How to Build Customer Connections Through Fun and Service

Sandra Dillon: January 19, 2018


mission trip

In 2001 Convergint Technologies (www.convergint.com) was founded upon 10 driving values and beliefs. Last but not least was “We promote fun and laughter on a daily basis,” and they mean it by giving every employee a $100 and a paid day off each year to go have fun. Additionally, this company closes all of its branches across the globe on its founding birthday, so its employees can go out into their respective communities and serve others who are less fortunate. They also invite their vendors, customers, plus family members to come along and help. They have given paid time off for employee teams to serve in disaster relief efforts both in the United States and abroad. I share these stories not to pat Convergint on the back for doing good, but for stepping out in innovative ways that make great business sense while benefitting everyone involved. They truly have built customer and employee connections through fun and service. How well is your company strengthening these same connections?

The internet has thousands of articles that recommend how to strengthen customer relationships and build stronger teams. From my business and professional experience, the most powerful way to build connection is through shared activities that involve fun and service. Not only does the experience create an immediate connection but the ongoing memories solidify the bond. If you include spouses and other family members as part of the activity, don’t be surprised if you become part of the extended family, likely brought up in conversation around the dinner table.

If you think the concept has merit and you’re searching for ideas, below are a few you might consider:

  1. Serve at a local charity (food bank, boys & girls club)
  2. Take a class together (cooking, pottery, woodworking) with hands on participation
  3. Host a unique experience (skydiving) or competition (go-kart racing)
  4. Rent out an Improv studio and have teams compete (remember “Whose Line Is It Anyway?)
  5. Host a talent contest
  6. Have an employee cook-off (chili, soup, dessert, BBQ) and have vendors and customers be the blind judges
  7. Organize a field day or carnival with games and fun for the whole family

My personal favorite that builds a lifetime bond—organize and lead a mission trip of co-workers, customers, and vendors. Having taken teams to Honduras and El Salvador many times to drill a water well at a local school or rural community, I can honestly say that my business colleagues, turned mission mates, and I bonded at a level that words cannot adequately described. We worked alongside each other, got dirty and sweated together, shared rooms and meals, struggled with the local language, and had our hearts united with the locals. If you want to get sticky with your customers, take them on a mission trip.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

What Movie Best Describes Your Sales Team’s Performance?

Sales GraphBringing some humor to the topic, what movie best describes your sales team’s performance this past year? Does He’s Just Not That Into You characterize your primary customer relationships–those who buy from you until a better offer comes along? What about the movie Titanic? You’ve invested heavily in sales salaries, training, and tools. The sales ship has sailed, and revenue seems to have hit an iceberg and is sinking against expectations. Or is your team acting out one of the Rocky movies? With seven title releases, you may be asking, “Which one?” Is your sales team the underdog who diligently works the plan to become your customers’ major supplier, or the team who was once a sales champion and now finds itself working to reclaim that title?

Every sales team is filming its own movie. Whether the sales team will make an awarding winning film will be heavily influenced by several factors:

  • acting skill [sales people skills, experience, and competencies]
  • quality of the script [sales strategy and execution plan]
  • script appeal [quality of products and service]
  • passion of the actors [emotional engagement of the sales team]
  • director’s skill [sales leadership ability]

If all five elements of the movie are strong, you’re likely to produce a film that will draw a large audience [customers]. With the kick-off of a new year, I would encourage businesses/sales organizations to rate themselves on the above five factors using a scale of 1-10? Which area is weakest and how could you move that rating higher? What movie would you hope to have your sales organization reflect?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Sales Leadership: Are You Measuring the Right Things?

Customer ExperienceMany companies define sales success based on meeting targets of revenue, gross margin, and market share to name a few. Many times, these metrics are referred to as the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which define how well a company is implementing strategy. What some companies fail to realize is revenue, gross margin, and market share are not in themselves KPIs but instead the result of executing on well-defined and meaningful KPIs. As the acronym implies, “indicators” are the things if executed well that will result in performance.

In some sales organizations that are trying to develop more predictive KPIs, I’ve come across these more common ones:

  1. Number of sales calls within a defined period
  2. Number of new prospect sales calls
  3. Number of sales connections made with a customer’s organization
  4. Number of technical demos or hosted seminars/workshops
  5. Number of tradeshows attended

What these KPIs measure is solely activity and not the engagement level or experience of the customer. Even a highly technical sale has relational and trust components embedded in the sales decision. Successful sales organizations of the future will appreciate how they must more heavily weight their behaviors towards creating a “best practices” customer experience.

Over the past decade you can see the evolution in advertising toward a more engaging customer experience. No longer are companies advertising about a product’s features and strengths, they are showcasing the experience you can have while using it. Coke commercials don’t focus on the beverage’s taste or use words. Instead, Coca-Cola advertisements are visually designed to engage you emotionally by showing you the experience you too can have while drinking a Coke. The real-time customer experience in product marketing also plays out at the higher-end outdoor clothing retailers. These stores are installing freezers, so customers can experience just how warm that winter coat can keep them before deciding to purchase.

What experiences do your customers have when dealing with your sales organization? How are you measuring the customer experience? More meaningful sales KPIs that focus on understanding and building the customer experience may include:

  1. Time to respond to customers after they make contact (responsiveness)
  2. Number of the “right” follow-ups to secure a new customer (persistence)
  3. Number of joint calls so the customer has multiple points of contact within your company (collaboration)
  4. Number of business reviews to discuss performance (customer feedback)
  5. Number of exploratory or “design the alliance” meetings with customers (partnership)
  6. Strategic use of media platforms (LinkedIn and Facebook) to integrate and involve customers with the company and its sales team (engagement)

No one KPI is the silver bullet but tracking and rewarding the right collection of KPIs that are predictive of sales success will help ensure the team meets its goals. If you’d like help in designing measurable KPIs or developing specific actions that drive the customer experience, let’s have a conversation on how we can work together.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.