Monthly Archives: December 2009

Bobby Bowden Management

Bobby BowdenAs a native of Tallahassee, FL, I am of course a huge Florida State football fan.  With Bobby Bowden coaching his last game this week I’ve been thinking about what made him so successful.  For the uninitiated, Bowden oversaw one of the greatest runs in college football history.  From 1987 to 2000, 14 straight years, FSU finished in the top five of the AP college football poll.

How did Bobby Bowden do it?
I posit his ability to recruit the best players coupled with his delegating management style gave him the winning edge to build the Seminole dynasty from the ground up.

A media darling and adept recruiter, Bowden quickly learned that delegating responsibilities to assistant coaches allowed his program to flourish.  And with Bowden’s delegating management style in effect he was afforded additional time to focus on what he does best – recruit the best players. During Florida State’s 14-year winning streak his staff held tight and the rest is history.

As an entrepreneur, it’s often difficult to relinquish control and let those you hire to do their work without micromanaging them.  Avoid this by hiring employees that are smarter than you, giving them the reins to succeed and holding them accountable if they fall short. Hiring the best employees is difficult, but crucial to your long-term success.

And Bobby would agree having said, “He who gets the best players usually wins.”  And Bobby Bowden usually did just that.

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People and Systems

While startups are constantly creating and tweaking their systems and processes within their own organization, most larger organizations are entrenched with them.  Whether you operate within a large company or you are selling to them, learning about the people who influence/make decisions and understanding how to address the constraints the systems and processes of their organization place on them is crucial to a successful selling process.

In simplistic terms, there are two buckets you need to become more familiar with, people and systems.

  • People address: hierarchy, influence, decision making, early adopters, and subject matter experts.
  • Systems address: hardware, software, procedures, and necessary steps to get sign-off for sales.

Together, these buckets help you identify the who and how to move your agenda forward.  Perhaps even more importantly, if you understand an organization’s people and systems and you can develop a sales map that will identify potential roadblocks and lead you to replicable workarounds resulting in a more efficient sales process.

Plus, you can incorporate common findings from the sales mapping process into your product and service offerings to better serve your customer’s needs.  Now that’s a win if I’ve ever heard one.  I’d recommend you learn the people and systems in your product and sales process landscape to improve your hit rate and reduce your sales cycle time line.

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So What?

A simple question yielding powerful results.  The question “so what?” can reveal what really matters to your target audience – the benefit.

So you have a flashy new web app that can refresh logos – so what? A feature you just launched will be useful for clients making up less than 20 percent of your revenues – so what?  Your company has assembled the most experienced team in your industry – so what?

These features are meaningless to your audience without a benefit.  Asking the question “so what?” helps you get to benefit for your customers.  It gets to your customer’s “what’s in it for me?, ” and “why should I pick your product or service instead of the alternative?” thoughts in their minds.

For example, the benefit of employing the most experienced team is better illustrated in your customers’ eyes by explaining how an experienced team will help clients avoid costly pitfalls and speed the launch of important projects.  The “so what?” line of questioning forces you to speak in client-benefit language and cut out insular feature-laden language.

Determining the benefit statement you craft for your clients and prospects takes time and often probing conversations with your customers. It can be challenging to identify something unique and compelling. However, after a few iterations of truly identifying the answers to “so what?” your message can be effectively molded into benefits that are music to your customers ears.

So, the next time you think you have the answer, take a step back and ask the “so what?” question.  Be sure you are answering the right question and speaking to the benefits your audience needs to hear.  Now all you need is for your customers to listen to your song.

Seek Market Fit, Not Branding

For entrepreneurs, finding the right fit in the market for your startup is essential. Before ramping up marketing programs, assess your fit in the market so marketing dollars aren’t wasted on premature campaigns.  Without the right market fit, no amount of branding will overcome a misaligned offering.

Forget branding and develop a focused product or service that your customers can’t live without.  This is not to say you shouldn’t have a positioning statement for your company.  A positioning statement helps identify, create, and capture markets.  Avoid branding until your market fit is established.

Once you’ve placed your stake in the ground and the majority of your customers say they couldn’t imagine doing business without your product, you’ve found your market fit, and an enviable one at that.  From here, ramp up your branding efforts to build loyalty, create barriers to entry and grow your business!

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