Your business succeeds when people buy your product or service to satisfy a need or solve a problem. You know that they are buying, but do you understand why they are buying?
You probably have a handle on buyers’ needs for current products, but customers likely have related problems that you could solve with an upgrade or a new product. You can anticipate needs only when you deeply understand current situations. How do you find out about the other needs of your customers?
Simple: Ask them.
Do not ask them in a standard customer-satisfaction survey that focuses on existing products, the transaction and customer service, where high marks mean your staff is meeting customer-satisfaction goals. I started my career with Digital Equipment Corp., which surveyed customers on how satisfied they were with the company’s products and service. “Very satisfied,” replied the system managers.
But Digital did not ask about unmet needs and so did not know that these customers were buying competitors’ solutions for new applications. (read more…)
Startups and small companies are the core of our entrepreneurial market. In selling to and working with these companies for over 30 years, I sometimes see these firms focus too much on the unique features of their product or service instead of the competitors in their market.
To really succeed and break away from the pack, it is critical for entrepreneurs to clearly understand the problems that their solution is targeted to fix.
In addition, startups and small companies need to paint a vivid picture for prospects that shows the benefits of implementing the solution and quantifies the how that solution affects the client’s bottom line.
Top-tier startups find growth opportunities before competitors do. Not only do they need to understand their customers’ business, but they must also anticipate market developments to help customers solve problems through the use of their products. In this way, startups can establish footholds in target markets. (read more…)
Talent development is a perennial issue for CEOs, but this year, it’s more prominent than ever.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2013 Global CEO Survey, the shortage of key skills ranks second (behind higher taxes) among the threats to growth in 2013. Additionally, in the Conference Board’s CEO Challenge 2013, human capital — how best to develop, engage, manage, and retain talent — leads the list of the year’s top 10 global challenges. Moreover, CEOs’ top strategy for addressing human capital is growing talent internally.
Executives also say that only 5% of their employees have the combination of skills and capabilities required to deliver desired results in 2013, according to a recent study by global corporate research firm CEB.
Too bad, then, that talent development, a roughly $300 billion market worldwide, is on life support. Why? Because most companies (including yours, probably) design their development programs around a number of mortally misguided myths. (read more…)
When I ask senior leaders how they spend their time in their work environment, they report three things more frequently than any other activities.
- Meetings with direct reports.
- Evaluating and analyzing performance data.
- Addressing performance problems.
Certainly, these are important behaviors for senior leaders. But are these the most beneficial activities senior leaders can engage in? I don’t think so — and will explain in a few paragraphs why.
Why do senior leaders engage in these activities? My experience and research tells me that leader behaviors are driven by three factors: role models from their past, their social style or personality type, and the organization’s culture.
So senior leaders do meetings, analysis of data and address performance problems because they’ve seen those behaviors role modeled by others, the behaviors fit their social style, and the organizational culture reinforces those activities.
Another issue arises as we look at senior leaders’ activities. Their integrity is compromised when their activities — how they spend their time — are inconsistent with what they say is important in their workplace. (read more…)
Like many organizations, the Navy decided to reduce its energy consumption in an effort to cut costs and become more environmentally-friendly, but unlike many organizations, that feat for the Navy involved looking at its facilities all the way from a global perspective down to a local one. In order to achieve this, the Navy used GIS software to develop the Navy Shore Geospatial Energy Program, which Sandrine Schultz presented during day two of the Esri Federal GIS Conference in Washington, D.C., last week.
The program was designed to allow the Navy to look at its energy consumption on a global basis and at individual facilities to help them identify where they needed to cut down on energy consumption.
“Geospatial capabilities are changing the way that we all do business,” Schultz said during the presentation. “We turned data into decisions.”
Using NSGEM, the Navy can look at maps that span from the entire globe to a single facility and show the organization’s energy consumption in that area. (read more…)