Some Peer Wisdom: Relationship to Referrals
April 6th, 2012  Posted at   Marketing, Referrals, Relationships, Sales, Social Media
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Kathleen asked her Peer to Peer group the question that often preys on all of our minds – what is the best way to extract opportunities from the wide range of relationships you have established?  How do you bridge from a good relationship that you don’t want to jeopardize to asking for a referral?

The question sparked a very lively discussion with lots of suggestions and ideas.

  • Keith suggested right up front that it is all about the relationship and only the relationship.  If the relationship is established and strong, then the opportunity to talk business will occur.
  • You need a system to manage relationships.  Social Media makes the touch point and relationship management easier to accomplish.
  • The purpose of the system is to keep you in the mind of the other person.  It does not have to be overly frequent; it just needs to be consistent.
  • Inventory your values and currencies; what do you offer that can help someone else?
  • Help others get things done.  Be generous with your time and efforts.  You need to give before you can ever expect to get.
  • In terms of business specifics be clear on what you have done.  Think of at least 3 examples of client interactions where you or your firm has delivered value, as defined by the client.  Document the instances.
  • Case studies and testimonials are great story telling tools.  Use them extensively.
  • When seeking referrals make it easy for the other person to help you.  Do not leave the responsibility for making a connection on the shoulders of the other person.  You make the connection and ask permission to use someone’s name.  This makes the connection “warm”.
  • Be specific.  Do the research and identify the individual or company you would like to connect with.  Remember, it is not the responsibility of the other party to do your market research or sell for you.  You simply want their endorsement to make the connection easier.
  • Avoid the six most dreaded words you can ever hear — “I didn’t know you did that”.  Be assertive and clear on what you do.  Do not assume that just because you’ve known someone for a period of time that they understand what you do by osmosis.

Asking for and getting referrals requires a relationship first and foremost.  It requires you to be clear on your value and to communicate that with clarity.  It requires you to make it easy for the other party to make a connection become a “warm connection”.

Some Peer Wisdom — Spreading a Good Virus
April 6th, 2012  Posted at   Marketing, Sales, Social Media, Uncategorized
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Jan asked a very interesting question in a recent Peer to Peer meeting — What are some unique ways to connect with clients, and is anyone in the group using viral marketing tactics?  As Jan stated, viral marketing seems very out there; what works?

Ethan opened the discussion with a unique concept – sweaty palms creative.  The definition is whether your palms get sweaty just before proceeding with a marketing concept or tactic — the greater the sweat, the more anxiety as to whether the concept or tactic will work.  And it is that questioning that is a good indicator of uniqueness.  Sweaty palms creative means you are not following the crowd.

Maury provided the example of the blender company that demonstrated the effectiveness and durability of their product by literally putting everything into it, e.g., a cell phone.  They shot a video of it and put it on You Tube.

Viral marketing can be generated and directed to a degree by looking for a new spin on something.  Characteristics that can make it contagious are clever, edgy and risky.

When considering what you can do to generate a viral buzz around you, your products or your services, look to draw interest and attention.  Viral builds awareness of the brand with its crazy edge, but buyers generally disassociate the craziness from the brand at the point of purchase.

Also recognize the role of a viral campaign – to generate awareness and interest.  The conversion of that interest is your responsibility.  Be sure to direct the interest to a transaction or action of some type.  Generally it is a web page.  The action could be as simple as downloading information or registering.

Some Peer Wisdom: A Strong Leader — A Leader of Strength
April 6th, 2012  Posted at   Leadership
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A Strong Leader and a Leader of Strength — some interesting observations to consider regarding the role of a leader.

  • A strong leader works out every day to keep his body in shape…and a leader of strength builds relationships to keep his organization in shape.
  • A strong leader isn’t afraid of anything…. and a leader of strength shares courage in the midst of fear.
  • A strong leader won’t let anyone get the best of him…. and a leader of strength gives the best of himself to everyone.
  • A strong leader makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future… a leader of strength realizes mistakes can also be unexpected blessings and capitalizes on them.
  • A strong leader wears a look of confidence on his face… and a leader of strength shows confidence in others.
  • A strong leader has faith that he is strong enough for the journey… and a leader of strength has faith that it is in the journey that he and those he leads will become strong.
Setting Up Incentive Programs
January 9th, 2012  Posted at   Uncategorized

Discussion Item – Incentive Program for Hourly Employees

Paul is looking to establish some type of incentive program in order to drive greater production and improvement in quality (though quality is strong now). After a briefing from Paul on the situation, we began the discussion by offering ideas and concepts to provide a master list of things Paul could consider.

  • Explore providing incentives out of the increased margins derived from improved performance.
  • Offer recognition as well as reward.
  • Establish programs for advancement based on performance.
  • Link incentives to profitability.
  • Be specific on what you measure, and ensure employees understand and buy into the measurement criteria.
  • Build a qualitative and quantitative work history for each employee.
  • Focus on producers rather than sub-par performers.
  • Establish a baseline of performance, and objectives related to that baseline.
  • Set objectives at both the individual and team levels.

Working off this list, and using some of his own ideas, Paul selected the following ideas to pursue:

  • Offer recognition as well as reward.
  • Link incentives to profitability.
  • Build a qualitative and quantitative work history for each employee.
  • Focus on producers rather than sub-par performers.

We had time to explore implementation of one of the ideas: How to link incentives to profitability. Steps to consider in implementing this idea include:

  • Identify a measurable factor
  • Assign a responsible diagnostician
  • Produce a history of results
  • Take corrective action where needed
  • Split the returns with personnel

Underlying these steps are the following principals:

  • Conduct a financial analysis. Know what you are measuring.
  • Ensure you get feedback. Make sure the diagnostician is skilled in measuring whatever factor you select.
  • Instill the ability to self-direct. Empower your people to take their own corrective action, both as individuals and as a team.
  • Evaluate and elevate staff. Recognize improvement. Reward performance.
  • Focus on the top performers. Another application of the 80/20 rule, where you focus your efforts on personnel who produce the greatest return.
Inc. Tests New Business Laptops
May 16th, 2011  Posted at   Uncategorized
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4 Great New Business Laptops

From Inc. Managing Technology May 11, 2011

Inc. tested four new notebooks with fast processors and loads of features.  Their top pick is the Lenovo Thinkpad X220, followed closely by the Apple Macbook Pro, HP EliteBook 8460P Notebook PC, and the Dell Vostro 3350.

How you think; How you create
May 16th, 2011  Posted at   Uncategorized
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Unusual Thinking Styles Increase Creativity

From PsyBlog — May 3, 2011

The idea of creativity is wonderful: that a spark of inspiration can eventually bring something new and useful into the world: perhaps even something beautiful.  Something, as it were, from nothing.

That spark may be only the start of a journey towards a finished idea, but it is still a wonderful moment.  Without the initial spark there will be no journey.  It’s no exaggeration to say that the ability to be creative sits at the heart of our achievements as a species.

Eight Reasons 360 Feedback Fails
May 3rd, 2011  Posted at   Uncategorized
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From Center for Creative Leadership April 2011 Leading Effectively e-Newsletter

Any development as a leader begins with an open and honest assessment of one’s own strengths and weaknesses.  As a result, 360-degree feedback has been a cornerstone of CCL programs for several decades.  “But there are perils” according to CCL’s Craig Chappelow.  (more…)

Leadership Lessons from Maj. Gen. “Burn” Loeffke
May 3rd, 2011  Posted at   Uncategorized
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From Center for Creative Leadership April 2011 Leading Effectively e-Newsletter

Major General Bernard “Burn” Loeffke likes to say that he goes into any situation armed with two weapons — the FIRO-B and MBTI.  For the unitiated, the two are personality assessments that can give leaders great insights on how to work effectively with others.  (more…)

Power and Leadership
April 20th, 2011  Posted at   Uncategorized
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From Harvard Business School Working Knowledge April 1, 2011

When Power Makes Others Speechless: The Negative Impact of Leader Power on Team Performance

By Leigh Plunkett Tost, Francesca Gino, and Richard P. Larrick

History has shown that possessing a great deal of power does not necessarily make someone a good leader.  This paper explore the idea that power actually has a detrimental effect on leadership, especially with regard to how it affects open communication within a team.  Article

Lean Startups
April 20th, 2011  Posted at   Uncategorized
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From Harvard Business School Working Knowledge April 12, 2011

Teaching a ‘Lean Startup’ Strategy

Most startups fail because they waste too much time and money building the wrong product before realizing too late what the right product should have been, says HBS entrepreneurial management professor Thomas R. Eisenmann.  In his new MBA course, Launching Technology Ventures, Eisenmann introduces students to the idea of the lean startup — a methodology that has proven successful for many young high-tech companies.  Article