The New York Times reported last week that “Apple and its partners took more than 600,000 orders for the new iPhone 4 on Tuesday [June 15th], the first day they were accepted.” In a press release the next day, Apple apologized for the many additional customers shut out citing “the largest number of pre-orders Apple has ever taken in a single day.” Wow, 600,000 orders on one day, excluding the ones that didn’t even get through! That’s not customer loyalty; it’s utter devotion.
The iPhone story got me thinking about demand. In this case, internal demand, and more specifically still, internal demand for one’s team of direct reports. The old adage “judge a person by the company he or she keeps” has a corporate analogue. That is, your leadership brand is in large part the organization’s perception of the team you’ve built.
If you doubt this, try out this exercise: think about an exec in your organization perceived as having a low-performing team. What’s his reputation? Now, flip it. Think of another exec, this one with an in-demand team. How is she regarded? Enough said.
What if you want to build demand for your team? To borrow from Apple’s recent ad campaign, “there’s an app for that” . . . albeit, an “approach,” rather than “application.” Here it is:
1. Know your clients’ aspirations
The minds at Apple fundamentally understand our aspiration to be cool. Get your team fascinated with your internal clients’ aspirations. Charge team members to identify stakeholders who might be touched by your offering. Dive into customers’ strategic and operational plans to anticipate emerging needs and wants to satisfy.
2. Generate customer yearning
In a market saturated with smartphones, iPhone fans still eagerly awaited the new release. So, too, build anticipation with your internal clients. Communicate what your team is up to now and what’s to come. That’s right; share your plans. Leverage the internal communication platforms IT has to offer. Also, make sure to keep information flowing to organizational influencers and other surrogates so that they can chat you up.
3. Stress the quality of your team’s offering over its supply
Irrespective of how many iPhone 4 orders Apple anticipated, one thing is for sure: no one gets excited about a commodity. When’s the last time a manufacturer of paper clips had people waiting in line overnight for their new model’s release? First and foremost, your team must do good work for its customers. It’s easy to get in a position to over commit, particularly when good buzz gets out. Reward your team members for delighted customers. Demand will follow.