Hunting Big Sales with Tom Searcy

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5 Steps to Solid Strategic Planning

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with John Myrna about his new book The Chemistry of Strategy. We discussed what it means to have a strategy and why a strategic plan is differs from an operational plan.

Myrna defines business strategy as “knowing what you want to be in the future, where you are today, and what your annual strategic goals are, so that you’ll change from who you are to who you want to become.”

Your strategy must be set forth in attainable, measurable goals, which means being specific is a must. It’s also important to know the difference between an operational goal, which by and large lives in the here and now, and a strategic one, which resides in the future. Here, Myrna shares five ways to implement a business strategy and carve your path to the future:

Make a pledge

Get together with your team and make a simple pledge regarding your goals. Say it aloud, together: “We commit to this plan.” 

Gather your team

Meet with your executive council to manage this plan. When rounding out your team, keep in mind they must be able to visualize and help realize goals. They should intend on being there whether the goal is met or not, and they need to be diverse, both in experience and in passions. These are the people who will ensure your entire team buys into this plan, because a true strategic goal affects your whole company, from top to bottom. 

Outline a process

A good strategic plan isn’t a one-day thing.

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4 Steps to Hiring an All-Star

One of the things I often hear from companies recruiting candidates is that there’s a talent shortage. But award-winning author and sales management expert Lee Salz views it differently: The talent is out there, you just have to know what you want (and how to find it). 

Lee Salz wrote the book Hire Right, Higher Profits, which I highly recommend. Too often, he says, companies focus on people, not processes. The days of receiving a gold watch for 25 years of loyal service have come and gone and Generation Y is anything but loyal. However, it is possible to find loyal talent. Here, then, are four steps from Lee to help you recruit the right candidates. 

Always Be Recruiting. 

Much like grocery shopping when hungry, a big mistake is looking for candidates when you desperately need to hire them. Always be recruiting and open to networking. You never know where it will lead. 

Use the Tools Correctly.

Assessment companies provide data about a candidate, but it’s up to you to interpret it and combine it with nuances gleaned from those in-person interviews. The same goes for tracking systems, which are designed to make the hiring process more efficient. The problem is setting too many filters, which can shut out some great candidates. So manage these tools correctly and consider them part of the overall process, not the end-all be-all.

Do Your Homework.

When considering a candidate, be sure to assess all the factors that will help that person succeed or fail, as the case may be.

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How to Write a Killer Resume

A resume alone will never help you get hired. It has to be relevant and compelling enough to get your foot in the door. Having reviewed thousands of resumes myself, I’ve found that most of them read like a cross between an obituary and a museum exhibit timeline. 

First, let’s debunk a couple of resume myths. Resumes are not read, at least not at first. They are scanned, scored and sorted. Second, a good resume is not critical to getting you hired. It is only critical in landing an interview. Third, the real purpose of a resume is to catch someone’s eye. HR departments use resumes as a job-matching tool. They are trying to find a fit, and in this way they are solving a problem. 

Most executives agree that you should never start with HR, so if you write your resume to match a job, then you’re writing for the wrong audience. Here, then, are four tricks to get the people with hiring power to notice you:

State what problems you’ll solve.

Executives are focused on solving challenges of time, money, and risk. When reviewing a resume, they want someone who’s overcome challenges in at least one of these areas, if not all three. 

Explain who you helped. 

Many resumes include companies that are not household names so add a short explanation. “Top 10 international provider of heavy construction equipment components,” for example, will give your performance some context.

Say what difference you made. 

Here, I’m talking about specific measures you took to solve a problem.

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Team Players Vs. All-Stars: Who Matters More?

Business is like baseball in so many ways, none more so than when you set out to build a great team. You want the best players, like that insanely great sales leader, but that’s not how the game is played.

Every company, like a ball club, is out to win as many games as possible. But every company is filled from the bottom up with two distinct types of players: You’ve got your organizational types and your all-star types. A good leader knows the difference.

This is not to disparage those people who get the job done day-in and day-out. This is to help you know that once-in-a-lifetime talent can take your business to the next level. As much as you want a workplace where everyone feels equal, as George Orwell wrote: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal.”

So, what are the characteristics of all-stars? For one thing, they’re innately talented and possess leadership ability. They’re also ambitious and strive to achieve. Beyond that, they’re engaged, and constantly developing themselves personally and professionally.

To help them fully harness their natural talents–because nothing is worse than talent going to waste–here are three simple, yet effective ways to keep them engaged at your company: 

Challenge them. Give them the tough assignments, urging them to aim for greatness.

Spend time with them. Pass along your wisdom, helping them to develop big goals. Then find out not only who they long to be but when they hope to get to that point.

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7 Steps to Creating the Ultimate CEO Fortress of Solitude

I’m not sure if it was Peter Cetera or Kierkegaard who said, “Everybody needs a little time away.” Regardless of who said it, that statement is certainly true, especially for business leaders. In this 24/7, constantly-connected world we live and do business in, there will come a time that you have to find that spot that you can go to and be truly alone.

Even Superman had a place to go when the rigors of defending Metropolis got to him and made him feel less than super. For CEOs, there are a number of tasks that you will not be your most effective in solving if you attempt them working in a standard office environment. Maybe it’s annual reviews, terminating an employee, deciding whether or not to launch a new product, or even something as simple (yet, mind-numbingly complicated) as a customer issue. At some point, we all need our own Fortress of Solitude. You need to find a spot that will allow you to truly embrace the beauty that is complete solitude, a place that allows you to really focus on an issue, re-energize yourself, and go back to being super.

Here are 7 Steps to finding that perfect spot:

1. Embrace the beauty of being alone.

Even if you are the most gregarious person in your office, sometimes you want to enjoy your own company. In your fortress, one of the most important things is to be comfortable with yourself and only you. No Lois Lane, no Jimmy Olsen, and definitely no Lex Luthor.

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Achieve Faster–Nobody Lives Forever!

Goals are great, in fact they are paramount to actual success. Every single successful business in the history of time started with a goal, achieved it, and went from there. The only problem is, why do they take so long?  Here’s a very simple, two-part process that will help you rocket to the finish line.

Part 1: Understanding the Path

  1. Declare the goal. The best definition of a goal is a dream with a deadline. So declare not only the dream, but the deadline as well. What do you want to do and when do you want to do it by? These two very simple questions can help you to measure progress along the way and to know when you’re winning.
  2.  Create the path. The major difference between most goals and dreams is that a goal not only has a deadline, but it has a plan. What’s your plan? How do you intend on reaching that finish line and achieving that goal? Do you have everything you need to get you there? Have you anticipated roadblocks and pitfalls along the way? Do you have a plan to sidestep the landmines that you won’t see until the last minute?
  3. Set mini-goals. Be sure you have measurable milestones–mini-goals along the path to let you know that you’re on the right road. The most important part is that they are three things: applicable, measurable, and attainable.
  4. Define winning. The mini-goals and the major goal have to be tangible, specific.

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9 Ways to Have Better Vacations

I am not a great vacationer. I wish I was. I am not alone, a lot of CEOs and senior executives confess that they do not disconnect well. They think about business a lot when they are gone, check in, keep their phone and email available, and are not as “present” on their vacation as they would like to be. As a fellow sufferer, I have studied how to be a better vacationer.  I tested some guidelines on a recent break in Mexico and they worked really well.

  1. Be gone for enough time to disengage–It takes me 1-2 days to disengage my mind and my sense of urgency from work. A three-day weekend is usually fun, but not truly a vacation because it does not allow me to totally release my mind from work. You have to give yourself enough time to break your rhythms of office life. I know for me that six days is the very minimum.
  2. Unplugging may not be possible, so ration–All of the items I have studied about this topic have advocated a 100 percent disconnection. I know they are right and I know it is not happening. So I ration instead 20-30 minutes of email when I get up in the morning. I delegate or defer almost all responses to someone on my team back home or until I return. The “no contact” rule is better, but beyond my human capacity, so I ration.
  3. Avoid digital temptations–Shut down the email, texting, and voice as much as possible.

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4 Ways to Manage Slippery Customers and Be Sticky

Nothing is more frustrating in this competitive, hyper-commoditized world in which we live as businesses than working with a customer and believing you have developed a value-based relationship with them only to be tossed into a bidding war every year to keep the business.

As I approach this idea of being “sticky”–which means not being so easily removed from a customer as a provider because of a lower priced competitor–let’s make a few assumptions:

  1. You provide a good product or service at a market-relevant price. Not necessarily the lowest, and maybe the highest, but logically justifiable.
  2. Your customers are regularly being approached by competitors who encourage your customers to “try them out” or switch entirely based upon promises of equal or better performance at same or lower prices.
  3. Your customers can switch with relative ease, (or what they perceive to be ease), from you to you competitors.

If these assumptions fit for you, and you have felt some “slippage” with your customers, here are some things you can do to become stickier.

Expand your connection net. Often in customer relationships, once the agreement has been made to work together, the management of the relationship thins. The sales person or account manager becomes the primary and often singular point of connection to the customer. On the customer’s side, they also thin their points of contact to only transaction processors. If you want to be sticky, you need more touchpoints in the relationship. We recommend that you look at a minimum of three connections that are occurring between your company and your customer’s company on at the bare minimum of once or more per month.

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Why You Should Be Transparent With Your Employees

How much do we tell the employees about the money in the business? For small and mid-size business owners, there is often a lot of anxiety about sharing too much information. For employees, there is a strong desire to understand the business and its prospects for the future. If you are a privately held company, balancing this is tough. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Don’t give information without education. Providing any financial reports regardless of whether they are summaries, or complete traditional reports like your balance sheet, P/L and budget, should always be provided with a thorough education as to how the employee can read the data. It is possible that your employees do not have the background or training to fully understand these documents, so giving them the documents without education can be little more than distracting.
  • What’s it mean to them? When looking at the information that you provide, there needs to be a clear summary telling the employees what it means to them. They will likely have lots of relevant questions:
    • Is our company getting better or worse? More stable or vulnerable?
    • Is my job at risk?
    • What are we investing in to make us more successful in the future?

Employees look for context and relevance to the numbers.

  • What can I do? Along with providing context for the numbers themselves, it is also important to provide a road map for what you are doing as a company with the information and an ask for the employees. The ask during positive periods is simple–Keep doing your great work!

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There are No Guarantees on the Path to Success

Speaking with Daniel Waldschmidt, author of “EDGY Conversations” is very much like drinking from a fire hose. His high energy and direct style have given him international success as an entrepreneur, investor, adviser, and now author. I had a chance to speak with him to get his perspective on what leaders need to do to be effective. Here are a few of his key ideas:

  • The old road map to success is broken. Waldschmidt believes that the old road map to success– get a degree, work hard, and success follows–is broken. For him, this represents a model that is a false promise. The vast majority who have followed this model have fallen well short of their dreams and their potential. The core problem is the principle that “doing” is the key rather than “being.” “Doing” is a prescription of activities, while “being” is about embodying your goals and drive. For him, establishing a clearer picture of who and what you are and what your intentional life outcomes are needs to come first. The road map changes as your life changes and there are no guarantees. It is the drive from your being that gives you what is necessary to adapt and succeed.
  • There is still time to change the road you are on. For people who realize they are trapped in an activity-based mindset, they need to break that mindset through being brutally honest about who they are with themselves. One way to do that is through intentional quiet moments of reflection.

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