For most of my adult life, I have been a voracious and passionate reader. I’ll confess that I prefer non-fiction books, and in categories of all types, from theology to history and much that falls in between. Without question, one of the most compelling reads I have ever encountered was Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. The true story of his time in the Nazi concentration camps brings about a revelation about the human spirit in a way no other book has ever done for me. Mr. Frankl is quoted as saying, “This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude.”
Enter: Uniqueness, Upbeat, Unbiased
Uniqueness. From a sales and marketing perspective, in my mind, there are a couple of things to consider with this “U”. The first is the uniqueness of your product or service offering. Each of us would like to believe that what we call our life’s work is different – different from the competition, different in the marketplace, different in the value it brings to our clients. And the truth is, what you do may very well be unique. The trick is, can you express it in a way that your clients and prospects see it for what it truly is, a unique solution to the problem they are trying to solve for? Another way to think about this is another question. When was the last time you really thought through your value proposition as it really matters to your clients? Their needs being met will unquestionably get the most attention from them.
Another aspect of uniqueness is the culture you create and the members of your team. I mention these together because the are inherently intertwined. I believe that the more unique your internal culture and the more you leverage the uniqueness of your team, the better it is for everyone. By focusing on these two together, you will create an environment that will not only be healthier for your team, but it will spill over into the kind of work they do for your clients and their interactions with them. You will also find that your retention rates with your staff and their tenure with you will increase, it’s really inevitable.
Upbeat. This is a tough one, at least for a guy like me. I’m animated alright, especially if something really good happens for our company, for one of our team, or even better, we get a great win for one of our clients, I’m the guy you can hear coming from down the hallway. But the truth is, it’s not the “normal” me. I am the even-keeled, nose to the grindstone guy who is looking for ways to be more and more efficient with my day. All that said, I also know there is real value in how upbeat you are in the course of your business day. And I would argue that the upbeat nature of your leadership has a direct effect on your staff. I would never encourage you to force a feeling or embellish a part of your personality just to try to be something you are not. But, a little pep in your step, a smile, an “atta girl” – can go a long way with your team in very subtle ways.
Unbiased. There are two things that I want to focus on here. The first is your pipeline. One of the things I find curious when I work with clients, or even evaluate our own sales team internally, is what ends up on pipelines. This is one of the places in your business where there needs to be a no nonsense approach. Ironically, it is the place where there is more “pie in the sky” than any where else in the company. When we look at opportunities, and speak to prospects who are going to be receiving proposals from us, we are very blunt about reality. Not rude or discourteous, mind you, not that kind of blunt. Instead, we give the prospects a “get out of jail free” card right up front. I bet this scenario is familiar – you speak to a prospect, you build rapport, you take all the steps of courting them properly, you feel like the last phone call or email exchange you had with them was solid, and then…RADIO SILENCE. Yep – you know it, we all do – any salesperson who’s been around for even a little while know this story. Wouldn’t you like to know one way or the other? Seal the deal or just close the books on them? Yeah, me too. So I’d encourage you to be as businesslike and unbiased here and give your prospects the out – my team usually just something simple, but the effect of – “Listen as you consider this, if we’re your group, great, I look forward to trying to find a fit. But if we’re not, NO is a perfectly acceptable business answer too, and we understand and respect that, so if you could just do me the professional courtesy of letting us know, I’d appreciate it”. Simple. And most people will oblige.
The second and final point I want to make on this “U” in regards to your internal decision making. Let me start by saying that I absolutely hate when I hear people say “it’s just a business decision”. While in theory it sounds practical, and logically it makes sense, I believe people often use that phrase more as an excuse to make a tough decision that is every bit as personal as the choosing a spouse. I acknowledge some decisions in business are calculated, and the health of the business is every bit as important as the health of its team members. The company is a living, breathing, ongoing life that impacts everyone who contributes to it every day. But making an unbiased decision can be humane. And, as far as I’m concerned, you can make them much easier if expectations are set in advance and are honored regularly. The trick is the expectations need to be clearly communicated, they need to be consistent, and everyone need to be bought into them. I also believe your team and the culture you create by taking this approach will be refreshing for all those involved.
Put people first, use the 3 “U’s” as they can benefit you best, and know that I am here to help or just chat, should you ever want to discuss what’s best for your team.
To raising all ships!
P.S. Be sure to join us next week when we talk about the 3 V’s – Victories, Volume, Validation