The power of Silence for Focusing on your business

Focus, Marketing, peak Performance, Productivity, single target market, Uncategorized

For a lot of people who follow Buddhism , today is an auspicious occasion since it Lord Buddha’s birthday. One of the things linked to Buddhism and the overall philosophy of religions that originated in the Indian Sub-Continent is the practice of “Dhyan” and Yoga. While there are a lot of people who follow and practice Yoga across the world “Dhyan” is something that is missing in our lives. “Dhyan” involves sitting in pin drop silence and just focusing all your energy to think.

We all (me included) are so busy running after deadlines all day that we don’t give our brains the bandwidth to actually do what it can do best – which is THINK. When you get into the “Dhyan” stage you are able to connect a lot of the dots which otherwise seem impossible to connect.

I have many times earlier, mentioned a practice by Dean Jackson called the focus finder. Its a very practical way to do a brain dump and then get on to the activity of Thinking.

Today I was a little frustrated that I was not being able to figure out a solution for identifying a Single Target Market. I keep giving you folks a lot of inputs on why you should go about identifying the Single Target Market and the incredible benefits it can have in your marketing.

But today I had a mind block and I was not able to think through on what would be my STM. After lazing around mindlessly and watching un-necessary web series for about an hour, I decided to just sit down with my notebook and pencil and started jotting down thoughts as they came to me about my “bullseye ” (the STM)

While doing this my brain also kept throwing up additional items that I could include. But I had to make my STM as sharply defined as possible. So I kept listing down, all the people whom I would not be able to help.

Automatically I ended up putting a lot of AND statements to ensure that there were as little possibilities as possible for some additional markets creeping in.

Once this was done I went two steps further, I even identified the the markets, one variable away and two variables away. This would help me, in case, the STM I have defined is not viable economically and I have to expand it a little bit.

While I spent close to 2 hours dilly – dalling, I was able to achieve all this in a matter of about 45 minutes, when there was pin drop silence and I was only focusing on this activity. These 45 minutes were more precious because of the immense productivity I got.

If feasible I would suggest everyone to regularly do these focus exercises, they can increase productivity levels dramatically and because you take out everything from your brain and put it on paper, there’s no chance of missing things.

Till next then.

Carpe Diem!!!

How do you do pricing?

B2B, Marketing, pricing, Product Management, single target market

Pricing is one of those concepts, that whenever a sales guy will lose a deal, they will blame it on price – our price was too high. For customers, the easiest way to push you away, is to say that your price is too high. In both the situations, the easiest people to blame is the product/marketing folks – “they don’t understand the reality of the market place, they just sit in the office and tell us what to do without understanding what the customer wants”. Pricing is one of the key reasons – marketing and sales don’t see eye to eye.

Just to clarify – its not that I don’t lose cases on price.

My agenda from this post is to help you not waste time with a customer who does not have the ability to value what you offer in return for the price that you charge. Its both marketing and sales’ responsibility to showcase the value to the customer.

That was a loaded statement – so let me break it down – what is the customer’s perception of what you provide and what she should pay for it. The other is, how do you do your pricing.

As a product manager or marketing manager, when you build a pricing for something, you generally take into account the costs involved at your end. Then you add a margin and give that as the price to be charged. This is the easiest way – Cost+Markup

On the other hand, if you were to look at the value / result / outcome, that the customer will get , by using your product or service and then work backwards, you will be able to come to a better argument. If you don’t know the result that you can get for your customer and there are others who can provide almost similar value at a lower price, then the customer will go with your competition.

I have lost a lot of deals where initially the customer didn’t appreciate the value of the kind of trainings we give our people and how they impact the execution of the project and the reason for us being almost double of someone else. But then we had them come back to us, at a much bigger value when they failed to get the project executed and the cost of penalties and reputation, was even bigger for them. Obviously there were also a lot of them where they got the project executed with someone else at a lower price.

The agenda for showing value has to be ours – not the customer’s. You can verify with the customer, during your meetings, if they value what you sell. Don’t ask this question to operational people. I have made that mistake many times. They have no view of what is going on in the mind of the leadership team. Ask it to people in finance or leadership. Those people look at it from the return of investment perspective. If what they value is what you give, then you have an easy task.

On the other hand, if what you have can enhance the value of what they think, they want, then you have to show them, what else is possible and they agree then you can move forward. Generally if you have chosen your Single Target Market well, then this task becomes comparatively easy because most people in that niche will value similar things.

If what you are selling can get them 10 times of the price you are charging, then you have an argument. If you are charging a price of $1500/- and you can show them how the value (reduction in cost or increase in revenue) will be 10 time or worth $15000/- then you can have a good discussion. But if the return on the investment Is only equal or couple of times more than the investment, it is not worth.

Remember the inertia is so high in B2B setups, that they don’t want to go through the whole process of identifying something where the return is minimal.

But you can use this same inertia to your advantage. If the customer has experienced you before and you have delivered on your promise or commitments, then if you are slightly more expensive then the competitors, they will prefer to deal with you because they know you can deliver.

So coming back to the main topic – how can you then do pricing. You can do it better when your argument of value is clearly identified – whether with your case studies or testimonials etc., in case they have not worked with you before. When the customer knows that you CAN deliver , what you promise and she Values what you deliver, then the pricing argument reduces. Doing pricing on a cost plus basis is generally a losing proposition in a highly competitive environment.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Practicing what I preach

coaching, Marketing, medium

Last few days I haven’t had the time to write my blog posts. I keep talking to you about getting coaching to sharpen your saw. So I recently decided to take one more coaching which will last a few weeks where there will be some teaching and then we are supposed to practice. So its not that I just tell you to get coaching in the areas where you can improve, I also find ways to constantly improve myself.

If you choose the right coach, you can shorten your learning curve dramatically.

So I was busy testing out how I could utilise what I had learnt for Linkedin. As I have mentioned earlier also, each medium has its nuances. If you want to become proficient with any medium, you need to become aware of the nuances, the psychology of the customer using the medium.

As an example if you are doing an on-prem seminar. This seminar is where everyone is together and you are talking or addressing a lot of people together from a stage. On the other hand if you are using email as your medium, then it is a one-on-one medium. No one reads their email aloud to everyone. They read it privately.

LinkedIn also as a medium has its nuances. Its a place where things are less formal since people are in your direct connect or in your network of connects.

So my agenda is to improve my prospecting skills on LinkedIn given that we work in the B2B environment. Similarly I am looking at how I can utilise LinkedIn to get better candidates for our jobs as well as advertise for our offerings.

Will keep you posted on what I learn and how it helped me improve my capabilities further.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Practice makes a man (& woman) perfect

Affirmative action, Marketing, Testing

I like to read a lot of books, listen to a lot of audio recordings while I am travelling and also watch sessions on YouTube. I am gatherer of information. So intellectually that’s a great thing. However not all that I read/hear/see stays with me until I apply it.

When we were young and new to the selling profession, our bosses did trainings of all the kinds, to tell us things that are good about our product and then about how bad the competition is, and what all questions the customer can ask. But when we went out to do our first call, everything went flat. The customer asked all the questions for which no training had been given, the customer found all the features that competition gave, as useful, while ours were useless to them. How many of you have had this situation with your first assignments.

Its only after you go through the customer meetings, that you realise, what is of value to which kind of customer. There will be some customers who will value what you have to offer and most won’t. But until you get down into the market to actually start selling you won’t be able figure that out. Practice is what makes you perfect.

The same can be said of ANY kind of knowledge. Until you practice it, you won’t know what may work and what may not.

In marketing, because there’s a lot of psychology involved, its very difficult to do arm chair thinking and decide what will work. Until you go out into the market/ Google/ other media and actually check out what the customers need, what the competition is doing, all your thought process has no significance. This does not mean you don’t do planning. But planning without action is worthless. Money comes into the bank only when someone sells something. And that can’t happen if you don’t get out in the market and sell.

And who would know this more than me. I am one of the biggest procrastinators and gatherers of knowledge. But I LEARN only when I actually try it out in whatever field. So most of the things I write on this blog, are there because I have tried and tested (failed for general folks) and become better.

So whenever you get some information, try to use it before looking out to acquire more information. That way the information will become knowledge that will stay with you for a long time.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!