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What Are The Connections You Need To Make For Success In 2014?

“Making connections” is a simple phrase that has a thousand meanings, from the social to the mechanical. This blog has addressed the subject of connections before, talking about horizontal thinking and thinking in terms of systems. This time let’s think about all the things you may be treating separately that could be connected to some thing, some idea or someone else and if those connections were made, good results would happen.

First think of yourself as the leader. Are you getting all the information you need to clearly see how your organization is doing and where it is headed? If not, with whom and what do you need to connect to get that information? If you are overloaded with information, what do you need to reduce or summarize to gain the clarity you want and need, Are there people inside and outside the organization with whom you need to connect? Many CEOs have said that their highest and best use is wandering around the market and figuring out what comes next. What do you have to read and with whom do you want to meet to accomplish that task?

Now, think about your people. What connections do they need to make to ideas and people within the organization in order to be more successful in their job?  Do they see how their work is connected with the work of others ion order for the company to meet or exceed its goals? What connections do they need to make outside the organization with prospects, customers and referral sources? Assuming that you are building and sustaining an organization in which people, work to their strengths, you must make sure that placed throughout the entity that you have people whose strength is seeing connections not being made or needing improvement. If making good connections is part of the company culture, you just might have a powerful differentiation

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The Impact of the Web and Social Media on Your Company’s Reputation

Whether we like it or not, the web and Social Media can have a dramatic impact on your company’s reputation. The impact is measured in speed and in volume. On-line technology has enabled everyone who has access to a computer and the Internet to express an opinion-right or wrong, positive or negative, fair or unfair.

The old adage was “do something right and the customer will tell 5 people; do something wrong and they will tell 10.” Today you can put a lot more zeros after each of those numbers, especially the 10. An organization’s reputation has always been based on its integrity, its ability to deliver what it promises and the consistency with which it deals with the world. Large companies have had public relations professionals whose job it was to protect the firm’s reputation and to try to shape the way it was reported on in the media.

Today the time between an event, especially a negative one, and opinions expressed publicly about it can be as little as nanoseconds. So, on one hand the skills needed to protect a company’s reputation are different than those needed in the past. Websites and Social media have opened new pathways for companies to reach out to customers and prospects to inform them, reinforce relationships and to deliver goods and services. They enable companies to quickly gather information on how they are doing in customer satisfaction, to rectify problems and to improve processes.

But here we reach the proverbial two-horned dilemma: in many companies, the speed of the arrival of information on which action must be taken and the volume of that information creates work that cannot be added to people who are responsible for other things. A whole new class of careers and jobs is being created under our noses. Call the job On-Line Reputation Manager or Chief Digital Communications Executive; the job needs to be filled. Here’s the second part of the dilemma: in many cases the people who understand the need for the job to be done are often not very proficient in the use of the technological tools to do it. And, the people who have the technological skills to use the tools may not be experienced enough in the business to do it properly.

So what is the solution? One idea is to pair a seasoned executive with a whiz with the tools and have them learn from each other what must go into the overall tasks. Each “twin” will have to accept the other and what set of strengths each brings to the pairing. The “twin” could be another employee or an outsourced resource like a webologist-someone with the technological and business background to have experience in using the tools successfully.

Principles that have always worked in good messaging still carry into this new world-good clear writing, language pertinent to the understanding of the audience, the right message in the right media. And finally the really scary part is how fast things change in this new world: how different is your website strategy from what it was 2 years ago? How different is Google from what it was a year ago? How can the active management of all this change drive your business to where you want it to be?

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Zappos Goes Holocratic: Are They Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater

Zappos is following up on the move to their new headquarters with a complete realignment of their organization. They are doing away with titles and substantially flattening the hierarchy of the company. The strategy sounds almost utopian and compelling. But, I have some questions about their strategy. First read the article and then come back for my thoughts. [Read more…]

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Is Your Prospect Pushing Back At The Scope of Your Proposal?

Sales professionals are often confronted with the problem of a prospect pushing back at the scope of what they are proposing. If you represent a small company, the prospect may wonder if you can handle the work, the customer or both. If the prospect has had a bad experience with a similar project or in buying a competitor’s product, he or she doesn’t want to repeat that experience. If there are budget concerns (and they aren’t just using that as an excuse), the prospect may want to go forward but simply can’t afford that large of an expense right now. So, what to do?

You may find success in borrowing a page from the arcane sounding “Diffusion Theory of Innovations,” popularized by communications studies professor Everett Rogers in 1962. Rogers and his predecessors opined that innovators will try anything but until and an idea gets acted on by the next group – early adopters – the idea will not generate substantial success. One strategy developed by marketers to break through the wall between the innovators and the early adopters is to make a product or service divisible. You let people try a part of it or make a smaller commitment to it until they get more comfortable. One example: During the early implementation of ATM’s, the developers included a balance inquiry button. It allowed early adopters- who didn’t quite trust the whole system yet – to user their card and their PIN without affecting their money. So when confronted by that selling obstacle- the pushback – think how you might make your prospect’s commitment divisible.

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Words Matter. Are You Using the Right Ones?

In a recent business owner meeting, one member of the group asked if the others understood the value of what his business provided to customers. Some of the responses were pretty close to correct, and others were off the mark. What the group decided is that the words the owner used to describe his services and their value may only be understood by a specific industry, but they were not suitable for the decision-makers that he needed to reach.

Good communications will generate more success. Conversations of any quality obviously depend on words. The right words are essential to good communication. That fact that the world has moved to more online communications makes word choice even more important. Good content has and always will be important – on signs, in ads, on websites, in social media posts. Search engine optimization and social media expand the definition of good content so that Google and other search engines are able to find you. But to be successful, you must use the language and words that resonate with the people you serve and want to serve. So find the words that matter to your customers and prospects and use them in every way you can, including company conversations. Think of your own reaction when an individual or a promotional message makes you feel like they ‘get it.’