New Team Member / Employee Onboarding Checklist

New Team Member / Employee Onboarding Checklist

An effective new team member onboarding process is a key to success for your organization’s new hires. Why should you care? Individual team member success is largely a result of their engagement and satisfaction. Engagement and satisfaction lead to increased team retention. Team retention saves your organization time and money in both the short- and long-term. Use this checklist to help you…

Is “Emotional Marketing” the Best Way to Connect with Customers?

Is “Emotional Marketing” the Best Way to Connect with Customers?

According to the Small Business Association, “All humans feel four basic emotions: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted.” Of course, no business wants to spur feelings of disgust or anger with their customers, but as the SBA adds, “creating strong emotions—either positive or negative—can help build a bond between your customers and your business,” which is definitely a goal all businesses share.

If you’re looking for a stronger connection with your target audience, here are tips on emotional marketing that might resonate with your target audience…

7 Tips for Managing Your Millennial Sales Team

7 Tips for Managing Your Millennial Sales Team

We often hear that millennial employees are a breed apart and require a shift in management style and perspective. The same can be said about a millennial sales team and what’s needed to effectively manage and leverage their particular outlook and talents. Generally speaking, think of these younger salespeople as self-confident, positive thinkers who are thoroughly comfortable with digital technologies in all forms, and ready to take on sales challenges unique to your company and industry...

Use Technology to Enhance Your Employee Communications Efforts

Use Technology to Enhance Your Employee Communications Efforts

If improving communications with your employees was on your 2018 list of resolutions, there are many ways to leverage digital technology to achieve this goal. Businesses that still rely on a “suggestion box” in the break room or some similarly out-of-date mechanism should consider adopting current technology to make employees feel more involved and part of the team...

The CEO and Sales Leadership

The CEO and Sales Leadership

A CEO or business owner wears many hats, from “chief inspiration officer” to overseeing complex operations and development of new growth strategies. Not least among his or her primary responsibilities, however, is ensuring that the team responsible for selling the company’s products or services is motivated, efficient, productive and forward-thinking.

For most successful organizations, this means doing more than expecting a sales manager to “handle” sales and turning their own attention elsewhere.

Here are four ways to provide the kind of leadership that gets the best sales results...

How to Get Your Sales and Marketing Teams on the Same Page

How to Get Your Sales and Marketing Teams on the Same Page

Just how well do your sales and marketing teams interact? Can you point to tangible achievements as a result of close sales/marketing collaboration? Or is the situation more akin to military platoons advancing with little or no contact with one another?

In fact, many businesses are still chasing the elusive goal of optimum sales and marketing alignment. Even in an era of advanced marketing automation, “marketing technology and processes have yet to turn the sales and marketing boxing ring into a night of candlelit dinners,” observes B2B marketing expert Laura Ramos.

Here are tips on getting sales and marketing on the same page, thus benefiting both your business and your customers:

6 Business-Damaging Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

6 Business-Damaging Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

As a business owner, you know that social media offers an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to engage with their current customer base, connect with potential new customers and greatly enhance brand awareness. Whether you’re looking for more business or to expand your team, you need to engage. At the same time, those without much experience in social media may encounter a landscape crowded with potential minefields that can—if you’re not careful—inflict significant damage on your brand.

Here are six social media mistakes your business should avoid:

LinkedIn – for highly intelligent business owners, who are just getting starting on Social Media

LinkedIn – for highly intelligent business owners, who are just getting starting on Social Media

Maybe you have a wealth of experience and one (or multiple) businesses, but you just haven’t used LinkedIn before. It happens. Then 2018 rolled around, and you took the bold decision, that if you’re doing any B2B marketing or networking, you need to be on LinkedIn.  

Not many professionals say, “don’t see the need to waste time on LinkedIn.”  But I do know a number of business owners and CEOs that feel they missed the boat the first time around, and now don’t know if or how to start.

First off, there is no ‘if’. If you own a company, then whether you want sales or new recruits (and the correct answer is – yes, I need both) then you need to be on LinkedIn. So, here is what you need to know.

How to Better Negotiate with Vendors (and Save Money)

How to Better Negotiate with Vendors (and Save Money)

Some business owners are born negotiators. They know how to persuade, cajole, seduce and otherwise convince vendors to accept the deal they want.

But plenty of other CEOs and business leaders don’t have negotiating built into their DNA. The outcome of every negotiating session is a question mark, which adds an element of stress to an already difficult situation. What’s the best price I can hope to obtain for a supplier’s goods or services? If I need the vendor’s offering badly enough, am I always destined to pay through the nose?

Find out more and get your top ten tips for negotitaion...

What to Include in Your B2B Marketing Plan

Nowhere is the celebrated “buyer’s journey” more relevant than with B2B companies and their customers. With the vast array of digital resources at their command, these customers embark on the journey by conducting extensive research, comparing companies and exploring social media—sometimes well before they make direct contact with the business they’re most interested in.

As a result, B2B companies need to “up” their marketing game, in order to be ready when the buyer’s journey leads to them.

Here are tips for key elements and action steps for a marketing plan that keeps your business “top of mind” for current and prospective customers:

Focus on your core audience. Some businesses try—and generally, fail—to be all things to all customers. An effective marketing plan should focus on a clearly defined customer segment, so as to avoid diluting the appeal and effectiveness of a company’s key products or services.

Tailor content to meet that audience’s needs. The type of content you offer to customers (website, blog posts, articles, white papers, etc.) is a crucial element of any marketing plan. This, in turn, means thoroughly understanding what drives your customers—their needs, desires, pain points, etc.

“You need to know how your buyers like to buy and what they respond to,” notes Forbes contributor AJ Agrawal. “This will put you in the best possible position to sway them to making a purchase.”

Creating a comprehensive buyer’s persona to help with both marketing and sales leads is one highly effective way to ensure you’re hitting the right note in your content efforts.

Refresh the content and design of your website. Remember, the buyer’s journey almost always includes a visit to your B2B website. It’s in your company’s best interests to ensure that a consistent and appealing marketing message is built into virtually every page on that site. Don’t let old material or an unchanging homepage discourage potential interest.

As always, your site must also be user-friendly and informative (meaning, little or no fluff!), with a focus on how your products or services benefit the customer, as opposed to making your company look good.

Commit to a strong social media presence. Buyers will usually check out your company’s presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other industry-specific social networking sites. If you’re not already doing so, 2018 is the right time to commit to an in-depth social media marketing strategy. This can include:

  • Using social media to gather data on customer preferences
  • Becoming an industry thought leader through high-quality, customer-focused content
  • Engaging in two-way communications with customers and prospects
  • Monitoring online discussions of your industry

Your B2B marketing plan should specify the kinds of social media initiatives and activities planned for the new year and, ideally, assign this key responsibility to an individual or team with experience in this area.

Write a plan that’s clear and accessible throughout the company. While assembling the B2B marketing plan, keep in mind that shifting industry conditions may require a re-examination of basic ideas and strategies throughout the coming year. Consider assigning a knowledgeable team member with the responsibility to review the plan on a regular basis—identifying those elements and marketing goals that still make sense to pursue and refining other strategies that may have been rendered irrelevant by new market conditions.

The “marketing environment is always dynamic,” notes marketing technology expert Anita Brearton. “Create your strategy and plans in a way so you can adjust quickly to changing marketing conditions and customer requirements.”

Want to learn more about marketing and planning for your business? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

5 Crucial Things a Peer Advisory Board Can Do for Your Business

5 Crucial Things a Peer Advisory Board Can Do for Your Business

As a business owner, you wear multiple hats. Because no one is equally good at everything, some of your hats are a little too big or a little too small – but you wear them anyway. Only people who have run a business can possibly identify with the pressure to be a Jack of all trades in this way.

To the business owner, a peer advisory board is a room full of people who know what it is to wear the hats. They’re the people who know what it takes to steer a business toward success, because they’ve done it – or are in the process of doing it – themselves.

By taking advantage of group knowledge and experience, you’ll be able to...

How To Communicate With People Who Are Different Than You

DISC Communication Styles

People have unique ways to communicate with each other. When you understand people are uniquely different based on their communication styles then you can better relate to your customers, peers and in your personal relationships. The key is to understand yourself first.  We measure communication styles with the DISC assessment.

  • How we express our internal emotions through our external behavior
  • How we prefer to interact (temperament) with the environment and the people around us

DISC represents four different communication styles

D-Dominance - How we solve problems

I-Influence - How we relate to people

S-Steadiness - Our pace and energy level

C-Compliance - How we respond to rules and procedures

Once you understand yourself, you can use the following guide to help you communicate more effectively and efficiently with different people:

Communicating with the High D

  • Don’t ramble on or waste their time.
  • Stay on task.
  • Be clear, specific and to the point.
  • Don’t try to build personal relationships or chitchat.
  • Come prepared with all objectives and requirements in a well-organized manner.
  • Be prepared and organized.
  • Present the facts logically; plan your presentation efficiently.
  • Provide alternatives and choices so they can make their own decisions.
  • If you disagree, focus on the facts, not the High D’s personality.

Communicating with the High I

  • Talk and ask about their ideas and goals.
  • Plan interaction supporting their goals and ideas.
  • Allow time for relating and socializing.
  • Don’t drive to facts, figures and alternatives.
  • Help them get organized and put details in writing.
  • Don’t leave decisions in the air.
  • Provide ideas for implementing action.
  • Provide testimonials from people they see as important or prominent.
  • Offer incentives for their willingness to take risks.

Communicating with the High S

  • Don’t rush headlong into business or the agenda.
  • Show sincere interest in them as people.
  • Draw out their personal goals and objections.
  • Don’t force them to make a quick response.
  • Present your case logically, non-threateningly and in writing.
  • Break the ice with some personal comments.
  • Ask specific questions. (How?)
  • Don’t interrupt as they speak. Listen carefully.
  • Look for hurt feelings if the situation impacts them personally.

Communicating with the High C

  • Approach them in a straightforward, direct way.
  • Recognize they may be uncomfortable speaking too large groups.
  • Ask them if they see the issue the same way as you do.
  • Provide them with information and the time they need to make a decision.
  • Don’t be informal, casual, or personal.
  • Build credibility by looking at each side of the issue.
  • Don’t force a quick decision.
  • Be clear about expectations and deadlines.
  • If you disagree, prove it with data and facts or testimonials from reliable sources.

If you are interested in completing our DiSC assessment or running a company training session in this area, then give us a call or drop us an email.

3 Signs You’re the Worst Boss Ever (and What You Can Do to Fix It)

3 Signs You’re the Worst Boss Ever (and What You Can Do to Fix It)

Being a boss means you’re not going to be liked all of the time — that just comes with the territory. Eventually, you’re going to have to make a few decisions that not everyone is going to like to move your business forward. While it’s not easy to move forward with tough, potentially divisive decisions, committing to your vision in the face of adversity is a sign of excellent leadership.

How to Create a Success-Oriented Sales Culture

Success in sales remains an elusive goal for many companies, partly because the sales process can’t be configured or engineered in a way that guarantees closing a deal with every prospect. Too many variables are involved.

However, building a success-oriented sales culture within the organization can tilt the odds in your favor. The key is paying special attention to sales management in a way that’s positive, instills confidence and rewards sales activity, not just results.

Here are action steps you can take to boost the success rate of your sales team:

Honor the role of salesperson. If you come from a sales background, you know first-hand what a difficult job it can be. Failure and rejection come with the territory and it takes a strong individual to bounce back from these challenges and start fresh all over again.

For this reason, it’s good to “promote how honorable it is to be a sales rep for your company,” notes small business expert Megan Totka. “Put the importance of their position on a pedestal, and highlight how pivotal it is to the success of your business.

Automate repetitive tasks. Salespeople thrive on high energy and welcome the unpredictable nature of their jobs. That’s why they often find repetitive sales-related tasks so draining and demoralizing. It’s up to you to free them up to do what they do best—sales. Wherever possible, employ technology to handle routine customer relationship management tasks (such as sending customized messages to prospects), thus giving your team more latitude to focus on other key responsibilities. 

Enforce a consistent sales process. Yes, we all know about rock-star salespeople who “act on a gut feeling” or otherwise go it alone. That’s not the path to a success-oriented culture. Instead, every business should establish a consistent sales process, says sales expert Alana Nicol, with “specific steps that everyone takes so each person knows clearly what it takes to identify, qualify and close an opportunity.” 

Train for the results you want. Businesses do the best they can to hire talented salespeople who can get results out of the gate. But for the best results, sales training is the most effective strategy. Such training can emphasize a variety of techniques and attitudes, including how to:

  • Stop talking to the prospect and ask questions instead
  • Position yourself less as an expert and more as a problem-solver
  • Hone your company’s unique selling proposition
  • Focus on sales activity as much as on results

For sales veterans and rookies alike, it’s helpful for the manager and/or CEO to occasionally sit in on phone calls and/or face-to-face meetings with prospects, and offer constructive feedback afterward. Most salespeople welcome such feedback, as long it’s framed in a positive way.

Offer opportunities for learning. Training is one thing, continuous learning something else entirely. As part of honoring your sales team, give them every opportunity to participate in webinars, attend sales conferences and engage in other learning activities that help them hone their skills and network on behalf of the company. When they can collaborate and share new ideas, they’ll come away re-energized and excited about incorporating new strategies into the sales process. 

Avoid micromanagement. Perhaps the best way to instill self-confidence in your team is by not micromanaging them. Delegating responsibilities and leaving them alone to do their job is another way of saying you trust in their judgment and abilities, and that you expect them to give their very best with every prospect. Sometimes they’ll succeed and sometimes they’ll fail. It’s up to you to avoid casting blame, but emphasize instead the value of learning from experience and doing better the next time.

 

By honoring their efforts and giving them the tools and responsibility to succeed, you can build a culture of sales enthusiasm and energy unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Want to learn more about building a successful sales culture? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

Setting SMART Goals - a guide to team members

So, your boss has come to you (well, actually they sent an email), with this crazy idea that you need to set up Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and SMART goals. Is this a passing trend and do you need to act upon it? After a quick internet search, you get the general idea, but the thought of sitting down and writing these out seems a little bit like too much hassle.

Don’t worry, we’re here for you

1 – What’s the big idea.

Actually, it’s a good one.  Up until now, either your work has not been measured at all, it has been measured in a subjective manner or your measurement only comes in a negative way (i.e. you get reprimanded/complained-to if something is not done).

Good news, KPI’s are going to help. Oh, and in addition, do you ever get your boss coming to you and complaining in a subjective manner (it’s not what I had in mind… I ‘like’ it this way…) and does that conversation occasionally last a long time, when frankly you could be getting on with more work or doing something else far more productive (even if that involves Facebook)? Well KPIs help with this too.

So, KPI’s are a way of putting at a high level, what you think the top 4 or 5 achievements should be for yourself over the next (normally) quarter. By writing this out – each KPI as one sentence - you are indicating what is important, and your boss can then either agree or not, but once agreed to, both of you should be in agreement as to what is happening in the next quarter/time period.

2 – So, how do you work out what your KPIs should be?

These shouldn’t be plucked from thin air.  In fact, you probably have access to a number of documents that can help you.  See if you can get your hands on:

  • Your job description
  • The previous job reviews your boss has given you
  • Vision, objectives or goals of your company or department
  • Sales goals
  • Important emails that your boss sent out about strategy or big projects

A typical KPI could be along the lines of:

  • Delivering market-leading consulting services
  • Ensuring we have the best team in the industry
  • Addressing flaws in our delivery across North American operations
  • Making sure we send out invoices and collect payments in a timely manner                                     

3 – Now make them SMART

Next up we need to rationalize your KPIs. I am sure the KPI’s you came up with are awesome at the high level, but now we need to make these ‘real’. How are we going to measure success?

Each KPI needs one or a number of SMART goals.

What is a SMART goal?

SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based. It is true that not all are in universal agreement, but if the letters stand for something else, it is generally with the same definition.

SMART.png
  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Attainable/Assignable – is it really possible, and who’s doing this.
  • Relevant/Realistic – is it relevant for the business and what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-based – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Let’s take an example. From our KPI above, “Making sure we send out invoices and collect payments in a timely manner” we need to set at least two SMART goals – one for invoices and one for the collection of payments. Let’s take the first one – invoicing in a timely manner

  • Specific – Invoices
  • Measurable – send out within 24-hours of order being fulfilled, in 98% of the cases over an average week.
  • Attainable/Assignable – Brenda’s doing this, and as right now 70% of invoices are already sent out within 24-hours, so this does seem possible
  • Relevant/Realistic – this is relevant for the business, as debtors pay invoices quicker if they receive the invoice closer to the order fulfillment, so if we achieve this realistic goal, we are making a sizable difference to the business
  • Time-based – we’ll achieve this measurable goal by the end of this quarter

In summary, if your goal can be measured and you can define a timeline to hitting a desirable measure, then you’re getting the hang of this.

4 – Get them approved

Now you have SMART goals that represent your KPIs. You should show them to your manager, who needs to agree on them.  They will be looking for three things:

  • are the priorities of your job role addressed by the KPIs
  • are they meaningful to the organization (will you be making a difference)
  • are they SMART (now you’re an expert in this, it should be a breeze)

5 – Get on and do the work

Once you have agreed your KPIs and SMART goals with your manager, the easy stuff happens. You get on and do your job for the quarter.

You can expect that your manager (if they are any good) will be coming to you during the quarter to see how you’re doing. When they do, then reiterate your SMART goals, reaffirm if they are still achievable (according to the metrics and timeline), and if there is any doubt, speak to your manager about what they can do to help you hit the goal.

These can now be objective discussions. If you are halfway through the time period, and you are half way to your desired goal, then (all things being linear) you’re in a good place.

6 – What happens at the quarter end?

Firstly, you report back to your manager with the results for each SMART goal. If the goal was realistic, you are good at your job, and nothing unforeseen occurred, then the goal should be met and your manager should be very happy (as should you be).  If the goal was not met, then you can expect to discuss this to work out where improvements can be made.

At this time, you’ll be also submitting your next goals. Some may be repeated, and some may be new – that all depends on your job role and responsibilities.

That’s it.

What we love about KPI’s and SMART goals is that they are simple, they are relevant for all organizations, are applicable for all level of workers, and they really do work to keep team members happier.