Posts Tagged: marketplace


9/11 and the Resilience of the American Worker

September 11th, 2013

911Guest blog spot by Kelly Murray, Marketing Coordinator

Twelve years ago, our country sustained a tragedy so shocking that it rattled each American citizen to their core. We will always remember where we were the morning of 9/11, and the horror we witnessed as two landmarks of international commerce fell at the hands of terrorists. Thousands of lives were claimed that day but in turn, millions of Americans were united under the strength of our nation and a vow to Never Forget those lost.

As the years go on, 9/11 etches its place into American history and its symbolism grows. I was only thirteen when the World Trade Center fell, and at the time I struggled to comprehend what this blow meant to our country on an international scale. I understood the degree of death and destruction that had occurred and felt the confusion, fear, and grief that any little girl would at the time. Years later, now a young working professional, when I look back on 9/11, I am struck by the resilience our nation had to have in order to pick up the pieces and move forward – not only emotionally, but as a political and economic entity.

When hit with unexpected hardship, whether emotional or professional, it’s difficult to maintain focus on the job and push forward. Of course, the events of 9/11 exceeded any difficulty one could have expected to endure. However, I think its important to note that as Americans, both our humanity and work ethic were tested on 9/11. The al-Qaeda chose to destroy a symbol of international trade and commerce (as well as a symbol of defense and national security, the Pentagon) that day. The burden of strength in the eyes of adversity fell on our political leaders, but also on the American worker: corporate executives, entrepreneurs, young professionals, entertainers, laborers – no profession or discipline was spared. We had to dig deep and continue working to carry each other through.

As an entrepreneur, CBI Group’s president felt this burden especially hard that day, when his company opened its doors for the first time on the morning of September 11th. And yet, he and his employees, like many, had to press on and focus on creating business, even if it felt ‘wrong’ or ‘inappropriate’ to do so during a time of such great loss. Each year at CBI Group, this day is met with a bittersweet sentiment: as a celebration of another year in business met with a solemn reminder of a national tragedy. Over a decade later, we continue to operate successfully and help businesses fill jobs, recruit employees, and develop their workforce – a reflection of the resilience of an entrepreneur and his country.

So, this article is simply a testament to the American worker, for rising up and pushing forward in times of turmoil. Since 9/11, our nation has struggled economically and suffered the impact of war, but we have pressed on. In the American spirit, our country has rebuilt (quite literally, the National September 11th Museum and Memorial opened in 2011) and reclaimed our place as an economic force.

To all those lost and affected by the tragedy of 9/11, we honor and remember you. As citizens, we will never forget what happened that day and the toll it took on our country. As workers, we will continue to push forward and keep the American Dream alive…a notion that drives the belief that in America anything is possible and anyone can find success – if they work hard enough for it.

Passion or Profit?

May 29th, 2013

For many years I thought passion was all I needed to have success with my business. It is not true. Entrepreneurship (my personal definition mind you) is the balance of organization and structure with innovation and creativity in business. Can you really be too creative? Too market driven? Is it really that wrong to innovate constantly? Many entrepreneurs love the idea of being business. They love their invention, the technology, the notion of being in charge and out on their own. And I hear it all of the time. “Love what you do and the results will follow”. Of course, there is something to loving how you spend a majority of your waking hours. If you hate it, success is possible but not sustainable for long.

I am living proof of passion over profits. For many years, I pursued growth at all cost! (I am proud to say I am reformed growth junkie today.) I misunderstood the importance of running my company for profit. To leave money in the company. What did I do? I would reinvest it. Many times before I had it in hand! I have missed the point. I thought that top line revenues mattered more than anything – and frankly our egos and pride get in the way! Growth becomes intoxicating, but profits mean choice. They give you a point of comparison in our industry or market. Are you adding value more than your competition?

So few companies make it past the first few years and I have gotten clear as to why:

1.  We don’t know our numbers. As hard as it may seem, we don’t set and run our business to make money. We pursue growth. Growth takes cash. Fast growth often chokes a company.  We spend our profits on growth.

2.  We don’t realize that profits can drive innovation and investment. Most organizations have been damaged coming out of the recession. When facing new and big business opportunities few organizations have the reserves or resources to invest in new business opportunities!

3.  Our business strategy is the walking dead. Having a company that survives each month to the next one is common for most companies in the early years. But when do you need to look at making changes? Leaders find it hard to make tough changes to a business strategy, but business is designed to be profitable and must create a fair return for stakeholders.

4. When an entrepreneur is the only stakeholder, we rationalize. Sometimes there are advantages to having other investors.  I see entrepreneurs spend their life savings to invest in their business and to keep their business and dreams alive. However, business make money eventually!

So don’t get me wrong. Passion is a part of our purpose. And our purpose is why we get out of bed every day and go to work each and every day. But passion must be balanced with profits to have something sustainable for customers, employees,  and stakeholders.

CBI Group Recruiter Sees Networking as Path to Your Next ‘Great Adventure’

May 10th, 2013

One of the most influential ways to approach a job search is through networking.  But how and why invest your time in networking?

“In 2012, networking accounted for more than one in four hires at major companies, the most of any strategy used in job hunting,” says David Vander Does, President of the National Search Advisory and a Recruitment Consultant with Gore Medical Products and CBI Group.  “And if a candidate has a referral from inside a company, he/she is 70 times more likely to be hired than a candidate without this connection,” Dave adds, referring to a finding published by Career Xroads.

So how do you network?  Where do you start and what are the tools to help you?

“Networking is all about relationship-building.  It’s who you know and who they know that can really make the difference in your search” Dave says.

The first step is to make a list of current and prospective contacts.  “Think about the relationships that you already have (family, friends, previous co-workers, etc…) and add them to your list.  Then do your research and identify others that you need to know (company contacts, business leaders, others in your profession) and add them to your list.   Think beyond the obvious, be strategic,” Dave advises.

There are lots of tools to use in building your network with www.LinkedIn.com as one of the best places to start.  “If you don’t already have a LinkedIn presence, establish one,” Dave says.  “This serves as your professional profile for recruiters, hiring managers and all the current and potential people in your network.  Think of it this way: if you don’t have a presence on LinkedIn, you don’t exist.”

Once you’re on LinkedIn, you can conduct searches by company name, industry, through current and former co-workers and through your network of LinkedIn contacts that you should be continuously growing.  Similarly, using search engines like Google can provide great insight into your field, and help you identify prospective companies and professional associations.

Dave says your next step is to divide your list of contacts into three groups: warm (people who know who you are and can give you a good reference), casual (people you may need to reconnect with) and cold contacts (people you haven’t met yet, but you need to meet). “This will help you prioritize and maximize your efforts as you begin to work your network”

Develop a database or a spreadsheet with of course names, titles, e-mail addresses, etc. but then leave a column for “Notes” where you can track of your progress with each networking target.

Now you’re ready to get out there and network. Dave says to practice these four steps with each person you meet:

1.  Make them aware that you are looking for your next “adventure”

2.  Guide their thinking about what that “adventure” could be

3.  Be confident and specific

4.  Give them permission to share your name or resume as they see fit

Dave also encourages job hunters and net-workers to develop a script and practice in your home or office.  “For most, networking can be overwhelming and frightening.  But remember, it’s really nothing more then the act of building relationships one contact at a time.  The more you do it; the easier it becomes.”  Keep these elements in mind:

1.  Intro- who am I and why am I calling or e-mailing?

2.  Your mission- I’m pursuing my next best adventure and thought you could help…

3.  Give them permission to say “no.”

4.  Provide something of value in return.

5.  The sensational close- share your plans for follow-up and ask if you can keep in touch.

“Most people will encourage you to stay in touch… do-so, you’d be surprised at how many people never get in touch with these prospects again,” Dave says.

When reaching out to a networking prospect you haven’t met, start with an e-mail introducing yourself and making a connection (Our mutual friend Sam Jones suggested I contact you; we attended xx college at the same time, I’m also a member of your professional association…). Then state your purpose and tell them when you’ll follow-up.  Then when you call, say “I’m following up on the e-mail I sent you on…this process helps to eliminate the “cold call””

Remember to say thank you. “People in jobs today are busier than ever and even if they only give you five minutes, it’s important that you acknowledge their time,” Dave points out.  “And if they help you make a good connection, let them know how grateful you are.”

And remember; always try to provide value in return.“Good relationships are not one sided; do what you can to help others in your network in return for the help they provided to you. It makes all the difference and will help to strengthen your network for the future.”

Is Your Brand Working Hard for You?

March 27th, 2013

Sales is not an easy profession. By the very nature of the role you have to be able to deal with a lot of negativity and rejection. Most buyers say no. This is simply a fact. The job requires so much hard work – busy work, really – research, preparation, meeting planning, detail follow-up with emails and phone calls, all for brief “performances” with your prospect and customer.  Sales is 99% hard work, planning and preparation, and 1% actually selling.

There is so much we can do to be better sales people.  Reading about sales and going to workshops on sales technique is a must. Being prepared and planned everyday is critical. Many sales people sometimes wing it; they count on their strengths too much, and they don’t prepare to to maximize their time. They do too little in the way of the activities that are necessary to produce the volume of output their quota probably requires!

However, I have come to grasp that sales people can’t do it alone! Your company has to work hard on your behalf.  I believe a company must work hard on its brand, and that the brand must be an honest representation of what the company stands for, whats it personality and character are like, and what promise you can make to your prospects.

This is always a brand challenge for any business. Every business has a brand.  Sometimes the brand is intentional; sometimes it is the absence of a plan. In all cases your company gives the marketplace an impression of what it is all about and what it stands for.

In my experience, I have found that being an Outside-In® company matters. Our brand is about being all about the customer. Our brand is our culture, and our culture is how we view ourselves. You can call this our overall personality! This personality is how we help our sales staff add value and clearly how we stand out in a world that is terribly the same! We are definitely not the same. However, we are not different for the sake of being different.  Our difference is because we chose to turn ourselves inside out. We are what our customers need and want us to be!

Our culture and our values? 100% a reflection of employee behaviors that will best enable each employee to be the best they can be in the unique business landscape we all operate in today. Our brand is our culture.  Our culture is our values.

Remember, good marketing helps you amplify the truth, not pitch something that you wish exists. That is the difference!

Watch our video for our truth!

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.

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.

The Top 10 Misnomers of The Entrepreneur

October 3rd, 2012

Every person wants to be one.  Every school, business group, and investor wants to find and develop them. Big business wants to find them to buy their products.  Entrepreneurs are today’s royalty.  But that is not why we do what we do.  I thought you might like to see my Top 10 Misnomers of The Entrepreneur:

1.  ”Entrepreneurs love big risk.” Actually, entrepreneurs hate risk – I swear it is true! The world thinks we live for “the big gamble”, and that we like to take chances.  But we do not.  In fact, most of us will mitigate a risk the second we get the opportunity.

2.  “Entrepreneurs are all visionaries.” We are not all visionaries. In fact, we simply work harder at gathering information about a market or customer segment.  We have better information!

3.  ”Entrepreneurs hate authority.” This is a common misconception about entrepreneurs.  Trust me, we don’t hate authority or direct supervision or even the concept of outside input. The reality is that we do want teams and opinions. We thrive on the input and insights that a team can provide.

4.  “Entrepreneurs can’t secure a job!” We can get a job – really, we can! I have heard it said that most entrepreneurs are not-for-hire and are incorrigible. I am not sure this is entirely true. Entrepreneurs see and work differently, because the work of an entrepreneur is different than most jobs. Entrepreneurs try to do it all, because they have too. As business evolves so does the entrepreneurial job. What we all want is to feel important, to be heard, to be apart of the process of improvement. To feel valued.

5.  “Entrepreneurs dislike structure and routine.” No, we like structure. We do. Sure, we may evolve away from the rigors of corporate America.  We feel “free” from the weight for a little while.  Yet, as our business ideas grow and achieve some size and scale we again become comfortable with the ideas of structure and routine.  We may say we hate it; but really we just need to evolve through the steps of organically achieving each step and level of business success.

6.  “Entrepreneurs love to work 100 hour weeks.” We do not like to work 100 hour weeks. Really we don’t.  Okay, some of us do.  However, more of us prefer to see our business operate without our involvement each and every step of the way.

7.  “The advantages and disadvantages of competitors don’t apply to entrepreneurs.”  Believe me when I say, we do have the same advantages and disadvantages of our competitors – big and small. Smaller businesses have speed and limited rules while big companies have money infrastructure, resources, and big budgets. All are advantages, all are barriers.  It is up the leadership to maximize the possibilities with whatever your resources might be.

8.  “Entrepreneurial businesses have too many limitations.”  Popular opinion suggests that small business has limits.  Not true! Small business has advantages. We are smaller, faster, have less limitations, less history, and baggage to get in the way.  New and big ideas come when there are not the barriers of what previously existed!

9.  “Entrepreneurs value vision over execution.” Some of us have learned that vision is not the same as an idea well executed.  Not all of us are dreamers.  We evolve through our experiences too.  Execution is where it is at!  Yes, you need vision, the troops want to know where we are headed.  But getting things done well make all of the real differences.

10.  “Entrepreneurs are always content.”  Don’t worry, entrepreneurs can be unhappy too. Life is not perfect for anyone. Our lives seem easy, our cars new, our houses nice to visit.  But, we have sacrificed to get where we are.  And those sacrifices will not be evident at first glance.  But we are unhappy when we compare our goals to something perfect!  Perfection comes when we learn to celebrate what we do achieve!

So those are the common misconceptions I typically encounter as an entrepreneur. Do you agree? Disagree?  Send me yours and we can post them all!

“Fancy Meeting You Here!” Discovering Unexpected Talent

August 15th, 2012

Guest blog by Lisa Van Ess, CBI Group team member

Hi Everyone! It’s me again, still hanging on to the catch phrase Talent Acquisition. Most of us, whether we are corporate or agent recruiting professionals, spend the vast majority of our time practicing “Fill-the-Open-Job” recruiting and often, in doing so, stumble across some really great talent.

Hmmm…so you stumble across a Wildly Talented Individual and don’t have the open requisition. What to do?

Those of you in the retained, engaged, and contingent search space may dust off your “Most Place-able Candidate” hats and begin to market this person to your favorite partner clients, and/or start researching companies who just might have the opportunities for this unearthed treasure. On the corporate recruiting side, do we do the same?

Many of us are still realistically dealing with an economic and employment market where approved requisitions are carefully managed, perhaps resulting in an avoidance or difficulty in marketing talent to internal or external clients when there is not a direct fit to that super-duper, triple confirmed, approved headcount detailing the exact requirements of the recruited talent.

I’ll offer some thoughts and techniques to use in any market under any hiring condition:

1. My last blog focused on determining whether or not a person can and will do an open job, so the first item of business is to offer to your hiring management how wonderfully this talented candidate will culturally and behaviorally fit with the team, company, or client.

2. Have your homework done on what exactly they can do! Can they perform a ‘hard to fill’ job that, when open, takes forever to fill but just isn’t open right at this moment? Can they do two different jobs or portions of responsibilities needed to ’round out a team’? Do they possess the specialized industry, competitive, or technical experience needed?

With these thoughts in mind, don’t pass up on the pleasant surprise of finding ‘Will Do Talent’ – in fact, plan for it! Engage, market, and explore the opportunity to make your clients and candidates even happier and even more effective!

Mastering Outside-In® Selling Habits

August 17th, 2011

This is a play on the incredible book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish. As Verne is to running a company, I hope to be to understanding sales in a customer centered selling organization.
 
Growing a company is an incredibly complicated undertaking. Growth takes a good idea where a market exists. It takes money, a leader, planning and a business strategy. Eventually it takes employees and culture. However all of these things are not enough. I have worked with many, many organizations that have all these things — yet they do not know how to sell anything. They try, they hire sales people, attempt to market and they sell some things. But they are frustrated and challenged and they struggle to figure out how to improve their selling habits.
 
I have some observations and ideas but a word of warning: words are easy, but implementation? Not so much. In the early days of any business, the business sells to everyone. Then you make more sales based on good service. If you have some customers and you treat them well, they will buy more. You can grow for a month, a quarter, or even a year by taking an existing cadre of customers and asking how else you can help. This supports the known premise that it is easier, cheaper, better, to keep a customer (and in this case grow with them) than it is to procure another.
 
But companies (your clients) decline, are bought out or outgrow you all the time. Your sales strategy, through excellent service keeps producing but not at the level you planned. You’re off forecast. Now what? This is where companies begin to add professional sales to their business model and strategy. And professional sales has a lot of complexities and selling habits to get it right:

  1. Leadership sells. They are the best in the company and compete for everything.
  2. Leadership is not ready to manage a sales force. Time, routine, planning are not in place and it takes time.
  3. Expectations are high. A sales force will come and go. But high activity targets for calls and meetings often create real frustration.
  4. Sales forecasts are unrealistic. The company expects the sales person to hit a revenue target very quickly. And they have too. There is no other way to justify the return on the payroll.
  5. Marketing role — do you have the tools and resources necessary to support sales?
  6. Poor targeting and lead generation — imagine starting off with the wrong potential targets for your service and all of your sales efforts over weeks, months, even years are directed to the wrong people? Happens everywhere…
  7. Lack of respect for defining a sales operating philosophy. How will you differentiate? Just go make more sales calls is the mantra!
  8. The natural tension between sales and service. We are different types. Yes, we are one team, it just takes time and effort for a team to find its way.
  9. Speaking of team and balance, it is difficult to shift from a service company, to one with a sales voice.
  10. Hire and ignore. Entrepreneurs do this everyday in areas of their business they don’t understand with no no source for training and little regard for knowledge building.
  11. Sales pipeline is often confused with sales wins.
  12. CRM: selling without a CRM means there is no process for managing prospect interactions. Selling with one means there are a lot of rules and administration to establish and keep up with.


We understand each complexity on its own, but the true complexity is that they all must run as one. To grow, formalizing sales and marketing is a reality. And it is habit of Outside-In® companies.
 

Mr. Big, Gigantic Job!

April 27th, 2011


Hello, I am Mr. Big, Gigantic Job. I lack definition but certainly not meaning or impact. I am not a number unlike the little, tiny job. I can be whatever I need and want to be. I am fast-paced, hands on and thrive on change. Being flexible, adaptable and receptive to customers’ input can do that to you.
 
I drive the economy. I am created at a ratio of two to one compared to my friend, the little, tiny job. I am sought after for my depth and breadth. I live to evolve, learn and get more done! I am constantly challenged and a bit overworked but I love what I do because I do meaningful work and have real impact. I interact with customers and collaborate with colleagues. I have a sense of how my company adds value in the marketplace and makes money. And I can see the value I create and how it affects the big picture.
 
A pin from an employee empowering campaign at Placers, where I started off my career in the staffing industry. I am great for careers. If you are like me, you get exposure and experience at an accelerated pace compared to most work environments. You can try new things and work on teams where you learn from others and teach them too. I grow and improve as I learn more each day. I am proof that your title and chair do not need to change to get more experience, responsibility, new challenge or even a pay increase! For me, the rewards and recognition come in many forms. Most importantly, I am empowered. I am my company. I would not have it any other way.
 
But there are risks right? Sure, about the same as the little, tiny job. You and you alone are responsible for your career at this point. Gone are the days where the little, tiny job starts in the mail room and goes thirty years and gets the gold watch. All businesses succeed and fail, so you must build your assets! Today, you must move laterally and focus on learning and knowledge. That is what I am all about!
 
Who am I? I am a job in an entrepreneurial company. I exist in thousands of fast growth business’s throughout the marketplace. Yes, I can be unstructured but the facts don’t lie. I can grow people. And I provide opportunities in spades. I am the Big, Gigantic Job.
 
Thanks for letting us have some fun and I hope you enjoyed our short stories! CBI Group is one of those companies with Gigantic Jobs! In your company, do you have tiny little jobs or big gigantic jobs?
 

When flat is not enough!

April 20th, 2010

I espouse the virtues of encouraging the heart of each employee and asking them frequently what they have learned about the marketplace and their customers. Today this is even more paramount as leaders have such a limited supply of time. Leaders do not have the luxury of simply planning and strategizing any longer.

Leaders have had middle management and supervisory roles stripped out of their organizations to stay lean and lower costs. Also, because those roles were often not creating as much value as needed to exist in the business! The consequence is that leaders are doing and producing more. Sales Managers are selling. Operational Leaders are helping in more hands on way. Never has there been more of a need for Leaders to encourage staff to “think like owners” and to help you collaborate on simple and complex problems and opportunities in the business. Stripping out the layers is not enough!

This makes me think of a new television show, where CEOs of big organizations get out from behind the desk and go “experience” their organizations first hand by performing many difficult front line jobs. Many of the CEOs can’t meet the very performance standards they set. Perhaps more leaders should “get out from behind their desk” and lead and work side by side with their staff to find out what is really going on. And of course, to learn what they need to learn to make their organizations a better place for employees and customers alike.

What strikes me as funny is the reaction of the managers who have to hear the report from the Boss after he/she has been out in the field. It is a difficult thing to hear when you supported ideas that don’t work in the field and that leadership is difficult today. Sort of “Darned if you do” and you know the rest… Makes me think that these organizations have too many layers!

Have you asked for help from your staff today? You are producing and doing more. Are you leveraging your team for strategic input? Start that dialogue today!

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