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Vol. 10 No. 12 - December 2011

Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson

Interview: Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson

Co-authors of The Challenger Sale

"More than half (53%) of customer loyalty is a result, not of what we sell, but how we sell."

Get our podcast interview.

Also in This Month's Issue


In the News: Quick Takes

Taking My Own Advice, by Roger Parker

Are You in a Comfort Zone?

Why Sydney Finkelstein Says Think Again

Is Your Business Ready for these Tech Platforms?

Coming Attractions: Dan Roam



WPSS Buy It Banner

It's getting to be that time of year again. You may end up with a little downtime, and that's a perfect opportunity to hatch your plans for the coming year.

Lots of people I talk to are considering new projects--launching a blog, conducting an industry study, or writing a book. Even the best-laid plans, though, can fizzle if you ignore one simple reality: To undertake a major new initiative, you've got to let go of something else.

There are only so many hours in a day. Chances are, yours are mostly spoken for. So how do you squeeze something new into the mix, without losing quality or your sanity?

The answer lies in the advice we often give to clients--find a trade-off. What will you alter or no longer do so you can make the most of the new activity you want to pursue? And you can't say, "I'll sleep less."

For example, is there a time-consuming element of your marketing program that's not really working for you? Can you scale back or eliminate that activity? What else in your business consumes your time but doesn't serve you as well as you'd like? Maybe you can find another way to accomplish the same goal.

Whatever you decide about your plans for next year, resist the urge to pile a new initiative on top of everything else before you've considered the possible trade-offs.

Enjoy the Holidays and this month's issue, and send me an email if you have comments.

Michael W. McLaughlin, Editor
Author of Winning the Professional Services Sale and Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants
Principal, MindShare Consulting LLC

Stay in touch


In the News: Quick Takes

These simple (but often overlooked) pointers can improve the quality of your Google searches.

Speaking of Google, here are some tips to set up your business presence on Google+.

Are any of your passwords on this list of the worst passwords you can possibly use?

You might be surprised by what this piece has to say about The Most Powerful Workplace Motivator. It turns out that, to get positive recognition, salespeople will give up the chance to make more money.

What are the risks of a CEO transition? Here's a link to an exhaustive study by FTI Consulting on what to expect when there's a change of CEO.

Is Facebook taking over the internet? These amazing stats on Facebook usage will likely be even higher by the time you read this.

This is a useful article by Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson on the implications of the rift between sales and marketing functions. Also, don't miss our podcast with Dixon and Adamson on top performing sellers in this month's issue.

According to Intel: More Data Was Transmitted Over the Internet in 2010 Than All Previous Years Combined.

Letter from New Zealand: Taking My Own Advice
Roger Parker

By Roger Parker

As a professional researcher and consultant, one of my jobs for clients is tracking where their business and brand equity are coming from. Based on the results, clients can build on the areas that are effective in generating business and dial down those with lower impact.

In a strange irony, like the builder whose house renovations never end, I'd only paid cursory attention to this type of analysis for my own business. I'd glance at what brought business to me, make assumptions about what was working--without any hard analysis--and continue doing what I thought should work.

When the recession hit in 2008, I got some unwelcome spare time. New business slowed by 75% and my existing clients cut their budgets. Suddenly, after operating comfortably since 2001, it looked as if the tap was turning off and I would have very little work.

Then, I took a dose of my own medicine. I went back through every transaction of new and existing business and analyzed how and why I got it. Some came from the company website, some from referrals, and some from product sales. What stood out was that, while those three sources accounted for most of the work that came in, almost 70% of my effort and cost for new business generation was devoted to other areas.

Read more of Taking My Own Advice.

Are You in a Comfort Zone?
comfort zone

It's tempting to blame forces beyond our control, especially the economy and unreasonable clients, for thwarting the best efforts to grow a business. Anyone can point to instances when these factors foiled well-conceived plans. Just as often, though, the reasons for lack of growth lie within us--and nowhere else.

Anyone who has trained for an athletic event or tried to slim down knows what it feels like to hit a plateau. It's frustrating when you stop making progress toward your goals, even though you're faithfully sticking to your program. Fitness experts say that, with consistent effort, your body becomes more efficient at meeting demands, resulting in a plateau. In other words, when you become comfortable at a higher level of performance, your progress slows or stops.

It's just as possible to get too comfortable in your work habits, and then you risk hitting a professional plateau. That can easily happen if you stay in your comfort zone--what experts call an "anxiety-neutral" state. If you rely on a limited set of behaviors to bring about desired results, without putting much at risk, you create a comfortable place to be. But a comfort zone can also be insidious.

Read more about comfort zones in the article in The Guerrilla Consultant.

Why Sydney Finkelstein Says Think Again
Sydney Finkelstein

Sydney Finkelstein is a professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, and the author of Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions and How to Keep It from Happening to You.

I asked Finkelstein: If you were to give us one piece of advice on how we could make better decisions, what would it be?

Finkelstein: My advice would be to assume that, as a decision maker, you are inherently biased. Our brains have filed away all kinds of experiences and emotions. Most of that brain activity is at a subconscious level, and it leads us to think in a particular way, creating bias.

That's the reality for everyone, and why we called this book Think Again. In a sense, what happens at the subconscious level is not rational. Past events, emotions, and prejudgments influence us toward particular choices. And so we need to think again. Let's not be naÔve. Everyone is subject to these influences. They're much more powerful than any individual has the ability to resist.

Given that, let's always consider what safeguards we need to put in place to reduce the odds that we're going to fall into the trap of our own biases. I don't know that you can eliminate that danger, but you can reduce it.

Read the rest of my interview with Sydney Finkelstein, Think Again before You Decide.

Is Your Business Ready for These Tech Platforms?

According to researchers at eMarketer, by 2014 in the US alone:

  • Tablet users will make up 35.6% of internet users.
  • The number of adults using e-readers will reach 53.9 million.
  • Smartphones users will number 133 million.

Can your business deliver a consistent client experience across these platforms?

US Tablet and Smartphone Use
Coming Attractions: Dan Roam
Dan Roam

"Powerful as words are, we fool ourselves when we think our words alone can detect, describe, and defuse the multifaceted problems of today."

For next month's podcast, I'll talk with Dan Roam, author of the new book, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH: What To Do When Words Don't Work. In it, Roam continues his mission to help us solve problems and sell ideas more effectively by tapping the power of visual communication.

He's written two other bestsellers on that topic: The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Picture, and Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures. Roam joins us to talk about how we can use pictures to think better, communicate more clearly, and eliminate unnecessary complexity from our lives.

Look for the next issue of Management Consulting News on January 3, 2012.


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