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May 21 18

Silo-Busting, We Have To Look Outside Our Own Functions/Silos!

by David Brock

The poet, John Donne, wrote,  “No (wo)man is an island, entire of itself; every (wo)man is a piece of the continent.”

Donne’s point is that none of us and what we do exists in isolation, we are part of a bigger thing–a family, a community, a nation.  Alternatively a department/function, an organization, a company, a market ecosystem…..

“Well dughhhh Dave, what’s your point?”

The problem is, too many functions within our companies tend to act as “islands.”  I suppose it’s human nature, we all tend to focus on our jobs, our goals, what we do.  Over time, we lose focus on why we are doing these things or who we are doing these for.  What we do becomes ends in themselves.

Perhaps we are in marketing.  We focus on the things marketers do, achieving our goals and objectives.  It may be new marketing programs, in may be lead gen programs, it may be something else.  But ask sales what they think, “The leads are crap, marketing materials aren’t what I need….”  (I’ll get to the sales side of this, so if you are a marketer, don’t despair).  Or we paper customers with endless emails, offers, or other spam–always ratcheting up the volumes because they aren’t responding.

Perhaps we are in sales enablement.  We focus on training, tools, programs to help, “enable sales people.”  But too often, we find the sales people aren’t using them, or they have taken the training, but it doesn’t have an impact.

Perhaps we are in sales, we’re goal focused, our managers push us to make quota, so we push our products, focusing on transactions, trying to close deals.  Yet our customers don’t want to see us, they are concerned with what they are concerned with.

And our customers are focused on their own worlds, doing what they do, often just trying to survive.

We all tend to focus on ourselves, what we do becomes the center of our universe/focus.  Doing our jobs, achieving our goals is the center of what we do and how we behave.  Buy in doing this, we lose why our jobs and roles were created, in the first place.

The reality is this isn’t working, this “closed” view of the world keeps us from achieving our goals and objectives, it prevents us from growing as individuals, organizations, and communities.

It’s amazing how things change, how the results we produce change, how our views of the “world” change, when we change our perspective.

When we start looking beyond ourselves, beyond our jobs, beyond our functions, we suddenly connect and start to become more effective and impactful.

At the most root level, none of our jobs/roles exist in isolation.  They exist in the context of something else, a customer, other functions in the organization, other people.

Go back to the roots of “efficient manufacturing.”  Each step in the manufacturing process exists to serve that “downstream” step or customer.  The way we build effective manufacturing processes is by starting at the end of the process, working our way backwards, defining what we need to serve/support those downstream customers.  The moment that focus is lost, the process starts to fail.

We need to continue to focus on those people who are our customers, they are the why for the existence of our roles.  If what we do isn’t helpful or impactful to what they are trying to achieve, then what we are doing has not value.

We know silos don’t work, we know we have to look outside ourselves, our jobs, our functions if we are going to be impactful and achieve our own goals.

But why is is so difficult to do this?  Why do we forget?

 

 

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May 17 18

We Need To Stop Our Fixation On Buyer Journeys

by David Brock

Recently, I participated in a discussion on “the buyers journey.”  In some ways, I suppose I should have been happy that we were at least focused on the buyer, normally we obsess about our products/solutions and how we inflict them on our customers.

We do need to be focused on our customers and what they are trying to achieve.  But is the “buying journey” the right target of our attention?  Are we being as helpful as we can be, are we creating as much value with our buyers as possible with just a focus on the buying journey?

As much as we’d like to think the primary mission of our customers is to buy and we want to be aligned with them, the reality is far different.  Buying is just a small part of what our customers are concerned about–and probably the least important part of their concerns.

Our customers focus on a number of things.  At the simplest level, it’s just doing their jobs.  Making sure they accomplish the goals they have in place, doing what their managers are holding them accountable to do.  At higher levels, they are focused on identifying and addressing new opportunities.  It may be developing new products, addressing new markets, growing their relationships with their customers, improving their own performance, building capacity and capability.

Sometimes, their attention is focused on problems or issues they may be having–defining them, evaluating solutions, implementing solutions, correcting performance deficiencies, improving their operations, reducing costs, improving quality, and so forth.

At the root of any of this, is change and change management.

The important point here, whether it’s keeping things going, operating normally, or addressing opportunities, or problems, or managing change, the context is very broad.  It may or may not involve buying anything.

As we dive into these issues, we learn that buying, if any buying is involved is just a small part of what the customer is trying to achieve.  And their buying may not be just about our products/solutions, they may be looking to buy a whole number of things.  That’s because what they are trying to do isn’t just about us.

Being buyer focused is important–it’s far better than being focused on pitching our products.

But if we really want to understand and engage our customers, we have to recognize that buying activities and journeys are the smallest part of what our customers are concerned about in addressing opportunities, problems, and driving change in their organizations.  If we want to create great value with our customers, we should focus on where they are investing most of their time.

 

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May 17 18

Structure Isn’t Strategy…..

by David Brock

In a recent conversation, a colleague made a very astute observation, “Structure isn’t strategy, structure it there to support the implementation/execution of strategy.”

It was so simple and obvious when he stated it, but too often, I think we forget this as we drive performance in our organizations.  We make our strategy about the “structures” we put in place–whether it’s the organizational structure, or the methodologies/tools/processes we use.  They become the ends, in themselves, rather than the means.

As things move forward, and we struggle to meet our goals, we focus on these structures, often loosing site of what we are trying to do and why.  We never revisit our strategies, focusing instead on the structures we have put in place.  Inevitably, all our work on structure doesn’t achieve the outcomes we want.  We have lost sight of the fact the issue may not be the structures, but the strategies themselves.

There’s also a tight linkage between the strategies and structures.  Sometimes, we focus all our efforts on the strategy, failing to put the right structures in place to implement/execute our strategies.  We try to move forward, but fail, because we haven’t put the right structures in place.

Ultimately, we learn that one doesn’t make sense without the other.  We need strategy, we need structures, we have to understand each, how they interlink, and how we optimize both to achieve our goals.

 

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May 14 18

Getting What You Get Or Getting What You Want?

by David Brock

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been sitting in a number of pipeline and deal reviews.  While the companies are in very different businesses, different solutions, different sales processes, different sales force maturities; I’ve noticed some patterns:

  1. Deal quality is not where it need be.
  2. Average deal sizes seem to be eroding.
  3. Average sales cycles are increasing.
  4. Win rates are declining.
  5. People are struggling, but working very hard.

They are closing deals, but things are very tough, and people are working very hard.  Somehow, they aren’t hitting their goals.

As we dive into their pipelines, I start seeing, the deals aren’t really the deals they want, they are the deals they are getting.

By this, I mean, as people start struggling with their numbers, they start relaxing their qualifying criteria.  They start chasing deals further outside their ICP or sweet spot.    As they struggle with these deals, they tend to cast wider and wider nets,   They win a few here and there, but they aren’t the best types of deals, and the work to get them was too difficult.

It takes tremendous courage to focus, exclusively, on the right deals–those fitting your ICP and right in the middle of your sweet spot.  These are the deals we really want!  Ironically, these are the deals that are “easier” to get, that is, they are the right deals, they are areas where we have proven success.

It would seem natural, particularly as times are tough, to focus viciously on these deals.

But our minds, and, perhaps, our managers, don’t work that way.  Rather than doubling down on deals in our sweet spot, we chase anything that responds, we confuse activity with purposefulness.

Over time, we find we have drifted further and further from our Ideal Customer.  The deal quality declines, the work to get each deal increases, our win rates decline, sales cycles lengthen.

We end up settling for deals that aren’t the best and working too hard for those.

What would happen, if we changed our perspectives, focusing viciously on what we want, rather than what we get.   If we focus on our sweet spot, we will get what we want–and our ability to generate quality business will sky rocket.

What kinds of deals are you getting?

 

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