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“To train or not to train”, that is the question. Well, there are actually more questions to ask yourself. Can we afford to train our team now in the current economy? Will our sales/revenue go up if we invest in a sales or customer service training program with our team? Will our Customer Service be positively impacted? Can our team become more engaged and productive? Do we plan on doing more business with more customers in the future that requires having the best people? There are many questions that most business owners or leaders ask themselves when it comes to training their employees.

The potential answer to all of these questions is, “YES!”

“When the economy slows down is exactly the best time to re-invest in your sales and service training as it is like sharpening the tools for the upcoming hunt. There is no official bell that sounds when the economy begins to recover. Those that have honed their skills are poised to take advantage of the recovering market. Too often organizations cut too deep with training, layoffs etc. and are then left scrabbling to rebuild their depleted teams. Sales opportunities are not lost… They are seized by someone else.” -Joe Gagliardi, FCPA, FCMA Managing Partner, Recruitment Partners

It has been proven that Professional Development/Training and engagement are key factors with employee retention, but is there an ROI with your training costs? This can be difficult to measure in the short-term but more apparent on a longer-term basis. (12 months plus) There are no guarantees that your business will realize a suitable ROI on training. (only you as the leader can determine this)

DID YOU KNOW????

If your business is approved for The Canada-Alberta Job Grant, this grant will cover 2/3 of the cost of new training initiatives, to a maximum of $10,000 per employee to a maximum of $300,000 for organization. This is a way to realize a return on your investment as the grant requires your business to pay for your training cost when training starts. You will receive 1/3 of that training cost shortly after your initial investment. At the end of the training (e.g. 6-12 months) your business will receive an additional 1/3 of that total training cost that you invested in your employees. How’s that for a return? Canada-Alberta Job Grant FAQ

Our business, X5 Management is excited about this great news for Alberta business for several reasons:

It is a tremendous opportunity to realize a return on your training costs.
The Grant encourages Alberta business to invest in their employees now.
Investing in your employees can reap future benefits for your business when the economy heats up again…..and it will.
Now is the time to invest in your greatest asset….your people. Training and development will get your business ready for future growth opportunities!
X5 Management offers more than 20 Sales & Service related courses/workshops that can support the training needs of virtually any business, in any industry. If your business wants to take advantage of the grant so that you can expand on your Sales & Service related training for your employees X5 would be pleased to discuss your organization’s training needs. Contact X5: info@x5management.com

“X5 Management has provided professional development to our team to improve outcomes of various initiatives and projects. We have been very pleased with the impact that X5 has had on our business, specifically on how we communicate internally and how we impact customer service. We look forward to the continued professional support that X5 will offer our business. X5 Management was referred and recommended to us, and we are very pleased with their approach and impact that they have had on our business.” -Eddy Stahl, President Stahl Peterbilt Inc.

“We engaged the services of X5 Management to help enhance our Edmonton and Vancouver team’s soft skills and to develop their professional growth. We have found the team at X5 to be very easy to work with and committed to tailoring their approach to meet our specific needs and objectives. We have been very pleased with the impact that X5 has made.” – E. Najjar, President and CEO, Carco Auto

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Top 5 tips for Team Development

by mikemack on August 1, 2015

Collaboration, teamwork, idea sharing and prioritizing organizational initiatives all seem like they would be foundations to business growth and success. All organizations have specific challenges and opportunities that require discussion and attention in order to move forward in a positive direction. However, very few growing organizations take the time to work “on” their business for planning, communicating as a team, and confronting the issues that stifle productivity and team development.

Recently, our team conducted a survey with some of our business connections in the Edmonton community. The intent of the survey was to identify what topics on team training and development would be most beneficial to stimulate team development and success. Below is a list of the top employee training and development topics on the “wish list”, based on our survey along with a brief description.

Effective Communication: Effective communication amongst organizations and their teams can be the number one success contributor. Having systems in place that keeps employees informed, engaged and productive is key.

Customers Service skills: Do your team members relay a consistent message to your customers? Is it remarkable? Getting feedback from your customers on your products and services and applying/implementing their suggestions will help retain them.

Creating daily habits that get results: From the time you wake up, go to work, serve your customers, have dinner with your family and finally go to bed, your habits matter. Good habits are valuable and some “bad” habits can drain momentum and results.

Dealing with Conflict: Workplace conflict can be a significant distraction and productivity killer. It can also break up teams and result in employees leaving their jobs because of unhealthy relationships. Identify the cause of these issues and why the conflict exists. Learn how to collaborate with your colleagues and customers.

Sales Management: How do you coach and lead your sales team? Managing and communicating expectations from the top down will help sales team members understand what they are doing well and where they may be able to improve. Do you inspect what you expect?

DID YOU KNOW????

If your business is approved for The Canada-Alberta Job Grant, this grant will cover 2/3 of the cost of new training initiatives, to a maximum of $10,000 per employee to a maximum of $300,000 for organization. This is a way to realize a return on your investment, as the grant requires your business to pay for your training cost when training starts. You will receive 1/3 of that training cost shortly after your initial investment. At the end of the training (e.g. 6-12 months) your business will receive an additional 1/3 of that total training cost that you invested in your employees. How’s that for a return? Canada-Alberta Job Grant FAQ

Our business, X5 Management is excited about this great news for Alberta business for several reasons:

It is a tremendous opportunity to realize a return on your training costs.
The Grant encourages Alberta business to invest in their employees now.
Investing in your employees can reap future benefits for your business when the economy heats up again…..and it will.
Now is the time to invest in your greatest asset….your Team. Training and development will get your business ready for future growth opportunities!

X5 Management offers an extensive list of Sales & Service related courses/workshops that can support the training needs of virtually any business, in any industry. If your business wants to take advantage of the grant so that you can expand on your Sales & Service related training for your employees X5 would be pleased to discuss your organization’s training needs. Contact X5: info@x5management.com

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The King has left the building

by mikemack on July 2, 2015

Elvis Presley is still regarded as the “King of Rock and Roll” and through his concert career it became a standard line from his show announcers to say that Elvis, aka “The King” has left the building. (Meaning, the show is over – go home…..he wasn’t coming back for an encore). It is still used to indicate that someone has made an exit or that something is complete.

If CUSTOMER = KING what does it mean when your customer leaves your building, or business? Does it mean that they left your business feeling happy, satisfied or fulfilled? Does it mean that something is complete? i.e. Remarkable Customer Satisfaction? Does is mean they left your business, and won’t be back for an encore? i.e. Another appearance.

A few months ago I had a customer service experience that was “less than stellar”. This business: “Less than Stellar Business Inc.” (I will change the name to protect he innocent 🙂 ) allowed me the opportunity to leave their business, and I must admit that I didn’t feel like a king. Ironically, I wasn’t even looking to be treated like a king….I simply wanted to receive “reasonable service for reasonable pay”, but alas, this didn’t happen. All aspects of the “almost” sales and service process were poor. I say “almost”, as they didn’t get my money. I left before things went too far. In other words, I decided to walk away and avoid further disappointment. Sadly, no one was running to the door to save my business.

Does Customer = King? In my opinion, if your business is looking to grow revenue, offer more products and services to your customer, gain more customers, then your “customer” must be king. While being a king is all about royalty, being a customer is all about loyalty!

How to treat your customer like a king?

Be Remarkable. (Give your customer something “great” to talk about)
Assess your moments of truth from your customer’s eyes. (eg. greetings, smiles, cleanliness of your business, etc.)

Determine the Lifetime Value of your customer. (i.e. Revenue/transactions; Transactions/year; Revenue/year; # of years that customer will be “your” customer; Customer lifetime value; Likelihood of “great” and remarkable service keeping your customer.

Determine the cost of poor service. (How many people will an “upset” customer tell others about your poor service?)

Assess your Service: Reliability (Consistency); Responsiveness (to requests & complaints); Speed (of everything your business does); Competence (skilled, trained and knowledgeable employees); Value (service to price ratio); Friendly (personable, smiling).

Determine what “behaviours” support “remarkable customer service for your business.

These simple tips may prevent “The King” aka “customer” from leaving your business.

Our business, X5 Management specializes in Improving Sales & Service for business. We offer comprehensive Business Consulting Services, Coaching Services and we have an extensive list of Training and Professional Development courses/workshops, specific to supporting businesses with Improving Sales & Customer Service.

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Everyone communicates, but do we connect?

by mikemack on May 1, 2015

As I have learned from leadership guru and best-selling author, John C. Maxwell “connecting is all about others”.

As Maxwell stated in his book: Everyone Communicates – Few Connect “When you are trying to connect with people, it’s not about you — it’s about them. If you want to connect with others, you have to get over yourself”.

How can you apply this in business? Whether it is trying to sell something to a prospective customer; servicing an existing customer; speaking to your team or an audience, there is a need for connection. Ask great questions, make your message about them and listen more!

This topic gains lots of focus in our business at X5 Management. Whether we are working with a sales team or business leaders, the opportunity to improve communication is ongoing. We support sales and service teams to “turn soft skills into hard assets”.

Communication SkillsEveryone has a unique style of communication, and while there are many communication profiles/assessments that are available in the marketplace, one particular tool that we have used for more than 9 years is: What’s My Communication Style, by HRDQ. This tool illustrates 4 styles: Direct, Spirited, Systematic or Considerate.

Direct people take charge of their lives. Spirited people are enthusiastic and friendly. Considerate people value warm, personal relationships. Systematic people are accurate and objective. If you can leverage your communication style strengths and be mindful of potential communication trouble spots you have a better chance of connecting with others.

“Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them,” says Maxwell.

Three Questions People Are Asking About You, according to Maxwell.

1. Do you care for me?

2. Can you help me?

3. Can I trust you?

Everyone communicates, but do we connect?

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Golf Lessons or Sales Training

by mikemack on April 1, 2015

Unless you are heading for the PGA or LPGA, you likely golf for fun. Perhaps you take some lessons, or shoot a bucket of balls and chip and putt before a round. Most of us will at least do this to “try” and improve our game.

Did you know that some Golf College students average 6 hours of practice each day from Monday to Friday during college time, and then they practice and play outside of those hours as well. It is all focus as they have a lot riding on their future success. This means that when they practice they are not checking their text messages or surfing the Internet, they are going through their routines with discipline and focus.

Now, how many of us are in Sales just for fun? Almost everyone is in sales, in one form or another. While it might be fun, it generally is more serious and essential to our business well being and success. $$

As a Sales professional how much time do you actual practice Sales?

There is on old saying in golf, stating that, “you drive for show and putt for dough”. There may be some truth to that statement, however it has been suggested that every “good” golf stroke adds value. The closer a swing gets you to the hole without finding trouble, the higher the value.

Golf lessons or Sales TrainingGolf is a lot like sales. Every “good” stroke (i.e. action step within a sales process) that gets you closer to the hole (i.e. closing the sale) adds value. The objective in golf is to get the ball in the hole in the fewest possible swings. (i.e. steps in the sales process)

Sales, like golf, requires practice, but as my life/business mentor, Arnold McLaughlin suggests, you must have “perfect” practice to improve your game. Practicing bad habits won’t win the day! (Arnold has 50 years of Sales experience and is still an active Commercial Realtor in Vancouver at the age of 80, and continues to perfect his game and helps me perfect mine)

One of our service offerings at X5 Management is to coach, train and consult many sales professionals for our corporate customers and we have identified three areas that make the difference from the average sales professional to the championship sales professional.

FOCUS, WILL, and CAPABILITY

Like golf, the sales professional is Laser Focused on the goal or objective. i.e. Sink the putt, or close the sale) You won’t see the leader at the PGA Championship walking up to the 18th green with a mobile phone in his hand and texting friends and family about how awesome his round is. So, why is it that so many sales professionals (or any other career for that matter) do this daily, to intentionally distract them from their game? Focus on the task at hand and avoid distractions that take you off of your “sales game”.

Winners in golf and sales are Willing to “practice”, eat healthy, exercise, meditate and get plenty of rest. As a sales professional, are you willing to do whatever it takes to improve your sales game? What bad habits are you prepared to stop doing? What good habits must you do more of?

Not everyone will win a PGA Championship, nor will they be the top sales producer in their industry, but all of us can be better at the game. How can you develop new Capabilities and skills to become better every day, week, month, or quarter? What do we read, study and follow to get better? Can you use the support of your Sales Manager, Sales Coach or Mentor to take your game to the next level?

A final comparison to sales and golf. A PGA tournament has 4 rounds. A fiscal year in your business has 4 quarters. You can have a bad round or quarter, but the key to getting back on track is to focus on the outcome, make necessary adjustments and avoid distractions that don’t add value to your results and continually improve your game every “hole”, every “sale” and every day.

A great quote from golf legend, Arnold Palmer: “What do I mean by concentration? I mean focusing totally on the business at hand and commanding your body to do exactly what you want it to do.”

Here’s to a good summer of golf and a great year of sales success!

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Caffeine for your Sales team

by mikemack on March 1, 2015

What is the fuel that drives your sales team? Did you ever ask them?

Perhaps it’s money, success, recognition, or satisfying their customers.

Whatever drives them, it is a big factor in their ongoing momentum. Best-selling author and speaker, Darren Hardy talks about “momentum” in his book, The Compound Effect. He likes to call it BIG MO. As Hardy suggests, “Big Mo is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful and enigmatic forces of success. You can’t see or feel Mo, but you know when you’ve got it.”

CaffeineLike a great cup of coffee, Big Mo can give you a buzz and energy that can drive you through the entire day, week, month, or quarter.

The key to Big Mo as I see it, is to never lift your foot off the pedal. When times are great for your sales team, have them understand why they are successful and key doing what is working. When times are tough and sales are slow reflect on what worked in the past and get back to the basics. They may have to kick start their momentum, especially if they aren’t moving.

Within our business at X5 Management we work many businesses and sales professionals and we have observed that some have BIG MO way more often than others. Why is that? Momentum in anything we do is all about habits, consistency, discipline and a genuine desire to accomplish something specific. (i.e. Sales goals, revenue targets, etc.) Think of a well conditioned athlete. They wouldn’t workout and exercise for a few days and then blow it on bad eating habits that negate everything that they have been working on, or stop working out.

“Some” sales professionals actually stop doing what has brought them success in the past! Sales momentum is much the same. Keep up with consistent habits that produce results, and minimize the habits and routines that don’t add value. These small, but potentially valuable habits will help with momentum.

“Commitment is doing the thing you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left you.” -Darren Hardy

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The world awaits us!

by mikemack on September 5, 2014

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During the summer my weekly Blog posts will feature the “best of Mike’s Blogs from past months/years.

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We have the opportunity to do so many things.
SOME BIG…..some small. What is it that you want to do, accomplish or see?

I often get inspired by people who do something that may sound simple to some, or SIGNIFICANT to others. What actually inspires me the most is that they are doing something. The context of this week’s Blog title is to understand that “the world awaits us”. We can’t sit and wait for the world to be amazing or doing something for us!!

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If we want something, we have to go get it. (BIG or small).

What is the world waiting for you to do?

-Perhaps it is writing a book.
-Maybe you want to learn to play guitar.
-What about buying more farmland?
-Expanding and growing your business.
-Joining a charitable organization as a volunteer.
-Going to the gym and getting in better shape.
-Maybe you want to retire.
-Register for a course.
-Get married.
-What about a standup comedy gig?
-Plan an event.
-Give a speech in public.
-Take a trip to a foreign land.

The list is endless……………………..

“The world is your oyster. It’s up to you to find the pearls.”
― Chris Gardner, The Pursuit of Happyness

Make this week all that it can be for YOU.

“Connecting the Dots of Life’s Journey”
Mike Mack

Picture: The beautiful River Valley in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.

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