Words on design (takeaways from Autodesk)

The aim of any company is to create two reactions:

  1. WOW
  2. Uh-Oh

You want to create the WOW reaction in your customers and their customers. You want to surprise them time and time again by being awesome, crazy, unexpected, special, simply great and unbeatable.

You want to create the Uh-Oh reaction in your competitors and their customers. Similarly, you want to take them by surprise time and time again by being awesome, crazy, unexpected, special, simply great and unbeatable.

Mimicking competition won’t create WOW, nor will it create Uh-Oh. What it creates is commodities. We all know that commodities are next to zero in value and there is quite frankly nothing sexy about being a commodity. So why not do something of value? And further why not do something your competitors can’t or won’t do? The catch is that today, features and how you make or do something hardly separates you from your competitors. You need take a closer look at design to create something that is a WOW and an Uh-Oh and simultaneously something your competitors can’t do.

Take for example the iPod. It was hardly the first portable consumer mp3 player and since its launch there have been many attempts to overthrow its position. So what made it a WOW to millions of consumers and an Uh-Oh to all its competitors. I’m sure you guessed already. Yes, I’m talking about design. The iPod was a masterpiece of design. It actually combines several forms of design that makes it almost impossible to copy. It is a product design, a fashion design, a marketing design, a business model design, a manufacturing design, a business system design and so on.

Looking at the iPod it is easy to see that there is a clear distinction between tactical design (making pretty things – design as a noun – attempting to compete with features or looks) and strategic design (form and function from a user perspective – design as a verb – competing by separating yourself from all other actors). This is quite the same as attempting to compete in terms of price, there will always be someone willing to do it cheaper. Similarly there will always be the new model that is prettier, faster, lighter, shinier etc. So be and think different by looking at different forms of design. Figure out how design can make your competitors look like commodities.

Design is to companies what sunglasses are for Neo or what a special ring is to Frodo. You just shouldn’t separate them.

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Sales Sales Sales

What makes a good salesperson? How do some sales reps become real sharks for deals where some fail to deliver results? What is it that separates the great from the good, the good from the average and so on. Sales is not easy and it will never be a walk in the park. You have to have guts and a quick head but even the best of preparations will never guarantee you a spot in the top league.

Here’s some stuff I find important when talking about sales.

Understand your customer and their business.

Knowing what your customer is about is key when attempting to do business with them. The only way to understand your customer is to work with them. Ask the right questions, listen and learn. Figure out what are the challenges for them and find a way to help them with those challenges. Do what ever it takes to get the foundation right because you probably only get one shot at this.

Attitude.

It is likely that no customers will walk through your front door. It is your job to go to them and make it happen. Sales in not easy. It isn’t for everyone. There will be times when closing a deal feels impossible. However, these times are when the winners are separated from the not so successful. Don’t give up. Challenge yourself. Go the extra mile and get out of your comfort zone. You might have to pull some strings but in the end it will pay off. Make it your goal to learn something new each day and truly believe in yourself and in what you are doing. Doubt will show, and your customers will see it immediately, killing your deals.

Action.

Understand your numbers. Doing the right thing in the right place is key to getting your hit rate high. You might have to call 100 cold calls for every 10 meetings and from 10 meetings you might make one deal. Knowing your numbers will help you look at your sales activities and figure out where you must improve yourself. Be hungry for your sales and get your activities high. However, keep in mind what your business is about and don’t just make cold calls for the sake of cold calls. Rather, at the end of the day, concentrate on delivering.

And last, Always Be Closing.  Yes I know, it is a cliché but it is more than true. Being successful in sales calls for being active.

Please FAIL today!!!

Ok, please write a note to your calendar for today. Please write; ” Today I failed!”

Don’t worry. Failing is good. Failing helps you learn from your mistakes. Failing will show what has to be improved. I encourage you to fail. Even better, I challenge you to fail. Finland challenges you to fail!

Today, 13th October 2011, marks the first nationwide “National Fail Day” in Finland. What is it all about? In short the Finnish society hasn’t been very encouraging in the unfortunate situation where a person – whether an entrepreneur, an athlete, me or you, anyone – has failed. Unlike in many other cultures failure in Finland is (soon “was”) personal. From children to adults, from students to professionals, from young to old – we fear failure so much that we don’t even try. We fear that other people will judge us based on our failures rather than our success.

However, today marks the time when Finland began to change its ways. Today, failure is celebrated. Share your failures with all the people you know and encourage them to do the same! Spread the word and visit the official website (sorry, only in Finnish) to see how some of the most prominent figures of Finnish society have failed. Learn from your failures and learn from the failures of others. Remember that when you have failed, you have the chance to learn how to be better the next time. Failure is an opportunity to succeed!