Strategy in Hours

The following is taken from Chapter 3: The Vision – Strategy and Planning are Not the Same Thing, in my book, “The Human Being’s Guide to Business Growth.”

It’s time for your first strategic vision exercise. The days of 5-year and 10-year plans are gone. Time and distance, regardless of your industry, is compressing and each step you take into the future changes that future. To work in this new reality, you need a process for setting a strategic vision that doesn’t take a retreat, multiple days offsite, or thick binders of materials to be produced. You need a process that lets your leadership team—your small, agile leadership team—quickly set a strategic vision that your planning committee can work with. Let me show you how we do it.

Step one: Start your strategy sessions by framing this concept

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Occasionally I’m asked to peer into the future and write about what I see. That happened last December. My friends at CANVAS magazine asked me to pen a few thoughts. You can read about it here: Bank on ’em (really, you should) from December 2018.

Let me summarize some of my ideas for those who can’t be troubled to navigate the interwebs.

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Sales and marketing Newsletter

Lessons Learned From Year 6

I usually send this note in October, on the rough anniversary of launching Chambers Pivot Industries, LLC, but for 2018 we’ll sneak it in with a day to spare. This is edition 6 (which is something like 72 in Greg-job-years). Each year I note 2 or 3 big lessons from the year, and make a few announcements.

Let’s light this candle.

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Millennials and Building for the Future

What modern book would be complete without touching on the generational divide between millennials and their managers? As the parent of millennials and part of generation X with strong memories of hearing, “the problem with your generation,” I can offer a few insights based in work with clients.

First, if you notice the differences, you can find the similarities. The idea that this giant, digitally native, socially connected, debt burdened, group has completely different priorities than you is not true. When solving problems, one of our exercises is Kepner-Tregoe’s “is/is not” box where we define what something is by giving equal thought to what it is not. We used a version of it with our fast decision playing field for planning. It looks like this Figure.


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The Future of Sales


The constant news cycle centered around AI and machine learning forces leaders to consider where to apply this new knowledge and capability. Do we work strictly with existing data? What about security? Can it make my forecasts more accurate? And, if the robots are coming, when will they replace those pesky salespeople? What is the future of sales and selling? Read more

How to Become A Successful Sales Manager


Two sales managers are promoted. Both are given teams of the same size, producing similar results, and are instructed to increase results. Both managers are given the same annual budgets, the same support systems, and report to the same VP. A year in, the VP notices a small gap in performance, but both teams are doing better, the VP is happy. Two years in, that small gap has grown and one team is clearly performing better, from the lowest sales rep to the top. The VP wants to know why? What is the difference? How does one become a successful sales manager?

Without interviewing or knowing the managers in question, I will give you one difference between the two. The best way to explain it is to think of a single sales representative and their new objective. Read more

The Downward Pressure of Information on Seller Commissions


If you’re a fan of sales and selling, this New York Times article on airplane seller Steve Varsano, owner of The Jet Business, is a page turner.

Selling Airborne Opulence to the Upper Upper Upper Class

Selling airplanes has been one of my go-to analogies when describing product complexity and budget prioritization, “on one end of the decision making spectrum you have something like a tube of toothpaste, on the other end you have something like a private jet.” This article gives a glimpse into the a world where buyers have big budgets and the ability to prioritize how those dollars are spent intersecting with a product that is complex and completely customizable. A $70MM private jet. Read more

Who holds the algorithms accountable?


We are evaluating a new technological wonder, a soon to be indispensable part of this client’s martech stack. A proprietary algorithm that will power the growth of the company.

It reminds me of a story about how the machines are building their own algorithms and that gets me wondering. Who will hold the algorithm accountable? Read more

One Million Software Companies by 2027

I’ve been thinking about this quote from Jay McBain at Forrester, “I estimate there are more than 100,000 software companies (ISVs) today around the world — up from 10,000 only 10 years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised. . . to see that number grow to 1 million by 2027.”

Today, in the sales and marketing space there are an estimated 5,000 software companies. In 10 years that number could be 50,000? 50,000 companies that understand sales and marketing, selling and marketing.

Think about it. 50,000 companies emailing you about their solution. 50,000 companies calling you with ideas about how to improve your outcomes. 50,000 companies competing for your sales and marketing dollar. Assuming each of those companies have five sales people on staff, that’s the population of Akron, Ohio fighting to get your attention and sell you a solution, every day in 2027.  Read more

Do You See What I See?


Add some emotion to your vision of the future. While a logical explanation of where you see your business going may make perfect sense to you, it’s the emotional description of your vision that will shake the trees and move mountains. Let me give you an example.

I finish describing the F (Focus) in the acronym FIT from my book The Human Being’s Guide to Business Growth to a group of business owners and I note a pained look from one of the participants. “James, you have a look on your face that tells me we have a disconnect. Would you like to go a little deeper into this? We can use your business as an example.” Read more