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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Evaluating Event Contacts


Ever go to an event?

Meet a lot of people?

See some people at event after event?

How can you tell who you should be meeting and who is a waste of your effort?

Here’s the way I’ve come to prioritize my activities at an event.

Most important, I am looking to acknowledge my existing clients and partners.

Then I enjoy seeing people I have worked with on a successful project. Completed commercial, civic, and social projects, and successful events are evidence of our ability accomplish something together. I particularly like projects that can be completed and also celebrated in one afternoon.

I want to meet the people who routinely put up and then take down the decorations at the dance. People who hold office and drive the check-in table are important to me.

Then I enjoy meeting people who say they are interested in working with me.

After that, I am flattered to meet anyone who has commented and added to my writing.

I am thrilled when I meet a writer or speaker I follow.

I like to hear an entertaining story, or some information I can use. Tell me about an event or website that interests me.

I’m never busy as there aren’t many people like that.

I am bored with people bent on unloading business cards, and uncomfortable with purveyors of that limited special opportunity, or their pressing immediate need that I should fund.

Have you met them?

After you fine tune your own rating system, how might that change your actions during and after events?


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rainmaker 13 - Are You Making The Most of Your Opportunity?


Technology isn’t about electronics. Technology is about how we work. Moving forward is usually a random walk.

The first few versions of an improvement are often hilarious...after we’ve recovered.

Databases are capturing and holding a lot of information about our customers. That is supposed to give a great benefit for selling.

To err is human. To really mess up requires a computer.

So what’s the best way to use all this data about our customers and prospects?

I find the key to the sale is to be present when the customer figures out something new. People like to learn something new and if I’m associated with it, I’m welcome in the future, sometimes even desired.

The purpose of data is not to tell someone what they already know, or even to make a recommendation of how they should act. The purpose of learning about your customers is to put yourself in the position where they learn something new in your presence.

Definition: A Rainmaker creates a significant amount of new business for a company. The Sales Lab Rainmaker Series is one rainmaker technique for technologists during the first 300 seconds (five minutes) of the monthly Capital Technology Management Hub Meeting.

Here's the growing collection:

#12 - Makers - The Future is NOW (3-11-12)
# 7 - Mark Your Territory (8-22-11)
# 5 - Start With an Offer (4-27-11)
# 2 - The Name Tag (1-5-11)
# 1 - Gifts (11-5-10)
The Beginning - Rainmakers (11-3-10)

April 10 is the next Capital Technology Management Hub featuring Rainmaker 13 - Are You Making The Most of Your Opportunity? The featured speaker is Tom Cooper of Bright Hill Group, presenting How to Deliver On a Project - When Your Team Doesn't Report To You.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Facebook As a Social Media Tool


Facebook has developed apps for business and government to make it easy to use as a channel for individuals and business/government to provide and exchange information.

Does it work? Yes – but it's not magic. Creative design and vibrant content are required.

Here's illustrations of an innovative approach – one by business and one by government.

Proctor & Gamble has moved its advertising from print to social media to help sell their product line – soap, personal care, and consumer products. Ads can be targeted based on location and preference of the individual users.

The Facebook pages provide a variety of ways to present P & G products – text and static pictures like print media, as well as audio tracks, video, and interactive navigation of material.

With this flexibility, the company feels they can create active content to entice the consumer to buy their products that will be more effectively than static print ads. They also expect to reduce cost in the process.

In Congress, House Republicans have created the Citizen Cosponsor Project app using Facebook. In their words, it is a dynamic communications platform to enable the user to follow legislation and receive first-hand information from the House as it moves through the legislative process, and express support by becoming a bill Citizen Cosponsor.

These two examples illustrate how social media is being used to raise awareness of products or legislation and engage the users by incorporating an interactive component. Accomplishing anything similar using traditional channels would be costly and cannot scale to an audience of even a small percentage of the 800,000,000+ users in Facebook..

How will you use social media to further your mission?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sales Culture


The discipline of sales does more than provide the funds that power the organization. The skills developed in the practice of sales have a far-reaching effect on the organization.

Sales as Change Agent
The fastest way to change an organization’s culture is to change what customers buy.

Communication
The skill to enlarge influence is communication. Selling is about communication. The next new thing is that every effective salesman will have their own web presence, that they design and maintain as a business asset.

Leadership
If you think leading a group on a mission is difficult, try leading before consensus is developed. Oh, that’s the definition of selling.

Square Deal
Every salesman I know has a healthy respect of the power of the disappointed client. Most weren’t disappointed by design, which doesn’t lessen the pain, and it is better to learn that respect earlier rather than later.

Developing Others
I don’t develop people because it’s some right thing to do, I develop people’s skills to make my life easier and more productive. Training time is way too important to spend on trivial pursuits.

What benefits of the sales culture do you use?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Mosaic of Social Media


Initially, social media may have been thought of as just a toy for the kids. A way to keep track of what friends are up to, to share snapshots of the grand kids, to write on walls and tweet, or whatever. In the early days was some sense of a potential for business, but plenty of confusion about what that meant in reality.

Time has passed and early adopters have shown that
social media is a powerful tool to get the business message out – to a potential audience of over a billion now (YES that is a B for billion) and up to 10 billion devices within this decade – on the desktop, on the laptop, on the tablet, on the smartphone.
Many organizations have entered this arena and use social media channels to provide information about services and products, extend their electronic personality, and have rich two-way communication with clients and other interested parties.
Other organizations are trying to map out a use plan which would be of value to them. Here's a snapshot of how I make use social media:
  • Facebook.com has a huge audience (more than 845 million) and a dual personality: family and friends pages, and business pages - people can 'like' a business page to show support. I find Facebook useful to alert readers of interesting business events and presentations where I am participating .
  • Twitter.com has 350 million users and accepts messages limited to 140 characters – business users can quickly share links with people they know, and the links can be found via search. I find Twitter useful to alert readers of interesting business events and presentation where I am participating.
  • LinkedIn.com has 150 million users and focus on business connections, topical discussions, jobs, and other business information for its members – most information in LinkedIn is not available via search because only members may access detailed LinkedIn information. I find LinkedIn to be useful for sharing professional information and offering thoughts in discussion forums.
  • Google Plus Pages have over 100 million users have created personal Google Plus pages which include an accessible Profile (can find full profile via search), invited contacts, a video conference feature, and a stream of posts and other public information about people and organizations the users designates. I find the Profile is useful to serve as my introduction to others and the information is searchable, and can easily share information with my contacts.
  • Google Plus Business Pages (over 50,000 created in its first 90 days) are similar to Personal Google Plus Pages, but designed for business entities. I find the Business Plus Page useful to highlight our business entities, blogs, and to keep in touch with key individuals professionally, and to have available a quick and easy video conferencing service for up to 10 locations.
Although not of the same flock, posting to a blog is another channel to share thoughts and stimulate discussion and comments on current topics. Posting a blog twice a week is an effective way to be first in line to share new knowledge that you have discovered, as well as continuing the learning from a meeting or presentation by initiating a discussion with a broader audience.
Just as a mosaic is a collection of parts which come together to create a work of art, use of social media is a mosaic of business tools to better communicate in a variety of ways to reach a broader audience then ever before, in a form that appeals to that reader. It takes a brief amount of time to set up each form of media, but it is easily updated for new content, and is agile enough to broadcast a business happening while it is fresh. As is often the case, breaking news shows up in social media first.
How do you use social media? Please share.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The High Cost of Maintaining


I was participating in a market entry strategy session and reached a conclusion that unless you already have a commanding lead in a category, it’s better to build your strategy around disruptive innovation.

Look for:
  • Fewer features,
  • Much less cost,
  • Taking advantage of newer technology, and
  • Scaling to many more customers.

Sometimes “maintenance” is code for following what is comfortable for management, not satisfying customers.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fluency


I just participated in my first Hackathon – it focused on coding for Google Apps and we developed an automated meeting registration system. A hackathon is the gathering of a group of developers and their computers with a goal of creating something during the session.

Jan Kleinert led the session and, as usual, the Google presenter was excellent! On the projection screen in front of the room, she led us through the coding – much like Mitch Miller in his Sing Alongs. We could see how to use Google Apps, take notes, and reuse the code with our projects.

Jan took questions from the floor about how to create specific features beyond the basic system, and while outlining the code basis for adding the feature, she was writing the code live on the screen – by the end of the explanation, the individual had an answer - both theory and actual code.

This naturalness of using the tools is the fluency. Simply knowing the code is technical competence, but fluency is more. Being able to lecture about programming using the code is content competence, but is not fluency.

Fluency is knowing, using, and sharing without breaking a sweat. It is not just memorizing the multiplication table but knowing the relationship of numbers – and applying this experience to problem solving and conveying it to others.

I witnessed fluency in the front of that room, and took away more than how to code a registration system. I was doing the same things and pursuing solutions the same way as Jan – admittedly at a different level – but following the same map.

Learning is an active sport and to become fluent requires doing and knowing. Fluency is about mastery - not just attendance certificates; it's about application for results – not just logging hours; it's also about sharing with others to extend their knowledge.

Groups like NCA GTUG are valuable because they expose leading edge advances in technology and top notch thought leaders to the participants – sharing knowledge that leads to fluency.

How do you add to fluency?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

And How Would You Like Me To Proceed?


One of my buds got a referral from a client. She got all excited, wanted to learn more, called and offered to take the referrer to lunch, coffee, whatever.

The response was like she passed gas in church.

The referrer just wanted her to call up the new person and sell her something. The fix was in.

Later she called me, concerned she hadn’t handled it as well as she wanted, wanted to know how to respond better.

I said, “And how would you like me to proceed?”

She said she wanted me to tell her what she should say, she was concerned about a referral fees, and didn’t want to upset her existing client.

I said, “And how would you like me to proceed?”

She said she wanted to behave better, but she didn’t have that much experience with this kind of referral, and...

I said, “What you want to say next time is, ‘And how would you like me to proceed?’ That should bring out more of the conditions for satisfaction. What you don’t want to do is make assumptions when you don’t know what is going on.”

Now, how do I get your comments defining the value of this post for you?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Makers – The Future Is Now!


Makers is a future business fantasy by Cory Doctorow with the view of a society where traditional business structure has broken down and the economy is in the tank. Sound familiar – like what you read in today's newspaper?

Instead of relying on organizations to provide jobs, plan what to do and produce, and sign paychecks on regular intervals - in Makers, individuals or a few collaborators are making and selling things. Others are buying things that meet a need with a value to the buyer.

For raw materials, makers reuse already manufactured parts from discarded items – junk – adapted for innovative uses - much different from their original purpose.

They focus on what users want and need to make something to fill that void, by adding some dreams and ingenuity. As inventors, impossibility just a challenge; as entrepreneurs, simplicity and low expense are core principles.

In the book, makers reused boogie-woogie Elmo parts to make smart cars, created 3D printers, and developed self-replicating machines (machines that make working copies of themselves).

Rewind the tape to present day.

Today we have self driving cars in prototype (Nevada has approved these cars) and self parking cars are in the showroom of five major auto brands.

3D printers are being used by several industries – there are 32 parts on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner fabricated by 3D printers. In addition, physical objects can now be copied in three dimensions – like this bust of Doctorow:

Machines that can make copies of their parts exist now – development of self-assembly is moving closer to self replicating reality.

When Xbox came out with the Kinect to sense game player movement – tinkerers immediately bought them to reuse the components to create cheap 3D imaging capability for the home PC.

The old Heath Kit and Erector Set crowd of tinkerers is still around, but has evolved to an open-source knowledge-base approach of developing innovative ideas. Code, concepts, and applied experience are shared and this collaborative environment fosters creativity and permits people to develop their ideas into products or services for sale.

One of the most visible maker communities today is app developers – individual coders who find a need and create a smartphone, tablet, or computer application to fill the void - “I have an app for that”. Agile, quick, and effective in satisfying user wants, priced cheap, and available directly to the buyer.

The New Normal is the changed structure of how we do business. The individual now plays a more significant role in the 'how' of business than merely being a cog in the machinery. However, because of the rapidly changing reality, we must keep current and continue to learn and evolve to remain viable in the workforce.

To learn about the current business environment, read Makers – a book about the future. Even its distribution is non-traditional...download it free from the internet.

The future is now. How do you see it?

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!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

One True Expert



David Weinberger is one of my heroes. He was one of the four who wrote The Cluetrain Manifesto, which laid out the “why” of social media. He has a hot blog The Journal of Heuristic Organizations (JOHO), and he has a new book, Too Big To Know, one of several recent books defining how information, education, learning, and society are being changed by the hyperlink.

I really like David because he writes about important ideas and makes them useful in many ways. As you can see from that hyperlink hyperlink, he can be a bit of a smartass, meaning he finds shareable humor everywhere he goes. What would you expect from a guy who was a writer for Woody Allen?

Over the weekend, I enjoyed a 58 minute video, Authors @ Google: David Weinberger (Thanks Google!) where David explains parts of his new book. It was a two pages of notes presentation, which means I got a lot of value per minute. This is new thinking, not sit back entertainment, so I wrote the ideas, so I could think about them later.

I think a lot about models, (Reality is too complex to parse in real time, models are simplified versions of reality. Don’t confuse the model with the reality), so one of the best bits in the video was the platypus. 

After we noticed animal-vegetable-mineral, scientists set up an organizing system, or taxonomy, so they would know where things fit in relation to each other, and why a tomato is a fruit.

The platypus didn't fit the classification requirements of the taxonomy, so the most common solution was the platypus couldn't exist. Wonder who told the platypus' mother? 

Taxonomies are a way to put everything in their one right place. That is important if you're filing your data in libraries and books. The one right place no longer matters in a hyperlinked world. Louie, Louie shows up on every rock playlist without being diminished.

Building on how hyperlinks change single point filing methodologies, Weinberger then notes the value of having one true expert. 

Since knowledge is so hard to find, let’s certify specialists in specific disciplines, so we can ask them the hard questions and get a quick answer. What we notice next is one expert is an authority, two experts is a disagreement. The hyperlinked world allows anyone who cares to look at the original data, and I find the experts usually recommend a suboptimal solution for my need.

Now that hyperlinks let each of us look at the original material, finding and understanding what we need is different than relying on the one true expert. And that is why hyperlinks have changed our world.

Your thoughts?

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!