October 17th, 2014

Canadian Job Market Review for Third Quarter 2014

Newspaper jobs sectionGeneral Observations:

At the end of the third quarter in 2014 it would be hard to suggest that this has been a banner year for Canada’s economy. There have been plenty of bumps along the way although we have thus far been lucky to avoid natural disasters such as the Alberta floods last year.

When writing this market review, I use a number of “indicators” and try to factor in Eagle’s own experiences, as one of Canada’s larger professional staffing companies. The intent is to give the reader a view “from the trenches” to support the bigger picture view from the statisticians. This may be used by job seekers to understand at a high level where the opportunities might be, and for potential employers wondering if they will be facing skills shortages.

The employment situation did improve this quarter over last, with the unemployment rate dropping to 6.8%, from 7.1% at the end of Q2. In the last 12 months Canada has added 150,000 jobs which is 78,000 more than could have been said at the end of Q2 (for the previous 12 months).

TSX One of the indicators that I use to gauge the state of the Canadian economy, and hence job market, is the TSX. All of the markets have been volatile for some time, with a general trend upwards. At the end of Q3, the TSX was at a high of 15,500 which was up 500 points since the end of Q2, when it was already high. Since then, however, we have seen the markets retract somewhat. As an indicator, it would suggest that companies listed on the TSX are generally healthy, which would suggest that they are hiring.

oil rigsCanada’s oil sector continues to face numerous problems. There is currently a surfeit of oil which has driven the price of a barrel down from the end of Q2 price of $108 to $85 a barrel at the end of Q3. Canada is keen to expand its market beyond the US; however, attempts to build pipelines are currently facing serious challenges both in the US and here in Canada, primarily on environmental grounds. Despite all of that, the oil patch enjoys low unemployment, good benefits and continues to be one of the better places to be looking for work.

Lots of paper moneyPerhaps a close second to the oil patch for employment opportunity is Canada’s financial sector, centered primarily in Toronto but with a healthy presence in Montreal. The highly competitive industry employs a huge number of people and seems to have an almost insatiable appetite for talent. Regulatory change, innovations in banking, technological advances and the need to address the retiring boomers are all reasons why the banks continue to hire.

Mobile antena. Communication conceptThe telecommunications sector is another very large sector that is always looking for talent. This is another very competitive environment, with a need to innovate and attract customers. The demands on their infrastructure, technology advancements, retiring boomers and expansion into new markets are all drivers of their need for people.

ConstructionThe construction industry is a great place to find work, both in the trades and in the head offices of the large companies. There are construction sites in most major cities with infrastructure projects, office towers and condo developments. There are also continued development in places like Fort MacMurray and the oil sands. To top the demand off, if you have ever tried to renovation project, small to medium sized repairs of just home alterations you will know how hard it is to find skilled tradespeople available.

Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments continue to struggle with cost containment; however, they are huge employers, and people with the right skills are always in demand. The downsizing is most often achieved through attrition and there is always work to be done. Regulatory change, policy development and general administrative needs dictate the need for a large and skilled workforce that receives competitive incomes and very attractive pensions and benefits.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The index continues to show an economy that has tepid growth and the latest reading of 112 is down slightly from the same period last year (113) but up from Q2 reading of 108. Here at Eagle we saw a drop of 5% in candidates applying for jobs, and an equivalent drop in demand from our clients. This can be attributed to a seasonal trend accounting for the summer holiday period. We do still see shortages of “in demand” skillsets, and a steady supply of candidates with skillsets in other areas.

More Specifically:

cn towerDemand in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is always fairly high, although we experience slightly less demand during the summer months. With the largest metropolitan area, the most head offices and the financial center for Canada, the GTA generates 60% of the talent demand here at Eagle. This is the city offering the best opportunities, and the hottest sectors would be the telecommunications sector, the financial sector, the insurance industry, the retail sector and the municipal and provincial governments. We don’t service the construction industry, but it too is a hot sector in the GTA (let’s not discuss the amount of road closures!).

The Saddledome in CalgaryCalgary is the “hub” for Western Canada as the capital of the oil patch. The city has the second largest number of head offices and, when coupled with the attractive tax situation in Alberta and the low unemployment rate in the province (4.4%), it is a popular destination for companies to set up in business, and hence to find employment. Saskatchewan enjoys the lowest unemployment rate of the Canadian provinces at 3.5% so it too is a great place to be looking for work.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal and “the Maritimes”. Montreal continues to be fairly busy, particularly in the financial sector, the telcos and the construction industry. There is also some demand in St John’s, NFLD (population about 200,000), and in Halifax (approx. 400,000) but they are not big markets and the unemployment rate in the Eastern provinces is amongst the highest in Canada. The Federal Government in Ottawa continues to move ahead on some of its large initiatives, creating some demand, and this market is looking healthier for professionals than in some time.

The types of people that seem to be in constant demand from our clients have been fairly consistent. We see a consistent demand for Program Managers and Project Managers while Business Analysts are also always in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics and mobile expertise are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting, side we see a consistent need for financial analysts, accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that sees plenty of demand


So far 2014 has been very similar to 2013, with the unemployment rate slowly edging down in a two steps forward, one step backward kind of way. The stock market has done quite well, but the economy has not followed, suggesting that there is still a lack of confidence which otherwise would have fuelled a boom. Government cost cutting, uncertainty in the oil patch and a general global malaise seem to restrain us here in Canada. The US economy has recovered faster this year and typically that has a positive effect on Canada’s economy so perhaps we will see a strong fourth quarter. The retirement “bubble” of baby boomers should start to be felt over the coming year, so that will create employment opportunities and advancement opportunities for job seekers.

We expect to see more skills shortages in our knowledge economy, partly fuelled by the boomers retiring, but also caused by our education system not turning out the right skill sets and the advancements in technology creating a shortage as the skills catch up.

The unemployment rate around 6.8%, (7.1% in Ontario) is better than it has been for more than 5 years, and if we can keep at the level or better, it will be a good sign for job seekers. However the employment rate for professionals is more like more 3.5% or 4%, which is very near to full employment. This means that professionals should be able to find work if they are willing to be flexible in their demands.

For those people willing to go where the work is, we see continued opportunity in the oil patch, with obvious demand in Fort McMurray and all areas related to the oil sands. The cities with higher talent demand include the GTA, Calgary, Regina, Montreal, Edmonton and to a lesser degree Winnipeg, Vancouver and Saskatoon. The industry sectors that have the most demand have not changed and include banking, insurance, construction, telecommunications and the sectors that serve those industries.

That was my quarterly look at the Canadian job market and some of its influences.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
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October 14th, 2014

Sales Conversations

Kevin on his new motorbike ... Kawasaki VaqueroI recently bought a new motorcycle, not the one I had intended to buy, but I am happy with my purchase and the fact that it was significantly less expensive than my intended purchase did not hurt.

I had intended to buy a Harley Davidson. It was an emotional decision based on the brand, my experience renting them and the fact that I could afford it. The problem began when I started to talk with the dealership. I was buying a demonstrator and had an expectation that a demonstrator would not be selling for the “list price” as a new vehicle. I had made a deposit, and when deciding to close the deal asked the question, “What are you going to do on the price, given that it’s a demo?” was given the answer “Nothing”.

I asked again, “The bike is a demonstrator with 500kms on it, surely you are not going to charge me full price?” The answer was “Yes”.

I was emotionally invested in buying the bike.

I had made a deposit.

I had sent very clear buying signals.

I ended up walking from the deal. (The bike is still for sale 3 months later).

The salesperson did not engage me in a conversation. She had no idea what I needed to close the deal. She did not try to explain their policy. She did not offer any kind of carrot.

If she had offered some discount on accessories, or clothing or service or… something, I would probably have gone ahead.

Conversations are wonderful things… you can actually understand what people are looking for, what their “hot buttons” are, when they are likely to buy, what pain points they have, why they are looking to buy, what else they might be interested in and all kinds of fairly relevant information that can help a salesperson to guide a buyer to actually buy.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

A picture of a man pulling an ass with the phrase when you assume you make an ass out of you and meYet too many salespeople ASSUME.

They will assume they know what you want and why you want it.

They will assume that if you are asking for a discount then you must NEED one.

They will assume that if you question a contract clause then it must be a problem for you.

They will assume that because one client baulked at a price, then all clients will react that way.

They will assume that because you are a senior person you won’t take time to meet with them.

They will assume ALL KINDS of things that make sense to THEM.

As salespeople we just don’t know what is important to a buyer until we have a conversation.

If the Harley salesperson had engaged me in a conversation instead of shutting me down she most likely would have got a sale.

“I was so sure that I knew what they needed and what I wanted to sell them that I never stopped long enough to find out what it was they wanted to buy.” Chris Murray

Ask questions… and listen! It is amazing what you might learn!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?

October 10th, 2014

10 Tips For Dealing With Major Change!

change quote from SocratesI have written often about the need for planning, to have goals to aim for and a roadmap (tasks) that will get you to your goal.

Those goals can be personal or professional, they can be about you, the business that you run, a charity you are involved with or any other entity that needs to have a future.

Developing a plan is tough. You have to give it some time and energy, you need to put deep thought into the plan, you will likely need to coordinate the thoughts of multiple people to create your plan.

Executing on your plan is even tougher… because developing a plan is the “sexy” part, execution requires a discipline, routine, stamina and a willingness to keep pushing towards the goal. It can also be very rewarding, as you knock off those milestones along the way, tick off the “To DO” items that you complete and celebrate the small successes you can feel the positive momentum. You know you are moving in the right direction and that, even with the inevitable bumps along the way, you are moving inexorably towards that goal.

Sometimes plans change!

It could be external factors such as economic conditions, regulatory change, market changes or competitive situations. It could as easily be internal factors such as company changes, management changes, new better opportunities arising or staff changes.

Whatever the cause, it is likely to have a big impact on you. You developed a plan, you were working your plan, you have had some success and now the plan needs to change. It is quite likely you will experience the 5 stages of grief, although obviously not to the same extent. However denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are all likely to be felt!

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” Steve Maraboli,

So what do you do…

  1. You have to get to acceptance as soon as possible.
  2. Be kind to yourself. Any large change can feel tough initially, even if the change is ultimately for the good.
  3. Vent. Talk about it to your trusted advisors, family and friends. Let some of the emotion go so that you can move on to what comes next.
  4. Self talk. Change brings opportunity, good lessons will have been learned along the path and anything you achieved, and experience gained, can be harnessed for the future. Whether the change is due to personal failure, situation change or other factors there is now a new opportunity to pursue.
  5. Understand the change. Listen, ask questions, REALLY understand and under no circumstances be the “naysayer”, sometimes called the “devil’s advocate”. At this stage let other people do that.
  6. Understand how you can contribute to the change. How can you be involved? What will you learn? How will you be viewed? What can you do to maximize the situation?
  7. Begin the planning process again. If it is your project then it is a project plan. If it is someone else’s project that you are a part of, then bring value to them.
  8. Give the new plan a chance. Don’t make hasty decisions. Do not be emotional. Focus on the positives and plan for success.
  9. Re-evaluate. Once things have settled down and execution against the new plan is happening, take stock of the situation. In the cold light of day are you on board with the new plan? Can this work for you? Can you bring value? Will you learn?
  10. Commit. Whatever you decide to do, do it well!

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” Andy Warhol.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?

October 9th, 2014

10 Company Culture Tips for Leaders

Jack Welch quote on cultureMost companies would like to think everyone is aligned with the mission, vision and goals of the company.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Henry Ford

The simplicity of Ford’s quote is powerful, and it is a true statement. The tough part is to actually get everyone on the same page!

Culture is driven from the top, and needs to be embraced throughout the organization. Yet people have their own ideas about what they like or dislike, what they will “buy in to” and what they feel is being rammed down their throats.

This individuality is both a blessing and a curse.

You don’t want to have people working for you that fundamentally don’t agree with your culture, your philosophies or your way of doing business.

You also don’t want a bunch of “followers” who mindlessly do what they are told.

The only way that I know to tackle this conundrum is to create a culture that works for the kind of people you want to attract. People that fit your culture will feel comfortable working there and those that don’t fit likely won’t last very long. Over time you develop ways to hire that will better eliminate those that don’t fit, reducing the number of hiring mistakes.

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” Simon Sinek

This is of course a simplistic 30,000 foot view because of course the reality is much more difficult.

Culture should be a conscious choice, not just a byproduct of local leaders and influential hires. The slightly longer version (maybe the 10,000 foot version) of how to achieve that would include:

  • Decide what values are important to your company… and communicate them regularly.
  • Understand what your company does, and does NOT do… and communicate it, regularly.
  • Have a direction for the company that is clear… THIS is where we are going! AND communicate it regularly.
  • Make sure that your business direction and values are aligned.
  • Make sure that any business decisions support your values and business direction.
  • Do not be swayed from your company objectives unless it is through a conscious strategic decision, certainly not a local ad-hoc business call!
  • Hire people that can buy into the company culture.
  • Do not hang onto people that are not a fit… the longer they are there, the more they damage your culture.
  • Communicate your values, vision and mission with passion… demonstrating how important it is.
  • Most importantly… LIVE those values.

Leaders have a responsibility to their company and to the people who work there, to embody the values of the corporation. Leaders who expect people to “Do what I say, not what I do” are fooling themselves if they think anyone buys that act in 2014!

“No company, large or small, can succeed over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” Jack Welch

If you can have a company where everyone is pulling in the same direction, then you can achieve anything!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company) Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?

October 8th, 2014

Accountability Is A Huge Differentiator

Quote about creating your own destinyPeople who are accountable accept responsibility without excuse.

Entrepreneurs demonstrate their accountability by overcoming the many obstacles in their path on the journey to success… whether they are ultimately successful or not. If they are not successful, they will no doubt accept responsibility, learn from it and try again!

“Accountability breeds response-ability.” Stephen R. Covey

Leaders who are accountable find a way to “make it happen”.

They are big on answers, not so big on excuses.

The dog does not eat their homework.

The economy is not an excuse for them.

People “not answering their calls” is not an excuse for them.

The plan was too ambitious is not an excuse for them.

They don’t blame their employees, but they do hold their employees accountable.

They are not always successful in their goal, but they always accept responsibility for their results… without excuse.

They have a plan, they work their plan, they adjust their plan and they know they are going to be successful… because they are willing to do what it takes.

“When you’re in business you know what needs to be done. You have your goals in front of you and 99 percent of the time you know how to do it. Accountability is usually the missing piece.” Jason Mickey)

There are people who TALK about being accountable… but it is very transparent that it is just talk.

There are people who will work hard, not succeed and not accept that their failure is their own.

There are people that will be super smart, not work very hard and bemoan the fact that they were not successful.

There are people who will be successful because of circumstance, but when the going gets tough they will have excuses.

Those people who have that inbuilt drive to achieve their goals will be successful in their careers, even if they have bumps along the way.

People are not born accountable. They learn to be accountable. They understand that accountability is a huge differentiator for them.

Leaders who are not accountable will not last. They will reveal their true nature with their excuses, and their inability to deal with adversity.

“You don’t choose the day you enter the world and you don’t chose the day you leave. It’s what you do in between that makes all the difference.” Anita Septimus

The best thing that you can do for yourself is to take accountability for your own destiny. Nobody is responsible for YOU, but YOU! Not your employer, your boss, your parents or the government.

Take responsibility, be accountable to yourself… and the rest will take care of itself.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!

Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!

Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?

October 6th, 2014

Ten Tips for Leaders Making Tough Decisions

Douglas McArthur quote about leadershipAny Leader needs to make tough decisions. CEOs tend to have the unique additional challenge of making such decisions as the final decision maker. It is a subtle, yet sometimes daunting, difference.

At any other level within an organization there is someone else to challenge/stop/change or just agree with the tough calls. The buck stops with the CEO which means she/he is ultimately responsible for all company decisions.

Experienced CEOs will generally get the calls right and know that, because they are not infallible, there will sometimes be mistakes. He/she knows that ultimately making a decision is always better than a “no decision” and most mistakes can be fixed if necessary.

Some leaders run into trouble, by making poor decisions, or by avoiding making decisions. In my experience there are a number of reasons for this:

  • They are unwilling to get/listen to the right input before making a decision.
  • They think they have all the answers themselves.
  • They become paralyzed by the amount of input to the situation requiring a decision.
  • They lack confidence in their ability to make the right call.
  • They are worried about upsetting some people with their decision.

If the leader having a problem is not the CEO, then the problem can be solved quickly by a decision made by a more senior executive.

If the leader having a problem is the CEO, the impact on the organization is significant. CEOs MUST be willing to make tough calls, and be seen to act on decisions. The majority of those decisions should be sound decisions. This builds confidence and trust, which in turn creates a healthy leadership team.

“Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” General George Patton

Here are some thoughts on my experiences as a CEO making tough calls.

  1. Get all of the input that you need, from whatever source. NOT just from your executive team.
  2. Truly listen. Some leaders “listen to talk”, you must “listen to understand”.
  3. Understand that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
  4. Be sensitive to those who will not like your decision.
  5. When it is a big decision, give yourself enough time, but don’t go beyond the “right amount of time”. If you have all the facts, and nothing is going to change, it is time to make your call.
  6. Make sure you are making a business decision and not an emotional decision.
  7. When the decision is complex I like to get outside of the office to think it through. My ideal is to get on my motorbike and let everything else go, it is amazing how often this brings clarity!
  8. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Listen before and explain after!
  9. Some people will need more time to understand and absorb your decision, if possible take the time to explain it to them.
  10. Know your own weaknesses, and get the right advisors to help you with those. I am not a detail guy, but I have detail people I trust implicitly.

“Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail. Deficiency in decision-making ranks much higher than lack of specific knowledge or technical know-how as an indicator of leadership failure.” John C. Maxwell

Tough decisions will define you as a leader, do not shy away from them!


October 2nd, 2014

Technology Industry News for September 2014

Depiction of a connected worldThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for September 2014. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of September in previous years …

dell logoFive years ago in September 2009 saw Dell pay $3.9 Billion for Perot Systems and Xerox buying ACS for $6.4 Billion. Ebay sold its majority holding in Skype to a group of investors for $1.9 Billion and Adobe shelled out $1.8 billion for web analytics company Omniture, in addition to buying Business Catalyst. Nortel sold its Enterprise Solutions unit to Avaya for $915 Million; EMC added a couple of acquisitions, Kazeon Systems and Fastscale technology; Raytheon picked up internet pioneer BBN and CA shelled out $200 million for NetQoS. Three years ago in September 2010HP bought 3PAR for $2.4 Billion and they also paid $1.5 Billion for Arcsight and 3M paid close to $1 Billion for Cogent. RIM bought a substantial part of DataViz, Ericsson beat out a local Ottawa based group in an auction for another piece of the defunct Nortel empire, CA bought Hyperformix; and AOL bought TechCrunch. In September 2011 Broadcom paid $3.7 Billion for NetLogic. Google was busy, buying restaurant reviewer Zagat plus acquiring 1,000 patents from IBM. Ottawa’s Zarlink was bought by Microsemi for $525 million. SAP bought Crossgate, Twitter bought Julpan and CSC bought Indian software testing company AppLabs, and Hitachi Data Systems continued the consolidation in the storage industry with the acquisition of BlueArc. September 2012 was a quiet month in M&A deals. Infosys increased its management consultancy capability with the $330 million purchase of Lodestone. Lenovo Microsoft logobought Stoneware, a software company focused on the cloud, and Ericsson bought ConceptWave. A couple of interesting investment moves saw Microsoft invest in Klout and Silicon Valley VC Chameth Palihapitiya invest in Xtreme Labs. In September 2013 Blackberry announced a quarterly loss of almost $1 million and laid off 4,500 people. Microsoft bought Nokia’s devices and services unit for more than $7 billion. Ebay paid $800 million for payment platform Braintree; Synnex bought IBM’s customer care division for $505 million; Rogers added to its data centre capacity with the $161 million purchase of Pivot Data Centres; Extreme Networks bought Entersys Networks for $180 million; and Manitoba Telephone Systems bought Epic Information Systems.

Which brings us back to the present …

IBM logoSeptember 2014 saw some big deals announced, including Microsoft’s $2.5 billion purchase of Mojang, the gaming company responsible for Minecraft, Lenovo’s $2.1 billion purchase of IBM’s x86 server business and Cognizant’s $2.7 billion purchase of healthcare company, Trizetto Corp. Hootsuite had an injection of cash and bought two companies, social telephony company Zeetl and social media marketing platform Brightkit. Google also made two acquisitions, biotech company Lift Labs and desktop polling company Polar. There were plenty more deals announced, including Yahoo’s $8 million purchase of cloud based document hosting company Bookpad; Cisco’s purchase of private cloud company Metacloud; SAP’s purchase of expense software company Concur; Blackberry’s purchase of virtual identity software startup Movirtu and Red Hat’s purchase of mobile app company FeedHenry.

HP logoOther than M&A news, the Canadian government seem to be heading down a harsh path with HP based on activity in Russia by an HP subsidiary … really? Larry Ellison has passed his CEO of Oracle role along to dual CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd; I hope they fare better than Blackberry’s former co-CEOs. The “always connected” PC seems to be on its way, which could prove handy for many situations.

US economic news, studies, surveys and reports all seem to be positive which is good news for that economy. Canada is a little more mixed with an 11,000 drop in jobs in August however upcoming job prospects seem to look good according to some surveys.

That is what I saw in the tech news for September. I will be back in just about a month. Until then Walk Fast and Smile!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?

October 2nd, 2014

Use a Meeting Agenda for Your Sales Calls

Born to win quote from ZiglarIt never ceases to amaze me how often a salesperson will come back from meeting a client, with absolutely no information of value.

Yes it is great that they are building a relationship with the client.

Yes it is great that the client always considers our company when looking for services from companies like ours, but it is tough to be prepared for their future needs if we don’t know what they are going to look like.

It is also tough to improve our service if we don’t understand what they like and dislike, from companies like ours.

It is hard to build professional credibility if all that is discussed is personal in nature.

“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” Zig Ziglar

There are many wins that can come from a client meeting, and one way to improve your chances of getting some of those wins is by using a meeting agenda.

Here are just 5 reasons why salespeople should use a meeting agenda:

  1. It builds credibility with the client, showing professionalism and an effort at bringing value.
  2. Creating an agenda forces you to think about the meeting and what you and the client should achieve from it.
  3. Everybody is busy, so sharing the agenda with your client and asking if they want to add to it will ensure the client’s needs are met too. This can even be done ahead of time.
  4. The agenda can help keep the meeting on time… again being respectful of the client and showing professional courtesy.
  5. The most important reason is to ensure you capture everything that you need during the meeting, and deliver any necessary messages.

What kind of things might be on an agenda?

Obviously there are many things depending upon your business, the nature of your relationship with this client and the objectives of this particular meeting. Here are some thoughts:

  • An understanding of how your company is viewed by the client. What they like and don’t like. You could even extend that to include competitors. (If you know what they like and dislike about the top supplier and others then you can adjust accordingly).
  • An understanding of future needs, upcoming projects, areas of pain.
  • An understanding of current needs… which should lead to an ask for the business.
  • An understanding of the organizational structure, such that you can improve your ability to service the client. This might lead into discussion of other contacts you might meet.
  • An opportunity for the client to add to the agenda.
  • A discussion about timing of the next meeting, try to get commitment before leaving this meeting to ease the timing of a next meeting.
  • Deliver any messages that need to be delivered. This could be anything.
  • An understanding about how well the client knows your company’s offerings, and clarification if necessary.
  • You might drop off a marketing item… which should be on the agenda. (It is not atypical for the salesperson to leave the meeting and discover that nice company pen still in their pocket!
  • Confirmation of the time available. If it is a 30 minute meeting then plan accordingly. I like to sit my watch in front of me and make sure the meeting ends on time.

There will likely be some personal discussion to build rapport and trust. This typically would not be on the agenda, but might be a way to get started before launching into the agenda.

Clients may be reticent to meet with you if they think you will waste their time. An agenda will demonstrate your understanding that their time is precious.

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” Charles Robert Buxton

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?

October 1st, 2014

How Salespeople Eat An Elephant

Sales is a process not an eventMost people will have heard the “eating the elephant metaphor“:

Question: How do you eat an elephant?

Answer: One bite at a time.

The metaphor is applied to any large problem… you break it down into manageable tasks that you can accomplish, one task at a time towards the bigger goal.

This metaphor applies nicely to the sales role because very often the goal for a salesperson will seem big. It might be “meeting a large quota”, or “establishing a territory”, or “getting new accounts”.

Those goals are specific, yet vague. They will have measurable metrics attached to them, but the roadmap for how to get there is often “hazy”. To the salesperson it might seem like “eating an elephant”. They may not know how to start, how to organize themselves or how to put together a plan for success.

Keeping with the metaphor, break the bigger problem down into “bite sized” pieces.

“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” Oprah Winfrey

If the problem is to meet a sales quota:

  1. List the clients that currently generate revenue for the company.
  2. Identify the probably revenue generation from those clients in the coming year.
  3. Identify the gap.
  4. Identify past clients that could fill the gap, or part of the gap. Estimate what revenue could be generated from those clients.
  5. Your goal will be the sales quota PLUS some percentage, to allow for slippage. This might be 20%.
  6. If you are still short of your sales quota * 1.2 then identify new clients (based on old relationships, known opportunities, referrals etc.) to fill the gap.
  7. Now identify all known contacts inside all of those clients and determine how often you need to meet with them.
  8. Focus your efforts commensurate with your expected return. If you expect your largest client to generate 40% of your target quota, then spend 40% of your time with them.
  9. For each client you will need an account strategy. This will include messages, competitive information, call plans, revenue targets.
  10. You will need to execute your strategies for each client, using great time management techniques… utilizing company resources as needed, calling on multiple people each visit, keeping focused on the goal.
  11. You will checkpoint yourself at a minimum of weekly (I suggest Friday afternoons). Your checkpoint will involve ensuring you are on target with your execution; changing up prospect clients if needed; readjusting revenue targets as necessary and generally re-setting your overall plan.
  12. Monday you get back at executing against your revised plan.

“We can no more afford to spend major time on minor things than we can to spend minor time on major things.” – Jim Rohn

It does not have to be complicated.

It does mean being organized.

The method benefits from good time management skills… To Do lists, calendar usage, priority setting.

Elephants are there to be eaten, and anyone can do it. It just needs to be done in a way that you can manage. One bite at a time!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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September 30th, 2014

Get The Critical Tasks Done!

Golda Meir quote about governing the clockEffective time management will make a difference in almost any job. As a salesperson I would credit time management with playing a huge factor in any success that I had.

Good time management will focus you on the most important tasks, prioritise your time, eliminate time wasters and make you your most productive.

The use of “To Do lists”, effective calendar use, a strong focus on prioritization of tasks, eradication of the dreaded procrastination and a strong work ethic will work wonders.

“The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: “I did not have time.” Franklin Field

Today I want to focus on one particular aspect of time management that people seem to have trouble with. It is about plugging time into your calendar for high return activities, especially when you are already busy.

In the staffing business that might mean recruiters finding time to interview great people, who might not be a fit for the jobs they are currently working on. It is difficult to take time away from a current search that seems to be the top priority and spending time being proactive with other candidates. The lifeblood of any good staffing company is access to a pool of great people who are ready or almost ready for their next assignment. If you don’t keep that pool fresh you will see declining results. This is a critical activity!

The same kind of situation holds true for a salesperson who needs to find time to meet new prospective clients when they are already busy servicing their existing clients. If a salesperson relies solely on their existing clients and does not keep growing, then ultimately, and sometimes very quickly, the situation can change. Key contacts leave or change jobs, a contract might be lost, the client may compete the business or the supplier company loses the good graces of a particular client. Any of these situations might leave the salesperson with a dilemma, a reduced income stream and no way to replace it. A good salesperson knows that looking for new clients and contacts is a critical activity.
“The essence of self-discipline is to do the important thing rather than the urgent thing.” Barry Werner

There are many such situations in all professions, where even though the impact is not immediate, the task is still critical. Find time to do those tasks. Let everything else fill in around those time slots, but treat those activities like gold.

If you have heard the parable of filling the jar with big rocks, small stones, sand and water (or coffee) then consider these tasks to be big rocks. Get them into your calendar first or the calendar will fill up with all those other things (sand, small stones) leaving no room for your most important activities!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?

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