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.

Leadership and Change

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Leaders drive change. Whether reacting to an external challenge that threatens the business, or proactively disrupting the status quo to improve performance, leaders and change are inseparable.

The most visible leadership stories describe triumphs over trouble, departures from the past, doing what has never been done, or going where no one has ever been. Every story is about challenge and change.

The same is true for those who lead their businesses every day without notoriety – committed leaders like you, pursuing improvement at every level of your organization to earn sustainability and success. You may be challenging what is possible and pursuing a new opportunity, or fighting complacency by disrupting established practice in pursuit of improvement.

Wherever your change energy is directed, there will be uncertainty, disruption, fear and discomfort among those you lead. People do not readily embrace change. But leaders recognize these emotions as necessary ingredients in a change initiative, leveraging them to focus energy and to encourage their people to persevere in meeting the challenge.

Leaders who remain actively engaged in the change process influence and inspire those they lead to invest the required discretionary time and effort necessary to achieve targeted results, while avoiding a drift towards demotivation.

Leaders are expected […]

By |March 6th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Two Directions for Culture

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Culture tends to move in one of two directions, and as a leader who influences which path your organization and team will take, you have a decision to make. It’s a choice that impacts how you work with others in the organization and the investments you make in your business and yourself.

One path leads towards more openness and transparency. Turn the other direction for control and dependence.

Does your business benefit if your people are smarter, faster and more connected to one another and to your market than they used to be?

Are you hoping that those you serve become more informed, or is greater focus on conforming to the established standards more important?

Are you helping your people gain confidence and mastery in their work, or is fear of failure a better motivator?

Are you encouraging those you lead to pursue greater autonomy or less?

Do you want your people to feel comfortable offering suggestions, or are you concerned that doing so causes confusion and wastes time?

Do you seek productive change or more control?

Leaders and organizations follow one of these paths every day.  Will you pursue more openness or more control?

What’s your choice?

By |February 28th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Transaction or Investment

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

When a customer requests a proposal, how do you respond?

If you propose a solution that merely resolves the stated problem, then you may relieve the customer’s immediate pain without ever discovering how your solution could help the customer succeed in the longer term. Your solution is a transaction, a one-time resolution that wastes an opportunity to reveal your organization’s broad experience and competency in a way that differentiates you in the eyes of the customer.

But if, prior to proposing your solution, you probe to discover why resolving the need helps the customer succeed, how solving this problem relieves the pain while supporting the customer’s goal achievement, then your solution becomes an investment in the customer’s future. Learning more about the customer’s current circumstances, and how their problem is constraining their progress, opens the door to a discussion that transforms your solution – from the resolution of a short-term pain into an opportunity to impact longer term success. It’s a discussion that enables you to leverage your portfolio of experience, expertise and competency, revealing your distinctiveness and your commitment to the customer’s success.

Acting with urgency to relieve a customer’s pain faster than the competition generates transactional value in the customer’s eyes, and it feels […]

By |February 21st, 2018|Grolistic|0 Comments

3 Questions Your People Ask About You

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Leaders rely on feedback from their teams as one metric to gauge their effectiveness. Asking each team member what’s going well and what can improve produces some insight, but empathetic leaders seek a more comprehensive perspective that explores how their credibility and intentions are perceived by their teams.

To gain this perspective, these leaders suppose that their personnel are asking 3 questions about them:

1. “Do you care about me?” Does an employee invest energy, talent and discretionary effort to help an organization succeed if that person believes that no one cares about him or her? By sharing experiences, ideas and suggestions to help their teams achieve goals and develop their competencies, leaders demonstrate that they do care about the success of their people as well as their company.

2. “Can you help me?” When an employee asks a reasonable question, the leader’s response communicates more than an answer. Given typical time pressures, the temptation is to respond promptly so that no additional thought is demanded from the inquirer. But certain questions present teaching moments for leaders. These are opportunities to respond with a question or two that educate the inquirer about the rationale behind a specific policy and procedure. Helping an employee […]

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

When Growth Stalls

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

When growth stalls, the need to reassess strategy, people and process becomes urgent.

The people evaluation may considers the “right person-right job” question, balancing an individual’s performance against the consistency of actual versus expected behaviors.

The process evaluation may challenge best practices. What has worked well to deliver productivity with consistent quality versus what can be improved, by how much and how soon.

The strategy evaluation is typically the most comprehensive assessment, often beginning with a review of the latest SWOT analysis, challenging the premises that drove existing strategies, and testing strategy adaptability to changing market conditions. Alternatives to current strategy that were previously rejected are reconsidered. But this typical process often omits a critical first step opportunity.

Before assessing the SWOT, the premises, the strategy adaptability, etc., think about this moment as a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to revisit the purpose that drove the original business proposition. Rather than assuming that your purpose is unchanged, rediscover why the business exists and reexamine how, in the beginning, you planned to make a difference in your market.

When you reflect on the success you’ve earned, what makes you most proud? Are you making the difference you expected? What would be lost if your business vanished?

What makes your business distinctive and valuable to customers? What competitive advantage do you “own” in your […]

By |February 7th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

3 Attributes That Boost Customer Loyalty

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

When asked why they are loyal to a particular supplier, customers don’t award the highest grade to outperforming competitors on product or service, or to securing a better price-to-value ratio than the competition. The highest grade is consistently awarded to the sales process they experienced. The primary driver of customer loyalty is the sales experience itself.

A salesperson or business that respects the customer’s time by demonstrating urgency and efficiency earns preference. Sales representatives who help customers lift their heads to think strategically about the future, and share information about new issues and trends in the market, are perceived as trusted partners.

More than demonstrating exceptional professionalism or proven problem solving skills, the 3 selling experience attributes that most drive customer loyalty are:

Providing valuable insights on market trends and competitive activity;
Helping evaluate alternative approaches to minimize decision risk;
Remaining engaged after a purchase, providing ongoing support and counsel.

In this dynamic economy, customers are seeking to learn, not just to purchase. Exceptional salespeople and organizations realize that winning customer loyalty involves understanding the customer’s business and goals, and committing to support their long-term success.
How often does your sales team demonstrate these 3 attributes?
How can you boost customer loyalty?

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

What’s Your Return on Customer Service?

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Increasing activity with current customers is still the most productive, profitable means of boosting sales revenue. And the service level experienced by the customer is a core driver of this increased activity.

In today’s market, access to information is so effortless that many products are seen as commodities and the life cycle of a technical competitive advantage is a long weekend. Providing exceptional service, that saves your customer time and money, is a proven differentiator.

A customer service representative creates a memorable, personal experience by recognizing the customer, actively listening to the inquiry or need, and providing potential solutions in an efficient, knowledgeable manner. To your customer, these folks are your company – folks with unlimited access to your customers.

How much time is wasted, how much customer frustration is amplified, how much money is lost due to delays in resolving customer problems?  How many opportunities for repeat business vanish because your service level reveals a lack of respect or appreciation for the customer’s business? How much of your customers’ satisfaction is impacted by your customer service reps?

Your customer service function is a profit center, not a cost center. Invest in your customer service team, discover what they think and what they need, and then empower […]

By |January 24th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Inspiring Initiative

Bob Schultek
Author of 
The Gauntlet

Leaders are change agents – they are expected to drive productive change that improves results.  There are always processes to be improved and problems to be solved. And since their people are busy doing their jobs, leaders require an investment of additional time and energy from their team to pursue change. This is a commitment that cannot be compelled; it’s an investment of discretionary initiative that can only be inspired.

Inspiration is more about heart than head. It leverages meaningfulness and how deeply individuals believe that they can make a difference.  Contributing to a change initiative enables team members to increase the impact of their work, while elevating their visibility and sense of self-worth.

Leaders seeking to inspire initiative within their teams – to unleash untapped innovation, creativity, and risk-taking – must first help their teams connect with this aspiration for meaningfulness.  Discussing the following questions can generate the emotional links that clarify purpose and enable inspiration:

Why does our company (or team) exist?  How do we make a difference for our customers (or our company)?
Why is this important?  What would happen if we no longer existed?
Why do we choose to invest our talents and creative energies in our organization […]

By |January 16th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Ideas Don’t Drive Change

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

We are bombarded with new ideas from all directions. Some are fascinating enough to capture our attention, but usually, they don’t motivate us to change. Our customers share this experience.

What does drive customers to consider change is when clearly proposed benefits generated by ideas, products and services go beyond fulfilling a need, to helping achieve a goal. Making the effort to discover why meeting a need is important, how this helps them succeed, changes everything concerning how a customer feels about what you and your offerings. The generosity and respect revealed by your investment of time and energy to learn a customer’s story and aspirations before proposing a solution, enables them to feel that you care more about helping them make money than about taking their money. It is this feeling, and not the related facts, that actually drive customers to consider a change; facts are used later to validate their decision.

This is the truth that has remained unaffected by all the new methods introduced to help us do business. Customers don’t buy our products and services…they buy our promise about how they will benefit and what more they can achieve if they choose our offering – more connected, more […]

By |January 10th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

A Time for Why & How

Bob Schultek
Author of 
The Gauntlet

It’s a new year, a fresh start. Amidst the resolutions and planning, it’s an ideal time to assess by asking a few basic ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions.

Why were you able to accomplish what you did last year? What worked, and what didn’t?

How can you be smarter? Smarter about process, about planning, about possible effects, about metrics, about leadership, about inspiring your people to invest in building the business?

How will your business make a difference for your customers in the new year? How will you help them achieve their goals and prosper so you succeed? What new idea can you propose to strengthen you both?

Why do your people devote their talents and energy to your business? How do you ensure that they understand your expectations? How might they be encouraged to improve your business? How do you recognize those who contribute to your company’s success?
May your 2018 bring prosperity and fulfillment!

By |January 2nd, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments