Archive: March 2012

Sales Can’t Sell What Is Not Real

March 28th, 2012

Did you ever tell a white lie and then someone asked enough questions that the little white lie turned into an entire winding tale? Or catch a toddler with chocolate all of their face and they say with confidence I didn’t eat the last cookie?

Sometimes we put our sales and marketing people in the same spot within our companies as that toddler. Sales people want to have great ideas and stories to talk about. They want to build relationships and talk about mutual things of interest. People matter in the sales equation. Building Business Relationships That Last is where it is at.

Once a month a local copier sales person calls me and leaves me the exact same message every single time. I can set my watch by the call. It never varies. It never changes. Even when I try to return the call I get a pitch about document management. Never once did I say I was interested in hearing about the product. There is no attempt to learn one thing about me or my company. I don’t know the name of their company. Never have. And I certainly am never given a chance to decide if I even want a relationship with this person, this product and this no name company.

Every Monday morning the phone rings for me and the calls says, Mr. Burkhead I am calling my best clients with an inside line on a unique stock play, or some gobbledygook like that. First, it might help if you get my name right. And excuse me, when did I become a client? Who are you? And when I hang up, what do they do? They call back, often forgetting they had even called me in the first place! Like déjà vu.

We want our sales people to talk about our companies. Funny thing is, you have to be a great company to tell a great story. If you do not have a great culture it is hard to talk about greatness. I am not saying that your business must be perfect to share a great story, however, it better be customer centered. Without that there is very little customer value. And that lack of value shows up.

Which is why sales people prefer to talk about products. They have spec sheets, features & benefits and technical language to share. They can show demonstration or give you samples. Sales people love to give you a free trial or a lifetime guarantee… It is so much easier to talk about the product than take the time to ask about the customer. Hi, want to buy some software? Or as I like to say, “Do you want to buy a duck?” It all sounds exactly alike to me, like all sales people are sent to the same sales class on how to pitch our wares!

So I say, give your sales people something different to talk about.
Work on being a great company. Work on being Outside-In in your actions. Customers like customer centered because it is about them! Teach them a process to build and track meaningful relationships in your targets. There is a science here. But most importantly, these things will help you avoid the dreaded product dump…

Mr. Burkhead do you want to buy a duck today?

Temps: A Working Solution

March 28th, 2012

By Eileen Smith Dallabrida
Delaware First Media News

These days, “temping” has a whole new spin as high-powered professionals are increasingly turning to interim positions.

The latest assignment for Dave Berlin of Exton, Pa., is as controller for a lumber company.

He also has done strategic financial planning for a maker of online greeting cards and a manufacturer of artificial turf. He served as interim CFO for a recruiting service.

There’s a boomlet in organizations looking for top talent on a contract or temporary basis, says Chris Burkhard, president of the CBI Group, a recruiting firm.

“Organizations are using temporary workers to help find that perfect match for permanent positions,” he says.

This strategy also benefits job hunters, who often wind up on the payroll full time after starting out in a temporary position. Berlin, 49, says he is open to coming on board full time in management at a mid-sized company. But he hasn’t found the right match yet.

CBI specializes in professional positions in a number of areas: sales and marketing; technical, health and life sciences; and corporate accounting, human resources, information technology, finance and legal services.

The agency placed Berlin with the lumber company. Before he began exploring contract positions, Berlin worked in management for Ernst & Young, a large accounting firm.

“I started taking temporary jobs in Pennsylvania and Delaware after I moved from New York to Exton,” he recalls. “I didn’t have any contacts in the area and this seemed like a good way to build a network.”

Sometimes, he finds his own positions, usually through referrals from previous clients. His assignments have lasted from three months to a year and a half. Pay ranges from $50 an hour—“if I’m in a lull”—to $125 an hour.

Berlin is responsible for the considerable expense of paying his own medical benefits. He doesn’t get a paid vacation or sick days.

“The other workers are off on Good Friday,” he says. “For me, it’s an unpaid day.”

Still, he enjoys the challenge of coming in and finding solutions for a variety of companies.

“As a temporary worker you can be extremely effective because you have no baggage, you have no favorites,” he says.

The Produce Marketing Association in Newark has been turning to contract workers for design, marketing and other services for the past four years. CBI acts as the filter, identifying candidates who can get up to speed quickly.

“It’s so dynamic, so fast-paced, we need someone who can jump in,” says Kelly Koczak, PMA vice president of marketing. “We are looking for people who are true collaborators with great energy, which is the ideal fit for our culture.”

Burkhard says there has been a structural realignment in thinking as both hiring managers and job seekers have grown more comfortable with the notion of short-term and interim solutions.

“The days of starting in the mailroom, working your way up and getting a gold watch after 30 years are over,” he says. “The recession made us all look at the way we do business differently.”

Looking forward, he believes there will be increased hiring, both temporary and permanent, as more businesses start growing again.

Burkhard’s informal barometer of the market—his teenage son’s network of Facebook friends—is trending upwards.

“All his friends who couldn’t find work are now getting jobs,” he says. “That tells me that fewer grownups are competing for those jobs.”

Temps on the Rise

March 25th, 2012

Employers like ease, flexibility of contract hiring

Written by
The News Journal

Nicole Fullmer may not realize it, but she has become a crucial part of getting the economy back on track — and a symbol of a big part of the job picture in coming years.

The 39-year-old contract worker, along with thousands like her across the state and nation, is at the forefront of the long-anticipated recovery in the labor market, and also a sign of a shift by employers — and willing job-seekers — toward jobs not involving long tenures or career ladders, economists say.

Economists say a current strengthening in the temporary employment ranks is evidence the economy is growing and firms are starting to add people to their payrolls — or creating demand for temps that has temp agencies adding people.

And temporary employment overall is growing, as temp and contract hiring become crucial tools for businesses looking to stay flexible and remain competitive, said Chris Burkhard, president of the CBI Group.

“It will become more of a partnership with large companies that use temporary staffing as part of their recruitment process,” said Christine Proffitt, vice president of sales and operations at Integrity Staffing Solutions, a national placement firm based in Wilmington.

It’s also gaining acceptance among younger workers who are less inclined to see themselves staying with one company for a lifetime, he said.

“For that group, freelance is cool. Or getting a new project is fun,” said Burkhard, who has resurrected his company’s “Placers” temp staffing brand because of growing demand. “The viewpoint of the workforce has shifted.”

Download the full article here.

What are your values?

March 21st, 2012

Culture matters. And values are norms and behaviors that represent culture. Encouraging the right norms and behaviors in your employees is what shapes your culture at work.

I was taught to encourage the heart. To lead from the heart. Even to sell from the heart. These are my values. I teach this every day by living it. I started a company where my values are congruent with the company’s values and I can trust in how my company treated customers. I did this so employees could be themselves at CBI Group too. It’s important for people to align their values with their company’s values.

But I am becoming painfully aware of how few people know themselves. When you interview, do you ask people what their values are? Do you ask new staff to share stories that represent their values? Culture starts at home. People are looking for interesting work, decent pay, and even a fair boss. But no one talks about values unless they have experienced negative ones.

What are your values? Take out a piece of paper, your Evernote or iPad… or however you take notes these days and write down what you stand for. Now carry your list of values around with you and see if you are living true to them each and every day. Put them on your mirror to read as you brush your teeth. Put them on the fridge. And perhaps on the PC at work.

I recently did this and I was surprised at the number of times my value list acted as my guide throughout the day, helping me with the decisions I faced.

So I challenge you. Do you know your values? Congratulations. Now, what about your employer’s values? Are they congruent?

Play Like Calgary

March 14th, 2012

At 6 years old, my son Josh (now almost 15) was sitting with me watching the 7th game of the Stanley Cup Hockey Finals. The game was Tampa Bay Lightning versus Calgary Flames. Tampa was ahead by one goal. If they held on they would get to hoist the oldest trophy in sports in celebration. But Calgary was flying all over the ice, coming at Tampa in wave after wave of play. Josh kept saying Calgary is trying really hard. They are working so hard. We were both sitting riveted at what we were seeing.

These teams were playing so hard that they had nothing left in the end. As they say, they left it all on the field (or ice in this case). They gave it their all. What other sport is so exhausting that your shift lasts a mere 45 seconds!? It is hard to skate at 20 miles per hour, get hit and keep focus.

But this story is not really a story about hockey. It is a story about how we live our daily lives. So many of us do not know who we really are, what our personal values are, what we are really capable of. Life is so empty of passion. So void of purpose. So numb to all of our surroundings. Some of us simply skate through life on the surface.

For Josh, this game changed his sports life. At six years old he figured out what it meant to put forth the extra effort. As he nears 15, I need only one phrase to motivate him, “Josh, play like Calgary”… “Attack your school work like Calgary would.” Some days we both slip. We’re human. He is a teenager. Enough said.

Some days we don’t live life like the last 10 minutes of a Stanley Cup game. But, every day I get up with the intentions of going for it. If you are wondering, Calgary lost the game. But for Josh and me, Calgary is a one word motivator that makes us both smile, and even makes us well up a little. I have lived a little life at this point, however, I have never, ever seen anyone give so much of themselves with such absolute abandon. SO FEW close the gap between who they are and what they are capable of.

Inspiration comes to people differently. What is your muse? Find what you are passionate about and give it your all. Play like Calgary. Work like Calgary. Live like Calgary.

Placers on WDEL

March 9th, 2012

On Friday, March 2, 2012 Glenn Koetz, our Placers Staffing Solutions Team Lead was interviewed on WDEL’s news hour with Peter MacArthur (standing in for Allan Loudell). Glenn discussed the changing view of temporary staffing as more of a strategic decision to hire professional level skill sets. Using “temps” is a way to keep costs flexible and gives you a chance to try the person out in the role before hiring them full-time.

Listen to the interview here.
Placers Staffing Solutions

A Workforce Realignment

March 7th, 2012

With a career dedicated to recruitment and staffing, I am a student of the workplace and workforce. I pay close attention to the realities of the industry as trends emerge and realignments change the way we do things. What do I mean? Workforce realities are the collective impact of globalization, technology, government, demographics and social norms on running a business. And currently, there is a lot of debate about how business is doing workforce planning.

Post-recession thinking has it that business is prone to using a contractual workforce for six months–one year after a recession ends to handle increasing productivity needs. This mild, tenuous recovery followed right along with history, with one big exception! That one year quickly became two, and now three years. So what gives? What happened to the shift where companies stopped using temps and started hiring directly to the payroll? There has been a fundamental realignment in workplace planning thinking.

The business leaders of today know that the range and fluctuation in business can be extreme. Does anyone remember the last recession? Of course we all do. The last recession was akin to that 100 year flood that none of us can imagine happening to our town. But this time around, it was us that lived through it.

We will continue to use temporary workers to be flexible and adaptable to fluctuations in business demand. But the realities of today’s workforce is that we need to get used to it. The social norms still suggest that everyone should go get a good job and work for a great company where they can feel secure. But that security may come from our skills and our focus on building them — more so than where we work. Loyalty may not be completely dead, but almost. No company can make forever employment promises any longer.

Today, we are all responsible for our own career. It is our job to build our skills and to manage our career. And with a shift like this, skill building will come in the form of projects, contract work and temporary assignments.

Are you ready for the shift?

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