Archive for July, 2009

How (Why) to unseat the incumbent vendor

July 31, 2009

A clear message for the last ten years is that selling is all about relationship. Relationships built and strengthened over time, makes it easier to pursue new business with existing customers. You know how to hit their “hot buttons” than that of a net new customer (especially if their gatekeepers are doing a damn good job). This often accounts for the bulk of new business. Cold-call prospects are likely to be entrenched already, and you have to unseat the incumbent — your competition. In addition, enterprise is hiring more and more gatekeepers to keep up with the recessionary trend. It is increasingly difficult to reach out to the executive level and make inroads.

Then why does broad marketing attempts try to replicate the relationship approach to the prospects where you have no relationship, instead of approaching them in other ways?

Here is a compelling need to unseat the incumbent vendor that’s often not easy.

But there are always customers that don’t have a regular incumbent. So make the channel partners focus on the long tail. Not just the top visible ten percent that are on top of every competitor’s mind. The ones that advertise loudly on every media and so targeted by all. It’s better to lose that ten percent because they will likely get the most competitive of offers that will shrink the enterprise margin wafer thin. Start from the back, Begin with the marginal customer that slinks under the vendor radar. You will likely hit the hot button faster.

Get them to dive deeper with the customer and know their needs. Ensure flow back of customer intelligence from the savviest of channel sales force. Share the findings with the rest of the force and poke their ego by crediting the partner that came up with the nuance. A sense of deficiency (in letting the peer channel partner get up close with the corner office) and underperformance should invigorate the rest into brisk activity.

Shall we call it the immersive approach..? Is that transformational enough…? What do you think…?


In crisis, spot your default future and tweak it

July 23, 2009

Steve Zaffron, CEO of the Vanto Group, a global consulting firm and Dave Logan, who teaches at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, offer a set of simple rules to show how leaders and their companies can prosper, even when the odds are stacked against them in their best selling book The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life.

Recognize that people normally have an unconscious, gut-level idea of where they — and their company — are at, and where they’re likely to go. Zaffron and Logan call this “the default future” and show how it is deeply rooted in people’s assumptions, hopes, fears, and past experiences. The first task of leadership, they argue, is to identify the default future, discuss it, and analyze it, and then go about reimagining — and, in effect, rewriting — the future. The book examines a series of management cases at companies around the world where rewriting the future has led to real business transformation. And the lessons are just as applicable to individuals. it’s extra-critical for the CEO who has to steer the ship, to get people in communication about the future that they see coming at them. This is what they call the “default future,” and it’s constituted by a lot of complexity that all comes together in a certain way. This default future consists of our expectations, our fears, our hopes, and our predictions, all of which are ultimately based on our prior experience.

But most CEOs worry about telling the people about the firm’s default future as they see it. They try to paint a happy picture in a relative sense pointing to the competition that had gone belly up. They try to benchmark their performance against a broader industry index and say, “hey, we’re better off.” But the people know the level of emptiness behind those statements and don’t buy a word of it. So why not say it as it looks?

That calls for intuitive grit. The CEO will have to begin by believing in his ability to face up to the responsibility and keep the ship afloat. He should be quick to capture what others see and then gauge the standard deviation from what he thinks about it. He has to communicate the long term goals he has outlined for the company. Say every morning that our business is fragile, and that it can break very easily. So you’d better look at all the risks and make sure that they’re mitigated as much as possible. You see something you don’t like, tell that to the people and ask them do something else. Dare to be naïve.

Believe in getting into hot water. It keeps you clean.

Inside the bore zone

July 22, 2009

For quite some time now, I haven’t had much to post on. There was nothing worth its while to contemplate, to have deep thoughts on. It was just the mundane stuff coming back up, week after week. It’s not the first time I’d hit this morose zone, a hiatus, pretty much a forced pause. There had been times in the past when deals dry up and my creativity sagged. Not a thing that I could do to get over it than to quietly let it pass.

May be it’s got to do with the global gloomy sentiment. The weather isn’t helping much either. We’ve had some showers in Mumbai and it’s all wet all around. The laziness is, like a gift of the monsoon – at least for me. I walk and sleep a lot more and read and write a lot less. Stock Markets – that has lately been my mainstay in the absence of meaningful resource raising deal flow that is otherwise my true calling, have been quite range-bound after a brisk run over the last three months.

I knew I had to do something to get rid of this boredom. Boredom is a serious enough problem, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it. The fun was that I wasn’t even feeling insecure. So, is this listlessness a symptom of security? I had to deal with this internal commotion. The war between being and nothingness is the underlying illness of the post-crisis times. Coming to reckon that, boredom slays more of existence than war. Some take to mad shopping, others gamble and most others drink. But I knew I had to stimulate myself somehow and I’d rather do something else. And that’s going to be the only way to get out of this unsavory morass.

But I’ve noticed something. I am regular to pick up my daughter from her coaching classes now more than ever. Guess punctuality is the virtue of the bored! And there is one other reason. I like to drive down early and get a great parking spot, then sit in my car and count how many people ask me if I’m leaving.

To them, I’d rather ask – Could they teach me how to sit still in one room ?