Tag Archives: Sales

Five Lessons from a Harvard Professor on Selling with Service

Five Lessons from a Harvard Professor on Selling with Service

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Most people think that customer service is a department that handles complaints and problems. There may be a department or contact center that does, but customer service is more than that. It’s a philosophy that must be embraced by everyone in an organization, and that includes sales.

I had a chance to interview Frank Cespedes for an episode of Amazing Business Radio. Cespedes is a Harvard Business School professor and author of six books, including his latest, Sales Management That Works: How to Sell in a World That Never Stops Changing. One of his books, Aligning Strategy and Sales, was hailed by Forbes as “… perhaps the best sales book ever.” Here are five lessons he shared, with my commentary following, that should convince you that selling with service is today’s best sales strategy.

1. Sales and customer service merge together. Selling with service is all about what we do to enhance the sales experience. We make it easy, eliminate friction, stay in touch and make the customer feel (at least in the moment) that they are the most important customer we have.

2. Sales and customer support are increasingly intertwined. Typically, the sales team makes sales, and the customer support team delivers service. More and more, these two responsibilities (and departments) are connecting to create a seamless journey for the customer. During the “after experience,” as I like to call it, what is traditionally referred to as customer support continues the sales process with upsells, cross-sells and other tactics to generate revenue for the company.

3. The sales team is becoming a smaller part of the sales conversation. This doesn’t mean the sales team is any less important. However, the days of the salesperson being, as Cespedes says, “an organic, walking, talking version of product and price information” are gone. Customers are just one or two clicks away from getting the information and price they need to make decisions. We must recognize that to have a winning combination, online information, customer support and sales must work together.

4. People don’t want to be sold. They want to buy. This expression has been around for some time, but it’s never been more relevant than today. In the past, most customers would want to talk to a salesperson at the beginning of the sales process. Today, however, most prefer to start their buying journey with their own research. There’s great information to be found through a quick Google search. Before the customer ever talks to a salesperson, they may be close to a buying decision, if they haven’t already decided to do business with the company. The conversation with a salesperson becomes more of a formality.

5. The most important thing about selling is, and always has been, the buyer. Let’s never forget this commonsense, but very sage, advice. Customers get to decide how they want to buy. If they want to skip the formal sales process, let them do so. If they want to do their own research, give them the tools they need (a knowledge base on a website, videos on YouTube, etc.). If they want to talk directly to someone in the company, give them easy access to the right person. Let the customer buy from you the way they want to, which might be different from the way you’ve traditionally sold in the past.

With all the changes caused by the pandemic, supply chain issues, employment problems and a scary economy, we must be prepared to give our customers the journey they want, which is not always how we’ve done business in the past. Sales are not just sales. Customer support is not just customer support. Both fall inside the bigger concept of the customer experience. Heed Cespedes’ advice. Sell with service, and create the experience that makes customers want to buy from you.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image Credit: Shep Hyken

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Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of June 2022

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of June 2022Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. We also publish a weekly Top 5 as part of our FREE email newsletter. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are June’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. An Innovation Action Plan for the New CTO — by Steve Blank
  2. The Lost Tribe of Medicine — by Arlen Meyers, M.D.
  3. What Can Leaders Do to Have More Innovative Teams? — by Diana Porumboiu
  4. Transformation Insights — by Bruce Fairley
  5. Selling To Generation Z – This is What They Want — by Shep Hyken
  6. It is Easier to Change People than to Change People — by Annette Franz
  7. Leading a Culture of Innovation from Any Seat — by Patricia Salamone
  8. Harnessing the Dragons of your Imagination for Innovation — by Braden Kelley
  9. Successful Asynchronous Collaboration — by Douglas Ferguson
  10. Four Reasons the Big Quit Exists — by Braden Kelley

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in May:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last two years:

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Keeping Pace with the Latest Trends in Social Media and Online Video

David Meerman ScottThe ways we communicate continue to evolve. Keeping pace with the latest trends in social media and online video, while preventing your product or service from getting lost in the digital clutter, is a daunting task. David Meerman Scott is a master at helping you speak directly to your audience, make a strong personal connection, and generate attention for your business.

In the eighth edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Content Marketing, Podcasting, Social Media, AI, Live Video and Newsjacking to Reach Buyers Directly, David explores the latest approaches for highly effective public relations, marketing, and customer communications – while helping you avoid of the costs of traditional advertising!

New Rules of Marketing and PRI had the opportunity recently to interview David, a marketing strategist, entrepreneur, investor and advisor to emerging companies, and bestselling author of 12 books, including Fanocracy, about the new eighth edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

Throughout his career he has been fascinated by seeing the future of how people and organizations work together, studied ‘what’s next’, and looked for patterns others don’t see.

Three times a year David (@dsmcott) is the lead marketing speaker at the legendary Tony Robbins Business Mastery events, delivering a two hour session on New Marketing Mastery.

Below is the text of the interview:

1. What is the biggest change in either PR or Marketing that today’s companies face?

I wrote this for the first edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR back in 2007: “There used to be only three ways to get noticed: Buy expensive advertising, beg the mainstream media to tell your story for you, or hire a huge sales staff to bug people individually about your products. Now we have a better option: publishing interesting content on the web, content that your buyers want to consume.” The same is true today upon the publication of the 8th edition!

The tools of the marketing and PR trade have changed. The skills that worked offline to help you buy or beg or bug your way into opportunity are the skills of interruption and coercion. Online success comes from thinking like a journalist and publishing amazing content that will brand you as an organization or person it would be a pleasure to do business with. You are in charge of your own success.

2. Must companies re-think their approach to PR in the digital age?

Many people steeped in the tradition of product promotion naturally feel drawn to prattle on and on about their products and services. But I have news for you. Nobody cares about your products and services. Yes, you read that right.

What people do care about are themselves and how you can solve their problems. People also like to be entertained and to share in something remarkable. In order to have people talk about you and your ideas, you must resist the urge to hype your products and services. Instead, create something interesting that will be talked about online. When you get people talking on the Web, people will line up to learn more and to buy what you have to offer.

Sadly, marketers continue to hype products and services instead of understanding buyers and creating interesting content to reach them.

3. Do press releases still have value?

Yes, press releases have value but way less than most PR professionals believe. There is so much more that can be done.

Somehow along the way PR professionals have lost sight of what ‘true’ PR is and have set their focus on the media. What quick steps can PR pros take to get back to the public relations roots of creating mutually beneficial relationships with all of their publics (shareholders, stakeholders, communities, employees, etc.)?

To paraphrase the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), definition: “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”

Nowhere does this description mention the media!

Somewhere along the line “public relations” became the same as “media relations.” What people need to realize is that these are different activities. Media relations, or working through journalists, is fine. Hey, who doesn’t want to be quoted in an important outlet?

But there are so many other ways to hear attention.

PR is about reaching your audience. There are many more ways to do that than just via the media: YouTube videos, blog posts, eBooks, charts, graphs, photos, a Twitter feed, a presence on Instagram, TikTok and so much more.

4. What role should LinkedIn play in companies’ marketing strategies? Any difference in your answer for B2B vs. B2C companies?

There are many social networks out there and LinkedIn is one of them. Marketers should understand their buyers and be active on the social networks that are most important to them. For many B2B businesses, LinkedIn is super important, so for them yes, LinkedIn is valuable. However many people use LinkedIn as another way to send unwanted sales messages. To be effective people should use LinkedIn to publish content and to engage with other people’s content.

Continue reading the rest of our conversation on CustomerThink

SIX more questions and answers!

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7 Steps to Building Stronger Sales Relationships with Human-Centric Problem Solving

7 Steps to Building Stronger Sales Relationships with Human-Centric Problem Solving

by Braden Kelley and Adam Radziszewski

Building strong sales relationships is all about trust and demonstrating how the product/solution will make the customer’s life better. But is traditional selling getting you where you want to go?

If you’re looking to close more business and feeling stuck, try injecting some human-centric problem solving into your sales process.

What is human-centric problem solving?

Human-centric problem solving goes beyond what people say they do. Instead, it looks for what people actually do.

The approach helps you investigate the distinctly human elements that go beyond what sales tools can tell you about a prospect. It can also help you discover the true problem worth solving for the prospect.

Sometimes, you’ll even find a new problem the customer doesn’t even know they have.

Click here to continue reading on Sales Hacker


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Flash Sale – Change Planning Toolkit™ Lifetime License

Flash Sale - Change Planning Toolkit™ Lifetime License

You can now get a Lifetime Commercial License for the Change Planning Toolkit™!

Thank you to everyone that has already:

1. Gotten the 10 Free Tools to sample the power the toolkit
2. Purchased my book Charting Change and gotten 16 more tools to use
3. Considered purchasing a license to all 50+ tools in the Change Planning Toolkit™

Previously there were three options for using the Change Planning Toolkit™ to make money:

Option 1 for companies — $99.99 per year per user
Option 2 for companies — $299.99 + $2 per employee per year*
Option 3 for cities/states/countries — $0.01 per resident per year ($1,000 minimum)*

* These special licenses give full access to every person in the company or in the region.

BUT,

Now I’m super excited to announce the availability of a fourth option for people – the Lifetime Commercial License!

Available now for only $999.99
(a $36,999.00 value)

FLASH SALE!

First FIVE (5) people get a special price of $249.99
with coupon code 250LIFETIME

Next FIVE (5) people get a special price of $499.99
with coupon code 500LIFETIME

AND as a special bonus,

  1. I will credit any educational license investment towards the purchase of a commercial or city/state/country license
  2. If you refer a company or a city/state/country to me and they purchase a bulk license, I will share 20% of the year one revenue with you

** Lifetime refers to lifetime of the individual person

Thank you for continuing to support the change revolution!


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Are you an expert?

I came across this video recently thanks to my friends at BLT who recruit consultants for firms in London and beyond.

It pokes fun at the experience many internal and external consultants face with clients, whether we are working on an innovation project, technology project, or some other kind of project.

So, I encourage you to check out the video for a chuckle and to leave a comment below:

How does this reflect your experience of being called upon as an “expert” by a project team?

Or your experience working in the consulting industry and meeting with potential clients in a pre-sales situation as the subject matter expert there with the partner and/or sales guy?

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People-Centric Marketing

People-Centric MarketingWe live in an increasingly complex world where both the volume of change and the pace of change are accelerating. But it is not just change that is accelerating, choice is proliferating as well.

Witness the example of General Mills’ Cheerios. Introduced in 1941, there are now 13 varieties of Cheerios on the market, not including snack mixes introduced in 2008.

In its 70+ year history, General Mills introduced no variations in the first 35 years; all of the new varieties have been introduced during the second half of Cheerios’ lifespan, with eight of 13 new varieties being introduced in the last decade. The 13 current varieties of Cheerios (with launch dates) according to Wikipedia are:

  1. Cheerios (1941)
  2. Honey Nut Cheerios (1979) (see above)
  3. Apple Cinnamon Cheerios (1988)
  4. MultiGrain Cheerios (Original in the UK) (released 1992, relaunched 2009)
  5. Frosted Cheerios (1995)
  6. Yogurt Burst Cheerios (2005)
  7. Fruity Cheerios (2006) (Cheerios sweetened with fruit juice)
  8. Oat Cluster Crunch Cheerios (2007) (sweetened Cheerios with oat clusters)
  9. Banana Nut Cheerios (2009) (sweetened Cheerios made with banana puree)
  10. Chocolate Cheerios (2010) (Cheerios made with cocoa)
  11. Cinnamon Burst Cheerios (2011) (Cheerios made with cinnamon)
  12. Dulce de Leche Cheerios (2012) (sweetened Cheerios made with caramel)
  13. MultiGrain Peanut Butter Cheerios (2012) (Multigrain Cheerios with sorghum, not wheat, and peanut butter)

We have an overwhelming amount of choice in the supermarket, but we also have an ever growing roster of entertainment options as well:

  • Terrestrial, cable, satellite, and on demand television
  • Internet television (NBC.com, Comcast.com, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus)
  • Television on DVD or DVR
  • Over the air, satellite, and internet radio
  • YouTube, Vimeo, Vine and streaming music
  • Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google+
  • Console, PC, Tablet, and Smartphone gaming
  • Snapchat and Wechat
  • Live events and recordings of live events
  • and on and on

Advertising is proliferating:

  • TV and radio advertising
  • Out of Home advertising (Billboards, buildings, airplanes, buses, trucks, etc.)
  • Print advertising (Magazines, newspapers, etc.)
  • Movie and TV product placements
  • Movie theater advertising
  • Airborne advertising
  • In game product placements
  • Digital advertising (banners, videos, etc.)
  • Mobile advertising
  • Naming rights (stadiums, etc.)

Marketing is proliferating too:

  • Direct marketing (direct mail, email, telemarketing, etc.)
  • Partner marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO)
  • Search Engine Marketing (aka SEM)
  • Social Media marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Viral marketing
  • Loyalty and retention marketing
  • Spam
  • and my least favorite (contact form marketing – aka spam)

With this deluge of choice and competition for our attention, people are in fact more annoyed and less affected by advertising and marketing than ever before.

Growing Customers in a Deluge

So in today’s world, how do most effectively cultivate future customers, strengthen the relationship with existing customers, and maintain connections and grow commitment over time?

There is no single answer of course, but effective marketing in today’s world of endless choice and competition for people’s attention requires the appropriate mix of push and pull and recognizes that the ROI from marketing efforts should not all be attributed to the last click but instead is attributed to the overall customer journey and uses technology that allows you to connect together the different customer touchpoints and impressions over time to help you better understand how your holistic revenue generation system is working. Because effective marketing is not about converting leads, but instead about building relationships.

When your marketing efforts focus on building a relationship, trust, and even partnership with your customers, your organization stands to benefit more than by just seeking the quick scale. Even non-customers can be referrers and recommenders, and as companies grow, a single individual can have a customer, partner, and a competitor relationship with the same organization.

Are you living in marketing’s past?

So if marketing today is more about the customer journey, building relationships and even co-creation, then it becomes even more important to build understanding and trust. The power of the story, the power of experience, and the role of content in this new world become increasingly important in capturing and holding people’s attention. You’ll notice that I said people not customers or prospects, and their is an important reason underlying it.

Because of our increasingly interconnected and always on world, where Yelp has grown to become a more powerful engine of influence than neighbors and co-workers, it’s getting harder to tell who is an influencer and must tell a consistent story not just to prospects, but to all people. And in a world where algorithms determine whether you even appear in the places your potential customers trust, having the right content in the right places, at the right time, so that people (not just prospects) can find it at the various stops along the often long, meandering non-customer to prospective customer evolutionary path.

Embracing an expanded marketing focus on non-customers may be hard for some marketers, but others will see the importance of it in growing and maintaining the long-term health of the organization’s sales pipeline and brand equity.

How do you grow new customers?

Well, by growing the level of comfort and trust that people have in your organization and its employees. There are many ways to do this, but they require a strategy that first seeks to understand the typical paths that people take from non-customer to customer. A lot of people talk about trying to loyalize customers, or turning customers into advocates, and while that may sound logical, there is a flaw in that thinking. The flaw is that people can be influencers and advocates for your products and services before they become a customer (or who may never become a customer) if you’re doing a good job with your people-centric marketing.

When you better understand the journeys people take from non-customer to customer you can better understand what parts of the story to tell when and where. And often as you shift from a lead-generation, prospect-driven marketing focus to a people-centric one, you will start to see that in order to build the comfort and the trust and the excitement, that it will be more about barriers than benefits, more about problems than solutions.

As marketers we love to talk about benefits and solutions, but where we really need to focus is problems and barriers. Where is the friction? Where is the confusion? What are the chasms to be crossed? What are the pitfalls to be avoided?

When we start to understand these things, we will start to understand the stories and the content that need to be told and created in order to provide the jet pack to accelerate an individual from one level of comfort, trust, and purchase readiness to the next. The better we grasp what people are seeking to understand in order to evolve their level of comfort and trust, the better we can do at shaping our messages and our strategy to meet people where they are.

Who’s your thought leader?

This is where having a thought leader on staff comes into play, and why you might want to hire one or convert an existing employee or two into one. The job of the thought leader is to be a storyteller, a brand advocate, and ultimately to be the person that builds those bridges across the chasms and guides non-customers along their journey of understanding by demonstrating understanding of the problems, barriers, and pitfalls that non-customers and customers face, and helping to educate them on some of the ways that progress can be made and success created.

There is nothing wrong with trying to lead the thoughts of others. Someone has to lead, or at least to provoke. Just keep your ego at bay and focus on being a discussion leader and a facilitator within the topic area you are focusing on and key in on the transitions that you are trying to encourage. Ultimately what you are doing is growing customers, but there is no set timetable for when a non-customer might become a customer, and we’re not focused on speed as much as we are on acceleration. The closer we can draw non-customers to us, the more likely they are to want to become employees, partners, co-creators, advocates, or even aid in creating post-purchase rationalization instead of buyers remorse.

But the sad part is that most companies don’t recognize the importance of thought leaders, and the unique skillset that some people in understanding the journey and the problems, pitfalls, barriers, chasms, and transitions that matter to non-customers. Most consultancies want their consultants on the road billing every possible hour, and don’t allow anyone to focus on this important area of growing future customers. They dabble, and maybe they publish a white paper here or there that looks just like the white paper their five other competitors just put out, but they don’t commit to any marketing activities that result in immediate lead generation. There are a few consumer product companies that are doing surprisingly well in this area, but the two areas of greatest opportunity probably lie in the business-to-business (B2B) and service industries (consulting, legal services, etc.).

I’ve done a bit of work in these areas helping companies like Innocentive, Planview, Imaginatik, and Crowd Computing create single content input, multiple content output strategies to help evolve their ranks of non-customers along their journey with some informational pieces.

Thought leaders can and should play a large role in your innovation efforts as Evangelists (see my Nine Innovation Roles) and in helping your organization do a better job of value translation and value access (see my article on Innovation is All About Value). As you launch innovations into the marketplace, a people-centric marketing approach can make a huge difference in translating the potential value better for customers and non-customers alike and identifying areas of opportunity for improved value access (based on the thought leaders’ understanding of the non-customer’s journey) that can be communicated within the organization and new value access offerings that complete the core value creation of the innovation.

I hope by now you see the importance of focusing more on people-centric marketing and in understanding non-customers as well (or better) as we currently understand our customers.

But, of course in order to become a thought leader, someone must inevitably find what you have to say worth following.

So identify the thought leaders in your organization, or hire one, and start building your people-centric marketing strategy today!

Image source: bashfoo.com


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Where is the Innovation Bonfire the Hottest?

Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire Sales

Now that I’ve secured a book deal with Palgrave Macmillan for my second book, I thought it might be interesting to peek in on the Nielsen Bookscan sales numbers on Amazon and look back at the last couple of years of sales by geography in the United States for Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire. This is what you’ll see in the map above (darker color indicating more dense sales). Unfortunately they don’t collect international data an so I can’t show you a world map, despite the book’s global popularity.

So where in the United States does the innovation bonfire burn the brightest? Here are the top ten cities:

  1. Washington D.C.
  2. Boston
  3. Los Angeles
  4. New York
  5. Philadelphia
  6. Silicon Valley
  7. Seattle
  8. Cincinnati
  9. Chicago
  10. Dallas

Think your city should be on the list?

Get a copy of the book or ask your library to acquire it.

Curious what my second book is about?

My intention is to make it the definitive instruction manual for planning successful change (complete with guest experts and numerous collaborators).

I’m currently developing the powerful visual, collaborative change planning toolkit that will sit at its core and building the web site that will allow me to start inviting people to register their interest in getting exclusive early access to the toolkit before the rest of the world, so people can use it with their clients or in their company as soon as possible, and also possibly contribute to its evolution.

So, stay tuned and subscribe to my weekly newsletter to get the latest info on this exciting new project!


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Marketing Throwdown – Pull versus Push

Marketing Throwdown - Pull versus PushDescribing push marketing is easy (or at least it should be). Push marketing is the traditional marketing and advertising seen everywhere. Push marketing starts with the product or service, identifies the features or benefits that potential customers will find most compelling, and then utilizes targeting and segmentation to “push” carefully crafted marketing messages out via a variety of advertising, sales, and social media channels to the most likely potential customers.

But, stray into the pull marketing universe and prepare to be inundated by a plethora of widely divergent definitions. Some people would define pull marketing as similar to push, but instead of marketing to potential customers, potential decision makers or consumers (or even influencers) are targeted so that hopefully they will pull customers to the business. Still other people talk about technology push versus market pull in the context of determining which products get developed and sold (or should be developed and sold). Making it even more confusing, some people call the direct advertising to consumers of prescription medications like Viagra a pull marketing strategy. So just what is a pull marketing strategy then anyways? Who’s right?

I would argue that none of them are correct. While the communications produced might to talk to different groups of people than traditional marketing or in a slightly different way, they all are still, at their core, push marketing strategies. Pull marketing is something else entirely (and should be in order to maximize your investment in marketing). While push marketing focuses on the most likely potential customers, pull marketing should be focused on a totally different group of people – non-customers who are not yet ready to become customers at this time.

An effective pull marketing strategy begins with extensive research into what makes a person evolve from someone who is disinterested and unaware of a solution area, to seeing how it might fit into their personal or professional lives and make it better. This usually involves the creation of content that will raise awareness, interest, inspiration, and understanding of the whole solution area, and the need for it, not just the features and benefits of one company’s particular product or service. Pull marketing strategies are very uncomfortable for most marketers, and as a result most companies have no pull to balance their push.

So which is better push marketing or pull marketing?

Any organization that is interested in sustained revenue and profitability growth over time should invest in both, but most companies are seduced by the immediate payback of push marketing and pursue only push marketing strategies. Meanwhile, pull marketing helps grow new potential customers (or accelerates their purchase readiness timeline), so it is equally important in the long run. Smart companies, organizations that intend to succeed in the long run, need to invest in both push and pull marketing strategies in order to keep their sales pipeline full both for now AND for the future. And if your company is focused on innovation, then the more disruptive that you try to be, the more important that having a pull component to your marketing strategy will become. Push or pull? The answer lies in… the balance.


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A Creative Marriage Proposal

I found this video via @MeghanMBiro and @berget and I just had to share it.

It’s a wedding proposal from an actor in my hometown to his now bride to be, and is a great example of re-imagining a traditional activity in our society – the marriage proposal.

The things I love about it are not the actual creative execution but the principles exemplified by the experience:

  1. If you have a great product or service, people will be willing to help you sell it
  2. If it’s really good, they may go out of their way to help you sell it – or even do so without asking your permission
  3. Oregon fosters creativity 😉
  4. Focus on more than the transaction – Make magic!
  5. Skills can from other contexts can be valuable to the current challenge
  6. Have fun with everything you do and you’ll have better results 🙂
  7. Don’t just ask people to help, make it fun to help
  8. Give people something to talk about and feel the love spread 🙂
  9. Even if your customers or community do the sales pitch – YOU’VE GOT TO CLOSE

What magic are you making?

Are there boring transactional parts of your business that could use a little love and magic?

Don’t be afraid to invest in reducing the friction in your adoption process. You’ll improve the value access performance in your innovation equation:


Innovation Success (or even business success)
=
Value Creation
+
Value Access
+
Value Translation

For more, see Innovation is All About Value

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