• Have you accidentally killed your own team?

    chris davies blog picRemember those early days managing your first team? Perhaps supervising one or two people? Maybe winning a hard fought promotion over a department? A small percentage of us will have been provided with formal training, others gently eased into the role supported either by management or the outgoing leader. Sweet!

    For the rest of us mortals, introduction to the task at hand was delivered with the beauty, skill and grace similar to that seen in a Tom & Jerry cartoon when the Frying Pan makes its first entrance….and the hits kept coming!

    It was about ‘month 4’ for me when I thought “Why the hell did I fight to get this job??” A few years later and things tend to settle down for the majority moving from knowing to owning the role.

    In my Leadership workshop this week, the room was filled with experienced 1st line managers from a variety of functions and companies. Interestingly they had in common an element in their team who didn’t seem to take any initiative, reluctant (if at all) to accept accountability, people who seemed to have the term ‘dead cat bounce’ written just for them.

    In discussions, it was clear everything had been thrown at the cause to make change! However on this occasion we had the benefit of the analysis available from the latest iteration of the unique platform we use in Sandler. Using these results we could replay the words used by one manager (I will call him ‘Bob’ (it’s always a ‘Bob’ isn’t it!)) as heard by the employee.

    Behaviors ‘Bob’ used when making decisions sounded great to him, used the same for many years but the analysis showed the following was being perceived:

    “He’s very careful with his decisions. He does not want to plunge into the unknown; he usually makes good, very restrained and traditional decisions. In insecure surroundings, he is not a neither good nor brave decision maker.

    • Helps rather than makes decisions
    • Makes sure of all possible outcomes first
    • Delays as long as possible

    No need to call for ‘Sherlock’, rigor mortis had already set in! Have you heard the term “Analysis Paralysis?” Without analysis, Bob’s management style would continue for years. The report identified way too much focus in his decision-making style on:

    • Providing very detailed instructions
    • Correcting own decisions until they are perfect
    • Providing very detailed instructions on how to follow the existing processes

    And

    • ZERO on Inspiring others to overcome their fears and become excited

    In Bob’s case, here are just three initiatives to help bring out the best in his team:

    • Try to talk about opportunities without talking about threats at the same time
    • Don’t dwell on small problems if the larger goals will be achieved
    • Be careful not to interfere with every detail – otherwise you cannot control the big picture

    Our own leadership styles often create more work and problems within our reports. For example a fearless, gung-ho style can also create the same performance shortfalls but require a very different fix.

    Speak to your Sandler agent about the analysis available. not expensive, very quick to implement and might save years of hammering square pegs into round holes.

    Chris Davies

    Chris Davies

    Chris Davies has spent over 35 years in both sales and leadership environments with companies such as Sony, Toshiba, IBM and others. Observing first-hand the declining effects of traditional, much copied selling methodologies. Typically, Chris works with business leaders, partners and top producers who are ready to work smarter and commit their time, money and energy to attract new clients, sell more products or services and generate more profits with integrity. Tel: 01525 280777 Mobile: 07891 055925

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  • Growing your team, why is it so hard?

    One of the biggest leaps a business owner takes is hiring that first employee.  When is the right time? What role should they do? Can I afford it? How do I know they are the right person? All big questions need to be overcome.

    The problem is that for a lot of businesses recruiting subsequent employees doesn’t get much easier either. It may be less of a quantum leap adding more employees but some of the same questions remain in particular how do I know they are the right person?

    Research suggests that hiring the wrong person can cost businesses at least 5 times their salary, which is a hefty price to pay whatever the size of your business. But why is it so hard to find the right candidates?  According to recent research interviewing is only a good predictor of a candidates fit for a role 50 per cent of the time. I was pretty shocked when I read that, that feels a lot like guessing to me. Especially as most of us are interviewing on a pretty infrequent basis, we are not honing that skill. And remember that if you are hiring for a sales role, sales people are good at interviewing but that doesn’t mean they are a good salesperson. Too often I see companies hiring candidates first and foremost because they like them rather than because they are right for the job. Try doing some anti-bonding and rapport with sales candidates and then see how they work to build that rapport when they are out of their comfort zone. After all that’s what prospects will do to them every day.

    So what’s the alternative to interviewing?  Behavioural profiling such as the Devine Inventory provide a more evidence based check from which to screen out candidates or interview more effectively. Good tools like these enable you to highlight flags in the candidate’s profile which can then be probed more robustly in interviews. I don’t know about you but I don’t have time to be hiring people who either can’t do the job, or can do the job but won’t. I only want to be investing my time in those that can and will and 50 per cent isn’t a high enough ratio for me to want to trust my gut through interviewing alone.

    Induction is another equally important part of hiring. Too often I see new hires start in companies, get introduced to everyone, taken for lunch, given a high level overview and to all intents and purposes left to get on with it. Hideous for the new starter and risks the employer waiting too long to know if their new employee is going to make it and what additional support they need to be more self reliant.

    Companies that do this part really well have a very comprehensive induction programme running for at least 90 days, supporting the new hire in all aspects of the role, but crucially making it very clear what the new hire has to do on a weekly/monthly basis to be successful and ensuing that progress checks happen.  If it’s so hard to find the right candidates in the first place let’s make sure that we set them up to succeed, or work out sooner rather than later if we’ve made a mistake and deal with it accordingly.

     

    Caroline Robinson

    Caroline Robinson

    Caroline Robinson is Director of Sandler Training based in Cambridge, working with fast-growing companies who are ambitious about taking their business to the next level. Tel: 01223 882581 Mobile: 07739 344 751

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  • A Thank you letter from the competitor

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Without a doubt, you have a superb product and service offering.  Your knowledge and experience is impressive.  On a level playing field, you would be a formidable competitor.  Thank you for your help in tilting the field in my favor.

    Thanks for being “busy”. All your hard work and effort keeps you unfocused and distracted. Thanks for continuing to do the same as all the other competitors, whilst believing you are ‘different”. Thanks for hiring my cast-offs. Thanks for putting up with mediocre sales performance, for not knowing how to hold your people accountable, or not knowing what to hold them accountable for. Thanks for encouraging the atmosphere of sales desperation, “quoting and hoping”, and saying YES to even the low margin business.

    Thanks for allowing your people to externalize the blame with “it’s the market, the competition, the prospect, the website, the pricing, and the weather”, instead of accepting responsibility “it’s me” and actually doing something different.

    And above all, thanks for continuing to believe that it’s expensive to invest in the development of staff that might leave while accepting the cost of not developing them, and having them stay.

    Yours, etc.

    Unfortunately, my competitor kept this knowledge to themselves. It was delivered eventually, by a friend. In an envelope marked Tough Love.

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand runs Sandler Training in the Midlands based at the Innovation Centre in Longbridge.

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  • Do you or your sales people ever feel uncomfortable discussing the money?

    Whether you are selling a product, a service or a solution at some point you will need to discuss money. This can often be the awkward moment as many people feel discomfort as this part of the sales process.  If you feel uncomfortable and the people you are selling to feel uncomfortable this can lead to a breakdown in rapport, maybe the classic objection of ‘I will think about it’ or a false interest to get rid of you.

    Here is some help – for the full version come along to a Sandler Sales Masterclass briefing at a local training centre as our guest.

    Firstly think about your background and how money was discussed when you were a child; maybe money was plentiful and there was always more where that came from. Or, like me, you came from a modest background and money was hard to come by and every penny was important.  Perhaps adults did not talk about money when you came into the room – it’s no wonder discussing money can be difficult.

    If you came from the ‘money is plentiful’ background, how do you think your tonality comes across when dealing with a ‘money scarce’ background person?  “It’s only a few thousand surely that’s affordable” can put your prospect in emotionally difficulty.  Or your sales people may be afraid of discussing big figures as they may never be in a position to afford the purchase themselves. This can sound like …”Oh! The quote has come out more than I expected, let me see if I can discount that for you as it’s a lot of money”.  This is where sales people give away margin even without any price objection.

    At Sandler we teach people to be ‘Disarmingly Honest’.  An example of this would be “I think I may be able to help you with what we have. Is it okay to discuss budget & investment with you now?  I sometime get uncomfortable discussing money I don’t know about you?  Well, we need to cover the figures so is it okay if I go through these to make sure I don’t miss anything?   Honest – absolutely.  Good for rapport building with a client – you bet.

    If they claim to be okay talking about money you have simply built rapport and got their permission to start to talk about it.  If you are okay talking about money next time stop to think about your prospect – are they?

    Berkeley Harris

    Sandler Training Bristol Tel: 01172 444 360 Mobile: 07584 074 774

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