Bridget is a project manager for a tech company called Qstream. Her role is essentially to create a strategy to implement technology that has already been purchased in a way that best meets the business needs of the client. She is not in a sales role.
However, Bridget sees her main purpose as doing whatever she can to best meet the needs of the client. In other words, she is "customer purposed."
Because Bridget is customer purposed, she tends to go well beyond the requirements of her role. For instance, with a recent client, she spent a significant amount of time talking with people throughout organizations, working to uncover needs and thinking of ways to help.
The business results of her efforts to serve are striking. This particular account has grown from $25k to $1.5 million in two years.
What could your organization achieve if it was full of people like Bridget?
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Scott Edinger. Scott is the author of a new book called, The Hidden Leader, in which he offers proven ideas for building a culture that has more people like Bridget. The core idea I took away from our conversation is that a culture full of people like Bridget starts at the top with leaders who are more like Bridget.
When leaders consistently exemplify a few key traits it becomes much easier to find the hidden "Bridgets" within an organization because the leaders are more aware of what the key traits look like. Perhaps more important, when leaders consistently exemplify those key traits, they create an environment where the hidden "Bridgets" feel more comfortable behaving in ways aligned with these traits, and people who aren't naturally like Bridget are more likely to become more like her.
Below are two of the key traits Scott mentioned.
Being "Customer Purposed"
One key to creating a culture full of sales rock stars is to model a spirit of service. Scott calls this being "customer purposed." As we saw with Bridget, being customer purposed means going well beyond just doing what is required of the position. It means taking the time to really engage with a customer and understand what a customer is trying to accomplish. Often, this can even include integrating solutions that come from other people or organizations.
Leaders can model this behavior in how we deal with external customers. Perhaps more important, we can model that behavior with our internal customers, the people we lead. We should understand where the people on our teams want to go - and what they want to accomplish - and work to help them get there, even if that means they eventually want to leave our team.
One of the most common weaknesses I see in sales people is fear of objections. They try to avoid any discussion of what my give a customer apprehension about applying the solution being offered.
People who are strongest in sales tend to openly invite a discussion about possible objections as early as possible. They know inviting objections and helping a customer feel heard builds the trust that is essential for healthy, long-term relationship, while also providing more time to find ways to solve the issues that are giving rise to the objections.
In my chat with Scott, he stressed the importance of leaders modeling this same type of comfort with inviting opposing viewpoints and opinions. By explicitly inviting dissenting opinions and disagreement, leaders serve team members by creating a culture in which people feel much safer to share ideas that could be invaluable to the success of the organization. This also benefits the organization by a creating culture with more people who effectively serve customers and thereby increase sales.
What are some of the ways you model the behaviors you'd like your team members to emulate when dealing with both internal and external customers?
Matt Tenney is a social entrepreneur, an international keynote speaker, and the author of Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom.