Grolistic…No-Excuses Growth Blog

Pulling the Fire Alarm

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

As sales leader, you encourage your team to develop strong customer relationships. Because this takes time, you counsel them about perseverance, commitment and accountability, and enlighten them that they will know that preference has been earned when they are invited to participate in more strategic discussions like new product development meetings.

Like most sales professionals, your team is highly self-motivated, with each member consistently demonstrating initiative. They understand that the trust relationship they have built with each customer can only be sustained if your organization delivers on the promises made by your sales team, on behalf of the organization. They also recognize that their accountability for preserving these enduring relationships rests with promptly solving problems to ensure customer satisfaction.

But are they aware of the limits of their accountability? Which issues are so significant that they require urgent senior leadership involvement?  Do they know when to pull the fire alarm?

Encountering issues like the following can paralyze a sales person who typically knows how to get things done:

Consistently poor service that is causing customers to leave;
Learning that there’s pressure on the shop floor to ship inferior or dangerous products;
Hearing that the customer service phone queue now persistently exceeds targeted response time;
[…]

By |August 15th, 2017|Grolistic, Grolistic...No-Excuses Growth Blog|0 Comments

What Are You Worth?

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

All our lives, we struggle to improve, to advance our careers, and to strengthen the financial well-being of our families. There is genuine value in this pursuit, and during our lifetimes, we’ll have opportunities to make more money. But, is the pursuit of wealth what truly drives you? Is that what defines you?

Most leaders acknowledge that real satisfaction comes from what they do, how they act to overcome a challenge, achieve a goal or build a business. As people of action, their true worth comes from what they do to make a difference. Investing time and energy to produce a significant improvement that positively impacts stakeholders is what makes work meaningful.

And when it’s time to inspire others in the organization to follow their lead, the most effective leaders, relying on their empathy, recognize that those they lead share the longing to make a difference. That realization is what enables leaders to encourage the discretionary effort required to deliver productive change that improves results. The inspiration that motivates people to invest extra time and energy is grounded in the universal aspiration of doing meaningful work that makes a difference.

What drives this need for purpose in us? It’s possible to […]

By |August 9th, 2017|Grolistic, Grolistic...No-Excuses Growth Blog|0 Comments

3 Behaviors That Cultivate Customer Loyalty

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Who in your organization directly interacts with customers? For most business transactions, people still want to buy from people, rather than buying a brand or company name.  Enduring relationships evolve from these personal interactions.

To cultivate customer loyalty, here are 3 behaviors you want your customer contact people to consistently demonstrate:

Generosity
Seek first to learn about potential customers – their story, their needs, their aspirations – and share ideas, trends and suggestions that might produce value for them, without any expectation of an immediate sale. This will surprise them, and they’ll appreciate your openness and generosity.

When presenting potential solutions, lead with the customer’s interests and what you can do for them; this will resonate more than an introduction that focuses on your company’s pedigree.

Every interaction, no matter how seemingly trivial, is an opportunity to add value and enhance your customer’s experience.

“Generosity is the genesis of trust” and trust sustains relationships.

Vulnerability
When doing business, customers find it easier to perceive, judge and commit to companies that provide access to real people. When customer contact people share small personal insights, their vulnerability is revealed, making it easier for a customer to recognize authenticity, a key component of trust building. Asking about a customer’s interests or family, or sharing an emotion, demonstrates empathy and […]

By |August 1st, 2017|Grolistic, Grolistic...No-Excuses Growth Blog|0 Comments

Believe It or Not

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

In today’s marketplace, there’s lots of barking and not much listening. Everyone is in a hurry to inform why they are right, loudly and clearly.

When your debate or pitch isn’t resulting in a dialogue about facts or rationale, when no one is conforming to your ideas or even engaging with you in a productive discussion about competing ideas, then the easy answer is to decide that your audience simply doesn’t know enough.

This assumption often leads to more barking, at even higher volumes, about negative consequences, all in an attempt to address the perceived ignorance.

But ignorance is typically not the problem.
The root cause of this challenge is that your audience doesn’t care about your topic or position, at least not to the depth that you do. And why don’t they care? Because they don’t believe what you believe.
Do you share a common purpose? Do you agree on core values? What creates inspiration for them, touches their emotions?

Logic and knowledge cannot convince when there is no shared belief.

How do you react when your message is not being heard?
 
How can you discover what you have in common
with your target audience?

By |July 19th, 2017|Grolistic, Grolistic...No-Excuses Growth Blog|0 Comments

The Lowest Price Myth

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

When Henry Ford introduced mass production to the fledging automotive industry, his objective was to make Ford cars affordable for everyone by optimizing efficiencies in car manufacturing. But then, he and his team discovered that people didn’t want the cheapest car. They wanted a car that made them feel special – a car with some style, that was safe – a car that they were proud to drive.

Every successful brand is known for something more than their price, even those who have the lowest prices. Reducing price is easy and one-directional.  At first, this action may send the message about commitment to efficiency and better outcomes; but soon, in a competitive market, there’s always someone else that is ready to go a penny lower than you. In the race to the bottom, your choices to compete get ever more limited, leading to brutal consequences that can destroy your organization’s purpose and values, bringing harm to your customers, your suppliers and ultimately, your employees.

What happens if you win this race, or worse, if you come in second?  What will be left of your business? Will it be sustainable? How would having the lowest price make your customers proud to be associated with […]

By |July 4th, 2017|Grolistic, Grolistic...No-Excuses Growth Blog|0 Comments

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