The other day I was taking coffee with a friend who happens to be a group head for a prominent Midlands law firm. They aren’t clients but even so she felt compelled to share this true story with me.
Some time ago they did a complex piece of litigation for a client and against the odds they won.
She arranged for a post case review to take place mostly so she could secure the next piece of work.
Her clients patiently listened whilst she went through the case with them and then when she asked how they felt it had gone they said “We were so fed up with your people being late for meetings and conference calls we measured it – on average we waited 7 minutes for them to turn up”.
They now use another law firm - presumably one whose people arrive on time.
Often our clients value things that we do not: they are right and we are wrong. Deal with it.
Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This is an old IT saying and relates to data: if you load up your spanking new computer system with incorrect or incomplete data the information you get back will be incorrect or incomplete. Shocker eh?
Most things are like this. Cook a meal with poor ingredients and the finished dish is not likely to be very tasty; use low grade paint on your house and you’ll be painting it again next year and stock your garden with the cheapest plants you can find then watch as they slowly wither and die.
So if you don’t invest in yourself to make sure you’re as good as you can be and if you fail to keep accurate and complete data about your clients how can you possibly expect to work at peak performance?
In a business world that has never been more aggressive and difficult to work in can you really afford to operate at anything below peak-performance?
I was watching a dozy late summer wasp trying to escape the house the other day. His tactic was simple: keep flying at the window until magically it would give way and he would once more taste the fresh, clean Birmingham air.
He must have been at it half an hour before I got up, opened the window and shooed him out into the garden.
The thing is persistence on it’s own isn’t enough. Einstein said that his definition of madness was doing the same thing over and over in the same way and expecting a different outcome each time. I’m guessing that the wasp hadn’t read much Einstein over the years.
But, you know I think we can all be like that wasp from time to time: keep on doing the same old thing the same old way and being surprised and maddened in equal measures when it doesn’t work out the way we want.
If that’s you (and it really is all of us from time to time) STOP. Stand back and reconsider your options: what are you trying to achieve; what’s working; what isn’t and what can you do differently.
Oh and one last thing. The wasp didn’t ask for any help (he might have done but my Wasp is a bit rusty these days) but when I intervened he achieved his objective. We’re different because we can talk. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – sometimes others can see and do what we cannot.
You know, pressure can produce outstanding results in some people but stress (its first cousin) is always harmful and counter productive. It often causes physical as well as mental problems and will generally make you less effective. In short stress is NOT your friend.
This is how it all unfolds: -
- Stress causes unhappiness; pain and under-performance.
- Lack of control always causes stress
- Lack of the 3 P’s results in less control (preparation; planning and practice)
- Lack of time is why we don’t spend enough on the 3 P’s.
- Lack of discipline is why we don’t have enough time (we say “yes” too much and do things that don’t matter)
- Lack of accountability and strong working habits weaken our discipline.
- Lack of the right stakeholders causes lack of accountability.
So here’s what I suggest you do if you want a largely stress-free and happy existence: -
- Get the right stakeholders in your life: don’t compromise on your team and have somebody who you can make commitments to and will hold you accountable.
- Establish strong working habits.
- Say “no” when you need to and only do what matters (get a clear set of objectives so that you know what matters).
- Always plan, prepare and practice for every key event or responsibility.
All of these will result in putting you in control of events rather than the other way round and bingo! hardly a glimmer on the old stress-o-meter.
What do you think?
This is a guest blog by Alan Kenny who is the European General Manager of Mimecast a crazily successful provider of cloud-based email management software for archiving, discovery, continuity and security. He has a long track record of sales and sales management and if he says something works you can bet your last Rolo that it does!
You know I used to always believe that I was a great motivator of sales teams. I have had teams that have delivered tremendous results and of whom I have been extremely proud. I used to love it when I heard my boss say that I drive the team with ‘tough love’ and that although it wasn’t obvious I really did have their best interests at heart.
Good times and I wouldn’t change them for the world, but it’s just not sustainable.
The danger with being the key to your sales team’s motivation is that it can only ever be a short term effect: it lasts for as long as you can maintain the energy to drive, cajole and manipulate their behaviour. Worse still, you can become an accidental diminisher rather than a multiplier – a scary thought!
The real key to motivating your sales team is to ensure that you do not de-motivate them!
Believe me this is not as simple as it seems. It requires communicating a clear vision for your sales team embracing methodology and behaviours as well as publicly demonstrating enormous trust in the people themselves. Not to mention quite a lot of patience which is very often lower on the list of qualities exhibited by us sales leaders than it should be!
So here are my top 5 rules for building highly motivated sales teams.
Rule #1 – Recruit the right people – You probably have an Ideal Client Profile for selecting new clients but do you have an Ideal Rep Profile to help you clearly identify the Talent, Experience & Cultural characteristics that a sales person must exhibit. Whatever happens never compromise: never accept anything less!
Rule #2 – Develop, Develop, Develop – David Beckham never stopped practising free kicks, sales people should never stop developing their skills – Fact! So have an on-going training and development program to help them ease their weaknesses and hone their strengths.
Rule #3 – Explicit Expectations – Create a personal contract with your sales people which makes clear what you expect from them and what they should expect from you and then hold each other accountable.
Rule #4 – Social Accountability – Create an environment where results and performance are stated publicly along with a commitment on actions to course-correct if required. There is nothing more binding than a person’s public commitment to their peers provided you hold them accountable for delivery.
Rule #5 – Consistency on the first 4 rules – If you don’t follow best practise then don’t expect anyone else to!
In case you think that I have completely nailed all of the above then you would be wrong: you can never sit back and say “that’s it, the perfect approach”. I’m just committed to creating an environment that allows people’s self-motivation to flourish and then trying to stay out of the way!
If this sounds like a journey that could be of value to you then I recommend the following 5 books as they have become my bibles.
- Multipliers: How the Best Leaders make Everyone Smarter by Elizabeth Wiseman and Greg McKeown
- The New Solution Selling: the revolutionary sales process that is changing the way in which people sell by Keith M. Eades
- The Inner Game of Work: Focus, learning, pleasure and mobility in the workplace by Timothy Gallwey
- Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action by Simon Sinek
- Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us by Daniel Pink
This is a guest post by Barry Hoffman who is the Group HR Director of Computacenter. I have known Barry for many years and I can honestly say he is one of the most productive and successful leaders I have ever worked with. Lazy? Perhaps not but he rarely attends meetings, works a standard day and always has time to meet useful and interesting people. Read on to find out how he does it all…..
When the Flair man asked me to write a blog on how to be productive, successful and lazy, I predictably and inevitably said I couldn’t be bothered, and even if I could, I’d be outsourcing it to some lesser mortal. But after some, frankly, undignified, begging for a man of his maturing stature and the promise of fine dining, I relented and so here is the secret to a productive and successful career: Let people do their jobs.
Believe it or not, it’s easier to write than it is to do – but it soon becomes a habit. I am, I think, quite successful – by lots of measures (financial, hierarchical, family, health and so on), but I am apt to look on the bright side, I grant you.
In all seriousness though, to be successful you need to let go – trust those around you (give them support, guidance and clear boundaries) but don’t interfere with the experts, listen to what those around you say and then allow them to fulfil their potential. Don’t take opportunities from them – they may do things 80% the way that you wanted but the other 20% might be better than you could ever imagine – or indeed better than you could ever achieve yourself.
So many of us feel the need to speak, to have it our way and to be superior by knowing more about everything than those beneath us. It’s primeval and natural. But overcome this and you are unlocking a rich seam of productivity. You will achieve more through others than you ever imagined and, if you do it with magnanimity, encouragement and genuine permission, then you will have the most loyal, engaged and committed team you could hope for. They will cover more ground than you could ever hope to alone. It’s no accident that Newton’s quote “standing on the shoulders of giants” is a cliché. Use the strengths of those around you and you can cover great distance (operationally) and see for miles around (strategically).
This approach is hard work and takes lots of practice. But once you’ve cracked it you will be productive and successful. If you want to know how to start then my advice is to listen, really listen to your people, let them do their jobs and try as hard as you can to encourage, support, guide and not interfere.
And how do you do that – well of course, it helps if you’re lazy!
These words propagate the status quo, suppress change and create a whole world of “can’t do” so should be avoided whenever possible.
- If I could just get that job/lose weight/pass that exam/win that client my life would be so much better.
- If I can find some time I am going to get on top of my Inbox and keep it that way.
- If you want me to do that I will have to have this, that and the other in place first.
- When I get time that’s the next thing I’m going to do
- When I have read up on social media I will join LinkedIn and get connected.
- When you’re as old as me you don’t need to follow the rules.
- I hear what you’re saying BUT that does not apply to me.
- That is a great idea BUT……
- I can see what you’re suggesting is right for most places BUT it just won’t work here.
When you feel the need to use any of these cop-out words think again: is what you’re saying true or could it be down to the threat of losing control, laziness, fear of change or just because it wasn’t your idea in the first place. Instead why not try a different answer like “how could we”, “why don’t we” or “what if we did this”.
Answers are everything. It’s better work towards them than stand in the way of their discovery.
When I talk about the virtues of CRM systems with people I get one particular response more than all the others added together “That’s Great Mike but I just don’t have the time”. Well I’ve got news for anybody who shares that view – you don’t have the time NOT to use CRM and here’s why.
Speaking as one of the world’s laziest sales people I depend upon a CRM system to manage my sales activities by using the “set and forget” method: I set a future action against a contact and then forget about them until the system reminds me it’s time to do something. And here’s the really great part – working in this way I spend less than 5 minutes a day using my CRM system!
Typical start to the day: -
- 8am every morning CRM reminds me to contact up to 5 people that day and tells me what I am supposed to do with them. Any more than that and I will probably reset the reminder dates for the next day. 5 sales activities a day really is my limit.
- Any telephone actions I will try and get in before 8:30am because I am 4 times more likely to actually speak to people then than later in the day. Why waste time leaving voicemails?
- After I have spoken to the person I will make a one-line note on CRM, set the next action and reminder date and forget about them.
- I will then deal with any email actions linking each email to the appropriate CRM record with the click of a button. Finally I will reset the next action and reminder date and they’re done.
During the day: -
- If I meet somebody I will either email or call my PA so that she can update their CRM record. Typically this will be their notes and next action, perhaps their pipeline and conversion stages (just a flag on the system) and sometimes to add an interest or preference. Brevity is all, dear reader.
- If I meet a new person I will pass my PA their business card, any notes, the next action and reminder date (if applicable) and she will add them to CRM for me.
Even if I didn’t have a PA I would only be adding an extra few minutes a day to my CRM commitment. CRM really is the lazy-persons dream tool!
People who complain that they don’t have the time for CRM probably: -
- Don’t understand how to use it properly as outlined above.
- Have too many actions cropping up each day and succumb to a sort of action paralysis.
- Keep way too many notes on there.
- Haven’t partitioned their pipeline so try and treat all their prospects and clients the same – shame on them!
So here’s the advice of the laziest sales person in the world: get organised and let CRM take the strain; you just concentrate on the clever stuff.
Have you heard that old expression: when you’re up to your arse in alligators it’s difficult to remember that you were hired to drain the swamp? Well, if it resonates you probably need to check your pulse because you could have already turned into a corporate zombie without even realizing it. Allow me to explain.
Have you ever watched any of those dreadful B-movies involving zombies swathed in rags and their flesh falling off their bodies limping wide-eyed and groaning towards their hapless victim? A gruesome vision, perhaps but a vivid reminder of what it’s like to work in today’s corporate world? Surely not!
Well I happen to think there is more than a passing similarity. They seem acceptant with their lot, they’re all behaving in the same way and, worse of all, they are entirely oblivious to anything except what is in front of them.
Think about it. Where do you get any thinking time these days? Years ago, before the advent of hand-held devices and email, travelling; holidays; lunchtimes and home time all belonged to you but now you are available 24/7 and, unbelievably, some people have become to expect this kind of access as the norm!
The upshot of this is no thinking time. Just like the zombies we have to concentrate on the next thing in front of us. Oblivious to all else we process that next email, take that incoming call, turn out for meetings (most of which are pointless) and stress about deadlines. Everything, it seems, is sucking our time, energy and head-space from us leaving no time to think and no time to question. Voila! We have become corporate zombies.
Well it doesn’t have to be this way.
In America there is a new concept that I would like to introduce to you called Corporate Stillness. The belief behind it is that the more senior you are in an organisation the more ”empty time” you need so that you can think, reflect and challenge the status quo – that’s how progress is made.
Apparently you can stay in a cliff-top room in the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur California where you pay extra ($2285 per night per room) for a room which does not have a TV, wifi or a mobile signal – only in America! But the reasoning is sound: you need time to think about the big idea, draining the swamp if you will.
Added to that Nicolas Carr performed a series of tests as research for his book (The Shallows) that found after spending quiet time often in rural surroundings, people “exhibited greater attentiveness, stronger memory and generally improved cognition”. In other words quiet time makes you smarter and sharper!
We all know we should be working on our business as well as in our business but if we don’t find the time it just won’t happen.
My point is this: ideas are the currency of greatness and they don’t come whilst you’re arse-deep in the corporate equivalent of snapping green monsters. Creativity and innovation need time so you simply must create some stillness in your lives otherwise you are just going to groan and limp your way through one corporate morass after another.
My advice is consider adopting the following: -
- When you go on holiday spend time before you go arranging things so you don’t have to check in every day. Give somebody access to your emails and get them to do it instead – don’t fall for the illusion of your own indispensability!
- Turn off all you mobile devices every second journey you make especially to and from work.
- Do not wear a watch or check your emails on Sundays.
So there we have it – avoid being a corporate zombie and achieve great things by showing a little back-bone; turning off your Crackberry and creating some stillness. It sure works for me.