Monthly Archives: August 2020

Your Legacy and Success

As the pandemic spreads throughout the world, it does make us begin to take stock of our present conditions and where we are headed – either personally, professionally or both. It also makes me wonder, and maybe you also, “What kind of legacy am I leaving – not only in my work life but in my private life too?”

How will you be remembered?  Just how do we measure our legacy? Is it by the success we’ve enjoyed? And if that’s the case, exactly what do we mean by success? If you gave your resignation letter today at work, how would you be remembered by your colleagues? Would they still be talking about you next week, next year, or in five years? Were you the deal-closer, the hot head, the star manager, or the person who instituted a major policy initiative? It’s easy to fall into the pattern of just going to your job, putting in 8 or more hours of work, and then coming home. And if you’re the business owner, probably putting in a lot more hours than that! Giving it our best shot is very admirable. But are we capable of even more? Are we considering what influence we have on the people around us and how we can make a difference?

Taking a long-term perspective. Everyone can build a legacy at work, we just have to decide what we want that legacy to be. Good leaders plan long term goals. They’re not racing the clock to make changes overnight. Instead, they are hard at work building ethics, integrity and honesty into the workplace. These are the leaders we choose to follow as our careers develop.

In truth, we all control our own success, our own legacy. Here are a few ideas of what you can do now, in your own work environment, to create the legacy and success you want.

  1. Take Action. Rather than wait to get past a few things that are happening around you, you can be proactive. And in the age of the pandemic, or whatever other emergency you may be experiencing, being proactive is a necessity. You can start to think creatively and with a purpose. Recognize that your boss doesn’t have all the answers. He or she needs your help to innovate and think outside the box. How can you do things differently? How can you improve a process now? If you are three steps ahead of your team, you pave the way for others to reach their goals. You make your life about something bigger than you. You can live through the positive impact you bring to others. If ever there was a time to think of others, it’s now.
  2. Make Customer Satisfaction Your Goal. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of office politics, but it’s not very fulfilling. By working to satisfy clients in the workplace – whether they are internal or external – we can derive much joy and fulfillment. It may take some creative thinking. It may mean going above and beyond normal expectations. But by satisfying the needs of others around you, you leave a legacy of caring.
  3. Encourage Others. An employee with an enthusiastic approach to her work makes a mark that sustains her professional reputation for years to come. While it’s sometimes hard to come by, especially in trying times, it’s still your choice. You can bring others up to your level or you can bring them down. If you are like most people, we want to be around other people who make us feel good – people who inspire others. Can you think of others who gave you support and encouragement in the workplace? They are the ones you are happy to have known. Who will you encourage today?
  4. Create Excellence. Have you ever noticed how one person who strives for excellence influences others? While sometimes we may just want to “check the box,” going a step further and doing our best not only brings you more satisfaction but enables others to strive further. It may mean that you have to abandon some of the things that worked for you in the past. But striving for excellence also means that you move forward and serve as a role model for others. A legacy of excellence takes effort, but is extremely rewarding.
  5. Offer a Different Perspective. A different perspective is especially important when times are tough. You have to look at things differently. You have to find other ways to accomplish things that may be beyond the ordinary. Sometimes, these new ideas bring innovation to the company. Bringing a different perspective to your work can be helpful for others in the organization. Instead of the day-to-day focus on your work, a strategy of working toward long term goals can help you frame your work differently. The daily ups and downs are less likely to affect you because you’ve built-in a realistic timeline to reach your goals. You have a workable plan that you can count on. Your perspective is a longer-term view because you look at your job not in a vacuum, but how it influences and impacts your long-term plans.

Thinking about your job in terms of the legacy you leave affects everyone around you. You don’t need to be an orator or politician to make a difference. No matter what your job, or your role within the company, you can leave a legacy. How will your colleagues remember you?

The Impact of Change

After the events of the past year, you realize that life is changing at a faster rate than ever before. Especially now, as businesses go through the pandemic, consider all the electronic devices and systems that have become integral and essential to our lives. Phone, tablet, computer, social media, digital conversations, audio and video conferences – they’ve all changed. People have had to adjust more, learn more, than ever before. Businesses that didn’t explore the digital side of communication realized the immediate need to do so now. The choice was either to get digitally savvy, or risk losing a business! At the same time, some of the ideas and habits of the past that we let go, suddenly became important again. Family time. Time to read. Time to explore the outdoors. In a matter of months, your life changed.

This drastic change affected both our personal and work life. While this change affects all of us physically and mentally, it also demonstrates for us how our work environment is also increasingly affected by change. At one time, businesses lived by “Five-Year Plans.” Not anymore. While a plan is still as important as it was in the past, we also must recognize that organizations change, and plan for change. Companies are required to be nimble. While the degree of change may vary, no doubt, change is constant.

If that’s true, how do we live in a world of constant change? How do we learn to manage change? Is it possible to keep some semblance of control within our work environment, even in these times? The answer is yes, but our mindset must take on a couple of challenges: 1) that we need to be capable of change, and 2) that we need to meet the challenge by staying effective and productive.

Working our way through change. Change happens quickly. The year of the pandemic is the perfect example. There are no longer plateaus of stability. Instead, most of us experience a continual, never-ending series of changes, and challenges. How can we work together to manage these changes that are ever present? Here are some of the guidelines we can use.

Start by being honest. Be honest with yourself and your co-workers – more change lies ahead! In truth, most people reject change – so our job is to change the mindset of those around us. Honesty helps to build trust with employees. Another way to build trust is to solicit input when considering change. Once you engage others, you have partners.

Change often leads to innovation. A certain amount of stress brought on by change is good for us because it makes us grow and learn. Change always brings opportunity. The trick is to inspire others by empowering them. Think differently. No idea is a bad one. Engaging people in change usually results in a higher adoption rate. And change is often the basis for new opportunities for employees.

Understand that there are unchartered territories. In facilitating the change process, we need to understand that everyone’s job now is to succeed in unfamiliar environments. We have to learn to live in uncertain times. As we’ve learned this past year, that might mean a new job direction, new skills or new behaviors. Showing others how to have real conversations about important issues will build trust. How do we need to change in order to address the challenges we’re having? Accepting uncertainty and moving forward is key.

Solve the right problems. If the change is going to be effective and create the desired result, we need to make sure we’re looking at the right problem. Some things are not under our control. We need to look at the problem and decide if it no longer exists, can’t be solved or isn’t the problem with the highest priority.

Change has to come from the top down. Everyone must be effectively engaged in the change process. They must invest in the change and contribute to its success. The process of involving everyone may mean more conversations, planned workshops, regular meetings and constant communication. It may take some convincing, but planned well, any change that involves everyone is more likely to “stick” and be effective.

Communicate and support. The individuals and teams leading the change process must be supported through coaching, education and facilitation. Communication must be active and planned. A healthy sense of urgency is good but being rushed will build distrust.

To succeed today, businesses need to think of their workplace as one of continuous movement. How can we work differently? How have our customers changed? Is there something we can do to make the business more enticing to our customers? The more agile we are, the more likely we will act on opportunities and grow.

Do you need help facilitating change in your organization? We’d love to work with you. Visit our website at www.baharconsulting.com, or give us a call at 240-242-3349.

Nurturing Your Prospects

If Sales is an area of your business that seems less effective than it should be, this is a good article to consider. Any sales team will be more successful if the lead nurturing process at your organization is organized and consistent. Bahar Consulting is happy to answer any questions on how to improve on your lead nurturing system.

Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel. In truth, lead nurturing should continue throughout every step of the buyer’s journey. Nurturing your prospects should focus on listening to the needs of prospects and providing the information and answers to information that will help them move forward. Here are some statistics culled from various marketing resources:

  • On average, 50% of the leads in any system are not yet ready to buy. If that’s the case, you need a way to keep them interested.
  • Almost 80% of new leads never become sales. This statistic could be discouraging, but with a consistent lead nurturing process, your sales team only talks to the 20% who DO plan on buying.
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost. There are ways to nurture leads that are automatic and not expensive. By developing a system, your sales team engages with the best prospects.
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. In the process of nurturing leads, you educate. And an educated consumer often purchases more services or higher quality products.

What do you need to develop leads? Effectively developing leads in today’s buyer-driven marketplace involves several marketing efforts: 1) Content must be relevant to the audience, 2) Multiple levels of marketing should be in place, and 3) There needs to be a process through which a contact can receive information at various stages of the buying cycle. Let’s look at these efforts in detail.

  • Content relevant to the audience. Leads nurtured with targeted content produce an increase in sales opportunities of more than 20%. When it comes to lead nurturing, focusing on specific content, designed for the prospect, can significantly improve the results of your marketing strategy. Providing targeted content is not always easy. You need to understand each of your unique buyer personas in order to provide the content they need. (Each type of prospect is another buying persona). Once the content is designed, it pays to have a marketing automation platform in place to help you identify, segment and target your unique buyer personas.
  • Multi-level marketing. Lead nurturing that works demands strategic thinking. In other words, your company has to be there when the prospect needs information. And to “be there” means that your marketing must employ multiple efforts to reach prospects. Those efforts should include a combination of marketing automation, email marketing, social media, paid retargeting (browsers get ads after they’ve visited your website), dynamic website content and direct sales outreach. Because there are so many tactics involved, to execute this properly, you really need to ensure that your sales and marketing teams are well aligned and working cohesively.
  • Process of receiving information. Effective nurturing requires multiple touches. Prospects often receive an average of 10 touches from the time they enter the sales funnel as a prospect until the time they’ve become a customer. In many cases, companies may only communicate with prospects 3-4 times, leaving sales on the table for competitive firms. Using the tools noted in the multi-level step noted above, your prospects can be touched more often, with increasingly pertinent information.

The most successful lead nurturing strategies deliver content that helps prospects progress through the buyer’s journey by addressing common questions and concerns. In addition to email tactics, consider how you can use a mix of content types like social media, blog posts, whitepapers, interactive calculators, Google ads, remarketing or even direct mail, to nurture your prospects into customers.

Sales Teams That Produce Revenue

We briefly discussed lead nurturing in a previous article, Nurturing Your Prospects.  What are other ways your sales team can produce revenue? In this article we focus on 3 ingredients that, when coordinated with each other, produce sales.

  • Timely Follow-Ups. For some reason, in this age of electronic communications, the practice of following up with prospects has all but disappeared. In reality, the odds of a lead entering the sales process and becoming a qualified prospect, are 21 times greater when contacted within five minutes, versus 30 minutes, after a lead completes a form on your website (This process is known as a “conversion”). A quick response signals attentiveness and interest. A prospect has choices. If your sales team fails to respond in a timely manner, the prospect often moves on to someone or some company that does respond quickly. It’s the perfect exemplification of the old adage: “You snooze, you lose.”

The benefits of immediate follow-up calls seem quite evident, but most organizations still aren’t acting very quickly. According to InsideSales.com, about 50% of companies respond to a conversion in 3 hours or more. Keep in mind that most buyers choose to work with the company that contacts them first. In an article in Harvard Business Review, the surprisingly slow response times of 2,240 U.S. based companies was as follows:

  • The average first response time of B2B companies to their leads was 42 hours.
  • Only 37% of companies responded to their leads within an hour.
  • 24% of companies took more than 24 hours.
  • 23% of the companies never responded at all.

In the article we mentioned above, Nurturing Your Leads, we talk about how automated lead nurturing can help you reach large groups of prospects. But even with an automated system, a timely follow-up email or a phone call is still quite often the best way to convert leads into qualified sales opportunities. The odds of converting a lead into a sales opportunity are exponentially higher when the lead is contacted immediately following a website conversion.

When you make a timely, well researched call to a lead who has converted from your website, it’s more than likely going to be far more effective than any cold calling technique you may use. The reason? You will know more about the prospect, what information he/she has been researching, and you know there is interest in your company. Armed with that information, a call from sales can be very effective.

  • The second ingredient in producing sales is a personalized email. A personal email – one that is sent from one person to another – generates up to 6 times higher revenue per email than non-personalized emails do.Email marketing continues to be the most effective tactic for lead nurturing. And research consistently shows that personalized emails tend to produce significantly better results than generic email blasts. In fact, a study by Experian® (the credit report company) indicates that personalized emails can generate up to six times higher revenue per email than non-personalized campaigns do.There are many ways you can personalize your electronically generated emails to improve your lead nurturing strategy. You can send emails that are triggered when a lead is added to a database or when the lead downloads a specific piece of content. You can even trigger an email when someone clicks on a link in your email newsletter. With this marketing power and the ability to send a personalized email, you end up delivering the right message to the right prospect at the right time!
  • Sales and Marketing Alignment. Opportunities increase when your sales and marketing teams are communicating with each other. In fact, 89% of companies with this cooperation between departments, report measurable increases in the number of sales opportunities that are generated.In order for both sales and marketing to contribute to lead nurturing, you must identify different stages in the sales process and what information the lead will need at each stage. Think about certain events that might be the triggers for information – when something is downloaded from the site, when a page is visited, when a lead subscribes to a newsletter, registers for an event, etc. The more coordinated the effort, the better the result.

Following the steps we’ve provided in this article, your sales team can produce more revenue. The next step is Managing Your Sales Pipeline. For help in getting started or for more information, contact us at 240-242-3349.

Managing Your Sales Pipeline

A sales pipeline is a way to manage the sales process we’ve described in Sales Teams That Produce Revenue.  Think about it. Your prospects make certain decisions that move them through the sales funnel, or sales pipeline. From the time your prospects initially reach out to your company, until the time they become customers, they should encounter different people and different content. So how do you manage that pipeline? This article goes through the various steps needed to manage a sales pipeline.

Why do I care about sales pipelines?

By effectively managing a sales pipeline, organizations and sales representatives are more likely to KNOW, and MEET, their goals. Knowing where your prospect falls within the pipeline, can help identify the next step you should take to close the sale. While most executives believe that their organizations are ineffective at managing their sales pipeline, taking care to go through all of the steps not only makes sales production more effective, but organizes the entire process. The truth is that managing your sales pipelines can dramatically improve closing rates and improve customer relationships. You set your team up for success.

How do you effectively manage your sales pipeline? Follow the steps below.

  • Find qualified prospects. Finding leads that are ready, willing, and able buyers is one of the core principles to ensuring that your sales process begins properly. Ask yourself whether the prospect can afford the product or service. Does the prospect really need the product? Will the prospect’s problem or pain points be resolved if the prospect purchases your product or service? The difference is a database of people who may know you but are really not prospects, or a database of true prospects who want to hear what you have to say.
  • Use a CRM system. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management system. Common systems included SalesForce.com, Zendesk Sell, Hubspot, Freshsales, and others. There are numerous CRM systems on the market today – from simple to more complex, based on your needs and budget. CRM systems track, log and manage your sales lead. The more complex the sales process, the more crucial your CRM system is to your success. Using a CRM system can help in maintaining and managing your prospects and customers. This same system can be an effective tool in managing your time.
  • Identify decision makers. These are the people who will make the decision to buy, or not to buy. Spinning your wheels with non-decision makers will not allow you to close the deal. It’s important to identify the right people who will help you close the deal. In most cases, it’s best to start with the top decision maker (e.g. speak with the CEO, CFO or COO) in the organization and work your way down through the ranks until you find the person who can make the buying decision.
  • Follow up. As mentioned in our article, Sales Teams That Produce Revenue, getting the first meeting or first call to the prospect is important to the goal of closing the sale. But unless there is a timely follow-up, that first meeting may be a waste of time. Use your CRM system to organize regular calls, emails and meetings with the prospect, if necessary.
  • Measure and analyze results. It may seem a tedious task, but by tracking your results, you can begin to see trends. And a CRM system makes it easy to analyze results. You can identify areas where more emphasis is needed. You may be able to see a pattern in how you close sales. What actions seem to produce the best results? Identify successful patterns, as well as those areas where you seem to lose the sale. By tracking your results, you may also be able to identify the types of organizations, people and/or industries with whom you are having success.

Managing your sales pipeline is not only possible, but necessary. It puts a more systematic approach to the entire sales process. Your sales team will be more successful and will enjoy more respect throughout the organization. For help in creating or managing your sales pipeline, please contact Bahar Consulting at 240-242-3349.

Tips for Hiring Employees

Work environments have changed dramatically in the last 10 years – and this year as we experience the pandemic, we’ve seen the greatest change! Formerly, companies had almost total control over the people who worked there. Employees sometimes “clocked-in” or “clocked-out” at specific times. Even if a time clock wasn’t used, the expectations were set – and routinely followed. It’s also true that in the past, employees were often hired for a specific knowledge or specific skill.

Now, neither of these scenarios are likely. No matter what industry you’re in, work now demands flexibility. We also look for employees with an adaptive nature and a broad knowledge of business in general. The right candidate for an open position must be eager, flexible and a quick learner. Finding the right person enhances your work culture. In fact, when you find the right employee, your business is more likely to accomplish goals and move forward more effectively.

So how does a company make the right hiring decision? Here are few tips to consider.

First, define the job. It sounds crazy, but companies often look for candidates without thoroughly examining the duties of the potential employee. Don’t just pull out an old job description. Instead, analyze the job thoroughly. What are the duties and responsibilities of the position? How has it changed in recent history? What is the work environment of the potential position? And how will this new employee interact within the various departments of the company? A good job analysis will reveal the need to expand or adjust the skill levels of candidates. Ask any staff company what information leads to the best hires and they’ll tell you, it’s the job description.

Use a checklist. It pays to list the qualities and skills you would like to see in the person you hope to hire. A checklist helps you and your team look realistically at viable candidates and closely track interviews. A checklist helps you determine who you should call back for a second interview. A word of caution. Sometimes the best candidate stands out because of his/her personality. When that’s the case, the check list will at least confirm the need for training to attain certain skills.

Review credentials and applications carefully. All too often, companies simply scan the application in hopes that something stands out to them. If you don’t have time, hire a consultant to screen the applications for you. It’s important to determine how each applicant stands up against the checklist you’ve created. When you do interview candidates, you want to spend your time on the most qualified ones!

Prescreen your candidates. In person interviews should be saved for the best candidates. A lot of information can be obtained in a telephone conversation. And certainly now, with Zoom, we can observe more while conducting the conversation. You can assess how comfortable the candidate is when talking to an outsider. And you can determine whether or not the candidate is focused on answering your questions. Is the candidate able to listen, synthesize the information and ask pertinent questions? A prescreening interview will tell you if the prospective employee can fit within the company’s culture.

Ask the right questions. Depending on the position that is open, your questions should consider the ability of the candidate to thrive. Is he or she a team player? Can this person work with others and help build a creative environment? How do they feel about learning new skills? The right questions can help you separate desirable candidates from average candidates.

Develop a Talent Pool. Companies with aggressive strategies need a pool of prospective employees that they can reach out to when they need extra help. Long before you have a position open, keep in contact with impressive people – people you may have interviewed for another position or people you’ve met at industry functions. Develop relationships with these candidates by taking them to lunch, or by having a conversation with them on the phone. Talk with them long before you need them. By staying in touch, you may be developing a pool of candidates that you can call on later.

Finally, the human resources department of a company can, and should, become adept at LinkedIn, Indeed, and other systems to find and nurture prospective talent.

Bahar Consulting can also work with you to identify effective talent. We help companies pinpoint areas of expertise. We can be your third-party verification when considering candidates. We collaborate with you to fill key positions.

Ten Tips for Developing Trust

Trust is one of the biggest problems or challenges that our client’s face. We often help our clients build an atmosphere of trust. It starts with improving more effective communication and putting mechanisms in place for greater accountability. Both of these actions lead to better trust among owners, management and departments.

Trust actually flows from individuals, not organizations. Everything of value is built on trust, from financial systems, to great organizations to strong relationships.  We work with our clients to achieve much higher levels of trust in a short period of time. Here is some of the information we discuss with our clients.

The Key to Success. When employees believe in the management team, they are more likely to work harder and smarter. Trust is intrinsically linked to growth. Without trust, it’s more likely your employees are being careful about their work instead of being creative. So how do you build trust in the workplace? It’s about believing in yourself, your team and communicating a message of honesty. Here are ten tips for developing an atmosphere of trust in your business.

  1. Do what you say you’re going to do. It’s about keeping your word and following through on your actions. It’s easy to undermine progress when the person in charge announces a course of action but rarely follows through. If you’re not sure you will have the time for a particular action, keep it to yourself. When you build trust, people believe in you. If you say you are going to perform a particular task, make sure you do it.
  2. Don’t act impulsively. How many times do we hear something on the news, or in conversation with others, that seems like an impulsive decision? Acting irrationally, or without thinking about the consequences, rarely works out. Leaders should be leading by example, which means thinking about your actions and any potential consequences as a result.
  3. Communicate often and effectively. It can’t be said often enough – communication is key to understanding. Keeping news to yourself only spreads doubt throughout. Tell your employees what’s going on – good or bad – and they’re more likely to respect you.
  4. Give it time. Trust doesn’t come easily. It may take weeks or months to build trust. Only when employees see consistency will they begin to trust you.
  5. Trust your own people and your network. You have to let people succeed or fail on their own. Trying to micromanage an employee only signals distrust. Instead, believe in the talents of your team. Discuss options but rely on their decision-making skills.
  6. Treat others the way you want to be treated. This may be the most successful way to build trust. Relationships grow when people are treated with respect. Your employees should be treated as well as you treat customers.
  7. Be honest. Honesty really is the best policy. It’s never a good idea to tell lies to protect or shield others. Instead, people respect forthrightness.
  8. Help people. Getting to know your staff well is important and servicing them well builds trust. Provide opportunities for improvement. Contributing to the growth of the team is not only right but helps build stronger relationships. Your willingness to help them succeed demonstrates your commitment to them.
  9. Do what’s right. Trusting yourself, your values and your beliefs is important to building trust within the organization. Doing what’s right, even when others may disagree, builds a reputation of integrity.
  10. Admit mistakes. We all make them. Admitting a mistake is important to the overall team strategy. When someone acknowledges a mistake, it’s more likely that corrections can be made, and lessons can be learned. Not admitting your mistakes encourages others to hide their own mistakes.

Reviewed individually, all of the tips above may seem easy. Putting them to work may be more difficult, but entirely worthwhile. When we develop trust in the workplace employees can be more open and more innovative, making it easier for the business to flourish. If you’d like to discuss trust issues at your organization, give us a call at 240-242-3349.

Retaining Employees: Where Did I Go Wrong?

It happens all too often. An employee who does good work for you – and one you think is happy – gives his or her notice. This is not what you wanted – to lose an employee whose knowledge and work ethic you value. Sometimes, when that happens, you learn that the employee wanted to expand their capabilities. Had you known beforehand; you could have done something about it.

How do you retain employees? Communication is key to keeping good employees. It’s all about how well you know the people who work for you. And surprisingly, keeping an employee may have little to do with salary level. Here are the methods we’ve found work best.

  1. Building positive relationships. From day one, there should be a consistent two-way conversation going on between manager and employee. And that conversation has to include face time. It can be hard in today’s world where telecommuting and remote working is the standard, but unless you can meet face-to-face, there’s often something lacking. Phone meetings can help, but they don’t seem to have the same effect as personal meetings. Instead, get comfortable with Zoom and have some face-to-face video meetings. Later, you can arrange to take the person to lunch – even if you do have to eat outside during the pandemic.
  2. Seeking reinforcement. A good two-way street includes some coaching, mentoring and brainstorming together. Seeking advice and opinions from your employees has tremendous value. They become more engaged with the project. And they feel respected. And no matter how young and inexperienced the employee is, take their suggestions seriously. They may have a valid point when it comes to the younger audience, and certainly, we can all learn!
  3. Expect good work. Valuable employees want to work. If you expect and demand good work, the people in your organization will respect you more. A client once said to me that when she was interviewing for a very good position, the HR manager told her that her potential boss was a very demanding executive. The HR manager noted that this particular boss was fair, but that his expectations demanded employees who were high performers. Rather than scaring her, my client was thrilled. She wanted to grow and stretch her capabilities. As long as the boss had a reputation of being fair, she was fine with his expectations. Good managers should be reviewing the performance of their employees on a consistent basis. Setting expectations, including metrics, helps reinforce the value of an employee.
  4. Plan for growth. Performance reviews are important. They not only help you set expectations, but add accountability measurements. And employees like reinforcement. Bahar Consulting recommends a weekly meeting with direct report employees. This weekly meeting serves as a check-in to discuss tasks, provide feedback and review the status of projects. As a result of these meetings, managers should have an understanding of the employee’s goals and aspirations. By the time the annual review comes around, managers can openly discuss long term plans, including any skills that the employee would like to gain. At this time, both parties should come to an agreement on stretch goals for each year. With regular communication, managers are more likely to build the career path for an employee that he or she envisions.
  5. Add perks. Beyond salary or bonus, think about rewarding performance in other ways. Most companies have room for perks – even if they are small. Perks can include a monthly spot award, a special benefit to a team or annual lunch celebrating anniversaries. Perks can include a gift card or an afternoon off.
  6. Ask your employees. You might be surprised at what makes an employee stay at your company. Ask them, especially long-term employees. Find out what keeps them there and use that information to reinforce those employees who you want to keep.

Hiring employees is only the start to creating a powerful workforce. Keeping them will save your company valuable time and energy searching for the right employees. And productivity levels are highest when employees are engaged in their work and enjoy the environment.

Marketing and Branding: How To Be An Effective Marketer

All companies need a marketing strategy. Whether your company is a small business with a limited budget, or a larger organization with a reputation in the marketplace, a strategy to market to your potential customers is critical. Your strategic marketing plan should effectively communicate the strengths of the company. Your audience needs information on why they should buy from you. Here are some of the steps every good marketing executive should take to develop a marketing plan that will bring in new customers.

Take the time to do the research. In order to market effectively, a good plan depends on a comprehensive understanding of the business environment. Here are four critical first steps to understanding the current economics.

1.       Spend time in the trenches. It’s only in really understanding your audience and your partners, and the circumstances around why they seek out your business, that you can develop relationships that are meaningful. If you “get” their need, you are more likely to market to them effectively.

2.       Be “All There.” Get to know the people within your own company. Find out how they feel about their customers and partners. When a leader is really present, spending time with employees and learning more about them, the relationship is more genuine. It’s the same with marketing. If you are only promoting, clients and prospects will eventually ignore you. But participating in real, one-on-one conversations, whether online or in person, creates a reputation, a true presence.

3.       Master the art of conversation and storytelling. We live in a world where people are inundated with information. You can’t just talk about services and specifications. Instead, you have to become your own audience and tell stories. Customers like to see themselves in the story. If you’ve taken the time to listen to prospects and clients, you will be able to tell a story that they understand. A little narrative, stories about what works, what doesn’t work, help to get your point across. If the content you write is not personal, you will lose the reader quickly.

4.       Showing you care. Emotion is a necessary ingredient – in leadership and marketing. If you don’t show that you care, you prevent a real, human connection from taking place. And it’s the human connection that draws your employees, customers and prospects to you. It’s the same with marketing – show that you are emotionally connected to your audience, make a connection over and over again in your communications, and your prospects are more likely to connect with you.

Competitive advantages are key. Identifying and promoting your competitive advantage is critical to your marketing and your branding. Why is your competitive advantage so important? Every business has competition. Your prospective customers have a choice. They need to know why they should bring their business to you. When there is this much competition, your prospective clients need a differentiator. And if you communicate it properly, your prospects will seek you out to work with you. One word of caution – your differentiator must be real. You can’t just say you bring better service, or your business is more knowledgeable – you have to find a differentiator that stands out.

Remember Me! Marketing seeks to remind your prospects of who you are and what your value is. If we could just get our prospects to remember us, we’d be golden. If a prospect expresses interest in your product or services, chances are they NEED you. But how long will it take them to make the decision to go forward? And when they DO make that decision, will they remember you?

Really knowing your customers – what the problem is and how you solve that problem – is the basis for branding your company. That BRAND starts with a name. If I recognize a business, I may be more loyal to that business. The brand continues with the connection the company has with its customers. Sometimes the connection is personal, but more likely it’s not. Engaging with your prospects, helping them learn about your brand through your website and social media posts is important. Branding these sites so they reflect the company, and your strategic advantage, is critical.

Your Target Audience. Most companies have more than one audience. Your marketing plan and your brand must consider your target customers. Whatever you call it – Personas, Demographics or Target Audience – knowing who your most likely customer is and how you can appeal to him or her is extremely important. Your target audience is defined by demographics, habits, interests, and a personal story. You probably have several target audiences – and each one wants to hear slightly different information from you.

Turning Prospects Into Customers. For your sales process to be successful, you must engage your prospects. (Readers may want to take a look at our article: Nurturing Your Prospects,  There are a number of ways to engage – through your website, blog, social media, email, in person and on the phone. Consistent communication is key. As the prospect moves through the sales funnel, he or she either becomes more qualified or drops out. Those who want further information are the best prospects for the sales team. For more information, see our article on Sales Teams That Produce Revenue.

Successful marketing depends on consistency. If you’re connecting with your prospects, if you are really interested in finding out what they need, your marketing will result in sales. For more information on to learn how Bahar Consulting can help you develop a strategic Marketing Plan, give us a call at 240-242-3349.

Six Keys to Successfully Managing Expectations

Whether you’re working for yourself, or supervising multiple employees, managing expectations is a priority in maintaining a healthy and thriving relationship with employees or clients. Most importantly, managing expectations is a matter of communicating thoroughly. Don’t assume that the client will know what to expect or your employee understands the steps to promotion – it’s up to you to define expectations.

Here are the six keys to managing expectations that Bahar Consulting practices when we work with organizations striving for excellence.

  1. Be Honest and Know Your Capabilities
    Before you commit to anything, it’s important to understand the capabilities of the team, or individual. Employees may often commit to a certain goal, without really thinking it through. Knowing the skill levels of the team will likely help you and others understand what is possible. Once you assess the skill level of an individual or team, you can make an educated decision on possible outcomes. Forward progress will be blocked if everyone agrees to an outcome without having the skill level needed. Progress will also be blocked if the outcome is not clearly defined.
  2. Set Clearly Defined Expectations
    Expectations need to be defined early in the process. They should be clear, without any room for interpretation. Expectations should also include more than what is required to complete the project. You should set expectations on how your team should work together – or how your employees work with the customer. Expectations should include a schedule of when to meet and what requirements will be expected at each meeting. Be detail oriented. Don’t assume that your thoughts are understood by employees and clients. It’s equally important to determine how progress will be measured and what happens if priorities shift. Setting appropriate expectations can avoid difficult conversations later.
  3. Educate and Empathize
    Unless you educate your customer, or your employee, you cannot truly reach an agreement. If you do, not everyone will know what they are agreeing to. Discuss the work involved and the time and resources needed to accomplish the goal. By doing so, your customers and employees retain the knowledge and appreciation of the work involved. It is equally important that you, your employee and/or your customers understand what’s driving the project. Reinforce your commitment to the project and empathize with its importance. Reassure your employees that you are committed to their success.
  4. Be Realistic
    This step goes hand in hand with the first one – Be Honest and Know Your Capabilities. Every project has its challenges. Priorities will shift over time. Your timeline has to have some leeway to absorb these changes. An important aspect of managing expectations is to under-promise and over-deliver, resulting in appreciative customers and employees who enjoy a win-win outcome.
  5. Continuous Communication
    Communication must be consistent and continuous. It’s important that your employees and customers know that you are available when needed. Last minute changes are hard to justify and accept. Surprises only serve to undermine your authority and expertise. Continuous status reports – even simple email reminders on a regular basis – help keep everyone informed. It’s a very good idea to put a good communicator from your team in the role of coordinator.
  6. Ask The Right Questions
    Managing expectations is critical if you really want to be successful. Asking certain questions helps. Here, we’ve outlined key questions to ask if you are managing expectations of a team. These same questions can be used to manage individuals.
  • What are the processes that the team, or the individual, is responsible for and why are they important to the organization?
  • What are the requirements and the boundaries of the team?
  • Does the team have the expertise, competencies and resources necessary to accomplish its goals?
  • What does each team member bring to the team?
  • What is the reporting relationship of the team to the manager?
  • Does the team have the power to make decisions?
  • Are there certain issues that should be addressed by the manager?
  • What are the expected deliverables?
  • How will the team be measured?

If your organization needs help defining and setting expectations, Bahar Consulting will work with you and your organization to examine opportunities and challenges. Give us a call at 240-242-3349 to discuss your needs.