Increase Productivity At Work
Small Business success is about selling ideas, selling products, selling opportunity, selling vision…but you need to do it productively. We are always selling in small business and ultimately selling is about having conversations – because in my belief you cannot sell anything, customers must choose to want to buy. One could argue that the rise of self-serve business.. negate the need to sell. However I think more than ever we need deep customer relationships – and it is the conversations that we have that make this real. Atlassian, Safety Culture, Xero or Deputy are all famous for not having traditional sales teams…. But they are relentless on customer experience and customer relationships.
All business is a people game… Business success is dependent on finding customers and keeping them. It might sound obvious but whether you are talking to a team member, or a prospect the art of conversation is equally important.
I have seen many teams hide behind ‘email’. When asked how the pipeline is coming along, or how they are tracking on a project they retort ‘I have been in touch with more than 80 people this week’ (however sending an email is NOT in my opinion being in touch with – nor building unbreakable relationships).
Here are a few ideas on how you can increase productivity at work:
First of all pick up the phone…
1. Choose the moment. If you want to have a real conversation, and don’t want to get the voice mail – then when is a likely time that they will be at the desk…. Perhaps first thing in the morning (or much later in the day)… if it’s the team you wish to speak to perhaps an all hands lunch and learn would be a good time.
2. Stand to attention or walk around. When I was in sales – I had a head set and would walk… it is about the energy in my voice. If I am sitting, after a few hours of picking up the phone I will feel sleepy, so I walk and talk and keep my energy up. (Most radio hosts now stand at desks too to keep their energy in their voice).
3. Be relevant. When time is of the essence, make sure you have done your homework before you call, find out something interesting or relevant to the person role or industry.. be short, and succinct – but most of all be relevant. It is your job to be in their world. If I get a phone call and someone says ‘Have you got a minute?’ it instantly makes me realise that I don’t and I have a 100 other things I should be doing. What about being truthful. ‘I’m glad I’ve got you as I’m keen to see if…..’
4. Get to the point. Make sure before you even pick up the phone you have a reason for the call and get to the point. (Or if the conversation is in person a bit of small talk about football if you live in Melbourne, or the weather in Sydney – then on to it) What is the one thing that you are trying to achieve with this call. If you do too much you will risk ‘boring’ the other person or have them quickly distracted by their email.
5. LISTEN! I find taking copious notes of everything said to be distracting – I need to stay present and focused on what they are saying. And I paraphrase what they are saying to me to help me understand and remember the detail – maybe jotting down one or two relevant words. The greatest thing you can do in any conversation is listen intently – and confirm what you have heard… any conversation is about trust… and if someone takes the time to let you know where they are up to – the least we can do is listen deeply.
6. Now might not be perfect. You might have caught them on the hop or getting ready for a meeting – but you also know that tracking them down again will be hard. This is where your nurture stream comes in. Get to the point, be relevant and have a next move – make sure that you can send them further ‘relevant’ information. If there is interest do have a next step…
7. Authentic voice. You will have far greater success if you are you – that is that you don’t read from scripts or use words that you would not normally use. People buy from people they like – and people must choose to buy (you cannot sell them anything). In saying that your chosen approach does need to be respectful of who you are speaking to. (I remember one sales pitch I had when the pitcher kept referring to me as “Darlin’”. I have often observed when people use the word ‘like’ excessively when they speak or ‘actually’ this can diminish the impact of the words. Language and every word is important.
This is relevant too when it comes to your colleagues – with everyone time poor, overwhelmed with emails, how can you stand out, build relationships, and have real conversations that build great team work? Perhaps the seven points above will give you a way forward.
When I think about what makes a small business successful (and large one’s too) it is the ability of its leaders to get every iota of energy available to them working towards that success. Success is much more than simply the bottom line results for a given period. I’d prefer to think of it as sustainable ongoing growth, a great work place and delivering outcomes for the people and community it serves.
Years ago (and we are talking last century) in my corporate career I remember that one of the biggest complaint by employees was ‘I don’t know what is going on’. It might sound simple that people just need to know what they are there to do, have someone appreciate it – and go home feeling like a winner – which means they know what is going on. This is amplified when we consider that the underlying element to work is that someone feels like they have contributed to the greater good. Each person needs to know what part they played in that great good (and what the greater good is.)
You can have all the systems in the world, email, slack, trello, webinars, intranets… but having people engaged in the messages (and the greater good) means that some level of conversation (which includes listening) must take place.
Give it a try and see what happens.