Home: October - November 2011 › The importance of “getting it”
The importance of “getting it”
01/11/2011 | Channel:
Contracts, Station Development, New Products & Services, Business Improvement, Franchises, Skills & Training, Security, Health & Safety, Freight, Rolling Stock, Infrastructure
COLIN FLACK, the Rail Alliance’s CEO, explains how he is enthused by people who really understand the benefits of networking and collaboration
To my team at the Rail Alliance, the most important criteria when we look to recruit new members and retain existing ones is the simple concept behind the catchphrase “do they get it?” Although it is in many ways a flash of the blindingly obvious, it took us a while to realise the value of, in this sense, customers, who match your profile as a business. The value of sales to customers who really want YOUR product as opposed to just A product I believe cannot be underestimated. This is a customer who will be loyal to you and your brand, who will look to you to be the main supplier of those goods and services, one who will take you into their confidence and share information about where they are going as a business and what they are looking for in the future. You in turn will be looking to ensure that you can anticipate their needs, help in the development of their goods, services or products – in short, ‘go the extra mile’ for in the confidence that you will be respected and rewarded.
Of course what I am actually talking about here is the relationship between people who know and respect each other. The tools of modern life, namely the omni-present mobile phone and the internet mean that it is all too easy to neglect the real value of getting to know people face to face. However I believe that one of the most important fundamentals of doing business is meeting and, through that, understanding customers.
We are naturally pack animals and modern successful companies (and economies for that matter) consist of businesses that understand the value of developing and nurturing the pack. When Blake said “no man is an island complete of himself” he could have been talking about businesses. No matter how big the company it needs a whole variety of outsiders for it to work, whether this is the transport networks that bring its staff to work, or the micro-SME, niche manufacturer, in a remote site making critical components.
The first two elements of our motto are ‘Network and Collaborate’ and for us these are the fundamental components of ‘Getting It’. To form relationships we need to meet people in an environment where the aim is not overtly to sell. We form friendships with others through a process of getting to know one another and understanding each other’s needs, wants and aspirations.
Networking is a catalyst in this process and its value should not be underestimated. We do however need to be careful here; there is a level of precision to this. Whilst quantity may have a quality all of its own, the adoption of the ‘meet 100 people, get 20 follow ups, and make one sale’ approach is not what I am talking about, it’s much more subtle than that. Powerful networks are ones where the members start to think and work for each other, confident in the knowledge that others will be doing the same for them. This is not an altruistic act, nor is it cynical. Customers who have been referred by a trusted friend or contact are ones looking for YOUR product, goods or services; and it is these ‘trusted friends and contacts’ that are likely to be found at networking meetings… or at least some!
The next stage is collaboration and this is again a subtle and multifaceted process. What I am talking about here are companies and individuals who are genuinely looking to enhance their networks by partnering, sharing information and ultimately collaborating. Whether this is a large company developing its sustainability through working to actively develop its supply chain or smaller companies working together to enhance their collective capability offering – i.e. the whole being so much greater than the sum of the parts, it matters not; the vital element is that all players ‘get it’ and understand the value and the power.
I am really excited, enthused and motivated by working with people who ‘get it’ and am equally inspired by the new BS 11000 which seeks to provide a formal structure with which to recognise success and excellence in partnering. The Rail Alliance is totally committed to this new flagship standard and continuing to: