The New Global Economy Update

Now is a good time to take a quick look at the new global economy. The first quarter is behind us and trends are beginning to take shape. This update on the new global economy is designed to give business leaders a heads up on factors that can have a direct and indirect impact on their business. If you are looking to grow your business or avoid becoming a business casualty this is for you.

During my research for my book “Leadership in the New Economy” many business leaders felt that they would be immune to factors playing out in the new global economy. To them these factors were benign threats on the distant horizon of their business reality. Although they didn’t experience a direct hit due to global trends they found themselves in their wake which produce unexpected setbacks.

Please use these examples as a yellow flag for your business. Consider their potential impact and adjust your plans accordingly.

  • Our Export business is softening. After two years of impressive growth the Administration’s goal of doubling exports from $1.58 billion to $3.15 billion in five years is in serious jeopardy. With China and India decelerating their economies from the double digit growth of the past economists are predicating sluggish growth for the next couple of years. We can’t sell our goods to a market that is growing at a significantly slower pace. Who in your value chain or customer base can be impacted by a significant slow down in our export business?
  •  Business investment is declining. According to USA Today, “Investment climbed just 1.4% a forth of its late 2011 pace, which helped limit the economy’s growth to 2.2%.” This rate is below most experts forecast for 2012. How will reduced investment by businesses impact you and the local marketplaces in which you operate?
  • Unemployment in Europe reaches record high with 17.4 million workers unemployed. At 10.9% this is the highest rate since the Euro was installed. Compounding the impact of high unemployment is the fact that the austerity programs in place to reduce the counties’ debt have had poor results in lifting the economy. The rising borrowing costs, political infighting and social unrest promise to keep the European economy unsettled for the foreseeable future. How could prolonged unrest in Europe impact your investments, business and local economies?
  • Job gains in the US hit 7 month low. According to payroll giant ADP’s April jobs report the US added just 119,000 jobs. This is the second month in a row that the results were disappointing. Although many experts predict an upswing in May they remain cautious in their predictions for the year. Is this just a blip or the beginning of a stall? How will your business fare if the jobs growth stays soft?
  • Best Buy is down sizing. Like many big box retail stores the electronics chain had a poor forth quarter and an loss for the year. In an attempt to right the ship Best Buy recently reported that they will be trimming costs by cutting 400 job, closing 50 stores and downsizing many others. This is an example of a big company trying to “Right Size” their business to compete in the realities of the new global economy. By matching their business operations to the market demand Best Buy hopes to pull itself out of the red ink and into the black. Is your business in need of “right sizing”? It’s always easier to do it early instead of waiting until it may be too late.
  • Black Berry changes leadership team and launches new market strategy to stop the bleeding. After seeing its stock shrink 90% since 2008, its market share retreat from 14% to 8.2% and feeling the heat of five straight quarter of sales short falls the smart phone company is shaking things up. By installing a new leadership team led by Thorten Heim and unveiling a new market strategy RIM hopes to stop the slide into smart phone oblivion.Experts aren’t sold on their new strategy and CEO Heim  admitted that he was wrong in his January assessment the company didn’t need to make “drastic changes”. what kind of drastic changes lie ahead? You’ll have to stay tuned. Many experts feel their best chance of survival is to put the”for sale” sign up.  When a market leader starts losing touch with its customers and fails to deliver solutions that the market demands the fall from grace can be rapid and often fatal. How well does your company deliver solutions to your customer base? If your market position is weakening are you poised to respond effectively?

The lessons you can learn from these examples about the new global economy is that there are many factors in play that can be disruptive to your business even if they seem in like they’re in the distance. Successful leaders identify the indicators that can impact their business and carefully keep their eyes on the horizon looking for trends that may be the tip of  the economic ice berg. They know that “shift happens”, often unexpectedly so they remain poised to respond.

Although the example given represent potential dangers the new global economy also represent tremendous opportunities. Joseph Grobler COO of  Reveal a company says,This is the absolute best time to be in business because the growth opportunities are unbelievable”

Other companies who have successfully positioned themselves for growth include :

The CEOs of these companies have business plans in place that ensure that they are responsive to their customers and are alert to the market dynamics that can surface in the new global economy. If you’d like to discover how well your business is positioned to grow take the Growth Positioning Survey by clicking here.  I’ll also send you a copy of the Special Report:Welcome to the New Economy: Discover the 12 Biggest CEO Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.

Corporate Culture and Leadership in the New Economy

Corporate culture and leadership are essential in the New Economy. Why? Because in turbulent times it’s imperative that organizations have a clear sense of direction and purpose. Not having everyone on the same page results in chronic organizational dysfunctionAligning Vision, Values, Mission and Culture in the New Economy where employees and departments are working at cross purposes by pursuing conflicting goals. Remember every misalignment squanders your company’s ITEAM *(Information, Time, Energy, Attention and Motivation) and drains your profits. (*Mike Jay, B-Coach)

Many companies may have a written mission, vision and values statement but most fail to formally develop their cultures. Because leaders put off the heavy work of erecting the scaffolding of values, policies, shared beliefs, rewards, rituals, and visual elements that form culture, a void is created. In that void, culture happens spontaneously, organically and usually chaotically. Culture becomes an aggregation of random decisions made by different people in particular circumstances. The notion is that if the people are good, decent and competent, chances are, the culture be good, decent and competent as well. This approach is a recipe for disaster. As the leader your biggest responsibility is creating a culture that is scalable and sustainable. With or without direction nature and nurture will combine to form organizational DNA that informs your people of “how we do things”. This message grows more visible and pervasive over time.

Many successful entrepreneurs aren’t content to leave their corporate culture and leadership to chance. From the beginning they select people, implement policies and clarify what’s important at every step of the way. Because they want a culture that can sustain itself these leaders believe in culture by design.

“If you don’t define the culture and you don’t work on it and you don’t progress it even when it’s 2-3 people, it’ll define itself. And it’ll define itself really quick, and it may not be the one that you like.” -Matthew Porter, CEO Contegix

Large organizations with well-developed cultures often neglect them resulting in the culture changing into something at odds with the organization’s vision and stated values.

A good example of corporate culture and leadership that went awry is AIG. According to Corporate Culture: The Ultimate Strategic Asset*, AIG’s failure during the global financial crisis of 2008-09 in part can be attributed to misaligned values and a changed culture. AIG had as a core competency managing risks and a culture where anyone could challenge a trade. Under Joseph Cassano, the financial products group sold hundreds of billions of credit protection in the form of CDs without having to put up any real money as collateral. As sales grew the group took on more and more risk. Under Cassano’s leadership the culture evolved into one in which transactions couldn’t be criticized. When, in the financial crisis of 2008, investment banks sought insurance money for their collapsing derivatives, AIG could not deliver and received a bail-out from the taxpayers. A culture of growth at any cost overshadowed the old culture of managing risk and the rest as they say is history. (*Corporate Culture: The Ultimate Strategic Asset, Eric Flamholtz and Yvinne Randle,Stanford University Press 2011)

Many successful organizations like FedEx, IBM, Amgen and Disney have “woken up” to find that their corporate culture and leadership weren’t aligned with their vision. This “Ah Ha moment” forced leaders to impose a cultural re-alignment. This was a painful process (IBM laid off 60% of its workforce).

When you look at your company’s corporate culture and leadership what do you see? Are your company’s Culture, Mission, Vision and Values aligned so everybody in the organization understands and acts congruently with them? Take the Growth Positioning Survey and discover where your company stands.

Say Goodbye to the Status Quo

It’s time to say goodbye to the status quo. In the New Economy you can’t afford to lead by looking in the rear view mirror, holding on to the status quo and doing more of what you’ve always done. (How did that work for Kodak, RIM, and Hostess to name a few?)  Instead stay focused on your vision and the road ahead.  As a CEO or business owner you must leave the state of denial and wake up to the fact that it’s not gosay goodye to the status quoing to be business as usual…even if it may seem like it now. Shift happens and things can change in a hurry. First Solar, the solar energy panel manufacturer, was racking up record sales and profits over the past several years and was even named the fastest-growing tech company by Forbes in February of 2011. However, before the end of the year the company’s financial foundation was shaken with softening demand and cheap competition forcing dramatically lower prices and profits and the CEO being forced out so that new leadership could be brought in to deal with the new marketplace.

Experience is the best teacher but the cost is often prohibitive. You can crash your company on the rocks of the New Economy or you can learn from the CEOs who’ve gone before you. Now is the time to develop a new mindset and start looking at the marketplace and your business with new eyes and listening for different signals so that you don’t get lulled into a trance by short periods of the “familiar”.

As a CEO you must learn to become comfortable with these three answers to almost any question you may ask:

  • I don’t know
  • It depends
  • We’ll need to test that

Instead of feeling compelled to have your people give you definitive answers that indicate certainty, embrace the opportunity that exists in the unknown. Instead of accepting compliant answers to complex issues, create dialogue by gaining facts about what’s really happening. Surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth. Develop the discipline of constantly testing, challenging and validating your assumptions as you move forward.

By challenging the status quo instead of trying to preserve it you create a dynamic organization that is better attuned to compete in a fast changing marketplace.

In what ways are you constructively challenging the status quo so that you can learn, adapt and grow?

Welcome to the New Economy!!!

If you own or run a business today you know we’re experiencing an economy that is different than anyone has seen in the past. Our current business landscape is filled with one crisis after another. Like waves on a beach they just keep pounding away. Here are a few of the economic “challenges’ we’re facing:Welcome to the New Economy

  • Unemployment and underemployment is impacting 20-25% of the workforce and recovery is expected to be both slow and painful
  • 11 million homeowners are upside down on their mortgages with little or no options on the horizon
  • The Baby Boomers lost 30-40% of their wealth over the past few years
  • Our debt ceiling/budget crisis is hopelessly deadlocked in DC
  • Local and state budget deficits are becoming more common
  • Financial uncertainty in Europe is spreading as nine countries saw their Standard & Poor’s credit rating downgraded in January 2012.
  • The economy in China is slowing down and prices are increasing on imported goods.
  • Consumer confidence continues to be low

Welcome to the New Economy. What do I mean by the New Economy? In the past, periods of economic slowdowns were followed by calm seas and long periods of steep recovery. Today recoveries still occur but they’re more fragmented, shorter and less steep. Unfortunately the economy and business aren’t going to return to “the good old days any time soon, if ever. What we see is what we’ll be getting for the foreseeable future. For up to a decade or longer volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) will be our constant companions. The choice is to embrace the New Economy or surrender to it.

For many businesses the New Economy represents a real and present danger. To others it represents tremendous opportunity.

Which one are you?

As a business leader there are several options available to you for navigating this tough economy including:

  • Ignoring the economic mine fields and continue “business as usual”.
  • Taking a defensive approach by cutting costs and reducing spending until the crisis is over.
  • Taking advantage of the uncertainty in the marketplace and growing aggressively.

Which approach is best for your business? It depends. There is no “cookie cutter”, textbook response for surviving or thriving in the New Economy. We can look back at how businesses thrived in the Great Depression and in the down turns in the 1980s and 2000. You can also observe and learn from what thriving companies are doing now. These approaches can give clues but no approach will work unless you have a clear understanding of where your business is right now and where you see it going in the future. From those two perspectives you can begin assessing your marketplace, competitors, customers, employees and business operations to craft a strategic business plan. Your plan, strong leadership and effective execution are what you’ll need to survive and hopefully thrive in the New Economy.

Sales Management Strategies: Making Sales Calls with Your Reps

In today’s demanding marketplace sales managers must have strategies for increasing sales and developing people. Besides enhancing relationships with customers making calls is the best opportunity to do both. This article outlines strategies for making three different sales calls that will drive sales and develop your people. They are:

• Training
• Joint
• Coaching

Each has a different purpose, strategy and the roles for both you and the salesperson are also different.

Training calls teach the salesperson how to do a specific aspect of the job. Your make the presentation while the salesperson observes. The key to a success is for you to demonstrate proper selling skills and techniques. Your job is to give the salesperson an effective model and make sure the salesperson understands how to perform the aspect of the job you have demonstrated. Before the call, make sure the salesperson knows:

  • The objectives (both performance and development)
  • The skills or techniques you are demonstrating
  • His/her role

After, be sure to review the following:

  • Were the objectives achieved?
  • What helped?
  • What hindered?
  • How else could the call have been made?

Joint calls support a team approach. Both you and the salesperson have defined roles and responsibilities. Before, make sure you review the following:

  • The objectives (both performance and development)
  • The strategy
  • What role will each person play?
  • Who is responsible for each segment of the call?
  • How will you interact during the call?

After, you should discuss:

  • Were the objectives met?
  • What helped?
  • What hindered?
  • How could the call have been improved?
  • Who is responsible for following up on commitments made during the call (if any)?

Coaching calls are designed for you to observe and assess the salesperson’s performance. The salesperson’s role is to make the sales call. Your role is to observe and offer feedback after the call. Coaching calls are a true test of your listening and observing skills, not your selling skills. Before, be sure to cover:

  • The objectives (both performance and development)
  • The strategy
  • Responses to obstacles that may come up

After, discuss the following:

  • Were the objectives met?
  • What helped (what were the salesperson’s strengths)?
  • What hindered (what were the salesperson’s improvement opportunities)?
  • How could the call have been improved or handled differently?
  • What actions need to be taken next

Seating relative to the customer is important on each situation. The key is for you to situate yourself consistent with the agreed upon role and objectives. Use these guidelines:

Training calls-Position yourself closest to the customer so that the salesperson can observe easily. Also the proximity to the customer establishes that you are taking the lead.

Joint Calls-Sit side by side with the salesperson. This signals equality of your roles and makes it easy for “handing off” to each other.

Coaching calls– The salesperson should be closest to the customer making sure that you are out of the salesperson’s peripheral view. This positioning establishes the salesperson as the lead and helps prevent the salesperson from presenting to you instead of the customer.

To increase sales you need a well-trained and high performing sale force.Making sales calls with your salespeople gives you the greatest leverage points for developing them and making sales. To make sure you have successful call strategies set clear expectations and define roles.



Increase Sales with Your Time Management Practices

Want to increase sales? Analyzing your time management practices is a great  place to start. Time management practices are what you do and how you normally  manage your time. Research shows that effective time management practices are  one of the greatest contributors to high performance.

Time management practices reflects what you routinely say “yes” to as well as  what you say “no” to. It is these moments of decision that separate the higher  performers from the also rans. High performers are proactive because of the time  management they develop. They gain an unfair advantage over their competitors  because they attack the marketplace based on their personal strengths and  knowledge instead of reacting to the conditions set by others.

Because they are more strategic in their approach to their jobs, high  performing salespeople are able to keep focused on what’s important. They employ  clarity of purpose, consistent communication to the marketplace, commitment to  taking right action and the discipline to execute. These salespeople achieve  excellent results because they know:

  • Their clients and the pain they are experiencing.
  • How their product addresses the pain.
  • What message clients need to hear to make a decision.
  • How to move their clients from decision to implementation.
  • When they can’t win.

Because they have a clear and consistent strategy for approaching the  marketplace, they are able to focus on important and winnable sales  opportunities. They don’t get distracted by periodic “road kills” that  may litter the highway of a major sale. They also don’t get seduced by the  allure of landing the “big elephant” when their chances of winning are slim or  none.

The quickest way to zap your time and income is to spend $1,000 in selling  effort to land a $100 commission.

To make sure they are pursuing the right opportunities, they ask themselves:

  • Is there a fit between the client’s needs and my solution?
  • Can I win?
  • Is it worth pursuing?

By developing the discipline to ask these questions regularly, answer them  honestly and then acting on the answers, successful salespeople are able to say  “yes” to the right opportunities and “no” to the wrong ones.

One key time management practice is mentally planning the day before it  begins by visualizing what you need to do for the entire day. Research from a  variety of organizations determined that this practice is one of the most  distinguishable characteristics among high performance people. The techniques  used may vary from formulating a “to do list” just before going to bed, to  planning the day while showering. But, high performers develop the specific  discipline of mentally starting the day before the activities actually  begin.

Remember, if you don’t manage your time someone else will. Commit yourself  improving your time management practices and watch your sales increase

For a Free Assessment of your time management practices go to:

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Are You Pursuing The Right Sales Opportunities?

Success in today’s competitive marketplace often comes down to pursuing the right sales opportunities. This article explains why this is important and how you can make sure that you do it effectively?

The Problem

Many sales forecasts are missed and sales careers sabotaged by salespeople spending their time pursing the wrong sales opportunities.  This usually occurs because the salesperson reacts to the marketplace instead of attacking it strategically.

The Solution

High performing salespeople are more strategic because they focus on what’s important.

What sets these high performers apart is their ability to employ clarity of purpose, consistent communication to the marketplace, commitment to taking right action and the discipline to execute. These salespeople achieve excellent results because they know:

  • Their clients and the pain they are experiencing.
  • How their product addresses the pain.
  • What message clients need to hear to make a decision.
  • How to move their clients from decision to implementation.
  • When they can’t win.

Because they have a clear and consistent strategy for approaching the marketplace, they are able to focus on important and winnable sales opportunities.  They don’t get distracted by periodic “road kills” that may litter the highway of a major sale.  They also don’t get seduced by the allure of landing the “big elephant” when their chances of winning are slim or none.  The quickest way to zap your time and income is to spend $1,000 in selling effort to land a $100 commission.

To make sure they are pursuing the right sales opportunities, they ask themselves:

  • Is there a fit between the client’s needs and my solution?
  • Can I win?
  • Is it worth pursuing?

By developing the discipline to ask these questions regularly, answer them honestly and then acting on the answers.  Successful salespeople are able to say “yes” to the right opportunities and “no” to the wrong ones.