Taken from the book How Businesses Really Work:
In the early 1990s in the City of London a unique telesales company was failing to meet targets, suffered from a high staff turnover, and had such a variable income that the whole operation’s stability was threatened.
The owner-manager was something of an administrative genius. In the days before the internet or the advent of commonplace desktop computers, he had devised a paperwork system to track and control complex commercial dealings which was both simple and inexorable in its efficiency. The company’s product was a portfolio of financial assistance, tailor-made to suit a client’s needs. An effective sales patter had been developed and was being employed, and, when it was used correctly, it had remarkable success. The whole business could potentially have run like a well-oiled machine.
But income was shaky; staff were dispersed and in some cases out of control; volume of production was puzzlingly low, despite a healthy commission system. The owner-manager was frantic - he realised that something needed to be done, but had no real idea as to how to proceed. Bills were coming in - rent in the City of London was high and other expenses difficult to maintain. Unless something fundamental happened fast, he felt that the business was doomed.
It was turned around in two days.
• emphasis was firmly placed on the marketing aspect of the business. The small workforce were rapidly and intensively trained on communicating effectively with the potential clients. Since the product was heavily dependent upon a client’s real needs, it was crucial that those needs be swiftly understood and acted upon.
• the communication training concentrated on the one skill that was absolutely vital to the entire process: listening. It was found that - in common with many business workforces, even those specialising in sales - the individual staff possessed a completely insufficient understanding of what it took to really listen to a client.
• over a two-day residential workshop, staff drilled listening to each other and appropriately acknowledging and noting down prepared responses. Group morale sky-rocketed on drilling alone. When this translated into workplace action the following day, successful sales closures increased by 1,000%!
Within a week, the business workload had more than quadrupled as a vastly more confident workforce was able to communicate with clients with relative ease. Satisfied customer testimonials added strength to the marketing machine and sales steadily rose. Client invoices were paid and so money was banked and bills soon became no problem. Income hit highest ever targets and staff morale (and commissions) rocketed to new levels.
Improving the line between marketing and sales and the quality function increases customer satisfaction. In this case that meant translating more accurately the information being gleaned from the telesales front liners into the actual portfolios being sent out to clients. Nevertheless, the business had flourished after an intervention of only two days, which had pinpointed the business’s central weakness and remedied it efficiently.
Unless the customer and the product or service are being brought together with sufficient accuracy, speed and in enough quantity, finances will suffer.