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Innovation Culture by Next Step |   posted: 06/15/2016

Innovation, a person or organization’s ability to create and adapt to new ideas or solutions is critical to success. It drives productivity and profitability as well as personal happiness. The growth of areas such as Silicon Valley can be attributed to an Innovation Culture.

In today’s fast-changing world, the companies that innovate have unlimited potential. Alternatively, with lower barriers to competition, globalization and growth of new (sharing, IoT, VR) economies, those who don’t innovate may be among the 30% of companies IDC predicts will be obliterated by 2018.

For sustainable business success, an Innovation Culture includes:

  • Risk taking – rewarding people for thinking big and trying new ideas
  • Diversity of people, perspectives and approaches
  • Customer driven management
  • Sense of urgency across organization
  • Teamwork
  • Mentorship across all levels and roles
  • Eco-system of partnerships and alliances

Building an Innovation Culture can lead to greater success in your career, company or client interactions.

Next Step has maximized innovation and growth for Google, PaloAltoNetworks, Medtronics, Nevion and other global companies since 1998.

For more information, download Steps to Building Innovation Culture. Or visit our website or call us on 1 650 361 1902 for more on our sales, marketing and management development services.


Innovation Culture by Next Step |   posted: 06/10/2016

Innovation, a person or organization’s ability to create and adapt to new ideas or solutions is critical to success. It drives productivity and profitability as well as personal happiness.  The growth of areas such as Silicon Valley can be attributed to an Innovation Culture.
In today’s fast-changing world, the companies that innovate have unlimited potential. Alternatively, with lower barriers to competition, globalization and growth of new (sharing, IoT, VR) economies, those who don’t innovate may be among the 30% of companies IDC predicts will be obliterated by 2018.

For sustainable business success, an Innovation Culture includes:

  • Risk taking – rewarding people for thinking big and trying new ideas
  • Diversity of people, perspectives and approaches
  • Customer driven management
  • Sense of urgency across organization
  • Teamwork
  • Mentorship across all levels and roles
  • Eco-system of partnerships and alliances

Building an Innovation Culture can lead to greater success in your career, company or client interactions.

Next Step has maximized innovation and growth for Google, PaloAltoNetworks, Medtronics, Tandberg and other global companies since 1998.

For more information, on our approach to Innovation see our sales, marketing and management development services, call us at 1 650 361 1902


Building an Innovation Culture – Silicon Valley Style by Next Step |   posted: 05/29/2016

Innovation is one of the most critical contributors to national and global growth. Achievement of sustained success in areas such as Silicon Valley, can be attributed to many factors leading to an Innovation Culture.

Initially, (1960-70’s) Silicon Valley grew through government investment (in defense), universities (Stanford and Berkeley) and bright technical/scientific people who identified opportunities to make a difference. To leverage this foundation for global growth, entrepreneurs, investors and corporate leaders can build an Innovation Culture by implementing key characteristics of Silicon Valley:

  1. Risk taking–innovation is dependent on challenging the status quo,doing something different and gaining, then addressing feedback from the market. Success is not guaranteed, so innovators embrace failure as a step on the path toward success.
  2. Diversity. Working in teams with people from different cultures, backgrounds and ways of living requires thinking ‘outside the box’ which fuels innovative ideas and products.
  3. Mentorship of entrepreneurs (and intrapreneurs) is integral part of daily activities. Surrounded by good ideas and thriving businesses, people within Silicon Valley often “Pay it Forward” (help someone else without expectation of a direct return) – knowing that by helping someone else succeed we are all building a better future.
  4. Focus on meeting a defined customer need. While initial funding may be available for researching a concept or product, sustainable innovative success is built on revenue generated from customer purchases of a solution to their needs and wants. This means rapid, iterative testing of concepts and products with customers along with a sustainable business model.
  5. Timing as competition and economic cycles change frequently. By Silicon Valley standards, the average time to market (for Minimal Viable Product) is 18 -24 months with committed customers and a strong revenue and profitability plan.
  6. Teamwork. Through recognition that no-one can effectively fill all of the roles required to build a successful business from an innovation, Silicon Valley icons from Steve Jobs to Marc Zuckerberg focused on building and leading a great team.
  7. Engagement with eco-system partners which complement the internal team. Many successful businesses (and exits) are the result of early alliances and eco-system engagements between entrepreneurs and corporations, alliance partners, and service providers.
  8. Value built through revenues and profits from customers. By perfecting the match between market needs and solutions, your company will create value (and profit) which can be used to fund the next great idea. This continual cycle of innovation is the core of what has made Silicon Valley successful for over 50 years.

Innovation is built on great technical and scientific competence, supported by research and education institutions along with public funding. However, sustainable success is achieved through development of an Innovation Culture – within a company, accelerator, city, region or nation.


Exit through lucrative acquisition – latest from Silicon Valley by Next Step |   posted: 05/25/2016

As IPO valuations fall in the ‘post unicorn’ days 2016, a successful exit through acquisition becomes the dream of many entrepreneurs. In a recent seminar in Palo Alto CA,  investment bankers, financial and valuation experts agreed that while overall volume of mergers and acquisitions has declined by 20-25% since the record 2015, there are still opportunities for success.

For companies in the technology, life science/medtech and energy sectors, US buyers are interested. In fact in the past 12 months 45% of the acquisitions in the US have been by or of international companies. In technology Microsoft, Google and Intel are leading the charge. Overall returns are today are an average of 8.1 times EBITDA (earnings before tax and other expenses).

If capital is needed to prepare for an ultimate acquisition, Private Equity firms are strong contenders ownership for a 2-3 year period in preparation for ultimate acquisition. Many of these firms seek technologies or services that are complementary to their current portfolio  – sometimes resulting in consolidations or mergers to deliver a lucrative return to the founders of both organizations.

While funding may be in a decline, exits through acquisition and / or PE investment remain alive and well in Silicon Valley.


Addressing Today’s Customers’ Buying Patterns by Next Step |   posted: 05/20/2016

With the wide-spread growth of tools for customer behavior tracking and engagement, many buyers have become accustomed to ‘offers’ and opportunities to expand, enhance or replace solutions even before they realize they have needs!    For companies providing ‘as a service’ solutions, the traditional sales process has evolved to a ‘customer engagement and behavior response’ process through which needs are anticipated and addressed – often without involvement of a ‘sales person’.

 

Buyers have become more knowledgeable and empowered.  Information and experiences among buyers are shared freely through the ever-expanding world of social media.  More and more people are becoming reliant on reviews and recommendations made by other buyers who have just completed the buying experience.  In an effort to reach new markets and promote their products, comprehensive and detailed information about products and their functions is almost universally available.  The new process of buying has put the greatest power into the hands of the buyers, not sellers.  This new power is being exercised forcefully and mercilessly.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the way most sales people sell.  For many sales people it’s a one-way conversation driven by a PowerPoint.  “Let me tell you about my products and some of their key features………………” Since the customer has already done their Internet research, inquired via social media with their peers, and perused blog posts to understand others’ experiences, we are woefully behind them.  Many customers will believe we’re wasting their time.

To accommodate the new world of buying, a new world of selling must emerge. Just as dinosaurs became extinct because of their inability to adapt to the changes in the environment, sales people who cannot adapt will suffer the same fate.

 

In today’s world, customers assume that you are knowledgeable about your products.  That’s the cost of admission into their office.  What they also expect now is that you will learn about their business, how it operates, and what challenges they are facing.  They expect you to use your product expertise to tell them how your products will help them lower their costs, increase their productivity, streamline their business processes, increase their revenue, or improve their competitiveness, among other things.  They expect you to be more of a business person than a supplier of technical information about your products.  If that’s all you provide you can be replaced by a web site.

 

The key to becoming that salesperson lies in becoming skilled in solution selling processes and techniques and adept in using the solution selling tools that are readily available.

 

The Customer’s Buying Process

“By definition, a process is a systematic series of actions, or a series of defined, repeatable steps intended to achieve a result.  When followed, these steps can consistently lead to expected results.

A sale is a series of defined repeatable steps that, if performed well and consistently, will lead to expected results.  A sales process defines and documents those end-to-end steps that lead to increased sales productivity”.

The reason to have a sales process is that it provides everyone involved in the sales effort with a roadmap of what to do next.  This supports a well-coordinated effort which leads to a higher probability of success. 

While sales people are laser-focused on their sales process, customers are engaged in their own buying process.  Many sales people treat the customer’s buying process as a black box.  They put a proposal in one side and hope a purchase order comes out the other side.  What happens inside the box is a mystery.  Sales competence requires that sales people understand the process their customers go through in making buying decisions.  The selling efforts should contribute to the customer’s efforts in determining why buy something, why buy it now, and who to buy it from.

Buying processes vary widely.  But one thing is certainly true.  Most customers’ buying processes are more extensive and complex than sales people realize.  The process also starts long before sales people are brought in to pitch their wares.table for NS


Company Growth through Hiring and Developing the Right Sales Leadership by Next Step |   posted: 05/18/2016

If business growth is key to your success in 2016, the most important decision your company can make is in attracting, selecting and developing the best possible sales leadership. However for small to enterprise companies in Silicon Valley, Norway and world-wide, hiring and effectively managing a great sales leader is one of the greatest challenges. Why is this?

  1. Most executives or entrepreneurs who are responsible for hiring a sales leader do not have a sales background. Without knowing the challenges, needs, skills needed for success in a role it is difficult to judge one candidate versus another.
  2. Different types of services, products and companies require specific sales approaches. Many times a sales person or manager is good at one type of sales but his / her skills and style may not be a match for the type of sales required by another company.
  3. A hungry sales person seeking his / her next job may be good at selling themselves – but this does not mean they really the right sales person or manager for your company.
  4. Specific expectations for the first months’ sales results are not agreed upon and/ or the sales compensation does not align with company goals.

 

Even if you aren’t a sales expert you can succeed through:

  • Gaining clear understanding of how your current and potential customers want to buy then build the sales process and hiring the team with the skills, experience and style required to sell in manner customers prefer to purchase.
  • Selecting sales leader or team members through a multi-faceted candidate assessment process that leads to joint understanding of requirements, expectations and fit of the selected candidate’s skills and style with the company.
  • Aligning company expectations with sales compensation, management style and resources to support the sales team success.
  • Conducting regular reviews and coaching of the sales team members.

Learn more about Hiring a Sales Leader.


Habits of People With Remarkable Mental Toughness by Next Step |   posted: 08/25/2014

thinking-girl

 

 

Success in business relies heavily on being able to work through difficult situations. In other words, it’s important to be “mentally tough”. This is a universal quality successful people possesses, because mental toughness builds the foundations for long-term success. The good news is you don’t have to be born mentally toughness; you can develop the vital trait.

Read about how you can improve your mental toughness in a recent article, Inc. discusses “7 Habits of People With Remarkable Mental Toughness”.

 

 


Just How Popular Is Snapchat With Millennials? by Next Step |   posted: 08/22/2014

According to recent data from +comScore Inc., half of the 18-24 demographic has at least installed Snapchat on their phone.
Around 20% of the 25-34 demographic are using the app.

 

Snapchat app

 

See what 12 big brands use Snapchat and why they are including this is their social media platform.


A Fresh Take on Accountability by Next Step |   posted: 01/29/2014

How Leadership Style Can Build Capacity

In today’s world many leaders struggle to understand what accountability really means: is it simply holding people responsible for their defined obligations – or is it something more?

Accountability is undoubtedly one of the signs of a great leader. Harry Truman’s famous statement “The buck stops here,” epitomizes both the ultimate simplicity and the profound importance of accountability.

Your understanding of accountability determines your response to crisis.

What is your style when a crisis strikes and a project is at risk?

When disaster strikes, a project is at risk, and customer experience is on the line, leaders are highly motivated to do whatever is necessary to fix the problem. After all, you are personally accountable for everything that happens within your business, and you don’t want to give your team the impression that you are hiding out in your office until the storm passes.

But how do you respond to problems in a way that builds organizational capacity?

The answer can be found in your leadership style.

Many leaders are action-oriented and want to step in personally and immediately resolve the issue. While it is crucial to address problems quickly, it’s also important to include your team members in the solution.

Here are five ways your leadership style can help build more accountability and capacity in your organization:

  1. Share the big picture
  2. Focus on results and expectations
  3. Expect setbacks and learning curves
  4. Incorporate coaching and advising into your role
  5. Know the work and leadership styles of your team members

Visit our Publications page to download a complete Tip Sheet on Improving Your Company’s Accountability. Contact us to schedule your 30-minute complimentary consultation.


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