Check your organization’s midyear progress

midyear-progress

It’s midyear. Your business still follows the same mission and values, but new clients have trusted you, old ones have left, and many lessons were learned since January.

Why not make a midyear check?

1. Are your plans and budgets on track? Where are you falling behind and how can you correct course by the end of this year?

2. Have any major industry, market, and business model changes occured in that timeframe?

3. Are your assumptions about the customer correct? Have your value proposition adjusted accordingly?

4. What challenges did you face inside and outside your organization?

5. Knowing that, do you need to change your expectations for 2015?

Knowing where you want to get is vital. And being aware of your progress so far can only help to get you there.

Add a P.S. for subscribers who skipped your entire email

Sending out a long email to your subscribers? You might want to follow the example of Derek Halpern from Social Triggers and add a P.S. for people who scrolled through the entire email.

Just keep it to the point and only include a summary of the information that matters — the reason you wanted them to read your email in the first place.

To convert even the speediest of readers, include a call to action and link to a landing page at the end of your summary.

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This post is part of the Marketing Best Practices series, where I share the most effective ways for activating, engaging, and retaining users that I stumble upon online.

Clarity is a virtue

clarity-is-a-virtue

If learning one skill could impact every aspect of your life in ways you never  even imagined, would you do it?

Clarity.

In an age of information overload, clarity is a virtue. Knowing what it is that you want to say and how to say it, so as to get your point across, is a skill that many wrongfully neglect.

By trying to be clear, you cut out the noise from your own speech, writing, design, code, or whatever it is that you do. You get to keep only the bits and pieces that matter; the ones that have content and bring value to the outside world. As a result, the person who’s listening, reading, looking at, or using your art* has the experience that you intended them to have.

Arguably the best way to connect with others is to be straightforward about your thoughts, feelings, and intentions. When you’re authentic and honest, you open doors that money and power can’t.

* I see any object that has clarity and purpose, be it a BIC lighter or a collaboration SaaS for the enterprise, as nothing but a work of art.

Don’t play down the facts when discussing a problem

sugarcoating-problems

The way you explain a problem to your team affects how they’ll interpret and try to solve it. You have to be direct and not send out mixed messages.

When a problem is present – and a decision clearly has to be made, leaders often find it hard to understand the difference between caring for their team’s mood and sugarcoating the facts.

The next time you need to report bad news or explain a problem that your team has to tackle, follow this simple five-step framework:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. How did you get here? What caused it?
  3. What might happen if you don’t take action? Why solve it?
  4. What is the viable solution? Has something similar been done before?
  5. Who will make it happen? Who is responsible for making change for the better?

While you want to be thoughtful, don’t downplay the facts. This only makes it more difficult for your team to digest the information. Instead, focus on the problem and explain clearly what needs to be done.

Should you embrace conflict?

conflict

Constructive conflict is crucial for moving your organization forward. It’s the reality check; the necessary evil that paves the path to change, improvement, and then progress.

It’s a sign that: (1) someone has found something wrong, (2) they’ve thought about ways for making it better, and (3) they care enough to break out of their own comfort zone and fight for change.

Embrace conflict and facilitate changemakers at your organization. When brought by your employees and not imposed by the realities of the market, change hurts less and creates more sustained value.

When conflict stops being productive and becomes personal, that’s harmful for everyone. Having a heated debate about your customer’s needs is perfectly okay (as long as it results in actionable steps to be taken next), but a good old rivalry between Pete and Tom isn’t.

At the end of the day, conflict is never a problem. It’s either a driver of change or a sign that whatever caused it should be taken care of.

Job titles for sales reps

sales-representative-job-titles

Trying to avoid the negative connotation that comes to customers’ minds when they get a call from “Sales Reps,” organizations often come up with alternative job titles their salespeople.

I had exactly this discussion with a friend yesterday. Is there a job title doesn’t put customers on the defensive the moment they hear it, nor does it sound too high up the hierarchy, scaring them away?

So I came up with this list of alternative job titles for sales reps I’ve stumbled upon online, on business cards, and in email signatures:

Account-related job titles:

  • Account Associate
  • Account Consultant
  • Account Executive
  • Account Manager
  • Account Specialist

Client or customer-related job titles:

  • Client Advisor (my favorite)
  • Client Activation Specialist
  • Client Engagement Specialist
  • Client Relationship Manager
  • Client Success Consultant
  • Client Success Manager

Sales-related job titles:

  • Sales Advisor
  • Sales Consultant
  • Sales Engineer
  • Sales Professional
  • Sales Rep
  • Sales Representative

Feel free to remix, change, and use them as you want. Just remember that the title alone doesn’t make a good sales rep.

It’s the person behind it that really matters.

Ask yourself these two questions before you start a business

Small start, big future

When starting or evaluating a business, any business, ask yourself:

1. How small can you start?

2. How big can you get?

Starting small creates an opportunity to learn about your product, customer, and market at the least possible cost of failure. It enables you to experiment with your presumptions and get actionable insights in return.

Before you get those insights, however, you need a roadmap for putting them to work in the real world. A world where minimum viable products, no matter how successful, are just a start. Where big investors want you to know how exactly you can get to $10 million in revenues the next year. Where big players can buy you up or outspend you at any time.

Ask yourself and find the answers.