What is an employee value proposition, and why does my firm need one?
Many organizations fail to brand themselves effectively in the talent marketplace. They would be better able to do so if they invested efforts to understand their employee value proposition (EVP).
An EVP describes the characteristics, culture and benefits—from compensation to work environment—of working for an organization. It is, in essence, the contract that tells the employee what he’ll receive in return for his labour.
According to the Corporate Leadership Council, a well-conceived and well-executed EVP can: improve the commitment of new hires by up to 29%; reduce new hire compensation premiums by up to 50%; and increase the chance that employees will advocate for a firm to 47%, versus an average of 24% among non-EVP users.
An effective EVP allows firms to source more intensely while increasing their access to passive candidates. This is important for organizations that want to secure the best talent in a complex labour market.
Most organizations encounter two main struggles with their EVPs. First, they struggle to differentiate themselves from their competition. Differentiation is crucial if an organization is to stand out from the ocean of likeness that characterises some sectors. Second, their branding does not accurately reflect what they really are.
An effective EVP enables an organization to stand out while also ensuring that the wrapping reflects the contents—in other words, that the employer makes good on its promises. All too often, candidates are lured to organizations by the pitch but disappointed by the reality. How do you know whether your EVP is working? The first thing to look at is your ability to retain and attract talent. If you are having challenges with those, your EVP is ineffective.
If your EVP is working, you need to ensure it keeps working. Meet with employees, either in focus groups or at skip-level meetings. Ask what they enjoy most about the company, and what keeps them coming back to work each day. If what they say is in your EVP, great! If not, it’s time to update your EVP to reflect reality. Remember, your goal is to send the right message about your firm as an employer to both current and potential employees.
Carmine Domanico is the president of Cristal International, an HR strategy consultancy in Brampton, Ont.
What are the top behaviours of successful sales managers?
Customers today are seeking partners who will actively work with them to uncover their needs and solve their problems. They crave consultative interaction with their sales representatives.
In this context, it falls on successful sales managers to model consultative sales-management techniques that help their salespeople establish long-term, mutually rewarding partnerships with clients.
Long gone are the days of the authoritarian, hierarchical sales manager. Sales managers today are much more effective when they function as a consultative resource to their people—as a coach, a sounding board and a partner—helping them achieve their targets and, ultimately, their personal potential. When that happens, everyone wins: customer, rep and sales manager.
Top interpersonal skills are the hallmark of a great consultative sales manager. The ability to listen, to reinforce a salesperson’s self-esteem and to provide encouragement, all while still holding reps accountable for results, is a delicate balancing act.
Today’s sales manager must also be organized, disciplined and consistent. These are valuable tactical management skills that ensure a smooth-running, coordinated and focused sales force.
Research has shown that participative and role-model behaviours are essential for successful consultative sales managers. Here are the top tactical activities that achieve such behaviours:
1. Spending time with salespeople in the field.
2. Communicating with each salesperson on a frequent basis.
3. Giving reps credit and praise for work well done.
4. Helping reps achieve their potential.
5. Evaluating sales results and holding reps accountable to these.
Providing frequent performance feedback.
Interestingly, research also shows that for sales managers, people skills are considered more important than analytical skills. The ability to develop team-orientated relationships is deemed especially important.
At root, today’s successful, consultative sales manager achieves success by positioning herself as a leader among teammates rather than the person in charge.
Harvey Copeman is president and CEO of the Canadian Professional Sales Association in Toronto.
How can I tell when market conditions are best for the sale of my business?
In my company’s role as an M&A advisor, one of the most frequent questions we get from owners contemplating the sale of their business is “Is this the right time to sell?” Implied in that question is that you can time the market. Given the volatility of the markets over the past couple of years, it is a good question that’s not easy to answer.
The greater the number of potential buyers that can be identified, the better, as this can lead to competition for the opportunity to acquire the firm. Some buyers may be willing and able to pay more than others to secure the deal. However, while there are peaks and valleys in the M&A market—just like in the housing market—they are not as pronounced. So, ultimately, the individual circumstances of the company will dictate whether the time to sell is now or later.
To obtain the best possible price, a company has to be posting strong results. Growth is always a good selling feature; but, in a slow economy, stability can be equally important.
Generally, in any period of economic downturn, there will be fewer transactions taking place in the market. Obviously, during a downturn, a company’s performance also may be hampered, which tends to depress both the value you might receive for your company and the number of parties that may be interested. While some buyers may see an opportunity to purchase a company at a lower price, many will worry that they won’t be able to right the ship; this latter group of buyers may pass and instead seek out companies that haven’t seen as severe a drop in performance.
A downturn in the economy also can remove potential buyers from the market due to their own underperformance. In the autumn of 2008, a number of buyers withdrew from potential transactions, simply because, with the markets crashing around them, they wanted to know where the bottom was before committing resources to a new acquisition.
With a return to optimism in the markets, buyers are looking at acquisitions once more. Both public companies and private-equity groups have returned to the market, bolstered by lower debt and cash-rich balance sheets. Moreover, they are shopping with some degree of urgency, as investors tend to look harshly on unemployed cash.
Of course, coming off some of the worst years in a decade, a lot of business owners have decided not to sell their firms, preferring to wait until their profitability approaches pre-crash levels. It’s hard to blame any owner for taking this approach, as most buyers put the greatest emphasis on the most recent results. If they aren’t strong, the offers won’t be, either.
While acquirers generally buy with an eye to the future, when pricing a company, the heaviest weight is almost always given to what the company actually has accomplished as opposed to what it hopes to do in the future.
For many companies, the internal factors associated with a sale can be more important in determining timing than the external ones. Shareholder disputes, divorce, injury, retirement or simply a desire to do something different can make the decision whether to take the company to market an easy one for a business owner.
The last, and possibly most important, thing to remember is that selling a business is not usually a quick process. In most cases, a sale isn’t completed for six to 18 months from the start of negotations—during which the company’s valuation can change dramatically.
Finding the right buyer willing to pay the right price can take a long time; often, circumstances may dictate that the right buyer isn’t ready to buy at the time the company puts out the “for sale” sign.
It may help to hit the market during a boom time, but there are no guarantees as to when the company will sell. As a result, if the decision has been made that the company should be sold, it is helpful to get it on the market as soon as possible rather than waiting for what is perceived to be an optimal time.
Jeff Llewellyn is president and managing director of corporate finance at Meyers Norris Penny LLP in Calgary.
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