Mark Bowser, Motivational Business Speaker & Author and President/CEO, Empowering Enterprises, Inc.
Mark Bowser is a proven leader with experience. Experience that makes a difference! Motivational Business Speaker Mark Bowser is a corporate training expert in the areas of Leadership, Customer Service, Sales, and Personal Development. Some of the world’s top organizations lean on Mark to take them to the next level of excellence. He can do the same for you!
Mark is the President/CEO of Empowering Enterprises, Inc., which is a corporate training and development company helping businesses, organizations, and individuals reach peak performance.
AUTOMATED EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
[00:00:01] You're listening to Scaling Up Services where we speak with entrepreneurs authors business experts and thought leaders to give you the knowledge and insights you need to scale your service based business faster and easier. And now here is your host Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt.
[00:00:20] Welcome everyone, this is Scaling up Services. I'm Bruce Eckfeldt. I'm your host and our guest today is Mark Bowser and Mark is a speaker trainer and author of several books including sale success with Zig Ziglar. And we're gonna talk to him about sales we can talk about growth of companies with that. Mark welcome to the program.
[00:00:36] Well thank you Bruce it's good to be able to be here with you today. Yeah. I appreciate your time. So let's talk a little bit about your background. Before we get into sales and sales strategy how did you get into the space. What was your professional.
[00:00:48] Well I grew up in a business. My family owns and operates the bright Corporation which is a publishing house in central Indiana. And it's primarily used for the funeral industry. So if somebody wants to get registry books knowledge cards our main customers are funeral directors. And I started working there as a little guy and learning business from the ground up from the back. And then finally into the front office. So they put me into the trenches first to learn what happens from the manufacturing standpoint and so forth which I think gave me an insight. And so I grew up there for many many years and then went to college and came back and was that bright corporation and then I kind of went off for a while and did just the speaking and the training and the writing guy and so at that point I was traveling extensively all across the United States Canada Australia and so forth. Now I've kind of backed up my training schedule a little bit and I'm still I'm still speaking but I'm back at Bright corporation as a V.P. helping take that business to the next level. And so having all kinds of fun there we've we've added two divisions and it's I've been in cells and business my entire life. So answer your question well Steve.
[00:01:57] Yeah I've been there forever. Yes. Well I'm curious to having your early experience on kind of the production side back in the house how did that give you insight or an advantage or an ability and sales.
[00:02:10] Well it gave me an understanding of the process. A lot of salespeople will promise everything oh you need that tomorrow. Oh no problem. And they thought I only had the production managers going. You promised what. And so it gave me an insight of how long it takes to get certain products or certain services out the door. And also to have an understanding of things happen. Murphy's Law happens all the time and as sales professionals we have to make sure that we service that customer but also from a realistic standpoint knowing that things will come up and then how do you handle that with the customer to smooth it out. So it's kind of up I believe that sales and customer service are the same coin Bruce up just coming from different sides sales brings it in the door. Customer service keeps you in the door. And I think the top sales professionals they were both hats. And because you have to be able to service that customer not just closed the deal because anybody can go out there and close a deal. But what happens is if we don't close the right deal if we don't close the right need that person has that buyer's remorse that all of a sudden then the customer service goes out the door. We don't want the revolving doors and something that my dad my uncle did superbly for all those many years is they produced that sales and service where they have customers that go back 20 or 30 years and what do you think about shifting to another company. Well that's that's almost unheard of now today. Yeah.
[00:03:34] And so I kind of what do you what do you think that is like why have we seen kind of a general or shift store trend away from these kind of long term account relationship models for a lot of companies.
[00:03:46] Well I think I think it comes to a couple of things is one is that I don't think service is highlighted as much as it used to be. I mean it is in certain places obviously Disney Southwest Airlines but other than those couple places I think a lot of people take it to the wayside.
[00:04:00] I remember when I was a young speaker when I will say how many years ago that was but when I was a young speaker one of my busiest topics was customer service. Everybody wanted customer service training. I will tell you today Bruce it is very far and few between that companies ask for us to come in and teach their folks how to serve as customers. And to me that's sad because yes because we have a whole generation now workers who don't really understand what it means to service within their industry. So I think that's one of the factors I think the second factor is like my friend and mentor Scott McCain who likes to talk about is distinction is what's happening is every company almost looks like a mirror image of the other company in their marketplace.
[00:04:41] The big store that you shop at probably looks like the big store that I shop at here in the Cincinnati area. There's not that much difference and that's a problem as well. So if we're not servicing customers and we look just like competition what's going to keep it from going next door.
[00:04:54] Yeah yeah. There's really there's there's no there's no barrier to switching.
[00:05:00] Exactly. No. Yeah there's no barrier there's no fault there's no nothing that's gonna harm us. Yes.
[00:05:05] And I find this particularly in service companies just because you know if you're very kind of product or suffer as a service kind of thing it's you know the thing that you end up giving them or they end up getting as a product. You know it's it's very tangible but.
[00:05:18] A service company you know that it's so relationship base or so people base that that what you end up selling and how you end up delivering it is so intertwined that I think this the salesperson and then kind of delivery manager or sort of customer service account manager person ends up being they need to either be highly coordinated and highly systematized or you know the same person so that whatever you sell you're going to have to deliver.
[00:05:44] Well we mentioned Disney a few moments ago. One thing that Walt Disney going way way back that he did so well is that he put the focus of pretty much service on everybody. And if service was on everybody's mantle sales is too because they're the two coins onto one coin if you will. And what happened was like he used to even talk to these security guards and he used to say you know your job is less security and more service. He wanted those security guards to be able to go out there and they saw a need whatever it may be is to put that other hat on within wearing their security hat and go service that particular need. And that was rare that was that was rare back then obviously it's extremely rare today. But if we wear that mantle and I think that's why bright Corporation has been so successful for years because my dad my my grandfather bought business back in 1945. So we've had a long long time. And then my dad my uncle kind of built it up to to the level that it is today and their whole focus was that that voice to voice hand-in-hand with the customer.
[00:06:47] They didn't they didn't want all the in back then it was just beginning of those stages of the voice mail type things and the machines and so forth. They wanted to have that personal contact with the customer. We've kept that to this day is to where if somebody calls into the bright corporation nine times out of ten they're going to get a live person answering that phone any time they would not get a live person during work hours that is is is if all lines are tied up and everybody's already on the phone then obviously going to get a message or something. In fact we're getting ready to update that system to make that a little bit more fruitful to help people. That's rare. How many times do we get put into a a menu driven system that we have to go through seven menus before we even get to the person we want to talk to. And by the time the customer gets to that that live person they're irritated at best ticked off at worst. And there goes the sale.
[00:07:40] So what do you think this happens. I mean is it because people are trying to drive efficiencies and drive down costs until they put these systems in. Or I mean what's is there is there a deeper issue at play here.
[00:07:49] No I think you hit around the head. People are cheap. And what happens is is it really ticks me off as a trainer is when I'm on somebodies menu driven phone system and it says in order to service you more effectively we have the following eleven items you can think of.
[00:08:05] Who are you kidding. That's because you're cheap. That has nothing to do with servicing me. You want to service me and get me to a lie.
[00:08:13] Exactly. Exactly. The other one I always love is pay attention to the options because they have recently changed or something about how nice. Are now. There's been a number of people just like me who push zero but now they've disconnected that. That is not a valid response or even better. They just repeat they just repeat the menu again. Oh there you go. Yeah. Just get me really ticked off. We're just going to ignore that one. Let's try this again.
[00:08:36] Exactly and I may ignore them and go to Company ABC. Yeah yeah I get it.
[00:08:42] So. So what does how do you help companies or what is the process for getting out of that rod or getting out of that mindset.
[00:08:49] I think the first part is a philosophical change is the leadership in particular of that company has to have that philosophical change of understanding of what they have to change. They have to change Tremblay whatever you want to call that their rut they're stuck in. Now to a service mindset once the leadership buys into it then they can help create the culture change is if anybody is a speaker coming in or a consultant coming in or what have you or a manager within the organization. If there is not that upper management that has bought into the philosophical change nothing else is going to work because the culture won't change at that point. I had a similar Bruce many many years ago and I was brought in to teach this organization customer service. And so I started the seminar everything's going great must mean about the first break or something like that. One of the leaders came up to me said Well I think I'm gonna go ahead and take off right now because I think you've got to be more willing to talk. If I'm not here well there's a red flag. I click and left. Yes. Soon as they left these people did go off and there were still two other leaders in the room from that organization. So the three of us were just getting bombarded by these people. And I was brought in to teach them customer service. But what I discovered was it wasn't a customer service issue. It was a leadership issue that had happened which had formed this kind of culture. They had brought me in to fix their people. Well the people who needed to be fixed if you will work the people in the room and that's why I believe. Has to be the philosophical change first. It has to be a leadership a leadership mindset shift then the culture can come after that.
[00:10:27] And can anyone make that shift. I mean you find that there are some companies that can some leadership teams that can some that can as as long as the leaders want to.
[00:10:36] They can. Leadership is teachable. There is no such thing as a born leader. There's people who have different skill sets and others different talents that we're born with. But anybody can learn and grow in leadership. And so I believe that any organization can change as long as the leaders want to. Now depending on the shape of the organization is depending on how long it's going to take. For example I mean if we're 60 pounds overweight it's going to take us a little while to get in shape than if we were only five pounds out of shape but it still can happen and sometimes there's some growing pains just as when you were getting into shape. We might have to give up the cake after dinner or what have you. There may be some employees that might have to go out the front door and not come back in. And that happens. Those are those are tough and we've had to do that a bright Corporation. Fortunately we haven't had to do it very often over these many many decades. But there are times where somebody has pretty much work themselves out of a job in most of the time those people know that the doors about rage shut on them. Yeah it's not it's not a surprise there. They're doing it themselves. They make choices and the best leaders give them opportunities to get back on the horse. They choose not to well horses leaving without.
[00:11:46] Yeah let's talk about that a little because I think that is I think you're kind of developing our approach or talking about our approach that I think is a good one. But I think a lot of ones of people struggle with leaders struggle with it when you're looking at your your team and whether you're looking at it from a customer service point of view or other just kind of cultural values. How can you set up that process so that it is both sort of effective respectful efficient.
[00:12:08] Well give us some insight in terms of how you've typically help companies with making those decisions.
[00:12:13] Well I think it first starts out looking at your hiring procedure is how you hire people. And we've had our our errors that bright Corporation in my other company empowered enterprises we've had our errors in. So I'm not saying we are perfect by any means but every time you go outside your hiring procedure you are skirting with disaster and that happened about a year or so ago I brought corporation.
[00:12:35] So I kind of believe in a at least a two interview process interviews but you have to have at least two if not three people in each one of those interviews. And the reason for that is they might fool me they might fool you but the chances are Bruce they're not going to fool both you and me at the same time shot at. And if we have two interviews we can figure that out a little bit better. Yeah and the key to all success and business hire good people hire nice people hire hire friendly people those times that you can't teach that stuff you can you can actually teach them skill sets. But if somebody is got a rotten attitude that's a core thing that they think can change that.
[00:13:13] But you and I are going to change it for them. Yes it's a that's a child. And I remember as a young speaker many years guys at a presentation to Dr. Mike Murdock was presenting and Dr. Murdoch knew what I did as a living and he was quite a bit older and I was a lot wiser than I am. And he zeroed me out right in front of his entire audience which obviously got my attention. And he goes mark the people that you teach you can't change anyone unless they want to be changed. And it wasn't something I wanted to hear but he knew I needed to hear it. And I was obviously young and vulnerable at that point in terms of Speaker. But he helped shaped me these many many years later into the speaker and trainer than I am today because I realize that some of this is the responsibility of the individual not my responsibility to go fix somebody not the leaders responsibility the leader's responsibility to set the culture set the vision and then hire the right people. Yeah and what we had a problem was a oh about year year and a half ago bright Corporation is one of our leaders decided to just hire somebody you see felt like the right thing that is if it felt like the right thing to do. But after it came back around the legal has to get involved because the person has let me say multiple criminal records and multiple issues. Let me just put it that that. that impacts the entire organization. I think it was a good smack back in the face of all the leaders. OK.
[00:14:43] We want to make sure that we hire the right way. Sounds like an expensive reminder. Yes it was.
[00:14:50] Oh sure sure. And there was a number of things that went wrong in that whole situation even when it came to a head. Things that went wrong and people leaders talked to people. Talk to these people without witnesses and in every call everything that comes around that has nothing to do with personnel or H.R. guess who gets the call somehow it lands on my desk and I get the call I've got. You did what they did what what happened at this point is gone. OK well this is a little above my. Great. We need to talk. The lawyer is now. Yes. And you don't want to get to that point and it's all about having a system and sticking to that system and that system is built around the vision and the culture that you want to create for the organization.
[00:15:32] Yeah I can't agree enough with that. I just have a question or you mentioned earlier this idea of you want to hire friendly people nice people. So I grew up in Minnesota and we got we always we had this phrase called Minnesota Nice. And I think there was there was an element of that which was almost too nice. You know that at some point you know always trying to be nice and can sometimes lead you down a path of trying to be overly helpful and agreeing to do things that maybe the best thing to do and I guess do you see that there is something as too nice or is there a balance between Nice and still being assertive and doing the right thing. How do you how do you kind of judge this niceness when it comes to particularly around situations where you may have to deliver a bad message or go down a path that might not be you know short term friendly but long term more successful.
[00:16:20] I don't think it can be. People can be too nice. You want to hire people who are extremely polite nice ethical moral people where I think comes down to it is people get into a win lose mindset. I'm a as a salesperson as Yemen negotiator as well. And in all negotiations I believe have to be win win. Both sides have to win. And the problem is if both sides don't win then you create a lose lose mentality down the road. For example let's say that we go into a car dealership to buy a car and you decide to buy a car today and you feel like you got a great when everything is going wonderful until you talk to your cousin. Your cousin says you paid for that car. You know my buddy just got the exact same car over and Timbuktu for 30 percent less than what you did. You paid for all that stuff. Now all of a sudden you're thinking lose. Now how do you feel about that dealership. Well you're not only not going back but all of a sudden you create a mindset that now you want to share it with everybody about how rotten that dealership is. It's all of a sudden dealership had a win. You had to lose. Now the dealership has a lose because you're not going back. Your friends aren't going back. I'm not going to that dealership. And so all of a sudden a win lose eventually ends up being a lose lose. And so I'm a huge believer it has to be a win on both sides and both sides have to gain something from that. And that's not compromise. Compromise means nobody gets what they want. Let me just say some areas.
[00:17:49] Bruce what's your favorite food right now. I love fish tacos because tacos. How about your significant other. What's your favorite food. Anything Italian food anything Italian.
[00:18:04] Ok. So we got we got Hazen D here. So here's the compromise. You both go to McDonald's. Are you happy.
[00:18:11] No I'm not. I see your point but I'm not happy.
[00:18:14] Yeah that's compromise. Nobody's happy. Well if we can't agree on this let's go do this other thing that neither one of us want. Yeah well collaboration is both sides getting what they want. She gets Italian this week next week you get fish tacos. And so it's it's that collaboration that both sides get that win but a lot. That's hard. Lot of people don't want to look for the hard. Yes.
[00:18:36] And that's why I think that it's not about being too nice. It's about the people are not trained to have to say no sometimes they're not trained of having to say you know that's not a win for us and we can't go there.
[00:18:48] So and how do you do it. How do you do that. Like how do you train someone or what is what are some of the ways in which you can deal with kind of those know situations but that still you know still maintain the relationship or still help build the collaboration.
[00:19:01] True what we do in training is we actually go through role plays is we will use certain wordings and a lot of times I will not give somebody a word for word type of phrase I want to memorize but there are those occasions where I said if you're in this situation and you need to say no or you need to have a policy situation that you have to bring up here's how you need to ward and here's why. And I explained what's going on in the mindset of the individual who's hearing that because they're certain catch phrases or what I call hot words that all of a sudden it's a gut reaction that the prospect of the customer has and you've got to be ready to handle that if you use those words. And so the better part is we avoid those words we avoid it phrase it a different way and then we go through a number of roll plays because it's all about fundamentals. It's all about getting that practice time in.
[00:19:48] Is there an example of where you can think of offhand.
[00:19:51] Well policy policy is one of them if you use the word policy all of a sudden that blood's going to begin to boil in that customer's mind and his heart. It's actually happening to me right now. And the reason why it happens is because that word has been used so often in such a negative connotation as soon as people hear it they're thinking Well great I'm not going to get what I want. And so we have to avoid that. And the phrase I give people when they have to use policy or even the word no. Is to say that because I'm sorry Mr. Customer we can't do that because blah blah blah. However we can't do this. Now why that works is first of all I'm apologizing. I'm genuinely apologetic that we can't do whatever it is they want him to do. I then explain it to them instead of just saying hey sorry can't do it. We explain why. Well government regular talk code says blah blah blah. Or this is what we found doesn't work. And then I'm not leaving I'm in no man's land. I give him the house. I give him some alternatives. So I'm sorry Mr. Customer we can't do this because blah blah blah. However we can do this for you.
[00:20:55] Yeah. No I think that makes sense. Let's talk a little bit more about sales and the kind of the front side of ID and stuff like that. When you when you're looking at sales and sales strategy how do you approach that question of qualification like you who should you sell to and should you sell to everyone. Should you only sell it to certain people and how do you make that distinction.
[00:21:12] Well I learned that the hard way. Like most good lesson. Exactly. As the speaking industry when you're a young speaker you accept everything that is around the bend because hey somebody wants me to come talk and they're gonna pay me. Well you accept a few that don't Roy work out like for example one time I accept an engagement for the New York Times. Well as a Christian conservative from the Midwest How do you think they liked me. They didn't like me at all. Well I knew I shouldn't be going to speak to the New York Times but hey they were paying me once. And so you learn to accept the engagements that you're good for and that that's true about any company every company cannot be a fit for every person for every prospect. And so and you don't even want to try if you try to carry every product under the sun you're just dumbing down your core of what you do well. And so you have to kind of make sure that you all your products and services are complementary for the first part and you're filling a niche you're going into specific marketplace to fill a particular niche and by doing that you're narrowing your focus. And so now you're automatically getting the big ocean of prospects has now already been narrowed down to a lake. Then you have to find out OK who in that lake has money because not everybody has money. And I don't care if somebody really really wants what we have.
[00:22:37] If they can't pay for it I'm sorry we can't give it to someone you know like how do you find out whether I've met because it's always a difficult conversation I find it or it is a question of Do you have money typically it doesn't doesn't really get you the answer that you need.
[00:22:51] Exactly and it's I will admit it's easier today than what it used to be. You got a lot of people will pay at least in our industry with credit card where years ago you had to trust on a deposit and you had to have seen the check cleared and all that type of stuff. You still have that to a certain extent but that's kind of the process you have to go through. You have to you have to sometimes take a gamble but you want to be if it's a product you're shipping you want to be very very careful about shipping that product before that check clears. And sometimes you if it's a really good customer and you've done business with them in the past and they have a little bit of a financial issue you work with them because every company or every individual may or go through a tough time a one time you walk through and go through that what's helping with us a lot. Now as every business is being driven a little bit more on line we still get obviously a lot of phone calls that come in but more and more people are going to the Web site and in order in that way and that's perfectly fine. Well when they do that it's automatically done by credit card. And then our our authorization company will actually check it and it won't even clear. And so once it clears we know that we're good to go ahead and process it and ship it.
[00:23:59] And so it is a little easier but you do get burnt. We. And when you do get burnt you have somebody else you either inside or outside and we use an outside service collection agency that will go through the process. And even by then I'm not one who believes that automatically. Oh they're two days late. With the collection agency is we have a whole process that they go through first of all they they get a discount if they pay within 30 days. It's in some boxes like 2 percent. So it just gives them a little incentive as well right after that 30 days doesn't mean we're sending the collection. We have a series of four letters that will send in a letter in a letter is just kind of Hey I thought you might have overlooked it blah blah blah. Each letter gets a little stronger. Well after by the time it gets to the D letter they're pretty much avoiding us. Yeah it's clear you're doing this pretty clear. And so that's just us. We give people the benefit of the doubt but we're very very careful that next time that company orders they're gonna have to pay in advance. Doesn't mean we're gonna cut them off not do business with them but hey if they've paid their debt and everything's good there are accounts in good standing that's fine but they will be paying in advance next time. And I think that's just wise. Anything else would be foolish on our part.
[00:25:11] Yeah yeah. One of the things I'm a big believer in is earning discounts earning preferential. And treatments in that you know it gets if you don't pay within the time frame and things like that those discounts some prefer price are wiped out. And so you're back at your your full pricing. I think that you know it's a way that I kind of keep it keep things in line.
[00:25:30] Exactly. Actually let me ask you. I mean any strategies or thoughts around kind of that whole issues of pricing or discounts or preferred you know preferred terms and things like that. How do you deal with that with customers.
[00:25:41] Everything has to be fair when you put it that way. You don't want somebody to get a discount just because oh you're so someone's cousin.
[00:25:49] You get the so-and-so cousin discount.
[00:25:52] And so the reason for that is because it'll come back around like for example if I give ABC Company a huge break in in my speaking fee and x y z company doesn't get that now I'm setting myself up for a problem. Yeah. So you know that reputation and a price integrity or fee integrity. And so there's ways that you can deal with each company maybe ABC doesn't have the budget that X Y Z does. OK. Well what else can they do.
[00:26:19] Abc I'll give you a 25 percent discount on this one if you agree to book me at full price within the next year or it may be it can be anything.
[00:26:28] I will do this as long as you will do this. Now you still have price integrity or fee integrity because the deal is a little bit more of a complex deal. It's not just a buy this and you're out the door. It's a buy this and then a second item or a second whatever and you can do that on any any type of any type of product or any type of service but you have to make sure that you have that price integrity that the integrity and there's always going to be alternatives. There's always going to be some differences based on whatever's going on with that particular customer's needs.
[00:27:02] I mean for example we mentioned Disney earlier. I'm a huge fan of Disney. Not everybody who goes to Disney gets the exact same price because things are wrapped in differently. Oh you have X amount of people coming. Well that's going to give you a group discount here. Oh how many days are you stay. Okay. You get this discount because you're staying this many days. Oh you're gonna wrap that property. I mean it's like getting a biggie sizing your order at Wendy's. Yeah.
[00:27:26] So the family the family back vs. the one off the 99 cent milk. Yeah exactly. Yeah I got it tough.
[00:27:33] It's always tough but it's up it's up for your audience to think about in terms of how can you have the price integrity but also wide in the way you can serve as people instead of just cutting people off saying Sorry I can't do business with you. Figure out how you can help them.
[00:27:48] Yeah. Now this has been great. I think we've covered a lot of great things around you know around sales or on strategy. I love the customer service is really the flip side or the other side of the coin of sales and really thinking through how are you from a sales point of view what are you What are you selling and how are you going to deliver it. And making sure that those things are integrated and capable. This was really helpful. We're gonna hit on here. If people want to find out more information about you what's the best way to get that information.
[00:28:12] That's where to find me is just to go to markbowser.com. This site is one big word. M A R K B O W S E R.com and there's ways that you contact me on there has all the information about my books as well as seminars I've given and so forth.
[00:28:27] Perfect. I'll make sure that that link is in the show notes so people can click through and get to you. But thank you so much for taking the time. I've learned a lot. I really appreciate it.
[00:28:35] Thank you Bruce. Have a great day.
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