Focus on the Customer!

Customers purchasing from you should not signal the end of the relationship.  Too often  it seems that consumers fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” category after they buy something.  In reality, that’s when companies should work the hardest at strengthening relationships with their communities.  According to a new survey conducted by Dimensional Research, an overwhelming 90 percent of respondents who read positive online reviews said they influenced the buying decision, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews.

Your customers don’t stop being important once they’ve bought from you.  Once they move through your sales funnel – if you’ve been able to keep them happy during the process – they will reenter the mix and join those other voices.  If they feel like you have slighted them in any way, the long-term negative impact to your brand could be significant.

The experience must be good or else.  It’s a buyer’s world, and you must assume that your community of clients and prospects have robust networks of their own.  So, a new level of sincerity and excellence must permeate every facet of your organization.  You may revel in gathering a few dollars in the short term, but long-term sustainability is not built on taking the pulse of a market, but by being part of that pulse.

In today’s world, you need to drop your tunnel vision on short-term profit and relentlessly focus on being excellent for everyone, regardless of where they are in the sales funnel.  Buy or “goodbye” is no longer effective in a world where purchase decisions are made before human contact takes place.

We address our efforts to continually support the market in the next issue of Connect Magazine.  The cover story “Never Grow Up” is a fun piece that reveals why companies can never get too set in their ways.  Change and the shortness of lifecycle curves demand that we never let our organization, products or services get tired and stale.  If you don’t already subscribe, call us and we’ll get an issue to you.

Focus on customers!  Look at every stage of their interaction with your company from their perspective.  As yourself what it’s like to be them at any specific moment.   Then, design your answers and programs to turn them into raving fans.

Keep everything in sight.  Good luck and good selling.

Thanks For Everything!

I love this time of year!  Somehow, the holidays help me regain my focus.  I always begin the New Year charged up and committed to a better me.  At times like these I reflect on how lucky I am and how the world is full of blessings and heroes.  I met one recently.  Allow me to explain.

It was a Saturday and I had made a trip to the post office.  When I got there, the place was in a total stir.  They had closed early leaving the customers to weigh their own packages and to buy stamps from the vending machines.  Because this was new to most of us, things were moving slowly.  Lines were long and tempers were short.  No one was in a good mood.

As I stamped my letters, an old man walked through the door.  He looked to be in his mid 80’s.  He was bent at the waist and could barely walk.  It took him forever to cross the floor and arrive at the postage scales.  It was painful to watch him move.

I must confess that I tried to finish before his presence could inconvenience me.  I don’t know why I was in such a hurry.  I just didn’t want to wait.  I didn’t want this guy to interfere with my ability to get to my next trivial task.

Out of the corner of my eye, I watched him struggle with the scales.  He had a large magnifying glass and he was trying to read the display.  People waiting behind him were losing their patience.  Like me, they were all resenting him holding them up.  None of us seemed willing to share the post office with this guy…this veteran.

For some reason I spoke to him.  I asked if I could help him with what he was doing.  He said that I could.  A thirty something woman behind him exhaled in disgust and left the post office in a huff.  Obviously, she had very important matters waiting elsewhere.  This guy was really causing a problem.

“What are we trying to do?” I asked.  “I’m trying to mail this book to a friend in Texas,” he explained.  “I have arthritis and Parkinson’s disease, so I can’t do much,” he added.  “I can’t read the scales either.”

I asked if I could help him address the package.  He said yes and explained that it was a book on B-24 bombers.  He was mailing it to a friend in Texas.  The two of them flew together in World War II.  They had not seen each other in 44 years.

He told me how his granddaughter found this guy’s address on the Internet.  “She’s real smart,” he said.  “She knows how to find the address of anybody in the whole country just by typing their name,” he added.  “Then she went on the Internet and ordered this book.  We got it in the mail the very next day.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?” he asked.

As I purchased the necessary postage and stamped his package he told me what a thrill it was to find his old friend.  They had been talking on the phone and he had decided to send him this book.  His face lit up like the sun as he talked about their phone conversations and the missions they flew during the war.  He really loves and misses his friend.

By the time we finished, the post office was empty.  He turned to say thanks and offered to give me his left over stamps.  I refused and told him that I should be thanking him.  There was no way to repay the debt that we all owe him and his fellow veterans.

As he left, he turned, snapped to attention and saluted.  It was all I could do to choke back the lump in my throat.  This man was proud of his service to us.  He took it seriously.  We should too.

So…it’s the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  What are you thankful for?  I’m thankful for many things.  One is my mother who cried every time the flag passed in a parade.  Her blood ran red, white and blue.  She taught all of her children pride in family and country.  I appreciate that.

I’m also thankful for our servicemen.  I include those serving today and all that have put it on the line for us in the past.  I’m also thankful for the old soldier that “couldn’t do much.”  Thanks for the gift you gave us all before I was even born.  Thanks also for the gift of your need when I was nearby.  I’m glad I was the one to receive it.

What does all of this have to do with printing and publishing?  Absolutely nothing, unless you consider our right to do it.  Nothing unless you include the fact that we’re free to write what we think even if it is against policy.  You’ll have to answer that question for yourself.


It’s about the customer…not you!

Well…I’m hopping mad! I’ve tried to do something nice for my son and it has caused turmoil in my house.  Every time I try to be “unselfish” it backfires.  Things go much better when I’m dominating, self serving and inflexible.  I should learn that lesson and stick to being the jerk people love to gossip about.

Here’s what happened. I bought my son a puppy.  He pleaded and begged for weeks.  He worked his mother over and managed to introduce his case into every conversation.  Mealtime never passed without an “I’ll take care of it” or “My friends all have one” speech.  Finally, his mother agreed with him.  I was toast from that moment on.

So…I bought a puppy from a coworker. I’ll write a different story about that another time.  I want to focus this article on the fence.  Trying to buy one has been an education each of us can benefit from.

Our subdivision has restrictions. There are specific types of fences and specific companies you’re allowed to select.  This is designed to maintain the order of our property and the look we all supposedly like.  It’s fine with me.  It prevented me from interviewing dozens of fence people.  I called the first three companies on the list.

Now the quoting process is disruptive of your schedule. You have to meet the sales person at the property and show them what you want.  During the process you’re going to be up-sold, persuaded, manipulated and led.  It is amazing how complicated these fences can be.  When the other firms arrive they are going to tell you something totally different.  The whole process is less about the price and more about making you trust one company more than the other.

After three interrupted days of fence talk I selected the company I wanted. The proposals were similar in price so I was able to make a choice based on confidence.  I wrote a check and agreed on a schedule.  My fence would be installed in 7 days and my house could return to order.  Everyone was happy.  My wife loved me again and my son pledged a new commitment to raising the dog.  Even the puppy seemed to know what was going on.

Then…the fun started. I received a “let me tell you what’s going on” call.  You’ve had these.  They start with the tone that lets you know the salesperson considers you best friends.  It moves quickly into some sort of problem they know you’ll understand because of your intimate relationship of 36 hours.

The sales person was having problems with our order. It seemed that the steel pickets I wanted were not in stock.  A warehouse employee had miscounted and the internal documents the installers and sales people see were incorrect.  He could fill the order with an aluminum product at no extra cost.  It would change the design slightly but the basic integrity of our project would be maintained.

I agreed to the aluminum. I felt it should be less money but I didn’t argue.  He hung up the phone and called his office to schedule the installation.

The next day I received another call. This one addressed the “special skills” required to install an aluminum fence.  The crew we needed would not be available for 3-4 weeks.  He apologized for this delay but claimed it was beyond his control.

I didn’t cave in so easily on this one. The puppy was driving my wife crazy, which was causing things to go bad for me.  You don’t win arguments with angry wives.  You do whatever you can to make things better.  I called the fence guy and begged.  He took pity on me, claimed he called the district manager to plead my case and agreed to a 2 week delivery.

Two days later I received what turned out to be the final call. They didn’t have 4ft aluminum.  Would I accept 5ft?  They would be able to make my delivery and it wouldn’t cost extra.  The only problem is that it would be taller than the neighbor’s fence I’m tying into.

I snapped. He had changed my order from steel to aluminum, asked for 2 additional weeks to do the work and changed the size.   I fired the fence man.  I had to laugh when he seemed surprised.  I called a second company and placed the order and was promised a 1week delivery of my 4ft, steel fence…exactly what I wanted.

Later his general manager called. “I understand Dan has done a poor job for you” he said.  “I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to remedy the situation.”  “Good customers like you are hard to find and we don’t want a weak salesperson causing you trouble and costing us business,” he finished.

Now this guy was slick. I could see his tan, silk shirt and Rolex watch over the phone.  He was surprised at my response, however.  I explained that the salesperson had handled the situation fine.  It seemed to me that the company was not supporting him.  They didn’t seem prepared to get the necessary materials delivered and had trouble with their internal systems.  “No salesperson can perform if the facts change by the hour,” I told him.  I explained that my company would fold if it behaved like they had.

Now we would never do this would we? I certainly told the fence guy that we wouldn’t.  But…is that true?  We can all understand how ridiculous their service was.  Now, let’s insert our own answers or names into the following situations.

  1. I know I told you your proof would be ready this morning but…
  2. My plant manager wanted me to call you and see if I could get more time.
  3. We came up short on this job. May we deliver it short?
  4. I can’t get the stock you want would you accept brand X?
  5. Can you give me more time so I can schedule the press check during the day? That is when our best pressman works.
  6. Can I get another day on the estimate? The boss is out and I don’t do this type of job.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I realize that stuff happens.  Any salesperson worth a toot needs to be able to navigate through an occasional bump in the road.  Printing isn’t an exact science.  We have to be able to work with and manage the variables.

However, when excuses and special requests of the customer become the norm, we aren’t managing our processes. When we find it easier to impose on our clients than ourselves, we’ve lost our focus.  We exist to do their work.  They have hundreds of choices that don’t have to include us.

Now this IS about selling. It just suggests that it is the responsibility of every employee.  Everyone that draws a check should keep his eye on where it comes from.  The customer is this divine source

We all, easily, see how a salesperson benefits. They receive commissions.  But so does every employee.  Everyone’s check is a small part of the invoice paid on every job we were asked to produce.  The estimate calculated or the ticket we wrote or the proof we corrected and reran resulted in a customer getting out their checkbook.  They pay because they get what they want when they want it. It’s about the customer…not you!

I’ll let you know how the fence goes. It is due to be installed next week.  I’m counting on happier times and a wife that finds her smile again

Growth is Exciting – There are Endless Possibilities!

It might seem odd to talk about equipment additions in a blog…but we’re excited.  Bennett Graphics has added a new workflow line that will allow us to add flexible packaging, labels and shrink sleeves to our products.  It’s a huge addition, directly driven by customer requests.

In a few days, Bennett Graphics will take delivery of a HP Indigo WS6800.  There will also be finishing and rewinding equipment (AB Graphics Digicon 3) and shrink sleeve equipment.  Space is being built out for the new addition now.

This is exciting stuff with tons of marketing potential.  Everyone has seen the personalized Coke bottles and decorated Bud Light cans.  Today, we’re limited by our imagination only…not by possibilities.

Come see us!  Visit Bennett Graphics.  Examine the new gadgets an imagine the possibilities…the Endless Possibilities. We can’t wait to see what you invent!

Bathwater? Buyer Friendly VS. Seller Friendly

The idea that a given market is considered “buyer friendly” versus “seller friendly” is prevalent these days.  If a market is saturated with supply, it is believed that buyers have all the leverage.  In turn, many businesses invite competition, and then feel pressure to lower prices.

Certainly it’s easy to color a market toward the buyer, but that mindset is not healthy for the business overall.  Data may tell us that pricing is low and the number of substitute products and services is high, but giving way to those variables distracts us from connecting with clients on a differentiated level.

Our contention is that if we simply defer to the metrics of a business environment we are not creating value.  More specifically, value is created through a deep level of understanding of a community and by entrenching yourself and your company within it.

We are not saying that you throw the baby out with the bathwater and disregard the pricing within a market.  We believe that over the long term, sustainability is rooted in your brand’s relationship to your clients.  Just because you may have to sell certain products at lower levels, doesn’t mean you toss aside the opportunities that may not be explicitly clear right now.

When you have a deeper relationship with your clients, you become a trusted voice in their world.  The sale of a lower priced product without a focus on building trust defines your brand at a level that can prove to be unrecoverable.  Consequently, the sale of a lower priced product, coupled with trust, sets you up for an impactful future.

Some of you subscribe to our publication, “Connect Magazine.” This month’s cover story, “Back in the Saddle,” examines why it is important to embrace the lessons learned from the missteps that happen along the way and what future disciplines they can help you make.

Our second feature, “Impact,” takes a hard look at the art of going deeper than data and exploring the benefits of more intimate engagement with your market.

We hope that the lessons we’ve learned, shared and will continue to share can help you strengthen the relationships and commitments you are building with your customers.

Excuses are just Excuses; Go Sell Something.

Fifteen years ago I attended a special service at church. There was to be a guest speaker on Sunday night. The sanctuary was packed and I ended up sitting on the front row. It was a blessing.

A man named David Black walked to the podium and introduced himself. He was born without arms. He shrugged off his jacket and somehow draped it across the back of his chair. He did it so fast I can’t tell you how he managed.

Next, he sat down, slipped off his shoe, picked up a pitcher of water with his foot, poured a glass, sat the pitcher down and took a drink. He slipped his shoe back on and stood up. He walked to the microphone and said, “Tonight I want to talk to you about focusing on what you have instead of what you don’t have.”

I was totally dumbfounded. For the next ninety minutes he talked about working, driving a car, using telephones and computers. He explained that he is married and has children. He’s a successful businessman and public speaker. The time passed at light speed. When his time was up it seemed too soon. The entire audience was mesmerized.

Another inspiring character was my very good friend Jim Pipkin. Jim is gone now. He died several years ago in the west. He was traveling in his RV seeing America. He had already seen the seven seas.

Jim was the victim of a boating accident. He broke his back and did irreparable damage to his sensory nerves. His motor nerves worked fine. He just couldn’t feel things he needed to feel.

Let me describe how this influenced his daily behavior. Jim could barely feel his feet and hands. He described it as the way we all feel when our foot or hand falls asleep. The tingling and numbness were with him 100% of the time. There was no relief…ever.

I watched Jim burn his feet while walking barefoot on hot pavement. I watched him tear up things he was trying to handle because he couldn’t tell how hard he was squeezing or pressing. It caused him to limit his driving to short trips and reduced his work day to less than three hours. Everything that depended on delicate touch and agility was impacted.

Now…Jim was a printing salesman. He was also a boat captain. He taught me how to repair my boat and drive it. That was no small task. It was big (60 feet) and very heavy (54,000 pounds). That’s a lot of weight with no brakes. It takes a sense of touch…a sense Jim no longer had.

I mentioned that Jim sold printing. He sold a lot of printing. He sold enough to earn six figures. He did it in three hours a day. He managed to grow when he couldn’t go.

His accident was just that. He didn’t let it own any more of him than it deserved to own. He just couldn’t and wouldn’t make that excuse or waste that time. He insisted on being happy, funny, productive and…on the water.

I remember having to repair my marine toilet. They’re complicated devices and not everything you encounter is…glamorous. I made every excuse in the world for putting it off.

Jim cornered me and said, “Billy…how long have you been this way?” He made me stop and address the repair. He sat with me and watched every step. He told me what to expect and what each turn of a blade should feel like. I was the hands and he was the brains. He taught me to do something he couldn’t do himself. In the process he inspired me. I miss him every day.

These two guys had it right and had something in common. Neither allowed their circumstances to win. They refused to let their disabilities define who they were. They refused to make excuses for being mediocre. Because they refused…a new standard was set and obtained. They dictate the rules. They control the results.

Now what does this have to do with us? What is my point this time? Why am I parading two people you don’t know in front of you now?

Because I want our industry to make a difference. I want each of us to see limits as exactly what they are…excuses…lies we tell ourselves to allow the comfort of being mediocre to continue. I want us to resolve to change that…today.

I wonder what David Black would say about a “price problem.” I’ll bet he would kick off his shoe, dial the phone and talk to the client about what it would really take to win the business. I’m guessing he would share the answers with management and insist that we step up and earn the work.

I wonder what Jim would say about any employee’s comment that “I don’t have time to manage my work.” I’m fairly certain he would address them the way he addressed me about the toilet. I think he would find it interesting that the tools and technology available today don’t empower us to do more than ever before. I don’t believe he would be sympathetic to excuse makers.  I’m confident he would borrow a phrase from Nike and say “Just do it!”

That’s what we should do. Just do it. Make a difference. Commit yourself to asking more of yourself. Throw out the rule book and write your own. When needs change…throw that one out too.

I’m getting out of the excuse business. I’ll mange my weight by pushing back from the table and my sales by dialing the phone. My work will be as promised because I’ll make it be. These things are under my control…as they are for you. Excuses are just excuses. They’re nonsense.

Jim would let me have it. He would say, “Billy…how long have you been this way.” My answer would be lame so I’ll keep it to myself. I pledge to simply get busy and do it! Join me please! You’ll like what happens.

The “Slow Fix”

Everyone wants a quick fix in business these days.  We need leads right away.  We want sales results now.  We need to have a positive ROI on specific marketing activities.  If the quick fix doesn’t happen, heads will roll.  Budget will be cut.  In general, it seems like we can tolerate a little pain, but not for very long.

There really is no standard recipe for how companies can win now.  If we had the answer or proverbial “quick fix,” it wouldn’t be a secret for very long.  The facts are that iconic brands stand the test of time.  They endure because they’re willing to put forth the effort to build a relationship with their community, even if it doesn’t pay off in the short term.

Great relationships are born out of trust.  They are built to endure the toughest challenges.  They can take the pain in the short term in order to realize long-term prosperity.

The most compelling marketers are not looking for quick fixes.  They are working feverishly to be a part of people’s lives.  They realize that we have an irreducible need to belong.  In turn, being present within their target community increases the chance their brand will be loved.

So, with a nod to the quick fix gurus out there, we suggest the “slow fix.”  This is the kind of fix where collecting and acting on client feedback is sincere.  The kind of fix where we cultivate flexibility and adaptability.  The fix where we create a culture of innovation.  The fix where we identify and correct internal barriers to our profitable growth.

Slow and steady does the trick…better!

Climate Change

While many have said that the recession is over, that doesn’t mean that the recovery will be spectacular. In fact, there will be nothing fair about the recovery ahead. To the contrary, it will heartlessly divide those who are prepared for a transformed world and those who are not.

While each of us is worried about a host of things, the biggest concerns are normally centered on our ability to increase sales. We wonder where our next sale will come from and whether or not we will have anything of value in the future.

The gist is that our economy gained strength in 2014 regardless of the economic roller coaster we have seen in recent days. But even among the greatest marketers, there is widespread unease that margins are wafer-thin. If we take our eye off that key account, even for a moment, it might be gone. Get a little careless with costs and profitability could take a hit. Think for a minute that you have it all figured out and you may quickly learn otherwise.

In Epicomm’s recent “Printing Business Conditions” survey, marketing services executives say the future of print will be targeted. In other words, they believe that customized content delivers unique value and allows you to connect more deeply with your clients. And the more you connect with them, the more resistance there is to drop you as a provider.

So while the economic climate is in a constant state of change, great marketers understand they must stay remarkably in tune with their communities. They realize that if the rate of change on the outside is greater than the rate of change on the inside, they are in trouble.

As we continue to preach about going deeper with our clients we need to give thought to how we stand out as a brand. We also have to protect our brand and its reputation.

So, while the recession may be over, the recovery will not be a rising tide that raises all boats. We need to focus on our clients and remain open to the changes that inevitably lie ahead.

Join Us for Endless Possibilities 2.0

When we invented this series We asked ourselves what would be relevant to the creative and marketing community.  Of course, we wanted to get prospects and clients into our facility but we hoped for so much more than that.  We wanted our guests to have fun and say “WOW.”  We wanted to create content that would inspire even the most seasoned professional and send them away excited with what is possible today.

We seem to have accomplished that.  We’re excited to say that we have continued to field questions directly related to the sessions we designed.  We find ourselves immersed in elegant initiatives inspired by the day.  Guests saw things they didn’t know were possible and had little trouble relating what they learned to their own business objectives.

Next month we’ll be putting on Endless Possibilities 2.0.  It will take each of the topics introduced in the first session to a much deeper level.  Guests will see marketing communications automation at work.  We’ll be touching prospects with text messages, email, direct mail and voice recordings customized, on the fly, based on real time responses.  They’ll see Point of Purchase designed, structurally, rendered, decorated, printed and fabricated while they watch.  They’ll be challenged to identify subtle differences in finished products that are expensive and inexpensive to produce.  Finally, they’ll have the opportunity to see what’s possible with robotic laser cutting, stamping, embossing, coated papers, uncoated papers and exotic substrates.

We’re very excited about this series.  We’re grateful to our clients and friends that encouraged us to provide content like this and shared what they felt would be valuable…and we’re thrilled by how the effort has been supported by the market.

Our goal is simple.  We want to see creative take the gloves off and do whatever they can dream up.  The gap between what is possible and what can be imagined is smaller than it has ever been.  We’re excited to see the most creative people in the world experiment and challenge today’s fabulous set of tools.

Come join us October 14th.  The Varsity will be providing the food once again.  The event is a college tailgate theme so wear your school colors and plan to browse the “school tents” for ideas and fun.  Along the way you’ll have a chance to attend some really cool sessions designed to turn your imagination loose.

It’s gonna be great!


You Have to Know What You Know!

Sales Graph 2

Since 1998 I have been writing about focusing on the customer. I have attempted to be funny at times. I have told some embarrassing stories and I have allowed myself to be the butt of the joke. I have written some excerpts that are more serious in tone and I have jabbed at local establishments and utilities. I have taken a wide path in my attempt to point out stellar client service.

I believe I would be accurate to say that each of the installments preach the same sermon. They all talk about exceeding client expectations and going the extra mile to make them happy. They are a call to action of sorts rooted in the belief that you can call on some inner conscience and expect more of yourself.

I have just finished rereading “First Break All the Rules.” It is an older business book that has recently been re-released. I picked up several copies and plan to share them with friends and colleagues.

The author of this book disagrees with me. He states that our brains are wired with specific passions and interests from a very early age. Heredity is a factor but the overwhelming influence is our environment. I will attempt to explain this in the next few paragraphs.

The human brain is equipped with billions of neurons. Each one of these neurons is capable of tens of thousands of connections with every other neuron. The ability to process data or to connect impulses (synapses) is incalculable. There isn’t a computer bank in the world that can come close to the most simple minded human brain.

When we are born everything is new. Our senses hear, see, feel, smell and taste more than our brains can process. It is sensory overload. Our minds cannot deal with everything we experience so we quickly determine what matters and what doesn’t. We screen out “background noise.” We censor the stimuli that enter our brain. We decide what matters.

These decisions cause us to concentrate our connections between specific neurons. We don’t waste (or invest) synapses by connecting to neurons that we don’t value. Instead we make millions of connections between areas that we have decided are important. We build “super highways” in our brain creating areas of passion and talent.

By the time we are a few months old our inclinations are already being formed. These areas of focus become who we are. Other areas (neurons) are less connected if connected at all. They don’t develop in our specific case.

The reason I mention all of this is because it suggests that we can’t change our focus. If we are inclined to be laid back, we are going to be laid back. Pressure from a spouse to “get interested” isn’t going to change a thing. It can’t. You don’t have that connection.

I have seen this in my own house. I have two kids. They were raised in the same environment but thanks to their gender, they were exposed to different things. They manage life differently.

My daughter had to win. Motivating her was easy. You explained what behavior would deliver the results she wanted. If it was important to her, she would make it happen. All you had to do was provide transportation and access to the tools.

Motivating my son was more difficult. The same things didn’t work.  had to call on his conscience or make him feel guilty to get results. He is smart as a tack and extremely generous. He just reacts different and values different things.

Now what in the world does all of this have to do with our industry and satisfying customers? It has everything to do with it. We can’t win as professionals if we don’t understand. Let me explain.

People that don’t care about customers can’t be taught to care. Let me say that again. People that don’t care about customers can’t be taught to care. They can be taught to repeat phrases. They can be taught the right answers. They just can’t be taught to be passionate about them or to make them central to how they behave. They can’t learn a sense of urgency.

Managers…ask yourself this…how many employees have you really been able to change during your career? I’m not talking about teaching. I’m talking about changing. How many lazy people have you converted to energetic? How many intense people have you converted to laid back? How many reckless people have you converted to cautious? Scary…huh?

Salesreps, if you’re working with a CSR that is indifferent…guess what…they always will be. If you’re working with someone that is sloppy, they always will be. If you’re working with someone that is grumpy, they aren’t going to become a bubbling bundle of joy. It goes on and on for department after department.

Now this doesn’t mean these people are bad. Dedicated employees come in all shapes and sizes. Companies need people that know how to count and love doing it. We need people that are wild about computers. We need people that love solving problems of all different shapes and sizes.

What we don’t need is the wrong person in the wrong job. I can’t put my steering wheel where my front-right tire is supposed to be and drive my car. I need both parts. I just need them in the right place.

Managers, think about this as you look at your staff. Think about this as you make hiring decisions. It will be better if we pick the right person in the beginning and don’t try to convert them after the fact. You can’t teach passion and quality.

Sales reps…answer these questions about yourselves. Selling isn’t picking up orders. Selling is convincing the client to buy. It isn’t lowering prices and it isn’t saying yes unless both parties benefit. Do you believe this? If not, you’re in the wrong job.

Client service…ask yourselves if you’re happy. If you aren’t, you might be in the wrong area. The title of the department says it all. If you aren’t interested in doing that then you are going to become increasingly unhappy.

Once I worked with an employee who publicly exclaimed that if she was required to talk to customers she would quit. She worked in the customer service department. We required it and she did indeed quit.

Was this her fault? Partly. It was our fault too, however. We decided that people that don’t like clients were ok for the customer service department.

Our industry delivers a valuable service. We have to make it easy for our customers, however. We can’t lower our costs while improving our processes and value with the wrong people in the wrong jobs. It’s on us to hire better and make the right internal assignments. Our clients will reward us with work and our employees will reward us with successful products.