There are three things that you, as the leader of your business, can start to do today to re-charge your company’s growth.
- Commit to get personally involved in sales, marketing and customer service on a daily basis
- Go out today and talk with your customers
- Go out today and talk with the “headlights of your organization”, your sales team
“I know that I need to grow sales and develop my market presence. But, we have tried everything. The market stinks, and I just do not know where the growth is going to come from.”
How many of you have heard or are experiencing this same issue? Many? Most? All?
O.K. It is Quiz Time. I have two quizzes for you.
First, Quiz One.
Quiz One: Please answer the following one question.
Do you personally like being involved in sales and dealing with sales and marketing people and customers?
Being absolutely honest, the answer for many of you may be… NO!
But, that is all right. You see I am a recovering customerophobe. At the beginning of my time as a company President, I thought of customers as a necessary evil that distracts from all the other fun stuff in business (acquisitions, business turn-arounds, operational improvement, start-ups, etc.). Of course, that all changed for me during the telecommunications bust when our customers literally disappeared overnight and through the positive influence of my two Sales and Marketing VP’s.
So, if I can change you can change as well.
Doing the right thing in business is not just about doing what you like to do; it is about doing what needs to be done. And today in this economy, in your market space, with your company, the right thing is to “do” customer service, sales and marketing. Full Stop.
If your answer to the question above was “No”, great job in realizing it and acknowledging it (“Hi, my name is David and I am a customerophobe…”). Now that you have acknowledged it, you must figure out how to force yourself to do what needs to be done with regard to customer service and sales. As leaders, I am sure that you have lectured, taught, or screamed at somebody to change the way they do their job… or else!! Swallow your own medicine and figure out how you are going to change the way you do your job and spend the needed time on sales, customers, and growth.
For me, the easiest way to do this is to commit to some small amount of time each day, say 2 hours. Make this public to others in your organization to give you the extra incentive to do what you say to avoid losing face. Then, track your time. Follow through on your commitment and track your time every day.
If you are not willing to commit your time and effort to sales, customers and growth, save yourself some time now and Stop Reading this Blog Post because nothing will happen and nothing will change.
For those of you who are still with me, let’s go on to Quiz Two.
Quiz Two: Please answer the following three questions.
- How many customer service problems / poor quality products / missed customer deadlines has your company had in the past month? How were they resolved?
- How many times have you personally been in front of a customer in the past month?
- To resolve a customer service issue and personally apologize?
- To be on a sales call (with mouth shut) listening and learning how your best salesperson sells your products and services?
- To visit with a good and satisfied customer
i. To thank them for their business?
ii. To ask how easy it is to do business with your company?
iii. To ask how you can serve them better?
iv. To ask if they would recommend your company to others?
v. To ask about problems that they are having in their business
vi. To ask if there are any related products and services that they might need that you could provide?
3. How many times have you attended a sales meeting in the past month?
A. To go through your sales teams’ activity reports asking about who is buying and why and about new and different customers that they are seeing in the market?
B. To find out who are the high margin customers and who are the low margin customers and why?
C. To find out from the sales team about unsatisfied customers?
D. To find out how the sales team is being successful / unsuccessful in selling your products in the market and against the competition?
I would daresay that many of you have incomplete answers to these three questions. If so, then you know where to begin to re-charge growth.
The Chinese say that a long journey begins with the first step. So, the beginning of re-charging growth is to spend the next several weeks immersing yourself in customer service issues, customer visits, and time and attention with your sales team. That is what you can start doing today to re-charge growth.
WAIT!! STOP!! HOLD THE PRESSES!!! David, you stupid @*$&#*, you have not even talked about marketing and the brand!!!
That would be correct, I have not talked about marketing and brand on purpose. The goal of your branding and your marketing effort is to tell customers and potential customers what your company is about, what makes it unique and better, and why they should do business with you.
In Marketing 101, marketing and brand is defined as being all about the customer’s…
- Experiences when they deal with your company
- Perceptions when they think of your company
- Expectations of what will happen when they deal with your company
To be blunt, unless you had some really good answers on the second quiz, you do not yet know the experiences, perceptions, and expectations of your current customers. Thus, there is no point in building a branding and marketing campaign yet because it may not match the reality of what you are delivering and what you can deliver.
As a personal anecdote, I went through this exercise with one of my companies several years ago. The General Manager, the VP of Sales, and I all spent time reviewing customer service issues, speaking with customers, and meeting with the sales team. In our initial analysis, it became obvious that we had a lot of work to do before we could begin to market and brand ourselves. We agreed that if we were to market and brand ourselves right then and there, the only truthful branding tag line would have been:
“Buy from us, because we suck less than everybody else.”
Until next time.
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