Mid-Point in the Semester...
As I approach the mid-term point in my classes at Tufts and MIT, once again, I realize how much of my personal time is as a professor teaching and working with my students, and how much I'm in a role of being a student myself in actually learning and applying new content.
Nowhere is this more evident than in my courses in Sales and in Marketing, which, even pre-Covid, were undergoing extraordinary rapid change every semester. It used to be that material I put together in the summer for the fall semester would be okay for the following spring semester, and I could use most of the same content for both Tufts and MIT. No longer! Last year, I changed 30% of the content going into the spring 2020, and then changed 70% of that material in prep for this fall's semester. This coming spring, I'll probably just start over from scratch again.
Now, deep into 2020, there really is only one mandatory rule that has not changed in Sales and Marketing, and that is to focus more heavily than ever before on marketing and selling customer value and not on you, your products or your services. 2019 evidenced the massive push into the strategy of "value selling" and the tools that go along with it, which has never been more critical than now when buyers are hyper-focused to the metrics of the value brought to their companies. Add to that the necessity of identifying and marketing directly to personas who today have zero time to waste with old-school salespeople and antiquated marketing tactics.
value selling is All about the other side of the Zoom screen
With each emailed marketing message, each social post, each billboard, and every warm call left on voicemail, our absolute focus needs to be directed to the person on the receiving end of that message.
That "prospect" is a human, not simply a "prospect", and as a result, value selling has everything to do with providing the correct value proposition directed specifically to that persona
give content in 10-minute nuggets
Teaching and working in a virtual environment has reinforced to me the necessity of remembering a basic management tenant I learned decades ago in management training, but which over the years I totally forgot. Even though I consult in the tactics of "Active Engagement" with our clients, I found that I was not consistently practicing that myself simply because it was "easier" to tell rather than to engage. All of my "telling" often got managers to shake their heads in agreement when I was directly working with them at that point in time, but in their heads and in their abilities to practice that, I've came to realize that my job as a consultant, as a manager, as a board member and as a professor is not to tell.
My first virtual teaching experience was about three years developing a series of lectures on business planning and marketing at MIT. One of the best pieces of advice that I received then from Professor Chun and have continued to use was about "providing content in 10 minute nuggets", which comes down to two simple, but critical steps:
- Provide whatever content you are teaching in 10-minute nuggets.
- Ask what that person or group of people thinks about what you've just said.
Gone are the days, especially now in a Covid-world, of the old-time boss shouting, demanding, pounding on the table and complaining to others about problems. The days of Jack Welch and Al Dunlop are thankfully over, and unfortunately, their prior corporations are either in shambles or out of business. The reality behind that type of outdated caustic behavior is that the problem was not the business or the market, it was the old-time "command-and-control" boss.
Today, we have a unique opportunity
Given where we are today with 10 months of Covid behind us (and most probably another 10 months ahead) and the resulting impact it has had on our families, on our employees, and on our economy, we have a unique opportunity to embrace change everywhere, and perhaps the most impactful would be in fully adopting the management principal of...
“As the leader, don’t tell people what to do—instead, tell them what to think about.”
Just a quick note this morning, as we set out for a week of successful selling with only about 45 selling days left in the year.
Have a great week selling!
CONFIDENTIAL SOUNDING BOARD
If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board in business planning or for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time. Text or email me, and I will quickly set up a call.
I'm a pretty good listener.
Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.