Due Diligence – Commodites

I have mentioned this before, but my my perspective as a participant is that the most important first steps in any possible deal is due diligence … not only of the buyer (if possible at this stage) but ask for their source and the verification of all the information that a “contact” brings to you from their own communications.

These steps are essential in my view ..

  1.   What is their position in the chain of people who have brought the deal to you? If someone is more than one or perhaps two people away from a mandate or a buyer … it will be highly unlikely the deal will proceed … if you are a contact make sure you verify formally where you are in the chain with the buyer… also if you wish to be paid, make sure that the Buyer or their mandate authorises you to offer their requirement to your contacts.
  2.   What work have your contacts done to ensure the “buyer’s” veracity? and what have they accepted without question from their contact – this all reflects on the credibility of the contact and the possible deal itself.

Other Important points are :

What form has the enquiry come in? Verbal, a written via a general letter of Intent or letter of interest …. or via a Bank, a Hedge fund or trading platform – first step in to check when the enquiry was issued, if it is out of date ask for enquiry with a current date. Then contact the issuer to confirm it is valid.

Our first step after we have done the above is to ask for a profile of the buyer, then once received, do due diligence on the information therein – first thing is to check for dates, as so many times statements provided in these briefs can be verified or not by doing a simple google searches for location of offices, Corporate Officers and company registrations are fairly straight forward … also then search for corroborating articles in relevant news sources, concerning the alleged buyer. If no articles are found it is likely the whole enquiry is a fiction. If you have any doubts I would suggest contacting a due diligence service before you take it to a seller.

Statements made in concerning say tank storage can be verified, the easiest way is to do this is check with the relevant port facilities.

If you are a seller or direct to a seller, insist on talking to the buyer or the mandate … if you do not get the information from a gatekeeper, the least stressful option is to insist on the contact, if it is not provided, walk away.

If a contact insists on having a commission agreed to before connecting you, it is way to early for this, as the commission for the buyer side is specified by the buyer mandate … issuing a commission split before you have had an contact with a buyer, is basically a waste of time, the buyer or the mandate will specify who will be paid and how much, the seller mandate only controls the commission on the sell side, although in some circumstances I have agreed to allocate an amount to a buyer contact, the amount of which varies greatly but the basis of it comes down to what work they have put into the deal, if someone has taken an enquiry from their inbox and sent it out without any due diligence, which means we have to do all the work, then if a deal culminates the commission would be no more than a small spotters fee … nothing is for free … if a contact wants a commission he has to have actually contributed to the deal.

For me I will give a contact two chances …. for every deal that does not complete affects our own credibility with the supplier or refinery … hence if a deal does not complete due to a foreseeable error or oversight, you get one more chance and then we shall no longer engage.

Although this post actually applies more to Oil, minerals & other refined commodities as well as crude Oil, this general procedure also applies to such items as Gold, both bullion and unrefined such as Dore bars and nuggets … if you have any interest I shall post on this topic in the future … in the meantime, I wish you every success.

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How to build Online Influence without seeming to

I have watched with interest how organisations that operate in the Social Media sector .. and I have some observations about how to define your strategy

Lets start with the function of Social Media
….

Social Media is not a direct influence or sales path …. it is a tool to build a contact .. to build a relationship and ultimately to add to an experience of your brand from which you can then leverage, while you continue to add value to the overall experience.

Social Media is the Internets replacement in this insular world for your sphere of influence … you community, your friends, and those organisations that you are interested in engaging with.
Social Media has been hyped up to the point where people are living their life in this cyber space instead of the real world … please take note … Social Media is not your life, and the most important people in your life, are not on Twitter ! Well they shouldn’t be … professionally speaking I believe many mature bricks and mortar organisations would be more successful especially on Facebook if they de-activated their account – their strategy is all one sided, and is all about providing the information that they believe is important – which is not how you build a relationship .. One thing, numbers of Facebook does not means that they are actually listening to you … but on Twitter … I believe they are more engaged and therefore interested and note, the un-follow button on Twitter is a heart beat away.

In the early days, very early days on Twitter, on another account I did an experiment with that exact scenario .. and then changed the nature of the feed .. the response was immediate … that feed lost a large number of followers .. and note people remember … that … if you don’t value them .. well enough said

Now lets look at how to build influence

It is built by engagement and valuing the people you connect with, but you MUST speak with your own voice and from your own values …. if you do not offer up something of yourself then what makes you different than the thousands of voices of the Internet .. that say .. buy this .. do this .. see here … your strategy must be to enhance the experience of your followers … their world is made somehow brighter by following you on Twitter or any other Social Media channel, in other words you provide something they want in their life.

I have seen worthy organisations who are so focused on getting their message across, without seeing the other side of the picture …. you need to involve people in your world on a more personal basis or should I say your persona …. which on the Internet is not the same thing .. well it shouldn’t be. Also if you are speaking as the voice of a organisation, you need to follow strict protocols of how you engage … what you say .. and how you say it … bring your personal views of what they did, or how they have treated you is counter-productive and will lose you followers.

There are specific processes and strategies to interest, to engage, involve the customer / follower, to retain them and use that connection as a leverage to a wider audience … but so many are missing the mark here …. to start look at your own interests and those sites you follow and ask yourself, why am I interested in this information, and how do they retain my interest and how do they interest me enough, that I want to re-tweeted my message to my followers … this is a critical point … to a large extent I choose the people I follow and likewise unless I believe they overall experience of my feed will be enhanced and will add something to my message … I will not engage … so I this is how I value them by not devaluing our relationship –  and therefore I will only re-tweet a message and content that I can relate to … and I believe my “friends” for want of a better world will find of value …. basically because I do.

At the end of the day … you need to remember on thing .. this is Social Media … it is not a one way passive “relationship” as in Mass Media, it is or at least it should be a engaged interactive relationship, that value and engage with your people … to build a joint experience, and note joint means together …. do not make the mistake of seeing your followers as a means to an end .. as the equivalent of email fodder … value them, respect them and you will succeed … don’t .. well we know what happens if you don’t.

Comments Off on How to build Online Influence without seeming to Posted in Engagement

Introduction to Issues surrounding Engagement Consulting

I was recently speaking on chat to a friend of some problems I had with trying to impress on 
the company, the seriousness of their disconnect with their end clients who were, after all, you know real people… (like them?) it sort of went like this..

We are all much more creative than we give ourselves credit. Sorry for my disconnection with you … I have been trying every which was I can to relate and communicate to non-creative (C level Operations & Executive personnel ) to get them to comprehend what I consider as real business concerns … they consider as irrelevant emotive concepts like customer experience, engagement, feelings, and other more tangible concepts such as sustainable growth (that they understand) and future growth strategies that require innovative and out of the box thinking .. any real growth without innovation is a fantasy .. future real growth will come from disruptive products and services that fracture and re-define the markets

I am certainly passionate about those areas …. where the corporate world think they are operating in a vacuum …. the psychological aspects of individual C Level career success restricts focus, narrows perspective & may break engagement & understanding of customers – I think it more than breaks the connection with the customers … except for those very rare people who have their feet on the ground – not too many of those …
Its amazing the mess that this one issue is causing the likes of News Corp, HP, Netflix, Yahoo and the obvious one is the looming changes facing Mass Media … you know Film, Mass Media (TV)+ Cable + Newspaper + Magazines .. Amazon must be loving this ..

I am been quiet on the blog, because I have been trying to process the so many changes since the uncloaking of the morally reprehensible behaviours of News Corp and a separate free lesson on how to damage your brand and lose over a million of subscribers courtesy of NETFLIX, Yahoo and the bickering … and the fork in the road that HP find themselves — put there through their own bad strategic planning … and lets not forget Delta who are without doubt the singularly worst client and customer culture I have ever observed in a company ….. and finally what the death of a truly inspiring creator, Steve Jobs will mean for Business in general but for Apple in particular, so I will come back here … give me a while to compose my thoughts and we will get at it.

PerhapsI can point to a letter sent by a recent passenger of Delta by my friend Sandra Maxey … here is the link … @sandymaxey Letter to Delta Airlines CEO – http://bit.ly/qcPxoK

But a couple more points while  we are here, I am wondering if we are all in the mess because of the MBA Program … it may make business understandable, but business is not a thing, each company is a life, made up of their own dreams and aspirations, full of individual people whom it might be nice to think are actually going in the same direction as the company, (most aren’t because of flawed Corporate cultures) and the most important aspect, their customers, who are all real people, who want to be valued and engaged … and refused to be categorized and sorted just so it makes it easier for the company to dissociate themselves from this truth .. companies are people … so are customers, people even own it … (maybe not directly) people manage it, operate in it, and who they sell their product or service to … you need to value them or basically become irrelevant .. you will cease to exist.

One last observation, the large aspect of the MBA attitude is one of expedience .. which is kind of abhorrent to me .. however that aside, recently I heard that Harvard and Wharton Schools were adding ethics classes to the MBA .. what a total wast of time, ethics, principles and integrity is not something you can teach, it is something that has to be part of your values, the actual make-up of your personality – if not, when you are put under pressure they (ethics) will not be your go to code of conduct.

So I would say again, to change the way the world thinks we need to teach our children what is really of value – and guess what its not money .. more later

Engagement & Content

Content of an interesting discussion …. starts the thought processes !

My thoughts at the moment, seem to be focused on “engagement”, the reasons why we aren’t and the bigger picture of flawed corporate cultures caused by basic systemic issues … as I said in the feed yesterday “Everyone is connected, but are we really connecting ?” – I think not .. or worse if we are … we are not listening. I have some views on the reasons for this … but it amazes me that organisations including governments seem to just go through the motions and are seemingly indifferent to the reality .. which is why their stakeholders .. us .. are not engaged (normally) with their strategies … this comes down to the education of the “masses” as well, as for the Gods in the marble halls – we are just too ‘aware’ for their own good.

However with the fragmentation of the mass market in all areas, including mass media, the outcome for me is that instead of organisations making systemic changes to move with the social and technological changes to improve their internal cultures and thus the engagement and transparency with “us”, they basically keep going the way they are going, and one day when the financial world is sorting through the carcass of what were “great” organisations (including governments probably) … they will ask .. too late .. “How did this happen” ?

To cut a long story short, there has to be change in the way things are done … we all need to realise that so far as the Universe is concerned we don’t amount to a hill of beans as individuals (but together ?? ) … as Carl Sagan said in his own meditation … we are just this little blue dot in a relatively small galaxy, within the infinity of the Universe, that’s the reality of our significance … numberless blades of grass or the grains of sands on every beach … in every world springs to mind …

So what can potentially makes us different .. one thing, which is “what if” we believed in engagement with each other, in true transparency (not just the words) we can become magnificent working together .. so what exactly is stopping us .. fear of “everything”, ego .. perhaps !

But we need to start, with one small step, how about within your own circle of influence, and then the circle will grow, and soon (this relies on engagement) .. we have the ability to foresee the magnificence which can be a social engaged one world … utopia, even possible ?? … it must be possible as I can see our potential …probable .. I hope so .. I hope I see the start of it before my time is over .. well this time around anyway.

There needs to be one thing, a world wide social revolution, that holds Governments at all levels accountable and likewise all levels of business … how about we bring all levels of abuse and inequity to the surface …. without all of the hype and b/s of the news organisations who are basically there to sell their own product, their content… so we come back basically to transparency and accountability … so long as there is a “rating” to be improved .. we cannot trust in the ethics of the organisation, who are only motivated by money .. for me (now) money is like the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow .. when you get to it, there is nothing there … and I can tell you from personal experience that money and materialism does not make you happy … but I guess that is something you need to find out for yourself.

By the way, if I hear one more time, “We have always done it this way … “ but this is my point exactly … and here you are talking with some organisation that is in need of change, sometimes surgical change. In any organisation, you must be proactive and always be curious and strive for excellence. To drive policy … that is the function, or it is supposed to be of the Board / owner and the CEO .. to work on the question .. here is the direction we we want to go, how do we get there ? Too many CEO’s work in the company and therefore never understand the reality which is that their company is not entitled to anything .. they may have the best / greatest most exciting wiz bang product or idea in the Universe, but unless you really engage with your market, (before – you take it to market, so they are part of the process) – it will rarely succeed.

This post seems more about engagement rather than content … so next time .. content for your publications …

Ok .. time for my exercise …