Sometimes in life, you make a move that is uncharacteristic but required.
I picked up the phone, dialed the number in trepidation, and asked for the president. The assistant on the other end said, “Please hold.” There was a pregnant pause before the assistant returned and said, “I’m connecting you now.”
The conversation was one I’ll never forget. Why? First, let me offer a quick backstory.
In 2001, I started my career with The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) in Montgomery, Alabama. My mission was to collaboratively develop annual business plans with our bottling partners, align on direction, enable marketplace execution, and lead marketing asset relationships.
Marketing assets are a fantastic way to connect with consumers and a source of pride for The Coke System (i.e., the Company and its bottling partners). The assets give Coca-Cola access where consumers make memories and develop an emotional connection with the brand. Think about the last game, concert, or amusement park you attended. More than likely, you drank a Coca-Cola product while enjoying the occasion.
For context, these are three things you should know about marketing assets.
Marketing assets are expensive. TCCC and its bottling partner typically split the investment. Hence, there was always a push to gain a return on the investment.
Marketing assets are hyper-competitive. Over time, TCCC accumulated many strategic marketing assets. I always heard that we had an embarrassment of riches. But that meant our primary competitor was forever eager to convert an asset from red (i.e., Coke-owned) to blue (i.e., Pepsi-owned) when partnership agreements expired.
Marketing assets are exigent. Big word, I know. It means that business relationships require attention. Effective partnerships stem from being connected and creating mutually beneficial value. If the parties disconnect, one may take the other for granted, engagements become transactional, and the relationship will eventually erode.
Enter the #1 Marketing Asset
The University of Alabama was the number one marketing asset in the state of Alabama, and The Crimson Tide had a legendary partnership with Coca-Cola.
For example, Head Football Coach Bear Bryant used to drink Coca-Cola and eat Golden Flake potato chips during his weekly TV show. The ultimate product placement. And “Great Pair Says the Bear” was the ultimate product endorsement.
But after Coach Bryant retired and the University of Alabama Football program’s success moderated, so did the relationship between Coca-Cola and the UA Athletic Department.
A head coach carousel ensued with names like Perkins, Curry, Dubose, Franchione, Price, and Shula. But no one could restore Alabama Football glory. The only exception was Gene Stallings, who rebuilt the program, regained national prominence, and won the 1992 National Football Championship.
Simultaneously, Pepsi slowly and quietly built relationships behind the scenes with the University of Alabama’s key stakeholders. And Pepsi improved its market share across the State of Alabama, making inroads with customers and consumers.
Everything changed slowly and then all at once. The tipping point came in 1998.
The Coca-Cola and UA pouring rights contract expired and went out to bid. Quite possibly the worst thing to happen to the current contract holder. It typically means that costs will rise, and it’s a signal that relationships are fractured.
By the way, I bet you are wondering what’s the big deal about pouring rights. They grant a supplier the right to provide beverages (fountain and bottled drinks) and marketing exclusivity in the sports venues.
Astonishingly, Pepsi won the pouring rights contract for 10 years. Even after all the history with Coke.
Then, Pepsi was shocked.
When they signed the pouring rights agreement, they assumed that the University would also award them the out-of-venue media and marketing rights.
Not so fast.
Coca-Cola held the out-of-venue media and marketing rights in a separate contract with Crimson Tide Sports Marketing. CTSM was responsible for all the game radio broadcasts and weekly coaches’ TV shows. They purchased the media and marketing rights to advertise out-of-venue from UA and, in turn, sold them to sponsors like Coca-Cola.
The not-so-good news was that Coca-Cola was left hanging by a thread. Coke was out-maneuvered by Pepsi to win the pouring rights.
But a circumstance of pure serendipity happened. The CTSM contract enabled Coke to maintain a relationship with UA and allowed our team to market the Coca-Cola and University of Alabama association.
We were still in the game.
But the marketing and media rights contract was about to expire soon. We needed to think and act fast.
Earlier, I referenced UA as the number one marketing asset in the State of Alabama. Why? Consumers connected with the brand more than any other. If we could effectively market our association, it’d increase Coke’s brand preference, translating into improved sales.
But how? We recognized that the CTSM contract was in jeopardy. It was up for renewal, and we knew Pepsi would pay anything to secure the contract.
Our job was to show UA how Coca-Cola creates value beyond just a big payment. We needed to flex our marketing muscle, which was our competitor’s weakness.
A Bridge to the Future
In pre-strategy development meetings with UA, we discovered they were concerned about the next-generation Alabama fans. The football team’s legacy was fading, and a nationwide survey found that Bear Bryant would all but be forgotten by the class of 2007. UA needed to establish relevance with younger consumers. We could help them do just that and build a bridge to the future.
Our team developed a comprehensive, four-pronged marketing approach to connect and recruit the next generation focusing on four levels: Statewide, the City of Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama campus, and Gameday. Our campaign slogan was “Tide Tradition.”
We presented the strategy and campaign to the UA Athletic Director, Assistant AD, and Head Football Coach. They loved it. They also wanted to see if we would execute it.
That’s when the fun part began.
We implemented a statewide Fall Football promotion featuring the University of Alabama logos on Coca-Cola packaging and point-of-sale material, invested in Tuscaloosa customer agreements and community interests, executed on-campus dining and vending programs, hired a campus ambassador, and activated “Coca-Cola Kickoff on the Quad,” an interactive gameday experience including inflatables, games and sampling.
The marketing strategy was successful. We literally changed the landscape. As a matter of fact, the plan was the first of its kind. It became the model for other College and University marketing activation nationwide.
One thing remained undone. The CTSM contract. While the renewal was verbally awarded to us, it wasn’t ever signed by the University. At any time, UA could have pulled the plug and awarded the media and marketing rights to Pepsi.
A group of Coca-Cola executives, myself included, met with Dr. Robert Witt, the University of Alabama President. Our meeting agenda included sharing Coke’s successful marketing strategy and how our partnership benefited the University. We also wanted to explore Dr. Witt’s thoughts about the future and how we could help.
After an enthusiastic and productive conversation, Dr. Witt produced a 6-pk of LSU Football National Championship 8 oz glass bottles. He said the 6-pack was sent by LSU’s president, reminding Dr. Witt of LSU’s recent accomplishment. Dr. Witt paused and said, “I want to bring both of these back to the University of Alabama, a national football championship and Coca-Cola into Bryant-Denny stadium where it belongs.”
Then, Dr. Witt revealed a surprise. He said his nephew worked for Coca-Cola. “Who?” I asked. “He’s your campus ambassador and is having a wonderful experience. Thank you for all that you’re teaching him.” I had no idea we’d hired Dr. Witt’s nephew. Another moment of serendipity.
Dr. Witt concluded our conversation with an appreciation for the historic partnership between UA and Coca-Cola and what we were doing to build a bridge to the future. He looked at me and said, “If you ever need anything, just call.”
We left the meeting not knowing how valuable his last statement would be.
Six months went by. I continued to press CTSM, the UA Assistant Athletic Director, and University General Counsel to sign the agreement. I ran into barriers and delays. It seemed as if some backroom deal with Pepsi was in the works. I felt responsible for securing the contract so we could all move on.
Then it hit me. Why not call Dr. Witt and take him up on his offer to help? I was aware of the political damage I might do by going over the heads of key stakeholders. But desperate times call for desperate measures. This move would be uncharacteristic of me but required. Time to take a risk.
Out of impulse, I picked up the phone, dialed the number in trepidation, and asked for Dr. Witt. The assistant on the other end said, “Please hold.” There was a pregnant pause before the assistant returned and said, “I’m connecting you now.”
“Hello, this is Bob Witt. How can I help you?”
I re-introduced myself and told Dr. Witt about our challenge with the contract signature delay. He said he understood and would call me back in 10 minutes.
Ten minutes seemed like an eternity. All kinds of thoughts rushed through my mind. Surely, I’d overstepped my boundaries and would aggravate my constituents. Bottling Partner leadership won’t look kindly on my approach. University personnel will call for my replacement. I may be demoted or even fired. All unlikely, but those are the thoughts that went through my head.
The phone rang. I picked it up and, with a frog in my throat, said, “Hello.”
“Preston, Bob Witt again. I talked to the University General Counsel, the contract will be signed today, and final copies will be sent to you immediately.”
I was dumbfounded.
I replied, “Terrific, and thanks for your help. I spent almost two years working to have the contract signed. It only took you 10 minutes.”
What Dr. Witt said next always stuck with me. Wait for it…
“SOMETIMES YOU JUST GOTTA SQUEEZE THEM BY THE BALLS.”
I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. He snickered as well. I thanked him for his help, and we hung up.
What a game-changer!
Dr. Witt accomplished what I couldn’t in a matter of minutes. He had the authority to make something happen. Dr. Witt fulfilled his offer to help. He applied the pressure (i.e., squeezed) as required.
The signed contract arrived the next day. And I never faced any repercussions for going around the UA key stakeholders.
That was the last time I talked to Dr. Witt before moving to my next role. I’ll always look back fondly on those times. Not only did the Coke team out-maneuver our competition and secure the media and marketing rights, but we also created a beachhead for a future team to eventually regain exclusive athletic venue pouring, campus dining / vending, and marketing rights in 2018.
What I Learned
Position matters. I’ve often said that influence is leadership without the crutch of authority. But influence has its limitations. While I’d established credibility and grown my influence with UA key stakeholders, I couldn’t ever advance the UA marketing contract to the final signature on my own. No amount of influence I tried to exert mattered. Dr. Witt held the top position at the University of Alabama. He had the authority to make things happen with just one short phone call. A friend once said, “It’s good to know the king.” Dr. Witt’s position mattered.
Persistence pays off. It took two years from receiving the verbal agreement to the day the contract was consummated. And it took another 15 years for Coke to restore its storied relationship with UA. The team’s persistence paid off. If we didn’t fight hard to create the beachhead for the next group to advance the relationship, the campus and city would have indeed turned blue. And Coke would have missed what the future held, Nick Saban and six National Football Championships.
Providence plays out. Looking back, I’m amazed at how circumstances unfolded during my years working with the University of Alabama. In the above article, I referred to providence as serendipity. But events like Coke retaining the marketing rights even though Pepsi thought they secured them or hiring Dr. Witt’s relative as our campus ambassador without our knowledge of who he was weren’t mere chance. I’m convinced there is a higher power at work engineering all circumstances. The hand of providence played out.
Visit my website to discover more lessons I learned in the marketplace trenches: prestonpoore.com
 Mike Price was hired to replace Dennis Franchione for the 2003 season. He was quickly dismissed after a well-documented off-the-field incident. My only memory of Coach Price was when we held a Coca-Cola Fall Football sales rally in the Bryant-Denny Stadium locker room. Price was our guest speaker, and our intent for him was to inspire our local sales team. When it was time for him to address the crowd, he pulled out a Pepsi-Cola 20 oz bottle, threw it against the lockers, and yelled, “F**K Pepsi.” We were in shock. Not the way to start a talk. Extremely unprofessional. I shook my head in disbelief and wondered what we were getting into. Needless to say, Coach Price didn’t last very long.
 Working with The University of Alabama was a personal passion of mine. When I was young, I watched Alabama football games with my dad. He always pointed out Bear Bryant on the sidelines and talked favorably about him. And most of my extended relatives lived in Alabama. When I moved to Alabama in 1989, I was told I needed to pick Alabama or Auburn (IYKYK). I picked Alabama. But most importantly, my bride went to The University of Alabama. We were season ticket holders and attended the 1992 National Championship game in New Orleans versus The University of Miami. I guess you could say I married “it” (i.e., a passion for all things UA). All of this before working with Coke and leading The University of Alabama relationship for a few years. It was an honor.> Read More
We can often trace the most significant challenges in our life to just a couple of wrong decisions. Effective decisions require clear thinking and accurate perceptions of the situation and how the world works. It’s easy to allow mental errors to lead to making the wrong choice.
It’s not always easy to make a wise decision, but there are things we can do to increase our odds.
Consider these mental errors that can degrade your ability to make a wise decision:
- Failing to consider the long-term implications. Short-term thinking can lead to long-term challenges. Many of us focus more on the short-term than the long-term when making decisions. We choose the yummiest food to eat or the most enjoyable way to spend the next hour.
- In most cases, we are better served by considering the long-term implications of our decisions.
- Survivorship bias. We often look at the most successful people as a template for success. We assume their way is the best. However, this fails to consider all the people that follow the same strategy but fail.
- For example, many successful people failed to graduate from high school, but it would be wrong to assume that education isn’t helpful to success.
- Many people have put in the same time and effort as LeBron James or Michael Jordan but failed to become professional basketball players. Perhaps there are other reasons for their success that you haven’t considered. A different approach might work better for you.
- Some of the most successful people in our society have been successful despite their process. It’s not always easy to identify when this occurs.
- Overemphasizing loss versus gain. Humans are naturally more sensitive to losing something they already have than motivated to gain the same item. For example, most of us are more bothered by the prospect of losing $100 than we are motivated to earn $100.
- This frequently happens in new businesses. A brand-new business is highly motivated to grow. However, once it reaches a specific size, the owner begins to worry more about protecting what the business has gained than developing further.
- Confirmation bias. We have a natural tendency to interpret facts and situations in a way that supports our current beliefs. For example, highly religious people tend to interpret all good fortune as proof of the presence of God.
- Those that believe that hard work is all that matters will ignore any other factors that contribute to success. They will also ignore the concepts of luck, talent, and mentorship.
- How are your current beliefs tainting your interpretation of your life and your environment?
- Fatigue, stress, and other forms of discomfort. You’ve probably made more than your fair share of ineffective decisions while being tired, overstressed, or physically or psychologically uncomfortable. Discomfort of any kind can negatively affect the decision-making process.
- Personalization. Sometimes, we take things too personally. We might believe that we didn’t get a promotion because the boss didn’t like us. But sometimes people make decisions that have nothing to do with us.
- Everyone has things going on in their life that we don’t know about. It’s a mistake to assume that everything is about you.
Fewer unwise decisions result in greater success and happiness. We create many of the challenges we face in life by making wrong decisions. Try to remove as many bad decisions from your future by understanding what leads to faulty decision-making. Make significant decisions and enjoy a great future!
Advice to Young Professional: Learning to make sound decisions is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.
Do you want to quickly advance in your career? Make better decisions.
Learn how from my real-life experience and practical tools in the daily devotional, 21 Days to Sound Decision Making – How to Grow Your Credibility and Influence Through Making Better Decisions
- Click here to learn more: https://prestonpoore.com/21-days/
- Download the eBook on Amazon now: https://tinyurl.com/y4pdf6mj
It may be one of the most important decisions you ever make.
Thanks and take care,
Preston Poore> Read More
Have you ever dealt with a head-scratching, complicated problem, and you weren’t sure how to solve it? I have… Here are my story and seven steps to solving unsolvable problems – if you follow them, you’ll gain credibility and increase your influence…
The anticipated announcement was made: The large beverage company I worked for agreed to purchase two competitive beverage companies. The incoming water and juice brands were fantastic and complementary acquisitions to our existing portfolio.
However, the acquisitions came with complications and created internal competition. Each acquired company had its own sales team and developed its business plan. My role was similar, focusing on my company’s legacy brands.
During my tenure, I’d established strong relationships with the bottler. However, my influence slowly eroded as the new sales teams began integrating. The new team members leveraged exciting incentives, expensive dinners, and premiums to woo the bottler. Excluding me, they tied up meeting times and market visits. Our mutual bottling partner became enamored with the shiny new penny and took their eyes off the ball.
Execution of all the legacy brands began to slip, and total sales stagnated. I discovered that the newly acquired companies only contributed 10% of the bottler’s total revenue; all of the legacy brands I represented contributed 90%. I determined that our problem boiled down to focus; we wouldn’t make our collective business plan if we didn’t re-calibrate our focus on the 90%. At the same time, we needed the newly acquired brands to flourish.
I began considering my alternatives. The only solution I could think of was to fight fire with fire. I’d need to double my efforts. Get back in the game with more attractive incentives, fancy dinners, and premiums to woo the bottler’s attention back. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with this approach but believed there was a solution somewhere. I didn’t know where.
I was stuck…
I prayed to God and asked for wisdom to meet the challenge and identify a game-changing solution.
Then it happened… Inspiration hit…
I remember watching my all-time favorite movie, the 1959 Academy Award-winning Ben-Hur. There’s a scene when the movie’s main character, Judah Ben-Hur, observed a chariot race practice. The chariot was pulled by a team of four strong and fast horses. However, the chariot driver lost control of the horses as the team ran wildly down the track. Just before the chariot approached a curve, Ben-Hur commented that the chariot would never make the turn.
And he was right… The horses ran straight through the turn and off the track. When asked how he knew that the chariot would run off course, Ben-Hur told the owner he raced in the Roman circus. Based on his experience, he observed that the horses were strong and fast. Still, they weren’t positioned to leverage their individual strengths. They were running as individuals, not as one. Ben-Hur rearranged the horses with the slower, more steady horse on the inside to anchor the team during turns and the fastest horse on the outside. The owner said, “Show me.” Ben-Hur raced the chariot around the track in record time without incident to the owner’s amazement.
The parallel was striking to me. We have a strong team of people representing our brands to the bottler. I wondered, “What if we worked together and everyone achieved their goals? What if I harnessed the team, positioned them by strength, and we ran as one?”
Said another way, if you can’t beat them, join them.
After some internal alignment and planning, I invited 15 new brands and bottler representatives to a groundbreaking “Brand Partner Summit.” Our objective was to build trust, open lines of communication, initiate collaborative planning, enable dynamic execution, make the plan, and most of all, stem internal competition.
The meeting’s theme was “Running as One.” We began our time together horseback riding in the Smokey Mountains, a chance for everyone to connect outside the office and get acquainted. After the team-building exercise, we gathered for a Roles and Responsibilities dinner—all of the individuals shared how they added value to the company. The next day, I opened the Summit with the Ben-Hur chariot practice movie scene and asked the team to consider how we begin to run as one. Participants started making connections and collaboration recommendations as we reviewed each other’s business updates, priorities, and plans.
Ultimately, the Brand Partners concluded that our initiatives needed to be integrated into a comprehensive monthly Sales Plan. The Sales Plan captured and communicated all of the execution priorities allowing the Brand Partners and our bottling partner to be on the same page.
The Sales Plan solution mitigated internal competition, collaboration improved, execution excelled, and everyone hit their business plan. We ran as one. So much so that our Brand Partner Summit and Sales Plan were deemed a best practice and adopted by other parts of the company.
If you’re faced with a problem like I was, I recommend you follow my seven steps to solving challenging problems:
- Define the Problem. Articulate the problem in writing. Distill the problem into its simplest form. For my above example, the problem was focus. Identify the implications and consequences of not solving it. Also, ask repeatedly why? that is a problem. This will help identify root causes.
- Provide Context. What is the history of the challenge you’re trying to solve?
- Believe There is a Solution. Have the attitude that all problems are opportunities and can be addressed. Be creative, use your imagination, and brainstorm with others.
- Identify Alternatives. It’s always best to determine multiple solutions and evaluate which one will best solve the problem.
- Develop a Recommendation. Based on your alternative evaluation, allow the best one to surface.
- Plan and Act. Once the recommendation is made, put a plan in place and execute it.
- Pray. I highly recommend praying and seeking God’s wisdom when faced with problems or decision-making for the person of faith. The Bible says, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all”. (Proverbs 3:5-6 The Message)
The surest way to gain credibility and increase your influence is to solve problems. If you define the problem, provide context, believe there is a solution, identify alternatives, develop a recommendation, plan and act, and pray, you will become a leader who makes a positive difference.
Do you want to discover more about establishing credibility and gaining influence to make a positive difference? Please visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
Preston> Read More
Ever get one of those meeting invites, and something seemed a little fishy? I did.
The meeting invitation subject line read, “Summer Promotion Planning Session.” The purpose of the meeting was for directors, like me, to present our Summer promotion plans to the Marketing Vice President, Edward. No other description or direction was provided.
While Edward was a brilliant and accomplished marketer, he had a reputation for being volatile and flying off the handle at any given moment. He’d been known to verbally abuse his team when someone didn’t know the answer to one of his questions or work didn’t meet his expectations.
I had a number of my peers ask me why we were summoned to the planning session. I told them I had no idea but encouraged them to have their facts together; the meeting could be rough.
Because of a scheduling conflict, I attended the meeting virtually. I logged onto the meeting website, and I could see my peers sitting in the quiet room, looking a little apprehensive. Edward stormed into the room, sat down, and asked who wanted to go first. One poor soul raised his hand to volunteer.
Before the first presenter could get a word out, Edward began peppering the individual with questions. Edward’s tone was condescending and became more intense as the dialogue progressed. The first volunteer didn’t have some of the answers to Edward’s questions.
Edward stopped the individual in mid-sentence and said, “Either you are incompetent, or you don’t care. Which is it?”
I felt like I was watching a shark that smelled blood and began circling its prey.
After a long, uncomfortable pause, Edward said, “You obviously don’t know your business. What are you worth? I ask again whether you are incompetent or don’t care. Which is it?”
The first volunteer’s face was bright red, and steam came out of his ears. However, out of fear, he didn’t respond.
Edward turned to the next person and demanded, “How about you? What are your Summer promotion plans?”
As the next person bravely began presenting, Edward pounced on the individual with pressing questions. The person became flustered and couldn’t spit her words out.
Edward sarcastically asked, “You too? Either you are incompetent, or you don’t care about our business. Which is it?”
Edward then proceeded to ask everyone around the table the same question. When he finished, Edward stood up and said, “I think I made my point. Everyone had better know their facts next time!” He stormed out of the room just as quickly as he entered.
I was spared the berating because I attended virtually, and Edward didn’t call on me. I couldn’t believe what I just saw. It wasn’t right. No one should be marginalized like Edward did to the team; it was utterly demoralizing.
The next day, I told my manager what had happened. He told me that he’d already heard the negative feedback and assured me that Edward’s behavior would be addressed.
Then, I got a wild idea that I could positively influence the situation. I thought to myself, “Meetings don’t have to be like the one Edward just held. They can be productive, effective, and constructive all at the same time while treating people with respect and dignity. Why don’t I volunteer to lead the next plan presentation meeting and show there’s a better way?”
I mentioned the idea to my manager. He paused and asked, “What will you do differently?”
“I’ll let people know upfront what’s expected of them, create a positive environment where ideas can be exchanged, and feedback can be given,” I replied.
My manager smiled and said, “I like it. Let’s give it a try on our next go around.”
To make a long story short, my approach was successful. I reached out to different VPs to align with my proposed format. I developed and provided a plan report template outlining information expectations. Lastly, I facilitated a planning meeting with all of our cross-functional partners in a very positive environment.
I received great feedback, including a note from someone that worked for Edward, “the plans shared today were excellent, and definitely instilled the confidence for success against this critical initiative. Thank you for all of the collaboration with your customers in building out the details.”
Because I influenced the situation, which led to a positive outcome, I was asked to lead other innovation launch and program plan presentation meetings. I proved that there was a better way to do things by treating people with dignity and respect.
As Christians, we are called to be salt and light (i.e., to influence). The Bible says,
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth… Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16 The Message)
It’s our job to shine and influence the world around us. So, what does it mean to be salt and light, to influence? Vocabulary.com defines influence as “the power to have an important effect on someone or something. If someone influences someone else, they are changing a person or thing in an indirect but important way.” To be influential means having the ability to shape and mold people, events, or the environment around you. Influence is leadership.
How do you grow your influence?
- Build Trust. Walk with integrity and establish people’s confidence in you – Do what you say you’ll do. Trust others and be trustworthy.
- Care About Others. People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Treat people with dignity and respect. Take time to listen to people genuinely. Also, determine what interests others and motivates them, and help them get it.
- Lead by Example. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
In the above story, I influenced the situation and the people around me by building trust with the team, creating a positive work environment, treating folks with dignity and respect, and leading by example.
How about you? When you see something that isn’t right, do you have the influence necessary to make a change? If not, what will you do to become influential and make a positive difference in your world (e.g., business, community, school, or church)? If you build trust, care about others and lead by example, you’ll become an influential leader.
Do you want to discover more about becoming an inspirational leader? Please visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
Preston> Read More
How to Grow Your Influence through Insights.
“Hi, Preston. Guess what? I got the job!” Linda said with a glow in her voice.
“That’s awesome, and congratulations.” I asked, “what was the deciding factor?”
“Influence. It was my demonstrated ability to influence and drive results,” Linda replied.
She continued, “I told them about the blueprint you taught me: 1) Know your business, 2) Know your partner’s business, and 3) Have an assertive agenda. I walked them through specific examples of how I applied the blueprint and the positive results the team achieved.”
I was thrilled. “Fantastic Linda! I knew you’d begin to realize your potential if you learned how to influence others.”
Linda replied, “I can’t thank you enough. I appreciate your help in developing my analytical skills and ability to lead well. I’ll never forget it.”
“My pleasure,” I said. “You’ve got what it takes. Best wishes in your new role.”
When I hired Linda, I saw tons of potential. She had great people and communication skills, but she lacked an essential ingredient… Analytical skills. To grow her influence and differentiate herself in the industry, Linda needed to learn how to evaluate market data, develop impactful insights, identify value-creating opportunities, and solve problems.
Why are analytical skills so essential and a critical part of influencing? W. Edwards Deming, the father of Total Quality Management, once said, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.” I agree. Over the years, I’ve observed many sales associates or company representatives rely heavily on relationships to influence others without the use of facts. Relationships only go so far. Don’t get me wrong. I believe the ability to connect with people and develop lasting relationships is paramount.
Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.W. Edwards Deming
But, I also believe that you can move beyond relationships and develop strategic partnerships by leveraging analytical skills. You’ll have a more significant influence on others if you demonstrate how to make more money, solve problems, or become more productive. One must develop analytical capabilities and turn insights into action. You’ll become a valued business partner if you couple relationships and analytical skills. Without this differentiating combination, you’ll just be another salesperson, consultant, or company representative without a seat at the table.
Linda and I invested time walking through internal and external reports to develop her analytical capabilities. I taught her the metrics and measurements critical in evaluating business performance and identifying opportunities. Then, I showed her how to translate the information into valuable insights and turn the insights into action. Lastly, Linda was assigned projects where she was required to review data, draw conclusions and develop solutions.
As her confidence grew and skill developed, she began sharing her insights and potential revenue-generating solutions with her business partners. Over time, her insights, ideas, and solutions were adopted, and the team started delivering results. Linda’s credibility and influence grew as she moved from a business relationship to a strategic partnership.
What was Linda’s blueprint for success?
- Know your business. Understand your organization’s strategies, plan, priorities, and business performance.
- Know your partner’s business. Understand your business partner’s strategies, plan priorities, and business performance.
- Have an assertive agenda. Identify gaps in your collective business plan, develop solutions, and create action plans.
Linda’s influence grew over time. She made a difference and helped her business partner deliver positive results. You can do the same by coupling relationships and analytical skills. In the context of your ability to connect with people, you’ll be able to help businesses make more money, solve problems or become more productive. You’ll become a strong influence and always have a seat at your business partner’s table.
Want to discover more about developing strategic partnerships and becoming a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
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“Rob is one of the most difficult people to get to know and very hard to work with. Over the past 20 years, few company representatives successfully developed a relationship with him and influenced him. He can be very disagreeable and non-inclusive.”
My peers told me this as I took my new role working with our partner company’s new Senior Vice President, Rob. I had the demanding task of building trust with him and becoming a valued team member.
Early in my new role, I was invited to a meeting at Universal Studios in Orlando. I looked at the invite list and saw that Rob was attending the conference. What a perfect opportunity to get to know him.
As I arrived in Orlando, I received an email that the team was gathering in the hotel lobby at 3 pm and were going to the amusement park together. I arrived in the lobby along with 30 other meeting attendees. Everyone was there except Rob. I asked where he was, and they said he was running late.
We decided to wait a few minutes, but most of the group became restless, and folks slowly left a few at a time. I asked some of the team members before they went if they wanted to wait on Rob, and they said, “no, we want to have fun at the park. We’ll catch up with him later”. I considered going with them but decided to stick it out and wait for him.
About 15 minutes later, Rob came running into the lobby. The small group that remained greeted him after he checked in. He told us that he wanted to go to the park and asked where everyone else was. We told him that the group went ahead to the park and that we could catch up to them. He nodded his head in disappointment.
Then, he pulled out a map of the amusement park. Rob enthusiastically showed us how he’d mapped out all of the rides he wanted to take, including Harry Potter, Spider-Man, and the Dueling Dragons roller coaster. He confessed his love for amusement parks and said he’d been looking forward to the team building afternoon in the park for quite a while. I exclaimed, “what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”
Because the group was small, I had the chance to hang out with Rob in the park all afternoon. Waiting in lines and enjoying the rides together, I got to know him. We talked about families, hobbies, travel, current events, and even a little business on the side. Rob warmed to me and appreciated the small group going to the park with him.
Over time, I earned Rob’s trust. He began including me in meetings, and anytime I emailed Rob with a question or sought his help, he’d email me right back. He always picked up the phone whenever I called. Why? I attribute it to intentionally connecting with him at the park. I made an effort and took advantage of the opportunity. Who knew Rob was such an amusement park enthusiast?
My challenge to you is never to miss an opportunity to connect with others. It may seem uphill, but it’ll be worth it. If you show genuine interest in them, you’ll gain their trust and build lasting relationships.
Do you want to discover more about the value of connecting with others and becoming a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
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I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.
As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.
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I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work. I invite you to subscribe to my blog and learn how to develop Christlike character, influence your culture and change your world.