Are your clients not returning your calls? Are your emails a one way conversation? What are your clients current business priorities? In Episode 27 of the Strategic Insights Podcast, Tim Deuitch, Rick Van Natta, and Bo Smith share a 6 step process for updating your Value Proposition.
Tim Deuitch: 00:01 Hello, and welcome to the Strategic Insights Podcast brought to you by Strategic Enhancement Group. I am Tim Deuitch, Senior Performance Consultant with Strategic Enhancement Group. Today, I'm joined by two colleagues from SEG, Bo Smith, Performance Consultant, and Rick Van Natta, Senior Consultant. Welcome, gentlemen. Our mission at SEG is to Enhance Human Performance to Drive Business Results. This mission has never been more alive than it is today. This podcast comes to you during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a time when businesses are working with their own customers who have experienced significant change. Some of these changes are clear, like people working from home, and some are not as clear, like their true financial picture, changes in leadership, and changes in how they make decisions.
Our premise is, if your customers are going through changes like these, you need to reassess some aspect of your value proposition to them. They have new needs you must adjust to. We don't have to change, but if you don't, you risk losing some or all of their business. This is very much on our minds now. At SEG our own customers have changed, some slightly, some greatly, and that brings us to today's focus. We want to share an approach we use to ensure our clients are prepared to succeed and able to deliver that new value that their customers need. So important, as you listen in today, know that Strategic Enhancement Group can help you and your company. We urge you to contact us if any aspect of this approach resonates with you. We're extremely passionate about this moment, and we're ready to help. Let's get started.
Rick, the first question is to you. What do you think about this notion that a company's value proposition in these times really may need to change?
Rick Van Natta: 02:11 Tim, thanks for asking. In our new world, customers have different needs. As a result, companies have to adjust their value proposition for their customer. This also must include company resources, such as financial resources, supply chain, safety, capacity, and timing. Additionally, priorities within the organization can change. There may be very different considerations now.
Tim Deuitch: 02:37 Exactly. Bo, why is it that if a company needs to adjust its value proposition, these things that Rick just described like supply chain, and safety, and so forth. It has to examine the ability to deliver on these changes. Why can't they just pivot with the skills and systems they already have in place?
Bo Smith: 03:00 Well Tim, as Rick said, organization's priorities can change and that's happening right now. Let me give you an example. I recently was in a virtual sales seminar where an IT firm's Vice-President of Sales spoke of how they're adjusting to the pandemic. They do a lot of business with the government. I don't have to tell you, government revenues are down. Budgets are being cut. The firm decided for the time being that the type of sales call to existing customers needed to change to one of education and support rather than selling. Salespeople previously had been expected to make 10 to 12 face-to-face selling calls a week. That can't happen right now. This company, now they have some salespeople making virtual calls from their home office in their bathroom. So, face to face had to change to virtual with a different message.
This company temporarily got rid of sales quotas. They had to develop new systems and skills, delivering differently. Priorities and objectives changed, that made the role of managers change as well as what they measure. The company re-looked at its value proposition and in today's environment, they recognized they had to deliver differently.
Tim Deuitch: 04:20 Well, two things are really interesting about what you just said, Bo. Making calls from the bathroom, that's new. I think we could help with that, but I just think that's actually pretty funny and an interesting reality today. The other thing is the role of managers. You introduced how the role of managers needs to shift, and we'll be addressing that as we talk today.
Let's shift our conversation to the how of knowing what and where to adjust to, to deliver on a new value proposition. This is an area that Strategic Enhancement Group has significant experience. So, now what I want to do is paint a picture for you. In your mind's eye, picture a bridge, and it's not a small one. The bridge I'm thinking of is the shape of an arc. As kids and adults, we've all driven across large bridges where nearly every 40 feet, we're gifted this unique view of the environment and of our destination. We're more attentive on this type of bridge. If we were reading a book, we put it down. Maybe we were listening to some music and we stop because our eyes scanned both sides of the bridge, and we look to the other side, the destination. We're just flat out, seeing things differently.
At SEG, we take clients through this experience in moments like this, and we call this process the Bridge (Bridging the Gap between Learning and Business Results™). The components of the Bridge, these 40-foot sections, represent a process we take to help a client achieve new business results. Given all that's taken place today, we recognize that many of our own clients need to walk that bridge again and that's where we're helping. The Bridge consists of six components. We'll discuss them a little bit more in depth one at a time, but here they are in summary. Number one, the first step onto that bridge is to establish your Focus. What we mean by that is the objectives. The new objectives that you're after and the strategies that you intend to take to attain those objectives.
The second component is to Identify. Identify the skills and competencies, and maybe the culture required to actually execute the strategies that you're after. The third component is to Assess and Select. Simply stated, this means you're assessing the competencies of your team in the context of those skills that you know you've identified. In other words, is your team ready to deliver those skills and where they're not, you select the areas that you must develop. Fourth is Develop. Deliver their training. Help train your people specifically in those skills that you know you need to shore up. Fifth, Reinforce. This is where those skills, that training comes to life. It's coaching and it's practice, and you reinforce these new skills to make sure that they're applied well. Then six, now you're coming off the bridge. Six is to Measure, using tools that help you understand the degree to which your employees are using these skills and behaviors as you want them to be. It's not just about measuring bottom line as the test, it's are people behaving and using these skills differently?
Okay. So there's the six components. Let's take that first step onto the Bridge and dig a little deeper. That step is Focus. Bo, you've run businesses throughout your career. Why is establishing this new focus so important as the place to begin?
Bo Smith: 08:07 Tim, it's because a number of businesses won't be around, if they don't re-look at the new business environment and make adjustments. Firms with clear missions, core values, and good cultures should try to stay true to those, but it's likely that how they do what they do, their vision may change. There may be a new path requiring revisiting the strategic plan. This will clarify the new outcome they want. Then it's important to communicate this new business focus to everyone in the company, so all are on the same page.
Tim Deuitch: 08:42 The strategies, also communicating the strategies that help achieve this vision are just as critical, wouldn't you say?
Bo Smith: 08:49 Absolutely.
Tim Deuitch: 08:51 So now, let's move from Focus to Identifying. Now Rick, what do we mean by Identify, and why is that so important at this stage?
Rick Van Natta: 09:01 Well Tim, in this step, we're really identifying our resources to achieve the change required. This helps us to avoid assumptions about what's needed and keeps us from looking at people through an old lens. I spent the majority of my life working in photography. While the focus is critical to a clean picture, you have to understand the composition, and that's really what we're talking about. People change over time. We want to confirm not only to the needs and the next steps, but do our people actually have the skills and abilities to achieve the desired state? Many organizations referred to this as competencies. It's about what you can actually do.
Tim Deuitch: 09:42 My experience in this area of Identify, Rick, has been that a lot of clients just jump over this piece. You wouldn't think they would, but they just jump to and say, "Well, we need new sales training. We just need sales training," as opposed to looking at what specific skills they need. Have you found this in your experience?
Rick Van Natta: 10:03 Yes sir, absolutely, without understanding what a person can actually do. Knowledge is important. Don't let me understate that, but you have to have that ability and that bench strength to be able to achieve results.
Tim Deuitch: 10:16 Right. So, let's move to that next step up on the Bridge. We're reaching the crest of the Bridge where it becomes clear to us what we should work on most. That step is called the Assess and Select phase. Now that we've identified the competencies we need, we want to assess our current competencies of our teams and managers. We don't make assumptions.
Sports teams, orchestras, and dance companies are pretty instructive here. Every season their environments change, and every year they have to assess their talent to make sure they're equipped to compete or deliver. In the current business environment, this type of assessment is especially important and for two reasons. One, is it helps us avoid assumptions about what we have in place. We don't want to assume we are just as capable of doing what we need to do now as we did before. Two, we can also use this time to assess managers. As Bo mentioned before, we're back to the managers assessing their ability to ensure the success of their teams.
Once we've done that assessment, it's time to Select. It clarifies the skills and behaviors that need to be developed when we select well. We point to the area specifically where the training needs to take place. This selection moment can save a lot of money and time by pinpointing the right development areas. So Bo, in your experience, what is the right selection? How does that actually save a client money and time?
Bo Smith: 11:55 Well Tim, once assessments have been done, the firm doesn't have to guess about what talent it has. That ensures you have the right people with the right skills. You may have learned that there are skill or behavior gaps. Some on the team may need further development with specific training. You may discern that some won't be able to adjust and hiring may be necessary. At a time like now when budgets are particularly stressed, all this saves you time and money.
Tim Deuitch: 12:23 I've never worked with a client where when we really, really honed in on specifically what skills we needed to focus on, I've never worked with one where it didn't actually save money from the original conversation. Now that we've reached the top of that bridge, we have a view of the environment that we didn't have when we started. We know our objectives. We've identified the skills we need, and then the ones we need to develop. We're on the same page. We're now ready to move past the crest and to invest in our people.
The fourth step is Develop the skills and behaviors that we need. Rick, what would you say are the most essential aspects of developing skills mostly among adults, the areas that many organizations overlook at that training moment?
Rick Van Natta: 13:11 Yes, absolutely. Preparing is probably the number one thing that's overlooked unbelievably. You need to make sure that the training is tightly relevant to the participant and actually builds the skills that helps a person achieve their business goals. There's nothing worse than being sent to a training session for skills that you've already got. Another thing is the involvement of leadership. Training demonstrates leadership's commitment to employee success, but the presence of managers and leaders proves the company is actually serious about the direction of the company and the employee success. There's nothing more solid as far as a statement goes, from leadership being present for the training and participative in the process.
Tim Deuitch: 13:59 I would guess, wouldn't you agree Rick, that with all that we're going through now and all businesses are going through it, the presence of leaders is perhaps more important than it's ever been. Would you agree?
Rick Van Natta: 14:11 I absolutely agree. I think that one of the things that we're seeing right now is almost a vacuum of leadership, the non-presence. People looking for direction, looking for answers, and looking for support. It doesn't mean that as a leader, you can't say, "I don't know," but you need to be there to support the people and help us all get through this.
Tim Deuitch: 14:34 Absolutely. We've delivered that training and now it's on to step five, and that's Reinforcement. We've installed new skills and behaviors, and it's time to ensure true development takes place. Bo, tell us from your experience, what value you place on reinforcement and the keys to its success?
Bo Smith: 14:55 It's essential, Tim. A number of studies have shown that up to 85% of learning is lost without reinforcement. Many organizations train their people in needed skills, and then they don't go to the next step of ensuring the application of the training. As a result, the newly gained skills are lost. In order to succeed, the new skills must be practiced and supported within the organization. We at SEG have a number of strategies to accomplish this. Reinforcement is a vital step for an organization to achieve the desired change in behaviors and processes.
Tim Deuitch: 15:30 Absolutely. From that reinforcement point, let's move to the sixth and final component. The element that proves we've moved to the other side of the Bridge, and that's Measurement. Generally, there's four levels of measurement. We start with that smile test, course evaluations from training and so forth, but that's really just how did the training day go. The other three areas to assess are learning, what was actually learned? What is that behavior change, or what is the degree to which we've changed behaviors? Bo, you speak to that so importantly in the reinforcement piece. Then finally, what's the ROI? It's bottom line, but it's also, what's the actual return from training?
Measurement done well takes us beyond anecdotal examples, and tells us if we're achieving as a body what we set out to do. Rick, in your mind, what are the most powerful benefits of measuring your progress down to these levels, learning, behavior change, and ROI?
Rick Van Natta: 16:35 We need to confirm what's working and what's not in an objective fashion. We need to know if we're achieving the key performance indicators that we set out to achieve when starting this change process. It may be the actual ROI, or it may be another indicator. This is about knowing versus assuming what the real differences are to be able to determine actual performance.
Tim Deuitch: 17:01 Bo and Rick, I'll ask you this question in a little bit. Fair to say all of our clients, the toughest area we have with them is actually getting them to do this measurement. In the beginning of a relationship, they all talk about Measurement as being important, but actually measuring is a challenge for them. Why do you all think that's so?
Rick Van Natta: 17:23 Well Tim, I know that my own work in this area for the past 20 years is because we typically don't sit down and really think through what it is we're trying to achieve. We talked a little bit about preparing for the training. We talked about focus. We talked about identifying skills. We need to go back and actually look to make sure that we actually achieve what we set out to do.
Coming back with an ROI can be a challenge a lot of times because so many things go into your bottom line, which is what everybody really wants to start off and say, "Well, I just want to make things better." No, let's really focus in and zoom in to see what we have to measure and set some KPIs and go back out after the fact. Let's not just send them to training and say, "Okay, it's all fixed now." Let's go through all these steps to get across that bridge and not fall in the water along the way.
Bo Smith: 18:19 Tim, I think as well, there are firms out there in this COVID environment where they've had to pivot, and do things differently, and measure things differently, and they don't think the tools exist right now for measurement. But actually, at SEG, we have a variety of different measurement methods that we can help them with.
Tim Deuitch: 18:41 We do. Rick, taking us back to the Bridge. Imagine crossing all the way over the Bridge and really at the end, not intending to actually leave the Bridge but falling into the water. I love that analogy. Thank you, Rick. Thank you, Bo.
So, we've covered a lot of information and let's review quickly. Our mission at SEG is to Enhance Human Performance to Drive Business Results. The basis of this podcast is the knowledge that all of our customer relationships have changed in some material way. These changes require us to examine our value proposition and adapt internally, so that we're capable of delivering this new value needed by our customers.
At SEG, we call the process of examination, the Bridge. A six-part path that we take to ensure our client's investment puts them in the best position to succeed today. These six components are, a quick review again. Number one, Focus. Define the desired outcomes that you have right now and the strategies to get you there. Number two, Identify. Identify the skills needed to achieve the desired results and to deliver on those strategies. Number three, Assess and Select. Assess your competencies, understand your current streaks of weaknesses, and as a result, select the weaknesses that you know you need to develop. Number four, Develop. Deliver those learning paths and those training sessions to help employees get stronger in the areas you need them to be. Number five, Reinforce. This is where those skill areas and those muscles get strengthened as much as possible. Practice and coach to the new skills and behaviors. Number six, Measure. We've spent a lot of time on this because it's so important to assess the degree to which we've moved the needle on the behaviors we need, and certainly to assess the results against them.
Six components to help you reboot for these times. As you return to operation, we wish you the best to adjusting to your own and your customers' needs. If you do, we're certain you'll build more loyal and profitable business relationships and get everybody through these times. Finally, two things before we close. First, Rick and Bo, thanks very much for joining us.
Rick Van Natta: 21:18 Thanks Tim. Guys, it was really a pleasure for me to be a part of this, and I hope this was helpful for our listeners.
Bo Smith: 21:24 Tim and Rick, thank you for having me.
Tim Deuitch: 21:26 Thanks guys. As we said at the beginning, we're here to help. We can help with the full path across the bridge or any specific component. If this approach resonates with you, please contact us. We are extremely passionate about this work and we're ready to help. To get started, simply contact us.
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