Wednesday, March 27, 2013

4 Reasons Why Everyone Needs to Update Their Resume (Even business owners!)

EVERYONE should keep their resume updated--EVERYONE (not including really young children :).

A friend of mine works for a company who REQUIRES that each employee updates his or her resume every so often.

That's right!  An employer!

An employer requires its employees to keep their resumes updated.

Why would they want to encourage that?  Is the company trying to get rid of its employees?

Possibly...but probably not.

So I started thinking about it, and while I cannot answer for the officials at this specific company, I can offer a few reasons why it makes sense (to me).

Here are four (4) reasons I think that EVERYONE should make AND update his or her resume, even people who are not looking for work--even business owners!

Reason #1: Track Your Accomplishments

How often do we scramble to remember what we've done recently? Most of us do plenty of good things throughout the year, but most of us remember hardly any of them, especially if we have to share those accomplishments with someone else. If we KNEW that we had to "update our resume," might some of us KNOW to keep a running tab of our accomplishments? Why don't we do this, anyway?  (even if nobody is requiring us to do this) If we're always updating our resume, brochure, list of accomplishments, etc, we are more likely to pay attention to the good things we're doing and record them (and not forget about them).  

Reason #2: Track Frequency of Your Accomplishments

If we are tracking our accomplishments, it gives us a reality check about the LAST TIME we had an accomplishment we could claim and write. Are we resting on our laurels from yesterday's accomplishments, or are we finding NEW things to achieve? For instance, if we go a whole year without being able to add an achievement, I think most of us would be alarmed.  More importantly, most of us would make sure that NEXT YEAR we would have, at least, one (1) accomplishment to write, if not a whole lot more than that.  

Reason #3: Identify Accomplishments You Want to Write NEXT TIME

Have you ever wished you could write that you accomplished something, but you knew you couldn't, yet? If we are not updating our resumes (or whatever else we are using to track our accomplishments) for years, we might not even realize how much time is passing between our original wish and now (today).  Many of us "want to do things" for a very long time...a VERY LONG TIME...but we don't realize how much time really passed us. If we're constantly checking ourselves, we are more likely to shame ourselves--in a good way--to identify which things we want to accomplish--and WRITE that we accomplished them next time.

Reason #4: Compare Your Goals with Your Accomplishments

The most successful people write out their goals. However, there are plenty of other people who write out their goals, too, but they are not successful. There is one major difference between the writers (people who write their goals) and the doers (the successful people who accomplish their goals).  The writers never recheck their goal lists.  The doers are always comparing their written goals with what they've done...their accomplishments. Successful people identify which goals are really important to them, and they correct their direction if they are veering too far off-course.

They will change their actions, if necessary. You cannot do this if you do not know that you're off your success course. If you write goals and constantly update your resume, you will notice where you are hitting...and just as importantly, where you are missing. After I thought about these things, I realized how smart my friend's company really was being when it required its employees to update their resumes. Do you have a resume?  More importantly, are you keeping it updated? What accomplishments should you be ready to share with the world?  How do you know you won't forget about them?

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Is Your Buying Process Pleasurable or Painful?

I think I've learned a mistake that I've been making, but I did not catch myself doing it.  I experienced the frustration as a buyer, but I realized that I can be guilty of this, too.

Key Question: Are we making it too hard for our customer to buy from us?

Places Where It Is Easy to Buy: The Pleasure

Before you start to answer that question, think about places that make it REALLY easy to buy.

Amazon: Once you register your PayPal account, buying from Amazon is easy.  In fact, they even suggest similar products so that you can buy even more...without hardly any effort.  How nice of them!

eBay: eBay makes money when we buy and sell things on their website.  Is it any coincidence that eBay makes it awfully easy to buy and sell things on its site?

More Painful Purchasing Experiences

On the other end of the effort spectrum, recently, I saw a website that is trying to sell an author's book.  The problem is that it is not obvious where you need to click to buy this person's book.  In fact, the first place you click (if you're right), does not even take you directly to the page where you can buy the book.

It should not be that hard to buy something.

During an event, I wanted to buy the book from the speaker.  I had my cash ready on the table and everything.  This speaker told me that there would be plenty of time to buy her book.  She was right, because she was not selling the book by itself.  The book was free...with the purchase of something much more expensive.  Later, I learned that her book is for sale on Amazon.

I wanted to buy her book, but she made it hard.

Recently, a friend of mine wanted a quote for a service.  He needed some help, and a I knew that a different friend of mine had the right type of business to help.  So what was the problem?  I called one of my friend's workers, but I could not get a least I could not get a quote for 2 weeks, and this company only did one type of service.

A good test is to ask yourself, "What does a customer have to do to buy from me if he (or she) has money already in his (or her) hand?"

If you find yourself hesitating for any reason, you might need to make some adjustments.

What does your website visitor have to do to buy from you?  Can he (or she) give you money without ever having to call you?  If not, you might need to find something different?

(By the way, I am guilty of this one.)

If you ask people to call you to place an order, can they get in contact with you?  How easy is it for them to pay you?

Do people enjoy buying from you, or do you provide reasons for them to spend more effort to buy from you, possibly giving them just enough incentive to avoid you next time...or maybe even cancel this time?

How can you make your buying process more pleasurable for your customer?

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Customer Service Tip: 1 Way to Handle That Irate, Seemingly Irrational Customer

Have you ever gotten a call from someone who seemed to call...just to be unreasonable?

He or she seems to be angry, and no matter what solution or any other attempt you offer to try "making it right," that person seems bent on making sure that you're "wrong."

This person might not be as crazy and irrational as he seems.
Recently, a friend of mine got a call like this while I was with him.

Of course, I could only hear my friend's end of the conversation, but from what I could tell, he promised his customer shipment the next day, and he was having his crew assemble it that same day.

So his company was doing the work today to meet tomorrow's deadline.

What seems to be wrong with that?

This caller continued to berate my friend.  Eventually, my friend offered to fully refund this caller if it became clear that this approach was unacceptable.

(At this point, my friend was thinking that if the caller was THAT crazy, he did not want their money THAT badly.  A little bit of money is never worth a big problem, and I was sort of with him on that one.)

After the phone call, I mentioned to my friend that it sounded--to me--like there was a trust issue, because that caller was not responding to WHAT my friend was saying.  That person clearly was angry from something that happened--or didn't happen--prior to that phone call.

It was probably important to find what that person believed happened to trigger so much anger.

This caller came by the office almost immediately afterward to get that refund.

This complaining couple was in the waiting room, and they caught me as I was trying to leave the office.  They mistakenly thought I worked for my friend's company.

This couple started to explain their side of the story to me.

Without involving you in all of the drama, essentially what I learned is that this couple had been dealing with one of my friend's workers many months earlier.  That worker of my friend's company kept making promises that kept getting broken.

In all, we learned that this couple was really worried about not getting their order, because my friend's company had a track record of missing deadlines.

Based on this couple's version of the story, I would be upset, too.

While it is true that this customer probably exaggerated or embellished some parts of the story, it's also true that this "story" resembled the "truth" for this customer.

Eventually, this couple returned with the UNCASHED check and requested to continue processing their order.

Key Lesson Learned: We cannot satisfy a customer until we find why he (or she) in unsatisfied.

When we get a customer who seems to be irrational, that person MIGHT be crazy, but it is really important to find what that person believes to be the truth.  Many times, digging for their "truth" uncovers the real truth.  More importantly, that person feels like he (or she) is heard, and that customer feels like you really care about making sure that he (or she) is satisfied.

If we learn that this person continues to be crazy, then we can simply refund this person and whatever it takes to keep that person from spreading a negative word about you or your company.

Sometimes, wants to hear to hear us say that we're wrong.  Some of those times, we might even find they were right.  (If the customer is paying us, doesn't the customer have a good chance of being right, anyway?)

People are irrational...until we understand what is making them irrational.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

21 Tips to be a Professional

Recently, I've noticed more how much I appreciate true professionals...and how quickly NON-professionals  lose my respect.

I'm realizing that none of us is professional 100% of the time; however, many people act professionally a lot less than that.  It is one thing to be informal and avoid being stuffy (when the situation allows it), but I don't know anyone who appreciates being inconvenienced in ways they should not even have to consider.

Unlike what many other people seem to believe, being professional is not (necessarily) dressing in expensive clothing nor acting like you come from the most esteemed social class.  It's about making people want to do business with you because of the way you do business.

I asked myself, "What DOES it mean to be a professional?"  I might have missed plenty of important things, but here is a good start.

1. Complete what you promise.

2. Inform the client when that promise might be in jeopardy.

3. Keep the client informed of the status of your problem-solving (because you will have problems - things are not 100% perfect 100% percent of the time).

4. Know what you have to offer the other person.  If you don't know, ask questions until you do.

5. Understand what it takes to secure the order; deliver it once you got that order.

6. Know your boundaries and enforce them with the client tactfully.

7. Listen to what the client wants and determine how you can meet his or her need.  Listening is the key here.

8. If you cannot meet a prospect's need, admit it.  Maybe even offer an alternative way for that person to meet that need.  (This can be a different service that you offer or an entirely different source to provide it.)

9. Set a scheduled day and time to meet and keep it.

10. Confirm scheduled meeting initially and shortly before the meeting is scheduled to take place.  That person probably did not forget, but we all get busy.  So that person might have forgotten, and we might need to reschedule.

11. Avoid being late to appointments.  Inform the party you will be late, gracefully offering the option to reschedule for the inconvenience that you might be causing (by being late).

12. Be prepared to take notes during meetings and phone calls.

13. Treat everyone with respect, but do not let anyone disrespect you.

14. Remove all excuses and opportunities for others to fail.  If they still find a way to fail, make the decision to bail.

15. Identify needs and take action--without someone else telling you (before you take that needed action).

16. Always look for ways to improve your skills and your service.

17. If you are selling something for cash, have change available and give receipts.

18. Look for ways to build a relationship with the customer after the sale.

19. Be prepared to pay for a service or product that you want to buy, having at least a check or credit card available, if not also cash.

20. Pay for services rendered.  If you suddenly cannot pay, be ready to propose a recovery plan.  Keep that vendor informed of that recovery plan status.

21. Provide service like you're a long-time friend, but deliver service like that person is a stranger that you are getting to know.

I take pride that I do several of these things--most of the time.  I slump my shoulders in shame that I miss the boat with some of these more often than I care to admit, even to myself.

Essentially, being a professional is holding yourself to a standard that you would like others to serve you while also allowing for differences in personalities and experiences, leading to different expectations.

What does being a professional mean to you?  Did I miss anything really important?

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

1 Time NOT to Delegate - Online Marketers Need to Avoid This Progress Killer

Lately, I have been discovering something that I did not expect.  I bet many other people are making this same mistake.

I try really hard to find intelligent ways to delegate.  To date, I'm still nowhere nearly as good at this as I should be, but I'm always excited when I find a way to delegate that works well for me.

See Also: Small Business Tip: 4 Reasons It's So Hard to Delegate

However, for those of you who have your own online marketing business or have one in-house, I make the following suggestion.


I do not mean for you to write everything, but you need to make sure that you have control over the writing part of the process.

I am not trying to imply that nobody writes better than you (or me).  I outsource a lot of my writing, but I have control over it, because I pay them.

Recently, I've had a couple of clients who claim they want to write and edit the content that goes on their websites and marketing materials.

Initially, I was all for that.  Woohoo!  I don't have to think as much.  I can just DO!

Well...there is a problem with this.

Most likely, if people had the time, energy, or initiative to write and edit marketing material, they would not have contacted you in the first place.

They need help, because it's not getting done.

My experience is telling me to warn you...DO NOT HAVE THE CLIENT STOP YOUR PROGRESS.

When the client has to approve everything, seldom does anything get done.  Marketing is done to create sales later, but other things in the business need to be done today.  So writing and editing marketing materials NEVER become a priority.

That is why people like you (online marketers) and me are needed.  We devote ourselves to the craft.  Then again, how many of US take time to market our own marketing business?

See Also: 1 Reason Why It’s Hard to Market for Yourself

We are too busy handling things that need to be done TODAY, even in our own businesses, and WE (presumably) understand the importance of getting out marketing materials.

Your client likely understands this even less than you do, especially the ones who insist that they "will write the content for us."  Let's see how well THAT works for you.

If you like progress on your client's marketing to stop, let him (or her) write and edit (or "approve") the marketing material for you.  Otherwise, YOU need to INSIST that you handle producing the content.

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