Posts Tagged ‘business’

Personal Values Trump B2B Brands

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

In Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational, he describes his research that led to this conclusion: despite their protestations to the contrary, human beings make decisions based on emtion, then justify those decisions by developing a rationale after the fact. This process held true in a wide range of case studies that Ariely conducted involving insignificant decisions, such as choosing a beer or a dinner entree when out with friends, to more significant choices, such as buying a new car or selecting from an offering of business tools.

His findings are confirmed in a study conducted by the Corporate Executive Board in partnership with Google. Based on a survey of more than 3,000 B2B buyers, as well as 70 marketers and 15 academics, thought leaders and consultants in different industries, the research revealed that the power of brands’ “unique selling propositions” has greatly dimished. Instead, the ability to connect with customers through personal values makes all the difference in a company’s ability to grow and prosper.

In the summary statement reporting the results of the survey, the CEB and Google point out that 1) only 14% of B2B buyers see a valuable difference between brands’ business value”, and 2) personal value will provide 2x as much impact as business value will on a B2B purchase. In other words, connecting on a personal level enables a company to cut through the increasingly cluttered marketplace. To learn more of the data and the compelling reasons to emphasize emotion rather than features and benefits in your marketing, download the complete survey report, “From Promotion to Emotion.”

The bottom line is, as more and more businesses realize the necessity to connect emotionally with their customers, the use of values-based stories in marketing and sales will grow even more dramatically than it has in the past 10 years. As I’ve been teaching Corporate Storytelling clients for the past 21 years, stories are far more powerful than most people–and especially business leaders–realize. Among the many reasons are that they help us make sense of the world, they illuminate values, and they help people remember essential information, which sometimes means the difference between destruction and survival. Stories have always fulfilled a multitude of purposes. They do so by touching people’s hearts.

What People Do During Conference Calls

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

The growing number of articles on the fast-disappearing art of listening has tapped into one of my pet peeves. I’m pretty certain most, if not all, of you have noticed that people increasingly are attempting to multi-task instead of focusing on what they’re purportedly doing. This includes so-called “communication” activities!

It isn’t just my imagination. According to a report in “Harvard Business Review” based on research by Intercall, 65% of the people on a conference call are doing other work; 63% are writing emails, and 55% are eating. A high percentage of others are going to the rest room, texting, checking social media and even doing their shopping (no kidding).

One of the most obvious signs that someone is hurriedly trying to “check things off the to-do list” is when the person answers an email containing several questions or concerns, but responds to only the first one. It’s clear that the person read only the first line, or the first paragraph, of the original email and feels a sense of having “handled” it by responding at all.

Another indicator of preoccupation is a conference call during which only one or two people of a number on the call say anything. Sometimes this may be because a high-level executive in an organization is on the call and others are too timid to express their opinions or observations. But in other cases, such as the strangest conference call I’ve ever experienced, several of the people on the line were joint decision-makers–and yet, only one of the five spoke at all during a 20-30 minute call. The rest of the conversation was between the primary client contact and me. It was very odd that the partners, for whom the call was arranged, said nothing. My primary contact explained later that “they’re busy executives who probably were doing other things” during the call. That begs the question, “What was the purpose, then?”

A sense of humor helps me to cope with puzzling situations such as that. So I was delighted to discover this well-written and artfully executed video. It’s an entertaining demonstration of what happens all too often when the leader of a project meeting or conference call attempts to get down to business. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did–but of course, not during a conference call!

6-year-olds Offer Lesson on Managing Change with Story

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Children can teach adults a lot of lessons about life–if the adults pay attention! One of my favorite lessons on managing change was demonstrated by 6-year-old twins whose father attended one of my Corporate Storytelling workshops for sales managers a few years ago. It’s a story I love to tell because it has all the basic elements of a memorable tale: it’s concise, it’s clear, it begins with a challenge to be overcome, describes how the hero overcomes the challenge, and concludes with a memorable lesson for leaders in any organization–business, nonprofit or family.

Paul Smith, a former Procter & Gamble executive, loves the story, too. He included it in his book, Lead with a Story, and asked me to share it when he interviewed me for a podcast that was broadcast yesterday. It’s a great example of how a meaningful business message can be conveyed in a charming and engaging story that everyone can relate to. We’ve all been children, after all, and we’ve all been faced with change. And sometimes, like one of the twins featured, we haven’t been sure how to handle a change that at first seemed overwhelming. Listen to the podcast here and let us know how you will apply this savvy lesson on change management from two 6-year-olds!

WAMU Story Is Retrospective on Stated Values

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

As an information junkie and also a neatnik, I’m continuously waging a battle with the rogue waves of paper that inundate my office. I’m often rewarded, though, with surprising–and sometimes sobering–discoveries.

While recently cleaning out my files, I ran across a set of my notes from  a 2003 business event in Seattle where WAMU CEO Kerry Killinger was the featured speaker. In an interesting convergence of events, an article in the Seattle Times a few days later reported the financial settlement related to the demise of WAMU was, at last, final. A highly regarded institution for more than 100 years that represented Northwest reserve, stability and integrity and made us proud was no more, and it’s officially in the history books as the largest bank failure in the U.S.

My notes from just nine years ago reminded of the values Killinger was espousing even as he was leading the iconic institution to destruction. As he told us at the business event, the core values of WAMU were 1) honesty and integrity at all levels, 2) respect for employees and customers, 3) teamwork, 4) innovation, and 5) excellence. As both a customer and a stockholder, I wish that had been as true during the housing bubble as it had been for decades before. But instead of excellent performance based on integrity, honesty and respect for others, WAMU set out to write as many mortgages as possible, regardless of the viability of the deal.

It’s a sad reminder that adopting and espousing impressive core values comprises only the first step of good management. Just as importantly, the leaders of an organization need to demonstrate their commitment to their value through their actions.