The organizations we work with come to us all the time to discuss new strategies that they can adopt to take their businesses to the next level. Sometimes, these conversations revolve around high-level organizational change. These are great conversations where we take deep dives into discovering the value of what they are currently doing, opportunities that may exist, analyzing what their competitors are doing, and so on and so forth. And despite their enthusiasm for change, they often don’t like our first and most important rule for implementing change strategies, which is to only focus on one thing at a time. This is hard for most people. When you have the resources that some of our clients have the idea of needing to do more, provide more, and change more is persistent. But, successful organizational change doesn’t happen that way. Strategic changes happen one level at a time.
When we work with companies to focus on instituting behavioral change the conversation often goes the same way. Sales managers want to change multiple behaviors at the same time. And, again, change doesn’t work this way. Our goal is to work through a discovery phase with our clients to identify problem areas. What are they doing now that works? What are they doing that doesn’t work? Where are the opportunities to have the highest impact with the least amount of complexity? The solutions to these questions manifest themselves in a number of different ways and at the end of a discovery session we’re left with a long list of “actionable items”. We’re then left to choose which strategy or solution to pursue. Then we’ll have the conversation. “We can only commit to one,” we’ll say. And they always look at the list and say, “what about all of the others?” “The others represent opportunities to pursue after the implementation and successful execution of one idea. Once you’ve had success with one, you can use the experience as a rough blueprint to attack the others.” Our goal is not to take your company from level 1 to level 10, our goal is to slowly and successfully take you from level 1 to 2 to 3 and so on. We just need to go one level above where you are and what you’re currently doing.
Large scale change is appealing. In our minds, there is always one gigantic strategy out there that we think if we adopt will change our business and have us swimming in money in no time. The reality is that the most impactful changes you can make are on a much smaller scale and can be implemented by everyone in your organization. The tricky part is finding a simple solution, just one, and being disciplined in its pursuit. That’s right, the real secret behind these strategies is the dreaded “A” word, accountability. Finding the right strategy to focus on is a daunting task. After all, each business we work with is unique and requires high levels of understanding to customize specific strategies that will impact their bottom line. Some strategies, however, work for every business. If you’re looking to dip your toe in One Level Above strategies, we’ve got you covered.
A Simple Strategy
One of the best strategies you can implement is simple, costs almost nothing, can be adopted by everyone at every level of your organization, and has a massive impact on the relationships you develop with your clients. I’m talking about GRATITUDE. Pushing behavioral change towards graciousness seems obvious, yet day in and day out we deal with companies that don’t put it into practice. Nothing in business is guaranteed and you should be grateful for every opportunity that comes across your desk. There are any number of strategies you can try out to demonstrate your gratitude to your clients. It doesn’t matter if it’s a phone call, a face to face meeting, or a sale, you should have various ways you show that you’re thankful for your clients time and consideration.
At Creative Ventures, we have a few. We send various thank you gifts to people that work with us on projects that include food, swag, music, and experiences depending on what we learn about each contact. But getting to know each contact on a personal level to deliver a custom tailored thank you is time consuming, difficult, and doesn’t work for everyone. My favorite strategy and the one that works for everyone and every company is ridiculously simple, thank you cards. I’m not saying a thank you email, a thank you text, or a thank you phone call. What I’m referring to is the good old fashioned handwritten note.
Here’s why it’s great. Like me, you no doubt receive a dozen or so pieces of mail a day. Almost all of them have nice little plastic windows on them and no sense of personalization. But, when you go to your mailbox and find a letter that doesn’t fit the “you qualify for a new credit card,” mold your interest is peaked. You open it and find a thoughtful handwritten note saying thank you and nothing else. This means that whoever you spoke to took the time to get out a card, write a note, address it, put a stamp on it, and take it to the mailbox just to say thank you. They’ve given them a piece of their most valuable currency, their time.
All of a sudden you have an emotional connection to your client. You’re no longer a voice on the other end of the line or that guy that was pushing that new software. You’re a person who appreciates other people and follows through on each interaction. I have a stack of thank you cards right next to my phone. We send a few out every week without fail and the results we see are significant. Sometimes it’s a big result like a new deal, and sometimes nothing happens. (By the way, when nothing happens, it’s a good sign. It typically means that we may not be a good fit to work together.) But one thing that has been consistent since we implemented this strategy is that when we call, our clients and partners answer. This strategy took our business one level above where we were.
It wasn’t easy to create consistency in our approach to this strategy. It took a few months to make sure we had systems and relationships in place to make sure we didn’t let any opportunities to show gratitude fall through the cracks. But, once we demonstrated that it was a repeatable systemic process in our sales cycle, we were able to focus on another strategy. The trick is to always only focus on moving the needle one level at a time. If you follow this process, you won’t need to agonize about how to find the secret to transform your business tomorrow because you will have been operating in a constant state of improvement, which in and of itself, is transformational.