Archive: May 2012


Growing Your Business With Ubiquity

May 30th, 2012

Ubiquity means existing everywhere.

In the 1980s, Microsoft set a lofty goal to get computing power everywhere: clothing, watches, phones, tablets, refrigerators, you name it. Microsoft wanted to be everywhere. In essence, they achieved their goal. Thirty years later, computing technology really is everywhere: GPS navigation systems in cars, computerized registers in stores, and you may even be reading this blog from the Internet… on your cell phone.

As of late, my companies have had a real revelation with the notion of pinpointing when someone makes the decision to do business with us. We do a postmortem on all of the possible reasons they found us, they bought from us, etc. For a company that is Outside-In® and cares deeply about customer experience, this probably does not seem too unique.

However, what we have learned is that we sell and customers buy — when there is a sense of ubiquity about our presence. CBI Group, Placers and Barton Career Advisors are everywhere! Well, not really. But that is what it must seem like.

Marketing and sales are about impressions. Is it the newsletter that got someone’s attention? A new website? An outgoing call from your company? A traditional billboard? Or a chance encounter at a networking or trade show event? Or maybe…just maybe, it is about business ubiquity. You get to know several of your customers involved in the business and in turn, they get to know you.

I no longer question this theory of ubiquity. I know it is true. People do business with whom they like. But in order for people to get to know you and like you, you have to be front and center to capture the mind share of your prospects.

Microsoft’s ubiquity reflects an unprecedented revolution in technology, and many may not be able to match that level of omnipresence; but then again who really knows? Anything is possible. So, ask yourself this question: What can you do to put your company front and center…and keep it there?

CBI Group Adds First Employee 100% Dedicated to Outside-In®

May 29th, 2012

CBI Group is excited to share that after a decade of being an Outside-In® company, Lisa Van Ess has joined the team as Group Leader — Outside-In®, the first employee dedicated 100% to Outside-In®. In this unique role, she is responsible for the overall customer experience. She will operationalize CBI’s Outside-In® brand promise and support clients and team members through leadership, customer-driven solutions, business design and development.

Lisa is a great fit for this client advocate role, bringing 18 years of HR leadership experience in search, staffing, corporate recruiting, and training development, and also because, she has been a CBI customer. Her diverse HR background has given her the dual mindset of client and customer perspective and will help ensure CBI continues to be Outside-In®, or customer centered, in everything they do. Prior to joining the CBI team, Lisa was Vice President of Human Resources and Professional Development for Global Operations at SEI, a customer of CBI Group.

Lisa looks forward to establishing stronger relationships with clients and creating true partnerships where mutual learning and benefits occur at every interaction. She defines Outside-In® as listening to and allowing the clients to be in the forefront when crafting solutions and running business.

President of CBI Group, Chris Burkhard, shares, “Lisa is our warrior for the customer. Being Outside-In® means we are customer centered, so Lisa will work closely with our customers to make sure their voices are heard and take what she learns to collaborate with our internal teams to adapt and customize our recruiting solutions. We are very excited to have our first 100% Outside-In® role and also to have Lisa’s energy and enthusiasm on the team.”

Lisa has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from The State College of New Jersey. She holds certifications in Coaching, Employment Investigations, Predictive Index, and ITIL Project and Service Lifecycle Management. She participates on the Penn State Great Valley Advisory Board, as well as, the Strategic Advisory Council and HireOne Committees for the Chester County Economic Development Council. Her free time is spent playing (and sometimes winning) RockBand with her musician/composer husband Jeff.

Full Disclosure

May 23rd, 2012

Guest Blog by Kelly Hocutt, a CBI Group team member

At CBI, we have added four new people to our team in the past few weeks. One of the first things we share with new team members is our Outside-In® culture and we have done so by sharing stories about one tenet each week. This week is Open Book. I first learned about what it meant to be Open Book from Chris’ father, Alan Burkhard.

When I met with Alan to learn about his life as an entrepreneur, I wondered, “What is it that Alan understands about this world that the rest of us are too blind to see? What makes him so successful, so content and so relaxed?” It’s that he has nothing to hide.

“I am fully open and honest with everyone,” he told me. He teams up with people that have the same values as him and commits to full disclosure. He will discuss anything his partners, coworkers or employees want to know. He shares his philosophy with anyone who is interested. It’s simple, common sense but the difference lies in making what you believe, what you actually do. To live and be what you believe. He teaches his philosophy to his employees and the Outside-In® philosophy has been successful in every business he has established or turned around, in seven different industries; Payroll, transfer stations, real estate, trash, horse racing, food service and staffing services… Just like it has worked for his son.

“I don’t care what the product is in my business. Great service is unbeatable because it’s free,” he says with a smile. Letting his customers call all the shots has made Alan Burkhard the successful entrepreneur he is today. “What’s the value to you? That’s the value to me.” The beauty of the Outside-In® philosophy is its minimalism. He teaches it in the classroom, he can diagram it or explain it through one of his many analogies. He could shout it from the mountaintops. But that doesn’t mean people grasp it enough to fully embrace and live it.

Thus, to put his philosophy to work in his companies, Alan leads by example. “My business philosophy is the same as my personal philosophy,” he explained. He teaches people to have their own cultures, to learn and understand themselves. He then encourages them to be who they say they are. Culture is defined by “what we do and how we act. You must live it. Be it.” Everyone has cultural traits that they rank higher than others, whether they know it or not. The big one for Alan are being direct, sharing, and leadership. With a defined culture, Alan empowers people to make decisions.

Alan believes that he and his employees are equally important and he makes sure they know that. “I give full trust in employees. There is no need not to tell them anything.” And that is exactly what those of us at CBI Group have been talking about this week. Our new team members are learning from the veterans what full disclosure, sharing and collaboration are all about. This Outside-In® approach is so simple and so human that it can be confusing. But it’s up to each and every employee to put being Open Book in to action. When one of us passes it along, it’s a beautiful thing to watch the power of full disclosure.

The concept of “And” versus “Or”

May 16th, 2012

We have been having a lot of internal discussion and debate around getting “stuff” done and making “things” happen. Stuff and things are everywhere. Hiring employees, training employees, solving problems, finishing projects, having discussions. Stuff and things are all we do. The challenge that I have laid out is that compromise is not an option. As Jim Collins wrote about in his book, Built to Last, perhaps great leaders and great companies find a way to get it all done, they don’t allow “or” to creep into their stuff and things. You should never hear “or” in action. We can do this or do that. Choose or compromise. No, the best leaders and companies find a way to get it all done, meaning stuff and things, versus stuff or things.

So the concept is easy right? Bring me some real life examples to prove your point, you ask? Recently, I was given a gift of a book on leadership and soccer. The book, The Messiah Method, is a compelling read on the success that Messiah College has had as a Division III school in men’s and women’s soccer. And not just a little, they win at a 912 winning percentage! Pretty impressive stuff, the highest winning percentage in collegiate sports of a 10 year history.

Their coaches practice the “And” versus “Or” philosophy. When they recruit, they insist on toughness and skill. Both often don’t come together. They insist on team-oriented kids and the best kids on the field. Not easy to find. And finally, they expect the nicest, most caring people that become competitive and tough as nails when playing.

Work and leadership are hard. I for one have always worked hard to be an “And” leader. Both with planning and by setting the expectation for an “And” mentality. You can and should have it both ways. That is where great leadership and better companies come from.

Find yourself saying “We can’t hire for skill and culture fit”? Don’t compromise. Do it right and hire for both. The next class of hires might catapult you and your business to the next level.

Find yourself having to justify making tough choices on important projects or critical customers? Don’t do it. Find a way. Work with others. Make it happen.

“And” is about desire and belief. “And” is about your mindset. Most of us immediately assume we can’t have it both ways and we must choose. We do not demand it of ourselves first. And we do not challenge our teams. Lay it out there. Do not waver. And just maybe, you will be built to last like Messiah.

Small-firm optimism up; hiring plans static (The News Journal)

May 16th, 2012

NFIB index rose in April to 14-month high

Written by
ERIC RUTH
The News Journal

Small businesses may not be doing much hiring right now, but they are feeling better about things.

That may translate into more job openings soon, according to a new survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which saw its optimism index climb two points in April, the highest reading since February 2011.

More businesses around the country said they are planning to hire workers and invest in capital projects, according to the survey. At the same time, growth is expected to be modest for the remainder of the year, said the group’s chief economist, Bill Dunkelberg.

The economy is still challenged by GDP performance, the euro debt crisis and a continuation of government steps that have created “huge deficits, a terrifying amount of liquidity at the Fed, and no indication that anything positive will be done,” he said.

“It’s a modest improvement but an improvement nevertheless, and that’s important,” said NFIB Delaware State Director Ellen Valentino. “Small-business owners are still concerned about the mess in Washington, but we’re seeing a very faint light at the end of the tunnel.”

Chris Burkhard, owner of the Delaware-based recruitment solutions companies CBI Group and Placers, said the mood recently has been decidedly better for the clients and contacts he deals with.

“My gut tells me that things are better,” he said. “I’m seeing spending, I’m seeing initiatives around solving problems, when in the past you might have lived without getting a marketing project done.”

Burkhard himself has hired three internal workers in the past six days, and plans to bring on another soon.

“I see it and hear it every day … if you’re relevant, you’re growing,” Burkhard said.

At Ballantree Consulting near Cherry Hill, N.J., a recent survey of small businesses in the greater Philadelphia area found that many are still taking a cautious approach, but are feeling better about their bottom lines.

“Optimism is definitely back – not fully, people are still being conservative,” said Cheryl Beth Kuchler, owner of the business consulting and coaching firm. “They’re definitely optimistic about revenues and profitability for this year.”

The NFIB report said profits and sales are strong at businesses surveyed, but warned that inflation may become a concern for them in the months ahead. The survey found that 26 percent of owners have raised their average selling prices in the past three months.

Go to The News Journal article online.

Dare to Be You

May 9th, 2012

The stereotypes and cliches about sales people and their antics are truly a part of our every day lives as we go about the act of procurement for our homes and business. The most common feedback I observe (which is sometimes good, mostly awful) is the style of a sales person. I often coach that we should learn to “sell from the heart.” Selling from the heart is about being honest, authentic and flawed in doing your sales job.

Most contemporary sales people know that they need to be “likeable” and build relationships with their prospects, ask consultative questions and have good follow-up in all of their interactions.There is much theory and debate on the “how” side of all of this. My thoughts are relatively simple and express how to sell from the heart.

  1. People don’t generally care for plastic. Being overly formal and distant (predictable behavior) does not allow the “you” to shine through. This does not mean you should be who you are on a typical Saturday night, some secrets are best kept. However, people generally do better intuitively when they think the real person has “shown up” on the call or in person. No ones like a plastic facsimile of what you think a sales person should do and say.
  2. Be wonderfully and terribly flawed. I hate perfection in a buying moment. It makes me nervous. It is OK for a sales person to not know every answer. The true magic happens when you commit to how you will get the answer and you deliver on that promise! If you are presenting and you flub, admit your mistake. A flaw or two is normal. And the typical buyer, deep down, would rather buy from reality.
  3. Selling from the heart is about being human and transparent. Corporate America requires a certain amount of method acting to fit in; I know so few people who say, when I go to work, I can be myself! Not every company requires you to adapt to the way things are done. Culture influences this, leadership style has an impact, even the clients you serve mold the company’s way of being. That is why it is so hard not to look and act like a corporate drone. But sales is different. With sales, you need moments with prospects that help establish trust. You need to be credible. Some of the best ways to earn these things is to sell from the heart. Don’t be a method actor practicing what you think your prospect wants and expects from you. Be you.
  4. Change up the selling steps. This one is so easy. When you cold call and ask for anything from your prospect, shift the paradigm. Don’t ask questions. Don’t qualify. This is what every salesperson does. It is how we as sales people are taught typically taught to sell. We can only spend time on qualified prospects and we have to ask them questions to qualify them right? Well with research tools today, qualifying is easy. Why not ask to share your company story. See if they like you and your business. Then ask to come back to gather information? Be consultative. Be different from the pack.
  5. When you go slowly, you move fast! The best way to sell from the heart is to be student of how relationships evolve. Sales people have quotas and targets. Your customers don’t care about your quotas and targets. Sales people think they have relationships. Or perhaps don’t care because they need to sell things, so who cares about the person buying? Well, I’ll bet you’ll sell a lot more when you have more meaningful relationships – relationships come when you bring value to your prospect or when you have earned credibility through your actions. So when you take the time to foster strong relationships, your start to notice the change in your sales numbers down the line.

The point is so basic and so easy. Yet not. So few go against the grain. But when you do, you stand out. Dare to be authentic and you’ll learn to sell from the heart.

Business Development Open House

May 9th, 2012

Join us TODAY (Wednesday, May 16th) for a Business Development Open House!

Who should attend?
Are you looking to advance your career in the field of business development? Are you ready to challenge yourself in a different sales climate? If you have started to build a foundation of sales skills and relationship building and are ready for the next level of client interaction, we want to speak with you!

CBI Group is an Outside-In® recruitment solutions company — a culturally led, customer centric company that solves recruitment problems through the eyes of our customers. As a company focused on helping companies acquire the best talent fit for them, we value people and relationships and believe that happy employees = happy customers.

We are intrapreneurial. Entrepreneurs have fun at work because they make their own decisions. They are leaders. They take risks and make no excuses. At CBI Group, we are all entrepreneurial. We willingly accept new challenges and embrace learning and growth. Our Outside-In® culture means that CBI Group offers the unique opportunity to choose your own path and then blaze the trail. We need and expect that you will shape and improve the way we operate as a company. It also means we’re unprofessionally professional. So if you are flexible, direct and looking for a flat, entrepreneurial, open book company where you can inspire change, CBI Group may just be the place for you.

What is our open house all about?
We are holding a Business Development Open House all day today to help support our needs in the growing market. We’ll be holding interviews from 9AM–4PM, so if you have consultative sales experience, even just a year or two, why not consider coming out to learn more?!

If you are unavailable today for the open house, please follow the registration steps below and let us know other times that you are available!

How do I register?
Please send your resume and contact information to emulle(at)thecbigroup.com to schedule your appointment for success as soon as possible! Spaces are limited-please don’t hesitate!

Location:
CBI Group
1501 Casho Mill Road
Suite 9
Newark, DE 19711
Directions

CBI Group’s SmartCEO

May 2nd, 2012

Our very own, Chris Burkhard, was featured in May’s issue of SmartCEO, Philadelpha. This month’s issue is all about leadership and Chris was asked to comment for an article called Leadership Evolution: why CEOs’ jobs make more change than a vending machine. Other CEOs in the area also chimed in on their changing role and their future job description.

Here is what Chris had to say.

My changing role In the early days, I needed to be and do everything. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., I worked on external issues: selling our story and driving revenue. After 5 p.m., I worked on internal business and functional areas like accounting and marketing. For many years, I focused on sales first and spent most days in front of prospects and customers. I “outsourced leadership,” hiring capable managers to run our business units. Currently, I have reversed course. If it takes 10,000 hours to master leadership, I am on my way. I still run sales but have more focus on driving the priorities, rhythm and outcomes of the business.

Future job description: I was always too future-focused. There was a gap and delay between where I wanted to be and where we were in reality. Today, I focus on execution on the next 90 days and the really long term. I was taught that a CEO should do three things: teach, lead and pay close attention to the external market. I have always tried to do this, but I see my future self doing much more of this. I view my role as shepherding that process and growing our leaders. As leaders grow, so will the business.

If you want to see the whole magazine, go to www.smartceo.com and click on Philadelphia.

Workforce Realities: Advice for College Grads

May 2nd, 2012

Today’s workers have it tough. So much continues to change and there is too much new happening to fully absorb it all. For so many generations now, the western world has viewed education as the key to a better life for their kids. Education improves our quality of life, earning power and the ability to make a difference. All of us want this for our children. But there is a rude reality to all of this as of late. A college education is no longer a guarantee of anything. The numbers traditionally show that college education increases earning power over ones lifetime and also that less college graduates are unemployed than those with lesser education. But don’t ask this of recent grads.

Just this week it was announced that the number of recent college graduates unemployed or underemployed is well over 50%.
I can’t say that this statistic really shocked anybody. I am in the field of employment and my company certainly was not surprised. We all hear about high unemployment numbers on the evening news. Yes the economy is better, but there is a long, long way to go.

I was taught by a great mentor that the key to life is to make decisions with better information. See. Think. Act. Such simple words right? Try and apply them. So many times in work, life and play we don’t gather information before we act. We hope to, but we don’t know how to gather it. So instead, we simply act and shoot from the hip. Job seekers perceive any action as progress… they send resumes, surf job boards, do Internet research — feeling “good” about their job search.

So at the risk of being preachy, I have some hard-fought, earned advice for a college graduate looking to start their career and get their first real job. Perhaps the initial steps towards better information… But first, this disclaimer:

Each generation grows up heavily influenced by the events and trends of the world around us and with four generations working today? Well, let’s just say it is hard to walk in each generation’s shoes, to seek to understand other generations. While I may not know exactly what you’re going through because of these differences, bear with me.

Also, there are reasons why companies are not creating jobs for college grads. That is not your fault. However, you need to know what they are. Businesses add jobs when they can get a return on the investment, when they can grow and when the economic and political environment is more certain. So in the short-term over the next year or so the world is going to be extra competitive!

My Advice to College Graduates:

  1. This is not the first recession. Yes this is a bad one. But there is work if you are willing to work for it. Start in retail management if you have to. Think retail is below you? If you are a business school major, why not learn about hiring and firing, budgeting and customer growth in one of the few places that will give this responsibility to a grad. This is what I did.
  2. You are not owed anything. You have to work for it. Starting in an entry level job is not below you. Not even close. Your boss does not care about your debt or your life style. Starting at the bottom is where all of us have to start. The key is what happens next.
  3. Starting is the key. Once you have the entry-level job, take on the challenge. Ask for the tough project. Ask for the learn. Learn the business. Every business needs employees that are willing to grow themselves.
  4. While you just “finished” school, the learning has just begun. You and only you are responsible for bettering your skills and knowledge.
  5. Knowledge is followed by success. The more you know the more money you will make. The more your title will change. The more you will get to wherever it is you want to be. But…
  6. You can’t skip steps. In baseball, you can’t score if you miss a base. In work, you cannot be VP and drive a BMW without being of real value to a business. Risk and Reward.
  7. Take the risk and get the reward right? Well, life is not always fair. Starting a company is not easy, most fail. Working for a start-up builds great skills and will broaden your exposure. But it does not make you an entrepreneur.
  8. Your first job is not the rest of your life. The first one is like your first year of college, it is to grow up in the world of work. To learn about business, clients, culture, styles of leadership. The first job is about how to fit in and find your place. And most importantly, the first job is probably more about what you do not want to do for the rest of your working career.
  9. What you do not want to do. This is the most honest advice of all. It is up to you to fit in. The workforce won’t change for you. I know you want the world your way… working from home, time off, promotions, whatever. Work is about your ability to earn and gain influence. Your influence and trust (AND your ability to get results) get you what you want.
  10. There is a gap. And you don’t even know it yet. The gap is the space between who you are today and what you are capable of. Know that employers today long for a worker who knows this and works at it closing it.

Big words right? Are you now a college graduate that needs help? Do you know someone who is? Get them in contact with me. We will get them some help. Why? Good karma.

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