In this hurry-up world of smartphones, iPads, social media and Search Engine Optimization, the business owner is racing to keep up with the latest and greatest gizmos and gambits to sell more of his product or service.
No doubt, technology has turned us into a global economy and the smallest, one person shop can now compete with the ‘big boys’ if they have the technological capabilities to do so. As a business owner today, you do have to keep up with the latest trends in your marketplace and with technology that is relevant to your world.
However, even the ‘best new thing’ in the Internet and techno-marketing world is no substitute for core values centered on serving the customer. I was fortunate recently to meet and hear two best-selling authors and entrepreneurs talk about culture, core values, energy and accountability.
Jon Gordon, author of The Energy Bus, emphasizes that to stand out in a good way starts with culture. You have to build a great culture in your business – starting from day one – then hire people who share the same ideas and values as you and who have an unwavering sense of optimism.
Fire the pessimists! Culture drives everything – numbers, people – and culture will drive the results you want. Every business leader faces the same economic challenges. Those that succeed get their teams on the positive energy bus and drive in the right direction.
Harvey Mackay, Founder and Chairman of MackayMitchell Envelope Company, and author of the New York Times Bestseller, Swim with Sharks without Being Eaten Alive, answers the question, “What job taught you the most?” in his latest book, The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World.
He references the paper route he had at 10 years old. Here he learned the value of hard work, persistence, being on time, customer service, quality control, focus and accountability.
On a paper route, he was up seven days a week, rain or snow, to deliver papers before 6 a.m., and then go to school. Customers expected their papers promptly – the same time every day – and they expected them to be dry. He had to remember which customers wanted them left in the milk box, between the doors or under the mat.
Sometimes he was late getting the papers to customers through no fault of his own because the papers were late getting to him or inclement weather slowed delivery. He had to learn to deal with people face to face and apologize for things he had no control over. He stayed focused on the reward which motivated him to get his homework done and get to bed early so he could get up early again the next day.
Harvey also learned, from his experience as a paper boy, the importance of managing money and good salesmanship.
Regardless of the latest tools and tactics used to generate more sales, without a focus on core principles based on human nature and relationships, increased and repeat business will suffer.
Mackay and Gordon both talk about the importance of integrity. A company out of Boston conducted a study of 341 salespeople from several companies across multiple industries to determine what separated the top producers from average producers, and the result was honesty. If a customer trusted the salesperson, they would buy from them.
Other important characteristics a business owner and his team must possess to generate more sales today include likability, product and competitor knowledge, a sense of humor, a positive reputation and the ability to make a good first impression.
Setting specific, measurable goals, listening more than you talk, and having an undying thirst for knowledge and self-improvement, go a long way in achieving success.
The moral of this story is that searching for the latest technology or marketing maneuvers that will be your golden egg for prosperity will leave you wanting without a company culture based on some basic core values. Maintain your integrity and focus on the lessons from the paper boy. You may not only realize more long-term, profitable customer relationships, but also find a deeper sense of joy and satisfaction in the work you do.
Sharon Macaluso is Area Director of the DeKalb office of the Georgia SBDC Network and she may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.