Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Check Engine!"

The "Check Engine" light came on again in my wife's car today.  Like always, I have no idea what that means... other than the fact that it will end up costing me money that I don't want to spend. 

I hate the "Check Engine" light... I fear the "Check Engine" light... but I am lucky to have it.  You can put off certain car maintenance and repairs, but when that light comes on... I know that it needs my immediate attention... or something really bad might happen.

Wouldn't it be great if we had similar warning signals for our organizations that could help us realize when immediate action is required?  If we paid closer attention, we would realize they do exist... They just are not as obvious as a flashing orange light.  Your organization requires immediate 'service' if:
  • Your opportunity pipeline is less than four times your revenue goal.
  • A significant part of your revenue is dependent on one client.
  • 80% your revenue comes from less than 20% of your sales force.
  • Your managers sell more than the teams they manage.
  • Your sales people only talk to customers who already know them.
  • You need to give discounts in order to close business.
  • You haven't trained your team in over a year.
  • Your total number of customers or members is decreasing every year.
The warning signs are all around us.  The only question is: Will you fix the problems immediately... or wait until you're stranded on the side of the road?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Attention Span

Not too many years ago, there were literally only a handful of TV stations to choose from.  The lack of choice forced us to have much longer attention spans than we do today.  Viewers happily ‘paid’ attention to a company’s message (better known as commercials) for as long as two minutes… then they were shortened to one minute… and 30 seconds… Now, some radio spots are as short as 3 seconds!  More people watch YouTube than all of the most ‘popular’ shows on TV, but the average time spent on each YouTube video is reported to be less than ten seconds. 

Whether your communication method is television, radio, internet, e-mail, snail-mail, phone or face-to-face… the world doesn’t care how ‘important’ or powerful your message is (to you)!  If you can’t capture our attention immediately and keep it, we’re off in search of something else…

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fly Proudly!

It is amazing how you can look at the exact same thing... but depending on when you see it, your perception of it can be completely different.  

An individual's or organization's message requires continuous Passion and Energy to be effective... just like a flag requires wind to 'fly proudly'.  

It is not easy... and often thankless, but it's the only way to ensure that every person (including prospective customers and members) see you at your Best.  How proudly does the flag of your brand fly?

Monday, February 16, 2009

One Step Forward... Nine Steps Back!

Coin counting machines are popping up all over the place... providing a 'valuable service' to hard-working individuals who are so busy and so rich that they can't count their own money.  I walked into my local supermarket recently to find a line 3-deep at the green machine almost blocking the store's entrance.  I wondered if the line would still be that long if I posted a sign that more accurately describe what they were actually doing.  My sign would have stated, 

"For every dollar that you put in... You only will get 91 cents back!"...

because if they read the fine print, those people might realize they were happily paying a 9% service charge.  People who work the hardest... and have the least... are giving away 9 cents for every dollar they are saving.  Shame on those companies that prosper by preying on people who need help the most.

The next time that you are ready to break open your piggy bank, get some free coin wrappers from your bank... and have a coin counting 'party' with your kids so that you can teach them how to save money... instead of throw it away.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sense of Urgency

Recently, a long line wrapped around a corner inside a Las Vegas hotel. Upon closer inspection I discovered that people were not waiting to go into a show... or a restaraunt... They were lined up to buy freshly baked donuts.

I passed by that donut shop several times over the next few days, and discovered that the only time there was a line... was when the "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign was lit. They had a product combined with a marketing tactic that created a sense of urgency in their customers.

What are you doing or saying to get your customers to buy NOW rather than later?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Feedback about Feedback

Feedback is often highly overrated. Many people (even those doing the 'right' thing) care too much about what others say about their efforts. They also assume something negative if they get little or no feedback at all.

The other day, I noticed that one of my favorite bloggers 'only' gets 5 - 10 comments for each of his blog postings. This is despite the fact that literally thousands of people read them every day. Most of his fans are content to read his words, and silently go about their day. If the writer took the amount of feedback personally, he could easily get discouraged and stop providing his daily words of wisdom. But, he realizes that it's the traffic to his site that fuels his brand... not the number of comments he gets.

While feedback can be useful... and provide you with an 'independent' perspective on something that might be too close to accurately judge yourself... don't depend on it to validate what you do.

Do you require feedback to ‘feel good’ about what you are doing? If the answer is “Yes”, get ready for a life of disappointment.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Failure at Failing

The 'art' of failure has gotten a bad reputation over the years... to such a degree that everybody avoids it as much as possible. However, that type of attitude will make you less likely to succeed... not more.

Take sales for example. Even the 'best of the best' sales professionals have a close rate well under 50%. As a matter of fact, you would be considered a superstar if you consistently closed one out of every three opportunities. Knowing those percentages, you would think that more people would welcome "No's" because that would get them closer to the next "Yes!"

However, we have been conditioned that getting a "No" means you're a failure... and being a failure is bad. Therefore, we do everything within our power to avoid getting a "No"... including not calling prospects in the first place. The required paradigm shift is simple.

In order to be more successful... stop being a failure at failing!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Strategic Plan Check-up

Whether you run a one-person operation… or a multi-billion dollar organization, here are five questions to help you determine the health of your Strategic Plan:
  1. Do you have a Strategic Plan? - Before you automatically answer, "Yes!" and move on, prove it by finding the actual document and holding it in your hands... because if your current Strategic Plan is not written down (and easily accessible), it's not real.
  2. Does every member of your team understand it? - Yes, that means every member (not just the executives who spent countless hours creating it or the managers responsible to implement it)... from the CEO to the part-time receptionist. If every team member does not understand your Strategic Plan, how effective can it be?
  3. Does every team member have the ability to articulate it? - It's one thing to understand a plan... It's another thing to be able to explain it back to someone (or yourself). If someone is uncomfortable discussing something, it will never be discussed.
  4. Does every team member clearly understand his/her role in achieving the goals of your Strategic Plan? There are specific skills, behaviors and responsibilities that each person must have to drive a plan toward success. Are they crystal clear?
  5. Is your Strategic Plan 'alive'? - Is it a 'living and breathing' document with a person's name assigned to every task... with target completion dates... and reviews to hold everyone accountable? Or, is it dusted off once a year during the annual planning meeting?
Last month, we celebrated the inauguration of our new President... Today, many Americans' attention will be focused on a football game... Tomorrow, it's time to get back to work! One complete month of this year has already passed. How is your Strategic Plan helping achieve your goals?