Category Archives: Leadership

Our CoronaVirus Fight Is Upside Down


I read an article relating how during World War II, a group of engineers was empaneled to examine bombers returning from combat missions.  They observed which areas of the airplanes had sustained the most damage and decided those sections of the plane should be hardened. They were ready to proceed with their recommendation when a member of the group pointed out their thinking was upside down.  He drew attention to the fact the planes they examined, although heavily damaged, were the ones that made it home. He made it clear that the areas of the planes needing reinforcement were those where they observed little damage. 

We are upside down—economically harming the strongest within our society, instead of focusing on safeguarding those most in need.   

We know those people under 55 years of age, and who make up most of the workforce, are less likely to succumb to the disease.  Yet we are condemning them to a lengthy economic struggle by shutting down their places of employment. To ease their predicament, congress and the president are developing legislation to send each family a couple of thousand dollars.  But, what if the number of people contracting the virus doesn’t decrease? Do we continue the closures into mid-summer? If so, how will we continue to fund relief payments? 

Instead of shutting down more businesses, we need to open those that have closed.  At the same time, we should work to develop and fund efforts to keep safe our fellow citizens who are powerless to overcome this deadly virus. By doing so, we will concentrate on those most in need, while lessening the long-term damage to our nation’s economy.

Maximizing Sales Success—Qualifying Prospects


There are salespeople who are great at prospecting—identifying, cold calling and obtaining permission to quote potential customers—but their efforts do not generate sales.  The failure to obtain sales may result from not properly qualifying prospective clients.

Qualifying is where the questioning and detailed needs analysis phase of the face-to-face sale occurs.  In this phase the salesperson strives to discover what the prospect will buy, when they will buy, and under what conditions they will buy. It allows the prospect to identify and verbalize their level of interest, specific wants and detailed needs in the product or service the salesperson is offering.

Failure to properly qualify a prospect can result from a salesperson’s unrecognized negative tendencies, such as:

  • Demonstrating impatience through body language. 
  • A presentation which is not organized. 
  • Formulating a reply, rather than listening to the prospect’s needs. 
  • Dominating the sales presentation. 

Qualifying is only one of the 6 phases of the sales process.  Other phases include: Prospecting, First Impression, Demonstration, Influence and Closing. To maximize success, it is important for a salesperson to determine in which phases weaknesses exist, and then identify the tendencies lending to the weaknesses—a task easily said but harder done. 

Self-awareness is important in every aspect of life, including sales.  Being self-aware means that you have a sound understanding of who you are as a person, and how you relate to the world in which you live. When you are self-aware, you know your strengths and weaknesses, and how to manage them in the workplace.  A self-aware salesperson understands and works to overcome the tendencies which lend to attaining less than maximum success.

Becoming more self-aware isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. 

Using an assessment to gauge a person’s behavior is an extremely effective way to become more self-aware.  When recruiting sales talent, our firm utilizes TriMetrix DNA Sales. This assessment reveals a salesperson’s strengths and weaknesses within each of the six phases of the sales process. Additionally, the results of the assessment lend to creating self awareness within three other key areas: Behaviors, Motivators, and Competencies.  

To identify unrecognized weaknesses, which may limit your success, I encourage you to complete this objective sales behavioral assessment.  The resulting report will heighten your self-awareness by helping you to understand your tendencies, behaviors, motivators and competencies.

We are offering this online assessment for a reduced cost of $99.  You may order the assessment by clicking here.  To view a sample of the report generated by the assessment click here.

It Takes Good Coaching For A Sales Team to Succeed


Over lunch with a sales manager, he told me of his frustration at being unable to maximize his sales team’s results. He related that he sends his salespeople to sales seminars, has built a library of self-help sales books and instituted a new CRM system, despite these efforts, his team’s results were still below expectation. I commented that sales seminars, self-help books and a CRM system are not to be neglected tools, but to succeed salespeople need to develop six basic skills that are intrinsic to success, and I asked how he identified in which phase of the sale process his team members are weak.

Sales managers often focus on tactical considerations—cold calling, niche sales, networking, referrals, social media, overcoming objections, etc. The preceding are important but focusing on such without dealing with the basics of sales, is similar to instructing a football player to block without teaching the basics necessary for doing so.

In football, a good offensive line coach spends time observing his players’ basic skills—if they’re in the correct stance; their footwork; how they use their hands; and how they move their hips. By taking the time to observe his players, a coach can identify which skills which need improvement.

To maximize success, a salesperson must possess the skills needed to excel in the six phases of the sales process: Prospecting, First Impression, Qualifying, Demonstration, Influence, and Closing.  Like a football coach observing his players, a sales manager needs to determine in which phases of the process his players need coaching. Only by doing so, can he or she help overcome weaknesses .

The problem lies in identifying which phases need strengthening and then addressing the tendencies lending to the weaknesses. The best way to do so is by utilizing an objective assessment designed to identify a salesperson’s strengths and weaknesses within the sales process. 

When jointly reviewing the assessment results, the sales manager helps a salesperson to be aware of weaknesses. In addition, a dialogue allowing for a positive response to coaching feedback is created. Coaching is further enhanced through personalized checklists which allow for fine tuning the conversation, making interactions with salespeople straight to the point and productive—thus minimize communication conflict and staying focused on what will most effectively improve sales performance. 

When recruiting salespeople, our firm uses an assessment which:

  • Highlights how a salesperson deals with preparation, presentation, handling objections, closing, and servicing
  • Scores a salesperson’s effectiveness within each of the 6 phases of the sales process
  • Outlines a salesperson’s performance tendencies within each
    specific phase of the sales process.
  • Provides selling tips, identifies time wasting tendencies, and lists areas for improvement

In addition, the report generated by the assessment helps to build people’s self awareness through identifying the forces that motivate them.   Salespeople will learn how to explain, clarify and amplify some of the driving forces in their life. This report will empower them to build on the unique strengths, which they bring to work and life.  They will learn how their passions from 12 Driving Forces® frame their perspectives and provide tie most accurate understanding of themselves as a unique person.

We believe you will find this to be an inexpensive and valuable tool for evaluating and coaching members of your sales team, as well as for recruiting sales talent.   We are offering this online assessment for a reduced cost of $99.  You may order the assessment by clicking here.  To view a sample of the report generated by the assessment click here.

 

Do “People Things” First


img_10981.jpg“Business would be easy if you didn’t have to deal with customers and employees.” A tired but true saying my father often muttered after coping with an unhappy customer.

“People Things” are the issues that arise out of dealing with people. “People Things” include daily interactions, but they are critical when dealing with customer
complaints, employee discontent or a colleague’s request for assistance.

Money concerns generate the most critical “People Thing “ issues. When someone says, “It’s not the money,” assuredly it’s the money. Pocketbook issues, such as payment disputes and payroll concerns, are “People Things” that need to be resolved promptly and discretely.

Because dealing with people is the most complex aspect of business, “People Things,” should be at the top of a to-do list. Such concerns are ones that cannot be put off—procrastination only worsens them.  However, decisions should not be made “on the fly.“  “People Things” require undisturbed time to focus on, understand and resolve issues and concerns.

Make the rest of the day easier by  placing “People Things” as the first priority on your daily to-do list.

How Solomon Would Choose A Candidate


SolomonIn Proverbs 6 verses 6 through 19, King Solomon wrote:

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17    haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18     a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19    a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community
.

No matter your political persuasion or party affiliation, King Solomon provides a benchmark against which a candidate can be judged.

Haughty eyes – This is Solomon’s way of describing someone who is arrogant, condescending, and full of self-pride. A wise leader is a humble leader: one who empathizes with those he or she leads, and someone who seeks out and listens to diverse opinions. In Proverbs 11 verse 2, Solomon wrote, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

A lying tongue – My father used to caution, “A man who lies to you, will steal from you.” There is no such thing as a “little lie.” A liar cannot be trusted, and does not respect those he or she lies to. Solomon also wrote, “A lying tongue, hates those it hurts.” Proverbs, 26 verse 28

Hands that shed innocent blood – It is a leader’s responsibility to care for and protect the helpless and innocent—to ensure that the use of force is justified and judicious. “It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice.” Proverbs 18 verse 5

A heart that devises wicked schemes – It is detestable for a leader to concoct dishonest plots in order to be elected or enriched. A wise leader cares more for those he leads, than he cares for himself or herself. Solomon also wrote, “A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.” Proverbs 10 verse 23

Feet that are quick to rush into evil – An evil person is eager to get into all kinds of mischief—more concerned about his or her “wants” than the needs of those he or she leads. “The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them.” Proverbs 21 verse 10

A false witness who pours out lies – A candidate who spreads lies and rumors about his or her opponent cannot be trusted to govern fairly and wisely.   Solomon wrote, “A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.” Proverbs 19:28

A person who stirs up conflict in the community – A candidate who is willing to turn neighbor against neighbor, to divide rather than unify, is someone who is willing to forsake leadership for personal gain. Solomon got it right when he wrote, “who plots evil with deceit in his heart – he always stirs up conflict.” Proverbs 6:14

A leader who possesses attributes the antithesis of the preceding 7 things is: humble, honest, prudent, wise, discerning, fair and a unifier—Someone you may disagree with, but someone you can trust.

Every Customer Is Precious


Jobs Graph

Responding to my comment that our sheet metal shop was too busy to take walk-in business, my father invited me to join him for a cup of coffee.

Over coffee he related the difficulties involved in opening a business in the midst of the Great Depression—phones not ringing and no customers walking through the door. He recounted driving all over the county, looking for a job to quote and worrying about making payroll.

He expounded on the loyalty of walk-in customers. How a smile and a thank you for a two-dollar order, often resulted in thousands of dollars of business. He declared, “Every customer is precious—you never know where a relationship may lead.” Needless to say, we continued to accept walk-in customers.

During the housing boom, many building material retailers erected signs discouraging walk-in customers: “Contractors Only,” “No Cash Customers,” “Customers Must Have a Trade Account.” The advent of the “Great Recession” resulted in many of those signs being removed, but the message, “We don’t need your business.” had been delivered. Gone was the opportunity to develop new relationships, lost was the opportunity to grow with customers and lingering was the bitterness of rejection.

As with my father and the Great Depression, the lessons of the “Great Recession” are deeply ingrained within many building supply industry leaders. They have come to understand the relationships made during the good times, will be needed when the bad times come, and that today’s small customer, may be tomorrow’s prime account.

Tweeting and Posting


My dad told me, “Fools names and fools faces, always appear in public places.”  Advice to consider prior to tweeting or posting.

The Essential Attribute Necessary To Be A Leader


When asked about leadership, one of our nation’s greatest leaders responded:

In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man’s associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore is integrity and high purpose.-Dwight D Eisenhower

A lesson our current leaders need to learn and practice!

Don’t Patronize Me!


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After a stray dog—who my dad named Brown Dog— adopted our family it became my job to make sure he was fed.  The first evening I fed the dog, I spooned the contents of a can into his dish and watched as he devoured his meal.  He appeared to still be hungry, so I refilled the bowl and again the food rapidly disappeared.  Thirty minutes later an overstuffed Brown Dog loudly deposited the undigested remains of his dinner at my dad’s feet.

My experience with Brown Dog taught me that dogs don’t possess good sense: put food in front of them and they will eat until they are ill.  There are politicians who believe the same is true of us—we are not blessed with the intelligence to recognize what is good for us.  Even worse, is the belief we are not endowed with self control to avoid unhealthy alternatives.  In other words, there are politicians who are convinced, like dogs, we need to be cared for.

During a preteen birthday party at a friend’s home, several of us snuck off into an adjacent orange grove.  When we were out of sight, the birthday boy lit a cigarette and dared us to take a “drag.”  I didn’t want to appear to be a sissy, but I was frightened—I knew “smokes” were addictive and bad for you.  I took a puff, manfully blew the smoke out and spent the rest of the day worried about becoming addicted to cigarettes.

In college I, like almost everyone, smoked—even during classes.  Several years later after completing army basic training I smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.  I was aware they were bad for me—heck we called them “coffin nails—it didn’t matter, I liked smoking.  On my son’s six-month birthday, deciding I wanted to be with him as he grew up, I quit smoking.

Even though cigarette packs didn’t carry a warning and public service announcement and obnoxious anti-smoking television ads didn’t exist, we recognized smoking was bad for you.  Why then the necessity to spend millions of dollars telling people what they already know?  Because it enforces the appearance that politicians really care about their constituents and it satisfies a patronizing need to take care of people.

Supposedly, the cost to society of caring for those who persist in continuing bad habits is the reason behind regulating behavior.  Actually, this is the rationalization for busybodies sticking their noses into other people’s business.  Give me a break—unhealthy people die young; society will care for healthy people for many more years.  I haven’t seen the studies but I have read that societal cost even up.

To avoid future generations becoming automatons looked after by a benevolent and elitist dictatorships, people, of every political stripe, should respond to attempts to limit personal freedom with“I’m not and I refuse to be treated like a dog.”

Leaders Are Not Retreaters


Annually, we would gather at a local restaurant for a holiday celebration that resembled a wake.  Over drinks, our boss would recount the terrible year coming to an end and how he believed our company would not survive another.  The current year ended in defeat and we faced the coming one with dread.

As director of marketing, I was challenged to keep our salespeople motivated.  A tough task with the fear we weren’t going to make it.  Our boss’s answer to falling sales was to retreat: lay people off and cut expenses. We were spiraling down the drain our ever-worsening level of service drove customers away.

Overwhelmed, our boss  resigned his position and took a job delivering phone books—not as much pay but a lot less stress. In contrast to our Ivy League educated former boss, his successor had only a high school education and little experience in our business.

His first day, he gathered the staff and announced we were going to upgrade our computer system.  A new computer system!  Why would you make a major investment with the company going out of business? Maybe, things were not as bad as we thought.

He presented a positive view of the future and employee morale soared, as did productivity and sales.

More important than a college diploma, he possessed a can-do attitude.  He provided hope, while setting an example of hard work and resistance to adversity.  He was a leader rather than a retreater and the company prospered under his guidance.

When the confederate army surged through a gap in the union line during the Civil War battle of Chickamauga, the northern troops and their officers panicked and ran.

General George Thomas wasn’t running.  He assembled a defense line that held long enough for the retreating army to make it to safety.  Thomas saved he Army of the Cumberland and became forever known as the “Rock of Chickamauga.”

George Thomas was a leader.  In the midst of panic he rallied his troops and held his ground.  In contrast, a retreater is prone to retreat.  At the first sign of trouble he or she gives up the fight, runs for safety. As the leader goes, so go the troops with them all hope of success.

In advance of a Japanese victory, general Douglas McArthur was ordered to flee the Philippine Islands. A pragmatist, he knew the battle was lost but he was determined to win the war.   When he arrived in Australia, he made a simple statement that rallied resistance and offered a vision for the future: “I shall return.”

Like McArthur, a leader is a realist.  He or she understands retreat is sometimes necessary; but when required, it is an organized withdrawal, giving way while maintaining morale and setting forth a vision of an ultimate success.

Even when facing failure, leaders continue to lead: presenting a positive view of the future; standing firm in the face of adversity; and offering hope.