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First 7 seconds of any negotiation really count 26 March, 2007

Posted by varoom in Selling.
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Conventional wisdom states that in interpersonal relationships the first seven seconds after you meet someone are the most important. It seems that on meeting someone for the first time you make your mind up about that person in seven seconds. You then go on to spend the rest of the time of that first meeting trying to prove your first instincts right. We all feel that our initial feelings are to be trusted and that we are good judges of character.

If this is really true it means that commercial negotiations can be seriously impacted if the party you are negotiating with, for the first time, makes up their mind to your disadvantage. What can we we can do to survive the first seven seconds?

People form their initial perceptions about you from your verbal and non-verbal behaviours. What you say and how you say it are key points in the initial introductions in the meeting. Make sure you introduce yourself clearly, maintain good eye contact and listen to their name and title. Make sure you can recall names clearly, write them down or position their business card in front of you to align with their positions around the table. This signals that you want to know and remember who they are and that you consider them important in the discussion.

Another factor is your responsiveness and body language. Make sure you are responsive to their enquiries, be aware it’s easy to convey an early feeling that you are not interested in what they have to say. You can create early problems by positioning yourself to face one of the opposite party and you have to make a visual effort to turn and face another at the table when they speak. Position yourself so it’s clear that you regard them all as equals. Responsiveness also means that you are open to their questions and give your answers easily and freely. Be careful about assertive characteristics where you are trying to influence the thoughts and actions of the other parties too early in the relationship.

In the global business arena we are increasingly meeting, and negotiating, with other cultures and the seven second factor becomes even more important as there are many ways to have a bad start with new cultures. You can easily offend some cultures in the initial business card exchange by not paying due respect to their job title, or throwing the card on the table, putting it in your back pocket and sitting on the card! Other cultures will be offended if you become too familiar and use first names or miss out titles like Doctor or Professor. In order not to be trapped by the first seven seconds make sure you do some up front research on culture. I recommend you visit the guidelines for business etiquette section on www.executiveplanet.com for advice on various aspects of global business.

Negotiations are always between people and the relationship between those people can either help or hinder the negotiations. To be effective in business you need to build good, long term, working relationships and trust. Only when you have established a good, stable, working relationship that you can change your negotiation style to become more assertive, less responsive or more familiar with your opposite number in the negotiations.

Grev Commins

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It’s two years to Christmas 19 March, 2007

Posted by varoom in Business Plans.
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For products and technologies which are aimed at end consumers, or go into end consumer products, careful consideration must be given to the intersection of your product roadmap and the normal market cycles. Let’s take the example of a semiconductor technology which targets a digital consumer end product like a DVD player or mobile communications product.

If this consumer end product needs to be in shops for the Christmas boom then unless your component product is ready more than a year before, it’s unlikely to make next Christmas sales. It’s often shocking to young businesses to learn that Christmas can take longer than a year to come round.

So how come, you may ask, surely Christmas comes every year at the same time…..

If we work backwards from Christmas 2008 for your product to be in shops ready for the shopping boom. In order to do that the warehouses need to have volume stocks of your product on the shelves in October and November.

For low cost manufacturing, off shore, we need to ship from those factories by the lowest cost route to save money. That means shipment by sea which can take up to 3 months. So we have to load the ships, taking our product to market, at the end of June to arrive by end of September.

For our volume manufacturers they may need some 3 months to ramp up and produce the volumes we need, to satisfy the pent up demand we hope to capture, for Christmas. So manufacturing needs to start production by end of March.

Let’s look at the component side now. If our end product uses silicon products, as it’s highly likely it will, then we need to take account of typical silicon manufacturing cycles. The normal lead time for silicon can range from 12-18 weeks depending on a lot of different factors, this is not just your own silicon component but must include a lot of other technologies like memories, power controllers, communications devices etc. So in order to ensure our offshore factory can manufacture the volumes we need, we must ensure the silicon for the end product is ordered by December 2007!

If your technology is new then you need to have undergone a range of trials, prototype runs, verification, validation of your semiconductor product prior to being able to ship in volume, to an off shore manufacturer of the end digital consumer product.

Generally it can take up to another year prior to volume manufacturing in order to qualify your product for volume.

It can take up to two years to get your product into Christmas sales. Taking my example target of Christmas 2008 into account, in March 2007, it may already be too late to hit 2008 sales!

Now before you discount the Christmas factor because it only is a factor in the western world you should not forget that the ramp up in volumes, the consequent reduction in costs, can drive increased sales in other parts of the world purely because of the Christmas effect.

The key point in my commentary is that you must analyse the whole time to market chain in order to really understand how your business can ramp it’s sales.

Greville Commins

Creating a viral marketing epidemic on the web 12 March, 2007

Posted by varoom in Selling.
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If you have the kind of product that lends itself to marketing through the web then a viral marketing strategy could work for you. Viral marketing comes in many forms but the desired end result is the same an avalanche of customer demand for your product or service. How is such an avalanche of demand achieved?

If the answer to that question was easy then every idea would be a success. However some aspects of how such viral marketing schemes succeed is well known. In any marketing activity there comes a point when a critical mass of customers occurs and the product launch hits a successful ramp up of demand. This point was termed “The Tipping Point” in Malcolm Gladwells’ book of the same name. He gives many examples of how products launched and became a volume success after hitting a critical mass of customers. This behaviour is very much like a virus epidemic and perhaps the term “Viral Marketing” was drawn from the same theme.

He gives examples of how Fax machines and Cell Phones only became successful when they crossed over the tipping Point and became important for everyone when the numbers hit a critical mass.

In order to try to duplicate the same epidemic effect we need to employ the same behaviours of a “successful” virus. We need to infect key groups of potential customers with the idea of the product, use the product and then recommend it to others. The selection of these key groups and their ability to interact and communicate with other groups is a key factor. If we infect only a small isolated group it’s unlikely to impact other groups. We need to get broader impact.

Identifying these target groups, how they get their market information and how they choose new products is critical to success. Groups which interact, even occasionally, with other groups are important to proliferation of the marketing image.

These groups can be approached through user groups, clubs, agencies and associations. We can communicate to them through their preferred media publications, information sources and circulation lists.

We can offer them free trials of the product with discounted upgrades to get the market inertia going. All the usual techniques of marketing can apply.

But remember it’s the segmentation and selection of the right groups, of the right size and with the right kind of interconnectivity that helps push your product to the Tipping Point.

Greville Commins