Walk into any office cubicle system and there is one thing they all have in common; pictures. Stroll by any person who is over 50 and I will bet they have pictures of their grandchildren everywhere. And I know that if you make one comment about one of the pictures you will hear the details and presentation skills that an even the most successful politician would die for! How do I know this? I am a first time new grandma!

Ask me about my children and I will beam and quickly update you on their lives. But ask me about my new grandbaby, Addison, and I will pull out the newest pictures that have been laminated on an 8 x 10 piece of cardstock so that you won't ruin the pictures.

If I don't happen to have that in my briefcase, I will share many of the hundreds of pictures downloaded on my cell phone! And just wait until I start sharing video so that you can hear her first words. Did I tell you she is just the best??

Ask any "older" grandchild and I bet they will say that their grandparents are their biggest cheerleaders at any event they are invited to. Grandparents are more tolerant, more forgiving, more generous and more supportive of their grandchildren as they see them as clean slates that have so much potential!

So what if you saw your business through the eyes of a grandma? How would you handle your marketing and sales procedures so that your customers would not think of going elsewhere? Here is some grandmotherly advice!

Be a Self-Promoter!

I was a contributing author to the book, "Confessions of Shameless Self-Promoters" by Debbie Allen, and I initially felt uncomfortable with that title. Then I thought, if I don't tell someone about my business who will?

Grandmas share pictures, and information to anyone who will listen. They have no problem going up to complete strangers and starting a conversation out of the blue that usually goes something like, "You know I have a grandchild just about that age…:
You see they are great relationship builders. They know how to start a conversation based on a commonality. They look for those opportunities. They see them and they grab them. Why, you may ask? Because they want to share something so important that their world will burst if they don't.

Do you feel like that about your product or service? Do you look for opportunities to tell complete strangers about what you do and who you do it for and why you are the best? I am not saying to be obnoxious but how many times a week do you run into someone who says, "What do you do"? How many times do you water down the answer because you are afraid that you will sound like a bad commercial? You see, a grandma would never, ever worry about her "commercial". She would just make it sound like the best thing ever and that you would be foolish not to give her your undivided attention.

Maybe what makes the grandmother so good at relating to others is that she makes herself "approachable". A grandmother's body language is a thing of beauty; open, inviting, warm and caring with eye contact that would melt the devil himself.

If you want to improve your communication techniques, spend some time with a grandmother.

Be Ethical

My grandmothers were as close to God as anyone I knew. If I said that the next time you practiced giving a sales presentation that your grandmother was in the front row, would you do it differently? If I said that your grandmother was sitting next to you in your office when you called your worst customer on the phone would you speak differently?

If she was at the signing of the final order with a supplier, would she object to any of the "fine print" you just happened to have slid by the client?

My guess is yes to all three. Why? I believe a grandmother represents what is good and admirable in people. Unfortunately, she does not represent how many business people do business. I believe that most businesses want to do business with people who are ethical. Business people, who tell the truth, admit when they are at fault and continually strive to build strong relationships that are built on a handshake and credibility.

Do you operate an ethical business? When people ask whom they should do business with, does yours come up immediately as the go to person because you can be trusted?
Do your employees respect you and say that you are a person who stands by their word? Do they look to you for strong leadership skills yet are they able to talk to anyone in management with a problem without fear of ridicule or blame? Does your company walk their talk?

Would your grandmother be proud of everything you do in your business and be willing to sit on your board of directors?

Build Relationships

Grandmothers know everyone! That's also why, as a kid, you could never get away with anything because Grandma would always find out. What's worse is that you would feel worse if Grandma found out more than your own mom!

Years ago, grandmothers were known by everyone in the community. Relationships were built because of the business you did with people. That business was ongoing. She knew the butcher and the grocer and the hairdresser and the banker. She was involved with the school system and new the teachers and the principal. She volunteered at different associations in town and was always helping less fortunate in her community.
Her faith was first and foremost in her life. Caring for others and what was important to them made her a person people wanted to be around when she came into a room.

Sounds like the golden rule of networking to me.

Business is built on building relationships and not by the newest and best communication skills taught at a seminar. Relationships are developed not fabricated. Friendships that are born out of business relationships are the strongest glue that holds a successful company together.

Grandmothers, no matter what their age, have lived long enough to gain the respect of those they influence. I don't think I look like the typical grandmother but my age and some of those laugh lines let me know that I have lived over a half century and have experiences to share with those who are willing to listen. From this grandmother and business owner, the best way to market a successful business is to build it on the basics of letting people know what you do, be ethical in everything you do and build a community of friends who do the same.

Want to see some grandbaby pictures?

About the author:

Anne M. Obarski is "The Customer Service Spy!" As a professional speaker and trainer, Anne will work with your company to provide you with the clues to keep your customers coming back. Anne presents keynotes, break-out sessions and customized training, nationwide, in the area of customer service. Youll want her two new books, "Surprising Secrets of Mystery Shoppers" and "Real World Customer Service Strategies That Work". For a limited time get her free, "10 Big Secrets to Giving Mystery Shopper Feedback and Get the Changes You Want", by faxing 636-922-2696 on your letterhead and write the words, BIG SECRETS. For more info go to: http://www.merchandiseconcepts.com or email Anne at anne@merchandiseconcepts.com

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