How to Build Customer Connections Through Fun and Service

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.

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.

Business Coaching: Factors That Influence Customer Intimacy

A Customer Intimacy StrategyAlthough companies manage their businesses along three leading strategies, they usually select one primary strategy to drive revenue and gross margin: (1) operational excellence (low cost manufacturing), (2) technology leadership, and (3) customer intimacy.  Many businesses do not have the resources to build the operational scale to beat their competition on price and gain market share.  Others do not have the patent protection, know-how, or trade secrets to drive on a technology leadership strategy, nor the high product demand as Honda did in 1988 as advertised in its TV commercial: The car that sells itself.  In most cases, businesses choose customer intimacy as their primary strategy to sell their products and services.

Unfortunately, the barriers to entry are typically low in those industries where the majority of companies are driving on a customer intimacy model.  This model can also be the most challenging strategy to execute well, because it involves one person saying “yes” to another based on several factors: prior buying habits, approvals, service quality, ease of doing business, and the personal attributes of the salesperson.  The success of the customer intimacy strategy can be unpredictable, because it involves a buyer and a seller, who may have different worldviews, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors that work together to influence their relationship.  Salespeople, who are fully aware of how they “show up,” have a leg up over their competitors because of their ability to make better decisions in how to influence the sales relationship.

Companies that drive on technology and manufacturing differentiators readily invest in research and capital.  What do companies invest in that drive on the customer intimacy model? How often are they investing in the employees who are routinely interacting with customers?  In my experience, few companies are investing in their sales and customer service teams outside of the technical knowledge of the product portfolio.

Each sales person brings a unique worldview, skills, competencies, knowledge, attitude, and behaviors that work together to leave a strong customer impression.  A professional coach can partner with a sales person or team to do a deep dive into each of these areas that affect customer intimacy and build an effective platform and sales presence by which to cultivate and deepen customer relations.  Ask me how!


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in business development and leadership.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates specific workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help.