Friday, March 30, 2012

Mega Millions Sales

Have you got your ticket? The Mega Millions jackpot is around $640 Million Dollars for tonight’s drawing. What causes all of the excitement? The chance of a huge payday. What does a huge payday create? A lot of people who take a gamble figuring what the heck, the odds are the same as a million dollar drawing. Does the same thing happen in sales? Absolutely, except…

At the end of the day, sales is about effort times deal size divided by odds equals payout. I have worked with a lot of elephant hunters. Salespeople with their eyes always looking for a huge score. They put in lots and lots of effort for a smaller percentage opportunity, rolling the dice for the big score. What is the one thing we only have a fixed amount of? Right, time.

If a salesperson is spending all their time hunting elephants, what aren’t they doing? Winning the smaller deals with a higher percentage of closing. Sales is not like the lotto. Lotto odds are the same regardless the size of the deal, Sales isn’t. Every deal is different. The odds of every deal are different. A smart salesperson has got to be able to do the math. Are you a smart salesperson?

Whether you are or you aren’t, at this point, you can get smarter. How? First, track your time on every deal, know how long it takes to close a deal.  You need to have an idea about the amount of time it takes for an average deal, and not just the time to close, but hours of effort. Next, have a really good needs analysis checklist. Knowing what they need verses what you can do is one part of generating the odds. The better the match, the better the odds. The other half of the odds are relationships, money, and magic… What is the deal size? Is it worth your effort? Any effort? A lot of effort? More effort than the other deals in your pipeline?

Now you can “play” your deals based on the best odds, not your lucky numbers.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sales Engineer Hippocratic Oath

OK, I know Sales Engineering is not brain surgery, although I do feel I have earned a doctorate in it. I do have my version of the Hippocratic Oath for Sales Engineering. “First, lose no deal.” As a Sales Engineer, it is easy to cause a deal to go south. Too Much information, too little information, the wrong information, so many ways to break this oath.

I recently spoke to a group of sales people who all worked for the same company. I spoke to each of them one on one and was amazed with what I heard from each of them on their needs for a Sales Engineer. Everyone was different. Some wanted minimal help, some wanted maximum help, and some wanted a little help.

What did I learn? You can please everyone. As Sales Engineers our jobs are to support the sales team, the way they want to be supported. Some need a lot of help, some very little, and they are both right. It is the sales person’s deal. I am there to advise and support, AND do the demo the way they want, in a way that will not lose the deal. The advice needs to happen before you are in front of the customer, and if they refuse your advice, you have to deliver the demo their way.

There are only two things I will not do while supporting the salesperson, lie, or let them lie, even if it isn’t on purpose. Otherwise I am there to serve at their pleasure.

Give a little, or give a lot, it really doesn’t matter, so long as we are closing business.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waving Goodbye

It is time to wave goodbye to Google Wave. Some of you must have tried Google Wave. When Google Wave came out I was really excited about the concept and possibilities. Combining and integrating multiple communication streams into a single thread. Google wave is shut down now and will power off the servers April 30th. So why did it die?

Good question. My opinion is it was ahead of its time and all the connectors weren’t there to make it work as it needed to. In business, and in our personnel lives we need a Google Wave like function. You send an email to a coworker, he IMs another coworker, who texts a customer to post on the Facebook page asking other customers to Tweet with the hash tag #WTH and you would like to see all of this activity in one connected thread, because it is.

Google integrated some of this into Google+ by letting you make one post and notify additional people who are not on the platform by email. I hope the reverse the funnel and allow us have a single aggregated stream to read everything we care about, Email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, 4Square, LinkedIn, Etc.

The Web was always about information. The biggest challenge in the early days was finding what you wanted. Today’s challenge is filtering out too much data and making the logical connections between linked data. We are going to hear more and more about this with the push of “big data” into the SMB channel. A small business can have huge data, and as more data like medical records gets digitized, linking and finding this data may need Google Wave like technology.

So I waving goodbye to Google Wave, welcome Google+ with open arms and look down the road to more data and more tools do deal with the “big data”.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hard and Soft Where?

I had an interesting day in New York City with Axcient, HP, and others at their roadshow. You can follow the link here to see what was going on. I highly recommend you go to one of their roadshows if the opportunity presents itself. 

One of the things I found most interesting was a thought that hit me while Meaghan Kelly with HP was speaking. Meaghan is the VP of Channel Development within the Solution Partner Organization (SPO) and yes, I did have to look that up.

The thought I had was, all hardware needs software and all software needs hardware, anyware, um… anywhere. I know, pass me the Nobel Prize now. So while it isn’t earth shattering, we rarely hear this message articulated by any vendor.  

Software vendors talk software and where you can run it, on premise, or cloud. Whether it was created as SaaS software, or Sassifyed as Justin Moore the CEO of Axcient stated in his keynote.  Hardware vendors talk speed, power, energy consumption, and other specs. Only one vendor really does both hardware and software and talks about the software and hardware as one thing, and that vendor is Apple. This is why I think Apple has done well in the consumer market. Apple can say, “here it is, buy it”, really works there in the consumer market.

Businesses and home users are going to the cloud. That is a given, like global warming. Now we can argue the reasons for both things, but while we are arguing, they are still happening. Hardware is needed to run the software anywhere. On their site, or in the cloud, or in Axcient’s case, both.

It was refreshing to hear two vendors articulate the symbiotic relationship they have and how important it is to their success.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Freaky Line

What is the freaky line?  According to Robert Scoble, it is the line in the sand where when you tell people about them they freak out and say "that sounds dangerous." Robert wrote in a post on Google+ on meeting  the founders of They do face detection based on your photos on Facebook. Aim your phone at someone and it'll tell you who they are. In his words, “I tried it out and it's freaky!... But I want it. “ At the end of the article Robert continued to say,”… I'm totally into this new world. I've crossed the freaky line… So, will you cross the freaky line?”

With full disclosure, I’ll tell you I screamed “Yes!!!!” at the top of my lungs into the computer monitor. So maybe I’m not the best person to moderate this discussion. I pole vaulted over the freaky line a while ago.

 I want technology that works for me, does what I want it to do, and I want it to be convenient for me. All of those things means that I need technology to read my mind. There are good things and bad things inside my head. There are good things and bad things with technology. So the good things in my head can get gooder, and the bad things could get badder. Not sure how much sense that last sentence made, even to me, but the point is, technology is not bad or good on its own.

Technology does stuff that we tell it to do, that is where the bad can happens, and people have been doing bad, long before technology. I want technology to be magic and magic = freaky. So if you want a rotary dial phone and broadcast TV, knock yourself out, there is a town in Wyoming for sale where you can do that. If you want to get on the freaky express, next stop Hogwarts, come with me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Siri, File a Lawsuit

Have you heard a New Jersey man is filing a class action lawsuit against Apple based on his claim of false advertising? You can read the story here. He contends that Siri does not preform as advertised, and without Siri, the iPhone 4S is just a more expensive iPhone 4. So what is going on here?

First, I think he is wrong. There were many enhancements in the iPhone 4S, dual core processer, additional storage, redesigned antenna, as well as a dual transmit ability on AT&T that made the 3G phone nearly 4G fast. What did he focus on? What was sold to him. The advertisements were done something like this. Siri, remind me to get milk, and a reminder was set, not look at our cool new antenna.

So when you are doing a demo, do you show the antenna, or do you let Siri talk? My point is, do you make the cool stuff look cooler than it is? Sometimes cool is cool enough, and you don’t need to make it Buck Rogers. We have all heard under promises and over deliver, but does this work on a demo?

Well what I do know that works is real life workflows shown smoothly. You don’t have to stack the decks, you don’t have to bottom deal. You have to show what’s real, really good. You never want a new customer not to be able to use the product as shown, it will bite you and might even end up in court.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring has Sprung

I don’t know why I’m shocked every time it starts getting warm again. Sun shines a little longer, walking without a coat, enjoying the outside. We didn’t even have a bad winter, it was very mild, but I’m ready for warm outside weather. You know what else that triggers? New growth.

Every spring I plan a garden. Heirloom tomatoes, hot peppers, herbs, zucchini, cucumbers, and others. Starting them all from seed and watching them grow. Knowing it will take months to harvest the bounty they will deliver. Is it worth the effort? You bet, nothing better than eating  homegrown veggies.

Sales deals are the same. Nothing is more enjoyable than closing a homegrown deal. You research it, you plant the seeds, and you harvest the deal. Keep in mind the time it takes to have a deal grow to maturity when you start it from seed. Sales cycles vary based on many things, the start of the process is one of those.

But don’t confuse sales seeds with marketing. Sales is sales and marketing is marketing, but you are able to start the sales process very early, if you are willing to do a lot of weeding.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

iPad Patty Cake

Apple had an event today to reveal the new iPad, not an iPad 3, just the latest iPad. They didn’t invent fire, they didn’t create magic. I heard some good comments about the display, and 4G, and video speed, but where was the Wow?

Apple is in a tough spot with the iPad and the iPhone. Both of those products were new, unique, game changers when first released. When you are adding features to an existing product like the iPad, how much iWow can you get? No feature will make it a new product, without a new product you won’t get a Wow. Now what?

Without releasing the next big thing, Apple can only do what they can do, and that has three prongs. Power, style, and expectations.

Faster is always better. Keep finding ways to make it faster. Download faster, run faster, display faster, present faster. Investing in the technology needed to keep making the iPad faster will always pay off.

Apple has style. Even if you don’t like them, you have to give them that. Style, in the iPad case, the iOS User interface, packaging, everything. New style updates in the iPad will pay off huge. I think the simplicity of UI is huge, it should work like you think it should, and I think the iPad does that. That isn’t to say that Apple should get ilazy, there is always a way to make things better, they should do it.

No one, not even Apple can get people excited if you don’t meet their expectations. If the consumer expects a 10 and you give them a 9 they will not give you a Wow. Apple has always been very closed lipped about their product releases, and this can be good, or bad. Good if you present a homerun, bad if it is less than expected. Apple should do a better job of setting expectations for their events.

Apple plays a game of patty cake with us every so many months. We know it is going to happen. We know how the game is played. We act surprised and get excited when it happens.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Media Rush

Rush Limbaugh, love him or hate him you know about him. He has been master of self-promotion and leveraging people and events to further, well, him. He is currently in hot water due to some comments I won’t repeat here, but you can read the story here. Self-promotion. It is a doubled edged sword. How much is too much? Is there too much?

I don’t know about too much, in the words of a friend of mine, “Always be pimpin’…” But this event does point out an important issue about how you promote yourself, and where you promote yourself, and what you do to promote yourself. Rush Limbaugh is a media guy, his job is talking and he screwed it up, how easy can it be for you?

So if we break down the issue, Rush Limbaugh’s problem was not so much what he said, but that Rush made it personal about someone. Most people who are convicted for stock and securities issues are actually convicted for lying. Rush Limbaugh is being convicted in the court of public opinion because he did not rectify the issue immediately and to the injured parties’ satisfaction. How often do we fail to do that, even with non-social media issues?

I’m a firm believer in sharing. I have one public identity on many different platforms.  Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, I even Blog ;-). I rarely post to a small group of people, I make my comments public. I guess I am who I am.  The world is changing and it will be harder and harder to do business without a social presence.  So my guidelines?

  • Post. A lot, about everything you are interested in. People like to do business with people they like. The more they know about you, the more they can like you.
  • Believe what you post and be ready to defend it.
  • Create most of your own content.
  • Treat a social media comment the same as you would deal with a customer face to face. Be respectful, apologize if you have done wrong, and ask what you can do to fix it.

Whether you do or not is a business decision, ask Rush Limbaugh how that is working out for him? 

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's Show Time!

IT Shows. They are like weeds. Cut one down, two more pop up. We have all been to so many shows. It makes you wonder, which ones are worth going to, which ones should you pass on? Well that all depends on what you are looking to get out of these shows.

Steve Banks' badges...

Are you a vendor, a provider, an end user? Are you looking for new products, services, customers or ideas? Depending on what you are looking to do or get out of a show, you will be able to fine one for you. Big vendor major shows like the Computer Electronics Show (CES) or the Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference, Midsize shows like IT nation or SMB Nation, or local events or roadshows. Multi-vendor, single company, or user group.

Want to know the truth? They all have something to offer. Why are there so many? They work. If they didn’t work, they wouldn’t exist. Now I guess I just have to define “Work”.

It is a good deal for the vendors. Vendors generally get a good opportunity to sell or market to an interested group of people, so the ROI can be very good. Even vendors have to make decisions about which shows match their needs. As a vendor I have been at many shows that didn’t make sense from a sales perspective, but from a marketing and a supporting the channel perspective, was a home run.

It is a good deal for an attendee. The ability to meet with many potential new vendors, if you are looking for that, is huge. The ability to learn. Most IT conferences provide some level of education. Peer panels, experts, certification classes, can often be attended. Hanging out and having a good time with your friends. HUGE! Truth be told this is the reason that many attendees go to shows. Beer. While that is mostly true, the real attraction to hanging out is the face to face social interaction with peers. We live, sell, breath, work with technology, but we want to party with people.

Overall, there are many OK events, several good events, and a few great events. If you ask 100 different IT people, the numbers are the same, the events they think that are OK, good, and great would change. So what this means to you is, if you are looking to attend a show and wonder if it would be a good show for you, ask your like peers what events they have been too that they liked.  Now ask them why they liked it and what they got out of the event. Make sure they were looking to get the same things out of a conference that you are.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Monitor Yourself

For many years I have helped IT companies understand and grow their businesses. There are many people and companies out there telling you how to do this. A lot of their advice focuses on adding products or services to grow your business. What if you could measure yourself?

That is what Corelytics helps you do. Measure your own business. The exciting news is they are having a roadshow. So if you have ever wanted to check them out, they are come to you, or close anyway.

They’re hosting the 12-City Small Business Tour with Intuit, Microsoft, Constant Contact, Concur, Cisco and T-Mobile.  First city is Seattle April 12. Complete dates and venues will be published on the Tour website. Here is their official press release.

Seattle/Bellevue, April 12 
San Francisco, May 17
Los Angeles, May 24
Houston, June 14
Raleigh/Durham, TBA
Dallas, TBA
Denver, TBA
Atlanta, TBA
Boston, TBA
Philadelphia, TBA
New York, TBA
Chicago, TBA

You cannot grow your business if you don’t know your business. You need software like this to help understand your business.

I can help you go, I have some discounts and a couple of free passes.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Windows 8 Buzz

Buzz or buzzen’t or ah doesn’t? I love being a geek and maybe I’m a little post geek now as my job doesn’t require I be hands on months before anything get released, but what is Microsoft doing with Windows 8?

I think what they are doing is brilliant. We all know computing is changing. Most of us use a laptop and a tablet and a phone. Most of us use devices with different operating systems, no common applications or functions. Windows 8 seems to be the Operating System that can bridge all of those devices. Now do I feel it is perfect for all of them? No, I don’t. But it is early. Who remembers Windows 3.1 or the first version of Office?

Concept first. Perfect later. I like that process. Good often works for 80-90 percent of people. If I had a common platform for every device that was 90% of what I wanted, I would be so sold. Right now the vendors, Apple and Google have 2/3rds of it down. Apple with iOS on the iPhone and iPad. Google, kind of with Android, but all the flavors makes it had to be cohesive. Both of these have forgotten the desktop, and I know Apple has OS X and Google has a netbook, but this is not the same.

Microsoft is the first to be on all three platforms in a real way and I expect this to be the trend. Will they win? Not sure, but they are damn sure leading the way...