What New Skills Will You Need to Succeed in the New Economy?
"This changes everything." That is one way of looking at the perfect storm of the faltering economy, the technological revolution, full-scale globalization, values shift and generational changes that have come together all at once. Not only have the rules changed, but the game is changed. Here are six new skills that are required of you to play in this New Economy.
1) Shift from product sales to idea sales to program sales to process sales. What does that mean? It means that if you've been making your living by showing and selling product, you're going to want to learn a few new steps to dance to. Product sales focuses on the stuff. It is all about the client having a pre-existing need and delivering a product to fill the need. Moving to idea sales, you identify a client need—perhaps one they weren't even aware of—and deliver a product-based solution, including a way to distribute and measure. You've just moved from need fulfillment to need creation.
When you move to program selling, you are holding product and ideas accountable to a goal, using promotional techniques such as consumer promotions, incentive programs, safety programs or employee retention and recognition. When you move up to process selling, you are getting deep into the needs and methods of operation of your client. You are tailoring your solutions to work with their operations to save them money, to make their operation run more smoothly and to become an indespensible member of their team.
2) Learn to think in terms of collaboration rather than competition. When you are thinking in terms of what best solves your client's needs, you may realize that you can help them the most by sticking with what you do best. Find and collaborate with their other agencies, including your competition, to create the most powerful pool of talent and expertise. Learn to respect and trust and you may be surprised how it comes right back to you in equal measure.
3) Move from seat of the pants to planning with flexibility. Just because the rate of change may seem like chaos, does not mean that you don't need to plan. Planning is still critical. But execution must be flexible. Situations change quickly and being able to recognize when to zig and when to zag will be a competitive advantage.
4) Let's stop the race to the bottom and race to the top! Why do so many of us toe the line and take off running when the race is to the bottom? Do you really want to be known as the cheapest? One of the biggest reasons to get out of the product selling game is that commoditization is a zero sum game with no winners. The low price buyer loses the opportunity to work with the best. They risk their brand's reputation. They miss deadlines. They become acquainted with disappointment. Set your vision and your sights on becoming the best in the business. Race to become a problem solver, a results-getter, a revenue enhancer and a brand builder.
5) Why would you want to be a poor imitation of someone else? What can you be best in the world at? Find it and be it. You'll be the one, the only, the original you! Your personality, your experience, your creativity, your problem-solving skills—these are your competitive advantages. We all have access to the same stuff, from the same suppliers, with the same lead times, for the same price. Differentiation is the things that will set you apart and create wild demand for your services. You are the only thing that only you can deliver. Create your brand and create demand for it.
6) Resilience is a necessary skill in this economy. With change advancing at accelerating paces and with no end in sight, you are bound to be knocked down. Getting knocked down is to be expected. You only lose when you stop getting back up. People love the old cliché about making lemonade when life hands you lemons. But I have news for you. You'll need more than lemons to make lemonade. You'll need some rock solid core values that remain steady no matter how rocky life becomes. You'll need a clear vision of where you are going. If you know where you're going, you'll be able to get back up when down and get right back on the right path to lead you there. Understand that life doesn't play fair and that success may not come easy. Learn to accept what life brings and keep moving forward to your goals and where you want to end up.
Success in the new economy requires continuous improvement. It requires a commitment to excellence. It means you need to be always learning. You must be passionate about creating value.