LSA Global Insights Newsletter

6.26.2017

Talent: 1/3rd of the Recipe for Success

Out of 3 men trying to scale a wall, only one succeeds with a ladder

The goal of talent management is to create and sustain organizational excellence through people - specifically by attracting, developing, engaging and retaining the top talent that makes sense for your specific business strategy and unique organizational culture.

Done right, effective talent management can differentiate your company from the competition in both good and bad times. Done poorly, inconsistent and unaligned talent management approaches can grind your company to a halt.  

Proactive and differentiated talent management can certainly lead to extraordinary results. Just think of the last time that you were on a team that was firing on all cylinders. To take your talent management to the next level:

  • Know what constitutes high performance in your organization and then hire, cultivate, promote and reward people appropriately based upon their contribution and potential.
  • Invest wisely in employee selection, onboarding, compensation, career development and succession planning.
  • Have clear, accurate, fair, meaningful, aligned, timely and achievable success metrics for each and every employee. 

Many human resource leaders are adept at the individual steps required to attract, develop, engage and retain talent. In our experience, however, few organizations have an integrated talent management strategy that is aligned with their business priorities and corporate culture. 

Sure, recruiting's hiring forecast is typically linked to a budget that was an output of the strategy, and employee engagement has gained importance as of late; but beyond that, most talent management functions appear reactive and un-tethered from the strategic and cultural realities of the business.  

If you are looking for a sustainable and profitable talent management strategy to help grow your business and your people, there are three critical factors our Organizational Alignment Research uncovered that need to be in place. And all three need to be inextricably connected and aligned.
  1. Your Business Strategy - the clear and compelling choices about where to play and what actions to take.
  2. Your Corporate Culture -  how things truly get done in your organization including the way people think, behave and work.  
  3. Your Talent - how you attract, develop, engage and retain talent that fits your unique situation.


Voice of the Customer

"LSA Global's ability to engage and retain talent has been a blessing.  Their ability to help us sort through complex organizational changes and provide flexible, customized information gives a high level of comfort and confidence in the work. They helped us identify and take actions to engage and retain talent while addressing the concerns of our unique workforce. In all, LSA provides us with great value and expertise, and I would highly recommend them."
Mike Normant | Senior Director Training | ServiceSource

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Benchmark Your New Employee Onboarding Process

A hand is helping a kid climb over a wall

Is your speed to productivity for new hires where it should be?
Most new employees take between 3 and 24 months to get up to speed. This wide disparity provides wonderful opportunities for organizations to decrease ramp time and improve speed to productivity for new employees.  

In a recent survey, 210 CEO's estimated the time for a typical mid-level manager to reach breakeven as 6.2 months. Using an average salary of $100,000, the difference between a 3-month ramp and a 6.2-month ramp is approximately $26,500 per employee. 

This does not account for differences in revenue, margin, utilization, or productivity. It is only the salary side of the equation. For a company hiring a minimum of 100 new employees per year, this creates a $2.6m window of opportunity for an improved new hire process. For companies closer to the 24-month ramp-to-productivity mark, the opportunity is as large as $17.5m. 

The main point is that, when combined with the common challenges of hiring the right employees and creating an environment for them to thrive, most organizations have ample room for improvement in their new hire processes. 

Unfortunately, many companies continue to struggle with the most controllable part of the equation - effectively and efficiently assimilating new employees. When companies decide to improve their new hire process, they are typically reacting to some combination of the eight drivers listed below with "speed to productivity" being the #1 mega-driver for most organizations.
  1. Increase speed to productivity
  2. Improve the company's ability to scale
  3. Increase employee engagement and retention
  4. Improve utilization of key methodologies, systems and practices
  5. Improve the overall new employee experience
  6. Improve the overall consistency of the new employee experience
  7. Increase company, product and service knowledge
  8. Decrease assimilation time and costs
These eight drivers typically occur for companies that are facing high growth rates, struggling to retain top talent, changing go-to-market strategies, or feeling increased pressure to improve productivity.

So the question becomes, how do you create a new employee orientation process that hits the mark for your specific situation?   Properly designed new employee orientation programs can make a measurable difference.  Just ask our clients. 
  • At Microsoft, we decreased their new hire ramp time by 50%.  
  • At VMware, we increased speed to quota by 27% and had 100% new hire and hiring manager satisfaction.


Voice of the Customer

"Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this new hire program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course."
Farhat Ali | President and CEO | Fujitsu

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned

5.29.2017

The Only 2 Negotiation Tactics You Need to Know

2 businessmen pulling on a rope in a tug-o-war

What if your sales team could anticipate 97% of what's coming their way during sales negotiations? 

Surprising research tells us negotiating boils down to only two main tactics that cover 97% of what will happen in each and every negotiation.

The Sales Negotiations Research
Our sales negotiation experts have been on a relentless pursuit to determine if negotiation tactics followed any kind of predictable pattern or if negotiation is truly as random and unpredictable as most companies think. 

The research took over three years in nineteen countries, involved Fortune 500 firms from a wide range of industries and ended with a collection of the "most difficult" and "most common" verbal negotiation tactics. 

The results surprised us. While negotiations often feel unpredictable and challenging, 97% of the verbal tactics used globally followed a very predictable pattern that could be reduced to just two main propositions. 

Just think about what this means for sales teams and sales negotiation training, coaching and preparation.

Typical Situations
Most of our clients who are looking to improve their ability to negotiate are facing intensified pricing pressure, increased deal complexity, longer sales cycles, more internal and external stakeholders and roadblocks, greater competition, and more challenges quantifying their value, impact or differentiation in a way that matters to the buyer

These situations are exemplified by four common client quotes uncovered by the research:
  • "Your competition is so much more flexible than you are..."
  • "You are way out of line with the market..."
  • "Everyone else gives that away for free..."
  • "Your service and reliability are lower than your competitors..."
Do any of these sound suspiciously familiar? Did you know they are all basically code for "I can get the same thing cheaper somewhere else?" 

It takes a little practice, but eventually you can recognize these seemingly disparate tactics as variations on a theme with two main elements.

"So, what does all this mean?"

We think it means a total redefinition and simplification of B2B sales negotiation. It changes how negotiation courses should be taught; it changes how you and your sales team should prepare for negotiation; it changes how you should capture data in your organization; and it changes the results you can expect from negotiations.

If we can successfully anticipate 97% of what's coming our way, we can better prepare for and change the nature of the negotiation with our customers.

This data flies in the face of how virtually every negotiation writer and consultant thinks about negotiation. For example, there is a book out now by a distinguished Business School Professor entitled 53 Negotiation Truths.   How does any individual negotiator or company prepare and build competency in as many as 53 truths? Another example is a recent ad in Selling Power Magazine. It included no less than 5 lessons, 9 important methods, 7 key behaviors, and 12 predictions. While the ad only had 33 items to be concerned about vs. the 53 in the book, can an individual or an organization truly optimize and adopt 33 items?


Voice of the Customer

"LSA Global's sales negotiation training and consulting provided the tools and practices that have significantly enhanced our win rate. Their team understood our business, its challenges and framed the learning in a way that we understood. I am very happy with the value we have received, and would highly recommend LSA to others looking to improve their sales negotiations results."
Jeff Bizzack | President | ServiceSource

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Assess Your Sales Negotiation Capabilities

shocked man reading a long list of negotiations

According to Forrester Research, buyers now have access to 60-90% more information than sellers.   


And not surprisingly, buyers are leveraging that information for deeper discounting at every turn while attempting to "commoditize" seller offerings to gain even deeper concessions.

Unfortunately most sales approaches used today to combat increased negotiation pressure were developed in the 1970's and 1980's and are no longer relevant to today's marketplace.   In a nutshell, too many sellers are losing the negotiation game.

 The highest performing sales negotiators:
  • Understand and prepare for 97% of the verbal negotiation tactics they will encounter.
  • Know the consequences to both parties in the event an agreement is not reached.
     
  • Know what a great deal looks for both sides in the event agreement is reached. 
  • Provide multiple solution options that change the conversation from dividing value to creating and dividing value in a way that makes sense. 


Voice of the Customer

"What I liked best was the 100% focus on live sales negotiation opportunities. We put over 100 negotiations through the process and had immediate impact. Furthermore, using the blended approach of technology and live consulting, we achieved these results with our sales team quickly."
Monte Roy | Senior Vice President of Sales | Information Builder

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


4.24.2017

Leading Virtual Teams - The Top 4 Challenges and 3 Winning Strategies

3 men trying to communicate through bull horns illustrating the kind of challenge virtual teams face

We call them "Virtual Teams" but the only thing virtual about these teams is their cyber office. Otherwise, these teams are made up of real people solving real problems and producing real deliverables. 

These teams have some special challenges. If you are leading a virtual team, there are three dimensions of communication you need to know.  

Distributed Teams are More Challenging
Let's start with the problem. Why treat virtual teams any differently than other project team? What's special? Distance. This translates into four specific challenges:
  1. First, where's the informal communication that happens at the coffee pot or water cooler? "So tell me, Eric, how many of these kinds of projects have you worked on?" or "I have a few simple questions I didn't really want to raise in the team meeting - you know, I didn't want to look dumb, but..."
  2. Second, what are you going to do about that old rule of thumb that 75% of communication is non-verbal when the only communication you have is verbal or written?
  3. Now add that most teams hit headwinds and must rely on trust and commitment to stick together when the going gets rough. Can you build trust and commitment across time zones?
  4. Then there's the logistics: What time do you meet? And where do you keep the project's "stuff"?
Three Winning Communication Strategies of Leading Distributed Teams
Notice the key term is leading. Not organizing, but leading. 

Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, emphasizes that "leaders have followers." To be a leader of a distributed group of people that you don't see daily, you must be conscious of three dimensions of communication.


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Project Team Toolkit

a graphic of 5 oarsmen (plus their coxswain) all rowing in the same direction the way project teams should work

Do you need to get your team rowing in the same direction?


Recognizing that nearly all projects are accomplished through the concerted, coordinated work of project teams, effective project team leaders balance the art of leadership and the science of project management.

Whether your teams are made up of part-time volunteers or highly-skilled professionals, their productivity and success is dramatically affected by the relationships within the team and the ability to function as a cohesive unit.

Project teams have a special challenge: they come together for a temporary assignment in which they face a unique problem. Successful project teams build a positive project team environment and learn to work together to solve problems even in the face of conflict. 

This research-backed project team toolkit includes:
  • The Critical Characteristics of a Great Executive Project Sponsor
  • The Top 5 Warning Signs of a Bad Project Leader
  • The 3 Keys to Successful Project Leadership
  • How to Break the Resource Gridlock: Prioritize to Accelerate
  • Must Have Tips for Getting the Project Resources You Need to Succeed
  • Proven Strategies on How to Better Choose Between Projects
  • The 6 "Get Right" Basics of a Great Project Kick-off Meeting
  • The Top 4 Project Challenges Every Team Must Overcome
  • 3 Proven Steps to Better Manage Internal and External Project Stakeholder Risks
  • The Top 5 Warning Signs that Your Performance Environment May Be Destroying Your Project
  • 20 Project Management Best Practice Templates
  • 5 Steps to Get Your Project Team Pulling in the Same Direction
  • How to Best Handle a Fixed Deadline when Project Scope is Unclear
  • Top 10 Project Mistakes and How to Prevent Them


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned

3.27.2017

The 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture

3 steps in a plant's growth with light and water to money showing a high performing culture


We define corporate culture as the way work truly gets done in an organization on a day-to-day basis.

Think of culture as the collective attitude, assumptions, purpose and behaviors of a company's workforce. Your workplace culture answers the fundamental question of "how?" It exists in every company whether by design or by default.

Does Culture Matter?
Yes. Here is why... 

Research by Harvard established that an effective culture can account for up to half of the differential in performance between organizations in the same business. As Peter Drucker famously said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." And the global consulting firm Watson Wyatt found culturally aligned organizations return as much as 286% more value to stakeholders.

Our own organizational alignment research at 410 companies across eight industries found cultural factors account for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of growth, profitability, customer satisfaction, customer retention, leadership effectiveness and employee engagement. Indeed, culture matters.  

The Link between Culture and Strategy
In general, strategy must go through culture to get results. 

We define business strategy as the clear and compelling choices about where the company competes and what critical few actions it takes to succeed. A successful strategy allows a company to perform beyond the sum of its parts. It answers the fundamental strategic questions of "why, what, where and who." First, consider strategy as the big problem you are solving or the big question you are answering. Then decide how to ruthlessly prioritize your time, money, people and energy to make it happen.

The Three "C's" of a High Performance Culture
Based upon over 25 years of research and experience, we have identified three critical and interrelated components required to create a workplace culture that matters: 
  1. Little-C: Organizational Health
  2. Middle-C: Performance Environment
  3. Big-C: Strategic Alignment
While each is essential, each must be assessed and shaped very differently if you, and your leaders, want to create a high performance culture.



About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Aligned Culture Health Check

people are pulling in a tug of war showing the power of culture alignment

Is your corporate culture helping or hindering your business strategy?


Is your corporate culture helping or hindering your business strategy?

We define culture as how things truly get done in an organization.   Workplace culture can be measured by understanding the way people think, behave and work. To be successful, strategy must go through culture to get implemented.

While often invisible, organizational culture becomes very apparent when strategies are deemed to be against accepted cultural norms. 

Accounting for 40% of the difference between high and low performing organizations, company culture matters.  How leaders define and shape their corporate culture over time has become a critical variable in defining the success and failure of their strategies. 

While building a strong and healthy culture is a priority for many leaders, corporate culture is rarely designed to align with an organization's strategic goals. Having a healthy (engaged) culture is good, but not sufficient.  Cultural alignment is the key.

If you would like to know where your culture is today, and where it needs to be to meet your strategic goals, then this cultural alignment health check is for you.


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned

2.26.2017

The 6 Top Reasons Sales Training Fails


a cartoon runner trips over a hurdle

Most sales training initiatives fail to deliver.

At a minimum, the ROI is fuzzy, bolstered by only a few anecdotal stories strategically captured to make everyone FEEL a bit better about making the training investment. 

The critical question...why do most sales training programs fall short and what can we do about it? 

From our experience at implementing hundreds of sales training initiatives over the last two decades, we have put together a list of the top six pitfalls-the most common mistakes organizations make when rolling out a sales training program-and a checklist of how to avoid them.

Pitfall 1 - Focusing on the What vs. the Why
The first hurdle of any change initiative, whether in a one-to-one coaching session or in a classroom, is ensuring there is actually a desire to change and grow. With so much to learn, most programs are designed to jump into the learning without investing the appropriate time to ensure participants understand (1) change is needed and (2) it's in their best interest to change. 

The first step for senior leaders is to "get the troops on board." Consider the following Four P's to ensure participants will embrace the need to change. 

Personal Goals
People change for two simple reasons. First, because they believe it's in their best interest to change and, second, because they believe that change is possible. You need to position any sales training initiative as a resource to help reps reach THEIR personal goals and not a workshop designed to "fix them" for the sole benefit of the company. 

Ensure participants understand the personal payoff for change and that the organization has the will and the means to fully see the change through to completion.

Principles
Then address the "why" to change by identifying the principles that support every pillar of the program. There are fundamental laws at work for every effective approach to selling. Whether you are trying to improve response rates to emails or creating receptivity to a presentation, there are principles that, if understood, remove the mystery as to why one approach fails and others succeed. These principles provide a framework to guide hundreds of decisions. If you define and gain agreement to the guiding principles for each core competency to be learned, you ensure that the recommended approach will be embraced.
As you think about the design of your sales program, have the fundamental principles been defined for building the relationship? The sales process? How you engage a new prospect? Discovering needs? Building value or advancing the opportunity? Negotiating and responding to resistance?

Problem-Based Learning
The next step is to describe situations or scenarios in which the desired outcome was not achieved and the principle was ignored (the problem). Buy-in grows as participants roll up their sleeves to address the problem and share their assessments of the recommended approach. The student becomes the teacher and, if the principle is sound and applied to the situation, success is guaranteed. 

People
Lastly, the person chosen to deliver the program is at least as important as the design itself. Choose a facilitator the participants would want to emulate. When they throw out situations or challenges they face, will the facilitator be able to respond in a way that builds credibility with the audience? Can the facilitator go off script and apply the model to any situation, based on real life experiences? If not, buy-in diminishes and the learning objectives are jeopardized. 

This also holds true for the development of exercises, examples, and training simulations. You need an instructional designer with "street experience" or participants will decide the program was built by a person who never "carried a bag" and the engagement level and chance for behavior change and improved performance plummets.


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Assess Your Sales Health

A doctor with a stethoscope measuring vital signs

Our Organizational Alignment Research found that sales leaders who align their sales culture and sales talent with their sales strategy grow revenues 58% faster, are 72% more profitable, have 9-1-to-1 greater leadership effectiveness and 16.8-to-1 higher employee engagement levels. 


The highest performing sales leaders:
  • Create go-to-market sales clarity by ensuring everyone understands the go-to-market sales strategy, has no doubt that the company is committed to it, is highly responsive to changes in the market, and believes the sales strategy is being consistently implemented throughout the organization.
  • Build high performance sales cultures by ensuring their teams clearly understand the desired sales culture, frequently observe the majority of sales leaders modeling the desired behaviors, regularly feel the sales culture motivates top performance, repeatedly receive and share information in a timely manner, and continually believe decisions demonstrate a healthy short- and long-term perspective.
Differentiate top sales talent by ensuring their teams believe the quality of sales talent creates a competitive edge.  This is accomplished by repeatedly hiring and retaining top sales talent while ensuring the right investments to meet sales targets. 





Voice of the Customer

"LSA's ability to get a group of 20+ executives from around the globe on the same page, push their thinking to new heights, and ensure an executable plan was excellent. I would recommend LSA to anyone looking to take their leaders and sales execution to the next level."
Rob Sturgeon | Executive Vice President | ServiceSource

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned