Anti – testimonial


When we check Trip Advisor and think who would write such a glowing testimonial report, we know, it’s possibly the best friend of the director or owner of that business.

When we read a scathing one, we know it’s possibly the competitor’s version, of don’t go there, find us instead.

It’s the in-between reports that seem the most genuine and realistic. After reading enough 3’s and 4’s rather than just the 1’s and 5’s, we start to get a picture of what’s really going on.

So as an alternative, perhaps it’s better that when we ask our customers for feedback, and then we decide upon taking this one step further.

Imagine if you would, picking a 3 or 4 from your client feedbacks and reporting on and after the feedback event. Let me explain it this way.

One course we ran recently had a delegate say the following;

“I loved the course but felt it was too superficial. I would love to have some more detailed examples of how the process works. Especially ones that are true stories and an application of how it worked. Otherwise, the course was great, food was nice, venue ideal and the trainer was engaging” 4 out of 5.

So, when it comes to reporting a testimonial, it would be very tempting to just reprint the first and last sentences, missing out the suggestion and the critique.

This makes it slightly disingenuous.

A more powerful way would be to report the whole and then, address the critique and suggestion, and ask for second feedback.

We did just that.

The client was invited back, at our own cost, and we added the suggestion in as well as addressed a bespoke solution to a client issue he had at the time.

This is what he wrote after the second event.

“Attending the follow-up course, I was stunned to realise that my feedback had been taken so seriously. I had more than a renewed understanding of the training concept, I had a practical solution to one of my own difficult issues. I was blown away! The food was nice again. The venue was ideal, and the trainer was just as engaging. However, this time I had a fantastic experience and will be recommending this wholeheartedly. Thank you for listening but thank you more for taking action to improve my experience.” 5 out of 5.

The first and second testimonials, carry so much more weight and honesty.

Feedback is the food of champions. We know that. However, what we do with it is the key.

Are you brave enough to quote both the feedbacks and then give an explanation of why the difference or are you just going to highlight the positive bits and miss the real powerful testimonial?

It is one way to set yourself apart. It is more genuine and realistic. It also shows that you care enough about doing a good job that you will expose where you fell short and prove that you are willing to do something about it too.

That takes guts. You need to be brave to do that. You need to be openly honest enough to admit you are not perfect but are trying always to be better.

Go on. I dare you.


The high road or the low road?


The high road or the low road?

As part of our coaching practice, we ask programme members the following question:
Why did you start your own business?
The answers are generally very similar.
  • I felt I could make more money doing (what I do) myself
  • I wanted to be in control of my own time
  • I did not like the way I was treated at my last company
  • I had a great idea that I wanted to put into practice.
However, nobody starts a business which they believe will fail. Most people start a business in which they have expertise in what the business does. A florist starts a florist shop. An electrician starts working for himself as an electrician. A financial adviser like myself starts a financial advice business. This trend is very well covered in the excellent book for small business owners – the E- Myth Revisited. The book also covers the reasons that most new businesses fail in the first five years. The figure is around 80% which is alarming and terrible for the people concerned.
The main reason is, although they know how to do what the business does, they have no skills in how to run a business.
This skill of understanding how to run a business well is significantly more important than knowing how the work of the business is done.
A highly experienced business owner could probably make a success of a florists business, even if he or she did not have the slightest idea on how to be a good florist. Essentially, this is where a good business coach can help – they know the strategies which work and the ones which are less likely to.
Nearly everyone believes they can make more money working for themselves. This is normally is a primary driver for taking the risk of starting their own business. This is fine as an initial driver as we all have to live and pay our bills. However, once the business is relatively stable and profitable running a business purely for the money is the low road. This low road has a high potential to end in dissatisfaction, stress and burnout.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as shown below says that once our physiological and safety needs are met, we all aim to satisfy our needs for self- fulfilment.maslow hierarchy of needs
Setting the main goal and purpose of the business as only making a large a profit as possible causes a problem. It will make it more difficult for the directors and team to stay motivated and aligned with that purpose in the longer term.
The high road is to set a purpose of contributing to the world and adding the most value possible. Of course, the bottom line of working as effectively and efficiently as possible does not go away. The business must continue to make a profit to thrive.
Delivering on this higher purpose will generate money as customers all appreciate good value. This higher mindset will align the directors and their teams to work harder. They will also have higher levels of job satisfaction that simply more money will not bring.

Action required

Review your company goals – are they set around the high road or the low road?

Explore what your business does. Ask your customers why they use your products and services. Talk to your employees. Ask them what value the company provides.
Once you have collected all the information, spend some time setting a vision for the future. This vision should encompass the contribution the company intends to make and the value it provides. Clarify and write down the company purpose, mission and values.
Get feedback on your statements from your employees and customers before settling on a finished version. Then keep these statements under review and set your company goals and direction around them.
This is the higher road which leads to self-fulfilment for all people working at the company. It also helps you employee people who are aligned with what you are trying to achieve.  These more engaged employees work harder and smarter to help achieve company goals and produce higher profits.
So in deciding on your business goals remember the high road or the low road is a conscious decision which can make a big difference in your approach
Enjoy the journey

Do you know your clients?

get to know your clients

Do you know your clients? Yes, but do you really know?

We often think we know our businesses, and its true most us have a handle on the numbers and the history.  However, Sir Clive Woodward, at a recent conference talked about ‘The Data’, and the story behind the data is not often a true explanation of the facts.

Get the Facts. Truly, deep down can’t get any more data Facts.

You can look at your ROFE, yet behind that could be just a handful of great profitable customers that are masking the truth behind the vacuum of profit customer. Averages help get an overview but break them down and the character of the good bad and the ugly, start to show.

Ask your team, who is a pain to deal with, and why is that so. A client may serve you better by being referred to a nearby competitor. That client may have come from them in the first place.

I remember letting a client go once, and he was horrified. He got quite angry too. So, I explained to him that my average customer spent 20 hours a month of my time and gave me £300,000 turnover a year. I explained that my profit from my average customer was £100,000. On the other hand, he gave me 30 hours work a month and only contributed to £80,000 to my turnover.

Once I had explained the ‘Facts’ to him he calmed down and realised why I was making the decision and that had he known more, he would have looked at what I offered differently.

The result with this client was that I offered to charge him an hourly rate. He declined as he knew he could go and take advantage of a competitor, without paying the fees for his time. So, we agreed to no longer work together.

Unless I had got to the bottom of his way of dealing with us and backed it up with enough comparable facts, I may have continued to be bossed around by this client. It turns out the staff loved that I had ‘let him go’ because he was the proverbial heart sinker. A double win.

Working with clients you like is always a bonus. Ones that are profitable as well make a great business.

The sweet spot of what you offer is one number crunching exercise. Looking at clients who could be ten times more profitable than your average is another.

Which of your clients have the capacity to do so much more? Fewer clients to deal with could be a new option. The numbers will reveal them.

It could be that your top clients are not top clients. It could be that your low turnover/profit clients are capable of so much more, or, would refer you to others that can. Getting to know your clients in depth is important.

By getting ALL the numbers, the decisions are so much easier.

Yes, it felt good to remove Mr Pain. It was easier than I thought because I had got the facts. Numbers never lie if you dig deep enough.

So do you know your clients well enough?

What is your story?


What is your story?

A compelling story enhances the best of presentations more than most things.

The elements of the story need drama and adversity as well a goal or quest against long odds and desire to put right a wrong.

The example of Moguli in the Jungle Book is a good one.

A stranger in a jungle, wronged by circumstances, finds his way back to his kind and rights the wrongs of Shere Khan, the evil tiger, hell bent on killing him.

Some tricky characters along the way, like the snake or the monkeys illustrate the challenges of life, but the quest is attained.

So, what is your story?
Did you go through tough times, setting up your business, trying to make it a worthy one.

Tax offices and banks along the way can crumble your dreams and the customers who took advantage of you, reduce your resolve. Yet, you still persevered.

Do your favourite clients know your story? Could you communicate it with them, and, do they have one?

The two most important things in life are relationships and health. Everything else fits in around them. Get those two things wrong and the rest feels pointless.

I do not mean health challenges, but health care of yourself.

I do not mean relationships you ought not keep, but I do mean the ones you should keep or are important to you.

Nurture your health and your relationships and life is easier and happier.

Neglect them and it gets tougher. It can be filled with regret.

If you have a story, let those that you care about know about it. The story of those you care about should be known to you.

Eek it out. Embellish and develop it to bring it to life as much as you can.

My story? I grew up on a council estate that was so large, the police would not go there. My education was minimal, and to see beyond the boundaries that were there, was difficult. Friends of mine were collecting criminal records and poor health habits at an alarming rate.

I decided, it was not for me. I went on a quest to read any self improvement book I could get my hands on. I promised myself I would seek out people of the same mind set. I travelled to get away from the less than fertile ground.
My travels took me around the world and I met some inspiring people along the way.
I saved, invested, gambled on better outcomes, had setbacks and thieves nearly take it all yet I carried on.

One more day, one more day, one more day and then as the tide started to turn, my dreams became more of a reality.
The strength I had relied upon became my staff and I gathered around me people that would want the same things, relationships and integrity.

A legacy in the making, still vulnerable of course, yet solid too, with hindsight, was better than I imagined.

I now run a business with my wife, have two daughters who are blossoming, and I have more dreams for the future than ever before.

I have reasonable health and keep it maintained. I have countless relationships, that I love and I have a lifestyle some would envy.

Am I still going to grow? Yes. Am I wanting to share how I did it? Yes.

At 56, I feel like I am just getting into my full stride.

Share your story.

12 ways to get more referrals


12 ways to get more referrals

Why aren’t you getting more referrals? You already do a great job for your clients and yet you simply don’t get many referrals. So what’s happening and what can you do about it?

  1. Build a referrals process

If obtaining referrals becomes part of your normal business process when dealing with your clients and you apply a strong “make the process effective and efficient” mind-set you will grow your referrals slowly but surely by improving the process.

  1. Firstly ask

It’s obvious if you don’t ask you won’t get. Too many people shy away from asking as they feel it may be a bit embarrassing. You have to overcome this irrational fear and do it anyway. If you have done a good job, your clients will help you provided you ask in the right way.

  1. Determine the best time to ask

It is important you decide when is the best time in your process to ask for a referral. Studies show that people are most receptive after the service you provide has helped them achieve something. Ensure you set aside at least 20 minutes as part of your client meeting for this process. Build the referral request process into your meeting checklist.

  1. Get into your clients heads

People don’t refer you because they are nervous that their friend, relation or colleague may have a bad experience. You need to tackle this head on as part of your process by explaining that you will ensure anyone they refer will be treated the same way as the client has already experienced. Explain that it is in your best interest to make sure this happens as if it doesn’t you will risk losing both the new and existing client.

  1. Show how referring someone helps them

Explain that you depend on existing clients’ to refer new clients so that you can spend more time and effort on improving your service to them instead of on marketing

  1. Explain how the referral process works

The client gets agreement from the new prospect and then calls you or emails you with their name and number after getting agreement form the prospect. This works a lot better than just giving someone a card to give out. You will always call the new prospect but they may not call you

  1. Explain exactly the type or types of client you want and ask your existing client who comes to mind that matches that category

Develop a form to use while asking and make a note of the names of people the client agrees they will talk to on your behalf. Explain because you have not asked for the persons number you will not be able to call the prospect until the clients says it’s OK to do so and passes you the contact details.

  1. Record the names of the prospects in the clients file and in your CRM system

You must develop a separate prospects list in your CRM (customer relationship management) system and keep good records of all contacts and their potential as clients. Make sure tasks and reminders are set up for this in the same way as tasks for clients.

  1. Email or text your client soft reminders once a month for at least 3 months

People forget. Build a reminder system as part of your get more referrals process to send an email or text with the name of the prospect and simply asking “Have you had a chance to talk to XXXX about our services as yet?”. Having a prospects name makes a massive difference as it is very specific.

  1. Don’t be too pushy

It’s a fine line between reminding someone a becoming a nuisance. After 3 reminders it may be best to let it go and then pick it up again as part of your next face to face meeting.

  1. Thank your clients for any referrals made

A small gift merely for making the referral is a great investment. If this is followed up by a bigger gift if the referral goes to business you will encourage further referrals.

  1. Join a coaching program

There are many subtle nuances that you can use to improve your get more referrals process. A good coach can help you improve the basic details of your process to become significantly more effective. This one area will easily pay for your coaching program by helping you grow your business more profitably. If you get something from this post imagine how much more face to face training will add to the ideas presented here.

Enjoy the journey

An Unexpected Praise or Gift

An unexpected praise or gift

An unexpected praise or gift

An unexpected praise or gift is when it has the best impact because it is positive. That’s when you know you have made a difference and it is often talked about for years to come.

Learn to surprise and delight your clients, staff, loved ones or even the neighbours. It goes a long way and you will feel terrific too.

Recently my wife purchased a turntable for me. I have a vinyl collection in the cellar, gathering dust, which at one stage in my life were the most prized possessions and loved dearly. Like some forgotten toy, they sat there unused and no longer enjoyed.

Not anymore. The delights of vinyl and dusting them and being careful, as well as listening to the tracks in the order of the album instead of on shuffle. Tremendous.

The reason for the gift?  Well that’s personal, but you can find a reason to delight a client.

Take the time to delight a client, family member or employee. Its worth every penny.

Continuous improvement

Continuos improvement

Continuous improvement

It’s always been this way is a presumption that it could never be improved and doesn’t help when you want to consider how to be a leader in your field.

Kaizen, the Japanese philosophy of ongoing and continuous improvement  would be strangled by this style of thinking.

We need a greater outlook and questions like, Why is this our procedure or why is he in charge or even why did I set this up this way, will free us from the outdated shackles of the past.

Do you know someone who sticks in the rut of always repeating the old version of things? It is a difficult thing to start but overall we do it anyway. Perhaps not consciously but we do learn from our mistakes. If something is too hot, you may not touch it again. If you dislike the taste of a certain type of food, you will not order it again. That’s a reactive learning method that works for survival.

For achievement that makes you better than your competitors and gives you the edge, you have to be proactive about the improvements you want. Doing on press-up a day will help your physique. There comes a point though when it adds no improvement. To lift that to two a day will help again. Who knows, after only a few months you could be up to twenty a day and beyond. Now that will give you good core muscles and help your overall strength. That could save you from a slipped disc in years to come. It could make your life significantly healthier. All because you went from one to twenty press-ups. It isn’t hard if you take continuous steps towards improvement. It is easy if you do it in small steps.

Many companies that thrive do so because, like Darwin identified, it is not the strongest or faster that succeed but the best at adapting. It is a good idea to replace stale systems and add a dimension of positive and continuous improvement. How can you make it just that little bit better than before.

We need to be good at adapting and following through on implementation of those adaptations. It is always time to question the current status and define a new one, even if the change is slight. You’ll know what to do or say or change. Just ask you!

Coaching directs, draws out and creates habits that will always step you in the right directions. You’ll be more empowered in just six months than you could ever believe. With a feedback dynamic and you deciding on which is the right direction for you, it is easier than you could think.

Making a decision and sharing that decision, no matter how small will make it a work. The sharing part is key to follow through. Being proactive in choice added to being coached and accountable you will always win.

Adapt to improve. Thrive by little changes. Implement your ideas thoroughly. Keep an eye open for stale systems.


Is there any link between how much something costs and how interesting it is?


Is there any link between how much something costs and how interesting it is?

A video on YouTube can cost almost nothing but go viral due to how interesting it is.

A big Hollywood film can cost £100 million to make and be boring.

Just because an advert costs a huge amount of money, doesn’t make it interesting enough to be worth doing. It is easy to hide behind the cost of promotion when what we need to do is focus on the quality and effectiveness of what we deliver. Get that bit right and you’ll be interesting anyway.

Stories, relevance and value are far more important than big budget promotions.

So should we embellish and if so how and why? The sizzle of the sausage and the memory of the experience are all part of what we sell, yet we must make sure the sausage is a good one and the memories created are positive. The value we bring to what we sell makes that happen.

Madagascan Vanilla is advertised everywhere these days, but most of it was from there for many years anyway. It got embellished because it is a great vanilla. Do we buy the vanilla custard because the vanilla is from Madagascar? Probably not, but it gets our love of the exotic tickled enough to be a bit more excited about the product. The custard still needs to be good though. We will pay extra for the quality, but we need to know how the quality exists either from experience or embellishment. Now that’s a major production without the Hollywood.

Always closing always selling.



Always closing always selling.

You either sell the prospective client that they should buy you and your advice or they sell you that they shouldn’t.   You either sell your client that you’re the expert professional whom they should respect and value or you miss that sale.

If you develop a habit of using phrases like “can I run this past you” or “let me see what you think of this”  this type of weak positioning need eradicating.

This type of talk saves sales people from rejection but is actually inviting the client to reject the sale. Of course, when they rejected the advice they also rejected you being an expert and a professional.

Would you respect the surgeon who ran the planned operation by you?

If you go into advice, then go into it properly, don’t let your ego and fear of rejection stop you from doing the right thing. Don’t go in half hearted.

Who sells who is often determined by who has the strongest belief in what they are saying.

“A short jump is easier than a long one: but no one wanting to get across a wide ditch would begin by jumping half-way.”

Carl Von Clausewitz

Are you sitting on a goldmine? Your existing customers

Existing Customers service feedback

You already have a marketing goldmine – your communications with your existing customers.

We are all so close to our businesses that it is often a challenge to step back and look at the obvious – the elusive obvious.

Most companies marketing efforts focus on acquiring new customers. But it seems that it is a rare business that is maximizing its marketing to its existing customers.

So the real question is  – Are you sitting on an untapped goldmine. This goldmine consists of the wealth that is hidden in your relationships with your current customers.

How do you access that goldmine? By answering these questions:

  • What products or services do you have to offer your existing customers?
  • When did you last let them know?
  • What are you not offering your existing customers that you could be offering them?
  • When did you last send a letter or email to your customers?
  • Did you measure the response?
  • When did you last call your existing customers?
  • What would happen if you doubled your contact with them this year?
  • When you do communicate with them, what more could you be doing to clearly explain the specific benefits that they will experience?

Here are some more useful questions:

  • How often do you communicate with your existing customers by email?
  • Do you test and measure the response?
  • Do you spend at least 15 minutes each month thinking of an exclusive offer you can make to your existing customers?
  • Do you say ‘thank you’ to your customers either by letter, email or telephone?
  • Do you ask your existing customers for referrals?
  • If you have a limited service or product line – do you know of additional companies, products or services that your customers could benefit from?

There are hundreds of great marketing strategies for getting new customers. However long before that, you need to nurture your relationships with your existing customers.

Its so much easier and profitable to sell to existing customers than new ones. Work smart.

So if you have not got one build a marketing plan to regularly reach out to existing customers.

It is the key to the goldmine.

Enjoy the journey

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