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How Management Training Can Help You Avoid the Unexpected Cost of a Bad Hire

September 16th, 2014

Want to hear a troubling statistic?

The US Department of Labor estimates that a bad hire costs your business 30% of that employee’s potential year-one earnings. This is a conservative estimate, too. It’s difficult to calculate the loss incurred when you hire the wrong person for your business.

Every manager and business owner has dealt with bad hires. Maybe they started out seemingly stellar, fitting your company culture seamlessly and producing exceptional results. Or, maybe you were in a rush to fill seats and let bad seeds slip through without proper vetting.

Either way, fast-forward 6 months, and you’re stuck dealing with bad employees exhibiting any of the following issues:

  • They fail to produce acceptable quality of work.
  • They work poorly with other employees.
  • They sport a negative attitude.
  • They’re late or don’t show up.
  • They fail to meet set deadlines.
  • They directly cause customers, clients, partners or other employees to complain.

Effective management training programs cover employee management through the entire job cycle, from recruitment to onboarding through wading through any mess created by toxic hires. Combining leadership theory and application of specific learning, management training allows business managers to test their mettle against bad hire situations in a practice environment, before they’re faced with damaged profits from actual difficult employees.

Develop Accurate and Functional Job Profiles

The only surefire way to avoid the costs associated with bad employees is to evade bad hires altogether. That’s easily said, but, unless you’ve created a rock-solid hiring process, it’s not so easily done.

Quality management training programs help you learn how to make great hires by starting from the very beginning, from before you’ve even started prospecting candidates. Sandler’s management training first aims to help you develop accurate and functional job profiles. This critical step ensures you aren’t simply filling seats in a rush – a common practice that leads to bad hires and diminished profits.

Having clearly defined roles empowers managers to weed out under and overqualified candidates.

Identify Your Business’ Best Fitting Candidates

The identification process acts as your primary line of defense against bad hires. Management training coaches best practices for the most important step in avoiding bad hires: the interview.

Often, entrepreneurs and managers make effective talkers but poor interviewers. It takes training to learn what to ask and how to dig deep and find top talent. Sandler’s management training focuses on the interview as a tool to eliminate potential bad hires by uncovering motivators, teamwork skills, habits, and reactions to change, stress, failure, and even success. Learning and practicing great interviews helps managers spot the signs of a bad hire early, even before they’re hired, preventing any corresponding costs down the road.

Bring Bad Hires Up Through Supervising, Training, Coaching, and Mentoring

In a perfect world, recruitment and vetting take care of bad hires before they’re placed at a desk. This is reality, though, and sometimes bad seeds slip through even the best hiring processes.

Sandler’s management training program emphasizes skills that encourage top-down coaching and mentorship. New hires are far less likely to sour if they’re nurtured properly. It’s only when bad eggs are left to hatch on their own that their hidden tendencies manifest as toxic habits.

Supervising, training, and coaching all occur within the walls of your office. Bad hires’ noxious behavior, however, isn’t always a function of the job. For this reason, Sandler’s management training program extends to mentorship training that crosses job boundaries. Focusing on personal relationships with bad employees fosters stronger attachment to individual and organizational goals, which can motivate would-be bad hires to do their best for your company.

Help Your Team Filter the Poisoned Well

Unfortunately, bad hires often create toxic environments for your other employees. Mitigating the damage means setting all of your employees back on track, not just ridding the workplace of that one hire.

Through management training, Sandler coaches managers on the skills necessary to reconstruct positive, productive work environments in the wake of a bad-hiring fiasco. We encourage trainees to focus on long-term improvement. Specifically, we espouse the value of aligning personal and professional goals within departments. This safeguards your good employees against the poisonous behaviors of bad ones, as they become more resilient to obstacles that prevent them from reaching their goals. For managers, this means avoiding losses related to demotivated employees, preventing the spread of toxic attitudes and resultant performance.

Navigate Tough Issues Through Skills-Based Exercises

Teaching proven management theories goes a long way toward avoiding the costs of a bad hire. That being said, theoretical knowledge only takes managers but so far.

Sandler’s management training is hands-on. We provide active exercises that put you in the thick of your business’ toughest situations, including those borne of difficult employees. Nobody can foresee every possible problem, but practice through management training prepares company leaders to tackle issues with confidence and skill, mollifying costs associated with an otherwise fumbled treatment.

Dealing with the Unexpected Costs of a Bad Hire

You won’t always be able to mitigate the costs of hiring the wrong person. It happens. That being said, owners and managers can steel themselves and their organizations against difficult employees through effective training.

The unrealized negative economic potential to bad hires is daunting, but management training prepares you for the worst. Preparation means proper handling of these situations. Proper handling, in turn, means you’re less likely to be drained tens or even hundreds of thousands of company dollars when faced with that one unexpected bad hire.

Let’s continue the conversation. How have you dealt with toxic employees in the past? What happened when your awesome hire turned into a nightmare for your company?  Were you able to help turn them around?


12 telling signs that your new managers need training

September 8th, 2014

When you hire new managers, you are giving these individuals the opportunity to lead, supervise, mentor, and motivate others and their ability to do so makes a huge impact on your company’s overall success. Yet, too often, first-time managers are thrown into their new role with little to no management training. This can lead to poor management, consequently causing high turnover rates, workplace stress, and declines in employee productivity.

No one intentionally sets out to be a poor manager. In fact, many managers may not even realize they are doing anything wrong. However, there are a number of signs and traits to look for in your new managers that may signify they need training.

Uses abrasive communication

Abrasive managers rub their subordinates the wrong way by displaying behaviors ranging from mild offense to open attack. This management style creates interpersonal friction that often leads to resentment and disrupts workflow. If your new manager can’t communicate a problem or concern without berating, belittling, or yelling at employees, it may be time to consider management training to help your manager communicate constructively.

Creates office politics 

Office politics kill morale and can lead to a toxic work environment. Your managers should be doing things to prevent it, not perpetuate it. Finding that a manager is pitting employees against one another or gossiping to employees about their peers should be a red flag that your manager needs management training.

Manages with fear or intimidation

Too often, managers think employees must be intimidated or shamed into following instructions and avoiding mistakes. However, this is a dangerous management tactic that causes unnecessary stress among employees, leading to a decline in productivity. According to the American Psychological Association, 51% of employees report being less productive at work as a result of stress in the workplace. Perhaps the manager is intimidated or unsure about how to get results without relying on threats, but no matter the reason, this tactic does not help their team or the organization as a whole.

Ignores non-performers

Some managers have difficulty confronting non-performers while others simply ignore them in hopes that underperforming employees will somehow manage to soldier through. Meanwhile, everyone else on the team has to pull a little more weight to pick up the slack of the non-performers. This is a dangerous approach that can lead to resentment and low team morale.

Has trouble delegating work 

No one can take on everything, but sometimes managers believe delegating makes them less important. So, they cling to their authority and micromanage their employees. This tactic can have negative effects on the entire organization and often leads to lower quality of work.

Steals credit for the good and passes blame for the bad

It’s hard to hold a team together when mistakes occur and the temptation to point fingers may be hard to resist. However, good leaders take more than their share of the blame and less than their share of the credit. Unfortunately, many managers have a terrible habit of taking credit for the good and passing the blame for the bad on to their team members.

Has trouble providing constructive criticism

Employees have the right to expect that their manager will be able to offer mentorship and direction. So, when a manager has no problem pointing out the mistakes but provides little to no insight on how to improve, employees get discouraged and frustrated.

Knows everything

Arrogance is a dangerous characteristic to begin with but it can be toxic when it comes to managing a team. The best managers are open to learning from others and rarely take a “my way or the highway” stance on matters in the workplace.

Fails to update the team

One of the worst mistakes a manager can make is failing to communicate important or relevant information to the team. While there are certainly instances where it’s better to operate on a “need to know” basis, sharing appropriate updates with the team is important to building trust and team morale. Hiding this information may lead to confusion and unnecessary stress among employees.

Expects subordinates to mind read

If a manager expects subordinates to know what’s coming next, but doesn’t do a good job of providing context or providing guidance, then their subordinates are being set up for failure. This issue may be easily fixed with leadership and communication training to help your manager understand the best way to convey expectations to the rest of team.

Fails to plan for future concerns

Jumping from emergency to emergency is stressful for both the manager and the entire team. Does your new manager constantly seem to operate one step away from disaster and can’t seem to get a handle on what needs to be done? If so, now is the time to consider training to improve goal setting and time-management abilities to ensure the whole team doesn’t suffer from the manager’s poor planning.

Pushes off decisions to others

Managers who collect all the information but still can’t seem to make a decision can have negative, far-reaching ramifications on your organization. Lack of decision-making abilities makes your manager look like a poor leader, often causing team members to lose respect for the manager.

With everything on your plate, it can be difficult to pick up on some of these behaviors. To ensure you’re not missing anything, try sending out an employee satisfaction survey to the employees who report directly to the new manager. It’s likely that these employees will have valuable insight on the manager’s performance. Still not sure if your new managers need training? See what Sandler’s management training programs can do for your managers.

Have you ever hired a first-time manager with any of these characteristics? Did he/she go through management training to improve their leadership style? Let us know with a comment below


6 Ways Effective Sales Managers Lead Their Teams Out of Slumps

September 2nd, 2014

Sales slumps happen. They are guaranteed to hit and, when they do, they put intense pressure on your team to perform. You, as a sales manager, should be prepared to lead your team out of the doldrums effectively and efficiently.

We’ve identified 6 things exemplary sales managers do to drag teams from the muck. There’s no perfect solution to sales slumps, but these techniques will help mitigate damage and keep your staff afloat through the toughest times.

 

Identify and address problems

When excellent managers recognize a sales rut, they first examine the situation as a whole. Ask yourself a handful of questions to help diagnose and address the situation at hand:

  • What caused the slump? Was it something outside your control, such as a market correction? Or is the cause internal? Is your team fatigued? Caught in an inefficient cycle?
  • Is the whole team in a slump, or just certain individuals?
  • When in the past was your team at its best? What conditions led to success, and can you recreate them? Is there a common theme causing this issue?
  • How is the team feeling outside of work? Is everyone healthy and making time for activity? Stress and emotion weigh heavily on the sales process and can’t be ignored.

There are no silver bullets in climbing out of sales valleys. Focus on what’s obvious, but try not to ignore the big picture.

Shift their focus toward process and productivity

Remember: sales is a science. One all-too-common mistake sales teams make during tough times is abandoning process. Desperation sinks in, and the successful past goes out the window.

It’s your job to keep your team on task. Help each team member stay stoic. Focus on your sales process and their individual cookbook behaviors. Keep them prospecting, practicing pitches, and fighting for sales as usual. There are ways to fight your team’s frustration and fatigue. Halting your standard selling process is not one of them.

Set micro-goals

Maintaining broad and lofty goals during a sales rut can result in work without focus. Instead, define clear objectives. When times are tough, turn your team’s attention to smaller, more controllable personal behavioral goals. Increase the number of prospecting calls made by 10%, or solve a specific problem for one customer. Achieving process-based goals can help your team maintain scope and keep morale from plummeting.

Encourage touches on existing customers

Remember that a primary role for sales teams is to build and maintain customer trust. Prospecting during a slump is important, but keeping your existing customers happy is always critical.

Challenge stagnant perspectives and comfort zones

During the problem discovery phase, did you find that your team was spinning their wheels? It happens to all of us. We live in routine, recycling what we’re reading, to whom we’re talking, and how we treat our jobs.

Sometimes shaking up the routine can put your team back on track. You can facilitate this for your staff without breaking sales procedure by bringing in fresh perspectives. Network with leaders in similar positions and ask them to shadow your team. Seek invaluable advice from colleagues and advisors you trust.

It may be a single member of your team in need of a refresh. In that case, have that person sell from another office for a day. By shadowing another company, that person becomes reinvigorated and brings new ideas to your process.

Pool your resources

When your team is individually focused, it’s easy to forget the team aspect. Encourage healthy collaboration and cross networking among team members.

Open teamwork can lead to fresh perspectives. However, putting everyone in a room with no direction can lead to chaos. Try taking on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ approach to productive collaboration meetings. To start a meeting, provide your team with a memo detailing the specific issues at hand. Have everyone take 15-30 minutes to read and annotate this memo before proceeding. This process aligns everyone toward a singular goal, creating a focused meeting environment.

Whenever possible, nurture an environment that’s conducive to open idea sharing. In uncertain times, your team may fear failure. Lending thoughtful consideration to everyone’s ideas leads to a more confident sales staff, especially when you put those ideas into action.

How do you manage a team when sales take a dive?

If you’ve been a sales manager for some time, you probably have survived a slump in your recent memory. Your team may be stuck in one right now. What are you doing to keep revenues and behaviors positive? What were the most effective techniques in the past that allowed your organization to endure? Tell us in a comment below!


4 Core Skills Leaders Needs to be Successful at Any Level of Management

August 14th, 2014

It’s a common notion to believe that leaders at different levels should have a different set of skills. However, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman of the leadership development consultancy Zenger Folkman write in Harvard Business Review that leaders should be practicing the same core skills that have driven them from their first day in the workforce, no matter how high they rank.

Zenger Folkman surveyed over 330,000 supervisors, middle managers, senior managers, and top executives asking what skills leaders need to be successful in the position they currently held. Rather than finding different sets of core competencies for each level of management, the data showed an interesting consistency about which skills were perceived as most important for first-time managers to top executives and every level in between. These essential fundamental leadership skills included:

  • Inspires and motivates others
  • Displays high integrity and honesty
  • Solves problems and analyzes issues
  • Drives for results

How can you demonstrate these skills at every level of management? Here are a few tips that Sandler recommends to help you improve each one of the leadership skills that matter most.

Leadership skill #1: Inspires and motivates others

While being self-motivated is one of the top traits of a successful employee, there are a number of things you, as a leader, can do to keep your employees and team motived and inspired.

  • Set small milestones. Everyone loves achieving goals and celebrating success. Set milestones that can be reached and highlight your team’s success when they reach a new milestone.
  • Focus on purpose, not just profit. Teams and individual employees are inspired knowing that their hard work has a greater impact than profitability alone. Look beyond the obvious and create a wider reaching impact that extends into a community and influences social causes.
  • Say thanks. People like to feel appreciated. So, why not send a quick thank you email to your team and CC your boss? Saying ‘thank you’ is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to show your team that you are a great leader.

Leadership skill #2: Displays high integrity and honesty

  • Share information. Long management meetings are bound to stir up some nervous emotions among your team. Communicate as much news as you can, so your employees’ minds don’t wander.
  • Give feedback. Whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, clear and constructive feedback is necessary. Providing feedback is essential in making your team as productive as possible, so give it as often as you can

Leadership skill #3: Solves problems and analyzes issues

  • Remove obstacles. Bureaucracy often suppresses creativity and innovation. If you can, cut out unnecessary paperwork and look for ways to streamline processes to make it easier for your team to succeed.
  • Be ready to teach.  While simply giving instructions will work for some, it may not work for all employees on your team. Some employees may be too nervous to ask you for help if they don’t understand a problem. Show that you are happy and willing to teach, instruct, and assist to help them solve the problem at hand.

Leadership skill #4: Drives for results

  • Empower through delegation. Delegate tasks among your team and delegate to give yourself time to complete tasks more appropriate for your level of management.
  • Raise your hand and lead by example. When your team sees you putting in extra hours and offering to help out, they will be more inclined to jump in and follow your lead. Next time a project needs additional attention, volunteer to pitch in and help.
  • Solve, don’t just sell. Rather than selling your employees about why they need to perform better, inspire employee performance by connecting the dots of your team’s efforts. Demonstrate how your team’s work and the work of their contributors solves problems in conjunction.

Effectively managing and leading a team can be challenging, but understanding the most important leadership skills will help you focus your attention on what matters most.  What are some of the ways you demonstrate your leadership skills to your team? Do you think these 4 skills are the most important in your organization? Let us know with a comment below.


What it means to be a top sales training company

March 12th, 2014

People make buying decisions emotionally and justify those decisions intellectually – Sandler Principle 6

There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not reminded of this Principle and how it applies to our business at Sandler Training. Since 1967, we have been a part of the success path for thousands of businesses. Each year our trainers spend more than 90,000 hours training small, medium and Fortune-ranked sales teams. We’ve helped shape futures, changed lives and encouraged sales professionals to be their best self when in the field. To me, it’s humbling to know that our clients choose to work with us every day.

For the fifth year in a row, Sandler Training has been named one of Training Industry’s Top 20 Sales Training Companies. Each year, the Top 20 companies are selected based on their innovation in the sales training market; company size and growth potential; breadth of service offering; strength of clients served and a company’s geographic reach. When I look at that list, I see the power of Sandler Training’s associates and trainers.
Sandler Training is made up of a team of dedicated, strategic and motivated professionals. At every level, there is a thirst for knowledge and desire to help.

It’s an honor to be recognized as a top sales company – and for me, it’s equally an honor to work with the Sandler Training team and have the chance to help our clients grow.

I dedicate this, and every other award Sandler receives, to each of our associates, trainers and clients who keep Sandler Training going strong and leading the way in sales training.


How to Prepare for Departing Clients

March 4th, 2014

Nothing lasts forever, right? While it may seem pessimistic, having a plan for dealing with a client’s departure is sound advice when it comes to maintaining business and clients. We spend so much time building solid, trusting relationships with clients that it can come as quite a blow when news hits that your client contact announces they’re leaving their current position.

Before we get into tactics to employ to make this scenario less devastating, it’s important to operate under the assumption that our ‘in’ could easily be out at any given moment.

Prevent “scramble mode” from setting in by implementing some of the best practices we recommend to our clients.

1. Take stock of your current portfolio. Pull an organizational chart for each of your biggest clients and circle the names of those people with whom you have forged a close relationship. These are people who have seen the quality and level of service you have provided over the course of your time liaising with the client.

2. Count your circles – then grow your circles. More than likely, you don’t have as many circles as you’d like to have. Work to build relationships with those you’ve supported in some way or had contact with during your time working with the company. Schedule a lunch or coffee to identify common interests and gain better understanding of their focus areas in their position.

3. Document – every step of the way. If we’re always documenting, re-capping and following up digitally, then no tribal knowledge will be lost if our main point of contact leaves unexpectedly. It’s easy to fall into thinking that you and a client have an understanding, but it’s best to not leave all your good work to good faith. Doing this means there will be no questions when there’s evidence to support the work.

4. Ask for an introduction to the new contact. In a perfect world, introduction to the new client will be accompanied by a glowing recommendation, proof of your ROI and endless stories of your strategic support. So, if given the opportunity, ask your departing client for their help making a seamless transition.

5.Remember “New Person Syndrome.” We all want to be known for something, and this rings true when clients step into a new role. Some clients will choose to bring in someone they’ve worked with before, while others may continue to work with you and raise the bar.

6. Get to know your new client. Familiarize yourself with your new client by learning about what drives them, and not by telling them what you do. More than likely, they already know you’ve been successful in your role – now they just need to know they can trust you.

7. Ask for a meeting of the minds. This is where all of those circles will come in handy. Position the meeting as an opportunity to bring the new client up to speed by bringing together all your contacts for an account review. This goes against the grain because so many professionals fear the tough questions account reviews can bring on. But asking for the meeting displays confidence; demonstrates your commitment to the company; highlights your services; and will show the deep, trusting relationships you have within the organization.

8. Let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve followed these tips and the new client still decides to go in a different direction, the best advice to follow is to end on good terms, stay in touch and learn from the experience.

So tell me – are you taking any of these steps already?


How Much Time Should You Put into Prospecting?

December 19th, 2013

The question is a bit of a puzzle. Ideally, there would be a reference book that lists, by industry, how much time you should invest in prospecting activities. Unfortunately, there’s no reference book.

Why?

How much time you invest will depend on the number of prospecting activities you plan, the nature of the activities, and the intended results of the activities.

More importantly, different salespeople have different goals, and these goals will necessitate different amounts of time prospecting. Introducing a new product or opening a new territory may take more time than continuing to cultivate an existing market where you already have exposure.

If your efforts are primarily passive, where you have little if any control of the outcome—direct mail or e-mail for example—you will likely have to do more and it will take longer to see results. If your efforts are more proactive, where you have considerable control—cold prospecting or generating and then calling on referrals for instance—you can invest less time.

Since there is no simple formula, you must consider your prospecting objectives and then carefully track your activities and results. Then, you can decide how much time you want to invest and choose the activities that will allow you to achieve your objectives in that time period.


The 89-Cent Solution

December 12th, 2013

How often have you been sitting in the car after a sales call, and you thought of something you should have done that would have been more appropriate than what you just did?

“I shoulda said…,” “I shoulda asked…,” “I shoulda…,” “I shoulda…,” “I shoulda…”

You make a mental note of the shouldas…and then what?

Nothing!

With everything else that goes on during the day, your shouldas become a distant memory—lessons that could have been learned, but were lost instead.

Invest 89 cents on a spiral notebook and keep it on the seat of the car. Draw a line down the center of each page. Label the left side: The Prospect Said/Asked/Did. Label the right side: I Should Have Said/Asked/Done. The next time you have an impromptu debrief in the car, record the prospect’s action along with your shouldas. Don’t record what you did: record what you should have done. (The purpose of the journal is to reinforce good behavior, not remind you of poor behavior.) If you’re not sure what a more appropriate behavior would be, consult with your sales manager or a fellow salesperson at a later time. You won’t have to rely on your memory for an accurate description of the event: it will be recorded in your notebook.

So, the next time you think, “I shoulda…,” write it down. An 89 cent investment and a few minutes of your time will return big dividends in the form of improved performance and increased sales.