Fresh Eyes

I am part of a program called Strategic Coach .At my last session we focused on how to become intentional. As we roll into the end of 2011 and look toward 2012 I think this is a great topic to discuss. We are all starting to work on our plans for the next year. How we approach this task is very critical. It is especially tough right now with so many uncertainties happening in the US markets. One example that was shared with us really hit home with me. I have continued to think about this passage on many occasions since my class.

Sir Lawrence Olivier example: Before every play, he’d look through the curtain and say “this is not last night’s audience. This is not last night’s theater. This is not last night’s play. I am not last night’s character. This is not last night’s script. This is not last night’s cast” He would progressively get more and more scared and would take himself back as though it was opening night again, with all that same energy. Even though he’d done it really well the previous night, he couldn’t count on it this time. Every new situation needs to be seen with fresh eyes, so you have to remind yourself. You want a balance between the emotions of fear and excitement so your motivation is at its highest to do the best possible job.

I find this concept powerful in so many ways. In my industry of industrial products, specifically linear motion products, I find a pervasive culture of the use of the “milkman run”. This is the habit of habitually calling on the same customers over and over again. What really frustrates me is how often the “script” that is played while making these visits is just the “script” that was used on the last visit. The salesman often makes assumptions as to what the customer needs are and where they are on their project. How much more could be achieved if they took on the Sir Lawrence Olivier example? If they went into new opportunities or even current customers but with no preconceived notion of the customers’ needs or wants? Let the customer define a new “script”. How many more opportunities could be discovered?

So how can we apply this when doing our budgets and sales forecast for next year? Do you have clear intentions of your desired future state? Are your goals clearly defined and based upon facts, not assumptions? 2012 is not a repeat performance of 2011. Are you looking at your forecast with “fresh eyes”? How high is your enthusiasm and motivation level when planning for 2012? Will you be ready for the opportunities that lie ahead?

While the world appears to be in a state of flux I am still optimistic for the year ahead. I can envision a new “script”. I am working on seeing the trends that will lead to a new “play” being written all together. It is an extremely dynamic situation that is playing itself out and while I cannot control what is happening in the world, I can control how I and my company react. And as the sign in the Boston Celtics locker room states: “The game is scheduled, we have to play it, we might as well win.”

3 Responses to Fresh Eyes

  1. John De Bono October 4, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    Yes, this is a very powerful way to look at things. We plan and budget one year ahead of when we get to execute our plans – thinking this way would provided a good frame for this exercise.


  2. Mike Turner October 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    Pamela, the way I look at it is that in business there is no silver or bronze medal, unless you win gold every time you don’t win and in not winning business you are not staying in business. I work in an Australian small business located in Tasmania the island state so 90% of our production leaves Tasmania.

    Now some 40% of that 90% is exported to New Zealand, USA, Japan, Oceania and this has been achieved since we commenced manufacturing in July 2009.

    One success factor we use with our sales team is to make each representative an ‘industry news carrier’ so that on every call there is a real client interest (thirst)created to ‘learn’ the latest news or problem solving product use detail. This way the calling in by our representative is never dull and the representative never requires an excuse or aopology for visiting.

    This we also apply in our exporting so that clients or potetnial clients are always welcoming which of course leads to orders.

    Now that times are difficult it is the correct time to be identifying and working to establish off-shore markets to expand your business.

    So let me wish you all the very best for your export exploits.

    Kind regards,
    Mike Turner

  3. wim October 5, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    Wow, this is so true in many ways. As a technical person traveling with sales I generally wonder often why the questions are always the same at each customer. I therefore do not wonder why the outcome is also always the same. People are content with what is predictable. Only a view stand out. The obvious reason is fear I guess (not sure). If you start something new, do you understand the new stuff and do you feel to be a support for your customer or do you rather play in the field you are comfortable at. Customers need to be dynamic to stay ahead of competition, be seen as inovative, stay within environmental regulations (many more examples can be given…). Can a person coop with all such changes or is it intimidating (English???). Also a bad decision or taking a risk is often negatively interpreted by management when not succesful. Do you want to be the person to whom the finger is pointing? Staying ahead and be successfull in business is not just asking the correct questions at a customer. It is a cultural thing which has grown upon people in business. Nobody takes risks when it can backfire on you. As a result, nothing happens. Many managers say that they encourage their people to get new business but still point the finger when it is not successful. They should say “nice try, lets see where this experience can take us next time”. Corporate culture slows down and makes people risk adverse. A new project is always a risk. If you want to change people, change the people who influence first.