February 2013 Archives

How often have you heard of an individual or company achieves success without accomplishing a single stated goal? Typically, it is the other way around; no goal achievement equals no success. Consider the philosophy of fewer goals yield greater success, in other words less is more.

The following is a brief outline of what I use during executive or team leadership training.

3-year picture: What does it look like? Simply, what does the individual, or organization look like in 3 years? This is not a 25-page strategic plan document; it is the visual "day dream". What does the future revenue look like, how many locations do you see, how many employees do you want etc. The visual 3-year picture does need to be written down.

Now make a list of all the issues that stand between you and the 3-year picture. Get them ALL out in the open.

1-year plan: now that the picture is in place, write down no more than 6 issues from the list that must be resolved over the next 12 months that move you or your organization towards the 3-year picture. No more than 6, remember we are achieving with "less is more".

90 days: From your one-year plan, build a 90-day world.

From the issues selected, select no more than 3 or 5 that must be resolved over the next 90 days (your true GOALS are now established). Once goals have been established for the 90 days you CAN NOT add additional "something came up goals". Just as important, you cannot add a new goal once one is accomplished.

Give you and your team the feeling of accomplishment. Do not be discouraged if a goal is not accomplished over the next 90 days, it just rolls to the next.

Repeat this process over the next 12 months and watch you or your organization take off!

To your continued success...of your choice.

Hello, my name is Andrew and I am a principal of Synergy Sales & Marketing (an outsourced, more results based executive sales and marketing leadership team) and I have a confession to make...

I am a failure.

In fact, I am the CFO - the Chief FAILURE Officer for many corporations around the world!  

Seriously, I am.

Rewarded more for the results rather than the services my firm provides and time it takes to render them, we have an extraordinary high tolerance for failure.  A tolerance that over the years has enabled us to look at the very concept of failure in a different way.  A way that has taught us a whole new truth.  A truth that at first seemed implausible.

For those who are not in the sales and marketing profession, you should know that our profession is riddled with failure.  In fact, it is more about failure than success.  This is an indisputable fact. For example, well done direct mail campaigns yield a 3% conversion, social media advertising, less than 1/2 of 1%, sales, dozens maybe even hundreds of no's before you get your first yes.  

Also, very often (an no matter how talented your marketing team is) website messaging is notoriously never right the first time or the second or the third... not resonating with its hyper-specific audience and buyers.

So, if this is the case, then why is every consultant, every book, every coach, every sales and marketing pro focused solely on how to do things the right way?  Why are they all instructing us how failure is averted even though that "right way" still statistically yields a terrible result?

Well, something amazing happened.  Or, should I say, I allowed it to happen.  By allowing myself to have this intimate relationship with failure for over 10 years now, through the good times and the bad, I came to realize something.  Something of paramount importance.  Something that will cause you to at least pivot and very likely make a completely shift.

In the never ending process of always trying to "figure it out" I realized that predominance of our best solutions, our largest paydays came from those lessons in failure.  I learned that:

  • the faster and more frequently we failed,
  • the better we emotionally detached from those failures,
  • the better able to objectively observe the process of what failure could provide (give back), and,
  • the faster and more frequently the solutions came to us.
  • the fast solutions came, the faster the incremental, measurable results.

Ultimately what I observed is that failing, failing fast and failing often helped us find a way to significantly improve upon the present statistical paradigms.  Most importantly, I realized that failure is not only a good thing, but if you can actually change how you (and everyone around you) feels about failure and control that process, the reward is almost limitless.

At Synergy, we change not only how our clients look at failure but how they FEEL about it.  Leading by example we not only interrupt the corporate culture, we change how they all collectively feel about failure.  And, what that new feeling engenders (spread person by person, task by task) is a collective willingness to fail.  

A change in cultural behavior that renders the collective:

  • Smarter than most,
  • Faster than most, and
  • Better than most.

Through massive yet compressed (expeditious) failure, our clients know better than anyone in their space how NOT to do it.  They also know however, better than anyone else, how TO do it.  How to figure it out faster; find that sweet spot faster.  Succeed faster!

Success today, or scaled conversion as I like to call it (aka getting customers to buy in mass) has really become less about the practice of "here's how" and more about the science of "here's how NOT to".  The science of allowing measured, controlled failure to reveal key learnings that ultimately allow for rapid and advanced solutions, adaptation and evolution.  And by fundamentally changing how we all feel about failure... now that's where the real magic happens!

So yes, I am now a failure scientist.  I like to call it that because I really am a former (environmental) scientist... a university adjunct professor in fact.  I am, and always will be... a recovering geek!  A recovering geek who realized that his talent was never actually doing the science but communicating it.  Taking difficult subject matter and making it more easily digestible for people to understand and BUY!

I realized this because I started landing huge clients for the firm for which I was last employed many years ago.  Then I landed MANY huge clients.  It was at that time when I knew my calling was of all things, not science, but sales!

Now, I am a business man.  An entrepreneur.  A chief sales officer.  And yes, the geek in me will tell you, a failure scientist.  Sales and marketing departments are now my laboratory.  Companies, leaders, hire me, hire us to figure it out.  To actually figure out how to get people to buy... and buy in mass.  They hire us not just build it and orchestrate it, they hire us make what we build and orchestrate WORK.

Leading my client's sales and marketing efforts, I have an awesome responsibility.  A responsibility to pass on my wisdom.  To lead them down a road less traveled than mine.  And that responsibility has taught me more about courage, specifically the courage to not only say I fail but, I am actually good at it... and you should be too.

If you and your company truly embrace failure what you will find is that you will create an entirely different culture.  A culture that embraces rapid change, adapts to it and reaps the rewards by creating incredibly inventive and rapid solutions.  Something we a Synergy call The Culture Of Conversion.

Hello my name is Andrew and I am a failure and... A Chief Failure Officer.

---------------

For more about me, Synergy and Creating The Culture Of Conversion for your business go to my Linkedin profile at www.linkedin.com/in/resultsnow/

"Employers provide the majority of health insurance benefits in this country. They must have a seat at the health reform policy table."

These were the first words of advice for Michigan business owners from Rick Lord, President of Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) and Michael Widmer, President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. They represented two of the four employer organizations that worked with their state legislature to help pass universal health care coverage in 2006 for the state's 6.5 million residents.

These business leaders believe that having businesses involved in health reform policy in Massachusetts has resulted in a balanced and sustainable approach to health reform and with a much better outcome than if they had not been involved.

Here are some of their insights and words of advice on how Michigan business leaders can play a role in shaping health reform policy in our state.

1. BUSINESS LEADERS MUST SHARE A COMMON GOAL.

The Massachusetts businesses believed universal coverage was needed because they were going to pay for the uninsured one way or another, through uncompensated care assessments, cost shifting, high premiums or a less healthy workforce. The road to balanced policy was not easy, but a common goal and purpose allowed them to work through their obstacles.

2. COLLABORATION AND COMPROMISE ARE KEY TO POLICY REFORM.

Along the way, a number of proposals emerged that the business community opposed, but their representatives stayed at the table to work through the issues. For example, business leaders were able to develop a compromise over a proposed payroll tax by requiring a minimum level of employee coverage or else pay an annual employee assessment of up to $295 to help fund uncompensated care. The principle behind the compromise was that all employers should share equal responsibility for the costs of health care provided to uninsured residents.

3. THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE DID NOT UNDERMINE EMPLOYER-SPONSORED HEALTH COVERAGE.

Despite some predictions that employers would send more of their employees to the state's insurance exchange, more agreed to offer coverage because they realized that, to remain competitive, they needed to offer health benefits. The process of working together on reform policy also helped them realize the program would work best with the shared support of businesses, individuals and the government.

4. THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY HAS AN IMPORTANT ROLE TO PLAY IN INFORMING AND EDUCATING EMPLOYERS AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC ABOUT THE BENEFITS AND REQUIREMENTS OF HEALTH CARE REFORM.

One of the results of universal coverage was to help businesses become better purchasers of health care coverage. AIM sponsored workshops, webinars and developed a guidebook to educate the employers and employees in their organization about the law's policies and regulations. Businesses were also featured that found innovative ways to improve the quality of care, implement health and wellness programs for their employees and manage costs.

5. COST CONTAINMENT IS VITAL TO REFORM BECAUSE UNIVERSAL COVERAGE WILL BE INEFFECTIVE IF HEALTH COVERAGE IS NOT AFFORDABLE.

Rob Fowler, president of the Michigan Small Business Association who spoke at this event, indicated that the cost of health care coverage is one of the biggest concerns for businesses and can keep them from being competitive. The Michigan SBA has endorsed the Medicaid expansion in our state because it will expand the pool of dollars available for care and help reduce the burden on employers who have been helping to carry the cost of uncompensated care.

Massachusetts has moved cost containment to the top of their agenda and have implemented three different laws in the past four years to regulate how much hospitals and health plans can raise their rates. They are seeing a shift to employers offering more high deductible plans and health insurance companies offering tiered network plans. Hospital and physician providers are also working together with insurance plans to manage costs. And the state has implemented a $60M wellness fund to encourage healthy lifestyles and provide tax incentives to companies that use wellness programs.

Based on the lesson from Massachusetts, Michigan businesses have a strong role to play in shaping and influencing health reform policy in our state. Or in the words of Rob Fowler, "If you are not at the table, you're on the menu."

You can watch the entire event below. re:group sponsored the live streaming of the symposium:

Lessons on Health Care Reform from Massachusetts Business Leaders from re:group inc. on Vimeo.

We  all will pay more for better service! So if you're a small business owner and if you're looking for ways to improve, read on. 

To get off on the right foot with your customers, whether you're a large or small retailer, whether your customers come to you via the phone or in person, here are the Telephone Doctor's Six Cardinal Rules of Customer Service.

Adapting these easy steps will make your day, and more importantly, make the customer's day a better experience for you and your company. 

Cardinal Rule # 1 - People Before Paperwork

When someone walks into your place of business, or calls you while you're working on something, drop everything for that person. Remember, paper can wait, people should not. We've all been abused when we go shopping and been ignored and we know how that feels. Let's not abuse our own customers. Remember: People before paperwork. 

Cardinal Rule # 2 - Rushing Threatens Customers

Sure, you may understand something real quick, but rushing the customer along will only lead to them feeling intimidated and you won't see them coming back to you. Take it easy. Remember, speed is not success! Trying to be "done" with a customer as quickly as possible is seen as being rude and uncaring. Take your time with each and every contact. 

Cardinal Rule # 3 - Company Jargon

Ever get a report from a company and not understand it? Some companies have company jargon that makes the CIA wonder what's up. Be very careful not to use your own company jargon on your customers. You and your employees may understand it very well, but the customer may not. And you'll only cause a lot of unnecessary confusion. Spell things out for your customers. Don't abbreviate. Remember, don't use military language on civilians. 

Cardinal Rule # 4 - Don't Be Too Busy To Be Nice

Hey, everyone's busy! That's what it's all about. Being busy does not give you carte blanche to be rude. Remember, you meet the same people coming down, as you do going up. They'll remember you. (What's worse than being busy? NOT being busy.) 

Cardinal Rule # 5 - "Uh huh" is not 'Thank You' -- "There ya go" is not 'You're Welcome'

How often do you hear these slang phrases? We need to remember 'Thank you' and 'You're welcome' are beautiful words. The customer cannot hear them too often. However, if you're telling your customers to "have a nice day," please say it with meaning! I recently had a checkout clerk tell the FLOOR to have a nice day. She wouldn't look at me. Make eye contact when you're saying something nice. 

Cardinal Rule # 6 - Be Friendly BEFORE You Know Who It Is

There's a good lesson to be learned here. The Telephone Doctor motto is: SMILE BEFORE you know who it is. It will earn you many classic customer service points. The customer needs to know you want to work with them, no matter who they are. Remember, sometimes it's way too late to smile and be friendly after you know who it is. 

Any one of these tips can boost your customer service!

Telephone Doctor, an international customer service training company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, believes in helping small businesses get better at communicating with their customers.  Nancy Friedman, President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training is available to speak at your meetings.   314 291 1012 or www.nancyfriedman.com

Beginning January 1, 2013, Employers were required to update the forms they use for securing employee background checks.

As we have discussed in this blawg on several occasions, performing an employee background check is not as simple as turning an employee's name, birth day¸ and social security number over to a credit reporting agency and waiting for the results.

Employers are bound to follow a prescribed set of steps when securing and using employee background checks. If you fail to follow the proper steps the consequences can be dire.

The prescribed steps are listed below:

1. Secure proper authorization for employee and applicants background checks.

2. Notify affected employees or applicants of intent to take any adverse employment actions based wholly or partly on a background check prior to taking any adverse action.

3. Notify affected employees or applicants of adverse decision.

The new form requirement is imposed in step 2.

Post January 1, 2013, employers are required to provide employees and applicants with a standardized form entitled A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The form must be given prior to taking any adverse action against an employee or applicant (i.e. not hiring an applicant, denying an employee promotion, firing an employee). A copy of the prescribed form can be obtained by clicking here.

Ignoring the employer mandates regarding employee background checks is not a good idea. Employers can be subject to fines up to $1,000 or the actual damage for each violation plus attorney fees.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2013 is the previous archive.

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