Archives For Innovation

I just landed in Chicago (photo to the left flying over downtown – note: the flight attendant is telling me to put my phone away right at that moment!) –  getting ready for a business leaders in conference which starts tonight.  Tomorrow I’ll be speaking on innovation and expanding the business through creativity.  This conference is geared to business owners with a focus on building the business, increasing profitability, and creating financial stability.  Some of of the other topics include; reducing executive stress, reducing healthcare costs, developing employee character and conflict resolution, negotiating, international trade, reducing debt, and much more.

If you own a business and you don’t take time to develop yourself as a business owner – away from the daily work, you are likely missing some great opportunities.  Today’s business environment is competitive, demanding, and changing.  Make sure you schedule time to get away, spend time with other business leaders to exchange ideas, seek out executive coaches and seminars designed to educate business leaders, and read meaningful books…a few things most of us need to do periodically:

  1.   Step back periodically to see where your company actually makes money.  Over time businesses change, needs change, and bureaucracy creeps in.  Find out where the money is coming in, and focus on improving the things that are working.  Too often I see business owners spending too much time and money trying to fix something that just doesn’t work.  Many times this involves people who just don’t work.
  2. Review your message.  How long has it been since you updated your marketing copy?  Have you read your website recently and do you know what it says?  Is it still relevant?  Are you still using data sheets and are they meaningful?  Chances are you printed a bunch of materials long ago – it’s time to toss them.  Move to electronic copy and keep it up to date.
  3. Where is your pricing?  How long has it been since you have raised your rates.  Are you still charging T&M?  It’s difficult to raise a T&M rate, however, it is much easier to increase fixed fees – especially when you can demonstrate greater value based on outcomes.
  4. Are you reaching deeper into the current customer base?  Chances are they have more needs to be met.  This is a great way to expand your company.
  5. Test your program – does it really meet the customer need?  Are there areas you could be serving but aren’t?

New ideas don’t just happen.  They come as you collaborate, brainstorm, work with outside coaches and facilitators, and spend time reflecting and thinking about your business.  None of this can really happen while you are working “in” the business…

© 2012, David Stelzl

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Photo Taken By Hannah Stelzl

Don’t forget to sign up for tomorrow’s webinar – Leveraging the Discovery Process! See yesterday’s post for the link to sign up.

We’re back from a week in Nashville – all 9 of us attended this years Nashville Home school conference where I presented two sessions, one on building an entrepreneurial mindset and a second on starting businesses (topics I also recently presented at a Dallas Texas Home School Conference)…Some highlights from my time in TN:

1. I had an enlightening conversation with a family from China.  The father’s perspectives on innovation, the US economy, and future business developments in China were very interesting and insightful.

2. I also spoke with another person responsible for the development of China’s junior achievement program and instrumental in introducing Peter Senge, author of the Fifth Discipline, to many businesses in his country.

3. One session I attended provided excellent steps on avoiding procrastination – something everyone needs to take to heart if they want their business to grow.

4. Another session focused on building systems.  He talked about the importance of systematizing every aspect of our business and building disciplines around productivity, finances, and even interpersonal relationships.

5. Finally, I enjoyed visiting the pool each night with my children – along with many other families attending the conference.

© 2011, David Stelzl

The Ipad – Here are some sound bites: (Source: Wall Street Journal)

1 year old

90% market share

14.8 million devices sold

9.5 Billion in revenue in one year!

200 Million Apple Accounts world wide

And a new version out this month while the competition is still scrambling to compete with the first  release.

Innovation is key.  At the 2011 RSA conference, one of the most interesting presentations came from the founder of Palo Alto, Nir Zuk.  He talked about innovation, and repeatedly asked his audience who was using what – brands of cell phones, operating systems, etc.  Through this interaction he showed that many of the technology leaders just aren’t innovating any more, and people are moving to new technology – following the innovators.  These companies that lack innovation stand to lose significant market share if they continue.  This is a wake up call…not just to those with an iPad look-a-like, but for Microsoft and anyone else with significant market share.  Companies that are innovating will win over time.  The problem is, many of these new innovations compete with the margins resellers have depended on!

Example:  How many resellers are still selling PCs to make a profit.  Perhaps yours doesn’t, but there are thousands of SMB focused resellers still in this game.  Will they start selling iPads?  Well, maybe, but that is not very strategic.  A $500 device, already set up with an operating system that doesn’t require a daily reboot to recover from the blue-screen isn’t going to make up for the loss.  And with other technologies commoditizing and companies like Google putting free tools online (Have you tried Google Apps?), the market is bound to change – expect resellers to be out of business within a year if they are waiting on the economy to pick up, hoping to be placed back into the business they drove two years ago.

Innovation for Apple means, new cool looking products that appeal to the new mobile generation.  But to the reseller and high-tech sales person, it means finding new ways to help clients innovate, automate, secure, and become efficient.  It means finding new areas to help companies with technology that puts them ahead of their competition and cuts cost out of their current IT program.  And it means helping them secure what they have before they lose everything.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Photo By: Hannah Stelzl

I’ve met too many sales people over the past decade who are stuck dreaming about the 90’s.  They had large accounts, perhaps covered one large global client.  They made big money, have impressive contacts, traveled the world, and won awards.  Innovation was high, new technologies drove early adopter buyers to research and seek out differentiating technologies.   And they were on the ride side, selling it all.  They had it made!

Sales were high because companies were seeking out new technologies that would put them ahead.  Perhaps the first restaurant to use pagers was a hit, the first realtor to use a cell phone beat his competition to the sale, and the first company to deploy email changed the way people communicate, gaining an advantage somehow.  Sales were strong and margins were good.  But it seems as though today’s technology developments are improvements on yesterday’s innovations.  They’re faster, cheaper, and in some cases more reliable.  Digital cell phones are much clearer than the old analogue, desktops are a fraction of the cost we paid twenty years ago, and the size of mobile computing devices has made it possible to carry the power of yesterday’s mainframe technology on our hip.  And with this era of improvement comes commoditization and thin margins.

Commoditization of technology is speeding up and the number of ways to purchase just keeps growing as prices fall.  The old days are not coming back, and sitting around wishing, won’t improve your numbers.  Expect sales to get harder going forward, margin to grow thinner, and buyers to be smarter.  As a sales person, you can’t be coaches anymore, responsible only for bringing in the team.  You have to become consultants, bringing knowledge and ideas, and prepared to solve problems; in short, you have to demonstrate that you are the best choice to advise business leaders on the direction to take with technology.  The more a sales person dreams about past success the less likely he is to perform in the coming year.  Margin can no longer come from product alone, but rather the intellectual capital you bring; ideas that are better than any other, work ethic that out performs your competitor, and creativity.  All of this starts with your message; the thing that positions you above the noise and creates an opportunity to demonstrate lasting value.

© 2010, David Stelzl

Don’t miss this week’s podcast at http://dstelzl.podbean.com/ – The final chapter on what is happening in the cybercrime space.  We’ve had some major hits this month including Heartland, WorldPay, Checkfree, and more.  Find out 5 things companies are doing wrong – five areas you could be focusing on to win more business.

Also, we’ve had a tremendous response to the upcoming March 26th Teleseminar – Making Money in a Miserable Economy.  Make sure you register at http://www.stelzl.us/subscribe_teleseminar.asp while there’s still time.  I’ll start at 11:30 AM East coast sharp!  The material for this event is fresh and relevant to our current market – this will open up new ideas for success in the coming months.  Read more on my website (link above).

 

How would Walt Disney Market in 2009 – in a down economy?  Harvard Review writer John Sviokla provides 6 points worth noting.  Marketing is one of the first things to be  cut when sales are down, but if you’re in sales, you can’t afford to let this happen.  If nothing else, market your own brand – keeping  your message in front of those with spending power.  If your offering makes sense, your sales will survive down times.  Here is a quick summary (6 points from Sviokla with some of my own commentary to apply this to our business – high tech sales):

  • 1. Leverage stories – people read stories, Chip and Dan Heath (Authors of Made to Stick) point to stories as one key to “Making it Stick! And Bill Whitley’s recent sales book – Art of the Rainmaker explains how to build your own “Client attraction story.” As a side, Bill and I are working together on building my attraction story; something I am extremely excited about. Check out his book on Amazon.com.
  • 2. Be Creative with Technology – My opinion, brute force cold calling is great practice in handling rejection, and people do need to learn to grab the attention of asset owners without an in-person meeting; however, successful branding requires the use of technology. If you can’t communicate through all types of media, you may be missing the boat. Use Webex, podcast, blogs, e-letters, self publishing, article servers, Idea Letters ®, etc.
  • 3. Message Coordination – this is key. Setting up warm calls with webinars, e-letters, Idea Letters ®, etc. makes prospecting much easier. Coordinate marketing events that build the messaging across various forms of media – this is easy to do with the tools now available to us. Learn to use them.
  • 4. Innovate – step out and try new things. I am getting ready to do one of my first training classes via TelePresence. This should be fun! Be creative with messaging, technology, etc.
  • 5. Uniqueness – Selling technology is not new, and building a unique brand is becoming more difficult. I recently worked with a company that has taken Security Technology to a new level, focusing on smaller banks, handling all the compliance red tape for them, and providing the 24/7 security oversight required to meet SEC and GLBA regulations. Anyone can sell firewalls, so they’ve taken their business to a new level.
  • 6. Stay on the Message – in other words FOCUS. In a recent podcast I quoted Montoya, author of The Personal Branding Phenomenon. He says, It’s tempting to diversify, and in some cases product sets are too narrow; however, your message and value must be focused to deliver instant recall (paraphrased). A watered down message won’t be remembered.

You can read more from the source.

http://discussionleader.hbsp.com/sviokla/2008/12/what_would_disney_do_to_market.html