It's All About the Data

It's All About the Data
It's All About the Data

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Avoiding Information Overload



In this age of BIG DATA and information overload, exactly how much information can we absorb.  When we communicate with our customers/clients, what is the right amount of information to provide?  The answer to these questions will always depend on:

  • communication mode (face to face, email, web-meeting),
  • customer sophistication (is this new technology, are you evangelizing, etc.,
  • relationship with the customer (new or existing).

However, there are some 'rules of thumb' worth keeping in mind.

Physiologist George Miller developed a 'maximum packets of data' theory.  I am calling it the…


MAGICAL 7 +/- 2

 
What the theory describes is that in any one encounter (sales call, presentation, conversation) the human brain can absorb/understand 7 (plus or minus 2) packets of data at one time. 

Let us think about this for a second.  Seems to make sense.  If I try to push too much information, I lose my audience, they drown in the information.  In my research of  infographics, the same theory applies; too much graphics/data, and the audience is overloaded - and then disconnects. 
 
My experience has been I try to leave my conversations/presentations with one or two key points, with an informational backup of 3-5 relevant stats/data/info.  This seems to follow in line with Mr. Miller's theory.

What does this mean to you, who must present to customers, talk to customers, interact with customers?

  1. Avoid powerpoint overload.  Endless text violates the magical 7 +/- theory. 
  2. Plan ahead.  What are the 5-9 key data points you want the listener to go away with?
  3. Try the "tell them what you will say, say it, and recap what you said".  This will help define and clarify the 5-9 datapoints.
  4. Please keep the data graphics simple.  Too much information causes the brain to simply 'tune out'.

Most of this seems common sense, however, it is amazing to see in many presentations how these common sense rules are violated and ignored.
 
Better communication leads to better customer/client understanding, which leads to a better customer experience.
 
David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Preparation Separation



There is a football player, Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) that has a saying that goes:

The separation is in the preparation


We are used to catchy phrases used by sports teams to rev up their energy, etc.  However, Wilson walks the walk.

Other quotes about preparation

"Preparation is the key to success" - Alexander Graham Bell

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe" - Abraham Lincoln


"Opportunity is a haughty goddess who wastes no time with those who are unprepared" - George S. Clason


So what are the strategies for excellent preparation.

  • Visualization:  Seeing is believing; it is the way the brain processes information.  By visualizing the key parts of the presentation, the game, the outcome and visualizing completion successfully,  you will increase the chance for success.
  • Study:  That is the part that is underestimated.  Nothing beats the studying part of success.  We all have things to learn, some things to study, concepts to absorb.
  • No time to waste:  Procrastination is the enemy to success.  Waiting does not bring success, letting someone else do it does not make success - being an active participant is the only way.  Personal accountability to the success is the grease of the success engine.

Russell Wilson is not the biggest guy, and would probably admit not the smartest, but he has outworked, and outperformed his way to a Super Bowl Championship.  What made him a champion, a success, was preparation - that endless desire to BE BETTER than he was the previous day.

What are we each doing to be more of a success each day and each opportunity?

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation. @dhaynestech

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Listen - Analyze - Synthesize: A Business Process


When determining customer needs, there are three areas of concentration:
  • Listening
  • Analyzing
  • Synthesizing

If you are having trouble with figuring out what the customer is trying to say or determining a customer's need, you are probably missing one of the three parts.

LISTENING

In general, we all could do better at listening.  Listening to what the customer:
  • says
  • and more importantly "does not say".

Customers, like most people, do not want to admit to issues until they are way past critical stage.  Some gentle questions, open-ended, will usually get the customer to speak more directly to their pain, and therefore business need.

If you are always convincing people you are right, you are not listening to their needs.  I think lively exchange is the best.  Lively exchange focuses on a conversation that elicits emotion from the customer.  Give the customer every opportunity to express their needs.

Ask open-ended questions (open-ended questions cannot be answered with yes, or no, or one-word answers).  Ask clarifying and follow up questions.  Take excellent notes.  Those notes would include your thoughts, strategies, and tactics too.

ANALYZING

The next step is to analyze what you heard.  Sometimes this can happen during the conversation, but I found it is more effective to focus on information gathering during the conversation and it is better to analyze after the conversation.  Why?  Because by reviewing your notes after a bit of time passing, it gives you a better analysis.  Your brain should be working behind the scenes to analyze the information.

Make sure to:
  • Think about what business issues you are trying to solve, including the desired deliverable.
  • Discuss with internal sources (salespeople, internal technical resources, etc).
  • Re-read your notes to reveal key themes.

SYNTHESIZING

Synthesize is defined as combining various components into new whole;  to combine different ideas, influences, or objects into a new whole.  So the act of synthesizing is a process of 'connecting the data' you have gathered into a new whole.  What does the 'new whole' consist of:
  • An understanding of the problem to be solved in a clear and definitive way.  What is the business problem to be solved.
  • What is the defined solution to the problem.  As you should note, the solution needs to solve the problem.
  • How will you know when the problem is solved. How will the customer know?  This would correlate with the Conditions of Success.
  • An understanding (even if just in a broad way) the major tasks required to accomplish the solution.

A collogue of mine suggested that this is mostly a vetting process, and I quite agree.  Part of the process may conclude in that you cannot solve the business problem, the customer does not have a compelling event, or there is not adequate schedule or budget to solve the business problem.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Truth + Being Right


For those of you Jack Nicholson movie buffs, we remember his speech in "A Few Good Men".  For a refresher - click link.  The memorable line is "You can't handle the truth !"

WHY BEING RIGHT SUCKS

We all have some issues with 'truth', especially when 'truth' is pointed at us.  We seem to do better when 'truth' is aimed at others (spouse, kids, team members, etc.).  Why is that?
  • We remember all the scoldings we got as kids, and it makes us feel bad.
  • We feel justified in our actions, so therefore we couldn't be wrong.
  • We need to lead, so leaders must not ever be wrong.

Well, if you lead a team of any sort or type, it is deadly to be always right.  Especially reminding the team that you were right is even worse.  Then, on top of it all, you state that you being 'right' is some universal 'truth', that the team better understand and comply.

What you get in the end of all this is animosity, reluctance, inaction, and other team crushing behavior.


WHAT CAN YOU DO AS A LEADER

First, there are no easy answers.  I really believe we only learn when we fail, when we were not right - when sometime we didn't know the 'truth'.  So where is the balance - how can we assist in spreading the 'truth'?

  • If is now clear to me that you can't stop someone from making the mistake, no matter how much you try. They will learn best from their own mistakes; learning their own truths.
  • As a leader, be there to support and assist after the fall - help clean up the mess.
  • Talk about what we 'wish we would have known before' the problem arose.
  • Let them come to their own conclusion - it will be a more powerful lesson.
  • Express that you have made the same mistake.  You will come off as more 'normal' and less like Jack Nicholson in the movie.

However, you must, in my opinion, still teach, still counsel, still set team standards, and most of all you must set the example as a leader.  Lead by example, by being a good team member also.


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Balancing Transparency


There is a gentle balance between total transparency and 'black box mentality".

TRANSPARENCY - where everything you know is known to the customer.  This is sometimes called a "data dump".  By being transparent with our customers, we enable trust, foster communication, and build customer loyalty.  All good things.

BLACK BOX MENTALITY - where "delegated to and controlled by someone else, and left unobserved until the final deliverable" - http://www.businessmarketinginstitute.com/tmn92705-blackbox.html

Transparency is considered good while black box is considered bad.  My take is a bit different.  When hiring a professional, we need to let them do their work.  When I go to the doctor, I don't ask to be there when the blood analysis is done by the blood technician, because I might want to do it myself later.

My point is that transparency has been used, at times, in the hope of learning the 'secret sauce' , thus eliminating the professional specialist, and the costs therein.
  • This discounts the time and effort the professional has invested to learn the solution to the problem, and how to accomplish it in the most effective manner.
  • Even if a 'data dump' was possible, it will be not be complete.  Processes and methodologies will be learned incorrectly.
  • Data dumps usually require, to be effective, a lot of documentation that is never repeatable and scalable for the professional.

SETTING EXPECTATIONS
As a customer, it is important to communicate what the expectations are, as a service provider we must also set expectations.  Service providers, read my blog, about the process of setting expectations.

Setting expectations involves early communication, thoughtful negotiation, and mutual benefit to both sides of the negotiation.

What is the best balance?:
  • If you have hired a consultant, let them do their work.  Demand communication, assist in setting expectations (early in the process), and understand that the service provider is in business to make money.
  • If you really want to learn the process in detail - state that early, and be prepared for the provider to walk away (that is what my doctor said when I asked to learn how to do surgery).
  • Be a good partner.  Provide clear information early (see expectations above). Do your part (on time).


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Six Strategies for Effective Leadership



I was listening to a podcast from Pete Carroll (football coach), and his words caught my attention.  Instead of the usual lingo (blitz, 2 deep zone, etc), he spoke at a higher level.  He made a profound statement:

Know who you are

I said ok, but I thought about  the famous saying "I'm okay, you're okay", but quickly added "I'm okay, but you really need some work".  So I was very interested in how Pete was going to make the logical progress from all-accepting to achieving goals.

His strategy was simple and worth repeating.

  • Gameplan - Have a gameplan.  Do we start each day with goals in mind, or are we just surviving?  I hear more and more from my management friends, that their team "is just trying to survive".  Wake up each morning with a gameplan and goals to be achieved that day.

  • Language - This is all about communication.  When I say  "imperative" do you understand what I mean?  When I say "strategy" or "tactics", are we communicating?  If not, then we don't have the same language.  Verbal exchange (face-to-face) needs to be the main methodology of communication in our world.  Lessen those tweets, and cryptic emails - reach out and talk to your team.

  • Consistency - The coach's comment was "say what you are going to do and then DO IT".  If you manage people, be accountable to them, that is the most effective way to have the team reach its goals. If the management is not consistent in theme, presentation, and ACTION - you are destined for inefficiencies.

  • Everyone on Same Page - This may seem obvious, but usually the lack of 'same page' is one of the causes of team dysfunction. 

  • Build on strength and uniqueness  - This one was key for me.  Sometimes we struggle to expand, to do something different and miss the uniqueness that makes us special.  Can you define your personal, team, and company strength and uniqueness - that is your BRAND.  Leverage your BRAND, maximize your BRAND.

  • Focus on task at hand - Provide high-energy, focused energy to complete core tasks.  There are lots of blogs and web sites devoted to this.  My current belief is to turn off your phone, get to a quiet place and get to the business of getting things done.

What surprised me, and encouraged me, was that the strategies noted above can be applied to so much we do in life:  work, home, relationships, hobbies.  The blueprint is above, now is the time to implement those strategies.


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Journey - Taking a step


Every journey starts with a first step.

That frightening and anxiety-ridden first step.  Why do we pause….
  • Are we scared
  • Are we prudent
  • Are we frozen?

I learned that the first thing to do is to reduce the directions to take with the first step.  Should I go north, south, east or west.  If you know what direction you don't want to go, that increases the possibility of going in the right direction.

OK - how do we take this notion and apply it to our work?

  • To do good work, you need to do things you have never done before (take a risk)
  • This journey, takes a 'first step'
  • Decide what direction you are going to go.  This involves deciding such things as:
    • What are the company's goals for this journey?
    • Who can I get to assist me on my journey?
    • How much effort am I willing to put in?  Are you all-in or just surviving?
    • When is it due?  You will need to match the effort to the available time available.


The other item I learned is that you cannot eat an elephant in one bite.  What does that mean?
  • Break the larger/longer journey into smaller easier trips.   Take your project and decompose it into smaller sub-projects.
  • Anxiety is reduced when smaller steps and more goals that can be reached are created.  Anxiety is what stops us from taking those uncertain steps on the journey.

Your life's journeys need to be nurtured, but can not be fully realized without taking the first step.  Take a step today.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Lean Healthcare - A recent voyage



Healthcare is going through a transformation.  Obamacare is one of the changes.  Other healthcare organizations are promoting the notion of "lean healthcare".  See the following website to get the basics:(http://leanhealthcareperformance.com/leanhealthcare/leanhealthcare.php).

I had the chance to use a hospital touting lean healthcare.  The hospital's goal was stated as "to provide a better user experience and reduce waste".  Luckily, I was not the patient. 

Without going into all the aspects of the experience, here are my observations/concerns:
  • Why ask all the patients to make sure they show up at the same time, only to not have enough administrative staff to check them in?
  • If HIPPA has been around for a while now, why is the queuing process of patients so bad?
  • This hospital used barcodes on the patient tags, but absolutely no one scanned the barcode.  Instead, the process used was to ask me (I was the designated driver) the same set of questions over and over.  I must say they had no sense of humor when I varied my answer slightly each time.
  • Lastly, this was the question that drove me up a wall -  "why are we here every 5 minutes of the pre-operative process?" - does not seem very lean to me.

Okay, so what is my point?  If healthcare, with all its revenue sources, and in general, a fairly consistent and repetitive pre-operative process has these issues, how can other businesses have any chance of being 'leaner'?

  • First, nothing beats employee 'buy-in' to the process.  100% buy-in.
  • Second, the existing process must change to become lean.  You can not force the existing process to be lean, by simply calling it 'lean'.
  • Have a plan and execute on it - get customer feedback (the healthcare organization did not want mine).
  • Lastly, continuous improvement is required.

It is not an easy journey, but  the reward is worth the effort.


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Empowered vs. Entitled vs. Embittered


Which are you?  Your daily actions end up stating where you stand in this continuum more than what you say. 

Some quick definitions (Free Online Dictionary):

Empowered - To equip or supply with an ability; To enable
Entitled - To furnish with a right or claim to something
Embittered - To arouse bitter feelings

Here are the general characteristics of each:


Empowered
Entitled
Embittered
Leadership
I can lead by example
People should just do what I tell them to do
I could do better than those 'guys'
Mentoring
I want to pass my knowledge to others
Who can I convince to mentor me
Learn it on your own, I am too busy
Learning
Where are my weaknesses, how can I improve?
Who is going to pay for this, do I get overtime?
I got other things to do
Challenges
I need to address these challenges, I will step up
Who is going to tell me what to do next
Not me, someone else, not my job
Managing Up (blog)
I will learn to manage up in a mutually beneficial way
It is my manager's issue to reach out to me
I would rather not talk to my manager

It has been said that the group born between 1979 and 1994 is the 'entitled' generation.  I don't know if that is true, I have found a lot of entitled and embittered team members of all ages.  The only difference is the embittered team members stay mostly quiet in discussions, while the entitled team members are very vocal.

HOW CAN I BECOME EMPOWERED?

It isn't easy to change your spots, and it is especially difficult to change if you have been working at the same place for a period of time.  If you are up for a challenge, here are the steps to get to 'empowered' in your existing job, or your next job:

  1. First, make a list of the embittered and/or entitled behavior you are aware of.  You won't be able to change immediately, but acknowledgement is the first step to change.

  1. Empowerment is all about taking charge of your life.  This doesn't mean forgetting about work, but it is about focusing on how you can get better at your job and make your company stronger.  This mutually beneficial way of improvement is the key to empowerment.

  1. Take a leap (it involves risk); think about how you can provide value to the company, take ownership of that value proposition, and drive toward a successful completion no matter what obstacles - that's empowerment.  You will feel great about the accomplishment and change the mindset of those around you.


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Just the Facts?


Have you ever had a customer/client get mad at you when you told them facts - all you said was:
- "The software won't solve 'x feature need'".
- "The process you are using is flawed."
- "If you don't have upper management buy-in, the success of the change is in doubt".

You have an upset client, now you are confused, and need to get this meeting back on-track.  All you did was give them "just the facts".

Why do you think the customer/client gets so mad?  Usually when the customer gets mad, the customer/client is really expressing anxiety.  Anxiety that:

- You have been able to diagnose the situation so quickly
- The solution is not a simple one
- The customer/client had just felt a pain and you are touching the bruise.


OVERCOMING THE ANXIETY

How can a better job be accomplished of telling the customer the 'facts'?


  1. Don't spit it out in the first five minutes of the meeting.  If nothing else, you will sound like a know-it-all.  At least spend time credentialing yourself  - (We have helped others, other successful implementations/projects).
  2. Ask as many confirming questions as you can.  Start broad and shallow before using granular-level questions.
  3. Use the feel, felt, found strategy - see blog.
  4. Facts, without a path to success, is counter-productive.  In each of the examples above (software, process, buy-in), there is a alternate answer that conveys the facts in a better (easier to accept) way.



Issue
Fact
Reducing Anxiety
Software
The software won't solve 'x' feature
Talk about a work-around,  process change or inquire about what the feature does.
Process
The process you are using is flawed
Help customer/client understand that there are better ways to achieve goal with less effort.  This is especially powerful if you are talking to a decision maker or Owner.  Feel, Felt, Found works well here.
Management Buy-In
No buy-in = no change
This is tougher.  Appeal to the decision-makers need for a successful implementation/project.  Appeal to their sense that if there is consensus, the team will work together to make the project/change a success.


I started this blog about facts and ended with customer anxiety.  My experience is that when the customer is upset over the facts provided, they are really expressing anxiety over either the compelling event that requires a change - or - anxiety that the change will not be successful.

Modifying the way we present facts, reduces the anxiety, and increases customer adoption, success, and satisfaction.


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com). David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Tools vs. Process

We use many tools everyday.  We use cellphone to call, a cordless drill to put together a new desk for the home office, and software tools to get business done.  Accomplishing business tasks is a 'process' - whether the task is inputting invoices into an accounting package, designing buildings, writing purchase orders, or doing big data analytics.

There is a debate that goes on about the tools - Which tool is best?  This happens in cellphones (Apple vs. Samsung), cordless drills (Makita vs. DeWalt), and software (PC vs. Mac).  In the software world, there is even a more divisive battle over the tools to complete specific office-based tasks (Google Docs vs. MS Office).  

There is a current theory stating "the tool is unimportant, it is about the process".  I agree that efficient and productive business processes are most important.  But what about "the right tool for the job".

WHY THE TOOL CHOSEN SO IMPORTANT?

As the picture illustrates, it is possible to hammer a screw into a piece of wood, but it is inefficient and does not lead to a good result.  Same goes for business tools selection.  Here is my take:

1. If the product is free, you got what you paid for.  If you believe that the free tool is just as good, realize the free software has other purposes (example Google Docs - do you think that Google is doing some sort of analytics on your work?)
2. If you are deciding on two competing tools, look for the company that has been innovative.  Innovation will lead to business process improvements. 
3. The more powerful the tool, the more training required.  If it is a drill with lots of options - you will need to read the instruction manual to use all the options.  If the tool is software - get process-based training to fully utilize the business benefits.

CAN I HAVE IT ALL?

I think you can have it all (great tools with great process), but it takes investment.  Investment in the software, implementation, training, and on-going support all are key building blocks to fully leverage and maximization of business process improvements.  This is especially true if the business is based upon services (the selling of labor by the hour or task).  All improvements to the process efficiency (including re-work) benefit directly to the bottom line.

Nothing comes for free, but like in financial world; invest wisely and the payback is certain.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Thinking - Critical or Creative


Critical thinking has many definitions, mostly applied to the field of education.  Critical thinking, as defined to the business world is best defined as:

"the process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion" - Wikipedia

Key words in the definition would be:
• Actively
• Synthesizing
• Evaluating
• Information
• Conclusion

Team members need to actively evaluate and synthesize information to form a conclusion.

CREATIVE THINKING  vs. CRITICAL THINKING

Often, creative types, like design or marketing people say they are 'creative'; therefore, can not be critical thinkers.  Creative people generate ideas or products, and critical thinkers are analytical in nature.  Can they live in the same organization?

I think creative and critical thinking can co-exist  - - they are two halves of the whole.  A business organization needs both.

CAN SOMEONE BE BOTH A CREATIVE AND CRITICAL THINKER

I believe yes.  It just takes using different parts of the brain.  If you create things, you need to be able to synthesize inputs to create.  If you come to a conclusion, you have created something (a conclusion).

Embrace both sides of yourself - your creative side and your critical thinking side.  Exercise both parts equally and each part (creative and critical) will become stronger.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Goals: Then - Now - If



Every so often, I read and hear something that gives me a moment of pause, a chance to take stock of me.  I was looking at LinkedIn and ran across this discussion…

Please review the YouTube video of Matthew McConaughey's acceptance speech.  I want to talk about McConaughey's three points and how they relate to our business lives.

LOOK UP TO
Whether you are as religious as McConaughey is, or not - we still need something to look up to.  Someone or something that we aspire to be.  Some traits that you believe are essential.  The traits that I look up to are honesty, mentorship, and leadership.  The question is  - WHAT DO YOU LOOK UP TO?

LOOK FORWARD TO
Every business trip I go on , I look forward to getting home, to seeing my wife's smile, and giving our dog Toby a big tummy scratch. 

Our business life should revolve around what  gives us passion, what we look forward to doing.  If you are not looking forward, then I believe you are stuck.  WHAT IS YOUR PASSION?

SOMETHING TO CHASE
I loved McConaughey's answer here.  He said he was chasing himself ten years down the line.  I chase getting better at what I do as a man, a husband, and in my job.  Chasing something requires improvements (continuous improvement), which is what lean thinking and processes are about.  Again if you are not improving, than you are degrading…..WHAT ARE YOU IMPROVING ON?

Saturday Night Live did a spoof on McConaughey's speech (and it was funny); however the essence of the speech (Look up to, Looking forward to, and something to chase) is a strong and powerful message worth our attention and thought.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The 3 F's of Customer Connection

















Making connections with your customer is key to having a successful relationship with the customer, increase customer retention, and create customer referral.  Usually there is some connection in the beginning with the customer, such as; shared schooling, past experience, even lowest price.  But even lowest price will not keep the customer connected to you - believe it or not.

So how do you keep connected with customers? 

Customers can be strange and wonderful things - always in a hurry, always in crisis mode, and always looking for the right answer - right now. 

Steve Butler taught me about the three F's of customer connection.  I must admit it has served me well, and usually achieves the goal of increased customer connection.

FEEL
You must elicit from the customer that you understand how the customer feels.  They must have validation to move towards a successful outcome.

I want the price to be lower.
Yes, all pricing is going up.
I am upset about the training.
It is always difficult to train and not see benefit.
The weather has been too cold.
Yes, I agree it has been cold this winter.

See, how we have not committed to anything yet, it is just validating the emotional 'thrust' the customer is demonstrating.  The usual problem is we search to defend too quickly, not allowing the customer their time to vent.

FELT
This is part 2 of the validation process.  I can say that I 'feel' for you, but that will not be enough.  Customers want to be validated that others have felt the same way too.

I want the price to be lower.
Other customers have said this.
I am upset about the training.
Customers have found post-training to be overwhelming.
The weather has been too cold
I heard on the radio that most people think this has been the coldest winter in a decade.

Now your customer understands they are not alone.  Other people may have felt the same way.  This usually starts the calming down part of the conversation.  The customer by the end of this phase has lost some steam, some angst, and is now ready to get to a solution.

FOUND
This is where your efforts in Part 1 and Part 2 pays off.  You have some input you want to provide the customer, and have heard what they have to say and validated those emotions.  Found is simply how you phrase your input.

I want the price to be lower.
Customers have found that the following added benefits are worth the increase in price.
I am upset about the training.
Our past students found that after they started on a new project within 30 days of training, they quickly became productive.
The weather has been too cold
I found that if I go on a short vacation to a sunny climate, the cold weather isn't so bad.

If I had tried these statements earlier, I would have met with resistance from the customer.  Because I have feel, felt, found - the customer is now more willing to listen and understands that I have heard them; therefore deepening the connection between us.

Utilize this technique and see  how customers are more willing to talk with you, engage with you, and continue the business relationship.


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Finishing the Deal


I was watching hockey recently;  my team was leading going into the last half of the last period, and ended up losing in overtime.  It started me thinking.

Why do we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

How does this relate to your business life.  We are so close to closing the deal, getting that raise, getting the recognition you deserve.  Why does it all slip away from us?

FINISHING THE DEAL


The strategies to 'finishing the deal' are straightforward. 

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL



Seems simple, but what it requires is keeping focus on the completion, that last 20% as I talked about in this blog .

If we start coasting at the end of the race, we can get beaten - see this video.



Some other strategies:
  • All goals need to be analyzed, verified, and re-verified.  Is that my real goal?  If you have a new goal, you will never finish the last goal.  Sometimes it is best to admit the goal has changed, and stop working on the old goal.
  • Prior planning prevents piss poor performance - see blog. - have a game plan.
  • Set a realistic timeline.  Most of the lack of finishing is because we wait too late to get started, not giving ourselves enough time to finish strong.
  • Avoid those stupid mistakes (this is part of the focus described above). One of the definitions of focus is "directed attention" (Merriam-Webster).


Finishing is harder than starting, but the rewards go to people who finish strong, not those who start off quick.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech