Grow Your Business with the Right People

grow your businessDo you want to grow your business? If you do then you must have the right people. In Jim Collins book “Good to Great” he says you have to make sure that “the right people are on the bus”. This means that you as a leader must know the strengths and motivation of each person on your team, as well as how the individual impacts the performance of the team. Recognizing a person’s talent and then managing it creates a motivated and engaged workforce. Failure to hire the right people for the jobs and not putting people in positions where their talent can soar is a waste of a company’s resources. Southwest Airlines set itself apart from the industry by hiring and developing people who are a natural fit for the company and the jobs they were hired for. The result has been an engaged workforce, low turnover and great customer loyalty.

Let’s look at how having the wrong people in place can cost your company dearly even at entry level positions. I was with a friend waiting in line at Starbucks as he was paying for his $8.00 grand latte supreme. The young woman at the cash register said, “That”ll be $8.00 please. Boy that’s expensive!” In that moment of truth my friend looked at me and said with a chuckle, “She’s right.” He paid and left with his prized coffee. But he stopped going there deciding his coffee money was better spent at 7-11 at $2.00 a pop. Situations like this are as preventable as they are unfortunate. The right person with the right training would never have made this comment. The right people will help you grow your business while the wrong people will sink it.

Marissa Levin, CEO of Information Experts has grown her $15 million award winning business through hiring the right people. Levin explains her company secret to hiring , “When we look at employees, there are three things that we have to look at. And this is a rule of thumb pretty much for everybody, any organization. It’s called the GWC Principle. Do they get it? Do they want it? And do they have the capacity to do it? So as we look not only at new hires, but at the existing people as we shuffle them around and reorganize and grow, we have to look at people and say, “Do they get it? Do they really get what they’re supposed to be doing? Do they want it? Do they have the passion for it? And do they have the capacity? Do they have the physical capacity, the intellectual capacity, and the emotional capacity? Whatever the capacity may be, do they have the capacity to do it?” And not all employees in every position are going to have the get it, want it and have the capacity to do it factor.” Use the GWC Principle to grow your business.

To grow his cloud hosting business Matthew Porter, CEO of Contegix pays a finders fee to employees of $20,000. He puts his money where his mouth is because he understands that without the right talent his company won’t grow. How much is the right employee worth to help you grow your business?

In a competitive marketplace having the right human capital is critical to surviving and ultimately thriving. Make sure that you spend the needed time, energy and thought to hire and develop the right people to grow your business.

How to Retain Customers in the New Economy

Learning how to retain customers is essential for surviving in the New Economy. Without customers you have no bushow to retain customersiness so caring for them and nurturing relationships with them seems like an obvious strategy. Think again. Poor customer service is the number one reason customers stop doing business with their current supplier/provider. In fact according to a Harris Interactive study 86% of consumers stop doing business with a company due to poor customer service.

Companies spend huge amount of their budget attracting customers to their business only to lose them due to the customer experience they deliver. Trying to grow your business without a solid customer service program in place is like trying to fill a bucket with water that has gaping holes in it. Unless you fill the holes you’ll never fill the bucket.

What holes should you fill first? It depends on your business but to a Right Now study the top three customer service problems were:

  • 73% Rude staff
  • 55% Issues weren’t resolve in a timely manner
  • 51% untrained staff

Also according to the US Small Business Administration 68% of customers stops doing business with a company due to indifference. This means if you want to drive your customers away in droves you should ignore them,treat them rudely, serve them with uninformed staff and make them wait for issues to be resolved.  This is an obvious recipe for disaster.

Most businesses know that it costs 5 to 6 times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an existing one and that existing customers are more profitable than new customers. So why don’t more companies do a better job learning how to retain customers? Lack of focus, training and follow up are the likely culprits. Many businesses seem to be saying, “I don’t have time to take care of my existing customers because I too busy chasing new ones!” If this is you or your business, STOP IT!!!

If you want to survive in the challenging times we live in you must fill the four biggest holes in your customer retention bucket. Put these simple, proven and powerful strategies in place starting today.

1. Pay attention to your customer. Don’t ignore them or take them for granted. Use whatever means available to you to cultivate a relationship with each and every customer.

2. Don’t hire rude employees and fire the ones who are. Companies like Zappos and Southwest Airlines take great care to hire people who are wired to give great service. If they are rude to anyone during the interviewing process they are rejected.

3. Train your people to effectively address your customers’ issues. Investing in the training of your front line staff is like making direct deposits in your customer relationships.

4. Resolve issues quickly, effectively and personally. Everybody makes a mistake. Admit it, resolve it and move on. 92% of customers who leave due to poor service would come back if they get and apology, receive a discount or get an invitation to observe improvement in customer service.

Implementing effective strategies in these four areas will give you a fighting chance to survive in a competitive marketplace.

If you want to thrive in the New Economy then you’ll need to up your customer service game and learn how to retain customers at whole new level. According to Peppers and Rogers Group 81% of the companies who excel in delivering customer experience are outperforming their competition. Customer  service excellence is a formidable competitive advantage. How does your company’s customer experience delivery stack up with your competitors?

To learn how well your company’s customer service initiative are contributing to your success take the Growth Positioning Survey.

Developing Salespeople While Coaching on the Run

One of the biggest casualties in the battle to “do more with less” is developing salespeople. With fiercer competition, shorter deadlines, and the urgent replac­ing the important, sales managers are starting to view developing salespeople as a luxury they just can’t developing peopleafford.

Although common, this approach to manage­ment is short-sighted and can lead to long-term disaster. Even with more demands on your time you must realize that developing salespeople isn’t something you do instead of your job. It is your job!

This means finding opportunities to make a difference as they present themselves.

The key to coaching on the run is the “hand in the bucket” test. When you put your hand in a bucket of water, the water level rises.  This is the case when a you spend time with a sales­person. While you are present, the sales­person’s level of perfor­mance is elevated.  The real test for developing salespeople occurs when you are no longer present. Does the salesperson’s performance return to the previous level, or does it stay elevat­ed?  In other words, did you leave something with the salesperson to make a real and lasting difference?

Before we discuss some of the specific aspects and techniques for coaching on the run, let’s review what it takes for salespeople to perform at their optimal level. Use the checklist below to determine if you’re giving your salespeople what they need to win.

Coaching Checklist for Developing Salespeople

  • Do your people have a clear understanding of what they are expected to do?
  • Do your people have clear standards for ac­ceptable performance?
  • Do your people have the authority and re­sourc­es to perform effectively?
  • Do your people encounter little task interfer­ence (e.g., conflicting goals, objectives, procedures,   etc?)
  • Do your people receive timely and accurate feedback on their performance?
  • Do your people receive positive conse­quences and reinforcement for performing the job as it’s supposed to be done?
  • Do your people experience negative conse­quences when they fail to perform?

These guidelines apply to performance in general, as well as specifics tasks and assignments. Use the questions to assess your coaching abilities and to analyze performance problems.

Each “no” represents a potential performance problem for developing salespeople. Taking action to convert your “no” respons­es to “yes” will go a long way toward improving your people’s performance.

Hiring the Right Candidate: The Final Decision

Hiring the right candidate for a sales position is a challenging task because if you miss the mark you lose time, money, enehiring thr right candidatergy and customers. I recognize that it is impossible to completely eliminate “hiring mistakes.” However, it is possible to significantly reduce them as well as minimizing their impact when they are made.

Even when you use a hiring process like Top Grading or though the Performance-Directed Selection System (PDSS) your emotions and intuition will still play a big role in the final decision. I look at the final decision being a 50/50 proposition.

Half the decision is technical in nature. It is based on all the quantifiable data, scorecards and information obtained from reviewing resumes, telephone screenings, personal interviews and reference checks. It may also involve your team’s assessment of the candidate’s ability to perform the job. This tells you that the candidate is a “fit” for the job.

The second half of the decision is interpersonal and emotional. It involves your intuitive feel and desire to manage the candidate you choose. This part of the decision is explores the candidate’s “fit” with you.

As a manager, you can’t ignore either part of the decision. An unqualified candidate you like will probably fail just as readily as the qualified candidate you don’t like. Hiring the right candidate requires you to consider both aspects.

The following procedures outlined in the Performance –Directed Selection System or other systems like Top Grading will allow you to place the candidates interviewed into two categories:

1) those that are qualified, and
2) those that are not.

Then you must assess the candidates that are qualified against the specific demands of the job. Finally, you must ask yourself, “Do I have the capability and desire to help make this candidate successful?”

If you can answer “yes” to that question, we feel that the odds of you hiring the right candidate are quite good.
For more information on Hiring Winners click here hiring-winners.

Leadership Lessons From Linsanity

Sports often provides good leadership lessons and this is true for the phenomena known as “Linsanity”. Even casual sports fans have heard about Linsanity the term that refers to the buzz being created by Jeremy Lin the New York Knlinsanityicks overnight sensation. Lin’s saga is like “Rocky Balboa plays in the NBA” because Lin wasn’t supposed to be doing what he’s doing.

Just to re-cap what Lin has done. The New York Knicks were struggling with a record several games below five hundred and playing without their best player.  Out of desperation Lin was inserted into the lineup and since then he has led the Knicks to seven wins in their last eight games. He’s averaging 25 points and more than nine assists per game while outplaying some of the best players in the NBA including Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki.

Why is this so special? Because according to all the experts and using all the data available to the NBA’s brain trusts Lin wasn’t supposed to be playing in the NBA let alone carrying a left for dead franchise on his back.

Lin was undrafted out of college because his stats and size weren’t anything special and he played at Harvard which isn’t known for producing NBA players.  Lin is also the first-ever American born player of Taiwanese descent.  The bottom line was Jeremy Lin just didn’t fit the established profile of an elite NBA player. Although he did make to the NBA he was cut twice this year before joining the Knicks. He saw little action and has averaged less than 3 points a game.

The coaches and experts who assess talent looked at Jeremy’s profile and used that to judge his ability to play basketball. It wasn’t until he was given a chance to actually play the game that the experts were proven wrong.

So what’s the lesson here for business leaders? The NBA like most businesses is looking for ways to minimize risk and to make good business decisions (i.e. selecting players). To that end they’ve developed metrics and profiles of what an elite NBA player looks like. However relying too heavily on the data can blind them from seeing real talent that exists outside the profile parameters.

This happens in business as well.  Business leaders spend more and more time looking at data and forget to look at the actual business.  As important as data and metrics are, business leaders must not confuse good data with good judgment.  In your efforts to quantify, systematize, incrementalize and operationalize all aspects of business you must not abdicate judgment. Data and metrics are supposed to help make decisions not make them for you.

Think back for a moment about the number of bad business decisions that you’ve seen that were made based on good data. The data said that this would be a great location; the data said that she would be a perfect candidate; the data said that we couldn’t miss. The list of examples is almost endless.

If you want a great basketball player watch him play basketball.  If you want to understand your customers better talk to them. If you want to engage your employees spend time with them.

Linsanity is a celebration of an individual who overcame the short comings of his “profile” by showcasing his talent where it mattered most… on the court. To apply the leadership lessons from Linsanity make sure that you celebrate your decisions where they count most by using data as a guide for your good judgement.

Sales Compensation Plans Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

    How effective is your sales compensation plan? Does it help you attract the  people you    need     and are you able to keep your top performers? If you’re not  satisfied with your compensation plan, you may have one or more of the following sales compensation plans pitfalls. As you review each one, think about your own sales  compensation plan.

1. One size fits all.

Having a uniform compensation plan may sound fair, but is rarely effective.  Unless all your salespeople enter your company with the same experience and do  exactly the same job, compensation becomes an issue. Such factors as size of the  territory, potential of the territory, types of accounts and experience of the  salesperson usually necessitates some adjustments in the compensation plan.

Tip: Make sure your compensation plan fits the various needs  and demands of your people, the job, and the company’s goals.

2. Punishing high performers.

Some companies have a philosophy of “how do we prevent our salespeople from  making too much money?” This approach de-motivates high performers. Basically,  the plan tells high performers “once you make this much, your income potential  stops… no matter how much extra revenue you could bring in for the  organization.” This doesn’t mean companies should give their people a blank  check. It means that if high performers can find ways to increase the company’s  revenues and profits, compensate them accordingly.

Tip: To maximize the potential of your sales force, give  worth-while incentives for your high performers. Give them a reason to  stretch

3. Subsidizing mediocrity. Many compensation plans set the  performance standard too low. Salespeople receive better than average  compensation for doing average performance. Plans that encourage salespeople to  “just make quota” settle for too little… and usually get it. High performing  organizations view quota as the minimal standard or starting point for achieving  financial success.

Tip: Make sure your plan is both challenging and  realistic.

4. Discouraging rookies. Most sales jobs take time to learn.  During this learning period, new salespeople usually produce less revenue and  make less than experienced salespeople. If the new salesperson can’t make enough  to live while learning the job, they will become discouraged and look for  another opportunity.

Tip: Create a compensation plan that helps salespeople make  the financial transition from rookie to an experienced salesperson.

5. Playing games with people’s paychecks. The quickest way  to destroy trust and de-motivate salespeople is to play games with their  paychecks. When any change, mistake, or adjustment to a paycheck happens handle  it quickly, accurately and with a proper explanation. If you change the pay  plan, make sure people understand it before rolling it out. If you miscalculated  a bonus or commission, correct it immediately. How you respond in these  situations is as important as what you actually do.

Tip: Be honest, direct and responsive in all actions that  impact salespeople’s actual paycheck.

6. Looking at compensation as a cost not an investment. The  goal of sales is to acquire customers. The goal of a compensation plan is to  motivate salespeople to acquire as many of the right type of customers as  possible. Managing compensation as a cost requires organizations to restrict it,  which in turn restricts the organization’s ability to acquire customers.  Managing compensation as an investment focuses on the return generated by the  compensation plan and not just the amount spent.

Tip: Develop a compensation plan that products the best  ROI.

7. Providing incentives for the urgent and not the  important. Why do so many companies experience peaks and valleys in  their sales? Often it’s because they only focus on short-term goals at the cost  of long-term growth. One company placed a premium on acquiring new business and  succeeded. However, they neglected their existing customer base and lost as many  existing customers as they gained new ones. Churning customers is a dangerous  and unprofitable practice. Remember, when you introduce an incentive for one  thing, something else suffers.

Tip: Before introducing an incentive, make sure you  understand its full impact.

8. Letting the compensation system manage performance.  Compensation plans give structure and incentives for the sales force. They  should support management’s goals and strategies, not replace effective  leadership and coaching. The compensation plan is a tool for managers to use  with other performance management tools and activities (i.e., performance  appraisals, forecasting, training, etc.) to maximize sales performance

Tip: Integrate the compensation plan with your other  performance management tools to maximize performance.

9. Failing to teach people how to win. One definition of  motivation is “winning is fun and losing isn’t.” If this is the case, a  manager’s job is to help his/her salespeople win. Since the compensation plan  provides the rules of the game, managers must show their people how to play and  win the game. This is particularly true when you introduce a new compensation  plan or for new people. Showing them how to win motivates and invites  loyalty.

Tip: Know how to win with your compensation plan and teach  your people how to do it.

10. Overlooking the power of psychic compensation. Money is  a strong motivator, but it’s not the only motivator. By leveraging such psychic  compensation as recognition, praise, feedback, teamwork etc., you can elevate  your sales organization’s performance to new levels.

Tip: Besides money, find out what winning is for each  salesperson. Then help them make their personal wins.

Summary How many of the pitfalls have you experienced? How  many are exist with your compensation plan? Developing the right compensation  plan requires a careful analysis of such factors as:

• The market

• Your work unit (region, office, etc.)

• The Company

• Your Personnel

• Your Goals

• The Resources / Tools Available

This analysis helps you develop a sales compensation plan tailored to your  needs. Take the time and effort required and both you and your people will be  justly rewarded.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6435518

Are You Committed to Leading Change?

leading changeA critical measure of success in leading change is your commitment.  Once you’ve weighed the options, given others a chance for input and settled on the best course of action.  You must be resolute, even passionate about your determination to follow through.  If you can’t be excited about where the organization is going, how can you expect your people to be.

Don’t try to reduce resistance by softening your position.  This is taken as a sign of weakness and becomes a rallying point for resisters. Keep in mind that in times of uncertainty, actions speak louder than words.  If pushed to the limit, you make have to make an example of someone who resists.  When this happens, make it a high profile person and make it public.  Your objective is to send a message to the others to get on board.

Change often has casualties.  This may seem heartless but it’s true. Resisters resist because they choose to do so.  They are the ones who put you in a position to choose them or the change effort.  If your change effort is worthy, the choice is an easy one.

In times of change, people gravitate to the people who have the most conviction about the future. Don’t initiate change you yourself aren’t committed to.  People will look to you for answers and to show them how to act.  If you’re certain, confident and act with congruence, they will follow.  If you lack those qualities, they will seek those that do.

Remember, you can’t manage change, you can only lead it.  When you lead change, people will follow.  So, if you’re in charge of change, lead it.  The resisters will either join the parade or voluntarily drop out.

Why Mistakes are Essential in Training Salespeople

As a trainer, you help your salespeople identify and work on skills that need strengthening.  You set up training programs because it is your responsibility to provide opportunities where salespeople try new behaviors and feel comfortable to fail.  That is, you encourage salespeople explore new techniques and skills in a neutral setting where mistakes are expected (even encouraged) and used as learning experiences.  Keep the formula below in mind when working with your people.

        MISTAKES + INSIGHT = LEARNING

Keeping the training focused is another way to insure successful training.  If you have salespeople work on too many skills at a time, they can become frustrated and de-motivated.  It’s usually a good idea to allow salespeople to master one skill before having them tackle another one.

To use the baseball analogy again, your interest as a manager lies not in the training but in how the training affects the overall ability of each player and of the team as a whole to perform.  You will initially select low-risk situations for the players to try new skills.  In this way, the chances for success and building confidence are high.  For example, you allow the pitcher to try a new pitch against the team in last place or against hitters with low batting averages or if his team has a comfortable lead in a game.  You would not let your pitcher try a new pitch in the ninth inning of a tied game in the World Series.

As a manager, your interest lies in how the new skill enhances the overall performance of the salespeople.  Once outside the training program, it is your responsibility to help salespeople initially selects opportunities where the risk of failure in using the new skill is relatively low.  This allows salespeople to achieve some immediate, initial success and builds their confidence.  Letting salespeople try new skills that are not fully developed on large accounts invites failure and a loss of confidence.

The Secret to Solidifying the Customer Relationship

Solidifying the customer relationship is essential for sustainable sales, profits and customer loyalty. This means you must manage the  relationship through the entire customer experience. From first encounter to asolidifying the customer relationship customer becoming a raving fan every customer touch either adds to a positive experience or detracts from it. How you handle each touch determines the direction of the relationship. We call  these touches moments of truth.

The Problem

One of the essential moments of truth in solidifying the customer relationship is when the product arrives or service begins.  When people make a purchase decision, they are, in effect, buying a promise that the product or service will deliver certain benefits.  If the product or service does deliver on its promise, the relationship is enhanced.  However, if the product doesn’t deliver, the relationship is in jeopardy.  Consider the impact if you had to wait an hour for your food at McDonald’s, or you were totally ignored at Nordstrom’s department store.  You would be disappointed because your expectations weren’t met.  This rarely (if ever) happens at these two companies because they train their people to successfully manage this moment of truth.  Many salespeople miss the opportunity to solidify the customer relationship because they are off to the next sale.

 The Solution

Personally delivering the product or contacting the customer when service starts is essential for building long and productive sales relationships.  To maximize the success of this approach be sure to do the following:

  • Reinforce the original reasons why the customer decided to buy.  This will support the customer’s original decision, preventing buyer’s remorse.
  • Identify issues or concerns.  If there is a problem, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate responsiveness and commitment to customer satisfaction.

Establish positive, realistic expectations for the product or service.  Make sure the customer is properly educated so that he or she can take full advantage of the purchase.  Address potential problems immediately.

Following these simple but powerful steps will go a long way towards solidifying customer relationships and enhancing your sales success.