Got business problems or challenges at work? With his Two Cents page, Loaay Ahmed shares his expertise in strategic management consulting to help managers, employees and entrepreneurs thrive.
Q: My title is Sales Vice President and it’s not helping me get appointments or stand out with prospects. What can I suggest to HR to make it easier for me to achieve my targets?
Hiring is based on needs. If a business requires a senior technician, then a senior technician position becomes open and a senior technician is hired; simple and straightforward. As a customer you would be pleased to see a senior technician showing up at your door than just a technician because you believe you’re sent an expert who has the ability to solve your problem and that makes you feel better. But what if the company sent you an engineer instead? Now, you’re more delighted by the attention you’re receiving; and the title of an engineer sounds a lot better and much more experienced than a senior technician, doesn’t it? If you were to choose between three maintenance companies you’re most likely to choose the one with the engineer should their offerings be similar simply because the title works better for you.
In the process of most organizational structuring exercises, the impact of any given title on the customer and its effect on revenue is not considered deep enough. The answer to your problem is not to change to Business Development Director because it’s not exciting to customers. Also, Sales Consultant makes many prospects wary and not trusting. There should be clear difference between internal roles and their external titles for front desk staff. Any employee facing customers should be given a title that works for the customer, not the company. Now, let’s say you were selling network solutions; a title like IT Productivity Expert is far more interesting to prospects than Sales VP. How HR sorts this out is not the issue. What matters is making it easier to generate revenue, not harder…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: Our process to open an account for a new customer takes about 45 minutes. Many customers complain about how long it takes. We can’t shorten the steps involved but if we announce it upfront we might lose customers. How can we fix that?
When you go to a restaurant to order a pizza you expect it to be ready within 15 minutes, more or less. However, when you go to a pizzeria with an authentic pizza oven, your pizza is ready in three minutes (if they don’t have other orders of course), and that includes rolling the dough, putting the ingredients together and baking it in the wood-fired oven. Makes you want to have a pizza now doesn’t it? Go to a real pizzeria. It’s better and faster. Both restaurants have set up their kitchens to prepare and sell pizzas. Both want to be efficient and seek operational consistency. Both care about hygiene and health and safety regulations. Both succeeded in setting expectations. Both have warm, friendly and charming Italian waiters. Yet, only one of them offers a delightful customer experience.
If a company can’t meet the ideal operational setup that works best for customers, communication is key here. After fifteen minutes the customer has already invested time into the process and will hesitate to walk away. This would be a good time to walk them through the remaining steps, how long they may take, and, more importantly, what they are for. Explaining the reasons why increases customers’ understanding of the brand; it makes them feel respected and as a consequence more patient and flexible customers. Sure, you might have a negative reaction regardless, but that will be the exception. You can always surprise them with an added value at the end of the enrolment process to uplift the mood of the initial experience…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: The owner of our company is a good person but he likes to make all the decisions, which is causing delays and frustrations among staff. What’s the best way to make him more trusting and aware of the issues his style is causing?
We can easily list all problems associated with centralized management but that won’t add much to your situation. You’re experiencing it on a daily basis. However, what’s much needed here is to better understand how most business owners think and work and what’s important to them. By doing so, you can talk to them in a tone they see important and that makes you more valuable to them. Once that’s achieved, you will see a gradual change in their behavior with you. They will become more trusting, more open to your feedback, more delegating and, before you know it, less centralized. Change is difficult. As human beings we are slaves to patterns. Therefore, you need to be realistic about seeing the new and improved Business Owner 2.0 version.
Most business owners appreciate being action-oriented managers because they can see immediate change at work. Being commercially focused is by far the best quality a manager can possess. Know where the money comes from and act accordingly. While some business owners know their issues, many don’t; which means they lack the ability to analyze their own performance and be honest enough to admit shortcomings and identify areas of much needed improvement. With that glitch in mind, be sensitive to ego vs. desire to improve. They can easily get defensive – and sometimes offensive – when it comes to criticizing their ideas and challenging their decisions. This of course is an ongoing process. Things will get better with time. Hopefully, version 2.2 has less bugs…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected]. Regrettably, only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management adviser and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com.