Monthly Archives: July 2010

Working On vs. In the Business – Six Thoughts for your Staff

Situation:  The Company created five customer-centered divisions headed by Business Development Managers (BDMs) who oversee project management as well as business development in their markets. A year after implementation, the BDMs are more focused on managing their teams than on developing new business. How can we enhance focus on business development?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Your BDMs are technicians; business development (BD) isn’t their strength.
    • People gravitate toward important/urgent activities in their comfort zone.
  • Supplement your staff with people who have a proven talent for business development.
    • You may not need 5 people – 2 or 3 may be sufficient to support the BDMs.
  • What if our customers demand technical expertise in business development personnel?
    • Make category expertise a requirement when hiring, in addition to experience in BD.
    • There are specific traits that characterize successful BD personnel. Specify these traits in your hiring process and verify these abilities in candidates both by testing for these traits and through reference checks. The Sandler Organization has good tests for BD talent.
  • The BDMs are responsible for coordinating bidding and pricing. Should this responsibility be handed over to the new BD personnel?
    • Not completely. You have two options.
  • Require BD personnel to coordinate with the BDMs when it comes to pricing and project delivery, and/or
  • If you determine that the BD personnel need to be able to negotiate pricing on their own, tie their commission compensation 100% to margin on projects bid.

Key Words: Sales, Business Development, Customer-Centered Organization, Hiring Requirements, Hiring Selection, Collaborative Sales, Compensation 

Whadayamean an Annual Plan . . . Really? Nine Guidelines

Situation: The CEO has developed an annual plan and wants ideas on the best way to communicate the plan to staff, secure buy-in and create accountability for execution.

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Communicate your vision for the company and the future as a broad outline so that employees know how they can contribute. Create a picture so that they can see and support your vision.
    • Ask for input on how to implement the plan. Since they will be doing the work, the best way to generate buy-in and accountability is for them to own the implementation plan.
    • You don’t have to share all details of the plan with everyone. If you communicate the plan in parts to those who will implement them, tailor the message to the person, and create individual objectives that will support the overall plan. Connect achievement of objectives to job evaluations.
    • Limit the number of objectives for each person – three key objectives plus one personal development objective. Have each employee develop activities to support achievement of their objectives.
  • Once objectives are in place, conduct regular meetings to review progress against plan and objectives, identify performance obstacles and solutions, and to reinforce the overall vision.
    • The vision must be simple and direct. Consistently repeat and reinforce the message. Publicly recognize individual contributions that support the vision.
    • Establish metrics to track progress toward the vision.
    • Stay on message with each person – focus on their goals and contributions.
    • Be consistent in your words and actions and use them to reinforce the vision.

Key Words: Business Plan, Annual Plan, Vision, Message, Buy-in, Accountability, Performance Objectives, Metrics 

My Worst Nightmare – Sell or Downsize? Fifteen Considerations (Part 2)

Situation: The Company is losing money and has been approached about a merger. The CEO’s ideal outcome would be to get cash on the table, integrate with the merger partner and continue business. The other alternative – downsizing – may hurt company morale. What are the best options available?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The downsizing experience is wrenching, but results were far more positive than expected.
    • A 10% cut resulted in a 30% increase in productivity.
    • Employees once thought to be critical were not missed post-layoff.
    • The employees generally understood more about the situation than the CEO knew, and those remaining responded positively to a restructuring that allowed them to keep their jobs.
    • Some companies used a layoff as an opportunity to cross-train employees and increase company flexibility.
    • If concerned about loss of key talent, consider rehiring a laid-off employee on a consulting basis for a limited period.
  • Smoothing the layoff process:
    • Communicate with the employees. Let them know the truth, and share enough of the situation so that they understand.
    • Challenge employees to come up with ways to save money or make processes more efficient and cost-effective. This can have a remarkable impact.
    • Consider a cross the board salary reduction as a temporary alternative to layoffs.
    • Position as a layoff to restructure expenses – keeps you on the right side of employment law.
    • Obtain assistance from a personnel consultant who can help to handle the process effectively.
  • Summary: If you can save expenses, return to profitability and stay independent you will be happier than you may be post-merger.

Key Words: Merger, Negotiation, Ownership, Downsizing, Mitigation, Layoffs, Profitability 

My Worst Nightmare – Sell or Downsize? Fifteen Considerations (Part 1)

Situation: The Company is losing money and has been approached about a merger. The CEO’s ideal outcome would be to get cash on the table, integrate with the merger partner and continue business. The other alternative – downsizing – may hurt company morale. What are the best options available?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The realities of mergers:
    • 70% of mergers fail, and the merger process often leaves founders with a minority stake in the company.
    • Experience of others with partners has been disappointing – better to control your own destiny.
    • Look at all alternatives before you jump into a merger. You founded the company and have brought it this far. The company will be a different company following a merger, and not the company that you founded or have led to date.
  • Message to your potential merger partner:
    • Be a reluctant bride.
    • “We are making improvements to return to profitability and I’ve joined a board of CEOs who are consulting me through the process.”
    • If the partner sweetens the offer to keep the merger on the table, make sure that you get 51% of the merged company and retain control of your own fate.
  • Reconsider downsizing – Others have found the downsizing experience wrenching, but with far more positive results than they expected.
    • More on this in the next ceo2ceos blog.
  • Summary: look more closely at your situation before your jump into a merger. If you can save expenses, return to profitability and stay independent you will be happier.

Key Words: Merger, Negotiation, Ownership, Downsizing, Mitigation, Layoffs, Profitability 

WOW – Great Press! Now what do we do? Five Follow-ups

Situation: We just issued a press release that generated great media coverage. This resulted in increased call traffic and “hits” to our web site. How can we to leverage this response into sales?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Everything starts with a Marketing Plan. Without a plan, there may be little that you can do right now. The most important benefit is that you’ve established a presence in your market that may make it easier to gain coverage from future press releases.
    • What can you do short-term? Try to use reverse DNS to look up the email addresses of those who recently viewed your site. These will enable you to send email materials to capitalize on interest once you have a plan.
  • Develop a holistic marketing plan, including incentives for prospective customers to respond to your product or service offering.
    • When your marketing plan is in place, send out a series of timed press releases to develop and maintain interest in your technology.
    • Feature your offering and incentives both on your web site and in non-web collateral for prospects and leads.
    • When interested customers respond by visiting your web site or calling, use the incentives to convert this interest into sales.
    • Put different response codes on web, snail mail and other collateral so that you can track the source of leads. This will tell you which channels generate the most and highest quality leads and will improve future planning, budgeting and allocation of resources.

Key Words: Press Release, Lead Management, Lead Conversion, Lead Tracking, Marketing Plan