Leadership: Insight on leadership from Harvard Business Publishing

I came across this video from Harvard Business Publishing. I am fascinated by leadership because I see it as the cornerstone of effective business innovation and overall business success. Watch the video and keep track of the key points. If you are interested in leading anything more than your community barbecue, you’ll become an expert on leadership.

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Sales: Cold Calling Resources from Inc.

Look, it’s as simple as 1+1 = 2.  

Sales and marketing professionals need to pick up the phone and call people to make things happen.  Unfortunately, this simple concept is hard to execute and very hard to execute well.  
If you need new ideas (or a refresher course on old ones) about how to make calls that turn into leads, check out this Inc.com article.

Product Development: Innovate like Proctor & Gamble

Wow.  I came across an article in Inc. magazine that really impressed me.  It’s written by A.G. Lafley of P&G and the business auther Ram Charan.  It is very, very good and it’s a must read for anyone who understands the need for innovation in companies of all shapes and sizes.

The article walks you through the steps of a hypothetical company with 4m in revenue and 30 employees.  

P&G relies on innovation to drive growth; and, yes, it has developed a very effective arsenal of programs, processes, and techniques to generate ideas andconvert them into revenue. It has no choice. P&G operates in more than 150 countries with 85 on-the-ground operations, and it has 138,000 employees in 21 business divisions. This diversification, complexity, and bureaucracy can become innovation’s enemies. Small companies may seem like backyard swing sets by comparison, but backyard swing sets are where children’s imaginations roam free. In fundamental ways, small companies have significant advantages over large corporations when it comes to innovation. Where small companies generally fall down, however, is in building disciplines around the creation, capture, and execution of new ideas. Most small companies develop from a single great notion, usually the brainchild of a brilliant founder. But entrepreneurs can’t afford to remain the sole font of innovation at their businesses any more than they can remain the sole salesperson. Nor can they rely on the passions of their staff and the mental sparks created when 30 people interact each day in close quarters. Innovation requires work. Workrequires structure. For companies,invention is 1 percent inspiration, 49 percent perspiration, and 50 percent smart routine.

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Sales: Negotiation, Inside the deal

If you’re involved in sales or marketing, do yourself a favor and check out this article from The Economist.

Essentially, it points out that research done by Adam Galinsky of Kellogg School of Management has found a strikingly simple insight. Empathy can make you sacrifice your own interests. In contrast, simply taking the perspective of the other side and leaving empathy at the door can help you find a solution that maximizes the interests of both sides.

Inside a deal
From The Economist print edition


It pays to get inside your opponents’ heads rather than their hearts

JUDGED by the number of times that negotiations are said to have ended in a “win-win situation”, striking a successful deal might seem easy. There are, after all, shelves full of books offering advice about how to succeed as a negotiator.

The main tip is to gain bargaining power by understanding the person on the other side of the table. But what exactly does a negotiator need to know about his antagonist? In a series of experiments a team of researchers have come up with some intriguing answers in a report just published in Psychological Science.

Adam Galinsky of Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Illinois, and his colleagues looked at two related approaches often used to understand the opponent in negotiations: perspective-taking and empathy. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they are different. Perspective-taking is the cognitive power to consider the world from someone else’s viewpoint, whereas empathy is the power to connect with them emotionally.

They conducted a series of experiments using more than 150 MBA students who had just enrolled on a ten-week course on negotiations—so they were novices. The students were divided into pairs. One played the part of the seller of a petrol station and the other the buyer. They were told to strike a deal, but this could not be done on price alone, because the maximum the buyer was allowed to pay was lower than the seller’s reserve price. So only a creative deal would work (made possible because the seller needed to finance a sailing trip but would later want a job, and the buyer needed to hire managers to run the petrol station). Just over two-thirds of the pairs managed to reach a deal. Analysis showed that when the buyer in particular had a perspective-taking ability it could predict a successful outcome.

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Leadership: Promoting Organizational Change

I’ve seen it time and time again. Change can be a difficult thing to approach. First, people get comfortable with processes and can see altering them as an affront on their values. If you are at a company with processes that may need to change step carefully. People can take things personal.

Be careful but candid. Avoid implying that the old way is worthless or has no value. Instead, frame any suggestions as additions to the current system or approach. Remember, smart people probably came up with the current system. Attempt to understand the underlying value in it and clearly communicate how this value is strengthened in the new approach.

Change takes time and you have to earn the credibility needed to alter course. Don’t give up, instead make reference to your desire to help, keep things positive, share stories and slowly lead the changes that must take place.

Product Development: S/he who owns the compiler wins

Are you having a difficult time getting developers to improve your product, webpage, or other customer-facing item?

Start moving in the right direction and stop trying to simply persuade. Instead of making a data-less request, leverage the relevant information below to communicate the need for change. The five data sources below are hard for negate.

  1. Win-loss sales analysis
    • Are you losing valuable business?
    • How many prospects walked away because of the issue?
    • When surveyed, how many responses pointed you in this direction?
  2. Competitive Information
    1. Are your competitors advancing and leaving your product looking shabby?
    2. Get tactile. Print out descriptions, take photos, capture screen shots, and make videos to get the point across.
  3. Customer input
    • Look, there are three ways to get business: finding more customers, current customers renewing, and selling more products to your current customers Two of these three involve your current customers! How many of them want what you’re trying to get done?
  4. Market trends
    • What are the expert’s saying? Print out their insight and get it read.
  5. sales engineering and customer service input
    • For some reason these two groups tend to get a warmer response to their insight than sales people. Don’t ask me why. Survey these groups and find out what they think. Then compile the data and get it read.

They may try to refute your data, but be patient. Developers are inundated with requests just like yours. Once the to-do list gets long, their natural reaction will be to push back at more items. Your reaction would probably be the same!

The silver bullet to getting their buy in by helping them to prioritize the requests from your department.

Start by getting them to look at the items in their queue from your department. If you’re the manager of the department, tell them in what order you’d like the projects (or tasks) to be completed. If you are not the manager of the department, simply prioritize the list and get your manager’s approval.

Whatever you do, don’t be pushy or rude. Remember the golden rule? Say thank you, let them know you appreciate any help they can provide you, and keep the number of requests to a minimum. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll always get what you need, although not always what you want.

Business Development: 5 Hot International Markets

Of course we all know the importance of being global. The more important question is where to begin. Here is a hot list of five markets to target first (read the full article from Entrepreneur Magazine here).

  1. Brazil
  2. Russia
  3. India
  4. China
  5. Mexico

Each market is difficult for different reasons. Your key to success will center around your understanding of which niche needs your product or service and finding out how to reach them most efficiently. Do your homework and start networking and looking for partners before you buy a plane ticket. Arrange a full week of meetings and be prepared to alter the product or service to fit the specific needs of the market.

If you can’t get this right and get your product into markets abroad, be prepared to find out about international competition the hard way; when they’re selling in your back yard.