Consumer confidence is up. Black Friday sales hit a high. The housing market is rebounding. You're finally seeing dollar signs.
This is going to be your year. You're going to get a raise, recoup your savings, build up your business.
But those dollar signs in your eyes could become your undoing. And even worse, if your boss is seeing similar dollar signs, it could become the undoing of your entire company.
Research reveals that when leaders overemphasize profit, it actually erodes employee morale and drives customers away.
The fatal mistake many leaders make is that when they talk to their employees, the conversation is primarily focused on money. This is a big error because it tells employees, "We care more about profits and internal measurements than we do our customers."
The same thing even happens in nonprofits, for example, in education, when leaders spend more time talking about test scores (the internal measurement) than they do actual students.
One need look no further than the car-buying experience to see what happens when managers overemphasize money and metrics at the expense of helping actual customers.
Most people hate buying a car. It's not because we don't like cars; it's because we don't like the way we get treated by the salespeople.
Fatal mistake: If you treat your customers like a number, they'll return the favor.
Compare the car-buying experience to the Apple store, and it's obvious why companies who focus on customers drive explosive sales.
If you and your organization want to capture your share of the growing economy, leaders must avoid the myopic money trap. The key is to shift the focus from profit to purpose.
Here are three techniques we use with our clients that have delivered big results:
• Identify your purpose
How does your business improve life for your customers?
If your employees believe that the sole purpose of your business is profit, they will be uninspired and unmotivated. They'll also be more likely to jump ship or steal. Exhibit A: Walmart.
But if your employees know that your noble purpose is to improve life for customers, they become more engaged. They care more, they're more creative, and they work harder.
• Do a purpose pipeline plan
Identify 25 new opportunities you want to pursue. Write down their names, a volume target AND exactly how you are going to improve their lives or businesses. Make it a priority to call five of them a day. Before every phone call think: "I'm calling because I want to help you." Research shows that as much as 93% of a customer's response is based on your tone and intent. Customers can tell the difference between someone who cares about them, and someone who only cares about closing the deal.
Focusing yourself and your team on making a difference to customers will actually increase your close rate.
• Share customer stories at every meeting
Most meetings are a boring review of spreadsheets. But when you share stories about how you made a difference to real live customers, it helps your employees connect your company goals to the people they serve.
One of our clients puts up pictures of their customers. It reminds the staff, these aren't just phone calls, they're real people that we need to help.
It's ironic, but the business research shows that when you overemphasize money, you make less of it. But when your noble purpose is to help customers, you drive more revenue.
Lisa Earle McLeod is a sales leadership consultant. She is the author of "Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud."