Momentum Podcast: 837

Get Close to Your Customers

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

If your business is facing some challenges like slowing down, not attracting the ideal customers, having issues with delivery or returns, or retaining customers, I have some advice that has worked wonders for me and other successful business people.

This strategy is getting close to your customers.

I've seen top CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the world do this, where they would jump in to their customer service department and start answering questions to understand what's really going on. For example, Howard Johnson, the CEO of Targus Mobile Devices, used to come into my territory and do sales calls with clients to get a better understanding of the market. This is something that Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, was famous for too – walking into his stores and talking to customers to see what was going on.

If you're facing similar issues, I would highly recommend getting close to your customers – jump on sales calls and customer service calls. I've been doing this for the past few months and it has been extremely effective. I've learned a lot from the customers, their questions and the problems they face, and this has helped me improve our sales process, marketing, and content updates. I was surprised at how much I had forgotten about this strategy and how effective it has been.

If you are ready to get out of your business's day-to-day, go to and register for a call with our team.

Full Audio Transcript

This is the Momentum podcast. If your business has plateaued or slowed down, if you're not attracting what you feel is your ideal customer, if you're having delivery issues or return issues or maybe some retention issues, I have a suggestion for you. This is a lesson I learned a long time ago working with really successful business people, and it's a lesson I've personally applied in the last few months and it's been extraordinary. I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast made for Empire Builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Should we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will? We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate. There could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution. And we always will be. I've had the opportunity to work with some of the most successful businesses in the world. And there's been this interesting repeating strategy that top CEOs have used. And, you know, you can read about top CEOs using this strategy. It's a strategy of getting close to your customer. When I was younger, I worked with huge multinational organizations, and I was shocked by how often I would be talking to the CEO of one of those companies. And they would say, oh, well, every once in a while I just go jump into the customer service department and start answering questions. And I talk to our customers to find out what's really going on. I helped Howard Johnson, not the Hotel Howard Johnson, but a different Howard Johnson. I worked with him and his organization, Target's Mobile devices, when they went from, I think, 20 or 30 million when I started working with them, they eventually became a $1,000,000,000 company. And Howard Johnson, as the CEO of that company, used to come into my territory and as I was a consultant for them and meet with clients firsthand, he would do sales calls with clients to understand what was really going on in the market. And you read about this stuff, too. You know, Sam Walton was legendary for just walking into the and seeing what was going on in his stores and understanding what kind of questions people were asking and how the store experience was. And if you're in a situation where maybe your business is slowing down a little, maybe you're not attracting the right clients, maybe you're having some return or retention issues, People are returning the product or they're not sticking with you in a longer term engagement if you have a coaching company or a content company. One of the things that I would strongly recommend you do is get really close to your customer. Jump on some sales calls even if you haven't done them in a while, jump on some customer service calls, even if you haven't done that in a while. And this is something that I've applied personally over the last few months. So Katie and I, Katie, if you're new to the podcast, Katie is my wife and we run our company together. And a couple of months ago we made the decision that we are going to update all of our content. We're in that process now. We've made major updates. Our customers are loving it. Our members are getting a way. They're getting things done quicker. There's a lot more success in the program. It feels like a lot more momentum. And part of how we did that was we moved the people that were in front of the customers out of the way and we started doing it. And for the last couple of months, I've been on a ton of sales calls. I've been on a ton of coaching calls, I've been reading what's been coming into customer service, not because I have to, but because I want to to get proximal to my customer. And this is after years of not having to be on a sales call, years of not having to be on a coaching call because I had a team in place that was doing all of those things. But I made the decision that if we are going to revamp and update everything I wanted proximity to the customer. And it's been extraordinary. You know, I forgot just how effective a process this really is. And I've learned it firsthand. I've relearned it firsthand in the past couple of months. When you get on a call with the actual people coming towards you, you start hearing the questions that they have that repeat over and over again. You start hearing the problems they have that repeat over and over again. You start seeing the similarities and all the people coming towards your company. And this has been an amazing learning experience for me. And in just the calls that I've been on, I've gotten more clear as to what issues our customers are facing and how we really help them. And both on the sales calls and on the delivery calls, I've gotten way more clear on where people feel unclear or stuck in our process so that we were able to make immediate fixes and we continue to make fixes and improve things so that people don't get stuck in our process. And, you know, I'm actually surprised at how long it's been that I haven't done this. And it's just been extraordinary. I know it's going, it's already improved our sales process. My close rate when I'm on calls is it's super high. It's probably 70, 80%. The information that I've gained from marketing has been amazing. I now have heard language over and over again from different people. I've heard the same problems from different people that we're going to put in our forward facing marketing that's going to attract the right customer. And it's just one of those things that I haven't thought about in years. But now that I've done it, it is incredibly effective. Now there is a bit of an ego check here. You know, if you haven't done this in a while and you have a team in place and you haven't been on customer service calls and I'm like, Hey, jump in, customer service. It might sound like taking a ton of steps back, steps back. I know for me, when I first considered doing this, it felt like that. I'll be honest. I was like, Oh man, it's been so long since I've done this. It feels like I'm going backwards. I remember when I finally offloaded all the customer service and all the coaching and all the sales. It felt so good. Do I really want to do this? And I had to check my own ego and say, Wait. This isn't me doing this because I have to. This isn't me doing this because I. I am forced to. This is me doing this because I want to create the best product in the market. I want to own my category. I want people who come to us to get massive momentum and feel like they got exactly what they were promised. And the fastest way for me to do that was to get really close to the customer. I continue to do it right now. I'll probably never do this for another month or two of really high proximity to the people who we're working with. And so if you have a team and you are leading that team and you're experiencing some of the issues that I mentioned. Jump into the front line and you will be blown away. How much information you get out of it. This has been an incredible learning experience for me. And if you have ever thought about working with our company, now's a great time to apply for a call because you might get me on your call and I'd love to be able to connect with you and talk to you. And if you've ever thought about buying a membership, now's a great time to be in the membership because I'm doing a ton of the group coaching calls myself, not all of them, but a ton of them myself. And I'm and it would be a great way for us to get to know each other. But if you're in a content company, a coaching company and a product company, I can't really think of any type of company where this wouldn't help the CEO. If you've been, if you've offloaded and delegated and you haven't been close to the customer for a while, my firm suggestion is you get some proximity, get close to your customer and you'll be blown away by how fast the learning is, by how quickly you start picking up similarities and opportunities. And I know that for me, this is going to transform the way that we sell. It's going to radically improve the way that we deliver, It already has, and it's going to improve our customer results, which I know is going to lead to a heck of a lot more referrals. And so if you haven't done this in a while and get close to your customer, if it weren't for Sam Walton, it'll work for you. If it weren't for Howard Johnson, it targets work for you. And I have so many stories of CEOs who just maintain that front line perspective. Even Dave Linnegar, who ran Remax, 90,000 people in the world carrying a Remax business card, would go out and meet one on one with realtors to understand what was really going on. This is an invaluable practice, and I'm a bit frustrated with myself that I haven't done more of it in the past few years. I'm not going to let years go by where I don't. I think every year there will be a period where I purposely get really close to the customer. So I understand what we're doing. I improve our deliverables, I improve customer outcomes, and at the end of the day, I radically improve our company. Like I mentioned earlier, if you've ever thought about working with us, now's a great time to take a shot at it. If you'd like to understand what we do as a company and how we help entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses while they do less tactical work in the business, get your time back and grow faster. Go to simple operations dot com. Answer the survey right there on the front page. Sign up for a call with my team and you and I might actually be talking.

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