Not sure there is any better feeling than finishing a manuscript; finally being done with a book and sending it off to the publisher. It is like a huge weight has been lifted off of your shoulders and you are not sure what you are going to do with all of your free time!
Well that is how I feel right now! I just finished writing Winning In The Trust & Value Economy: A Guide To Business and Sales Success! This is a book that had to be written. I honestly feel like I had no other choice but to put pen to paper (okay figure of speech) and share the wisdom and strategies that CEOs running successful companies and businesses in this economy have shared with me. Given the state of the economy and the extreme differences in the levels of success I was seeing among business owners, professionals and corporations trying to navigate this new economy, this was a book that had to be written.
The journey began in late 2008, when most of the businesses I work with felt the first hint of an economic downturn. As a coach and a speaker I found myself in a unique position, with a front row seat, able to observe how different types of organizations, leaders and teams reacted to the shift. At first, not much changed; most businesses and organizations saw this as merely a blip, a small upset on the radar, that with a few adjustments would certainly correct itself and all would be back to normal. But as the first promise of recovery came and went with no real change, my view from the front row got far more interesting.
As we moved through 2009 and into 2010, I began to see a gap–a big divide, not only in how businesses were approaching this downturn, but the level to which they were succeeding or struggling. I observed that while some organizations did nothing, sure that we would pull out of this soon and all would be back to normal, others hunkered down and worked harder and longer, sure that effort and determination would pull them through; while still another group left what they knew behind, and set out to find a whole new approach to doing business in what they felt was a new economy. They got way outside of their comfort zone and literally turned their businesses on their heads and revamped their entire business strategies.
As the economy continued to struggle, teasing us as it went up and down, the gap between how well these businesses were doing widened. I watched, along with the rest of the world, as some icons of business found themselves facing bankruptcy or literally shutting their doors altogether; while others found their margins getting thinner and laid off record numbers of employees just to keep the doors open. Watching what was happening in business on a day-in, day-out basis became like watching a bad accident: you didn’t want to look but you couldn’t seem to help yourself. It was nothing if not fascinating and depressing, all at the same time.
Then almost up out of the ashes came this new group of businesses, this unique group of organizations that were somehow finding success. They were hard to spot, but if you paid close attention to the reporting of business news, you would see the rare story about a company actually doing well. As if there was a group of business leaders and professionals who belonged to a secret club: those who had figured this economy out, and seemed to have found the answer. By close of 2011, I found myself observing, and then being lucky enough to work with, companies that were not only finding success, but were rocking it off the chart. They were experiencing record growth, recruiting fantastic talent, and seemed to actually be enjoying this economy.
Now I am nothing if not curious. I had to know why. I mean, who wouldn’t? Here we are, as a country, facing some of the toughest economic challenges we have ever faced; people are out of work, bankruptcies are at an all-time high, and companies with a long history of success are going under. Yet, in the face of all this doom and gloom, there are organizations posting record years and celebrating growth rates of thirty and forty percent. I had to know why. I had to understand exactly what these companies were doing differently and why it was not only working, but literally breeding success.
This high need to know on my part led to a series of interviews with the CEOs, leaders of these companies, and their team members–those literally in the trenches of this economy on a day-in, day-out basis. What I learned was fascinating, unique, fresh and different. All of these people were so open, so motivating and inspiring to talk with, and I knew their information, ideas and strategies simply had to be shared. Again, these innovative leaders had literally cracked the code to finding success and opportunity in this uncertain and shifting economy.
These interviews gave way to this book–again, a book that had to be written and one that practically wrote itself. This book is based on the insights, information and strategies I learned from spending time with these CEOs and business leaders. What they did, how they view this economy and the steps they took to turn their organizations around and find true success in shifting and challenging economic times–that’s what you’ll find in this book.
When I started writing this book and finally settled on the title of Winning In The Trust & Value Economy: A Guide To Business and Sales Success, I received an enthusiastic response. Individuals and business owners wanted to know how to win in this economy. Now, while this book is a guide, the one thing the book does not address and cannot teach, is that success in this economy boils down to hard work. The one thing that every CEO I interviewed had in common, the one belief that all key leaders shared, and the one comment that every team member I interviewed relayed was that they were working harder than they had ever worked. In this economy, there are tips and strategies that work, but there is no easy fix, no instant gratification and no one sure-fire secret that will open the doors, part the waters and make succeeding in this economy easy. If you want to succeed you have to be willing to put in the time, the effort and some good ole fashioned elbow grease.
Once you commit to that, once you understand that, then this book can serve as a guide, with lessons learned and new ways of thinking that can put you in the driver’s seat and on the road to success in the new economy.
I call this economy a Trust & Value Economy, because in my opinion it needed to be named, and that name better than any other describes it and suits it. That is what this economy is all about – trust and value. As a business owner, professional, or team member, you need to understand that times have changed and they are never, no matter what, going back to the way they were. We have literally gone through an economic shift, and economists agree. They say we have moved out of a push economy and into a pull economy. In a pull economy, the consumer is in control; they are making the decisions and they are driving the boat.
Think about it–just think about how much has changed: globalization, increased competition and advancements in technology. We could all spend the next four weeks in our homes googling until our hearts are content and have everything we want, everything we need delivered right to our door. Just that very fact has changed everything for us as business owners and sales professionals, because that fact makes what we sell a commodity. Today’s consumers know they have a choice; not being able to find a product or service is no longer an issue. Where they buy it from, well quite frankly, they are overloaded with options, so whom they buy it from, that is truly where the sale and the opportunity lies now. It is all that is left. So in the Trust & Value Economy it is not what we offer as professionals, but how we offer it that is truly our competitive advantage.
As our products and services have become commodities, and our consumers’ options to buy them abundant, the consumers’ ability to find business owners they trust and want to build a relationship with has become scarce. It is in that scarcity that the opportunity, the first break in the trust and value economy comes. What you will learn from the CEOs and business leaders in this book is that this truly is a new economy. With so many choices and so much opportunity, what consumers today are really looking for is a relationship with a business owner or sales professional they trust, and one in which they believe they get value.
So much has changed about this economy, and so much is truly different about this economy. Unlike other economies that are described as strong or weak, this one is described as shifting, and that shift is the challenge for the business owner and sales professional. In strong economies, things are good and we are all poised to invest and grow. Both the consumer and the business owner are confident. In weak economies, we all pull back and wait. While we may struggle for a while, we believe this is nothing more than a period of economic downturn and things will get better. Weak economies may be uncomfortable but consumers know this discomfort will come to an end. But in a shifting economy, the only thing we know for sure is that things are and will continue to be uncertain. This is a shifting economy, and that constant shift and fluctuation creates fear, mistrust, and a lack of confidence to invest in the market or commit to too much.
Today, even when consumers want to buy, they want to be sure about what they are investing in. They want to be sure they are getting value for their money. It is not the product or service that the consumer is searching for; it is the opportunity to find and work with professionals they can trust and who value them as customers. To succeed today, to sell your products and services in this economy, you must be a different type of professional and a different type of business owner. You need to be one who embraces change, is rabid about caring for your customer, and one who is so nimble that you constantly seek and respond to the ever-changing opportunities opening in the economy.
This economy is about change; it is chaotic, and no one, no matter what the experts and economists tell us, no one can be sure what is going to happen. In my lifetime I have never known an economy like this, and I have to tell you, I am excited about it. Yes, there are challenges, and the need to get comfortable with the unknown, well quite frankly, is a little scary. There are so many upsides to this economy–so much opportunity for business owners and sales professionals. If you are willing to put in the work, if you are willing to commit to innovation, if you are willing to take a little risk and be open to new ideas and strategies, this is your economy. For the first time since I can remember, we are living in economic times when transparency, authenticity and doing the right thing not only pay off, but they are the only way to truly thrive.
Welcome to the Trust & Value Economy, and welcome to Winning in the Trust & Value Economy: A Guide To Business and Sales Success. This book contains the information you need to crack the code to making this economy work for you. Reading the first few chapters you’ll learn not only how this economy has changed, but how the consumer has changed. You’ll discover why this economy is different, and what you need to do to not only accept but embrace that change. As you dig deeper into every chapter, you’ll uncover the insights, strategies and wisdom that companies, CEOs and business leaders have shared about what they are doing to reshape their cultures, develop their employees, redefine their marketing strategies and increase the overall success of their companies. The book also reveals what today’s leader looks like, and why courage and humility are the balance needed most in today’s executives. But what you will gain most from this book is the knowledge that there is no right answer, no one way, and no certainty that you are on the right path. And whether you are in charge of, represent or work for a company, you have to find comfort and confidence in your ability to be successful in the middle of complete and total chaos. Now I believe this is an economy in which you can be successful, one in which you can win. Believe me when I say this is your economy, and after reading this book you will be more than prepared to go out there and get it!