Tag Archive: strategy

Sequoia and the Power of Silence

August 8th, 2019

My best friend from high school and college was in town recently and we went to Sequoia National Park. First, I must say, what a ride to get to Sequoia on winding, mountainous roads! Once we arrived, we went to the ‘Trail of 100 Giants’, and it was impressive! These Sequoias were over 1500 years old, and gigantic. The largest tree has a diameter of 20 feet and is over 220 feet high.

Yet what stood out was the power of silence. You could hear the rustle of the wind in the trees. It sounded similar to sitting by the ocean. It certainly was a calming and humbling experience as the silence and the sounds of nature overpowered everything else.

Have you ever thought about the power of silence? Do you find it to be more effective than 1000 words? In a business setting, silence can speak volumes…

One tip to implement this week:
We all hear the advice to stop and listen.  Yet, how often are we thinking about silence? The most powerful speakers know the power of silence. The dramatic pause will emphasize just the right words. Certainly the best actors use this technique expertly, and we are putty in their hands!

Or have you thought about how not answering immediately answers the question? For example, at one client, I admit that after a particularly grumpy executive who didn’t want to support our project told me that he didn’t think consultants were valuable and didn’t want to talk to me to answer my questions, I was silent because I was thinking about how to respond that would be productive. Sometimes, it is better to be lucky than brilliant! In this case, since I didn’t respond quickly, he ended up filling the proverbial silence (since we weren’t communicating in person) and came back to me and agreed to do exactly what he just said he wouldn’t do. A light bulb went off that there is power in silence!

Silence is extremely valuable in negotiations. Have you noticed that whoever is silent gains the upper hand? That’s because we are typically uncomfortable with silence and rush to fill the gap. Next thing we know, we’ve given away more power and information than we intended, and we are behind in the negotiation. Yet I have to say, silence used as a manipulative strategy will not achieve your intended result. People will pick up on whether you are genuine or not.

Consider silence instead of a long response the next time you are going to open your mouth in a high stakes communication. Let me know how it turns out.



Why Southwest Customers Wouldn’t Buy a Bentley

July 24th, 2019

After giving 10 speeches on pricing and profits to groups of CEOs, it is certainly top of mind. Yet, it should always be top of mind for executive teams. One unanimous finding from the informal research of executives is that pricing is a strategic topic.  So, we must find time! When is the last time you focused on pricing?

Whether you consider pricing a strategic topic or not, it will directly impact your business. Let’s start with three typical options from a branding point-of-view.

  1. Low price leader – Southwest and Walmart are great examples of this. No one flies Southwest to have a first class experience. Instead, they are accessible to the general public and fun to fly. Their prices have to match their brand, and low prices do NOT equate to lower profits. Southwest has been consistently profitable when the higher priced airlines weren’t!
  2. Luxury brands – Similar to the low price leader, a Bentley or Gucci denotes the luxury image. If you found a low price on a Bentley, you would definitely think it was a lemon. In the B2B world, the same holds true. We work with a high quality lawn and garden equipment and tools supplier.  Their prices have to remain higher than the low cost brands to maintain their image and customer base. Of course, they need to provide more education and value for their customers as it is what they expect.
  3. Customer focused – In this case, the brand is all about the customer.  These companies are known for going the extra mile and providing superior value for their target customers. If it is all about value in the eyes of your customer, don’t you think your price better align to this value? Of course! If not, it is the epitome of the opposite of the brand.

Have you thought about your strategy and whether it relates to your pricing? It is easy to get caught up in competitive pricing situations and start to lower your price.  However, it might be the time to take a step back and see whether what you are doing matches your branding and strategy.

For example, one CEO provided an example of when she was a VP of Sales at a significant company. They had a niche product with unique value and higher prices. The sales teams were starting to see competition and thought they had to reduce pricing slightly to maintain their position.  The CEO said ‘no’. They were the leader and had value their competitors didn’t. It was a really hard process for the sales team to go back and talk value instead of giving in on price but they managed it. Fast forward to the next year. They were successful in maintaining their prices and didn’t lose business. Instead of falling into price war thinking, they talked about value.

What Do We Need to Think About Related to Strategic Pricing?

From an 80/20 perspective:

  • Who is your target customer? Think about your answer. Hopefully, it isn’t anyone willing to pay for your product or service! Yet that is an easy trap to fall into. Instead, take a step back and think about your target customer. What is their profile? How many current customers are target customers?
  • What do your target customers value? Although we tend to spend 80% of our time on 20% of our customers, the key question is whether these are the target customers. Do we know what our target customers value? Don’t think about your customer base and your daily interactions to answer this question. Instead, think only about your target customers. If you don’t know, find out! Being clear on this alone will yield dramatic results.
  • Is your pricing aligned with your target customers and their expectations of value? This is a tricky one. In our experience, 80%+ of our clients have room for improvement when we get to this point. It also changes over time.  If you last put thought into this even a year or two ago, you are acting on old information!

There is vast opportunity to keep pricing top of mind as it relates to your strategy. Why do this? It is a top strategy to ensure customer value (to grow your business) and increase bottom line profits simultaneously. If you are interested in a pricing & profits assessment, contact us.

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:
Pricing & Profits: It’s Not All About Revenue
Gaining New Ideas to Increase Business Value



The Beauty of the World & Why It Relates to Work

June 5th, 2019

This is the Piazza IX Aprile in Taormina, Sicily, which is a square known for the breathtaking view of the azure Ionian Sea and of the Mount Etna. I adored this night view from a nearby rooftop (of course while sipping limoncello, an Italian lemon liquor known in Southern Italy).

I came to Sicily to meet my strategy group.  We had some excellent sessions.  However, that isn’t the tie that I refer to in the title of this blog. Seeing the world absolutely relates to business. Of course, this would be done ideally in person but you can also absorb quite a bit watching TV or by reading magazines. Understanding different cultures, business customs and what’s relevant to a country or area will come in handy. We live in an interconnected world with customers, suppliers and other trusted partners throughout the world. I cannot think of a client that doesn’t have a material that originates in another country somewhere down-the-supply chain or one that sells to other countries at least somewhere up-the-supply chain. Can you?

Understanding what is important to your customers, suppliers, employees (as they also come from around the world or have related interests) or colleagues is quite relevant to bottom line business results.

One tip to implement this week:
Why not ask your top customer, supplier, employee or colleague about what is important? You could ask about materials relevant to your supply base. Undoubtedly, you’ll find out about something relevant or interesting to build a stronger relationship at a minimum. You could ask your customers about where they sell your product or how it is perceived in another country, etc.? Of course, your question will relate to what type of product or service you provide, so you should make it relevant to your business.

And, lastly, why not talk bring the topic up with your employees and colleagues. You might find that they have customs that are important to them or something quite relevant to doing business in that country or area. Just by posting pictures on Facebook, I found quite a few contacts who love Taormina. Who knows what will happen when I ask them about it!



2019 Predictions from Manufacturing & Logistics Executives

April 22nd, 2019

Economic volatility and uncertainty are the new normal. Instead of lamenting, manufacturers have a unique opportunity. There has never been a better time to stand out from the crowd with a superior customer experience amidst the chaos. 

Not only has the Amazon Effect driven customers to expect customized product and service offerings with rapid response – creating a greater demand for local manufacturing – it has also made innovation a cultural norm. There is a trend towards near-sourcing, vertical integration and agile strategies to proactively address these elevated expectations as well as to meet customers’ insatiable need for last minute changes.

With the rise of e-commerce, increasing transportation costs and global risks, sourcing experts are re-evaluating their global supply chains. Logistics is gaining in relevancy as transportation costs increase, sustainability efforts expand and managing inventory becomes a hot topic as accelerating cash flow becomes more relevant.

Drones, robotics, IOT, artificial Intelligence, big data predictive analytics and additive manufacturing are transforming entire industries while providing the tools to create a customer-centric, resilient supply chain. However, technology alone will achieve nothing. With a differentiated strategy and the right talent, the opportunities are endless. 

We asked business owners and executives for their predictions for 2019. From aerospace and defense to food and beverage to building products, the perspectives may be different, but the outcome is the same: Opportunity Abounds. 

Find out how to navigate disruption and achieve peak performance. Download our free report here.

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:

What’s Ahead for Business?

What’s Next in Supply Chain?

The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain



Global Consultants & The Value of Diversity

December 23rd, 2018

 

When I was in Australia recently week for a meeting with my global consulting strategy group, it hit home that there is power in diversity.  We represent 4 countries (Australia, Japan, U.S. and Canada), a diverse group of company types (from tiny to Fortune 100 businesses ranging from manufacturing to healthcare to nonprofit/government), a diverse group of specialties (strategy, innovation, organizational change, financial performance etc.) and more.  Diverse viewpoints definitely add value!

I joined the group around 3 years ago. At the time, I was the only woman (although another joined shortly after), and our mentor said he thought I’d add a unique value for that reason in addition to others.  I didn’t see his point until I was the only woman for a brief period of time, and it turned out he was right! I also have received significant value from the group members who have the least in common with me – a fresh perspective can go a long way!  Along the way, I’ve noticed that some of the best feedback comes from unlikely sources. Have you sought out diversity, even when it isn’t comfortable?

One tip to implement this week:
Let’s start by thinking about the groups and people we interact with on a monthly basis.  Are we hanging out with people who are just like us? For example, there is a member of my group who does practically the same thing as I do, just in Australia.  He is easy to talk to (of course), and he adds a unique value because he understands my questions/ concerns but if the group was full of these people, I imagine I would have received only 20% of the value to date.  

It is easy for us to become comfortable with people like us and not seek out diverse, sometimes scary opinions from others.  For example, I remember when one group member pushed back on my comments, and I truly didn’t agree at the time but when I listened to the session again in the car a few months later, I realized he was right.  I just wasn’t understanding and/or ready to think about it at the time. How many of these have you ignored, thinking you were right?

Although I see great value in the global nature of my group, it isn’t because I focus on having a global practice (although part of my practice focuses on international global corporations).  Instead, it simply brings a diverse viewpoint – even if I worked 100% in my hometown and never strayed (as one of our members does in a small Australian town), I’d get huge value from thinking differently.  He has no desire to move beyond his hometown yet he said our group is one of his most important priorities.

Don’t think about diversity in the light they talk about on the news. How many Fox News and CNN people listen to both programs?  Actually, I’ve heard more Australians who tell me they listen to both to understand than I’ve heard Americans. Instead, why not embrace that next person you think “on, no!  I don’t want him/her in my group” and see what happens and whether you gain a diverse perspective. I’ll bet 80% of the time, you’ll feel better off in the long run. And, remember, one bad apple (the 20%) doesn’t make a trend.