If you ask anyone I work with, they’ll confirm, I’m a big Simon Sinek fan. If you’ve never seen his TED Talk “Start with Why” or read his book by the same title, I highly recommend them. The premise is that people do not buy what you do, but rather, why you do it. His favorite example is Apple. Their products aren’t necessarily better than all the competitors, nor do they have smarter more talented people making them. But people identify with their image of challenging the status quo.
What makes an idea stick for me is when I can personally identify with it. I couldn’t help but remember my college roommates who were computer science majors and had Apple computers strewn throughout our townhouse. It was a badge of honor for them and no one was going to tell them otherwise. They were cutting edge computer experts, who challenged the norm.
The message from Simon Sinek was so compelling that I decided to take a hard look at my business presentations. It should come as no surprise that I was doing what everyone else is doing…selling the products features and benefits and NOT why we offer the product. When I really looked at it, the ‘why’ is often why utilities sign up with us, and there is no shortage of material that supports our ‘why’.
Helping low income residents afford expensive home repairs is at the center of what we do on a daily basis, and in many cases we go beyond what is required to perform work for residents who can’t afford a policy. As luck would have it, I had the perfect opportunity to test out this approach with a presentation to a City Board of Directors. So I threw away my stock presentation and started from scratch. Going through the cases where we helped residents in this particular community was eye opening. In one case we even paid to have a customer’s prize winning flowers re-planted following a repair in her yard.
I took the best examples I could find to represent WHY we offer home protection products to their residents and WHY the City chooses to partner with our company. I would say that 85% of the material focused on our ‘why’ and the other 15% on the benefits to the City. I had presented to this board many times, but this time the reactions from the audience, and the overall feel in the room, was much different than ever before. I didn’t receive the same pointed questions as when I was just reviewing performance and asking for more from the City. Instead, they understood that the products and services I was pitching were in the best interests of their residents and themselves, and that my company was offering them for the right reasons.
Not to overstate the point, but this change was revolutionary in how I present material and how I view the business during internal meetings. Yes, it required a reworking of established materials, but it was worth it.
If you made it this far, you know I participate in all things Account Management. From working with accounts, to team members, to every group in the company – my experiences are different every day – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So that’s what you’ll find here – a diverse group of thoughts, experiences, and things I’m working to implement in my own organization.
I hope you find some of this helpful, if not entertaining. Feel free to drop me a note to share your thoughts.
MY RIDE ALONG
START WITH WHY?
It is always a good idea to see your products and services in action when you start with a
a new company. It is just as important to stay up to date on the latest developments,
especially when you’ve been with a company for a long time.
When I started with HomeServe I was excited to go out with our techs on service jobs, and I did. Seeing things in action and hearing directly from customers was invaluable. But the rigors of everyday work soon took over and years went by without joining our service technicians on the road. Part of my job is to assess escalated customer situations to ensure we’re doing the right thing for the customer. As issues crossed my desk, I realized I had too much distance from the business and what is actually happening on-site. So I called up our local service managers and asked if I could join one of our techs on the road. They were more than happy to oblige and I found myself on the road just a few days later.
Things sure had changed since I had last been out interacting directly with customers. For one thing, our technology had gotten A LOT better. The tech could communicate the status of a job in real-time and get an Uber-like rating on our app right after the job. And the customers had changed as well. They now expected to be able to communicate via apps, see who they should expect to ring their doorbell and track everything on-line. I’ve been discussing all of these enhancements with our partners, but to see them in action is a whole different story.
Once particular customer named Rose, had a problem with her water line that was leading to high water bills. She communicated all the benefits of having a service plan better than I ever could. Just one phone call, not having to find her own plumber and having a reputable company standing behind the work. I wanted to hire her on the spot, but she was enjoying her retirement way too much.
So I’ve made a commitment to get out on the road to see our techs in action, and meet customers directly, every quarter. This will be a nice compliment to my monthly travel to B2B partners and who knows, I may even find another team member to hire?