Accountability is the New Black

Accountability

We live in an ascending accountability universe.

Because of technology, we are now able to track our children when they leave the house. We can read their text messages and know to whom they are texting. We go online to view their grades.

How is this increased transparency playing out in the workplace?

If you have an internal instant messaging tool at work, your co-workers can see where you are, when you’re on the phone, how long your mouse has been idle and what time you log on and off each day. Not conducive to slacking off.

What does this mean for the advertising/marketing/sales professional?

Doomsday predictors say that advertising is dying. Advertising is not dying. However, it is revolutionizing and has been forced to adapt to a new delivery system. People are in control of content more now than ever before. Media consumption is on demand. Viewing is time shifted based on the preferences of the consumer.

Marketing will always be a thriving profession. Whether it’s tacking up fliers on telephone poles seeking a lost dog or spending $5 million dollars to buy an ad during the Superbowl, businesses need to promote their wares.

What’s the next BIG thing?

Pay for performance. How can you demonstrate return on investment to your customer? Technology has made measurement pervasive and omnipresent. In fact, there is so much data from so many inconsistent sources, it’s baffling to the technical buyer to determine which source is the most reliable, because everyone’s results are different.

There is a movement to connect marketing to consumer behavior. Talk about the secret sauce! Any one who can correlate marketing dollars spent to product sales results is poised for success in this new world order.

In the meantime, keep in mind, there are fewer places to hide and fewer secrets are safe. Business no longer runs on faith. Bottom line results are the language of business. Demonstrate bottom line results because they never go out of fashion.

Perception is Reality

Whatever the customer perceives to be true is true. If you are going to disagree with a customer’s perception, be prepared to document with hard facts.

Time and again, this fundamental rule must be followed in order to be successful. Whether you are trying to close a sale, build a relationship, ask for help, or otherwise try to get something from someone, you must accept that the way the other person sees things is the filter through which everything you say or do is perceived. Any attempts you make to ignore their perception will cost you time at the least and will disable your success at the most.

Yesterday, I met a customer for the first time. What I thought was to be a pleasant introductory visit and general informational meeting, turned out to be about as fun as a visit to the dentist. Several things were wrong before I ever started at this job. They never shared their concerns with me because they didn’t know that I would care.

I love a customer who vents. I would choose that any day over the customer who simply disappears or sulks in silence. You can’t fix what you don’t know is wrong. And I love the chance to be the hero that improves upon an inferior prior experience. If you care about doing a good job, it’s easy to please a customer who was not serviced well earlier.

At the start of the meeting I asked how everything was going. I got a blast in the face for an answer. Cool. I write fast and generally take decent notes. I care.

All this customer needed was basic service. Someone to listen to their questions and know how to provide answers.

The first thing I did was to disassociate myself from all prior history and players involved. This is a delicate conversation because, first, you never want to disparage your employer. That doesn’t further your agenda. Secondly, I work in a very small industry where everyone knows everyone and if I would say something bad about my predecessor, I could easily discover they are friends with the customer still. In fact, that was the case here, I later learned.

Negative speak never plays well to a customer. Tell me what you do right, not what they do wrong. Tell me why your service is better, not why the competition stinks. Tell me why I should trust you; don’t tell me not to trust them.

If you read this blog much, you might know that I value respect over popularity, when oftentimes one must choose between the two. Friends don’t always get the job done, but professionals do. If you focus on getting the work done, people will want to keep working with you. Fine if they grab a beer with some other guy.

Fortunately, I discovered yesterday that I’ve actually learned a thing or two at my new job. I was able to use the tools we sell to provide needed answers to their concerns. Knowledge goes a long way with a customer who’s starved for answers.

In summary, listen first. Take nothing personally. Don’t argue with perception when the assessment is subjective at best. Then share information of value. No one has extra time for useless meetings anymore. If you want back in, bring something they can’t get elsewhere.