What is WOW and 5 Steps to Make it Part of Your Business

My wife has an angelic voice (right now she has laryngitis and is confined to a whisper).  She is a beautiful Southern girl.  Before she gave it up to marry me, her dream was to go to Nashville and be a country singer.

WOW!

WOW!

I don’t like country music as a rule.  The main exception to this is I liked the Keith Urban music that she would play.  One year, as a gift to her, I took her to a Keith Urban concert in Memphis.  By this time, I knew his music.

My first observation of that concert was that it was my wife and me and 15,000 17-year-old girls.  I felt completely out-of-place.  Then he started playing.  The songs that I thought were good were suddenly outstanding.  I found myself wondering why the same songs were so much better live.  I was completely blown away.

I think there were a couple of reasons.  First, I play guitar.  I appreciate talented guitar players.  Keith Urban might be the best guitar player I have ever seen live.  I did not expect this to be the case.

Second, the energy in the place was off the charts.  I found myself moved.  I did not expect this either.

Third, the sound and lights coupled with the excellence of the live delivery shocked me.  Urban and his band were awesome musicians.  They played with passion and authenticity.  I could feel the emotion and the connection they had with the music.  Then you add the lights and multi-media experience, and I was loving it.  I completely didn’t expect that.

A couple of months later, I ran a mini-marathon (it didn’t feel mini!).  You know what I listened to for about 2 hours?  Keith Urban.  His concert completely exceeded my expectations.  It gave me goose-bumps.

That is what WOW is – goose-bumps.  I’m still not a country fan, but I will listen to his music anytime.  I’ve had an experience with it.

In his book Platform:  Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt begins that you must start with WOW.  So how do we know what WOW is?  It is constantly exceeding the expectations of your clients, prospects, customers, volunteers, etc.  It is delivering goose-bumps.

So let’s consider how you can apply the concept of WOW to your business.

How to Apply WOW in Your Business

  1. Be Intentional – you don’t succeed in the WOW category on accident.  How many hours of planning and practice did Keith Urban and his band put into that concert?  Purpose to exceed your clients’ expectations.
  2. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes – Have you ever tried to think like your customer?  What is their experience like when they call your office?  Or walk into your waiting room?
  3. Understand their expectations – You can’t be purposeful about exceeding expectations if you don’t understand what they are.  Ask your clients.  Write down what you think.  Involve your team.
  4. Examine every aspect of your business – What I am talking about here is looking at every point where your business touches a client.  Or you can take it a step further and consider how you can exceed the expectations of your employees or team members.  Think about business development, customer service, leadership development, HR, IT, follow-up, etc.
  5. Define the win – You need to be specific about what WOW looks like.  I read a great book called Mr. Schmooze (it is way better than what the title suggests).  In this book, the author uses the term elevate.  Ask yourself constantly how you can elevate the experience of your clients – how can you give them goose-bumps.  Write it down!

These are next practices!

Now ask yourself – do I deliver WOW on a daily basis?  What would your referral business look like if you did?  Share in the comments below how you could do this in your business!

 

What Are You Worth?

What are you worth?  You don’t have a clue, do you?

I have a mentor and client who is incredibly successful.  He owns over a dozen businesses. He employs hundreds of people.  He loves Jesus and is one of the most generous men I’ve ever met.  He is an amazing man.  He is someone who we should all want to be like.

iStock_000021836294SmallA couple of years ago, I was meeting with this man.  I asked him what the inflection point was in his career.  He surprised me with his answer. He told me about a conversation that he had with his mentor.  At that time, my mentor had hit his limit.  He was experiencing what John Maxwell calls the Law of the Lid (read the book – affiliate link).

In that conversation, my mentor asked his mentor, “Why can’t I break through?  What is my problem?”

Last week at my company’s national convention, I spoke on becoming a Power Prospector.  Afterwards, one of our top producers wanted to talk with me.  He is tapped out.  He has so much business.  However, he is struggling to keep up with it all. He’s trying to do everything himself.  It isn’t working.

I ask you again.  What are you worth?

This is one of the most important things that you can know when running your business.  Why?  Because you have more to do in any one day than you can accomplish.

Delegation

In both of the stories above, lack of delegation is the problem.  My mentor was trying to control everything.  He wouldn’t delegate.  Thus, he was the bottleneck.  He was the problem.

Our top producer has not put together a team or a system to maximize his efforts.  He is the Lid holding his business and his productivity back.  We are going to remedy this situation, and his business is going to explode.

You have heard that delegation is a good idea, but can you articulate why?  As the CEO of you, there are certain tasks that only you can do.  These are the high-dollar activities or the high value creation activities.  You want to delegate everything else so that you can focus on those activities.  Said another way, anything that anyone else can do, they should do.  This frees you up to do only things that only you can do.

To effectively accomplish this, you must do 3 things:

  1. Catalogue your activities – Before you can delegate, you must know with clarity all the activities that take up your time.  The best way to do this is to catalogue everything that you spend time on for a week.  Write it all down.  Some of you just rolled your eyes.  Don’t skip this step.  Write it all down.
  2. Triage – The triage step involves deciding which are the high dollar activities and which need to be delegated.  Ask yourself, “If I could only do 3 of these activities, which ones would they be?”  Some you will simply want to delete and stop doing entirely.  This step gives you clarity of purpose.  It also gives you the job description for the team member or virtual assistant that you may add.  If you already have an assistant or team in place, this list is now their playbook.
  3. Know what you are worth! – Many of you will be tempted to simply read this and move on with your life.  I challenge you not to.  Go through this with me.  You will thank me.

I’m going to use round numbers.  Let’s assume that you work 50 weeks a year and 40 hours a week.  Now write down what your income goal for the year is.  Great.  The math looks like this.

50 weeks x 40 hours/week = 2,000 hours worked in a year

Income Goal  / 2,000 hours = your value per hour

If you want to make $100,000 this year, then $100,000 / 2,000 hours = $50/hr.  If you want to make $400,000 this year, then your are worth $200/hr.

Rod Santomassimo, the president and founder of the coaching firm the Massimo-Group, knows his number.  He has a note on his desk that reads, “Is what you are doing right now worth $___/hr?  If not, stop doing it!”  This is why you must know your worth.  It allows you to effectively focus on the activities that maximize your effectiveness and earning potential.  Otherwise, you are leaving money on the table.

So what are you worth?  How will knowing this number effect how you lead and work?  Let me know in the comments below!

5 Podcasts that Will Make You Smarter

Recently, I was able to connect with one of my closest friends while driving home from a trip to Chicago.  This guy is the kind of friend that everyone needs.  He was in my wedding.  I was in his.  We were fraternity brothers at Murray State University.  He was the quarterback.  I was the receiver.  We even dated the same beautiful Southern girl (not at the same time) who I now get to call my wife.

iStockPhoto via jodijacobson

iStockPhoto via jodijacobson

He is the kind of friend when you haven’t spoken for a year, it is like it was yesterday.  Everyone needs at least one friend like this.  I am blessed to have a couple.

My friend was sharing with me an opportunity he has to leave the corporate world and start a business.  He has created something special that could be incredibly valuable to his customers and himself.  However, he told me that he doesn’t think he’ll do anything because he doesn’t have a clue about starting or running a business.

Fifteen minutes later I had brain-dumped all this information on him.  Now, I have started a business (that failed), and I have owned a business that I sold.  But the stuff that I was telling him surprised me.  How did I know this stuff?

Then it occurred to me that I was repeating a lot of great information that I had learned through listening to some incredible podcasts from businesses leaders across the United States (actually, most of them are in Nashville).

If you are not familiar with a Podcast, it is literally someone recording themselves speaking about some subject.  It is much like a radio show.  However, you can download these podcasts on your iPod, iPhone, or other smart-phone or mp3 player.  You simply subscribe through iTunes – for free – and they automatically download whenever a new episode is published.

Before I share with you which ones I love and recommend, let me share with you how I consume this information:

  • While working out - I can kill two birds with one stone when I engage my mind and my body at the same time.
  • While driving – great content is so much more effective than coffee at keeping me alert.  Not only that, but I can transform my car into a classroom and make the most of every moment.
  • On a plane – I’m actually on a plane as I write this somewhere between Nashville and Atlanta.  Were I not writing, I guarantee that I would be listening to one of the following podcasts.

My Top 5 Recommended Podcasts

  1. This is Your Life, A Podcast by Michael Hyatt – If you aren’t familiar with Michael Hyatt, you should be.  He has a top 100 (in the world!) blog on intentional leadership.  He has recently written a New York Times Bestseller called Platform:  Get Noticed in a Noisy World.  His is by far my favorite blog and his content is amazing.  His podcast is awesome too.  He is authentic.  You end up just liking him.  I get to meet him next month at our company’s National Conference where he is giving the keynote address.  I am also going to his Platform Conference the following week in Nashville.  Can’t wait!
  2. 48Days Online Radio Show by Dan MillerDan Miller rocks.  A mentor of mine suggested that I connect with him last year.  I ended up hiring him as a career coach.  He is also a bestselling author of 48 Days to the Work You Love and other books.  His podcast centers around careers, business plans, business models, and other career related info.  You can’t listen to him and not get fired up about what is possible.
  3. Ray Edwards Podcast - Ray probably has my favorite podcast.  He is very transparent and genuine, and he basically let’s you in on his life.  He is a productivity freak (I mean that in a good way).  His podcast is broken up into segments which I love.  He has a main message of each podcast, but also has a tech tip of the week, a spiritual foundations segment, and a segment with Stu McLaren who is great.  Ray is also a marketing genius.
  4. Entreleadership Podcast – I can’t believe that this is 4th on my list, but the others are just that good.  This is the podcast from Dave Ramsey and his main man Chris LoCurto.  Every show has a short message from Dave that sets the theme, but then they move to a guest interview.  The guests are amazing and are a who’s who when it comes to business.  You can’t get this kind of access to this kind of wisdom and experience anywhere else I’m aware.
  5. Podcast Answer Man with Cliff Ravenscraft - This podcast is obviously a little more technical.  I include it because at least the first three podcasts listed above are a result of Cliff’s expertise.  He is the expert when it comes to podcasting.  I hope to introduce my own podcast this year so I have been studying up.  Cliff is also a Kentucky boy like myself!

In one sentence, these podcasts are like being able to sit at the feet of these guys and learn from their wisdom.  And it’s free!

So who do you listen to that I don’t?  Who would crack your top 5?  Let us know in the comment section below!

The One Secret to Winning the Business Every Time

When I started in the Commercial Real Estate Business, I knew that the listing presentation was important.  Very important. I wrote and rewrote.  I practiced and then practiced some more.  I would record myself and play it back while I was driving.

iStockPhoto by hidesy

iStockPhoto by hidesy

It was canned.  I would give that same presentation to an elderly couple wanting to sell their land.  I would give it to a bank looking to relocate a branch.  I would give it to the owner of an office building that needed to lease space.  It didn’t matter who it was.  I had it down.

I would talk about the experience of our company (this was important because I had little experience at the time.)  I would talk about successful transactions we had closed.  I would talk about my Marine Corps service (the only thing I had going for me at the time.)  I would talk about how young and hungry I was.  It was all about me.  This, I believe, is what the normal CRE listing presentation looks like.

Through much reading, coaching, and mentoring, I learned there is a much better way.  I was taught the secret.  Before I give it to you, let me tell you a story.

Not too long ago, I received an opportunity through a referral from a CPA (if you aren’t pursuing relationships with CPA’s, smack yourself and start tomorrow.)  Instead of preparing a canned listing presentation for the client’s portfolio of properties, I simply scheduled a meeting.  All I did in that meeting was ask questions.  I didn’t talk at all about me, our company, or my experience – zip.

By the end of that meeting, I knew a few things I didn’t know before.  This prospect was tired of the management and unpredictable net income of multifamily property.  I knew that the prospect wanted to simplify.  I knew that the prospect wanted to be able to hold me accountable throughout the listing.  I knew that communication was extremely important.

I then took that information and crafted a client-centric, customized, benefit driven presentation.  I explained how selling these properties could eliminate the hassle of tenant turnover, dealing with management companies, and fluctuating income.  I showed how a shift to Single Tenant Net Leased properties would essentially produce stable mailbox money.

I explained our commitment to transparency and accountability.  I showed how I could give the prospect 24/7 access to our activities through our cloud-based CRM system, ClientLook.  I promised our commitment to regular communication.  I won the listing over our competition at a higher fee.

If you haven’t figured it out, the secret to winning the business is the Needs-Analysis Interview.  There are many versions of this interview that you can find. I’m not going to plagiarize any of them here.  I am going to give you keys that must be present for this to work.

  1. You have to be authentic – People can tell when you are blowing smoke.  If they care about communication, and you promise it to them, you must be committed to delivering.  If not, they are going to tell all their colleagues.  In the story above, I discovered the prospects highest needs, and then fed them back in a custom listing presentation.  This only works if you are being authentic.
  2. You have to care – Discovering the needs of your prospect is all about putting their needs before your own.  It is about them.  It is about taking the time to craft from your capabilities the solution that meets their needs.  It is about making a difference in solving their problem or helping them capitalize on an opportunity.
  3. You must seek their pain points – You could also say that must understand the opportunity they are trying to seize.  Are they trying to simplify?  Are they trying to pass down a legacy of financial freedom and wealth?  Are they trying to get out from under a mountain of debt and stress that is wrecking their lives?  What is causing them pain.  Learn this and you will be able to earn the business.
  4. You must understand their highest interests – Is maximizing the value their highest interest?  Or is it speed?  How important is visibility to that tenant?  Will they give on price to get the lease term they want?  You can not go to battle for your clients if you don’t know what their desired outcome is.

So I challenge you.  The next opportunity you have at new business, stop.  Don’t go blazing in with your canned presentation.  Schedule the needs-analysis interview.  Let them explain to you how to win their business.  Learn to ask questions and listen, and watch your business explode.

I’d love to hear some stories of how you have used this secret to win business?  Or how do you plan to implement this into your business this year and beyond?  Comment below!

Top 5 Productivity Posts of 2012

This is the second of the three Top 5 posts you will read this month on theBarronBlog - (click here for the first.)  Today’s Top 5 is around the theme of productivity.  Growth in this area simply means that you are more efficient.  You can get more done in less time.  With more time saved, you can improve your work/life balance – be a better spouse, parent, or friend.  Invest in your relationships.  Live a healthier life.  You can do it, and the posts below can help!

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But First…

Before you get to the posts below, I want to remind you of my favorite discovery of 2012 – The Dollar Shave Club.  This ingenious company produces a great product at an awesome price, and ships razors to your door every month.  No more over-paying for razors.  No more spending time at the store buying them.  I endorse this product 100%.  Guys, do yourself a favor and check it out for yourself here.  Ladies, my mom as well as some of my friends’ wives have signed up their husbands – great gift idea!  Click here for more info (this is an affiliate link, but I do not recommend anything that I do not use myself.)

Top 5 Productivity Posts of 2012

The 5 Steps to a Paperless Office - The key to pulling that off was having a paperless office.  All my data is in the cloud.  All my data is accessible to me anywhere my iPhone has a signal.  I can access it on the fly.  It means I can jump on opportunities with lightning speed.  And speed kills.  Read more…

How to Shave 30 Minutes a Day Managing Email - Email has now become a drug, and we are addicted.  As a major form of communication in the Commercial Real Estate industry, many CRE practitioners feel like they must check their smart phone every five minutes.  Show of hands:  who checks their phone before they even get out of bed?  Guilty here.  Read more…

The 17 Rules of Email Etiquette - My biggest beef with email is its ability to interrupt me.  The nature of my business requires me to be doing multiple things.  I am not a natural multi-tasker.  I much prefer to hone in on a task and focus all my energy on it.  I rarely get to do this.  I am also easily distracted.  The ding and notification that announces every email can cost me 5 – 60 minutes if I let it.  I routinely get 200+ emails a day.  That equates to 200+ opportunities to be distracted from what is important to what is less important but potentially urgent. Read more…

My Tools to Manage Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day - Let me clarify.  In one of my previous posts – The Rule of Thirds – I shared the 3 types of tweets that you should be using:  curating original or other great content, engaging with others, and getting a little personal.  The key to the first category of curating original or other great content is getting the tweets done and scheduled at one time.  Read more…

The 7 Rules of Conference Call Etiquette - Alas, the conference call is still sometimes a necessity.  On a recent call, there were 2 different people trying to lead the call (one of them was me).  There were over a dozen people on the call from 4 different time zones.  I couldn’t tell who was speaking.  People were talking over each other.  It was a free-for-all.  Read more…

So as we wrap of the year, what are the areas in your life where you have seen the most growth in productivity?

Top 5 CRE Posts of 2012

It is that time of year when we pause and reflect.  Over the remaining days of 2012, I will be posting my “Top Posts” of 2012 in the categories of Commercial Real Estate, technology, and productivity.  Even though I just started blogging in earnest in Sept, we have over 50 posts to choose from in these categories.

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Quick Announcement

If you have not done so already, I invite you to sign up to follow this blog via email.  You can click on the link to the right to sign up.  I am working on some exciting projects for 2013, and this is the way to find out first.  You will also be notified every time there is a new post.

Top 5 CRE Posts of 2012

The Difference Between a CRE Broker and a Drug Dealer - Here’s what I mean.  To say that I am a Commercial Real Estate Broker I would literally say:  ”I am a broker in the buying and selling of real estate.”  The problem is that the word for real estate is also the word for illegal drugs.  So, if you don’t know me or have any context to give you a clue, you would not know if I’m saying that I’m a CRE broker or a drug dealer.  Context is everything.  Read more…

The 8 Steps to a Killer Prospecting System - I want to clarify what I mean by prospecting.  Prospecting is a form of business development.  Networking and building a presence – or a platform – is another form of business development.  Their activities are similar.  Their purpose is completely different.  (To read about the difference between prospecting and networking, click here.)  Prospecting involves asking for the business.  That is its only purpose.  Read more…

The Difference Between Top Producers and the Others - In my coaching business with the Massimo Group, I have also had the great privilege of coach CRE throughout the United States and Canada.  From the catbird’s seat, I have gotten to see what top producers do that all the others do not. Read more…

The 12 Keys to Becoming a Top Producer – Faster!  Part 1 - The Commercial Real Estate industry – or any industry really – is often so different from the Marine Corps.  I’m specifically thinking about advancement – growth – achievement.  In the Marines, there was a formula for promotion – at least at the lower enlisted ranks.  I knew exactly how to earn promotion.  Read more…

The 12 Keys to Becoming a Top Producer – Faster!  Part 2 - Top producers are team oriented.  Top Producers are not loners.  They don’t try to do everything.  They understand the value of a team.  And not only just having a team, but maximizing the production of that team.  Rod Santomassimo discusses this in his best-selling CRE book – Brokers Who Dominate.  Beyond the fact that I am profiled – along with about 22 others – this is must reading for any CRE practitioner.  Read more…

As I began this post, this is the time of year to reflect.  What were your Top 5 most productive activities this year?  Please share them with us.  We’d love to learn from you!

Friday Quote to Motivate: Head of the Class

If you are always the head of the class, then you’re in the wrong class.  The best place to learn is always where others are ahead of you.  ~ John Maxwell from his new best seller The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.

iStock_000009922777XSmall

How to Turn Failure into Motivation

This is a guest post written by Major Mike Arnett.  Not only is Mike a world-class Army doctor, he was also my college roommate and easily one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

A few weeks ago, I had dinner with my old friend, Bo Barron.  Bo was on the way to the airport in Nashville.   He was flying to Connecticut where he would be speaking on the use of technology in the commercial real estate industry.  Bo is my only friend from college who has served in the military, and there is a bond between those who have worn the uniform of our country – even between Jarheads and G.I.s.  It was an ideal way to spend Veteran’s Day evening: eating great deep-dish pizza, drinking a great beer, and telling war stories with a great friend.

Major Mike Arnett and Bo Barron. Taken by Mike’s 6-year-old son.

In reference to his upcoming speaking engagement, Bo told me of his passion for speaking to groups.  He then asked me if I remembered a Beta Club speech competition in 1993.  I honestly have no recollection of that district round.  Quite conversely, Bo has an extremely vivid memory of the event.  He clearly remembers me beating him in the districts to deprive him of a trip to Louisville.  This was two years before we would become friends and roommates at Murray State University.

Bo responded to this defeat by committing to his public speaking skills, seeking out opportunities for speaking engagements, and building his confidence in front of a group.  Now, he travels from his corner of Western Kentucky to New England (among others) for corporate speaking engagements.

I have a very similar experience with an 8th grade football teammate, David Campbell*.  David was scrawny even by middle school standards.  Considered that I topped out at 5’7″, it takes a diminutive form for me to use the label “short.” During the football banquet that year, I was surprised to hear that the academic award for highest GPA went to David.  It turns out that my good grades were still short of his 4.0 GPA.  I knew that I would never be the offensive star, but I figured that I could study harder than David and get that award in 9th grade.

That is exactly what I did.  With a 10×14 wooden plaque supporting a plastic football player as my only motivation for academic excellence, I made a 4.0 and received that academic award.  Holding that award was extremely gratifying, and I took much pride in achieving my goal. Spring semester of my freshman year, I continued taking the same classes and it was not particularly difficult to maintain the same study habits so I kept making As.

During my sophomore season, David did not try out for the team but there were some smart upper class-men, and I really wanted another award.  So, I committed myself to winning the academic award again.  I studied on the J.V. bus during away games.  I used the time in between school and practice to complete small sections of homework.  It went as planned.  I received another 4.0 for the fall semester and another plastic football player.

At the end of our sophomore year, the school released the class standings.  I was surprised to see that I was tied for class valedictorian.  The potential of a much greater accolade motivated me for the next two years.  The study habits and decision-making patterns that I developed out of pursuit of an award with a plastic football player resulted in a full academic scholarship to college.

You will experience failures in your personal and professional lives.  It should not be the failed goal that defines the experience but the way that we respond to the failure.  Consider reflecting on these questions:

  1. Why did I not achieve my goal?
  2. What do I need to change or improve?
  3. What do I need to give up in order to spend my time more productively and succeed?
  4. How can I get better?  Be as specific as possible.

To this day, I consider my disappointing 8th grade football banquet as one of the pivotal moments of my life and David Campbell has my eternal gratitude for his unintentional influence on my academic career.  Likewise, I am glad that Bo Barron holds no grudges.

So what failures in your life have led to pivotal moments?  What failures have you wasted?  We would love to hear from you!