Posted on | April 26, 2010 | No Comments
I have been doing a lot of collaboration and work with Ben Bradley at MaconRaine (http://maconraine.com) over the last few years. We are getting close to finding the right mix of solutions to fix the broken sales, marketing and lead generation processes in B2B organizations. Here is Ben’s take on some of our work.
“When did the job of selling get lumped in with everything else? Asking a great sales person to clean CRM data, lick envelopes and turn over rocks looking for prospects is about the same as asking your attorney to cut the grass – it could be fun but overall, it is not a good use of skills, time or money”…
Read the article here http://bit.ly/adpHax
Posted on | April 22, 2010 | No Comments
If you are thinking about adding to your team, hiring your first one or just trying to figure out how to find “more customers” and “more revenue” this is something you should read. If you do not come from a sales background and you are now responsible for sales, starting your own business or have changed roles during these tough times then it is no surprise that you might default to hiring more sales people to get more sales. The old adage of spend money to make money comes to mind. Except for most people it goes more like this… “Spend money, hope to make more money, fire the new person and start all over”.
This ties-in to the last discussion about “design thinking”. When you approach your selling effort as a product development process you can learn much more about what is happening. If you elicit feedback from your market & employees and understand your competition there is a much higher succes rate in building something that is sustainable and repeatable other than a continuous cycle of hiring and firing salespeople. If you were to step back from the day-to-day and really examine what you are doing, you might find things are very different than they seem.
Here are a list of things to look for:
1. Do you know who you are selling too? Do you have clean data for them? Do you have a process to manage data collection, cleaning and communication? Do you have a collaborative technology platform for the data?
2. Do you know how to be “useful” in the selling process? Do you know what “job” you do for your clients?
3. Do you have a big idea? (For instance if you sell services you probably say something like this… “We have a methodology, we hire the best people, we have lots of customer references, etc…) WHO CARES? Everybody says this. Come up with a big idea!
4. Does everyone on your sales team operate at 100% of quota or more?
5. Have you tried to buy “appointments” or “leads” with little or no success?
6. Do you print a lot of “brochures” and create lots of PPT’s?
7. Do you ask your sales team members to do too many jobs? Prospect, Help Marketing, Find Data, Cold Call, Trade-Shows, Write Proposals, Manage Partnerships, Close Deals, Support Delivery, Account Manage, Grow the Account, Pick-Up Donuts for the office, etc…
8. Do you execute “something” every month or better yet every week as part of your demand generation process?
9. Do you use the web as part of your demand generation process? Not just a request form but strategically using your site, social media, SEO, useful content, video and other things to drive the demand generation engine.
10. Is finding more customers and more revenue really important to you? What if you stayed flat? What would happen then? What if you hire and fire in a six month cycle again?
IF you can ask and begin to answer these questions you can start designing an efficient, scalable and repeatable sales process. You can also begin to understand the roles of the people in the process and start hiring the right people for the right job with the highest likelihood of success.
Don’t hire this guy if you can help it! Even if he is family…
Posted on | March 1, 2010 | No Comments
TEDx welcomes ideas worth sharing to Naperville on March 25, 2010
Self-organized TED event brings world class speakers to North Central College
NAPERVILLE, IL (25 February 2010) – With the Wentz Concert Hall as its backdrop, TEDxNaperville.com is launching its inaugural conference. The kickoff event will be held at North Central College in Naperville Illinois on March 25, 2010 from 1PM to 5PM. Cost of this event is only $25 and is payable online at tedxnaperville.eventbrite.com
In the spirit of “ideas worth spreading,” TED has created TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDx[name], where x = independently organized TED event. At TEDxNaperville, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.
TEDxNaperville is a local, self-organized event modeled in the spirit of TED.
“Through TEDx, the TED organization has created a viral movement that allows great ideas to be spread – starting at a local level,” said Arthur Zards, founder and curator of TEDxNaperville.com
The March 25th TEDxNaperville event includes the following speakers:
- Bryan Campen, new media associate at the Long Now Foundation
- Charlie Catlett CIO of the U.S Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory
- Dr. Robert Wolcott, the Executive Director of Kellogg Innovation Network and a founder/faculty Member, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Kellogg School of Management and Author: Grow From Within – Mastering Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation
- Michael Kiefer, general manager of BrandProtect, outlines his vision for the future of art and music distribution,
- Geoff Rhyne, chef de Cuisine at SugarToad Restaurant and founder of Slow Food Upstate in Greenville, South Carolina
- Harold Clampitt who will share lessons learned, especially the confluence of disruptive technology, decision making and success
- Todd Flaming, a passionate proponent of rethinking design
- Douglas L. Sisterson, Operations Manager US Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility.
Tickets are $25 and go on sale immediately at tedxnaperville.eventbrite.com. Seating is extremely limited. Interested parties can also visit www.tedxnaperville.com for complete speaker bios and the most up-to-date event and ticket information. After the event, from 5 to 6:30PM, there will be a cocktail reception with cash bar.
At 7PM, after the TEDxNaperville event, Geoff Rhyne, chef de cuisine at SugarToad restaurant has planned a private “chef’s choice” four-course meal with wine-pairing. If you love good food and great conversation, don’t miss this private dinner. Space is extremely limited. The cost of this event is $112 per person and is payable online: http://tedxnapervilledinner.eventbrite.com
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED Conference invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani,Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The annual TED Conference takes place in Long Beach, California, with simulcast in Palm Springs; TEDGlobal is held each year in Oxford, UK. TED’s media initiatives include TED.com, where new TEDTalks are posted daily, and the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world, and the TEDFellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.
Follow TED on Twitter at twitter.com/TEDTalks, or on Facebook at facebook.com/TED.
TEDGlobal 2010, “And Now the Good News,” will be held July 13-16, 2010, in Oxford, UK. TED2011, “The Rediscovery of Wonder,” will be held February 21-25, 2011, in Long Beach, California, with the TEDActive simulcast in Palm Springs, California.
About the TEDx Naperville Sponsors
Arthur Zards, curator, host and chief organizer of TEDxNaperville is the co-founder and President of XNet Information Systems - a B2B ISP that offers clients secure, high availability Internet access and datacenter solutions.
TEDxNaperville executive producer Ben Bradley is founder of Macon Raine - a B2B lead generation and public relations firm that uses agile marketing, selling and lead generation strategies to help companies find new customers.
Don & Kate Gingold of Gnu Ventures Company provide Internet Marketing Services and Website Lifecycle Management to small and medium sized businesses. Gnu Ventures provided the TEDxNaperville website design.
J & S Tech Designs: Jim Nagy and Susan Steele of J&S Tech Designs deliver powerful websites based on the Web Content Management system called DotNetNuke). J&S contributed the setup and provides the hosting for this site.
WebRocket Video creates targeted, authentic and personal stories for Business Marketing to advance your sales process. WebRocket contributed video production for the TEDxNaperville event.
Posted on | December 14, 2009 | No Comments
It is a struggle keeping the sales machine moving. The sales team is under pressure, the marketing team is busy playing with twitter and management wants to wait until 2010. For everybody else, now is the time go all in. Big opportunity is knocking.
Yes, I said opportunity to reinvent the way you engage with your suspects, prospects and current customers. Design Thinking is a great framework for this.
After an Innovation Strategy class at Northwestern University, I started thinking about improving the B2B sales process using innovation theory. My ideas are still in early beta but they feel solid enough to share.
In a June, 2008 HBR article (http://bit.ly/71NEtr) Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO defined design thinking as the following:
спални комплекти“a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”
This idea translates nicely to the B2B selling process. Think of it this way…
“use rapid customer feedback to evolve the solution that adds the most value to the customer and can be feasibly delivered quickly to the market.”
As an example, I have recently been working with a Technology Services firm that fixes broken IT recruiting processes. The company sells to anyone that hires contingent, permanent or project based human capital. They had problems hiring themselves and also saw the problems that existed within their own clients’ process. So they fixed the process for internal use. When they were done, what they had built was intriguing enough to take to a few open minded customers to see if it fixed their problem. It did.
These early customers are helping the Company iterate and get the service ready for prime time. The process has been very rewarding and successful.
This company didn’t build first then try to sell. They built something that did “just enough” then validated assumptions by engaging customers in a true process of value creation. They achieved buy-in and input into the solution and have confirmed that there is real value. This will create a new market position, a new service and maybe even a brand new business.
It sure beats a cold call, a brochure with features and benefits or a slick “sales system” that is focused on what you think the market wants to buy and “selling” it to them. This buyer/seller engagement is transparent, problem solving and high value. It is NOT a buyer seller “transaction”!
Posted on | November 4, 2009 | No Comments
“Have you ever been experienced… Well I have….” Immortal words from Jimi Hendrix in his song, “Are You Experienced?”…
My two recent customer experiences with American Airlines kind of made me feel like I ate the brown acid at Woodstock and I was on a “bad trip”
I had a round trip to Silicon Valley and back. When I went to check-in online the night before leaving (so I could use the cool iPhone boarding pass) I was disturbed to see that the seat assignment I made weeks before was blank and I was not allowed to check-in. No big deal. It said I needed to check-in at the ticket counter when arriving at the airport. Sooooo… I left for O’Hare early the next morning to try and get the best seat from the pool released the day of the flight. After waiting in line for twenty minutes I got to the counter and relayed my story. The guy at the counter said, “Sorry sir, I can’t give you a seat assignment.” I said WHAT!? He said “The agent has already taken control of the flight.” I looked at him with a puzzled look and repeated what he said and just shook my head in confusion and disappointment. He then half-way checked me in so I could get through security, but I now needed to stand in line at the gate.
When I got to the gate I waited for a minute or two and got up to the counter. The woman at the counter greeted me and asked me what I needed. I said “I need a seat.” She then asked me why, I repeated the whole story and she said, “Who checked you in?” I said, “I don’t know the guy at the counter”. She said “let me look”. Then proceeded to rant at me about how this guy is trained as a supervisor, he does this all the time and nobody ever reports him, etc…” I said “so he should have given me a seat?” She said “YES!” Then she continues to rail on this guy at me, writes his name down and says I should report him. I thought to myself… Why is this bad employee my problem? Why is she bringing me into the internal politics of the O’Hare American Airlines staff? After she got me a seat (The very last row in the back of the plane next to the lavatory and the kitchen) I said “You know, now I know why Southwest Airlines is the only airline making any money.” She said, “You are entitled to your opinion and I don’t care. I just go where the money is!.” I assumed this meant she was part of an acquisition or just got a job with American because they are hiring or whatever. Regardless, this is one of the worst customer experiences I have had in a long time…
Experience # 2
Upon returning from my Silicon Valley trip me, my wife and my 20 month old daughter all became very ill. The guy next to me on the flight home looked like he might pass out the entire way. It reminded me of Monty Python’s “Bring Out Your Dead”. I assume this is where we got it. This illness, unfortunately, was cause for my wife and daughter to cancel a trip to Miami for Grammy’s 90th birthday celebration. This is where the fun starts!
My wife made a call to American Airlines the day before scheduled departure to alert them that they were ill and it was possibly H1N1, we needed to cancel the trip for health reasons and we wanted to re-book. They said that was fine but there is a $150.00 per ticket re-booking fee. Considering the round-trip tickets were only $170.00 each, this was a tough pill to swallow. We asked if there was something that could be done and the agent said… “Well, you could travel anyway and just bring a lot of Kleenex and hand sanitizer.” My wife hung up the phone and told me the story. I said, “what?” She said, “Yep that is what they told me.” I grabbed the phone and called right back in to American Airlines and started over with a new agent. We went through the whole thing and I told her that we had all been to the doctor and they advised us not to travel, we are sick and could be putting others at risk, etc… The agent said, “well you could still fly if you don’t want to be charged the re-booking fee, but you booked on the internetand in the fine print it says that there is a $150.00 per ticket re-booking fee and that any new ticket must be issued to the ticketed traveler.” I then said did you know that on Southwest Airlines if I need to re-book they simply put the total amount of the tickets in an account for travel funds and I can re-book at any time and apply the funds without any “re-booking” fee? The agent ignored the comment and again referred me to the fine print about the re-booking fee for tickets purchased on the internet. I hung up the phone!
After some discussion with my wife about “Sunk Cost” theory (Thanks Grad School and Dr. Debra Aron!) we decided that we would probably just eat the cost of the tickets as it did not make sense to commit to American Airlines for another flight and pay $320.00 plus for tickets we might be able to re-book for as much or less than the $150.00 fee. We felt good enough to take the risk and let the tickets go unused…
The morning of the flight my wife, still very sick, woke up early and decided to be nice and actually let them know that they would not be on the flight and……… Viola!!! An agent got the call that actually knows the American Airlines policy. As she asked about my wife’s story she said, “If you went to the doctor and you have a note and proof (which we did) you can fax it to us and we will not charge you a re-booking fee.” My wife was very excited to tell me this and let me know right away. I said that’s great, but why did it take so much stress, work and aggravation to figure this out? She said, “You should write a post on your site.” So that leads me to today’s lessons…
1. Southwest Airlines makes it much easier to do business with them… Simple process, easy to book, change and cancel travel as well as a great staff at all of their customer touch points. Compare the 10K’s for each company. I wonder if this has any impact on results?
2. American has a broken culture. The legacy culture of we are the “big boys” you can choose us or United no longer exists. I suggest they start engaging their customers and understand how to be useful. (Maybe they don’t care and only want frequent business travelers that are in the “Admirals Club”. If so, just tell the marketplace and you will not have so many bad stories floating around and probably not as many customers too! Air travel is like the Greyhound of yester-year.) Do a google search if you care… http://bit.ly/AA_Google_Search)
3. Every interface to the market is your BRAND! It is not the AA on the tail. It is not the TV commercial. It is every interaction a customer has with AA. From research on AA.com, to time at the ticket counter and everything that happens in between. You had better start trying to get your hands around this or profits will remain elusive! http://bit.ly/2Xtr6O
4. Don’t make it hard for your customers to do business with you and try to make it easy for them to keep coming back! Bag Fees, re-booking fees, bad attitude, people not doing their job, competing on legacy assets (flight routes and a 30 year old market position) in a “customer-centric” 21st century.
5. Bring in some fresh talent to AMR and American Airlines. Get rid of the legacy employees. Things are changing and if they don’t they will be permanently grounded!
I will do everything in my power to NOT fly American Airlines in the future.
P.S. It took over a week of faxing, e-mail back and forth and digging for a phone number on google (American Airlines - Customer Relations does not give you the ability to call them. WOW! That is a great idea! Unbelievable, they must have a lot of unhappy people trying to reach them…) to get this resolved. It was finally fixed and they have rescheduled their trip. I’m glad I am not going on this trip! I’ve had enough Brown Acid for a while…
“Have you ever been experienced? Well…. I haaaavvvveeee….”
Posted on | October 23, 2009 | 1 Comment
I don’t usually offer my 2 cents unless asked… (If you know me then you are laughing right now…) but I felt compelled to write this recommendation.
Rob Wolcott and Mike Lippitz are former professors from Grad School at Northwestern University. I credit them both with having great impact on my professional and personal life through the time that I spent with them in the classroom and outside of that as friends, advisors and business luminaries. Their teachings on innovation have shaped me for the future and the next chapter in my business life.
If you are thinking about how to stay competitive in the “new normal” and are focused on driving innovation, opportunity, new business model creation and REAL VALUE for your organization this book is a must read…
“Grow from Within: Mastering Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation” is the book I am recommending. You can buy it from Amazon who has the best deal I have seen by using this URL – http://bit.ly/GFW_Amazon
The book is great from my perspective as it pulls together a lot of the things I learned during my time in the classroom and it also puts it in a context that is great for anyone in business.
Special Idea… If you buy the book and want to see if Rob and/or Mike will sign your copy I would be happy to try and make that happen for you. I think I could get them to do it.
Leave a comment on this post if you get a copy and would like to have it signed. I am happy to help you make this happen.
P.S. – In closing here is a note that Rob Wolcott sent to me after a recent meeting when I asked him some questions about the book. It may help you get a better feel for it… Search “Rob Wolcott Northwestern University” to learn more about Rob and his work.
Great seeing you last week and discussing your current endeavors. You asked for more about the book, Grow From Within: Mastering Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation, so ‘voila!’
Grow From Within (GFW) examines how established companies can build new businesses… not just new products or services, but truly new businesses. By researching these ‘extreme users’… someone we refer to as the corporate entrepreneur… we uncover critical insights regarding how to make more traditional innovation (e.g.—new product development, R&D-led innovation) more effective, how to enhance the success rate of everything from corporate lab research and new market entry to changing the way established business units operate or how companies pursue open innovation.
Your question about the audience… GFW will be great for senior executives and CEOs at established companies, as well as mid-level managers tackling the innovation challenges, or aspiring to be a successful corporate entrepreneur. Really, anyone concerned with driving growth, especially organic growth.
You’ll remember the fundamental frameworks from class: The Innovation Radar and the Four Models of Corporate Entrepreneurship, both subjects of our MIT Sloan Management Review articles from 2006 and 2007. Additionally, as you will recall, my co-author, Professor Lippitz, has extensive experience with the Department of Defense, so we have some unique perspectives from government, especially a detailed case regarding bringing Stealth to market and changing the paradigm of defense and offense. Bill Perry, former US Secretary of Defense, is in fact one of the endorsers on the cover of the book.
Let me know if you have any more questions. I’d be happy to discuss this further. It is, after all, my life’s work and passion. Please feel free to send this on to others or mention any aspect of it in your blog. Thanks again for your ongoing interest. Let me know how I can help with your endeavors.
To the Future, W
Posted on | September 28, 2009 | No Comments
As I talk with more and more people about the challenges they face creating a sustainable growth effort for their organization I keep hearing the same things over and over…
I thought I would provide a top 11 list. Why 11? Simple, because everyone else counts to ten. 11 is one more… I go to 11!
If you hear yourself saying any of these or you hear any of these at your company it is time to take a step back and understand… why?
1. Business Owners and Executives don’t have time to focus on sales right now. Too busy keeping the ship from sinking.
2. What do I pay the Sales & Marketing people for? Nobody is reaching their targets!
3. The economy is really hurting us.
4. We are working on some new partnerships that should really help.
5. When I used to run sales and marketing we never had this problem.
6. We need to try something new! I am not sure what, but let’s do it different.
7. Our competition is doing worse than we are.
8. I think 2010 is going to really pick up for us.
9. If we just used Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn we would generate more leads.
10. We won’t be hiring anyone for the next year.
11. The Holiday Party is cancelled since it has been a bad year.
Remember if you are hearing any of these you need to stop and ask WHY? These may be signs that you are not keeping your organization “Ready” or you work for an organization that is not “Ready”. Complacency Kills!
Posted on | September 11, 2009 | 1 Comment
I hate to unload the dishwasher. My wife hates to unload the dishwasher. Why is that? It seems simple enough. It is kind of a necessary evil for running a household, yet it is by far more hated than the vacuum or taking out the garbage at my house. Let’s explore how this mundane household task can help you and your business “Stay Ready”…
During a recent unloading of the DW, as we call it at home, I realized that Sales & Marketing is the dishwasher of many organizations. It is kind of there in the corner waiting to be unloaded. Yes, sometimes you want to get right in there and unload that bad boy and it can be an easy job. But usually, when that weird platter is in there and you have no idea where it goes and it sits on the counter for two days waiting to be put away, it becomes a crappy job that is left unfinished. It gets done in the end but only because you know it should get done so you can cook another meal and serve dinner. Very rarely do you want to dive right in and do it.
This is very common in companies that do not have Sales & Marketing as a core competency or consider themselves Sales & Marketing focused. They end up struggling, hiring the wrong people for the wrong job and not understanding the process. Revenue goes up and down and there is no sustained growth. Sales & Marketing feels like unloading the dishwasher. If you are not a Sales & Marketing focused organization do you think you can hire good Sales & Marketing people? Who wants to go to work and unload the dishwasher?
How can you begin to transform your organization into a Sales & Marketing focused organization?
At my house we approach it with these 5 steps as a framework…
1. Cross -Functional Team (Me – VP of Sales & Marketing, My Wife - President, COO, CFO, VP of Supply Chain,etc…)
2. Good Strategy and Communication (“I will do silverware, you take the platter that I have never seen before.” We work on opposite ends of the kitchen, we won’t be in each others way. It’s efficient, goals and tasks are defined and we measure it by how long it takes to unload and whether or not everything is put away.)
3. Feedback Loop and Adjustment (“Next time can you take silverware and the dishes for the china cabinet in the dinning room? It is closer to the silverware drawer.”)
4. Right People, Right Role (My wife puts away the platter because I have never seen it and I do silverware because my mild OCD wants me to make sure it is all stacked and lined up nice in the silverware drawer insert thingy. This works great. We may even be excited about our roles but not quite the idea of unloading the DW.)
5. An Eye Toward Innovation (“Maybe I can strap the dishes to the dogs back and she can carry them to the dining room while I am putting away the silverware?” – The President did not fund this initiative. Too much risk for our portfolio. I am safe enough within my working environment to share this kind of idea without fear of being fired! This is a pretty important point…)
Good luck and if you need help getting your dishwasher unloaded let me know. I can bring my OCD and my Rottweiler to help you out. The President is my competitive advantage and is not available for engagements!
Posted on | September 9, 2009 | 1 Comment
This is a great article I wanted to share with my audience. Rob Wolcott is a former professor of mine from Northwestern University. He just had this Op-Ed piece run in AdAge. If you want to know how to “stay ready” with your business then hand the keys to marketing and start getting ready!
“True Marketing Doesn’t Just Sell The Story”…
Posted on | September 4, 2009 | 2 Comments
As an anti-complacency expert I am often viewed as a “loose cannon” or “trouble maker” . What I have realized over the years is that when you hear these descriptions about yourself you had better run far away from that organization as fast as you can. You are in the wrong role, in the wrong organization with the wrong leadership. It took me a while to figure this out, and ever since I did my work life has been 100% better.
These are the descriptions given to the people that may be the most valuable to your organization. These folks ask the stupid questions. They also ask why? They are willing to get on board with ideas and change, they offer lots of ideas themselves. They are usually very persuasive (ever think someone was trying to submarine you and your agenda by ganging up on you?) and people seem to magically gravitate to them and want to be around them and work with them.
So why is it that these people get moved around or out of an organization?
This happens because of poor leadership, poor strategy or a myriad of other reasons. The list is long. If I break it down in one of my personal terms… I think it simply means there is no “Change” process. Without good leadership you will probably not have this anyway but even with a good leadership team often the communication process gets in the way and there is a break down. It does not matter if we are talking about a Fortune 100 organization or 3 guys in a garage, the philosophy and approach remain the same.
There are things that can be done to understand and use a “change” process as an advantage. It does not mean things change every 3 days, it means you understand how to manage your organization in a way that makes it possible to uncover opportunity, risk, ideas, new business models, etc… Here it is the word of the year… INNOVATION…
So, if you want to “Stay Ready, so you don’t have to Get Ready” when your market shifts or competition is kicking your tail all over town you better think about the “Loose Cannon”. Maybe they should not be fired. Maybe they should be used the way they want to be used. We will save the psychology of it for another post.
The “Loose Cannon” may be able to help you find growth, innovation, more customers, more employees like them, etc, etc…« go back — keep looking »