As I look back across two decades of working with companies around the world, there are a few key ideas that I think are fundamental to business success, here is one of them:
The success of your business is directly tied to the quality of the people that you can get, grow and keep on your team – and the relationships they create with your customers.
I have yet to meet a single business leader that does not strongly agree with this idea, however I see a lot of businesses where they do not actually live this idea. Today I want to talk about the growth and development of top talent.
Once you get somebody on your team, there is absolutely no excuse for not investing time, energy and money in helping that person continuously improve.
Frankly, I believe this is the single most important investment you can make in your company, because without highly talented people who are steadily getting better and better, you have no chance of making your company better and better. I also write above that there is, “no excuse” because never in the history of humankind has there been more information available, much of it for free, to assist you in delivering world-class training to your people.
Here are just a few of the things that you should be doing:
- Formal mentoring program
- Creating a formal development plan for each employee
- Creating an internal training department
- Training classes taught by qualified outside instructors
- Cross training
- Benchmarking your training efforts against leading companies
- Buying a copy of a book for each of your employees
- Creating a lending library of top business books
- Creating a lending library of training CDs
- Getting your employees a membership to an audiobook service
- Getting your employees a membership to a book summary service
- Bringing in outside experts for a “lunch and learn”
- Taking your employees to visit other companies
- Sending out a newsletter with good information for your employees
- Sending out a list of top podcasts they should be listening to
- Sending out a list of YouTube videos they should watch
- Investing in online/virtual training for your employees
- Taking your employees to a major training seminar by an expert
- Taking your employees to an industry event
- Annual or semiannual company training conferences
These are just a few things that I came up with off the top of my head, I’m sure there are several more you could add to this list. But here is my point: if you are not doing all or most of this then you’re not truly serious about helping your people (and your company) to be as successful as possible. A good deal of what I have listed is absolutely free, much of it is very inexpensive, and only a few things require significant financial investment. But I can tell you this, not doing the things on this list is very, very expensive.
If you found value in this blog, I hope you will share it with your network.
*** I wanted to let you know about a very special event I will be participating in on March 12-14 at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in the incredibly beautiful town of Banff, Canada. It will be an exclusive retreat for leaders of fast growth businesses who are looking to engage with other leaders in pursuit of higher levels of performance. We have done this event twice in the past and it has been a resounding success. If you’re interested, here is a link to learn more about the program, we would love to have you join us!
After more than two decades of working with organizations around the world, the single biggest issue I see in company after company is: Lack of Disciplined Execution.
I meet plenty of brilliant people, who have developed amazing products and services and have unique and compelling strategies for how to win in the marketplace. Yet time and again I see those strategies fail because they are not effectively executed. Below is a article that was created by an amazing company out of New Zealand called Advisory Works. They are among the world’s leading experts in helping companies execute their plans, which is why I am extremely proud to announce that we have formed a partnership so that the team at Advisory Works can assist my clients who are struggling to implement the plans that I help them create.
I believe you’ll find some very powerful ideas in this PDF, things that you can apply right away to help you be more successful in taking the exciting ideas in your company and turning them into action in the marketplace.
Please feel free to share this article with anyone you want to and if you think you might need a little bit of help, don’t hesitate to contact the folks at Advisory Works, you will be extremely impressed.The Four Cornerstones of Strategic Execution 06
Recently I witnessed a perfect storm of two prevalent business problems:
Activity vs. Results and The Law of Unintended Consequences.
I was having breakfast at a very nice hotel. When I was seated I asked the hostess if I could have a menu but she explained to me that they only offered a buffet. So I walked over and put together a plate of food. When I returned there was a glass of water on my table, however, I really like to have iced tea with my breakfast, so I looked around to try to catch the attention of one of the servers. I was literally the only person in the restaurant, yet I couldn’t get any help. The staff was feverishly working away at folding napkins and setting tables for lunch (it was 8:40 AM), busy as could be and completely ignoring me. When I started to eat my meal, the eggs were cold, the sausage was cold and the potatoes were cold, so I decided I might as well have some yogurt, because it’s supposed to be cold. I set my plate to the side and went back to the buffet for the yogurt, upon returning my plate was still there and no iced tea. After I ate my yogurt I waited patiently for someone to come over so that I could ask for a check, and no one ever came to my table. So on my way out of the restaurant I mentioned to the hostess that no one asked me to pay for my breakfast, to which she replied, “Oh it is included in with room, you have already paid for it.”
That is when it dawned on me. Because they had no way to earn a tip, nobody put any effort into helping the customers, it was much easier to just look busy folding napkins so that their manager did not give them a hard time. Again, I tell you these sorts of stories not to complain, but to hold up a mirror and ask you: Do you ever do this in your business? Do you judge your employees by how early they get to work, how late they stay and how busy they look – not on the quality of their work or results they deliver? Is your reward and recognition system in alignment with the priorities of your business?
Are you paying your people to do what is most important and drive success, or to have nicely folded napkins?
If you would like some ideas about how to improve your culture, I wrote a short ebook with my best ideas. Here is a link to learn more:
I recently had the honor of being asked to do a segment for ITPRO.TV, a video channel aimed specifically at delivering world-class training and certification courses to IT professionals. The topic they asked me to speak on was professional development, especially focused on how to take your career to the next level in 2017. I think there are several good ideas here that apply to anyone who wants to have more success in their career and life.
If you found this video helpful, I hope you will share it with your network. Thanks – John
This is one of the biggest “aha moments” I ever had when learning to be salesperson, which I got from a fantastic book called: Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play by Mahan Khalsa.
“In sales, you and the customer want the very same thing: the Exact Right Solution.”
Let me unpack this for you…
If you are talking to a potential customer, than they have already given you a buying signal; they are giving you some of their time, which means there is at least some level of interest in your product or service. So you both know what you are there for, a potential sale. The goal then is to make sure that you both get what you want out of the transaction, they get a reasonable price on a product or service that they need and you make a reasonable profit. This is the only possible outcome for successful transaction, the Exact Right Solution.
- Sell them something too expensive and they find out that your price was high, you lose the customer.
- Sell them something too cheap and you lose money on the deal, your company goes out of business.
- Sell them the wrong product that will not actually meet their needs, but makes you a nice commission, you lose the customer.
- Sell them the right product and deliver it late, you lose the customer.
- Sell them the right product and it does not work, and you fail to follow-up and get it fixed quickly, you lose the customer.
- Sell them the right product but promise them too many additional services, you lose money on the deal, your company goes out of business.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea, unless both you and the customer get exactly what is right for both of you, you have not made a successful sale.
That means that it is not you against the customer, it is the two of you working together as a team to develop the Exact Right Solution. To me, this takes away the sometimes adversarial relationship between buyer and seller. I remember early in my career that every time I went on a sales call I felt like I was trying to “win the sale.” The truth of the matter is I should have been trying to win the trust of my customer by giving them exactly what they wanted, that also aligned perfectly with what I wanted, so that we could build a strong positive relationship and I could be seen as a partner and trusted advisor who would always do what was in their best interest, as long as it was also in my best interest. The classic Win-Win agreement.
Now that I understand this, sales is so much more fun. I’m not there to “win” anything, I’m there to help us much as I can and work jointly with my customer to develop solutions that makes everybody happy so that we look forward to doing more business together in the future.
To me, that is the way a professional salesperson approaches the sales process.
A friend of mine, Jake Kostan, sent me a question asking: What is your number 1 must read book of 2016 in each category for sales & marketing, business and culture?
That’s really tough question, I read more than 100 business books this year (not all of them were written this year), many of them very good, but if I had to list just one in each one of those categories, here they are…
“The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need” by Anthony Iannarino
**Also in sales, if you have not read these two books, go read them right away**
“SPIN selling” by Neil Rackham
“Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play – transforming the buyer/seller relationship” by Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig
“Marketing: A Love Story – how to matter to your customers” by Bernadette Jiwa
“Extreme Ownership – how US Navy SEALs lead and win” by Jacko Willink and Leif Babin
“It’s My Pleasure – the impact of extraordinary talent and compelling culture” by Dee Ann Turner
I could easily list another two dozen, and this was especially hard because many of my friends wrote excellent books this year, so I put links below to all of my recommendations over 2016.
If you read something that you thought was extremely valuable, please add it to the comments for all the rest of us.
Thanks so much and I hope that 2017 is your best year ever!!! Love, John
My book recommendations from 2016
On behalf of myself, my wife and business partner, Sheila Spence, our Operations Manager, Mercedes Petrus and our Financial Manager, Esther Mallard – thank you VERY much to all of our clients from 2016 for trusting us to be involved in your businesses.
I hope you will share this video with your network, and if you have not already, please sign up for my blog – I only post good stuff! blog.johnspence.com