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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Delegating

by Steve Edkin

Do you ever ask an employee for something you requested several days earlier and get a puzzled look? Or, get the response: “I didn’t know you wanted it today.” Or, even more baffling the employee tells you: “I don’t know how to do that.” These are the kinds of answers that cause many owners to hesitate when delegating.

Delegation—having someone else perform a task or two to your standards—is essential to the owner’s growth as well as your managers’. So why do so many people struggle with it?

When quizzed about their lack of delegation, owners often respond with answers like:

“It takes too long.”

“I’m not very patient.”

“It’s faster to just do it myself.”

“I have to be sure it is done right.”

“Maybe I don’t trust myself to really delegate.”

Do any of these sound familiar? Occasionally, an owner will have the realization that they aren’t confident about delegating—usually from a lack of experience or a full understanding of best practices. Maybe you need a better understanding of what to do and how to do it. Let’s take a look at how to get started. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you delegate:

Does your employee have the ability to handle the task? Before delegating a task, make sure your employee has the skillset required to complete it.
Are you clear about the knowledge and training needed? Even though you may already know how to complete a task, training your employees and being clear about your expectations will save you more time in the long run.
Does your reporting position have all the tools to complete the delegated task? Your expectation has to include this reality. It is pretty easy to see what can happen when your employees are allowed to get in over their heads. Without a clear understanding of how to complete the task, this can lead to a disaster for you and a negative experience for your employees.
Have you included a deadline? Not providing a deadline often leads to the dismayed response: “I didn’t know you wanted it today.” The deadline you assign with the delegation must include not just the day but the time as well. “I’ll need this back no later than 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday the 23rd.” That way there are no surprises.
Can your employee complete the task by the deadline you established? You cannot expect a direct report to work on the tasks you delegate if there is simply no time.

It is also helpful to check on the progress of the task you assigned out. You want these follow-ups to be a pleasant surprise to your delegatee. Keep follow-up notes in your Daily Time Log and reach out about progress. The staying in touch says, “This is important. Let’s make sure we work together on it.” It is another opportunity to develop your leadership skills. These seemingly simple questions can turn you into a more productive leader. But, it will require some practice. Here’s how you can get started:

First: Write down the tasks you’re doing that you know members of your team can handle.

Second: Use delegation as a way to help your employees grow. Will this task help make your employee utilize their skills?

Third: Talk with your employees and discuss the responsibilities you’d like them to take on, and the standards you have for the way the task should be completed.

Delegating can be scary. It can often feel negative and more time consuming. Why give up a task you know you can do perfectly well? Refusing to hand off tasks can make working ON your business even more of a challenge. Avoiding delegation only means you’re focusing on the day-to-day operations of the business and making more work for yourself. You can leverage your time—and give your employees an opportunity to grow—by getting help from your team.

If you polled a group of CMOs and asked them to name their favorite lead types, you’d probably hear a common refrain: Referrals.

Anecdotally, it makes sense, but research backs up the value of referrals, too. Numerous studies have shown that referred customers close faster and stay longer. Meanwhile, research from the University of Pennsylvania suggests referred customers also buy 16% more than their non-referred counterparts.

While many CMOs inherently understand the value of referrals, many marketing organizations aren’t prioritizing them. Instead, referrals and recommendations are typically viewed as the organic byproduct of a job well done. Exceed a customer’s expectations and the presumption is that the customer will reciprocate by singing your praises to their network.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way.

While referrals do happen organically, they’re never a given — even if customers love your business. A Texas Tech University study found that while 83% of customers say they’re willing to provide referrals after a positive brand experience, only 29% do. That chasm exists for many reasons, but it’s exacerbated by a failure to properly prioritize, manage, and incentivize a referral marketing program.

Thankfully, this is a relatively easy problem to fix, and doing so can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Just ask companies like Uber, Google, Dropbox, and Airbnb, all of which leveraged referral marketing to drive incredibly efficient (and sustainable) customer and revenue growth.

So, what’s the secret to referral marketing success?

It’s not rocket science. The strategies and technologies that companies like Airbnb and Google deployed are readily available and replicable. But for them to work, CMOs (and other marketing leaders within an organization) must prioritize and continually optimize their referral programs.

To understand what that means, here are some tips CMOs can use to transform customer referrals into a reliable revenue generator.

1. Help Customers Help You

For referral marketing to work, you can’t expect customers (or employees) to do all of the legwork for you. While the vast majority of happy customers say they’re willing to provide referrals, the truth is they’ll only follow through if the referral process is as simple as possible. This might mean implementing a software platform that provides all the tools and templates necessary to automate, track, and reward referrals at scale. Even if you don’t go that far, your goal should be to decrease the effort level required to deliver a referral.

2. Consider How (and When) You Ask

The best referral marketing programs operate with a deep understanding of who they’re targeting, where those people are active, and which incentives will drive positive actions. Studying your referral candidates’ motivations and preferences before you reach out is critical to success. If you offer the wrong incentive to the wrong customer in the wrong environment, your referral marketing program will fail to generate results.

3. Remember That Technology Doesn’t Solve Everything

While referral marketing can deliver massive bottom-line benefits, most programs aren’t maintenance free. Instead, like all strategic marketing initiatives, referral marketing programs thrive in an environment of perpetual optimization.

This is where referral marketing software becomes enormously valuable. With the right technology, you can create (and automate) much-needed process around monitoring, tracking, and incentivizing referrals. Why is this valuable? Over time, the analytics you generate from those processes will illuminate critical insight into the activities, channels, and customer personas that drive optimal results.

4. Make Referrals Part of Your Broader Strategy

In my experience, the highest performing referral marketing programs share a common thread: referrals are fully baked into every customer’s sales, marketing, and customer support experience. Referral CTAs are included on the company’s home page, and in blog posts, weekly newsletters, and social ads. Employee email signatures feature referral messaging. And the referral program is fully integrated with other critical systems (CRM, marketing automation, eCommerce technology, point-of-sale systems, optimization tools, etc.).

Is your program following referral marketing best practices?

For referrals to consistently deliver bottom-line results, they must be woven into who you are and how you operate. Without structure and commitment, you’re largely hoping that good things happen and the customers inherently know to refer their friends and colleagues to you. As we know from the stat above (83% of customers are willing to give a referral, but only 29% do), that’s a risky proposition.

That said, with the right approach, you can eliminate some of the randomness and uncertainty of referrals, and instead turn them into a predictable, scalable stream of high-quality revenue.

By Shawn Fergus

Ending a conversation at a networking event could be as hard as starting it in the first place. Have you ever been stuck with a weird person who keeps on talking about himself or had an awkward moment when you want to ask for a card but not sure how? These are my top tips on how to finish your conversation at a networking event efficiently:

Be reasonable about your agenda at the event and have some tactics to help you

The standard advice for networking is to target people relevant/useful to you, rather than trying to meet everyone in the room. If you came to meet the potential clients, but ended up talking to a service provider for last 20 minutes, you are probably not utilizing your time wisely. On top of that you might be wasting the other person’s time as well. If you do not see any common interests with the person you are talking to, then I would advise to be honest and say something along the line that you currently don’t know of any opportunities that would be of use to them, offer to take their card if something comes up.

Be polite, end the conversation, and move on. I recommend having some standard phrases in your pocket, which you can use when you need to break away from the conversation. You can be very direct and say, “It was nice to meet you, and I will leave you to network with other people” or say that you need to refresh your drink at the bar, use bathroom or make a call. Also many people feel like they need to get the card before finishing conversation, which is not always true.
Get the business card, but how?

The logical way to end the conversation would be exchange business cards, but that does not happen all the time. Firstly, do you really need that person’s card? Do you have something to offer or to ask from that person? This should be established during the conversation, so the contact exchange is a logical move to start new business relationship. However, a difficult moment may occur when there are no common areas of interest between people, but someone still wants the card.

To improve your impact, ensure that in every discussion with your new contact, the mutual benefits of your acquaintance are clear and conversations are built around how both of you can help each other. If there are no possible ways, then do not force your card on people or do not ask to get their card if you see they are not interested in your agenda. As this will not lead to future relationships anyway.

Many people might feel uncomfortable when they want to get someone’s card, but have not been offered it yet. Easiest thing would be to offer your own card, by saying something general as “Here is my card, let me know if I can ever be an assistance to you/your project.”

Others may start the conversation by telling you their names and giving out their business cards. This way you already knew who they were and have their cards. Problem solved!

Reciprocity helps and it works

Think of how you can help people, not what they can give you. Do you have a connection they may need? Do you have the knowledge they are interested in? Maybe you have read a book about their area of interest and you can send them a link? The rule of reciprocity is simple, once you helped or even offered to help, most people will offer you something in return.

In general, having this type of approach at networking events can actually make it easier to build a rapport. Focussing on the needs of others rather than your own agenda is often a novel way of networking, allowing you to meet a variety of people from different areas.

Remember that everyone is at a networking event for the same reason: to meet and exchange contact details with other interesting professionals. Don’t feel embarrassed by being pro-active in offering your card to others. In addition, do not focus solely on what you need from people, but assume a role where you share knowledge which may help others. This will make you a desirable contact to them, and will ensure that you can leave the event on promising terms.

What are your best networking techniques?

By Olga Purikova

We all sneak a peak at text messages or emails to pass the time in boring meetings. And yet, we’d also probably all admit that we find it irritating when others do the same.

But a new study from researchers at Howard University and the University of Southern California finds big differences in who’s bothered by it—and by how much. The study, published in the journal Business Communication Quarterly, asked 204 employees at an East Coast beverage distributor and 350 U.S. business professionals in a random-sample survey to weigh in on whether it bothered them if people checked their cell phones. What they found: People are particularly bothered by managers who take calls during meetings, men are nearly twice as likely as women to think it’s okay to check text messages at a business lunch, and even leaving your phone out on the table can be offensive to some people.

In the first sample, the researchers asked open-ended questions and evaluated the intensity of the responses and the number of times certain behaviors were mentioned. They note that people were particularly upset when their managers took calls in front of them. Unsurprisingly, taking or making calls was cited most often as bothersome behavior. But a handful of people said they thought even bringing a phone to a meeting showed disrespect.

The second sample asked participants to say how appropriate or inappropriate different behaviors were in both formal professional meetings and offsite business lunches. Three quarters or more of the respondents said even checking for text messages was rarely or never appropriate. And more than half thought checking the time on the phone, looking to see who’s call was coming in, bringing a phone to the meeting, or even excusing oneself to make a call was inappropriate in a formal meeting. At more informal lunches, those numbers dropped, but more than half still thought it was rude to look at a phone to check text messages or email; a third said the same about stepping away to answer a call.

The study gets more interesting when it compares the views of men and women and people from different regions. (Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that while about two-thirds of people under 30 approved of texting at a business lunch, just 20 percent of those between age 51 and 65 thought it was acceptable behavior.) Meanwhile, roughly half of men said it was okay to answer a call at a business lunch, but only a quarter of women said the same. As for checking text messages, more than 59 percent of men were comfortable with it at informal lunches, while just a third of women were. And interestingly, professionals in the Western region of the United States—home to Silicon Valley, Seattle tech giants and Hollywood’s agents—were less accepting of phones being used during meetings than East Coasters.

The authors don’t suggest why women or Westerners were more likely to consider cell phones in meetings taboo. But the paper does focus on how cell phones have contributed to an increasingly uncivil workplace. They cited a 2012 study that showed hiring managers now value courtesy even more than other traditional soft skills, like teamwork or professionalism. So leave your cell phone behind in meetings, lunches and interviews. Or at least off the table.

Jena McGregor is a columnist for On Leadership.

Almost every business owner wants more leads for their business. In fact, for many owners the need for a constant inflow of qualified leads often dominates their thinking. There are, however, many challenges to ensuring and maintaining that supply. And, in addition to the needs of today, growth objectives and profit goals will require increased revenue which must come from increased sales—which means more leads. So are there really “sure-fire” methods of lead generation? And, if so, what are they?

Start With Your Plan

Truly successful lead generation must always be an integrated part of your marketing strategy. And this rests on having a comprehensive plan that takes into account the demographics and psychographics of your target market, as well as your positioning—the perception of your business and your product/services held by that target market. In other words, your lead generation efforts must be guided by who it is you are ideally trying to attract to your business and what it is you’re promising them.

A mistake many business owners make with lead generation activities is to simply try different things with no real thought about who their ideal customers are, where they are, and how to best reach them. Random acts of lead generation produce random results—and a very questionable ROI.
Assuming you have effectively put together a strategic marketing plan and you know your ideal target market customer, what can you do right now to generate some solid, qualified leads?
5 Ways to Get Them to Bite

Here are some tried-and-true methods for getting good leads quickly:

• Team up: Many businesses can find ways to share resources with other non-competing businesses that targets similar customers. One of our clients who specialize in dent removal teamed up with an auto detailing facility to exchange customer lists and trade discount coupons to promote each other’s services. Clients who had a dent removed from their car received a coupon for detailing and the detailer did the same for our client. Not only did each of them enlarge their potential customer database by sharing information, they also opened the doors for co-branding opportunities, to boot!
• Referrals: Time, experience and much research has concluded that nothing brings a qualified lead to your door better than the recommendation of a friend or colleague. Having a structured and intentional system, or program, in place to elicit referrals is not only a sure-fire way to generate qualified leads, but it is highly cost-effective as well.
• Word-of-Mouth: According to Wikipedia, word-of-mouth marketing “encompasses a variety of subcategories, including buzz, blog, viral, grassroots, cause influencers and social media marketing.” People tend to act on what they hear in this way because of the added layer of integrity perceived in it. In other words, getting people to talk about your company, your products or services, who you are and what you do, is an effective means of moving people to come to your business. We often say that your best salespeople are satisfied customers.
• Give it away: Give your product or service for free on a limited or one-time basis. This is especially effective if you’re a restaurant, a spa, or any service-oriented business. Make it a random weekday for just one hour, for example. The restaurant chain Macaroni Grill did this when they first opened with the idea of building mid-week traffic and it was incredibly effective. The old saying that “samples sell” holds a great deal of truth. And lead potential!
• Surprise them: Never underestimate the power of surprise, of the unexpected. Reach out and “touch base” with your pool of past or current customers, but do something spontaneous or out of the ordinary when contacting them. If you can find ways to surprise and delight current or past customers you can then leverage the power of that moment to generate a new sale. Although you may not always think of them as potential leads, these folks are almost always a great source of qualified leads and can be a far more cost-effective source. The added bonus is that your lead conversion, or sales process is often shorter and easier with repeat business.
Where There’s a Way There’s a Lead

The real key to generating more leads is how well you know your most probable customers—your target market. This is why making lead generation a systemic part of your marketing is so important. However, even though continual research and quantification of data on your target market is essential, it’s also critical to avoid getting stalled by too much analysis and not enough action! It was the American General and military strategist George S. Patton, who said: “A good plan, violently executed today, is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” A good strategy supported by some effective tactics will result in the leads you need.

By Kelli C. Holmes

I REALLY want to share this message with you. I have been working in the “Referral Group/Networking Group” industry for over 25 years. I have been a member of a referral organization, spent 10 years as an executive with another large referral organization, and have had my company TEAM Referral Network, for 11 years. I have also networked across the country and with people in the international market as well. I am recognized as an expert in the industry and many companies and groups have paid me to speak on this topic.

So…have I qualified myself as a person who knows what she’s talking about yet? Because I could go on…But, the bold statement I am about to make will be questioned by many of you reading this, but here it goes anyway… out of sight is out of mind. Let me repeat…out of sight is out of mind. Yes, it is.

Many (and I do mean many) people operate on the assumption that once they have established a business relationships with people that little to no “continuing nurturing” is needed. I cannot tell you how many people have told me directly or indicated to me that they do not need TEAM anymore because they have already established their relationships with the members. Their thought process is…I’m not going to get anything NEW and I will continue to get their referrals anyway. (Never mind the fact that chapters have new members and visitors on a regular basis that they could meet.) But, what they also forget about is… out of sight is out of mind.

Once you are no longer part of a group, your networking partners can (and will) forget about you. Yes, occasionally former members will continue to get referrals but not nearly as much as when they were a part of the group. And if (or should I say when) another person joins who does what you do, and they are at the meeting each week sharing their commercials, listening to everybody else’s commercials, bringing referrals….guess who they are going to give their referrals to? Yup! The new person! Out of sight really is out of mind!!!

The Mayonnaise Jar and the Beer

When things in life seem like too much to handle… when 24 hours in a day are not enough… remember this story about “the mayonnaise jar and the beer”.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar. He proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then took a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students, again, if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES”!

The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now”, said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

“The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your health, your friends, your passions – things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter – your job, your house, your car.

The sand is everything else – the small stuff.

If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there’s no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you’ll never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Make time for your medical check ups. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house, make the next sale, and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and asked what the beer represented.

The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers.”

Here’s to you! Make it a great life.

By Kelli C. Holmes