There I was once again, wiggling around with caution on a tight seating arrangement, trying to set up my temporary office for the day at Digital Business Day 2016 event, as a video with short looped yeah-the-future-is-here score invited and supported an attempt of pompous entry for the keynote speaker. I missed most of it, probably fiddling with power my cables, wifi and/or god knows what. People applauded, I guess.

Head still down, trying to send away something utterly important (sarcasm), a sentence penetrates all the obstacles of distraction:

“All my life I have been fucking up industries”.

Ok, I don’t know if you can say that, but you surely got my attention. What next?

“Boy, I have failed dramatically”

The major fan of failed attempts that I am, this statement resonated so deeply with me that I decided to put the endless email limbo on a pause for a while. -as if it would ever end anyhow.

The keynote was titled Gearing up your sales – how to create a winning culture, and in charge of the delivery side was Jonas Kjellberg, a serial entrepreneur with a tall feather in his hat from being involved creating Skype, a heavy weight guest speaker, and lecturer at Stanford and Stockholm School of Economics. Like Hans Rosling (most of you have probably seen him on TED) the sizable Swede was blasting away with excitement and quite remarkably able to get a one or two people from the audience to actually participate -not bad! ..being in Finland among Finns and all, that is.
Having had his daily portion of mocking the established academia and the usability of the most common business models they teach and after explaining how he once played along nicely with “the typical business bullshit” until realizing he was totally lost as a fresh CEO of a company: how do I get customers? Yes, this is what people tend to forget once too many times every now and then: no matter what (business) you do, there is always -or at least should be- a customer.
Flabbergasted by losing his once so beautiful playbook and in despair, he ended up reaching out for help and ending up familiarizing himself with the phrase “100 knack, 10 snack, 1 tack” know to apparently all door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen in Sweden. Getting down and dirty he realized that the formula worked, but the problem was the time being spent going physically from door to door but also even if he had people calling. He needed to increase frequency to get better results and so he did with a marvelous innovation putting computers to do the work for him.
Increasing sales frequency one way or another was one of the winning formula also in many of his latter success stories. Other important ingredient was the ability to utilize the resources that didn’t belong to you (“innovating from 0”) as in Skype’s case. Hearing about how our idle computers were way back when being used as super nodes for the network, made me realize how cunning and daring you have to be sometimes to make it. Yeah, Uber, AirBnB..  (*yawn*) no need to go there this time.

Along the way, competing against Google with Lycos in his sales oriented battle gear however, this was not the case anymore. Content was the new king. Additionally the customers were looking to have their content to be served with proper efficiency plus functionality and sugar coated with delight. Yes, delight!

Too many a times as a customer you are being offered in Finland something that most possibly lacks efficiency and functionality, but even if the ground work is done properly, the delight is missing. Unfortunately too many public sector services fail in all three of the previously mentioned; take Finnish Customs as an example for instance.

Skimming through a handful of success stories (yes Ikea too) the some things-are-not-really-what-they-appear-to-be -points were made (eg. Zalando is really a tech company) etc the session draw to a close with the three final questions:

What? (..are you selling?)

Who? (..are you selling it to?)

Why? (..are you selling?)

Answering these simple questions might not always be so simple.

Thank you Jonas for the injection of inspiration!

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