How Are You in Business?


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No, that’s not an error. I didn’t mean to ask you “why” you are in business. My question isn’t about your goals, your aims, your vision, your mission, your business plan, your targets, or any of the other stuff that come together and answer the “why you are in business” question.

I’m here to ask you, specifically and simply: HOW are you in business?

What are you like? Are you pleasant? Are you responsive? Are you fair? Do you demonstrate in HOW you are in business, that you care about helping people with whatever solution you provide? Do you give your customers a reason to be glad that they do business with you? Would YOU buy from you?

Here’s the thing: business culture today is so focused on the target/goal/objective, that the means of achieving those ends — the HOW of business — is often an afterthought. In fact, sometimes, the HOW is not thought of at all, and so becomes utterly subjugated, sacrificed and snuffed out in relentless — arguably obsessive — pursuit of the bottom line and exclusively measurable outcomes. The HOW becomes nothing but a necessary evil between you and the WHY. And like all necessary evils, you treat it with resistance, contempt and disdain (experienced life at the DMV lately?).

I’m not saying that every single customer that you meet should receive flowers or a ticker-tape parade (“Hooray! You’re our 9th customer today!”). I’m saying that the HOW of your business is as essential as the WHY. The how matters. It’s important. Your customers deserve more HOW from you. And if they get a taste of it from your competitors, they’ll come to expect it from you, too. If you don’t have the HOW of your business in shape, you’ll lose them. And who can you blame for this other than yourself, and your anti-HOWism?

So. What can you do to inject some high-quality “HOW” in your business? It’s easier than you think. Simply start here:

– don’t act like you’re doing your customer a favor by selling to them; guard against this ESPECIALLY if, right now, you’re very busy and your stuff is in high demand…business is a cycle, you’ll come down to earth sooner or later, and the trail of pissed-off prospects in your wake won’t care to help you go back up

– don’t EVER confuse soft-selling with that ugly creature called “anti-marketing”; the former is an authentic and empowering way to develop a relationship with a prospect, while the latter is an invention of miserable, self-absorbed people who should be in deep, multi-discipline therapy

– focus on two fundamental aspects of customer happiness: their happiness with the sales process, and their happiness with the solution that they buy from you — when people engage in word of mouth marketing, they often emphasize the HOW of the sale more than the WHY or the WHAT

– remember your customer’s name! don’t be afraid to ask for it if you happen to forget — nothing is worse than getting a name wrong; it’s sloppy and if you can remember your own name, you can remember someone else’s

– make sure that the colleagues around you SUPPORT your efforts to develop a quality, pleasant sales experience; don’t have Sarah from shipping or Joe from accounting running around madly waving a waybill the air while you’re trying to talk to a prospect about your “total commitment to customer service”

See? Simple things.

Start with these, and build a “HOW” consciousness into your business. You’ll soon experience (don’t take my word for it, just see for yourself) that a better HOW leads to a better everything else, including a better bottom-line.

Adrian Miller
Adrian Miller Sales Training
Adrian Miller is president and founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training. She started the firm in 1989 and since then has developed highly customized and results-driven skills training for companies nationwide and across a myriad of industries. She also works with professional services firms and solopreneurs. Adrian is the author of The Blatant Truth: 5 Ways to Sales Success.


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