Richard Branson is one of the most successful modern entrepreneurs, and he has spoken at length about his drive for innovation and purpose. He says, “You need to make dedication to service part of the corporate culture. A good first step would be to encourage everyone on your staff to take an active role in coming up with new ideas and solutions to improve your products and services. Ask your people to experiment and to offer suggestions, and make sure that they are able to do this without worrying about speaking out of turn or being embarrassed in front of their peers—they should be confident that managers will listen to what they have to say.”
Matt Halpen, Founder, The Fruit Box: Love your customers
Martin Halpen came up with an idea to deliver fruit to Melbourne offices in 2001, and since then, his company The Fruit Box has grown to a successful business that delivers over 600,000 pieces of fruit per week to workplaces around Australia.
Halpen offers this crucial advice: “Love your customer. People look at their customers as a challenge and sometimes adopt an “us against them” mentality, but I think the relationship between business and its customers is like a marriage. You can decide to either be in a marriage of convenience or in a marriage of love, so you absolutely need to find a way to love your customer, and you’ll find that positive business outcomes follow as a result of that.”
Gail Kelly, former Westpac CEO: Know your vision
Gail Kelly became the first female CEO of a major Australian bank in 2002, and just before her retirement in 2015, she said of her Westpac staff, “This is a wonderful organisation made up of people who deeply care about the customers that they serve and deeply care about the communities in which they operate.” She added, “It is important to be able to communicate in a crystal clear way the vision and purpose of the organisation… At Westpac, our vision is to be one of the most respected companies in the world: helping our people, our customers, our communities to prosper and grow. The communication of this is key. I talk about it everywhere and expect our team members to know and understand our vision and strategy.”
Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer, HubSpot: Become the doctor!
Mark Roberge advises HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. He has this unique take on the relationship between your team and the customer:
“You know you are running a modern sales team when selling feels more like the relationship between a doctor and a patient and less like a relationship between a salesperson and a prospect. When you go in to see your doctor and she asks you about your symptoms, you tell her the truth. You trust that she can diagnose your problem and prescribe the right medication. When she says, “This is what you have. Take these pills,” you don’t say, “Let me think about it” or “Can I get 20 percent off?” You take the medication. It’s no longer about interrupting, pitching and closing. It is about listening, diagnosing and prescribing.”
Stuart Marburg, CEO, MessageMedia: Pretend you are the customer
MessageMedia is an Australian award-winning business SMS provider that has over 15,300 customers globally, and sends more than 40 million messages a month in Australia.
The company’s CEO Stuart Marburg says, “When developing a product, deciding on a policy or making a decision I always ask my team – pretend you are our customer – and ask questions like: Would the customer understand what we are trying to communicate, will “John” product manager at ANZ understand what our change means to them; how will this update provide a better experience for one of our doctors patients, or to a banking customer?
Have we communicated it clearly; is what we are developing actually valued by our customers?”