Member spotlight: Laura Stover
We are fortunate @ The Gym to work with professionals representing various fields of work. This month’s member spotlight shines on Laura Stover, Director of HR Advisory Services at SEK CPAs and Advisors. Laura manages the firm's HR department in addition to leading HR Consulting Services throughout SEK’s quad-state region. When she isn’t cheering on the Eagles, you may run into her on the golf course or relaxing at a local winery or brewery.
This is Laura’s Communication Gym story:
1. When and how did you become a part of The Communication Gym?
SEK selected The Communication Gym for our business development training. I was chosen by the firm to participate in the training because I am working on developing our Human Resources advisory services. Our group started the program in May.
2. What challenge(s) were you facing before you became a member @ The Gym?
I have worked in the Human Resources field for 25 years but never in a client-facing role which requires marketing and business development skills. My background has always been internal HR support for companies. I was comfortable dealing with people from an employee/HR perspective, but I was not comfortable with how to approach prospects/clients about HR services. I was too busy thinking about sharing all the details about our services instead of understanding the prospect/client.
3. What have you learned about yourself and others?
I am much more self-aware and have learned that I do have the ability to adjust my D style when necessary. I’ve learned how to slow down and take the time to understand how others are communicating with me instead of going full speed ahead. If you take the time to listen and truly understand the person you are talking to it makes a world of difference.
4. How has The Gym helped you, both professionally and personally?
Participating in this training has been a game-changer for me. I definitely feel more confident now that I have a clear approach to business development. I now realize that you have to start with a really good understanding of the prospect’s/client’s business and challenges, take the time to listen, ask good questions and build the relationship before you offer solutions. I really like all the handouts that are provided during the training. These documents are great reminders and I keep them on my
desk to review whenever I am getting ready to speak with a prospect/client.
5. Can you share an instance with us when the skills you learned @ The Gym led to a positive outcome?
I have had several positive outcomes by applying my training. The first one that comes to mind is a phone call that I scheduled via email with the business owner of a current tax client to discuss their need for an employee handbook. I had never met the client and they had not used our HR services in the past. The call started with the owner going on for a while about how they didn’t have an employee handbook. In the past, this would typically be the time that I would ask a couple of questions and then get into the details of how we can help. Instead, I asked the owner if she would mind if we took a few minutes so I could better understand her business. I practiced the 4 P’s and asked powerful questions. I like using the question – Can you tell me more about that? It is so simple yet very effective. By focusing on the client and not worrying about proposing a solution, I was able to fully understand their situation. The owner is looking to step away from the business and wants to make sure that all documents are in place before she leaves. Her business is also pretty complex including federal contracts and several bargaining units. By getting to know all this information, I was able to reflect back my understanding of her needs which I think she really appreciated. She actually said, “yeah, that’s right.” By connecting with the client, I was able to make them comfortable with moving forward with the engagement.
The Communication Gym team thanks Laura for her commitment to the training and desire for improved communication. Her success is our success!