Monday, August 17, 2015

Eat Your Breakfast

Someone recently shared something with me, and I've been carrying it around with me for days in my head.  He attributed it as a quote from famous business author, Peter Drucker.  He said, "culture eats strategy for breakfast."

As sales professionals we live with strategies.  We have strategies to grow market share.  We have strategies to launch a new product line.  We have strategies to gain a new client.  And when our strategies fail we often look to ourselves to figure out why it didn't work.  We question our skills, techniques, and sometimes even our work ethic.  Yet, the reason why our strategies didn't work may not have anything to do with us as sales professionals and have everything to do with the culture of the organization or people we are trying to sell to.

Culture is a collection of habits that define operating procedures or human behaviors.  These habits can be so entrenched in people and organizations that they are difficult, and, sometimes, nearly impossible to change.

We are offering a solution - a product or service - that would revolutionize the outcomes for an individual or organization, and they just won't buy it.  It is their culture that is getting in the way of the sale.

It may be entirely illogical, irrational, and foolish for them not to buy what you are selling, and they still won't buy it.

Is it a lost cause?  Not entirely.  The sale, if it is to happen, will require considerably more work on your part.  You will need to spend a lot more time with the prospect to learn and understand the culture.  You will need to embrace the culture and get close to it.  It might take weeks or months or even years before you will potentially understand what is it about the culture that is getting in the way.

As busy sales professionals we need to do a quick cost-benefit analysis to evaluate the proper use of our time.  For the right client the investment of time to understand a culture and devise a wise approach to the sale may all be time well spent.

Stephan Covey said, "seek first to understand, and then to be understood."  To understand fully requires time and focus.  Shift your focus to your prospect's culture (habits) and you will be more effective in your sales efforts.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Shrunken Thoughts

We wait for the world to tell us what to do.  We wait for twitter to inspire us, to prompt us to react.  We check our email for the next thing to add to our to-do list.  We are stimulated by voice mail and text messages; they feed us, they satisfy our need to be important.

An earlier generation thought that television was going to dumb us down.  The half-hour sitcom interrupted by commercial breaks, it was said, would shorten our attention span.  Attention spans have been shortened for Americans.

What can we suppose about the current communication technologies and their impact on current and future generations?  Interesting to think about, and scary.

More importantly, what impact are these technologies having on you and your effectiveness?  Do they control you or are you effectively using them?

The screens we look at are no longer just in our living rooms or on our desk in the office.  No, we carry these screens around with us and we look at them constantly.  It has been suggested that the average American looks at their smart phone 150 times a day.  While I don’t know if that number is accurate, I do know that we look at those screens a lot.  So much so that technology companies are predicting the next growth area is in wearable technology.

I love technology.  I marvel at the availability of information.  What is occurring in this lifetime is truly revolutionary.  As with any revolution we know that things will never be the same, and, during the revolution, we don’t know the eventual outcome.

I recently upgraded to a new smart phone.  I decided not to install facebook on the new cell phone, whereas I had it on the old.  At first I just didn’t take the time to download it, then I thought that maybe without the app on the phone that it would improve the phone’s performance, particularly speed.  After a while I’ve come to appreciate that I feel less distracted and more in control of my time and my thoughts.  That’s right, more in control of my thoughts.  With facebook not on my phone I’ve actually improved my performance.

We are our thoughts.  What we think about, we get.  What we think about, we become.  If we are constantly paying attention to other people’s clever posts, then we think about what kind of clever post we can submit that will be sufficiently similar and somewhat unique.  The size of our thoughts shrinks to that of the next post, in a similar way to how our attention span has shrunk over the years.

For those of us who desire to do big things, important things, we cannot afford to think small thoughts.

Big, important things are things you’ve never done before.  They are dreams and stretch goals.  They are the great ideas that you have, that you haven’t pursued.  They are the stuff that you procrastinate about, life goals.

To pursue those things you need to think about them.  You need to dream and ponder and contemplate.  You may need to do some research and seek advice.  You need to fill your mind and your spirit with information that will lead you to answers related to your goals.  The information inputs must align with and be congruent with the direction you intend to go.

Everything else is distraction.