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High pressure sales vs. long-term business relationships

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Stephen Brown Sales & Marketing, Company Culture, Recruitment...

Are you worried that your sales aren't growing fast enough?

Perhaps it’s time to take another looks at your overall business growth strategy and not just the people you hired yesterday who now on the phone trying to increase the sales you desire today.

Every business leader I meet wants their business to grow but at what cost comes this gain in short term sales?

I too used to worry that we weren’t growing fast enough, that we gave too much value away, didn’t charge enough, or even that we needed to be more aggressive! Compared to our competition this certainly seemed to be the case.

Then we became much more mature, our business became 22 years old and we are delighted that we still have 60% of the clients we had in our first year of trading and have a 93% return rate for repeat business.

These days we hardly ever pick up the phone to make sales calls but we regularly receive incoming enquiries through the “3 R’s”:

  • Repeat Customers
  • Referred Customers
  • Recommended Customers

As a result of what seemed like a high cost of service, we have driven down the cost of sales without even realising it and by giving value, keeping promises and doing what is right, even when it hasn’t always been the most profitable in the short term, we have built a solid foundation of customers who we now see as friends first and foremost and who we really enjoy working with

Social media Memes frequently remind us of the Chinese proverb that if we find a job we enjoy then we never have to work a day in our lives and we think the same is true of who you work with and who you serve.

The satisfaction of going home at the end of a day knowing you have made a difference to your customers and that you are appreciated for what you have done is one of the most gratifying things I can think of when I contemplate what I love about running my business.  

When you see your business as a marathon and not a sprint, you can see beyond short term market trends such as the credit crunch or Brexit and your business becomes sustainable, you can have confidence in the future and maintain a steady course through choppy waters.

It will also reduce your stress levels and give you an inner peace so often lacking and unseen amongst business leaders.

We started with our mission statement: “To provide the most professional, friendly and high quality service to our clients and candidates alike”

From this all our other values have evolved and we now have a perfect North Star to continue hiring, managing and leading the business with.

No business can truly say it has a USP (Unique Selling Point), there is always a copy around the corner, but the one thing truly unique thing you can create is your business culture.

You are in control of what and how strong this is and how you scale it.

Far from short term sales being your main worry. Your biggest challenge should be: How can we create an amazing culture, which our team members and customers love and then how do we grow it?

It all starts and ends with your PEOPLE.

Once you have distilled the essence of your business into your core values you need to be sure that everyone in the business is living and breathing these with no exceptions.

It can be tempting to overlook the “Lone Wolf” sales person who disrupts everyone else and who often causes problems with customers but brings in the most sales.

Unfortunately however these people cannot be tolerated as they will make your business stagnate, remain at its current level, or worse start to shrink.

These toxic influences, often known as “mood hoovers” will also make other good people leave and ultimately ruin your reputation.

Once you have tackled these problem people and you have your house in order you can start to scale.

Only recruit those people matching your culture and values, create questions that deeply explore their behavioural characteristics and have them complete a personality profile.

Wherever possible we ask people to spend a morning or afternoon working with us, as it’s as much about them fitting in with us, as us with them. The match has to be two way, like two jigsaw puzzle pieces coming together.

This also gives you the opportunity to put their skills to the test and see how they cope with your systems, tools and processes.

Always remember though: HIRE FOR ATTITUDE and train for skills

When you find the right people who connect with your purpose, and who feel the same way about doing a great job for your customers as you do and when you invest in their development, something miraculous happens:

They become like you. Not necessarily in every way and diversity is essential to building a high performance culture. In fact you can have people from diverse backgrounds who share your philosophies and ethics.

Another thing most busy business people have in common is that they wish they could clone themselves, by following this model you will find this is as near as you can get to cloning. Except it’s even better, because these other people bring different and fresh perspectives from their own education, experience and life, yet deliver the same results in a way you would hope to do so yourself. Dare I say sometimes even better!

Never be afraid to recruit people smarter than yourself.

As a customer quoted to me when he realised that this is what he had failed to do for 14 years in business, he told me: “I became the tallest pygmy”

Since then he has gone on to recruit many brilliant people who now do what he was tiring of and he is now concentrating all his efforts on recruiting and retaining great people into his flourishing business.

If you are a tiring business then you might like to try a great but very simple exercise I was given by a business coach.

He says; you never tire from that which you love.

So what has to be true for you to love your business again?

The answer is simple:

  • On a sheet of blank paper draw three columns
  • At the top of the first column draw a smiley face and in this column list the things you love doing. As he puts it, list the things you would do even if you had £10 million in your bank.
  • At the top of the second column draw a neutral face, you know, the one with a straight line for a mouth. In this column list all the things that you can do, you don’t mind but they don’t make you feel “stoked”, “energised” or give you a “buzz”
  • And at the top of the third column draw a sad face, under which you list all the things you find frustrating, annoying and quite frankly depressing
  • Your next job is to turn your “What” problems into a “Who” problem

Find the people (the WHO), who can take away the jobs you dislike doing or don’t love doing. You might be surprised but some people will love to do some of the things you hate. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure!

When people buy into the purpose of your business they become long serving team members and as a result they bring another dimension of sustainability and endurance, which is foundational to your on-going success.

Customers get used to working with specific team members and this creates individual repeatability. Your customers know what to expect and therefore they receive consistency.

Consistency of customer experience is the Holy Grail in business as it meets expectations; delivery is matched to what the customer is confident they are buying and the supplier to customer relationship becomes frictionless.

All businesses strive for consistent levels of delivery, sometimes dictated to by external quality standards. It’s why we have processes and procedures.

By creating consistency through culture, your business builds on these processes and procedures and can add far more value to the customer experience through that Unique Selling Point (USP) of the relationship held between the two parties. Businesses are after all run by people.

I have a real passion for people and in particular helping the people in our customers to find the people who will share their passion for what they do.

We call it “Soul Saving” and if you’ve ever had a job you dislike then you probably said that it’s “soul destroying” and now you can see where I’m coming from.

"LOVE your business, LOVE your customers,

& LOVE your people."