09 Feb

The How of Heart

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Sharon-Drew Morgen

Collaboration. Empowerment. Win/Win. Integrity. Authenticity. We’re finally recognizing the efficacy of acting with humanitarian values! But how do we DO it? How do we know when, or if, to change our comfortable communication patterns? How do we modify any unconscious behaviors to make new habitual choices and recognize when what we’re doing no longer is sufficient?

WHY BEHAVIOR CHANGE ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH

DOing kindness, collaboration, and authenticity isn’t as easy as wishing it to happen. It takes a change in our behaviors; it means we have to change our habits and status quo. And that means we must do more than merely knowing we ‘should’. The problem is that our behaviors occur unconsciously and systemically, and won’t necessary accede to our desire to change. Here’s how it happens.

Our brains unconsciously choose our behaviors from our cache of lifelong subjective experience, values, and unconscious rules that forms our unique status quo. I call this our system – a well-oiled machine that keeps us ticking congruently every moment of the day. Our viewpoints, our styles, our behaviors are all pre-determined and habitual, and represent us consistently so we maintain our individual, unique systems (Systems Congruence) according to our own personal rules. I realize we all think we have unrestricted choice; we don’t. We follow our personal ‘company line’ in every action, every communication. We remain who we are in everything we do.

The problem arises when we wish to do anything different: our unconscious system will resist anything new because it is seen as a threat even if it’s something we’re nominally in agreement with. For any change to occur, our brains must first align the new with the old/habitual so we remain congruent. We know we should go to the gym more often, or eat healthy; we know we should allow our relatives to have disparate political viewpoints. But try as we might, we hard-pressed to permanently change our behaviors. This is the problem with conventional training and Self-Help books. We cannot change just because we seem to want to.

Why can’t we just DO something different? Because before we do, we must figure out a way to bring in the ‘new’ in a way that garners buy-in from the rest of our system so we can continue to be congruent. It’s a belief issue, not merely a behavior change problem. And our behaviors are merely the action, the outward manifestation, of our beliefs. The 400-pound man walking down the street will not heed an offer of a half-priced gym membership – not because he hasn’t looked in the mirror lately or because he’s ignoring his doctor’s warnings, but because his eating and lack of exercise are habitual and match the rules he’s already got in place: to make a permanent change, he’d have to ‘chunk up’ as they say in NLP, and go beyond the ‘What’ or the ‘Why’ to change his beliefs about who he is. He’d have to become a healthy person.

‘What’ to do is behavioral. ‘How’ is structural, systemic, and unconscious. Here’s an example of the difference: ZDNet has an article on transforming an organization on the principles of collaboration. They say it’s necessary to “Empower staff”: “To accomplish this goal it is important to train, support, and mentor staff to help them work more collaboratively. Staff must also practice their new collaboration skills back in the workplace so it becomes the new daily business and not just the latest management fad.”

Great. But HOW does one accomplish this? Everyone will interpret these words subjectively, according to their own beliefs about their skills. Obviously there can’t be organization-wide consistent adoption with just the What; information doesn’t cause change, and ‘What’ doesn’t address how to reconfigure our brain’s automatic choices. ‘How’ demands that we

  • add automatic unconscious choices to our habitual behaviors to comply with our new goals;
  • recognize the difference between what we think we’re doing and what we’re actually doing and notice there is a gap that prevents excellence;
  • install the change we seek without offending what’s been working well;
  • facilitate internal systemic buy-in to ensure our Status Quo is ready and able to change;
  • override habitual behavior choices and replace them with the new as appropriate;
  • maintain systems congruence.

It’s far more complicated than just understanding What to Do. It’s actually How to Be.

CHANGING BELIEFS CAUSES CHANGED BEHAVIORS

The problem with seeking to act with authenticity or empowerment, etc., is that we attempt to make behavioral changes without shifting the underlying system that holds our current behavioral choices in place. To enact any internal changes, to take on new habits or change behaviors, we must shift our core Identities and Beliefs, with new Behaviors the enactment of these shifts.

All of us have unique Identities; our Beliefs are the operating manuals; our Behaviors exhibit our Beliefs in action. Every day, in every way, we ACT who we ARE. I, for one, work out at the gym 9 hours a week. I hate it. But because I have determined that I AM a Healthy Person, I need my Behaviors to carry out my Identity accordingly: I eat healthy, exercise, and meditate. And on the days I would prefer to stay in bed, I ask myself if I’m a Healthy Person today and almost always, get my lazy self up and go to the gym.

This dependence on our Identities and Beliefs is foundational: we will do nothing – nothing – unless there is buy-in. When anything seeks to change us – when we receive training, or get told to ‘do’ something, or when coaches ‘suggest’ or sellers ‘recommend’ or leaders promote a new change – it shows up as a threat and will be resisted unless it’s accepted and adopted by our Identity and given a value set in our Beliefs. Once we ARE the change we seek, our new Behaviors will be natural and permanent.

To act with compassion, to have empathy, to lead with values, to design collaborative environments, we need a set of core Beliefs (I am a Kind Person; I Care About Collaboration With Colleagues) that get translated into new habitual choices; we need to inform our system to match the Doing to the new Being. We cannot congruently act the Doing if it’s incongruent with our Identity. It’s the most difficult aspect of change – creating consistent, habitual actions – because it’s unconscious, systemic, and resistant. It is possible, however, but not simple.

Working, speaking, acting with Heart is not behavioral. We must first Be the people with heart; Be kind, collaborative, authentic people. Organizations need to shift their corporate identities and manage behavioral adoption; we must become Servant Leaders and compassionate Leaders. We just need the Skills of How to accomplish this.

I’ve spent my life coding and designing models that create habitual, unconscious change. Although my work often shows up in the field of sales, it’s a generic model that is used by leaders, coaches, managers, doctors, and teachers, to lead Others (buyers, patients, clients, employees) through the necessary changes to shift their status quo congruently and embrace real change; it’s the ‘How’ of Excellence. After 35 years of teaching this material, I’m well aware of how difficult real change is. But if we begin by aspiring to Collaboration, Integrity, and Authenticity, we can become the change we seek.

_______________

Sharon Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions. More recently, Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? in which she has coded how we can hear others without bias or misunderstanding, and why there is a gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She is a trainer, consultant, speaker, and inventor, interested in integrity in all business communication. Her learning tools can be purchased: www.didihearyou.com. She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com 512 457 0246. www.didihearyou.comwww.sharondrewmorgen.com

 

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29 Jun

DOing vs. BEing: creating rules that put customers first

by Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew MorgenI recently purchased dysfunctional products/services from three vendors who were unwilling to go outside company rules to fix the problems they caused. How can we take part in the Trust Economy if our corporate rules preclude us from taking care of customers? Too often there’s a divergence between company rules and customer needs. I’ll use my vendor issues as a starting point:

  1. Wheaton International Movers. After researching a big cross-country move, I picked Wheaton. But it was a nightmare: their driver was drunk on both ends of the move; boxes were lost; an expensive sculpture was broken by their packer. Getting reimbursed was a 4-month nightmare: I was ignored, lied to, and finally only paid a fraction of what I deserved even though they accepted responsibility. I was regularly told: “Well, unfortunately Ms. Morgen, that would go against our rules.” No one ever apologized; I’m still missing a favorite painting and important office paperwork; my sculpture is gone.
  2. CVS online pharmacy. These folks sent a bottle with crushed pills. I fought for weeks to get the pills replaced but I was told I should send them the offending bottle first (the post office is in a different town). “I understand your concern, but we must operate according to company rules.” Rules before my health?
  3. Fitbit.  I purchased a broken Fitbit from an online vendor. Fitbit said they’d send a replacement I never received; the replacement from the online vendor was also broken. Reps at Fitbit actually said they received hundreds of calls a day about the problem but weren’t allowed to do anything about it until their ‘fix’ was ready. What?

As a consumer, I trust I’ll receive what I pay for, and be cared for if there’s a problem. Yet each company above took care of their rules before taking care of me. They put the DOing before the BEing.

RULES

When companies construct internal rules that are juxtaposed with customer needs they ignore the consequences

  • Without customers, there’s no need for rules.
  • Customer’s complaints go viral.
  • Hurting, cheating, disregarding, and ignoring customers always, always loses business.
  • For each customer who doesn’t feel fairly treated, companies lose unknown-hundreds of prospective clients for an uncertain time moving forward.

Too often companies confuse their rules [the DOing – regulations, results, performance] with a customer’s needs [the BEing – values, feelings, requirements]. Too many companies make it binary – company rules OR customer criteria – rather than Both/And. How do we design customer service scripts and training, how do we instill a primary focus on serving customers, to achieve Both/And and win/win?

The difference between DOing and BEing is Heart – heart, being one of those ‘soft’ ‘feminine’ words that assumes it’s not possible to make money and make nice (While training Buying Facilitation® at Morgan Stanley I heard they were conducting ‘closing’ training the following week. What? Why do you need both training programs? “Because BF is ‘soft’ and we need ‘hard’ skills to close.”). Isn’t it time to meld heart and head and DO-BE-DO-BE-DO? To make money AND make nice? All research shows the BEing is more profitable.

HOW TO PUT CUSTOMERS FIRST

There’s a way to put customers first AND take care of corporate rules. A few examples:

  1. Use an impossible customer request as a means to create a life-long partner.

“I hear you’d prefer if we were able to X. Unfortunately we aren’t able to do that, but we want you to be happy. Is there anything else I can do to get you what you deserve? Let’s see if we can get creative.”

Years ago while working with Bethlehem Steel during a trucker’s strike, I had my clients actually purchase steel retail from Pittsburg Steel to make sure Mazda wouldn’t have expensive downtime. We took the hit on cost to keep the customer happy. Well – to keep the customer!

  1. Use customer’s feelings to exhibit your dedication to them. During month 4 of my Wheaton ordeal, someone said “If you don’t stop shouting I’ll hang up on you!”  Seriously? The rep should have been taught to grow a pair and not take it personally:

“Wow. Sounds like you’re really upset. I can imagine how annoyed you must be. I’m so sorry.”

  1. Make sure each Rep owns the problem. Nothing makes customers more angry than having to call back again and again (and be on hold forever) to find someone to help them, or having to repeat repeat repeat the same complaint to each new Rep. Assign the first Rep to own the problem to resolution.

MAKING MONEY AND MAKING NICE

To operate effectively in this new world of connection, workarounds, visibility and competition, your main differentiator may be how you take care of employees and customers.

  1. Design company rules that put customers first. So, instead of ‘Send us the damaged pills first [so we can fix any internal problems here]’ it would be, “That prescription is important to your health. I’ll send you an entirely new bottle and include a return mailer so you can send the bad ones back at your convenience. I’m sorry.”
  2. Trust that customers aren’t your enemies: they pay your bills.
  3. If you broke it, it’s yours. If you send a bad bottle of pills, a bad Fitbit (twice), or break a sculpture, fix it easily. Don’t take your costs out on the customer.
  4. Make sure that every customer is happy by the end of each interaction. An unhappy, screaming customer cannot be passed on.
  5. Create a vision statement that includes the words ‘Customer Service’. So: We are a Customer Service company that designs CRM software.
  6. Employees are customers. Happy employees take care of customers. I’ve never heard of a company that’s loving, kind, and respectful to their employees and mean to their customers. It’s that BEing thing again. I want to share a story that embodies the Truth of this.

Years ago a client sent a new employee to one of my Buying Facilitation® public training programs to get him caught up with the team I already trained in-house. This man, call him Glen, was angry, rude, mean, and dismissive of everyone around him. I called my client: Who is this mean person? He’s making everyone cry. Why did you hire him? “Do whatever you have to do to break him. I hired him because he’s got potential.” So I went into action on Day 2 and facilitated Glen through the outcomes he was causing. On Day 3 he came to class like a saint – supportive of others, kind, gentle, fun. What happened? Here’s what he said:

Every day, I’ve had to leave my house for work and put my ‘mean’ suit on. I was told I had to convince prospects, push closes, bias discussions about our products to promote a sale. I hated it: I had to shift my personality to ‘Do’ this manipulative, insensitive person. I told myself I had to become a shark. I’ve been miserable and my family has suffered; I didn’t know any other way to keep my job except to follow their rules and be miserable. Now I’m learning it’s possible to make money AND make nice; now I can be my real self and do my job successfully.

As a testament to his change, he got a huge – huge – tattoo of a shark on his back the evening he had his realization. He came to class the next day with the tattoo stating “I’ve put the shark behind me.”

To determine if you need to rethink your rules, to be part of the Trust Economy, consider these questions:

How will you know that the rules you have in place are customer-centric? If you need several layers of customer service to handle angry customers, or you regularly read negative Tweets or Yelp comments about you, there’s a problem.

How can you tell if you’re putting employees first? High turnover might be an indication.

How often do customer problems get escalated? Have you trained every level of staff to seek win/win results?

If you put people first, how would your rules change? And what beliefs would you need to reconsider?

What skills do employees have to achieve win/win when a problem occurs? Remember the mythical customer service rule Nordstrom was famous for? “Use your best judgment.” Of course that changes your hiring criteria. So be it.

I realize regulations are necessary to run a company. But so are customers. It’s possible to do the DOing and the BEing in a way that promotes income and care. What’s stopping you?

_______________

Sharon Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions. More recently, Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? in which she has coded how we can hear others without bias or misunderstanding, and why there is a gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She is a trainer, consultant, speaker, and inventor, interested in integrity in all business communication. Her learning tools can be purchased: www.didihearyou.com. She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com 512 457 0246. www.didihearyou.comwww.sharondrewmorgen.com

 

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19 Nov

Prospects Aren’t Always Prospects

by Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew MorgenAs sellers, we’ve been taught that someone with a need that our solution fulfills is a prospect. But that’s not true or we’d be closing a lot more business and wasting a lot less time following the wrong prospects. Just because we see a need does not mean they A. want it resolved, B. want it resolved now, C. have the buy-in to bring in an external solution rather than using their own internal fix or beloved vendor, D. are ready to give up the work-
around they have in place that resolves the problem well-enough. So rule number #1: need does not a prospect make.

Unfortunately, the sales model has no capability to go behind-the-scenes to facilitate buy-in from the within the buyer’s culture/system – the other people who don’t see a need or don’t want to share budget, the tech group that wants to do it all themselves, or the President who has her own agenda and hasn’t informed everyone yet. But, and here’s rule #2: until everyone and everything that will touch the new solution buys-in to bringing it on board, there will be no purchase, regardless of a need.

A BUYING DECISION IS A CHANGE MANAGEMENT PROBLEM

Buyers have change management problems, not solution choice problems; a solution purchase (or any sort of change) is merely the last element in a chain of events – assembling the right Buying Decision Team members, getting buy-in, maintaining the status quo to avoid disruption – that must manage any change (and a purchase represents change) to enable the status quo to maintain it’s comfort. Rule #3: the status quo is sacrosanct, regardless of the need or the efficacy of your solution.

Here are two situations in which I failed miserably (and lost quite a bit of money), prior to understanding that buyers (in companies and individuals) must manage internal change before they can buy.

I did a pilot for an iconic multinational. Using Buying Facilitation® the group had a 400% increase in sales over the
control group (we shortened the sales cycle from 7 months to 4 weeks). They chose not to role out my program because the problems caused by increased revenue and cash flow issues, shifts in the manufacturing schedules, etc., would cost many millions to fix. They eschewed the increased profit to maintain the system.

I trained a large insurance group that got a 600% increase in sales over the control group (they went from 110 visits and 18 closed sales to 27 visits and 25 closed sales). After the test month, the trained team handed in their resignations because they said they were ‘field sales’ reps and would rather quit then be ‘inside sales’ reps, regardless of how much money they made. They liked handing out donuts and schmoozing.

From my point of view this is nuts. But from theirs it made sense. The status quo must be maintained at all costs – at all costs – regardless of the benefits of our solutions. Indeed, if they had known how to change without disrupting the status quo, they would have already. Companies prefer excellence, so long as they maintain stability. And when we think they are excellent prospects, their purchase of our solution might butt up against their needs for stability. Unless they can figure out how to address this, they are then not prospects regardless of their need or the efficacy of our solution.

THE SALES MODEL IS SOLUTION-BASED; BUYING IS SYSTEMS-BASED

Philosophically the sales model is accurate: as sellers we clearly see needs that our solutions will resolve. But it’s not a prospect until or unless the Buying Decision Team – everyone who will touch the final solution – is ready, willing, and able to:

          * bring in our solution and knows how to manage any changes in people, rules or job descriptions,
* bring in new technology without downtime,
* ensure the disruption won’t cost more than the problem it’s resolving,

they cannot buy. Indeed: a prospect is someone who WILL buy (and knows how to manage their change), not someone who SHOULD buy.

I developed Buying Facilitation® in 1983 to manage the issues my own sales team faced in my tech startup. As a sales professional, I never understood why ‘prospects’ weren’t buying as often as was logical. When I became an entrepreneur, I realized the problem buyers have when I needed to purchase solutions myself: how could I buy new software when the new programs weren’t working yet? When would be the right time to add new folks since the last new batch wasn’t fully trained yet? How would a new manager work with the current team when the current team had been working so effectively as unit for so long? When potential vendors came in to pitch new solutions to me, I understood the curiosity I had as a seller: the problem was not my need, but about managing my status quo effectively, and the sales model merely focuses on placing solutions and ignored the change management issues I had to deal with as part of my buying decision process.

So I developed my Buying Facilitation® model to add to sales the capability of beginning our prospecting by first facilitating the prospect’s ability and desire to seek excellence. Then, together (even on a prospecting call), we determined and addressed their tolerance for bringing in a new solution. I even taught my techies how to facilitate their users to make sure they got the buy-in for their programmers and project leaders and get the right people and the right data at the right time.We learned to enter each sales call as a facilitator rather than as a detective seeking a need/solution match or ‘qualifying’ a prospect immediately according to some specious standard we originally thought might have meaning.

Help prospective buyers determine how to change, how to get buy-in, how to bring in your solution. Along the way, you both will determine next steps, who needs to be included, and how to get everyone on board – with you! – to move toward the remedy will provide – even on a prospecting call! And then you can sell. Buying Facilitation® first, then sales. You need both. Then you can help buyers decide to be prospects – and they will buy.

_______________

Sharon Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions. More recently, Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? in which she has coded how we can hear others without bias or misunderstanding, and why there is a gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She is a trainer, consultant, speaker, and inventor, interested in integrity in all business communication. Her learning tools can be purchased: www.didihearyou.com. She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com 512 457 0246. www.didihearyou.comwww.sharondrewmorgen.com

 

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18 Jun

Hey Mr. Sales Director, George Trachilis is NOT nuts. Are you nuts?

by Michael Hoffman

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dedoOne of your prime objectives as a sales director is to get your teams out of their inbox and in front of the customer as much as possible. I’m not knocking the importance of email, I’m just saying that you probably see a huge benefit to having your teams managing their inboxes at twice their current rate, with 90 percent fewer errors and 80 percent more attention to priority.

A lot of leaders see email as a personal time management problem. They’re nuts.

Email, is a process. It’s a factory. Mail comes in, gets processed and goes out. It’s what transports your business all day long. If you see that as a personal problem, then you, indeed, need your head examined. Luckily, processes can be tuned up my friend (we can still get a bit personal).

Since you and your teams have been managing email about the same way since ’94 (mail comes in, you poke at it, you go home), it’s not that difficult to imagine that a company like ours could completely transform the process if we made it our core business, but to achieve a 95% adoption rate of a best practice in any area is nothing short of amazing.*

George Trachilis, the founder of the Lean Leadership Institute with Jeff Liker – and one of many Lean experts who recommend LeanMail, says,
“…It has personally helped me reduce my email management time by 50%…”

Now we can’t guarantee those insane results for everyone, but 30 percent improvement? No problem. Don’t reach 30 percent? Don’t pay. Which KPI’s do we use, you ask? Yours. Whatever you throw at us — or we’ll suggest what we think are important ones since most organizations haven’t put that much thought into inbox KPI’s. They should though, since the time spent managing email represents a whopping 25-40 percent of salary spend. Yes, if you spend 25-40 percent of your day managing email it means that 25-40 percent of your salary goes to processing email. That’s an enormous amount of money in ANY organization isn’t it? (By the way, have you ever wondered who’s responsible for this area in your organization? Good luck. They don’t exist.)

So, Mr. Sales Director, your nuts if you don’t at least pause for a second and imagine what your sales teams would be able to achieve if they doubled their productivity and focused on the 20 percent that brings you 80 percent of your profits in an area they spend a huge part of their day in. You heard me. Nuts.

*According to our 6-month post-training survey with 82% responding.
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29 May

Meetings: The Purpose, The Pain, The Possibility

by Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew MorgenAs business folk, we hold meetings regularly. Yet often we don’t accomplish what we set out to achieve. Why?

The Purpose

Meetings are held to accomplish a specific, beneficial outcome requiring the attendance of the right people with the right agenda.

The Problem/Pain

Often we end up with miscommunication, wasted time, incomplete outcomes, misunderstanding, lack of ownership and ongoing personnel issues – sometimes an indication of internal power and faulty communications issues.

The Possibility

With greater success we can: stimulate thinking; achieve team building, innovation, and clear communication; and efficiently complete target issues. Here are some problem areas and solutions:

People. When outcomes aren’t being met effectively it’s a people- and management problem including: fall-out, sabotage, and resistance; long execution times; exclusion of peripheral people; restricted creativity and communication; exacerbated power and status issues. Are the most appropriate people (users, decision makers, influencers) invited? All who have good data or necessary questions?

  • Rule: unless all – all – relevant people show up for the meeting, cancel it. It’s impossible to catch people up or have them collaborate, add creative thoughts, or discuss annoyances. Once it’s known that meetings aren’t held unless all are present, the frequency, responsibility, and motives shift.
  • Rule: unless all – all – of the people who will touch the outcome from the meeting’s goals are in some way represented, the outcome will not reflect the needs of all causing fallout later, with resistance, sabotage or a diminished outcome.

Agenda. No hidden agendas! Recipients of potential outcomes must be allowed to add agenda items prior to the meeting.

  • Rule: unless all – all – of the items of ultimate concern are on the agenda, the meeting will be restricted to meet the needs of a few with unknown consequence (resistance and sabotage).

Action. Too often, action items don’t get completed effectively. How do action items get assigned or followed up? What happens if stuff’s not done when agreed? How can additional meetings be avoided?

  • Rule: put a specific, consensual, and supervised method in place to ensure action items get accomplished as promised.
  • Rule: as meeting begins, get consensus on what must be accomplished for a successful outcome. This initial discussion may change agenda items or prioritize them, detect problems, assumptions, resistance before action items are assigned.

Discussion. How long do people speak? How do conversations progress? How do the proceedings get recorded? What is the format for discussions? How is bias avoided?

  • Rule: record (audio) each meeting so everyone who attends can have it available later. Folks who didn’t attend are not privy to this audio. (See People above).
  • Rule: design a time limit for speaking, and rules for topics, presentations, discussions, cross talk.
  • Rule: include periods of silence for thought, notes, reflection.

Understanding. Does everyone take away the same interpretation of what happened? How do you know when there have been miscommunications or misunderstandings?

  • Rule: unless everyone has the same perception of what happened for each topic, there is a tendency for biased interpretation that will influence a successful outcome.
  • Rule: one person (on rotation) should take notes, and repeat the understanding of what was said to get agreement for each item before the next item is tackled. This is vital, as people listen with biased filters and make flawed assumptions of what’s been said/agreed.

Transparency. Agendas should be placed online, to be read, signed-off, and added to.

  • Rule: whomever is coming to the meeting must know the full agenda.
  • Rule: everyone responsible for an action item must be listed with time lines, names of those assisting, and outcomes.

Accomplishments. Are items accomplished in a suitable time frame? What happens when they aren’t?

  • Rule: for each action item, participants must sign off on an agreeable execution. A list of the tasks, time frames, and people responsible must accompany each item, and each completed task must be checked off online so progress is accountable.
  • Rule: a senior manager must be responsible for each agenda item. If items are not completed in a timely way, the manager must write a note on the online communication explaining the problem, the resolution, and new time frame.

Meetings can be an important activity for collaboration and creativity if they are managed properly and taken as a serious utilization of time and output. Ask yourself: Do you want to meet? Or get work accomplished collaboratively?

__________

Sharon Drew Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? (free download at www.didihearyou.com) and NYTimes Business Bestsellers in the area of sales, decision facilitation, change management, and helping buyers buy. She is developer of Buying Facilitation® and a recognized thought leader in communication and decision making. She is a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant. For those in sales, coaching or leadership want to communicate better Sharon Drew Morgen has the tools to help make improvements with online learning, group coaching, or on-site training. Sharon Drew can coach and train your sales teams or license trainers to prospect and get more appointments by finding real buyers on the first call. She can be reached at: sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.

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08 May

Is this you?

by Michael Hoffman

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FullSizeRenderI’ve seen Hector (not his real name) wheeling his cart around Barcelona a few times. It’s massive. It must be extremely difficult to maneuver. One day I went up to him asked him if he really needed all of those things. He actually articulated an impressive defense.

Does that remind you of anyone you know?

It reminds me of all the people I have encountered who justify their overstuffed inboxes, piles of papers on their desks and drawers filled with goodness knows what. Just like this homeless person, they carry all their crap around (mostly digitally) and defend their ways as not being problematic at all for them. I can find everything; It doesn’t bother me; I’m a creative type; or the biggest lie: I don’t have the time (What they mean is: I don’t want to prioritize being orderly).

If someone took Hector’s cart, he would find a new one. In a few weeks it would be as big as he could bear because he is a pathological hoarder. What about you? Isn’t it true that those times you have cleared your desktop, physically or digitally, you have gotten some satisfaction – and maybe even some pride from the achievement? Yes, it eventually fell apart again because you didn’t have the correct habits in place, but that’s another story. The point is that it felt good. You felt organized and on top of things. If you have had moments like that, then you’re not a pathological hoarder. But if those moments are few and far-between you’re also not at your best. Imagine having that feeling of being at your best, not just when you finally get so tired of the mess that you painstakingly clean it up, but EVERY DAY. Just because it hasn’t worked for you in the past doesn’t mean you can’t be more consistent NOW. It just means that you need some help in finding out what the trick is – for you – from someone who has enabled many others in the past.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and it takes time to build new habits, but what if you could change this part of your life in a few short weeks? From then on, you’d be at your best EVERY DAY. Or you can continue with your cart; the one that everyone notices but you.

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23 Apr

Most salespeople completely blow their first newbiz meeting – including you

by Michael Hoffman

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You land a meeting with a prospect that you’ve been researching for quite some time.  Then you make the same mistake that most sales people make:  you book an hour-long meeting at her office.

Businessman
What’s wrong with that?  Plenty.  The chances of converting that meeting into a sale are quite slim at this point.  So let’s look at the math:

Meeting: 1 hour
Travel to and from: 1 hour
Waiting time (you always want to leave a margin for traffic): 15 minutes
Preparation: 30 minutes

You’ve just invested nearly three hours on a meeting that hasn’t yet been properly qualified.  Big mistake.

Not only that, for every meeting you’ve booked you could have probably booked three if you had asked for 15 minutes instead of an hour.

What can you do in 15 minutes? You’d be surprised – but who says it has to remain a 15-minute meeting if you’re both having fun?

 First, let’s look at the typical office visit:

  1. After travel and parking you wait for the prospect, then more waiting.  Even if you politely refuse the coffee in order to not lose more time, she’ll grab a cup.  Fine, you take care of the small chit-chat while you’re walking down that mile-long corridor.
  2. Down to 45 minutes, you get to business.  Introductions, etc.  Finally, you have 30 minutes to do your song and dance.

If you don’t get a second meeting, you’ve just blown about three hours.  Ouch!

Now let’s look at the potential behind 15-minute LeanMeetings® for sales executives

  1. No travel, no coffee, just a quick call to qualify each other.  Both of you agree this is a good idea before blowing an hour with a total stranger.
  2. With only 15 minutes to work with, you dispense with chit-chat and long introductions and get right down to the business of qualifying each other.
  3. If you’re not a good match, you’ve lost 15 minutes (more likely just 10 if you’re good) – not 3 hours!  Think about it: how many of your first face-to-face meetings get to the next level?  If it’s less than 100% then following this LeanMeetings® method is a no-brainer.  Don’t forget that you’re booking three times as many meetings because you’re only asking for 15 minutes.  Who doesn’t have 15 minutes?
  4. Wait, it gets better.  What if it goes well?  The phone call doesn’t have to end after 15 minutes.  You’ve planned 30 minutes in your calendar – and you’ve got to know that she doesn’t have an 11:15 or an 11:45 meeting right?  So you spend the second half of the call planning a “real” meeting with the right stakeholders attending.  In the end, you get the same amount of “quality time” but with less than 20% of the time investment – never mind the gas and parking savings.
  5. Your next meeting (your first live meeting) has the right people around the table so you book 90 minutes – at her suggestion.  Shazam!

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15 Apr

8 strategy questions every CEO should ask

by Jeroen de Flander

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With 300+ likes and 1K shares, the strategy article 8 things every leader should know about strategy somehow struck a nerve. But as many readers pointed out correctly, it’s one thing to know what strategy is all about, but it’s another to get out there and come up with one.

As you will probably agree, there is no magic formula for crafting the perfect strategy. If there was, the business world would look a lot different. But that does not mean there aren’t a few shortcuts that you can take. Here are 8 strategy questions to inspire your strategic thinking.

1. Should I strengthen my current strategy? And if yes, how?

Are you doing ok today? If yes, ask yourself how you can strengthen your existing strategy. Look for ways to improve what you do well already. Think about introducing new technology, features, products or services that leverage other areas in the value chain and fit with the current strategy. In short, build on what you already have.

2. How can I copy with pride?

Copying what others in your industry in your main markets are doing isn’t smart. You will start competing on the same axes and this competition will lead to price erosion. But copying can still pay off big time. The world is a big place and many great companies only operate locally. But in this information era, it’s easy to find them, learn from their success and see if some of their ingredients for success can be copied.

By spending only one evening on the internet, 56 out of the 80 companies that participated in my research found at least one great example in another geographical area that fuelled their strategic-thinking process

3. How can I go beyond product innovation?

Don’t focus only on the product or service – a risk, especially in an engineering environment. There are more things to a value chain then the product itself. The key to a sustainable competitive advantage is that ALL activities are tailored to the value proposition.

4. How can I recapture company heritage?

If your company has been around for some time, it follows that it has been doing something well for at least a certain time period. Finding out what that uniqueness is/was and reapplying it to boost your strategy is an interesting way of fuelling your reflection process about strategy. This doesn’t mean that you have to re-do it in the same way, but an adapted version might be just what you need.

5. How can I take advantage of a crisis?

Take a look at these figures from an article in the Harvard Management Update(Baveja, Ellis, Rigby, March 2008). A study of more than 700 companies over a six-year period found that “Twice as many companies made the leap from laggards to leaders during the last recession (90-91) as during surrounding periods of economic calm”. And most of these changes lasted long after the recession was over − a clear indication that what you do during the crisis determines your position when it’s over. Put differently, what you do during a crisis determines your strategic position once it’s over. So when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And win in the end.

So keep going, even when it’s tough out there.

6. How can I build an execution edge

Strategy Execution provides a competitive edge. A strategy needs to reinvent itself every five to seven years. Execution capabilities last much longer. So it pays off to invest in strategy execution excellence.

7. How can I innovate my business model?

A business model is a fancy word for the combination of choices you have made in your activities – your value chain – to bring your value proposition to life. The concept has been around for a long time, but for some reason, everyone apart from strategy consultants have forgotten about it. A recent book by Alexander Osterwalder in which he puts thinking about business models in an easy-to-use format has been a big hit. If you want to get going, identify activities and ask yourself some questions for each block.

8. How can I create Shared Value?

Sustainability is a hot topic today and I believe it is more than a fad. Shared Value is a new concept that helps strategists to incorporate social value into the strategic positioning of an organisation. And it goes far beyond philanthropy.

Michael Porter’s definition of Shared Value is: “You create shared value by enhancing the competitive position of a company while at the same time advancing the society in which it operates.”

The words ‘at the same time’ are very important. When people look at the relationship between a company and society, they tend to think it’s a zero-sum game, a game with only one winner. The strategy concept of Shared Value looks at the positive sum. It means that certain choices will strengthen the strategic position of the organisation and at the same time offer benefits for society.

It’s your challenge as a strategist to find that sweet spot.

There’s an active discussion on LinkedIn Pulse. You can join it here

Original source: The Performance Factory by Jeroen de Flander

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26 Mar

How my small company cut in half our $3.2 million dollar inbox expense in just 12 minutes!

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greasymOK, I have a small company of only 200 employees, so $3.2 million is nothing. But imagine a company of 2,000 employees that spend 2 hrs. per day on email with an average annual salary of $70,000. That would mean that they spend OVER HALF A MILLION DOLLARS PER DAY managing email.

Since we all know that email is a fact of life (nothing we can just cut out of the budget) I came up with a quick fix in the form of a memo that I sent to everyone in the company with the following 5 suggestions:

  1. Don’t check your mail too often during the day (Just enough so you don’t miss anything).
  2. Respond quickly. (I got this one from Google’s Eric Schmidt – GENIUS! – So don’t pay too much attention to rule 1)
  3. Use the OHIO rule; Only Handle It Once (unless you can’t, so don’t – and most you can’t)
  4. Prioritize your mails before responding, then answer the high priority mails first – remember that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. (I’m sure there is a way to do this in Outlook, just play around with the menus until you get it right)
  5. Don’t Cc: everyone, just the ones who really need the information (But always keep your boss in the loop and maybe a few others.)

So I figure, if a CEO of a 2,000 employee company does what I did, he could save $16,000,000 in just 12 minutes.

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you. The truth is you CAN double your productivity and cut in half your email management cost. But you CAN’Tdo it with a memo, seminar, workshop, add-in, app, or any of the other methods that you’ve tried. There is only one solution on the market that works for entire populations of employees and it takes a lot more time than 12 minutes to see the results. 10 TIMES That. (Yikes – two hours!)

It takes 10 times more time than a memo, but it’s the only long-term, complete solution for your multi-million dollar black hole you call an inbox.
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06 Feb

8 Good Habits For 2015

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Change habits

Change = changing habits

If you want to change anything about yourself, it will require changing one or more habits, and since developing or stopping or changing a habit is so darn difficult, it’s best to focus on one particular habit at a time. Since it is so hard to do this, you will need the proper tool in place. Luckily, that’s just half a sheet of paper.

How:

Pick the easiest habit that you want to improve upon and apply to as many things you can for 30 days.
Print out the label below, cut off the piece you don’t need, then fold and place on a flat service in front of you. Make a new one for each good habit.
Schedule this exercise for the first work-day of each month in your calendar.
Repeat with the next.

Most readers will see familiar faces here. The idea of this exercise is not to nod in agreement that these would be good habits to form; it is to help you choose one habit to work on for an extneded period of time so that you master it and can move on. If you don’t like the idea of taking one month to complete the formation of a habit, you can try two months before going to the next one instead. Even if you focus on just one for three or four months you can’t go wrong. On the other hand, going too quickly increases the risk of not locking in the habit. It’s about retention, not velocity.

1. Avoid “white” or seemingly harmless lies.
You don’t have to tell your wife the truth when she asks you if she looks fat in that dress because our opinions should not always be trusted since they sometimes change over time; but late to an appointment? Don’t blame it on “traffic”. Instead, just apologize. You don’t have to give details. I planned poorly is a hundred times better than risking your integrity by inanely blaming traffic, which will be interpreted by the offended person as poor planning anyway. It’s not about being caught; it’s about the small lies overburdening you over time. Conversely, eliminating white lies incrementally builds up your self-confidence. This is first on the list because it has amazing impact on everything else.

2. Clean up after yourself.
In every way and every situation. Leave the room better than when you found it – always. Keep your desk clean, car, your closet. Perform a Kaizen (change for the better) in your stock room, your kitchen or in one room of the house every month.

3. Finish what you start.
Or at least fully complete parts of it that are usable, and keep track of the rest. That also means not starting things that you can’t finish.

4. Swallow the frog early in the day.
Do the most difficult things of your day in the beginning when you have the most will-power. Research shows that will power is like a muscle. It tires from use, but can also be strengthened.

5. Avoid speaking negatively and avoid others who have the same bad habit.
Complaining is the complete opposite of solving. Stay away from people who nag. After a while it becomes contageous.

6. Do what you promise.
Especially arriving on time. Integrity is the bond you have with all of those within your sphere of influence. Break it and people lose trust and faith in you, which, over time, is very hard to mend. Respect your promises to others and, most importantly, to yourself. If you have too much on your plate, you are breaking promises to yourself. Intervene in advance of failure.

7. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Think about how they will perceive what you are communicating or doing. Without understanding context and perspective we run the risk of losing objectivity; creating problems rather than solving them; and appearing blunt and unsympathetic.

8. Create lots of systems that help you navigate on auto-pilot and give you overview.
There more autopilot best practices you have, the fewer mistakes and stress you will have. These can include calendaring, tasks, projects, shopping, etc. Anything to help you forecast what is around the corner. Don’t worry that it can seem nerdy. No one will ever know unless you have a few too many and gush about all your systems. I didn’t add “Stop drinking too much” to this list, but if the latter occurs…

Three tips to facilitate change:
1. Be consistent: Consistency is the mother of habit. The brain needs consistency in order to carve out those neuro-pathways that build in your ability to go on auto-pilot. The more consistent you are, the less you have to think and try.

2. Small is always better than big when starting a new habit: Get good at filtering out all your dreams and desires and go for things that are easily achievable until you build a consistent track record.

3. Simplify, simplify, simplify. ‘nuff said.

Remember that the objective here is to go slow. Pick just one to start with and keep the reminder on your desk, refrigerator or your bathroom mirror – or make several copies and post them for everyone to see them. Who won’t benefit from that?
I honestly don’t expect everyone to print out the reminders; only the ones who are ready for the challenge. But I can nearly guarantee that if you don’t actually print out the reminders, this will have been a slightly interesting and thoroughly forgotten exercise in just moments. A lost opportunity.
Print it now!

Download your sheet

 

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