Monthly Archive for March, 2014

What kind of seller are you? Hidebound or Visionary?

Since 1993, control of the three major elements of your customer relationships—product, information, and buying decision—has been shifting from business to customer. As you may remember, I’ve identified this shift as a marketplace transition from the original age to the new one—the 10,000 year-old Age of the Seller is being replaced by what I call The Age of the Customer®.

As this shift plays out, two types of businesses—Hidebound Sellers and Visionary Sellers—currently exist in parallel universes, but not for long. Which one are you?

Hidebound Sellers

These companies are so invested and entrenched in the old order of control that they deny the reality in front of them. They can be identified by the following markers:

Misplaced frustration: As performance goals get harder to accomplish, frustration makes those who deny the new realities think their pain is caused by a failure to execute.

Bad strategies: It is said that armies prepare for the next war by training for the last one. So it is with Hidebound Sellers. Not only do Age of the Customer influences make them think they’re being attacked, but they persist in using Age of the Seller countermeasures.

Destructive pressure: Convinced of execution failure, pressure brought to bear by management results in an employee casualty list instead of a growing customer list.

Equity erosion: Defiance in the face of overwhelming evidence sustains the deniers only until they run out of Customers with old expectations, and their equity and access to credit are depleted.

Visionary Sellers

These businesses are adjusting their plans to conform to the new reality of more control by customers. Visionary Sellers are identified by these markers:

Acceptance: They accept that the customer is now in control and make relevance adjustments to this reality.

Modern sales force: They hire and train their sales force to serve increasingly informed and empowered customers.

Technology adoption: They offer technology options that allow customers to find, connect, and do business using their preferences.

Relevance over competitiveness: They recognize that while being competitive is still important, today it’s just table stakes, and is being replaced in customer priority by the new coin of the realm: relevance.

In The Age of the Customer, Hidebound Sellers are dinosaurs waiting for extinction. Visionary Sellers are finding success by orienting operations and strategies around a more informed and empowered customer.

So what’s the verdict? Are you Hidebound or Visionary?

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Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

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Video: Are you an Internet dynamo or a dinosaur?

In this week's video I offer advice on executing an online strategy.

Are you an Internet dynamo or a dinosaur? from Jim Blasingame on Vimeo.

SBA Poll Results: Overtime pay for salary workers

The Question:
President Obama has announced he plans to change the overtime rules for salaried workers. What do you think?

11% - I agree with the president’s plan.

89% - The president has no right to interfere with my employment relationships.

My Comments:
It’s no surprise that the large majority of an audience of small business owners would think President Obama’s plan to interfere with employer/employee relationships by changing overtime rules for salaried employees is a bad one.

Senator George McGovern was once as liberal and anti-business as a politician could get. He was for everything that was proposed– and he also wrote legislation–that put government in the way of a business. After he retired from Congress he opened a bed-and-breakfast and operated it for a short time. Upon divesting himself of this enterprise he now famously said that if he had known how difficult it was to run a business, he would have voted much differently during his career in Congress.

Too bad President Obama didn’t learn from the late Senator McGovern’s education.

A little knowledge can make you smile

Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond, and cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.- Mark Twain

After all these years there has been no one to compare with Twain, and the light of his wisdom has not dimmed.

No matter what we do or where we go, owner or employee, and now more than ever before, we must continue to study, train, and learn. Everyone in your organization. Everyone. Everyday. Lifelong learning.

Are you feeling threatened these days - maybe even frightened - because of all the changes brought on by the advent of the information age? Me, too. Sometimes it seems we’re like Alice - we have to run as fast as we can just to stay in one place. And in our Wonderland, everything is changing so fast that what we learn today may be obsolete tomorrow.

The irony is that the thing that is creating so much potential for anxiety - technology - is also the thing that can help you stay competitive. And the unprecedented wealth of information available on the Internet is a two edged sword: one side cutting for us, and the other for our competition.

When I feel threatened by all of the new information and capability that’s emerging, I just make a point to learn something new, with emphasis on e-commerce, or the Internet, or how my industry is adapting to the virtual marketplace. And when I acquire that new understanding or capability, I smile like Alice’s Cheshire Cat.

Learning makes me feel stronger, as if I’ve gained a little ground in the marketplace. Maybe today I’ll put the heat on somebody else.

Advantage: Me.

Give it a try. The only thing better than your garden variety smile is one that comes from knowing that you just got a little smarter.

I have to say, however, cauliflower does not make me smile.

If you like your Internet, you may not be able to keep it

The Internet, created and managed by the U.S. government from the 1960s to the 1990s, is clearly the most dramatic and successful example of technology transfer from government to private sector.

That transfer began in 1993 when the world was first allowed to use the Internet for commercial purposes. At that point, Internet governance and management was contractually transferred from the government to a contractor, Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI).

The NSI agreement was a lucrative one because it conveyed a monopoly on the management, sale, and distribution of top level domain names, e.g., xyz.com. In response to various political pressures, as the contract expired in 1998, the Clinton administration approved the creation of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a U.S.-based, non-profit entity formed to replace NSI. It’s important to note that, again, this transfer of control to a new contractor maintained U.S. default ownership.

Although ICANN is a U.S. company, it operates through a democratic structure with input from executives, committees, and overseeing entities representing 110 countries. Nevertheless, for years various global interests have resented and coveted the ultimate control the U.S. has maintained over the Internet, not the least of which is the United Nations.

Alas, the Obama administration is now proceeding to divest the U.S. of its ultimate authority over the Internet more than a year before the current ICANN agreement expires. As reported by Steve DelBianco, Executive Director of Netchoice.org, the Commerce Department has instructed ICANN to create a “global, multistakeholder community, and expects ICANN to develop that entity.”

As the U.S. government relinquishes an asset we did build and govern to the free, equitable, and non-political benefit of everyone on the planet, consider four troubling possibilities:

  1. The transition being executed would leave ICANN responsible only to itself.
  2. Ultimate control of the Internet would be decided without the default authority and honest stewardship of the U.S.
  3. Future controlling interests could be influenced by geopolitics.
  4. The U.N. could become the “owner” of the Internet. And when that happens, your business will have to pay the GIT, Global Internet Tax.

Every individual and business should be extremely concerned about the implications of the decision to divest the U.S. of this invaluable asset.

The implications of this transfer of Internet control makes the 1977 Panama Canal transfer look like the sale of a kid’s lemonade stand.

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Listen to my latest interviews below with Chuck Martin. We discuss the implications for your business if the Obama administration’s plan to give the Internet away goes into effect.

The origins of Internet management and governance

Obama’s plan to give the Internet away

What if your business couldn’t connect to the Internet?

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Video: Blasingame’s new law of customer relevance

In this week's video I explain how you can help your business by helping your customer's customer.

Blasingame’s new law of customer relevance from Jim Blasingame on Vimeo.




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