When I look at the various aspects of business I am drawn to the idea that the same three Cs apply to creating an environment for success. Those Cs are: Clarity, Communication, and Consistency. They actually work in concert with each other and therefore, are inseparable. Let’s visit each independently and you’ll see how they work together.
Boiled down I’d say that clarity of vision is essential. However, that’s not all. You need to have clarity in your message, clarity regarding your product or service, and clarity in your communications. Moreover, no matter what place you hold in a business, clarity plays a role.
As a business owner you need to have a great deal of clarity. You should be clear about what it is that you offer, what the value is to your clients, what the cost is, where you are going, and how you are going to get there. In addition, you have to be sure you are clear in all of your communications regardless of who they are with.
I know this may sound elementary but everywhere there are business owners who think they are clear when in reality they aren’t. Some of them actually have clarity but fail to communicate clearly. This creates problems because others don’t know where the owner is going or how they want to get there. The result is that people can’t help these business owners achieve their goals.
As a salesperson you should be very clear about what you offer, what its value is to your clients, and what the scope of work truly is. This will keep you from getting into an awkward situation with a prospect. Quite often when there isn’t clarity the salesperson and the client have different beliefs about the product or service. Once delivered, the client is unhappy because his expectations haven’t been met. This problem can be easily avoided through clear communication.
As a leader clarity is paramount. You can’t lead others when you don’t know where you are going or how you are going to get there. In addition, you can’t lead others when you don’t communicate clearly. They won’t know where to go or how to get there. Everyone will wind up being disappointed.
Did you notice how often communication came up in the previous paragraphs? That’s because even if you have all of the clarity in the world it will do you no good if you can’t or don’t communicate it clearly.
As a business owner you have an obligation to yourself to communicate clearly and often what your goals, expectations, and plans are. Only then can you be sure that others will be able to help you get there.
As a salesperson communication is critical. First you have to listen – A LOT! While listening, you should be taking notes and asking questions to be sure you are learning all you can from your prospect. Once you’ve gathered all of your data it is time to craft your proposal. How you communicate it will play a key role in how your prospect receives it. Be clear and thorough. Leaving out any element of the proposal can cause problems down the road.
Also, when dealing with current clients you have an obligation to your company to keep the communication flowing. Too often we stop nurturing our relationships with our current clients because we are off seeking new clients. Lack of communication here can cause you to lose out on business. When you are talking with your current clients you are discovering the things that are going on with them. You will discover opportunities to do more business with them. Conversely, if you aren’t talking with your current clients, someone else is gaining that business.
As a leader how you communicate makes all of the difference between success and failure. Your employees can’t follow you or do the things you want them to do if they don’t know what those things are. One of the areas where leaders often fail to communicate effectively is consequences. For whatever reason they don’t make it clear what the consequences are of meeting or failing to meet the expectations.
It is imperative to spell out to your staff what your goals are, how they play a role in helping you realize those goals, and what they will gain (or not) when they perform (or not). Believe me when I tell you that it makes everyone’s lives easier when the information is shared clearly. When everyone knows where they stand there is little to no drama. The emotion is eliminated and the business will thrive.
By now you are probably on my train and you know what I am about to say. Welcome aboard! I wouldn’t be practicing what I preach if I didn’t communicate what I mean here. So, here goes.
It is insufficient to communicate once and then expect others to always know what you want.
As a business owner you should set up a system where you are communicating your goals, expectations, and needs on a consistent basis with your staff. One of the best things you can do for your staff is to create a consistent environment where they know what the landscape is AND you are consistent in your treatment of your employees, your clients, and your vendors. It’s like parenting. If you aren’t consistent they will learn that all they have to do is wait; you will stop enforcing the rules and there will be no real consequences.
This can create multiple problems. You teach people how to treat you so here you are teaching your staff that they can do whatever they want – with no consequence. You are telling your hardworking staff that they really don’t matter because there are no negative consequences for the people who are not hard working. Whenever you tolerate behavior you don’t want you are, in essence, endorsing that bad behavior. Is that really what you want to do? I didn’t think so!
As a salesperson you have a lot to do. You are meeting a lot of people. You have to continue to nurture the relationships with your current clients. The best way to manage your sales process is to maintain a consistent plan of action. This way you can designate time for current clients, and prospecting and selling. For salespeople consistency is more about time management and goal setting. You start with setting your sales goals and then creating the plan around those goals. How you spend your time matters so you should develop a consistent strategy for conducting and monitoring your process.
As a leader, like a business owner, you have to be consistent in your messaging and your decisions. You have to be consistent in your discipline and reward system so it is equal across the board. One of the best ways to keep yourself out of trouble is to establish a program, communicate that program, and equally enforce that program.
Your employees will quickly learn how you operate and will either come along with you or leave. Either way, you win.
As you can see, business, sales, and leadership are much easier and therefore more successful when you have clarity and consistency, and you communicate effectively. We do ourselves a favor when we establish clear goals, expectations, and consequences early on. However, no matter when you do it, what matters is that you do it! Create the environment that will help you, and your staff, drive your organization to the goals you desire. You’ll be clearly happy with the results!