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The Development Exponent: A Leadership Perspective

Bruce Holoubek

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Souls Before Sales, with Tim O’Brien

The building of any organization requires an inordinate amount of enthusiasm for what you’re building and why you’re doing it, certainly more than the average person possesses. That’s why good leadership is at such a premium — it’s unusual for that kind of passion to exist in an individual, much less to exist in a way that is sustainable over the long haul. Tim O’Brien is a leader who oozes passion for what he’s doing and it’s all rooted in the realization that he has the opportunity every day to help others live a better life. His role as founder of The Healthy Place and other nutrition and health-related companies is the natural result of his pursuit of that desire. In this conversation, we discuss how Tim became interested in the world of natural health, how he creates a culture within his companies that focuses on helping the customer first (even if that doesn’t result in a sale), how he's learned to activate and empower the unique abilities of his team members, and much more. We could have talked for hours, so I invite you to join me for another captivating conversation. Leaders must ensure that organizational culture serves customers Organizations that matter function according to some sort of mission, a reason the organization exists. Typically, that mission benefits people, who are its customers or recipients. It’s the leader who is responsible to ensure that the people their organization serves remain the front and center focus of the organization’s efforts. Tim O’Brien keeps that focus in view for his teams by repeating a simple phrase that is introduced during the three-month training all team members receive. What is the statement? “Souls before sales.” It’s Tim’s way of reminding himself and his team members that the help they provide to their customers has no strings attached. Sometimes that means they don’t sell anything. Other times, it may mean a sale happens. Either way, the person is being served in a way that truly benefits them, and that is what matters. Leaders must also ensure that team members can serve customers with integrity On the “team” side of things Tim’s slogan “souls before sales” applies as well. Tim desires for his team members to be among the highest compensated in the industry and wants to provide that compensation in a way that is never in competition with the best interests of the customer. For example, in the natural health industry, it’s common for sales associates to receive varying levels of commission, based on the products being sold. Tim himself experienced this tension when as a young man working in a health food store, he was tempted to suggest a supplement that he knew was not the best solution to a customer’s problem but would earn him a higher commission. He never wants his team members to be faced with that kind of choice. Said another way, he wants to make it easy for his team to serve customers well. As a result, he provides his team members a bonus that is based on the overall growth of the company, not only on personal sales. That way their work contributes to the bonus but is not directly tied to the particular products they recommend or sell. They can maintain a clear conscience and full integrity in pointing customers to the best solutions for their needs.  Team selection is as much about passion and desire to help people as it is qualifications Everyone is on a journey, in life and career pursuits. It’s not always the case that job applicants know where they are headed or even what the job they are applying for will entail in its fullest manifestation. Knocking on doors and investigating employment opportunities is one of the ways we discover the path we are meant to take. This is one of the reasons that Tim’s organizations are not looking for specific life experiences or qualifications when selecting new

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