Final post?

January 3, 2010

The last post (or this one really), may be my last post for awhile. I have decided to bite the bullet and follow my dream of starting my own business. I have been reading everything over the last 2 years on management, what makes a business successful, innovation, sales and marketing (and a lot more in between). Until two very simple things came together to make me take action. The first was Earl Nightingale’s “The Strangest Secret” (see below) and (again) something from Jeffrey Gitomer: “You already know what to do – you’re just not doing it”.

So what is “The Strangest Secret”? – Five simple things that you can work on to become as successful as you want:

1. We become what we think.
2. Limitations are self-imposed.
3. Have courage.
4. Save money.
5. Take action.

So, I’m taking a dash of courage and a whole lot of action and starting my own Strategic IT Consulting company (called Quantim Consulting). It’s time for me to put what I already know into practice and see what I can do (and learn) for myself.

I’m sure I will keep blogging in some form, but it will likely focus on Strategic IT Consulting for awhile. But you never know, I might find the time to come back here every now and then and share some of my learning’s.

Remember: “Life is an exciting adventure – enjoy the journey” (Earl Nightingale). I wish you every success and a prosperous New Year.

Craig Hansom. 3 January 2010.

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My 10 commandments

December 18, 2009

I’ve seen a few “10 commandments” of selling floating around and it made me think – what are the “rules” that I live by? It’s hard to get this list much smaller – all of these things are important. The good news is that you can personally work at being your best at all of these. So here goes…

  1. Be friendly and build rapport. People buy from people they like.
  2. Be open and honest – people appreciate the truth. Don’t promise on something you can’t deliver.
  3. Generate confidence and trust.
  4. Research your customer and think about their issues and needs.
  5. Ask great questions. Have a reason to follow up.
  6. Listen – the customer is telling you what they need.
  7. Make sure you deliver what they want (stay across delivery issues and address them early).
  8. Get a system (and CRM) that works for you and use it. Things like number of calls/day, follow up, etc.
  9. Be enthusiast and believe in what you are selling. Have passion for your company and product.
  10. Ultimately it’s about the customer, not you. Focus on helping them and everything else falls into place.

 

A big one for me recently was number nine. I generally have passion and enthusiasm for everything I do, but I didn’t believe in the company I was working for – so I left. I can thank Jeffrey Gitomer for helping me make that decision.

What are the rules that you live by? They might be slightly different, but it’s worth thinking about them – as Earl Nightingale once said “we become what we think”. Good luck.

Craig Hansom. 18 December 2009.


Sales versus Delivery

November 3, 2009

You’ve heard of the old competition – the Sales team selling services with no concern about the ability of the organisation to deliver. The delivery team gets stuck with an impossible project that they either have to work their butts off to deliver or a customer expectation that they just can’t meet. The problem with this scenario is that it’s a lose-lose all round – the Customer loses because they don’t get what they expected and loses faith in the delivering organisation and the Salesperson loses the ability to sell further services to the same customer. Even when the selling organisation is a one-off transaction based supplier they still lose, because word will get around that the organisation doesn’t deliver on their promise.

Many organisations will tell you that this doesn’t describe them, but I see it time and time again.

This scenario normally occurs because sales quotas and the remuneration of the Salesperson are not linked to job profitability – make that connection and it can help remove the impossible project scenario. Add KPI’s around long-term customer orders and that can help remove the problem with meeting customer’s expectations.

The best solution is to make the Sales team work closely with the Delivery team. I’ve seen organisations where there is a definite adversarial relationship between the Sales and Delivery teams. This is usually because of the “win it and throw it over the fence” mentality of some Salespeople. There needs to be a culture and processes to support the teams working together. Having a Delivery Manager who works well with both teams will help immensely. Having Salespeople act as Account Managers who have to be part of delivery reviews with the customer can also help them take ownership of the promise and the solution.

A common solution is to use pre-sales resources – nominated delivery people who are used by the Sales team to scope and write proposals. The problem is that the pre-sales resource usually drifts into being a part of the sales team, losing their connection (and skills) with Delivery. This can lead to future problems filling this role as other s see what eventually happened to that Pre-sales person. A nice balance is to include different resources over time to help Delivery understand the sales process and gain some ownership of what is being sold.

If you’re selling commodities, you will want to make the Sales team aware of production and delivery processes and issues. One easy connection is to make them follow up with customers to ensure they were happy with the delivered products. Delivery or production staff can be included in customer site visits to experience how customers use and order the organisations products.

If you are selling services or solutions that normally involve some form of project to produce the solution then involving the intended Project Manager and Senior Designer in the bid and scoping process will help get the ownership for when you win the work. One common problem with solution selling is under-scoping the effort required to deliver the project, especially if the scoping is left to the Salesperson. Include the Project Manager and Senior Designer (with a reasonable peer review process) and the scoping is likely to be a whole lot better.

Despite all your best efforts, there can still be a disconnect between customer requirements, the scoped project and the submitted bid. It makes sense to start any project with a “Project Initiation Document” (from PRINCE2) to ensure that everyone is still on the same page when the project commences – better that then finding out at the end of the project!

The bottom line is that Salespeople need to be mindful of delivery issues and work with the delivery team to make sure that what they are selling leads to the long-term profitability of the organisation. Having delivery resources working their butts off all the time or losing customers by setting false expectations is not in anyone’s interest.

Do you use a different mechanism to help your Sales and Delivery teams work well together?

Craig Hansom. 3 November 2009.


High-Tech China

October 25, 2009

I have just recently returned from Beijing, in China. I was amazed at both the variety and progress of the place and its people. Make no doubt, China is a force to be reckoned with – their desire to succeed is obvious. There was every evidence that they have both the skills and technology to support that success too.

My observations are supported by an article in BusinessWeek that stated China’s ability to produce technology products were surpassing other traditional producers at a cheaper price. China is now “fabricating 12-inch silicon wafers that experts say is just two generations behind Intel Corp”. Harvard University economist Richard B. Freeman is quoted as saying “What is stunning about China is that for the first time we have a huge, poor country that can compete both with very low wages and in high tech”. China is quickly becoming a knowledge economy that may soon surpass the rest of the world.

References

Pete Engardio and Dexter Roberts, “The China Price”, BusinessWeek, 6 December 2004, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_49/b3911401.htm

Craig Hansom. 25 October 2009.


Recovering from the GFC

September 16, 2009

In the BRW article “Road to Recovery” (D’Angelo Fisher , 10 September 2009), ten of Australia’s leading management and business advisers provide a checklist for companies to prepare for the recovery. Two items of note on the list are:

  • “Throw out the old business plan”. The author qualifies that “many of the plan’s core elements will remain relevant…[but] certain issues need to be continually tracked and refined to reflect changes in the market and economic conditions”; and
  • “Get your systems and processes right”. This is “not just to cut costs, but to position companies to be able to hit the ground running when the economy comes good”.

The article highlights that “success in the upturn, whenever it comes, will require planning and, in some cases, fundamental change”. It is this planning that businesses need to get right. To make any significant change, businesses should look to remove or mitigate the risks as much as possible. Using a sound process to develop the plan and to make the planned changes (especially managing the risk throughout the change) is imperative to ensuring you are making the right changes for the future success of the business.

The current environment provides a good opportunity to review a company’s systems and processes. D’Angelo Fisher states that “few, if any, businesses can expect to carry on ‘business as usual’” in the new economic environment. Using external expertise can help extract maximum benefit from the business’ processes – a fresh pair of eyes and someone who is not “the owner” of a process can challenge the value of those business systems. A proven way of doing these system reviews is to use a process known as ‘Outside In’ or ‘Customer Expectation Management’ (see Steve Towers reference below).

The article also highlights that “reviews of systems and processes should occur as a regular part of doing business, not just when times are slower”. This is important to remain competitive and continually improve the way the business performs. Treating the Business Plan and the strategy it contains as a living entity is also a good way to ensure the tactics you employ remain relevant to the ever changing business and economic environment.

All signs are showing that the recovery is now upon us (or soon will be) – how quickly individual companies recover and take advantage of the opportunities will depend on their business plan, systems and processes.

References

Leo D’Angelo Fisher, “Road to Recovery”, BRW Magazine, 10 September 2009, http://brw.com.au/viewer.aspx?EDP://20090910000031535225

Steve Towers, “Don’t give customers what they think they want”, http://www.towersassociates.com/Towers_Associates_Customer_Expectation.html

Craig Hansom. 16 September 2009.


Australian Master Sales Summit 2009 review

September 8, 2009

Today I attended the Australian Master Sales Summit. It was interesting – some good, some bad. First the bad: unfortunately Jeffrey Gitomer wasn’t there (more on that in a later post). The rest is all good – read on.

First up was Ari Galper, who is the creator of “Unlock the Game” (see http://www.unlockthegame.com/). Ari guided us through his truth-based sales approach, which is based on using “new mindset + trust based language” to take the pressure out of the selling experience (for everyone concerned). It wasn’t rocket science, but he did demonstrate that the language you use can make all the difference to developing sound relationships and trust.

Amy Smith, Managing Director of Jenny Craig (see http://www.jennycraig.com.au/), took us through two sessions and is a very entertaining and inspirational speaker. Amy started by talking about what makes a customer loyal and why a loyal customer is so much better than one that is just satisfied. She covered a lot of ideas, with some great anecdotal stories along the way, spanning topics like: customers buy an experience; and focusing on the process (focus on the seeds you plant and nourish now to harvest later). One of my favourite takeaway’s from Amy was that “motivation is being emotionally driven to take action”.

The summit was hosted by James Lush (see http://www.lushtv.net/), who is a very professional MC and someone I have a lot of respect for. James’ style made everything flow smoothly and he is great at getting question time going with some well directed observations.

So, did the seminar meet my goals (that I talked about in my previous post)? In a word, yes. I got some good ideas that I intend to apply, starting tomorrow. Unfortunate those ideas didn’t come from Jeffrey and I didn’t get to shake his hand or get his business card – that will have to wait for another time. I did of course shake Ari’s and Amy’s hands and hope to get to meet both of them again in the future. I also got to meet and talk with some great peers, who shared their enthusiasm and thoughts as we considered better ways of doing business together.

Craig Hansom. 8 September 2009.


Australian Master Sales Summit 2009

August 6, 2009

Next month (8th September 2009) Jeffrey Gitomer is in Perth for the Australian Master Sales Summit 2009. Jeffrey is THE number one sales guru in the world! The seminar also features Amy Smith, MD of Jenny Craig, who is a well respected businesswoman in her own right.

I booked my ticket the moment I found out about it and just told my manager I was going. I’m excited! But what do I expect to get out of the seminar? My goal for any seminar is to take away at least one new idea that I can implement to improve myself or my company. For this seminar, I expect to walk away with a list of ideas and insights. If I can learn to apply just a fifth of what Jeffrey teaches and absorb just a fraction of his positive attitude, I just know I’m going to be a better Salesman for it.

Jeffrey’s style is very different (for instance, he doesn’t take questions) and in his own words, “you already know what to do you’re just not doing it” (see reference below). Maybe I do, but there’s nothing wrong with getting reminded about the key elements from the man himself.

I do have one other personal goal for the seminar: I want to shake Jeffrey’s hand and get one of his famous business cards – I’ll let you know how I go.

If you want to know more about the seminar or get a feel for Jeffrey’s style, visit http://www.australianmastersgroup.com.au/amss09/ – I hope you can make it.

Reference: “You Know What To Do”, Jeffrey Gitomer, Sales Rant, 16 December 2006, iTunes Store.

Craig Hansom. 6 August 2009.