Paul shares four ideas on how to build and sustain the value-added movement, but also some insight on why movements can fail.
As a leader, you must articulate your vision and purpose as a value-added organization. Be crystal clear.
At every company meeting, in every email, every team communication, drive that value-added message home.
Inner circle buy-in is key.
Take those small wins. They signal progress.
Celebrate the successes achieved along the way in building this important value-added movement.
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How do I build and sustain a value-added movement?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, I’m going to focus on sales management and leadership. And the reason why, recently I’ve conducted several Value-Added Selling programs and one of the common questions among leadership is, “Hey, how do we keep this message alive? How do we build that value-added culture and sustain this value-added movement?” So that is what we are going to focus on in today’s session.
Now, before we get into that, just a quick reminder, as we face what could be a tough year, keep in mind that during a tough time, customers focus more on cost. In some cases, they become more price sensitive. The timing couldn’t be better to pick up your copy of Value-Added Selling. Value-Added Selling—we’re now on the fourth edition with McGraw-Hill. It’s available wherever you download your books or buy your books. You know, some people download them, some people read them, whatever you prefer. You can get Value-Added Selling wherever you buy your books.
Alright, so let’s get back to it. How do I build and sustain a value-added movement within my organization? I’m going to share four ideas. First of all, how movements succeed in general, how they fail, how to start a movement, and then finally, how to sustain that movement. So we’re going to focus on four key areas. And when we think about movements in general, so any type of movement you’re trying to create within your organization, there has to be clarity of purpose, you’ve got to communicate it effectively, there has to be absolute commitment at the top, and then courage to face the headwinds.
So let’s talk about The first C. There needs to be clarity of purpose. Some call it a vision statement, a purpose statement, whatever it is. In this vision statement or purpose statement, you need to be absolutely clear as to what your organization looks like as a value-added organization. This needs to be one sentence, it needs to be super clear, and it needs to be memorable. Your team has to remember this. They have to know what it is. They have to be able to recite it. So be specific, be brief. That way they’re going to remember it.
Number two, you’ve got to communicate it effectively. Communication is key. At every company meeting, on your emails, in your company newsletters, you almost have to overcommunicate your vision or purpose statement as a value-added organization. Your team needs to be reminded of it constantly. So think of how you’re going to communicate it.
Then, there also has to be absolute commitment at the top. Commitment at the very top. That means that, as a sales leader, you need to make sure that your leadership team, that your management team, is on board with this idea. And there has to be a demonstration of commitment. And one way that I encourage leaders to commit to a value-added movement is to eliminate your team’s ability to discount. That is one way you can demonstrate your commitment is to remove your team’s ability to discount.
So here we’re at so far: how do movements succeed? Well, you’ve got to have clarity of purpose, and you’ve got to craft that in some sort of vision statement. What does your organization look like as a value-added organization? Be specific, keep it short so that they can remember it. Communicate. Once you have this clarity of purpose, you have that vision statement, you have to communicate it all the time. In fact, you need to over-communicate it. There has to be commitment at the top. When we say commitment, that means remove your team’s ability to discount. That’s one of the most powerful ways you can do it.
Courage. This is the final piece in how movements succeed. You have to have courage to face the headwinds. As a leader, you have to imagine that on the last day of the quarter, your top salesperson will come to you and say, “Hey, look. I’ve got an order here that we can bring in that’s going to help us achieve our goal. It’s going to put us over the top for the quarter, but they need a 2-3% discount to make it happen.” What are you going to do at that moment? At that moment, you have a decision. You have to have the courage to face the headwinds. You have to have the courage to face pushback. Anytime you’re trying to create a movement and get people to change, there’s going to be risk. You have to decide how you’re going to respond beforehand. Have a plan in place. When you have a plan in place before that tough moment, it helps you make the right decision. So keep that in mind. Have the courage to face the headwinds.
Now, how do movements fail? Well, they fail when there is an incoherent vision, when people just don’t know what it is. When there’s poor communication, nobody follows it. Lack of commitment. You know, when I think about movements that have failed throughout history, prohibition being one of them, there was a lack of commitment there. When I think about other movements, Occupy Wall Street—this was from several years ago. There simply were not enough followers to sustain this movement. And it was incoherent rather as to what they were trying to accomplish. That’s when movements fail. And then when there’s no reinforcement, there’s nothing keeping it alive. So be aware of that when we look at movements and how they succeed and how they fail.
Now, we’re going to spend most of our time talking about engagement—how we start a movement. There’s going to be three waves of influence here. Wave one is the inner circle. The inner circle is the leadership team. So let’s say you have an organization of a hundred people. This is going to be your top 2-3 people—your top 2-3 within the organization that are fully committed.
Now, wave two is going to be your top supporters. This will be the maybe ten or so employees that are indirect leaders, meaning they don’t have the title leader or manager in their title, but they do have the respect of the team. People look up to them. These are your top supporters. We need them on board.
And then, wave three is going to be the majority. That’s everyone else, basically. It comes in waves. Let me share an example. Early on in my career, the company I was working for at the time went through an E R P system upgrade, a very pleasant process, as many of you know. Now, my manager of our branch— our branch total, we had roughly a hundred employees so it’s a good sample size for this story. We had roughly a hundred employees, and our manager made the announcement that our region was going to be the next region to have the E R P system upgrade.
And so, the manager sent out a nice, enthusiastic message to the team, and then he pulled me aside, and another one of our salespeople, and the ops supervisor, and he said, “Okay, guys, here’s the deal. I sent off that optimistic email. I’ve got to tell you, so far, this E R P upgrade has not been going well, but I need your guys’ commitment. I need you to be my cheerleaders for this project. We need to work together, and if we work together, we’re going to implement this E R P system and it’s going to be fine. And then once we get past the implementation phase, it’s going to be great. This is really going to help our business.”
So, he gathered us together. We were the inner circle—we were wave one. And he explained to us about what it’s going to look like, why we’re doing it. He also explained the outcomes, what we’re going to gain in the long run. And I’ll admit, we were all sold, and we said, “Yes we’re in. we’re on board. We’re going to be your cheerleaders. When everyone else tries to get negative, we’re going to keep it positive.”
Wave one was now in place. Once we went through our training and we launched it, we knew that there were some top supporters that we needed to get on board. There were a handful of drivers and delivery people. These were the individuals who have been with the company the longest. They are highly respected. People look up to them. They are the natural leaders within the group, and this represented about 5 or 6 people. We knew that it was critical that we get them on board, that we reach out to them before the movement takes place and say, “Look, here’s what we’re going to be doing. We need you to be one of our champions for this. We need you to help us. We need you to maintain a nice, positive attitude.” By having those individuals on board, it helped everyone else believe. And so once we got those individuals on board and the top supporters were believing in the system, everyone else started to fall in line.
Now, it didn’t happen overnight, and there were some bumps and bruises along the way, but what you need to do is focus on your inner circle. Create your inner circle. That’s wave one. Wave two is going to be your top supporters. And then finally, wave three is everyone else. Once you start this movement, the key is reinforcing it.
So, let’s talk about this. If you’re starting a value-added movement in your organization, you need to get your inner circle on board. You need to explain to them, “Hey, here’s why we need to focus more on value versus selling on price.” Wave two is going to be talking to your top salespeople: “Hey, here’s what we expect from you. We’re initiating this movement. We need your support,” getting them on board. And then everyone else will fall in place. So that’s the engagement piece in starting that movement.
The key to sustaining a movement. I’m going to share three thoughts here as we wrap up today’s program. Number one, you have to take Yes for an answer. You know, it’s so important that when we begin a movement, we need to meet people where they are. Any progress in the right direction is just that—progress. We need to take Yes for an answer. I remember during our E R P upgrade, one of the employees said, “You know what? This E R P system doesn’t suck nearly as bad as I thought it was going to.” That was us taking Yes for an answer. We acknowledged that as—Hey, it doesn’t suck that bad—that was a win. So you have to take Yes for an answer. Look for those small wins, those small yeses that demonstrate people are committed.
Number two, you’ve got to continue to use ongoing communication. Use that ongoing communication. Never assume that your people know why you’re having this movement, what the movement is, what is your purpose statement? Continue to communicate it at company meetings, emails, you name it. Then finally, celebrate success. As part of this value-added movement, you are going to experience failures, and you’re going to experience success. As the leaders, celebrate those successes, no matter how big or how small—celebrate them. That is going to provide recognition to those people supporting. It’s also going to provide motivation to those observing. Celebrating those successes is going to continue to generate momentum.
All right folks, so just a quick recap when we talk about building a value-added movement. Number one, there’s got to be a clarity of your purpose. You’ve got to communicate it, demonstrate your commitment, show courage. Keep in mind that movements fail when there is no vision, when there is poor communication and no followers. So, we have to focus on getting those followers. And how we do is by starting a movement.
When you start this movement, commitment’s going to happen in waves. Wave one is going to be your inner circle. Wave two is your top supporters. These are the indirect leaders within the organization. Wave three is everyone else. And as you’re trying to sustain this movement, take Yes for an answer. Look for those small wins and accept that as progress. Use ongoing communication. Again, you can’t over communicate your vision as a value-added organization. And then finally, celebrate those successes.
Make it a big day.