It’s all a bit hard at the moment: sales are down; staff are more than usually grumpy. What do you think I should do? Part two.

Thursday 01 May 2014
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The purpose of your business needs to be an inspiration to the whole team and your customers. “Priding ourselves on our great service”, is not inspiring if you don’t do that anyway.

The examples I gave of this was builders who believed in building homes not houses; IT companies doing difficult, interesting and worthwhile projects; mechanics making sure every car is fixed safely and properly first time.

Basically, finding the underlying reason why your business exists and communicating that to staff to give them a sense of purpose, rather than just, “going to work every day”.

This higher purpose improves employees’ attitudes thereby increasing sales as happy staff treat customers better, and care more about them - which creates more referrals and better relationships.

Your purpose is your “why”. Customers do not care that the product or service is your product or service unless there is direct connection with you, your people and the brand. That connection can be down to either trust or empathy, and often both.

Do you trust Coca-Cola or McDonalds to deliver what they do? You might not like either of them, but you know what you are going to get. That is what gives certainty of delivery, and so builds trust. If you don’t like what they do, then you don’t empathise with them, and therefore don’t want to buy from them.

Using my business as an example for you to think about in the context of your own - do you trust my firm simply from what we say on our website? You may well agree with our belief that business owners can benefit hugely from better financial direction, and independent advice - but is the trust there?

We don’t have a global brand or budget - and you’ve not had much experience of us - so trust is the hard part. That’s why we remove the need for trust through money back guarantees and fixed price agreements.

Your business will benefit from doing these things too. You don’t have to go the whole hog of starting to get all touchy-feely about how passionate you are about selling, say, insurance. I have purposely picked something incredibly hard to get passionate about! In fact, we had a very depressed broker in the other day who very sarcastically said, “yeah insurance, pretty exciting…it’s my life…”.

What you could do is communicate that you believe your customers should get great value for money by leveraging the training, and ongoing learning, of your team to find new and mutually beneficial insurance policies.

In a pretty uninspiring industry just a simple change to how you communicate to staff and customers can inspire.

The only real question remaining is why would you not do this? It is simply finding out what customers want from you, and then making that the core focus of how you communicate.

Not doing that must come down to you not really believing that the time involved, effort required, and/or the risk of looking strange, is greater than the reward you’ll get for it all.

That risk of looking strange is often the key reason; but the questions you might expect from staff and customers are pretty simple: “What do they want from me” and “What’s all this about”? Be ready to answer those questions.

There is also the potentially scary truth that you don’t believe your business does have a purpose, more than just, say, “building a house that gets through snagging”.

What happens if you don’t believe in why your business exists? Ouch. The light at the end of the tunnel is a train coming this way.

The other day, while I was buying lunch in my usual take-away, I was delighted to hear a group of business people talking about the “why” and the “how” and what they were going to do about it. So don’t be left behind. The risk of not doing something is usually greater than the risk of doing it!