I hope your summer has been fun and productive. I enjoyed a fantastic vacation to Hawaii with the family earlier this month. We had such a blast. A highlight was reuniting with a local family I lived next door to as a child. We hadn't seen each other since 1977! Thank Facebook for facilitating the reunion. That's where my pal found me after many years. 

As always there's plenty to share with you. I'm going to focus on a few topics in this issue:
  • Listen to what the market says
  • Are you good, better or best in your category?
  • A hot new visual app for those using social media
  • A great under the radar sales book to recommend
  • New Sales Mastery group forming now
In business it's hard to listen to what the market says when it's contrary to what you so firmly believe. This next story illustrates this point pretty clearly.
What's Happened to the Promise of 3D Printing?
What happened to 3D printing_

Do you recall the advent of 3D printing? You may have seen some really nifty items in your local Staples that were printed using 3D technology. The idea was that 3D printing was now poised to go mainstream.

The Problem: The Market
MakerBot is the company that promised to usher in this new age of consumer printing back in 2009. Problem is it's not happened. They've since laid off 20% of their staff two times in 2015. This article from Mashable explains one reason why consumers are staying away. It's too hard to use the printers!

Apparently MakerBot or its parent got the message last year as they have pivoted and are trying to target schools more than consumers . This pivot in strategy will hopefully prevent additional layoffs while the market decides just how interested it is in 3D printing.

Are You Listening?
This brings us to your company. Are you pursuing a market that's not there (at least to the degree that you once thought)? Are you listening to what the market is saying? Are you holding strategy and brainstorming sessions to determine how to change course?

What's happened to MakerBot and 3D consumer printing in general is a clear warning to be careful about believing in your own vision too strongly. 
  • There are times to hold fast and then there are times to move on. The key is knowing the difference. 

This type of thinking might also hold true when it comes to a person you've hired. 

  • By what time should they show the promise you saw in them when you brought them on to the team? Or, alternatively, should they be placed in a different position that better utilizes their talents?
I believe we can learn a lot from the MakerBot story and apply that thinking to our businesses. This is about much more than 3D printing. 
Is Your Company's Service Good or GREAT?

Good vs. Great Service
In the past month I've rented cars from Budget, Enterprise, and Alamo. I'm only going to talk about the latter two since my experience with Budget was not good and will take too long to detail. Ping me if you want to hear about it.

Good Service
When I rented with Alamo, I was served pretty quickly and got a nice car that served me well at the price I expected to pay. You see, there was nothing wrong, but there was  no gesture or individual who stands out in my mind.

Great Service
When I rented with Enterprise I was just so impressed with how friendly a young lady named Dieonna was. She helped me find my car out on the lot, introducing herself by name with a big smile. After showing me my car, she invited me to examine it to ensure there were no visible issues. After giving it the once over I thought it looked just fine.

Dieonna confirmed my appraisal, then left to go get the keys for me. Then, a strange thing happened. She couldn't find the keys! Dieonna sincerely apologized for the inconvenience and offered to help me find another car. I asked for a white car. We found a 2017 Hyundai Elantra with less than 400 miles on it. I liked the idea of being just the 2nd or 3rd driver of the new car. She had the keys for this one.

Dieonna then gave me her personal business card in case I had any issues or questions, and offered me a cold bottle of water for the road. I couldn't recall ever being offered a cold drink with my rental car. Overall I thought this was an exemplary service experience.

Enterprise makes it a point to create summer internships for students, then offer full-time jobs to new college graduates. Read more about that here . These jobs give the new hires a real opportunity to establish themselves in a professional company. These new employees, like Dieonna, are educated young people eager to make a difference in their first professional position. I like the strategy!

What About Your Service?
What's it like when people do business with your company? Are they simply satisfied by getting what they expect, like my Alamo experience? Or, are they wowed by simple touches that raise the bar, like my Enterprise experience? A business card and a bottle of water together come to less than a dollar. And people say you can't get much for a dollar anymore...
New Visual App Great for Social Media

I just downloaded an app onto my Nexus 6p smartphone that is definitely making waves across social media. It's called Prisma and it takes an existing photo on your phone or a new one taken with your camera and applies new high tech image manipulation that makes the uploaded picture look like a painting. Like Instagram they have filters that create different looks. 

The picture below on the left is one taken of my son at a scenic spot in Hawaii. The one on the right is the Prisma version. Once you apply the filter of your choice, you decide to what degree you want to transform the photo to look like a painting. The filter on this shot was applied at about 80%.

This isn't the first time such an app has been available, but this one seems to achieve results better than seen before. The app is free and available in the App Store and in Google Play. Try it!
Covered California Rates Going Up!

Covered California Rates Going Up
From the bad news for small businesses department comes this story. There are several carriers claiming that healthcare costs keep going up so they must raise rates for their plans that are offered by Covered Calfornia. So, although they raised their rates last year and this year, they now want to raise them by 13% next year. That's 3x the increase of the last two years. Read more about it from the San Mateo Daily Journal here . I cover the health plan for one of my employees and hope to do so for the other one soon, but I have to say that a big hike in the rates next year is going to hurt. If you have questions about health plan options, I highly recommend a chat with my broker, Julie Foster . She's a whiz when it comes to understanding the overly complex and costly world of health insurance plans for businesses.
Book Recommendation: Selling From the Inside Out

I originally purchased this book a few years ago in support of a sales consultant and trainer I greatly admired. I started reading it earlier this month and found it to be outstanding. Selling from the Inside Out was written by Tom Redmond. He specializes in the insurance industry, but the book can easily be applied to salespeople in any industry.

A few key points Tom makes really well:
  • Call reluctance. This is a major reason why salespeople don't sell enough. He highlights 12 different forms of call reluctance in the book. Just for that content the book is worth buying.
  • Are they ready? When we're talking to a qualified prospect interested in our products or services we should ask them directly if they are prepared to fire their existing provider. By asking this question they'll know you're serious about moving them to your company. This gets to how important it is to spend time with qualified prospects. A key reason salespeople don't make their numbers is because they waste time talking to the unqualified or people not ready to move forward. 
  • Recycled proposals. Don't just cut and paste from old proposals to create new proposals. Just the act of doing that puts you in the wrong frame of mind to serve the new prospect in an entirely original way that suits their company. Don't do it! Sure you can copy over some elements but get away from automating the process of churning out proposals. It will work against you.
The book is full of many other gems. Tom has a good sense of humor, too. You can grab this book for the incredibly low amount of just $19.95 from Amazon here.
Stat of the Issue

It's now public knowledge that tech support companies will sometimes intentionally put a person on hold for one hour or more before allowing them to talk to a live person. A recent NY Times story highlighted just how outrageous tech support practices are. These companies have what's called a "cost-per-contact" model that limits the amount of time a person can speak to a customer. That's why people get bounced around so much. This should make you think quite carefully about whom you do business with when it comes to purchasing technology. Check reviews and details about their support before you buy. It could save you huge amounts of time and frustration later.
Quote of the Issue

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." - Milton Berle
Next Sales Mastery Group Forming Now

I plan to kick off a new Sales Mastery group in the fall.  This is a long-term group coaching program for small business owners and sales people who need to
greatly increase their sales ability. 

This comprehensive program covers: 
  • Sales process, 
  • Limiting beliefs, 
  • Presentations,
  • Listening, 
  • Objections, 
  • Adapting to meet the customer's needs, 
  • Goal setting, 
  • Measurement, 
  • Good habit development, and more! 

If you don't have what it takes, but have the will, this program will show you the way. Just last month one of the people in a current group broke his personal gross profit sales record. That's the type of result I drive people to seek in this program. You can get more information on Sales Mastery via my website

If you're interested in breaking sales records at your company, contact me to set up a 1on1 to discuss joining my next group.
And That's All Folks!

That's it for this issue. I hope something here has caused you to learn and grow. Until next time, continue to strive to be your best.

Michael Neuendorff | The Growth Coach | 650.373.2022