By Dr. Janice Presser

For your organization, every person and every advisor you need to hire represents a critical commitment of your company’s available time and cash. In essence, you trade those resources for the knowledge and skill (intellectual assets), contacts (social capital), and the pure energy, ideas, and actions you expect that person to bring to your company.

But what if you could get some of same resources without having to give up any of your precious funds?
You can – if you put your customers – and those who you’d like to have as customers – on your team!  Here are three ways to start:

1. Stop thinking of customers as ‘them’. Customers are stakeholders who can help you move and shape your vision.  Try posing a provocative question that will trigger thoughtful responses.  For instance, my company created a completely new technology to predict how people perform in teams, but we were struggling to find a way to properly present it. So I started asking, ‘Why do people say they want team players, and then hire people who aren’t?’  Instant reaction!  We not only got some great feedback, but some of our customers even went out and recruited other customers for us!

When a company is in the early stages of development, input from vision-oriented people can be especially valuable, and ‘Vision’ people are intrigued by big-picture questions. They’ll probably give you good advice, so make sure you let them know how you’ve used it.

2. Add some customers to your marketing R&D team. Find a low-risk way, if you can, to get them engaged in using your service to deliver some real business value.  If you know they have a problem that you can solve, let them apply your solution (at least once) at no charge.  We learned pretty quickly that if we gave people enough product to use for one solution, they would experience the value of a pre-hire positive I.D. on real team-players, and it would bring them back for more.

3. Give someone a reason to feel good! It was Benjamin Franklin who said “If you want to make a friend, ask a favor.”  Good team players actually LIKE to help others out. Whether you need a source of information, a second opinion, a pep talk, or some help getting something done but no resources to pay for it, there’s probably someone who will take on that job and be happy to share with you what they’ve found.  But not until you ask!  Just be sure to let them know how valuable their input is, and be very clear in letting them know that when they need your help for something, you will give it gladly. You’ll end up just a little bit closer to someone who now feels they have a stake in your success.  Remember, people who are good at finding things you need are also good at finding people who need exactly what you are selling.

So how’s business?  How’s your team?  Are you working with them…or without them?

Dr. Janice Presser is CEO of The Gabriel Institute, creator of TGI Teamability™, the technology of teaming, a completely new way to predict how people will perform in teams.  She blogs at and tweets as @DrJanice.


Are Your Customers on Your Team?

Author: Rick Zabor

Engineer / Scientist / Researcher turned Recruiter in 1987. Interested in the best way to do things and mixing with people who have passions for life. Writes on topics important to building winning teams and personal growth and accomplishment. Connect with me on Linkedin. Lives in Atlanta, GA.