“Why should people work for you?” This is a real question I’ve started asking clients and prospects, especially in sales conversations. This question has become so pivotal in our relationships because it’s in the answers where we discover our clients’ real pain points and thus how we can help them.
That question can also be re-phrased as “Why should customers do business with you?”
Break it down even further and keep it simple: “Why?”
What is your company’s “why”, its purpose and mission?
Early on in my career and then in my business, I found this concept very nebulous. I was so busy IN the business– being tactical and “making things” happen that things like “mission statement” honestly didn’t make sense to me. Who has time for that and why does it matter?
It matters if you want generate sales and attract the right employees.
In our early years as a training company, we were eager to take on opportunities to provide customer service and sales training. We love it. It’s our sweet spot. Yet, training is cut from budgets, along with marketing, before any other line item. Decision makers struggle with the ROI sustainability and because they’re not tangible items (and seemingly not sustainable) it’s easier to justify the elimination of strategic planning and training services. This is short sighted.
Organizations are quick to say “We need to fix sales” or “We need to fix customer service and bad employee attitudes”. They then hire experts to fix the alleged problems when these “people problems” are really due to a lack of “why”, culture, purpose or mission. They expect the experts to guarantee that strategic planning and training will stick yet they’re not “able” to play their part in sustainability. And again because they’re not quite sure what the mission is. They don’t have a clear foundation or they’ve lost the vision of the bigger picture.
So when we ask the question “Why should people work for you?” and the client stares back speechless for long minutes before saying, “I’m not really sure”, we know what our challenges will be in solving the client’s problem. If you can’t articulate why people should work for your organization you do not have a sales problem or a customer service problem. You have a culture problem, which ultimately begins with leadership.
If you don’t know why (or have forgotten why) people should work for you, how can you expect those same people to sell to and service your customers? If you don’t know your “why”– neither do your employees, and ultimately nor do your customers.
And if you’re still in the school of thought that people work for you because they’re motivated by money, we probably need to have a conversation. No, we definitely need to have a conversation!
This simple question “Why should people work for you?” cuts to the core quickly. When I first started asking, it wasn’t the first question in the discovery process (it is now, though!). It came later in the process after hearing “We need some team building and fun. People seem unhappy.” Drilling down to the real core of the issue, we quickly learn that employees are typically unhappy because they don’t understand their purpose and they don’t feel appreciated for their contributions, especially those contributions that are creative, original and done without expectation.
If you haven’t noticed, I’ve repeated a few things …. Why, Purpose, Mission, Culture, “Why should people work for you?” I’m really trying to stress this concept! Dig deeper into what you THINK are your company’s problems.
So what can you do to build your foundation that attracts the right employees and customers?
- Revisit your company purpose
- How/why did the company get started. Hint: it wasn’t so that it could produce a product or service to make money.
- Create or re-write your mission statement
- What is the goal and who do you serve?
- Find your Unique Selling Proposition
- What makes you different from competitors and other companies?
- What’s in it for them (besides a paycheck)?
- Determine the long term vision and plan?
- Where is the company trying to go?
- Identify your ideal customer?
- Define your core values and their alignment with your employees and customers?
If you’re feeling stuck, it’s probably time to pivot!
– Gina Trimarco, Chief Results Officer