Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category
by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
The bestseller Trust Agents, by Brogan and Smith hits a big nerve today, one epitomized in its subtitle: Using The Web To Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust.
Who doesn’t want to know how to do that? I suspect just about everyone who cares to grow their business or profits will.
One feature of Trust Agents I really liked is the number of tools (how to’s and links) the authors provide so that you can actually take action on what they recommend. For example there are tidbits on how to get followed on Twitter, how to use LinkedIn, secrets to successful blogging and more.
Here’s something that was missing from the book, however…a prescription for how to ‘manage’ all the social media like Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn and on and on in 45 minutes or less a day?!! Whew!
That aside, it’s virtually unarguable that building online trust in your company is most important today, a point the authors argue with compelling examples. As legendary advertiser David Ogilvy said, “People must trust you to buy from you, and the more they trust the more they buy.”
Here are six of the book’s best points from my reader’s view:
Focus on how to use internet tools to connect and build relationships with customers. Avoid concentrating on the operations side of making the tools make sense to you. Look instead toward seeking connections with people through different avenues to create a unique experience with potential customers.
Become a “One of Us” trust agent in order to gain credibility and belong to an online community. A community relates to and trusts those that appear to talk like them, hang out at the same places they do, and will be seen as honest and genuine in their opinions.
During these uncertain times, is it possible that some of your customer’s are less likely to switch loyalties to another supplier, even if that supplier ‘might’ offer some advantages?
Do you see customer loyalty on the rise? Some of my clients do and have expressed this view to me recently.
One client recently passed this story along: when his sales force blitzes a new territory for their product line, out of 300+ contacts they now only yield 1 or 2% new customers! In the past this was apparently much higher. And get this, he wasn’t referring to a direct-mail blitz, but rather, personal contacts in the field. His company has earned a stellar reputation in the marketplace, and has among the highest quality as well as lowest price points, but still finds receptivity to doing business with a new supplier much more difficult to achieve.
What factors may be driving increased customer loyalty today? Well, according to some studies (Harvard Business Review, July-Aug 2009) trust in business is running much lower than in previous years.
So, if decision-makers trust other businesses less, doesn’t it seem possible that they might be less likely to consider switching to new vendors? While resistance to changing suppliers has always been evident in competitive B2B markets, it may just be on the rise.
Fortunately, there are some ways you can ride this wave of mistrust and come out ahead.
7 Ways to Keep Existing Customers and/or Land New Ones:
- Find ways to build and earn more trust in the initial phase of your sales cycle with prospects. Offer to do lunch and learns, provide case studies of your results, provide a steady stream of customer testimonials.
- Give the sales cycle longer intervals than in the past. If your sales cycle is six months, give it nine or twelve when soliciting a prospect who has never done business with your company before now.
Short Article #43
For good reason, I must admit. Change is arguably no longer periodic but continuous.
Change can also be quite startling when your company is the one caught off-guard. There are a number of possible reasons why change staggers even the best-made plans, sending leaders scurrying for a brilliant response…
- A new competitor slips in one night, launches a web site that offers virtually identical product for half the price.
- A once nascent technology now threatens to lop off your company’s market share in a nanosecond of the time it took to gain it.
- In a matter of weeks, you lose some or all of your largest customers’ business and sales drop dramatically.
- You get a letter one day announcing that your bank refuses to extend the customary line of credit.
The kind of change we’re witnessing is precipitated by our turbulent economy and the rapid introduction of new technology, as well as expanding globalization. Not much control over that, is there?
Change, inordinate change, begs a nimble response by the most adaptive organizations.
However, this requires leaders who are no longer confounded by change, but rather, embrace revolutionary transformation as the new norm. Consequently, they develop cogent, coherent strategies in response.
I’ve collected a few quotes on ‘change’ over the last couple of months. I certainly like how they mentally nudge me to consider new perspectives and ideas. I’d be interested in what you think of these 10 Quotes on Change:
- “Be the change you want to see.” Mahatma Ghandi
- “Having common purpose is the best way to predict outcomes in an unpredictable situation.” Jessica Flannery, founder of Kiva.org
- “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge.” Proverbs
- “The world is becoming less and less an extrapolation of the past.” Gary Hamel, author
Short Article #38 and 39 (parts one and two)
I like this observation by business authors Fahey and Randall:
“A major limitation of most strategic planning is that the thinking and recognition of opportunity take place within the confines of a mental box – the limits of the historical mindset. Often, signals of change or threat are simply not recognized by the upper leaders involved in the planning. Middle managers often contribute to the problem by focusing on the activities that best fit the mindset. Front-line managers may be subtly discouraged from challenging the status quo. In other words, the mindset exerts a limiting role on the analysis and implementation of the plan.” Liam Fahey, Robert Randall
What thoughts do you have based upon the observation above? Please leave your comments below if you’d like to chime in.
Here are some views I have on the topic of the limiting historical mindset, based on my experience:
- In the pursuit of constancy, consistency and congruency most organizations are unable to get past status quo.
- Management is often instructed by leadership to "adhere to the course we’ve laid out” and “don’t rock the boat.” Employees are often told by management to “just do what we tell you,” and “don’t ask too many questions.”
- Organizations too often say on the one hand that they want change, yet still vehemently resist it.
- As individuals, we may truly want what’s better for ourselves, our careers or our families, and yet we stay stuck in our all too comfortable mental ruts and habits—consequently little change occurs on any front.
I find that good questions often have pertinence when it comes to carefully considering our own possible historical mindsets.
Here are 10 Questions I Often Ask Leaders and Managers to Answer:
-Why do we yearn for change but yearn to resist it?
-Why do we look at the same data, the same markets, the same balance sheets and income statements month after month, and come to the very same historical conclusions?
Short Article #33
Interruptions can be enormous drains on productive time. The time wasted most commonly affects activities like project management success, hitting deadlines consistently, or maximizing selling time for the sales force.
There’s no doubt in my mind that wasted time due to unnecessary or ill-timed interruptions add up quickly:
- There’s the amount of time the interruption actually takes and…
- …the time for ‘recovery’ which represents the amount of time required to get our concentration and focus back on to the work we were doing when we were interrupted.
Both factors, can and often do, reduce our personal productivity by thirty minutes, an hour or more.
I advised a large sales force on improving time management and increasing selling time a few years ago. Do you have any idea what the single biggest killer to selling time was in that company?
Answer: salespeople shooting the bull with one another on unnecessary conversation.
Surprisingly, the salespeople admitted that it was not uncommon for HOURS of time to be wasted on unnecessary conversation, every week. Wow!
No wonder the sales manager sensed that his team needed help with time management.
Here’s the good news… after implementing a few of the steps below, the company could ‘free up’ over 1,000 hours annually of additional selling time across its sales force. That translates into more sales and more profits.
Try these steps whether you’re a busy manager, leader, small business owner or salesperson.
5 Steps to manage unnecessary or ill-timed interruptions and increase productive time:
- Hold your calls for a specific amount of time. Read more »