About Bob Schultek

Bob has more than 30 years of service as a senior sales and business development executive, CEO and business owner. His expertise includes customer-partnered business development, strategic planning, sales management, customer service, operational alignment, lean process analysis and improvement, quality assurance, and performance management. He has worked in the energy, medical device, bioscience & pharmaceutical, discrete and process manufacturing, packaging and distribution, communications and information technology, and business-to-business service industries.

Why Buy the Quarter-Inch Drill?

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

“The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling him.” Peter Drucker

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” Theodore Levitt

Customers don’t care about products or services – they want solutions.

Developing a creative, satisfactory solution to a vital, unmet customer need is the origin of many businesses. But as it matures, the business often loses its focus on how it makes a difference for the customer, how it produces value that helps the customer succeed. Companies begin to define themselves in terms of the products or services they sell, rather than by the unique solutions delivered to meet a customer’s crucial need.

This is a natural evolution, typically driven by readily available data generated as a company monitors the products or services sold and the resulting profit produced. It’s much easier to track quantifiable sales or production data than it is to evaluate quantifiable benefits produced for customers. And as more is invested to improve existing products or services, or to increase the efficiency of the operations used to produce them, the pressure grows to pay even more attention to the accessible, operational data than to the customer experience.

It is true that the most […]

By |July 3rd, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Why Teams Bond

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Teams bond when they struggle together to accomplish an objective. Every military, athletic and business leader knows this truth and relies upon it.

Why do team members choose to join in the struggle?

Accomplishing the objective is meaningful. The struggle provides a unique opportunity to make a difference, to contribute to a vital, significant endeavor.

Participating enables mastery. Struggling with the team to overcome barriers enables the mastery of individual strengths that increase satisfaction, self-confidence and self-worth.

Experiencing autonomy drives accountability.
Sharing the responsibility for decision-making, and for the consequences of decisions, increases accountability, engagement, innovation and the motivation to invest whatever energy and talent is necessary to secure a successful outcome.

Since leaders cannot compel teams to bond, they must create the conditions for the bonding to occur. The commitment eventually made by each team member cultivates a shared accountability within the team that drives performance and improves results.

How do you encourage your teams to bond?
What might be done differently to strengthen team bonds?

By |June 27th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Why Innovations Succeed

Bob Schultek
Author of 
The Gauntlet

The pursuit of innovation is a vitally important strategy for organizations seeking to accelerate their progress. Companies dedicate significant time, energy and investment to it, often optimizing the efficiency of their innovation process with the goal of improving their success rate. But what if this effort does not improve their ability to predict which innovations will succeed?

As Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the renowned quality and management expert observed, every process is perfectly designed to deliver the results it gets. If an organization views its pursuit of innovation as imperfect and unpredictable, relying on assumptions about what customers need, what competitors are doing, or perhaps on a bit of luck, then it builds processes that operationalize the perception of a hit or miss proposition. The results of these processes are predictable – mediocrity and disappointment.

Improving the success rate of innovation starts with asking your customers about their strategies, their barriers, and what job they need you to do so they can achieve their goals. The insights you gain will increase your innovation predictability, and improve your results.

What is your innovation success rate?
How frequently do you have strategic discussions with key customers?

By |June 19th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

3 Attributes That Increase Your Value to Customers

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

In a commoditized market, why do customers choose to build enduring relationships with some suppliers? It’s all about the strategic value you produce for them.

Customers cite 3 attributes that increase your value:
1.   Reliability

Customers expect you to keep your promises–it’s the price of admission into the relationship. If your team makes it easy to do business, perhaps delivering exceptional service as well, then your value is increased. What drives value even higher is learning about a customer’s business so you can anticipate needs and solve emerging problems. Treat them as you want to be treated, with personal attention that communicates your respect for the business they share with you.

2.  Generosity

Generosity is the genesis of trust. Learn your customers’ stories and aspirations. Then share ideas, trends and suggestions that can accelerate their progress, without expectation of an immediate sale. Your openness and generosity will further reinforce your value to them.
3.   Vulnerability
Personal interactions are the glue that bonds relationships – people want to buy from people. When your people share their stories and personal insights, their vulnerability is revealed, making it easier for a customer to recognize authenticity and build trust. Asking about a customer’s interests or family, or discussing a shared experience, […]

By |June 13th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Prioritizing Opportunities

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Promptly and efficiently evaluating multiple business opportunities can accelerate your reaction to them; move too slowly and the best opportunities may vanish.

Ask these three questions for each opportunity to prioritize the alternatives by potential strategic value produced for your business:

What quantifiable benefits are produced if the opportunity is successfully exploited?
How soon will these benefits be realized?
How likely will identified obstacles be quickly overcome?

This prioritization will enable you to invest precious resources only on those opportunities that can drive growth, improve results and accelerate progress.

How promptly and efficiently does your organization assess opportunities?
How might these three questions accelerate your process and decision-making?

By |May 30th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Creating Your Future

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Balancing stability with the need for innovation is a key obligation for leaders. The sustainability of your business depends on finding a suitable equilibrium.

Stability pays the bills, relying on structure and standard procedures to boost productivity and ensure high quality that increases reliability and reduces risk. But another consequence of this conformity is the cultivation of bureaucracy that breeds fear of failure, compromising innovation and resulting in a drift towards mediocrity. The more there is to lose, the greater the pressure not to lose it.

On the opposite side of the scale, to accelerate progress and improve results, leaders are expected to drive innovation, not merely react to changes impacting their organization. If adapting to change is your focus, then you’re already behind and your sustainability may be uncertain. It’s innovation that accelerates progress and creates your future by resolving a challenge in your market or promoting your customers’ growth. And because innovation is a truly human endeavor, enabled more by your people’s investment of discretionary effort than by data or technology, its success relies on your ability to influence and inspire.

The future is yours to create, don’t let it just happen to you. Redefine fear of failure to balance the benefits […]

By |May 22nd, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Growth Is About Progress

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

You may believe that your business is not changing but is that true for your customers? How do you know? How will changes they are experiencing impact your business?

Contributing to a customer’s growth is the most sustainable means of building enduring relationships that help your business thrive. Growth is about progress, and progress requires navigating change to succeed now and in the future. Change cultivates innovation, which then enables progress.

According to Clayton Christensen’s book, “Competing Against Luck,” customers define innovation as “a new offering that resolves a challenge and fulfills an aspiration.”

How are benefits generated by your products or services resolving a key customer’s challenge and fulfilling an aspiration? How are you helping a customer progress? How are your offerings stimulating your customer’s growth? How are they strengthening your customer’s competitive advantage?

Answering these questions requires that you discover why customers choose your offerings to help them progress. What goals are you helping them achieve? What jobs are they “hiring” your products or services to do?

In his book, Mr. Christensen describes how this “Jobs to be Done” concept can accelerate a customer’s progress, and boost your growth. Understanding what job a key customer hires your product or service to accomplish strengthens your knowledge about your customer’s strategies and […]

By |May 15th, 2018|Grolistic|0 Comments

What Drives Customer Loyalty

Bob Schultek
Author of 
The Gauntlet

Surveys assessing business-to-business customer loyalty, measured as increased sales per customer over multiple years, consistently cite “selling experience” as the primary driver with a response rate that exceeds 50%; a “lowest price” response typically receives about a 10% rate. Additional response choices include better products or services, brand familiarity, higher performance than competitors, and others.

When seeking to explain how “selling experience” creates this positive impact, it becomes clear that the salesperson’s commitment to the customer’s long term success is the differentiator, as explained by these insights:

“Educates me on new market trends, strategies and outcomes”
“Seeks to learn our goals, our distinctiveness and why our business has succeeded”
“Presents several alternative solutions and helps me evaluate how each produces value for us”
“Remains engaged before, during and after the sale, to ensure promised results are delivered”
“Provides ongoing counsel to minimize my risk and avoid surprises”

These responses clarify that many customers seek more than a purchase transaction; they want to learn, to identify new opportunities, and to explore perspectives they have not previously considered. And they want a committed, trustworthy salesperson to partner with them in this venture.

Organizations that appreciate this reality convert their sales personnel into business leaders, and synchronize their […]

By |April 30th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

3 Core Values of Exceptional Leaders

Bob Schultek
Author of 
The Gauntlet

Leaders are judged to be genuine when their actions are guided by their personal core values. These three values are particularly relevant for leaders who seek to be exceptional:

Accountability. When there is a problem, accountable leaders look first to themselves. They accept responsibility for the consequences of their decisions. They credit their team when things go well, and when problems arise, accept the responsibility rather than blaming the team. When encouraging autonomy, these leaders sustain their responsibility to guide their more self-directed personnel, highlighting the linkage between empowerment and accountability.

Fairness. The willingness to treat everyone with respect defines fairness and marks the exceptional leader. Everyone wants to be seen and heard, and to have a chance to make a difference. These leaders provide opportunities for team members to contribute ideas or improve a process, enabling self-respect and dignity to grow in those they lead. Those whose actions earn them self-respect and dignity expect more from themselves and seek additional ways to make a difference. They become the advocates that leaders need to drive productive change.

Reliability. Reliable leaders ensure that their teams understand their expectations, about goals and behaviors. When teams know what a leader expects, and the leader consistently operates in accordance with […]

By |April 25th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

The Law of Thirds

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

One of the laws governing change initiatives states that those impacted by a change separate into three groups.

One third of the group will immediately support the change. They are the spark that launches it and the energy that sustains it. They ask, “what if?” or “why?” and they’re the first to volunteer with an eager, “I’ll do it.” They are generous with their time and talent, putting in more than they take out, and surprising everyone with their level of commitment.

One third of the group will immediately reject the change. They are the doubters, paralyzed by fear of what the change could bring. They are first to voice objections, barriers and a long list of excuses why the change won’t work. They absorb the energy created by those that advocate for the change, undermining momentum until a positive pace of progress overwhelms them.

The final third are fence-sitters, passive bystanders who attend the meetings and drink the coffee, but do little to add energy to the initiative. They wait to see which group is winning before choosing a side. For a change initiative to succeed, they are the key group that the advocates must win over.

As senior leaders driving change, […]

By |April 17th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments