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Friday, February 24, 2012

The Accident of Your Experience

I was talking with a pretty smart business observer, who said, “I don’t think the lives of many people in this town have turned out the way they expected.”

At first I thought he was referring to overwhelming smart-phone addiction, but thinking further my life sure hasn’t been what I was planning in high school, college, the early years.

It’s not better, it’s not worse, it’s just very different. That unexpected sense of differentness makes some people unhappy, makes some people feel rootless. Of course it makes some people feel like they have won the lottery and are living in a fantasy world.

Same world.

My observation is that seldom do we end up doing what we had originally planned, that our external circumstances are the sum of our choices and to a lesser extent what has been done for and to us. We have more control over our internal equilibrium.

Pressure comes from outside, stress from the inside.

Seems to me that a lot the success of Americans comes from following the words of the famous Yogi, who said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

How have your choices changed your outcomes?

Please join us 6 pm, March 13th, at the Capital Technology Management Hub, where Sales Lab’s Jack Gates presents Rainmaker 12, Lessons from Makers, followed by the featured CTMH Presentation, Sales Lab’s Dick Davies speaking about The Direct Economy, How to Profit from The Most Lucrative Market in the History of the World!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Will I Ever Work Again?

When I talk with people in transition this is the question they are asking: will I ever work again?

We are in a unique but interesting economic time. There's the recession, of course. Even more important, however, is the confluence of advances in applying technology, coming of age of automation, and the New Normal of how we now do work – all hitting after two decades of rightsizing in the private sector and a shift to a global marketplace. Things are simply not the same now!

In the '70s and '80s, while with a couple of major consulting firms, I observed a practice I called 'Retire in Place' – in deference to their past contribution, former rainmakers who relied on 50,000 hours of experience rather than keeping current with new rules, practices, and technology were shunted off to a special project instead of continuing to consult. Often, the project was writing a history of the organization, and when it was completed, or abandoned, they would disappear from from the firm.

As individuals in transition today provide more detail about their past work, many had roles as 'hoppers', 'conveyor-belts', and 'shippers'. The hoppers collected information, data, lists, counts, and other elements and packaged it together for someone else to use. The conveyor-belts would move collections of responses, reports, archives, and other elements from one location to another, perhaps with a manifest of what's included. The shippers packaged the various inputs into reports of summaries, statistics, ratios, charts, and comparisons of current and historical data, then deliver these reports to the specified recipients.

The roles of hoppers, conveyor-belts, and shippers have been automated with computers, software, and systems – the need in the labor market for individuals to do these functions continues to diminish rapidly.

Organizations are continuing to reorganize, consolidate, and merge in the private sector and are beginning an era of making similar changes in the public sector as well. When entities shift duties and eliminate positions, responsibilities change and people try to adapt. Funny thing about change is at some point it becomes increasingly less effective leading the individual to want to return to a non-existent status quo. This forces them to redefine the norm quietly to a new set of operating parameters – the Nuvo Quo. The results may be a forward-thinking approach or it may become a close model of the old ways.

The conflict which has evolved is between a class of experienced workers – 'while I've been working, the world has changed'- slow to adapt and the rapid advancement of automation – whether robotics on the assembly line or electronic data collection and analysis in the office.

Employees who seek out projects or training which expands their knowledge, experience, and exposure to new technology, software, systems, and processes of value to their organization are better positioned to advance, or relocate, as the responsibilities change. The Doer's Theorem suggests a major change in the individual's skill-set every three years.

The alternative may be to chase after a role which is disappearing and, even when found elsewhere, requires additional skills and experience to work at a significantly faster pace.

What have you observed?

Join us February 22nd for Sales Lab’s Rainmaker 12 - WhatHave I Done for You Lately? at the Capital Technology Management Hub on Wednesday, February 22nd. The featured CTMH speaker will be Sean Crowley on the topic of The Open Source Web Content Management Platform, Drupal, and its Momentum. Get details here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The When of Sales

The Sales Model still shows the best way for the salesman to spend her time.

Let’s try a model describing how prospects come to a decision for considered purchases, as opposed to impulse purchases...and what Sales should do.

I am seeing three movements to the performance.

First Movement
Due to internet and social media, prospects learn about me before I know they are looking. They know about my history, process, customers, and results before they talk to me. They have a good idea how we fit culturally. Early adopters have been finding better ways of making their story available for a couple of years. The prospects have their list of needs and features defined before we ever meet.

Do you know what your prospects are learning before you get a chance to exert yourself?

Second Movement
I am learning that when I finally get face-to-face, my story isn’t important. They already know my story. They want to make sure I know their story...and like it! I’m taking good notes, as this is the official version for our continuing relationship.

I am also alert for one way to upgrade their understanding of what they want. I figure that if I can change their understanding of what they want, all those who have gone before me are disqualified, and it would be a major job of work to track them all down for comparison.

A great example of that happened last week.
The woman I love decided she needed new golf clubs. She does that every decade or so, So two weeks ago we went to the Washington golf show where she tried all the new ladies’ clubs, and started to make up her mind. Her next available day we went to a couple of golf stores to buy some clubs. At the last one, the salesman cautioned not to buy anything that day. Her chosen brand was coming out with a new, improved model in five days. Game, Set, and Match to Kevin at Golfdom. It’s on the calendar.

The Third Movement is after our meeting, what I call, “Gotta ask the wife.” My wife does it, too, so it’s not about the wife. It’s about getting out of the room to decompress and make sure we are making the right decision. I would hate to make a foolish decision, just because I enjoyed the performance.

I’ve noticed that the good salesmen have figured out how to set up a winning presentation even when they know they will not be present.

Winning that third movement requires providing more than was available during the initial selection stage. You need something to push all the stakeholders into agreement to take the desired action.

Yesterday, I was working with a 25 year customer, still doing the same business, still running a high margin shop, in a field that collapses every eight years. It’s been five years since he upgraded his business cards, and nothing was broken, but he wanted to see what he could improve.

In 12 words, we got his tool for the Third Movement, how to bring fresh energy to the relationship. I would have thought after 25 years there wasn’t much fresh to do. Whew, I was wrong!

February 22nd Sales Lab’s Rainmaker 12 is WhatHave I Done for You Lately? at the Capital Technology Management Hub on Wednesday, February 22nd. The featured CTMH speaker will be Sean Crowley on the topic of The Open Source Web Content Management Platform, Drupal, and its Momentum.

Monday, February 13, 2012

LinkWithin Creates Reads and Comments

Last week I got a valid comment on a two year old post. The same commenter also posted under a current post.

LinkedWithin is a widget that shows a changing choice of three stories at the bottom of each blog post.

I first saw it on A Suitable Wardrobe, and even though I feel tremendous pressure to get off the  internet, I would read three or four previous posts, both those that were new to me and some I had forgotten I had seen.

Recalling that R&D means Research and Duplicate, I installed it on Through The Browser and Sales Lab Posts. Occasionally I get lost in past posts on my own blogs.

LinkWithin Creates more Reads and Comments

How are you increasing flow?

February 22nd Sales Lab’s Rainmaker 12 is WhatHave I Done for You Lately? at the Capital Technology Management Hub on Wednesday, February 22nd. The featured CTMH speaker will be Sean Crowley on the topic of The Open Source Web Content Management Platform, Drupal, and its Momentum.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Have I Done for You Lately?

With customers and relationships the question is: what had you done for me lately?

Good customers are approached often by other providers or discover interesting offerings on the internet. Good relationships are fouled by lack of attention. Thus the spoken or implied questions about what's recent.

I heard a story about an individual who hired into the lead sales position of a software organization with a 'huge book of business.' First priority on her mind was to personally contact all the major accounts to say hello. Shocked, she was, to learn that over 60% of these accounts had not heard from her new firm since the initial sale and more than half of these accounts has switched to different software.

This situation, more or less, is entirely too common in business.

Study after study shows the vast difference in resources to acquire rather than maintain customers. But a significant portion of managers (and to be fair, the sales staff too) press for acquisition over retention.

Why don't we ask the question: What have I done for You lately? and devote more time to our real customers.

Make contact – give something of value – demonstrate that a relationship does exist – show that you care!

This can be as simple as forwarding an article, document, or link to a blog which speaks to a known area of interest. It can be dynamic – checking in after x months to see how your product or service is meeting their needs – or even soliciting what features would make it meet their needs more broadly or deeply. Or it can be information about how other customers are using minor or undocumented features and other user-derived 'enhancements' for significant benefit.

Whatever you choose, make the contact with your customer worthwhile from their viewpoint. Keep in mind they are busy and not as focused on your products and services as you are. Always give value in every interaction with a customer.

Conversation and caring works for relationships as well.

It can change the conversation to that's what you've done for me lately! Music to our ears!

Your thoughts?

This is the topic for the next Rainmaker – a 300 second presentation before the featured speaker at the CTMH meeting. Join us February 22nd  for Sales Lab’s Rainmaker 12 - What Have I Done for You Lately? at the Capital Technology Management Hub on Wednesday, February 22nd. The featured CTMH speaker will beSean Crowley on the topic of The Open Source Web ContentManagement Platform, Drupal, and its MomentumGet details here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Life Boat Rule

One of the saddest things in management is the gold star looming on the project plan that says, “Breakthrough required HERE!”

Next time you are faced with a thorny problem, consider using the Life Boat Rule.

The Life Boat Rule is You have to make it with your current crew, no substitutions.

When I remember the Life Boat Rule, I save a lot of time, not mooning for some random waterwalker.

Our solution is based on existing skills and our best technologies. We know what we’ve got, and spend less time reading directions and hacking our way out of failed prototypes.

When I am recruiting, remembering the Life Boat Rule has SOMETIMES stopped a dumb selection.

After my crew understands the Life Boat Rule, people are faster to step up for what is required. As my good friend John Wayne used to say between movies, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

Of course when we’re all fully committed to using our existing talent and resources and nicely making way, we look a lot better to some random water walker if one happens by.

Your Comment?

February 22nd Sales Lab’s Rainmaker 12 is WhatHave I Done for You Lately? at the Capital Technology Management Hub on Wednesday, February 22nd. The featured CTMH speaker will be Sean Crowley on the topic of The Open Source Web Content Management Platform, Drupal, and its Momentum.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Observations and Opinions

I notice people who don’t know much have opinions. 

People who have been there have observations. 

Observations mean everything, opinions mean nothing.