The building blocks for leaders struggling with meaningful developmental conversations

Bricks

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I coach a lot of leaders.  

Perhaps it’s a result of my own background, or because I typically gel with ‘people people’, but I have found myself coaching many leaders responsible for client-facing teams particularly in sales, customer success, and account management across a broad range of sectors. 

A few weeks ago, I began to notice a pattern. Leaders struggling to conduct meaningful mid-year (or in some cases end-of-year) performance reviews. 

Why? Because even though these leaders are supposedly ‘people people’, too, whilst they are very comfortable addressing specific performance metrics and setting measurable revenue-related goals, many of them struggle with the ‘softer’ stuff – getting more out of their people as people and not just as revenue generators. 

In many of my coaching conversations, as soon as I explain that developing the softer skills will have a direct impact on increased revenue, customer engagement, and repeat business, they’re all ears. 

I talk about the importance of really understanding their people and ensuring that they have their key developmental areas top of mind when heading into these performance reviews – not just their revenue targets for the year ahead. 

Last week I met with Clint, a leader who had been procrastinating running his team’s appraisals for over a month. After we talked through how he could make these discussions more impactful (which is what he was clearly craving), he said to me, “you haven’t just helped me lay the foundations for these conversations, you’ve literally given me the bricks”. 

As I hung up from the Zoom call, I thought to myself, “I gave him the bricks. Surely I can come up with a framework to use in future coaching sessions with people leaders who are struggling to have meaningful professional development conversations”. 

So I did. Here are the B.R.I.C.K.S. 

Belief 

Relationships 

Interest 

Curiosity 

Knowledge 

• Style 

Belief

For any leader, it’s essential that your people have a genuine belief in the company vision, not to mention the products or services they are promoting.  

Their interactions with customers and prospects are more authentic and credible, enhancing their effectiveness, helping to build stronger customer relationships, and contributing to the company’s long-term success. This authenticity helps build trust and rapport, making customers more likely to remain loyal. 

Belief in the company’s mission and products sparks enthusiasm and allows team members to tell compelling and persuasive stories about how the product or service can meet their needs. Besides, passionate client-facing team member is more likely to capture the attention and interest of a prospective customer. 

And finally, when team members deeply understand and believe in the company’s offerings, they can better analyse customer needs and tailor solutions accordingly, leading to more effective problem-solving and customised recommendations, fostering long-term customer satisfaction. 

Relationships

Whenever I talk to leaders about why it’s important for their team members to build genuine relationships, I use the term ‘realationships’ which I then link to the idea of adding value – one of the key drivers of a first-class client experience. 

In a competitive market, meaningful relationships become a unique selling proposition. The personal touch, genuine care, and value add your team members provide can help set your company apart from competitors solely focused on transactions. 

Meaningful relationships also foster trust, which is a cornerstone of customer loyalty and when customers feel valued and understood, their overall satisfaction increases. 

Investing in building relationships signifies a commitment to long-term success, as opposed to short-term gains. Remember – customers are more likely to engage with and respond positively to real people who understand their needs and challenges. 

Interest

Leaders should prioritise ensuring that their team members have a genuine interest in the industry they operate in as well as the industry their customers are part of. 

This genuine interest drives knowledge, engagement, credibility, and innovative problem solving, ultimately leading to stronger client partnerships. 

An intrinsic interest in the space fuels creativity and innovation. Team members are more likely to think outside the box and develop novel solutions that differentiate the company from competitors. Understanding the customer’s industry also allows team members to make more personalised recommendations. Tailoring the conversation to the customer’s specific context increases the likelihood of meeting (and ideally exceeding) their expectations. 

Customers can sense when a sales or customer success representative has a genuine interest in their industry. This credibility also helps to build trust, as customers believe that the team truly understands their unique needs and can provide relevant solutions. 

Curiosity

Encouraging a mindset of curiosity and continuous learning contributes to adaptability, innovation, and increased customer satisfaction. 

Just how curious are your people? 

We’ve talked about the importance of ongoing learning before. 

Curious team members are more open to learning about new technologies, trends, and strategies, which helps them adapt to changing circumstances more effectively. Curiosity also drives team members to seek out ways to improve their skills and processes, leading to incremental enhancements in sales techniques, customer interactions and approaches to problem solving. 

In rapidly changing environments, staying up to date is essential. Curious individuals are also more likely to seek out the latest industry insights and best practices, ensuring they remain relevant and competitive. 

Team members who continually learn are better equipped to provide exceptional customer experiences and anticipate client needs. 

Knowledge

Are your team members displaying sufficient knowledge around your product or service? And if there are knowledge gaps, how can you help fill them? 

I should point out here that ‘knowledge’ around a product or service is very different to ‘belief’ in a product or service. 

When team members possess deep knowledge around the product or service, they come across as credible experts. This builds trust with clients and prospects, making them more likely to believe in the solution being offered. 

Knowledgeable team members can also articulate a solution’s features, benefits, and proposition more clearly, making them better equipped to pitch what’s on offer, speaking with authority and conveying a strong sense of assurance, not to mention being able to address objections by providing well-informed responses that alleviate doubts. 

Ultimately providing accurate and insightful information by demonstrating comprehensive knowledge ensures that clients and prospects understand how the solution’s features translate into tangible benefits and a strong return on investment. 

Style

How would you describe your team members’ style? Are they displaying passion and enthusiasm for what they do? Or are they simply ticking boxes and going through the motions? 

I was at a client recently and happened to overhear a supplier running an in-house demo for the team on a particular tool the company was implementing. He was incredibly engaging compared to the plethora of uninspiring demos I have sat through over the years. 

An engaging mindset leads to enhanced customer experiences and stronger relationships. After all, passionate individuals are seen as more trustworthy and credible, with clients and prospects being more likely to believe in and feel confident about the product or service being offered. Engaging interactions create an emotional connection, resulting in customer loyalty and the likelihood of repeat business and client advocacy. 

Enthusiasm for the work (as opposed to going through the motions) naturally leads to a strong customer-centric focus. Team members are more attuned to their clients’ needs and are dedicated to delivering exceptional value. 

So… that’s the BRICKS framework.  

Even though it may have been created with client-facing team members in mind, it can certainly apply to non-client-facing team members, too. After all, it really is all about coming back to basics. 

Remember,  hellomonday  can provide support to every leader, reinforcing habits through curated learning and impactful coaching, perhaps even providing the building blocks for leaders struggling to have meaningful developmental conversations. 

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