Category Archives: Business

Win by Controlling What You Can

Every great leader I have ever worked with in business, politics or ministry have all had an incredible ability to focus.

It is this ability that rise above the noise or separate the wheat from the chaff that keeps them moving forward when others get distracted or get knocked back by circumstances completely beyond their ability to affect.

So the key question is what can you actually control? How do you stay focused on what matters?

Whether it is my son’s 10 year-old flag football team, a global sales force, or an executive counterpart, every team and person I have had the privilege to lead has heard me mention and repeat the following (over and over.)

The Key to Success is controlling what you can and the only things you can control is your:

·    Attitude – Your attitude will determine your experience.

·     Effort – Your Effort reflects your willingness to fight.

·     Preparation– Your preparation allows you to make the most of the opportunity when it comes.

Notice what is not on this list:

You cannot control:

·     The Result – Sometimes you lose the game, don’t get the deal. Lean what you can and prepare better next time.

·     Other People (As Much as We would like to) – Some people will not like you, their choice. You control your attitude toward them.

·     Timing – Sometimes people get sick or in accidents. Will this distract you or will you put the effort in and get back to work.

As a leader, people are looking to you. They key is you can help them more effectively fail-forward if you can look at a set-back and say, “Next Time, do we need to improve our attitude, Effort or Preparedness?”

A great cake is made of great ingredients. You don’t fix the cake, you fix the what goes into the cake. Same applies here.

Stuff Happen and most of it you can’t control… Get over it and don’t get so paralyzed by the outcome that you don’t learn from the process.

You will see a multiplication of results by putting your and your team’s focus and attention on what you can actually affect.  Let’s go get better.

Advertisements

2017-4 Keys to an Incredible Year

I have heard from so many how hard 2016 was for them physically, emotionally and Spiritually. My prayer is that God will fling wide the doors that He has for your life and close the doors to the hurt and struggle that so many faced personally and as a collective.  

Four things I know as we enter 2017 full of hope and faith. 

1. I don’t have to understand to believe – God is and will always be in charge. He is not bound by seasons. His love is incredible and constant. He never gives up, gets tired. He is never surprised and He does have an incredible plan for your life. Even if you can’t see it.

2. Persistence builds endurance and resistance builds strength.- “When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”  

3. Your breakthrough is on the other side of your door – God has a plan for you, your family, your mistakes, your triumphs and He is turning your life into a message of hope. 

4. Don’t mistake your plan for His Plan– 2016 was in many ways a challenging one, personally, where I saw some doors close and other incredible doors open in Business and in Ministry. I find myself entering 2017 working on some of the impactful things I have ever done. I have learned that I needed to let go of my plan and embrace the plan God has for me. His plan is truly better.

To make the most of this year, start by asking God to Open what He has for you and then run through that door with great expectations. God is asking you to be you.

You can do “All Things” through God’s strength. Lean in let Him carry the weight. 

Praying this year will be the most incredible in your life.  

So You Want to Build a Sales Team

Every Start-up hits the point where they move from having a couple of sales people to building a sales team.  This might be because sales are taking off or most-likely because you took some funding and were told you had to scale your Demand Generation and Sales.

If only, it was as simple as hiring more sales people. 

Here is some quick and simple advice to help you avoid some common mistakes in building a sales team based on the questions I get most often.

Understand your target customers.  Who is buying your product today and is who is your target customer for the next 18 months?  So much money is wasted because people either hire too senior or too junior of sales people to tackle the challenges of selling to the clients they can close.

Is your sale, transactional and focused on the SMB market or is your solution focused on Enterprise customers?  These are completely different sales and need completely different people. The clearer you are, the less mistakes you will make.

Do you have a sales leader?  You can have 3,4,5 sales people without a true sales leader but if you want to scale a team, you have to hire a professional sales manager.  Alignment, again, is key but they also need to have a sales process they can use to develop the sales people into a team.

They will also help you sniff through a good story and get the right people who can actually do the job.

If you don’t have a sales leader, pay one you know at another company and have them come and help you hire sales people until you find one. 

You will want a simple comp plan….   My Advice…. For One time purchases go with straight percentage and for SAAS, go with 1 to 2X monthly revenue.   Your sales leader will build on accelerators.  Remember, the plan should drive the outcome you want.

You are going to need an CRM.  You can choose to start with Salesforce www.salesforce.com, Insightly, www.insightly.com or Zoho, www.zoho.com.

Most likely, you will end up on Salesforce eventually but by no means do you have to start there as it can be expensive and not necessary until you start integrating other areas of the business.  You do need a sales funnel and visibility.  Start running your sales team from dashboards as quickly as you can to build that culture from the beginning.

Don’t hire dramatically faster than you can scale Demand Gen.

You want to build in the culture of prospecting from the beginning but you do not want a team where at least 30% of the leads are not uncovered through Marketing. If you have more sales people than leads, you are hiring too fast and need to really focus on scaling Demand Gen to avoid wasting money.

If you have too much Demand Gen, your sales team will get fat and will never prospect.  Sounds funny to have too much Demand Gen, but if your sales people can make their number based on incoming leads, you need to hire more sales people.  Otherwise, this will have cultural ramifications for a long time.  Trust me, if there is a limited number of leads, the sales team will work each one of them like gold

Here is a rule I use…

I want the Sales team to uncover at least 50% of their own opportunities.  With all of the tools out there from LinkedIn Sales Navigator, to ClearBit Connect you do not have to rely on cold-calling but you do need to prospect.

Hope this helps.  We will cover Direct or Channel Sales at a different Time.

Let me know the tools you find most valuable and how I can help.  Let’s build great teams together.

 

 

 

 

 

2016 – Give the Gift of Feedback

Throughout the workplace, people are emerging back from vacations, turning their calendars and perhaps wishing they could push the snooze button for one more day…. Just perhaps

The dawn of 2016 also opens the season of annual performance reviews.  This tends to make people want to crawl back under the covers as managers deliver 10-20 of these reports.

Can I challenge you to embrace this season and encourage you to see feedback as a gift that is worth giving; not just once or twice a year?  Let’s make 2016 the year you give people continual and concrete feedback.  Creating a feedback rich environment will cement your culture as a place where “everyone gets better everyday.”

As a leader, it is one of the most significant changes you can make to increase the level of performance, alignment and satisfaction of your employees and co-workers.

Why is this:

  1. Most people are never told, specifically, that they are doing well and where they can improve. You might be the first person to give them effective feedback.
  2. Most people are never shown the outcome of their behavior.
  3. Most people never get supportive feedback that is specific and applicable.
  4. Most people are never told of their blind-spots, until it is too late.
  5. Most people crave it… Certainly the kids of people you want on your team do.

If any of the above is true, why don’t we do it more.

Carole Rubin states it this way..  “But providing feedback to a colleague or a friend can be difficult and scary, especially when it concerns something that is hurting your company or your relationship with that person. That fear, Robin says, is based on a belief that many hold that constructive criticism will harm the relationship…. The reality is that feedback can actually strengthen a relationship, because knowing that another person is going to tell it to you straight creates and builds trust….Taking the risk of providing feedback shows the other person that you are invested in the relationship and willing to take the time to help fix the issue.”

No matter where you have been…Here are some places to start….

  1. Feedback Needs to be Constructive:

Feedback is applying how actions contributed or detracted from the team and its overall performance. Random criticism and nit-picking is not the feedback that will get you anywhere.  Might make you feel better but it not worth the cost.

There is an urban legend of IBM founder Thomas Watson….  The legend goes that a top salesman lost $5 million on a project he’d been working on.

Called to see the boss, the salesman prepared to be fired. However, once he was ushered into Watson’s office, he was surprised to find that Watson cheerfully started discussing the next big project they were planning.

Dazed and confused the salesman asked Watson if he was going to fire him for the loss.  “Fire you?” responded Watson. “Why would we want to fire you when we’ve just spent $5 million training you up?”

The Point:  There are times, you will have to fire someone but if you want an open environment where people get better, you have to do it together, and you have to lead this from the top.  Feedback is not shaming, it is an opportunity to get better.

2.  Feedback Needs to be Consistent

If Feedback is saved for a couple times and year and worse yet, tied to the same time of pay increases, people are so geared up for it that they can not really take it in.  There is just too much emotion.  People also need feedback more quickly on behavior so that these changes can be applied and recognized.

People can only absorb 1-2 things at at time.  If changing behavior was easy…  well, then it would be easy.  It is just not.  Until the robots are ready…  Anyway, think about how you like to get feedback and start there.

Too often we put off giving feedback when someone does something that bugs us. We say, “it’s not a big deal.”  Over time, the person does the same thing again, and again. Now we are hacked off at the person.  This is a leadership issue, not a behavioral one.

The Point.  What gets measured, gets done.  When we focus on constant, consistent feedback, we take the emotion out of it and put the focus on constant and consistent improvement.

3.  Feedback Needs to Focused on Person and Progress

In order for someone to receive and apply feedback, there are a couple of vitals.

They Trust You

OK, there is really ONE vital element for feedback to be effective.

How do you build this trust?

  • Tie Feedback to Their Goals.  Example.”  I know you want to lead this team one day….
  • Make the Feedback Behavior Specific.  This behavior caused this reaction. Specific feedback influences specific behavior.  General feedback changes general behavior.
  • Balance Positive and Negative Feedback
  • Be Transparent – Be open to talking about your journey
  • Be Open and Seek Out Feedback about yourself.

Giving effective come more naturally for some then others but there is no excuse. you may have to practice.  So get out there and practice.  Ask for forgiveness if you come on too strong or unintentionally offend someone.  Let’s get better… Everyday.

So, You Want To Sell the Enterprise?

Every Start-up reaches that point where the “Enterprise” segment becomes the next Step… I mean, just look at all that money. They are big, their logos would look so sexy on your web-site and again, look at all that money.

For some, it is not the appropriate next step. More often, businesses get sunk because of the amount of resources it takes to swim in this pond.

It is OK to dip your toe in and determine what it will take for you to sell to the Enterprise.

Before we start, just because you have soled to a couple of larger organizations have bought from you, does not lean you already to proactively sell to the Enterprise. Listen to the early adopters but most in the Enterprise space are not.

You won’t be perfect at it so move forward and keep getting better. Have an answer for what is below. Even if it not perfect, just don’t be surprised. You need to look like you have been there, even if you haven’t

First, Define what Enterprise means to you. … Global 2000. Fortune 1000, Companies over $1B, Companies over 5000 employees, Large Law Firms, etc. If you can’t define it, please don’t try and sell to it. Remember, Aim small, miss small as you get started. Test everything on your way to big.

Next, Is your product/service Ready?   Time to take a long look in the mirror and ask a couple hard questions:

  • Do we provide value to this segment? What changes need to be made?
  • Does the product of service work the way a large organization will use it?
  • Can we actually roll it out? Even SAAS has to scale.

Now, Can you sell it?

Sales Cycles tend to be much longer as the deals get bigger. Weeks will become months and it will be weeks even after you hear, “yes.”  Here are some of the top things you will have to prepare for:

  1. Security – Whether it is specific regulations like HIPPA, GLBA, or ISO27001, every Enterprise customer has a least one Security Expert whose job it seems like it just to say, “Will this work with our security?”
  2. Liability – You may not have had to deal with this before but get ready and make sure your contracts are tight and your contract team has experience.
  3. Professional Procurement – Welcome to working with people where buying things is their full-time job. They are judged by their ability to get a good deal for their company. .. Not yours. They get things done but also make sure it follows a process. This will not speed up your deal.
  4. Pricing – Don’t, Don’t, Don’t fall into the trap of giving pricing early. You will feel this pricing pressure throughout the sales process. This is a negotiation… from Beginning to End. Too often the eager beaver is stuck eating a toothpick because he gave away the tree.
  5. RFP – These three letters (or the just as nefarious RIP and RFQ) have been written on more tombstones of start-ups who had an innovative solution. You job at this level is to get to the next step. Don’t provide more resources than are necessary but make sure you nail it.
  6. Contracts – The negotiation, the process and the contracts will all of a sudden get longer and
  7. Size – People have to believe your company will be around. People will not risk their job for even a better technology if they think there is a chance. Your bigger competition will drop landmines all over this one.
  8. Cost of Sales – Sales people become more expensive, Cost of sales go up with travel. Make sure you test your way into this as well. Make sure there is substance in your sales team and leaders, not just flash.
  9. Cost of Support – Welcome to Quarterly Business Review, metrics, etc. These customers are going to want a dedicated person or team. They will stand in line for resolution.

Many SAAS and Platform Start-Up companies today are making a killing in the SMB and Mid-Market. Fewer of them have made a significant impact in enterprise. Eventually, you will need to navigate this jump into the ocean of Enterprise Selling like Salesforce, LinkedIn, etc.

We did not touch on using a Reseller Network, VAR and Partners to sell. We will touch on that one later.

You may decide to not play, yet. Continue to let the early adopters teach you as you go. Enterprise Selling will change how your organization Goes-to-Market, so go in with Eyes Wide Open.

What Did I Miss? Would love your thoughts.

Leadership Requires Sacrifice

Real Leadership Requires Sacrifice.

There are many examples of leadership are out there and I have been so blessed to be able to learn from some of the greatest. Three examples are all around us.

Three that impacted me greatly are:

John Maxwell – “Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.”

Marshall Goldsmith – “What got you here won’t get you there.”

John KotterA higher rate of urgency does not imply ever-present panic, anxiety, or fear. It means a state in which complacency is virtually absent.”

No words impact me like the words of Jesus. No one inspires and reassures me like Him. He epitomizes what is it to make incredible impact by loving people like crazy. He was never too busy speaking to thousands that he missed an opportunity to teach the one right in front of him.

In John 10, Jesus lays out one of his most impactful lessons to his disciples. While describing himself, he also lays out what it is to be driven by a vision and how to influence with confidence and sacrifice.

  1. The Gate Keeper Opens the Gate for you – You are recognized. God Open the Door for you. If you are leading your family, your team, your division, your church or your company. You are created by God on purpose and for a purpose. He opens the gate for you and if He opens it, no one can shut it.

You can lead from this place of security. Even if you are not where you thought or wanted to be. God has you in the right place for this season. Lead well, where you are.

  1. The Sheep know your voice and will come to you. – There are specific people you are designed to encourage, reach and impact. Your job is to speak the truth in love, encourage, and help. Those that you influence, will be helped by you. Don’t change what God called you to do based solely on the feedback of people.

Only Jesus was deigned to reach the entire world. Not so with the rest of us. You don’t have to carry that burden. You just have to introduce them to a savior and let Him carry it the rest of the way..

Be impactful to those who are in your lives. Don’t miss out on the miracle God is trying to do through you because you were trying to get more “likes”, more followers or a larger audience. Don’t confuse larger crowds for more impact.

  1. You have other sheep… You just have to find them. As you are impacting those around you, God will call you to reach more. He will increase your influence and part of that may mean that He may move you. He may move you to a different company, a new neighborhood or across the country.

Don’t fall more in love with the comforts of your pasture than that mission that God gave you… to impact and love people.   He will never tire of going after people so we must be willing and obedient when He calls us to go… or even more courageous….to stay.

  1. Lay your life down.…. Willingly… This is where Jesus goes all Gangster on people. He knows he will be taken to the cross, beaten, whipped and crucified. But he says. “No one can take my life from me.   I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want.”

While I am thankful for incredible leadership principles and models, It is only sacrificial, servant leadership that truly changes people.   Models teach discipline and that has a purpose. Sacrificial love changes that heart.

We can’t do this on our own… At least not for very long. We give and then see how people react. What if we loved regardless of people’s reaction.? What if we gave up our paring spot to the guy who flipped us the “One Way to Heaven” while we were driving What if we were the biggest encourager and supporter of the person who got he promotion we wanted?

That love, real love is what will change the world.

Leadership isn’t about a title. Whether you are at the bottom or top of the organization, you are required to lead well.  You have everything you need to accomplish your task today.

You were built for this.  Let’s go Get it.

No Mirage, No Silver Bullet… Now Get to Work

In movies, we often see people lost in the desert and the inevitably come upon a mirage, an optical illusion of water. This is caused by the heat reflection on the sand or the road.

Reason gives way to this false hope and people are driven toward their ultimate doom.

Building a company, a team, an organization or a church can often feel like a long walk in the desert and on this journey we can be tempted to fix our gaze on things way out in the distance.

This can be helpful if it is a mile marker that marks that you are on the right path. If it looks like it’s your solution, it is probably a mirage.

If you are not careful, this will become a fixation.

Here is what it sounds like…

“If we can Only Get…

  • The Next Round of Funding
  • That Executive
  • A New Building
  • That Next Client
  • That Merger

then we will be all set.”

The Truth is a Mirage, no matter how tempting, is just another pile of sand. There is no silver bullet for building an impactful company.

Success looks like waking up every morning, putting the right people in the right places, focusing on your top priorities, working your butt off, honestly assessing, getting smarter and then waking up the next day and doing it al over again.

The quick fix is sexy but the quick fix is a mirage, so stop focusing there and don’t let others do it either.

Focus on your Vision, your Fundamentals, the Value you provide and your processes that will get you there.

Impactful companies and team are built by providing value. They attract and focus on hiring and developing great people and building great products. They do it day in a day out.

Keep your focus on the things that really matter, make tough decisions, keep your good people with you and stay out of the desert.