You might be asking, Don Shula? Isn’t he a football coach? What’s he going to offer a business owner — a pep talk?
Don Shula is one of the most successful football coaches in history. He’s still the only one to go undefeated from the opening kickoff of the season through final gun of the Super Bowl. During his years with the Miami Dolphins, the team was consistently successful. But it’s an experience from his post-football career that’s causing me to mention him to you.
Over the past few years, Shula’s steak houses have been popping up across America. I’d always assumed that it was just another licensing deal. After all, I’d never seen Michael Jordan in the steak house that bears his name in Grand Central Terminal in New York.
But then a couple of years ago, my wife and I were sitting in a Shula’s steak house in a large airport and in walks the man himself. Then he sits down next to us. After a few minutes we say hello. He says hello and we start to chat. What was interesting and instructive was that he wanted to talk about our meal and our experience that day in the steak house that carried his name. It was more than just a polite “Everything okay?” He grilled us in a friendly away about food and service. He showed a real interest in whether we’d had a good experience and seemed to be genuinely trying to learn what they could do better.
The same attention to detail fueled his success as a coach.
When I train sales people, I often say, “If the client doesn’t talk twice as much as you do, I will kick you under the table.” I am not a sadistic boss who enjoys hurting team members. But too many people in business, and far too many salespeople, talk too much and listen too little. They “spray and pray,” spewing facts and claims at the customer and hoping that something resonates. Too often, we assume that we know what the customer needs and what’s best for them.
Great businesses make it a priority to be close to their customers. Genuinely close.
Make it part of your daily routine to personally talk to several customers. Ask them about their experience with your business. Really listen to their answers. While it’s great to hear praise, the ideas that will build your business often come from their criticisms and complaints.