Customers come third
Julian Richer, Richer Sounds, two times winner of UK’s Best Retailer award
I once thought about writing a book with the title It’s all about people stupid. It was around the time Bill Clinton said, It’s about the economy stupid. In my mind then was that the economic success of a business is inextricably linked to how an organisation treats its people. I might not choose that title today but I’m as convinced as ever that you have to get the people thing right.
Every commercial organisation has the same fundamental task – to exchange products and services for money. However complex, however shrouded in ‘professional’ mystique a business is, it all boils down to selling things that don’t come back to customers who do.
For years organisations have broadcast that customers come first but then many don’t deliver in way that makes the customers feel that they are important at all.
To sustain success at exchanging products and services for money you have to put customers not first but third. You have to have to put people first, products and services second, then customers.
“Putting the customer truly first means putting the employee who serves the customer ‘more first’.” Tweeted by Tom Peters
When you get the people thing right, they will get the products and services right, they will look after your customers and your business with zeal.
Be a principled selling sales leader
Leadership isn’t about position; it is about behaviours. A Principled Organisation is led by leaders who demonstrate that they are principled, who behave ethically and with integrity to do what is right in all situations. Leaders face many challenging situations and sometimes have to take tough decisions but when all situations are dealt with based on ground rules that are non-negotiable, leading a business and sustaining success become a whole lot easier. Leaders ensure that there is an environment in which people can excel at making a contribution to business development.
“You manage ‘things’ but you lead people.” Grace Hopper, US Naval Officer
Management is really important, it provides the disciplines needed to accomplish things. Without sound management no business could survive. Ticking the right boxes, having the right processes and systems is vital. Good management can keep things going but it is only leadership that gets people engaged and motivated.
Your management ability puts a companywide business development culture on everyone’s agenda. Your leadership skills get everyone committed to it. As a leader you should use your management skills not in some sort of policing role but to make sure that systems and processes support your people to win dream customers and give great customer service.
A DIET FOR INSPIRATIONAL PRINCIPLED SELLING SALES LEADERS
Experience suggests that like most things, leadership can be simplified into behaviours that drive actions that make a difference. Building a business that lives by its principles and where everyone understands the impact they have on whether customers buy and re-buy, just needs leaders who go on a DIET.
Leadership comes from an ancient word that means to navigate at sea. I can’t think of a better way to explain the number one priority of a leader – to show which way the ship is going. Sailors use navigational aids like charts and GPS, leaders use aids like vision, values and principles.
The best leaders have a clear idea of where they want to go and what the future looks like. They have their email from the future that sets out what the ideal situation is three years ahead. They then share that with everyone in their team.
A vision paints a picture of the future in words so that it changes from being ‘your’ vision to ‘our’ vision. The key with sharing visions is to remember that no one ever gets out of bed to help you do deliver your dream unless it is their dream too. When you share your vision always make sure you answer the WIFM question – what’s in it for me?
Inspiring others is about understanding the power of words. You don’t need to be charismatic to inspire people; you don’t need to be a great orator who can engage an audience of thousands. You just need to understand the power of words and then choose your words wisely when you communicate. To get the best from people you need emotional intelligence.
Words have the power to inspire or deflate, to calm or inflame, to create positive or negative responses that have a direct impact on performance.
Whoever wrote ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me’ really didn’t know what they were talking about. Words have a physiological effect on people. So much so that they can drive outstanding performance or kill performance dead in the water. Words can affect a person’s performance for an hour, a day or even a whole lifetime.
There’s a lot of science to it but I like to think of the effect of words in terms of ‘ouch’ or ‘wow’ moments. Sometimes words sting and sometimes words inspire.
“Dear Big Boss, remember when you weren’t the big boss and how good it felt when the big boss said your name. Do that.” Tweeted by Vala Afshar, Chief Customer Officer, Enterasys Networks
“What about one leadership style – Enthusiast in Chief?” Tweeted by Tom Peters, Author and Management Guru
Enthusiasm is inspiration plus excitement and it is contagious. Teams and individuals with a spark of enthusiasm can overcome the most serious of obstacles and deliver outstanding performance.
Some people in leadership positions underestimate the effect they have on people just by the mood they portray. Some bosses are drains and some are radiators. Drains, take away everyone’s energy just by being in the room. For them every silver cloud has a black lining; they see the negative in everything and make sure they share negativity around. Often we try to avoid drains because when you spend time with them it can really spoil your day.
Radiators, on the other hand, fill people with energy and a Can Do attitude. People want to be around them because just by being in their presence they feel better and more enthusiastic themselves. If you are not sure that it matters much, ask your customers whether they like to deal with people for whom everything seems too much or with people who seem to have boundless energy and give them great service.
The most effective and efficient way for a Principled Selling Sales Leader to get things done is through teamwork.
The benefits of teamwork include:
- synergy whereby the results obtained by the team working together are greater than if the individuals worked alone
- the empowerment of individuals to innovate and deliver great customer service
- the cutting across of silos which in turn encourages multi-disciplinary work
- the fostering of flexibility and responsiveness to change
- The promotion of a sense of achievement, equity and camaraderie that keeps people motivated.
Is it time for you to go on a leadership DIET?
If you liked this post, you may also enjoy these:
- Inspirational Sales Leadership – Part One
- We choose who we allow to understand us
- Principled Selling: how to win more business without selling your soul
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