Thursday, January 28, 2010

May I Have Your Attention, Please.

Stop talking, stop living in your endless, swirling thoughts and listen for a change. It's hard to do.

Let's pop ourselves into the Wayback Machine. Not to worry, we're not going to a time where there was no indoor plumbing or you'll be fine. We're only going back about 5-7 years. Your only concern should be your painfully dated vernacular with teenage kids (or, specifically, YOUR teenage kids)which, even 5 years ago, was a complete mess.

I've got a business idea..ready? Movie Rentals. What's that you say?...terrible play? WAY, WAY too saturated here in the glorious year of 2004. (Wonder how the Red Sox will do this year? Maybe 2004 is FINALLY the year. Naaaaah. Pipedream.)

But I'm not a delivery mechanism, I am primarily going to use the USPS. Nope, not the Internet...the freakin' mailman! What's that? You want me to pee in a cup it's such a bad idea?

When I heard of Netflix five or so years ago, I thought it might be the worst idea I had ever heard of. For all of the above reasons and about ten more. And I fancy myself as someone with fairly decent insight and instinct when it comes to such things.

We're heading back to 2010, Marty McFly...strap yourself in.

I am as addicted to Netflix as you are to your Crackberry....and I'm just one of their tens of millions of devoted customers. I get mega-value for my entertainment dollar. More than half of what I watch are the numerous high-quality television programs produced by HBO and delivered to me, multiple episodes at a time. I watch them in rapid-fire succession at a time that is convenient for me.

Somebody listened back then, they listened to an idea that I'm sure didn't sound so hot 90 seconds into it. I'm glad it wasn't me they were pitching.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Exxon Account

A friend of mine whose accomplishments and opinion I highly value used to tell the following parable. It's lesson in business, specifically a lesson in sales concerning "are you sure you're talking to the right guy?"

In the below dialog, a very senior sales management type engages a rep who was trying to land the gigantic Exxon account. It was a big enough story that the Sr VP knew about it and he bumped into the rep getting coffee.

SrVP: Hey!!...Jones!!...How the hell are ya, Jones?
Smith: It's 'Smith' sir, I'm great..thanks for asking.
SrVP: Sorry about that, Smith..anyway..great job in getting some traction in Exxon.
Smith: Thanks...
SrVP: So how's that going??...where are we with those guys?
Smith (nervously): Umm..ah..not where we had hoped. It appears to be dead.
SrVP: Sorry to hear that, Smith. Anything I can do? I know some people at Exxon.
Smith: Gee...I don't know. Thanks for offering. It doesn't look good.
SrVP: I hear ya...that's too bad. Who you talking to over there?
Smith: I got "a guy" over there..he's the one who told me it's dead.
SrVP: O'kay. Who's "your guy"? I still might be able to help.
Smith: "Eddie"...My guy is Eddie. Do you know Eddie?
SrVP: Hmmm...I don't. What's he do over there?
Smith: You know...Eddie..Corner of Main St and Pleasant. At the filling station.
SrVP: The filling station? What is this??...Mayberry RFD??? The guy who pumps gas??
Smith: Yeah,,well..ummm..he wasn't my "in" at Exxon...but he knows things.
SrVP: Who's your supervisor, Smith?

Please allow for the creative license....but we all get it. And we've all been guilty before of thinking we knew who was really pulling the strings when we didn't.
Usually it's our own fault but not always. People in buying organizations will fib or even flat-out lie to us about their role and responsibilities. Happens all the time.

If their job title isn't "Cxx" or Senior VP, never assume ANYONE has full decision-making power including the instances where they tell you they do. (Note: Even Chief Financial Officers often need CEO approval for the big stuff. Same with SrVP's).Be courteous, be super tactful, use all of your people skills but get to the truth about who has the juice to get the deal done.

And if you don't know, don't tell your bosses bosses boss that you do.