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My mission is to guide and support others, so they can achieve legendary results from legendary relationships.

Jack Pierce, Founder and Managing Partner | Connect Platform & Operating System

DESIGN

For me, to live means to design. I use design like a computer uses its operating system. I've successfully applied the same principles to graphics, branding, marketing, software, communications, coaching and mentoring. There's also no better approach to change management, learning, and behavior change.

EXPERIENCE

I'm a multi-disciplined designer with more than five decades of experience. While in the Architecture College at the University of Nebraska, a number of us were keen on applying our design skills outside of architecture. We tested ourselves at things like graphic design, screen printing, photography, and writing. I even spent a year teaching design as an undergraduate. Helping other people learn, I discovered, is one of the best learning experiences you can have.

Looking back, it almost seems like I went a little overboard. But immersing myself in a broader understanding of design literally multiplied the value of my education. It also set me up for many more future opportunities.

PEOPLE CONNECTIONS

Throughout my career, I've had the good fortune to partner with impressive organizations like the ones at the bottom of this page. And in every case, it was the people—and working deliberatly to create high-trust relationships—that resulted in our remarkable successes, working together.

Directly below are two stories where the value of relationships really jumps out at you. Though they were previously overlooked, in each case, relationships became the heart of our client's solutions.

Michelin NA  | We're all human

This story is about the impact our behavior has on others, and the everyday relationships we often overlook and take for granted. 

Originally, online product training concentrated on engineering facts and specifications that supported the Michelin brand. But, customers weren't interested in engineering details. Courses didn’t help sell tires. They were literally a waste of time and the dropout rates kept climbing.

From where their learners sat, we explained, the message was: “We don’t care enough to be interested in you, just sell our tires.” How would you respond? It’s basic human nature to say to yourself something like: “Really? Just watch how I can ignore you!” 

Even though they were creating negative brand affinity, Michelin didn’t trust training salespeople who also sold competing brands. In response, we narrowed sales training to best practices for selling specific tires to likely Michelin customers. Then the commitment was made to build relationships with dealer sales people relying on behaviors that clearly put them at the center of the universe.

The approach delivered measurable, predictable, behavior change and results. Salespeople would eventually report that our courses were responsible for choosing a Michelin tire as their first customer recommendation 95% of the time.

Sales results can be hard to measure, but here too, the positive impact was clear. In one instance, Michelin recorded a 25% year-over-year increase in sales of their highest margin products through a large, North American retailer. The program also demonstrated that salespeople who took new product courses significantly outsold those who did not for a period of six months, or more.

Sam’s Club | The power of yes

Here, you'll learn how easy it is to develop the right solution by paying attention to human nature. In fact, it should be the first place you look!

As a contracted partner, we were already in the middle of new systems training for customer service reps (CSRs) when a serious new problem came to light. It was reported that Sam’s Club Members frequently described their phone conversations with CSRs as feeling stiff or impersonal, which translated as uncaring. 

This feedback is symptomatic of human interactions gone completely sideways. As we went hunting for the underlying cause(s), this question captured our challenge:

“How can a CSR come off as warm and supportive, when they’re instructed to read from a script, deliver programed answers, and never deviate?” 

Sam's answer was, they obviously can't. Yet that was the expectation, working inside the current practices and procedures. This realization created an immediate commitment to change.

We designed a highly successful solution with just four instructions, all based purely on the laws of human nature:

  • Create fresh and unique experiences with every call, using the scripted process to address the important information and goals.

  • Think of each Member they speak with as a favorite aunt, uncle, or grandparent. In short, be human ...polite, respectful, and engaged.

  • Diagnose any calls that might have gone better, using the acronym SOAR, a behavioral device my team created years earlier. It means building relationships on behaviors that are: Supportive, Objective, Accountable, and Responsive. (CSRs personally discover and take ownership of SOAR in training.)

  • For every question to a Member, ask in a way that they would most likely answer yes, rather than no. Short explanation: the positive brain chemistry created by repeating the word yes, creates a positive mood and positive memories. You can see how this reflects human nature. It’s also called neurolinguistics.

We immediately onboarded 300 seasonal CSRs using this strategy, with better than expected results. At the end of 90 days, the number of service kudos that Members conveyed to supervisors was 12 times higher than for the legacy CSRs. Just as important, the CSRs were getting a lot more enjoyment and satisfaction out of every day.

A BIT MORE

Sony Highly effective and valuable learning leads to high sales team engagement. We made Sony first in mobile-first content, creating new selling behaviors with customers, on the sales floor.

Weisman OD program SOAR: relationships that are Supportive, Objective, Accountable, and Responsive. SOAR evolved to become the accountability standard for team member evaluations, sales pitches, and customer programs. Our design teams have used SOAR with numerous clients since. You saw it here, in the Sam's Club story.

Qualcomm Multi-channel training for mobile device technology and products. Safe practice of precise selling behaviors, plus optimum content management significantly increased brand awareness and retail sales results. 

AutoNation Adoption of the company's existing customer values for new hire onboarding. New hires felt really special ...and learned how customers would feel with the same treatment.

Newell Rubbermaid Online conversion of the Sales 101 workshop. With realistic practice in branching scenarios, learners mastered the use of online resources to increase their sales.

NASA To help the space program invest in new talent, we designed a secure mentoring app. We used both live and asynchronous collaboration, achieving personal ownership with 200+ project managers.

Petco Retail team members feared selilng. A learning and discovery journey made them realize customers are “pet parents” just like them, needing help. How fun to bond with another parent, over their “kids”!