"...keeping you great" Ten Minutes with the Growth Guy
Trumps Harvard -- we had many experienced CEOs and executives that have been through the Harvard negotiation courses (purportedly the best) who raved that Dr. Victoria Medvec's (Northwestern University) detailed 10 step process for handling complex negotiations clearly trumps anything they had learned before -- she is the Jim Collins of Negotiation, backing up her approach with solid research and "in-field" experience since she's often the chief negotiator on multi-million dollar deals. She was the opening four hour workshop this week at the Sales and Marketing Summit -- following is a summary of top ideas from the faculty:
Name price first! -- There are six steps that must occur before you name price first. However, what is clear from the research is that whoever names price first achieves one key objective -- strengthening the relationship instead of damaging it. By letting the other person name price first, in most cases what you're countering with is subtlety saying "that your product, service, business, etc." isn't worth what you think it is -- and for many this can be downright insulting. By offering price first, you put the other party in the position of countering. This is very, very important and the opposite of what most of us were taught.
Make offers face-to-face or via phone -- NEVER send in your proposal via email, fax, or mail. First, this prevents you from being rejected outright without the ability to defend your proposal. Second, synchronous communication lets you gauge reactions immediately and make adjustments if necessary. Third, pushing for all synchronous communication (face-to-face or phone) can shorten lengthy negotiations from months to days -- again, she has the real world experience and research. And she showed us how to get around the purchasing agent, even when the RFP explicitly states you can't talk to anyone but the purchasing agent.
Reactive vs. proactive service -- Randy Schwantz, author of The Wedge, drove home the point that what most of us call "great service" (which is generally a key differentiator when you're not strictly the low price competitor) is really just reacting to customer issues as they come up i.e. "hey, if it breaks we'll fix it in 24 hours, etc." What we need to do is bundle all these "service" pieces into a proactive service offering, give it a name like "Gold Service" and use it to truly differentiate our offering from the competition.
Challenge sales candidate in first interview -- Dave Kurlan, CEO of Objective Management (for 30 years the leading sales organization assessment tool used by professionals around the world), emphasized the importance of making the first interview with a potential sales candidate a challenging event i.e. act like the kinds of customers they will encounter on first sales calls -- rushed, making them wait, not overly friendly, guarded -- and see how they react in the first five minutes of the interview (great sales candidates will figure out what you're doing and actually enjoy the challenge). The second interview then is the "good cop" interview. He suggested renting the movie "Antitrust" and watch the great recruiting scene.
iPhone will ultimately fail -- Laura Ries, author of "Branding," made a strong case for why markets diverge instead of converge, giving growth firms the opportunity to pick new niches within a specific industry i.e. within technology, something IBM used to own in total, Microsoft now owns the operating system, Dell/HP the PCs, Oracle the databases, and IBM just services. Thus she predicts the iPhone will have limited success. Like her, I see business people with a phone, PDA, and iPod because each does its job superbly whereas combo units (note the death of TV, DVD combo units) have to sacrifice key aspects to integrate.
The answer is yes...now what is the question? -- John DiJulius, author of "Secret Service," wowed us with his motivational presentation style while delivering concrete substance on driving superior service. We walked through an exercise where we outlined several key situations in our businesses where we're tempted to say "no" and how our teams should handle without saying "no." I loved the Disney example where a child that was a ¼" too short to get on a ride, but had waited in line for an hour (despite the various warnings about height restrictions) leaves the ride operator in a huge bind of having to say "no." Instead, they are instructed to give the child a certificate that lets them cut to the front of the line the next time they visit Disney and are tall enough. How much is that child going to bug their parents to come back to Disney!!! Brilliant solution. You can find similar solutions in your business.
2008 Sales and Marketing Summit -- next year's Summit, with a whole new faculty, will be April 22 -- 23, 2008. We've not picked a location, but you can lock in the dates. And so many of the CEOs attending, like always, wished they had brought more of their team. Hope to see you teams next year and this fall at our Growth Summit October 23 -- 24 in Las Vegas.