Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CEOs can – and Should – Take a Lesson from a Soccer Coach

Everything I learned about business, I learned from coaching youth soccer.

I say this a lot and while it's a fairly large overstatement, I do learn business lessons from coaching soccer. And I often use these lessons when counseling or training (or boring) my clients and staff.

So it came as no surprise when I was sent the following:


Here is my favorite part:

Another important lesson football management has to offer business is that the manager does not sit, isolated, in a huge office, which removes him from close contact with all levels of his staff. He is literally on the sidelines.

I would add that leaders should "coach from the sidelines…and only the players on the sidelines."

Sadly, most leaders don't get this. They phone down their edicts, keep performance metrics hidden, and mainly work with people on a one-to-one basis instead of building functional groups.

Winning takes a coordinated team. And a strong coach. And, apparently, lots and lots of soccer analogies.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Worst Word To Use In Front Of Marketers

Funny, since I was thinking about this post as I walked to a lunch with a friend in fundraising and she mentioned the same issue. And when she mentioned the issue, she used the exact same word.

What's the word? It's... JUST.

"Just" is a hateful word that means, in effect, "What you do is easy."

Examples: "Just set up a webinar so fifty of our prospects can ..." "Just write a white paper on this and have CFOs of ..." "Just get a speaking engagement at ..." or, using my fundraising friend's frustrated comment, "Just get ten percent of our members to make x-sized donations to the campaign."

What could be so hard about that? The idea is the hard part, right? The other person JUST needs to execute the idea.

As a marketing guy, I'm in the privileged position of hearing non-marketers talk about their marketing needs and their marketing people a lot. I hear the word "just" constantly. As in, "Why can't my marketing person just..." Often what follows is the equivalent of "...bicycle to Spain on a pogo stick." Not quite sure why you want to go there, but it's obvious that neither of the tactics you conflated will get you there.

Now, I know that people generally think what they do is hard and what other people do is easy (regardless of how much the other people are paid to do the easy work … or how much specific training they might have), but I believe that marketing people hear the word "just" more than any others. (Though now I wonder if fundraising people hear it more.)

Anyway... Here's the deal: The word "just" doesn't mean the other person's task is easy. It means that you likely do not understand what it would take to get that task done. And there is a word for people who don't understand something. That word is "ignorant."

In short: The next time you are about to use the word "just", ask, instead, "how" they would accomplish the task or realize the desired outcome. The solution might not be as straightforward as you think and, well, everyone just might learn something.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The #1 New Business Lie: Great Work Sells Itself.

One of the greatest myths to Business Development is "Great Work Sells Itself."

It's amazing how many times I hear this. A quick look at that person's sales/origination figures, though, is proof enough that they are fooling themselves.

If you believe that great work sells itself, my friend, there are only two possibilities:

1) You are wrong.
2) You are not delivering great work.

Let's make one thing perfectly clear: Your clients expect great work. This is their jumping off point. And, once they get your 'great' work, they can move on the reasons they bought it from you: doing whatever they were doing before you arrived.

Your clients are not in the business of selling your services/products, nor of consuming more without being provided a business case for doing so. In fact, many clients do not realize how good they have it, since they have no perspective on what bad or mediocre work might look like.

And yet, despite all the proof to the contrary (read: consistently low rainmaking numbers), you persist in your belief that great work sells itself.

A related digression: They say if you build a better mousetrap people will beat a path to your door. This is a Field of Dreams.

1) How does anyone know you have a better mousetrap?
2) Why would anyone take the time to actively promote your better mousetrap?

The answer to these questions is the answer to the problem above.

If you do great work, let them know why you believe this is the case. ("See this mousetrap? Here is why it's better than the alternatives." Dyson understands.)

Better yet, show them by pointing out other places/ways where you can help them.

Or, at least, ask them if you are meeting/exceeding their expectations. If you receive criticism, fix it. If you receive a compliment, don't just say "Thanks" or, worse, "No problem." Use this as an opportunity to ask for more work or a referral. With luck, they will provide a compliment without such prompting. This is your opening to ask them to take the next step.
|> The bigger picture is letting them know you and they have a business relationship, not solely a customer/supplier one. <|
How? Promote their services. Refer them business or make strategic introductions to help them fill gaps. Ask them how you can help their business beyond the scope of what you are doing now. Even beyond the scope of what you can provide yourself. (Here is the magic question: "Forget that I am a ______ for a second. What other business issues do you need help solving?") And then help them find someone who can fix it … unless you can yourself, of course. Since they have no idea what else you do, they might tee up some additional work. If nothing else, once they see you care about their business, they will probably return the favor.

The 'mousetrap' quotation has made me mad for some time now. Like the mousetrap the 'better' one replaces, it also needs fixing.

Here goes: "If you build a better mousetrap – and let people know about it – people will beat a path to your door."

But back to the people who believe great work sells itself. It'd be better for them to continue believing in the Tooth Fairy. At least with the Tooth Fairy real money changes hands.