Keeping Employees Energized

As a manager, your key role is helping your employees get things done. Today, let’s talk about one of the most important things you can do to motivate your employees to work harder  and make the workplace a more creative, productive environment. That one thing is praise: the explicit recognition of hard work and extra effort.

Today’s blog discusses how praise is critical for motivating workers to try harder and stay focused.  

First, let’s look at common arguments not-so-great managers use when confronted with a call to praise and recognize their worker’s successes.

1) Their recognition is that bi-weekly paycheck. My workers are compensated well, isn't that enough?

Not really. Good pay and benefits are very important, but they should be seen as appropriate compensation in exchange for the worker’s giving their labor to management. It is fundamentally transactional.  You shouldn't look at pay as an active motivator that will drive employee energy throughout the year. To put it another way,  a nice annual raise on December 31 isn't really going to motivate someone on a Friday afternoon at 11:00 am in late spring. Compensation is critical to attracting and keeping employees, but just “ keeping” employees isn't going to drive a business to new levels. You need something else, something that will drive daily excitement and motivation in the workplace. That something else is personalized recognition whenever extra effort yields great results.

2) Workers are adults. They shouldn't need praise like kids.

Yes, this can be a tempting attitude to adopt, but it wouldn't be correct. Recognition of good work is an exceptionally strong motivator, and that need does not fade as we grow older. We all appreciate recognition. No matter how old you are, the need for recognition never goes away.

By recognition, I mean recognition for truly good performance and specific actions that stand out from the norm. The worst thing you can do is offer vague, unspecific praise that reveals your lack of knowledge of what your employee is doing. Praise for its own sake is hollow and recognizable as such.  Instead, notice when someone has devoted a lot of effort to ensure a project is done well. Take note not only of the good results, but the extra effort that was involved to succeed. They will appreciate that you noticed  and work even harder next time, knowing their effort was appreciated.

3) We already have a formal rewards and recognition program

Many organizations, large and small, have institutionalized their employee reward programs. Employee of the month plaques, VIP parking place for a week, plaques, trophies, etc. These are often given for meeting  benchmarks, or for going that extra mile as voted by peers or management. These are all great, and you should consider how they might fit into your  organization if you don’t already have one. However, these programs complement more personal recognition efforts; they don't replace them. They do  not absolve the individual manager from taking the time to note individual achievements. Every manager should be praising employees for their outstanding work on a weekly basis. And, it should be personally delivered.  It may seem simple, but taking the two minutes to pull someone aside and acknowledge you observed them doing something great really goes a long way.

4) It feels silly praising my best employees all the time. We all know they are doing great.

Well, at first blush that may seem true. it would seem every week you’re just repeating the same thing. What is really happening if you stop supporting their efforts is that you are taking your best employees for granted. Think how it appears from their perspective.  If you begin to slack off, no longer recognizing their successes, your silence may send a disturbing  message. That message is that their work is unappreciated or unnecessary. They may soon be tempted to slack off. “I go out of my way, and no one notices anymore. Why bother?”
A last note:  Recognition works better if it is personalized.
Understand that different employees respond to different forms of praise and recognition. Public praise might be embarrassing to some, and an added motivator for others. If recognition includes some material or other concrete benefit, try to vary it based on your knowledge of an employee's interests.  Baseball tickets for the opera fan aren't very useful.

Let's catch up at the SiriusDecisions Summit, 2015

What differentiates B2B and B2C sales?

Be it B2B or B2C, selling has changed and that too drastically. When comparing the two sectors, you find the most dramatic changes in the B2C sector. B2C (Business–to-Consumer Sales) and B2B (Business-to-Business) Sales have been long seen as separate markets that require distinctly different marketing strategies. So what are these differences? 
Let’s take a look-

 B2B v B2C

A. Key motivators that affect a buying decision. 

The motivators that affect buying are widely variant for both fields- In business purchasing, buyers strive to be sure that their purchase is based as much as possible on rational, fact-based analysis. Buyers consider questions like will it increase profits? Will it aid measurable productivity? Does it improve the satisfaction of a specific stakeholder? This approach leads to a longer buying cycle as opposed to B2C. 

On the other hand, consumer decision-making is not constrained by these narrow parameters. Variable factors like  desire, style, prestige, and aspiration, as well as price and suitability may drive consumers. Oftentimes, the consumer herself may not be able to articulate why she bought Product A over Product B. Nor may she even care. “ I just like it better” can be a perfectly good justification for a purchase.

B. Number of decision-makers

In consumer sales, the decision-maker is generally an individual. And she is free to be driven by whatever motivators that matter to her at that particular moment. This may slightly change in case of a joint purchase- for instance a couple buying a car, or friends buying a gift for someone. 

In a business environment however, the existence of multiple decision-makers almost always characterizes business purchasing, except in perhaps the most mundane areas. There will be an array of individuals who will have strictly defined and rational criteria to evaluate the product. Also, because decision-making is a group project, each person serves as a check against the other, in case anyone is tempted to stray toward non-relevant criteria.

 C. Pricing

With the exceptions of cars, and possibly major appliances, consumer purchases have generally low value, especially compared to business sales. I mean, no one searches the web to do an in-depth search for best value in a bottle of water at a grocery. Due to this, consumer purchasing can also occur more quickly, so the sales cycle is faster than in business.

Business purchasing is slower, partly due to the factor of multiple decision-makers.The time from the initiation of an evaluation to a decision can easily stretch into months or longer. However, the process is also slowed to ensure rational decision-making because the consequences are generally more serious. It is a scheduled, deliberative process.

D. Branding

Imagine that you need a can of tomatoes to make dinner tonight. That decision can’t be pushed out a week for study. Or you want to buy clothes for an upcoming party, you will walk into a mall, check out your favorite stores and pick from one of them. My point is, in B2C, there is little consultative selling available for all but the most complex purchases.

In business, branding has distinctly limited value, since buyers demand data and evidence. At most, brand identity may get a vendor in the door, but at that point brand declines in value. A brand name won’t increase profits—only an effective product will.

In summary, this is a list of key factors that characterize B2B and B2C. 

Significantly, these factors have been fairly static for decades. Marketers have long recognized the key differences discussed here and understood them to be the stable bedrock that defines the landscape of these two different types of sales.

Recently, however, new technology is undermining that landscape in dramatic ways. And its effects have been most transformative in B2C sales.  Most significant has been the arrival of Big Data and mobile technologies. Big Data because it opens a window into the historically hidden motivations that drive individual consumers, and mobile because of the “real-time” consumer access it gives marketers.

Transform your average salesperson into a sales advisor in 3 simple steps…

With buyers becoming smarter, thanks to the wide availability of information at their disposal and the newly compressed sales cycle, the need for a smarter sales team is being increasingly felt. Smart phones and tablets are playing a key role in today’s sales cycle. The new sales cycle is shorter and the seller has fewer opportunities to influence the buyer. All of these factors have influenced significantly the role of a typical salesperson.

In today’s blog we’ll look at 3 ways you can transform your average salesperson into a great sales advisor and the tools you will need to do that.

#1 Prospects are like snowflakes. Each one is different. Help your sales advisors differentiate.

Imagine selling a smart phone to a teenager and a senior citizen. While you might want to put the emphasis on the processor speed to the teenager, when selling to the senior citizen, you will want to talk about ease of use, battery life, screen size, etc. So, even though the phone is the same, you will talk about features that are most relevant to your prospect. That is what successful selling is all about--differentiation. Positioning your company and products or services differently from your competitors and treating every customer differently. In order to do that, your sales team must have relevant information about your prospects. They need to know what the prospect is actually looking for and what exactly their pain points are. Next, they need to understand your product or service really well so they can connect how your offering can resolve the prospect’s pain points. Once that happens, your sales team will be able to connect your product to the prospect’s story and suddenly you’re really driving revenues.

70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Bottom Line: Every prospect is different. Treat them differently.

#2 Not all prospects are ready to buy. Help your sales advisors identify them.

According to Gleanster Research, 50% of qualified leads are not ready to purchase immediately.These figures mean two things for your sales team. (1) They need to adopt a different sales strategy towards that 50% which is not ready for an immediate purchase. (2) They should be prioritizing their efforts on leads that are closer to making the purchase. However, your sales team will be able to do this only when they know who’s who. Which lead is ready to buy and needs to be contacted immediately, and which needs time warming up to the idea of connecting with your company. Only when they get a clear picture of the lead’s position in the sales cycle can they tweak their sales methodology to create the right impact.

#3 Today, sales is all about building a relationship. Help your sales advisors create lasting relationships with prospects.

Research says that, on average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. It is called “lifetime customer value.” But, how do you get a customer to be loyal to you? The answer lies in building a great relationship with them. Companies today are focusing on building a relationship with their prospects. It is no longer about just getting the prospects to buy a product or sign up for a service. If you want your salespeople to be successful, you need to help them forge value-adding, mutually beneficial relationships with their prospects. How to build these relationships? Through personalized marketing and sales communication. This means helping your salespeople tailor their communication so that it addresses the precise needs of each specific prospect.

It is not just about selling anymore. A successful salesperson is one who understands the buyer persona and truly focuses on adding value to each prospect and customer. A successful salesperson is not pushy or persistent. They are, alternatively, an ally to the buyer--a subject matter expert on the buyer’s pain points and a person who is genuinely concerned with resolving them. In fact, a sales team today is comprised  not of salespeople, but sales advisors who focus on building a lasting relationship with the prospect that extends beyond a single sale.