The Art of Persuasion

Book Cover, The Art Of PersuasionNo one had to persuade me to read this book. I’ve been a fan of Bob Burg’s since I met him at the West Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce about 14 years ago. I’d just moved there and he was one of the first contacts I made. Good fortune, I know!

Bob is the consummate storyteller and he makes good use of that ability in sharing anecdotes to illustrate his points. You want to know how to deal with difficult people? Early in the book, he gives one of my favorite techniques for winning over someone who you may initially feel is an adversary. He calls it “Handing Over Power,” in which you disarm someone by agreeing with his point, and then asking him to help you. Then you employ the key words, “if you can’t do it, I’ll definitely understand.” I have remembered Bob’s advice and used that phrase to great benefit on numerous occasions.

You want to know how to best phrase questions to get solutions that work for you? Chapter 4 is titled “The Art of Making People Feel Important,” something we talk about at Zen Rabbit all the time. Bob includes several examples here of how to negotiate, decline a ridiculous offer, ask for help and respectfully disagree. His recommendations allow everyone involved to retain dignity and find a workable solution.

Long-Term Persuasion Through Personalized, Handwritten Thank You Notes is one of the subtitles of this chapter. He applauds this tactic as a simple, powerful secret to long-term success and makes it clear he’s talking actual written on paper, sent through the mail notes, not emails. Hmmm, I may have heard this advice somewhere before. Sounds like all the successful kids are in agreement on this idea!

You want to know how to set yourself apart from all your rude fellow citizens? This book is chock full of ideas and examples, including letters and conversational responses you could swipe and deploy. Study what Bob teaches and you’ll be well-positioned in business as well as other areas of your life.

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Getting Referral Business from Clients

create a referral based businessPretty much everyone claims his or her business comes primarily from referrals. It’s true that clients who come to you at the recommendation of someone else are the best kind. After all, they’re proactively contacting you because they need what you offer and they’re biased because their friend or colleague already likes and trusts you.

If you want your business to continue growing, it only makes sense then to have a program in place to encourage and collect referrals. Don’t have a referral program already? Here’s what you need to do. Shortly after delivering your product or service, ask for a testimonial along with three referrals. The testimonial can be written or it can be an audio or video recording. Now is presumably the time when your client is most happy with you and therefore most willing to recommend you to others.

Put these testimonials on your website and share them on social media. They provide social proof for your services and they give your clients nice exposure as well.

Reach out to existing clients by sending a special letter asking for that testimonial if you don’t already have one, as well as the referrals. It’s a good idea to include an actual script that your clients can share with someone they think could benefit from your services. Make it super easy, take away the need for your clients to put a lot of effort into giving referrals, and it’s far more likely they will deliver.

Once those referrals start coming in, you absolutely must acknowledge them, whether you think it will be a “good” referral or not. It’s common courtesy to let the person referring know you’ve connected with their acquaintance. Then keep him posted on the outcome.

Sharing the outcome is important for two reasons. First, it’s good manners of course. Second, regardless of whether or not the referral works out, your feedback allows the referral source to get better at sending you future connections. For example, “Thanks so much for the referral of Sally Smith. We had a great conversation. Unfortunately we weren’t able to work together because she’s in the xyz industry and my services are better suited for the abc industry.” Now your referrer can be on the lookout for contacts in the abc industry.

When the referral does turn into a client, it makes good sense to not just let the referrer know, but to share your appreciation with a thank you note or gift. (See why cash isn’t as good a gift in this free special report.) Rewarding people for their kindness encourages them to continue that kind of behavior. Make this reward part of your appreciation program system and you’ll never have to stop and spend time figuring out what to do or give. You’ve already decided when you created the program and now it’s really easy.

You want a referral-based business? Set up the proper systems to support you.

Client Appreciation as a Marketing Strategy

A few months ago I was interviewed by an internationally-known marketing guru. We talked about how you can incorporate client appreciation into your marketing strategy. If you’re a member of the “inner circle,” you would have gotten the interview on CD. Have you heard the recording yet? If you’re like me, and you throw them on a pile to listen to later and months later you finally get around to popping the CD in the player, maybe you haven’t heard it yet.

Incorporating Client Appreciation Into Your Marketing Strategy

I’m sharing a short clip of it here (click on the above text) because it’s so powerful, a new client signed up for the Gratitude Program yesterday after listening to just the first five minutes. Stay tuned for more short clips to come in the next few weeks.

May it be powerful enough to prompt you into action as well!

Good Idea to Pay for a Good Deed?

The concept first showed up to me in Dan Ariely’s book “Predictably Irrational.” I just finished “Drive” by Dan Pink and he talks about it too. So it’s high time I mention it here.

Paying people for doing nice things for you is not only ineffective, it’s insulting. Think about how you might feel if you did a favor for someone and he turned around and said, “hey buddy, thanks a lot. Here’s 25 bucks.” Or a friend shows up to your dinner party and instead of presenting you with a nice bottle of wine or a yummy dessert, she hands you some cash. You’d think, wow, that’s kind of weird.

There are two sets of norms in our society – social norms and market norms. Social norms are the domain of friendly requests, good deeds and warm and fuzzy. Market norms are about monetary exchanges in transactions such as wages, prices, rents, etc. Life is good when you understand the difference and keep them separate.

Things get a little hairy though when you start mixing the two. And that’s what happens in business when you pay people for giving you referrals. Essentially, when you pay a commission to someone who is not an employee for giving you a referral, you’re making a financial transaction.

Many times people make referrals because they want to be helpful. They’re not necessarily looking for anything in return. It’s a social exchange. And in social exchanges, gifts are the most acceptable type of “reward.”

Not only are small gifts more the accepted norm, giving them instead of money actually increases the likelihood that they will continue to share information with you. Studies have shown people will work more for a cause (or something they believe is worthy) than for cash. Both Ariely’s and Pink’s books address the reasoning behind this in more depth and I recommend reading them. But suffice it to know that if you want more referral business, saying thank you with a small gift or gesture is more effective than offering legal tender. Yes, even in “this economy.”

Customer Experience Lessons

I’ve been a subscriber to Derek William’s ezine, The WOW Awards, as well as a great proponent of his whole  concept of “Catching People Doing Things Right,” for quite a while. Loved reading about his recent experience at Wagamama’s restaurant and had to share it with you. (He lives in the UK, in case you’ve not heard of Wagamama’s before – I hadn’t.)

Wagamama – communication lesson # 1
A recent trip to Wagamama’s restaurant produced some interesting experiences. We arrived at about 9.30 pm – after the main rush of people was over. This particular restaurant is always busy and lots of people must have eaten that evening before us. Maybe even hundreds.

Wagamama have a greeter to show guests to their table. And as I approached the desk, I asked the greeter, “How are you today?”

“WOW!” she says. “You are the first person all evening to ask me how I am.”

I could see that she was delighted to be asked and had an extra spring in her step as she showed us to a table and took our drinks order.

Many years ago when I wrote 3 Dimensional Care, I devoted a chapter to Getting an extra slice of the pie. And, guess what? It was all about getting better service in a restaurant. And here it was in real life.

Did we get better service through asking that one little question? Would you give a customer better service if they took an interest in you?

Wagamama – lesson #2
The second interesting experience at Wagamama came when I settled the bill and added a tip to the credit card payment.

My daughter works in a restaurant and relies on her tips. So my wife and I always wonder if the tip we give at a restaurant is going to the person who served us or is it going to the owner of the business.

After the waitress had processed our payment she came back to our table and said, “Thank you so much for the tip. It really is appreciated and I just wanted to let you know that it will be shared between all of us.”

Many of the things that are a worry for your customers have nothing to do with the food. Understand the questions that are never asked and you will win customers for life.

FYI, this article was reproduced with permission from Derek William at The WOW! Awards www.thewowawards.co.uk

You Never Know Who’s Listening

Last week on my trip back from California to Florida, I ran into a colleague from my Execs’ Association in the Atlanta airport. He was returning from Austin and we were on the same flight to West Palm. It was funny because last year a similar thing happened in Dallas with another Execs’ colleague. And on my flight out to LA two weeks ago, I sat next to someone who ended up being at the same workshop I was attending. And then at lunch one day, I was talking about Nikki Incandela with my lunch partner, only to turn around and see Nikki sitting at the table behind me. She said she hadn’t heard me, but no matter because I was saying good things about her!

I find it fascinating how the universe arranges things. You never know who’s around you and who’s listening to your conversations. Which is exactly why it’s so important to make sure you wouldn’t mind being overheard or having the person you might be talking about hear whatever you’re saying. Goes back to that quote your grandmother may have said about “if you don’t have something nice to say…”

This whole idea fits right in with what my friend and mentor Bob Burg promotes all the time. And it’s no wonder that in return, I’ve only heard raving praise for Bob from others.

So this week, think about who might be hearing your offline conversations or seeing your online ones and remember to only say what you wouldn’t mind hearing repeated somewhere.

Guilty For Not Giving

That’s what two-thirds of small business owners said they would feel if they didn’t show appreciation for their clients during the upcoming holiday season. BUT, the newly released survey taken by OPEN from American Express, also found only 59% of those business owners plan to take action and actually give client gifts. Not surprisingly, the survey revealed that the gift-giving people are “growth-minded, customer-focused and generous with staff.”

Alice Bredin, OPEN from American Express small business advisor, says “small business owners who are giving holiday gifts to clients seem to have mastered an important life lesson – you get back what you give.” That’s what I’ve been saying too! Thanks for the reinforcement, Alice. She went on to say that the smart business people are using client gift-giving as an effective marketing tool, on top of providing exceptional client service and developing relationships.What is the most popular choice for holiday giving? It’s cards and calendars! Ewww! How much more mundane can you get?“The stakes are high for making a lasting impression with your gift, especially when competing against larger companies with substantial marketing budgets,” Bredin says. If you really want to make an impression and stand out from everyone else, send one of the very distinctive Zen Rabbit gift packages you can find at the Zen Rabbit website.