The Meyer Group - Blog
Thursday, 28 December 2017 05:10

Setting Up the New Year for Growth

New Growth for the New Year

This is also in response to a request: Do you have a good process for setting up the new year for growth? Not just to do the same we’ve done already, but to grow?

I’m going to reply with something simple but not easy. It looks a lot like a formula, and I guess it is. If you get the people on whom you rely to focus here it will help you to grow into the future instead of just repeat the past. If you go with this, you can increase revenue and get more things done in early 2018.

 

The Formula

First, what is the formula? My answer:

1 - Try new stuff

2 - Pay attention

3 - Repeat.

It looks simple. It is simple. And it works.

 

Why Three Steps

When we actually try new stuff and review it we are exploring and learning, moving into the unknown. We automatically improve. The key is getting started.

One of my axioms is that all of us enjoy growing and learning. It is true for all of us.

 

Why Three Steps?

Have you ever seen projects that get launched and then abandoned? It happens all the time. Projects and programs get chartered, launched, and then ignored. Not much learning or productivity comes from that. So doing something new should be followed with “Pay attention” to what happened.

Ask the people on whom you rely to examine what happens. This is your chance to gain as they learn and improve.

 

What Will Everyone Learn? Will it Be Enough?

We never know what we might learn. It is a step into the unknown. Many will avoid it, deflecting the risk.

However, most of us will be willing to try to define the unknown if the chance of failure seems less than the joy of exploration. If we knew what we were about to learn it would not be new, would it? If you want to start the year with a sense of growing, that means moving into the unknown. Getting folks to accept that is not always easy.

A key is not to request large jumps. Take small steps instead. Promote the sense that any small growth is a good step. You can help people to enjoy the taste of success. Instead of asking your team to think large, ask them to try new things that they can do with comfort. Reduce the risk and stress of experiments, go for incremental success into the new instead of single big steps.

 

Pay Attention

Be obvious about looking at what happened.

The most common next step after a new idea is to ignore what happened and start something else. The second most common in many organizations is to look for what went wrong.

Instead of a “why did we fail” meeting to review an effort ask yourself, and the people upon whom your rely, to look at what they learned and can use again. Pay attention to what worked and how. Use that to focus on the transferable skills that you want to encourage.

 

Repeat

You may learn, but you can be sure that there is more. So the third step is to repeat the first two. If you are taking small steps, and getting satisfaction, this is easy. More important, if people are enjoying the learning, this is easy to promote. When you get it rolling, it can be difficult to stop. That is a good thing.

 

Make It Happen

As you prepare yourself, your team, your customers for 2018, ask yourself how you want them to see you. Do you want them to see you as you were in 2017? Or as progressive and growing and helping them grow in 2018?

As you lay out the start to your year, don’t just talk about what you did and what they can do to extend it. Ask them how you can help them do new things. Then ask them to take small steps, try new things, pay attention, and then repeat.

And you should do the same. You will get more grins per week, and why not do that in 2018?

Thursday, 28 December 2017 01:53

Do You Want to Encourage Last Minute Revenue?

This is in response to a request: "Have you got a strategy to encourage the last bits of revenue from the calendar year?" So let's consider something you can do this week. Let me start with three thoughts.

First: Most of my clients and business friends are looking to get as much revenue as possible in the next few weeks. If that is you, keep reading.

Second: The traditional path is to discount deals and add pressure to the sales team and customer. This works some of the time, but you know that there are deals where it won't work. Everyone knows the game, and your customers are often resistant to it. They think of end of year revenue as our problem, not theirs. And they are usually right aren't they? So we try to buy or pressure their help.

Third: Most people, under pressure, return to old habits. The more pressure we apply, the more they work from history. In other words, under pressure most people hunker down to what they used to do.

Is that what you want?

If pressure and discounts are not working, consider reversing the pressure. Two options for you:

1 - Go to the prospect and say that you are done trying to pressure him/her. Ask what they would want that would add value instead. If you have a $500K proposal on the table, instead of discounting another $25K, ask what service you could provide that is not in the proposal that would help them this year or next. If you can do it for less than $25K, just make it part of the deal. They get something they didn't expect, you get to hold your price at $500K.

The point is not that you are giving them a discount in another way. The point is that you are letting them define value as they see it and you are delivering it. You are releasing pressure and changing the conversation. When the customer relaxes, she or he can see other solutions. You gain as well.

2 - Back off the pressure, start talking about 2018 plans and goals. Ask what she or he wants to get done next year, and just let them talk about that. You'll learn about what your future deals can be. Just as likely, if they are budget constrained (pressure from their own organization instead of you) then see if you can help them do some of that in this year's budget. You become part of the solution to their problem. You might wind up modifying your offer to be part what you had in mind and part what they had in mind, but still book a deal this year.

The point is not that you are backing off. The point is that you are engaging them to help them get something done that matters to them. You are releasing pressure and changing the conversation.When the customer relaxes, she or he can see other solutions. You gain as well.

It may be hard in December, but take a breath. Help your customer take a breath. Let both of you move from hunker down to a two way conversation. You might just book some good 2017 business as you do.

By the way, if you are asking where I have been, thank you. I spent a large part of the past few months intensely experiencing our health care system. I'm fine, getting stronger, and working again. And now I'm blogging again as well. My mind is going full speed, spin me some questions and requests!

Thursday, 28 December 2017 01:51

Growing Revenue: How Do We Make Money Happen?

This is a book and blog about growing your revenue, your time, and helping your people grow as well. Since we are talking about business, we’re going to start with revenue. In the end, it will be the tail that wags the dog, but revenue tends to get the most attention.

You have probably told someone that money doesn’t grow on trees. You have to make it happen. And if this someone was a teenager, you probably said that it was through hard work.

But there is more, isn’t there? People who work incredibly hard have businesses that crater. Some people who work smart have operations that excel, but even more have businesses that putter along and don’t excel. People who are connected succeed, but just as many people who are connected fail.

What is the difference between failure and growth? To illustrate, I’m drawing a 2x2 grid or Johari Window. The vertical axis goes from the assumption of "limits" at the bottom to the premise of "growth" at the top. (You can read more about this in Dr. Carol Dweck’s book: Mindset.) On the left side of the horizontal axis you will see "take" and on the right "make." (The photographer Ansel Adams discusses this in: "Ansel Adams: An Autobiography.") How does this 2x2 model work in business? Let’s explore that.

 

First, this is not fixed. Looking at the vertical axis, you see an assumption that scales from "we are limited" to "we are going to continue growing even further." Each of us is somewhere on this scale in every moment. At the same time, each of us makes an assumption of "take" versus "make" and that’s reflected on the horizontal access. We don’t live in one pane. We move from pane to pane as we learn and explore.

This book and blog are going to start with exploring good practices for growing revenue. But revenue is just the side effect. We’ll look at how to use the same window to help your people grow and then help you to grow more access to your time. In other words, you can use this as a tool to help you build your whole business.

And it starts with a core premise: We choose where we want to be in the window.

Limits or Growth?

We approach every moment with mindsets, our views of how we operate. One of those is just how limited we are. This is the feeling that we’ve topped out. Maybe we feel that we can only go so far, and then we’ll be done succeeding. Perhaps we feel that there is no limit, that we can grow indefinitely. The lower left of this window is assuming that we will have a limit. The upper left is feeling that we can grow further than we used to think possible. We don’t live at either end, we are always moving somewhere higher or lower on the scale.

Dr. Dweck and some associates have written extensively about how this works for students. Dweck refers to "fixed mindset" and "growth mindset."
• "In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb.
• "In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it."
[Dweck, C. S.; Leggett, E. L. (1988). "A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality". Psychological Review 95 (2): 256—273. DOI:10.1037/0033-295X.95.2.256.]

Some people like to reach a place of excellence and then stop, thinking that this is the end of their ability. Some can’t stand that idea. They insist that there is nothing but upside opportunity. Success for the upper end of this axis is not reaching targets, it is continuing to grow past them.

How we define success when we start projects is important. If success is to aim for a specific target, you can get and then stop there. Your target becomes a limit on growth. Saying that we want to grow past a milestone isn’t placing a limit.

To be clear, when we define success as meeting a targets we are staying low on the vertical axis. When we define success as continual growth we are higher on the vertical axis. Yes, we meet targets along the way, and that is a byproduct.

Most of the people you work with will be somewhere along the spectrum. At first, you might think that this is binary: either you work from a fixed and limited mindset or you work from a growth mindset. In practice, all of us move up and down the vertical axis each day with each challenge.

Take or Make?
In his photography, Ansel Adams set many standards. Lets focus on one key assumption from which he worked: "You don't take a photograph, you make it."

When you pick up a camera, you have two choices. One is to look at what you have been given. The other is to look at what you want to do with it. Do you ask your team to approach a project based on what they are given? Or do you ask them to look at what they can make with whatever resources are reasonable?

You initiate from one of two starting points. You can look for what is available. The other is to try to make an image that you want. Along with many other great photographers, Adams strived to make, not take.

It is easy to say that we have a limited set of resources from which to generate success. The same is true of Adams standing on a promontory. He had only one camera, and a few plates on which he could make images. He had a limited view in front of him. Still, he took the position that he built his photograph to match his vision, and that he’d make an image and not just take one.

Adams made photographs by working from his inner vision, and assembling the resources in a way that worked well for him. He made images work by starting from his inner strength. It is something he had, that we all have.

This is also not binary. There also are many times when Adams says that he got the image he wanted by what he called an act of God. In the "make" vs "take" spectrum, you don’t need to get to 100% make. Just moving past 50% will put you in a rarified atmosphere. The people around you have enough ability. The question is whether you can help them choose to make something more with their ability. Do they sleepwalk through the work? Do they follow the traditional paths with enthusiasm? Do they make new paths? These would appear as three different marks on the horizontal axis.

You can ask the question that grows revenue on this axis:
- Are you taking what you are given from the outside or making what you will want from the inside?
Consistent revenue growth comes when you help people see a way to take themselves further to the right.

Which of Four Positions Will You Be In Today?

In any given sales or development effort, you and the people around you might be feeling that you:
- Have topped out and it is time to take what you have and pause (lower left pane).
- Are at your best and you want to make more and more with what you have (lower right pane). - Have much more that you can take and use (upper left pane).
- Have much more that you can do, and you can make revenue that was never forecast (upper right pane).

The more time you help people spend in the upper right, the faster your revenue grows. Just as important, the success there is self-reinforcing. If you can help your team taste the upper right more often, then they will want to live there. Then your task moves from pushing increased growth to managing increased growth. This is a better problem to have, no?

The more time you and the people around spend working from high growth and make assumptions, the more they will grow as people and you will grow your time. This is the cornerstone of growing your revenue, time, and people.

Getting you, your people, and your business to the upper right is what this book and blog are about.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017 20:14

Encouraging Last Minute Revenue

Do You Want to Encourage Last Minute Revenue?

This is in response to a request: “Have you got a strategy to encourage the last bits of revenue from the calendar year?” So let’s consider something you can do this week. Let me start with three thoughts.

First: Most of my clients and business friends are looking to get as much revenue as possible in the next few weeks. If that is you, keep reading.

Second: The traditional path is to discount deals and add pressure to the sales team and customer. This works some of the time, but you know that there are deals where it won’t work. Everyone knows the game, and your customers are often resistant to it. They think of end of year revenue as our problem, not theirs. And they are usually right aren’t they? So we try to buy or pressure their help.

Third: Most people, under pressure, return to old habits. The more pressure we apply, the more they work from history. In other words, under pressure most people hunker down to what they used to do.

Is that what you want?

If pressure and discounts are not working, consider reversing the pressure. Two options for you:

1 - Go to the prospect and say that you are done trying to pressure him/her. Ask what they would want that would add value instead. If you have a $500K proposal on the table, instead of discounting another $25K, ask what service you could provide that is not in the proposal that would help them this year or next. If you can do it for less than $25K, just make it part of the deal. They get something they didn’t expect, you get to hold your price at $500K.

The point is not that you are giving them a discount in another way. The point is that you are letting them define value as they see it and you are delivering it. You are releasing pressure and changing the conversation. When the customer relaxes, she or he can see other solutions. You gain as well.

2 - Back off the pressure, start talking about 2018 plans and goals. Ask what she or he wants to get done next year, and just let them talk about that. You’ll learn about what your future deals can be. Just as likely, if they are budget constrained (pressure from their own organization instead of you) then see if you can help them do some of that in this year’s budget. You become part of the solution to their problem. You might wind up modifying your offer to be part what you had in mind and part what they had in mind, but still book a deal this year.

The point is not that you are backing off. The point is that you are engaging them to help them get something done that matters to them. You are releasing pressure and changing the conversation.When the customer relaxes, she or he can see other solutions. You gain as well.

It may be hard in December, but take a breath. Help your customer take a breath. Let both of you move from hunker down to a two way conversation. You might just book some good 2017 business as you do.

By the way, if you are asking where I have been, thank you. I spent a large part of the past few months intensely experiencing our health care system. I’m fine, getting stronger, and working again. And now I’m blogging again as well. My mind is going full speed, spin me some questions and requests!