Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pushing Buttons – Crafting Your Personal Value Proposition

Your personal value proposition should be a brief and compelling statement that is designed to start off an (ideally) interesting conversation by defining the value you may be able to provide to the potential Client. Without providing value, business development can often be challenging since it will likely be based mainly on hope or luck, neither of which is a great strategy.

The trick is that value is in the eye of the beholder – or in the case of a personal value proposition, the listener. Even more challenging, each individual may define value in a different way because each of us has unique needs and 'hot button" issues." Think about it: the issues facing an entrepreneur at a green tech startup can be vastly different from those of a C-level executive at an established corporation on the verge of layoffs or bankruptcy – and are likely very different from those of the other parents at the kids’ soccer game. 

So to push the right buttons, you have to understand the individual you are speaking with. You can start by doing research into the person's business, organization or industry. But, by far, the best way to determine a listener’s issues and needs is to ask. Only then can you determine what, if any, value you may be able to provide. This is also why you also may want to craft different personal value propositions for different types of potential Clients.

So, in creating your personal value proposition, think like your potential Clients. Frame the statement in terms of their most pressing needs and convey the knowledge and experience that you have to meet them. To test whether your value proposition conveys this type of real value, try this: when composing it, at the end of each of potential value statement, insert the words, “… and this should be important to you because,” and then try to finish the statement. If your ‘because’ is weak, so is your value proposition. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Data Quality Doctor Is In

If you think you may be suffering from data quality depression, it can be helpful to see a specialist such as a CRM data quality consultant who is familiar with the causes and effects of data quality depression – and who is an expert in prescribing the right treatment for your specific problem.

The diagnosis will often begin with a data quality checkup, which is a complete assessment and analysis of your data quality situation. Your data quality consultant will begin by taking your CRM pulse by meeting with you and other key stakeholders and system users to ask a series of targeted questions designed to get to the heart of the issues. Questions will focus on issues such as end user participation, leadership buy-in, training, communications, planning, resources, technology and other potentially ‘sore’ subjects.

The consultant can also run tests on your ‘system’ to diagnose any additional potential problems with things like system configuration, contact categorization, information standardization and list management.

After a complete check-up, your CRM success consultant will then make specific recommendations to help take away your CRM data quality pain…

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Taking Your Elevator Pitch to a New Floor – or Level

We’ve all been in that fun place: at a cocktail party, sitting on an airplane or in the back of a cab and someone asks, “So what do you do?” How do you respond? While this conversation rarely takes place in an elevator, the answer has been described as an ‘elevator pitch’ because ideally it should summarize what you do in the time it would take to ride up in an elevator with someone – about 30 seconds. It should also help to start an interesting conversation.

Unfortunately, the most frequent response is often a bland and generic, “I’m a lawyer” or “I’m an accountant.” Some may jazz it up with, “I’m a tax professional” or “I’m a corporate lawyer.” A real winner I heard once was, “I work in an office.” Wow, I’m on the edge of my seat - please tell me more.

In lieu of a yawn, the general, polite response you will usually get is, “Oh, how nice. My (insert random relative) is a lawyer or accountant.” Following this, they will often excuse themselves to refresh their cocktail (translation: they’re just not that into you and want to disengage because someone - or probably anyone else - across the room must be more interesting).

So how do you craft a good ‘elevator pitch”? Remember, as a general rule, people do business with people they like and trust and who provide value. Start there. Stop pitching and start providing real value. I call this creating your Personal Value Proposition… 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Diagnosing Data Quality Depression - Where Does It Hurt?

The potential remedy for your data quality depression will depend upon the underlying cause. To diagnose the cause of your underlying symptoms, you must first assess the situation and figure out exactly where it hurts. Potential data quality pain points may include: 
  • A lack of adequate staffing to keep up with the data quality issues 
  • Failure to dedicate adequate resources to data quality maintenance 
  • End users and assistants who do not take responsibility for data quality 
  • Incorrect configuration of your system causing an increase in the number of data quality tickets or tasks
  • A lack of formalized training to ensure that end users understand and embrace their data quality responsibilities
  • A lack of management support to encourage participation or provide resources or incentives for compliance
Rest assured, all of these underlying issues are quite common and totally treatable - and, once treated, there is a significant likelihood that you will make a complete recovery. The best way to pinpoint your pain is to reach out to a specialist ...

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Truth About Body Language - Giving Business Development A Hand

While it may seem like a simple gesture, it’s amazing how much a handshake conveys to us. Those few seconds can potentially empower - or deflate - a new relationship.

Through the ages, the handshake has been a means of introduction, a symbol of agreement and a bond of trust. As a result, a good handshake has become both a minimum requirement and a powerful differentiator for politicians, diplomats … and business developers.

Admit it; we all have shaken hands with Mr. Death Grip or Ms. Limp Fish. Both made quite an impression – and likely not a positive one. So to avoid those scenarios and make a positive first impression, here are a few handshake tips: (1) Relax, it's just a handshake. Getting stressed out can make your hands clammy; (2) Use a firm grip, without squeezing too hard; (2) Make direct eye contact; (3) Smile and radiate confidence and enthusiasm; (4) Release.

As with all social encounters, sometimes 'handshake moments' just don't go as planned. If things go awry, don't stress about it. Just laugh, reload, and try again. Lightening up an uncomfortable situation can actually enhance your image of self-confidence and put the other person more at ease.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Recognizing the Signs of Data Quality Depression

Data quality depression has been described as an emotional state characterized by feelings of sadness, despair, and discouragement – often accompanied by a strong desire to bang your head against the wall… repeatedly. For your mental health, early detection of data quality depression is key and requires that you be aware of the signs or symptoms which may include:
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating on the same mundane and repetitive data quality tasks for 10 hours a day 
  • A sense of impending doom each day when turning on the computer and seeing the exponential explosion of data quality issues 
  • Feelings of worthlessness caused by ineffective attempts to beg, bribe or otherwise coerce users to comply with firm data quality standards 
  • Intense frustration with professionals who use their BlackBerrys to enter hundreds of new contacts with only first names and mobile phone numbers or e-mail addresses 
  • Dizziness caused by running in circles trying to get correct contact information from assistants 
  • Energy loss caused by jumping through hoops to try to get the firm’s leaders to commit the necessary resources 
  • A major pain in the posterior region caused by dealing with data quality 
Symptoms may be mild at first and may initially improve after consuming large quantities of chocolate or alcohol. However, as the condition worsens, the only hope is to seek a more effective - and permanent - remedy…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Body Language and Business Development - Smile All the Way to the Bank

We've heard that smiling is contagious. Well, we now know that it’s not only true – it’s also good for business. A smile not only creates an upbeat and positive environment and conveys to the potential Client your interest, enthusiasm, and empathy. It also makes you more trustworthy and likeable. Remember from a previous post, people often hire people they like and trust.

Not only that, using your ‘pearly whites’ could even have a
positive effect on your cash flow. A study has showed that consumers were willing to pay two to three times more after seeing a smile. OK, as a disclaimer, some skeptics may say that since the study involved drinking an ‘unidentified beverage’ that the ‘mystery drink’ could have actually led to paying more – and maybe even smiling more. But since the drink was lemon-lime Kool-Aid, my money is on the smile. But I digress. What’s important is the smile and the positive impression it conveys.

Anyway, here are a few tips to help to convey the most positive impression. First establish your presence in the room. Then make eye contact and smile genuinely, since people can tell a ‘fake’ smile from a mile away – and frankly, if you are not in the mood to smile, then you probably shouldn’t be attempting to develop business in the first place. But from now on, if you find yourself having trouble smiling, just think how much more money you could be making and see if that helps.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dealing with Data Quality Depression

Nothing can be more frustrating than dealing with CRM data quality. But when it comes to CRM success, there are few things that are more important. While data quality tasks can seem monotonous and mundane, left ‘untreated’, a CRM database can rapidly deteriorate into a disaster, causing end users to doubt and distrust the data and refuse to use the system - and causing you to pull your hair out. 

The First Step 
The first step is admitting you have a problem – or lots of them. Your end users are out of control. The number of duplicate records is multiplying exponentially. You can't actually contact your contacts because the majority of them have missing or incomplete information. Your data standards are nonstandard – or nonexistent. The incomplete entries from BlackBerrys are getting worse each day. You're even starting to become paranoid that the IT department may be part of the conspiracy. (I promise, they are not out to get you). Then suddenly you realize that you have no idea how to deal with international addresses or phone numbers – and you feel you have nowhere to turn.

Left untreated, disastrous data quality issues like these can really… well… drive you crazy. Fortunately for you, there is a cure… 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Body Language and Business Development - Put Your Focus on the Client

For successful business development, your focus should always be on the Client - even when you first make eye contact.The impression you make begins the moment someone 'lays eyes' on you - so always look your potential Client in the eye. This simple technique is very important when meeting with a Client because it tells them you are paying attention to THEM and also makes them feel that you are confident and honest.

Think about it, have you ever had a conversation with someone who is constantly looking away or looking past you. It can make you feel like they are not engaged or have someplace they would rather be. But if they look directly at you, it makes you feel like you have their complete attention and interest.

The basic rule is to spend about 80 percent of the conversation looking the Client in the eye. If you focus on them less than that, it conveys that you are bored or uncomfortable or lack confidence. But you should also glance away from time to avoid staring them down during the conversation which can make you come across as too direct, dominant or forceful.

While this may seem a little challenging at first, if you simply remember to focus your eyes - and your attention - on the Client, it will become second nature and you will become a natural business developer.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

CRM Diagnosis: Where Does It Hurt?

While a CRM checkup may be the best preventative medicine, sometimes we just don’t want to get diagnosed. We put it off because we get busy or because we figure if we ignore the problem long enough, maybe it will go away on its own. But if you neglect your minor CRM aches and pains for too long, you may find your overall CRM health to be deteriorating. At that point, you need to figure out just what the problem seems to be… where does it hurt?

Are your Clients and prospects having a reaction to the number of irrelevant communications the firm has been sending? Have the number of duplicates in the system swollen to unacceptable levels? Has usage flat-lined because the users have lost confidence in the system? Are you feeling pressure from firm management because they don’t perceive they are getting value from the CRM? Or maybe some technology glitches – or some obstinate end users – are just giving you a pain.

Well, whatever your symptoms, rest assured, you are not alone. Plenty of firms have found themselves in the exact same place. The first step is admitting that you have a problem. But don’t worry, once you get diagnosed and seek treatment, if you follow up with a strong dose of commitment, you can get rid of the annoying or painful symptoms and achieve CRM success.