Jay Abraham, a dear and brilliant colleague as well as one of the most eloquent, magisterial business writers I know, sent me a fascinating email yesterday. The title was: If a Tree Falls in the Forest and There’s Nobody Around, Does It Make A Sound? OR…Is There ANYBODY Out There Listening/Hearing Me/You/YOUR CUSTOMER?
I found this email very stimulating with respect to being a Game Changer in any industry. So like a member of a Jazz combo, I am going to collaborate with him improvisationally.
Jay starts off sounding a strong, authentic, mellow, Myles Davis like riff by saying… “So ok, when a tree falls in the forest, it still DOES vibrate, right? Well, when a prospect, client, fan, follower evokes the need to be heard – do you feel their vibrations?
Nearly twenty years ago I started showing people how to ‘feel and hear’ their market’s pain. Those that put their marketing ear to the ground (figuratively) and listened, connected at unimaginably deep levels with their prospects who rapidly transformed themselves into loyal, passionate buyers/clients.”
Listening through these deep soulful rhythms, it dawned on me that the ability of business leaders to change almost always starts with the ability to feel the market’s pain is what led to game-changer companies – like FedEx, Starbucks, Priceline, Southwest Airlines, Ritz Carlton, Zappos, LL Bean, Amazon, Disneyland and many others. Yet how do you feel the market’s pain? You don’t do it by delegating to an ad agency or R&D lab in the woods. You do it through sophisticated market studies.
“Always sell one thing,” says Jay, “if you want to be a game changer: authentic, purposeful leadership. You demonstrate truly, clearly that YOU genuinely feel what they are feeling.”
Herb Kellerher empathized with the grandmother or grandfather who wanted to attend their grand-kids college graduation, but couldn’t afford to buy a plane ticket. Walt Disney empathized with moms and dads that wanted to take the family to an amusement park, but didn’t want any of the dirt or sleaze. Fred Smith of FedEx empathized with people who wanted to get an important letter delivered the next day, but couldn’t rely on the post office to deliver it in less than three.
If you want to be a game changer from the bottom of your soul, if you want to fuel exponential revenue growth and profit growth, show people through your new products, services, and carefully orchestrated customer experiences that you clearly understand their problems, challenges, frustrations, goals, hopes, and dreams.
As Jay says, “Show it through your marketing and sales pitches that you intuitively understand that your customer wants to be appreciated, acknowledged, understood. Show it through your social media platforms – Google, Facebook, LinkedIn – that you are interested in them, not just you.”
It’s my belief that the most successful business leaders have a big heart, not just a sharp pencil. Richard Branson who showed up at Heathrow to apologize to customers if a plane came in late is a good example. Yet so is the guy in the valet parking lot who makes sure your new Mercedes or Ford F250 truck doesn’t get scratched, or the super market checkout clerk that sends someone to get the loaf of bread you forgot, rather than making you run for it yourself.
Jay calls this falling in love with your customer vs. falling in love with your company, product, service, or customer service policy. Nine times out of ten, our frustrations with cell phone companies, call-centers, airline ticket counter agents, companies that sell goods over the internet come from cold hearted business leaders who infect their employees with their own lack of empathy, and lock them into some stupid customer service policy where they couldn’t help the customer, even if they wanted to.
THE INTENTION today is to shift your paradigm, animate your thinking and teach you… Rather than selling the same old schlock, observe the customer’s frustrations with every other “me to” competitor in your industry and come up with a simple, obvious, game changing innovation to make those frustrations disappear. Empathize with the customer’s pain when something goes wrong, rather than be self-righteousness with the customer service policy. Treat employees as if each one is a valued contributor, rather than chewing them up and spitting them out.