Fire-Yourself: Re-Energize Your Organization and Management

When management changes were announced at General Motors last December, most people focused on the firing of chief executive Fritz Henderson and his replacement by Chairman Ed Whitacre. The more significant moves, however, were those that took place afterward when Whitacre promoted a number of younger managers to key positions. Taken together, these shifts sent a strong message to everyone in GM that it was time for fundamentally new perspectives.

In an article by Ron Ashkenas, Managing Partner of Robert H. Schaffer & Associates, he writes; “But why did it take a virtual purge for GM’s executives to realize that it was time for a change? Wasn’t bankruptcy, a federal bailout and international embarrassment enough of a wake-up call?

“Unfortunately, the GM situation reflects the reality that most managers have trouble breaking free of their tried and true strategies. Even when we intellectually understand that the world has changed and we need to do things differently, it’s difficult to let go.”

Former GE CEO Jack Welch used to gather his senior executives together in January and tell them to act as though they had just been newly appointed to their jobs. What would they do differently if they approached their work with a completely fresh perspective? It’s a powerful question, and one that most of us never ask ourselves.

Naturally, it’s easier to take a fresh perspective when you are really new and when the assumptions you’re questioning aren’t your own. We’re all more comfortable challenging someone else’s thinking than stepping back and critically assessing our own ideas. That’s why Whitacre needed to shake up GM’s management team—because the incumbents couldn’t get enough distance to challenge the way things had previously been done.

But why wait for your company to get in trouble? Now is a good time for every manager to take stock and think about what they would do if they were starting fresh. Here’s a thought exercise: First, take a deep breath and fire yourself.

Second, consider what you would do to reapply for your job. What would you say in an interview about the changes you would make and the improvements you would engineer? What unique stamp would you put on this new job? How do you feel about the company’s business strategy and the quality of its leadership team?

Answering these questions candidly and constructively cannot only help your business to thrive—it also can re-energize you for the next year.”

Pygmalion and Galatea Effects: Power of Expectations

Pygmalion effect, or Rosenthal effect, refers to the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, often children or students and employees, the better they perform. The effect is named after Pygmalion, a Cypriot sculptor in a narrative by Ovid in Greek mythology, who fell in love with a female statue he had carved out of ivory.

The Pygmalion effect is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy, and, in this respect, people with poor expectations internalize their negative label, and those with positive labels succeed accordingly. Within sociology, the effect is often cited with regards to education and social class.

Galatea is a name popularly applied to the statue carved of ivory by Pygmalion of Cyprus in Greek mythology. An allusion to Galatea in modern English has become a metaphor for a statue that has come to life. Galatea is also the name of Polyphemus’s object of desire in Theocritus’s Idylls VI and XI and is linked with Polyphemus again in the myth of Acis and Galatea in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Though the name “Galatea” has become so firmly associated with Pygmalion’s statue as to seem antique, its use in connection with Pygmalion, originated with a post-classical writer. No extant ancient text mentions the statue’s name. As late as 1763, a sculpture of the subject shown by Falconet at the Paris Salon (illustration) carried the title Pygmalion aux pieds de sa statue qui s’anime, “Pygmalion at the feet of his statue that comes to life”.. That sculpture, currently at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, now bears the expected modern title Pygmalion and Galatea.

Pygmalion Effect: Power of the Supervisor’s Expectations

In the article “The Two Most Important Management Secrets: The Pygmalion and Galatea Effects” by Susan M. Heathfield she writes “Your expectations of people and their expectations of themselves are the key factors in how well people perform at work. Known as the Pygmalion effect and the Galatea effect, respectively, the power of expectations cannot be overestimated.

These are the fundamental principles you can apply to performance expectations and potential performance improvement at work. Every supervisor has expectations of the people who report to him. Supervisors communicate these expectations consciously or unconsciously. People pick up on, or consciously or unconsciously read, these expectations from their supervisor. People perform in ways that are consistent with the expectations they have picked up on from the supervisor.

The Pygmalion effect was described by J. Sterling Livingston in the September/October, 1988 Harvard Business Review. “The way managers treat their subordinates is subtly influenced by what they expect of them,” Livingston said in his article, Pygmalion in Management. The Pygmalion effect enables staff to excel in response to the manager’s message that they are capable of success and expected to succeed.

The Pygmalion effect can also undermine staff performance when the subtle communication from the manager tells them the opposite. These cues are often subtle. As an example, the supervisor fails to praise a staff person’s performance as frequently as he praises others. The supervisor talks less to a particular employee.

Livingstonwent on to say about the supervisor, “If he is unskilled, he leaves scars on the careers of the young men (and women), cuts deeply into their self-esteem and distorts their image of themselves as human beings. But if he is skillful and has high expectations of his subordinates, their self-confidence will grow, their capabilities will develop and their productivity will be high. More often than he realizes, the manager is Pygmalion.” Can you imagine how performance will improve if your supervisors communicate positive thoughts about people to people?

If the supervisor actually believes that every employee has the ability to make a positive contribution at work, the telegraphing of that message, either consciously or unconsciously, will positively affect employee performance. And, the effect of the supervisor gets even better than this. When the supervisor holds positive expectations about people, she helps individuals improve their self-concept and thus, self-esteem. People believe they can succeed and contribute and their performance rises to the level of their own expectations.”

The Galatea Effect: Power of Self-expectations

In this same article Susan M. Heathfield writes “Even more powerful than the Pygmalion effect, the Galatea effect is a compelling factor in employee performance. The manager, who can assist employees to believe in them and in their efficacy, has harnessed a powerful performance improvement tool. I’m sure you’ve heard of the words, “self-fulfilling prophecy.” When applied as the Galatea effect, these words mean that the individual’s opinion about his ability and his self-expectations about his performance largely determine his performance.

If an employee thinks she can succeed, she will likely succeed. Consequently, any actions the supervisor can take that increase the employee’s feelings of positive self-worth; will help the employee’s performance improve. I don’t mean to over-simplify this concept. Many other factors also contribute to the level of an employee’s performance including your company culture, the employee’s life experiences, education, family support and relationships with coworkers.

However, positive supervision is one of the key factors that keep good employees on the job.  Harness the power of the employee’s self-expectations to ensure powerful, productive, improving, successful work performance.”

What is the difference between Pygmalion and Galatea effect?

When people believe in themselves and succeed as a result, it’s called the Galatea effect. Even more powerful than the Pygmalion effect, the Galatea effect is a compelling factor in employee performance. The manager, who can assist employees to believe in them and in their efficacy, has harnessed a powerful performance improvement tool.

The Pygmalion effect, Rosenthal effect, or more commonly known as the “teacher-expectancy effect” refers to situations in which students perform better than other students simply because they are expected to do so. The Pygmalion effect requires a student to internalize the expectations of their superiors. It is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, and in this respect, students with poor expectations internalize their negative label, and those with positive labels succeed accordingly.

Within sociology, the effect is often cited with regards to education and social class. The effect is named after George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, in which a professor makes a bet that he can teach a poor flower girl to speak and act like an upper-class lady, and is successful…

 

SALESMANSHIP: ART, SCIENCE, SOMETHING ELSE?

Salesmanship: There are many definitions, characterizations, descriptions, interpretations, concepts, attitudes, prospective, presentations… Here are just a few that you may find interesting:

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“The Art of Salesmanship Is the Absence of Salesmanship” by Jack Carroll

“My career in sales has undergone three separate and distinct phases or levels of growth. It’s a track I’ve seen in others who have hung around long enough to establish some kind of a pattern, so I thought it might be instructive to discuss them here. The three phases are:

  1. The art of salesmanship is showmanship
  2. The art of salesmanship is the concealment of salesmanship
  3. The art of salesmanship is the absence of salesmanship

Here are the characteristics of each. See if you can recognize where you are regarding the “art of salesmanship.”

  1. The art of salesmanship is showmanship. Characterized by the development of sophisticated and polished presentation skills that almost unfailingly dazzle (but do not always win the business).
  2. The art of salesmanship is the concealment of salesmanship. Characterized by well-prepared, interactive questions that elicits the “right responses” from the customer.
  3. The art of salesmanship is the absence of salesmanship. Characterized by a quiet, relaxed, well-prepared salesperson that forgets every aspect of technique and just listens and reacts in “real time.”

And that, as the wise old sage said is the “true art of salesmanship, and of life.”           ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Salesmanship Lessons From Donald Trump By Mark Stevens

In his bestselling book The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump provided a unique perspective on constructing and negotiating business transactions. But as much as we know Trump as a deal-maker extraordinaire, his greatest skill is his salesmanship. Think of The Donald as a salesman on steroids. And in this lesser-recognized role, Trump practices “The Art of the Thrill”. The “Art of the Thrill” means dress to impress and go big or go home.

Want to know what I mean by this and what we can learn from it for our own salesmanship? Consider the following:

  • Never do things for your customers and prospects in a small way. Make it big and important or don’t do it at all.
  • Everyone likes to do business with a winner. No matter what stage of your career, you need to look like you’ve made it.
  • Bring your ego with you in full bloom. It’s not enough to look successful; you need to act it as well.

You don’t sell: “You Thrill”.

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Top 7 Principles Of Professional Salesmanship by Jonathan Farrington

… I received a call from an ex-student this week, who is designing an induction program for new recruits about to embark on a career in sales. He asked that if one had to create “twelve golden principles of selling”, what I would come up with. I responded that I could do better than that – I could reduce my list to seven!

Clearly this is a very subjective view but mindful of the fact that this exercise is designed to provide guidance to salespeople just starting on the first rung of the ladder, this is what I came up with.

  • Always Sell To ‘People’
  • You Have To Sell Yourself
  • You Must Ask Questions And Listen To The Answers
  • Features Must Be Linked To Benefits
  • Aim To Be Unique – ‘Me First’ Rather Than ‘Me Too’
  • Don’t Sell On Price
  • And Finally: Be Professional At all Times

When I see a bird that swims like a duck, sounds like a duck and looks like a duck; then I call that bird, a duckRudyard Kipling             ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Salesmanship / Personal Selling by Amey Puranik 

“Salesmanship is just personal selling – negotiating, emphasizing inducing and making the prospective buyer to take a decision in favour of going for the product being offered to him. In the words of W.G. Carter, “salesmanship is an attempt to induce people to buy goods.”

Today salesmanship is not only an effort to induce the people to buy. Instead, in the words of Whitehead, it is “the art of presenting an offering that the prospect appreciates the need for it and that a mutually satisfactorily sale follows.”

The mutual satisfaction is greatly emphasized in salesmanship. W. Major Scot has regarded that: “It is a part of a salesman’s business to create demand by demonstrating that the need does exist, although before his visit there was no consciousness of that need.”

On ‘Salesmanship’, G. Blake writes that “salesmanship consists of winning the buyer’s confidence for the seller’s house and goods thereby winning a regular and permanent customer.” Emphasizing on ‘lasting satisfaction’.

Paul W. Ivey defines the term salesmanship as “the art of persuading people to purchase goods which will give off lasting satisfactions.”

Thus, Salesmanship is an art of winning-over the buyer’s confidence so that a permanent goodwill may be built and a lasting satisfaction may be given to him when he gets the product offered to him.

Salesmanship is an “art of persuasion”. Convincing and bringing amount the viewpoint is the job which the salesman has to do to affect a sale. Salesmanship, thus, sells satisfaction. Unless he satisfied, no one will accept him as a man who is practicing the ‘Art of Salesmanship’.”

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“In a Test of Sales Savvy, ‘Selling a Red Brick on YouTube’”, By Stuart Elliott

….. The goal is “recreating the noble art of ka-ching,” said Rory Sutherland, vice chairman for the British operations of Ogilvy & Mather, based in London. “There’s an interesting case to be made that advertising has strayed too far from the business of salesmanship,” Mr. Sutherland said, which is unfortunate because it can be “a good test of how well you understand people and your creativity.”

“Salesmanship has been lost in the pursuit of art or the dazzle of technology,” said Brian Fetherstonhaugh, chairman and chief executive at OgilvyOne in New York. “It needs to be rekindled in this post recession environment, as consumers are making more informed and deliberate choices.”

At the same time, technologies like TiVo and spam filters are putting “the consumer in control,” Mr. Fetherstonhaugh said, so “the salesperson needs to get invited in.”

That means selling is “less about intrusion and repetition,” he added, “and more about engagement and evangelizing.” “If we believe in selling, and our founder was a salesman, we have a special responsibility to reassert the importance of sales,” Mr. Zucker said.

Mr. Ogilvy, who died in 1999, expressed his philosophies in colorful ways. Once, referring to his stove-selling days, he said: “No sale, no commission. No commission, no eat. That made an impression on me.”                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Salesmanship & Marketing Is Your Business! by Grant W Davis in the book “The Habitual Salesman”

“Most businesses fail because of failure to acknowledge or failure to embrace the fact that every business is first a sales and marketing business, and second a provider of goods and or services!  No matter how simple, or complicated your product or service is. No matter if you ever thought of your business as a Sales and Marketing Business.

Salesmanship and Marketing is a trade that can be taught and learned.  Please always remember that no matter how good you are at what you do, or how great your store is, or your service, if you don’t have customers you are out of business.”

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Salesmanship” by Donald DonOmite, in the book “HOW TO SELL – Clear and Simple”

“Salesmanship, the ability to persuade others to buy one’s products, services or ideas, is not necessarily something that a person is born with. Effective salesmanship is comprised of specific abilities and attitudes which can be named and learned. One can adopt and develop these basic attitudes. And if one already has these basic abilities and attitudes in place, but wishes to improve upon them, there are proven ways in which one can do just that.

Two of the basic attitudes which define effective salesmanship are: 1) an orientation to set and reach goals, and 2) a strong sense of persistence. Three of the actual skills or abilities which are required for effective salesmanship are: 1) an ability to win the prospect’s trust, so that his communication with the salesman remains open and honest; 2) an ability to present a product or service in such a way that the prospect builds strong enough interest and desire to want to acquire the product or service; and 3) an ability to smoothly overcome any and all objections which might come up so that the sale closes successfully.

And even more essential to effective salesmanship is a proficiency in the basic “People skills” which underlie and support the techniques of good salesmanship, such as communication skills and the ability to garner agreement.”        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“What Is Salesmanship?” by Mike Sigers

“Have you ever had a customer buy ‘WAY-MORE’ product than he needs? What would you do? Would you leave him to his own devices, or would you hunker down and help?

“What if he had bought 10 times more than he could use in a year? Then what would you do? Would you try to forget the whole thing, try and justify letting them drown in the pool of their mistake? Would you take back some of the surplus? Or would you get in there and help that customer find new avenues for selling the surplus? I’d choose that route and here’s why.”

“If you can help the customer sell 10 times more than they need once, there’s a good chance that they’ll be able to sell somewhere close to that amount again. They’ll also feel a unique bond with you, which should parlay into more sales in the future. And you can use that same avenue with other customers in other areas and hopefully put a strain on your manufacturing division and become a sales hero.

The last time I had the good fortune to have a customer buy WAY-TOO-MUCH product, I checked into a hotel and worked with them every day for a week. Wrote new ads, built displays, came up with a few promotions, called radio stations and worked the phones and sales desk. Within a week, we had sold all his stock.

The customer was relieved and I was enlightened.” THAT is “Salesmanship”!

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Practical Salesmanship by Nathaniel C. Fowler Jr.

“What is salesmanship? There are many definitions of salesmanship”. Here is one: “Salesmanship is a personal face-to-face action or effort on the part of an individual which is intended to bring about the sale of the goods for sale.” And here is another:

“More broadly speaking, salesmanship is the art of selling something to somebody, and everything which contributes to the consummation of this exchange is necessarily a part of salesmanship.”

Considered wholly from a commercial point of view, “salesmanship consists of personal solicitation, the salesman and the customer meeting face-to-face”.  The successful salesman is a natural trader. He is fond of selling. He likes to meet competition, and loves to overcome obstacles. He is a fighter, a strategist. Without this natural ability, more than ordinary success is impossible. Nobody can make of himself what he is not.

The power of self-creation does not exist. If one possesses no trading capacity, he can never sell many goods to anybody anywhere. But even a little ability may be developed into what amounts to about the same as much ability. On the other hand, great natural capacity is worth little unless trained by experience and persistency, that everlasting stick-to-it-iveness which turns failure into success.

Ordinary selling ability can undoubtedly be developed and trained sufficiently to make its possessor reasonably successful upon the road or behind-the-counter.”

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“SALES WITHOUT SALESMANSHIP by JAMES H. COLLINS

A new kind of salesmanship is being developed in many lines of business–and particularly in the rebuilding of sales organizations made necessary by the ending of the war and return to peace production.

Study your goods was the salesman’s axiom yesterday.”Study your customer’s problem,” is the viewpoint today; and it is transforming the salesman and sales methods.”
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“The Lost Art of Salesmanship by Bill Grady

“Salesmanship is a pattern of behaviors. It’s an oversimplification to suggest that knowing the selling system itself will make you successful at sales. It’s sad to say that many people have followed the system to the letter only to fail miserably at selling. This happens because selling systems fail to get to the heart of salesmanship.

Salesmanship depends upon interpersonal behavior, which relies upon attitudes, assumptions, and conduct, but not formulas.”           ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Philosophy of Salesmanship’ by Darren Willger

The Philosophy of Salesmanship is essentially the study of people, words, and things. The aspect of people can be best understood by understanding ourselves. Words and their uses can be taught in a school, but not mastered truly until used in a meaningful manner. Things can be categorized and objectified. Data can be collected about them, and this information you return to the people, your prospects, through the use of words, to accomplish the goal of creating a sale. Master these three things, and you will be able to sell anything. Wisdom Is Important.

To be able to gain wisdom, you must first gain experience, and be able to grab a hold of the appropriate details. Having wisdom allows you to be discriminating in your salesmanship abilities, and also gains knowledge of your prospect. It is one thing to have knowledge, but it is entirely another concept to be wise. A wise sale person will be able to determine the right time to make a sales call based upon local area factors.             ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Art of Salesmanship by Rod Khleif

“A knowledge of selling principles alone is not sufficient. Actual practice in their application is necessary. But knowledge of principles will enable one to get his selling ability into action more quickly and make him a better salesman than he otherwise could hope to be. The art of salesmanship may be defined as the “ability to apply fundamental selling principles to the circumstances of the individual selling situation”.

Selling is definitely an Art. But Art is an applied Science. It is the practical application of knowledge or natural ability. It is possible to make a study of the sales process and the experience and methods of successful salesmen. Because of the many immeasurable human elements involved, it will always remain, to some degree, an inexact science.

Therefore, the term Salesmanship includes both knowledge of fundamental selling principles and the ability to apply them in the actual making of sales. It comprehends both the science and the art.”

Social Media: What is the ROI?

Social media measurement is one of those topics about which everyone has an opinion, but nobody agrees on the solution. The question about how to measure the return on investment (ROI) for social media participation, as definitive, statistic-based metrics seem to be the primary way communicators feel they can secure approval and budget for these programs from their management teams.

 The ROI (return on investment) is how much profit or cost saving is realized, for a given use of money in an enterprise,. An ROI calculation is sometimes used along with other approaches to develop a business case for a given proposal. The overall ROI for an enterprise is sometimes used as a way to grade how well a company is managed.

Return on investment (ROI) measures how effectively a business uses its capital to generate profit; the higher the ROI, the better. ROI is arguably the most popular metric to use when comparing the attractiveness of one investment to another.

Since “Social Media & ROI” is a topic of much discussion it should be interesting to read a few expert commentaries:

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Aaron Uhrmacher, a Social Media Consultant, writes: “If you’re waiting for someone to provide that magic bean, then put away your watering can. It ain’t gonna happen. That’s one of the reasons why I tend to think that social media (by which I mean actual conversations and relationship building exercises, not widgets and Facebook) is more aligned with the goals of a PR program than it is with marketing.

In the absence of any accepted metrics, businesses still need to be able to determine whether or not a social media program is moving the needle, moving product or otherwise making an impact. This largely depends on the company’s social media objectives. Because these dramatically differ based on the organization, it’s impossible to agree upon standards. That doesn’t mean we can’t measure ROI at the company level, regardless of how your company chooses to measure engagement, is that you have a success metric in mind before you begin. Without some sort of benchmark, it’s impossible to determine your ROI.”

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“The Rocket Blog” writes: “It’s all about the relationships, baby! When we are trying to convince people to do social media, the first question they will ask is, “What is the Return on Investment? As in dollars?” Well that is pretty difficult to measure.  “The problem with trying to determine ROI for social media is you are trying to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are not quantifiable,” says Jason Falls from Social Media Explorer.

In social media it is much easier to measure how many people are following you, linking to you and befriending you. The companies that are well known for successful Social Media Marketing (SMM) campaigns will be the first to tell you there is value in SMM but it’s not always measured in dollars. The value is in the relationships that you create with your customers and community”.  
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Augustine Fou writes:  “A year and half ago I wrote the column, “The ROI of Social Media Is Zero”. Today, I assert that the ROI of social media is still zero. Let me explain. A September 2010 survey by ‘Econsultancy’ found nearly half the respondents said they were not able to measure the return on investment of social media activities or even compare it to the return of other marketing activities. This comes on the heels of another study in April 2010 by ‘R2 Integrated’ which showed that the biggest obstacle to using social media is the respondents’ belief that there is not enough data or analytics with which to calculate a return.

Let me introduce a way to think about social media investment which may help to align spending and actions – “social media total value of ownership.” Just like companies shifted to thinking about the total cost of ownership versus the one-time cost of capital purchases (e.g., computer hardware), companies should think of the longer-term “total value of ownership” for social media.

So, if companies start to think of the “social media total value of ownership” or the “lifetime value of social media” they would allocate spending as if it were a longer-term investment to create assets which produce value over time. The short-term, campaign-based ROI of social media will likely still be zero, as the payoff comes in other forms and accrues to the advertiser over time”.

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Joe Chernov, Director of Content for Eloqua, a marketing automation software provider, writes “When it comes to social media, tracking ROI may be fool’s gold. A distraction. A red herring. A trap. It’s something your CMO might demand, but chasing it could be your undoing. Why? Two reasons.

First, social content spreads only when it’s “set free.” A form – even a short one – is the fastest way to “cure” content of its virility. Influencers won’t spread even the most share-worthy materials if their followers are required to self-identify before viewing. To them, gates (and the marketers who install them) tear the very fabric of the social Web.

Avoid the ROI trap by looking instead at leading indicators. Ask what behavior is consistent with your best customers? (Do they view your online demos? Maybe they register for your webinars? Are there pages on your website that they visit disproportionately?) Map the lifts in desirable prospect behavior to corresponding spikes in social media activities. Successful social marketing should correlate to purchase-ready indicators.

The second trap is that blind pursuit of ROI is likely to tempt you into applying a campaign model to your social media efforts. As marketing superstar Paul Dunay of Avaya cautioned, “social media is not a campaign, it’s a commitment.”  To reduce relationship-building to one-off promotions is to reduce a friendship to a single interaction. It just doesn’t work that way.

Of course, it is certainly possible to run a social media campaign designed to accomplish a single objective. Depending on the objective, it may even be relatively easy to assign ROI to the program. But don’t confuse a discrete project with a fully integrated program. Integrating social media across marketing, sales, public relations, events, support and recruiting should be your ultimate goal. Not figuring out how many sales a Facebook contest might have triggered.

When put in that context, it is not only daunting to measure the true financial impact of social marketing … it’s also limiting. A more appropriate comparison would be a lighthouse. How many ships reached port safely thanks to the presence of a lighthouse? The answer, while impossible to quantify, is self-evident”.

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Denis Pombriant, Managing Principal of the Beagle Research Group, a CRM market research firm, and he writes “We’ve been in the “Gee, isn’t this cool technology?” phase for a while now with social CRM, and perhaps that time has been extended by the recession. Fewer companies are willing to take on something that has little track record when the name of the game is revenue. It has to be able to show an ROI. Massive collaboration leads to unique intellectual property.

Sometimes I feel like we’re “Stuck in the Weeds” with social CRM. I know, there are plenty of examples of analyses that say what a wonderful job social media does in connecting everyone or improving the customer experience, but the discussion tends to stop there. If it went on — which, I admit, it sometimes does — it would talk about the wonderful reasons for caring to connect everyone, namely the opportunity for mass collaboration.

Even more important than figuring this out — I am sure you already did, I am just slow — is that for social CRM to be an important attribute leading us out of the recession, it has to be able to show an ROI, and I think this is how you do it. Massive collaboration leads to unique intellectual property. What could be better?

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Dan Robles, Director of The Ingenesist Project, a private think tank in Seattle, writes: “The quick answer is that ROI is indeterminable – get over it. ROI is a static measurement where financial decision makers look into the Crystal Ball to project a future economic outcome which is then be protracted back into the present to arrive at a value of an investment opportunity.  In case you have not noticed, this valuation method is largely bankrupt.

Fortunately, the true visionaries of the next economic paradigm are increasing in numbers and rapidly moving away from the ROI model into something far more valuable simply by asking the serious questions…… David Bullock and Jay Deragon from the ‘Social Media Connection Network’ are investigating the currency of social media where they astutely ask the tough questions, “What are people trading?” and “what is a Tweet worth?” While these may seem like simple questions, they have many an ROI expert stumped. The value of social media is counted in “options” – not ROI. 

ROI is a future projection brought to the present.  “Options” are collected in the present and projected to the future – there is a fundamental difference between the two that must not be overlooked.  People are doing something, they have a plan, they are cooking up a new trick and the ROI is indeterminable…

“Options” have value and obviously people are willing to pay for them with their time at a keyboard, therefore, they are willing to pay for them through any medium of exchange.  This is what people are doing on social media – collecting “options”. The Next Economic Paradigm will provide a means to cash in those “options”. Hold on to your chips, the social media game is far from over”.

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 “What’s the ROI of Social Media?” by Steve Woodruff writes: “I hear that question all the time, and it drives me crazy. What’s the ROI of your cell phone? What’s the ROI of using a computer? What’s the ROI of breathing?

At one point, it was legitimate to think about the ROI of, say, a cell phone. But no more. It’s simply an assumed part of doing business, and living. You might think about the return on a specific model or plan, but you don’t wonder any more if you should use a cell phone or a smartphone. It’s about as much a question mark as getting dressed in the morning.

That’s why it’s silly to ask, “What’s the ROI of Social Media?” Instead, we should ask, “what’s the potential ROI of this or that specific social media tactic or campaign?” Because you don’t measure the ROI of an assumed cost of doing business. You don’t ask for the ROI of a medium. You determine if that medium/channel/approach is going to be a viable and potentially profitable place to be. Then you create a strategy. Then you look at the harder metrics of ROI over time on a tactical level, while also seeking to measure “softer” and, when possible, harder $$ returns on the use of that medium over the long haul.

Social Media/Networked Communications are a fact of life. And, there are some things we do because we know that, in the long run, they make business better. What’s the ROI of honesty and transparency? Don’t look for some short-term dollar figure – look at the long-term reputation value. What’s the ROI of getting closer to your customers, of improving communications, of putting a human face on your business, of being part of the marketplace dialogue, of creating strategic serendipity? What’s the ROI of creating opportunities through people-connections? When something is the right thing to do, you do it, knowing that in the long-term, it’s good for business.

That’s why we should instantly dismiss the question, “What’s the ROI of Social Media?” It’s exactly the wrong question. Should companies be involved in networked communications? In every way that makes sense, yes – because it’s smart, it’s right, it’s where the people are. Now – what specific strategies are best, and what measurable tactics should be employed? That’s when we move into ROI territory. Then again, you can always take comfort in the return on doing nothing…”

Balanced Scorecard: Is it a Failure?

The Balanced Scorecard is a strategic planning and management system that is used extensively in business and industry, government, and nonprofit organizations worldwide to align business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization, improve internal and external communications, and monitor organization performance against strategic goals.

The first Balanced Scorecard was created by Art Schneiderman (an independent consultant on the management of processes) in 1987 at Analog Devices, a semi-conductor company. Art Schniederman participated in an unrelated research study in 1990 led by Dr. Robert S. Kaplan in conjunction with US Management Consultancy Nolan-Norton, and during this study described his work on Balanced Scorecard.

Subsequently, Kaplan and David P. Norton included anonymous details of this use of Balanced Scorecard in their 1992 article on Balanced Scorecard. Kaplan & Norton’s article wasn’t the only paper on the topic published in early 1992. But the 1992 Kaplan & Norton paper was a popular success, and was quickly followed by a second in 1993. In 1996, they published the book The Balanced Scorecard. These articles and the first book spread knowledge of the concept of Balanced Scorecard widely, but perhaps wrongly have led to Kaplan & Norton being seen as the creators of the Balanced Scorecard concept.

While the “Balanced Scorecard” concept and terminology was coined by Art Schneiderman, the roots of performance management as an activity run deep in management literature and practice. Management historians such as Alfred Chandler suggest the origins of performance management can be seen in the emergence of the complex organization – most notably during the 19th Century in the USA.

More recent influences may include the pioneering work of General Electric on performance measurement reporting in the 1950’s and the work of French process engineers (who created the tableau de bord – literally, a “dashboard” of performance measures) in the early part of the 20th century. The tool also draws strongly on the ideas of the ‘resource based view of the firm’ proposed by Edith Penrose (Edith Elura Tilton Penrose was an American-born British economist whose best known work is The Theory of the Growth of the Firm, which describes the ways which firms grow and how fast they do).

Kaplan & Norton’s first book, The Balanced Scorecard, remains their most popular. The book reflects earliest incarnations of Balanced Scorecard – effectively restating the concept as described in the 2nd Harvard Business Review article. Their second book, The Strategy Focused Organization, echoed work by others (particularly in Scandinavia) on the value of visually documenting the links between measures by proposing the “Strategic Linkage Model” or strategy map. Since,  Balanced Scorecard books have become more common – in early 2010 Amazon was listing several hundred titles in English which had Balanced Scorecard in the title.

After his implementation at Analog Devices, Art Schneiderman, in 1999,  wrote the article “Why Balanced Scorecards Fail” where he discusses some of the issues with this deployment, since then there have been improvements in newer generations. The Balanced Scorecard has always attracted criticism from a variety of sources. Most has come from the academic community, who dislike the empirical nature of the framework: Kaplan & Norton notoriously failed to include any citation of prior art in their initial papers on the topic.

Some of this criticism focuses on technical flaws in the methods and design of the original Balanced Scorecard proposed by Kaplan & Norton, and has over time driven the evolution of the device through its various ‘generations’. Other academics have simply focused on the lack of citation support. But a general weakness of this type of criticism is that it typically uses the 1st Generation Balanced Scorecard as its object: many of the flaws identified are addressed in other works published since the original Kaplan & Norton works in the early 1990s.

Another criticism, usually from pundits and consultants, is that the Balanced Scorecard does not provide a bottom line score or a unified view with clear recommendations: it is simply a list of metrics. These critics usually include in their criticism suggestions about how the ‘unanswered’ question postulated could be answered. Typically however, the unanswered question relates to things outside the scope of Balanced Scorecard itself (such as developing strategies).

It’s clear that Balanced Scorecard implementation is a difficult and frustrating ‘journey’ and requires dedicated top-level management support, a dedicated team of change agents, strategic alignment, implementation of improvement initiatives as projects, cultural change management, and a combination of top-down and bottom-up development.

But is it a failure? In the blog, “The Glue” by Jeff Bunting, he writes; “I’ve seen statistics thrown around that between 50 and 78 percent of “Balanced Scorecard” efforts “fail.” Gartner’s latest research reports the number at about 50%, but when you look at the survey targets and numbers, it would be hard to put a lot of faith in that number. I do know — from seeing hundreds of implementations over the last decade and coming in to “clean up” problems — that it’s true that many do fail”

“So without strong numbers on how many of these efforts fail or what failure even means, I’ll go out on a limb and say the primary reason that virtually all such efforts fail: timid, unfocused, or unengaged executives. Usually you can even trace it to a single executive who — if things were different — could not only prevent scorecard failure, but could actually use scorecard to drive true breakthrough improvement. Usually, that executive is at the top of the organization.”

Is Your Organization Dysfunctional?

A company executive’s quote: “If you want more problems; hire more people”.  But, keep in mind that it’s your people who do the work and must do it while; putting up with poor leadership, often having to tolerate idiots for bosses, often being under paid and under appreciated and in spite of all of this they are expected to perform miracles day in and day out. So the real question: “Is most of your organization dysfunction top-down or bottom-up?

“The hallmark of a dysfunctional organization is a gap between reality and rhetoric,” says Ben Dattner, a New York Organizational Psychologist. When resources are not used effectively or fairly, when plans are heavy on talk but weak on action or when barriers to communication cripple performance, you’re dealing with a dysfunctional organization.

Once diagnosed, the corrosive effects of such problems can be corrected. But make no mistake: It’s neither easy nor immediate. You need to be tough-minded about identifying the source, particularly because it often starts at the top, where the power resides. “The discrepancy between what leaders say they want and what they really want often causes company dysfunction. You can’t ask employees to do anything you’re not willing to do yourself. “

“When you see a pattern of blaming and people trying to protect themselves and their particular turf, something is wrong,” says Russ Moserowitz of Franchise Insights, Bedminster, N.J.

The remedy is to put your trust in the people you hire and give every employee sincere responsibility. Hands-on, my-way-or-the-highway entrepreneurs won’t find this easy. But that’s how the business gets better. Fast-growing organizations are often so intensely focused on moving to the next level that no one is actually in charge. That’s how dysfunction creeps in and takes hold.

Harry Williams, Management Consultant, in Mountain View, Calif., tells about a 5-year-old software company that hired him to create a new Product Management Department. The business had released several successful products and grown to 300 employees with 10 departments, each headed by a different executive. Every one of the managers reported directly to the CEO, so no one had to talk to anyone else about his department’s work.

When Williams asked each executive what the new department would do, he got 10 different answers. It turned out that the company didn’t need a new division at all. What it needed was someone to coordinate the company agenda and get the managers to share information.  The idea for a Product Management Department was how the executives expressed need for better coordination. “The Product Development Department didn’t take direction,” Williams says.

That meant the group simply created products and released them without checking with any other department. So sales didn’t know about the features of the new products, or when to sell them. Support and consulting were also in the dark. They couldn’t help customers implement products or fix any problems. And so it went.

“Each department flew off on its own, trying to do what was right.” Priorities were constantly shifting. Decisions were continually made and unmade. “The CEO assumed the executives had the authority to make product decisions and it wasn’t her job to tell them what to do,” Williams says. While everyone had the very best of intentions, chaos reigned.

“Company leaders must set the mission and the agenda. A hands-off policy can only go so far.”

Organizational dysfunction may be funny when you’re watching a TV show, such as “The Office,” but its serious business when you’re trying to cope with it every day. The good news is that it doesn’t have to bring you down. Nobody says dealing with dysfunction is easy, but here are a few suggestions from the experts.

Start looking at your office as though it were any dysfunctional organization from movies or TV. “Sit back as an observer and watch,” suggests Donna Flagg, Principal of Learning and Productivity Specialist The Krysalis Group. “Do not participate, because things that makes dysfunctional behavior thrive is participation of dysfunctional people. If you separate yourself, you remain on the ‘functional’ side of the line.”

One way to stay functional is to avoid returning fire—no matter how under siege you feel. This allows you to control the people trying to control you, says Joel Epstein, author of ‘The Little Book on Big Ego’ and CEO of Friction Factor. “Most ‘ego monsters’ want you to fight with them,” adds Epstein. “It makes them happy.” The solution? Throw the game and lose on purpose. “Let the ego monster think they’ve won,” he advises.

Concentrating on your job performance while others are engaged in less-productive activities can be an effective way of coping and advancing, says Heather Millen, a Boston-based Marketing Administrator. “Act how you think a professional should act, no matter how enticing it is to come to their level,” she says. “I once had a boss who thought things could only be done his way. But by sticking by what I thought was right rather than giving into his every whim, the working relationship grew stronger, and we each had greater respect for the other.”

If you’re in a position to close yourself off from the insanity and negativity, do it, advises Erik Myers, a Database Administrator. “I wear headphones all day every day so that I don’t have to listen to the insipid ramblings of my coworkers and how much they ‘love their fat-free salad dressing’ and ‘have you heard about this new diet where if you eat really spicy foods you can eat all you want, because it goes through your system faster and the heat actually burns calories anyway?’” he says.

Sometimes it helps to find what career coach Marty Nemko calls “an island of sanity amid the maelstrom.” “Find one or two people in the organization that you like and can commiserate with, or even laugh at the others’ antics,” Nemko says. “Decide among you whether you want it to simply be a steam-letting-off group or want to look for smart ways to improve things, if only in pockets. And keep your group under the radar—no need for everyone to see you as a clearly identified cabal.”

Studying, but not obsessing over, colleagues’ dysfunctional tendencies can give you an edge, Flagg says. Common patterns are discrepancies between what people say and do and inconsistencies in behavior. Sure, this familiarity may breed contempt, but it also yields competitive advantage for you as well as a coping mechanism. “You can not only anticipate problems headed your way, but you can also use the insight to navigate the terrain in a positive and effective way,” Flagg explains.

In the end, the best outcome may be to move on. “It’s really the only thing that actually works”; notes organizational expert Billie Blair, author of ‘All the Moving Parts’ and President/CEO of Leading and Learning. “Our research of these situations has shown that it’s always the good and talented people that the organization loses when there is dysfunction, because they can go other places: Those who cannot simply stay and manage to endure.”

Getting Off the Dead Horse: Selling Equivalent…

Do you really mean that a salesperson should walk-away from a sale and actually turn down business?

Yes, in certain situations, that’s exactly what the salesperson should do. If the customer is unwilling or unable to make a reasonable commitment to move the sales process forward, then salesperson must be willing to say “This isn’t working” and consider the possibility of walking away from this sale opportunity, as a last resort. If you are not willing to turn down business when things go sour, you’re going to be doing the equivalent of riding a dead horse.

Legend has it that the Dakota Indian wisdom says that when you find yourself riding a dead horse, you should dismount — but some salespeople often adopt less sensible strategies. Some of these strategies (along with their translated equivalents) are to:

  • Buy a bigger whip (flogging the sale until it surrenders)
  • Run a training session to increase the salesperson’s  riding ability (selling skills)
  • Harness several dead horses together for increased speed (several No-Win customers must be better than one)
  • Declare that “no horse is too dead to beat” (or that “no sale is so far gone that positive thinking can’t rescue it”)
  • Provide additional budget to increase the horse’s performance ( by throwing good resources after bad at an unresponsive customer)

The whimsy aside, you get the basic point. Your goal as a selling professional should be not just any and all sales, but good sales. By definition, good sales are Win-Win sales.

The starting goal for any sales engagement should always be to seek a Win-Win sale. This is usually possible, but there are those unusual cases when a walk-away from the sale becomes the only practical outcome. It’s only when the customer is either unwilling or unable to make minimum acceptable commitments toward moving the sale to close, then that necessitates the walk-away outcome.

In the chorus of Kenny Roger’s famous song, “The Gambler,” the old gambler urges the young man to, “know when to walk away, know when to run.”  Packing up and walking away from a deal that is going nowhere is one of the hardest things to do in sales. Even some of the best salespeople continue to work on accounts that, from any observer’s point of view, were a complete waste of time, only to regret the energy, time, emotion, and resources they poured into it once the deal was lost.

Deals lost and time wasted on prospects who were not the decision makers, were already under long-term contracts, were just shopping for price to keep their current vendor honest, or who were not in the buying window. Each working day salespeople across the globe are surprised to find out, after investing blood, sweat, and tears, and of course promises to the boss, that the account they have been working on won’t close. And to make things worse, many of these salespeople were completely blind to all of the clues that were blinking like neon signs saying; “this prospect will not close, move on!”

On the other hand there are the Sales Professionals who have a keen sense of the viability of a deal. Using solid questioning strategies, a simple mental checklist, and intuition they quickly extract themselves from the sales process once they believe working with their prospect or customer is unprofitable or a waste of time.

This rare ability serves them well because it allows them to focus their most valuable resource – time – on accounts that have a high probability of closing. Even though sometimes they may be wrong and pull away from a prospect too quickly, it is better that they move on than take a chance and waste massive amounts of time on a prospect that could potentially never close.

So how do these Sales Professionals know when to walk away and sometimes run? What methodology do they use?

According to Jeb Blount, the Sales Guy; the top salespeople train themselves how and when to walk away from low probability deals. The first step is becoming familiar with the concept of probability. This is what the old gambler is trying to teach the young man on the train. Imagine if you walked into a casino and over every table there was neon sign that gave you the probability that you would win if you played that particular game. Some of the tables flashed 20%, some 50%, and still others 80%. Where would you place your bets?

If you were smart you would walk away from the 20% tables and play the 80% tables. This is how the best sales professionals look at their pipeline. Instead of viewing all of their prospects as equal, they look for neon signs that indicate the probability a deal will close. And they only spend their scarce resources only on high-probability deals. They gauge the probability of each prospect using a variety of indicators to act as that neon sign. They uncover these indicators through advanced and patient questioning of the buyer, influencers, and themselves.

Using the answers to these questions and other indicators, top performing Sales Pros gauge the probability that a particular deal will close. And what sets these high-performers apart is their steadfast discipline to walk away from anything that falls below their probability comfort level.

Blount continues; one of the common attributes of these top producers is when asked why they have such high closing rates they almost all say, “because I only call on prospects who are going to buy.” In other words, they only spend their time with high-probability prospects. You see, these top performers clearly understand the value of time. Time is the great equalizer.

Every salesperson is given the exact same 24 hours each day – no more and no less. The difference between the top performers and everyone else is how they use that time. Top performers know that the real secret to improving their closing percentage is the self-discipline to ask hard questions of, and about, each prospect. In doing so they work less, earn more and close more deals.

Subtle Shifts in Business, Leadership, Management, Organization, Strategy, Innovation– Bring Big Results…

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