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More success stories from the employee engagement archives

It’s not difficult to make the case that the ongoing financial mess on Wall Street and TARP payments to some of the country’s biggest banks have victimized smaller firms. One victim is the investment management industry. A big challenge becomes being able to assure clients they can continue to trust them with their money.

As we have emphasized in previous blogs, having a workplace that engenders a culture of respect, engagement, trust, and fairness will aid in empowering your organization to keep clients. And how do you do that?

By inspiring your most valuable asset—your employees. When individual employees feel a part of the whole, they will invest more of their efforts on your customer’s behalf. And your customers will respond positively. Often a customer’s only perception of your business comes from their interaction with your employees. That presents a wonderful opportunity for you to become remembered as the deliverer of a great brand experience. The perception of being a caring organization will resonate well within the marketplace.

The employee factor is a powerful asset you already have that can offset market conditions. So ask yourself—what is your client’s perception of your company? Is their interaction with your organization conducive to them staying? Is your customer’s recollection of their entire experience with you, at all touch points, a good one? Is your organization still cautious about implementing an employee recognition and rewards program? Do these programs really work? Here are some success stories guaranteed to reassure you of the value of employee interaction.

Companies that have embraced the power of engagement

Topics: Communication Employee Engagement Employee Retention Employee Recognition Peer to peer recognition Performance performance improvement solutions

How to hire and retain a sales champion

Behind every company’s increase in market share there is at least one sales champion. They’re people who understand human needs, communicate clearly, and know how to gain a buyer’s trust. Some sales champions have gone on to become very successful business owners and teachers. Great sales people are made. Anyone can become successful in selling. All it takes is the right training. Right? Maybe—but it’s not as simple as that. To make it in sales (or anything else), you must bring a big desire and a clear reason for wanting to become a salesperson.

Unfortunately, employers often overlook these inner ingredients during the hiring process. Many sales managers still make the mistake of hiring a salesperson because they were swayed largely by their resume, looks, dress, and talk. They believe this is all that is necessary to mold them into a grand producer. With just a little training, you can send them off to conquer the marketplace. When minimum emphasis is placed on what’s behind the nice suit and smooth talk, you will shoot yourself in the foot. The interview process should be your opportunity to get a holistic picture before signing them on.

How can you use the interviewing process to better know if the person sitting across from you has those inner traits necessary to make a good candidate? If great sales people are made, this does not override your responsibility as a manager to conduct a thorough and complete interview. Lacking certain basic intrinsic ingredients will guarantee that your potential sales rockstar will fail and quit soon after. And turnover is time-consuming and costly for your company.

Advances in communication and social media technology can give your sales team incredible access to analytics on your prospect’s behavior, interests, and needs. It’s useful information that can result in creating different sales strategies—strategies that can even produce higher conversion rates. However, relying mostly on analytics as your assurance to close a sale or keep a customer loyal is a trap.  

The art of selling is simple but demands superlative care and persistence. Selling is very rewarding and profitable but it’s hard work. Speak with any experienced, successful salesperson and they will tell you that without these “internal” qualities, disappointments and failures will end your career quickly. Sales success requires a deeper motivation. Sales training then becomes easier and more effective because your student brings the right stuff and willingly embraces knowledge and personal growth. Start with identifying your student’s desire level and go from there.

How can you find out if your applicant is the one you’re looking for? How can you save time during the interview process and make the right hiring decision? What are the best sales training methods? How can you retain your sales champion once you've found them?

Topics: Loyalty Employee Engagement Sales Performance Performance employee training Sales Recognition Reward Taico Incentive Services

Why listening to employee ideas will boost growth and profits.

San Mateo Times September 15th 1955 page 2:  "Ray A. Hammerstrom, a roller at the Pittsburgh factory of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation, had an idea worth 15,000 dollars. Events leading up to his happy dream began in the summer of 1953 when a new 10-inch bar mill was installed at the works. The switch that controlled the delivery of the straight bars to the cooling bed were not functioning. Company engineers couldn't find a solution. Hammerstrom made some rough sketches for a new design with no success. That was until one afternoon when he took a cat nap. His visionary catnap revealed the solution and won him a check for 15,000 dollars, the largest award the firm ever made to an employee for an idea."

Fact is, whatever amount Jones and Laughlin paid out to Hammerstrom, the return they received for his idea was infinitely higher. Jones and Laughlin knew they would be paid back in spades. But, in spite of the huge benefits implementing employee ideas, few organizations invite their input. History is replete with examples where new products, innovations and ways to improve the organization began with an employee idea.

Consider why it makes big time sense to encourage and reward employee ideas. How can it improve workforce engagement and product innovation? Why is listening to employee ideas a smart management practice?

Bringing in the collective wisdom for the greater good is wise because it promises to produce great ideas and increased benefits for your entire organization.

Here are some examples and what you can do to boost your profits with employee ideas.

Topics: Communication Employee Engagement Employee Retention Employee Recognition Sales Performance Performance Taico Incentive Services Retention

Customer Loyalty. How to get some.

Losing a customer remains at the top of an organization's nemesis. Gaining a new customer on one hand but watching an existing customer leave you is like pouring fine wine in a glass with no bottom. Depending on the industry you are in, it takes big money and time to win a customer. Do you know what its costing you? Lets face it, keeping a customer is less expensive than finding one. Research by business consultants firm The Brookeside Group and the author of "Great or Poor" Guy Arnold, conclude that companies can boost profits by as much as 85 percent by focusing on why clients stay with you. Customer loyalty can also have the same impact as reducing operating costs by as much as 10 percent. American Express weighs in with their findings. "Consumers are willing to pay an average of 36 per cent more for a decent pub meal if the service, food and atmosphere are of a high standard." Unfortunately many larger organizations still put their bucks into huge sales and marketing initiatives but cut back, to their peril, on customer service analysis and training of employees.
When it comes to boosting customer loyalty, bigger companies don't always know better. 
The good news is that you can dramatically improve your own customer loyalty by understanding the impact your workplace culture has on customer retention.
Here we will map out some simple observations to put you on the right course toward employee engagement and customers remaining on board.

Topics: Communication Loyalty Employee Engagement Loyalty Programs Sales Performance wellness programs Performance employee training Social Engagment Tools

How to be a sales champion!

Author, editor and super salesman “Og” Mandino tells his story this way. "December 12, 1923 was my birthday, born Augustine Mandino. The nickname "Og" came via my paternal grandfather. I always loved reading and writing and became my high school paper's editor. My main influence, of all people, was my dear mother who always instilled in me the idea that I would be a great writer. Her inspiration led me to go for my dream of attending the University of Missouri's journalism school. That's when my life took an unexpected, very dark turn. As I was ready to enter college in 1940, my mother died suddenly, right in front of me, from a massive heart attack as she was preparing my lunch. Completely crushed, I literally lost all desire to go on. I managed to find some work in a paper factory until 1942. Then I joined the United States Army Air Corps where I became a military officer and a bombardier. I flew about thirty bombing missions over Germany on board a B-24 Liberator during World War II.  My fellow pilot was movie star, James Stewart. After the military the only work I could find was as an insurance salesman. I got married and went on the road. My life consisted of unsuccessful, lonely days and nights, traveling. Most of my time consisted of sitting in bars and drinking more and more. I became such a desperate alcoholic that I couldn't keep my job anymore. My first wife and child left me. At 35, I became a wandering derelict and a hopeless alcoholic. My life consisted as never being more than a few paces ahead of bill collectors.  When I finally hit rock bottom, one cold wintry November morning in Cleveland, I was ready to take my life. A local pawn shop had a pistol in the window for sale. I was ready to go in with my last 30 dollars and end it all".
How did Og Mandino miraculously turn his life around and become a super successful salesman and author?  His bestselling book, The Greatest Salesman in the World continues to be a worldwide top seller. His books have sold over 50 million copies and have been translated into over twenty-five different languages.

Og never did end up going into that pawn shop. Instead he drifted into a local library in Concord, New Hampshire. He began sifting through authors such as Emmett Fox, W. Clement Stone, Napoleon Hill. He took up reading hundreds of books that dealt with success. He credits these authors with rescuing him from total failure. His alcoholism also gradually left him.
Og Mandino took the principles, the skills, the attitudes he learned from his great library instructors and tested them in his own life. In a short time he became a super salesman, national speaker, executive editor of a national magazine and author of his own best seller, The Greatest Salesman in the World. This book has been translated into over twenty-five different languages. He took up golf, track and field events and re-married. His loving, new wife Bette turned out to be his greatest supporter. Before his passing in 1996 Og Mandino was inducted into National Speakers Association Hall of Fame.

The Greatest Salesman in the World reveals the very principles Og used to become a success. This book provides the time-tested wisdom of the ancients distilled into ten simple scrolls. Emphasis is placed on the deeper or subconscious mind and our ability to indeed influence it to boost our vigor, enthusiasm, happiness, desire and overcoming fear. Qualities Mandino suggests are vital to lifting us from failure to success.
In short, the story of his book takes place during the time of Christ. It is about Hafid, a poor camel boy who achieves a life of abundance. What Hafid learns from the Scrolls becomes his guide to success and his understanding of the philosophy of salesmanship.

Many salespeople owe their success to following the philosophy and principles laid down in Mandino's work. I am one of them. There are laws that govern sales success. I would like to share with you Mandino's 10 Scrolls and my personal commentary on each of them.

Scroll I - Today I begin a new life.
In short, yesterday is gone. As sales people we often grapple with the emotional attachment to the past. This attitude negatively affects our ability to command our future. Also difficult for many of us to accept, is that we are miracles and deserve to direct our lives with confidence. The laws of success are not new. It is simply a matter of allowing ourselves to be guided by them. 
Scroll II - I will greet this day with love in my heart.
Often not an easy task. As many of us already know, what is simple isn't always easy. One idea I learned from my mentor is to find a list of things in my life I am sincerely grateful for. This simple approach has raised my attitude and empowered me to go forward. Bringing a sense of love to my interactions with others creates an atmosphere of friendliness and communication. Great for sales success.
Scroll III - I will persist until I succeed.
Being able to maintain action regardless of our feelings is the key. We can learn how to press on even when we feel like quitting. One way is to continue to focus on what inspires us to succeed. Many times working on a worthy goal my motivation will wax and wane like waves hitting the shore. Sometimes I'll feel motivated, sometimes I don’t. An open secret is that my success is tied to persistent action because I continue to accumulate results. Through persistence the results I experience become in itself motivating to go on.

Scroll IV - I am nature's greatest miracle.
Perhaps one of the hardest ideas to accept about ourselves. I used to feel uncomfortable to look in the mirror and acknowledge that I am a one of a kind miracle of life. A miracle indeed because, as with no other species, I can choose the thoughts I entertain, choose how I act or react and choose how I live my life. That's power!  My discomfort with this truth was based on my early programming which said that this miracle attitude was egotistical. Perhaps I was just one of those subdued ego types pretending to be oh so humble.
Scroll V - I will live this day as if it is my last.
If today was my last day how would I choose to live? Maybe looking at how we would we go about doing the things we have to do today if it was our last day to live.  Certainly we might bring more intention and intensity to our activities. Throughout history the great sages have affirmed that yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery but today is the gift. Learning more and more how to live in the present. The present is where we make our choices that affect our future. Empower yourself by becoming a student of the present moment. Each day becomes a fresh start and is freeing and powerful.

Scroll VI - Today I will be master of my emotions.
Without a doubt a life long seminar. How many of us have been in situations where our emotions get the best of us?  Some of us end up paying through physical health problems, relationship conflict, or overall poor decision making.
You don't strive to eliminate emotions. Emotional states are essential to our life. Much has been written about cultivating emotional intelligence as a way to succeed in sales. A skill that can be mastered. Harnessing emotions more productively is a skill that can be mastered.
Aristotle is quoted as saying: “Anyone can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not within everyone’s power and that is not easy.”
Some tips to emotional control can include, feeling your emotions physically. What happens to you?
Be aware of your triggers. What pushes your buttons? What people, places, or events tend to trigger distressing emotions?
Bring into your lifestyle things that give you peace of mind.
Scroll VII - I will laugh at the world and keep perspective.
In other words those situations and circumstance that appear contrary to your success ideal and picture should be looked at with a laugh. As you become master of your emotions you will be amazed at your ability to laugh off the disruptive or disappointing events in your life.
Scroll VIII - Today I will multiply my value a hundredfold.
Some helpful affirmations from Og Mandino.
I will not let my life be ground under rocks of failure and despair to be broken open and devoured by the will of others.
Today I will multiply my value a hundredfold.
My failures, my despairs, my ignorance and my inabilities are the darkness in which I have been planted in order to ripen.
I sprout and blossom only when I am nurtured with rain and sun and warm winds. I too must nurture my body and mind to fulfill my dreams.
I will set goals for the day, the week, the month, the year and my life. I must have objectives before my life will crystallize.
I may stumble often before reaching my goals. If I stumble I will rise and my falls will not concern me for all men must stumble often to reach the hearth. I will climb today’s mountain to the utmost of my ability yet tomorrow I will climb higher.
To surpass the deeds of others is unimportant, to surpass my own deeds is all.
I will be as my own prophet and though all may laugh at my utterances they will hear my plans, they will know my dreams, and thus there will be no escape for me until my words become accomplished deeds. I will do the work that a failure will not do.
Yet, never will I proclaim my accomplishments.
Let the world instead, approach me with praise and may I have the wisdom to receive it in humility.
Scroll IX - I will act now, I will act now, I will act now.
Whatever I can begin now, I will begin it!

Scroll X - I will pray for guidance.
A profound metaphysical truth. Throughout history, students of success acknowledge the existence of a powerhouse within ourselves, yet greater than our understanding.  Prayer can be that silent inner focus that connects us to this powerhouse to obtain guidance.

Tips on becoming a sales champion.

1. Find out what your customer really wants and why they want it. Understand that people buy "things" as a means to an end.

2. Be an expert in your field. Know everything there is to know about your product.
3. Once you have determined the best solution for your customer, link the product to their motivation for buying, and put it in their language.
4. If needing to overcome your customers' objections, use logical explanation, as a means to justify their emotional motivation.   
5. Ask for the sale. This is the most overlooked and most forgotten step, probably because a lot of sales people don't have the confidence in their ability to help their customers that they really need to have in order to help their customer.

6. After they give you the yes on the sale, ask them about all the add-ons to up your total ticket, and for their convenience.

7. Follow up. If you really want to be a great salesman. Go the extra mile. Remember, or write down the names and contact info of your customers, and follow up with them to make sure they are 100% happy with their purchase. This is how you turn customers into raving fans.

Topics: Communication Sales Performance Performance Sales

Stress is drowning your hospital personnel! Here's how to get air!

“We know from speaking to our members who work at our hospital that morale is suffering and stress levels are on the rise. We are fearful for what the future holds for patients, for our nurses and health care workers. We know our members want to be able to provide patients with the compassionate care they deserve." says Glen Turp Director Royal College of Nursing Yorkshire. According to the US Dept of Labor, stress levels among hospital workers are indeed on the rise. Big time. The destructive effects of stressed out, burnt out hospital employees can hurt everybody. Maybe you're one of its victims. However, if you have been living life on this planet, the idea of experiencing a completely stress free lifestyle is ridiculous, impossible and even unhealthy. Knowing when healthy stress levels move to unhealthy ones is key. Building a workplace culture that engages, motivates and recognizes your nurses, facilitators, staff physicians and other personnel for their contribution brings happier employees.  Its no secret that creating a happier staff creates happier patients. Adding recognition impacts the individual to contribute to morale, quality of care, industry reputation and your bottom line. Here are some ideas that will help you and your organization breath easier again.  
I remember jogging along a beautiful wooded area in upstate New York last summer.  Then some days later I began to experience chills, shakes and headaches. During one highway drive down a crowded, busy lane, I found out I couldn't steer my car. I had lost muscle control of my arms and legs. My close friends, John and Ellen came and rushed me to the emergency room.  My diagnosis? Lyme disease. I am very grateful to everyone who made themselves available to me throughout my recovery. That's the power of recognition. The doctor said I would be out of commission for a while. His orders included no appointments or plans for two weeks, minimum.  No business, no clients. I was naturally anxious. The hospital personnel at Henry Hudson Hospital were upbeat, attentive and supportive. They made me feel I was in goods hands. I followed their protocol. I exercised, changed my diet, got quiet and got well. I deeply thanked them all and told them I hope they're getting bunches of recognition and rewards. Maybe. That's the power of recognition and my practicing healthy stress. The stress of making healthy changes actually boosted my immune system.

Topics: employees retaining your valued employees Communication CFO Performance

Employees Unmasked! How to spot the great ones from the not so great.

Topics: employees Rewards Incentives CFO Performance Sales Recognition

How to plant wellness instantly into your workplace.

When Susan came back from lunch she complained of something in the office air that was making her feel nauseous. She needed to leave and was unable to return for the rest of the week. Her absence would prove costly to her organization as their head customer service representative. Customers would ask for her and she wasn't there. It hurt business. Not an uncommon scenario. For some of us, things like indoor odors, car exhaust, pollutants or second hand smoke are easily tolerated. Some of us can even dance our way through a high risk chemical factory with no after affects. I recall having a neighbor who smoked a pack of non filtered cigarettes every day for over 60 years. He passed away not from smoking but from a broken heart after losing his wife. But those of us who are hypersensitive?  Chemicals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs)  can actually become a life threatening issue.
There are different degrees of tolerability to pollutants because we all have a unique physical body and a unique metabolism. Then there's Sick Building Syndrome, a huge issue. The World Health Organization reported in 1984 that "up to 30% of new and remodeled buildings were causing health hazards for employees."
Here's a simple, natural, cost effective way to improve your office environment wellness level. The answer will surprise you!

Topics: Communication Employee Engagement wellness programs Performance Rewards and Recognition

Wellness is the buzz! What you need to know.

Green shakes and salads for breakfast, Pilates, yoga, salsa dancing, spin classes, pumping iron, veggies, zumba, swimming, kickboxing, stress management, jogger's high, aroma therapy, deep breathing, meditation.
Today's compulsive preoccupation with health reflects the more than 2 billion dollars a year we spend on gym memberships alone. Businesses across the nation are spending as much as 416 dollars per employee on wellness programs.
But all is not the picture of health and wellbeing.

Topics: Communication Employee Recognition wellness programs Performance Recognition Social Engagment Tools

FAQ#2 What is the best employee, incentive, engagement strategy?

Once you and your incentive planners have narrowed down the performance criteria areas you want to improve on, its time to strategize the implementation of your program.
Step 1: Recognize and reward your incentive planning team for having already identified the areas that need improvement, setting your incentive goals and establishing the gauges to measure your progress.

Next, why not announce a breakfast, lunch or dinner meeting with your planning team. At this meeting review all the ideas you have so far.  Begin talks on your strategy. How do we go about implementing our performance improvement program?

Underlining your strategy discussions should be some truths to keep in mind about you and the individuals you are engaging and motivating toward improved performance. As humans we all value our ability to make our own choices. We generally make those choices based on our feelings about things and not always based on logic. This shouldn’t represent a bad or good thing but a fact of the human condition. Why do we do what we do? What causes us to help someone out, or work at a particular place, or even get out of bed on a rainy Monday morning, go to work and do an awesome job that day? What motivates us is at the heart of our actions.
Yes, there are a plethora of things that work together to help us form the choices we make. Some are so ingrained that they no longer feel like choices. We roll out of bed without seriously considering the alternative of staying there. We skip breakfast because we're not hungry, or because the clock tells us that we are already running late. Perhaps unconscious choices but choices non-the less.

Topics: Communication Loyalty Employee Engagement Employee Recognition Sales Performance Performance Employee Incentive Programs