Brendan Byrnes: I think one of the examples you cite in the book is automakers, in the sense that they spend these millions and millions of dollars on engineering, on advertising, and then you have your Fords, GM, Toyota, Honda, and then at the end of the day it's responsible to the dealers and the salesmen to ultimately close the deals.
What's a real-life example you can look and say: "How do you change that around?" Do you think that there are lessons that even companies like this can learn?
Lisa McLeod: Oh, I definitely think there are, and I know from my clients. Let me give you an example.
I have a client that makes air dryers that take the compressed air out of the brakes on locomotives. It's not the most sexy product in the world – I hope they won't be offended by me saying this – but what it does is that it keeps the brakes from freezing up inside a locomotive.
This company used to say: "Hey, we've got these great products. We've got all these revenue targets." What they realized, after working with them what I was able to show them was they actually make transportation safer, faster, and more reliable.
When their sales people go on calls – I work with the VP of sales – when their sales people now go on sales calls, instead of thinking, "I'm here to close this deal," and they do want to close the deal, they also think, "I'm here to help you, the customer, make your trains and trucks and vehicles 'safer, faster, and more reliable,' so now let's talk about you."
BB: It's about changing that mind-set.
LM: It's about changing the mind-set. This particular company is a Virginia-based company out of Salem, Va., called Graham‐White. They're a division of a larger, publicly held company, Faiveley. They have grown their stock – I think I made a note of it – their stock has gone up by 28% in the last six months.
This notion that when we get our organization focused on making a difference to customers, that we're going to become some airy-fairy, touchy-feely company, is absolutely false. We actually make a lot more money.
Brendan Byrnes owns shares of Ford and General Motors Company. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Ford and General Motors Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.