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Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

How The Ritz Carlton & I Run Our Meetings: The Daily Huddle

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The Daily Huddle has arguably been one of the greatest productivity and efficiency boosters I’ve personally experienced.

Since I started using it, I’ve run into numerous industry leaders (such as the Ritz Carlton and Johnson & Johnson) who benefit from the Daily Huddle.

Duhh, why didn’t I begin this 20 years ago!

300px-victory_huddle

England huddle to celebrate victory over India in Mumbai, March 2006

I first read about the concept of the Daily Huddle in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, which may be the best how-to book for small businesses that I’ve read.  Its author Verne Harnish was inspired by the habits of business tycoon John D. Rockefeller and translates those for you to apply to business today.

I know, I sound pretty excited about this stuff — that’s cuz I am!

So, what is the Daily Huddle? Well, for starters, I use the term “Daily Huddle” because I like the ring of it — you may have heard it called names like Daily Scrum, Daily Pulse, Daily Agile, Daily Lineup (Ritz Carlton) or Daily StandUp. The concept is what counts.

Basics

Let me outline the basics first:

  • Time of Day — It should be as early as possible (ideally in the morning).
  • Length of Time — 5 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of the team).
  • Number of Attendees — Teams of 7 or fewer people (if you have teams that are larger than 7, you probably have a team that needs to be split up).
  • Who Attends — Every person in your company should be attending at least one Daily Huddle (but no person should attend more than two or three).
  • Who Runs It — I recommend you pick the senior manager of the particular team to run it (unless he or she is not organized in which case pick the most senior organized person).
  • Where Does it Take Place — It can be done in person or over the phone or on videoconferencing if you’re lucky enough to have one of those.

Agenda

The agenda is the same every day. I recommend you first test out the Rockefeller Habits’ suggested agenda. That’s what I did and we didn’t need to change a thing.

  1. What’s Up — The first section of the Daily Huddle should be about each of your team members sharing the What’s Up of what they’ve accomplished since you all last met. Total Time: 3 to 5 minutes (Every participant should talk for no more than 30 seconds each).
  2. The Numbers — The second section is about the numbers of your business. Here, you should cover the critical metrics that are most important to your team. For example, in my Sales Daily Huddle, we report on such vitals as total sales by brand from the previous day (with comparisons to prior periods) and percentage of our monthly sales goal we project. Total Time: 3 to 5 minutes
  3. Roadblocks — This section focuses on the roadblocks (also called “bottlenecks”) that the team members face. Total Time: 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Values & Ideology — This last section covers values-related items that don’t fit nicely into the first 3 sections of the meeting. An example of Values or Ideology items might be praise that someone outside the group has earned or a personal item that someone outside the meeting is facing that is affecting their performance (for example, we just had a woman on our team whose neighborhood in Santa Barbara was on fire (from Wildfires); and one of our values is to make sure to take care of such people in need of assistance (by offering to pick up her slack and be extra supportive of her and her family).

Bonus Tips

Here are some other things I’ve noticed from my experience with the Daily Huddle.

  • Give it a Week — It will be tough for your people to adopt at first (the first one will be awkward when, for instance, you ask people “What’s Up?) — But it will become easier as the team figures it out (give it a good week!)
  • Don’t Problem Solve — You should keep it focused on problem-identification and not problem-solving (if there’s a problem that can’t be solved with a “one-liner” by one of the group, then you should schedule to meet off-line.
  • Start at Odd Time — Try scheduling it and a time other than the half-hour or hour (e.g. try 10:02am in the morning). Reason: People will remember it more and you’ll find they show up at 10am to 10:01am (instead of being late!).
  • It Helps The Rest of Your Day — The Daily Huddle will help you and your team better figure out how to spend the rest of their day.
  • Start with Senior People — The most effective way to roll out the Daily Huddle is to have your organization’s leaders do it first (secret: if leaders do it, it will trickle down through the rest of your business).

And please read Mastering the Rockefeller Habits — it’s chock full of other valuable habits and ideas for businesses to grow.

You should comment below about your experience with the Daily Huddle — I really want to hear your opinion!

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Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

A Simple 4-Step Approach on How To Sell Better (SPIN Selling)

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I used to consider “Sales” a bad word; until I got good at it!

In this case if you’re not comfortable with the idea of “selling’ you can replace “Sales” with “persuading” or “problem solving” — now let’s help you sell!

Neil Rackham wrote a terrific book called SPIN Selling in 1996. What I like about it is that it provides you a framework for selling better based on the results and experience of thousands of salespeople and their supervisors.

Most important tip: The more questions you ask, the more effective you will be.

So, what is SPIN Selling?

SPIN is an acronym that stands for Situation, Problem, Implication and Need and the book recommends that you ask questions about all four of those.

Below are some SPIN Selling questions to ask (let’s pretend you are selling vacuum cleaners):

Situation Questions

  • How many carpets or rugs do you have in your house?

Problem Questions

  • What problems do you have with your vacuum cleaner?
  • How old is it?
  • How often does your vacuum cleaner’s belt break often?
  • How heavy is it?
  • Where do you store it?

Implication Questions

  • Is your vacuum cleaner so heavy that it aches your back to lift it from the closet or even to vacuum?
  • Is you vacuum so large and heavy that it’s hard to store away?

Need/Payoff Questions

  • How much happier would you be if you had a new vacuum cleaner that was half the height and weight, and could easily be stored and NEVER needed a new belt again?

So, when trying to persuade or problem-solve or sell, try asking lots of questions first and focus on your buyer and what will lead to their big payoff!

SPIN Selling is a must-read for any business-person; it explains SPIN selling techniques and backs it up with detailed research. Rackham later came out with the SPIN Selling Fieldbook which is also an excellent read.

I recommend you buy SPIN Selling first and then if you have people on your team who you want to share the concept with, then buy them a copy of the slightly less expensive Fieldbook.

Do you have any thoughts on the SPIN Selling technique or the topic of sales in general — if so, please make a comment below.

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Saturday, April 25th, 2009

A Mis-Hire Costs You 13X That Person’s Salary: Why You Must Topgrade

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It can cost you 13-times a person’s annual salary if you hire the wrong person, according to Brad Smart.

Brad is the main man behind a couple of books, Topgrading and Topgrading for Sales, which I highly recommend to anyone involved in hiring.

A dozen of my colleagues and I were lucky enough to spend two days with Brad in Chicago in October 2005 when we took his Topgrading training program (which I also recommend).

The 13X cost of a mishire was a stunner!

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Friday, April 24th, 2009

Got Googlejuice? 9 Simple Tips for Showing Up in Search Results

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Googlejuice!

If you had to master one concept in online marketing, this would surely be it.


I’ll give some Googlejuice tips below…but first, some of you might be asking: what is Googlejuice?

Googlejuice is a catchall for a handful of things that you and others can do to make your products, business or anything else show up high in Google’s rankings when people search.

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Googlejuice!

If you had to master one concept in online marketing, this would surely be it.


I’ll give some Googlejuice tips below…but first, some of you might be asking: what is Googlejuice?

Googlejuice is a catchall for a handful of things that you and others can do to make your products, business or anything else show up high in Google’s rankings when people search.

By the way, there’s a great book called What Would Google Do? that recently came out — it has a few pages on Googlejuice and in general how to work better with Google.

So why is Googlejuice so important? Because it can send enormous traffic to your Web site — and you don’t have to pay marketing dollars for it!

Question for You:

When you search on the names of your product categories, products, company, executives or industry, does your organization show up first every time?

If the answer is yes, please contact me as I’d like your advice!

If the answer is no, you may find the rest of this article helpful.

What’s the secret? I don’t know.

Google Juice is based on secret algorithms, and we’ll probably get the formula around the time Coke gives out its secret recipe!

GoogleJuice Tips

But, there are some basic Googlejuice tips you can start working on now:

  • Be Open – You should provide as much relevant information about your business as you can. Unless you’re giving up trade secrets (i.e. some secret algorithm or patent you own), you should publish it on the Web. The New York Times saw exponential growth when it freed its newspaper articles on the Web (it had previously charged readers money for accessing its articles online)
  • Be Unique – If you have information that is rare or unique, that can help your Googlejuice! For example, if you sell an unusual product line of “Fabricated Resin Plates (I made that up),” mention that exact phrase on your Web site. Since very few other businesses sell such a product line, your site will come up very high for the people searching any variation of “Fabricated Resin Plates.”
  • Have Many Links to You– The more sites that link to you the better; Google considers these to be endorsements of your reputation.
  • Have Quality Links to You — The higher their Page Rank (a score Google gives your site (named after founder Larry “Page”) the more Google Juice you get.
  • Have .Gov and .Org Links to You – Google sometimes gives links from .Gov and .Org sites more Juice than links from .Com sites (all other things equal) because they are typically linking out for reasons other than making money.
  • Be Transparent – Show the world who you really are. If you messed up on some product or have bad news, you should consider mentioning it on your Web site (perhaps in a blog…Others outside your company are going to be writing/talking about it anyway (wouldn’t you rather have your prospects/customers hear about it from you!?)
  • Be Clear & Specific – If you’re in the business of selling a vetinarian instrument for operating on squirrels, say it…People do search on such specific terms and if when they do they will find you!
  • Be Simple – Google tries to behave like a human so don’t get fancy with graphics and such…just simply describe your services.
  • Have Permalinks – Google rewards you for Web pages that stick around a long time (as long as they have useful information)…so if you have some valuable information, write it on a Web page and keep it there!

Now go enjoy a Googlejuice smoothie!

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Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

How To Get The End Result You Want By Reversing These 5 Simple Steps

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A few of us sat down in the Palm Springs hotel suite of Harv Eker, best-selling author of Secrets of The Millionaire Mind…and he shared a powerful framework on getting results.

His philosophy is to reverse engineer the process of bottom-line results

The gist of what Harv said was:

Ok, so you want results first, right? Well, what leads to results?…that would be Action (as in taking an action).

Next step is to ask:  What leads to Action?…well, that would be having a Feeling about something (i.e. you feel strongly enough to take action).

Now, what leads to Feeling something?…that would be Thinking about something.

Finally, what leads to thinking about something?…well, that would be what Harv calls Programming (what you were taught as a child, the conditions you grew up in, etc.).

I added “Talking” to the second step…so here’s the 5-step framework:

  1. Programming
  2. Thinking & Talking
  3. Feeling
  4. Taking Action (if you need inspiration here, check out my 12 quotes on action)
  5. Results

So, since we’re reverse-engineering this whole thing, the highest leverage you have to impact results is to affect the earlier steps.

For example, if the results you want are to buy an expensive car, yet you were taught (i.e. Programmed) by your Mom or Dad that possessing an expensive car was a bad thing (because it flaunted wealth), then it will be very difficult for you to end up acquiring your new car by simply Taking Action.

Your Feelings about the car may be very mixed because of your parent’s influence…you may not even be able to Talk openly to people about you wanting the new car — but you want it!

So, if you want that new car, work first on the:

  • Progamming — Decide that you disagree with your parents about their thoughts on expensive cars (this may sound easy but deciding that you disagree with a value that a parent has is a BIG deal (that’s why you start here!)
  • Thinking & Talking — Continue to think about the car AND talk openly about it to a close friend; Talking is just thinking out loud; but it makes it more real!
  • Feeling — You will begin to feel more inspired about the car..you will literally, as they say, start to “feel it.”
  • Taking Action — You will be more likely now to “kick the tires” of that car you want
  • Results — You will get that new car!

Harv shares this framework and many others in Secrets of The Millionaire Mind, which I recommend.

Thanks, Harv!

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