A Productivity Strategy for Freedom and Agility

We have so much today that our grandparents could not even fathom. The resources we have access to and the new sharing economy make possessing items a liability. Techcrunch captured our reality well in its article, Life, by subscription.

From my vantage point, it is all the reason to consider why it’s not so great to own things in your business:

  1. Obsolescence is happening at a ridiculous pace. Your stuff gets old and outdated quickly.
  2. Subscriptions are extremely cheap or convenient whether for software, automation or even financing on cars and office equipment.
  3. You are continually changing. You are assembling, disassembling and reinventing as everything around you keeps changing.

We don’t need to acquire things. We need to use them for what’s in front of us. Work is about projects that come together with all kinds of people at various times.

So, what if you take inventory of all the hard goods around you and simply discard the ones you have not used in a while. Upgrade the ones that need to get current.

Move your business to the cloud and subscribe to systems, software and tools that make sense. Don’t use more than you need. Cancel subscriptions that don’t make sense. Most businesses and entrepreneurs can build an empire using Google Apps alone. And you likely don’t need printing, phones, servers, fax machines or a lot of other items that may have made sense in a previous age.

See if you can reinvent your workflow to minimize anything tangible as well as get out of the IT business. We live in a service world. So use the services to get to your goals.

The strategic advantage you gain is the ability to pivot with agility when you want to pursue something new or your market suddenly changes based on outside forces you cannot control, much less anticipate.

Shifting to a consumer mindset where you own nothing and control everything can take out an immense amount of friction coming from upkeep and maintenance of things that don’t matter.

What if you had that freedom? You controlled things but didn’t own them? How could you do this now?

Growth Hacking with Testing in These 6 Sales Channels

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Selling your products or services today in an overcrowded, inattentive marketplace has a high degree of difficulty for sure. You may have the best offering, but what does that mean if you can’t connect and get people to pay attention?

If you break down sales into channels and testing, you can create a growth hacking strategy which helps you pick the best option for going to market.

You have a limited set of ways to sell:

  1. Direct selling. You may need to build a sales team, manage them, pay them and get them to use a CRM to track what is going on. Very difficult but may be worth it for control and engagement.
  2. Social media selling. Consistency is the key here. You don’t just show up and simply sell. You have to get people to tune in by subscribing or liking. Your posts and tweets have a half life so being continuous and consistent is critical.
  3. Affiliate networks. Sharing commissions and incentivizing using the carrot are your tools. You have to spread your net wide knowing most people are good for a deal here or there because of the lack of control and commitment.
  4. Paid advertising. You can immediately post ads on Facebook, Twitter and Google Adwords. But you have to set up process, analyze conversions and refine the sales funnel continuously to find the optimum points.
  5. Networking. Business is people and developing relationships works. But it takes time and attention. It doesn’t fit with all products but it does fit with a large amount. People are so busy they don’t want to stop and meet for lunch, coffee or networking events. Time is precious. Networking in a way that respects time is what works today.
  6. Organic sales conversion.  Knowing your numbers, getting found and converting on each step in a sales funnel to create predictability is a long game but has payoff. You have to use predictive analytics and understand behaviors.

If you break your business model down to these six options for selling, assess how people could buy your product and service naturally, then you can start testing a model on a small scale and take it to its logical end.

Your growth hacking strategy is to design a good test for the selling strategy you think applies to come to a conclusion on where to go big in your selling approach.

What sales strategy can you test on a small scale to find out what to commit to?

Assume What Worked Before is Not True Anymore

2014 People's Climate March NYC 26

It can be overwhelming and plain daunting when you look at the speed of how media, attention and content work. The same is true for sales, entrepreneurship and business building.

You have the problem of exponential change around you and our brains don’t lean this way naturally. We like to think progress is slow, not astronomical.

The change is happening so quickly because we have network effects at work. If you put a platform like Uber in play, you may have a few customers and a few drivers. But when the model gets popular and accelerates, you have millions of transactions because of habit, ease of access, increase in inventory/supply and growing demand.

Anyone and everyone can become an Uber customer.

The same goes for media. You can start posting Tweets and work hard it. You are just competing against many more people than in 2010. The rules change because there are simply way more people and not an increase in attention.

You can send more emails, however, you are one in about 200 per day in everyone’s inbox.

You can call more people, but everyone has caller ID and the ability to block you.

You can go to more trade shows, but its a worn-out channel with most people walking away with no deals – vendors and visitors both.

We have too much of everything. It’s easy for anyone to start a channel or be their own media company. People are too busy to give you attention.

Yet, you may keep looking for an old tactic to work because it worked a couple years ago. Can you step back and appreciate that everyone else caught on? It’s crowded and you enjoyed a window, not a permanence, of opportunity.

Your sales strategy is not a one and done. That’s because you are competing against the world. Everyone can connect for cheap or free. It’s not hard.

The hard part is becoming relevant. And that’s best done by becoming a signal within the noise.

You may have to analyze or continually reinvent. The market is churning constantly and there’s not much choice. The one thing that is for sure is that what you find working for now will likely dry up as every0ne else catches on.

Want a new strategy? What’s not working that used to?

Growth Hacking With Your Learning

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As you are growing your business, ultimately it comes down to how much value you gain and add to other people. The more value you add by being valuable, the more your business grows.

Unfortunately, most people are just looking for the money without realizing it is a correlation to how much value they can add. It’s why business is so awesome. You win by figuring out how to add the most value to a customer in comparison to the next person. It’s a game of adding value.

And every day, if you are in the game, you are continually learning new information and gathering new ideas. Your inbox is filled with content. Your social media feeds are full of content, happenings and what’s new.

One growth hacking approach to becoming more valuable and driving more business is by using a strategy of repurposing. As you are ingesting immense amount of information you can drive these 2 strategies into your workflow:

  1. Immediately share your content by email or by social media with people you are thinking it connects with.
  2. Tell them how the content matters to what they are pursuing.

The first step may be a bit easier. The hard part is actually thinking about other people rather than yourself.

The second part is harder. You have to really care about what other people are pursuing and think relevantly about how the information you are sharing is not just added work. It has to have meaningful context. You can answer questions such as:

  • How does this content drive your bottom line?
  • What ideas from this content should your recipient care about and why?
  • What are some steps they can take to make it actionable now?

Many times people simply share content leaving the interpretation up to others. But if you can take that extra step, then you can create a growth hacking strategy that is continuous and creates opportunities as your ideas make an impact for your recipients. You become more valuable and invited into deals that might otherwise be dormant and without form.

How can you take something you read today and share it in a way with a bit more thoughtfulness for a person to win?

Solve Your Slow Workflow Now

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Most people are in utter chaos. Try calling someone today in the middle of the day and a random sampling will show you how frenzied and reactive most people are operating. Our heads are spinning from the ridiculous amount of information, most which does not matter. But we still have to give attention to the requests, ideas and project work coming at us.

Do you want to solve the problem? It requires a commitment to productivity and speed. Hiding behind the overwhelming work just makes it less desirable to do business with you otherwise.

Speed is something you can gain in your workflow, but you have to acknowledge the problem – you are slow and overwhelmed.

How about learning to become fast and far ahead of the game? You have to want it. Without this, then it’s just an existence of catch-up and mediocre output.

What if you could be 5-10x faster at email? What if you could make space and time for thinking creatively rather than just getting through tasks?

You need training to make that happen. Training used to be formal and large companies had official programs to help knowledge workers move through management, productivity and projects.

Today, you’re on your own. Noone is telling you what to do. They just marginalize you and avoid doing business with you.

Consider fixing the problem and do a deep dive once and for all to get a return forever. You will spend years working. But will you be able to move efficiently day in and day out?

Want to be faster? Connect with me and I’ll show you a path to productivity. Put it to rest by getting the asset that matters more and more in this age of choice.

Fooled by Automation

Did you hear about the Georgia Tech teaching assistant, Jill Watson? Using machine learning and automated, human responses, students were fooled by the artificial intelligence machine learning experience.

The approach to engaging people goes beyond classrooms and is continually being pushed in the marketplace. While we could previously understand how automation could efficiently build our cars and computers in the factory setting, the leap to moving into human spheres like selling and marketing was not so easily conceived.

Yet, here we are. Automation has penetrated into the interactions between people so much that it’s hard to distinguish between a machine and a person.

A large part of what we consider human like follow-up or touch points are repetitive with a few nuanced tweaks. We tend to operate from a finely tuned algorithm to interact.

But machine learning is picking up on that nuance which creates an indecipherable human interaction.

Selling and its largely human component could soon become less demanding of charismatic types or unproductive labor to create deal making opportunities. We may be seeing a Jill Watson move further into the value creation and connection processes of our once strictly human requirements.

What do you think of automation entering into business deal making?

Implement This Critical Growth Hacking Technique

Buzzword Bingo: Big Data = Collection of large and complex data sets

You may not have big data as the likes of Wal-Mart online or Amazon. However, if you don’t understand your data set from how customers buy and engage with you, then your selling efforts can be highly wasteful. You could be working on things that don’t matter and waste money in the wrong areas trying to attract customers.

If you want an edge with insights, then understanding how to shape your sales funnel and convert becomes paramount. It’s why implementing a feedback loop where you can understand the data feeding your business pipeline is a critical growth hacking technique.

The strategy requires that you stop guessing and use statistical analysis tools or talent to gain a clear picture of how your customers find you, what they are looking for and what causes them to engage.

Furthermore, you can use data analysis as a core part of figuring out what is working and what is not performing in your business. If you have a dashboard of KPI’s then you can get ahead of things like:

  • Selling the right product or product mix in the right way
  • Connecting with customers before they discontinue their service
  • Position with the highest probability keywords and triggers for buyers
  • Choose a better market segment
  • Build an audience that is attracted to your sales proposition
  • Create content that connects and will be evergreen

These are strategies that don’t come with guessing. It comes with knowledge supported by testing and quantitative insights that help you bet with an informed approach.

It is hard to decipher what works. There are so many bold claims in the market and so-called experts. However, your business is full of information that flows in and out.

What if you became predictive in your selling approach?

What if you are doing the wrong things from a lack of data and insights? Want to change it?

The Unapparent Hidden Things

If you look carefully, or care for that matter, then you can see the diamond in the rough. Those are the people that matter a thousand times more than others and have special qualities to help you or support you.

The same is true for the systems that will allow you to be productive and selling. Ignore most of the hype or extra layers that you see. Stick to the winners which make a large impact.

Many times, it’s the hidden things that make the most impact. You have to look under the surface and think through the strategic side rather than simply grinding it out.

If you are pointed in the wrong direction, then a hidden truth and strategy takes time to observe, think about and commit to.

Sometimes, things are not hidden. The best answers are staring you in the face, but you have not put all the pieces together in a way that makes maximum impact. It’s unapparent, though visible.

I don’t think the hidden things are elusive. They just don’t get the attention to make an impact until you think it through. You have to value strategy more than tactics to avoid wastefully working.

Do you look for the hidden things that would bring you exponential gains?

Growth Hacking by Networking with the Business Cycle

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If you notice there’s a weekly business cycle. Try getting someone’s attention on a Monday morning and you will find unreturned calls and a frenetic pace.

Now try touching base with people on Friday mornings and you have a much more relaxed conversation on the phone.

There is a weekly cycle we are on, and if you study the moods of your network and prospective customers you will find the best timing to connect.

As you are building your business, try an additional growth hacking strategy built on natural relationship building cycles.

Block out 2-4 times in your calendar that make sense to make phone calls, catch up or start new relationships.

Share your ideas for how to build someone’s businesses. And most importantly, don’t create work for people. Create value instead.

To do that, you have to think insightfully about what is important to them. And that is different for each and every person.

Your networking can be compressed and focused if you apportion specific times and stay organized and disciplined about when it makes sense to reach out to people.

I like to help principals, owners and executives get a natural growth hacking boost by setting up their workflow with a few tweaks they may not see:

  1. Organize and clean up their address books. Using Google Contacts is easy and fast. Ensure it syncs up with their iPhone or Android cleanly as well.
  2. Pick 10 people to touch and set them apart using a category or the Star function.
  3. Schedule 2-4 times weekly to network.
  4. Send emails that add value within those time blocks
  5. Set up calls for the following week or the current week depending on how you connected.

Now, I don’t believe in wasting people’s time. So you have to use your own time to share content that helps or ideas that build revenue or efficiency.

This is something that will cost you in intention and focus. But you can also save all the grief from being inefficient and untimely in your approach.

What do you think of adding a bit of organization to your own workflow and create a long-term networking strategy?

Selling By Being Organized

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Most people can’t manage everything coming at them.

IBM used to train their salespeople with the BANT method:

Budget

Authority

Need

Timing

It’s still an excellent framework to ensure you are selling to people that can say, “Yes!”

However, that last item, “timing,” is a big variable today. We work within much more chaos and the vast majority of businesspeople are disorganized. Their inboxes are flowing with thousands of emails. They may or may not respond to texts or voicemails.

Most people are better at reacting than leading. The FIFO – first in, first out – approach is the typical behavior to people who are buried under a mountain of open loops, information and options.

So, try this selling strategy. It’s easier than trying to change the world:

  1. Observe a day of the week when people seem to be paying attention.
  2. Schedule in your follow-up activities within your calendar those optimal times.
  3. Ping people via email and texts during these times.
  4. Call on your next ideal follow-up times.
  5. Keep observing the best timing that makes sense.

Showing up at the right times with frequency is tactical, for sure. But it’s the way of the world.

It may be a long while before we have efficient, productive people. The greater outcome may be that those that can’t respond or act with decisiveness will likely fall out of play in the new economy.

In the mean time, it’s better to get deals done by appreciating that fact that the vast majority accepts being in chaos and respond best when you are the squeaky wheel at the right time.

What timing do you use in your sales follow-up?