October 28th, 2011
Yes, it’s time for another orange peel.
I’ve been out and about again, in some familiar and some new environments. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and learned about some incredible businesses and seen some terrific products. BUT, I’ve also seen some that are not ready for KISS and tell!
It’s very straightforward…Keep It Short and Sweet/Simple and tell the world about it. I say that somewhat tongue and check. The concept is indeed very straightforward, but for many, the implementation is lost. Perhaps it makes more sense for some to think of it in terms of return on investment (ROI). The bottom line is this, without user/consumer adoption of your product, there is NO ROI. Business users want to know what their return on investment is going to be and all consumers (B2B and B2C) want to know what value you are going to bring them. Value is different in the varying environments, for example, entertainment is not going to be of high value in the B2B world, but could be of utmost importance in B2C! So first and foremost is to know your target audience. And second is to keep the product or application very straightforward and easy to use.
Yes, in many cases, your product will solve a very complex problem. That is terrific! And, exactly what it should do. However, your product will only reach its full potential if that complexity is hidden from the user. After all, your product is intended to solve a problem for a user, so it is likely they are solving that problem in some other manner today. You have to prove that you will solve it better, faster, and potentially cheaper to get them to buy your product. Therefore, if your product makes their current nightmare even more ghoulish, rather than turning it into a dream, you’ve missed your mark and the biggest portion of your potential.
The same is true in your business proposition, your sales pitch, building your team, establishing your culture…you get the idea. When you KISS and tell, it’s straightforward, it makes sense, it’s easy to remember, and people buy in more quickly. It should not take you several hours to describe the value you can deliver for a prospect; you should be able to do that in a few minutes. Yes, it might take a lot longer to dig into the details of how that happens, however, you should be able to make a compelling case in short order.
So, KISS and Tell. Try it, you might like it!
February 23rd, 2011
It’s a problem in way too many companies. While it’s very common in large companies, it starts long before that. Where? 10 employees? 100? 1000? Perhaps it’s the leadership or backgrounds (how many come from big red tape companies). Or maybe revenues are a bigger indicator, or not. Perhaps these are all various components, but culture is most definitely a big contributor, or inhibitor, to the Sales Prevention Department (and in this case, an inhibitor would be a positive thing!).
“What is the Sales Prevention Department?” you may be asking. If you’re asking, congratulations, good for you. Whatever you’re doing or whomever you’re working for, keep on doing it, because if this isn’t ringing bells, you’re likely in a good place. The short answer is who is the person or group that is always putting up obstacles rather than contributing to solutions? Who always says no, often before they even hear the question? Whose answer is always I think not rather than I think I can? Let’s look at some examples that happen all too frequently. (By the way, it’s ok to laugh. Humor is good. Laughing is good for you! These situations can be so frustrating and stress inducing, laughter might be just what the doctor ordered.)
Red tape. This is truly the classic. No one can get anything done because the process is so lengthy and convoluted, if you can even follow it. And oh my goodness no, don’t have any special request, an idea outside the box, a “custom fit” anything because the process was not built for this. By the time you get an answer, if you do, your lead is probably cold or being serviced very well by a “clear” or “no tape” company committed to high customer satisfaction.
Culture. In the box or out of the box. Are employees encouraged to be creative and innovative, try new or different strategies? Are they empowered to do so? Are the penalties too high if it doesn’t work? Can people disagree or constructively offer different opinions? After all, no one bats 1000 all the time. Clearly some understanding and limits might be in order, particularly when money and brand are involved. But we’re not talking about spending a million dollars here. Sure those ideas might come up as well, however it’s more likely that many people will have great ideas about how they do their jobs, what works and doesn’t, what might work better, product improvements or new product ideas. Does your organization have room for this? Encourage it? Reward it?
Common sense. Does your organization remember what this means? So many companies become so engrained in a particular process or what they’ve always done (hold that thought), common sense no longer prevails. It’s truly interesting to be present in a rare moment when some level of management is talking out loud, talks themselves into a square circle, and suddenly the lightbulb goes off. They may or may not be able to address it, but they’ve just realized it. What’s coming out of their mouth makes absolutely no sense. Whether a process, a policy, a product direction…whatever the case. When common sense has left a person or organization (even worse when they don’t realize it, which is most of the time), they are for sure, part of the Sales Prevention Department. Another way to spot when common sense has left the room…people who always argue everything, no matter what! There is absolutely no leeway with them, nothing can be assumed, there is no practicality…common sense is just not present.
Big mouths. Sales and other people who never stop talking. A prospect might be ready to say yes, but you would never know it, because the sales person’s strategy for overcoming objections is to never let anyone else get a word in. Big mouths can also be in leadership or various parts of an organization however, if they talk far more than they listen, and think they are the only ones who have any “right answers.”
Too intense. Not to be confused with being passionate about what you do or having high energy. Are people, particularly in leadership or highly visible positions, just too intense? Have or create too much anxiety? Do they make your clients, prospects, or partners sit on pins and needles, or wonder what planet this person is from? Do people meeting with them breathe a sigh of relief when they’re gone and hope they never have to deal with them again, or do they mark the calendar and start dreading the next meeting already? Do they make grasshoppers nervous and start things bouncing out of control?
Ears off. Do your people listen? Listen more than they talk? Listen to customers, employees, partners? Does your organization actively ask questions and listen to answers? Does it create opportunities and environments for people to actively share and listen to product experiences? Organizations that are close to their customers are far more successful. How do you know what direction to go with a product if you don’t have your ears on? How arrogant for us to assume we have all the answers. Don’t get me wrong…subject matter and industry expertise is critical in product direction, however, not at the cost or exclusion of real user input or without awareness of where the market is going. Same is true for employees in organizations, members in a group or association, even within your own families. This is human nature and when ears are on, ideas develop, and success is empowered.
We/they. Do you know the they department? “You know they say…” do you ever wonder who they is? Organizations or individuals who point fingers in various directions, assigning problems or responsibility for success, rather than an all encompassing approach will reach a point and get stuck. It’s inevitable. Everyone is on the bus for a reason. If not, they should not be on the bus. They should also be in the right seat where they can contribute the most value; if not, they should change seats (or be swapped) and leadership should be “Johnny on the spot” on top of this. So, if people are on the right bus, in the right seat, people have an understanding of each person’s/group’s role and value. We/they is no longer and issue. Sales Prevention Department does not exist here.
This is the way we’ve always done it. Never heard this one in your organization. Yeehawww! Stay right where you’re at. Don’t even think of changing your position. You my friend, are in a wonderful place! If this is a common answer (excuse) in your organization, chances are the org/person/group is stuck in a rut. And a rut they will not get out of alone. And a rut that prevents sales because there is no room for change. Change management is a common term used to describe needs of the organization. Life, economies, markets…are not static things. No process or approach will work forever. Want different results, do different things. It’s that simple.
Do you know these people or groups? Great, that’s step one. An organization will never reach its potential leaving the Sales Prevention Department in place. Addressing sales prevention is a cultural issue and requires true empowerment and follow through, not lip service. What are you doing about it?
June 11th, 2010
One of my favorite things to do when I can indulge is to enjoy a cup of coffee on the patio with the newspaper. (Yes I still enjoy an actual paper copy whenever possible.) There’s nothing like the pool, waterfall and birds on a sunny morning with a light breeze and that paper in my hands…you just can’t beat it! On one of these rare mornings recently, though a day late, I came across a wonderful article by New York Times columnist, David Brooks, printed in THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS Viewpoints section on Wednesday, June 9, 2010. The article is entitled, “Unlocking the Big Shaggy.” In this article, Mr. Brooks speaks of the benefits of engaging in a liberal arts education essentially to develop the ability to think and speak more broadly, across disciplines, and better prepare for all life brings versus an education that focuses directly on only one skill and not on developing the whole person. Mr. Brooks goes on to talk about the language of emotion developed through a liberal arts education and how this language prepares one for a career.
A terrific example by Mr. Brooks…“many people have the ability to produce technical innovation: an MP3 player. Very few people have the ability to create a great brand: the iPod.” Mr. Brooks points out the latter—branding, marketing, and other essential business functions—requires the ability to arouse emotion and thus speak in the language of romance.
I love this! Thank you for laying it all out so eloquently Mr. Brooks. I am well-known for telling my clients, “people buy from people they like.” Unless you’re dealing in commodities, this is a fact. No sale will occur without developing a positive relationship, which involves evoking emotions, touching the Big Shaggy. And a positive relationship is much easier to build with effective branding and marketing, that arouse interest, peaking the emotion, building the readiness for the sales team to do what they do best. And most importantly, a well-built team and system that ensures all these pieces fit effectively together, ensures very high customer satisfaction…and the cycle begins again. A happy customer, is a positive emotion, drawing that customer to loyalty and to share referrals with others.
Having a language and psychology background to go with my business and English, I was particularly intrigued with Mr. Brooks’ article and reference to language and its impact on effectively conducting business. No I’m not talking about grammar (though that helps too). In fact, this is where the name Influency comes from as well, drawing heavily on language, specifically becoming fluent in a language, and the ability to use that fluency to IN-fluence one’s audience…to build that relationship, personally, hiring teams, marketing programs, social media, customer satisfaction, speaking engagements, and all the business outlets we encounter on a daily basis.
Influency Group coaches and mentors startups and growth stage organizations, helping them become fluent in the language of their product and business. This is more than getting down the 30 second elevator pitch. This is truly becoming comfortable in your own skin, with your product, your value proposition, what you deliver to your customers, and how you do so. It is only when you attain this fluency that you can develop it in your team, and when you have it together, you will consistently produce results.