...You Learned in Kindergarten
I dropped my kids off for their first day of school last week, and I must admit I breathed a sigh of relief. Summer is fun, but there is something about that steady routine the school year brings that makes things a little less chaotic.
In honor of the new school year, here are some valuable lessons we all learned decades ago that are still applicable today, even in the business world.
Kindergarten is many kids’ first foray into broader society, and a lot of the learning that goes on in those classrooms can be considered communications 101. These lessons don’t actually encompass all that you need to know to successfully market your skills or products, but they give you a really solid foundation to build on.
Pay attention to the teacher
When you are trying to sell people something, whether it’s the newest widget or window cleaning, you have to constantly learn what works and adjust accordingly.
We say “the customer is always right,” and in a way it’s true – if you need to convince Brian to buy your widgets, then Brian is your textbook for how to sell widgets. Or your teacher, if you will.
Pay attention! Listen, really listen, to the things your customers and clients tell you. Watch their body language. Ask clarifying questions.
Understanding your customer is key to marketing success. So much of good communication (and marketing is communication) is just good listening.
Pay attention to the teacher!
As entrepreneurs, movers and shakers, it’s easy to get very single-minded. We have a goal and we know how to get there (or so we think!), and no obstacle can stop us.
Except some of those “obstacles” are actually important people, ideas and situations that should factor in to our decision-making process. Some of them are new developments or processes that can make our efforts more successful!
So, keep plowing on towards your objective, but also stop talking and let the quiet kids say their piece every now and then. They can have some very good ideas.
Keep your promises
Being perceived as trustworthy is a crucial part of marketing as well. The best way to be perceived as trustworthy, of course, is to be trustworthy.
It is natural to want to promise the moon in order to make a sale, set an appointment, get that signature. Maybe it works, too! But remember that if you don’t deliver on your wild promises, all your credibility goes out the window.
Better to underpromise and overdeliver. It’s ok to say, “no, I cannot guarantee that your dog will smell like rainbows if you buy these treats.” It’s ok to say, “this is not a good fit for you; maybe you should try someone else.”
Manage client expectations by learning your limits and being realistic. Don’t be that kid who claims his uncle is an elephant – but you can’t see him ‘cause he went to the moon.
Never give up
The world’s most successful people have backstories riddled with spectacular failures. That’s because the true secret of success is failure.
Nobody succeeds the first time they try something new. Life is all about learning and growing. If something isn’t working, maybe you can think about it a different way! Did you make a mistake? Now you’ll know what not to do next time.
If you give up, you will never get where you want to go. If you get up and keep going every time you fall down then the world is your oyster.
Don’t be a bully
High pressure sales people probably have a special place in Dante’s inferno.
Please don’t coerce, force, threaten or otherwise act like a bully in your business practice. Everyone hates a bully. You can catch more bears with honey than bear traps (don’t try this at home!).
Remember that long-term, loyal customers are the key to a successful and stable business. Treat prospective clients like a long-awaited date rather than a shanghaied hostage.
Put your things away
Ah, personal responsibility – so simple. Why do we spend a lifetime learning it?
Own your mistakes.
Keep your finances in order.
Know where your car registration is.
Make that dentist appointment.
This may seem like a stretch, but you know, deep down, that sticking to a system – whatever that system is – makes everything run more smoothly. Add a little self-discipline to your business routine and watch the magic happen!
Or, at the very least, you’ll know where your car registration is.
What life lessons did you learn in school that you use every day? Let us know in the comments!