Saturday, 31 December 2011

Honouring Selling and Design - Trust in Linked In Invitations ?

Congratulations to North London Chingford's son, Sir Jonathan Ives KBE ( Knight of the British Empire) , senior vice president of industrial design at Apple. His honour was given  for his services for services to design and enterprise, whose leadership of the design team at Apple has led to the iPodiPad and I phone.
Such honours are given in recognition of great achievement and imply trust from the monarch through her first minister of the Treasury - Prime Minister, David Cameron.

I have yet to receive an invitation for an honour from her Majesty the Queen for "services to blogging on selling matters." If I were to do so, such an invitation for an honour from The Queen I am given to understand would be a command.
Windsor Castle , Royal County of Berkshire UK

I understand that I  would have to return a suitably worded reply addressed to the member of Her Majesty's Household who had issued the original invitation.  I would probably first need to consult Debrett’s

Despite the fact that the royal household is on-line nowadays  , I very much doubt the invitation would be communicated to me in the style of those automated messages to join the chivalrous company of gallant business gentlemen and ladies of the “ The Most Noble order of Linked In ”.

“Since You Are A Person I Trust, I Wanted to Invite You To Join My Network on Linked In."

To some that flattering automated message from Linked In should have a health warning! But why , what could be more lovely in  the world of business than to be" trusted" ?

Of course when we say we did not deserve the 'honour' of such an invitation – that is not humility but candour. For we may have done absolutely nothing to deserve that trust unlike the real honours like Sir Jonathan's.

Have I met the Linked In invitee ?

0 Colleague?
0 Classmate?
0 Done business together?
0 Friend?
0 other ?

Indeed for such an invitation there is no need to consult Debrett’s but one can just lazily depress the ‘accept’ button.- job done

Linked In maybe morally neutral but our use ( abuse) of it may not be. The way that word “Trust” is used in an automated message devalues that particular virtue.
St George's Chapel Windsor - home of the Knights of the Garter. Burial place of Henry VIII and Charles I.

  •  Trust and respect

This standard form of words, offered by Linked In to their members as an option in the invitation process. Perhaps we should lobby Linked In to withdraw it.
Such automated messages have the laziness of total reliance of greeting card manufacturers with nothing personal added. When received they can seem to indicate how little the sender values the would-be relationship.
 It  also indicates that the sender prioritises quantity over quality in their networking – and you are clearly a “Z” list-er.

As a recipient one  wonders how useful such a connection is likely to be.

  •  Should your network be "Open" to all or restricted?

Should we be open to connections from people you’ve never met?
 In the formative years of social networking  we were encouraged to think so. Some are wary of this and prefer a closed  network.
 Open networking will help you network grow but it should like all professional selling be respectful and discriminating. It comes across a rather devious when an implication of of trust already exists when it clearly does not.

A fellow professional does a bit of research?
They bother to look up one’s profile?

 They find a reason why a connection might be mutually beneficial  ie WIIFY –What is in it for you?
  • Personal invitation or junk invitation?

Your point of common interest might be in membership of the same group or in a topic that’s of shared interest.
It could be an article the other person has published or commented on.

Perhaps it could be an aspect of the individual or the company they work for.
 But if there is no common ground whatever, what reasonable expectation is their from the recipient to want to connect with invitee.
Most accept every request that shows that the invitee has taken the time to personalise the invitation and has identified some element of mutual interest.

Those connections are going to prove to be far more valuable to all concerned

  •  Discerningly open
( One of the best views of London from Windsor Castle's twelfth century 'round' tower - newly reopened to the public- over the  roofs the state apartments towards the east with Heathrow Terminal 5 building- through to the horizon with Shard then on towards the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf)

"Back in the day"
Openness with discernment enables one to build up a good sized network that will prove invaluable to  growing your business.  It helps you to vet would be time wasters.
It was how connections were made in days gone by.
The Most Noble Order of the Garter is the highest order of chivalry existing in England, founded in 1348 by Edward III.

It was to be “a society, fellowship and college of knights” given to those the monarch trusted.

Knights are to be chivalrous which are qualities idealised by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honour, and gallantry.

The Order is dedicated to the image and arms of St. George as England's patron saint, and is bequeathed to recipients from Britain and other Commonwealth.

After a peerage, it is the pinnacle of the UK honours’ system .

Bestowing the honour is one of the Monarch's few remaining truly personal, executive privileges.

The most popular legend for the origin of the Order involves the "Countess of Salisbury" while dancing with or near King Edward at Eltham Palace, her garter is said to have slipped from her leg.

When the surrounding courtiers sniggered, the king picked it up and tied it to his leg, exclaiming, "Honi soit qui mal y pense," ("Shamed be the person who thinks evil of it."), the phrase that has become the motto of the Order

The motto to be found all over Windsor Castle home of the Order of the Garter. The six is just the viewing point for tourist visitors.

The order's emblem, depicted on insignia, is a garter with the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense (Old French: "shame upon him who thinks evil upon it", or "evil to him who evil thinks") in gold lettering. Members of the order wear such a garter on ceremonial occasions

Do Debrett’s offer help on “netiquette and LinkedIn yet?. Possibly they cover it “Modern manners”'s-publications/books/a-z-of-modern-manners.aspx

Shamed be the person who thinks evil of it Honi soit qui mal y pense

By the way, if we’re not yet connected, and you think that there might be a good reason to be so,  please send a short personalised invitation on LinkedIn but  please not one of those 'auto-trust' messages- my profile Hugh Alford  , and I’d be happy to accept.

 Of course, you can always follow me at distance on twitter @fruits_hugh

I’ll be pleased to follow back as long as your twitter feed looks like it might be interesting

And should it be a command from her Majesty I will consult DeBrett's quam celerrime and reply to the best of my ability. 

"Your humble servant, your Majesty."

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Alexandr Orlov Celebrity Blog Editor Christmas 2011

Christmas Card with Alexandr Orlov - "Meery Kreestmoss"

As has become traditonals on BBC wireless Radio "Today Programme" for guest editors for the week between Christmas and New Year, I Alexandr Orlov,  am celebrity guest editor of  this blog during holiday period.
I was interviewed by Mr Appeal

Where are you spending Christmas holidays?
 My Papa Anton advise me to visit pretty Cotswold village in aptly named  steep Hill of Bourton in Gloucestershire district. This is farming area of great beauty and grow mini cabbages of Brussels which go well with Seasonal Turkey Meal ( and secret plates of cheesey beetles.)

Where did you attend Christmas Eve?
I went of  pretty and old  St Lawence Church Bourton on the Hill. See picture below of said saint with grill -the martyr’s symbols. (Simples)

 We singing traditional carol songs like 'In the bleaky midwinter' ( that remind me of home town of Meerkova), 'Comes all ye faithfuls' and "It came upon a midnights clear" with strange words not covered in my English graduate  course I studied through the "Learn English Through Acupuncture" correspondence for example" veiled in flesh the Godhead see" ??
 Church has TWO Cribs

Extra crib on ledge
Did you find the church service strange?
No, it was piece of centipede cake. Thanks to my ITkat, Sergei,  who used to work on Russian space program and he install state of art computermabob with extra large RAM jar and floppy box which access Googles to explain strange liturgy of Church of Englands. But not so different to Meerkat Orthodox tradition back home. Village of Bourton on the Hill very friendly. 
What was your most amusing Christmas cracker joke ?
What  do termites have for breakfast? Oakmeal! That killed at feastings table in Bourton

How much time do you spend at your computer each day this holiday?
In morning I have to spend many hour replying to timewasters who are email me for cheap car insurance (deal scroll down for such.) The rest of day split between snacking and Tweeting about Christmas snacks .
Favourite website this year?
I am current working on a new social media website, called Litter. It is like LinkedIn and Twitter combine to let you waste time more efficiently.

The British public can now buy replica toys of you and Sergei as brand extension of your comparethemeerkat company what other ventures as you considering? Are you sure you in right place?
There have been rumours that I am to endorse  strange wafer chocolate confectionary bar called  KitKat by Nestle company as grown up sophistikat lifestyle brand to 'Kid Milky' and his bar for baby meerkats. This not true my cake bar is "Meerkat Bar" with slogan 'have a cake have a meerkat bar."

Have you been cold in the English countryside?
No my Santa sock keep cosey at night. Also weather has been mild but windy like on Russian plains

Favourite pop song at the moment?
Military wives song " Wherever you are"  with Chorus master Gareth Malone . Click for Wherever you are

What have you found most interesting about Cotswold Christmas?
Note boxings under tree

The term "boxings" is confusings. No one boxes on Boxings day but give presents to each other.

The tradition has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions. ( Remindings I must remember to pay faithful servant and Itkat Sergie.) Sergei.)

In the UK, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. Now we do shoppings. I visit Warwickshire district and  Avon  river town of Stratford of Shakespeare fame he playwright like Checkov but funnier.
Christmas Lights in Startford upon Avon

What has been the saddest thing this Christmas?

Mr. Roman’s footballing team only drew with  Fulham team. Serious doubting about Premier leagueings this season.

Related links
For authentic and official Cheap insurance site

Mr Appeal will be back at Blog in 2012

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas 2011 from Fruitsofsuccesswithhugh

Christmas Tree lit up in Trafalgar Square

Crib at Trafalgar Square - Hodie Christus Natus est

Wishing all readers of this blog
a Merry Christmas

Tree made of Lego bricks at St Pancras International Railway Sation, London

Wishing all readers of this blog
 a Merry Christmas

Wishing all readers of this blog
a Merry Christmas

During the holiday guest editorship of this blog will be undertaken by Alexandr Orlov
Meerkat superstar

Friday, 23 December 2011

New England Biolabs Company Conference - 9 key Customer service Teamworking Skills

The acronym "DNA" is often hijacked by Sales Executives as a shorthand metaphor for the core benefits in a Sales DVP ( Differentiated Value Proposition) or else by management gurus to describe the cultural essence of an organisation.

 So it was enlightening to facilitate on behalf of TACK International at a  team building event and conference held by New England Biolabs UK - world leaders in biological reagents including real DNA at Hitchin Priory.

 (This post has loads of video clips, photos and content of the fun team working experience we had)

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NEB's 'Group Phusion' sharing thoughts on benchmarking and metrics. Music room at Hitchin Priory
Having closed down the office on the Wednesday before the holiday break, the whole UK operation of NEB met for a team building  and business meeting in the historic Hitchin Priory conference centre.

 As with so many technological companies it is rare for the whole pf NEB UK to gather under the same roof to take stock of the state of the business the lessons learnt and to treat themselves  some thinking time to considering the future challenges and opportunities that are on offer.

I was particularly impressed how all the members of NEB were so open minded and prepared to risk leaving their day to day the 'comfort zones' of their specialisms, expertise and roles, to free think both the strategic and tactical challenges set them.

The morning was spent considering some 'big picture'  and 'heady' stuff.
  • Corporate cultures ( Power, Role, Task and People cultures) Charles Handy's classic on Changing-Organisations What transitions has NEB gone through what the the future hold?
  • Individual Personality and styles ( Lion, Monkey, Dolphin and Elephant - Nigel Risner'sThe Impact Code) Our own individual impact within the company and with clients.
  • Moments of opportunities ('MOO' moments) for NEB for 2012 The teams generated loads of ideas to those touch points with clients for opportunities to cross sell and provide a broader offering.
  • Benchmarking ' Hero' companies whose customer service values the various NEB teams admire and who they will actively follow throughout 2012. One team elected to followAmazon, another Google and lastly John Lewis.
  • Striving for Customer service excellence.
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'Helen's heroes' discussing their views on what Customer service excellence is for NEB customers. Music Room at Hitchin Priory

The afternoon was a session on team building. Rather a running a conventional session on the key elements of teamwork in business I took the risk ( and NEB were up for  the challenge) and set the teams a detailed task  I had written to build a  model replica of a mangonel ( medieval catapult) as used in the Siege of Bedford in 1224 along with an information quiz and other diversions..

So just before lunch the groups were supplied with a long and detailed brief and a set of tasks to be completed before 3 p.m.

The teams mixed with various disciplines such as scientists, salespeople, warehouse and shipping, order processing. In the first few moments you could see many in the groups wondering could this all be completed.

But this exercise was not just an entertaining teamwork challenge without real learning objectives because each team was to be observed by a team member who was to observe and record how the team went about the task and then to report their findings after the sessions to the whole conference at the end of the day. The observer presenters were  Laura and Mel, Rachel and Jacey and did a great job mixing both amusing ,serious,insightful and constructive observations.
Mikel studying the brief... intently

David measuring a key component  of his team's construction

Brainstorming ideas
Chris and Calin considering various design options

The observers Jacy, Rachel, Laura and Mel structured their observations and presentations around the following 9 key teamwork skills.
  1. Listening - to listen to other people's opinions. When people are allowed to freely express their ideas, these initial ideas will produce other ideas.
  2. Discussing to discuss your ideas with your teammates until you agree.
  3. Questioning - t to ask questions, interact, and discuss the objectives of the team.
  4. Persuading - individuals are encouraged to exchange, defend, and then to ultimately rethink their ideas.
  5. Respecting - to treat others with respect and to support their ideas
  6. Helping - help one's co-workers, which is the general theme of teamwork.
  7. Collaborating - to share with the team to create an environment of teamwork.
  8. Participating - all members of the team are encouraged to participate in the team.
  9. Communicating - For a team to work effectively it is essential for team members to acquire communication skills and to use effective communication between one another e.g. face to face in this exercise,  in work additionally phone, using email, social media communication, group meetings etc. This will enable team members of the group to work together and achieve the team's purpose and goals.
"Is that going to work?"
" Measure twice cut once!"

The NEB Teams went through the classic stages of Forming Storming Norming Performing and Reforming  successfully became increasingly effective as the task progressed.

 • Objectives were discussed and  goals agreed
• Their openness and healthy confrontation ( little instances were observed here happily)
• Support and trust was engendered
• Co-operation and conflict were experienced and resolved respectively
• Good decision making by both empowered team members and leaders
• Appropriate leadership from the team leaders ( coxswains) Laura , Helen and Dawn kept a light touch on the helm of their various boats 
•  The teams review of their process in a natural way and kept an eye on the clock
•  The inter-group relationships were established early on and prospered
• Individual development opportunities were sort and

utilised.  For example one 'Phusion' team member , Wayne,

had expertise to share, having formerly served in the Royal

 Electrical and Mechanical Engineers ! ( REME)
"Practise makes perfect"
"Fine tuning"
" Studied concentration"

" Power drill makes the job easier"

 The  NEB UK teams proudly posed  for a photograph with their model mangonels before the ultimate test - but would their models work??!!!!

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'Helen's Heroes' Darren, Jacy, Mikel ,Ed ,Helen ,Michelle, Ginny with
"The Crush'em" - patents pending!

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'Dawn's destroyers' Dawn, David Amanda Rachel Lynsey Chris ,Calin 

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'Team Phusion' Sharon Laura, Wayne ,Sarah , Adam, Edwin and Mel

The denouement the siege engines put to the test.

Our conference venue was Hitchin Priory owned by Chartridge. The site was formerly a Carmelite Monastery and some of the old walls from medieval times are to be found in the hotel. The Music room and Lady Julia's room provided plenty of room for the various tasks of the day plus beautiful setting of a Regency elegance as a contrast to modern office environments.
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Hitchin Priory  part of the Chartridge group  venue for NEB meeting December 2011

Related Links:

Click on  In Company Conference Facilitation    

Thursday, 22 December 2011

‘Just a minute’ elevator sales pitches "without repetition, hesitation or deviation".

44 years ago today - just after three months of the launch of BBC Radio 4, the first transmission of the comedy panel show Just a minute was aired.  Back then it was chaired by the current chairman, Nicholas Parsons.
Clock at Earls Court Road Underground Station, London

Will you be playing your own version of "Just a minute" at  any parties over the Christmas Holiday season?

Amongst many of the questions in our small talk with new people at such gatherings ,we will meet those who will predictably ask “What do you do?”

I know that at some parties that I will attend, I will ask someone what they do.

Their response (particularly if they are English), will often be to ramble on what they don’t do, what they are not , - Five minutes later, they will be still trying to describe their role, company or industry, and you and I will be trying to find a polite way  to extract ourselves out of the conversation

Unfortunately, many salespeople don't think enough about their company's story and how it comes across.

How many of us have witnessed ineffective pitches at networking events, conferences, seminars etc.?

So why not get a little practice in this holiday period honing your elevator pitch and communication skills this coming party season?

You might find this 4 part formula helpful DSDC ( Do, Solve,Different,Care)

   1. What does your company do?

   2. What problem do you solve?

   3. How is your product or service different?

   4. Why should the prospect care?

By keeping each answer brief, you will develop a succinct story that should take no more than 60 seconds. Then you can work on the other key craft and that is to listen to them and get them talking.
 Based on those four questions above, your company's story might go something like this:

"We I....... [what your business does]. Typically we... [what problem does you solve].

 And, we ..... [how you / your company are different].

 Imagine  you were to ................. then we could ... for you[why they should care WIIFM].

Oh and don't forget to carry a few business cards on you when you go to those parties. You never know.........

Remember : "There is no such thing as luck in selling . LUCK is where opportunity meets preparation!"

Thursday, 15 December 2011

12 steps to successful negotiating

( Buy sheep sell deer) Buy cheap - sell dear

1. Put yourself in the buyer’s place.

“If you can see through Joe Bloggs’ eyes

then you can sell what Joe Bloggs buys”

What sort of personality is your buyer? Click for post on client personality types
What sort of pressure are they under within their company?
What are their personal or political objectives?
What will they consider to be a satisfactory deal?
What strategy and tactics will they be likely to adopt?
What are all the possible negotiating variables.

2. Prepare and practice

Time invested in preparation will always pay off for you. Think of all the possible negotiating variables. Ensure you have to hand all the information you are certain to need and as much as possible of the information you are likely (or even unlikely) to need. Consider your own strategy and tactics, keeping in mind the power sources that both parties have. Role-play and rehearsal can be used to prepare you for the real thing.
3. Pinpoint your “key levels” on your “main variables” + walkaway option

Before you get involved in the actual negotiation you must determine what your “Walk Away” is on price and any other critical variables - the levels at which you would literally prefer not to have the business. You will then need to determine your “Target” - the level at which you will be satisfied to deal. Finally you need to identify your “Opening Offer” - how you will start negotiating in order to achieve your target.

4. Formulate your Opening Stance very carefully
You must start the right way in order to end with the right results.

You must take a strong opening offer but you must also be prepared to justify it in order to retain the credibility of your opening stance.

“Build in” some concessions so that you can afford to make them if necessary? What sort of “personal approach” will you adopt, bearing in mind the sort of personality you are dealing with? Use your strengths especially if you have performed well in the past to pave the way for your opening offer. The position you take with your opening offer can affect the other person’s opening position and target.

5. Aim high and show confidence in yourself and your offer

The higher your target the better, the deal you are likely to achieve. But you have to believe that your target is reasonable, and you have to communicate self-belief and confidence that you are offering good value. Know every aspect of your company and your products/services thoroughly; understand what they mean to your customer; (and their customers) remember that your buyer needs your offer (or something similar) or they would not be meeting with you.

6. Get your buyer to divulge their opening offer and their full “shopping list” as early as possible in the negotiation

The onus is normally on the seller to make their offer early on in the negotiation, but sometimes you can get the buyer to reveal their opening offer (i.e. what they are prepared to pay) before you reveal yours (e.g. by asking “What is your budget this year?”) Also you should identify all the points in the contract which the buyer wants to “discuss” before you start negotiating on any of them - otherwise you can be persuaded to make a lot of small concessions which together add up to more than you intended!

7. Trade concessions (preferably at a profit) but justify each one you give or ask for
Never give a concession - and when you trade one make it seem like it hurts! Try to trade small concessions for large ones - look for concessions which are low cost to you and high value to the other person. When you make concessions you must be able to justify them or you will lose credibility (e.g. it may seem like you were “just trying it on” to start with). When you ask for concessions make it easy for the buyer to agree without losing face (i.e. give them a justification with phrases like”.... and so that is why I must ask you to agree to this; I am sure you will feel that is fair and reasonable won’t you....?”)

8. Move steadily and progressively towards your objective

Make sure you are always moving in the right direction (or at least not moving backwards!) Unless there is great time pressure then it is more important to consolidate and guarantee progress than to move fast. Check agreement constantly in a complex negotiation. Clarify understanding. Make notes to avoid later queries. Keep your objective in mind the whole time.

9. Keep the whole package in mind the whole time - stay flexible and keep searching for variables

There are not many “constants” that cannot be made into variables. Learn how to test out how fixed an apparent constant really is. Try to think of more variables than the other person because this gives you the initiative.

10. Summarise clearly at the conclusion stage

At the end of the discussion you must double check the agreement and understanding. Always summarise verbally (and maybe even in a handwritten note) before you separate and offer to be the one who produces the formal written agreement. You and the other person may remember things differently (or pretend to!), and if you summarise and confirm it prevents them from “adjusting” things in their favour.

11. Leave the other person feeling that they have done the better deal despite the fact that you are a good negotiator

This way they will want to do business with you again, but they still regard you as a professional. If it seems too easy then you will make them greedy next time. If it seems like you have extracted too many concessions then there may never be a next time!

12. Follow up and confirm quickly and thoroughly

Any delay provides opportunity for something to go wrong or someone somewhere to change their mind. Even though you must summarise verbally when you have finished your discussion it is absolutely vital to confirm officially in writing as quickly as possible making sure that your confirmation is accurate (any query at all could lead to re-opening the negotiation!). Make sure that the agreement is implemented as soon as possible.

N.B. Never close the door completely - even if the negotiation appears to have failed
It is important to maintain some sort of thread that either party can use as a lifeline if circumstances change or opinions alter e.g.:
“I’m sorry I cannot improve on this offer but if circumstances do change I will, of course, let you know...”;

“I am sorry that we cannot do business now but if your requirements change please do not hesitate to come back to me ....”;

“I am sorry that this is not acceptable but if I do think of any way in which I can meet your terms I will contact you again....”.

Negotiation is all about a. retaining credibility and b. "saving face” and you should always ensure that both people have the opportunity to do both!

Related Links