Category: Sales
Anything worthwhile can’t be done alone
Ian, our owner and MD. Ian started IMA back in 2004 and has driven its growth ever since. Ian is always open to new ideas, and sometimes he even takes a few on!

Ian, our owner and MD. Ian started IMA back in 2004 and has driven its growth ever since. Ian is always open to new ideas, and sometimes he even takes a few on!

One of my team had called me buzzing about the wins she’d had that day. Her excitement was infectious. I left the call smiling, only to get another call telling me about another banner day.

I was reminded, yet again, about the importance of surrounding yourself with great people.

Both were relatively recent additions to the team. One had come aboard after we’d been trying to hire her for a long time. The other was an internal promotion, a star who I’d been grooming for the role for over a year.

It highlighted the reason we spend so much time and effort finding talent and then getting them into the right roles. At IMA our whole business relies on our people. That’s probably true for every company, but we work incredibly hard to make sure we find, hire and retain talented people.

A significant portion of my and Archana’s (my peer in Sydney) time is spent on the recruitment process. We meet fortnightly with Dan our GM of recruitment (check out his twitter feed), keep abreast of the pipeline of talent and personally interview everyone before they get a job offer.

We also realise our limitations. Dan is far better at his job than Archana or I. So he has the ability to overrule us when he needs to. Usually we agree, but occasionally we don’t and some of our best people come from Dan’s “Captains picks”.

Dan is also constantly experimenting on our six step recruitment process. He has a dedicated budget for his experiments.

If we are particularly excited about someone will hire them without a role and then work to make one for them. Dan was hired in that way and now he does it with others.

The final piece of the recruitment puzzle is making sure that people are in the right role. This often means hard decisions about people who are struggling, or even performing well but not to the level of excellence required, into a role where they will excel. On occasion that means they leave IMA to find a company where they’re a better fit.

Moving people into the right roles is an area where I’m still working on my own management skills. Over time we have lost some talented people because I didn’t, or couldn’t, move them into the right spot. Sometimes it works out, but I can get better at this.

Too much of today’s society ascribes success to one person. My experience is the opposite. It can’t be done alone and finding great people to share the journey is the best way to make it happen. 



Work harder not smarter
Ian, our owner and MD. Ian started IMA back in 2004 and has driven its growth ever since. Ian is always open to new ideas, and sometimes he even takes a few on!

Ian, our owner and MD. Ian started IMA back in 2004 and has driven its growth ever since. Ian is always open to new ideas, and sometimes he even takes a few on!

The mistake in the work smarter not harder adage was highlighted to me by my 9 year old son.

I had been moving his music practice from 15 minutes a day to 20 and he didn’t like it.

Mr 9 works best when he has control of his life and changing the amount of practice he did took his control away. My solution was, if he couldn’t control his practice, let him control mine. He got to decide how much practice I did with my recently acquired guitar.

I suspect you can see where this is heading.

The good news, the problem was solved, Mr 9 did his 20 minutes happily and set me 20 minutes a day.

A week and a half later he decided to flex his muscles.

I did 1 hour and 20 minutes of practice that day.

The following day it was 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Then 1 hour and 20 seconds. His reign of terror had begun.

After 4 days of practice he wasn’t reducing his demands, but something unexpected had happened. Because I was practicing so much my guitar playing was improving much faster than it had. I decided I liked it and, much to the surprise of my sons, voluntarily kept to his 1 hour a day regime.

I’ve seen the same thing work in sales.

People condemn mindless activity, but I’ve found once you work smart enough, often it’s better to just increase the volume of the core activities rather than spend time tinkering to get things just a little bit better.

Preparation can be procrastination.

The funny thing with the increased activity is if you are alert, think about what you’re doing and assess for improvements, the increased volume means increased opportunities to learn. So by working harder you end up working smarter as well.

I didn’t forget to thank my son.

Why Buzzwords lose their value
Ally Lancaster

Working in the recruitment department, Ally is one of our most recent additions to the IMA family. She is a self-confessed perfectionist that has recently formed an addiction to LinkedIn. Ally is eager to learn and is always ready to take on new challenges in and out of the office.

Let me state this right up front.  I am not against buzzwords.

Often they are the most accurate and efficient way of communicating a message. As a leader you need the ability to break things down, simplify and be to the point. Buzzwords, when used correctly do exactly that. They understand that your time is important, and seek to inform and educate you in a precise and powerful manner. Yet as a society we have waged a war against buzzwords. We roll our eyes at ‘strategy’, tune out at ‘synergy’ and stop reading at ‘leadership‘… Still here? The problem does not lie within the words themselves but in the way that we use and receive them.

Buzzwords lose their value when they are used in the wrong context. Knowing your audience is essential for good communication. There is no point throwing in the word of the day if it’s not the right type of language for with whom you’re speaking. Understand the meaning of your chosen word and how it will resonate with your audience.  Choose your words appropriately.

Buzzwords lose their value when they are used without substance. Too often, words are thrown into documents or presentations without good reason. It’s a form of exaggeration, which has unfortunately become commonplace. Exaggeration is a practice that actually devalues our language and makes people less likely to listen to us. If buzzwords are used without substance behind them then there is little point in using them at all. It is essential to make sure your communication is purposeful. Choose your words wisely.

When used correctly, buzzwords effectively communicate meaningful messages but we have become so accustomed to the inappropriate use of them, that we immediately disregard those who use them. I think its time to give buzzwords another chance.

So, for the buzzword user

Ensure you know your audience and pick your words accordingly. Have purpose behind the use of your buzzwords and a sound understanding of their meanings.

And for the buzzword receiver

Before immediately disregarding anyone who uses them, assess whether that word was used in the correct context, and ask yourself if it added value and clarity to their message. You can then thank them for their effective and time saving communication!

Why Buzz Words Aren't So Bad

 



Contractor or Consultancy?
David Light, our NSW CEO brings to IMA over three decades experience in the IT world. You could say he's been there and done that. Armed with an MBA and an Engineering degree, David loves to deep dive into the issues companies face on day to day basis uncovering solutions where they may previously been hidden. Away from the office, you'll often find David riding his motor bike and eating at country-side cafes with his bike mates or interesting dining venues with his wife and friends.

David Light, our NSW CEO brings to IMA over three decades experience in the IT world. You could say he’s been there and done that. Armed with an MBA and an Engineering degree, David loves to deep dive into the issues companies face on day to day basis uncovering solutions where they may previously been hidden. Away from the office, you’ll often find David riding his motor bike and eating at country-side cafes with his bike mates or interesting dining venues with his wife and friends.

You need a Project Manager or Business Analyst for a 2- to 4-month period and you need the right person. They need to learn about your organisation really quickly, understand the culture and the outcomes required and be accountable for their deliverables. And if they don’t work out, the impact of a delayed start to your project is not just the cost of the person – it is usually the project costs incurred during the delay period and the delayed benefits realisation. This cost is usually a multiple of the cost of the contractor.

This is a scenario that we come across frequently and explains why consultants may be a better choice than contractors for this type of engagement.

Procurement guidelines usually require that a Contractor is engaged via a contract-hire Agency. So why consider a Consultancy when the direct cost of the consultant may appear to be higher?

Both the Agency and the Consultancy will look to find you the “right” person – the right skillset at the right time. And this is where the agency’s responsibility ends. The Consultancy should also embrace the responsibility of achieving the required outcomes, to be accountable for this. This requires an additional dimension that Agencies can’t offer. The willingness and confidence to guarantee that the required outcomes will be achieved. And the reasons that a Consultancy can do this are:

  • The consultants are usually employees, who have had a significant investment in training and skills development by the Consultancy
  • The Consultancy knows and understands their employees and so can be confident in their abilities and fit for the role.
  • The Consultancy brings processes, methods and intellectual property to the engagement, resulting in faster ramp up times and greater certainty of outcome
  • The consultant engaged for the role can draw on their peer network when required – you are not just engaging an individual but also the collective knowledge of the consultancy.
  • The Consultancy’s client engagement manager should have an intimate understanding of the requirements and the role, ensuring escalation if issues are emerging.
  • To underpin this, the right Consultancy would also offer a money-back guarantee – ensuring that they ARE accountable for helping the client achieve their required outcomes.

A significant issue that often emerges is that the required outcomes are not clearly defined at the start of the engagement, or changes during the course of the engagement. In this case, you want a Consultancy who retains accountability, but allows for the reality of changing circumstances. This requires consultants who intimately engage with their client in a trust based relationship – consultants who first seek to understand, before seeking to be understood.

So, how do you find the right Consultancy?  What should you look for when you are being bombarded with meeting requests and proposals?

 

  1. Can the Consulting Company clearly define their value proposition? Are they willing to underwrite the outcomes?
  2. Have they got a track record of success? Have they got credible references that you can talk to yourself? And are they willing to let you talk to their customers?
  3. All Consulting companies will say they have the best people.  Quiz them on that.  How do they hire their people? How do they look after their people?  What is their staff attrition rate? (You need to know if the people you entrust with your project will be there to see it through!)
  4. Can they and do they understand your problem? Or do they just have a canned solution from which your problem must fit?

So when next you need a Project Manager or Business Analyst, where assuredness of outcome matters, consider engaging a Consultancy who are truly willing to be accountable for the outcome.

 

 

Casting Call for Sales Heros here at IMA

We are throwing out the rule book and trying something different.  IMA is getting into the market for a new sales person, and in the name of avoiding insanity, you know the old credo, “doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result”, well we are trying something different for us.  It will be interesting to see how we go on this journey. 

Keep an eye out for our “Sales Super hero” themed messages! Check here or here or even here

We’ve examined our process for hiring successful sales people, looked at our historical success rate and compared it to experiences with other companies we have worked with historically.  This examination led us to the conclusion that the old “tried and true” methodology doesn’t have a great track record.   We’ve done the headhunt people from our opposition, we’ve hired people we’ve “liked”, we’ve done psyche tests, we’ve done “cold calling” tests, we’ve hired people from recommendations from trusted advisors, and yet our hit rate historically is about breakeven.  Which isn’t really too bad, but we want better! 

So what to do?

It is hard to really define what makes a great sales person in our market, there are lots of contingencies, and what works in one company may well not work in another.  We decided to look at what has worked for us.  We decided to look at the people within our organization who have worked out well, and look at the similarities between them and process in which they joined us.  Sadly, there wasn’t a great connection.  We were either lucky or had worked with the person before in the same or similar capacity (in another life) and really knew what we were getting.

There were a couple of key themes however, when outlining the people and what has made them successful, or shared traits.

  • Tenacity
  • Competitive
  • Involvement
  • Quick learners
  • Rapport builders

Challenge!  

How do we look for these in a hiring process?  Will interviews and psyche tests confirm or deny these traits with enough certainty for us to formulate a decision?  I could not really put my hand on my heart and say to the Executive here that anything we had traditionally done would achieve this.  And the process has been expensive.

We decided to do something a little different.  And whilst we cannot guarantee that this will work as well as we hoped, the upside is too big not to try.

One of the best sales people I have seen in the Melbourne market has been someone who was “grown” into the role.  He was essentially “plucked” from the rank and file and given the opportunity to succeed.  I have to say, even though we had our “run ins” professionally, through his attitude, aptitude and down right pig headedness he really was a stand out.

So here at IMA we are about to take a risk.  We’re going to try to grow our own.  We are putting a call out for people across ALL industries who think they are or could be great sales people, who want a career with a successfully growing IT Consulting company, and people who want to be a key contributor to our future growth. (Towards world domination).

On top of a traditional “interview process” (wth our Recruitment team) and a new “non traditional interview” process (an hour long interview with multiple people), we are going to embark on an audition process.  We want to see people in action, in the heat of the moment, thinking on their feet and making things happen.  We are hoping this will take the “guess work” – “gut feel” out of the interview process and remove the perceived “witch-craft” practiced in psyche testing.  The audition process will be a week long process, so we are going to ask people to invest in us as well, although we are committed to paying these short listed people for this week.

We are busily building a complete training programme and mentoring programme for the successful applicant and have committed as an organization to helping this new hero succeed.

I’m excited by this, and I cannot wait to see and share the results and to reveal our new Sales Super Hero to the market!

If this sounds like you, or something you want to do.  Make contact with us.  Call us on the phone (03 8633 7300) call us on Skype (ID: careers.ima) or just send us your resume or a video clip as to why this IS YOU!  (You can also apply via this) If it’s not and you know someone it sounds applicable to, let them know, this will be a fun experience!