Archives for posts with tag: Respect

Sport is in many ways the descendant of the gladiatorial contents from ancient times. You have your protagonists, or your actors, and you have your audience. The job is to entertain the audience of paying customers.

The other day I took my mother to a cricket match near where she lives. It was a match between England and Ireland, what’s called a One Day International, and the first of a 2-match series. England, as I write this, are the world leaders in this version of the sport, and Ireland are fast coming up on the rails into the top tier of international cricket. England’s pool of players to draw upon is massive, Ireland’s is tiny.

This was a 50-over match, so each team receives 300 deliveries from the opposition to score as many runs as they can. Whoever scores more runs, wins. A lot rides on the toss of the coin as to who decides to bat first or bowl first. The decision hangs on many things, like ability, confidence, the pitch condition, and the weather. Ireland has beaten England once before in a memorable ‘ODI’ in the World Cup over a decade ago.

Ireland won the toss and decided to bat first. ‘Uh oh, I said to my mum, ‘that could shorten the day considerably.’ Ireland were duly skittled out for about 130 – 300 is a good score – , lasting barely half the 300 deliveries they were entitled to, and England knocked off the runs required with about 200 deliveries to spare. Instead of the match being scheduled to finish at 6:45 pm, it finished about 3pm.

I was furious at what I considered to be arrogance on the part of the Irish captain to opt to bat first. He obviously felt he could win the match, but generally it’s better to bat second, because you know what the target is and you know the run-rate you need to get there. In my view, his thought process should have been: ‘You know what, this is a big step up for us, and a big chance for us to shine. It’s also the first game in the series, and there’s going to be an adjustment period as we step up. Let’s put England in, they’ll probably score about 300, and we can give ourselves a chance and not panic.’

What he also should have said was, and this is going to sound like heresy: ‘You know what, we’re in the entertainment business, and there are 15,000 paying fans out there, 90% of whom have come to see England play. They’ll get more value out of the day, and we’ll have more chance, if we bat second.’

We can’t forget that sport is in the entertainment business, with the emphasis on business. If you’re David against Goliath, you should let him do his thing first, give the crowd a show, see what he’s got and then you might see a weakness and sneak a win. You’ve got no chance otherwise, and people will stop paying to see what looks on paper like a one-sided show. After all, look what happened the last time?

Many people are drawn to a charitable concern or cause because they are personally affected by it, or they know someone who is. Obviously there are degrees of interest and commitment, from following a cause on Facebook to actively campaigning and fund-raising for it.

People sometimes, sadly, are responding to a tragedy within the circle of friends or family – often in an area that they had no knowledge of or interest in – and can go on a crusade, putting all of their efforts into helping lessen the burden of others who fall victim to same poor hand of cards that they’ve been dealt. This might involve setting up a fund or a charitable cause in the name of the person affected, or it could be contributing to a cause or body that already exists. It is as a direct reaction to the events that people get involved, when they come face to face with the perspective of others who have had to endure the same fate.

This is, of course, laudable, super worthy and to be applauded. I’m not trying to denigrate the intent and the effort in any way. They are personally invested in the cause. Would they have got involved if someone they knew wasn’t affected by this condition or set of events? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter. They’re involved now.

Then there is what I call the genuinely charitable soul. The genuinely charitable soul volunteers on a regular basis and devotes their time into something that is unrelated to their own catalogue of personal experiences. They work for a cause they believe in because they feel it is worthwhile, not because of something that happened to them. They see an area where the playing field isn’t level, and they work to level it.

In this case it’s somewhat similar, though not the same as that of people who work in – ie are paid do deliver – the caring professions. To me the genuinely charitable soul is an extremely rare breed, and one to be cherished.

Have you noticed how much in business and pleasure is governed by disingenuous and disrespectful language?

Life is competitive, otherwise it would be pretty dull, but these days we get subjected to so much of this:

– Hype

– ‘Trash talking’

– Misinformation

– Hearsay

– Mind games

The biggest lie is that you only get honesty, sincerity and respect the day after a political election, competition, contest or the death or retirement of an adversary. A day or two after that, the gloves are back on and it’s business as usual.

How much differently and enjoyably would we view the world we work and live in if the way everyone dealt with other people, teams and companies was open and respectful? Politically speaking (with a small ‘p’), if everyone who had a gun shot themselves it would be problem solved, to paraphrase a certain George Harrison

In addition to my sales and marketing consulting work, I do a little bit of mentoring. The companies I work with tend to be either start-up companies looking for the best way to go to market or established companies who want to break into new markets.

I often ask the companies to show me samples of their communications and marketing, or to explain how they approach a sales presentation with prospects and existing customers. Most of them – around 90% I would say – start with themselves. Who they are, what they do, their history, that kind of thing.

It happens a lot, but it’s fundamentally wrong. Everything should start with your customer and their market. Whether you’re hoping to build a relationship, or you’re looking to challenge the assumptions and knowledge of your customer, you always start with them. Their market, their issues, their drivers, their objectives, their barriers, their success factors. If you can’t demonstrate that knowledge, you can’t make a connection, you can’t tell if you can help them, you don’t know if there’s a fit, you don’t earn their respect.

Once you demonstrate that you understand your customers’ pains and requirements, then you can establish how you’ve helped other companies with similar problems and how you’re uniquely placed to help them.

The direction of the dynamic with successful companies is from the customer to them, not from them to the customer. That way you’re not selling to them, you’re guiding them to buy.

The role of marketing is to influence the exchange of outcomes between two parties. This exchange normally involves one party parting with money, but not always. The role of personal selling, as one of the 4 main elements of the promotional mix, is to close the outcome in favour of the selling organisation – closing the deal.

The natural inclination of the sales organisation is to get the best possible deal, to extract as much out of the sale as possible. The phrase ‘don’t leave any money on the table’ is the mantra of the sales-maximising organisation. Taken too far, this short term mentality, that of treating the customer as someone you can shaft because they’re never likely to buy from you again, has been around as long the sales profession itself. It is flawed, and if you believe in karma, you’ll know that in some form it will come back to bite you.

A successful deal is all about a fair exchange. The deal has to feel right for both parties. If it doesn’t, one party will renege on the deal and it won’t stay on the books. Alternatively, if they can’t pull out because of contractual reasons, they will sour the relationship, if it isn’t sour already. They won’t be a repeat customer and they’ll also tell 3 times as many people about their experiences as they would if the deal was a fair one.

A fair exchange is a long term deal, a partnership, where both companies address their business problems and profit.

No-one said life was fair, but if you want to win in the long run, you can make it fair.

Yep, all this is mine...

Yep, all this is mine…

“Yeah, we own that customer…”

No you don’t.  You don’t own a customer, ever, and they don’t own you either. As a matter of fact, we share ownership of all that we consider ours: our house with various critters, our company with a bunch of stakeholders, and our real estate and world with an altogether different bunch of stakeholders. It’s like we share a view or a moment.

The sooner we get the notion of sharing into our heads, even in the commercial western world, we all work together better and we all profit. You don’t have customers, suppliers, or competitors, you have partners, and partners by their very nature share stuff.

I got a hand-written card today! From an organisation! I was so excited. The oblong hole in the front door is not just for bills after all.

Somebody had written me a personal thank you note and a different hand had written my name and address on the envelope too. This wasn’t from a friend or family; this was from a large organisation.

Yes, the good people – I always suspected they were good but now I know it – at Movember wrote to me personally to thank me for the huge sacrifice of growing a moustache for 31 days. Now there are thousands of people a year that raise money for this prostate cancer charity, and I bet we all got a hand-written thank you letter. Mine was from Sara and she signed it ‘Sara x’. Who cares if it wasn’t actually Sara, it’s the thought, and the perception, that counts.

I shall definitely grow a moustache for November 2014; they have me for another year, and another few hundred quid, with one thoughtful gesture.

Attention people who have customers – or people who want to stay on the right side of someone else: show you care by taking three minutes out of your day to write a card and envelope and why you appreciate them. You’ll need a stamp too of course, but if there is a better return for such a small investment, I don’t know what it is.

Incidentally, even if you’re not in marketing – or even business – you should dip into the daily genius that is Seth Godin’s blog. Here’s one of his best ever pithy-but-explosively-useful posts containing the handwritten thank you note.

Anyway, back to emails, the web and calls…

Our American friends are very good at making every moment count. Far from wallowing in the past or wishing their lives away until some happy event in the future, they encourage us to capitalise on what is current. Hence the familiar phrases like ‘being in the moment’ and ‘living for now’. This resonates in sports and is also especially true for business these days, when the emphasis is, quite rightly, on execution. You can only execute on the present tense; you can’t execute in the past or future.

That said, imagine what kind of a world it is for those people for whom there is only the present tense. There are millions of people with varying conditions of what is essentially an eternal limbo. Long term memory is OK for many, but for the majority the short term memory evaporates. Think about what this means.

There is no recent past. The couple of grand you spent on last week’s holiday, or yesterday’s dinner with friends, or this afternoon’s sports match are gone, as if they never happened. There is no future. You’re not looking forward to the weekend, because within a few minutes of being reminded of the delights in store, you’ve forgotten them.

You are literally in the moment, constantly, fleetingly, living from moment to moment. Do you even try to enjoy every moment to its fullest? Probably not, because you have to remember to do that…

I don’t have any wisdom or answers to offer here. But I do have a question:

If the present really was all you had, would you execute better on your work lives, social lives and family lives? Would you check out, or would you do your best every time? Here’s to option 2…

The latest argument with Mrs D – or, as I like to call it, a robust discussion – reminded me of how important it is in both our personal and business lives to communicate well.  Have you ever been in a group dynamic (dinner party, dialogue for 2, meeting) and noticed how often people interrupt each other?  How often somebody asks a question and the next person chooses not to answer it, and asks their own question or makes a statement pushing their own view or agenda?  Annoying, isn’t it?

I’m no saint, and it’s something I have to work on all the time, but I try to respect the other person and wait til they’ve finished talking, and then either answer their question or further the topic in some way.  It’s about respecting the person and what they have to say, and contributing something that gets you both nearer to where you need to be.  It’s basic marketing isn’t it?  Listen-absorb-consider-contribute.

OK, so sometimes people will ramble, have nothing of worth to say, or love the sound of their own voice, and you need to work with them a little.  But generally speaking (pun intended), it’s a case of ‘I know you’re hearing me, but are you listening?’


Respecting your customer’s time

I had occasion to visit my doctor’s practice yesterday for a routine blood test.  They’re in a shiny new medical centre, closer to my house, and a far cry from their previous dingy illness-inducing premises.

They do everyone’s bloods between 9:30 and 10am, but you still have to book in beforehand.  I turned up, bright eyed and bushy tailed, at 9:28.  I was still there after 10am.

The lack of respect for people’s time in the GP industry is the heart of the problem.   We’re busy people too and our time is also money.  I dread to think what the national cost is of delaying the productivity of thousands of people a day.  Appointments routinely over-run, and the industry is content to let it happen because no-one else is sticking their neck out to try and make a difference, and because they have us patients over a barrel.  Switching your doctor is time-consuming, and you’re generally in there because you need treatment, now.

I once cancelled an appointment with a specialist shoulder consultant because he kept me waiting over 40 minutes for a €150 appointment.  The office never called me back to reschedule.  They obviously don’t need the money or care about the patient experience.

I’m not talking about A&E or ER and hospitals here.  In my experience they are well oiled and much more finely tuned machines.

It’s pretty straightforward really.  Make longer appointment times and sacrifice a little revenue for happy, satisfied, repeat customers, and more of them.  That way you can also schedule in emergency visits without ruining the day of everyone else who comes after.  Even more straightforward, would it hurt to provide free wi-fi so that in the event of a delay you can either get work done or pass the time?

The easy, small things can make all the difference.