Nobody Ever Asked Me for Them Before

Alan J. Zell
Alan J. Zell

Here’s a contribution from Alan J. Zell of Portland, Oregon, known as the “Ambassador of Sales.”

Bill, your article on Business Knowhow–“Top 10 things Customers Don’t Want to Hear”–reminded me of an incident that happened when I was in our family’s jewelry business.

My uncle, Dan Zell, was well versed in watches and was on a constant lookout for both men’s and ladies’ watches with full-figure dials with a second-track — all numbers, no sticks or roman numbers– because both doctors and nurses needed them when taking pulses.

One day the Omega watch sales manager was making his “I gotta get more business from our accounts” trip about the country. When he opened his case of watches, there were not any with full figure dials. Dan asked him if he had any in the line or could put such dials on any of the models upon which, the sales manager said, ‘Nobody ever asked me for them before.”

At that Dan replied, “Thank you for calling me a nobody.” and asked him to close up his case and leave.

Besides all of us having a good laugh at his expense, I learned as a young businessman never to say “Nobody ever asked. . . . ” Because of this and inputs from others, I developed a list of things me staff was to be on the lookout for and write them down and report them back to me–which are now in the articles “Business Calisthenics” on my web site. The first two “exercises” were to alleviate our staff responding to a question, “Nobody ever asked… . . ”

Thank you for helping bring back that memory to me.

And thanks to you, Alan, for your excellent contribution.

Alan’s Web site:

And to read my Business KnowHow article that prompted Alan to write me:

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Shine Bright Lights on Your Business

Jewelry stores shine bright lights on their business. Take a look at this one on Grand Cayman:

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Think about it–ever been in a jewelry store where the lighting was dim, and you could barely find your way around? That’s highly unlikely.

Same goes for car dealerships. Visualize a dealership showroom. Notice how the ceiling spotlights make the cars look as new as they really are.

This leads me to a question: How well are you spotlighting your business?

Consider these four suggestions for illuminating who you are and what you offer:

1. Display testimonials from satisfied clients

In the year (or by now it seems like years) of an American presidential race, we get constant reminders of the power of highly credible endorsements. A news headline declaring that a prominent person “has thrown his support to. . .” catches attention and sways votes. Candidates boost their credibility by relying on the credibility of respected leaders.

What’s true in politics is true in business. Whenever a person of integrity says publically that you are the “go to” business, you’ll experience a spike in sales.

How do you get testimonials? You ask for them:

*Face-to-face. At the restaurant you operate, Jack tells you “that new item on the menu is delicious.” Have a “Customer Comment Card” you can hand Jack, as you say, “Jack, will you please write that comment down and sign your name, giving me permission to share your opinion with others?”
*On your company blog
*On your Web site
*In surveys mailed to customers
*In personal (not recorded) phone calls, placed by a well-known company official

Fortunately, some clients still write complimentary notes and letters. Now all you have to do is ask their permission to reprint their unprompted support statement.

In our age of advanced technology, I urge you to arrange brief video interviews with your most articulate customers. While written kudos still carry impact, think how much more even a two-minute video compliment jet-propels your product or service. The content is simple. An interviewer begins, “Barbara, you have made your business travel arrangements through our agency for fifteen years. Please take a minute or two to tell us what advantages our agents have provided for you.”

2. Participate in your community’s most reputable causes

People prefer to do business with individuals and corporations who support their community. Possibilities for volunteer involvement:

* United Way fund raising
*Your local hospital’s auxiliary
*Serve on the board of a local college
*Coach a Little League team
*Attend Chamber of Commerce functions
*Affiliate with a civic club, and accept a committee assignment
*Enjoy breakfast or lunch where “movers and shakers” gather

One important caution: Your involvement in community organizations and events must combine your quest for publicity with a genuine, heartfelt desire to help others. Hollywood has laughed about the statement, “Sincerity is vital, and we’ll get by as long as we can fake sincerity.” That shallow approach doesn’t work outside of Tinseltown. Most of us can spot hypocrites quickly.

So a relevant tip: In selecting where you are going to devote your volunteer time and dollars, choose only the groups you are enthusiastic about.

3. Select, train. and keep Ambassadors, not merely employees

Herb Kelleher, the man who made Southwest Airlines famous, said: “Southwest’s communication–its message–is its people. Southwest has 25,000 employees spreading the word as missionaries.”

Wow, that’s powerful stuff. Kelleher prompts me to ask, “Are your employees your missionaries?”

Truly, putting this bright light in place is a three step process:

*Select only those who will represent you well
*Train them constantly, to keep their dedication and skills at the highest level
*Keep only those who display a missionary-level zeal, and reward them appropriately

4. Remain on the lookout for better spotlights

Imagine this: If a jewelry store owner heard about a lighting system that would replace the current system and make the showcases 25% brighter, you can be sure she would write a check for the new system right away. There are numerous books, CDS, and videos available to help you spotlight your business more effectively.

Read this review I wrote today about Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid:

Also, sign up for my year-round Online Coaching Program:

NOTE: Wherever you live in the world, you will get all the advantages of this Internet-based coaching program.