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Countdown: Skill #6 Emotional Intelligence

Countdown: Skill #6 Emotional Intelligence

In my original post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I listed the 10 skills critical to your success as a Freelancer in the growing upheaval of the worldwide job market.  Today I’m going to discuss Emotional Intelligence, #6 in the series.

 

Emotional Intelligence is Important Because?

 

It is one of the essentials of leadership (there’s that word again).  Yes, as a future Freelancer, you are expected to be a good leader.  Part of your job will be the bringing together of disparate groups who need to get along if your projects are going to succeed.  In order to do this, you need to develop your Emotional Intelligence skills.

Emotional Intelligence (also referred to as EI in this post) is linked to your own success.  Studies show 90% of top performers are high in EI.

Emotional Intelligence also leads to personal happiness and achievement.

 

4 Core Skills Comprise EI

Self Awareness

Self Awareness is defined as the ability to perceive our own emotions and your reactions in given situations.

What gets you excited?  What angers or frustrates you?  How and when do you show your emotions?  How does showing your emotions affect others? In what ways?

Knowing how you react emotionally in any given situation and staying aware of those emotions as they happen is the key here.

Self-Management

Here is the best definition of self-management I have found. It’s the first two lines of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If”.  “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”

Self-management is the ability to stay calm, cool, and collected.  Not allowing others to derail, distract, or disrupt your leadership in any given situation.

Social Awareness

Social awareness is the ability to pick up on how other people feel and why they feel that way.

It’s also developing a high sense of empathy which is the ability to understand the other person’s situation.  Add to this, the ability to meet the needs of clients and customers.

 

Relationship Management

 

Relationship management is bringing it all together.  It’s the ability to listen to all sides, using your awareness of  your own and others emotions to reach agreement. It’s applying creativity to a collaborative decision so that decisions are made from the bottom up. It’s also using clear communication to resolve conflict and build lasting bonds.

Relationships develop over time by frequency and depth of contact with others. The idea here is to build networks of individuals you can use to further your Freelancing practice, and better serve your clients.

 

Where Can I Learn About Improving My EI?

 

If you’ve been following my blogs, you’ll know the first place I always start is with books.  Start with Amazon, your local bookstore, or your local library.  One excellent book on the subject I found is Ian Tuhovsky’s Emotional Intelligence.  It’s an excellent guide to understanding and improving your EI.  There are also some nice freebies at the end. I’ve included a link below if you’d like to order this book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate.)

Check online for courses.  If you Google “Courses in Emotional Intelligence”, you’ll find everything from University Courses leading to leadership certification to seminars to free online training.

 

When Should I Start?

 

Today!  The upheaval in the world job market is already underway.  Software technology and robots are replacing people at an ever increasing pace.  Forbes estimates 50% of the labor force will be Freelancers by 2020 ( http://bit.ly/2tfLsjq ). This is good news for you, but only if you act now so you are ready to take advantage of the shift.

One more thing.  If you’d like to read the full text of Rudyard Kipling’s Poem IF, click here ( http://bit.ly/2irfa3X ).  Ladies I apologize in advance for the poem’s tilt toward the male gender.  Kipling wrote it in 1895 when social norms were far different

 

 

 

Countdown: Critical Skill #8 – Service Orientation

Countdown: Critical Skill #8 – Service Orientation

In my original post in this series (http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I listed the 10 critical skills you will need to prepare yourself to succeed in the coming upheaval in the job market.  Today I want to discuss number 8 on the list, Service Orientation.

 

 

Why is Service Orientation so Important?

 

Service Orientation may be the most difficult of the skills to describe.  Yet in many ways, it is the most important of the 10 skills even though it’s number 8 on the list.  As a Freelancer, you don’t just want clients that are satisfied; you want clients that are loyal.  What’s the difference?  Loyal customers call you first.  Before they talk to anyone else.

 

What is Service Orientation?

 

Service orientation is a customer first approach.   It’s a mindset.  This isn’t a skill to be practiced; it’s a lifestyle to be lived.

 

Think about Nordstrom’s.  They became famous because their gift wrapping department would wrap gifts purchased at other stores.  Or, Disney, whose “cast members” sole function is to make sure their “guests” enjoy themselves.

 

I spent 20 years training Mortgage Loan Officers how to build a business based on personal referrals from Realtors, builders, and previous clients.  Service orientation was the most important quality determining their success.

 

Here’s what it takes to develop a loyal client.

 

First on the list is a high degree of empathy.  Put yourself in the client’s shoes. You need good listening skills.  Find out not only what the client wants, but why they want it.  Have patience.  Be sure you hear them out.

 

Be interested in your clients as people.  Find out as much as you can about them. Why do they love their industry? How did they come to be involved in your project?  Where do they go from here?  My experience is most people love to talk about themselves, especially if they are passionate about their work.

 

Practice exceptional follow through and follow up.  As a Freelancer, you may be acting as a go-between for two or more clients.  Make sure all are not just satisfied, but pleased with the outcome.  Make follow up calls a week, a month, a quarter, and even a year after completion.  It’s a good way to get feedback on your project in order to improve your performance the next time.  It’s also a great opportunity to ask for more business.

 

My father was a commercial builder. He made constant follow up calls to clients with finished jobs.  If something was wrong with one of his projects, he didn’t care how long ago the job had been completed.  He’d fix it.  No charge.  Guess why his clients called him back again and again?

 

People like to do business with you when you can make it easy for them.  Here’s a hint.  Don’t make it easy, make it effortless.  When I was in mortgage banking, our Loan Officers would get a referral from a Realtor.  They’d interview the applicants, and if they were qualified, the deal closed in 10 business days.  Do you think Realtors liked sending us business?

 

Where Can I Learn About Service Orientation?

 

That’s actually a hard question to answer. When you search online you will find a lot of sites that are IT oriented.

The best sources appear to be books. Jeffrey Gitomer has a great book titled Customer Satisfaction is Worthless.  Customer Loyalty is Priceless. In it, Jeffrey has a lot of simple, direct strategies to build customer loyalty.  I have included a link below if you’d like to purchase this book.  (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate).

 

Then there’s practice.  You can start now.  We are all involved in situations every day where we can strive to make sure those we come in contact with are pleased with the results.  As I said before, this isn’t a skill it’s a lifestyle.  Start today to put the other person first.  You’ll be stunned at the results.

 

 

Social Styles 5-Learning About the Amiable

Social Styles 5-Learning About the Amiable

Why are Social styles important?

 

In my previous posts on Social Styles, I have stressed the importance of understanding these styles.  Your ability to communicate with these different styles of people will make a huge difference in the profits at your bottom line.

Today, I want to discuss the last of the 4 Social Styles, the Amiable.

 

What is the Amiable Social Style?

 

Amiable are, well…amiable.  They are very people and question oriented. They are easy to get along with.  They are friendly listeners who enjoy personal contact.  They place a high priority on getting along with others.

 

Amiable have soft, pleasant voices.  Their speech is slow.  They have open and eager facial expressions.

 

They take time to establish relationships. They believe progress comes from people working together.  They like to make progress at a slow, steady pace.

 

Their natural tendencies are coaching and counseling.

 

Their motivators are seeking approval, being included as part of a group or team, and having a positive impact on others.

 

Amiables have much in common with Analyticals and Expressives, but are diametrically opposed to Drivers.

 

What does the dialogue of an Amiable sound like?

 

Remember that Amiables are ask directed.  This means you will need to ask a lot of questions.  You have to be patient.  Amiables want to build relationships first. They may not seem concerned with the time spent or deadlines.

 

Here are some other things you can expect:

  1. They want you to show them personal support.
  2. Give plenty of verbal and non-verbal feedback.
  3. They are interested in questions relating to long-term goals.
  4. They may suggest you talk to others. If they do, follow up. Not doing so may kill the relationship
  5. They want assurance as to who you are and what you believe
  6. You are expected to be open and honest
  7. You will need to sell yourself to an Amiable before they make any decision

 

How do you approach an Amiable?

 

The good news here is Amiables are easy to approach.  They are very open and friendly.

Here are several ways to approach an Amiable:

  1. Be relaxed and patient
  2. Make small talk
  3. Ask questions about their personal goals.
  4. Keep a slow, steady pace. Remember people come first.
  5. Don’t try to promote your agenda as revolutionary. Amiables like things with a proven foundation.
  6. Don’t rush your close. Let them come to their own conclusion.

 

In Conclusion.

 

The main take away from this brief outline of the 4 social styles is the need for you to learn to be flexible.  Remember Stephen Covey.  “First seek to understand, then be understood.”  Seek to understand the way your prospect communicates with the world. You will then open the door to show your prospect how you can fulfill his needs.

 

What I have presented in these posts has been the barest of outlines of these Social Styles.  To learn much, much more, I strongly urge you to click on the link below to buy Larry Wilson’s terrific book.

(Full disclosure.  I am a Powell’s Affiliate)

 

 

 

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Powells.com
Social Styles 4-Learning About the Analytical

Social Styles 4-Learning About the Analytical

Why are Social styles important?

 

This is the 4th post in the series on Social Styles.  In my previous posts,  we discussed how essential understanding these styles is to building trust with prospects, customers, clients, employees, and partners.  Your success depends on these relationships.

Today I want to discuss the Analytical Social Style.

 

What is the Analytical Social Style?

 

The Analytical Social style is the most easily described and may be the most misunderstood of all the styles.  Think of a scientist, an engineer, or an accountant.

 

Analyticals are totally task focused and will ask a lot of questions.  They are fact gatherers and number crunchers.  They want to make sure they have all the information before they make a decision.  This tendency sometimes makes them seem indecisive because there is always more to know.

 

They are reserved. Their speech is proper, formal and deliberate.  They make few gestures.  They are good listeners.

 

They take the time to develop personal relationships.

 

They are excellent planners and organizers.

 

Analytical tend to move slowly and with precision. They tend to think the process of reaching a decision is as important as the decision itself.

 

Their goals are making the right decision in the right way. They want to enhance their reputation as a technical expert.

 

If you try to move them too quickly, it will make them very uncomfortable and may damage the relationship.

 

Analyticals have much in common with Drivers and Amiables. As you can see from the grid, they are diametrically opposed to Expressives.

 

What is dialogue with an  Analytical like?

 

Analyticals love slow, orderly, fact-filled presentations.  Here’s what you can expect:

  1. They expect you to be prepared
  2. Ask detailed fact-oriented questions
  3. Stay focused on the topic
  4. They want flexibility. Give them time to consider alternatives to what you present.
  5. Give them facts supported by data.
  6. Listen carefully and take notes. Give them time to finish and ask follow up questions.
  7. Offer confirmation of what you bring to the relationship.

 

How do you approach an Analytical?

 

Approaching an Analytical may seem difficult as they often appear remote.  But,  doing a little homework will smooth the way.

  1. Do some research before you go. Find out as much about their situation as you can.
  2. Don’t engage in a lot of small talk in the beginning.
  3. Adopt a predictable, slow, task oriented approach
  4. When you make a proposal, try to make sure it aligns with their current belief
  5. Support your proposals with a lot of facts and figures.  The more data the better.
  6. Try to state your opinions in the form of a question, “What are your thoughts about X?”

 

In Conclusion

 

As business owners, you will be dealing with all these Social Styles.  Understanding the ways to engage them will deliver amazing results in the form of profits on your bottom line.

 

Note:  The material in this blog was developed from information featured in “The Social Styles Handbook” To find out more, please click on the link below to order Larry Wilson’s great book

(Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate)

 

 

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Powells.com
Social Styles 3 – Learning About the Expressive

Social Styles 3 – Learning About the Expressive

Social Styles are important because?

In my two previous posts ( http://ow.ly/Zfpn30bKoSK ) (http://ow.ly/1HcK30bYKwv)  we have discussed the importance of understanding social styles.  If you are engaged in business learning to successfully communicate with your employees, prospects, customers and clients is the key to your success.   Knowing your social style and the attributes of the other social styles is vital in building solid relationships.

Today, I want to discuss the Expressive style.

What is the Expressive Style?

 

Expressives are…expressive.  They are open, energetic, excited.  They love to share visions and ideas.  They love to talk about themselves. They like an audience and applause.  They love to tell people what to do.  They are people oriented rather than task.

 

They are risk-takers, competitive, creative and enthusiastic.  They love to get results through people. Relationships are very important to them. They love the exchange of ideas and want to get to know you personally.

 

Their primary motivation is recognition.  They want to stand out from the crowd

 

Expressives want to know the big picture. They want a good grasp of the situation before getting down to the details.  They want to know the essential details, but don’t care about getting too deep into them. They want to collaborate with you on things that support them.

 

Expressives have much in common with Drivers and Amiables. They are diametrically opposed to Analyticals.

What is dialogue with an Expressive like?

 

Here’s what you can expect when engaging with an Expressive.

  1. You should find out about their visions and how they expect you to help.
  2. Find out what other people need to be involved in accomplishing their vision.
  3. Expressives are usually very open about sharing information they think you need.
  4. They like a fast paced, focused discussion.
  5. They are casual about their use of time.
  6. Watch for openings in the conversation where you can slide in questions.
  7. Figure out a way to show support for their ideas and decisions.

 

What is the most effective approach to an Expressive?

 

When approaching Expressives, you need to quickly establish who you are, what you offer, and what they have to gain by working with you.

 

Other things to include are:

  1. Stories about people you both know.
  2. Share “exclusive” information
  3. Reinforce their vision and enthusiasm
  4. Take time to develop a personal relationship
  5. Leave time for socializing
  6. Talk about their goals and ideas they find stimulating.

 

 

In Conclusion

 

Learning how to effectively communicate with other social styles is a simple, yet amazing way to build trusting, solid relationships with your clients. Try it.  You’ll be stunned at the results.

 

Note:  The material in this blog was developed from information featured in “The Social Styles Handbook” To find out more, please click on the link below to order Larry Wilson’s great book

(Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate)

 

The Social Styles Handbook: Adapt Your Style to Win Trust
by Wilson Learning LibraryTrade Paperback
Powells.com
4 Simple Steps for Winning Customer Service

4 Simple Steps for Winning Customer Service

What is the biggest challenge facing small business owners today? “How do I compete against the big guys?”  Here’s a simple two word answer: Customer Service.

How many times have you heard it?

  • I could never talk to a real person.
  • They kept switching me from department to department
  • I was on hold for 15 minutes and then got cut off.

Do you think these folks will ever come back?  91% of them won’t (source: “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner)

Here is a startling statistic.  80% of companies surveyed say they deliver “superior” customer service. Only 8% of their customers say those same companies deliver “superior” customer service. (Source: “Customer Service Hell” by Brad Tuttle, Time, 2011)

This is a huge need in the marketplace just waiting to be filled.  And…guess what?  People are willing to pay for it.  According to an Experience Impact Report by Harris Interactive/Right Now in 2010, 9 out of 10 U.S. Consumers surveyed would pay more to ensure a positive customer experience.

Everyone Counts

Tapping into this unmet need does require you, as a small business owner, to adopt a certain mindset.  I’m going to quote Michael Connelly’s hero, Detective Harry Bosch here, “Either everyone counts, or nobody counts.”  This means there is no deal too small, no request too unreasonable.  Your goal is to say, “How can I help?” and then try to provide a solution.

I’ve had people ignore me because a deal was too small.  I have news for you.  You never know where a deal is going to lead.

When I was in mortgage banking, I had a nice couple come to me for a small house loan. The Realtor representing them was new in the business and didn’t understand financing very well.  This couple owned a house free and clear.  They had a contract on it and were going to put the entire proceeds from the sale into the new home they were purchasing.  As I remember, the new loan was about $40,00 and I had no trouble getting them approved.

A week before the closing, things began to go wrong.  The buyers of my clients home couldn’t get their loan approved because of poor credit and were going to back out.  Without the proceeds of that sale, my borrowers couldn’t go forward with the new purchase.  My borrowers called me and explained they wanted to help the couple buying their old house if possible. Could I figure something out?

I sat down with my borrowers and their Realtor.  I showed them how they could take a small equity line on their existing home and use it as the down payment on the new home.  Then I showed their Realtor how to write a lease-option agreement on the old home with a purchase date 3 years down the road.  This meant the purchasers of the old home had 3 years to straighten out their credit.  My borrowers would have three years of rental income. They could use this toward the payments on the new home and pay their loan down when the deal finally closed.

The result?  I turned a small loan into a bigger one.  My borrowers were happy.  They referred 4 of their friends who were buying or refinancing to me.  The Realtor starting giving me first shot at all her business.

My point? Ya just never know.

Now, I know, we can’t help everyone. But…we can try to make them happy even if we can’t help them.  If you can’t solve their problem say so. And, tell them why.  Then try to refer them to someone who might be able to help.

Basic Stuff

Vince Lombardi, the famous coach of the World Champion Green Bay Packers, would start each new season by standing in front of his players, raising a football in his hand, and saying, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”  He would then proceed begin practicing the most basic blocking, tackling, running, and passing drills.

His message?  The basics count more than anything else.

Here are 4 basic rules of customer service.  Follow these and you will be richly rewarded.

Rule 1.  Treat everyone you meet as though they were your highest paying client or customer.  You never know.  They might turn out to be just that.

Rule 2.  Answer your phone calls.  Some years ago, I worked for a medium sized commercial bank. They had a rule called “The Sunset Rule.”  This meant if you received a phone call from a customer before 4 PM, you were to call that customer back by sunset the same day.  Even if all you did was call them back and say, “I’m working on your issue, and I don’t have an answer for you yet.  I should be able to let you know by_______.”  That customer knew they had been heard.  That bank had the highest customer service ratings of any financial institution in town.

How do you feel when your calls aren’t returned?  When companies don’t call me back, I assume they aren’t interested in my business.  That’s OK with me.  I’ll find some body else.  But guess what?  If someone asks me about XYZ company, I’ll say, “Don’t bother calling them.  They’re not interested.”

Which way do you want people to remember you?

Rule 3. When you tell someone you’ll do something by a time certain, do it.  Better yet, do it before it’s due.  Why is that so hard?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to call people and say, “Where’s the thing you promised me last week.”  When you don’t deliver on time, you’re telling your customer they aren’t important to you.

If you can’t deliver as promised, call the customer on the phone.  This is crucial.  Do not email, do not text.  Do not leave a voice mail (unless you are asking them to call you back).  Speak to them directly and say, “I’m sorry, I’ve run into an issue and have to move the delivery date to X.”  The customer may not be happy, but they’ll know where they stand and that you cared enough to let them know.

Rule 4.  When you make an appointment, show up on time.  When I was in the Navy, we used to go by Navy time.  That meant if you were due to be somewhere at 2:00 PM, you showed up at 1:45.  No excuses.  If you showed at 2:00, you were late.  If you can’t be there on time, call or text.

Whose time is more important, yours or your prospects?

Think these simple things aren’t important?  Think again.  According to the American Express Survey of 2011, 78% of consumers surveyed have bailed on a transaction, or not made an intended purchase because of a bad service experience.

An Inconvenient Truth

Today it is possible for you to reach millions of people on the internet. But, you still build solid business relationships one customer at a time.

As a small business owner, you face competition that is bigger, better funded, and offering cheaper prices. It seems as though it’s David against Goliath.  But you can beat Goliath every time with superior customer service.

Why a High Touch Philosophy is Worth the Time

Why a High Touch Philosophy is Worth the Time

I think we all are aware of the challenge known as “Creating high touch in a high tech world.” As small business owners we concentrate on how to build our email list, or the number of “likes” for our Facebook Page.  Wouldn’t we be better served if we spent some time on building individual relationships?  

Here is a post with some interesting solutions to this vexing problem. 

Hi-tech is not a reason to sideline high-touch – a lesson for the travel industry from a shoe seller

NB: This is a guest article by Carla Caccavale, brand strategist at TrustYou.

I recently sat on a panel addressing destination marketers about just that: destination marketing today and tomorrow.

But when panel moderator Gene Quinn of Tnooz asked us to give our overarching take on the topic, I took off my marketing hat.

I shared what I thought what is most meaningful to me as a consumer: in this high-tech world we live in, don’t lose touch with high-touch service.

This doesn’t just apply to destinations; this holds everyone from hoteliers to shoe salespeople. It was my “shoe lady” at retailer Neiman Marcus who drove this point home just recently.

We are communicating more and more via email (sadly it is exclusively via email in many cases). So, as I am sure you can relate to, when I open my email at 6am I have at least 25 new messages waiting for me (in the span of six hours when I last checked before bed).

Many tend to be from retailers; buy this, try that, new product, big sale, etc. I must admit I fall victim to these emails (I am every clothing and shoe marketer’s dream). I have saved and texted the photos to Ronni, my “shoe lady” telling her I must have these.

I needed an intervention and decided on a self-imposed one. I made the conscious decision to delete all of these shopping-focused emails during the week. I am not going shopping, so no need to look and be tempted. Done deal. Or so I thought.

Soon after this decision I got an email from Ronni. She wanted to make sure I knew about the new promotion going on; spend $X,XXX and get an $XXX gift card.

She thought I would be interested and reminded me that she can help me shop throughout the store, not just in the shoe department where our relationship first began.

I thought to myself:

“Ronni, what would ever make you surmise that I would be interested in such a promotion?”

No, not really. I actually looked around to see if there were any cameras watching me. How does she know about my decision to delete these emails without looking at them? I was incredibly impressed that she reached out to me personally.

Then I thought of the travel world that I operate in.

  • Why isn’t anyone else doing what Ronni is doing?
  • Why isn’t the island that I love to vacation on not touching base to see how I am?
  • Why is the hotel that I like to getaway to for a weekend not checking in to see if I am in need of a night out?

Because they expect me to pay attention to the emails they are sending and Facebook posts they are pumping out at a dizzying pace.

Guess what? I’ve tuned you out. Information overload has gotten to me.

All too often we pride ourselves on the “size” of our database. How many email addresses we have to blast the next offer or sale to.

When was the last time that you followed up an email blast with a personal note? Sent along a reminder of a romance package and said:

“Dear Mr. X, We’ve missed seeing you and Mrs. X. If I can help make arrangements for a surprise visit, please let me know. I would be happy to handle you reservation personally.”

What if the spa associate at a hotel emailed a client and offered to not only help them at the spa, but make room and restaurant reservations as well (remember Ronni offered to help me throughout the store, not just in her department).

Two other points I made on the panel were:

  • look outside the industry in which you operate
  • take off your marketing hat and be a consumer

Which brands are leaving an impression on you?

Other than my four kids, do you know who sent me a Mother’s Day card? Women’s fashion site Tory Burch.

Okay, maybe not Tory herself, but I got a card and that stuck with me. It included a gift card, which I not only used, but wound up spending more on top of that

I don’t care if that was their plan all along. They are the only brand that thought to send a Mother’s Day card. Everyone else spammed me with Mother’s Day sales.

Whether it’s a follow up email, a handwritten note or, do I dare say a phone call, we cannot sideline the value of high-touch service when our guests are not with us.

We focus on the on the “in the moment”, but not the after the moment. Stop getting their emails and then never looking them in the eyes again. If you are just blasting (via mass email) and not hand holding, you are missing an opportunity.

In these email infatuated days the personal touch can make a difference. It can make the difference between spam and a sale.

NB: This is a guest article by Carla Caccavale, brand strategist at TrustYou.

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