June 5, 2013 Keenan

WITCE Wednesdays – Government Mandates

I’ve missed a couple of WITCE Wednesdays, my bad — sorry!  I’m enjoying the series, but if I don’t give myself enough time to research a topic, I end up not having time on the Wednesday it’s due. I want theses WITCE topics to be valuable, so if I don’t have a good one, I punt.

This week, I’m going to talk about mandates.  Mandates are a BIG deal and affect every business in the country.  Knowing the mandates that govern your customers can make you a fantastic partner and trusted advisor.

What are mandates? You political wonks know what I’m talking about. Mandates are a hot topic in the world of business and politics and generate a lot of discussion.  Why? Because mandates put rules on how businesses can be run and depending on those rules, companies have to do a lot of work to comply or be shut down.

Mandates are everywhere, effecting every company in the U.S., big and small.

There is OSHA (Occupational Hazard and Safety Administration) which mandates laws around safety and health in the work place. There is the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) which mandates laws around equal opportunity. The EEOC and OSHA are two government agencies which regulate every business in the U.S. via mandates and regulation. No business escapes them.  Another common mandate is minimum wage.  The FSLA (Fair Standards Labor Act) mandates the minimum amount of money a company must pay its employees.  Minimum wage is a perfect example of a mandate, a mandate that effects how a business is run. It mandates how much a company HAS to pay and employee.

Beyond broad mandates like minimum wage and equal opportunity, there are industry specific mandates like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). HIPAA regulates health plans, patient privacy, preexisting conditions and more. HIPAA plays a HUGE role in the healthcare and insurance industry  If you are selling in these industries, knowing HIPAA inside and out could be a HUGE competitive advantage to you. Imagine an IT consulting sales person within the healthcare industry who is familiar with HIPAA enough they are able to help a company avoid potential exposure in the design of their new customer portal.  That sales person and their company will be heavily valued.

Another substantial set of mandates comes from Dodd-Frank (Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act).  Dodd Frank was the government’s response to the 2007 financial crisis. It was designed to minimize the risk of something like that happening again. Dodd Frank is massive, mandating and regulating a vast segment of the financial world, from how mortgage companies can be run to how banks manage their reserves. It’s a sweeping piece of legislation that affects every aspect of the financial world. If you sell to the financial industry in any capacity the more you know about Dodd Frank, the more you will sell.

Mandates affect how a business is run. It sets the rules and guidelines affecting the decisions and options a company has. In many cases, the regulations and mandates are complex and wide-ranging. This leaves many companies exposed or potentially out of compliance.  Sales people who understand and are knowledgable about the mandates and regulations that affect their customers and prospects are uniquely positioned to win more deals.

What industry(s) do you sell to? Are you familiar with the government regulations and mandates affecting your clients?  You should be.

WITCE (What is the Customer Experience) Questions:

  1. What mandates or regulations affect your customers?
  2. Do the products and services you sell affect your customers ability to comply?
  3. Is there legislation currently under review that could affect your customers or prospects in the future?
  4. Are there potential compliance issues within your customers or prospects business your product or service can address?
  5. Does your product or service potentially create  unintentional compliance risk? (I knew of a great company that had a great product and in spite of heavy demand, it failed because it created compliance issues with FSLA)
  6. Are you capable of having solid conversations with your customer or prospects around the regulations and mandates that affect them?
  7. Do you have a process like Goole Alert to keep you apprised of regulation changes in your industry?
  8. Do you even consider mandates and regulation in your selling process?

The impact of mandates and government regulation on the sales process is going to range widely, depending on the product(s) you sell and the industry you sell to. However, those most knowledgeable about mandates and the regulations affecting their customers and prospects will be far more prepared to find the deal and win the deal than those who aren’t.

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