09 Feb

The How of Heart

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Sharon-Drew Morgen

Collaboration. Empowerment. Win/Win. Integrity. Authenticity. We’re finally recognizing the efficacy of acting with humanitarian values! But how do we DO it? How do we know when, or if, to change our comfortable communication patterns? How do we modify any unconscious behaviors to make new habitual choices and recognize when what we’re doing no longer is sufficient?

WHY BEHAVIOR CHANGE ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH

DOing kindness, collaboration, and authenticity isn’t as easy as wishing it to happen. It takes a change in our behaviors; it means we have to change our habits and status quo. And that means we must do more than merely knowing we ‘should’. The problem is that our behaviors occur unconsciously and systemically, and won’t necessary accede to our desire to change. Here’s how it happens.

Our brains unconsciously choose our behaviors from our cache of lifelong subjective experience, values, and unconscious rules that forms our unique status quo. I call this our system – a well-oiled machine that keeps us ticking congruently every moment of the day. Our viewpoints, our styles, our behaviors are all pre-determined and habitual, and represent us consistently so we maintain our individual, unique systems (Systems Congruence) according to our own personal rules. I realize we all think we have unrestricted choice; we don’t. We follow our personal ‘company line’ in every action, every communication. We remain who we are in everything we do.

The problem arises when we wish to do anything different: our unconscious system will resist anything new because it is seen as a threat even if it’s something we’re nominally in agreement with. For any change to occur, our brains must first align the new with the old/habitual so we remain congruent. We know we should go to the gym more often, or eat healthy; we know we should allow our relatives to have disparate political viewpoints. But try as we might, we hard-pressed to permanently change our behaviors. This is the problem with conventional training and Self-Help books. We cannot change just because we seem to want to.

Why can’t we just DO something different? Because before we do, we must figure out a way to bring in the ‘new’ in a way that garners buy-in from the rest of our system so we can continue to be congruent. It’s a belief issue, not merely a behavior change problem. And our behaviors are merely the action, the outward manifestation, of our beliefs. The 400-pound man walking down the street will not heed an offer of a half-priced gym membership – not because he hasn’t looked in the mirror lately or because he’s ignoring his doctor’s warnings, but because his eating and lack of exercise are habitual and match the rules he’s already got in place: to make a permanent change, he’d have to ‘chunk up’ as they say in NLP, and go beyond the ‘What’ or the ‘Why’ to change his beliefs about who he is. He’d have to become a healthy person.

‘What’ to do is behavioral. ‘How’ is structural, systemic, and unconscious. Here’s an example of the difference: ZDNet has an article on transforming an organization on the principles of collaboration. They say it’s necessary to “Empower staff”: “To accomplish this goal it is important to train, support, and mentor staff to help them work more collaboratively. Staff must also practice their new collaboration skills back in the workplace so it becomes the new daily business and not just the latest management fad.”

Great. But HOW does one accomplish this? Everyone will interpret these words subjectively, according to their own beliefs about their skills. Obviously there can’t be organization-wide consistent adoption with just the What; information doesn’t cause change, and ‘What’ doesn’t address how to reconfigure our brain’s automatic choices. ‘How’ demands that we

  • add automatic unconscious choices to our habitual behaviors to comply with our new goals;
  • recognize the difference between what we think we’re doing and what we’re actually doing and notice there is a gap that prevents excellence;
  • install the change we seek without offending what’s been working well;
  • facilitate internal systemic buy-in to ensure our Status Quo is ready and able to change;
  • override habitual behavior choices and replace them with the new as appropriate;
  • maintain systems congruence.

It’s far more complicated than just understanding What to Do. It’s actually How to Be.

CHANGING BELIEFS CAUSES CHANGED BEHAVIORS

The problem with seeking to act with authenticity or empowerment, etc., is that we attempt to make behavioral changes without shifting the underlying system that holds our current behavioral choices in place. To enact any internal changes, to take on new habits or change behaviors, we must shift our core Identities and Beliefs, with new Behaviors the enactment of these shifts.

All of us have unique Identities; our Beliefs are the operating manuals; our Behaviors exhibit our Beliefs in action. Every day, in every way, we ACT who we ARE. I, for one, work out at the gym 9 hours a week. I hate it. But because I have determined that I AM a Healthy Person, I need my Behaviors to carry out my Identity accordingly: I eat healthy, exercise, and meditate. And on the days I would prefer to stay in bed, I ask myself if I’m a Healthy Person today and almost always, get my lazy self up and go to the gym.

This dependence on our Identities and Beliefs is foundational: we will do nothing – nothing – unless there is buy-in. When anything seeks to change us – when we receive training, or get told to ‘do’ something, or when coaches ‘suggest’ or sellers ‘recommend’ or leaders promote a new change – it shows up as a threat and will be resisted unless it’s accepted and adopted by our Identity and given a value set in our Beliefs. Once we ARE the change we seek, our new Behaviors will be natural and permanent.

To act with compassion, to have empathy, to lead with values, to design collaborative environments, we need a set of core Beliefs (I am a Kind Person; I Care About Collaboration With Colleagues) that get translated into new habitual choices; we need to inform our system to match the Doing to the new Being. We cannot congruently act the Doing if it’s incongruent with our Identity. It’s the most difficult aspect of change – creating consistent, habitual actions – because it’s unconscious, systemic, and resistant. It is possible, however, but not simple.

Working, speaking, acting with Heart is not behavioral. We must first Be the people with heart; Be kind, collaborative, authentic people. Organizations need to shift their corporate identities and manage behavioral adoption; we must become Servant Leaders and compassionate Leaders. We just need the Skills of How to accomplish this.

I’ve spent my life coding and designing models that create habitual, unconscious change. Although my work often shows up in the field of sales, it’s a generic model that is used by leaders, coaches, managers, doctors, and teachers, to lead Others (buyers, patients, clients, employees) through the necessary changes to shift their status quo congruently and embrace real change; it’s the ‘How’ of Excellence. After 35 years of teaching this material, I’m well aware of how difficult real change is. But if we begin by aspiring to Collaboration, Integrity, and Authenticity, we can become the change we seek.

_______________

Sharon Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions. More recently, Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? in which she has coded how we can hear others without bias or misunderstanding, and why there is a gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She is a trainer, consultant, speaker, and inventor, interested in integrity in all business communication. Her learning tools can be purchased: www.didihearyou.com. She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com 512 457 0246. www.didihearyou.comwww.sharondrewmorgen.com

 

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29 Jun

DOing vs. BEing: creating rules that put customers first

by Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew MorgenI recently purchased dysfunctional products/services from three vendors who were unwilling to go outside company rules to fix the problems they caused. How can we take part in the Trust Economy if our corporate rules preclude us from taking care of customers? Too often there’s a divergence between company rules and customer needs. I’ll use my vendor issues as a starting point:

  1. Wheaton International Movers. After researching a big cross-country move, I picked Wheaton. But it was a nightmare: their driver was drunk on both ends of the move; boxes were lost; an expensive sculpture was broken by their packer. Getting reimbursed was a 4-month nightmare: I was ignored, lied to, and finally only paid a fraction of what I deserved even though they accepted responsibility. I was regularly told: “Well, unfortunately Ms. Morgen, that would go against our rules.” No one ever apologized; I’m still missing a favorite painting and important office paperwork; my sculpture is gone.
  2. CVS online pharmacy. These folks sent a bottle with crushed pills. I fought for weeks to get the pills replaced but I was told I should send them the offending bottle first (the post office is in a different town). “I understand your concern, but we must operate according to company rules.” Rules before my health?
  3. Fitbit.  I purchased a broken Fitbit from an online vendor. Fitbit said they’d send a replacement I never received; the replacement from the online vendor was also broken. Reps at Fitbit actually said they received hundreds of calls a day about the problem but weren’t allowed to do anything about it until their ‘fix’ was ready. What?

As a consumer, I trust I’ll receive what I pay for, and be cared for if there’s a problem. Yet each company above took care of their rules before taking care of me. They put the DOing before the BEing.

RULES

When companies construct internal rules that are juxtaposed with customer needs they ignore the consequences

  • Without customers, there’s no need for rules.
  • Customer’s complaints go viral.
  • Hurting, cheating, disregarding, and ignoring customers always, always loses business.
  • For each customer who doesn’t feel fairly treated, companies lose unknown-hundreds of prospective clients for an uncertain time moving forward.

Too often companies confuse their rules [the DOing – regulations, results, performance] with a customer’s needs [the BEing – values, feelings, requirements]. Too many companies make it binary – company rules OR customer criteria – rather than Both/And. How do we design customer service scripts and training, how do we instill a primary focus on serving customers, to achieve Both/And and win/win?

The difference between DOing and BEing is Heart – heart, being one of those ‘soft’ ‘feminine’ words that assumes it’s not possible to make money and make nice (While training Buying Facilitation® at Morgan Stanley I heard they were conducting ‘closing’ training the following week. What? Why do you need both training programs? “Because BF is ‘soft’ and we need ‘hard’ skills to close.”). Isn’t it time to meld heart and head and DO-BE-DO-BE-DO? To make money AND make nice? All research shows the BEing is more profitable.

HOW TO PUT CUSTOMERS FIRST

There’s a way to put customers first AND take care of corporate rules. A few examples:

  1. Use an impossible customer request as a means to create a life-long partner.

“I hear you’d prefer if we were able to X. Unfortunately we aren’t able to do that, but we want you to be happy. Is there anything else I can do to get you what you deserve? Let’s see if we can get creative.”

Years ago while working with Bethlehem Steel during a trucker’s strike, I had my clients actually purchase steel retail from Pittsburg Steel to make sure Mazda wouldn’t have expensive downtime. We took the hit on cost to keep the customer happy. Well – to keep the customer!

  1. Use customer’s feelings to exhibit your dedication to them. During month 4 of my Wheaton ordeal, someone said “If you don’t stop shouting I’ll hang up on you!”  Seriously? The rep should have been taught to grow a pair and not take it personally:

“Wow. Sounds like you’re really upset. I can imagine how annoyed you must be. I’m so sorry.”

  1. Make sure each Rep owns the problem. Nothing makes customers more angry than having to call back again and again (and be on hold forever) to find someone to help them, or having to repeat repeat repeat the same complaint to each new Rep. Assign the first Rep to own the problem to resolution.

MAKING MONEY AND MAKING NICE

To operate effectively in this new world of connection, workarounds, visibility and competition, your main differentiator may be how you take care of employees and customers.

  1. Design company rules that put customers first. So, instead of ‘Send us the damaged pills first [so we can fix any internal problems here]’ it would be, “That prescription is important to your health. I’ll send you an entirely new bottle and include a return mailer so you can send the bad ones back at your convenience. I’m sorry.”
  2. Trust that customers aren’t your enemies: they pay your bills.
  3. If you broke it, it’s yours. If you send a bad bottle of pills, a bad Fitbit (twice), or break a sculpture, fix it easily. Don’t take your costs out on the customer.
  4. Make sure that every customer is happy by the end of each interaction. An unhappy, screaming customer cannot be passed on.
  5. Create a vision statement that includes the words ‘Customer Service’. So: We are a Customer Service company that designs CRM software.
  6. Employees are customers. Happy employees take care of customers. I’ve never heard of a company that’s loving, kind, and respectful to their employees and mean to their customers. It’s that BEing thing again. I want to share a story that embodies the Truth of this.

Years ago a client sent a new employee to one of my Buying Facilitation® public training programs to get him caught up with the team I already trained in-house. This man, call him Glen, was angry, rude, mean, and dismissive of everyone around him. I called my client: Who is this mean person? He’s making everyone cry. Why did you hire him? “Do whatever you have to do to break him. I hired him because he’s got potential.” So I went into action on Day 2 and facilitated Glen through the outcomes he was causing. On Day 3 he came to class like a saint – supportive of others, kind, gentle, fun. What happened? Here’s what he said:

Every day, I’ve had to leave my house for work and put my ‘mean’ suit on. I was told I had to convince prospects, push closes, bias discussions about our products to promote a sale. I hated it: I had to shift my personality to ‘Do’ this manipulative, insensitive person. I told myself I had to become a shark. I’ve been miserable and my family has suffered; I didn’t know any other way to keep my job except to follow their rules and be miserable. Now I’m learning it’s possible to make money AND make nice; now I can be my real self and do my job successfully.

As a testament to his change, he got a huge – huge – tattoo of a shark on his back the evening he had his realization. He came to class the next day with the tattoo stating “I’ve put the shark behind me.”

To determine if you need to rethink your rules, to be part of the Trust Economy, consider these questions:

How will you know that the rules you have in place are customer-centric? If you need several layers of customer service to handle angry customers, or you regularly read negative Tweets or Yelp comments about you, there’s a problem.

How can you tell if you’re putting employees first? High turnover might be an indication.

How often do customer problems get escalated? Have you trained every level of staff to seek win/win results?

If you put people first, how would your rules change? And what beliefs would you need to reconsider?

What skills do employees have to achieve win/win when a problem occurs? Remember the mythical customer service rule Nordstrom was famous for? “Use your best judgment.” Of course that changes your hiring criteria. So be it.

I realize regulations are necessary to run a company. But so are customers. It’s possible to do the DOing and the BEing in a way that promotes income and care. What’s stopping you?

_______________

Sharon Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions. More recently, Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? in which she has coded how we can hear others without bias or misunderstanding, and why there is a gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She is a trainer, consultant, speaker, and inventor, interested in integrity in all business communication. Her learning tools can be purchased: www.didihearyou.com. She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com 512 457 0246. www.didihearyou.comwww.sharondrewmorgen.com

 

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10 Jun

Content Marketing that Converts

by Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew Morgen“Content is king”. I’ve heard that phrase for years. But what does it mean? Does it mean that by offering thought-provoking, useful, creative information buyers will be motivated to contact you at the right time along their complete (including pre-sales) decision path? By sending out veiled advertising in the form of ‘articles’ to random email addresses you can convert readers to action? How is ‘conversion’ defined – opening the email? Making a purchase that can be directly tracked back to the email? Let’s look at the problems.

  1. Wrong Time: Content is useful only at the time it’s needed and won’t be opened otherwise, even if your solution is needed later. Even when offering options, research, or educational benefits, your content currently targets the activity of product/vendor selection; you miss key opportunities to enter earlier, during the buyer’s necessary pre-sales activities – assembling the correct Buying Decision Team members, sorting out change issues and responsibilities, getting consensus, etc. – to become a true trusted advisor and support partner. Imagine offering the type of content that drives buyers during every decision and pre-sales activity. Then you’ve part of the solution, every step of the way, as they approach a final purchase. And they trust you.
  2. Wrong People: You get a 1% (or less) conversion rate because your missive connects with only those whose email addresses you have and, even if they might eventually be part of a Buying Decision Team, who consider it spam. It’s possible to offer content that readers seek out because it’s vital to their path toward excellence.
  3. Wrong Focus: Content is often merely an ad vaguely concealed as an ‘article’. Buyers know this. It’s possible to use content to facilitate the non-solution-focused consensus and change issues readers must attend to as they ready themselves to make a purchase.

The way you’re doing it now

  • neither attracts nor retains a specific audience,
  • ignores ways to enter and influence buyers early in their pre-sales decisions,
  • doesn’t drive customer action unless they are at the specific point of readiness,
  • merely annoys.

You’re finding the low hanging fruit who would have found you anyway. Content marketing can help prospective buyers dispense suitable information 1. into the hands of the right people 2. at the time they need it while 3. coaching them to get their ducks in a row to move forward.

It’s possible to write content on important relevant topics that readers WANT to read – i.e. the pros and cons of concrete over glass for housing, or how we can hear others without bias – and will help them go from an idea to a purchase through linking to your site, reading and saving other articles, and using them to help traverse their action route.

CASE STUDY

I get anywhere from 40-51% conversion with my content marketing. My readers take action from my articles: click on linked articles or sites; download free books/chapters; buy a product; share/RT/Like daily. Here’s what I do:

  1. I write well-written, provocative, 750-word articles that may have little to do with my services or books specifically but are of real interest to that population who may ultimately be buyers. (You found the title interesting enough to read this far, right?) I offer links that tie in to my books /services: I’ve written about diversity, leadership, collaboration, questions. Yet my services focus on facilitating buying decisions and bias-free communication.
  2. I only send articles to subscribers, and Friends, LinkedIn, and 15 ezines,  such asHR.com, Sales and Service Excellence, StrategyDriven, who often publish them to vast readerships. (Sometimes 3 or more of my articles appear each week.)  I have 3 blogs that often get onto best lists, such as top innovative content, top sales blog, top business blog. Net, net, I’m getting large distribution in really targeted fashion: those folks most likely to read and potentially need my services/products. Sort-of ‘hot leads.’ No spam.
  3. Like you, I let social media splash my content to enable interested folks to find it and start conversations. I get many new subscribers and ‘friends’ weekly. My lists grow with interested folks. Daily, I get Thank You notes that begin conversations and sell products.

Questions:

  • Why would people open your content if they consider it spam?
  • How can you compose true thought pieces that people want to open?
  • How can you use your content to facilitate each stage of the pre-sales and buying decision path?
  • Seriously: are you willing to try something different to get a higher ‘conversion’ rate? Seriously.

What you’re doing now only converts the low hanging fruit. It’s possible to enter earlier by offering valuable intelligence that will encourage curiosity; introduce, explain and target the full set of decision stages; and keep your name topmost in buyer’s minds. You’re currently taking the lazy route: throwing spaghetti on the wall hoping enough of it will stick. Do you want to write? Or enable real business opportunities?

__________

Sharon Drew Morgen is a writer/author of one NYTimes Business Bestseller and two Amazon best sellers, 7 books on Buying Facilitation® and how buyers buy, and 1500 articles (www.sharondrewmorgen.com). She is a trainer, speaker, coach, thought leader, and content writer. Sharon Drew is also the visionary thinker behind What? – her new book on how to avoid the gaps between what people say and what is heard. (www.didihearyou.com for free download and online assessment tools). She can be reached at www.sharondrewmorgen.com.

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