Vantage Blog

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28
Nov
2013

3 Key Ideas to Help Business Leaders Succeed in 2014

1. Is your sales team full of relationship or challenger sales people?
Greater business complexity and uncertainty is driving a rapid shift in the way customers are buying. Logically this is also rapidly changing the requirements from you and your sales team to achieve success. The perception is that the requirements for a successful sales person in the current business environment is one that has a close, friendly relationship with the customer. However research as part of the book “The Challenger Sale” by CEB (a must read!) have demonstrated that those sales people who are “The Relationship Builders make up just 7% of the top performers in sales while those they define as “The Challengers” make up 39%. The Challengers have a deep understanding of the customers industry, challenge their views and love to debate. So while it is great to have close relationships with customers ensure you and your sales team adopt a “challenger” style approach to gain greater success in 2014.


2. Are you trying to be all things to all people?
Too often leaders in business are expected to be brilliant mentors, visionary, financially aware, sales savy, great presenters, strategic and much more in a long list of attributes. It’s near on impossible to be all of those things wrapped up in one neat package as a leader however socially that is typically the perception when you pick up a magazine or read a blog article relating to a business success story. The most effective leaders are those that have a great self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. They focus on their strengths and surround themselves with quality people to cover their weaknesses. Be careful of the trap of trying to be all things to all people and get clear on your strengths for the year ahead.

 

3. What’s on your technology stop doing list for 2014?
At this time of the year it’s always a fantastic time to look at what are the 20% of things you do that create 80% of the benefit and what therefore of the remaining 80% of things you do could you delegate or stop doing all together. Many do this for the various day-to-day activities / processes they are involved with but have you done a similar exercise with regard to the technology you have embraced? Between time on smart phones, blog posts, twitter accounts, email checking, phone calls, logging activity into CRM’s, posting to project management systems there is a HUGE amount of waste. Why not apply the stop doing logic to your current technology usage when planning for 2014 and reap the benefits of a dramatic increase in time / capacity.


by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

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This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

1. Is your sales team full of relationship or challenger sales people?
Greater business complexity and uncertainty is driving a rapid shift in the way customers are buying. Logically this is also rapidly changing the requirements from you and your sales team to achieve success. The perception is that the requirements for a successful sales person in the current business environment is one that has a close, friendly relationship with the customer. However research as part of the book “The Challenger Sale” by CEB (a must read!) have demonstrated that those sales people who are “The Relationship Builders make up just 7% of the top performers in sales while those they define as “The Challengers” make up 39%. The Challengers have a deep understanding of the customers industry, challenge their views and love to debate. So while it is great to have close relationships with customers ensure you and your sales team adopt a “challenger” style approach to gain greater success in 2014. ..

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03
Sep
2013

Book Review – Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

Based around the famous industrialist JD Rockefeller’s approach to business this book outlines a framework to enabling focus on implementing an organisation’s strategies and plans.

There are three core ‘Rockefeller’ principles as espoused by Harnish:

  1. Setting Priorities – what is critical to achieve in the next 90 days.  Pick the top 5 and then the number 1 priority. Create a theme around it and use it to energise and focus the team.
  2. Having the Right Data – ensure all the data and information with which you are not only managing the business, but also monitoring your top 5 priorities, is captured and able to be monitored in an easy manner.  Daily and weekly – by team and by individual.  What is measured happens!
  3. Working to a Rhythm – making sure you have an effective daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meeting structure, with clear agendas and aligned communication protocols. 

The book also lays out an approach to planning and, in particular, a one page plan (which is actually more than one page they just print it in small font or on A3!).  All sensible stuff - a variant on a number of other planning templates.

The value in this book, however, is in my view the top 5 priorities and in particular focussing on what is the most critical thing you need to deliver in the next 90 days.  It would be of real value if you are able to cascade this approach throughout the organisation and develop a focus on what is critical to deliver right now.

Many businesses do a good job of developing their strategic direction and annual business plan but falter at the last hurdle of execution. Some of my clients have used the Rockefeller Principles approach when translating their overall strategy and business plan into implementation and it has been quite successful to date.  So an approach that is worth considering. 

Of course a key criticism can be ‘we have more than 5 top priorities in any one period’.  Yes that may well be so but if you looked back over the last 90 days how many of those multitude of initiatives were you truly able to deliver?  What could you actually achieve if you were able to provide increased focus around key priorities?

It doesn’t really matter what approach you use.  What is key is that you have a  way of ensuring focus on execution – the question ‘what’s important right now to achieve?’ is a good challenge to all those  things that keep you busy each day.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

Based around the famous industrialist JD Rockefeller’s approach to business this book outlines a framework to enabling focus on implementing an organisation’s strategies and plans.

There are three core ‘Rockefeller’ principles as espoused by Harnish:

 ..

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06
Jun
2013

Simple: conquering the crisis of complexity:Book Review

I have found there are 3 types of people in the world.  Firstly there are those that thrive on complexity, making things seem more difficult or complex than they need be.  In part in may be that they thrive on detail, or want to show how smart they are - therefore building up their status by surrounding themselves with complexity.  May be a little harsh, but I bet you know people like that!


Secondly those who are fantastic at seemingly making the complex simple. Reducing challenges and opportunities to their essence. 
And the third group?  The rest of us!  In most cases wanting life/business/relationships to be simpler.  But battling to find a way through the complexity. I therefore read with eagerness “Simple – conquering the crisis of complexity” just published by Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn.


Siegel and Etzkorn come from a design background and mainly focus on communications but it is an interesting, quick read and prompts thoughts around how do you boil things down to their essence – the whole “less is more” thing.

I particularly liked their model on how to achieve simplicity for customers:
  • Empathise – perceive others needs and expectations
  • Clarify – make the offering easier to understand, use, and benefit
  • Distill - boil down and customise what’s being offered to meet needs
A lot of businesses provide customers with lots of choice – every variant and option they could dream up, thinking choice is what customers want.

If, however, they took a long hard look at what customers actually want/need, and apply the Pareto principle, they will no doubt find that 80% of the value will come from 20% of the features or product offering. 

Providing loads of choice is, in many cases, the easy way out – ‘we’ll leave it to the customer to work it out’.  In a world of exploding choice that just adds to the clutter.

Simple tells a number of stories of brands winning the complexity war.  Usual suspects such as Apple and Google, but others like Oxo and some US businesses that provide interesting case studies.

But it is short on practical advice on what to do – how to achieve simplicity in not just your communications and product design, but in your business strategy and model.

This is particularly challenging as simplicity does not mean simplistic.  
Complexity is a reality, and an expanding one at that! And importantly complexity gets in the way of effective implementation of strategy.  It is a barrier to engaging your staff and being able to ensure everyone is focussed on the same goals. To achieve simplicity (or to put it another way, clarity  of purpose) you need to understand in detail your market, your business model, its competitive advantage, needs of customers and of course future opportunities – in short your strategy and how to make it real. (See: Some practical tools to ‘conquer the crisis of complexity’ for my top 5 tools).

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

I have found there are 3 types of people in the world.  Firstly there are those that thrive on complexity, making things seem more difficult or complex than they need be.  In part in may be that they thrive on detail, or want to show how smart they are - therefore building up their status by surrounding themselves with complexity.  May be a little harsh, but I bet you know people like that! ..


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