More About Slowed Down Economy

With sales slowed at most first firms, we are seeing a delay of projects starts, closing of sales and commitments in general. I feel like I need to continue to find new clients or avenues. Any thoughts? (Bill A, Sales Professional, Buffalo, NY)

A: In any market, your best opportunities come by identifying a prospect's points of pain and bringing expertise to solve them. In a disruptive market like 2009, even clients with solid businesses have different concerns than in normal times. Now the concerns of employees, creditors, suppliers as well as those of management are of concern. Your ability to bring these issues into sharp relief is your ticket to a motivated buyer of your products or services.

Read the concerns of managers in the business press. Their first thoughts turn to managing risk: preserving budget, using credit sparingly, doing more with less, hiring smart, and generally hunkering down. Risk management, however, also means not taking a chance on a sales or management professional who says they can help with those issues. You will need to do more than just promise results; you'll need to work out a clear, highly focused, short time frame approach with tangible results. No more lengthy windup, diagnostic-focused, training-rich, casual-pace engagement plans. For many companies, this is survival so you should treat the scenario accordingly.

Instead of shopping your traditional services or products in search of a need, think about breaking them up into their parts. Each service or product should have a clear line of sight between a specific point of pain, applying your expertise and producing a tangible result and ROI. Propose each part as a standalone service or product, each with specific benefits and show how these results resolve or relieve a specific pain(s).

Happy Easter to you and yours.

George F. Mancuso
George F. Mancuso, CPC

Pecking Order in a Family Owned Business

Q: I am the new director of sales for a 95 employee manufacturing firm that is family owned. The patriarch still runs the business with three of his children as department heads. When the sales team brings new ideas to the table, the other department heads will not commit or respond in a timely manner or sometimes no response at all with ANY type of commitment. What suggestion do you have for overcoming this? (Frank L., VP of Sales, Stone Mountain GA)

A: I must tell you that my experience in working with family owned and operated businesses have presented the identical problem time and time again, so you are not in a club by yourself. However in most cases, you can overcome the problem IF the owner, patriarch/matriarch if truly ready for change and has confidence in you. The commitment MUST come from the top and be passed down through empowerment.

What typically happens is the “kids” are accustomed to waiting for mommy or daddy to tell them it IS okay to make decisions on their own. But the real problem lies with you not getting the person at the top to agree in advance that you have the authority to act in accordance with your defined authority and/or agreement upon being hired. That acknowledgment of authority must be conveyed to the “kids” and once that is done, you should act within your scope without further interference. If they choose not to contribute ideas then they should be allowed to voice complaints.

We are all creatures of habit and change comes with truck loads of trepidation and anxiety. Your owner must have the confidence in you and must convey that confidence level to the balance of the staff.

Or in the alternative, after time proven decisions have been effective, they give you a carte blanche and you can roll right on through with the roadblock the kids are putting up. But in reality, by-passing the kids can easily be the kiss of death for your career within that organization. Getting the kids on your side as well as you on theirs is paramount to developing a successful team environment. After all, you said you ARE sales, so make your case like any other presentation and sell the concept and you will make it happen!

My guess is you are about to ask the question, “HOW DO I make that happen?”
1. Meet with the boss and explain the situation without being condescending
2. Ask the boss how he/she would suggest “you” handle this
3. Ask if he/she feels there is something they can do for or with the kids to better define your role and authority within the organization
4. Confirm what he or she would like to see you get accomplished and in what time period
5. Validate his/her confidence in you and your decision making process
6. Validate that you have the authority to act
7. Get a verbal commitment from the boss
8. Follow that meeting up with a writing confirmation and understanding, again without being condescending.
9. Meet with the kids one on one or as a group and explain the roadblocks and how you view this as an impediment to achieving mutual goals
10. Ask them if they see it the same way
11. Ask if they understand your concerns
12. Ask them what they suggest you can do as a team to work more effectively
13. Validate their confidence level in you
14. Validate that you are acting within your authority
15. Do not be condescending, argumentative or overbearing
16. Follow up conversation with confirmation in writing.
17. Get a commitment from them verbally and follow it up your understanding in writing.

If you have followed my newsletters or attended one of my seminars you will remember that according to “Gman” the definition of a commitment is an agreement to do something…..anything…but an agreement just the same!

What you should hope to accomplish is the opportunity to gather a barrel full of information that can help you plan, execute and/or include them so that they feel warm and cozy as well. The goal is to uncover why they choose to put up a wall when no wall is needed. Then develop a plan you can all live with and work it to the max. This issue is huge and all scenarios can’t possibly be covered in a few short paragraphs, but I certainly hope this helps.

As always please accept my wish for a tremendous week. If I can ever be of assistance to you or your organization, please call or write and I will respond immediately! Your suggestions and questions for future newsletters are always welcome.

George F. Mancuso
George F. Mancuso, CPC