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Thursday, September 15, 2011
Volume 17 | # 392
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The one important thing that I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. » Margot Fonteyn

A Lot on Their Minds

I've been sharing one of my favorite quotes while making a certain point to groups recently. The quote, credited to Eleanor Roosevelt, is, "You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do."

It's not likely Mrs. Roosevelt was giving sales advice. But I'd suggest that her theory is germane to our jobs.

I've sometimes asked folks to imagine listing the 10 most important things in their lives right now and keeping those lists in their pockets.

If you then reviewed your own list at the end of any given week, there'd be items on it that you had given little or no thought to that week. And this is your own Top 10 list!

It's not that the ignored items are unimportant. We simply have more things vying for our attention daily than we have time to process.

I half-joke with folks in sales positions that they need to learn not to take things too personally. Lots of folks get discouraged when a customer expresses initial interest in a product or service then fails to act upon those stated interests.

I advise it's not necessarily that he "changed" his mind. It's that his mind is simply on something else now.

Folks have these things called "lives", and they tend to take up a lot of our time and attention.

Too many folks seem to believe that once they've explained a product or service and asked for the business, a customer keeps them in their mental Rolodex and continues to reflect upon the proposition. When that customer is ready to decide, surely you'll be first on his mind. Right?

Uh… no.

The fact is that the last person (business) to communicate with the customer is most likely to be the one on their mind.

There is a natural tendency to think that continuing to follow-up with potential customers can come across as "pressuring." And sure, overly-aggressive follow-ups can do more harm than good.

But handled properly and respectfully, following-up with a customer shows that his business is important to you, and your interest hasn't waned. In an increasingly commoditized world, that small extra effort is often an effective differentiator.

Whether it’s a follow-up phone call, email, or face-to-face chat, make sure that your prospects know that they are on your mind, even if you've (understandably) not been on theirs.

Constructive Relationships

After putting it off for years, we decided to have our kitchen remodeled. While we were at it, we then decided to have the floors on our first level changed and the walls painted.

Hey, if you're going to live in a construction site for a while, go all in.

My wife and I have had less-than-pleasant experiences with contractors over the years. This time, we took a chance on a company that had done work for our friends years ago. The owner's name is Ziad and he is quite a character.

As almost every contractor relationship I've had in the past was unpleasant, I figured I'd change strategies this time. When we gave Ziad the project, I offered him a deal. I said, "I won't treat you like a crook if you don't treat me like an idiot."

He laughed loudly and said, "You and I are going to get along."

I made a point of not calling out each and every minor thing that wasn't quite right during the 3-week project. Instead, I specifically mentioned things that they were doing that we liked. I complimented them on how they got to work on time in the morning, the nice little touches they made that we hadn't expected, and their attention to detail.

The more I complimented, the more time Ziad personally spent on the job. After a few days, one of his crew commented, "Man, the boss is sure on this job more than usual."

When the project was near completion, I began mentioning small items that didn't seem to "do justice" to the rest of their work.

Ziad seemed downright happy to make them right. One problem would involve tearing out installed granite. When I told him that it wouldn't be necessary, he laughed, "We should have caught this. I promised not to treat you like an idiot. You'd be an idiot if you accepted this kind of work from me." I think that was a joke.

In the end, a type of relationship that had always been confrontational was pleasant. I was reminded that people have a tendency to act in the manner in which you treat them.

And when someone sees you take note of what they do right, he is more open to listening and giving your comments consideration when something is wrong.

Tom Peters once wisely said, "Celebrate what you want to see more of." What recent gestures or actions of your customers, employees, peers, and (yes) supervisors would you like to see more of? Praise them for it, and you likely will.

Look to be treated by others as you have treated others." » Publius Syrus

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