Today we bring you a guest post from Loretta Love Huff, headquartered in Phoenix.
Making a commitment to hunt whales is the beginning of a dramatic cultural shift. It’s more than just a new business development strategy. Embarking on this process successfully requires vision, planning, implementation and personal development from everyone involved, particularly the CEO.
1. Articulating ‘Why bother?’ The first critical component is getting everyone on board with why this new strategy is important. It may be that your company’s growth has plateaued or decreased. Perhaps you’re facing increasing competition in the markets in which you currently operate. You may even have experienced a successful series of revenue growth years, but yearn to grow even more.
Whatever the impetus, the leader must communicate the upside potential of becoming a successful whale hunter. She must also outline the risks the company faces by continuing along the current path.
By comparing the rewards of potential growth with the risks of remaining where you are, your staff will begin to understand the importance of ‘rattling their cage’ with a new initiative.
2. WIIFM In order to embrace change, people need to see that they personally will benefit from the efforts you’re asking them to make. It’s one thing to see that the company will grow and thrive. It’s quite another to grapple with the realization that their job could go away or that they will learn new marketable skills that will enhance their career and earning potential. As a leader you must help them make that leap. They may not see it on their own.
Additionally, when you sincerely express your desire that they benefit from this new initiative, you will create an environment of trust which will help smooth the road ahead.
3. Defining how we’ll get it done You need more than just a compelling reason to adopt whale hunting. You need an implementation plan. What needs to get done and when.
The more clearly you can lay out the steps you need to take as a company, the easier it will be for people to wrap their heads around the idea and get started. They will begin to understand their role in the new approach. The Whale Hunting Process™ is just that, a clearly defined process. Implementing it however, requires that you take the process and evaluate your existing resources, collateral, processes and tools through it.
This new approach demands a willingness to scrutinize ‘the way things are done around here’ and the ability to relinquish the past. You will need to fix what’s not working and leverage, expand and improve on what is working.
Engage your entire staff in discussions around some of the ‘why’ and ‘how’. Then, to leverage your time, assign specific individuals or task forces to work on certain aspects to bring back to the group for further discussion.
4. Overcoming fear, trepidation & resistance People hate change so expect resistance. You will be expecting them to step into roles and demonstrate behaviors they’ve never had to deal with before. Accountants and programmers will have to become sales people, a role they likely either loathe or fear. Sales people will have to give up their ‘it’s all about me’ prima donna mentality.
5. Commitment to growth and improvement To ease with this transition, invest time in training them for their new roles. Don’t expect them to just develop new skills and attitudes ‘because you said so’. The more the entire group engages in discussions about where you are as a company, why it’s important to make the change and how to minimize the growth pains by upgrading your processes in a collaborative way, the more ownership they will take for the success of this new initiative.
6. Celebrate As the whales start to roll in, celebrate your successes. Make sure everyone experiences how their particular actions helped land the account and satisfy the customers’ requirements. Celebrate also, the growth the company is experiencing both in improving its infrastructure as well as its financial condition. Don’t rest on your laurels however, or you may become complacent and risk creating a negative impact on client satisfaction.
Celebrate your whales and make sure they know you appreciate and value them. Everyone likes to feel special: even whales.
7. Keep raising the bar As the leader, your role is to always keep your eye on a bright future. Raise your sights both externally and internally. Be vigilant about continuous process improvement. Engage your staff in dialog about what they see as opportunities to improve. Ask them to identify refinements in the sales process, the intake process, the service delivery and the ‘account penetration’ process.
As you become more effective and profitable, revisit your target filters. Leverage your ‘wins’ into more success stories that you can use to attract more whales.
Growth is a continuous phenomenon. Your role as a leader is to nurture and shepherd that growth forever.
About the Author: Loretta Love Huff, a Certified Whale Hunter Partner is an award-winning business consultant and coach. Visit her at http://www.facebook.com/EmeraldHarvestLove.