Things have changed…to name a few:
- Two Recessions…
- The Rise of Purchasing…
- Consolidation of Vendors…
How have these changes impacted your business?
The workplace can be a perilous and thorny scene for disagreements. Being loud and clear leaves no room for misinterpretation. But it can also leave no room for anyone else’s ideas. Staying silent doesn’t air dissenting opinion. So that’s no good, either.
How to find more neutral ground? Becky Gaylord shares 12 ways to register your disagreement without clobbering coworkers with the know-it-all club.
How do you qualify a lead? Sharon Drew Morgen, Developer of Buying Facilitation, shares her view on why current approaches may not be working. She suggests that by using a different focus and changing your ‘first contact’ criteria, you can enter your prospect’s world and get onto the Buying Decision Team much earlier, and close more/quicker. But it requires a new skill to add to your sales model.
The holiday season is often busy with parties and events to catch up with family and friends, but these gatherings can also be prime locations for job seekers to make connections and find a good lead.
Events like company holiday parties, volunteering opportunities and networking events are opportune times for recent grads and current students to make personal connections with those in their field.
Although some businesses are looking for temporary hires, job postings tend to dwindle during the holidays as companies focus on planning for the following year, says Kimberly Baker, career services manager at Bryant & Stratton College Online.
“This makes the holiday season a great time to network as decision makers are thinking about future growth,” she says.
The holidays also offer a great excuse for candidates to check in with people they connected with earlier in the year to provide a status update and send warm wishes, says Doug Brown, academic program manager for The Malcolm Baldrige School of Business’ MBA program at Post University.
“You can use this special time of year to check in with someone that you may not have spoken with in a while (or have been meaning to reconnect with) to find out how they are doing, wish them well this holiday season and connect with them on a genuine level,” he says.
For those who are gainfully employed and want to move up in their career or for recent grads just getting started, here are four tips to network effectively during the holiday season and land a job in the new year.
Make Multiple, but Genuine Connections
While it can be tempting to bounce around at a crowded party, it’s more important to make a strong and more lasting connection (or re-connection) with people while networking, says Brown.
Particularly when meeting people for the first time, it’s a good idea to be focused and target a few individuals to get acquainted with, advises Larry Nash, director of experienced and executive recruiting at Ernst & Young LLP.
“Don’t necessarily try to meet everybody because you might not have time to [build] a deeper rapport. Focus on three to five people and try to go deep in establishing a connection,” he says.
Don’t Make it All About You
To avoid falling into “what-can-you-do-for-me” mode during a conversation, Brown recommends grads use the 80-20 rule, where 80% of the conversation should be about the networking contact and 20% about the student/grad.
“Focus on really establishing a genuine connection with the people who you are speaking with–ask questions about how they are, how their family is and truly engage in the conversation,” he says. “If you take a genuine interest, you will leave a lasting and positive impression with them.”
Leave the Resume at Home
Baker notes that unless the holiday event is a job fair, avoid bringing a resume.
“A business card that has a link to a professional website highlighting your work or at the very least your LinkedIn profile is a perfect way to communicate your skills and stay connected to the person after the event,” she says. “Make sure to exchange business cards as well so you have their current contact information and can follow up with them.”
Brown cautions against trying to tell a long story on a business card or using brochures or handouts—these should only be used for follow up rather than in a networking situation.
After meeting someone at an event, grads should follow up with a friendly email, mention how much they enjoyed speaking and wish them happy holidays–save the more professional/job-seeking email for after the New Year, recommends Baker.
Brown suggests going the extra mile and sending an old-fashioned handwritten thank-you note, which will go a long way in making a memorable impression.
“If time has gotten away from you and you haven’t had a chance to follow up promptly, don’t hide behind your embarrassment,” he says. “You can still pick up the phone and follow up with your contact–don’t let embarrassment get in the way of a potentially great contact.”
Stay on the Radar After the Holidays
Connecting with contacts over professional networking sites is a great way to stay on top of industry news and keep in touch without being overbearing, says Nash.
“It’s good to look at your network on LinkedIn or Facebook to see who you know at this organization and it’s important to contact them because many organizations have very strong and formal referral employer programs,” he says. “People can use their networks to talk to colleagues about opportunities at their companies, so they get might get more notice when it’s coming from an employee rather than from somewhere else.”
Touching base with a contact every couple months by sending a link to an article or blog post that is relevant to their industry is a better alternative than grads only contacting them about open positions, says Baker.
“If they are local, see if they would like to get coffee or would be open to meeting for an informational interview,” she says. “However, if they agree to an informational interview, approach it as a friendly conversation with no expectation of a job offer. Instead, you should consider it an extension of your earlier conversation and an opportunity to gain additional insight into the industry and that company.”
When you are ready to send greetings to your customers, clients, employees, mentors, donors, vendors, service providers, and others who make you successful, apply these suggestions:
1. Saying Thank You.
If you have U.S. business associates, Thanksgiving, celebrated this year on November 26, is an ideal time to say thank you. But no matter where you and your customers live, it is good business sense to take every opportunity to thank the people who create your success.
2. Holiday Messages.
If you are stumped about what to write in a holiday greeting, use the short messages below as examples. Adapt them to suit your reader, your relationship, and your culture.
At this joyous time of year, we are grateful for our work with you. We wish you abundance, happiness, and peace in a new year filled with hope. Happy holidays!
I hope you and all your coworkers, family, and friends have a lovely holiday season filled with joy and meaning.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with you this year. It has been an honor and a valuable experience for me. I wish you a happy Hanukkah and a new year filled with all good things.
It has been an honour and a pleasure to work with you this year. We wish you the best of holidays and a prosperous 2010!
As the year ends, we think about all we are grateful for. Our relationship with you is one thing we treasure. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. We wish you a merry Christmas and much success in the new year.
As gifts are given and received this holiday season, I think of the gift of knowing you. Thank you for the pleasure of working with you. Happy holidays!
Merry Christmas! I hope you have a holiday that fills your heart with joy!
3. Writing Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Why not use your readers’ languages to communicate Christmas and New Year’s greetings? For correct spellings of worldwide greetings, visit Omniglot. For some languages, Omniglot also provides pronunciations.
4. Happy New Year Messages.
For customers who do not celebrate Christmas, use a new year’s message like one of these:
To a customer:
Thank you for your business this year. It has been a pleasure helping you reach your goals, and we look forward to contributing to your success in 2010. We wish you a prosperous and happy new year!
To a client or customer:
I wish you a wonderful new year filled with abundance, joy, and treasured moments. May 2010 be your best year yet!
To a patron or volunteer:
Happy new year! Thanks to supporters like you, 2009 was a very successful year for us. We were able to exceed our goals and expand our services to the needy because of the generosity and commitment of people like you. [You may provide details.] Thank you so much!
We wish you a new year filled with peace, joy, and meaning.
Happy New Year! Yes, we survived 2009. In fact, we thrived because of your amazing hard work, creativity, and dedication. I am personally grateful to you for your tremendous efforts, and I wish you a rewarding, joyous new year. I look forward to our work together in 2010.
5. Email vs. Handwritten.
Should you email holiday greetings? If email is the only way you communicate with your customers and employees–or if mailed greetings are too expensive–then email is your choice. But even with email, use each person’s name. A bland message that says “Dear Employee” or “Dear Customer” might as well say “Dear Stranger.”
If you have people’s addresses and a budget to send greetings by mail, choose a tasteful card to send. Although tastes differ, think about your readers when you choose cards. For most business associates, cards with religious messages are inappropriate.
Although it takes more work and seems inefficient, addressing envelopes by hand shows your personal involvement. To confirm mailing regulations for Canada and the U.S., read my research about them.
6. Printed vs. Handwritten Signature.
Whenever possible, sign your cards rather than using a typed signature. Although a signature typed in gold or silver looks impressive, writing a message and signing your name show a relationship with your reader. Pass around cards at your workplace and have people who know the recipients sign them.
7. Holiday Letters for Business.
Holiday letters are usually reserved for personal friends and family.However, if you want to bring your business network up to date on the progress you have made this year, or if you want to share your personal side with your business associates, write and send one. Here are ideas that will help you sound sincere rather than boastful.
8. Responding to Holiday Greetings.
Although responding to holiday cards and greetings is not required,it is thoughtful to do so. Whenever you can spread peace, joy, and friendship in the world, do it!
9. Thank-Yous for Holiday Greetings and Gifts.
Ready to thank someone for a gift? Return to Number 1 above.
I still have to meet the sales executive who is happy with her/his pipeline. When you ask them for the reason of their concern, the answer usually is: “it is not fat enough”. How do they know this? Obviously from experience. They know that only a fraction of the deals they and their people are currently working on will be won. The rule of thumb often heard in the High Tech Industry is that one out of three deals is usually won.
The obvious thing to do, is thus to make the pipeline fatter. To pump it up by finding new deals to enter into the pipeline (Prospecting and Lead Generation). As sales people function best when they see monetary rewards for their activities, you might beef up your campaign for pumping up the pipeline with some extra incentives and you set a goal on the number of leads you expect from each individual. This makes perfect sense following the principle that you can only expect what you inspect and what you pay for.
Chances are that sales executives taking such a decision have just shortened the tenure in their current position. Let us see how this can happen.
If you are in a business where the sales cycle (Lead to Close) is some 6 to 9 months, the action you have undertaken will bear fruit at best after the time it typically takes to get a deal through the pipeline. So this action will not be of any help if you are faced with the risk of a short fall already in the next quarter.
Worse yet, you might just have changed your rule of thumb. If you do not have a rigorous qualification process in place which determines when a lead can enter the pipeline, your lead to close ratio might actually worsen. There is a high likelihood that you get the number of leads you have asked for. Your risk is that they are of lower quality and thus a smaller percentage of them can be won. If that is not bad enough, it can come worth. Depending on your Forecasting process, these lower quality leads can also beef up your forecast. The changes to make this forecast are though slimmer than usually due to the lead quality problem discussed before.
There is yet another aspect that can lead you into trouble applying your rule of thumb. If the deals you and your people are working on are not evenly distributed in the pipeline, let us say a higher than usual proportion is only expected to close within six months, then your feared short fall for next quarter will be even more horrid than anticipated.
The reaction to correct a too thin pipeline as described above is human. I see it a symptom of what I call “Sales Executive’s Tunnel View”. I will tell more about this phenomenon in one of my next entries. A further entry will then be dedicated to the question whether the pipeline is a good metaphor to describe our list of deals we are working on.
For a quick measure to prevent you from “Sales Executives Tunnel View” may I suggest that you have a closer look into your pipeline and then apply the principle “try to get more from what you have”?
Christian Maurer, The Sales Executive Resource, is an independent sales effectiveness consultant, trainer and coach. He has a proven track record of helping to increase the productivity of large, global B2B sales organizations.
For the last 10 years Christian has consulted and coached hundreds of sales executives and managers on how to plan and execute their sales strategies by focusing on process management rather than trying to manage results. To assist the management in the execution of their strategies, he also has taught and coached their sales teams to increase their productivity by advising them on how to improve conversion rates and potential deal size with opportunity management, identify more deals and how to best approach potential buyers with account management, how to leverage marketing for their sales campaigns and how to orchestrate their activities with partners.
Earlier this week, Kathleen Steffey discussed 4 Steps to Accelerate Your Sales Growth Now. One suggestion in that post was to increase investment in lead generation tactics. I felt it was important to expand on aligning marketing efforts to achieve this goal. A few tactics that can have immediate impact include:
There are obviously many other tactics that you could employ to impact your second-half results. These 3 items though are proven to drive both short-term and long-term success if done well and I believe have the best chance to help you beat your year-end goals.
Kevin Steffey is President of Naviga Business Services, a national Sales and Marketing Recruitment firm. Kevin and Naviga have a passion for sales and marketing positions due to their direct impact on the growth of their customers. Check out www.navigaservices.com to engage a partner in growing and developing your team.
Now that the U.S. economy is growing and companies are starting to re-invest in their businesses, now is the time to take advantage of the upswing and accelerate your own growth – even in mid-year where your plans are locked in. A few key steps you can take include:
The underlying principles behind these 4 items are: share your goals and align your team behind these goals through visibility, attention, and focus.
Kathleen Steffey is CEO and Founder of Naviga Business Services, LLC, a nationwide sales and marketing recruiting firm. Naviga and Kathleen focus on sales and marketing due to a passion for helping businesses accelerate growth. The check out Naviga’s services and learn more about Kathleen, check out www.navigaservices.com.