Accountability: Steps to Success

Accountability: Steps to Success

Problems and Solutions

We all need to take steps to accountability. Throughout my career in executive leadership, I have had relationships with people who were critical of the company that employed us. These were generally successful, mid-level managers. I would listen to their issues, ask questions, and consider their opinions. My parting words were always the same, “Please get back to me with possible solutions to the problem.” Most did not follow up on that request and perhaps felt that I was being dismissive. However, I have always believed if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

The Blame Game

In “The Oz Principle”(oz-principle), authors Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman classify complaining individuals as being part of The Blame Game. These people typically take a wait and see attitude or cover their trail, do some finger pointing, and ignore/deny the facts. “It’s not my job,” or, “I’m confused: tell me what to do,” are common refrains among the complainers. Unchecked, malcontents can demoralize an organization. They can operate at what Connors, Smith, and Hickman call, Below the Behavior Line, an environment where no one acknowledges the truth of the situation.

Steps to Accountability

If we are honest, we probably all have times when we’re functioning Below the line. To operate Above the Line, “The Oz Principle” lists these progressive Steps to Accountability:

  • See it – Recognize and acknowledge the full reality of the situation.
  • Own it – Accept responsibility for the experience and realities you create for yourself and others.
  • Solve it – Change the reality by finding and implementing solutions to the problems. Be creative. Avoid the trap of falling back Below the Line when obstacles present themselves.
  • Do it – Have the courage to follow through with the identified solutions, even if they involve a lot of risk.

Be Accountable

Practice the four steps to accountability.  See it, own it, solve it, and do it. These actions will keep you out of the Blame Game and Above the Line for productive behavior.

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Becoming a Go-Giver

Becoming a Go-Giver

One of the benefits of retiring from the corporate executive world is that I now have more time to read, write, teach, and give keynote speeches. I was a stereotypic go-getter — in at 6:45 AM and at work until I got it done. While I always believed in working with others, my personal drive to get things done ASAP made that challenging. Today, I am working on being more of a go-giver.

The value of people

What’s changed? Since leaving the corporate world I have worked as a consultant. In this position, I can see just how valuable people are to each other in the business world. For example, I counsel a senior executive who lost his job in the recent economic downturn and had to deal with a sudden illness at the same time. By working together we have rebuilt his strength and belief in himself. Today he is ready to re-enter the labor force. I find good people who work well with others generally find the next venture is better than their last. I believe this will be my client’s experience.

Five Laws of Stratospheric Success

The reward and joy one finds in working through people is summarized very effectively in “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann (thegogiver.com).

Here are Burg and Mann’s Five Laws of Stratospheric Success:

  1. The Law of Value – “Your true value is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.”
  2. The Law of Compensation – “Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.”
  3. The Law of Influence – “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.”
  4. The Law of Authenticity – “The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.”
  5. The Law of Receptivity – “The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.”

A Passion for Giving

In my work, I derive the greatest joy from working in the hearts and lives of others. Paid compensation pales in comparison to the richness of the relationships I have formed. As Burg and Mann write, “All the great fortunes of the world have been created by men and women who had a greater passion for what they were giving – the product, service or idea – than for what they were getting.”

We need go-givers in the world now more than ever. Stay open to receiving and give the gift of yourself whenever you can. Giving leads to the most rewarding kind of success.

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How Enterprise Selling Works

How Enterprise Selling Works

Enterprise Selling occurs when you demonstrate where customer needs meet your company’s innovative capabilities. According to Mark Dancer, “B2B companies should work more closely with partners not to specify how they work, but to understand how they work. By comparing methods across multiple partners, new insights may be gained that can lead to unexpected innovation opportunities.”

Know your Customer

Spend time getting to know your customer’s business. Analyze that business in terms of your capabilities. A salesperson’s priority is to understand where each player fits in terms of the customer’s and the distributor’s business objectives. Build customer relationships with key executives in sales, marketing, operations, and administration. Question each on their specific needs.

Learn New Methods

Enterprise Selling involves the use of new sales methods. To make this type of selling work, both sales people and customers need to learn about these new ways to transact business. Train your sales team in Enterprise Selling techniques. Lead customers through any new external sales processes so they are aware of its value to their bottom line. For example, once a distributor makes the transition to eCommerce, he must teach the customer how to use it to their benefit.

Ask Questions

The goal of Enterprise Selling is to implement changes that enhance the traditional role of the distributor’s value chain partnership. To make this work, you need to ask questions. Are you training your field sales force to understand and take advantage of these changing trends in the industry? Are your reps speaking to the customer about how to achieve better outcomes in their own language? Do reps know the stakeholders and their reasons for making a decision to use your products or services?

Create Customer Value

As new ideas gain traction, intentional mindfulness is needed to stay aware of how value is created for customers. Remember, Enterprise Selling works when customer needs are met with your innovative capabilities.

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Creating New Opportunities

Creating New Opportunities

A distributor asked for advice on creating new opportunities for his company. It was experiencing sales erosion to alternative channels. While sales of the company’s added value items that require technical assistance remained strong, its higher profit-margin products were not being ordered. The distributor bemoaned, “Since the pandemic, 15-20% of our revenue has been lost due to reductions in sales of our basic products.” The company’s bread and butter items— like consumables, safety products, and hand tools — were being shopped online elsewhere.

Digital marketing

Paradigm shifts like digitization are disruptive but can inspire the creation of new opportunities. Mark Dancer notes that digital marketing can be a game changer “by teeing customer opportunities that are assigned to sales or support resources not according to their physical proximity to a customer but by their ability to deliver the right experience at the right time.”

Enterprise Selling

To identify and deliver these right experiences have your field sales team use Enterprise Selling. Capitalize on your long term local customer relationships and your team’s command of the latest technological developments. Find the opportunities inside the customer by asking their executive team these questions:

  • What are your company’s strategic objectives for the next one to three years?
  • Where are you the strongest against your competitors? Where are you lagging?
  • What business problems are you focusing on with your customers?
  • What are some of the latest trends in your industry?
  • How will these trends affect your company?
  • What is unique about your position in the marketplace?
  • Where are you most vulnerable?

Use Insight

Today’s customer is awash in information — and it can all look alike. To make a good decision, he needs insight from a knowledgeable supplier. Introduce ways your customer can save money and increase earnings using your products. In “The Challenger Sales, Taking Control of Customer Conversation,” Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson relate, “We have found that 53% of loyalty was by the sales experience – namely the supplier’s ability to deliver unique insight to the customer.”

Creating Those New Opportunities

Get creative in your approach to selling. For example, Mark Dancer suggests, “Local distributors
and manufacturers could band together to pitch ‘quality of business,’ which is achieved through
their coordinated local products and services.” (Read the whole article here). Use
your product knowledge and insight to create new opportunities and recover revenue lost
to digital channels.

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Enterprise Selling, A New Sales Process

Enterprise Selling, A New Sales Process

A brief history of sales

Sales techniques have always adjusted to economic and business trends. For example, the industrial revolution made products available in large volumes for the first time. This created the need for distributors to sell and stock inventory locally. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, corporate sales cycles were introduced by companies like IBM, General Electric, and General Motors. These commercial giants wanted goods sold on their timeline. Eventually purchasing agents railed against this sales technique and relationship selling was ushered in. In the 21st century, solution and consultative-based selling techniques were added. Today, in response to digitization, a new sales process I call enterprise selling has come into play.

Enterprise Selling

By definition, enterprise is a project or undertaking that is difficult or requires effort. It is also defined as a business or company. Enterprise selling is the business of capturing sales in today’s fast paced digital economy and it requires renewed effort.

An analysis

A simple SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis yields insight to the changes needed in the distributor sales force network. The Strength of the distributor is its local connection to the customer. Proximity allows for better communication and options for delivery from nearby warehouses and facilities. The largest Weakness for the independent distributor is its relatively small eCommerce presence. This can lead to the loss of market share. The bright spot is the Opportunity. As a result of their local relationship, distributors can offer significant and unique solutions to their customers’ needs. The Threat of market share loss to digitization can be mitigated with a rapid sales process adjustment.

Develop Relationships

Building on progressive insights, such as the writings of Roy Chitwood in World Class Selling and Matthew Dixon and Brent Adams in The Challenger Sales, Taking Control of the Customer Conversation, the next generation sales process must occur with collaborative partnerships. To recapture revenue lost to alternate channels and retain existing sales, a relationship among key influencers must be developed.

The Opportunity

You have the same sales opportunity today as you did pre-digitization, but you need a new plan of attack. Use enterprise selling to offer significant and unique solutions for your customers’ needs. Become a strategic partner to your customers. Get tips and tricks like the above in The Art of Sales books. Or subscribe to the FREE monthly articles here.

Adjusting to change

Adjusting to change

Information technology is at the root of so many alterations in the way we do business, both internally and externally. We all need to learn, and continually be adjusting to change.

Study the customer

I was reminded of the importance of this at a workshop I recently attended on software trends. The software developer hosting the event specializes in providing independent gas distributors with customized, integrated ERP software solutions. Their products help streamline the many internal processes essential to running a gas distribution business.

The developers carefully studied their customer’s business in order to create software applications that met their specific needs. This brings to light the importance of recognizing business pattern changes and making adjustments accordingly. The innovations provided by the software developers will keep internal business functions up to date. Likewise, we must be ready to make adaptations to our sales process to keep it functional in the digital age.

Sales Channels Shift

The impact of online sales to the distributor channel is being felt. In their February 23, 2021, podcast, the Distribution Strategy Group  predicted a 5-year revenue channel shift in commercial sales. The group sees distributor revenues potentially dropping an additional 14%, from 66% to 52% of all commercial sales. Manufacturers direct sales, on the other hand, are expected to rise by 7%, moving from 22% of the total to 29%. Gains in other channel sales are also projected to be up 7%, rising from 12% to 19% of total sales. This analysis serves as a wakeup call for distributors. The distribution channel must realign its outside salesforce practices to meet the challenge of the shifts created by digitization.

Get Ready– Adjusting to Change

Is your organization prepared to meet the new demands in the field sales process? Get ready to adjust to the changing sales landscape by studying your customers shifting buying habits. Fine tune your sales process to meet customer need.

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