Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Late Snow

Here it is March Eve. Leap March Eve even, and now it snows. I know I live in Upstate NY. I know it can snow till 4th of July, but still. Thanksgiving? No snow. Christmas? No snow. New Years? No snow. Valentine’s Day? No snow.  Leap Day? Yup.

Some will say better late than never. Some will say it could have skipped us this year. I say there is a sales lesson here, in fact a life lesson. Stuff doesn’t always happen when you expect it to, or need it to. Big shocker, but one we forget until it snows and ruins our Leap Day celebration. So Steve, what is the big lesson here? I can hear you saying it, you know I can.

Big lesson. Plan like there is no plan. Some say plan for the unexpected. If it is unexpected, how can I plan for it, but I can plan like I don’t have one. I expect to hear back from my contact about setting a meeting by X, and when I don’t I’m going to do Y. I expect to be named VOC next week, so when I haven’t heard from them on Thursday I’m going to do this.

Don’t expect stuff to work. Hope it does. Try and make sure it does, but don’t plan on it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Primary Sales

Do you sell like a politician? How about someone running for the job? I have been watching the Republican Presidential candidates fight for the chance to run for the office and I wondered what would happen if you tried to sell that way?

If we were instructing the candidates to sell themselves, we would never allow them to do what they do while campaigning, and isn’t it the same? I prefer to sell using a consultative sales process. I don’t think there is any way you could call what they do, consultative.

They bluster, they exaggerate, they hide, they obscure, they misrepresent, they lie, then they start talking about their opponents. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, and this is not a party politics thing either, all of them do it.

So there are obvious differences between a sale and an election, but there is a lot the same.

You need people to:
  • Like you
  • Agree with you
  • Understand you
  • Want you
  • Believe you
  • Trust you
  • Vote for you

So you should be selling like you are campaigning, just without the mudslinging.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Puppy Sales

After years of talking about it, my Wife and I got a puppy. We knew we would really like one, but we just didn’t have the time to spend with one. Both of us working outside of the house, it just wouldn’t be fair, for any of us. Now that I am working at home and my wife has some work at home flexibility, it seemed the perfect time.

We had been Puppy sitting for a friend and the experience was all we needed to get pushed over the edge. We both have had dogs before so we had our likes and dislikes. We knew more what we didn’t want than what we did want.

I saw some pictures of some puppies on a rescue site that seemed like good candidates for us. We went to take a look with the expectation that we wouldn’t find one that we could agree on, we were wrong. You can see Ben’s Blog here.

As I was trying to get Ben to sleep last night my thoughts turned to new sales people. How many of you treat a salesperson like a new puppy?

Do you make time for him?
Do you set firm boundaries?
Do you set a schedule?
Do you have checkups?

My guess is you don’t. You hire your new “puppy” based on pedigree alone, looking at their resume. You show them where the old used toys are, (software, hardware, etc.) your last dog used. You have no time to spend with them and get upset when they whine to get attention. You give them the run of the house and can’t believe they aren’t housebroken and makes messes you have to cleanup.

Just as this is unreasonable with a new puppy, it is unreasonable with a new salesperson. Just like the checklist you use to make sure you do everything for your new puppy, you need a checklist for what you need to do with your new salesperson.

If you want them to grow up happy and healthy, you have to start them out right as a pup.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What Caused the Collapse of Mayan Civilization?

Subtitled, why your business should dig a well.
I just read an article about what caused the Mayan civilization to collapse. While there may have been many additional reasons, the main one discussed in this article was climate change and lack of water.  

Due to the lack of rivers in the Yucatan, the Mayan relied on the seasonal rainfall to refill their fresh water storage. While these reductions amounted to only 25 to 40 percent in annual rainfall, they were large enough for evaporation to become dominant over rainfall.

Let’s just replace the words water and rainfall with money and cash flow. Are you too dependent on cash flow from one particular segment of your business? Would that 25 to 40 percent cut cause your extinction?

The rain of money that comes from cloud bursts are great, however you have to have a drought proof source as well. Grandma might have said don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

How does this fit with your business philosophy? Do you approach your market in a narrow focused vertical, gaining deep penetration, or a broad based approach doing a little of everything? There are ways to create different revenue streams in both of these models. Find recurring revenue, one time sales, and services revenue across all your business divisions.

So while the rain is falling, you may want to dig a well.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Me

 It has been one year today since I posted my first blog post. This was a journey I started with only one goal. I had to post on a regular basis. I was not going to start a blog where I posted once a week, then once a month, then once a year. I have averaged a post every other day.

Mission accomplished. All of the other benefits I have gained were really only bonuses. I have found writing to be a great form of therapy. It could be even more helpful in its therapeutic value if I were writing a different type of blog. My blog content has evolved, and will continue to evolve as I write because I evolve.

I want to thank you who are reading this right now. I would still write my blog if no one were reading, it is part of me now. But to know there are people who feel my writing is worth taking some part of their day is humbling.

Stay tuned for more excitement as I start writing some blogs that are a little different for me, like my guest blog for Looks Cloudy. I’m also sure that when I land with a new company, I will have a lot of new material for my blog.

So I’m off to celebrate 365 days and 186 blogs seen in over 10 countries,  by writing a new blog post..

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Commodity Trader

Let me start with a definition. Commodity: “In economics, a commodity is the generic term for any marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs.” This is from Wikipedia, I hyperlinked if you want to know more about them. In addition the description goes on the state: “…the market treats it as equivalent or nearly so no matter who produces it.” If you are reading this, you may be a commodity.

Don’t feel bad, but it is something you need to know. Unless you produce something or provide services than no one else or a small number of people provide, you and your products are commodities.  

Many of the people I talk to are in the IT Services market. There was a time when computers equaled magic. No longer. It is really hard to charge more for servicing a product than it is worth. Think home appliances. When was the last time you took a toaster to the Mr. FixIt shop downtown? Even your big screen TV? Not worth the cost. We don’t spend the money when we can put it towards newer, better, faster, even if it has only been a year or two.

What makes a TV different from a computer? Data. Your customer’s data is not a commodity. So while the hardware, software, network, or provider that is used to access the data may be a commodity, but the data never is.

So if you want to be “less” of a commodity, tie yourself to the data.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Miner 49er…

Two really interesting stories that are more connected that you might think.
The first was Google admitting to circumventing the security of the Safari browser when it was set to prohibit websites from using tracking cookies. You can find that story here.

The second was in Forbes talking about how retailer Target was able to identify that a teenage girl was pregnant before her father was able to know. That story is here.

Both stories have one common theme. Data Mining. Whether it is mining the data from store purchases and using that data to generate more sales, or mining the data from internet searches to generate better searches and ad revenue, it is still data mining.

So this data mining doesn’t have to be evil or even a breach of privacy. If you want to see who Google thinks you are, go here. This is some of the data they use to provide suggestions and ads to you. I can tell you I think this is much more helpful that the old way ads used to be put on search portals or in the results.

We all want great customer support. We all want our computers and websites to read our minds. We all want this to happen without sharing any data. We are all dreaming, and Google can tell us about what with about an 80% accuracy…

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Best Known Have Died

That may seem like an odd title, but tell me quick, NO GOOGLING, who is the top scientist in the field of bacteria today? Me either, no idea, yet we all know Louis Pasteur. Who owns the art nouveau movement now? Right, same thing.

So do the best known, most memorable have to have died? Can your sales demo be the most memorable, even if you don’t die during it? I would hope so.

Like the old question, are you famous, or infamous? Do you care? I hope you do, because when doing a demo, you want to be famous and avoid infamy.

The first thing to keep you from being infamous is the truth. By telling the truth, or at lease what you think is true. See my blog on Distorting Reality for more on this. The truth will set you free, and keep you free of a bad name.

Second is be a person first, and a sales second. I know you are a salesperson, but think of yourself as a person-of-sales. Please never forget to be a person.

Third would be to ask for more than a reason to tell. My wife tells me I’m guilty of this one, I think she may be right. Leading questions. I’m sure you don’t need to report...”You do!?!” (said with shock and surprise), well let me tell you about our all new report 6000 module... Sometimes you should ask to actually hear their answer, not be answering their answer before they are done speaking.

And truth be told, we may argue over who the greatest LIVING baseball player is, but we know all of their names. Why do we know? Because they performed and produced. That is what it takes to be known before you die.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Managing for Success 2012

I hope my blog helps people. I write my blog with the hope that my words will make people think, and help them in their business. So while this isn't a typical blob post for me to make, it does what I want my blog to do, help you. I can think of no better way to do this than to tell you about a good friend of mine and an even he is holding. 

Karl is an author, speaker, and trainer who focuses on helping computer consultants and I.T. Professionals improve their business practices. He is widely regarded as someone who provides click-by-click instructions on how to be a successful technology consultant. He is the author of nine books (available at His blog - - has more than 40,000 visitors a month and is considered a training resource for many I.T. consultants. The blog has experienced an audience growth rate of almost 600% over the last year.

Karl is hosting a 3-day online conference for computer consultants in June 2012. The conference will focus on building successful business processes and will feature some of the best business and technology speakers in the U.S.

Have you ever wanted to attend an IT conference on running your business? Have you ever wanted to go to a conference without the travel? Now you can.

Speakers include . . .

Karl W. Palachuk - Author, Blogger, Managed Service Provider
Patrick Schwerdtfeger - International Speaker, Author, Social Media Expert
Stephanie Chandler - Author, Online Marketing Expert
Bob Godgart - Industry Pioneer, Entrepreneur
Arlin Sorensen - Community Leader, Super-Successful MSP
Matt Makowicz - Author, Coach, Trainer
Ken Thoreson - Sales Trainer, Sales Management Expert
Josh Peterson - Professional Coach and Business Consultant
Stuart Selbst - Professional Coach
Bob Nitrio - Managed Service Provider, I.T. Pro Leader
Dave Sobel - Author, Trainer, Virtualization MVP
George Sierchio - Author, Coach, M&A Specialist
. . . and others we can't name yet. Stay Tuned

Go here for more information.

I hope you get the chance to meet and know Karl as well as I know him. As well as these other speakers that I am proud to call Partners, vendors, and friends. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Three Simple Words

In the spirit of the day, please let me talk about romance and getting the special someone to respond to the three little words you want to say to them. Oh, it isn’t those three words...

The words you really want to say to the prospects you are romancing is, “Please Be Mine”. Getting them to respond with I Love you is great, but you want them to be yours.

A sales process is very much a romance. We meet, exchange pleasantries. If we discover we have something in common, we spend more time to get to know each other better. One party generally gives gifts or pays for diner. Then that magic moment arrives when we pop the question, and what we are asking is, pick me, be mine.

You can never feel a customer’s love, until they are a customer. So you need to close the deal, but without closing their heart, kind of like dating.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Distort Reality

Isn’t that what we do in a really good demo? Take reality and compress it, turn it, make it fit our solution in a logical way. I just read a news story (Here) about the FBI file on Steve Jobs. One of the things that was said about him is the following:

“Several individuals questioned Mr. Jobs’s honesty stating that Mr. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals,” according to the FBI file.

I always felt there was a difference between out right lying and distorting or twisting the facts, especially in a demo where the “facts” are often weak at best. And aren’t we also trying to achieve our mutual goal with the prospect?

If you want to see how slippery truth is, just ask 3 different people the same question about something they all just watched. Truth is so easily warped in our own mind, it might get closer or further away from the “facts” we were just shown.

For me, using my ethics to stay true to the needs of the prospect, override the strict interpretation of the “truth”. This is because my job is to present a new more functional reality to the prospect by distorting their current less functional reality by showing how twisting my solution around their requirements works.

If I wanted to be in the fact business I would have been a librarian. I’m in the solution business.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

French is all Greek to Me

I never learned a foreign language. I wasn’t required to in high school or college. I did learn quite a bit of American sign language one summer with a girlfriend who had a deaf cousin. I have decided that I’m going to learn some French before a trip to Europe this spring.

I know I don’t really need to. Everyone speaks English, even the English..well sort of. I know I can download a hundred iPhone apps that will say phrases for me in any language. I’ll tell you why I really want to learn some conversational French.

On trips to Montreal I can almost understand, if not the words, the meaning of the conversations. It is like listening to the radio with the volume just low enough that you can’t quite make out the words. I can tell if the speakers are happy or sad, excited or reserved, serious or playful, speaking to me or about me, almost.

Almost understand, almost know, almost good enough.

So what is the foreign language in your business? What do you almost know? Almost understand? Almost grasp, and is it enough, or do you need to get the Rosetta Stone for your “language”?

Learn the language, get a translator, or don’t complain when they bring you snails for breakfast.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super or Bowl Marketing

We all love the Super Bowl ads. I’m not sure when it started, but I know that the ads are often the most talked about Super Bowl happenings. Millions are spent by these companies and their brand managers for 30 seconds during this game. Is it worth it?

As with all marketing, and never forget that that is what those ads are, some work, and some don’t. Which ones do you remember now after 24 hours? Which ones do you remember AND remember the brand it was for? Which ones do you remember AND remember the brand it was for AND thought it was good or positive? That one may have been worth it.

The Dot Com era was the golden era of Super Bowl ads. Also the biggest waste of marketing dollars ever. Great commercials, no idea who they were for or why. Viral video, huge social media numbers wasted. If you want to entertain people, start a movie company, otherwise market your brand.

Great marketing equals Super branding. Poor marketing equals dollars down the Bowl. Whether you are doing 5 cent Google adWords or 5 million dollar Super Bowl ads, wasted message equals wasted dollars.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Super Bowl Sales

Ah, the Super Bowl. Good food. Good friends. Good teams? You always think the best teams will be in the championship game, but that isn't always the case. The same is true with sales, the best solutions don’t always get to the final. Here’s why.

In sales, like in sports, sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes the other team doesn’t show up. Sometimes you just really get up for the game. Sometimes you out hustle your competition. The bottom line is you have to win every engagement.

We could review the past football season and point out all of the could’ves and should’ves that would have had different teams in the Super Bowl. The fact is these teams did what they had to do when they had to do it.

So have a game plan, practice hard, and execute in every meeting and you may just have a shot at the prize. Even if you aren’t the favorite.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Phil’s Shadow

Groundhog Day. It is a perfect holiday. Made up and everyone knows it, knows it doesn’t matter, but needs to know anyway. Do you have any Groundhog days in your business?

You know those things that you worry about, think about, obsess about, but really mean nothing? Maybe you have a “thing” about employee time off, or personal internet use, or whatever, is this really what makes your business special or unique?

In your mind right now, list the top 5 things that take you to the next level. Is your Groundhog Day on that list? I bet not. Top 10 or 20 list even? I would say no. So maybe if you took the effort you spent looking for shadows and applied it to items 1 through 5 you would be better off.

Don’t let Phil’s shadow distract you from heading to the light.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

There Is Still Time…Brother

I just re-watched the 1959 adaptation of the book, “On the Beach”. You can follow the hyperlink to more about the story. Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, end of the world, how can you go wrong? What really struck me was how different people deal with the end.

The end of the day, the end of work, the end of a job, relationship, friendship, life. Whatever is ending, everyone deals with it differently. So how do you deal with endings?

There are several “groups” of reactions. Denial, just act like everything is fine. Overreaction, the sky is falling the sky is falling. Adult, deal with the issues and move on. I’m sure I could make smaller sub-groups, but these will do.

The key part is, there is still time. If you see an end and you are proactive, there is still time. Time to plan. Don’t deny what you see and know, use that information. Don’t overreact, all things end. Do be an adult and develop a separation plan.

No one wants to start a partnership with an exit plan, but when will you be more reasonable or fair. Once emotion kicks in? No, make sure you have thought about the end, it is thinking about you.

All things do end, but there is still time…brother.