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Listen. And Significantly Grow Your Business.

Discussion in 'General Entrepreneur Discussion' started by Carol Jones, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Greetings from rural Australia,

    A significant number of entrepreneurs don't want to get up close and personal with their customers.

    There is a price to pay for that. Not knowing who your customers are. What they care about. Doesn't allow you to drill deep into a relationship with them. And isn't conducive to growing your business with like minded people. Because you actually don't know who those like minded people are. And what influences them.

    This thread is to highlight stories that open doors. And provide business growth.

    Irene rang this morning. She's been a customer for 8+ years. Before she purchased direct from me, she was given a Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover as a gift. From a friend.

    Irene is a quilter. And today she was placing an order for herself. And members of her quilting group.

    As is the norm with me. We started chit chatting.

    Irene has been attending her quilting group every Tuesday for 20 years. She makes quilts all year long. Maybe 10 a year. And gives them away. To family. Friends. And donates some to her quilting group. Who give them to people in need.

    This is one of the few hobbies I know of where the end result is not kept by the hobbyist. Quilters have big hearts. And share their works of art with others.

    Irene reminded me of what I've learned about quilters over the years.

    'Wrapped in Love' is a poignant story of how one quilter changed a procedure in hospitals.

    Lisa is a quilter. Her first child was stillborn. Every prospective parents' nightmare.

    The hospital wrapped her stillborn daughter in a hospital sheet. Allowed she and her husband a few scant minutes with her. And then whisked her away. Not to be seen again until her funeral. They had no mementos of her daughter. Not even a photograph.

    Because Lisa was a member of one of the largest quilting groups in Australia, they rallied round her. And vowed that no other mother would go through the impersonal treatment she received.

    'Wrapped in Love' was born.

    Her quilting group made small quilts. Donated them to the hospital Lisa's daughter was born in. With the proviso they were to be given to every mother who had a stillborn child. So that mother could wrap their child in love. And that quilt be given to the mother as one of the few mementos of the short life of her child.

    Over time, the hospitals changed their policy with stillborn children. And now allow as much time as parents want with their child. Including taking photographs. And yes. Those donated quilts are a significant part of that ritual.

    Twenty years later, 'Wrapped In Love' is a major movement in quilting organisations. Which make quilts not just for stillborn children. But for men and women suffering cancer. And other debilitating diseases.

    Every quilt is donated by the members. With no expectation to be recompensed.

    Another quilter told me the story of how her group makes quilts for pensioners in nursing homes.

    Men and women on the Australian pension. Who live in nursing homes. Have 90% of their pension taken by the nursing home. Leaving them with 10% of their pension. For pocket money. Which amounts to about $30/week.

    Yvonne says many of these pensioners have no possessions of their own. Not even a blanket.

    Her quilting groups makes about 700 quilts a year. Which they distribute to the nursing homes in their area. To be given to aged men and women. As a gift.

    In many cases, it's their one and only real possession. Outside of their clothing.

    Yvonne says many cry. With joy. When they receive their gift. And hug their quilts close to them. And share them with no one!

    Where am I headed with this?

    Because I know all this. Purely from chatting to my customers. Asking questions. And listening to their answers. I've been able to grow my business with this knowledge.

    Quilters' have a toolbox. Components of which are an iron. An ironing board. And an ironing board cover. As well as a sewing machine. And an overlocker.

    They can't make a good quilt without those tools.

    Knowing that quilters aren't interested in money. But are interested in putting joy in the lives of others. I developed a program which I offer to quilting groups.

    I offer my tool component, an ironing board cover, through a simple program. If the groups promote my ironing board cover to their members. And any member places an order using a special code. I donate 20% of their purchase price, excluding p&h, back to their quilting group. To help them pay for some of the raw materials they use to make the quilts they donate.

    I NEVER discount my products. But I do look for ways to give back when purchases are made.

    This 20% donation back to each quilting group has been a huge success for me. And has helped me grow my business by a significant amount.

    If I wasn't asking questions. And listening to my customers. I wouldn't know what their hot buttons were. They would just be another customer. In a database.

    Irene is part of my quilters program. She prefers to order by telephone. Every club has the option to order online. By telephone. Or via a downloaded order form.

    And if they order in bulk, there's a flat postage rate per parcel within Australia. Regardless of how many items are in the parcel.

    How big is this market segment? No one really knows. But quilters keep fabric stores in the black. I estimate that there are at least 20K dedicated members in quilting groups Australia wide. That's a significant market for me.

    What do you know about your customers?

    And how can you turn that information into significant growth for your company?

    I'd love to hear your stories. ~Carol❤
     
  2. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Greetings from rural Australia,

    I came across a business whose whole strategy is based on nothing more sophisticated than eavesdropping.

    Listening to other people's conversations. And tracking down a whisper trail.

    When I was a high profile business woman in Sydney Australia. Before we became poor as church mice. I was active in many business associations.

    One was the Institute of Directors. Open only to directors of companies. And their senior executives.

    As I was a director of my company. I thought I should join. Because they had monthly luncheons. Where I thought I could meet new people.

    I always go to these luncheons solo. I'm not there to chat to a friend at lunch. I'm there to make connections. And find out what people do. And how I might be able to help them.

    The first time I walked through the imposing doors to the dining room, I stopped dead in my tracks.

    The room was full of tall men in heavy suits. Standing shoulder to shoulder in circles. Closed. Tight. Circles.

    And it was obvious to me, as I looked around the room, that I was the only woman there.

    5'2". In stilettoes.

    I accepted a glass of mineral water. With a slice of lemon. Of course. From the drinks waiter. And walked through the sea of men. Hoping I looked like I was trying to find someone I knew.

    What I was really looking for was a lone soul. As out of place as me. Who I could go up to. And start a conversation with.

    Which I did. A gentleman at his first function. Totally knocked out by the impenetrable circles of men. In suits. Chatting only to each other.

    He was grateful for my company. As I was for his.

    We sat down to lunch. My new friend on my left. And a gentleman in his 60's on my right side. Who obviously thought he had to take 'the little lady' under his wing. And show me the ropes.

    No one cared about my equally new guest on my left. He was a man. So he was left alone to make his own arrangements.

    Discrimination!

    All of a sudden, my guardian angel started whispering to me.

    "See that guest in the red tie? Directly across from you? He'll say very little during lunch. He's here to listen to the chatter around the table. To see if he can pick up a whisper. Or a thread. That will become a lead for his business."

    I became fixated by the man in the red tie. He was indeed very standoffish. And intently watched everyone around the table.

    At some point during the lunch, he whipped out a notebook. And started writing.

    My guardian angel tapped my hand. And in a low whisper, told me this guest had obviously scored a lead. And was writing down the information.

    Who does the man in the red tie work for?

    He's a senior executive for one of the most successful interior design firms in Sydney. And every table at the Institute of Directors lunch had an executive member of that firm's staff. Sitting. And listening.

    I was fascinated by this simple business strategy.

    It obviously worked. Because they left their competitors in their wake.

    Quite a few months later, I read an article in the Australian Financial Review about this firm of interior designers landing a huge commission from an insurance company. Who were refurbishing head office. And three of their branches.

    These refurbishments are normally undertaken by architects. Who appoint the interior designers.

    Not this time. The interior design firm was awarded the head contract.

    The article was quite revealing about how they managed to turn the tables on architects.

    It was simple really. They said they heard a whisper. Realised no one else had heard that whisper. Made a phone call. And there they were. In charge of a multimillion dollar refurbishment.

    Their strategy of not being the centre of attention. But blending into the scenery. And listening. Was the only strategy they used to build their business. And they were huge!

    Listening works. Every time. To customers. To acquaintances. To strangers.

    How often do you listen? How could you significantly grow your business by listening?

    I'd love to hear your stories. ~Carol❤
     
  3. YanC
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    YanC New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    What a great story to start the day. Full of wisdom.

    As a beginner in the world of entrepreneurship, I hear and read a lot about how you should build your business so you have to deal with customers as little as possible. "They take your time. They are a pain"... Well, you show us another way, which worked out very well. It is no coincidence MJ states in Unscripted (or TMF, not sure now) that poor customer service is an opportunity in itself to create value for people.

    I will remember this lesson on my journey.

    This is very inspirationnal. Thank you very much for sharing.

    Yan
     
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  4. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day @YanC from Oz,

    Love your comment! Thank you very much.

    As a customer who has been on the receiving end of poor regard for customers, I can assure you it's the worst way to build a business.

    Customers pay the bills. No. One. Else. Only customers. And if I'm treated poorly. I don't go back for a second chance to be treated like a doormat.

    If you're ever in doubt about the value of customer service, look up Zappos on Google. And read about them. Their whole business is built on extraordinary customer service.

    Thank you for dropping in. And having your say. I hope we stay connected. ~Carol❤
     
  5. YanC
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    YanC New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    I didn't know about Zappos, I'll check them out! Thank you for the insight.

    Have a good day.

    Yan
     
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  6. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    You'll be amazed at their story Yan @YanC. It's always a pleasure to help you. ~Carol❤
     
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  7. Laughingman21
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    Laughingman21 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Those are great stories and the interior designer story is even more relevant in the modern world of online reviews and social media.

    I know a number of online sellers developing their own brands on platforms like Amazon, eBay and their own stores (similar to some people on this forum). One of their best methods for finding new products is to find something that sells, but has poor reviews and sells despite the obvious problem with the product. They then fix the problem and sell their own version which then goes onto outsell the original product.

    All they've done is listen to another company's customers feedback and solved the problem. If the original manufacturer had listened to their own customers, they'd have never lost the market share.
     
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  8. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Thank you @Laughingman21.

    You're so right. If people listen to their customers, they don't need to do much more.

    Customers are not a pain. Or a nuisance. If you treat them with respect.

    I've got 23 years experience with that. Customers pay the bills. And if you treat them with love and care, they will reward you many times over.

    I'm on a mission to teach business people that their greatest asset is right under their nose. Their customers.

    Don't underestimate the power of a disgruntled customer.

    Nor take for granted the kudos happy customers give you.

    Relationships with customers are very much like a marriage. It takes work. And dedication. And give and take. To make that relationship work.

    But when it works. It's pure bliss. ~Carol❤
     
  9. maverick
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    maverick Unorthodox Nonconformist Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I was sitting in a plane from london->miami during my soul-destroying management consultant days. A woman asked me if I would mind switching with her son who was sitting all the way at the back of the plane.

    I didn't mind as I was going to spend the next 10h buried in my laptop, powerpoint to be precise. Made my way to the back of the plane and sat next to a guy sitting in the window seat. His name was John.

    John was a business owner with a number of retail stores in the Miami area. We hit it off and spent the entire flight talking. He mentioned he has strong offline distribution but almost none online.

    I helped John setup his ecommerce foundation.

    We stayed in touch. Years later John helped me find the first customer for my SaaS enterprise.
     
  10. maverick
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    maverick Unorthodox Nonconformist Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Another airplane story:

    On a flight from london->nairobi, I was fully immersed in 'business adventures' by john brooks. I caught the guy sitting next to me looking at the cover of the book.

    He finally asked me: "What is the book like?"

    "Very good", I replied. He let me know that he was always interested in it but never got around to buy/read it.

    I gave him the book.

    He was taken aback, shook my hand and handed me his business card. On it, I saw he was a dentist for the united nations. He mentioned that he was one of the most well-known dentists in kenya. When the plane landed, he wrote his home address on the back of the card and invited me to his house whenever I had time.

    I hate to say, I did not take him up on his offer.

    I've always wondered what opportunities I might have missed by not taking him up on his offer.
     
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  11. ZF Lee
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    ZF Lee Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Best strategy for introverts like me.

    Not only you can find leads, but also jobs, news and anything else!
    I can still remember the first time I used that skill. It was my first year in high school. I'm a green guy. Freshman.

    My high school made it mandatory for everyone to join the Boys Brigade or Girls Brigade uniform group. Those days, on that level, your status is determined by your participation in activities, just as your performance in your business or job is touted in the real world.
    However, things were run quite poorly. Lack of leadership on the seniors part, lack of trained student officers and shitty discipline overall especially during drill sessions....our BB uniform group was relatively new at that time.

    That day was Teacher's Day, and everyone watching a performance by some students. I noticed some people were missing and some teachers were discussing something by themselves. I overheard them talking about sending some seniors to a special briefing for some 'advanced training camp' at an older and more established company.

    My ears perked up.

    That meant that I could get trained, and know what it would take to help improve my school's uniform group. I would have a higher status too. Not really for showing off, but I would be in a position to do more things.

    So I went up to one of the teacher and talked about joining them. My other peers were just busy enjoying themselves watching the performance or talking with each other. But I was unfrazzled. I needed to do it. I didn't like having a uniform group that was shitty in the face of public.

    Long story short, I got:
    a) Trained, promoted and involved one year ahead of my same-age peers.
    b) Got to network with other Boys Brigade members at that training camp. Found lots of mentors, a few whom I maintain contact even today.
    c) Learned new skills like playing the bugle (old art that is going to go extinct like the dinosaurs) and camping

    Do you know what was the crazy thing....I was actually not supposed to be there at that camp!
    a) I failed the earlier entry tests for further developments for promotion. There's this award called the Target Badge in which to get it, you have to sit for a theory test on BB history and doctrines and a physical drill test. I screwed up on the drill test as I was a noob lol, The badge looks like this.
    [​IMG]
    (I need to dig out my earlier badges for more evidence lol)
    I did a retest at time of getting the call, but the results were not out yet. I could have passed, but I could have failed. But I really, desperately wanted to go for it. Quitting and being an ordinary Boys Brigade member ( or an ordinary Slowlaner in our TFLF context) is a no-no.

    b) I was a green guy, with lack of social skills. I was a nerd...always reading and preferring to be alone. Going to a training camp with seniors glaring at you, and saying harsh things that I shouldn't be there, was one of the hardest things in my life. I really shouldn't be there...the training was tough. Drill marches all until late night.

    Push ups and star-jumps for every error.

    Polishing belt and shoes thoroughly. Dirty work. Can't find my pics of me doing that...but here's one I found on the net...from 12th Kuala Lumpur Company...
    [​IMG]

    (BTW, don't use Brasso. Too weak for polishing an alloy belt buckle. Use Autosol and a rag and toothpicks for clearing out the crevices.)

    I ended up making friends with the same seniors that criticised me, and they became my mentors whom I worked alongside with many times.

    I was massively underqualified, yet I leapt for it. And I was welcomed and accepted for all my faults and wrongs. As long as I helped out.
    As I mentioned, I screwed up at drill and communicating.
    But eventually I became quite feared at teaching no-nonsense drill and mentoring a few juniors myself. I still keep contact with a few of them. They are doing well in my place, so I have no regrets.
    As a result, I had quite the crazy and successful high school life. Not many people can enjoy such an experience, judging from the hate of today's education.

    .....phew story done. :)
    I didn't know that what I was doing was technically FASTLANE until MJ DeMarco explained things and gave them form via words in TMF.

    This skill changed my entire life. And it will again.....
     
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  12. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Good morning @ZF Lee from Oz,

    LOVE. This. Story! Thank you so much for sharing. I hope other members read it and realise there's more than one way to get from A to B. And I bet most would love to go your route. Than the more direct, but difficult, one.

    I have a list of stories I've written to add to this thread. And one is about helping. But not with the same stunning results you've had. I'll be sure to refer back to your amazing story when I post it.

    Again ZF Lee, thank you so much for your contribution. It adds so much value to the concept of doing the tango with people. Rather than treating them with disdain.

    I hope we stay connected. Love your attitude! ~Carol❤
     
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  13. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Thank you @maverick.

    This is a post members can learn from.

    Yours is the best way to do business.

    Talk. Listen. Help. Share. These traits keep people connected for a lifetime.

    Thank you for sharing this story! And its insights. I hope we stay in touch. ~Carol❤
     
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  14. ZF Lee
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    ZF Lee Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Thank you. I consider @MJ DeMarco to be a master in this. If you remember in TMF, he found the route of having money as a money tree by itself by listening to a millionaire in his limo job. As well as complaints from his limo field lol.

    Perhaps this should be the silver bullet, even when ' silver bullets' sound scammy for business hehehe.
     
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  15. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Greetings from rural Australia,

    Be Careful. Someone May Be Listening!

    Peter was a wizard at marketing. In the age before marketing was an accepted strategy for a business.

    And he was an intuitive salesperson. He honestly knew what the hot buttons were for his client when in a selling situation. No pressure. Just. This is how I can help you.

    He won hearts and minds everywhere.

    He was my mentor when I was doing my second degree. Marketing. When I was Sales and Marketing Manager for a medium-sized business in Sydney Australia. My last job before I started my first business.

    I met him at university. When I was still a high profile business woman in the Sydney business community. Before we became poor as church mice!

    But Peter had a failing.

    He was also a boaster.

    That's being kind.

    He was the Town Crier. "Hear Ye!" "Hear Ye!" "I want to talk about me!"

    Peter was at a function. And having attracted a considerable number of acolytes who surrounded him, he started boasting about his newest business triumph.

    He was waxing lyrical about a significant company he had just won a big contract with. The papers were sitting on the managing director's desk. Ready to be signed and picked up by Peter that afternoon. After the function.

    A member of the acolytes who surrounded him was Judas Iscariot. A new employee of Peter's arch competitor. Who Peter didn't yet know. Or recognise.

    As soon as Judas heard Peter's boasting. He left the function. And drove straight back to his office. To tell the two directors of his company, Paul and Eddie, what he heard.

    Paul and Eddie were also personal business friends of mine. The Sydney business community is very incestuous when you're me. And belong to so many business associations.

    Paul is also a very intuitive salesperson. Probably better than Peter.

    Judas gave Paul everything he needed to know. Who the contract was with. To provide what service. How much. And that the MD of the company had not yet signed the papers.

    Paul picked up the phone. Rang the company. Confirmed those facts. Made an appointment to see the MD immediately.

    He also had the foresight to bring a contact with him. To be signed. Just in case he won this deal.

    Which he did.

    He undercut Peter's price. Promised more. And had the deal signed and sealed within the blink of an eye.

    Paul was walking out of the lobby with the signed contract. As Peter was walking in.

    The moral of this story?

    Someone is always listening to you. Sometimes it pays to be circumspect about what you say!

    And.

    The only time a contract is a sure thing. Is when there's a signature on it. ~Carol❤
     
  16. 96wells
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    96wells New Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER

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    @Carol Jones you are full of insights, thank you so much for contributing to the forum. I really enjoyed reading your stories.
     
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  17. Carol Jones
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    Carol Jones Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    G'day from Oz @96wells,

    Thank you! That's so lovely of you to tell me. I hope we stay in touch. ~Carol❤
     
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