The Advancing Leadership Blog

Want to put the play back in your day and bucks on your bottom line?

The biggest challenge for business owners is to stop being mired behind your desk and get back to where the fun in your business is – connecting with your customers to find out what’s really holding them back and how you can help. After all, the reason you went into business in the first place was to do what you love and help others do what they need to do, right?

Tip: connect in a meaningful way with your customers
We all know we should be close to our customers.  None of us do it often enough.  Part of the reason is that no one ever taught us the art of executive-level Value Creation Conversations™ that create deep insights into what is going on in your customers’ minds and how you can use your knowledge and skills to add value for both of your organizations.   Getting out from behind my desk and spending quality time with customers was my greatest secret to success when tackling tough turnarounds.  I had to learn the hard way how to subtly uncover issues, spot opportunities, understand share of wallet, determine willingness to pay, and differentiate from my competition.  You don’t.

Top CEOs make time for direct customer contact.
Sam Palmisano, the legendary CEO of IBM, met with a customer every day.  Hold this vision in your mind:  as a pretty high-powered CEO with a million things on his to do list, you can bet that Sam wasn’t talking about the merits of laptops, desktops, and servers during those meetings, nor how many of each would be in the next order.  He conducted value-focused dialogues, not sales calls by asking his clients about key factors in the future of their business – this was not a meaningless meet and greet, it was about gaining deep insights into their future relationship.   Sam’s insights led him to make the critical strategic shift that got IBM out of selling commoditized hardware and is now driving the future of IBM.

You’ll experience near-term bottom-line impact from this strategy.
What’s in it for you to carve the time out of your day even if you’re not IBM?  You have an opportunity to subtly create positive bottom-line impact during your own transition process that your competitors are overlooking.   Can you imagine how many CEOs went back to their IT department after a meeting with Sam to say “I know you’ve been considering Dell (or HP or whoever) for our next computer purchase.  I think IBM has a better understanding of our needs and I’d like you to go with them.”   Wouldn’t it be nice if YOUR clients were saying that to their purchasing department about you?  You won’t be overtly selling during your Value Creation Conversations™, but you can expect a lot of sales as a result.

Take Action:
When you and each member of your leadership team hold Value Creation Conversations™ with just one customer per week for the next quarter, you’ll uncover insights that will change the future of your company and differentiate you forever from your competition.   How do you find the time?  Simply take a customer to breakfast.  Put customer time in your day before you ever tackle email or get into the rest of your day!  Its easier than you think!

As a proven business leader, successful consultant, and author of the Profit Maximization Breakthrough System™, the Not Another Boring Strategy Session™ Program, and the Legendary Value Cycle™, Anne Graham helps motivated business leaders transform their organization in two ways: with Learn-by-Doing programs guaranteed to deliver results within 91 days, and with hands-on hold-feet-to-the-fire coaching and consulting support to execute well. Click here to find out more about Anne >

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