Surviving the Growing Pains! – Managing Staff in a Period of Growth

One of the common features of many of the businesses we come into contact with is that they are experiencing a period of rapid growth. They have a proven product or service, they’re doing the right thing by their customers and they’re reaping the rewards of their efforts – terrific!

But life is not always wine and roses as they say, and a number of businesses going through this phase also experience “Growing Pains”. Growing pains can develop in any area of the business – it could be that product or service quality is beginning to suffer, or it could be that your IT, accounting or communications systems are not keeping up with the increased pace. It might also be that you’re having difficulty in attracting and retaining quality staff to enable you to continue to provide the level of customer service that has contributed to the success of your business. Read more

Sales Managers are Reporting Regulators

Sales managers are a pivot-point for reporting within an organisation.

Accurate, relevant, simple reports built around appropriate data enable sales managers to know what has happened, what needs to happen and what’s likely to happen if an individual or team maintains the status quo. Running your sales team without effective sales reporting is like riding a motorbike blindfolded.

If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it

And just as importantly, as a sales manager you need to be reporting inwards to assist leadership in making decisions and setting priorities. Reports from sales should be providing marketing with the intelligence required to develop appropriate market-engagement plans and content and R&D should be guided by what sales are hearing from the market to guide or confirm development decisions.

One of the challenges I faced in sales management was ensuring the reporting demanded of me, and that I asked from my team, was really necessary and added value to the business. All too often I found management requesting reports that were difficult to justify, time-consuming to produce and added little or no value to the productivity of the business, or my sales team. Likewise, a sales manager needs to ensure the reports that he requires from his team provide measures that help both the sales manager, the team and the individuals achieve their goals. Reporting on appropriate metrics should help identify areas for improvement, not catch people out.
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Sales Manager or Performance Supervisor?

Over the years I have seen all too many sales managers focussed only on results and not what is necessary to achieve the results. The management component of a sales manager’s role is about the planning and control of work processes, but a good sales manager knows that supervision – directing their team towards success – will deliver not just better results for the team and the individual sales person, but greater job satisfaction for themselves.

Supervising the performance of your team is not just about measuring performance against targets (the results), but helping the individual salesperson understand what will help them be successful and guiding them to undertake these actions and develop the skills needed to achieve success. And this will be different for each individual. Once thorough planning has been done and your team know the sales strategy and objectives, they need to have a comprehensive action plan and the skills needed to guide them through the activities needed to achieve their goals.

“The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go with their old measurements and expect me to fit in”
George Bernard Shaw
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HR Consulting

How Strong Are the Links in Your Management Chain?

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience at one time or another of seeing apparently sound decisions fall apart at the point of implementation, or otherwise proceed but result in unintended consequences.

This can of course happen in connection with any type of decision, and staff-related decisions are certainly no exception. Indeed, training initiatives, recognition programs and performance review systems are classic examples of well-intended business improvement initiatives that can go awry.

Of the many possible reasons for things going off track (poor project management or inadequate resourcing, for example), one of the most common concerns the role of middle managers/supervisors. Read more

Succeeding in the Culture Change Playground

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

I saw this posted on Linked In the other day and it reminded me of a question I am often asked by clients when speaking with them about potential workplace culture change programs.

The question usually arises while I’m extolling the virtues of taking a structured, collaborative approach to assessing, envisioning and managing workplace culture as a means to improving engagement, productivity and bottom line results. The client or prospect often nods knowingly, then looks thoughtfully, before asking the question, usually along the lines of:

“Yeah, well that’s great, but we have a couple of individuals/teams that are very resistant to change and I just can’t see them coming on board. What do we do with them?” Read more

Business Process Improvement

Office Wastes

While much has been said and written about Lean and the 7-Wastes within a manufacturing environment, it is in the office of professional service functions where we often see huge amounts of waste, particularly within the accounting, legal, design and consulting engineering sectors. Below are some of the typical ‘Office Wastes’ that we encounter.

  • Sorting and searching – This applies in all environments, even at home. How much time do you waste looking for files, or information, or tools or items? Although we like to talk about the ‘paperless office’, we know that this is far from reality. Many organisations generate “paper”, for e.g. the medical and legal professions, or any regulatory bodies or departments. How do you track these documents and know, instantly, where anything is? If you manufacture anything, where and how do you track the correct revision numbers?

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Business Finance Consultants

Working Capital Explained

‘Working capital’ is a notion that many business owners are not familiar with. It seems difficult, complicated, so many prefer to just ignore it.

But it is important and it does not have to be complicated: It can be put in simple words.

I agree that the definition in Wikipedia is not easy to follow: “Working capital is a financial metric which represents operating liquidity available to a business, organization or other entity, including governmental entity. Along with fixed assets such as plant and equipment, working capital is considered a part of operating capital.” Even some finance experts need to read this definition three times to comprehend the wording…

To put it simply, working capital measures the short-term financial health of a business, ‘short-term’ being less than 12 months. Read more

Leads are the Raw Materials of Selling – Manage Them!

There is a quote in business that has been attributed to many people over the years…“Nothing happens until someone sells something” But from a sales perspective, the reality is..

“Nothing happens until you generate a lead!”

And this is just the start of the sales process and in turn, lead management process. Leads are the essence to generating revenue in business and for as long as I, and many older than me can recall, the responsibility for lead generation has always been clouded. Marketing is traditionally seen as ‘selling to the masses’ and therefore bringing opportunities to the door. Sales is seen as ‘selling to individuals’ (persons or businesses) but still with a need to generate opportunities through various means such as traditional cold calling and these days through social engagement. Regardless of where this responsibility lies (and there is a valid argument that the most successful businesses have strong collaboration between sales and marketing), the fact remains that at some point early in the sales process, a lead must be generated. However, generating leads is only the first step – to have any value to the business the leads must be appropriate and they must be managed. Leads need to be contacted, qualified and depending on the result of the qualification they then need to be removed or put into your sales process to convert them into customers. Further, once converted they need to be managed to ensure opportunities for further engagement are maximised. So, while it can be said that ‘nothing happens until you have a lead’, any lead is only of value if qualified and managed into and through your sales process. Throughout my career, as a salesman, a sales manager and consultant on sales development, this is where I see most businesses getting the sales process wrong. All too often businesses look to generate as many leads as possible and then waste time on those that are unlikely to deliver a positive return on further investment. Read more