MDCE keynote speaker discusses book, How to Soar Like An Eagle
Christopher Gerber, Associate Digital Editor
September 28, 2012
Filed under Chris Gerber
The Marine Dealer Conference and Expo is just over a month away, and there are a lot of new names on the schedule. I sat down to talk with the event’s keynote speaker, Robert Stevenson, to talk about his book, How to Soar Like An Eagle in a World Full of Turkeys.
How to Soar Like An Eagle in a World Full of Turkeys, now in its third revision, has sold more than 65,000 copies solely through word of mouth, Stevenson says. That’s a tough task for any book, but it’s especially impressive for a book that’s never been marketed.
Stevenson said he wrote the book after he began public speaking to help provide advice and guidance for anyone looking to improve professionally.
Below are some insights from my interview with Stevenson.
In one of the early chapters, Stevenson talks about his work with Busch Gardens. One of the problems they were having was helping park employees handle angry customers. Young employees, many who had no control over park operations and programs, were being accosted by customers who blamed them for everything, including poor weather.
Stevenson wrote a script to help them deal with those situations.
“I wrote the deal to help them laugh about the crazy things that people do that drive them nuts,” he says. “You know when someone walks up and they’re screaming at you because there’s bad weather? What, I got something to do with the weather?”
The script offered employees a way to get past the yelling and really hear what the customer was saying and to take the opportunity to improve the relationship with the customer.
“So many companies don’t address the point that it’s going to be said,” he says. “Someone’s going to walk into customer service jumping up and down like a shortstop because they’re upset about something, and my statement is, ‘Okay, first of all, if they’re screaming at you, we need to look at them as a consultant: they’re giving you the opportunity to fix it, because they’re screaming. They’re not going somewhere else.’”
Stevenson notes that the customer doesn’t always come to you to tell you why you may have lost their business. Asking them honestly can provide valuable insight.
In the book, Stevenson shares the story of a top real estate agent who would call every customer that she met with to find out if they ended up buying. If they bought from someone else, she asked them openly and honestly why they didn’t purchase from her.
Stevenson says anyone can use this technique by asking, “I’m trying to get better at what I do: Is there something that I could have done differently or something that I did that annoyed you or didn’t know or is there some particular reason that you didn’t buy it from me?”
That’s a tough thing to ask a customer, and Stevenson notes that you’re not always going to get an honest or accurate response. But if you want to be good at what you do, you have to try and find out.
“About a third of the time, they’re not going to give you an answer. They’re going to be offended that you called, that you’re bothering them,” he says. “But they didn’t buy the boat from you, so who cares? They’re gone. You lost that one.”
Sometimes they’re going to dodge it, Stevenson says, but sometimes they’re actually going to say why they went elsewhere. And for those who do, you learn something that you maybe forgot to say or you learn something that you forgot to do, or even if you have bad breath or did not look professional.
According to Stevenson, there are three things that make good sales: trust, confidence and rapport.
”If I got those three things, I’m probably going to get that sale, if my product is anywhere close to it,” he says “And there are a lot of little things that go on to make really good salespeople. But what [she] taught me was that you could just get on the phone and ask people. The 33 percent that actually gave her an answer, and she could use that knowledge to do better on the next sale.”
How to Soar Like An Eagle in a World Full of Turkeys is a good read, with plenty of chapters worth going back to again and again. It’s available for purchase online through Stevenson’s Web store. Stevenson will also be giving the keynote presentation, “How the best Get Better,” at this year’s Marine Dealer Conference and Expo, November 11-14.