Tag Archives for business
It seems that most of the mainstream press is befuddled about him and exactly what business Yahoo! is trying to be. Is it a media company? Is it a bulletin boards company? Advertising? Mobile? Marketing? No, not search.
It is a company that has a rapidly scalable identity and a huge community of users that it can rapid test ideas on, as it builds off what it used to be and turns into the next big thing.
This makes Yahoo! just like a start-up, and Thompson just like a budding entrepreneur, except he has skillz. Let me boldly proclaim that Thompson’s role as CEO at Yahoo! will move the company in the direction of social, community-centric e-commerce solutions. Watch out, Jack Ma, Yahoo! is coming for you!
Yahoo! is going to become the first huge scale media content company that is actually an e-commerce company. Think of it as a giant tupperware party where content and e-commerce are mashed together to form a new type of selling content, or a live advertising model where product, seller, consumer, and community are all mashed up into one.
Wal-Mart, but with a huge media engine.
Time Warner can be a pretty good company when it comes to customer service.
In other respects, they suffer in a way that many brands do, by not knowing how their consumers use their products or relate to their brand. When this happens, the sales and customer service (#custserv) training are not up to par, and the results can end up rubbing a customer the wrong way.
This happened to me recently, with a brand that I don’t hate or like, but that I have had a level of comfort with, because it supplies me with a service I need at a really nice price point. It gets the job done — wireless connectivity for me and my house guests and neighbors.
Normally, when I get a human on the line at Time Warner, their staff has been — in the three months I’ve used their Internet services — cordial, friendly, and laced with great personalities. In my initial phone call with them, their professionalism is actually what sealed the deal for me, so I hired their services as my Internet provider.
But yesterday during my customer service call, the customer service rep says, “Let me ask you a question, though.”
Alert: I know this is about to be a sales pitch. It smells funny.
“Okay, what’s the question?” I ask.
“I’m just curious why you didn’t get the full service from Time Warner.”
Okay, stop. Right away I know I want to disengage. When a customer service professional / sales professional approaches me with “a question,” I am suspicious. I don’t like that these questions are often disguising the fact that I am about to be up-sold on a product.
When it comes down to the wire, what I would want a sales professional to do for me is to think with me about my lifestyle. Can he help me find progress in my life? Can he help me find some other service he can offer, which might enhance my life?
He might ask, instead, “Why do I use the Internet? Why do I “hire” Time Warner?”
The problem with the straight-up, “let me ask you a question, though” sales approach is that it’s working by the numbers. It’s coming from a very broad place.
The guy has probably had this conversation with hundreds of people, so he thinks he can assume what I will say, what I might belive, and how I might be made more useful to his sales quota numbers.
The problem with that is that I am sure by asking questions based on assumptions, and by asking questions based on assumptions, he has a whole backlog of information that is inaccurate. Broad assumption-based questions create faulty information.
I can feel this right away.
The conversation touches on the following, not necessarily in chronological order.
He asks me, “What about basic wi-fi coverage, so you can get wi-fi wherever you go?”
“But, I can get wi-fi wherever I go regardless of whether I have your service or not,” I say.
“Yeah, but that wi-fi is limited to cafes,” he says.
“Not true,” I say. “In some cities I work in, I can get it in the parks and throughout all the downtown areas.”
“Okay, that’s fair enough,” he says.
He tries out hooking me to a landline: “But what about a phone line?”
“I don’t use a phone. I have to cell phones, and they satisfy every need I have,” I say.
“Oh, wow, really?” he asks.
Why is he feigning surprise? I am sure he’s the same way. When was the last time he really sat down on the couch and picked up a phone wired to the wall?
He goes further.
“So let me ask,” he proffers. “What about TV?”
“I don’t watch TV,” I say. “I watch only video clips and I read books.”
“Oh, you’re a reader,” he says, sounding a little like a jest.
This is where I really lost my patience for this kind of talk and this kind of conversation. Yes, I read. Sorry about that!
TV holds no interest for me. He wouldn’t know that, because he didn’t ask about how I feel about TV, or what happens when I watch TV. He assumes I am like everyone else, and that everyone else is actually like everyone else — they are not.
A sales person should work from me to the product, not from the product to me. I care about me. I don’t care about wanting the product.
Sales pitches go wrong because the discovery process of the sales call is happening through the lens of the product.
Let’s assume –I know it’s not safe to assume, as I have already said — that I don’t care about the brand or the product, because I probably don’t.
Where do we need to go from here? We need to find something out about me.
What is my lifestyle? What do I like, what do i do?
If he asked this, he would be creating and generating a database exclusive to Time Warner customers and he would have a better idea of what I want.
I am sure he’s not trained this way. He won’t be. Because Internet services and add-ons are a bulk business. they are like gym memberships. Always Be Closing.
A sales person can say whatever he wants when the authority above him empowers him to do so. If the demands of the authority are sales, numbers, dollars, then that will be the focus of the sales call.
If it’s not, and it is instead loyalty, feelings, customer desires, then the conversation is different and more focused on keeping that customer interested.
And everyone has a tell. In the end, he really ruins it for me and for him. He reveals his “tell.”
“Well,” he says. “I just want to wish you a good holiday and the best to your family. And you know, you might get a phone call later asking you about my service today and you can tell them I was great, because I did a great job.” Or, something very close to this. He’s telling me to tell Time Warner how awesome he is.
Excuse me? Really?
No, I’m going to blog about it and hope that someone at Time Warner reads this, because if you want to be a really great sales person, or a customer service person, you don’t make a direct pitch about yourself.
You don’t try to get at me by talking product, product, product.
Is there any value to joining LinkedIn? Charlie Spencer asks this in his comments at Inc. magazine, where Marla Tabaka has written a thoughtful post about how to maximize your use of LinkedIn to, in some cases find a job, but in most cases network with others.
Often asked as a question, the query about whether there is any value in a social platform is actually a statement of frustration from people who don’t seem to understand that a social platform like LinkedIn is not a vending machine.
Neither is a business in which employees put in 9 hours of work each day in return for a salary, health benefits, and — this is ironic — access to a vending machine.
When my father would take us to work on the weekends, he definitely had work to do. Yes, there was a vending machine quality to the mission. He had to sort “x” amount of work for ”
“x” amount of hours to get a “y” result, usually routing trucks to do “hot shot” deliveries of Pepsi to stores that had a sale on Pepsi and lost product faster than they could replenish on a regular route cycle. As a kid, I didn’t pay much attention to that aspect of his work, but I did pay attention to what went on while we were there.
Lots of socializing. My father was a manager. He had to manage other sales personnel, who were also there on the weekend. What I noticed at an early age is that the sales staff at the Pepsi plant were doing more than just fulfilling “x” amounts of work to get a “y” outcome. They were showing up for my dad. They knew he was in a position of influence and could help them with their careers.
These were sales people. They worked by the force of their rhetoric, their logic, and their ability to hustle and solve problems. It was clear that by putting time in for my father, they were also representing themselves as people who could be trusted, who supported his efforts and had enough ambition to see the job through.
Today, when many of us work remotely, and, if you are like me, you work for clients you see face-to-face intermittently, you need to show up for them. That’s why you would go to a platform like LinkedIn, for example.
You can communicate there. You can recommend clients to others there. You can get your work done, and you can get other people’s work done. That was the subject of my radio show talk last night with Soluto’s Tomer Dvir. We are in this game to win, but we want to win with others. We want and need to help others in the dynamic, and chaotically changing structure of capitalism these days.
So when Charlie Spencer writes something like this, let’s pause:
If I’m not in marketing or looking for a job, is there any value in LinkedIn? I’ve joined for the second time, but I now recall why I canceled my first account. I don’t know how to get any value from it.
I’m an IT tech for a medium-sized business. I don’t interact with our external customers or vendors. While I am aware of the current economic issues, we’ve turned the corner and I expect to remain employed here until I retire in a decade or so.
I don’t participate in other social networks, so that may be hindering me. I don’t understand the Barbara’s use of the word ‘conversations’ or how to conduct one. (I have the same problem with my attempts to use Twitter.) Most of my contacts are co-workers. I don’t have a ‘real world’ network.
We are nothing without the network. Networks will be our most significant source for rises in income, new job offers, and the rise of what I will call the Freelance Globalist Population, which will work, not for a corporate entity, but in service to many entities, people and missions.
We need to start learning how to use the network, and to utilize the network to feed ourselves.
There is value to a platform like LinkedIn. Without platforms like this in the real world, the dry and mundane aspect of work kills us. It kills our chances for promotion, and it kills our spirits. Ironically, as I was writing this blog post, Charlie Spencer responded with a comment below his first one, noting that he needed to use platforms to improve his social skills and enhance his real world network.
I hope that works for him. We are certainly of the mind here at Re-Wired that we are nothing without our networks. After all, as we have written before, the new MBA is to manage your business and your team as if you are a social worker.
Nothing in a social web environment exists for the sake of its users alone. Social platforms are not vending machines. They are not vending machines, because you can not, in a digital age, work with the assumption that “x” + “y” = “z”, where “z” is quality of life, and “x” is an input like hours, and “y” is an input like “quality of work.”
We don’t live that way anymore. You cannot put a coin in a slot and get exactly what you want.
You now have to make what you want, and making what you want, creating your vision, starts with starting relationships, building relationships, and becoming partners with people — even complete strangers.
Food for thought: read our latest post on Airbnb and changing your life by changing your networks.
It’s not often that I have a face-to-face encounter with a disruptive technology that actually disrupts my life in a good way and pushes me to the envelope of innovation and progress. But I have had that experience with Airbnb.
It’s changed my life. I am not the only one.
Right now, in New York City, two young women, age 24 and 27, are staying at my apartment, renting it for the month, while they find an apartment somewhere in Manhattan. I am sitting at a worktable in a huge, cavernous warehouse flat in Brooklyn, on a street I never even knew existed in this borough, while I wait the next 16 hours for my flight to Hong Kong.
[edited] I am now in Hong Kong, about to move from my friend’s flat to the apartment down the street, which I rented online one month ago.
In the last part of 2011 and in 2012 I plan on visiting: Senegal, Morocco, Barcelona, Hong Kong, China, Sweden, Chile, Argentina, and Iceland.
This year alone I have been to Costa Rica, Fiji, New Zealand, Mexico, and Seattle.
And I do not have a full time job at a corporate headquarters.
I am an intelligence agent for the social web. Or, I am a professional networker. Social networks online mean nothing unless you actually meet the people who follow or friend you. That’s what makes them social.
So, to get the job of meaning creation done, I travel around the world building up the social media cache that we use at Re-Wired Group by meeting people face to face and interviewing them. We tell their stories, and find ways to inform the public about how entrepreneurs are finding ways into the jobs to be done framework.
Listen to our two most recent radio shows: An interview with Raphael Ouzan about the social layer of billing statements; and a twenty minute interview with Ringbow co-founder Saar Shai and his girlfirend, the lovely Alicia Zur Szpiro, as they talk about the disruption of global corporate infrastructure brought on by the massive data coming-of-age.
Airbnb has made all of this travel and work possible, simply because it has introduced me to people I never would have met at a bar, at a church or standing in line for a concert.
I am ready to proclaim that 2012 will be the Tipping Point year in a technological revolution that will unsettle lives and create new lifestyles and career choices for millions of people. It’s not the economy, stupid. It’s the apps.
Airbnb allows me to collect rent on my place while other people use it to discover the city. I can then use that money towards travel, where I visit other countries and develop new businesses, create new networks of social media influence, and create meaningful value in work for my clients, globally. I’m like a one-man global media company.
This is an example of a job that a company like Airbnb allows one to accomplish to experience progress. It’s another example of what I have written about in the past: that business is no longer about the mechanics of business, it’s about being social and helping people find meaningful progress in their emotional lives.
As Chris Spiek says about the advances brought on by Airbnb:
This is a great example of an innovation unlocking what is possible in terms of making progress. Most people that have had the same aspirations (job) as you, wouldn’t think of accomplishing it by renting out their place.
They would not, I think, because their emotional energy is tied up in ego management. Their ego is so connected to the stability of a choice that was really not theirs to make. To consider doing what I have planned and executed on would require al etting go of the meaning that was really not theirs to begin with.
With Airbnb, I — and millions of others — have fond meaning in purchasing what on the surface is just a service. But it gets so supercharged because by hiring this company we are achieving the creation of meaning that we created, that we can own.
And in my experience, that makes me a loyal customer and consumer of Airbnb. It’s not that I am satisfied with the service. I am satisfied with myself.
Companies need to get this. companies that don’t get this will end up like Blockbuster video, or GM, or any of the thousands of companies every year that fail.
It didn’t use to be this way, but it is this way now, because of this magical data-linking, people channel called the Internet.
If you can help someone make a meaningful choice in their life, then they will do more than buy your product. They will be loyal, to the bone. And tell their friends about it.
Shell Martinez started using Airbnb last year, and she and her roomate are now thinking of buying their own place to create a kind of international hostel for the hundreds of people who have stayed with her and would stay with her again.
I wrote about her a little bit on my travel blog, For All the Dogs in Mexico.
In short, Shell and Rita have both decided that there are things they can do now that they had only thought about before.
They can start a business, help Airbnb, travel around the world, host parties, and even put together new friendships and relationships based on common interests.
Shell even built a sixteen foot table out of wood and industrial steel pipes. Airbnb’s customer service reps come here on Fridays and set up shop.
It’s an example of a home turning into a business, and within that business the creation of a social layer around getting work done. This never could have happened twenty, or even five years ago.
Thanks to Pierre DeBois, who recently wrote a great review of Shortcut: Getting Through to People Who Slow You Down.
Despite the short length, I think Tolle picked a good subject for the ebook format. The personae are broad enough to make you think without being too stereotypical or casting a blind eye to your own failings. And the book’s list-like organization will help you decide whether the suggestions fit your situation.
You’ll have to weigh how the material in Shortcut fits for other situations, like dealing with people with disabilities or structuring teams. If you do not feel you “read” people well, you may also want to augment Tolle’s exercises with books about body language. Overall, however, Tolle offers advice that does not try to oversell or inflate a perception.