Category Archives: Chuck Reaves

Identify Your Employees by the Theory of 21

Chuck ReavesBy Chuck Reaves

“For every person who will say yes, there are twenty who will say no. For a positive response you must find the twenty-first person.” – The Theory of 21

The CEO of an electronics company had an idea. He was a solid business person but was not as well-versed in electronics as some of his engineers. He came up with an idea and did not know if it was feasible. He asked two engineers to explore how it could be done so he could test the feasibility of the idea becoming a new product line.

One engineer made an appointment, and delivered a formal presentation to the CEO explaining why the idea would not work. He had color charts and graphs and even some data that suggested no one would want the product even if it were to make it to market.

When he finished, the CEO told him that the other engineer was in the process of implementing the idea. Instead of developing a knock-your-socks-off presentation explaining why the idea was a bad one, the other engineer had waded through the obstacles to find a way to make it happen.

The idea, by the way, was caller ID – that now-ubiquitous service on most phones.

There are two types of people in the world: the “20’s” and the “21’s”. The 20’s are those people who consistently declare that anything new cannot, should not or will not be done. The 21’s are those people who look for ways of making things happen – even those things considered to be impossible by others.

There are two types of 20’s: Negative 20’s and Positive 20’s.

Negative 20’s are easy to spot and you already know who most of them are in your organization and in your life. You know that if you bring a new idea to them they will shoot it down. Immediately and out of habit, they will let you know in no uncertain terms that it cannot be done, should not be done or will not be done. If you press them, they will give you valid-sounding reasons why their position is justified. They give away their position with statements like:

  • We have never done it that way before
  • It has never been done
  • We are already doing that
  • Nobody will like it
  • The boss will never approve it

By now you have learned who these people are and what a waste of time it can be to engage them. In fact, when you want to get something done quickly and done well, you tend to give it to someone who is already busy, a 21.

Described above is the Negative 20, the people who come right out and tell you that it cannot be done. More difficult to recognize is the Positive 20 because they can sound like a 21.

These slippery critters can delay a project until it is no longer viable. They can dilute an idea until it has little resemblance to the original concept. They are dangerous.

The Positive 20 may say something like, “That’s a great idea and something we need to do someday,” or “We could do that if …..” “It will be easier for us to do that when…”

The 21’s are the people you know who somehow always seem to find a way to make things happen. Rather than offer excuses, they may offer alternatives. Instead of saying they do not have time to do whatever you are asking them to do, they will ask, “What is your timeframe?”

To differentiate between the Positive 20’s and the 21’s, listen for delays, “buts” and “ifs”.

How do 20’s find their way into otherwise successful organizations? First of all, there are more of them than are 21’s. In fact, there are not enough 21’s in the world so, eventually, despite your best efforts, you will find a 20, probably a Positive 20, somewhere in the organization. If they are in a position to influence a hiring decision, they will attract other 20’s. After all, 20’s don’t like having 21’s around.

So, what do you do with the 20’s in your organization?

Teach – The single, most important function of leadership is to teach. You have achieved your level of success because someone took the time to teach you. As you teach, you will ascertain whether you have a student or not.

Exemplify – Praise the 21’s in public. When your employees know that you appreciate, admire and respect the efforts of the 21’s, more of them will aspire to be 21’s.

Remind – There are no extraordinary people. There are only ordinary people who are doing things that other people consider to be extraordinary. Everyone on your team was brought onboard because they have a skill set, ability or something else that could make them extraordinary.

Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were friends and mentors. Ford was in Edison’s facility when one of his engineers reported that one of Edison’s ideas could not be done. Edison listened patiently and then said, “Build it anyway.”

Later, one of Ford’s engineers would come into his office and explain why a “shiftless” (automatic) transmission was impossible to manufacture. How did Ford respond? “Build it anyway.”

Two lines from the movie, “Apollo 13” are applicable for every business.

“Houston, we have a problem.” Sooner or later every organization faces a seemingly insurmountable problem. How do you address it?

“Failure is not an option.” For 21’s, this is a lifestyle.

Chuck Reaves, CSP, CPAE, CSO helps companies raise their prices and volumes simultaneously through innovative processes, tools and training. With his innovative presentations on sales and motivation he has inspired hundreds of people to pursue and achieve their impossible dreams. Along with pioneering many advanced sales tools and processes, Chuck’s achievements include Vistage’s ‘Impact Speaker of the Year’ honors and being named the top salesperson for AT&T. For more information about Chuck Reaves please visit www.chuckreaves.com.

What is a CSO, and Why Does Your Company Need One?

Chuck ReavesBy Chuck Reaves

Is yours a sales-driven organization?

When asked this question, most CEOs answer yes. When asked if they have a Chief Sales Officer—CSO—almost all of them admit that they do not.

To answer the CSO question for yourself, look at your organizational chart. Is there a representative of the sales department at the C-Level? On par with the CFO, COO and others at that level, the sales team deserves to be involved at the strategic level where decisions for the future are being made.

While some organizations have found the CSO position to be a critical role, most companies still do not have a CSO. Here are the most common reasons:

  • We never had one before. Other C-Level positions, like Chief Technology Officer (CTO), did not exist in the past but the rapid and rampant changes in technology necessitated including the impact of technological innovations in decision making.
  • Salespeople are required to achieve the corporate objectives. “We decide; you implement.” In too many companies the salespeople are considered to be “different” in the way they are compensated but similar in that they are to achieve top-down driven objectives regardless of what customers want.
  • There is no training for the CSO. Libraries are being built now to give the CSO the information they need to execute their responsibilities.
  • There are no tools for measuring the effectiveness of the CSO. In fact, Extreme Sales Analytics (ESA) and Sales Resource Planner (SRP) software programs, similar to ERPs, are emerging. ROI, TCO and other calculators are giving way to sophisticated dashboards which are morphing into sales analytic cockpits (multiple, integrated dashboards).
  • Your customers do not need for you have a Chief Sales Officer. So why bother? You need to have the CSO in order for your customer relationships to grow. Customer relationships are dynamic, not static. Either you will drive the changes in the relationship or someone else will: your customer or your competitor. After all, if your competitor has a strategic-focused CSO and you do not, are they more likely to introduce the next new thing to your customers?

Is it enough to have a vice president of sales? Why clutter the C-Suite and add to the leadership budget with yet another position? The title is not as important as the function. C-Levels are strategists; vice presidents are tactical. The difference between how the time and talents are deployed at the two levels can vary greatly.

  • The C-Level plans for the long term future; the vice president thinks in shorter timeframes. For instance, if the CEO, the corporate visionary, is thinking three years out (as most are), the C-Levels reporting to the CEO need to be thinking two years out. In that scenario, the VP level needs to be thinking one year out, the sales management team thinking one quarter and salespeople thinking one month out.
  • The C-Level invests their time in learning and evaluating what new processes and technologies are coming that will impact their business. VPs focus their time and talents on what current capabilities are viable for making more immediate improvements in sales activities and management.
  • C-Levels are rarely involved in the day-to-day activities while the VP is occasionally brought in to address pressing customer and market issues. The vice president of sales is likely to know the details of significant pending sales while the CSO is uninvolved with them.

Relationship selling is a redundant term; all selling is relationship selling. Companies don’t do business with companies; people do business with people.

An example of this occurred when a CSO found a new tablet-based technology that reduced a portion of their sales cycle from three weeks to three minutes. Think about that, three weeks to three minutes. 40% of their sales were in disaster recovery. When they approached a prospect that had lost, say, 20% of their capacity and offered to have them up and running again three weeks earlier than any other vendor, who did the prospect choose? Did the prospect make their buying decision on price? Of course not. In just over a year many of their competitors went of business because of this new capability.

Why was a CSO needed to make this decision?

  • The VP Sales did not have the time to thoroughly investigate the new technology.
  • A six-figure investment would be required – a decision that would have gone to the C-Level anyway.
  • Agreements needed to be negotiated with the software vendor for market exclusivity.
  • These activities were time-consuming and the VP could not have managed this quickly enough, if at all.

How does the typical CSO spend their day?

  • Evaluating new processes including Lean/Kaizen/Six Sigma for sales and discussing them with the other C-Levels, beginning with the COO.
  • Evaluating new technologies for planning and executing sales activities and discussing them with the other C-Levels, beginning with the CTO.
  • Evaluating the applicability of new compensation concepts and discussing them with the other C-Levels, beginning with the CFO.

Why not just simply change the title of the VP Sales to CSO? Whether you have a CSO or not, you have the CSO function in your organization. Just as you have the CFO function in your organization even if you do not have a full-time CFO. If you choose to elevate your VP to the CSO position, be prepared to backfill the VP position; both are important.

So, what are the criteria the CEO needs to consider when bringing a CSO onboard?

  • Hire for tomorrow, not today. Find someone who is comfortable with the changes that are happening in your market, industry, technology and management processes.
  • Look for a strategic mindset. Rather than someone who knows how to get things done, look for someone who can determine alternatives for moving the organization forward.
  • CSOs think about “who else?” and “what else?” Look for a creative thinker who knows how to find and solicit new ideas.

The role of the Chief Sales Officer is here. Someone in your organization is filling that role. Are they doing it intentionally or by default?

Chuck Reaves, CSP, CPAE, CSO helps companies raise their prices and volumes simultaneously through innovative processes, tools and training. With his innovative presentations on sales and motivation he has inspired hundreds of people to pursue and achieve their impossible dreams. Along with pioneering many advanced sales tools and processes, Chuck’s achievements include Vistage’s ‘Impact Speaker of the Year’ honors and being named the top salesperson for AT&T. For more information about Chuck Reaves please visit www.chuckreaves.com.

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