Saturday, October 3, 2009

Becoming a Cultural Leader

One of our clients is Nissan and one of the leaders I worked with at Nissan was an EVP responsible for the performance of the loan portfolios for the lease and new car sales at all their dealerships in North America. As I watched this leader I noticed that he had great respect from his peers, employees and also front-line staff.

A cultural leader is a leader who impacts positively the way an organization works at all levels. Think about that for a minute and let it sink in. Do you make a positive impact with your leadership on the way the organization operates at all levels?

Three Steps to Improve Your "Cultural Leadership (Level 5) Skills:

Assessment of your culture: Every leader should have a "now" and "then" of your culture. What is your current assessment of the culture of your organization? What do you want the culture to be like in two years?

Create your Game Plan: Your game plan should evaluate people, communication/training, processes, systems and technology in order to determine what you need to change to create the culture of the future. Here are questions your Game Plan should ask:
  • Is there accountability in the organization? Do people have clear roles and recognize the top three priorities of their job? Is their job measured and do they get rewarded for their success?
  • Are there any silos in the organization? What steps are being taken to eliminate them?
  • Does each level communicate well down through the organization as well as to their internal customers and suppliers?
  • Are the measurements for production aligned with organization success and the recognition and rewards aligned to support that success?
  • Is the energy level positive in the organization? Do people feel good about the wins?
  • What processes, information, systems and technology would increase productivity?

Develop your Skip-Level Strategy: A skip-level communication strategy is the way you communicate and interact with all levels of the organization in order to understand and change the culture. Here is a list of possible skip-level communication approaches:

  • All Hands "On Deck" Meetings - Your entire organization
  • Lunch & Learn - Communication lunch with a group (8-10) of front-line employees (Once a month)
  • Surveys - designed to understand and benchmark how the organization thinks and behaves
  • Focus groups - small groups of employees to discuss specific areas of improvement
    Conference calls with multiple levels in the organization
  • MBWA - Manage by walking around and talking to employees (Note: this is not just to say hi and be visible - you are building relationships and really getting to know if the leadership of your team is making its' way through the organization.
  • Training
  • Cross-functional project team to address specific issues

A strong Level 5 leader is known and respected by front-line employees. That leader takes responsibility to eliminate bottlenecks, solve problems and deliver performance by building a strong organization at every level.

To improve your companie's leadership skills call us at 1-866-331-6044 or visit us at

How to Transition from 'Order Taker' to 'Revenue Generator'

When you get an inbound call from a customer and you take and complete their order, ask "Is it possible to do more?" In today's competitive environment where staffs have been downsized, sometimes the answer is not more people, it is better equipped associates empowered to handle the customer. Here are some keys in transitioning your thinking from "order taking" to "revenue generating."

Think EDUCATE vs Sell
- The average CSR doesn't want toe sell, they want to serve. So play to your strengths and serve the customer by educating them on the products/services they are not using. Example: "Thanks for calling today to order your booth supplies for the upcoming trade show. I'd love to educate you on how we help companies increase their revenue by providing the graphics to display on their booth. Let me know if you want more information on that service."

Think RELATIONSHIP vs TASK - Last month we addressed this issue in the newsletter. Get in a habit of asking open-ended questions, actively listening and documenting what you discover so you remember or the next person has a record to follow up with the customer.

Discover the relational stages of the sales process - The difficult aspect of sales for most people is the rejection. If you knew they would say "yes", would you ask for the sale? Build the relationship, discover the needs/pains of the client and educate them on your solutions to their pain. Most people faced with an appendectomy realize that surgery is not just an option, it's a necessity because the pain is acute. The greater the pain, the easier the sell.

Four relational stages to watch for are the introductory phase, the discovery phase, the value stage and the partner stage.

  • The introductory stage is just learning the basics and creating a positive image of your brand.
  • The discovery stage is learning the uniqueness of the customer and what is important to them.
  • The value stage is learning to apply your solutions to their problems.
  • The partner stage is when they see you as critical to long-term success.

To get help on your customer service program, please call TMI at 1-866-331-6044 or visit us at

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Price of Leadership

"No pain, no gain." It is a saying commonly attributed to fitness, but it needs to be applied to leadership. You don't gain the respect of your team until they see your willingness to "get your hands dirty" and experience some pain.

Now when I speak of "getting your hands dirty", I'm not speaking of merely working hard. I'm speaking of learning the frontline issues and ensuring your team solves the problems. The price of leadership is grading your success by the frontline's success. The prize of leadership is seeing the positive impact on the frontline.

If you have paid the price of leadership, then the frontline staff are motivated and appreciative of your leadership. How is your frontline staff doing?

If you need help with your organizational team, please give us a call today at 1-866-331-6044 or e-mail us today at!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Your Chance to Become A Certified Expert on Extended DISC!"


Here's your chance to become an expert on Extended DISC®, TMI's most popular assessment tool.

If you're a client user, you're familiar with its advantages over other self-assessment products on the market. You recognize its value and accuracy in identifying both individual and group strengths and weaknesses, measuring both conscious and unconscious behavioral styles.

TMI is offering you one more opportunity this year to become the in-house expert on Extended DISC® with a 2-day Certification Class November 4-5, 2009 in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. After becoming certified, you'll save your company money by being able to conduct Extended DISC® training internally, and you'll also receive a significant discount on all future products, including personal, team and job profiles.

Plus, there are other benefits of Extended DISC® Certification:

* Master a proven behavioral tool to increase your effectiveness and value in your organization.
* Understand the Extended DISC® model and how it differs from DISC, Myers-Briggs and
other assessments
* Integrate Extended DISC® with your internal programs in management development,
team-building, sales and customer service training, retention and hiring
* Start utilizing the tool immediately with your comprehensive trainers guide, learning the best

way to explain results
* Discover how to explain scoring on unconscious vs. conscious profiles and identify special cases
* Integrate PPT presentations for internal use
* Review case studies on how TMI utilized Extended DISC® to increase retention, develop

team-building and enhance recruiting efforts
* Learn a step-by-step process to analyze and solve turnover issues
* Take advantage of a 20% discount on all Extended DISC® reports
* Tele-coaching support on using Extended DISC®
* Complimentary lifetime subscription to TMI's online development tool, "Take 5

Clips & Scripts"

Extended DISC® is a global tool, available in 40 languages to meet the needs of today's diverse workforce. Thousands of companies worldwide utilize Extended DISC® for leadership and organizational development, communication and interaction skills training, enhancing sales and customer service skills, and as a part of their hiring process.


TMI's Extended DISC® Certification Class
is limited in size to encourage interaction between participants. The registration fee is regularly $1,995 per person and includes all course materials, lunch and refreshments each day. For this class only we are offering a special enrollment price of only $1,495. It's an investment that will quickly pay for itself, and there is an additional discount for two or more people from the same company. For more information or a course agenda, please email or call 1-866-331-6044.

Thank you for your time and we certainly appreciate your interest in TMI.

Warmest Regards,

Amy Upton
Director of Marketing

Keeping Your Credibility and Maintaining the Sell

Oftentimes, sales executives get so caught up in trying to say everything perfect to make the initial sale that they completely ignore the fact that if they do not maintain what they promised the customer, or that the customer is taken care of, in the end, the sale will be lost. The easiest way to gain sales is a referral. If you do not make your current clients happy, they are not going to refer you to someone else. Maintaining credibility with your current customers and making sure their needs are met is vital to being successful. Here are a few tips to make sure you keep your customers coming back for more.

Keep in touch with the customer after the deal is signed – In dating, everyone does their best to make the significant other is happy and satisfied. They are trying to sell the other on liking who they are. Then once they have both agreed on an exclusive relationship, all the extra effort people often put into dating completely goes out the window. This will often result in the relationship ending and you having to start all over again.

Like in marriage or in serious relationships, many of us in sales do not work so hard on making the customer happy once the deal is sealed. We get comfortable in the relationship and do not work to maintain it. Always, make a point to keep in touch with the customer and make sure all their needs are being met. If they are not, make a point to handle it for them and get them taken care of. The customer will be very appreciative and will not only continue doing business with you, but will more than likely tell someone else about you.

Do not make empty promises – Always do what you say you are going to do. If you told them you would call them in an hour, make sure you do. If you promised they would get a free item added to their package, make sure they receive it. Never offer things to customers that you cannot fulfill. Not only will this ruin your integrity within that relationship, but more than likely they are going to bad mouth you to other potential clients.

If you are not available for a phone call with your clients, make sure your voicemail is updated with what is going on and when you might be able to get back with them. Do not just have a generic voicemail or a voicemail that says you are away from your desk. This leads them to think you will call back soon. If you are in a meeting for several hours, make sure they know that. Leave an alternate person they can reach if they have an emergency and make sure that alternate person knows all about your customers.

If you are going away on vacation or call in sick, be sure to update your e-mail with an automatic “out of the office” reply so that the customer knows you are not just ignoring their e-mails. Within that automated reply, make sure there is accurate information and again an alternate contact in case of an emergency.

Doing these few things may take extra time out of your day, but in the end it will save you time and money in the long run. And not only will it save you time and money, it will make your boss happy and make you a sales person of integrity.

For more information on how we can help with your sales team, please visit , e-mail us at , or call us at 1-866-331-6044.

How to Satisfy the Customer EVERYTIME

Sometimes things do not always go well with clients. Some clients complain for a good reason and others like to complain to just…well…complain. It is not easy to always know exactly how to maintain your anger or know how to take the correct plan of action to calm the customer down. One of the top reasons clients leave businesses to go somewhere else are because of the way they are treated. And being that researchers say it costs 5 times less to keep a customer than to gain a new one, you want to make sure you are handling customers the best way possible. Below are 7 key things you can do to help insure you personally can be the one to always save a customer, rather than lose one.

1. Listen and let them complain – Always let a customer give their full story and let them complain until they are completely done. Understand they are not angry at you, but they need someone to vent to.
2. Be Positive – You may not agree with what they say, but continue to be positive and relaxed. Summarize what they said so they know you listened. Do not take it personal.
3. Empathize with the customer – Once the customer tells you how they feel, you do not have to agree with them to empathize with them. Let them know that you understand why they may be feeling the way they feel. You do this, and often you will go from bad guy to good guy!
4. Always except responsibility if you made a mistake and do not make excuses – You will be amazed at how accepting responsibility will quickly diffuse a situation. It is hard for a customer to continue to be angry when you apologize and take on the responsibility. Giving excuses will only make the customer see you as trying to make the problem acceptable.
5. Try to resolve the customer’s problem yourself – The last thing someone who is dissatisfied about a service or product wants to do is have to take up their time telling more than one person their problem in order to get it handled. Try not to get discouraged and pass on the problem. If you do not know what to say, ask them to please hold and ask a manager and then go back and handle it yourself.
6. If you absolutely have no way to fix the existing problem, you need to at least have a solution for next time – There may not be a way you can go back and fix whatever the problem may be. It may be one of those “what’s done is done” type of issues. If this is the case, insure the client that you will do everything in your power to make sure it does not happen again. For example: If the client did not receive an e-mail you promised, make sure you let them know that next time you will not only e-mail them a message, but you can also fax or mail it to them as well to make sure they get it.
7. Thank the client for the complaint – As hard as it may be, thank the client for the complaint and let them know that you appreciate the feedback because it helps improve the quality of your business. This will really leave a good lasting impression on the customer.
Remember: Just because a customer gets angry from time to time, it is ultimately how you handle it that decides if they stay, not the fact they are dissatisfied. Every problem has a solution, just knowing how to handle a customer’s emotions can be a solution in itself.

If you need help improving your customer service team. Please visit or call TMI at 1-866-331-6044.