April 6, 2020 at 10:00 AM

How Do You Prioritize Customers?

As we climb out of this economic fall, every company will be faced with tough decisions on how to support the customer base they have.  Plenty of businesses will be affected (both positively and negatively) and you will need to react to those realities, which may be different than the ones that you are facing today.

This is no different, however, from the regular cycles that your business, whatever business you’re in, takes normally.  It’s just to the extreme.  So the habits and workflows that you establish now can help you pull through and move forward.  And the habits you have that are sustaining you will also be critical.

How do you prioritize your time? 

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April 3, 2020 at 10:00 AM

How Do You Prioritize Your Customer Base? Further, Why Would You Need or Want To?

Let’s Look at Where You are Now Before We Assess Where You’re Going. 

We believe that all companies are not the same.  We built our own company with the kind of values and responses that we think we would want to have if we were our own customers.  In software, honestly, it’s not hard to be better than average or even superb.  Most software companies run on a ticket / help desk system that strands the average customer-caller in a loop of uncertainty with prompts and dead ends.  Reaching someone that can actually help you with your issue is rare.  For us, putting a live person on the end of every call, not a help desk, but someone who can actually help you helps us to raise our Net Promoter Score (NPS) – see yesterday’s blog for information on that – and beat all of our competitors for service. 

So, now we turn the tables. 

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April 2, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Let’s Look at Where You are Now Before We Assess Where You’re Going.

Let’s Look at Where You are Now Before We Assess Where You’re Going. 

We’ve been working through a high-level view of the industry that you are in (people you compete against) and the market that you serve (people you could sell to).  We’ve explained the distinct differences between the two and shown how people often cross wires on these, using the word market, usually, interchangeably to refer to both your competition and your prospect base. 

This is the macro-level view.  On the market side, we had you run through a PEST analysis, since the market is shifting dramatically due to current events right now.  And while the word PEST might seem negative, we want you to remember that there is always opportunity in crisis.  This might be the time to retool your business, rework your processes, double-down on specific initiatives that differentiate you and make you more valuable to possible customers. 

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April 1, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Have You Considered a PEST Analysis? You Should.

It’s rare to say “you should” to someone until you really know their circumstances.  Even then, I would suggest you should only do so when given permission.  It is stronger to share experiences that remind you of a time that you faced a similar situation and got through, no matter the result.  This Gestalt mindset provides just the right atmosphere for anyone to learn. 

For the purposes of today’s conversation, however, Gestalt doesn’t play a main concern.  That’s why we say that if you haven’t done a PEST analysis, you should. There are few times in history where this type of analysis might actually yield such dramatic results for so many. 

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March 31, 2020 at 10:00 AM

What Market Are You In?

Have you clearly identified the difference between your industry and your market?  So many of us use these words interchangeably and they are not the same. Your industry is the companies and products that you compete against.  It’s the segment of products that do what you do. 

A market, on the other hand, is your potential customer base.  It’s all the people who might buy what you make or sell. 

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March 30, 2020 at 10:00 AM

What Power Do Companies Like Yours Have?

We’re spending the next few weeks talking big picture.  Everyone is heads down, with good reason.  But there is opportunity in times of crisis for those who look up and out.  This is not a grab for market share but rather a time for reflection on what you do really well so you can come out of this time better, faster and stronger. 

Specifically, we’ve been speaking about some strategic questions to ask yourself about your industry – the people you compete against for that share of the market.  We’re looking, here, for a means of differentiation.  A way that your products and services can stand out in a defined market segment and attract new customers. 

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March 27, 2020 at 10:00 AM

What Else Can Do What You Do?

Notice that we didn’t ask who else can do what you do.  The question here is what else can do it.  The difference of a few letters means the world.  When you are asking who else can do what you do, you are talking about your competitors and we traditionally think about companies that are set up like we are.  If you are a hospital, you would look to other hospitals.  If you were an auto-manufacturer, you would look to other car builders. 

That all changed this week.  Kaas Tailored, a furniture manufacturer in Seattle, Mukilto, spent a few days (days!) figuring out how to rework its processes from wood building to sewing masks for the Seattle area Providence St, Joseph hospitals.  Suddenly, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) manufacturers have a new competitor.  Now, I don’t think that Jeff Kaas and his family are moving wholesale to surgical equipment, but he is iconic in how he pursued this.

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March 26, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Where's the Power in Your Buying Model?

We’ve been talking about business strategy this week.  While everyone else is dealing with crisis, some of us need to be dealing with strategy.  We need to “rise from the ashes” when all is said and done, stronger and faster than before.   Where there is crisis, there is opportunity. 

I watched a webinar the other day around leadership in crisis.  Warren Rustand led a dialogue around how to lead and adapt through these dramatic times of change.  It boiled down to 3 things for him. 

Clarity of Vision.  Have a strong vision for what you want or need to do and stay the course.

Certainty of Intent.  Push forward in a meaningful direction on that vision every day.  Make it your priority.

Live by Your Values.  Know what your core values are and work towards and within them every day.

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March 25, 2020 at 10:00 AM

You Have the Tools and the Questions. Now You Need a Plan.

Over the last several days, we’ve talked about questions around productivity and growth when production is down.  We’ve also talked about tools that you can put together to increase the communication of your team.  It’s critical for you to spend building your productivity and efficiency.  While the business may be “sleeping” the general is awake, planning the coming war.

What is your plan for the time that you are spending out of the office? 

How are you going to move your business forward when you are not there?  It’s very possible.  You can learn new skills.  You can work on your current list of to dos.  But there are ways to move yourself forward during this time.  Retrench and take a different path. 

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March 24, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Next, You Need a Tool

Yesterday, we talked about a few questions that you might ask while you’re gone from the office or struggling through the current crisis.  These questions actually work during any downturn (in time, money or economic situation).  We considered what your current role was in your business around product, cashflow, people and messaging.  This really follows the 4 key pillars of business in strategy, culture, cash and execution. 

During a time like this, you need a tool to connect you to your team.  Whether that is to keep the conversation going or to start one up, it helps to have a tool.

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March 23, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Action Plans Start Here with a Question

Strategic plans aside, we’re “sheltering-in-place.”  How is your business going to function without you there?  How will you get restarted?  How will you build back? 

I have so many questions that are going mostly unanswered by the news.  We are so entrenched in the today that no one seems to be looking out.  Looking down has never been the answer for success.  Great leaders never spent their time in the here-and-now. 

We at CIMx want to be the voice of hope and help for those people that are also unsure.  We want to give you some things to think about and do while you’re work from home or even just struggling with others being gone.  For any of you who are going into sheltering in the next 24 hours or few days, we want to provide the right reading for you to be working on moving ahead. 

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January 15, 2020 at 10:00 AM

What We Learn From Failures

I almost hate to start the year off with failure, but it’s so critical that we’re going to talk about it for a few weeks.  It’s the number one thing we hear from prospects in almost all industries, from the largest manufacturers in the world to the smallest shops.

Companies regularly tell us their last software vendor didn’t deliver what was promised or even a working product at all.  The ideas of “take the money and run” or “if we didn't deliver it for you, we could build it for you” in this space, unfortunately, is not uncommon.  We know.  We’ve rescued multiple companies mid-implementation and we can all learn a lot from their lessons.

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December 31, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Thinking differently in 2020

I’m going back 20 years for this one.  In 1999, sitting on the cusp of the millennium, we were all focused on the rollover of the year from the –99 to –00.  Would it cause the damage that many were predicting?  (It didn’t.)  Would planes “fall out of the sky?”  (They didn’t, but I remember distinctly that the major US airline presidents rode throughout the day and night to prove that the turn of midnight wouldn’t do anything horrible.) 

1999 was a great year for many in the tech sector.  Those who didn’t plan well, however, had a different experience.  Many of us saw the bubble coming; businesses put tons of cash into their IT budgets for 1999 to avoid any issues at the turning of the year.  This wouldn’t continue.  Tech businesses that ramped up for that volume but didn’t plan for the backside of that investment in the 2000 budget year struggled and many saw the “dot com” bust. 

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December 27, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Gratitude

Over the last year, I have established a daily morning routine that includes gratitude.  I wake early, sit at the kitchen counter with the first coffee of the day (it won’t be the last), read a short passage (I change the book each year) and then write for a few moments of gratitude. 

It can be easy to think of a few things (I choose 3 each day) that I am grateful for.  What’s more meaningful for me, and more difficult, is knowing why they are meaningful.  Being able to see the journey behind the gratitude.  What was possible because of that event?  What was I able to accomplish that I otherwise might not have been?  What was it that made my life more meaningful, joyful or full?

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December 10, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Decision-Making Model Part 2

In the first piece on the Decision Making Model, we focused on data acquisition.  Data is critical in manufacturing.  In today’s world, things move faster and cost more money than previously.  There is no time or money to spare for mistakes, overruns, underruns or lost time in production.  Data acquisition is one of the keys to performance here.  Data is the new oil in your processes.

Now, we need to talk about information.  Once you’ve got the data you need, you’re going to be hungry for information.  What does the data mean?  What can you do with it?  How can you use it most effectively (and here, we mean both from an investment of time and money)?  Spreadsheet data is not very useful – it’s just numbers.  Data with its context provides information and useful feedback.

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