Recently Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business (Business 1110 AM KTEK) on Bloomberg’s home in Houston, interviewed Richard J. Atkins, Ed.D., President of Improving Communications. Here is that interview:
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).
New York-based Improving Communications provides training services and speakers to help individuals and businesses reduce waste and develop a more positive workplace environment.
Since 2001, Improving Communications has provided trainings to employees of companies such as The Estée Lauder Companies, Madison Square Garden, Cablevision, The British Consulate-General, Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), MSC Software, and Interstate National Dealer Services. Combining instructional experience and expertise in educating individuals with a focus on language enables Improving Communications to help you maximize your most important resource—your people.
Tell us your story about the lengths you have gone to get a customer?
For a few years, I had been bringing my family to Mets games, always enjoying them and having fun in Citi Field. And as the co-owner of a company that provides communication skills training, my radar is always searching for potential new clients-especially ones that I like/use their services.
One night, while exiting the park with the family, I spotted a guy with a lapel badge that read “Director of Guest Experience.” I thanked him for all the fun times we’ve had there and asked if training fell under his prevue. With his acknowledgement, I decided that we wanted The Mets and Citi Field as a client.
Every so often, I’d invite him to send an employee as our guest to one of our public classes in Manhattan-and he would! The attendees ended up loving our material, and seeing a need for it in the organization.
We proposed a training schedule to them. When the time for decision making came, my phone rang. Simply stated, they didn’t have the budget for what we proposed. My follow-up question was, “Do you have a dollar?” I could hear the smile through the phone.
We ended up doing our first paid training for that organization for one dollar. There was a caveat – they had to pay us with a check (that way, we would be set up in their system already as a vendor). Since then, we’re very proud and happy to call The New York Mets / Citi Field, a great client.
Do you know of other examples of the lengths businesses have gone through to get customers?
Yes. I once heard of a business owner who, in an effort to be enthusiastic for his product, “hammered” a bit too much on one particular prospect. The prospect let him know this and told him to “back off.” Sometime later, a gift arrived at the prospect’s office. It was a pie!
The business owner included a note which alluded to the concept of “eating some humble pie.” Their dialogue was restarted, and a business relationship grew.
What lessons, if any, do you derive from these stories?
With creativity and flexibility, most “NOs” can beturned into “YESes.”
Richard J. Atkins, Ed.D.
Improving Communications, LLC
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