How Generosity Is Making Your Business a Better Place

Many business owners wonder if generosity is a smart business decision. There is an ongoing debate about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for business. CSR is usually associated with big companies. Regardless of the size, your business can incorporate CSR in its business model. It is an act of generosity. Companies embrace social responsibility not only for the benefit of the community in which they operate but also for the benefit of the company. Going above and beyond what the law requires is an act of generosity. Companies can help alleviate social problems and enhance communities. If small to medium size companies (the ones with up to 1,000 employees) leave all the social responsibility to the BIG companies, we are missing many opportunities to get things done. Consider that 70% of the work force is in a company of up to 1,000 employees. Here are 7 ways that a business of any size can implement social responsibility: Recycle. Save waste from the landfill by recycling paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, ink cartridges, batteries, glass, plastic, and electronics. Provide reusable shopping bags imprinted with your company logo to your customers. Reduce your carbon footprint. Lower thermostats in the winter and raise them in the summer. Use CFL light bulbs. Turn off lights in spaces that are unoccupied. Shop locally. Support the local community. Volunteer, especially where you can offer your expertise. Teach financial literary [accounting professionals] or build a home [construction professionals] as examples. In return, strong communities are able to support local businesses. Create good work environments. Provide flexibility for working parents. Foster collaboration not competition internally. This creates a feeling...

5 Selling Tricks Guaranteed to Repel Sales

In many cases, sales have a bad reputation. You know the snake oil peddler and the used car salesman. The emphasis is not solving a customer’s problem but rather making a sale. Repel sales with these 5 selling tricks: 1. Use deception to get an appointment or make a sale. Even though you succeed, what is the customer’s residual feeling? If long-term relationships are of no value, this is a good selling technique. If you do not appreciate referrals, this is the way to sell. I answered a knock on the door. The man on the porch introduced himself; his family had been selling firewood for generations. “Yes, the wood is seasoned.” When I paid him, I thanked him for selling me his load of seasoned wood. With a tip of his hat and a slight grin, he climbed into his truck. Did you know seasoned wood has small green leaves? 2. Do most of the talking with a prospect or customer. Tell him why your product has the best features before you know anything about his interests. Observe your next networking event. As someone thrusts a business card into your hand, listen to him tell you all about his product or service. As an afterthought, he asks what you do and half listens as he looks over your shoulder to find his next target. 3. Push a customer into a buying decision. When pushed into a corner to make a purchase, people feel manipulated. It has a high rate of backfiring.  The last time I shopped for a new car I was dealing with an inexperienced salesman who...

Your Behavior Reveals Your Values

Companies frequently state integrity as one of their values in doing business. Sounds good but what does it really mean? Merriam-Webster defines integrity, a noun, as the following: Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. The state of being unimpaired; soundness. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness. It is impossible to adhere to something that you have not identified.  Nice, high-minded words sound good.  We expect that from companies that get our business. The better question may be more like what do they value?  Really value. Consider the non-negotiable, core values for your company. Do safety, profitability, reliable products, fun, and happy customers make the list, for example? Careful that you keep your core values to a small list of 2 – 3, not a laundry list. It is important for all the values align with each other. Unless they are aligned, achieving one diminishes another.  For example, valuing profitability is admirable.  Without profits, you will not be in business for long to provide a product or service to make your customers happy–to say nothing of gainful employment for your people.  However, to sacrifice safety for profitability is very costly.  Knowing safety is taking a back seat to profits would not make the company a very fun place to work. A list of 2 -3-core values makes it easy to understand them and to identify when behavior and values align.  Patrick Lencioni author of The Advantage [2012] says that core values are apparent when they are an inherent and natural trait that has been apparent in the organization for a long time.  Reminds...

Why the Big Deal About Values?

Defining the values of an organization is the conventional wisdom today.  Increasingly it is becoming more common for organizations to state values in their literature, collateral and marketing material.  However, are they living it? Does it confound when you have an experience that seems contrary to the stated values of an organization?  For example, “respect” appears frequently as a corporate value. Recently I received a parking ticket and decided to go pay the fine immediately.  As I waited at the window to hand over my money, I noticed some rules posted just above the window in the counter.  (I do not know if these are organizational values or something that the staff holds as important to them.).  One of the rules related to being respectful. I assumed that meant respectful of the staff that collects payments, keeps records and writes receipts.  After all, they do not issue the fines.  I was the only customer, probably the very first customer of the day.  While the staff conversed amongst themselves behind the window, they completely ignored me.  Finally, without saying a word to me, the clerk took my money, updated the records and gave me a receipt.  The transaction took only a couple of minutes.  As I made my way to the door, I concluded that respect goes both ways. How do the experts define “value”?  Random House says value is “attributed or relative worth, merit, or usefulness.”  The optimum scenario is when people working in an organization have personal values that align with the values of the organization.  You can do your best work together and you can serve your...

Happy Customers Are Your Best Marketeers

Remember the Girl Scout classic, “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” Applied to business, classic winning strategies are 1) to attract new business and 2) to keep happy customers. Offer what your prospect needs and what you can deliver profitably. Ask questions and listen carefully to your customers and prospects. Be where your best prospects can find you. Do you write articles in the publications that your prospects read? Do you attend professional and trade gatherings where your prospects go for information, education and fellowship? Speak your customers’ language. Show that you understand the problem and that you have the solution. Your customers and prospects do business with you because you have a solution that they need. Attracting customers in one thing. Keeping them is another. Your customers expect excellent services and products. They don’t care how you do it. Deliver excellence consistently and your customers willingly pay for it. Go beyond what your customers expect. I recall having some work on my car at the local dealership. As I was preparing to leave, I realized I had some correspondence that I wanted to mail. As I past the receptionist’s desk, I noticed a stack of outgoing mail and asked if I could add mine to it. To my amazement, she said, “No. We don’t accept other people’s mail.” Apparently, it also stunned the sales manager because he quickly took my mail and said how totally pleased he was to mail it for me. Bet the conversation between him and the receptionist was interesting. Be innovative and look for ways to...