The next morning, Susie woke far too early again and started her morning jog before dawn. Energized, she finished, quickly showered and dressed, grabbed her notebook, and took the long way to Bennie’s café, savoring this new feeling and this moment in her life. It still felt like a beginning. And it felt good.
At 8:00 a.m., she walked into the café and saw Highground chatting with Bennie behind the counter. They both greeted her with big smiles, and Highground strolled over, waving her to a table up front where they could see the water.
“How are you doing this morning?” Highground wanted to know as they sat down.
“Oh, David. Great, just great!”
That pleased Highground tremendously. “I can see the transformation happening before my eyes. You are hardly the same woman I met four days ago.”
“Thanks to you.”
“That’s my plan.”
“Let’s get out your notebook.”
Susie zipped out the notebook and plopped it open to the Goal 8 and 9 pages she had filled in the day before.
Highground examined her work and nodded approvingly, patting the notebook. “Susie, what I’d like for us to do this morning is to review all you’ve experienced the last three days and then talk about your plans for the future—your newfound plan of action. Okay?
“So I can better guide you, give me a brief overview of the five principles you’ve learned and the lightbulb moments you’ve experienced in the last three days.”
Flipping to the overview page, just before her goals in her notebook, Susie sat up, straightened her back, and confidently responded, “No problem, David.”
“In our initial meeting, I received my first aha learning that we are all wired differently and have specific God-given gifts that translate into our own inherent talents. You described how others see us and how we see ourselves. I learned that I will have more confidence in myself and become more productive when I identify and focus on my God-given gifts and abilities. By embracing my gifts and abilities, I’m embracing and focusing on who I truly am, and I am better able to demonstrate authenticity. When I do, I will speak with my authentic voice, and others will resonate with it.
“Sheila Marie outlined the 250 by 250 Rule and the exponential power of not only who I know but, more importantly, the 250 people my clients and associates know. My potential sphere of influence is based on the people in my database times the number of people they know, of which I need a calculator to figure out because the number is so huge.
“Paul taught me how to categorize my database into As, Bs and Cs. As are those that have referred me in the past or I’m certain would refer me if I invested some time to educate them to do so. My As are my power advocates. My Bs are those I think might refer me if I educated them to do so, and my Cs are those I’m simply not sure would refer me even if I educated them to do so.” With a giggle, she added, “Oh yeah, my Ds are clients that have sucked the life energy out of me, and I’ve given myself permission to say no thank you to them and refer them to someone else.
“My whole focus with everyone in my database is to move my Cs and Bs to As and place a special focus on my As. Meanwhile, I will educate all the people in my database that they win when I win with their referrals. They win by referring people to me because it allows me to spend my resources and time on meeting their needs, as opposed to spending those resources on my outbound marketing efforts.
“Paul also gave me a big-time aha as he outlined how to identify and focus on my Perfect Client Avatar, or PCA. By identifying my PCA, I will become more productive in moving my business to the next level by getting referred to the right clients.
“Oh, and this definitely comes under the heading of a lightbulb moment, you really helped me with my anxiety of not personally connecting with others. You shared the story about your lawyer friend KT and his process of communicating from his third level to personally connect with others. His three levels of communication were so simple to understand but huge. I’ve used the model several times since you shared it with me.
“Then, Philip explained Principle 3, which is Just Let Me Know. That phrase helps me remember to lead with a helping hand; it’s the golden rule in action. Philip succinctly explained that Just Let Me Know is the daily reminder to encourage me to put the relationship first with my clients and associates.
“Continually asking your clients if you can help them in any way in writing and then doing so, is fundamental to the success of the process. When we do these things consistently, we are better positioned to ask our clients for a referral because we have earned the right to do so. And when we promise to treat the referred person just like we have treated our clients, they have experiential knowledge of how we will treat their referral.”
Smiling, she added, “And like Sara said, depending how we treated them, that could mean two different things. Bottom line, if we’ve treated them right, then we will get the positive responses we want.
“And Thursday, Sara explained the fourth principle, which is to communicate consistently, personally, and systematically with my entire database. By putting this principle into action, I will get a hall pass, to contact anyone in my database anytime—for any reason.”
Susie looked up from her notebook and said, “Which leads me to the meeting I had yesterday with Jeanne. I now understand there are five components of social proof and how social proof fits into what I’m learning.”
Susie pointed her index finger at her last note and said, “I’m now in the process of developing at least twenty-five testimonials and/or online reviews and three case studies that will allow me to enter the conversation that’s going on in my prospects’ heads to answer their objections and encourage them to engage my services so I won’t feel like I have to push them into anything.”
Nodding and smiling his approval, Highground quickly responded, “Awesome. Well done, Susie, well done! And if I was making an educated guess, and I am, I would say my newly graduated protégé is definitely a business-relational. Initially you connect at a business level, the way you just cut through that overview—very linear, very professional, and definitely all business!”
Susie sighed. “I have to tell you, David, Philip called you a ‘game changer,’ and that is exactly what you are. You change people’s games, which changes their attitudes and outlooks. You encourage others to focus on the things that matter most. In doing so you helped me clearly see a path for success in my business. A person’s attitude can change only when his or her game changes, and that’s what you, along with your friends, have done for me the past several days. You’ve helped me see the light and given me the process to achieve success. For that I am very appreciative.”
That seemed to please him deeply. “Thank you. But, as I said, it’s really up to you now.”
“But now I know the combination!” Susie said, pointing to the notebook page before them. It was the “Right Combination for Success” drawing of Principle 5 that showed all five principles and the lock popped open. “You know, I smiled when I saw that last lock open on Principle 5 the very first day you gave me the notebook, even before I knew about the power of putting this philosophy and process in place. Now it makes me smile even more.”
Highground titled his head toward the picture and smiled, too. “The combination can unlock a whole new world.” He flipped back to her goal sheets. “And from the looks of these goals, you’re halfway there. You have projected yourself into the future several weeks for each goal and have done it admirably. You have visualized accomplishing your goals. And your tasks to reach your goals are simple and achievable, which makes each goal reasonably attainable. Good for you. My bet is you’ll attain them.”
That made Susie beam.
“You know where I’d like us to start?” he suddenly decided. “Why don’t you explain to me where you were three days ago and where you are right now.”
Susie laughed. “Do you realize I almost didn’t call you because I was about to give up? That’s where I was. My biggest frustration was that I had no plan for who I talked to about my products or services and what to do with them after I made contact. I was either coming on too strong or I simply couldn’t connect with them at all, so how could I develop a relationship?
“I thought I needed some grandiose marketing or advertising plan that would save me. I was continually looking toward tomorrow and hoping the perfect plan would just appear. When it didn’t, I hit the wall and that’s when we met. You know,” she realized, “strangely enough, what I had been hoping for did appear—when Bennie referred me to you.”
That’s when Bennie appeared at her elbow carrying her usual hazelnut coffee with steamed milk and a chocolate-covered biscotti, just like the one he pushed toward her four days earlier to coax her into telling him her problems. He pushed it—ceremoniously—across the table toward her.
Susie loved the gesture, laughing out loud.
“It’s amazing what ninety-six hours can do for a person, isn’t it? When the student is ready, the teacher appears,” Bennie said, patting Highground on the shoulder before going back to his work.
“How long ago did he begin your process?” Susie asked Highground, gazing appreciatively at Bennie.
“About five years ago. And it may not surprise you to know that he was referred to me by a friend of his, too.”
“No, that doesn’t surprise me at all—now.” She dunked her chocolate-covered biscotti into her coffee and took a big bite out of it.
“Well, you know what happened after that. Now I have a proactive plan that fits me. I don’t feel the need to try to imitate someone else,” she said.
“And I understand and appreciate the old saying that it’s eleven times more expensive to find a new client than to keep an existing one,” she added, enjoying her biscotti. In fact, she seemed to be enjoying everything more this morning.
“My problem was I didn’t have a system in place to keep my existing clients by communicating with them regularly enough, let alone ask them for referrals. But I now have your philosophy and process, which puts the relationship first, is based on the golden rule, and can demonstrate my consistency and earn me the right to ask for and receive, hopefully, referrals that match my Perfect Client Avatar from those that refer me.”
“As soon as you begin to live it, Susie, it is your process. Like everyone else, you will make it your own. You will experience the success of staying the course by putting the relationship first.”
“And I’ll be proud to claim it because it seems to me that the beauty of the process, especially the Relationship Development Program, is the planned way it communicates.
“So many people talk about communicating with their database, but few do, other than sending an occasional mailer trying to sell something else or bragging about the sender. But I truly believe that when I tell my client to just let me know if I can help in any way, I will be prepared to give help. And then when I ask if the client has any friends or associates that could use my services and promise to treat them as I have treated that client, it will mean something. Because I’ve proved myself through consistency, right? Through staying the course, by staying in touch and putting the relationship first.”
Highground sat back and shook his head. “That is such a nice way of putting it.” He looked proudly at his protégé. “It’s obvious you have come into your own now, Susie. This is always such a high point for me.”
But Susie wasn’t finished. “You know, before I met you, if someone gave me a card, I put it in my drawer with all the other cards I collected and never did follow up appropriately with any of them. When I finally got around to calling about something I was offering, so much time had passed since the last time I’d made contact, I felt like a fake, a counterfeit, calling and acting as if I were interested in the relationship. But both of us knew the real reason I was calling. I was acting like an opportunist, and the way that made me feel was what was holding me back. My stomach kept turning because I didn’t feel I was being authentic. I know that now.”
Susie smiled. “But everything is going to change. Now, I will be doing things the old-fashioned way—I will earn the right to ask for a referral. I understand these great principles and how they apply to business. I will be in touch with the people in my life on a regular basis, and I now know how to actually do that, communicating with them and consistently leading with a helping hand.
“And I intuitively feel that many of them will be impressed for the sole reason that they have always wanted to do business like this and have a process to communicate this way themselves but never knew exactly how.”
“Thank you,” Susie said and clinked her coffee cup with his. Then she dunked the last of her biscotti and popped it in her mouth. “You can’t imagine how proud I am of myself. But I’ll be even prouder once this whole system is up and rolling and I’m living it every day.”
“Exactly. You have an excellent grasp of the philosophy and the process. Now I encourage you to stay the course for three months. Work at it, Susie. Do it. Because if you do, you will settle into a routine that will be unique to you.”
Highground placed a piece of paper on Susie’s notebook. “Put this in your notebook. It’s my ‘Next Steps List’ for you. It is simply a list of the twenty most important next steps, events to schedule into your day to get this process going. Once the system is set, you have an instant relational gateway into every new contact you make, and you have the special ability to touch everyone regularly, without fail. Just set it into motion and stay the course.
“Remember, after you have demonstrated consistency with clients you already have relationships with, you will never have competition again. You will own the relationship in the same wonderful way that you can claim a friend.”
Susie looked excitedly at the Next Steps List and immediately began to make notations on it, thinking ahead to when she could get started on everything.
1. Trust and embrace your God-given gifts and abilities. Be transparent and speak with your authentic voice.
2. Finish your list of initial names. Call and verify addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses.
3. ABC all the names and then select a contact manager or CRM system. Make sure you have the ability to set custom ABC fields and groups to easily manage.
4. Research and select an online print supplier for cards and other print communications, and select a trusted contract database professional or virtual assistant that can manage your mail and print service. Outline your twelve-month Relationship Development Program. List the program tasks needed each month to deliver without fail.
5. Take the time to list the characteristics of your Perfect Client Avatar. When writing copy for advertising or selecting gift suppliers, do so with your Perfect Client Avatar in mind.
6. Select one or two online catalog companies to help you develop and deliver on your Show Your Appreciation! items. Make sure you can integrate your database with the companies you choose so your gifts can be processed without difficulty.
7. Purchase personalized thank-you notes. Immediately send them after every meeting upon gaining permission to add the person to your database, receiving a referral, or to simply say thank you.
8. Finalize your Show Your Appreciation! Program. Set an appropriate budget for yourself and frontline personnel, referral gifts, and standard holiday gifts in addition to your communication program.
10. Send your version of the confession letter to your database.
11. Put in process the steps to acquire twenty-five testimonials and/or online reviews (social proof tipping point). Identify your three case study candidates to separately handle the three major objections you experience when presenting your product or service.
12. Develop a plan to follow up with everyone in your database. Ask for birthdays (not years) and anniversaries if appropriate. Enter them into your database.
13. Set personal meetings with your As and explain your new philosophy. After you’ve asked them what you can do for them, ask who else they know that they think you should be talking to about your services.
14. If you want a larger sphere of influence, adopt a database. Call everyone on your newly adopted list and ask permission to start communicating.
15. Educate everyone on your team about how your philosophy and process works. Incorporate the principles into your culture.
16. Call all the people who “make money when you make money”—primarily your vendors and associated businesses that can serve your clients. Explain how your program works, and ask them if they want to join your cloud-based referral team to reciprocate referrals.
17. Lead and recruit a cloud-based referral team and, like Philip did, print out the pages listing your team members and create your own cover for a printed referral team directory to use in your presentations.
18. Incorporate into your initial sales presentation how you put relationships first and what the value is to your clients. When you deliver on your promises, follow up with clients and ask for their referrals.
19. Use your newfound “hall pass” and make a scheduled call to everyone in your database at least once a year. If you have developed a birthday card program, make the call after you have sent out the birthday card, calling to say “happy birthday.” Ask how you might help the person and ask for a referral or an appointment if appropriate.
20. Always, always ask what you might do for the person you call and always, always remind the person that your business is built on the good opinion of others. Then always ask for a referral.
When she finished scanning the list, she noticed that Highground had stood up. “You are going to do great, Susie. Make sure you check off each step after you complete it, and stay true to your promise to me and yourself. Stay the course.”
He smiled. “It’s been a pleasure getting to know you and working with you. If I can help you in any way at all, just let me know. And if you have any friends that can benefit from the concepts I shared, pass them on. Share them, and you will be personally blessed by doing so. It’s the good stuff, Susie—it’s the golden rule!”
“Do you have to leave?” Susie said, suddenly rather sad.
“See you, old friend!” she heard Bennie call from behind her. She looked around at Bennie, and when she turned back, David Highground, her personal game changer and mentor, was disappearing into the late afternoon sunshine.
Susie could only shake her head again. She picked up her notebook and the Next Steps List that Highground had given her and then got to her feet, too. And with a big smile for Bennie, she said, “You know, the day is not over yet and I’ve got things to do! See you later, Bennie!”
Bennie watched Susie leave. She had a bounce in her step that was missing a few days ago. “The highground will do that for you,” he murmured, picking up the last of their dishes and feeling a deep sense of satisfaction at his role in the drama. Susie McCumber’s professional transformation, he thought to himself, enjoying the sound of it. He liked Susie, and he had no doubt the highground was for her.
Besides, he realized with a happy smile as he headed back behind his antique oak counter, it didn’t hurt that even though there were other coffee places in town, there would be only one that Susie McCumber would continue to frequent, not to mention tell all her friends and clients about—and that was the California Coffee Café and Bistro.