Add some magic to your business!
Music is a big part of my life; both in listening and also sometimes performing. The thing is, the way great music is made, is not at all far from how we can get great results in business as well!
I spent the better part of last Saturday listening to hundreds of kids (including two of my own) playing in a regional school band competition. A winter of rehearsals culminates in a nerve testing performance on stage in front of professional judges and hundreds of people in the audience. Of course, as a father, I think our school band was “best”, but it struck me how far many of the bands have come in actually sounding like orchestras as opposed to groups of individuals.
Talented individuals can bring a lot to a band.
- But there’s no magic until the group can play as one, enhancing the outcome by delivering more than the sum through fine-tuned musical collaboration. A string of tones becomes music. And surprisingly, a group of less skilled players may sound better together than a group of players that technically and individually may be rated superior. The key for any group is to find the common vibe, sense and feel each other and the voice or role everyone is playing, and then to perform as one big, beautiful instrument. Sudeenly, magic occurs and a group of average-talented school kids can hit strings deep inside you and touch you. Touch me. Make me loose track of time and space, just listen, enjoy and be.
Can this happen in business?
Of course. It happens every day. Teams working better together are outperforming seemingly “better” teams of individuals. Taking their cues from naturally collaborating working ants, well coached and inspired football teams or passionate sounding symphonic orchestras and school bands, these business teams achieve more, have happier customers, better results and a great team spirit enabling them to take on their next challenge with joy and creativity.
They know that they are Better- Together!
- So, is your team or organization working together? Better together? Or are you just a bunch of more or less coordinated individuals with pay checks? It’s time to find the passion, tune in and collaborate!
Storytelling, and never forgetting what you do well
I recently spent two days in Copenhagen, interviewing some of our customers for a video special. As they told the camera about why they work the way they do, and why our collaboration tools are so important to them, I was struck with pride and thankfulness for being allowed to be a part of their success. They told me that:
- our platform and solutions enable these customers to fulfill their vision; to use their unique mindset and skills in being there for their customers. We actually get to be a part of great stories, and I just love that. That, to me, makes it all worthwhile.
And I'm writing this to tell YOU to do the same.
Go find your best customers! Learn why they love your stuff. Or remind yourself if you already know. Revisit those great customer stories, the ones that make you proud. Allow yourself to hold on to that feeling. Then, find other customers that you can help in a similar way. New customers whom you can help fulfill their visions of greatness. New customers to make you proud.
Share your success stories! Everybody loves sitting at the campfire listening to great stories. In business, customers respond to great stories as well. After all, they're just people. And if you did "that" for "that other customer", you're the one they want! You will find it easy to sell your solutions when you share great stories. And this links back to what I wrote about being your customer's trusted advisor. Develop their business, and yours will take care of itself :-)
Never forget what you do well. Hold on to that. Then repeat it. In business, that's what yields great results!
Valentine's Day - bring some lovin' to your Business!
It's Valentines Day, and I wanted to make a relevant connection (hopefully) between how we engage and nurture relationships with people that are important to us, whether they are our friends & loved ones or our customers.How do your business take care of it's customers? Before they become a customer, during that tight process of purchase (and maybe even a project, working together), and last but not least; in the long run? And do you have a strategy for this?
We all know that the cost of acquiring a customer is so much higher than maintaining one. How is it, then, that many organizations don't have a well formed strategy for acquiring customers? And then taking care of, and getting more business from, their existing customers?
The Social Media revolution of recent years has shown us more clearly (not introduced) the real purchase patterns and behaviors of both consumer and B2B (business to business) customers. We buy with our emotions, with tangible and intangible experiences and facts acquired by ourselves or others, based on prerequisites and requirements we often do not fully share with our vendors. Yet we demand them to be knowledgeable about our needs and to "see" us as we "are".
In short, customers want "TLC", they want you to show them some Love!
Not Love as in Lover (yes, it's Valentines day today), but we must show them that we care and understand their challenges & needs, show them that we feel and share that pain enough to provide the solution; our product or service! This, of course, is where we will make our money. - But not until you've earned that trust, that your services or products actually is the answer to your customer's challenge & need! We listen to our customers, employ all our knowledge and all our skills, and then we can serve our customers better with a better product! In humbleness we acknowledge; our customers know what they want! Even "masters of our time" Apple knows this, and relies heavily on it
How then, can we run and optimize our own organizations to accommodate for this business and communication climate? We all have customers, whether they're called members, citizens, customers, clients or anything else.
The good thing is that they're all people, human beings like you and me. And we speak that language! Although, from time to time, it may seem like we don't. We distance ourselves from our customers, saying "them" instead of "we", focusing on ourselves and our product rather than the results of our customer buying/using our product or services!
Sales is all about being there for your (prospective) customers. This is true whether you are selling to consumers or businesses. Show them you understand their challenges or needs, and show them the results they will achieve with your product!
Modern selling is not about pushing a box, a service or a software package, but understanding and contributing to the customer's business, creating value!
This is especially true when working with business customers and solution selling. Solution sales takes time, and is about the long term relationship. We need to be working with our customer as if we where employed as their business developer. - Always looking for new ways to improve their business, working smarter and making use of the right solutions. It's true, James Taylor said it. - "Take care of the ones that are important to you, and things will work out fine...". Be your customer's guide, be their trusted advisor!
Then there's the goals and budget issue... You have goals and expectations on your own, and from your boss, to deliver results for the company that pays your salary. And because this is a long term game, you need to plan and see into the future on behalf of your customers. In January, do you know by heart, and by name, the customers (accounts) that you will close new business with this year? If you don't know this by January, at least the first 4-6 months you will most likely fail and not reach your goals and budget.
Pro-active "Love", not "knee-jerk fire fighting"
And this brings us to the importance of plans and making sure that you are always burning your energy on what's (most) important. Instead of a "fire fighting" approach to customer service, find a way to pro-actively engage in your customers business and challenges. Back to James Taylor again; "It's true what they say about the squeaky wheel, always getting the grease". Our attention is easily distracted, we turn our heads towards the noise without evaluating the importance, or whether this is worth prioritizing over the task you had in front of you and already had deemed important enough to be top of your mind.
What do your customers have in common with your lover, family and friends?
So if you want real "love" and engagement back from your customers, make sure you prove yourself (and your business) worthy of that love. And the Mr Taylor goes on with his song; giving you the answer right away (if you can bear the interpretation; our understanding of the "L"-word) singing;
"Better to; Shower the people you love with love, show them the way you feel, things are gonna work out fine, if you only will; Shower the people you love with love, show them the way you feel, things are gonna be be much better, if you only will..."
Happy Valentines day, and happy sales! After all, it's what makes the world go 'round!
Looking back and into 2012 – More love, more social
- January first, one year ago. -OK, one year and a few days… :-)They always seem so far away, yet another year has gone by faster than they used to… And though it’s always great fun to look into the new year, so full of promise and possibilities, if asked about the year that is about to end a few things stand out to me (from my mixed personal / semi political / collaborative / technology / people / culture driven perspective):
- A smaller world
Even with conflicts constantly burdening the people of this earth, it seems to me we are all seeing clearer and clearer that the we live in One World. And even with disagreements in politics, religion, philosophy and priorities, the world is coming closer together in a more harmonic coexistance. Yes, we lost our innocence to terror here in Norway this summer. But a (mostly) velvet-like revolution has swept across many Arabic countries, based on equality and justice, democracy and freedom of speach. And much fueled by open access to information through the world wide web once closed to these people.
- More social, more blended personal stream.
Social networks, most prominently Facebook but also twitter and smaller local players as well as internal business tools, have reached a point of maturity where all generations and almost all social groups and parts of society take part. It’ has been blended into our natural social interface with people, and I can’t always recall whether a comment was done in person/ on Facebook/ on the phone / in a chat.
- Allowed to be yourself. More human.
Work life, personal life. Friends, colleagues. Newspaper, blogs. Television, podcast. It’s no longer cultures, places and channels and tools to me, they’ve become a blended experience, natural to me. Of course I can filter and focus, be in “work mode” or “relax, think music and art”, but I’m one individual. And usually we are very transparent across these arenas, I have many people crossing the different arena borders with me helping me stay “me”, stay true.
This transparency and freedom of knowledge sets us free to focus on being our best, instead of wasting energy navigating political terrains to push others down. When everyone in a community, Business or personal, has access to information and are able to share from the wealth of resources they possess, good things happen. You get more love back than you gave, more knowledge than you shared, and businesses make more money and better fulfill their roles in society because of this. This openness. This collaboration. Because that is what we are. People. Humans. Social. Loving. Sharing. Rewarding.
So lower your guard. Share more, love more. Work harder at being the better you, in work and in life.
Give it everything you’ve got!
Happy New year!