Let me Tell you What’s Going On…
by Kevin D. Crone
A lot of changes!
I’m up north at the cottage on the beautiful pristine lower French River delta, in the middle of summer, and I have a big sweater on and all the windows shut at seven in the morning. (A polar vortex, whatever that is… A lot of big business changes are just as weird to grasp.) I thought I would summarize the biggest trends I see. This comes from two years of research, listening to Ontario business people in my small group dialogues, and from personal experience in coaching teams to adjust and change!
Some changes you can taste. They are right on you, like the weather. Others are more subtle and it’s hard to connect the dots to see the distinctions. My job over these next two Mondays, is to continue to wake you and your business up so you can respond, adapt and move forward to what you want for your business, team and for yourself.
- A) The market is risk adverse, with discerning purchasing habits of business-to-business buyers.
They’ve become sophisticated since the big downturn of 2008 (I bet you can feel this one). This means what you offer may not be adequately adjusting to the motives of your buyers. I find that few businesspeople can clearly describe their offering, its outcomes, and how it matches customer motives as it is, let alone what it should be. (Try selling stuff that people aren’t attracted to!) As they say in the restaurant business, “If sales are tough, try seeing what’s coming out of the kitchen.” Your story to the market about your product benefits, how great your service and product quality is, doesn’t cut it like it used to. Only 38% of buyers say this is important to them. Everyone says the same stuff and buyers hear blah blah blah! The internet has commoditized most businesses. Oh, oh, here comes the demand for better pricing and the resulting lower margins. Better keep cutting costs – but can you shrink your way to success?
- B) It’s tougher to access or sell to the market. Few buyers want to hear your product or service pitches.
Even the great ‘relationship sales’ types are finding it harder, and the first-in-class ‘solution seller’ just doesn’t get the time to analyze customer problems like they did. The buyer thinks they know their issues (Google tells them so). Heck, buyers don’t return calls even when you’ve busted your butt for them. Nothing seems to get buyers’ attention – especially since they seem to have to sift through so much information and messaging.
- C) Leadership is not a title.
Leadership is about taking people to where the business needs to go. Management is about keeping things in order. We are spoiled. Management was sufficient. What’s missing for most businesses today, is for someone or a leadership team to see what’s going on in reality and engage teams in creating what’s required to advance the business. What’s needed is to re-examine and reset the offering, story and sales strategy, and process. Leaders today have to cause change, wake up complacency, influence people effectively and ignite their teams into going after new possibilities and opportunities. This is reality. In conservative Ontario, we’re used to living off technical competence and keeping things in order with all of our safety nets. Now we have to cause fresh starts to compete differently.
… to be continued… look out for Part Two – next week!
- What occurs to you that you should do more of or stop doing?
- What is your first action? Remember, action is all there is.
Kevin D. Crone
Dale Carnegie Business Group
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