Welcome to WinningStance’s WinBlog

September 6, 2008

Eyeful Sales Process

Welcome to the WinningStance WinBlog.  You can read more about WinningStance on the “About” tab up above.  Our focus is professional development skills with a specialty in medical and graphic arts capital equipment.

Many of you in the graphic arts industry, which we will henceforth refer to as graphic communications or GC industry, already know Ron.  For those of you that don’t, he has long history, about 29 years of industry experience. Mariana comes from the high tech and  telecommunications sector.  She is multilingual and supports our international efforts.

This is a B2B oriented blog and discussion points around the Medical Device and GC industry as well as marketing, selling and professional development are areas of interest to us and hopefully those who might read this.  So let’s see what happens…

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Learning for competitive edge

November 25, 2009

One thing I learn and verify every day is that, if we want to survive in business, nowadays it is imperative to keep our business, products, and yes, ourselves as well, up to date with new technology, new techniques and strategies, new control processes, and new conclusions regarding consumer behavior and their requests.

Research and development, marketing research, and product/service development are critical in order to respond to the rapid decision making processes and higher quality standards that globalization and IT are providing. The fact that everybody has the possibility to have any information they request available instantly or almost instantly, creates the need for a learning organization.

The learning organization is always finding ways to differentiate from the competition and provide their customers and potential clients of the solutions to their needs. And that is how we see businesspeople reading psychology based books as Blink or Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell.

It is necessary for every organization to learn and discover how their clients think, what they want, and how to create the proper solution that will answer to their needs and give them the value that they were looking for. Only that way a company would achieve competitive edge. Customer service and customer care are more important than ever to sustain that competitive edge.


Overcoming resistance to change to retain talent in an organization

October 21, 2009

Nobody likes change. It is a fact that change has the more resistance in all of us, no matter how much we would like to improve current conditions. Because of this resistance, many organizations may lose some talent when the company undergoes some change in structure or business processes, as many are currently dealing with due to the existing economic turmoil. However, if managed carefully, change may bring some positive outcome and attract and keep talent in the workforce.

First of all, leaders must allow their workforce to participate and take more interest in the change process. When employees within the organization feel that they matter, and they are part of the change, they also are more motivated to stay in the organization and identify with its goals. Even though this task tends to be difficult to appear within large organizations, it is not impossible.

Another tool to use for motivation is communication. When leaders communicate openly the reasons why the change is needed and “the negative consequences of the old ways” the workforce will also understand and embrace the change much faster.

Finally, it is necessary that all individuals receive the education and support that they need to carry out the new processes and efforts without feeling overwhelmed. Empathy and emotional intelligence are two characteristics that all leaders should count on to assist them in the task of attracting qualifying individuals to work as a team embracing change.


Tradeshow Tidbits

August 19, 2009

Tradeshows are a significant investment and in today’s economic environment it is vital that you maximize your time spent at your next show.  After many years of experience I put together a set of guidelines that I have found very useful and thought I would share them.  These should come in handy with Print 09 just around the corner.

The Top Five Tidbits

The Demo:  This is the primary reason that an attendee elects to attend a trade show.  They are there to see the product demonstrated live.  You need to have your demonstrations well scripted, prepared and customer centric.  Have you done your research on the attendee, are you demonstrating to their needs? You may be very proud of your products features but they are meaningless if they are not delivered with the customer need in mind and the resulting benefit.

Six degrees of Separation:  Use your network.  If your booth is recommended to a potential customer by someone else than the likelihood that they will visit is much higher.

Personal Invitation:  Use your sales force and the relationship that they have built with their customers and prospects.  Today a personalized invitation signed by the sales rep inviting a prospect to the booth can be very effective.

Location Location Location:  We have heard it many times in many areas but there is no doubt that this is a key contributor to the success of your booth.  If your customer can’t find you then it is going to be pretty difficult to deliver an effective trade show demonstration.

Size Matters: Like it or not it’s a fact the biggest booth gets the most attention.  Even if you need to manage your budget, creative signage and layout can give you the illusion of having a “big booth”.

About your Prospect

Never Underestimate ANYBODY

They may be wearing jeans, they may be younger than you expect, and they may be asking casual unrelated questions.  No matter what treat every person that walks into the booth as a potential buyer.  I remember a tradeshow where the gentleman handed me a business card with the title “trouble maker”.  We later sold him $750,000 of equipment for his printing firm in Hawaii.  (you know who you are).

We don’t need no stinkin’ badges….

There is a reason that badges are issued to attendees, so you can read their names.  After you do, use them!  “So Tom, tell me what area is your firm looking to make improvements, you have invested the time to attend so….”

Early Riser Or Late Bloomer

This person shows up right when the doors open.  They may not appear to be anyone special; however they are often your power buyer.  It is also typical for the power buyer to hang around when things are winding down.  They me be perusing your booth after most have left and asking a lot of questions, this is more than likely someone who is ready to buy.

Don’t Ignore Prospects

One of the rudest things you can do is ignore a prospect . . . even for a few seconds.  Nobody likes to be ignored.  If you’re busy when someone approaches, either acknowledge him/her to try to include him/her in your conversation.  If you’re talking to a booth mate or neighbor, break it off immediately.

It’s All ABout You!

Party Time… Not!

OK, let’s be realistic tradeshows can have a reputation of being an opportunity to be a little wild.  Don’t get caught up in the excitement, let your competition whoop it up.  The next morning when the potential buyers walk in and you have had your 7 – 8 hours sleep who is going to be ready to address their questions and concerns?

Competitive Edge

Tradeshows can be consuming.  I have heard many of my peers comment “ we were so busy we never got out of the booth” too bad, what venue other than a trade show gives you an opportunity to hear your competitions entire pitch, new product announcements, key solutions, the trade show.  By planning and scheduling your staff effectively there is ample time for someone to gather the information necessary to maintain your competitive edge. .

Etiquette

These should be obvious but I have to mention them because it still occurs; chewing gum, eating, drinking, sitting and even reading the newspaper should NEVER occur in the booth.  Nothing is more irritating to a tradeshow attendee then walking into a booth and seeing any or all of these in combination.

Clustering!

One of my pet peeves…  OK, you work for a large international corporation and you have offices around the world.  Wow what a great opportunity to catch up with or even meet the people that you have been e-mailing back and forth for the past year.  Do yourself a favor and have pre-show meeting the day before so you can get that out of the way.  You are there to talk with the tradeshow attendees, your prospects, not each other!

You Are What You Eat (And Drink)

A nice steak, couple of martinis, maybe a bottle of wine, now that’s what I call customer entertainment.  It is also what I call having a rough morning the next day.  Stay away from heavy and rich foods and alcohol.  Let’s face it, this is only for a few days you can do it.  You will be much better “on your feet” the next day.

Grooming

I know, it’s all the rage to wear a cool sport shirt with your company logo, maybe even ball caps that are monogrammed.  Personally I think it is time to get back to basics.  Whatever happened to a nice conservative 2-piece suite for a man or dress suit for women when working the booth?  Who would you rather do business with?

Lanyards Are So “Techy”

I carry a small clip with a plastic loop that snaps through the lanyard badge.  That way I can clip it on my right lapel where it is visible, turned facing the customer and to his or her left.  When I lean in to shake their hand they can clearly read my badge eliminating the embarrassing “oh your badge is turned around on your lanyard so what is your name again?”

Keep it Clean

I like to call it “I get no respect” that is if the booth could talk.  Empty paper cartons, food containers, drink cups, the list goes on.  Keep it off the show floor and most certainly out of the booth.

This Is A Lead Generating Opportunity!

OK, I can accept that this is one of the key reasons for attending.  On the other hand if your customer is coming to the show to buy, who are you to discourage them!  Yes folks this is an order writing opportunity as well!


Communication to improve responsiveness

August 14, 2009

One way that all organizations should do in order to address stakeholder expectations  and improve responsiveness is being “rule breakers”. This does not mean not having a structure, but being flexible and agile enough to respond to customers’ requirements as fast as possible, since this is a feature that is very demanded in companies nowadays. This ability to adapt to the quickly-changing demands is crucial for the success of the company, and the organizations that do not abide to this methodology succumb to the bureaucracy that hinders customer service and the company’s success.

Another way to improve customer responsiveness is through the process called Customer Relationship Management (CRM), in order to have an intimate knowledge of the customers’ needs, wants, and buying patterns. This way organizations are able to understand, as well as anticipate, the needs of current and potential customers.

However, CRM by itself is not sufficient to improve responsiveness. Employees must receive training that focuses in this area as well. This way, it would be possible to improve both employee and customer responsiveness. Additionally, receiving training to improve core competencies allows the learning organization to improve responsiveness and continuing progressing.

All these techniques require a crucial element: communication. This fundamental must be effective enough to receive and process the information about customers and employees that demand change to address expectations. As Karen Greenbaum mentions, communication could be defined as “leading, informing, listening and involving” (Cited in Anonymous, 1998, p. 1).

References:

Anonymous (1998). An international employee feedback system. Communication World, 15(3), 20-23. Retrieved on August 13, 2009 from AB/INFORM Global.


Valuing Diversity

July 28, 2009

Being part of a minority group, I can see how beneficial is the diversity WinningStance presents, not only for the company itself, but also for our clients and business partners.

First of all, I can see how diversity decreases stereotyping and prejudice, allowing not only other people to decrease the typical stereotype about Latin women,  but also myself to decrease my own stereotypes and prejudice about others. I must admit that living in United States gave me the cultural shock that allowed me to change my stereotypes about people, culture and even jobs or careers. This experience taught me “not to judge a book by its cover”. In addition, this modification and diminishment of stereotypes allowed our company, clients, prospects, and business partners, to develop a wider variety of perspectives, which resulted in a positive progress of our business relationships.

Another value that diversity brought to WinningStance is the possibility of bringing our services around the world, not only by speaking different languages, but also by adjusting culturally the different concepts, since some concepts would not have the same receptivity in United States than in Greece, for example. This resulted in a complete differentiator for WinningStance, resulting in a definite increase in our market positioning and potential revenue, therefore increasing achievement of our goals and productivity.

I am a total believer of the benefits of diversity for any organization, some of the benefits mentioned above. Absolutely this is not a simple task to overcome, since it requires more effort to relate to others. I had this difficulty when I came to United States. However, the progress in my maturity in this regard, and the improvement in my critical thinking and problem solving skills allowed me to understand that the effort was worth it.

A good strategy for increasing diversity is applying to education and coaching people in the fact that if we open our minds and learn more from each other, it is possible to balance and leverage our strengths and, as a result, be more efficient and productive. The result of this kind of mature diversity is a win-win situation for all parties.


A learning organization

June 10, 2009

Not only WinningStance revolves around learning, since the services we offer are training workshops, but we also understand the importance of being “adept at learning”, as Donald Schon (1973) observes about learning societies that need to transform themselves when there are changing circumstances (cited in Smith, 2001). Definitely, this is what makes my organization a learning one. Not only we are immerse in the constant learning that allows us to the transformation that is needed to overcome obstacles, but we also share values and principles that are exhibited in our organization, and are necessary to obtain the desired results. Furthermore, one of our most important values is that every experience is a learning experience. Every mistake, every success, every obstacle that we face or every step we move towards our goals, we consider them as learning experiences, which makes the organization continually growing and progressing.

One practice that we incorporated in our learning systems is to consider and study not only the best practices, that is the actions that result in the desired outcomes, but also the worst practices, that is the actions that result in the wrong or undesired outcomes. We base this concept in the analysis developed by Jim Collins (2001), who studied the difference between the good companies and the best companies in each industry and concluded that only the best companies make learning and analysis of good and bad practices a priority.

We understand that, in order to build a shared vision and achieve our organizational goals, learning is a process that needs to be constantly present in our organization.

References:

Collins, J. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap… and others don’t. New York: Harper Collins. 

Smith, M. K. (2001). The learning organization. The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. Retrieved on May 8, 2009 from http://www.infed.org/biblio/learning-organization.htm.


Employee Motivators and Marlow’s Hierarchy of Needs

May 20, 2009

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, every individual would be motivated to work if he or she meets the basic needs, in the following order: physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem and self-actualization (Jones and George, 2007, pp. 329-331). Only after satisfying one range of needs, the individual would pursue satisfaction of the next range. In the case of a weak economy, when the unemployment rate is high, individuals that have a salary to provide for food, clothes and housing have the physiological needs met. Workers are more motivated and are more satisfied with their jobs during a recession because having a job allows them to provide to themselves and their families with the means to meet the physiological needs.  Therefore, satisfying the physiological needs is enough motivator to be satisfied with their jobs.

 On the other hand, safety needs are met when the employee has adequate medical benefits. During a recession, a company does not need to consider these medical benefits as a priority. The reason is that as long as an individual feels that his physiological needs are being met, contrary to so many other unemployed people, this creates more job satisfaction than in the past, when the unemployment was not as high and physiological needs were already met by default. When this happened, the motivator was acquiring more medical benefits and participating in better interpersonal relationships at work.

What is very interesting is that most employees find very relevant the ability to improve skills to enhance the employee’s value to the company. I can see that many managers may not have the same perception. However, being able to improve one’s strengths is a powerful motivator in a time of economic turmoil. Because of the lack of job security, an employee may find it important to develop him or herself professionally in order to increase his or her value even in case of being laid off, so he can compete with the high offer of unemployed professionals.  During times when the unemployment rate is high, receiving a benefit such as training becomes more attractive because the employee sees it as an opening to find more job opportunities if he or she loses the current job, in order to continuing meeting the physiological needs. 

References:

Jones, G. R., & George, J. M. (2007).  Essentials of contemporary management (2nd ed).  Boston:  McGraw-Hill.

Shepherd, Leah Carlson. (2008). Employers adjust benefits in a weak economy. Employee Benefit News. Retrieved May 6, 2008, from   http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1545952181&sid=1&Fmt=3&clientId=74379&RQT=309&VName=PQD