Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Where it matters..

I have few counselors a.k.a mentors a.k.a lifesavers or whatever-you-wanna-call-it. We all need that. As genius or independent as we think we are, we still need support in many terms; life, monetary, emotion, business, you name it.

For example, my counselors are my own father, my uncle Kem and my cousins, Khaide and Khaidi. Simple. They are my core mentors. Core means, whenever I'm like on the edge of my life, I'll go and meet them and seek advice.

I've written couple of entries about my uncle Kem and his advises and thoughts, especially in economic and business. Today I wanna write what my cousin Khaidi says about how to handle your job well in terms of operations, delivering promises and managing expectations.

Here's what he has to say.


I don't want to get involved in operations but fundamentally we need to know what our job scope really entails before we unconsciously make our life more difficult.

What percent of the decision is made based upon the product/solution?

The correct answer is: 30 percent!

Actually, it’s more like 29 percent, according to a study of buying habits conducted by a systems integration company that does CRM and Sales 2.0. (BLUEWOLF). According to that study, B2B decision-makers, on average make buying decision based upon the following criteria:

  • 16 percent politics
  • 23 percent chemistry*
  • 32 percent trust/understanding*
  • 29 percent solution

What’s exciting about this fact is that two of these elements — chemistry and trust/understanding — are very much within your control.

You can’t always influence the customer’s internal politics (shouldn't even if you can) and, much of the time, you’re selling solutions already fixed by your agency.

Even so, you can always use your sales skills to build better rapport and deeper levels of trust and understanding. And that’s over 50 percent of the decision-making criteria.

By the way, the above figure explain why sales efforts that focus on “features and functions” don’t work — those elements are responsible for less than a third of the decision-making process. So no way should they dominate your process.

This is not about mere lip service. This is not blowing smoke up the clients ass or buddy-buddy or being chummy with suppliers. This is not a Malaysian culture/problem. This is human nature. It applies everywhere. Emotional intelligence is our business.

So ask yourself, is your job (YOU) really more about coming out with solutions or:

  1. Priming the relationship (client/agency) through chemistry
  2. Build trust through managing expectations and delivering promises
  3. Discussing situation, beliefs, approach and interpretation to arrive to an understanding

Of course you have to manage projects and solve problems but all that means nothing without first ensuring chemistry, trust and understanding. Nobody will be interested in your solution/best-idea if you're a hard-headed-jackass. On the other hand, if you're tight with the clients, you can get anything through. Even during the most doubtful times. Most of the time clients already know what they want to do but they just want agency to understand them first. This is when we shouldn't simply shove solutions down their throat or get involved in backroom politics. Just listen and understand, then organise and interpret their thoughts for them. Read up Aikido; redirect/use existing force/energy to achieve objective. Minimum input to achieve maximum output.

Really! they don't need smart ass solutions. They just need validation and someone to do the execution. If you can't deliver (most of the time things get complicated), communicate and manage the expectation. If you fail to communicate (miscommunication), you have failed at the core of your function (job).

80% of our issues comes from lack of communication; i.e. chemistry, trust and understanding. When you think they know, and you think they understand but the situation proves otherwise, you should learn how far you are from reality.

Who makes the decisions? Who are the stakeholders? Have you done 1, 2, and 3? Where's your leverage?

Are you spending too much time coming up with solutions? Stop thinking too long. Pick up the phone and call somebody now. Have you spent time with the clients, contractors and suppliers today? Do they really understand you? Do they trust you?

Go figure.


Well, learn something or surrender yourselves to to self-chosen ignorance.

Dem yuh!

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