22 Sep September 22, 2020 – Noble Purpose Lisa McLeod and B2B Marketing Mike Maynard
When your noble purpose is to improve the lives and businesses
of your customers, you will outperform your competition.
Lisa Earle McLeod is the global expert in bringing purpose to life for sales-driven organizations. Leaders at organizations like LinkedIn, Kaiser Permanente, PACCAR, Roche, and Salesforce work with Lisa and her team to increase competitive differentiation and emotional engagement. An Executive Advisor and powerful speaker known for her authenticity and humor, Lisa has keynoted in 25 countries and authored 5 books. Lisa has spent two decades helping leaders increase competitive differentiation and emotional engagement. Her work debunks the myth that money is the primary motivation for most employees. She developed the Noble Purpose® philosophy after her research revealed, salespeople who sell with Noble Purpose, who truly want to make a difference to their customers, outsell salespeople who focus on their own targets and quotas. Lisa is a former Procter & Gamble Sales Leader who founded her own firm, McLeod & More, Inc. in 2001. She is the bestselling author of Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud.
Mike Maynard – CEO and Managing Director at Napier Group
I was using a PR agency and both the founders decided to retire. I thought, ‘How hard can it be run a PR and marketing agency?’ It’s not as easy as it seems!
Mike Maynard is the Managing Director/CEO of the Napier Group, a $7M PR and marketing agency for B2B technology companies. He is a self-confessed geek who loves talking about technology. Mike believes that combining the measurement, accountability, and innovation that he learned as an engineer with a passion for communicating internationally means Napier can help clients achieve their marketing goals sooner. Napier’s unique approach to campaign strategy designs-in speed to campaigns from the outset, building integrated campaigns that focus on the important tactics, whether clients need to increase awareness, generate leads or engage contacts to create opportunities. Mike acquired Napier in 2001 with Suzy Kenyon, and subsequently acquired Peter Bush Communications and Armitage Communication, growing the company to about 40 people today. He is actively involved in developing the PR and marketing industries, is Chair of the PRCA B2B Group, and is a visiting lecturer in PR at Southampton Solent University.
Highlights from Lisa’s Interview
Let’s start off with talking about Noble Purpose. Sure, your Noble Purpose can be to keep the lights on and power bill paid. But it’s interesting because what we find is the research tells us something that we probably already instinctively knew in our hearts to be true, which is this. When you have a purpose bigger than money, when your Noble Purpose is to improve the lives and businesses of your customer, you will actually outperform your competition, you will win the market, and you will experience more revenue and more happiness at work. A lot of people will say, what if my purpose is to make money? But what we find when we unpack that for a lot of people is, their purpose is to make money to do just the kinds of things that I described, to do just the kinds of things that create happiness for others.
It’s interesting, the words selling and noble don’t tend to go together. People who are making money for the purpose of making their family happy and secure, it’s a good start, it’s not a Noble Purpose to the long haul, to be honest. Let’s imagine two salespeople and they’re both calling on the same customer. One is there because I want to make money for my family, and the other is there because I want to make money for my family and I want to improve life for the customer.
Most of the time, we tend to create a false dichotomy between the money and the meaning. But what our research tells us is that if you were to live the life as just a rinse and repeat of trying to bring home money, you’ll do okay but you will wind up being very transactional. But what the data tells us is if you can clarify how do you make a difference to the lives and businesses of your customers, if you can have clarity about that and show up for that every day, you will be more compelling to customers, you will experience more emotional engagement in your own work, and you will get customers more emotionally engaged. The data tells us you’ll outperform that ‘I’m just here to make the donuts’ worker by about 350%.
In this pandemic that we’re in now, a lot of people were happy just to have jobs and just to be able to support families; that is a noble endeavor. But what we know to be true is there are two things. Number one, if you want to stand out in the market, I will tell you, we have one of our best clients who doubled their revenue as a concrete company. So you talk about differentiation, I mean, it’s concrete. But if you want to stand out in your market, you have to have absolute clarity about how you impact the lives of your customers. Not just say that we’re pleasing, we answer the phone in 30 minutes, but also be clear on what affect you have on your customers? The second thing we know to be true is, if you want to scale, you have to have a clear story about how you make a difference to customers, we call it your noble sales purpose. Because that’s the thing that can scale. Because once you get over five or 10 people, there’s that little feeling of “Oh, we’re here, isn’t this fun?” You got to have some language that permeates the rest of the company so that you have a story for the market.
You see it in companies that you deal with, where the employees have this sense of engagement and passion about what they do. What we’ve seen is when we put this Noble Purpose methodology into companies, engagement goes off the roof. But the problem now that everybody’s gone home and they’re not engaged, you’re not going to know for another six months.
So if you want all these benefits that I just talked about, there are three things we need to do. The precursor thing is let’s understand, you don’t need to be fixed, you’ve already got a good business. The first thing we need to do is we need to identify what we call your Noble Purpose, and we uncover that based on what you’re already doing well. How do you make a difference to your customers? How do you do it differently than your competition? On your best day, what do you love about your job? So we need to get a story for you about how you make a difference. We worked with a bank in Atlanta, Atlantic Capital Bank, and their Noble Purpose was we fuel prosperity. So it starts with that clarity, that becomes the North Star of your business. That’s the first thing is to identify what is our purpose, why are we here? It doesn’t have to be curing cancer or improving the environment. It’s lovely, we work with some of those companies. But like I said, we work with a bank that says we fuel prosperity, we work with a concrete company whose purpose is we’re going to redefine our industry because so many people in their industry were so shady and awful. So identifying your Noble Purpose is the first thing.
As a result of the work that we did at that bank, they increased their earnings by 40%. The CEO was on the cover of American Banker as the best bank to work for in America. It’s because while they’re sitting here thinking we feel prosperity, the people at Wells Fargo are being told how much are you cross-selling? So one metric is internal, how much are you doing for me, the stockholder, the revenue of the company? The other is what are we doing for our customers? The one that said we fuel prosperity produced more revenue and higher profits.
So now, the second thing is to activate it internally. What that means is, every single person in the company needs to be able to draw a line back to how do I fuel prosperity for our clients. Because one of the things that happens is companies have these big vision and purpose statements and everybody just goes yeah, yeah, whatever, put it on a plaque in the lobby. That bothered me. If I’m the one that fills out the loan paperwork, if I’m the one who does the credit checking, if I’m the one who’s the IT, what role do I play and feeling prosperity? Some of these companies we work with are larger, some are small, but in a larger one, we go through the management layers to connect the dots.
Because what happens in so many organizations is, IT department, they’re going to have one set of metrics, finance, they’re going to have another, operations are going to have another. But the only metric that counts is how are we improving life for our customers, and everything me and my department are doing has to go back to that. So until you’ve identified step one, how are we improving life for customers, it’s really hard to do step two, and that’s why you end up with silos which measure based on self-performance metrics versus customer impact metrics. By the way, your Noble Purpose is usually found inside what you’re already doing on your best day.
Then, number three is after you’ve activated internally, you go to customers. By going to customers, what you do is you unpack your sales process, your customer onboarding process, the way you retain customers. So this bank, since we started off with them saying we fuel prosperity, we look at every interaction we have with customers. From the salespeople, all went through sales training to how do you ask questions about this and do a deeper dive in your customer? Instead of just saying, hey, did you qualify for this loan? How do you really get inside become partners with your customers? How is our technology interacting with our customers? How are our frontline people? So if you think about it, number one is putting a stake in the ground and name and claim your Noble Purpose, number two is activating it within your team, and number three is bringing it to life with your customers.
So what a lot of companies make the mistake of is what we call surrogation. That’s what happened at Wells Fargo, where the metric of the strategy, our customers giving you fives, becomes the strategy. So Wells Fargo, it was we want to serve our customers so well, they bring all our business to us. How do we measure it? Oh, we’ll measure it by how many accounts people have. Then we forget the part about we want to serve our customers so well, and instead, it becomes about how many accounts people are opening. So what happens a lot of times in organizations is this surrogation that has a great Harvard Business Review article about it, the metric replaces the strategy.
So being on the enterprise calls saying what can I do to earn a five with you would somewhat illustrate a lack of clarity about purpose. Because if you had a purpose, then you would already be earning the five and you wouldn’t be so worried about some metric. Here’s something really important. As a customer, you can feel it when they have it. One of the things that we see regularly is the net promoter scores go up, customer engagement scores go up, customer retention scores go up. I’m going to use a sports analogy, but it’s like figure skating. The technical merit score is the can you do it? So if you compare McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A, they both have the technical merit down. Chick-fil-A won the market because they had the second score, like in Figure Skating, artistic impression. It was more qualitative and it was a feeling, and customers know it. You got to get your systems and processes all down, that’s technical merit. But the only way you create that artistic impression or that feeling that the customers have is by making your managers belief builders, and they have to believe in something bigger than saying, we’re hitting this quarter’s numbers.
But also, when you have clarity of your purpose, which is not just we want to be the best, it’s to say, here’s how we want to make a difference to our customers. So that bank didn’t say, we want to be the best bank. They ended up being voted the best bank, but they said we’re here to fuel prosperity. That concrete company, foundational support works, the CEO is on our website with a video talking about that when they said we’re going to redefine customer expectations for the entire contracting industry. That was a big stake in the ground, but then what they did was when you activate it with everyone in the company, they start looking at their jobs differently. Then a lot of those best ideas of how to improve things, they don’t come from the executive suite, they come from the people out on the floor out with customers. So then when you talk about how to activate with customers, you get things like, gosh, people have to wait in the driveline, what if we got iPads on it? That’s where those ideas start coming from. Because instead of simply saying, we’re trying to do a good job for customers, we have clarity about we’re not just trying to please customers, we’re trying to improve customers. We’re trying to give them an experience, a product, a solution that actually makes a difference in their lives.
We have worked with some food companies, and the whole idea if you’re selling something in the consumer space, is about giving people these moments of delight and moments of pleasure and moments of relief and moments of nostalgia, whatever that may be. Those moments matter. A lot of people when they hear Noble Purpose think, I have to be a school teacher or a nurse or cure cancer. Those are great, but giving people a banking experience where you have confidence, giving people a contractor experience where they know that the basement of their home has been shored up and it’s going to last for 50 years. We had another client of ours that made those glide-out shelving units, they are called ShelfGenie that go in your kitchen. So just giving people the ability to cook without having to get down their hands and knees and dig for a frying pan, that’s a moment of joy, it has an impact.
I think one of the things that a lot of people make the mistake of, and I work with large sales organizations, is we’ve told salespeople for decades, be customer-centric, put the customer first, but without the specificity of what you’re trying to do for customers, it doesn’t get differentiated. If I just told everybody to put the customers first, create a great customer experience, that’d be better than saying screw the customers. But if I say we’re here to fuel the customer’s prosperity, you need to know what prosperity means for this customer and you need to help them, that is a whole different level. Now those people are what we call the tribe of true believers, they’re doing something.
The book is titled Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud. You can find me at McLeodAndMore.com. You can also follow me on LinkedIn, we do a LinkedIn live every Friday. You can get our Work on Purpose, a newsletter on LinkedIn. Just click follow and you’ll see me there. Just google Selling with Noble Purpose, we have a lot of resources on our website. One of the things that we find is that we’ve got a couple of CEOs on our website talking on the homepage, talking about what this did for them, and those have been helpful to a lot of organizations and entrepreneurs just to reframe what you’re doing with your organization and how you can think about it differently especially in this environment we’re in now.