Tools

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The reviews, “how to”, and recommendations in this section help the venture inventor get the job done. The categories under tools:

Software

Computer and Internet Services

Books

Travel

Coffee

Treats

Pens, Paper

 

 

Categories: Team, Tools

Team – Asked and Answered

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www.lumaxart.com_credit to

www.lumaxart.com_credit to

Team members have questions about their assignments.  This section addresses team member questions.  The team member section contains “how to”
guidance. Its purpose is to save time.  Instead of repeating themselves, management points to a particular post.  Team members assimilate company values and expectations quickly by reading the posts.

Categories: Team

Voice of the Customer Emails for setting appointments – comments

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After an inquiry about a study, (give your email address and get the table of contents) the study provider started emailing.  Every single day the creative, hopeful marketing / sales guy would find a new way to say the same thing “please buy my study” with the implied subtext ” I’m starving for sales”.

As one of the presidential candidates would say, “It was a disaster”.  Response rates for unsolicited emails are low, really low.  One article http://www.magillreport.com/Email-Response-Rates-Pathetically-Low/  pegs responses at 1 per thousand or so.  It is better than the lottery, but no way to make a living.  In the same article, direct call responses are over 12%. Creating a script and learning the phone and how to make calls work is best.

Better to offer a friendly direct, customized email than to do nothing.

First name,

Please forgive me for writing you out of the clear blue sky.  I tried to call, but no one answered at the front desk.  The reason for my call (and this email) is that (company name) is bringing (product name) to market soon. 

(Product name) offers a new to the (industry) way to (name chief benefit).  Like all proud innovators, we believe our product to (the names of other benefits).  

Because you are (compliment, and industry) [do homework on customer] a potential customer that we will eventually market to, we would like to have a brief call to hear your thoughts on our new (product name). 

During this call, our (inventor, and one of the founders) will present the invention and ask you for your opinion about (product name)’s relevance, benefits, and price.  

If a new way of (main product benefit) is of interest, perhaps we can set a call later this week (name a date and time).

Thank you!  (product name) is a great product; your comments will make it better. 

Kind regards,

 

 

Research – Deliverables

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Fast and good internet research requires skill and thought. It is a pressure cooker job because no one in management wants to wait and it takes hours of time to be thorough.

The basics: Start with https://www.google.com/advanced_search. Searching from the search bar is too vague and provides too many results.  Wikipedia for additional search terms.

When looking for a thing, select the images tab to find a photo of a thing close to the research target.  Click the link, open up the page of the “something close” image and use the description of the image and item as a library of terms for new searches.

Keep records of the sources.  The AP Stylebook  is useful for bibliography styles.  AP Stylebook citations are the common tongue of clarity.  The citation widget that comes with Microsoft Word or a variety of free and freemium browser add-ons are useful.  Some companies require other styles.

Once the initial pass through of the information is done, this information, along with the research assignment is sufficient for a working outline.  MS Word and other programs have long document features that include headings.  The headings automatically insert  into tables of contents.  Navigating the document using headings becomes second nature.

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The outline or headings of the document inform the author and keep the document on track.  Stephen King wrote “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”.  The great reviews are well deserved.

If the task is too large for the time allotment it is good to speak up and modify the assignment so that it is doable.

 

 

Categories: At Work, Team

Meetings and Phone Calls

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garage band

Ever play with the app “Garage Band”?  It offers a variety of ways to lay down instrumental tracks.  In the drum section, a simple clapping hand, or a syncopated beat with the full section playing is available.  Coming to a meeting or a phone call unprepared is like coming with a simple clapping hand to a jam session with a garage band.  A hand might be well played but how much better is the meeting or phone call with the assets of research, organization, analytics, thoughtfulness and an agenda?  (A lot better).

Research: At a minimum understand the subject’s topology.  Where are the mountains to climb, the valleys of death, the easy parts, the hard parts?  Do not come to a call or meeting without understanding the space, or the “room” or expect to look unprepared, or worse, foolish.

Organization:  Some Millenials and nearly everyone else inscribes what they know into hand-written entries.  Today’s tools (One Note, Evernote, etc.) offer instantly searchable on any device ways of keeping notes.  It isn’t possible to organize hand-written records and index them for immediate retrieval across years of work and multiple projects.  Find an electronic note keeping application and use it.  Not finding data when the moment is nigh is like asking to get engaged, but forgetting the ring.  Forgetting the ring and information are hollow acts, demonstrating a casualness that belies serious engagement (pun intended).

Analytics: Regurgitating data at a granular level and expecting someone else to make sense of it indicates (pick one or more): 1) A lack of ability to understand the information, 2) Laziness, 3) A taker position (vs. giver). It is better to understand the data and give a high-level perspective to keep the conversation flowing.

Thoughtfullness: Think about the meaning of the information and analytics about the subject.  Perhaps, on the face of it, sales are great, but in reality, the product is priced below cost.  Whether or not the idea is the winner, thinking demonstrates focus, caring and attention to detail.

Agenda: Announced or casual agendas each have their place.  An announced agenda is the one that is presented to the meeting, frequently a formal meeting.  A casual agenda takes place in informal settings.  The best casual lists are achieved in the natural flow of conversation without stress or striving.  The leader might have a list and check off items on the list as the natural conversation encompasses them. The leader may direct the conversation if needed, but the feeling is collaborative and not “stiff.”  Other casual agendas are those held by meeting goers, not leaders.  The goers agenda comes up with nudging, still in natural speaking.

Example: In a staff telephone meeting, George says: “I talked to twenty customers and here is what each one of them said, please be patient while I find the notebook (s) and some of the information is scattered so, hold on while I run to the truck to find it”.  Collective groans.  Nancy says: “I spoke with twenty customers too.  The prevailing sense is that our offer is attractive because 15 of the people I talked with gave me their credit card with 50% deposits.  In my opinion, a 75% close rate is too high.  There might be an opportunity to raise the price.”.  While George off the call in his truck is searching, the president says: “Nancy, nice observation, I can tell you are thinking.  Walk us through a typical sale please”  Nancy: “Of course …”  George gets back on the line as Nancy finishes.  The President says “Thank you, Nancy.  Listen, guys, I got to go.  Before I do, Nancy, please see HR about a promotion, you have earned it.”  George says “Hold on, I got my stuff”.  But the President has already hung up and on to his next meeting.

 

 

Categories: At Work, Team

Voice of the Customer

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Setting appointments, who to call, what not to do.

By the time that Voice of the Customer work starts, the hypothesis is made.  The customer segmentation is complete.  The founders and the team know which customers to hear.

The chart has an industrial focus; other product types vary the chart format. To save time, a team member sets interviews, the principal

To save time, a team member sets interviews, the principal investigator (PI) or founder holds the interviews.  Fifteen to twenty site visits are best.  Secondarily, telephone interviews.

Before interview appointment calls to the hypothetical customers, the customer contact data is discovered by purchasing a list, social networks, web searches, present customers and experienced, connected sales people.

It is a good idea to cold call some of each customer segment. Fundamentally, the new invention has to sell to unknown customers. The team member assigned to the task of setting appointments has a vital mission.  The member sets the appointments without tainting the thinking of the customer.

“Taint” is an interesting word.  Tainted meat is spoiled meat. Tainted customers are contaminated with the notions of the venture or team member.  For example, if the product was a “smart” gear that provides wear updates, and the member asked the customer if he would pay “x” for a smart gear, then the customer is tainted because now the customer has the venture’s price in his head, instead of thinking about the value to his business.  On the other hand, If the member asks if the customer used gears in their business, the customer remains untainted.

Data is important from the member cold calls setting up appointments.  The team member should document how long it takes to perform each task.

  • How long does it take to find a customer to call?
    • Eventually, the sales persons need assignments.  How long it takes to find a customer affects quota requirements.
  • How many customers are called before an appointment is set?
    • Speaks to innate interest.  If the invention does not solve a pressing problem, more approaches are necessary.
  • What is told to the customers that don’t agree to an appointment?
    • Beginnings of the elevator pitch.
  • What was the conversation when customers do agree to set an appointment.
    • Discovering hot buttons.

Regarding the call itself, it is important to start with smaller customers (so as not to burn through the large ones) and of the small customers, talk to middle management.  It is better to practice with the less important accounts first.

 

Work Product – Team Members

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Fortune smiles on team members because the work team members do is meaningful and critical.

An example assignment: Build the business case for a new venture invention and deliver it in 7 days.

If the assignment is well-made, it matches and stretches the capabilities of the team member(s). For example, consider the work of building a business case.
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Management reserves product definition, development plan, launch plan, operations, and budget items.  The relatively new associate or team member gets comparables, the size of the market, competition, risk assessment, product justification and a guess at the sales price.  The management and team members share talking to customers.

The team member guards time to avoid getting lost in the research by first reviewing the resources available to the work and coming forward with a thoughtful action plan.

One way to make a thoughtful action plan is to prepare a document outline with time estimates.  Use a template with a cover page.  Add a table of contents, a bibliography, and appendix.  Snip out the table of contents.  Ask for a minute to review with management.  Management can see the direction, the expected deliverable, and have a serious conversation about expectations. Talk about the sources you have found and expect to find. Offer to take on some of the work in the yellow boxes on the management side of the work too.  Set up the voice of the customer schedule and assume responsibility for the calendaring.

  1. Summary
    1. Voice of the Customer
    2. Product Launch Plan
    3. Sales Price
    4. Sales Plan
    5. Product Justification
    6. Product Definition
    7. Risk Assessment
  2. Research
    1. Competitive Analysis
    2. Size of Market
    3. Competition
  3. Appendix
    1. Operations Plan
    2. Detailed Development Plan
    3. Budget Numbers
    4. Bibliography

If management wants more, it has a choice: put in more resources or allow more time.  If management wants less (almost never the case), management can balance the workflow. Expectations about seven days work are realistic.  On the fifth day, give an update.  Describe accurately the “good, the bad and the ugly”.  Crunch time and the manager still has time to react and keep the project on track, or add depth and color to key, new points.  For example, you may find that a multinational is still using legacy equipment and particularly ripe for the new invention.  The more the associate keeps his head in the game, the better the presentation.  Result?  The manager’s performance works flawlessly, and the project funded. The associate contribution is high, noted and rewarded.

 

Categories: Team