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>Dejan Davidović
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About Dejan Davidović

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So far Dejan Davidović has created 10 blog entries.

The Four Stages Through Which Team Grows

 

I have handled multiple assignments for our clients; most of them necessitated building ‘on-the-ground’ team that worked for them. At Platformax our customers trust us with their biggest problem, lacklustre sales or dwindling orders. We sift through the maze, automate the sales processes and help them tame the sales beast.

Through this article, I am sharing my experience on how the ‘on-the-ground’ teams evolve. As the team matures, members gradually learn to cope with the emotional and group pressures they face. The team goes through these somewhat predictable stages.

 

Stage 1: Forming the team

When a team is being formed, members cautiously test the boundaries of acceptable group behaviour. This stage reminds me of hesitant swimmers, they stand by the pool, dabbling their toes in the water. At this stage, they are moving from individual to a member status and analyzing their team leaders guidance officially and unofficially.

In the Forming stage these feelings surface:

  • Excitement, adaptation and optimism
  • Satisfaction in being selected for the assignment
  • Provisional sense of team belongingness
  • Doubt, fear and nervousness about the job ahead

In Forming phase, team exhibits these behaviours

  • Endeavours to state the tasks and agree how it will be fulfilled.
  • Efforts to define agreeable group behaviours and how to deal with group problems.
  • Decisions on what information needs to be collected.
  • Lofty, intellectual discussions on models & concerns; and some team members may be exasperated with these dialogues.
  • Discussions of symptoms or problems not relevant to the task; struggling in identifying appropriate problems.
  • Objections about the organisations and barriers to the task.

 

At this stage of the team formation, activity abounds and sidetracks the member’s attentiveness; the team makes minimal achievement in its project goals. Don’t panic; most of the teams go through this phase.

 

Stage 2: Storming

Storming is the most difficult stage for the team. It is as if the team members jump in the water and thinking they are about to drown, start panicking by flipping their limbs. They start to realise that the task is difficult and more burdensome than what they imagined it to be. This makes them tetchy, blameful and at times overzealous.

The lack of advancement fuels resentment, but they are still raw to figure out the next steps in decision-making; they feverously debate about the course of action the team must take. They heavily rely on their past experience and skillfully resist any need for inter-team collaboration.

In the Storming stage these feelings surface:

  • Opposition to the task and the methodology being recommended by other team members.
  • Snappy oscillations in their perception of the team and the project’s ability to deliver on commitments.

 

In Storming phase team exhibits these behaviours

  • Disagreement among members even when they agree on real issues
  • Defensiveness and competition, factions and choosing sides
  • Probing the prudence of people who selected this assignment and assigned other members to it.
  • Establishing unworkable goals; concerns about disproportionate work
  • A perceived pecking order, dissent, increased strain and distrust

 

As a result of these pressures, team members get drained and are unable to progress towards the desired results. However, they start understanding each other in a much better way.

 

Stage 3: Norming

In the norming stage, members resolve opposing devotions and duties.

The members wholeheartedly accept the team; agree to the norms and get comfortable with the role assigned to them, and graciously accept the individuality of other team members.

Emotional conflict and its draining effect on the team members shrinks as cooperation replaces competitiveness in the team. In other words, as team members realise that they are not going to drown, they stop thrashing about it and start helping each other’s stay afloat.

In the Norming stage these feelings surface:

  • Knack of expressing criticism in a constructive manner
  • Acceptance of membership in the team
  • Relief that it seems everything is going to work out

 

In Norming phase team exhibits these behaviours

  • An attempt to achieve accord by sidestepping situations that give rise to conflict
  • Increased friendliness, sharing personal challenges and deliberating about the team dynamics
  • A sense of team cohesion
  • Establishing and maintaining team ground rules and boundaries

 

As team members begin to iron out the differences, they free up more time and energy for the project, thereby making measurable progress on the team goals.

 

Stage 4: Performing

By this stage, the team has settled its relationship issues and expectations. They now begin performing, analyzing and cracking problems. By this stage team members have discovered and are comfortable with each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They start playing with each other’s strengths instead of fighting over their shortcomings.

 

In the Performing stage these feelings surface:

  • Team members have insights into personal and group processes and better understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Satisfaction at teams progress

 

In Performing phase team exhibits these behaviours

  • Constructive self-change
  • Ability to prevent or work through group problems
  • Close relationship within the team

 

In this phase, the team starts acting as a consolidated unit. The pace of work and results gather momentum in this stage.

 

Every team goes through this cycle. The duration of each of the phases vary for each team, depending on how quickly they progress, work through obstacles or problems and so forth. At Platformax, we reinforce that these phases are normal and a sign of progress.

10. 1. 2017|Categories: Productivity, Sales tips|

How to Give Feedback to Your Sales Team

Feedback is essential to any team’s success and more so for the sales team. Without feedback, the team continues doing the same act over and over again and wishfully expects different results.

Giving feedback is not an easy task, and most of the sales managers are not good at it. From my experience of building large teams and helping a number of entrepreneurs in structuring sales processes to drive revenue, here are quick pointers on how to give feedback to your sales team.

 

Be Descriptive

While giving feedback to the sales team, relate, as objectively as possible to what you saw the other person do or what you heard him say. Give specific examples from recent past; avoid giving feedback, which is dated, as it would lead to disagreement.

 

Avoid using labels

Be clear, specific and unambiguous. Words like immature, unprofessional, irresponsible and prejudiced are labels we attach to sets of behaviour. While giving feedback, describe the behaviour, but avoid labelling them. For example, you could say, ” You missed the deadline we had all agreed to meet” rather than saying “You are irresponsible and I want to know what are you going to do about it?’

 

Avoid exaggerating

While giving feedback to your sales team, it’s best not to exaggerate things, saying, ” You are always late for deadlines” may not be true and hence will be seen as unfair. By exaggerating, you invite the person receiving the feedback to start an argument rather than looking at the real issue.

 

Avoid being Judgmental

By using words as good, bad, better, worst and should, you position yourself as a controlling parent. The usage of these control words, make the person receiving the feedback respond the way a child responds. Once the parent and child loop gets started, you end up in shutting the other person down and squander the opportunity to coach.

 

Avoid speaking for others

While giving feedback, avoid using references to people who are not present that point of time. For example, avoid making statements like ” A lot of people here don’t like it when you….”. You should avoid becoming a conduit for other people’s feedback; they need to deliver it themselves, instead of channelizing it through you.

 

Avoid using the word you

By giving feedback to another person with statements that start with you, the defense gets triggered, and they are less likely to absorb what you are saying. Take a look at these four statements

  1. You are generally late for meetings
  2. You are always on time for meetings
  3. I feel annoyed when you are late for meetings
  4. I appreciate that you come to meetings on time

The first two statements convey a parent-child dialogue, and the other two express an adult/peer relationship. Even if you stand higher in the pecking order than the receiver of the feedback, strive to maintain an adult/peer relationship.

 

Avoid phrasing the issue as a question

By phrasing your feedback as a question, you are giving a signal to the respondent that they better change their behaviour. See the difference in these two statements

  1. When are you going to stop being late for the meetings?
  2. I don’t feel good when you are late for meetings.

The statement one tends to make people defensive and angry while the statement number two implies that there is an issue that must be resolved jointly.

I have used this mantra to give feedback to my sales team; my team has overachieved results over the years. In case you need help in pumping up your sales number, give me a shout and our sales Jedi will be at your service.

29. 12. 2016|Categories: Productivity|

How Platformax Team Manages Complex Projects

At Platformax we handle complex sales improvement projects, many at times we help our clients look for a needle in a haystack to improve their sales numbers. Over the years our team has perfected a delivery process that helps us stay ahead of the pack. Through this article, I am sharing them with you. We weave the following in every project that we run at Platformax.

 

Communicate, Communicate & Communicate

Time and again I have seen that the success of the project depends on how well the team members communicate not only among themselves but also to anyone likely to be affected or interested in their activities. For example, if a team was about to collect data from a working production line, team members should notify all supervisors and operators in advance and tell them when the data will be collected. Similarly, a team studying how employees in an office use their time should explain that the goal is to identify inefficient systems and not lazy employees. By following this mode of communication, we at Platformax get cooperation from our colleagues and often get suggestions for improvements along the way.

Whenever we are implementing Platformax sales improvement projects at our client’s office, we make sure that we don’t stick to notifying people about the changes, but go beyond and explain why the changes are being done and how it will impact them for good in the short as well as long-term.

 

Don’t wait to plug the hole

Over the years after handling multiple sales improvement projects, I know for sure that when you get better at studying processes, you start unearthing a lot more problems that need to be fixed. Our approach at Platformax is to explore issues in depth and collecting enough data for solving it once and for all. However, many times, some problems are easily fixable and don’t need elaborate analysis, this is what our team calls “Platform-sense”, we fix it then and there without getting into a paralysis of analysis. Our sales Jedi recommends that our team answers these questions before applying their “Platform-sense.”

  1. What’s the worst that could happen if this solution doesn’t work?
  2. How easy is it to undo the change?
  3. Will this delay other actions?
  4. How expensive will this change be regarding money and time?
  5. How much disruption will this change cause to our colleagues and clients?

In case most of these answers tread on the downside, we don’t implement the solution in haste. If the solution is simple to put in place and can be undone easily, we give it a shot.

  

We swim upstream like Salmon

Most of the problems we see are symptoms of other problems buried upstream in the process. For example variation in the product line may be due to the variation in raw materials; mistakes in customer’s bill may be the result of errors in the original order. To make improvements that stick, you must seek out these causes and find ways to prevent them. Whenever your team is faced with a problem, mentally walk through the entire process and see if you can identify upstream conditions that could be the cause of the problem.

 

Documentation wins hands down

In most of the organisations the same problem gets solved over and over again, and every time a hero gets created. At Platformax we are lazy and get bored if we have to solve the same problem twice, to feed our laziness we have created a log of the all the problems that we encounter and the proposed and implemented solutions along with end results. This has created a treasured repository for us, and we pride ourselves in discovering and solving new problems.

 

If you don’t measure it, it is smoke and mirrors

At Platformax we are great fans of Einstein, he said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” We are not obsessed with measurement, and we have banned people from carrying measuring tapes to our client’s office, however keeping track of where we are and what we do is a part of our core ethos.

Rarely do things turn out exactly the way you plan, and you have to make multiple changes to the process before hitting the optimum point. We monitor all our actions so that we can quickly catch errors and prevent them from snowballing into blunders.

22. 12. 2016|Categories: Productivity, Project management|

So-long to Clients and Contacts. Hello Companies and Persons!

Big news for all of you that have contact with multiple people in the same company when you’re trying to close your deals or if you work directly with end customers.  This week we say so-long to Clients and Contacts and we introduce Companies and Persons!

In Platformax you are dealing with two type of contacts Company and Person.  You will need one or another before you do sales, support or any other actions. All contact details, past and planned activities, tickets, opportunities and actions associated with them that take place in Platformax are tracked in their detail pages. Detailed Company and Person card helps you to plan and to execute your future actions necessary to “close” an opportunity and offer support after that.

 

Person represents individual people. A Person can have Opportunities and you can track them in your sales pipeline.

  • Person is a contact person profile holding contact data (e.g., email addresses, phone numbers, job title, etc) and interaction history.
  • Person can be associated with a Company – but not necessary.
  • Person can have multiple Opportunities open for them at the same time.
  • Person can also have tasks, tickets, orders, documents, time logs, etc.

 

Company represents an organisation above the Person. In real life these Persons are usually company employees. You can find all Persons related to a Company on the Company card.

  • Company is a Company profile holding contact data (e.g., company websites, phone number, main e-mails and addresses) and  interaction history.
  • Company can be related to multiple Persons therein, as well as multiple Opportunities.
  • Company can have multiple Opportunities open for them at the same time.
  • Company can also have tasks, tickets, orders, documents, time-logs, etc.

Both Company and Person can have custom fields. If you require that and your subscription model includes that feature, please contact your dedicated consultant to help you with setting up.

4. 7. 2016|Categories: What's new|Tags: , , , |

Mail inbox with “Zero inbox” concept

Together with telephone, e-mail is the communication form that is used most in business communication today. Unlike telephone, though, e-mail correspondence can be centralized and archived. Many companies use generic email addresses for different purposes, such as info@domain.com, support@domain.com or sales@domain.com. When such e-mails come in, they are often forward to the e-mail clients (Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail or similar) of specific people that are then tasked to take care of them. So far, so good; but when it comes to processing those e-mails there are several problems that need to be addressed.

Let’s say a client sends an inquiry to sales@domain.com. Sales reps John, Sally, Ingrid and Jack all get the message forwarded to their personal e-mail accounts in their Outlook. To illustrate what happens then we will look into several typical scenarios now:

Scenario 1: John is the first one to see this e-mail. He takes it over and answers to the client as john@domain.com. He sends additional questions to the client to get more info about the request so he can prepare to close this deal.

A bit later Ingrid notices this same e-mail, but since she has a better understanding of the product in question she quicly prepares an offering and sends it out to the prospective customer according to her interest in closing the deal.

Sally and Jack have no idea what the other two sales reps already did, so they both send a forward-e-mail to the entire team to find out if anyone is already processing this request. So everybody writes a quick answer which consequently alerts John and Ingrid that they were both trying to close the deal in a different way.

And the client got two different e-mails from the same company, answering the same inquiry in two different ways. Clearly he is confused now. He might also doubt the professionality of the company he just addresses. There is a good chance now that he will reconsider and address another vendor.

So although basically the entire sales team was somehow involved in this single request, chances to close a deal are low.

Scenario 2: Again, John is the first to notice this e-mail. He takes it over and answers to the client as john@domain.com but includes sales@domain.com in the CC. He exchanges two messages with the client and every time their messages go to him and the entire mail group, so Sally, Ingrid and Jack need to keep track. But as they see that John is handling this, they soon just delete the messages as they do not wish to spend any more of their time on this.

Then John informs the client that his colleague Jack will take over to provide better help and to send additional data, expecting Jack to follow the correspondence on sales@domain.com and, consequently, to take over the dialogue with the customer. But Jack doesn’t see this because he just deletes all mails with the customers name in the header.

So what happened here? One customer request generated a huge overhead, with literally dozens of e-mails written, forwarded, received, answered or deleted, most of them with basically zero relevance for most of the acting people. And on top of that waste of labour, in the end the customer will be lost due to Jacks failure to take over when asked to.

And again, although basically the entire sales team was somehow involved in this single request, chances to close a deal are really low.

The solution: Platformax Zero Inbox

To prevent the described scenarios, to raise productivity and to ensure 100% tracking and a consistent customer experience, Platformax supports inboxes with the “zero inbox” concept for generic e-mail addresses instead of mail groups. Rather than forwarding e-mails between team members in Platformax Zero Inbox appropriate actions are defined for each incoming message. That works like this:

All incoming messages on a given generic e-mail address are checked periodically by a dedicated team member who decides whether they will be unprocessed or processed. If he decides to “process” an e-mail, he has to assign the e-mail to one of three labels:

  1. Ignored  – for spam, commercial messages and messages that no one cares about.
  2. Create opportunity – in case of a relevant inquiry or a possible business opportunity which then is forwarded it to the appropriate sales rep’s sales pipeline to be further processed.
  3. Create new ticket or add to existing ticket – in case of a support request or matter that requires team collaboration and further processing, the e-mail message will be transformed into a ticket and delegated to a specific team member to follow up with the issue and the client in order to solve his issue.

Advantages of the Platformax Zero Inbox

Many people mistake their e-mail inbox with a sort of a ToDo-list, resulting in decreasing productivity and, in cases where e-mail groups are in use, in increased overheads due to the involvement of team members that do not really need to be involved in the first place.

 

Using Platformax Zero Inbox ensures that any given e-mail is processed in an appropriate way, that no e-mail gets lost and that no requests will ever go unprocessed. Possible actions to take on each message are common to all team – ignore, create opportunity or create new/add to existing ticket. As soon as anyone chose any of those actions, completion is guaranteed, and further overhead prevented. Zero Inbox let’s your team get focussed on things that need to be done rather than checking their inboxes all the time!

And, apart from unlocking team productivity, Zero Inbox also ensures maximum customer satisfaction, minimizes the chance of loosing business due to poor performance, and finally gives you a powerful tool and competitive edge to prevail in today’s highly competitive market place.

Sign up for your demo now (Sign up HERE) or contact us so we can show you how easily you can implement Zero Inbox into your daily business procedures.

21. 6. 2016|Categories: Productivity|Tags: , |