Monthly Archives: July 2011

//July

How to bore the socks off someone without really trying…

I was at a reception the other day when I got cornered by a guy who was very keen to bore the hell out of me by droning on about his company, what it did and why most of his potential customers were too narrow minded and stuck in their ways to even consider using the software they had spent the last ten years developing.   In fact it turned out that his core product was in fact pretty cool and could be very useful to a whole bunch of companies.  So on the way home, I started thinking about what it was that he was doing wrong, why in fact he was so boring!

Although nearly every sales manual says don’t, most people still do…he was trying to sell me product ‘features’ hoping that something that came out of his mouth would connect and be interesting to me!  But more than that he was pretty arrogant with it too…

For example, he said: ‘We’ve got this xxxx and we’ve got that xxxx and nobody else has what we have!’  And all the time I am asking myself, ‘I wonder why?’  He honestly thought that all of his competitors were useless and their CEO’s, thick, even though it was pretty obvious from what he was saying, that his company hadn’t made a dollar of profit since it was founded!   The real problem with my boring CEO was that he failed to make any kind of emotional connection with me. If I had been anywhere else I would have simply made an excuse and walked right past him.

Where he began with the ‘what’, (what his company does) I like to begin with the ‘why?’ (why my company does what it does)  and one way I do this is by beginning with a personal story that just might make a connection.  For example, here is how I would begin in his situation:

“Back in 2003, I was working as a freelancer in Belgium - an Englishman in a foreign land - and although the pay was pretty good, I felt a bit lonely.  When I had a tough day (and even when I had something to celebrate) I didn’t have anyone that really understood what I was going through to share my experiences with.  I didn’t want to join a club, especially as most of the stuff I wanted to talk about concerned my clients and was highly confidential.  So I decided to turn my one man band bvba into a Group Partnership, and here I am today surrounded by a really great bunch of fun people, all driven like me by the same thing: the desire to tackle and solve really tough business problems.  And with a net annual growth of approximately 20% year on year for the past 7 years, I guess we must be doing something right?”

I deliberately keep what we do as short as possible because if the person is interested in my story he, or she, will ask anyway and my topic can then become what is commonly known as ‘a conversation’.

Now my friend the CEO at the dinner party would have put it something like this (assuming he was describing my business)
“We hire in and hire out all kinds of profiles, all specialized in a wide range of activities into a broad client base.  The great thing about our business is that nearly all our profiles have qualifications in PRINCE 2 and PMI certification, this ensures that our clients can utilize the methodologies they need and apply them to their strategic issues, knowing that they will remain compliant to local laws and customs…”

See what I mean?

Have a good week,

Harley

4 Comments

Americans are so stubborn!

The French gave up their Franc, The Germans their Deutschmark and even the British replaced their trusty pound notes for coins, so why can’t the Americans say goodbye to their antiquated Dollar bill?  Five times the US Fed have tried to replace the US Dollar bill with a simple round coin, very much like the ones used in Canada and in Europe for the past decades, and each time they have failed.  Currently the US mint has more than 1 billion USD coins in stock that are not going anywhere. 

I even heard one journalist say that the coins will be very likely melted down to be turned into souvenirs.  In these austere times, the savings are estimated to be around $184 million Dollars per year, over 30 years! (according to a GAO, US Government Accountability Office white paper)

Apparently every change resistant argument has been raised, including the cost of coin machine adaptation and the breaking of a trusted tradition.  But more worryingly even a two times ‘entertainer of the year’ (striptease artist) ‘Tiffany’  joined in the debate, obtaining  FOX TV coverage stating that coins would be too uncomfortable and dangerous if everyone placed them where they used to place the bills or threw them onto the stage!  Apparently now they even have a new line of attack: the legality of the coin itself.  It seems that they may contain base metals coming from illegal Cuban nickel mines!

When I hear all this, I wonder is this not change resistance for resistance sake or is there something much deeper going on?  And then I remind myself that the nearer any change is to our cultural identity, the more resistant we are to it.  And as one BBC financial commentator recently stated, he believed that the resistance was probably more linked to the philanthropic culture of Americans who prefer to say “keep the change” rather than walk around with uncomfortable coins jangling in their pockets or misshaping their Louis Vuitton purses.

So maybe my example is not one of Americans being stubborn but rather one of clear vision and logic and that their resistance to their beloved Dollar bill makes some kind of sense after all?

Have a good week,

Harley

5 Comments

Commemorating the end of an era – The last Space Shuttle Flight – (read this and win!)

I have had a beautiful hand crafted, brass and steel, original Fisher Space Shuttle pen sitting unused in its gift box on my home office desk since February, so this week I am giving my readers a chance to win it.

To start with, to those of you that might be fooled into thinking that the Space Shuttle is a small glider strapped to two cylinders of rocket fuel you might want to take a look at this photo… for those of you who are already aware of just how big it is, then while the others are away checking out the picture I want to invite you to take part in a mini competition.  My prize pen comes with two nitrogen filled, gravity independent re-fills which write in zero gravity, underwater, upside down and can produce a straight line of ink, more than 4.5km long! The question comes at the end of this blog.

It was with some sadness that I witnessed the last take off of the gas guzzling Space Shuttles on Friday. Over the past thirty years they have been delivering scientists and equipment into space and bringing them home again, rather like helicopters to and from off shore oil rigs.   This incredibly innovative but now outdated means of space travel, with its roots in 7th century Chinese firework technology, will finally come to and end when Atlantis touches down on the 20th. of July, 2011.  Sure there will be new improved space craft to be amazed at in the future but there was something cute about the Space Shuttles that is hard to put into words.  Perhaps it was because they were only able to glide back down to Earth in much the same way as the very first fireworks, once all their fuel was used up?

In man’s desire to explore and reach to the stars we sometimes stumble across innovations that work so well that for a much longer than originally expected period of time they require little or no further development.  And just like the Fisher Space pen, it is just as good today as it was in 1965 when it was first invented by the US inventor Paul C. Fisher for both The Russian cosmonauts as well as the American astronauts, whose pencils broke in space (the floating pieces of broken lead posing serious risk of damaging the electrical switches on board). 

And while it is nice to hold on to well designed inventions, we must also be prepared to give them up when new circumstances show it to be logical. We all know this but if we are honest with ourselves, how many of us are running our departments or businesses on the tried and tested ways of the past, rather than daring to risk breaking through to embrace the challenges that the latest technologies and trading practices present us with?

Now for the quiz. In this week’s title I incorrectly used the word ‘Era’.  To win my Fisher Space Shuttle Pen and the two Parker runner up prizes, simply put the six different classifications of time into their correct order, starting with the longest, going down to the shortest:

  1. Eon
  2. Period
  3. Epoch
  4. Era
  5. Super Eon
  6. Age

Type the designated numbers into their correct order such as:  1,2,3,4,5,6  in the comments box below this blog and fill in your name, or nick name, if you prefer. If you do not see the comments box, click on the title of the blog and it will appear below the text.  The first correct answer will win the original Fisher pen, and two runners up will both win Parker pen ball point pens with original Fisher anti-gravity refills. The winners will be announced in the comments section of this blog. 

Good luck!

Have a good week,

Harley

8 Comments