Hanging in my father's flat is a rather wonderful photograph of my grandfather. He is poised with a pen looking serious and business like. It didn't need Movember for a man of a certain stature to sport a natty pencil moustache in those days.
This picture has always represented, for me, many of the skills and values that have been lost in modern business. These are the values that I have tried to instil in Retriever and the way we work with our clients and in turn, the way we talk to their prospects. We are in sales and are retained to open doors for our clients using email marketing and the telephone.
The warm, firm (but not too hard) hand-shake, holding a door open for someone, being interested in others and listening are all too rare in everyday life these days, let alone in business, so we're trying to do something about it...
Sales is a rough and tumble enough discipline at the best of times so when you're making cold calls you know that the recipient isn't exactly going to be looking forward to it, so how can you do things differently using life values rather than business 'brutality'?
Well, you can start by being disarmingly open and honest with people.
- "I've never spoken to you before, I am trying to sell you something and you probably get bombarded. It must be a pain for you."
...Is always going to be more effective than:
- "How are you today? I'm calling to let you know about a great offer that you can't do without."
Humility without apology will always win, over gross over-confidence and inflexibility.
So, being straight down the line, open and business-like is always positive. That way people don't feel like you're being pushy or trying to drag them kicking and screaming towards something they don't want and didn't ask for in the first place.
When you're hanging out with friends or family you don't present yourself formally. You are who you are (for better or worse) and you engage with a totally natural demeanour.
- "Let's go for lunch."
- "Yeah, why not? Where shall we go?"
- "The Red Lion has a nice beer garden so let's try that out."
- You see - a simple and straightforward interaction as opposed to -
- "Would it be possible for you to join me for lunch today?"
- "Thank you for the thought, I will need to check my diary and let you know what's possible as I am really very busy."
- "Ok, I've checked my diary and I am free. Where would you like me to meet you?"
- "There is a pub called the Red Lion that has a nice beer garden and the service is good, so we should be able to get everything we need to get done in an hour and get back to the office."
So, actually what becomes apparent is that by being formal and less 'real' we are actually turning easy requests into heavy, complicated and time consuming big deals that are more cumbersome and require more effort.
Being natural and behaving as you normally would cuts through all the flim flam and gets you to the point fast and that is good for business.
Without this ethos our work at Retriever would be very much harder day-to-day.
Business is like a good bed - you spend half your life doing it so you might as well enjoy it as much as you can. Bringing your life values into the way you operate commercially enables so much more to happen. Enhanced engagement, and more natural conversations and relationships equal better business.