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September 26, 2012

5 Leading Factors in a Thriving Business.

Values Matter Now

In his excellent book, What Matters Now, Gary Hamel lists five issues as paramount for whether an organization will thrive in the coming years:

>> values

>> innovation

>> adaptability

>> passion

>> ideology

For the next five weeks I want to address each of these from the perspective of selling. The first issue, values, determines a lot of what happens in the others, so we’ll start there.

When a company says it values their customers, the key issue is whether they are walking the talk. Does senior management actually have a program for measuring customer satisfaction? If not, how can they address this goal? We all know that you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Do they interact with customers on occasion and demonstrate their commitment to this stated value? Or do they rely on the sales manager and the outside sales force to handle this for them?

Do senior managers offer training for their sales force in how to understand business issues facing their customers? Do they teach their sellers how to have conversations with their customers at every level based on better understanding the customer’s priorities and goals? Do they help their sellers bring creative ideas and suggestions to the customer based on actual usage of products and services rather than marketing material?

If you value your customers, you invest in serving them better. While many companies are willing to spend some time and money on training for their outside sales people, many focus on technique rather than intent. If a seller lacks the ability to approach a customer with integrity as their guide, they will not be able to foster the trust and respect necessary for building a long-term successful customer base. If they lack the ability to understand and empathize with the customer’s business challenges, they bring less value to the customer than those who do.

And what about technical support? The inside sales staff? Credit and accounts receivable? Many times they have more day-to-day contact with the customer than the outside sales force, yet few companies invest in sales training for people providing these vital functions. When companies do invest in training these people in how to do their jobs with the value of customer satisfaction as their guide, the whole company benefits from the increased loyalty of the customer base.

I agree with Hamel that values are the number one priority for businesses who want to succeed, but those stated values must guide decisions from senior management down to the “feet on the street” and the voice on the phone to create sustainable success.

This post first appeared in Lighting a Spark blog at www.sparkercoaching.com/blog.

 

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Editor: Brianna Bemel

 

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