Product Life cycle, it’s about generosity.

It may start with a friend, a family member or a fool—most of the time, someone willing to take the deep dive for you. It doesn’t matter how you look at it; it all started with a single digit.

The fool may only be a fool, an early adopter, or a visionary. The fact is, she trusted you and took the first step to join you on a risky journey. She was willing to take the risk.

Can you still remember the feeling of onboarding that first client? It bordered on paroxysmal excitement.

If you delight her, take her beyond her wildest expectations, she might encourage three others to follow you. And, after five iterations, you are at 250 evangelists—all of this leading to a crowd of opportunities.

The question is, what are you willing to learn from each iteration. Stop, pause, breathe, and absorb. Engage in those uncomfortable conversations. Acknowledge your vulnerabilities, ask and listen.

It is not a mechanical process where every reaction is due to an action. Everybody is a number. No, it is about generosity, humanity and focus, where the person on the other side has feelings and concerns.

Bottom line: Focus on a positive cycle. Generosity has a networking effect. Don’t underestimate the impact.

Select the emotion you want to evoke

It is all up to you. You can create happiness or sadness, spread fear, make people angry, evoke a sense of disgust or surprise. The fact is, the narrative is up to you to produce the outcome you desire, but you are limited to a few basic emotions. Some may say even only six.

When you take your customer on a journey, the tone of your story can delight or scare your listener. You may evoke a feeling of awe, desire, amusement, interest or even contentment. Setting a negative tone may lead to confusion, boredom and sometimes embarrassment.  

Of the millions of words, you choose to use, give the softer tones a change. The ones that don’t raise blood pressure or the ire of the person opposite you. Besides, emotions are contagious, even if we are limited to only a few. And emotions change minds.

Bottom Line: You are the product. You set the tone of the conversation. You determine the emotional outcome. That’s what stands between you and your next customer. 

Embrace customers throwing curveballs

Be ready for your most significant source of unpredictability, your customers. 

I love surprises. When travelling, I prefer taking the backroads, the less travelled roads where you can enjoy unexpected gems. Some may call it off the beaten track.

On the other hand, making and selling pizza’s the way your family has done the last eight generations will hardly bring any surprises. Why not? It works for you and your family. And, that is what your customers expect, consistency.

There is an alternative, that is, to change the recipe. With the change, you are entering an unpredictable world. Not only you, your customers as well. Selling change is hard. Your customers may believe you are failing to deliver on your promise.

But, your customers may change their recipe or take a detour. Will it catch you off-guard?

The fact is most of us are living in an ever-changing environment where we are frequently confronted with the unexpected. Remember, your customers are your most significant source of unpredictability. For that, you need to show a bit of empathy.

Life in an unpredicted climate brings its rewards. The unexpected could be the best thing you never planned. It helps to understand the environment in which you operate. If you keep dealing with customers throwing punches towards you every day, it’s unlikely that you will be caught off-guard.

Bottom Line: Live frugally on surprise. Expect the unexpected. The question is, how do you prepare yourself for unpredictable customers? How will you bat the curveballs they through at you? 

Expect the Unexpected on the Extra Mile

There’s an old saying that the extra mile is never crowded. That is also true for a room with selflessness people, empty. They are all out there doing the extra mile.

The fact is, we are all selfish, some a little, others a lot. Going above and beyond is frequently fueled by ego and self-love. That’s what’s keeps us moving. But if you take the long view on your selfishness, the reward may be generous. 

The return on sharing generosity may surprise you, maybe not in the way you expected. Are you willing to take the bet?

Your vulnerabilities may hold you back because that is what drives your selfishness. Many times those insecurities are a result of doubt in your abilities. Not assisting the other person to win is all about the fear that you may lose.

However, going the extra mile requires commitment with persistence, a deliberate decision with purposeful effort. It requires more than just showing up. Moreover, commitment is powerful; it binds the parties around the table together. Sometimes unwillingly and other times earned.

With the generosity of going the extra mile comes the delight of exceeding your customer’s expectations. Most importantly, it separates the professionals from the amateurs.

Bottom line: When you commit to going the extra mile, you pledge to deliver a better version of yourself. Taking a long view of selfishness will create unexpected returns. Definitely, not in the way you expected.

The Lost Art of Follow-Up

I enjoy cooking, and I love experimenting with flavours. The result is an overfull spice cabinet. Now and then, I will look for a specific spice that I haven’t used for a while. Usually, the search involves a deep dive into the spice cabinet. We all know, the less-used herbs tend to end up at the back.

Many people may feel like this forgotten spice jar, neglected and misused. In my mind, you only press on my number when you need me, but do you genuinely care about me? Your so-called follow-up is just another way of selling a lousy service. Then again, out of sight, out of mind.

Of course, the person checking up on how I experience the service is only doing so because it is his job. After all, they are trying to get my loyalty. However, the intention to delight me and make me part of the team has fallen away.

Following up with those that trusted you before shows that you are willing to go beyond your initial promise. In the end, you will stand out. Do it three or four times, show that I matter more than your top line, and I will remember you when needed.

Bottom Line: Always follow-up with intent. As long as the call is about me, the customer, and not you, the seller. Else, I will call another friend.

The One Thing to do When Showing Up

My apologies for not coming back to you sooner. You were on my mind, but work swamped me. 

Remember, attention is a numbers game; it is all about where on the priority list you are. Yes, for many, you are a number. However, attention is not a commodity. It is a scarce resource with an ever-increasing value because it doesn’t scale. You may have more time, but there is a limit on your attention.

Then again, the essential thing that you can give your customers is attention. They value it and, therefore, will return respect and trust. What do you appreciate more, giving or receiving a scarce resource?

Also, showing up is not enough. We demand more than just your physical or virtual presence. Come and delight us. Please show me a new direction and take my problems away. Show empathy. The only way you can do it is through attention.

Frequently, salespeople and marketers are focused on the next big sale, the margin they will realise and eventually their commission. In the process, they will show their true colours, maybe unintentionally. Indeed, they don’t always value the small fish in the big pond.

Merely showing up is not enough. With a little bit of attention and a hefty dose of mindfulness, you may notice what’s bothering the person on the other end of the line.

Bottom Line: Attention is complex. You can only give so much per day. On the other hand, customers demand more; they want respect. More important, be generous with respect. It lasts longer.