Can you be both???
I’m not truly sure that the last many months have directly caused what I am about to write about, or if it simply magnified what was already there. You choose the cause or the reaction… but either way, this needs critical understanding and action today.
As I converse with people all over the world and from a professional perspective and a personal perspective it seems to me that we have truly driven distinct style differences in communicating and understanding.
Today I see two polar opposite positions within the way that people converse and interact. We have what I have labeled as two solid differences between groups. They are pretty firmly divided as either HIGHLY OPINIONATED or HIGHLY CURIOUS. As you stop now and examine it, I am sure that you can pretty quickly put all those that you interact with within either of those camps.
It seems that we have become pretty quick to judge, everybody, and everything. Bucketing all that we see into our own little matrix of good, bad, important, needless, etc…. And this seems to happen in a matter of moments and at a huge variety of levels and real importance.
On the other hand, I do see a group of folks that have become more open to new ideas than ever. It seems some have learned that we really don’t know much and what we know should be challenged on a regular basis for clarity of thought. Our COVID battles have shown us that the entire world CAN in fact be turned upside down and we will still manage to thrive somehow in all the resident madness. And in fact, will learn to move beyond surviving and into highly successful actions that are new AND better than ever. Who, 14 months ago would have guessed that we would stop face to face (in person) interactions with clients and we would not wither and fade away, but we would actually learn to serve them better than ever and co-create more value than ever (this is a point that our clients tell us regularly).
It is strange, a long time ago, I was asked what do I look for when I am interviewing people for our team. My response even then was… a great deal of intellectual curiosity and a natural sense of humility. If those traits are not present they will not fit into a growing and evolving organization.
Today those traits are the cornerstone on which we build great teams. The skills we can train, the attitudes must be there and they must be moldable.
FIT is first, curiosity is second, humility is third. This is the secret to finding and growing great teams.
So ask yourself….honestly.. are you more comfortable giving opinions or seeking out understanding?
It is my firm belief that we can all do more to help the world be a much better place if we were all HIGHLY CURIOUS as individuals, leaders, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, and friends to all.
SERVING endlessly, with
And it all starts with a great sense of curiosity as the catalyst.
OK, LETs ROLL!
I heard it again several times this past week. As we start to wind down a bit from mask use in the U.S. the conversation is again quickly devolving into “getting back to where we were, and what we used to do”. While I understand the sentiment, that can never happen. Actually, it’s just a matter of physics and the fact that none of us own a time machine (at least that I know of). We can never go backward. We can only go forwards. So with that as a baseline, how are we going to act? What are we going to do? The new future is up to you. We have all learned a great deal about ourselves, our teams, and our clients. We have learned how to make the best out of many things that we did not understand before. For most of us our clients now clearly tell us that they PREFER our communication style, our preparation, and our succinctness, in our new operating method.
We should listen closely to what they have to say WITHOUT the filter of “getting back to what we used to do”.
Our old standards of measuring success, revenue $$ per salesperson, never did tell the story, and it most certainly does not even come close in today’s new world. In reality, the complex sale has gotten even more complex. Not too long ago the thinking was that there were something like 6-8 people involved in every client decision. Conversations with clients now tell us that is more than 10 in nearly every case. And those 10 are diverse in location, role, and decision-making capability. Corporate concern for all things litigious has driven the consensus-making process to the max. Everyone is concerned about covering their backsides. RISK avoidance has gone from a nice thing to understand to MUST have of every part of the situations we face, at all levels.
And helping our client mitigate risk is actually the singular most valuable role that we can jointly assume with them. In the realm of the Client BIG3 (helping them grow their revenue, helping them reduce their total costs, helping them manage their risks) the management of risk has quickly risen to the top of the heap of serving our clients. Products, technologies, and services are the WHAT of our actions.. the power exists in the WHY. Understanding the client's business challenges is the ONLY way to differentiate our efforts.
Face-to-face is NOT more powerful to help us understand our clients. In fact, our use of video has repeatedly shown us that a one-on-one video call is more likely to be MORE candid and open than any time in the past when we were across the conference room table from someone. The intimacy that is provided is VERY powerful if you care enough to make it so. The ability to quickly reach out and connect with someone at every level has become a new way of life. Going backward into time-bound meetings in conference rooms will not make us better. It might make some of us happier as we kill time in airport terminals waiting for the next canceled flight and grab that quick refresher to pick us up.
So, I ask you all, please don’t hurry to go backward. Take what we have all learned and deploy it to the maximum benefit of our CLIENTS. Ask them, how they would like to be served! Then take time to…
Serve endlessly, with
OK, LET’s ROLL!
A good friend of mine, Brian “Iron Ed” Hiner, Navy Seal Lieutenant Commander (Retired) has just released his latest book. Many of us know Ed from a few days of leadership training that we had with him a few years ago. Ed’s first book First, Fast, Fearless was a great intro into dealing with difficult issues effectively. His new book is GUTS… Greatness Under Tremendous Stress (A Navy Seal’s System for Turning Fear into Accomplishment). Endorsed by a bunch of great folks like authors Tony Robbins, Ken Blanchard and Mark Victor Hansen, notable figures from sports, business, education, and business (including yours truly).
There is a lot to be said about the fundamentals that Ed outlines. The best quote I find is that the book GUTS is a field manual for making things happen in our lives. GUTS is not about eliminating fear; its about using it to achieve excellence. It is a book worth studying and it is particularly valuable in addressing the world that we work in today and the environment that the electronics industry faces.
Stress in our industry and our business is at a peak. Probably not THE peak, however. The challenge that our industry and our clients face is not likely to subside in the next many months, perhaps longer. How we handle each stressful event is critical to each of us professionally and personally. Our first task in working through tough issues is to NOT personalize them or let anyone else personalize them. There are still many folks in the purchasing community around us that are deploying old PICOS tactics (google PICOS if you are not clear) to work to intimidate other people and make them feel personally guilty about “failing” to support them properly. This is simply a tactic meant to make you FEEL bad so that you will take extraordinary action to get them what they want, even if it is not really possible.
The art of deflecting personalization is in the art of “objectifying” it and not humanizing it. Kind of like you and the other party standing back and looking at the statement of the issue as it is written on white board across the room and acting in concert to handle the problem. You are in control of how all of the conversation goes and it is your choice to keep it “objectified”, non personal, and purely factual. These are not always easy things to do, I know, and many folks that we talk to are themselves overly stressed with their own challenges and they will likely truly appreciate your taking time and patience to bring things down a notch and seek out ways to help them with their challenges beyond us. That’s a big ask, and a big, challenge, and will be extremely valued by them when you accomplish it.
This is where CUSP comes into play in the ultimate way..
Taking time and effort to CARE about a client is not always easy, or appreciated. Too bad, because it is at the heart of “making a difference”. Only while engaging truly with a person do you get to UNDERSTAND them deeply. It takes effort and focus to dig deep enough to really understand deeply to be able to SERVE them well enough to make difference in a way that serves their PURPOSE.
OK, LET’s ROLL!
Going werewolf hunting?
I ran across an old term the other day that had been “reborn”. A salesperson was talking to a product person within their company and they were asking for the product person to simplify things for them and give them the one “silver bullet”. Now, that is an old term that had not been used much lately it felt like. Then I noticed that the term seemed to crop up in every sales/product conversation that I was participating in. Seems like it must have cropped up in social media somewhere and it had morphed to become the question of the day. So, what is it? Wikipedia defines silver bullet as…
In folklore, a bullet cast from silver is often one of the few weapons that are effective against a werewolf or witch. The term is also a metaphor for a simple, seemingly magical, solution to a difficult problem: for example, penicillin was a silver bullet that allowed doctors to treat and successfully cure many bacterial infections.
Now, going back a bit, I know that a silver bullet was also the calling card of the famous Lone Ranger (not sure who he is…. Check the web).
And in the early days of technology and massive technical product innovations that happened daily (then, not now), a silver bullet was the ONE THING, of a technical specification or feature that made that product truly unique and stand out from all else. When new products were introduced the marketing folks doing the intro work would often highlight the “silver bullets” that were key in each product introduction. In theory, the silver bullet was on its own so compelling that the products would sell themselves.
So, in the real world, forgive me as I burst that bubble…. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SILVER BULLET. Not in the realm known as selling at least!
There is no easy answer, there are no simple solutions that are of value, there is not ONE THING, that will differentiate what you have to offer your clients versus every other supplier of stuff in the universe.
You co-create value with the client that stems from a deep understanding of their business challenges, their own resources, their own marketplace, and their own clients. You dig deep to understand them on all levels. Only when you can achieve that “place” do you deserve to open up the conversation to solutions. No room for easy answers here. Not ONE thing! Many elements to making a difference that matters to the client and that they acknowledge.
You have to do the HARD work. Unless you simply want to peddle products and compete on price and delivery, and that’s OK too… your choice!
OK, LET’s ROLL!
Viva la CUSP!
Closing the concept of PURPOSE, we offer up some fundamental summary thoughts about what it REALLY all means. How do you make this personal? How do you serve your clients with INTENTIONAL PURPOSE? And with all things SHIFTABILITY in nature we make it actionable… something specific to go DO!
OK, LET’s ROLL… and do it with PURPOSE;
…………from the SHIFTABILITY books comes…..
Understanding and embracing our purpose will energize and direct everything we do.
Keeping anchored in your purpose is going to be essential to your success in implementing the skills we are going to talk about. It is going to help you overcome fears and obstacles, give you the courage to try new things, and keep you going when things get tough.
Our purpose lies at the heart of what motivates us.
When you ask salespeople why they have chosen this profession you will likely get a wide variety of answers. Almost always when you dig deep it is not the love of competing or greed for money that is the most compelling factor. What truly comes out is the higher-level simple love of helping people. All of the other motivations are in play, but the really big tug is the desire to help people in some way. This really does point to having a purpose and pursuing it.
Operating from a sense of purpose does require a shift in understanding. Understanding why you really do what you do, not just for income. We need to understand why the companies that we work for truly exist and the higher purpose they serve. And then seek understanding about your client’s purpose. You may even end up shifting how they think about themselves and help them see the greater purpose that they serve.