Is Trashing and Going Around the Key Decision Maker a Good Idea?

By Robert Brodo | Oct 19, 2017 8:40:24 AM

Probably Not!! 

As readers of this blog know, the majority of the insights, stories, and key learnings I present for consumption are based on our real-world experiences working with some of the world’s largest and most successful (and unsuccessful) business organizations.

Today, I am sharing an interesting story about how one of the most influential companies on the planet is teaching and supporting its own sales force to do the wrong things without consequence or accountability.

Obviously, the names and specifics have been changed so as not to embarrass anyone (or get us into legal trouble) but what you are about to read actually happened.

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Having the Business Skills to Define a “Product” in the Digital Age

By Robert Brodo | Oct 17, 2017 8:32:01 AM

I recently read an excellent blog by Arindam Bhattacharya a Senior Partner and Director at the Boston Consulting Group titled “How Digital is Redefining the Meaning of Products.” In his blog, Mr. Bhattacharya presents an interesting hypothesis that a “Product” in 2017 and beyond is no longer something companies manufacture and sell, but rather part of a system of interconnected goods and services. He writes that today, what once was a simple air conditioner that you would use in a home to keep it cool is now an integrated system of hardware and software that monitors rooms, optimizes energy, and provides unpresented data analytics that can be used for marketing and other purposes. This “service” prompts the question an interesting question; what is the company that makes the air conditioner really selling? A piece of equipment or a temperature controlling service?

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A New View on Having Hard Business Conversations

By Robert Brodo | Oct 10, 2017 8:26:19 AM

Every day, millions of business professionals are purposely avoiding having hard conversations with employees and colleagues because it’s uncomfortable, awkward, and there is a fundamental lack of skills to engage in a hard business conversation that should have positive outcomes.

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Practicing your Value Proposition and Messaging Pitch

By Robert Brodo | Oct 5, 2017 8:36:50 AM

In today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous business world, customers are bombarded about 17,000 messages a day.  Between emails, voice mails, robo-calls, social media, pop-up ads, and everything else customers are experiencing marketing fatigue.

That’s why when you have a chance with a prospect or client, you need to make the most of it.  You are about to make a first impression on a new customer and basically have about 30 seconds to position your value proposition and the right value message to the right customer.

Always be preparing!

There is only one way to take advantage of the opportunity and that is to diligently practice, practice, practice.  At Advantexe, we have a saying that you shouldn’t practice until you get it right; practice until you can’t get it wrong.

This week, I had the pleasure of working with a team of senior sales professionals whose customers are experiencing customer messaging fatigue (CMF).  I got the group together to work on their messaging and positioning skills and as a pre-work assessment we asked each participant to create a recorded positioning message to analyze and understand their strengths and weaknesses using our new Practium learning platform.  With this new social learning platform, learners engaged with a video sales scenario and were asked to prepare and then record their response to the scenario via video. They posted their response back to the hub and received peer and coaching feedback all online, helping create social learning that is extremely scalable.  After the live session, learners will be presented with four more opportunities to practice their elevator speech in different selling situations with different potential decision makers.

Practicing New Skills and the New World of Talent Development

The story I shared is also acknowledging the reality of the new world of talent development. Here are four reason why.

1) CEOs are Expecting a Tangible Return on Investment

The five-day training event is over.  And so is the two-day!  And very soon, the one-day may also do the way of the dinosaurs.  CEO’s are demanding Talent Development departments to provide a measurable return on their investment dollars.  By today’s standards, return is going to be defined by increased revenues or decreased costs divided by the investment. The new elevator pitch practice described earlier will do both!

2) Traditional Learning is lost after 30 Days

We all know the truth; the live five-day event was fun, expensive, and everyone ate well, but what did they learn?  More importantly, what information did they retain?  Not much.  The new elevator pitch practice tool I described changes everything.  Participants will continue to use the elevator pitch practice continuously to prepare for that magical real-word moment when they actually get on the elevator with real-life executives.

3) New Dependency on Micro Learning and Curation alone does not Sustain Learning

The “hottest” thing in Talent Development these days is micro-learning through curated content lists.  While some of them can be effective – based on the quality of the content – most of the learning isn’t sustained by itself.  The elevator pitch practice takes good curated content and presents learners with the opportunity to apply and sustain their new skills so that they can actually continue to improve them.

4) Growth of Communal and Social Learning

In 2018 and beyond, the next generation of learners want to work together and do it in virtual collaboration.  The elevator pitch practice provides opportunities for scalable peer-to-peer feedback and continuous communal and tribal learning.

why business acumen matters


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11 Ideas to Embrace the Complete Customer Experience

By Robert Brodo | Oct 3, 2017 9:03:29 AM

In today’s fast-paced, uncertain, and rapidly changing business world, it is unfortunately too easy for most business employees to forget about the complete customer experience.  To me, the complete customer experience should drive everything a company does.  Now, I’m not talking about a “user interface”, a website, or a ridiculous wait-in-a-bank-line to see a manager for help; I’m talking about the entire customer experience from start to finish which should be foundational and in support of the business strategy.

Take a flight, go to a sporting event, go out for a meal, receive a business-to-business cold call, participate in a service call, or listen to a line manager tell an HR Business Professional that training and development isn’t needed, and you will understand exactly what I am talking about.

Everyone is so busy and so focused on “getting through the day” that most companies and the people working for them have forgotten about the customer experience.  In many of our Business Acumen and Business Leadership development programs we go into great length and provide invaluable training through business simulation centric learning to help organizations get better at the achieving their results.  For the purposes of sharing and developing a discussion with the readers of this blog, I present a high-level overview of the top 11 things that should make up the skills needed to build the foundation for companies who actually care and want to embrace the complete customer experience.

Understand the Voice of Market and the Voice of the Customer

Every company should begin the process of delivering the complete customer experience by understanding the voice of the market and the voice of the customer.  The critical information gained from listening to, and engaging with, customers about their perceptions of their markets, challenges, and opportunities becomes the foundation for everything related to managing the customer experience.

Alignment on your company’s strategy

Every leader must clearly communicate the business strategy for their own company to their teams and reports for the purpose of creating alignment.  The strategy of the company sets the specific goals, objectives, and key results expectation that are managed toward.

Target the right customers

Once the strategy has been created, it is critical to target and focus on the right customers.  Delivering a good value proposition to the wrong customers is one of the biggest mistakes companies make.

Deliver the right message to the right customers

Assuming you have targeted the right customers, every segment listens for, understands, and “absorbs” your strategy through the lenses of marketing, sales, and other messaging channels including social media.  It’s critical for leaders to make sure their companies are delivering the right messages to the right customers.

Design the right solutions

Once you understand the needs of your customer and have a winnable strategy, you need to execute and design the right solutions. Leaders must create an environment for the building, testing, and delivering of the right products and services that meet the value proposition to the right customers.

Pay attention to the details

It seems that mistakes are too easily accepted and “accountability” within organizations is a fading concept.  That absolutely can’t happen in an organization that is focused on the customer experience.  Leaders must create an environment where paying attention to details is a critical competency.

Deliver the solution your customers want

Leadership is equal to the execution of your strategy.  Leaders must make sure that the solutions you have designed are the solutions your customers want through flawless execution and focus on the complete customer experience.

Listen to feedback and make adjustments

No company ever gets it completely right the first time.  There are always fixes and adjustments.  The best companies actively listen, take feedback from customers, and make their experience better and better every day.

Understand competitors

Executing a great strategy is the most important thing leaders do; another critical task is understanding competitors and making additional and necessary adjustments based on competitive positioning and the business results of key competitors.  And of course it should go without saying that not all competitors are the competitors you need to focus on.

Create a culture of innovation

A culture of innovation is a healthy culture where leaders are encouraging and supporting their teams and people to think outside of the box, to challenge the status quo, and to be constantly seeking new ideas to make the execution of the strategy and the customer experience even better.

Say thank you

The final foundational skill costs nothing, yet has basically been lost as part of the complete customer experience; say thank you to customers and let them know you really appreciate them and their business.

In summary, it’s a good idea to come back to some of the basics of understanding and executing a complete customer experience based upon 11 foundational skills that can support business success.

why business acumen matters

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Advantexe Learning Solutions - The Power of Practice