Beacon Client Stories

The following are 4 examples of how CAN’s Beacon system has been deployed to help companies.  When reading this post it will become obvious that CAN’s systems are catalogues of intellectual property that are used to help people sell, market, retain, manage and plan smart.  Since we are constantly developing new technology, surveys and mathematical models it is easier to focus on solving our customers’ needs, instead of on our technology.  At the end of the day no one cares how we do it, they just want solutions to their problems.  Here are some of the solutions we have delivered using our Beacon system:

  • Client Match Making: CAN built a survey to match managers and clients based on personalities, the needs of the clients and the strengths of the managers.  This resulted in increase client satisfaction and high project profitability.


  • Reseller Program: One of our clients had a reseller network to distribute their products.  They competed against other providers to become a core provider of different products.  CAN utilized our Beacon system to determine what would help our client become vendors preferred provider.  The result was a plan that segmented different resellers by what they valued, as opposed to wanted, in new products, marketing support, provider support and compensation.


  • Project Management: One of our clients, an architecture/engineering company, used CAN’s Beacon system to determine how to optimize their project management strategies.  We segmented projects by type of project and type of client to build a model that determines what they should bid on the project, who is the right project manager, and how many employees should be involved.  The model also provided a risk factor for each project to determine what the risk of the company losing money on the project.


  • Feedback from the Field: One of our clients with thousands of salespeople has used Beacon to improve their lead generation process by having their salespeople complete an 8 question survey after each client interaction, and completing a long survey each quarter.  The result is a monthly report of what leads are effective with different segments of salespeople, what types of leads should be generated next month, and whether the leads are delivered and called in a timely manner.

How to Adopt a New System

I am biased towards systems because CAN builds simple systems to help people work smart.  The other day I noticed that a new employee wasn’t using one of our systems to complete his work. When I confronted him about this he responded, “I am not an systems kind of guy”, and my response what “No one is naturally a systems kind of guy.” I have never met someone that enjoyed using systems at first, because it feels unnatural or the person feels that the system is creating unnecessary amounts of work. All of this is true.
Systems feel unnatural because they force people to work in standard ways, and well designed systems are built to create standards based on best practices. Systems do create more work because they require us to put our thoughts into data that can be stored and transferred, however this allows us to handle more work since we can focus on processing information as opposed to storing information.
Some of the keys to adopting a new system in your organization are:

  • Marketing/Selling the New System: People don’t like change, and it is likely that most of your employees feel that the current system works just fine.  Make sure to market your new system so that your employees understand what problems the new system solves, and what the features of the new system are.  Make posters, videos, websites and emails explaining why it is important to adopt the new system, and host user groups so that people can learn from each and offer ways to improve the system.
  • Single Point of Failure: If you adopt a system, anything that doesn’t happen within the system should be treated as if it didn’t happen. You have to be firm and not backdown. Any exceptions will erode the adoption. When it comes to systems adoption three legs are better than four.
  • End Support for Old Systems: When you officially adopt a new system, cut support for the previous system.  Your new system will be undermined if any employees are allowed to continue in their old ways.

What experiences have you had with adopting new systems? Any interesting tips/tricks?

How to Increase Your Capacity for Change

Tadd and I have experienced a lot of change over the last three years in business as we have had to learn to run a business, increase our technical skills, and adapt to a rapidly changing industry. Consequently, we have had push ourselves to explore new opportunities, viewpoints, ideas and ways of doing things. In other words, we are constantly working to increase our Capacity for Change.
There is no shortage of brilliant ideas. However, successful implementation is rare. Implementation faces many barriers to success, which include, but are not limited to: politics, complexity, budget constraints, and counter productive habits. However we have found that the most common barrier successful implementation of a brilliant idea are individuals’ capacity for change.  Typically, capacity for change is a function of creativity, resources, intelligence, education, flexibility, values, risk tolerance and beliefs.
Tadd and I have tried to increased our capacity for change by:
Being Patient: Successful implementation doesn’t happen over night. It takes time, and sometimes years. We learned that if our goals were constantly changing we would never be able to accomplish any of them. Now when making goals we try to take a Long-range Focus and set goals carefully and accept that it might take a couple years to accomplish our goal. While we try to have patience we also are constantly looking for incremental progress towards our goals.
Make Space: We have reduced the clutter and commitments so that we can make space for new things. Right now we make space by setting aside time during Saturdays and holidays to explore and implement new ideas. We also try to systemize as much as we can so that we don’t continually have to do the same things over and over, and instead spend our time implementing new ideas.
Develop Horizontal Friendships: Everyone needs best friends. However, having a large number of horizontal friendships can also be valuable. Horizontal friendships are friendships with people that you wouldn’t be friends with naturally. Horizontal friends typically have different interests, lifestyles and personalities. If you spend time with these people they will increase your capacity for change by introducing you to new ideas, products and people outside your normal sphere of influence.
Stumble Upon Ideas: Some of the best advice I ever got was to just read everything I can, and not worry about retaining what I read. This sounds counter intuitive, but my mentor explained that I should make it a habit of stumbling upon knowledge. Everyday I try to scan Twitter and LinkedIn for interesting articles or ideas. Weekly I try to spend time reading a biography, a business book and a technical journal. I don’t care about when I finish, but only that I expose my self to the opportunity to learn something.

An Organization Structure Designed for Knowledge Workers

organization structure
CAN was started to provide great jobs to innovative and creative professionals.  Our organization structure is designed to help people focus on what they are good at and enjoy. Each aspect of our organization structure helps us attract people that a results driven (as opposed to ego driven), multi-discipline, and creative.  The following some of the ways that we accomplished this:
1. We separate management and technical roles to allow technicians/managers to focus becoming better technicians/manager instead of having to switch gears and learn new skills.  This creates an environment in which the next step for a good technician is not to become a manager, but instead to become a better technician, and the same from managers.  In addition to keeping people focused on their skills, it also helps to screen out people with egos driven by title instead of accomplishment or skill level.
2. We carefully curate layers, and only adding what we need.  We currently only have 3 levels of technicians and only 2 levels of management.  Limiting the number of layers encourages collaboration because people are able to talk across different departments and with people of different experiences and skill levels.  The number of levels and departments will need to expand as we grow, but our goal is to rigorously question if a new position, department or level of management needs to be created.
3. Each month everyone including managers are encouraged to produce at least one new or improved piece of intellectual property related to CAN and present it to the team.  This provides a way for people to be creative with a purpose, requires respect and trust of peers opinions, and provide a learning opportunity for each person on the team.
4. We encourage our employees to expose themselves to the best ideas available.  We encourage continual learning, exposure to multiple disciplines, and discussions about interesting topics.  Innovation and creativity at CAN come from the synthesis of ideas from multiple disciplines and sources.  For example, the first thing that we train analysts is design principals instead of more mathematics.  This helps them organize their work, and communicate their results for effectively.
CAN’s Three Way Test of Organization Structure:

Our models provide the foundation of our client’s business, and so we work hard to make sure that our models reflect reality so that they generate reasonable predictions.  One of the best ways that we do this is the CAN Three-way test.  The CAN Three-way test requires that each model we produce can be backed up with theory, data and math.
  1. The Theory: Without a sound theory, you have to rely on randomness, and that decreases the long-term usefulness of the model.  CAN relies on the expertise of our clients executives, managers and employees to build the theories around our models.
  2. The Data: CAN makes sure to fully understand your data, because data is the raw materials used to build predictive models.  CAN will examine patterns in your data to determine which equations to use to model your data, and also determine the quality of your data.  CAN is able work with imperfect data, we just make sure that we understand the flaws and limitations of your data, such as potential bias etc.
  3. The Math: CAN’s analysts go through hundreds of different models to select the right one that fits the data as well as the theory.  This doesn’t mean that we always select the equation that has the best line fit, but instead the equation that fits both the data and the theory.

How to Succeed at Cold Calling

Most people think that cold calling is a waste of time, but you can learn how to succeed at cold calling. Instead of hoping that someone purchases or provides you with a referral, cold calling allows you to take control of your sales process, expand your network, and close more deals. Click here to learn how we can help you select the right prospects.
Cold calling allows you to focus your sales efforts on your ideal customers that are ready to purchase, and you are able to control their entire customer experience. Referrals are great, but they often provide you with less than ideal clients who already have preconceived notions about what your company can do for them.
The first key to successful cold calling to research your leads before you make first contact.  You want to look for indicators of need, willingness and resources.  Using this information you want to outline your contact strategy, sales pitch and closing strategy.  Your goal should to be to build relationships, and this means that you won’t be able to work a list of hundreds of names.  Instead, I recommend cold calling between 10 and 25 people a month.  This will give you time to research them, quality them and make several attempts to contact to request a meeting.
The second key to a successful cold call is making first contact. No matter how targeted the list or how much you know about a person, picking up the phone to someone you don’t know is nerve racking for even the most polished salesperson.  You have to just pick up the phone and confidently take the plunge.
On the first contact your only goal is simply to get a face-to-face meeting. This can be in person or virtually such as over Skype. The most important thing is that you end the call with a clear next step. At the end of the first contact you should either have a meeting rescheduled, a request for a follow-up call or take the lead out of your sales pipe.
Getting a face-to-face meeting before you try to sell the lead is important because a large amount of human communication is visual. This means that your sales pitch will be most effective face-to-face, and you don’t want to waste your sales pitch over the phone talking to a complete stranger. Also, most sales people are very comfortable talking to new acquaintances in person instead of over the phone, so in person your sales presentation will come across much more confidently.
Confidence is essential because people buy confidence, so your voice can’t quiver, break or shake. You need to appear confident. To help you convey confidence, you need to be very well prepared with what you are going to say. Many of the best sales people have a large repertoire of stories that they use everyday with almost everyone they meet. Your preparation should focus on developing your main points and using them to respond to questions. Focusing on your main points instead of writing out a word-by-word script will help your presentation flow smoothly.  I would also recommend role-playing with a peer by having them ask you questions.

At CAN, we use predictive mathematics to find people that have the need, willingness and resources to make B2B purchases over $20k. While CAN provides the leads as well as all the research needed to develop an effective sales strategy, actually making the first contact is left up to the individual sales person. If you are not used to making cold colds, making first contact can be challenging. One of our clients developed an interesting solution. They developed Most Wanted posters of their leads, and sent them to business connections and friends. On the posters they included the persons name, photo, company and most importantly an explanation of why they believed the person would appreciate an introduction.

Purchase Values Not Features

I have learned to make my business purchases based on values rather than features or price.  Sometimes because of this philosophy I can’t find a vendor with a system that has everything I need or sometimes I have to wait until I can afford the right solution, however in the long run I am rarely disappointed.  Purchasing based on values provides a constant in a world of change, because I know how vendors will continue to develop their solutions so that future versions will be able to keep up with my changing business needs.
Your Business Systems are your Standard Operating Procedures. When you purchase a system, you don’t want to purchase a system based on features, but on the way the company does business. Since the system will provide your employees with standard operating procedures you want to purchase your system based on the manifesto of the company instead of the features of the product. If you purchase by manifesto instead of features, the system will reflect your Standard Operating Procedures and the updates to the system won’t be surprising. You might not get everything you want out of the system, but in the long run the system will be a better fit for your organization.
When developing CAN’s website and marketing materials, we made sure to include our manifesto on the front of our website.  This is because we are not finished building, and we want our customers to know where our products are headed.
This is because I know how they will choose to build their company to meet my needs.  The world is constantly changing and if I don’t react to new technology and purchase based on a companies values/manifesto instead of features, I will be disappointed.  The capabilities of technology and the needs of my business are constantly expanding.  If I purchase a system based on its features, it will quickly become obsolete because the system no longer parallels the way that I have chosen to run my company.  However, if I purchase a system based on values or manifesto, it will change when my company does.
This is especially true when purchasing B2B technology solutions.  Your business and technology are in constant change, so I would recommend purchasing a business system that is capable of changing along with your business. This will help you minimize the risk and cost of building and maintaining your own systems. Also, if you end up not likely a system that you purchased you can always purchase another solution.

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