Overcoming Inaction: Creating Value

How do you set prices? Do you put a markup on your direct costs? Do you estimate the tangible product benefit for your customers and price for a fair return? Or does your accountant keep an Ouija board under their desk? Successful companies focus on perceived value; which is defined as the premium a buyer is willing to pay for your product over that of a competitor’s comparable product. Understanding customer wants and needs with a precision that captures more profit than competitors is fundamental to sustainability. Thus, the best pricing insights are always on the other side of the office windows and managers of action crave facetime with their key customers. Here’s what you might see if a business is casting their gaze inward:

  • Dialog with customers cannot get past bids, price, and transactions.
  • Upper management is obsessed on the strength of products and services and does not search for customer opportunities.
  • A company receives feedback it’s “too rigid” and difficult to do business with.
  • Employees have little interest in the company’s success or the commercial and competitive aspects of the business
  • Sales representatives don’t waste time understanding clients’ current and future needs and resign themselves to being the “lowest bid.”

With even a minimal attempt to explain a competitive strategy to their employees, active managers see an immediate jump in productivity. Active managers understand they need empathy and sincere appreciation of customer businesses to discover the real things customers want. Let’s take a quiz to help assess your value-building expertise. These are Yes/No questions and each “No” should be regarded as an opportunity to improve. Viewers that complete the questions will receive a gift from Accelerated Achievements.

  1. I have a written business plan that is available to my employees.
  2. I have direct feedback from key customers on the top two issues facing their organizations and have a plan for addressing their issues.
  3. Our leadership team convenes at least once per quarter to identify if new competition and technology may pose threats to our plans.
  4. I have secondary research that keeps me apprised on the size of my market and key changes.
  5. I have a plan to obtain the cash, capital, and employee skills to achieve my goals
  6. My leadership team has the interview and listening skills to discover the vital needs and issues from customers and suppliers.
  7. I actively measure customer satisfaction and take input on new product ideas.

If you answered yes to all the questions, you have the framework to offer superior value to your customers. Regardless of how you answered, you can download a white paper titled, “Measures and Improving Strategy Development.” Accelerated Achievements has helped all kinds of companies refine their business plans and sharpen skills to strengthen customer relationships. Contact us if you have questions or concerns about your assessment or would simply like to talk.

Overcoming Inaction: Driving Your Success

If I were to declare to this audience that it is the role of every manager to capitalize on strengths and shore up weakness, I would no doubt see and hear much indifference. But what distinguishes successful managers is the skill to identify which weaknesses are important to address. Organizations stagnate or even fail when managers resist changes that really need to be taken.

So, why do managers so often choose inaction? If left unchecked, any decision to take inaction can overwhelm a manager over time. Unable to envision a structured approach to a solution, the manager will continue to choose inaction.  This post is the first of a five-part series titled “Discovering Your Success.” The series is designed to make managers more aware of impediments and, more important, help identify a course of action to resolve them.

Let’s consider the recurring characters in the center of inaction:

  • Process Paul: It’s too risky to change the process. In some cases processes are tightly-tuned and careful consideration must be given to change. More often, a business has just figured out how to make things “kinda” work and changing it sounds tiring. In either case, the focus is on failure rather than improvement.
  • Marvelous Melvin: It is believed that if Melvin decides to leave the business, the world as we know it will end. So everyone is extra careful not to do anything that would put Melvin in a tizzy. Melvin understands his status and uses it to manipulate the group to his advantage
  • Sweet Sam: Is a supervisor that has learned that managing conflict requires him or her to make decisions that can be unpopular and that life is easier if you let the employees figure it out; regardless of the result. Like Melvin, this supervisor usually has 20 years of experience and you don’t want that walking out the door! So people let it ride with Sam…
  • Blissful Bob: Managers that refuse to publish goals or performance measurements for their organization are blissful. Blissful managers often fail to observe changes customer behavior and their consequences. When they do respond it’s late and attacks symptoms of the problem; rather than the root problem.

Protecting these characters will greatly hinder the business’ ability to evolve and adapt. Inaction builds vulnerability to agile competitors, weakens market position, and creates a permissive work environment. Even with a simple organization, the loss in productivity can easily run into five figures.

Subsequent blogs will look at four areas of working smarter: creating customer value, goals, process, and communication/leadership. I chose these four areas because they are essential to sustaining a business. These posts will boost awareness of the consequences when weak in an area. And, each post includes a questionnaire to help identify actions you can take to move forward. This series is all about self-assessment.  You can get started by taking a moment to write down the weakness in your organization you see most in need of shoring up.