What’s trending?

 Find out and do something different

I know the world of social media uses as one of its main platforms the idea of trending as an indicator of what someone should follow.  However, this means that a few will have set the trend while many others will simply be hanging onto their coat tails.  I am reminded of the quote from James Goldsmith

“if you see a bandwagon it’s already too late!”

I have always considered benchmarking to come with similar problems to trending.  You look around to see what other companies are doing, use this to create a performance benchmark and adopt it as your own approach.  The problem then is that most companies are doing similar things in similar ways which feels like a gentle progression towards mediocrity.

By all means look at the trends and also benchmark what others are doing but the clever thing is then to do something different, even consider doing the opposite.  I saw a post on LinkedIn recently suggesting in-bound marketing has lost its advantage due to overuse and too much poor quality content – is anyone surprised by this?  The post included a question as to whether outbound direct might be the way forward – again the person asking the question is looking at the dust from a bandwagon – some of us have always done it this way and may be reaping the benefits of fewer competitors.

When choosing which fashion to follow, assess the risks, not just the benefits

When choosing which fashion to follow, assess the risks, not just the benefits

When choosing which fashion to follow, assess the risks, not just the benefits

I once met Stanley Kalms, when he was still chairman of Curry’s, and he explained his “contradictory management” philosophy.  Basically, he would observe how managers were doing their jobs and as soon as a pattern emerged he would issue an instruction to do things in a different way. His view was that it stopped people getting into a rut and forced them to regularly have fresh thoughts.  A similar philosophy was used by someone I once worked for whose advice was to clean house regularly; suppliers, customers, markets, products and sometimes even our people.

So give this some thought.

  • If you have been doing the same things in the same way for say 24 months, take a hard look to see if you are ahead of the pack or in a rut
  • Look at what you do and how you are doing it and if most others are doing it the same way consider a change – revolution not evolution
  • If you look at trends do so with a critical eye looking for a different edge for yourself
  • If you benchmark do so with a critical eye looking at the weaknesses rather than envying the perceived strengths
  • Decide on the five, six, ten things that really matter to the business; the true critical success factors, and take a regular hard look at each of them to see if they are still as effective as you thought they were.  If these things are critical, it is critical they are done right.

The bottom line is; if you really want to differentiate yourself from your competitors you need to be doing different things or the same things differently, but whichever way, they need to be done well.  Just ask your customers; they are a great source as they have the only opinion that really matters.

Happy hunting!

First published on LinkedIn Pulse

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mouse in maze hunting cheese

Did someone move your cheese?

The question is inspired by a book; Who Moved My Cheese, written by Dr. Spencer Johnson first published in 1999.

The book tells an amusing story of four mice who live in a maze and in a particular part of the maze there is a permanent supply of cheese so life is good and easy.  Unfortunately a day arrives when the cheese isn’t there and the book goes on to illustrate different reactions to, and strategies to deal with, this state of imposed change.  Cheese is a metaphor for anything that we might want or need and in this article I explore two areas where many businesses are suffering imposed change to; the way they define and present their propositions and the way they take those propositions to market.

In the book, the mice handle the unexpected change in different ways and basically two of them stubbornly keep returning to the same place hoping the cheese will be there** while the other two, aptly named Sniff and Scurry, immediately go looking elsewhere.

** “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done
you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got” comes to mind.
W. L. Bateman

The message for any business; you must be in a permanent state of anticipation, ready and willing to adapt and ready to quickly embrace change as soon as the need is foreseen.

So where can the two heroes Sniff & Scurry help in this context?mouse in maze hunting cheese

Sniff out your real proposition

Your proposition is the combination of products, services and also your mode of operation ** (how you do what you do) that creates your unique proposition.  This is what you provide that customers can buy to address the needs and wants that they wish to satisfy.

**We were asked to undertake a review of customer satisfaction for an organisation where we were already working.  One important outcome was that customers liked them having a human, UK based, service desk that worked extended hours and was able to act to rapidly dispatch vital parts.  The organisation had been contemplating replacing the human service desk with an automated one – phew; lucky escape!

A reasonable question to ask is why, if the proposition was good in the recent past, has it become less attractive?  It is common that this happens and the main reasons are:

  • The proposition should clearly demonstrate your ability to satisfy customer needs and wants by delivering a positive means to achieve the required change. If these needs have changed then your proposition will no longer look like a good match. Someone may have “moved your customers’ cheese”!
  • You need to undertake research to understand what current needs/wants actually are and build this into you account management and new business selling processes.
  • Consider the price, cost and value of your proposition. Your price may look high compared to your competitors’, especially new market entrants, and you need to ensure the presentation of your proposition focuses on cost and value. The price charged by a competitor may be lower than yours but the total cost of ownership may be higher (for example the total cost of ownership for a cheap air fare is the ticket price plus all the extras they require you to pay); so don’t be shy, it is your job to demonstrate this to ensure the customer understands the full value they will gain from buying your solution.
  • A key part of the previous step is actually recognising and accepting your weaknesses – the proposition scope; what you say you can do, must be what you can actually do not what you wish you could do. If that scope leaves you vulnerable to competition you must act to address it otherwise your cheese will be moved!
  • It is common that suppliers consider their proposition to be attractive to certain vertical markets and if this is genuinely true then it is a valuable asset to have. However, it is all too easy to be seduced into believing you have a vertical offering, because you have a cluster of customers in the same type of business. The majority of businesses have horizontal offerings and the reason for the apparent vertical capability is typically based on an outbound marketing and sales focus on particular market sectors. This leads to a self-fulfilling belief which rarely stands up to scrutiny when a customer is really in need of a supplier with vertical business knowledge. This also means the supplier is limiting the breadth and depth of the market they can genuinely service.
  • When presenting your proposition avoid the trap of telling people what you do – tell them what they will get; paint the picture, help them visualise and understand what the end result will look and feel like. A common reaction to falling sales is for the supplier to start ‘shouting’ at prospects saying how wonderful they are but this usually falls on deaf ears. This reaction is often accompanied by internal conversations along the lines of “they (as in customers) just don’t get it” when it is actually the supplier that doesn’t get it.

In an apparent contradiction to what I have just said you should never lose sight of the fact that you might just have something that is genuinely new that people will want once they realise they have the need that you satisfy. When the Walkman and the tablet computer were first launched there was to some extent a leap of faith that people would want to use them. These products were creating the desire rather than just responding to it.

With any disruptive solution there will be a shortage of supporting information so the launching of such a proposition comes with a high risk of failure and this can be, and usually is, a costly diversion so; approach with caution!
Don’t kid yourself; be rigorous, do all you can to explore the potential but don’t get wrapped up in over ambitious self-belief, but having taken all these doses of cold water you might just have something that no one else has thought of.

Scurry off to your market

Your suspects’ profile will define things such as; business activities, processes and style, size, location and all other factors that together represent the type of organisation you think will be really attracted to your proposition and that you will be able to service successfully. This is how you separate the wheat from the chaff for the effective use of your resources.

Research and search for potential customers based on the profile and checklist you created. Bear in mind whether you have a truly horizontal or vertical offering and market – don’t be seduced into the wrong direction.

Consider the many options available to marketeers and decide on the right mix of marketing options to match the chosen market and your proposition.

In parallel with getting the marketing mix right you need to decide how you will handle all those nice warm leads. How are you going to turn them into customers providing you with profitable revenue growth? In short you need to decide how you will sell your proposition, which may vary to suit each prospect. Consider the tools and techniques you will need to use:

  • Techniques such as solution or consultative selling are very adaptable and often prove to be the most suitable approach.
  • Is your market mature and does it understand its own problems or might your sales people need to ‘educate’ prospects as to the range of solutions that are available?
  • If your customer has had their cheese moved they may have developed some prejudices about the correct solution to their needs/wants in which case your sales strategy must be robust enough to challenge entrenched positions and provide enlightenment. A word of caution; it may be that the customer has developed beliefs about their need and the potential solutions through contact with other suppliers so be careful not to appear to be rubbishing your competitors – focus on your positives not others’ negatives.
  • When the evolution of propositions and requirements start to move along different paths the engagement process often focuses on price which is a game with no winners. You need to ensure your marketing and sales thrust is based on Value and RoI not just the price.

In Summary

If you feel your cheese has been moved, and it came as a surprise, you need to review the way you are monitoring your business, your market and your customers. You must ensure your business management systems and processes provide you with pertinent leading indicators; it is much less painful to dodge the pothole than to repair the tyre after you’ve hit it.

Most of this article has focused on doing things systematically which is generally the safest route to success but you should also allow and facilitate free thinking as part of your business review and planning process.

Free your mind, break with convention, think the impossible and it might just become possible and sometimes the audacious land grab can work delivering a great jump in performance and results.

Having decided what customers need (or will desire) and what you are able to supply, you now have a guide that will help you build a profile and checklist to identify your likely ‘suspects’ and indicate how and where to find them.

What is Networking?

How do you know when you are doing it?

How can you use it as a new business development technique?

The word networking is used very freely these days and as a result the real meaning and value of networking can be missed. Some might argue that this does not matter as anything that helps you to meet others is all good. However, it seems to me that if you are going to spend say 10% to 20% of your time networking you really do need to know what you will get back for such a significant investment of time.

Networking has been going on for centuries although those who consider ‘events’ to be the epitome of networking often think it is an invention of the 21st century. While organised events can play a role in networking they are not the complete solution and typically only serve to provide very early introductions. The main problem with events is that most people are strangers to each other so this is only the first step, as you can only effectively network with people who you already know. I have heard this summarised as “know, like, trust” and, as well as being a necessity for effective networking, this formula is an essential foundation upon which to build new business relationships.

A well-documented example of formal networking is the coffee houses of 17th century Britain and perhaps the most famous example is Lloyd’s coffee house which morphed into Lloyd’s of London, the insurance market. The coffee houses were in effect clubs, some even required an entry fee, and the members knew and trusted each other so were willing to transact business together. It could be argued that the same atmosphere is created in a branded networking organisation such as BNI or iiB involving regular meetings with the same attendees; a community. The more randomly organised events, that are so common today, do not have the same organised structure so lack the continuity of the coffee house. On-line networking provides an equally fragile connection where it is impossible to “know” and therefore to “like or trust” the other participants so can be risky unless you can validate their on-line persona.

My brief answers to the original questions;

  • Networking requires one-to-one engagement with people, where you have an established relationship, who might be able to help you or who may have a need for something that you can do for them. I call this relationship reciprocity and if the relationship survives even when there is no specific need then the parties are genuinely in each other’s networks.
  • You know you are doing it when communication is interactive being triggered by both parties, not just one way, and it continues well beyond the first contact or the event.
  • Networking events can deliver a useful early stage in the process of new business development but will rarely be a complete business development solution. Read more on this

So, what is networking?

Let’s take an example; last week I was contacted by someone I had put into a job 5 years ago. He introduced me to someone who was looking to recruit a senior sales person, so I called another person I’ve known for 33 years who I know can do the job.

In another instance last week, I went through the LI contacts of someone I have known for 26 years and identified around 10 people of interest to me to whom he will happily effect introductions.

 That is networking!

Using LinkedIn for B2B Business Development

LinkedIn for Hunters

In talking to many others about LinkedIn there seem to be two main schools of thought. One says you should have as many connections as possible while another, less common view, is that you should be very selective worrying more about quality and relevance than quantity. I am in the quality, less is more, camp.

My thinking is to some extent shaped by the approach I have always used when looking for new customers; research, create a list, refine and filter until I have a small list of well qualified suspects that I then approach one-to-one. I have carried this approach with me from long before there was an internet.

I found support for my view some years ago when I read about Robin Dunbar who undertook a piece of research from which he coined the term ‘Dunbar’s number‘ which is about 150. This says that a human being can only effectively maintain around 150 relationships at any one time and if new relationships are created some older ones will have to go or probably fall into disrepair.

But many people would say they have many hundreds or even thousands of relationships as Facebook friends or contacts on Twitter or LinkedIn? Who is right; Robin Dunbar or everyone else? The answer is actually both. The on-line world makes it very easy for us to connect so with the click of a few buttons we can put someone else on the list of names we call our friends, contacts or connections. However, when Robin Dunbar did his research he was focused specifically on “relationships” which implies interaction between the parties and a mutual acceptance that there is a relationship that has purpose and will be worth investing effort to develop and maintain; this is different to a list of names.

Another idea on this goes by the name of ‘The 6 degrees of separation‘. Put simply this says if I speak to a contact of mine and they speak to a contact of theirs and so on and so forth, after six layers of contact I could have access to anyone else in the world. Mathematically this could work as it would only require every person in the chain to have 43 contacts to equal the current world population. So, for a much smaller number than Dunbar’s 150 it would appear that everyone in the world is available to us. However, this cannot work as it misses the point made by Robin Dunbar that to be meaningful, the connection must be a relationship and relationships are not infinitely transferable. This means that my friends’ friend is not going to be my friend unless I put in the work to make them so. They might be more inclined to meet me due to a transfer of mutual respect through our shared friend but from this point onwards they are a stranger.

While it could be argued that having many connections on LinkedIn, all of whom can view my activity, is rather like a market stall or shop front where the model has always been that people passing by are attracted by the window display so they come in to browse. That may be good for traditional retail, but this browser approach has never worked well for B2B.

With respect to invitations to connect; be aware that any you receive which only contain the standard texts, may have been automatically generated. Take the time to review the sender and start a conversation before connecting. They may be genuine, or a competitor seeking to monitor you, or just acquisitive. Their response to your initial contact may even set the scene for a blossoming relationship. Bear in mind, others may think this way about invitations that you send so always be genuine. You can end up black listed by LinkedIn if you get too many messages rejected by intended recipients.

My conclusion is that I see no point collecting 100s of connections on LinkedIn if I want it to be a part of an effective business development mechanism, so here are my top tips on using LinkedIn as part of a B2B go-to-market strategy:

  • Make sure you really understand what people buy from you and why.
  • Make sure you know (really fully understand) what your customer would therefore look like.
  • Use the above information to create a profile of where you are most likely to find your target new customers on LinkedIn; a good starting point is appropriate groups.
  • Share/post interesting external articles with a short introductory perspective on its value; it may be commented on or liked by your existing connections and thus receive wider visibility. It may just be seen by someone with whom your observation resonates regarding a current focus of their attention.
  • Get active on the groups; post comments and create your own discussions.
    • Look at who viewed you every day and if they are of interest look back at them so they know you have seen them.
    • Whenever you see someone that might be of interest to you, take the time to view their profile – they will probably see you have done this and look back at you.

    This is one method of laying the ground bait, piquing interest, before starting a conversation

  • You can reply privately to people in discussion threads, especially if they have also ‘viewed’ your profile; make sure you have something really worthwhile to say to them
  • You can send people In-mails; again make sure the message is individual, specific and pertinent to the other party otherwise it may be viewed as any other cold generic e-mail
  • Even at the basic level (non-paid) membership you have some advanced search facilities so you can search for people who are likely to be interested in what you sell; Location, industry sector, job title, etc. You can then approach them directly either by e-mail or better still by phone.

In summary; focus, filter and refine and then make direct outbound contact; don’t wait for them to happen by your stall or shop front.

Addressing the complete sales cycle

There’s many a sales methodology in the market, but most focus only on large deals, and typically only on the skills required at the point of sale completely missing everything that must happen before an opportunity has been identified.

Such sales methodologies fail to assist businesses with their overall sales process and their need to ensure their energies are focused where they will gain maximum return from their sales and marketing budget.

Knowing how to deal with an opportunity is great, but how do you find one in the first place? If all you do is respond to inbound enquiries what control do you have over the pace or direction of the development of your business?

Comparative focus of different sales methodologies

Comparative focus of different sales methodologies

Performative Structured Selling®  provides the foundation for your own go-to-market model. It creates a lean, agile selling engine that addresses the complete selling cycle enabling you to build a manageable customer base from which you can then fill your pipeline with opportunities that you can objectively assess for your chances of winning.  This not only helps the sales force to use their time more effectively, but also enables your sales management to deploy their resources for maximum return.

The Performative Structured Selling® framework permits the flexibility to incorporate the things that are already established and working well within your existing processes, into the final solution.

Performative undertook three assignments for us between 2002 and 2005 including the customisation and deployment of Performative Structured Selling® of which the key principles are still in use today. We have come to realise the true benefit of this robust methodology as it remains a constant in the business regardless of the changes in personnel, market and proposition. The work done by Performative created a great foundation for what is now a very successful business.
May 2009

Want to increase the return from your Sales and Marketing budget? Get in touch with us to discover how you can tune your selling operation and build valued customer relationships.

Business growth

Business Growth

Are you an owner manager or business leader, looking to take the next step?

As your business grows, so too the C level team may need to evolve; focusing more on strategy and less on operations, or delegating specific functions. Sometimes, trying to achieve this on your own can be frustrating and risky, requiring a steep learning curve.

In such times of change it can be more cost effective to use external resources to provide the particular skills to successfully design and implement the changes as they are likely to be significantly different to the skills required to maintain the new environment.  An interim appointment is often ideal for these circumstances.

We can work with you and your top team to develop strategic and tactical (sales) plans for:

Growth: providing support, advice and guidance for directors and owners who are dealing with the many problems arising from growing a company in today’s tough business environment.

“Performative has helped us to refocus on our current products and also to look at new markets and we are working as a board far more efficiently.” Director, International Mailing company.

“The work done by Performative created a great foundation for what is now a very successful business.” MD, IT Solutions company.

Succession: If business success has been heavily reliant on your involvement, it is natural to be apprehensive when handing the reins to others so you can devote more energy to the future of the business and coaching your successors, or to freeing you for your next business. We identify the profile of your ideal recruit and shortlist appropriate candidates for your final decision.

“In early 2010 we decided to recruit a Commercial Director to take over the management of the sales and marketing function from me and Performative designed and ran the entire recruitment project. The service provided was excellent as it allowed me to spend more of my time on business, both operationally and strategically, while Performative ran the recruitment project.” MD, IT Parts company.

“Having Performative involved in recruitment of crucial sales appointments gave me peace of mind to leave the UK and build our US operation.” CEO, On-line Education Support company.

Structural Change: drawing on a wealth of practical experience to support you in the preparation and execution of strategy for; new market penetration, acquisitions, mergers, outsourcing, floatation or post-acquisition/merger harmonisation.

“Following the successful completion of a Sales Performance Transformation programme, Performative continued to work with us in support of a plan to effect a management buy-out by existing senior executives. Their wealth of business experience and specific knowledge of the M&A market enabled Performative to provide me with real practical help in finding my way through the minefield of the MBO. In particular it helped me to understand what to expect from the accountants, lawyers and banks, and thus prepare for their processes in funding an MBO. Performative also provided invaluable assistance to the members of the MBO team. Without the support of Performative this would have been a much more difficult exercise peppered with pitfalls.” CEO, Communications company.

Exit: providing expert assistance in preparing your company to make it an attractive proposition for trade sale, divestment or MBI/MBO, enabling you to focus on business as usual and retain business value.

“Performative drove the process throughout, without which support either the business would have suffered or the deal would never have completed. Since completion Performative have continued to support us through the early stages of integration. I am extremely happy with the result they have obtained for us.” MD, Media Agency.

Feel free to contact us for a confidential discussion on achieving your growth plans.

Sales Performance Improvement

When something is not right, the pain points we recognise first and seek to address are often only symptoms.

  • Are the sales team are struggling to meet their targets?
  • In the search for new customers are marketing initiatives generating the response you need?
  • Do you find sales training effects are short-lived or negligible?
  • Do the new sales people you recruited live up to their promise?
  • Are you losing more deals to your competitors?

Individual symptoms, addressed in isolation can give short term relief but rarely provide a lasting result.

Performative recognises that while a remedy for the immediate pain is a priority, a holistic approach, diagnosing the root causes of under-performance would enable them to be addressed in the most appropriate sequence to assure sustainable improvement.

So how will it feel once we have completed a programme for you …

  • Customers will be happy and communicative at multiple levels, giving you advance warning of upcoming opportunities.
  • Your senior management will be able to identify and focus on strategic activities.
  • Sales management will have the tools to be in control, avoiding unpleasant surprises.
  • The sales team will be motivated and operating in harmony with the business goals.

arising from …

  • Your proposition, target markets, routes to market and collateral will be consistent and your outbound sales and marketing activities will be sharply focused.
  • You will have a defined end-to-end process from the initial identification of targets through the evolutionary cycle from suspect to prospect and eventually to customer, resulting in more closed deals.
  • Contacts and opportunities with least potential will be weeded out early; sales activity will be focused on contacts with the greatest potential.
  • Your staff will be fully familiar with the process and supporting tools, and understand the methodology sufficiently to immediately adapt to varying scenarios and customer needs.
  • Key customer account and new business activities will be balanced to achieve your business goals.
  • Your pipeline will be a known quantity, providing objective measures of business potential.
  • The pipeline will provide meaningful KPIs giving advance warnings of problems.

“Performative have unquestionably helped us to become better focused and more structured in all aspects of our selling activities. This has enabled us to accelerate the growth of the company with certainty which is a great foundation for planning and investing in our future.  Throughout the period of involvement with Performative we have found them very supportive and responsive and they have provided advice on a diverse range of topics. They are a great partner to have. “

If this is how you’d like your organisation to be, contact us now!

Identifying your sweet spot

Identifying your sweet spot

Ensuring you offer the right things to the right people;

Identifying your sweet spot

Aiming for the bullseye

The first step towards sales effectiveness is doing the right thing. This means ensuring your capabilities are honed towards a target audience that will best appreciate and hence buy from you.

By fully understanding your proposition and why your customers buy from you, you can be much more focused, targeting the right audience, delivering the appropriate value proposition to meet the buyer’s needs.

We can help with an appropriate mix of:

  • Workshops to uncover and refine your capabilities and marketable solutions.
  • Customer survey activity to identify the strengths and weakness of your current offerings. Customers are likely to be more open with an independent researcher, or with a member of your senior management team with whom they do not normally communicate.
  • “Secret shopping” campaigns to identify the brickbats and bouquets of your current face to the customer.
  • Market analysis assignments typically with the purpose of identifying and defining new markets, or trends and upcoming changes which your customers will need to address. This will help shape your approach to existing and new customers.
  • Competitor reviews to identify and develop your winning tactics and strategies.
  • Staffing review to leverage the talents of the team.
  • Routes to market advice and facilitation.

We’ll be happy to discuss how we can best help you meet your specific targets, so please feel free to call or email us now.

“We were very happy with the Market Research Report Performative delivered to us. It clarified our perception of the market and raised a few ideas for a different approach. ”

“It has helped us to refocus on our current products and also to look at new markets”

archer aiming arrow

Fire, Aim, Ready!

How to focus your sales team’s effort and what lessons we can learn from a typically B2C environment in terms of helping us improve our chances of hitting our true targets.

freeimage-245875-web

Despite the best efforts of the fletcher …

Yes, it should be Ready, Aim, Fire but sales people are always keen for “fresh meat” in the form of a new proposition or new prospects or both.  So, the arrival of something new is a time of excitement and expectation which often leads to over eager behaviour.  “Let’s get out there and sell it” will be their battle cry.

While I applaud the enthusiasm, there is a danger that all the hard work done during the product or service design stage could in part be wasted unless the same care and diligence is applied to the selling activities.

At some point the proposition must move out of the “laboratory” into the hands of those who must; engage prospects, turn them into customers, and actually sell them something.  This implementation of the go-to-market strategy and tactics is typically the responsibility of the sales force, channel partners, re-sellers, agents, etc.

archer aiming arrow

… it’s the archer has to put it in the target!

However, if those sales people rush out, ill prepared, “knocking on doors”, whipping up interest in the functions and features of the new offering it is likely that although prospects will show some interest, in some cases out of pure politeness, they will not go on to make a purchase.  The reason is simple; good selling involves uncovering needs and wants and then proposing ways of satisfying both.  Good selling also involves identifying suitable targets before expending too much effort.

In a classic B-2-B selling environment, but it could apply to any market type, this can be summarised as:

  • Through a combination of desk research and questioning identify those suspects that have the potential to become prospects (and eventually actual customers).  By this process of filtering you have reduced the potential prospect base to a more focused and manageable group.  You are now READY.
  • Having identified the potential prospects use structured questioning to qualify them and establish their real needs and wants and determine whether your proposition can actually satisfy both.  The questions are used to further filter prospects against your “ideal” profile.   You have now identified your potential customers and eliminated most of those that will ultimately say no to your proposition.  You now know who to AIM at.
  • Now you have your refined list of prospects that match your “ideal” you can commence FIRE.  The make-up of the firing stage will vary according to your market and proposition but in a B-2-B environment could include activities such as; webinars, product trials or demonstrations, proposals, presentations, RFT responses, and site visits to existing customers.  This can be a lot of work so it is important to ensure before you Fire that you take careful Aim having got yourself Ready.

The most common example that I see of Fire, Aim, Ready is the sales person who eagerly offers to provide a proposal having had a first meeting with someone who typically is not the decision maker.  They do not refuse the offer, after all it is free consultancy, but the proposal is very likely to miss the target because not enough work has been done (getting Ready) to know what or even where the target is, so it is impossible to Aim with any accuracy.  Such proposals clog up sales forecasts rolling over from month to month because no decision is being made.

If a company follows the process outlined below they stand a very good chance of being in the right place with the right product at the right time.