In our last blog (and podcast), we talked about ‘Where is my business going’ and we mentioned the need to be ‘flexible and innovative’: so that you can take advantage of the quality feedback you get from loyal customers AND the ‘not today’s.
We discussed that this feedback would give you 3 things:
- Information on what you do very well: so you can use this strength to diversify and build your offer (to increase cross sales and up sales).
- Information on what frustrations and problems they face in your area of operation (if you listen really well), so you can spot opportunities to add new products or services to meet their needs and gain higher sales and more loyalty.
- Information on where the holes in your leaky bucket are, so you can plug them one by one.
So it’s obvious isn’t it: you just need to gather feedback and be ‘flexible and innovative’ and Bob’s your uncle!
Well, like most things, if it were that easy, then everyone’d be doing it and doing it well. And we all know that they (and you?) aren’t.
If you’re too flexible and innovative, you can create chaos and end up over diversifying and falling to pieces … and if you’re not flexible and innovative enough, you stand a very real chance of becoming a dinosaur …
So the key question is: how to be flexible and innovative, without losing control and getting in a muddle?
I’d suggest that you need a system.
Systems make things happen in an organised way. Systems are how McDonalds can serve the same standard burger in Moscow and New York. Systems are how things get done, and people are empowered, without causing chaos.
So, systems are not only for production, or sales, or accounts … I suggest you need a simple but powerful system for flexibility and innovation.
In our podcast, we talk about this in some detail, but here are 3 key tips to help answer that question.
(And, before you read the key tips, I should just point out that, in order for this to work properly, you need to start by ensuring that everyone is ‘on the same page’ and working towards the same end goal: it’s what we can a ‘Simple, powerful, customer-focused Mission’ … and you can find out all about this elsewhere in our material).
I would also suggest that putting this type of system in place is not as easy as it sounds: so our 3 steps are designed to be taken slowly (of course!) and implemented over 3 months: one step per month.
So, assuming you’ve got that sorted (and I suggest that, until you do, it’ll be nigh on impossible to be genuinely flexible and innovative using these steps), here are 3 steps to help you put a ‘flexibility and innovation system’ into place:
- Month 1: Develop, step by step, a fit for purpose set of quality customer feedback systems (as we discussed last time). Make sure these cover 3 areas:
- Proactive feedback: to engage and get quality information from customers
- Reactive feedback: to engage and respond effectively to feedback that customers give you off their own bat
- Proactive reactive feedback: to monitor behaviour and body language and get customers who haven’t bought or who’ve behaved strangely to let you know why this happened
- Month 2: share the feedback being generated with all your people: ask for their feedback, response and suggestions on:
- How to improve the feedback volume and quality
- How to use the feedback effectively to be flexible and innovative
- How to measure progress and hold each other accountable
- Month 3: start developing an action system for flexibility and innovation, slowly, step by step. Some actions you could consider are:
- A weekly ‘Go the extra inch’ process
- ‘Weekly compass planning’ as individuals and teams
- Monthly informal 1:1s holding each other accountable on progress towards clear goals (linked to the ‘customer focused mission’).
- Have clear, compelling ‘lead measures’ of behaviours and customer feedback to measure progress (and hold people accountable)
All of these are, of course, covered in detail in the ‘Slow Selling’ system, so make sure you’re signed up to our free weekly email service, so you get one every week direct to your inbox.
But, in a nutshell, I hope this gives you the structure and approach you need in order to set up and run an effective ‘flexibility and innovation’ system.
The ONLY thing I can promise for sure is that you will need it … as the economy slows down, customers become ever more demanding, and innovation continues to disrupt traditional job roles and suppliers.
Flexibility and innovation, systemised, step by step is an essential, not a ‘nice to do’.
To listen to the Podcast on this subject, please click below:
To benefit from the free weekly top tips and ideas service, please click here
(You’ll also get a free ebook – The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales – and 3 exclusive videos about how to grow business, build remarkable levels of customer reputation and outsmart bigger and better funded competition … continually … without sacrificing principles or profits).
Slow Selling is a UK based not for profit organisation for leaders and mangers in independent businesses.
Our systems deliver peace of mind and confidence to caring leaders and managers who have limited time and resources, want to do the right thing and grow their business … all without sacrificing principles or profits.
To find out more, please click here