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10 posts from July 2014

Staying connected against the current


Sometimes we have to fight the current in order to stay connected with people. They are probably not swimming away from us, just drifting, not trying to stay connected. We have to be the one doing all the work to maintain the connection.

One of the wrong ways to do it is with the 'just checking in' email or phone call. Fortunately, there are many different ways we can do it right. Hendrik de Vries has some good statistics about the problem as well as some strategies for avoiding it.

Mingle Media Marketing blog: Avoid the "Just Following Up" Email, 2014-Jul-3 by Hendrik de Vries

The point is, you don’t get any value out of the emails you receive that say, “Just checking in” so stop sending them out to your clients and prospects and start sending something of value. ... 

Here's where he really hits home:

80% of sales are made on the Fifth to Twelfth contact... However...

Only 10% of sales people make it more than Three contacts with a prospect...

His solution includes "create a follow up plan or method that works with your industry and your personality" and I highly recommend the entire article: How to Write the "Following Through" Email.

80% of sales are made on the Fifth to Twelfth contact - See more at:
80% of sales are made on the Fifth to Twelfth contact - See more at:
80% of sales are made on the Fifth to Twelfth contact - See more at:

How social media practices influence CRM

The graphic below emphasizes how customer expectations have changed because of social media. But users of CRM tools have drastically changed their expectations as well. It's becoming more and more important that the CRM tools you are using pull all the relevant social media accounts and posts into the customer view.

When choosing a CRM tool, look at the social media being used by your customers and make sure it can be integrated into the workflow. Fanhub's Socially Inspired CRM Infographic, 2014-Jun-17 by Jessica Carter

Fanhub infographic

How to find a place to contribute

Whether we are are looking for an assignment or a job, we have to find a problem to solve.

By the time a job description or RFP is written, the pain point that created the need has been obscured. Many more layers of "nice to have" skills and whistles have been added. The experience required to solve the problem has been pre-supposed, often inaccurately. No questions are posed to the applicant.

How to find a place to contribute?

We have to become curious with every professional we meet. They love to talk about their work. We don't inquire about titles or responsibilities. We ask them what are they doing? And we gradually shift the discussion to their challenges.

Liz Ryan of Human Workplace has a list of questions that we could copy into our notebooks and ask during an interview.

Forbes: How to Probe for Pain in a Job Interview, 2014-Jul-5 by Liz Ryan

  1. So it sounds like you’re dealing with _________. How long has that been going on?

  2. How does it show up? How did that problem get the attention of your management team, and its current priority?

  3. What bad effect does ______ have on your business? Why is it a problem?

  4. What is _____ costing you, roughly? (If the Pain takes the form of missed opportunity, the question is “How much are you leaving on the table?”)

  5. What have you tried so far, to relieve _____? (You need to know, so you don’t suggest something that already failed.)

  6. How did it work when you tried that? (It couldn’t have worked all that well, or you’d be talking about a different Business Pain.)

  7. What is the appetite here in the organization for solving this problem? (Is this your hiring manager’s own pet project, or is there organizational support for it?)

  8. What is the ideal state, let’s say a year from now? (What does pain relief look like to your hiring manager?)

  9. Since the problem is costing you roughly $X per year (from question Four, above) what have you budgeted to relieve it? (This will help get you over the hump, “We have a forty-million dollar problem and we’re creating one sixty-thousand-dollar job to solve it.” REALLY, Jackson?)

  10. What’s your timeline for solving the problem?

How to be referable

Face-to-face networking has always been a big part of my life, even though I'm very introverted and drained by busy meetings. Michael Katz does a good job of reminding us how to make the most of it.

The problem we solve is... "we're not getting as much as we could from our customers." 'As much' could refer to repeat sales, loyalty, referrals or profitability. We're positioned to fix those problems. At Steady CRM, "We get loyalty."

Blue Penguin Development: What Problem Do You Solve?, 2014-Jun-19 by Michael Katz

If you want to win at the word of mouth game, you need to make it as easy and obvious as possible for other people to bring you to mind when a problem you can fix arises.

Learning from the PayPal mafia

PayPal's early path may well have changed the face of entrepreneurship, but the agile/lean lessons are not what inspire me. When building teams we often spend so much time worrying about skills and experience that we forget that trust and commitment come first.

TechRepublic: How the 'PayPal Mafia' redefined success in Silicon Valley, 2014-Jul-5 by Conner Forrest

The PayPal Mafia is often referred to as a "network" of people, but Thiel is hesitant to describe what PayPal achieved as the work of a network.

"I prefer the word friendship to networks, and I think the critical piece was that some incredibly deep friendships were forged. I think that is what's very underrated in our world today," Thiel said.

Part of what PayPal's culture was rebelling against was transactional work relationships. By developing and maintaining actual friendships, the PayPal Mafia was able to remain invested in one another's success and committed to seeing each other change the world.

Our constantly changing perspective

To benefit from experience we have to make sure its incorporated into our plans and perspectives. We have to keep changing constantly in response. Our plans have to evolve. Even our values.

Brainpickings: 20-Year-Old Hunter S. Thompson's Superb Advice, 2013-Nov-4, Excerpted by Maria Popova

Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective....

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal) he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

Innovating with a safety net

To defend our business, we have to keep improving, but many of us don't want the anxiety of testing new things.

As Steve Blank points out, we don't have to go out on a big dangerous limb. If we keep our improvements small and get them in front of customers immediately, we'll know if we're on the right track.

Xconomy: Keep Calm and Test the Hypothesis, 2014-Jun-23 by Steve Blank

A proper MVP, Blank argued in that video, is a prototype with the smallest possible feature set that still shows potential customers how your idea can help them. Once you have an MVP, in Blank's process, you need to show it to customers, and get their feedback.