I raise this subject within the confines of a marketing column because through my work with mosdos and nonprofit organizations, I have been zocheh to have had personal interaction with many of the gedolim with whom my clients consult on day-to-day issues. Through my association with Dirshu and Acheinu, I was privileged to meet with Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz ztâ€™l. I am still deeply saddened by his loss but I will forever appreciate how he related to me with such great warmth and empathy. I will always marvel at his thorough and in-depth grasp of the issues discussed and naturally have deep hakaros hatov for the encouragement he gave me to apply my professional skills and experience to the best benefit of my clients.
In this day and age, many professional marketing techniques have become universally accepted in the Torah world and have been employed to raise significant sums for mosdos and to recruit talmidim to yeshivos. Marketing is an academic discipline, a profession and a business. However, when applied to advance Hashemâ€™s goals in the world, then such work becomes Avodas Hakodesh.
Just recently, I came across an article that reinforced what I learned from my meetings with Rav Lefkowitz, giving me a greater appreciation of how warmth and empathy coexist seamlessly with success in business.
Clay Forsberg, a corporate recruiter and sales coach, penned a piece in a recent edition of Printing Impressions, a bulletin for commercial printers. (A quick thank you goes out to Mrs. Gitty Ostreicher of Edison Litho, who brought this article to my attention). Mr. Forsbergâ€™s style is forthright and his opening premise of â€œdonâ€™t fool yourselves, your customers donâ€™t care about youâ€ was a challenge to every in business person to sit up straight in their chairs and think.
For those of us who are used to pleasantries, camaraderie and even going to ballgames with our clients, such a line comes off as a bit of a shock. What does he mean â€œmy customers donâ€™t care about me?â€ Didnâ€™t they just invite me to their sonâ€™s bar-mitzvah? Doesnâ€™t that prove that he does care about me?
While itâ€™s true that salespeople and customers may attend each othersâ€™ simchas or perhaps tee off together, Forsberg is coming to remind us that what our customers really care about is what our product or service will do for them and their lives. â€œThe best way to learn this is to listen. By listening, rather pitching, youâ€™ll find out whatâ€™s important to them, and what theyâ€™ll react to.â€
This may seem elementary, but it really cuts right to the core of the issue. When Forsberg says your average customer doesnâ€™t care about you, he is explaining that customers can be very cold-blooded and calculating. A salesperson must demonstrate that their own service or product will deliver for them, that you really understand them and care about them.
Such caring is precisely what I observed when meeting Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz. He listened deeply and empathetically and then answered succinctly and wisely. Even if the answer to the question was pashut to him; even if he had heard the same question 100 times before, he still heard it out. The gadlus of that is when he proffered his eitzah, a person really knew that answer was tailor-made for him. When someone who you know truly cares about you and gives you sound advice, thatâ€™s when you can take it and run with it.
â€œImagine if one of your suppliers took the time to get to know you â€“ really get to know you. Would you do business with them? Would you let that person into your life? Iâ€™m betting you would,â€ says Forsberg.
This Weekâ€™s Bottom Line Action Step: Be a great listener and observe the impact on your professional growth.
Yitzchok Saftlas is the CEO of Bottom Line Marketing Group, a premier marketing agency recognized for its goal-oriented branding, sales, and recruitment and fundraising techniques. Serving corporate, non-profit and political clientele, Bottom Line’s notable clients include: Mike Bloomberg for Mayor, Dirshu and TeachNYS.
Readers are encouraged to submit their marketing questions to: ys@BottomLineMG.com