How to Build Your Company with only High Potentials

How to Build Your Company with only High Potentials

Hire for potential, retain through training, and charge with autonomy

HR executives recruit candidates based on the accomplishments they see on their resumes. And they fail so miserably because it relies on the flawed assumption that people who have done well in the past would do equally well or better in the future. Accomplishments are previous results. On the other hand, candidates who have been hired without any accomplishments but purely because the CEO or the top management believed in him or her, have proven to succeed so spectacularly. Why? The answer is potential.

Potential is the ability to adapt to increasingly complex roles and environments. After hiring the high potentials, continuously keep them in a stimulating environment under which they thrive through leadership programs. Also, give them decision-making autonomy in their respective areas of leadership. So, the human resources professionals need a complete retraining that will offer an extraordinary opportunity for the company to exploit the human assets. The new skills they require are the following:

  • Hiring: How to spot potential
  • Retaining: Develop effective leadership-developing programs
  • Charging: Help the best get better by giving them autonomy

Let us examine them one by one.

1) Hiring

Candidates must have not only the right skills but also the potential to learn new ones. Competency-based appointments are increasingly becoming insufficient. That is because what makes someone successful today in a particular role under certain circumstances might not tomorrow because of the ever-changing competitive environment, the dynamic company strategy and the need to manage and work with a different group of colleagues. What is required is the potential of the candidate to fit into future roles. Unfortunately, a candidate’s potential is much harder to discern than competence. Consider Egon Zehnder who developed and refined an empirically validated model over two decades with a predictive accuracy of 85%. In conclusion, this model predicts potential based on five indicators:

  • Motivation: pursuit of challenging goals
  • Curiosity: explore new ideas and avenues
  • Insight: see connections where others do not
  • Engagement: with their work and colleagues
  • Determination: overcome setbacks and obstacles

Perhaps the CEOs who took a leap of faith and hired a candidate who did not have any past accomplishments to show for must have subconsciously seen all the above qualities in him or her. They were competent people with potential. Sadly, most organizations have HR professionals who kill off good candidates and endorse bad ones. The best interviewers’ assessments and the right kind of hiring can vastly improve the odds.

So, of what are high potentials made?

The superior level of performance of high potentials is consistent in a variety of circumstances and settings. Moreover, they have a high propensity to grow and succeed faster and more efficiently than their co-workers. They are three distinct qualities in high-achievers. They are broadly categorized as performance, behavior, and X-factors as illustrated in the table below.

Performance Behavior X factors
Deliver results strongly – credibly Recognize that action counts A drive to excel
Master new types of expertise Exhibit behavior that reflects the culture of their companies A catalytic learning capability
Perform with distinction with a broad range of stakeholders Demonstrate company values in an exemplary manner An enterprising spirit
Competence not at the expense of someone else Be a role model and teacher Dynamic sensors

2) Retaining

After hiring the real high potentials, focus on keeping them not only because of the tendency to fall off voluntarily but also because the talent market is very tight. Make sure that the candidates live up to the high potential spotted in them by offering them future leadership assignments. Companies have targeted leadership development opportunities, job rotations, stretch assignments, and executive programs designed to nurture high-achieving individuals. They push their high-achievers up a straight ladder toward bigger budgets, bigger jobs, and a larger team. These measures have managed to continue their growth but not unleash their ultimate potential. According to a research 40% of internal job moves by “high potentials” have failed because of the following flawed assumptions of senior managers.

  • Assumed that high potentials are highly engaged
  • Equated current high performance with future potential
  • Delegated down the management of top talent
  • Shielded rising stars from early derailment
  • Expected star employees to share the pain
  • Failed to link the stars to corporate strategy

A disciplined approach is needed. Leadership development initiatives should reflect the needs of the rising stars and align with organizational goals. Make sure that the job rotations and relevant stretch assignments they are getting suit their temperaments and aptitudes.

3) Charging

Hiring for potentials and providing them with the proper training is not the end of it. Keeping them in the company without the competitors luring them away is another challenge. There are some proven strategies that management can adopt to keep the top potentials who have attended the leadership program engaged, motivated and driven. They need to reinforce and explicitly express that the “high potential” title is not only an acknowledgment of past accomplishment but also of future potential. Also, give them autonomy in the following four “T” dimensions: Task, Time, Team, Technique

We cannot predict the competencies and skills needed to succeed in the future because of the dynamic nature of geopolitics, business environment, competitive landscape and the tight talent market. It is, therefore, imperative to hire and nurture people with the highest potential and not just those who have proved their abilities in the past. That doesn’t mean forgetting factors like intelligence, experience, specific competencies, performance, and leadership skills. But the implication is that companies should hire competent people with potential. Recognize their competence and potential by enrolling them in an executive development program. And finally, cultivate a sense of ownership in them by giving them autonomy in the decision-making. Thus, hiring for potential, retaining them at every level of the organization, and charging them by giving them independence are the key success factors of the most admired companies in the world.

35 Famous Quotes about Product

35 Famous Quotes about Product

  • Steve Jobs

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.

  • Alan Musk

Any product that needs a manual to work is broken.

  • Peter Drucker

Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. it is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe.

  • Stephen King

A product is something made in a factory; a brand is something that is bought by the customer. A product can be copied by a competitor; a brand is unique. A product can be quickly outdated; a successful brand is timeless.

  • Thomas Watson

Great design will not sell an inferior product, but it will enable a great product to achieve its maximum potential.

  • Lee Iacocca

When the product is right, you don’t have to be a great Marketer.

  • Seth Godin

Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.

  • David Ogilvy

Good products can be sold by honest advertising. If you don’t think the product is good, you have no business to be advertising it.

  • Zig Ziglar

If you believe your product or service can fulfill a true need, it’s your moral obligation to sell it.

  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.

  • W Edwards Deming

You cannot inspect quality into the product; it is already there.

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan

According to this view, democracy is a product of western culture, and it cannot be applied to the Middle East which has a different cultural, religious, sociological and historical background.

  • Bob Geldof

Divorce is a by-product of the fact that maybe the nuclear unit is gone.

  • Alan Cumming

My feeling about work is it’s much more about the experience of doing is than the end product. Sometimes things that are really great and make lots of money are miserable to make, and vice versa.

  • Henry Ford

A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one.

  • Stephen Covey

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

  • Calvin Klein

The only way to advertise is by not focusing on the product.

  • Miley Cyrus

I hate bring thought of as a product.

  • Estee Lauder

If you don’t sell, it’s not the product that’s wrong, it’s you.

  • Marissa Mayer

Product management really is the fusion between technology, what engineers do and the business side.

  • Philip Kotler

The sales department isn’t the whole company, but the whole company better be the sales department.

  • Gary Hamel

Alan Kay’s famous aphorism is that perspective is worth 80 IQ points. An innovative insight is not the product of an individual’s brilliance. It’s not as if innovators’ heads are wired in different ways. Innovation typically comes from looking at the world through a slightly different lens

  • Jack Welch

Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy … Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.

  • Lady Gaga

I already am a product

  • Ross Perot

Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships.

  • Jeff Bezos

I strongly believe that missionaries make better products. They care more. For a missionary, it’s not just about the business. There has to be a business, and the business has to make sense, but that’s not why you do it. You do it because you have something that motivates you.

  • Richard Branson

We experiment endlessly, with new products, new companies and new marketing. A successful business the emphasis is on experiment and development, ideas are the lifeblood of business.

  • Clayton M. Christensen

A disruptive innovation is a technologically simple innovation in the form of a product, service, or business model that takes root in a tier of the market that is unattractive to the established leaders in an industry.

  • Billy Joel

Have you listened to the radio lately? Have you heard the canned, frozen and processed product being dished up to the world as American popular music today?

  • Tom Ford

When you are having fun, and creating something you love, it shows in the product. So, when a woman is sifting through a rack of clothes, somehow that piece of clothing that you had so much fun designing speaks to her; she responds to it and buys it. I believe you can actually transfer that energy to material things as you’re creating them.

  • Donald Trump

Mitt – what I speak to Mitt Romney about is jobs. What I speak to Mitt Romney about is China, because he’s got a great view on China and how they’re trying to destroy our country by taking our jobs and making our product and manipulating their currency, so that it makes it almost impossible for our companies to compete.

  • Robert Kiyosaki

Most businesses think that product is the most important thing, but without great leadership, mission and a team that deliver results at a high level, even the best product won’t make a company successful.

  • Boone Pickens

I don’t go cheap on anything, but I’m not a shopper. If I want something, I look at it, decide what it is, but it will usually be the best product. I’ve got a pair of loafers that I still wear that I got in 1957.

  • Tm Cook

Price is rarely the most important thing. A cheap product might sell some units. Somebody gets it home and they feel great when they pay the money, but then they get it home and use it and the joy is gone.

  • Cary Grant

We have our factory, which is called a stage. We make a product, we color it, we title it and we ship it out in cans.

Easiest Way to Seal a Sales Deal

Easiest Way to Seal a Sales Deal

A sale is a process that takes one closer to the next step until you cross the line marked red. And that is when you complete a sale. Until then it is a dance between the prospect and the Sales Professional. So what are the steps involved in making the final sale? How does Sales Professional figure when to move on to the next step? Here we give you some commonly required steps that would ensure that you get a reasonably good chance of making the final sale.

Qualify your prospects

In sales, it is essential to moderate the customers because it can save you an enormous amount of time. Qualifying the prospects is best explained using the acronym ADD where A stands for Affordability, the first D stands for Desire, and the second D stands for Decision-maker. Regarding affordability, the question we need to ask is can this prospect afford our product. Secondly, does this prospect have enough desire and be motivated to buy our product. And finally, are we talking to the decision-maker or does somebody else make the decisions for the candidate on their behalf in which case we need to ensure that the concerned decision-maker attends the sales meeting.

Qualify your prospects

Entice through convincing

Once you have recognized the decision-maker and had an opportunity to lay down the basics, it is time to entice them with perks. These perks would make their decision-making that much easier. They are a free offering to go along with the final sale that is complementary to the product, absolutely easy payment terms, and a test sampling of the product. It may look like hand-holding the prospects, but that is precisely the objective. The onus is on the Professionals to convince them enough to make the sale.

Entice through convincing

Commitment in Action

Having made the prospects sample the product, the next thing to do is get them to take some action. The act serves as psychological commitment and is a clear indication that they are willing to possess the product. Willingness to own the product helps accelerate the sales process to a great extent.  Without writing down the desire to own the product, it is just a dream. When they have put it in black and white, in this case filling out and signing a form, it triggers off a chain of events that make the dream come to fruition.

Commitment in Action

Follow-up for payments

Payments are a crucial part of sales. People have a tendency to delay payments. Sales have a role to play in pushing the prospects to make payments as fast as possible. One way is to ask them to make a partial deposit to secure the booking. The other way is to make it easy for them to make the payments. Payment follow-up is like conveying a message. And for a message sent to be effective, it has to be transmitted at least three times in different formats – Conversation, Email, and Reminder.

Follow-up payments

Eliminate buyers remorse

The sale is not complete until the refund period expires. After the sale, there is a certain grace period within which time the customer is entitled to claim for a refund. It is because once the product is in the hands of the client, buyers’ remorse kicks in and they start doubting as to whether the purchase was necessary or not. Sales people should try and understand the reason behind the guilt and try to alleviate it. Invite them for cocktails, having a conversation or simply asking for referrals can do the trick.

Eliminate buyers' remorse

Early Guerrilla Marketing Tactics of Salesforce.com

Early Guerrilla Marketing Tactics of Salesforce.com

Salesforce.com employed guerrilla marketing tactics early on. Budding entrepreneurs all over the world have elegant and innovative ideas. However, they struggle with the obstacles they face in their journey to turn their business into a commercial success. Worse still, each one thinks that they are alone in their fights. However, every entrepreneur goes through the same pain points. The story of Salesforce.com provides some valuable lessons that start-ups can learn. Although they are practical, it requires a mindset that embraces a radical approach to doing business. It that departs sharply from the more traditional one. Study them carefully and customize it for your businesses.

Stand out with a purpose

In 2000, at the salesforce.com launch party in San Francisco at the Regency Theatre, what stood out was the theme about waging war against the traditional way of delivering software services. They turned the lowest level of the theater into an inferno with actors locked up inside cages playing captured and frustrated enterprise salespeople. They were screaming, “Help, get me out,” “Sign this million-dollar license agreement. I need to make my quota!” etc. After the more than fifteen hundred attendees had worked their way through this hell, they went to the top floor. The place represented heaven where there was music, light and finally salesforce.com. There they obtain Nirvana.

The End of Software Campaign was the name of the party. On the morning of that day at the Siebel User Group Conference at the Moscone Center Salesforce.com sent hired actors. Their job was to pretend to be TV crew from a local station. They also sent protestors to picket the conference. Every person who went into the meeting were given an invitation to the salesforce.com launch party that night. Although the police arrived immediately, their presence only fanned the flames as the protestors were there legally.

PR Week recognized this End of Software Campaign as the “Hi-Tech Campaign of the Year”. Within two weeks around one thousand organizations signed up for the service. By daring to be different than the conventional way salesforce.com was able to get the much-needed press coverage at nil cost and reach out to the target market which was the end-users rather than the business enterprises and large corporations.

Aim for potential end users

Salesforce’s City Tour Program built Street Teams that got customers selling for the company on a local level. Each City Tour stop had a keynote address. Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, spoke at each event followed by a live demo. There was also some time dedicated for questions.

In every City, the customers were eager to share their stories about their experiences using the software. This City Tour frenzy morphed into a movement. Salesforce.com contacted end-users in advance of the events, and most were eager to participate. Salesforce.com started to post blown up pictures of their customers at events and other marketing materials. Their companies acknowledged these employees’ success since it contributed immensely to the bottom line and they climbed the corporate ladder faster than otherwise would have been possible. Ads started appearing on job sites and soon “implementing salesforce.com” became a differentiating skill that set the candidates apart. It became a skill that employers sought out highly in sales professionals.

Salesforce.com evolves through a process called “intelligent reaction” – a process that involves making minor upgrades every week and constant releases incorporating real-time feedback from the end-users. The phenomenon, as they put it, means going where the business takes them rather than predicting the future trends without any inputs from the customers. It is, in essence, engaging the end-user as an active participant in the evolution of the company. In their early growth, salesforce.com built an online community through forums, blogs and chat sessions that have been emulated by many other companies since then.

Vulture and not venture capital

Raising money at the initial stage of the business evolution was no easy task for salesforce.com. It was an uphill battle. During the frothy dot-com era, Salesforce turned to the venture capitalists (VC) with their cold pitch for investment. When VC after VC turned them down, they turned to the age-old adage of 3F – friends, family, and fools – in other words, vulture-capitalists to raise capital for their start-up. This alternative financing model turned out to be a winning funding strategy that brought the investors exceptional returns in a short time. Subsequently, it attracted a steady stream of potential investors within a very short period. And the VCs regretted their decision not to believe in the company.

The journey of Salesforce thus began with a purpose to do enterprise software differently. By taking advantage of the enormous opportunities of the Internet in an industry known as Cloud Computing that was growing leaps and bounds at that time, Salesforce.com was able to deliver enterprise applications cheaply through a website. It started off in 1999 in a small rented apartment with three developers and a few computers. Ten years later the company morphed into a $1 billion company with a few thousand employees. Salesforce not only managed to survive the dot-com crash of 2001 but also grew to become the world’s largest growing software company in less than a decade.

Lessons for startups

The End of Software type of launch party may not be a possible thing for every start-up company due to many restrictions. Friends and family may not believe in and invest in a concept that resides just in the head of an aspiring business person. But the implication is that by leveraging a guerilla tactic and bringing on board well-wishers an entrepreneur with a can-do-attitude can take the company to soaring heights. The idea is not to copy and paste the ideas illustrated here but to borrow ideas and adapt them with some modifications depending on the nature of the business, the local culture and the needs of the end-users. Uniqueness within the norm is of the essence here.

Photo Credit: Daria Nepriakhina

Developing Business and Managing Sales: It is a Nightmare

Developing Business and Managing Sales: It is a Nightmare

The vexing question of every Sales Manager and Business Development Manager who is newly appointed is this: “What am I supposed to do and not do”?

Managing sales and developing business at the same time can be a nightmare for a large organization. Each role is a humungous task in itself. Combining the both together and expecting one person to handle both is not only practically difficult but also inefficient. Small business owners may not agree to this as more often than not they have just one person who wears both these hats, and they find it cost-efficient too. That may work out initially for a start-up or a mom and pop store, but in the long run, when the business grows to attain maximum scalability the firm must segregate the two tasks and appoint a Sales Manager as well as a Business Development Manager to perform two different kinds of jobs. Often the difficulty in doing so arises because of the ambiguity in the roles played by both employees who hold different titles. Business owners and managers themselves are confused as to what they are supposed to do.

The roles that are unique to a Business Development Manager are the following:

  • Building the right product-market mix
  • Determining whether the product meets the need of the client
  • Expanding the reach of the goods to increase revenue
  • Recommending timely adjustments to products
  • Improving products to fill customer requirements
  • Informing clients about new developments in the products
  • Dealing with prospects unsatisfied with the products
  • Responding to negative press about the products
  • Pitching goods and services in new market segments
  • Studying the competitive landscape in the industry
  • Forming strategic partnerships with other businesses
  • Segmenting the target customer market
  • Prioritizing market segments or key accounts
  • Identifying various routes to market
  • Creating strategies to expand company’s current markets
  • Researching markets to find new ones
  • Planning and overseeing new market initiatives
  • Attending conferences, meetings, and industry events
  • Researching companies to hunt leads
  • Exploring, prospecting, and qualifying leads
  • Researching who makes decisions about purchasing
  • Determining whether a lead is ready to buy
  • Bringing in enough qualified leads to generate business
  • Attracting customers to the front door of the building
  • Maintaining fruitful relationships with existing customers
  • Contacting potential customers to establish rapport
  • Investigating if the price matches the ideal buyer’s affordability
  • Negotiating prices with manufacturers and distributors
  • Developing quotes and proposals to new partners
  • Identifying new opportunities and methods for sales campaigns
  • Generating demand and maximizing sales
  • Writing reports and providing feedback to upper management
  • Creating high-level vision and developing relevant strategies
  • Understanding the fundamental drivers of the business
  • Making wise decisions in pursuit of long-term value
  • Determining when and where to scale the business
  • Gathering data to validate paths to achieve business goals
  • Identifying and executing new areas of business
  • Weighing how changes affect the entire company
  • Identifying signals that promise greater opportunity
  • Assessing trade-offs between opportunities vs. risks
  • Generating new channels to reach customers
  • Producing long-term growth and profitability
  • Planning operations and strategic marketing with top executives
  • Coordinating with departments for new account setups

The roles that are explicit to a Sales Manager are the following:

  • Demonstrating the product features
  • Overseeing the distribution of products
  • Maintaining appropriate inventory levels
  • Gauging customer’s product preferences
  • Monitoring market trends to tweak sales efforts
  • Weighing how changes affect sales territories
  • Taking deals across the finish lines
  • Selling the product to the identified customer
  • Convincing customer to go from the door to cash register
  • Up-selling and cross-selling to existing clients
  • Offering post-purchase service and support
  • Resolving customer complaints regarding sales and service
  • Optimizing existing channel to reach more customers
  • Selling to customers in new territories
  • Explaining price breakdowns to prospective customers
  • Informing payment terms to end-users
  • Developing pricing schedules and rates
  • Developing promotional ideas and materials
  • Determining discounts and special pricing plans
  • Tracking sales team metrics and reporting to leadership
  • Implementing sales plans based on company policies
  • Developing sales strategy to achieve organizational goals
  • Preparing and approving budgets and expenditures
  • Coordinating and monitoring online sales activities
  • Meeting business revenue targets
  • Focusing exclusively on driving revenue
  • Following up on business leads on a regular basis
  • Investigating lost sales and customer accounts
  • Tracking, interpreting and collating sales figures
  • Maintaining data and records for future reference
  • Formulating sales policies and procedures
  • Executing and measuring sales plan
  • Hiring, training and leading sales professionals
  • Managing team of sales staff and assign territories
  • Developing field sales action plans
  • Collaborating with IT to improve the sales technology
  • Developing direct sales techniques for the sales force
  • Creating incentives for representatives
  • Generating ideas for sales motivational initiatives
  • Executing measures when performance deviates
  • Advising representatives on ways to improve performance
  • Demonstrating excellent team-building skills
  • Transforming sales team into a high-performing one
  • Determining ways to streamline and improve the sales process
  • Keeping up to date with products and competitors

Business Development Manager is responsible for creating long-term value for the business while a Sales Manager is supposed to maximize sales. A good analogy is thus: A Business Development Manager gets the customer to the door, and a Sales Manager takes the customer from the door to the cash register. A Business Development Manager who is busy looking over the competitive landscape to spot trends and opportunities does not have time to service the clients. It is the job of the Sales Manager to take care of the prospect. Hence the separation between the two roles.
Photo Credit: Olu Eletu

Return on Involvement (“the Other ROI”)

Return on Involvement (“the Other ROI”)

Imagine this conversation between two shoppers at a car dealership:

Consumer #1:   I want the one I read about in the latest issue of Car and Driver magazine: It has a six-cylinder turbo engine, a double-clutch transmission, a 90 strokebore, and 10:1 compression ratio.

Consumer #2:   I want a red one.

Involvement describes a person’s perceived relevance of the object based on their inherent needs, values, and interests.  Most marketers and salespeople grapple with the challenge of finding ways to get their customers interested in what they sell.  Indeed, a highly involved customer is The Holy Grail of Marketing.

Why is this so?

Our motivation to attain a goal increases our desire to acquire the products or services that we believe will satisfy it. However, as we see in the case of Consumer #2 at the car dealership, not everyone is motivated to the same extent. Involvement reflects our level of motivation to process information about a product or service we believe will help us to solve a problem or reach a goal.  Think of a person’s degree of involvement as a continuum that ranges from absolute lack of interest in a marketing stimulus at one end to obsession at the other.  Inertia  describes consumption at the low end of involvement, where we make decisions out of habit because we lack the motivation to consider alternatives.

As our involvement increases we think more about the product (“I’ve spent the last three days researching mortgage interest rates”) or we experience a strong emotional response (“I get goose bumps when I imagine what my daughter will look like in that bridal gown”).

Not surprisingly, we tend to find higher levels of involvement in product categories that demand a big investment of money (like houses) or self-esteem (like clothing) and lower levels for mundane categories like household cleaners or hardware. Still, bear in mind that virtually anything can qualify as highly involving to some people—just ask a “tool guy” to talk about his passion for hammers or plumbing supplies.

Cult products such as Apple, Hydrox, Harley-Davidson, Jones Soda, Chick-Fil-A, Manolo Blahnik designer shoes (think Carrie on Sex and the City), and the Boston Red Sox—command fierce consumer loyalty, devotion, and maybe even worship by consumers. A large majority of consumers agree that they are willing to pay more for a brand when they feel a personal connection to the company.

In our 24/7 world where consumers are bombarded with marketing messages, selling involvement is harder than ever.  But, it’s well worth the effort to explore strategies to boost customers’ motivation to acquire a product, service or specific brand.  This requires investment of time, money, — and especially creativity.  But the payoff is well worth it – this is what we can think of as Return on Involvement (“the other ROI”).

Join us for a one-hour webinar on May 11, 2017 and learn more about “the other ROI” with Michael Solomon.

Michael R. Solomon, Ph.D.
Photo Credit: Meghan Duthu