Cerius Experts: CEO Tips and Advice (Part 3)

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Cerius executive experts weigh in on tips and advice they are giving CEOs right now. 


Kristen McAlister: [49:04.08] One thing I would like to do with the time we have left is  get some quick snippets. if you were to give a CEO right now, one piece of advice, one thing to focus on, or what’s going to be the most important thing over the next 60 days, I’d love to hear what you would say.  John, let’s start with you. 

John Morris: Oh, that’s a long list, but I think you have to be authentic. You have to be caring. You have to be cautious of the safety issue and bring back people in a thoughtful way with lots of flexibility. I think that a lot of the process is going to be invented. I think a lot of people that I talked to are pretty much aware of this, and there’s an awful lot of dialogue going along, going throughout the Vistage community about this process.

So if you’re in a Vistage group, this is the high priority. What do I do? How do I bring them back thoughtfully, carefully, and without losing them. And some of them I furloughed so they’re not even on my payroll, so I need to bring them back. I need them bring them back quickly, confidently, safely, very much respecting the fact that we’re dealing with the new normal. And there’s a lot of things that we’re still uncertain with. So I think you got to play offense, but you gotta be mindful that employees have choices.

 It’s a tough call. It’s a tough question because there’s so many things. I also think the other thing by the end of the third quarter, you should be really reevaluating your digital marketing strategy and make that a bigger part of your investment. You’ve got to invest in it.

Most CEOs don’t know which half of the budget they’re wasting. They’re really going to have to double it down. Traditional marketing isn’t going to work anymore. 

Kristen McAlister: Thank you, John.

Aaron, what’s your one piece of advice. 

Aaron Levy: Well, coming from a CEO background, I can tell you immediately the answer is a massive prospecting, period. Get everybody in the company on the same page. You have to get on the phone. Do the surveys, see what’s out there, like Robin said, and prospecting to find what you can sell. And if you have somebody that you know you can sell now just prospecting massive but mean three to four hours a day. I’ve said that many times to many organizations, it’s not always acceptable, but every employee gets involved in some form of prospecting and looking for business, doing research, recommending daily group meeting about whether you’re reading in the newspaper, what’s out there, who needs what, who needs masks, who needs COVID-19 tests?  Maybe we can provide that. What do we need to adjust? Let’s make phone calls. 

So every day between 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, prospecting, The rest of his afternoon planning and chatting about what can be done. But I would say right now with my team prospecting in the morning hours, which means calling as well as research, but more work-related like emails is in the afternoon. They’re not supposed to do any work like that in the morning. So a lot of the morning is prospecting a hundred percent 

Kristen McAlister: Thank you. Okay, great piece, and I like that you put an actual time frame on it between this time and this time, and you get into a cadence and you do that every day.


Rob Stultz: There’s so many things that were running through my head, but I think if I were talking to a CEO right now, I would say, “Stay cool and stay focused,” because their primary objective right now is to get through this pandemic with as little damage as possible. Then once we’re through this process and there’s a vaccine and other therapies out there, things are going to open up and business will began to come back. In the meantime, I think one of the best things they can do is to develop a workforce plan for the reemergence.

Use this time, where you’re not at full capacity, to develop this plan. Because once you come out of this on the other side, there will be orders coming in. So you want to make sure you’ve got the workforce there to complete those orders, to do that work. So it’s one of those things where you’ve got to start looking and planning in advance for the people before you need them.

A quick comment on that is to share the wealth. They need to think about sharing the wealth. I think John mentioned it about keeping the employees. You’ve got to make sure you keep your employees. One of the best ways to do that is to share the wealth with your employees. And there are numerous ways, as you guys know, to do that. 

John Morris: Are peaking of perks, compensation, training, what? 

Rob Stultz: All of the above, John. It can be those kinds of things. It can be a bonus plan. It can be a profit sharing plan. There are any number of ways you can share the wealth.

But the one thing you want to make sure to do is making sure that your comp and benefits program is state-of-the-art and up to date. You don’t want to lose your best employees to somebody else simply because you fell behind on the salary and benefit world. 

John Morris: Yeah, and that will happen. 

Rob Stultz: It will happen. It’s moving rapidly. 

Kristen McAlister: Thank you, Rob. 


Robin Schweitzer:  I’m going to approach it two ways. One, if I’m talking to a CEO, I’m going to talk to him about thinking internal and external. So the number one thing for internal is to mitigate the risk for your people. Get them comfortable with the uncertainty of what’s happening right now. The people are your biggest asset right now. You won’t be able to sell anything without them or do anything without them. So make sure you’re paying attention to the internal feeling and morale of your organization. Make sure you have a plan and make sure you over communicate with them

Externally, your pipeline, your prospecting, your KPIs, and the other thing that doesn’t come up enough, is you should need to adjust your KPIs and have milestones built for your sales team. You may not have had them in the past, but you need milestones now to keep the morale going, to keep the energy of sales going. So by inserting milestones between quarterly goals or whatever that may be, and you may have to revisit those because is it realistic for an SDR to make a hundred calls a day through zoom? Make sure you’re making it realistic. I would really put milestones in to keep people engaged, from a selling perspective. 

Kristen McAlister: Thank you. Well I want to thank everyone for joining us.

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Pamela Wasley Kristen McAlister

Pam and Kristen, co-owners of Cerius Executives, both come from running a business, not the staffing industry. They understand the challenges of growing a business and not having the right leadership team or expertise. Our client services team is comprised of current and former business owners. We have the background and expertise to listen, understand and work to successfully put together the right profile for what you need and the right executive. The executive talent world is always undergoing a never-ending evolution. Some of it is trial-and-error, and some is due to a constantly changing marketplace. We will always be working to predict what businesses will need next and how can we best help them find it.