Monday, March 25, 2013

Five Steps to Better Sales Performance


A giant gap exists in most organizations between the highest performing sales reps and everyone else. How is it possible that in the same environment and under the same conditions, some reps achieve outstanding results while others struggle to just make their quota? 

The answer depends on the most critical role in any sales organization: the sales manager. On average, one sales manager impacts the success of 10 or more reps.

But instead of devoting time to coaching their teams to higher performance, managers spend their days distracted by the 14 meetings, 500 emails and 200 phone calls they handle in an average week.
As a result, a disconnect exists between what sales managers think their reps want and the reality of what reps need to be successful.

In the 5 Steps to Better Sales Performance eBook, we reveal the proven methods the best sales managers rely on to close the sales performance gap between average performers and all-stars.
The is a brief outline of the 5 steps:
  1. Be a Coach, Not a Manager: Coaching will help you boost the performance of your all-stars, motivate average performers to reach the next tier, and elevate lower performers.
  2. Set Daily Goals and Track Progress Against Them: Holding others accountable is on of the core skills consistent among top sales leaders.
  3. Motivate the Middle: Sales Managers who focus exclusively on top performers – or the poor performers – are far less likely to be successful.
  4. Focus on People, Not Process: 75% of sales leaders believe their managers spend too much time on administration and logistics that don’t add value to the business.
  5. The Best Feedback is Served Fresh: Performance feedback gets stale quickly. Left unaddressed, minor issues quickly spiral into major ones. 
To learn more about these steps and get actionable tip for coaching your sales team, download the eBook

Friday, March 22, 2013

Mobile World Congress 2013 may have overlooked something important

By Shane Schick

It’s easy and understandable to look from afar at the coverage of this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and focus solely on the new devices – Firefox phones! Phablets! – that were announced by various hardware makers. None of those toys will mean much, however, if IT professionals don’t spend just as much time thinking about how IP networks should evolve to support them.

I was intrigued to see that the newswire service Reuters actually paid some attention to this, highlighting demonstrations from Qualcomm, Verizon, AT&T and others that illustrated the kind of space-age connectivity and context-based computing that has been envisioned for at least the last decade. As usual, the demonstrations were all about digital life at home, from coffeemakers that activated via a smartphone and speakers that turned themselves on when their owner enters a room. This quote summed up the underlying vision of Mobile World Congress 2013:

Glenn Lurie, AT&T president of emerging enterprises, said the next step would be . . . creating a smart ecosystem dedicated to an individual. “When my wife drives into the house and flips the garage door open, the house will know she’s home and unlock the door and turns the thermostat up; that’s the future,” Lurie said.

Well sure, it’s part of the future. But only part. If communication vendors put this much work into enabling a more seamlessly connected digital lifestyle for consumers, there will be an increased expectation of similar functionality and network-awareness at work. If your house can turn on the thermostat before you open the door, why should the average office worker need to sit through 10-minute boot times (or worse), tap through sluggish enterprise applications and search for the relevant files that they’ll need over the course of the day?

IT departments are stressed out right now in part because the IT industry allowed the consumer technology experience to overwhelmingly surpass what the average business can offer its personnel. As the next generation of networks manifest themselves, vendors and technology professionals have an opportunity to turn that situation around. It may begin with a migration to all-IP networks, but it will also mean the applications and even the physical infrastructure of business environments will need to be reconsidered. Call it unified communications 2.0 if you want, but it comes down to this: What do people need to do when they’re in “work” mode, and where will they be doing it?

Things that turn on or run automatically in a home will quickly be taken for granted. The real opportunity for next-generation network technologies will be about easing the processes carried out by business people of every description, making them more productive and collaborative than ever before. Hopefully some smart people at this week’s event in Barcelona will keep that in mind. A true “mobile world” should recognize that if we dedicate smart ecosystems to an individual, that individual isn’t just playing around. They have work to do, too.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

10 Coaching Questions That Every Manager Should Ask


When it comes to coaching, guiding a conversation with the artful and strategic use of well crafted questions is a challenge for coaches of all levels. Here are 10 questions you can use in any conversation.
After coaching thousands of managers across the globe, I’m overly sensitive to the fact that great coaches coach from their heart, not from their head. However, just like learning anything new, such as how to swing a golf club, you’re initially focused on the mechanics of your swing, each movement, step by step. It is only after consistent repetition of the same movement, does it become your own. You stop thinking about the mechanics, and habitually just do it.

This also holds true when it comes to the questions managers ask when coaching. I certainly know there’s a multitude of different questions you can use in any coaching conversation. However, when the best ones are used and used consistently, the conversation becomes magical and both the coach and coachee walk away from that experience feeling great because value was delivered, a new solution was co-created, a new possibility emerged.

That’s when this shift happens; the manager starts recognizing positive results from coaching and as such, their confidence increases and they begin to trust their intuition, their gut, their coaching abilities and their instincts more and more. The byproduct? The right questions just show up naturally and organically within each conversation. But you still need to start with a baseline of best practices to provide a solid foundation to build from before you can make it your own and leverage your own style, strengths and personality into your coaching.

Baseline of Best Practices

That’s why I’ve listed ten coaching questions here which I’ve used over the years that I have found can work in practically every conversation you have. (Actually, I’ve provided you with more than ten questions but condensed a few questions together, as there are several ways to ask the same question, depending upon your own style of coaching and communicating.) These questions will expand your direct report’s thinking, while challenging them to bring out their best. This leads to greater accountability and ownership of the problem, as well as empowering your people with the responsibility to develop their own solution so that they are the ones who have created a new possibility, approach, outlook or way of thinking.

Of course, depending upon the conversation, you may not need to leverage every single question. However, as you use them throughout your coaching efforts, you’ll start recognizing how many of these questions you need and which ones are the most appropriate. Keep in mind, this is just one of many ways to facilitate an effective coaching conversation. And if you don’t have a great manager or a coach in your corner, you can also leverage some of these questions for self-coaching! (Just don’t argue with yourself over the responses you hear! ;- )

10 Coaching Questions That Work In Any Conversation

  • What is the outcome you’re looking to achieve here?
  • Can you share the specifics of what’s going on?
  • What have you tried so far?
  • How have you handled something like this before? (What was the outcome?)
  • Why do you think this is happening? (What’s another way to look at this/respond? What else can also be possible/true?  What assumptions could you be making here?)
  • What’s your opinion on how to handle this? (If I wasn’t here, what would you do to achieve/resolve this? What options/ideas do you have? What’s another solution/approach that may work (which you haven’t tried yet?)
  • What’s the first thing you need to do to (resolve/achieve this)? (What would that conversation sound like when you talk with……?)
  • What resources do you need? (Who else do you think needs to be involved in this? How else can I support you around your efforts to complete this?)
  • What are you willing to commit to doing/trying/changing (by when)?
  • When should we reconnect to ensure you have achieved the result you want?

2 Bonus Questions

If you sense any resistance to change or a lack of ownership around the issue, goal or problem, you can weave in one of these questions here:
  • What would it mean to you if you could (achieve this, resolve this, etc….)? (This question helps the person visualize what’s in it for them – and it’s the thing that they want rather than the manager trying to tell or ‘sell’ them on what the benefit is.)
  • How would this impact/affect you (your team, career, etc.) if this (continues, doesn’t change, doesn’t get resolved)? (This question enables the person to see/articulate the measurable cost of not changing rather than being told the negative consequence. Remember, if they say it, then they own it. And if they own it, they act on it rather than being told the consequence, which often leads to resistance.)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Scary numbers expose the bandwidth-hogging devices that will cripple your network


A new research report culls mobile subscriber data to show usage patterns and what impact phones, tablets and video have on IT resources. Take a deep breath.


I still remember a time when I used Internet caf├ęs and occasionally even fax machines to work on the road. Mobile workforces aren’t new; the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and bring-your-own-device policies is just making mobile workplaces the new normal.

But mobility puts an added strain on the network — or, in the case of legacy networks, an overwhelming burden. At the same time, your users expect the same quality of experience that they’ve always had.
The Citrix ByteMobile Mobile Analytics Report (for the first quarter of 2013) looks at subscriber behavior that determines the quality of their experience with today’s mobile data services.

If you’re looking to improve the mobile experience for your users or better manage increasing volumes of traffic, the findings provide some insight into how people use their mobile devices and the impact this has on the network. It can also help you shape mobile policies to take into account how users typically access data on the go and what they’re consuming.

The report found that, on average, a network-connected tablet generates three times more data than a smartphone. It also found that an iOS-based tablet generates more than three times the data of an Android-based tablet. Android smartphones generate five megabytes of data per day, while iOS-based smartphones generate 13 megabytes per day.

Despite low usage, the report found that video generates more than 50 per cent of total mobile data traffic on wireless networks. So if only 20 per cent of users are generating more than 50 per cent of mobile data traffic, what does that mean when more of your users start viewing video? It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure this out: It will make your network slow as molasses.
And the problem is only going to get worse. Already, employees are streaming video and collaborating with their colleagues over the corporate network — often using mobile devices. And they’re probably accessing the network with their own devices, too.

Don’t have a BYOD policy? Doesn’t matter — employees are using their personal devices at work anyway, whether or not you have a formal policy around it. And if you do have a policy, are you supporting iOS or Android? Smartphones or tablets? Or a combination of operating systems and form factors?
Existing legacy networks weren’t designed to handle this new mobile reality. And we all know the consequences: disrupted streaming and dropped voice and video calls. Not only is this an annoyance to users, but it also makes the business look unprofessional.
So as you develop a mobile strategy and look at BYOD, don’t forget to consider the implications that will have on your network. It’s like bungee jumping without checking to see if the cords can support your weight — it’s just not a smart idea.