Lean Engagement Team

Do You Push Your Sales People into the Unknown? 0

One of the mistakes, I think, that sales people have is thinking that they have to have answers. My thought is that I would rather have a salesperson that pulls my organization into the unknown. If that happens, we are asking the right questions.

Mario Andretti: “If everything’s under control, you’re going to slow.”

You could argue that by doing this you would never be selling your product, or extending the close of a sale. The truth is when you ask questions that stretch the customers thinking, many find ways to make your product/service work for them in better ways. They place their own limitations not around the product/service but rather around themselves.

Another advantage to this type of thinking is that you typically will bring others into the conversation. You engage with different parts of your customer’s organization, your own and even other vendors from both parties. This type of collaboration strengthens the opportunity.

For collaboration, co-creation and all those other “co-“ words that we like to banter about, if we are unwilling to step into the unknown, I don’t really see the opportunity? Do you?

Liz Wiseman, author of Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work, says leaders must remain inquisitive, be able to ask the right questions and share the burden of thinking with their teams. She adds that the best leaders also push people out of their comfort zone, catalyzing a culture of contribution and innovation.

Is Trust in Sales Still Needed? 0

The Trust Equation

Trustworthiness = (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) / Self-Orientation

The above equation was a central part of a discussion with Charles Green, author of a series of books that have long been a favorite of mine.  I own all of them and even have one in both print and audio. Chales GreenThese books seem to be timeless and never more on point than the present.

Charles Book’s:

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How to Improve Your Trustworthiness 0

Next week’s Business901 podcast is with Charles Green, author of a series of books that have long been a favorite of mine. I own all of them and even have one in both print and audio. These books seem to be timeless and never more on point than the present.Chales Greene

Charles Book’s:

An excerpt from next weeks podcast when we were talking about the Trust Equation:

Trustworthiness = (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) / Self-Orientation

I asked Charles a question on how a salesman could improve his trustworthiness.

Charles: Sales people differ. There are different kinds, not surprisingly, but it turns out that regardless of who you are, probably the best way to improve is to work on the intimacy part. For example, I worked a lot with the people in the profession – with lawyers, accountants, consultants, systems engineers, actuaries. Those people score very high on credibility and reliability, with good reason. They’re smart, they’re left-brain, they’re top of their class – first-born, high-achievers, all that stuff. Furthermore, they believe that because they’re the top of the heap in these high-intellect industries, that somehow that must be what’s making them successful. The truth is, it’s only up to a point.

When it comes to selling, if you’re a professional services person and you’re trying to sell a hundred thousand dollar assignment, or a million dollar, or ten thousand, or whatever, it’s very tempting to think the clients are buying you because you’re smart and an expert in the area, and after all, that’s what they’ll tell you. But, the truth is, the way clients look at that is, “Are you good enough? Do you have technical qualifications that are good enough?” I mean, nobody is going to laugh at me, they’re not going to throw me out, but really, “Do I trust this person?” and when they say ‘trust’, they mean ‘intimacy’ – they mean, “Is this person not going to con me?” “Do I think they have my best interest at heart?” “Do they actually hear what I’m saying?”.

To the extent that you are an expert, you know more things than they do about the subject, they really are putting themselves in your hands. So, it’s quite critical – if you’re a wealth advisor, for example, or a divorce attorney, you’re going to have to turn over all kinds of information, and you’re not the pro. You want to know that those people are on your side, and that falls into the intimacy part of the equation.

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The Tribe of Me, The Tribe of My Group 0

Before Personal Kanban was published, I had Jim Benson on the podcast talking about team work. During the podcast I asked, “I noticed, on your website, where you talk about if you optimize your team and not your people, you’re not really optimized. I really like that statement. We all realize we have to make the individuals work to make a team work, but I noticed that the gradual progression from personal to team, and maybe even Agile to Lean. Can you explain that progression and what you mean by that a little bit?”

Jim Benson: A hierarchy or a series of levels going from a personal level to a small team level to the group level and so forth up an organization. The personal or the individual level is, “I am here, I am part of this company and I want to do a good job, and I simultaneously belong to a couple of different tribes.” So I have the tribe of me, the tribe of my group, and I relate to all of those differently.

But the level of difference between them becomes more pronounced as I become more disenfranchised from that group. I’ve seen many teams that operate very cohesively as a team, but they are outside of the organization. The organization doesn’t value them and vice versa.

Any productive group that is inside an object that isn’t part of that object is basically a cancer. So I’ve seen extremely productive, thoughtful, wonderful groups that act contrary to the needs of their organization, because of their disenfranchisement from that organization.

What I’m trying to do with using the Personal Kanban as a personal Lean. And then the Agile methods, and then the Lean methods is create information flow throughout the organization so that the individual feels like he or she completely understands what’s going on at all the levels up and down from that person.

What’s been my experience is that organizations are very good at blocking information and knowledge from being transferred from place to place. When that happens, the cohesion of the organization starts to break down. The more it is pronounced the more of a breakdown there is. Until you finally get people who are just like, “I’m going to come here. I’m going to act like I’m working. I’m going to get my paycheck. And I’m going to go home.” Because they don’t feel like if even if they worked they wouldn’t be producing anything that anyone cared about.

We use these tools. We use the Personal Kanban on the personal side. This is what I’m doing and this is how I’m dealing with my day. Your team members can see that or if you have a team based Personal Kanban you see at a task level what everybody’s doing. The team then has clarity around what’s happening around the team. This can be augmented with Agile techniques of the daily stand up meetings or retrospectives or even in some cases time boxing, in order to give coherence around the product that they’re creating.

Agile is a strongly team based approach. It was developed, because it was reacting basically to the same forces that I just mentioned. Agile was developed because previously there was only a waterfall approaches. What would end up happening is people would come up and say, “Here’s 250, 000 functional requirements, I’ll see you in six months when you’ve completed my software.” And then they would get to the six-month point and they say, “This isn’t what I asked for?”

That wasn’t a very good way to manage things so Scrum, and XP and other Agile methods came along and said look we’re going to come and we’re going to talk to you much more quickly. We’re going to talk to you every month, or every week, or every couple of weeks, and we’re going to show you these little packets of value. The great benefit of that is that it greatly increased the amount of focus within the team.

Some of the issues that I’ve had with Agile methodologies, and I’ve been working with them for over 13 years now, is that they’re so focused on the team, that the team stops looking outside of the team for guidance. The assumption is that since it’s an Agile group, the rest of the organization is like “Oh, well they’re Agile, so they can get things done really quickly. That’s all we wanted in the first place, was for stuff to be done faster, so we can start ignoring them too.” That didn’t work very well. Agile supercharged the team, but it disconnected it at the same time.

Using the Kanban in the team, the big team, that’s an information radiator, not only to those people in the team saying “This is what we’re doing, and this is what’s blocked, and this is how things are going.” It’s an information radiator out to the rest of the organization, because anybody can come by and see it at any time. It says at every moment what people are doing and since you can see what’s coming up in the backlog, it shows everybody what’s coming up. If anybody up the management chain can come and see what’s going on, and they can make decisions based on that.

From the upper side, the C-level and VP’s and so forth, ideally, those should be the guys that are feeding information into the teams at a rate which they can afford. When the team is pulling their tasks, those tasks should be in a queue that’s not necessarily decided by the team, but by the people above them.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Jim Benson Talks About Personal Kanban

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My Current 7 Step Marketing Outline 0

The last few weeks I have been writing a post a week on how my marketing has transformed over the past several years. I started with, 7 Simple Steps to Improve Your Marketing and followed up with Revisiting the 7 Steps to Improve Your Marketing. Today, I will visit what I might call my current state marketing outline. I have used a 7 Step outline.

As I progress from what you might call a traditional marketing approach in my first 7 Steps and gradually becoming more customer-focused, I moved to the traditional flow that was depicted in the following diagram labeled Value Stream Marketing and explained in a blog post, A Scrum Drawing for Lean Marketing. This approach eventually led to the development of Lean Marketing House: A starting point for creating true iterative marketing cycles based on not only Lean principles but more importantly Customer Value.

Value Stream Marketing
It still forms the basis of my thinking. However, my approach is somewhat different now. In the Lean Marketing House, the foundation was the marketing collateral with the traditional marketing department, the pillars were the Lean Engagement Team, with the ceiling the multiple value streams and the roof was the overlaying vision. This works well in describing a Lean approach, but I found it limiting with the different opinions of actually what Lean is and found myself generally in that discussion over the primary discussion that was needed; Sales and Marketing.

My current approach centers on the Funnel of Opportunity, using an Outcome Based Mapping approach. In this approach depicted on the right, I look at our capabilities, customer behaviors that we are trying to change and of course the over-arching vision. A brief overview of each block: Outcome Based

1.  Standard Work (SDCA): Define core business and put the majority of company resources into the core until it achieves its full potential.

2.  Continuous Improvement (PDCA): Most big ideas are made up of a series of successful smaller ideas driven by a simple and repeatable business model.

3.  New Markets and Products (EDCA): After defining what it cannot do and exploring what it may want to do?

4, 5, 6.  Customer Behaviors: In the Outcome-Based Mapping approach, we view the outcomes as the central part of our theme. We recognize that a change of behavior must occur for us to achieve our goals or make the desired impact that wish to obtain. In traditional sales and marketing we can develop the simplest of all marketing funnels based on (4)pre-purchase, (5)purchase (buy), and (6)post purchase. We have a tendency to complicate this into numerous steps and activities. When we view an outcome-based approach we like to separate the group very similarly into (4)Expect to see, (5)like to see and (6)love to see.

The strength in this process is that you look for changes in behaviors versus trying to move a customer/prospect down a path. When you view your customers/prospects in a linear path, it becomes a manipulative path towards a transactional event. If we view the process as a set of outcomes, we work towards understanding and agreement. In each of these columns, we list progress markers that demonstrate positive movement towards changes of behaviors, actions, activities or relationships of our customers. These changes allow us to support our partner towards a more meaningful outcomes while empowering a more cooperative relationship.

7.  Vision: Michael Schrage, author of Serious Play, published a book taking these concepts one step further. Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become? challenges us to take our value proposition of use to a longer term growth platform. He dares us not only to have a corporate vision statement, but a customer vision statement saying that our future depends on their future. He phrases all this in something he calls “The Ask.” I discuss this concept in more detail in a blog post, Shaping your Customers Vision.

I happen to be a big proponent of understanding your own capabilities and working from your strengths, see my musing in the Lean Scale-Up. This leads to a different way of engagement, a strength-based approach over the traditional problem-solving approach.  I think working from a vision of opportunity allows you a clearer vision and more direct approach.

Mix this approach with Tony Ulwick (What Customers Want) thinking of Outcome-Driven Innovation (Jobs, Outcomes, Constraints), where he claims that these three distinct outcomes are what organizations need to know in their marketing practices. Expanding on them….

  • Jobs (to be Done) are the tasks or activities that customers are trying to get done
  • Outcomes are what customers are trying to achieve
  • Constraints something that may prevent a customer from using a product or service

This really provides the foundation of my present work which I can summarize actually in three steps.

1. Capabilities: Define my work and how much time, resources and money I will devote to each area.

2. Understand my Customer Behaviors (What Customers Want)

3. Provide a Vision (What You Want Your Customer to Be)

Having an Effective Conversation 0

An innovation and strategy consultant, Chris Ertel has years of experience advising senior executives of Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and large nonprofit. Chris talks about his new book Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change in this Business901 Podcast. I thought this excerpt from the podcast was a great “How to” for explaining his message.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Planning Your Strategic Conversations


Excerpt from the Podcast:

Joe: How should the book be used? Is this, as you said, you get a bunch of talented people together and you create a strategic conversation but could it be used in other arenas? Could it be used in weekly meetings? Should I be using some of the points in it or, how should I use the book?

Chris: I think there would certainly be things you could take a way, after you have a standing meeting and that sort of thing, you would be able to take some things away. Its highest value is going to be when the stakes are high, when you have these complex situations, that’s when it’s going to help the most.

I can give you a reader’s essence, a kind of trade craft that’s involved to, though, from a regular meeting because I was involved in a regular meeting. Recently, somebody brought me in and said, “Hey, can you just help out with this,” and it wasn’t a very complicated situation. I said, “Sure,” and in that situation though, one little intervention that I did that’s consistent with the spirit of the book is they had some survey results that they wanted to share and the survey results were, it was one slide and had 11 questions and each of the questions had an answer against, an average number against it. These were the survey data was from customers of the group who was in the audience, so it was important to them and some of the findings were actually quite surprising. There were some negative findings in particular, that were disappointing and surprising, and they had it just on one slide and they were just going to show the slide and have a conversation about it which is pretty straight forward, and I thought, well, that’s not such a good way to go about that. So, let’s have a little more drama to this.

I had them give each, we had 20 people in the room, we split the room into four teams of five people and each team got one big flip chart with the 11 questions on it and then they got post-its that had the 11 answers, the 11 values and we asked them to match the two. So, it’s to rate them like how do you think we rated with our customers in each of these 11 things. They each did that little quick exercise and that was pretty energetic. And then, what I did at the front of the room was I read the answers, the real answers that the customers gave going from the things that they were the best at to the things that they got the lowest response to. So, that created a moment of drama.

It’s like the first one is like, “Hey, good news. You got 5 out of 5 points on this one. You know, pat yourself on the back, all these good stuff, then the next one, the next one, the next one, then the scores start getting low and there’re some big issues remaining. We touched the last ones, they were very surprised. The people who had the highest scoring team on the matches got 5 out of 11 right. With that we launched a good conversation. What I found in other situations that if you share survey data like that, just cold and don’t make people guess or think about it a little bit in advance, they will always almost say, “We knew that,” after they see it. You need to establish the expectation that they have first and then show the results in contrast to that, for them to really make meaning of it and in this case it was pretty effective.


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Telling a Great Business Story Starts With… 0

Dr. Nick Morgan:  Good stories reveal their structure and they tell you where they’re headed and yet, still provide surprises, so you’re interested. When we go to a Hollywood movie, we have certain expectations. We know things are going to start with a bang. We know that the hero is going to off on a long journey and things are going to happen to him and it’s going to be tough. We know that he’s going to win in the end if it’s a happy ending. nick-morgan

We have certain generic expectations. What surprises us then, is the detail along the way. We care about detail. We care about the story only when we know what the overall structure is and we sense that there’s a good story going to happen. When somebody tells an anecdote, there’s no story there and so, we don’t know where it’s headed and we don’t care about it.

Dr. Nick Morgan’s New Book: Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact

Joe Dager:  In a business story, should I be making sure people understand how the story is going to unfold in the beginning?

Dr. Morgan:  Yes, but you have to do it in artful way. You can’t say, “So now, I’m going to tell you a story and it’s going to have a beginning, a middle and an end.” You have to tie it into one of the great basic stories that I talk about in How to Tell Great Business Stories, and is the book that you referenced. There are five of them. There’s the quest. That’s the one that Hollywood tells most often, by far. There’s a stranger in a strange land, there’s revenge, there’s a love story and there’s rags to riches. If you tell one of those five basic stories, then people get it.

If you say, to your business audience, “We’re about to head out on a journey and it’s going to be a long journey. It’s going to be tough and we’re going to have to work late nights and we’re going to have to eat a lot of junk food and drink a lot of Pepsi. We’re going to have to work harder and pull together as a team better than we ever have before.”

If we do that, we’re going to come out with this product, which is going to reinvent the paper clip industry in a way that’s so astounding. We will be heroes. They’ll stand up and cheer for this paper clip that’s like no other paper clip. It’s going to be incredible.

What I’ve done there is I’ve made the audience the hero. I told them that the journey is going to be long and hard. I’ve told them there’s a cool goal that’s worth striving for at the end: that amazing paper clip. That’s the beginning. That’s sketching out a quest story. If you do that, people know where you’re going because they understand the demands, the aspects of the genre. Then, they’ll want to hear the details of what the journey is going to be like.

Joe Dager:  I hear “stories, stories, and stories.” Is it just a catch phrase? Do wWe need to describe everything in stories? Is it practical? People want information, not stories, don’t they? We’re in this Sound bite, Twitter world and we want to get in and out as quickly as we can. Do we want to sit back and hear a story?

Dr. Nick Morgan:  Well, it’s amazing. Even at the same time Twitter is succeeding beyond its founder’s wildest dreams, yes, people do want it short and sweet, they don’t want the detail and so on and so forth. At the same time, people are binge-watching House of Cards on Netflix and they’re binge-watching Game of Thrones. They get into the detail of these kinds of things because those are well-crafted stories. I would say people still love stories. When it’s told well, then they want to get involved. Most of the time, we just want the quick version because it’s not interesting. That’s the mistake that businesses make.

If it keeps it at that uninteresting and superficial level, then, sure, give it to me short because it’s not going to reward me for hanging in there for a long time. But when you tell a good story, a rich one, an interesting one, then we want to hear more. Some businesses are very good at this. Most of them are not. It’s the few that do it well.

This is an excerpt from tomorrow’s Business901 Podcast with Dr. Nick Morgan, who is one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches. A passionate teacher, he is committed to helping people find clarity in their thinking and ideas – and then delivering them with panache. He has been commissioned by Fortune 50 companies to write for many CEOs and presidents. He has coached people to give Congressional testimony, to appear on the Today Show, and to take on the investment community. He has worked widely with political and educational leaders. And he has himself spoken, led conferences, and moderated panels at venues around the world.

 Dr. Nick Morgan’s New Book: Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact