Lambs to lions

Ralph’s note: Our special thanks to Dandi Galvez of the Philippine Star for his article on Guthrie-Jensen.  The story is on page B16 of the Business Section.

Lambs to lions: How Guthrie-Jensen can save your bottom line
By Dandi Galvez Updated April 13, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – These are extraordinary times, when a global economic crisis is right at the country’s doorstep and local industries are scrambling to protect themselves from the threat of the great recession. It is a situation which calls for equally extraordinary solutions. An opportunity, if you will, to take stock of what your company has and how maintaining the bottom line year after year may just not be enough.

It is fortunate then, that a company like Guthrie-Jensen exists to help companies realize their goals in that regard. As a leading management training and consulting firm in the Philippines, Guthrie-Jensen has the experience and know-how to raise an organization’s bottom line and improve the skills of the people who run the business. Their expertise has helped more than 1,500 companies — many of which belong to the top 1,000 Filipino corporations and the Global 500 companies.

There was no doubt that the economic situation of last year wreaked havoc across many industries. Interestingly enough, Guthrie-Jensen wasn’t the least bit affected by this. In fact, they flourished. In 2007, they grew by as much as 50 percent and in 2008, raised that to a comparatively significant five percent. This growth says a lot, not really about any success the 30-year old firm takes from such an accomplishment, but it shows the resilience of our national economy and the trend many local industries took by investing in their people. And it’s something that Guthrie-Jensen is absolutely familiar with.

“The one interesting finding we had last year, usually when we talk about the crisis, was that companies would cut their budget for training right away. So there was a serious threat to training companies like us,” said Vic Guzman, president of Guthrie-Jensen. “But, from our experience in 2008, we did see growth (in training programs) despite the crisis.”

Herein lay the key. “We looked at our clients and noticed that, especially in these times, some companies are spending even more on their training budgets because they see a greater need to train their people as a means of getting past or surpassing the crisis,” continued Guzman.

Ralph Guzman is one of Guthrie-Jensen’s many training consultants and is a specialist for their communications programs. Based on observations in his department, he had already taken note of the increased demand for training programs from many local companies — not to mention the requests coming in from BPOs and multi-nationals. “One of the bright spots, in terms of our clientele, would be BPOs,” he said. “The interesting thing about the crisis is, many of the companies and organizations abroad are migrating and transferring their processes to the Philippines. We have dealt with clients who are even expanding their operations in the country — and because they are expanding, they have more training needs. There is a need to train people to speak English fluently. We saw a need to train people to become more assertive when dealing with foreign clients.” Language and communication proficiency is just one of many goals that companies set for themselves in staving off the economic woes. Companies involved in sales also recognize the need to sell better and more efficiently. They either improve through training or do nothing — and risk having their sales affected. Not just that, skills such as effective presentation, negotiating and the like are very useful in these days of lowered prices and hefty discounts. “We’ve seen a demand for these kinds of programs,” asserted Ralph.

No sweat for a company that lists skills training as their flagship. Having grown from just two programs in 1979 to over 100 in 2008, Guthrie-Jensen’s wide-range of products are housed under seven divisions: organizational development, business, leadership development, customer service, sales, communication, and public seminars.

Based on the number of standalone programs they conduct, Guthrie-Jensen can lay claim to being bigger than 95 percent of American companies involved in the same industry. The only American company bigger than them is the American Management Association. But unlike them, Guthrie-Jensen doesn’t have part-time consultants. Guzman stressed that all of their consultants are full-time, otherwise, they would not be able to deliver the kind of service they deliver.

“Here, we teach skills,” affirmed Guzman. “For example, you don’t know anything about selling. Attend our two to three-day sales program. After two or three days, you’ll have the skills to sell.”

He said further, “We touch a little on attitude and positive thinking. We believe that the worst thing that could happen to an individual is to be very positive but have no skills. So what happens is you have a highly motivated sales person who cannot sell. Then, they are rejected. After that, they no longer want to sell because they do not have the skills.

“So, Guthrie-Jensen has programs that develop skills — very specific skills. For example, we have ‘techniques in selling’, ‘selling to companies’, ‘selling to individuals’, etc. Of course, after selling you have to maintain good relations with the customer. We teach you how to keep your customers.”

This is all rooted on the fact that more money is made from existing accounts rather than continually finding new clients to serve. “It’s more expensive to get new accounts rather than getting more sales,” declared Guzman.

Looking at the big picture whenever an economy is in crisis, you’ll always encounter an ever shrinking market. Competition gets tougher. The companies that survive the storm are those whose skills are up-to-date. With fewer customers come fiercer competitors. When a company does manage to sell, if the transaction was not at an ideal price, they may as well not be making any money.

For a company to run efficiently its managers and supervisors need to beef up their skills. And if necessary, have a lot of it. Skills in sales training are important to maintain the customer base. Which company doesn’t want to turn in a profit — and a big one, at that? “Our clients are now ‘rationalizing’ their training requirements,” said Therese Tinio, another Guthrie-Jensen training consultant. “They treat it like advertising, ‘for every peso spent, I want a certain amount in return.’ They want fast returns on training. Most companies want training that addresses the skills of their people in attacking the market.” One of many things that makes Guthrie-Jensen different is that before they can even package a training for a company, they will find out exactly what the product is, the company’s focus, what their needs are and the best competence to give them so they get the returns they want. #

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