Working from a Distance Experts
I started 2021 with a specific intention. I wanted to become the foremost expert in producing Hybrid Events for local professional organizations.
My goal was simple. Gather together in-person attendees at a table with remote attendees at their desks. The outcome I was looking for was a way to get everyone to “See, Hear, and Engage”. In late March it happened. I captured a photo of SBRN President, Jamie Docster Welcoming new member, Bret Schubert to his first meeting,
It wasn’t until this morning that I realized the path I took that led to this success.
In this week’s edition of Brain Food from Farnam Street they provide a resource link, The Ultimate Deliberate Practice Guide. What I learned is that the power of deliberate practice is leveraged when you practice in the middle range:
“Noel Tichy, professor at the University of Michigan business school and the former chief of General Electric’s famous management development center at Crotonville, puts the concept of practice into three zones: the comfort zone, the learning zone, and the panic zone.”
Looking back over my 6-month engagement with SBRN I realized that I used deliberate practice to overcome the challenge of producing the event. The result is I now have the ability to launch a Hybrid Event experience to serve a global audience in less than 5-minutes*
As we begin to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel I hope you will embrace deliberate practice as a new resource in your toolbox.
May all your days in 2021 be, Just Another Day In Paradise.
* And I can prove it. Join me on May 11th to see how you can increase your meeting attendance and revenue by going Hybrid.
Prior to the pandemic, many business professionals relied on networking events like the one depicted in the photo above to connect with prospects. In the article Best Appointment-Scheduling Platforms for Your Small Business, by Alex Penfield for The UPS Store, we learn that Cloud-based appointment scheduling platforms have become an important tool to connect at a distance.
Appointment scheduling platforms are online tools that allow your clients to book time slots for your services. The article contains a list put together by The UPS Store to help you pick the one that suits your small business.
I not only use Calendly myself, I've recommended it to my coaching clients. I confess, I didn't get serious about appointment scheduling until I was on assignment with a client who wanted to build their online scheduling platform. Here is what learned.
What sort of meeting or events do you conduct? Start by defining the different appointment types that support your firm's operations. I decided I needed a 15-minute, Quick Question appointment type. I also created a 30-minute Coffee Chat, a 60-minute Conversation and a 90-minute Coaching Session.
Sit down with a blank calendar and map out your ideal week. I blocked out my availability for each appointment type to schedule Coffee Chats on Thursday and Friday mornings. I scheduled a block of 4 Quick Question sessions each day in the morning and afternoon and slots for Coaching Sessions each weekday in the morning and afternoon.
I've been told that the default messaging that comes with these platforms makes invitees feel like they should be lucky to get an appointment on your calendar. Once I got serious about appointment scheduling I realized it was my privilege to get an appointment with those I served best. I crafted a very simple message to make my invitees feel special, "If you are open to a conversation, please use the link to schedule a day and time that works for you."
One of the most powerful features of appointment scheduling platforms is their integration with virtual meeting platforms. I can set the location of my events to be phone, Zoom or in-person for maximum flexibility. It extends beyond where you can meet to when. You get to control both how soon to schedule to how far in advance.
Since the pandemic began my appointment scheduler platform has forced me to pay closer attention to my calendar. Now I'm in charge of my availability, but it's my clients and prospects who are in charge of when we meet. I like that.
If you are curious about how it works and you are open to a conversation, please use the link below to schedule a chat for a day and time that works for you.
The customer survey email was short, but not so sweet:
“Customer, We want to ensure that you are satisfied with your recent service experience here at [Organization]. Please reply YES to confirm your satisfaction or give me a call if your expectations have not been met. Thank You, [Manager],[Organization].”
The subject line read, “Customer Satisfaction”
Like most of the.”Can you believe this?” messages I receive each week, this organization has an exemplary in-person customer experience, this message was delivered to a customer who had been loyal for years. The organization simply had a blindspot. It’s leadership was not aware of their digital conversations. When conducting business from a distance, during a global health crisis, this mistake could very well be fatal.
The message wasn't personalized, and they invited a call, but forgot to include a phone number. Chances are, the customer won't reply YES, they won't attempt to find the phone number, and worse, they quite likely won't return.
Social distancing has created an environment where digital communication has taken the lead over in-person conversations. It's become critical to building and maintaining customer relationships. It’s no longer enough to make a good impression in person, it must extend to your digital communications as well.
The major crime of the message above is it bore no relationship to the tone and content of a personal in-person conversation. Here's a quick test to learn if your organization is "Breaking the Law".
Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the center. Label the first column “In-person” and label the second column, “Remote”. In the first column make a list of your customer service practices like, “We greet customers by name.” or “We provide customers with all our contact information".
In the second column, jot down your corresponding digital practice. If your organization uses an automated system, ask your IT department to print out the customer service email templates. Review the content and use this as an opportunity for change.
Don’t stop there. If your organization uses text messaging, review your text message templates. If you use voicemail for customer updates, document the scripts your people use to communicate with your valued customers.
Digital communication technology allows your organization to extend its reach, communicate faster, and maintain a better relationships with those you serve best. Don't let automated systems destroy the personal touch.
Social distancing will continue to be an obstacle to business operations in the future. Use your digital tools as an opportunity to maintain your valuable relationships with your loyal customers for all your conversations.
The necessity of working from a distance has increased the importance of using email to communicate with clients, vendors, and prospects. Delivering the right message to the right person at the right time is crucial to your future success. The challenge we face is the vendors who deliver our email have built walls in an effort to block spam.
Unfortunately, their efforts may be blocking your email communications. While recently on an online marketing assignment, I worked with Robin Smith, an Infusionsoft Partner, and email delivery expert. Here’s what I learned about getting email delivered.
You want your messages to arrive in your recipient’s inbox instead of the Spam or Promotions folder. How else will they discover and open your message? How else can they respond than by clicking or tapping on your Call To Action (CTA) link?
The vendors who deliver your email are:
The vendors use different protocols. Unfortunately, each with their own acronyms.
DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) is a method to validate the authenticity of email messages. When each email is sent, it is signed using a PRIVATE key and then validated on the receiving mail server (or ISP) using a PUBLIC key published in your website’s DNS record. This process verifies that the message body was not altered during transit, thus vouching for its authenticity.
SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is a different method that verifies the hidden envelope address. Think of it as the return address on a physical envelope.
DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) is an attempt to make the first two protocols easy to explain, use, and manage.
If this feels complicated or even daunting, you are right. We were lucky to have Robin help us make sense of all the acronyms. If getting your valuable messages delivered, read, and acted upon is important to you, here is my best advice.
Before you jump into setting up either DKIM or SPF, use the resources below to learn more about the topic. As Robin suggested “Start by checking with your domain registrar. The protocols may already be in place. Setting them up twice could do more harm than good.”
If you determine you need to take action, seek out the experts. We used the free tools available from MXToolbox.com to confirm the status of our DKIM signature and SPF records.
I believe email will continue to play an important role in building business relationships through digital conversations. Call me at 904-566-8325 with your questions.
I'm pleased to announce the addition of Top Producer and BoomTown to the list of over a dozen CRM platforms I support. I have documented the support resources for each platform. I am building Playlists and publishing Knowledge Hub articles so Realtors can leverage these platforms for Real Estate success.
Don't see your platform? Schedule a phone call to let me know.
According to a study by C5 Insight over 30% of CRM onboarding projects fail. In their report, CPR for CRM: The Elusive Path to Profitable Customer Relationship Management, the researchers were surprised to learn that 2nd and 3rd-time implementations fail at nearly the same rate. What's most remarkable is that this statistic has not changed in the 5-years since this report was published. What I find astounding, is that organizations continue to pay subscription fees for software platforms that don't work and cripple their team's productivity. It is a real train wreck. If you are responsible for the sales performance of your organization, there is a solution, onboarding.
Onboarding is nothing more than getting started on the right foot with your new Contact Relationship Management (CRM) platform. While the process works best when launching a new platform, here at Leverage Unlimited our experience indicates an onboarding project can be effective no matter how long your platform has been in operation. According to the C5 Insight report, "Many businesses fall into the trap of believing the marketing hype about CRM – that choosing the right technology alone will alleviate the risk of failure." If you are a business professional who wants a CRM platform that works, here are some ideas you can use to create immediate success.
If Onboarding is the vehicle, then tools, techniques, and talents are the path to success. Organizations often get tired or run out of money once they have acquired a CRM platform (Tools). You have to keep going. Techniques are the written procedures and the path of engagement organizations use to move the sales process forward. Here are some ideas you can use to get on board the CRM success train.
Tool Configuration - Modern CRM platforms use the leverage of the cloud to connect the digital dots between systems. Start by completing your CRM platform configuration process. Focus on connecting your CRM with your existing calendar and communications accounts.
Sales Technique - Put down on paper the process your team uses to generate new sales. Use the list to identify which of the top features of your CRM are most critical to your immediate success. Prioritize and pursue a process to bring on board only the top three features you find most valuable. If you prospect by email, focus on connecting email accounts and creating email templates your team can put to use immediately. In most CRM Platforms "feature abundance" is the enemy. Avoid the temptation to put all the features of your platform into play at once.
Develop Talent - Accept that during the onboarding process, productivity will suffer. Deal with it. Most importantly, help your team deal with it. Once you have the right tools in place and you have a process and an onboarding plan, use it to develop the skills of your team. Allow them to focus on learning how the functions that make them successful. They won't let you down, I promise.
Change requires sacrifice, sometimes even failure. Increasing the velocity of your onboarding effort starts with creating momentum. Celebrating success however small pulls your team forward. It eliminates the need to get out and push the train down the track.
I do CRM
Here at CRM Success Club, I have the experience and expertise to make your CRM onboarding a success. Call Jerry at 904-566-8325 to tell us how we can be of service.
What I am most excited about today.
Specifically, your 2020 vision. Not your eyesight, I'm talking about your vision for the coming year. Summer is over with many fond memories, but only in your rearview mirror. It's time to turn your gaze to the road ahead, and where you want to be as we ring in the new year. In the last 30 days, a number of my clients have shared new ideas for products and services they intend to roll out as we say goodbye to 2019. The ideas are all new. However, the audience is not. They intend to reconnect with their former clients.
What I find most interesting is these new offerings are not going to their entire roster, but only to those clients they serve best. As a group, they are larger, more successful, and most importantly, loyal. So my question for you this week is this. What effect would it have on your business if you had not one, but a handful of the very best clients you have ever worked with? What if you could share what is new, with only those clients who are tried and true?
Have you ever thought about the one that got away? The client you worked with so well that you almost knew what they were thinking before they asked for your help? What effect would it have on your business, your revenue, and your bottom line if you worked with them again? And not just one, what if you had a half dozen of them? If you long to return to a time when your business was thriving, everything was working, everyone was smiling, here's how to execute the Art of the Reconnect.
Start with a blank sheet of copy paper. Write today's date in the top corner. Across the top, centered and in big bold lettering write, The Client I Serve Best. Write their name below the title and add all the reasons they were the best. Financial, relationship, collaboration, innovation, everything about them that made them your perfect client. Congratulations, you now have a template of your very best client. It's time to go and find some more.
Using your best client template as a checklist, search online for those who fit your profile. Depending on your industry and business model, you may find a handful or an entire community. Add the top candidates to your CRM (Contact Relationship Management) platform. Start by gathering who they are, and most importantly, what they need. All you need are three things. Who to contact, their contact information, a few questions to ask.
The questions come from your research. In my experience, my clients already know the biggest challenges facing their clients. It's simply a question as to which challenge keeps your prospect awake at night. Gather your research, formulate your questions, and consider how you would go about solving their challenge.
Don't even think of sending an email. And don't expect to connect live with your prospect. Compose three, thirty-second messages you can leave as voicemails. There are plenty of sales prospecting guides that outline the perfect message. For my clients, it was as simple as sharing those new ideas, insights and inspirations I told you about at the beginning. They started with a list of former clients, then connected with them to share what was new. All you need is three calls a day, everyday, for 30 days. Ninety contacts in one month. How hard can it be?
"Inch by Inch, Life is a Cinch" - Jerry Gitchel
"Inch by Inch, Life is a Cinch" - Jerry Gitchel
I use a CRM that allows me to identify the right prospects so I can send the right message at the right time. On Wednesday, January 15th, I'm conducting a Lunch-n-Learn called, The Art of Digital Leverage. Visit the Events page to learn more about how you can sharpen your 2020 vision. It's free, seating is limited. Reserve your seat now.
The Art of Digital LeverageWed. January 15th
11:45 1:00 pm
6271 St Augustine Rd #7
Jacksonville, Florida 32217
All too often, Contact Relationship Management (CRM) platforms are chosen because someone said "It's the Best". What you really need is a platform that gives you the best fit. If the only thing you dread more than using your current CRM is evaluating a replacement, here are 5 simple steps to success.
Every vendor believes their CRM is the best. It's your job to learn if it's the best fit. Make a list of your needs. Start by listing the functions you must-have to be successful, the "showstoppers". Expand your list to include good to have, including functions you can grow into. Finish with the nice to have items. Stop before you throw in the kitchen sink. Including features, you don't need and won't use increases both the cost and user confusion. Use this list to pick a likely CRM platform candidate(s).
All CRM Platforms offer a timed demo you can use to "try-before-you-buy". Typically 14-days in duration, it would seem to give you plenty of time. Unless you wait until day 13. Before you launch your trial account, create an evaluation plan of attack. Use the list of needs from step 1. Allow those who will use the platform to take it for a spin. Include those who will pay for it and those who will play with it. If the platform you're considering has a customer portal, include them on your eval team. If at any point the platform fails a show-stopper task. Stop the show!. Create a written record of all your results and impressions.
Modern CRM platforms connect with external platforms to extend their functionality. Evaluate their performance by connecting all the dots. The second element of connection is a confirmation of a platform's device independence. Which devices need to be supported? Most CRM platforms employ different desktop and mobile applications. Confirm the list of available features works in both versions.
Users are justifiably terrified their valuable contact information will be lost. Accept proof, not just vendor assurances concerning data security and integrity by performing s scaled-down export/import test between the current and proposed systems.
Getting your users trained and up to speed with the new system is called on-boarding. Pay close attention to the impressions and feedback from your users during your evaluation. Studies have shown that CRM onboarding fails 70% on the first try. It doesn't get much better on the 2nd or 3rd try. Modern CRM platforms are designed (the User Interface or UI) to be easy to use. Go beyond the sales literature to get a clear indication of how the User Experience (UE) differs from your current CRM. Expect productivity to suffer in the short term. Keep in mind that training doesn't stop at the end of onboarding. Budget for ongoing training as well as new hires. Evaluate the available resources from the vendor, including customer support, knowledgebase, and something we are just now learning about, called "training playlists", a collection of resources that connect the dots beyond simple 'How-Tos".
The best fit CRM platform is one that fits your team and your clients.
Direct: +1 (904) 566-8325