Positive Disruption using Hard Trends and Soft Trends

Strategies based on uncertainty come with high levels of risk, but strategies based on certainty dramatically reduce risk and produce superior results. This is the difference between Soft Trends and Hard Trends.

If you don’t like a Hard Trend, there isn’t a way for you to change it. However, if you don’t like a Soft Trend, you can easily change it to your advantage. I’ve discussed the three digital accelerators responsible for today’s rate of exponential change, transforming every business process in a short amount of time. This is a Hard Trend, while a Soft Trend would be whether you will transform your business processes.

Knowing where to find certainty makes the future more visible. For example, let’s say you want to start a smart watch company. The smart watch business is already filled with competition; however, by using Hard Trends, you can stack the deck in your favor.

Using the certainty provided by demographics, you can create a successful watch business based on the demographic Hard Trend of aging baby boomers and their parents. Simply design a watch for people who are 70 and older — and keep in mind the fact that it will likely be their children who buy it in an effort to keep their parents healthy and safe.

You could design the watch with sensors to detect blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, pulse, temperature and much more. If the wearer falls, the accelerometer in the watch will activate an alarm and send a text message to his or her caregivers. The watch’s GPS and digital assistant will help a wearer with Alzheimer’s get home — and, more importantly, make it possible for caregivers to find him or her from anywhere.

By using the certainty of Hard Trends, you can see new opportunities to create winning products in industries that may already seem saturated.

Next, let’s look at an example of a technological Hard Trend using speed and bandwidth to grow sales. Domino’s Pizza is using a voice-activated personal assistant to increase the speed and efficiency of ordering pizzas. The app even has a “pizza tracker” that allows you to follow the process of your pizza, from creation to delivery. They’ve taken this technological Hard Trend a step further and have created a partnership with Ford Motor Company, making it possible for you to order your pizzas directly from your Ford! With these simple steps, Domino’s has gone from being just a food company to a technology company.

Today, it seems I hear more and more people complaining about government regulations. But what these individuals are missing is that these same governmental regulations are actually Hard Trends that offer visible opportunities. Take the case of the state of California’s requiring nonfiction reading for first through third graders, with a two-year window to comply. I recently met a savvy entrepreneur who capitalized on this new law. She contacted the largest school districts in the state to see if they were interested in getting help meeting this reading requirement. The districts were very interested, which made it easy for her to secure outside funding to develop and supply the online reading products schools need to comply with the new state law.

This entrepreneur took the Hard Trend of a seemingly impossible-to-navigate governmental regulation burdening teachers and administrators and created a new business opportunity out of it. In part thanks to having guaranteed sales by partnering with the large school districts, she cornered the market and successfully developed and supplied the online reading products by the required deadline.

Remember, strategy based on certainty has low risk and high reward. Base your strategies on certainty, on the known future ( the Hard Trends), as well as on the Soft Trends you can manipulate, and you will build something that will not only survive but even thrive in the years ahead.

Merely hoping that disruption is not on your horizon is not a strategy; it is avoidance. Paying attention to a certainty is a strategy. If you don’t make this perspective shift today, it will be far more difficult to lead from behind tomorrow. As dizzying as the pace of change has been these past few years, that pace will only increase.

It’s not uncommon to limit yourself by focusing on all the things you don’t know and all the things you can’t do.

Instead, create the habit of starting with a list of all the things you do know and all the things you can do! Every time you run into something you aren’t certain about, focus harder on the certainties involved.

Turn Disruption and Change Into Opportunity and Advantage with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization. 

Apollo 11 Moon Landing – Doing the Impossible

Several years ago, I was speaking in Jordan at a leadership summit when I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Armstrong. Of all the people I’ve met, I must admit that this meeting was the one I was most looking forward to. Given that fact and Mr. Armstrong’s incredible legacy, myself and millions, if not billions, of others around the world were saddened by his passing. In his memory, and in lieu of the 50th anniversary of the successful Apollo 11 moon landing, I wanted to share a story he shared that I believe has a profound message for our time.

As I travel around the world as a strategic advisor and keynote speaker, I have the privilege of meeting many amazing people, including presidents, prime ministers, and Fortune 500 CEOs, just to name a few.

Several years ago, I was speaking in Jordan at a leadership summit when I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Armstrong. Of all the people I’ve met, I must admit that this meeting was the one I was most looking forward to. Given that fact and Mr. Armstrong’s incredible legacy, myself and millions, if not billions, of others around the world were saddened by his passing. In his memory, and in lieu of the 50th anniversary of the successful Apollo 11 moon landing, I wanted to share a story he shared that I believe has a profound message for our time.

Impossible Roadblocks

He said that in the years of research, innovation, and testing that led up to his first footsteps on the moon, there were many times that NASA engineers and scientists would reach an impossible roadblock. During these times, they would say, “We will have to halt the mission. There is no scientific solution to this problem.” Or, “We have tried everything imaginable to solve this problem, and we can’t solve it.”

He went on to say that every time NASA’s best thinkers and scientists reached an impossible roadblock, they were told, “We are going to the moon.” And every time, they would look at each other and say, “OK, got it,” and then they would try again and again. Soon, they would have a solution that worked. He said this happened many times, and each time, the impossible turned out to be possible once they were reminded of the impossible mission they were on.

Your Biggest Problem

This concept is a variation of my strategy of taking a problem and skipping it. Take into consideration your organization’s biggest problem, and you will come to realize that it is likely not the real problem; it is merely a roadblock, much like NASA’s several roadblocks on its way to the moon.

In your organization, “going to the moon” is likely a metaphor for accomplishing something that no other organization has accomplished before. Perhaps your organization is implementing my Hard Trend Methodology, through which you pay close attention to the Hard Trends shaping your industry and pre-solve your customers’ problems with a new product or service they never knew they needed. From an outsider’s perspective, that new product or service initially sounds outlandish; however, the organization acted in an anticipatory manner in realizing what a customer needed before it existed.

NASA going to the moon, solving problems to get to the moon, and piloting our country far ahead in the space race was NASA anticipating. Having a compelling vision for where you want to go or what you want to do—something that is bigger than any one person, something that might even seem impossible—is the kind of vision that can cause people to want to do more, want to reach higher, and want to keep trying.

Remember, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not stand up in front of all those people in Washington, DC, and say, “I have a plan.” Rather, he said, “I have a dream.” And his dream was not to get elected or make vast sums of money. His dream was to better mankind. Putting a man on the moon was similar. It was a dream we could all share—a vision that would not have us question the cost—so we did it.

When Neil Armstrong was about to take that first step off the ladder and onto the moon’s surface, he did not say, “One small step for a NASA astronaut, one giant leap for the United States.” He knew that going to the moon was a human achievement for all of humankind.

Whether you are the leader of a country, a company, a business, or a school, when you find yourself faced with something that seems impossible, remember how we put a man on the moon—by keeping a dream, an articulated vision of what we want to do, as a picture in our mind’s eye. You can take your organization’s biggest problem and simply skip it, propelling the organization to new heights and accomplishing things for the greater good of humankind. Human history has taught us that nothing is impossible when we have a big dream that can be converted into a shared vision.

Learn more with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization– get your copy here.

The Dangers of Legacy Thinking

Every successful company and organization inevitably must confront a powerful question:

Is what got us to where we are helping us move forward or holding us back? Your company or organization may be thriving, but is this record of success sustainable and can you keep going?

Every successful company and organization inevitably must confront a powerful question:

Is what got us to where we are helping us move forward or holding us back? Your company or organization may be thriving, but is this record of success sustainable and can you keep going?

Maybe you’re noticing kinks in your armor or a drop-off in your sales. You’re thinking and acting as usual, but something is misfiring.

This is what I refer to as “legacy thinking.” If left unchecked, legacy thinking can pose enormous obstacles to your continued success—or worse.

Legacy Technology—Dangerous but Also Diverting      

Legacy thinking has a better-known cousin—legacy technology. The issue of legacy technology is old news—in more ways than one.

As you probably know, legacy technology refers to old forms of technology that are simply no longer optimal. This includes everything from software, operating systems or almost any technology once groundbreaking but now well past its prime.

The issues reach beyond outdated technology. Trying to get by with legacy technology can be very expensive, from the cost of operating the systems themselves to paying people to make certain nothing goes wrong, an inevitability. For example, Delta Airlines’ entire fleet in the United States was temporarily grounded because of computer problems—the second shutdown over a period of six months also shutting down the carrier’s website and mobile apps.

A more serious example occurred last year when the British bank Tesco shut down online banking after 40,000 accounts were compromised.

Those major headaches do not mean legacy technology is a problem in and of itself—it can cause a dangerous comfort in legacy thinking.

Legacy Thinking Defined

Like legacy technology, legacy thinking refers to thinking, strategies and other actions that are outdated and no longer serve you to the extent that they once had. This can be problematic if legacy thinking accounted for much of the success you’ve been able to achieve.

Many organizations can point to business principles, strategies and other ways of thinking that underscored success. One example is agility—the ability to respond quickly to changing events and market conditions. Reacting as quickly as possible helped many organizations climb to the top of their industries. Being agile, both internally and externally, seemed like a bulletproof way to approach things.

However, we are now in a period of transformational change. Whether products, services or the marketplace, change is not slowing down, which means legacy technology is becoming outdated faster as well.            

The same is occurring with legacy thinking. As the rate of change increases, even the most agile of organizations will be hard-pressed to keep up—let alone leap ahead with new ideas and innovations—and agility will likely prove to be less effective.

Take that reasoning and apply it to other forms of thinking and strategies that may have served you well in the past. Are they moving you forward or holding you back? If they’re more a hindrance, that’s legacy thinking. 

Legacy Thinking—Changing Your Thinking Changes Your Results

The first thing to understand about legacy thinking is that it isn’t necessarily all bad. Overcoming legacy thinking doesn’t mandate erasing every strategy, idea or leadership concept you ever used in the past. Instead, identify those ideas and strategies that continue to serve you well while pinpointing others that may have worn out their value.

Agility in and of itself is not something to be completely discarded. There will always be fires and other immediate issues that warrant an agile response. However, it’s no longer the silver bullet it once was.

Consider other forms of legacy thinking. For instance, maybe you or some others in your organization are hesitant to embrace new technology critical to your future growth and success. I saw this firsthand when I worked with a major retail organization. Many key figures on the leadership team didn’t embrace the company’s commitment to technology and other elements of the future. Mobile apps, internet shopping and other innovations made the company’s future seem bleak.

To remedy the situation, management made lateral moves with some individuals so their attitude wouldn’t hinder the company’s vision, while others were tasked with identifying strategies, ideas and tools that would serve the company’s progress well. The result was twofold—not only did the company effectively separate elements of harmful legacy thinking from their workflow, but those once-hesitant executives saw firsthand how powerful those tools and ideas could be. They were walked into the future—and they liked what they saw.

The next time you’re considering the dangers of legacy technology, include the pitfalls of legacy thinking. Just as old software shut down an entire airline, legacy thinking can cripple your organization. Don’t forget that there’s always the opportunity for an upgrade in the way you think and act.

Redefine and Reinvent Your Career Before It Leaves You Behind

Going forward, the one and only thing you can depend on is transformation. Technology-driven business process transformation is a Hard Trend; it will happen, and it is happening now! However, the truth of the matter is that actually utilizing this Hard Trend to redefine and reinvent your business or your career is a Soft Trend; some will do it and prosper, others will not. For those who want to use the forces of change and transformation to grow and prosper, this article is for you.

We are no longer in a period of rapid change. We have now entered an amazing inflection point where true transformation happens. For example, we changed how we listened to music and catalogued our media when we went from CDs and floppy discs to all our smartphones holding music, photos, files, email and access to information. Technological change transformed our processes in these industries.

Going forward, the one and only thing you can depend on is transformation. Technology-driven business process transformation is a Hard Trend; it will happen, and it is happening now! However, the truth of the matter is that actually utilizing this Hard Trend to redefine and reinvent your business or your career is a Soft Trend; some will do it and prosper, others will not. For those who want to use the forces of change and transformation to grow and prosper, this article is for you. It is crucial to understand that you can’t go backward, and you can’t stand still. You can’t keep doing what you’ve always done and expect to thrive, even if you are improving at that rhetorical process. The only way to survive and thrive is to continuously reinvent and redefine everything you are doing.

Redefining and Reinventing

Transformation is an accelerated and magnified force of change. Redefining and reinventing is a way of harnessing that wild force and applying it to a product, a service, an industry, or a career. Redefining and reinventing mean seizing the opportunity to rewrite your own history—before digital disruption does it for you.

Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich reinvented an entire marketplace back in 1983 when they redefined the family station wagon with an entirely new automotive category—the minivan—that would continue to dominate for the next quarter century. At the time, station wagon sales were not growing, even though baby boomers were in their prime childbearing years and the nation was bursting with new families. Why? Because even though baby boomers needed a set of wheels with substantial family room, they did not want to look and act just like their parents.

A Powerful Strategy

Fast forward to more recent times. Basic minivans are not as cool to the next generations having families, as Generation X and millennials grew up riding in their parents’ minivans, and history tends to repeat itself: they do not want to look and act just like their parents, either! Now automotive companies produce what is called the crossover—sporty alternatives to minivans capable of safely and conveniently hauling both families and large purchases from the store. As it was a stroke of flash foresight with baby boomers, it occurred yet again, based on the Hard Trend of Generation X, millennials, and their needs (along with the eternal insight that people don’t want to look or act like their parents).

Reinventing has always been a powerful strategy. But in the past, corporate and product reinvention was an option; today it is an imperative. Today, we live in a unique context, where an absurd amount of processing power and bandwidth exists and has completely transformed our concept of stability. In the past, stability and change were two contrasting states: when you achieved stability, you did so despite change. Today change itself has become an integral part of stability. You can achieve stability only by embracing change as a continuous and permanent state.

But even change itself has changed. Information and new knowledge now travel around the world at the speed of light while technological innovation occurs almost as fast as the speed of thought. In this new frontier of vertical change, you cannot just reinvent now and then: to survive and thrive you must be redefining and reinventing yourself, your business, and your career continuously.

If you are a business, you are faced with an urgent question every day: Are your customers learning and changing faster than you are? Because they are changing and learning fast—and if you are not already designing and providing the solutions to the problem they are going to have next week and next year, you are already behind the curve. This truth spans industries and size, no matter if you are an individual, a small business, or a multinational corporation.

The question is whether we will become more anticipatory by paying close attention to the Hard Trends shaping our industries, or wait until we are inevitably disrupted by technology-driven change. Apple, Google, and Amazon are good examples of Anticipatory Organizations, and the results speak for themselves. Will you join them?

Eager for more insights? Find them in my new book,The Anticipatory Organization, now available for the price of shipping.

Disruptive Breakthroughs in 3D Printing

2019 is looking to be a big year for new, disruptive technology. The business sectors that will be most dramatically affected will be healthcare, manufacturing, construction, transportation, aerospace, and life sciences. One industry that is always growing and shows no signs of slowing is 3D printing. It is going to continue to be hugely disruptive to every industry — including yours.

The newest 3D printing technology enables the use of dozens of different materials simultaneously in one print run. Materials range from biological filament and living tissue to chocolate, rubber, metals, plastics, clay, and wood fiber.

We have reached the point where 3D-printed electronics can be successfully integrated with multiple materials and complex shapes. In short, we have entered a world in which many things can be 3D printed — right in front of you. And now the speed at which printing can occur is where we are headed next.

The newest types of 3D printers are up to 40 times faster than original additive manufacturing machines released in the past five years. These astounding devices can reduce production timelines of very functional pieces of equipment from days to mere hours. The possibilities are endless.

A known 3D printing example in the medical field is dental implants or 3D models of teeth orthodontists use to determine the care needed for braces. Likewise, the mechanical design process of 3D printing will become more autonomous in the coming years, taking elements from pre-existing designs to create new ones.

Using 3D printing, sophisticated engineering projects like printing a car can be designed, built, and brought to market faster than ever, rather than the typical year or multiyear-long development cycle. This concept is being referred to as 4D printing, where time is a factor in the process. But with all this shortening of what used to be long-term projects, many fear that this means sacrificing quality to the machines. This is not true.

When breakthrough technologies arrive, they do notsimply replace older ones. We integrate the old and the cutting edge to create new value, and that in turn alters how we relate to the older technology without erasing that older technology completely. Transformation is seldom a simple case of new tech replacing old tech.

3D printing has not and will not fully replace traditional manufacturing; it will instead be integrated with it to provide even more value. Jobs of years past will be repositioned in new ways to work alongside 3D printing in manufacturing, especially given the speed at which 3D printing increased coupled with the importance of the parts 3D printers are creating. This increases the need for employees to review and ensure quality of the items created.

Technology-Driven Change Coming to a Market Near You

We’re about to witness an explosion of new applications. Rapid prototyping, as well as personalized manufacturing, has allowed manufacturers to innovate with new materials and new designs. The spectrum of products from 3D printers has reached household goods, jewelry, clothing, human implants, jet engine parts, and much more to come. Mainly, healthcare has become one of the bigger ones in the past five years.

I’ve spoken a lot about the Hard Trend — a future fact that is inevitable — of the aging baby boomer population. Personalized medical devices will fit better, perform better, and perhaps reduce medical costs, enabling us to replace everything from pacemakers and pins to old organs with new organs created out of organic tissue. Even replacement bones have been 3D printed recently. These are good examples of a technology that will help us meet the needs of a generation getting older.

But the technology and processes have been refined in the past few years — in 2019, they will become even more disruptive in multiple industries. 3D printing truly excels in its ability to enable personalization. This ability to economically create a very limited run of widgets or entire devices — down to a single part run — is what makes 3D a truly disruptive technology. Add in the sheer speed of the process and you have a technology that will drive change.

It’s your turn — how do you envision using 3D multi-material printing? Don’t fall into the trap of seeing this as overhyped, a fad, or something that’s just going to go away. Instead, ask yourself: How do the potentials of this technology excite and inspire you? What will you make of it? And how will it disrupt your industry so you can learn to be more anticipatory?

If nothing else, 3D printing has closed the gap between imagining something and building it.

Which technology innovations could be a game-changer for your industry? Learn how to tell with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

An Anticipatory Leader™ understands that technology-driven change is accelerating at an exponential rate. They have learned from a large list of high-profile Fortune 100 companies that were great at both agility and execution but experienced dramatic downturns. Reacting to problems and digital disruptions, no matter how agile you and your organization are, is no longer good enough.

Anticipatory Leaders know that a high percentage of future disruptions, problems, and game-changing opportunities are predictable and represent unprecedented ways to accelerate growth and gain advantage. They understand that there is no shortage of trends or good ideas, and they ask which trends will happen and which ideas are the best to invest their time and resources in. They have overcome these challenges by becoming anticipatory. This happens by using the methodology of separating the Hard Trends that will happen because they are based on future facts from the Soft Trends that might happen because they are based on assumptions about the future. Then they apply these Hard Trend certainties to their innovation and decision-making processes, allowing them to accelerate innovation and jump ahead with low risk.

Anticipatory Leaders know that it’s better to solve predictable problems before they happen, and that predictable future problems often represent the biggest opportunities. They know that being anticipatory means creating strategic plans that are dynamic and then elevating their strategic plans to keep them relevant and stop them from becoming obsolete before they are implemented.

They have discovered the power of using the certainty of Hard Trends to give the people that report to them the confidence to make bold moves. They know that if what they are saying is seen as opinion, listeners will want another opinion, but if they speak in future facts that are undeniable future truths, there will be far less debate and much more forward progress.

They fully understand that we are at the base of a mountain of increasing disruption that does not happen just once. It comes in waves, giving every organization and professional only two options: to become the disruptor or the disrupted.

By using the Anticipatory Model and methodology to identify the disruptive Hard Trends that are approaching, they now have the opportunity to make a strategic choice to be the disruptor. They know there is no longer a middle ground.

Anticipatory Leaders know that disruption is often seen as something negative, because it happens to organizations and individuals, forcing them to react by changing quickly or face increasingly negative consequences. Disruptors, on the other hand, are creating change from the inside out, giving them far more control of their future. Disruptors are often using technology to eliminate problems or to reduce the friction that creates a less than desirable experience. I refer to them as “positive disruptors” because they tend to use technology to improve a process, product or service. They enhance the customer experience, and in most cases they transform it!

Anticipatory Leaders know the advantage  a shared Futureview® has when it is based on the Hard Trends that are shaping the future – a windshield view versus a rearview mirror view. The Futureview principle states “How you view the future shapes your actions today, and your actions today will shape your future. Your Futureview will determine the future you. ”Change your Futureview, and you will change your future.

For example, it’s clear that Sears, which is closing over a hundred physical stores, has a different Futureview than Amazon, which is opening over three thousand brick-and-mortar retail stores and over a hundred physical bookstores. These two companies’ Futureviews will shape their future.

Anticipatory Leaders elevate their organization’s shared Futureview, based on the Hard Trends and transformational changes that are shaping the future. They know that their Futureview will change, and in many cases they transform the future of the organization for the individuals involved for the better.

Become an Anticipatory Leader™

If you would like to go beyond agility and become an Anticipatory Leader, pick up a copy of my latest bestseller, The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change Into Opportunity and Advantage, and consider our Anticipatory Leader System today.

Trends for Every Salesperson

Every profession goes through changes, especially sales. A certain sales technique may have worked in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work today. To be a top-performing salesperson today and in the future, you must continuously adapt to both market and social conditions.

There are several new business trends taking place—all of which affect salespeople in every industry. Understand what the trends are and how to maximize them so you can maintain a successful sales career.

YOUR PAST SUCCESS WILL HOLD YOU BACK.

People who are in sales long-term tend to be successful. However, success is your worst enemy. Being at the top and doing well means you’re just trying to keep up and meet demand. You’re not looking at future opportunities because you’re busy reaping the rewards of current ones. The old saying “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” should be reworked today to state, “If it works, it’s obsolete.” If you just bought the latest device, odds are that the newer, better version is already in existence and about to be released to the public. We must evolve to stay ahead of rapid obsolescence in business.

TECHNOLOGY-DRIVEN CHANGE WILL DRAMATICALLY ACCELERATE.  

While it’s human nature to protect the status quo, you have to understand that technology is changing the future, customers’ behavior, and your company’s reality. If you don’t change, you’ll be out of a job. As a salesperson, you need to embrace change wholeheartedly rather than resist and hold tight to the past. Spend some time thinking about where these impactful changes are headed. Change causes uncertainty in customers’ minds, so you bring certainty to them when you display confidence in change.

TIME IS INCREASING IN VALUE.

Time is becoming more important to people, because we have an aging demographic of Baby Boomers in the United States. Time gets more valuable as you get older because you have less of it. The world is more complex, with much more for people to do with their time. With so much going on, everyone is increasingly strapped for time. As a salesperson, make your customers feel that talking to you is actually saving them time. The list of time wasters is virtually endless, and these hurt your sales and profits. Prove that you’re a time saver and people will choose you over the competition.

WE’VE SHIFTED FROM THE INFORMATION AGE TO THE COMMUNICATION AGE.

Many salespeople rely on static marketing tools like company websites, flyers, and sales letters. These methods are a one-way interface. The better way is to have your sales messages be dynamic. For example, you could have a contest that encourages people to go to your site and enter. Instead of just telling people to buy your snack product, you can encourage customers to go online and vote for the next new flavor, getting them involved. The key is to generate communication, engagement, and involvement through your sales and marketing efforts. Don’t just hand out information; you want to listen, speak, and create dialogue to capture your prospects’ interest.

SOLUTIONS TO PRESENT PROBLEMS ARE BECOMING OBSOLETE FASTER.

Almost every salesperson has been told to be proactive by taking positive action. Unfortunately, you must wait and see to know if a certain action is positive. Instead, be pre-active to future known events. You need to look at your customer segment and identify what types of events you are certain they will experience, and focus your actions on what will be happening rather than on what is happening. Being pre-active also means that you change the way people think. When you put out a new product, it takes a while to catch on because you’re not actively changing the way people think about how the product can be used. Constantly educate your customers on the value you and your products or services offer.

THE VALUE YOU BRING TODAY IS FORGOTTEN FASTER.

Sell the future benefit of what you do. Most salespeople sell the current benefits to customers who already know what they are. Your goal as a salesperson should be to establish a long-term, problem-solving relationship with customers, not a short-term transaction. Your most profitable customer is a repeat customer, so help them realize the long-term benefit of your partnership. Show them how the products and services you offer will evolve with their needs by selling the evolution of your products and services. Sit down with your fellow salespeople to create a list of future benefits that you have for your customers, and then get an idea of where the product and service developers are heading to think of future benefits preemptively.

SALES SUCCESS FOR THE FUTURE

The more you understand and adapt to today’s current business trends, the better your sales will be—today and in the future.

Are you anticipating future trends in your sales career? If you want to learn more about the changes that are ahead and how to turn them into an advantage by becoming anticipatory, pick up a copy of my latest book, The Anticipatory Organization.

Pick up your copy today at www.TheAOBook.com

5 Sales Strategies Not Found in How-to Books

How do you break through to the next level of sales and become an anticipatory salesperson? Here are six strategies you won’t find in most how-to sales books.

As a salesperson, you’re trained to ask customers what they want in terms of your product offerings. That’s wise advice but it’s incomplete. If you only ask customers what they want and then give it to them, you’re missing the biggest opportunity that has ever come in front of you – the chance to sell innovation.

Technology allows us to do things that were once thought impossible. While it is important for salespeople to ask customers what they want and then deliver on it, all that will do is keep you in the game – not ahead of it.

Chances are your competitors are asking customers the same questions, they’re getting the same answers, and they’re providing the same solutions.

So how do you break through to the next level of sales and become an anticipatory salesperson? Below are six strategies you won’t find in most how-to sales books.

1. Follow the Golden Rule of Sales

The Golden Rule of Sales is to give people the ability to do something they currently can’t do but would want to do if they knew it was possible. In other words, the Golden Rule is to help your customers be anticipatory. It’s called the Golden Rule because it’s much more profitable than simply giving clients what they ask for.

The key is that you have to look a little bit further into your customers’ predictable needs based on where they’re going. Only then you can see unmet needs and new opportunities.

2. Get Comfortable Around Technology  

One stumbling block in selling technology can be that the end user is awkward with new types of technology and related products. But another stumbling block could be that you, as the salesperson, are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the tech-driven solution you could be selling.

This is where the value of a time travel audit, one of the core components of my Anticipatory Organization Model, can prove essential.

3. Practice Anticipatory Selling

Anticipatory selling offers enormous opportunity for those who recognize that the very nature of sales is shifting and, further, that there are strategies to leverage that change.

One key strategy of anticipatory selling boils down to something I call a pre-mortem. Unlike a postmortem, which is an examination after the fact, a pre-mortem is focused on anticipating objections, problems and issues before they occur – and, from there, presolving them before the sales process even begins.

4. Raise the Bar on Trust  

You need to shift from being a vendor to being a trusted advisor. A vendor simply supplies a product. A trusted advisor supplies true advantage.

When you seek that higher ground and become a trusted advisor, your clients trust you more.

Remember that the future is all about relationships. Relationships are all about trust, and you gain trust by earning it. So never teach people to distrust you by stretching the truth or hiding some pertinent information. To differentiate, you need to raise the bar on trust.

5. Commit to Finding the Customer’s Truest Needs

When you focus on redefining what you already have, you can take your current offering and leverage it to new levels. That’s when you become a sales leader. It’s not because of some fast-talking sales pitch, it’s because of your commitment to your customers and their true needs.

So focus on relationships, trust and truth, and you’ll be able to give your customers tools and solutions they never dreamed possible. As a result, both you and your company will attain new levels of success and realize the profit potential you always knew existed.  

Want more tips for anticipatory selling? Get my book The Anticipatory Organization: Turning Disruption and Change into Opportunity and Advantage, available now at www.TheAOBook.com

Will A.I. Disrupt Your Profession?

Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is a technological advance for humankind that has some people excited and others terrified of what is to come. The main concern is rooted in what A.I. will do to jobs, and how we as human beings will be affected by changes in digital and mechanical techniques.

A.I. and other new forms of autonomous machine function are in the process of transforming our personal and professional lives, and this represents a Hard Trend that will happen and a subject I’ve discussed for decades now. We are just starting to see some incredible progression in the A.I. space, giving us a chance to pre-solve problems involved in real-world applications of A.I.

But while function is one thing, the newfound transformation we’ve watched come to fruition is coming from machine learning, a subset of A.I. that enables machines to become better at tasks that were previously dependent on human intelligence. With advances in a machine’s capability to think and learn like people, it’s easier than ever to pre-program physical functions so A.I. can take over menial or mundane tasks. Take, for example, a study conducted by legal tech startup LawGeex, which challenged 20 experienced lawyers to test their skills and knowledge against an A.I.-powered system the company built.

A lawyer is not often considered replaceable by technology or artificial intelligence. In this challenge, the task was to review risks contained in five nondisclosure agreements — a simple undertaking given the group of legal professionals, which included associates and in-house lawyers from Goldman Sachs, Cisco, and Alston & Bird, as well as general counsel and sole practitioners. This lineup should easily have triumphed over an A.I.-powered algorithm, right?

Wrong.

As a matter of fact, the study revealed that the A.I. system actually matched the top-performing lawyer for accuracy, as both achieved 94%. As a group, the lawyers managed an average of 85%, with the worst performer scoring a 67%.

But what about the speed of those decisions? When reviewing the nondisclosure agreements, the A.I. system far outpaced the group, taking just 26 seconds to review all five documents, compared to the lawyers’ average speed of 92 minutes. That is a tremendous spread when compared to the near-perfect accuracy the algorithm performed at in that time! The fastest review time of a single lawyer in the group was 51 minutes — over 100 times slower than the A.I. system! And the slowest time was nearly a standstill pace, as it clocked in at 156 minutes.

While reviewing documents is just one of several parts of the job of a lawyer, this data further proves the Hard Trend that I implore everyone to pay attention to in the years to come. Artificial intelligence is here to stay, and by using machine learning and deep learning techniques, new A.I. systems are learning how to think better and better every day. So the question remains: Are you anticipating how A.I. can be used to automate tasks and do things that might seem impossible today — in other words, disrupt your industry? Are you starting to learn more about A.I. so that you can become a positive disruptor rather than become the disrupted?

For now, according to consultants, the fact remains that 23% of legal work can be easily performed using artificial intelligence; however, there are many aspects of a lawyer’s job, the obvious example being providing an emotional and compelling closing argument in court, that are currently beyond the capabilities of algorithms. While that may be the case today, what’s next? Using methods that I discuss in my latest book, The Anticipatory Organization, you can learn how to become an anticipatory thinker and be more entrepreneurial in the ways you apply A.I. technology to your profession.

Take the example of Alexa, which is utilized in an ever-growing number of applications, from ordering groceries to playing our favorite song during dinnertime. This device, enabled by A.I., has learned our routines and how to serve us better each day by listening to us ask it questions or give it tasks to accomplish.

Netflix and Spotify media streaming services are using A.I. to learn what we like to listen to or watch, and then, using this knowledge combined with their own databases, they can quickly suggest other songs or shows we may also enjoy. Over time they increasingly learn to understand the dynamics of what we like, recognizing our patterns enough to suggest new things to us we will most likely enjoy — very much like a best friend would introduce us to a new music group.

These are just two examples of many A.I.-enabled services that have been integrated into our lives, yet it was not too long ago that applications like these would have been viewed as an impossibility. In a relatively short amount of time they have become second nature in our lives. If A.I. can quickly accomplish a lawyer’s task today, then it can also learn how to accomplish many tasks in industries once thought untouchable by automation and machine learning, such as medicine, finance and design.

As an entrepreneur, it is increasingly important to understand what A.I. can do to create business value. A.I. is presently forecast to reach nearly $4 trillion by 2022. Reacting to this opportunity will only keep you behind and disrupted. It’s time to learn to become anticipatory leaders in our fields, solving problems before they happen, and elevating our thinking to actively shape a positive future for ourselves and others.

If you would like to learn more about how you can better anticipate transformation in the professional world and developments in artificial intelligence, then be sure to pick up my latest book, The Anticipatory Organization. Let me help you take your career to the next level and remain indispensable in an ever-changing technological frontier.

A Coaching Guide On Disrupting The Health Industry: 3 Steps

Ignacio Perez de Bartolome walks us through how coaches can disrupt the health industry

We live in a world of innovation, change and disruption:

  • The largest hospitality chain in the world owns no hotels (Airbnb)
  • The largest media conglomerate publishes no media (Facebook)
  • The largest taxi company in the world owns no taxis (Uber)
  • The largest retailer in the world owns no stock (Alibaba)

The illusion of security is being dilapidated one sector at a time. Century-old companies are struggling to keep up with those created by teenagers in their parents’ basements.

Opportunities are ripe and that is why no sector is out of danger. One day, someday, disruption will set in and bring chaos to what was once a sea of tranquillity.

Health seems heavily protected as a sector because of the tight regulatory environment within. However, it is worth reviewing what happened to industries like hospitality and transportation: both were populated by undying corporate mammoths until the fine day it all came crashing down.

In January, Jeff Bezos shook $30bn off the health industry in one day (Source). He did not do anything particular other than announce plans to provide affordable healthcare to his employees. That is all it took

No lobbying could have protected healthcare companies then.

As a one person coach, you might be intimidated in taking on the healthcare establishment by yourself. It can remind you of David and Goliath, and you would not be that off.

Regardless, making a name for yourself and carving out a piece of the pie as a health coach is easier than ever before. Let me explain why:

In order for disruption to set in an industry there must be a confluence of three factors:

  1. Relaxed regulatory environment
  2. Heightened Price sensitivity
  3. The emergence of new business models.

In essence, for an industry to be widely disrupted there must be loose legal entry barriers, an increasingly displeased portion of the population with the available services, and the technological advancements necessary to make disruptive business operations viable.

So here are 3 insights to make a name out of yourself in the Health industry:

Differentiate Yourself

Being different doesn’t mean being differentiated. The former means you have chosen to be a contrarian without necessarily considering whether your new ways actually add to your clients’ journey. Differentiation comes by knowing what is currently available in the market and exploring innovative ways to serve those neglected by everyone profitably. It is then testing and validating those assumptions through minimum viable products.

For a coach, this is all about getting to know inside and out the reasons why people are fed up of their current healthcare provider, and what makes them want to explore alternatives. It means sitting down with yourself and asking what benefits does your coaching bring to the table, and why should people care about them. All of this helps you plan your go-to-market strategy, create relevant marketing material and optimise your approach with clients.

Innovate

Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” (Source). It is a bold statement that requires constant innovation to be ever achieved. This is because there is always new information to be organised and made use of, in faster and more accessible ways. Innovation brings change but you need to know when to stop and move onto another version of your products or programs. This is very well illustrated in the value/innovation graph below. Notice how without a further iteration in the product, innovation plateaus and the value addition is minimal

As a coach, the only way to be in business for the rest of your career and enjoy predictable clientele is to innovate your coaching delivery. More than anything, when it comes to health and healthcare, technology is a looming threat. The industry as a whole is moving towards less invasive treatments through advanced technology in an attempt to care more for the customer. How can you as a health coach deliver your coaching in ways which force people to pay attention to? What will machines never be able to provide to patients? Innovating along these lines is a tried and tested approach to long-term competitive advantage and worry-free business development.

Caring Sells

Amazon’s mission statement is longer than Google’s by a factor of a couple of pages. The gist of it is that they are on a mission to become the world’s most customer centric business (Source). Why? Because caring sells.

As a health coach you need to be aware of what is shifting in the health industry as a whole. What we are seeing unfold now are shifts in consumer attitude. People are more displeased and want more transparency. They want health bills to be accessible and easily understandable so that refunds can be simplified. Health is moving towards the same level of customer satisfaction than Amazon. When the experience you get ordering a book online is better than the care you receive when you are in need, the system has to change. You must be the one to see it before anyone else.

The health insurance premiums have increases year on year for the past 20 years in line also with the annual deductible costs (Source), making healthcare more and more a privilege for the few. People are going to expect more care, for less, whilst improving the entire customer experience from start to end. At what point do you come into the picture? That is the question you must ask yourself.

Conclusion

Healthcare is ripe for disruption, with the correct industry analysis and customer behavioural insights, health coaches have a reliable ace up their sleeves.

Ignacio Perez – VP Business Strategy

Ignacio Perez is a strategy expert and executive at 7-figure consulting firm Sai.Coach. His clients include Mr. Universe Champions, Team GB Paralympians, Best-Selling Authors, Million Dollar Investors and MS survivors. Click HERE to learn more

The Business Strategy Team @ .Coach LLC