February 19, 2007

Sneaking A Peek At Best Practices

You're curious, right? Not quite Curious George, but interested nonetheless. You want to know what makes others successful. What works for them may work for you.

But what are others doing? You can ask colleagues, but not competitors. Naturally, we want what eludes us. How do we find out what our competitors are doing?

Three of the four choices are ethical:

  1. technology
  2. conferences
  3. client seminars
  4. maven/connectors
Using Technology
Technology offers solutions. We can use search engines to find people, presentations, newsletters, newspaper articles, press releases, and websites. It's surprising and sometimes shocking what you can find out instantly for free. The beauty of these sources is the anonymity. No one sees you peeking.

Try a search on your own name at google.ca, for example. Unless you know you're world famous, select pages from Canada.
Attending Conferences
Conferences are another way. You can ask questions during and after a session. Now you are asking a presenter, not a competitor. It's surprising how much you can pick up, how willing others are to share when in the right environment. Friendships can develop, which makes future contact easier.

Crashing Client Events
As Yogi Berra says, "You can observe a lot just by watching." A competitor's client event lets you see

  • how the event is arranged
  • the location
  • the attendees
  • the presentation
  • the handouts
  • the followup process
But you can't go --- even with an invitation. Only clients and prospects are welcome. Some venues are intimate and expensive, which would make your presence more intrusive and more costly. Unless you're a master of disguise like Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers, not Steve Martin), you're liable to be found out. To attend, you need permission. Good luck getting that.

So what can you do?

Use Maven/Connectors
There are three types of people. "Those who can count and those who can't?," you ask. "No," I reply. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell calls them:

  1. mavens (actively accumulate knowledge)
  2. connectors (have links between different groups)
  3. salesmen (persuaders who help clients act)
Do you see the dilemma? Mavens burst with knowledge but have few to tell. Connectors spread messages, but have no message to pass on. You as salespeople combine the knowledge with your persuasion skills but don't have ready access to the mavens.

You need a maven/connector. Do you know one? If not, you soon will.

No comments:

Post a Comment