Thursday, March 24, 2016

What is your number one?

Imagine everything you know about business, everything you have learned, all your experience had to go into a best of 64 bracket to determine the number one, best piece of business knowledge you knew? First, it would be awesome to be able to gather this information from everyone I know, but do you even have a clue what it might be?

If you asked me, I would spout something, but I doubt it would even be the best piece of advice I think is the best piece of advice, I would be more likely to state something safe and known that sounds really smart and profound. When I have had people tell me things that I had told them that made a profound impact on their business, I have either not remembered telling them that, or I thought it was something they should have known. So basically a casual, throw-away line. So why was it so important to them?

The best answer I have is that grass doesn’t grow on concrete. Seeds must be spread in ground that is ready to let them take root. Just like telling your teenagers over and over and over again, only to have them look at you with the stupid blank look on their face when they do it again. They grow up to become an adult and have the nerve to ask you with a straight face why you never told them they should do, whatever it is… Only the love you have as a parent stands between them and an MMA style beat-down at that moment.

Much like the partners, employees, and coworkers you communicate with every day, if they are not in a place to receive and use the wisdom you are sharing, it will go unheeded. Don’t be discouraged, don’t think you are wasting your time by sharing what might never be used. All it takes is one thought seed to take root and you may be changing lives with something you’ll never remember saying.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Skynet is falling The Skynet is falling!

How many times have we heard this? Y2K Armageddon, XP end of life, Criptolocker, and now 2003 end of life. Just because we haven’t had a major crash, does that mean we should just keep drunkenly driving down the pothole filled road?

The Internet is falling!

There were all kinds of wild speculations about what “Could” happen do to the Y2K issue. Everything from toasters not working to nuclear meltdown, and what did happen? Wikipedia tells us the following:

·        In Sheffield, United Kingdom, incorrect Down syndrome test results were sent to 154 pregnant women and two abortions were carried out as a direct result of a Y2K bug. Four babies with               Down syndrome were also born to mothers who had been told they were in the low-risk group.
·        In Ishikawa, Japan, radiation-monitoring equipment failed at midnight; however, officials stated there was no risk to the public.
·        In Onagawa, Japan, an alarm sounded at a nuclear power plant at two minutes after midnight.
·        In Japan, at two minutes past midnight, Osaka Media Port, a telecommunications carrier, found errors in the date management part of the company's network. The problem was fixed by 02:43           and no services were disrupted.
·        In Japan, NTT Mobile Communications Network (NTT DoCoMo), Japan's largest cellular operator, reported on 1 January 2000, that some models of mobile telephones were deleting new         messages received, rather than the older messages, as the memory filled up.
·        In Australia, bus-ticket-validation machines in two states failed to operate.
·        In the United States, 150 slot machines at race tracks in Delaware stopped working.
·        In the United States, the U.S. Naval Observatory, which runs the master clock that keeps the country's official time, gave the date on its website as 1 Jan 19100.
·        In France, the national weather forecasting service, Meteo France, said a Y2K bug made the date on a webpage show a map with Saturday's weather forecast as "01/01/19100". This also occurred on other websites, including, at the time a general-purpose portal site primarily for AT&T Worldnet customers in the United States.

Now whether there were fewer problems due the millions of dollars spent to make the required changes or the problems wouldn’t have been much worse will never be known. We can make an educated guess that adding all of those “00” to countless databases had some positive impact. I’ve never been sorry when I’ve been proactive.

The United States Navy still uses Microsoft’s Windows XP, they were not proactive. The decision to use the obsolete operating system costs the Navy $9 million every year and the total bill could be nearly 30 million dollars. For procrastinating. New figures from migration specialist Camwood show that 11 million machines are still running Windows Server 2003. As I write this there are 4 days until end of life of server 2003. Why are these 11 million machines not updated? Is it the cost of the software? The manpower cost to install and migrate? Apathy?

How many of your clients are still running server 2003? Are you pushing them hard to upgrade? Are you going to purchase extended support at $600 a server? (about the cost of 2012 R2) Are you having them sign documents releasing you from responsibility if they get hacked or infected? Are you adding additional measures to stop potential infections? Making additional backup and business continuity plans?

Just because the sky hasn’t fallen in the past is no excuse not to look up to make sure it isn’t going to hit you this time. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Technology Technicality

We need technology. I mean we can live without it, humans have for millions of years, but today, we need technology. Everything thing today is technology driven, from banking to soda machines. How many people are kept alive each day due to technology such as pacemakers and dialysis machines? (I’ll let you do the math.) Needless to say, a lot. Today, technology is important.
Please Stand By Technical Difficulties

Today was a tough day for technology. There were three major outages.
  1. United Airlines
  2. The New York Stock Exchange
  3. The Wall Street Journal

United stated a router issue was to blame for the airline to request a ground stop for U.S. departures. The New York Stock Exchange halted buying and selling of stocks for about 3 ½ hours due to what it called a "technical issue". A spokeswoman for the Wall Street Journal said its website's outage was still being investigated.

Three seemingly unrelated issues happening on the same day that point out one glaring fact, technology matters. Technology matters and the ability to keep it running and available is job 1.

I read an article written by Andrea Chang and Tracy Lien for the LA Times (Here) that had some really good quotes from several security experts. In my opinion they boil do to this; these are complicated systems, they will never be perfect, we can’t stop them from failing, but we can prepare for when they do fail so we can recover quickly.

So the experts are telling us that businesses need a Business Continuity Plan. Everyone who knows this raise your hand. OK, now if your hand is up, keep it up if you have a written and tested Business Continuity plan. Lost quite a few there didn’t we? Why? Why would you know you need one and not have one? Apathy? Cost? Odds? Whatever your excuse is, it isn’t good enough.

Even very small SMB companies spend many thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours setting up technology to run their business. If more than 10% of your yearly technology budget isn’t for security and continuity you are doing it wrong and you’re leaving yourself exposed.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Role by any other name…

Would smell so sweet… Well, that is how Shakespeare wrote it (more or less), around 400 years ago. It hold true today in my mind. And it is front of mind for me right now, as I start to expand my function as our MSP Evangelist. When I started looking at what I need to do in this role I realized that I already do all of this stuff…

How do you answer when someone outside your organization ask, “What do you do”? Is it a generic I’m a salesman. Or a technician. Or I manage operations, what does that even mean? I have always found myself, in hybrid roles. Having a primary responsibility and all kinds of “stuff” that I help with. So if I say I’m a Sales Engineer does it mean I’m not an Evangelist, and vice a versa?

I have always done events, and webinars, and blogs, and demos, and meetings, and calls, and I have always done them. Done. Helped. Worked with. Participated. Never owned. That is the biggest difference with having the role verses doing the role, owning the role.

So I guess when someone ask me what I do, I should answer with what I own.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Training the Trainer who Trains Trainers

We all hit the point where we have to expand, grow, add people. Have you thought about training people before you hire new people? I bet not. After you hired people and struggled to onboard them, did you develop training for the next people? I bet not. Do I sound negative? Let's just call me a realest. 

I have created training material for many different types of users. Many times. End users, internal sales people, technical sales engineers, vendors, and many others. know the hardest part? Keeping it updated. Creating training material is a daunting task, one so big many of us don't do it. It is one of the best investments you can make, but you need to do it smart. Here is a list of some things to consider when building training material.

  1. Who is your audience? Basic or advanced, internal or external? If at all possible, MAKE ONE MULTIPURPOSE DOCUMENT. This will save you a ton of time.
  2. Assign the task to a specific person or group, don't let it become an orphan.
  3. What format will it be in? Video, recorded screens, PowerPoint, PDF, or Word Documents only matters based on how your audience will learn best.
Follow some basic rules and you will soon have some material that gets everyone in line faster with less time and effort than ever before.
Well Trained, even if they can't read

Monday, December 30, 2013

Rub a dub dub

Remember the old Nursery rhyme that went like this? 

Rub a dub dub,
Three fools in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick maker.
Turn them out, knaves all three

There are 3 other "fools" you might meet in channel sales.
Order takers, Account Managers, and Sales Managers. Now I'm not saying all salespeople are fools, but some fools are salespeople. Let's talk about the differences between them.

Order Takers
If you call your vendor and tell them what you need, you are talking to an order taker. Some of them can answer a question, or transfer you to someone who can, but they are purely reactive. They enable a sale, but they don't and can't help you grow your business.

Account Managers
If you receive a call from your vendor, you may be hearing from an account manager. Yes, they can take an order, but they can also help you and your sales team make an order by providing strategic information and incentives. You should be leveraging your vendors account managers by putting them to work for you. Have them analyze your customer base, look at your margins, create go to market plans with the vendors marketing team. All this will cost you nothing and the value can be huge. What can't an account manager do for you? Sell. Sell or help your new salespeople sell better.

Sales Manager
Thes sales managers are hunters. They can help you close new business. They can help teach your sales staff how to close new business. If you have a vendor that has field sales people, use them. Open your customer base and do joint sales calls with them. Have a lunch and learn (use the vendor's marketing budget). Have them present at a staff meeting. Great sales people are hard to find, let your vendors help you create some.

Don't dread a call from any of these, use them, leverage them, cash in on them, or you may be the only fool in the tub.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Selling a better vintage

We all have to do this these days. There is nothing you have to sell that your potential client doesn't all ready have or know about. So it isn't like we are trying to sell water to thirsty people, we are selling them a better vintage of wine when they have a cellar full.

What is the first thing we learn about buying wine? Taste it. In fact, tasting can be an art form. The type of glass, how much to swirl the glass to get the right aeration, which wine to taste first, all of this can effect how the wine tastes.

So when you are selling a product or software to a prospect that already has a competing solution, you want them to taste your, they will demand to demo your solution. But, you have to control the tasting. You need to place some controls around the test so your product tastes best. 

When they demo, how long they demo, what they demo, how you help them demo, all of these can spell the difference between success or failure. Don't trust them to learn as they go, you have to guide and train them.

Here is to a successful demo, cheers!