Thriving through uncertain times

Many are the articles, posts, comments, and other interventions all over social media, TV, magazines, newspapers, and other forums about the current crisis, by opinionmakers from all walks of life, experience, and more or less legitimate backgrounds.

However, we like facts and, when assumptions, that they are based on robust and consistent arguments.

We are facing a crisis without precedent, no doubt about it. But, as in all crises before and after this one, it’s not only the crisis that has an impact on the businesses.

Crisis, at the same time, bring to the spotlight hidden problems companies and organizations usually have that impact business more than the crisis in itself: Management fragilities, bad decisions or based on insufficient or no information at all, lack of structure, organizational problems, deficient businesses models, among others.

Everybody’s also talking about the crisis as a source of business opportunities for new or re-invented businesses, distribution models, and new ways of reaching the paying client, if not for success, at least to keep afloat.

Mutatis Mutandis, this is old news and, as a matter of fact, no news at all, except to spread some optimism to society at large, minimizing the fear effect that’s over everybody’s head.

I truly believe the real opportunities crisis can promote are two and interconnected. As usual in an open market economy:

  1. Darwinism: It cleans the market of the feeble and week, unable to adapt and thrive, at the same time that exposes the truly strong and capable;
  2. Evolutionism: It gives room for companies with visionary leadership and a flexible structure as well as market-oriented business models to quickly reinvent themselves, adapts to new circumstances, adjusts processes and strategies, to conquer the empty ground left behind by the previous ones.

We are seeing this happen even in strongly impacted sectors by this crisis like hospitality, aviation, and tourism.

What are you going to do to take care of your business, get back on track, to fulfill the gap others are creating in the marketplace? What’s your excuse?



The International Mindset

Pains and Gains of thinking internationally

(Sharing with you my presentation in the Get In The Ring Global Meetup 2018)

The Lego dilemma: How to be global without losing local connectivity?
– Very few rules and processes
– Simply organized and communicated around a common ground accepted and recognized by all parts involved with room for local “imagination” to grow and thrive: – The Lego brick!

We will be talking about 7 major key points, or principles, that my experience on the field identified as instrumental to be successful in an international environment:

– Give up control and centralized decision making
– Identify and Manage the essentials, the key aspects of shared culture and values
– Accept flexibility on the ground, but always around key elements that make it possible to recognize the original idea

– Be ready to Adapt, Adopt and, therefore, Evolve
– Keeping the focus on essentials and key patterns recognized everywhere by everyone

Speak a Common Language: But adapt it to local dialects
– Integrate and Share: Solutions found in a particular context or geography can be easily adapted at large, if translated (adapted) to the local needs, without losing identity
Spread the Word: Allow imagination, but with the “brick”. Make contextualization the globalization concept

– This is Key: the “Brick” is the rule!
– In some countries, they use some brick formats and not others, some colors and not others. Imagination rules when it comes to using the brick
– This way the entire business will be interconnected and integrated

5 – BUY-IN
– Each country or Business Unit should be responsible for its own P&L and collaborate defining it
– Without local responsibility and rewards, no commitment is achieved
– If not, your “disconnecting” the bricks

– Keep alert and identify common, structural aspects of the business
– This will be the common ground for understanding and manage diversity
– It may be complex, but must not be complicated

– Draw the Business map and draw it again
– Build to change, not to last – “bricks” will come and go and patterns will change, be refined, and expanded
– Eventually, Growth will be incremental, not only because it will support itself but because it should be based on learning from successes and the unavoidable mistakes


Selling Services? – Get Real!

A usual problem that service companies face is that they are often either unaware of service problems, or are under the illusion that service is good.

On the one hand, we have experience with some services that are amazingly efficient, dependable, and organized, and on the other, we suffer through amazingly frustrating unbelievable bad service like being put on indefinite hold during service support phone call.

Most people, if they have any choice, will not tolerate such bad service.

Where there are alternatives tolerance for bad service disappears.

Service companies need to understand that they aren’t competing with bad or good service in itself. They are competing with service expectations.

Typically, most small to mid-size companies struggle to maintain adequate levels of service. Rarely do they give conscious, deliberate, intensive thought into how they can improve the services.

Service companies or Customer service departments need to understand that if they are marketing regular or stellar service to their customers, they need to stick to it as the customers tend to Expect what they communicated. And this, being a Marketing issue, can bring up or down a company’s Results, its success or failure.

Are you selling services? Don’t forget to get real!


Selling Services

Everybody understands the distinction between selling a product that can be seen and touched, and selling a service that can’t be touched, tasted, felt, or seen before is bought.

One practical example of how products and services differ is to consider what happens when a product fails versus what happens when a service fails.

It’s obvious when a product fails – it stops working; when it’s plugged in nothing happens. You return it or exercise your warrantee options. But what happens when a service fails? How do you even know if it has?

In Consulting services it happens when a client won’t get what he/she thinks is buying. When he/she thinks the service rendered does not comply with the service asked for.
– Communication problems?
– Lack of understanding of the results delivered?
– Misinterpretation from the consultant side of what were the client’s expectations? Expected Results?

What are you going to say to such a client?

What does it mean to sell an invisible service?
It means you should be extremely careful with your marketing. Meaning that you should pay serious attention to what are you selling, the Service itself, and not be only worried to have the word spread out.

Your marketing efforts should align the service, its intrinsic value, with the value the client will perceive (perceived value) and will be willing to buy.

The service needs first to be refined in order to when the message gets out, the marketing efforts are maximized and multiplied. If these two aspects are not aligned, your reputation will pay for it. And this is really difficult to recover. It’s invisible, remember? But with a visible effect on you!

Don’t focus on functionalities, when selling a service, focus on benefits, reliable ones, not things you cannot deliver or the client use or do, if behind their capabilities.

Think about Marketing reputation, communicate advances your services can deliver, that will be used by the client. And the more advances your client is capable of, the more you will be successful. If you raise the bar based on what the market reports say you should deliver, expects from you, or are willing to buy, you will be talking to nobody. Or eventually to a Marketing designed “persona” that ultimately does not exist.

Fear is key when selling services. Overcome the client’s fear and succeed at it. Over time you will build a reputation and a solid base of references. This is the power of working diligently on the first rule of marketing, analyzing, and improving the service itself.

You can read more about it in Harry Beckwith’s Selling the Invisible.


Strategy: Budgeting or Planning?

Strategic Planning entered the jargon of managers as if something very complex, intricate, and only accessible to a few.

But if we are paying attention, we can see that’s not the case.

Some literature defines Planning as having four very characteristic stages, sequential and unable to “leap” from one to another during the evolution process.

First Stage: It’s determined by the financial planning and you will find this in every single company, regardless of size and complexity. It is the process of defining the annual budget and the base for the company’s, business unit, or department performance assessment.

Second Stage: It happens when the definition of the annual budget goes beyond the current year, including provisions for two or more years based on the current plan as defined in the previous stage. Here you will find not even the majority of companies

Third Stage: This one already has some Strategic Planning characteristics in the sense that the planning’s already seriously oriented by market trend analysis, clients, and competition. This planning already considers a set of external factors as essential to defining its position in the medium and long term.

Fourth Stage: If finding the previous stage in a company it’s not common, this one is eventually rare. It’s defined by a systematic context analysis of the company’s current stage and future objectives where the majority of the analysis factors are, indeed, external. Including changes in the broad political environment where the company exists or wants to be in the future.

What its really curious is the fact that you can find small companies that are deeply involved in the fourth stage – the true Strategic Planning – and companies of significant size and success that never left the first one – where you just budget for the next year.

At which stage it’s your company?

(Frederick W. Gluck, Stephen P. Kaufman, e A. Steven Walleck: Thinking Strategically)


Sales – The new frontier!

Already talked about Marketing and the importance of being Digital, a must for every business in today’s reality.

Today I’m talking about Sales and how actuality significantly transformed the sales environment and the how-to relate to today’s clients.

I keep on seeing, reading and listening about things like “rapport”, building relations with clients, the need for efficient presentations, how to go through the client’s assistant, elevators pitches, and a couple more similar nonsense, from the time when salespeople walked the streets selling encyclopedias.

Today no one has time to lose! Salespeople present themselves to the client and the first thing they do is to start talking.

Talking about Me, the Company, what we Have, what we Do, the Excellency of one’s proposals.

Today’s clients already know all about it, eventually even better than the salesperson. They read all about it on the Web. On your site and in your competition sites.

What Clients need today is someone that:
– Understand their Business reality;
– Know what’s the Problems that each company faces and that need to be properly solved;
– Can understand the Implications of not sorting out those problems and;
– Help to satisfy the Need that is identified.

Someone that can satisfy their need to be always on the front line of Results.

They need an Advisor, a Consultant, not a Salesperson.

Don’t worry, they also know that, at the end of the day, you are selling your Product or Service, not the competition.

Who is the most effective in this role is the one that will get the account, not the one with the best “rapport”. This will come later, with the problem solved and with everything running as agreed.

Efficiency, Focus, Results. This’ what today’s clients want from Sales People.

Want to know how? Ask me and I’ll be happy to show you.