Universal Design and the Classroom of Everywhere

Universal Design and the Classroom of Everywhere

In tonight’s post, Caroline explains some of the elements that take place behind content creation in Universal Design and the Classroom of Everywhere.

One of the downsides in education is that we love, and I do mean LOVE, our buzzwords. We really do like to assign a catchy name to our processes. Tonight, I want to break down one of those key names and bring home what it can mean for you.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can be simply explained as flexibility. It is flexible in the way that students can engage, in the way materials are presented and made available, and in the way that students demonstrate their knowledge. This is part of what we bring to our students today. There are three main principles in UDL: multiple means of engagement, multiple means of representation, and multiple means of expression. In other words, a class is designed with the student in mind. This can be a paradigm shift for professionals: we don’t tend to think of ourselves as students, more as experts in our respective fields.

Continuous improvement comes with lifelong learning. It transforms you from being a professional exclusively, into a student at the same time.

The classroom is whatever you need it to be because this classroom is everywhere.

But when you set your own time aside to commit to your professional development, you want to be intentional about your classroom. Are you at work, immersed in the content you are studying? Are you at home, finding a quiet corner – or trying to – in order to focus on your class? Do you want or need a formal test before you select a course of study? Do you prefer to assess yourself and analyze your own skills?

These elements of your learning are entirely within your own control. When you sign up for one of our classes, we try to bring that element of choice and control to you as you study.

When you learn, when you set goals, you always need to consider, as Ron says “what’s your why?” In the classroom of everywhere, we try to answer the “how” for every student.

I invite you to explore our classes, our assessments and spend some time reflecting on your professional goals.

The time really is now.

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Information and a Call to Action

Information and a Call to Action.

 

Recently we did a Podcast with Mets Kramer where we talked about the “Digital Dealership.” Then we had a Candid Conversation with Ryszard Chciuk on his work experiences in Poland over the past forty years. Then I caught up with Ed Gordon and we talked about “Job Shock” which is his passion. All of this takes me to Data and Information.

Over my lifetime we have gone from “Data” Processing to “Information” Technology. We have changed the name but I am afraid to say we have changed little else. I remember mounds of paper with all manner of data on them. No Information. Today I still see mounds of Data and perhaps a bit more Information. However, I don’t see, from either the Data or the Information, any call to action.

I recently reread a book by George Friedman and his team called “The Intelligence Edge” with a subtitle of “How to Profit in the Information Age.” It was written in 1997. Sadly, I don’t see much in the way of success in the Industries in which I work to have learned enough about this subject. We have made incredible strides in how we have transformed data into information. I myself can attest to that truth. However, what knowledge have we gained from all of this information?

Looking back, I suspect that we have become over-sensitized from the pains of the early 1980s when inflation ran away and then tandem of Ronald Reagan and Paul Volker finally got us out of the inflation bubble by inflicting high interest rates on us. That transformed most of the Capital Goods world by a rather shortsighted solution of reducing headcount. I know it was necessary for us to be able to survive with such punitive interest rates, however, in many ways, we are still suffering the consequences of that action. We don’t have enough people. I have seen altogether too many dealerships that focus on headcount. I am coming to believe that the result of this action is like cutting off your leg and telling your mother how successful you have been at losing weight. Yes, it is true that you weigh less than you did but you now have to function with only one leg. Hardly as effective as functioning with two legs.

I see the same thing in how we operate today with information. First of all, most of the information we get is Financial Information. While I agree that the financials are important. Yet they tell us about things that have happened but much about where we are today nor where we are going. Yet where is the Management Information that we need? Where do I find Market Share from the Parts Business or the Service Business? Where do I find the replacement schedules of equipment working in the field? I don’t see that Information anywhere in the dealerships.

Which people on the payroll are doing that research? Who is working with that information to deliver it to the leadership of the departments and the dealerships? Does the leadership get early warnings of things to come or the necessary action to take? I don’t see these employees in any of the dealers that I have been around. Sure, there are Marketing Departments. But I don’t see them providing this information. I see them maintaining websites and perhaps newsletters. Important work I agree but there is more to marketing than advertising and trade shows. I am talking about what the book calls “Intelligence.” Yes, like the CIA. Information gathering, creating processes and systems to collect and collate and consolidate information. Then to produce this information as a form of intelligence that can be acted upon.

“The Mortal Enemy of Intelligence is Time and Wishful Thinking.” This is a famous Friedman quote. He goes further in the book. “The ability to see the consequences of actions clearly, even when the perception run counter to conventional wisdom, requires courage and a willingness to be alone.” This is the struggle of the “Pioneer” isn’t it? The people who go out front. Blaze a new trail to somewhere. It takes courage to go off into the unknown. “Sometimes it requires courage to be wrong.” That might mean in the sense of the Pioneers, their death. Without them, however, where would we all be today?

Let me bring this thought process to an end this way from the book. “The will to believe that what the facts reveal, and the courage to act on those facts, is the foundation of success in all endeavors.”

I believe it is time we set up Intelligence thinking in every department and every dealership. Find the data and transform it into information. Then use that information in combination with intelligence to take action and strive to succeed.

The time is now.

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3 Reasons Your Business is Not Profitable Part 1

3 Reasons Your Business is Not Profitable – Part 1

In this first of a two-part series of guest blogs, Bruce Baker shares with us 3 reasons your business is not profitable. 

The real truth is that there is NO REASON why you should be working so hard and seeing little return from all your efforts!

I always see business owners trying to convince themselves that this is “just the way owning and running a business is.” Let’s be honest, why the heck would you put so much blood, sweat and tears into something that does not even reward or engage you?

You may have already spent money on expensive consultants, business books and online courses to figure out how to build a profitable business and still pay yourself consistently and eliminate debt. Well, if you, like many other business owners, have done this already, you’re most likely know by now that it hasn’t produced much of a result for you and your business.

What if there was a way to ensure your business is profitable and remains possible. What if this was a reality and you were still able to pay yourself and wish your debt a final farewell?

Years ago, when I started my first business, I initially fell in love with the hopes of building a company that provides immense value to the market with excellent prospects of profitability. I did indeed add tremendous value but worked 12–15-hour days, 6-7 days a week! I became unhealthy, struggled to pay the bills, and dealt with uncontrollable debt.

All this with ZERO quality of life, GUILT from not spending time with my family…the list goes on! This made me realize that it had nothing to do with how much or how little money my business produced but how I was thinking about money and the time I was using to manage it. This led me to the system I called Time and Financial Repurposing (TFR), a complete game-changer for my business, clients, and hopefully for you!

*Repurpose: “to use something for a different purpose to the one for which it was originally intended.”

Stop wasting your time on traditional, outdated methods that get you little if any results! It’s time for you to take advantage of a system that is not new but is uniquely you and is as natural as breathing. TFR will transform how you use your time and money, ensuring your business is profitable!

I share the TFR system with business owners in my FREE group – Profitable Business Owners

ELIMINATE THE 3-REASONS YOUR BUSINESS IS NOT PROFITABLE:

1. Controlling money (the outcome) and not actions (the reason money exists).

2. Not being clear how money moves in and out of the business.

3. Trying to change who we are vs. leveraging what comes naturally to us.

REASON #1:
Controlling Money – Not Actions

Human beings are focused on the end result versus what and how their actions impact the outcome.

The pattern is ALWAYS the same. Business owners gauge their success with what ends up in the “bank.” How many times have you thought to yourself how hard you work, only to have to deal with this…look familiar?

Bruce Baker

So, where does this leave you? Disengaged and deflated!

Remember, the only reason your business produces “money” is through the decisions you make and the actions you take…that is it! We spend a ton of energy (in many cases negative energy) stressing about the money (the outcome) versus the actions and decisions (the driver) that produce money (the outcome) in the first place!

Bruce Baker

As one CEO and client of mine once commented, “I avoided looking at my bank account for a month and mysteriously ended up with a positive bank balance for the first time in over 3-years”.
Magic, alchemy? Not at all! Simply put, she moved herself to flip her focus from money to action. It was a challenge for her, but the success blew your mind!

Work through the following exercise to start eliminating Reason #1
#1: List all the actions and decisions you have taken in the last 4-weeks and identify which decisions were directly related to generating revenue.
#2: Identify which decision led to successful results (no matter how small) and which decisions did not lead to any results.
#3: List the reasons you defined the outcome as either successful or unsuccessful and what you will do the next time differently.

The purpose of this exercise is not to analyze your financials, but your behaviour(s) based on how you interpret a situation. Doing this, highlights how your emotional response(s) to a particular situation leads you to the decisions and actions you take and the outcome (money).
If you are noticing connections between your behaviours and the money outcome, move to the second reason which we will post next week.

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Distance Learning Victories

Distance Learning Victories

In tonight’s post, Caroline shares the news of victories in the area of distance learning. As early adopters of the virtual classroom, we know a few things about that here at LWS.

As we all know, it’s been more than a year since the world as we knew it closed down, including our schools. I still remember very clearly the last face-to-face day I spent with my younger students in 2020. Distance learning wasn’t something new in the world of adult education, but suddenly K12 education was thrust into the same platform and style of learning. Now, face-to-face means someone turned their camera on during an online course.

Here at LWS, we began to shift into a virtual classroom several years ago. The software we reviewed and selected was on the newer side, most live meetings were conducted with GoToMeeting, and this “webinar-style” delivery was an exciting thing to help create. Fast forward to the pandemic, and the software options seem endless and Zoom is a household name!

I think it is safe to say that we have all heard the horror stories surrounding distance learning. Tonight, I would like to bring us back to focus on learning success stories.

One of the aspects of what we do here at LWS is student choice: we engage with adults who want to improve their marketable skills within their field. Since 2014, we have fine-tuned that process into what feels like a new “school” on this side of the screen. As each student progresses through a class, they now have the option of listening to the audio or just reading content or doing both together. When we first started our online classes, feedback from learner surveys indicated that Ron’s voice could run to the soothing side – so we made a shift. We have also started to switch narrators, as I myself have begun recording audio tracks as well. My voice is not as soothing as my Dad’s: my high school students swear it isn’t.

We have brought full, professional translations of assessment and classes into French and Spanish. For the student who prefers to skip a formal assessment, we offer the self-assessment: you choose your training path, and you select your skill level. We have even developed coursework based upon student requests.

Where we once offered only traditional, multiple-choice tests, we now offer short response, multiple-choice, and reflection responses. If a student doesn’t want to write that response, they can upload an audio file and simply give the response verbally.

Even though I tend to be the more silent of the two of us (don’t tell Dad I said that, he says I speak in “pages, not paragraphs”), I can tell you this: when students have choices about not only what they learn, but how they demonstrate that learning, success is the outcome. I invite you to join us and start building your success story today.

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Empowering the Technician

Empowering The Technician

In his guest post for this week, Ross Atkinson brings us into the loop of empowering the technician in your business.

Your technicians are valuable, skilled workers and many of them use highly sophisticated equipment beyond the traditional toolbox wrenches. Many manufacturers have mandated diagnostic monitoring systems plugged directly into the engine from a laptop to check the machine for issues. There is no doubt that the technical requirements of the service technician have changed dramatically in the last 20 years! Yes, they still need to take the machine apart and put it back together, however, considering the sophistication of today’s equipment, any assistance diagnosing the problems is welcomed – most certainly a process improvement!

Now let’s talk about another opportunity to save your technician time – business system integration. This multifaceted topic begins with how your technicians record the time they work on equipment. Are they still using punch cards, writing the time manually, or even barcode scanning at a central scanning station? Or do they have access to the business system through a computer to clock in/out of repair orders? It should be obvious that having the technician clock directly into the business system saves time. No need to have a service writer spending hours the next morning keypunching every technician’s time into the respective repair orders.

Beyond the improvement in recording technician time, have you ever taken a moment to analyze your technicians’ footsteps in a day? Everyone knows how important it is to keep the technician in the work bay, otherwise, the time away negatively affects the technician’s efficiency and reduces the amount of throughput you can handle in your shop.

This analysis can help you identify why they left their bay and shed some light on where gains could possibly be recognized by eliminating the footsteps and replacing them with some form of system integration. You can do a similar analysis of the post-repair tasks and determine if it can be done by the technician at the time of repair using the same system integration being offered. Let’s look at some ideas:

  1. Clocking time at their bay eliminates the need to walk to a central punch clock system.
  2. Access to machine history eliminates the need to stand at the shop foreman’s door to ask questions about the service or rental history of the machine.
  3. Visibility to the dealership parts inventory to know whether parts are in stock or need to be ordered eliminates the need to walk to the requisition counter.
  4. Seeing the machine’s configuration including serial numbers with a direct tie into manufacturer systems to check for outstanding product improvements/recalls and parts availability.  Again, eliminates the need to go and ask someone else to do the research.
  5. Allow the technician to update the machine hours immediately so that it doesn’t get forgotten about. As we know from my previous blog on Service Agreements, hours are such a critical component so why chance having someone else do it many days later.
  6. Ability to upload before and after images directly to the repair order for historical and warranty purposes. The payback on this could be huge if the customer questions the repair or you get into a warranty audit.
  7. Visibility to job code hours so the technician knows what the expectation is for job completion and the repair time remaining. An updated benchmark helps the technician stay focused so that the job gets done on time.
  8. Having a tracking system for technician breaks whether the company or the customer is paying for it. Keeping your technician honest and eliminating the “water cooler effect” is important in time management.
  9. Ability to key technician stories and comments for the customer or for historical purposes and eliminate the need for another dealership employee to decipher and rekey what has been written by hand.
  10. The ability to electronically request parts from the parts department eliminates the need to walk to the requisition counter.  The parts can be delivered directly to the bay.

These are just some ideas on where gains could be obtained by empowering your technicians via business system integration. Maybe you already have some or all of these in place or maybe you can add to this list.

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We All Engage in Social Media

We All Engage in Social Media

In this week’s post, guest blogger Mets Kramer shares that we all engage in social media and this blog is just one example. Other platforms include Facebook, LinkedIn, and of course, the large number of websites we all visit for information.  

As the digital world grows, we understand it is necessary to have a social media presence for our dealerships. We want people to see us and whatever online presence we create, we want it to have a positive impact on our business.  In my last article, we looked at how to use metrics for your website, with a specific focus on using the information collected to understand your customers’ and visitors’ engagement with your digital dealership.  Our goal for investing time and money into our online presence is to increase the engagement we have with our audience.

I’d like to look more closely at social media strategies. Each platform has its strengths and can contribute to your website traffic and engagement.  There are 3 main things to consider when building your strategy: who is your Intended Audience, what kind of Content do you want to post, and lastly, a call to Action, or in other words, how do you want them to respond?

Your audience consists of both active and prospective customers, in addition to a large number of people who many have no need for your services.  When developing your strategy, it’s important to consider who will see your social media posts on each platform and understand the demographics of these audiences. For example, joining small contractor groups on Facebook may get you a large audience of owner/operators who love equipment and are busy each day on site.  LinkedIn has a more professional and corporate audience, with larger business decision-makers or influencers.  It’s important to understand who the audience is when determining what kind of content, you want to show them. We all can appreciate the effort in personalized messages, on a card or in an email greeting; this is no different for social media, be personal.

The second aspect to consider is content, which can include product images (equipment for sale), application content (showing the product at work), general information to educate your audience or pure branding content so the audience becomes familiar with your company’s “face”.  Remember social media is social. This means that all the content you post, needs to also focus on you or celebrating people in your business. When you can associate a person with your online content, it helps your audience build a social connection with your business. In your digital marketing strategy, the goal is to build a virtual experience between your dealership, you and your audience; both active and prospective customers. All this to say, if you’re only posting images of your inventory with no links to your website, you are not successfully building a social connection within your online presence.

This brings us to the final aspect of engaging in social media: the call to action. What is the action you want your audience member to take after seeing your content? This is where the strategizing comes in. It is imperative to create content that motivates potential clients to move away from “doomscrolling” and drive them to your website. Doomscrolling can be defined as mindlessly scrolling through news articles, social media posts, or other content on sharing platforms.

So, what is your call to action?

Decide if you want your viewer to click on the content and be redirected to your website so you can further engage with them, or do you want a direct response? An example of a direct response is posting an image of a machine you have for sale, with pricing details and contact information. Here, the call to action is “Call me to buy this machine”. This type of strategy has been shown to be very effective on platforms like Facebook where you have groups of contractors, but it’s generally frowned upon on LinkedIn. A more strategic approach on a platform like LinkedIn, would be to have the viewer click on your post, directing them to your website. Now, you have the opportunity to present your dealership fully, presenting all the aspects of your business and focusing the user to think about how your dealership can meet their needs.

In conclusion, the main objective for any strategy should be a call to action. We invest time and money in social media platforms to redirect our audience members to the right place: generally, your website. If you can construct each post with the knowledge of the kind of audience you are marketing and a clear expectation of what you want their response to be, it will help you determine the kind of content you should post.  If your audience is full of buyers, show them something to buy. If your audience is full of influencers, build a connection, build your brand and drive traffic to your website so they get the full picture.

One last note.  Find a social media management app to execute your strategy.  Check out Hootesuite, Social Pilot, Buffer, Sendible and others.

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Principia for Business

Principia for Business

In this week’s guest blog, Ryszard Chciuk shares his Principia for business.

In my post The Future is Now I presented you why and how my after-sales team worked out its long-term plans, which most of business teachers call a vision. Today I am writing about the way we were going to bring us closer to our goals.

I am repeating myself: without the long-term plans, you are like a sailor who missed all his maps. You can use your compass, but you do not know where you will finally land on. Maybe it will be a deserted island. If you are a very lucky man, maybe you will land in a paradise. I am daring to give you one piece of advice: please, do not fool yourself, most probably you will break up the boat on the rocks. You and your crew have a little chance to survive the crash, it will be just pure chance.

Worse things happen if your team members do not follow the binding rules. I prefer to name them the main principles. Coming back to the metaphor. Before you abandon a port, you must equip your boat with precise maps and a compass. In 1492 Christopher Columbus had an astrolabe, compass, quadrant, and, instead of maps, his assumptions which directions to go. Finally, he was convinced he landed in “the Indies”, but fortunately for him (not for the original inhabitants), the ships made landfall on one of the Bahamian islands.

In real-life our maps are always uncertain, so before you start the journey, you should agree with your co-sailors a small number of basic rules to be strictly followed. For example, the captain is always right, you will keep watch till you are replaced by another sailor on duty, everybody is authorized to ask questions and make mistakes, the person in charge is not always right, and so on. Otherwise, all of you will fight against each other, instead of collaboration in the face of a turbulent market.

Those basic rules I name the main principles. Certainly, you are accustomed to calling them values, so I will explain myself. Most of the dictionaries, including The Cambridge Dictionary, define the first meaning of the word “value” as the amount of money that can be received for something. The second meaning of that word is the beliefs people have, especially about what is right and wrong, but it is only for the plural form. The three laws of Motion Sir Isaac Newton presented in the masterpiece called Principia (in Latin) and it is translated into Principles (in English). That’s why I ask my friends to follow the main principles instead of the values. Values and vision belong to the most overused – and least understood – words in the language of business. I want to avoid any ambiguities while talking about things of so high importance.

The most important for every organization is that all level managers and all employees subscribe to the main principles. It means, you as a manager, should employ only candidates who learnt the company values and agreed to follow those principles during the whole journey with the company. Later on, you have to observe potential breakers of the values and eliminate them. Otherwise, some employees may sabotage the whole organization. However, it’s not easy to discover the true personal values of a candidate during an interview. My advice is not to rely only on the information gathered by the human resources department. Use also your own intuition.

The most severe troubles for every kind of organization can be caused by people occupying more important posts. The company owner should keep it in mind when hiring top management. Do you remember the famous Enron case? In its annual report to shareholders, Enron listed its core values as follows:

  1. Communication – We have an obligation to communicate.
  2. Respect – We treat others as we would like to be treated.
  3. Integrity – We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly, and sincerely.
  4. Excellence– We are satisfied with nothing less than the very best in everything we do.

The actions of Enron’s senior leaders stood opposed to these core values. They quickly established a culture with values of greed and desire to maximize personal gain. It also appeared that Enron managers were supported by the renowned auditing company Arthur Andersen LLP. What was the result? Thousands of people lost jobs, their money collected on retirement plans disappeared…

I am writing this article because I want all of my friends to be aware of a potential threat. I have read about many leaders driving organizations into bankruptcy due to breaking their values. In the last decades of my life, it concerns mainly political leaders all over the world. It is unfair that dishonest leaders never pay the highest cost. Perhaps Enron’s CEO Jeffrey Skilling was one of few exceptions. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison (finally was freed after 14 years). Have you heard about reimbursing the victims of the Enron scandal?

As I explained in the post The Future is Now, my plan to build the best after-sales organization could not be executed if we employed people having bad habits. In other words, we would fail if new employees were accustomed to the principles which were opposite to ours.

Next time I will explain, what it meant in our daily work.

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A Positive Sense of Community

A Positive Sense of Community

This week, Don Shilling shares the importance of building a positive sense of community.

I know all of us have watched reports in the media or thumbed through articles in periodicals about the wonderful employee benefits some of High-Tech companies provide their workforce. Perks that are used to attract talented people and keep them occupied while at work. The lavish gourmet cafeteria’s, coffee kiosks or fully equipped gyms within the walls of their facilities. Under our breath as read view these perks, we probably exclaim . . .. “How in the world do we compete with that?”

Your organization may be like our company; our environment is such that we just do not have the physical space to offer those kind of amenities as it seems all our facilities are limited to providing services for customers or work environments to efficiently produce and administer the delivery of our goods and services.

Our employees however are just as important to our success as the High-Tech companies’ employees are to their operation. So, the burning question is, what are we doing to attract and retain our employees given the limitations both physically and environmentally of our industry?

We must be employee focused! This focus can be done without adding square footage to our facilities.

Do each of your employees feel they are appreciated? Are they given opportunities for training, job recognition, offered consistent and timely delivery of benefits and real opportunities for advancement? Have you created a culture of shared knowledge of the business and demonstrated caring and compassion during times of personal crisis?

These are all valid questions that require your own personal reflection. Appreciation can start by simply sharing information with employees. Some companies use a Balanced Scorecard approach while others are deep in other management tools like EOS Traction where all personnel regularly hear the company focus, goals and implementation steps required. During the sharing of this information these are golden opportunities to recognize departments and individuals who have contributed to the success. These meetings should be positive events with plenty of sharing of knowledge and open discussion.

We must focus on the individuals. Ways of doing that may include sharing company logo’ d apparel so all can identify with the business, company newsletters distributed weekly used to recognize special things like weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and especially examples individual accomplishment of outstanding company values. (Not just the “big deal” you were awarded, but the small extra efforts made by individuals furthering the company’s efforts)

Our company has also found positive success if we get personally involved in employees after work activities such as helping to sponsor the employee in things ranging from sporting events or teams, charity events, hobbies or personal interest activity and other activities that may include the employee or other family members like their children or spouse. By sponsoring an employee, we ask for photos or shared results of those activities so that activity can be shared in the company newsletter for all to see.

Recognizing milestones of each employee, breaking bread in picnic’s, grill outs or appreciation dinners. Stopping all work for an Ice Cream Break or treating all employees to an entertainment venue can contribute to the relationship we have with one another and bring participants closer together.

Creating this sense of Community is the key element we as smaller business entities need to do to attract and maintain the family values. This becomes the glue that holds us all together. When your employees make a point of bragging about the company, they work for . . . it is generally the customer and a potential future employee that are listening!!

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Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization 2

Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization – Part 2

Tonight, Don Buttrey brings us Part 2 of his two-part series on Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization.

2) Sell ‘the house’

We don’t just sell product anymore.  Product and brand will not sell itself. We have to ‘sell the house’.  That is one thing the competition does not have-your differentiator!

Why should customers choose you and do business with you?  Every person in your organization should know that answer.  This awareness should season everything you do and be on the tip of every tongue. If you do not know that answer…who does?

When you consider the question “what do we sell?” you can help define that answer by documenting Company Factors and Value-Added Services of your company.  Company Factors are advantages, minute distinctions and attractive characteristics that you offer.  Don’t get hung up on the word, unique.  Some competitors may claim the same or similar factors.  Company factors are simply what you look like as a company.  How many branches you have, expertise in certain markets, years in business, key people, inventory, size, location, stability, certified mechanics, customer base, and lines represented are all examples of company factors.  Value-Added Services are what you do for your customers before, during and after the sale.  These services support your offerings and enhance the perceived value.  Examples might be inventory management, part usage reports, financing services, safety training seminars, etc.  I suggest you workshop these two lists as a team and publish the results internally.  Make sure everyone knows and believes in ‘who you are’ and ‘what you do’.  You may even want to prioritize this list and document the top things that clearly set you apart from the rest of the pack of competitors.

3) Standardize your selling process

So how do we take this corporate, ‘selling mindset’ to the street?  This has to be more than a “value” campaign or hype.  We must make sure that all contacts and experiences that our customers have with us result in a perceived value for which they are willing to pay a premium price.  This will not happen by accident.  Banners, literature and websites will only create visual consistency in your marketing and image.  Each and every person, in every customer interaction, must sell that value and communicate it effectively.

The best way to facilitate this is with a standardized selling process.  This is a framework to help each person who interacts with the customer to prepare and execute effective selling of your value.  We recommend a standard tool that we call the SELL process.  The dynamic interaction with a customer is not step-by-step.  However, having a structure for how to prepare and execute the interaction is powerful.

 

 

The SELL Process:  Start        Evaluate        Leverage         Lock

Outside sales professionals can use this outline to pre-call plan for each call – SELL offense!  Sales support can use this same outline to react better in spontaneous selling situations and opportunities that occur everyday.  The same SELL process can also be used a framework to prepare for objections and respond to them properly – SELL defense!

When we train sales professionals and sales support, we use this simple, yet profound process to prepare, practice and perfect selling skill.  Each step is studied, understood and practiced.  For example, every person who deals with complaints or objections from customers can benefit from intense learning on how to answer objections.  The team can even document proven answers and practice delivery and methodology of responding.  By standardizing the tool and terminology used for selling your value everyday, you can fulfill the first challenge we discussed—teach everyone to sell.

Summary

Becoming a selling organization is not really complicated.  It is decisive, however.  The pieces are all there; your people, your products, your operations.  It is really a matter if reconnecting those pieces to transform into a selling machine.  Teach everyone to sell.  Sell the house.  Standardize your selling process.  Remember the line of children’s toys called Transformers?  A robot, with its existing parts could, by a few decisive moves, become a racecar or some other machine.  Make the three decisive moves we just discussed and turn from just a dealer into a SELLING MACHINE!

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Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization 1

Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization – Part 1

Don Buttrey introduces us to the transformation involved in becoming a selling organization in Part 1 of his blog on this topic.

 

“Nothing happens until somebody sells something.”  With that simple statement, Red Motley made clear the importance of the sales function to any organization.  As a distributor in the supply channel, the importance is even more acute.  Selling is your lifeblood.  The selling function is a significant part of your activities.  Oh yes, operations, service and technical support are essential, but today’s Construction Equipment Distributor or manufacturer must be a “selling machine” where everyone who serves the customer directly or indirectly delivers and communicates (sells) value.  When this thinking permeates your culture, it assures growth and profitability.  What I have just described is a true “selling organization.”

 

Leaders; transforming into a team where everyone sells and has a selling mindset will not happen by accident.  You must do it on purpose.  If you tell people to do the right things and your system tells them otherwise…the system will win every time.  This article will highlight three things you can start immediately to indoctrinate this culture into your system:  1) Teach everyone to sell; 2) Sell the house; 3) Standardize your selling process.

 

1) Teach everyone to sell

 

This part of the transformation starts at the top, as you might have expected.  First and foremost, the dealer principle and top management must be selling experts.  Not that they are out on the field closing deals (although they may have key involvement in some accounts.)  Yet they must possess sharpened selling skills in order to sell ideas, expectations, tools, systems etc. to the entire team.  Sell, not tell!  They must also have a clear understanding of value and benefit selling in order to present, market and perpetuate the required factors that differentiate you from the rest of the competition.  Only leaders that understand the strategic and tactical requirements of successful selling can direct, inspire, coach and motivate a true selling organization.  Visible, enthusiastic support of any selling skills training is a must.

 

Sales managers must also sell.  They must become brilliant in their contribution to joint calls–not to “take over” but to be a model of professional selling skill.  As a coach they reinforce the disciplines of professional selling and raise the bar of expectations.  It is strongly suggested that sales managers participate in any selling skills training.  The purpose of this is not to just monitor and observe, but to be an active part as each salesperson practices and refines their execution.

 

Of course, front-line salespeople must be masters of selling.  Selling is their profession.  Each one should strive to become a Sales Professional!  Product knowledge, application expertise, people skills, benefit selling, communication skill, strategic account planning, and pre-call planning are just a few of the many skills and tools they must execute skillfully to get consistent results.  Intensive selling skill training for these professionals is a given.  These are the “highly trained field agents” of a successful selling organization that take proactive action and start the engine.

 

And please don’t forget that service technicians, customer service, installation, and all sales support must also be trained in selling skills.  Granted, selling is not their primary job duty.  Yet they are interacting daily with customers and dealing with the tough issues. They encounter an astounding number of opportunities to reinforce value, secure jeopardized business, penetrate and expand accounts, discover hidden opportunities, pass leads, add-on sell and build relationships.  Great selling organizations provide these key players with more than just technical know-how or specific job skills.  They leverage their integral involvement with customers by adding core selling skills to their regimen of training.  With proper sales training they can learn to sell spontaneously and appropriately.

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