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Weekly Furniture Message From Margo -Business HELLationships

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Here are two easy ways to tick people off:

1. “If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.”

2. “Staple pages in the middle of the page.”

-Author unknown to me, could be Joe Crawford!

Today, business is ALL about relationships, and here’s a secret—it always has been. Everyday, we are either connecting meaningfully with others and building solid communities, or we are burning our bridges behind us.

In the past, savvy business people valued and romanced their customers, while business folks who wanted to blow off relationship-building and still create sales could get away with it simply by doing radio, tv, and print advertising. Make the ad or commercial good enough, and you will likely make a sale. Not so anymore.

Some say business is really tough now, because of constant change and social media, and mostly because of the economy, but what propels the economy is our behavior. Economics is NOT just the study of commerce and society, it is the study of human interaction around commerce. It’s not the economy that’s going up in flames, it’s our relationships (business—and family, too). Good relationships drive business, and if the relationships go to H-E-double-hockey-sticks in a red-hot handbag, so do our profits.

Our lives are supposed to be easier these days with the explosion of technology, but instead, we hustle about in the blazing heat of many moments, trying to get too much done in too little time, exhausted from stress, and even exploding on occasion with Tweet-rage while we Twitter and text at our desks, on the toilet, at the supper table, and half-way off the road in our cars. We think we are relating to others because we are Tweeting or typing or posting. In reality though, we are not even relating to ourselves and to our passion, or to our true personal mission that makes sense to us at our core.

Utterly consumed by what “the experts” say we should be doing, and by what other business owners say are acceptable practices, we let the REAL, quality relationships fizzle, not sizzle. We dish out another hot plate of self-serving information, unprofessional communication, or cheesy, sleezy devises to get a sale, as we unknowingly allow prospects, clients, colleagues, and even family members to run like H E _ _ or  fall by the wayside (preachy, I know—I just LOVE this stuff).

The constant heat and pressure to perform-before-thinking, and the frantic non-stop pace, has us force-feeding clients with unsolicited emails and low quality content  as we bite the heads off of our employees and spew flames at our sales reps. Somewhere along the way we just stopped breathing. When was the last time you took a normal, deep breath? How long has it been since you took a day off to just take stock of where you are, where you want to go, and how you want to get there? Getting there is 90% of the fun (and it is the essence of life—the journey, never the destination). Many of us have stopped relating. Instead, we are filling up with the toxic smoke of business (and personal) HELLationships.

We need to stop, identify what is important instead of just doing “stuff” (online or off), and we need to take a good, hard look at what we really want to build. Then, we can take back the torch instead of setting everyone’s universe ablaze with our mess and confusion.

I often stress WHAT we should do (like I just did a second ago). This time though, I think I’ll have us all take a look at what we often do with our communication that puts our relationships in the fiery pit, leaving us frazzled, almost penniless, and with dwindling customers and friends.

The Newsletters from HELL (Instead of Heavenly Heralding)

These are newsletters that are sent but not with permission of the recipient, which is so hard to believe in this permission-based new media society. They are often industry specific. A vendor joins a trade association and for a few measly bucks, the trade association gives the vendor the right to blast the members. Problem is it’s unethical and often illegal. Neither the trade associations nor the vendors have permission to send the mail, yet it happens a mazillion times every day.

Oh, and don’t think that because someone didn’t remove themselves from your mailing list, they APPRECIATE the mail you send them. I personally get a lot of unsolicited emails and campaigns that are humorously annoying 80 percent of the time, but I stay on the lists just to know what is happening in that portion of the industry, because I am a trainer and industry leader. I also stay because I get material for my writing (what NOT to do), and I stay because I know that I can simply delete the particular emails I don’t want, and  as soon as that tool (and I mean that in the most unflattering way) becomes utterly useless, I can unsubscribe myself. I am a little different from a lot of folks though, and most reasonable people (I am not necessarily reasonable) would just hit the REMOVE ME FOREVER and DON’T DARE SEND ME ANOTHER UNSOLICITED EMAIL link.

Other hellish-type newsletters are those that come weekly with no relationship-building content. Nothing is FREE. Every bit of “news” is news of a “special”, a “coupon”, or a “one time only” offer (until next time).  If you want to be amazingly loved while staying clear of looking sort of like the Devil, NEVER place a blatant add or a “BUY NOW” button in your regular email article (a subtle, no pressure link to a product that opens in a separate page may be acceptable). If you want to email coupons and specials, reserve these for a secondary campaign that goes out monthly or twice a month so that the recipient knows what they are, and leave your main newsletter as a pure gift, FREE of charge and FULL of useful, inspiring, and helpful information.

Fiery Fingers (In Lieu of the Slow and Steady Hand)

Slow down those hot little hands! I received a business email recently where the sender, whom i did not know, used shortcut lingo to communicate with me. It looked sloppy and unprofessional, and frankly, it seemed amateurish and immature. It may be acceptable for your teenager to email, IM (instant message), or text a friend using poor grammar and letters instead of words (I  dnt  kno  y  u  r  not getting this) but it is shameful for a serious business owner to do so, no matter how many peeps are doing it. Quit the TEXT SPEAK.

Then there’s the quick and easy text to customers. I don’t think it is a good idea at all to text a customer without their permission, but you may have a good reason for doing it (but again, PLEASE, refrain from the ridiculous TEXT SPEAK). Why not pick up the phone for a few seconds and let them hear your beautiful voice? You can also email them (and DON’T assume the email went through if you don’t hear back).

Oh, and business owners, you can save the earth from hellfire by NOT hiring people (even college graduates) who cannot clearly and legitimately communicate to coworkers, leaders, and customers. The future of our economy depends on it!

Igniting Rudeness (While Avoiding Good Manners)

Are you texting or Tweeting at inappropriate times, maybe while visiting with a client or sales person? Sort of rude, don’t you think? Delivery drivers and cab drivers are texting while driving. Trust me, I am NOT getting in THAT cab. Business associates tweet or text on the way home from the airport with their colleagues right beside them. We seek to strengthen a cyber-relationship when a REAL one is right in front of us.

Perhaps you do it while in a meeting or while listening to a keynote. There was a day when we would never have talked during a presentation because it was considered rude, yet somehow we have made it o.k. since no one can hear us “talking” under the table. Relationships are being built up or torn down by everything that we do or fail to do, and other people DO notice. We have allowed good manners and our high standards to fall like a drunk woman on crutches. Technology is fabulous, and can help us build wonderful relationships and strong businesses, yet we often use technology to intrude in our lives, rather than to enhance them.

Flame Throwers (in Place of Pool-Side Spritzers)

These folks burn you with their flaming one-liners and thoughtless, piercing quick words. Bosses, co-workers, and even customers can be flame throwers (by the way, those of use who are business owners should be especially nice when we arecustomers, knowing the challenges business professionals face). Flame throwers say such things as, “What the h e _ _’s wrong with you?”, or “If you had half-a brain you would…”, or “I will never shop here again”.

The Hot Head (Rather than the Warm and Fuzzy)

Hot heads speak before they think. They are like flame throwers, but their fury can go on and on. All anyone wants to do is get away from them. Hot heads often take things out on their families and assistants. Hot heads can brew for days, coming to work with a groan or a grimace instead of a warm hello. Hot heads cause business to plummet because no one in the office remains motivated, and even the nicest associates are distracted by bad feelings they often hold in. The customers as well as the profits suffer.

Blowing Smoke (Replaces a Breath of Fresh Air)

Folks who blow smoke come awfully close to deceiving others to gain a profit. They play tricks while acting slick.

If every bit of business communication should be geared toward building trust, it makes no sense then, to lead someone to a baited hook, only to have to communicate a brand new message—about how they “misunderstood” your offer—once they bite.

A popular acne solution company has a commercial on XM Radio that seems to me to be vague and almost misleading. The say that “against the better judgment of their management team” (yeah, right), a million people can try the product for no risk, plus they’ll get free medicine. The wording they chose for the commercial makes you think you are trying everything with no money outlay. Once you call in for the FREE offer, you get the real story.

Public service workers are not exempt from blowing smoke. Cops do it too (maybe that’s why we call them “Smokey”). There are plenty of "didn’t mean to speed" speeders who complain that a cop “padded” the ticket a bit, putting them in another price category. There are questionable business execs just like there are questionable cops. The sad part is, people quit trusting.

Have you ever seen the seemingly never-ending landing pages or sales pages of some of the online information products out there? They don’t reveal the price for two and a half hours. Why? Because you are stupid, and if you know the price right off, you won’t buy the product. I say, just tell me the price and don’t waste my time. I don’t need your psycho-babble customer psychology tactics that you learned from your friend who sells info products (who learned it from his friend, who learned it from a guy that ended up never selling anything). Don’t play tricks. Don’t make an offer that YOU wouldn’t believe or buy. Don’t blow smoke.

Burning (Instead of Earning)

Some business owners place articles (or audios, videos, etc) out in the online universe to drive people back to their sites. Unfortunately, many of these articles require the user to give way more information than they should have to, like address and birthday, before the article can be read (or before the audio can be heard or the video seen). unless you are mailing something through snail mail, I say (and droves of “experts” will disagree with me), either be a help to me or don’t, but quit trying to force me to give you my most personal information, and don’t use the ridiculous excuse, “If they want the info bad enough, they will exchange their info for it”, or my favorite, “I am qualifying my leads”. No, you are pissing people off and leaving money on the table, since there are those who need to gain a little more trust before they buy from you or before they tell you the birthdate of their first born male child.

Give and let give. Be a giver and the universe (I think that’s really God) will help you in the future. Plus, your prospects will likely respect you in the morning.

So There

So there it is (not all of it of course), but enough of a fire extinguisher to keep you from the flames of business HELLationships. Think about where you are and where you want to go, and how you will get there. Use your time, technology, and your business model to build exceptional relationships that will support your business, your staff, and your customers for many years to come.

Have a Wild Week of Great Customer Relationships!


Margarett (Margo) DeGange, M.Ed. is a contributor to FURNITURE WORLD Magazine an a Business and Design Coach in the Home Fashions Industry. She creates and delivers custom training programs for managed businesses and their sales consultants to help them communicate better with customers and increase sales and profits. Margarett is a Writer and Professional Speaker, and the President of The DeGangi Group and The DeGangi School of Interior Decoration, with both on sight and on-line courses in Interior Decorating, Marketing, and Redesign. For almost 20 years she has helped individuals and managed business owners in the interior fashions and decorating industries to earn more while fully enjoying the process.

Two of Margo’s popular products for furniture store owners and their sales professionals are The Decorating School Crash Course Power-Ed Pack (9 design lessons on video/audio with 12 hours of content), and the matching Decorating School Crash Course Learner Files to measure learning, provide added interactivity, and motivate sales consultants to own their opportunities for growth.

Visit Margo DeGange’s website at www.DecoratingForProfits.com  for more information. Send email and questions to her at Margarett@furninfo.com.


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