What makes your firm a standout? What makes you the company to win that business proposal? Why did they hire you over the other guy? Whatever what is defines who you are and why you are successful.

In today’s fast moving world, a well designed website and an informative blog will generate business. For example, a company that consistently sends out a newsletter or blog about recent practices in their industry, and welcomes feedback, provides a valuable service to other industry members, and attracts client attention.

What I appreciate is when a company truly is innovative in its thinking as opposed to paying lip service to the word. Take Goldcorp, a major gold producer that a decade ago launched a remarkable open challenge. They invited anyone to help them identify gold deposits in their underperforming Red Lake mine in Ontario. To do so they literally made available all the geological data on the mine over the Internet. The challenge attracted an extraordinary number of responses, two of which from Australia identified further deposits that proved 80% successful. An investment of $575,000 in the challenge produced gold deposits worth several billion dollars. That’s innovative thinking. You can check this out by searching for Goldcorp Challenge on the Internet.

If that kind of innovation is a standout, so is the ability to focus on excellence in customer service. For me, that’s doing some of the simple, personal things well; like saying thank you, sending a follow-up note to a client, writing a letter to a CEO in appreciation of an act by a staff member, or providing service 24/7, regardless of the circumstances.

One quality that makes a firm a standout, is listening. How well do the people in your firm listen? It can be an excellent investment in your business to have employees participate in a listening and speaking program. There are a lot of glib phrases around like active listening. Frankly that’s a buzz word, often used by people with no idea what listening really means. The impact of listening effectively can be very powerful. If someone in client senior management tells you that they felt they had been heard, that their issues or concerns were understood, you are a standout. I once asked the CEO of an insurance organization why they chose us. The response was very clear. We felt that from our conversations, you really understood what our concerns were, and what we wanted to achieve. And we felt that your solutions would work, which in fact they did.

Being a standout doesn’t means using words like meaningful, innovative, world-class. On their own they sound great, and mean little. Testimonials to performance are a different story, especially if confirmed from several different organizations. You need to prove that you can deliver, supported by facts not generalizations, by organizations so pleased with your work that they’re willing to put it in writing.

It’s the value added that so often makes the difference between those more likely to be hired and the rest. It could be that thank-you note, or making that follow-up phone call. It could be as simple as your receptionist having a smile on her face when she or he answers the phone; the caller can always tell if the receptionist is smiling. Or it’s making sure that problems or issues are corrected as promised, on time, and without hassle. Forget the buzz words like world class, socially conscious, relevant. Nobody cares about them. They’re meaningless. Just figure out a way to make your business, your company, your firm, a standout.

News Reporter