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3 Strategies You Need To Ensure You Win In The Trust & Value Economy

It is true. Eric Cantor’s loss came as a huge surprise to Eric Cantor, politicians on both sides of the isle, and the media. His loss came as a complete surprise to everyone except those people that actually vote for Eric Cantor, his constituents that put him in office, and those people that actually matter.  On Tuesday June 10, 2014,  Eric Cantor lost his bid for reelection, thus giving up his shot to be speaker of the house, to unknown challenger and economic professor Dave Brat. Brat, a candidate more in line with what the media reported as the tea party, spent very little money, and came out of what seemed like left field to claim victory of the incumbent and second highest ranking republican in the house Eric Cantor.

Many speculated (after the fact I might add) that this was quite a  victory for the tea party and signaled that this win meant the tea party, thought to be on the decline, was  alive and kicking. Well, while much of the media jumped on that bandwagon in hopes of lengthening the sensationalism of this story and getting people (on both sides) all fired up about the tea party,  others disagreed and made a very good argument as to why this was more about Cantor’s losing than it was about a tea party victory.

In an interview on Fox News, Brit Hume, former ABC news correspondent and Chief White House Correspondent, shared his point of view on that very fact. According to Hume, the facts are that the tea party had little to do with Brat’s win, and did not even support him financially or with endorsements. The tea party did not back Brat because even they thought he did not have a chance. This left Brat to run a very grassroots campaign;   he spent under $150,000 dollars and relied on friends, family and local fed up supporters to help him keep his campaign alive. The only national support he received was from radio talk show host Laura Ingraham and Ann Colter, and then of course the biggest and most powerful help he received in ensuring victory came from Eric Cantor himself.

According to Hume, this was not a tea party win, after all they did not even back or publicly support Brat. This was more about Cantor losing than it was about Brat winning. This election was Cantor’s to lose and lose it he did. He lost it through his actions, not his words, and he (not the tea party) gave the voters the best reasons to choose Brat over him to represent their ideas and interests in Washington. So what did Cantor do, what didn’t he do, and how does that relate to business growth?

Whether our our politicians realize it or not, they are in business, they do have customers, and they work for us, just like you (as a CEO or business owner) work for your customers. When our politicians forget who they work for, and when they quit listening, when they put their agendas ahead of ours, and when their voters have a choice (a good one) their voters will vote them right out of office. And it is the same for us as business owners! We need to remember our customers always have a choice, and those choices (our competition) are growing every single day. The moment we forget who we work for,the moment we quit listening, or if we, for one minute, put our agenda ahead of our customers, well guess what, just like Eric Cantor’s “customers” failed to vote for  him, our customers will stop voting for us.

So what strategies can we put into place to ensure we do not follow in Eric Cantor’s footsteps?

  1. The Customer Is Always Right – The biggest mistake that Cantor made was that he quit talking to and listening to his voters. It seemed to many voters, that he was uninterested, unacceptable, and worst of all unresponsive. All of which translated into three strong reasons to not reelect him. As professionals and business owners we must always remember that the customer is always right. They are the ones spending money, using our products and services, and the best resource for feedback. They have the information on what we provide that is working for them, what in addition they need, and what we do that could drive them away.  Success today, and business growth in general, is about listening to your customers, keeping their needs top of mind in meetings, and being highly responsive to the feedback we get.
  2. Win Through ServingZig Ziglar said it best – the fastest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want. You only have to watch Eric Cantor’s last few years in office to know that what he wanted was to be Speaker of the House. His actions, his words, his voting alignments clearly said he had one goal, and that goal had very little to do with his home district, let alone the American people. If you want to win, if you want to succeed in this economy, you need to understand that the path to profitability lies with your customer. The only way you will achieve long term success is by ensuring that your customers’ goals remain ahead of yours.
  3. Money Isn’t Everything – Early reports say that Eric Cantor spent more than $5 million dollars in his bid for reelection, while Dan Brat spent less than $150,000. That is the best thing about this economy; your words, your actions and your track record matter more than your bank account. Why? If everyone went out and voted, then Eric Cantor’s whopping bank account and huge budget might have worked, but they don’t and they didn’t. Eric Cantor failed to understand who votes in his district, what is important to them, and the best ways to get his message out to them. We are living in a niche economy, and as business professionals we need to realize that no matter how large or small your business, your best bet for business growth is to appeal to your best customers; those people that do business with you and do repeat business with you. The happier you make these people, the more you do to enhance their experience, the more they will ensure your business will grow. The problem for Eric Cantor is that this niche market judges you on your actions more than your words, your reputation, and your track record. When Cantor’s core voters (those that actually show up on election day) looked at his actions all they saw was a politician that did not deliver.

Take a lesson from Eric Cantor, and evaluate your business growth over the past few years. What does it say about your priorities, your willingness to serve, and your actions? Yes Eric Cantor, not the tea party, gave Dan Brat that win, and I think it is fair to say that if both were in business for themselves it would be Cantor who would be boarding up and shutting down his business and looking to Brat to give him a job. Have to love the irony of politics!

So, tell me about YOUR business growth over the past few years – leave a comment and let me know, where do you stand?

(photo by pippalou