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Aug 30 14

LinkedIn Networking Run Amuck!

by Dave Brock
Linkedin Inmail

I wish I was making this stuff up, unfortunately, the incredibly bad practices of too many on LinkedIn are far more intriguing than anything I could make up.

This morning, I get two LinkedIn messages from the same individual.  The first was a InMail–it had something to do with effective use of LinkedIn InMails, and email marketing, but he wanted to talk to me about a product he is selling to do this stuff.  The second was an invitation to connect — and you guessed it, it was the standard LinkedIn invitation, “I’d like to connect…..”

You can already begin to see where this is going and all the stuff that is just fundamentally flawed and wrong with this guy’s approach.

In fact, I tried to find anything right, failing miserably!

First, an InMail from a stranger, talking about the effective use of InMails and trying to arrange a meeting to pitch his products that enabled us to exploit InMails and LinkedIn information for other email marketing programs.  Hmmm, I suppose this guy and his company think they are something of experts in doing this.  I suppose his approach is representative of what they would call best practice.  Funny, it’s as far from best practice as anything I can imagine.

In his InMail about leveraging the power of InMail and LinkedIn, naturally using his company’s product, he neglected to give one powerful capability in InMail—”Report As Spam.”  I shouldn’t have to know that capability, but it’s one I know very well, and use on at least 90% of my InMails.  Unfortunately, too many use InMail as just another path to spam people about things they have expressed no interest in.  Makes me wonder, perhaps LinkedIn should introduce an “Opt-In” capability/requirement for InMail.

Then, this expert in email marketing and LinkedIn, after first trying to build a relationship by selling me something, invites me to connect with him–again using the standard LinkedIn note.  Well, you can guess what I did, I ignored this request.  He has already started blindly pitching and selling me before we have a “relationship,” imagine what it would be like, once I accepted it.

But the point is less his horrible practice–it’s actually no different from many of the InMails and invitation pitches, I mean requests, I get everyday.

My astonishment is he and his company purport to be experts at List Building, Email Marketing, InMail/LinkedIn Marketing.

I would suppose an expert would demonstrate their expertise by practicing what they are preaching.  So maybe the believe these are acceptable and best practices.  Maybe this is what the promote–providing tools to facilitate others to do the same as they have done in these two communications.

Clearly, this is a sham.  Clearly, this person and his company are to be avoided at all costs–at least if you want to have prospects respect and pay attention to you.

If it was just this one “expert” demonstrating the worst practice in his area of expertise, it’s not terribly noteworthy.  The great sadness, is this has become common place.  My mailboxes get filled with trash–email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google +, from so called experts in Social Engagement.  Each selling me the latest greatest gimmick to spam total strangers, all in the name of building relationships, building business, and selling.

It’s so sad that we have come so far in the possibilities of engaging customers and prospects in truly impactful ways, only to see these channels clogged with garbage.  I suppose we will never learn.

(By the way, I won’t mention the name of his company here, not because they don’t deserve mentioning, so you can avoid doing business with them–but just to avoid the inevitable harassment that follows and the time it will waste.  But if you want to know a company to avoid doing business with, so you can also share with your friends, email me.  I’m glad to share it with you offline.)

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Aug 28 14

Dealing With Poor Performers

by Dave Brock
Youre fired

As managers and leaders we like working with our top performers.  It’s creative, they “get it,” we focus on how we win, how we grow the business.  If we’re doing our jobs right, however good they are, we are always coaching, developing, stretching them to grow, and achieve more.

Sometimes, we give them special developmental opportunities, exposure to execs, special projects–but they deserve it, and it helps build them as sales and business professionals.

By contrast, dealing with poor performers is difficult.  It’s not pleasant.  They aren’t doing the job, reviews become contentious.  We struggle to get them to improve, they don’t —or it’s not enough.  They just don’t seem to get it, possibly they don’t want to get it.  It’s frustrating and draining both for managers and the sales person.

Too often, we just ignore it.  We don’t take the time to address performance issues.  We don’t take actions to terminate them because it means we have to get HR involved, we have to go through all the HR stuff, to make sure we do it right so we don’t get sued.

Sometimes we just let it go, never taking action, making excuses because we are busy doing other things, letting the situation persist.

Sometimes we just let it go, thinking, it’s better to have someone in the territory, getting whatever business they can, even though it’s not what they should be doing.

Not taking action on poor performers is wrong!

It’s wrong for our customers!  It’s wrong for our businesses!  It sets the wrong standard for their peers!  It’s wrong for the poor performer!

It’s simply an avoidance of our responsibilities as managers to our organizations, our people, and the poor performers.

Let me dive into some of these issues:

It’s wrong for our customers:  We’re supposed to create value in every exchange with our customers.  Poor performers clearly aren’t doing this, they are wasting the customers’ time, costing them money–both in the time wasted and in lost opportunities to grow and improve their businesses.  But customers solve this pretty easily.  There are those that create value for them–possibly our competitors.  They won’t let the poor performer waste their time, they just won’t see the poor performer.  Furthermore, they’ll have a poor impression of our company, they may give bad referrals to others–in territories not covered by the poor performer, adversely impacting our business in other areas.  As managers, we should be terrified of this–a pissed off customer talks to far more people than a satisfied one.  The customers will take care of themselves, if we don’t act.  Unfortunately, they take care of themselves in a way that always hurts our business.

It’s wrong for our organizations:  As managers we are responsible for maximizing the performance of our teams in executing the company strategy and delivering results.  Poor performers cost us money–often in the millions.  Mistakenly, people think it’s just the expense of their salaries and overhead.  But it’s lost revenue–the revenue they should be producing and the revenue lost through unhappy customers sharing their experience with other customers.  Think of it, if a sales person has 10 customers who could produce $100K each, but they spend that $100K on the competition, we’ve lost $1 M.  But if each of those pissed off customers also talks to 10 other potential customers (who could be buying $100K each from one of your other sales people), and 50% 0f them choose to buy from competition based on the negative reference–that’s 50 customers each spending $100K on someone else for a total of $5M.  By not taking action on the poor performer, we’ve lost $6M plus their salary and overhead.  But hold on–in a moment, you will see it gets worse.

It’s wrong for their peers:  Think about the rest of the sales organization.  They recognize poor performance with their peers.  If they see management is taking no action, if there are no consequences to poor performance, then why should they work 50-60-more hours a week trying to do their jobs?  Why should they try to excel?  Poor performers will suck the marginal performers down with them.  They will pull down the performance of mediocre performers.  Overall revenue suffers, morale plummets.  But hold on, it gets worse.  Top performers thrive being around top performers.  If they see management doesn’t hold people accountable for performance, if they see the performance of the organization slipping, they won’t want to be around.  They want to be associated with winners, they’ll go someplace else.

So imagine the cumulative impact!  It’s enormous–all because we don’t have the courage or don’t take the time to deal with poor performance!

And it’s not fair to the poor performer!  Some have a misplaced sense of compassion–”I’ll ignore them, it’s too much hassle to try to improve them, it’s too much hassle to fire them, plus I don’t want to throw them out on the street…..”  They become “charity cases.”  This is not compassion, it’s the ultimate in lack of respect for the individual.

If they are poor performers, they are probably in the wrong job.  It doesn’t mean they are poor performers, in general, it means they just can’t perform in their current job.  It’s our obligation as managers to give them the opportunity to find a job where they can perform.  A C player might be an A player somewhere else!  If we don’t take action–either moving them into jobs in our organizations where they can be A players, or moving them out of the organization so they can find a job where they can be an A player (or at least a B player), then we are cheating them!

Terminating a poor performer–after you have given them a fair opportunity and coaching to improve their performance–is the most compassionate thing you can do for the poor performer.  While it may not look that way, to them, initially, it forces them to find a role where they can contribute, where they have the potential for being an A player.  We are obligated to give them that opportunity–not withhold it, treating them as charity cases.  We are obligated in our last conversations, as the leave, to coach them on the types of opportunities they might look for where they can perform and contribute.

It’s interesting, I’ve had several people I’ve terminated, call me up sometime later, thanking me.  While they were initially angry about the termination, it forced them to find opportunities where they could be top performers.  We cannot cheat poor performers of the opportunity to find a role in which the can perform, enjoy their jobs, contribute and grow.  It’s the ultimate sign of disrespect not to terminate them.

Managers who cannot deal with performance issues are performance problems themselves.  Hopefully, their managers will recognize this and take appropriate action–for the good of the business, for the good of their teams, for the good/respect of the poor performers.

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Aug 27 14

Is Your House In Order?

by Dave Brock

I had a mentor that used to say, “You better make sure your house is in order, before you start complaining about the mess in your neighbor’s.”

Another mentor used to say, usually when I was whining about something, “Remember, when you point your finger blaming something else, three fingers are pointing back at you.”  (The visual below may help.)

I wrote, It’s Never JUST A Sales Problem, Kurt, correctly pointed out “a superior organization will as much and as long as possible take responsibility for delivering results, regardless…..”  He’s absolutely right.

Too often, I hear sales people and even managers complaining, “If only we had more competitive products, If I had this feature and capability….”  Or, “I don’t have enough leads and the quality of those I get sucks,”  Or, “If only we had these tools and programs…..”  Or “Our competitors can do these things and we can’t do the same….”

Some of these may be fair and accurate, but we can’t use them as excuses.

Our obligation as individual contributors, or leaders, is to make sure our own performance is the best it possibly can be.  Regardless how few and bad leads are, if we aren’t doing our own prospecting we aren’t fulfilling our responsibilities to ourselves and our companies.  Even if our products are trailing edge, if we make the conversation only about the products, we will fail our customers, companies, and ourselves.

There will always be problems.  There are always things that need to be changed and improved (if there weren’t we wouldn’t have jobs).  It’s critical that we look within our selves and our organizations to make sure we are doing the best we possibly can do.

There’s another critical reason, I’ve touched on them in my It’s Never Just A Sales Problem, and What We Can Learn From The ER articles.  Often, until we have really understood and addressed our own problems and challenges, we can’t identify the real underlying problems.

In so many of the situations we see, we can’t find the real underlying issues until we fix our own performance.  Once we do, the underlying issues pop out.

So while it is never JUST a sales problem, that is NEVER an excuse for not maximizing our own performance.

finger pointing

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