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Forbes -- You know forming meaningful relationships with the right people has a direct impact on the success of your business. And that's great news -- if you were born with an outgoing personality.

But what if you consider yourself to be more of an introvert? Is your business doomed?

I've asked myself this a lot recently. As I look back on the success I've had forming deep relationships with influential people, I realize that making meaningful connections in a networking situation isn't about introversion or extroversion.

Here, three steps to building strong relationships -- no matter where you fall on the personality spectrum.

Related: 5 Secrets on Getting the Most Out of Partnerships

1. Your first question should excite them

Do you open a conversation exchanging names and a handshake followed by, “So Barbara, what do you do for a living?”

If so, know that you're just like everyone else. In some ways, that's a good thing, but if the goal is to be memorable and make meaningful connections, you may want to try something different.

One question that's worked well for my clients is, “So Barbara, what's happening in your life right now that really excites you?” By opening with a question like this, you immediately distinguish yourself. You also quickly tap into that person’s passions, which will help you form a connection faster than most others will -- even after several conversations. 

2. Be more interested than interesting

Many people dominate a conversation trying to get the other person to think they are interesting. It feels good to talk about yourself, but it doesn't make the other person feel as good.

This is where the most effective networkers take a different approach: They focus on being interested in you instead of getting you to think they are interesting.

They ask questions about your business, your passions and often make you feel like you're the most important person in the room. How much are you talking about yourself, and how much time do you spend asking questions and being interested in others?

Pay attention to your body language as well. Are you showing them you're interested? The next time you're speaking with someone, think about this: Are you facing the person and looking into their eyes with intention? Focus on being interested in them, and they'll think you're interesting.

Read the rest of the story here:


“Alternately you could pay a certified installer to do it for you. These days, installation is often cheap and sometimes free.”

As if you don’t have enough trouble remembering to create for your consumer what he wants and knows, the quote above comes from yet another reasonably well respected technology source called CNET telling your consumers what to think and want. As indicated in the first sentence quote, it is clear that CNET (600,000 plus Twitter followers) does not have your best interest at heart.

The article titled What should you look for when choosing a car stereo?, dated January 24, 2014 written by one Antuan Goodwin, seven pages long (in font size 10) went on to explain to readers and their friends (your consumers) about which head unit to buy depending on reader category; mechless heads, DVD, APPs, Navigation and budget car stereos. It mentioned a number of brands, all of which are available to your consumers at lots of low margin places. It also noted a number of features to look for, large color display, USB port, playback of MP3, AAC or WMA (compressed formats) and a 3.5mm jack.

In all seven pages the concept of audio quality was mentioned once and it was in conjunction with the onboard 50x4 deck power. That concept was summed up by this statement, “I find that for most stock and reasonably priced aftermarket speakers will perform well with about 25 watts RMS or about 50 watts max per channel...”. Go now and read a car stereo brochure or any of the bazillions of websites that teach your consumer that an in-dash powered head meets those needs very nicely.

Then of course the coupe-de-grass ending statement about the only thing you as an installing specialty retailer have as a significant differentiator from most of your competition, your installation skills... “Alternately you could pay a certified installer to do it for you. These days, installation is often cheap and sometimes free.”

I contend that this kind of statement does not support the notion that an installing brick & mortar specialty retailer should, will or even can add value to a consumer’s purchase decision.

NOW take a look at your web site. Ask yourself the following questions...

  • Does my website focus on educating my target consumers about my store and the unique value that we deliver to the consumer that is not available elsewhere?

  • Does my website come up near or at the top of the list when someone in my market searches for car stereo or the like? Or is Crutchfield or Sonic at the top of the list?

  • Does my site offer the consumer an education about what we do?

  • Is there a compelling message for a visitor to my site to actually visit my store?

    If you can honestly answer HELL YES to these questions, take the rest of the day off. You are one of the very few.

  • If your answer is more like, well not really, you gotta go to work. Get somebody to help you improve your site in order to attract consumers as opposed to driving them elsewhere. Mitch Schaffer at Mobile Edge in Lehighton PA 610-377-2730, has done a terrific job and is worth talking to for help. 



Since it’s both baseball season and a time when many retailers are hiring seasonal staff, I thought it would be a good moment to discuss an important topic. In a baseball club, much like any workplace, a certain balance must be maintained, not just for players to do their jobs and play to their full potential, but also for the players to get along with each other and with management.

In the film Moneyball, Brad Pitt stars as real-life Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane, who in 2002 was tasked with getting a low-budget, hand-to-mouth ball club to compete with big-budget teams like the New York Yankees. To do this, he had to think outside the box financially and do something socially that he had never done in four previous seasons with the club: talk to his players.

With all the hustle and bustle involved in running a retail shop, it’s understandable that an owner might be too busy to take a minute to get feedback from employees. Much like a baseball team, a staff requires the attention of management, but in an encouraging, rather than critical, way. A recent interview on with John Kotter, chief innovation officer at leadership strategy firm Kotter International, made clear that fear in the workplace acts like a “burning platform,” forcing employees to react. But that reaction style of management only works for so long, until employee energy and enthusiasm starts to wear out.  

“The reality is there are real risks associated with this negative stuff. People may jump off the platform, but they get tired, or they break an arm, to play out that metaphor. What we’re finding is that psychologists are coming out and saying that the positive stuff will maintain motivation over time much stronger and better than the negative stuff,” Kotter said. “Sure, the negative can get you going. You see a bullet coming at you, boom! You’ll get off of your chair. But in terms of maintaining energy and motivation over a couple of years, somebody just running from bullets doesn’t work.”

In Moneyball, tension in the clubhouse is visible when the team is losing. Players either keep to themselves and look at it as only a job, or they are unruly, joyfully dancing on tables to music, even after a loss.

That tension seems to come from the lack of positive reinforcement from Beane, and from the fact that the only interactions the players have with him are in the form of yelling when they lose, or silence due to his absence from the clubhouse most of the time. To clarify, positive reinforcement is the act of presenting a pleasant stimulus to entice a person to repeat a desirable action.

To the customer, it’s obvious when employees are unhappy. Energy levels are low, their mannerisms and speech patterns are less enthusiastic, and the work itself tends to suffer. Likewise, customers can tell when employees are happy.

Aside from the standard monetary compensation and benefits like a 401K, medical and dental insurance, rewarding good behavior can be easy and inexpensive, according to an article by two professors at the Harvard Business Review.

The article states that employees who strive to create a better future for themselves are, in their words, “thriving.” These employees aren’t just content in their jobs; they are proactive, engaged and highly energized. This type of employee was found to demonstrate a 16 percent better performance than their peers, and they were 32 percent more committed to the organization. They also missed considerably less work and had fewer doctor visits.

Whatever your method, knowing the strengths and improvement areas of your staff is vital for gauging what they can and can’t do. When you do need them to push, remember to reinforce their hard work with a reward, whether it’s a verbal compliment, a high-five, a simple thank you, or a form of compensation.

When Billy Beane finally discovered how useful interacting with his players was to their performance and overall happiness, he visited the clubhouse more often, spoke to individuals about specific improvements they could make, and formed strong working relationships with as many as he could. Doing this in your shop might just result in a metaphorical home run. 

So, I happened to be speaking with a person the other day who indicated a desire to be able to sell the experience, sell the store, sell her knowledge and skills and only after that, sell products to the consumer. BUT (paraphrasing her), “What if the consumer says NO? I don't want to be a pushy sales person, I hate those kinda sales people”. Everyone hates ‘em. Because they are bad at their job. Two things occurred to me which I think are VERY IMPORTANT...

ONE: A sales person is perceived as pushy when he keeps trying to close a sale WITHOUT PROPERLY OVERCOMING OBJECTIONS. Trying to push something the consumer does not want.

TWO: QUALIFYING the consumer properly, prior to presentation and then trying to close the sale dramatically reduces objections.

Corollary... Sales people who are good at QUALIFYING consumers are not so often perceived as pushy. Rather, the consumers see them as an EXPERT on the subject matter.

This is why understanding how a sales transaction is constructed and then understanding how to MANAGE THE SELLING TRANSACTION is so IMPORTANT.

Dig this... The reasons to QUALIFY a consumer (second of six specific steps in a selling transaction: Greet, QUALIFY, Present, Trial Close, Overcome Objections, Close), are many:

1      What does the consumer want?

2      What does the consumer need in order to satisfy wants?

3      What does the consumer THINK he needs to satisfy his wants?

4      Where did the consumer learn what he thinks he needs?

5      Do the consumer needs and consumer budget (willingness to spend) match up?

6      When is the consumer contemplating making the purchase?

7      Does the consumer have the authority to make and execute a purchase decision?

8      Method of payment?

For sure, each of the points above deserve several hours of discussion between the person teaching a sales training class and the attendees. I assure you, the more often the sales person knows the answer to ALL of these QUALIFICATION POINTS prior to making a presentation the more often consumers will perceive him or her as a knowledgeable expert and not so much a pushy sales person when trying to close the sale.

If you are responsible for selling products and services to your consumers, AND this concept of QUALIFYING a consumer and MANAGING the SELLING TRANSACTION seems foreign or uncomfortable to you, THAT IS A PROBLEM. It needs fixing. Call me, Eddy Kay, Dell Ellis, or somebody to get straight. Don’t wait. Do it now.

It is really important to be in charge of the selling transaction.  This “Pushy Sales People” issue is a glaring demonstration of same.

Don’t forget to look at, and tell all of your consumers about, the Ray Windsor You Tube Channel and the “Selecting A Retailer” series.     

Easy and worthwhile 3-6 minutes with a new segment every Tuesday.


After another innovation-fueled year, the 2015 International CES again proved why it's the place to be for tech geeks everywhere. What's more surprising these days is the firm foothold the show has in the automotive landscape. With the race for the connected car (and connected life for that matter) in full swing, both the OEMs and aftermarket are hustling to market any products they can to jump start their revenues in the medium. Aside from this, the show also featured a variety of impressive offerings from familiar companies looking to jumpstart their own interests for both consumers and retailers in 12-volt. Here are some highlights from this year's show:

- Kicker is releasing a line that is exclusive to 12-volt retailers, boxing out the big boxes and online sellers like Crutchfield, to show its support of independent retailers. The high-end Q-Class line will include the IQ-Series of intelligent power amplifiers and the top-end QS-Series component speakers, designed to fit into more factory hole locations than before. 

- VOXX Electronics has added a new line of in-car electronics to its already packed lineup of products with the Baby On Board child car seat sensor. The device requires a 5-minute install by the owner, and utilizes a Bluetooth proximity sensor that alerts the driver when they leave the car via a key fob beeper. The device will be available this summer for $59.95. 

- The connected car is officially in full play in the aftermarket as both Pioneer and Kenwood have introduced head units that feature Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility. Pioneer has released its second generation NEX in-dash receivers, which all include CarPlay, while three models include Android Auto. Kenwood has introduced a successor to its DNN991HD connected receiver, which now includes updated mapping software by Garmin™, parking guides for a connected rear-view camera and better source multitasking.

- A trend to watch by several companies is the emergence of Bluetooth remote controls for powersports vehicles. MTX announced the MUDBTRC, designed to allow Bluetooth music streaming from most Bluetooth enabled devices directly to an amplifier, eliminating the need to install a source unit.

For more information on the products described above, and more detail on the latest from CES, check out our February issue of Mobile Electronics, coming next month. 


As is common practice for me, I was doing some product category research the other day. Funny; this practice is very similar to how a consumer might do research.  Look on the Internet.  Find a few local retailers.  Call to get a human’s insight.  Prepare to visit the store that sounds the best.  I have been writing this monthly ditty since July 1993 in one form or fashion.  About 21 years.  I observe from my contemporary experiences, such as this most recent research project and a review of the archives that some issues are always relevant.  In this case it is THE PHONE.  I first discussed this important business device in print, in March 1995.

Some DOs

  • SPEAK CLEARLY.  When answering, speak clearly so that the caller does not have to verify who he called.  It is not very welcoming for the caller when the guy answering the phone sounds annoyed or sloppy.  SPEAKING CLEARLY indicates your interest in the caller.
  • QUALIFY.  How’d you hear about us?  Where did you learn about this product?  It is important to learn the problem for which the consumer is seeking a solution.    
  • ADD VALUE.  Teach him something he doesn’t already know about the best solution to his particular issue.  The chances of making this guy your consumer increase dramatically if he thinks you “know” and are “the expert at this stuff”.
  • ENCOURAGE A VISIT.  Be sure to answer enough questions and add enough new information to compel the consumer to want to visit your store.  This kind of discussion generally includes you complementing the consumer on “doing his homework” and “having such good taste” that a “visit to our store is simply a must for a guy like you”.

Some DON’Ts

  • SHORT ANSWERS.  “Yes.  No.  No.  Yes.  Yes.  Of course we beat all prices.  Thank you.  Good by.”  No chance the consumer will visit unless he finds you have the lowest price.
  • STEER THE CONSUMER ELSEWHERE.  “You should check the brand’s website to get the accurate information.”  This is tantamount to giving your daughter a bus ticket to the local federal penitentiary on grooming hygiene day in order to get her fingernails trimmed.  She may indeed get groomed but the rest of the experience may not make you feel so good.
  • LOCK YOURSELF INTO A CORNER.  “It only takes an hour to install”.  The consumer will expect to come in at noon and leave at 1:00pm.  This takes away all of your flexibility for other walk in business and/or unanticipated install challenges.  Such circumstances create incredibly frustrated consumers.
  • SOUND SURLY.  Treat the caller as if he has interrupted your work.  The caller/consumer on the other end of the phone is your work!   


Before you scoff at this bit of advice as “Well duhh”.  Go outside, take this article with you, and call into your store and play consumer.  If you tick off the DO bullets.  BULLY FOR YOU.  Congratulate the staff.  If you tick off any of the DON’T bullets.  Be concerned.  Do training to correct this failure. 

To paraphrase Captain Renault in Casablanca, “Rick, how extravagant you are throwing away customers (“women” in the movie) like that, some day they may be scarce.”


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