When sales people have to create change

When launching a new product or service, the selling organization must have the time and incentive to go slowly and learn as much about the prospects and their challenges as they do about the new offering. 

Harvard Business Review: How to Sell New Products, 2018-Nov/Dec, by Michael Ahearne and Thomas Steenburgh

Early in the cycle, not only must the salesperson provide the right product information, but customers must feel they have the right information. That involves establishing trust and demonstrating a deep understanding of the customer’s challenges. Later in the cycle, the salesperson must help the customer understand, assess, and manage the risks and the people issues associated with change. Too few companies help salespeople learn to do this.

Sales teams would be better off spending their time developing a psychological profile of the ideal customer. What traits suggest that a prospect might be willing to adopt a new way of doing business? What behavioral clues signal that he or she is serious about making a purchase rather than simply learning about a new technology? Does the prospect’s organizational culture support learning and change? For prospects who best fit the profile, the sales team should map out all the steps that will need to be taken—and all the people who will need to be met. This exercise is creative in nature, because the goal is to envision what should be new and different in the sales process. 


How newsletters and crowdfunding are improving the prospects for book authors

Craig Mod shares some amazing insights for people in all professionals who want to make a living from words. The primacy of the newsletter in finding an audience is the most reassuring. Having a direct channel with one's readers doesn't necessarily lead to big income, but it does lead to crucial connections and feedback that fuel a writing career. 

Wired: The 'Future Book' Is Here, but It's Not What We Expected, 2018-Dec-20 by Craig Mod

Crucial Tech for an Author: Email ...

Almost every writer or artist I know has a newsletter. One way to understand this boom is that as social media has siloed off chunks of the open web, sucking up attention, the energy that was once put into blogging has now shifted to email. Robin Sloan, in a recent—of course—email newsletter, lays it out thusly:

In addition to sending several email newsletters, I subscribe to many, and I talk about them a lot; you might have heard me say this at some point (or seen me type it) but I think any artist or scholar or person-in-the-world today, if they don't have one already, needs to start an email list immediately.

Why? Because we simply cannot trust the social networks, or any centralized commercial platform, with these cliques and crews most vital to our lives, these bands of fellow-travelers who are—who must be—the first to hear about all good things. Email is definitely not ideal, but it is: decentralized, reliable, and not going anywhere—and more and more, those feel like quasi-magical properties. [end Sloan quote]... 

Newsletters as Books

In 2008, WIRED co-founder and technologist Kevin Kelly predicted how the internet and email would allow creators to be independent. He called it the 1,000 True Fans theory of market building. Now the payments and funding and production pieces are in place to allow someone—given 1,000 fervent and supportive fans—to reliably publish for fun and profit. Stratechery is just an archetypical example of Kelly’s 1000 True Fans theory in practice.

Folks like Ben Thompson are effectively writing books. Take a year of his essays, edit them for brevity and clarity, and you’d have a brilliant edition of This Year in Tech. And so in a strange way, Stratechery in paid newsletter form is as much a Future Book as a bounded Kindle edition.... 

For a “book” is just the endpoint of a latticework of complex infrastructure, made increasingly accessible. Even if the endpoint stays stubbornly the same—either as an unchanging Kindle edition or simple paperback—the universe that produces, breathes life into, and supports books is changing in positive, inclusive ways, year by year. The Future Book is here and continues to evolve. You’re holding it. It’s exciting. It’s boring. It’s more important than it has ever been.


Giving better in the new year

With so many of my friends trying to raise money for so many good causes, social media has actually burned me out for charity. My goal for the coming year is to think ahead and give with a plan. 

Ideas42: ‘Tis the Season for Americans to…Give to Charity? 2018-Nov-20 by Sarah Welch

One reason Americans don’t give as much as we might aspire to is because we generally don’t take a step back to consciously decide how much of our income to dedicate to charitable causes. Without a moment of reflection, it’s easy for good intentions to get lost in the business of our daily lives. Case in point: Do you know how much you have given so far in 2018? If not, play a quick game—take a guess, and then look through your transaction history and receipts to find out if you were right! (Don’t be surprised if you were wrong. It’s quite common to feel like we give more than we actually do.)... 

While 85% of donors say an organization’s performance is important to them, only 3% actually give based on a charity’s relative performance. And it’s understandable why: there are a lot of organizations to choose from, and researching them is a hassle. But giving more is only the first step toward increasing your impact. It’s crucial to give effectively, and that means being informed about where to give.

You don’t need to conduct a literature review or write a research paper—with tools like Charity Navigator and GuideStar, you can get enough information to make an informed decision in just a few minutes. You can also check out Charity Navigator’s top 10 lists to find highly rated organizations. Also consider talking to people in your community about local organizations they donate to or have engaged with in the past.... 

Tackling these three simple steps today will help set you up to maximize a fresh start in January. Once you’ve done this thinking, don’t let it fade from view (and therefore your mind): write down your plan for becoming a generous, intentional, and informed giver, and physically display it somewhere you’ll see it throughout the year. (Yes, we know a behaviorally designed tool to help you do this would be great—stay tuned for future advancements as we seek to create just that!)


What is the president's role?

The single biggest issue I have with the current administration is the practice of blaming. How can we do better if we're so busy pointing fingers instead of trying to understand what the other side wants? Comedy writers are not paid to be role models. Presidents are. 

Houston Chronicle: How do we learn to hate? 2018-Dec-13 by Mikki Hebl

No one is born with hate. It is a learned process, and it is easily taught, but we know it has a deep connection with fear. We hate someone because we are afraid they will harm us or our loved ones. We hate someone because they perform deeds that offend our beliefs. But Ben's experience shows us that hate must be actively resisted and that our leaders must lead by example. 

Here's what Lyndon Johnson said when Tommy Smothers was making fun of him in 1968:

It is part of the price of leadership of this great and free nation to be the target of clever satirists. You have given the gift of laughter to our people. May we never grow so somber or self-important that we fail to appreciate the humor in our lives. 

And here is how Trump responds to SNL satire:

A REAL scandal is the one sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live. It is all nothing less than unfair news coverage and Dem commercials. Should be tested in courts, can’t be legal? Only defame & belittle! Collusion?


Microsoft analyzes relationships among successful sales people and business customers

Microsoft now has benchmarks for their salespeople on how big their network of connections should be and how much time they should be collaborating with their customers. And their salespeople are relying on the LinkedIn Sales Navigator product to build their networks. We don't know these numbers, which probably would vary across companies and industries, but we know what to watch!

Using their own Workplace Analytics software, Microsoft analyzed their own "complex sales organization of 20,000-plus salespeople covering large enterprises to small business customer segments, and spanning 100 countries."

Harvard Business Review Blog: A Look into Microsoft's Data-Driven Approach to Improving Sales, 2018-Dec-17 by Sanaz Namdar and Ryan Fuller

One of the first things we learned is that salespeople with larger, more inclusive networks tended to have better outcomes. This is consistent with a number of other similar studies. Based on this finding, we initiated a program to coach our sales teams to focus on efficiently building and growing their internal and external networks. By looking at network size relative to tenure within the company, we were further able to establish that it typically takes roughly 12 months for most people to build these networks.... 

On average, teams engaged with twice the number of customer contacts in our higher growth accounts, and collaborated double the amount of time with these customers as compared to lower growth accounts.... Deeper analysis showed that investing more time and energy into partnering with some of these lower growth accounts could improve them. As a result, we adjusted our sales coverage models to enable more face time with these previously underserved customers.... 

We found that customer satisfaction is directly correlated with customer collaboration time (email and meetings) across all Microsoft roles and teams engaging with customers, including product engineering and marketing teams.... 

As part of our ongoing organizational efforts to better understand our customers, one of our teams built a machine learning model that uses more than 100 features to predict customer satisfaction. We worked closely with this team to add the behavioral data about collaboration we gathered into the model. After our analysis, we discovered that collaboration became the top feature in predicting customer satisfaction, and helped increase the accuracy of the model from 78% to 93%.