Storytelling [… Editing and Ghostwriting]

Listening to a radio interview of a celebrity promoting his new book, I recalled the efforts that I and other colleagues had in 2015 when we collaboratively wrote “How to Hire the Right Consultant.” Excluding years of writing blog posts, that book was my first effort to publish and reach a broader audience. Although my contribution was only a single chapter on Customer Development, I learned about editing and publishing.

Reflecting on that publishing effort, it occurred to me that the process of writing and editing a book parallels GAPWORX work processes as we deliver services to our clients. While the specifics of a project’s scope of work vary with each client, in many ways what we do is … help clients to tell their stories in a more compelling way.

As all businesses engage and promote their business in the marketplace, they are … storytelling. Some are service companies. Others manufacturer products. All are unique. They come in all sizes, and either enjoy some measure of financial success, or eventually close their doors. In every instance, and ideally with every prospect and customer interaction, they strive to listen, to build rapport and trust, to persuade as to their value proposition, and hopefully either create a new customer or secure additional business. Basically, storytelling is about SELLING and SERVING.

In every business, these storytelling activities—through the roles and responsibilities of all employees—are performed at varying degrees of effectiveness. When specific financial measures are falling short of expectations, and the resources inside of a business are stretched too thin or are lacking in some capacity to affect the change, most businesses reach out to trusted advisors to supplement their ability to resolve the challenges.

As external advisors engage to solve problems, we liken that to the publishing equivalent of editing. At GAPWORX, as our services are customized to address client needs, we collaborate and train to improve company processes and behaviors. Our project activities are, in effect, an editing of the story each company tells. As we work behind the scenes, our editing is ghostwriting.

Regardless of how one labels the activities, a new and improved story is created by changing some mix of processes, behaviors, and capabilities … to improve the individual and collective attainment of company goals and objectives.

Belief and Trust

Belief and trust are not the same. Sometimes they interact, sometimes they conflict. Once upon a time people believed in fire breathing dragons, but science has never documented their existence. Beliefs change over time, especially with experience and knowledge. In those days of dragons, Kings and Queens ruled the land … but in modern times people believe more in self-rule.

Trust – is a simple word that can be much more than belief. Trust sometimes occurs without empirical or scientific evidence – what we call proof. We understand it as it relates to our personal relationships. Trust is vital with families and friends, because we believe they will not harm us.

In some instances, “doing no harm” grows to putting other’s interests ahead of our interests, such as the relationship between parents and their children.

In business, what defines trust and why is it important?

We believe that trust in the workplace is not automatic – it must be earned. For employees, trusting an employer is the result of not only personal experiences with the owners and executive team, but includes the collective perceptions of fellow employees. It extends to observing how the company treats vendors, customers, and others in the marketplace.

Because of widespread social media, negative perceptions of company actions can adversely affect an employee’s mindset, and consequently their productivity. Business research proves that highly motivated employees – those who believe in the company’s Mission, Vision, Purpose, and Values – become far more productive employees.

Many articles and blogs describe toxic managers, employee disengagement, and dysfunctional company cultures. This is the evidence of beliefs ruined, and trust removed. These realities cause financial losses for the company.

Loss of internal trust … extends to perceptions of mistrust outside the company – with vendors, prospects, and even clients who begin to consider other options.

Workplace trust is intensely personal and collective. It is the relationship between employees, and the company they represent. It is the relationship between a manager and a team member. It is the relationship among a company’s sales and service representatives, prospects, and existing customers. Every one of those relationships is strengthened and maintained with TRUST.

For any business to succeed, it is not just in what all players can BELIEVE, it is in what they can TRUST.

 

Prospects and Persuasion

Every business starts with a belief that they have a product or service that others need and will buy. The business usually starts slowly, as time, energy, research, and an untold number of conversations with friends, colleagues, external advisors, and potential customers begins to congeal into a Vision, Mission, and Purpose.

Assuming the business has achieved a reasonable measure of market traction, and as the business pushes through its initial months and years, the structure, strategies, and tactics of the business solidifies. Processes and practices are formed, refined, integrated, and executed by employees, each with specific roles and responsibilities to create and retain customers. We call it Customer Building.

But, it’s not just about creating customers. Ultimately, it is about thrilling your customers to promote retention and long-term advocacy. To create, thrill, and retain customers is, truly, a never-ending set of activities.

What is included in the process of customer creation? It must involve:

  1. Understanding the opportunity and the prospect’s business needs and concerns,
  2. Creating trust in you and your company,
  3. Solving prospect problems aligned to your company’s offering,
  4. Effectively communicating how your company can and will accomplish the objectives, and
  5. Building an ongoing relationship.

Some would describe the above process as selling … the requisite steps in closing a sale.

In certain business settings and industries, these individuals would be titled as Sales Representatives, Sales Managers, Vice President of Sales, and similar titles. These companies are business-to-business oriented, and are in industries that are more typically product-driven and transactional.

Other businesses would prefer to describe the same process as customer or business development, and have the same objective – closing a sale.  These individuals frequently have titles that either say Business Development or Customer Development, or offer no indication that a core role and responsibility includes “selling” – regardless of the label assigned to it. These companies are also business-to-business oriented, but are in industries that are services-driven and far less transactional.

Many companies that emphasize “customer development” are lawyers, accountants, bankers, wealth advisors, consultants, architects, and engineers – and in other professions that have a longer vision of customer creation. Many of these individuals are owners, principals, and associates in their companies, or hold CEO, President, General Manager, and other titles that signify leadership rather than selling responsibilities.

Regardless of the title or label, the “selling” process is the same. Only the language is different.

You are persuading a prospect to become a client.