Month: February 2015

Be an A-Level Player!

By Simon T. Bailey, Author, Speaker and Inspirational Coach 

Companies are revisiting and redefining their ideas about which employees are ‘high potential keepers.’ ‘A-level Players are the men and women who’ve proven their relevancy to the organization through their innovation, insight and performance.’ Organizations prize A-Level Players because they are adaptable – they can move to other areas of the company and add value. B-Level Players have demonstrated some potential, but their productivity is inconsistent. And C-Level Players are those who’ve sat on their blessed assurances like frogs in a pot of water on the fire…they can sense that the environment is heating up, but they don’t have the desire or the urgency to do something to save their skins. 

In the not-so-distant future, people will be promoted, compensated and celebrated for their ‘innovation’ as opposed to their ‘duration’ with a company. In fact, the future may be here already!

In the past, workforce reductions typically involved C-Level employees. But in today’s do-more-with-less business environment, more often than not, B-Level Players are being shown the door.

John, a friend of mine told me a compelling story. As he walked into his office one morning, his Manager asked to speak with him – privately! His boss gave John the good news that he’d just received a substantial bonus. However, the boss then went on to explain that, effective ‘that very same day,’ the organization was undergoing RIF actions (Reductions in Force) and that John’s counterpart in the department was being let go.

Now, that may not seem like a terribly interesting story…until I tell you that John has only been with the organization for six months (and earned a sizable bonus), while his counterpart had been there five years (and received a pink slip). Furthermore, in the performance review, John received just the week before, his manager noted that John brought best-practice methods to the department and the organization, saved the company money, identified potential revenue streams, and assisted other co-workers and departments in meeting their goals. Sounds to me like John is an A-Level Player!

And what about his counterpart who was let go? John described her as a great person and someone who was a team player, completed tasks on time and did what she was asked to do. In other words, she was a B-Level Player.

Friends, let me put the truth on the table: Being a ‘good’ employee or manager simply isn’t enough anymore!

Now, let me ask you: Which type of player are you ‘today?’ Which type of player do you aspire to be?

The hard truth is that most people are B-Level Players. And that’s okay – do you know why? Because you can change! With a sharpening of your skills, a change in your mindset and an adjustment of your focus, you can become an A-Level Player. Furthermore, due to differences in objectives, roles and responsibilities, someone who is a B-Level Player in one organization might be an A-Level Player in another. It’s all about the right fit.

If you want to move up in your organization, make more money, earn some recognition and achieve a sense of accomplishment, then rid yourself of all forms of mediocrity. If you spend much of your time looking busy or important in front of the boss, or politicking for advancement or a bigger bonus, you might want to rethink what you’re doing. Otherwise, before long, you may be looking for another job.

A-Level Players are relevant. They are entrepreneurial-minded in all they do. High-potential people are the CEOs of their jobs – they take ownership and make things happen instead of waiting to be told what to do. A-Levels players have radical insight and ask, “What if?” or “Is there a better way to achieve the goal?” They think strategically and innovatively about ways to generate revenue, save money and create efficiency. And finally, top-notch employees and leaders follow the same forward-thinking principle as the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky, who said: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it is.”

I have watched A-Level players and they refuse to give their power away by accepting others’ opinions, head trash and limited view of the world, and then wonder why they’re stuck. A-Level players kick the addiction to other people’s views and opinions ‘people bondage.’ It’s one of the most debilitating diseases in the world because it causes you to give your energy away to others who don’t ‘get you.’ If you let it, people bondage will eventually cripple your future. Herbert Bayard Swope is quoted as saying, “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure: Try to please everybody.”

How can you become an A-Level Employee?

  • Identify ways to make or save the organization money.
  • Propose a better way of completing a task or process.
  • Determine how you can integrate the various ‘hats you wear’ into a strategic role that touches several parts of the organization.
  • Raise your hand and take on the project that no one else wants.
  • Execute consistently – follow up and follow through. Don’t allow projects to die on the vine.

How can you become an A-Level Manager?

  • Coach your A-Level employees for retention, your B-Level employees for performance, and your C-Level employees to find their happiness elsewhere.
  • Teach your team how the finances work in your organization. Enhance their financial intelligence so they can contribute to the bottom line.
  • Give a portion of your bonus to those staff members who assist you in achieving your goals. (I suppose HR might shoot down this idea because C-Level Employees could cry discrimination…oh well, it was a good thought. Laugh…I did.)
  • Make a commitment to read the Executive Summary of “The Harvard Business Review and Strategy & Business magazine.” It will give you incredible insights into how to be an innovator in your organization.
  • If you’re performing multiple roles in a do-more-with-less corporate culture, consider it a blessing instead of a curse. Why? If you’ll pay attention, you should be able to develop relevant insight into how to improve the business.

Every day, you have a new opportunity to demonstrate your insight and innovation. Remember, your relevance is your point of differentiation.

Simon says, “If you don’t want to be obsolete, you must be relevant!”


Tough Economy – It Shouldn’t be about Surviving – It Should be about Thriving

By Dr. Rick Johnson, Founder, CEO Strategist, LLC

In order to survive the many ups and downs of today’s changing environment and the market forces we will all face in 2008, 2009 & beyond, it will require sticking to the basic principles of sales effectiveness. But let’s talk about thriving in the kind of economy we face today. I’m not so naïve to think as a sales person we can just ignore the market and growth will just fall into our laps. Everything is relative. Thriving in an economy like the one we face today with many industries including the housing and building supply industry in the tank may just mean focusing on your value propositions and making sure you continue to seek and improve your competitive position. Maintaining acceptable levels of growth and profitability is what thriving is all about when we face the turbulent external market forces that exist today. And, you get to define acceptable.

“Profits can cover many sins.”
The market forces have been very kind to the majority of us through 2005 and much of 2006. However, 2007 & 2008 has reintroduced us to a staggering economy and the wave of success we have all been riding has been all, but eliminated for the majority of industries in distribution. The success we have enjoyed in the past just won’t be as easy to accomplish in 2008 & 2009. Past successes may have camouflaged internal problems and annoyances that could become a crisis in 2008 & 2009 under different circumstances.

A key to thriving in this kind of economy is the ability to deal with our fears and uncertainties. If you, as a sales person, have been disciplined in your approach to targeting, goal setting, action planning, penetration and new account development, then you have the experience and tenacity to thrive.

To not just survive in 2008 & 2009, but to maintain acceptable levels of sales growth and profitability is a goal that I am sure is shared by virtually 100 % of the sales people out there if they are worth their salt. So, let’s review some principles that can help us maintain our focus, uncover some of those sins that may have become covered by profitability and create the kind of success in 2008, 2009 & beyond that you can be proud of:

  1. Go back to basic best practice in managing your sales initiatives
  2. Understand your role in the market place
  3. Develop or refine your individual territory plans (Take it seriously & document it)
  4. Continue to develop and train your sales force (Don’t scrimp here)
  5. Insist upon sales territory plans that target accounts based on potential for growth
  6. Create change based on changes in your markets and your industry

Sales Effectiveness
It’s really fun being a sales person when the economy is booming. It is not difficult to do well and sometimes we can be lulled into a sense of eternal success that doesn’t require a 100% effort. It can lead to a comfort zone that is not healthy for long-term success. Make sure your sales force practices a sales effectiveness discipline that requires documented action planning for specific targeted accounts that support individual territory plans. Of course, these plans must be in alignment with strategic initiatives as well. Being realistic in our approach is even more important in turbulent times.

The ‘R’ Word
Don’t let that ‘R’ word, Recession, introduce fear and uncertainty. Avoid those common mistakes sales people make when times get tough; mistakes like, being slow to react, creating our own self fulfilling prophecy and becoming reactive instead of proactive in our approach.

It’s the Economy, Stupid
One of the problems with all of this talk about a tough economy is that once people believe times are really tough they start to feel negative about their business prospects and only tend to see what they believe rather than believing what they see. Once you believe that times are tough you tend to only notice articles, comments and statistics that support your beliefs.

Let’s Clarify:

  • The state of the economy is a fact
  • How you feel about that fact and what it means to you personally is a belief
  • ‘Your’ Beliefs have a major impact on ‘your’ employees’ attitude

Beliefs that drive your sales behaviors are the keys to becoming successful in a down economy.
One person might believe that a ‘bad’ economy means it’s going to be harder to make a sale. It’s just not possible to hit my numbers when the economy sucks.

Yet, another person might believe that a ‘bad’ economy means you can now win lots more business because they are prepared and the quality of their value propositions coupled with their ability to reach out – network and build customer relationships is far superior to the competition that generally only has price going for them.

What Do Your Sales People Believe?
Reevaluate your territory plan, your sales management system and your sales effectiveness approach. There is still business in ‘them there hills.’ It’s your job to go out and get the biggest share of that business for your company as you possibly can.

Using High-Tech Software to Create High-Touch Relationships

By Dr. Tony Alessandra, President, Online Assessments

When Scott and I were first introduced, he was just starting his process of trying to match marketing messages to behavioral styles. Scott had created Cyrano (a web-based contact management system that ‘automates’ follow-ups for salespeople), and was looking for the right psychology to take his technology to a new level of effectiveness.

Scott had read several books on the subject of psychology and was convinced that my four-style model was the simplest, most effective profiling mechanism being used in business. Scott had successfully applied my concept of adapting to behavioral styles (Directors, Relaters, Thinkers and Socializers) during his sales calls and was trying to apply it in his marketing process.

When I taught him The Platinum Rule, he ‘knew’ he had found the last piece to his one-to-one marketing system.

Similarly, I had been writing, speaking and teaching about profiling and adaptability for more than three decades. Businesspeople had been effectively applying The Platinum Rule in the areas of sales, management and customer service, but I had yet to see anyone make it work effectively in marketing/communications.

Cyrano changed the way I viewed marketing, lead development, sales support and contact management. It represented an opportunity to treat ‘everyone’ the way each wanted to be treated and I was eager to get involved.

Scott showed me how he could profile a prospect, capture their interests and execute a long-term, customized follow-up in less than sixty seconds. WOW! This was already the most powerful sales support system I had seen, but Scott wanted to make it even better.

He then asked me how he should change the content in each message based on the behavioral style of each contact. I had had the same idea in the 1980s, but technologies simply didn’t exist at that time to make it work. Scott had created the perfect technology and I was more than ready to see my theories put to the test.

During the next few years, Scott and I continued to refine both the Cyrano technology and specific mixes of behavioral psychologies.

Here are some of our discoveries of what is working:

We use two effective psychological principles to ensure that our messages are read and digested, while creating a strong positioning in the mind of our prospects.

The first is the proven method taught by Dale Carnegie in his timeless classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” We simply ask people what they find interesting and then send them ‘only’ information that matches their personal preferences. Customizing long-term follow-ups demonstrates that we have taken the time to listen and captured the knowledge; we then take action at a later date. Carnegie says that ‘everyone’ wants to feel important, so we go out of our way to make all of our friends, colleagues, e-zine subscribers, prospects and clients feel important by sending them information that helps ‘them’ achieve ‘their’ goals.

The second is a very strong law of persuasion called ‘reciprocity.’ In Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” he describes how we are all subconsciously driven by a need to help others that go out of their way to help us. This wonderful reflex has served mankind throughout history and can be leveraged in a positive way if the user is coming from an attitude of giving.

Scott and I have created a customized e-zine called ‘One-to-One from A-to-Z’ where we constantly give away our knowledge and ideas. What makes our model truly unique is that we use Cyrano to capture the styles, interests and preferences of every subscriber, and only send them articles that match their tastes.

As you might imagine, many of them are now looking for ways to help us. Some have tracked down our websites and are buying products, some are referring friends and colleagues into our database and some are contacting us to learn more about our services. In other words, we are ‘being’ pursued because we simply give and give and give through our ‘One-to-One from A-to-Z’ e-zine.

Making our subscribers feel important and going out of our way to help them has been a wonderful way to grow our database, deepen The Platinum Rule brand, and help people discover products and services that will help them achieve ‘their’ specific outcomes.

Our next discovery was the power of changing content in sales copy to ‘speak the language’ of prospects based on their behavioral style.

Brian Tracy and I have been selling online behavioral style assessments for many years. Naturally, we have often tweaked our marketing to try and maximize revenues.

Recently, Scott re-wrote the offer for our customers to purchase a customized report and e-book after taking a free assessment and used specific wording based on the style of each person.

Brian’s sales jumped 506% and mine exploded way beyond that.

Same product, same price, same 3-month time period…huge increase in response!

What worked?

For Directors, Scott described how our information would help them achieve more goals – faster – by internally motivating others differently based on style.

For Socializers, he shared stories and testimonials of famous people who benefited by applying The Platinum Rule.

For Relaters, Scott emphasized the importance of deepening relationships, reducing interpersonal tension, avoiding conflict and pointed out our unconditional money back guarantee.

For Thinkers, he described – in detail – the offer, the components of the offer, the iron-clad guarantee and the specific process of adapting to observable behavior.

The incredible increase in percentage of sales was proof positive that people respond to specific features, benefits and outcomes…differently, but predictably!

Directors want to know, “What is it and how will I benefit?”

Socializers want to know, “Who else is doing this and how will it positively increase my visibility?”

Relaters want to know, “How will this give me more security and improve relationships?”

Thinkers want to know, “How does this work, how do I apply it and is there a guarantee?”

By combining the power of The Platinum Rule (adapting to style), the law of reciprocity and Carnegie’s proven method of winning friends along with Cyrano communication technology, Scott and I have created a turnkey method for converting customers into friends and helping everyone we encounter.

Scott is currently consulting with many companies that are looking to leverage databases into more sales, deeper relationships and more referrals.

Here’s to your sales and marketing success!