Man am I glad that sales pitches are totally ineffective. By no means is this breaking news but I think that most people under-think what’s behind this. Many an old school salesman will lament about how relationships used to matter and now it’s all about the convenience and the bottom line.
That seems like a BS excuse to me. Relationships matter more than ever- it’s just how you build them that has changed. It used to be that business was conducted face to face and over the phone when necessary. Before, Don Draper-like looks and charisma was necessary to be heard, no more.
Information is virtually instant, thus the ability to fact-check and comparison shop means that thinly veiled sales pitches can be easily blown apart. Now relationships are built on: ideas, integrity and transparency.
- Familiarize yourself with your customer’s industry, organization, role and their needs. The best way to do this is to ask them.
- Sell yourself, not your product: describe your products exactly as you would to a family member you’ve known for a long time.
- Be straightforward about your expectations of them and acknowledge what your product doesn’t do
Inform your customer and let them make an informed decision. Push information and you push the customer away.
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Posted in Entrepreneurship, Management, Simon Baer, tagged achievement gap, American RadioWorks, bill and melinda gates foundation, bill gates, Birmingham, Cristo Rey, Cristo Rey Prep, Entrepreneurship, high school, high tech high, incubator, KPBS, NPR, Prep Schools, Private Schools, San Diego, San Diego County, urban youth, Workplace U on November 17, 2009 |
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There are two things that get me really jacked in life: Good ideas, and good ideas put into action.
Cristo Rey is a network of private schools set up primarily in neglected urban neighborhoods.
Here’s what’s great about the schools: Their mission is to narrow the ‘achievement gap‘ that is to say they focus on preparing at-risk, urban, and blue collar youth with the attitudes and skills necessary to achieve in college and beyond.
Here’s how they do it (excerpt from Workplace U on American RadioWorks)
The Cristo Rey business plan works this way: Employers pay the school what they would pay a full-time, entry-level employee, minus benefits. In Birmingham that’s $21,500. That one job is shared among four students, who each work on a different week day. A student’s work-study income pays about 70 percent of that student’s tuition. Parents pay a fee based on their income sometimes less than $100 a month. Foundations, charities and donations make up the rest. The Cristo Rey Network is sponsored by dozens of major corporations and by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other philanthropies.
The Story (on Workplace U) focuses on Carlon Harris a high school junior in Birmingham who works as an administrative assistant at a Birmingham business incubator. This would a daunting assignment for any high schooler, then factor the social, economic and potential challenges at home.
Various types of public charter schools have been filling this void for quite some time now and are now very popular across urban cities. High Tech High is a group of high schools, middle schools and one elementary school in San Diego County whose goals (among others) are to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students in math and engineering who succeed in high school and post-secondary education (High Tech High’s Goals).
While High Tech High’s science focus is badly needed in American Education, their admissions process is a lottery- A lottery??? What good does that do anyone? You’re removing any element of motivation.
Cristo Rey has found the winning formula; motivated kids possibly lacking family or social structure put them in a situation with high expectations combined with real-world experience that shows them what they’re working towards.
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Posted in Entrepreneurship, Management, Marketing, Simon Baer, tagged ben huh, content manager, fail blog, i can has cheezburger, mixergy.com, simple websites, stuff white people like, texts from last night on November 15, 2009 |
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I have re-discovered my favorite site on the internet– Stuff White People Like. What is beautiful about this site is it’s simplicity– It’s short, well written and cleaver. These types of sites seem to have exploded all over the internet in recent years. Earlier this year Ben Huh did an interview with Mixergy.com and shared some insight into how he built a network of these sites anchored by I Can has Cheezburger and Fail Blog that generated 218 million page views in September alone.
In terms of content and community management he has it dialed down to a science:
- Site visitors are lazy! – There are TONS of alternatives for your customers so following the KiSS model (Keep it Simple, Stupid) minimizes their opportunities to get distracted.
- Content + more content – You don’t want to shut visitors out that want to spend more time. If you’re following KiSS content generation should be easy and you can pass it off to users. In the case of I Can Has Cheezburger there is no shortage of cat pictures and stupid captions to put under them.
- Quality Content= Value – Think of these sites like fast food restaurants. Items on the dollar menu are cheap and easy to make and a $1 double cheeseburger seem like a great value.
- Get innovated once you have their trust – I got in the habit of reading Texts From Last Night every morning while eating breakfast. Then they released the Iphone app – Texts From Last Night meet another morning routine
Anyone thinking of investing time or money into one of these sites has one big question: What happens when the fad passes? Huh points out that allowing the community to guide the content will ensure that visitors keep coming back. Even if/when one of these sites runs its life cycle all that’s lost is the design and software developed for the site. Computers and humans can be reassigned to other projects that generate other KiSS sites….
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Posted in Management, Simon Baer, tagged brett michaels, costume party, costumes, ferrets, halloween, halloween party, identity, kate gosselin, landmark events, napoleon dynamite, pearl hotel, success on November 3, 2009 |
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My favorite part of Halloween is the lack of real identity that one holds on to on a daily basis. Sure it’s an opportunity for the button-down businessman to live his Brett Michaels fantasy for the day but there are more subtle identity-benders that make the night so interesting.
First, it is totally acceptable not to bother learning people’s real names; for those of us with poor passing memory, this is a life-saver. No longer do you need to worry if her name is Kristy, Christine, or Kristina. For the rest of the evening the spunky blonde can be known as Kate Gosselin.
Second, your identity for the evening is in the eye of the beholder. This year I was Ferret Boy (loosely based on an elementary-school friend. Plus an excuse to buy an awesome ferret shirt!) Apparently my rendition of Ferret Boy looks a lot like Napoleon Dynamite, Napoleon it is I guess.
My third point, (this is how this ties into a work blog) is that people’s Halloween characters tend to be a reaffirmation of their real-life character.
Landmark Events helped us to host a kick-ass party at the Pearl Hotel, about halfway through the evening we gathered those of us present for a team photo. Everyone was spot-on in their costume selection. The design girls wowed us with their creativity and superb execution. Eric made a 200 pound ex-MP look dainty with a set of DDs and a sheer white shirt. Both Jimmy and Pat slipped into costumes that looked so easy and natural they might not have been costumes (seriously Pat, the Peewee Herman get-up should not be that easy).
So… I guess this inadvertently relates to my last post. Want to know if your organization will be successful? Throw them a costume party and see who shows up- The more ridiculous the costumes the more successful the team.
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Posted in Management, Simon Baer, Training, tagged college, entrepreneur, finding a job, first job, New Job, Start up, startup, Trust, young on October 26, 2009 |
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My first post will be about trust. Not the most thrilling topic but a crucial element at a startup. I say this because in many ways trust is a very real assets at a start-up, it’s free and it can be used to create a very dynamic and productive work environment.
Admittedly, I’ve had my doubts about my role at the company and the company as a whole. Am I a valuable to the team? Do I fit in? What happens if the company doesn’t work out?
In the end there are only two questions that matter. And the answers are yes and yes. You are valuable to the team and you fit in great.
Resources at a startup are tight. You and the company are each other’s biggest investors— in this economy there is no shortage of talented, ambitious (and more experienced) help out there. Whenever doubts pop into your mind remind yourself that if the company is dedicating a portion of these coveted resources towards your salary, you are worth it or you wouldn’t be here. On the flip side, I am young, ambitious and underpaid. I give up short term income for invaluable training, a work environment that suits me perfectly and ultimately long term success. I believe in our co-founders, the business model and our product or I wouldn’t be here. With open and frank communication, ambition and focus a young entrepreneur in a startup can have as much job security as an OB/GYN or funeral director
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