According to WhatsApp Founder Jan Koum, “communication is at the very core of our society. That’s what makes us human.” Entering a professional field is a task with many challenges leading to stress and, potentially, ineffective work. This may include struggling to make professional acquaintances or not knowing precisely how to accomplish certain tasks. Additionally, newer employees often struggle business communication. Today, Mr. Jeff Neihart, a business professional in the Consumer-Packaged Goods industry with many years of experience as a Vice President in the field, provides advice for young professionals. His advice includes information on how to perform better in a business communication scenario. Also, Mr. Neihart discusses what skills set people apart from their counterparts and help them strive for greatness in the workplace. His knowledge should be able to help you gain more ideas of what expectation you will find in the business world. Now let’s delve into the interview and gain knowledge for a successful career in business communication.
credit: business insider
What is your professional history (include your timeline and roles)?
1993 – 2001 Marketing Specialists Sales Company
- 1993 – 1994 Account Executive Snacking and Confection Tampa, FL
- 1994 – 1996 Director, Snacking and Confection – Southeast Area (Tampa, FL)
- 1996 – 1998 VP, Snacking and Confection – Southern Region (Tampa, FL)
- 1999 – 2001 Corporate VP, Snacking, Confection and Convenience (Dallas, TX)
2001 – 2019 CROSSMARK Sales and Marketing
- 2001 – 2003 VP, of Convenience
- 2003 – 2004 VP, Business Development
- 2004 – 2019 VP, General Manager Confection, Snacking & Pet
What writing advice do you have for professional communicators?
“Be clear and concise and understand the impact emotion can has in written communication. E-mail has degraded the world of written communication in general. In business, especially in the area of negotiation clear and concise communication is critical.”
What is your one pet peeve when it comes to professional writing?
“The inaccuracy of data. I work with many Fortune 500 companies in the Consumer-Packaged Goods industry, it is at times shocking at the lack of accuracy in the data that we receive from them. Critical information like pricing, product specs, ingredients etc. The accuracy of the communication of these components are critical to our selling process.”
What kind of business reports do you read and/or compose regularly?
“I receive numerous performance scorecards from our client partners as well as, a battery of financial reports to include, revenue, cost center, aging and profit and loss statements.”
What are your writing suggestions to make those types of reports successful?
“Consistency and clarity on the Key Performance Indicators. I need the data and the insights organized in a way that allows me to make quick and efficient business decisions.”
What speaking advice do you have for professional communicators?
“Read your audience. Be prepared to pivot your communication in a way that best addresses the needs of the audience. At the end of the day, public speaking is a privilege, be responsible and deliver the best content.”
Name one thing you wish you had known about business communication prior to your professional career?
“In my role, I deal with legal contracts on a regular basis. Over the years, I have been able to gain a good understanding of the language used in contracts. Understanding “intent” versus “the law” is incredibly important when trying to resolve contract disputes. I would have never imagined early in my career that I would need this level of understanding to be successful in my role.”
After assessing the Burning Glass list of Baseline Skills (2016), which skills not in the top 5 would you move into the top 5…and why?
Problem Solving – Problem Solving is a skill that is critical to business relationship. Clients rely heavily on our company to help them solve problem that are standing in the way of their growth.
Planning – Our business revolves around business planning. We plan promotional activity for major brands with major retailers on an annual planning cycle. The entire health of the business depends upon the execution of our business plan. Understanding data and insights and incorporating them into our plans are essential to our growth platform.
Building Effective Relationships – It is so much easier to solve problems with our clients if we have built an effective relationship with them. Trust is incredibly important in our business. As a service company servicing the CPG Industry, we have no assets……except, the relationship we have with our Clients and our Customers.
Presentation Skills – Effectively communicating our business plan to a new client or to a Customer is essential to our growth. Being able to deliver a presentation to a potential client or Customer allow us to expand the breadth of our brand in the marketplace.
Teamwork – Our company structure is built on a matrix. Team members may or may not report to the same functional group within the company. However, they must work together in order for us to deliver on the services we provide to our clients and customers.
What team skills do you feel young professionals need the most?
I have a significant number of young talented professionals on my team. Of this group, the team members that are most successful are those that have a strong work ethic and good interpersonal skills. Over time, these behaviors separate them from the pack. They create more value than others for the company, are more highly compensated and ultimately promoted more often than their peer set.
Mr. Neihart Provided us with a vast display of valuable information about business. One of the items he brought up is to understand the emotion in your written communication. This is one item that someone can neglect to address as something has many different interpretations. However, the interview contained a reoccurring theme that appeared to be very important to Mr. Neihart. This was the desire for clear and concise communication whether written or spoken. Ideally, the idea of being clear and concise should be in the foresight of anyone attempting to communicate. Mr. Neihart repeating it as much as he did, emphasizes how many people overlook these aspects.
Another item worth noting from this interview is Mr. Neihart pointing out the importance of the ability to work well with others. He points this out twice in his skills that he believes could or should be in the “top 5” of his Baseline Skills. The first mention of working well with others relates to good relationships with clients. The other being able to work well as a team. Putting two of these in his “top 5” shows that being able to work well with others is very important. It’s also reasonable to note one of the very important aspects to all of this is to have a strong work ethic.
credit: Bryant Archway
More about Mr. Jeff Neihart:
Mr. Neihart is a man with quite the extensive business career of 26 years in sales. Over these years he has had to move to multiple different states for his job and reached a current spot of Texas. Many of his accomplishments come in closing deals. Mr. Neihart closed many deals worth millions of dollars. In doing so he has had to communicate on an everyday level. His work as of recent is mainly with clients, but he formed the ability to do this in lower level scenarios. In similar fields his credibility is hard to come by.