We asked him on his thought process for finding ways to continuously improve and how he works to achieve greater efficiencies with his teams
Q: How would you describe your approach to continuous improvement?
A: I realized in my early work that when you are busy with the day-to-day tasks, you don’t have a chance to question the present to create a better future. When I look in terms of improvement opportunities, I have to stop and ask, “Why are we doing it this way? Because if we had to start over, would we still want to do it this way?” All it takes is a moment to stop and think about what you are doing and understand if there is a more effective way of doing it.
Q: What has been your efficiency focus in directing sales team members?
A: You want to make sure you can lead your team’s efforts to at least one of three things:
- Build a more secure relationship with the customer
- Gain new or expanded business
- Solve a problem
If it doesn’t lead to any of those, it’s low-value activity. You want to make sure your team’s efforts lead to one of those outcomes, and you do this by taking a step back and looking over your process. When it comes down to any improvement opportunities, focus on the likelihood of success that fits with Vantage’s value proposition. You need to sell the value before you sell the price.
Q: What is an example of when you used this method and found success?
A: We used to fill out bid sheets, and I stopped and asked my team if we have ever won new business this way. Simply put, the answer was no. A bid sheet to a customer who doesn’t really know what you’re selling has no value to a customer. What we needed to focus on was building relationships with customers. Ultimately, the bid cards were merely collecting data, so we changed our approach.
Q: In your new position, Vantage will be tapping for the rest of the organization the type of coaching you’ve been giving to the commercial team for the past 14 years. What makes a good coach or mentor? What have you found that employees want or need from a coach?
A: I think people want honest straight-forward support, so they know exactly what outcome you are looking for. A good mentor can take a step back, read a situation and know when you need to be challenged, supported, left to your independence and listened to. If I put a little pit in your stomach, you’re growing. In that sense, I try to be the push and the drive and the person to come back to talk to about your challenge so we can help you overcome them. It’s all about balance and trust. Proper communication and support builds trust between you and your employees.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not leading or mentoring Vantage teams?
A: I love the wilderness, and I have a house in Maine where I can explore the great outdoors. I’m passionate about fishing, bird watching and all things nature. I also collect ship models. After 40 years of collecting, I now own over 300 ship models. I’m just fascinated by ships and like traveling on them, including The Queen Mary, which also carried my dad who served in World War II and our family as passengers during peace time.
Mike Lotito, shown just left of the banner, with Vantage Personal Care™ team in 2019