Tag Archives: employee engagement

Which Half of Your Sales Management Effort is Working?

John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half!”

This is, of course, the reason frequency is such an important element of marketing.

It is also an important element of selling and of sales management. We must be diligent in our efforts to maintain a proactive and persistent posture when selling, and we must do the same when engaged in sales management; which many believe is simply a “higher level of selling.”

The key reason for this fact is that we can never be sure about which component of our effort is going to be effective at any specific time.

In other words, time spent coaching a Rep today may, in fact, pay off immediately or it may not pay off for a month or two; time spent presenting good reasons for a policy or procedure may not truly result in team buy-in on the spot, but might do so over time. Just like John Wanamaker, we just can’t be sure.

If we fail to interact with our customers, prospects or sales people with sufficient frequency, and if we fail to reaffirm the value associated with our products, services and our organizations, as well as our personal value, then we will most likely fail as sales people and sales managers.

This requires consistent, straightforward and strategic communication. Not only must we possess strong communication skills, but we must also (as the term implies) plan our approach. While many tend to think about communication in terms of “speaking,” the truly critical skills are:

  • Planning
  • Probing
  • Listening
  • Proactive style

As prudent sales managers, we must be aware of the critical role our communication plays in the day-to-day execution of our jobs, and the significant impact it has on the people we lead… how it can help us engage the team!

Thus the importance of the above-listed critical skills.

We should also be ever-aware of the importance of establishing and reaffirming our personal value — the value we provide to our sales team each and every day; the value we provide by helping them achieve success; the value we provide by helping them maintain focus on the right things; the value we provide by helping the close business; and the value we provide by continually reminding them that the job can be done and they can do it.

Sales Leaders – Do You Qualify?

Just as qualifying customers and prospects is a critical step in the selling process, it is also a necessary component of prudent sales management.

Many believe sales management consists of leadership, management and a higher level of selling — that is, sales managers must often sell to the sales force.

And in so doing, so too must they continually qualify and assess members of the sales force, who, in these instances, take on the role of “internal” customers.

To point out a few parallels, consider that successful sales people qualify and assess their customers and prospects during the early stages of the selling process. While the qualification can cover a wide range of issues, key areas involve:

  • Confirming interest, motivation and urgency levels, and that the overall needs are real; this step might also involve determining if the buyer is giving us serious consideration
  • Identifying priorities or special needs, such as quick delivery or modified payment terms, that can often make or break the sale
  • Confirming that each customer or prospect has the budget and wherewithal to acquire the products or services
  • Confirming the basis on which decisions will be made and how the evaluation process will work. This includes identifying decision makers as well as other stakeholders who might influence the process.
  • Assessing each buyer’s knowledge level with respect to product and service offerings and his or her ability to properly evaluate proposed solutions

Now let’s look at the similarities that exist in a sales management scenario.

Prior to setting sales strategies or assessing a sales person’s portfolio of pending business, a sales manager must qualify the overall situation.

The first step will involve a discussion on how thoroughly the sales person has qualified his or her customers / prospects.

Next, regardless of a sales person’s tenure, he or she must be motivated; and self-motivation can only go so far. The prudent sales manager always checks motivation levels, and is ready to provide the necessary incentive, guidance, or inspiration.

Of course people’s attitudes and motivational needs fluctuate on a regular basis; so as part of the ongoing qualification process, sales managers must also determine the best motivational strategy for each situation.

And speaking of attitude, does the sales person have confidence in our solution? Does he or she have the proper sense of urgency? Do we have their buy-in on company policies and procedures? The company mission?

It’s also important for sales managers to confirm the actual steps that have been taken to facilitate the sales process. Have our strategies been properly implemented? Similarly, sales managers must continually assess the team’s knowledge level. Do we have the skills to carry out sales plans? Are selling skills consistently applied?

Do we need additional product or systems training? Are we focused on benefits and solutions or do our presentations simply tout features?

Do we know how to qualify and assess our customers and prospects? How about qualifying and assessing our sales people on an ongoing basis too?

The Cost of Disengagement?

Employee engagement has been the topic of several posts, including our previous one; and according to recent data, is on the priority list for most organizational leaders.

But it is less common to hear people speak in specific terms about the real, often hidden, costs associated with disengagement.

In a recent blog post, Conway Management Company shared data indicating that “disengaged employees create a negative and expensive ripple effect throughout an organization, and drive-up costs in five specific ways.”

  1. Higher turnover
  2. Lower productivity and profitability
  3. Little or no process improvement
  4. Higher pay
  5. Lost opportunities

Read the full article…

10 Things Engaged Workers Tend to Say

Data presented by Gallup during a recent event was very compelling, and might well give organizational leadership some clear targets for better-engaging their workforce.

Based on the research shared, here are ten things that engaged workers tend to say:

  1. I’ve been recognized for my work in the past 7 days
  2. My supervisor seems to care about me
  3. Someone at work encourages my development
  4. My opinions seem to count at work
  5. In the past 6 months someone has talked about my development
  6. I know what’s expected of me at work
  7. I have the opportunity to learn at work
  8. I have the opportunity to use my strengths at work
  9. The company’s mission, values and goals make me feel that my work is important
  10. I have a best friend at work

Based on this list, a few questions we might ask ourselves include… How many of our team members might say some or all of these things?

Might there be a plan for promoting such thoughts or feelings?

Can specific activities on the part of our leaders at all levels be targeted to implement such a plan?

The opportunities for improvement are significant!

The Engagement Surprise Continues for Many…!

In one of last year’s posts we discussed the “engagement surprise,” which was identified as the measurable return-on-investment (R.O.I.) that many organizations were recognizing from their engagement efforts.

In other words, engagement can be a profit center rather than a cost center.

However, as presented in a recent Engagement Strategies Media article, the approach must be “intentional.”

Not only must leaders be strategic in their approach to engagement, but they must also stay-the-course with the intention of building a culture of engagement within their organizations — a culture in which people are engaged, highly-motivated, and highly-productive.

This is no small feat… but the data is clear, the R.O.I. can be significant. Typical objectives associated with this formalized approach to engagement include:

  • Increasing sales or revenue.
  • Increasing customer engagement and referrals.
  • Engaging channel partners to provide more commitment to products and services.
  • Improved recruiting and hiring.
  • Engaging volunteers for not-for-profits.
  • Engaging employees to achieve organizational goals, more consistently support the brand, work more productively, and exhibit greater loyalty.
  • Engaging employees to place added focus on quality, safety, and wellness.

These results and many more have been documented time-and-time again by the Enterprise Engagement Alliancewhich was founded in 2008. They provide members and other interested parties with a wide-range of resources and data, much of which is available at no cost.

 

 

Engaging Your Sales Team?

engagementroiSpring-boarding off of last week’s post from “Engagement World,” we might ask ourselves how (or if) we are engaging our sales team.

Regrettably, the data shows that only 25% of the workforce trusts organizational leadership!  Fortunately the trust level in direct supervisors is higher.

This is critically-important for sales leaders or small business owners because buying decisions are significantly impacted by the engagement level and attitude exemplified by the sales team. In fact, the data shows that well over half of all buying decisions are driven by the emotional part of the brain!

Based on findings shared by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and the Enterprise Engagement Alliance (EEA), three best practices for engaging your team are:

  1. Invest your time in one-on-one sessions with each sales team member – preferably done on a weekly basis at a consistently-scheduled time (i.e, “same time each week). The agenda for these one-on-one sessions should include an activity review, opportunity or pipeline discussion, strategy and planning session. The tone should be supportive.
  2. Collaboration – invest your time by making joint sales calls, both in the field and via conference calls. By “working deals” with the sales team you will not only show support, but you will also learn about marketplace preferences while adding an important layer to customer and prospect relationships
  3. Provide the team with professional development opportunities. Training and development are inextricably tied to engagement, and higher engagement levels are inextricably tied to attitude and discretionary effort.

Author Timothy R. Clark summed-it-up nicely when he said, “Highly engaged employees MAKE the customer experience. Disengaged employees BREAK it.”

A Glimpse of Data from Orlando Engagement World Conference

EngagementWorldAs you may know,  Engagement World is a conference and expo taking place this week in Orlando, Florida.

The event is “dedicated to highlighting the world of Enterprise Engagement in business and its many strategies and tactics.”

During a few of today’s presentations some simple yet important messages were shared and reinforced:

  • More of the nation’s top organizations are documenting increases in financial performance as a result of increasing employee, partner and customer engagement.
  • Employee engagement begins at the recruiting step – a great case study was presented by Northwell Health (61,000 employees) outlining how they revamped their recruiting and on-boarding practices. To truly engage customers the workforce must be engaged first.
  • Among the key drivers of employee engagement:
    1. Clarity in roles and regular feedback
    2. Two-way communication with leadership
    3. Ability to impact the work environment
    4. Ongoing professional development and training
    5. Sense of connection with the organization’s culture and values

Is the Customer Always Right?

highroadThe phrase “The customer is always right” was originally coined in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of London’s Selfridge’s department store.

It is frequently used by businesses to define or clarify their approach to customer service, hoping, at varying times, to convince both consumers and employees of the high levels of service and satisfaction their customers experience.

But of course, no one is “always” right, and much has been written about why the perspective that “the customer is always right” is, in fact, “wrong.” In fact, a 2014 Huffington Post article lists what author Alexander Kjerulf considers the top five reasons that customers are not always right.

Similarly, Hal Rosenbluth, founder of Rosenbluth International, a corporate travel agency, wrote a book about their approach called “Put The Customer Second – Put your people first and watch’em kick butt.”

Rosenbluth argues that when you put the employees first, they put the customers first; that when you put employees first they will be happy at work, and employees who are happy at work give better customer service.

Regardless of your position on the matter, you might consider that the key words in the well-known phrase may not actually be the words “always right.”

Instead, the key word is “customer,” because when a customer is, in fact, wrong, they will most likely stop being a customer if they are proved to be wrong in a manner that they find offensive — in a manner that brings about loss of dignity or respect.

So maybe the better questions is, what does it mean to “take the high road” when interacting with customers or, to Mr. Rosenbluth’s point, colleagues?

As speaker David Brock once said, “Being right doesn’t mean you win!”

Team & Customer Engagement: The ROI?

engagementroiWould you like to increase sales revenue, customer loyalty, and referrals?

How about motivating your channel partners so that they place added focus on your organization?

Would you like to implement and sustain a culture of continuous improvement? Or possibly increase the team’s focus on quality or safety, enhance overall wellness, or help them to work more productively?

All of the above-listed objectives are among the reasons organizations have chosen to proactively focus on engaging people; and all of the above-listed objectives can generate a measureable return on investment!

In fact, research from the Enterprise Engagement Alliance indicates that organizations will get the best results when they systematically:

  •  Develop realistic, achievable, and measurable goals and objectives
  • Create a formal Engagement business plan outlining the desired outcomes, behaviors that lead to outcomes, key program components, roles and responsibilities, timeline, and return on investment.
  • Effectively assess the people and the playing field to identify opportunities and obstacles to success
  • Make sure people have the knowledge or skills needed to succeed
  • Implement an integrated communication plan
  • Foster an atmosphere of collaboration, innovation, and fun
  • Reward and recognize so that people feel supported in their efforts
  • Measure return on investment

Read more… | Comment…

The ROI of Engaging Employees?

engagement1It can be difficult to know the value of engaging employees as well as the impact higher-levels of workforce engagement has on customer relationships.

As a first step, you might find research from Aon Hewitt of interest, which indicates teams that had high levels of engagement had a 37% net promoter score (NPS) versus 10% NPS for teams with lower engagement.

In addition, Avatar Solutions’ recent research reaffirmed that engaged employees tend to enrich their organizations, have fewer absences, be more innovative and confident in expressing new ideas, and have higher levels of productivity.

We are attending an Enterprise Engagement conference in Denver this week and in upcoming posts we will be sharing additional data on the ROI of engaging colleagues and customers, as well as insights on how to do so!