Archive for February, 2014
Poor Judgment on your job seeking strategy?
When a 20 something tried to connect with a more experienced person on Linkedin, here is the answer he/she sent him:
We have never met. We have never worked together. You are quite young and apparently green on how business connections work with senior professionals. Apparently you have heard that I produce a Job Bank, and decided that it would be stunningly helpful for your career prospects if I shared my 960+ Linkedin connections with you- a total stranger who has nothing to offer me.
Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you and tacky. Wow, I cannot wait to let every 26 year old jobseeker mine my top tier marketing connections to help them land a job.
I love the sense of entitlement in your generation. And therefore I enjoy Denying your invite and giving you the dreaded “I Don’t Know $%#$% because it’s the truth.
Oh, and about your request to actually receive my Job Bank along with 7,300 other subscribers to my service? That’s denied too.
I suggest you join the other Job Bank in town…. Oh wait there isn’t one.
You’re welcome for your humility lesson for the year. Don’t ever reach out to senior practitioners again and assume their carefully curated list of connections is available to you just because you want to build your network.
Don’t ever write me again
I hope this is hoax but if it’s a real letter I hope this person was writing this to the next Mark Zuckerberg who will be able buy and sell him or her in the near future.
As a “senior practitioner” myself I am always open to helping any young person who has the initiative to reach out to me, that’s the right way to do things on our society.
But then again this person doesn’t sound like he/she was close to any mentor in his/her life or to anyone for that matter.
By the way what kind of job bank is this that it doesn’t want young people to participate? I know most industries are dying to have good young people join their ranks.
One more thing…the name of the product is Linkedin, like people linking up right? If you have a problem with that maybe you should get off of LINKEDIN!
I talk to Impedance Guru Mark Thompson about the importance of getting impedance right when it comes to PCBs
What about the Golden Rule?
No I don’t mean the one that say’s “those who have the gold make the rules,” frankly although that is true, it is also overdone to the point where often those with the gold treat the others like crap. It’s the other golden rule I want to talk about, the real one, the original, the one that says, “Treat all others like you would want to be treated.” Remember that one? What has happened to that anyway? Have we outgrown that one? Is that one after thousands of years of excellent usage gone the way of the fax and the horse drawn carriage? Has that one become obsolete?
A few weeks ago I did a column called The Customer 2.0 that got a lot of attention. In the column I talked about the new type of customers, those we call the “Millennials” and others a little older than that. I described how to work with these folks; how the cards were stacked in their favor; how they did not answer the phone, nor return phone calls; how they never answered e-mails or how they cancelled appointments on short notice without any apologies or regrets and how the only time they would give a sales person the time of day is when they needed something.
Almost all of the comments I received about that column were positive. One person talked about how I was “right on” in terms of my describing her customers. Many others gave me examples from their own sales efforts that paralleled what I had said.
I was pleased that people had read the column first of all. I am always pleased when I hear from the dozen or so of you who read my column. I was equally happy that people had told me that what I had written was accurate and that it was exactly what they were experiencing.
Then I started processing what people were telling me. I started thinking about the sheer rudeness of the buyers and customers who were getting away with treating people like this and It made me mad, it made me angry, it made me realize that all sense of politeness has disappeared when it comes to business and dealing with people who are trying to make a living selling you something.
Now I know that the economic hard times brought on by the recent recession have made it a buyer’s market. I also know to be fair that the buyers are overworked; that they have faced layoffs in their companies to the point where two of them are doing the work the once five of them did. I get all of that.
I also get that sales people are more aggressive than ever, that they have to work harder to make that sale; that they have to be more adamant and insistent in trying to set up appointment to make sales calls. And I get that this puts on strain on already over worked buyers, I get that.
But that is still not an excuse for the rudeness that is going on in business today. Phone calls left unanswered, e-mails the same, appointments cancelled and then the permeating arrogance of those who have the gold towards those who do not.
When all is said and done we are all hardworking people trying to do our best to make a living and support our families. We are all human beings and should treat each other as we would want to be treated but more than that as trusted business associates who can help one another in the long run.
To repeat another old adage, “What goes around comes around” and sooner than later we all need one another.
I’m reminded of a certain head of a purchasing department I knew many years ago. He had a team of about forty people working for him all of them dedicated to buying about a hundred million dollars of circuit boards for a large computer company.
This guy loved having the gold. He loved pushing us vendors around demanding that we jump through hoops for not only his company but for himself as well. He practically demanded the dinners and the rounds of golf that we as his vendors provided for him. And most of all he loved the “admiration” he thought we all had for him. He actually thought he was a great guy, with a lot of friends who loved him.
It was only when he lost this job did he come to realize that he had no friends. The dinners and the favors and the rounds of golf were all considered necessary evils that the board salespeople had to provide to keep on his good side and keep those orders coming in.
It was a sad day for this guy when he found himself out in the cold with no job, no power and no friends.
But this story has a good ending. This guy figured out that he had been a jerk; he was suitably humbled to the point that he found a job, he got some friends and he’s a very nice guy today. I know this because he’s the one who told me this story while he was apologizing to me for being such a jerk years before.
This guy learned his lesson the hard way. He learned that you have to treat everyone with as much respect in business as you do in your private life. That we should try to treat the people we work with as well as the people we worship with because in the end it’s all about the same thing, “treating those around us as we wish to be treated.” And that truly is only common sense
How to Compete with the Chinese…Don’t
Just do what they can’t do instead
While talking to a friend of mine the other day our talk turned to how American board shops can compete against the Chinese and other Asian board fabricators. After an extended exchange he turned to me and said. “It’s very simple Dan, the best way to compete against them, is to not compete against them.” After thinking about this for a few days I now realize that he was right, one hundred percent right. We let them play their game and we play ours.
Sure we are not that good anymore at what they do well, but on the same token they cannot do what we do either.
Look here is what they are good at: High volume low cost production. No matter how hard we try we will never have lower labor rates than they do. Well maybe never their economy is rising rather rapidly. But for the most part they have lower labor, they have more automation, they have more government support and yes they have also more support from our customers, some of our customers, you and I know who they are, the ones who learned technology from us and then sent it over to Asian to combine our technology with their lower labor and then eat our lunch for the sake of building the so called best products on earth with the cheapest circuit boards on earth.
That ship has sailed, we are never going to beat the Asians at this game, we never have and never will. The American companies who have survived and succeeded are the ones who did not bother to complete against the Asians in the first place, but rather looked for things that they could beat them at and then concentrated on those things.
What are those things? The things that we can do better than the Asians. Well let’s think about that for a minute. We are closer to our customers here in North America so shipping our product to them is much cheaper, as much as four times cheaper than shipping product from China to the U.S. Sure I know, I know all about those shipping containers and those slow boats from China and that mode of shipping does help with shipping costs, but it also eliminates the possibility of shipping small quantities fast. They have to have a whole lot of boards to fill those containers so there is no way that they are going to produce and ship five boards and have them to you in twenty four hours. No matter how much they say that can do it, and yes once in a while they can do it, but not as consistently as we can.
That’s right we can build and ship boards faster than anyone outside our country, so yes, that is an distinct advantage that we have over the Asians.
Technology is another one. As long as we can stay ahead of the technology curve we win. This is something that we have always done particularly well in this country and if we continue to focus on technology we will win the battle for that particular market.
So then building tough stuff fast gives us a strong advantage over our Asian neighbors.
Oh here are a couple of other things that Asian’s cannot do. They cannot build military boards, they cannot build mil spec boards or aerospace boards or anything that involves national security and no matter how many companies have tried to breach those compliances the door on doing that was shut nay slammed in the past year when the D.O.D. put our beloved printed circuit boards on the ITAR requirement list. So there. These products are to be built here in the U.S. and anything else is breaking the law. And as I always say do not hesitate to call the FBI whenever you learn of a competitor or even a customer who is trying to turn a blind eye to that fact.
And finally the granddaddy of all advantages we have over our competitors from the East is service. We can out service them any day of the week. Have you ever rejected boards you bought in China? That’s a lot of fun isn’t it? Did you ever try to find out what’s going on with those high tech boards you tried to have built in Taiwan? That’s equally as much fun isn’t it? NOT!
As long as we continue to service the hell out of our customers; as long as we produce what they need when they need it; as long as we keep ahead of the technology curve and as long as we build and deliver boards faster than anyone else in the world we will win. We will live another day we will thrive; and yes with all of the changes that are going on in the world right now; from innovative new product development, to on-shoring to re-enforced ITAR protection we’ll be doing just fine, just fine, it’s only common sense
When you care enough to give the very best
Walk with the customer. Care about him. Make sure that you know what she needs and give it to her. Make sure that he knows that you care about what will make his life easier and provide it.
Look the hard sell is dead, if it ever was alive in the first place. Now we have to work to gain the customer’s trust. We have to work at making the customer comfortable with us personally, not just our products, but the way we deliver our products, the way we conform our products to the customer’s specific needs.
You have to give the customer what he wants not what you want to give him. Let me ask you, does it make sense to sell pork chops in a synagogue? Does it make sense to sell guns in a mental institution? Does it make sense to sell airplane tickets to a person who is agoraphobic? No of course not, what nonsense to even think of these things. Then why let me ask you, would you want to sell high technology HDI Microvia boards to a garage door opener manufacturer? Or sell single sided boards to a super computer company? That doesn’t make a no sense either does it? But we still do it all the time. Why is that?
I think it’s because we want to see some activity, we are sometimes so desperate for business that we’ll try anything. We just want to do something and so we substitute activity for accomplishment. We feel mistakenly that if we do something, anything, then something will happen. But it won’t, in our hearts we know that it won’t that we are really just wasting time, time that could have been spent more productively selling something that will work, something that we can sell and that the right customers will want.
Ah, that’s the big secret isn’t it? Yes let’s figure out what we do best, what we can do better than anyone else; and then find the customers who want to buy that thing. It is far better to do your homework and target the right companies that could be customers than to just go out there and with your head down fire in any direction that might hit a target.
No, the first thing you have to do is figure out what the target is and then and only then can you hit it.
If you are not having any luck selling to the market you’re selling to then change markets, find the right market for you and sell to that one.
If you’re ads and letters and solicitations are not getting you anywhere, change them. Don’t blame the customers and say that they are stupid and just don’t get it. Change your message so that it will appeal to the right customers.
Look in many cases customers are not logical. In many instances they do no care that you have the best product, the best delivery or the best quality, or the best value. Often what they really care about is what people around them are thinking. In many cases they are surrounded by pressures that have nothing to do with your product and how you present it.
He could be absorbed with office politics. His boss could like one of your competitors and your guy is not willing to go up against him. There could be some internal issues that have nothing to do with you. It could be as simple as location where they simply do not want to buy anything from the east coast or the west coast or wherever you are located. It could be a hundred little things and your job as a sales person is to find out what the obstacles are and figure out if you can overcome them. And you know, sometimes you can’t and that’s all there is to it. But if you can then figure out what that customer needs to change his mind and provide it.
It always bothers me that we try so hard at times to complicate this process. It should not be difficult to figure out. The customer knows what he needs and knows what he wants from you. If you cannot provide her that, then any kinds of sales pitch you try to use will not work.
One of the things I recommend to my clients is that they train their sales people to learn how to listen. The old cliché that you learn more by listening than by talking is solidly true. No matter how great a product you think you have it is worthless to the customer if it does not solve his problem, meet his challenges or make him better by buying it.
Once again this all boils down to just one thing and that is caring about your customer. Caring so much that you put her needs ahead of your need to tell about and sell your product. That’s what’s important. When you walk in to your customer’s office be prepared, ask the right questions and then offer a suitable solution. If you do that, you will make the sale and you will be successful in the long run. The better you listen, the more you will understand what your customer needs and the better your chances are of giving it to him. It’s only common sense
Ten great Business Tips from Breaking Bad
Yes Breaking Bad is a hit show on AMC; it is also a fascinating show to watch. After all how often to you see a high school chemistry teacher with cancer trade in his second job at a car wash to become a crystal meth fabricator and dealer. Not only does our hero Walter White become a meth producer he becomes a darn good one. The king pin in fact. So how did he do it? How did he go from being a raw naïve rookie in the meth business afraid of danger to the point where he is the main man and now as he tells his wife come accomplice, he is the danger?
Here are ten tips that we can all learn from Mr. White.
- Find the right partner: When Walt realizes that young Jessie his former student is the local meth producer he approaches him about doing business together. Jessie knows the ropes of doing business and Walt knows how to produce the very best product on the market. He doesn’t have a PhD in chemistry for nothing. Operating out of an old RV he sets up a professional lab and “cooks” the best meth anyone has ever experienced.
- Fund your business properly: knowing it takes a lot of capital to do things right and wanting to get out of their rolling lab on wheels, Walt and Jessie go to work for Gus Fring the local fast food chicken restaurant owner and drug lord. Gus funds the operation and Walter buys all of the right equipment to build a world class laboratory where they proceed to mass produce the best meth the world has ever seen and start blowing away the competition
- Have the best product: Walt’s proprietary formula for producing his special blue meth is so superior to anything else on the market that it commands premium pricing. His product is so good that people will pay top dollar for it.
- Hire the right consultants: Much to his surprise the biggest problem Walt faces in his new endeavor is what to do with all of that cash? He finds out that it is just not that easy to wash (legitimize) that cash so he can use it. So he hooks up with shady Saul Goodman who handles that little chore for him. Along the way Walt finds other ways to use attorney Goodman’s special skills.
- Develop the best distribution network: As Walt has learned the hard way; you have to rely on your sales force, your distributors. It doesn’t matter how good your product is, if it doesn’t get to out to your customers in the most efficient way possible you are not going to succeed. You’re nowhere without customers.
- Find the best supply chain; In danger of running out of a key ingredient for producing their special blue meth, Walt and Jessie go to Laura a special agent gone bad who supplies them with a railroad car full of what they need. It pays to have the right connections.
- Watch those receivables: No matter what, you have to get paid for what you do. If you don’t watch those receivables, if you let them slide, if you let your customers get away with not paying you what they owe, then there’s no sense of being in business. Knowing this Walt hooks up with Mike who is an excellent and efficient accounts receivable manager.
- Demand loyalty: Or else, in Walt’s business you have to make sure you are all on the same page. You have to make sure that you are all working for the same common goal. Everyone on the team must understand and support the organization’s strategies, tactics and goals. If not well then it could cost you your life.
- Blow away the competition: And I guess you could say the opposition, any opposition. The less competition there is the more successful your business will. Walt understands this implicitly and by last season’s finale he is pretty much the only game in town. His competitors are gone, his opposition is gone and now he is the man… or as he says he is the danger.
- Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well: Whether you’re cooking meth in Albuquerque or fabricating boards in Fraser, Michigan the game is still the same. You have to be the best you can possibly be to succeed. You have to make sure that you have the right strategy and follow it. You have to make sure that you have the right distribution network and the right supply chain and you have to make sure that you are making a product so superior that it will blow away your competition and get you those high profit premium dollars.
It’s only common sense
Too many people selecting a brand is only that; it’s coming up with a clever logo and slogan and calling it a day. But that’s not what a brand is at all, that’s just well a symbol and a saying. A true brand defines exactly what your company is. What it stands for, what it represents. It is something that you live into so to speak. By this I mean that a true brand represents your company what it does and how it does it. In most cases it represents as well, how good it is.
So many people today are so focused on the book’s cover so to speak that they are not paying much attention to its contents. They think that just having the brand is enough; that just having the Face Book page is enough, that just tweeting is enough with no thought at all to what they are saying. Many times when you check their media out you will find them long on exposure in all the right places but short woefully short on content. And frankly I find this disturbing.
As a friend of mine said the other day, “the kids know how to deliver the message, they just have no real message to deliver and the old guys like us have all kinds a great messages but no idea how to deliver them.” It’s time we got together and figured out how to bridge the generation gap, get both age groups working together and do something that matters in a way that it matters…don’t you think?
Back to branding, your brand needs to have focus. It needs to represent fully just who your company is and exactly what it does.
Let’s think of same of the more famous brands for example; Think of what comes to mind when you see the famous Tiffany blue box; or the Apple logo; or the Mercedes Benz symbol. Don’t they all bring to mind Quality, luxury, top of their line the best in their class? Would you really buy a Mercedes if it was unmarked? Now think of other brands and what they represent to you. How about Southwest Airlines? What do you think about when you see their brand? What does it represent to you? I think of efficiency, I think customer focused, I think rebelliousness sort of the “anti-industry” airline, I think of cheap tickets and I also think of no assigned seats which I don’t really like but will out up with for the sake of the things I do like. Is that what you think of? Do you also take the good with a bit of the bad because the good is so good? Some people do and some don’t but at the end of the day most people do, at least enough people to make it a great company with a great brand.
The reason I bring up Southwest airlines is because the brand has some good and not so good attributes, but the point is that we as informed consumers know them and are willing to make our choice based on our understanding of what Southwest Airlines represents. Whatever our opinion we know that their brand is an honest one.
Now let’s think about the Apple brand. Right now the Apple brand is considered the most valuable brand in the world, maybe the history of the world. Oh I know all about Coke and Pepsi and yes they are valuable but let’s face it they are what we call in the biz “dowager brands” they have been around forever, and they don’t move us much anymore, they sure as hell don’t change the way we live anymore, not the way Apple does.
The Apple brand is so powerful that people line up to buy their overpriced new products whenever they are introduced. Their cult is so loyal that no matter what is said about the company they will still buy their products. Remember the first I-Phone? Everyone, everywhere knew that it had a terrible battery life but people didn’t care they still lined up to buy it. Remember the whole antenna fiasco? People didn’t care they still lined up to buy it; and now despite the whole Foxconn story and that fat guy sitting behind his table on a stage on Broadway bad mouthing the company, people are still lining up to buy their products. That is simply amazing; that is simply a tribute to a phenomenal corporate brand.
Now let’s turn to your company, what is your brand? What is it that defines your company, what makes your company stand out well above all of the others? To find your brand you have to think of the particular attributes that define your company, you have to ask questions like: Are you easy to work with? Are you reliable? Do your customers believe that you will always do they right thing? Are you always ready to make things right when something goes wrong? What about that, how do you recover when something goes wrong? Is your Quality the highest in the industry? Is your service legendary? What about your company culture, is yours a great place to work? Do you allow your people to be creative? Are you known as a leader in your industry? Think about these things. Put your mind to work, get it focused on exactly what it is your company stands for. Are you happy with the way your company is positioned at this time? Do you wish it were in a better position? Well make it happen, it is up to you right?
As Laurence Vincent states in his new book Brand Real: How smart companies live their brand promise and inspire fierce customer loyalty, “Brands should stand for something or they shouldn’t stand at all. Real brands make promises they intend to keep. This is as true for a brand that stands for a product as it is for a brand that stands for a person. Everything you may already understand about a brand-names, logos, advertising, package design, retail experiences, customer support etc-is really just an extension of that promise in action.”
So quickly now, what is your brand? What is it your company stands for? Before you go ahead and set up your new web site, your face book account, before you start that twittering you’d better figure that out. It’s only common se