Archives for January 2015

The Dangerous Games People Play: Price Negotiations

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Price is one of the most deadly weapons in the marketing mix.

One of  the “4 P’s” of marketing, and one that creates some of  the most pressure packed situations in business.

  • It determines 50% of a company’s profit margin.

  • Depending on your market share and/or industry, it is also the most controllable decision someone can make to influence their outcome of profit/loss.

  • It is the most easily compared element of the marketing mix against a competitor.  Evaluating $499 vs. $549 is easier than comparing product reviews, technical features or “quality” (perceived or real)

  • Could be the most “emotional” element in business.

Why?

Let’s say you are quoting on a business, and it’s somewhat of a “bid” process, meaning you are quoting against different competitors selling products that have SOME differentiation, but generally viewed as a commodity.  So Price is a MAJOR factor, but like all competitive situations, everything influences the outcome:

  • Quality and service track record

  • Terms, flexibility

  • Relationship:  How will your bid affect the relationship?  Does that matter?

  • Risk of loss:  If you lose, how does your business look?  Better or worse?

All situations have a different ranking.  If I were bidding, here’s what I’d be looking at:

*  How many different factors influence a buying decision?
*  Rank them from high to low.
*  Know where you score at all times with your customer.  How?  ASK THEM!

Also?[Continue Reading…]

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Too Blunt? REALLY? Campaign Season & Style

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Talking Politics is always a potential hornets nest, but there’s a ton to learn from campaign season.  Candidates try and differentiate themselves from the pack, and the pundits critique their every move.  I wouldn’t wish that scrutiny on anyone!

This weekend I caught a glimpse of the Iowa Freedom Summit where republicans made their speeches.  I was particular stumped by NJ Governor Chris Christie, in particular his opening…

“I have heard and read the conventional wisdom that somehow a guy from New Jersey would not be welcomed or understood at the Iowa Freedom Summit,” he said. “That somehow I’m too loud, that I’m too blunt and I’m too direct.”

Perhaps I pay closer attention to Christie being a NJ guy, and my style that I would consider more Direct vs. “Polished.”  But when a candidate needs to overcome “directness” to play on a national level, it is worth reflecting on what works and does not in the Leadership game.

I’m clearly biased and have written plenty on the topic of Leadership Style

Old School Leader:  Dirt Under the Nails Required, Polish Optional
Charisma:  A Dangerous Word in Leadership

In short, I value the straight shooter over the slick, even if the straight shooter makes me pause and hits a “sensitive” nerve.  Business moves at light speed…..breaking through layers of polish to know where you stand takes energy.

I suspect however that my bias is in the minority if a candidate like Chris Christie needs to spend a fair amount of time explaining his leadership style.

In business, I view Leadership “style” like I view a product’s Packaging:  A critical component, but it’s not the PRODUCT itself.  The product in the leadership game is the person, the results they can produce for business and for developing people.     

The “Blunt” topic of Leadership style should force us to ask ourselves some basic questions:

  • How important is style?  Critical?
  • How is trust formed?
  • How do you connect with strangers?
  • What role does style play in the final analysis?  Getting Results

One other interesting tidbit I picked up from the Iowa Summit?  An idea that came from the entertaining (to some) Donald Trump:  Let’s get rid of the following:

Teleprompter

I couldn’t agree more.  I respect and admire the great speech.  But it is refreshing to see the few go off the cuff and speak from the heart.

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Leaving it All on The Field: A Celebration Anthem

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Exhaustion is not a bad thing.  In fact, I would argue that leaving it all out on the field (or workplace) is what Hustle is all about.  

In Pitbull’s anthem:  “Life is short.  No guarantee of tomorrow.”

Would love to your favorite Anthem……drop a comment.

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Why Not Celebrate Like American Hustle?

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I’m biased, but when American HUSTLE came out, I had a near Pavlovian response to rush out and see it.

I laugh VERY hard every time I watch the 1 minute celebration scene from American Hustle.

The scene makes me wonder:

  • Why don’t companies have a “explosion” of energy after achieving goals, no matter how big or small?

  • Why do people take themselves so seriously?

  • Is “Making fun” of someone appropriate, or has no place in the workplace?  Or is it context dependent?

  • Is it OK to push the envelope on celebrating?

Regardless of where you stand on appropriateness…..

Teams that have this type of energy, work towards achieving goals, and then celebrating with viogr will always outperform those lower on the drive/celebration scale.  

In the journey of life, enjoying the ride should be mandatory.  

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Want to Scale Your Career Mountaintop? Shatter Your Functional Stereo-Type

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Every function has its role in business.  Every function also has its “knocks or biases.”  Stereo-types if you will.

Have you heard of any of these sentiments?

  • Accountants are bean counters, but they really don’t have a clue about customers, internal or external.
  • Sales people are great with people, sure!  But they don’t get the bottom line and only think about the customer.
  • Marketing people are dreamers, but they can’t analyze themselves out of a paper bag!
  • IT thinks they are the gestapo!  Do they realize they are a support function, not a deli counter giving out a ticket?
  • Operations– No, they really won’t just “buy what we make,” there needs to be some kind of customization!
  • Senior management is so out of touch!  They really don’t know how the real work is done!
  • HR – Hiring.  Firing.  Party’s over!  HR is coming to the meeting?  Yikes!

Want a recipe for career success?

Find a way to shatter your functional stereo-type.

YES, be great at what you do.  That’s a given.

But if you want more  than just being an “accountant,” break the mold in what it means to be a great.

  • Do you know how to close the books as an accountant?  I sure hope so.  Can you pay your vendors and collect your invoices?  That’s like breathing.

You in sales?

  • Can you line up a big meeting to present your annual offering?  Of course, that’s why your in sales.  Can you form relationships with various types of personalities?  Like breathing.

You in IT?

Can you build a program to automate routine tasks?  Set up networks, hardware, software?  Well I hope so, it’s like breathing.

To be a “basic valued” employee, you better know how to breathe in your function.  Some people breathe easier than others, sure.  There are people that run marathons faster (and finish) better than others.  They flat out work harder at their craft than others.  Hustle is a choice.  

But it takes more than hard work to transcend the middle of the functional bell curve.

 

I would argue that any person that aspires to rise the ranks and become one of the best at what you do…….need to flat out work their ass off to “breathe” better than those around you.  But you’ll need an edge…..

Standing out and rising to the top of any one function (or beyond) requires not just breathing.  You’ll need to stand out from the rest.  Not just by being the best, but by breaking the mold and shattering what it looks like to be the best at what you do.  Shatter your functional stereo-type.  

Take the perception by the collar, lift it up and throw it back in the career stereo type pile.  Don’t be that guy/gal.  Be the anti-stereo type.

Think Superman.  He turned the tables, in his greatest moment ever.

And a CAUTIONARY NOTE:  Before tackling any ambitious project, it helps to get a baseline for where you are at.  In this context, have you mastered “Breathing?”  What do your peers think?  If not, start their.  

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