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Eddie Mayfield: Customer Service


handshakeAnyone that thinks they have nothing to learn about customer service, and is in a leadership position of any sort, in any organization- is foolish.

No organization holds a technical or market advantage very long, and the defining factor for growth is often customer service.

For small businesses and organizations especially, this can be the great leveler when competing with a large company. This program starts out by asking “what kind of a customer are you?” Using that as a springboard, Eddie then uses both personal anecdotes and professional standards and research to discuss and examine the “how to’s” of good customer service.

Give this a listen..

Driven to Business with Eddie Mayfield is heard every Saturday morning at 11 AM on WAFS, Atlanta’s Business Radio. Tune in.

Simply the best business radio in Atlanta.. Driven to Business..


Dealing with negative people


Everyone runs into negative people at times.  You know, the guys who always see the glass half empty.  The people who seem to suck all the energy out of a room when they enter.

The problem is negative people can sometimes be your more intelligent employees.  And, you do in fact need their input.  So how do you keep a workplace positive, and still remain realistic?

First of all, let’s talk about negativism for a moment. According to research, a baby will usually spot a frowning face in a crowd of smiling faces, and will focus on the frowning face.  I’m not sure we ever grow out of that.

In the Old Testament book of Numbers we find the story of Moses sending 12 spies into the promised land. The Israelites had been wandering through a barren land, and now they were getting ready to enter the lush valley of the Jordan.  A land promised to them by God.

The 12 spies returned with glowing tales of the fertility of the land, but they also reported that the inhabitants were big and fierce.  They had fortified cities and frankly, they terrified the spies.

All, that is except two, Joshua and Caleb, who acknowledged the size of the  challenge,  but said with God’s help, they could take it.

The response of the others is instructive.  The more they talked about the downside, the more negative they became.  They began to make irrational statements, even saying at one point that they would be better off dead.

The negative ones  became hostile to Joshua and Caleb, even threatening to stone them.   And finally, they descended into complete rebellion, and attempted to replace Moses and return to Egypt.

So, here’s what we learn:

  • Negativism is contagious
  • Negativism leads to irrational thought
  • Negativism leads to hostility
  • Negativism leads to rebellion

Peter Bregman, writing in the Harvard Business Review gave some advice for dealing with negativity.  Here it is:

  • Don’t counter their negativity with your positivity

That seems counter intuitive, but it appears to the other person as argumentative.  People don’t like to be emotionally contradicted, and trying to convince them NOT to feel something, tends to make them feel it more stubbornly.

  • Don’t counter their negativity with your negativity

Your negativity, if you try this, will only add fuel to the fire.  Avoid doing it.

  • Understand how they feel and validate it. 

This is hard, but you are not agreeing with them, you’re simply showing that you understand how they feel.  Inc Magazine offered some good advice in this area.  “Inquire first, and advocate second.”  In other words, seek to understand why they feel the way they do.

  • Find a place to agree with them. 

You do not have to fake it, and you don’t have to agree with everything they’re saying, but if you can, agree with some of it.  You can express, for instance, that you too have frustrations over the way some things are done.

  • Find out what they’re positive about, and reinforce it.

 You are not trying to convince them to be positive, you’re simply giving attention whatever they are positive about.  Almost no one is negative about everything.  If they are in fact, completely negative, then make sure they see you supporting others who are positive.

This offers them concrete hope, because it’s based on the positive feelings they already have, rather than on feelings you think they should have.

Negativity DOES have to be dealt with, because it costs money.   Gallop says that negative and disengaged employees cost American businesses around $350 billion per year.

Gallop author Curt Coffman calls these actively disengaged negative employees “cave dwellers.”  C.A.V.E. meaning consistently against virtually everything.

Inc Magazine suggests the following:

  • Strive for healthy conflict

Healthy conflict, goes back to the earlier suggestion from HBR, inquire first, and advocate second.  There can be opposing views, but as long as both sides are actively engaged in doing what’s in the organization’s best interest, the results can be positive.

This works in all organizations, including volunteer ones, but I think that profits can be a strong motivator for a business leader reticent to try this.  Negativity costs money; there’s no escaping that fact.  So deal with it.

  • Hire positive people

That sounds almost trite doesn’t it?  But consider this: do you want a positive environment in your company?  Then don’t hire negative people to start with.

This doesn’t mean hiring yes men.  A healthy organization needs men and women that will express themselves.  But, you want people that overall, have a positive outlook on life; people that primarily look for solutions, not problems.

  • Be completely transparent

When people aren’t given the whole story, they tend to make up the rest, and it’s usually more negative than the truth.  This as much as anything can lead to negativity and disengagement.

  • Encourage innovation

This is all about letting go, and allowing people to use their creative talents.  You can counter negativity by giving people the tools to change the things that bother them the most.

  • Allow fun

I am convinced that fun is greatly underrated in most organizations.  Think of ways to make your work environment fun, even crazy at times.

  • Prune bad apples

Unfortunately, there comes a time, when a consistently negative employee has to be cut loose.  These are the grenade throwers, who don’t provide solutions, but simply exacerbate problems.  Give them a chance to change; help them.   But, if that fails let them go.

Your business’ future depends on it.



Success in spite of and perhaps because of trials


Success after trialsThe New Testament book of James says “Count it all joy when you encounter various trials.”  It goes on to say that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

I’ll confess that I’m not always joyful in the midst of trials and tribulations, whether business or personal,  but I have learned the value of them.

The picture is my son Trey and me after hiking out the Bright Angel trail from the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.  A joyful, although for me, trying hike.  But well worth the reward once accomplished.

Einstein flunked out of school, failed his college entrance exam, and was told he lacked the mental abilities to be a physicist.  Thomas Edison was considered “slow” by his teachers,  and failed thousands of times before coming up with the electric light bulb.

Harlan Sanders, of KFC fame, had a failed restaurant and was rejected over one thousand times when trying to get a franchise going.  He eventually did succeed, and built a successful restaurant chain.

The annals of business are replete with such stories, in fact, it’s more the norm than you might think.  Bill Gates had a failed company that was trying to use sell compiled  traffic data before founding Microsoft.

The trick is to learn from your failures.

In my career, I learned much more from my failures than I ever did from success.  It’s just how we’re wired.

John Maxwell wrote “Failing Forward” and he lists seven principles for learning from failure.

  1. Reject Rejection:  Do not allow your self worth to be determined by external events.  Believe in yourself.
  2. Don’t Point Fingers:  Blaming others for your failures is a sure fire way to fail backwards and learn nothing from the experience.   If I am the problem, then I am the solution.
  3. See Failure as Temporary:  You can either wallow in failure, or you can see it in perspective as a temporary setback.
  4. Set Realistic Expectations:  Unrealistic goals doom people to failure.
  5. Focus on Strengths:  It’s very tempting to concentrate on your weaknesses.  But, it’s much better to focus and build on your strengths.
  6. Vary your approaches to achievement: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Harlan Sanders, and a number of other successful people did not achieve great success in their first ventures.  Don’t put yourself in too small a box.
  7. Bounce Back:  When dealing with failures, successful people have short memories.   It’s fine to rehash and learn from failure, but it’s not fine to dwell on it.  Look forward.






More sales discussion


salespersonWe all enjoy buying, but we do not want to be sold.  I was recently in a music store looking at some guitar accessories.  The salesperson walked over and said  “may I help you?”  And I said, (just like you do)..  “no thanks..  just looking.”

That’s despite the fact that I went in there to buy a guitar accessory.   Why did I say that?  Because, just like you, I don’t like being sold anything.

In Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn  after the townspeople figure out they’ve been conned by Huck and Jim’s  unwanted raft partners, they begin yelling “sold, we’ve been sold!”  That’s the same connotation we give to that word today.  And no one likes it.

But, every successful business needs to “sell” their products and services, right?

Peter Bourke wrote “Unselling: Sell Less and Win More” It’s a great book that I had our people read.  Peter, along with most other successful sales people and sales trainers contend that the first thing you should attempt with a prospect is NOT to sell him anything, but instead to offer him value.  In short, make it about him, and not about you.

Often,  even with the best of intentions, we fail at this simply because we don’t know what the prospect or customer really values.  It’s very easy to assume we do; and it’s a deadly mistake.

In the early days of our business, I was very proud of my own technical prowess in our field.  At the risk of sounding arrogant, I was very proficient in the electronic motor drive world, and enjoyed a national reputation  as a result.  And, it was unquestionably an advantage.

However, I was often distressed when a competitor I felt was technically inferior would steal a customer or land an account I was chasing.  “How could that prospect give the business to them, when I’m so much better?”

Over time, I came to understand that what I valued most, was not necessarily valued by prospects.  They expected a certain level of expertise, in fact, it was sort of the ticket to the game.  When I repaired equipment and it worked they were happy, but they also expected it.  When my competitor repaired it, and it worked, they were also happy.  Arguing technical nuances was not interesting to the customer, even though it was paramount with me.

We must learn what the customer values before we can be of value. Bourke makes the very valid point that there are times when what the prospect values or wants is not in his best interest, and we can offer the value of educating him.   But regardless, the starting point in that discussion is to learn what’s important to him now. Then by acting on what you learn, you can become a resource instead of salesperson.

How do you discover what’s important?  Well, start by listening.  Learning what a customer or prospect values is impossible with your mouth open.  Customers care about their business, not about yours.  The more you learn to care about their business, the better relationship you can build with them.

Jeffrey Gitomer says if you lose a job to an existing customer to a competitor, it simply means that competitor has a better relationship with that customer than you do. That’s a hard pill to swallow for many of us, but like most medicine, it does us good.

Here’s a few thoughts for you to consider:

  1. Why do people buy from you?  Don’t hurry through this, take the time to analyze.
  2. Why do they buy from your competition?
  3. What’s your specific market advantage?  This is something  very important to your customers, that you excel at.
  4. How many more people would buy from you IF ONLY they knew you existed?

How strongly do you believe in your product or service?  At our electronic motor drive company EMA Inc. we say that “No One, Anywhere, is Better at Drives than we are.”  I firmly believe that, and I often ask our team member if they do.  Often when we make mistakes, we will start by saying, “we must fix this in order to remain better at drives than anyone else.”  It’s part of our culture.

This isn’t something you can just say and then leave alone, it means that every day we have to inject energy and passion into what we do, and be certain that we are in fact as good as we say.

But here’s what it does for you in sales…   It gives you a belief that cannot be penetrated about the value you can bring to a prospect.  We firmly believe that in our niche market, prospects get more value in doing business with us than with anyone else in our field.

And that makes selling and doing business a lot more rewarding.  As Peter Bourke says..   sell less and win more.


Eddie Mayfield



Relationships.. the real measure of success


daveotc21Assuming you’re ever on a death bed (as Jerry Seinfeld quipped, “why would you ever buy one of those?”) taking stock of your life, the criteria by which you measure success will be relationships.  Relationships with God, family, and friends.  And, probably nothing else.

The older I get, the more convinced I am that nothing trumps relationships, and that’s true both in your personal and business life.

Here’s a few thoughts about that:

  1. Relationships require investment.   
  2. Relationships require humility.
  3. Relationships are one on one; Facebook is not a relationship. 

Author Malcomb Gladwell in his book “Tipping Point” says that our electronically interconnected world has had the effect of renewing the desire for personal touch.  Gladwell says that we are re-entering (I’m not convinced we ever left) the age of “word of mouth.”

Think of this in your own life.  All of us are inundated with marketing messages every day in various forms.  We’ve developed filters, almost an immunity to them.  But, if someone whom we know well and trust tells us about a restaurant or a movie, we give that recommendation instant credibility.  That’s the power of a relationship. It does, trump all other marketing.

Jeffery Gitomer, author and business coach wrote “The Little Black Book of Connections” some years ago.  I’ve read it several times, and have even given copies to friends.  In addition to his book, Gitomer has written numerous blogs on the subject.

Here’s a few highlights from him:

  1. Make the focus of the relationship the other person, not you.  No one wants to be used.
  2. Don’t worry as much about customer satisfaction, as about customer loyalty.  This is huge.  Loyalty requires a relationship.
  3. If you lose a job to a current customer to a competitor on price, it means the competitor has a better relationship than you do.
  4. If you think you will make a sale because you have the best product, price, or service- you’re kidding yourself.  50% of sales are made on the basis of friendship. 

So, how do you start to build relationships?  Slowly.   Harvey Deutschendorf suggests:

  1. Learn to be a great listener.  Everyone wants to be heard and understood.  We naturally bond with people that really hear us, and we want to spend time with them.
  2. Ask the right questions.  Be sure you understand them by digging deeper.  One way is to say, “if I understand you correctly, you said… ”  When others sense that you’re sincerely trying to understand them, then tend to open up.  This deepens the relationship.
  3. Pay attention to the whole person.  We tend to remember and appreciate people who ask us if everything is OK, even if we haven’t told them anything is wrong.   It tells us that they are paying attention to us.
  4. Remember things that are important to them. People will tell us what they value, if we just listen.
  5. Manage your emotions.   People who tend to have mood swings have a hard time building deep relationships.  Erratic shifts in mood tend to push people away.  If this is a problem for you, work on it.
  6. Share your story, but only when the time is right.   We all know people that begin sharing intimate details of their lives before we’re ready to hear it.  Pace yourself, and wait till the right time.   IF you have an experience that relates to the other person’s experience, it’s usually good to share it.  But, here’s a caution; don’t upstage their experience with yours.
  7. Be genuine and fun.  People enjoy being around positive people who are comfortable in their own skin.

Finally, go places and do things.   Don’t give a customer a ticket to a ball game, take them to a game, and if possible, take their family.

Gitomer suggests an I-Max movie for the whole family.  And do NOT bring up business there, unless they do.

Don’t have time for all this relationship building stuff?  Then maybe you’d better find a mundane job where it doesn’t matter.  Because in every significant job, it does.


Eddie Mayfield




Negotiation: Learn the skill


Yhandshakeou will not go far in your career without learning negotiating skills. Daniel Pink wrote “To Sell is Human” and in there he defines selling as moving a person from one position to another. Deepak Malhotra in his book “Negotiating the Impossible” defines negotiation as the process by which two or more parties who perceive a difference in interests or perspective attempt to reach an agreement.

I read an interesting Bloomberg blog recently by Jim Camp titled “Business Schools Teach Negotiating Tactics that Don’t Work.” 

He states that most of these tactics make the mistake of assuming any agreement is better than no agreement.  We’ve said at EMA for years that there are worse things than failing to land a project, and that’s getting a project you shouldn’t have.

Camp makes a great point that no one should come to the negotiating table with preconditions, assumptions, or expectations for gaining agreement.  The smart negotiator recognizes that he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

I heard a Montgomery Ward executive speak many years ago about his experience as a young manager trainee.  The store sold a wood heater to an elderly couple, the stove malfunctioned and caused damage to their home.

The senior management assumed the worst, thinking the couple wanted an exorbitant amount of money or settlement.  They sent the young trainee out there, and he asked the question no one else had bothered to ask: “what would you like us to do?”

He was surprised to hear them say, that they just wanted their carpet replaced in the room with the stove.  This reiterates Camp’s point.

How do you learn what you don’t know?  Very simple, you ask questions.

This isn’t to say that you don’t prepare for negotiations, but your research is to help the negotiator ask the right questions, not to instill assumptions.

The best questions are open ended what, how, and why questions.

Deepak Malhotra suggests that you negotiate process before substance.  Many of us have had the frustration of a long negotiation only to have the other person say, “well, I have to get my boss’ approval.’ We thought he WAS the boss.  It’s imperative that you understand and negotiate the process before getting to that position.

Selling to the wrong person is a time honored sales mistake, and it should be avoided.  You should clarify and reach agreement on the path to a decision.

Peter Bourke in his book “Un-Selling: Sell less and win more” suggests that you clearly understand the time factor.  Many negotiators and sales people will ask “when do you plan to make a decision on this project,” and then just accept what is said.  Bourke suggests asking a followup question, “what bad things will happen if you don’t make a decision by that date?”

If the answer is, in essence, “nothing,” then that’s not a real deadline.

Negotiation:  You’d better get skilled at it.




Selling your point of difference


differenceI once heard Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley say, that “if you have the only hotdog stand in town, your hotdogs don’t have to be that good.”  Most of us don’t have that option.

Business Coach Sue Miley wrote a blog recently on leveraging your points of difference. Sue rightly insists that if don’t leverage what makes your company unique, then you are the same as everyone else.

She gives 5 questions to help determine your point of difference.

  1. Who Buys from you? Go a little deeper than women or men and determine as best you can exactly “who” buys from you.
  2. Why does your customer buy from you?
  3. Why do they buy from you and not from your competitor?  This is where you begin to list qualities that are unique to your business and important to your customers.
  4. Are your unique qualities sustainable? I especially like this question.  In the industrial business that I’m in, some might say that we’re the only person in the SE stocking a particular part. But, what if a competitor begins stocking it? Is that still a unique quality?
  5. Are your unique qualities real? “We offer great customer service” is not a real point of difference.  What does that even mean?  ” We will have an A/C technician at your house within 2 hours-” is.

The more you can target, focus, and refine your market, the more successful you will be.  And by being certain that the value proposition you present contains real points of difference the easier it becomes to target.

I used to do a lot of trade shows.  There was always a tension between getting numbers of people to visit your booth, and getting qualified people to visit.  At these male dominated shows, you could ensure heavy booth traffic by having an attractive female on display, OR by raffling away sports tickets.

But I came to the conclusion early in my career, that smaller was bigger.  We didn’t just want people tramping through the booth, we wanted people that were interested in our products and services, and had the ability to buy them.

Remember, your target customer doesn’t have to be an existing customer, in fact, they may not even be aware you exist.

But if you’ll spend the time determining what your points of difference are, what target market that appeals to , and then relentlessly focusing on it.  You’ll find success.

One final thought..   these are moving targets.  Especially where technology is concerned, what was a viable business a few years ago, may not be now.  Know your business!






Biz Fundamentals


eddieyosemiteThe term “common sense” is often used to describe what we think of as obvious to most people.  However, as some have quipped, “common sense isn’t always common.”

I feel that way when I see people and businesses violating the most fundamental rudiments of business, without any realization they are doing so.

Here are a few:

  • Ignoring Cash:  Out of cash, is out of business.  It’s really not more complicated than that.  It’s a business fundamental, that while obvious, is commonly violated.  When I was flying airplanes, we were often told the first rule of flying was to watch your airspeed, and the second rule of flying, was again, watch your airspeed.   The reason is the moment air is no longer flowing past the wings at a sufficient rate, you stall.   In business, that rule is cash.
  • Look at your business through the eyes of your customers:  If they say your service is bad, your service is bad.  It makes no difference what you or your employees think.  Violate this business fundamental, and your customers will put you out of business.
  • Price your products and services properly: Prices should be set by the value that customers assign.  Many businesses fall into the “markup” trap.   You pay $100 for a part; you figure 10% is a reasonable return, so you sell it for $111.11 (by the way, you divide your cost by .9, you don’t multiply by 1.1 to achieve a 10% margin) .  However, that part has a value of $1000 to the customer.  Sell the value, not the cost.   Not every job or sale goes well, and if you are pricing yourself with little or no margin, it will eventually catch up.  Price by value, as determined by the customer.
  • Your job is to create and keep customers:  It is not to have nice furniture, or a snazzy website.  All of those may be nice, but the fundamental priority is to create and keep customers.
  • Hire the right people:  I learned this the hard way.  At one time, I hired strictly based on skills, paying little or no attention to personality, temperament, or values.  I was often surprised, naively, that employees weren’t as nice to customers or their colleagues as I’d hoped.  Hire honest people that have the skills to help you grow the business, that fit your culture, and are friendly.  A bad hire costs you a lot more than a wasted salary, it can cost you your business.  I go a step further, hire people that you enjoy being around.  It sure makes running a business a lot more fun.

Eddie Mayfield

Driven to Business, hosted by Eddie Mayfield, airs at 11 AM every Saturday on WAFS, Atlanta’s Biz 1190 AM.  The show is podcast on and itunes, and streamed live on 

Simply the best business radio in Atlanta..  Driven to Business.



Problem Solving: Part of Leadership


Eddie discusses this and other leadership topics on this episode of Driven to Business


Burnout: It can happen


jordandesertThe alarm goes off, and you get a sick feeling in your stomach.  You do NOT want to go to work.  There’s only one problem, it’s your company.

That happens more often that you might think.  Most entrepreneurial types face burnout.   I don’t mean the feeling of being overloaded or frustrated, I mean burnout.

Per consultant Erica Diamond,  burnout is powerful and all consuming.  It’s the inability to feel at ease, happy, or restful.  Your mind is no longer your own, and for most, you can’t sleep.

I ran into this about two years after founding my industrial services company, EMA Inc. It seemed that despite my best efforts, I could never see the light at the end of the tunnel. My dreams and enthusiasm for growing a company had faded.  Just keeping up with the details, personnel issues, financial problems, sales, customer demands, and vendor problems consumed all my energy.

I was exhausted; I wasn’t running a business, it was running me.

I found myself, for the first time in my life, in a state of depression.  Something had to give.  I talked with my wife Vicki, with one of my Pastors, and with several other businessmen.  I prayed and thought about it and reached a conclusion.

I made a conscious decision to pull back from the business.  If it failed, it would fail, I just wasn’t going to lay awake at night worrying about it.

Amazingly, to me at least, after I did this, EMA began to prosper, and so did I.

I am thoroughly convinced that one of the primary causes of small business failure is founder burnout.

Erica Diamond gives 5 steps to combat it.

  1.  Get help:   Find an objective ear and shoulder to lean on.  This may mean learning a bit of humility,
  2. Get some balance:  You don’t have to stop, but you do have to balance.
  3. Create a “worry” list:  She suggests that when something pops into your mind after hours, write it down and forget it till the next day.  Give yourself some mental space.
  4. Learn your limits, know your needs:  I have learned what will set me off, and especially at night, I just will not read an upsetting  report or email till the next day.  You can’t hide (nor should you) from your responsibilities, but you do them on your time schedule.
  5. Sleep: Sounds so simple, but one of my biggest issues was lack of sleep.  Lay off the caffeine a bit, get some exercise, and set a cutoff time an hour or so before bedtime for business.

I’m all about business success, and have been blessed to experience quite a bit of it.  But, life has value and meaning because of relationships; primarily those with God, family, and friends.

The investment of yourself into those areas, must not be allowed to decline in order to keep a business running.

We are geared in our culture to arrive somewhere, including success.  It’s kind of like going on vacation; we’re in such a hurry to get to the beach.  But, the vacation doesn’t start when you get to the beach, it starts when you leave the driveway.  The trip is part of the vacation.

Many business owners will tell you the most enjoyable and memorable times of their business life was before their businesses had any great success.  The trip was fun.

None of this is to suggest that you not work hard.  In fact, if you don’t your business will likely fail.

But, while you’re working..   “it’s only life, enjoy the ride.”  (Ricky Skaggs song)