Win Win

win win - winning with others

Ever heard the term “Win Win”?  What heck does that mean?

I’m pretty sure that was my reaction to the term Win Win when I first heard it.  Like a lot of other people that I know I grew up in a fairly competitive environment that taught me that winning was important.  When we’re youngsters the concept of both people winning is a little foreign.  As a kid “Win Win” just meant I was dancing around yelling “I win! I win!” after striking it rich in monopoly world domination.  No one else won, just me.

What does Win Win mean in business?

win win - winning with others

I think that understanding “Win Win” in business is critical to our success.  It’s the missing piece in making things strong and stable.  Over the course of the years I’ve slowly started to realize that when I approach another partner in my industry it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about winning together.  A competitive nature can be valuable in many aspects but it can also lead us down the wrong path if we aren’t careful.  Win Win is about competing together with those that want to win the race with you.  I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have some hugely successful winners in my life.  Some of them are new and some of them have been helping me win for years now.  Rather than explain the theory of Win Win any further I’d like to just explain what it means by sharing how I win with just a few of my incredible partners personally and with my business ZigZap.

What does it look like?

  • Win Win with a vendor partner can mean that they make the profits they need and my company gets on time quality delivery of the product or service we need.  Eric Eckman at US Signal has set a new standard of winning in the circuit delivery field for me this year.  I love winning with Eric.  He understands what it takes to deliver what a customer wants and needs.
  • Win Win with a customer partner can mean that I can provide them a solution in an efficient and timely manner and out of that they gain stability and growth.  I believe it also means taking the time to educate each other about how our businesses work so that we can effectively partner together to make solutions work well.  David Valrose at DC Data Corporation chooses to win with ZigZap and I find that to be incredibly valuable both personally and professionally.  Winning with David is always rewarding.  His honesty in dealing with me and his drive to deliver on time solutions to his clients is inspiring.
  • Win Win with your business partner means consistent and real honesty about challenges, frustrations, and positives in your business so that you can continue building and growing together.  It means being willing to work hard at the relationship even when it’s hard.  Lane Campbell has taught me this lesson very patiently and consistently in ZigZap and I’m honored to work with such an incredible man.
  • Win Win with another vendor partner may mean that they are willing to invest in educating you about their product or trade extensively.  As a vendor education of your clients can feel very risky because it often seems like your customer could walk away from you.  Once they have the knowledge you impart to them what’s stopping them?  You must be wise in who you educate, but contrary to what I expected, I’ve found that every time I invest heavily in education of a client they are even more loyal to me.  Chris Buechler at BSD Perimeter is not only a networking genius but an incredibly patient teacher.  Since Chris has chosen to win with ZigZap the Win Win between our companies has created some incredibly opportunities.  Winning with Chris is incredibly satisfying to me and my whole team.
  • Win Win with an affiliate partner can mean that even if you aren’t in the same industry you can refer some work back and forth and expand your market indirectly.  When you find a reliable team member in another business sector it’s well worth the time it takes to work out an understanding and a clear relationship.  Once you have that in place the opportunities are endless.  Having someone like Brandon Cohen to send clients to when they need merchant processing setup or need their current costs reviewed is  invaluable.  I know that Donate Your Processing is good for my clients and our world.  I know that my clients will be treated incredibly well by Brandon, and that they won’t find anyone more honest and sincere.  Winning with Brandon is very rewarding.

Win Win Is Teamwork

Those are just a few examples of what Win Win looks like to me.  The great thing about winning with others is that it never gets old.  The more you strategize on how you can put a Win Win plan in place the more you and your whole team can benefit.

What does Win Win look like for you?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.  Thanks for reading, I’m honored that you’ve taken the time and I hope this post just like all the others has proven valuable to you.

Make It Easy To Buy

It might seem like a simple concept, but way too often I find myself in a situation where it is incredibly hard to purchase what I want to purchase from another provider.  If you look at your customer purchasing process, is it a simple click of the button, or one signature?  If not, then make a change now.  Customers could be choosing other competing providers simply because it’s easier to work with them.

Yesterday I went to upgrade a piece of trial software I was using and I ended up incredibly frustrated.  First of all, the trial download is named something different than the upgraded version.  It wasn’t simply a Widget Lite and I wanted to get Widget Pro.  It actually has a completely different name.  Finally after finding that the upgrade version had a different name I decided to purchase the product and was then confused with what type of license I needed to purchase.  The explanation was not clear at all, so I made my best guess and tried to checkout.  This is when it all fell apart.  I chose to purchase with PayPal and everything appeared to be working normally.  I received an order number and links to download my product.

None Of The Links Worked!

I couldn’t believe that after all that hassle I now had an order fulfillment issue, even though PayPal had successfully processed. Being a technology business myself, I understand that these errors can happen.  I contacted customer support and all they did is tell me that I would receive order links to download my product from.  When I explained that I they weren’t working, I was told that PayPal must not have cleared.  I tried to be understanding once again and just asked for another invoice, so I could pay, and get credit later.  I really wanted their product!

Once Again I shocked By The Lack Of Intelligence

After asking to pay twice, I was told that I couldn’t do that, and that I would just have to wait for PayPal to clear payment.  I was not given any reason why PayPal wasn’t clearing.  I was not given any reasonable explanation or even a temporary license.  Nowhere in the checkout process was I informed that this type of delay could occur.  I was incredibly frustrated that I decided I better start looking for alternative providers.

Does This Happen To Your Customers When They Try To Buy From You?

I hope not.  I don’t think that this engineer (I just supposed that it must be the engineer and not a sales person.  Sales people usually don’t refuse double payment) I was buying from was trying to make it hard for me.  I just couldn’t believe this was happening.

Take a look at your customer purchase process.  What can you do to make it:

  • Faster
  • Simpler
  • More Relaxed
  • More Fun

Don’t let your customers ever experience what I just did.

How Much Should I Charge? – Part Two

How Much Should I Charge? Is a two part series where I’ll be sharing on two components of the question.  In part one we covered raising or lowering prices on services and regular fees to customers.  In part two today we’ll discuss how to get a feel for what a customer is willing to spend on a project so you can accurately quote the right solution for their needs and not end up way off track.

How Much Should I Charge – Part Two:

When Preparing A Quote How Do I Find Out What My Customer Is Willing To Pay?

As a small business owner who wears many hats, it’s often difficult to transition into the sales person’s role seamlessly.  One thing I have found to be effective is to create ‘tool sets’ that I pull out mentally before changing roles.  When it comes to pricing a project properly I try to focus on what the customers wants, needs, and budget is.  In order to determine their budget I usually use a technique I like to call the ‘trial close price feeler’.

Any easy way to learn more about your customers budget is to attempt to trial close using a “price feeler” early in the sales process.  This is a very important step that is skipped by most novice sales people.  The last time I used this approach I asked my customer if they wanted the Cadillac version of our service with all the add ons and features for $12,000.00 or if they wanted to start with the basics at $6,000.00 which is was the entry level for the service.  When I asked them this I carefully gauged there facial expressions, words, and response to the question.  After I asked them they explained that they did have more that $6,000.00 but did not want to spend more than $9,000.00.  With that KEY information in hand I was able to craft a proposal that met their needs and budget.

Another way to ask the question indirectly is to tell the story of the last customer you worked with who spent $6,000.00 on your services.  You then can lead into a second example about a customer who spent everything on the full package price of $12,000.00.  I’ve found that if I pause after sharing these stories customers often very quickly volunteer what their budget is in clear terms.  At worst they will give you more general feedback on prices that will steer you in the right direction.

Don’t Let The Big Sticker Kill The Deal

When I have products that are high dollar items for my customer I am careful to mention that my company is able to phase in changes in an affordable and flexible time frame.  This way the project is open for discussion if they want to make payment or implementation arrangements that better serve their projects financial needs.  No matter what, keep the conversation going.  Creative hard working partners can always find a way to do business together.

That concludes part two of “How Much Should I Charge?”.  Please comment with your experiences on discovering how much you should charge.  I look forward to hearing from you.

The Perfect Fit Is Hard To Find

the perfect fit

For the past 4 weeks I have been looking for shoes to replace my favorite worn and battered casual business walking shoes.

the perfect fit

After going to countless name brand and small time shoes stores, I felt like I might have to give up and change the type of shoes I like wearing.  You see, I like laceless slip on Faded Glory shoes.  They are multi-purpose for me because I can walk the city of Chicago in comfort, they are formal enough when worn with the right clothes, and they feel like I have broken them in the first time I slip them on.

As I searched for the right fit I even brought out another pair of boots I wear occasionally during the winter.  As luck would have it I had to walk 4 miles that day and I ended up getting blisters all over my feet.  I was miserable, but I just couldn’t settle for something that didn’t fit perfectly.

Finally as a last ditch effort I went to Walmart and looked in their shoe department one last time.  THERE THEY WERE!  The exact shoes that I wanted where sitting on the shelf, at a price I wanted to pay, and they even had two pairs.  I bought both pairs and headed home as a very satisfied customer.  After all the searching I had done I finally found my shoes, the perfect fitting shoes that truly met my needs on many different levels.

Thanks For Sharing About Your Shoes Gabe, Why Should I Care?

To be honest, I am pretty excited about my new shoes so I had to tell you all about them!  But really, I wanted to remind you that it’s always worth searching and searching until you find the perfect fit.  Honestly a truly ‘perfect’ fit may not exist, but searching for every detail and ideal that you want is ok.  When it comes to the right person, software, or tool, don’t second guess yourself.  Seek out what you need and don’t let failures stop you from continuing to search until you find what you are looking for.

It is also important to remember that we might be the ‘perfect fit’ for only a certain demographic of customers.  Think through this concept thoroughly and focus on how you can be a truly comfortable and make sense fit for your customers.  Also consider the customers that just don’t fit you well at all.  It might be time to let them go.

All around us there are ‘perfect fit’ opportunities.  What is yours?

Image: Arvind Balaraman / Free Digital Photos