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Slow Down to Win Customers

Slow Down to Win Customers

Winning new customers and keeping current ones happy isn’t helped by trying to work too fast. Customers are rarely as impressed by sheer speed as they are by clear evidence that you are trying to understand their real needs and make sure you can deal with them fully.

The easiest way to make anyone feel special is to give them your time and undivided attention. By slowing down, giving each customer more attention, and taking the time you and they need to work out what they truly want, you’ll get better results than the people who try to rush through their time with any one customer to hurry on to the next.

The Power of Attention

When someone gives you their full attention, you naturally feel valued and important. It’s an automatic human response. In contrast, if you get the feeling that the other person is paying you scant attention, it passes a clear message that something or someone else is more important than you are.

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It’s fatally easy when you feel harassed and under pressure to deal with other people, even customers, with the greater part of your attention elsewhere. If that is what happens, you will be sending that customer a silent message that, whatever words come out of your mouth, you are actually less interested in them and their needs that you are in something else.

It is a myth that pressure concentrates or focuses the mind. The reverse is true. Under pressure, human minds do not work so well. Anxious brains are far less effective than calm ones. Look at the problems many people experience with examination nerves, or how they become flustered and anxious when they must give an important presentation. No one can think as clearly in a rush as they can when they feel calm and relaxed.

Slowing Down Helps Focus

The best way to restore full focus on the task in hand, or the customer in front of you, is to slow down. Which is better: to rush from client to client, never quite giving any of them your full attention (and so gaining little or no business as they respond to the sense they are of little value), or to deal with fewer clients in a day and give each your full attention? If you take the second course, you can be nearly certain you’ll win more business overall.

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Customers prefer to deal with people and organizations that treat them well and make them feel important. They judge value by how well their needs are met and any problems they have are solved, fully and permanently. They aren’t interested in your sales quota or the pressures you face to make your budget. As far as each customer is concerned, they are the only one, and that’s how they expect, deep down, to be treated.

Quick Fixes Won’t Help

Imagine yourself as a customer with a problem or a concern. Which of these experiences will make you feel better?

  • Before you have even fully explained you problem, the sales person jumps in with a solution. You aren’t convinced he or she even listened to you properly. Besides, their suggestion sounds like an off-the-shelf answer. It works, sort of‚ but it doesn’t quite solve your problem to the full. You suspect you’ve been given the quick fix.
  • The sales person listens carefully, asks questions and seems to have all the time in the world to deal with you and your concerns. When you finish, the sales person asks for a little time to think carefully about what you said to be able to come up with a good solution. A day or so later, the sales person contacts you with a response that exactly fits your problem and leaves you confident it has been solved and you will face no further hassle.

Most sales people know the second approach is right. What prevents them from following it is unreasonable pressure from their own management, who often equate more business with more busyness.

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Time is a Precious Gift

Organizations that drive sales and customer service staff so hard that they cannot spend the necessary time with customers are shooting themselves in both feet. In their mad urge to maximize short-term results, they end by alienating their long-term customer base and driving them to competitors. Winning a new customer is extremely expensive; keeping an existing one saves costs and provides stable and predictable sales—the holy grail of most organizations.

Few gifts are as precious as your time. When you deal with people calmly and without haste, you increase their feelings of our value and their sense of confidence in what you have to offer. The harassed doctor giving each patient five minutes and a prescription will handle scores of people in a day, yet send each one away uncertain about their treatment and worried about the diagnosis. The school teacher facing too many pupils cannot spend enough time with any of them to make a difference to their learning. The overworked sales or customer service professional trying to deal as quickly as possible with current clients to free time to prospect for more, is forced into actions that are very likely to lose business instead of win it. The employer who forces this on them to supposedly save costs is acting in the most shortsighted way imaginable.

Slowing down seems counterintuitive when you are feeling under pressure, but it is nearly always the best way forward. Try it.

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P.S. You may already be aware of ChangeThis: It’s a site that publishes 15-20 page PDF “manifestos” on topics of interest to people who think about their world. To be able to publish a manifesto on ChangeThis, you must first submit a proposal. Visitors to the site then have the opportunity to vote on the manifestos they would most like to see written. Those with the highest number of votes are the ones chosen for publication.

Slow Leadership has submitted a proposal to publish a manifesto. You can find it here. Please go to the site and vote for us! That’s the only way to make sure the manifesto is published. Thanks. We need your help on this one.

Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman and a retired business executive. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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