Last week I highlighted advice I’d gotten from my first boss. I got some great responses on advice you’ve received as well, so I’m compiling a greatest hit list. So please reply and let me know: what’s the best advice you’ve gotten from a boss? Look for the list in an upcoming newsletter. And for those who missed it, I’m including the article again at the very end of this newsletter.
New article for Harvard Business Review:
What An Effective Client-Referral Strategy Looks Like
“My best clients have always come from my best clients.” That’s one of my favorite things to say to current clients when I’m reaching out to them for referrals. Why? Because it’s true. My current clients know what I can do and how I’ve helped them, and they have the inside knowledge needed to explain to their peers why my services might be a good fit.
Most company leaders would say this is true of their business too. But few firms have a strategy or process for developing referral business. Too often it’s just something they hope will happen.
At the core, regardless of company size or industry, referrals give you a higher likelihood of winning prospective business, because the opportunities at the top of your funnel are already pre-screened and have a head start with the recommendation of a trusted peer.
In the article (which you can read here) I outline how business referrals can fuel considerable growth and success for organizations of any size:
- Make referral business a central part of your go-to-market strategy. It’s critically important to success that soliciting referrals be pillar of your sales strategy. If it’s not, the potential revenue stream will be forgotten or neglected.
- Manage and track the acquisition of referrals as a process. Delineate exactly how you expect your team to address business referrals as they work with clients. This is a multi-step process and requires some attention paid to how you expect these interactions to occur and with what clients.
- Focus sales talent on execution of the process. With the right processes in place, it is important to keep your team accountable. Even though the results aren’t immediately measurable, your team will see the return in the long run. Establish metrics and remember to provide coaching to improve the effectiveness of making the request and managing the process.
Building referral business is rigorous but it almost guarantees good connections with strong opportunity for conversion. Don’t let the chance to harness promising leads slip through your fingers. Read the full article to learn more about my recommendations for building an effective strategy.
New article for Forbes: The Future of Sales Leadership
Just as there is a frequently discussed difference between management and leadership, there is an important distinction between managing a sales team and building or leading a strong Sales Organization. In my article last week for Forbes, The Future of Sales Leadership, I explore the key strengths that will be required for Sales Organization leadership, and how these key skills make a difference on outcomes. At the core is the ability to integrate sales and strategy, a topic I’ve written about as fundamental to revenue growth.
You can find the article here, and I hope you will consider these points as you approach your next sales leadership promotion or hiring opportunity. Especially in these volatile and unpredictable times, investing in sound, trusted and strategic leadership is a wise move for any company.
I found this Forbes article to offer an interesting perspective of how leadership and technology are going to influence the success of companies moving into the future. The article is a bit heady and futuristic, but it does articulate an important point that I’ve written about before: “…technology choices leaders make today will have a far-reaching impact on their prospects tomorrow.”
Give Advice And A Funny Story
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from a boss? This may not have been the best advice I ever received, but it is certainly up there:
My first boss gave me this advice over lunch on my last day of work. I had just finished a year at a not-for-profit organization right after college and was heading off to my first corporate job to work for PriceWaterhouseCoopers in San Francisco. Because I had no real business experience other than my role in our small organization and a Communication Studies and Rhetoric degree, he shared this sage advice: “Scott, you probably ought to get yourself a subscription to Harvard Business Review. Read it cover to cover, even though you probably won’t understand it all. And get it delivered to your apartment, not the office, or you’ll look like an arrogant [expletive]!” Ken was direct! I didn’t take offense to the comment about not understanding because I figured he was right.
I looked up to Ken, so I listened and my first issue of HBR was waiting at my new apartment when I arrived in San Francisco. He was also right (as he often is) about not understanding everything (or a lot for that matter). I recall struggling through John Kotter’s 1995 article Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail as I rode the 30X bus from my apartment to the office on Market Street. But read I did, and coupled with the work experience, I started observing some of the ideas I’d read about show up in real time. As I understood more, I began to really appreciate the value of deeply exploring ideas for business, and how those ideas could be applied to improve performance. I’ve been reading it since.
Now the funny part.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s been almost 10 years since I co-authored that first HBR article and I’ve written a bunch since. So, when it was first published, I sent a copy to Ken, with a note that read like this: “Ken, here is a copy of HBR with my recent article. You may enjoy reading it cover to cover, even though you may not understand it all. I’ve sent it to your home so your colleagues at the office don’t think you’re an arrogant [expletive]!” We had a good laugh about that.
And yes, I have a great relationship with Ken to this day and we still talk regularly.
So, what’s the best advice you’ve gotten from a boss? Let me know! In a few weeks I’ll compile a greatest hits list.