By: Pierre Morrisseau, CEO, OneGroup
I’m not talking about the noisy neighbor next door or that loud car that seems to rumble by as soon as you drift off to sleep. I’m referencing the kinds of things that could set companies back on their heels, or worse, damage companies beyond repair.
Like you, I am aware of the many things that can potentially be a danger to our success and growth. At the macro level, political, economic, environmental, technological, and other forces demand our best forward-looking attention and planning. Yet it is most often one of the many everyday functions of business that pop up and bite us.
Running any size business is complex and risky. A decision-maker’s attention is drawn in seemingly hundreds of directions. I remind our employees that we cannot think in terms of the products we offer, but instead on how we can help our clients with their short- and long-term priorities.
I was recently consumed with rolling out new technology that would streamline our operations and allow us to dramatically increase our time and focus on our clients. During this project, a salesperson cold-called me. He worked hard to pitch me on his product even though it was not aligned with my current needs or focus. He was unwilling to listen to my needs. I’m sure he is a fine individual, but his solution was not on my radar screen. It was not relevant to what I was dealing with that was keeping me up at night. This interaction led me to further evaluate how OneGroup approaches the sales process, and how important it is to put the client’s true needs first.
I spend a lot of time with our sales team, consultants and service teams educating them on The OneGroup Way—our focus on helping clients and individuals with what’s stressing them regardless of whether OneGroup has an immediate solution. We may still be able to help them, for example, by making useful connections. More importantly, if we take the time to understand and discuss their real issues, we can often times have opportunities to help improve their personal and business outcomes.
Had the young salesperson taken a few minutes to listen to what my immediate focus was on, he may well have been able to build a case that his product or service was part of the solution, or perhaps could have recommended another company to assist. Either way, he would have gained my attention and appreciation.
As we enter a second year of unprecedented challenges and risk, I believe it is more important than ever to listen to those around us—loved ones, employees, friends, clients—and to understand what they are stressed about. We should not assume. We should be quick to listen and offer our help. I truly believe that this behavior makes us stronger and is actually better for our bottom line by strengthening our collective relationships and trust.
A recent Harvard Business Review article stated that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses are now torn between “generating sales and respecting the threats to life and livelihood… .” I firmly believe that by shifting our attention from selling to helping, we are far more useful to and valued by our customers simply because we are demonstrating respect and caring.
As business leaders continue to deal with many things that keep us up at night, we would be wise to understand that our peers are also struggling on many fronts. We would be wise to offer our help in any way, not just with our specific products and services.