Be Conscious, Not Compulsive in Selling

(Reading time 4 mins. In 2017, let’s be conscious, not be compulsive and mindless in chasing growth. It works.)

 

2016. Oh, what a year it was! An interesting cocktail of emotionally charged outcomes.

 

To quote a few notable ones – Rise of populism, shift in geo politics and power, $3.3 trillion of takeovers chasing growth, AI coming of age, self driving cars, fake news, Oil play, shipping bankruptcy, people going gaga over ‘Pokemon Go’, attacks in Brussels & Nice, Aleppo and a fast changing world innovating and disrupting at a rapid clip.

 

Without judging anything that has happened let me ask you a question?

 

How did 2016 make you FEEL?

 

Did you feel empowered or disillusioned? Only you know the answer.

 

In my case, I am coming out of 2016 with mixed feelings.

 

Whichever way I look at it, I am quite sure that we are being setup for one hell of a ride. It’s not going to be smooth, predictable and remotely uninteresting.

 

It could jolt some of us, throw many of us into realms of new opportunities or challenges and even force us to step out of our comfort zones. For people in sales profession, 2017 is definitely a make or break year.

 

This is a nice segue to ask the next question.

 

As sellers, what do you think you will need to be successful in 2017 and beyond?

 

To get your thoughts going I will make my case to this question in 3 parts:

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What did Satya do to energise Microsoft?

(Reading time 4 mins. Analyse using B4B Wheel to map Microsoft and Satya’s strategy)

Our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation. This is a critical time for the industry and for Microsoft. Make no mistake, we are headed for greater places — as technology evolves and we evolve with and ahead of it. Our job is to ensure that Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world.

This paragraph was somewhere in the middle of the first letter Satya Nadella wrote to Microsoft’s employees once he took over as CEO on 4th Feb 2014.

Steve Ballmer exited Microsoft in Aug 2013. Satya Nadella stepped in as the CEO around Feb 2014.

What has changed since then?

One word. Culture.

The approach. A shift from ego-centric 800 pound gorilla like approach to a clear thinking yoda like inclusive leadership.

A shift from ‘I am right, you are wrong‘ mindset to ‘let’s discuss and evolve together‘ progressive thinking.

In two years, Satya has led a cultural revolution at Microsoft that has brought a lot more compassion, a lot more energy around the way people feel and think about things.

Microsoft ‘power center‘ approach where every product group ruled the roost and thought in silos has truly given way to ‘One Microsoft‘ group think that has a unified mission.

To understand this even better, let’s compare and contrast Ballmer and Satya’s approach using Agility Nexus B4B Wheel.

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B4B Selling loves customer experience

(Reading time 4 mins. Why should you switch your sales philosophy?)

Finally, after years of pounding clients with calls, email blasts, intrusions, ads, campaigns, challenges, push and shove, inbound, outbound, cross sell, up sell, driving growth at any cost – we have reached a point of overwhelm and started talking about customer experience!

The part where a customer happily engages and does business with you.

What goes around comes around. No getting away from that.

Some are even calling customer experience as ‘the future of selling‘. I feel like laughing when the industry coined the term customer experience. Isn’t it a basic human need to feel safe in a transaction, not be overwhelmed or be obligated when we don’t want to?

First we abuse the system and now come up with an antidote. We end up giving it names such as customer experience, voice of the customer, etc. How weird!

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B4B rejects Alpha Male style leadership

(Reading time 3 minutes. B4B needs a ‘eco-system’ leader than an ‘ego-centered Alpha Male leader type)

How many times you have been to a meeting headed by a leader portraying Alpha male leadership style?

Hardheaded, task-oriented and extremely opinionated. They are known to get very upset when things do not go their way, and living up to their excessively high standards can feel like a mission impossible. They are prone to outbursts when things don’t go their way.

Bold, aggressive, decisive, critical, one track, domineering and loud. They inject fear all around. They suck energy out of the space.”

The corporate ladders, of both big and small companies, are strewn with such characters aplenty. These folks have managed to play the game well for the past four decades. In fact, they have played it so well that they have risen to the top.

Shocking but true.

The reason it has worked so well until now is that the corporates have been ‘ego-systems‘ so far. Hierarchical, typical ladder, where the alphas gather their pack and rule the territory. Organisations were territorial and boundaries were well defined.

Not anymore. As we step into the social era, ego-systems are being quickly replaced by eco-systems. Connections matter more than strategy in a silo.

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Exit B2B Marketing. Enter B4B Marketing

(Reading time – 3 minutes. You will re-consider B2B marketing approach after reading this post)

 

I am sorry to say that, in the recent times, B2B marketeers have become inhuman.

 

Don’t believe me?

 

Ok. Let’s do this exercise. Say this word out loud. LEAD.

 

Now close your eyes and think of the word LEAD. Count 1 to 5 and then open your eyes. Start now.

 

Pause.

 

Now that you have opened your eyes, what image came to your mind? Be honest.

 

Your Salesforce.com screen for leads? Or your MailChimp email id? Or your lead report that you send to your marketing bosses?

Or a human being – with flesh and blood?

 

9 out of 10 times, you would have struggled to hold an image. Even if you did, I am quite confident that it is definitely not a human being.

 

As marketeers, most of you, have succumbed to corporate pressure and metrics. In a hurry to satisfy bosses, you have fallen prey to ‘click through rates‘, ‘open rates‘ and ‘bounce rates‘ than to care for the human being on the other side of the screen.

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Why B4B Selling is the way to go?

(Reading time 3-4 minutes. Bet, it will make you think)

Don’t get swayed by the acronym. There is much more than what meets the eye.

 

If you sit back and ponder over the key points in this message, I am sure, as a seller you will resonate with the idea. It might touch you somewhere deep and possibly make you even uncomfortable with what you do today.

 

Before you go any further, I strongly recommend you to read my previous note “B2B is Dead. B4B is Born“. This will set the right context and frame.

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Are you a B2B or B4B company?

(5 minutes. Lengthy and hard hitting with examples.)

Couple of weeks ago, my article on Business FOR Business (B4B) resonated well with many of you. Don’t know why but at some level, deep inside, we seem to agree with the larger principle that businesses should exist for other businesses to succeed.

 

Not just for our shareholders, employees and partners who just continue to extract value from the market. This is so industrial era thinking.

 

Well, if we agree on this premise, then we should have some kind of assessment or validation that allows us to evaluate our business in its current state. Thought that it will be a good exercise to come up with a set of questions that allows us to do the same. A litmus test.

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B2B is dead. B4B is born.

(Reading time 4 minutes. Lengthy but intriguing)

Isn’t this a bold idea?

 

What’s in a title? Maybe everything.

 

Something that is very personal and possibly deep. A worldview that can shift our thinking and inspires us to do few things totally different.

 

Nah. How can that be? How is it possible?

 

How can you change a word, a preposition, ‘to‘ and replace it with ‘for‘ and call it a game changer?

 

We have seen it all. Haven’t we all been in business far too long to be moved by play of words. A small change from ‘To’ to ‘For’ means nothing.

 

Well, I don’t think so. I will tell you why in a moment.

 

Here is the bold idea again: ‘B2B is dead. B4B is born‘.

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10 Benefits of an economic slowdown

As you step into this Monday morning, I am sure that you don’t have to hear more bad news. Slowdown, layoffs, structural job losses, hiring freeze, change and more change coming our way.

 

I’m no Yoda but I can connect with the facts of brutal reality that is playing out there. I know people are suffering, and I hate that.

 

However, I also believe that every cloud has a silver lining. Seeing life that way is  just part of my being. So thought I should flex the appreciator muscle and see the slow down in a different light.

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