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Customer-Centric is a Verb Not Just an Intention

“Customer-Centric” isn’t a new noun in the businessman’s dictionary; it’s actually the verb that the early settlers built their businesses on.

Where Natural Customer-Centric Happened
Customer-Centric Was The Way of Life

Imagine the year 1849.  You walk into the General Store and the owner, John, looks up, and says, “Hey, Joe, how’s the missus?  Is she ready for the extra sugar for her blackberry preserves?  You know; she promised me a jar.  Is five pounds enough?  I know your mare’s nearing her foaling date; bet the young-ins are excited.   Do you need anything for her?  Ok, then,  I’ve got your regular order boxed and  I tucked in some penny candy for the boys.  I’ll put it on your account and help you carry the boxes out to the wagon.”  That’s “customer-centric” in action.

Ask most any business these days if they put their customers first and most will tell you that they do. In truth, most are running on intention.  Part of the problem is that it’s hard to estimate the amount of income that can be generated by such things as customer service improvements; customer-friendly packaging and staying in touch after the sale.  It is a risk no matter how you look at it.  Risk the change or risk failing for not.

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Be Customer-Centric in Thought and Deed

  • Plant the attitude.  Make the mission to become Customer-Centric a company-wide training and discussion.  Higher management must lead by example.
  • Connect all departments with communication.  Customers want answers fast.
  • Empower your employees to make on-the-spot decisions for your customers.  Give them the training, confidence and authority to put the customer first.
  • Give your employees a personal stake in the customer satisfaction process.  Reward them for getting it right.
  • Make Customer-Centric a core value in your company.  Hire people who understand it; who will live it.
  • Trade control for co-creation.  Listen to your customers and implement their suggestions to improve such things as customer support.
  • Find ways to make your product more user-friendly.  Think about packaging; sizing and where you put handles.  Is your product easy to open?  Heinz has an upside-down Ketch-up bottle; milk bottles have handles that cartons didn’t, and there are now squeeze handles on scissors…

“I think the success around any product is really about subtle insights.  You need a great product and a bigger vision to execute it against, but it’s really those small things that make the big difference.”  Chad Hurley

 

Sales Are Made By Teams

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships. Michael Jordan

There is a reason that we have multiple governing houses making decisions for our country.  They are meant as a check and balance system, but too, it is a division of responsibilities and a way to tap into the experience and expertise of many.  So it works in business too.  Even the strongest, most dedicated, hardworking CEO of a company could not be successful without a solid team of qualified professionals under him/her dividing up the responsibilities.  The success of a team depends on level of leadership and the success of the company depends on the level of team work.

Some years back I lived in a small town that had just one grocery store. The store had every appearance of one that belonged to a major chain. It was large, well-stocked, and clean. Prices were competitive. Its owners were known to be involved in the community and they placed full-page, color ads in the city paper. For all intent and purpose it looked like “the” place to shop.

I shopped there for some time, but I eventually took my business eight miles up the road to a store in a larger city. Why? The store lost my business because every time a bagger saw me to my car they expressed what a hateful place it was to work. (Keep in mind, in a small town everyone knows everyone, and most knew me because I was the editor of the city paper – so to them it was just friends talking to a friend.) It may well be right that they should have never voiced their grievances with a “customer,” but the fact remains – the sales team in the store from the bagger on up were not being led in a way that made them an effective team, and sales were lost.

If a sales team is comprised of qualified people who understand the value in working together; if their leader instilled common goals and principles through explanation and example, the odds of achieving success climb. People live up to expectations.

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With a solid team, you don’t make a sales call alone; you do it with
backup. The stress, responsibility and work is divided, which makes your jobs easier. The prospect relaxes when they know you rely on your team members because they know the process is fine-tuned; each step managed by the professional who is best at it. It is a win for all.

Quality Sales Team

  • Divided Workload
  • Diversified Expertise
  • Shared Accountability
  • Efficiency
  • Less Stress

Quality Buying Team

  • Purchase Considered from Multiple Angles
  • Right Questions Asked
  • Strong Change Leadership
  • Accountability

Remember even if you’re playing a game of Bingo it takes five spots covered to win. One base covered just can’t get the job done. Strong leaders build strong teams.  Collaboration and teamwork are the backbone of successful decisions.

 

 

 

 

The Language of Sales

Linguists will tell you that there are between 6,500 and 6,800 different languages spoken in the world today, but technically it would be more accurate if you doubled that number. The first thing that I learned in college was that along with every subject that I took there was a hidden language course.  The language of my master’s field, which was education, was a walk in the park for me, and the language in my business degree was comfortable, but I have to tell you the language of statistics, algebra and chemistry remained forever foreign to my ear.

Most everyone owns a copy of the basic dictionary as first conceived by Noah Webster in 1828, but if you have a career, a passion or simply a relaxing hobby you may own a dictionary with all of the terms that go with it.  I’m a writer and my novels embrace history so I have a collection of dictionaries with all of the terms from the Vietnam War; 12th Century Scotland; Gaelic translated to English; slang of the Old West, The California Gold Rush; Civil War Battles; Slavery in the Deep South, and WWII, etc.

Whether you have it in a bound book, or in your head, you own the dictionary of Sales.  Interestingly enough the words and phrases are not exclusive to business.  Mostly likely you learned them during your growing up years.

Sales Dictionary

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Thoughtful Conversation
I know this one.  It’s from The Sermon on the Mount -– “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”  If someone were calling you, wouldn’t you want them to be polite, considerate of your time, patient, a good listener, be respectful, and say please and thank you?  Wouldn’t you want them to be able to solve a problem for you?

Leadership
I learned about leadership on my 2nd grade playground.  I loved “Follow the Leader.”  Someone has to be at the head of the line, and they best know where they are going.  It takes years of learning to be a good business leader and to gain the skills that are reflected back through your confidence.  Good leaders remember what it was like to follow.

Integrity
Reliability
Preparedness
Trustworthiness
I got all of those in scouting.  I didn’t know at the time that they would serve as a foundation in all successful business deals.  Scouting was a sneaky way to build my character, but where would I be without it?  Turn your prospects into customers by polishing these traits.

Research
My 7th grade History teacher insisted on it.  At first I fought it, and then I came to love it because I finally figured out that it opened fascinating doors.  In sales it might just be the details you know that garner you a second call; that close the deal.  While the common comeback on this topic is, “there just isn’t time,” know that the time you make for it, will pay you back.

Teamwork
When I was a kid, my family ate all winter long because in the summer my sisters, my mother and myself divided the chores of picking the vegetables, peeling and chopping them up, and packing them in jars.  When the sales cycle is long, a multitude of people are involved.  It takes every hand, idea and the combined energies of the team to complete the steps in the process.  Success is the result of quality teamwork.

Rejection
All writers know about rejection.  Not everything I’ve written soared.  All rejection means is to increase efforts, improve your technique, and keep trying.  That is the way it is in sales too.  Even when you get a “no thank you” say “thank you” and dial the next number.  There are people waiting for your call.

The more comfortable you are with the language of your trade the better you will be at doing your job.  The words are nouns, but you won’t make money until you turn them all into verbs.  Do have thoughtful conversations; do follow your leader; practice integrity, reliability, preparedness, and trustworthiness.  Do the research, play nice with teammates, and shrug off rejection so that the person waiting for your call, gets it.

Solid Work Ethics for Success

 

At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your success and your failure.  The sooner you realize that, you accept that, and integrate that into your work ethic, you will start being successful.”  Erin Cummings

Everything I know about work ethics I learned from my first employer.  I was just 16 and I went to work for The House of Fabrics.  I thought the $1.65 an hour I earned was a gold mine, so I tolerated the “warden” I worked for.  Mrs. Feldon, bless her heart, was nonnegotiable when it came to the rules, and today she has my thanks because I’m never late for anything and I honestly earn my dollars.

People want to buy the best, which means you have to be better than average to make the sale.  Sales is one of the most competitive fields you can be in.  If you have a quality product, someone will improve it, and trump you.  While it’s important to stay abreast of the advances in technology and constantly upgrade your product, the best way to hold on to the leading edge is by flaunting your good character; be known for more than your product.  Follow a Moral Compass

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Work Ethic; Moral Code for Success

Integrity
Always strike a fair deal.  Promise what you can deliver and deliver what you promise.  Own up to mistakes, be quick with apologies, and make things better than right. Dishonesty will get you by in the moment – but it will come back and cost you in the long-run.

Sense of Responsibility
It isn’t the hours you work; it’s the work you put in the hours.  Imagine you own the company and build the revenue like it’s your personal bank account.  Be accountable.

Dedication to Quality
If you deliver less than high quality, those that trust your product will leave when the reality plays out.  Know that no matter how good, everything can always be made better.

Discipline
Develop an organized system that keeps you on task and leads you through the steps to get the job done.  Have a clear sense of priorities and systematically follow it. It isn’t about clock-watching; it’s about delivering on your word.

Teamwork
If one person could do it all, there would be no need for colleagues.  Hillary Clinton once said, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Know that it takes a team to run a company.  Learn the fine art of respectfully delegating tasks, and when you have a spare moment, help a colleague if they are on overload with theirs.  What goes around, comes around.  Strong team; strong company. 

What will all that get you?
It will get you repeat business, respect, and job security in a competitive world.  Remember, you teach people who you are with your actions.  When you know that your job is well done you get peace of mind that can’t be bought.

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