Thursday, October 29, 2009

KISS Theory Goodbye ... if you know how?

… Action Ways to Accomplish Results

We hear and read a lot about what it takes to run your business successfully. But many times we are drowned in the theory and don’t know the action items or examples of what it takes to… “Just do it”

I had the distinct opportunity to work and to contribute daily in an organization that defined both the benefit of great preparation and planning, and in the value of implementing continuous improvement, quality control and maintaining best practices long before they were fashionable business theories. Indeed we went well beyond just having a solid “game-plan” alone and focused more on the regular implementation and practical attention to detail in each area.

In Kiss Theory Goodbye, Bob Prosen initially establishes the importance of knowing what your top three objectives are; requiring that they are quantifiable, insuring that they are concisely stated and you are tracking them at all times... and with vigilance.

His Five Attributes of Highly Profitable Companies are critically important. They include a relentless pursuit of your vision and results, developing sales effectiveness by highlighting the right goals, operational excellence throughout, the importance of the right financial information and finally gaining a high level of real customer loyalty. As in any practice the devil is in the details but Bob’s illustrations give a good assortment of specific lessons and action items that we all need to take be aware of.

Throughout the book there is an underlying strength in any business that begins with the effectiveness of your business communication, and at the very core, your personal communication skills. This may indeed be ”Communications 101” in that the lesson is to; be thorough, be frank, be concise,and be effective. The Seven Steps for everyday, both illustrate this communication and give a nice overview of how to act; 1)give clear directives, 2)require accountability, 3)never rationalize poor performance, 4)avoid over planning, 5)embrace change, 6)help every team member win, and at the end of each day ask 7)are we closer to meeting our objectives?

Finally an overriding theme is to inspire the loyalty and trust of all your people by consistently being loyal and trustworthy with all of your people. Do this and you will build an effective team and will ultimately build real sustainable performance.

The Performance Detective

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Selling Selling Selling ... How? What? Who? When?

In today’s crazy business marketplace, the pressure continues to fall on the “Sales Department”. Why aren’t they selling products faster? Why aren’t they selling higher quantities? Why aren’t they getting more new customers? Why can’t they get the commitments sooner? What exactly are they promising our customers?

With all of the questions in regards to “Sales” it is critical to know just what drives a productive sales team and ultimately a great salesman. The traditional idea is that salesman are born and not developed. There is also the old school way of looking at the number of contacts made vs. number of actual sales. In the bigger scheme of things there are many business issues surrounding how a business sells its products or services and why. I would like to zero in on the actual sales person and their unique approach. Ultimately you need to be very effective in your sales effort and here is some of the how and some of the why....

If you go back to some of the basic lessons forwarded by a Zig Ziglar, you can talk about attitude and altitude or taking a positive and persistent approach to the selling style itself. But I would also say that many people have talked about “selling” over the years like Brian Tracy's enthusiasm or even Stephen Schiffman with his updated version of 25 Sales Habits of the Highly Successful Sales Person (plus his bonus 5 Habits which incidentally ends up with “keep your sense of humor”).

More recently Jeffrey Gitomer with his columns, websites and speaking engagements; has also fashioned his new Little Red Book of Selling that offers a “take with you” fresh approach in both his presentation style and in what it takes to become an effective salesman. This includes your own continuous improvement and just plain working at it with gusto and smarts. He pontificates that establishing new business relationships by having a thorough understanding of your product offering is critical to establishing trust within your clients. He actively talks about being creative and about taking the risk out of the buying, but more importantly he places a high value on integrity and reliability. In its 18th printing since 2004 he outlines a combination of what it takes to be a Zig Ziglar and a Stephen Schiffman and to combine those ideas and finally get the results you would dream about.

One other very important consideration in today’s marketplace, Jeff Koser has recently assembled a new book published in 2008 and titled Selling to Zebras. The crux of his Sales approach is that in the traditional sales world, we are used to salesman getting a 15% close rate from their sales activities. In a nutshell he brings up the vital emphasis for today’s effective sales approach that you focus or hone-in on your “targeted or qualified” customer prospects and become more productive with your time and eventually your sales close-rates. The emphasis here is why it is important for the specific customer to buy, when it is critical for them to place the order and not get caught up in simply a discussion of the "features and benefits" of your product or service.

Ultimately there is also another discussion on how the business itself must actually support an entirely value-laden product or service offering and then deliver on a customer-for-life experience. That is a topic for another session about how the entire organization must work together to deliver on the entire sales promise. Good hunting and great sales!

The Performance Detective

Monday, October 5, 2009

Kingdomality: Shows Myers Briggs How to Communicate!

KINGDOMALITY: An Ingenious New Way to Triumph in Management
By Sheldon Bowles

There are numerous professional books and classic approaches to help define and understand people, people’s personalities and just exactly how a great team functions at a high level. This is an innovative look at people and their process from a “Fractured Fairy Tale” approach. The intuitive part of this book is that it works incredibly well in getting across the real message of finding productive ways to understand one another. Along the journey we learn to find better ways to work together and potentially build a more effective team at all levels; department wide, office wide, or company-wide.

Ken Blanchard, author of the One-Minute Manager and Raving Fans, writes the forward in this book and he truly is someone that understands what it takes to get your point across in a direct way that is both short and effective. More importantly, the book is valuable because it is engaging and easily understood by any casual or serious reader. The interesting takeaway is that, many of us will not be classic personality profiles of one type alone, but the ability to understand characteristics and begin to appreciate idiosyncrasies… is particularly engaging to improve our communication at all levels!

A purest would say…Why dumb-down something like this? I say … why not? People easily get lost in the minutia of a long and expanded psychological explanation. In this case people can relate to how people act and readily see that there might indeed be another way to look at things.

Whether you are concerned about the functioning of your own business organization, or just your own place in the cosmos, this book will give you pause to understand that meanings are in people and not just in words or actions alone. Understanding the motivation and the fundamental approach of your associates is critical to developing new potential, if not terrific outcomes for your business bottom line. I use this book as an exciting way to “set-the-table” for a new approach of tactical and strategic planning within an organization. This exercise really gets people motivated to look differently at their peers... and ultimately themselves.

-- The Performance Detective

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is our Marketing program expendable?

Is MARKETING just a Department...
… or should it be your company-wide ACTION Blueprint !

As businesses contract and look to survive during this business downturn, we hear executives and boards talk about many types of actions or inaction, what are the trade offs: who to let go... what departments to focus on... where to cutback ... or even what can we do in the meantime. Right now there is a major drumbeat about what part of the operation is necessary, or what is unnecessary, or what are the true centers of revenue and ultimately what is driving our staying power?

All too frequently it boils down to a surface assessment that looks at an immediate value or perceived justification of current ROI. Many people would argue that the Four P's of your traditional Marketing program are already defined and therefore don't need any work during a slowdown. We challenge that just the opposite is actually the case. Now is the critical time to insure that decisions surrounding your approach, and more importantly, the effective execution of product, price, place and promotion are paramount. The real test of looking at your "Marketing/Business Plan" is that your entire marketing strategy, and more importantly the tactical implications of that strategy, should impact and drive every aspect of the business. Your commitment should be to an aggressive execution of your ultimate offering.

"The Essence of your tactical Marketing" ... Your Marketing Strategy should actually be the overriding Action Blueprint that touches every department within the organization.

Key Tactical Marketing Elements and Their Operational Touch Points:
  • Understand the market and know your current marketplace
  • Uncover your true brand and then hone your value-added product offering
  • Develop a pricing strategy that works for you and works for your customer
  • Create new product buzz, promotion and advertising should tell a compelling story
  • Conduct effective sales initiatives that stimulate and target your core audience
  • Provide excellence in service and support, then stand with your product or service
  • Value your customer and find a way to follow-up and let them know you truly listen
  • Exact continuous improvement throughout your organization and encourage new ideas

The elements to accomplish this require attention and leadership that is committed to this over-arching market approach. In today's environment you need to ask if your people and your implementation is... adaptable, communicative, disciplined, enthusiastic, mission conscious, self improving and tenacious. Only if you can insure that this is happening daily will you succeed at maximizing the results when a robust market returns.

---- The Performance Detective

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable Indeed

To understand the dynamics of any type of team is critical, and Patrick Lencioni's book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, has used an illustrative example of a company that provides a rich canvas for a lesson in "team learning". Several illustrations are critical well beyond the fabled 5 Dysfunctions. It's really a prime example of how people can effectively sabotage success by missing critical elements of team behavior.
The 5 Dysfunctions include; an Absence of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability, and Inattention to Results. The storyline takes you into the executive suite as a new CEO comes in to take the reins. The issue is quickly getting to know the cast of characters and their unique personalities and business idiosyncrasies.
One of the key lessons is that many times a company's strongest and most productive worker can also be their biggest liability in trying to build a quality organization. When you simply allow yourself to pacify an egocentric type-A personality at the cost of the team... you frequently stunt the growth of the organization to the point of paralysis.
The book is quite effective in providing very illustrative examples of the challenges that await someone in search of creating a successfully functioning team. A second extremely valuable lesson is that it is as important to have a healthy atmosphere for discussion and even conflict, but even more important to understand how to turn that potential conflict into a mutually acceptable and agreed on mission for moving forward. This is a very good exercise in understanding the dynamic of true team interaction.

.... The Business Performance Detective

Friday, September 25, 2009

Maintaining Business Productivity

Business Performance Leadership

7 Critical Elements of Ongoing Productivity

One of the biggest challenges for most people, and for may companies, is to continue to stay alert and fresh in today's fast moving marketplace. Once a process, product or service becomes successful, we all have a tendency to become complacent in its ongoing execution. We fall victim to it being routine and after several quarters or several years of increasing results or even stable performance, we lose an edge on quality. In many case this is not because we don't have a "quality control" metric in place, but rather we may forgo vigilance to the changing market demand or we simply have not considered a natural product life cycle.

Any of us would be hard pressed to always be vigilant, but that is why it is important that we establish a company wide approach and involvement to the "how" and "what" and even "why" of our execution. The underlying issues are intertwined with the entire process we have established and what we expect from every member of our team. For purposes of a quick overview, it is possible to take abroad look at all of the areas that a company needs to address and I break them down into SEVEN critical areas of company-wide performance:

Do you value your team, do you know your team’s strengths and weaknesses and do you encourage new contributions and ongoing tactical contributions?
Do you have a product or service that your customers want, and at a price they can afford, and is it evaluated and updated on a regular basis?
Do you have a process that delivers quality, encourages improvement and is consistently replicated?
Do you encourage reliable performance by maintaining and improving your best practices?
Does your business provide a memorable product, a system for telling your story and something that your customers believe-in and recommend?
Have you developed a pricing strategy and do you have proceeds to reinvest in the business, update support systems and are able to reward your contributing team members?
Do you communicate regularly with your entire team and does your business organization operate with a sense of urgency, commitment and excitement?

All of these elements have a fundamental thread, beyond just accord with a Business Plan itself or the tactical execution of your mission. It comes full circle with a comprehensive approach to what you have defined as a commitment to maintain business and employee excellence. Many books have been written about what it takes to get to the top, like examples cited by In Search of Excellence, A Passion for Excellence, and more recently Good to Great. It is even more important to then get your team self-motivated to actually stay on top, as is illustrated in the recent book A-Ha Performance.

Ultimately it takes a real commitment to develop your people so that everyone has a hand in the complete process and feels motivated to continue. When your business team is built with a commitment to the value of their individual ownership, then the processes and procedures necessary for a continual improvement approach will be part of the goals that the Team aspires to achieve on an ongoing and regular basis.

--- The Performance Detective