Hello? Is Customer Service Available?

I hate automated answering services that so many businesses seem to want to employ. Is it so hard to have an actual person answer the phone anymore?

I had a client call me today to find out the last name of a person who I referred him to at an insurance agency. He only remembered her first name and couldn’t figure out how to find her on their system. They are fortunate he took the extra effort to find out…many would have just said, “Forget it!” I would have.

Do yourself a favor. Have a receptionist answer the phone. Give everyone a direct line or have them use their cell phones. Make finding and talking to you easy. That should be the first step in acquiring business, right?

Hello!!!!

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Saying Thank You

As a consultant, I end up referring a lot of business to insurance agents because the client doesn’t really need my help. They might be simply looking for a new agent and they want to do it on their own. That’s fine and I am happy to give names of agents that I believe can provide good service. Often, I give the client several names and have them do the work. I never accept fees or commissions from agents. I just want an agent that will do a good job.

It never ceases to amaze me how seldom I get a thank you from those agents. Like I said, I don’t want money or gifts because I won’t accept them. A simple card or even at the least an e-mail acknowledgment would be nice. I do take that into account when I refer later.

The concept of saying thank you applies to all business. It’s not that difficult. Get a referral from someone and send a thank you card or note. Make it “real” versus electronic and it ups the ante. You end up becoming remembered and will ultimately get more referrals. The funny thing is if I (who have the ability to offer hot leads) don’t get thank you notes, I’m betting that other people referring don’t either. In fact, that agent probably isn’t even asking clients for referrals. Too bad. There’s a lot of business being left on the table from poor referral management.

Don’t be one of those business professionals who overlook the obvious. Say thank you for referrals.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Apple Takes Bite Out of Microsoft

Want to know what happens when you do all the right things and your competition stumbles? Take a look at what Apple has done to Microsoft – read story.

Apple has consistently had better marketing; better branding; superior customer service; leading edge products; broader appeal; and better leadership. All that leads to a community of evangelists who continually sing their praises. I know I live in Microsoft country, but I am a “Mac.” Why? Because it performs better and I get superior service from Apple Care. It’s all about results for me.

What about your brand? Are you consistently offering tremendous value; leading edge products/service; unmatched responsiveness to your clients; and evangelists tooting your horn? If not, why? Or perhaps the better question is how do you get that changed?

Take a lesson from Apple and take a bite out of your competition by upping your game!

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Calling All Entreprenuers and Business Pros – Go from Recession to Recovery with Dan and Libby

If you are an entrepreneur, service professional, or small business owner in the Greater Puget Sound region, mark your calendars for July 14, 2010!

Join Dan Weedin and Libby Wagner at the Seattle Chamber for Focus On! Recession to Recovery: Entrepreneurial Strategies for Business Acceleration.

The road to recovery need not be long. In fact, it’s in your best interest to accelerate it! Dan and Libby will share with you their road-map to help your business be in position to come out of this recession with dramatic growth, tremendous confidence and improved employee morale.

What you will learn:

  • Strategies for leading yourself first
  • Characteristics that separate leaders who soar from leaders who struggle
  • Keys for managing and mastering your time
  • “Can’t miss” techniques to build your prospect pipeline
  • Marketing strategies that are painless, profitable and ready to implement today
  • Relationship-building techniques to help you quickly add new clients and create long-term evangelists for you
  • You will walk away with clear strategies and techniques to turbo-charge your business down that road to recovery and get to the finish line before everyone else.

    Take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn from two consultants who are accredited by world-renown consultant, Alan Weiss of Million Dollar Consultant “Master Mentors.”

    We’ll provide practical strategies, insightful tips, and an entertaining time. Not only that, you get a terrific LUNCH!!

    Click here for full details.

    © 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

    Testimonials as Blog Posts

    I’ve recently started the practice of using testimonials as blog posts. You should, too!  Here are three reasons why…

    1. Prospective clients see what outcomes and results you provide to your current clients.
    2. Prospective clients trust the words of others more than what you say about yourself. You do it when you are looking for value. Why wouldn’t they?
    3. It’s part of promoting your value to those who need it. If they don’t know it’s available, how can you help them and improve their condition?

    Here’s an example of a recent testimonial related to my monthly e-newsletter:

    “Dan – just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your newsletters, I read every one and find them always interesting
    and often really applicable to me personally – like today’s – my home office is a mess!  Now I’m going to take heart and get it cleaned up – another
    way you’ve inspired me!”
    Regards Steve Kersten, Bainbridge Island

    You can gain the same type of traction with your testimonials, too. Just stay in the moment and make sure you ask for permission and then use it.

    © 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved



    The Discipline of Wisdom

    Yesterday morning I took part in a terrific webinar on the “Discipline of Wisdom, ” by Alan Weiss. This webinar was free to all his mentor community. Alan spent an hour with us discussing techniques to improve discipline, reduce procrastination, control our time, and enhance life balance. The webinar was recorded and available for his community to listen to again later.

    One technique I walked away with was making sure I have three professional and three personal priorities each day. I started yesterday with that technique and it was beneficial in focusing my attention on those 6 items. They each were completed and I have a new set today. That one technique by itself was a huge return on my investment of the one hour.

    This is one example of the tremendous value received by being part of a global community like this. I dare say there is no other entrepreneurial community as powerful. I have been a member at some level since I started my practice in 2005, and now have been a very active member since 2008. In March, I became accredited as a Master Mentor in this community, so my mentees gain the same value by being automatically entered as a lifetime member.

    If you want to learn more about how this community can dramatically expand your business and enhance your life, contact me. I am happy to share my experiences with you. You can also learn more by checking out these two sites:

    Professional and personal development and growth are key to living the lifestyle that you desire. When you are part of such an extraordinary community as Alan Weiss’s, you  develop and grow faster. I’m thrilled to be able to help my mentees in their journey.

    © 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

    Burning the Boats

    I had the opportunity to hear Lance Miller, the 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking, present in Spokane over the weekend. We were both featured keynoters at the District 9 Toastmasters Conference. Lance told a story about how when Hernando Cortez landed in the new world, he burned the boats so there would be no temptation to heading back to Spain. The commitment to make it in this new world was made when the route to the old world was permanently taken away.

    Do you make those same strong commitments to your career? To your personal decisions? When you “burn the boats” and sincerely know that there is no turning back, the passion to succeed is great.

    If you strongly believe in your decision, are committed to making something in your life work, take the next step like Cortez did. Burn the boats and commit to the fact that there is no turning back. Its full steam ahead in your “new world.”

    © 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

    Business

    I thought we were in a recession where businesses are clamoring for…well…business.

    I called the Director of Sales of a hotel yesterday and inquired via voice mail about renting a space. She never called back. I called again today because I really like this location. Had to leave another message. I wonder how long it will take to call me back. And how long I wait…

    Thought for the Day – If you want business, return those messages. Act like you want my business.

    © 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

    Be Wary of Advice that Comes Knocking on your Door Unexpectedly

    Be careful of who you take advice from – especially if it comes unsolicited.

    Our culture has become infatuated with judging. Reality television shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway, and Chopped entertain us with celebrity judges critiquing “real” people like us, booting them off shows, and heaping them with suggestions and often brutal tongue-lashing. And that’s why we in the viewing audience keep coming back for more every week.

    Be careful in your business and personal life of advice that comes unexpectedly knocking on your door.

    I’m a huge believer in coaching and mentoring. Heck, I’d better be since I am one. As I heard Patricia Fripp once say, “You can’t be brilliant by yourself.” Having a trusted adviser to help you along your path is crucial for success and sanity. Obviously, this is solicited advice. My issue comes when people want to give you their expert “judging” without your consent or desire. Unsolicited advice is always for the giver not the person it’s being given to.

    You may ask, “But aren’t they just trying to be helpful?” Maybe. But what makes them think that you even want or need the advice? If you want it, you will ask. Just because they think they are right doesn’t mean they should force it on you. It may not be right for what you are doing. This unsolicited advice applies to many things you do in your life – speaking, writing, your business decisions, your civic activities, your website or blog,  parenting, how you dress, where your kids go to school, etc. As an example, those of us in Toastmasters are used to offering evaluations. When done in the context of the meeting, it’s a terrific tool. When done outside, it’s simply rude. The same can be said for all the other areas stated. The worst thing for you to do is to take it to heart as if it were gospel, when in fact, you may have more knowledge and experience.

    A couple final thoughts on “advice:”

    • Always solicit advice from people you trust and who are where you want to be as a professional or person. That’s smart.
    • Never accept advice without the person offering it even asking if you want it. You should have the right to accept or reject it.
    • The amount of emphasis you should place on it should be equal with who is giving it to you. In other words, if you asked for it from a trusted adviser, put a lot of stock in it. If someone is telling you how to “improve” just to hear themselves pontificate, then dismiss it and run swiftly.

    Finally, don’t offer unsolicited advice yourself. You should never assume the other person is “damaged” unless they give you proof of it. If you sincerely want to offer help, ask first. If they decline, that’s fine; it’s not an assault on your character or competence. Don’t take it personally.

    Keep this final thought in mind when it comes to unsolicited advice – what is the motivation of the “judge?” Is it to really improve you or is it meant to help them boost their ego? Advice should always be for the benefit of the recipient and that’s why it should be asked for by them.

    © 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

    Framing Questions and Getting Solutions

    I love my daughter. She does have a slightly different style in asking questions than I do, though. She has this habit of asking, “May I ask your opinion on something?” After receiving an affirmative answer, she starts at about the time of her birth with background information. Some of it is needed, most is extraneous. As much as I’d love to have her ask the question first so I can digest it, this is her style (Note – I’ve allowed this with her. Don’t allow it in business conversations. Get to the point quickly).

    After she’s done, I work to frame her problem. In other words, what is the real issue or question? It should be about one sentence and no more than three points. Once you’ve done this, you can begin to figure out a solution.

    Your clients need your help. Sometimes their issues see overwhelming. That’s why you need to frame their problem and offer solutions. Peel away the onion and concisely state their angst. That helps them to be more clear, and you to be more valuable.

    © 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved