Posts Tagged ‘intelligent selling’

Face Time

March 15, 2011

I’m not a huge fan of big business – that is to say the prototypical bloated, top-heavy, publicly traded company.  I would trade agility for brand any day.  By and large, the bigger the company, the harder it is to get everybody to row in the same direction, and thus the more difficult it becomes to anticipate your customers’ needs and add value.

All that being said, Fortune magazine published a very interesting article this week on Sam Palmisano, the CEO of IBM, and leader of the biggest (and perhaps least efficient) IT company on the planet.

The nugget I discovered, buried among pages about history and strategy and product mixes, was this single sentence:  “When [Palmisano] became head of global services back in the ’90s, he blocked off 70% of his calendar for customer meetings, and he still speaks to at least one customer every single day.”

So here’s a guy, who at the time, was running a multi-billion dollar division of IBM, and he spent 70% of his time with customers.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not even close to that number, and that’s my day job.  It’s what I’m on this earth to do.  Embarrassing.

The next time you are tempted to check your LinkedIn account, or fill out a forecast, or straighten your desk, remember this:  Your customers are buying something from someone.  And if you’re not spending time with them, you’re risking a loss to a big, bloated, inefficient behemoth that’s got it’s priorities in the proper order.


Talent vs Will

March 11, 2011

The world is full of stories about supremely talented individuals that never achieve their potential.  Take JaMarcus Russell for example, the highly touted LSU quarterback drafted in 2007 as the #1 overall pick for the Oakland Raiders.  The Raiders spent nearly $40 million (an average of $2.2 Million per touchdown) on what has been recently touted as NFL’s Biggest Bust.

The fact of the matter is that it isn’t talent that makes you successful, it’s drive, discipline, and hard work.  At least one pro athlete gets it.  Here’s what C.J. Wilson, a pitcher for the Texas Rangers had to say in this week’s Sports Illustrated:

“Talent is irrelevant.  I’ve got much less natural talent than lots of other pitchers…I wasn’t even the best player on my Little League team.  What counts is perseverance, application, industry, assiduity, will, will, will, desire, desire, desire.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Shake the Can

March 8, 2011

Move over Girl Scouts…here come the Mudcats.

Let me break it down for you:  Members of a local junior baseball team (and a couple of Dads/Coaches) were posted outside of a Sports Authority yesterday afternoon, shaking a can for money at passers-by.  No Krispy Kreme donuts, no cookies, no car wash, just a couple of kids shaking a can at people walking into the store and begging for a donation.

Really?  That’s all you could come up with?  What brain trust was assembled for this strategy?  I mean, even the Salvation Army guys have bells.  You can’t even spring for a bell?

Tell you what, next time, you can just stay at home, save the $4.00 you spent in gas money, and come out ahead.  Weak Game.  Very Weak Game.

The Imaginary Bar

March 4, 2011

I sometimes wonder about this quota thing….the imaginary hurdle that all sales people are supposed to get over, come hell or high water.  Occasionally there’s simple logic applied (“What did these customers spend last year?”), but often it’s arrived at in an arbitrary way.

What I wonder is this:   Suppose the arbitrary quota they gave you this year was 4 times larger than the one that you actually received….would you still hit it?  Would you fall short by 50%?  Is there any real reason you couldn’t achieve your manager’s entire revenue target, all by yourself?

The bar isn’t real, it’s imaginary.  How much you produce is really up to you.

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.

Time To Raise the Bar

February 25, 2011

You may have already heard about the video that Johnny McEntee, quarterback for the UCONN Huskies, produced to showcase his talents in an unorthodox way.  You may not know of Alex Tanney, who just last week released his own video raising the bar that McEntee set.  I’ve included both videos below, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy watching them.

How is this relevant in the sales world?  Simply this:  They’ve separated themselves from everyone else in their field by doing something interesting and inventive.  And you’re more than likely not.  Time for you to raise the bar.

In Theory

February 22, 2011

In theory, you should win this deal.  Your product is newer, faster, cheaper, and comes in a cool new wrapper with a fancy logo.

In practice, though, you will lose.  You’ll lose because despite all of your product’s new features, people still buy from people they know, like, and trust…and while you were working your website, I was working on building relationships.



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.

Motivational Triggers

February 15, 2011

As we go through life, little  windows of opportunity open up and provide the necessary “fire” for great achievement.  Let’s call them motivational triggers.  Sometimes they’re obvious, like when you get a layup quota and you know that if you can just put your head down for 6 months, you’ll blow your number out.  These are the times when you say to yourself, “I need to focus…this ride isn’t going to last forever”.

Other times, the triggers are less obvious…like the death of a loved one, getting married, or having kids. That’s when you’re likely to think:  “That was a wake up call.  I need to get serious about my life”.

This weekend, I got to spend some time with a very successful entrepreneur, who’s accomplished some amazing things in his life, and is only a year or two older than me.  It left me thinking:  “Man, I am so behind.  I better get my butt in gear.”

Motivational triggers are everywhere you look; packed with plenty of fuel to help you achieve your goals and be the person you were meant to be.  So be thankful for them, and pay attention…because they rarely stick around for long.

Roll Up your Sleeves

February 11, 2011

No matter how much planning and preparation goes into a project, something, inevitably, will go wrong.  And when it does, you can sit around and wait for your peers to “do their job” and clean up the mess, or you can roll up your sleeves, take ownership of the issue, and drive it to resolution.

The first option, of course, is much easier on you, and a much more common reaction.  But the second will earn you the uncommon respect of your customer, who’s grown accustomed to sales people who disappear when the you-know-what hits the fan.

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