Personal Strategies and Tips
#37 Don't give out your cell phone number to prospects and clients except on special occasions.
I know many people will disagree with this tip. My own salespeople mostly disagree with me. But I would put my productivity up against any of them. A huge reason is I do not give out my cell phone number except on rare occasions. There are two reasons for this. First, although it sounds good to give out your personal cell number from a customer service standpoint, that can be a trap that will bury you. In the beginning, when you don't have that many customers, answering the phone quickly is a great service to your customers. But as you grow and your customer list grows, you'll get to the point where your cell phone rings off the hook, and you can't even answer all the calls. So then the call goes to voicemail, and before you know it, your voicemail is so full you can't even get to the voicemails in a timely fashion. Your idea of good service goes down the toilet because you overload yourself by giving your cell phone number to everybody.
The second reason is that if your customers think that you are the only one that can help them, you will limit your ability to grow. There are only so many hours in the day and so many people you can help in one day. When you hit that limit, your growth will stop.
A much better strategy is to do what I do. I encourage all of my prospects and customers to call the main company number, where a live person will answer the phone and try to help them. If they feel they must talk to me, then the call is forwarded to me, and I will pick it up if I'm available. If not, it will go to my voicemail box at my desk. I do have my voicemails forwarded to my email, and my email also goes to my phone, where I can click on the message and listen.
This allows me to pick and choose which calls I want to return and also when I return them. I have found over the years that as you train your customers to use the system, they are very comfortable working with your customer service staff and they handle 90% of the calls. That frees up my time to find more customers and gives the customer more than one point of contact in my company, which is good for them and us.
#38 Keep in good physical and mental health.
Do not let your business drag your health down. Instead, take time every day to exercise, sleep and eat properly. You will have ten times more energy to make your business work if you feel good.
#39 Always learn.
No matter how smart you think you are, there is always more to learn. Be a student, and be open to others' opinions and suggestions about your business. You never know where a million-dollar idea will originate.
#40 Don't give up.
Persistence goes a long way. It takes seven to eleven contacts with the average prospect before they start buying. Yes, you get lucky every once in a while and you land a new client on the first call. But that is rare. In most cases, it takes regular contact.
#41 Return all your phone calls or emails in one hour or less.
Today people want everything now. If you do not react to their request immediately, you will probably lose out. Never, never, never refuse to call someone back unless you are 100% sure you never want to talk to that person again. You never know what a person wants unless you speak with them. What you think is a salesman bugging you may be a referral for a big order. I can't tell you how many times I have returned what I thought would be a call I didn't want, only to find it led to profit.
In the first five years I was in business, I not only lived up to this, but usually, I returned calls within five minutes. To this day, I never go home without making sure all emails and phone calls are returned. If this means prioritizing your workload so that you can handle the messages first, then do it. There is nothing that will kill your reputation quicker than being unresponsive to any inquiry. This is true of your friends as well as business associates. Respond to people quickly – even if the response is no more than "Got your message, and I am working on it." If you follow my strategy about not giving out your cell number, that does not mean you still don't live up to returning your phone calls and messages quickly. You also need to train your staff to do the same.
#42 Absolutely, positively do what you say you will do – 100% of the time - without exception.
Beyond all other things, your personal integrity is the single most important thing. Live up to your commitments. Deliver on your promises. Do this both in business and in your personal life. For entrepreneurs usually business and personal overlap anyway. This will make you stand out above everyone else because it is rare that you find a person who does this. If you truly live by this mantra, people will notice and you will have a reputation of someone that they can count on. If you end up over-promising, then the minute you realize it, you must contact the client, admit the mistake, and provide a solution.
#43 Exercise honesty and integrity at all times.
Never lie or exaggerate about your product or services. Never make excuses. Own your mistakes. Honesty will always win out in the long run. Very few people do this day after day. If you do it, you will stand out above the competition.
#44 Answer the phone with a smile on your face ALWAYS.
No matter how bad your day is going, take a deep breath, and smile when you answer the phone. Smile and be upbeat when you are recording your voicemail message. People like to talk to others who are upbeat. A smile can tame even the most difficult customer.
This is a learned skill. Learn it!
#45 Integrity is EVERYTHING. Never compromise it.
I cannot stress this enough. It is THE single most important thing.
#46 Admit your mistakes and don't make excuses. Just fix it.
Clients do not care about your excuses and they sense a lie. Just be honest and admit you screwed up and offer the solution. Focus on the future and how things will be better. Do not point fingers.
#47 Develop PERSONAL relationships.
This means picking up the phone instead of email or texting from time to time. In-person meetings are vital. Texting is okay and tends to be more personal than email, but don't substitute that for actually talking from time to time. Technology is great for efficiency, but you cannot get to know a person without personal human interaction.
#48 NEVER send a negative email or text.
ALWAYS deal with problems in-person or on the phone. In-person is always best. The written word can be misunderstood and usually is in problem situations. When you speak to someone, you can sense if they do not understand what you're saying or if they are unhappy and correct on the spot. It's almost a guarantee that if you deal with the negative situation by email or text, it will only get worse
#49 Be direct. Be honest.
You will sometimes lose business to slick-talking sales reps who tell the client what they want to hear – even though they are lying. The truth will eventually show its head. You may lose a few orders to the slick-talkers, but in the long run, your honesty will shine through, and your client relationships will last for years.
#50 Be generous with the small things when friends request your help for personal issues or charity.
I am constantly asked to donate printing for charitable events. When someone asks me to help them with anything, I almost always say yes. I also have friends and family asking me to do small print jobs for them for various personal issues. I rarely charge people anything for these requests. I almost always donate the printing to the charitable event unless it is overly large. Tremendous goodwill is generated when you do this. That goodwill often translates into referrals for paying jobs. Plus, all profitable businesses should always give back a portion of their profits to society and the underprivileged.
#51 Manage Pay-Time vs. No-Pay time effectively.
Your business has a prime time where prospecting and client relations are best done. That is Pay-Time. Make sure you do not fill that time with non-revenue generating tasks. Do those tasks during hours that are not ideal for customer contact. This is especially important for salespeople. If you can do your paperwork over lunch, nights, or weekends, you will have more time to sell.
#52 Build a culture in your business that demands all of these stratigies & tips be followed by every employees.
Get rid of employees who refuse to adhere to your standards and philosophies. You cannot always be around to handle things, and you have to be confident that your people will act as you would in your absence.
As you can see, none of the items listed is anything earth-shattering. Most are simple, common sense. It is amazing to me how many business owners miss these very basic points, and operate in a way that harms their performance.
In conclusion, to succeed in a big way, you don't need to develop some revolutionary new product or service. You can take the most boring product or service in the world and turn it into the most profitable business if you follow the strategies and tips outlined here.