C-Suite Network™

Growth Leadership Personal Development

The Problem with Hiring People Who Are Just Like You

Many company owners, managers, and executives make the mistake of hiring people who are just like they are, or putting together teams of similarly minded people. Software engineers tend to like to work with other software engineers, for example, and people who launched businesses by selling assertively tend to hire assertive sales professionals. As a result, their organizations fail to have the balance that they need for peak performance.

Instead, take a look at what’s happening within your organization. As you look at your team, do you see people who are doing only what they are required to do, rather than what they love to do and at which they excel? If that is the case, your company, as well as your team, could be better served if you recruited a mix of people who together provided all the skills necessary.

Imagine that your business is like a symphony orchestra. Now imagine your orchestra is made up only of musicians who can play strings and tympani. What kind of music will it make? Granted, it might sound okay, but it will not make beautiful music. A full symphony orchestra usually has a group of musicians who play more than 13 different instruments, not just one or two. And chances are that your organization needs people who can perform a dozen or more specific roles.

When considering your business teams, think of yourself as a conductor who, with the right mix of ingaged people and a beautiful score, can achieve brilliant success.

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Focus on What Matters Most

Whatever You Focus on Expands

Just as a photographer focuses on taking the shot of their subject, leaders need to focus on.  Seeing things as a photographer sometimes has its advantages to a leader. You need to look from every direction to see what’s working and what’s not. Solving problems, challenges, and difficulties allow you to visualize better for what you are looking for. Imagine what your sense of accomplishment will feel like when you are able to focus and get done what you need to complete. You can actually create habits to help you focus without distractions to get things done.

“Life is like a camera…focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from negatives, and if things don’t work out, take another shot.” – Unknown Author

Focus means paying attention. Essentially, if you want to develop focus, develop the skill of paying attention to a particular thought, task, or goal for a specified amount of time – without allowing distractions to break your concentration. Don’t expect it to take place overnight. Be patient and pay attention each time you are about to do and say things that pull you back to your old habits and patterns.

There are so many ways where your attention gets distracted. If you want to try this out, start working on something and your phone will ring, you want to look at your emails, and then again you have someone who wants your attention to ask you something or …You get the idea. So it is very easy to focus on something you don’t need to really focus in on. Your mind wonders and your attention drifts off somewhere else.

Is Your Leadership as Focused as You’ll like it to be? 

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” — Steve Jobs

Everyone has a different meaning for the word “Focus”. The word focus means the concentration of attention or energy on something. Focus means paying attention. So if you want to develop focus, develop the skill of paying attention to a particular thought, task, or goal for a specified amount of time – without allowing distractions to break your concentration. The more you focus your attention, the more you get accomplished.

It’s easy to focus when you have a clear goal. How do you maintain your focus when you don’t have a well-defined goal, or when your mind is confused with many thoughts? Choosing what matters is incredibly hard because no one can do it for you. Staying focused on the task, clarifying the goals, articulating the vision, and encouraging others to stay the course are characteristics of determined leaders.

Prioritizing tasks is the First Step toward Working Easier

“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” -Jack Dixon

The smallest things can make the biggest difference. Take a few minutes to think about how focused you are as a leader. No matter what you do your thoughts, ideas and opinions distract you from focusing on what you need to do is key to getting things done. How you manage to focus on what matters most needs you to constantly stop and re-focus to work on what’s in front of you. Focusing on where you’ve been slowing your progress.

Keeping the Focus on What Matters Most

“My key to dealing with stress is simple: just stay cool and stay focused.” -Ashton Eaton

Are your best efforts where you should place your focus? Often that focus isn’t the best direction for the company. How distracted do you get while working on a project or task? What do you do to get back on track?

“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.”

– Denis Waitley

Sometimes when you focus on negative situations they can paralyze you by making you stuck. Where You Look Is Where You Go. It is very easy to lose sight of what you need to do as so much information overload comes at you every second of every day. How you keep things straight and knowing what to focus on takes skills and training.

Where You Put Your Efforts

“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.” – John Carmack

Moving yourself or your organization forward requires you to focus on what you want to accomplish and where you want to go. If you continue the way you are going, most likely everything and anything will distract you. Phones rings, having to look at emails, having others asking you questions or just wanting to chat, and so on are just a few examples of distractions you need to close off.

“How can I focus on positive stuff when all I have in my life is negative stuff?” By making a choice to create a new habit and find something positive to focus on. Where you focus is your choice. What will you focus on today? When you focus on things do you notice the detail or are you oblivious to the specifics around you?

Shift Your Priorities

If you’re stuck in a rut you are unable to go anywhere. By shifting your priorities you get to think better in order to uncover valuable insights to help move you and your organization forward. You then can see other things that are more important to focus on. You are blinded by one thing that is not what matters most. The problem, challenge or difficulty may not go away, yet it does not need to be the centerpiece you focus on.

“The one thing you can always control is how you REACT to the uncontrollable.” -Dr. Alan Goldberg

Have you figured out what matters to you and your business?

In the end, Focus on What Matters Most for greater productivity and the results you work towards. You choose where to put your focus. Be aware of what you are doing to accomplish your goals.

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The Sales Initiative With the Highest ROI

There are so many initiatives to choose from in sales performance area — it can be hard to prioritize, but limiting discounting is a no-brainer.

Which one has the highest ROI?  For most businesses, the highest yield comes from building a systematic approach to pricing and discounting.

Here’s the math.  For the average company making 10% pretax profit:

  • One dollar in new sales yields 10 cents of profit.
  • One dollar in avoided discounting – on all the deals you’re already winning — increases your company’s profits by that entire dollar.

Certainly, every business has different issues and challenges, so exceptions exist.  However, controlling “discounting spend” carries a built-in 10:1 advantage in ROI. In all of my years of experience consulting sales organizations, and leading others, 10:1 boils down to “a worthwhile issue to explore” (being married to a Brit has developed my skill at understatement).

Your pricing and discount approval system might be invisibly killing your company.  If you are a CEO, CFO, CRO, CSO, in Sales Leadership, or Sales Enablement, you are probably suffering a profit leakage. Worse still, many companies aren’t even measuring or tracking the problem.

What’s Your Discount Spend Per Year?

At this past week’s Sales3.0 Conference, I conducted an unscientific “man in the lobby” poll on company processes around pricing and discounting. I had conversations around this question:

How many dollars in discounts did you give out last year? I don’t just mean discounts based upon invoice terms. Include any reduction in price below list, standard, or typical (for semi-custom and custom products).

Nobody I talked to could answer.  Think about that: a significant number of sales enablement and sales leaders I talked to didn’t even track discounts given.  Gut check time:  do you? Given the profit impact of discounting, this begs the question “why?”.

Pricing and discounting is my specialty, of course.  If you would like to address the issue, I’m happy to give you my best thinking about your situation.  Contact meIf you don’t have a crystal-clear analysis of your discount spend, call me anyway.  As you can see from my informal poll, you are in good company.

How Do You Distribute Discounts?

To make you feel even less alone, let me share a few more common situations. Many companies give discount dollars out reactively. Discounts often go disproportionately to:

  • The salesperson is best able to game the system, possibly the squeakiest wheel.
  • Reps reporting to the regional manager who used to be the salesperson above.
  • Whiniest customer.
  • Most politically connected channel partner.
  • ..I could go on.No need to, though, is there?

These schemes not only kill profits, but they also demoralize your salesforce.  Everyone in your whole company knows who gets the discounts.  If the distribution doesn’t make good sense, word gets around.  Especially if you are paying your salespeople on revenue instead of profit, you are steadily stirring a pot of resentment.  Some of your salespeople think that “favors” (a perversion that only sales-compensated teams believe in) are being doled out to select “golden children”.  This can have an effect on morale and retention, in addition to the direct “profit surrender” effect above.

When you discount vs. when you can build value

It’s no mystery that sellers combat discounting by building value in the customer’s mind. I don’t favor the term “selling value” because value is only in the customer’s mind, and “selling” sounds too much like “telling” to the untrained ear. Here’s the thing, though.  As the graph below shows, your ability to build value has pretty much faded by the time the customer wants to discuss price and discounts.

Ability to sell value vs discounting

Here’s the good news: Most sellers need only a few simple tweaks to their regular selling process and methodology, and coaching those tweaks is straightforward for sales leaders.  I don’t want to sugarcoat it, though:  these tweaks require coaching sellers through a behavior change.

Here’s the better news: when your sellers build value,  prospective customers have clearer expectations of their outcomes — financially and personally. Very often, they have a higher preference at a premium price.  It often happens that the premium price is more resistant to competitive price discounts than the lower price you might have agreed to without using good value discipline.

Who Can Build Value?

Here’s the best news of all: it all works even better when everyone who touches your customers is on board.  Your product can trigger value in many unexpected corners of a customer’s company, and the more of these you find, the more value there is to be built.

What does Great Look Like?

A robust, disciplined price exception system can work a lot of ways.  In fact, it may have the same process steps and participants you have now.  The process steps are less important than changing what gets discussed during those steps.

Price exception decisions need to use much more objective information than most do today.  When they do, they are harder to game, and can be deaf to whining.

Coaching salespeople to build value becomes part of the sales culture.  Luckily, this doesn’t have to complicate coaching.  When a seller can articulate value built, coaches know they’ve done a great job with the entire sales process and methodology. It’s only when sellers can’t articulate value that coaches need to diagnose problems with detailed methodology and skills coaching.

Finally, sales shouldn’t be the only department who cares about revenue instead of profit.  That value system keeps sales leaders from making the transition to general management.  It creates culture problems in organizations.  To that end, your compensation plan may need to change.  If your people aren’t paid on profits, they’ll settle for profitless revenue.  Even if you can’t measure profits precisely, pay them precisely based upon a consistent profit estimate

Pricing is Profit.

Every dollar of additional price on a won deal is a dollar of profit for your company. Discounting discipline is a great way to stop profits from leaving your firm.  An investment in shaping up your discounting discipline is one of the highest return on investment places you can apply your company’s scarce resources.  If you know how many dollars in discounts you gave out last year, what would happen if you could only prevent 10% of those lost profit dollars?  20%?  5%? Now compare that number to the cost of other sales performance initiatives you’ve implemented. Does this shape your upcoming priorities?

Contact me if you’d like to explore your situation together.  If you found this post valuable, please share with your networks, like, and/or comment below.

To your success!

Growth Management Personal Development

How to Set New Executives Up for Success

Are you doing everything you can to create a culture that sets new executives in your company up for success? Or, do you have a record of fast-tracking them for failure?

It’s an all-too-common scenario in companies across America. A company “rock star” gets promoted to a senior position, only to flounder in the new role. Or, someone who had an outstanding track record in another organization comes on board at a new company. Expectations are high and the future looks bright—and then that person fails to live up to expectations.

In fact, according to Ron Carucci, a recent guest on my Talking Business Now podcast, 50% of all new executives fail—and they fail fast, usually within 18 months.

Carucci, the managing partner of Navalent and the co-author of “Rising to Power: The Journey of Exceptional Executives” conducted a 10-year study on executive transition. His research not only discovered the rates at which new executives fail but also the reasons why they fail. One eye-opening insight is that 61% of those who failed said they weren’t prepared for the challenges, and 71% said their organization didn’t help them prepare.

The study also revealed the four characteristics of rising leaders who beat the odds and thrived. Tune into the podcast to find out those key determiners of success and how your company can build a culture that supports them.

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What is the Best Line to be In?

“There’s a thin line that separates the aspects of your life. To control those aspects, take note of when the line is fraying.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

Have you considered that you stand in many lines throughout your life? Some lines are long – some are short. But do you know what makes either the best line to be in – and why you should consider it? The answer is, lines lead to wherever you’re going in the next phase of your life. They also dictate how you feel as you enter that journey.

You’ll be boarding the plane shortly. The pathway to the entrance of the plane is separated by a thin hard-plastic strip. A sign on one side of the strip indicates that it’s for priority and first-class passengers. The other side says, economy. The boarding path is about 4-feet wide. That means the only thing that separates the boarding process between first-class and economy is that little hard-plastic strip. And it’s less than an eighth of an inch in width. Oh yeah, on the first-class boarding side, there’s a carpet with a sheen on it. Do you have a sense of priority about yourself, a sense that makes you feel first-class?

Change in Mindset:

Let’s change the scenario slightly. You’re still boarding through the first-class side. But you have 5 of your closest friends with you. Somehow, when you booked your flight, you were the only one that secured a first-class ticket. Thus, your friends are sitting in coach. How do you feel in comparison to them and how does that affect the relationships you have with your friends? Whatever it is, that line had an impact on it. It may be slight, but nevertheless, there was an impact.

In reality, the best lines you stand in throughout your life are the ones that protect your emotions while casting the status you wish to project. Those are the two factors that you can use to assess which is the best line to be in.

Here’s the point. Many times, I’m sure you obsess about being in a line that moves too slowly, or one that gives you a lower sense of status. But when all is said and done, the best line to be in is the one that makes you feel your best. And you’re the one that controls that feeling. So, if you know where you’re headed and you make the proper preparations to get there, the right line will avail itself to you. And even if it doesn’t do so at the time that you think is right, believe enough in yourself right then to know that the right moment will soon be right at hand … and everything will be right with the world.

What does this have to do with negotiations?

Depending on the strategy that you plan to implement during the negotiation, it may behoove you to be viewed as being aligned or misaligned with the other negotiator. That means, you must be aware of when and where you draw a ‘line in the sand’ – give the other negotiator a deadline – or make an offer that pushes him over the line. In every situation, you’re forcing him into a line of decision making. If that position doesn’t serve you, don’t jeopardize the negotiation by pursuing it. Check your line of thought and reasoning.

You should always plan your negotiation with clarity and a sense of direction in mind. The way you implement that process will determine the degree of success you’ll experience. And that hinges on the lines of thought that you invoke in the mind of the other negotiator.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here http://www.themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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