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It’s not our job to sell, is it ? – Selling skills for operatives

“It’s not our job to sell, is it ?”

In a small or medium-sized business, the pressure is on to win new work.  The Director in charge of sales and his/her team do what they can to bring in enough at least to keep everyone busy.  The difficult job of identifying opportunities to explain how great the product or service is can be so much easier if the whole workforce is involved as well.  This session covers the basic skills people need to make optimum business use of the sense of pride in doing good work for a good company.

Learning Aims

By the end of the session, people will be able to :

  • Demonstrate a good understanding of the demands on everyone in a small business
  • Take responsibility for their own contribution to developing the business
  • Explain some tools and techniques which will prove helpful to them in taking advantage of new leads in the future
  • Take forward some ideas the group has had for generating more new business leads

For Whom

This half-day workshop is for people who have not had any selling skills training but deal with customers as part of their day-to-day job.  These may be site operatives, customer service officers or anyone who answers the phone.  It acts as a useful eye-opener in how to spot opportunities to promote the company and encourage anyone the delegates come in contact with to do business there.

Content – Selling Skills

  • The importance of everybody getting personally involved in promoting our services
  • What are we expected to sell ?  Who to ?
  • Identifying opportunities
  • A good answer to the question “What do you do ?”
  • What information we need to get from potential customers
  • The techniques for “closing the deal”
  • Features and benefits

Elmtree Garden Contractors – strategy consulting

Elmtree Garden Contractors - strategy consulting

Elmtree Garden Contractors – strategy consulting

A well-known family firm established in 1969 with a name in the Bristol area for landscaping and grounds maintenance for housebuilding and construction projects.  When I started working with them in early 2010, the founder had taken a step back from the business and his son, Paul Lynch, had assumed the position of Managing Director.  He was keen to put in place a set of properly-structured processes to manage the performance of his then 17 people, and to learn all he could to enable him to feel fully in control.

There has always been a stated commitment to Quality, Service and Reliability, and the firm was already known as one of the better employers in the sector.  What I found when I spoke to everyone who worked there was that :

  • there were very few measures and targets to back up the claims about Quality, Service and Reliability
  • people did not feel they were informed about business performance, strategy and goals
  • Paul and the foremen had had no training in team leadership, meaning they were struggling with the problem of being ‘mates’ with their operatives at times when they needed to keep an objective distance
  • people wanted the occasional chance to have a proper one-to-one chat with the boss

At our strategy consulting sessions, Paul was very positive about moving forward with my suggested improvements, and we worked together on an action plan that had to take account of the seasonal cycle of the trade.

We developed an aims and objectives document, written for the team and using a very simple version of the Balanced Scorecard, that set out what Elmtree was aiming to achieve over the longer and shorter term.  Once this was drafted and discussed with the team, everything else we did could be geared towards achieving the objectives.

I joined team meetings to support the communication of everything that was going on, including how each operative could get personally involved in generating new business leads.  This reduced the pressure on Paul to take responsibility for all sales and marketing operations.  I delivered short in-house skills workshops for foremen on motivation and team building.  I came to see Paul for strategy consulting sessions every six weeks in the winter months to help him keep on track.  I supplied guidance and templates of some 1-page forms so he could get a straightforward system of one-to-one job chats going.

When Elmtree went for Investors in People in March 2012, they achieved the award easily.  The team had spoken in glowing terms about how things had improved and the positive effect these had had on teamwork, communication and customer service.  The resulting benefit to profitability came directly from these.  At a difficult time for the sector :

  • operatives have been kept within the team instead of being laid off during the quiet winter months
  • relationships with main contractors have strengthened
  • new recruits have joined so the team has grown to 28 people
  • valuable contracts have been won and new services launched

Update :  In early 2015 Elmtree underwent their Investors in People reaccreditation.  They gained the award at Silver level, showing how markedly they have moved forward.  The assessor’s feedback highlighted particularly strong practice in :

  • planning – employee participation in the development of company objectives
  • values – regularly involving the team in discussions about what these mean in practice
  • learning and development – the quality of on-site training

Case Studies – successful business

successful business

Working to sustain successful business

I am at the service of any business or organisation that wants to grow and improve, sees the need for expert outside help and is prepared to invest in that help.

I have acted as business counsellor to the full spectrum of organisations.  From small businesses in distress to large national charities seeking to consolidate, I have a record of achievement to ensure your business success.

Looking back while writing these case studies, something struck me.  It was how many medium-sized firms there are which aren’t exactly struggling, they just want to stop firefighting, add some structure and thinking time, and prove to themselves and to the outside world what a successful business they are.

These are very short stories which I hope you will find as inspiring to read as I did to be a part of.

About Me – business consultant

Bristol business consultant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What sets me apart as a business consultant ?

Many people are afraid a business consultant will come in, start questioning the leadership, telling them what is good for them and asking awkward questions.  I listen to understand and adopt a fresh approach.  I have conversations with as many people as possible and wait until I have a complete picture before fearlessly challenging current practice.

I facilitate team events and deliver strategy and change consulting, business performance coaching, management and personal skills training and Investors In People advice.  I am also an expert practitioner for the Health and Wellbeing Award.

My main message is about the power of empathy and humility.  I have transformed the performance of dozens of organisations.  Acting as their business consultant, I get them to arrive at solutions to the people problems that come from growing teams.  I am fascinated by working cultures and want to make a positive difference by sharing my experience of how change can influence the way people behave.

Some clients ask me to act as Non-executive Director or Trustee.  This is so I can contribute to creating a culture of responsibility in which people are not bothering the owner manager with every small question.  People start to really care whether the organisation succeeds, and to assume accountability themselves.  This frees up Directors to do the jobs they are there for.

I am a member of the Employee Ownership Association.  My experience with organisational change  helps my clients achieve the shift in culture necessary for this to work as an exit planning option.

At school and university I specialised in languages; the main thrust of my professional development has been as facilitator and business consultant.  I have enjoyed successful spells in general management, training, quality, network development and customer service.

I am a qualified trainer and have been a licensed Investors In People specialist and national level Business Excellence Award assessor.

Business coaching

My clients range across a wide variety of sectors.  Current clients include a valve maufacturer in Wiltshire, a marine engineer in Weymouth, a charity for people with learning disabilities in Bristol and an engineering firm in Bristol.  Many of my client relationships have lasted over ten years.  I have over twenty years of experience with Investors in People and continuous improvement, using a large kitbag of tools and techniques to help my clients improve their business results.

I am Director of the employee owned trust at KB2 Consulting Civil and Structural Engineers.

Previous roles include managing major improvement programmes at NatWest, setting up the local service provider network at Business Link Somerset, General Manager of Excellence South West for two years of its infancy, business consultant at PES  and adviser to small businesses at Business West.

I have built up an extensive network of contacts for the sharing of learning and expertise.  My main background and passion is facilitation aimed at helping senior managers to gain insight for themselves and their people to achieve better business performance.

Righting Wrongs – complaint handling training

Turning complaints into business opportunities

However talented they are, sometimes customer service professionals find that things can inevitably go wrong.  They need a chance to stop and think through what they can do differently to provide an even better service to customers.  They need techniques for responding to people who express dissatisfaction in a way that helps both parties feel there has been a more than satisfactory resolution.  Starting with some self-awareness work, delegates will work on self control, enabling them to ease the fevered environment on the team and further improve the quality of the service they provide.  This practical complaint handling training aims to provide a supportive group ambience for agreeing and practising helpful skills.

Learning Aims

By the end of the workshop, delegates will be able to :

  • describe what needs to happen to manage personal confidence and impact successfully
  • demonstrate  relevant skills to enable them to deal with difficult situations and reduce stress for themselves and fellow team members while doing so
  • agree consistent standards for dealing with difficult people and situations
  • respond to customer complaints in a professional way that promotes a positive image of the business consistent with its brand

For Whom

This workshop provides complaint handling training for anyone who deals with customers as part of their job and has to cope with a commercial environment in which rising (and sometimes unreasonable) customer expectations are becoming the norm.  It has been created either to act as a standalone for people who find that meeting these customer expectations is becoming more stressful, or to complement any previous or existing customer care training.

Content – complaint handling training

  • Review of past experiences :  what happened, what was the result, how did we feel
  • Self awareness exercise :  boosting our own confidence
  • Managing our emotions and staying in control in stressful situations
  • Difficult situations :  defence mechanisms and barriers to a positive resolution
  • Taking the HEAT
  • Directing the conversation
  • Strategies for responding to difficult individuals and conflict
  • Providing mutual support within the team
  • Managing expectations and making it easier to keep promises
  • Practical exercise based on real scenarios
  • Strategies for responding to unreasonable requests
  • Following up in writing

The Secrets of Successful Teams – Team Skills

This interactive session allows delegates to further explore some key aspects of their role within a team. It provides an opportunity for some deeper reflection on how human beings interact with each other.  This enables delegates to decide on any changes they want to make based on real insight. In a facilitated environment, most of the learning is done by increasing self-awareness and developing empathy for others.

Learning Aims

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to :

  • explain their preferred working style and their understanding of the preferred working style of other people
  • describe the reasons why certain people within a team may get on well or not so well together
  • demonstrate some additional techniques to get the best out of themselves and every team member

For Whom

This session is designed for anyone who wishes to develop or refine the skills needed for either performing well within a team or for managing a high-performing team. It is a refreshing thought-provoker both for people who have been part of a settled team for a while and for those who have recently joined a new team.

Content – Team Skills

    • Pre-session work : Team skills self awareness questionnaire
    • Characteristics of successful and unsuccessful teams
    • Individual working styles
    • How different working styles interact
    • The success trap
    • Tactics for overcoming conflict within teams
    • Harnessing the power of team skills – strength in diversity
    • The power of positive thinking, an inspirational vision and goals
    • The real meaning of assertiveness

My ethos – business coaching

business coaching

 

My ethos is Straight Forward Thinking.  I set clear standards and measure my own performance to back up exactly what this means.

Business Coaching

In all the business coaching and training I give, I promote the idea that what really sets great leaders apart is their capacity for humility and empathy.  I try and practise what I preach.

Straight

I do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.  I am open and transparent, I keep you informed about everything that is going on, I speak plain English (if you catch me talking management gobbledygook you have my permission to have at me with a big stick) and I am mindful of your operational realities.

Forward

I support you in looking to the future with optimism.  I will get you to focus on defining clearly what it is that you want your business to achieve, and help set up simple systems with which to measure whether you are or not.  I will look at all the management information available and interpret it so you make the most of it for forward planning

Thinking

I will challenge you and I will inspire you.  With a fresh angle on how you give your people what they need to do their jobs well, you will think in new ways about your role, learn and decide for yourself what needs to change.  A meeting with me is a chance for you to stop the day-job, to take a deep breath and to reflect.  I help you gain powerful insights into how the way you do things compares to best practice.  As a result, you will take the wider view and enjoy the journey.

What I offer

Management skills – my range of services

management skills

Consultation visit – no charge

I will come to your place of business to get to know you, find out what’s going well and not so well and listen carefully to your ideas.  I set no time limit on this and I make no charge.  I then go away and prepare a crystal-clear proposal based on your requirements.  It will outline what I will do for you, how I think we can address any management skills issues appropriately and how much it will cost.  The proposal acts as a starter for ten in our further discussions.

Leaving A Business Legacy

I provide a lot of support to owner managers who wish to gradually exit from day-to-day involvement in their business and would like to see it continue as a healthy going concern.  An increasingly popular route is via employee ownership, whereby they sell the business to the employees on e.g. a ten-year loan (“deferred consideration”), which is very tax-efficient from both standpoints.  Where I come in is in educating the employees and future leaders in the commercial acumen and business skills they need to take the reins.  There are significant cultural changes that need to happen to make sure the transition works.  I facilitate these, and act as a Trustee to make sure the Directors in the new structure are accountable and that governance is sound.

More information is at http://employeeownership.co.uk/about-the-employee-ownership-association/

So, if succession planning or exit planning has been on your radar for a while and you would like a no-obligation chat to get things moving, I would love to hear from you.

Developing Your Organisation

Planning a change ?  See the need for a shake-up but want to make sure it works ?  Wondering what to do about your working culture ?  I have coached over 300 clients in thinking through what they need to do.  I’ve seen a few of them tumble into huge traps, and a great many others show how good they are.  I can share these experiences and this insight with you in review and action planning meetings either one-to-one, with senior management teams or with dedicated project teams.

Through carefully-planned workshops and events, I facilitate discussions to agree what the values of the tean are, and the practical behaviours to support these values.  I get key individuals to express their commitment to these.  Beacause the values come from the words used by the team itself, they carry a great deal more weight than the normal values statements seen on the walls of many corporate offices.

I have successfully completed major projects to overhaul appraisal systems and introduce 360 degree feedback systems.  I have adapted these methods to create simple, straightforward versions for smaller organisations.

With my experience of representative groups such as Works Councils, many clients have benefited from using me as independent facilitator when such groups meet either for the first time, when there’s a major change or when they are taking on a major cultural project.

Troubleshooting / Counselling

What a lot of my clients seem to appreciate particularly is my expertise when human relationships run into difficulties.  Key people not talking to each other, conflict in the workplace, jealousies or “silo thinking”, these are all problems I have taken on gently but fearlessly, and with positive outcomes.

Testing The Culture

If your business proclaims its quality, service, excellence or being the best, you really should have a way of proving that you are at least moving in the right direction.  To your clients and your employees, when thinking about how happy they are with you, reality is nothing; perception is everything.  Before planning any change, get an independent specialist to gain real insight into what they are really thinking.

There are many ways to test perceptions, chief among which are one-to-ones, focus groups and questionnaires.  We will agree in advance which combination of these is right for you and I will set up everything that is needed.  The output is a report which we use as the basis for your culture change programme – with management skills training likely to be high on the agenda.

I am licensed to use a great bit of survey software that produces attractive, high-impact reports that really help management to decide on how they will respond.  This puts the spotlight on the managers’ role in the process of follow-up improvements.

Team-building events and outdoor activities

outdoor activities

When you’re trying to communicate an important message to your team, there’s no substitute for a get-together where people can speak up, get to know each other better and share views.  Also, the importance of sharing a meal together is not to be underestimated.  Arranging and facilitating one of these events involves more than you might think, so get an expert in.

Let me show you what can be achieved in just one day !  I am partnering with a really top class outdoor activities provider, so if you’re after a team awayday with added value that makes a big difference, I would love to talk to you.

I am a big believer in the power of laughter and physical activity, so I have a wide range of games and exercises which always generate a big buzz.  I am expert at extracting the So What For Our Business from these when the time comes for the group to reflect on the point of these activities.  The result is that no one leaves thinking that the event was Just A Jolly.

Management skills training

people skills training

Being a leader; managing people.  Not an aspect of the job that some people relish, but it is a skill that can be developed.  The bespoke in-house learning events which I design, deliver and evaluate for you are aimed at creating a relaxed, non-threatening environment which acknowledges the experience and existing management skills of the participants.  They are based on real issues that need to be fixed in the workplace, and focused on improving effectiveness.

If you are to motivate your people, you need to understand them, and if you are to understand others, you need to understand yourself.  That is why I use a wide range of simple self-awareness questionnaires that act as eye-openers for managers to gain insight on :

  • Leadership styles
  • Working styles
  • Career motivations
  • Sources of authority
  • Belbin team roles
  • Learning styles
  • Emotional intelligence

… and more

Developing Your People

I never expect anyone to come to me to be trained.  Instead, I will listen carefully to what you need and design a series of bespoke learning workshops for you.  You can have this delivered in house, and can be confident that it will be enjoyable, as my main belief with training is that it must be based on active fun.  See my Training page for a list of topics.  I also do one-to-one coaching.

I maintain a library of learning resources which acts as a toolbox we can dip into whenever appropriate.

Health and Wellbeing

You can find a full explanation at http://lancecross.co.uk/business-performance/health-and-wellbeing/.  This is a framework/standard I am accredited to use to carry out an assessment of all the activities an organisation offers to promote health and wellbeing in its workforce.  The output is a detailed report comparing these activities to best practice.  It is very valuable in gaining insight so my clients can keep improving.

Investors in People – Gaining the Standard

This proven management framework is now recognised as a business ‘superbrand’.  15,300 organisations in the UK are accredited Investors in People with many more working with the Standard.  Whether you choose to go for the Award or not, I will act as your no-nonsense guide as you follow the management disciplines the Standard sets out, focusing relentlessly on valuable insights and measurable gains for your business.  I have a 100% record – as a result of my advice and guidance, every client has gone on to successful accreditation.

Investors in People – Maintaining the Standard

If you already have the award, you may be wondering what next ?  The answer is plenty.  Winning the award is an early stage of your journey, and I will help you decide what to do to keep up the momentum as your business continues to improve, and make sure your good practice doesn’t slip between award assessments.

Investors in People – Raising the Standard

Investors in People

There is so much more to Investors in People than the core Standard.  The ‘Your Choice’ parts of the extended framework can be really illuminating if you want to be tested at a more advanced, more stretching level.  This is a chance to gain further insight and grasp hold of the practical meaning of areas like developing values, working together, different approaches to training and setting meaningful objectives.  If you are interested in Silver, Gold or Platinum accreditation, I have had a lot of success with helping clients to achieve this.

Mid-project review – no charge

Rather than press on with a set programme which was first agreed months ago, I will check with you that what I am doing for you still meets your needs.  I recognise the need to keep talking, adapt to circumstances and to make sure the work (for example, on management skills) is going in the right direction for your business and having the desired effect.  I will discuss with you successes and difficulties you are experiencing and make any necessary changes to the programme.  I make no charge for this visit.