Where’s the Passion?

Hands in pockets.  Shoulders slumped.  Expressionless face.  Closed body language.  Basically, everything about these salespeople was screaming, “If you want to buy my product, that’s fine.  If you don’t that’s fine, too.  Whatever, just follow me on my tour as I tell you stuff.”

Watching these people was a terribly underwhelming experience.  Each and every single sales rep from this company was missing a key ingredient from their sales schtick (I couldn’t quite tell if they were asking questions and matching needs with solutions).  That one ingredient is this…

Where’s the passion?  I’ve written about this idea before, but then I see it happen again and again wherever I go.  Lack of passion is a plague and it’s not showing much, if any, signs of improving.  I’ve heard it suggested a couple of times recently that wages and salary caps are to blame.  (Which, of course, begs the question, At what salary can we expect excellent customer service and effort?)  Lack of incentive might also be a cuplrit (in this economic climate, however, the primary incentive should be receiving a steady paycheck).  I have a different theory personally.

Management.  Pure and simple.

Managers, if you want passionate sales and customer service reps (or all team members in general), you need to do three things:

1.)  Train the passion.  Granted, I can’t give somebody passion as if it’s a Christmas present (though I wish I could).  But I can show my team how to express passion in two words: body language.  Open posture and gestures.  Smiles on faces.  “Yes” phrases instead of “no” phrases.  Genuine interest in a prospective or current client’s questions, and wanting to let them do most of the talking.  Train your team on expressing passion…and you could see an uptick in your closing ratios.

2.)  Foster the passion.  Maybe you can’t pay higher salaries or fat bonuses.  (Of course, if your sales team closed more sales, this might not be an issue.)  But you can do more to encourage people to get jacked up on their jobs.  Contests, incentives (doesn’t always have to be about more money…find your team’s hot buttons and get creative), and other morale boosters can get your team excited about their jobs and give them more reason to come into work each day.  Share your vision, your goals, and how your team members contribute to the success of the company.  Try some transparency and trust that they’ll catch on to what matters.

3.)  Model the passion.  It starts at the top.  There isn’t a manager on the face of the planet who could possibly expect his or her employees to have passion for their work if they, themselves, don’t personally model it.  I tell middle and frontline managers to suck it up and show their direct reports their own passion for their work and company, even if the higher ups don’t do likewise.  But upper level managers, if you’re reading this, believe this to be true…if you’re not doing it, don’t expect your team to do it, either.  They’re watching you and will resent you if you don’t practice your preach.  You want them to model passion?  You be the first to model it.

If your team is currently lacking in the passion department, there is no easy fix or turnaround.  But you can right the course of your vessel if it’s off by following these three principals.  It’ll take some time, but the results will be noticeable.  And profitable.

QUESTION:  How can you best model passion for your team (regardless of your position in the company)?

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It Starts at the Top

I was recently at a convenience store attempting to purchase my weakness: Coke Zero and a Twix.  I had just finished pumping some gas outside and was ready to get back on the road after presenting a class on customer service.  I might have made it through the checkout process a lot faster if it weren’t for the fact that the clerk was engaged in casual conversation about his new SUV with custom rims.  But it wasn’t his buddies or a girl he was trying to impress with his bragging.It was his boss and store owner.  And the boss was fully into the conversation.

Are you kidding me?  Here’s a buying customer, cash money in hand, waiting patiently (yet aggravated) at the register for the conversation to break just long enough for the transation to happen.  I literally waited for over a minute.  And it’s not like I’m a little dude who would be hard to notice in a crowd.  They both knew I was there and did nothing to put the customer first over a conversation that should not have been happening in the first place with buying in customers in line.

I confess to being a bit taken aback by the whole situation.  Had that been myself or any of the other business owners I know, the conversation would have been shut down until the clerk had completed the sales that were right there in front of him.  I probably would have rolled up my own sleeves to help move the line myself.  But that’s just me.  All I could think of was I should be inviting the guy and his whole staff to attend my next customer service training in that area.  They clearly needed it.

Managers, it begins with you.  What kind of customer service culture are you fostering and promoting in your business?  Are you there to talk about an employee’s car…or are you there to help that guy earn his salary to put gas in the car, pay his other bills, and build a living?  I see it time and again amongst employees, and it aggravates the tar out of me every time.  To see it come from the manager/owner is an even greater sin.  Go ahead and neglect the customer…next time you’ll see him get his Coke Zero and Twix across the street.  Those $3 sales add up.

QUESTION:  How do you foster a customer service culture in your company?

Why Toastmasters?

Has this ever happened to you?  You’ve been asked to give the presentation of a lifetime for your company.  You’d rather throw yourself out of an airplane with your hair set on fire.  You wonder how in the world you’re going to pull this off.  You get your research on, pulling the information needed for the presentation.  And then comes show time.  You get up in front of the group to present your findings…only to find yourself doing your best Marcel Marceau impersonation.  You can neither speak nor find the words.  Your palms get clammy, while beads of sweat starting to form on your forehead like condensation on a soda can.  And all you can think of is whether it would be better to exit the building either through the front door…or maybe the window right there would be even better.  Yeah, you’re on the third floor, but perhaps the shrubbery at the ground level will break the fall.

Perhaps.  But maybe there’s a better way of handling your extreme reaction to public speaking.  And admittedly, you might have never faced either that scenario or reaction.  But chances are very good at some point in your life you’ve been asked to make a presentation, give some kind of impromptu talk about yourself or what you do for a living, give some kind of critical feedback on somebody else’s work, or asked to serve in a leadership capacity at either your company or a social organization.  If you’ve ever had doubts as to how to go about doing any of those things and, frankly, you do find yourself getting nervous about the prospects and wish you had some resource available to you to help you build your confidence in your communications and leadership, then look no forward than Toastmasters.

Since 1924, Toastmasters has been a force for personal and professional development.  With over a quarter million members worldwide in nearly 13,000 clubs, Toastmasters offers a variety of benefits to its diverse membership.  Everybody has their own reasons for joining a Toastmasters club.  Here are my Top 7 reasons to join Toastmasters…

1.)    Because communication isn’t optional.  That’s one of the marketing mottos of the organization, and few sayings could be truer.  We live in a world that thrives on communication and we all must learn to communication in as clear a way as possible.  Toastmasters provides a regular opportunity (usually either weekly or every other week) to practice and hone your communications skills.

2.)    Recognition.  There are three types of people who like recognition: men, women and children.  Toastmasters features an education program that rewards its members for presenting speeches and serving in a variety of leadership roles within the club and its meetings.  Those levels of achievement are immediately recognizable by all members of the organization.  From attaining Competent Communicator and Leader levels to being presented the coveted Distinguished Toastmaster award, Toastmasters recognizes its members for the efforts made and the work done.

3.)    Camaraderie.  Toastmasters operates within what I call a “mutual benefit society.”  Your fellow Toastmasters want to see you succeed, improve and grow within the organization.  From that, new friendships are formed that often times result in lifelong relationships.

4.)    Competitions.  Every year, Toastmasters conducts several speech contests.  Such competitions include humorous speech, table topics (impromptu speaking), speech evaluations and the famed International Speech Contest.  The winner of the international competition is crowned the World Champion of Public Speaking and becomes part of an elite group of recognized speakers within the organization.  Most people don’t enter Toastmasters for the sake of contests and many are surprised to find how much they enjoy the contests once they get involved.  Whether at the club level or on the world stage, Toastmasters competitions give our members a vehicle for pitting their skills against others.

5.)    Leadership Development.  Most people only think of communications when it comes to Toastmasters.  Leadership, however, is the other critical component of the membership experience.  The world needs leaders.  Our communities, our organizations, our companies, and even our families need leaders.  Toastmasters provides regular opportunities to develop critical leadership skills such as listening, motivating, guiding, planning, and mentoring.  Just as communications is of extreme value in the world in which we live, so is leadership.  Toastmasters is quite possibly the finest organization in the world to develop the leader within each of its members.

6.)    Value.  Communications, public speaking and leadership courses can run hundreds of dollars for a relatively short amount of training or conference time.  Even though you can never truly place a price tag on the ability to develop outstanding communications and leadership skills, it might be nice to find a place where one can attain these skills while not annihilating the ol’ checking account.  Between Toastmasters and club dues and fees, membership in Toastmasters typically runs less than $100 (U.S.) per year.  For the regular meetings, the resources you receive as a member (including introductory speech and leadership manuals for new members), the feedback given on your involvement and the resulting personal and professional growth, you’re never going to find a better return on your investment.  Anywhere.  Period.

7.)    The chance to pay it forward.  As my own involvement has increased, I find myself becoming more and more a (pardon the expression) Toastmasters evangelist.  My personal opinion is that how could somebody not want to become a member of Toastmasters?  For all of the reasons I listed (and a score of reasons more), joining a Toastmasters club is nothing short of a winning proposition.  And when you get immersed in the organization and your club, you want others to be a part of the fun and learning.  They’ll thank you for it and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you contributed something positive and valuable to somebody’s life.

So we come to my own reason for joining Toastmasters.  I walked into my first Toastmasters meeting in early 2009 already having a public speaking background.  I had heard about the organization over the years from teachers and in some of the books by noted sales expert Zig Ziglar.  All I knew was if it was good enough for Zig, it was good enough for me.  I wanted to become a better speaker and I knew Toastmasters would help me do it.  What I didn’t know at the time was that, nearly four years later, I would have served a term as my club’s president and Area Governor, and go on to serve as a Division Governor working with other local clubs, and participate in (and even managed win or place runner-up) a couple of speech and speech evaluation contests.  Along the way I’ve met some amazing people and made wonderful friends.  It’s been one of the best decisions of my life.  I encourage you and yours to look into the same.

You can find out more about Toastmasters at:  www.toastmasters.org .

Hello world!

Hey there.  Thanks for stopping by my newly re-launched blog (formerly known as The Morgan Files).  I’m excited to having this updated platform to share my thoughts on customer service, sales, management/leadership, social media, and other professional issues with you.  With so many other blogs out there on these subjects, why stop and read mine?  I’ll give you three great reasons:

1.)  I’m not just somebody with opinions.  I’m a trainer and speaker who works with business leaders, managers, and frontline employees on a daily basis.  I’ve helped others with their businesses and I might be able to help you with yours.

2.)  I care about your business.  I don’t take the time to do this because I’m bored.  I do this because I’m tired of seeing businesses accept mediocrity and the status quo. You were meant for more than that.  I offer real solutions and strategies to help business run with excellence.  It’s time you grabbed it and ran with it, too.

3.)  I’m a consumer just like you.  But as a trainer, I pay extra attention to how the businesses I buy from get the job done.  I see what works and what doesn’t work.  I’m pretty critical at times (almost to a fault).  Sometimes I want to scream when I see the apathy.  Sometimes I want to throw a double fist pump for a job well done.  In either case, it’s always with an eye toward WOW.

So here we go.  I hope as you read on that you’ll feel compelled to comment on my posts, subscribe, and even share me with your friends and associates.  Looking forward to engaging with you.