“Real Influence — Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In,” by Mark Coulston and John Ullmen (Amacom, 2013).
The authors are both doctors — Mark Coulston is an M.D. and John Ullmen a Ph.D. — and this easy-to-read and enjoyable book is a prescription for success, a way to get your ideas in front of people who count — no easy thing, since, these days, much promotion and sales effort seems flat-out manipulative.
The first words, in the book’s introduction, set the tone: “Are you frustrated because you fail to get people to buy into your great ideas, can’t close the deal on tough sales, or constantly hit the wall when you try to influence people?”
Did you know there is disconnected influence and connected influence? “Real Influence” is about the latter: connected influence. Disconnected influence is short-term and often creates longstanding problems. Connected influence is about creating strong influence by becoming the kind of person others “are eager to follow.”
No one wants to be bullied, wheedled or manipulated. So, how do you get to be someone who has a following? The clear answer is that “Real Influence” is going to lead you along the right path, a way for you to become a thought leader and to interact in ways you never thought possible.
“Delight Your Customers — 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary,” by Steve Curtin (Amacom, 2013).
Author Curtin spent 20 years with Marriott International; he should know about customers. He now has his own customer service consulting firm in Denver.
Steve Curtin points out that most of the customer service we experience today — Zappos, Disney, Nordstrom and similar companies excepted — is lousy. “Does a photographer have to convey authentic enthusiasm for photographing children? Of course not. It’s optional. Does a hotel front desk agent have to provide a pleasant surprise by spontaneously upgrading guests to a premium room with ocean views? No. Her decision is voluntary.” You see where this is going, yes? “Most people don’t choose to deliver poor customer service. They just don’t choose to deliver exceptional customer service.”
Curtin knows his stuff. Lots of this starts with managers, who need to remind employees about excellence — not what’s required, but how one gets from there to exceptional.
How does this apply to investment advisors? Pretty much all over the place and in your face. For example, ordinary would be automating a direct mail campaign in order to remain in touch with clients. Extraordinary would be “personalizing such a mailing with handwritten notes in order to foster authentic relationships.”