As we come to the end of 2014 we took a look back at what you’ve been searching for on Prospero’s World this year.
You’ve been looking at connecting with people, and notable amongst those searches has been How to engage with people who have different learning styles.
On silly street, Experiencing the power of a BookBook was this year’s viral favourite.
Strategic Customer partnerships depend on a strong well-bonded fabric of relationships established over time. On such a solid platform the necessary negotiations and re-negotiations that occur as conditions change over time, can be viewed as positive and progressive.
This contrasts to the traditional sales approach, usually centred around negotiation as a single vital event in the sales process.
The most effective Key Account negotiations result from:
- mutual respect
- creating synergies for both sides
- the wish to progress the relationship
- rational people working together for mutual satisfaction
The least effective Key Account negotiations arise when:
- there is a singular wish to win at the expense of the other party
- limited planning and creative thinking time has been invested beforehand
- the relationship is essentially perceived as “transactional”
- power plays are substituted for “building blocks”
Negotiation in Key Account situations is not an event; more a process of influencing attitudes and behaviours, the process of building a realistic ongoing commercial relationship.
The Five Key “Framework” Elements:
- Possibility of mutual gain: If this is accepted from both parties, it can become possible to achieve a win-win outcome. If this is not accepted, negotiation is likely to be ineffective.
- Precedents: If these have been positive then mutual respect will exist. If either side has “lost” on previous occasions, then positive negotiation outcomes are less likely.
- Personalities: The nature of the personalities involved will dictate how much synergy is possible. Where there is a chance of personality clashes, others should be involved in the process. This is why team negotiation should always be considered as an option.
- Perceptions : The process of negotiation is always based on relative perceptions of strength and weakness from both sides. Negotiators need to avoid assumptions of their perceived strengths or weaknesses, and check out the true facts, preferably beforehand.
- Power : Can be positively viewed as the negotiating energy that adds strength from both sides. The power to negotiate to the full has to be present (invested) in all negotiators !
- Environment : Aspects of timing, where the negotiations take place and how positive the atmosphere of trust is, make a vital contribution to effective Key Account negotiations.
In order to get involved in all aspects of the buying decision, it is important to understand how the customers business works so that the Account Developer can gain attention by demonstrating an important profit related solution.
Understanding the people in the customer organisation includes defining their characteristics, role perceptions and personal values. By focusing on these issues the customer ‘comfort factor’ is increased and the relationship is strengthened.
Information flows continually between organisations and the Account Developer targets communication at different levels of the account. Data includes reviews of past performance, disclosure of new initiatives and planning future opportunities.
Maintaining A Presence
Working in a high-value account environment does not encourage impromptu meetings or casual visits, activity is scheduled in a purposeful way so that all interactions are seen as building and maintaining a win/win partnership.
Measuring performance against personal business objectives. The business plan will contain specific account development objectives linked to performance measures against which activity can be evaluated. Activity conforms to a pre-determined development strategy.
If you’re about to take a nice long break from work then do feel free to relax and enjoy it. We often find it’s a good time to catch up on some of the reading we just haven’t got around to since the summer. There’s a pile of MAN Booker nominees to get through, as well as some business, economics, innovation and leadership books. Here’s a few from that realm that we think you might enjoy.
The Shifts and the Shocks by Martin Wolf
Regular readers of the Financial Times will recognise Martin Wolf’s clear and fact based style in reporting the financial crash that started in 2007.
This book isn’t a re-rash of what happened when and to whom, you can find that in plenty of other publications, Wolf instead focuses on what we can learn from the crisis, or crises if you believe there’s more than one. It’s a fascinating read, but you may see it as a Christmas horror story as there are so many lessons that don’t seem to have been learned by anyone – maybe even not by you.
This is not new news. Business Adventures was first published as a book in 1969, but even then, it wasn’t new. IIt was a collection of articles written by Brooks for the New Yorker. It’s been re-published in time for Christmas 2014 because Bill Gates listed it as his favourite business book.
This is no dull account of business structures and accounting practices, it’s full of stories of real businesses and how they found their way to success. Reading it 45 years on from first publication is a delight – you can see the changes coming, but the businesses in the book can’t – you may want to shout “invest in communications technology” but at the time, new ways of printing on paper may have looked like the safer bet.
Get reading, and thinking. What will people think of your business decisions in 45 years?
It’s not always in the best interests of Economists to demystify their art. Some even claim it’s a science. Ha-Joon Chang takes a different approach.
Whilst he teaches Economics to bright students at Cambridge University here he explains all the key economic theories and principles in a relaxed and approachable style without every dumbing down.
If you’re enthused by the topic and want more he includes helpful reading guides at the end of each chapter so you can give yourself a Cambridge education at home.
With Christmas fast approaching the songs on the radio and in the shops are reminding us that we should be of good cheer. Retailers assure us that all we need is to buy more things and we’ll be happy, whilst other people may try to explain that all you need to do is stop buying things and you’ll be happy.
So can shopping buy happiness? Are rich people happier than poor ones? What does being rich mean? What does being happy mea?
The people at Happy Planet Index have been crunching the numbers, and they think they have it cracked. They’ve worked out the happiest countries in the world, they’ve worked out the ones with the best quality of life, the lowest carbon footprint (a good indicator of low consumerism) and the best health outcomes. Guess who’s happy?
Just click on the image to get to the data.
At this time of year people can get a little crazy. Planning for Christmas can be stressful, and shopping for presents isn’t always the joyful experience depicted in 1950’s American Christmas songs. Working in retail at this time of year can be tough. People can lose their sense of humour and shoppers can be downright rude and aggressive.
The workers who serve those shoppers need a sense of humour and a pretty thick skin, excellent communication skills and the sort of dispute resolution techniques that could usefully be deployed at the UN, all to keep the element of customer delight in Christmas shopping.
If you’re out Christmas shopping this weekend, spare a thought for the people working in retail, it’s rough out there.
To get you in the mood for a Christmas shopping frenzy, eBay have pulled together a neat little list of the toys that were top of the Christmas lists of children over the last century. It’s rather US-centric (there’s no Raleigh Chopper in there, and not even a hint of a Womble), and very brand driven (no generic Cowboy or Doctor outfits) but depending on your age and how indulgent your parents were you’ll likely see a gift or two that you pined for or received way back when…
What toys would you have in there as icons of your youth? What do you anticipate the most-wanted toys of the next century will be?
Types Of Negativity
What To Do About Them
Misunderstanding of details of plan, belief that change is unnecessary, disbelief in planned change’s effectiveness, expectation of negative consequences
Fear of job loss, anxiety about the future, resentment at implied criticism of performance, fear of interference from above
Active and/or passive resistance to change in general, lack of involvement, apathy towards initiatives, shock, mistrust of motives behind change
We hope you’ve enjoyed our little series on Change Management. What other topics would you like a series on?
To plan and manage change effectively, you need to make a realistic estimate of its complexity and whom it will affect directly and indirectly.
The following pointers will help you think through the change management process.
Focus: Have a clear goal so that you, and everybody else, know the destination. Have a clear plan that details where you need to be along the road, by when, and what actions you need to take. You must be very clear on what the change is trying to achieve, what the priority areas are, how progress is being measured and the final end results desired.
Involve People: Those affected by the change will vary in their attitudes and needs. Effective change managers are flexible enough to match this variety. Whenever possible involve people fully in developing long term objectives and planning for change, as well as in implementing plans.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: What the change is, why it’s necessary, Keep people updated, let them know of any changes to plan, timescale etc.
Timescale: Change projects can last a long time – it is said that it can take 10 years to make dedication to customer service irreversible. But short term fixes with quick results can be essential to gain momentum and sustain enthusiasm. A change strategy should include instant actions with quick recognisable impact.
Action Planning: On the basis of information available create a detailed action plan. Keep it clear and concise. Make use of visual methods of planning and scheduling. Take into account the opinion of people affected, and review your plan regularly.
Anticipating Effects: The greater the change the less likely it is to fit within existing parameters. Never take people’s support of action plans for granted. Do not expect people to be altruistic. Each person will judge change according to what it promises or threatens for them personally. People rightly expect to benefit as individuals in return for the upheaval of making changes, so plan how to sell the benefits.
Implementing: By its nature change calls for leadership, but it also requires inspired, dedicated and inspiring followers. Whether leaders or followers, “change agents” play an indispensable role in the change process.
Build On Change
Change requires great effort. That effort is wasted if changes are abandoned or reversed, or do not form the basis for further advance. Build positive change into all aspects of the systems and culture of an organisation.
However good you are you can always improve. Be sure to highlight your successes and enjoy them, but develop a habit of self-criticism as well. As an antidote to complacency adopt a formal system of self appraisal.