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How to Motivate Your Customer Service Team

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Customer service reps have a tough job. They deal with angry or unhappy people all day long.

They also aren’t always aware of how valuable they are to their organization. Many organizations struggle to capture the value of an agent in real monetary terms, and they fail to share that value with their agents. Thus, an agent can feel like his only role is to be the whipping boy for the rest of the organization.

On average, companies lose 26% of their front line customer service agents every year thanks to these realities. Burn out among agents is understandable, but it’s also expensive.

What can you do to keep your team motivated and on the job?

Offer commissions on upsells.

A customer service call is not just an opportunity to save a customer. It’s an opportunity to upsell the customer, too.

Why shouldn’t customer service agents earn a commission on that revenue, just as the front line sales staff does?

Allowing customer service agents to earn a commission helps them feel as though they can control their own circumstances. In most companies, agents are paid a fixed amount that doesn’t change even if they are perfection incarnate on the job. Commission offers that little extra incentive, and turns the agent’s time on the phone into a game. How much more can the agent earn?

Help agents understand their importance to the company.

Any employee wants to understand how important they are. We do this by sending out weekly customer satisfaction surveys to clients. This helps us generate a rolling Customer Service Rating number for each agent. It gives agents a goal to shoot for each week. It also makes their importance clear by showing just how much each agent is doing to contribute to our corporate image overall.

You’ll want to develop your own systems of course, systems that match what your company is doing and how it operates. You could choose to track the number of accounts saved, for example, since every customer service call could result, ultimately, in a customer’s decision to stop doing business with you.

It can take some time to set up these sorts of solutions, but it’s time well spent. You’ll spend roughly $8800 replacing each agent who leaves your company, so imagine how much money you can save by making even an incremental improvement in your turnover rate on an annual basis.

Filed under Business

Two Simple Elements of Start-up Success

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I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news: starting a successful business isn’t all that complicated. If you can get just two elements of business success right, and get them right before you open your doors, then you’ll have a really good shot at success.

Element #1: Filling a need.

Most people decide they want to go into business for themselves and then spend weeks, months, or even years trying to wrack their brains for some new, big idea. Once they have the idea they convince themselves the idea is worth millions. They’re usually so relieved to think up something, anything that someone else isn’t already doing that they never stop to ask themselves if anyone actually needs this thing they’ve come up with.

The most successful entrepreneurs don’t do that. Instead, they spot a problem. They think: “I can solve that problem.” Then they do it.

The problem doesn’t even have to be world-changing. The problem could be: “There aren’t any pet sitting services in my city. Yet there are 32 vet offices, so there must be plenty of pets.” This approach is customer focused instead of owner focused, which makes it easy to make a compelling case for customers to do business with you.

Novelty isn’t necessarily the issue. The issue is whether or not the product or service flows naturally from the problem.

Element #2: Creating a marketing plan.

You can’t make money if nobody knows about the bold new solution to the problem you have been observing. That means you’d better figure out how to get the word out to people who have the problem!

Start by figuring out where those people might be. Sometimes that’s easy. Our pet-sitter already knows that pet owners go to the vet. Sometimes it’s a little harder, but it has to be done.

Then, figure out how to place your message in that space. Perhaps you’ll drop a brochure or a business card in the waiting room. Perhaps you’ll set up a website or a Facebook page. Most likely, you’ll use a variety of methods to get the word out.

Any way you do it, you’ll have to reach these people in a way that empathizes with their problems while communicating your solution. Knowing what you’ll say, how you’ll say it, and where you’ll say it are the basic elements of a successful marketing plan. You also need to be sure that you’re available to speak to these people: over the phone, via e-mail, and in person. Otherwise you won’t close any deals.

This plan will help keep you focused. It will ensure that you actually know what to do in order to build your business every single day. Without it, you’re likely to spend most of your time watching Netflix with one hand on the phone, hoping that “business picks up soon.”

So what’s the bad news?

The bad news is simple. Most people get these two elements of start-up success dead wrong, and business never does pick up. This is why the road to business ownership is littered with so many failed ventures.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Filed under Business

Is Your Sales Team Stalling?

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“Stalling” behaviors kill productivity and reduce your revenue. And most sales teams are plagued by them.

Most stalls look legitimate on the surface. They usually involve taking the least productive elements of the job to the extreme. Driving, for example, is a normal and necessary part of an outside sales person’s life, but if 6 hours of 8 are spent driving then that rep just isn’t making too many sales.

All stalls are like that. They look a bit like the job. They just don’t force your reps to get in touch with actual people.

So how can you put an end to this behavior and get your sales team back on track?

Identify the stalls.

Which specific stalling behaviors do your team members engage in? Does your outside rep schedule appointments to force drives that are 45 minutes apart, without stopping to prospect in each area to minimize the disruption? Does your inside sales rep spend 3 hours researching prospects on LinkedIn?

Once you’ve identified the specific revenue killers you can begin analyzing the problem.

Identify the reasons behind the stalls.

Stalling behavior may seem nonsensical or even a little insane to you, especially if your representatives are only paid on commission. Don’t they know that these activities won’t make them any money?

But human behavior is what it is. And people stall for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons are:

  • The rep isn’t sure what to do.
  • Your rep is afraid of making a mistake.
  • Your rep is just not very organized or efficient in the first place.

Fortunately, all of these are problems that can be addressed and fixed. Sit down and talk with each rep and identify which of the three reasons is behind your rep’s stall.

Someone who is afraid of making a mistake may say, “But I have to do that much research. What if I get on the phone and sound dumb because I missed the one detail that was truly important?”

Someone who just isn’t sure what to do may say, “I don’t know. I’m not sure I should just walk into people’s offices. It may be a bad time for them, and what if I don’t talk to the right person?”

Someone who is generally inefficient may say, “I can’t help that I had a 9:00 on the south side of town and a 1:00 on the north side, boss. And traffic was terrible. That just happens sometimes.”

Restart that engine!

Now that you’ve identified the problem you can come up with a plan.

For example, you can suggest that the perpetual driver should designate a day of the week to each area of town. If his territory covers four zip codes then Tuesday can be zip code A, Wednesday can be zip code B, Thursday can be zip code C, and so on. Then, when he’s suggesting times to prospects he can say, “I have Thursday open. Would morning or afternoon be okay?” That way, he’s running multiple appointments in the same zip code each day.

You can give the perpetual researcher a specific questionnaire to fill out, or a list of the five things she absolutely must know about a client before making contact. For example, “Sue, you really only need to know the person’s name, job title, industry, major product, and closest competitor. You can find that out in a couple of minutes. Then pick up the phone and make your call while it’s all fresh in your mind.”

Other fixes may be appropriate to your business model and sales cycle. These are just examples! You could even calculate the amount of money that they are actively losing by engaging in these behaviors. Be sure to monitor the team. You want to ensure that they’re following the plan until the plan becomes habit. And once it does, those nasty stalls will become a thing of the past.

Filed under Business

Algorithm Manipulation is Out: What Next?

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Once upon a time, there was a lot you could do to give your website its best chance. You could look at Google’s algorithm, and you could work to please it.

You could go on a focused campaign of link building. You could guest post. You could churn out content. You could pick the right keywords. You had, after all, some modicum of control.

That control is virtually gone now. Google has tightened up its algorithm to the point where you virtually can do nothing besides follow the “best practices” and hope for the best. You can still do some link building and guest posting, but you’ll do it for reasons other than SEO. You’ll still turn in your XML site maps and choose out some keywords, but these efforts will only take you so far. You must create content, but there’s no guarantee that your content will help you rank on Google’s first page.

SEO isn’t dead, but it’s not a surefire path to the top anymore, either. What now?

Reach out.

Since ranking manipulation is no longer possible you must reach out through every valid channel. It’s become beyond vital to create a thriving social media presence so that you can get eyes on your site.

It also means that you’re going to become a part of the larger community. If you serve real estate agents, for example, then make sure you’re part of the conversation in areas where real estate agents congregate. It doesn’t hurt to get out from behind the computer either: attending networking events and meeting face to face are still powerful ways to generate business.

Offer a phenomenal product.

There is now no more room for mediocre products and services. You simply can’t rise to the top if you’re not doing great things. So take a hard, honest look at your offerings. Do everything you can to improve them. Then, improve them some more. Make it your personal quest to blow your customers away. Don’t settle for less.

Offer a phenomenal customer experience.

You must pay attention to every point of contact. How does your website look and feel? Does it look good on mobile devices, too? If customers come into contact with live human beings are they warmly welcomed and carefully cared for? Again, look for places to make improvements.

Obviously this is in line with what Google wants as well, since the entire reason behind their algorithm shifts is to make sure that the search engine delivers the best possible content at the best possible time.

Embrace traditional PR.

Public relations sort of got pushed to the side in the days where any spammer could push content to the top of Google. People also misused and abused the humble press release. They saw it as a way to get links, instead of a way to get media attention.

But if you want the kind of “site vote” that Google actually cares about and traffic that may actually buy, then real media attention is hard to replace. Most local papers publish online. So do most national newspapers and magazines. Find a way to cultivate relationships with reporters. Use HARO. Offer yourself as an expert. And do newsworthy things. These will get you links that are 1000 times more valuable for SEO purposes than basic blog comments, and they’ll get you positive attention, too.

Filed under SEO

Differentiating Between Site Popularity and Authority

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Webmasters should beware of what could soon be a major Google algorithmic change. Google Webspam guru and algorithmic master Matt Cutts may soon initiate changes that will further the divide between mere site popularity and topical authority; one that will place more emphasis on market authority and reward those sites that consistently display more aptitude toward or anchoring in topical expertise.

Though many in the online community already struggle to adapt their sites to the constantly changing Google landscape, this new change could have far reaching potential for those that rely on their site’s links to popular, rather than authoritative content. Matt Cutts has recently hinted at algorithmic changes that reward sites for consistently displayed evidence of topic authority. Google, says Cutts, is looking into ways to determine how well sites actually meet topical expertise requirements, and to then reward these sites with higher rankings.

Niche queries, such as those pertaining to the medical, legal or travel fields, may soon produce ranking pages that better meet the topical requirements. A medical query, for example, may soon produce pages that include sites that are better overall matches to the query. Once put into effect, this change could serve to deemphasize sites considered popularly relevant, and boost visibility of those that are actually relevant.

“We actually have some algorithmic changes that try to figure out ‘hey, this site is better for something like a medical query,’” said Cutts. “You don’t just say oh, this is a well-known site, therefore (it) should match the query. It’s…this is a site that actually has some evidence that it should rank for something related to medical queries.”

Google already places an importance on site authority, rewarding sites that establish authority on a given subject or in a certain market-area. The up-and-coming algorithm change, however, promises to place more emphasis on authoritative scrutinization. Though he hinted at the future change, Cutts didn’t reveal when the change would take place.

Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2338318/Authority-vs.-Popularity-Matt-Cutts-Teases-New-Google-Search-Result-Shake-Up

Filed under SEO

New changes with Google or Google’s algorithm

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Every time you use Google to search for something on the Internet, computer processes called an algorithms use your search words to find the information you’re looking for. It’s an invisible process most users take for granted, but the Google Corporation is constantly working to improve its algorithms.

Google changes its search algorithms as many as six hundred times a year, according to moz.com, a search engine optimization (SEO) consulting company. Most of these changes are minor, but many of these algorithm changes involve new innovations like Google Instant, a feature that suggests likely “hits” even as the user is typing.

Google unveiled its most recent algorithm change on February 6, 2014. Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, tweeted that Google had released an update of its Page Layout Algorithm. The update, known as the “Top Heavy algorithm” is meant to lower the ranking of a search hit with too many ads at the top its page, or if the ads are considered too distracting for users. “We’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience,” a Google spokesman said. “Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away.”

Analysts borrow the newspaper term “above the fold” in describing the look of websites that are top-heavy with advertisements. So, sites that lower content to below the fold are likely to be affected by the new algorithm change.

Google Introduces Powerful New Algorithm

Google has introduced a new algorithm that could improve the search engine experience for millions of computer users.

Google announced its “Top Heavy algorithm” in a tweet on February 6, 2014. Matt Cutts, who heads up Google’s Webspam team, said the search engine corporation had just released an update to its Page Layout Algorithm. The “Top Heavy algorithm” is meant to lower the ranking of websites that have too many advertisements near the top of its page, or “above the fold,” as some analysts call it.

Algorithms are sets of processes and formulas that transform Google user questions, or keywords, into answers, or webpage “hits.” Most users are unaware it even happens, but algorithms are at the very heart of every Google search, and millions of Internet users experience them every day.

The Google Corporation is constantly refining its search algorithms, according to a consulting company called moz.com. There are up to six hundred algorithm updates every year. Most are very minor, but others involve major innovations such as the Knowledge Graph, introduced by Google to enhance search engine results by trying to understand the intent and context of a user’s search keywords.

Google introduced the Top Heavy algorithm in response to user complaints that too many search results were top heavy with advertising that made it hard to find the content they sought. This resulted in a compromised user experience. “Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away,” a company spokesman said.

The Top Heavy algorithm updates Google’s Page Layout Algorithm.

Filed under SEO

Are You #1? Does It Matter?

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Hubspot.com recently published a short e-book called 17 SEO Myths You Should Leave Behind in 2014.

Myth #2 was: “SEO is all about ranking.” Apparently being in the Top 3 results on Google’s SERPs page isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“Studies of clickthough rates and user behavior have shown that searchers favor the top search results–particularly the top three listings. However, it’s also been shown that on subsequent pages, being listed toward the top of the page shows similar click behavior. And with search results now being appended with rich text/snippets and author tags, results that appear below the top-three search results are getting much higher clickthrough rates.

Even before all of that was applied, rankings did not guarantee success. Theoretically, you could rank quite well for a term, get tons of traffic, and not make a dime from it. Is that what you really want? I don’t think so.”

This assertion rang true for me because it matched quite a few of my own experiences, not with ranking, but with search.

Sometimes the top three results don’t get the job done.

I’ve noticed the “top three results” are not always the sites I am looking for. Sometimes I have to scroll down to find what I need, and sometimes I really do have to go a few pages in. I always thought that I was, perhaps, just a bit atypical in that regard, and believed the wisdom that said most people would never bother to do that. However, this comment by Hubspot makes me think that maybe I wasn’t as alone as I thought I was.

After all, it took Google a long time to really refine its algorithm. That means those top spot results have been a disappointment a time or two in the past. Even now, after so many updates and adjustments, there are results at the top that don’t always seem to be the best choice for my search term. Maybe you’ve experienced the same thing.

That’s not to say you should ignore SEO, or that you shouldn’t aspire to good rankings. It does tell you that “rankings and traffic are not the same thing,” any more than traffic or conversions are the same thing.

Are there some actionable lessons in this insight?

Be everywhere you can be.

Believe it or not, obsessing about rankings can become a way for you to sit on your laurels.

After all, why spend money on marketing or do the hard work of building relationships if tweaking your keyword strategy one more time can get you all the customers you’ve ever needed or wanted?

SEO is just one tool in your toolbox. Do it to the best of your ability. Do it well. Pull out all the stops. But then stop obsessing. There are plenty of other marketing methods that need your attention. Your overall strategy should be rich, varied, and nuanced. SEO matters, but so does writing up great comments on LinkedIn Groups, or hosting a lively Facebook page, attending conferences and sending direct mail.

Be the best you can be.

Getting people to your website is only half the battle. You also have to keep them there. You have to build their trust and you have to offer a product or a service worth purchasing. You also are going to continue to offer content that’s worth sharing, leveraging the power of extended networks of followers and friends.

There’s no quick way to do this. It can be a long, slow, arduous process. But the longer you stay in the game and the more that you offer to your visitors the less arduous it becomes. And it will certainly be less arduous if you put more work and time into really digging in to what people just like your target customer want, think about, and do on a day to day basis.

You can never stop adding value. You have to think of your site as an ongoing, evolving project, and every part of it needs to either provide information or make your customer’s life easier in some fundamental way. In other words, you’re going to take the fundamental final step to focus on conversion, not just on rankings, and not just on traffic.

After all, this is a business, and you have to attend to all of its moving parts.

If you don’t, you can be #1 all day long. But it just won’t matter.

Filed under SEO

SEO is No Longer the Purpose of a Guest Post

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Matt Cutts came right out and said it in his January 20th blog post.

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out in really bad company.”

This is a good-news, bad-news scenario.

First, let’s talk about the bad news.

It’s bad news because you may be thinking: What the heck am I supposed to do for linkbuilding now? Google seems to have closed down every available avenue for proactively taking charge of your own search rankings. There is just no easy way to “build” links any more. Great for Google, because they always intended backlinks to be something organic, a vote that someone else has given you because they liked what they saw. To them, link building is sort of like voting for yourself, again and again and again.

Not so great for you, because it strips away a lot of your control. All you can do is follow best practices, put out great content, and hope for the best.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t take charge of your own traffic, which is a totally different animal than SEO, even though just about everyone gets it confused.

But let’s back up a second. How could the death of guest blogging for SEO possibly be good news?

This is the silver lining.

Guest blogging for SEO really required a lot out of anyone who was trying to promote a website. It was no longer enough to craft and produce great content for your own blog. Now you had to go do it for lots of other people’s blogs, too. It was a process that was only partially in your control: you could pitch, relationship build, submit, and place all day long, but none of that guaranteed that you’d get links.

In addition, for the most part there was a focus on the wrong things: the page rank of the blog over that blog’s audience, for example.

The death of guest blogging for SEO means that you don’t have to put out 40, 60, or 100 pieces of content every month anymore. And let’s face it, in most niches trying to put out that kind of volume had a detrimental impact on the type and quality of the content that we were all putting out. You can only talk so much about a subject, only treat it so many different ways.

So now you can put most of that effort into your own site, and into making it the best resource that it can be for whomever happens to visit it. That’s good news for your site and that’s good news for your readers.

It also means you can spend less time vetting guest post pitches, if you happened to receive them. As the strategy dries up fewer spammers are going to fill up your inbox each week, forcing you to separate guest wheat from guest chaff.

Generating Traffic vs. Improving Search Ranking

Now let’s swing back to the difference between improving your search engine results rankings, which is the major function of SEO, and actually generating traffic.

People get them confused because SEO is such an important tool for bringing visitors to one’s website. Thus, these two activites are often spoken of interchangably, as if they are one in the same. But they are not.

You can get traffic all kinds of different ways. People can click on your link from a social media post. They can decide your latest blog post title looks really interesting and click on it because you made an insightful blog comment on a Comment Luv blog. You can use PPC. You can grow your e-mail list, and continue to get clicks and website traffic as you send blog post snippets through e-mail.

SEO is about algorithm. Traffic is about people, and about getting in front of people who care as much about your niche as you do.

Now, on to the true purpose of guest posting.

Guest posting should still be part of your marketing strategy. You’re just going to do a lot less of it, and for different reasons. And it won’t matter if there’s some “no follow” code in your links, either.

Instead, you’re going to guest post to speak directly to another blogger’s audience. You’re going to carefully select blogs who cater to the exact audiences that you need to speak to, and you’re going to offer the post in the hopes of capturing some of their attention. You still want a link, but you are hoping human beings click on it, and you don’t really care what the spiders do.

That means you will need to spend a lot more time crafting very careful, very useful posts, just as you would for your own website. And it means that you might focus on becoming a regular columnist on 1-3 blogs instead of trying to place individual articles on 25 to 50 blogs.

It’s a different paradigm, but it’s one that will get you traffic. It will work for you. And as your traffic grows and your on-site content grows, something marvelous will happen. Your search engine results page placement? That’ll still improve too. Long live the guest post.

Filed under SEO

The Intersect Between SEO and Sales

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For the longest time every company that you could name was about solutions selling or consultative selling. But there is evidence to indicate that this approach is not quite what it once was.

The reason is pretty simple. The Internet gives prospects the power to educate themselves. They already know most of what a “consultative salesperson” would have shared with them when the solutions sales craze was at its heyday. Per the article above, 60% of the buyer’s journey is already complete before they ever get to you.

Not that the consultative selling approach was a bad one for its time. Indeed, it marked the beginning of a larger wave that we’re still riding: the shift away from manipulative, in-your-face sales tactics and towards focusing on the customer’s needs, desires, and problems.

And in fact, consultative selling isn’t “dead.” It’s simply moved.

The consultative part is happening on your website. You’re providing those answers and offering an understanding of those problems in the content that you write instead of bringing that understanding to the sales table.

Of course, there is one disadvantage to this shift. In the heyday of the consultative selling period there was a great deal of focus on asking the right questions so that you could, like any good physician, diagnose the problem before offering the right product as a solution.

How do you diagnose a problem befor you see a patient?

After all, that is a trick you will have to master. If you don’t diagnose the problem before you write the content you won’t get that vital foot in the door, and your prospects will move on before ever giving you the opportunity to earn their business.

This is where SEO becomes so much more than a form of internet wizardry meant to entice search engines to give you good rankings. It is, in fact, the art of diagnosing thousands of similar “patients” at once.

You see, prospects are still talking about their problems. They’re just not telling you about them. They are telling search engines, instead.

And you can still ask the questions. You just don’t get to ask an individual customer directly.

Instead, you turn to keyword research, which will tell you exactly what your customer needs, wants, and is concerned about.

Now SEO becomes a very different game than the “insert keywords, pull out rankings” exercise that many business owners still believe it to be. You start teaching yourself how to give Google what it wanted all along…useful content that was written for human beings.

For example, a quick tour of Google keyword planner for the term “SEO” tells me that most customers still need and want to know the following things:

  • What it accomplishes.
  • How to do it.
  • How to find the best company to do it.
  • Other ways to market or promote their business online.

Now, I can just write content based on those four thoughts alone. But I also want to think a bit about what the conversation would look like if we were still practicing face-to-face solution selling.

The conversation might have sounded something like this:

“So, tell me about your biggest marketing challenge right now.”

“Well, I have this website but I’m not sure it’s really bringing me any leads.”

I suspect, were I selling SEO and internet marketing services, that a blog post with the title, “What to do if your business website isn’t generating any leads” would ultimately bring me more customers than a post called “Fourteen SEO Tips” because it speaks to the customer’s actual problem. After all, the customer’s problem is getting leads. SEO is just a means to that end.

As it happens, many business owners are still confused about SEO, and may not even know they need SEO services. The diagnosis is that they are having a hard time marketing their business online. The prescription becomes your marketing company’s services.

Put another way, patients don’t go to Web MD and type atrial fibrillation unless they’ve already been diagnosed. They go when they’re not feeling good and they type: “weird chest pains.” You have to educate them enough to help them understand what they’re actually dealing with and what they need to do about it.

That’s not to say that there aren’t more sophisticated customers out there. A good website will speak to both types of customers, ensuring that all of them get the information that they really need and want and continuing to educate them on what your products and services can do to alleviate the problem.

And, in fact, your sales representatives will still play a role in the process. They just have better tools than they did before.

After all, if they know a prospect is facing a particular problem they can get on LinkedIn with one of your company’s articles and simply forward the article with a quick, “Thought this might prove useful to you.” (They can do this with other, similar industry articles from other websites, too).

Sort of like the doctor, who has magazines full of health tips in his waiting room.

In fact, the only thing that has really changed is the name of the game (content marketing/SEO vs consultative selling). The nature of the game has remained exactly the same: take a deep interest in the people you want to serve, find out what they want, and show them how they can get it.

Filed under SEO

Hiring Mistakes that Start-Ups Make

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It’s exciting to hire your first team. It’s the moment that you transition into running an actual business instead of a one-man show.

Do it right, and it’s the moment that you’ll start to make real money, because you can do more with other talented people on your side than you can do on your own. Do it wrong, and you’ll cause yourself problems and headaches that put your business at risk.

Sadly, hiring mistakes are pretty common.

1. Failing to understand exactly what this person was hired to do.

Some companies have ditched job titles, even highly regarded and well-known companies like Zappos. You might like the idea of adopting this structure, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to know exactly what you’re hiring for when you’re hiring for it.

This is as much for you as it is for the employee. Don’t hire someone to say, take over your accounting if you’re constantly going to try to take back the accounting. It’s counterproductive, and it’s a waste of money.

The Entrepreneur’s Organization Network suggests hiring specialists over generalists.

“Conventional wisdom among entrepreneurs says hire the generalist who can adapt to whatever situation you have. In fact, very few people are truly good at many things. Most people are only good at a few things. Hire for those things. Alec Gores, the billionaire founder of Gores Group, told us, “I look at our team almost like a football team. If I am hiring for a position, I ask myself, what is this person going to be doing? Are they a quarterback? A center? I don’t try to get the quarterback to operate like a center or a linebacker.”

You’re not hiring someone “just to help out.” You’re hiring them to fill a very specific role and need in your organization. When you do this, you’ll get more value out of them and they’ll be happier.

2. Failing to consult your network.

Many entrepreneurs go straight to posting job ads simply because that is the way that they have seen other companies do their hiring. But you should start with your own network before you advertise. Crack open your LinkedIn account and start asking around. You’re more likely to get someone with proven competencies.

Don’t hire family and friends, however. You’re not going to be effective at managing them.

You can also used LinkedIn to simply go searching for the kind of person that you have in mind. If they’re not open to a conversation they may be able to point you in the direction of a similar colleague who is.

After that, use your social media channels and your own website. Look for people who fit the bill. Approaching them is a lot less of a time waster than going through thousands of resumes and applications. It’s a lot less frustrating. And it’s a lot more likely to net you an A-player. By flooding yourself with applications you risk opening yourself up to the temptation to hire someone just to get it over with.

3. Moving too quickly.

You don’t wan to spend six months on one position, but you don’t want to hire on impulse, either. It’s not easy to get rid of a bad hire once you’ve made the choice, and a bad hire can be expensive. It’s important to do your due dilligence.

That means reaching beyond the interview and the resume. Dig into the potential hire’s online presence. Are they actively contributing to their industry or field? What do their social profiles look like? Is there anything in their online presence that contradicts anything that they’ve said during the hiring process? Is there information which shows a lack of judgment or professionalism?

Call references, and ask good, probing questions. For example, don’t ask, “Was he a good sales representative?” Ask, “What was his approach to finding new accounts? What stood out about the way that he handled customers over the phone?” The questions should be specific to the role that you are hiring for. Some references won’t want to answer, but others will. And you’ll learn a great deal about whether or not the candidate is really as strong as he or she appears to be.

Finally, you can always wrap up this due dilligence with a 30 day probation period if everything seems to check out. Make your expectations clear, then see how they do with your culture, with your vision, and with your customers. If it doesn’t work out you haven’t lost anything, and you haven’t opened yourself to legal trouble. If it does, you can have the confidence that comes from having a great team member on your side.

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