Monday, May 31, 2010

Strengthening the Bench

I am truly inspired by those Chicago Blackhawks. Although I would have loved to see the Leafs followed by the Habs in the Stanley Cup, I am happy that one of the original six has made the cut. It will of course be truly special if this team can erase its Cup drought and put the light once again on our Leafs to have a miracle 2010/2011 season!

One of the inspiring things about the Hawks is their Bench Strength. So far in the first two games, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines have been carrying the day. The Hawks top two scorers Kane and Toews remain off the goal sheet. Given that the team who is up 2 games to none has a historical 94% chance of winning the whole thing, the Bench has clearly done its job!

For early stage companies it is often a challenge of having just enough players on the ice to cover each position -let alone having enough talent on the Bench to substitute in. For established companies, the problem is one of building from the pool of talent that you already have and boosting your strength from within.

The Annual Performance Review process provides an excellent opportunity the Supervisor to sit down with their employees and have a "Development" conversation. This discussion should follow the review of the past performance and capitalize on the things that worked well and things that needed some improvement.

I am of course a big fan of starting with the End Goal in mind - specifically: "What are my career goals and aspirations? Where would I envision myself working and at what level 5 years from now? Are my goals realistic and possible within this time frame?"

Once the end game is established, an assessment of Strengths and Weaknesses needs to be completed. A great exercise is to have both the supervisor and the employee work independently on these lists and compare notes in a joint session. Many employees find that they are tougher on themselves when they do the self assessment. Tools such as 360 degree evaluation provide a very comprehensive approach to capture all of the components from several stakeholders.

Often to get to the next level, additional Leadership Competencies or Technical Skills need to be identified and developed to achieve the desired results. The creation of a personal Development Plan is the next step in the process. The Supervisor and Employee will need to work on this program together addressing the individual and departmental needs, time and budget. Components of the Plan could include formal training programs, on-the-job cross training, participation in special assignments, coaching services, volunteer work and gaining access to webinars on industry topics.

In a week I think that we will look back on the Stanley Cup finals and do a complete analysis of the outcome. In this review I know that we will find that Bench Strength made all of the difference.

Are you doing all you can to Win your Cup?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Targeting the Real Decision Maker

We read a lot about the selling process and how to target the real person who makes the final Purchasing decision. The problem, is that the approach may in fact be all wrong. Instead of concentrating on a Person we should in fact be focusing on a Thing - specifically the Brain.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a quarterly meeting of the CEO Global Network - an organization that provides peer to peer mentoring for CEO's. The guest speaker was a co-author of a book called Neuromarketing (Morin & Renvoise). Christophe Morin indicated that at least 80% of business self-help books purchased or given out at conferences remain unopened and on the shelf. After a couple hours with the Author I was truly convinced that this book would not be destined for the unopened faith. Let me provide some of Highlights to hook your interest and demonstrate how you will need to change your Sales Approach to increase the probability of success.

The Human Brain is composed of three distinct components which evolve as we grow. The First or Reptilian Brain is present at birth and ultimately becomes the trigger in our Decision making process. The Middle part of our Brain develops and processes our Emotions, while the Outer part develops our ability to Think. Research has shown that Reptilian Brain will make the final decision by considering emotional and rational input from the other two components.

Morin and Renvoise's research suggest that the Brain reacts to 6 key stimuli. By Mastering and Re engineering your selling proposal you clearly will increase your probability of success. These stimuli include:
  1. It's All About "Me" - The Brain is motivated by anything that pertains to itself. Presentations that spend too much time talking about your company and its products without focusing on what it will mean for prospect will be wasted effort.

  2. Clear Comparison - The Brain is sensitive to comparisons that provide clear differentiation. By making a product claim that is a sharp contrast to the competitive product you have speed up the decision making process of the Brain.

  3. Concrete - The Brain will be stimulated by having the facts presented in a clear manner. The more thinking that has to go into the process, the slower the decision that ultimately gets made.

  4. Strong Open / Powerful Middle /Strong Close - The Brain is a very efficient machine with an embedded energy management system. It will look for ways of conserving energy by forgetting about details in the middle. In sales mode the MRI studies suggest that you need to have a Strong Opening, a simple but Powerful Middle and a Strong Close. Recognizing the Brain's energy management system you will only have 10 Minutes for the complete process and your Middle section should be constrained to Three key messages.

  5. Stunning Visuals - The Reptilian Brain is directly connected to the optic nerve. This means that of all your senses, sight has the most immediate and lasting impact on a decision making process. We have written in previous blogs about the importance of this item and how it relates to crisp and uncluttered PowerPoint charts.

  6. Hook me Emotionally - The Brain recognizes over 16,ooo emotions which lead to chemical stimulations. It's no surprise that the most memorable commercials are those that somehow play to our emotions including Joy, Laughter, Sadness, Fear and Anger.

When we wrote about Messaging for Success the concepts were esssentially the same. The neat part here is that we can tie the Science of the Brain to understand why it works the way it does. Back to that ugly statistic on Business books on the shelf - I can assure you that this is one of my books that is already Highlighted, Dog Eared and in Active Use.