Many professionals I’ve spoken with, recently, have a nagging sense that they are professionally predictable.
Managers and leaders make a big fuss about why we should focus on product and service differentiation. Yet, unless we are designing, engineering, coding or selling a breakthrough innovation, customers continue to perceive us as commodities.
When we have the opportunity to work directly with customers, customers really are not listening to what we have to say. They have heard it all before. From someone else’s reps or technical and engineering staff.
And they have. Professional predictability becomes the client’s experience: of us and our competitors. Consider the impact professional predictability has on customer experience, success and retention. Not pretty, eh?
It doesn’t have to be that way.
When Yesterday’s business development and customer success strategies continue to marginalize us, we become professionally predictable.
First Professionally Predictable Scenario: We put ourselves in predictable positions behind our organization’s products and services. Those offerings, in the eyes of our organization, are the main reasons buyers want to specify our products and services. As a result, we are relegated to being perceived as product and service delivery messengers.
Second Professionally Predictable Scenario: Because we unquestioningly buy into the predictable yada-yada that customers prefer to do the majority of supplier research online, we put ourselves in a holding pattern. As a result, we take a back seat. Unless we are called upon to answer questions, why should we engage ourselves (and our customers??) with how we impact and innovate. On their behalf.
Third Professionally Predictable Scenario: In addition, post-sale customer support teams remain behind-the-scenes. Nameless and faceless (especially if they are AI chatbots). These teams serve as predictable – and reactive – AI order-takers. That is, until customer issues escalate. Then a human engineer, field service or Quality professional is introduced: merely to fix what is broken.
Think about it. We allow ourselves to become professionally predictable to customers.
Fourth Professionally Predictable Scenario: Consider the functional roles to which we voluntarily, and perhaps intentionally, relegate ourselves. When we work for others. Thus, we gradually become complacent, satisfied with playing a reactive role.
Over time, the individually innovative impact we contribute, as Professionals of Worth, becomes a rare event. Consequently, we lose motivation to be proactive and anticipatory of what Tomorrow and the Future look like for our clients.
Why continue to be satisfied playing that type of functional role? It doesn’t have to remain that way.
Professional innovative happens in the space of one millimeter. When we decide to move beyond what is professionally comfortable. And, instead, move towards what is professionally possible.
Why remain interchangeable with one another, within the workplace as well as in the customer’s eyes?
Isn’t it time to take that one millimeter step forward. And become distinguishable and differentiated in the eyes of the customers? When that happens, we are invited to seat at their business tables, even as our competition still is waiting to make the final, beauty-contest supplier cut.
Take the next step. Start moving one millimeter forward, today. Towards professional innovation.
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Babette Ten Haken delivers her One Millimeter Mindset™ keynotes, breakout sessions and workshops to help individuals, teams, organizations and associations leverage productive and profitable collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention. Babette Ten Haken serves organizations as an inspiring speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. She is a STEM-trained scientist, corporate catalyst and design thinker. Babette’s playbook of collaboration tools, Do YOU Mean Business?, is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
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