Make Decisions Simpler for Your Customers

When asked, consumers almost always say they want more options. But their purchasing behavior often indicates otherwise. Consumers are often overwhelmed by the flood of product information and choices available to them. Many report unnecessarily agonizing over trivial purchases.

This cognitive overload causes them to make poor decisions, repeatedly change their minds, give up on purchases altogether, or regret the purchases they do make — none of which is good for your brand. Help your customers simplify their decisions.

You can reduce choice by getting rid of less popular products. Or you can simplify their choices by helping them navigate their options and giving them trustworthy information they can use to weigh the alternatives.



3 Steps for Getting Back in Touch

It can be awkward to contact someone you’ve lost touch with, especially if you’re asking for something. But, reconnecting might be easier than you think and doesn’t need to be a guilt-laden task. Next time you want to touch base with a long-lost colleague or friend about a job, a career switch, or another opportunity, try these three things:

  1. Acknowledge the lapse. Recognize that time has passed and explain the silence. Try, “I know it’s been ages since we’ve spoken but I’ve thought of you often over the years and have always wanted to reconnect.”
  2. Explain why now. Don’t try to hide your agenda. If you need something — a recommendation or referral — be transparent about your motive for reaching out.
  3. Offer something in return. Reciprocity goes a long way. Propose a way that you can help out either now or in the future.



Ask for Help by Providing a Solution

Everyone needs help with their job on occasion and you shouldn’t be afraid to turn to your boss for guidance. Keep in mind, however, that how you ask for help can make a big difference in how your boss perceives you. Don’t approach your supervisor without preparing and ask, “How do I do ___?”

Managers don’t want to do your work for you. Instead, explain what you know and what your intended course of action is. Ask your manager for her feedback or buy-in. This will give her something to respond to and will show her that you’ve taken the initiative to think the problem through.



Get Your Team to Produce Results, Not Reports

Cross-functional teams can be notorious for generating reports, recommendations, and suggestions for implementation — but no actual results. Next time you manage a team of people from different parts of the organization, focus them on making change, not proposing it. The first step is to alter the nature of the task. Don’t ask your team to “look at” or “study” a certain issue.

Challenge them to solve it: reduce costs by 10% or improve the speed of a process two-fold. Then, authorize them to experiment. Encourage them to try possible improvements to see which work. Not all will, of course, but the team will build momentum for implementation and prepare the organization for change. You may still want a report, but it should cover “what’s been done,” not “what can be done.”



3 Rules for Making an Effective Email Introduction

Helping people make meaningful connections is a worthwhile task. But you need to consider the time and best interests of those you are connecting. If you’ve decided that the introduction is a win-win for both parties, here are three rules to follow:

  1. Be clear about your motive. Explain immediately why you are making the introduction. What is the value that each of the parties brings?
  2. Be careful with the “Cc.” Unless you are 100% sure that the recipient is open to the introduction, don’t include all parties on the message. Instead, send the introduction with the appropriate contact info so the person can follow up if she wants to.
  3. Provide an “out.” No one wants to feel forced into making a connection. Always give people an option to opt out.



Focus on Your Company’s Capabilities

Instead of looking for winning strategies outside of your company’s walls, outperform competitors by leveraging what your company does best. Use your company’s capabilities — the people, knowledge, systems, tools, and processes that create value for customers — as the foundation of competitive advantage. Here are three ways to make your capabilities work:

  1. Put capabilities first. Don’t decide on a strategic direction and then wonder what you need to get there. Look at your core strengths and let those drive your strategy.
  2. Identify differentiating capabilities. Figure out what your company does uniquely well, what your customers value, and what your competitors can’t emulate.
  3. Focus on capabilities, not just fixed assets. Fixed assets tend to expire or become obsolete. Capabilities help keep you agile because they can be applied to changing circumstances.



Interview with Your New Boss

Most managers feel more invested in people they’ve hired personally. They reviewed the resumes, conducted the interviews, and made the ultimate decision. If you’re getting a new boss in your existing job, consider getting “hired” all over again by doing these three things:

  1. Update your resume. This may be in the traditional sense, or may be more of a presentation. In any format, focus on your recent accomplishments.
  2. Set up a meeting. Ask for an appointment with your new boss on your own. Treat this like an interview — be on time and act professionally.
  3. Present yourself. Start by saying, “Let me tell you about my role and my team.” Review the resume or presentation you prepared, highlighting your own achievements and those of your team. Don’t let this be a one-way conversation. Find out what you can about your boss’s interests and needs.