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Elevator Speech: Part 5 of 9: That Win Reviews…

December 9, 2011

For years I saw the same three words.  The same three words over and over.  Just about every place that I looked they were there.  They appeared on signs and on posters hung up on the walls.  They were in just about every meeting room, on every corporate objectives list ever published, and on my own management by objectives each and every year. These three words were drilled in to everybody’s head throughout the organization regardless of department, job description, and function:

Win All Reviews…

Short, simple, and to the point.  It wasn’t enough to deliver high quality solutions on time.  It wasn’t enough to be innovative and to delight customers.  You had to ensure that you had also won over the hearts and minds of the key influencers who could impact opinions about your solutions even if they were not customers.

You’ve been touched by the key influencers out there over the years. They are very opinionated, they freely share those opinions, and they have large followings.  In the software industry they were historically the reviewers who worked for key technical publications and they were the industry analysts.  They were also the systems integrators, who claimed to be tool agnostic, but at the end of the day each partner had their own preferences.  Today these are joined by the ranks of successful bloggers even a select few out there in Twitterland.  Social media has introduced a new element where, for example, anybody can be a ‘food critic’–even if they’ve never eaten at your restaurant before…

In IT these key influencers are harder to identify.  They don’t have recognizable names and they don’t work at major publications.  They are stealth.  They lurk in the shadows.  They are invisible until the topic of your solution or team comes up, then they jump out of the shadows taking the stage as they share what they think for any and all to hear.

In the end it doesn’t matter if you are in commercial software or in IT.  You need to know who these folks are. You need to identify them.  You need to know their bias and their agendas.  You need to know what it’ll take to move the dial with them.  You need to know what it takes to either keep them or convert them into stark raving fans.

You do this by reaching out to them, by understanding their concerns and understanding where the gaps are.  You do this by over communicating with them, sharing timely updates, and showing them what you’ve done lately to move the dial.  You share with them your success stories and you champion your wins.  You introduce them to your known stark raving fans.  Sometimes you even have to add features and capabilities in to your solutions for them even if nobody else will ever use them.

Why?  People listen to them.  Rightly or wrongly they do influence what others think about your solutions.  They do impact purchasing decisions, funding decisions, and at the end of the day the bottom line.  Fair?  Hardly, but it is what it is…

My next post will cover the topic of “…and disrupt competitors…

About this series:  In my very first post I started out by sharing what I call my “elevator speech”.  It is the gestalt of what makes me and the organizations that I have gone on to lead tick:

Deliver high quality solutions on time that are innovative, delight customers, win reviews, and disrupt competitors; all while having fun, being ethical and transforming the business.

My first post in this series dissected “deliver high quality solutions…  It covered deliver, high quality, and solutionsMy second went on about a topic that many development managers and teams hate to talk about and that is delivering “on time”…  The third in the series talked about solutions “…that are innovative”…  The forth covered one of my favorite components of the above statement and that is to “…delight customers…

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