Net Neutrality Friday

This has been an extremely busy week in the regulatory issues in for the Internet and Telecom.  I am going to start with the smaller of the two largest pieces of news and then move to the smaller.  There is enough to talk about for a few weeks here and we will have lots of ground to cover.

The small news is that Google Fiber has pulled back on its expansion plans and is laying off around 9% of its staff.  This makes a lot of sense to me, as I always thought that this was an experiment.  People call it a science experiment, but I call it a business experiment.  Google makes so much money that they look for ways to deploy their capital effectively.  This leads them to try lots of things.  When I was at Red Condor, we competed against a company named Postini.  Postini became part of Google and is the spam filter for Gmail.  After spam filtering became an extreme commodity, Google stopped selling Postini as a separate product.  You can only get Postini if you use Google Docs.  I used to use a login landing portal called iGoogle and Google sent me an email and turned it off a year later.

Why does Google do this?  They are all about advertising dollars.  They are willing to invest and play to figure out to see if a technology or method will eventually get them those dollars.  Youtube is an example of this.  At one point, Google was losing $150M per month on Youtube.  Things are now very much different and Youtube is a great money maker for Google.  But if the investment does not pan out, Google exits.  I suspect that Google will look for a buyer for Google Fiber over time.  One of the overbuilders might be interested, it is too sporadic of a network for an incumbent to purchase.  The better option, to sell to incumbents, would be to sell one property at a time.  The incumbent for that territory can choose to use that construction instead of doing its own.  More to come on this in the future.

The larger news is that AT&T is buying Time Warner for $85B.  The deal is 1/2 stock and 1/2 cash.  I think that is interesting as I am sure that came from Time Warner.  The idea would be to provide a huge benefit now, with upside that Time Warner is not sure of.  If they thought AT&T was a growth stock, it would be an all-stock deal.  More importantly for us, this is a move similar to Comcast's purchase of NBC-Universal.  There will be plenty of uproar over it, but I think the deal will go through.  All AT&T will have to do is point at Comcast and nobody (okay Trump has called for it) has asked for Comcast to be broken up.  Comcast has a lot more broadband subscribers and so it will be hard to say that the combination will impact consumers more than Comcast did.  There is a lot here as well to discuss whether this is a good idea to why it is happening to what we should expect next to how Google, Verizon, and other companies might react.

Have a great weekend!

Jim Sackman

Focal Point Business Coaching

Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

 

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

 

 

Net Neutrality Friday

A couple of weeks ago I posted on Calix's latest earnings call. You can find that post HERE. One of the topics on the call was the possibility of some PON business with Verizon. Given my history on FiOS, I thought it would be good to discuss the possibilities here.

The competition for this business is Adtran. Calix and Adtran are ongoing rivals in the Access Business and now have a shot at business in Verizon. I think that this is going to end up being very complicated for investors to parse and for observers to understand. The business of selling to the carriers has become a primary vendor and a single selection process. This means that second vendors get little to no business and there is no chance to enter the business in the future. On top of that, the pricing that is set and the purchasing behavior means that companies will not have a great chance to cost reduce products. The implication is that you best play to win on both cost and functionality. You won't get a second chance.

I have to make the assumption that both companies will deliver working products that meet a number of criteria that Verizon will test for. These products are unlikely to be perfect and may require a second pass through the labs. The challenge will be how much customization of the products that Verizon will require for their network. The ONTs that we shipped to Verizon has little to do with the ones we originally planned to ship. Verizon has their own way of doing things and does not feel obligated to take what the vendor already has available.

Adtran has an advantage in that it is already a supplier to Verizon. Adtran is also a significantly larger company than Calix. This may not seem to be a big deal, but the large carriers don't want to be a huge part of anybody's business. It prevents problems if Verizon chooses to go in another direction and impact's their vendors stock price. It also means that the company will be there for the long haul to support the Verizon network. Think about the 5ESS and DMS 100 telephone switches that have been in place for 30+ years. Lucent is on its 2nd buyer and Nortel is gone. Calix does have the advantage of being partnered with Ericsson. One thing is that I would not expect Ericsson to purchase Calix as they have already been burned twice in the FTTH business (Polycom and Entrisphere). This could be the first big benefit of buying Ericsson's FTTH business.

I think both will be announced as winners and it will confuse the market. One will be the actual winner but I think Verizon has gotten past the single winner business. The first one to reach deployability will be the real winner. I know that Calix has many veterans of FiOS and other Tier 1 deployments. If they are smart, they will listen to these folks about what it means to sell to Verizon.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what happens. Have a great weekend!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

Why Coaching not Training?

Training is a part of Coaching. Sometimes the client is missing some skill or set of skills to make them successful. So, why does such a person do better with Coaching than Training?

Think of this as like having a Personal Trainer. They teach their clients specific exercises to perform. One of the things that I find interesting is that they often don't teach the theory behind the exercises. The one thing that they surely do is hold clients accountable, at least while they are at the gym.

One of the things that is different between Coaching and Training is that Accountability. The Coach is there to hold the client to his or her plan. With Training there is a transfer of knowledge but nothing about an implementation. Implementation is the most important part of the Coaching program. If no action results, then nothing will have happened. Training will make you smarter but if it is not put to use then no value has been created. There is nothing wrong with Training. There are lots of good applications for Training to ensure that people have the skills they need to do their job. It is just that Coaching does more.

When is it appropriate to use Training? The best use is when there is an internal resource that will replace the Coaches Accountability partnership. An example would be a Manager who is using Training to grow his employee's skill base. The challenge for Owners and Executives is that they often do not have an internal Accountability partner. They either do not have a boss or have a boss with large responsibilities in other areas. People in this situation can turn to an external resource to hold them Accountable to meet their obligations.

Back to the Personal Trainer as a comparison, they hold people Accountable by having regularly scheduled sessions. What they can't do (nor can a Business Coach) is force the client to do the right thing between meetings. They can ask. They can cajole. They can demand. The client has to do the work. The more they put into the program the more they get out. This is the way to get the most out of a Coaching Program whether it is about your Health or about your Business. Commit, Follow-through, and just do it!


Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

Selling in the 21st Century

I am going to add some blog posts on Selling and Sales. Sales are such a critical function in Business and Small Business in particular. The fundamental problem is that most Small Business Owners have a lack of formal Sales background. This means that their Sales techniques are not as effective as they can be. Sales are all about efficiency. Alignment, which I have blogged often about, is the key to efficient Sales and Marketing.

So, this type of blog will focus on that as the first type of topic. Basic Sales efficiency. This is true in creating Sales Processes and Sales Training. It is also true for Product Marketing. This is that boundary function between Marketing and Sales where Product Value Creation has to be explained. Marketing's job is to create Audience, Brand Awareness, and Prospects. Sales' job is to convert those Prospects into Customers by connecting the needs of the Customer to the right products/services within the company. I hope you can see that Boundary Problem now. Which group takes accountability for the Benefits of the Product as it relates to different prospect segments. In larger firms, this is a Marketing job. In smaller companies, it often falls to Sales. This is a great place to start talking about Sales Process.

The second thing that we will talk about is the stigma associated with being in Sales. I know you are all thinking about a Used Car Salesman. Many of us have seen movies like Tin Men or GlenGarry, Glen Ross and associate Sales with that ABC (Always Be Closing) attitude. But most Sales today is done in Relationship Selling. This is a different style than what was done in the deep past. The goal is not to close everybody, but to convince people that need your products/services to buy them from you. You know what you have to offer is good. Why would people that need what you have to offer not want to buy it from you?

The third thing that we will discuss in Fear. Fear is the enemy of Sales and Closing Business. Business is Business. You can not expect everyone to buy from you. So, don't worry about those that don't and put them back into the Prospect pool. If you don't take a loss as a rejection of you as a person, it will remove your Fear. This will allow you to go into tough Sales calls and win. Not all of them, but enough where it will be worth it.

So, I hope that you enjoy what I put out in this kind of Blog and have a nice weekend!


Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

The ROI of Coaching

Many Business Owners have heard of Business Coaching. The questions they ask themselves are: "Why do I need a Coach and what value will he or she bring?" I want to outline the answers or at least the structures to answers to these questions today.

If you recall, I posted recently about Change and how it is an important part of Coaching. Change is a big part of what I bring and why the owners need me. Most of the time a successful Business gets to a certain point and then it stops. The level of success becomes a constant until some (probably) external factor upsets the market and thus the Business. The ability to adapt on a constant basis is part of what keeps Businesses successful over the long term. The basis for that adaptation is a sound set of Business Fundamentals.

Now, that same Business stops adapting because the Leadership has reached the end of their understanding of how Businesses grow. I see this in Small Businesses when people consider hiring their first employee or their first middle manager. These are tremendous steps in the development of a Business but are not the only ones. As Businesses grow, they need to operate in a different manner than they used to. If Leadership doesn't have the knowledge of how to operate in that next stage of growth, then the company stops growing. This is less intentional than practical. The Leadership doesn't see any economic or life value in getting the Business to that next stage. They become satisfied with where they are. For many people, it is "good enough".

The Internet has changed all of this dramatically. The way that markets operate, who your competitors are, and what you can charge for certain types of service has or will change dramatically. Think now about 20 years ago and how you would have to do any kind of research. Isn't your first inclination today to "Google" it? John Oliver was talking about how the Newspapers have dramatically declined over the last 20 years. They are an excellent example of the lack of foresight. I agreed with a lot of his comments about the quality of journalism and how digital has impacted the market. On the other hand, there is more crowdsourced coverage than ever. Content is still king and they have yet to learn how to build and manage their portfolio of content.

So, what is the ROI? It depends on the Business Owner. The Coach is bringing an objective, outside viewpoint that is based on sound principals. Will the Owner adapt to change? Will they grow out of their comfort zone and make the leap to the next path of success? If so, then the ROI can be huge. If the Owner just wants to stay as they are, then don't expect great results.

Have a great day!


Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

Getting Specific

When we talk about Coaching and Consulting, we need to get specific. By that I mean that we need to have SMART Goals. Now, this is not a post about SMART Goals and what they are. This is about the consequence of not having them. In this case, specifically in the Vision Statement for a Business.

Now wait a minute, you are thinking, we have some very lofty goals to obtain in our Vision. Yes, you probably do. The question is do these Goals motivate and guide your employees?

Many of the Vision statements I have seen sound like standard Press Release descriptions...Jim Corp, a leading supplier of blah, blah, blah. Those kind of descriptions don't mean anything. They are essentially boiler plate used to make sure that you have something defined that can be defended. They do not set a path for your employees to succeed.

What is needed? There are two bits of this that are super important. First, the Vision must be something that can be obtained. I don't mean that it is easy or even likely. I mean that you need to be able to support the Vision with a measurement that some day you can declare: "We won!" Whether you will actually hit that Vision is a different question. The point is to define what winning means. That way there is clarity around a set of actions that can be taken to ensure that you reach your Vision. You can also know if you are off track and course correct to get to where you want to be. Finally when you have won this Vision, you can define a new one.

But there is another element and that is making it personal for each employee. What can they do to help the Business achieve the Vision? Even more importantly, when the Vision is achieved what will it mean for them? Is there a bonus or a raise? Does it mean the Business is expanding and there exists the chance for advancement? I think that you can see where this is going. If you are going to have a Vision that means something to you, you need to define it in a way that means something for your employees. Having a Vision that is you get rich and retire will not cut it. This is especially true in these days of tough hiring.

So, think about it. Does your Vision mean that your employees win as well? If they do, then you have a winning and motivating formula!


Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!