Archive for December, 2010

Quota Time

December 28, 2010

And so, sales managers, as the year draws to a close and your plans for next year begin to firm up, ask yourself this question:  Am I going to punish those who delivered for me in 2010 with a hefty quota increase, or will I keep happy the guys who I rely on, year in and year out, to make my job easier?

Meanwhile, Back at the Bat Cave….

December 21, 2010

Ever wonder what superheroes do during their downtime?  Are they busy re-negotiating their Underoos contracts?  Not likely.  They’re not watching Dancing With The Stars Finals, either….or updating their Facebook profile pictures, or watching the World Series Of Poker finals.

They’re constantly sharpening the sword.

Getting better all the time.

Preparing for the next fight.

Ask The Question

December 17, 2010

Surely you’ve learned by now, haven’t you?  You know the 5 (or 7, or 12, or however many) steps it takes to get from the moment the customer says “yes” to the moment you receive the P.O., don’t you?

You realize, of course, that this process stands in the way of your commission check, right?  It’s also the key to accurate forecasting, which plays a significant role in setting expectations and managing your manager.

Do what you want…but if it were me, I’d want to know.  I’d ask the question.

It Works Both Ways

December 14, 2010

Remember that client?  The one you dislike, because he’s hard to work with, never satisfied, always quick to berate you for your mistakes?  Yeah, him.  He’s the guy who doesn’t realize you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and who you secretly hope that one day, the you-know-what is going to hit the fan so that you can slow play your response and teach him a lesson.

Well guess what?  It works both ways.  Somewhere out there is a customer with extra year-end budget money that absolutely must be spent before December 31st.  And if you’re the rep who’s inflexible, slow to respond, self-serving and dishonest, you’re in big trouble.

Because you’re fighting; against the clock and against your customer’s other options for that cash.  And even though his company has standardized on your product, your customer has a choice, and in return for having to put up with you the other 11 months of the year, just might be in the mood to teach you a lesson.

Don’t think it doesn’t happen.  If they want to get it done, they’ll get it done.

Tiger By The Tail

December 10, 2010

Two days ago, a friend of mine, Chris Hobart, was a guest on CNBC’s The Call.  As a retirement and investment guru, a spot (any spot) on CNBC would absolutely qualify for a check mark on the “life list”, right up there with meeting Nelson Mandela or taking batting practice in Wrigley Field.

And as I watched the segment, I couldn’t help but think how nerve-racking it must have been 5 minutes prior to air time.  I’m sure it felt something like it does right before jumping out of an airplane or the moments leading up to your first shark dive.  Butterflies.  Sweaty Palms.  Fear.

I admire Chris for putting himself out there.  He grabbed the tiger by the tail and is holding on for the ride.  All of us dream of what we want, but if we were ever presented with the opportunity to seize it, most of us would become paralyzed by fear.  We’d pass.

What will you do when you catch that tiger?  And do you really want it?  Or are you so scared of success that you’ll sabotage your own efforts to keep yourself out of harm’s way?

Multiple Choice

December 7, 2010

Here’s a simple multiple choice question:

A.  Do you have a manager because you need solid coaching, a sounding board, and assistance with navigating the corporate machine?

-or-

B.  Do you have a manager because you lack the motivation, perseverance and discipline to get the job done on your own?

-or-

C.  (There is no C)

Pavlov’s Dogs

December 3, 2010

In the early 1900’s, Ivan Pavlov first demonstrated his theory of conditioned response.  During these tests, Pavlov showed that if you rang a bell (or tapped a tuning fork) each time you fed a dog, the animals would reach a point where they would salivate at the mere sound of the bell, even in the absence of food.

In sales, we’ve created our own conditioned response with our customer base….through the repetitive promotion of quarter and year end “deals”.  In short, we’ve trained our customers to expect to get a better price in December than they will in January.  Personally, I hate the year/quarter end deal, because we tend to sacrifice long term profitability and price protection for the sake of a single transaction today.

But if you feel you must offer your customer(s) some sort of time-sensitive pricing, here are some things to consider:

  • Verify that the customer can take action before you extend the offer.  The worst thing you can do is show your customer a price that he or she can’t move forward with because of budget constraints or not enough runway to complete the deal.
  • Clearly indicate that the offer is time-sensitive. Make sure that your customer understands that there is a “drop-dead-date” on the special pricing you’ve put in front of him, and that the pricing will revert to the previous structure one day beyond the date you’ve set.
  • Set the customer’s drop-dead-date comfortably short of your own. Always give yourself a few days cushion to account for PO errors, vacation schedules, potential shipping issues, etc.
  • Get comfortable with the new bar you’re setting. Like it or not, the new pricing structure you’re establishing with this year-end-deal will become a precedent for pricing going forward.  You’re opening yourself up to this “deal” price becoming the “standard” price, and you need to make sure that you’re OK with that over the long term.

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