Friday, April 29, 2011

What can’t be bought

There are items that can’t be sold or bought. How often we forget that in the day to day. I give a major tip of the hat to Karl Palachuk. He has always driven home the point of Relax, Focus, Succeed.

If we only had a week to live, would we care? About anything? Would we be honest, open, excited, about everything? It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day that we forget about the most important things. Every time something happens in my life that makes me think I need to focus, I do…for a while. Every time I say I will not forget…I do.

This is normal, and I will not act like I am above failing, but I want to be. The fact that I want to be better makes me better, makes me human.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Putting the Vert in Vertical

Are you selling in verticals? By this I mean do you actively market and sell to specific segments of your market, not that you have one client in every segment. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.

If you are marketing to a vertical and not getting any lift, maybe it is time to try another vertical. An elevator that doesn’t take you up is just a closet with buttons. Maybe time to move on.

Look at where you are to see where you need to go. Look at your customer data in your PSA for alignment. How many in each market segment or business line? Get out of the Noah’s Ark period of your business and really grow the areas that work for you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where’s the Beef?

We all remember her, looking over the counter yelling, ”Where’s the Beef”!? How many demos have you been on where you wanted to yell that? Me to, too many.

Do you start your demo with the beef, or the fixings? Do you spend hours talking about how the bun is made and toasted? Does it have cheese? Great, if I want to know what kind, I’ll ask. I can tell you one thing, I have never gone back to a burger joint because they had good toppings. I have waited in line to buy a great handmade burger served on paper.

You know what your prospect needs, or you better know. Show it to them so they can buy. Once you show them what they need, you can show them what they want. Do you want to supersize that?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Watching clouds

No, not those clouds…Actual fluffy water vapor clouds. Hah, you are thinking I don’t have a technical sales tie in here, but you would be wrong.

This is one of the first really nice evenings we have had this spring. Storms are coming, but it is beautiful now. I am watching a cloud high above, slowly changing, moving, and flowing with the wind. It follows the air currents at the level it is. The wind here at ground level is blowing left to right, with gusts. Up where the cloud is, right to left and smooth sailing.

What are the trends in your market? Are they blowing you left to right or right to left? Maybe you haven’t found the right level yet. Maybe you need to get off the ground and soar to a higher level. Just because something is working for you, doesn’t mean it can’t work, look up.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Time Equals Money

No matter who you are or what you sell, time equals money. It may be their time and your money, or the other way around.

Often when you sell a product like I do that is a service tool, I need to show how using the product will save the user time. Once that user has saved the time, they can now “sell” that time to their customers, turning time into money. Potential money anyway.

Well gee thanks Mister Wizard, what if I sell TVs? How do I make time enter money in that sale? If I were selling a TV that sells for $2000, I might say something like this. Once your eyes open in the morning, you have a limited number of hours to do anything you want. You make a choice. When you make the choice to watch TV, you deserve to watch a quality TV. If you watch just 2 hours of TV a day, this TV will cost you less than $10 an hour for that first year.

Time always equals money. For work dollars, entertainment dollars, for your dollars.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


We all know what a Sitcom is, something funny based on the situation it is in. Some of those laughs wouldn’t be funny, or appropriate, in a different situation.

Same is true with a sitsale. Something salesy based on the situation it is in. Every this about sales is situational. What you do, when you do it, how you do it, all depends on the deal. There are no absolutes.

One of the key’s to a great salesperson is being able to read the room, see the situation you are in and understand how you need to read the lines you have. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Telling what you do.

Do you tell people what you do, or what you do better? Odds are, you are not the only one in your field. Other people sell the same thing. How do you sell yours?

I hear a lot of demos for a lot of products. Some good some not so good. Even really good demos sometimes miss the mark. They do a great job of telling the generic product and need, but not the specific.

If you have a headache, which product would you use? Aspirin, Acetaminophen, or Ibuprofen? Once you pick a product, which one do you choose? Tylenol, Bayer, Bufferin, Ecotrin, Advil, Motrin IB, or Nuprin? What form? Pill, capsule, gel-cap? So if you had to demo one of these products, how would you make it the product I would want to buy?

They all can help a headache, but why your product? What does your product do better than the rest, not the same as the rest? 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Duck, Dodge, Deflect

How do you not talk about what they want to talk about, without being blatantly obvious? Do you act deaf, like you didn’t hear their question or, what was that? I sorry, did you say something?

The goal of dodge ball is not to get hit. If you can see the ball coming, you can generally avoid it easily. If you take your eye off the ball, it shows up quickly. Often too quick to dodge, then you have to deflect, if you can.

A sales question is that ball hurling towards your head. If you have paid attention in the sales process, you saw this question coming, long before it ever left their hand. You should have been able to position your demo to address these questions. If you felt it best to avoid them, you will have at least been able to come up with a plausible answer.

If you were sloppy in your discovery or qualifying process, you may have missed something. If you did, one of these sales questions may come out of nowhere. You cannot ignore this question, it will knock you out of the game.

Be ready to deflect this question.  Acknowledge the question and just nudge it away. If you cannot think of a great way to deflect, call a timeout.   

Monday, April 18, 2011

Words mean things

This is not a shock to you. We know this, and carefully choose our words. Most of the time. For some reason this escapes some people in meetings.

Have you ever been in a sales meeting or demo and it seemed like someone fell asleep listening to a hypno-book of IT slang and buzz words? Woke up and just started spewing all of these phrases in some type of Tourette outburst?

Words mean things, and to make it worse, certain buzz words mean different things to different people. Cloud comes to mind. Synchronize is another. Real time, Scalable, Best in Class. What is the point of having a conversation if you are not going to agree on what was said?

Sales, and especially Technical sales is based on trust and facts. No room for a double entendre here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

9, 12, or 15?

I just heard the most amazing sales line. It was awesome.

My Wife wanted to get her car washed. She pulled into the start of the carwash and was asked what she wanted? She said she didn’t see the sign showing what her options were. Without a blink or hesitation the carwash kid said 9,12, or 15?


No need to sell what was already sold. We were there. The only reason you are in line at the carwash, is to get your car washed. No need to read the marketing information to her, does she care if the tires are super washed or super shined?

No, she wants 12 dollars’ worth of clean car. Simple, to the point, homerun.

What is your 9,12, or 15?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Girl Talk

Do you have girl talk or man talk with your clients? I’ll explain.

I discussed this today on Jerry Kennedy’s Blog Whisperer radio show if you want the live version. (

Girls talk, and I have learned through observation, that much of the time when they talk, it is just to share feelings. Most casual communication between women is sharing feelings. That, and stating that they understand those feelings that were shared. Women are civilized creatures.

Men Talk too. Even in casual conversations, men talk in facts. We talk about sports scores, work, and politics. If one man states an issue or problem (I won’t call it a feeling), he is looking for an opinion about what he should do. He wants information, not feelings or understanding.

So when you talk to your clients, do you share thoughts and feelings, or do you communicate facts and solutions?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Squeezing Juice

You have a tree full of Oranges, these are your customers. Some are ripe, some aren’t. The juice in each is the money you can make. How do you extract the maximum amount of juice from these oranges?

You could pick everything that is growing on the tree right now, and smash them with a hammer. There, done. Less juice than you could have had, doesn’t taste quite as sweet as it should, as some of the oranges weren’t ripe. Nothing to do now, but wait for more to grow.

Or, we could hand select the ripest oranges. Gently extract the juice, capturing the maximum amount of the sweetest juice. We can now extract juice every day for a long time. The key is harvest your deals when they are best for you. Don’t rush a deal because. Don’t take more than you can do or someone is going to taste sour.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No Regrets

I read a blog entry the other day from blogging God Jerry Kennedy. Motivation 101 Blog ( It was the most honest thing I had read in years. It also made me think, what am I not saying?

We all run our mouths (some more than others). We have opinions on American idol singers, who lost a shoe on Dancing with the stars, how to fix the 17 Trillion dollar debt, but can’t tell our significant other that they look fat in that shirt. OK, they look fat and I don’t like that shirt. Why?

We tell ourselves we don’t tell them because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. If we do tell them, then we are just being honest. So we walk around as liars or a-holes. So while we say we don’t want to hurt their feelings, we really just don’t want to have a hassle.

So would you rather go through life with the people closest to you knowing how you feel (for real) or coasting through life with limited hassle? 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why Sell So Hard?

Why do we sell our “stuff” so hard? Go ahead, laugh, but I’m serious. Is the sun exploding tomorrow? Will zombies not need your stuff? Why?

I know it varies by industry, some of us sell commodities, and some of us don’t. Let me tell you, everything is a commodity. There are more than 3 companies that will sell you a trip to space. If you are a space vacation salesperson, who thought you would have to take coupons?

So the reality is people want our stuff. They tell us they want it, and the first thing we do is start pushing the close. What is it going to take to get you into this widget today!?! Do we think if we don’t somehow trick them into signing today they will realize what frauds we are and run away?

I don’t know about you, but I buy stuff when I’m ready. I’ve seen what I needed to, I’ve done research, I was hungry. I have yet to have a waitress stick me with a high ticket meal because the deal was only valid for today and I caved under the pressure.

So take a look at your pipeline. Feeling a little thin? How many deals did you close in the last week of last month with a discount that would be closing this week at full price? How smart do you feel now?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chemistry Class.

I have always said you have to be yourself. All things being equal, people buy from people they like. What if they don’t like you? Notice I said you, everyone likes me…..

How do you overcome this objection? If you can, by backing out of the process. If you have another resource that can fill in, get out. Don’t make a big deal out of it, it is a last minute business trip, you are sick, goldfish just died. Make up a reasonable excuse with little detail as to why you need to have another person take over. They may act sorry…but they aren’t.

If that isn’t possible for some reason and you have to stay in the process, be small. Scale back. A little of some of us goes a long way. Don’t be the lead the center of attention. Always be respectful. Ask permission before you do anything. Is it OK if I call you next week? Would it be alright if I run some numbers for you? They already don’t like you, it is easy to get angry with you for some minor thing, don’t give it to them.

Even if they don’t like you, make sure they respect you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Let’s have a Meeting

First question, what about? If you can’t answer this, let’s not. Communication is a key part of every sales process. Communication falls into 3 buckets, too little, just right, annoying.

We have all been there, either they won’t get back to you, or you can’t get rid of them. Either of these will cost you money. So how do you find the sweet spot? Making mistakes is a sure way, a better way is to think how often you want to be contacted.

I you call your cable company to add channels, a call back in ten minutes is great. If they need to get more information and get back to you, you would like that today. If they give you a price and you say you’ll think about it, when is it OK for them to call you back? A week? Two? Every day would be too much.

Random call from the NY Times asking if you want the Sunday paper. Once, ok, unless the baby just fell asleep and they wake them. After that, you will only read the Post. A call a week is way too much.

If it feels like your client is making excuses to get off the phone, they are. That means they like you, but don’t want to be contacted this much…back off or risk being labeled a telemarketer. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Never Expecting

Bottom of the 9th, a couple runs down. Yea, I got this. It’s not, not giving up, it’s never expecting to lose in the first place. If you are playing hard at the end of the game thinking anything could happen, maybe we can still win. You’ve halfway lost already.

When you are competing at a high level, the difference is mental. Watch a Little League game. The team with the most talent wins 95% of the time. None of these kids are thinking more than the next pitch ahead. Watch a World Series game. Because the talent is basically even, generally the team that wins is the team that makes the least mental errors.

So if you planning on winning at this level, you better be mentally prepared to win.  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Green Jacket

It’s Masters time. That time when everyone likes golf. Either for the game, or the azaleas.  That time when anyone who has ever shanked a shot dreams of having that jacket. We all know why, it is the ultimate symbol of having beaten the best. And one it has been earned, it exists forever. So what is your Green jacket?

10,000 dollar sale? 100K? 1 million? Or is it adding a fortune 500 client to your customer list? Whatever it is, in our business remember, it doesn’t last without work. Our sport doesn’t have a championship, just paydays. I like that. I’m competitive, but it is so hard to compare our businesses, but we can all get paid.

Additionally, we can all win our green jackets. This happens by setting challenging goals and hitting or exceeding them. If you are easily meeting your goals, you don’t get a green jacket, it is more of a relaxed smoking jacket.

Whatever your goal, money or fame, set your sights and get it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Heading Home

Who said you can never go home again? They weren't wrong, but they didn't tell the whole story. Everything you touch is different because of the attention you give it. So every time you speak with your clients or prospects, you are changing the relationship. It may be for the better or for the worse, but it is a living thing. Your clients are changed by everyone that interacts with them.

So this means that you need to be aware of this fact so you can keep making the relationships better. It also means that every time you are visiting them they are different than they were. Like watching grass grow. If you are watching them close you may not see it, go away for a week, and it is overgrown. So the lesson here is if you are not in contact with your clients on a regular basis, the next time you talk to them they may have changed a lot.

If you don’t know that they have changed and you treat them like you did, like you are headed home, you may move the relationship needle towards the worse side.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Would Paneling

I was on a panel at MSPU with a very knowledgeable group of people across the MSP space. A question was asked about what I should do first, getting started in managed services. My reply was short. Be honest and clear with yourself.

Honest about what you can do. Clear about what you want. You cannot tell yourself a lie, believe the lie and start building your business on that. First step to being honest? Get away. A walk in a quiet place, park or woods are good. If you are looking at technology your thoughts will drift. Leave the phone in the car.

We all think we can do more than we actually can. We all think there are more hours in the day. We all think we can control the uncontrollable. Now we can be honest. How many hours can you work a day? Let’s figure this out backwards.

 24 hours in the day.                       24
You might like to sleep.                  -8
Wife/kids?                                       -4
Shower/other                                   -2
Eating                                               -1
                                                       =  9
So we have 9 hours to play with. If you need more, you can get it, but where? From your kids? Give up sleep? Be honest.

If you know where you are going and how you want to get there and don’t lie to yourself…You are going to do fine.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Inspect, renew, reuse

So I’m flying to Nashville to give the Keynote for MSPU boot camp. I waiting to get onboard a Southwest flight and am thinking about ongoing inspections. Should you wait till there is an issue before you check your stuff?

Look, stuff breaks. Some a lot, some rarely, but it all wears down or out. Even people. So you need to have scheduled reviews of your “stuff”. Hardware, software, customers and staff. So you don’t need to be the inspection Gestapo, just have a logical process.

So you need different schedules for the different stuff. More often for fragile stuff, less often for more durable items. I know this is common sense, but it needs to be said.

So Southwest is a great airlines. They inspect their stuff every day, but no one knew to check what they didn’t know would break. So now is the time to inspect your “bullet proof” stuff, so you don’t get grounded.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Smartest Person in the Room

You may be, but do you need to show it? There is a time to impress people, and a time to sell. So are you able to check your ego? Should you?

Let me be straight. YES. If you have to ask, you need to check it. Here is the deal. People want to feel confident that you know what you are doing, they don’t want to feel stupid helping you do it.  So where is the line? Closer than you think.

My Friend Andy Harper and I were talking about this and how the best teachers can adjust the level of their message to the students. Could you explain TCP IP to a 1st grade class so they would understand? Now do it again to a class of College Computer Science majors. Same material, just scaled to ability. I hope you said yes.

If you said no, to either, I recommend you practice. Anything complex can be simplified, and just because it is complex, doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. Try delivering your sales presentation to your wife, your kids, your boss. If you can them all understand, you are ready for customers.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

More isn’t always better

Sunday afternoon, time for laundry. I have to go back to Nashville for MSPU, so I need to clean all my Autoware. Two thoughts struck me. First, more in the washer is not equal to cleaner clothes. Second, mixing colors and fabrics is not a great idea. Now I know you are all interested in my dirty laundry, but you are wondering, what’s my point?

Sales is no different. Shoving more leads into the pipeline if you don’t have capacity does not equal more money. If fact you generally get to reprocess some of the leads to save them and end up getting all wet in the process. Do not overload your pipeline, you will not like it when it goes off balance.

So you only have a few leads, but they are for everything. Some product, some services, some everything else. Read the label. You cannot just put them in the washer and treat them the same. You do not want any of those deals to shrink or bleed. Every deal needs different care.

So sort your deals, keep the pipeline reasonable, and use a dryer sheet. Static sucks.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chilling and Grilling

So I have learned the most important lesson of grilling. Leave the food alone! Put it on the grill and stop poking it. It will cook on its own time, and nothing you do can speed it up. You can slow it down, or stop it, but nothing you can do makes it quicker, or better.

Your sales deal is much like that, keep poking and nothing good will happen. Patience is not only a virtue, it is a money maker. Knowing the best you can do is no harm.

Build your marketing fire, once they have a nice bed of coals, throw your prospects on it. Let them cook slowly, keep opening the lid and flipping them over will just make them tough. So while this seems silly, keep in mind. If you don’t have your marketing plan figured out, it can fail, let it mature before you expect too much.

Once you have a deal on the grill, let it cook. Don’t keep poking the prospect unless they are ready. If you keep calling them over and over again, they will harden and be harder to close. With sales and grilling, timing is everything. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Exclusion List

What words are on your sales exclusion list? Do you have one? Have no idea what I am talking about? Well read on.

So when presenting an off premise email solution, how do you refer to it? Hosted? SaaS? Cloud? ASP? (God are you old) Remote? Off Site? Virtual? Buzz words, got to love them. Some of these terms will resonate with your clients, and some will make them shut down. You need to know your customers.

Additionally if you have invested one dollar, or thousands of dollars in marketing and sales coaching and help. Developed the marketing messaging that will drive sales in your company, and then let it be bastardized by your employees as they refer to it as everything except how you have branded it.

It’s our remote, cloud based, hosted Saas communication solution…..Yea, I’ll buy that…