RobertSchultek

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.

Managing the “Gorilla” Customer Relationship 

 

Bob Schultek
Author of The Gauntlet

When your business with one customer exceeds 25% of your annual sales, then you have a “gorilla” customer and you’re probably feeling vulnerable. You’ve earned the business by serving them well, and if they offered you more, you’d likely be pleased to expand the relationship, but be wary.

Loss of a gorilla customer can be devastating, and typically that loss has nothing to do with your performance. The 3 top reasons these customers depart are:

There’s a change in your contact(s), and the new person(s) cares nothing about your relationship;
Your customer is acquired by or merged with another large entity, and they no longer need you;
The customer decides to consolidate suppliers or move the work in house.

Here are some warning signs that your vulnerability is growing:

You discover that you are consistently compromising the profitability of your business to serve your largest customer;
So much of your company’s time is consumed serving your most significant customer that there is no time dedicated to pursuing new business; or
You’ve stopped offering uncommon, “against the trend” advice to your key customer because you are afraid to lose them, even though this helped you originally earn their business.

To […]

3 Steps for Conflict Resolution 

 

Bob Schultek
Author of The Gauntlet

The pursuit of change generates conflict, which when left unresolved, inhibits progress, wastes energy, destroys relationships, and potentially, can threaten the success of the enterprise.

Conflict is a natural consequence of change management. Change initiatives are accomplished by first revealing the basis for differences of opinion that are generating tension, and then productively and collaboratively working to resolve those disparities. Most often, the root cause of conflict is ambiguity about how the proposed change will be implemented, and how it will likely impact the participants and other stakeholders. It’s the result of people operating from different assumptions about their respective responsibilities, and related accountability; it typically is not the result of either incompetence or bad intentions.

These 3 steps help eliminate the ambiguity that inhibits conflict resolution:

Keep the focus on debating ideas, not on the people proposing them.When exploring different ways to resolve a conflict, deliberations should concentrate on the pros and cons of contradictory ideas about how best to proceed, not on perceived personal motivations. Make it clear that personal attacks will not be tolerated.
Create a contract around a written summary.
Summarize in writing everything that was agreed upon in a meeting or phone call, and distribute it […]

By |June 20th, 2017|Grolistic, Grolistic...No-Excuses Growth Blog|0 Comments

Positive Accountability

 

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet 

Accountability: “The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.”When something goes wrong and the finger pointing begins, that is how most people perceive accountability. But success as a leader or as a productive team cannot occur without it. When accountability is front-loaded into strategy, early in implementation, before the outcome is known, then it strengthens relationships, eliminates surprises, improves performance and enhances job satisfaction.

The key to using accountability in a positive way is to provide specific details and clear expectations prior to strategy or project implementation. Then, producing a successful result involves securing continuous feedback.

At the start, after you have described your expectations with specificity (“success means/looks like…”), ensure that your team clearly understands your message by asking: “How do you interpret what I’ve just said?”

Set a high testing standard to measure quality, and as the project proceeds, frequently secure feedback about progress from all stakeholders: your team, customers, etc.

Accountability will be seen as positive when your commitments have been fulfilled in the eyes of others. For accountability to be utilized in a positive manner there must be clear […]

By |June 13th, 2017|Grolistic, Grolistic...No-Excuses Growth Blog|0 Comments

The Antidote for Commoditization 

 

Bob Schultek
Author of The Gauntlet
rschultek@grolistic.com
216-272-4449
   

The market is tilted in favor of commoditization – easy access to information about multiple options, a simplistic assessment of those options to fit them into pre-determined boxes, and little time or interest in exploring alternatives beyond what is evident through readily available information.

Responding to your inquiries without discovering why solving the prospect’s problem is important to them just reinforces their perception of you as a commodity supplier. It wastes the opportunity to be distinctive, the chance to reveal how your knowledge and expertise can make a difference for them.

Engaging the prospect in a discovery process before responding to an inquiry:

Takes you beyond stated needs and problems to learn how the prospect defines value or success;
Enables detection of why solving the problem is significant – unmet goals, unfulfilled strategies;
Uncovers barriers that are inhibiting progress, raising frustrations and fear;
Heightens the prospect’s recognition that prompt action is needed;
Expedites your understanding about the prospect’s decision making process.

Discovery is asking the right questions, in the right order, to uncover a prospect’s stated and unstated needs, and why they are important. What’s the current situation? How does resolving it support success?What’s inhibiting progress? What benefits arise […]

By |June 6th, 2017|Grolistic, Grolistic...No-Excuses Growth Blog|0 Comments

Your Attitude, Your Choice 

It may seem that your attitude, the way you feel, depends on how things are going for you. But in reality, how you choose to feel affects the way things are going. Your attitude reflects your most heartfelt expectations.

Every day, you make the vital choice about your attitude. This choice is significant because it impacts every part of your life – your thoughts, words and actions are all driven by how you choose to feel today.

Will you choose to be optimistic, to collaborate, to help others, to be curious, to challenge the status quo, to give people the benefit of the doubt, to promote hope versus fear when things are uncertain?

When confronted with a challenge, will you react with energy or seek shelter?

Through your attitude, you select which of this day’s many offerings you will accept; no one is arbitrarily forcing you to choose what happens to you today. Whatever choice you make, that is how your day will unfold.
What benefits could result from the choices you make today?
 

What consequences could occur?

By |May 30th, 2017|Grolistic, Grolistic...No-Excuses Growth Blog|0 Comments

3 Steps to Ensuring Team Commitment

 

Leaders seeking commitment from their teams regarding the implementation of a decision often encounter delays as a team pursues consensus and certainty. Living with the reality that decisions must be made promptly, and typically with limited time for research or analysis, is a fact of life for leaders; they understand that these circumstances could lead to a decision being wrong. But their teams may struggle with this reality as they work towards committing to the decision.

Commitment is possible when there is clarity about its impact and unanimous team agreement that fosters confidence about the support of every team member to proceed, without lingering doubts that might later diminish support.

Failure to secure this team commitment will generate ambiguity among the team about direction and priorities, producing discord and conflict within the organization. Hesitation and fear of failure grow as second guessing becomes the norm. Opportunities disappear because reaction times are too slow.

Consider these 3 steps to ensure team commitment:

Clarify and confirm your message.  At the end of team meetings, summarize decisions that have been made, identify employees and other stakeholders that will be impacted by the decisions, and agree on precisely what will be communicated to these stakeholders.  This post-meeting […]

By |May 23rd, 2017|Grolistic, Grolistic...No-Excuses Growth Blog|0 Comments

The Sale Tale

Without customers, there is no business. New orders from these customers are the lifeblood of every company. As a result, sales teams are incented to close more orders.

But getting the order is only the beginning of the sale tale. Until the customer pays the invoice, new orders are just promissory notes, reflecting your commitment to deliver your promised solution and the customer’s promise of payment if satisfied. The order may be booked, but the sale isn’t closed until you get paid.

Compensating a sales team exclusively on orders booked, without consideration of all that is required to fulfill your solution’s promise, satisfy the customer and get paid, does nothing to help your team build enduring customer partnerships or raise appreciation about how producing promised results for the customer sustains the success of your business.

Every day that payment is delayed – because results didn’t match your promise, or delivery took longer than what you specified, or your quoted price didn’t reflect the customer’s history of paying later than agreed terms – reduces the value of the booked order for your organization. Why? Because to deliver what is promised, your business invests resources to produce and deliver your solution, and then waits […]

By |May 16th, 2017|Grolistic, Grolistic...No-Excuses Growth Blog|0 Comments

Inspiring Improvement

Bob Schultek
Author of The Gauntlet
rschultek@grolistic.com
216-272-4449
   

Pursuing improvement means tackling change.

Change is hard work…it requires commitment, perseverance and discretionary effort.
 
Commitment, perseverance and discretionary effort cannot be commanded…they must be inspired.

Inspiration rises when people believe that their work is meaningful…that they are making a difference.

The awareness that work is meaningful springs from the expression of a Company’s Purpose and how consistently its leaders and people act in accordance with that Purpose.

Only the people in a business can change it, and they will only invest the commitment, perseverance and discretionary effort required to do so if they believe that their actions can make a difference.

Inspiring improvement begins with a declaration of Purpose.

How are you inspiring your people to invest discretionary effort?
 
When was the last time you pondered your organization’s Purpose?

The 2 Sides of Promise

Bob Schultek
Author of The Gauntlet
rschultek@grolistic.com
216-272-4449
  

Customers don’t buy your product or service – they buy the benefits your solution promises to produce. The most compelling solutions generate strategic value, a quantifiable financial advantage that stimulates customer growth, paired with a strengthening of their distinctiveness and competitive advantage. These promises cultivate enduring relationships when they are fulfilled.

Delivering what you pledged to deliver is the other side of your promise. Without fulfillment, your promise is a wasted gesture that breeds mistrust.

Your sales team can book a record number of orders, but if your operating teams choke on the influx of business, and can’t deliver what you promised when you promised it, then the record-setting sales effort will generate frustration rather than additional orders. You can demand that your people ship all orders on time, and if they are committed to your business, they will do their best; but consequences will arise, ranging from quality problems to employee burn-out. To give your order fulfillment people, your promise keepers, the best shot at success, encourage them to continuously increase throughput by improving operational processes that boost quality, efficiency and capacity, in addition to cash flow, so you can capitalize on order growth.

To grow a business, […]

Challenging the Status Quo

Bob Schultek
Author of The Gauntlet
rschultek@grolistic.com
216-272-4449
   

Implementing standard procedures helps sustain the consistency and quality of work, usually boosting productivity. But the drive for conformity has a price. It increases bureaucracy which can inadvertently stifle the very creativity and initiative you ask your people to practice, potentially compromising innovation and improvement. The same conformity that delivers greater reliability, risk-proofing and safety can breed a fear of failure and a drift towards mediocrity.

Since leaders are expected to cultivate an environment of continuous improvement and productive change intended to improve results, while preserving a level of stability which ensures that quality work gets done, keep change efforts focused on targets where the benefits can be quantified and validated.

Investigate a novel technology that disrupts the conformity without increasing risk, and strengthens your competitive advantage. Accelerate your response time or time-to-market. Change the infrastructure, the rules or the flow of information to empower or quicken decision-making.

Challenging the status quo does not mean destroying what has worked; it means making it work better.

How does your organization identify continuous improvement opportunities?
 
How do you prioritize these opportunities?

By |April 25th, 2017|Grolistic, Grolistic...No-Excuses Growth Blog|0 Comments