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The Best Advice I’ve Ever Received (in 25 Years!)

john(1)It’s taken me a couple of weeks to sit down and write this blog, and I think one of the main reasons is that facing up to 25 years in the business must mean that I am officially old!

I certainly didn’t feel very old or confident as a 16 year old turning up for an interview in 1989 in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. In fact, I think that 90% of the reason I was there was to keep my Mum happy. Having been told by the school guidance counsellor a year prior that it might be better for me to ‘try a new learning environment’ (code for “We don’t want you here anymore”), Mum would strategically leave the ‘Situations Vacant’ column of the newspaper open for me to read every morning!

One day she saw an ad for a ‘Trainee Sales Rep’ position and told me to apply on the basis that I could probably talk my way out of an Iranian firing quad, so sales must have been the right path for me. Two interviews later (one which I had to take my Mum too – Oh the embarrassment) and I was hired as a fresh faced 16 year old with no idea, but definitely not short of an opinion! Fast forward 25 years and here I am living in Sydney having been appointed CEO of the ESG group 5 years ago…. And it’s been an amazing ride! Read more…

Be The Best Hot Dog You Can Be

Hot-Dog-Blog

I think finding your purpose in business is important, as is deciding what kind of leader you want to be and then putting yourself on a personal quest of continued learning.

I believe that it is the only way that we grow as individuals. Anyone that thinks they have learned everything that they need to know in life is foolish. We live in a time and age where change is dynamic and it is exponentially happening faster and faster.

It becomes vital to know exactly who you are and why you want to be that person. Every person finds this out in different ways. Personally, I have always prospered from listening to what other people have to say. I enjoy reading and I understand how fundamental it is in learning, but I have always taken the words of people I respect and regard closely with much more gravity than anything that has ever come from a book. Read more…

The Wonderful Thing About Ripples

ESG Asia Pacific Blog_Ripples

A very good friend of mine explained to me once how the whole idea for his organisation came from throwing a rock into a lake. The rock was small and the lake was huge, but the idea that the ripples in the water created by the rock could have a long lasting impact just wouldn’t leave his head. Because of this, his organisation is now doing amazing things all across the globe.

We often think that it’s impossible as individuals to make a difference, but if you consider the ripple effect that just one simple action can have, then you might just start something or get involved in something that can actually have a wide reaching, positive impact with limitless ripples. Read more…

How We Managed To Find Leaders

In April last year, I made a conscious decision to replace the word ‘Manager’ in a number of job titles within the company with ‘Leader’. It might seem like a small change to some people, but to me the two words are of highly varied meaning. A manager is a middleman, a person who processes information, follows rules and facilitates orders. Leaders are driven to do something more, and the hint is in the word, they are empowered to lead. A Leader is an ambassador for purpose; they carry the torch on behalf of a company and make choices that will gain results for both the individual and the business.

At ESG, any team member with the title ‘Leader’ is asked to demonstrate these qualities. They are given the autonomy to go out and build what they will with their role. Of course they are still given the support they need in order to reach their goals but they are in no way burdened by the cumbersome task of having to report on every movement they make to upper management as is the case in a corporate organisational flow. And the key to engendering this culture of real, honest Leadership is instilling the knowledge within any team member that there is room for personal growth and development.

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Dr Seuss’s Thoughtful Consumption

I have sat down with my children and watched the movie ‘The Lorax’ countless times. It’s a fun, vibrant movie adapted from the Dr Seuss classic. My kids love watching it and funnily enough so do I, but when I’m watching the movie, I have to assume that I am seeing something that they aren’t; a hidden message that might go over the heads of the young but one that certainly resonates with me.

The Lorax is a curious creature and, while I like to think that we don’t share any traits in the looks department, we definitely subscribe to similar ideologies. We both advocate progressive thought toward conservation, consideration for future generations’ needs and the want to do your part in making the world a better place. In fact I have been referring to all these ideals for years under the blanket term ‘Thoughtful Consumption’.

The Lorax is ‘the voice of the trees’ and at one point in the movie he makes this very bold statement;

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

I find this statement very compelling for two big reasons. Firstly, for Dr Seuss (Theodor Geisel, for those playing at home) to have penned this entertaining children’s tale in 1971 with an in-between-the-lines demonstration of Green-thought pioneering, shows an astonishing amount of foresight.

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Ways to get the Best from your Sales Team

I was recently asked about how I motivate sales people to reach and exceed targets, initiate new business, and persist – even when it’s a tough market.

It starts with selecting the right people. Whilst good sales skills can be taught – you don’t have to be a ‘natural born seller’ –there are key characteristics a salesperson needs to embody, including: being highly motivated and enthusiastic; being self-confident with great communication skills; being able to listen well and eager to learn; persistent and copes with rejection; competitive; has attention to detail. The person must also fit your organisations unique DNA – if you are a SME or a family business, you should think long and hard about hiring someone with an extensive corporate background.

Then you must set expectations. Sales people perform best with objective and clear performance standards and measures. Set realistic goals have regular team meetings or phone conferences to gain feedback and assess progress.

Give people the tools to get the job done. If your team don’t have the resources to achieve their goals, that will obviously hinder their performance and lead to frustration. Giving them sales, data and communication tools they need to perform at their best can be the difference between them reaching their targets or not.

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How Social is your Marketing Mix?

Social media will become one of the dominant customer engagement tools in the next three to five years, according to an IBM survey of more than 1700 global CEOs released last year.

Although only 16% of those surveyed currently engage customers through social media, 57% anticipate doing so in the few years, a proportion that places the channel behind only face-to-face methods of interaction (67%), and ahead of websites (55%) and call centres (31%).

Customer engagement and insights are the main benefits of social media marketing. Take Facebook. Unlike other advertising mediums, it gives your business an opportunity to find people to interact with because THEY, not you, have invited you to interact with them.

Want B2B leads?

For business to business web traffic, social media accounted for five per cent of leads in 2012, per results from an Optify study. Comparing the largest players within the social media space, Facebook was the dominant driver of site visits, at a majority 54% share, followed by Twitter (32%) and LinkedIn (14%). But, when it came to leads, Twitter was far and away the most important social media source, generating 82% share of leads, compared to just 9% each for Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Long Live the Cold Call

As ESG expands its marketing and social programs, I thought it was timely to blog about the art of cold-calling. It’s too easy to dismiss the cold call as an outdated sales method when we can market for leads and research our target markets so much that we know their likes, dislikes, their birthdays, their favourite drinks etc.

Sadly, only a few marketing programs will generate enough leads to eliminate the need for cold calling. Much as I wish this were not so, but even the richest companies do not have the marketing budget to eliminate the need for sales teams to stop cold calling. Marketing enables sales to occur. It may bring in warmer leads, but they will never convert unless a talented sales person picks up the phone.

It all comes down to making quotas for your sales teams. Firstly, calculate how many initial appointments are needed each year to fill the pipeline to the right size in order to make quota. Then, figure out where those appointments are going come from. If you think you can get all of those appointments just from marketing and research, great. However, if you don’t think those functions will fill your funnel, you need to start closing the gap with cold calls.

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Africa 101

I have just returned from a two week volunteer trip to Africa with the Global Volunteer Network and the ESG Foundation. The purpose of my trip was to better understand one of the main projects we are supporting as a business via the ESG Foundation, and also to spend a week on a Global Volunteer Network “Distribution Trip” to visit several projects in Uganda where money that has been raised by Eat So They Can had been previously distributed.

It was without question one the most amazing experiences of my life.

I’ve been back for a week now and I still can’t find the words to answer the question I have been asked a thousand times since I got home “how was your trip”? …. I think I’ve said “Inspiring”, “Rewarding” and “Amazing” so far, but these just don’t come close to accurately conveying the feelings I had when I was there and how my thinking and beliefs have changed since leaving Sydney only a couple of weeks ago.

The first feeling I distinctly remember was one of embarrassment when we first sat down with Leslie, the Director of “The Real Uganda” https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Real-Uganda/ who hosted the GVN week long trip and has lived in Uganda for the past 9 years. In 30 mins listening to her talk I realised that 99% of what I thought I knew about Africa and specifically helping people there needed a complete rethink. I was probably like a lot of people in the developed world who really want to help but thought that sending money or building schools was the answer (it makes you feel good too right?)…. Man did I have it wrong!

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How Differently Do You Think?

When I walked into an Apple retail store for the first time, I couldn’t believe it. Talk about challenging the traditional retail experience. All in line with Apple operating from its sense of purpose to ‘Think Differently’.In your local Apple store there are no cash registers. If you want to buy something, you flag down an Apple Genius wearing a brightly coloured T-shirt and hand over your credit card. They scan the item’s bar code with a specially outfitted iPhone or iPad, swipe your credit card and email you the receipt. The transaction can happen anywhere in the store.

Small retailers are already using iPads with Square technology, or something similar, to handle the main functions of cash registers — at a fraction of the cost.

Remember how Apple turned the music industry model on its head with iTunes?
If I were in the business of point of sale and selling cash registers, I’d start to be worried about obsoletion.

Read more…

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