As a family, we try to visit the ocean at least 2-3 times per year. This year, our summer family summer trip was to Seaside, a quaint little town located about halfway between Destin and Panama City. This particular trip had us doing an activity I’ve had on my bucket list forever- spearfishing. John, our guide, was amazing, and we indeed caught fish. But as I think about this week’s “V’s”, this particular trip gave me real perspective on the first one- Victories. You see, I took my two teenage sons, Dylan and Sam, and not 20 minutes into the 4-hour ordeal, John told me Sam was no long hunting with the speargun, he was hunting for shells and other ocean bottom gems. While I wasn’t surprised because of Sam’s natural disposition, I had a revelation at the end. Victory for one person is totally different than it is for another. Sam was thrilled with his sea bottom finds, as tickled as my older son Dylan and I with our fresh fish. Through the eyes of a child…
Enter: Victories, Volume, Validation
Victories. Because of my personal anecdote above, I want to be sure to clarify something. I absolutely know that family fun has a different set of expectations than quarterly business goals. But, as a life-long learner, I cogitated the situation that presented itself on vacation and applied it to my team and our own approach to quantifying and qualifying what victory really means. Here’s what I discovered in my strolls along the beach: we are guilty of making generalized categories and setting hard and fast numbers. You know what else? We sometimes marginalize what could be better perceived as internal victories, especially in comparison to a meaningful financial win.
Here’s the take-away I’d offer you. As a leader, the first thing I would do is look at the criteria by which you judge a victory for the team and for the organization. While numbers matter, what more intangible things could you consider that might help boost team morale? I know in my own experience, that celebrating things for team members that often go unnoticed, often does wonders for the renewed effort and energy the team displays towards hitting group goals. I’m not suggesting you quit counting, you have to in sales, it’s the lifeline of the organization. But maybe a small shift in focus will have you finding victories that matter to your team and were simply overlooked before.
Volume. Two notes on volume. One coming in and one going out. Let’s start with volumes that are inward. So, as a sales leader, I get you want to operate on the mantra more is better. It is better, right? In many cases, yes, more sales is a good thing. I don’t need to explain that in more detail. But, there are times when more is really too much. Now, I will admit being guilty of being a “yes” person. Driven by relationships, I want to deliver and fix whatever the situation is for our clients. But, sometimes, my OPS team has to remind me that we have to focus on bandwidth and quality for the clients, too. So, what I am suggesting is that you always keep a legitimate finger on the pulse of your team that delivers whatever it is you sell. And you owe it to them as the core of your business to ensure they are allowed to be honest with you when they reach maximum capacity.
As for the outward flow. The same temptations exist, right – more calls, more emails, more texts, more – you fill in the blank – and that will ultimately mean more sales. Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. The pulse you need to be mindful of here is that of your clients. Is the volume by which you are reaching out to them on different platforms tasteful and seen as proper courting, or is it a nuisance? I know it’s a fine line, and I also know that different prospects want to be courted in different ways. So, it’s not an exact science, no matter what the data tells us. But be cautious and diligent here, as too many touches in too many venues too frequently is – well – a turn off. And sometimes the damage can be permanent.
Validation. This “V” can be tricky. And, like with many other concepts we’ve discussed through this series, it has both internal and external components. Here’s what’s true about both of them – you only have control in the beginning. Let me explain by starting with the internal validation process. If you are doing what most businesses attempt to do – grow year over year – it usually means the addition of staff. And almost immediately after their onboarding and training period, they are going to be working elbow to elbow with your existing team. Here’s where the control comes in and where it ends – how you’ve treated your team up until the addition of the new member will directly color their perception of you as their leader. The simple truth is that you control how you impact your team, but that control ends when the team members are standing around the water cooler or working directly on a project together. And, good or bad, your current team will eventually share their experience with the “new guy”.
The same is true with your clients. We all know the best thing we can ever have a pocket full of is references, people who will sing our proverbial praises. The control lever is the same in this situation, it’s all about what you do on the front end. But here is an addition. While the delivery of the service or product and the ultimate ROI for the client absolutely matters, sometimes it’s as much about how you treat them along the way. Especially if you hit a rough patch that wasn’t anticipated. A good litmus test for you to consider, are you treating your clients like the people they are, the way you would want to be treated if you were investing in something with them? I know I beat the drum loudly and repeatedly about the people aspect in all of these business dealings, but it is a reality that should be acknowledged. Making sure there is a relationship, to the best of your ability, and not just a series of invoices and services provided, is critical. It will make all the difference in how they talk about your abilities internally and whether or not they would ever validate you to someone else.
Put people first, use the 3 “V’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 W’s – Webinars, Wellness, Word of Mouth