You’ve heard it said before: “It’s nothing personal. It’s strictly business.” Maybe you’ve said it yourself. But what’s the distinction?
If we operate our whole lives, business and personal, from a set of personal values, then what we do, the decisions we make, and the way we treat others in our personal and professional lives should jive.
A total stranger helped me yesterday with a case of water bottles I was struggling to lift from the bottom of my Costco basket into my car and then walked my empty cart along with his to the cart lot. I’m guessing he would do the same if someone at his work needed his help.
If you are a strict parent at home who follows through on clear expectations in the hopes of raising responsible citizens, do you use the same tools, clear expectations, and follow-through with your employees?
I’ve been working a lot lately with large, corporate, national sales teams on improving their speaking, short presentations, and sales skills. One thing I’ve noticed is the overall quality of these folks. They are hardworking, innovative, eager to learn, brave, and most of all… truly caring individuals. They really do want to improve the lives of their clients and it’s a true thrill for them when that happens. It seems like the thing they want more than anything is to really make a difference with their products and services, be rewarded fairly for that exchange and … get through a week where their clients and prospects view them as truly helpful and sincere rather than being pushy, forceful, or selling them through a dishonest, one-sided approach.
I heard an interview last week with Kip Tindell, the CEO of The Container Store company, and I believe he just might have an answer. Tindell has developed seven “Foundation Principles” on which they invest more than 260 hours of training in the first year alone with new employees (the retail average is 8!) Those same employees are also paid double the industry average. Turns out that running a company based on strong values that people can align with, investing in strong relationships and clear expectations, and creating a work environment that is hard to duplicate in the marketplace has resulted in less than 10% turnover in a retail industry where the average is 50-75%. It’s also built a strong company which now has over 70 stores and growing.
One of those principles is called “The Man in the Desert Selling” which is based on a fable authored by Tindell himself: There’s a man lost in the desert, and he stumbles upon an inhabited oasis. He asks for a glass of water which he is graciously given with nothing asked of him in return… but what else does he need? He probably needs to call home, to eat some food, and maybe to protect himself from the sun with a hat. Tindell said,
“I like the philosophy and how it puts the imperative on helping first. And you don’t ultimately help the customer by passively wimping out. Say one of our customers has a tie rack in one hand and a shoe rack in the other. It’s not a big leap to guess that she has a closet that’s driving her crazy. So if you wimp out and let her get out of there with only those two items, she’s still going to have a mess of a closet when she gets home. I ask my people to find out and care about what our customers are experiencing. I ask them to be brave and compassionate enough to introduce her to simple, complete systems that radically change the way people get themselves organized and save time and money as well as stress. Show her how to turn a messy closet where she can’t find a thing and help her get the whole closet organized. We’ve received a mountain of fan mail and reviews about how our sales associates have improved the quality of people’s lives by introducing them to ideas and products they wouldn’t have ever known about or understood. In the long run, this client will be ecstatic knowing the problem is actually solved.
We are a company that feels that we should live by the same code of conduct in life as we do in business. We believe that life is vastly better when you are well organized. Everybody’s so time-starved today; we feel we are improving the quality of life by giving the gift of organization and saving time and space.”
Listen first, truly care about the client’s outcome, be brave and compassionate – values that drive a company as well as people.
This week, think about the alignment of values that drive your company, practice and personal life. Listen to and care for your clients in a real and genuine way and consider that what you are selling is actually a great service to them. Take a stand for your clients in helping them see that your service is the best and right thing for them.
And remember, it’s not just business… it’s your whole life.
“Life comes from physical survival; but the good life comes from what we care about.” ~~Rollo May