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Taking Another Point of View – What Do Your Customers Really Want?

By Amanda on January 10, 2010 | Category: Blog,Creative Thinking and Problem Solving Tools,Customer Relationship Management | Tags: business marketing, customer needs, perceptual positions | No Comments

Really understanding other perspectives is  vital for business owners and directors – actually, for all of us in all areas of our lives. At Gearing Up we combine  coaching and mentoring so we develop people’s self awareness and interpersonal skills, as well as solving business issues and transferring business management skills.

Taking another point of view is a very useful skill that can give you important insights into other people and situations. It can be a really effective way of helping to understand where your customers are coming from which is central to marketing that drives growth. It also works for team building, improving productivity – or any other situation involving human relationships.

Can you immediately see all the angles of a problem?

Do you really understand your customers’ wants?

Do you easily understand where your staff and colleagues are coming from?

How well do you relate to someone who operates very differently from you?

We often find that lack of real understanding of customers’ perspectives and points of view can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of clients’ sales and marketing. It sometimes takes a 180° switch to really ‘get’ what customers’ want – and then be able to deliver it.

What’s it about?
Often a person in a situation cannot see answers and perspectives that the other person has, or a person standing outside can. By moving between different perceptual positions (that is, different viewpoints), you can see a problem in new ways or with greater detachment, gathering more information and developing new choices of response.

The objective is to give you insights, gain deeper understanding and learning so you have more choice and flexibility – and you’ll get better results.

It’s a great life skill. Teaching it to others will enhance your relationships and yours’ and their performance.

• A strike looks very different from the viewpoint of a CEO, a worker, a customer and a supplier.
• Your children will have different perceptions of the importance of schoolwork vs. social activities
• You perceive a colleague as difficult and don’t work well with them
• You may see a problem in one way and your staff or colleagues see it completely differently – or not all.

• You think your customers are unreasonable

The technique
Step 1
(this is 1st position )
Start by considering an experience (from the past or future) from your own perspective. Get fully engaged. What do you see, hear and feel? How are you responding? What do you learn?

Now give yourself a little shake so you come out of that state.

Step 2 (this is 2nd position)
Now consider the same situation from the other person’s perspective. What do they feel? What are they thinking, what do they see, how are they responding? Again, get fully engaged; really get into their shoes. What do you learn?

Again give yourself a little shake so you come out of that state.

Step 3 (this is 3rd position)
Now consider the situation form the perspective of an impartial observer. What is going on? What are the dynamics of the people and situation? What do you learn?

Again give yourself a little shake so you come out of that state.

Step 4 Review your learning – apply to a future event
What did you learn? What can do (will you) do differently now?

You can go through the exercise again and run a future scenario when you will act differently. Notice how this feels and what results you get.

When you are first learning this technique it helps to physically move position as you explore.

1st position is you associated into your viewpoint

2nd position is the other person (or group), again associated, and

3rd position is the observer – a Meta position – above, detached, slightly more remote.

Moving around a triangle, and taking on the physiologies of the people (how they stand and sit, the language they use etc) really helps.

Practical Examples

1 You are preparing a tender or a presentation.
You need to gain more understanding of what the client wants. Thinking through their position, their perspective, their wants, the language they use, what’s going on in their organisation (dynamics, politics, culture), the objectives of the project (what would represent success) helps you to prepare the tender/presentation with additional information and the ability to empathise with their needs.

If you can really understand what they’re looking for,  you can use their language, use a structure that will work for them, and you can match their wants more exactly.

2 A customer is continually squeezing you on price.
You feel resentful and undervalued. The observer position may tell you that your customer has got contracts with no headroom, a culture of bullying suppliers, and an attitude that they can find alternatives easily.

Second position may make you wonder if your immediate contact is being bullied by her boss to get results (i.e. screw down prices) but she needs continual supply so she is reluctant to do the extra work and take the risk in switching suppliers.

You have now the information (and the strategic viewpoint) to be able to have a different sort of negotiation on broader terms. For example, underwriting continuity and quality of supply in exchange for fixed pricing, or using some items as loss leaders in an agreement covering volume, product/service range and time frames.
You can then prepare the case from your customer’s point of view so your contact can make the case internally – you can help her look good with her boss and you get more worthwhile business.

The additional knowledge may help you in taking the decision that this is an area of the market or type of culture that you don’t want to work with – and then you can feed this information into your targeting of new customers as well as relationship building with existing customers.

3 Your boss or a colleague seems to have different views
So what are they? If you feel defensive, it’s hard to really get to understand where someone else is coming from. Work through the exercise – you might like to start with 3rd position if it’s a particularly stressful situation.

What do you learn? How do they really perceive you and what’s going on? What’s going on for you? What can you do differently, how can you behave differently that can help the situation?

Perceptual positions is an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and psychology term denoting that a complex system may look very different, and different information will be available, depending how you look at it and your point of view.

The idea of multiple perceptual positions in NLP was originally inspired by Gregory Bateson’s double description; that is double (or triple) descriptions are better than one description. By deliberately training yourself in moving between perceptual positions you can develop new choice of responses.

The founders of NLP modelled this from Virginia Satir, the renowned family therapist, who would guide a client to stand – literally – in everyone’s shoes, until they understood better others’ position and feelings in the matter.

Robert Dilts uses multiple perceptual positions in his Disney Creativity Strategy. In this work, based on his modelling of Walt Disney, he teaches people to examine a goal from the perception of the Dreamer, the Realist (the one who brings it into reality), and the Critic.

Perceptual Positions is a technique that allows us to have multiple perspectives in any situation so that we can have greater influence and be more flexible.

Technorati Tags: business marketing, customer needs, perceptual positions

“Most business DON’T work, the people who own them do” Michael Gerber

By Amanda on November 19, 2009 | Category: Blog,Marketing Planning | Tags: emyth, emyth revisited, managment systems, marketing systems | No Comments

A core thread that runs through much of our work with Directors and Business Owners is getting the business to work – developing better management systems and helping people to think and act more strategically, so more of the value can be transferred from the owner to the business.  Michael Gerber is the author of The E-Myth Revisited, which looks at small businesses and entrepreneurs – and why their businesses don’t work the way the owners would like them to.

This is his list of 10 reasons why most business fail:
1. Lack of management systems
2. Lack of vision, purpose or principles
3. Lack of financial planning and review
4. Over-dependence on specific individuals in the business
5. Poor market segmentation and/or strategy
6. Failure to establish and/or communicate company goals
7. Competition or lack of market knowledge
8. Inadequate capitalisation
9. Absence of standard quality programme
10. Owners concentrating on the technical and operational, rather than the strategic work at hand

emyth revisited

Are you a grease monkey?

Having worked with a very large number of businesses, I’d agree with him on all these points. The lack of systems, so that processes can be replicated, and number 4 the running of the business coming down to one person are the keys. And number 10 is where they go to hide.   They understand the technical because the owners are so often ‘grease monkeys.’ A long time ago, the wife of an MD I was working with described him as a ‘grease monkey’ because his entire focus was hands-on, and on the immediate problem.

I also remember numerous visits to one client who would proudly regale me with the triumphs of the week which revolved around all the problems he had solved. He was very puzzled at first when I suggested that things could be better if he didn’t have the problems in the first place – and got rid of the issues that caused them. We made significant improvements once we changed his focus on one-off problem solving.

This applies whatever business you are in – whether you make clocks, design buildings, sell property, design communications, run a restaurant, write software or sell carpets.

Business owners who just love the hands on day-to-day activity (or are caught in a perpetual fire-fight), find it hard to concentrate on developing the systems that prevent problems.

Gearing Up concentrates on helping business owners to create better strategies and systems, to get better market knowledge and to create a brand and products that lead to business growth and sustainability – and to better understand what is driving the business and the people who work in it.

This way business owners can create a successful business that will have real value – and are a whole lot more rewarding to run.

Technorati Tags: emyth, emyth revisited, managment systems, marketing systems

Marketing is About Building Relationships – so Keep in Touch

By Amanda on November 16, 2009 | Category: Blog,Customer Relationship Management | Tags: buiding relationships, business marketing, marketing, marketing systems | No Comments

Marketing is about building relationships.

Many MDs get caught up in the day-to-day and don’t make the most of contacts so having a list of things they can do easily, and putting in place a simple system to doing it, can work well in getting the KIT habit.

It also helps to think of it as sharing contact, rather than making contact – it’s about building and maintaining relationships that benefit both of you. This mindset can be very powerful and helps you to think of what would be helpful or beneficial to your contact, not just what you can get from them. Our clients who get this are invariably the more dynamic and successful businesses.

Make a point of contacting everyone you get a business card from at least twice (and preferably more)  – once just follow up and say hello or do whatever it is you agreed at the initial meeting, and the second time find something that would interest them. Of course you should also suggest they sign up to your blog or newsletter, follow you on Twitter etc. (and that message will be incorporated in your e-mail signature won’t it?) and you can link to them on Linked-In. You can include them in your mailings too of course. Start a conversation with an air of curiosity, grow your network – business relationships and meaningful referrals are built on the process of know, like and trust.

Don’t just stuff the card in a drawer – even if they are not a likely customer, they may come across people who are. It really is worth making this a habit, and keep spreading the word. We can help in building effective KIT systems – that not only make the process easier but also ensure you have the tools to monito the relative effectiveness of each channel and each initiative.

Technorati Tags: buiding relationships, business marketing, marketing, marketing systems

Get on the Front Page of Google With Articles

By Amanda on November 5, 2009 | Category: Blog,Online Marketing,Search Engine Optimisation | Tags: article marketing, article writing, articles, | No Comments

For any given keyword a very high proportion of traffic goes to the top websites, so if your site is not on the front page you’ll get much lower traffic.

There is a wide range of things you can do to optimise your site and to promote it, some of them simple and some of them best left to experts. We’ll be taking a look at some of the methods you can use – if you would like a comprehensive SEO service or some help with individual elements, do contact us.

The first method is below:

Write articles for

In recent research across 60,000 popular keywords, no less than 15% of them had an Ezine article in the top 10 listings.

So, get writing! The Ezine Articles website is very clear about how to write articles and how to add links to your product or website. Make good use of your keywords but let the writing flow, be interesting, demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.

Ezine articles are a good source of links and traffic

You win four ways:
1. Your article itself will be ranked in Google
2. You get links to your site, which Google likes
3. You get traffic from the article
4. You can send links to the article (or the article itself) to all your contacts.

Technorati Tags: article marketing, article writing, articles,

Customer Recruitment – It’s Down to Relationship Building

By Amanda on October 30, 2009 | Category: Blog,Customer Relationship Management | Tags: customer relationships, marketing, Sales | No Comments

Marketing and sales are a matching process – matching people’s and organisations’ needs and wants, with products and services.

We need to build relationships in order to buy – whether it’s with a brand, a company or a product. We need some familiarity, understanding and trust – we need to know

  • What the product or service is,
  • What it will do for us
  • Whether it’s the right choice

So when you first contact another company what you are doing is finding out whether there is a need for your services, and also whether the company fits your criteria for being a good customer.

If your fit with them is not good, or if they don’t meet your customer criteria – you move on. That’s simply feedback leading to an informed action.

If you can establish a fit, then you start to build a relationship.

What you are doing in that first contact is conducting research. You’re finding out what someone else’s needs are, then and only then, do you start to match their needs with what you can provide, if you’ve established there is a fit. And you are more likely to be able to engineer and present a good fit if you once you know what their needs are.

Selling first, then trying to build a relationship rarely works. It makes the other person defensive, it puts them at a disadvantage. How can you develop real understanding of other people’s needs when you’re intent on putting your own first? It’s much more powerful to be able to understand their needs first, and then match them with what you can provide.

Think about good relationships you have with friends and successful romantic relationships – the same rules apply. Successful relationships are built on reciprocity, on trust and respect, closeness and understanding. That doesn’t all happen on the first date!

Only 3% of sales happen on the first contact – and for many products and services it will be 0%. 80% of sales only happen at the fifth or subsequent contact. So where there’s a good mutual fit, you can move on from research to building solid relationships. Just like real life…

Technorati Tags: customer relationships, marketing, Sales

Powerful Presentations

By Amanda on October 23, 2009 | Category: Blog,Branding,Marketing Communications,Presentations | Tags: presentation skills, Presentations | No Comments

A lot of business owners are less than comfortable with giving presentations – and as this is such a key skill whether you’re across the table from a client, motivating your team or negotiating with suppliers, as well as when you’re in more formal presentation situations, I thought this video would be useful.

There’s a huge amount to learn in this video about powerful communication.  Steve Jobs is the consummate presenter and has access to great visuals and demos – so why not learn from one of the best and model what he does? The information is simple, direct and engaging. The speaker really connects with the audience because he really believe sin what he is were saying and just knows the audience will too. Many business owners are pretty passionate about what they do – and that can be very appealing, so it’s worth practising some powerful presentations yourself.

Yes, it is a highly sophisticated launch for the Apple 3G iPhone. And yes there is huge razzmatazz and big displays. But what comes across is not just the quality of the presentation, but the way the presenters communicate so clearly and enthusiastically. That’s what every business owner and key manager can learn – and it is a hugely important skill.

Also a good pointer for your website – this was recorded at the launch, and was featured on the Apple iPhone page – you too should be making multiple uses of any material you generate. Investing in some good visuals and video can pay off – and can be a very good brand builder.You can ditribute video via YouTube – and they can get ranked in Google, which will help your profile enormously.

Points I noted
It assumes we’re all on the same side – it’s not us and them
The whole presentation is structured from the audience’s point of view – what do we want to know (although it’s very clear also what Apple wants us to know…)

  • Each segment is clearly signposted – we know what to expect and it’s summarised.
  • Each segment is pared down so it emphasises the key points
  • It’s paced and broken down into small segments of a few minutes
  • It’s confident and enthusiastic – he believes what he’s saying
  • The delivery is conversational, almost one to one
  • All the claims are backed up with evidence/proof/demonstrations
  • The ‘show’ element is integrated with the ‘tell’
  • The visuals are very simple – and also highly sophisticated
  • The slides with words have VERY few words
  • When the presenters read from slides, it’s only for quotes and they emphasise the key points and bring the information to life
  • It is all rehearsed, so it works seamlessly – important for formal presentations and can be useful so you’re better prepared in informal situations
  • Notice the pace – packed with information, but with measured delivery and with pauses
  • There is techie language and use of acronyms which is a good match for the audience

Now apply the lessons to your presentations! And I’ll have a go here too….

Technorati Tags: presentation skills, Presentations