Tuesday, May 29, 2012

TED: Steve Jobs: How to live before you die

At his Stanford University commencement speech, Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple and Pixar, urges us to pursue our dreams and see the opportunities in life's setbacks -- including death itself

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership


Gary Burnison considers leadership to be a privilege. Most people like the idea of leadership but few count the cost. He says, “To lead is to be all in, transparent and accessible, calm in the face of upset and even crisis, and always mindful that you are a steward of something bigger than yourself.” That’s not easy. To whom much is given much is required. That’s the part that easily trips us up.

His book, The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership offers insight from his lifetime in leadership, interacting with some of the world's top leaders in the C-suite and boardrooms, as well as heads of state. He offers a framework based on fundamental human truths and the essential elements of leadership. The “Absolutes” are building blocks that must be present regardless of your leadership style or approach. Here are the 12 Absolutes with Burnison’s thoughts on each:
  1. Lead. Anchor yourself in Humility. Leadership is an all-in proposition. Never react; instead ask yourself: is this about me or about we? If it’s the former, forget it and rise above.
  2. Purpose. The why. Purpose must have a long shadow, extending its influence over others.
  3. Strategy. Strategy starts with the results of today. Strategy, rooted in values and purpose, gives encouragement through times of ambiguity and uncertainty. Strategy without purpose and values is a short-term plan that is directed toward shallow goals.
  4. Twelve Absolutes
  5. People. When you.re the leader, it’s never about you, but it starts with you. The leader can’t be the star player, scoring all the points. (Although many try to do just that.) Set high expectations for your team members, and help them to see what they can achieve.
  6. Measure. Don’t rely on what you believe to be true. Measure and monitor so you know if it’s true. Validate your data. Walk around. Talk to people. Listen. Look into their eyes and see for yourself whether the strategy is really working.
  7. Empower. The leader’s job is not to empower people, but rather to help them to empower themselves. It’s the difference between ordering people to do something and inspiring them to see what they can do.
  8. Reward. Employees work harder for leaders who demonstrate respect for their work. Authentic, purposeful praise is a power skill of the successful leader—everywhere.
  9. Anticipate. As a leader, you must always have your focus on the horizon. Your first task is to hone your view of the present that you perceive around you and your organization. Grounded in this reality, you are able to raise your sights toward the horizon and beyond.
  10. Navigate. Anticipation and navigation are complementary skills. It involves making decisions in real time that allow you to adjust, react, and outmaneuver the competition—always on the lookout for the unexpected.
  11. Communicate. Communication is where leadership lives and breathes. That means more listening than talking. It’s not merely telling people what you think and what you know. It is a process in which you seek first to understand what others think.
  12. Listen. Listen, learn, and then lead—in that order.
  13. Learn. Knowledge is what you know. Wisdom is acknowledging what you don’t know. Surround yourself with a handful of people who will be your corrective lens, making sure that you focus and learn. Equally important, your inner circle should be made up of confidants who provide grounding and perspective, seeing you as a person rather than a function.
Burnison reminds us that leadership is about people. “To lead,” he writes, “is to make an emotional connection on a very real and human level in every interaction.”


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

5 Leadership Lessons: The Leader as Strategist


The Strategist is not a book about strategy, but a book designed to equip and inspire you to be a strategist. Author Cynthia Montgomery, says we have reduced strategy to a right-brain exercise and have lost sight of what it takes to lead the effort. The essential component of the strategy-making process is the leader.

Leaders must not ignore or underestimate their crucial and ongoing role as a strategist. “Strategy is not a destination or a solution,” writes Montgomery. “It is not a problem to be solved and settled. It’s a journey. It needs continuous, not intermittent, leadership. It needs a strategist.”

1  The myth of the super-manager—that a truly good manager can prevail regardless of the circumstances—is hard to let go. First, you must understand the competitive forces in your industry. How you respond to them is your strategy. Second, even if you understand your industry’s competitive forces, you must find a way to deal with them that is up to the challenge. Third, whatever you do, don’t underestimate the power of those forces.

2  Strategy is about serving an unmet need, doing something unique or uniquely well for some set of stakeholders. Beating the competition is critical, to be sure, but it’s the result of finding and filling that need, not the goal.

3  Nothing else is more important to the survival and success of a firm than why it exists, and what otherwise unmet needs it intends to fill. Every concept of strategy that has entered the conversation of business managers—sustainable competitive advantage, positioning, differentiation, added value, even the firm effect—flows from purpose.

4  After you’ve identified your purpose, aligned your activities and resources, and tested the results—all internal working steps—you are ready to summarize your strategy in a statement you can use to communicate both inside and outside your firm…. Make every word real. Make every word count. Long sentences and vague language can obscure your effort to describe what’s really important. At best, they’re unhelpful; at worst, they’re potentially misleading and distracting.

5  The most important thing is to understand that you are not a manager of strategy, or a functional specialist. Others can fill those roles. You are, first and foremost, a leader. Your goal is to build something that is not already there. To do so, you must confront the four basic questions you have already explored:

What does my organization bring to the world?
Does that difference matter?
Is something about it scarce and difficult to imitate?
Are we doing what we need to do in order to matter tomorrow?

As a leader, you must answer them.


Monday, May 14, 2012

CRM Failure Rates

Wherever you look, CRM adoption by sales is a main area for concern. Philippe Le Baron outlines the hard facts about CRM success rates from this Linked In post.  In the end, layering in a change in process like CRM requires a deep dive into human behavior and a hard look at the leadership team for ensuring that the CRM is used. Leadership stands to gain the most from CRM in the form of Reporting, Analytics, employee management, business continuity and so much more which is why they need to own CRM every day.

Some interesting stats:

CRM failure rates: 2001-2009
By Michael Krigsman | August 3, 2009, 6:15am PDT

Discussions about failed CRM projects often begin with statistics describing failure rates. To facilitate those conversations, here’s a summary of CRM failure stats for the period 2001-2009. This is the basic list; see down below for more detail:
• 2001 Gartner Group: 50%
• 2002 Butler Group: 70%
• 2002 Selling Power, CSO Forum: 69.3%
• 2005 AMR Research: 18%
• 2006 AMR Research: 31%
• 2007 AMR Research: 29%
• 2007 Economist Intelligence Unit: 56%
• 2009 Forrester Research: 47%
This table lists the year, organization conducting the research, and reported failure rate. As described below, measurement differences make comparing rate changes across years difficult at best.

Remember SFA (aka; Sales Force Automation)? SFA was a miserable failure as I recall in a 70% average failure rate. Then some brilliant person figured they needed to 're-brand' SFA so... CRM was born and the results are shown above.

I find most organizations fail to recognize that technology is the enabler of a process, not the other way around. Here is some good advice: “Follow The Money”

Until CRM software developers wise up and build in credible functionality RPM will be just another re-branding exercise and will eventually go the way of CRM and SFA.

I focus on revenue generation strategies involving pipeline management and more accurately forecasting near term revenue. My clients have abandoned using CRM software to manage this process, it just doesn't work.

NOW, ask me how I really feel!

Howard Highsmith, CMC
B2B Institute
Howard Highsmith, CMC
Posted by Howard Highsmith, CMC 


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Why Leaders Can NOT Procrastinate

This is a guest post by Jason Womack, author of Your best Just Got Better—a book designed to show you how to make your best even better, how to achieve more in work and life, and how to sustain those changes over time. Womack defines productivity as: “Doing what I said I would do, within the time that I promised.”

You're about to end a conference call, and someone says, "Great, we'll send you some materials right away." A day goes by, and then a week. What happens to your confidence in that person? Surely, you may continue to do business together, but you'll always wonder if they'll do what they said they'd do, in the time they promised.

So, now is the time to look in the mirror Are you putting something off? Because you forgot, or is it on purpose? Are you missing key resources? Are you waiting for key data before you can make the next decision? Or, are you procrastinating? Begin by exploring your own daily routines. When you understand HOW you work, you can get things done more effectively. Here's an activity you can experiment with this week.

Write down the approximate time you arrive and leave the office every day. This represents your “work-week.” (I call this the "window of professional productivity.") For each single hour you were working, you made choices about what to focus on as “priority.” You also chose what did not get done!

Here are three ways to get going and sustain an action-orientation to your own productivity:
  1. Choose smaller verbs. One of the reasons that people don't do things as they think of them (especially entrepreneurs and senior leaders) is because of their skill at Visionary Thinking. Because they CAN think big, they do. Chunk your objectives into smaller markers along your path to success. Recently, I worked with a Managing Partner of a Fortune 500 company who realized that more important than managing time is her need to more effectively direct her focus within the small chunks of time she has to work.
  2. Find, create, utilize and assess the extra time you have each day. Arrive to an off-site meeting somewhere early? Other people running late? Maybe you get a last-minute cancellation of an appointment you had scheduled. What can you do during that time? Get ready for 15-minute blocks of time (what I call "bonus time") throughout the day. Why 15 minutes? That window is long enough to actually "do" something and short enough to find!
  3. Focus on what has happened. Regularly through the day (before lunch, and before you go home), take a moment and mentally check off what is complete. Oftentimes, there is so much going on, and so much you can think of that is UNDONE, you tend to forget how much is finished. This is your chance to recharge – as acknowledging completion is a quick way to get back on track. (Have you ever made a list of to-dos…after you’ve already done them?!)
Too often, long-range goals fall into the “important but not urgent” category of day-to-day workflow management. We put off doing the most important things while making start-and-stop progress. When this happens, the urgent – latest and loudest – clamors for our attention. Work smart, maximize short windows of time, and mark something as complete…it’s the best way to beat procrastination!


Monday, May 7, 2012

The Rise of The New Sales Power: Personal Charisma Multiplied By The New Channels

Watch the video
Listen to the Podcast
Toronto, March 15 2012

Hi This is Mike Lipkin and I’m inspired to be with you today. Since 2008, I have created over a 100 blogs, videos and podcasts. And yet every time, I create a new one, I marvel at the reach and impact I can have.  It’s miraculous. There are so many resources competing for your attention and yet here we are, interacting with each other. It’s a beautiful thing. Thank you.

The question is why? What am I doing to earn your attention for these precious few minutes? How am I differentiating myself from the thousands of coaches who would do anything to be in front of you? What’s the secret sauce that makes my offering more enticing?

The answer is charisma. I’m not being arrogant or egotistical when I say that. I define Charisma as a set of personal qualities that enable an individual to influence, persuade or bond with a large group of people.
So what are those qualities? What endows an individual with the power to consistently win people’s time, attention and business? It’s a domain that I explore every day? It’s how I make a living. It’s also how I make a life.

My choice to create this message was sparked by an article in the New York Times on March 11 2012. Ironically, the article was on the new Broadway Revival of Arthur Miller’s classic play – Death of a Salesman. Specifically, it was on Philip Seymour Hoffman’s preparation to become Willy Loman, the worn travelling salesman or, as the New York Times states, “the greatest tragic hero that America has ever produced.”

Death of a Salesman was first performed in 1949 and yet one of the most famous quotes from the play was uttered by Willy Loman’s wife, Linda, as she expressed her nostalgia for the Old Days of Selling”. She says, “In those days there was personality in it . . . There was respect, and comradeship, and gratitude in it. Today, it’s all cut and dried, and there’s no chance for bringing friendship to bear — or personality . . . They don’t know him any more.”

What’s changed – everything and nothing. I constantly hear the sales lament: The internet has changed everything. There is no opportunity to personally connect with the buyer any more. All the customer is interested in is price. I never get a  chance to actually meet with him. It’s become just a numbers game.
Reality, however, could be exactly the opposite. In a world where there are so many substitutes for the real thing, the real thing needs to be out of this world. It needs to be so satisfying to the customer that they choose it over all the alternatives.

Sales, like being in Broadway Play, has become a performance art. Every pitch, and every preparation for every pitch, must be pursued with all the intensity and flair of an A-List actor perfecting his role. Here is how Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s describes his struggle to play Willy Loman: “It’s hard getting inside this guy for a lot of different reasons. It’s like Whac-a-Mole. Certain moments make sense, then they don’t, then others do, then they don’t anymore. All of a sudden you’ve lost what you found — you thought you knew what that moment in a scene was about, and then you don’t anymore. And then you do.

How often have you felt that uncertainty when you’ve been in front of a customer, in person or over the phone? One moment, you thought you were on the cusp of closing the deal, then you weren’t. The next moment, you thought you understood the customer. Then you didn’t. It’s all part of the show.
What’s more, yesterday’s successes mean little in today’s pitch. It’s about staring down your demons and absorbing the pressure of being the best. As the New York Times writes,

“For Mr. Hoffman there is little reassurance to be drawn from his best actor Oscar in 2006 for “Capote,” or from the years of reviews hailing him as one of the best actors of his generation. He says he wants to feel as human and exposed as possible each time he steps in front of the audience. And the pressure he puts on himself has not eased with the approach of Thursday’s opening night.

“I tell you, it’s not the first thing that you want to do when you wake up in the morning,” Mr. Hoffman said of becoming Willy. “You have to find your way there, every morning, to do that. You have to find the reason why, and you have to find the will to do it, and then you do. And then you’re reminded why you do, because you finish and — whether it went well or not — you hope that some people will find it satisfying and memorable.”

Mr. Hoffman said, “You’re working and finding the performance until the very last show. You go into any role asking a question, accumulating half-answers, partial answers, full answers, and then different questions come to you — and through it all you have got to trust your instincts, which is a private process,” he said. Referring to Willy, but also to his previous Broadway outings in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and Sam Shepard’s “True West,” he added, “A performance is a living thing, so pinning it down is kind of impossible.

So that’s how Phillip Seymour Hoffman does it. What about you? How are you building your charisma? How are you differentiating yourself through all the channels available to you?

Here are Lipkin’s Seven Insights to multiplying your sales power through the new media:
  1. Choose The Character You Want To Be. Sales is about reinventing yourself for the part that fits you best. Your customers are buying the role you can play in their lives. So I am your performance enhancer. I expand your perspective and motivate you to explore options that may not have been on your radar before. My character fits this character. And every message enables me to stretch my range. What part fits you the best? How meaningful is it to your customers? How are you growing into it? How are you stretching yourself?
  2. Mesmerize Your Customers. Great salespeople find a way to fascinate their customers. They arouse their curiosity and interest. They find the points that their customers find most compelling and they play on them. They combine their style with their content to produce a riveting proposition. So the point that I am playing on here is how to sell like a Broadway Star. I’m guiding you on what it takes to be the one that owns your customers’ imagination. I’m using the brilliance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and the New York Times to dramatize my message. And I’m also unleashing my natural effervescence as I tell the story.
  3. Get Out Of Your Own Way. Be conscious of yourself but don’t be self-conscious. Great actors don’t allow their nerves to interfere with their performance. They use them to amplify their performance. They remember it’s always about the audience. Or, in the case of a salesperson, the customer. So right now, I’m acting. This is Mike Lipkin unplugged. At the same time, I’m concentrating all my energy on a single goal: making these few minutes extremely rewarding for you.
  4. Be 100% Emotionally and Creatively Committed To Your Role. Every call needs to be treated like a career defining moment. This message is the most important thing I’ve ever done – until the next thing. Success in the new hybrid world of selling is binary – either you win it all or you get nowhere. Anything less than 100% commitment will close down your show. Reserve, inhibitions, doubt, tentativeness or ambivalence are fatal. So if you’re going to play, play full out. Your customers deserve nothing less. They’ll accept nothing less. Your competitors are already giving them nothing less.
  5. Package yourself across the Channels – Phone, In-Person, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Personal Website, Podcast, Twitter, Blog, Trade Media, Newsletters, Intermediaries, Trade Associations, and Word-Of-Mouth. The sheer range of media channels available to everyone can seem daunting. The truth is you have to start somewhere. So begin by being spectacular in your traditional channels such as phone or in-person (e-mail doesn’t count). Set up your Facebook page. Spice up your LinkedIn profile. Create a personal website if you really want to build a distinctive personal franchise. Experiment with video and podcasts – we’re all being trained to absorb our key data this way. Get the right people to help you. There are thousands of good people out there who are both skilled and inexpensive. Lowell Brown and his company, Insight Design, help me. They can probably help you as well.
  6. Make Your Charisma A Core Discipline. Phillip Seymour Hoffman lives the question of how to enrich his role every evening. His director, Mike Nichols, and fellow actors mentor him on how to enhance his performance nightly. He chooses his assignments so he’s always in reinvention mode. He also ensures he’s always visible. Charisma is hard work. It’s a learned skill that draws on our natural gifts. Mastery drives Charisma. Some of the most magnetic people I know are also the most understated. But they’re always on and they always bring their A-Game.  So this message, and the podcast and the video, and the website, Facebook and Twitter updates that go with it, are all part of my discipline. It’s how I grow myself, my craft and my relationships.
  7. Be Resilient. Endure the inevitable frustration, annoyance, irritation, fatigue, blues and tension as you experiment with new media and ideas. The more you try, the more you learn. There is always a  temptation to back off from the edge and stay in one’s comfort zone. But the comfort zone is the antithesis of charisma. Remember: we can only lead others where we are prepared to go. Others are looking to you for leadership. Go first, even if you slip, stumble and fall. That’s still progress. Resilience is bouncing back with even more verve and passion.
That’s it from me. It’s been a thrill performing this message for you.  Until the next time, Act like you mean it. Sell like you believe it.  And know that you will achieve it – whatever it is for you.


Friday, May 4, 2012

There's Value in the Simple Things

Customers not only appreciate simplicity; they'll pay more for it too.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Greater CRM Adoption Predicted


The year ahead appears strong for CRM solutions, in categories from marketing and sales to customer service applications.

According to the latest Forrester Forrsights Software Survey of 556 North American and European enterprises, 50 percent have a CRM solution in place and plan to upgrade it in the future. Another 23 percent plan to deploy a CRM solution this year or beyond.

Among small and midsized businesses (SMBs), 41 percent of companies reported having deployed a CRM system, and another 25 percent plan to do so in the next year or later.

"The [software-as-a-service (SaaS)] solutions that have come on strong in the last four or five years have definitely encouraged late adopters, because it's a lot easier to consume, to use, and to deploy," explains Bill Band, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

In the Asia-Pacific region alone, SMBs will invest an estimated $16.5 billion in cloud computing technologies in 2012 as part of their growth and innovation strategies, according to research from AMI-Partners.
The "increasing maturity of cloud offerings, as well as rising customer demand for mobile business scenarios supported by increasing tablet and smartphone penetration, will continue to drive demand and investment for SaaS and infrastructure-as-a-service solutions," said Stefan Haas, consulting director for Asia-Pacific at AMI-Partners, in the research findings.

Though SaaS offerings are a strong driver of CRM adoption, the multichannel touch points that companies now rely on to reach their customers are also fueling adoption.
"[Companies] are thinking about the need to adopt e-business and e-commerce and Web sites and social technologies and mobile, all of which broadly fall into the CRM domain," Band says. "The core issue is [that] it's hard to keep customers, so you need to be more efficient. SaaS is driving [adoption], but I also think it's an interest in this broader set of technologies."

Despite the forecast of CRM growth, an organizational barrier to adoption remains: aligning business strategy and processes to foster a true customer-facing strategy. In "Navigate the Future of CRM," a Forrester Research report authored by Band, some of the hindrances companies reported facing when implementing a CRM strategy included inadequate deployment methodologies (40 percent); poorly defined business requirements (25 percent); failure to achieve organizational alignment of objectives (18 percent); and inadequate management of program costs (18 percent).

Band says any time a new technology or process is introduced to an organization, a training and support program must also be in place to sustain the momentum that change brings. "A common pitfall is not planning for an ongoing sustaining of the effort."

According to the Forrester report, the discrepancy between IT objectives and business strategies can hinder a CRM strategy from moving forward and reaching its full potential.
"It's not always obvious for people who will be involved [in a new strategy] what's in it for them unless you really make it clear what the value is, find something to rally around, and provide a reason why change has to happen in the first place," Band says.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

CRM Gets More Professional

In the professional services arena, large and small firms alike are finally abandoning spreadsheets in favor of CRM systems made especially for them.

In fact, commercial CRM adoption among professional services providers stands at 86 percent, according to "The 2012 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark" by Services Professional Insight (SPI) Research. That's in stark contrast to 2009, when the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) reported that only 55 percent of professional services teams were using an enterprise CRM product and 29 percent had budgeted for new or additional CRM tools in 2010 and 2011.

This surge in service industry CRM adoption underscores the increased emphasis service organizations are placing on selling and marketing. In the services industry, more than in any other, customer references are the lifeblood of sustainability and growth. "Client references have a strong correlation with service marketing effectiveness, the length of the sales cycle, and the ease of getting things done," the report's authors, Jeanne Urich and R. David Hofferberth, managing directors at SPI Research, wrote. "Client references are a leading indicator of organizational success. As this percentage increases, so does the probability of high levels of growth, higher bid-to-win ratios, and lower sales costs."

Vincent Scarinci, director of business development solutions at Hubbard One, a Chicago-based solutions provider to the professional services industry, also sees greater competition among service providers as a motivating factor. "What we're seeing now is a bigger uptick in people shopping around for services based on experience, pricing, etc.," he says. "Customers are putting work out for bid. That trusted source now has to compete for business that it previously would have secured over a luncheon. They are fighting for business harder than they've ever had to before."

Also driving this trend are other outside pressures, including market consolidation, tighter government regulations, and economic conditions. "The professional services market is getting sandwiched between market contraction and pricing competition," Scarinci says.

The industry, he adds, is still lagging behind other verticals in its overall CRM adoption, "but it's closing in fast. In the past two years, we've seen an amazing turnaround in business processes and the way firms handle those business processes."

One of those business process changes is a move toward the adoption of cloud-based solutions.
The SPI Research report notes that in the professional services sector, cloud services providers have "significantly outperformed" on-premises software providers.

One problem is that few CRM systems are integrated with other business applications. Less than 15 percent of respondents in the SPI Research survey have integrated their CRM and financial systems directly. "Greater integration among enterprise applications yields greater operational and financial results. Ideally, these solutions [should be] integrated out of the box or easily integrated through standard interfaces, which do not require extensive upkeep and expensive maintenance," the report noted.

Scarinci acknowledges a lack of integration, but says that is starting to turn around as well. Professional services firms today "see a bigger need for integrations with CRM and their front-end solutions. As work comes in, they see the need to integrate all the data earlier."

Gone, too, are the days when CRM systems were used primarily for basic list management and customer contact information storage, according to Scarinci. "We see a lot more sophistication in the process," he says.

Of particular note is a greater emphasis on analytical data, with firms wanting to know more about the success of marketing campaigns, and being able to apply that information to customer records and other CRM system information. "Companies want…better data around customers and business prospects," Scarinci says.