Archive for the ‘observations’ Category

Fair and Square

June 28, 2011

Recently, I hit up a friend for the sponsorship of an upcoming non-profit event, giving him just 3 days to decide whether or not this event would be a good fit for him and his business.  I was very late in my request, and knew my chances of securing this last minute funding were slim.  In the end, he decided to pass, but promised to support the event next year.

Later, when his wife had heard of the sponsorship opportunity, she suggested that in the future, I come directly to her for such requests…she could make things happen.  I knew this, of course, but that’s not how I wanted to play it.  In philanthropy, as in business, we want people to part with their money because we sold the vision and the value; because we earned the right to ask for the order.

Conceptually, the idea of the “good ol’ boys” network is intriguing, but if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s not really how we want to make a living.  Of course we want to win, but not because we have an angle or know what strings to pull.  We want to win because we truly won…fair and square.


I’m Not Sure Everybody Gets It

June 10, 2011

I’m not sure everybody gets it.

For the 5,000 years leading up to about 10 years ago, bigger was better.  Bigger paid higher salaries, bigger won more often, and bigger carried more clout.  Bigger was low-risk and high-reward.

But not now.  Now, 2 guys with passion can launch a business on the side and literally change the way an entire industry operates.  Now, customers care about agile, and smart, and responsive – and don’t really give a damn about size.  Now, you can be anything you want to be, and create anything  you want to create, without permission or a lot of cash.

I’m not sure everybody gets it, but that’s OK with us, because we do.


Triathletes and Artists

March 1, 2011

Running triathlons doesn’t make you a triathlete, and painting canvases doesn’t make you an artist.

The separation between good and great is wide, and being good at what you do for some number of years doesn’t mean you’ll ever be great.  To be great, you must do 3 things:

  • You must be willing to do what others will not.
  • You must commit to continuous self improvement, constantly raising the bar.
  • You must provide your own fuel.  Other people will never be able to provide the necessary motivation for you.

I’m not saying you have to be great…that’s a personal choice.  I’m only saying that if that’s really what you want, more of the same is probably not enough to get you there.


February 18, 2011

Isn’t it funny, that when we win a competitive deal, we imagine a landslide victory against our competitors, and yet, when we lose, we tell ourselves that it was really, really, close?  Sales people have a really bad habit of believing their own press clippings…I guess it’s how we sleep well at night.

In truth, we’re probably not that far away from winning (or losing) any deal that we truly, vigorously, pursue.


I’m adding a new feature to my blog posts:  HOT JOBS.  I will periodically post open positions that cross my desk and seem like a good fit for my readers.  They will be featured in the side bar to the right – below the “Blogs I Like” listing of my home page.  There’s one listed today for a company called VCE.  Check it out.

A Tough Lesson

February 1, 2011

I wonder how the current generation of kids will handle the harsh reality of this world as adults.  Somewhere along the way we abandoned the idea of winners and losers for the kindler, gentler message that participation is, in and of itself, worthy of praise.  We hand out trophies just for showing up.

It will be one hell of a shock to the system when they find out that in the game of life (as in the game of sales), there are winners, there are losers, but there is no prize for simply playing the game.

In life, there is a first place, and a last place.  Those in first place get to eat, and those in last place find themselves looking for another job.

It’s a tough lesson, but better they learn it now, than later, when the stakes are higher than mere bruised egos.

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.

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.

Table Stakes

October 19, 2010

Before you run off to change the world, it might make sense to take stock of what the baseline is in the world you’re changing.  Only when you know what the “table stakes” are (in other words, what’s the minimum effort or service level that’s required to even get into the game) in your chosen field of play, can you make a conscious decision to “up the ante”.

In the hotel industry, it might look something like this:

  • Internet Access
  • Hair Dryer
  • Cable/Satellite Television
  • Concierge Desk
  • Fitness Center
  • Pool
  • Daily Newspaper

Search yourself….can you check the boxes on all of the baseline requirements in your industry?  Do you meet these metrics consistently, or is there room for improvement?  Nobody cares if you put chocolates on the pillow if the wireless Internet access doesn’t work.  Deliver on the table stakes before moving up the stack.

What would happen…

October 15, 2010

if, on your next coach class flight, you were:

  1. Greeted by a friendly flight attendant
  2. Provided a clean, sanitized seat
  3. Offered a hot towel
  4. Served a delicious sandwich
  5. Given a pair of headphones, and
  6. Shown a box-office movie

…all at no additional charge?

What would happen if you did the same thing to your customers?  And how much more would it cost?  Probably not much, when compared to the wide gap you would create between you and your competitors.

When everybody else zigs, maybe that’s when you should zag.

What Blog Posts Can Teach You About Sales

September 17, 2010

I’ve learned some valuable lessons over the course of the last 6 months or so while writing this blog.  Oddly enough, these lessons are applicable in the world of sales, and in many ways, life.  Here are 5 that jump out:

1.  Your Message Doesn’t Always Get Through – People are busy, and sometimes they don’t read your emails, even though they’ve given you permission to market to them.  So don’t take it personally, just stay politely persistent and relevant.

2.  The Subject Line Matters – I spend a fair amount of time picking the title of my blogs.  The goal is to compel people to read on, to take the next step.  I think it’s important to distill your message in sales, particularly if you’re trying to attract new customers.  Put some thought into it and be succinct.

3.  Your Product Isn’t For Everybody – When I started the blog, I sent out an email to a handful of people to let them know what I was doing.  To my surprise, a few of my friends and colleagues didn’t subscribe…or even reply.  Some prospects, even those that are a perfect fit for your solution, won’t buy, and won’t take a meeting, no matter what you do.  You can’t be everything to everybody, so accept that fact and move on.

4.  You Will Not Hit a Home Run Every Time – More often than not, my blog entries turn out to be base hits, or worse – strike outs.  You must be content with the day-to-day grind, the practice and the preparation.  Sales is 10% presentations and closing big deals, and 90% hard work that makes those extraordinary moments possible.  Reggie Jackson hit 563 home runs, but struck out more than any other player in Major League Baseball history.

5.  Being Persistent and Consistent Is Rewarding – With one exception, I’ve published every Tuesday and every Friday of every week since I started the blog 6 months ago….49 posts (including this one).    It hasn’t gotten any easier (in fact it is now incrementally harder to improve, see this graph for an explanation), but that consistency has paid off in feedback and followers.  It isn’t hard to draw a sales analogy here….being reliable is probably your customer’s # 2 desired trait (in you, the sales person), behind having integrity.

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