The Springest Preboarding course!

Welcome at Springest!!!

We are so happy to have you on board :) What follows now is a short guide on what you can expect from your life as a "Springeteer" and a list of the must-reads, tips & tricks and some quiz-questions for you: all the stuff you need to know before you start. Please know this is a working document and it's not complet yet. The complete information, will follow during your official onboarding :) 

Welcome at Springest!!!

What is expected of you during pre-boarding

Go through the articles

You will see that there are several "books" in this chapter. One of those is specifically for Learning Advisors hires, the others are for all to read. Make sure you go through all the relevant "books"

Answer the questions

Sometimes, in between the chapters, you will find some quiz-questions and/or open questions. Please answer them :) 

Read the readinglist

In order to became a real Springeteer as soon as possible, we ask you to go through our reading list and read the books we recommend (preferably before your first day)

Your first day @ Springest

Working hours

At Springest, with a fulltime 40 hour contract you work 8 hours a day, plus one hour of lunchbreak in between. This means if you start the day at 9.00, you work until 18.00. Of course, you are welcome to start earlier. You will get key, so you can enter and leave the building whenever you like. But for your first day: ring the bell and walk to the third floor.

We always start the day with a stand-up at 09.30. Make sure you are at Springest before 09.30, so you are on time. Some circles (teams) start earlier than others, so make sure you talk to your leadlink in your first week about the times your are expected at the office. On your first day, 09.15 is perfect to get started together. 

Stand-up time

  • Short check-in: What is on your mind? Stand-up meetings at Springest
    • Call out distractions, get present for the meeting. One person speaks at a time, without discussion
  • Discuss your agenda:
    • DONE: What were the 2/3 most important actions you completed (for your projects yesterday). Keep it short.
    • TO DO: What are your most important to-do's for today?

 

Lunch

We have lunch together at 12.30, but of course you are free to go somewhere else for lunch. The lunch is healthy, as biological and locally produced as possible and FREE :) There is a fiscal addition on your paycheck for lunch, because that is obligatory by law. But there is no deduction of lunch money from your salary.

 

Dresscode

Start-up life! We won't tell you what to wear when. Dress however you feel awesome, pretty & comfy.

 

Onboarding-schedule

On your first day, one of the "onboarders" at Springest, will arrange a desk, hardware and other necessities for you and will sit with you to explain what you can expect and how what you need to do to be onboarded. First part of onboarding however, is your pre boarding, which starts here. 

 

Tools

Before you start, you will get an e-mail/text with login information for our tools (Slack, Gmail, Asana, other role related tools), which means you can already start with checking out what we are doing.  From the moment you can access Asana and Slack we want to ask you to no use e-mail between colleagues. For example, when giving us your data for salary administration and copies of ID, please make use of Asana and add a link to Google Drive if you share documents. Thats how we roll :) If you have any questions about this, please do ask!! 

 

Springest history, accomplishments & media

 

It all started in 2008...

The Springest story started in March 2008. Ruben Timmerman (speaker, online marketing expert and owner of his own business since 2004) was frantically looking for a good course. He could however not find a proper place to compare courses, filter on region, budget et cetera or find reviews of other people. Thus, Eduhub was born: a platform where people got connected with everything related to education and

personal growth. The company started out from his house in Utrecht, but Ruben also worked from Switzerland for a while, with 2 developers working remote.

In 2009 the company moved back to the Netherlands and found an office at the Singel in Amsterdam. Now there were four people in total, working together at the office. Growth came fast and the company expanded to around 10 people, when it moved to the current location at Rokin 75 in October 2010.

It turned out that 2010 was a year of more changes; the name Eduhub was replaced by "Springest", envisioning growth, springtime and development. Shortly after that, the company is elected "Start up of the Year" by The Next Web and Ruben received the LOEY starters award.

Two years later, an investment round ensured room for more growth, provided by de Rabobank and our Angel investors, amongst which were Marque Joosten (funda.nl), Patrick Kerssenmakers (fonq.nl) and Floris Rost van Tonningen (hyves.nl). The company expanded to Germany and the UK in 2012. 

2013 was the year of the Springest Lustrum, celebrated with a great SpringFest at the office. By this time, around 15 people were working full time at the company. Because of the growth and changes accompanying that, Holacracy was introduced. Coached by  Diederick Jansse from Realize!, everyone at the company got trained in this organisational system. The shift to Holacracy was time consuming and not always easy, but productivity increased rapidly.

Half a year later, in December 2014, Ruben closed a deal with Sanoma Ventures for another round of investment. After that, a big investment party at the office followed for our business relations, family and friends. More money, more growth and more challenges were on the agenda now. A lot of learning, chaotic growth and excitement followed the investment.  Unfortunately the investment did not lead to the envisioned growth, which led to a period of declining revenue and with that the team became smaller too. 

Still, Springest received an award from  NRC Beste Werkgever 2014-2015 in the category ‘Nieuwe Helden’, because of our organisational system without managers and the climate of learning for colleagues. The strategy of Springest, aiming to become " The amazon of Learning", was reshaped into becoming "The Learnest of all", everybody learns through Springest, that includes the Springeteers themselves. 

In 2015, more recognition came, when Springest was indexed in the  top 100 of “Unicorns”: the most scalable organisations in the world. We are listed next to companies such as Uber, AirBnB, Facebook, Google and Netflix. And again, we won the award for Beste Werkgever in 2015-2016!

2016 marked a year of growth and expansion: the team grew from 19 to 40 employees. Not only did our Go-team (corporate sales) grow, also the learning advisor-team saw exponential growth. Which also made our revenue increase with 50% in 2016.

The big leap to Germany was finally made. After years or running Springest.de from our HQ, a new office was established by Matt in Berlin, with our first German LA-hire in Berlin! The deal closed with Siemens DE, made us also establish a German company, so in October 2016, Springest GmbH was officially founded.

The year 2017 started off with more rewards. This time not first position, but Springest still ended up number 3 in the list of Best Employers New Hero's of NRC.

In March 2017 Springest became to big for the office at Rokin, so after more than 6 years in the epicentre of Amsterdam, Springest moved to the awesome Houthavens. A new more mature company, with a bigger team and way more space was born.  At the same time, the German team in Berlin expanded to 3 FTE.

June 2017 was a big moment in Springest history: a new investment round came through via FD Mediagroep.

 

Another highlight of 2017 followed in the summer. We went on our first Workation! A week with the whole team, working in a villa in Spain and having great team outings and bonding moments. Here you find an article about it (in Dutch, sorry!).

In the meantime, the team keeps on expanding, with 6 FTE in Berlin and 43 in Amsterdam.

In May 2018 the 10 year anniversary of Springest was celebrated by a big SpringFest at the office.

What is the things you look most forward to, when it comes to learning & working at Springest?

When it comes to efficiency, it's better to just work through your task list and not spend to much time making overviews & priorities

  • NOOO, always separate working from processing. So work pro-active: make overviews, make your own priorities, after that clean your inboxes and organise your work and only then start working. It costs some time, but it saves you a lot of time too, to become an efficient, productive GTD-master.
  • Of course, I wanna work as quick as I can and do not want to get distracted with goals, overviews and priorities.

An introduction to Springest

Springest The Movie

You probably know what Springest is. You have had your trial day and checked us online (we sure hope so). Perhaps you have already seen some of our PR-videos there, if not, check it out:

Meet the team!

The Springest Family

The Springest team is growing, so it's hard to remember all names and faces in the beginning. Be smart and check out our "about page" to see who is who.


The Dev / Product circle

Springest is essentially a tech company and these are the heroes that build and maintain our platform and the features. They code in Ruby on Rails and if you are not a techie yourself, you will get an intro during your onboarding time at Springest with all the ins and outs on what they do.

Provider Sales & Support

SHOW ME THE MONEYYYY!!! These are our dealmakers and the ones that make the providers on our platform happy, with their smiles, jokes and sales skills.

Organisations

Talking about the big bucks: meet team Go/Organisations. They are responsible for Springest Go: a learning portal build by Springest for big corporates in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and soon the whole world! Springest Go is a system through which employees of theses corporates like Siemens, PostNL, Bavaria, AEGON and ING can book their course and often Springest also processes the payments and invoicing for these deals.

Learning Advisors

The biggest growing team at Springest! These lovely people really make Springest the Learnest Company, because they talk to the users/visitors of our website every day and help them find the right course. 

Springest Germany

Meet Springest DE! Since October 2016 Springest is officially a GmbH in Germany, with an office in Berlin. The focus of these cool Germans is on Provider sales and user support.

Smooth Operations

Basically all Springeteers are part of the Smooth Operations circle. Be it feeding the fishes, being a lunchbuddy, picking up bread on their way to the office, repairing stuff in the office, being GTD-masters, fixing Internet and sooo much more. The Smooth Operators together have the purpose of making Springeteers the most productive, happy, communicative and energetic people on earth!

Finance

Masters of Coin, guarders of the Iron bank, Go invoice processors, strict but just. These spread sheet-lovers make sure we get more cash in than we spend and of course work hard to keep the accountants, the bank, our investors and (very important) your own bankaccount happy.

The Springest Code of Conduct

The Springest Code of Conduct

As a Springeteer, you need to work in an environment that makes you feel safe, free and able to reach your full potential. To safeguard this for all and ensure we work according to the principles of freedom, trust, integrity and equal chances, a code of conduct is written to inform you and set the expectations of Springest when it comes to employee behavior and corporate responsibility.Internally a code is crucial in protecting the Springest culture and make everyone feel welcome and included, but these rules are equally important when it comes to dealing with the outside world. As every employee is an ambassador and representative of the Springest brand, the code is also applicable to your behavior towards clients, partners and all other people you encounter during Springest employment.

Here you can find the Springest Code of Conduct. 

Please read it carefully and ask any question you might have.


Getting Things Done & Effectivity

GTD at Springest - Why?

I am rather like a mosquito in a nudist camp; I know what I ought to do, but I don't know where to begin - David Allen

We work according to the method of David Allen: Getting things done. This guru has developed theories and instruments for working productive, efficient and stress free. 

GTD is a time management method and it's one of the few obligations we have at Springest. It's not always easy to start with, but once you master it, you will love it! 

GTD Kick Ass, because it:

  • creates OVERVIEW
  • lets you take CONTROL of YOUR WORK
  • LOWERS the levels of STRESS
  • makes us all MORE PRODUCTIVE
  • turns IDEAS into ACTIONS

 

 

GTD will make you go from:

To:

 

 

 

Which 5 steps are crucial in GTD?

  • Capture > Collect what has your attention
  • Cherry Picking > Take the most important stuff from your list first
  • Clarify > Process what it means in terms of next actions
  • Work from your inbox > to avoid doing extra work moving stuff around
  • Organize > Put it where it belongs in the right lists / projects / tools
  • Start right away > Do not think about what needs to done, just go ahead, avoid wasting time and work when things come in
  • Reflect > Review your lists frequently
  • Engage > Simply do, by using your lists, systems & tools

Get started with Gettings Things Done - Some videos

To get a proper introduction into the world GTD, watch this video:

 

To hear the "GTD-master" (David Allen) speak, watch this video: 

We ask you to read the full book "Getting Things Done", but with the following video you can repeat the key-learnings to maximize your knowledge ;) :

 

 

 

Keyboard shortcuts

We love Keyboard Shortcuts

At Springest, we like to do everything the most easy and most efficient way. That is why we use a lot of keyboard shortcuts. We even have a role for productivity and frequently organize trainings for using keyboard shortcuts. 


Here we'll give a few handy tips and tricks before you start. For the rest of the tools we use, there are more shortcuts as well. We will elaborate on that further. For now, try and use these shortcuts on your Macbook (and surprise all your friends and family;)). If you have no Macbook yet, no worries, we will pick this up when you start working at Springest. 

Chrome

  • cmd + tab for switching between apps.
  • cmd + L to select the url.
  • cmd + ` to change windows (always have two next to each other).
  • cmd + 1-8 and cmd + 9 (last tab) to switch tabs.

Text awesomeness in OSX / Terminal / Asana

  • ctrl + a to go to beginning of line.
  • ctrl + e to go to end.
  • cmd + arrow left/right to jump to the beginning/end of a line.
  • ctrl + k to delete line from cursor.
  • alt + arrow left/right, to go to next word when editing.
  • alt + backspace to quickly delete the whole word instead of character by character.
  • cmd + shift + left/right arrow to select the whole line (to quickly copy paste a whole line for example).
  • command + shift + v (add shift to the normal paste command) to get rid of formatting text.


Pre-boarding for Learning Advisors (no need to read when not hired as an Learning Agent)

Sales, Sales, Sales - Introduction

Learning advice = Sales

Our Customer sales team is not the same as at other companies. We are focussing on advising people and are objective advisors. We don't work with hard sales targets or don't offer personal bonuses. However, Learning Advisor is off course a commercial job/role and we all want to help Springest earning money by advising as good as possible. 

To be capable to help the customer as good as possible, some sales theories can help with reaching your goals. Maybe you have experience with selling from your study or former job, but it's always good to back this knowledge up with some of the most used influencing theories. 

In this section we will prepare you on what to expect and how you can see results quickly!




AND Remember: Always Be Closing!

Why is Customer Sales at Springest different from other companies?

  • No bonuses
  • No personal targets
  • Advising role
  • Objective role

Influence

Influence

One of the most prominent writers in Sales theories, is Robert Cialdini. With his book "Influence" he had a lot of influence ;) in the way people sell these days. 

According to Robert Cialdini, there are seven simple techniques in your sales calls that can immediately increase your changes on getting the booking:

1. Reciprocation

This factor can be described as "give and you'll receive". In sales and marketing this can be used like this: Give free information, help a user finding some answers, give some extra (external) information or just be freaking nice. The user is triggered to give you something back later, maybe in the form of a booking, some goodwill or a reference to a colleague or friend. 

2. Social Proof

It's in human nature to just do what everyone else is doing, especially when they are insecure. It feels more safe to just follow the crowd and this feels like taking less risks. 

How can we use this while calling? There are plenty of ways! When advising a user on a Scrum course, just say (only if this is true) "Last week I booked the same course for another user, with a similar learning goal". Besides, experiences on Springest are gold. When you want to enroll a user for a course and this course has got 50 shared experiences with a 9.3 as average grade, you can just point this out to the user. It has to be good! 

3. Commitment and Consistency

If you say you will do something, it feels badly to just not do it in the end. This goes for users too. If you promise them to answer all their five questions, you can not end up only answering three. You can say you are working on it still, but in the end you need to provide all the answers. You can also use this strategy in the other way. By saying that you expect from them that they will read the brochures or discuss with their manager by the end of the week. This theory is a good reason why we make appointments on a specific time and say that in their mail. 

4. Social Proof

"Als er één schaap over de dam is, volgen er meer" is a frequent used Dutch saying. It means that if one person does something, a whole group will follow. This works with a lot of aspects in life, in sales too! 

Momentum is big part of the social proof theory. When you've booked two users for NLP courses last month, you'd better say that to the next NLP user you speak with. I also always explain that the provider will give the user a call too and that a lot of people think that's handy because the provider can answer their specific questions. When you use this, also state the following: "I am working for the objective, comparison website, the provider wants you to book his course specific. So I'll help you make your choice in the end. 

5. Liking

This strategy might be the strongest one where you can get a user to book. You must create a friendly relationship with users to make them book (especially when it's a long term booking). There are several key properties that determine our view of people: Attractiveness, similarity, compliments, contact & co-operation, conditioning and association. From these properties, you can use almost all those in a call. Some sentences you can use to create likeability: 

- "I understand"- "I know what you mean"- "What a nice voicemail tune"- "I see you're working at company X, how do you like that?"- "I am really interested in NLP too, so we might want to change our thoughts about that"- "Ah you live in Veenendaal, I lived here for more than 20 years too!"

Keep in mind, you can only use this honestly, authentically and when you're sincere about this. When you lie or don't mean this, people can hear it in your voice. 

6. Authority

This rule means that your authority can help you move other people, or prevent other people from stepping up. This has to do with power too. As an LA, we can use authority more by showing them we have all the answers on their questions. We can also use this by showing we are confident, that we are an expert and that we are here to help them change their lives. 

7. Scarcity

We are more motivated to act when there is something to lose than when there is something to gain. Fear of loss is the factor that leverages the scarcity, because people don't want to miss out on something. We can use this in advising by saying that there are not too much spots left for this starting date (but again: Only use this when it's actually true!). You can also use this by making yourself scarce: "I am available for you today from 3PM till 4PM." So then they have 1 time slot which they must take!


To Sell Is Human

Daniel Pink wrote a lot about sales and personal development. With 'To sell is human' he basically explains that almost everybody in this society is in some ways involved with sales. There has been a big shift in sales, because there is way more information available these days. See here some key findings out this book (not my own summary, but I'll make one later too): 

- Everybody is in sales now: The way people work has been changed. There are more people having a lot of different roles in organizations, which includes a lot of sales as well. Enterpreneurs are selling their own ideas, medical people are teaching (selling) ideas to patients, teachers are urging their students to spend time on their courses. So basically a lot of people are influencing, persuading, pitching and selling their ideas in this world. 

- From caveat emptor to caveat venditor: This describes the shift we've made in the world. All information is open and reachable these days. Buyers have more and more power, back in the days sellers could lie and treat buyers unfair. Nowadays, you'll get a bad review when you treat buyers this way. So always give full and correct information, because dishonesty backfires really quickly these days. 

- Attunement sells: It's all about understanding the thoughts of buyers. Always follow the rule that the buyer is the one that actually has the power: They must decide wether to buy or not. 

- Ambiversion over extraversion and introversion: Everyone always thinks that extravert people are the best salespeople (they scream harder, they talk more and are more outgoing). This is not true actually. The best salespeople are also not the introverts (they enjoy being on their own, are great listeners and are a bit shy too), but ambiverts. For me this is a new word, it means: You are not introvert and not extravert too. Ambiverts listen well, are sensing others feelings quickly, but they can also be really direct and outgoing if the person or subject intrigues them. 

- Buoyancy: You need to be able to handle objections. Pink explains how he does that:
1. Ask yourself questions before: "Can I succeed?" is the best question to ask (instead of "Who's the best?  I AM!"). This questions makes you question more ("What is the buyer going to ask?" and "How can I overcome objection A?") and will prepare you on the call/meeting.
2. Be mostly positive: This will help the buyer more positive too and makes him/her view more possibilities.
3. Be optimistic: believe that rejections are temporary, contained, and due to external factors.

- Clarity

Question Based Selling

Warning! This summary is very detailed, but it will give a great insight about how you can use strategic questions in your sales pitch. 


Chapter 1: Selling Intangibles

- It's the sales rep that actually makes the difference, not the product and not the company.- You can make the difference with being different. Don't ramble all the capabilities you offer. Prospects are much more interested in the problems you help them solve.- Sometimes the best way to communicate is to explain what happens in the absence of it. A good way to go is just stating what the problem of the customer is and then explain how you can solve this problem.- Customers want to know that you understand their problems, issues and concerns. You bond with customers by talking more about what's most important to them (their problems), rather than whatever might be most important to you (your solutions).

Chapter 2: Expanding your value proposition- Sellers are taught that the best way to find qualified opportunities is to go out looking for pain. But we must realize that pain is not the only source of prospect needs.- There are prospects with active needs, they have a problem or pain right now. They appreciate a salesperson to call and work with them. Mostly, the prospect has latent needs. They do have needs for your service, but haven't recognized those needs yet. The primary reason latent needs exist is ignorance.- Most top performing salespeople will attest that the overwhelming majority of their sales succes comes from their ability to transform a prospect's latent needs into active needs.- "Besides the obvious goal of saving costs, what specifically are you most concerned about?"

Chapter 3: Gold medals and german shepherds- People can run really hard for two reasons: Because they are being stimulated by Gold medals (marathon) or being chased by German Shepherds (on the run). In the sales process you have to position the benefits you offer both ways. Example: "The completeness of our system will stimulate learning and will also makes sure your employees don't miss out”.- Always proposition both ways, even when you know your contact person is driven by german shepherds, his colleagues might be not.

Chapter 4: The herd theory- How the rest of the 'herd' feels is more important than any one person's opinion or recommendation.- When you are trying to make sure someone doesn't 'get left out', their next four words will be 'left out of what?'.- When you are on a sales meeting and the customer asks you for references, you have to ask the following question: 'Do you have a pencil?' and start naming ALL the references you have out of your head. This will generate a popcorn effect. A sales person's ability to demonstrate account specific knowledge translates into greater credibility.- Feel, felt, found is a great way to handle objections. You agree with the customer by saying you feel their objection ('I Understand'). Then you point out that others have felt exactly the same way (your customers) and that they found out that you can solve these problems (with the solutions you offer).

Chapter 5: Mismatching- The avoidable risk- Mismatching is the instinctive tendency of individuals to resist, push back, or respond in a contrarian manner. It's an instinctive defense mechanism. Someone who mismatches wants to add value to the conversation by taking the opposite stance.- You can use several types of mismatching:

  1. The contradiction ('A. The weather is supposed to be nice this weekend. B. Mmm really? I heard it's raining both Friday as Sunday'): So you just disagree by taking the opposite opinion.
  2. Unnecessary Clarification ('A. Your product costs €300,- B. No, it only costs €275,-'): This way the mismatcher is trying to show that he is an expert, without this is really necessary.
  3. One-Upmanship ('If you think our method is aggressive, you should see our competitors'): This is another way of saying 'I am better than you'.
  4. The dreaded I-know ('A. I've heard that there is a new learning provider on the market offering VAPRO courses. B. I know, I heard that last week'): this is just a way to kill the conversation.

- Telling is not selling. Mismatching is not an objection and should not be handled as one.- Five strategies to avoid mismatching:

  1. Ask more questions, make fewer statements.
  2. Build credibility to reduce the prospect's need to resist.
  3. Curiosity neutralizes the mismatching effect.
  4. Reverse the positive.
  5. Create momentum to help reducing the mismatching instinct.

Chapter 6: Conversational Layering

- First you need to deserve the right to build a relationship or uncover needs. You can do this with the following steps:1. Generate curiosity. 2. Become credible.3. Expand your relationship. 4. Develop needs. 5. Qualify the prospect. 6. Present Solutions. 7. Create commitment.

- Jumping ahead in the sales process increases your risk of failure and reduces your probability of success. Most prospects are reluctant to openly share their issues and problems with someone they barely know.- Every sales process begins with curiosity.

Chapter 7: Leveraging curiosity in the strategic sale- It's the spark that makes people want to find out more about the products and services you offer. You can be aggressive and try to force your will upon them, or you can make them curious enough to want more information about the value you provide - so they’ll invite you in.- Using two questions to create mini-invitations: ‘Guess what?’ & ‘Excuse me, but can I ask you a question?’. With these questions you ask for small commitments and you make it easier for prospects to engage. This is important because success in the larger sale is usually the result of an accumulation of smaller successes along the way.- Don’t start probing for needs before asking: 'Can I ask you a couple specifics about your current learning environment?’- Voicemail strategies to get called back:

  1. Subsetting from a larger list: Share a big number of recent update your company just published. (‘We’ve made thirteen announcements over the last two months. Two of them might directly impact your business’)
  2. A Question that only you can answer: When you call someone you’ve already spoken with before and know they have a lot of knowledge on a certain subject. (‘I have a question - that only you can answer’). This strategy leverages a lot of curiosity and the prospect will feel flattered that you ask him/her some specifics. 
  3. Create associative references: This is a contact you manufacture within the organization that legitimatizes the reason to call the key decision maker. This is another bottom-down calling method. (‘I just spoke with Henk from HR and I have a question for you’) When they call back you just explain that you wasn’t sure who to contact first and that you already discussed some relevant topics. 

- E-mail strategies to create curiosity: Never let the subject contain the actual thing you want to talk about. Why would they want to call you or even read the mail then? Some examples of subjects:

  1. Two Questions…
  2. On second thought …
  3. Wanted to ask a favor …
  4. Your opinion about …
  5. Per André Jansen

- Five strategies to make prospects curious:

  1. Provocative Questions and statements: Making people wonder why you asked or said what you did. (‘Guess what?’ & ‘Can I ask you a question?’)
  2. Partial information: Never give away all the information. The prospect hasn’t got a single reason to call back then. This means sharing enough information to convey value and pique their curiosity further, but not so much that you remove their incentive to move on to the next step. (‘We see in your data that you might have some problems with the L&D spendings’) It’s important to not be vague on the other hand. 
  3. Glimpses of value: Combining provocative questions with partial information. (‘If we could save you 20 - 30 % of costs on L&D, would you like to see how we can do this?’ & ‘With one single adjustment in strategy, we think you can improve your courses supply a lot. Shall I show you how you can do this?’). Another great technique is not directly say how you solve a problem, but first ask the prospect more detailed information. (A. How do you solve the problem? B. I will address that in just a moment … But first let me ask you another question.’). You can also invert this in your closing questions (‘Mr. Customer, if I could show you how to improve your existing condition, would you be interested in taking the appropriate next step?’)
  4. Newness or Exclusivity: Exclusive things are enticing because people always want to be in the know and no-one wants to be left out. You can use the new statements/updates your company gave the previous months in this strategy. 
  5. Leveraging Momentum: If anyone else is already moving in the right direction, it’s way easier to also influence another prospect. (‘We are organizing a meetup for multiple big accounts like ING, Stork, Bavaria, Vatenfall and Siemens, would you like to see how we solved their problems?’)

Chapter 8: Establishing your own credibility- Credibility is key: It’s a sense of trustworthiness, believability, and perceived competence that lets other people know you are able to provide valuable solutions, you deal honestly, and you can be trusted to help them make good decisions. - Salespeople are entering the sales process with near-zero credibility. Prospects are reluctant to engage unless you are credible, but the only way to establish credibility is to engage the prospect in a productive conversation. This is a huge paradox. - Establishing credibility: 

  1. Managing the scope of your questions: Every question you ask has a scope, a focus and disposition, and how you manage these attributes will ultimately determine the productivity of your questions and the quality of the responses you receive. The advice here is to make open questions more specific (‘To what extend is growth a factor in your business? & What plans do you have to upgrade your technology? & How will the new regulations affect your company?’). 
  2. In traditional sales, people are learned to ask a lot of open ended questions. This is not the way to go! You can ask open question, but not before you established some credibility first. You can build credibility with asking close ended questions, just like a doctor does at the beginning of a consultation. You can use the sentence ‘Can I ask you a couple specifics about your current L&D system?’ and after that ask some questions that show that you’re an expert and get the information you need. By demonstrating that you know how to ask relevant and intelligent diagnostic questions, you communicate higher levels of competence, credibility and value. Once you built this credibility, you earn the right to broaden the scope of your questions to uncover the prospect’s true needs - by probing more depth about their thoughts, feelings and concerns. 
  3. Using diagnostic questions to open your presentation: This is a great way to break the ice in sales presentations. (‘How many in the audience have insights in their HRD spendings?’ & ‘Does your organization struggle with stimulating employers to learn?’)
  4. Offer your prospects a choice: This is a great technique to make your questions easier to answer. 

Chapter 9: Escalate the value of your sales questions- The autor is not a big fan of long small talk. Small talk might be good for building rapport, but it isn’t nearly as valuable as big talk - focusing on key business issues.- There is a fine line between asking productive questions and “pumping” your prospects and customers for information. - Not all questions are even in value. Depending on where you are in the conversation, some questions are way more important than others. One of the goals in conversations must be to ask questions that earn us the right to probe further. - There are four phases you need to go through in the conversation, where you must ask different questions: 

  1. Status questions: Low in mutual value. These questions are only important to the seller to qualify the prospect. The prospect knows already what their status is, so don’t ask too much status questions. These questions are analytical. This questions probe for specific pieces of information (facts) that will help reveal the current status of the prospect opportunity. (‘Did you receive the information properly?’ & ‘Have you got HBO or MBO degree?’ & ‘Are you working with PHP or Ruby?’)
  2. Issue questions: When you earned the right to continue in the conversation, you can start to identify the need of solutions for the problems the prospect might face. Issue questions are intentionally broad in scope, because once we established credibility (in the previous phase), we want prospects to openly share. The question ‘To what extend is developing talent important in your organization?’ is a golden one. This is the bridge between status and issue questions. For most of the persons you speak to, it’s always important, However, this question is intelligent because you don’t ask ‘Is developing talent important?’. You can use golden medals and german shepherds, the herd theory and urgency too in these questions. (‘What’s the most significant HRD issue you currently face?’ & ’To what extend is cutting administrational costs important for your department?’ & ‘What would you like to accomplish with a solution?’)
  3. Implication Questions: Once a prospect acknowledges an issue as being important, salespeople must probe further to understand specifically why the issue is important. Implication Questions are designed to get prospects to think about the effects of an issue on their business or in their personal life, because it’s the implications that will ultimately justify the decision. However, you shouldn’t leave everything to the prospect, because they will not always raise some key-points that could justify your solution. (‘What would happen if your employees don’t book at your current LMS system?’ & ‘Have you ever calculated how much it costs when your colleagues are not booking at your current LMS?’) The author also states that overtime you uncover an issue, you should probe further by asking three implication questions to understand the prospects pain. Global questions work really well if you want to develop the needs ('How do you mean?' & 'Like what?’ & ‘To what extend is cutting costs important to your business?’)
  4. Solution Questions: These are closing tools. Solution questions motivate prospects to move forward by focusing their attention on solving the problem. A great closing question: ‘Mr. Prospect, if this is what you need and that’s what we do, would it make sense to schedule a time to get the appropriate people together in front of a piece of paper to map out your options, the impact on your business, and the associated costs?’. You can also make the next step their idea, so the prospect feels to be more in charge (‘What would the ideal solution to this problem/issue look like?’).

Chapter 10: How to solicit more accurate feedback- Accurate information is important because if a transaction is not going to happen, you want to know so you can refocus your efforts on something else that’s more productive. A lot of salespeople are asking hopeful questions, because most of the salespeople don’t want to hear bad news. As a result, salespeople tend to bias their questions toward the positive. - How can salespeople make it okay for prospects to openly share? By neutralizing the disposition of your questions. ‘Are we still in good shape to complete this deal by the end of the month, or do you think something might cause it to be delayed?’ is a question where you repositioned the tone of the question. The prospect can be honest and can go different way. - One simple way to neutralize your questions is to ask ‘, or no?’ behind your questions. Another way of getting the prospect to openly share is by using humble disclaimers. Here some examples: ‘I am not sure how to ask this, but…’ & ‘Without being too forward, can I ask about…’ & ‘At the risk of getting in trouble, would you mind if…’ & ‘I don’t want to ask the wrong thing, but…’. This doesn’t mean you have to apologize for doing your job as a salesperson.  - Competent professionals aren’t afraid to hearing bad news, and they don’t ask questions positively, hoping to generate a more favorable response. - Asking closing questions are essential to make deals happen, you ask those questions to check wether the prospect wants to move forward. (‘Is it a fair question to ask your impression?’ & ‘If you were the salesperson on this account, what would you be doing differently?’ & ‘What other concerns do you have, if any?’)- Some questions can be used to predict the outcome of the sale (‘Realistically, what are the chances your management will approve this deal before year-end?’) and others are good for developing internal champions (‘What will you do if your boss says the price is too high?’ & ‘What if your colleague wants to delay this project?’). 

Chapter 11: Navigating the sales processThere are a couple of phases in the customer journey. We need to get the customer through all of those three phases: 

  1. Interest Generation: All about generating interest, pique curiosity and get them to want to know more about your offer. This phase is all about building a pipeline. 
  2. Presentation: This is a pivot point of the sales process. 
  3. Closing steps: Must conclude the value of the product or service and why it’s great enough to justify its costs. The steps required depend on the prospect. Some prospects are more interested in getting references and others want to know more about the financial aspects of the sale. 

- The sales process does not move forward by itself, but the question is ‘Who controls the sales process?’. Some people believe the customer is always right. If you believe in this, you also have to assume that they already know everything about the product or service you offer. You also have to assume that they fully understand their own problems and know how best to proceed in addressing them.- You can’t just tell prospects they need to see a presentation, but you can absolutely ask them if they would like to know how other customers have increased their revenues and decreased their expenses by using your product or service. - Asking questions puts the asker in a unique position of strength. ‘He who asks the questions holds the power in the conversation. - Answer a question with a question: ‘How much do you charge for an LMS?’ than you should ask ‘In what kind of system are you interested?’. Rather than dodging the question, this is a technique to find out what they really want to know and why. If anyone asks ‘What are the advantages your product has over the other solutions?’ you can respond with: ‘How familiar are you with our products?’.- If you want other people to respond productively, you have to be willing to ask questions and then clam up. The resulting silence creates a natural vacuum in the conversation, and this vacuum automatically puts the will on the other person to contribute a response. Some salespeople are getting nervous by this silence, but NEVER fill the silence with dump!

Chapter 12: Turning cold calls into lukewarm calls- The problem with cold calls is, they are cold. QBS offers some ways to make the calls warmer than cold: 

- Introduction stage: Identify yourself and your company:It makes a better impression that you are on team X, than just person Y from company Z (‘I am part of a team Learning advisors that help people find the most suitable course’). Skip the question ‘How are you doing?’ and rather be purposeful rather than fake or overly friendly. Keep it real and to the point. There will be lots of time for chitchat once you establish yourself resource. - Associate to create a sense of familiarity: Create recognition by using some earlier mentioned techniques. Personal endorsements: ‘Did you speak with Janice about this call?' Associative References: Begin with someone lower in ranks to later refer to this call with his boss, Herd Momentum: ’Also NN, ING and Aegon are using the same solution right now.’, Glimps of value: ‘Do you like me and my colleague to show you how we can cut your buying costs with 10% the first year?'. Keep in mind: You don’t want to sound like every other cold caller. 

-Transition Stage: Before this phase you gained the right to proceed through your mini-invitations. Now you get to know the specifics. You can ask this: ‘Can I ask you a couple specifics about?’ after the prospects says yes: You earned the right to probe further and qualify the company.  

LA Best practices

Sputr Post Robin Oost

Check out this awesome Sputr post Robin wrote about how he got a lot of bookings in one week: https://www.sputr.co/posts/23805 

Sputr Post Nick Winterswijk

Check out the post I wrote about the book I read (Question Based Selling) and how I linked my learnings to the work we are doing as LA: https://www.sputr.co/posts/24304#

Holacracy

Holacracy at Springest

Holacracy at Springest

Springest has implemented Holacracy, so we would be able to grow without having to deal with bureaucracy and other productivity-killers. Because Holacracy is transparent and dynamic, we can now constantly evolve and change our company structures. 

Most important is the purpose of the whole organisation, the purpose of the roles and the goals of the accountability each role has. Instead of a static organisation, we aim to have a constantly evolving, self improving organization. To get to that point, so-called "tensions" (not necessarily negative, merely the gap between the current state and a better or ideal state) cannot be ignored but must be used as fuel to move forward. Whenever you have a tension with something, as a Springeteer you are obliged to process this, for example in a tactical meeting (add it to the agenda) or by giving someone a task in Asana.

Holacracy - A quick guide

Holacracy at Springest

To make a growing organisation scalable and manageable,  Springest has implemented Holacracy. Within this system, responsibilities and power are distributed in a new way, in which traditional concepts of leadership and management are abandoned. 

Why Holacracy?

Check out this quick video

Springest has implemented Holacracy, so we would be able to grow without having to deal with bureaucracy and other productivity-killers. Because Holacracy is transparent and dynamic, we can now constantly evolve and change our company structures. 

Most important is the purpose of the whole organisation, the purpose of the roles and the goals of the accountability each role has. Instead of a static organisation, we aim to have a constantly evolving, self improving organization. To get to that point, so-called "tensions" (not necessarily negative, merely the gap between the current state and a better or ideal state) cannot be ignored but must be used as fuel to move forward. Whenever you have a tension with something, as a Springeteer you are obliged to process this, for example in a tactical meeting (add it to the agenda) or by giving someone a task in Asana.

Roles instead of jobs

Instead of traditional "job description", each Springeteer has several roles. That means you are not a "sales manager", but you have a role "Key accounts", and a role "Provider sales", a role "Phone outreacher" etc etc. Every separate (bundle of) task(s) is made into a role, which has specific accountabilities. We even have a role "Green Officer", that is accountable for watering the plants and a role "Bread" that goes to the bakery every morning. 

Roles are created during  Governance Meetings, so with the entire team. Every role knows it’s own accountabilities, (example roles in Asana). From these accountabilities stem projects and tasks, which will come back in the next part on Asana. Everything is clearly formulated, with the aim to make it very transparent to which role you should go, when you have a question or a project-request. Roles communicate directly and there is no old-skool manager to intervene in this. 

In Holacracy, circles and roles evolve constantly.  Here you find an overview of the core circles in Alignment. Within alignment, every sub circle is a role in itself. These roles are the lead links of their own circles, which in turn consists of roles. Check out this overview of the roles at Springest!   

Tactical meetings

Holacracy aims at having efficient and to-the-point weekly meetings, called Tactical Meetings. Specific Holacracy rules are followed when project updates and agenda items are discussed, which are best experienced in practice. 

The idea behind the tactical meeting is that so-called ‘tensions’ are discussed as agenda points, after a quick project update per person. Within this system, every employee is an agent that detects tensions and brings these to the fore during meetings, with the aim of improving Springest and the general productivity and quality. Whenever there are tensions to be discussed between different circles, an appointed Rep-Link will bring this to attention during Alignment meetings. 

Each agenda item should either be there for clarification/posing questions or immediately be made into a next action; a task assigned to one of the roles. Making next actions is very important in Holacracy, since someone is made accountable for an action and the distribution of responsibility is made visible.

The concept and terminology might still sound a bit vague, but as soon as you participate in the meetings, things will start to make a lot of sense. Of course, questions remain and we are (since the introduction of Holacracy in 2013) still learning every day. That is why we have the role  Brian Robertson Rep, which can help you with guidance in the process and answer complex questions. Do not hesitate to ask the Brians (there are many) for help; they are here for that purpose!

A Quick Introduction

Visualize before reading!

Visualize before reading!

Especially during the onboarding project, the whole Holacracy concept with its jargon can be tough to understand. However, experience has shown that it will be a lot easier if you see the following video's beforehand. We know it takes some time but you'll thank us later;)


Reading list Holacracy

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Practicalities

Free days, public holidays and absenteeism

Which days are the bank holidays?

There are some legally official free days, but because we are not part of CAO it's always tricky to know which day you are off and which you are not.

Just remember: 5th of May and Good Friday are no free days for us, neither is Sinterklaas, Christmas eve (well, the eve is, but not the afternoon before), Thanksgiving, Animal Day etc etc. The ones that are free, are:

  • New years day
  • Second easter day
  • Kingsday (long life the Republic :P)
  • Ascension day
  • Pentecote Monday
  • First & second Christmas day

If you work for our German GmbH, check out this link for the free days. 

How do I request a day off / holiday?We work with NMBRS. Here you can ask for free days under the heading ‘Verlof aanvragen’. Before you do the application: ask your leadlink(s) if those days you want to go are ok for the circle(s) you are in. After that, the request is send to the holiday-role that will approve your request and you will be notified by e-mail. After you have requested your day(s) off, please put it in the calendar “Springest Holidays, Birthdays, Free and Work @ Home”, so the rest of us knows that you will not be here that day.

What to do when I'm sick?

You can find our sickness policy here.

Where can I find my paycheck and year overview?Log into NMBRS. You can find it there. The paychecks will appear in NMBRS around the 24th each month. Your account will be activated before that time.

I have made expenses for Springest, how will I get the money back?
Scan your receipt, mail it to [email protected], mention that you have paid for it. It will be added to your next paycheck. 

Pension at Springest (only for employees Springest BV, not Germany)