Oil price declines or not, growth and expansion are still part of everyday operations, as seen here, in the full version of “Drilling Deeper.” These news items appeared as abbreviated versions in the print edition of the March 2015 PBOG.
Big Spring Pipeline Expands
Navigator Energy Services, LLC (“Navigator”) announced Jan. 22 that it is expanding the transportation capacity of its Big Spring Gateway Pipeline System (“BSG System”) from 85,000 barrels of crude oil per day (bbl/d) to 140,000 bbl/d. The BSG System will serve crude oil producers and other shippers in the Permian Basin. Navigator has commenced construction, and the system is expected to be placed in service in the second half of 2015. The expanded system will serve new origin points in Western Midland County, Southern Glasscock County, and Western Martin County, Texas, in addition to those already planned in Glasscock, Martin, and Howard counties.
Navigator also announced it had launched a supplemental binding open season for additional transportation commitments to the BSG System. The binding open season was to commence on Feb. 2, 2015.
When the expansion is complete, the BSG System will span Martin, Howard, Glasscock, and Midland counties in Texas and include more than 250 miles of gathering pipeline, 200 miles of transportation mainline, seven truck injection stations, and 225,000 barrels of planned storage capacity. Under its FERC tariff, the BSG System will offer delivery into the BridgeTex Pipeline and Sunoco-operated pipelines near Colorado City, Texas. The BSG System will provide West Texas producers a direct path to approximately 900,000 bbl/d of pipeline takeaway from Colorado City to Texas Gulf Coast and Mid-Continent market centers.
Continental Concludes Veyance Acquisition
Continental, a leading producer of technologies for transporting people and their goods, has concluded its acquisition of the U.S. rubber company Veyance Technologies Inc, of Fairlawn, Ohio. On January 29, the Brazilian antitrust authority CADE (Council for Economic Defence) cleared the transaction with certain conditions, thus providing the approvals necessary for completion. International automotive supplier, tire manufacturer and industrial partner Continental is boosting its worldwide industrial business with this acquisition, which is the most significant acquisition in recent corporate history. The transaction is valued at 1.4 billion euros.
Veyance operates globally in the field of rubber and plastics technology and in 2013 recorded sales of some 1.5 billion euros, around 90 percent of which were achieved in industry business. The workforce at its 27 plants around the world totaled 8,500 at the end of 2013. Veyance Technologies generates around half of its sales in the U.S.A. Other important markets include Latin America, Africa, China, and other countries in Asia. The product focus is on conveyor belts, hoses and power transmission belts. In 2013, ContiTech and Veyance together achieved sales totaling some 5.4 billion euros and employed around 38,000 staff worldwide.
“By integrating Veyance in our ContiTech division, we are expanding our global position in rubber and plastics technologies. In addition, this acquisition will bring Continental a significant step closer to its strategic goal of further increasing the proportion of industrial and end-customer business in its sales,” says Dr. Elmar Degenhart, chairman of Continental’s Executive Board in Hanover. “Continental has financed the acquisition entirely from liquid funds and available lines of credit. Veyance will make an immediate positive contribution to the corporation’s profitability.”
“Both the workforce and the customers stand to profit from the merger of the two companies,” says Heinz-Gerhard Wente, a member of Continental’s Executive Board and CEO of the ContiTech division. “Veyance will complement ContiTech in markets in which we have been underrepresented up till now. Another very important point is that the acquisition will enable us to significantly expand our industrial and end-customer business and, as a result, enable ContiTech to achieve a share of almost 60 percent of its sales outside the automotive original equipment sector.” ContiTech’s Conveyor Belt Group (conveyor belt systems), Fluid Technology (hoses and hose assemblies) and Power Transmission Group (power transmission belt systems) business units will benefit in particular from the improved global alignment.
Because of the significance of the acquisition, antitrust authorities worldwide had spent the last eleven months scrutinizing the purchase and its impact on the respective markets. In response to the structural concerns expressed by some of the antitrust authorities, Continental will divest Veyance’s air springs business in NAFTA and its current steel-cord belting business in Brazil. In total, around 600 employees work in the operations that are to be divested.
Fossil Bay Signs License with Weatherford
Fossil Bay Energy LLC, an emerging leader in high-spec enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technologies and services, announced in January that it has entered into a license agreement with Weatherford Technology Holdings LLC.
Fossil Bay has been granted the exclusive right in the United States to make, use, and sell exhaust gas handling equipment that incorporates three Weatherford patents in the field of use of oil and gas reservoir injection and pressurization applications.
“With this license from Weatherford, Fossil Bay and its joint venture partners will be able to build low-cost, next-generation, portable exhaust gas CO2 injection equipment to re-pressurize and revitalize thousands of pressure-depleted, marginally-producing stripper wells and abandoned oil fields in America that still contain billions of barrels of stranded oil, but don’t have local access to a CO2 pipeline.
“By drilling new horizontal injection and production wells, we can use our portable exhaust gas CO2 generators in pressure-depleted reservoirs to produce new oil from old oil fields at all-in costs less than $25 per barrel and with estimated ultimate recoveries of more than 50 percent to 65 percent of the original oil in place,” says Dan Kulka, CEO of Fossil Bay Energy.
Fossil Bay’s portable CO2 EOR process eliminates the need for pipeline-supplied CO2, because its mobile CO2/N2 gas-injection units produce exhaust gas directly at the wellhead. This enables CO2 “huff and puff” and CO2 gas flooding with Nitrogen drive to become an economically-viable and available option for thousands of EOR-worthy oil fields worldwide.
Fossil Bay currently has 100-million barrels of proved oil reserves in its asset portfolio, and is actively pursuing additional EOR opportunities with mineral rights owners and other oil producing companies whose reservoir and geological characteristics can benefit from portable Exhaust Gas CO2-EOR.
Audubon Announces Downstream Division
Audubon Engineering Solutions, an affiliate of Audubon Companies, has a new Downstream Center of Excellence to better serve clients along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The new Center of Excellence will focus its services on small- to mid-capital petrochemical and refining projects and establishing alliance programs. The primary execution centers will be in La Porte, Texas, and Baton Rouge, La., with additional support coming from Houston, as well as from Metairie and Covington, La.
Onshore Senior Vice President Michael Northcott of Audubon Engineering Solutions stated, “By establishing a Downstream Center of Excellence, it enables us to better align with our customers’ key business drivers. The response from our customers has been positive. In 2014, we experienced rapid growth in the downstream market segment, and we are well positioned in 2015 with a healthy backlog to help fuel continued growth.”
Shawn Senf will lead this new initiative as Business Line Director. Senf is a project manager with over 20 years of engineering and construction experience in the petrochemical industry. His professional expertise includes EPC mid-capital engineering and construction project management of multi-million dollar oil and gas facilities. With a strong professional background in team leadership and client management, Senf will be additionally responsible for the fiscal performance, quality assurance, and operational execution of the new downstream division. He will report directly to Michael Northcott.
Other key leaders are Allen Guiher, Director of Operations, and Brandon DuMontier, Business Line Manager. Guiher is based in Baton Rouge and will lead execution while DuMontier will oversee the fiscal performance and client management in Louisiana from the Metairie office. Both will report to Shawn Senf.
Hunting in a Farmer’s World
By John F. Dini
Everyone in business is either a Hunter or a Farmer. The working style that fits you best isn’t really a matter of choice, nor is it determined by your job description. It is ingrained by eons of cultural evolution.
The working styles of a hunter and farmer are markedly different. Hunters are linear. It is their nature to focus on the kill. A hunter moves towards a goal, and on reaching it begins to immediately look for another objective to accomplish. A farmer’s work is cyclical, tracking the seasons from planting to harvest. Their evolutionary traits apply to an office environment as well as the outdoors.
Ten thousand years ago we were all hunters. Until humans developed agriculture, hunting was the only way we survived. Those whose job it was to hunt for the tribe knew that failure wasn’t an option. They persevered through fatigue and bad weather until they had accomplished the objective—bringing home food for everyone.
As mankind started farming and domesticating animals, nomadic tribes were able to settle in one place, build permanent living quarters, and begin developing societies. Skilled workers could specialize in pottery or tool-making, and tribes began trading goods with each other. Hunting kept people alive, but farming built civilizations. As villages grew into cities, the majority of their populations became involved in growing, transporting and distributing agricultural products. Hunting was relegated to a sport.
The cyclical nature of farming, tilling, sowing, tending, and harvesting have morphed into the business cycle of planning, budgeting, implementation, and measuring the results. Just as the populations of cities focused on farming, the majority of employees in any business are dedicated to production, along with managing and tracking the production of others. Hunting is left to a small minority—the entrepreneurs, salespeople, executives, and creative talent whose jobs are to look ahead and focus on the next objective.
For business owners and leaders, the challenge is to support the linear attitudes of a hunter in a business environment that concentrates on the cyclical tasks of farming. Computerization has given managers exponentially more data to track and measure, but management is by its nature farming, and management books promote farming methodologies. Balanced scorecards, six sigma quality, and ISO 9000 are valuable tools, but for the typical hunter, they pose a problem: they are boring.
Thousands of business hunters spend millions of hours each year trying to master the intricacies of process and procedure without understanding why they are doomed to fail. They start to implement an initiative, but then become drawn to the “next big thing,” or simply lose interest in the effort and let things slide. They aren’t excited by potential for incremental improvement, but rather by the newness of the latest management fad. They enjoy building new things, but don’t fare as well in managing them. Their inability to follow through makes them think of themselves as “bad” business people.
The real problem is letting dynamic, creative problem solvers waste time and energy trying to adopt a style that doesn’t suit them. How much more productive could your business be if everyone, including you, worked only on things they enjoyed?
The stereotypical example is that of a top salesperson who is promoted to sales manager. The salesperson is a hunter. She enjoys working independently and “bringing the meat” of a closed deal. It isn’t hard to understand why moving her into a manager’s role is counterproductive. She has no inclination to oversee the work of others, prepare reports, or think about improving the sales process. She wants to hunt, and managing is the farthest thing from hunting.
Of course, the opposite is also true. Take the case of an excellent controller who has advanced to Chief Financial Officer. As a controller, he was focused on detail and deadlines. Measuring and analyzing were his core competencies. Faced with the prospective-looking duties of the CFO role, forecasting, projecting, and seeking new financial opportunities, he is lost. The mere fact that both positions involve financial skills doesn’t make them interchangeable.
Most job descriptions involve both some hunting and some farming. One job recruiter once remarked that, “When job descriptions require strength in both styles, you begin seeking a ‘flying mermaid’ to fill the position.” That’s someone who is willing to do detailed and repetitive work all morning, such as balancing accounts and data entry, then shift to an aggressive sales job in the afternoon. Even if you could find someone willing to take on a flying mermaid job, the odds of achieving success in both roles are nil.
Farmers far outnumber hunters in most organizations. Regardless of the owner’s natural style, however, it’s a mistake to seek out similar people for management responsibility. We all want to interact with people who understand us, but duplicated personality traits come with two pitfalls.The first is when the two of you agree on a course of action, it may be because it’s the best decision, or merely because you just have the same point of view. Including someone who sees things differently than you do in your decision-making team creates better debate and more options. Two hunters together may skip critical details, while two farmers could be putting too much emphasis on avoiding risk.
The second pitfall is that the managerial duties you tend to shun personally also don’t receive much attention from your key manager. Two farmers might focus on process over marketing initiatives or two hunters who spend their time driving sales without looking at production efficiencies.
Hunters have always needed farmers. They keep things together when the hunter is off chasing the next objective, and make incremental improvements through the business cycle. Farmers depend on hunters to create new opportunities and develop a long-term vision. Both are necessary, and neither is nearly as effective without the other.
John F. Dini is a coach, consultant, speaker, and author of Hunting in a Farmer’s World, Celebrating the Mind of an Entrepreneur (winner of the New York Book Festival’s “Best Business Book”), 11 Things You Absolutely Need to Know About Selling Your Business, and Beating the Boomer Bust. Recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on business ownership, John has delivered over 10,000 hours of face-to-face, personal advice to entrepreneurs. For more information on John F. Dini, please visit www.johnfdini.com.
The Salesperson’s Handbook
By Paul Cherry
Lucy was a brand new salesperson who wanted to make a big impression. She did everything she could think of to establish relationships with prospects and wow them with her proposals. While she was not failing as a salesperson, Lucy was certainly not leading her team in sales either. After nine months of below average performances, she knew something had to change—but what?
Veteran salespeople know that while every customer is unique, the obstacles to a sale are predictably the same and occur rather frequently. Once you understand these obstacles and the strategies to overcome them, you will have all of the tools you need to make the sale.
Obstacle 1: Identifying and Communicating with the Decision Maker(s)
Too often, salespeople will focus solely on their initial contact at an organization. Whether that person is a mid-level manager or an HR executive, they are probably not the only person who is going to have input on the proposal process. Smart salespeople know that there are usually other decision makers who will have input in the deal, and the challenge is to figure out who they are and how you can meet with them. In order to get the information you want, you will to have to ask your current contact some questions that might seem awkward. Some questions to broach the issue are:
- What is your time frame for making a final decision?
- What criteria will you be evaluating to ensure you are making the best decision?
- What measurable outcomes are you looking to achieve?
Once you are able to determine who else will be involved in the decision making process, you can ask this follow up question: “I really appreciate this insight. So that I can propose the best solution that is going to meet the needs of everyone else involved, I would love to talk with these other individuals and get their input. When can I meet with them?”
Obstacle 2: Uncovering the Budget
Nothing will derail a deal faster than a mismatch between your proposal and the customer’s budget. Unfortunately, prospects are often reluctant to discuss their budgets with salespeople. It is your job to press them further to get a number, or at the very least, a range of what their budget is for the project. There are two options to making this happen.
You can politely—but firmly—suggest that your prospect determine their budget prior to soliciting bids. Stress the importance of an advance figure, and express your interest in receiving them before you reconnect.
This approach puts the focus on the prospect, not you. It tells them that you care about them and their financial security, and you do not want them to make a mistake.
The second option involves framing the interaction through the lens of recommending a program that best suits your prospect’s needs and expectations, and expressing how budget parameters can shape the direction for both parties.
If they say they cannot give you a number because they’re not the ones putting the budget together, ask to be introduced to those who are involved in crafting the budget. This will minimize price objections later on in the process, especially when you are put in front of people who are not as concerned with budget, as they are with their ROI.
Obstacle 3: Working with Customers Who Do Not Want to Commit
There is nothing more frustrating that getting ready to close a sale, only to have a customer say, “I still need to think about it.” When this happens, a seasoned salesperson knows that he or she needs to follow up on the customer’s statement. You should respond by saying: “I can understand you need to think about this. After all, it is an important decision and you need to do what is best for you and your organization. Tell me, what specifically stands out from our conversation that is of interest to you?”
The goal of this question is to get clarification on how much the prospect is really interested in what you have shared and whether or not the prospect feels they want to move forward. Is there sincerity in the response, or are you being blown off?
Once you get an answer to your first question, you can acknowledge that the customer has concerns, and ask them what they are. Ask what is holding them back from making a decision, and then hopefully you can help alleviate their concerns and get the sale back on track.
Obstacle 4: Understanding the Customer’s Values
Too often, salespeople get stuck on the issue of price. If you sell on price, you lose on price. As soon as someone cheaper comes along, a customer will not give you a second thought before cutting you loose. Instead of getting caught up in price wars, you need to steer a customer’s attention to other issues. This means you need to ask your customers about value. What characteristics does the organization value in a vendor? Are they most concerned with good customer service, high quality products, speedy delivery, or ease of use? Once you get a customer talking about these areas, you can determine what their needs are and how you can position yourself to get those needs met.
Obstacle 5: Establishing Your Credibility
Many salespeople make the mistake of spending an initial meeting talking all about themselves and their products. This is a mistake. During an initial call, your goal should be for the prospect to do 70 percent of the talking. Why? For two reasons:
- You want to hear about his/her problems, goals, concerns, and ideas.
- You want to qualify if there is a genuine opportunity with this prospect.
You cannot do either of those things if you are trying to sell during the first meeting. As much as you want to sell yourself, you should never bring out PowerPoint, samples, or company literature during an initial meeting.
What should you do at an initial meeting? You should start the meeting with a unique value opening statement, which is a 30-60 second description of who you are as a company and what you do. The value opening statement should detail the benefits of your company to the prospect, the impact that hiring you will have to their organization, and an immediate follow-up question to gauge their expectations and interest.
Remember Lucy? She started to utilize these tips and strategies with her customers. She found that she was able to ask great questions of her customers, and this in turn led to increased sales and increased overall performance in her office.
Paul Cherry is President of Performance Based Results and is the leading authority on customer engagement strategies. He has more than 23 years’ experience in sales training, leadership development, sales performance coaching and management coaching. He is also the author of Questions that Sell: The Powerful Process for Discovering What Your Customer Really Wants and Questions that Get Results: Innovative Ideas Managers Can Use to Improve Their Team’s Performance. For more information on Paul, please visit www.pbresults.com. You can also reach him at 302-478-4443 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mexico’s Bidding Remains Competitive
With Mexican oil open to private investment for the first time, the country’s initial bidding round is expected to remain competitive despite low oil prices, delays and a number of uncertainties, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.
The company’s latest report states that the first bid round, which began on Dec. 11, 2014, by offering 14 shallow-water exploration blocks, is currently scheduled to offer additional areas, including unconventional and deepwater opportunities, in the first half of 2015.
Adrian Lara, GlobalData’s Senior Upstream Analyst for the Americas, states that no indication has been given of the expected levels of biddable profit oil in the shallow-water Production Sharing Contract (PSC). Furthermore, full details of the other contract models are yet to be released.
Lara comments, “With the international crude oil price having dropped from nearly $110 per barrel (bbl) in the first half of 2014 to its current price of below $50 per bbl, the government has already been forced to deviate from its original schedule.
“In the past week, the government has admitted that it may need to further delay high-cost areas, such as unconventionals. On top of this, the new schedule appears ambitious for a regulatory agency organizing its first ever licensing round.”
Despite these delays, Will Scargill, GlobalData’s Upstream Fiscal Analyst, notes that the lower oil price should not significantly affect the competitiveness of bidding on the shallow-water exploration blocks, as the adjustment of royalties to prevailing prices and profit shares to profitability mean that it should remain possible for investors to achieve attractive rates of return.
Scargill explains: “Comparison of the regime with that applicable to shallow-water areas in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico at oil prices of $60 to $80 per bbl suggests that bids offering the government an initial 20 percent share of profit oil may be competitive. When discovered fields are offered, the government take is likely to be higher due to the lower risk.
“For deepwater areas later in the round, the government is expected to offer royalty and tax licenses, reflecting the high costs and risks associated with this type of exploration and development. Although the full details of this contract model have not yet been disclosed, it is expected to use a similar adjustment mechanism for the biddable additional royalty to that used in the PSC.”
Polymer Company Expanding
Precision Polymer Engineering (PPE), one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high performance molded elastomer seals, announced the official opening of its new manufacturing facility in Brenham, Texas, on February 12. The new site, which commenced production in November 2014, manufactures high performance compression molded components for the oil and gas industry as well as critical components for semiconductor and heavy equipment applications.
Strategically placed near Houston, the hub of the American oil and gas industry and the Californian semiconductor manufacturing base, the new 30,000sq.ft site complements PPE’s existing manufacturing facility in the UK and will include its own tool making, extrusion, and inspection departments in line with PPE’s flexible operating model. PPE’s existing delivery record has some of the quickest lead times in the industry, and now the opening of the Brenham facility will boost PPE’s production capabilities. The new facility opening event will bring together members of the media, customers, and key opinion leaders from the sealing industry at the site. There will also be BBQ and tours of the facility.
Paul Gillyon, Managing Director of PPE, added, “We have made significant investment in the new Houston facility, both in capital equipment and experienced personnel which will further assist us in delivering our value proposition to our core oil and gas, semiconductor and heavy equipment markets. We are all very excited about this new resource, which includes a state-of-the-art cleanroom, and the opportunities it will bring to PPE and our customers.”
Sealing solutions play a part in the success of many companies across a range of industries. Whether its oil and gas exploration, semiconductor manufacturing, or heavy duty equipment such as marine diesel engines, each industry requires different types of high performance seals in order to conform to increasingly stringent regulations. However, due to the expense and complexity involved in the manufacture of high performance elastomer materials, most components are manufactured to order where the process of acquiring appropriate, high performance seals can be challenging and extensive. It is therefore important that any provider of sealing solutions can deliver materials of the highest quality in the shortest possible timeframes.
PPE has a record of developing high performance materials for challenging applications. For critical applications in the semiconductor industry, PPE’s Perlast range has the chemical and plasma resistance needed to assure the required performance and process efficiency. PPE also offers a range of sealing solutions for heavy equipment applications in manufacturing and industry.
Russia Looks to Asia to Ease Oil and Gas Industry Pressures
External pressures on Russia’s oil and gas industry have compelled the country to seek partnerships with Asia-based companies to help with the production and marketing of its vast hydrocarbon resources, says an analyst with research and consulting firm, GlobalData.
According to Anna Belova, GlobalData’s Upstream Analyst covering the Former Soviet Union, Russia’s oil and gas industry has been hit hard by expanded U.S. and E.U. sanctions within its financial and energy sectors. The industry now faces limited access to financing, as well as limitations on technology transfers for unconventional and offshore developments.
Belova says, “These sanctions have led Western companies to reduce their operations in Russia. ExxonMobil and North Atlantic Drilling suspended their deals with Rosneft, while Schlumberger recalled some of its managerial and technical personnel from the country.
“As a result, the Russian government and industry operators have intensified their pursuit of partnerships with Asia-based interests, with countries such as China, India, and Turkey being the likeliest trading partners for Russia over the next decade. Following the cancellation of the South Stream gas pipeline to Europe on Dec. 1 of last year, Russia’s immediate alternative was to propose a subsea pipeline across the Black Sea for deliveries to Turkey.”
In addition to this project, Belova states that Russia and China also signed a memorandum of understanding on a new gas pipeline, Altai, on Nov. 9. Altai, the second gas pipeline to China announced last year, will connect Russia’s West Siberian fields to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.
The analyst continues: “Another major deal in Russia’s oil and gas industry is the potential sale of a small equity in Vankorneft, a subsidiary of Rosneft, to China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which will allow Rosneft to strengthen its relationship with one of its largest potential market partners.
“Vankorneft holds licenses for several fields in Eastern Siberia, including Vankorskoye, Russia’s largest field to be put into production in the last 25 years. Vankorskoye feeds into the Eastern Siberia–Pacific Ocean pipeline, with the majority of its crude output contracted to CNPC in China.”
Belova concludes that Russia’s deals with Asian countries are a prudent response to Western sanctions, as the new partnerships provide financing for Russian projects and secure a long-term demand center for the country’s resources in growing Asian markets.
Leveling the Playing Field for Businesses
By Corrine Sandler
Until now, businesses without the in-house expertise to write and design unbiased questionnaires could always turn to third-party research firms—if they had $20,000 or more to pay.
“In today’s economy, businesses cannot succeed if they can’t make data-driven decisions. Lack of research is one of the top five reasons products fail,” says market research industry leader Corrine Sandler, citing a Harvard Business Review report.
To help businesses make data-driven decisions, Sandler has developed an online research platform called ValidateIt, which is powered by Google Consumer Surveys and provides robust methodology at 90 percent less than traditional research.
Sandler notes that Google has been a leader in making information widely accessible to the masses. It’s now time to make insights available to the masses.
Sandler discusses how a platform like ValidateIt is changing the landscape of business intelligence.
Can today’s David-in-business compete with a Fortune-500 Goliath?
With the recent opportunity to gain current, reliable data for business decisions at an affordable price, entrepreneurs no longer must rely exclusively on inspiration from epic parables from the Bible. The old, Goliath-like prices for solid-market research and product development have been felled for the Davids of today’s entrepreneurship. In the spirit of Google’s original mission statement—“to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”—the price for world-class data doesn’t have to start at $20,000.
Is there any merit to the old way of gaining primary data for market research?
The “old way” refers to privileged data available to only the top percentile of businesses. Beginning entrepreneurs and small businesses, which constitute the majority in the business world, often ended up relying on unreliable methods such as intuition and gut feelings to make decisions. That lack of research is why 85 percent of products fail, according to a Forbes online report, Sandler says.
“With ValidateIt, decision makers receive 250 respondents, and the reports get to those decision makers within 24 hours,” that immediate, accurate and actionable decision making.
How does the platform help in product development?
Your answers are only as good as the questions asked—that’s where ValidateIt comes in through its scientifically designed questionnaires. IdeaRank is one of the research models launched. It will tell you whether your ideas are strong enough to withstand the competition and break through. The product development series of models will tell you the optimal price for your product, the realistic market demand for your concept, or product and even evaluate your choice of name or tag line.
“As we’ve experienced in recent decades, technology has leveled the playing field in a number of industries,” Sandler says. “Now, we’re at a tipping point for doing the same in market research.”
Corrine Sandler is a market research industry leader, CEO of Fresh Intelligence, international professional speaker, and Advantage best-selling author of Wake Up or Die. She’s the developer of ValidateIt (www.validateit.com), an online research platform powered by Google Consumer Surveys. Questionnaires designed by market researchers and distributed by Google Consumer Surveys return analyzed and aggregated responses with a 95 percent confidence level. Sandler’s mission is to make intelligence accessible to the world.
API: New Ozone Standards Duplicative/Costly
EPA’s new proposal to tighten regulations on ozone would be very costly and would fall on top of current standards that are already improving air quality, API Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs Howard Feldman told reporters in a preview of testimony API will deliver in public hearings on the proposal.
“The facts are clear: the current standards protect our environment without stifling jobs or harming our economy,” Feldman said. “We urge the administration to allow the current standards to continue working. When looking at the science, it is clear that the current standards are protecting public health. The nation’s air is getting cleaner, and air quality will continue to improve as we implement the existing standards.”
Ground level ozone in the United States declined by 18 percent between 2000 and 2013, according to EPA data.
“Further tightening the standards will not improve air quality any faster, but new regulations will add costs to jobs and the economy,” Feldman said. “As proposed, the new standards would impose unachievable emission reduction requirements on virtually every part of the nation, including rural and undeveloped areas.
“Even pristine areas with no industrial activity, such as national parks, would be out of attainment. Needless to say, operating under such stringent requirements could stifle new investment. This is nonsensical public policy and government at its worst.
“If President Obama is serious about lifting up the middle class and closing the income inequality gap, the last thing his administration should do is threaten jobs and our energy and manufacturing renaissance with unnecessary and costly new regulations.”
A new ozone regulation from the Obama administration could cost $270 billion per year and place millions of jobs at risk, according to a NERA economic analysis.
API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 25 million Americans.
Five Innovation Killers That Lurk Within Businesses
By Neal Thornberry, Ph.D.
The work of innovative thinkers is why the world has smartphones, laptop computers, toaster ovens, and numerous other gadgets and creative approaches to problem solving. Yet groundbreaking ideas aren’t always welcome in the corporate world or within other institutions.
Instead, those who suggest a different approach often find their ideas shot down by co-workers or blocked by an organizational system that is unwelcoming to change, says international speaker and innovation consultant Dr. Neal Thornberry. That doesn’t mean innovation can’t happen, though.
“The innovator needs to know how to operate in these less than friendly cultures without waiting for some miraculous transformation in corporate policy,” says Thornberry, author of the book Innovation Judo: Disarming Roadblocks and Blockheads on the Way to Creativity. (www.NealThornberry.com)
He says there are five innovation “killers” within organizations that a person with ideas can expect to confront.
Sometime it’s an individual, sometimes it’s a group. Regardless, people often resist innovation, and many times for illogical reasons. “The more rigid people reject innovation simply because they are uncomfortable with the new or don’t want to spend the energy to try something different,” Thornberry says. They may be quick to point out flaws in your ideas.
One way to counteract that, Thornberry says, is to be your own worst critic. Discover those flaws first and highlight them yourself. Then you can address how you plan to mitigate them, thus stealing the critics’ thunder, he says.
You can usually get around one or two individuals who try to block your idea, but it’s more challenging when the organization is rife with politics. “I hate working in highly politicized organizations,” Thornberry says. “They make work a lot harder and make you spend considerable time on non-value-adding activities.”
In fact, Thornberry devotes an entire chapter in his book to “Right Mindedness” so that innovators practicing his seven secret judo skills are not seen as innovating for personal gain or exploitation, but as enablers of company success.
An out-of-whack organizational design usually is not generated on purpose or with malice, Thornberry says. Instead it develops over time, with one well-intentioned move after another leading to unintended consequences. Often the result is a proliferation of controls, along with structures and processes that create barriers to innovation.
When an idea is blocked by layers of decision-making, one solution is to use leverage, Thornberry says. Enlist the aid of a customer who would benefit from the innovation, he says, because paying customers have huge leverage.
Here the innovator has both a challenge and an opportunity. Many companies articulate their values, but don’t always live by them. “The upside for innovators is that values can be used as leverage for innovation even if they aren’t true,” Thornberry says. For example, if the company declares, “The customer is No. 1,” then it becomes difficult to ignore an innovation that is positioned as being for the customer.
The corporate culture essentially is how the people, politics, organizational design, and values interact. “The greatest challenge to any innovator, and to embedding and sustaining innovation over the long term, is culture,” Thornberry says. To make it even more challenging, often organizations have micro-cultures within the culture. That means, he says, you will need to adapt the use of innovation judo principles depending on which micro-culture you are dealing with at any given moment.
“Innovators throughout history have faced both roadblocks and blockheads on their path to creativity,” Thornberry says. “And so will you.”
But with a little courage and some counterbalancing skills, he says, these challenges can be overcome.
Neal Thornberry, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of IMSTRAT, LLC a consulting firm that specializes in helping private and public sector organizations develop innovation strategies that create economic value by increasing an organization’s effectiveness and efficiency. A respected thought leader in innovation, Thornberry is a highly sought-after international speaker and consultant. He also serves as the faculty director for innovation initiatives at the Center for Executive Education at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Thornberry, author of Innovation Judo: Disarming Roadblocks & Blockheads on the Path to Creativity (www.NealThornberry.com), holds a doctorate in organizational psychology and specializes in innovation, corporate entrepreneurship, leadership, and organizational transformation.
The Importance of Traditional Follow-up
By: Russell Trahan
Bryan walked into his office and flipped on the lights. It had been one month since his presentation and proposal submission to an industry-leading executive team, and that morning was to be the date of their decision on whether to retain his firm. A look to the phone—no blinking light signifying a voicemail. A scroll through his Outlook inbox—nothing. Securing this contract was to be a pivotal moment in his career, and sure to be the determining factor in his upward trajectory in his office.
The minutes turned to hours and no word, and the slight anxiety became increasingly worrisome. Bryan had covered his bases and kept in touch—just last week he engaged in some brief social media banter with the team’s CFO. Simple enough to maintain an air of informality and ensure the lines of communication remained open.
His inbox dinged: it was the company’s CFO.
“Bryan, we appreciate your proposal submission, but we have decided to go in another direction. We require more consistent interaction from our business partners, and while we scheduled today to finalize our decision, we had yet to hear from you in the interim. We wish you the best of luck.”
The email hit him like a freight train. He had avoided a formal follow-up process in fear of seeming overeager or pressuring his prospect, but had maintained casual connections through his LinkedIn and Facebook accounts just to keep his name top-of-mind. While Bryan assumed the company would appreciate his distance while they were in the process of making their decision, it actually became the nail in his corporate coffin. They were awaiting his traditional methods of follow up, and his lack of correspondence instead conveyed that he was not the right man for the job.
In an ever-expanding digital business landscape, Bryan’s story is all too familiar. Many working professionals are exchanging established means of follow up, such as phone calls and face-to-face meetings, for quick messages over social media or email, and it is impacting their business relationships and bottom-lines. They sacrifice professional courtesy in an attempt to appear casual, and regardless of the many ways we can now communicate, when it comes to follow up, the best practices are the traditional practices.
Social Media is for Building Business Connections—Not Maintaining Them
Have you encountered a friend or relative that limits all contact with you to digital convenience? That one person who never fails to have a comment reserved for your timeline or feed, but you cannot recall the last time you actually spoke?
These individuals also exist in the business realm, and they’ve attempted to streamline their communication with an overkill-level reliance on their social media accounts. It’s not just a bad business practice—it’s bad overall form. Social media can prove invaluable when creating connections, but maintaining them—as is the objective when conducting follow-up on a potential deal—should always be reserved for traditional modes of correspondence. Anything less borders on lazy and unprofessional.
Avoid the “Are We There Yet?”
Once you’ve curbed your inclination for social media-centric follow up, there are parameters that should be adhered to when following up with leads. The first—and most important—is to establish an agenda when touching base with your prospects, and ensuring that each subsequent call or meeting occurs under the umbrella of providing new information.
There should be a concrete reason for picking up that phone, and a distinct benefit to the individual on the other end of it.
Any parent can describe road-trip trials and tribulations, and many of them will describe the maddening, constant cries of “Are we there yet?” from the back seat. That same irritated feeling occurs with continuous follow-up calls. There is a distinct difference between being attentive and being annoying—learn it, because your potential client is already well-aware.
Two to Tango
Bouncing off of avoiding impulses to flood your prospect with phone calls, you should actually give them the freedom to lead the interactions a bit. Allow them to dictate the follow-up flow by inquiring into their timeline and preference for the next call or meeting, and set a date.
Whether your next meeting is two weeks or two months away, your sales prospect has provided an appropriate date and time for your next meeting to occur. The onus is now on you to stick to the plan and pick-up the phone.
Set Your Calendar and Stick to It
The genesis of the business salesperson always harkens to a time when a man in a pork-pie hat would knock on door after door after door selling vacuums—the quintessential cold-call. There is now a palpable aversion to following up with established sales leads in favor of “keeping things casual.”
This only leads to one thing: missed opportunity. Let your calendar hold you accountable. Prior to the end of a meeting or call, be sure to pencil-in an appropriate time to follow up with your prospect, and stick to the date on the calendar. Keeping things casual may maintain pride, but it does not promote sales.
He was remiss with his follow up practices, and because of that, Bryan lost out on an important deal for his company, and for his professional growth. Lessons are often learned through unintended or unwanted consequences, and his silver lining exists in that going forward, Bryan will make sure to devote a large amount of energy and attention to the manner in which he follows up with prospective clients.
Russell Trahan is President of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target audience in print and online. PR/PR represents experts of all kinds who are seeking national exposure for their business or organization. Russell and PR/PR will raise your business’ awareness in the eyes of your clients and customers. For more information, please visit www.prpr.net or email AdminAgent@prpr.net for a free consultation.