No need for words. This work was done by Jason Healey – and I have half-inched it from here.
Ever felt like that in a meeting?
No need for words. This work was done by Jason Healey – and I have half-inched it from here.
Ever felt like that in a meeting?
This is a guest blog from www.thinkpurpose.com – it is an amazing site with a focus on systems thinking, I think have nearly read ever post on it.
I have blogged about systems thinking before and what agencies could learn from it here, in particular William Deming’s 14 points for management see here and how a system can encourage cheating see here especially in new business departments.
I particularly liked this post so he allowed me to publish it here. You should check out all of his post on the frustration of becoming a systems thinker it is very much like taking the red pill – see his post here called the Marx Matrix.
So the question is how unproductive is your agency and could it change?
No, it’s art. It’s the minimum wage machine!
The minimum wage machine allows anybody to work for minimum wage. Turning the crank will yield one penny every 4.97 seconds, for $7.25 an hour (NY state minimum wage). If the participant stops turning the crank, they stop receiving money. [link]
So, it’s art more than it’s work. But if you weren’t in an art gallery, instead in a normal office doing something similarly as futile as turning a crank, would you be doing work?
Science says YES! In physics, work is defined as when a force (your hand) does work that results in movement (the crank). So when the crank turns, hey presto, there’s the work. The tinkle of one penny falling down the chute every 4.97 seconds rewards the worker for the work, hey presto, there’s the pay. Work done, worker rewarded.
Most organisations haven’t progressed beyond this approach. If you do what is asked, turning a crank or turning out a report, then that’s considered work. A fellow Onion-patch dweller writes about their place of [cough] work:
“I am fairly sure that my current ‘meh’ attitude to (some of) my work is interpreted by my management as boredom or beneath-me-ness, when really it’s a quiet protest about how utterly pointless and valueless it is.
Knitting fog doesn’t even begin to describe its meaningless futility… however it does still pay the mortgage, and if it’s worthless then it’s certainly a) not my fault, and b) not seen that way by the bosses. (This is both the problem, and the salve).”
What if work isn’t defined by what is presented as work, but as what actually adds value to the end (real) customer. This moves work from being something that is subjectively defined by people, plans, policies or prats, to something that can objectively be evaluated as either actual work or mere activity.
When I first learned about this I thought it revolutionary. With the idea of the customers needs defining value, it moves work from turning cranks for pennies every 4.97 seconds to an exciting race of discovery. What actually adds value? If you work on a core process that begins and ends with the customer, this continuous excavation of value is exciting enough, but if you don’t then what are you? What is the work that you do? If support work then that is whatever is needed to enable the core work to be done, or to be done better. So if filling in pot holes needs asphalt, then procurement is pulled as an activity to buy asphalt. There it is. Still objective, no guessing needed.
Problem is this is not how organisations think. Work is still considered to be mainly “work to be done“, not “value to be added“. According to this here:
Typically [...] you will find that only 5% of activities add value, this can rise to 45% in a service environment. [link]
The Japanese word Muda covers it nicely.
Muda is a Japanese word meaning “futility; uselessness; idleness; superfluity; waste; wastage; wastefulness”
Anything that doesn’t add value, yet is done at a place of work, is not work it is Muda.
Or better still, it is…
Pretend work is bad enough, but if you KNOW it is…
…and you continue to do it, pretending to do pretend work, that is double the…
As the lovely statistic above stated, only about 5% of activity in an organisation is work, the other 95% is what pretends to be work. This handily is a nice law…
This is a controversial position to take in most organisations. People like to feel valuable and identify with their activity. “Doing” is the currency of success, and questioning the fundamental values of people doesn’t make you any friends, but I would like to be the Queen of Sheba idly eating grapes and I’m not.
The reality is that work is activity that adds value to the end customer, that waste activity is not work, that E really does equal mc² and that…
Musturbation causes myopia and in severe causes blindness although it can be cured.
Read on to find out if it is happening where you work and how you can stop this anti-social behaviour.
Musturbation according to Ellis is the cause of anxiety and stress in general and other nasty mental infliction humans give to themselves. Oh yes, Ellis is crystal clear you cause your disturbances so maybe you should consider un-doing them.
So what is musturbation? In short it is an irrational belief. A belief that things ‘must’ go your way and if they don’t it’s a catastrophe. So if you are saying I must, I must… or they must, they must… then you are musturbating. Dirty!
And if it stresses you out you’re a serial musturbator and as Ellis states that is “unethical, for when you allow yourself to become emotionally disturbed you are being unfair or unjust – to yourself.”
Musturbation leads in modern working life to stress, giving-upitis and procrastination. The sequence according to Ellis style thinking runs a little like this. I must not humiliate myself, I mustn’t ever be embarrassed, I must be liked, I must do well, I must win this or that, I must not make mistakes I must not make a fool of myself, I must not lose. Get it?
When this sort of pressure is piled on a few things may happen. The person may not start on the task at hand at all or constantly avoid it or delegate it maybe. The potential failure is too much to handle.
When people musturbate a failing experience becomes personal rather than just an event not going your way. Life, right? You failed doesn’t mean you are a failure. There are lots of factors and many of them external to you.
The other thing that happens mentally to aid procrastination is that people over ‘awfulize’.
So they believe if something goes wrong it will be a catastrophe rather than just bad. This is the distinction that Ellis was keen to talk with people about. He invented a form of therapy called RET (Rational Emotional Therapy), which is now superceded by CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy).
He believed that an activated event (A) would lead to one having beliefs, both rational and irrational about that event (B) and there would then be (C) consequence. To over come these belief you have to (D) dispute those beliefs that were irrational and then arrive at (E) an effective rational philosophy. He believed it wasn’t (A) that caused (C) but (B) your beliefs about the event.
Ellis believed that if we were more rational and honest with ourselves and others we could live more fulfilling lives. If instead of saying we must, replace with ‘we’d like to’ or even ‘really, really like to’.
Or ‘we’d prefer something went our way’ or ‘prefer something didn’t happen’. But consider it may. Shit happens right. Life is like that. Life can be a hassle. But it’s not the end of the world and it’s not a catastrophe. A sense of perspective is required
Ellis used to get his clients to think and talk about the absolute worse thing that could happen to them. Then he’d ask them to rationally talk about how their lives could in fact go on and still be fulfilling and fun.
His clients had been over catastrophising the event(s) due to musturbation. Things must not got bad for me, as if they’re at the centre of the universe. Ellis hated this self obsession. “Who says you are important?” …”Who says things can’t go wrong for you?”…”Why must people like you?”…”Where does it say people must accept you?”…”Who told you that life was easy, where is that written, prove it to me?”
He’d ask – “Where is your evidence for these mighty claims’” he’d ask, ”Show me the rules of the universe.” Isn’t it more rational to say you’d like people to like you or you’d prefer things not go belly up? It’d be nice if my dreams come true and so on. And what if they don’t? Can’t you start again? So what if you lost some money or someone said something horrid behind your back or cheated you in some way. How bad is it really? Bad, right. Annoying. But not a disaster.
All humans are fallible so things will go wrong, you might not like it and it maybe upsetting, in fact it should be, but it’s not the end of the world and you probably learned something too. You don’t control the universe. In fact you can’t control much at all but you can control your own thoughts and therefore your beliefs.
Your thoughts and beliefs will determine how you feel. Ellis wanted people to be more rational about how they viewed the annoying events in their lives. And realised other people can be right arseholes but hey ho, they are allowed to be. In fact we all are sometimes. The problem is one may believe they must not be or how dare they and get over emotional i.e. rage, stressed, i can’t go on, depressed etc
Ellis would get his clients to deliberately humiliate themselves to show them it wasn’t so bad…..go do a speech and feel the failure, mess it up see what happens. Not much in fact. Go talk with people you are worried or scared off, see what happens you get the idea.
So what has this got to do with agencies?
Firstly, if my ears don’t deceive me clients can sometimes be a little, how can I put this carefully ….annoying, irritating, badly organised, pressuring and so on. Agency people get stressed about this – i.e. by thinking they must not be like this – how dare they…they must respect me more, they should or must respect my time too, they must not be on my case all the time and so on…that is musturbation. Has anyone banged that one out in your office?
Another one that I cum (couldn’t resist) across is we must win this pitch. Like failure isn’t an option. When really they could say, “We’d love to win, we hope we win it, we will do our best to win it, why not.” But we must….there in is musturbation.
What about when prospects ask, “Why should we work with you?”….Well Ellis points out that ‘should’ is the cousin of ‘must’. Well they don’t have to do they? How many agencies are there? Thousands, right?
However, I expect by now you are banging on about creativity being equally important as strategy here in our integrated agency blah, blah, blah…..In fact that isn’t rational is it?. “Maybe they should and maybe they shouldn’t. How are they going know if your agency is a good fit for their company / brand?” Isn’t that what we could be saying back? Wouldn’t it be better to have rational adult to adult conversation with prospects? A great way to differentiate yourself is the truth. Remember that? Truth sells.
What about when clients or prospects ask us about ROI or potential future changes in sales. A tricky one right. So what’s the truth? Well the truth is what have you done in the past. If you are like most fallible agencies you have done really well with some campaigns and you have fucked up too.
So tell them that you have smashed it out of the park for this brand and that brand although that doesn’t mean things always go our way. Truth. Rational.
What is a prospect more likely to believe an agency that always says they over achieve or an agency that has done good work and sometimes shit happens (truth). This will also help you avoid taking on a client that expects miracles. Miracles that you promised. So now you both believe that something or some result must happen. Mutual musturbation. I am sure that never happened in your agency but I have had an eyeful of that now and then.
Look for your irrational beliefs in your head and that the agency holds. Look for words like must and should in your thought. Then dispute them mentally or write them down. Why must we, why should they? Where is the evidence?
Look for clients and prospect asking you for irrational requests that are why should we, or you must. Then either understand they are being irrational and they are allowed to be because people are fallible and don’t get upset because of it. Or if you are brave enough rationally discuss with them about the situation / request.
Agency life could be much happier if we were more rational about what may or may not happen, even if we work hard. Cracks appear when management musturbate and employees eventually either join in the charade or jump bunks and clients don’t believe you can do what you said.
This is a guest post by Alex and Dexter Moscow which is why for once you don’t have to put up with bad grammar and spelling . However, more importantly it is great advice for agencies. And nicely deals with a bugbear of mine, bloody power point presentations.
Picture this – you are sitting in a room. The lights are dimmed so you can see the screen that dominates the front of the room, even more clearly. The projector is humming ominously, hung like a sword of Damocles above your head or splitting the room down the middle.
A huddle of people are hunched over a computer trying to make the machine ‘speak’ to the projector and the USB key yield the information contained within its microscopic diodes.
There’s a hush as the screen flickers and the first of countless slides fills your vision.
Eventually the speaker starts to talk. 3 slides in you’re already confused by the morass of half discernible, bullet pointed, floated in, faded out and clip ‘arted’ information.
By slide 5 you start to lose the will to live and do what you always do when you’re bored, faced with a glimmering screen, in an over warm environment – fall asleep.
So who is really suffering death by PowerPoint?
Not the audience, they’re sleeping peacefully.
It’s the presenter.
Are you the Monkey or the Organ Grinder?
When you let PowerPoint do the driving, you miss a golden opportunity to make the personal and emotional impact needed to be influential.
If you’re letting PowerPoint get in the way of you achieving your presentation goals, the following may offer some help and insights to enable you to make the most of your professional speaking engagements.
Here are 7 Golden Rules that will ensure you don’t die at the front of the room and have a stream of people queuing for a 1-2-1 at the end.
1. Ask Yourself, Do I Really Need To Use Power Point?
PowerPoint can be an exceptional presentation tool when used well but all too often it acts as an aid memoir to the presenter, rather than deliver valuable and relevant information.
This leads to slides heavy with written content that forces your audience to read rather than listen. If you’re really concerned (and many people are) that you’ll forget what you want to say here are a couple of processes that will help you remember.
First, write out you talk in full. Re-read it and chunk it down to paragraphs. Then, from those paragraphs identify keywords and place them on a cue card and if necessary keep it in the palm of our hand. You’ll be amazed how few times you will actually refer to it.
Alternatively, have your key points written down on some paper and if you feel that you’ve missed something important out, go ahead and look at it. Tell the audience that this is what you are doing.
Let them know that what you have to tell them is important and you want to make sure you haven’t missed anything vital. They’ll be more than happy for you to check your notes.
2. Find Alternatives to PowerPoint
Sure there’s some information that can only be delivered visually but you don’t have to use PowerPoint. Consider how much more effective your visuals would be on a mood board, a flip chart or a document distributed around the audience.
3. Make Yourself the Focus of Attention
Include slides that have nothing on them, step in to the light and regain the centre of the room. Or, horror of horrors, turn the bl…dy thing off. Use another illustrative medium to make your point and turn the computer back on only when it’s needed.
4. Engage, Re-engage & Retain their attention.
You only have 7 seconds to impress your audience; you then have only 30 seconds to motivate them to listen to you further. Then every 7 – 10 minutes you have to do something to re-engage with them.
You have to hit the ATTENTION RESET BUTTON.
With the advent of sophisticated software and higher memory capacity it is easy and very impactful to incorporate video into your slide show. Consider how powerful YouTube is. It’s not about high production values it’s about the message.
Use music. The relevant song lyric, orchestration or sound track has tremendous emotional weight to create a mood or atmosphere.
Appropriate vivid imagery, not clipart, is another way of keeping your audience interested. If you’re intending to use photos of well know people, choose carefully as you will be judged by the people you use.
5. No, Thank Yous
One of the mistakes I see too often in slide presentations concerns the last slide. How many times have we seen it say, THANK YOU for your attention or QUESTIONS or CONTACT INFORMATION?
Consider this; the last slide is the one that stays up the longest. It’s there while you are answering questions. It’s there when you are being thanked for your presentation.
It should contain your key selling message, your EBook, your ‘white paper’ or your compelling reason for people to do business with you. It does the selling for you so that you don’t have to.
6. Get Your Audience Writing
How do you know if you are really connecting with your audience? When they do what you ask them to do.
This is one of the times when you can read your slide. By instructing people to write you are conveying the fact that this information is important, valuable and worth remembering.
When they are writing they are buying because they are showing you that they also consider what you have shown them to be of value.
It also tells you that you have got it right and the information you have offered has hit the mark.
Identify who is taking notes as these are the people you should approach after the presentation.
7. Get Them Discussing
Interaction with your audience is the key to gaining the emotional connection you need to gain their buy-in and trust.
Use PowerPoint to trigger discussion. Perhaps put a challenging statement on the screen and get the audience to discuss it amongst themselves and then report back their findings.
If done well it could help identify how they feel about a particular challenge and help direct the rest of the talk.
Never assume you know what problems your audience is feeling. Get them to verbalise them. This will give you the opportunity to tell a story of how you resolved this situation for a client.
Remember, it’s not what you do it’s what you have done for others. That what ‘sells’.
Here’s a bonus rule. It’s not really a rule, more a mindset.
Have fun with your presentations. With that in mind, here’s an amusing but very informative video of how not to use PowerPoint:
For example if you want to be treated better stop chasing every single opportunity, stop traipsing around presenting the same old stuffy creds. You know the sort of yawn inducing stuff.
Creds like – We are the best kept secret in marketing (Aren’t we all? You need to do better marketing that will stop you being a secret, oh the irony). We are truly (thank heavens they put the word truly in) integrated and really love brands (do you now?). We employ great people (handy) and offer a compelling mix of strategy and brand building (hooray). On so on….
Do you not think a prospect has an agency just like that already? Are they just waiting to be an agency that is truly integrated or has great (wacky) people who love brands?
I haven’t made any of these up, this is what real agencies say on their sites and powerpoint / slide show creds. Me, me ,me. Look at ME. We are the best, just like the last agency you hired and fired… because they weren’t.
So you all get treated the same. You look the same, you sound the same. So how can a prospect treat you differently? In fact why not play you all off against each other and drive down your prices and get you to do free stuff. Gulp!
I know your agency doesn’t dear reader. But can you believe that some agencies do work for free? They do, I’ve met them. Not you, others. They say stuff like this to me, “yeah they said do this research and idea generation for free and there’s more work that will be well paid around the corner”….Can you believe they fall for that? How comes they have no money now but will around the corner what will change?
Then they moan that the give the paid work to an agency with self-esteem and who value their own work and time. How dare they? Act like a dog… look like a dog…..woof , woof. Oh and like a dog they do it again and again and again.
What did Einstein say about insanity?
Anyone could write a standard marketing agency site today. Laughably – it still takes them 6 months to write dull stuff. I can only assume the same thing happens internally that happens with their clients.
Everyone gets involved until a good idea is so watered down it is as exciting as tofu and boiled rice. Shall we make the logo bigger? Does it mention we can do anything and everything? Oh and please, don’t forget the wacky pictures of your staff that tell us something crazy about them. Prospects love that bit the most. It’s all about relationships after all and we must look friendly and other myths.
I have heard countless times from agency people that they wished they were treated better by prospects and even clients.
So what is to be done?
Well firstly stop focusing on you (me, me, me) and think more like a prospect (them, them ,them). What are they worried about, how did the last agency let them down. What are they trying to do and how are they being measured?
See a prospect has issues to solve and often those issues involve things like increasing sales and market-share, this over time may help them build a stronger brand. If they do that they get promoted and reduce their stress levels too.
For example it strikes me that too often prospects make the mistake of appointing an agency on enthusiasm rather than say experience or ability to produce results. That’s crazy isn’t it? So why not say, “At agency Pluto you pay for results not enthusiasm. We have seen first hand the issues that marketers have once that start working with the enthusiastic agency folk. Never ending meetings that never produce great marketing and loads of yes people never helping you product stand out. Targets get missed and you get them upstairs on your case, again!”
(What would you expect that agency to be like – without them blatantly saying so?)
“Marketers come to us when they are fed up with their agency passing their work off to junior teams, or get peeved with the quantity of meetings it takes to get simple things done. Other marketing directors we work with are under pressure to increase sales or claw back lost market share. They are underwhelmed by their agency’s ability to produce quality work that impacts on sales. It’s not always easy and we may argue over what works and what doesn’t but we think that is what you pay us for.”
(What would you expect that agency to be like – without them blatantly saying so?)
As the optician say ‘ do you see” is it “better or worse?”
Being different carries risk.
You will stand out.
You make not get positive reactions all the time? You may appear negative to some. But here’s the point you don’t need many new prospects that become clients you probably need a few.
So find your few and then ask your few if they know a few others like them, ie asking for referrals over cold calling and DMing your creds around town. (Like I was going to miss out the opportunity to talk about referrals). Most of your new business comes from referrals and you don’t ask you big clients for referrals. Dumb, right? Start now and here’s how.
The mind shift that may help you act differently is instead of having in your mind when you meet a prospect for the first time – how do I win this prospect over or how do I make them like me. Change to, how do I find out why they would change agency and how comes they hired the wrong one last time? How much did hiring a bad agency cost them and how will they know if we can help them before we even start? What are they prepared to do differently next time? If the cheap stuff didn’t work how much more will they pay for quality work?
Brave. Not easy. But you will be perceived differently. And they will know they are dealing with pros. Prospects need better not different. Different gets us noticed which is job #1.
This is the part of the book where Dan Pink offers some great practical solutions for the modern sales person…all of us. Well nearly. Remember Pink makes the point that most us have to move or persuade someone during our day-to-day lives.
How do you ask better question and what are better questions?
Some answers are in ‘motivational interviewing’ – How do you motivate someone to do something, maybe buy something, without threats, punishments, rewards or coercing?
By tapping into their inner drives.
Michael Pantalon from Yale says “I’ve learned that rational questions are ineffective for motivating resistant people. Instead I’ve found irrational questions actually motivate people better.” – Lets just pause and re-read that for a moment.
Okay. Hands up (mine is) if you tried to convince someone by being rationale and just ended up banging your head against a wall as they dig their heels in harder and harder. So what is the solution?
Here’s his example in the book.
A daughter is procrastinating about studying. (Ever had a prospect procrastinate? No me neither. Ha ha.)
Now rather than saying, “Young lady, you must study” or “Please, please, please study for the test” Instead you ask two questions.
Qu 1) “On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 meaning ‘not the least bit ready’ and 10 meaning ‘totally ready’ how ready are you to study?”
After she offers her answer, move to -
Qu 2) “Why didn’t you pick a lower number?”
Question 2 is the one that catches everybody of guard, it’s like a pattern interrupt isn’t it? Most people don’t think in binary on and off or yes / no , so don’t ask binary question or what we used to call closed question, right? Remember those.
Importantly and this is brilliant as the daughter starts to explain why she is a 4 rather than a 3, she begins to announce her own reasons for studying? She starts to articulate why and how she’d like to change her behaviours to move towards 10. That says Pantalon allows her to clarify her personal, positive and intrinsic motives for studying, which increases the chances she actually will. She mover and motivates herself. She sells herself. Nothing for you to do, bar listen. This is the pinnacle of great salesman ship.
So on a scale of 1 to 10 how ready are you to try this idea and why isn’t your number lower?
How can agency new business agency people utilise this?
Well there are a few ways, one when talking about your proposal or in a pitch or after a face to face meeting.
On a scale of 1 to 10 how confident do you feel we answered your brief? Why so high?
On a scale of 1 to 10 how comfortable do you feel with working with us? Why not lower?
On a scale of 1 to 10 how comfortable would you feel referring us to other people like you? Why so high? (NPS style)
On a scale of 1 to 10 how ready are you to take the next steps about working together? Why not lower?
I’ve been using this for a while by the way and it is amazing and in mt experience if you are getting less than 6 out of 10′s you are way behind where you’d like to be and you may consider going for the ‘No.’ i.e. “Sounds like that we are way behind where you’d like us to be. I am guessing that there is no way we’d get you to a 9 or a 10 where we’d like to be for us to work together, is that fair? Here they tell you how to get to a 9 or 10 or they fall out of your prospect list.
Note – this is where in my opinion most new business people keep them in their sights, not understanding what needs to be done for them to buy. So they have a status report full or ‘Maybes’ and ‘Nos’ and not knowing which is which – so all prospects look equal when they are not.
Amateurs call it nurturing their leads. It looks and sounds good. But in fact it is pissing in the wind and used to make MDs and CEO feel happy i.e. look what might happen….but seldom does. Seldom does because you don’t have a clear understanding of what needs to happen and by when for them to move.
The 5 whys.
To find out the real problem ask 5 consecutive whys. Now I train this technique but (Pinks hates the word ‘but’ btw. But I disagree. He prefers and) I know, as do you, that 5 whys in a row even spread out of 30 mins has the potential to annoy a prospect.
Not that their shouldn’t be some tension in a sale see The Challenger Sale. Instead once you have thought about your 5 whys think about how you can change them to How or What questions – these are less interrogative and annoying.
Here’s the story I tell in face to face training sessions as Why questions.
I turn up late for work and my boss says “Why you late Jim?”
Me: “I missed the bus.”
Now, how could this problem be solved? Well, he could get me a bus time-table right? But my Boss is bright so he asks me a why question
Boss: “Why’d you miss the bus Jim?”
Me: “I overslept.”
Now, how could this problem be solved? Well, he could get me an alarm clock right? But my boss is bright so he asks me another why question.
Boss: “Why’d you over sleep Jim?”
Me: “I was up late drinking.”
Now we are getting closer to the truth or the real problem? But my Boss isn’t done yet, so he asks another one?
Boss: “Why’d you do that on a work night Jim?”
Me: “I am stressed at work and my workload is killing me, it’s the only way I can get to sleep.”
Boss: “Why you stressed about work Jim”
You get the point, now there are lots of short comings to this plot but now my Boss knows what the real issue is and if he was not so wise he’d have rushed in and solved the wrong issue with the wrong tool. Now he can solve the real problem or fire me of course, but the truth is there.
I think often
sales new business people do just that. E.g Prospect says – “Our marketing isn’t working so well.” New Biz – “Let me show you why we are so great….” or prospect says – “We are thinking of changing agency…” New Biz – “Lets me tell you why we are the best for you…”
Next Pink gives us different ways of pitching ideas. The one word pitch as advocated by Maurice Saatchi, whoever he is? Be associated with one word i.e. who would you associate with these words – “search’, ‘priceless’, ‘forward’.
The question pitch, like Ronald Reagan ‘Are you better now than you were 4 you ago?”…I’m a big fan f his approach. More agencies would do well to incorporate this in to their work.
The rhyming pitch e.g In the OJ Simpson trial his defence used, ‘If it doesn’t fit….you must acquit!”
The subject line pitch…this is for e-mail campaigns obviously. He looks at different ways of grabbing attention; utility v curiosity and specificity, it turns out the way you do a subject line depends on how many emails the recipient inbox has. ie how many they get a day / hour.
If they get loads of e-mail go for utility – ’3 ways to improve your current new business programme’ – if you get few e-mails go curiosity ‘some counterintuitive ideas on new business.’ 3 is better than some by the way.
The twitter pitch, most tweets are pointless. mainly because they are self centred..me, me, me….here is a pic of my lunch, I missed the bus…did you Jim? Why? Oh stop now!!
Similar rule to e-mail subject lines – be specific – ’3 ways to get attention’ is better than ‘ways to improve your tweets getting read’.
My favourite is the Pixar pitch. At the heart of Pixar’s success is the story inside its films (Nemo, Toy Story, Up, Ratatouille).
One exec there claims this is the Pixar code.
Once upon a time ___________________________________________.
Every day, _______________________. One day___________________
________________________. Because of that, ____________________.
Because of that,_____________________________________. Until finally
______________________. The End
Here is Dan’s story.
One day everything changed. All of us ended up in sales and sales changed from a world of caveat emptor to caveat venditor. Because of that, we had to learn the new ABCs, attunement, buoyancy and clarity. Because of that we had to learn more skills – to pitch, to improvise and to serve. Until finally we realised that selling isn’t some grim accommodation to a brutal marketplace culture. It’s part of who we are and therefore something we can do better by being more human.
Wouldn’t that look a hell of a lot better on your website than the usual stuff!
Pink confirms what most of us know in new business know at least that we should listen more than we talk. He quotes the Stoic philosopher Epictetus “Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.”
Put simply reduce the ratio you speak to listen. Or as Stephen Covey said “Seek first to understand then be understood.” Habit 5.
Advice includes, slow down, pause a bit, talk slower, walk slower.
His final chapter is Serve. You role is to serve. He talks about the concept of servant-leader. This concept came from an AT & T exec who argues that “the most effective leaders weren’t heroic, take charge commanders but instead were quieter, humbler types who animating purpose was to serve those nominally beneath them.
Greanleaf calls his notion “servant leadership” and explained that the order of those two words held the key to its meaning. ”The servant-leader is servant first. Becoming a servant leader begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to lead”
Those who embrace this idea learned to “do no harm” to respond to any problem by “listening first” and to accept and empathize rather than reject. Which is a harder way to manage than say command and control. But he argues in the long-term more effective. The test is do those you serve grow as people? Do they become healthier, wiser, freer and more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants themselves?
selling new business your role is to serve with the prospect’s best interest at heart and that may mean getting to the route of the issue rather than pushing your service as the answer to the first question. To serve first and sell later, if there is a fit. And if the person buys from you – will they they improve from that transaction. Will you do no harm?
To sell is to be human.
I pick up the phone to make some calls,
It’s my job and boy do I know the rules.
I phone around telling people we’re great,
Even though it’s a cold call they’ll probably hate.
Eventually, someone says they”ll see me,
So I make a presentation, feeling full of glee.
I get to their offices about half past three,
And we talk a bit, mainly about me.
He says he likes what I’ve got,
And he’ll let us pitch with the other lot.
I get back to base and we all start to shout,
“A pitch, a pitch” it’s what we’re about.
We gather the best available team,
And set about our unbeatable scheme.
We rush around spending money and time,
Making a pitch that will continue this rhyme.
A few weeks later and it’s time to pitch,
We do our stuff without a hitch.
We go to the pub, to get drunk as lords,
If they go with our work it’ll win awards.
We sit for weeks and wait and wait,
What the hell is making them hesitate?
The calls comes in and it’s bad news they say,
We came a close 2nd and we shout “Hooray!”
Second aint bad… is it mate?
I actually think we did really great.
You have to be in it to win it they say,
The win could happen any day.
I pick up the phone to make some calls….
A town called Referral.
These meetings won’t book themselves you know,
Get on the phone and give it a go.
You can’t expect the phone to ring,
You’re new around here and don’t know a thing.
But he doesn’t know what I just did,
I visited our oldest client, a man named Sid.
I visited him to see what he really thought,
And explained that it was a referral I sought.
He says he knows someone really well,
And would be happy on my behalf, to give them a bell.
He already knows that their marketing is poor,
And expects he’ll come our way if we offered better or more.
The phone then rings and as promised it’s them,
They’ve heard good things from Sid, could we be there by ten?
We talk a bit, mainly about them and their problems too,
How he knows Sid and what they’d like to do.
I say we can do it but it won’t be cheap,
Are you willing I say, are your pockets deep?
We talk about timings and budgets and price,
We do it civilly and we keep things nice.
He looks unsure, he seems to worry,
I say you don’t have to, no need to be sorry.
He says he’s not sold.
And I ask what Sid told?
He remembers his mate and what he’s achieved,
“I’d be a fool to refuse!” and we both walk away pleased.
If you keep Sid happy, others will be too,
Concentrate hard – on the work that you do!
If you have a good client you could easily have two,
See they all know each other, they stick together like glue.
In his latest book To Sell Is Human, Dan Pink explores the question, what does it mean to be in sales today?
What is a modern sales person’s role?
What will make you better at selling today?
If you don’t remember Dan Pink he was behind that lovely animation called The surprising truth about what motivates us . Which I expect most of you have seen before.
What can Dan’s new book teach those who work in agencies who are wondering how to grow their business? Shit loads is the answer.
Of course most people in marketing, advertising and design has already crossed
sales off their business card and replaced it with New Business or God forbid Head of Engagement.
A central theme to his book is a move from buyer beware (caveat emptor) to sell beware (caveat venditor).
He says “In a world where anybody can find anything with just a few keystrokes, intermediaries like sales people are superfluous.” Door to door sales man who characterised the 1960′s were a source of information and have more information than a buyer. Same goes for later periods with cold callers for example. Now however largely due to the internet and company website buyers can find out so much about an agency. for example.
A good illustration of what Pink is talking about is his research into car sales men. Firstly, his story about Joe Girard – the World’s Greatest Salesman. In one year he sold 1,425 cars. Individually, not fleet, what sales people in the US call belly to belly sales. Bloody Hell!
He hasn’t sold a car since 1977 mind you – but instead trains people how to sell stuff . Nothing has changed he tells us. ”The effect of the internet?”, Pink asks him. “I don’t need that crap!” he replies.
However much of a sales cliché Joe is he still has some good points “service, service, service” and just keep the referrals coming, everyone who buys a car will know someone else who one day will need a car. That is the value in your customers, their referrals. Not just what they spent with you, but who they tell about your service and then buy with you…repeat till fade. People want a fair deal from someone they like says Joe.
In comparison to today’s leading sales women in the car business is Tammy Darvish of DARCARS. ’Today most of that (intelligence) is done before they show up. And in many cases they are more educated than we are,” She said. They know prices and comparisons already and if they don’t we offer them internet access to encourage that, they’ll do it anyway, right? Is selling cars more like a big vending machine now a days?
When buyers know more or as much at least as sellers, sellers are no longer protectors and purveyors of information. They’re the curator and clarifiers of it. Their company has stopped hiring ‘experienced sales people’ with bad ‘salesy’ habits. And instead trains their employees in customer service and social media.
He is caveat emptor and she is caveat venditor.
So what else is new?
Like every good research on how the world has changed in sales you must mention Glengarry Glen Ross, that’s the rules and Dan does not disappoint. If you haven’t seen it you are missing a classic. That’s some motivational speech. Their rule is ABC -
A – Always,
B – Be
C – Closing
Dan has his own version of ABC -
A – Attunement
B – Buoyancy
C – Clarity
“These three qualities, which emerge from a rich trove of social science research, are the new requirements for effectively moving people on the remade landscape of the twenty-first century.” Says Pink. Pretty convenient that the best characteristics went ABC, what a spot of luck.
Attunenment – is empathy in short. Walking in the buyers shoes. Pushing too hard in sales is counter productive. And feelings aren’t the answer either. What is closer to the answer is to be in their head. To understand their world. This is where he explains to sell is to be human. We all can and do sell. To be better – be more human?
My favourite chapter is about ambiverts take the test here – a person who sits between extrovert and introvert. In this chapter he crushes a few myths about the extrovert seller. In fact there is little or no evidence to support extroverts sell more. Which is why I scream a little when I see new business roles with they key attribute being requested is ‘enthusiasm’. If you want to put a buyer off be over enthusiastic I say.
In fact according to a large study of European and American customers , the most destructive behaviour of sales people wasn’t being ill-informed. It was an excess of assertiveness and zeal that led to contacting customers to frequently. Extroverts tend to stumble over themselves at some point. They talk to much and listen little.
The good new is most people are ambiverts. And they can sell better than extroverts and introverts. In effect be normal is the answer…whatever that is?
Buoyancy – I think this is where Pink nails it best for me. I mean we agree….LOL. He worries like I do about the classic think positive brigades stance on well-being. See my post on Is Positive Thinking Delusional? here. Instead he advocates interrogative self talk. Asking can I help this person? Can I fix this problem? Rather that always believing you can.
It is clearly important to be able to pick yourself up and start again in new business but that is more about accepting failure. If we can accept failure is not about us, we can carry on without upset. If we can’t believe we failed, we are in for a long hard ride in new business.
That doesn’t mean you should not do your best. You should always. Do your best and fail is where the lessons are. Failing doesn’t mean you are a failure. It means that event was a failure. Learn and grow. No need for rose-tinted glasses, see things as they are. The world is complex and you can’t control everything, see Albert Ellis here
Marcial Losada a Brazilian social scientist believes that there is magic ratio of positive thoughts to negative ones. 3-1 is the magic ratio. Really? Anyway what she also found is that too much positivity can be bad, doing more harm than good when they get to 11 to 1 ratio. ie delusional. We need “appropriate negativity.”
Clarity – Here we get down to the practicality of selling. He notes that good sales people are good problem solvers. But with information being so abundant these days prospects are more likely to know their problem already and approach you solely for a solution.
Which is where or why agencies get commoditised, by procurement. Your services as a sales person are far more valuable when a person is unsure about their problems. Here is the opportunity for good sales people (Challengers) which hinges less on problem solving and more on problem finding.
Clarity he argues is often in context of something else. Such is the power of the question compared to what? The problem I venture is too often agencies don’t know what they are selling and buyers don’t know what problem they are solving. Have you noticed the rates at which bands change agencies and new business people change jobs, a telling sign that there is a distinct lack of clarity. And problems aren’t being solved because the real problem is being found. So the problem persists as the same solution is applied over and over again. What system thinker John Seddon calls doing the wrong thing righter.
Dan talks about some interesting ways to frame your offer.
The less frame: in effect less is more. Offering too much makes choosing hard for buyers.
The experience frame: people derive more satisfaction from an experience than from a material purchase. So highlight why they buy your product – what will their experience be in the future.
The label frame: they way you label something may determine how other people label something? Is that right? I’m confused here Dan. If I say you are ‘neat and tidy’ you will behave neat and tidy? He mixes this in with the well-known Prisoner’s Dilemma from game theory in economics. I think what Pinky is trying to say is, the way you see sales or your role will determine how you go about it. Can someone read page 140 for me.
The blemish frame: a negative aspect of your product in an otherwise positive description of your product adds credibility. Being honest about a blemish can enhance your offerings true beauty. Truth has credibility. And people need to trust you to buy from you.
The potential frame: Let people know about your potential not just what you have achieved. i.e. we have achieved great things but we think we have not achieved our potential because…….
Off Ramp – Here he explains we need to give buyers clarity on how to act not just how to think. Ie PUT SOME DECENT CONTACT DETAILS ON YOUR SITE AND MENTION SOMEONE’S NAME. (sorry a personal rant) E.g. call Jim, or Andy or David or Carol, not info@ etc. i.e. be human.
To be continued….
Albert Ellis the famous psychotherapists who did much to restore Stoic thinking said “Because we think these (good) things must occur (we visualised them after all and did our self affirmations too), it follows that it would be an absolute catastrophe if they did not. No wonder we get anxious: we’ve decided that if we failed to meet our goal (or worse someone elses) it wouldn’t merely be bad, but completely bad / absolutely terrible!”
Explaining the difference between a terrible outcome and a merely undesirable one became a governing mission of Ellis’s career. Ellis says “If you accept the universe is uncontrollable, you’re going to be a lot less anxious.”
Ellis wanted everyone to enjoy life by not worrying about having negative thoughts or feelings of doom. He wanted people to get perspective into their negative thoughts, not run from them. Sure, things will go wrong, a lot probably. But so what? They aren’t as bad as you imagine. Move on. No need for huge embarrassment. Some maybe, but that is where the learning lies. He explain more here about ‘musterbation’, I must get these things (goals), I must be treated well.
In 1964 there was an amazing programme called ‘Three Approaches to Psychotherapy’ Rogers, Fitz and Ellis all advised a lady called Gloria who was divorced and struggling with men. Here’s a snip of Ellis giving his advice. He gets her to be rational, not delusional. Can you believe that used to be TV? Amazing.
Steve Shapiro is a management consultant who champions the idea of goal free-living, including in businesses. Shapiro’s argument is that getting rid of goals or focusing on them less fixedly, is often the way to extract results from employees.
He has stories of Formula 1 pit crews who performed faster when the goal wasn’t to be faster which is anxiety inducing and actually increases time, to a goal of performing with ‘style’. Sales people who performed better i.e. sold more, when it became company policy not to publish sales targets.
Shaprio says “You can have a broad sense of direction without a specific goal or a precise vision of the future. I think of it like jazz, like improvisation. It’s all about meandering with purpose.”
William Deming who I have written about before here has similar ideas about goals from his time working in Japan with Toyota post war. One thing Denning did was to abolish goals and targets and replaced them with what he called a Sense of Profound Knowledge, as explained here by John Seddon.
He championed understanding of your business (what he called a system), how things worked and how to improve them. He believed in intrinsic not extrinsic motivation. Motivating with goal setting he believed caused cutting corners on cost or cheating to keep management happy.
He believed goals robbed workers of a sense of pride in their work, makes me think of creatives in agencies. He believed that the goal was quality and you achieved quality not by cutting costs but by taking pride in your work and improving the way the work is produced. Ironically, which is how you actually end up cutting costs, by being better and producing less waste in time for example.
Management he felt needs to be re-invented. ”We invented it so lets re-invent it”, was one of his mantras. Management spent too much time measuring the wrong things and setting arbitrary goals, x amount of meeting p/c/m or briefs or pitches. So no wonder a new business person crams your agency on to a pitch that it will never win but will cost money and time. Money and time that could have be wiser spent on improving the agency i.e. it’s employees and it’s clients.
The workers (Deming believed) already knew how to improve things in fact and management’s arbitrary goals (often reducing time and money) and rules got in the way of quality. Quality which the workers intrinsically wanted to master.
Negative Thinking embraces uncertainty it understand people are vulnerable to uncertainty and desire security. However it points to the irony that the more we seek security like happiness the more we drive it away. Because life is uncertain. But we should not be fearful of it. We too often over exaggerate our fears as the Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman explains here.
“Instead of trying to flush out negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones, be okay with them. When something goes wrong however painful the experience seems, it can be a good thing, The collapse of your apparent security represents a confrontation with the way life really is. Things are not permanent, they don’t last, there is no final security. (No one gets outs alive).
What makes us miserable is not this truth but our efforts to escape it, with a plan and a goal. Life is a dance, and when you are dancing you are not intent on getting somewhere. The meaning and purpose of dance is the dance”. Says Oliver Burkeman.
Burkeman talked with Buddhists who advocated meditation. He visits a meditation centre for 5 days of meditation. Here he learns to listen to his thoughts or as he says his chatter in his mind. The idea of meditation is not to add to that chatter but to simply listen and not judge it.
Letting thoughts come and go like weather or clouds and not commenting on them as you watch / listen. So a thought will come and you will hear it but you won’t add to it, however interesting or annoying that thought is. This is to learn how to detach emotions from events. That event was bad but why should I label it bad. It just is. Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet “There is nothing neither good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
There are lots more example in the book on the issues with positive thinking, so please make it your goal, wink, wink, to read it. I’ll leave you with a quote from the philosopher John Stuart Mill – “Ask yourself if you are happy, and you will cease to be so.”
The journey for many to Waterstone’s or Amazon to select a self-help book is to increase ones self-esteem and the pursuit of happiness. And I have read more than most. From Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill the classic really, How to Make Friends and Influence People (I have two copies for some reason), by Dale Carnegie, How to be Rich by Felix Dennis (actually quite good), 7 Habits of Effective People by Stephen R. Covey (I have even incorporated parts into my training in the past), Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway (makes some good points) by Susan Jeffers and the previously mentioned The Secret and Chicken Soup for the Soul. I was like the Tom Cruise character in Cocktail, only…well less cool.
Self esteem is today seem as the doyenne of attitudes. And you may well believe that too. The problem is if you worry about not having enough self-esteem you may well become more anxious and not less. It’s a bit like trying not think of a black cat. The more you try not to the more you do. Try right now not to think about a black cat. The more you try not to have negative thoughts about yourself….
And often those people with what new age therapist call high levels of self-esteem can actually be obnoxious, arrogant and conceited. We have all met them, right, all talk and no content. Self esteem may be important but I fear we trump it over knowledge, education, experience, creative thinking and honesty. A lot of people’s confidence comes from that fact that have a skill and experience to do something well. Learnt over time, built on, perfected (I use the term loosely) and applied many times.
One part of the new age and positive thinking brigades methods is to set goals. Big Hairy Audacious goals at that. Visualise those goals and never cease till you are successful. Never give up, you must be successful. Pay no heed to negative thoughts. Set goals with enthusiasm.
This is what Chris Kayes an expert in organisation behaviour and ex stock-broker from the US calls ‘goalodicy’. Kayes has been troubled to watch goal setting achieve the status of religious dogma.
Direct from the book in italics – Kayes noticed that goals don’t work they way we’d like them to. A business goal would be set, announced and generally accepted with enthusiasm. But evidence would begin to emerge that it had been an unwise one. Who in new business hasn’t been told we must grow by 30% this year? Or more maybe? Or a pitch a week etc?
Kayes studied a mountaineering trip where the goal to conquer Everest ended with fatal consequences. So set on their goal, the mountaineers when faced with bad weather and lacking oxygen, continued to pursue their goal, the summit of the tallest mountain in the world. The goal took over i.e. goalodicty.
The harder success looked to them the more negative info they had about being successful – the more they actually emotionally invested in that goal. The goal had become part of their identity. The failure was not the failing of the plan but a failing of themselves as people. The goal cost them their lives and their family avoidable grief. Could they have postponed their goal? Sure. But they couldn’t face failure.
Mountaineers of course aren’t the same as those involved with corporate life. In corporate life much emphasis is put on goals. Goals are seen as important. Very important, you can’t live without them. Quite often cited in the corporate world is the Yale Study of Goals.
The study took students graduating in 1953 from Yale University and asked them whether they had set goals for their life or not. Clear goals, formulated and noted. Only 3% of them said they had. Two decades later the researchers traced down the students to see how their lives had panned out. The results were unequivocal: the 3% of graduates who had set their goals has amassed greater financial wealth that the other 97% combined. A powerful lesson to those content on drifting through life, aimlessly.
The only problem with this legendary study that forms the back bone of many self-help gurus advice on goals, is that it is truly legendary. And in fact the Yale Study of Goals never took place.
When this study is talked about by the earlier mentioned gurus of positive thinking no academic research paper is ever cited. And in fact when a journalist from Fast Company magazine asked Tracey, Robbins and Ziglar to show the evidence they each referred the journalist to the other. The journalist even went to Yale to search for the proof and none was offered or could be found. Zip, nothing. nil.
Of course the non-existence of one story about goals does not prove that goals don’t have any benefit. There are in fact good studies that prove goals do. The story just indicates how far the fascination with goals has become. In fact broadly speaking setting goals and making plans is how we spend most of our waking hours. And our sleepless nights no doubt, they are our preoccupation.
It is this preoccupation that ‘negative thinkers’ call into question because simply put chasing goals can backfire. Goals and plans are often set to rid us of the uncertainty of the future. We have goals and we believe them, that is now how we see start to visualise the future. The goal in the future rids us of our current anxiety in the present, especially in business. This time next year Rodney will be millionaires, cue visualisation of self on beach in Jamaica (no she went of her own accord, for all the joke fanatics) drinking Tom Cruise made cocktails awaiting your turn on the jet ski with Kelly Brook / George Clooney.
It’s a comfort to see the future in a positive light. Robert Anton Wilson says in Rising Prometheus, you might as well be positive it is easier and more comforting. As if being positive was like some Pascallian Wager, might as well. But I get his point, it wouldn’t kill you to crack a smile now then.
What the Antidote explores is to manage your current uncertainty and anxiety about the present. To turn instead towards uncertainty, to embrace it and develop a tolerance for it. And goal free-living. Sure you should attempt to succeed but fear not failure. Maybe you’ll win maybe you won’t. But look straight in the face no need for rose-tinted spectacle. A bit like the lines in the poem If by Rudyard Kipling,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
Stoicism and negative thinking kind of reminds me of this scene in Fight Club when Brad Pitt request Ed Norton’s hand and pours Lye (a corrosive chemical) onto it, he screams in pain and tries to break free of Brad’s grip to rid the pain.
Brad holds him stills and explains, as Norton tries to run to his self-help group trained happy place, “this is a chemical burn and it’s gonna hurt more than you’ve ever hurt before…. stay with the pain don’t shut this out….without pain and sacrifice we’d have nothing……”
Norton continues to visualise his nice places which he learnt by falsely attending therapy lessons…….Brad tells him to “stop running and look at his pain….this is the greatest moment in your life man and you are off somewhere missing it”…..Brad tells him “that vinegar will neutralise the burn but before he can have it he has to give up, he has to know, not fear, but know that someday you are going to die”….”It’s only after we have lost everything that we are free to do anything he concludes.”
continues next week…