While technical skills are very important to employee success, this is not sufficient to have a fully competent workforce and organization. The skills to operate heavy machinery or medical equipment for example are important, but research shows they aren’t the only skills needed to help your business thrive. Soft skills are a necessity for today’s workers, and as a business owner or manager, you must find a way to standardize those soft skills as core competencies within the company.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are personal attributes – like time management, ability to collaborate, and strong communication – that usually determine how well you work with a team and your ability to lead. These differ from technical or hard skills such as web development, accounting, or anything that requires a degree or certification.
A survey conducted by Morning Consult for Cengage, an educational technology and services company, found the most in-demand talent among employers was listening skills, with 74 percent of employers desiring this skill. Attention to detail was a close second, (70 percent) and effective communication (69 percent) rounded out the top three. These are all soft skills that can apply to any industry.
The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report revealed that in order to keep up with changing technology in the workforce, some of the most important skills to future proof an organization include:
The challenge for employers is it’s extremely difficult to test for, or quantify a candidate’s soft skills, either before hiring or after. Incorporating soft skills into your company’s core competency learning program increases the likelihood that these skills can be taught effectively and adopted by employees company-wide.
While many different soft-skills can be valuable, below are some of the most desirable skills to develop and instill in your employees.
Leadership: All organizations need strong leaders that are able to inspire and motivate other individuals to succeed and work at a high level. Leadership is also crucial during downtimes and periods of stress within the organization. If problems arise, people will look to their leaders to address them.
Teamwork and Collaboration: While individuals will have their own interests in their career, it is important that they are able to interact with other employees not only in a respectful manner, but one that allows teams and departments to get their work done effectively.
Communication Skills: Possessing strong verbal and non-verbal communication skills to effectively speak with team members is crucial. This skill is important in many aspects of a job, whether it be public speaking, communicating ideas to team members, or keeping a positive attitude.
Problem-Solving: It is inevitable that things will go wrong in a business. People that can handle the stress, prioritize tasks, and fix problems are extremely valuable to an organization. This soft skill is even more important for senior level employees, and newcomers that can showcase this skill are likely to move up within an organization.
Emotional Intelligence: This refers to the ability to assess and manage your own emotions while also being aware of the emotions of those around you. Strong emotional intelligence guides you when making decisions and is especially useful in occupations with tight deadlines and high stress.
Time Management: It is essential that individuals understand the importance of balancing urgent tasks with longer term priority ones, and do not get behind on any deadlines or timelines.
Strong Work Ethic: Doing the bare minimum at a job is not enough anymore. An employee with a strong work ethic will do their job well, take on additional responsibilities, and encourage others to do the same. Coworkers with a strong work ethic will help push the organization forward to grow and improve.
In many cases, individuals will be proficient in a few soft skills, but lacking in others that are crucial. For example, you may have a team member who shows excellent communication and collaboration skills but is challenged with time management. In order to grow those necessary soft skills in your employees, incorporate a competency management tool that allows you to offer soft-skills training, evaluation, and ongoing education.
Recruiting, training, and retaining employees who show strong soft skill abilities can be very difficult to implement. How do you measure a worker’s time management ability, for example? Or, how will you know if a new hire can handle the pressure of a demanding client and tight deadlines? But while this can be difficult, it is crucial. And investing in soft-skills training software will allow you to retain the best employees. This LinkedIn survey states 94 percent of respondents would be less likely to leave a company that offered them development opportunities.
Training for soft skills requires a holistic approach. While a good learning management system can help keep track of your team’s training efforts, it’s also important to recognize when your employees are ready to explore new soft skills or advance those they are currently practicing. A competency software can show learning pathways and optional competencies for advanced roles that employees can take to prepare themselves for the future.
It can also track outside trainings such as team building efforts, which are often most beneficial when completed outside the office. More than three-fourths of workers say they’re more productive when they get a chance to get out of the office, so start planning a retreat that offers a new environment and opportunity for collaboration. Use the retreat as a chance to bring your team together, build trust, and make goals for how to expand and be successful moving forward. These notes and data can be captured in the system using a mobile phone or tablet.
In order for soft skills development to work, your employees must be primed and ready for the change ahead. Even if they’re not sure how to go about improving soft skills, there must be a willingness to learn. If you sense resistance from your group, try assigning a reading project to your team. Books like That’s Not How We Do It Here!: A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall–and Can Rise Again by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber will put a spotlight on the company’s largest challenges and help your employees understand how to develop a positive outlook and turn them into opportunities.
CABEM Competency Manager
While it can be difficult to measure the success of soft skills, our Competency Manager product offers a variety of features that can help you ensure your employees are making strides toward improved communication, leadership, collaboration, and more. In addition to the traditional training methods of test taking and watching videos, our product allows you to track and measure mentoring efforts, any off site workshop attendance, and even manager sign-off of competency.
When a leader sees an employee demonstrate the learned skill, through practice scenarios or in daily work, the manager or supervisor can verify and approve the skill.
Our system also accounts for any outside credentials or certifications, whether earned with the current employer or in the past. This can help paint a more complete picture of an employee’s competency to their role and other requirements.
Finally, for those employees who lack the soft skills necessary for more senior roles in your business, you can create a mentorship program. Use soft skills training features to assign a senior employee to a junior worker. The partnership not only helps employees develop these necessary skills, but also allows senior team members to strengthen their leadership, communication abilities, and other soft skills.
A comprehensive competency management software can help you meet your company’s performance goals, train to technical and soft skills, and put in measures for continued education.
In today’s competitive marketplace, it should be your goal to offer employees soft-skills training. If you’d like to learn more about our competency management software, request an introductory call.
All business owners require information technology to run their business. This list discusses the basic areas required to have safe and productive information systems. Threats can come from outside or inside your organization, or due to poor IT management. Know these 10 areas, commit to them, and you will have a secure program.
4. Know what your mission critical systems and applications are.
Those applications that are required to run your business should receive your priority attention.
5. Have a data and application backup and availability plan.
Those critical applications have critical data. Back up the data. Geographically and digitally separate mission critical apps and data. Have a disaster recovery plan so you can bring the critical applications back online as quickly as you need them.
6. Keep software patches current.
Patches are critical to security maintenance. Be diligent here, or the hackers will know how to exploit you.
Take the next step and use Network Intrusion Detection and Prevention tools too. Install firewalls to protect your assets.
8. Employ good password management policy.
Use strong passwords. In more critical cases, expire passwords and use multi-factor authentication. If possible, employ a centralized management tools and processes, like Active Directory, so you can quickly and thoroughly take away privileges.
9. Maintain an Incident management plan.
When there’s a problem, who needs to know and who can solve the problem? Don’t leave this to chance. Create a game plan before it happens.
10. Remember that physical security matters!
Lock critical equipment up, otherwise someone can steal critical equipment or tamper with it.
Know who the vendors are and what systems they have access to. IT people like leaving backdoors open so they can get into applications and systems. So can hackers, or disgruntled employees.
You can use this list like a checklist to see where you stand. Employing secure systems is a journey. In those areas that you are vulnerable, start the process of mitigating the risk. Attack the easiest solution and largest risk issues first, whether you do it yourself, or bring in consultants to support the process – make sure it is on your radar screen. To learn more about our cybersecurity and custom software offerings, request a consultation call today!
About CABEM Technologies LLC:
Founded in early 2002, CABEM Technologies is a custom software company that provides sophisticated products, solutions, and technology services to a discerning client base. With expertise in custom development and cybersecurity, we provide solutions to a variety of markets including healthcare, government, manufacturing, financial, environmental, and more.
The core competencies of your team will inevitably change over time. As technology progresses and customers demand new products and services, you’ll be forced to adapt. The skills that your team uses now will need to be reshaped and upgraded, but keeping up with those changes isn’t always easy. As the need for upskilling and reskilling your employees becomes greater, your organization needs a way to track the necessary trainings to ensure your team is ready to stay competitive in an ever-changing environment.
“According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, more than 375 million workers may need to completely change their skill sets by the year 2030. This would happen because of newer technologies such as digitization, AI (artificial intelligence) and automation disrupting the world of work,” according to difin. While it may be difficult to predict the exact industry changes that will occur beyond the next decade, there’s no denying that technology is playing a significant role in the workplace. Preparing your company with a competency management software to track competencies, perform online trainings, and map out the skillsets necessary for each role can help.
Upskilling means to teach employees new or additional skills. It is the practice of involving your team members in continuous education. Upskilling helps prepare your employees to advance on their current career path and role, for example going from a Marketing Coordinator to a Marketing Manager. “The nature of hiring, training, and working in our culture is shifting,” said Elise Spaulding, director of learning and performance at The Reserves Network. “With these employment market changes, businesses need to ensure they don’t lose good employees to their competitors. Upskilling is a great way to invest in your employees – not only does it help your business, but it shows your interest in contributing to the career and interests of your staff.”
Research shows that 40 percent of employees who don’t receive the necessary job training to become effective will leave their positions within the first year. Placing an emphasis on upskilling is a win-win because it will help you to retain top talent, and also improve the skills of your employees, resulting in improved performance for the whole organization.
Upskilling your employees means new credentials will be necessary over time. And your employees will appreciate and recognize the company’s dedication and emphasis on continuous learning. In a recent survey of employee preference, 70% said that training and development opportunities influenced their decision to stay with a company.
What is Reskilling?
Reskilling is the practice of learning new skills so an employee is prepared for a new role on a different career path. While upskilling teaches employees advanced skills that allows them to improve and move up, reskilling is a lateral learning experience, for example changing from a Marketing Coordinator to a Web Developer.
Reskilling is a practice that sometimes is needed as a maintenance as technology progresses, but also can be brought about my specific events in the economy. The recession brought on reskilling practices in nearly every industry. An estimated 2.6 million workers lost their jobs in 2008. As workers were let go, those left behind were tasked with more duties so production wouldn’t fall behind. The remaining workers were reskilled to complete the jobs of recently terminated co-workers. And some of the workers who lost their jobs were forced to reskill to get back into the job market.
When team members are cross trained, they make themselves more valuable to their employer and to prospective employers. Dan Shapero, VP of Talent Solutions, Careers, and Learning at LinkedIn, says, “Teams with diverse skill sets usually win… Ultimately the most important question is what the team needs to be successful and perform at its potential, and whether this person raises the performance of the team or not.”
Upskilling and Reskilling with Competency Software
While the need for adding a skillset may be identified in an employee or a team, understanding the exact skill or how to go about training to the skill can be unclear. Having an established competency framework can help organizations to assign skill sets and competencies by role, document when reskilling or upskilling is needed, and train to these emerging requirements.
When a worker is in a
role and does not have the proper skills, there can be health and safety risks
to the organization, especially in fields such as construction, healthcare, and
manufacturing. A competency software can help forecast potential risks so
managers and HR can take the necessary action to prevent any problems. A system
of this kind can publish reports on any potential skills gaps, and highlight
areas of new trainings that can help fill these gaps.
This type of software can
also be configured so employees can view optional skills and trainings, and
have the freedom to upskill themselves and increase their value as an employee.
For upskilling or
reskilling that requires certification and documentation, a software system can
track any necessary credentials in user profiles, and notify users when they
need to be recertified.
And maybe most importantly, a competency management software will prepare your team and company for changes in the future by incorporating upskilling and reskilling as regular practices into your organization. If you are interested in learning more, we offer competency management software, called the Competency Manager (CMGR), which solves these needs. Schedule a demo of our Competency Manager software today.
Credentialing is an important task in a variety of
industries, especially in those where there are health and safety concerns such
as law enforcement, construction, or manufacturing. When there are legal
requirements to credentialing employees and making sure they have the required
skills and experience to do the job properly, it is crucial that organizations
manage and track this information effectively.
For smaller organizations, the credentialing process
is usually managed with filing cabinets and a combination of Office Suite
applications such as Word Documents or Excel spreadsheets. But as organizations
grow and their needs become more complicated, software is needed to keep up to
date with credentialing requirements. Keeping track of the required paperwork, managing
any expired credentials, upcoming trainings, and more can be a cumbersome
Credentialing is not only beneficial to the organization, but to the individual as well. Employees who have optional certifications in their required industry can be more valuable and get better jobs in their field. Robert Half’s salary guide suggests some credentials can increase your salary by 10 percent or more.
While there are many options on the market today, many cater specifically to the medical and healthcare industry, which is the most credentialed industry according to studies from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you would like to learn more about the options available, read our article on the best credentialing management software platforms out today. While it’s easy to recognize the importance of healthcare credentialing, its important to mention the other industries that can benefit from this type of software.
Some industries other than healthcare that have
extensive credentialing requirements include:
In this blog post we will discuss these industries and
how credentialing software can help make the process of tracking all required
certifications and credentials more efficient and stress-free.
There are more than 670,000 law enforcement officers in the United States. Each of those officers must complete a thorough training and onboarding process, as well as maintain and renew specific certifications each year. Examples of licenses a police officer would have include a firearms license, a CPR certification, and/or a K9 unit certification. Law enforcement leaders and state agencies are tasked with keeping up with the credentials of each officer. Having credentialing software for law enforcement agencies allows them to better:
safety for officers and citizens.
penalties and fines for lapsed credentials.
a more prepared law enforcement for ever-changing technology.
Credentialing software for law enforcement also allows
the unit to not only track the certification of its force, but also make sure
any third-party vendors are properly vetted. A law enforcement agency that has
this type of software can make sure any vendors such as IT companies or
security have the proper access credentials to be on site and perform their
duties. When law enforcement officials are protected while doing their job,
they can better protect the community.
Credentialing In Construction
It goes without saying that quality construction companies don’t want just anyone constructing buildings or using heavy machinery on a project site. There are roughly 150,000 construction site accident injuries each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Before a construction worker attempts a new skill, he or she must be able perform this in the field. A proper credentialing software system with training capabilities can administer internal certifications and records of completed on the job training. It can also store any outside certifications that are required such as OSHA, or other courses an individual has taken such as from NACE. This way no employee will be operating equipment that he or she is not properly trained on or is not certified.
Credentialing software for a construction company can
notify admins when employees need safety or other training, and when
credentials are about to expire such as any OSHA documentation.
A full 15 percent of workers’ compensation costs are spent on workers who were injured while at a construction site. By incorporating a credentialing software platform into the business, construction company owners may not only benefit from fewer workers’ comp claims, but they’ll also:
By choosing a credentialing software that can be
customized, construction company owners can also keep record of equipment and
any maintenance work completed on the machinery. Ensuring that each machine
meets OSHA standards of safety is crucial to maintaining a hazard-free work
workers are properly credentialed before operating large machinery.
all workers current on safety standards.
fewer injuries to workers on site.
Credentialing In Manufacturing
While credentialing isn’t as commonly required in manufacturing, it still can benefit an organization in that industry as well as prospective job-seekers. “Credentials included in this group cover foundational academic, personal and workplace skills; cross-cutting technical skills; and occupation-specific skills,” according to National Network’s list of manufacturing credentials. Whether your crews handle machining and metal working or welding and automation, having a competent workforce is important. There are several organizations that provide courses and certifications in the field of manufacturing, such as the Manufacturing Institute, which offers everything from fabrication to die casting.
Manufacturing credentials can help increase the
effectiveness, efficiency, and performance of the labor market, and when
manufacturers employ a reliable credentialing software platform, they benefit
that the facilities have the properly skilled workers and can keep up
products with consistent quality
safety in the workplace and compliance with OSHA
Bettering the credentialing process in the
manufacturing industry helps companies meet the overwhelming demand for skilled
laborers. There is a projected shortage of 2 million manufacturing workers over
the next decade, according to a study by Deloitte and the
Manufacturing Institute. Utilizing a credentialing software for manufacturing
can help companies recruit and retain the best remaining workers in the
Credentialing In Finance
The finance industry has many specialty credentials
for experts in different areas. Whether your employees are tasked with
assisting customers with their savings, retirement, or home loan, you need to
know that the worker is specifically skilled in that practice. Different
credentials are needed for different specialty services, like financial planning,
retirement planning, investment management, and insurance professionals. A
credentialing software for the finance industry is a great way to keep the
For financial planning firms, for example, employees should have the Certified Financial Plannercertification. Being able to assure your clients that your employees have the most current education, skill-set, and can work with the most advanced technology can help grow your business. Likewise, for the retirement planning sector, The Balance advises employees should be credentialed with one of the following three designations:
Management Analyst (RMA)
Income Certified Professional (RICP)
Retirement Counselor (CRC)
The finance industry has a responsibility to build
trust with the customer. Using a customizable credentialing system allows you
to keep track of your employee’s credentials and abilities to meet the
customer’s needs. No matter the financial sector you operate in, your team can
benefit from a credentialing software in the following ways:
and maintain the most qualified candidates.
trust with customer by promoting the credentials of your employees.
all industry standards required for your financial services.
advise your client’s finances and promote growth within your company.
Because there are numerous credentials available to
finance professionals, the credentialing software allows you to keep track of
them all in an efficient and automated way.
There are more than 6,200 hospitals in the United States operating on a collective budget of more than $1 trillion, according to the American Hospital Association. With more than 36.5 million people being admitted into a U.S. hospital each year, it is easy to understand the important of credentialing in the medical field. While it’s crucial to offer the most skilled and qualified medical professionals to each person in need, its also important to consider the broader economy and other industries that impact the health and safety of individuals.
For the local law enforcement units tasked with
protecting those hospitals, proper credentialing is essential. The construction
companies hired to build the hospitals or add on specialty units must have the
most advanced skills to construct a reliable facility. For the patients who
rely on proper manufacturing of medical devices and equipment, the credentials
of those employees are important too. And lastly, without the professional
financial guidance and backing of finance facilities, the hospitals may not be
able to stay in operation.
All of these significant and important industries work
together to keep the public safe and healthy, and require the use of proper
certifications and credentials. The organizations that can manage these
requirements the most effectively use software to do so.
As your credentialing requirements evolve and grow, consider
the benefits of implementing a system that allows you to track, renew, and
monitor the necessary credentials of your team members automatically with
We have built a program that solves this need, called the Competency Manager. If you’d like to see a product demo of our competency and credentialing software system, or ask any other questions, please visit our website.
Competency Management Software can help organizations manage and grow the skills, knowledge, and behaviors required for each employee to perform successfully to a job role. The earliest version of this type of software was custom developed by government organizations such as NASA and the U.S. Coast Guard. Today, this type of program is available to all companies, and is especially useful to those in manufacturing, construction, finance, healthcare, and more.
The best competency management software programs are not only designed to track employee competencies, but they’re also built to be modified as the company grows and those requirements evolve. We discuss the value of this type of software in more detail in our article on competency management and the future of learning and development.
Competency management can benefit employees by allowing them more opportunities to grow their skills and aid in their professional development. These benefits also help the entire company grow and succeed. According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), companies who invest in advanced training tools, like competency management software, enjoy a 218 percent higher income per employee compared to companies that do not.
Finding the competency management software that best fits your company is not easy. The program must solve your immediate learning and development needs, be easy to use, and also be able to evolve and be customized as your organization grows.
To help with your selection process, below we have outlined the top 8 competency management software systems on the market today.
CABEM’s Competency Manager
Here at CABEM we have studied the changing learning and development landscape, and as a result of our findings, developed the Competency Manager to help organizations with their talent management needs. The program is a competency management software that provides a framework for individual competency. With it organizations can build competency models, train employees, track credentials, and reduce risk.
The software is designed for you to create learning and development programs, assign them, and track the required hard and soft skills employees need based on their assigned role, location, and more. The software allows for storing any required certifications and individual credentials, and comes with a reporting suite that includes a skills gap analysis, activity grid, risk reporting, and more.
Our team works with you to identify your needs and can customize the software with modules or further development if needed, or it can be deployed in the cloud and you can get started right away. If you are interested in learning more about the Competency Manager, we’d love to schedule a demo today.
Avilar’s competency management software can be used to train your individuals, understand the skills of your workforce, and perform competency assessments. The power of the system comes from the Avilar Employee Competency Model, which is comprised of more than 350 skills within 50 skill groups.
The model is designed for corporate, government and non-profit organizations. It addresses three key skill sets for the many facets of your company: Professional Skills, Leadership Skills, and Occupational Skills. Avilar’s content partners offer easy access to up-to-date and cost-effective online training courses. Their competency-based performance management tool can be used “as is” or customized to meet the specific needs of your organization, and the organization can work with you to consult and implement this system.
The HRSG’s Competency Core gives access to 300+ behavioral, technical, and leadership competencies. The competencies can be edited and linked to the job descriptions in your company. The software also comes with existing job descriptions such as accounting, marketing, and software development.
The behavioral competencies focus on the soft skills of your employees such as team-building or time-management. Technical competencies cover the application of knowledge and skills to perform specific tasks. Leadership competencies are used to harness leadership talents and translate them into measurable skills and behaviors. The system even allows you to build competency-based interviews for the onboarding and hiring process. And for existing employees, they have access to career management tools to promote internal growth and advancement of their career within the organization.
The competency management system from Kahuna is ideal for small to large corporations who are in need of a cloud-based system to assign competencies and assessments, track performance, and plan for future workforce needs. Kahuna also offers a mobile app that makes core competency tracking easier for managers. The software can also suggest development opportunities for existing employees as needed. And if this does not solve company needs, Kahuna can create action plans to hire for those required skills.
Lexonis partners with IBM to offer a comprehensive library of technical and behavioral competencies so companies can customize the skills needed for individual positions. The Lexonis Competency Framework goes beyond competency management by also offering performance management, career planning, and recruitment. The program helps company owners and managers view, manage, and share competency data from one convenient location. The cloud-based system is subscription based and easy to launch.
The Talentguard competency management system consists of thousands of skills in more than 22 industries. The software allows employees to showcase their skills, experiences, certifications, and work history, and can even be used to crowdsource employee suggestions of new skills.
There are multiple levels of proficiency in each competency to allow for growth of each employee. The system also provides interview questions and coaching tips for supervisors while assisting employees with different competencies. Lastly, TalentGuard provides consulting services for its customers in areas including career pathing, performance management, competency development, succession planning, and more.
Simple and easy to use, the Skills DB Pro Competency Management Software is designed to accurately evaluate the skills of current and new employees. Skills DB Pro allows you to set up the desired skill set and skill levels for each job role in your company.
The software can be customized for your team and the company offers the services of competency framework consultants who help “expedite the process of developing a competency framework for your business.” The system offers more than 3,000 skills and 2,000 job roles. The Skills DB Pro consultants create your custom system by using pre-defined skills and roles to help launch your software more quickly. You can also use the software to identify any skill gaps and create training plans to fill them.
Cornerstone offers a wide range of HR-centric tools including a recruiting, learning, performance, and HR suite. They offer competency management software as part of their performance management suite. The program catalogs, manages, and develops the skill sets of employees, and includes pre-defined competencies to help businesses assign the correct skills. Cornerstone is able to work with large enterprise organizations and smaller one as well, and has a team of experts standing by to help with implementation.
Cornerstone works as a complete HR suite to keep the onboarding, training, and competencies in one central location. With the software you can enable your teams with curated content that includes targeted soft-skills, technical skills, and super-skills, and can select talent that will benefit most from upskilling and reskilling.
Credentialing is the “verification of a person’s education, training and experience” according to the compliance company HCPro. This process to make sure that individuals have the proper documentation and are proficient in performing their duties is necessary to keep organizations compliant. Whether you’re tasked with renewing your own staff’s qualifications, need to verify vendors’, or both, keeping necessary credentials valid and up to date is crucial. Most often used in the healthcare field, an individual needs credentialing if he or she is “In general, any licensed, independent, healthcare professional who has been permitted by law and regulated by a licensing organization to provide services and care…” according to the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Innovation) working with the NIH (National Institutes of Health).
While credentialing is most often discussed in the healthcare field, it is also a necessity in many other industries including law enforcement, manufacturing, construction, finance, and more. In some cases, employees are tasked with assessing themselves. In others, a team within an organization, such as an HR department or Compliance Group, is designated to handle skills assessments and the credentialing process for its members. In either case, the credentialing process is far from easy, and can be a time-consuming and tedious task. Managing certifications usually requires that an organization keep record of an individual’s expiration dates, certification requirements, compliance with any regulation changes, and often much more, for all of its members.
Taking extra precautions in your credentialing program is especially vital given the many regulation changes in recent years. “Over the past 20 years, the credentialing process has become complex and onerous primarily due to the expansion of the provider scope of practice, accrediting bodies, and requirements of third-party payers like Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers,” according to the NCBI.
While credentialing is not a novel concept, it has evolved greatly over the years and gotten increasingly more complex. In order to make the process as stress-free as possible, it is important to be aware of common pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Contacting the many sources for credentialing verification means you need to start the process early. It’s best to give yourself at least 150 days ahead of the credential expiration date for the application to be processed. Keep in mind that working this far in advance can bring its own challenges, as it means you are constantly processing credentials for different team members at different times, and must have a method for managing your ever-rotating calendar of expirations.
Not Paying Attention to Details
Errors documented on an application can prolong the credentialing process or lead to a denial in certification. Practice information such as the address, phone number, services provided, employment history, copies of licensure, and documentation of any legal troubles involving the practice will be requested on the credentialing application. Before it is submitted, the credentialing document should be thoroughly reviewed by more than one person to ensure accuracy, prevent any incomplete information, and ensure there are no issues.
For organizations that are credentialing their members with a paper-based system, or even a system with an Office suite such as Word Documents and Excel spreadsheets, it can be difficult and cumbersome to track down the appropriate documents when necessary. Individuals with different filing conventions or document titling may take longer than expected to find their proper credentials or lose them altogether. To remedy this, agree as an organization to store the documents in an agreed upon content manager, such as in a cloud-based software, and use consistent naming structures.
No Continuity of Data
When credentialing is completed manually or by multiple people, even with consistent naming it is very likely that the documents are in different places on each respective computer or filing cabinet. If a key staff member leaves and does not properly transfer their documents to the replacement, it is common that some data will be lost in the process.
Not Enough Resources Dedicated to Credentialing
Credentialing can be a complicated and tedious process. Make sure you have allocated enough staff and provided them with the tools they need to do the job properly. This process may require multiple team members or even a whole department, depending on the size of the organization and credentialing requirements.
Failure to Follow Up with the Application
Take every step possible to confirm receipt of the application, see if it is being processed properly, and if there are any mistakes that need to be resolved. Do not rely on them to contact you, and keep in contact with the assigned personnel throughout, to help catch any issues in advance.
While these common mistakes and issues can cause legal challenges for an organization, they can easily be avoided by switching from a manual or paper-based process to an automated one with software. Let’s take a look at how software can lead to a more efficient credentialing program. And if you are interested, read our article on the best credentialing software programs available today.
Credentialing software is a cloud-based system that allows your team to easily manage credentials and CMEs, set notifications for expirations and renewals, and access documentation, all from a centralized platform.
By implementing credentialing software, the process becomes automated, relieving you and your team of the ongoing responsibility of searching through old paperwork, trying to contact team members, and the other manual tasks that can be involved with credentialing management.
With a software system in place it is much more likely that an individual person or at least a much smaller team can handle this process, which frees up team members to work on other priority matters. This go-to person or team needs to be thoroughly trained in the software program that you implement and will often communicate with the software vendor as needed.
Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Credentialing
The best credentialing software programs also come equipped with the ability to conduct trainings within the platform, helping your employees learn the necessary information and take the proper classes to be credentialed. Each business is different, but inadequate training is a challenge that’s faced in any industry. And when it comes to credentialing, not having a properly trained workforce can lead to future legal problems for your organization.
By inputting the training requirements for specific roles and even locations or departments into the credentialing software program, all individuals can be automatically assigned any tests or assessments they need, and can read about regulations by state or accrediting body if need be.
The team can then take the proper tests and trainings to learn the information and be approved, with record of completion all kept within the system. The software can also make it easy to adjust the requirements, so if state regulations or role requirements change, you can easily update the information, reassign the necessary testing, and be confident that your team is still compliant.
The lack of comprehensive tools to track credentials often leaves healthcare facilities facing expiring credentials or other compliance issues. With credentialing software an organization can automate the process of scheduling multiple alerts for specific days that credentials need to be updated, and can automatically send messages to relevant employees to remind them of work that needs to be done on their end.
Transitioning from paperwork and manual tracking of credentials to a software system simplifies your day-to-day, saves time, and allows for better future planning. You can avoid the most common credentialing challenges and eliminate complications in a much more efficient and effective way with software.
CABEM’s Credentialing System
At CABEM we understand the difficulties organizations can face with the process of managing and tracking credentials, which is why we created software to address this problem.
Our solution is called the Competency Manager, and can be used by organizations to manage the competency of their individuals by tracking credentials, storing documents, sending automated alerts, automating expirations and renewals, and conducting any trainings or assessments necessary. If you would like to learn more, please visit our website and schedule a call today
Credentialing software is used for organizations to store, track, and update the necessary credentials and certifications of its members. In many cases the process of tracking all necessary credentials is tedious and time consuming. While this need is most common with medical credentialing for healthcare providers and other medical professionals, companies in many industries such as law enforcement, financial, manufacturing, construction, and more are required to track credentials.
This type of software platform is designed not only to store employee credentials, but also set reminders to automatically notify when renewals are necessary, and some providers even suggest other courses to take for continuous learning. If you currently manage this process using Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, or even a simple filing cabinet with paper, you know how complex it can be. We suggest looking at credentialing software to save your department lots of time, and more reliably make sure you are following all of the necessary requirements. By having individual profiles for each employee, managers are able to quickly verify the level of training a team member has completed – even allowing individual members to log in to their own profile to see if there are any outstanding courses to take or certifications to update.
Credentialing software can also be used to handle any vendor requirements, not just internal staff. With online software, it is easier for vendors who are on site or off to log in, verify they have the necessary credentials, and proceed with their job.
If credentialing software seems like a good fit for you, read on to see the top 10 credentialing management software products out in the market in 2019.
Image Credit / CABEM Technologies
Here at CABEM, we believe that all organizations have unique needs that change over time. We have created a credentialing and competency management software that can work out of the box or be customized with different modules to fit your always evolving business needs. The Competency Manager is a credentialing management system that allows you to track credentials, train employees, and reduce risk across the organization.
With the platform you can eliminate spreadsheets and filing cabinets with document libraries to store employee certifications, credentials, CMEs and any other records for current and past years. Save time by setting up automatic notifications for any certification expirations or necessary renewals. The system has permission-based portals for vendors as well, so they have access to see their own credentials but block them from seeing other important information.
Modio Health has credentialing software that was developed by physicians and credentialing experts. It is meant to automate the healthcare credentialing process so your physicians and other professionals can focus on patient care. The platform is very intuitive and easy for your entire team of medical professionals to use. Modio Health OneView pulls data from public services and primary source verification to collect provider details like education, license numbers, DEA, NPI, and more, helping you to stay compliant.
OurRecords is a cloud-based credentialing and compliance management solution that allows businesses to store, manage, and enable access to verified credentials and records. The software manages data for a business’ team members as well as vendors and partners, all in one centralized location. Supplier and vendor records like W9s, state registration, and other compliance documents can be automated through OurRecords. The system can be customized by groups, each with unique requirements and credentialing objectives.
MD-Staff, the healthcare credentialing software by Applied Statistics & Management, makes everything from daily tasks to logging CME (Continuing Medical Education) hours easier for medical professionals. The software offers the ability to store nearly any piece of provider information. Batches of data, like checklists, alarms, and customized workflows can be developed for individual providers. The reporting system of the tool offers an expansive library of built-in reports, including a list of expiration dates for license, insurance, board certification, and reappointment information.
Kareo focuses specifically on the credentialing process for independent medical practices. The system is designed to handle a multitude of tasks from writing notes and prescriptions to supporting your in-house billing process, and offers enhanced EHR (electronic health records) functionality. The software also can support your insurance billing system, and even helps with marketing to promote your practice online and make it easier to find.
Newport Credentialing has credentialing management software that can make onboarding for the healthcare industry quick and easy. The platform offers analytics via real-time dashboards and KPIs to get a big-picture view of the credentialing lifecycle. The software is designed to assist credentialing experts by maximizing their time and working on enrollments with the highest financial impact.
Credential Agent stores your team’s credentialing information in an easy-to-see format and helps you keep employee or vendor credentials up to date. You can create a customized schedule that reminds you when it’s time to renew a certain credential, and receive an automated email, 90, 60, 30, or even one day prior to the expiration. These alerts can be sent directly to the employee, human resources manager, and anyone else relevant to the process. You can also run reports ahead of time to see what certifications will expire soon, and take action accordingly.
IntelliCred from the IntelliSoftGroup is dedicated to being an easy-to-implement software credentialing system, and help you manage primary source verification and credentialing. The software group offers access to data consultants who help in the migration process for clients moving from one platform to IntelliCred. With the platform you can gather, store, and access the data necessary to maintain accreditation. The system can manage workflow actions and provider data for multiple facilities and units, even if the credentialing and verification regulations may differ.
Silversheet provides one-step verifications for medical licenses and certifications. It helps you automate tasks with reminders, maintain a compliant facility, and centralize credentialing management in the cloud, allowing your facilities to go paperless. The company offers technical support via phone, email, and live chat with a representative who works with you one-on-one until your issue is resolved.
symplr offers a suite of credentialing software for many different aspects of medical credentialing, whether for vendors or providers. The symplyr software streamlines the complex processes associated with privileging, credentialing, and payor enrollment. It helps with general credentialing, visitor management, exclusion screening, and more. The software can be a big help for any medical credentialing software needs.
Conclusion on Best Credentialing Software
Credentialing management software can help organizations simplify the process of credentialing and remaining compliant. Whether it’s with automated reminders, at a glance dashboards, and document management to store certifications. Going paperless and switching to a cloud-based credentialing system can help save organizations time, money, and headache. There are many options out there available to solve these needs, and we hope this article helps you choose the best solution for your organization.
Millennials bring a different attitude to the workplace than prior generations, and with that, new challenges for businesses and their leadership. Management must learn to adopt new core competencies and ways of guiding these new employees. Focusing on competency management can be an effective way to do this.
In an article in Workforce.com, Bill Passmore and Sylvester Taylor wrote about how the new generational preferences are forcing leaders to adjust their core competencies.
They stated, “Millennials are looking for challenging assignments that provide opportunities for learning and growth. As only about 13 percent of the workforce is highly engaged, there is much work to be done.” While on the surface this generation seems less engaged, they also noted that the generation doesn’t want to leave their current jobs necessarily, but instead are seeking more opportunities to grow where they currently work.
If you have young people in your department, you should be aware of their workplace preferences. Some of these include:
Transparency in pathways to career advancement
A more flexible work environment
Mentorship from their superiors
Gamification elements in workforce trainings
A strong workplace culture and emphasis on social impact
Public recognition for their workplace accomplishments
A competency management system can help a company better integrate these preferences and more engaging methods of learning and development. This group of young, energetic, and passionate employees can be a big benefit to any organization.
Retaining Millennial Employees Throughout their Career
Much has been written about the new generation’s job hopping. According to CareerBuilder, employers expect 45% of their newly hired college grads to leave after two years, and the study also showed that by age 35, about 25% of young employees will have worked five jobs. The stigma that may have accompanied job-hopping for previous generations no longer applies.
But as stated above, millennials will stay if they feel they have opportunities to grow. Outlining job-specific competencies, defined as the hard and soft skills required for specific jobs within the organization, can help to engage them. A study of the Canadian workplace identified “quick advancement” as being essential, and according to Forbes, this desire is even ahead of compensation level.
Companies who can show career pathways for advancement will be able to retain their current young workforce better. Competency management can assist you with this process, by benchmarking milestones for training, promotion, and increases in salaries. It also can help make transparent the skills and experience required for advanced roles that a young employee may want to aspire to. This could be a role on their current path, or a lateral move into a new function or department within the organization.
This is because another preference of is the ability to learn from a variety of disciplines. According to a Forbes article on managing millennials, they “are especially motivated by dynamic, cross-functional positions.”
Companies with a flat structure or at least cross-functional roles will do better in attracting and retaining these employees. A competency management system can assist in this by tracking skills required for multiple positions, and give individuals the ability to access and complete optional learning activities if they have the motivation to.
The millennial generation views work-life balance very differently than their predecessors. They want a more flexible work environment and many don’t want to adhere to the traditional 9-5 structure. A study by Canadian Business stated that 70% of millennials would prefer to work remotely.
Many companies are experimenting with various workday structures, such as half days on Fridays, working from home one day a week, and some companies even operate 100% remotely. Not that every company needs to go this far, but don’t be afraid to experiment with your work schedule and options, as your younger employees will thank you for it.
Incorporate Mentorship into Your Organization
Millennials value growth opportunities, and for this reason, would rather have a mentor-mentee relationship than a traditional boss-employee one. A leader who can practice empathy, guidance, and nurture a millennial throughout their career will gain his or her loyalty.
This generation appreciates positive reinforcement, and does better with more frequent check-ins with constructive criticism and praise as appropriate. The traditional annual review is not as effective, and according to Inc, they prefer “regular feedback – and mentoring to learn, grow, stretch, and improve.”
Keep in mind that a mentor does not have to be an employee’s direct superior either, and often its better if this is not the case. Establish a structure of mentorship within your company using a competency software system if you can, and assign mentors as a learning method to new employees. The extra attention and relationship-building will not only help prevent them from leaving, but will nurture them into even more effective and fully competent workers.
Millennials grew up playing video games, and another tactic that can help teach this generation is through the process of gamification.
This technique is defined as “the application of game theory concepts and techniques to non-game activities” by TechTarget. And according to LMS provider Docebo, one strategy to teach millennials effectively is to “build out a gamification model that maps competencies into tangible elements. Using leaderboards, badges, points, a little bit of your travel budget, and some departmental goodwill, you can build a full competency management program that can motivate your learners.”
While assigning badges or points to skills can work, organizations can get more creative with their rewards. One of the current clients of our own competency management system, the Competency Manager, assigns points based on community service hours taken by employees, and rewards them with gift cards when they reach certain hour-thresholds.
Gamification is an example of a company finding creative ways to engage and motivate millennials, giving them positive reinforcement for advancing, and showing them that this learning can be exciting.
Millennials do not simply want a place to work to earn money, but to contribute positively to the world and make an impact. They are idealistic and driven by a sense of purpose and desire to make a difference. They prioritize companies that either have a mission of social good, such as a charity or other non-profit, or companies that have programs in place such as volunteering to contribute in other ways. The 2016 Millennial Impact Report stated that 46% of responders had volunteered within the past month.
And Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2015 showed that millennials want to be part of something bigger than themselves. In a world where a sense of a deeper mission inspires more than half the workforce, core competencies can be transformative. Core competencies define the fundamental values and strengths shared by the entire organization, going deeper than the basic skills required to be a good employee. These competencies are likely a part of a millennial’s life outside of work, and he or she will value the company even more if they are also a part of work life.
Millennials have grown up expecting to be recognized for their accomplishments. Whether it’s the “8th place trophies” from Little League, or the constant assurance from social media likes, they want to be noticed. While its easy to look at this as a negative attribute, it can be turned into a positive. As mentioned earlier, gamification can inspire employees internally to achieve more. And externally, millennial employees can be your best brand ambassadors. Involve them in company-wide seminars, workshops, networking events, etc. that they are passionate about, and they will be happy to share pictures, videos, and more online to their social networks.
Social media is the glue that holds them together, it is their means of communication. And as a young person meets a particular milestone in work, encouraging that he or she advertises this through Twitter, Facebook or Instagram will let friends know about their career success, and further motivate the employee. It also may attract friends and other people in that person’s network to join the company or consume its content and products.
Leadership Competencies Need to Change with the Workforce
The takeaway is that the workforce is changing, and the way we define leadership needs to change with it. Our workplaces are filling up with high-potential, high-expectation millennials who bring a wealth of energy, enthusiasm, and ideas, but without the right leadership to nurture and retain them, they won’t stay long. HRSG (Human Resource Systems Group) reported that “a competency-based approach to talent management can help facilitate a shift towards a more millennial-friendly culture in several ways.”
Competency management is the new method of learning development that is most effective for the new generation in the workforce. It is appealing because it takes into account soft skills and opportunities for growth within an organization in a more comprehensive way. While leadership competencies such as “Embracing Diversity” or “Using Empathy” may seem unnecessary or hard to prove the ROI, it is these types of skills that millennials want to learn and value in others.
Competency management software can also help to promote transparency and collaboration within the organization. And if a young employee can easily see a future within the organization, he or she is less likely to leave it. There are many other ways a competency management system can benefit an organization’s employees, young or old. To find out more about our solution, visit our website.
In conclusion, if your company is dedicated to retaining the young and ambitious millennials in your workforce, choosing competency management software can help you develop and retain them.
Nowadays there are countless sales books, videos, and more that promise to teach you how to be a better salesman. I’ve read plenty of them and I’m sure you have too, but one of the best ones that has stood the test of time is “SPIN Selling” by Neil Rackham.
Personally, this book has helped me tremendously in my sales and marketing efforts. And after going through all of my notes, I felt I should turn them into an article that would be helpful to people, whether they are involved directly with sales or not. And at the very least, save you the time it would take to read the whole book!
Even though SPIN Selling is an older sales book, it is still relevant because of its unique approach and backstory. Neil Rackham is not a salesman in the traditional sense, he is a researcher and consultant. From the ‘70s to ‘80s his company embarked on a 12 year, 1 million dollar research study to determine what resulted in most effective sales performance. The hours and hours of studies, interviews, and research with different companies was distilled into a very simple model of questions that successful sales people asked in larger sales, which he called SPIN Selling. SPIN stands for:
And in his research, he also found out that there were clear differences in sales calls depending on the product sold. He made a distinction between complex, larger sales, and simple, smaller sales. The SPIN Model applies to complex sales.
Complex Vs. Simple Selling: How Are They Different?
Traditional sales techniques are good for simple sales (usually one call and a lower dollar amount) but do not work well for complex (multiple calls, large dollar amount) sales. This is for a variety of reasons, but two main ones are that complex selling requires buy-in from multiple stakeholders in the purchasing decision. Because of this the seller engages in many phone calls and meetings that involve not only discussing the product or service, but also about building relationships, as he or she will be working with people in that company for a long time if the sale is made.
And not only that, but another important distinction is that most of the dialogue does not occur during these calls at all, as it does in small sales, but internally between stakeholders of the organization after the sales calls. The sale is really made when the sales person is NOT in the room, but when the company employees discuss among themselves and agree to buy. For this reason, a sales person must arm their prospect with the tools to sell to their own coworkers.
In addition to these major differences, keep in mind that the SPIN Selling model is not a rigid formula, it’s more like a road map. While the sales calls should loosely follow this structure it may not always, so do not view this like a checklist that must be done in a specific order all the time.
What Are the SPIN Questions?
The different stages of SPIN are defined as:
Asking about the current state of the company to get context on their responsibilities, processes, tools, objectives, and more.
Asking questions that allow you to identify any current problems the organization is having and start to formulate their specific needs.
Asking leading questions related to the problems discovered in the last stage. These questions will magnify these problems and uncover how they can negatively affect the organization.
N (need payoff)
This is the opposite of the implication stage. It involves asking questions about solutions. The seller will uncover how solving the problems identified will benefit the organization. If all of the stages are executed properly, the prospects will even tell YOU how your product or service can help them.
It is difficult to think of questions for all of these stages on the spot. Instead, prepare yourself in advance. Before every sales call, write down three problems the customer might have that you can solve, and three examples of problem questions you can use to discover them. For specific examples of these types of questions and more info, go to the corresponding section below.
But sales calls or meetings do not consist only of the seller asking questions. In the book, Rackham outlines four major stages of a sales call, including when to ask the SPIN questions.
Four Stages of a Sales Call
This is where the stakeholders for the vendor company and the potential customer meet. According to Rackham, don’t be afraid to get down to business in this selling stage. While spending a minute on pleasantries is okay, spending too long does not correlate to more successful complex sales. Instead, a better way to open larger calls is to go over the objective and establish your role as the seeker of info. Outline expectations so the customer feels comfortable from the beginning in providing information and answering lots of questions from you.
Investigation (the SPIN stage)
The key to this stage is to remain focused on one thing – asking questions. This is the stage where you will go through the SPIN model by asking situational, problem, implication, and need payoff questions.
In this stage do not focus on what you will tell the customer about your solution. This comes in the next stage. Always keep in mind that if you’re getting too many objections early on in the call, it means you’re not asking enough questions. Simply wait longer to offer a solution and ask more questions to fix this.
This is the stage most sales people rush into, which is showing what your product can do and why it is a great solution for the customer. In the book Rackham states that a benefit “should show how the solution meets an explicit need expressed by the customer.” Only discuss features and aspects of your product that directly address these explicit needs you learned about from your SPIN questions.
Do not talk about all of the ways the product can be used or all of its features, because at this point the customer does not care. This will only detract from what he or she wants to hear, which is how it will solve the specific problems that were expressed. And always keep in mind that value to the customer is so much more important than any specific feature or capability.
Lastly, a successful sales call results in a commitment from the customer. Rackham is very specific about how he defines a commitment. Four clear actions he outlines to gain commitment are:
Give attention to investigating and demonstrating capability.
Double check that key concerns are covered and ask lots of questions.
Summarize key points and benefits of the discussion right before moving to commitment.
Propose a commitment and suggest a next step.
And the four types of results in complex sales are:
Orders: This is when the customer makes a purchase and is a successful sales call.
Advances: This is when you set objectives for specific actions (such as schedule a next meeting) and is also a successful call.
Continuation: This is when the parties make an informal agreement to talk in the future, this is not a success.
No sales: If the prospect has no need for the product, this is also an unsuccessful call.
In simple selling, closing is the most important aspect, and you can try many types of established closing techniques to get this result. But with large, complex selling, it is different. Rackham showed that high numbers of closes in large sales led to fewer wins. Once again, it is crucial to stick to asking questions and gaining information at first, not attempting to make a sale.
And lastly, the best sales people review the calls after they made them to recognize what worked, what didn’t, and adjust accordingly. The best sales people understand the key to success is in the details of knowing what to ask and what you are going to do before the call even starts.
Examples of the SPIN Questions
Below I’ve outlined what the four SPIN stages are, as well as specific examples of questions you can use during each. Keep in mind these questions should be flexible and change depending on the context of each call!
Situational questions help set the stage for the rest of the call and are how you learn basic information about the customer. Don’t spend too much time here, as too many situational questions lead to failure. Ask just enough to set up the next stage, problem questions, which should be used more often.
Examples of Situation questions include:
What is your current role?
Tell me about your day to day duties?
How many locations do you have?
How many individuals and/or teams do you oversee?
What is your current process?
Which software platforms and tools do you currently use?
How long have you been using these tools?
What is your current budget for a replacement?
This is where you identify the prospect’s current problems. A simple method is to ask, “What are the issues with your current process?” Keep in mind that in large, complex sales, it is rare that your solution will solve every problem the company has, but customers don’t expect this anyways. They want the main problems to be solved, and at a reasonable cost.
Many sales people discuss features and details in small sales – do not do this in large sales. Customers don’t care about the features at first, they care if their problems will be solved.
In the problem stage, the successful sales person is a detective, and does not go into a sales call assuming to know all of the problems, but instead to ask the buyer questions to uncover them. As the buyer answers the more general problem questions, the seller can ask more specific questions to uncover deeper issues the company is currently facing.
Examples of Problem questions include:
How satisfied are you with the current way of doing things?
Are there any problems with how things are done now?
How many people are required to do the job with the current process?
How long does it take you to do the job now?
Is it too costly to complete an average job?
If you had to solve one problem you have now, what would that be?
This is arguably the hardest but most important stage of the call. This is where you expand on the problems you identified, and ask follow up questions to magnify them for the customer. Ask lots of “What if” questions in this stage. It is crucial to not offer a solution to the customer until the need has been built up to be strong enough, otherwise you will face objections.
Implication questions are problem oriented, while need payoff questions (the next stage) are solution oriented. It is difficult to come up with these types of questions, and they likely won’t come into your head during the call, so make sure to plan them in advance. A helpful technique Rackham gives is to imagine the customer objecting to you, saying “so what, I have these problems, but they aren’t that serious.”
This will force you to think of answers to these questions, and uncover the deeper problems underneath. In many cases potential customers can identify their problems, but are so entrenched in their day-to-day activities they do not realize how much of their process is built around these problems. As you ask probing questions, the customer will have “lightbulb moments” and see how a problem that seems small leads to other problems throughout the organization.
Simply uncovering problems does not make a successful call though. All employees have problems. You need to grow those problems until the customer is talking about action and is saying things such as “I’m going to overhaul our program next year.”
Examples of Implication questions include:
If you spend too much time on (duty they mentioned), what other duties are overlooked?
Are there any business goals or KPIs you have missed because of (current problem identified)?
If there is a problem with (necessary duty), how long does it take to fix this issue?
Have you ever lost a customer because of the current process?
In recent memory, what issues have been caused because of your current process?
Have you gone over budget because of the current (too costly or timely) way of doing things?
How does (the current situation) affect your personal career growth?
If (day-to-day duty) doesn’t happen, what is the result?
Does (prospect’s problem) affect duties of your superiors or other team members?
Need Payoff Questions
This is an often overlooked, but crucial stage in the sales call. Rackham proved in the SPIN Selling book that top sales people ask 10x more need payoff question than average. So ask as many as you can, maybe even more than you think is necessary! This is when you talk about solutions to the problems you have identified. Ask questions that start with “If you could” or “Would this help?”
When the customer raises needs, most sellers talk about their solution (product or service). But this is when you should ask need payoff questions because you get them to realize how they would benefit from having the identified problems solved. Remember, the prospect does not care as much about features, only benefits and value to them.
Need payoff questions are so important because they focus the customer’s attention on the solution rather than the problem. Up to this point you have been identifying problems and magnifying them. The customer has a negative viewpoint, and this is where you take the opportunity to turn their thoughts positive and be the solution! If done effectively, the customer will actually describe the solution to you and how you can solve their problems.
In the book Rackham tells an anecdote, of a successful millionaire dollar sales man. The man said it’s important to keep in mind that you (the seller) are only a small part of the selling. He recommends to think of a sales cycle like a play. Most sales people think they should be great actors, but they need to be great directors, meaning they are influencing other people to carry out the goal.
The key to this is in the need payoff questions, because it helps the potential buyer think deeper about what their needs really are. As mentioned before, most of the selling really occurs between your contact and other key decision makers in the company. Need payoff questions are valuable because there is no way any prospect can be an expert in your product with one or two calls. But if he or she can recognize the needs that product solves, he or she can accurately describe its benefits to other people in the organization. In this way, your contact is an asset in selling to key stakeholders, even though you may not talk to them directly as often.
Examples of Need Payoff questions include:
How would that help?
Why is that important?
What benefit do you see in (eliminating current problem)?
If you could easily solve (identified problem) how would that help you achieve your current goals?
If you could save time on (current situation), how would that help you?
What could you do with the extra time you have saved?
Would (eliminating current problem) save you money?
Why is (action that accomplishes goal) important to you?
Now that you have the knowledge of decades of selling experience, it’s time to go out there and start selling! Keep in mind that following the SPIN model is easier said than done, so be sure to practice scenarios on your own, and properly prepare for any upcoming calls. Good luck!
How is it that some companies continue to be successful and innovative for years, even decades? In any field this is a challenge, and even more so with the rapidly changing technology landscape. Companies that excel across decades can do this because they successfully implement cultures and philosophies that breed innovation, and an awareness of market trends. This happens purposely as a result of how the organization and its individuals act.
One way of doing this is by developing core competencies. Competency management for individuals refers to defining the necessary skills required to perform successfully to a set of criteria, such as an employee’s role. And at a macro level, core competencies are defined as “strategic advantages of a business, including the combination of pooled knowledge and technical capacities, that allow it to be competitive in the marketplace,” according to Investopedia. Having a few central themes and behavior-sets help direct organizational decisions.
Below I’ve highlighted Google, Amazon, and Facebook, outlined common themes that allow them to be innovative, and summarized them so you can begin to implement them as core competencies within your own organization.
Google is one of the world’s most innovative companies because it does not stop at just delivering the world’s most popular search engine, but in carrying this mission of democratizing the world’s information through many other methods. These include platforms that today are commonplace such as Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Earth, to futuristic missions such as driverless cars, and delivering internet to the more than three billion people who still do not have access.
Google can remain innovative and successful because of its reliance on several core competencies, such as:
Open Source Mentality
Flexible Structure Produces More Innovation
The organization is famous for building in change and innovation into the company from the ground up with its creative structure. One example of this is with its “20% time” model, which allows employees one full day a week to work on any project they choose.
Google builds innovation and change into the company’s culture with policies and encouragement. In a 2016 talk at the Forbes CIO Summit, Google CIO Ben Fried even mentioned that change is one of its most important core competencies, saying, “People are creatures of habit, and yet technology has never moved as quickly as it is today. As a result, CIOs need to make change a core competency. The ability to change is essential to stay competitive.”
Google has even upped the ante on its dedication to change with its in-house incubator Area 120. According to Fast Company, this idea was instituted two years ago, and is similar to 20% time, with one major difference – employees who are selected spend 100% of their time on the project. Google can behave like a startup with the resources of a major corporate company in this way.
With such divergent products and services, from a search engine, to driverless cars, to Android phones, Google is a huge proponent of the “open-source mentality” that many developers have. The company welcomes research and insight from many types of people and disciplines, whether they are in the company or not.
According to Inc.com, Google greenlights over 250 new research projects a year, spending billions of dollars in the process, and even inviting researchers on-site for their sabbaticals. The company has a history of acquiring or investing in seemingly unrelated companies due to scientific or data capabilities. Examples include Nest, the thermostat and smart home company it acquired for $3.2 billion, or 23andMe, the company that can sequence anyone’s genome, in which Google invested millions of dollars.
Google welcomes all types of researchers to access its tools, data, and knowledge in order to make discoveries. And in the truest sense of the word, Google’s wildly successful Android operating system is fully open source. It’s worth noting that Android phones account for over 80% of all phones sold.
Thinking Big (and Backing it Up!)
With so many ambitious projects that Google has produced or is currently working on, it’s no secret that the company likes to think big. But just thinking is not enough, the company backs this up with its actions, and segments the organization in ways that allow its best big thinkers to do what they do best.
Google underwent a huge structural change in 2015, repurposing the company so that its core services (such as search and AdWords) were under the Google umbrella, but its more diverse projects were under different companies.
This is a big deal because it allows Alphabet to make longer term bets with its other wings of the organization, while continuing its core products/services.
One of the most secretive of these new companies is entitled simply “X” and has also been called “The Moonshot Factory” according to the company’s website. This takes the evolution of 20% time and Area 120 to an even greater level. Some of the exciting new projects that are a part of X include:
Waymo: A self-driving car project.
Wing: A delivery drone service.
Loon: A project to create worldwide internet access using balloons.
Malta: A project to store renewable energy in molten salt.
Brain: A research project on Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.
This is just a fraction of the ambitious projects Alphabet, Google, and X have in the pipeline, which sum up Google’s core competencies in a nutshell. As Managing Director of Area 120, Alex Gawley says, “You want to build products that solve problems that people encounter daily.” Google can do this consistently because of the core competencies it has developed and deliberately built into the culture of its organization.
It’s no secret that Amazon has become an incredibly successful and omnipresent company in the marketplace; the organization is currently listed as the second most valuable in the world.
The company has not only been able to grow its core business as an ecommerce giant but has been able to innovate and move into other market segments successfully. While Amazon does many things well, some of its most significant core competencies are:
Distribution and Logistics
Creating Self-Sustaining Platforms
Distribution and Logistics Core Competency
Amazon thinks of itself as “Earth’s most customer-centric company” according to its website’s mission statement. It delivers on this mission with an unparalleled ability to streamline the buying process, deliver products quickly and efficiently, and to create tools and an ecosystem where vendors and customers can connect with each other.
The company changed the ecommerce landscape with the introduction of Amazon Prime and guaranteed two-day shipping back in 2005. And it went even farther with the introduction of Prime Now in 2015, guaranteeing delivery within two hours for select products and in select cities. This type of distribution capability is unmatched by other organizations.
Creating Closed Ecosystems
But Amazon thinks differently, and not only wants to provide products to the globe, but to provide tools and platforms for others to create and run their businesses. In this way it executes on another competency, creating closed ecosystems and platforms for sellers. On Amazon.com in 2017, over half of all sales were by third party merchants, according to a shareholder’s letter by CEO Jeff Bezos. And not only that, but 55% of online shoppers begin their product search on Amazon, according to a 2016 survey from BloomReach.
With such a high volume of businesses succeeding on Amazon, the company ensures that not only will it continue to earn fees from these companies, but that they will stay on the platform because they are making money!
The company continues to innovate with this way of thinking, providing multitudes of platforms that allow sellers, content creators, and more to distribute products and services under the Amazon umbrella. Here are just a few examples:
Twitch – Video Game Streaming
Twitch is a massive force in the video game industry and streaming in general. One of the most popular broadcasters is a 26 year old who goes by the name Ninja, and makes an estimated $350,000 each month from the platform. He was recently joined by popular rapper Drake during a Fortnite game, smashing Twitch’s record and resulting in 628,000 concurrent streams. Twitch is growing in popularity fast and will become a platform that many aspiring gamers build their careers on.
Audible – Audiobooks
In a totally different market, Amazon has also become the go-to platform. According to Observer, 44% of audiobooks are purchased on Audible.com, which Amazon owns. Audiobooks are growing in popularity, increasing sales by 20% in 2017. Audible is not only the place people go to listen to audiobooks, its where many independent authors sell their books, and depend on the platform for their careers as well.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) – Cloud Hosting
Amazon made a big early bet with its cloud computing network, Amazon Web Services. AWS now hosts over 33% of the cloud and is Amazon’s fastest growing business, growing 252% in the past three years. While competitors such as Google’s Cloud service and Microsoft Azure are growing too, Amazon has a big lead. Amazon has positioned itself so that it hosts much of the world’s internet. Not only do independent streamers, authors, and small businesses depend on Amazon’s platforms, huge organization such as Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, Comcast and more host platforms using Amazon Web Services.
Whole Foods – Supermarket Chain
And lastly, while Amazon’s dominance on the web is clear, it is worth noting that the company is making strategic acquisitions to establish themselves offline too. With its purchase of Whole Foods in 2017, the company now sells the food you eat as well.
Amazon’s vision is to create closed, interwoven ecosystems of buying and selling. Many people now and in the future will buy most products on Amazon.com, buy groceries from Whole Foods, host their website on AWS, and use Amazon’s Ecommerce platform for their business. Amazon understands the virtuous cycle that occurs as more and more commerce platforms are interconnected and owned by the organization.
Of course, none of this is possible without a reliance on sophisticated technology and a constant push to improve it. Amazon has its hands in many divergent markets, but with all of them it brings its signatures of unparalleled customer convenience and forward-thinking technology.
Amazon can innovate quickly and consistently because it practices an agile methodology, a common approach to software code writing, and applies this to the organization at large. It focuses on creating small teams quickly and producing a minimum viable product as fast as possible. The organization prioritizes “launching early over everything else,” according to a former employee memo.
Examples of leveraging technology can also be seen in its use of drones and robot workers to help improve efficiency of its ecommerce business. The company currently uses robots in its warehouses to help with moving inventory, and has plans to deliver to customers’ doorsteps using drone technology.
Amazon constantly delivers on its mission of being “Earth’s most customer-friendly company” due to a consistent reliance on core competencies such as distribution, logistics, creating platforms and tools for people, and leveraging technology.
Facebook: Making the World More Connected
(Image Source: Facebook)
One of Facebook’s core competencies is the ability to rapidly iterate and add new features; it was named one of Fast Company’s most innovative companies of 2017. According to the article, Facebook innovated with concepts such as “the Creative Hub, a platform for businesses and agencies to mock up, share, and test ads.” It has several core competencies that permeate the entire company and allow them to be consistently innovative. These include:
Focus on Impact
Move Fast and Break Things
Facebook likes to exemplify the Silicon Valley mantra “Move Fast and Break Things” which is the hacker’s mentality. In Mark Zuckerberg’s 2012 letter to investors he said, “Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once.”
This agile approach can come with its fair share of difficulties. Facebook has faced plenty of backlash with controversies lately, including a major data security breach that led to Zuckerberg testifying before congress. But this willingness to be bold and fast-moving has its benefits. Facebook consistently creates products and improvements to its platform quickly. Significant features such as removing trending topics, adding timeline stories, and adding image filters have all been launched in the past few years. The “hacker way” allows the company to move quickly and constantly improve the platform.
Give Employees Trust
Facebook also notably gives its employees autonomy and trust, and with that comes self-imposed high standards of responsibility and performance. In an article written by a former employee Pedram Keyani, he tells a story about working on a code change to the Timeline which was pushed out to 25 million people on his second day at the company.
Zuckerberg himself echoed this also in the investor letter, saying that the developers organize hackathons on their own, and that “Many of our most successful products came out of hackathons, including Timeline, chat, video, our mobile development framework, and some of our most important infrastructure…”
Facebook can make innovation a daily habit with these principles. According to Spigit, which provides innovation management software, idea frequency, implementation, and executive buy-in is crucial. These are three principles Facebook holds. Not only do the employees self-organize and enjoy the process of creating new products, but executives including Zuckerberg himself, get involved and implement the best ideas that stem from these sessions. This motivates employees to continue thinking outside-the-box.
Focus on Impact
And lastly, Facebook can innovate and be successful because it operates based on a shared goal of changing the world for the better. The company’s mission is to “make the world more open and connected,” and this inspires employees to create great products and services. This philosophy drives all company actions, whether operational decisions, or hiring, and allows the organization to be consistently competent and high-performing. Facebook is listed every year as one of Glassdoor’s best companies to work for this very reason. The employees believe in Facebook’s mission and are inspired to go to work every day.
Innovate in Your Organization by Bringing These Core Competencies Together
There are many similarities between these three organizations and others that are top performing. For those that want to focus on innovation, there are some common themes to follow:
Foster a Culture of Innovation.
Be open to new ideas and open communication with executives.
Trust employees and give them freedom.
Move quickly and look for the next improvement always.
Don’t be afraid to fail.
Have a higher purpose.
Foster a Culture of Innovation
While it may seem obvious, being an innovative company does not happen accidentally, but by deliberately setting the company up for this type of success. Google, Amazon, and Facebook all have different ways of accomplishing this, but all have the type of structure that allows them to innovate. With Google, the restructuring of different goals throughout the Alphabet umbrella, and with Amazon, through its small starting teams on new initiatives.
Not only are these companies structured in this way, but the culture promotes and encourages innovation. Through hackathons, structured time away from core duties, collaborative office environments that encourage discussion, and more, these organizations produce environments that are conducive to new ideas.
Open Executive Communication and Welcoming New Ideas
New ideas that come from within an organization must be encouraged by executives to flourish. They must be approved from the top-down, but often are sparked from the bottom-up, according to an article in Forbes on innovation in the workplace.
But not only that, most innovative organizations welcome ideas from outside perspectives and divergent disciplines. Cross-functional teams of individuals in different roles can help encourage new ideas, or even bringing in outside resources to help foster creativity such as a consultant or freelancer. In Google’s case, it even brings in academics and researchers who spend sabbaticals within the organization. With this kind of encouraged collaboration happening daily, innovative ideas are born organically.
The CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki said, “Some of the best ideas at Google are sparked just like that – when small groups of Googlers take a break on a random afternoon and start talking about things that excite them.”
A logical step from creating a culture of innovation and executive buy-in is of course, fully trusting your employees and giving them freedom to do what they do best. The best example of this is of course Google’s 20% time, but there are many others.
Give employees autonomy, allow them to do what they are most competent in, and give them purpose. Success and innovation will follow naturally with that recipe.
One of the most common themes in all these organizations is they are not afraid to fail, aim for big ideas, and move fast. They start new ideas with small groups, and as the idea grows it spreads to the rest of the organization. As innovation consultant Tendayi Viki said in Forbes “As we succeed with early adopters, other business leaders will then be attracted to our transformation agenda.”
Companies cannot be the most innovative in the world, creating products that have never been thought of before, without the reality that failure will occur. But by thinking of failing fast as a core competency and a success, not a mistake, organizations can move past these inevitable roadblocks. “Failure is the way to be innovative and successful. You can fail with pride,” says Google’s chief social evangelist Gopi Kallayil.
Have a Higher Purpose
Perhaps most important of all is to have a higher purpose. An organization that does not have a north star that drives all business actions and eliminates distracting elements will not be able to consistently perform at a high level. One of the most innovative business leaders of all time, Steve Jobs, said it best, “Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”
And in his Stanford commencement speech he said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
The greatest organizations may have lots of products and services that are seemingly unrelated, but they all follow a singular mission. And as organizations grow, and hire people who believe in this purpose, it only gets stronger and more meaningful. Whether it’s “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” like Google, or “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together,” like Facebook, these ambitious goals drive the world’s most innovative organizations. And with this blueprint, it can drive yours as well.
CABEM’s Competency Management Software
In order to succeed and innovate like a FANG company, you must run your organization and train your employees in an innovative way. While many companies train using Learning Management Systems (LMS), or using documents and spreadsheets, these are outdated and incomplete methods.
Competency management software such as Cornerstone or our own Competency Manager allows companies to formally build competency programs and deliver them to all individuals and locations across the organization. This allows them to not only train individuals, but to prove that the training is successful, and track progress and/or required credentials.