C-Suite Network™

Marketing Operations Personal Development

A.I.: The Death Knell For Relationship Marketing, Or The Birth Of The Loveable Salesbot?

How well will a robot function as the source of marketing communication?  Advertisers spend huge sums to recruit just the right (human) endorser for a brand, but at least so far no one seems to be giving much thought to what a salesbot or AI-generated model should look like or sound like.

That’s a big mistake.  To read more,  please click here.

Growth Leadership Operations Personal Development

You No Longer Have to Keep Up with Your Competition

I’ve got good news and bad news for you. The good news is that you no longer have to keep up with your competition; the bad news is that now you have to keep up with your customer – meaning your customer’s expectation of the service that makes you competitive.

Perhaps you just heard that your competitor is working hard to take away business from you – maybe they’re announcing a new product; maybe they’re advertising a major sale; maybe they’re opening a new location. Will any of these decisions cause your customers to leave you to do business with them?

Perhaps. After all, that is their goal. But what if you heard that your competition wasn’t competing with you on product, price, or location? What if you hear that they’re implementing a new customer service initiative? Their goal, you heard, is to have the best customer service in the industry.

Here’s my take: good for them. Let them go head-to-head with customer service and experience expectations based on the existing industry standards. I have a better idea: don’t let them set your bar. Let the best of the best, regardless of industry standards, set your bar.

What company do you think has the very best customer service? Is it Nordstrom, Apple, or Zappos? Is it the restaurant down the street that knows you by name and makes you feel like a guest in their home? Is it the inside sales rep from one of your suppliers who somehow always accommodates your deadlines and special requests, and always does so with an amazing attitude?

None of these companies or people may be in your industry, but they can be your benchmark for amazing customer service – service that is not based on customer expectations for your industry, but expectations from the best people and companies they’ve ever encountered.

Let me give you this message in a short, 11-word sentence:

The best customer service sets the bar for all customer service.

Customers know what good service is and their expectations today are formed by whoever gives them their best service experience, whether in or out of your industry.

So, back to the questions … What company do you think delivers the best service? Is it one of the iconic brands previously mentioned, or that local company? What is it that this business or person does to make you think they are the best? And, here is the more important question:

What do they do that you don’t do that you can do?

That’s where you start. Maybe it’s something you can copy although my suggestion is not to copy but to adopt and adapt. Adopt the strategy, but change or tweak it to make it uniquely yours. If you’re open to the best customer service practices from every industry, then you will spot trends and strategies before your competition. At that point, keeping up with your customers will be nothing but good news for your bottom line.

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go twww.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

Best Practices Entrepreneurship Management Marketing Personal Development

Why Your Elevator Pitch Still Matters

If you want to attract an investor, get a job, get a raise, or maybe even get a date: you’ve got to have an elevator pitch. Or, more accurately: The NEW Elevator Pitch.

Some might think of the elevator pitch as a throwback to a long-ago era, before technology became commonplace. And that’s true: the elevator platform has been replaced with the social platform.

While it’s true that you can swipe right to make a connection, that’s only the start of the conversation. An employer might be interested because of your LinkedIn profile. But sooner or later, someone is going to say,

So, tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you do?

The online conversation can only take you so far. According to this article in Harvard Business Review, over two-thirds of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees. Are we losing the ability to have an effective conversation?

The need for a new kind of conversation has never been greater. The influx of technology is crippling our ability to interact, and that old-school “facetime” conversation is now stilted, awkward and uncomfortable. Why?

  • We still need to persuade others, and get them enrolled in new ideas
  • Investors still want to hear from you, personally, before they part with their money
  • Hiring the best and the brightest means being able to share your story quickly – clearly – concisely

When you want to persuade and influence the people that matter most (whether that’s your life partner or business partner), you’ve got to understand these key components of a new kind of conversation. That conversation is what I call the NEW Elevator Pitch.

  • If it doesn’t matter to your listener, it doesn’t matter: Have you ever met someone who can only talk about themselves? I know one guy who was out on a date and his conversation starter was, “So what have you heard about me?” Wow. Yikes. Ouch. And for entrepreneurs, the problem can be just as challenging: focusing on your business, without looking at the impact for the investor, is deadly. Sure, you’ve worked hard, and your life experiences make you who you are, but at the end of the day: what matters most? Is it your past…or your potential? Ultimately, you have to turn what you’ve done in the past into what you can do for others. Otherwise, what matters to you won’t matter much.
  • Create a “Tell Me More..”: If you want to know if you’ve got a great pitch, remember this: the best ‘pitch’ isn’t a pitch at all. It’s a conversation. A conversation that makes your listener say, “Tell me more.” Those three words – tell me more – let you know that you’ve started a dialogue. That’s how you know if someone is interested. And if you’re wondering, “What’s the opposite of ‘tell me more’?”, the answer is: “So what?”
  • Include an invitation: The NEW Elevator Pitch is a persuasive conversation. In other words, you want someone to take action. That means that just providing information isn’t enough. Information is everywhere. I know, because I just googled it. Information doesn’t always lead to action. Think about it: you know you shouldn’t eat that second donut. But there it is. Your knowledge can’t stop you from snarfing down that delicious chocolate covered donut. What is it that makes people want to take action? This video can tell you more, but basically: you’ve got to remember to include an invitation. An invitation that’s easy to say ‘yes’ to. An invitation that’s logical, simple and clear. If you don’t offer a next step, how can people know what action you hope to create? And more importantly, how can someone learn what kind of outcome you might be able to achieve, together?


You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to be in the market for a great pitch. You just have to have an idea worth sharing. All you need is a story to tell. You have ideas you want to share. The NEW Elevator Pitch can help you to deliver your message.

My question for you is: do you know how to bring your ideas to life?

For more resources that can help you to access your authentic story, take a look at my YouTube channel. And, if you would like some help with your pitch, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

New results could be just one conversation away.


About the Author

A coach to entrepreneurial leaders on four continents, Chris Westfall has helped transform brands across the globe. His clients have appeared on Shark Tank, Dragons Den in Canada and also Shark Tank – Australia. Recognized as the US NATIONAL ELEVATOR PITCH CHAMPION, he regularly provides guidance to C-Suite executives on powerful communication skills.  Follow him on twitter or Instagram, and check out over 200 videos on effective communication, via his YouTube Channel.

Entrepreneurship Management Marketing Personal Development

The Sudden Death of Products and Services

Texas Sunset

Your customer has spoken: products and services are dead.

Consumed by new marketing strategies, all products and services have been replaced.

The next next thing in marketing and branding?


Marketing and Branding with Chris WestfallCalling something a product or service just doesn’t make any sense in the new economy. The description is out of date. Those words don’t apply to today’s consumers or companies.

Marketing professionals and sales people need to understand:
Products and services are dead.

Every leader has to understand: every company, everywhere, is selling experiences.


Think about it: The things that we buy and consume, either as individuals or as a corporate entity, are not products. These things are not services.

We buy, acquire, endure and enjoy experiences.

Related: Four Ways to Overcome Your Blind Spot on Entrepreneur.com

Today, commerce trades on the experience you have, and the experience you provide.

Consider these experiential products:

  • A vacation in Hawai’i
  • Purchasing a new Porsche Panamera
  • Transitioning your organization to SAP CRM
  • Changing vendors for your outsourced call center

Which of these are products, and which are services? Answer: None, and all. The old words don’t work anymore; we need to choose new ones if we want to tell a story that’s authentic and complete. And all customers – all consumers – crave authenticity.

Marketing Products and Services in a VaccuumYou see, no product exists in a vaccuum.

Even a vaccuum cleaner.

No service stands alone without products. These things are really events, or experiences, made up of a series of products, services and interactions.

And so many things are outside the scope of either products or services. For example: what if you donate to a non-profit? What about that last iPhone app, or a new piece of software – what is it exactly, product or service?

What we want, what we pay for and what we get can all be summed up in one way: experiences.

Today’s customer (whether a corporation or a person, and by the way they are NOT the same) wants an experience. Perhaps an experience that is fantastic (like visiting the most beautiful place on the planet, Hawai’i) or excruciating (transitioning to SAP CRM, for example, because your CFO chose the low-bidder on the job).

Even a traditional product purchase, like buying a new car, requires a series of events that create an experience that circumvents the “product” (whatever the hell that is, anyway). For example, when you buy a car, unless you have $108,433.00 cash (that’s a nice car! welcome to the C-Suite), you are going to need financing.

Maybe you will lease the vehicle. Maybe you will talk to the finance manager, or the sales manager, about your options. You go through a series of events and choices; this is all part of the experience of ownership. The most traditional “product” in America (the automobile) gives you an experience. The experience of the purchase, the experience of the service, and the experience of the brand. How does your car make you feel about yourself? Are you comfortable, and do you feel powerful behind the wheel? Those feelings are as real as the tires and the spark plugs – a very real experience, indeed.

Marketing Matters

“Product” and “service” are incomplete definitions. Consider the experience you want to have, as a consumer or a corporation. And, if you want to reach new customers in new ways, think long and hard about the total customer experience. Services and products alone just aren’t cutting it anymore.


Bullet Proof Branding by Chris WestfallMore Information and Additional Resources: 

Check out Bullet Proof Branding.  Find out how Cisco, Cargill, the Huffington Post and other organizations are creating impact in the digital age.

With a foreword by Ted Rubin, this book takes a look at how the conversation is changing for companies and individuals, in the age of social media.

About the Author: Chris Westfall is the publisher of seven books, including BulletProof Branding. His latest book is called Leadership Language, coming from Wiley in the fall of 2018. A business coach to entrepreneurial leaders on four continents, Chris Westfall has reshaped brands around the globe – creating multi-million dollar results in the process. His clients have appeared on Shark Tank, Dragons’ Den in Canada and Shark Tank – Australia. Find out more on his website and follow him on twitter.

Photo credits: Texas Sunset by the author. Girl with laptop and vacuum cleaner: creative commons via flickr.

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