Monthly Archives: December 2018

Know Your Outcome

Have you ever just jumped in the car and started driving, making decisions about turning right or turning left as you get to each intersection? Maybe you decide while on the road where you’ll stay at night…maybe you change your mind and decide to change course part way through your journey?

It can be incredibly fun to do that. You get to see a lot of new things, meet different kinds of people at each stop, and you can enjoy the adrenaline of not knowing what comes next. It can be carefree and even exciting! It’s a great thing to do when you’re young, or when you just feel the need for an adventure.

It is, however, a terrible way to manage a project to completion.  Project management requires knowing exactly where you are going, how you are going to get there, and when you anticipate completing it.

Leaving things up to luck, or to chance, will guarantee that you will not succeed and you will not reach your goals.

When you are managing projects, if you want to move your project/company/life forward you need to first know exactly where you are going. You cannot have a vague idea of where you’d like to end up, and you cannot make it up as you go.

You must take the time upfront to get exceptionally clear on what your outcome is.

Think of it this way. The most effective people in the world know exactly where they are going. They consider their goals, identify where they are, and design a very clear and specific path to get from point A to point B. They are known as being insanely focused, driven and often unreasonable about doing what it takes to get where they’re going.

And a large part of why they can be so driven, so intense is because they know exactly where they are going. This allows them to know what to say yes or no to when people ask things of them. It helps them decide when they must make certain moves so they don’t move too fast, or too slow. Being clear on their outcome dictates all of the previous steps.

Do you think Steve Jobs would have been successful with Apple if he just wanted to design a new computer, or a new music player, or a new cell phone?

Of course not! He may have found some success, but he would not have redefined an entire market.

And project management is really no different. Without a clear and concise outcome identified you will not be able to clearly identify the steps needed to get there and the timeframe that is reasonable to set.

Now, we’ve all heard about S.M.A.R.T. goals. This is about much more than that. This is about being very clear on what your outcome is. What is the ultimate goal of the project? When the project is complete, what will you have that you don’t have now?

Picture how things will change once the project is complete. How will your systems be improved? How will your team be more efficient? How will your business be more profitable?

So, before you start on your next project, take some time, real time, to precisely define what success looks like with this project. I promise it will make everything else a little easier.

Build for Tomorrow

We all know we need technology to help us reach out marketing goals. In fact, without technology our reach will be one fraction what it could be, our profits will be minimized, and the impact we are able to make on the world will be significantly diminished.

So, when you get back from that amazing marketing conference, and you’ve planned out your marketing strategy, you’ve written your emails or hired a copywriting, then what do you do?

What do you do with all of that content that you have to get into the hands of your prospects and ideal customers?

Like everyone else, you probably find a CRM or email program you can use to send out your emails and you sign up.

But how do you decide which program to use? And how do you set it up for scaling and growth? What do you do so you can implement all of the great ideas you came up with and new strategies you learned at that amazing marketing conference?

How will you ever take everything you learn from all the binders and all the courses you’ve enrolled in if you don’t have your technology set up right from the beginning?

You won’t.

Yes. It’s that simple. You won’t.

You can’t.

But not to worry. There is one very simple, but critically important, thing you can do to make sure that all of that time, effort and money won’t go to waste.

Before you commit to any programs, before you decide on what you are going to purchase, figure out where you want your business to be in 1 year.

Now, you don’t have to figure it out for 3 or 5 years from now, but you do have to look ahead by a year.

What products and services will you be offering? What will your client base look like? What new marketing techniques do you think you’ll be using to build your business? How many clients will you have? How big a list will you be managing?

All of these are important questions that will help direct what platforms and services you decide to implement today. The answers to these questions will help you choose what kind of software you need, and even which specific platform and plan you will want to choose.

You may decide to get something slightly bigger than you need right now in anticipation of the growth you are expecting. Switching up your software in the middle of a growth cycle can be very difficult. If you expect to grow, implement the technology you will need in a year, not in a month.

To make these decisions we recommend 5 simple steps:

  1. Write out where your business is today
  2. Write out where you expect your business to be in one year
  3. Figure out what kind of growth you anticipate based on your answers to questions #1 and #2
  4. Research the software available to you today (or consult with an expert if you’d like to hire that out)
  5. Choose your top 3 choices and ask for demos of their platform

That’s it.  Once you have seen all the demos you will be able to decide and move forward. You will be able to confidently implement the systems you need to grow your business over the next year without the fear of outgrowing your systems.

And when you’re ready, at the end of this year, you can repeat the same process and see if you need to begin looking for your next system.

The Power of an Apology

How do you feel when someone apologizes to you?  Do you feel vindicated? Does it fire you up? Or do you feel like they genuinely care? Like they understand you are unhappy or have had a bad experience and they regret that?

A simple, heartfelt apology can change any conversation and take it from a heated place of contention to a calm place of cooperation.

Think of your last customer service call. Someone who was unhappy with your product or service called up to complain.  Maybe they were kind, maybe they weren’t. Regardless, they were calling because they were unhappy with what they paid for (or even what they got for free) and they wanted to make sure you knew just how unhappy they were.

How did you handle it? What did you tell them to calm things down? Did you defend your position, try to explain how and why the product is the way it is? Did you let them know that you’ll try to make them happy?

How would that exchange have been different if you had simply apologized?

Now, you might be thinking to yourself that you have nothing to apologize for. Your product/service are fantastic and apologizing will only give their complaint weight. You might even be concerned that apologizing is the same as admitting that your product isn’t up to snuff.

Or maybe you’re afraid that apologizing will invite them to ask for a refund.

I get it. In fact, that’s an incredibly common feeling!  What I’d like you to do is to take a moment and reflect back on the beginning of this when we talked about how you feel when someone apologizes to you?

Most likely you feel like someone cares, like someone listened, and like you have someone you can talk to and work with. You feel heard, and your frustration begins to soften.

This is the same way your customers will feel when you apologize. You don’t have to apologize because they are right. You can simply apologize.

If you’re still having trouble being okay saying “I’m sorry” consider these things you might be sorry for:

  • You’re sorry your customer is unhappy
  • You’re sorry for the inconvenience
  • You’re sorry you’re having to have this conversation
  • You’re sorry you answered the phone (let’s admit it, we all feel this way sometimes)

You can be sorry for any of these things and still simply, and genuinely, say “I’m sorry.”

And that single act will de-escalate almost any customer service situation. Regardless of what the customer’s complaint is, hearing that you are sorry will help them to move past the complaint and on to the resolution. It will help them break the cycle of “they sold me the crap product and now they don’t even care” and begin a cycle of “this person heard me, I can work with them.”

So, on your next customer service call, try apologizing. It really doesn’t matter what you apologize for. Just say “I’m sorry.”

See how that changes the tone of the conversation. For both you and the customer.