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November 2010

Thoughts for Thanksgiving: Meaning over Money

We live in a complex world.

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We tend to drift in a relentless flood of technological progress.

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While we benefit from a great wealth of information, we find more poverty of attention.

We find less time to think and enjoy the simple pleasures, like…

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…the wonderful colors of autumn,

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…the soft light of the morning sun,

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…the warmth of a blazing fire.

While technology accelerates our lives, we need to attempt to slow time…

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and sit still to enjoy nature, so we can let our thoughts wander…

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…and our imagination soar,

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…so we can cultivate new ideas…

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…and let them age like fine wine.

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Thanksgiving is the time to remember that there are two philosophies that can govern our lives:

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The first is the philosophy of more.

Some people like to count their possessions and money while dreaming of getting more.  When they reach $1 million, they want to get to $10 million. And when they reach $10 million, they begin to push for $100 million. After they reach $100 million, they want to shoot for $1 billion. The philosophy of more leads people to a blind chase; they work at a frenzied pace, forgetting who they are while being obsessed with counting, adding, and accumulating. The philosophy of more is identical to the cancer cell that grows and grows and grows until it kills the organism it inhabits.  

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The second philosophy is the philosophy of enough.

People who understand what enough is in terms of money, possessions, and success are able to set boundaries, and they choose quality of life over quantity of money. Boundaries come from knowing ourselves. People without boundaries are often clueless as to what they really want and who they really are. The philosophy of more is driven by money; the philosophy of enough is created by meaning. B.C. Forbes, the founder of Forbes magazine, said it best: “The business of life is not business, but living.”

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Zig Ziglar once said that money can buy you the best mattress in the world, but it can’t buy you a good night’s sleep. This Thanksgiving, let’s consider the philosophy of enough by defining the boundaries that will allow us greater freedom.

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Boundaries help us bloom where we are planted.

 


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Will the Internet Kill Authority as We Know It?

The word authority comes from the Latin root augere (augment), from which the noun auctoritas (authority) is derived. Romans used it to convey command, power, and influence. Religion exercises authority through commandments, the military communicates authority through orders, and managers like to define authority by acting officially. While the source of authority is hereditary in kingdoms and legal in the military, society also recognizes learned authority (distinguished university professors, for example, or Nobel Prize recipients) and charismatic authority (highly talented people).

Every culture is governed by a different matrix of authority.

For instance, in Singapore, authority is obsessed with keeping the city clean and the citizens in compliance with the law. In Cuba, authority flows from Fidel Castro down to the citizens. In Tibet, spiritual authority flourishes. The Dalai Lama recently recognized the authority of a six-year old girl as the reincarnation of a Hindu goddess.

Austrian-flag I grew up in Austria, and I remember that the older generation revered the all-powerful authority, Emperor Franz Josef (Austria was a monarchy until 1918). When I was growing up, I felt that the Catholic church had the most authority. I recall looking at my first paycheck and being surprised that the state deducted a “church tax” from my income. The authority matrix included the government and academia. To this day in Austria, a doctor is an authority figure who is rarely questioned by common folks. In social circles, the status of a woman who marries a doctor is automatically elevated, since she is called “Frau Doktor.” 

French-flag In France, authority was transferred after the French Revolution (1789) from the King’s crown to the masses, and society became the source of authority. I remember how I felt when I moved from a small city in Austria to Paris. It felt like coming home. I already spoke French, had visited Paris many times before, and loved French food. The authority matrix felt similar to the one I was exposed to in Austria. It felt like an upgrade from coach to business class because of haute cuisine.

Us-flag I didn’t have the same experience coming to the United States. On a business level, it felt like an upgrade to first class. I loved American management methods; I found the free-enterprise system liberating and enjoyed the fast-paced, highly competitive world of business. On a personal level, I felt confused. I came to this country at a time when the Watergate hearings dominated the headlines. I could not think of a country in Europe where senators would question government officials about the conduct of a president who declared in public, “I am not a crook.”

US Citizens Bestow Authority

As I grew more familiar with American customs and prepared to become a US citizen, I became curious about America’s authority matrix. I soon realized that the American Revolution was a radical departure from the idea that authority descends from superiors to inferiors. I was in awe of the concept that authority can rise from citizens to political leaders. I treasured the idea that citizens are in charge of the government, and I loved the fact that ordinary people could hold their leaders accountable. The demand for accountability isn’t limited to politics in the United States. I was pleasantly surprised by howthe relationships between professionals (doctors, lawyers, consultants, etc.) and their clients were governed by the willingness to question the authority of the professional at any time. 

While the French still revere the well-educated elite, Americans celebrate individuality, even when the individual makes a complete fool of himself. I still remember when John Riggins, a former Washington Redskins player, attended a festive event and leaned over to his seat mate, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and said, “Loosen up, Sandy baby,” before passing out under the table. Twenty-five years later, Riggins bragged about the incident: “We’re linked together for life, which is good for me but not so good for her.”

It seems that over time the Internet is reshaping the authority matrix, not only in the United States, but all over the world. President Obama’s campaign utilized social media and gave his candidacy greater leverage. YouTube brought charismatic authority to the Obama girl by attracting more than 20 million lusty eyeballs.

Students Get the Authority to Grade Teachers

In the past, teachers were authority figures who graded the students. Today, the Internet gives students the power to rate their professors (check out www.ratemyprofessors.com). See two examples below:

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It’s clear that society is transferring a great deal of authority to the Internet. Google is a search authority, Wikipedia is an encyclopedic authority. Internet sites give anyone the chance to rate his or her doctor or lawyer (www.avvo.com). The public is beginning to trust the collective ratings system. Sites such as Yelp.com or Zagat.com rate restaurants, and a site called Alexa.com ranks Website traffic.

It appears that the Internet has created a new collective order that is slowly pushing aside the traditional authority matrix while replacing it with social metrics.

The Internet Measures the Crowd’s Authoritative Sentiments

Internet sites are grading people like you and me – whether you know it or want it. Klout.com has educated me about my own authority based on my Twitter and Facebook postings. Here is my Klout summary, fresh and updated today:

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How much can we trust Klout.com? I am still having a hard time believing my score, since I just looked up Barack Obama’s score, and according to this authoritative site I am five points ahead of the president of the United States! (I’d be happy to give him my points in exchange for making good on his promise to fix the economy.)

The Internet has become the great equalizer that allows society to shine the spotlight on leaders based on their contributions to the crowd. The crowd is listening, and traditional authority is in the hot seat. In the Internet world, fresh authority is minted through social-networking channels, and it is bestowed through ratings, comments, and email forwarding. Traditional authority is forced to open its kimono, practice transparency, and be more accountable. I predict that thought leadership will give way to conversation leadership. We are all longing for better conversations about the ideas that matter most. In the end, our authority will depend on the quality of the ideas we diligently cocreate, intelligently apply, and passionately share for the benefit of society.

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How Social-Networking Strategies Transform Sales Practices

Blog-seley Blog-sales20 Today’s guest blog was written by Anneke Seley, author of Sales 2.0 (amazon). Last week, she conducted a highly rated session on social-networking strategies at the Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference in San Francisco.  

If attendance at the Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference is any indication that Sales 2.0 has struck a chord with today’s sales and marketing professionals, last week’s event in San Francisco proved that companies are indeed looking for ways to improve the way they market and sell to today’s customers. More than 500 strong met to hear keynote presentations and panel discussions that included more than 40 sales and marketing leaders. But if Sales 2.0 is a more effective and efficient way of selling for both the buyer and the seller, enabled through technology (my simplified definition), what is the impact of Sales 2.0 on our customers’ businesses?  How are their experiences with us improving, and how is that translating to improved results?

That’s why I kicked off my highly interactive presentation (“Social Media That Generates Qualified Leads and Revenue”) with a description of Customer 2.0, a new kind of buyer who, according to Sirius Decisions, spends 70 percent of the buying process online before ever speaking to a sales person.

See  video of Anneke speaking at Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference, November 2010 (thanks to Barbra Gago!)

At the conference, I told the story of my LinkedIn connection with Justin Davison, an IT manager outside of Pittsburgh whom I’ve never met but with whom I’ve had numerous thought-provoking online conversations.  Justin, emblematic of many of today’s buyers, felt so strongly about letting us salespeople know that we must change our ways in order to succeed that he posted “Moving Beyond Cold Calling – An Open Letter to Vendors” on Spiceworks, his community of choice.

In Justin’s words:

“My time is limited but my workload is not.”

“Unprepared salespeople impair my focus and productivity.”

“In the world of social media, I am not secretive about the projects I am working on.”

Customers like Justin make it easier for us to be effective and useful salespeople who don’t waste buyers’ time trying to sell them something that’s not relevant.  We can read their personal and company blogs and Twitter streams to find out what they are thinking about and what’s going on in their business and industry. We can check out their connections, work histories, and slide presentations on LinkedIn. We can discover their friends and hobbies on Facebook. And we can view their personal and company videos on YouTube.

But even if your customers haven’t chosen to share details of their personal and work lives on social media, there are still ways to make selling and buying more effective for them.  With business-intelligence products like those promoted at the show (InsideView, iSell, and FirstRain), we can capture deep, consolidated company and industry information and thereby identify prospects most likely to benefit from our offerings. With marketing-automation products  (e.g., Marketo, Eloqua, and those integrated into CRMs, like Oracle CRM On Demand), we can detect which Web pages our clients and prospects linger on, as well as the content they download. This information gives us hints about what work challenges they may be facing. Armed with this information, we can tailor our conversations accordingly and help our customers solve the problems they face – rather than pitch them on a generic solution.

Sales 2.0 helps customers be more efficient, too. By providing robust and valuable information online and sales and product expertise by phone, we respect the buyer’s time.  With scheduling-automation products like TimeTrade, we can significantly curtail the process of finding mutually available time on everyone’s calendars – which can be time consuming and exasperating for our customers, as well as our salespeople.

Justin Davison lists the top-priority projects he is working on in his online profile. Gerhard Gschwandtner, the producer of the Sales 2.0 conferences and creator of the Selling Power media empire, predicts that the day will come when our prospects enter their own opportunities into our CRM (customer relationship management) applications – the ultimate acceleration and alignment of the buying and selling process. 

How is your Sales 2.0 approach helping your customers – and making them more effective and efficient?

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Sales and Marketing Progress Begins by Asking Better Questions

Werner Heisenberg once said, “Nature does not reveal its secrets; it only responds to our method of questioning.”

But Tony Robbins put it bluntly: “If we continue to ask the same old questions, we end up getting the same old answers, which prevent us from improving.”

If you are a sales and marketing leader who wants to achieve better results, here is a quick reality check. Scan the 15 “old” questions below, and consider replacing them with new ones you may want to ask yourself (or your team members) so you can get to richer information – which will lead you to better decisions and greater revenues:

1. Old: What does your sales funnel look like? New: How does our company generate demand?

2. Old: What percentage of leads turns into sales? New: What are our conversion metrics by lead source?

3. Old: How many leads does marketing generate each month? New: What percentage of revenue is generated by marketing?

4. Old: How can salespeople make more calls? New: How do we prioritize and nurture sales leads? How many marketing-generated opportunities does the sales team close?

5. Old: How long is the average sales cycle? New: How do we measure our revenue cycle from first speaking with a prospect, to turning that meeting into an opportunity, to closing?

6. Old: How can we improve productivity? New: How can we accelerate the deals in our pipeline by customer category?

7. Old: What’s the ROI per salesperson? New: How can we calibrate our sales and marketing metrics so we can achieve ongoing improvement quarter over quarter?

8. Old: How do our sales compare to our competition’s? New: How does our Website compare to our competitor’s? How does our competitor generate proposals and quotes? How does our competitor interact with prospects? What social-media strategy did they implement?

9. Old: How can we get marketing to generate better leads for the sales team? New: What obstacles do we need to remove so that we can truly align sales with marketing?

10. Old: How can marketing and sales work closer together? New: How can we get sales and marketing to agree on what a lead is? How can we create a culture of measurement in which we measure the velocity of all prospects across all stages? How can we integrate and align marketing strategies and tactics with sales strategies and tactics?

11. Old: How do we get people to change? New: How can we collaborate to improve business results across all processes?

12. Old: How can we train our people and make the training stick? New: How can we create a coaching and mentoring program that helps our people grow and create more value for our customers?

13. Old: How can we improve management reporting? New: How can we get managers to spend more time with their reps and customers? How can we get marketing to learn from salespeople and customers?

14. Old: How can we increase the consistency of our sales process? New: How can we engage our customers so that they’ll share their buying processes and we can, in turn, adjust our sales process and create a better customer experience?

15. Old: How can we create sales incentives that increase sales and profits? New: How can we align the rewards with the right behaviors that lead to greater revenues?

UPDATE: If you want to be part of the future of sales and marketing, register to join me at the Sales 2.0 Conference, March 7-8, in San Francisco.

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The Kingdom of Success

A parable about a powerful king and his keys to success

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Once upon a time, a king lived in a beautiful castle surrounded by wealth and beauty that he thought would last forever. Yet one day, a herald reported that three knights had entered his kingdom and were taking over markets, shrinking the king’s revenues, and spreading gloom among the king’s knights throughout the land. The king was alarmed and asked his treasurer for their names and what special weapons they possessed.

His treasurer replied, "The first is the Red Knight. His weapon is knowledge. The second is the Orange Knight, whose weapon is skill. The third is the Green Knight, whose weapon is motivation."

Wondering how to fight these three knights, the king summoned his blacksmith and charged him with creating longer and sharper swords for his own knights to fight off the dangerous trio.

"Sire," said the blacksmith, "instead of asking your knights to live by the sword, why don't you lead them to the cutting edge?" This was an unusual request, and the king was puzzled. “How do you mean?” the king inquired. 

"I beg you to look at your P&L statement," the blacksmith explained. "It is nothing more than the sum total of your people's knowledge, skills, and motivation. Consider the Red Knight. He knows more, and he has access to more knowledge, and that is why he makes your knights look obsolete in the marketplace."

The king shook his head while the blacksmith continued: "Before you can replenish your treasure chests, you must replenish your knights' well of knowledge. They must understand their customers better, know their markets better, and think proactively and productively about every phase of their work. If their knowledge is not relevant, they will be shown the door.”

The King stroked his beard and asked, "What about the Orange Knight who defeats our knights?" The blacksmith said, "When the king's knights go forth into the marketplace, do they know how the people want to be sold? Do they use the best playbooks with the best messages and techniques for identifying customer problems and cocreating the best solutions that impact their customer’s business?” The king's face turned red. He knew that he had to lead his knights to the cutting edge of professionalism.

"What about the Green Knight?" asked the king. "I've tried to motivate my people with fresh carrots and strong sticks." The blacksmith replied, "Your Highness, the knights have grown bored with your carrots, and every time you reach for the stick, they run for cover or look for better jobs in a far away kingdom.”

Anticipating the next royal question, the blacksmith pointed to the king's bookshelf. "May I quote your own words from your book of the history of your great kingdom? ‘All motivation is self-motivation, but occasionally, you must prime the pump.' I would suggest that you talk to your knights, listen to them, inspire them, coach them, and share your vision of a more prosperous kingdom. You did it so well when you started your kingdom with nothing but an idea drawn on a napkin. Your passion moved mountains.”

The king smiled, and at that moment the blacksmith knew that he had helped the king reconnect with the power he’d invested when his kingdom existed only in his head. The king gave the blacksmith a handful of precious stones and retreated into his private quarters to consider his options.

 The king created a scroll that he had delivered to each and every knight in the kingdom. The scroll contained the 10 keys to sales success:

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The king’s scroll lead his knights back to the cutting edge, and soon his kingdom prospered once more.

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