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The Super Employee Evolution – Part 3

October 18, 2012 1 comment

the tired employee

Without proper management, the employee has more chance to feel alone and under-appreciated.

(continued from The Super Employee Evolution – Part 2)

Bob had had enough.  Overworked, over-stressed and feeling under-appreciated, he asked his boss for a raise.  He was denied.  Citing a poor economy and everyone having to tighten their belts for a while, he was told that perhaps in the future there would be more funding for pay raises but not right now.  He was told how valuable he was to the team and that his efforts had not gone unnoticed.  He was appreciated.

Management began to see glimpses of the danger they were in and began to search for a replacement for Bob….just in case.  There were many applicants and eager personnel eager to take on the job at hand.  Unfortunately, for Management, however, no one was able to take over the existing system as Bob had personalized it.  All his macros and short cuts to make the system efficient and workable for him were indecipherable for anyone else and no one would be able to come in and take over smoothly.  In fact, Management was shocked to discover they would have to hire 2, 3 or maybe even 4 people just to maintain the status quo.

Meanwhile, after working hard to make up for being short-staffed for three years, Bob was no longer satisfied with Management’s response.  Management was in denial and falsely believed Bob didn’t have any place to go.  However, while the job market was not the lush and fertile field of 2005, it also wasn’t the bleak and barren landscape of 2009 any more.  Companies had begun to hire again, albeit very selectively, and Bob was the ideal candidate for the new market; he could multitask, had middle management experience and was never laid off.

Bob received a very generous offer and tendered his two-week notice at work.  To say Management was surprised is a massive understatement.  Suddenly, they realized their mistake.  They had put all their eggs in a basket named “Bob” and for the first time became fully aware of their folly.  If they didn’t keep Bob on staff, there wouldn’t be anyone left to run the IT department and the firm would come to a grinding halt.  They had an emergency meeting and put a counter offer on the table and presented it to Bob.  Finally in a position of power, Bob agreed to stay but with a much higher salary increase.  Bob had basically asked for more than twice his original salary and an extra week of vacation.

Management had no option but to acquiesce.  They were appalled at the position they found themselves in but saw no alternative.  Bob, on the other hand, was finally happy…still over-worked but for double the money, he no longer dreaded getting up in the morning.

Management began to take a look around the company to see just how vulnerable they were in other departments.  Initially, keeping the teams under-staffed was a good thing because it was more cost-effective and added to the bottom line.  However, they now saw the danger in keeping this as a permanent solution.  Fewer employees were actually expendable than Management had believed and the false power Management had over them was now transparent.  The only solution, much to Management’s chagrin, was to hire and add staffing to key areas within the company to prevent another “Bob” situation from surfacing.

Properly challenging and compensating the employee makes for a happy employee.

Is this the only reason why employment is slowly and steadily rising?  No.  Obviously, there are other factors in place.  There is more faith in the banking system again just as banks have more faith in borrowers now than they did four years ago.  Notoriously foolish practices such as approving mortgages for people who did not have the resources to pay them back have been curtailed just as people are no longer borrowing above their means.  Plus, there are other factors affecting the economy and how companies hired/fired over the past five years that I will not get into here.  Suffice to say, The Super Employee Evolution is one of the unique results of the process.  It didn’t happen for every company, but it did manifest itself enough that the topic came up often in my conversations with recruiters, HR departments and the candidates, themselves.  Additionally, it wasn’t just in IT.  The S.E.E. also grew in Sales, Marketing, HR and any other group that required one person to maintain the day-to-day operations of the department over an extended period.

What’s the lesson learned?  For companies, a short-term reduction in force may be fiscally responsible but the long-term effect of keeping a skeletal staff is not worth the risk.  As for employees, the take away is to continue learning and self-education to ensure survival within the company and in the chosen field.

(continued from The Super Employee Evolution – Part 2)

The Super Employee Evolution – Part 2

October 10, 2012 5 comments

(continued from The Super Employee Evolution Part 1)

Fewer employees means more work for the staff.

Bob was having difficulty keeping up with the tasks he had been recently assigned.  While he was familiar with everything required, Bob was far from being an expert in anything and as a result he had to improvise.  Management had seen fit to give him a new set of responsibilities based upon the fact everything was considered “technology”.  Unfortunately, the truth was far from perception.  Database management is a very different world from network administration.  Being a webmaster doesn’t relate to planning budgets for each aspect of the departments and everyone looks down on the hardware technicians.

In order to survive, Bob began to create shortcuts wherever and whenever he could.  He sorted out the required daily tasks and those that had to be performed on a regular basis whether cyclical or periodic.  He began to create a calendar based upon these needs and in a sense he had to triage the tasks that didn’t have to be looked at every day.   Those, he had concluded, would be addressed if, and only if, there was ever a problem with them.

Management’s relationship with Bob was standoff-ish.  It had to be.  No one left in the company knew enough to question Bob and they had to assume and maintain a position of authority.  They couldn’t, under any circumstances, show that they didn’t know what was going on.  The only contact Bob had with management was when they casually asked him how things were going.  “Fine.” he would always reply.  When there was a problem, there would be a group of people gazing into the “fishbowl” Bob felt he was working in until the issue was resolved.

Business continued in this fashion.  Layoffs eventually eased off and Bob never received any additional help.  Corporate was not happy with the economy but it could have been worse, as was evident by just looking around at the multitude of firms that had shut down.  Business remained stale and Bob continued to survive.

One year later found our friend, Bob, growing tired.  The daily fires needed to be put out were beginning to overwhelm him and he once again asked for some help from management.  He needed to expand the IT team once more and bring some much-needed expertise back in.

Management was not ready to comply.  Businesses had learned the same work was accomplished as before only now they were able to do it with fewer employees.  The lower overhead made owners and shareholders very happy as it made the company more profitable.  What neither Bob nor Management had considered, though, was the unhealthy relationship that had been maturing between them.  Bob needed his job and no matter how difficult it became, he wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize his position.  Jobs were still scarce and he was scared into submission.  What neither of them realized was just how desperately Management needed Bob.  They were both about to find out.

Stay tuned for the 3rd and final part later this week.

(continued on to the The Super Employee Evolution – Part 3)

10 Tips For A Rookie Salesperson


A successful salesperson pays attention and learns.Every salesperson begins his or her career as a wide-eyed, rookie with daydreams of closing the biggest deal of the firm’s history, shaking hands with the eternally grateful client as his CEO pats him on the back.  Open expense accounts, membership to the local, prestigious country club and a corner office round out the often-dreamed fantasy.  Before you start buying your next suits at Brooks Brothers, however, make a note that there is a loooong way to go before you ever get to the best parking spot in the front.

Here are 10 tips to help you on your way.

1.  Pay attention.  I can’t stress this enough.  Pay attention to everything around you.  Who do your fellow salespeople turn to when there are issues to resolve?  Who is the leader on the floor?  What are the issues people are having?

2.  Watch your schedule.  You should always be the first one in and the last one to leave.  I don’t understand how this is one of the easiest rules to overlook but it is.  When you are new, there is always something to do…trust me.  Review some of the crm features you’re having trouble with.  Set up your calls for the next day.  Finish documenting your clients interactions.

3.  Get to know your clients.  If you are not in the same area and work primarily over the phone, then read their local newspapers online.  Find out what the weather there is like.  How have their teams done this year?  I used to call on south Texas.  I made sure to know what the local football scene was like…when hurricane season would hit the Gulf…what the local schools were receiving grants.  If you are local to your clients, go to chamber meetings and other networking events.  Even better; form a networking group.

4.  Create a schedule for tasks you need to complete every day.  Starting a new career is overwhelming and sometimes things you truly need to concentrate will be overlooked.  Stick to your schedule.  You’re in sales now so prospecting should be at the top of your list.  Do it every day.

5.  Here’s something that has worked well for everyone I know who has tried it.  Ask to speak with your boss every few weeks to ensure you are on the right path.  You don’t want to go too long in the wrong direction and it also lets your supervisor know you are taking your job seriously.

6.  Dress well.  Don’t over dress, but make sure you are respectable.  If the better dressed people on the floor are in shirts and khakis then you do the same.  Make sure your clothes are tucked in, clean, pressed and for pete’s sake…no white socks.

7.  Don’t be afraid to tell a client you don’t know the answer to a question.  Simply say you will find out the answer as soon as possible.  People will respect you for that.  No one likes a fake know-it-all.

8.  Don’t have more than two drinks at any company function.  As good as a salesperson may be, I have seen too many careers cut short because of a loose tongue or because they just looked sloppy and unprofessional in a social setting.  You will never be allowed to represent the company outside the office.

9.  Learn everything about the product you are selling.  You don’t have selling skills yet and you don’t have a client list so product knowledge is your only ace.  As you grow into your new role you won’t seem so one-dimensional but for now, learn it inside and out.

10. Finally, find a mentor.  Ask one of the veterans if it would be okay if you ask questions when you have them.  Most will be okay with it and it is also a good way for you to learn how sales techniques differ from person to person.  All successful salespeople differ from the others and you need to develop your own style.

If you have any other “Must Do” items for a new salesperson, feel free to leave a comment.  I would love to read them.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Can Help Close The Deal


This past Memorial Day, in between beers and hot dogs and making sure I knew where my kid generally was, I had a chance to speak with a software salesman, (brother-in-law to the host), and we got to talking about shop for a while.  I always love it when I find another example of sales principles that apply regardless of the product or service being sold.

He began to tell me about a recent trip he took to Mississippi for business.  He sells fire fighting training programs to municipalities and had a few appointments scheduled.  He landed at Jackson-Evers International and spent the next two days entertaining, being entertained and mostly getting used to the heat.  Finally the day came for his presentation and he got down to it.

Although he had originally proposed to have three different presentations for the three different towns, he ultimately decided it would be good to bring them all together and give his pitch to one big group.  This is always a risky choice as many sales require a more intimate approach.  If one person were to voice displeasure with his software he ran the risk of losing the entire group.  However, they all seem to have known each other and were all aware he was coming down to speak with them.

He started his talk.  It was a typical conference room crowd.  Some listened.  Some were speaking among themselves and others were on their phones.  He became a bit more aggressive in his engagement techniques but no one was biting.  After an hour, he gave the group a 15 minute break and he stepped outside for a cigarette to gather his thoughts and see how he could turn the crowd around.

Outside, there were a few others from the group also smoking and they casually asked him about life in the northeast.  Somehow the conversation turned to music and, as they began to walk back inside for the second half, one of them casually chuckled and said, “Too bad that program of yours doesn’t play Lynyrd Skynyrd!”.

He stared at their backs for a second as the were walking and then ran to his car to get his mp3 player.  The program he was selling wasn’t built to play music but it did have a mp3 capability used for augmenting the learning experience.  There wasn’t any reason why it couldn’t play music in the background.  He returned to the podium and plugged it in.

Suddenly, no one was checking phones or talking to their neighbor…there were smiles as the beginnings bars to ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ came on and, as a group, all cried, “Turn it up!” at the appropriate time.  There was lots of laughter at that but the sales pitch continued; albeit now with everyone’s attention as country rock played in the background.

Soon after he returned to the office, he was notified that $550k worth of software had been purchased by two of the three attending parties.  All he had done was listen to the group and, more importantly, was willing to make a change to his sales pitch midstream.

The lesson here is that your delivery should be a template and not set in stone.  Be prepared to adjust it as you see fit, whether before or during the presentation.  Your clients will usually give you hints if you are on the right track or not and you need to always be looking for them.  Ultimately, every delivery is a unique as your clients are themselves.

Will Your Business Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?


 Will I survive the zombie apocalypse?  I like to think I have a chance.  I have basic skill sets for living in the woods.  I can trap small animals.  As did everyone else in the 80’s,  I watched MacGyver and imagined myself coming to the rescue of a beautiful girl with nothing more than duct tape, chewing gum and dental floss.  I like to think I’m tougher than I truly am.  Even with that, though, I still think I have a chance.

I believe in the Peter Lynch  “local knowledge” investment school of thought when it comes to thinking of your future.  If you use it then invest in it.  I like that.  It makes sense.  It’s not complicated and seems very rational.  Survival, in any case, is always about common sense, assertiveness and minimizing the weakest link.

That got me thinking.  What is the weakest link in my chain to ward off zombies?  What do I use a lot that I need to be concerned about?  The average person has enough food at home for 3-5 days.  My wife is italian so that means we have enough food for 2-3 weeks if we ration it.  We have enough cars in the driveway that if there were ever an emergency, I could siphon out the gas and fill up one car with extra gas on the side.  I can go 500 miles.

No.  The weak link in my life, (don’t laugh), is my contacts lenses and solutions.  I have very poor vision and glasses no longer work for me.  My survival, when the undead begin to run amok, will be based upon how long I can keep my contacts healthy and lubricated.  Once the contacts are no longer viable, the only way I’ll know if I am in trouble is when I suffer the death-hickey.

You may be laughing at that but everyone with contact lenses I have mentioned this to has had a pretty somber look upon their faces.   They get it.  They understand the weak link the their chain of survivability.  My lenses are good for 6 months and I have 2 sets at all times plus all the fluids I need to maintain them.  Assuming I can find food, shelter, safety and warmth, I will live for at least 12 months.  I addressed my weakest point and made my situation less tenuous.

Think of your business and decide what the weakest link is.  Is it distribution? Is it marketing?  Are you too top-heavy?  Are your sales teams not where you need them to be?  Confront your situation and strengthen the least productive team.  This will have positive effects on every other department as those that were good now will seem great.

Remember, change, even when it is for the best, is a slow process.  Forcing a new process onto any team, to be adopted instantly, will lead to certain failure.  Change takes time.  Allow for the change to be incorporated and explain the change clearly so there aren’t any misunderstandings.  Finally, have a “Kick-Off” meeting with the other departments to ensure the lines of communication are understood and the new roles are clearly defined.  I know a company that does it by simply having an in-house pizza lunch.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate for it to be effective.

There will always be a weak link.  Attack the weak link with determination and logic.  Don’t issue change for the sake of having change.  Once you are done and the department is to your satisfaction, find the next weak link and start over.  Me?  I’m starting to work on my cardio.

When Shouldn’t You Prospect?


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Never.

 

 

 

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Sales Infographics from Around the Web


 

This is a list of sales-based infographics I have found interesting recently.  Feel Free to comment as I know sometimes this type of info is relevant and sometimes it’s not.  Each infographic is also linked back to the original page if you need to increase the image size.