Friday, January 29, 2010

"Why You Should Sell Burritos"

Imagine going to Taco Bell and having them say "We've got some great cheese, we've got meat, sour cream, lettuce, and we've got tomatoes, and some chunks of chicken, and uh a totilla shell... want to buy something?"

How about just selling them a burrito?

An IT company says, we can fix your computers, load software, install updates, monitor your systems, fix printer issues, work on servers, run cables, check internet settings, handle back-ups, we're affordable, we're better than the guys down the street... do you need anything?

How about just offering to take care of all their IT needs for a monthly, budgeted price? (Sometimes referred to as Managed Services)

Much of what I do is work to translate the cool stuff we do at work and try to make burritos out of it...
  • Potential clients need a clear, simple path on how it can do business with you and what's in it for them
  • When talking to a company this past week, they had been in business for over 20 years yet their owner and sales manager couldn't give me a simple answer of what differentiates them from their largest competitor. Can you clearly identify your competitive advantage in your market and communicate it clearly?
  • Our old tagline used to be Vision Knowledge Results.... Couldn't just about every company put that under their name, in marketing literature, or website? Yawn. Our new one? Making Your Business Better by Making Technology Work.... better.
  • For service businesses, I love hearing here's the price and you don't have to worry about it anymore.... whether that's my sprinkler system, coffee service at work, or keeping my snow shoveled, just take care of it with no surprises. Give me a bunch of choices and prices... I might just get confused and walk away.
  • For our technology company, we need to understand the real business value and return on investment (ROI) first and then package the offering focused on that. Everyone wins that way.
  • People don't naturally connect the dots, we need to do it for them. What is the response you're trying to release from your target audience?

You have great ingredients at your organization, wrap em' up and make some burritos.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Christians, Those fake SOB's"

Wow. That was the sentiment from my friend I met with last night. The context was this:

"Mark, I went back to church this past month (Granger Community Church, my church) and couldn't help but be frustrated by some conversations I overhear in the lobby and think, you fake SOB! I don't know what it is but it seems that the older I get I have this radar that can spot fake people, it's like a Fake Radar. I see it in the business"

Ugh. But if I'm honest, much of what he is saying is right on... This reflects a piece of what the book "Unchristian" discusses with the real perception our culture has about Christians.

So what makes us appear fake?
  • The obvious one is hypocrisy. If we pretend we have it all together, life is good, our jobs, marriages, kids, friends, and thoughts are perfect... newsflash, the masses can sniff that out in a hurry... and if they know you at all... they know you're pretending and you're then a hypocrite.
  • How we talk. I think we mean well, but I believe our attempts to give God the glory, "in all our ways acknowledge Him", "in everything give thanks", and our practice of trying to live a life of holiness... it comes out as statements like "Praise the Lord", "God told me...", or verbally thanking God outloud 164 times a day. To the masses, this doesn't register and they either think it's all fake or that you simply live life 3 steps away from the cuckoo nest.
  • We judge without relationship. We can be so flippant about the statements we make to people and about people. How can we really know what's going on deep within someone without having a close relationship with them? We skip the "seeking to understand" piece which leaves the impression of us as judges without planks in our own eye.

The result? We look like characters in a fictional play rather than being relevant or real.

The rest of my conversation centered last night centered around this:

  • We don't have to be that way. We can be real, authentic and get to the work of changing the world. Whatever you don't like about the fake Christians you encounter.... well... don't be like that.
  • Let our actions speak louder than our words. There are hungry people, we should feed them. There are oppressed people, we should free them. There are people that are overwhelmed, we should help relieve their burden.
  • Build real relationships with those without Christ or lacking in faith. Why should they care about your opinion or seek your help if you're not doing life with them? I can talk to my friend about working on a great marriage, how to face challenges with kids, or stress in the workplace when I have a relationship with him. And let's be real, my friends help me as much (and often more) than I can help them. It's in these real, quiet, intimate conversations that we can point them to Jesus. He either is who He is or not, right?
  • God did not call us to be fake, He called us to change the world and find His purpose in and through us.

We can do better. This isn't about shying away from our faith and keeping it hidden... it's about being effective and letting our internal faith drive love and authenticity. I love my friend and his candid conversation. This is the world we live in, this is who we are to serve. And friend, if you happen to read this, I'm so thankful for our relationship and what you've added in my life over all these years. I hope we can connect soon and keep pressing in.... let's not let either of us settle for mediocrity...