Posts Tagged: Business Development

How to Implement Proven Push and Pull Job Search Strategies

August 11th, 2017

Marketing experts use proven pull and pull strategies to obtain traffic and generate leads for their clients. Since a job search is essentially a personal marketing campaign, it makes sense to utilize these same strategies to get hired.

Push strategies primarily operate through promotion. Pull strategies build up demand and notability through organic growth means. Here are some examples of each.

Push Strategy – Cast a Wide Net

When job seeking, you wouldn’t just answer one ad and sit back and wait for the phone to ring, right? Why not increase your chances of getting an interview by casting as wide a net as possible? Send your resume to as many potential employers as reasonably possible. Those who offer you an interview but don’t hire you at least provide plenty of interview practice. Eventually, one of those interviews will pay off if you interview enough.

Pull Strategy – Become a Thought Leader

Thought leaders get offers coming to them, not the other way around. To become a thought leader in your field, amp up the use of your LinkedIn account. Publish thoughtful and insightful articles about your industry. Pursue higher up and lateral connections to establish a wide following. Update your membership to the paid, professional level.

Push Strategy – Volunteer

When you volunteer, you demonstrate that you have a generous nature. But you also have a unique opportunity to demonstrate your skills to those who matter, in a live environment. That’s an opportunity that is rare and valuable. Pursue volunteer gigs in organizations that mirror your career goals. Chances are, you’ll either impress your supervisors and garner a job offer, or make a valuable connection that will lead to employment in your chosen field.

Pull Strategy – Make Yourself in Demand

The classic “supply/demand” rule applies to job search campaigns as well. Turn yourself into a demanded commodity by acquiring as many awards, certifications, and achievements as possible. Make yourself one of the few candidates who has every possible advantage as far as education and awards. Potential employers will seek you out and be willing to reward you handsomely for your skills.

Push Strategy – Approach Recruiters

Recruiters often have the inside scoop of job openings before they’re made public. Increasingly, larger companies are hiring recruiters to find viable candidates for specialized jobs. These recruiters then present suitable candidates to the company’s regular HR department. Essentially it’s a way to filter candidates via an outside party in order to expedite the interview process. A little-known fact is that you don’t have to wait for recruiters to find you. You can register with one or multiple recruiters so that when a new job opening pops up, you’ll be automatically on the list of potential candidates, depending on your skills, experience, and education. This process is free and well worth the little extra time needed to “pre-register.”

For best—and fastest—results, simultaneously implement a combination of this proven push and pull strategies in your job search campaign. You’ll find that results come quickly when you’ve mastered these techniques.

Time Has Come Today!

July 9th, 2014

Whenever I approach my business development day I often feel like I can hear the old Chambers Brothers song in my head with “Time Has Come Today” echoing and reverberating around my office! Time!!!! Time!!!! Time!!! There seems like there is never ever enough of it for doing sales the right way. The song is eleven minutes long by the way—about as much time as it takes to really plan your sales day!

ID-100248281So for you time-pressured folks with sales responsibilities here are my greatest hits:

  • Focus on the right target customers. You may like certain customers and enjoy the conversations. We all have legacy and long-term customers that we are friendly with. The key is to focus on the right type of prospect and to define it.  
  • Have the right service or products to offer. Many small businesses start selling and servicing to anyone that will buy. This pays the bills and keeps the lights on. However, very quickly an organization needs to make a strategic decision with its resources and focus on selling the right size products and services. If your customers buy too little your costs of sales rises too high!
  • Don’t quit on your pipeline. Too many times sales professionals stop following up on leads and prospects. Social media is riddled with articles and blogs on this topic alone. However, we still stop too early. It takes 6 to 10 attempts to make something happen. Too many sales professionals stop after 1 or 2. Is it mental approach or organizational skills? Either way, time is the enemy!
  • Have a plan. Block your time. Be organized and know what you’re doing before you start. Do your research in organized times. When you’re making calls and sending notes do it in blocks. MOST block their time but do not prepare their work!
  • Create balance. Why do some people hit quota and most don’t? Some of it is about how you spend your valuable time. Do you make the extra call or do the extra work? Do you think long term and invest in key relationships? Do you add value to the people you meet and network with? It took me 20 years to become an overnight success! Get it? If you think about today’s or this month’s quota you may win for a month or two—but not in the long run. Sales is a balance of short and long term with activities, with your pipeline and size deals, and in your overall mindset!

Now the time has come! There’s no place to run! Time! Time! Time!

Seasons: The Ultimate Agent of Change

March 26th, 2014

Spring is finally here. The temperature and my yard still look like winter; however, we can count on seasonal change. Ironically, we tend to look forward to this change. This winter is easy to forget as we all long for the warm sun and time outside! When the heat of Summer rolls in we will long for cool breezes and crisp Fall days! We accept these changes and embrace them. Why do we not accept other changes?

agent-badgeWith today’s world evolving and shifting right before us, I know most employees struggle with the notion of being an agent of change. Sometimes we all long for normalcy, safety, and just a little status quo. We find comfort in routine and the familiar. However, this is not really the way the world of work stays for long. I believe today’s worker has begun to romanticize the notion of being an agent of change. We all want to believe that we will be the ones that smile in the face of adversity, that take the bad news head on, that are willing to do whatever is asked of in order to live this value. Though truth be told, change is hard. We might have to give up tasks and duties we like and that give us energy. We might even have to take on new tasks that are brand new and unfamiliar, that we might struggle to grasp and master. As employees we might even do things we are not good at and never, ever saw ourselves doing. And when faced with change in reality your response can be very different than perhaps you want or even planned. Reactions to change are personal, unique, and ultimately up to the individual.

I have lived this first hand. Entrepreneurial founders face many crossroads and business challenges. During the “great recession” I found myself cleaning our offices on the weekends. I was also thrust back into leading, selling, and managing in a way I did not have to do for many years. We always have a choice with change. I actually fought it for too long. I ignored the recession, reacted slowly, we kept fighting, but we were not embracing the real realities of the new economy and its impact on our services and the marketplace.

Our goal at the Outside-In® Companies with change? To teach, discuss, equip, lead, educate, and work on our knowledge of the topic of change. We make it a value to remind us of our desire to be change-makers. We want our customers to envy our adaptive and flexible mindset. We want it to be an edge that we use daily to take advantage of business opportunities. And as a feature in working with us that provides our customers a one of a kind benefit. We find that our customers need to drive change and it is very hard work, but a partner that lives, breathes, and eats change seems to make their transition easier and less painful!

To be a true agent you must do more than be willing to be adaptive in your job and to the role you play in your company.  A true change agent seeks to understand why change is absolutely necessary to begin with.  Change is not just happening to you; change is constant for a business.  A business and its leaders must be making adjustments at all times, balancing goals with results, the external marketplace with internal resources, etc.  A company with a real advantage has to do less work convincing and influencing staff why change is necessary.  And gets to spend more time being productive!

Why are You Building Your Business?

January 16th, 2014

In my entrepreneurial circles I often hear discussion and debate around why a business exists. Although a business exists to solve a customer problem or to create value for its shareholders, that is not the point I am trying to get at. Why did you start your business to begin with?

Last week when I got my own business card from Houston Printing Services, it made me wonder how many people use this form of marketing and how many of those business entrepreneurs truly started a business due to their own passion for it. So I went online and found that, many owners find themselves accidental entrepreneurs. Perhaps their business was a family business that they took over from a friend or other family member. Sometimes, believe it or not, people literally stumble into their companies. The entrepreneur is good at something and people are willing to pay them for that product or service. Before they know it they have a business that is failing, growing, or something in between.

site-196210_640I am often asked for advice on starting companies. The questions are practical and tangible. Where should I put the business? What do I call it? How do we test this product or service? Is there a market for it? Can we build a business to scale and profit around the concept? These are all wonderful, classic MBA book type questions. They have their place. You simply can’t start with them.

I ask all entrepreneurs to start with the question, What is the purpose of this business? In other words, why does it exist for you as its founder (and most likely first investor). At the very least, it is your credit card and sweat equity that gets it started, right?

Most people start their business because they have decided to make a change from their past.  They have chosen to be a small business owner to fulfill a dream, perhaps to avoid working in big business again, or often with dreams of becoming rich beyond their wildest dreams.

I take people through the following questions to get at a different starting point. Why do you need this business to exist?

  • Are you building this business to draw from it and then it might simply end? In other words, is this a cottage business that pays the bills but has nothing to transfer to someone else in the form of a sale?
  • Are you building something you want to be a legacy? Do you have family or others in your life that you want to pass on this potential wealth-creating vehicle too? I know you just got this idea to start a business and I am talking about its ending. Without this thinking, I see long term frustration and confusion. Too many small business owners get trapped in a company that does not serve their long-term needs.
  • billboard-63978_640Are you trying to flip this business? Is your goal to build it like an internet company and sell it and walk away? Do you want to grow this and get early-stage seed money? Do you intend to work with VC’s to grow to the point where you want to take private equity monies? Since 4% of companies get above 1 mm in sales this might seem like a tall order. You must stop and think about this sort of thing. In this path, founders lose control of their business and they give up ownership. This “takes chips off the table” as they say, however, you still lose control of the strategy of the business and its direction.
  • Are you building this to sell? Do you have a date circled on the calendar? Don’t laugh, I did. I had a 9 year plan. Well, guess what? I am in year 13, soon to be 14! Sometimes wanting to build something of value and selling it is not what you think you want.

This gets me to my main point: If you’re thinking of building your business to sell—stop and think. A favorite entrepreneurial friend challenged me a few years ago, “Chris, if you like your company and its culture, and it’s providing a valuable service for customers and meaningful work for employees, why do you think you need to sell it? It seems like you spent all of this time to get it to where you are and where you want to take it?”

I sense Rob was right. We all read the same articles and learn the same best practices in business. Sometimes staying put and enjoying the ride is the only and best option.

Use these questions to test why your idea or existing business might exist. I would love to hear from you with your thoughts!

5 Ways to Lower the Cost of Sales

October 23rd, 2013

One of the largest line item expenses in any business is the cost of acquiring customers. In this new world economy of the last 5+ years, I dare say that this is more expensive than ever. If your objective is to do business with large, Fortune 5000 organizations, your business can expect to invest as much as 1-3 years of time building relationships, meeting procurement, waiting for open bidding periods, or in responding to RFI’s and RFP’s. The bigger they are, the longer they take, the more resources they absorb, and the more likely you may not meet all of their business requirements.

man-96587_640So how do you choose the organizations that you would like to do business with? The Fortune names are well known, their information is public, and their brand is prominent in the market you serve—but they take forever. Most of your competitors know this too. So trends suggest that your competitors are targeting mid-market organizations. They lack the sophistication and bureaucracy of the large companies, right? This may be true, but they are hard to identify in the market. And I can assure that the 800 pound gorilla competitor you fear also has learned that growth comes easier if you avoid the big companies!

Perhaps your organization is using the “shotgun approach” and is going to sell to every business in your marketplace large and small regardless of industry or uniqueness. You are selling to all equally. This is labor intensive which makes it expensive, but this is a way from the early days to find your fit in the marketplace. The key is to use this time that you go to market to gather customer insights through consultative questions and your observations.

Every business needs new sales to stay relevant and to even stay status quo. Therefore, selling and marketing is always important. How else can we sell more to lower the cost of sales?

  1. If you’re a startup or if you’re launching new offerings, I encourage your leadership and business development staff to talk to many industries, different size organizations, and organizations with varied culture and philosophies. Being Outside-In® and asking for target insights is “doing right things” in finding your ideal target market! Just make sure you pull together and refine your market as you get the insights you need.
  2. Analyze your business and its brand promise. This is quite challenging to undertake, but what exactly do you do better than your competition? What is unique to your company? Our family of Outside-In® companies has invested heavily in this process and have had great success. Be ready to uncover areas that you must improve in your business in order to make the most of what you do best! This is the ultimate way to refine your message, improve your services, and determine your choice customer.
  3. What does culture have to do with it? In the New York Times Best Seller, Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win, each chapter covers a company that has maverick leadership and is culturally led. Culture is a strong differentiator and very hard to copy by competitors. Yet it gives customers and employees a clear answer to the “why” question. You know the why question, right? Why do we exist? This gives your company a clear purpose for being and binds all three customers together. Each want to be a part of something bigger than themselves!
  4. Grow your existing customers. This seems so obvious but I see companies get out of balance and put more efforts into new customers than existing ones. Take cell phone companies for example. Listen to those great offers and ads and then at the end they point out they are just for new clients—so much for being a 10-year customer!
  5. search-13476_640Understand how the world of digital marketing has forever altered the nature of the relationship you can have with your customer and targets. Today’s buyer wants to buy, never be “sold to.” And they can research and get the information on you they need from websites, blogs, forums, reviews or social media—that is if you have them. Good marketing is not cheap, nor free. Embrace this reality. If you or someone in your company calls a new target, what do you think they will do if they are a little curious or perhaps even interested in learning more? Do they call you or your employee back right away? I bet not. They will look you up. The prospect may go to your website and maybe they will connect from there. So be certain to make sure that your digital presence represents you and your company because in true Outside-In® fashion sales starts today with your online story.

Sales Strategy + Values Philosophy = Consultative Success

August 28th, 2013

BlankSheetofPaperAs a values-based recruitment services company, our value called Blank Sheet of Paper is what we believe is our biggest differentiator with all of our customers and prospects. Hold up a blank sheet of paper. Obviously, there is nothing on it. So what does this have to do with customers and prospects? From a sales perspective, this means that we do not go into our dialogue and discussion with pre-built solutions or a preconceived notion of how we are going to help. Instead, we start with a blank slate – or in our case, a blank sheet. There are legendary stories in business where an international consulting company sends a “custom solution” to their customer however it has the logo of a competitors on the cover page!  So much for a blank sheet of paper!

The challenges to this concept are many. So many companies use the comparison or the notion of Mission Statement. The Mission is on the wall, or above each door jam, or in the annual report, but the actions and values of the company look nothing like it! There is no alignment or resemblance to the word. The gap is huge! Many use ‘consultative’ or ‘solutions-based’ selling as their catch phrase so many times that the words mean little and become contrived. When you really do it though, customers see and experience the difference.

My goal is to make sure that we live a Blank Sheet of Paper sales philosophy and to demonstrate its value. Knowing what questions to ask matter. Getting to the root of the customer challenge or opportunity is what everyone really wants right? What customers want is an HR consulting service that works and that is going to address the problem. Going at it with options and ideas is wonderful, but lets be clear: this is really about doing a better job for your customer! And the best way to do that? Show your customer how and what you do can make their HR recruiting world better.

Let them know you listened. Tie what you do to the problem at hand. That is what Blank Sheet of Paper is all about. Find the problem and address the problem uniquely through your service offerings!

The First 30 Seconds

May 1st, 2013

At our company we examine every customer interaction and decide how we could take that experience as far as we can. We call this our Service to the Nth degree value. Can we take every moment of interaction to an extreme? How could we make it better for that person? For example, how can we answer a phone call with Nth degree thinking? Try getting to the caller quickly and eliminating voice mail. Or perhaps, always answer in three rings – or better yet, two. (Maybe even one!) Why keep that customer waiting? Create the best Outside-In experience you can.

However, today’s blog is about extending that service impression to the process of sales. In fact to put a fine point to it, for those of us that have to introduce ourselves and our companies to prospects, this is about the first 30 seconds of an interaction! Sales people struggle with the first introduction. Most of us spend hours preparing and researching our target. We know about their last annual report, we have read the press releases, we know about our competitors. My guess is that you’re loaded up with marketing materials. You have brochures, white papers, and case studies coming out of your ears.

So what do you need to focus on during the first 30 seconds? First off, your words.

1.  Be crystal clear with your purpose.  Sales people of the world… face it – we’re not crystal clear with our purpose in the first 30 seconds! We wander in these early conversations. We try to connect and “build relationships”. We try to impress with our knowledge of our offerings. We ask for the “order” when our prospect barely knows us. Be direct without being pushy. Be authentic.

2.  Don’t ask for a relationship right out of the gate. It is weird to ask to build a relationship in the first call. It did not work in the hallways of high school, and it is just as well, creepy when selling. This is just too much of a leap of faith for an audience that really is still paying attention to their email or the project they were working on when you called them and interrupted them.

3.  Differentiate yourself. Oftentimes, we act like and conduct business like everyone else. You could insert any product into your introduction and you would sound like the other ten voice mail messages your prospect deleted this week. Make yourself stand out. Think about how your company differentiates itself and how you can communicate it. Don’t let your introduction be “one size fits all”.

4.  Make sure to speak in terms of customer benefit.  As sales people, if we’re not careful our opening conversation sounds something like this to our prospect, “I am Chris Burkhard, I work for my company, I am interested in getting to know you so I can sell you my product so that I can meet my monthly quota, because I am falling behind on my bills, and I really need this sale now, you see.  Truth is, I need a a quick hit to stay on track, and keep my sales manager off my back.” Does your introduction sound like me, me, me?  It is subtle but true.  Until we learn to speak in an Outside-In way and in terms of the customers benefit, we will always sound selfish. Who wants to build a relationship, ever, with someone that is all about themselves?

Sales people of the world, if you’re on plan then you can ignore me.  If you’re falling behind, I bet I know why, and I have the answer – it starts with your first 30 seconds.  How good are you and your company at first impressions?

Know Yourself, Know Your Sales

February 6th, 2013

I think it is incredibly challenging to have true awareness as a sales person.  Things like ego, attitude, and personal life can get in the way of  having true awareness in sales. We need to be aware of other people and frankly we need to be aware for others in sales.  This awareness is about understanding what prospects want and what this selling situation might require.  This is about intuition.  This is about knowing yourself. This is about knowing your products and services.  And this is about having the interpersonal skills to observe and respond to your audience’s many verbal, non-verbal, and other environmental cues that happen in every interaction.  Even if you have these things, many lack the self-confidence and trust required to go in a different direction if it warrants it.  We march forward on sticking with the plan; and we wonder why we are not closing deals or meeting our quotas.  It all comes down to awareness.

Having true awareness puts your focus in selling on the true needs of your audience.  But it is more than simply identifying needs.  Sales people have been doing fact finding for needs for decades!  I am talking about being so good at what you do that your entire focus can be on your audience.  We sell with our external needs in mind.  Goals, sales, finances, reports to be turned in.  And it shows.  Not directly of course.  This comes out in meetings that turn into next steps.  Phone calls and emails that do not get responses.  Sometimes, some sales people march blindly forward with “their” agenda.  Their needs and wants take center stage.  But their reception can be blocked by lack of awareness of their surroundings and what is actually happening in the moment.We simply cannot get out of our own way to be truly aware.

Spending money you don’t have isn’t always off-limits, which is why things like small business loans and investors exist. But in any case, you should always know how much cash you have available, how and when you’re planning to spend it, and where you might run into issues.

Whether you’re planning out how you’ll spend a loan or how you’ll spend your monthly operating expenses budget, getting a handle on your cash flow is something you need to do before you make any big investment decisions, have you tried diversifying your investments? try contacting Gainesville Coins to increase your finances and learn about a new market. That way, you won’t end up without enough money to cover your next inventory order because you took a big swing and overspent.

When it comes to awareness, there’s something to be said for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Maslow’s Heirarchy is a part of the Theory of Human Motivation, proposed by psychologist Abraham Maslow. It represents Maslow’s proposed pattern that human motivations and curiosities generally move through, that humans need to fulfill their basic, fundamental needs (food, water, shelter) before they can move on to higher level needs (self-actualization).

Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs, interpreted by graphic designer and creative guru Stefan Sagmeister:

The Happiness Hierarchy by Stefan Sagmeister

In sales, employees face issues that impact their well-being around basic needs like a roof over their head, money to pay bills,  food in the fridge, etc. and  this makes it extra challenging to be aware and to be “self actualized”.  This is where the rubber meets the road as they say.  All of us have issues and challenges.  Some of us work through them and can work on our awareness.  Others, must work on it.  But take it from an entrepreneur that has boot strapped a start-up company more than a few times.  Some of us can handle the pressure and the issues and compartmentalize them and be aware.  Some cannot.

If this notion of sales person awareness is not clicking for you than think about how you might prepare for an upcoming meeting with a prospect.  Are you so focused on your monthly targets and your need for income?  Is your Sales Leader coming with you on this appointment and this requires more and different levels of preparation and performance?  Or perhaps you simply have issues at home, the car broke down, or your children are not doing well in school.  All of these things combine to make it hard for us to get to the spot where we can do our jobs.  We carry this burden around like a mask we might wear and hide behind, and it occupies our every moment.  These internal thoughts block our thinking and prevent us from even thinking about being aware of the prospects we are meeting!

My advice?  Make sure you know yourself.  Don’t meet prospects when you know you can’t shed your internal focus. Be present. The key is to know yourself, so that you can know your sales. Once you know your strengths, your weaknesses, and your boundaries you’ll be able to really build that outward awareness that is invaluable to a sales person.

Customers Aren’t Sold, They Buy!

November 21st, 2012

I am feeling giddy these days.  This is the time of year to count our blessings and to give thanks for all that we have around us.  I am blessed with friends and family, my health, and a company full of employees, partners, and customers that work together in relative harmony.  Business is good.  The harder we work, the luckier we get.  Now that the barn fell down we can see the moon. When I go slow I go fast.  These are all my favorite Burkhardisms that I use to explain our winning formula.  Regardless, we just try to get a little better as individuals, as teams, as functions, as departments, and across our three companies. Alas, this blog is about selling or as I would say, customer’s buying habits, so let’s get into it.

First off, I would like to address the behavior of those that sell and serve a customer base.  What is your language like as you talk sales in your company?  Do you “stalk” your targets?  Do you find an “angle” to create conversation?  Do you talk about your “pitch” or work on your “ four corner” or “Ben Franklin” close?   I would challenge our choice of words as sales people.  A mark of a successful salesperson is how they act when the customer is not watching!  We need to learn to be authentic, to rid ourselves of stereotypes, and bad one liners.  You know what I mean, too.  Reflect on your last sales meeting internally.  Just how much of  your conversation could a prospect or current customer listen too without making you cringe or be embarrassed.  I listen for inside-out behavior all the time.  That is a leader’s job.  Words matter.  Values matter.  How we act and behave inside our company is hard to hide once we enter our customers place of business. I feel proud of myself that I can use many tips from keynote speakers (read more here) at numerous trainings I have visited.

Why do you ask those questions so early in the meeting?  Prospects hate you for it.  They don’t throw you out because they don’t know how to do it fast.  But they do wince on the inside when they hear them.  Those stupid, early qualifying questions leave their scars.  And you know that you know better.  But, you do it anyway.  You can’t help yourself.  This meeting was so hard to get.  You need to qualify to know how much time to invest in this relationship right?  You have a target to hit. Your so busy with activities.  And networking. And meetings.  You have forgotten something paramount to your success.  You may be likeable.  Your company may be impressive.  Your service might even be something that the prospect needs.

Salespeople are, in general, so shortsighted and have so much urgency, that they simply can’t slow down and think.  We are like three year old’s that want a cookie.  We can’t delay gratification to do things right.  DOING THINGS RIGHT means that you cannot ask any question of your prospect that is only in your best interest.  Try this Litmus test.  Think about why it is of value for your audience to answer your question.  My guess is this:  your question is a fine question.  The problem is when you choose to ask it.

Prospects want to buy, they do NOT want to be sold.

A Winning Culture, Where does it Come From? The Accumulation Effect.

September 19th, 2012

When does a team start to believe in itself? When can leaders know they have something special building? When do the values, strategies, and every day actions start to become visible to employees so that they get it and just know the right things are being done and that progress is being made? I have been doing a lot of thinking about what it takes to create a winning culture. I am certain of only one thing: Winning and culture are earned.  There are no shortcuts, no cultural “easy buttons” to press.  Winning and culture are not overnight, instant successes.

So does it happen after the first big win?  Is it when individuals get recognition and reward for a job well done?  Or is it when there is visible momentum that the outside world starts to take notice? Winning is such a personal thing. Winning is about interpretation.  What is winning to one is failure to another.  Winning is all in the eyes of the beholder and is about expectations. Winning can be a feeling, an instinct, an observation of a continual pile of decisions made, and results accomplished.

Personally, I have had teams and employees believe in me. I’ve have also had teams lose faith.  So much goes into a business, a sports team, or a volunteer organization that is out of the control of the leader right?  If you led anything through the last recession, trust me, you saw and experienced the impact.  A good economy covers up so many mistakes.  A bad one exposes every flaw, scratch, imperfection, and amplifies their impact!

But there is a formula to winning through culture, at least mine:

  • Humble, Honest, Authentic leadership is irreplaceable.  I make mistakes, I forget things.  But I maintain trust by communicating and sharing everything all of the time.  I find employees, players, volunteers all appreciate being treated as equals. I hope I don’t come off as arrogant here; so many don’t view leading as their primary job and it should be.  Lead with your values in mind.  Use those values to guide reward, recognition, and as a means of addressing needed changes!
  • Speaking of Values, hire against them.  If your company is informal, relaxed and not hierarchical than make sure you have folks that fit.  We are entrepreneurial, our companies focus on the customer, that is our brand promise.  But we don’t care about the corporate uniform.  I look for positive, half-full (players, employees, volunteers) who believe in and naturally follow our values.  I find they come to us seeking a place to be their natural best. That other places have felt incongruent and out of sync.  That the values act as guide lines for conduct and decision making – they don’t really need their boss!
  • You have to be Outside-In®.  For me, that is studying how to get better every day, all of the time. This is learning from competition and others.  I like to think this is about reducing hassles in the business.  The customer point of view is critical here.  However, the key is setting a cultural expectation around getting better.  This might seem strange; however, I have seen so many cultures that prefer no change.  “We like things the way we are” is the mantra and leadership allows it, prefers it even, because there is always something to risk if you change. Empower. Encourage the heart. Unleash your teams on the problems and learning opportunities. The key is to get better all of the time.  This takes time, let it work to your advantage.  Each day, little wins and small gains accumulate and become a real advantage.
  • Have an accountable culture. Care about getting things done.  This is so much harder than the words. We must teach and model the right skills and behaviors.  As leaders, we have to show people how to do things.  And stick with the basics!  Be careful about adding new ideas, strategies, and initiatives to the agenda until you master what you were working on.  Do the basics really well, and than you can add complexity to the mix.  Choose your priorities carefully.  Work on them, get them finished.  Watch the impact on things if you chose the right ones! They will help your winning culture.

If you ask me, a winning culture comes from The Accumulation Effect.  In business development, results can come from working on selling and meeting people over time. In other words, you let the benefit of time work for you. Build your portfolio of marketplace relationships and if carefully cultivated, your sales and rainmaking will come.  Of course this is assuming that you are in a winning culture!

So, for a company or sports team to have a winning culture you have to have consistent leadership and you need to do it for a while. You have to have the right people.  So hire them to your values! You better have values that are compelling to all stakeholders. You need to have a good overall plan that makes sense, allows for, and encourages continual tweaking and adjustments.

It is important to keep in mind that you will need to work on the right things and get them right!  Be sure you don’t move on until you get them right. Do the basics right before you get complex. This is much harder (and a less interesting path.) Finally, if you do this long enough and you do it the right way you will get ahead a little at time. Your team or company will be working on problems and challenges that are well-ahead of your competition.  You will be ahead of the game in the most basics of ways and this is a competitive advantage that can’t be bought – only earned!

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