Walking with the Customer in Romania

Jim has just finished a seven-week odyssey in Romania. He drove over 6,000 kilometers, visiting 30 agencies, trained over 2,300 agents and managers, and visited 25 cities in Romania for ING Romania. As well he presented at the MDRT conference in Romania. As in many companies in most countries of the world, ING was coping with a downturn in the economy. ING chose to pro-act rather than react. They hired Professional Sales Plus, and Jim in particular, to interact, motivate, inspire and change their sales force.

This event was emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically demanding. Jim traveled with an interpreter by the name of Adrian Iacobus. Jim and Adrian became great friends through this odyssey. Because of their efforts, they touched a large number of consultants and managers, and apparently inspired them. Following is the message Jim conveyed to all who would listen.

Many companies around the world found 2009 and the beginning of 2010 to be difficult and challenging. Consultants and managers were struggling to fill the gap between the customer's rising expectations of our industry and their diminished trust in us. It is apparent that many consultants and managers around the world have walked away from the customer. They do not really listen to or problem-solve with the customer. Far too many have become product pushers rather than relationship managers.

Many consultants and managers do not touch the heart of the customer, show them a process that is focused on the customer or find the gap between where the customer is today and where they would like to be in the future. Therefore they struggle to be successful.

We (Adrian and I) observed and participated in a very deep and insightful look at the financial services industry. It was so apparent to us that there is a huge gap between what we offer, how we behave and what the customer expects from us. We tried to fill the gap by encouraging the consultants to think more about the customer and behave in a manner that brings them closer to customer. We must begin to repair the lack of trust they have in us. We gave the consultants and managers processes and tools to allow them to walk with the customer.

We realized this odyssey was truly a gift to us, although it was incredibly demanding. This experience raised our awareness of the reality that all financial services companies are facing as they try to survive and thrive in 2010. The information we learned and the experience we gained will allow us to add greater value to our existing and future clients all around the world.

This trip was a highlight of my 22+ years in the financial services business in Canada and around the world. The Romanians are wonderful people and they treated us with great kindness and courtesy. What an amazing experience. Our thanks to all of you that organized this trip and made it so successful.

As of March 11, 2010, we heard that productivity is up significantly and moral is at a all-time high in ING Romania. Apparently we had a very positive effect. Wonderful news!

New Russian Publisher

We recently signed a contract with a new Russian Publisher - Infotropic. My good friend and editor, Holger, in Russia has moved from his former company and started a new company in Russia called Infotropic. His company has agreed to publish four of my books; The Passionate Manager (book 1), The Passionate Agent (book 2), The Passionate Service Recipe Book (book 4) and The Passionate Salesperson (book 6). We look forward to offering these titles in Russian in 2010.

Book number 7 - The Passionate Sales Manager

Work is proceeding nicely on my seventh book - The Passionate Sales Manager. This book is partly a revision of The Passionate Manager but is filled with a lot more information, systems, processes and tools to allow the sales manager to more effectively manage salespersons. There is one chapter that should be of great value to the sales manager called OpenAgile©. OpenAgile© is a copy written development system that creates an environment where teams dramatically improve their professionalism, productivity and profitability. Those managers that adopt this methodology will quickly gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. As well, in this book we will help the new manager transition into management. As you can tell I am excited about this new book. We will publish in English, in March 2010.

OpenAgile Training

Professional Sales Plus is heavily promoting OpenAgile(TM) training in 2010. We feel that a new development and management model is drastically needed in the Financial Services industry. Over the past year we have been piloting the methodology in three different companies in 2 different countries. The results have been outstanding and dramatic. If you would like more information, please contact us. We believe this methodology will sweep the industry.