Recently, my wife and I visited Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. My wife has wanted to go there for a few years and she especially wanted to see the Harry Potter theme parks because she is an avid fan of the movies and books. So, we took off for a long weekend to ride some coasters and see the sites. But nothing could prepare me for what was about to happen and the lessons I learned in spending a few days in the "Wizarding World." I never expected to get a MBA level course in sales and service, but that's the thing about life - there are always surprises in the most unique of places, as long as you are open and looking for them.
Below are 6 great business lessons on sales and service I took in from Harry and his crew of Misfits down in Florida.
Be Obsessed With Attention to Detail
From the moment my wife and I walked into the the park, I knew I was in trouble, or at least my wallet was. Even as an avid fan of the movies, she could tell right away how much attention to detail was put into every area of the park, from all of the shops, rides, lifelike castles, right down to the buttons on the clothes of the employees. She was in awe. She and I did not expect to literally walk into exactly what was in the movie. So, of course, now we had to explore everything and look at every nook and cranny to see how "amazing of a job they did." Even the employees used the exact wording, phrases and verbiage from the book and movies. And of course, my wife had to get souvenirs all around.
The lesson from this is that if you are obsessed with attention to detail and leave no stone un-turned, your customers will recognize and reward you for it. You will leave them in awe and inspire them, and they will love your product even more. It is the littlest things that can make the biggest difference and that is where great businesses separate themselves.
Create an Experience That No One Else Can Provide
It takes attention to detail to create a great experience, but it also takes ingenuity, the ability think differently, and to look at your customer and the world differently. To truly differentiate a yourself or your business, you have to be uniquely different and memorable. This means that every aspect of the experience a customer has with you should amaze them. From the moment they start with you, to long after they are using your product or have left your facility, you should strive to occupy space in their mind and memories. We saw this from beginning to end at the park. Just waiting in line to get on rides was an experience in itself. And even more impressive was how they built an exact replica of the train stations in the movie, including Kings Cross in London and have a real , interactive "Hogwartz Express" take you back and forth from the two parks.
This isn't just a train ride, it is an experience like riding on the train in the movie. You look out the window to see the real countryside and people flying by on brooms headed to the castle, etc. (great job with the way they made it so real using flat screens for the windows).
Again, it was an experience from beginning to end. You believe you are in and part of the movies. They strive to make you feel like you are really there as well. Even, the employees act like you and them are in the world of Harry.
This should be the same for a customer working with you or your business. You should strive to create an experience from beginning to end like no other that is memorable and leaves your customer talking about it long after they have bought from you. Ask yourself, "What can I do or change today to make my customer experience more memorable?" Now go do it.
There is No Substitute for a Well Trained and Knowledgeable Staff
When people believe you and your teams know what you are doing, they respect you more for it. I earned this respect when halfway through our trip, my wife looked at me and said, "I know you'll think I'm crazy, but I want to get a wizard wand." I looked at her like "Um, OK," while secretly saying to myself, "Yes, I want to see how this pans out." So, we made our way over to the wand store which was another experience in itself. Picking a wand was interesting, not only did the "Wand Associate" help us, but she knew everything you could possibly think of about a wand. From the type of wood it has, to its core, and what made it special and unique, etc. As we got deep into our wand buying experience (these things are $50-100 for literally what is a hard resin plastic stick), I found myself having a discussion with the associate about "wand lore" and how wands pick the wizard, etc. And half way through it, I was catching myself going, "Am I seriously having a conversation on Wand Lore???"
But yes I was, because the Wand Associate knew their products so well and demonstrated their passion for their craft that I could not help myself. There is no substitute for a well trained and passionate team to service your customers. You will never be perfect, but if people believe that your team truly cares and is passionate about delivering a great product and service, you can't lose.
Make Your Customer Part of the Experience
So besides the fact that my wife wanted one as a souvenir, why were we buying a wand in the first place? Because the owners of Potterland know another thing about giving a great experience - Give your customer a chance to be a part of it and make it their own.
Once you have a wand, there are all these unique and hidden places to "do magic" throughout the park. You simply walk up and with a flick of your wand, you can make something happen. You are now a real wizard just like Harry. It was funny to see my wife turn into a kid, get out the map that came with her wand, and run all over the place casting spells. She was hooked.
It's the same for you in your business. You can make your experience even better looking for unique and fun ways to further engage your customers and bring them into it. This may be as simple as having them help craft a rollout strategy for the service they are buying from you or allowing them to give input into a design of your product. Whatever you do, find ways to have the customer help craft their experience with you. Remember, people support what they help to create!
By now, you can probably tell that our expectations were well met and exceeded. And just when we thought we had seen it all or experienced it all, my wife would find something new or an associate would surprise us with some cool fact. We definitely got more than we expected going in and that is all we could ask for.
Exceeding expectations is different for every business, but you have to look for every way you can do so. Put yourself in your customer's shoes. What are they expecting from you and your product or service? How can you amaze them and give them so much more value that you shatter their expectations? Answer that question and you'll create some of the most loyal, raving fans possible for your business.
Close Without Having to Close
When you put it all together - High attention to detail, great customer experience, an incredibly well trained and knowledgeable staff, making the customer part of the experience, and exceeding expectations; you do not have to "close" people to buy your product or service. No one had to ask my wife or I to buy; we willingly and joyfully did. From beginning to end, we sold ourselves and had a lot of fun doing it.
I certainly took away a great, unexpected experience with my wife. On our flight home, we discussed how we could not wait til our daughter got old enough and could understand the Harry Potter series, so we could take her and have her experience becoming a wizard.
And that's all you can ask for as a great business. To not only provide a great experience for your customers, but to have them like it so much they tell others and pass it on to future generations.
There are many things people do to be successful, but the major element to success across all areas is to take ownership of your life, actions, and results. Taking responsibility and control over your life will allow you to reach new levels and break through barriers. In addition to "owning it," here are 5 Actions You Can Take Now to Jumpstart Your Success:
Resolve to Take Action on Your Most Important Items First Daily
Once you have taken responsibility for your life, actions, and results - the first thing you need to do is prioritize for your success. One of the greatest secrets of those that are successful is that they realize they can't do everything, but they do know what the most important things are to focus on. They then schedule those first every day and don't do anything else until the most important item of the day is done. The practice of tackling your most important items first every day is one of the consistent success habits of the most successful.
Control your attitude
There are many things you cannot control in life in and business, but those that you can, you must. One of the areas that can have the biggest impact on your daily success within your control is your attitude. The way you decide to approach each day or each situation can have a huge impact on your success - in either direction. Your attitude is essentially your "inner game" showing in your "outer game." Your decisions make a difference and every day, you get to decide what type of attitude you display to world. Always give it your best!
One trick I have used for years that is so simple, but forces you to choose how you will approach each day, is having an "Attitude Board." I put a white board on the wall in front of my desk in my office and it simply says the following:
What type of attitude will I choose to have today?
When I walk into my office each day, I have 3 choices to circle under that question: Great, Fair, or Poor.
After doing this for years, I can say that not once have I ever circled Fair or Poor. I choose to have a great attitude every day and then force myself to look at my attitude board with my decision all day long - and it works! As soon you start to slip into negativity and you look at your decision on your board, you can snap yourself out the negativity cycle. Try it for a week and see the difference it makes for you.
Aristotle said thousands of years ago, "Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals." The process of setting and achieving goals to lead one to higher levels in life was realized thousands of years ago and has been consistent throughout human history, so why aren't you doing it? And if you are, that is great!
The key to setting goals is to not just have them, but write them down, and make concrete plans to achieve them. Goals are beacons in your life that keep you on your path and give you direction. The more clear you are on your goals and the plans you make for them, the easier they are to reach.
Having a goal setting program that is easy to use and follow is a big help here. There are a ton of these programs and some are very, very thorough and complex. I like to keep things simple, so over the years, I've taken some of the best tips from different programs and condensed them into a simple, easy process that you can do in about an hour so. You can learn more about it and get some resources to help you at the link below.
The Ten Year Career - Goal Setting
Make Yourself Accountable
If you have taken control and responsibility for your life, are focusing on your most important tasks first daily, controlling your attitude, and have set goals for your success; the next thing you need to do is make yourself accountable. It easy to do. But sometimes, the easiest things to do are the ones we neglect doing the most. First, make sure to have an accountability partner or partners. These are people that you tell your goals and plans to and ask for help in holding you accountable to them. If they see you straying from your path or starting to fall off, they will remind you or push you to get back on it. These people can be anyone, as long as they are willing to agree to truly help you and hold you accountable.
Second, create a To Do list every day and work your most important items and goal action steps into it. Then use it to hold yourself accountable and keep yourself on track for the day. The To Do list is another simple thing, but yet, so powerful in helping you achieve more in your daily life.
Ask for Help
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Check your ego. You don't have to live on island. The most successful deliberately seek help in areas they know they need it or have deficiencies. Play to your strengths and find help for your weaknesses. This is one area where people falter because it's hard to admit that you need help or are have weaknesses, but this is where you can have the biggest impact on your success. The more help you get, the bigger you will grow.
If you put these actions in to place, you will absolutely jumpstart your success and create the habits to consistently perform at a higher level. Make it happen. Take action!
Adapted from the book, The Ten Year Career: The Fast Track Guide to Retiring Young, Wealthy, and Fulfilled
How many time a week do you say or hear others say, "I'm trying to..." or "I'm going to try to.." or some version of those phrases?
In order to get where you want to go, you must take action and you must do what is necessary to get you there. If you think about it, we don't really "try" anything -- We either do it or we don't. For example, if you were told to "try" and drive a car, what would you do? Would you get in, start it up, and get on the road? Probably. But remember, you weren't told to drive the car. You were told to "try" and drive it, right?
While the above example is a little over-exaggerated, it makes the point. You cannot "try" to drive the car - you either will drive it or you won't.
This littlest things can be the most powerful differences. A lot of people, use the fact that they will "try" to do something as a way to emotionally satisfy an obligation or make themselves feel like they are making progress while in truth, the only way you truly progress is to take action and "do."
If you want to reach new levels of success in your life, you must become conscious to and strive to eliminate the use of the word "try" from your vocabulary. It is too ambiguous and leaves you with a way out. Think about the difference between telling someone, "I will try to get it done in next week" vs.
"I will get it done next week." Doing forces you to commit and uphold your word, whether to yourself or to those you gave it to. THAT IS HUGE DIFFERENCE and one that separates the high achiever.
Here is an exercise to help foster this change in your life and your results. For the next week, take inventory of all the times you say that you "will try to do something" or "try something." Also, listen for it from others. Mark down, each time you say or hear it and then revisit your list at the end of the week to see if any of the things you were going to try or were told someone would try to do, are actually done. Predictably, a few things will happen. The things you catch yourself saying "try" on will most likely get done, because you will be aware and change your thought pattern to "do" them (so you don't look bad at the end of the week!). But the outside "trys" you heard from a lot of people will not be done. Once you do this for a week, you will never go back to using the word "try." Your mind will just not let you and you will find that you will start to achieve more and accomplish more in your life.
Now comes the important part - Don't try to do this exercise, commit to doing it for a week! For those that DO, drop me a note at email@example.com. It would be great to hear from you and how this simple change of thinking made a difference in your life.
Resolve to eliminate the world try from your vocabulary and start deliberately DOING!
Everyone is in sales. You are a salesperson no matter what job you have or role you play. Selling is one of the most natural, innate abilities of being human. Think about it, every time you have an idea and passionately speak about it to convince others to buy into it, you are selling. Are you married or have a significant other? Guaranteed you sold them and they "bought" you or they wouldn't be around. Or maybe you have a toddler at home. How many times do they ask you for something before you give in and give it to them? They not only sell you, but are so persistent they close the deal almost every time.
So, if selling is such a innate ability for all us, why do so many people see it as such a challenge or in some cases as a negative? We should embrace this ability and use it in our lives to help us. The art of selling yourself or product/solution, or anything, is a critical skill we all should be aware of and maximize in our lives.
The good news is that you already have one of the most important skills needed to become an effective selling machine - The ability to tell a story. Think about how many things you have done in your life because of a great story. Maybe you went to a movie because your friends raved about it. Or maybe you went to a restaurant or use a specific product/service because someone told a great story about it. For many things, the story is the product! (Think of epic book series like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter)
There a 3 components to a great story:
You no doubt have family stories that have either been passed down through generations or specific stories that you vividly remember and tell over an over again from your life. And every time you tell them, you feel excited, energized, and in many cases emotional. These stories probably have the 3 components above and if you think about most great stories, you either tell or love; they will have them.
If you are in sales or an entrepreneur, think about how you can better tell your story. Your story of why you do what you do, the story of how your company came to be including some of the struggles it overcame, and the story of your product or service and how it improves lives. If you don't have at least the 3 components above in your story, find a way to get them in there!
One of the best books on this topic is "Tell to Win" bu Peter Guber. It's a fantastic read, primarily because of all of the lessons you will learn are taught to you through story. Peter is an icon from being on of the top executives and business owners in the Entertainment industry, to owning pro-sports teams, he has done it all and cites story telling at the most important reason for his success. Below is a video of him explaining "Tell to Win."
Remember selling and story telling are the most innate abilities you have! Embrace them, bring them together, and start enjoying even more success!