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The Customers Aren’t the Only Ones That Have Changed

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CUSTOMERSI keep hearing the customer has changed how we cope with them. Think about it, we’re talking about ourselves.  It’s been a slow transition, so slow that we really haven’t noticed. We are so stressed out thinking about what we have to learn about our customers, we forget how we’ve changed.  If you examine your path , you won’t be so stressed  about the customers.

Let’s start with your phone. What type of phone are you using? When did you finally give up your ‘flip phone?’ Several of my friends still have a flip phone and are adamant about not changing. It makes me think, am I that stubborn? It’s hard to give up something we’re used to; if you’re still using your flip phone, you might examine what you’re missing.

Do you prefer texting to talking on the phone? I find it less intrusive, and I can reply quickly. The same people with the flip phones think that texting is ‘impersonal.’ Texting gives an additional way to get in touch, and it’s often easier. Have you asked your customers what they prefer? Let’s not assume we know, let’s ask them. If they prefer a phone call, honor it. Again, it’s not because they’re old they don’t want to give up what makes them comfortable.

Do you still have a fax machine or do you scan and email?  I had to return a document to a national company, and they asked me to fax it. I told them I got rid of my fax machine three years ago and scanning is easier. They were insistent I fax. They didn’t have a reason other than the fact: “That’s how we do it.” Are you still telling customers ‘that’s how we do it?’ Is it time for you to move forward and  make some changes?

Are people asking why you’re texting the person next to you? Often texting to someone during a meeting is a smart thing to do. It’s better than interrupting the speaker and what you have to say is essential. Isn’t it great that you can actually communicate without interrupting the rest of the world?

Are you still using the same-old  lines, can I help you? Today it’s more appropriate to ask the customer what they’ve seen online that they like. It’s a short cut to understanding how they shop. My experience is that salespeople still ask how they can help you when we know the whole world is online before going into a brick and mortar store. Help the customer cut their shopping time in half, find out what they already know.

communicationCommunication is the key to all of our transactions; nothing has changed. What has change is technology and how it is impacting our world?  The more you learn about technology the less stressed you will be.

For more on how technology is impacting all of us.

Lisbeth has been helping customers build sales and marketing strategies for over 20 years. Understanding and using today’s technology is one of the keys to success.

 

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By |March 20th, 2016|beliefs, Blog, Change, Reaching the Consumer, Success|0 Comments

3 Things you can Think About to get Smarter

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What should you think about to get smarter?

What should you think about to get smarter?

Often times when we have a problem to solve we ‘think it to death.’ Often times it makes it more stressful and instead of coming up with good ideas, we impulsively make a decision.  We can’t seem to quiet our minds enough to take in new information.  Here are three ways that might help you decipher your existing roadblock.

Challenge your own thinking and ask yourself some questions. Why am I thinking this way, suppose I didn’t have these thoughts? Is there another solution that I might come up with? How would this be handled by a well-known authority on these types of problems?

Do I have any prior experience on solving this problem? How did it work out before, what steps did I skip that have caused this problem to get worse?

What is my heart thinking?  Our hearts can be of help if we let it. Are you allowed to feel when you’re solving a problem? Think of how many times you’re sitting at a traffic light and you have this creepy feeling that someone is watching you. You turn to look out the window and sure enough, someone is looking at you.

For more information on how meditation can improve your mind, listen to this interview with Bethany Gonyea at the Albany Peace project. Check out my article in The Albany Times Union on Success and Meditation.

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By |March 13th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Why Dropping Your Price Can Give You More Than You Bargained For

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cost-cutIf you’ve been in sales for any length of time, you may have said, “If I don’t drop the price, I won’t get the sale.” I’ve probably said it myself; that was before I realized what I was doing. I kept telling myself that getting the sale was more important than getting my price. What I was doing was killing my confidence. Whenever someone asked me to drop a price, I wondered if they had spoken to my last customer. I also thought will I have to go lower to get this sale? I was on my downward spiral.  I watched my sales people struggle with the same problem; how low should we go?

Inexperienced sales people will tell me they’re trying to show the customer they have fair prices. You don’t need low prices to show the customer you know what you’re doing. If you continue to do this, you collect ‘price conscious’ customers who will never pay a higher price.

Dropping a price is like telling a lie. You have to start telling more lies to cover up the other ones.

According to Lawrence Steinmetz, in his classic book, How to Sell at Prices Higher than Your Competition, says the following: 

“Most Sales reps who are most successful DON’T MESS WITH PRICE-BUYERS. There are times when you just don’t sell.”

Besides, my experience tells me that  dropping the price doesn’t necessarily  guarantee you’ll get the sale.

If sales are your profession, you have to protect its integrity as well as your own.  Great salespeople get pleasure out of servicing their customers, helping to solve problems and getting the best out of their situation. Price or investment is the byproduct of the solution and should not be the focus. Stores like the Dollar Store are definitely price focused.  However, when I’m in the store, I always look for brand names that are discounted. Then I feel like I get my dollars’ worth.

Consider that the customer is also trying to get their dollars’ worth. They want to know that their purchase is worth more than the price they paid. This is where you come in. It’s your job to explain to the customer that your product, and your brand are worth the price. You do this by focusing on the problem and defining it so when you come up with the solution, the price seems more than fair.

Successful salespeople rely on value rather than price to cement the sale. The customer has to decide that your product will do the job; until that is established, price never matters. If the product doesn’t work, why would anyone buy it?

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By |March 9th, 2016|beliefs, Blog, Selling on price|0 Comments

5 Ways to Increase Your Customer Referrals

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What does a vendor referral mean?

What does a vendor referral mean?

Giving a referral may cause a conflict for some customers, but let’s look at how you can maximize the possibilities of getting them.

  1. Make sure the customer is aware that you understand and know your products. They need to know the scope of your expertise. If they only buy one product, how will they know what else your company has to offer?
  2. Deliver the most amazing customer service and go out of your way whenever possible. If you deliver the minimum, or what is expected, it’s unlikely you will have built a very strong connection with your customer. In order to be trusted, you must make sure all of your business systems work and if a problem occurs, you’re on top of it. Once the customer voices a complaint, you’ve lost the trust you are trying to build.
  3. You have to show the customer that referrals matter to you and why they’re important; are you trying to grow your business? This will make a difference to your customer.
  4. Be clear on the value that your company can offer. Know your company policies; deliver them in the best way you know how. If you need something extra for your customers, and you feel it’s deserved, see that it gets done.
  5. I consider this to be the one that will solidify your relationship with your customers. Can you help them do business? Do you know what services they provide and can you use their services, or do you have friends who will benefit from them? Let’s say your customer is an eye doctor, can you use their services? What about your customer’s commitment to the community, can you or your company support their cause?

You will feel more confident asking if you’ve shown the customer that you can be trusted and will go out of your way in every sense of the word. You will also know you ‘deserve’ a referral.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been helping businesses build sales and marketing strategies for over 20 years. For a consultation on how she can help you improve you bottom line, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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By |February 26th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

So You Think You Understand Romance?

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What is romantic to one is not to everyone else.

What is romantic to one is not to everyone else.

The only way you know if you’re good at it is the response you get from your target audience. Roses seem to be the flower of choice for Valentine’s Day, but not everyone likes roses.

The key is knowing your audience.

Let’s talk about something we all understand; pricing. Pricing merchandise is more than a system, it’s an art. What makes  the Tag Heuer,  Monaco watch sell for $25,000, on sale ; don’t you wonder what it costs to manufacture the product?

In some ways it looks like many other watches except the face is very unique. More than the look is the romance and history behind the watch. Yes, you can say it’s the name, but  how did they build it?

This is how the watch is explained:

In 1969, TAG Heuer released the first automatic chronograph, and broke with tradition by creating the first square waterproof case to house it. The Monaco became an instant icon on the wrist of legendary actor Steve McQueen in the 1970 film, Le Mans. TAG Heuer continues to break all the rules with the revolutionary Monaco V4, the world’s first timepiece with a belt-driven transmission.

Notice the first line, speaking about an “automatic chronograph with a square waterproof case to house it.” When I first read it I wasn’t sure it was a car or a watch! How about you?

 

Check out this description of a boring black dress:

 

Typical product description:

 

The boring Indie dress.

The boring Indie dress.

Indie Dress

 

The Indie Dress features a cross-over neckline and empire bodice. Made from 18.5 micron New Zealand merino wool. Side slash pockets. Relaxed Hood. Machine washable. By Ibex.

YAWN….

Product description with personality

Indie Dress

Free yourself from fussy when you pull on the Indie. Cross-over neckline and empire bodice move easily from well-dressed to “WOW,” but never compromises on easy care and comfort. Made of the finest blend of merino wool from only the best and happiest New Zealand sheep. 18.5 micron means wool so fine that there’s zero itch. Side slash pockets, relaxed hood. Machine washable. By Ibex.

Tips for ‘romancing your products:

1. Make it personal, ’ how would my life change or be different if I bought your product?

2. Why should I buy it; what makes ‘IT’ different than a similar product?

3. Why can’t I live without it?

“Whisper more sweet nothing in my ear. You may think actions speak louder than words, and a picture is worth a thousand of them, but you’d be amazed at what the right words can accomplish.” Jeff Greenhouse.

Lisbeth has been helping businesses build marketing and sales strategies for over 20 years. To schedule a consultation or have you speak at your business, reach her at 518.495.5380. www.lisbethcalandrino.com.

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How Much Pain do we You Have to Endure To Change?

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Change 2The question is how much pain do we have to endure to change a behavior? Even if the behavior is really destructive we have trouble changing.

My friend was given a gorgeous, glass dining room set ; it’s quite large with six chairs. It is actually too big for her kitchen but it was free. It is so large, that every time she has to get to the refrigerator; she hits her back end on the corner of the glass table. She actually has several large bruises from the dining room table. Why wouldn’t she want to lose that weight?

So what makes people change?As Wayne Dyer says, “Your reality is shaped by your thoughts.

Let me give you the rest of the story. My friend is my height, 4’11” and weighs 155 pounds. Twenty years ago, she weighed 110, like me. The doctor told her that she was ‘obese,’ and  said it was paramount that she lose weight. My friend continues to complain about why she can’t lose weight, but that’s another story.

Why don’t we change when it’s obviously in our best interest?

I know when I don’t go to the gym I feel lousy. Lousy because I say that physical fitness is the cornerstone of my life and I’m violating my standards. Regular exercise is how I live my life.

I also think about my health and the long term effects of not exercising. The other day someone said, “Have a piece of pizza.” To which I replied, “It’s not on my menu.” To this they replied, “It’s only one time, you don’t do it every day.”

Think about having  one donut a week for 52 weeks. The predictability of that outcome for my cholesterol is easy to predict. They say that 90% of our problems were predictable 2 years before, we just ignore the signs.

If you’re not changing, and want to,  you might look at the source of the pressure. Is it someone else telling you it would be a good idea if you changed?  Is your doctor telling you to lose weight.  Obviously health is not really a priority for her even though she works in the health field. She obviously, like so many of us, doesn’t think about the  the outcome of long term obesity. Is it better to have  diabetes and high blood pressure?

If change is on your horizon, but you can’t seem to get there, examine your motives and have a serious talk talk with yourself. Ask yourself, is your change part of your values or  someone else’s?

If the values don’t belong to you, that’s why you’re not changing. If you still want to change,  you have lots of work to do.
Lisbeth Calandrino has been helping businesses institute change for over 20 years. If there’s something you would like to change  in your business or personal life, contact Lisbeth for a heart-to-heart chat.

Thanks to Glen Llopis for the photo on change.

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By |February 11th, 2016|beliefs, Blog, Change, Motivation|2 Comments

Is Your Customer Wearing an Invisible Cloak?

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Is your customer invisible?

Is your customer invisible?

My friend said she went into a local high end lighting store the other day; despite there were sales people walking around, no one approached her. It was almost as if she was wearing an invisible cloak.  What kind of customer experience is this? The salespeople may have been busy or maybe they didn’t see her, but does that matter? My mother used to say that she had to “have eyes in the back of her head” when I was little. That’s what salespeople need. They must always be on alert.

She had never been in the store and was in desperate need of a part for a chandelier. Yes, we are closer to developing an invisible cloak, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

I just read an article about how customer service should be invisible; I don’t think so. If you’ve got superb customer service everyone in the world should know about it. By the way, we are close to producing an invisible cloak; then what will happen to our customers?

When it comes to developing a working invisibility cloak, we may not be at Harry Potter level yet, but today’s newest breakthrough is nonetheless impressive.

A team of researchers led by Xingjie Ni—a nano-engineer at Pennsylvania State University—have just unveiled an fascinating invisibility cloak: one that takes the form of a sleek skin of nano-material.

 

We talk about providing a great customer experience; how can that happen if we don’t make a connection? Great customer experiences don’t just happen, we have to make them happen.

 

“Why didn’t anyone wait on me; she asked, didn’t I look right?” There was a hint of sarcasm in her voice, but I think there was some truth in her question. My hunch is you’ve had it happen to you.

Here are 2 simple ways to keep your customers from feeling invisible:

  • Approach your new customer immediately. If you’re with another customer, politely ask them if it’s okay for you to greet the customer coming in the door.
  • Make the customer feel like an old friend. If you can offer them a place to sit or a beverage they will feel acknowledged.
  • Connect with them in other ways. Complement them when you say hello, notice their smart phone of tablet.
  • Be proactive. Can you reach out to your customer before they get to your store?

I know these may seem simple but they are common courtesies that are often forgotten but go a long way in building a customer relationship.

Lisbeth has been helping businesses build positive customer experiences for the past 20 years. To speak with her about your business, call her at 518-495-5380.

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Join Us Again for THE Floorcovering Industry EVENT of The Year!

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Every year I look forward to attending SURFACES. I groan a little thinking about all the walking I have to do but I pretty much have that solved. I now carry an extra pair of flats in my computer bag! After about four hours, I change my shoes and that seems to help. For many of us, this is the time to meet old friends and be mesmerized by all the beauty of our industry. Yes, it’s like a fashion show for flooring.

It’s the time to catch up on color and design trends as well as new products. As a speaker and trainer, I’m always looking for something to write about or something to engage my mind. I try to attend as many of the education seminars as possible. I’m particularly fond of the installation events. Product is the product, but the installers are the ones who turn them into something spectacular.

Having been in the industry for decades, you would think it’s almost impossible to find something new. Fortunately, it’s not true; it’s all there for you to see. The International Surface Event- SURFACES| StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas |TileExpo 2016 will feature a week of comprehensive education and training taught by the brightest minds in the industry; a world-class trade show floor filled with the latest products & services from vendors committed to supporting the industry & the key networking opportunities that have come to set The
International Surface Event apart.

Remember SURFACES is a four-day event being held from 19th January to the 22nd January 2016 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, United States Of America. This event showcases product from the Architecture & Designing industry. Get plenty of sleep before you get here, four days really isn’t enough time to take it all in.

Are you looking to get more customers and keep those margins up? This year I’m doing two seminars as well as two bonus ‘short ones’ in the Social Media Lounge. The use of social media and email marketing continues to offer new ways to build and maintain our customer base. Someone said to me why don’t you just recycle something you wrote years ago; I laughed. Can you imagine talking about “My Space?”

The new “electronic word of mouth” (eWoM) continues to expand and challenge our brains. Like you, I fight my way through the maze of ideas to come up with what’s best for my customers. Not all traditional marketing is outdated but paring it with new electronic tools can make it sing.

Find me at:

TU25, Tuesday, January 19.
“TURN THE TIDE: CREATE NEW STREAMS OF CUSTOMERS FOR YOUR BUSINESS,” 3:50-5:20pm, Islander H, North Convention Center-Lower Level.

WE01, Wednesday, January 20.
“PRICE MATTERS TO EVERYONE, WHY PRETEND IT DOESN’T?”, 8:00-9:30am, Islander, Islander A, North Convention Center-Lower Level.

Get a free book! To the first 5 people who bring this article to either of my seminars. “50 EVENTS to Drive Traffic to Your Store.”

Prepare to IGNITE your senses, your knowledge and your business at TISE 2016! For more information click on this link, http://www.tisewest.com/.

Lisbeth Calandrino, speaker, Associate Publisher and Director of Social Media, Fabulous Floors
Magazine, http://fabulousfloorsmagazine.com/, http://lisbethcalandrino.com/.

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By |January 8th, 2016|Blog, Training|0 Comments

Join us at The International Surface Event 2016

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On the Cutting Edge

On the Cutting Edge

This is your opportunity to do some significant networking. Bring your walking shoes and your team of employees. Spread out and take in all you can to kick your business up to another level.

Once again the flooring industry is headed to Las Vegas to display new products and trends as well as offering thought provoking seminars.  have been attending The International Surfaces Show for twenty years and it just gets better and better

For the past two years, the event has been paired with Design and Construction Week (DCW). DCW features the co-location of the NAHB International Builders’ Show® (IBS) and the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS). If you’re in the flooring business, this is certainly the place to check out new customers and get serious about improving your bottom line.

Are you prepared to work this show? Here are some quick tips.

Determine why you’re going to the show and what the top 10 things you hope to accomplish are. It’s easy to get off track. If you meet someone you haven’t seen in a long time, take their card and write a note to call them when you get home. It’s likely that they’re on a tight schedule also.

Register early before the show and get the “lay of the land” before you get there. Know what your hotel has to offer, how far it is from the event and if there’s a shuttle to get where you need to go.

Make a list of who you must definitely see. If possible make an appointment with them before the show. You must do this quickly because calendars fill up fast, especially if it’s a short show.

Get dressed up. You don’t need a suit but looking prosperous is always a good thing. I always go shopping before the show and see if there’s something outstanding.

Have more than one pair of shoes with you. I always carry an extra pair with me and change in the middle of the day. This will give both your feet and shoes a chance to recover. Don’t wear brand new shoes if you haven’t ‘broken them in.’ I have found that some shoes are comfortable for short times only. I have done some serious damage to my toes.

Don’t forget to bring plenty of cards. When you take someone’s card, take a photo with them also. This way you won’t forget who they are and what made them unforgettable. Don’t bring lots of large brochures; it’s easier to send things electronically when you get home.

Make friends in the lunch lines! If you decided to grab a snack talk with the person next to you in line. If you think it’s a good contact, maybe you can sit with them and get to know them. If you’re alone, find a table of people and ask if you might join them. This has always been good for me.

Take lots of pictures if allowed. This was you can put them on social media to show your customers what you’re up to. I’ve had several people tell me they’ve actually gotten orders from customers who have seen the ‘hot, new items’ on line. Some people like being first.

Make sure you find to recuperate. Working a trade show is like having another job, but a good one.

Lisbeth Calandrino, speaker, Associate Publisher and Director of Social Media, Fabulous Floors Magazine, http://fabulousfloorsmagazine.com/, http://lisbethcalandrino.com/.

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By |January 5th, 2016|Advertising, Blog|0 Comments

The Power of Keeping Your Mouth Shut

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Thank you Theresa Cavender for the images.

Thank you Theresa Cavender for the images.

I may sound angry, I am. I’m tired of people’s excuses about getting fit.

Don’t be surprised if you see an overwhelming number of ads today on fitness and weight loss. Yep, today’s the day.  This is the day most of us will feel guilty about what we ate over the holidays. Not that we’ll do anything about it, it’s just we feel awful. In fact, we might even join the gym.

According to Darren Beattie, Fitness Coach; only 16% of the population in America has a health club membership. The rest of that 50 million may belong to yoga, martial arts, Pilates, or alternative clubs.

My gym is so busy I think that everyone goes there. However, it’s not so.  January is when most of us go on a health kick, and the stats reflect this. Apparently 12 per cent of all gym members’ sign up to gyms in January, yet these memberships seem to be short-lived and, according to the Fitness Industry Association, after just 24 weeks most people have quit or stopped attending. Do they expect they will get healthier by doing nothing?

There’s only one thing that makes this work; it’s your ability to take responsibility for yourself and what you do. Nothing annoys me more than listening to people talk about how they couldn’t stop themselves from overeating. It’s such crap. Stop blaming everyone else for your inability to lose weight. If you’re not losing weight, it’s likely because you continue to make bad decisions. If you want to eat donuts, do it but don’t expect to lose weight.

I talked to my friend today about her weight-loss program. She is tracking her walking and holding herself accountable. She says it makes all the difference in the world. She excitedly told me she had had completed 70 work outs, and now she looks forward to them.

zipit-228x300Here’s what works for her.

“Don’t say I can’t have that for the rest of my life!” Instead say, I can have it later.” (Most likely you won’t’ want it!)

“Keep the big picture in mind but set small goals.”

You are responsible for your own life period. No one makes you do anything or makes you eat. It’s like no one can make you sad or happy, you choose either one.

If you want to lose weight, you will have to give up your overindulgence in carbs. Most people do well for about four weeks, and then they give up. What is it with people? They can’t make a big sacrifice to give up junk food to get healthy and look better?

 

I listen to people talk about how hard it is to lose weight, and I just walk away. STOP with the excuses; if you want to lose weight stop eating, it’s simple.  I didn’t say easy, I said simple. If you want a treat have it once a month not every day!!

You didn’t put all the weight on in three weeks so what makes you think you can take it off in three weeks?

What makes you think you can keep it off after the three weeks by going back to old habits?

If you want something to change you have to change it and stop fooling yourself. There are people who really have a tough time; they come back from the war without limbs and can barely walk. However, they make it their business to get fit, work extra hard, compete and cause a change in their lives. That’s who we should be looking at for motivation.

One of my pet peeves is people who say they “walk” for exercise. To them, it means walking to the grocery store and back. How does this become exercise? We have legs that take us to the grocery store but don’t mistake this for exercise.  There are people in this world who have to forge for food, walk miles in blazing heat just to live, and they do it. That’s exercise.

You can continue over eating and get one of those life threatening diseases that could be prevented by keeping your weight down and staying fit.  What we’re talking about is living and staying healthy. It’s your life, either do it or stop talking about it.

Do I dare say, Happy New Year?

Lisbeth has been helping businesses build changes in their organizations for over 20 years. To schedule a consultation, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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By |December 31st, 2015|Blog, Change, Health|0 Comments