Tag Archives: Incentives

How Do You Prepare for a Difficult Conversation? Three Suggestions

Situation: The CEO of a family business faces his most difficult conversation. One brother, who makes more than anyone else, is not living up to his responsibilities. A long-term key employee currently handles most of this brother’s responsibilities at a modest salary. The CEO is intimidated by this task. How do you prepare for a difficult conversation?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Call a meeting of the three brothers and the key employee. Propose putting all four into a pool. The key employee is treated like a brother. Ask: what is a fair way to split the pie and to build incentives so that each makes what their father, who built the company, made? Make it clear that all four members of the team want the same earning potential and that one team member is not more equal than the others.
    • Prepare and script this meeting ahead of time.
    • Don’t allow the under-performing brother to play the others off against each other.
    • Know what must be said if this brother says he will leave.
  • The CEO must stick with the message. If the underperformer doesn’t like the message, he is not indispensable. A replacement could be hired for far less than he is currently being paid.
  • What are the key points for the conversation?
    • Turn the question around – the brothers all joined a company model that no longer works – the three brothers, combined, make less than their father made.
    • Ask the underperformer – what are the proper incentives? What is fair? Is it fair that for years, he has made more than anyone else?
    • It’s time for each member of the team to work together to figure out how to make what their father made in this business.
    • The brothers have supported the underperforming brother for years. Any old debts that were owed have been paid.
    • Ask the underperforming brother for his voice in how to expand the company and make it more profitable.
    • This is a new game. If all members pull together everybody wins.

How Do You Sell in an Uncertain Environment? Six Suggestions

Situation: A company’s customer base is experiencing market softness and uncertainty. Customers are tightening budgets and delaying purchase decisions. How do you boost sales in an uncertain environment?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Offer incentives to prompt customers to buy now instead of waiting. Two potential options:
    • A limited time discount – Sign by <date> and save X%.
    • Pre-announce a price increase. Follow this with a promotion – buy now, before the price increase.
  • If you are selling a service, package your service options in smaller chunks while pricing them so as not to erode your margins.
  • Consider 30 day trials for $X, or discounted pricing for large or committed long term purchase contracts.
  • Examine your sales process. Are your sales people speaking to the right people? Try to move the sales process up a level if this gets you to the decision maker.
  • If some of your sales people are significantly outperforming others, give them incentives to share their sales techniques with other members of the sales team.
  • If the issue is sales productivity, leverage someone else’s sales team through a partnership. The partner incurs the sales cost while you focus on implementation.
    • Look for opportunities where a partner can sell your product on top of theirs to boost value of the overall offering and increase their own top line.

How Do You Select The Right Strategic Partner? Three Guidelines

Interview with Jim Soss, CEO, Red Aril

Situation: A rapidly growing company is expanding both in its primary market and into new verticals. A number of companies are interested in strategic partnerships. How do you select the right partner in the right space?

Advice:

  • At the end of the day it’s about a connection with the partner which extends across both organizations.
    • Look for cultural synergy with the other company. Do your and their managers and employees “click” or are they oil and water? This is a gut assessment.
    • Is the quality of people in both companies complimentary? Is there similar drive for quality and attention to detail?
    • Will technical integration be smooth? Are systems complimentary? At a minimum are there the right skills on both sides so that this won’t hinder the project.
    • Are sales and marketing approaches compatible? Will teams be able to work together? What about other departments?
  • You need to have strategic commitment across both organizations.
    • Partnerships don’t work if there is only alignment at the top. Executives can’t shove a new opportunity down the throats of those who report to them. There must be excitement about the opportunity across both sides of the partnership.
    • There must be complimentary competencies, capabilities and commitment.
    • Is there a clear understanding of the goals and objectives succeed?
    • Reward structures and incentives must be aligned down through the two parties. Conflicts will lead to struggles.
  • There must be a strategic alignment between the two organizations so that both see the partnership as complementing their broader strategic plans.
    • There must be a fundamental strategic win-win. The venture must be seen by each party as core to their business, plans and results. If this isn’t present, the collaboration can be drowned when a better opportunity that comes along.
    • Look for some gauge that the partnership is as important to the other party as it is to you. What other partners do they have? Is the size of the opportunity enough so that you are assured of their ongoing attention?

You can contact Jim Soss at jsoss@redaril.com

Key Words: Partner, Partnership, Connection, Culture, Synergy, Quality, Integration, Systems, Complimentary, Commitment, Alignment, Capabilities, Rewards, Incentives, Strategic Plan