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Thursday, 10 January 2013 15:16
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Retail establishments are usually open for 60 hours or more over 7 days a week. This generally means that no one person is there all the time. It would seem to me that a communication system to share information between shifts is absolutely essential.

A young staff member was recently in trouble for getting annoyed with his boss.

He had arrived back in on a Monday morning to find that the stock in the department for which he was responsible, had all been moved. Assuming that this was done by the part-timers who had worked on the weekend, he moved everything back to where it was supposed to be. He was then told, that the store manager had moved the stock to make it easier for stocktake. So, all the stock had to be moved again. What a waste of time and effort for everyone.

Two things to note here. The Store Manager failed to adequately inform his team member what he did and why he did it. And the team member didn’t check in with anyone prior to putting things back to the way they were.

A simple conversation between these two could have saved a lot of time. Or a communication board identifying what had been done and why between the shifts to keep everyone up to date.

The workplace is fraught with well intentioned mishaps. Always consider who will be affected by your actions and changes and work to minimise any impacts and ensure full understanding.

My motto - you cannot communicate enough. Keep going and try several different methods to ensure you are understood. AND remember – communication is a two way activity.

Thursday, 10 January 2013 14:47
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dripping_tapI lose count of how many times I hear the saying “you get 80% of your revenue from 20% of your customers” and I have almost always heard it in the context of Account Managers or Sales Mangers justifying the time spent on their biggest customers.

Don’t get me wrong there is more than enough evidence to suggest that the general trend is close to this but does that mean we have to accept it, wouldn’t it be great if we were not so dependant on that 20%

As a Sales Manager or Key Account Manager we should be focused on increasing the business out with the 20%; I’m not advocating taking your eye off the ball regarding the top 20% but providing they are being managed properly more time should be given to generating a greater income from the other 80% or looking for new business.

Accepted in this climate that is easier said than done but it would be worth any business owner, Sales Manager or Key Account Manager to ask the following questions:

  • Can my clients be up sold; do we have anything else in our product range that would benefit the client?
  • Do I keep my client base updated with new products and promotions?
  • Is my product / service still realistically priced to attract new business?
  • When was the last time I got in front of my client? Is it time for a catch up and a service or product review?
  • Which of my clients spend the most; can my relationship be improved with this client (may also add financial value)?
  • Who are my favorite clients to visit; can their value to my business be increased (if not why spend so much time visiting)?
  • My customer is happy with my product / service do they know of any other business that may benefit?
  • Have I thought outside the square, could I approach any other industries / markets to sell my product or service?
  • Am I listening to my clients, are their needs changing, are we able to adapt what we provide to these changing needs?

At a time when most of our clients are tightening the purse strings it is absolutely imperative that we continue to communicate regularly with them for two reasons; firstly to continue building that important relationship and secondly to ensure your competitors find it incredibly hard or impossible to get in the door.


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Thursday, 10 January 2013 12:00
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There comes a time when a start-up needs to make a conscious effort to mature. Here's how to do it.

I just got back from vacation with my family, which includes both a 30-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son. Only 11 years separates these two, but in terms of their understanding of the world, it might as well be a hundred years.

It was fascinating to observe. And, naturally, I saw it through my start-up glasses.

In start-up language, my son is clearly at the concept or seed stage. To wit:

  • He views problems and challenges in black-and-white terms: This works. That is stupid.
  • Other players in his world have very clear roles and value, and are very much like him.
  • His knowledge is perfect with regard to what is important to him. (To put it another way, he is confident that what he doesn’t know, he doesn’t need to know.)
  • The tasks that are necessary for his advancement are straightforward (study for this test, do the laundry) and the time frame is usually defined in hours or days.

My son’s world is like the world of many of the company founders who come through the Triangle Startup Factory: small, easily defined, and well ordered. Good things can happen in that environment—a young man can figure out what he is capable of, and so can a young company. But you don’t want to get stuck there. If you don’t expand your world, you’ll get left behind pretty quickly.

My daughter is definitely not at the seed stage—she is probably more like a Series B entity. She has a family of her own, works full time, and is closing in on an advanced degree. This is her life:

  • She fights for her goals on multiple fronts (family, business, professional development).
  • She deals with a wide diversity of personalities (children, boss, peers, husband, professors).
  • She continually seeks and processes information from multiple sources.
  • She balances short-term and long-term challenges in order to meet a larger set of goals.

So how do you get your company from my son’s stage to my daughter’s?

  • Find advisers and mentors who will define the bigger world for you. I’m talking about people who are not like you or the members of your team.
  • Develop a systematic and regular way for these advisers to test your position on major business assumptions.
  • Put your advisers and/or board members to work on your personal business maturity.
  • Find a peer group where it is safe to ask questions and listen to their analysis of you. Give as well as receive.
  • That’s how a business grows up. Now, perhaps you’re asking yourself whether it’s time for your business to take the step. I’d say you just answered your own question.



    Thursday, 10 January 2013 04:00
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    How to make sure you don't succumb to this season's nasty flu bug.

    Thursday, 10 January 2013 03:30
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    From enormous tablets and TVs to a refrigerator loaded with apps, a look at the tech that's driving our business and personal lives.

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