All businesses have peaks and valleys. When we’re at our peaks, it’s a great feeling. Like we are geniuses, that we’ve hit the jackpot and can eat all the chocolate cake in the world without gaining a pound. Sales and revenues are doing nothing but going up. It’s a time of elation and it’s hard to see things clearly.

Those other times can be immensely frustrating. Like we’ve lost the genius badge and were just one number short of that million dollar jackpot. And, to add insult to injury, we’re on a strict diet of cardboard. And yet, sales and revenues are still declining. It’s a time of growing frustration and it’s hard to see things clearly.

High Anxiety – it’s not just a Mel Brooks film.

A tendency during those valleys is to look at the business model and adding some “jazz hands” to the mix to shore up sales and revenues: a new product line, new branding, more bells and whistles in the current product, higher pricing, new customers… the list is endless and can be enormously expensive (time and resource). The drive to “do something” to stop sales and revenue from falling is driven by anxiety and fear instead of being driven by the customer.

Anyone around in 1980’s should remember two very expensive, enormous and embarrassing product flops that perfectly depict anxiety and fear due to lower sales and revenue: New Coke and Cadillac Cimarron. These two products were developed to stop the bleeding – not to increase sales and revenues. Stopping the bleeding isn’t wrong but in these cases, the immense investment of time, money and other resources was derived from the anxiety and fear… not their customers and not objectivity. Emotions drove these business decisions. And you can credit emotion for their failures.

One thing you can do right now… well, maybe two.

Cut out your emotions. And then replace them with your customers when making a business decision.

Your business success is driven by how good you are at putting your customer – not your emotions – at the center of the business universe. Your sales and revenues are tied to how well you are attuned to customer needs, align your product or service to meet those needs (superior to the competition), communicate in ways meaningful to your customers and provide service that befits your product promise.

More than anything, putting your customers first can help drive all decisions across all parts of the business including where to invest and divest. Any thought that a customer focused policy is solely within the marketing function misses the point. All you have to do is point out the omission of customer in the New Coke and the Cimarron flops to understand why that might be.

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