Turn passion into profit

Jun 01, 2007

People who are passionate about what they do often achieve more with less. They’re excited and enthusiastic about their product or service because they understand how it benefits the user, how it feels good, looks good, works better, makes you feel better, look better and gives you the answers or outcomes you’re seeking.

That enthusiasm is contagious and usually translates into better results with less effort. People who are passionate about their business attract clients because their passion shines through. When that passion is transferred to everyone in their team, those businesses do very well.

I encounter people who are passionate about what they do but are frustrated because they can’t persuade their team members to share their passion. Because those people are not especially happy about what they do but at the same time are not unhappy enough to do anything about it, they’re often impassive and lack drive. There’s no particular reason why people would choose to do business with them.

Most people, given a choice, would prefer to deal with people who are passionate and driven in what they do as opposed to those who are impassive or who merely go through the motions. After all, why should you become excited about something if the person you’re dealing with isn’t excited about it?

So how do you instil passion in a team? The answer is elusive to many people in business, yet it’s not a particularly difficult or mysterious process.

It starts with the realisation that your clients are the only basis on which you exist. They’re critical to your success. If they don’t see your product, service or business as offering them a worthwhile benefit, advantage or outcome, they would have no reason to do business with you and you wouldn’t have a basis for being in business.

Your main task in business is therefore to respect and connect with your clients and do whatever you can to enrich their lives or businesses.

It’s about doing something a lot more meaningful than impassively selling your products or services or cynically only doing it for the money. It is about recognising how your product, service, expertise or business gives your clients the outcomes they’re seeking.
That means observing, understanding and respecting their viewpoint and how they see life, then conceiving and making your business do what suits your clients’ interests as opposed to encouraging the clients to do what suits your interests.

That, in turn, means you have to be flexible, doing whatever it takes to respond to your clients’ wants and needs and routinely going the extra mile. Companies like Nordstrom in the United States and John Lewis in the UK are perfect examples of companies who do this very well. People trust them, prefer to do business with them and willingly pay more for their products or services because they’re dedicated to doing what’s right for their customers.

One of my clients manufactures furniture for John Lewis and related a story that illustrated why John Lewis is an amazing company.

A John Lewis buyer who had come to see my client about some beautiful wooden picture frames picked up one of the finished frames and found some wax on the back. When the frames were hand-waxed, some wax would find its way on to the protective cardboard covering the tables on which the operation was performed and, when the frame was moved, some wax would inevitably be transferred to the back of the frame.

The buyer asked if it was possible to avoid leaving wax on the back and relayed his story.
A woman had been into the Peter Jones store – part of the John Lewis group – in Sloane Square, London, and bought four of these pictures.

In putting them up at her home in Cadogan Square, some of the wax came off the back of the frame and on to the wall. She could not remove the wax with turps so she called the manager, who visited her at her apartment and agreed that Peter Jones would repaint the entire room for her.

But the woman didn’t like the smell of paint so the store put her and her family of five in a smart hotel in London for a week. The bill came to £4,500… and John Lewis didn’t ask for a penny. They did whatever it took to ensure their customer was happy. They took responsibility and didn’t shift it down the line as other more cynical retailers would.

Those values and that customer focus explains why John Lewis achieves customer loyalty that others can only dream of and it consistently translates into results that its competitors can’t match.

My client soon found a way to remove the wax from the back of the frames. They bought a grinding machine and, after the finishing process, each picture frame had to be ground on the back.

So if you want your clients to do business with you again and again, and constantly refer their friends, neighbours, colleagues and associates, you need to be clear on your higher purpose for being in business… which is NOT just chasing profits. Your business purpose should be to provide positive outcomes to your clients and enrich their lives or their business in as many ways as you can.

If you set out with that objective in mind, it’ll only be a matter of time before the word gets around… and success and profits will follow.

As soon as you start to understand and demonstrate by your actions that your purpose is to enrich your clients’ lives and businesses, everything will start to fall into place and you and your team can take real pride in the contribution you’re making.

Your clients will start to buy from you more often and to refer more people to you. Your team members will start to extend themselves at a level you may never before have thought possible. Your suppliers start to go the extra mile for you. Your community starts to notice you. Everyone you deal with starts to look at you differently… and you and everyone associated with your business can start enjoying the day-to-day process of being in business.

Approach your business that way and it’s hard not to become passionate about what you do. What naturally follows is that you become a dedicated innovator, continuously developing new and improved ways of adding value in order to give your clients increasing benefits or outcomes.

You instil passion in your team and your business by demonstrating your passion for your customers and doing what’s in their best interests. It should be at the heart of your business values.

Once you understand it, it’s very predictable. Once you personify it, your business will move into a new and exciting dimension.

For more information, visit www.dspconnect.com

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