Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Do You Know Your Company’s “Make or Break”

Dan Barnett, former COO of  Vistage International and former CEO of Van de Kamps Seafood is one of Vistage International’s most sought after resource speakers. Some time ago Dan spoke to our local Vistage CEO group on his topic of Make or Break Execution. Simply put Make or Break asks, “What is the ONE THING that you or your business needs to do to deliver on your vision?” In particular, what is that one thing your business must do that matters most to your customers. Perhaps more specifically, what’s the one thing your business must do better than your competition?

At Van de Kamps Dan discovered to his surprise that the one thing that customers valued above all when they chose their provider of frozen seafood was freshness. That’s right, freshness. In response, Van de Kamps launched an advertising campaign to educate customers about the actual freshness of frozen-at-sea products vs. products bought fresh (or at least never frozen).

Once they understood the customer preference their first step was to purchase all available capacity in the factory trawler fleet. This approach helped Dan take Van de Kamps from number three to number one, a change worth, as you would expect, millions of dollars. And it was a market position that endured.

As COO at Vistage, tasked with increasing membership, Dan came to understand the Make or Break was finding and retaining great group chairs. Put simply, great chairs attract and retain great members.

At the recent All Things Digital Conference, Apple CEO  Tim Cook was asked about the potential for Apple’s growth. In particular, the interviewer wanted to know if the growth could continue at the current rate, and if Apple could someday become the first trillion dollar company. His response was perfectly aligned with Apple’s historic approach and with Dan Barnett’s Make or Break. Cook said, “We will continue to make great products and the rest will take care of itself.”

So what is your company’s Make or Break?

PostHeaderIcon Want to Delight Your Customers? Map How They Feel

Every interaction a customer has with your company says something about your brand. Do you know how you’re making them feel with every touch point? Most companies have detailed processes for delivering products but very little definition of the emotional experience they want customers to have. To delight customers, decide how you want them to feel, and tailor your communications and actions to produce the right emotional experience.

When do your customers interact with your company?

Start by outlining every typical touch point the customer has with your company while completing a process. This could be as detailed as the step-by-step process for registering online with your website, or as broad as your management of new clients if you’re a services firm. The key is to list all the touch points where you can influence the customers’ experience.  An Excel spreadsheet is a useful tool for this exercise.


PostHeaderIcon Build Rapport with Challenging Customers or Employees

This week our two Tucson Vistage CEO groups hosted author, speaker and trainer Abe Wagner speaking on Increasing Motivation and Productivity. Wagner’s presentation is based on a foundation of Transactional Analysis and Neurolinguistic Programming. In 3 hours he presented and demonstrated tools that, with a  little practice can be used to build rapport as a solid basis for difficult conversations with clients, employees or family members. Among the many topics he covered was the concept of channels: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. We learned that practically all of us rely on a mixture of all three, and that all of us also have a preferential channel–one that we will go to in times of stress.

Why is that important? When communicating with others and attempting to first build rapport one technique for reaching rapport quickly is identifying and matching the preferential channel of the other person.

Wagner, author of Say It Straight or You’ll Show It Crooked, and The Transactional Manager identified seven techniques that focus on one particular approach he calls The Map of The World. In essence, these are techniques to help see the situation from the perspective of the other.  They are:


  1. Paraphrase
  2. Check and Paraphrase
  3. Asking Questions
  4. Brief Responses
  5. Making Sounds
  6. Non Verbal Clues and
  7. Touching.

Much of this is framed in Wagner’s model of Ego States. These states are interesting in that some are constructive and some quite the opposite. They include:

  1. The Nurturing Parent
  2. The Critical Parent
  3. The Adult
  4. The Natural Child
  5. The Defiant Child

Most of us move in and out of these states regularly. Some spend more time in the destructive states than others. The key according to Wagner is to respond to attack, defiance, and aggression from one of the “blue states,” those being the Adult, Nurturing Parent or Defiant Child.

Wagner is typical of our great Vistage speakers who present information founded in solid, analytical theory who are able to distill that theory down into usable, practical techniques and models. If you’d been in one of these two meetings you’d be much better equipped to deal with the world than you were on Monday. Find much more information in either of his two books.



PostHeaderIcon Seven Steps to Sales Recovery

Seven Steps to Sales Recovery

By Vistage member and speaker Russ Riendeau, PhD

Is your sales strategy no longer producing the revenue results you want? Then it’s time to inspire your sales team to do more. Here are eight ways to secure new orders and get the most out of your team.

  1. Rank the sales team: Keep a transparent monthly and long-term ranking of each sales member. What if the bottom 20 percent of your team was gone in two weeks? Think of something more productive you can do with the money you save, such as hiring a sales trainer, holding a contest, or recruiting better talent.
  2. Upgrade your marketing tools: Check your sales presentation kits. Are the brochures vibrant, current and accurate? Is your company’s competitive advantage well expressed? Is your website current? Do you have a video of what you do that is professional or fun?
  3. Go in the field: As a business owner or manager, you should commit to making at least one sales call per month with each of your sales team. The consequences of failing to maintain your presence in front of current and future customers is simple: Out of sight—must be out of business. Additionally, you’ll be able to assess your sales talent pool when you make calls with them.
  4. Start a sales contest: Create a contest to stimulate quarterly sales. The prize can be an HD television, a vacation to the Caribbean, one hundred $100 bills in a glass case—make it big, visible and public. Fire up the team and see what they’ll do.
  5. Provide sales training now: Provide a sales training session that focuses on how to sell in a fear-based economy. Hire a trainer who has a current approach to jumpstart your team. The $2000-$4000 you spend on the trainer might bring back ten times the investment in new sales.
  6. Measure sales activities: Start measuring activities that generate sales. These activities can include sales visits, outbound phone calls, text messages, letters, proposals, purchase orders, emails, or attending association functions. Create simple templates to measure every activity of all salespeople to see who is effective.
  7. Set new quotas: Meet with each salesperson and re-establish sales quotas.

There are two simple, but tough truths about increasing sales. You’ve got to hold people accountable to do their job better, and measure their activities. It starts with you making the commitment and staying the course.

Russ Riendeau, PhD, is senior partner with East Wing Group, Inc., a search firm specializing in sales and management search. Russ is a Vistage speaker and co-author of The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition . He can be reached at