Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Jott converts voicemail messages into text messages or email. You call a single number from your mobile phone and through voice recognition software you choose someone from your contacts and speak your message out loud. Jott then converts your message and sends it. You can also Jott appointments that will post to your Google Calendar.
Grand Central provides you a phone number where you can point all other phone numbers you have to the Grand Central number. The benefit is you can have just one phone number to give out to people versus providing your work, home and mobile numbers. How it works is once you have set up your account and someone calls your Grand Central number, all of your other phones will ring simultaneously. That way you can be reached regardless of where you are. Once you answer you will be provided the option to screen the call, send it to voicemail or take it live. If someone leaves you a voicemail you will be notified via email that you have a message waiting for you.
Google Mobile has several features of interest. The two I am using are Maps and Sync. Google Maps is just like their online version. Google Sync enables my BlackBerry phone to synchronize with my Google Calendar.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Anytime someone attends a conference they are bound to hear a message or concept being delivered by a speaker they have not listened to before. Although the message or concept is likely not a new one (compliments your company's vision or core values), this will typically motivate them and provide that surge of excitement that was seemingly missing.
Evaluate your network of contacts and focus on people who share a similar business outlook or that are in the same industry as you are. You can also find someone in a completely different industry that has a similar philosophy on customer service, account management, etc... If you don't have anyone in your network its time to start making new contacts. For example, if your company and team place a high value on customer service then make a list of the 10 best places you have received customer service. Include retail, restaurants, salons, personal trainers - anywhere you feel the service is excellent. Next, call and request a manager or senior staff member from one of these organizations visit your next team meeting and talk about their business and their perspective on customer care. If there is a specific area that you want highlighted, or draw a parallel to, let the presenter know ahead of time so they can incorporate it into their message. I have successfully done this when I brought in authors, insurance representatives, personal shoppers and restaurant managers to name a few.
It may not hit your team right away that the message they just heard from an "Outside Expert" is the same thing you have been telling them all along - but does that really matter? The goal is to get everyone motivated and excited again.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
2) When you are prospecting or networking and you encounter someone who could provide value to one of your customers, introduce them. Ideally the introduction you are making provides a potentially new customer for your client. Be careful you are not introducing a competitor to your service or product.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
As I was writing my last blog about increasing sales revenue, I thought about how important it is to maintain a healthy relationship with your existing customers. Again, existing customers are the lifeblood of your company's revenue. I know from personal experience as well as from reading various business books that the costs of a new account are significantly higher than the costs associated with fostering an existing account. This reinforces the importance of nurturing your existing accounts and doing everything possible to preserve them.
Think of the value from:
1) Being able to reference a healthy account when you are prospecting.
2) Knowing you have a steady flow of business.
3) Having an exclusive relationship and the credibility it provides you.
4) Receiving word of mouth referrals and public relations.
As a good friend once put it to me, the value of a customer is paramount.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
1) Increase the price of your products or services to your existing customer base
2) Introduce new services or products to your existing customer base
3) Develop new buying relationships within your existing customer base
4) Increase your customer base by adding new customers
In my experience the first three listed above are easier and quicker to achieve versus building new business. I believe there is a correlation between working within your existing customer base and the adage, 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Another tip is to pad your meetings. Unfortunately when you are in management you do not call the shots and are subject to meetings that run over their scheduled time because upper management has the same problem. Pad extra time to your meetings so if they run over you do not throw your entire day off. If you find you are done on time this is some extra time for you to catch up on email, voicemail or start on projects early. Another reason to pad is you cannot control everyone else’s time. Adding 15 extra minutes to scheduled meetings gives you some cushion if someone else is late. If you pad you will be able to start your next meeting on time and not be late. This can help maintain a professional appearance to prospects, potential employees and co-workers.
There are many tips that can help with managing your time. The above tips I believe are the most important in a management position and can make an immediate impact in your daily routine. You need to control your availability and schedule activities that you are responsible for. You need to carry this over to meetings with your employees so you send the message that you value their time as well as your own. I.e. schedule reviews and team meetings – don’t do them on the fly.
My last word of advice on this topic: If you are saying to yourself, "I have tried this and it does not work" or "my job is different and I don’t have time to be in the office", then you probably did not stick to it long enough or you did not customize it until it fit your needs. One common negative reaction to installing this into your work routine is your employees will not embrace it with open arms. Your employees are used to your current behavior and change disrupts their workday if they don’t see value in it. Take 20 minutes and have a team meeting explaining what you are going to do and how it will benefit your employees and yourself.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
There is more than one sales methodology out there and it is likely the attributes that appear to overlap from one person's method to another are those attributes that lead to success. In my experience the following seven steps have lead me to succeed.
1) Valid Business Reason (VBR) - Why should a prospect meet with me? I need to have a valid business reason when I speak to my target live or when leaving a voicemail.
2) Discover - The goal during my initial meeting is to create a profile that discovers what challenge the prospect currently has or what opportunities are coming down the pipeline next quarter.
3) Prospect Solution - What does the ideal solution look like from the prospect's perspective? Learning this will help me identify my prospects expectations.
4) Confirm - Reiterate back to the prospect what my understanding of the challenge or opportunity is and what their solution consists of.
5) Your Solution - My goal is to always share my solution after learning what the prospects solution is. This gives me the chance to emphasize the fit of my solution with my prospects vision. *If there is not a strong match for my company's solution with the prospects challenge, then I would inform my prospect that my solution is not a match for them and suggest they consider another company.
6) Advancement - The advancement should be detailed and include specific steps for implementing a process that unites my solution with my prospects solution. Obtaining as much detail regarding all the people associated with the process and their roles will help ensure thorough communication.
7) Execute - I stay involved in the process of delivering the solution and push to meet all the milestones on time. I also communicate frequently with the prospect and my internal team.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
1. Communication - the ability to develop relationships and earn the trust of your customer.
2. Passion - if the customer or prospect does not believe you stand behind your product or service, they will not buy from you.
3. Competitive - a natural drive to succeed along with the desire to out perform other companies contending for your customers' or prospects' business.
4. Organized - being responsive to customers and prospects within their schedule.
5. Team Player - complete execution of the solution involves multiple people and they must all be willing to work together.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
On a related note, I recommend asking your employees what kind of recognition they prefer - public or private. Taking a moment to recognize someone’s efforts during a team meeting can be the best reward for those that seek public recognition. In the same vein, sending an email that praises the employee to your boss and copying the employee can make someone’s day. For the team member who likes to stay under the radar, a hand written note or card acknowledging a job well done can be the best reward.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
If everyone agrees upon a process focusing on consistency with both co-workers and clients, we can build stronger relationships and ensure all points of contact are handled in the same manner. A major step toward improving communication is defining clear expectations to follow. These expectations include the following:
1) Calling versus emailing
2) Responding to voicemail
3) Sending email
4) Replying to email
5) Deciding who to carbon copy (Cc)
7) Committing to help each other
1) Calling versus emailing - Call first if the nature of the message is urgent, time sensitive, proprietary, personal, confidential or complex. Always call the office number first then the cell phone if available. Do not leave a voicemail answering this type of inquiry. Instead, always leave a voicemail on both lines requesting a call back.
2) Responding to voicemail - Respond to voicemail on the same day it was left unless your message indicates you are unavailable due to meetings or out of the office. If you can not fulfill the request being made of you due to other priorities, reply and indicate you will need more time to get back to them. Always follow up voicemail with an email.
3) Sending email - Make sure you check your spelling and take time to review your email before sending it. Be clear and to the point in your email. If you are asking a question be as specific as possible. You do not have control over who your initial email can be forwarded to and you do not want you or your company to appear unprofessional.
4) Replying to email - Do not reply with multiple paragraphs. As a general rule, if it takes more than 5 minutes to type you should pick up the phone and have a conversation. Do not engage in an argument via email. This has likely happened to all of us but, the professional and more effective path to take is to have a conversation in person or to pick up the phone and call. If the nature of the email is transactional (i.e. How much vacation time do I have?, What holidays are we closed? or Can you forward me a copy of the sales report?) then a brief reply with an answer to the question is appropriate. Reply to transactional emails the same day you receive them. If the nature of the email is more involved than a transactional request, reply the same day with a full response answering any questions or requesting more time. If you need more time be courteous and commit to a full response within a specified time frame.
5) Deciding who to carbon copy (Cc) - Generally you should copy anyone involved with the content of the email. If the nature of the email is confidential or sensitive you may exclude some people but I recommend you call or have a conversation in person and avoid this type of email. If you are replying back and forth on an email string only Cc someone that should have been on the original email, is joining the topic, or can contribute to a resolution. If you Cc someone several replies into a string, call the new person to explain the history of the topic.
6) Escalating - Ideally you should discuss the topic of escalation with your team or manager and come to an agreement on how to handle matters internally that could become a conflict. If a process does not exist then your first course of action regarding conflict is to try to resolve it on your own by meeting with the person or people you are having a challenge with. If you can not resolve the conflict, then share the challenge and your efforts with your manager. From that point leave it in your manager's hands and take no further action unless asked to. Be sure to ask your manger to explain what you can expect to be done and what time frame he or she will take action.
7) Committing to help each other - The goal is to get along, have fun and be a productive team. If the overall spirit of your team supports this, then agreeing to help each other by following these expectations consistently can only help strengthen communication.
Friday, March 02, 2007
The goal of an interview is to determine if a candidate is qualified for an open position or future position in your company.
When interviewing candidates, you are expected to represent your company with a positive image and leave the candidate with a good impression. During an interview, you should always treat the candidate with respect even if you determine early in the interviewing process that you will not hire them. Remember, by-products of a good interview are:
Networking Opportunities – you may run into the candidate down the road during your career.
Brand Extension – each person you have the chance to tell your company’s story to may become an advocate.
Business Lead Generation – you may receive a lead to a new prospect through a candidate.
Referrals of other Candidates – the candidate may know someone qualified for another opening in the company.
Advertising – positive word of mouth about your company is invaluable.
The five key aspects of the interview process:
1. Predetermining the necessary candidate qualifications.
2. Making sure each interviewer involved in the interviewing process uses a standard list of questions.
3. Structuring your questions to uncover the necessary information.
4. Conducting a post mortem to compare notes.
5. Identifying the candidate as a “Yes”, “No” or “Maybe”.
All “Yes” candidates should have 3 reference checks completed immediately.
All “No” candidates should have specific reasons listed why they are not qualified.
All “Maybe” candidates should have a specific area that “needs more probing” identified to make a final decision. Follow up interviews should focus on the area of concern.
Behavioral-based interviewing is an effective questioning method. The candidate’s answers to these types of inquiries will reveal specific information about an area you are screening for. For example, if you want to determine if the candidate has the ability to “hold their ground” or “push back” on people that do not accept their ideas, an appropriate question would be; “…tell me about a situation you have been in where your idea was rejected by a peer or your boss”.
Technical questions are important for positions such as software developers or software testers. The types of technical questions should be specific to the candidate’s duties if hired. Or, depending on the experience level you need, technical questions can help separate academic experience from professional experience. Ideally, ask technical questions in person and not over the phone or through email. This is to eliminate the possibility of the candidate using the internet or one of their colleagues as a resource.
Use a brain teaser to help reveal how a person thinks. If problem solving is one of the aspects you are searching for, then brain teasers can be of great value. Ultimately, you want a problem solver but a close second is perseverance or resistance to giving up. Here is an example of a brain teaser: You have nine balls weighing the same, except one, which is slightly heavier. All nine balls look identical so you can not tell them apart by touch or sight. You have a balance scale that allows you to put as many balls on each side as possible. What is the minimum number of times you can weigh the balls to determine the heaviest ball?
Research projects are an effective means of evaluating communication skills, specifically writing skills. They key is to choose a topic of research to provide insight into what the candidate’s understanding is of your business.
Friday, February 16, 2007
The following are five key principles on how to earn respect from your team:
1. Respect from the Beginning
Your team members have accepted the responsibilities of their job when they decided to join your team. Part of your responsibility is to respect them for that decision. Start the relationship with this in mind.
2. Tell the Truth
Mark Twain says it best, “Always tell the truth; then you don't have to remember anything”. I have seen the C.Y.A. approach adopted in lieu of telling the truth but it does not foster respect. To me telling the truth is actually C.Y.A. In management the truth can be difficult. However, telling the truth will earn you respect and it will put you in a position of trust. Telling the truth does not mean you share everything you know about any topic asked of you. When you are not sure if certain information is appropriate to share with someone, state either that you can not discuss it or that you do not have enough information about it. Telling the truth will rarely come back to haunt you. Being yourself and sharing your honest opinions tactfully is what successful management is made of. The only situations I have seen telling the truth come back to haunt me is if my opinion was prematurely given. Then if circumstances change and my opinion becomes controversial, I may be in a tough spot. Here is where experience lends its hand – if the jury is still out, refrain from putting yourself in this position by deferring to comment until you have more facts.
3. Act like You’ve Been there Before
In stressful times people want their manager to be in control and get them through the storm. You may be asked to handle something you don’t have a clue about or have never dealt with before. Don’t convey to your team that this situation is brand new to you and you’re not sure what to do. Rather, listen to the request/situation and let your team know you will handle it. If you need to, consult with a colleague, co-worker or your manager. This doesn’t need to be done in front of your team. Maintaining a positive outlook and an image of confidence during stressful times is valuable beyond words. Once you have your decision, go back to the team and calmly explain what the next step/s will be.
4. Let Me Get Back to You
Let me get back to you is a simple concept that can make your job easier as well as make you look stronger in your role. As a manager you do not need to know all the answers to every question that you are asked. It is not reasonable for an effective manager to be able to respond with the best answer anytime they are asked a question, especially as their scope of responsibility increases. "Let me get back to you" is beneficial because you look as though you want to consider all your choices when you do not actually know the answer. This creates some time to research your options, find the best answer or ask an other's opinion. When you share your final decision you will look as though you are in control versus making a quick judgment.
5. Show Me Don’t Tell Me
One of the best ways to earn respect is through leading by example. This will demonstrate first hand that you are capable of providing the same service/function as your team. This, too, will lend to your credibility when you are “speaking their language” regarding improvements, changes, etc… People naturally relate to similar people. If you can demonstrate you are capable of doing what they do, they will mentally bridge some of the gap between management and team member. An added benefit to this concept is less chance of error – seeing is clearer than telling.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Here is how the equation breaks down: 30% of the people in your company are truly committed to their jobs and will always go the extra mile. These people have positive attitudes, rarely complain and typically advance the quickest and farthest in their careers. These are your "go to" people. 20% of the people in your company are the exact opposite. They are negative. Nothing is ever good enough for them and the company doesn't do enough for them. They are always complaining and usually the first to leave at the end of the day. 50% of the people in your company sit right in the middle. This group really just wants to get their job done and do what is expected of them.
The challenge for management is to stay focused on the 30% and not fall into the trap of trying to change the 20%. The danger is spending too much time with this group. Ultimately what happens is the 50% group begins to pay close attention to management's focus on the 20% and starts to think the 20% group must have some merit to their position. The 50% group now begins to behave in the same manner. This can lead to a net atmosphere of 80% of your workforce in the realm of negativity and your business is at risk. If this atmosphere is prolonged, you not only continue to put your business at risk but your top performers (30%) view their efforts as being taken for granted and may begin looking for a new company to work for.
The flip side to this is if you stay focused on your star performers, the 50% group will recognize management spending their time with the 30% and behave in a similar manner.
At this point you may be thinking to yourself the same thing I thought when I first heard this theory. That is, why not just get rid of the 20% and have the perfect team? Although there are exceptions to everything and this is possible, the theory holds that this equation always balances out. If you remove the 20% it is likely someone from the 50% may disagree with your decision. This may be the beginning of that person harboring their negative outlook on management's decision and over time they themselves move from the 50% group into the 20% group. Once this happens, they begin to recruit people to their side.
In closing I want to make sure I have not implied you should ignore the 20% group of your workforce. You should be fair and give their concerns consideration and make changes if they are warranted. The overall message here is to focus on what is working (and the people making it work for you) and not get caught up in others negativity.
Monday, February 05, 2007
On the other hand always share any positives you observe or learn about with the people you lead. This includes any comments or recognition from senior management outside of your department. In essence you want to keep the moral high and positive among your team. If you consistently share positives with your team they will feed off of it and focus on trying to reproduce similar results.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Negotiating is primarily done with the candidates we work with. The goal in this role play is to see how the interviewee positions our company, the opportunity and any intangible benefits to prospective candidates.
Handling Objections is a daily occurrence in our industry. Typically we create a scenario where it is not possible for the interviewee to attain the objective/s given to the them. This no win situation reveals if the interviewee is innovative and has the ability to satisfy candidates or clients.
Prioritizing is an ongoing aspect of our business. The goal in this exercise is to find out if the interviewee has an understanding of our business and how new orders and/or requirement changes can impact daily efforts.
Hunting is not only finding candidates but finding the best in the market. During this exercise we put a scenario on the white board and observe the interviewee's ability to identify creative options to find talent.
Problem Solving is arguably the most important component of a successful recruiter. The goal in this role play is to observe the interviewee to see if they will work at the challenge until it is solved or simply give up.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
I give a homework assignment to the candidates I want to interview a second time. The assignment is to research the recruiting industry as a whole and then show me where my company fits into the market based on our competition. I also request that they contact a recruiter directly that they know, or cold call one, to learn first hand what a typical day looks like. This assignment forces people to learn what will be expected of them if hired. It actually weeds out some candidates and better prepares those that want to move forward.
Monday, January 15, 2007
My approach to prepping for first round interviews is to initially reply to all the applicants via email as quickly as possible. The applicant's follow up to my response is of interest to me. 1) If someone is spamming online postings for multiple jobs you will get a reply that is similar to an auto response which tells me the applicant is likely window shopping. 2) If the applicant does not follow the directions I requested in my response that tells me they are not taking their time reading my reply and overlook details. 3) If the applicant takes the initiative to contact me directly from the information in my email signature (especially if they call my mobile phone) that tells me they are either truly interested in my position or they know how to track someone down which is critical in the recruitment business.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Monday, January 01, 2007
On October 13, 1998 I attended a full day seminar called "What Matters Most" from Franklin Covey. This seminar changed my life and was the catalyst to developing a personal mission statement for myself. My personal mission statement is "Help those around me reach their fullest potential and thank those who help me along the way". I have tried to follow this in my personal life and my professional career. The reason I created this blog is to share with others what I have learned from my mentors and through my personal experiences.