Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

The Key to Business Success: Customer Focus

Any of you who have been reading my blogs for a while know that I’m an absolute fanatic about customer focus, owning the voice of the customer, Moments of Truth and creating customer evangelists. This is based on years of research and study, working with hundreds of companies around the world and owning several companies of my own. It just seems to me if you get close to your customers, understand them better than your competition and deliver things that truly meet their needs at a reasonable price…you will win in the marketplace.

ag-lafleyBut don’t take my word for it, I was recently watching a wonderful video on the Big Think website where A.G. Lafley, the former CEO of P&G (Procter & Gamble), was describing their strategy to win in the marketplace.

Since Mr. Lafley is widely recognized as one of the top CEOs in America, and has been able to deliver incredible growth and success at P & G, I thought you might find his ideas interesting.

Here are some comments directly from the Big Think interview:

I believe everything starts with a deep understanding of who the customer is, what he or she wants and needs and then trying to give it to them. What experience does she want? What relationship does she want? How is she going decide whether we’re a good value? How is she going decide whether to try us and after she uses us whether to buy us on a regular basis?”

My emphasis added above, because I have long been a cheerleader for the idea of:

Whoever owns the Voice of the Customer owns the marketplace!

 

Here is Mr. Lafley reflecting on one of the major customer strategies that they implemented during his tenure as CEO:

“We used to talk a lot about winning the consumer moments of truth. We wanted you to have a good purchasing experience. We wanted you to have a good usage experience. We wanted you to have a good after usage experience. And ultimately we were looking for loyal consumers who promoted our brands to their family, their friends, you know, people in the neighborhood. Okay, that was our whole business model.”

One of the main things you learn from listening to your customers is their critical Moments of Truth. The three, four or five things you must do to create highly engaged, satisfied and loyal customers who become customer evangelists for your products and/or services. Once you understand these essential interactions, the Moments of Truth, then you must build processes, systems and training programs around them to ensure that they are delivered flawlessly for each and every customer, each and every time.

Here are some great comments on why he felt some of the company’s advertising was not effective:

“Frankly in my view there were a lot of pretty unsuccessful commercials. And the reason they were unsuccessful is they really didn’t have a customer or a consumer in mind. You know, I don’t feel like they put the consumer first. I don’t feel like they made a clear promise to that consumer. I don’t feel like they created a relationship with that consumer or had a dialog with that consumer.”

And lastly he touched on something that has long been one of my major pieces of advice to businesses I work with: Don’t worry about the competition, worry about having really, really happy customers and everything else will take care of itself.

Here’s how Mr. Lafley explained that same idea:

“You know, I guarantee you if we won with consumers – if we won with consumers and consumers loved our brand and product line, the financial results would come eventually. Always did.”

I feel awkward quoting so much from the Big Think interview, but I simply wanted you to hear exactly what one of the leading CEOs in the world had to say about the importance of getting close to your customer, listening to your customer and then delivering exactly what your customer has told you they want to buy from you. Now, I know the customer isn’t always right, and sometimes you have to innovate and anticipate based on their feedback, but I do know that at the end of the day the customer is the person who pays ALL the bills, so it’s worth taking a significant amount of time and money to listen to them carefully.

If you’d like to watch the interview, click on the logo  below which will link directly to the Big Think website with the A.G. Lafley video already queued up, and if you haven’t watched the videos on Big Think you’re going to be very pleased with the rich content and excellent interviews on their site.

I hope you found this blog of value and that you share it with your network – thanks – John

BigThink


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Five Fundamentals of Business Success

I just taught a series of business success seminars to about 300 entrepreneurs in Amsterdam and wanted to send a super special “Thank You” video to my hosts and the attendees on what I felt were a few of the MOST important things to focus on in order to run a highly successful organization. Once I finished the video I thought the information was so powerful that I decided to post it here on my blog for all of my followers to benefit from. I truly hope you find this video of great value and I challenge you to take at least one or two key ideas and begin implementing them right away.


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The Most Important Thing In Business

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I was talking to a good friend of mine, Bob Fetterman, who is the manager of the performing arts center at our local college, when he turned me and said, “In one word, what is the most important thing in business?”

I thought about it for just a few seconds and then confidently answer, “Talent.” Bob looked back at me and said, “It’s the same in the theater.”

The truth of the matter is it’s the same in just about every organization. If you’ve done a truly good job of finding highly talented people you have built the foundation for a sustainably successful organization. Because no matter what’s wrong in your business; if you have great people they can figure out a way to fix it. On the other side of the coin, no matter what’s wrong in your business, if you have bad people they will make it worse.

In the class I teach on strategy at Wharton I tell my students that we are entering an era where there is very little opportunity to create sustainable competitive advantage. Your competitor can copy your products, they can put a location right across the street, they can spend ten times what you do on marketing, they can drop their price, they can offer free shipping, they can do lots of different things to try to win in the marketplace, but if you have superior talent, your people will figure out how to win against the competition. To me, two of the only sustainable competitive advantages left to most businesses are:

The quality of the people that you can get, grow and keep on your team

 

The relationships they create with your customers

 

Which means that talent acquisition, talent development and talent retention should be a major strategic imperative in your business. In addition, you will need to create a winning culture of highly engaged, satisfied and loyal employees who are fanatical about delivering only the highest quality products and services and having only superior customer relationships and will tolerate nothing less.

Years ago I had lunch with a gentleman who built his business from one acre on the edge of a dairy farm, to a multibillion-dollar enterprise and I asked him what he felt the most important thing in running a successful business, he didn’t hesitate, he looked at me and said, “John, you can kid yourself about a lot of things in business but at the end of the day it’s always people, people, people.”

 

If you have 5 seconds I would deeply appreciate your vote as a top small business influencer…


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Ten Business Success Ideas

John in Toronto_edited-1As I sit here in the lobby of the Marriott in downtown Vancouver, I am reflecting on some of the highlights of the past few weeks which have taken me to assignments in Charlotte, Baltimore, Vegas, Toronto, Barbados and now to Vancouver. The clients have ranged from Bank of America to small business owners, to a workshop for 1,000+ CPAs and a speech to 8,000+ of the top financial planners in the world. Also, with so much time on planes I have read 20+ books on various business topics. Here are some big business success ideas I have picked up  (or re-confirmed) along the way…

 

1. Accountability and disciplined execution are the MOST pressing issues in almost all of the companies I have been working for in the last 6 months. This is a HUGE issue and can negatively or positively impact a company’s success in significant ($$$$$$) ways!

2. Lack of clear, specific and well-understood communications is a CLOSE second!

3. The majority of businesses are NOT doing a good enough job of truly listening to their EMPLOYEES and CUSTOMERS. Whoever owns the Voice of the Customer (VOC) owns the marketplace — and if you run a business your employees are actually your customer – and then they go out and serve the final customer – so you have to own the Voice of the Employee (VOE).

4. McDonalds spends more time and money training their employees than the average “high-tech” business. Think about that – and then think about how much you truly invest in high-quality training for your people.

5. See the reading infographic below – it should blow your mind and motivate you to increase your reading. Especially the very last stat… 7 x 1 x 7 = International Expert. Hey, it worked for me!!!!

6. If you have a problem with accountability at lower levels in your organization, then it is the responsibility of the middle managers to hold their people accountable. If they will not, then the senior managers need to hold the middle managers 100% accountable – if they cannot then the CEO must hold the senior managers fully accountable. In other words – creating a culture of accountability ALL starts with the tone and example that the CEO sets. This seems very straight-forward and simple – but it is typically the root of the problem.

7. From the book: Difference – by Bernadette Jiwa. “The truth is people do not fall in love with ideas at all. They fall in love with the ways those ideas, products, services and places make them feel.” This is a really important branding axiom.

8. The reason that most people do not get a ton of high-quality referrals is simply this: They are NOT remarkable. They do not truly add enough value for their customer to want to “remark” about them to others. So the first step in getting referrals is towering competencies (ideas, products, services, experiences, information, suggestions, and innovations) that are exceedingly valuable to your customers.

9. The quality of your life is determined in large part by the quality of the questions you ask… to others and to yourself! Great leaders are expert at asking just the right question at just the right time – to their people and to themselves.

10. Culture = Cash. The number ONE factor in highly engaged, satisfied and loyal CUSTOMERS… is highly engaged, satisfied and loyal EMPLOYEES. Insanely successful companies all share this practice: Higher top talent, engage them through a winning culture, guide them with a sharply focused and well-communicated vision, values and strategy for growth – then empower them to go out and WOW the customer. That is about as Awesomely Simple as I can make it!

I hope you will share this post with your network – thanks – John

READING Facts!!!


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Creating Better Presentations

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This post was drawn from the teachings contained in Duct Tape Selling – Think Like a Marketer Sell Like a Superstar by John Jantsch

I’m sure you’ve probably sat through a number of really bad presentations, so the ultimate goal is not to be one of them. Laziness is usually the culprit behind bad presentations.  It takes some real strategy to create a great presentation, but well worth it because you want your audience to walk away having positive feedback, not feeling that they just wasted their time and money.

It’s very helpful to think, what is it that you want your audience to walk away with? Do you want them to be entertained or do you want them to understand a once complicated topic? Figuring out this goal and getting clear with your mission will help you give a successful presentation.

Start in Analog

Make sticky notes and a big white board your friend before you jump the gun and start creating slides.  Outline the entire map of your presentation- move things around and rearrange the order of things before you commit to putting it in presentation software.

What’s the Journey?

 People need to believe they can use the information you give them, otherwise it won’t matter how good the presentation is.  A great presentation takes the audience to a whole new world; it opens the floodgates of new knowledge and new perspectives. Most people come to hear someone speak because they are seeking a solution to a problem or want to be shown a new way of doing something. So you need to win them over and lead them along the way. This is why great presentations end with a logical call to action.

Tell your story

 Who doesn’t like a good movie? Great presentations have a lot in common with great cinema in the storytelling aspect. You want to keep your audience engaged and a great way to do that is by storytelling. Telling stories moves people and makes them want to adopt your point of view. The audience will have more of a personal connection to you if you present your information in a narrative format. It’s ultimately more interesting than just hearing statistics and it’s easier to digest.

Less is more

 Use your slides to help your audience remember key points. You want your slides to be one word or show images that reinforce the point you are trying to make, not teach it from scratch in that moment. Use you slides as a partner tool, not a crutch. Also, remember to practice with your slides so that your presentation is a well-oiled machine by the time you get up to the podium.

Book recommendations

 I firmly believe that you should read these two books if you are going to be a presenter.  Resonate and Slideolgy, both by Nancy Duarte, are fantastic at giving the necessary steps one needs to be an effective presenter. She gives tools that will help you craft and present your ideas that will help make your message matter.

Virtual Speaking

 Giving a presentation these days can mean that you are doing so virtually. You don’t have to be in a big board room or auditorium, you can be looking right into your computer’s camera and giving an effective webinar that has very big benefits.

 MeetingBurner, GotToWebinar, or AnyMeeting are services you can use that can have as many as 1,000 people participating as audience members. Although being in person has its pluses, many people find that giving presentations virtually has a high degree of success as well. Sometimes, people like being in the comforts of their own office or home, without having to leave to attend a presentation in person.

 Being a presenter is more than just standing in front of a room spouting out facts and figures.  You need to really draw the audience in and give them something to take away that they can implement right now.  Use these tips for your next presentation and see the difference it makes.

 

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. His latest book, Duct Tape Selling – Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar is available online and in bookstores May 15.

How to Make 2014 Your BEST Business Year Ever!

If you found this video of value, PLEASE take a moment to share it with your entire network.  My goal is to help as many people as possible have a fantastic 2014 in their business!!  Thanks so much, I wish you every possible happiness and success in the new year!!!!  John


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Customer Service: It Will Save Or Kill Your Business

defining-it-project-successAbout a week ago I got an e-mail from an author I’ve never heard of, Kirt Manecke, asking me if I would like a copy of his book so that I might do an honest review on Amazon (it is one of the best perks of my job that I get offers like this all the time – and who in the world am I to pass up free book?).  A few days later a small 89-page book entitled: “SMILE – Sell More with Amazing Customer Service” showed up in my mailbox. On the cover it touted that it was, “The Essential 60-minute Crash Course,” so I shoved it in my briefcase to read on the plane during my two week speaking tour across Canada. Well, it didn’t even last 60 minutes; I read it while on the tarmac waiting to take off from my hometown of Gainesville – 45 minutes tops.

To be frank, the book was a little fundamental, extolling such basic customer service practices as: smile, answer the phone with a smile, say please and thank you, make good eye contact, be enthusiastic, dress for success, keep professional, don’t make the customer wait… stuff that every single customer-facing employee on the face of the earth should know and do for every customer. However, in the last few days since I left for this trip I have wished to God that someone had given this book to every single service provider I have dealt with. I have been met by rude attendants, uncaring employees, unprofessional staff, long waits, and generally crappy service at nearly every place I’ve been in the last week. If only someone had made them sit down and read this little book – twice or three times – I feel they probably would’ve done a much better job and I might actually be going back to some of those establishments and giving them my business again!

Let me make this as Awesomely Simple as I can: for the vast majority of businesses today the ONLY competitive differentiator you have is the level of service you deliver to your customers. People can copy your product, your price, your location, your hours, your decor, your uniforms, your marketing and advertising… they can copy just about everything you offer… except the quality of the service your front-line employees deliver and the relationships they build with your customers. For many of you reading this blog, Amazing Customer Service – or lack thereof – will be the sole determinant as to whether you are successful in your business or not. Please take a moment to read that last sentence again and think about it very carefully!

As your Trusted Business Adviser here’s what I’m going to tell you: make sure that you spend a significant amount of time, energy, effort and resources training and retraining your customer-facing people to deliver absolutely world-class service –PERIOD. I highly recommend this book as a perfect “handbook” that every one of your service folks should read, but don’t stop there… show them videos, send them links to blogs, send them to training classes, reward them when they do a great job and quickly point out when they’re not delivering the service-level expectations you have set.

Remember: You can only hold people accountable to deliver the level of service you have trained them to deliver, and the service expectations you have set for them, so use this book, use other books, use every resource available to set exceedingly high service expectations and then hold your people fully accountable for delivering them flawlessly for every single customer, every single day.

To me, this is one of the most powerful strategies for creating a highly successful business, one that everyone knows, but so few businesses do – which means it is a great opportunity for you to create a powerful and valuable differentiator in the marketplace.

***Quick gut-check: on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being world-class, what would you honestly score your business right now on the overall level of service you deliver to your customers? Even more important, what would your customers score you??

To buy the book on Amazon click here…

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Success Quotes: 51 Ways Ordinary People Reached World-Class

I recently came across this extremely powerful list of success quotes by Robin Sharma, a writer and philosopher that I deeply admire and respect. I was so impressed with this list that I sent him and note to ask if I could share it with all of you and he graciously agreed.  I believe the 51 items he has listed (except number 7 for me!) are all spot on, and I have added a few of my own at the end. I hope you find this list very useful and share it with as many people as you can!

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By Robin Sharma – Author of the #1 International Bestseller “The Leader Who Had No Title

  1. Know what you want. Clarity is power. And vague goals promote vague results.
  2. Remember that every problem has a solution. Maybe you just can’t see it. Yet.
  3. In this Age of Dramatic Distraction, the performer who focuses the best wins the most.
  4. Before someone will help you, you need to help them.
  5. Become the most passionate person you know. It’ll be contagious.
  6. Know more about your craft/the work you do than anyone who has ever done the work you do…in the history of the world.
  7. Join The 5 am Club. Your most valuable hours are 5am-8am. They have the least interruptions.
  8. Devote yourself to learning something new about your field of mastery every day. Success belongs to the relentless learners. Because as you know more, you can achieve more.
  9. Remember that when you transform your fitness, you’ll transform your business.
  10. Don’t check your mobile when you’re meeting with another person. It’s rude. And rude people don’t reach world-class.
  11. Every time you do what scares you, you take back the power that you gave to the thing that scared you. And so you become more powerful.
  12. A problem is only a problem if you make the choice to see it as a problem.
  13. Stop being a victim. Your business and personal life was made by you. No one else is responsible. To make it better, make better choices. And new decisions.
  14. You can lead without a title. Don’t wait to get a position to stand for excellence, peak quality and overdelivery on every expectation.
  15. Find your own style. Be an original. Every superstar differentiated themselves from The Herd. And marched to their own drumbeat.
  16. Understand that when you play small with your success, you betray your potential. And the birthright you were born under.
  17. Eat less food and you’ll get more done.
  18. As you become more successful, stay really really hungry. Nothing fails like success. Because when you’re successful, it’s easy to stop outlearning+outOverDelivering+outthinking and outexecuting everyone around you. (Success is Beautiful. And dangerous).
  19. If you’re not overprepared, you’re underprepared.
  20. The only level of great manners to play at is “Exceedingly Polite”. In our world, this alone will make you a standout. And differentiate you in your marketplace.
  21. Remember that the moment you think you’re a Master, you lose your Mastery. And the minute you think you know everything, you know nothing.
  22. To double your results, double your level of execution.
  23. Invest in your personal and pro development. All superstars do.
  24. Get this year’s best Targets of Opportunity down onto a 1 Page Plan. Then review it every morning while the rest of the world sleeps.
  25. You don’t get lucky. You create lucky.
  26. When you push through a difficult project, you don’t get to the other side. You reach The Next Level.
  27. Smile. And remember to inform your face.
  28. Spend time in solitude every day. Your best ideas live there.
  29. Debrief on how you lived out your day every night in a journal. This will not only record your personal history, it will make you uber-clear on what you’re doing right and what needs to be improved.
  30. If your not being criticized a lot, you’re not doing very much. Ridicule is the price of ambition.
  31. Develop a monomaniacal focus on just a few things. The secret to productivity is simplicity.
  32. To get the results very few people have, be strong enough to do what very few people are willing to do.
  33. Rest. Recover. It’ll make you stronger.
  34. Buy a smaller TV and build a larger library.
  35. Remember that the bigger the goal, the stronger a person you must become to achieve that goal. So goal-achieving is a superb practice for character-building.
  36. Food fuels your body. Learning feeds your mind.
  37. Don’t ask for respect. Earn it.
  38. Finish what you start. And always end strong.
  39. Breathe.
  40. In business, don’t play to survive. Play to win.
  41. Protect your good name. It’s your best asset.
  42. Remember that words have power. Use the language of leadership versus the vocabulary of a victim.
  43. Give more than you take. The marketplace rewards generosity.
  44. Know that if it’s not messy, you’re not making progress.
  45. Be a hero to a kid.
  46. In business, aim for iconic. Go for legendary. Make history by how awesome you are at what you do.
  47. Please don’t confuse activity with productivity. Many many people are simply busy being busy.
  48. Your doubts are liars. Your fears are traitors. Stop buying the goods they are attempting to sell you.
  49. The best anti-aging remedy in the world is working really hard.
  50. World-Class performers have no plan B. Failure just isn’t an option.
  51. You have the power to change the world—one brave act and one person at a time. Please use it.

From John

52. You become what you focus on and like the people you spend time with.

53. When values are clear, decisions are easy.

54. The minute you stop expecting life to be simple, fair and easy…it becomes simple, fair and easy.

55. The true measure of your life will not be in money, fame, or power – but in how much you loved others and how much they loved you.

56. Embrace an abundance mentality. Help as many other people as possible get what they want and you will get everything you want.

57. The quality of your life will be determined by the quality of the questions you ask…to others and to yourself. Quality questions lead to quality answers.

58. The three watchwords of excellence:  Focus – Discipline – Action.

59. Just remember – you are not right, there are many, many ways to look at every situation and your way is not the only way.

60. Life is short, very short, do not waste time on the trivial… live in the moment and invest in yourself for the future.

61……………

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What would you like to add to the list?

If you enjoyed this post you will likely find GREAT value in my post:

90 Quotes That Will Change The Way You Think!

 

Ode to Customer Service, a Business Poem…

 

I sit in the hotel restaurant, my iced tea is empty

The waitress fiddles to reset a table and spies my glass

We make eye contact…

I look at the glass

She looks at the glass

She goes back to setting the table

The game is afoot!

 

Care to offer your own business poem for this lovely Friday? The best business poem submitted wins a free copy of my book!!!