Saturday, July 31, 2010

Be less helpful. Choose your data wisely.

Ignore the 'mathbooks' part. This is worth the time. And is about far more than fixing the way we learn math.

Lots of interesting ideas, including:
1) We are bombarded by data, but we often have trouble finding data-based solutions. This is clearly related.
2) Toss your staff into the deep end and see how, where and if they swim to shore.

Enjoy the video. Let me know your thoughts.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Raise your hand if you're in sales

Simply put, if your hand didn't go up, then you had better be working behind the counter at Burger King.

During training sessions I ask the audience to raise their hands if they're in sales. If this is the first time they've heard this, usually only the Sales or BizDev folks raise their hands. "I didn't ask if you were salespeople, I asked if you were in sales." A few more hands go up. "OK, everyone, raise your hands. And keep them up." Then I ask the question again. At this point, a few hands drop ... but then these people look around nervously and realize they are supposed to keep their hands up.

When I coach youth soccer, I have this exercise where I have my team stand in a circle around me. I drop the ball I'm holding and ask, "Who's ball is this?" Usually no one says anything, so I ask them individually.

"Who's ball is this?"
"Umm... yours?"
"You're almost right." To the next child: "Who's ball is this?"
"The league's?"
"Getting colder." Next child: "Who's ball is this?" I repeat it as they guess themselves out.
Then I say, "It's my ball."
The first child looks at me like she'd been cheated. "I said that."
"You almost said it." I ask her again, "Who's ball is this?"
"Not quite"
"But you just said..."
"It's MY ball."
By this time, one of the children understands. My favorite moment was when a 9 year old girl walked over to the ball, and dribbled it back to where she was standing. "It's MY ball," she said with a smile.

Clearly this is the message. Possession is key in soccer. We always want our team to have control of the ball (unless it's in the back of the other team's goal). This requires that each one of us, individually, think that getting possession of the ball is our, personal job.

While we must work as a team, and need to communicate clearly who is in the best position to get the ball back (we do not want to clump up like oatmeal), we cannot hope someone else makes the effort to get the ball or create a plan to get back possession. And we need to hustle to make this happen.

Before games, I'd drop the game ball onto the field and ask, "Who's ball is this?" and every child on my team would yell, "It's MY ball!"
"Yes, it is. Now let's act like it."

So... Raise your hand if you're in sales.

Now let's act like it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I did it this way. So can you. (The 6% Solution)

Amazing how many times people in corner offices tell this (see subject line) to their subordinates.

Amazing how many times they ridicule time-tested marketing strategies by saying, "When I was building my book of business, I didn't need spreadsheets, social media, etc."

Their point: Do what I did and you will succeed. Do anything else and you are lazy or a time-waster.

I call this The 6% Solution. Read on to learn why.

There have been lots of blog posts explaining why a "Do as I did and you'll get what I got" approach isn't a winning game plan. They all boil down to:
1) 'Cause I'm not you. Correct.
2) Times have changed. Also correct.

But let's take a fresh approach:

Game 1: Pick a stock. Now send 'buy' and 'sell' notes to 32 people. You'll get 16 right. Pick another stock. Send 'buy' and 'sell' notes to the 16 people who received your 'correct' pick last time. Repeat for the 8 you got 'right' this time. Repeat, again, for the 4 lucky people. You will now have 2 people (from the original 32) that have received four correct picks in a row.

Game 2: Pick 32 random Associates or Managers. In 10 years, 8 will be partners/VPs. In 15 years 4 will be firm leaders. In 20 years, 1 will be managing partner/CEO and 1 will be the top rainmaker/salesperson in the company.

See where I am going?

Sure you are talented. Sure you are good at networking, time management, and concensus-building. I am not taking any of that away from you. You fully deserve (in most cases) to be where you are. And while much was skill, it was also a numbers game. There are many people who used "your way" and failed. You think you had a special skill and you might have. But you are not helping by promoting your path as the only path.

If you look at one Manager or Associate and say, "Do what I did and you will get what I got." your odds of being right are about the same as the numbers game above. Or 6%. (1 in 16)

So... please... let us provide them with strategy, diligence and planning. Do not undermine our attempts at structure. A 6% success rate when it comes to business development/leadership planning is not good enough for us.

Oh, and one final thought: They can learn from both of us. It's not an either/or proposition.

Why a blog? Why this blog? Why now?

The last thing the web needs is another blogger, right? And, worse still, another marketing blogger.

It's not that I am finally jumping on this bandwagon. It's more like I am finally driving my own wagon, after helping (read: ghost writing) plenty of blogs over the years and having internal blogs, I decided it's time.

Why is it time?

There have been a few thoughts I've kept to myself, since they'd point too much of a finger at specific people. Or at least these people would think the finger was pointed at them. Solipsism is king. (Get over yourself. Other people also have fatal flaws.)

Why should you care?

Likely you won't. But every now and then you might find yourself wondering why you've hit a wall trying to get people to understand what you think are basic marketing premises. Or you think you have a great plan and it just isn't working. And the reason or, I hope, the solution might be here for you.

What if you think I'm wrong?

Don't hold back. Post comments and share links to contradictory research. I'm not here to make friends or collect followers. It's about ideas and strategies. If you have any, post 'em. But bring your A game. There are some really smart people in my circle and some might come here to share their ideas and criticize any weak posts. (Even mine.)