Wednesday, January 28, 2009

At your service ...... If I wish

Some days don't work out very well. I mark them as learning days in my calendar. Yesterday was one such day. It showed me different shades of attitude problems among service providers and how it impacts their customers. Though this is a service related issue, I am writing this post in a Sales blog since attitude towards customer service is critical.

Pic Courtesy - Imageshack

Morning 6:30 am: I travel to Pune Railway station to catch the Deccan Queen Train to Mumbai. At the station, I discover that my wait-listed ticket has not been confirmed, so I cannot take the train. Reason – The person in our office who booked my tickets showed a callous attitude. Inspite of my calling him on Friday @ 5 pm, with more than 3 hours available to book the tickets on Friday, he finally booked my tickets on Saturday evening. The reason for delay, he never checked the requisition about which date tickets were required. Outcome – tickets with wait-list of 40. Further, no attempt was made to try alternatives.

My perception of his Attitude: Callous, Insensitive and Indifferent.

Morning 7:30 am: I then returned home to catch a cup of tea and rush to office. I decided to use the opportunity to drop my daughter at the bus-stop, something which I rarely get to do with my hectic travel schedule. At the bus-stop, I encountered one of the strangest behaviors seen from service providers. As the bus approached us while we stood at the bus stop, the driver saw us standing at the stop, but decided to pass us by, for some strange reason go to the next stop, pick up those kids, then come back and pick up my daughter. This took around 10 minutes during which time we kept wondering whether the driver is going to come back to pick us up or we are expected to reach school ourselves. His reason in his own words – So what if we had to wait another 5 minutes and keep wondering about this?

Attitude seen: Contempt for the customer, not acting in the interests of the customer.

In both cases above, the outcome was the same. I have taken steps to begin the process of replacing the service providers. They have lost my trust. Neither of them intended this outcome. Neither of them started the day saying they are going to attempt to loose their jobs today by treating their customers badly. It was their attitude which was their un-doing.

Do your customers ever get this feeling? I often look back at interactions with customers and think if any aspects of my behavior contained shades of poor attitude. Poor attitude is never by desire. It is by habit. In most cases, it is unknown to the person who exhibits that poor attitude. The difficult part is that one only gets to know about poor attitude when it is too late. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, January 26, 2009

Appreciating Your Customers

I came across another very interesting site today, Simply Gourmet Bistro referred by Chris Brogan in his daily posts.

The Author John showcases a very unique way of building lifelong relationships. He writes about his customers. He has a post called "Customer of the Day" each day. In every post, he writes about 1 customer, sharing something about the customer, his profession, the servies that the customer provides and also puts in a kind word or two about his past experience with the customer. At the end, he writes about what food the customer ordered. This way, in a single post, he builds a bond with that customer, creates win-win by promoting the services of his customer, and also promotes dishes in his menu. What better way to Adding Value?

Think about it. We get so many opportunities to do this every day if we so wish. Have you ever done this to your customers? If yes, write a post about it here. Share and learn.
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Selling OBAMA

I started typing this post as I watched the inauguration of the 44th US President – Barack Obama. And like thousands of other people who have been writing about him for the past few months, I too am going to write about this event, this person and this outcome.

As I write this, I remember all that I have seen, heard or read about the great marketing campaign to catapult Obama to the presidency of the US. There have been enough and more articles about his great positioning, his terrific virals, his e-mail campaigns, of Obama's Twitter presence, his digital marketing, his websites, his TV campaigns…. and much more. For those who are interested, his social media statistics are mentioned at the end of this post, duly acknowledged.

But importantly and finally, Obama had to be "SOLD", and not just "Marketed". So as you can guess, this post is about "Selling" the product Obama, and not just "Marketing" it. I was privileged to hear and read highly respected marketing "Gurus" speak about marketing brand Obama. And all through, I kept on trying to get the answer – how did the Obama "Sale" finally happen? I am sharing here how I have perceived this whole process as an ever learning "Salesman". Readers will have to pardon me if I refer to Obama as "Product". I use this phrase only because I am looking at a purely "Sales" perspective here.

Once posed with this question, I began digging more, and came out with not only the social media statistics, but also importantly, the on-ground statistics of the two campaigns. Of the many statistics, I am presenting 2 interesting ones:

1. The table below shows the number of campaign offices opened by the 2 candidates in certain states:


Barack Obama

John McCain






No Data






No Data






No Data




2. The second table below is even more interesting. It lists the number of events within 100 miles of specific US zip codes:


US Zip Code

Obama Events

McCain Events

45416 (Dayton, OH),



43963 (Tiltonsville, OH)



48701 (Akron, MI)



45203 (Cincinnati, OH)



6607 (Topeka, KS)



75968 (Pineland, TX)



44127 (Cleveland, OH)



95903 (Beale AFB, CA)



12985 (Schuyler Falls, NY)



73503 (OK)



73105 (Oklahoma City, OK)



62205 (Centreville, IL)



12979 (Rouses Point, NY)



81152 (San Luis, CO)



29105 (Monetta, SC)



50660 (New Hartford, IA)



76105 (Fort Worth, TX)



84314 (Honeyville, UT)



61605 (Peoria, IL)



CONCLUSIONS: What do the statistics above suggest? Obama clearly had more Effort going in. Whether it was on the ground or on social media. Obama was clearly OUT-SELLING McCain. On election day, more Obama followers were voting than McCain voters. Obama garnered support of more volunteers than McCain. He was more visible to customers – not just through TV or print campaigns, but importantly through his volunteers, meeting people one-to-one, braving the heat, the cold the rain.

They were his SALES TEAM. Meeting more customers. Generating a larger pipeline. Improving his chances of conversion because of sheer numbers.

Brand OBAMA was as much created through a great strategy, great positioning (Yes We Can), as through Superior Execution, a focused, more coordinated effort, more calls being made, more sms messages being sent, creating more followers ..... everything was more.

Well, tell me what you think about this, if you are not already bored with reading the reams and reams of articles already written about OBAMA.

Annexure : Social Media Statistics for US Presidential Campaign.


Internet Usage in United States
United States Population: 303,824,646
Internet Usage: 220,141,969
Penetration rate: 72.5%
Growth from 2000-2008: 130.9%
Stats from
Internet WorldStats (Census, Nielson)
Obama: 2,379,102 supporters  McCain: 620,359 supporters
Obama has 380% more supporters than McCain
Obama: Friends: 833,161   McCain: Friends: 217,811
Obama has 380% more supporters than McCain
Obama: 1792 videos uploaded since Nov 2006, Subscribers: 114,559 (uploads about 4 a day), Channel Views: 18,413,110
McCain: 329 videos uploaded since Feb 2007 (uploads about 2 a day), Subscribers: 28,419, Channel Views: 2,032,993
Obama has 403% more subscribers than McCain
Obama has 905% more viewers than McCain

Obama: @barackobama has 112,474 followers McCain: @JohnMcCain (is it real?) 4,603
Obama has 240 times more followers in Twitter than McCain
1,000: The number of phone banks organized by volunteers using MyBO in the final week of the campaign.
150,000: The number of other campaign-related events organized on MyBO over the course of the campaign.
1 million: The number of phone calls supporters made using MyBO on election day alone.
35,000: The number of groups created by supporters on MyBO. These were clumped by geographic proximity and shared interests.
1.5 million: The number of MyBO accounts created by election day.
$650 million and counting: The amount of money Obama raised, more than half of it through his website.
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Simple Examples, Profound Meanings

I’m writing this as I watch “American Idol.” While I realize this may not be the ideal beginning to a post on adding value, hear me out. Here’s the thing to think about: why are there so many bad singers complaining about not getting a fair hearing and in stark contrast the winner who cries with being humbled by the love of millions of voters? In other words, in every field of life, why are losers proud and winners humble?

My take? I think it’s because the winners think about adding value and the losers are thinking merely about appearing to care about adding value. The winners, in essence, are already thinking about the consumer while the losers are only thinking about themselves. If you continue to think about yourself, there is no room in your head to think about your consumer and how you will help them. And they can sense that and not buy from you. As most sales trainers will tell you, think about yourself and pretty much kill the sale!

Here’s another example. I’m currently writing a book on how to be an excellent landlord. You can read about it here: Landlord Landmines . Although I didn’t come up with this while I was a real estate salesperson, I did come up with it as a landlord. Actually, my husband came up with the idea as a way to help other landlords avoid the problems we’ve had with our tenants! We’ve already learned all we could. We want to share the information; we’re thinking about the consumer!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that my husband and I, we should win American Idol. Ha,ha,ha! No. just kidding. I’m trying to say that the first step to adding value is thinking about the consumer. Like the consumer.

Now I am in a better position to help investor clients and they are attracted to it. I am not just a real estate salesperson who can sell them a rental. I’m a real estate salesperson who owns rental property, who knows what to look for in one and can guide them through such a purchase. My next goal? Owning a property management company, so that every aspect of buying and managing a rental is taken care of for the client. Their job is simply selection.

Everything worth doing is worth doing well. Everything you do can add value. Not just to the consumer, but to your own life. And when you think like that, that’s when you don’t need to think any more. That’s when you’re there! Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Flame of Hope begins to shine brighter

I apologize for having stayed off the air for a long time, and I shall make amends. I can only say that the last 2 months have been too hectic (What's new there - you may ask). But this time, they were hectic enough to keep me away from my two cherished hobbies - writing and photography. I have hardly been able to put in a decent effort in either of these areas. Well, now that the need is back, the effort will match as well.

I attended a conference on Digital marketing in Mumbai on 26th November last year (Yes, you got it right, 26/11 it was). I am going to just mention some very key and important learnings there:

1. The Digital media is growing faster than you and I imagined. The western world has really progressed far more in this area than we have. The buzz is just beginning in India now.
2. More people are spending time on the net than watching TV. This applies more to youngsters than older people. People are even creating an alternative and imaginary life on the web where they are born, go to school, grow up, have a job, make or loose money, meet people, have a romance, marry, divorce and much more. While much of this is fun and fantasy, it is also going to provide opportunities for sales people to create scenarios for prospective customers. e.g., Prospective home buyers will scout around the locality and then enter the house their broker is showing them, see and inspect the specs, the amenities, the list of neighbourhood store, prospective friends for themselves and their kids and much more. How soon will this happen? Weel, your guess is good as mine. It may even never happen.
3. Web-behaviour is quite different than physical behaviour. One thing is currently certain - As Prahalad Kakkar put it nicely - A reader will be more informed than a web - browser. Real knowledge will never come from the web. But instant reference and reviews will. For a sales person, this means that any unhappy customer will surely go to the web and vent his ire. So beware. Sales people can no longer afford to leave issues open. Closing customer complaints and making the customer feel satisfied will be very important.
4. An important point Kakkar made - No matter what, one cannot fake it, even on the web. Humans have very strong sense to detect anything synthetic - be it food, cloth or behaviour (even on the net). So keep that out.
5. Most important learning - Like it or not, I do not have an option but to get net savvy, be socially active on the net and learn to use it to my advantage before others do. It is a race here like anywhere else.

Well, there you have it. A full day's learning in 5 critical takeaways for a sales person.

As promised, I will be back soon and will keep coming back. For a change, I have also put up a new picture on the web-site. The picture of a Saturday morning guest at our window. Do see it and please send me comments on how you liked this post.



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