Who Says You Shouldn’t Sweat the Small Stuff?

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Monday, March 7th, 2016
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We all know someone has to get the small stuff done.

It’s often a pain and we may procrastinate. We are professionals and love to work on the big issues. However, the reality is that the small stuff underpins our big efforts.

“For want of a nail, the shoe was lost,” an ancient proverb states, continuing on to say: “For want of a shoe, the horse was lost. For want of a horse, the messenger was lost. For want of the messenger, the battle was lost. For want of the battle, the war was lost.”

It seems somewhat of a dichotomy that business and professional success is all about resolving the big issues, but this can’t happen without simultaneous resolution of the small, every day, mundane things. We spend years developing high-level skills that make us professionals, but the small stuff can often hold us accountable.

Think of it; you are a very qualified, extremely capable builder, engineer, architect, or professional in a related field, but your receptionist answers the phone in boring monotone. Sometimes your phone rings out without being answered, your emails have bad grammar because the writer can’t type and takes short cuts, you are sometimes late, your staff look scruffy, marketing material is done on cheap paper. Clients and prospects remember the small stuff.

The big stuff, the stuff you really want to do, isn’t remembered so much by clients because they know so little about it. They can’t evaluate it, but they can evaluate the small things. Write down all your customer and prospect points of contact and make each to give a massive positive impression, especially the all-important first impression.

First impressions are important for obvious reasons but mainly from what is sometimes referred to as the ‘anchoring principle.’ This means when people are pressed to make a decision, they use an anchor (like a first impression) to help decide. However, just to make it a bit more complex, there is the equally-important last impression which is the ‘icing on the cake’ that people take away with them. Keep in mind that every impression made is actually the last impression at that particular point in time.

One of the biggest small things (and cheapest to do) is to make a customer or prospect feel valued and respected by simply treating them exceptionally well. This often is simply mixing service and courtesy with passion. How often do we hear from buyers the reason why they bought was “I just had a feeling” or “it felt right” or “there was just something about them”?  How people feel is often how they buy, and a choice between you and your competitor may come down to simply the one who “felt right.” Before you satisfy the client, satisfy the person.

Once “the person” is satisfied, then focus more on the big stuff, the nuts and bolts of your work. It is vitally important to have repeat business from a client and to have them refer others to you. Work toward making a sale to get a customer (long-term thinking) not getting a customer to make a sale (short-term thinking).

The small stuff is usually mundane, but it is important and serious. If you are a sole practitioner, you need to do this yourself or get some outside help. If you have staff, they need to be trained up and monitored constantly in the value of the small stuff.

Go big on the small stuff. Take inspiration from many Japanese businesses that don’t have a marketing department, as all employees are considered part of marketing. This is good practice and one that is likely to leave customers, clients and prospects feeling valued and wanting to come back.

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