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Creating value for your clients is easily the most important factor for any vendor (DUH!), but how do you create value and separate yourself from the pack? I am going to tell you some of things that I feel are important for all sales people/vendors to remember in your day to day activities. Remember, value is something that you have to bring all the time; you can not just wow them once then get comfortable.

Take a look at the Communications Industry where there are several Press Release Distribution Services (Marketwire, PRN, BW, PRWeb, GN, etc…), Social Media Monitoring Tools (Sysomos, Radian6, Hootsuite, Brandwatch, etc..), Media Databases (Mediahub, Cision, Vocus, etc…) to help clients with their day to day activities. These tools range from free to several thousand dollars a year so how do you differentiate yourself enough to show the value that you, your company, your team, your product, etc…bring to the table? Disclaimer: I work for Marketwire/Sysomos, one of the industries leading news wire services, monitoring, and media database tools. With so much competition in the this space, how do I show the value that myself and my company bring to the table?

Below are the top 5 things that I believe you can do to show your value:

1) Customer Service — This does not mean smile pretty and act nice when something happens good or bad. This means you need to come down with what I call a Customer Service Disorder or CSD. When an issue happens, take it personally and know that it is your name and face that your client is putting the blame on regardless of if it was your “fault” or not. This is where I personally take things away from my company and put it on my shoulders, because at the end of the day, it is not my company that is interacting, it is me.

2) Sense of Urgency — Sense of Urgency seems like such a simple aspect of providing value, but it seems that so many sales people/vendors forget what it actually means. When you get a request an email or phone call, respond immediately. I hear about it so often that is dumbfounding to me how a client see’s any value in working with someone who does not respond to their inquires in a timely fashion. Maybe it is the fact that I believe in the Golden Rule, you know; treat people the way you want to be treated or maybe it is just that I hate things sitting on a to do list or my proverbial plate. It is pretty simple, when someone calls you, emails you, texts you, FB’s you, DM’s you, whatever, respond to them in a reasonable manor of time (personally that is immediately!!).

3) Your Bells & Whistles Mean Nothing — This one is super duper important and goes back to looking at your selling technique. By that I mean, are you a Feature or Benefit seller? When I say “Your Bells & Whistles Mean Nothing” I mean it. If you have not determined why those Bells & Whistles are important to your client, then they are not a Benefit and you have showed no value. Work on your Investigating Skills (they are on the list) and find out what your client needs first, dig in because what you think is a Benefit may be nothing but smoke on the water to your client.

4) Investigating Skills — Now hopefully you know that you can never stop investigating a client or prospect. Why you ask? Because the job is not over after determining that you are a good fit today. You must never stop Investigating your clients to find out what they are working on, where they are going, etc… so that you can continue to bring value beyond your initial dealings with the client/prospect. Investigating today is so easy so do not make this the reason you lost business. Take a look at LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Company Site, etc… to find out what is happening and what they are saying. Depending on the tools you have, use a tool like Sysomos MAP to do some preliminary and ongoing research to stay in-front of issues surrounding your clients/prospects so that you can bring the issue to table showing them true value! Here is the extra mile on that last comment; figure out a possible solution to the problem and you are really starting to show why you are valuable to that client/prospect.

5) Customer Service — I brought it back to Customer Service simply because I think one of the biggest reasons a client/prospect will stay with you and see value is because of YOU! Again, there are so many companies out there competing in the same space with very similar products that a lot of the time it can be YOU that pushes the final decision. After all, if my product is as good as anything else out there if not better, but you see that I offer you more feedback, advice, trends, topics, etc… then you will probably stick with me as long as I continue to provide excellent Customer Service.

There are more ways to show value, but these are the things that I think you can really control and will differentiate you from the pack.

Please let me know what things you all feel show Value to your clients and ways you can create Value for your clients.

Good Afternoon,

A colleague just forwarded this video to me and I totally forgot that I never added it to my blog. Maybe that was because I was a complete slacker with this blog so I am posting it now.

A special thanks to Mary Fletcher Jones from Fletcher Prince for putting this video series together.

Making some changes

Posted: January 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Good evening,

So I have been working on making some changes and trying to make my blog look stronger. I am going to make a conscious effort to start talking about my experiences, events, thoughts, etc… I set this blog up over a year ago and have really let myself and anyone who has visited this site down by not providing fresh and worth while content.

Good news is I am doing it this year, no more talking, no more thinking, and no more excuses!!

Let the blogging begin!!!!
Colby

White Out

Posted: September 15, 2010 in Family

Have you ever had an incident in your life that ultimately changed you forever? This blog post is about that very moment in my life.

I was cleaning out my home office the other day and came across an old Poetry, Thoughts, Journal, etc… This book was given to me by a very close High School friend following an accident to record my thoughts and emotions.

My family and I went up to Lake Placid, NY for Empire State Games, my second year making the games! Not really sure why, but we had three cars, my brother, father, and mother all had their cars with us in Lake Placid. The Games went typical for my skiing at big events…choke, with the exception of the Section IV title the year before; I did not have a good track record.

After the first run I was sitting in second place in the slalom and ready to take home the victory. All I had to do was put down a second solid run and I would go home the State Champ!! As I previously mentioned, I did not do well at big events.

Here comes the second run and what do I do? I manage to hook a gate about ¾ of the way through the course. That ended my ski racing career and catapulted me into a chain of events that would change my life and my view of the world for quite some time, maybe still a little bit.

Because of my DQ we decided to leave early and get a jump on the 4 hour drive home to good old Walworth, NY. We were getting close to Polaski when the weather really started to get quite bad. Driving my moms tiny little Hyundai in 4 inches of thick snow on the road with blowing snow was not fun.

Driving as cautiously as possible due to the conditions I distinctly remember three tractor trailers flying past us as if we were sitting still. Both my Mom and I recognized that this was probably not a very safe way to drive and hoped my Father and Brother were safe up ahead.

The next thing I remember was driving into wall of blowing snow; the worst white out I have ever seen. I told my Mom, “we need to stop”, she said no, “If you stop now someone could hit us from behind”. I nervously pushed on through, but going extremely slow as I was scared to death.

The next thing I remember was coming out of the white to see absolute carnage in the road.

We had to swerve quickly to avoid what looked like a ripped open can in the middle of the road and debris all over. The three tractor trailers needless to say were all over the road and in the ditch. Come to find out that what looked like a can was a car that got held up because someone stopped in the middle of a white out (thank you for making me move Mom). So the tractor trailers ran over the car and ripped it open and landed on the car that initially stopped in the road.

Just to let you know, not only did my Mother and I make it through with out hitting another car, but my Father and Brother did as well.

We all pulled off to the side, still very close to the accident and ran back to begin helping. Running immediately to the car in the middle of the road we found 3 children in the back seat pinned in-between the front and back seats. We pulled them out and moved everyone to the side, but that is when things quickly became a frantic search.

One of the children was missing from the car, the Mother was crying out for Deron. She yelled several times while my brother and I ran and searched under cars, trucks, etc… we had to find this child.

While all this is going on a station wagon with a mother and daughter slowed to avoid the 6 car pile up we had at this point and were rear ended by a tow truck. About 2 seconds later a tour bus some how managed to drive through everything that was going.

Not sure where he came from, but by this point in our search a young military man started helping us search and pull people from cars.

Remember earlier when I asked, “Have you ever had an incident in your life that ultimately changed you forever”, well here is my moment.

Listening to Deron’s mother screaming I come to the realization that I thought I hit something when I drove through the accident, but had thought nothing of it. I immediately told my Brother that I had to go check my Mom’s car. Chris ran up with me and the Military man was not far behind.

When I got to my Mom’s car I dropped at the front driver side wheel. What I saw was something that will never leave me. I looked and the body of 4 year old Deron Walker was lying under my tire. I instantly popped up and told screamed that I found him. My Brother on one side of the car, the Military man at the back and me near Deron we lifted the car and moved it to the side.

At the moment the world stopped dead in its tracks. I froze upon seeing the boy’s body and hearing the piercing scream that his mother let out when she saw what happened. Everyone who was around me at that moment tried to get me away quick knowing that I was going into shock.

The next several hours or so were spent in the back of a police car giving my statement and telling the police everything I could remember. I remember feeling absolutely dead as I thought I had just killed a 4 year old boy and could not wrap my head around why this was happening.

The next several months needless to say were very tough. I was getting ready for college and trying to figure out my life when all I could think about was a horrible accident. The first day I finally felt like I knew what was happening was two doses of good news and I took it as a sign.

First, I got a call from the state police letting me know that autopsy results. I was at no fault at all as the coroner said the boy died from the impact of being ejected from the car and hitting the road. While this was good to hear, I still had an enormous weight on my shoulders.

The second piece of news was my acceptance letter to the University of Montana, literally handed to me while I was getting off the phone with the police. Off to Montana I would go to start the next chapter of my life or was I just running?

Wow, this has turned out to be a rather long post, but it feels good.

So we are back to me finding my old Poetry, Journal, thing? I forgot just how mixed up I was back then and for obvious reasons. Below is one of the entries in my book from the spring of 1996 just a couple months after the accident.

“Walking through a translucent world, waiting for the beast to come and take you to that place
You saw it in your dreams
You think about it and fear it, or do you?
Never knowing when the day would come when you would get to live their
They have a sense of belonging; they never feel alone, they know someone is there for them.
The world of whispering eyes you live in never gave you the open arms of a mother you needed.
Don’t worry
Don’t end it
Someday you will see
It was worth it, all the crap you saw was just a brief preview of what was to come
Death”

Well…I have to admit, writing that all down felt good.

Thank you for your Service!

Posted: June 9, 2010 in Family

Honor Flight – “thank you for your service.”

"Rochester Honor Flight" "Honor Flight Rochester" "Honor Flight" "Tom Cox" "Colby Cox" "Bobby Cox" "Ronald Cox"

4 Generations of Cox Men

During my life my Dad has provided me with a multitude of opportunities.  He possesses vast talents in addition to being a wonderful teacher, coach, cheerleader and is a remarkable man of integrity.  In his 89 years he has touched the lives of many.  This past weekend I had the opportunity to see him and 50 other members of the “world’s greatest generation” in an entirely different light.  I was my Dad’s Guardian on a Rochester Honor Flight.  Honor Flight is a national program that is dedicated to honoring the men and women who served in World War II by transporting them to Washington D.C. to be received by a grateful nation.  The highlight is visiting their memorial – The World War II Memorial.

Our day started by rising at about 4:00 AM so that we could get to the Rochester Airport to catch our Honor Flight to Baltimore Washington International.  We passed through security with our group of 105 men and women.  The line moved slowly as we had quite a collection of vets with hip and knee replacements, pacemakers and shrapnel!  But the theme for the day was beginning to develop with the vets being greeted by numerous people hugging them or shaking their hands and saying “Thank you for your service!” Chests started to swell and tears began to flow as these veterans started to realize that there were people who understood, and valued, their contribution to our nation.  By 7:00 we were airborne and on our mission.

Landing at BWI we knew that we would be taking a bus to our first stop in Arlington for the changing of the guard.  Little did we know that there would be a warm welcome by a large crowd of civilians and men and women of today’s military who applauded, cheered and again, “thank you for your service” were the words of appreciation.  Our two busses transported us right to the Tomb and we unloaded veterans and wheelchairs and proceeded to view the changing.  As taps sounded the veterans ceased moving and silently honored their fallen comrades.  Again, these humble heroes were reminded of the sacrifice that has supported our freedom.  As we left the Tomb at the conclusion of the ceremony there was a line of men and women, school groups and military who applauded, shook hands and said “thank you for your service” until each veteran had reached the loading point for our bus.

The next stop was the World War II Memorial.  When we offloaded there was a large group of Viet Nam Veterans who shook hands and thanked the WWII vets and said “welcome to your memorial.”  There were also a couple little girls who were handing out little stickers that said “Kilroy was here!”  The next hour was spent moving about this beautiful memorial.  Pictures were taken, stories were shared and connections were made with members of Honor Flights from other parts of the United States. (There were 6 Honor Flights in DC on this day.)

We returned to the busses and toured our nation’s capital while eating our lunches.  There were not many sights that were missed.  We concluded the day with stops at the Korean, Viet Nam and Lincoln Memorial.  A group picture at Iwo Jima was enhanced by a group of high school students from Alabama who sang “God Bless the USA” while the picture was being taken.  Many more “thank you for your service” hugs and shakes and we were on to our last stop at the new Air Force Memorial.  We journeyed back to BWI and spent the evening at the BWI Hilton and after a bit of social time and a banquet it was an early pillow for most of us.

Many special things happened during this weekend but one that particularly moved me was an Air Force Major who, while we were waiting to board our plane, shook the hand of each and every vet in our group and thanked them for their service.  When asked what he was doing he replied that he was on his way home after a year in Iraq.  Our vets gave him a thumbs up and said “keep carrying on.”  It was clear that the freedom that these men and women fought for is being respected and protected by yet another generation of youngsters who have answered the call of duty with the same sense of character and courage.

The flight home was greeted by over two hundred family members as well as other grateful Americans, an Ontario Boy Scout Troop, Marines and others.  These veterans finally received their welcome home and thank you for their service.  My Dad had commented during the trip that when he came home he got off the train in Rochester with about five other people and no reception of any kind, and he really had not expected one.  The other vets spoke of coming home after horrific experiences and just going back to work or school.

My dad’s trip was made even more special as my brother flew in from Savannah to surprise him and be with us for a short time.  My son Colby and Grandson Kadyn came in to be with us during the day and the rest of the family was in Rochester to welcome all of us home.

My dad is my hero as each of these vets is a hero in their family.  When you have the opportunity to cross paths with a member of our greatest generation who served to protect our way of life be sure to thank them for their service.  On further thought, make sure that if you pass any current member of our armed service that you thank them for their service.  None of these men and women, boys and girls should have to wait for 60 years to be honored.  Do it now and do it often.  Thank them all for their service!

If you would like to contribute or learn more go to http://www.honorflightrochester.org.

Tom Cox

Walworth, New York

Customer Service Disorder

Posted: December 17, 2009 in Business, Life, Personal

I realized at about 3:45am this morning that I in fact have a Customer Service Disorder. While in my opinion this is a good thing as I view customer service as a top priority at all times and do whatever it takes to make sure I provide top notch service. The reason I say that I have customer service disorder or CSD; is simply because I can not ignore an email no matter what time.

It all started at 3:45am this morning when I received an email from a client asking about where their press release could be found as they were not seeing it. It was a very easy fix and one that could have waited until the morning and business hours, but not in my head. I sat lying in bed thinking about this email and being concerned that my client was waiting for a response back immediately. While I know they were not as they are typically out of the country it still drove me crazy. I really tried to fall back asleep and take care of the “issue” in the morning, but just could not. So at 4am I jumped out of bed, raced downstairs like it was Christmas morning and fired up the laptop. Did a quick search for my client, sent an email highlighting hundreds of locations of his release and put the issue to rest, but not myself.

Again, CSD is a good thing as long as the anxiety of the whole issue does not start to drive you crazy!

Anyway, problem averted and the good news is I am awake and working and you know what they say; The early bird gets the worm!!!

I would love to hear other stories of CSD and the odd and crazy things you all have done to make sure your clients needs are met.