Dealmaking Is Slow then Fast

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I love dealmaking. I agree with Robert Ringer’s observation about dealmaking:

“There are no statistics to prove it, but after years of experience, I’m absolutely convinced that dealmaking is the highest-paid profession in the world.”

I think the creative pieces and bringing ambiguous, and often disparate parties and value together, is exhilarating. Great deals help everyone to win and get what they want.

Designing those deals requires insight and many cycles to drive a win and agreement. It’s why I often tell business partners that dealmaking is about going slow. Then fast.

The slow part of deal making is the art of the deal. Building rapport and relationships. Establishing trust. Putting the ideas forth that might take root. These are the building blocks that go faster with established relationships and much activity, but in the beginning of new ventures and relationships, they are slow to put forth and germinate. Often times, you have to push hard.

Fortunately, deals are everywhere. They need leadership, vision and management to develop. If you sell a known product, then your dealmaking has a lot of the components already set up.

If you have a custom, creative dealmaking offering, then there is a lot of time collaborating, designing and creating something from nothing.

I think that one of the best strategies is to be ready. Mise en Place. Anticipate that new conversations, opportunities, relationships and timing will come in the next weeks and months. Being ready by doing your homework, studying, gathering insights, having fast, efficient systems, and getting smarter are required to support the slow part.

If you have done the work then the fast part tends to take care of itself. The convergence of the details, negotiating, having solid agreements and delivering value transitions the dealmaking over to keeping your commitments.

You can always get better at the fast part. The slow part is where the payoff is if you pay attention to your approach, preparation and cadence. Where can you improve?

The Only Answer is Repetition

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At some point, there’s nothing more to change or create. You know what to do and only dogged determination and repetition with accountability will work. This is the part of scaling that moves the ball inches at a time and is quite painful.

Repeating what everyone has agreed to can seem tedious, but it is critical. Articulating your core values until everyone buys in is indispensable. Reviewing what steps need to be taken to make customers happy cannot be compromised. These rituals are relentless and are daily mantras that are part of execution.

Repetition is an age-old habit that gets groups moving in the same direction. While I wish that people could simply download instructions once and execute perfectly thereafter, that is not the case when it comes to scaling. You have to say what you want many times and do it repeatedly until a task, process or habit sticks.

Our temptation is to go back to what we know or did before. Growing is hard and we resist it because our old embedded habits have a grip on us.

The new tasks or habits are there for the taking. We are not necessarily fighting an information misunderstanding. We are fighting ourselves. We have anchors that have been established and something new is a disruptor.

If you are in the business of growing, you undoubtedly will run into the reality of execution. You have to do what you have agreed upon is the new way. And that kind of implementation will come down to saying it and doing it over and over until you see what needs to happen materialize consistently and become the new normal.

What are you trying to execute repeatedly?

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?

You Have All You Need to Start Something

We live in an unprecedented time in history. It used to be hard to start something. You needed infrastructure, people, permission, etc. That was how the industrial economy worked. The mass forced us to push with enough weight of force behind us.

But now, you can put the pieces together yourself. The only thing limiting you is your ideas and your hard work.

Oh, and you have to be ok with failure. Embracing failure means you like learning. That is how we learn when there are a massive amount of unknowns.

But, you can always get started and test.

Need talent? Get on upwork.com and hire a freelancer.

Need funding? Put an ad out on kickstarter.com.

Need systems? Find a cloud computing solution and start a low-cost subscription.

Need to know how to build a business and make money? Call me!

I doubt there is much stopping you from doubling your income or changing the world. The obstacles and costs have been ridiculously lowered and you have access to what you need.

But the scarcity is still around leadership to make it happen. You have to make that part of your modus operandi.

The world is moving at a relentless pace as you see people squeezed out of the middle class, middle management and middle thinking. It’s because everyone can compete now. And they are.

Take some time to think about how you can make a person happy. Think what you could do. Think about a plan to put the pieces together to make them happy. Then find another person. Refine your process.

If you do it enough times and see feedback from the world, you can scale and build on your innovation. But it does start with the desire and leadership to put all the pieces together and make what’s in your head and heart play out in reality.

What’s holding you back?

 

Build Change Into Your Workday

I try to mix things up and change the routes I drive, places I work, people I meet and even houses I live in. Constantly experimenting and finding what is possible or what may work keeps a certain freshness to how I can approach work or do deals.

There’s a lot of value in having habits. I don’t necessarily want to rethink how to make my bed or do laundry or keep my house in order. Being efficient and turning off my brain and letting my habits simply guide me has its own rewards.

But in business, I always want to be pushing on my creativity. I think it’s easy to get stuck and being solely functional. The bigger opportunities get missed this way. And it’s easy to happen if I glue myself to an office or a crowd of people or seeing the same ideas over and over.

While I was out hiking at the end of my workday, I was thinking about how I wandered around Breckenridge, CO where we are living for a bit and worked in 4 different places today. I had many conversations – some sitting and others with headphones and walking miles around the area.

I was getting to know people, hash out ideas and explore deals to see how they might work for me and other people.

A lot of my business coaching works becomes about productivity and getting things done. That’s a convergent approach to work.

Moving and changing the form factor continually helps me diverge. I can think broader and take in inspiration as well as imagine solutions and opportunities. It’s really great to have that kind of flexibility and flow in a work day. When I get clarity on what’s possible, it’s easy for me to drive on making ideas happen.

Changing up how you work lends itself to staying fresh by continually experimenting.

What if you changed things up more? Can you mix it up more to keep yourself fresh?

Meet New People Every Day

It is intriguing when you meet a new person, hear their backstory and discover how they contribute. At the end of the day, business is people. Life is people.

We can get so wrapped up in our work and routines that we limit ourselves by not experiencing what is new. Your next opportunities, enjoyments and horizons can be greatly expanded if you incorporate intentionality and process for yourself. Here are a few tips as you think about your own routines:

  • Put yourself out there first. Let the world know what you are about and what you are going after. Put that message out on your blog, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Invite engagement.
  • Approach people based on interest. Our families, hobbies and pursuits align us instantly with something in common. Start a conversation by social media, email or in-person. Find what is similar. Great game to play and discover. You will have something for every person you meet. With some people it is evident. With others, you may have to dig.
  • Play. I like to play tennis, hike, run, snowboard and play basketball. I have done this with new friends and met new people along the way. So many new worlds have opened up because I invite people to play or hang out. If all you do is work, you miss out on the fun where people are enjoying life.
  • Find a way to help. People are not static. Their lives have some kind of next need or next step. Usually it involves their money, their kids or their health. If you pay attention, you can introduce them to someone you know that can help or share some information. Or you can simply be with them emotionally through struggle. You have to choose to get involved. It’s wonderful if you can take time and be human by caring enough.

We are around people all the time. But we can miss opportunities to make something happen. It’s people that make things happen. And it is part of our work if we want to grow personally and in our businesses.

Have you met someone by simply being intentional?

There Is No Magic Pill

Looking for that perfect pill is elusive and deceptive.

If there were a magic pill for getting more business, someone would have found it, shared it and everyone would be taking it. The truth is that there is no magic pill. Getting new customers is hard work and a continual moving target. You might be tempted to enlist the gimmicks of SEO companies or social media spammers. It’s not worth it. Gimmicks have costs eventually.

Just recently, there was an outcry with the Google search engine algorithm change with Google Panda. The sites out there that were low in quality and merely focused on backlinking to artificially manipulate search rankings were filtered out. Those sites intent on providing value and substance rose in prominence. The gimmicks were completely sidelined.

Do The Real Work

The truth is that you do not create something and it just works to get found, convert leads and increase revenue. It is a continual process of refinement, management and hard work. To separate yourself in a world of noise and reach your audience, there is continual, relentless work that has to be done regularly. Here are some of the continuous activities:

  • Creating valuable content. Your content has to connect and become increasingly relevant. People are searching for answers. You must become that trusted and accessible resource to get found.
  • Implementing systems. Your process flow and systems for how a buyer experiences your brand and moves through an integrated experience has to be continually refined. The touchpoints, offers and timing need to be engineered with precision.
  • Analyzing data. Seeing what works and what does not has to come from specific, real-time metrics that reveal how you are found and what people do on your systems. There is a feedback loop that needs to manage your next campaigns. The work never ends.
  • Connecting with your audience. What happened a week ago becomes increasingly irrelevant. We live in a real-time world. Your audience’s attention is on the present. You have to continually connect with what matters to them and helps them to achieve continual success.

Process and continuous improvement is the focus of organizations that stand out and connect. If you are a mere static picture in today’s dynamic world, then the traffic and engagement your competitors who pay the true price of continual engagement will be costly.

Stop looking for a magic pill and do the work or hire a team that gets it done over the long term. There are no shortcuts.

 

3 Inbound Marketing Customer Experience Strategies

We often think that the customer experience commences when we are servicing a person. How they are handled at the cash register, try our products out or serviced for needs tends to draw our focus to provide caring service. Much of the last decade emphasized this kind of personal attention.

With the accessibility of information far and wide on the internet via search engines and social media, the customer experience starts far before any up close contact with your company. How you talk, contribute and are talked about creates a persona that draws attraction or distaste for those looking for information to meet a real or felt need.

The customer experience you create with complete strangers sets the tone for how newcomers to your brand will feel about you. There are a few components that should be part of your inbound marketing strategy that can create a continuum as a stranger moves from indifference to intimacy:

  • Knowledge sharing. Buyers don’t spend as much time as you thinking about your industry. Start at a rudimentary level and provide knowledge that orients newcomers to what they should know. Frame what a new buyer should be thinking about to make an intelligible decision about what you offer. Be a resource and you earn further trust to being consulted.
  • Create conversation. Be a catalyst for thought and provoke conversations around topics. This can be done on various social media platforms, forums and on your corporate blog. Fostering thought and helping dialogue positions you as a leader in your space. Be sure you know what you are talking about and share it with the world.
  • Relevant connections. Ensure that a link, pay-per-click ad or comment on a site links to a relevant landing page. Generic pages break a thought process. Building congruent process is extra work but it is worthwhile. It creates a customer experience that is whole and connected. Connecting via links and calls to action in a logical path increases your opportunity to eventually engage.

We like to think about the customer experience up close and personal. With buyers able to check us out or discover us from far away and impersonally now, your brand needs to be aligned and managed.

What do you think? How can you make the customer experience broader and more strategic?

Before The Sales Process Begins

The sales process is visual and attractive to manage. It feels like a higher level of control. It is showtime. We are with the prospective customer and get to display our salesmanship. A process helps make this more predictable and fruitful. Otherwise it is random and opportunities are lost.

However, if there is overemphasis on wooing and winning customers based on a salesperson’s tactics, then your process starts with little or no trust. Trust is the lubricant which makes selling a formality for those that work hard before the sales process begins.

Inbound Marketing Starts The Buying Process

Before you ever engage in selling, your customer is buying. They are searching, scanning and learning. They want to feel educated, empowered and comfortable before having a sales discussion. It is the buying process. They are persuading themselves and figuring out what they want.

Here is where you can be of immense value, not necessarily personally, but by offering your expertise. You have what is known as the curse of knowledge. You spend so much time thinking about your product, service, industry and technicalities that you forget that it is foreign for a newcomer to your space. Yet, your knowledge is extremely valuable.

In the buying process, you can help your buyer get what they want:

  • Education. Packaging your knowledge in myriad forms of content – audio, video, written – should be easily found and easily accessed. Distribute this in a way that helps a person ask smart questions and feel like a peer when they do decide to engage in the sales process.
  • Empowerment. Your buyer needs a framework for making a decision and a way to evaluate what you offer. This helps them feel in control in their decision. Provide such empowerment by helping them ask the right questions and understand your market, competition and even jargon. It may feel awkward if you are not used to doing this, but it will build trust as you are transparent and broaden the discussion to helping them see how a choice is made in context rather than in a one-sided fashion.
  • Comfort. Helping your buyer feel competent and confident is important in a strange area. Think about how you feel when the mechanic is overwhelming you. It can cause you to shut down and withdraw. Invite the buyer into the discussion. Help them feel comfortable so that the sales discussion is a conversation rather than a lecture.

If your buying process is set up well in the inbound marketing system and process, then selling becomes much easier. You can tell because the buyer is ready and conversant with you. Trust is present.

Since information is democratized, why not be the leader in providing the right information at the right time before the selling begins?

What could such a process mean for your selling?

3 Important Ingredients For Salesforce Adoption

Our Salesforce.com consulting work with teams continually reveals more challenge in the adoption of a well-designed system than in the actual customization of the system.  Aligning people who have become accustomed to their way of doing things with disparate tools or ad hoc methods requires a focus on the art of change management.  Here are three pieces to the puzzle for success which must be part of your adoption strategy.

Identify A Strong Internal Champion

By nature, insiders have more vested in the outcomes of a new system than outsiders.  Furthermore, there are numerous cultural issues which every organization has.  Culture is the glue which allows for getting things done in a complex environment.  It is a great asset.

You must have a strong champion that aligns with the organization and knows how to influence for change.  Furthermore, the champion is the one that must master Salesforce.com with the processes built into the organization’s implementation.  They have to be technical and business minded to overcome objections and communicate benefits.  Their guidance becomes important for how fast and how much to change during the course of training, support and requirements gathering.

Develop A Mantra Which Sticks

Mantras are powerful shorthand for focusing action.  A mantra sticks in the minds of people.  Instructions and authoritarian policies on the other hand create resistance and do not connect emotionally.

Our mantra with users is, “If it’s not in Salesforce.com, it did not happen!”  Salesforce.com is not a magic bullet in and of itself to solve business process issues.  It is the culture and habits of the team using Salesforce.com.  Thus, capturing every task, communication and field item creates the inherent value to the organization.  Without commitment to the system, it becomes nothing more than a glorified database.    Ensure your organization has a mantra which can be stated between people at meetings and at the water cooler easily.  It helps drive enthusiasm and adoption.

Create A Support Outlet

There should be a framework for how a business process is executed in the Salesforce.com implementation and customization.  However, there are always specific scenarios that need answers quickly and precisely for users.  Forward momentum needs to be maintained and a great way to do this is to provide a responsive support process.  This can be done with FAQ’s via a wiki, Salesforce.com Case management, or a variety of integrated tools which help to build a knowledge base.

Over time, facilitate knowledge sharing by pointing users continually to this resource and have them self-moderate.  This helps the organization to own the system they are vested in.

Salesforce.com Adoption Is A Challenging Road

We are creatures of habit.  If a person is determined not to change, there is little any person can do to thwart such a strong position of resistance.  Users want to have easier ways of doing things.  A well-designed system should provide the context for work to get done faster and more productively.  The adoption phase should focus on helping with the emotional resistance to change.  Strong leadership, a focused mantra and responsive support are three ingredients to drive success.

If you would like to learn more about what I am talking about, check out how I consult with organizations on Salesforce.com.

Feel free to comment on areas you have seen in change management and how you have seen these in action below.