There are a few things that won’t ever get old in business (or life). Many times, they are painfully simple and don’t cost a nickle.
A pat on the back
Atta Boy! Atta Girl!
I appreciate you!
You know what can get messy?
When you treat people dramatically different, or are BEING TREATED dramatically different once your title/role/position authority is understood. The entire game is changed.
A brief story…
While sitting at the desk with an office staff all away from the desk, the office phone (remember those things?) rings. I pick it up:
Me: “LM Foods?”
Caller: “Hi, Mr. X please.”
Me: “Sorry, Mr. X is tied up in the plant, been a crazy week, how can I help you? Where you calling from?”
Caller: “Calling from company Y. When is Mr. X Available?”
Me: “Hard to tell, it’s a plant and he’s putting out fires, tell me what company Y does?”
Caller: “Sir, I’m one of Mr. X’s vendors, why don’t I just call back at another time when Mr. X may be available!”
Me: “What kind of business have we done with you in the past?”
Caller: “I’m one of Mr. X’s Vendors, but you buy product A from us if you need to know and you bought it in January?”
Me: “Interesting and thanks for sharing that, but Mr. X is not the person that can help you with that?”
Caller: “I used to deal with Harry, he’s no longer there and someone told me to talk to Mr. X!”
Me: “Why don’t you send me a brief e-mail with a short description of your company, how we’ve done business and if I have that context I’d be happy to get you to the right person so your not so frustrated?”
Caller: “What is it that you do?”
Me: “Well I own the company, on a good day!”
What do you think our caller did next?
- First (after a long pause) the tone softened dramatically!
- Than an apology for the short/terse conversation.
- Then I counseled the caller that I felt a little bit of pressure when all I’m trying to do is help, “and to be honest the tone/vibe shouldn’t change when you learn of my position which is what I’m feeling right now.”
Unfortunately, I’m still waiting for the follow up email.
Sometimes helping sales people (or anyone) can only happen when they want to help themselves.
This little story reminded me of “the old days” and a former team member of mine. I used to work with someone who earned one of the great nicknames that can be given to a human being:
Nicknames only matter when they stick. Sunshine earned her nickname. That’s what I felt when I interacted with her. As did everyone around her. Sunshine is human like all of us, had her bad days like all of us had. But like the real sun, she rose each day. And whether you were the owner of a company, or whether you were the janitor, she treats everyone like they are the most important person in the room, and status never got in the way of her basic, warm approach to human interaction.
At the end of the day, sales is about people connection. Forming a bond with humans. So is leadership. So is doing a good job if you are a factory worker, a delivery person.
I believe most humans NOTICE when behavior changes on a dime, and whether they know it or not, they can spot the trigger of that change a mile away. Those are the moments a connection is made, but all too often, it is LOST.
If a person’s behavior IMPROVES as the person recognizes a person title, when that title has some “status” watch out.
If a person’s behavior is great all the time, but ESPECIALLY thoughtful to the people at the lower rungs of the ladder, watch closely here as well. That person may have a gift. That could be a nose for sales. Or an ability to lead or inspire.
Or maybe, that person just has a component of Sunshine? One thing I’m fairly certain: Every company needs a little Sunshine.