Last week I held a sold-out Executive Breakfast event at The Four Seasons in Toronto. Between colds, April snowstorms(!!!), and unexpected travel we had 14 dynamic and insanely-successful CEOs arrive Tuesday morning–bright and early–at the swanky location

Needless to say, this was one incredible event. Every guest in attendance said they would attend again.

There is NOTHING as powerful as putting yourself together in a learning environment like this and being able to harness the collective brain power of many really smart people all from different walks of life, with different perspectives and experiences, all collaborating and convening together the power of their brains, experiences, and minds! A few takeaways can be worth millions of untapped revenues for your organization.

I wanted to share some of the key learning points from our discussion.

Here are eight key lessons from last week’s Executive Breakfast event!

#1) Word-of-mouth and Referrals still rule the roost! Word-of-mouth and referrals are still the driving force of success for many organizations. Can we create better systems to generate referrals? See THIS article I wrote for the Globe and Mail for a few tips.

#2) Speaking positions you or your company as the “expert.” Consider educational events like this one. Look for new and innovate ways to “speak” and share your content. Many large companies are making headway with online video.

#3) Keep your content simple! Just as I’m sending a weekly email with a single valuable insight, your company should also be “Tidbiting” on a regular basis in a way that makes sense for you.

#4) Loyalty programs and customer/client rewards or incentives have typically been built upon extrinsic motivators (external rewards, such as cash back, points, discounts, and more stuff) as opposed to intrinsic motivators (internal reward, such as status and recognition). Consider a mix of the two. Research has shown and people are more motivated by intrinsic desires. Do you know of new ways you could reward your top 20% of customers/clients? Consider a breakfast event like this one. Don’t underestimate the power of a personal phone call, or a hand-written letter to express your gratitude.

#5) Sales – Whose role really is it? Research has also shown that, to our surprise, it’s NOT the ?experience that matters most, but the memories created from the experience. FIRST and LAST impressions are key. Everyone in your organization has the ability to be the first point of contact, or the one who creates a memory! Is everyone in your organization prepared?

#6) Recognize the importance of SHOPPING YOUR OWN COMPANY! Here are a couple of simple tests:

Try and get yourself on the phone.
Have a friend or trusted colleague test how complaints are handled!

Don’t suffer from Undercover Boss Syndrome! Every 90 days consider testing your customer service, sales processes, post-purchase follow-up, etc.

#7) Responsiveness wins! Guests asked why I chose The Four Seasons? Easiest answer – They were the most responsive. How ?responsive is your company to sales and service requests?

#8) You should constantly be gauging your customer’s feedback. They’re your best source of information. Don’t underestimate the power of asking customers if they understand your positioning, sales and marketing collateral, value proposition etc. Try to be constantly gauging how the customer/client is truly feeling at various points in the process.