Friday Faves – 8.25.16

082616No post last week.   Overload happens.  (Like doubling up this week!)  Some good ideas as we head to the Labor Day long weekend.  (So, you’ll have time to read for growth & development.)

3 Things To Not Say In Prospecting Calls – The bane and core tool of sales – the cold call.  Some good thoughts here.

Why You Are Not Producing the Results You Want Now – The first step in solving any problem is – recognizing there is a problem in the first place!

How to Consistently Accelerate Buying Decisions – This assumes you have the first 3 processes in place:

  1. TRACKING – CRM or other system to track opportunities, each with standards to be met for each sale stage.
  2. COMPLIANCE – You and your team are entering and maintaining these records accurately and contemporaneously.
  3. REVIEW – A regular (weekly) self- review of your open opportunities to update for accuracy, planning next steps, adding any missing information/research.

How to Distinguish Yourself and Become a Leader – Don’t dismiss this post by its title.  Effective leadership is universally respected, by peers, managers and clients.  It conveys mastery, confidence and reliability.  Who doesn’t want to work with/buy from someone like that?

 

 

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The “C” Word – Part 3

Lead

jeter leader

Management’s responsibility is to lead, and leading people through change is as tough as it gets.  There is a great deal of literature on change management you can easily find, but here we’ll look at this in the context of the three groups discussed in the previous two posts, The “C” Word – Part 1 and The “C” Word – Part 2.

OPPORTUNITY GROUP – You might think this is the easiest group to manage and though in some ways it is, you can’t just let them run with the ball as they might.  As I mentioned in Part 2, sometimes their enthusiasm can get the best of them, causing execution errors.  Activity level will likely be high, but you should watch your CRM system VERY closely. 

  • Is the activity appropriate?  Is your team calling on the RIGHT prospects, or just spreading the word?
  • Are they prioritizing and managing their time effectively?
  • Is the follow up timely, appropriate and consistent?

The part of your team in the Opportunity Group can become peer leaders through their actions, so it’s important that you guide them to show others the way.  The RIGHT way for the company to maximize the success of this change.

POSSIBILITY GROUP – This is likely where you will spend the most time, as those leaning toward the Opportunity Group  need to hear clear, confident leadership from you.  They need to hear that you are not only confident that this is the RIGHT change for the company and presents opportunities for them, but that you are confident in THEM.  Few things are more important to sellers than knowing their boss believes in them and supports them.

Those in this group more cautious will need a little more from you.  Some will need individual coaching, others written action plans.  Still others may need additional training.  Managing your resources will be critical, because you won’t have enough time (mostly your own) to bring EVERYONE along.  So, you’ll need to set parameters, maybe even timelines and clearly communicate them.  Express confidence, offer support, but in the end each individual is responsible for their own work.  Your team needs to know that.

THREAT GROUP – You can’t save everyone, but have to try.  With this group, discuss the parameters, timelines and expectations up front.  This group is already feeling threatened by one surprise, so they don’t need any more.  If there are other opportunities within the company where they might succeed, work with HR to see how you might offer them as appropriate.  With some, you may have to have that brutally honest conversation, if they cannot see for themselves that they need to move on.  Jack Welch’s 10% strategy helped transform GE.  Increased resistance, internally or externally, will make it more difficult for you to deliver what your company expects from your team.

BOTTOM LINE: You have finite resources, so invest wisely.  Project confidence to inspire confidence in your team, over-communicate through the change, be clear about your expectations and hold everyone (including you) accountable.  Recognize that you don’t have all the answers, so be honest with your team when you don’t.  All this will make them more willing to follow your lead.

Good leadership always matters, but it matters even more during times of change or challenge.

Unsucking Customer Service

customer serviceUnless you’ve been living in a survivalist compound for the past few years, chances are you’ve purchased something.  And if you did at the point of sale (when you purchased) or if there was a problem with the purchase or payment, you’ve interacted with Customer Service.  Long hold queues, overly-complex multi-layered options, voice recognition (ack, an oxymoron) before you finally get to a customer service (another oxymoron) representative.  The suck continues.  But, must it?

To unsuck customer service requires change in 3 areas: HR, IT and Leadership.  So, this isn’t going to be easy.

HR

Job Description – The job description of a Customer Service Rep (CSR) needs to emphasize finding solutions, developing and nuturing relationships.  Most now seem to reflect “defend our policies and reduce costs.”  Nothing is more costly than losing customers.

Compensation – This typically non-exempt position needs to have quality and satisfaction incentives.  You can make more money by taking more time with customers to listen, solve their problems and be proactive.  This is more important than number of calls handled.

Empowerment – CSRs need to have enough authority to resolve the issue to the customer’s satisfaction in ONE CALL.  And if they exceed the guidelines, examine the guidelines first, before jumping to discipline.   Better to give a customer a little more than the manual calls for than to shackle and demean them in the customer’s eye by having to ask for permission everytime they come up with a creative solution.  Creative solutions should be encouraged and the best be shared among the team.

Training – There’s a big hue and cry in public education about common core standards and teachers teaching students to pass a test, rather than to think.  I think the same is prevalent in CSR training, they handle a lot of customer complaints in a formulaic manner, much like traditional sales training for objection-handling.  CSRs need to be trained to think like the customer, be solution-driven and think about the long term effects of the customer interaction.

IT

CSRs need to have easy access to as much customer information on ONE screen as possible. The more they can see without clicking around to different tabs, toggling in and out of different applications, the faster they can develop a solution and the more time they can spend nurturing customer relationships.  Their systems need to be as up to date, fast and reliable as those of any other department.

LEADERSHIP

Customer Service is NOT a cost center.  In some cases (upselling) CSRs can generate additional revenue, but in all cases they can reduce lost revenue.  Leadership needs to invest in Customer Service like it invests in all other areas of the business.  What good is all the millions spent in R+D, Marketing, Advertising and Sales if your customers end up on hold for 20 minutes waiting to deal with someone being paid fast food wages, who could give a crap because it’s 10 minutes until their shift ends?  No matter how good your product/service is, at some point most of your customers will interact with your CSRs. If the last interaction with your company is with your CSRs, how do you think that will influence future purchases?  Two words:  Social Media

Customer Service doesn’t have to suck.  In fact, it can be great.  In my next post, I will share 3 GREAT customer service experiences I’ve had and I will NAME NAMES!  (Though my attorney son advises against it.)  Learn from the best.

 

Good to great Boss

good bossSomeone posted this on their LinkedIn page today.  It got several likes and positive comments.  I agree that if you hire the best people you can find and provide thorough onboarding, you need to let them run.  Stifling them with micromanagement, tedious meetings and inane reports hampers them in the short term and turns them into ex-employees in the long run.

But what do GREAT bosses do?

Great bosses treat their employees as their clients.

  • Encourage dialog – We seek ways to engage clients so that we can learn more about their needs and how we can help them succeed.  Works the same for employees and you can’t solve the problem you don’t know about.
  • Keep them smart, keep them empowered – Great bosses continually educate their employees about strategy, tactics, market and competitive intelligence.  This knowledge keeps your employees empowered to become trusted resources for their clients, as you become their trusted resource.
  • Keep them in business – When an employee has a problem, they are out of business. Whether it is an IT, client or product-related problem, even a personal problem, their attention is diverted sometimes to the point of putting them on the bench.  Great bosses recognize they need to help their employees get OVER, AROUND or THROUGH the problem so they can get back in the game.  Quick and effective rehab is worth dropping what you’re doing.
  • Recognize their successes – Genuine successes only, because patronizing debases everyone.  Celebrate the victories as publicly as possible and everyone on your team will want to be the honoree.
  • Hold them accountable – If you hired the best, your employees want to be held accountable because it is necessary for their professional growth.  Keep the standards high and the same for all and use accountability for coaching, mentoring and learning.

And, by the way, YOU are accountable too.  Not just for the results of your team, but also for how effectively you lead them.  (If you have a great boss too.)

In “One Minute Manager,” Blanchard and Johnson wrote: “People who feel good about themselves produce good results.”

People feel good when they have opportunity, great leadership and are treated fairly.  Be that kind of leader.