In order to get sales to sell more, service to serve more effectively and everyone to cut costs and waste, a great starting point is to get your entire team to think with a marketing mindset.

The two core functions of business are marketing and innovation. Innovation is applied creativity to create a new dimension of performance, and this is fostered by a healthy marketing mindset.

Marketing is not about promotion and advertising. Rather the more apt definitions of marketing are:

• The management process that profitably identifies, anticipates and satisfies what the customer values.

• Seeing the business from the customer’s point of view.

• The focus on what the customer values permeating all areas of your business.

Four questions. To kick off innovation with our clients, I ask leadership to give regular feedback on a handful of questions that tie directly to the marketing mindset. Here is what to ask yourself and your leadership:

1.       How well does our management process profitably identify, anticipate and satisfy what the customer values?

If you are doing an excellent job, you get a 10 on the above question. This means you have few problems with price negotiation during the sales process, you are locking customers in for longer time commitments and you understand aspects of the customer’s business as well or perhaps even better than he or she does.

If, on the other hand, you struggle to differentiate from the competition, you have a lot of price haggling or sales reps lose as often or more than they win on proposals, you need to map, refine and innovate your marketing process.

2. How well do our employees see from the customer’s point of view?

To get a 10 on this question, 80% plus of your production and service staff understands how their work impacts your customers’ business. They understand how customers feel when things with your solution go well or do not. They understand the costs customers pay when they don’t have your solutions implemented, and your staff understands the unique value and even the dollarization of value that your solutions deliver, and how much more valuable they are than the competition or alternatives.

3. How well does our production and service staff understand their impact? 

Everything they do impacts the customer. Your staff should know the incremental value your customer realizes from your solutions. Even improving things such as invoicing, employee morale or costs benefit the customer

If most of your staff doesn’t see the above, give your company a 1 and get to work on improving their marketing IQ.

4. How well do all employees understand what the customer most values?

There is a process my firm facilitates with start-ups as well as more mature, well-run businesses called market validation. It is confirming and incontrovertibly proving the incremental value you have over the competition, but before you can do that, you must confirm the priorities of the customer. You must ensure that your team is crystal clear on what your customers most value. Understand what their pains, problems and opportunities are, especially as they relate to your business.

Begin strategy dialogue throughout your team on the above questions and watch how improvement begins.

Mark Faust is a business consultant and author. This is an excerpt from his forthcoming book, High Growth Levers, which is available for pre-orders at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. His previous book is Growth or Bust! Proven Turnaround Strategies to Grow Your Business.

This article appeared in the October issue of Ag Pro magazine

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