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Building Business Relationships in Todays Digital World
by Kurt Shaver in Social Media and Social Networking
Business is about relationships. It always was and always will be, even if it wavers from time to time.

One hundred years ago, people purchased goods from their local owner-operated stores. The proprietor knew each customer and their preferences and would often let the customer know if their favorite item had just come in. Customers often took the suggestion and purchased the item because of the degree of trust between buyer and seller.

Those genuine relationships started to erode as chain stores and mass-market advertising emerged in the mid-20th century. Advertising Mad Men, like the character Don Draper promoted soap and cosmetics via persuasive ads and consumers bought products without much involvement of a personal relationship.

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What Is Engagement? Going Beyond the Buzzword
by Brian Summerfield in Strategy and Planning
It's a testament to the power of buzzwords: As recently as a decade ago, if you heard the word "engagement," your mind probably would have conjured up images of a guy getting down on one knee in a fancy restaurant, diamond rings and wedding plans. But now, you likely think first of things like increasing mindshare among your target customer demographic or ways in which you're elevating employee performance.

On the flipside, buzzwords also tend to suffer from overuse and lack of context. Think about how we once talked about how important it was to get "hits" or "eyeballs" for a website. Or even today, when companies are encouraged to leverage "the cloud" or "big data" to improve their operations.

It's worth noting that these terms often have real, coherent definitions, but the meaning and impact get diluted when they're used over and over again to peddle everything from soup to nuts.

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Are you Doing it to Them or with Them & Do They Know?
by Rick McPartlin in Business Planning and Strategy
In the 20th Century, buyers were hungry for the basics, a home, appliances, electricity,  their first car, electric  tools, televisions and later computers, cell phones, tablets and the vacation home.

During those 20th Century demand bubbles, the buyers were in a frenzy.  They were not particular about what they were buying since they often started with no buying or product experience. 

They were in the middle of this frenzy with a product scarcity for these buyers with no product or buying experience, and they fell victim to the fulfillment bubble.

Through most of the 20th Century,  the manufacturers were all about...

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There Are Profitable Cultures and There Are Not! What's YOUR Culture?
by Frank Heegaard in Organizational Behavior
Every organization has a culture. In the vast majority of cases that culture is simply a default culture because leaders have not created a preferred culture.

Organizational culture is the combination of its people's attitudes, practices, relationships, leadership style and values. Think about the implications of those five areas. When healthy, they reflect a good place to work but when unhealthy they can be toxic. Culture matters a lot.

Default cultures are highly problematic because they simply reflect the aggregate character and practices of those in it - good and bad. They reflect the habits of the organization. The problem is that while there may be many good things about the people and organization, there are also unaddressed habits that hurt the organization whether in attitudes, practices, relationships, leadership style or values.

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What's More ImportantEngagement or Performance?
by Michelle M. Smith in Sales and Marketing
Many CEOs don't realize there's a philosophical battle occurring in their leadership ranks.

On one side are the performance-oriented leaders who help their team perform at high levels by focusing their management activities on the team's objectives, goals and desired outcomes. On the other side are the engagement-focused leaders who support their teams by focusing their efforts on creating an engaging environment that energizes and motivates employees.

So, in this philosophical war, which side is right?

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Why Selling Had to Change in the Last 60 Years
by Andy Gole in Strategy and Planning
Here are all the business development strategies you'll every need, all in one place:

A. The Customer is Always King But it has be win/win
B. Safe vs. Serious Conversations
C. The Payment in Kind Principle
D. Major Post World War II eras in selling
E. Selling in the modern era

Now ask yourself; is your company operating as effectively as it could be?

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Stop SWOT-ing! The Shift That Will Increase Your Competitive Advantage
by Mary Abbazia & Tom Spitale in Sales and Marketing
What To Do When Customers Arent Really Sure What They Want
by Tom Spitale in Sales and Marketing

You dont need to be told that business is tough. You already know that. You dont need reminding that your competitors, with their siren call of better, faster, cheaper, are relentlessly pursuing your best customers. Nature, red in tooth and claw was how Alfred Lord Tennyson described the struggles for survival in the natural world and it stands as an appropriate metaphor for the persistent and exhausting fight to hold on to your customers.

So, what to do? You cant simply opt out of the fight. In fact, much of our work is helping our clients to sharpen their teeth and claws. You still need the capability to fight and the determination to win. Thats a given. What you can do, though, is change the rules. Shift the location of the fight onto territory that is easier to defend and redefine the terms of the contest.

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Corporate Giving Benefits Everyone Involved
by Danielle Dawson in Organizational Behavior
Americans are known for their philanthropic spirit, and corporations are no exception. Hospitals, libraries, colleges - our nation itself - have benefited from selfless donations in the spirit of our collective quest to help others.

Having just celebrated National Philanthropy Day on November 9, we have much to be grateful for. With overall giving rising substantially from $303 billion in 2009 to $358 billion in 2014, charitable giving is clearly rebounding from pre-recession levels.

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Rudeness Contagion: Office Jerk is Costly to All
by Kim McCarthy in Human Resources and Personnel Management
It may sound like a line from the next undiscovered Dr. Seuss book, but this is not a joke. That jerk at work could be costing you more than just your sanity. What exactly could the person be robbing you of? Money. That's right, cold hard cash.

How? Through a process called rudeness contagion.

More than a decade ago, researchers in the field of management proposed a phenomenon called the spiral theory of incivility, which suggests that when someone is treated disrespectfully that person will respond by being rude back, which then generates a self-perpetuating cycle of disrespectful behavior.

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Creating a Unified Brand Experience
by Michelle M. Smith in Strategy and Planning

Every day, the digital world shines a spotlight on brand inconsistencies.

Employees and potential candidates might get one impression, customers and partners may have another experience, while investors and influencers might see an altogether different picture. The result is brand confusionor worse, brand conflict.

Customers expect much more from brands nowthey increasingly require a holistic and authentic experience across all the ways they interact with an organization. The most effective way brands can engage millennials is to have an authentic purpose, and other customers also expect to engage more actively in a two-way dialogue with brands.

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Stress is a Heavy Topic
by Debi Silber in Personal Growth and Development
Stress can contribute to aging, weight gain, illness and disease. In other words, stress makes us sick, fat, old and exhausted.

Have you noticed that whenever you stress about the venue where youre hosting that all-important fundraising gala or whether you picked the right caterer, youre prone to gaining a few pounds, especially around the midsection? Thats because theres a link between stress and weight gain.

By understanding when youre prone to stressing and what to do about it, you will not only feel healthier, but also a little lighter on your toes.

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How Can I Create a Competitive Edge in 5 Minutes?
by Sam Horn in Sales and Marketing
The only danger is not to evolve. Entrepreneur Jeff Bezos

A special Vanity Fair issue entitled How the Web was Won featured an interview with Jeff Bezos, who pointed out that Amazon was successful from the start, despite nay-sayers who predicted failure.  In fact, they were flooded with orders, so Jeff and a colleague pitched in to pack up books.  After working on the floor for awhile, his colleague turned to him and said, This is really killing my knees and back.

Jeff suggested, We should get kneepads.

His friend shook his head and said, No Jeff, we should get packing tables.

That example shows its possible to come up with a better way to do business in seconds.

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Are We Having Fun Yet?
by Tim Leman in Personal Growth and Development
Are todays executives doing a good job at balancing their work and their personal lives?

I connected with Bruce Gobdel and Tony Hutti to gain their perspective. After long and successful careers in management and public accounting, they are involved in mentoring leaders as part of  the executive roundtable groups they facilitate.

Hutti said, "I think some are getting better at balancing business and personal, but they need to give the same level of intensity to their personal life as they do to their business. I think they don't realize that they could use some of the same tools they use in their work - core values, regularly scheduled meetings, or key metrics. I know it might sound kind of formal, but it works!"

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The Science of Serenity
by Marlene Goldman in Human Resources and Personnel Management
Fitbits, yoga mats, boot camps, health spas and fitness apps are just some of the signs reflecting a country obsessed with physical and mental well-being. The wellness trend spills from private to corporate life, combating endless sedentary hours in front of a computer or in a boardroom.

Wellness, which spans alternative medicine, healthy eating, preventative health, corporate wellness programs, fitness and more, was tagged as a $2 trillion global industry, according to SRI International in 2013, and more recently was listed as a $3.4 trillion market and one of the fastest-growing industries on Earth, according to last year's "Global Spa & Wellness Economy Monitor," a report published by the Global Wellness Institute.

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How Marketing Leaders Can Help Sales Get Higher-Level Business Relationships
by Fred Diamond in Sales and Marketing
Ive spent a lot of time thinking about this important topic because many of the product marketing and go-to-market plans Ive developed and executed for clients have depended on the sales teams having strong business relationships for the plans to achieve success.

Because of this need, Ive often told the CEOs Ive supported that their marketing leader should be counted on to be the sales reps first line of advice in building higher relationships. Here are three reasons why:

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Continuous Performance Improvement
by Paul Gorman in Innovation and Change
Albert Einstein defined Insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  But there is a way out of this predicament.  Einstein also said, Logic will get you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere.  
Between 1948 and 1975 Japanese industrial engineers, Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda, developed what became known as the Toyota Production System (TPS).  This system was originally modeled after American supermarkets.  

In American supermarkets, the customer shops, taking items from his shopping list off the shelf, and purchasing them.  Then the store re-stocks the shelf with just enough inventory to fill up the space.  This was the genesis of just in time manufacturing...

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"You Might Have Something I Might Want to Buy"
by Rick McPartlin in Customer Service and Quality
How completely things have changed.

It used to be my job was to get in front of a lot of people who I had never met and PITCH them hard and close them even harder.

If I did that, the result would be a bunch of those people would give me money for something they didn't know they needed, I would get a big commission check and so would my boss.

Things have changed so completely no one even has a phone at home.  No one delivers me a phone book to look those people up, and if I find someone to call, I am blocked.

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Can You Really Afford Hiring Another Bad Salesperson?
by Colleen Stanley in Human Resources and Personnel Management
Re-runs can be fun to watch, except when you are the star in a movie titled, He Had a Good Resume. The plot really isnt new and is predictable.  

Sales manager hires a new salesperson with high hopes that this candidate is the one. The resume is good and the interview even better. Finally, youve hired a salesperson that is a self-starter, great team player and consistent quota achiever.  

The plot thickens when the new salesperson settles in and unpacks his bags. The sales manager starts to hear excuses for not making quota. And of course, none of the excuses have anything to do with the salespersons efforts.     

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Do you even need to market your business?
by Rob Weinberg in Sales and Marketing
Over the past 30+ years Ive come across many arguments why you should or shouldnt market a business. Arguments for include increasing profits, increasing visibility and controlling the message. Arguments against include lack of time, lack of competition and controlling the budget.

The old saying: The best reason for advertising today is the sale youll make tomorrow says it all. There is always a tomorrow to prepare for, more competition coming down the road, and seeds that need to be planted to grow your company.

Still, many people dont get it.

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