Thursday, December 29, 2011

Iowa Caucuses for Your Sales

What are the Iowa Caucuses anyway? Well if you don’t know, you can check it out here. In short, it is a popularity contest. A small group of people in an insulated area are give an extreme level of decision making power for the rest of the country.

So when you are selling to an account, who needs to vote for you first before you even get started? The CEO, the IT department, end user, management? Whoever it is, it is a personality contest.

It is what you say and how you look, do you pass the smell test, these are the things that get you in the door. By you, I mean your solution too, but generally you can get a meeting without ever showing your product, if they like you.

So go to those picnics, kiss those babies, and don’t be afraid to step in a cow pie or two and you may get “voted” to the next level.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

DOD Approves Android Devices

Security and technology just don’t play well together. Is that what you think, or have heard? Well they can, with limitations it seems. If you have never had to deal with Department of Defense (DOD) or Department of Energy (DOE) security, count your blessings.

Neither of these agencies slack when it comes to security. Before I moved over to software companies, I held security clearances for many government agencies in order to access and repair hardware and software inside facilities secured with men carrying automatic weapons.

I used to call it the place where time stood still. That has two meanings. First, anything you could do at an enterprise client’s site in an hour would take 6-8 hours. Hours to check software in, hours to get it approved, hours to get approval to install it, hours to get an admin to login so it could be installed. Second, employees were never allowed to have a radio inside, let’s not even talk about a cell phone.

So the times they are a changin’. I read post about the DOD allowing Android devices on their network, sort of. You can read it HERE. The short story is, 1 OS (Android 2.2), 1 device (Dell Venue). No access to classified data, no access to the Android Marketplace.

The first thought was are you kidding me? My experience has taught me that this speed of getting this type of device in the building is a huge step forward in the blending of technology and security.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Blog

I want to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas. For me, Christmas is a time of memories. Who doesn’t remember stories and memories from years past? I saw a picture of my brother and me from a Christmas many years ago, so long ago I don’t even remember. Even that picture triggered memory after memory.

Memories are an important part of life. We discount memories in business and think only in terms of process and performance. I am here to tell you, that memories will serve you better that data alone.

Data is cold, and Scrooge Liked it. Well, if not Scrooge, that is why business likes it. It is not emotional, it evokes no feelings. But if you are in sales, you know emotions drive you, teach you, keep you moving forward.

When you feel the ghost of lost deals past calling, do not shut them out. Take those feelings and emotions. Remember all the events, just like a Christmas past. Use those memories to make better decisions.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good deal!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Perfect Drink

What is your perfect drink? If you said water, stop reading now. Imagine your favorite drink. Now tell me why.

That is hard isn’t it? We can start to list some things like sweet or tart, cold, refreshing, strong, but it all blends into some odd muttering that ends with the statement “you know?”

So the answer is it is everything that makes it our favorite. Even some things that aren’t in the drink make it special. The memory of a moonlit beach with that drink has a lot of power.

How do we expect to make or keep ourselves as our customer’s favorite drink? If they can’t tell us why it (we) are their favorite, how do we make sure we are doing what it takes?

Provide the right ingredients, mix it well, and provide the right kind of experience, and how could it go wrong? Every interaction you have with them builds the experience, whether it is a moonlit night or a typhoon.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Democratic Support

Do you treat your customers like Kim Jong Il treated North Korea? Well maybe that is harsh, but do you give them just enough to keep them happy and keep them in the dark?

I was watching the news stories showing film footage of distraught women sobbing over Kim Jong Il’s death. All I could think was if you only knew what we know you wouldn’t be shedding a tear.

If you went away from your customers lives, would they shed a tear or jump for joy when they discovered what they had been missing?

We cannot run our customers networks like a closed society. You cannot be a choke point of information. We should have the Voice of America attitude. More information. More choices. More work. Happier customers.

Democratic support works for everyone, when it is done right.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It Only Makes Sense In The Moment

I heard Joe Strummer say this in the documentary about his life. He said when you get an idea, write it down. Even if you have to knock people out of the way, just drop to the floor and write it.

What ideas did you have today that made a lot of sense when you thought them? Can you even remember them now? Of course not. Why? You didn’t write them down or keep track of them in any way.

I make a point to keep track of my ideas. I do this by either emailing myself, or using the voice memo feature on my phone. Some of these ideas even make sense the next day. So while the thought process only makes sense in the moment, the idea itself can live on.

It May be a million Dollar idea, or just an idea in a million. Either way it is something that made sense in and for at least a moment, maybe it is work thinking about again tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Over Promise and Under Deliver

Well no one wants to do that, but it happens nearly everyday. In fact, today we are hearing about the Amazon Fire having that issue. It was marketed as a $199 iPad killer, but performance has been less than expected.

So it seems you can be cheap ($100 HP Touchpad) and some people will overlook the flaws, when sold as a flawed option, or you have to be able to kill the King. Lukewarm won’t get it done.

How do you do this with your products or services? Go big? Go cheap? Go home? Not a lot of other options. Do you market cheap or great? Great cheap rarely works.

It is important to keep to a consistent message from marketing to delivery. Improper marketing can set expectations that you may not be able to deliver on or it may limit the people who are interested in you based on low expectations.

People will buy cheap or great, just be sure what you are selling...

Friday, December 9, 2011

BYOD = Bring Your Own Device

Of course it could be BTOD or Bringing Their Own Devices. Whether you want them to or not, they are bringing them. They bring them, you have to manage them, it isn’t fair, but it is true.

So if you are a service provider, how do you manage this unmanageable situation? I recall some adviceI heard once. “Always give permission for people to do what they are going to do anyway, that is how you stay in control”.

Say Yes, not no. IT should not be a barrier to getting business done. No is an absolute, yes can have conditions. Yes, but...

So put in place the tools you need to easily control these devices and their unmanageable users. You owe it to your clients, their employees, and yourself.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

When Too Much is Too Bad

Ever wanted less interest in your services? Wish I had that problem too, but it is possible. Have you seen Flipboard today? They released the iPhone version of their product today and it overwhelmed their network.

The Good? People what to use their stuff, or at least try it. People wanting to look at your services and products are not bad...unless.

The Bad. People may be so interested in the idea of using this type of product that they can’t access, they may look for an alternative that will work today.

Way to build you competition's pipeline. Building market awareness is awesome if you are the one filling the orders you generate. Not so good if you are marketing for your entire industry. Can you hear me Cloud providers?

Building awareness is great, closing business is better.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Problem Solving verses Business Solving

I love engineers. Logical, straight forward problem solvers. That is really what I have been for many many years. Problem solvers look for solutions, get excited about a challenge, want to fix stuff, even if you shouldn’t.

Shouldn't might be harsh, maybe isn’t economically feasible is better. An Engineer’s time is valuable. Far to valuable to be spent on a problem solving excursion for a low probability prospect. Instead they should be Business solving. What is business solving you ask?

Business solving is monetizing your problem solving skills. In some circles it is call consulting. If you find yourself giving away your time and ideas and you are not charging for either, stop. You should be able to tell someone how you can help them fix their issue without giving it all away.

Give your engineers big juicy problems they can solve, but after the check has cleared.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

After a Week

Well All, after a week at a brand new position with Bradford what do I have to say? In a word, WOW. Have you ever stepped into a moving clock? If not, watch The Great Mouse Detective. It is a lot like that without Ratigan. I had forgotten what is like to learn a new solution while juggling.

Part 2 of the WOW is what a fantastic team of experts we have in the NAC space. From the Sales amd Marketing team helping our partners drive revenue, to the Support team providing expertise, to the Development team who has put together a product that gives amazing viability and control over the network devices and users, and last but not least, a Management team that will drive growth.

Part 3 WOW? How much the SMB space has been missing. Missing control without having to jump through hoops. Missing reporting for compliance. Missing a solution for ease of  BYOD and guest registration. I used the word missed, but really it was overlooked. Not the SMB space overlooking NAC, but NAC overlooking SMB.

Well no longer. If you are an SMB provider with customers who need compliance, and that means you, there is a cloud based, affordable, 100% channel solution available for you to deploy.

The only thing that stays the same in our industry is nothing stays the same. Providing the best solutions for your clients requires that you stay informed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

On a Personal Note

Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know this is not a blog where I write about myself. Instead I have always written about lessons I have learned in business or life in a short easy to understand way (I hope). Today’s blog is different.

Today I want to tell you about my decision to accept a position with Bradford Networks.

Bradford Networks is a Network Access Control (NAC) provider that is transforming the market by developing and delivering a cloud based NAC solution for the MSP and SMB space. (

I was fortunate enough to have a real icon in our industry, Amy Luby, ask me to join her in developing this offering for our channel, and I was honored to accept.

I see this as a huge opportunity to provide our partners a service that has been missing from their managed services offerings. It has been missing from their offerings primarily because this service has not been available in a format or price point for this market. Now it is.

I am so excited about this opportunity and I am looking forward to sharing more information about it with all of you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Power of Deciding

If the decisions weren’t hard, no one would pay you to make them. Make no mistake, you are paid to make decisions, not to pass the buck, form a committee, make a spreadsheet, hold a meeting, or be paralyzed by too much data.

No matter what your position is in your company, you must make decisions everyday that will determine the success or failure of yourself and the company. In fact, your entire life is a series of decisions. What is the only thing worse than a bad decision? Not making a decision at all.

I tell this to my kids all the time. Some decisions are easy. Should you steal something or not? Easy decision. But sometimes you have 2 or more crappy choices. Now you still have to choose, but there is no perfect choice. Sometimes there isn’t even a good choice, but that is all you have.

So after you make a choice, now what? You live with it and make it the best you can. So what is more important than the decision itself? How you deal with the decisions you have made. Don’t be afraid to make a decision because it might be the wrong one. Understand that any decision you make with any thought at all will be better than a random decision given to you.

Embrace the power of deciding.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Run It Out

How you ever heard this phrase? It is generally yelled by a coach near the end of a play when it looks like you are too far away from the action to make a difference. What the coach knows is sometimes you are close enough to make a difference.

In sales you may often find yourself running after a deal and falling further behind. This may be a time when you need to run it out. Keep pursuing the deal, don’t quit. It is not unusual for the deal you are chasing to slow down or double back and when that happens you will be right there.

This doesn’t mean you should run blindly after every lost deal. You need to be protective of your most precious resource, your time. You do need to run out every deal till you are sure it is totally out of reach.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Let’s Do It a Little My Way.

These words were spoken by Carson Palmer to the members of his new team the Oakland Raiders. As a new quarterback joining the team mid-season, they were in a tough spot. They need to jell and play as a team right away. They didn’t have the luxury of weeks of intense practice before their first game. They needed to go from 0 to professional right away.

How do you build a team? Consensus? Team building exercises? Or do you have a my way or the highway style? What Carson was saying was not my way is right, or your way is wrong, or even do it my way. He was saying the fastest way for us to get to the highest level is to do it, a little my way.

Who on your team could take you to a higher level if you did it just a little their way? Maybe it is time to put your superstars in charge and let them take you to the next level.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Who Do You Look Up To?

We all have heroes. From Superman to Mother Teressa, we have people we look up to, people we want to be like. So what do you do when you find out one of your heroes is less than you thought? Reject everything about them? Deny them? Act like you never liked them? Ignore the bad stuff? Well here is my take.

I try not to idolize anyone. Instead I admire and try to emulate traits and behaviors of people. I can then speak about what I admire about an individual as opposed to speaking about how I admire the person themselves. This fine distinction allows me to pick traits that will help me grow to be the person I want to be, not try and become someone else.

I am also able to continue to admire the traits of someone who may be tainted of flawed. Attila the Hun was not a nice man, hardly someone you would idolize. Yet there are many traits he possessed that could be channeled into positive, productive business practices.

I use the term Role model. To me a role model is not necessarily all or nothing. I highlighted the word role for a reason. Admire things about how a person performs in a specific role. I have had people that I admire their personal behavior, but abhor their business practices. They are still role models to me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Leverage Sales or Service?

Are you a sales company that fixes stuff, or a service company that sells stuff? Whatever your answer, you need the other one too. The question isn’t if you need to do the other, but how much and how well you need to do it.

Most salespeople who become business owners always believe they can sell their way out of any service issue. And service techs who start a business believe they can fix other peoples stuff forever. Both of them are wrong.

You should always leverage services to drive more sales, and leverage sales, to drive more services. In either case, you have done the hard part, getting the client to trust you. If the buy from you or call you for service, they trust you, at least a little.

If they trust your service, they should trust your opinion about buying. If they don’t, take a look at your style, you may need to step up the professionally. If they are buying from you, you should be able to grab those services dollars too. If you are not getting the services, take a look at your resources. you may be hiring cheap ahead of good.

balanced service and support, balanced clients, balanced checkbook.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Clean Spaces

I’m a piler. I make piles of stuff. It may shock you to know that this doesn’t go over well with my wife. She’s a shover. Anything she finds out of place, she shoves out of sight. My systems works because I know where I place everything. Her system works because she can see everything she wants to see. Our systems do not work so well together.

When she sees something out of place that I have piled, she shoves it. Now I don’t know where it is, I know where I left it, no idea where it is. This has turned out to be a good thing. It makes me not leave stuff in piles. Organization is hard to learn and a little shove discipline always helps.

If you had to describe your sales process, is it a pile or a silverware drawer? Both processes can work, but you have to know how your partners processes are as well. Shovers and pilers in one sales process will cause a wreak. This is never a good thing, unless your partner is as loving as my wife is to me as she is shoving my cables and connectors into another black hole.

Whatever style you have, own it. But don’t forget you are a team and everybody has got to give. a little to get a lot.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sleeping Sound

Decision Time. We all have those. So after you make your decision, how do you sleep? I wish I could say I always sleep like a baby after these decisions, but I don’t. Typically when I don’t, it is because my head and my heart are torn. So how do we stop this?

First, calm the buck fever. That initial rush of adrenalin and excitement about a decision. In this first blush, everything looks better than it is. Either time or logic can help you here, give it a rest or apply some common sense.

Second, list the five things you are loving about it and list the five things you hate about it. It is always easier to overlook that there is always the other side. Nothing is ever all bad or all good. Understand the trade offs.

Balance is the key to sleeping well. if you do not think about all the options while you are awake, you will think about them when you go to sleep. Right, wrong, or indifferent, a decision based on sound though will result in sound sleep.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Early Snow

Mmmmmm.... Snow in October. You know what I hate about it? It always happens before I’m ready. Hoses not put away, leaves not all raked, garden gnomes peering out from under 3 inches of snow. So when is the sales snowstorm due to hit you?

More importantly, what do you need to get put away today while the sun is shining to keep it from getting buried under a ton of snow. There is a reason your sales process should be on a timetable. First you need to know if it is dragging. Second, you need to close the deal before it gets snowed on.

Winter is coming. Whether your deals survive will be based on what you do before the storms hit. Clean up the debris. Get all of those nagging questions and details sewn up. don’t leave anything laying in the yard. Winterize, seal up the cracks and get plastic on those old windows. You have to foresee issues and be ready. Get the furnace serviced. Be ready to turn up the heat when needed. Get the resources ready to respond.

The storms will hit, and don’t get caught having to buy bread and milk.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Not Payton Him Enough

Not everyone is a football fan, but for those of you who are, you know what a horrible year the Indianapolis Colts are having this year without Payton Manning. Amazing how much one person can impact an organization. How is it he has such an impact?

Payton is able to do the three things you need to do to win, in any league. Read the defense, call the right play, and execute that play. While they maybe hundreds of quarterbacks who can read the defenses as well as Payton does, there are only tens of them who can also call the right play to exploit that defense, and there are only a couple who can then execute that play. Are you that type of salesperson?

Can you read the client’s needs? Their internal politics? Their purchasing process? These things are your defense. If you cannot see the traps, issues and problems, you are never going to be able to sell to them.

Once you understand the client’s defense, do you have a play in the books that you can call that “should” work? The old 42/split C level on 2, hut, hut! You have to have a plan to work with the client to get them sold, regardless of their “defense”.

You have seen the defense, you have called the right play now all you have to do is execute the plan. Can you do that? Should you call a timeout and get the right personnel on the field? This is not the time to drop the ball.

These are the three things that stand between you and the Hall of Fame.   

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Demo Energy

I face this problem, if not everyday, every week. Low energy when doing a demo, just another demo, and another, and another, never changing, always the same. This is my problem, not the prospect, the demo is new to them. I need to make sure it is feeling new to me as well.

So we know the causes. Too many demos, too much the same. So what are the options? Less demos? Not likely. Less demos equals less opportunities equals less deals equals less money. Scratch that option. Less the same? Ah, now we are talking.

Most of us don’t do the demo the same way because we are lazy, we do it because it works, it is logical. Let’s face it, most of our prospects are the same, at least in their needs. So we have worked out a demo work flow that is effective. Then we do it over and over and over.

The key is having different entry points. Think of your demo as a story and those of us that remember English class remember stories have three parts. A beginning, a middle, and an end. You can start your demo in any of these parts.

Often it is good to show the end first. Ta da! Look what we can do, now let me show you how you got here. Or the middle, here we are doing X, let me show you how we got here, or where we can go. And the tried and true beginning to end. Three options, less boring, for us and them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

When Leaders Follow

I read a story today on Michael Dell’s take on tablets, and the fact they were betting on Windows 8 as an operating system. Why? Android tablets flopped and other systems are just “noise”. Actually he said, “that Android is another opportunity ,but that market has not developed to the expectations Dell had”. So Android failed, we are doing something different.

So as you know I do, I started thinking... Is this leading or following? Not following a winner, but following an unknown path not taken by a loser. With apologies to Robert Frost, there were two paths in the technology woods, and I took the one that hadn’t failed yet... By doing so, can you be a leader? I say yes.

All of us make mistakes. Some of us learn from them. Some fewer of us can apply the lessons to future events. Most of these people are called leaders. Making decisions based on all the information available, past and present. Don’t think that to lead, every idea has to be original.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Allison Hasn't Stopped...

When should you ever stop? That is a little open ended, so when should you stop growing your career and skills? OK, sounds stupid, everyone one say it together, NEVER! But for real, when is enough, enough?

I started thinking about this when I saw that Microsoft CVP Allison Watson was starting to Blog again. My first thought was cool, she will have great information. My second thought was, WTH! why would she need to write a blog? She is a VP at Microsoft. I have had the honor of watching her speak from the main stage at a Worldwide Partner Conference, what more does she want? Then it hit me, the word is need.

Why do I write my blog? I needed to. I had things to say and blogging let me do that. I haven’t spoken to Allison, but my guess is, she needs to blog as well. When it is all said and done, we keep getting better and taking on more work to challenge ourselves and to grow as people. While I don’t consider my blog work, it is a challenge to write 5-6 a week.

So while I might not reach CVP at Microsoft, I’ll keep climbing and growing, and of course blogging, because I need to.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs Sales Engineer

This is not just a cheap attempt to take advantage of Steve’s death. There are many things I have learned from Steve Jobs. Watch this, Steve’s commencement address at Stanford University. If you learn nothing else in life, learn those lessons, and pass them on. One of the things that Steve Jobs has helped me learn, is how to be a sales engineer. No really.

What did Steve do during the Apple events? Three main things. He had style, he had a story, he didn’t get too deep in the details. Do these things and your demo won’t suck.

Have some style. Be memorable. Stay classy. Never need the sale more than your soul. We have all been sold to by both types of people, those with class, and those without. Who do you want to be lumped in with? Me too.

Help me help you. That is what a demo story does. Helps me help you understand how you will use the solution. Features don’t sell solutions, using features to solve problems do. So explain how the solution is going to be used, in an easy to understand, non-technical way. Talk to people, they wont bite.

How many details are too many? 20% less than you think. I just made that up, but I bet it is right. We think it is cool. Hell, I KNOW it is cool. Cool only sells if it is something that solves a problem and can be put in the story. Have enough details to answer their questions, not so much that you start answering questions they didn’t have, until now.

So thank you Steve Jobs for teaching me lessons neither of us knew we were learning.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Apple of Your Customer’s Eye

Amazing buzz today over the the upcoming announcement by Apple. I have seen several posts by people wondering how Apple is able to get everyone all worked up about their announcement. I look at it another way. I always see the excitement around Apple announcements as a grass roots movement. People are just that much in love with Apples products. I bet you wish your customers felt that way about you. So what has Apple done right to create this and how can you take advantage too? Lets look.

They aren’t Microsoft. They were able to draw a line between them and Microsoft and declare that their side of the line was cooler, less evil, hipper, less corporate, and power to the people. Whether you believe this or not, they have been able to sell it to their customers and society at large. How does this help you? It tells you that you should define your business ethics and lead with them. Make sure the entire company believes, or at least behaves with that philosophy. Make sure your customers see you as Luke, not Darth.

They limited outside innovation for the sake of control and security. It damn near killed them in the beginning, by limiting outside developers and manufacturers early on. But they had a vision of how they wanted tome products and company to be, and were willing to bet the company on it. They also secured a stronghold in several verticals. Graphic design comes to mind, and we know how many of those people helped build Internet companies. Well played Apple, well played. How do you do this? Have a plan. Don’t blow in the wind and jump for shiny object and dollars. Believe your vision and follow your plan, don’t let the naysayers stop you.

They understand what their customers want. They see a need, make a product and a market. Till the iPad was released, what was the last tablet you saw? My guess is some clunky laptop with a convertible top. Heavy, slow to boot, hard to use. They defined the market, defined the device, own the market. How do they do that? Superior UI design and styling. Hand an iPhone to someone who just got off a call on their old flip Razor phone and ask them to call someone, they will be able to. It works like they think it should. So how do you do this? Get to know your clients and provide what they need. Not only provide what they need, provide it the way they think it should be provided. you need to work the way they expect you to work, or they will look for a new vendor.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Spotifying the Gap in Your (Social) Life

Spotify took some heat from privacy advocates for the way they were handling the interaction with Facebook. They quickly patched that by allowing you to listen privately. So if you do want to listen to, oh I don’t know, Boy George or “disco hits of the 70s”, you can do so without seeming to be uncool to your friends, real and virtual.

Got me thinking about other things you might do that you might not want a digital trail, but isn’t the lack of a digital trail going to raise a red flag? If you wanted to ditch your girlfriend and go to the football game with your friends, how you going to do that? Even if you don’t check in, tweet, post, take a picture that is geocoded, how you going to stop your friends? Even if you stop them, where did you say you were? Where are the check ins from there? Groupon? Foursquare? Even if you said you were sick, you should have checked WebMD. You my friend, have a digital gap that needs to be filled.

This reminds me of the the way the Russians used to find our quietest subs, by looking for places in the ocean that had no noise. Those areas had no noise because our subs were so quite they made no noise, and so big, they blocked the background noise. We solved that by placing mics on each side of the sub that picked up the ambient noise and broadcast it on the other side of the sub through a speaker. Effectively filling the gap with noise. That is what we need, a gap filler.

So if we, the digital social generation, ever want to do anything cool on a “sick” day again, we had better develop a way to post ambient life noise, or the lack of  a digital trail may get us in trouble.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sick Sales

Ever had to sell when you are sick? Just want to pull the covers over your head and sleep kind of sick? Yea, me too. You know what I hate the most about it? I tend to close deals when I’m sick. Why is that? It makes me mad.

I started thinking about it and it hit me. I am more successful selling when I’m sick, because I have to focus on the important stuff. If I’m losing my voice, what can I say BEFORE I lose it? The sinus pressure is forcing everything but these 2 or 3 things out of my mind. I want to finish the demo and get to bed... It goes on and on, but points to the fact that short and simple sells.

When it is all said and done, we have generally said and done too much. Generally I would rather have them looking at their calendar to schedule another appointment, than looking at their watches wondering when this will end.

So think like you are sick on a demo. Keep the focus on 2-3 items. Cover them in an easy to understand story. Keep it short. Do this and drink lots of fluids, and you will be over your sales sickness soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Circle Share, Not Circle Jerk

An amazing thing happened yesterday, Google+ started allowing the sharing of Circles. This seems like such a small thing, but it has made an amazing difference in the number of people who are getting their message out.

I started following Robert Scoble nearly from day one of my Google+ usage. Robert has many contacts in the IT world and he has shared most of them by sharing his circles. Some people who are in circles he shared, posed that they had 4,000+ new people who added them to a circle, LAST NIGHT.

I am constantly amazed at the unique, high quality information that is posted on Google+. There is information that I find on Google+ that I do not find anywhere else. Today I noticed the difference between my Facebook News Feed and my Google+ Stream.

Facebook was telling me stuff I knew, or would discover, a circle people talking to a small subset of friends, family, and associates. Google+ was showing me stuff I needed to know, unlimited information feeds. What a difference. This doesn’t diminish what Facebook does, but it highlights what Google+ can be. So I look forward to more circle sharing, and less circle jerking.

Monday, September 26, 2011

OnStar, What’s your Facebook Account?

Well not yet, but with the announcement of the agreement with Facebook and Spotify (here), how long can it be? I read the story about OnStar tracking subscribers after the support call has been terminated, read it here. Where does it end?

I’m a full blown social media freak. I love the interaction, I love the way that data fits into more data and then can be shared. I love it when I know about it, but I don’t need my car updating my Twitter account for me if I exceed the speed limit, or pull into a drive through. What is the difference between social media and social tattle tailing?

For me it is sharing verses telling. I can share anything I want. If you know something about me and share, that it is telling. Information is power, power equals wealth, so telling is like stealing. Not steal moments of my life, I’ll share the good parts.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

We Ain’t There Yet…

Mashable reported yesterday that Gmail was down for some users. Story HERE. I guess my take is so? I am a believer in internet based services. Software, hardware, infrastructure, anything as a service, in fact I’ll even let you call it cloud. But just because some service I use is not available all the time is not news. The fact that someone thinks it is news tells me, we ain’t there yet. We still think it is a voodoo fad.

Without checking, I’m sure somewhere in the United States today, power, internet, cable, and water are out somewhere. Mashable did not do a story on any of those. Why? Those are accepted technologies. We know, even understand that the cable will go out, we are only really pissed if it is on game day. Being geeks, we might even Tweet that we are upset with the cable Gods, but we don’t question the decision we made to move from over the air network TV.

I would also guess, (without checking), that most companies who switched from an in-house email solution to a hosted solution have had less downtime with their hosted solution, than the reboot time for their previous email solution. My point? We are there, it is time for the media to treat these web based technologies the same as installed technologies.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Buy 2 Aspirin and I’ll Email you in the Morning

What? Well this thought popped into my head when I was on a webinar with Erick Simpson from MSPU. The topic of the webinar was marketing managed services and Erick stated that you should always market pain, not products or services.

So you should market the pain, headache. Sell the cure, aspirin. Do you do this now? I realize I am covering the same thing I did just a week ago in Marketing isn’t sales, but this is a new spin. Your marketing should be getting people to understand they have a problem. Sales will diagnose and cure.

Many companies want to grow their business and are looking for effective marketing to generate new customers. Are you actively marketing to your existing customer base now? My guess is many of your customers have Headaches and don’t know you sell aspirin. Always take care of your existing base, before you move on to new markets.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Headed Home

Vacation is over, it is time to head back home and back to work. Got me thinking about your sales process, isn't it time you brought it “back home”? By back home I mean back to basics.

In my years of interaction with sales people, rarely have I seen the sales process fail because the basics were done correctly. I have seen many deals fail because the basics were glossed over to do exotic things. Flying across the country to do an onsite custom demo? Great. Haven’t done a proper discovery and needs analysis? FAIL.

It is called a sales PROCESS for a reason. Is yours documented? All processes in your business should be documented, including your sales process. Step two? Follow that process.

If you are following an established successful process, you will close more business.
Get back to basics and expand.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Backpack Sales

I’m just returning from my backpacking trip in the Northern Sierra Mountains. I know a perfect vacation involves forgetting about everything in the real world, but I started thinking how much a sales process is like backpacking.

In backpacking, what you can carry is all that you have. You can’t have an unlimited amount of clothes, or food. Everything is carried on your back. If you want more food, lose the jacket, or carry more weight up to the point you can’t move. Sales is the same. You can only carry so many “things” at a time.

Are you cold calling 8 hours a day? No time left for closing calls. Going to trade shows? Hard to prospect. So when is the last time you emptied your sales backpack out on the floor and looked at everything you are carrying on a daily basis?

After every backpacking trip I evaluate what I took with me. Did I use it? Was it helpful? Was it too heavy for its worth? Only by doing this evaluation can I use the items that work, and make way for new items that might work better.

You need to do the same in your sales process. Discover how much you can carry. Discover what items you are carrying actually work. Discover what new items you should be using, and when it is all said and done, take a hike!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Marketing Isn’t Sales

Whether you are in Sales or Marketing you have a primary job. Gain new business. But these two positions are not the same. Small companies often have the same people do both jobs, but the function is different.

Steve’s simple description. Marketing says “look at me”. Sales says “I see you”. Marketing’s job is to get people to raise their hands and say I’m interested. Sale’s job is to show those people why they were interested.

Sometimes marketing sells stuff. You see an ad for something, go to the store and buy it. Do not count on marketing to close any significant portion of your business. To do that, you need to have a marketing message that is explaining everything for everyone. That causes the message to get lost. Marketing messages should be clean and simple, let sales give the detail.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sales Gambling

Many people think of sales as gambling. You start each month trying to build a jackpot. Done right, sales is not gambling, not even investing, it is science. Do X calls/Y demos* A emails = $. So what do you do when that process fails? Yup, roll them bones!

Sometimes a sales deal stalls and does not respond to science or logic. When this happens, the percentage of closure drops like a rock. The longer you wait, the lower it falls. So what can you do? Some call it a gamble, I call it a calculated risk.

History tells us doing nothing will not help the process. So with that logic we need to do something. Push harder, double down, go around, in short, gamble.

The gamble doesn’t always pay off, but guess what, neither does doing nothing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy Sales

I know most of you know my friend Karl Palachuk, if not, you should. He wrote a book Relax, Focus, Succeed. This is not meant to be a Karl commercial, but I would be happy to do that for him because he helps thousands of people with their lives and business. Karl’s book is about balance.

For me, balance equals happy. Happy people produce. So if you want to produce, be happy. Happy at work, happy at home, happy with yourself. If you are not happy with any of these things, you will not feel balanced. Without balance, your production will suffer.

When a salesperson is not producing they are not happy, anywhere. You can see the vicious cycle here. So if you are struggling to close deals, you may not need to look at your sales process, you may need to leave the office early and play with your kids.