What’s your “word”? You can’t spend five minutes on social media in January without having ten of your friends, especially those in direct sales, ask you what your WORD of 2021 is going to be.
Yes, your word. Your word of focus. The word that will make all the difference. The word that will help you shape your goals and intentions for this coming year. The word that will guide you to fulfill your best and most true potential.
That is a lot of pressure on one teeny tiny word, is it not? (Can you tell I have been watching Bridgerton?)
It may be a lot of pressure to put on a word, but I am going to play along anyway. I love bandwagons and always have. Even when I come to them late, as I did with jean shorts in the early ’90s.
I’m here for it, so join me as I take you down two separate word-of-the-year paths.
The first path is for owners and managers. Your one and only word this year should be….
If it already is, kudos to you. What you already know is that the satisfaction, development, and thoughts, and feelings of every member of your team will directly affect the performance of your entire organization. But if it is not already your main focal point, how can you improve your company’s morale? Here are a few ideas:
Treat them well. It may seem overly elementary, but are you nice to your team? Do you speak to them with respect? Are you kind in your constructive feedback?
Involve them in decisions. Asking for ideas and seeking out input from everyone on your team is a great way not only to show people that you trust and value their opinions and ideas but is also a great way to make changes that you might desperately need to make. Being open to new energy and input could make all the difference in where you go in 2021 and who stays with you for the ride.
Help them grow and plan for their future. – If you are not setting goals with and for every member of your team, how will any of you know whether you have had a good year? Goals are for more than just salespeople, and they are about more than revenue or profit. A goal can be cross-training, learning a new skill, or a promotion.
Invest in them. Whether it is training, attending a conference, or even buying books that they might find useful, there are many ways to invest in people. Figure out where the learning needs to take place and how, and then make it happen.
Celebrate their achievements. – Recognition. Everyone wants to be told when they are doing a good job, and many even enjoy having that be acknowledged publicly. Whether it is an employee of the month or award or certificate that is more specific to each department, the cost to you as an owner or manager is extraordinarily little, but the goodwill, good feelings and pride your team will feel can be immeasurable.
Now, let’s shift gears and talk specifically about customer-facing roles.
If you are in sales, customer service, or any other position that counts customer satisfaction and relationships as a crucial benchmark of success, then your word should be….
The definition of loyalty is “a strong feeling of support or allegiance.”
Phew. That is some powerful stuff right there. Who wouldn’t do just about anything to earn loyalty from not only customers but co-workers, family members, friends? It positively makes the world go around.
But I have some bad news for most of you out here, and you are not going to want to hear this.
YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO LOYALTY JUST BECAUSE YOU DO A GOOD JOB
That is simply not enough anymore.
Let’s explore some ways that you can earn the loyalty of your valued customers.
Educate them. Sharing and creating content that is especially relevant to a particular company or group of companies is a great way to show your audience that you are paying attention and that you care about what they know. When you seek to help them understand and learn for learning’s sake alone and not as some thinly veiled sales message, your clients and prospects will notice and appreciate the difference.
Bring them new ideas. Order takers respond to quote requests, facilitate estimates, and respond with quotes. Business strategists like to dig deeper, understand, and help realize goals, and be a part of solutions that help the customer companies get the most out of their marketing spend. See the difference? Which one do you want to be? Who do you think people want to keep around?
Challenge them. If you think you have an idea about a better way, or you want to understand the expectation, response mechanism, or metric for assessing the success of a campaign, you’d better ask. We as printers are part of the marketing supply chain. We must make sure that we have a firm grasp of what our customers are trying to do and whether we think we have a different way. You can partner with data companies, digital marketing providers, the USPS, or an ad agency, but accepting the status quo is a great way to stay an order taker.
Ask them WHY. For many of the same reasons listed above, it is OK to ask Why? Why do you want to do it that way? For some reason, the question WHY has ended up, to a lot of people, to seem confrontational and even disrespectful, but I say we all must reject that notion. My kids ask me WHY questions ON THE DAILY. It is my job to educate them, and it is your job to understand as much as you can about your customers and prospects. Do not be afraid of WHY.
Reward them. If you consume anything today, you know about reward benefits. The more you spend, the more you save, right? Well, how can we in a business-to-business setting embrace the concept of rewards? Maybe it is a trip to a local paper merchant to get a tour or a private open house for a select few clients. Let’s really put our heads together and think about ways that we can honor and appreciate our best customers. That feeling you get when you know someone wants and even needs your business is special. It feels good to be appreciated.
Now somebody please go name an ink color after me!
As a sales and marketing coach and consultant at Success In Print, and Girl #2 at #GirlsWhoPrint, Kelly Mallozzi advocates for graphic arts companies to keep fighting to keep print relevant. She may be irreverent, but what she lacks in convention, she makes up for in smart-assery.
Kelly is a regular co-host on the #GirlsWhoPrint Podcast along with Deborah Corn. She is also a mentor to several future sales stars and she connects to them through the Women’s Print Mentoring Network. Check out her book, co-authored by Bill Farquharson: Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How. Kelly also occasionally guest blogs at Printing Impressions and you can see her most recent posts here.