Monthly Archives: September 2016

May I Have Your Attention Please?

Critical information is typically preceded by this important question. Whether it’s a grade school handannouncement reminding students to bring in a permission slip or a conductor on a train announcing the next stop, these words get an audience’s attention.

What happens if the announcement isn’t spoken, but printed instead? As it turns out, color is the printed equivalent of this simple phrase. According to research conducted by Loyola College in Maryland, color increases readers’ attention span and recall by 82% and helps them locate important information in a document 70% faster. Furthermore, when it comes to filling out paperwork, companies that use color to highlight critical instructions on forms see an 80% reduction in errors. This means fewer customer service calls, a faster processing time, and a better customer experience. Color also can improve your cash flow—businesses that use color to highlight the amount due and date due on their invoices see a 30% increase in payment response rates.

Whether your audience is consumers, business leaders, students, or employees, distraction is the enemy. If you don’t ensure that they are focused on taking the desired action, you will pay the price. May I have your attention please? Use color to get the attention of your reader and make your job easier!

Quote of the Week: “The average attention span of the modern human being is about half as long as whatever you’re trying to tell them.”
–Meg Rosoff

Different Question, Better Answers

Takeru Kobayashi revolutionized the sport of competitive eating. At five foot eight inches tall with a slight build, it seemed impossible that Kobi, as he was called, could more than double the previous records in his field. According to Freakonomics Authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Kobayashi’s success might be the secret sauce for business owners who are trying to deal with difficult problems.

Kobi’s strategy began by taking a different look at the situation. Instead of asking the same question his competitors asked (“how do I eat more hot dogs?”), Kobi asked himself, “how do I make hot dogs easier to eat?” This slight change in approach enabled Kobi to devise a new way of eating that captured six straight victories in Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

This shift in approach can work in the business world too. Instead of asking what’s broken, start by asking what’s working. Instead of asking a vendor to lower their price, ask how you can make it easier for them to fulfill your order. Instead of asking why you can’t find good sales reps, ask why good sales reps can’t find you. Sometimes asking a different question can create opportunities that drive innovation.

Quote of the Week: “What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question.”
– Jonas Salk

A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

Screen Shot 2016-09-08 at 9.55.50 AMAesop’s Fables tells the tale of a wily wolf that dresses as a sheep to deceive a shepherd and gain access to his flock. Once on the inside, the wolf remains secreted until the shepherd locks the flock in for the night and then prepares for a juicy meal. Luckily for everyone but the wolf, the shepherd returns unexpectedly before the plan can be executed and kills the wolf. But what if the shepherd hadn’t returned early?

Let’s say the shepherd is really a business owner and the wolf is dressed up like a sales rep but is really an order taker in disguise. The business owner falls for the disguise and gives the rep access to his flock of customers. While other things distract the business owner, customers start to disappear one by one.

The average quota attainment for sales reps today is 51.8% according to CSO Insights. What if that’s because there are a lot of people dressed up like sales reps who really aren’t? What if businesses have given them access to customers just like the wolf gained access to the sheep? And, what if the business owner doesn’t come back early?

A study by the Corporate Executive Board found that customers want their sales reps to give them unique and valuable perspectives on the market and help them avoid risk. In short, they want reps to help them figure out what they need not just give them what they ask for.

Are your sales reps order takers in disguise?

Quote of the Week: “Certainly it’s a business and you’ve got to have a salesman, but in my mind, when you‘ve got two guys doing the same thing, you don’t need one of them.”

– Jerry Lawler