I was in Oahu for whale-watching season this year. What a sight to behold! Humpback whales migrate 3,000 miles each year from the Gulf of Alaska to Hawaii, returning each year to preserve their species.
It’s hard-wired into them, part of their DNA, physiologically and behaviorally.
The whales do the same thing, over and over again, expecting the same results.
Due to commercial whaling, the humpback population was reduced to as few as 1,000 humpbacks prior to an international ban on commercial whaling in 1964, which brought the species back from the brink of extinction. Today, the North Pacific population, the one which returns to Hawaii in winter months to breed, has approximately 6,000-8,000 individuals. I got to sit with a professional whale watcher and count individuals, as well as identify various whales by the markings on their tails when they breached and slapped the ocean waters. It was breathtaking.
Whale watching made me think about those of us in business, sales, and engineering and the lasting impact of 2008. How many of you continue to do the same things, return to the same business development and technical problem-solving patterns, over and over again, as though these have been genetically hard-wired into your business common sense?
You remain hard-wired to your business development, sales, and engineering behavior and stick to your status quo. In spite of the option that this behavior might turn you, and your organization, into an endangered species, if it hasn’t already done so.
Unfortunately, no one is going to place either you, or your business, on an endangered business or engineering species list.
It’s up to you to take a good long look at your business practices, target markets, and business model, to determine whether you have a sustainable strategy for the digital millennium.
You have heard me, and just about everyone else, say this: what got you to where you are today isn’t going to be what you need to get you to where you need to go tomorrow.
The business eco-system has changed. The economic currents have shifted. The customer base which you take for granted as your continuous food source has been altered by the events of 2008.
Ask yourself these three questions:
1.) Are you doing business today, with 100% of the customers you served in 2008? I didn’t think so. Not even close.
2.) Have you identified new customers and tracked different markets and technology trends for you to pursue? Or are you dead or dying in the business waters of 2013? Are your methods for identifying and serving customers the same as those you used in 2008? For many of you, I suspect you still are waiting for former customers to return and are not willing to accept that they have gone elsewhere. Have you taken the time to keep track of the changing pulse of global business development and re-wire your business development practices and processes?
3.) Are the salespeople and technical staff serving your customer base the same as those you employed in 2008? Perhaps your staff – and even you, as Owner – represents survivors of 2008, without your having taken the time to retool and recalibrate for 2013. Perhaps your best people saw the hand-writing on the wall and swam off to more enlightened business waters while you were waiting for the dust to settle.
In creating sustainable business development strategies and solutions, the best place to start is by assuming responsibility and liability for your competitive survival in the global business development ecosystem.
What steps are you taking to ensure your business and engineering viability?
Babette Ten Haken provides technical people and other sellers a solid strategy for how to explain a product, its benefits, and its value in ways that buyers can easily understand and sellers can comfortably present. She gets people together who are often on opposite sides of the table, like engineers and sales people or entrepreneurs and investors. Her company, Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, works with entrepreneurs, start-ups & investors, as well as small businesses and manufacturers, focusing on revenue-generating and portfolio-building business development strategies. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? was named 2012 Finalist, Top Sales & Marketing Awards.