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.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Technical Resources aren’t Sales Engineers

If you sell anything technical, you may need sales help and support. Often you have a technician or a product support person who you can get answers from. This is a great help, but don’t confuse this person with a Sales Engineer.

Sales Engineers have a unique blend of sales, personal, and technical skills. They need the ability to have a comfortable conversation with the C level people at your prospects site and with the end users. Can your “technical” person do that? If yes, you are closer. Now can they describe cold fusion so that you can understand it, you have a winner.

The sales engineer needs to be able to do the following. Understanding the prospects needs, knowing how to solve them with your solution, being able to describe and demo the solution, making the difficult to understand easy to understand.

If your “technical” person can do that, make them happy, keep them excited, and turn them into gold.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cloud Sales Skills

You are holding the cloud in your hand, right now. Look at it. Yup, can’t see it. So how do you sell what you can’t see and touch? Well, you never “sell” the cloud, you sell a solution that is in the cloud, and what does cloud even mean?

Rule # 1. If you can’t comfortably explain what you are selling and how they will use it you will have problems selling it. I think about this in 3 parts. First, what is the solution? Second, what problems does it solve? Third, how is it delivered? You need to know all of these.

So I hope you have a handle on the first 2 of these. What your solution is and what it does. So how is it delivered? If it is a service or product that is delivered through the internet, it may be called by many names. ASP, Web, SaaS, hosted, cloud, remote, distributed, but to you, they all mean the same. Internet based delivery. Don’t get tripped up by delivery.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fast Food Sales

I’m not talking about selling fast food here, I’m talking about selling in a fast food environment. What is fast food? Cheap, easy, good, quick, convenient, in short, a commodity. What makes you drive past some fast food places and stop at others? Branding.

There are people who eat no fast food, there are people who eat fast food, but I have never met anyone who eats at all fast food places the same amount of times. They like some better than others. Maybe it is the food, but most likely, marketing.

Have you established your sales brand? Your company needs to have a brand to sell your products and so do you.  You may not be selling a product that is a commodity, but we all see to people who live in a commoditized world. You know to structure your sales to the customer, what about your marketing?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sales Bloat

Ever have that feeling? No, the feeling of too many people trying to do too little work? It does happen in sales, especially in commission only sales. As a business owner you may want your sales team hit a certain number, but do you care if it is all from 1 salesperson, or 10? You should, and here is why.

Happy. You want your salespeople happy, and money makes them happy. Too many people sharing the pie equals less money per salesperson equals less happy salespeople. If they find more business, you think great, but can you deliver? Sales and service have to be in alignment.

Overhead. Everybody you have adds overhead. The more salespeople, the more overhead, you may need to add 10-15% to what you think you need, per additional resource. More work, more cost, same profit, bad deal.

Predictable. Being able to predict your business with a solid pipeline is a key part of your growth. Salespeople with small pipeline will try to expand their pipeline. This can be good, if it is good business, but often it is marginal out of market business with a small chance of closing. Inflated pipelines, loss of productive sales time and technical time can be the result.

Keep your team hungry, but streamlined and efficient.