Next Generation Sales

I am currently reading a book that in my opinion is essential reading for everyone in a sales or marketing role including the Senior Executive Team (SET).

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 08.17.28That book is ‘From Selling to Co-Creation’. Click here for a summary from one the UK’s most respected school of management.

The book addresses the fundamental question of co-creating and delivering value to customers in increasingly challenging contexts.

If you have read ‘The Challenger Sale‘ then you are already thinking in a new way about demonstrating your value as a salesperson.

This book takes selling to the next level, or is it any longer selling? If so, who is the new breed of salesperson and what skills must they possess. Before we get too carried away let’s understand that customers still buy ‘stuff’ so vendors will sell ‘stuff’ and that is going to go on. The next level creates value that is not about ‘stuff’ rather it is about ‘something I find hard to describe’ so I share an example now.


What is an expression of co-creating value in these increasingly challenging contexts?

What has one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers and a tiny (in comparison) software company have in common?

Why did that automobile manufacturer invest a sum of money more than twice that of the software company’s last reported quarterly revenues?

That company is Ford and here is there rationale:

“Expanding our business to be both an auto and mobility company requires leading-edge software expertise to deliver outstanding customer experiences,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO. “Our investment in Pivotal will help strengthen our ability to deliver these customer experiences at the speed of Silicon Valley, including continually expanding FordPass – our digital, physical and personal mobility experience platform.” Click here for the story.

I’m trying to figure how that conversation got started and I doubt it was through a conventional buyer – seller process. It would be really interesting to know who approached who and the context of the first conversation.

Who are the co-creators?

I don’t know but there are two people that count, Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO and Rob Mee, Pivotal CEO.  I would add to that very short list Bill Ruh, CEO, GE Digital.

Who else?  Help me out here.

Google mobile-friendly test

Google has given a boost to mobile-friendly websites with its new mobile-friendly algorithm.

Why is this important?

It boosts your ranking in Google search and if you are vying for Page 1 position then click here to take the Google mobile-friendly test.

Step 1

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Step 2

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Step 3

All depends on the result.

If your website is mobile-friendly watch for an improvement in your search ranking. If not, get help.

The number 1 risk to business

Your run out of cash. That is a risk but one you can at least control.

Number 1

The number 1 risk to business today is one you don’t control and you may not know if you have already been exposed or when you will be. It is not a question of IF, rather a question of WHEN.

That risk is cybercrime.

Who’s on the line?

So who is accountable for this pernicious risk?

Here is the result of a 2015 survey by the NYSE.


What are the consequences?

There is potential for significant costs and reputational damage and that is why cybercrime must be on the Board’s agenda every time they meet.

In the UK the maximum civil fine that be imposed by the ICO is £500,000.

Under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (effective May 2018) that increases to Euro 20M or 4% of global turnover whichever is the greater. That fine will take some explaining to shareholders.

The other damaging risk is to the market value of the business. That market value is in part based on reputation and can account for 38% (FTSE100) and 36% (FTSE350) of the valuation of a business.

You can now understand why this is on the CEO’s desk. If a business lost 38% of its value to a known risk like cybercrime then you might call it bad luck but more likely call for the head of the CEO.


Thanks and recognition to Kate Miller of Project Associates (UK) Ltd who presented this information at a meeting of the FT Non-Executive Directors Club on 10th May 2016 and for the sponsorship of Santander of the meeting.

Fighting back (breaking news)

On 10th May 2016 reported that IBM Watson was to lead the fight on cybercrime.  Click here to read the article.

Watson Personality Test

I learned that IBM have created a Watson Personality Test. If you like to write as I do and have 6000 words or more then you can submit text to Watson and it will deliver in seconds your individual personality insight. What is that? It is an insight into how and why people think, act, and feel the way they do. The Personality Test applies linguistic analytics and personality theory to infer attributes from a person’s unstructured text.

I gave it a go. First I used my Twitter feed fboncloud.

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The test also provides a ‘busy’ sunburst visualisation.

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Next I was intrigued to compare the output of the Personality Test for my Twitter feed with a book that I co-wrote.  Here is the summary and sunburst for the book.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 06.18.53and the sunburst

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There I have been completly undressed by Watson.

Click here to receive your own Watson Personality Test.

The Millennial Parent

I read many articles that millennials are going to rule the world of work and their familiarity and competency with tech will wipe out the old brigade (anyone over 50 you’re ‘out’) and we will have a new order. I look forward to that day as I have a son and he is a millennial.

The old way

I was reflecting on the help that I received from my loving and generous parents when I started out at work. I remember they were practical with advice on transport, workwear and the gift of a briefcase.

The new way?

What is the new order for the parent of millennials? Well in my case I’ve always kept abreast of latest trends and perhaps fortunate that I work in the tech industry so that is easier done. The world is digital and one way to earn money is to consider what digital opportunities you can create. So in my case, the shiny briefcase that sent me off to work is now a relic. The new shiny object is a digital business. So as a millennial parent where do you start?

Three things came to mind in my millennial parent journey:

  1. What are my resources, money, time, and expertise?
  2. Do I have real interest in a digital business to sustain my involvement?
  3. What could I contribute that would be useful?

At the risk of being indulgent I’ll get to the point.

It is reported that is getting tougher for young people whatever their level of education to find work and government actions support that view. You can help them with a deposit for a house or subsidise their rent and perhaps support them to create a digital business. Think about it some more as you consider why the BBC is giving a computer to 1 million school children. Well done BBC. Is the millennial parent as I describe them simply the Bank of Dad or something more?

More, of what?

My experience is that it is more:

  1. I’m staying relevant by learning from millennials. I am happy to talk Facebook, Snapchat, Periscope and Twitter alongside my peers who talk LinkedIn and ‘so and so at the golf club’.
  2. The millennial needs the resources, contacts and experience of the parent. I am not as redundant as some ‘it is all about the millennial’ suggest I am.
  3. It makes me happy and proud.

This is just my own story and I’ve written it to encourage other millennial parents to share their stories. So what is your story? Tweet me at fboncloud.

The digital business is up and running. Click here to see what we have achieved.

Are you cultured?

Is the word ‘culture’ overused in the vocabulary of business? Does technology shape the culture of business now that we rock up to the job with a mobile phone and one or two other devices that are essential to get through our work. So, does culture and tech intersect?

I’ve written books for Microsoft (subject Office 365) and Google (subject Google Apps for Work) and skirted the subject of culture. So I set about putting that right and reached out to an expert in this field. That expert is Kim Wylie Change and Transformation Lead Google for Work who understandably makes references to Google in the text that follows.

Lessons in Culture

The connection between technology and culture has long been recognised and chronicled on a quarterly academic journal founded in 1959. It is an official publication of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) (isn’t Wikipedia wonderful) published by Johns Hopkins University Press with contributors principally from leading academic institutions.

In the present day, business conversations frequently reference innovation, competition, change and it is seems like the frequency of change is increasing and that has an impact on people. If, as many believe, people are the number one asset of an organisation then people need the umbrella of a culture that supports them in a demanding world. With technology part of business DNA the triangle of people – process – technology has an intersection with the culture of an organisation.

Defining Culture

A recent study by PWC found that 67% of business leaders agree that their organisation’s culture is critical to business success. Culture can be defined in many different ways, but is essentially a combination of the behaviours, values and attitudes that exist with an organisation. Google Apps can play a part in helping to change elements of an organisational culture by allowing employees the ability to communicate, collaborate and share more openly than they would have been able to do with traditional technology. According to Matt Cain from Gartner “Enterprises that focus on creating a more engaged workforce through a more social, mobile, accessible and data driven work environment will gain significant competitive advantage over companies that continue with a traditional IT orientation.”

Culture in Action

Having a strong and positive organisational culture will help improve levels of employee engagement, increase the likelihood of innovative ideas coming from anywhere in the organisation and reduce levels of turnover. A recent study done by Raconteur found that 88% of business leaders who believe their company does foster a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration also say employee morale and job satisfaction are high.

  • Have you thought about how your organisational culture impacts your business?
  • Are people motivated to share information with one another?
  • Where does innovation come from?
  • Are all employees empowered to innovate?
  • Is teamwork and customer focus at the forefront of everything you do?

A Culture of Sharing

Many of the organisations that have Gone Google Apps have reported significant positive impact on their organisational culture. They’ve discovered numerous benefits come when people share information openly via Google Sites, Docs, Sheets and G+, when people connect face-to-face on hangouts, where they celebrate successes through sharing on G+ and when all employees are given the channel to communicate with leadership and suggest ideas for how things could be improved.

Cultural Leadership

Collaboration, openness and transparency form the foundation of a strong culture, and this is exactly what Google Apps is designed to enable.  However having the right technology in place is just one component of organisational culture change. Changes will also need to be made to behaviours and this must start with the behaviours of leaders. Leaders will need to lead by example and start sharing and encouraging conversations with all levels of the organisation to demonstrate that openness and transparency is the new way of operating.

The Cultured Organisation

How would describe the culture of an organisation that you work for, or a customer of, or supplier to? What words do you use? Culture can be hard to define and therefore hard to put into words.

Some words that come to mind: dynamic, innovative, caring, fun, trustworthy, respectful. These words that talk to culture are the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that employees share and use on a daily basis in their work.

With technology ingrained in our work it is hard to imagine that it is not influencing culture. How that translates into the words above is something that will continue to interest me.

Big thanks to Kim Wylie.

Cloud Leaders

Who is leading the charge for cloud computing?

There is strong line up with Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft, IBM and many more. Who is doing the most to educate?
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Microsoft has teamed up with IDC to produce a series of eBooks that remind me of my own efforts as an author to educate my readers about cloud computing and specifically Microsoft Office 365. That book had the title Thinking of…Microsoft Office 365 and the Business Conversation?  Ask the Smart Questions. I only wish I had the idea for ‘The Booming Cloud Opportunity’ as a title.

Part 1 of the eBook series can be found when you click here. Scroll down the page to find the link to the eBook.

Digital Detox

Interesting to follow the experiment at a school where pupils and teachers attempted a digital detox. So what happened? The ask was to switch off Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram et al for one week.

Here is a link to follow but before you go there what is your guess as to:

The number who dropped out immediately?

Those who lasted a few days then caved in?

Those who lasted a whole week?

Some spoke about having to telephone their friends to keep in contact, something they didn’t normally do. That must be have been frightening, trying to think of something to say!

Of course what we are getting an insight to here is to how our young people will communicate when they enter the world of work. Big culture changes ahead!

I’m reflecting on this experiment as I wrote earlier about FOMO being the Fear of Missing Out, every social media addicts worst fear.

8 seconds


Are you easily distracted and keep checking your mobile phone for the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)? We are all having challenges digesting tech and the hosepipe of information that is overwhelming. The Nobel laureate economist Herbert A. Simon wrote as far back as 1977 that ‘a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention’. Full text of that quotation below.

In evidence of Simon’s observation, The US National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests the average human attention span declined by four seconds between 2000 and 2013, down from twelve seconds to eight. Read about it in The Daily Telegraph it has a nice picture as an incentive to read the article.

Have you tuned out yet?

The consequences: we are attention poor, suffering from information indigestion and the capacity to process or understand it. I write books and now rethinking how I write. People are busy and easily distracted and just want soundbites. Are we dumbing down? I think we are.

But you know what; no way am I giving up my mobile phone and computer. I will just have to … I know, do what everyone else does. Carry On Suffering.

All manner of fact

Learned fact.

Full text of the Herbert A. Simon quotation: ‘In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.’

Useless fact:

8 Seconds is a 1994 American film and its title refers to the length of time a bull rider is required to stay on for a ride to be scored.

Interesting fact:

In Chinese culture the word of the number 8 sounds similar to the word which means “prosper” or “wealth”.

Good to end on a positive note, not that I expect I still have your attention.

Social Selling howler

It seems that social selling is not understood by everybody and that can surface in a number of ways.

Conversation trail: Customers are involving me later in their buying cycle and it is much more difficult for me as a salesperson. I mean, as we speak, I could be qualified out of an opportunity by a customer that I don’t even know about. Have you heard about social selling?  I don’t want my customers on my Facebook.

It is one of those moments, do you stay in the conversation or bale and it set me thinking; if salespeople believe that exposing their Facebook to customers is social selling then what do they need to know?

Free resources:

1.  Read about changing buyer behaviour and customers’ expectation of their vendors.  Have you read The Challenger Sale?

2.  Is you job getting more or less complex? 5 Trends you should know about that will affect you in 2016.

3.  Pay attention to your LinkedIn profile. Get involved in Groups and post discussions and comment on other’s posts. Did you know there are 400M people on LinkedIn and less that 1% post anything. Join an elite group. Build your brand.

4.  Be active on Twitter. Follow your customers and people. You think Twitter is not relevant. Think again.

5.  Check out free resources from companies like Artesian who have free resources so you never make a howler per the conversation above.

Basic stuff. Or is it?