do that no one else is doing? Can you offer different hours, a different mix of service or a different level of expertise? Often times we get set in doing things exactly like everyone else. Note: Remember if you are going to be different you may have to help your customers “unlearn” the way things used to be.

    Finally, have you considered ways to create more of a niche business for yourself? Recently, I have started to brand my sales training so that it is focused entirely on Engineers and Consultants. While there are tons of sales training programs out there the Effectivation one is the only I know of focused on this market. In response, Watson Wyatt, McKesson Canada and Gartner Lee have all endorsed this program as their national standard. Why? Because we are experts in helping engineers and professional service organizations sell. How can you position your business so that you have a distinct new advantage?

    This month take time to look at your business and ask are you spilling too much blood trying to be a clone of everyone else. Is there a way to position yourself differently in the customer’s mind? It’s true you may lose some market opportunity by making a shift but isn’t 100% of something a lot less painful then fighting to get a little bit of everything? I tend think so…

    ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com

    Where’s your finish line?

    October 25, 2009

    finish_lineI had the opportunity to meet Alison Korn a number of years ago when we were working on a video for Microsoft. Alison was a Canadian Olympic rower and I asked her, “What was it like rowing in the Olympics?” She said, “It’s funny, even though we practiced for years, we couldn’t find the passion or the energy until we saw our finish line. But when we knew we were a thousand metres from the finish and that everything we worked for would be lost, we found passion and energy that we never thought we had.”

    I remember that race. Alison and her partner went from forth to second and they narrowly missed winning the Gold.

    How is it that the losing team often monopolizes the final minutes of a sporting contest? They know if they don’t get the puck in the net, the ball in the hoop or score that last minute touchdown, everything they have worked for will be lost. Why they didn’t figure it out earlier in the game? They just didn’t see their finish line.

    I know that most of us have goals and objectives and we write them down faithfully every year, but do we treat them like a finish line or do we allow ourselves to defer them, reschedule them or forget about them completely? A finish line is permanent; it’s the stake in the ground that doesn’t move. It’s that point of no return that gives us power and authority to do better than we ever thought was possible. For most of us we need the finality of a finish line to open up and really make things happen. We see it in business all the time, a sales rep waits until the last quarter and then starts pushing themselves in order to achieve their quota. Companies allow their accounts receivable to get wildly out of control and then they scramble, trying to collect it all in one day. Relationships that have failed for years try to repair themselves in the final hour to avoid breaking up. We put off buying life insurance until we are old enough to believe we actually just may die some day? My point is, if we don’t have that point of finality few of us ever move forward.

    So where are your finish lines? Do they even exist? Are you treating your goals and objectives with the “finish line” discipline that you need? If you watch successful companies you will notice how they create finish lines long before they are forced upon them. They are proactive vs. reactive when it comes to achieving the things that are important to them.

    One of the reasons we drift away from achieving our goals is because the target is too far out in the distance and it is hard for us to create the urgency we need. Have you considered breaking down your goals into smaller manageable chunks that you can focus on now instead of sometime off in the distant future? One of the unique characteristics of our brains is that it works in the here and now. Your brain doesn’t know how to work in future tense. People who are “going” to start losing weight are still fat and will likely stay fat until they say I am losing weight now.

    The pain pleasure principle states that we are attracted to pleasure and we avoid pain and when the two come in conflict the avoidance of pain will win out. This is why we need to commit and set finish lines. If we don’t we defer, postpone and put off until we are cornered and trapped.

    This month take the time to go through your goals and commitments and start defining your finish lines. When will you do it and will you commit to it? Great runners spend their whole career focused on the finish line. However, here’s an interesting twist, a great runner knows that the finish line is really only the half way point and if they really want to win the race they need to be accelerating when they cross, not starting to slow themselves down.

    ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com

    Where do you struggle most?

    October 25, 2009

    Over the last few months I have been working a lot with Pitney Bowes helping them train their sales force. After one of these sessions Kevin Fancy, Pitney Bowes Vice President, came to speak to his team and he asked them where do they struggle the most?” His point was, “If you really want to make great strides in your business then master your weakness.”

    So when you think about all the things you need to do in order for you to “Master your Marketplace” where do you struggle the most? Is it time management, selling, networking, organizational skills or follow up? Whatever it is I want you to pick the one thing that is your real nemesis and make a commitment to make it your strength. Commit yourself to become absolutely brilliant at it. Invest the time, the energy and dedication to making this weakness your greatest ally. Kevin spoke about how his organizational skills used to be a real challenge for him so he became obsessed with being brilliant at it. Now, today if you walk into his office it’s almost scary, everything is neat, organized and he is a man who is on top of his business… and it shows!

    Too often we can find ourselves falling back on the excuse that we simply can’t change. Well, that’s not true, you can change if and when you really want to.

    If I were to ask you how much business you’ve lost because of your weakness, what would your answer be? Would it be 10, 20, 30%? When I think about my own personal experience I bet you I could double my business.

    Now you may have heard others say that you should simply delegate the stuff that you are lousy at and that’s a valid option too. However I believe there are certain skills that each of us have to take personal responsibility for. So, in this exercise I am really focused on challenging you to improve one of the core competencies that every successful business professional needs to have. You can’t always delegate someone to return all of your calls, ensure you are on time, treat customers nicer or dress you properly. That was Kevin’s point. We all need to take some of this responsibility ourself.

    This month my personal challenge is I am going to become brilliant at generating leads for my business. My partner, Steve White, commits to a minimum of one client meeting everyday that he is not billable. Adopting his strategy will surely help me grow my leads. If you have other suggestions that might help I would appreciate hearing from you.

    Make a commitment this month to pick one thing that you need to improve upon and make it your strength. Seek out guidance from others you admire, make it a topic of conversation when you are out for lunch, do whatever it takes to change your current behaviour. The process may be painful but I guarantee that the business you generate will surely help to ease that pain!

    ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com


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