Fluid Business Coaching is a blog where we publish content about business ownership, rapid growth, family business, ready for sale and team communication. Helping business owners and their teams implement effective growth strategies to achieve more profit, less waste, more efficient processes and ultimately a better work/life balance for the owner.
We all know what it’s like to be bombarded with terrible telesales calls following poorly crafted scripts and sounding like worn out Daleks from Dr Who. Their heart really isn’t in it and it shows.
These calls really give the profession of selling a bad name!
There is no excuse for employing a bunch of amateurs especially when it comes to well known brands and charities. They really need to be aware of the potential impact on their brand.
Interestingly, once they talk rationally most salespeople accept that they do follow their own script, let’s call it a process. It’s just they are not aware that they use the same words and phrases (mini scripts) in each and every sales interaction but they have not formalised it.
However, without understanding the script (process) their performance can be variable and this lack of understanding when multiplied over a whole sales team can have a huge commercial impact on a business.
Surely, the goal is to understand what works well consistently and then incorporate the best practices across the whole sales team?
So let’s look at another profession where scripts are used all the time, we’re of course, talking about the acting profession. All plays are scripted but there is a world of difference between an AmDram production and a West End professional production.
In the professional production we are totally unaware of the script whereas in the amateur production the script can seem to get in the way.
Exactly the same applies in sales, however, let’s think of a professional salesman as being a lead in a West End professional pantomime production. Feeding off the audience, ad libs are the order of the day but the script is there to keep the play fundamentally the same every show. Knowing the story and the next line brings clarity out of what is seen as totally natural, free and easy.
Indeed great performers, like Morecambe and Wise, successful ad libs were scripted. Ad libs that worked in rehearsal or live performance were noted and then incorporated in the main script. The important thing was they understood what had changed for the better and then used it again and again to enhance their performance. It was the discipline of the script that gave them freedom to enjoy the moment making it seem fresh, seamless and natural every time.
So are scripts useful in sales? Absolutely. Without knowing the process, the outcome of every ‘performance’ will not be consistent and that will impact results and the bottom line.
The key is knowing the script (process) so well that it becomes second nature and then each individual’s personality and charisma can shine through and make it a professional West End performance.
It is all about understanding what works and taking out what doesn’t.
It’s being able to consistently replicate excellence and that is the key difference between being professional rather than amateur!
Many readers have asked me about my use of the expression ‘ Time maketh the man’ Well let me start off by giving a little background. I always thought this was a well known quotation but as part of my research I could find no real references so perhaps it was something personal to the person who said it to me.
In my mid twenties I was privileged to meet and subsequently work for a successful serial entrepreneur. My ten years working with this man were exciting, stressful and rewarding. With the power of hind sight I realise now he mentored me in the commercial realities of business although at the time I did not value the understanding he was passing on to me.
In our early working relationship I was very green but he had faith in me. He quickly offered me a senior role within his group that was way beyond my years and experience. When he offered me the role he could obviously see that I was stunned and it was at that moment he uttered those words
‘ Time maketh the man’
He was prepared to put his faith in me. He could see my potential and that time would prove his judgement sound and I would step up to the challenge. Of course, I wanted to repay this faith by stepping up and succeeding. From that moment on he was there to support me and continue to show his faith in my ability. Were there times I probably made him think he had got it wrong. Absolutely! Thinking back now on some incidents and decisions I made they still make the hair on the back my head stand up so heaven only knows what he went through!
Interestingly, he constantly stretched me to achieve more and more, often way beyond my experience. This was positive pressure rather than negative downward pressure. By ensuring I was just outside my comfort zone I leaned to grow and push the boundaries myself. I was given the room to grow but always felt supported and comfortable to seek advice but never abdicated a decision. I was happy for him to hold me accountable.
In business especially during family business succession I see the next generation restricted and given no room to grow. The ‘retiring generation’ constantly diving in to question work ethics, decisions and undermining new thinking. Negative pressure with words of wisdom based on experience without any real explanation.
The end result?
Demotivated individuals who learn to fudge decisions, avoid accountability and feign taking responsibility. Their growth becomes stunted and the future of the business is at risk. Just like a young sapling eager to grow but starved of sunlight, water and food.
So ensure the next generation have the ability and skills to take on the mantle , then apply positive pressure to stretch them Give Them Room and then watch them grow.
Be prepared to be astounded and be proud of the result. Give praise and don’t take the credit.
Ray’s ‘prod’s of the week’ is a bi-weekly series where he goes into a bit more detail about things that come up and occur in his coaching sessions. This give you an insight into issues and challenges he discusses with clients face to face.
This week he discusses finding the hidden talent within your organisation.
If there are any topics you’d like to see covered then please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see how we can include them.
Many thanks to the editors and contributors of this report.
With a significant sample of 1000 SME ’s from around the country, the outcomes and conclusions of this report should be reflective of the current feeling within the SME community.
My feeling is that even in these uncertain times the underlying level of confidence of my fellow SME owners remains strong. The SME market has and will continue to be resilient and resourceful and will adapt to the challenges outlined in this report.
Yes, Brexit is a distraction as it has been for the whole population but as business owners, we can only work within those areas that we can influence. This report highlights our areas of concern around Finance, Technology, Housing and HR but it is so easy to allow us to blame and lose sight of what is essential.
Surely it is time to recognise the contribution of the SME market to the economic health of the country.
Give us the environment to thrive and we will rise to the challenge.
COMMENT BELOW –
What do you think are the top five changes that would allow you to Step Up to the current business challenges we face in the SME market?
When you invite someone into your house you assume that the visitor will respect your property, your environment. It is normal to expect everyone to live by accepted social norms and values on which your own ‘house rules’ are based.
But is that always the case?
Well often no!
Let me give an example that highlights the error in this view.
Imagine you are visiting a couple for the first time for whom it is important that outdoor shoes are not worn in the house. Let’s assume that it is not normal for you to remove your shoes on entering your own house.
So how would you know their ‘house rule’.
You may pick up some visual cues such as pairs of shoes lined up by the front door.
You may notice they are not wearing shoes.
They may offer you slippers.
They may just ask you to remove your shoes.
However, often none of these happen. You did not pick up the visual clues and they were too polite to ask. On leaving you may comment on the strained atmosphere you felt, but I leave it your imagination to what sort of comments they made about you when you left!
What’s this to do with business?
Don’t assume all your team have the same social norms and values as you.
How do they know what you expect? Unless you discuss with them they won’t know. If you think it’s just common sense, think again!
You have invited them into your business so don’t be like the polite couple in my example.
Discuss with your team and agree what behaviour is expected.
Then write down the ‘business rules’ so that everyone can understand your company’s norms and values.
It will stop a lot of misunderstandings and will create trust- the bedrock foundation on which All Star Teams are built!
When was the last time you read the terms and conditions presented to you as you downloaded a program from the internet or signed up to a new website. Programmers often include a checkbox you can’t go past until you have confirmed you have read those dreaded terms and conditions.
With time being a challenge, you may want to get onto the next stage so you check the box and move on.
Now I understand that you may not have the time to read all the small print on every Terms and Conditions but beware- you ignore terms and conditions at your peril. Obviously, to read or not to read all the small print is a personal choice and it is for you to take a commercial decision.
Indeed, you may assume that as those terms are so widely used they must be alright as everyone else has accepted them, but I wonder sometimes who has read all the terms apart from the person who originally wrote them.
Think about it, most legal contracts once signed go into a drawer and don’t come out until the end of the contract or when something goes wrong.
Now be honest and think back to a time when you have entered into a contract in good faith only to be bitten by a clever clause in a contract at a later date.
Now this article is not really about the do and don’ts of contracts.
So let me explain.
Some years ago, when selling a business my solicitor asked me to read and understand the Sale Contract and then to read and understand every change as they were made. Now I’m no lawyer and at the end of the day surely that is what I was paying him to do!
When he saw me losing the will to live he repeated the mantra “The devil is in the detail” and those words have saved me time and time again over the years.
What he was saying was I needed to truly understand what I was about to sign so that I could choose to sign a binding contract. When negotiating any contract get into the detail and understand the underlying message, what is being said not what you think is being said. Sometimes it may not be obvious.
But hang on a moment, that mantra can also apply to most areas of business. When appropriate you may need to get into detail to understand what is really happening not what you think is happening.
Do not rely on the general consensus or opinions of others to make a decision.
Instead, choose to make your decisions based on facts not others opinions
Authored by Ray Moore, founding coach at Fluid Business Coaching, this book gives a completely new perspective on business ownership. Ray explains his framework for business growth and how to overcome the common challenges faced by business owners. Commonly described as the “manual for business growth,” this is a must-read for SME owners.
Black Box Thinking, By Matthew Syed
In this book, Syed covers the recipe for success and what gives some people the competitive edge. Black Box Thinking uses real-life examples to highlight how these learnings are transferable into the world of business, and why making mistakes is a crucial part of personal and business growth.
24 Assets, By Daniel Priestly
Why do some businesses have huge success, while others don’t? In 24 Assets, Daniel Priestly sets out the structure needed to build a valuable business capable of scaling and making an impact.
The 7 habits of highly effective people, By Stephen Covey
This book is often referred to as one of the most influential books ever written, with millions of copies sold worldwide. Among the seven habits is ‘sharpening the saw’ the concept of consistently renewing and developing yourself. Which is a habit that all business owners should adopt if they want to stay relevant in the ever-changing world of business.
Who moved my cheese? By Dr Spencer Johnson
In this book, Dr Spencer Johnson highlights the need to approach change an issue that often makes business owners feel uncomfortable. As an SME owner it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of the business, but this book demonstrates that by challenging the status quo, huge improvements can be made.
Did your favourite business book make our list? Let us know your recommendations!
Have you ever wondered what differentiates a winning team from a team that has great potential but never quite makes it?
In sport this is often quite clear. Consider the team of all stars, full of talent, who don’t play together as a cohesive team and are beaten by a team of less talented players who pull together and produce a performance above their perceived skill level. Take a moment and I’m sure you will come up with many examples from Rugby, Football, Cricket etc …
It’s the difference between an All Star Team and a Team of All Stars. The members of an All Star Team work for each other to achieve a common goal, subjugating their own egos to achieve the team goal, whereas, a Team of All Stars play as individuals for their own goals and aim to massage their own egos.
As a business develops through the levels (see separate article) from a micro enterprise (up to 10 employees) to a small business (up to 50 employees) the pressure to succeed and grow can create a Team of All Stars. Often a talented individual (the business owner) works hard and excels in many roles. However, as the business starts to transition to a medium sized business (50 employees plus) the pressure on the talented individual becomes too much. To truly unlock the potential of the business, the future must be based on building an All Star Team that work together.
There are many things that differentiate an All Star Team from a Team of All Stars.
In this first of a series on building an All Star Team we will look at two of the main foundations that differentiates an All Star Team from a Team of All Stars
A strong leader that enrolls and inspires their team to achieve a common vision.
The leader has a clear vision and attracts talented individuals who want to help them on their journey. Each team member may have a different compelling reason (their why) for wanting to help and they are prepared to emotionally commit to the team success.
All Star Teams work tirelessly towards achieving the team goals. They truly commit to the outcome and are prepared to be held accountable for achieving results and being responsible for their actions.
All Star Team members continuously develop themselves and others. They attract the best talent that is available at the organisation’s salary levels.
All Star Team members are prepared to give and receive open and honest feedback.
An All Star Team must be underpinned by common values that build trust between all the team members.
Interestingly, we assume that our definition of a word, especially a well-used word like Trust is the same for everyone.
But what’s our basis of Trust?
How do we know that we trust someone?
Let me explain, we all have our own rules about how we view our world and we put all our interaction with people through this ‘rule filter’ to get our perception of reality. We assume that when we are talking about trust to others we are all viewing it through the same rule filter. But is the case?
As our rules are built up by a combination of our past experiences, family and societies influences, to name but a few, so is it any wonder that we find it so difficult to define a simple word like trust that everyone can agree with.
We find everyone is coming from a different starting place, a different set of values.
In the business world, this can have massive repercussions.
Imagine being in a situation where the success of a project is dependent on team members doing what their said they we going to do but you just know that some never deliver.
You just don’t trust them.
What’s going to happen to that project?
So an All Star Teams have common values. These are clearly defined and written down, they are not assumed. The values underpin every action and decision. Issues are openly discussed and resolved to strengthen the team.
Team members are recruited on values first and skills second. Skills can be developed but if the values are not aligned then trust will be quickly undermined and an All Star Team will be transformed into a Team of All Stars.
The successful transition from a Team of All Stars to an All Star Team is one of the hardest steps in business. In deed many of the team may be loyal employees who have been with the company from day one.
Unfortunately, it also maybe these individuals that are not aligned to the company future and are holding the company back.
Often loyalty is also a core value of the business and therefore the creation of an All Star Team in these circumstances can lead to a conflict of values.
This in turn stifles open and honest communication. The door is open for the ‘Pink Elephant’ (see article)
I will discuss conflict of values and the results impact on results in a future article.