~by Robert Fulgham~
All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten. ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School.
These are the things I learned:
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup:
The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die.
So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.
Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Take any of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.
Think what a better world it would be if all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put thing back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
This exercise is a great way to pause, be mindful, reflect, and take action. We use the Start/Stop/Continue method to discuss processes, values and behaviors at work. I initially thought that it was corny but have learned to embraced it for its simplicity and results and now even apply it to my personal life. It’s very useful for creating respectful, honest and meaningful communication in group meetings.
Choose a topic, behavior, situation, or subject for discussion, e.g. Sales Support, Customer Communication, Being Respectful, etc. and then follow the next three steps:
Step 1. START - List things/behaviors that would be beneficial to START doing.
Step 2. STOP - List things/behaviors being done that that are not working (I/we should STOP doing them).
Step 3. CONTINUE - List things/behaviors currently done that should CONTINUE being done.
It’s that simple! For groups, you can use a whiteboard with the 3 headers (Start/Stop/Continue) on three separate blank sections and fill in the sections together, or dedicate 3 separate flip charts for each discussion topic. You may want to start with a particular section (recommended) or you can jump back and forth depending on what thoughts come to mind. You may also want to break a large group into 3 subgroups with each smaller group tackling one section and then have all three subgroups share their work in a final wrap-up discussion.
Here’s my (short) example reflecting on my role as a Husband (I am definitely a work in progress):
As I said, the technique seems rather simplistic but it is proven and works. A worksheet with instructions is available here for download.
One of my most enlightening experiences was a promotional campaign to sell software upgrades. Typically, we would promote the software features and benefits, the ROI and payback period, and then mention the special discounted prices of the software upgrade ($2,000 US) and the required hardware ($1,000 US) or promote a special discounted package price of $3,000 US. The CEO suggested repackaging the offer: “Get $2,000 of software free!” as the header…with mention of the required purchase of the hardware at $3,000. The responses were at least ten times greater compared with earlier, more conventional campaigns.
People like free things. We see this concept everywhere, e.g., "free appetizer with a regular priced dinner"..."we'll give you the widget for free - just pay for the (over-inflated) shipping & handling".
Another study compared selling a product with discounts vs. BOGO (Buy One, Get One):
1) Buy Item X at 50% Off
2) Buy Item X at Half Off
3) Buy One, Get One Free
“Buy One, Get One Free” (even at full price) will, invariably, have the best buyer response. In fact, I've seen some unscrupulous supermarkets double the regular price on items for "Buy One get One Free" sales. Why does it work even in such cases? This is because, while we believe we are rational creatures, we also buy based on emotion and instincts.
I’m been studying the fascinating work of Professor Dan Ariely who was the professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke and now at MIT. Dan gave the above example and the free product with the $5.00 shipping cost had the best conversion rate. His book, Predictably Irrational, devoted a chapter to “The Cost of Zero” which is summarized in his talk below.
You can tell an experienced product or business manager from an inexperienced one based on his/her thoughts about the “Customer is King”. The inexperienced, but well-intentioned, product manager will add statements such as "be at their beck and call...do everything to make them happy, etc." The fact is that, as in real life, there are good kings and bad kings. You wouldn’t want a king who makes your life miserable, makes unreasonable demands, or won’t pay you fully for your work or goods.
"Bad" Customers Exist
In business, there are good orders - and bad orders or customers whom you should not accept or should treat differently. Are you sacrificing time and resources on high maintenance, low/zero profit customers instead of focusing on your higher profit, loyal customer base? You should always consider whether to decline unreasonable terms and conditions. I’ve heard of demands for free software upgrades for life, 24 hour on-site response time to a secluded location without compensation, etc. You normally do not add a standard feature for only one user that would ruin the user experience and product for all other users. A prospect or buyer has every right, and perhaps an obligation, to make such demands. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s possible, reasonable, and mutually beneficial – and weigh the merits or costs.
The Promised Land of Milk, Honey, and Repeat Orders
You must also be vigilant of the prospect who dangles the promise of multiple repeat orders in the future based on you providing free upfront services, e.g. free testing/consulting, or making a sizeable product investment with no initial return. Unfortunately, some customers outright lie or don’t have real control or authority over expenditures. (Note that free testing or consulting can sometimes be an excellent sales vehicle. You just don’t want to be taken advantage of since it is not free to you. A possible alternative would be to charge for the testing or consulting and have the fee deducted after the order is placed.)
"Prospects" Who Always Ask for Quotes but Never Buy
Similar, you have the situation of customers loyal to a competitor but always asking you for a quote when it’s time for another purchase. They do this to keep the competitor on their toes and keep their quote price low. You end up like the boy who always gets used by the girl but never gets to go out with her (you’ll always be like a brother to her). The best way to react to such a “customer” is to be blunt about the past history and tell them that you will not invest valuable time and resources to provide a quote for such purposes or that you will give them a low effort, low price quote (that you will not honor) just to let them haggle with the competitor. I have seen prospects acknowledge the past history, explain why the current situation is different, tell us what we had to do to break into the account, and then actually make a purchase!
(These tactics are sometimes difficult for Sales because they don’t like to walk away from any possible sale. This may also not be applicable if circumstances have indeed changed, e.g. a new player at the company, disenchantment with the competitor, etc.)
Serve Your Customer - Just Don't Blindly Serve
Business is a reciprocal partnership and no business should lose money from an order unless for a strategic purpose. The customer is indeed King. Just choose your kings wisely.
Frank Lio is a Product Manager, Strategist, and Change Agent in the Hi-Tech industry. His growing track record of successes include creating 3 winning software products, leading nationwide seminars, and turning around a failing business unit. He is currently serving a dual role as Product Manager and Business Team Support Manager at Instron ITW.
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