Honesty, the Win-Win Formula

That dress looks fabulous. The colour suits you.

Does a customer always want to hear the truth? Or must we sometimes ignore the fact and make them feel good. In contrast, the opposite may be true. You know it, but the customer doesn’t want to hear it. In this case, it is more about good intentions than honesty.

But how far should you stretch the good intentions?

Integrity is telling myself the truth. Honesty is telling the truth to other people.

Spencer Johnson

A lawyer is required to be honest, always, but not truthful. On the other hand, a witness needs to speak the truth and nothing but the truth. When a client asks you your opinion, are you acting as a witness or defending your product?

Honesty is more than the truth; it’s all about being true to yourself. Honesty is consistent, and it unlocks confidence. But above all, it is in short supply.

The opposite of honesty is misleading or lying. Some may want to soften the lie by lowering the standards for truth. We know them by their deceptive ways. They pretend to answer a question but not at all. They act sensible but is the opposite.

Technically, they didn’t lie but are also not completely honest. If the boss does tell the whole truth, the share price may tumble, personnel may start looking for new opportunities, and the clients may walk away. When you play the short game, this is the way to go.

On the other hand, if you are in it for the long game with your customers, try honesty. It cuts through the red tape. Furthermore, it takes you where you want to go faster. As a result, they will enable you to do your best work because honesty leads to trust.

Bottom Line: First of all, be honest with yourself, your thoughts, words, actions, and wants. And then, let is spill over to your customers. You will earn respect.

Deep Product Knowledge Brings Value to a Story

Wine tasting is more than just a thing. A good tasting can result in a great experience. When you are living in the wine country, that’s the thing you do on weekends. What amazes me is the deep knowledge some of the tasting presenters have, or in many cases, the lack thereof.

The skilled presenter will take you by the hand and lead you through the vineyard. She will introduce you to the blood, sweat and tears of winemaking. And then, after appreciating the effort, you are allowed to experience it. At last, she activates your senses through a process of swirl, sniff, slurp, swish and eventually swallowing, slowly.

Above all, we need a story to tell because that makes an ordinary bottle of wine worth a lot.

On the other hand, if the focus were to close the deal as fast as possible, I would have walked away without an experience and the wine farm without a sale. And yet, most sellers or marketers can’t take the deep dive. They don’t know enough about their product to tell a story worth your money.

True, we can’t expect the seller to be the expert. After all, they believe you can go and do your research on the internet. If you require domain knowledge, find the authority on the subject. For many, that is a quick way out, shifting the responsibility.

But damn, if you want me to buy, do your work with diligence and understanding, not haste. At least try to evoke some emotion in us for your product. Show some knowledge and respect.

Bottom line: Once your seller and marketers know your product from the inside out, what the real value is, and appreciate what it will do for us, price becomes irrelevant.

How to use customer impatience to your advantage

For many, the sky is the limit when it comes to a marketing budget. Think about the price tag of the half time Super Bowl commercial. Above all, the sales team will bend backwards to close the deal.

And then the agitation starts, soon it spills into irritation, and finally frustration. It begins with the customer because the company is not delivering on its word. The half time commercial does not reflect the whole truth. When is the last time you used a customer helpline? You know exactly what I mean.

The same emotions are growing within the customer service department. The customer(s) just don’t get it. They are intolerant, annoying and plain grumpy. After all, who can work with customers like this? Those that want instant service, never mind the other 1000 impatient ones in the line.

Well, the origin of the agitation, irritation and frustrations is a flawed strategy. Think of it; we will pay a fortune to scale our numbers but keeping customers happy we see as an expense. Minimising customer touchpoints are at the order of the day because we are on a mission to cut costs in this department. They can show a bit of patience and wait.

Whatever you do, please don’t put us on hold.

What if you turn customer impatience into your most significant asset? Please sit back, train your people to identify what started the agitation and why it boiled over into frustration. Show patience, don’t let the customer’s anxiety spill over into annoyance. And, if required, escalate the anger to the most influential person available. Sometimes the CEO can also lend a hand. Imagine how it will make the customer feel.

A brand is no longer what we tell the customer it is – it is what customers tell each other it is.

Scott Cook

Imagine how the word will spread when the customers find it worthy of talking about you in a loving and caring way. After all, is that not what you desire, customers craving about you. 

Then again, a top-rated commercial will bring instant gratification; no patience required. If you are in the long game, customer satisfaction is a better option.

Bottom Line: Patience is a virtue. You cannot allow a customer’s negativity or shortcomings to influence the way you treat them. Make them feel important, own the customer relationship; it is worth the investment.

The one thing that matters most in getting into the hearts of your customers.

We are all in the business of selling, and it is so much easier than you imagined. It requires listening.

The one thing that frustrates me most in a meeting is when the person across the table refuses to listen. They are obsessed with their product and services and not interested in my needs or challenges. I frequently notice this behaviour across the spectrum, from young entrepreneurs to even seasoned salespeople. 

For them, only one thing matter: to close a deal, any deal.

And yes, selling also happens at those unnoticed corners of our world. During a conversation with colleagues, the Monday morning meeting, during your annual appraisal review or while speaking to your kids.

On the other hand, skilful entrepreneurs are good listeners. They start by understanding, not solving. For them, the challenge is to eliminate the noise and clutter within a conversation. Because they know, the ultimate success is to identify that one pain point that matters most

And, if you can’t take the pain away, say so, in a straightforward manner and without a doubt. No can also be a positive answer.

We all know that credibility nor experience is a function of how much you talk, neither the number of ideas thrown on the table. Above all, it is related to your commitment to experience the frustration and emotions behind the words. To stay calm and truly listen.

Be patient! Listen.
You aren’t hearing me.
You do not know me yet.

Joan Evans

Then again, for some, listening is just too much effort. Every question is seen as an attack. In this case, expressing yourself more clearly could be a good alternative. Please don’t force the person on the other side to listen to hard; they won’t hear you.

Bottom line: By bridging the gap between your listening and communication skills, you may eliminate confusion and frustration.

The Best Way to Walk with Your Clients

It is so easy to treat me like an innocent bystander like I don’t matter. Or even worse, go on and ghost me. Forget my needs; instead, try to close the deal ASAP and maximise your profit.

Empathy towards customers is not only hard; it is incredibly challenging. The reason is, most of your customers can’t articulate their problems. They just haven’t developed that ability. At its worst, the hypothetical customer could be your boss. 

For many, the default approach to customer interaction is to gloat over past successes. Look how great am I. Then again, staying quiet about the pains on the table is also not a good idea (beware introverts).

The fact is, a little bit of empathy will open the door to the inner works. It will lift the proverbial curtain. On the other hand, to create that intimate connection, you need to expose a bit of yourself; it requires digging into their narrative, living their story. The easy option is to ignore and pass.

However, some may believe that you can capture empathy with a tool, better known as user journey mapping. Yes, it may be a crucial part of the product design process, but don’t confuse it with the ability to experience my emotions, there and then, in front of you. Come and walk in my shoes, even if it is only for a few steps. 

Empathy is simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of you’re not alone.

Brene Brown

In many cases, the person on the other side of the table is fighting a more arduous battle than you can imagine. Only acknowledging their pain is not enough; they want a helping hand; they need compassion. Come, show us that there is some good left in this world.

Bottom Line: Next time, show a bit of empathy during your customer journey, or, if required, compassion. Bringing people along is good for the long game. They may keep following you.

The One Kind of Company Customers Avoid

We are all familiar with those surreal social media moments; some may call it Instagram moments. It rarely represents reality, and we know that a fair amount of chaos exists behind the scenes. However, our intentions are pure; we only want to show you how cute our kids are, sometimes.

Is posting these perfect pictures that different from marketers overstating a product’s benefits and features? Think of that beautiful website, stunning brochure and perfect slide deck, and then the immature service or product.

In both situations, a bit of attention-seeking is at the order of the day. Further, it is a temptation to show your followers the upside of your bizarre life, even if it is only a second. Besides, we all crave for that one video, picture or post that will go viral. On the contrary, it hardly ever scale.

Moreover, there is so much noise in the air that we may believe it is okay trading our principles for a bit of attention.

But please, please don’t trade trust. Can one blame you for mimicking your fellow attention seekers? Of course, we can, it contradicts the image you worked so damn hard to earn. Attention seeking destroys trust.

You’re going to reap just what you sow

Lou Reed, Perfect Day

No business, product or service is perfect, and your customers know that. They will not worry about the minor bugs or your inefficiencies as long as you are upfront about it. They expect imperfection, but you need to be honest about it, else they will run.

Bottom line: Trusted products or individuals are rarely at the top of the attention list, and short term attention is always at the cost of trust. Instead, stick to your promise.