Mark Sneider uses best practices at RSW/US Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2009

Mark Sneider has been watching competitors expand in an attempt to combat the down economy. They’re offering discounts and looking beyond their core markets for business.

But Sneider knows he doesn’t have to do anything new to succeed. Instead, he zooms in on best practices his employees have been using all along.

“It’s all about staying true to approaches that have been effective and adopting new approaches that we know have been effective for others,” says the founder, owner and president of RSW/US and its sister company, Lead Architects. “It’s staying true to your core. The last thing you want to do is look scattered, not focused and not value-added.”

Sneider encourages employees — nearly 20 between the two lead generation and business development consultancies — to share their best practices to add value to the company. That approach has led RSW/US to double-digit growth since its 2005 inception.

Smart Business spoke to Sneider about instilling a value-added mindset in your employees and encouraging them to learn from each other.

Establish a value-added mindset. When new employees start, I tell them there’s one thing that they need to remember, and that one thing is adding value. Tell your people to constantly add value to your existing client base. Add value when we reach out to prospects, and then the last value-added dimension manifests itself internally — let’s think about ways we can add value to our own organization by finding new ways to improve processes.

Adding value is a hard thing to do because it’s easy just to take the staid and set course of action. The hard thing to do is to take the step back and think about what extra step can I take to improve this situation.

It’s really just showcasing the variety of ways beyond the expected that you can bring value. I tell prospects that we don’t like to think of ourselves as just a lead generation firm. By positioning ourselves that way and talking about all the other things that we can do, that’s how we set ourselves apart.

Showcase and share best practices. Get your salespeople to think about ways that they can add value to the prospects’ world. It could be things as simple as find an interesting article and push it out to that prospect. If they happen to click through to that article, use that as the mechanism to then circle back with that prospect and try and engage with them. It’s giving them a reason why they should sit down with you. It’s fairly 101ish kind of stuff, but people forget about it when they’re in desperate straights. Learn what their needs are, and then showcase how the solutions that we’ve provided for our clients parallel their situation.

You’re going to have salespeople that just follow the predictable course of action. And then you’re going to have some salespeople who are constantly adding value — they’re probably selling more than anybody else. Let’s find out what they’re doing and how they’re talking about it. It’s getting them together to brainstorm, to speak to all of the things they do for their clients. The salespeople need to be talking about those other things. Then draw those that we think present the greatest value and package them to help others figure out how to talk about them.

One of our good performers … put together a whole PowerPoint presentation and presented her ideas to the organization. The organization knows that she’s one of the star performers, and they know that the benefit to them in mirroring some of those approaches is going to be of value to them in their own selling efforts.

It’s easy to say they shouldn’t feel threatened or like less of a salesperson because of it. The key is getting a peer to make those presentations versus having management push those things down.

There was some collaboration between this woman before she made this presentation and myself, making sure that she was sending messages consistent with the messages that I wanted to be sending to the rest of the organization.

Mandate practices to get results. Then make sure that we’re following through on those things, whether it be managers managing these salespeople or weekly status meetings talking about what’s going on, how programs are going — as long as they know that the intent is not to single out and punish but to get them to a better place. So I think a lot of it has to do with how it’s positioned, and it’s got to start at the top.

If you’ve got some butthead running the organization who focuses more on mistakes and doesn’t applaud successes, then that’s going to be a tough thing to effectively move forward to an organization. So if you recognize you’re the butthead, maybe you have other people kind of manage that through the process and follow through on it, people that are a little bit more forgiving.

You have to be able to show results, certainly. Like in our case, [employees] clearly see the success that this person has achieved as a result of the work that they’re doing. Some of it has to be forced upon [others] in order for them to see results. So there are certain things you just have to mandate and make sure that they’re following through on.

Every quarter, we set specific objectives for the team as a whole. It’s just going back and reviewing those objectives, making sure that what we’re doing is helping us achieve them, having open dialogue about the things that they’re doing, the tools that they’re using.

It’s communicating that there’s some basic requirements that have to be set up upfront, that, ‘These things have to be done this way in order for this organization to move ahead. We have data points that suggest if it’s followed through on the way we’re suggesting you follow through on it, here’s what it can do for you. You can sell more. You can get more commission. You can have happier clients.’

How to reach: RSW/US, (513) 559-3101 or