Archive for market loser

Are Your Buyers Suffering From “Brand Damage”?

Posted by on September 13, 2012 with 7 Comments


by Mark Allen Roberts

As I shared in my first book Branding Backwards, your brand is your promise, your flag you plant with laser like positioning in your market that shares the problems your product or service promises to solve and is established over time. Companies can have intentional brands like Volvo that will always mean safety. Market losing companies let the market decide what their brand stands for and I refer to this as; Branding by Default. Like it or not your company, your products, your teams have a brand perception in the minds of the buyers in your market. The harsh truth is; your buyers’ perception of your brand is reality. Your brand emerges after executing your positioning well or poorly over time. It can take years and a considerable amount of money to establish a brand, and one terrible experience that breaks that promise (trust) and destroy it.

What happens when your brand promises something you do not execute?

Your buyers become “Brand Damaged “

Once buyers in your market become brand damaged their trust in your company, its products, salespeople, channel partners is broken… often permanently. I heard a great quote recently and I am not sure who said it but here goes; People do not buy from people they like, they buy from people they trust.” Your brand is something you must treasure, reinforce and protect. Your brand is what you are promising if someone buys your product or service. It becomes the foundation of your future relationship of trust with your buyers.

Markets establish and adjust perceived brand images  much quicker  today since the internet has become an open forum for good as well as poor buying experiences.

When I have worked with companies wanting to increase their sales and profitability, one of the first things I do is go out into their market and meet with their current customers, customers they would like to have and customers they have lost. In these meetings I am trying to quickly determine their market’s perception of the companies’ positioning and brand . I am not judging what I hear as I am just gathering market information…market truths if you will. The next step is interviewing the companies’ sales team, distributors, and channel partners specifically listening for what they are promising the market. The last step is I spend time with the corporate team and dive deep into their marketing communication, their positioning and are they intentionally building a brand. What I am looking for is any disconnects, any promises the corporate group is making that buyers have experienced are not true in the market today. I emphasize the word “today” since what I often experience  is the perception of the companies’ product positioning and brand at the corporate level was once true, but experiences  occurred that have changed buyer perceptions and broken buyer trust.

In every interview with customers, prospects , suspects, distributors and team members they all have an opinion, a perception of what your brand represents today. Does the brand promises shared by the companies’ team and their marketing message match the market’s perception of the companies’ brand? In most cases the root of the brand promise is consistent; however once in a while I find a company that has Brand Damaged Buyers.

What are some symptoms you have Brand Damaged Buyers?

  • sales failing to meet plan
  • competitors sales growing
  • competitors gaining market share
  • profit decrease due to field discounting to “win the business
  • channel partners, distributors afraid to sell your products
  • past customers you have lost refusing to meet with you
  • you are losing large key accounts who have “been with you forever”
  • you consistently have missed new product launch dates
  • high turnover of star salespeople
  • you consistently miss product ship dates
  • customers embrace a new product and it fails
  • new products introduced before they were  ready
  • decrease in web traffic
  • buyers share “its all about price
  • current customers not embracing/supporting new products for 6-18 months after launch
  • current customers stop sharing problems they are experiencing
  • increase in product returns and or warrantee claims
  • increase in customer deductions off your sale invoices
  • sales fails to sell new customers
  • sales can not even book meetings with targeted market leading new customers
  • trade associations complain frequently about your company, service , and products
  • your web site and marketing brochures promise things that are not true with buyers using your product
  • unhappy customer experiences are found on web

I can hear some of you saying; “come on Mark, be realistic, anytime you sell a product or service you are going to have happy customers and unhappy customers. Customers sometimes are unhappy for no reason of our own and I don’t think it’s correct or fair to say they are brand damagedYour right, not all “unhappy” customers become brand damaged. If you have a clear path of communication and you are aware of problems in the buying experience and correct them, your buyers do not become damaged. It is the case when you keep beating buyers upside the head in sales presentations, webinars, your literature and web site with what your corporate team believes to be true, ( often wishes was true) that your buyers perceive ( have experienced)  as not true that they become Brand Damaged.

A quick way to determine if your buyers are suffering from Brand Damage is to ask yourself two questions;

As you read the above symptoms, how did it make you feel? Worried? Defensive?…you have brand damaged buyers in your market.

As you review the above list and you say “yes” to more than 5 of the above symptoms…you have brand damaged buyers in your market.

So how about your company…

Do you have Brand Damaged buyers in your market?

How do we heal Brand Damage in our markets and get back on track to creating profitable sales growth?

Once you have broken trust it is difficult to win it back. Buyers want to find brands they can trust. However when companies or representatives of companies keep selling the company line with their Kool-aid drinking mustaches still fresh on their faces, buyers become brand damaged. Brand Damaged buyers shop until they find another company who’s brand promise is true. In my next post I will discuss how to insure the brand burned into the minds of your buyers is the one you intended and how to heal brand damaged buyers.

The Value of the “Four Legged Sales Call”, …Fix Sales problems quickly

Posted by on May 6, 2011 with 6 Comments

 

 

 

 

The Value of the “Four Legged Sales Call”, …Fix Sales problems quickly

An “old school” technique to drive explosive sales and profit growth is the “four legged sales call” It doesn’t matter if you have a direct sales team , regional managers and or independent representative firms, the four legged sales call is the quickest path to incremental revenues and fixing your sales problems.

Let’s face it, in most markets out there it’s tough. The buying process has changed, we have more irrational competitors, and a much larger number of people influencing the purchase.

 

Sales today is like walking on Jell-O, its difficult to gain traction and easy to fall down.

I have a number of business leaders expressing a need for a quick fix, a quick way to fix their sales problem. They often phrase the need as “my sales rep team just can’t execute our plan.” When I hear this I often pause as based on my experience most salespeople “try” to execute “the plan”, however the root of the plan (marketing strategy) is often flawed and therefore they fail to execute and meet their sales goals. What market losers do is race to engage with what I call Mullet Marketing; doing the marketing work after the launch instead of understanding the market and it’s problems before the launch.

What are some signs your sales process is disconnected from the market?

 

  • 70% or more of your sales team are missing sales key performance indicators
  • Profit per sales below key indicator goal
  • Lead to sale ratio below prior, below goal
  • New product sales fail to meet plan
  • Customer satisfaction scores decrease
  • Customer service, technical assistance increases

 

The quickest way I have found, even with all the new CRM tools , win/ loss survey companies, online surveys, and so on is the “four legged sales call.”

In the four legged sales call the salesperson in charge of the account and is accountable for the sales from that account is joined by the VP of sales or the company President. While your salesperson is selling, your focus is to listen and observe.

What you are listening (looking) for?

  • salesperson’s understanding of the buyer’s problem
  • salesperson’s ability to communicate the problem your product or service solves
  • Does your salesperson have the right tools to help the buyer make a buying decision?
  • What are the buyers’s buying criteria today?
  • What is the buying process?
  • Does your sales process mirror the buying process?
  • What sales tools does your salesperson have and which ones do they use? Are they current, or something they created themselves?
  • Does the buyer have other problems they verbalize but your salesperson fails to hear?
  • Where does the buyer turn today when faced with an unresolved problem? …the internet, a trade journal, calls a local representative…
  • What other products does your buyer buy from competitors that they could be buying from you?
  • What % of the time is your salesperson listening versus talking? ( my favorite indicator)

 

I promise you, after a few four legged sales calls you will have a much better understanding of your market, buyers, and how buyers are buying. Make sure you visit accounts you are currently selling as well as those you lost and or are trying to sell. When you return to corporate gather your notes, look for common data points and adjust.

If you have not changed your sales process in the last six months it is broken!

 

When is the last time you went on a four was legged sales call?

 

When you ask your salespeople why they are not hitting sales objectives, do they say “price”? ( if so they are wrong)

 

What is your buyer’s buying process today? How has it changed over the last 6-12 months?

 

Are their other “old school” methods to fix sales problems? If so, what are they?

Is “Mullet Marketing” Hurting Your New Product Sales Launch?

Posted by on April 13, 2011 with 8 Comments

 

"short in the front...all business in the back"

The product everyone has been so excited to launch is now in the hands of your sales team. You thought this day would never come fast enough as your life has been a series of meetings, planning, possibly training and now your “birthed your baby”. However if you are like 90% of the organizations out there you are practicing “mullet marketing” and  you are missing ( falling short) of your new product launch sales goals and making that baby uglier by the day.

Why do new products fail to hit sales goals so often? The answer is often “Mullet Marketing”.

I was flipping channels the other day and a comedy was on from the 1980’s and the main character had a mullet haircut. As the charter explained his hair cut was ; short in the front and long ( all business) in the back…and it struck me how this is how most companies launch their new products.

Teams build a new product and or service and they rush to market so as not to miss a perceived window of opportunity. They feel their idea is so brilliant that how could it not be a huge profitable hit? They leap from idea to tactics.

Then reality hits and the Silo’s form as everyone spend time and energy trying to cover their tails….

Product Management

 “We talked to our key accounts and they said it would be a hit…must be a sales execution problem

Marketing

we hit our timeline on the web content, ads, and brochures, must be a product design issue…”

Engineering and Design 

you’re lucky to launch anything given the terrible product requirements we received, luckily since marketing and product management dropped the ball we designed something even better than what they were asking for…”

CFO

we conservatively invested $xxxxxxxx expecting a strong ROI and we are not hitting anywhere close to the numbers we were given and I’m looking for a throat to choke

CEO

we are having a tough enough year as it is, we were counting on this new products revenue, don’t tell me why you can’t hit your numbers…”just make it happen!”

So what happened? You thought your new mouse trap was going to take the market by storm.

In the majority of cases it is the result of ; Mullet Marketing, a short amount of effort before launch then all hands on deck after launch to figue it out and drive reveues. Teams that practice Mullet Marketing often measure each silo’s specific goals without a cross functional goal that defines a win for the team.

Market leaders understand the importance of marketing and product management prior to product design and definitely prior to launch. Market leaders spend time with customers, as well as non customers to understand the market. They clearly identified the market problem, the product requirements, buyer personas, buyer criteria and buying process.

Market losers believe they can “baffle the market with their brilliance” and we often hear this product is so smart …”even a monkey could sell it.” They spend very little time in the market doing their research and as a result spend a great deal of time and energy trying to drive revenue after launch.

So what kind of marketing is your organization practicing?

Just as a mullet hair cut stands out in our society today, companies practicing “mullet marketing” stand out as market losers in the markets they serve.

Have you ever seen mullet marketing work?

Who in your organization is held accountable to “figuring it out” and or “making it happen”?…after a mullet marketing product launch?

Have you been in a meeting of the silo’s…how did that turn out?

Market leaders understand the importance of spending the most time and energy prior to launch to enable and empower their sales teams to win new product sales.

You Do Not Need “More Leads”…

Posted by on December 14, 2010 with 2 Comments


Having led sales teams for over 25 years I have heard salespeople frequently say  …”If I only had more leads I could…” They say they could close more sales, sell more new products, and become more important to their distributor network…and so on. Like a carpenter with only a hammer, the solution is to just nail more leads. The trouble is the quickest way to improve revenues is not more leads.

What you need to do to quickly impact the bottom line is improve your sales close percentage with the leads you already receive.

Market leaders clearly understand the buying process and buying criteria.

Market leaders create sales tools to help their sales teams close a greater percentage of sales leads and create sales velocity.

Market losers play “extrapolation exasperation …if their team closes two sales out of ten leads, and they need to close six new accounts…its simple: we need more leads (30 or so)

You have already made the investment in marketing to drive the clicks…why not improve your team’s ability to turn clicks to customers?

Are Your Salespeople Playing “Feature and Benefit BINGO?”

Posted by on December 2, 2010 with 13 Comments

Are your salespeople costing you revenue you should be winning by playing “feature and benefit BINGO?” The only way you truly know is if you or your VP of sales is traveling and working in the market with your sales team.

Feature and benefit BINGO is a game untrained salespeople play far too often. They “show up and then they throw up” and they spew all the features and benefits they can think of waiting for your buyer to jump up and yell”…BINGO….I get it….I figured out what problems you can solve for me…”

Market leading salespeople ask questions and take the time to listen and understand the problems, the pain their buyers are experiencing and they position their product and or services as solutions to those problems.

As a quick litmus test, ask yourself who talked more in the meeting? Your buyer… or your salesperson? If it was your salesperson I promise you they are showing up and throwing up and it’s costing you sales revenues you could have won.

Are you playing feature and benefit BINGO in other areas?

Your website?

Brochures?

Your sales training?

Get Your Sales Team in Shape For Profitable Sales Growth

Posted by on November 13, 2010 with 8 Comments

calorieBurning-elliptical-intervalTraining         

Are your salespeople prepared to win in the market they face today? Are you sure? Market leaders are taking the time to clearly understand their markets, their problems, buyers, and buying process to make purchases. Market losers plan to work harder, doing more of what they have been doing that did not produce results. Losers believe it’s just an “execution problem” a “motivation problem” so they plan to “manage” their sales team’s activities even closer. Market leaders are getting their teams in shape for the market of today.

In March of 2009 I decided I needed to get in shape. Years of traveling two to three nights per week, poor food choices and lack of exercise and I found me in the worst shape I have ever been in. It was not something that happened over night, but over a long period of lack of focus. So the first thing I did was get moving. I started working out like a maniac. I took spin classes at 4:00 am and then I would lift weights and end my workouts on the elliptical machines. This went on for months, and although I did have more energy, I was not losing weight.

More Activity alone was not producing my desired results.

So I attacked this like a business problem; I started doing research. I found that I fell into the same trap many people assume when trying to get healthy; activity drives healthy results. Therefore we assume more activity should produce even more desired results right? Wrong! The more I read I learned that 65% of your health is determined by the food you consume (inputs) and 35% is activity (execution).

I was focused on activity with little attention to what I was consuming, what was going into my body. I found with the right focus on inputs, you don’t need to have 2-2 ½ hour workouts. A strong workout of 40-60 minutes produced greater results. Within twelve months I lost 80 pounds, became healthier, and I now have more energy and more time.

I find many businesses try to fix unhealthy sales results by demanding more activity without focus on key inputs.(strategy)

 

Managers quickly direct their sales teams to more activity although the current activity is not driving the desired results. (Einstein’s definition of insanity)

Just as there is a proven formula for creating a healthy body, I have found a similar model to create healthy sales teams that drives profitable sales growth.

65% of your profitable sales performance is driven by strategy (inputs)

 

35% of your profitable sales performance is the result of sales team execution (execution)

 

(Ironic most of us have this backwards…)

 

 

 

Strategy

 

To insure your salespeople are equipped to be effective and efficient in the market of today you must have a clear understanding of your market, market problems of today, and map how your buyers buy today. These inputs will strengthen the core of your sales team performance with a power that the majority of your competitors do not have.

So how do you get started?

Get out in the market

 

Ask open-ended questions

 

Meet with customers and those who you did not sell

 

Identify the problems they face today

 

Equip sales with a value proposition that resonate with buyer needs of today

 

Map the buying process buyer’s use

 

Create a sales process that mirrors how your buyers are buying today

 

Develop sales tools for areas in the buying process where the sale grows dark and stalls

 

Constantly review the buying process and adjust your sales process, add tools as needed

 

 

 

Activity

 

Once you clearly understand how your buyers are buying, how they are making buying decisions today, equip your sales team with a new sales process and tools. Manage their activity using the sales process that mirrors how buyers want to buy.

“Your focus must be on how your buyers want to buy and not on how you want to sell.”

 

How do we execute new sales process?

Share the buying processes you discovered with salespeople

 

Train your sales team with the sales process you developed to serve how your buyers are buying

 

Teach your salespeople how to, and when to, use the new sales tools you created

 

Create sales tools that share the problems you solve in the markets voice

 

Create key performance indicators that measure key steps in the sales process

 

Constantly assess your new defined sales process for areas the sale seems to go dark

 

Lead your sales team by managing sales opportunities through the defined sales process steps

 

Identify salespeople who may need additional, individualized training, or may not be embracing new process

 

The core strength of your sales team’s performance is based on clearly understanding your market…stay close to buyers

 

 

Applying a sales process that supports how your buyers want to buy will produce healthily results in sales revenues and profits.

 

“If you have not changed your sales process in the last 6 months it’s broken.”

 

“If you have not produced new sales tools in the last three months, you are losing sales you could be winning.”

 

 

 

How about your team?

Do you clearly understand the problems your buyers are facing today?

How are your buyers buying today?

How do your buyers shop today?

Who is involved in the buying decision, and what additional information do they require?

 What problem does your product or service solve for your market?

 

Market leading sales teams understand their buyers, buying criteria, and how they want to buy. They design sales processes that mirror how buyers want to buy and they equip their sales teams with sales tools to help buyers buy.

Is your Market Strategy one of a "Hawk" or a "Dove"? …

Posted by on September 11, 2010 with 1 Comments

 

Market leaders understand the importance of working their plan, and they do not focus on “crushing” the competition, but they do passionately serve their markets. (Doves) Market losers focus their energies on “beating”and “crushing” the completion and have little understanding of the problems of their buyers as their entire focus is on their competitor(s). (Hawks)

Doves strategically and passionately set out to solve their buyer’s problems. Hawks try to swoop in and destroy competitors who may or may not be perched with an understanding of buyers, their problems and buying criteria. (they are only as good as their competitors…who chances are do not understand their market) Ironically, Hawks actually believe their competitors must know the market or they would not be trying to “beat” them.

The trouble occurs when you chase the quest to destroy competitors you fly even closer to your competitor and farther away from understanding your market.

 

One of the benefits of working with a variety of business leaders is listening to their stories. Recently I met with an entrepreneur who shared how he learned one of the most valuable lessons in business strategy  long ago when he served the Marriott Corporation. He described their training and one of their sessions was called “Hawks and Doves”. In this exercise they broke off into small groups and were presented a business challenge. Predictably, everyone fell into the trap of wanting to attack and crush the competition as a Hawks. Admittedly there is a sense of machismo ego in being a Hawk after all. However the problem with being a Hawk is there are always Eagles who can swoop down ( out of seemly no where) and destroy you. Doves however are singularly focused; serving the needs of their market.

As Hawks, you rely ( focus) on your prey,… in a way you are counting on their smarts, their understanding of the market….a follower strategy.

This entrepreneur went on to share how when Marriott would have a location oversold they would have a network of other hotels they would send customers to. On the surface this may seem odd, right? However Marriott is and has been consistently one of the top hotel chains in the world. Their quality and service are consistently recognized as market leaders.

Market leaders serve their market.

Market losers focus on killing competitors.

When I wrote “are you a Pit Bull or a Poodle?” I shared the tenacity entrepreneurs must have . They have a  sence of ownership and not a victim out look. However I do not want to leave you with the impression that means attacking and chewing up your competition. Pit bulls have a fierce tenacity and jaw strength that insures when they clamp down on unresolved market problems and they do not let go.

 As Pit Bull entrepreneurs you clamp down on your commitment to solve your buyers’ problems with your product or solution, but do so with the market serving strategy of a Dove.

How about your organization…..

Is your focus that of a Hawk or a Dove?

How’s that working for you?

Does your mission statement sound like a Dove strategy but you work for a Hawk?

 At the end of the day, it’s about your team’s intentional focus. Are you focused on serving your market or destroying the competition?

Pick wisely…

What Should You Do if You Report to an “ASS Kicker”?…Forgive Them

Posted by on June 18, 2010 with 9 Comments

 

 

There are various styles that leaders use to drive growth. Some unfortunately are less intentional and fall into a bullying and “ASS Kicking” mode. So what are you to do if you find yourself reporting to an ASS Kicker?….believe it or not you must forgive them.

In business, ..Heck,.. in life ,you will encounter all types of people. Some will stand out as mentors for you .My first job, right out of college was a route salesman for Frito-Lay. I see now I was blessed to have worked for an amazing mentor named Harry Jones. He was ; firm fair and consistent. He owned his areas of responsibility. When I made mistakes (often back then) he took the pressure from above and used the mistake as a teaching moment.

Unfortunately I have experienced many  leaders who lead by intimidation , bullying their teams and they frequently looked for : “What ASS to Kick” instead of the defining the nature of the problem that needs solved. They fail do the heavy lifting of finding market truths and they shoot from the hip and their gut.

I feel comfortable discussing “Ass Kickers” as regrettably this was my style early in my career. I drove  my teams through intimidation. Sure I mentally justified my actions with thoughts like;

They will thank me some day   ( none ever did)

 

It is the quickest route to the objective ( wrong, it often caused many other concerns)

 

People need to be driven  ( no, they need to be led, and leadership is difficult )

 

They know what needs to be done and are just not “ motivated” “accountable” ( wrong, in most cases my communication was poor and the team lacked a clear understanding of the objective and they did not have the tools to win)

 

The solution to the problem at hand is the only consideration. ( little or no consideration for the relationship with those involved, win battle lose war)

With  thoughts like above and others racing through their minds, leaders with a low emotional intelligence lead by “ASS Kicking”. Without a leadership filter that also considers the big picture, corporate values and the relationships with those involved they spew their  kicking , throat choking rhetoric.

Sadly, this behavior has a common root: Fear.

As I discussed in my post : Are You Looking For “An ASS To Kick”…” Throat to Choke” or a Solution to a Problem?… (There is a difference) leaders who use a bully approach are very afraid. In their fear they become frustrated, anxious, and more fearful the challenges they face will somehow tarnish their reputation and or political power.

 

So what do you do if you work for an Ass Kicking Boss?…..FORGIVE  THEM

What? Are you nuts? This guy (gal) treats me like crap and I am supposed to just forgive them?” ….Yes!

I heard once; anger and resentment are like acids that only damage the vessel that contains them.

 

If you hold on to the anger, hurt, and so on you feel from your throat choker it will hurt you physically, professionally ,emotionally, and financially.

So forgive them. The first reason to do so is it is Biblical. Finding faith , the truths in the Bible is what taught me the errors of my ways and empowers me to serve my teams today.Second , you must release the anger festering inside . ( I promise you your ASS Kicker has already forgotten what they said to you) Third, your inner anger and frustration , if left unchecked ,will bleed into your relationships with customers, and more important your loved ones.

“ASS Kickers” are not dumb people. Chances are they busted their ( you know what’s) back in the day, earned their bones on a daily basis. They are not happy people. My recommendation is to gather raw unfiltered data as fast as possible and present that data and ask them what they would do. You may need to also make sure, once you see the data , that you truly are doing the best job you could be doing. If not , admit it and commit to improve.

If you take my advice, gather data ( facts without judgments) see how the leader reacts….

If they roll up their sleeves and offer to help, hang in there.

If they blow up again, and actually make the problem worse…leave.

Good value adding employees do not need to put up with an abusive boss.

You are not trapped in this job.

You are not a slave, owned by this employer.

Yes it is frightening when you mentally commit to leave, however you will also gain peace as you can tolerate the abusive boss while you know there is light ahead ….and it’s not a train.

There are many people who have written about abusive/ bad bosses and below are some links if you want to hear other’s views;

What To Do When Your Boss Is A Jerk

 

If Your Boss is a Jerk, Don’t be a Willing Victim 

 

When you work for a Bully 

 

How to Handle a Bullying Boss

 

How to Deal With Bully Bosses

 

Tactics Of A Workplace Serial Bully Boss

 

Bad Boss-Health This Week with Don Baillargeon  ( you tube)  

 

Fox News – Dealing with a Bad Boss – Joe Takash ( you tube)

 

 

So if you work for an ASS Kicking boss…forgive them and remember you are in control of how you feel.

 

You can choose to become angry and bitter and lose yourself in self-pity, or you can choose to forgive them and release that internal acid.

 

You are in control as you can also leave and add value somewhere else.

 

 I Attended an awesome seminar years ago by the Covey institute and I think it was called the Power Principle. simply stated;

“you are not free to stay….until you are free to walk away”

Are You Looking For “An ASS To Kick”…” Throat to Choke” or a Solution to a Problem?… (There is a difference)

Posted by on June 11, 2010 with 6 Comments

When things go wrong, (or not according to plan) how do you and other leaders in your organization react? (go ahead, be honest…it’s just the two of us…) Do you and other leaders look for “What ASS to Kick” or “What Throat to Choke”? Or do you focus on determining and defining the problem and setting out to develop a creative solution?

Your answer will determine if you are on a “market leading” team, or a “market Losing” team.

Predictably our President Obama used some hard talk, harsh rhetoric in a recent interview. I am not going to debate if he was too cool and calm to this point, and if he should have or shouldn’t have said he was looking for “What ASS to Kick”. What I want is for you to watch this You tube clip of the interview and ask yourself how it makes you feel if this was someone you reported to.

Go ahead click this link…I will wait…

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQ3nSUdsOeU .

Ok, so how did it make you feel?

 

Before we judge the president too harshly… do you or your organization allow and practice this behavior of blame storming? You sure? When I saw this interview I first thought his language was predictable in the sense that the news media was challenging his calm demeanor during this crisis. So I expected some much stronger language. However when someone in a position of leadership takes this bully approach it quickly makes me feel like they are not a part of the problem or solution. It as if they are a leader trying to distance themselves from the problem as opposed to owning it and being a part of the solution.

When a business leader speaks like this to his or her team ( or me) , they are basically saying…” I don’t know what to do…I am frustrated…my assumption is you know the problem …the perfect solution, and you are choosing not to work,…you are not motivated( accountable)  to execute what needs to be done for one reason or another…and I am tired of looking bad” It’s ok to admit a problem frustrates you. However it is not ok to take your frustration out on others.

Leaders who jump into blame storming mode are more concerned about how the current situation makes them look…”politically”. They are actually fear motivated as they are fearful of how the current situation may somehow attach and tarnish their personal reputation. Blame storming is about reducing their exposure, their fear, by becoming “above” the situation. The trouble is when you enter fear mode, your creatvity needed to solve the problem shuts down.

Do you feel you would be loyal to a leader so quick to look for someone to “Throw under the bus?”

 

Market leaders gather data and perform triage not to find a “Throat to Choke” ( hold people more accountable) but to establish truths versus relying on their gut and intuition.

Market leaders clearly define the problem and humbly seek the advice of experts that have solved problems like this in the past. They seek out advice and develop a plan, a roadmap to a solution based on the data gathered and they manage the process not the people.

Market leaders use problems and challenges to strengthen their teams, and their teams loyalty to them and the organization.

So again I ask….What kind of organization do you work for?

 

Is there ever a time “ASS Kicking” or Throat Choking” is the solution? (I don’t think so but hey…I may be wrong. so please share)

 

Should we seek out “who to blame”?

 

Or

 

Should we clearly define the problem and set out to solve it?

 

Or do you believe ( as one CEO said to his senior leadership team before a  board meeting) : “We need to identify a fall guy for —– as I do not want it on my head”

Again, feel free to argue with me…but I believe people come to work with the desire to add value, the desire to make a difference. If you truly have an accountability problem then shame on you as the leader for allowing it to result in a problem ( disaster) like you are now facing.  Accountability problems do not just show up one day, they fester over time.

As the leader, your job is to create a culture that focuses on the problem and not the person. 

Your role is to  rally your team to break through problems and roadblocks. ( not look for someone to  run over)

Here’s a Banana For Your Baby… (your business)

Posted by on May 29, 2010 with 2 Comments

 

 

One of the most difficult parts of serving entrepreneurial leaders is telling them a part or their entire baby (their business) is ugly.  Some self proposed consulting experts say; “focus on the positives, build on successes” and not to risk their monthly retainers. I choose to ignore the obvious politically correct answers and add value by presenting market truths.

If your baby is ugly I prefer to tell you so we can develop a plan based on current truths to help lead you and your organization to a position of market leadership.

The quickest way for your baby to become ugly is to stop focusing on understanding your market, its buyers and their problems and start focusing on your growth objectives.

 

Last week I had dinner with my friend Graeme from the UK and he told me a joke that made me laugh, and also reflect on what it is often like to serve some organizations and their leaders.

 

 

So this guy is walking through the park and comes upon a woman with a baby stroller and she is crying. Trying to console her asks what is wrong… The young mother goes on to say that everyone says her baby is ugly and it really hurts her feelings. The stranger goes on to assure her that babies are cute and he was sure her baby was no different. The woman stopped crying and thanked him for his kind words. As he started to leave he said “Once again, I am sure your baby is not ugly…and oh, here’s a banana for your monkey”.

Having served a number of teams over the past 26 years I have experienced these integrity moments when I must share market driven truths with aggressive, entrepreneurial leaders. Often discovered truths are ugly. If the leader and his or her team is truly focused on authentically, passionately serving their market and increasing shareholder value they hear the market truths and ask me to guide them in developing a corrective roadmap.

If the leader and or their team however lack the emotional intelligence to hear constructive market driven feedback…I loose a client, and once again I am labeled a Heretic ( the person who stands up against group-think)  as Art Petty discusses in his recent blog post.

I am curious…if your baby needs a banana do you want me to tell you?

Are you sure?

 

Do members of your team have the moral courage to give you a banana when they need to?

 

Have you fostered a culture that welcomes bananas?

What goal is more important to you…your ego or becoming a market leader and increasing shareholder value?

 

One of the first stages of a fall from market leadership that Jim Collins discusses in his book: How the Might fall is; Hubris born of success.

Does this describe your senior leadership team? Your owner?

 

When asked to serve a team that is struggling or just suck, I prefer to gather current market driven data and present the current reality. My clients pay me to help get them back on course and I must be a good steward of their investment and present market truths.

Would this approach work with your senior leadership team? Why or why not?