Upset Clients? How to Flip Frowns Upside Down

By Eden Gillott Bowe

You’re a seasoned business traveler. There’s no traffic on your way to the airport because you know all the shortcuts. TSA waves you through with a smile. You even snag a spot for your luggage in the overhead compartment. All is wonderful in your world.

Then you hear an altercation, which turns into screaming and pleading. Welcome to United’s Flight 3411 from O’Hare to Louisville: a classic case of exactly how not to treat customers or clients.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

Practice mindful listening. Think back to the last time you felt truly listened to. Made you feel pretty good, right? In today’s hyper-connected world, people want results immediately and attention spans are shorter than ever. Train yourself to focus your attention on your clients. Make sure you’re truly listening rather than simply waiting for your turn to speak.

Put yourself in the client’s shoes. Based on what you hear, you’re better equipped to see things from their point of view. A multitude of things could be going on in their lives, and it’s up to you to cut through the noise and figure it out. What might they be going through? Are they directing their aggression towards you even though it’s really meant for someone else? Is it their busy season, so they’re complaining about having “yet another thing on my plate”?

Treat others like you’d like to be treated. This goes hand-in-hand with putting yourself in the client’s shoes. Don’t you prefer when someone listens to you and helps get to the bottom of an issue instead of treating you like an inconvenience?

No one wants to be on the receiving end of an angry email. One wedding caterer ended up in the hot seat after an employee went off on a client over “excessive” demands. The client then took to the internet to show the world what shockingly horrible customer service the company had. After months of bad press, word of mouth, and slumping business, the company threw in the towel and shuttered itself.

Some people simply enjoy complaining and won’t be happy with anything. Sometimes no matter how nice you are to clients, they have a permanently bad attitude. They don’t always channel their feelings properly. As a result, a domino effect of bad vibes ripples through their lives. Don’t pass it on.

Be careful what you put into writing. This is a double-edged sword and can be extremely dangerous if it’s not wielded properly. On one side, it’s good to document actions that were taken in order to CYA. On the other (more dangerous) side, committing things to writing may come back to bite you later. For example, don’t put confidential information in an email to someone who isn’t covered under privilege. Nor should you talk negatively about another person because, unbeknownst to you, they may be BCC’d when you hit Reply All.

WHAT TO DISCUSS WITH YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAM

What’s your current protocols for responding to unhappy clients? If you don’t have a system, get one fast.

Who’s responsible for responding to complaints? Does it make the most sense for the account manager or owner to respond? It depends on the nature of the situation. To the extent possible, empower those who work directly with clients with the flexibility to make decisions and take corrective action.

What form(s) is most appropriate? Automated email, personalized email, or telephone? Depending on the situation, it may also be beneficial have a combination.

What are you willing to do for the client? When’s it better to change vs. incurring the cost of attracting a new client? Does this vary depending on the client? If so, what are the cutoffs or metrics?

Are you receiving multiple complaints about the same thing? If so, how do you improve your offerings? Is this an opportunity for growth or a new service line? Can you reduce returns of defective products by looking at production?

Are clients researching you beforehand or are they pre-sold? More and more, clients are looking at online review sites such as Google, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Trip Advisors, etc. Hence the first time potential clients “meet” you is online. Make sure your pages properly reflect your level of service.

NOW WHAT?

Breathe. If you feel you’re ready for battle or stressed out, take a moment to recalibrate.

Listen. You’d be amazed what you learn. There’s a reason you have two ears and one mouth.

Don’t take it personally (even if it is). This is especially hard when it’s about a decision you made, initiative you spearheaded, or a company you started. It’s your baby.

Don’t be defensive. No one wants to talk to someone who is confrontational.

Repeat back what you heard (or think you understand). Make sure the conversation is based on clarity. This reduces or eliminates miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Prepare (or refine) your customer service response plan. Now that you’ve brainstormed with your management team, put it into action.

Enhance your service and product offerings based on client feedback. Take customer service lemons and turn them into lemonade.

Learn more from wins and misses. When you document clients’ complaints/frustrations, don’t let them sit in a drawer and gather dust. Learn from them and make improvements.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2017

Eden Gillott Bowe is President of strategic communications firm Gillott Communications http://www.gillottcommunications.com/ and is a former business professor. She resolves issues both in and outside the media’s glare — from celebrity scandals and corporate fraud to criminal and civil litigation. Eden’s been interviewed about brands in crisis by the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, the Washington Post, and Forbes. She’s worked in Manhattan, Seoul, and Los Angeles. She is the author of A Board Member’s Guide to Crisis PR and A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.  We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

Ten Surefire Ways to Improve Your Sales Calls to Meet Monthly & Quarterly Goals

By Rob Hupp

In pursuing and successfully closing business with prospective clients or customers, it is often necessary to conduct one or more sales calls. Depending on the nature of your business (and location of your prospect), these calls can be biz man phone callconducted in person or by phone. The experience and information shared in this article are applicable to either type of sales call.

The purpose of the sales call is for both seller and buyer to determine whether or not there is sufficient overlap between the buyer’s needs and seller’s capabilities to merit considering doing business together. If this critical overlap is present, there are a number of questions, issues and challenges that both parties need to discuss and work out to achieve a mutually-beneficial business arrangement. The ten tips in this article are for sellers endeavoring to conduct more effective sales calls with their prospective buyers. (That said, prospective buyers, these tips are also relevant to you and your purchases.)

1) Follow a communications and discovery process and share the process with your prospect

Enlighten your prospect as to how you suggest going about determining whether or not it makes sense to work together. Outline the steps in the process and solicit their input and concurrence. “Typically when I first meet with the owner of a firm like yours, it makes sense to discuss Item A, Item B, and Item C. Are there any additional items for today’s meeting and do you agree with this list?”

As adults, surprises do not generally lead to positive outcomes. When both parties know what is going to happen next, it reduces anxiety and increases ability to focus resulting in enhanced communication.

2) Know what you want to accomplish in each meeting

Specifically what do you need to determine and communicate in your next meeting with a prospect? Just keeping the dialogue going is probably not a sufficiently specific goal for the upcoming call. You may need to determine delivery timeframes, budgetary constraints, and approval process.

There are usually two facets of communication and discovery that are going on here: first, substantive discussion of needs and potential solutions and second, based on this interaction, do we believe we can work together effectively? Most sales calls focus on the substance of the discussion and often minimize the significance of assessing ability to work together. If after several meetings you have misgivings about your ability to work together, it probably makes sense to address this concern in one of several ways.

3) Set an Up-front Contract for each meeting with the prospect

An Up-front Contract is more than a meeting agenda, but an agenda is a good start. In addition, it is worthwhile to explicitly identify beforehand the purpose of the meeting, how much time is set aside, attendees and acceptable outcomes of the meeting. The Up-front Contract is reviewed with the prospect and agreed to in advance of the meeting. It helps to eliminate those pesky surprises such as walking into a boardroom full of people when you expected to meet only with your prospect and the firm’s marketing director.

4) Prepare your list of questions and discussion paths beforehand

It is advantageous to formulate your list of key questions and discussion items prior to the meeting. By being prepared, biz woman with listyou are less likely to forget raising a very key item. More importantly, you are better able to focus your energy, intellect and attention on really listening to and absorbing what the prospect is saying. If you are less worried about what you are going to say or ask next, your listening and bonding and rapport are heightened.

5) Dial in to the prospect’s communication style and cues

As we are reminded, communication is more than merely words exchanged. Tonality and non-verbal cues such as body language can convey critical feedback. If you sense your buyer is being increasingly uncomfortable, take the heat yourself and offer up “I may be reading the situation incorrectly, but I am sensing you are uncomfortable with this discussion. Do I have this right, and what can we do to alleviate your discomfort?”

6) Follow the 70/30 rule

The rule is simple to state and more challenging to implement consistently: listen 70% of the time and talk 30% of the time. Use your 30% ‘talk time’ to ask the questions you prepared as well as to pose additional clarifying questions based on the prospect’s responses.

Sales calls are not the place to inundate the prospect with features, benefits, history of your company, etc. Sales calls are for you and your prospect to discover his problems/issues, constraints, etc. and agree on an approach to solve. By asking great questions, really listening, and seeking further clarification, you are facilitating more effective discovery and agreement. (Your prospect will not feel like he is being ‘sold.’)

7) Resist the urge to dispense free advice

As a professional in your field, you possess a wealth of knowledge and experience you are anxious to share with the world. STOP! At this preliminary stage of discussion, you may not yet know enough to accurately diagnose the prospect’s problem(s). You may be doing your prospective client and yourself a disservice. If you do solve the problem now or the prospect thinks you have offered up a solution, chances are you’re done and out.

Complete your discovery discussion with the prospect prior to proposing a solution, even if this means holding multiple sales call meetings. If the prospect pushes you for information prior to completing discovery, indicate you will summarize key findings at the end of each sales call.

8) Validate your assumptions and question what does not make sense

question mark manPattern recognition that comes with experience is a powerful tool in solving problems and offering solutions. That said, validate your key assumptions with this prospect. For example, if your prospect is going to have to undergo an extensive financial review to get approval for financing, determine your approach and timing for discussing this with him. Don’t assume everyone already understands such requirements and associated processes.

If in the course of discussion, you hear statements or assertions from the prospect that do not make sense based on your experience or industry practice, respectfully ask for clarification. Don’t provoke an argument but be brave and seek to achieve clarity.

9) Recap and summarize the results of the sales call with the prospect

At the end of the sales call meeting, compare notes with the prospect. Did you both hear the same things and reach the same conclusions? Are there specific issues or differences of opinion or perspective that need to be further analyzed and discussed? What will probably happen next in the discovery process? Can we set an Up-Front Contract for our next meeting or agree to a process and timeframe to set the next Up-front Contract?

10) Debrief the sales call just completed

Congratulations. Together we have made it to Number Ten. After each sales call, sit down with a colleague, an growing moneyaccountability partner, or just yourself and objectively debrief the call. How did you perform on the previous Nine Tip Areas summarized in this article? From the list of nine, identify 2 areas where you performed well and 2 areas for improvement. Be specific as possible. Additionally, review and handle follow-up items from the sales call meeting with your prospect.

Regardless of your business or profession, conducting effective sales calls is a critical skill to acquiring, developing and retaining customers. Don’t leave these important interactions to chance. Follow these steps and watch the impact on your business.

Final Thoughts

According to Dana Borowka, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and author of “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”, hiring the right people is key to future growth. If you would like additional information on hiring, please click here to see an article on this subject.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Rob Hupp is President of Roth|Hupp Growth Partners, Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals increase their revenues through more effective sales and management practices. Rob can be reached at 310.890.3704 or via e-mail at rhupp@rhgp.com.

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to  www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Your Secret Sales Machine (It’s Not What You Think)

By Tom FitzGerald & Linda Brakeall

It all began simply enough when a branch of Heartmann Woods (72 employees, two in sales) performed an audit of telephone calls.money catch biz woman

This was part of a biennial cost containment drive. The audit revealed that while the two sales people made about 40 calls a day, the other 70 non-sales people were making 200 calls a day, 1,000 calls a week, 50,000 a year.

Nearly all those outgoing calls were to clients. The 70 non-sales people received just as many incoming calls from clients. That totaled 400 calls a day, 2,000 calls a week, 100,000 a year. Previously all these calls were viewed as interfering with the serene production of information.

But this time a new thought occurred: Could those calls be an opportunity?

The 70 non-sales people understood at the gut level that when they connected with clients they reached people who wanted to talk, were willing, even eager, to make relationships. These clients were serious buyers and influentials — but did not think so. The 70 were inside the corporate defenses, inside the barriers to sales.

Every call, every conversation, contains the seed of a sale. A seed that extends the business relationship. A seed that identifies the influentials and the real buyers. A seed that uncovers new needs.

Recognizing this opportunity, the 100,000 seeds now fell on fertile ground. A new secret sales machine had been born — with 70 “stealth marketers” at the wheel.

Within two years that 70 became 300.

The Concepts of the Stealth Marketers

As with all successful business concepts, stealth marketing is profoundly simple. Underlying it are just six ideas:

1. Every “non-sales” call has already bypassed the corporate sales defenses.
2. The best source of business is current clients.
3. Every person in a client organization is a buyer, whether they know it or not.
4. Every person in your organization is a salesman, whether they know it or not.
5. Every call is a sales call.
6. Sell is not a four letter word.

The Hurdles

Stealth marketing requires:

1. An environment of continuing sales to existing customers. Most companies fit into this category.
2. A volume of customer contacts that exceeds official sales calls by a factor of five or better.
3. A commitment by the CEO to have all members of staff participate in and feel responsible for company sales.
4. A little ingenuity.

But when it came time to implement stealth marketing at Heartmann Woods, one difficulty could have stopped it cold: People were afraid to sell.

machineThough the company had been talking “sales” and “sales culture” for more than 15 years, most people still didn’t like the idea. Their resistance showed mostly in body language and performance but it was often articulated in words like, “What? I’m not in sales!”

Fortunately, the CEO had embraced the idea and encouraged managers to become entrepreneurs. But to get stealth marketing through the all too human inertia and built-in prejudice against selling, something extraordinary had to happen.

How to Start the Secret Sales Machine

The process can begin simply enough. Here’s how it worked at Heartmann Woods:

1. Non-sales staff, section by section, reviewed and tallied up how many human-to-human connections they made.
2. Non-sales staff listed their contacts and described how those contacts might buy for and influence their companies.
3. The boss introduced the raw numbers that underlie the company’s sales function — the first time most people had ever seen them.
4. The sales people told real stories. They described how difficult it is for a salesperson to get through on the phone. How nearly impossible it can be to get a prospect to disclose anything that they can use to begin a sale.

As the two salespeople opened up, the non-sales staff grew in awareness and sympathy. It became a kind of therapy for the sales department.

After that things got easier. The concept of the easiest sale being with current clients began to be understood at the gut level. The “non-sales” people could feel what such sales could do to the bottom line. And their paychecks.

Gradually, the “non-sales” 70 began to talk of the two sales people as “outside sales” and sidled up to the idea of themselves as “inside sales.” Non-sales as a term disappeared from use.

How to Overcome the Fear of Sales

For over 50 years, most people who are not in sales (and many who are!) have felt that selling is somehow distasteful. It is a feeling that many do not express, even to themselves. Unless that attitude is changed, major sales increases won’t happen.

If you doubt it, just ask your people what comes immediately to mind when you say “salesman.” The answer can be scary.

Here’s how Heartmann Woods overcame the bias:

1. Everyone took an anonymous “Sales Readiness” survey.
2. Each department got together with a sales person. The responses to the survey were the launching point for discussion. The deepest feelings, the hidden prejudices were brought into the open.
3. The discussion helped transform distorted beliefs.
4. Each section “adopted” a sales person to become his or her support system. She became their mentor.
5. Every section, every worker, discovered a way to contribute to the effort.
6. Supervisors helped refine the process.

One by one the departments accepted the challenge. They faced the truth about themselves and selling. They transformed their attitudes. They brainstormed and wrote scripts. They practiced. They called. And the clients loved it.

Rewards helped. And recognition, especially recognition, fueled the fire.end of rainbow

Almost from the first day, sales began to grow. Just a little at a time. But a month later, their average order had increased with almost every major client. Success bred optimism. Optimism bred success. Profits grew. Paychecks grew. It was a fun place to work.

Almost every company owns a gold mine of opportunity — a secret sales machine. It exists buried in the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of daily calls to and from existing clients, to and from people who think of themselves as “non-sales.”

Stealth marketing generates good will and sales. It gives staff a sense of deep participation in the life and future of their company. And it is fun.

Created for Vistage View. Copyright 2014, Vistage International, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tom FitzGerald is President of FitzGerald Associates (www.ManagementConsultants.com) headquartered in Lake Forest, IL. FitzGerald Associates specialize in Profit/Productivity Improvement, Corporate Performance Prediction, Corporate Renewal and Preemptive and Early Decline Turnaround. They have worked in this arena since 1976. Tom is the author of Fire in the Corporate Belly: Renewing the Company – Body, Soul & Bottom Line. Tom can be contacted at Fitz@ManagementConsultants.com or 847-599-9960.

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners.  How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Paying for Sales Results

By Karen Jorgensen

Sales is the easiest part of the business model to incentivize. Despite this apparent ease or maybe because of it, it doesn’t take much experience to see that sales is the business function that most decision makers incentivize poorly.

The dynamics of sales continue to change even faster than changing times. With a global economy, technological advances, business expansions and mergers, the sales biz man on dockfunction is constantly adapting to new ways of operation. Cell phones, point of sales computers and telemarketing improve the sales effort and require new ways of doing business.

The sales function does not operate as independently as in the past. In fact, the sales function must work in close relationship with customer service, market research, engineering and advertising. A good salesperson knows how to expedite products and has important relationships with the company.

Client/Customer relationships have become key to the sales function. The emphasis in many businesses has shifted to a relationship sell. The sales person must nurture relationships with existing customers who aren’t ordering at the same time he or she is working with the customers who are ordering.

How Do You Compensate Sales Performance?

Clearly stated objectives are critical to developing sales team compensation. Do you want the compensation plan to encourage increased volume, specific products, profitability, new business, relationships or retention? The objectives of a sales plan should change at least yearly based on market opportunities, competition, new products and technology. Prior to developing any sales team incentives, the objectives must be clearly identified and agreed upon by all key executives.

Pay philosophy must take into account the technical know-how of the sales personnel, as well as the difficulty of the sale, training and risk of the business. A small business or a start-up is going to be riskier for a salesperson. An unknown product from a new company is harder to sell.

Smaller companies with less established products tend to pay sales personnel higher base salaries. Bigger, more established firms have lower base pay. The lower pay of big companies is offset by training, benefits, promotional opportunities, a known product and service, and more perks.

Pay philosophy also must establish who is the sales team. What is the role of marketing, customer service, advertising or installation in the sales process? Are there non-sales functions that require time from the sales team, such as maintaining relationships, servicing accounts or providing technical information?

Individual sales goals create competition, not cooperation. A company needs to evaluate how much reward or incentive should be tied to the total team. The trend in most industries is toward more team-related sales incentives.

Simple Sales Goals

Competitive pay practices are an important factor in setting sales compensation. Researching what is happening in the industry, the expected average profits of other companies and predicted sales growth is very important.

biz woman watering plantIn designing sales incentives, sales personnel input can be very valuable. Discussing goals and expectations with sales personnel also can help overcome their resistance to change. Of all types of work teams, the sales function understands reward processes the best. These team members usually have excellent input into what needs to change, how measurements can be improved and what team expectations need to be rewarded.

A sales incentive questionnaire can be used to gather information from the sales force. This can be done one-on-one or in a focus group. All members of the sales team should participate.

When rolling out a new sales plan, we recommend the new plan be designed to be more lucrative if goals are met than the old plan. We also feel that if you obtain sales input during the research phase, the actual rollout and acceptance of the plan will be easier.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

JorgensenHR is a BestPRACTICES human resource solutions firm that helps clients create additional value in their business or organization through well-designed, customized human resources management solutions. These include our BestHRSolutions products and services for HR outsourcing, training, affirmative action, investigations, policies, compensation, recruitment, HR assessments, and We Want to Know Hotline. For more information, please contact Linda Harris at (661)600-2070, email her at lharris@jorgensenhr.com or visit the company website, http://jorgensenhr.com/

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA  90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching.  Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

Would You Like Some Fries with That Sales Hire?

By Barry Deutsch

We’ve put over 25,000 hiring executives and managers through our Hire With Your Head workshop in the last 7-8 years. Our executive search firm has been involved in thousands of executive searches over the last 20 years. We’ve collected an impressive array of anecdotal and quantifiable data on the success and failure of hiring practices in many different companies. One of the most difficult hires for an entrepreneurial or middle-market company is either choosing an internal sales hire or picking an independent rep organization.bldg fries

The most interesting trend we continually observe is that hiring executives and managers often approach the hiring or selection process as though they were ordering fast food at the drive-through, particularly for sales hires. First they scan the menu to see what’s offered, then they pick the top three or four things they want. “I’ll take one MBA, with a BSME, a 3.5 GPA or better, and don’t forget three years of sales experience in the machine tool sector.” While ordering this way at local hamburger joint almost always produces exactly what you want, it doesn’t work nearly as well for hiring.

When I teach hiring executives and managers about the hiring or selection process, whether they are picking internal sales people or external reps, I always ask, “How many of you have ever hired a partially competent sales person?” The answer is frequently YES for a majority of the workshop participants. Why? Because the current process of defining what the hiring executive or manager is looking for is hopelessly flawed.

The typical hiring executive or manager, and in truth many recruiters, approach each new hiring assignment with a list of qualifications. This list becomes codified in the official job description which includes some level of education (an MBA from UCLA), some level of experience (three years of sales experience), and some core traits or characteristics (self-starter or good communicator). What they don’t tell you is what the person actually needs to DO in the job to be a superior performer. As it turns out, these lists of attributes are poor substitutes for superior performance.

For example, the typical job description for a sales rep position might include a list of criteria such as: MBA, five years sales experience in a particular industry, good product knowledge, an available “rolodex”, good organization skills and closing capability. Each of these descriptors focuses on the candidate HAVING certain skills or levels of experience. But the don’t say anything about what the candidate has been actually DOING. And it’s PAST PERFORMANCE, not past experience, that is THE BEST PREDICTOR OF FUTURE PERFORMANCE.

The next time you recruit for a new position, particularly in sales, try this first:

Take a list of the HAVING job criteria and convert it into a DOING-oriented statement, covering how you expect the candidate to actually perform.

When you take this approach, everything changes. Instead of asking in the interview, “Do you have five years of sales experience in our particular industry?” you can now ask something much more revealing: ” Can you give me an example where you joined a new company and had to come up to speed on their product offerings in an abbreviated timeframe, and where you had to quickly develop a plan in the first 30 days to meet quota. The answer to the second question will uncover true past performance faster — and much more accurately — than simply checking off a list of HAVING-oriented job criteria.

Taking the time to define superior performance allows you to focus on what a candidate has done in the past that is directly relevant to the job you are asking them to do for you.

Here are some hints to help you get started defining superior performance:

First, make a list of the top 5-8 things a person must DO to be successful in the job. These are called performance objectives, and could include some of the following key areas:

  • Management or Organizational Issues
  • Changes and Improvements you’d like to see implementedtreasure crest keys
  • Problems that might arise (or ones that already exist)
  • Technical Issues
  • Team and People Issues
  • Projects and Deliverables

Once you have a list of objective you need to prioritize them.

Focus only on major objectives and the interim steps necessary to achieve them. We call these S.M.A.R.T. objectives (S for Specific, M for Measurable, A for Action-oriented, R for Results, T for Time-based).  An example of a sales objective might be: Develop a plan of action within 60 days to increase sales by 15% at the top 20% of accounts within the Western Region within 12 months. Another objective might be: Be prepared within 30 days of start date to make a formal 30 minute Powerpoint presentation to your first major customer – create a fast-track learning process to fully understand the customer benefits of our equipment within the first 2 weeks.

Writing SMART objectives isn’t as easy as ordering fast food . It takes practice, some effort, and a little time. But it’s well worth the investment. Your definition of superior performance becomes the basis for writing great ads, assessing true competency during the interview, and courting the right candidates. And you’re hiring mistakes won’t have you reaching for the Tums so often in the middle of the night. 

Barry Deutsch, MA is a well-known thought leader in hiring and peak performance management. He is a frequent and sought-after speaker for management meetings, trade associations, and CEO forums, such as Vistage International, formerly known as TEC, a worldwide CEO membership organization of more than 15,000 CEOs and senior executives. Many of his clients view him as their virtual Chief Talent Officer. Vistage International named Barry “IMPACT Speaker of the Year”… Barry is also frequently asked to present IMPACT Hiring Solutions award-winning programs on hiring, retention, and motivating top talent and leverages a vast knowledge base of 25 years in the executive search field, with a track record of successful placements in multi-billion dollar Fortune 100 companies, entrepreneurial firms, and middle-market high-growth businesses. He has worked closely with thousands of CEOs and key executives to help improve hiring success, leverage human capital, and raise the bar on talent acquisition. Barry earned his BA and MA from the American University in Washington, D.C. Prior to his executive search career, Barry held positions of responsibility in Finance and General Management with Mattel, Beatrice Foods, and Westinghouse Cable. Barry is a co-author of the book, You’re Not The Person I Hired. You can reach him at barry@impacthiringsolutions.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article.  © 2014   

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA  90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching.  Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

 

5 Tips for Making Smart Marketing Decisions

By Bob Hougland

Just about every business is impacted in some way during challenging times, but businesses often lack the wiggle room to adapt. Consider the following as you look at your own situation:

1. Don’t make hurried, short-term decisions.

In a financial crunch, businesses often slash or eliminate expenses for things they can “do without.” In most cases, this can prove to be a short-term action with detrimental long-term consequences. First, if it’s something you can truly do without, it’s not likely that you would have been paying for it all along. Second, if you cut or eliminate something just telescope teamto save money without considering the impact on your overall operations, you’re selling yourself short. Rather than drop anything completely, consider reducing your expenditures in several areas to achieve the necessary economy. Consider involving at least your key people, if not your entire staff, in discussion of economization. You may be surprised by some of the ideas they have, and you’ll help maintain morale if they understand your situation and are given the opportunity to kick in their thoughts.

2. Don’t try to take up all the slack.

Part of the entrepreneurial spirit is rolling up your sleeves and doing whatever needs to be done. That’s certainly a viable position in difficult times, but don’t let it go too far. Your job is to stay focused on the big picture and to guide your company into the future, and you can’t do that if you’re bogged down for extended period in day-to-day details. Maintain your position at the helm, but pitch in where you can be most effective. Also, make sure that time-consuming activities are being performed by someone at the lowest appropriate cost-per-hour.

3. Tweak, rather than slash, your marketing program.

Over the years, I’ve seen countless companies dramatically curtail or even drop some or all of their marketing plans when finances are tight. Most often, I’ve seen advertising cut or even stopped entirely. That’s a false economy. First, there are still prospects and customers out there. That means opportunities to develop your existing accounts and generate new accounts out of what remains of your market. As some of your non-accounts become dissatisfied with their present suppliers because of cutbacks that competitor has made, they become qualified prospects for you. You need to maintain your presence in the marketplace and demonstrate your stability and reliability under any market conditions. Second, your competitors are still in place, and they will react to changes in the economy in various ways. Some will cut their advertising or reduce their services. Others will bite the bullet and maintain their marketing activities. Either way, don’t lose sight of the reality that you need to maintain your slice of the pie (i.e., your market share) regardless of the size of that pie, and you can actually carve out a bigger slice in down times by acquiring new accounts from your competitors. So, what about advertising? You can economize on advertising by decreasing your frequency. If you’re running an ad every week or every month, drop back to every other week or month. Cutting your frequency in half doesn’t cut your impact in half, and some people may not even notice the difference. Take a critical look at where you’re advertising. It’s likely that all of the media you are using aren’t equal in their penetration of your most important kinds of prospects, so make larger cuts among the least effective media. Don’t drop any one ad medium entirely since multi-media advertising is proven to provide the most bang for your buck. Cut back on each medium, but keep all in play. Also, maintain your memberships in trade associations and other organizations which get you and your company exposure. Continue to be seen and heard by your marketplace. Look for new opportunities to be interviewed or to publish articles in your area of expertise. That kind of exposure can have greater impact than paid advertising.

4. Keep your sales program alive.

One of my active clients has begun picking up some new accounts in recent weeks because a competitor has pulled his sales force off of all accounts below a certain dollar value and has ordered his sales staff to cut their travel in half. Some of their customers have reacted with resentment at not being seen as “important enough,” while others see a loss of the former level of customer service. Yes, some limits on travel can probably be made, but don’t do anything drastic which will be seen by your marketplace as pulling back. Your customers will understand less frequent sales calls, especially with the cost of gas. Keep your sales incentives in place and discuss with your sales staff the tactics and appeals to win over new customers from among those becoming dissatisfied with one of your competitors. Rather than dropping your prices, consider premiums or freebees to add value to your transactions.

5. Do seize on the opportunity to prepare for the future.

Take a step back with a critical look at your operation. Are you really organized for peak performance and optimum efficiency? Are there improvements you could make that will better your bottom line permanently? I remember from my military officer training that they stressed the best decisions are those which are made calmly and rationally before the map and manneed to implement them arises. Are your difficulties in dealing with a slow market perhaps due to your lack of advanced contingency planning? Business, like the economy, always goes in cycles. How well have you already prepared for a down cycle? Often, job descriptions have evolved from the skills of the people in the particular positions rather than from the functional needs of the business. Are you set up on a strict, vertical department basis? That may work, but you may also be missing opportunities to improve your overall processes so that there is better coverage of an entire process during a temporary or permanent absence. Have you effectively delegated both authority and accountability? If not, you’re missing an important means of optimizing your company’s performance. If you don’t have a Business Plan or Marketing Plan, create one now. Why? Studies have shown that we’re all most careful about what we commit to paper. A documented plan gives you a roadmap through good and bad times by making you think through your activities. General Eisenhower said that the planning for D-Day in WWII was obsolete when the attack was actually launched, but that it was all of the thinking and discussion that went into the plan that prepared our forces for victory.

Look at economic changes as opportunity rather than a problem. A glass-half-full approach will get you farther than a glass-half-empty start.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Bob Hougland holds a BA in Psychology and is a Vietnam vet with almost 5 years’ USAF active duty. He began his business career in the fast-track executive development program at AT&T, but sought out smaller employers. For most of a decade, he held sales management positions at L.A. radio stations KIIS, 93KHJ, and K-EARTH101, and created a successful marketing consulting division for RKO General Radio. With both sales management and marketing management awards under his belt, he founded RGH MARKETING. He now is the Owner/Consultant at SuperTemp where he continues his career of helping good organizations be better, new ones to get off the ground and bringing some back from the brink of failure. He is a strategist who sees opportunities where others see problems and bring lessons learned in a wide range of industries to bear on new situations. He can be reached at 803-774-7777 or SuperTemp@pacbell.net or you can read his blog at http://businessguy.biz/.

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

9 Ways To Attract and Retain Sales & Customer Service People With Personality Testing

By Dana & Ellen Borowka

How do you build up your sales and customer service force in a down economy? The quick answer is don’t be a dodo bird.

While researching our book, Cracking the Personality Code, we examined the essentials of what managers and business owners need to know about hiring and managing sales/customer service people with the help of personality testing.

dodo birdAn interesting sales management guru we discovered along the way is Lee B. Salz. In June 2007, his widely acclaimed book, Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager was published. In it, he deals with one of the biggest problems companies face, the chasm between managers and sales and customer service people.

He uses the metaphor of the dodo to show what happens when one fails to adapt. Those who adapt, thrive. Those who don’t become extinct like the dodo bird of ages ago. Some laugh at the use of the word ‘dodo’, but there is nothing funny about a business losing its competitive edge due to unmanaged change.

To hire the best sales and customer service people and keep them on the team, your sales or customer service manager needs to know what makes them tick. We believe the sales and customer service personality code can be cracked. If that sounds like a bold declaration, consider this: Studies show that personality tests are a far more reliable predictor of performance than interviews and resumes.

A proper test should reach beyond simple profiles and decipher a sales or customer service person’s underlying needs. This is key for employee development, team building, conflict resolution and succession planning. If you want to retain the best, you need to treat them the way they want to be treated.

Below are nine ways to use personality testing in the workplace to attract and retain the right sales and customer service people with personality testing:

1. Get the real picture.

Of course, every sales and customer service candidate wants to put their best foot forward during an interview. However through a personality test, you uncover a great deal aboutartist their ability to work well with other personalities, their problem solving abilities, their thought processes and their ability to tolerate stress. Personality testing gives you objective information that can help you make an informed decision about if this person is a good fit for the job and for the team. If you decided to hire the person, the questions you ask during the hiring process will reduce your learning curve as a manager on how best to manage this person from day one.

2. Help them be all that they can be.

Every sales and customer service person has strengths and weaknesses. Find out the real truth with an objective measure. Once you pinpoint the good and the bad, then you place them in the right position and coach them on where to improve.

3. Take me to your leaders.

Personality testing gives the manager and sales or customer service team a common language about how they like to interact. The assessments can help you train future managers on how to get the best out of the team.

4. Know how to manage difficult people.

Face it, there will always be difficult people and flare ups on the job. Use objective personality assessments to diagnose potential sources of workplace conflict. The best way to deal with a problem is to prevent it in the first place.

5. Get everybody to play nice.

Sales and IT, customer service and marketing, operations and financial people have to interact to make the company run smoothly. Too many employees get frustrated with other co-workers and just wonder why everyone doesn’t act like them. Through the use of personality profiles, managers can coach employees how to interact better with peers.

6. Treat co-workers the way they want to be treated.

In today’s fast-paced world of business, there is little time to get to know many of your co-workers. Using personality assessments as the basis for team building exercises can quickly get everyone to have a healthier respect for other ways of seeing the world.

7. Make managers better leaders.

The days of seat of the pants leadership are over. When sales and customer service managers understand what makes their people tick, then they can be better leaders. Knowing personality traits can help with motivating teams, communicating change and delegating authority.

8. Pick better teams.

Today so much work is done by ad hoc teams that come together for a specific purpose. Before you assemble a sales or customer service team it pays to know the strengths and weaknesses of the team members. Sometimes this can be the difference between a productive team that gets the job done and one that pulls apart at the seams.

9. Set people up for success.

Sometimes we hire the right employee and put them in the wrong job. Understanding preferred work styles and where a person would be happiest goes a long way to improving retention and productivity.

man jumping bldgWhile personality testing can be a valuable resource before you hire sales and customer service people, perhaps the true value of any assessment comes in using the insights it provides along the entire spectrum of employment. Personality assessments lend objectivity to decisions that may otherwise be largely subjective.

Remember, it is not how many great people you hire. The true measure is how many great people you keep! To find out more please email us at reception@lighthouseconsulting.com or call 310-453-6556, ext 403.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO and Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC with their organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. They have over 25 years of business and human behavioral consulting experience. They are nationally renowned speakers and radio personalities on this topic. They are the authors of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

 

Stopping Self Sabotage: Five Steps to Better Relationships & Sales

By Jim Ponder

Why let another day go by feeling out of control just hoping to get through to the end of the day so you can do the same thing tomorrow? Why scramble for names to cold call, new prospects to solicit and other markets to tackle when you are not even staying in touch with your existing clients?man & fire

I know why, it is because this is the way you have always done things. Sure, you have heard of other ways to handle business and life. You may have even attended a seminar where you got excited and came away determined to change. Then BAM! Life hit you in the face. E-mails piled up, voice mails just kept coming, the car broke down and that deadline just got moved up. So, the notebook and other materials that you were so fired up about found their way to the bookshelf right next to the others sitting there gathering dust.

Sound familiar? Don’t be surprised, millions of us wake up and handle every day just like I described above. And you know what? Life does have a way of hitting us in the face. But, trust me; it does not have to be this way. I have lived this; I was the king of crisis mode mistaking activity with progress. My customers were not getting the attention they deserved. For that matter neither were my family or friends. After all, can’t they see that I am busy! Unfortunately they can see, but what they see is that I am too busy for them and certainly too busy to handle that recommendation they wanted to give me.

Self sabotage, it is time to stop. For me, I discovered that the relationship must come first and from that business and revenue will follow. Moving from crisis mode and self sabotage to a relational business and way of life takes effort. The good news though, is that all of us can do it and the rewards are plentiful.

Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Listen

We all learn to talk at a very young age. What we do not learn to do is listen. Start today listening more and saying less. Be there; focus 100% on what you are hearing. Put down the BlackBerry, ignore the e-mail, put the phone on silent – not vibrate, and take some notes. You will be amazed at what you learn. Your clients will tell you what they want and need – if you will listen to them.

2. Be a Trusted Ally™

Are you a needy salesperson or a trusted ally? The needy salesperson tries to sell whatever they have regardless of whether the client really needs it or if it is the best fit for them. The Trusted Ally™ will take time to understand what the clients needs are and will tailor the sales and product to them. Even, if it means passing up the sale. What! Pass up a sale – you bet, it is called trust and character.

3. Remember the 80/20 rule

Sure, you have heard this before. 80% of business comes from 20% of your customers. Guess what else? 80% of your pain comes from the bottom 20% of your customers. This bottom 20% is sucking the life out of you. They are a needy bunch and you would be far better off methodically eliminating them while adding more clients that resemble your top 20%.

4. Do your homework

I never cease to be amazed at how little most salespersons and the companies they work for know about their clients and prospects. Make a list today of your top five clients and prospects. Now do your homework and answer these questions:

♦ How do they make money?cklist men
♦ What are their top three business challenges?
♦ What charities do they support?
♦ What does your main contact at the company like to do when they are not working?

This information is the start to building your knowledge base and a relationship that goes beyond the transaction. Now, put the power of the internet to work by setting these clients and prospects up on Google Alerts – http://www.google.com/alerts. This way you will always have the latest news about them. Use your new knowledge to send thank you and congratulations cards and for discussion on your personal visits and phone calls.

5. Get help

Lastly, don’t try this alone because odds are you will fail. Make an investment of your time, effort and money in a quality training program that has a coaching component. bizwoman watering plantCoaching is what separates the wannabe’s from the successful. Just like the best athletes in the world have coaches, so do the best and most successful business people.

You can change. You can have balance back with less stress and more productivity. It is up to you.

Final Thoughts

According to Dana Borowka, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, hiring the right people is key to future growth. If you would like additional information on hiring, please click here to read an article on this subject.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Jim has over 25 years of experience in top management positions. He has been President of four companies in all phases from start up to being acquired. Jim is a seasoned entrepreneur and businessman. He is an experienced trainer, speaker, consultant and executive coach. His diverse background brings experience in strategic planning, business and brand development and strong organizational skills. Jim has worked with many companies and organizations from large to small including AFLAC, Qualcomm and ViaSat.

Jim clearly understands the issues facing businesses today. Competition has shown the need, more than ever, for companies to differentiate themselves. His background and success of building companies through relationships allows him to share his insights providing real change to companies and organizations desiring to excel. He routinely works with key executives developing short, mid and long range strategic plans for relationship, productivity and business development. To contact Jim, please give him a call at 760-888-6228 or email him at jponder@turnkeysr.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Hiring Sales People & Attracting Top Talent!

By Dana Borowka

In this day and age, making the wrong hiring decision can cost you $50,000 to multiples of millions of dollars!! That’s a high price to pay, and it’s a conservative figure when you factor in the emotional pressures of training, evaluation, termination and then starting the hiring process all over again. By refining your hiring process, you can turn hiring into a profitable and successful venture.targets

Creating an Effective Recruitment Program

There are several steps to creating an effective recruitment program. The first starts with the basics – the job description. Many companies don’t even have job descriptions for their positions and that’s one of many hiring pitfalls. It’s very difficult to describe a position to a candidate, without having it well defined. The next problem with job descriptions is that they are usually not definitive enough. It’s important to detail the expected job performance outcome, and be very specific in what is needed and expected. The job description should have 30-, 60-, 90- and 180-day objectives, so the candidate has a clear understanding what is expected for the job. Be sure to review and update job descriptions regularly, as company needs and expectations for a position are bound to change.

The next step is to define where to recruit candidates or target your recruiting process. Now that you have an idea of what you need and expect for the position, where do you find this treasured person? There are many resources: Referrals, recruiters, ads, college placement centers, .com listings, etc. Of course, referrals are usually one of the best sources for candidates and giving out the job description to business associates and friends may reveal the perfect candidate. When working with recruiters, it is very important to be as specific as possible to avoid your time being wasted with unqualified candidates.
The same is true for ads so that the ad is as definitive as possible. College placement centers are not only good for recruiting college grads, but usually have facilities to list positions that require extensive experience too. They can be especially helpful if they are in close contact with the alumni association.

Resumes, Resumes… Piles of Resumes

Soon in your hiring process, you will be faced with a big pile of resumes. Look for resumes that are specific to your needs and notice the presentation style, which will tell you a great deal about the candidate. It is helpful to decide what the priorities are for the position and look for those first in the resumes. Once you have settled on a few resumes, we suggest the two step approach to interviewing. The first is the telephone interview, which can save you valuable time and effort. Ask the candidate a set of specific questions, such as: Why are you interested in this position? Please describe three key attributes that you have to offer to our company? Give me one significant program that you had an impact on in the last six months? Listen carefully to the candidate to see if the response fits the job description. This process allows the candidate to earn a face-to-face interview.

Interviewing – The Art of Listening

When interviewing in person, it is important to listen and not let emotions take over. The candidate should talk about 80 percent of the interview and the interviewer only 20 percent. The goal for interviewing effectively is to note their thinking patterns, and not get caught up in appearances, impressive schools or companies. During the interview, questions that are more specific are helpful in making successful hiring decisions. Some examples are: What significant impact have they had at three or more companies on their resumes – ask for specifics, percentage of change; Please describe in detail what brought about the change; What was their process, from A to Z? and ask how the magnifycandidate would handle a specific problem that you have seen in the position.

Identifying the Inner Traits of a Candidate & How to Best Manage the Individual

Once a candidate has been selected, then the most difficult part of the hiring process begins – reference checking. Many firms find professional organizations helpful when making background checks. Yet, as the old saying goes, “You never know someone until you work with them, travel with them or live with them”. Through in-depth work style and personality testing, you can reduce the possibility of making a hiring error. An in-depth assessment can identify inner traits of a candidate if the appropriate assessment is selected.

The following are some things to think about when reviewing various work style & personality profiles:

  1. Training or degrees required for interpretation of the data. Weekend training programs can be problematic since testing and human behavior is a very complex subject. When making hiring or internal decisions, organizations need as much information and understanding as possible as the consequences can be very costly.
  2. A copy of the resume should be supplied to the testing company to review when discussing the assessment results. We suggest to make sure that the testing company uses resumes as part of the process when reviewing the assessment on a candidate.
  3. Scale for “Impression Management” to understanding accuracy of results and if someone is trying to ‘fake good’. The questionnaire needs at a minimum of 164 questions to gather enough data for this scale.
  4. Common warning signs: When a representative uses absolute statements when describing human behavior, like ‘People are all the same’ or ‘People don’t change.’ This will convey what their level of understanding of the human personality is. Or when someone claims that their profile is 98 or 99% accurate, which rarely can be clinically supported. If you hear this, ask how the data was collected.
  5. Career Matching: Some organizations claim to know what the perfect “sales person” or “secretary” is from a personality perspective. Ask how many careers and occupations have been studied; is the data base validated by outside organizations or only by “applied in-house studies”. “Ideal” is very difficult to define due to the variance of geography, job history and education. What is most important is if the individual has a similar thought pattern that meets the criteria within the job description.
  6. Number of clinical studies conducted by major universities and there should be multiple studies for validation purposes.
  7. How long has the profile been used – what is the history.
  8. How often is the normative database updated and where is the data coming from. (For example, U.S. Census 1990, 2000)
  9. Cultural bias – is it built into the profile and for which countries.
  10. Does the profile meet U.S. government employment standards? Has it been reviewed for ADA compliance & gender, culture & racial bias?
  11. Reading level required (5th grade English, etc).
  12. Number of profiles administered.
  13. Number of actual primary scales as defined by the “Big 5” testing standards. Many tests will claim to have more scales than they actually have – this can lead to misrepresentation of data.
  14. Does the data provide the depth necessary, to understand how an individual is wired inside?
  15. Validity, reliability and basis.

These are some general questions and if a profile falls short in any one area, we strongly suggest additional research into the accuracy of the data being generated.

Legal Guidelines & Other Important Stuff

A common inquiry from companies and organizations is about the legal guidelines in providing assessments to candidates. Since industries vary, it is always best to check with a trade association or a legal representative. The general rule is that a test or any set of hiring questions needs to be administered to all final candidates in order to assure that discrimination is not taking place. More information may be found at the EEOC website, in the Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees section.scale

Another question is how do new hires usually feel about taking an in-depth work style assessment. It shows that a company is serious about who they hire. If the company presents the testing program as a method of assuring both parties that they are making the right decision, the individual usually responds very well. The bottom line is that hopefully turnover is greatly reduced.

An in-depth assessment can be very helpful for personnel development and succession planning. As a hiring tool, they can be used to develop additional questions for interviewing and confirming the interviewer’s intuition that might be overlooked. This process gains more reliable and accurate data in order to effectively manage individuals to make hiring and personnel decisions a win-win for everyone.

If you are a hiring manager and would like to see a sample of an in-depth work style and personality profile or get more information, please contact Dana Borowka at Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, (310) 453-6556, extension 403 or email at dana@lighthouseconsulting.com.

The key to onboarding is to understand what the individual needs in order to be successful. The information collected from an in-depth work style assessment can be used as a caching and management tool in order to reduce the learning curve and help the individual hit the ground running!

As you have seen, a successful hiring program requires many components that work together to provide the needed information for difficult personnel decisions. Combining a puzzlewell-defined job description, targeted recruiting and focused interviewing with an effective in-depth work style and personality evaluation program, turns hiring into a profitable and rewarding process.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

Is This the Year to Fix Your Sales & Customer Service Problems?

By Rob Hupp

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]I[/dropcaps]t is another new year and company presidents and business owners are busy rolling out their plans and strategies. If you own or lead a business (or part of a business), answer the following questions about your operation:

[ws_table id=”21″]

Self Score: Your answers as indicated:

  1. For Question 1-5, 7 and 10, each ‘yes’ is worth 1 point.
  2. For Question 6, each ‘no’ is worth 1 point.
  3. For Questions 8 and 9, each ‘proactive’ is worth 1 point.
  4. Total your points and award a school style letter grade.biz football plan

If your score and letter grade are less than stellar, take some momentary comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Is this the year to expend some concerted effort and initiative working on sales and customer service? If faced with a production problem, an engineering challenge, or financial hurdle, these same presidents/owners are inclined to tackle the problem head-on until a solution (or at least solid plan for the solution) is in place. However in the world of sales and customer service, sometimes a sense of fatalistic resignation sets in and mediocre results beget more mediocre results.

Let’s be clear here. Increasing sales and retaining customers is difficult challenging work. That said, business growth and valuations are largely influenced by a CEO’s ability to grow sales over time. What are the biggest challenges CEOs face in growing sales? First, they must overcome their own widely-held self-limiting beliefs around fixing the problem. Second, they must address the five most common reasons they and their people struggle in this pursuit.

Reason #1 – Buyers have a system, sales people usually don’t.

Buyers have an effective system to deal with salespeople. The buyer’s system is designed to get as much information as possible and to keep them in control of the situation. This system turns sales people into unpaid consultants, leads them on until the buyer has all of the information he needs, and often results in the buyer using their proposals to negotiate better deals with the current supplier or a competitor.

So how do most sales people deal with the buyer’s system?

bizpeople on chessbdMost play right in to it. Many don’t use a systematic approach to selling and find themselves ‘winging it.’ They allow the prospect to take total control of the sales process. They eagerly:

  1. Give their information
  2. Make commitments without getting any in return
  3. Waste resources on pursuing deals that will never close
  4. Make unneeded concessions
  5. Misinterpret the ubiquitous “I’ll think it over and get back to you” as a future sale
  6. Lose deals to competitors with strong sales people

The Solution?

A non-traditional approach to selling that provides a system that everyone 100% buys in to. The system should balance both the buyer’s and seller’s interests.

Reason #2 – Spending too much time with prospects who will never buy.

A sales manager recently evaluated two of her reps like this:

“Gary spends too much time with non-buyers, and gets too involved in non-productive activities. One root cause of this behavior is that he doesn’t ask the tough questions.”

“Amy is strong with users, but both she and Gary have lost deals because our competition has contact and influence at the CEO and Executive Director level, and they do not.”

Why is this true?

First, sales reps won’t ask the hard questions up-front for fear of making their prospects angry. Second, prospects don’t like to say no. They go to great lengths to avoid a direct ‘no.’ Third, sales people don’t get to real decision-makers. Instead most salespeople spend time with “comfort people” who are easier to get in front of, and with whom the salesperson is more comfortable talking.

Fact: 60% of a salesperson’s time is spent in front of people who will not or can not buy their product or service.

The Solution?

Sales reps need the tools to separate tire-kickers from buyers and an approach to obtain executive access and sponsorship early in the sales cycle. Learn to qualify your prospects out, not qualify them in. The top producers learn to ask the hard questions up-front, to save resources for real opportunities, and realize “NO” is an acceptable response from a buyer. “Going for the NO” requires a tremendous paradigm shift for most sales people, but it can take all the pressure off the rep and increase his productivity. The prospect is also a beneficiary, because it makes the process feel more like buying than being sold.

Reason #3 – Product training is over-emphasized, product knowledge misused, and selling becomes presenting.

Most training for sales personnel focuses on product knowledge. In fact, 80% of training provided for direct sales people and channel partners is product-oriented. Sales people, once filled with product features and benefits, are eager to share this information. The focus then becomes totally on the product or service, and not on the buyer and his problem, where it belongs.

The Solution?

Provide a systematic approach to selling so salespeople can lead the sales process, help buyers clearly define their problems, and co-build solutions that exactly fit their needs. Product knowledge is important, but how it’s used at each phase of the buying process is key.

Reason #4 – Lack of sufficient prospecting.

bizman exploring tunnelAll professional salespeople will eventually be faced with a bout of call reluctance. You know the story – they have so much paperwork on their desk they can’t possibly find the time to prospect for new business or they’re so busy calling on existing customers (who incidentally aren’t buying anything) there’s no way they could add any new appointments. Sound familiar?

The Solution?

A fresh approach to prospecting using tools and techniques to fill the pipeline with quality opportunities. Greater effectiveness and success leads to even more success. Nothing motivates professional salespeople like winning.

Reason #5 – Salespeople – and the leaders they work for – don’t treat sales as a profession.

Professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers, consultants, educators, and CPA’s all have one thing in common – they went to school to learn what they needed to start their careers and they attend continuing education to maintain and increase their proficiency. Salespeople often lack formal education in selling skills and ongoing continuing education. How many salespeople are continually seeking new ways to increase their skills? How many have the attitude, “I’ve been selling for years, what more can I learn?”

This is a problem sales people can’t remedy on their own. Management must be supportive of investing the time and resources needed for salespeople to acquire, develop and retain critical selling skills.

The Solution?

Like top professional performers in any field, the top 20% of salespeople (and the business leaders they work for) look for ways to sharpen their skills to gain the fine edge that leads to consistent positive results.

By applying proven solutions to these common problems, it is possible to change how one sells and services and thereby achieve more consistent business results. This is not a quick-fix. It requires a level of commitment, investment and guidance to implement successfully. Is this your year to address your sales and customer service challenges?

Final Thoughts

According to Dana Borowka, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC (www.lighthouseconsulting.com), hiring the right people is key to future growth. If you would like additional bizman walking tallinformation on raising the hiring bar, please click here to see an article on this subject.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Rob Hupp is President of Roth|Hupp Growth Partners, Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals increase their revenues through more effective sales and management practices. Rob can be reached at 310.890.3704 or via e-mail at rhupp@rhgp.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.