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Posts Tagged ‘Change’

Exceptions…

I have been leading in a major training initiative for my company’s re-sellers this year.  We are making significant changes and we’d like our partners to adopt these changes in their approach, too.  That way the customer has a consistent experience across all of our channels.

Seems logical, doesn’t it?  Yet, with but a few exceptions the majority of our partners offer resistance during the training sessions.  They cite all sorts of exceptions (real and imagined) that suggest our new methods aren’t as good as their existing methods.  Sometimes they even suggest that our new methods flat-out, won’t work.

It reminds me of my Father-In-Law.  He was a carpenter and a true “master mechanic with the tools” (as they say in the trades).  In the 1960s and 1970s he trimmed million dollar mansions in suburban Chicago when million dollar mansions were rare.

When my wife and I bought our starter house in 1978, we had a whole list of home improvement and remodeling ideas.  Champagne taste; beer money (as they also say in the trades).  It was natural to turn to Dad for a little help.

My wife would show him what she was thinking for remodeling the kitchen; building a deck with a clubhouse for the kids; changes to the living room; bathrooms, too; the list went on.  And his initial response invariably was, “That won’t work”.  We heard the phrase “that won’t work” so frequently that we carry his legacy in our life to this day.

You see, when he said, “That won’t work” he didn’t mean it couldn’t be done.  What he meant was it actually could be done, but he would have to do it differently than the way the idea was initially laid out.  He did remodel our kitchen, living room and bathrooms.  We did have a deck and a clubhouse.  The clubhouse was built so well that we relocated it to our next backyard when we moved up from our starter house.

Fast forward to my training classes this year.  Every time a partner says “That won’t work” and cites an exception that doesn’t fit with our new and improved engagement model, it triggers old behaviors.  My knee-jerk reaction is to engage; to argue; to discredit the cited exception as some fantasy.  Then, after I regain my composure I remember my Father-In-Law.  I smile and think that’s what they said but that’s not what they meant.  At least I hope so.

I understand exceptions, I think.  I agree with Malcolm Forbes:

There are no exceptions to the rule that everybody likes to be the exception to the rule. 

And I’m no exception – just ask my wife when she says we need to remodel thus and so.  I give it the old, “That won’t work” try.  Then we smile and realize my will power will wilt in the face of her vision.

The opinions expressed by the husband do not reflect the views of the management of this household. 

Unknown Sage 

We all deal with exceptions throughout our day; at work; at home; in the community.  I believe our views about exceptions are grounded on our individual perspectives:

Nothing makes me more tolerant of a neighbor’s noisy party than being there. 

Franklin P. Adams

So this year I’ve been trying.  I’ve been learning how to address exceptions.  I’d prefer such cited exceptions to fade in the face of our training, but I understand Malcolm Forbes is probably right.  Then I remember my Father-in-Law.  And then I’ve learned to smile.

GAP

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Creative overload…

I was listening to the speech by our Chief Development Officer at our 2017 worldwide users’ conference.  It was creativity at its best.  He summarized all of the new features (aka shiny objects) his massive army of programmers was programming into our application.  Seemingly, there is no end to the creativity of our technology posse and the shiny objects they continuously code.

I get it – if we don’t write new code our old code becomes obsolete – just when the end-users are comfortable using it:

Troutman’s Laws of Computer Programming

  • Any running program is obsolete
  • Any planned program costs more and takes longer
  • Any useful program will have to be changed
  • Any useless program will have to be documented

So rather than documenting exiting programs; rather than reinforcing how to use them with end-user types; creative people who program find it easier to just replace it vs. document it.  Besides, documentation is much, much harder than creativity:

Arnold’s First Law of Documentation

If it should exist, it doesn’t.

Arnold’s Second Law of Documentation

If it does exist, it’s out of date.

Arnold’s Third Law of Documentation

Only useless documentation transcends the first two laws.

Then I reflected on my personal use of applications provided by these and other creative technologists.  I Googled how many phone apps (alone) there are in the world – here’s what the Google-Machine returned:

This statistic contains data on the number of apps available for download in leading app stores as of March 2017. As of that month, Android users were able to choose between 2.8 million apps. Apple’s App Store remained the second-largest app store with 2.2 million available apps.

5 Million apps to choose from – just for our phones!  WOW!  I can’t wait for the release of the 5 million and 1st app can you?  Call me the dinosaur, but here are how all those creative apps (not to mention all of those additional features technologists are pouring into my business systems) make me feel:

 

Yep, place me on the curve just past the, “Hey, where the f*** did they put that?!”

If in today’s world creativity is analogous with “more”; how do we get to “less”?  What’s wrong with things that are (A) simple and (B) work?  Why does everything have to be subjected to creativity?

Andi’s Addendum – And beyond

  • The complexity of a program grows until it exceeds the capability of its maintainers.
  • Any system that relies on computer reliability is unreliable.
  • Any system that relies on human reliability is unreliable.
  • Make it possible for programmers to write programs in English, and you will find that programmers cannot write in English.
  • Profanity is the one language all programmers know best.

Every time someone tells me they have a new idea, I cringe.  It’s like everyone is searching for some holy intellectual grail:

Creativity:  The process of having an original idea that has value. 

Unknown Sage

Here’s the thing – just because something is technologically feasible, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.  When someone promotes “IoT” (aka the Internet of Things), I reach to make sure my wallet is secure.  And don’t get me started on virtual reality.

According to WhatIs.com

Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment.

Suspends belief and accepts it as real – really?  I wonder if that creativity begets real value or virtual value.  Hmmm… you’re right… what’s the difference.

GAP

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Jerk…

Now there’s a word used often in our society these days, yes?

During my performance appraisals my manager has given me superior ratings in all but one area.  In my company’s rating scale, the highest level of performance is labeled “Outstandingly Awesome”.  I like that label.

To be sure, I’m as motivated as anyone to have my performance rated outstandingly awesome.  I’m as competitive as anyone to “win”.  I have strived from childhood to adulthood; work and play; continuously reading training and motivational materials to help me earn outstandingly awesome recognition.

I often envision myself on the podium; waving a bouquet of flowers; kissing the pretty hostess; preparing for the glorious interview where the interviewer asks, “Gary, how did you do it?”  And on occasion, I’ve actually been on that podium (albeit sans flowers, pretty hostess or the interviewer).

Does this envisioning make me a jerk?  Am I arrogant and obnoxious?  Well, from time-to-time I would acknowledge – guilty.  My manager has so-noted in that one area on said performance reviews, too.  In my defense – is such an attitude and approach an outcome from how I was coached?

Al McGuire, former head basketball coach of Marquette University, once said, “A team should be an extension of the coach’s personality.  My teams were arrogant and obnoxious.”

Al McGuire

At this stage of my career I have finally accepted the fact that sometimes, I don’t play well with others (aka am a jerk).  Even though I have succeeded in my career by “playing angry” (which I recently wrote about http://thequoteguys.com/2017/07/playing-angry/ ), I’m finally at a point where I agree I could lighten up a bit.

Winning in business and in life is so much more than the podium, don’t you agree?

The most valuable thing you can ever own is your image of yourself as a winner in the great game of life, as a contributor to the betterment of humankind, as an achiever of worthy goals. 

Tom Hopkins

So, to get me headed in the right direction my boss’ boss jumped in and asked me to read Emotional Intelligence 2.0 © by Dr. Travis Bradberry.  You might have noticed I quote him often.  His book starts with a self-diagnostic.  I actually rated much better than I had expected; 74 – which means “With a little improvement, this could be a strength.”  Today, I keep the book on my desk with the pages dog-eared to the sections on addressing conflict with emotional intelligence.

Liking this new path I am exploring at this stage of my career, I next read What Got You Here Won’t Get You There © by Marshall Goldsmith.  I enjoyed one of his foundational points, articulated by the famous management consultant, Peter Drucker:

We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do.  We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop.

After all of these years, I finally have a manager who is helping to teach me what to stop.  Oh he still wants and expects my outstandingly awesome, competitive fire.  He’d just like me to play nicer with others.

So I returned to my recent readings seeking advice for improvement – and found it:

There’s a simpler way to achieve being nicer.  All you have to do is stop being a jerk. 

Marshall Goldsmith

Well, my manager; his manager; Dr. Brad; and Marshall Goldsmith are all pointing me to the solution.

Many receive advice.  Only the wise profit from it. 

Publilius Syms

And only a jerk would ignore Publilius Syms, true?

GAP

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Turn up the music…

2017 is starting out with lots of challenges for us.  Dramatic change is in the wind (and all over the news), yes?  As Americans, the Executive Branch of our federal government is provoking great change.  At the corporate level, employees of my recently acquired company are feeling the impact of significant change.

The Co-CEO addressed our sales organization in January in an effort to help quell our jitters.  The gesture of his in-person address was impressive (and appreciated).  He was very clear on his vision of our collective future, however.  And change is a big element of his vision for a great future:

Comfort is not the objective in a visionary company.  Indeed, visionary companies install powerful mechanisms to create discomfort – to obliterate complacency – and thereby stimulate change and improvement before the external world demands it. 

Jim Collins

He asked us to embrace the discomfort of change and contribute to our company’s future success.  Many felt it was a big ask.

Change can be very difficult for us to deal with, true?  For me, it’s especially ironic to see how change affects those of us in the sales profession.  I mean, here we are the sellers of change when our clients buy our new products or services to replace their previous products and services.  Sales and change are synonymous, yes?  And yet, I find sales people in particular to be extremely change adverse.

My company has lost several people since the acquisition just because of impending change.  So far, there’s really been nothing materially wrong with our new parent company’s approach to things.  For most of us, our daily routine is the same today as it had been previously.  There are procedural differences; pay and benefits differences; internal systems differences to be sure.  But these changes aren’t really material to the valuable roles we all play.

Nonetheless, some of my colleagues simply won’t embrace the change.  Now it’s not my place to judge whether they’ve panicked or not.  It simply seems to me that they have chosen to depart before giving the new environment a chance.

When faced with uncertainty, where do we turn?

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. 

William Arthur Ward

OK, but while we are adjusting the sails how do we sooth our worries about change; how do we avoid panic?  In my case, I like to leverage music to seek peace of mind.

On the America front we’ve seen civil unrest in the face of change before.  This 8:43 YouTube clip is one example of music; change; and civil unrest: http://youtu.be/VhX3b1h7GQw

To me, music is a powerful reminder of change.  And it’s a reminder that throughout my lifetime change can be fun, too.  (We called our first band The Neighbors’ Complaint!):

So when faced with the possibility of panic in the face of change, I turn to music.  I was recently reminded by my Great Niece of the importance of music in our lives:

Whether we are faced with changes at our company or changes in our country don’t panic – instead consider the words of E.B. White:

I wake up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time.  Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult.

And when in need of a little help to calm the jitters associated with change in order to have one hell of a good time; turn up the music!

GAP

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Historical leadership…

One of my favorite hobbies is reading about the leadership displayed by historical leaders during times of crisis as documented in the writings of American history.  It is amazing to learn about the stress that those events, coupled with the expectations followers, had on leaders.

How did those leaders do it?  Could you (or me) rise to the occasion the way they did?  What does one do, when there is no “opt out” option?  What does it take to be that type of leader?  Is it some sort of innate ability; learned; trained for?

Of course, there are many examples where leadership has been summarized in a simple synopsis.  Take the Civil War – a heightened time of crisis in American history.  On the bloodiest of battlefields in American history, great generals rose to the occasion and in so doing are remembered, albeit for what in retrospect seems to have just been good judgment:

Grant knew from Sherman’s telegram that a crucial lesson had been learned at Collierville, that an army commander should know just where he was going, long before he actually arrived there. 

Jeff Shaara

Know where you are going – seems so simple today.  But during times of crisis leadership can become anything but simple.  In Civil War times, navigating terrain was a huge obstacle.  No GPS; a few crude, hand-drawn maps; directions only available from local civilians – and we all know what hazards that can bring:

Winfield’s Dictum of Direction-Giving:

The possibility of getting lost is directly proportional to the number of times the direction-giver says, “You can’t miss it.”  

Unknown Sage

In today’s world, Google Earth enables anyone with an Internet connection to view the landscape with ultimate clarity.  Navigating business circumstances?  There’s no Google app for that.

Take my company.  We’re in the process of being acquired – maybe.  I say maybe, because surprisingly our leaders have vanished.  When the initial announcement was made public, there was a company-wide web meeting and the leaders informed the followers it was merely business as usual.  That was it then; and that has been it ever since.  No updates; no further employee communications; no status; nothing.  Not very comforting.

It could be that they really don’t have any updated information that can be disclosed yet.  As a publicly traded company, there are SEC rules and regulations that apply when a company is “in play”.  However, in absence of leadership communications followers will dream up their own narratives.  And in a vacuum, such narratives tend to drift towards worst case scenarios, true?

Speaking for myself only (as if there was another option), this event could be good news or it could be bad news for my continued employment at my (new) company.  But if my leaders asked, I would tell them I can handle it (as if there was a choice):

One can either face reality at the outset or one can disseminate the bad news on the installment plan. 

Norman Augustine

So when I read and reflect on historical leaders and how they led their followers, one common theme emerges – they kept their people informed:

The key to being a successful skipper is to see the ship through the eyes of the crew. 

D. Michael Abrashoff

I wonder if our leaders today invest any time learning from historical leadership.  Perhaps they believe their view of the ship is the only view of the ship and the right view of the ship and their followers on the ship should just get over it.

GAP

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Resistance…

I find the dichotomy intellectually interesting.  Sales professionals by and large make our living selling the next new thing to our customers and expecting our customers to embrace the change that comes along with replacing their old, tried and true things with our new-new things.  Yet, we sales professionals are among the most change-resistant folk on the planet.

A few months ago I was assigned the task of building a new course in my company’s sales training curricula.  When I reviewed the draft of the content I was to use, I whined.  Actually, I whined, stomped, argued, pushed back, pleaded, plotted and cajoled in every possible way I knew to try and avoid the assignment.  My boss was patient, pleasant, and steadfast.  He reminded me of my responsibilities; reminded me that the President of our company stated this course would be rolled out by September 1st.  My boss asked me if I could get it done by the deadline (but he really wasn’t “asking”):

At first speechless, Acheson had said he was not qualified to meet the demands of the office.  “This”, responded Truman, “was undoubtedly so, the question was whether he would do the job anyway.”    

Harry S. Truman

It is more accurate to say I didn’t have to develop the training from scratch.  I was expected to “tweak” the training that had been developed for another part of our company so it would better align with our resellers.  Since then, there have been frequent meetings with my cross-functional team trying to decipher just how to “tweak” the class and deliver the assigned content…

In all my years in business, I have found that people in meetings tend to agree on decisions that as individuals, they know are dumb. 

John M. Capozzi

Of course, all along the way I looked for opportunities to insert my personal, professional preference – which was to do nothing.  I didn’t like the new content; I preferred staying status quo.  “No change” was my mantra.  I was reacting just like many others when faced with making a change – hide!  But, as we all know progress is based on progression:

The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you’re finished. 

Benjamin Franklin

So I toiled on to complete my assignment to the best of my ability.

I mean, just because this new content was not something I dreamed up doesn’t make it bad.  It’s just new; different; requires me to make a change.  Who knows?  It might turn out that I actually like the new-new way.

I’m not sure what the root cause of my resistance has been.  Maybe I thought I would fail with this assignment; let my boss down; disappoint my clients….

It seems to me that the largest impediment to a healthy attitude toward failure is our inability to distinguish between just plain being stupid and failing on the way to great success. 

Unknown Sage

Yes, change comes with challenge.  As it turned out, I was able to create the new content.  And to help with my deployment plans, I delivered a “dry run” for my internal colleagues.  I “crashed and burned”.

It was back to the drawing board to make the necessary improvements.  Then, last week I delivered my 2nd go ‘round – this time to live clients.  The outcome?  Well, no one quit; no one got hurt; so I’m calling it a success!

They’re still a little reluctant to the change their ways and adopt the new training, but that’s OK.  I can relate.

GAP

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Dinosaurs…

I was driving through eastern Utah earlier this month.  The enormity of the landscape is breath-taking!

Eastern_Utah

The drive was made even more impactful realizing that this is where dinosaurs walked millions of years ago.  I could close my eyes and “see” them roaming the plains with the mountains as their backdrop.  Then I realized I was driving and opened my eyes; relying on my driver’s training to avoid joining the dinosaurs!

At that moment, two Air Force jets roared by.  Hill Air Force Base is a major military installation in Utah.  Seems that our most modern military warfare technology trains over the same space previous dominated by ancient dinosaurs.  A striking contrast.

There I was in dinosaur country, with modern jets roaring by – what better place than to contemplate the nature of my profession and the views I have about what it takes to succeed in sales in the 21st century?  Weird you say?  Welcome to my Jurassic Park LoL!

In the sales profession, we can learn a lot from our military.  No – I’m not saying our customer is the enemy.  Nor am I suggesting we adopt a competitive attitude often voiced by Larry Ellison of Oracle Corporation:

It’s not enough that we win; our enemies must lose.

That quote has been attributed to Gore Vidal; Genghis Khan; and even Sun Tzu’s book The Art of War©

You see, during our road trip we were listening to an audio book, Ghost Image: A Sophie Medina Mystery© And at the moment I was reflecting on the dinosaurs while the jets were roaring overhead, I heard this line from the book:

In the military you don’t learn you are trained.  In combat you rely on your training to get you through.

Then it hit me – when I offer “sales enablement” to my clients they aren’t actually learning how to sell.  I’m not trying to “teach” them; I’m trying to “train” them.  Actually, it’s worse than that – I’m trying to “re-train” them.  I believe, without such re-training they will continue to use sales tools, tactics and techniques that have gone the way of the dinosaurs.

And as stated above, in a sales cycle we rely on our training to get us through.  I know it’s not a life-or-death challenge.  But it is job and/or career threatening, yes?

Back to another one of my favorite book titles: Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life© by Alan Deutschman:

Deutschman concludes that although we all have the ability to change our behavior, we rarely ever do.

I often profess, “The market has shifted…”  My clients assume the context of my statement is technology; technology in the market has shifted (from traditional, client-server oriented software to Cloud Computing).  And just like our military, we must equip ourselves with new technology or risk being surpassed by our competition (in the military context, our enemies!).

But in the context of selling to a modern buyer, that element of the market has shifted too.  If we don’t re-train ourselves to sell the way the modern buyer buys, we risk becoming obsolete; replaced by eCommerce, an iPhone App, or some other “serve-yourself” option buyers have available to them to bypass we sales dinosaurs altogether.

Rare maybe, but I know my clients have the ability to change their behavior.   Yet, I left the eastern plains of Utah wondering, who is the dinosaur?  Them – resistant to re-training?  Or me – thinking I actually can enable them to change their behavior?

GAP

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CIO…

May I ask you to change the way you always have been doing it, please?  Yeah – right!

“Change”, now there’s a provocative word in our vocabulary.  And just when we get comfortable with how things are working.  Hey everyone, Windows 11 is on the way – great!

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order. 

Alfred North Whitehead

In the sales profession, what we sell the most of is change, true?  Or we try to – sometimes we face difficult obstacles from our prospective clients as posted on LinkedIn recently:

CIO

We’ve all worked with members of this org chart before, yes?  Truth be told, I have served in one or more of those capacities myself when I have been on the “change” side of the equation.

In business, change is constant.  Here’s a little ditty one of my readers shared with me a while back based on another LinkedIn post:

Just Monkeying Around 

…While eating lunch together with colleagues one of his friends was attempting to peel a banana.  As often happens the stem was not cooperating and a struggle with the banana ensued.  Another friend observing the struggle said “you know you are doing that wrong”.  Everyone at the table turned to hear the revelation on proper banana peeling technique. 

The observer explained that if you watch monkeys, who clearly have been dealing with bananas much longer than we humans, they peel bananas by pinching the opposite end and gently pulling the peel away from both sides of the banana.  

What followed at the lunch table was a mass return to the lunch counter for bananas and a series of very successful tests of the monkey banana peeling technique.  The author observed how often we use the phrase “This is how we’ve always done it” and how inhibiting that is to even looking for new techniques.  Secondly he observed how incredibly valuable firsthand experience or “seeing is believing” is when it comes to learning and embracing change. 

As I read the post and spent time pondering the appeal of his story I started thinking of innovation and change working together.  Not all change is innovative but all innovation implies change.  Like the banana story if we are so comfortable or set in our ways even when they are only marginally effective we miss the opportunity to monkey around with more effective techniques.  Innovative ideas for more effective and efficient ways to work are all around us.

Of course, dealing with change in the business world is one thing; dealing with change in our lives is something altogether different:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. 

Unknown Sage

What’s good for me isn’t always good for you, and visa versa – don’t you agree?  The phrase, “not in my back yard” is very Americana, isn’t it?  Yet change is inevitable and more than that, often needed.

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.  For, indeed, that’s all whoever have. 

Margaret Mead

So come-on fellow members of the Chief Indecision Officer’s org chart – let’s get over the worries and get into the fun of making positive change in our lives and those of others.

I wake up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time.  Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult. 

E.B. White

That’s my call-to-action.  What’s yours?

GAP

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Workforce generations…

So I was walking through the office before sunrise the other day.  Heading to the coffee machine – you know – the usual ritual.  My colleague Craig was already strapped in and online in a meeting at his cubical.  His phone was set to mute (demo account set to stun!).

Now I don’t know exactly how old Craig is, but his LinkedIn profile shows he graduated from Michigan State with his under graduate degree the same year I did.  Close enough (LoL!)  As I strolled by heading towards the coffee machine and commented about Craig being the “early bird”, his response was classic:  “Came in early – wanted to get a good seat.”

That’s right – two Old Guys starting their day early.

Much is being said and even more is being written about the generational make-up of our workforce these days.  With so much chatter going on – I can’t help myself – I’m weighing in.

How about you?  Which generation are you part of?  And which generation of employees do you think is the most productive; the most valuable; the most important generation for today’s business setting; and into the future?

In offering full disclosure – I’m a proud member of the Baby Boomer generation.  And I’m biased.  In fact, a former colleague of mine who I worked side-by-side with for a few years (and a member of the Generation X generation), once commented (in a very complimentary way I might add) “The old guy can still hunt!”

My online research suggests that as of 1/1/2015, there are 4 generations in the workplace:

  • Traditionalists aged 65-88
  • Baby Boomers aged 46-64
  • Generation X aged 30-45
  • And Generation Y (aka Millennials) aged 16-29

So, with this mixture of old and young; experienced and naïve – my bad – I meant inexperienced; hard workers and smart workers; I ask again, which generation provides the most business value contribution?

BTW – as a side note; where do you fall on the work hard – work smart continuum?  Here’s what my Traditionalist friend has to say:

Work smarter, and as hard as you can. 

Tom Hopkins

Well, my colleague Craig and I can certainly vouch for the “work hard” side.  That early morning?  Not a single Millennial in sight.  They started rolling in at about 8:30.  What was the John Wayne line in the movie Cowboys?  “Burning daylight”, (when it was still dark!)

OK, maybe the Millennials at our company prefer a flexible schedule.  Much has been said and much has been written about our Millennials.  Here is one of the recommendations on how to motivate Millennials by Lauren Sveen in her Denver Post article: 

Studies of millennials by the Intelligence Group, a youth-focused research company, have revealed that 74 percent of them want flexible work schedules.

Really, Captain Obvious?  In fact, when you read her full article (see Welcoming Millennials to the Workforce ) is there anything she suggests for Millennials that Baby Boomers would not appreciate too?

Look at Frederick Herzberg’s summary published in the Harvard Business Review.  And his research was from the 1950’s and 1960’s – aka “Traditionalists”.  The more things change, the more they stay the same I guess.

Marty Birk, a Division Vice President of Sales I worked under “back in the day”, used to ask, “Gary, if you were going into a selling war would you take So-and-So with you?”  Well, in 2015 I don’t care what generation my colleagues are from.  If they can get the job done – harder or smarter – that’s good ‘nuff for me.  How about you?

GAP

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Self-Obliteration…

I attended my company’s annual sales “kick-off” meeting recently.  It was a terrific event!  Recognition of the outstanding; celebration of our 2014 accomplishments; preparation to execute our 2015 assignments; motivational speeches; the works!  Our sales force left totally fired up to dominate in 2015!

Although our company has been extremely successful to this point, our leadership stated in no uncertain terms to our entire sales force that we must move beyond being overly dependent on in-bound leads;

What got you here won’t get you there. 

Marshall Goldsmith

They proclaimed 2015 as the year of out-bound prospecting (aka “hunting”).  Everyone’s competitive juices were flowing!

And then came the automation worshipers…

Outside experts presenting their automated approach to appointment setting with prospects.  It was not a new message.  We have all heard that, “cold-calling is dead”, haven’t we?  We all use tools that come with claims about the wonderfulness of automating human-to-human interactions.  Just link with them on LinkedIn!  Hmmm, is it really that automatic?  Sorry – as my Grandmother used to say, “I’m no believe”.

Nonetheless, our outside experts enthusiastically presented their tools for sales-prospecting in today’s B2B world.  They presented in-person, mind you; no automation.  Was I seeing the beginning of our profession’s obliteration?  Has software replaced the sales professional?  Hmmm…

And then came the mathematicians…

“Spend less time on the right deals!”  “Sell more efficiently!”  “Using predictive analytics, we can selectively invest our time with prospects that are ready for us!”   Predictive analytics that “time the prospect”?  Hmmm, “time the prospect”…  Didn’t I lose a boatload in my investment account when I used automation to try to “time the market”?

But our guests spoke with great eloquence, which often accompanies technology;

Since Appian was first a famous Roman highway, you’d think this might be a clue to Xymos’ new identity.  But the release says; 

“Appian was chosen for the name because it represents the ability to use leading edge technology and innovation, integrated into solutions that provide differentiation and competitive advantage.” 

Just what the Romans had in mind. 

Rick Levine 

As Joan Rivers coined, “Can we talk?”   Not to peddle our products – but can sales professionals talk with a prospect about their business goals; their business plans; their business future?  Hmmm, actually talking with prospects about their aspirations vs. our products?  That’ll never work.

And then came the machinists…

Not sure how to “talk with a prospect”?  No worries. The machinists have the remedy.  Machine-based learning to help sales people talk with their prospects.  Machine-based learning – for human interaction?  Just shoot me!  With an automatic!

I’ve written about this before – see http://thequoteguys.com/2013/01/my-machine-to-yours/

Look – I get it; prospects won’t take our calls; won’t return our voice mails; won’t respond to our emails.  But what do I know?  I’m simply suggesting (and Gerald M. Weinberg seems to agree) we should be reluctant to become overly reliant on a software program to do our job of sales-prospecting;

Weinberg’s Law: 

If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.

I mean, don’t you think if it was that simple to become that efficient by becoming that automated, that the market would transact with statisticians and copy writers – not business people who sell?  It would be M2H (machine-to-human interactions) not B2B, true?  Are we automating the obliteration of our sales profession?

Now, I may not be able to avoid such obliteration by such automation by the masses of mathematicians and machinists.  But I refuse to condone self-obliteration.

GAP

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