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Change isn't about you, it's about the customers

Rochester Business Journal
July 4, 2003
The economic weather report is cloudy. For some, gloomy.

Layoffs. Mergers. Reorganizations. Cutbacks. Cost cutting. Budget cutting. America's new corporate scourge. And new fear.

People are panicked when change occurs in their organization. Worried that they will lose their position, their authority, even their job.

And they talk and they talk, and they fret and they fret, and they complain and they complain, and they posture and they posture, and they cover their ass and they really cover their ass.

They want to protect their job, their career and their income; feed their kids; and pay their bills. It's instinctive. If it's happening to you (and odds are it is), you're doing many of these same things.

Here's the rub: In all this corporate scurry, you leave one thing unprotected and vulnerable: your customers.

What are you thinking? The one thing that might prove your salvation is the least-cared-about part of the change equation.

Think: If revenues are low, the only person who can raise them is your customer. If your sales are down, the only thing that can raise them is more customers. If your job is between you and someone just like you, they're going to pick the person who they feel can make the greatest contribution (acquire and hold onto customers).

Change in business isn't all about you, it's all about the customer.

OK, the economy could be better. What's your whiny point? Your company just merged. What's your whiny point? Your company just announced cost cutting. What's your whiny point?

Or better stated, what is your plan of action to become the best you can be, to preserve what you have and build your sales or your business rather than whine about it? And what is your plan to protect your customers?

When change of any kind occurs, the first thing you think about is, "How will this affect me?" and/or, "Is my job safe?"

Let me give you the real-world answer: If you're no good, you're in trouble.

And, Sparky, your customers are vulnerable-to your competition-because you're busy whining or covering your ass, or both.

Here's the first answer: Look at the situation as an opportunity rather than a danger or a threat. This will give you the success mindset.

Here are a few more answers that will help you beat the situation:

Guard your customers with your life. Eliminate your vulnerabilities. Create value for them. Make them feel like you're on their team, not just their supplier or vendor.

Get with the winners on your team. Meet weekly to create ideas that will help your company and your customer.

Talk to your customers about their issues. Find out how you can help them. Find out what their biggest needs are (they may be in trouble, too). Then take action.

Add service, don't cut it. Make your customer want to stay with you and keep doing business with you. Communicate more often. Provide more value. Add incentives. Create customer excitement. Renew customer commitments. The only way you will win is if you keep your present customers and add new ones. Cost cutting is acceptable. Service cutting is not (I hope someone forwards this message to all airlines).

Become known as the best. This is for you and your company. In troubled times, your reputation will carry you through or weigh you down. Your (ethical and moral) actions are in full view of everyone.

Rededicate yourself to being a "student." The best way to survive is keep studying. Keep learning. Keep trying to understand. Your understanding will lead to your decisions, and you will make better ones by studying than by watching TV reruns.

Now don't go sending me the doom and gloom stories about how you were a victim of a cutback or a layoff. The same word-opportunity-applies.

What are you doing when change occurs?

What are your opportunities to win?

What are you doing to take advantage of it?

Why are you not doing your best?

The object in the game of business is: No matter who drops you or from what position, land on your feet. Need an expert? Get a cat.

Change is in the air.

You can feel it like a crisp fall day.

You can almost smell it.

The question is: How will you react to that change?

The bigger question is: Do you understand that your customers are vulnerable and that change is opportunity?

The biggest question is: How will you take advantage of that opportunity?

GitBit: Want to have a few more insights on change? I have a list of 11 more ways to cope and conquer. Go to www.gitomer.com, register if you're a first-timer, and enter "change" in the GitBit box.

(Jeffrey Gitomer, author of "The Sales Bible" and "Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless" and president of Charlotte, N.C.-based BuyGitomer Inc., gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or his e-mail address, salesman@gitomer.com.)

07/04/03 (C) Rochester Business Journal


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