A Brief Reflection on 2015

As I look back upon 2015 there is one word that captures my emotions for the year…blessed.  This year was a great year in so many different ways. As I reflect on this past year, I am once again overwhelmed by how fortunate, and blessed, I am to have so many wonderful people in my life.  

I am grateful for the opportunities I had in 2015 to coach and develop some great leaders.  I am so excited to have the pleasure and honor to be a part of their personal and professional growth…you know who you are.  Throughout the year I was also blessed to have been the recipient of some great coaching from a handful of mentors, many of whom are past bosses…you too know who you are.  My leadership, strategy, decision making, and critical thinking skills continue to evolve and develop in large part due to your coaching.  Thank you.

In 2015 I had the privilege of leading yet another complete rebranding effort, dusting off a tired brand and creating a brand with life, energy, and excitement. I led a team through the deep and exciting work of the Buyers Journey that enabled us to adjust our go-to-market strategy in order to better align with the way our buyers make their decisions. I directed the launch of an Inside Sales team that proved our hypothesis that channel sales – specifically through influncers – can be as successful with an inside sales team as a field sales organization…and done at a lower cost of sale.  I worked with some pretty terrific partners to create some great content for customers and prospects alike, that fueled a demand creation strategy anchored by some great marketing automation tools. It was a highly productive year.

On a personal note, I published my 135th blog and reached 4,000 visitors to this site in the two years since its launch.  I am thankful for all those who follow me, read what I write, share it, comment, and like it.  Your interest inspires me to continue with this life-long passion of mine. I’m setting my sights on reaching 10,000 visitors so keep your comments coming as to the types of content you like reading about and sharing.  Thank you so much for your support.  

Last but not least I want to thank my wife Terri whose support and counsel has been a constant for 26 years.  I couldn’t imagine being on this journey without her.  And to my two kids who continue to show me the power of having goals and dreams, you not only keep me young but inspire me to keep growing.  You’re simply the best.

As we enter this new year I wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2016!

Top Risks for a Consumer-Driven Society

Source: Top Risks for a Consumer-Driven Society

Confidence THEN Conviction

Source: Confidence THEN Conviction

4 Ways to Super-Charge Your Leadership

Headshot11.15.15

 

If you want to super-charge your leadership skills here are 4 things you should pay close attention to:

  1. Behaviors – What you do, when you do them, how you do them. Do your behaviors change depending on circumstances or do they serve as an unshakeable foundation even in times of crisis? Be cognizant that people are watching. Your colleagues, bosses, clients, partners, are all noticing your behaviors.
  2. Routine – In a recent Harvard Business Review, it was reported that great leaders have routines. They do things in certain ways, at certain times. They are disciplined and methodical in their actions. Leaders who are skilled at identifying their surroundings and circumstances are able to develop the routines that add the greatest value resulting in better results.
  3. Adaptability – Great leaders are capable of modifying their behaviors and their routines based on their circumstances. This requires the leader to be both a teacher and student all at the same time. Recognizing the need to adjust, and as importantly how to adjust, sets great leaders apart from those individuals who manage. Managers watch over a process. Leaders evaluate circumstances, determine a better way, garner resources, provide vision, and secure alignment. To do this, a great leader must be able to adapt.
  4. Seek feedback…genuinely and often – Interesting research from a number of trusted sources indicates that leaders who request regular feedback are more effective. Feedback improves your ability to empathize and connect with others. Unfortunately many people interpret a request for feedback as a weakness or perhaps insecurity. Leaders who ask from a number of sources – not just their boss – gain deeper insight into the organization, its issues, challenges, opportunities, and people. Having the ability to see into your circumstances is critical to your success. Don’t let others perceptions of feedback affect yours or worse prevent you from asking.

Great leaders learn, teach others, learn more, and repeat that process. Take these 4 elements and weave them into your daily leadership actions.

 

 

 

Thinking Differently – 6 Things To Challenge Your Current Paradigm

Think

Last week I had the wonderful privilege of hearing a key-note speech by the incredible Seth Godin.  I’ve read no less than half-dozen of his books and have seen him speak three times over the past few years.  He never disappoints, always inspires and constantly challenges status-quo.  Below are some key take-aways from that session.

  1. We are in the business of being talked about. Our message must be clear, it must connectcommit and communicate our culture.  It must challenge the average.
  2. The definition of “everyone” is “average”. We don’t want to be like everyone.
  3. We all connect and react to things differently.  Treat different people differently. Finding the exact thing that makes a connection to a specific individual or audience is critical.
  4. Don’t hold back. Give it your all every day.  If you ask someone to raise their hand as high as they can…and then ask them to raise it a little higher they will.  Don’t hold back.  Raise your hand as high as you can every time.  Do you do things “Full Joe, Full Amy, Full Sam”, or are you holding back?  What’s the “full” you look like?  Can you get there?  If you don’t know your limits you haven’t tested them yet.  You’re capable of far more than you may think.
  5. To be successful we must be in the business of experiments. Trying new things.  “Destroying the perfect to enable the possible”.  The more experiments the more opportunities.  Think of all the experiments we’ve already done and how each of them have moved us forward.
  6. Don’t fear creativity or failure. Remember, “the guy who invented the ship also invented the shipwreck”.  Be fearless.  Own your successes, embrace your failures, and keep inventing.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover – Life’s Important Lesson

Recently I took a cab from Manhattan to NY’s LaGuardia airport. By the time I reach my destination I’m usually feeling quite lucky to have escaped the ride with my life, but this trip was different.

As I walked down 45th Street on an incredibly warm and humid day, I did the usual hand/arm gesture (no not that one) that people do when trying to hail a cab. Within minutes a car came swerving over to the curb. The cabbie was a young man with a thick long beard looking a bit dishevled. In a low voice he asked where I was headed and put my luggage in the back of the car…and we were off…and that’s when the extraordinary happened.

The first thing I noticed was as soon as we got into the car he put the windows up and cranked up the air conditioning. He turned around and in soft but strong voice said, “good afternoon sir, how are you doing today.” I replied back “fine”, and he asked where I was headed. I told him Denver at which point he asked what I did for work. After I answered I asked about him.

He told me he was Palestinian and had just graduated from City College in NY with his pre-medical studies degree. He told me of his passion to find a cure for cancer, “it’s been too long that we’ve been fighting that disease, and I want to get my PhD in an area that focuses on finding a cure for cancer.” This young man was really surprising me.

I asked him if he was driving cab full time. He drove 3 days a week and taught motorcycle riding lessons on 3 different days working 6 days a week. He told me how many people he’s met along the way and how lucky he felt to have met so many different, and for the most part kind, people.

I complimented him on his work ethic and determination to contribute in a positive manner within the medical community. He then shared with me what he felt was the secret to life’s success. The secret that separated the ordinary from the extraordinary people. That secret was time.

Please explain I asked. He said, “It’s simple. Life is all about making the most of the time you have. The saying ‘ the early bird gets the worm’ is so true” he told me. “My shift starts at 1 pm. I do that on purpose because most of the taxi companies have a shift change right at 5 pm which is odd when you think about that being the time people are getting out of work. Next time you try to get a cab at 5 pm notice how difficult it is to get one. I start my shift at 1 pm so I’m always available during the heaviest hours…right after lunch and at the end of the day.” The right place at the right time.

“When my competition is resting, I’m working. When they’re eating I’m working. When they’re changing shifts I’m working. It’s all about time.”

This young man was incredibly perceptive relative to the ways of the world well beyond his years. His casual demeanor, intelligence, and thoughtfulness gives me hope in future generations. Willingness to work hard, have a goal, and stay focused are all essential elements to success. He has these. It wouldn’t surprise me if years down the road when we do eventually find a cure for cancer that it’s his face on the cover of the front page of the paper.

He was right. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Had I flagged down a cab earlier I would have missed the opportunity to meet such a wonderful human being. Time smiled on me that day.

Profoundness Found in the Simplest of Places

Profoundness Found in the Simplest of Places.

Critical Insight When Making Tough Decisions

Critical Insight When Making Tough Decisions.

Where To Look When Customer Attrition Ticks Up

Where To Look When Customer Attrition Ticks Up.

The Rule of Thumb on Keeping a Prospect Active

RuleOfThumb

A common question from sales professionals centers around how long a prospect is kept active in the pipeline.  There are several views on this topic and of course I have my own opinion.  But before I share my view let’s look at the 3 major philosophies on keeping a prospect active.

  1. Always.  Until they buy a prospect is always a prospect and you never give up trying to convert them.  You continue to call on them until, by the sure will of your persistence or their exhaustion, they give you the sale.
  2. At the first “no”.  Once the prospect says no, move on.  Eliminate them from your call list.  Forget about them.  They don’t know what they’re doing.  They’ll come back to me later down the line.
  3. Only until I have confirmed the following:  they have a need for my solution, it’s currently an unmet need, it’s currently a met need but I can improve, they’ve engaged me in a professional manner, they’ve asked enough questions that I know they’re considering a change, they’ve brought others into our discussions, for whatever reason the timing isn’t right.

I do not believe in #1 or #2 above.  The first philosophy is what I call “old school” sales.  Keep at ’em.  Ware ’em down.  Go for the close.  Often times the prospects that fit into this category and ultimately buy from you won’t last.  They will either cancel the order before it’s fulfilled or change back to their original provider at a later time when they feel they’ve achieved a safe distance from you.  Focus on establishing the value of your solution with the prospect.  That means that you’ve done enough work to either identify this prospect as a viable candidate for your product or recognized that they’re not a fit.  Great sales people are not just good closers but they are good assessors.  They don’t waste their time on chasing ghost deals.  They know that time is their most valuable resource and they use it in ways that help them achieve “effective success”.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from #1 is the “no” response followed immediately by a run for the hills.  Remember Tommy Boy?  We’re not gonna take no for an answer.  “NO!”.  “Okey Dokey”.  This philosophy is just as ineffective as the prior one.  Just because you’ve heard no doesn’t mean move on.  Of course knowing whether or not moving on is the right approach depends on how well you’ve read the situation.  Is it no for today, tomorrow, or no for forever?  How can you tell?  Did you present your value proposal and get buy in along the way only to be shut down when it came to price?  What was the reason for the no?  Did you ask at the front end of your presentation to be given a reason for any no you received during the presentation?

The best choice is #3.  If you’ve spent time with the prospect and used that time to understand their needs and have taken an honest approach to aligning your product to their need then even if you get a no you’re in a good place to understand that no is not forever.  You’ve identified the need, you know your product can meet that need, and you know a number of different value items associated with your product that will benefit the prospect.  So if it’s no, follow-up.  Get their agreement as to when your next check in will be.  “I understand you’d like to stay put right now.  I also know we both recognized and agreed that this ABCD will help you improve your XY and Z.  I’m going to follow-up with you next quarter to see how timing may have changed to help facilitate this change.”

In summary, don’t keep a prospect a prospect just for the sake of old school thinking.  Trying to force a sale or impose your will on another doesn’t work.  If it does it’s short lived and ultimately you’ll lose the customer anyway.  If that happens you’ve actually done damage to your company’s brand and profitability as it costs money to acquire a new client and fulfill them.  Whether they stay 3 days, 30 days, or 300 days, if they aren’t on the books long enough to get to your break even you’ve lost.