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wrench and bolt
We’d like to have our relationships with our customers fit together as smoothly as the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle just snap into place.

But it’s easy to screw things up if we’re not careful.

In the last two months I’ve had a chance to watch an air conditioner repair company make all of these mistakes.

They showed me several ways this relationship can get really screwed up, take twice as long to get half as much done, and leave everyone really ticked off.

Some people seem to have the sole purpose in life of serving as a bad example, and these guys had it down pat.

For the rest of us, it doesn’t matter what kind of business we have. Retail, consulting, internet sales, service, or even MLM, being aware of these principles are what keeps the cash register ringing.

1. Keep Your Commitments

This is the 1st Commandment of building good relationships.

Do what you said you were going to do, and do it when you said you were going to do it.

If you don’t, it doesn’t matter how good you are at anything else, people will see it as your attempt to put lipstick on a pig.

My A/C company was one big FAIL on this issue. Over a course of 8 weeks I had 5 different appointments set with them, and they missed every single one.

Actually, I came to believe that the only reason they gave me appointments was to get me off the phone.

They never had any intention of keeping them and they never called to notify me or reschedule, they just didn’t show up.

When they finally did show up, they didn’t call to let me know they were coming. At least they were consistent.

To me, and probably to you, this is inexcusable. The message it gave to me about my importance to them was not a good one.

No one wants to be an afterthought. Every customer wants to feel that they’re important to the vendor. If they do, they’ll tend to cut you some slack on other issues.

If they don’t, nothing you do will ever be good enough.

2. Don’t Make Assumptions – Seller Side

Why do we like to assume that our customers know as much about our product as we do? Just because it’s simple and obvious to us doesn’t mean much.

In fact, if there’s an issue it’s usually best to assume that the customer is as lost as an alien from Alpha Centauri at Mardi Gras.

It’s better to annoy the customer with basic questions that they’ve already considered than skip something and waste everyone’s time marching down the road to nowhere.

Asking detailed questions also helps the customer to feel that you’re taking the problem seriously, and that you’re being thorough.

Being really fast to jump to a conclusion only works if you’re right. If you’re not correct, the customer will often perceive you as sloppy and uncaring.

And they might be right.

In my case, the A/C company assumed that I knew several things about A/C cycles that I didn’t and it made it hard for me to determine whether it was fixed or not.

That’s where the basic instruction for customers is so important.

They may have false or unreasonable expectations, sometimes caused by marketing hype and sometimes caused by wishful thinking or incorrect information.

Those assumptions determine what they think of you and your product, so take the time to be clear.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions – Customer Side

I had to throw this in, because at times we’re the customer and we can screw things up from that side of the transaction.

We think we know how things should work. Sometimes we’re wrong.

I’m speaking mostly to us guys now, because women seem to have less ego tied up in what they know or don’t know, and find it easier to ask questions.

However, many of us (guys) make assumptions rather than admitting that we don’t understand.

If the vendor isn’t being thorough, we need to ask and keep asking until we get what we need.

In my case, I thought that if the A/C was blowing hot air, it was broken. So I’d turn it off and then back on to reset it, not knowing that there was a five-minute delay before it came back on.

When it didn’t start right away, I was sure it was broken.

How do we do that in life? We insist that circumstances and products have to conform to the way that we assume they should work.

It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing; not very productive. Don’t assume, ask.

4. Stay In Touch

Which leads me to marketing lesson #4 from this fiasco. Let’s not ever leave our customers wondering.

Find ways to stay in touch with them. Build relationships when there isn’t a problem. It’ll make your life, and theirs, a lot easier when the occasional problem does pop up.

Take a look at your product funnel and see what you need to do to stay in touch. How can you engage on social media or email? How can you better document what you do to answer questions in advance?

So there’s the four lessons – keep commitments, ask and listen carefully, stay in touch. Not difficult but very important.

Have you had a bad experience as a customer or vendor? What have you found that builds lasting relationships? Let us know in the comments.

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House in forest

The con men that promise quick, easy, effortless solutions have left a lot of people convinced that visualization doesn’t work.

And it doesn’t – their way.

It does work, and you should use it. But it’s not magic, so it’s important to understand what it does, and why.

Here’s some of the most common mistakes and how to use it right.

Mistake #1: Creation By Visualization

Many people think, because the con men told them, that they can just visualize stuff into existence.

So they visualize with enthusiasm, day after day, and nothing happens. The object of their affection – a person, place or thing – fails to magically appear.

Let me be blunt: you can’t visualize stuff into existence.

Man, if it was that easy, “we’d all be drinkin’ that free Bubble-Up and eatin’ that rainbow stew,” in the immortal words of Merle Haggard!

There will be work in the form of action steps being required.

But before you even get to the action steps, you’ve got to avoid this next mistake.

Mistake #2: Seeing the Goal as Something You Don’t Have

Lots of visualization courses teach that “you should see yourself in the movie of your mind.”

So people create a mental image of themselves like they were watching themselves in a movie.

Unfortunately that’s supporting the idea that someone else, not you, has the goal and you’re watching them.

Here’s some good advice from Dr Robert Anthony: “Only vivid imagery in the first person and in the present tense changes our reality.”

What that means is that you see through your own eyes in the vision and you see yourself as already having and currently enjoying the goal, whatever it is.

Follow Dr Anthony’s instructions. Put yourself IN the movie and participate in the movie.

Don’t be a spectator, be the star! That’s what “first person, present tense” means.

When you experience your dream that way, your mind finds that easier to believe and will go to work to make it a reality.

If your vision is to take a cruise, walk up the gangplank, see the people, hear the ship noises, smell the ocean, feel the sun and the breeze on your face.

Make it as sensory rich as you can. Then when it happens you’ll feel like you’ve been there before, many times. Because you have!

Earnest Holmes, the founder of Science of Mind, put it this way: “We cannot demonstrate life beyond our mental ability to embody…As water will reach only its own level, so our outward conditions will re-produce only our inner realizations.”

So when we know we have it – really KNOW – then we’ve created the right mental conditions to make it easy for the goal to be achieved.

We have the “inner realization” that Holmes mentions.

Mistake #3: Not Taking The Required Actions

What the inner realization does is not necessarily change the outer Universe, but it does change our inner mental Universe.

Our subconscious mind is a filter. We receive many more sensory inputs that we can deal with, so the subconscious mind decides what we see and discards the unimportant items.

You’ve probably heard the common story about deciding to buy a new car, and suddenly you see them everywhere!

It’s not because they suddenly appeared, they were always there.

But now you’ve told your subconscious that they’re important, and so you see them.

Your clear vision and certainty about your goal will tell your subconscious to be on the lookout for the things you need.

When they show up, take action. Wallace Wattles says that not linking vision with action is what keeps many people stuck.

We want to avoid that and be alert for clues about what we need to do.

In her wonderful book, “Your Invisible Power” Genevieve Behrend tells of her need to raise $20,000 to go to England to study with Thomas Troward.

She had no idea how to get the money, which in the 1920’s was a big sum.

Walking down the street in New York one day, pondering this situation, she had the realization that when she owned it in her mind, it was hers.

That thought stopped her in her tracks.

She had been playing with counting out the (imaginary) money every night, but this insight changed the way she looked at it.

That night when she counted out the 20 $1,000 bills, she did it with confidence and certainty.

She had the inner realization.

She still had no idea where it would come from, but at that point she knew it didn’t matter.

And within a few days she had an idea, and circumstances arose, and she followed those ideas like a trail of bread crumbs.

In less than 6 weeks she had the money in the bank.

She had programmed her subconscious and she took action.

Here’s a story from Richard Lynch that also illustrates the power of combining vision and action.

“It is easy enough to have vision; almost anyone can have one.

“But a vision will not stay with the person who doesn’t believe in it enough to bend every effort toward its fulfillment.

“Persistent action must back it up, otherwise it’s just a wish, not a determined conviction.

“I know a man who built himself a cottage on the shore of a lake.

“Someone liked it and wanted to buy it, so the man sold it and built another one.

“The same thing happened to the second one. He built another and another and soon quite a group had been built and sold.

“Someone suggested that a hotel was needed to complete the development.

“One day the man was seen building a huge chimney out in the middle of a large cleared space.

“When asked why he was doing something so strange, he answered that when he got the money he would build a hotel around it!

“Needless to say, the hotel was built. This is what I mean by ‘working out the vision.'”

You see that Lynch was pointing out that the hotel already existed in the man’s mind, and he was constructing the chimney as a start.

Most people would wait until they had all the money, but that’s not the best way.

Building the chimney, taking positive action, tells your mind and the Universe that you’re serious!

When you’re serious, you become unstoppable.

Do you have any visualizing stories? Leave a comment below.

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Helping Hands by American Center Mumbai, on FlickrYou’ve heard me say many times that you can’t build significant success by yourself. But we all try, don’t we?

Many times we draw back from building relationships or asking for help because we don’t feel qualified.  We’re embarrassed that we might be shown up as incompetent or as impostors.

Well, here’s an approach that will work. You don’t build the relationships you need by asking for help. You build those relationships by helping others!

Here’s 3 ways that you can support or encourage others.

  1. Get involved in groups or blogs related to what you do, or want to do. Provide helpful ideas and comments whenever you can.
  2. If someone needs help in an area you’re particularly good at, offer more detailed help if that’s appropriate, or refer them to other blogs or articles that might help.
  3. Make introductions if you know someone who might a helpful resource.

[continue reading…]

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