Category: Education

What Can A Trapeze Teach Us About Business Growth?

What can a trapeze teach us about how to grow a business and strengthen a team? It has everything to do with Risk and Trust.

Think about the last 10 people you’ve hired. No matter how well you wrote the job description, perfected the interview questions, and screened the candidates, maximizing the impact that employee will have on your team has more to do with what they do outside of why you hired them than the reasons they were offered a job in the first place.

Consider this:

What if every person who ever joined a new company simply completed the tasks as assigned? 

Before we go down the rabbit hole of the ways this might alleviate frustrations from underperformance, that’s not what we’re talking about today. There’s a whole host of reasons for underperformance, and solutions to combat and solve for those disappointments. We’ll come back to that another time.

Hiring to find someone who will complete a checklist is horrendously short-sighted. I’ve worked with far too many leaders who post a job from an emergent need. Sometimes it’s from unexpected growth (yay!), or from pursuing other expansion ideas or projects. In other cases it’s from backfilling the departure of an established role. Regardless of the reason, where the biggest wins and losses come well down the road, after the on-boarding and training have taken place.

Back to the question at hand…

One of the books I’m reading explains how a trapeze artist is able to develop, hone, and expand their skills for the betterment of the show. 

When the circus invests in and installs a literal safety net beneath the trapeze swings, it gives the artists the confidence and freedom to train and perform the act as originally prescribed – or perhaps just as it has always has been done in previous shows. But the growth and magic happens next.

The net gives the best performers the confidence to push limits. Try new things. Innovate. Take risks. Make the show better. 

Better show = more customers.

As the artist has trust that the net will catch them when they fall, and they will absolutely fall – no matter how talented the artist is – they are empowered to explore and develop a routine or take the performance to new heights. 

As leaders, it is absolutely critical that our investment in our team goes well beyond getting them on the payroll. Create the culture and structure of trust that will catalyze the creativity and desire to outperform beyond the training or past experience.

You’ll find, more often than not, that is where the growth comes from. 

A foundation of trust, that enables risks, will create more out of each performer.

-David

3 Simple Ways to Build Stronger Employee Loyalty and Performance

Employees must love a company before your customers ever will - Simon Sinek

While many companies are born from an idea of how to serve a market or solve a problem in a new or unique way, in time, the idea turns into a company with employees, partners, and customers.

Real, breathing, people.

I’ve been involved in far too many situations over the years where a significant portion of the employee base not only didn’t LOVE the product or service (weird, I know), but frustrations with the company or organization as whole were palpable.

It’s one thing when this affects members of middle management or leadership, but another thing entirely when front-line or customer-facing team members are carrying this frustration through their interactions with prospects or customers.

Well before this disconnect reaches a point where people who are on your payroll are actively dissuading your customers from doing business with you, this cost shows up in the form of a drag on the quality of customer service, underdeveloped relationships, or even – and perhaps most measurably – a reduction in sales conversion rates or cross-sell/up-sell attach rates.

Contrast this with when you’ve captured the hearts and imaginations of your team.

The energy they bring to their role and the excitement that exudes over the phone when a prospect calls to ask a basic question, offers no comparison to when the love is gone.

So, what do we do?

When you run the show, there are enough things to worry about to keep you plenty busy at all hours of the day (or night).

Why can’t the team we worked so hard to recruit and train just do their jobs and be done with it?

Because you hired real, breathing, people.

While the specific tactics to resolve this will vary based on the size of the team, and most importantly, the specific individual(s) in need of your leadership, here are a few fundamental questions you might ask yourself or your executive team:

1. How often do we set aside the time to listen to what our employees value most about their experience working with us?

The key here is listening. Most leaders are all too quick to dive in and tell people what they want to say to affect change. Make time to ask deep questions and be ready to listen, take notes, and act.

2. When was the last time we recognized an individual or team for modeling the behaviors (not just results) that we want the rest of the organization to emulate?

If you’re recognizing results, great. That’s usually where we all start. You’ll find a compounding effect happens when you’re able to identify AND recognize the behaviors you want to encourage.

3. How well can each person in our organization effectively convey the bigger picture or purpose to which their daily tasks are connected?

I get it. We can’t all be in the business of solving world hunger. That doesn’t mean we can’t find something that is either directly or indirectly related to a cause your team can rally behind.

What brands come to mind when we think of the experiences we have had where it was clear and obvious that the employees LOVED the company?

How did that affect you as a customer (or prospect)?

This shows up when we hear stories from friends or family who rave about the way a real, breathing, person treated them when making a purchase or receiving a service.

I’d love to hear about your experiences, or what you’ll implement this week. Drop me a note or a comment.

Committed to creating more companies customers care about…

-David

Rooting for the small market team, then it all comes crashing to a halt

Has this ever happened to you? I’m listening to my favorite sports radio talk show and the host is doing a live broadcast on location for a local small business. Because of what I do, I paid close attention for the few minutes I had in the car and found myself rooting for the business to do a good job. Alas, my heart hurts because of what happened in the end…I’ll come back to that in a moment.

But first, we all know how these work. The host announces throughout the broadcast that s/he is live at said business and inviting listeners to come for a visit. The business may have a special deal for those who come by that day. The sheer logistics and planning involved to try and make the most of a sales boost for that given day are immense. From inventory, staff training, local signage, point-of-sale, and the list goes on, these events can and should represent a culmination of a great deal of effort and strategic planning based on the specific goals for the business and how the broadcast fits in the overall marketing mix and budget for the year. Done well, and there’s sure to be some material boost in sales for the day of the radio broadcast event. However, that is hardly going to be enough to really make all of the other resources, heart, sweat, and tears worth it.

Where the real value lies is in the experience and long-lasting impression the event provides for not only those who did go out of their way to visit, but, perhaps most importantly, the message that can stick with the audience to come back time and time again in the future. This is why, usually at the end of the show, the host will speak with the business owner or store manager for a quick interview to give the business a chance to have some dedicated airtime to really drive it all home/land the plane/whatever analogy you wish.

Every other mention or air time the business receives up to this point is fairly formulaic and is sprinkled in during lead-ins to a segment or a final quick bite before a commercial break, but now the lights are on and it’s time to shine. Because the radio host is a pro, he begins the conversation with THE question: “Well, *Jim*, thanks so much for having us out here at (Jim’s store) and for taking such good care of us. Why don’t you tell our listeners today why they should come see you, what really sets you apart and makes you different?”

I know, I couldn’t believe it either. I hadn’t ever heard a host tee up the million dollar question so perfectlydirectly, and exactly for his sponsor of the day – who no doubt paid a decent sum in cash on top of all of the other costs leading up to this point. I’m on the edge of my driver’s seat eagerly awaiting the response that I’m sure will be expertly delivered because *Jim* doesn’t even have to give it in a roundabout way. The host could not have framed it any better. The response, sadly, went as follows: “Uh, um, well, we’ve been in business for 20 years, and er, uh, you can find us on all the social media apps and delivery service apps that are out there, and ummm, yeah our recipes are on point and…”

Bonk. Graciously, the host jumps in and bails Jim out by adding that, “right, and your (named a specific, unique, specialty item) are FANTASTIC and unlike ANYTHING else I’ve EVER had, plus you have the standard things folks love when they’re looking for….” To say nothing about the sloppy execution of the message itself – not everyone is or has to be a practiced public speaker, hey, I’ll even give people a pass for talking into a radio microphone as that can be intimidating, but no matter how nervous or polished, the answer was comprised ENTIRELY of things that could have applied to practically EVERY SINGLE COMPETITOR in Jim’s space.

Not one single thing was truly unique or a differentiator. The closest thing to it was providing his opinion about his “on point recipes”. In a crowded and competitive market, it is absolutely crucial that your business has its Unique Selling Proposition (USP) dialed in and emblazoned across the hearts and minds of every single person in the organization. Each employee has to know the 15-second elevator pitch, especially in small businesses where everyone can truly feel the material impact they can have on the overall success with even the basics in order. If you don’t have your USP air-tight and evangelized throughout your company, make it a priority this week to craft that message so the next time your brand is discussed by anyone associated with your company – whether at a casual outing or in front of a microphone – they’ll be able to deliver a message that makes your business memorable well beyond any one-time promotion or broadcast.

Educate Your Customers

Educate them about what, you may be thinking. Well, consider this, many businesses focus solely on attracting new customers, but you NEED to spend a good chunk of your time retaining current and former customers. These are people you already know to be a good sales potential…they’ve already bought from you!

Take the time to market and sell new products to your old customers and less time trying to sell old products to new customers and you will see a drastic change in your sales, customer quality and branding position.

Here are a couple of key elements to use to retain your current customers:

  1. Stay in contact: This means by phone, email, e-newsletter, in person-by pigeon if you have too!
  2. Post-Purchase Assurance: This means you need to follow up with customers. Your customers need to feel like they are being supported for their purchase and with the item they purchased. How many times have you purchased a product, then felt completely abandoned? Something as simple as a Thank You note with your contact or customer service information can go along way in retaining a great customer.
  3. Deals & Guarantees: Always offer your current customers the best deals and guarantees you have. Show them you appreciate their business or even come up with a club specifically to reward loyal customers. You can also do this with a preferred pricing option.
  4. Integrity: Using good business practices and simply upholding integrity, dignity and honesty go along way with customers. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of swindling and crap out there and the safer and more confident you make your customers feel, the more they will trust you and that makes for an amazingly supportive and loyal customer.

There are three cornerstone ideas to a successful business:

  • Quality product/service
  • Offering useful products/services that solve a problem for or enhance the life of a customer
  • Offer subjects your customers find interesting

Use this approach of educating your customers and offering them real information and insight and you will be rewarded with loyalty and success.

Stop wasting all your time on new prospects while your current customers fall by the wayside!

As Jay Abraham says, “Your best prospects are your existing customers. If you’ve been putting all your marketing efforts into acquiring new customers, stop and diverts some of your resources into reselling, upselling, cross-selling to those same customers. In every ways possible – through package inserts, regular mailings, special offers – stay in touch with those customers and get them used to buying from you.”

So, there it is! Remember, we can help you put together the resources and tools to do exactly that. We can help you educate your customers and you can watch the benefits pay offer many-fold.