28/07/2011

Never mind the quality, feel the width!

By James Butler, Your Business Your Future tutor and coach

As owner-managers, we face a seemingly relentless pressure to build volume, whether it be sales, prospects, products, services or employees. From a range of sources, we face an ongoing push for new and more business – sometimes with no reflection on their suitability or profitability.

When I worked in consultancy, “Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width” was the standing joke about report writing for clients. If they’d paid thousands for advice, they wanted more than an A4 sheet, even if the most valuable input could be summed up that briefly. So reports were ‘padded' with descriptions of background, presentation of method and inclusion of broad findings. It didn’t matter if it didn’t add value, it made the report wider, heavier and therefore worth the money – right?

This metaphor extends to this push for volume – the race to get 50 friends on Facebook, 1000 followers on Twitter, 1500 connections on LinkedIn, 10,000 newsletter subscribers, 50 new clients this month (please note all these numbers are made up – do not see them as a performance standard you have to live up to!). All of that is about the width, and is missing the point about quality.

I know that I receive newsletters from people and never read them. I know that I am connected to people on LinkedIn and don’t know who they are. I know that I have taken on clients for the joy of new business, not because our interests are aligned. I also know that in all these cases, I lost quality at the expense of quantity.

So what’s the answer? My view is that in any relationship – whether readers, connections, clients or prospects, it’s better to focus on the quality, not the width. Maintaining strong, meaningful relationships with 20 individuals is better than 200 weak, insubstantial or tangential connections. If we’re to lower our sights on target numbers, how do we then focus on quality? These are my thoughts:

Connect – get to know someone individually, don’t just see them as a number

Give Value – provide them with something they’ll find useful – a tip, a connection, or some content

Accept Value – where they try to offer something to you, accept that gift from them and show appreciation

Nurture – tend the relationship and actively help it deepen, don’t take it for granted

Request – articulate what you’d like from them, clearly, concisely and unambiguously – and ask for it

Acknowledge – if they provide it, or try to, acknowledge their support and encourage more.

These ideals could apply to prospects, customers and former customers.

On the Better Business Programme we work with participants’ real business challenges and opportunities. Here’s what’s real for us around the ideas in this blog.

We hope we’ve given value by stimulating your thinking about a range of issues in your life and business. We’d love the opportunity to connect more solidly with every one of our readers – so please do email or call. We can articulate that our purpose is to help owner managers create a better future for their business and for themselves – so if you know someone who wants a better future and who is prepared to invest in getting there, please send them to us. And, we acknowledge and thank all those of you who already do that on a regular basis.

Success in business isn’t all about volume – true success comes from having the right numbers, not just high numbers. How can you improve the quality, not the quantity, in your business?


Watch the video below featuring Gerard Burke of Your Business Your Future, discussing the 7 pillars of a better business.

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Create a better future for your business and yourself! Fresh Business Thinking LIVE! at Cass Business School is a one day event specifically designed for ambitious entrepreneurs and owner managers. Gerard Burke of Your Business Your Future, will introduce a range of successful entrepreneurs who will share their experiences of building the 7 Pillars of a Better Business — the seven characteristics which seem to distinguish those businesses which consistently perform better than the average.

To book for the event on 7th September, click here


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