Friday, February 6, 2009

The Golden Rule Is ALL Wrong!

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, February 4, 2009

Okay, maybe it is not wrong, but there definitely is an alternative that could help you in sales. If you are like me, you first began hearing about the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you,” since the age of 3 or 4. God knows I am not here to suggest that my mother was wrong but in this case, I think she may have been a little mislead as I have.

I have heard several speakers and authors talk about this but who said it first - I have no idea. While watching the great movie Pass It On, I heard it again. This time it was not WHAT was said but HOW the speaker emphasized the words that initially caused me to really start thinking about the meaning of what was said. Then I picked up where I had left off reading Jeffrey Gitomer’s book, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless; Customer Loyalty is Priceless where Gitomer told two stories of two different hotels and how he had been treated. (Side note: This has been one of the most difficult books for me to read. Read a page, get an idea. Read another page, get another idea. At this rate I will finish it in 2010. But is a fabulous book; highly recommend it.)

In the first 5 star hotel, he was treated not only as he expected to be treated, he had some pleasant surprises thus creating a memorable event that was repeated by word-of-mouth, as well as his written word in his books; and now mine here. At the second hotel, Gitomer expected nothing less but less is exactly what he got. His treatment was shabby at best. He was shocked to find a hand written note on his hotel bed from the manager addressing him by name thanking him for his business and reaffirmed his desire to provide great service. The manager obviously sent such notes routinely to incoming customers but had failed to discuss this new visitor’s displeasure that had been voiced at the front desk the night before. In other words, this is what we really do (actions) and this is what we would like to do (false promises).

What actually transpired is not important. What hit me from his two stories was the effect of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Gitomer’s stores created a very HUGE AHA for me when coupled with what I had heard that same afternoon in the Pass It On movie which was:

Do unto others as they would WANT done unto THEM! – not you!

Let me put this into perspective. I am the real estate broker for a 100+ Keller Williams Realty office. If you stop and think for just a minute, you realize that with 100 people you get 100 personalities; none the same. 100 likes – 100 dislikes. 100 people with different goals and objectives. 100 people with different family make-ups. 99 people who get it except for you-know-who; who has no clue! Or in other words, everyone is different. Jeffrey Gitomer who travels a great deal to his speaking engagements has come to expect quite different treatment at hotels than say I would. I travel only a couple of times a year at best. It would be far easier to satisfy my requirements than Gitomer’s because he would have far greater needs than I would. The next morning he gets up in front of hundreds if not thousands of people and has to look his best. Me? I probably will get up and go to the golf course; I don’t care if my shirt is pressed, or not – huge difference.

Question. What if you are a jerk? If you take the Golden Rule literally, does that mean you treat everyone else like a jerk because that is what YOU have come to expect? What if you are someone who gets into verbal confrontations on a daily basis? Someone who is unhappy? Someone who is simply sick, or worse, you are you-know-who? Get the idea?

Some people like to be left alone. Some people thrive by engaging other people. Some people find it difficult if they do not constantly receive praise and recognition. Some people prefer to stay in the background. Some want quick resolutions. Some want to be certain the resolution was thoroughly thought out and tested.

There is one trait, however, that we are all most likely guilty of – what’s in it for me? Would it be fair to say that every customer we have ever dealt with or will deal with thinks, “What’s in it for me?” Do you think the customer ever seriously thinks, with the emphasis on seriously, how can I satisfy this agent’s needs and wants? No way!

Think about this: How do YOU want to be treated by me? Personally, I am always aware of how I want to be treated by you? This is what I know about me. When all the fluff is set aside, I am a bottom line person. If you can get the job done in 10 minutes do not take 60! Tell me what you want. Let me know if you want me to help or just listen; there is a difference.

I tell you this because if you treat me the way YOU want to be treated and it is NOT the same as I would, you will most likely miss the mark. When you meet someone for the first time and you have only a few seconds or words with the other person there is no way you could possibly know how that person wants to be treated. You must engage with the idea of learning. You do this by asking questions and then, and this is the critical part, YOU LISTEN TO WHAT IS SAID! In the case of a hotel stay, you can pretty much understand that the sky is the limit and it would be easy to meet minimum standards but to exceed them would be determined by what that guest to the hotel had come to expect from the type of hotel they stay at. Hotels that truly exceed a customer’s expectations constantly look for ways to “raise the bar” on what is provided by the hotel and exceed what is expected by the customer as Gitomer points out in his book. In one story in Gitomer’s book, a hotel employee called him a week in advance of his stay to ask him if there was anything special he would need. Imagine that – initiative. That one action has caused Gitomer to tell others about the hotel and he has even written about it, and now I am. Word-of-Mouth marketing at its finest!

What are you doing to cause your customers to want to tell others about the service you provide, or not. Are you providing service that YOU think the customer wants; or, are you providing the kind of service the customer REALLY wants? Do Unto Others As They Would Want Done Unto Them!

What I have come to learn over my many years in real estate sales is that the more experienced the real estate agent the less likely it will be that the agent sees through the customer’s eyes. Times change and what worked yesterday may not work today. But if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it – we have all heard that. I look at it a bit differently. I look upon things as always being broken; it just hasn’t stopped working – yet! I have always done it this way, I don’t care what you or your studies show. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you!” Therefore with that attitude, you would continue doing what you have always done and most likely begin to realize diminishing returns on your efforts over time. I am a baby boomer. Believe it or not, a great many “baby boomers” are NOT computer literate. So if you go into a presentation expecting to overwhelm the baby bloomer with your technical savvy on the computer, you will succeed – you will have overwhelmed them! When you overwhelm people you also unintentionally plant the seeds of distrust. Give the customer what the customer wants. If the customer wants technology, give it to him or her. If the customer wants a gentle conversation, eye-to-eye, give that to him or her.


A much better Golden Rule; at least in my opinion. Treat people the way THEY would LIKE to be treated. The way YOU want to be treated when providing service to others really doesn’t matter does it? Here is another personal example. I am a bottom line type person. I hate the endless lead-ins to eventually get to the meat of the matter. I have attended training classes where the instructor talked for over 45 minutes and did not provide one note-taking idea – it was all lead-in material. In one 2 hour required continuing education course, there was only 15 minutes of meat taking notes out of a total of 120 minutes of presentation. I was bored out of my mind. I was being treated like someone else wanted to be treated – not me Mo Frer! Treat people like THEY want to be TREATED!

Fast forward to a situation where I am selling my own home and you come to my home for a listing presentation. Also consider this fact which you would not know if you don’t read (of course that is not you) – 70% of homeowners interview only one agent. Therefore you have a 70% chance that agent would be you, unless of course you are you-know-who. You come to my home and start your presentation and I would most likely learn all about you, your company, your company ownership, your wonderful company logo and colors, and the notebook computer you present all this material on. You may even show me name after name of satisfied customers. Not once, however, did you ask me what I wanted. Remember, I told you I am a bottom line kind of person. All I wanted to know was how much you thought my home was worth and why, and, what are you going to do to sell it. That’s it! How long would that take? 15 minutes? 20? But no, you have been doing listing presentations for over 10 years and you absolutely know, with no uncertainty, what I want to hear – wrong! Do unto others as they want done unto them!

How do you know what I want and how I want to be treated? YOU ASK! Imagine that! Most real estate agents “assume” they know not only what their customers want but also how they want to be treated and that is just wrong thinking. Actually it is “bonehead” thinking. And you-know-who engages in bonehead thinking and you certainly do not want to be like that, would you? (Rhetorical question, you don’t have to email me with your response  )

Want to change your business? Change the way you think about your business. More importantly find out what your customer wants (they are not all the same) and then create a plan of action that meets your customer’s needs, wants and more importantly exceed their expectations.


If you do, then the next famous quote falls right into place:

“To get everything YOU want in life, help someone else get what THEY want – FIRST!

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