The Youtube Effect

•October 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

How the internet is affecting your business and you may not even realize it.

Years ago I attended an Internet business symposium in Raleigh NC. At the end, there was a panel of experts, one of which was the guy that had founded had been sold to eBay for millions. I learned a lot that day, much of which is just coming around to full circle more than 10 years later. One of the statements that day was that the Internet drove prices to 0. In my mind then, I understood this, but had no idea the ramifications it really was to have on the marketplace, and it seems that many businesses still haven’t even started to grasp this concept.

Years later, working with a start up company, I was directly involved in the development of our Internet presence. We were endeavoring to build a membership driven site, so with this in mind I aptly listened to an interview with the founder of on NPR one afternoon. It was there, in my car, in a parking lot, a few years ago, that this interview jogged the statement from that long ago symposium in my head. “The Internet drives prices to 0.

” What does this have to do with YouTube, and more importantly my business?”

Simply put, on the radio show, they were using YouTube as an example of the new Internet business model. In the early days, I wondered, “How in the world is YouTube going to make money and keep paying its bills?” I am sure many of you have wondered the sames kinds of things looking at some of your favorite sites. The truth of the fact is, in this new model, to be successful, you have to plan on making a profit charging only about 1% of the people that visit your site.

Wow, this may seem like an insurmountable challenge when you look at this from the paradigm of a small business. Well there you go, I would say that paradigm would then hold you back from ever being more than a small business.

So the question becomes, “How can my business learn from this model?” I think it is important to embrace this model. The Internet models are affecting real world business models more and more. Recently I have been assisting with the marketing for a small start up martial arts school. When I used the YouTube model paradigm to examine our marketing efforts, it seems to be holding true. This school is breaking some of the success models that we don’t agree with in the martial arts world (long term contracts, high up-front registrations, auto-draft, etc.), we instead are focusing on being affordable and the quality of our product. We are engaging the community on many fronts spanning from women’s rape prevention classes to doing performance style demos at the street fairs and other cultural events. The more people we engage, and add value to, the more students we grow by. Without hard calculations, it does seem to be almost in a ratio of 1%.

“How can your business enroll/engage/add value to more people?”


Selling and Relationships

•October 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I found this article interesting and wanted to get some input from other experts on it.

Selling Is Not About Relationships
9:29 AM Friday September 30, 2011
by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
This post, the first of a four-part series, is also part of the HBR Insight Center Growing the Top Line.

Ask any sales leader how selling has changed in the past decade, and you’ll hear a lot of answers but only one recurring theme: It’s a lot harder. Yet even in these difficult times, every sales organization has a few stellar performers. Who are these people? How can we bottle their magic?

To understand what sets apart this special group of sales reps, the Sales Executive Council launched a global study of sales rep productivity three years ago involving more than 6,000 reps across nearly 100 companies in multiple industries.

We now have an answer, which we’ve captured in the following three insights:

1. Every sales professional falls into one of five distinct profiles.

Quantitatively speaking, just about every B2B sales rep in the world is one of the following types, characterized by a specific set of skills and behaviors that defines the rep’s primary mode of interacting with customers:

Relationship Builders focus on developing strong personal and professional relationships and advocates across the customer organization. They are generous with their time, strive to meet customers’ every need, and work hard to resolve tensions in the commercial relationship.
Hard Workers show up early, stay late, and always go the extra mile. They’ll make more calls in an hour and conduct more visits in a week than just about anyone else on the team.
Lone Wolves are the deeply self-confident, the rule-breaking cowboys of the sales force who do things their way or not at all.
Reactive Problem Solvers are, from the customers’ standpoint, highly reliable and detail-oriented. They focus on post-sales follow-up, ensuring that service issues related to implementation and execution are addressed quickly and thoroughly.
Challengers use their deep understanding of their customers’ business to push their thinking and take control of the sales conversation. They’re not afraid to share even potentially controversial views and are assertive — with both their customers and bosses.
2. Challengers dramatically outperform the other profiles, particularly Relationship Builders.

When we look at average reps, we find a fairly even distribution across all five of these profiles. But while there may be five ways to be average, there’s only one way to be a star. We found that Challenger reps dominate the high-performer population, making up close to 40% of star reps in our study.

What makes the Challenger approach different?

The data tell us that these reps are defined by three key capabilities:

Challengers teach their customers. They focus the sales conversation not on features and benefits but on insight, bringing a unique (and typically provocative) perspective on the customer’s business. They come to the table with new ideas for their customers that can make money or save money — often opportunities the customer hadn’t realized even existed.

Challengers tailor their sales message to the customer They have a finely tuned sense of individual customer objectives and value drivers and use this knowledge to effectively position their sales pitch to different types of customer stakeholders within the organization.

Challengers take control of the sale. While not aggressive, they are certainly assertive. They are comfortable with tension and are unlikely to acquiesce to every customer demand. When necessary, they can press customers a bit — not just in terms of their thinking but around things like price.

We’ll discuss each of these capabilities in more depth in our upcoming posts, but just as surprising as it is that Challengers win, it’s almost more eye-opening who loses. In our study, Relationship Builders come in dead last, accounting for only 7% of all high performers.

Why is this? It’s certainly not because relationships no longer matter in B2B sales–that would be a naïve conclusion. Rather, what the data tell us is that it is the nature of the relationships that matter. Challengers win by pushing customers to think differently, using insight to create constructive tension in the sale. Relationship Builders, on the other hand, focus on relieving tension by giving in to the customer’s every demand. Where Challengers push customers outside their comfort zone, Relationship Builders are focused on being accepted into it. They focus on building strong personal relationships across the customer organization, being likable and generous with their time. The Relationship Builder adopts a service mentality. While the Challenger is focused on customer value, the Relationship Builder is more concerned with convenience. At the end of the day, a conversation with a Relationship Builder is probably professional, even enjoyable, but it isn’t as effective because it doesn’t ultimately help customers make progress against their goals.

This finding — that Challengers win and Relationship Builders lose — is one that sales leaders often find deeply troubling, because their organizations have placed by far their biggest bet on recruiting, developing, and rewarding Relationship Builders, the profile least likely to win.

Here’s how one of our members in the hospitality industry put it when he saw these results: “You know, this is really hard to look at. For the past 10 years, it’s been our explicit strategy to hire effective Relationship Builders. After all, we’re in the hospitality business. And, for a while, that approach worked well. But ever since the economy crashed, my Relationship Builders are completely lost. They can’t sell a thing. And as I look at this, now I know why.”

3. Challengers dominate the world of complex “solution-selling”

Given the first two findings, it might be reasonable to conclude that Challengers are the down-economy reps and that when things return to normal, Relationship Builders will once again prevail. But our data suggest that this is wishful thinking.

When we cut the data by complexity of sale — that is, separating out transactional, product-selling reps from complex, solution-selling reps — we find that Challengers absolutely dominate as selling gets more complex. Fully 54% of all star reps in a solution-selling environment are Challengers. At the same time, Relationship Builders fall off the map almost entirely, representing only 4% of high-performing reps in complex environments.

Put differently, Challengers win because they’ve mastered the complex sale, not because they’ve mastered a complex economy. Your very best sales reps — the ones who carried you through the downturn — aren’t just the top performers of today but the top performers of tomorrow, as they are far better able to drive sales and deliver customer value in any kind of economic environment. For any company on a journey from selling products to selling solutions — which is a migration that more than 75% of the companies I work with say they are pursuing — the Challenger selling approach represents a dramatically improved recipe for driving top-line growth.

In the next post, we’ll look at how Challengers teach their customers and how leading companies are equipping their salespeople to do the same.

the original article can be found here

Enrollment is soooo important.

•August 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.~Yogi Bera

Many people have heard this saying, and I think most of us have a personal vision. How clear these visions are, and how defined they are is another topic altogether. The problem I am often encountering is organizations without a clear vision. One of the most important things that I help businesses to do, is clarify and enlarge their vision. Often times though, entrepreneurs may have started with a clear vision, but as their business and team grew, this vision did not change, grow or simply was not shared by the team.

In his book the 8th Habit  Stephen Covey talks about a survey that was down of influencers in business. This survey was not of first level workers, but was of management. Using those results he comes up with an analogy to a soccer team.

Can you imagine playing on a team with the following: only 4 of the 11 know where their goal is, only 2 of 4 care, only 2 of 11 know what position they play and exactly what they are to do. Get this; all but 2 of the 11 are in some way competing with one another?

This sounds incredible, especially to anyone that has ever played sports, but when I share it with folks that are members of larger organizations, they shake their heads and say, “yes, that is probably true.” I even know of smaller organizations where I know this is true. I see it way too often.

How do you, as an entrepreneur, change this?

The first step would obviously be to make sure you have a clear (vividly clear) vision for where your organization is going. Unfortunately, this isn’t nearly enough when you are dealing with an organization. You have to be able to communicate this vision to the whole team, and to really make things happen, the organization as a whole has to buy into the vision. All the players have to know their positions, what they are to be doing, the rules of the game, and where to kick the ball to score a goal.

Imagine what your business would look like if you had the support and expertise of 10-15 entrepreneurs like yourself.

Rudderless Ships

•August 24, 2011 • 2 Comments

Too many businesses are rudderless ships, drifting in the currents, not in control of their own destiny. Most of us became entrepreneurs because we wanted to start something. Some of us, because we knew we could do it better. We all started with some sort of a plan. How is that going?

I have preached the necessity of a written business plan for many years, much to the resistance of many clients and entrepreneurs that I have met. You might ask why, even though all instructors teach it, so many businesses resist a written business plan. There is a simple answer.

It can be difficult to prepare a written business plan; it can also be very uncomfortable.

If you are at all interested in technology, you have been reading the reports and stories about HP. Just today I read an article that called HP a ship with no one at the rudder. This article left me wondering, how many ships are out here without someone at the rudder.

One of the complaints I have heard is that business plans just can never take into account all of the possible occurrences in markets, etc.

That is true. Very few business plans anticipated the economic terrain that we have been negotiating for the last few years. That is exactly why I think there are even more rudderless ships than usual. This is even scarier when you think about the size of the average entrepreneurial business; they really can’t afford to be chugging along without direction. I know this all too well.

My answer has always been that good business plans are dynamic, they are used to keep the business on course, while providing the ability for evaluation and changes. Business plans are a mechanism of communicating the route to your team. We all knows what happens if the whole team is not on board for the game. In the Eight Habit Stephen Covey compares businesses to a soccer team and points out that often, using this example, much of your team doesn’t even know where the goal is. Imagine that, even if you know what the plan is, does the rest of your team?

 Imagine what your business would look like if you had the support and expertise of 10-15 entrepreneurs like yourself.

What is your biggest challenge?

•May 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Invariably, I run across the same information from entrepreneurs and small business when I ask them what their greatest challenge is. It has nothing to do with their industry. Most often the largest challenge that faces a business is the actual operation of the business. I have always found this to be fascinating. Mainly due to the fact that businesses are so often started by a person that has passion somewhere in that industry.

Just recently I was getting re-acquainted with the owner of a web design/development company that I have known since he was but a startup (meaning he was a one man show). He was letting me know about all the growth and changes that his company had gone through. It was a really good conversation, and then he said, “Rich, you know, designing the web sites and doing the development is the easiest part of my job. Navigating the challenges of a growing company has been the hardest part.” Granted, I am paraphrasing here for conciseness, this conversation did happen at a bar during a party after a Rogue Rollergirls roller derby match.

The point is that my friend is understandably not alone. Most small businesses are started by an individual with experience, talent or a skill in a certain industry. They start a business to serve that industry and best use their skills. As the business grows and staff is added, the challenge begins. It is usually easy enough, but there always comes a point where the entrepreneur feels stifled by the challenge before them. It is at this point that they feel torn, spending more and more of their day running the business and less time doing what inspired them to start the business in the first place.

This specific place in business is where many entrepreneurs are faced with a choice. Another friend of mine so aptly illustrated this choice in the following story. Anthony was telling me how he had grown his business as an Electrician to the point where he had six trucks on the road and twice that number of employees. When he got to that point, he became extremely frustrated, he was working harder (or at least seemed like he was working harder because his expertise was being an electrician, not building a business) and making less money than when he was just an electrician working on his own. HE decided to go back to being an electrician, simplify his life.
This isn’t the only time I have heard this story. Time and time again entrepreneurs make these decisions, some even do it multiple times, dragging themselves through this decision again and again. Even I have been to this point in my business. It is my passion to help entrepreneurs either avoid this decision or navigate through this process the most successfully as possible.

Please share your greatest challenge and frustration here as a comment.


•November 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a big follower of Jack Canfield and a lot of the success theories that he shares. I was reminded this past week about how life tends to send us messages if we are astute enough to see and listen to them.  Some of these messages can come from unlikely sources.

When writing and working on materials production, I like to have a window open playing something from Hulu, this way I get work done and still see some of the recent television shows. One of those shows occasionally is Cougartown. In the last episode, one of the characters is shown to be an eternal optimist. He proclaims that, “Everything goes my way. You know why? Because I believe it will.”

Gosh, that sounded familiar. Now, I am not trying to say that I believe that just thinking positively without any action will accomplish your dreams in life, but a positive belief system sure does set you up for success much more than a negative one will.

The second instance was Friday night while we attended a gallery crawl/holiday season festival. We entered a room in one of the galleries, the artist that was displayed there (Stefan Duncan) was in the middle of a conversation. He was talking to another artist telling how he should imagine himself as a successful artist, how when he imagined this he should feel like a successful artist. He should imagine how he would be full of passion, how he would be on fire. Then, he should let that passion flow out in his art.

How much plainer could it be? As dense as I am, I did not make the connection between these two events just yet. Along the way of the crawl, we stopped at a wine purveyor that had a special on a Beaujolais Nouveau and a Moscato D’Asti. My date and I liked them, and picked up a bottle of each. We ended the evening with delightful conversation and a couple of beers at the downtown brewery. Well this is where I also left the wine sitting behind the table, even when we left the table. I did go back that evening to retrieve it. I was told that it was gone and that they were doubtful that it would be turned in.

I decided that I would not get mad or upset, I would stay positive, and would call in the morning. I did. They had the wine, and all was perfectly as it should have been. What is the point of this story?  There are many, but I wanted to share the ones that stood out most prominently to me.

  1. Stay positive. Even if things don’t work out the way you may want them to exactly, negativity doesn’t help, it will only make the situation(s) worse.
  2. I believe that on the whole, people are genuinely good. It would have been very easy for someone to have a couple of bottles of ok wine for no cost, but it didn’t end up that way.
  3. You still need to take the right steps. I could have just said to hell with it, the wine was gone, but I did not, I called in the morning. I definitely would not have my wine back if I would not have called.
  4. The artist’s conversation that I overheard definitely hit a point with me, about tapping into my passion for Business Fuel and Catalyst Groups and letting it flow, especially this week as I prepare for the first Catalyst Certification Training.

What is holding you back from reaching your success?

What is a Catalyst and why would I want to belong to a Catalyst Group

•September 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I went to wikipedia for some answers to this.

Catalysis is the change in rate of a chemical reaction due to the participation of a substance called a catalyst. Unlike other reagents that participate in the chemical reaction, a catalyst is not consumed by the reaction itself. A catalyst may participate in multiple chemical transformations. Catalysts that speed the reaction are called positive catalysts. Catalysts that slow the reaction are called negative catalysts, or inhibitors. Substances that increase the activity of catalysts are called promoters, and substances that deactivate catalysts are called catalytic poisons.

Simply put, Catalyst Groups act as the Catalyst for your business growth. Structured business curriculum combined with a Peer Boar for shared wisdom describes the group.  The secret ingredient is that all Catalyst Groups will be facilitated by a trained catalyst, those ensuring that you will have a positive catalyst experience speeding up the growth of your business.

Find out more