Target Employee’s Amazing Black Friday Pep Talk

Shift meetings are supposed to be fun and motivating.  But most are boring.  These meetings are a great opportunity to get feedback from your employees.  But most are one way communication tools.  Most importantly, these meetings should have a call to action.  Yet most fall flat.

The shift meeting below does not fall flat.  This manager understands what a shift meeting can do.  Enjoy.  It is one of the best!

It starts with this…”People of Target, brothers, sisters, hear me now,” he said. “They’re standing out there. Any moment now, those doors will be breached. Whatever comes through those gates, you will stand your ground with a smile on your face.” And it only gets better!

Employee Engagement Surveys…Junk?

Survey PictureBack in the 90’s employee engagement surveys became the rage.  Of course many of the surveys and the data were being collected in the 80’s.  One of the seminal studies was made famous by the Harvard Business Review demonstrating a connection between employee satisfaction and revenue/customer purchasing.  It was about Sears in their heyday.

While US organizations spend over $700 million attempting to strengthen employee engagement, most of it is spent on surveys that do not work and not on efforts that do.

The Journal for Quality and Participation says that in many cases you are wasting your money. “The dirty little secret of employee engagement surveys is that they’re largely junk science.”

There are a number of problems with these surveys.

  • The models were born in the 80’s and people still think they are relevant.
  • Benchmark data can lead you astray by comparing your organization to averages and organizations that are either not relevant or face different challenges.
  • Consulting firms provide recommendations that for problems that do not exist or have little impact.
  • Action planning, the way it is handled, does not promote engagement principles.
  • Organizations spend so much getting a picture of what their organization looks like from the survey, they invest little in actually impacting engagement.
  • Survey companies have difficultly offering practical advice or understanding their client’s business.

Embedded Engagement: It is a Process

We have discussed the ways in which building a culture of engagement in the workplace is like building a healthy home environment. One necessary component in this process is, well, process.

An organization dedicated to an engaged workplace will develop its processes in a way that supports this effort. It may seem odd to talk about processes when we are discussing culture, but when we think about it, isn’t this where the rubber really hits the road in an organization?

Everything is process in the workplace. Almost nothing gets done without it. And in this maze of competing processes lies one of the greatest opportunities for engagement to become lost, and never to be found again. There are even processes for shaping the processes.

Sadly, in the situations that provide the great opportunities for engagement, this opportunity is often overlooked or ignored. This is because these situations often involve urgent or unexpected developments.

They can lead to a reactionary response, designed to ensure secrecy and “hierarchical” behaviors. However, if the mission and culture of the organization are not being considered, and all employees who may create value included, the result may in fact not be responsive or confidential, because it will lead to further problems down the road.

Take, for example, two companies with urgent customer satisfaction issues. Both companies consider themselves to be dedicated to engagement, valuing the benefits of an engaged workplace to their organization.

However, the first company responds to the situation by bringing together a small group of individuals, on a “need to know” basis. The conversation in the room is mostly one-sided, and focused on gaining agreement, assigning blame, and protecting those not directly accountable from the incident being deflected toward them.

This process is being conducted quickly, so the organization can get back to its normal discussions, engagement practices, and celebration of those things that are going well. But does it really speak to engagement?

In the second company, a different approach is taken. There is sincere interest in not only solving the immediate customer problem, but creating a learning experience to ensure this customer, as well as others, have increased confidence in the company in the future.

Discussions include all employees who can contribute, and whose work impacts customers like this one. There is a dialog in which everyone is allowed to participate, and a solution is agreed upon and implemented.

Leadership is informed, the customer is made aware of the solution and the company’s commitment, and the developments are shared with all employees who support customer relationships. In this company, the problem is not likely to occur again, and if it does, employees will be better prepared to handle it.

This is one of the situations in which it is most important to “walk the talk” about engagement.

There are many other types of processes that should be examined to be sure they support the engagement effort. These include:

  • employee selection and on-boarding
  • employee development
  • performance reviews
  • strategic planning
  • budgeting
  • product launch
  • customer relationship management
  • project management
  • crisis management
  • community relations
  • media relations
  • meeting and event planning
  • employee recognition
  • employee surveys

In what ways does your organization design processes with engagement in mind? In what circumstances does this not happen? Do these circumstances usually have to do with unplanned or emergency situations? How can you better use these opportunities to create better results through the engagement of your employees?

Sales Prospecting is a Contact Sport

5 Tips for Sales Prospecting

Prospecting is a difficult sport.  Yes I said sport.   In fact it is a contact sport.  The problem is that most sales people, including me at times, sit on the sidelines.  You see sales people want the glory.  They want the touchdown or home run, but they don’t want to do the preparation needed to gain the glory.  I am not saying sales people are lazy.  I am saying most people hate cold calling.

What do people do when they hate something?  They avoid it.  Now is the time to change.  Here are five practical tips:

Tip 1:  Determine how much business you need, your close ratio, and then back into the amount of prospecting calls you need to make your goal a reality.  If you fall short of your call goal one week then add those calls to the next week and be prepared to make the extra calls to catch back up.

Tip 2:   Schedule a time to make the calls.  If it is not on your calendar it just won’t happen.  My suggestion is the first hour of your morning.  You are fresh and so are the people you are calling.  If you know your contacts are more likely to be at the phone at the end of the day then make that your time.

Tip 3:  Referral calls are a prospecting call and they are very effective.  Start by asking those people you know and do business with who they can introduce you too. I am amazed how many of us passively hope people will send business our way.  Hey I’ve got news for you…everyone is busy.  If you want or need something you are going to have to ask for it.

Tip 4:  Go to meetings.  If you can, speak at meetings.  But set a goal.  How many people are you going to meet?  How many business cards will you collect?  Going to meetings is a passive activity.  Utilizing meetings to develop relationships is a dynamic activity.

Tip 5:  Know why people should do business with you.  Ask yourself…Do I have a powerful introduction?  Do I have value I offer potential clients?  Too many times sales people call without a reason.  I don’t talk with people just to talk with people.  Time is too precious.

Remember in all that you do be authentic.  Work to develop trust with people.  In the end your success has more to do with your curiosity and ability to focus on others rather than yourself.  Never lose that spirit when attempting to master any sales skill including prospecting.

Customer Engagement is not a Bait and Switch!!!

I just got an email that says “Thank you” in the subject line.  Great who could it be from and why are they saying thank you.

The first line in the email says…”We love having you as a customer.”

And then it states, “We’d like to thank you for being our customer. To show our appreciation…”

Doesn’t that sound great?  They want to demonstrate their gratitude.  Well, actually, they want to sell me something.

The rest of the email continues…“we want to tell you about this special offer on…”

Talk about having the opposite effect.  If you want to thank me then thank me.  If you want to demonstrate appreciation then provide a gift of some kind.  But do not say you want to and then try and sell me another service.  It is disingenuous!  It is self interested!  And it is inauthentic!

Customer engagement and loyalty require transparency, authenticity and a sincere interest in your customer.  Let’s leave these old sales tricks that are outdated where they belong…in the past.

The Scion Story: Engaging Your Customers

I remember walking into the Toyota dealer and wondering what is this strange looking vehicle only to learn it was a new brand.  Then I came to find out it was selling and at a big volume.  I could not believe?  Why?  I sure did not want to buy one.  Well that was a good thing for Toyota because I was not their target customer for the Scion.  Who was…The Youth Market! 

What is even more amazing was how these cars were marketed, sold and built.  They created a unique process for engaging their customers. 

Want to know more?  Check out this video to find out.  It is a cool story!

Without Trust There is No Credibility

Credibility is an extension or outcome of trust.  Trust is largely a function of presence.  Am I present and in the moment with my employees, co-workers, and clients.  When I am able to reduce ego, agendas, my need for my own personal preferences, and distractions I am able to hear things I could not before or hear things in new ways.  Typically we are caught up in things that have happened prior to a meeting or what will happen afterward, and we miss much that is in front of us.  When we are truly present:

 1.  We ask questions we would never have before.

2.  We clearly recognize the commitments we make.

3.  We solve problems with the other person in mind.

4.  We are willing to co-create or co-discover.

 All of these things make us more reliable, credible, and authentic. 

 For example, sales people who are able to let go of their agenda and focus on their client ask more thoughtful questions and spend more time understanding needs and close more sales.  Clients are more confident and therefore more credible with you and with others.

Sales people who focus on their own “stuff” try and close sales early and ask leading questions in order to try and make a sale and sell less.  Clients are less confident and therefore lack credibility with you.

It is interesting, but the phenomenon really is the more you can focus on others the more successful you become.  Even more incredible is that you build a stronger more impactful relationship with trust.  Everyone wins.  People talk more, collaborate more, are more creative, and it takes less time because there is trust and everyone drops their guard or metaphorical mask.  Everyone wins and everyone becomes more credible.