Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Check Is In The Mail

Was the news that the U.S. Postal Service lost $5.1B last year really surprising to anyone? If you're like me, you're sending less mail and you're doing everything you can to make sure less mail shows up in your mailbox.

Unfortunately, the USPS is still holding on to hope that they can find that magic marketing campaign that gets people and businesses licking stamps again.

That bird has flown.  Just like we don't long for the days of three television channels or rotary telephones, we're not going back to sending more mail.

So when your mission statement becomes irrelevant, what do you do next?
You either throw in the towel, or leverage your remaining strengths to transform your business.

The USPS does have some interesting assets including a footprint that covers almost 100% of the metropolitan areas and a large percentage of the rest of the populated U.S.
What about all those trucks driving thousands of miles everyday?

The USPS should immediately find ways to get advertising revenue from those vehicles in front of millions of eyeballs, and to subcontract services to companies who could benefit from the constant driving.  (Google Maps street view?)

Just like the USPS, your business may be declining due to market conditions or new technology.  You need to take those existing strengths and transform (at least start the planning) into something that is relevant now and tomorrow.

Hoping that the good old days will return is not usually the strategy of an enduring company.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Let Me In or Let Me Go

As a salesperson, you may know this customer: decent amount of business with you, long term relationship, but still keeps you guessing and at arms length.
It can be maddening dealing with customers like this.  They help you reach your quota every month, but you would drop them in a minute if you could replace their business.

As a customer, you may identify with this: You like the power of having "hand" over your supplier.  Its your prerogative to keep the vendor relationship at a "need to know basis".  Salespeople come and go, but only you know what's best for your business.

Why are you doing this, customer?
If its because I never took the time to understand your business and learn what keeps you up at night, then I don't blame you.
But if its about being in control, being the smartest guy in the room, just keeping me off balance, then you're only hurting yourself and your company.

A good salesperson helps you uncover the unrealized potential of your business, helps to proof-read your processes, and ultimately helps you make more money.
You can't possibly have every answer, and you can't possibly have heard about every industry trend and new revenue opportunity.
Let me in or let me go.  I've got other customers who actually want me along for the ride  They also have the successful business to show for it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Body at Rest

Is the health and success of your company based on inertia and momentum, or is it based on actual innovation and growth?

Large, mature companies sometimes get trapped into "feeling" like progress is being made and buzz is being created, but often it is just the underlying staying power of a healthy business.

Yes, you're profitable and you have money in the bank -- but what does next year look like?  Or your next five years?
Are you planting the seeds for great ideas and removing the obstacles to innovation so that your customers keep coming back and your competition stays in the rear view mirror?

You need to be constantly accelerating and expanding your business.  Yes, a body in motion tends to stay in motion.  But these days, you're either capturing new market share or your shrinking.  Customers have too many choices, and your competition has access to more data about your weaknesses and knows more of your customers.

Cruising in the right lane at 55 just isn't good enough anymore.  Your customers and your competition are passing on the left.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Your To-Do List

I've never been the best at keeping a to-do list.  Over the years, I've found that I don't get a lot of satisfaction crossing off tasks written on a piece of paper.
I usually end up getting things done that matter.

I guess I have swirling to-do list in my head all the time (in no particular order):
Get to work in time to at least read a couple e-mails and prepare for the day before folks start walking up to my cubicle
Try something new that gets me out of my comfort zone
Provide an environment for my employees that gives them the greatest chance of success
Make sure someone who works for me knows I appreciate them
Connect with another customer
Build a bridge to person in another department
Complete another project or goal that adds to my "indispensability"

I don't expect the people that work for me to either have a concrete list on a piece of paper or a swirling mental list like me, but I can tell when you don't have any list at all.

You arrive exactly when you are supposed to, and don't have any planning before "game time"
You've done the exact same job, the exact same way for years
You wait for my permission to make connections with folks that could help you be successful
You wait for me to ask you "where you see yourself in five years"
You complain about not having enough time to do things

Your to-do list (no matter what the form) should be about controlling your agenda, instead of letting the day, week, month, year, or lifetime happen to you.

When you work for me, you should expect that I help you ship whatever is on your agenda.  If you don't have one, that leaves both of us in an awkward position.
Most of all, it messes up my to-do list.