Life happens. Sometimes it happens at breakneck speeds. This week was one of 'those' weeks. The kind that blurs by you and you reflect at the end of it and wonder, "How did all of THAT fit into one tiny week?" I won't go into all the details, yet suffice it to say that Evernote and Outlook are this girl's BFFs! Let's jump into the lesson, shall we?
Lesson of the week:
1. Think like a boy scout: Be prepared. One of my dear friends and colleagues suggests that you work ahead two days. Most people get a chuckle out of that and then say, "yeah right?" He goes on to say that each of your activities falls within one of four categories: Urgent and Important, Urgent not as Important, Important not as Urgent, and Not Important Not Urgent. A reasonable way to look at things for the most part. What is missing here, in my opinion, is the OTHER person's categorization. I like to use the concepts of the Johari window to understand that often, what you know and understand as public knowledge, may in fact be a blind spot.
In our hurried block and tackle lives, there are a lot of missed opportunities to drill into and make absolutely sure that all parties agree on the priority, deadline, expectations and critical success factors of any given activity. We rely on email to get the message across and act as a audit trail, yet miss the fact that the intended audience is likely not reading the message or skimming it on a 3"x 4" cell phone screen. How can we be so disconnected in our always connected world?
Back to the lesson. Knowing that there are multiple players and channels for communication means making a multi-tiered plan for all communications. Even - GASP - in person and on the phone. Make a check list in advance, here is one that I like:
If you have not personally answered each of these questions - you likely have created your own blind spot. There will be a question that needs to be answered that has not been thought of or asked - so keep asking. Being prepared means you know that there will be unanswered questions or gaps and trying to anticipate those to prevent an emergenc.y. Or in the words of Sir Robert Baden-Powell (founder of the boy scouts): “Be Prepared... the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.”
Don't let others create an emergency that takes you by surprise. Be Prepared.
Are you there to hear it? Are you listening? What do you hear?
You remember the saying: "One mouth, two ears," right? What does that mean for sales professionals and marketers? I think...I may be going out on a limb here...that it means we (sales/marketing pros) need to spend more time listening and more importantly, understanding our audiences.
In the world of B2B, IMHO, there is still too much show up and throw up, or as Sandler puts it...spilling your jelly beans in the lobby. Do you go to your doctor only for him to tell you what is wrong with you before a single question is asked? I think not! Yet, having spent half a lifetime with or in sales, I see it over and over ... "I hear you are looking for a Woozawhatzit, let me tell you all about ours and why we are better at selling it!" Classic 'FAB' (features, advantages, benefits) or the bizzaro version 'FUD' (fear, uncertainty, doubt) selling should be deadwood - but it seems they are not. Are sales and marketing professionals not supposed to seek first to understand before being understood?
As I reflect on my past 9 years of work, I am guilty of letting this behavior proliferate all around me. And guiltier still of advancing it, nurturing it with collateral and content demanded by the pitchfork bearing sales masses. "We need this content marketing ogre or we'll burn your village down." So we produced to save the village.
I may not have the answer, yet, but that may be because the right question hasn't been asked.
With a decade plus of experience as a brand ambassador and chief sloganista, I am fascinated with customers and their customers. Ever curious, I love to analyze data, talk to people and seek to know "Why?"