Archives for category: Sales

I think there’s a kind of hotel room etiquette for regular travellers. I say for regular travellers because I refer to business travel rather than holiday travel, where I think different rules apply.

If you’re staying in a hotel room for a night or two, then I think a few unwritten rules apply. These are some of the ones I apply:

  • I get 4 pillows and 2 cushions on my bed. I need 1 pillow. I stack the other three pillows and the 2 cushions on a shelf, with a note on top saying ‘not used’
  • I get 2 body towels, 2 hand towels, 2 face towels and a bath mat in my bath room. In only use the body towel and the bath mat for everything. Seems reasonable. I make it obvious I haven’t touched the other towels
  • I sometimes take the freebie bottles of shower gel and the bar of soap, especially the ones I’ve partly used. I figure that’s OK. I can’t imagine they recycle the half-used contents to make whole bottles
  • I always tip the person that cleans my room when I leave, even if it’s only a couple of quid. My rationale is that everyone else in the hotel spends 2 to 3 minutes on me alone: the check-in/check-out person, the restaurant staff, the coffee shop person. The cleaning person probably spends at least 20 minutes getting my room ready. It’s the least I can do
  • I try and leave my room tidy. I don’t take the proverbial, nor do I subscribe to the argument that it gives them something to do if I leave it messy. If you had to clean 20 hotel rooms a day you’d appreciate some rooms taking a few minutes less, wouldn’t you?

Those are the main rules of hotel room etiquette for me.

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Perspective is such an important concept, both literally and figuratively. It’s how we see the world, both literally and figuratively. It colours our work and our play, down to every single micro-action.

I was reminded of the more literal sense of this recently as I contemplated the world from a high window, the same window from which I viewed booming Dublin. It’s like when you drive a lot and then on rare occasions you take a bus somewhere, sitting on the top level and seeing things you never saw from the ground.

You can see so much from high up. It informs your world differently.

Being high up gives you an advantage over those who don’t enjoy the same elevation. They can’t see what you can see. It puts you in a position of advantage, power or authority, because you can see more. Sometimes it gives you more respect than perhaps you deserve. It also comes with a responsibility. You must use that advantage, power or authority well, and not abuse it or people. To look down on people, or be condescending to them, that’s an abuse of your exalted perspective.

 

Dublin is booming at the moment. Over the last 2o years or so that I’ve lived in Ireland, I’ve noticed a genuine boom-bust flow to the economy here, which makes it very difficult to plan for the long term, as any government will tell you.

In the mid-to-late 90’s the tech industry in Ireland exploded. By the end of 2001, and the introduction of the Euro at the beginning of 2o02, the dot com bubble had burst and the country was in recession. By the mid-noughties, it was flying again. Then came the tumultuous global meltdown of September 2008 and we were all sent to the brink, our pension funds destroyed. Construction, which had formed 25% of GDP, stopped overnight.

Dublin rebounded more quickly than the provinces, and now it’s booming again. I was waiting for a meeting to start on the 3rd floor of an office on the north quays recently, overlooking the river Liffey and the south side. Out of this narrow window I could see 9 cranes. 9 cranes within my view is a sure indication of a booming city economy.

I wish some of this productivity and boomingness was a bit more equally divided across the country, which is not doing anywhere near as well as the capital. Dublin is full. It’s roads are full, its hotels are full, it’s hard to get around. Not so in the provinces. The prosperity, tech hubs and inward investments are starting to flow to the regions, slowly but surely.

But, for now, Dublin is top dog. It’s booming, at least until the next bust…

Ah, email, the scourge of modern lives, both work-based and social-based. It’s no wonder that the young are not embracing it as a communications vehicle in anything like the numbers that the older generations have.

Emails can represent both a time-suck and an intrusion into our daily lives. If you’re like me and you subscribe to suppliers’ mailings, or have simply bought something from a company which has your email address, you’ll know what a chore it is to wade through email subject lines from organisations you don’t want to unsubscribe from, in case the occasional email provides something of use to you.

Email has its problems. A large percentage of knowledge and intellectual property is buried in email, often not archived or indexed properly, and it can be difficult to find and retrieve. That’s not particularly efficient. Email intrudes on a regular basis, with a ping here and a ping there, and business gurus are lining up to tell us to ignore 80% of our email and do our necessary email work in batches so that we stay productive.  Businesses are soon to be subject to the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which places more stringent requirements on those companies that collect and use data on us, like our email address. Here’s a nice summary by a marketing automation provider on GDPR implications for companies that email their customers.

Email marketing has been trending down for some time, as search engine optimisation / marketing and social media have been trending up. By 2020, according to Forrester and CMO, email will account for only 2,5% of our digital marketing spend.

It’s not all bad for email though. For example, a couple of years ago I called a couple dozen customers of a client of mine and asked them what their communications preferences were, both as prospective customers, and as active, ongoing customers. The overriding preference? ‘Email. Yes, I get loads of them, but if you send me one that I know I need to read, from looking at the subject line, I can leave it in my inbox and get to it when I’m ready.’

So it seems that, at least for non-millennials and business folk, the hugely prevalent mechanism that is email is still the best of a pretty bad lot when it comes to written communications.

In this post I want to talk about the other IoT. Not the Internet of Things, but the Interconnectedness of Things. Almost the same thing, but actually quite different as well.

Recently I participated in a 10K run. It was the latest version of the run I serialised 12 months ago. I warmed up the week before with a 10K run, and did something to my right Achilles tendon which made it very sore. No harm, I’d got the distance ‘in the bank’ so I focused for the next week on stretches to fix the pesky tendon in time for the race.

3K into the actual race, after a very careful and studious warm-up on the big day, my historically troublesome right calf muscle started aching. After 4K it was properly pulled and I had to stop and hobble back to the car. I limped around for about 4 days and then felt my back go, a muscular groan between my shoulder blades. Two days later, my lower back twanged, and so I had to put up with more periods of extreme soreness where I was in too much discomfort to start rehab. Bending down to pick something up off the floor was agony, and soon my right knee started complaining.

This for me illustrates the interconnectedness of the body’s moving parts, all stemming from the spine and the core. The Achilles, affecting the calf, impacting the spine (which is probably the root cause), which then refers pain down the legs. A good strong core and spine, and all the stuff that hangs off them tends to be pretty good too.

This is what I mean by the interconnectedness of things.It’s also a handy parallel for business, work and life. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, as Mr Newton said. Everything’s connected…

We use the word pain a lot in sales and marketing. We don’t mean physical pain of course, we mean business-related pain, and use the word to signify a problem, deficiency or other kind of challenge that our prospective customer needs to overcome. We home in on that pain, highlight it, illustrate the downside of not fixing it, and demonstrate how we’re uniquely positioned to remove that pain.

We also hope that our customer is not experiencing that pain constantly. You’d think we might be, but actually if they’re so preoccupied with that pain then it makes it very difficult for them to focus properly and absorb the reasoning about how we can help alleviate the pain.

There’s an exact corollary in constant pain of a physical nature too. When we’re in constant pain, a pain that medicine or treatment won’t lessen, it consumes every waking moment and makes it almost impossible to do anything productive. That’s why we’re generally in hospital, at the Doctor’s or laid up in bed. Nothing else for it.

I pity those unfortunate people who have to live with constant pain. It must be so hard. I have to imagine you’re preoccupied with managing that pain every waking moment.

Same for the business in constant pain as well. We must work super hard as marketers and sales people to provide a glimmer of quality respite for them to buy into a better future, a future that’s tied to us.

I have found, perhaps more by luck than judgement, hence my anecdotal phrasing of this sentence, that when you do the prep, things tend to go fine. When you don’t, they don’t.

When you wing a call or a meeting, choosing not to think about the questions you might get, or the outcomes you want from an encounter, it can often unravel and put you behind where you started. When you think about your call or meeting, plan for it, do the work required, try and anticipate the questions, have answers for them, and have an outcome in mind, it tends to go well.

Things are rarely as bad or difficult as you thought they’d be before you started the prep.

I think this has to do with the self-fulfilling prophecy, and peace of mind. The self-fulfilling prophecy, as I’ve talked about here, here and here, dictates that something will probably turn out the way you expected it to, and that by extension you should go into any situation with a positive outcome in mind. When you’ve done the prep, you’re comfortable with the impending call or meeting. You have peace of mind, which relaxes you and sets you up much better to shape the meeting to how you want it to go.

In a situation that’s much more complex than a call or meeting, like war, or business, our strike rate is nothing like as high. There are too many more variables, with too many more possible outcomes. All plans turn to dust in the heat of battle, inevitably. The prep, though, and the act of prepping, is still a very important and worthwhile exercise.

Titles can be misleading. We can oversell things or we can simply misdirect people, either by mistake or on purpose. I know that now, from the title of a relatively recent post.

This is the sixth year of blogging for me. I started in 2013 and now it’s 2018, which is six years, at least as far as the Gregorian calendar is concerned. This is different, of course, from my sixth year of blogging, which I will only reach after five years in the proverbial saddle, and even then I’ll only be a hair’s breadth into my sixth year.

In real terms I’ve only been blogging for about four-and-a-third years, which is why the sixth year of blogging sounds so much better. We take advantage of mathematical and measurement rounding to make things appear better than they are. If I’ve won a golf major in every decade for four decades, or had a child in every decade for four decades, it sounds like a span of forty years, but it might only be a spread of twenty-one years.

Overselling things, or overstating them, is OK, as long as we don’t create a false impression in people that we can’t then deliver on. They might turn away for good.

Reduce, reuse or recycle: so goes the environmentally-aware aphorism to keep us on the straight and narrow with the earth’s resources. We should reuse what we have if at all possible. If we can’t reuse it, we should recycle it. If we can’t recycle it, then we should reduce it, so that it occupies a smaller space in the places where we borrow but can’t pay back, namely landfill.

It turns out that this guide applies equally well for the food we buy and consume. I derive an odd sense of pleasure from being able to use up all the frozen food from the freezer, or combine left-over perishables into a meal that wouldn’t exist if I threw out the separate items.

It’s that thrill of maximum utility – getting the most use out of what we’ve paid for.

It also turns out that it’s a handy approach to adopt in our work, especially marketing. Content, especially good content, takes painstaking time to create. But it can also be the gift that keeps on giving, since you can use it again, or recycle it into other formats, or reduce it into smaller parts that can form a series. Beautiful.

Any why not other areas of work as well? Whatever processes, resources and technology you can reduce, reuse or recycle, you should, as long as you achieve the goal of greater productivity.

When you’re in marketing and sales, you’ve got to mind the gap, otherwise you may never emerge from it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a start-up launching a new business, a business launching a new product, or a company planning its sales targets for the next 4 quarters, there’s always a gap for marketing and a gap for sales.

By this I mean that there is a lag effect. The marketing lag is from the time you start thinking about marketing to people, actually marketing to them with your finished content, to someone putting their hand up and saying ‘Talk to me, I’m interested.’ The sales lag is from the time someone puts their hand up, through the period of qualifying whether they’re a good fit for your business, through to them signing the deal. Add the marketing lag and the sales lag, otherwise known as the sales cycle, and you’ve got a pretty big gap before you’re turning your stuff into cash.

So, if you’re a start-up and your product’s not ready yet, you need to start marketing right now: blogging, tweeting, emailing. Building up a head of steam so that you can have real conversations once your product is ready takes at least 6 months. That’s half a year, which sounds much worse than 6 months.

Same if you’re an existing business about to launch a new product. You have to mind the map, similar rules apply. And if you’re building your 2019 financial year’s sales figures, you need the marketing to kick in in 2018. Companies selling complex products and services with a 3-month sales cycle will not see any marketing activities from one quarter converted to sales in the same quarter. It might not be the quarter after that either, when you factor in the sequential lag time of the marketing and sales gaps.

How many companies who do a business plan for year Y plan the marketing effort for year X? Not many. And certainly not the ones who finish their year Y plan at the very end of year X, or even the start of year Y. Those companies can write off any help at all from marketing, probably for the first half of the year.