Pick Two Types of Service

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The temptation for businesses, especially after they have success, is to overreach. You have the choice of price, quality and service as your focal points in the marketplace. But you can only have two. We are tempted to be all three. But we live in a world of natural trade-offs.

Part of being in business is knowing what you are committed to and will deliver to your customers. You can go broke fast when you muddy the water with perfectionism.

If you are good and fast, but not cheap, then expect to turn away prospective customers that are not a match. It’s not a fit for what you are about. You can wait patiently for the people that will come your way that want what you are offering.

If you are in the business of being fast and cheap, keep that habit, message and approach day in and day out. There are plenty of people that are looking for your offering and can live without good. It’s good enough.

I know restaurant owners that own two types of restaurants. One is fast and cheap. They have a steady flow of traffic. It’s a volume game.

The other restaurant looks nothing like the first. It is fast and good.

They don’t comingle the two concepts. They are different businesses with different patrons.

Perhaps you want to get bigger after you see successes. How about focusing on leaning in further to your success and be better instead. Deeper focus and commitment to the two service items that make you who you are will go a long way towards growing your business.

What two are you? How can you get clearer and more committed?

Book Review: Sam Wyly’s 1,000 Dollars & An Idea

Sam Wyly 1000 Dollars & An Idea

Sam Wyly is a peer of Ross Perot and has had a series of entrepreneurial ventures. He has lived a full life and was compelled to share his journey in his autobiography.

There is a scene towards the end of his book, 1,000 Dollars And An Idea that is inspiring.  Late in life, he has a surprise birthday celebration with the people that he had made a difference with throughout his life.  That moment was surreal and slow motion-like for him.  Would we all have the privilege of a similar moment.

It’s a great book to think about your own strategies to your life and business in light of how a highly successful entrepreneur maneuvers.  Here are four things I learned from Sam Wyly:

  1. Focus on the deal.  Many people get distracted on working harder building things that may not have consequence over time.  Sam Wyly was a deal maker.  He shares how he put seemingly impossible deals together using relationships, capital and savvy.  There’s always a deal if you can persist in bringing the pieces together.
  2. Gratitude is the greatest of all virtues.  His story pieces together the cumulative impact of the people that made a difference in his life from his high school coach to his parents to even his adversaries.  He expresses gratitude and the world reciprocates.  I enjoyed hearing about his upbringing and the trials he experienced.  They helped him become strong in character and judgment.  They also compelled him to give back.
  3. Know who you are.  Wyly wrote, “If you don’t know who you are, becoming an entrepreneur can be a very expensive way of finding out.”  He knew his talents.  He knew the talents of others and surrounded himself with gifted people.  He knew how to get to the goal with his talent augmented with the passions and abilities of others.  This helped him avoid mistakes.  It also helped him keep a healthy perspective on his own ego.  Very wise.
  4. Read.  This was a cornerstone to his success and allowed him to broaden his knowledge and opportunities.  Wyly stated, “Reading is one of the keys to success, because if you won’t admit what you don’t know, you’ll never discover what you need to know.”  He was involved in completely different ventures from computing to software to steakhouses to energy production.  Education is something that happens throughout his life, and because he kept growing, he had eyes to see opportunities and take advantage of them.

Life is short, very short.  We all have a limited amount of time and gaining such perspective that Sam Wyly provides in the pages of his memoirs is truly inspiring.  His example helps me focus on today and going after the goals I set by first getting clear and second working in my strengths.  We get there with people we invest in and that invest back in us.  These are timeless lessons on how life and business work.

Thanks, Sam, for making a difference!

I would encourage you to read the book and provide your thoughts.

Lead Scoring

Your buyer interacts with your brand and value proposition with often unseen behaviors. They click, read, examine, search and react to your message.

In the past, the buyer was expected to serve themselves by coming to your website and feast on depths of information presented in a brochure fashion. Today, because of the lack of attention, the buyer wants answers quickly and easily. This information can be fed in an automated fashion based on their preferences which are developed via artful interaction with your marketing automation system.

The marketer today has the challenge of scoring all the desired behavior and weighting these scores. These scores can be kept in an augmented data file where actions or communications can occur based on trigger points.

For example, if a buyer reads a newsletter, clicks on a site and downloads a whitepaper, they could accumulate 10 points for the newsletter, 15 points for the click and 25 points for the whitepaper. If your marketing automation campaign is set up correctly, a special offer could be sent when the buyer’s profile reaches 50 points. In this case, the condition is met.

Numerous conditions can be set and tracked based on the rules and workflow of the marketing automation system. Human beings in sales roles have to assess such body language qualitatively. Your marketing automation system can be set up for perfect consistency and follow-up based on the refined rules your organization learns and implements.

In the concept of Lead Scoring, it takes talent to architect effective campaigns that interact with the buyer at the right time with the right value. The strategy of building and growing a buyer’s lead score drives more qualified leads for revenue opportunities.

Business Insanity

With a new year upon us, it is a natural time to reflect on the year in review and look ahead to the prospects of a new year.  We live in an unprecedented and exciting era of change.  As we, at AscendWorks, reflect on our perspective of business and the new economy, here are some observations we have made:

  1. Mindsets Are Everything: There are two prevailing mindsets we see.  The growth mindset and the fixed mindset.  The old economy played to the fixed mindset types of workers.  Keep the status quo, build organizational structures and refine.  It is not so today.  The only true mindset which prevails is the growth mindset.  It is the attribute of people who are on a continual journey of learning.  Technology is now a commodity.  The main factor now is utilizing talent and knowing how to put the ingredients for success together.  Talent comes from people who have a growth mindset.  Everyone else is pretending and scared.  They are in the wake of the talented people making new rules and new pathways.
  2. Iteration Trumps Perfection: The new generation of entrepreneurs and knowledge workers grew up thinking in terms of options.  Generation Y does not use manuals.  They pick up a new cell phone and start figuring it out.  They can do that with any technology.  It is because their brains are trained on failing fast rather than getting it right and being perfect.  Getting perfect takes too long and is impractical.  It is required in fields for precision, but less important where results and movement are critical. Today, you can build new marketing approaches, strategies and systems quickly.  If it does not resonate, you can tear it down and build a new one.  It is an art form.  Knowledge workers are equipped to be artists rather than technicians today.
  3. There Is No Secret Sauce: It is amazing how much money people will throw at gimmicks which promise to be the thing that works for their business and life.  The lure is the illusion of some well of prosperity; many think “if a new technology is bought, many new customers will buy.”  I always challenge customers to think, “If there was a secret sauce, wouldn’t everyone be using it?”  If it did exist, then others would find it and copy.  The truth is that there is a big difference between 90% and 99%.  If you drive a finely tuned sports car compared to a practical sedan, there is an entirely different driving experience and value between the two.  Sports cars are built with 99% precision.  Sedans get you transportation.  To win in the new economy requires sweat equity and savvy thinking.  Most people can get 90% of the answer.  Very few will pay the price to discover the 99% answer.
  4. Winners Are Few, Whiners Are Plenty: Everyone has access to the same tools and technology.  There is an overwhelming amount of technology coming online every year.  It is easier to create it today than it was ten years ago.  What runs your business or changes with it next year takes foresight, leveraged thinking and know-how.  The difference lies in the talent you hire or tolerate.  Everyone is not talented.  Winners solve problems.  Whiners lament at problems.  Winners seek to deliver value.  Whiners seek to just keep their job.  Your business will thrive or struggle based on the talent you align yourselves with.  Poor talent with world-class technology will produce a poor and costly result.  The eight ball is talent, not technology.

As a new year approaches, think through how you are growing your business and skills.  If you work hard at ineffective or outdated methods, you are merely busy, not productive.  To be strategic today requires agile and bold thinking.  Everyone’s market is being affected by the incessant tides of speed, technology and culture acting upon us as buyers and sellers.

Who you align with is more important than what tool you pick.  Having a mindset committed to continual refinement, iteration and failure is necessary to winning in the new economy.  Your success largely lies in your ability or inability to see the game being played today.

We wish you much success in this coming year as you commit to being a player in the game.