Date:   Thursday , December 04, 2008

If you think you understand the term ‘Winagement’, then how do you define the terms ‘Winning Management’ and ‘Winning Engagement’? These aren’t simple synonyms; it is a much deeper expression of our engagement with everyone in business that is implied.

The Beijing Olympics was the most spectacular event so far in the history of Olympics. This outstanding success was triggered by cohesive engagements managed by the organizing committee. It wouldn’t have been possible if the organizer did not possess the will to make these engagements succeed and eventually win over the hearts of millions and millions of people world over. There were scores of world class athletes who challenged each other to win in terms of their skills and professional competency. When we saw their performances on screen we also saw them giving their best performances ever. So, what does this mean for ‘Winagement’? Many things; let us start with first things first.

A role of the motivator is to motivate people to aspire to be better and to make things possible that otherwise look impossible. The role of a leader in an organization driven by technology is vital as he has gained insights into the process by learning from both the employees and the customers. Also, the leaders should themselves imbibe the art of ‘Winagement’ using some of the techniques used by great athletes to increase their efficacy in personal management.

Envisioning the Habit of Winning
With our customers, we should always look at ‘their win’ first and ‘our win’ next. If we envision our customer’s win, then we can win from the customer. In EDA Industry a lot of product and service companies work on future designs, and these designs are usually customer driven. When a customer wins a deal he considers working with the third party EDA vendor to accomplish his vision. So it’s very important and imperative to engage with the customer with the objective of supporting his vision always. Forming this kind of engagement and vision, over and over again, becomes a central motivating force for overcoming obstacles, because it focuses on the long term winning engagement.

We need to always feel the vision of the customer and imagine that at the end he will be engaged with us and only with us. Moreover, envisage that the engagement would last for a long term with significant accomplishments. By repeatedly working with such a framework will make you definitely have a long and ever lasting relationship with the customer.

Prepare the Psychological Dry Run
You should always prepare well, practice, and psychologically run through the behaviors. This is called the ‘Psychological Dry Run’ or ‘Psychological Run’. Practice your engagement intellectually and see where you are going. By doing this you can be as affective as the actual depth of the engagement itself. Nonetheless you need to mentally rehearse the results with proper reasoning, detailing, step by step plan, and approaches. This will help make your entire mental canvas clearer to accomplish your goals and achieve the results. The engagement strategy would be clearer if you could visualize the probable hurdles and the ways to overcome the same.

So, some of the questions that you need to consider while planning your psychological dry runs are:
* What will you focus on?
* How will you focus at it?
* What are all the things you have to consider while planning the engagement?
* What will you do if the engagement plan is not moving on the right path?

Shaping and Building Expertise
The psychological dry runs and envisioning would be of great help if you don’t know what you are doing when you make the first move. You have to build and shape your expertise for continuous development, understand the requirements of the engagement, and learn about the same. Wherever possible, network with others and utilize the training opportunities. Above all, always reflect on what you see, hear, and learn.

Winning Focus and Relationship for Success
One thing that stands out with winners and differentiates them from others is their ability to focus on their vision and tuning off other things. When faced with challenging tasks, you need to ensure that other things are not intruding on your thoughts. Nowadays, it is not just enough if you are honest, smart, hardworking, and are able to show results; it’s much more than that at senior levels. You need to set yourself apart in the relationship you build with customers and the people who have influence at the customer’s place.

Satisfying your Customer is just a Beginning for Deeper Foundation
We all aim at satisfying our customers’ needs and miss out going that extra mile. Due to this, the customers will start rating us on similar scales as that of the competitor. Therefore, to set yourself in a different league in the customers’ mindset you need to satisfy your customers to the point that you want to be engaged with.

Excellent engagement with customers is the most valuable asset to any organization, as it assures a strong, well sustained, and growing business. Such customers will be the first to grant big deals that are repetitive in nature and could also be a reference for other deals. Your goal, therefore, is not just to generate sales, but bring in loyal and engaged customers. The authors say, “The key to winning a leading edge is in building customer attachment to you, your company, and its products and services.” So focusing on building a foundation that is stronger and deeper is vital.

So How do We Build Winagement? Use the T-I-P of the Iceberg Approach
Usually, what we see during a customer engagement is only the tip of the Iceberg. All the emotions and real sentiments are always covered beneath. To win successful long term engagements you need to uncover the tip of the Iceberg and go deeper. So use the following T-I-P approach:

Gain ‘Trust’
We can gain customer confidence only if they feel that we are trustworthy. So it’s essential to keep up to our promises and commitments. To build trust amongst customers it is important to connect with similar competencies through analogous backgrounds. Building trust is a highly complex process and there is no fixed or planned formula for the same. Trust can be planned or developed through inexorableness. Surprises are always nightmares for any customer, so we should always deliver what we promise. Avoid commitments that you cannot keep and make sure that your product or technology works

Integrated ‘Integrity’
Always treat all customers with passion and business fairness. Most of the times customers are rational in their approach and do not expect something outlandish from you. They usually expect you to treat them in line with the business relationship and understanding. For instance, during a large deal you will make them understand about the rationale of pricing and packaging of the deal, focusing on your value and discount structure. You should always make them feel very special, even more important than the board of directors.

Passion with ‘Pride’
You should always make your customers feel good about your product and technology. This can be done only if they feel the product and technology are an extension of themselves and their needs. Customers should be proud of the products or technology that they use and it’s our duty to engage them to get this feeling. While engaging we need to be honest, honest, and honest; and never ever loose the trust factor of a customer. It is honesty driven by pride that will help our customers feel proud of the products or technologies they use. They must feel that they are important to your business, and that they have made a smart choice in dealing with you.

For great customer engagements we should continue making them feel good about their decision to choose us over our competitors. We should give them the kind of attention that generates a feeling of pride, even long after they have concluded the business deal. We should be passionate about our business and instill this passion in our customers and make them view our product or technology as irreplaceable.

Further, we need to peak our performances to win any customer engagements and ensure that the waiting approach is not part of it. We should never ever wait for a customer to request; instead we need to look at the prospects to be innovators on our customer’s behalf. We can only do this by going beyond the expectations of the customer and the normal engagement level. This will ensure a great and long standing engagement that will have its focus on a win-win relationship for ages to come.

In the age of ‘winning’ you can no longer simply look at a customer for a particular engagement, but instead you must look at ways and means to keep customers engaged with you for eternity. Through ‘winagement’ you need to facilitate everyone to listen to the customers, accumulate knowledge, and learn from each interaction in order to create more adapted value; it results in a condition where the customer feels the company is on their side - and the company’s engagement is complete.

‘Winagement’ or ‘winning engagement’ is not a passing phenomenon; it's an all time phenomenon with long lasting effects. You don't have to do things right only once in a while, you need to do them right all the time. Winning a business engagement may not be everything; but the will to engage forever is everything.

The author is Sales Director, Mentor Graphics.