Integrity as a Value

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, May, 16, 2018 @ 09:05 AM


As you know, I begin with the vision, mission, values and strategic positioning when I begin working with any organization. If the management team is not aligned with all four, it's impossible to develop a cohesive integrated marketing communications plan and deliver a consistent message to your employees and your prospects.


The most important value to me is integrity - doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it. If you're unable to do what you say you will do when you say you will do it, why should anyone trust you about anything else - your products, your services, your guarantee, your word?


As the leader of a business organization, you set the tone for the organization. You are the role model for everyone in the organization who need to be aligned in order for your organization to achieve its goals. Your organization will not achieve its goals unless everyone is aligned with the same vision, mission, and values and is communicating the same strategic positioning. You need your employees to be just as accountable as you when it comes to doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.


If your do not do what they say they will do when thy say they will do it, they detract from the organization’s integrated approach with regards to vision, mission, values, and strategic positioning. Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency results in confusion and distrust. If some of your employees are doing their jobs with integrity and others are not, your customers and prospects will be confused - as will your brand.


There are four important steps for your employees to do their jobs with integrity.

  • Teach employees what you mean by integrity

If your employees don’t understand the concept of integrity, they cannot reap its benefits. So your first job is to make them aware of integrity. This can be done in a number of different ways. It is easiest to teach integrity through stories, animated movies, films, slide shows and concrete examples. You should take the time to display these resources at the workplace

Here is a great story to show employees the importance of living with integrity and transparency. Integrity is not just about doing what's right even when others are not. Living with integrity serves as a role model for colleagues, suppliers, channel partners, and your competition. Here is another story which depicts strong, creative leadership. Stories are a great way to deliver a compelling, and memorable message


  • Compensate employees fairly

Integrity starts at the top and scare the daylights out of a lot of c-level executives with whom I have worked. If you are not paying employees fairly, your employees will not be with you for long and certainly will not be engaged. They will be angry that you are taking advantage of them and their situation and constantly looking for a new job rather that focused on achieving the objectives of the organization. It's critical to you pay similar compensation to employees who are in similar roles. It’s obvious if an organization’s compensation discriminate with regards to age, sex, or race, the organization, and its management is not living with integrity. Integrity is not just about telling the trust and being transparent, it is also doing what is right and treating everyone fairly so they can grow and flourish together. Even if you don’t pay fairly, still.

Paying people fairly does not mean you cannot make distinctions between older workers with more seniority or experience or those with management potential. If an employee deserves more than others, especially for reasons that may not be entirely obvious to all members of the team, ensure they are fairly compensated. Everything can not be translated into a tangible ROI. Some people are bringing skills and value to the organization that cannot be quantified.


  • Know your competitors

Every organization has competitors. Ensure your employees know who your competitors are and what makes you "different and better." This is part of the message they should be delivering when asked who they work for and what do you do, as evidenced by a custodian at NASA

Employees are more likely to be engaged, empowered, and live with integrity when they know what makes the company they work for "different and better" than their competition. Employees will end up holding each other accountable for doing what they say they will do. I wonder what would have happened has Enron management and employees embraced integrity?


  • Engage with employees

Employees model the words and actions of their leaders. That's why it's important for management to share their thoughts and be open to having difficult discussions.  Employees want to know how they are doing. While it's better to focus on leveraging the positives, it's necessary to be honest with employees about where they are not lving up to expectations, pulling their weight, or doing what they say they will do. As such, regular one-on-one is vital to building their integrity.

This goes both ways. In a transparent organization, employees should be encouraged to talk to management about any issues they see out of alignment of living with integrity, without reprisal. This empowers employees and leads to greater innovation and progress.


Tags: integrity chain, employee engagement, employee empowerment

5 Tools to Use to Get More Customers For Life

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jan, 30, 2014 @ 10:01 AM

customers for life






Customers For Life is a very powerful philosophy. It puts customers at the forefront of your company and your strategic plans.

It makes a lot of sense to do so since you won't have any revenue without any customers.

A Customers For Life philosophy does not mean you will end up serving all of your customers for their entire life or the life of your business.

Some of your customers' needs will change beyond what you offer and you will outgrow some of your customers. However, a Customers For Life philosophy ensures that you look out for your customers and help them find the right solution for their needs when you no longer offer the best solution.

Just because you're no longer doing business with someone doesn't mean you can't be friends. A Customers For Life philosophy will ensure you're getting referrals from former customers long after the business relationship has ended.

People like to do business with those they know, like and trust. They also like to see their friends be successful and are often willing to go out of their way to help their friends.

Here are five things I recommend pursuing to get more customers for life:

  1. Use Net Promoter Score surveys. This quick and easy three question survey lets you know several things: how you're doing in your customers' eyes; what areas you can improve upon; and, how engaged your customers are in your brand. It lets your customers know you're concerned about their happiness and interested in referrals. It's also the way to initiate a dialog with those customers with whom you've yet to speak with.

  2. Customer Bonding Program. A customer bonding program helps the customer get the most value out of your product or service. By following up with customers after their purchase, you know if they have any issues which you need to address for them as well as for future buyers of your product or service. You learn what they like and don't like, as well as what they need, or don't need, next.

  3. Empower employees. By educating your employees about the Customers For Life philosophy, you are empowering and encouraging your employees to provide outstanding customer experiences that will help you earn customers for life. These outstanding customer experiences are also likely to be shared with family, friends and colleagues in person and via social media. Employees that provide the most outstanding customer experiences are likely the future leaders of your, or someone else's, company.

  4. Trust. Dr. Ralph E. James wrote The Integrity Chain for the construction industry in 2002. I had the pleasure of working with Ralph and publishing the second edition of the book. While the book is written for the construction industry, its principles apply to ANY industry. Have integrity to earn trust. Earn trust to get repeat business. Get repeat business to be profitable. With the growth of the internet and social media, integrity and trust are far more important today than in 2002. In order to have Customers For Life, you must earn, and keep, their trust. Doing so will give you a cushion on those occasions when you do fail to live up to a customer's expectation.

  5. Model and reward a Customers For Life philosophy. From the CEO down, everyone in the company should be able to explain what the philosophy is, why it's important and their role in its execution. Those that exemplify a Customers For Life philosophy will help the company, and themselves, be much more successful. It's useful for employees to think of their colleagues as customers as well. By treating your colleagues as customers, your business will run more smoothly.

Do you have examples of how a Customers For Life philosophy has improved your relationship with customers?

Or, have you experienced how it has improved a company's relationship with you? 


Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: customers for life, trust, dialog, empower employees, improve loyalty and retention, connecting emotionally with customers, integrity chain, customer bonding programs

Serve First To Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Oct, 14, 2013 @ 06:10 AM

To Sell Is Human










People buy from those they know like and trust.

So how do you build trust?  

Provide information of value without asking for anything in return.

Become a trusted resource and establish yourself, or your firm, as a thought-leader by sharing your knowledge.

The internet rewards those who share information and penalizes those who hoard information.

According to Daniel Pink (#danielpink), in To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others:

  1. The best way to motivate people is to serve them well -- this includes employees, as well as customers. Your employees will only treat your customers as well as you treat your employees.
  2. Today's most successful salespeople are service oriented -- they make selling personal and purposeful. They develop one-on-one relationships with customers and prospects.  They connect emotionally with customers.
  3. Selling is ultimately about service. Build trust by doing what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it. Fail to do so, and you'll have no trust and no customers.
  4. Be accountable. Be available to your customers, and prospects, when they need you or have questions. Give them your cell phone. Every opportunity to engage directly with a customer or prospect is an opportunity to learn more about how you can meet their needs.
  5. Transparency is key in the age of social media. Sellers are no longer able to take advantage of buyers' lack of information. You must be honest and fair to have business success today. The integrity chain is more important than ever: integrity generates trust, trust generates customers, customers generate revenue. 
  6. Focus on empathic and intellectual skills. Use the data you have to have more meaningful dialogues and relationships with prospects and customers.
By being open, honest and transparent while also providing information of value, you will earn the trust of customers and prospects that will result in greater revenue and more satisfied customers with greater lifetime value.
Are you, and your employees, serving before selling?
Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: dialogue, transparency, trust, earn your customers trust, connecting emotionally with customers, integrity chain, do what you say you'll do when you say you'

5 Reasons Customers Leave and 9 Ways to Keep Them

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Sep, 24, 2013 @ 06:09 AM

5 Reasons customers leave









Thanks to Ken Dooley and the Sales and Marketing Business Brief for these reminders (

5 Reasons Customers Leave

  1. 1% pass away
  2. 3% move
  3. 14% are lured by a competitor
  4. 14% are turned away by product or service dissatisfaction
  5. 68% leave because of poor attitude or indifference on the part of the service provider

Control what you can

The survey points out that salespeople have little control over the first four reasons why customers leave, which account for 32% of those that depart. But salespeople and business owners have complete control over at least 68% of the customers who leave.

As such, it's in your best in your best interest to empower your employees to be engaged and encouraged to provide an outstanding customer experience.

9 Ways to Keep Them

Here are nine critical skills that will help you, and your reps, establish and maintain the right attitude with your customers — and keep them from jumping ship:

  1. Exceed expectations. Personalize your service. Instead of promising more than you can give, give more than you promise -- under promise, over deliver. Deliver a "wow" customer experience.
  2. Always be available. Be there to serve customers whenever they need you to be there. The Internet has enabled companies to have a constant presence with their customers, “24/7.” Reliability and availability are vital. Make sure your customers know you are available on demand. Be involved in the same social media channels as your customers.
  3. Customize how you serve. Find or develop solutions that fulfill your individual customers’ specific needs. Successful salespeople customize their business relationships with customers. They pride themselves on their one-on-one interactions. These salespeople value the differences in customer needs and respond with customized solutions.
  4. Be easy to deal with. Make doing business with you easy and pleasurable. Assume the burden of relieving inevitable aggravations for your customers. Salespeople who exceed their customers’ expectations do so by creating hassle-free experiences.
  5. Put the customer first. Don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves. Seek them out. Give customers more than they expect.
  6. Resolve conflicts and solve problems. When conflicts arise, some salespeople have a tendency to deny them, debate them, shift responsibility for them, place blame for them, or hold their breath hoping they’ll go away. Top salespeople accept ownership of the problem, collaborate on a solution, and take on the burden of finding a resolution regardless of fault.
  7. Handle complaints. Complaints usually have some validity and can be an “early warning system” of conflict on the horizon. When you view complaints this way, they can become your ally, helping you resolve problems and minimize their impact. Complaints that go unattended may evolve into conflicts that could have been avoided.
  8. Communicate constantly. Ask questions that result in a dialogue. The more the customer talks, the more you’ll learn. Continue questioning until you understand and have uncovered all the information required to proceed. Try to avoid jumping to conclusions with customers.
  9. Remember nonverbal communication. When communicating with customers, observe their non-verbal signals. Take note of their body language, appearance and posture. Look for signs of distraction. Pay attention to their facial expressions and eye contact. Listen to the tone of their voice as a means for understanding what they may be feeling.

Adapted from the book How You Do … What You Do: Create Service Excellence That Wins Clients for Life by Bob Livingston, CEO of REL Communications, a sales consulting group. 

How do you keep your customers and clients for life?

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: transparency, earn your customers trust, honesty, honest communication, people do business with those they know like and t, extreme trust, integrity chain

No Values, No Trust. No Trust, No Customers.

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Sep, 05, 2013 @ 06:09 AM

Values, integrity, trust


I recently had a second telephone interview for a chief marketing officer position with the CEO of a start-up.

The first interview lasted one hour and went very well.

We agreed the CEO would send me a non-disclosure agreement and several documents for my review to provide more insights on their technology and market opportunity.

During the second telephone interview I shared my observations and opportunities as well as where I believed I could contribute to help the company achieve its growth goals.

I suggested we meet in person and that's when the CEO said this was a "hybrid deal" and I would be expected to invest $300,000 in the company in order to be considered further for the position.

If the CEO had told me this up front, I would not have continued the conversation, signed his NDA, spent the weekend reviewing the documents he sent, nor share my thoughts on how they could successfully approach the market.

The CEO's lack of transparency and ethics has left me feeling very negatively towards him and the company. 

He asked me to send any one else his way who may be interested in the opportunity.

Why would I want to do that to anyone I know?

I looked on this company's website for their values and didn't find any. I guess that's better than finding some that are not lived up to.

People like to do business with people they know like and trust. If I don't trust you, I don't want to do business with you.

If this company treats prospective members of their management team with this level of disrespect, openness and lack of integrity, I can only imagine how they treat prospective customers.

Treat a customer or prospect in this way, in a very small and insular industry, and word will travel fast.  

While you may have bleeding-edge technology, no one will want to do business with you becase they can't trust you to be forthcoming or to do what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it.

Personal integrity is "doing what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it."

Corporate integrity is when every member of the company follows the same philosophy.

Integrity leads to trust. Trust leads to repeat business. Repeat business leads to profitiability.

Does your company have values? Do you earn your customer's trust?

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"


Tags: transparency, earn your customers trust, honesty, honest communication, people do business with those they know like and t, extreme trust, integrity chain

Build Extreme Trust to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Aug, 12, 2013 @ 06:08 AM

build extreme trust to accelerate sales


Don Peppers and Martha Rogers recently published a new book, Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage.

It's premise is consistent with Dr. Ralph James' book, The Integrity Chain, about which I've posted many times.

Consumers are sharing so much information about products, services and companies online that they are beginning to demand higher levels of trustworthiness and transparency.  This is what Peppers and Rogers refer to as "extreme trust."

Don Peppers provides examples of two companies who exemplify "extreme trust" -- Amazon and iTunes, which will both remind you that you've already purchased an item and ask you if you really want to purchase it again rather than go ahead and let you buy a duplicate of what you already have.

Amazon and iTunes are watching out for their customers rather than blindly taking their money.  This in-turn build a more trusting relationship.

Contrast this with an airline that won't let you get on an earlier flight, that has empty seats, without charging you a "change fee" or a cellular phone company failing to proactively tell you about a new rate package that would be more economical for you based on you past usage.

Companies that put the customer first will:

  1. Build a more trustworthy and loyal customer-base
  2. Have customers that buy more and buy more frequently
  3. Have customers that will tell others about their outstanding experience
  4. Be more profitable

As Peppers and Rogers note, "having customers who want you to succeed is a very important aspect of this strategy."

Raving fans can do amazing things for your business.

What are you doing that's in your customers' best interests?

Tags: consumer insights, accelerate sales, extreme trust, integrity chain, raving fans