Tag Archives: management

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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Does Your Staff Respect You … Or Do They Fear You?

By Alesia LatsonAlesia Latson

When you’re driving down the road and see those flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror, what’s the first thought that pops into your mind? If you’re like most people, you get an uneasy feeling in your stomach and think, “Uh-oh. What did I do?” The thought that the police officer might be pulling you over to tell you something simple, such as that your taillight is out, rarely crosses your mind. That’s because when a person of authority suddenly makes an appearance or asserts him/herself, it’s human nature for those around the person to have a fear response triggered and to jump to the worst case scenario, as in: “I did something wrong.”

If you’re a leader, chances are your staff feels that same status differential with you, and they translate it as fear. So when you casually ask a staff member, “Can you please come to my office for a moment?” … or when you’re in a meeting and defensively respond to an employee’s comments with “But that’s not my understanding of things,” … or when you repeatedly interrupt your staff member as he’s speaking, you’re triggering the fear response in the person, just as the flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror do.

While you might think that having people fear you to some degree is good, fear in a relationship actually has many negative effects. In fact, research shows that when people are operating in fear, it impairs their analytical thinking skills, decreases their creative insight, and reduces their problem solving abilities—the exact things workplaces need to succeed in today’s marketplace. So even though you likely don’t walk around basking in your authority and you don’t consciously exert your power over people, your employees feel it in all the seemingly simple things you do each day.

If you want your staff to respect your authority rather than fear it, following are some suggestions for making sure every interaction with them is a positive one.

Headline your requests: Because your mind is likely jumping from one topic to the next, it’s easy to get trapped in the busy-ness of the day and not realize the unintended consequences of a simple question. For example, when you ask an employee, “Can you please come to my office for a moment?”, you probably believe it’s nothing more than an innocuous request. But the employee you’re speaking to translates your words and rushed tone as, “Oh no! What did I do? Am I in trouble?”

To ensure this doesn’t happen, take a few seconds to headline your requests. For example, before saying the fear-inducing, “Can you come to my office for a moment,” give a little headline to add context to your request, as in, “Chris, I’d like to get your feedback on something. Can you come to my office for a moment?” Notice how those few words of clarification change the implied context of the request and ease any fears the employee may have.

Be curious: Leaders are supposed to challenge their staff. That’s often what prompts new ideas and bold solutions. The key is to challenge people in a positive, motivating way rather than to squelch their creativity or have them fear your pushback. So instead of challenging people with defensive questions like “Why did you do that?” or with intimidating “but” statements like “Yes, but that’s not my understanding of the issue,” get in the habit of asking three open-ended questions before you advocate your point of view.

Asking open-ended questions (those that elicit something other than a “yes” or “no” reply), makes the person you’re speaking with feel valuable and that he or she has important insights. This alone helps to create an environment of collaboration, trust, and respect, which naturally reduces any defensiveness.

The two most powerful types of open-ended questions to ask are “what” and “how” questions. For example, asking in a neutral tone, “What evidence do you have to support this conclusion?” “What process did you engage in?” and “How would you describe your philosophy on this?” prompts the employee to reflect on the situation and brings forth the most useful information. Additionally, by asking three questions rather than one or two, you’re showing more than a superficial interest in the other person’s perspective.

Set ground rules before the meeting or conversation: One of the most common ways leaders unknowingly assert their dominance over employees is by interrupting people when they speak. Since most employees want to please the boss, they allow the interruption to derail the conversation and they hold back on ideas.

Of course, leaders usually interrupt because others are going on too long and they just don’t have the patience. Dominance and fear are the furthest things from their mind. To alleviate this fear-inducing habit, set the ground rules for how you work best. If you want people to get to the point and only discuss the pertinent details, tell them. For example, you could say, “We only have an hour here. My request is that when you are reporting, be succinct. Start with what the conclusion is and then we can ask questions and look into details.” When you make requests for how you want the information, the need to interrupt decreases. Additionally, your employees will appreciate knowing your wishes and will eagerly accommodate them.

Be a Fear-Less Leader. Leaders have a tremendous impact on their employees’ lives—financially, emotionally, and mentally. When you take the steps to make sure your impact is one that enhances the workplace rather than instills fear in it, you’ll create an organizational culture that breeds mutual respect, creativity, and collaboration. And that’s the hallmark of a true leader.

Alesia Latson is a speaker, trainer, coach and founder of Latson Leadership Group, a consulting firm specializing in management and leadership development. With more than 20 years of experience, Latson helps organizations and leaders expand their capacity to produce results while enhancing employee engagement. For more information on Alesia’s speaking and consulting, please contact her at alesia@latsonleadershipgroup.com or visit www.latsonleadershipgroup.com

Constructive Confrontation in the Workplace: Three Things to Keep in Mind

Tomas-GarzaBy Tomás Garza

To successfully navigate workplace conflict, managers must be able to confront team members in a positive, productive manner. Whatever the situation, whether two people are actively quarreling, or whether one person’s behavior is impacting the entire work culture, a manager must be able to step in, take charge and do so in a way that does not contribute to the drama.

How, then, do you constructively confront team members? How do you both get your point across and preserve team chemistry?

For any manager, these conversations can be crucial. Ongoing conflict and drama can, of course, have a ripple effect on everyone, and the last thing any organization needs is a dip in morale. Assuming this is not a situation that calls for firing, there is a great deal a manager can do to help resolve the problem, be firm and preserve group harmony.

In having these conversations, here are three things to keep in mind:

1) Use non-accusatory language: For many of us, it is tempting to place blame and pin an entire problem directly on someone else. After all, aren’t they the ones causing the disturbance in the first place? A constructive solution, despite our first impressions, involves shelving the urge to blame and taking a step back.

How you phrase things here makes all the difference. You can make the conversation productive by focusing the language on you. For example, you can say, “I notice you missed the last two staff meetings,” or “The other day I overheard your comments about the director.” The alternative would look like this: “You missed the last two staff meetings,” or “You made those comments about the director.” One statement talks about your observations, what you saw, noticed, or heard. The other puts everything squarely on them.

This may seem subtle, just a matter of semantics, but in constructive confrontation your word choice matters. When you talk about your observations, people naturally feel less defensive. When people do not have their guard up, you will be able to get more accomplished.

2) Be clear: As a manager attempting to put a stop to harmful behavior, you must be clear in this conversation. Your group cannot afford any mixed messages. Therefore, be as clear as you can about the following:

  • What you heard or saw – Make sure there are no ambiguities here. If you didn’t experience any of the events first-hand, be sure you have gathered sufficient information. The person you are talking to needs to know exactly what it is they are doing that damages your group chemistry.
  • How this impacts the group – Be very clear on this. Often, people do not intend any sabotage, but their behavior may, nonetheless, have a detrimental impact. It is perfectly fine to be direct about this impact; often the person really needs to hear it.
  • Your expectations – If you don’t clearly state your expectations for future behavior, this conversation will be a waste of your time. Unclear expectations create needless confusion and can lead to future problems. As a manager, you must say what you expect. Luckily, this can be done in a non-accusatory manner that strengthens the group rather than pulls it apart.

3) Listen: A conversation—even one you must have with an employee about their behavior—is just that, a conversation. This means it involves two people. Though you will need to come into the dialogue with an agenda and get your point across, the process will be infinitely more productive if you give the other person a chance to speak and, more importantly, to be heard. This means you must take the opportunity to listen.

When the other person speaks and feels you have heard them, their tension level goes down. Defensive posturing that might otherwise stand in your way will disappear. The person may even feel grateful for your hearing them out, and appreciated. This can be crucial to maintaining group harmony. Provided you take the opportunity to clearly state your expectations, there is absolutely nothing to lose in taking a moment and listening.

Also, if you listen attentively enough, the other person may offer suggestions or solutions you hadn’t considered. You will never know unless they get an opportunity to speak, too.

Consider these three suggestions the next time you have to confront somebody in the workplace. In most situations, you can preserve group harmony, show respect and appreciation for the other person, and be sure you have clearly stated your expectations. It is indeed possible to become a pro at constructive confrontation. Do it, and your organization will benefit.

Tomás Garza is a conflict resolution and personal development expert with over 12 years of experience helping people erase pain, turmoil, and doubt from their lives. Tomás has served on the faculty of Portland State University, and is a former President of the Oregon Mediation Association. He has worked with thousands of people as a presenter, facilitator, and mediator, and believes that people CAN move beyond habitual patterns and fear and connect with their deepest selves and purpose. For more information on Tomás’ programs, please visit www.garzainitiative.com, email him at tomas@garzainitiative.com, or call 541-230-4477.

Our Actions Are Nothing to Sneeze About

By Peter Lyle DeHaan , PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

A few years ago, I had a strange realization. It began when I sneezed. My sneeze sounded just like my dad’s. Not that there’s anything wrong or strange about how he sneezes, just that it’s distinctive. At first, I chalked this up to heredity. But why did it take four decades for me to become aware of this similarity? A look at how other family members sneezed, didn’t support a genetic connection. Indeed, everyone else has a unique sneeze.

Since then, I’ve become aware of other mannerisms my dad and I share. My conclusion is this is not a byproduct of genes but environment. More succinctly, as I spend more time with my father, I become more like him. If this went no further than physical idiosyncrasies, this would be a trivial observation. But there are more valuable characteristics I learned from Dad over the years. A good, strong work ethic is a prime example. Dad never told me to work hard, he merely did so, and I emulated his example. Other traits include integrity, honesty, caution, sound decision-making, carefulness with what I say, and an analytical prowess.

If I unknowingly learned these things by being around my dad, what sort of things do those who spend time with me pick up? While I hope they absorb good and positive traits, I fear they could also acquire some less admirable tendencies as well. Each time a child, friend, employee, or client treats me in a less than ideal way, I ask myself, “Did they pick this up from me? Are they mirroring what they see me do?”

Children: When parents see things in their children they don’t like, they often do some soul searching and ask, “Where did they learn this?” and “What did I do wrong?” Although, children have many spheres of influence, parents are a key source. The saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” is usually true. Words can influence and direct, but actions are the prime training tools. Actions that match words, send a strong and consistent message.

Customers: I’ve seen this same principle carry over to the work place as well, to both employees and clients. First, consider clients. Every business has a few difficult clients – the kind everyone wishes would just go away. But if a company has all difficult clients, some tough introspection is warranted. Quite simply, one should wonder, “Are my bad clients merely treating me the way I treat them?” I once saw this dramatically demonstrated through an acquisition, where the prior owners were less than honorable in their client interactions. Dealing with their client base was quite a challenge. It took several years to get those clients to stop yelling at managers, cursing staff, and challenging every bill. But who is to blame them? They were simply responding as they had been taught, matching how the former owner treated them.

Staff: From the employee aspect, I’ve seen this occur on several levels. First, witnessing how a shift supervisor destroyed the effectiveness of the employees on her shift. Her staff became lazy, took long breaks, and lost all loyalty towards the company. The worst offenders were fired and replacements hired and trained; yet, they quickly fell into the same mode. Eventually the supervisor was investigated, revealing the reality that her position of authority was too much for her to handle. She had become lazy, took long breaks, and had no respect for the company. Her charges were merely emulating the negative characteristics of their supervisor. A new supervisor was brought in, and things slowly turned around.

More dramatically, I have seen this happen in an entire office. It seemed that a good employee couldn’t be found in the entire city. Each new hire turned out to be a liar, a manipulator, and a denigrator of company policy and procedure. Alas, after endlessly turning over staff, the manager was scrutinized. Ultimately, her true colors were revealed: she was a compulsive liar, shamelessly manipulated her staff, and had open contempt for company expectations. This manager was let go, and suddenly good employees could be found. Though it took years to negate her damaging example, the office slowly began to function as it should.

Lastly, is a situation where a company owner lamented his terrible employees. His staff falsified time cards, stole company supplies and assets, lodged complaints, and filed lawsuits on a seemingly continuous basis. The owner was perplexed at why this was happening, but to even a casual outsider the cause was clear. The owner underreported income on his tax return, cheated employees out of their rightful pay, and threatened to sue everyone who caused him consternation.

True, not all children, friends, clients, and employees are perfect, but when a consistent trend of unacceptable behavior is evident within the entire group, it might be time to look at one’s own actions as a possible cause. After all, our actions are nothing to sneeze about.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD is a commercial freelance writer who provides content marketing services and does ghostwriting.

12 Reasons Why Employee Training Fails

By John TschohlJohn Tschohl

Most of the money and time companies spend on training is wasted. That’s because the majority of companies use outdated training ideas and boring training methods.

Training that is poorly presented goes in one ear and out the other. It’s no wonder employees don’t change their attitudes or behaviors after they attend a badly presented training session.

After working in the training field for more than 40 years on six continents, I’ve seen 12 reasons why group training fails:

  1. Large groups: You can’t have a good group discussion if 100 people are in the room. Try to limit training sessions to 15 people so everyone has a chance to participate. If the group size is larger, most employees will not participate and hence will not change their behaviors or learn new skills.
  2. A small number of people dominate the conversation: It’s natural in groups for three people to speak up while everyone else stays silent. Facilitators must call on everyone in the room to participate. If people don’t talk, they won’t buy into the training goals.
  3. Stupid games: People don’t like role-playing games. Games and exercises have to do with something that builds success as a team. People need to be actively involved in the exercise.
  4. Complicated training materials: If the material is not easily understood, it will not be implemented. Make sure the information is easily comprehended. Test the material on several small groups. Make adjustments and then roll out the final version to the entire organization.
  5. Facilitator dominated: Facilitators should be seen and seldom heard. They should steer the conversation, but they should not dominate the discussion. They should ask leading questions of the participants and make sure everyone talks at some time. The facilitator is a juggler. He/she needs to keep the conversation going. The more discussion there is, the more likely attitudes and behaviors will improve.
  6. Lectures: Remember how you fell asleep when boring professors spoke in college? Your employees are no different. Lectures are not an effective way to get people to change their attitudes and beliefs.
  7. Irrelevant Information: If the material is not relevant to their jobs, people will not accept the information. They want ideas they can use immediately.
  8. Bad physical environment: Learning can’t take place if people are not comfortable. Invest in a room that looks pleasant and professional. It sounds basic, but make sure the room is well heated or cooled and has comfortable seats. Offer refreshments. Add audio and video presentation equipment. Make sure there aren’t any outside distractions, such as noise.
  9. Not offering enough training sessions: If training isn’t offered regularly, skills won’t be learned and attitudes will not change. Consider offering training every four months. Companies need to reinforce and refresh training every few months with something new. A one-shot program will have one-shot results.
  10. Repeating the same training programs and materials: A child can watch the same program 50 times, but an adult can’t watch the same training materials twice. Companies need to bring in new trainers who have new information and different teaching styles. Companies should also invest in new training materials to spice things up.
  11. Not having supplemental training materials: People learn by using a variety of techniques. Good training techniques require that discussions be supplemented with videos and reading materials that can reinforce the message. The old saying, “A picture is worth 1,000 words” is even more relevant in today’s video age.
  12. Not taking today’s young people’s learning styles into mind: The vast majority of workers are young people. They learn differently than previous generations and they get bored easily. Look at the games they play on their phones. They want to be entertained. If the training isn’t entertaining, you lose the participation.

Training costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time. Labor time is your single biggest cost. If the listening switch for participants is off you waste all your money. If you do it right, then training is a wise investment. If you make mistakes, it will hurt the company and the employees.

John Tschohl, President, Service Quality Institute – described by Time and Entrepreneur magazines as a customer service guru and service strategist – presents strategic keynote speeches to companies worldwide. He is the author of “Empowerment, A Way of Life.” Contact him at John@servicequality.com or http://www.customer-service.com.