Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Power of Touch

Many organizations have decided to only allow the sales people to use the CRM.  This is often a decision based on cost.

"We can't afford to pay for licenses for everyone in the organization!" is usually the argument.

What if you took a different approach?  What if you looked at the cost of lost data and sales opportunities because you weren't documenting every time someone touched a customer?

We now live in a world in which customer behavior translates into data that can be used to uncover trends and indicators that could lead to more sales or more efficient sales activities.

  • Joe calls in to Customer Service to order that next day item, leading to a sales conversation about examining his supply chain and why he was out of stock for that project.
  • A conversation with Mary about her late invoices leads Mark to de-prioritizing that sales meeting, now that he knows there are cash flow issues and they won't be able to decide on his proposal.
  • That third service call related to that large piece of equipment indicates that Steve may be more open and willing to upgrade to another model
When you allow the CRM to give you critical mass intelligence on your customers from every angle, that's when the magic happens.

You increase sales with your customers because you are constantly putting together a narrative about them.

Every time someone in your organization touches a customer, this is an opportunity.  Don't let the relatively small price of a license cost you business down the road.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Wind Back In My Sails

I experienced something new for the first time in my career:  I got laid off.

After the shock of this development, my mind immediately went to all the things I should have done or could have done to make myself more indispensable.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that's probably not a healthy excercise.

After receiving messages and calls of support and encouragement from my collegues, manufacturer partners, and team, I realize which questions were more important: did I leave my mark and did I create an environment for the people around me to be the best they can be?

From the outpouring I received, I think I accompished those things.

However, when I look back, could I have even done better?

Did I thank that collegue enough for that unsolicited favor?
Did I provide enough encouragement for that team member when he felt insecure about his capabilities?
Was I generous enough to our vendors when they need my mindshare?
Did I reach out enough to others who we're hurting?

The people you touch should be your measuring stick.   Every interaction you have with another person, no matter the circumstances, is an opportunity to grow, learn, and connect.

I'm appreciating that this a chance to take stock in what truly matters: the relationships you build and nurture in this relatively short time we have.

The wind was taken out of my sails that day and I'm not out of the doldrums yet, but the people around me have given me new focus and helped me stay on course.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why Did I Show Up Today?

Why did you show up for work today? Have you recently asked yourself that question?

Paying the bills is often the answer.  We have overhead and responsibilities. 
We have people counting on us. 

Following the path you laid out for yourself is another answer.  You went to college, picked a major, did your internships, and landed that entry-level position. Now you're just following that same path. 

Maybe you're working for a family business.  You may feel obligated to carry on the legacy.

Perhaps you're doing exactly what you want to do, and you wake up jumping out of bed, excited to start your day.

More likely, you ended up here through some circuitous journey based on a combination of the previous reasons.

Whatever the reason, you should always be asking yourself why you're in that office chair.

You should also be making the choice every day whether you're going push through the distractions and deliver, or whether you're going to take your foot of the gas and settle for just "ok".

Your company and your co-workers deserve to know what choice you made today - because they need to know how much heavy-lifting they have to do.

You don't exist in a vacuum, and your choices don't exist there either.

Make the choice, no matter what the reason for showing up, to do to the best work, to create the best art, to be the most giving, and to affect the most change you possibly can.

If you can't make that choice, then it's time to stop showing up at all.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I Question

I question because things don't make sense.
I question to prevent the way we did things from becoming the way we keep doing things.
I question to clarify your answer.
I question to help you find your own answer.
I question to be disruptive.
I question to find a better way.
I question to keep moving forward.
I question because the rules aren't set in stone.
I question because what we're doing isn't a matter of life and death.
I question because I dream of a different reality.
I question because you don't.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Your Authentic Self

Do you have a "work" self and an "off-work" self?

Do you feel like you need to behave and act one way at work and a different way with family and friends?

Why can't you be your authentic self in the office?

Too many people act the way a boss should act or speak the way a leader should talk ,while losing their team in the process.

Perhaps the culture of your company prevents your authentic self.
The CEO needs you to toe the line, using typical rhetoric in the process.
You, in turn, relay that to your team, knowing too well they'll never buy what you're selling - and you see the team pulling away before your eyes.

When you behave this way, you must think those around you are either dumb, unsophisticated, naive, or worse, not really worth your personal investment.
Most of people that you've invested in to work at your company aren't any of those - so why treat them that way?

Is it because you're scared to show them you don't know all the answers or you may actually need their help?
Vulnerability isn't a weakness, it's a strength, because now your team can empathize with you.

Your authentic self has a place at work.  Your life experience, your successes and failures, and your weird hobbies make you a complete person in the office.  The term "empty suit" is a result of too many bosses blowing hot air without any context or character behind it.

You have many choices in how you behave as a leader.  Let your authentic self be your foundation - that's at least the one thing that can't quit on you.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Wrong Side of History

It is human nature to protect the status quo when there is no obvious reason to change.  When your work life is comfortable, and you have been rewarded for your past behavior and approach, why take a risk?

You take that risk because you don't want to be on the wrong side of history:  living in past, ripe for disruption by those seeking your job and competitors seeking your customers.

When you continue to use outdated technology and refuse to learn new tricks because "it's always worked before" you are on the wrong side of history.

When you stick with that under-performing or toxic employee, you are on the wrong side of history.

When you continue to throw money at that failing business unit, because it was your "baby" and you don't want to admit failure, you are on the wrong side of history.

When you think that the newer employees are engaged in the story of the company when it had 10 employees, you are on the wrong side of history.

When you allow large, but unprofitable customers to take most of your energy, you are on the wrong side of history.

When you don't speak out against ridiculous, outdated policies, you are on the wrong side of history.

When you think you leadership style still works because it always has, you are on the wrong side of history.

When your approach is to steamroll, manipulate, and take to get what you want, you are on the wrong side of history.

The wrong side of history conjures images of dictators and tyrants that we learned about in history class.
Is that the fate you want associated with your career or company?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A $20 Taco

After hearing that Taco Bell plans add breakfast to their offer, my first thought was why?

Other than the basic business goal of have more opportunities to sell more stuff to more people, is this really in service of their brand? After breakfast, what's next?  Staying open 24 hours?  How about they offer table service with more expensive food to go after Chili's?  When does it end?

The point is that it never ends. 

CEOs aren't often rewarded for making beautiful, scarce products that have a fanatical following.  Instead, they succumb to investors' demand that the company outgrow, conquer, and eclipse their competition.

The customer is now more distracted and has more choices than ever before.  It may work.  The numbers may show a successful business,  but will it be the product that you gush about to your friends?

Suppose that instead of taking all that time, energy, and money required to execute a breakfast offer, Taco Bell invested the resources to create the absolute best taco in the world - a taco that people would gladly pay $20 to eat? 

It's okay to just make the best taco in the world. 
Your customers will reward you for it - and the ones that don't, can go eat at McDonald's.