Archive for February, 2008

The road to the ship was underwhelming

Day 2. I think it is Feb 19. The Star Princess, or Someones´ star is not shining. So after a rocket start to our trip, courtesy of Un-United Airlines we arrived, very fatigued at Buenos Aires Airport. Bags were very quickly located, money exchangedOur vessel and a Princess Cruises sign spotted. But then all the momentum was lost.
A harried individual located our names and we were
instructed to drop our bags right there and they ẅould be taken care of. We boarded the bus in the hot steamy afternoon heat. Then the guide girl explained that since the ship was not ready to receive us we were going to a hotel to wait, where we could use the facilities, have a drink, and something to eat.
The bus rocketed off away along toll roads, bridges and then turned into the City. There all progress stopped, We were funnelled into very narrow one way streets, behind other buses, often blocked by parked cars. Finally we pulled up to the hotel, where a single file parade of travelers was inching their way in and out of the door. After much palaver,, we climbed off the bus, into the hotel and eventually were directed to a hot crowed room, The guide asked us to fill in a form very like what we had already done, online. We were handed blue bus tickets and then told that we were to leave for the ship. No sign of food, drink or servicios. Another queue snaked out the door to the bus. And eventually we found ourselves back on a bus.
This one snaked around more narrow streets, while we were given little indication of what horror was ahead of us. Eventually we found ourselves at a port facility. The bus went in and had to negotiate its way amongst containers, lifts, and container cranes, until we spied the ship. Then we saw a line as long as the ship waiting to board in the baking heat. We stopped, several exchnages were made between the guide , the bus driver, and a few people on the dock. Then the bus moved off to take us further away from the ship toward several large tents. We desembarked the coaches and filed into a sweltering, airless tent. Then a scene resembling Dante’s version of chaos unfolded. There were no queues, just masses of tired middle-aged and older well seasoned cruise passengers, very much at the end of their tether.

Through observation, we noted that the young people serving the throng, were collecting passports and passing out the on-board cruise cards. Finally in about another hour, we reached the front of a constantly changing throng. I gave up our passports, yet did not receive a card- there was a problem and I would ned to wait. After some scurrying around and two more people looking, the cards appeared. Then we were directed to queue for a different bus that would take us to the ship. Although we were about 500 ft from the ship, it was obvious that with all the port vehicle traffic and crane movement, it would be worth our life to venture on foot. This queue went better, only 20 minutes kept in the still sweltering heat until we boarded an overcrowded bus. Then after another circuitous route back to the ship, we were allowed to queue to board.
This last leg went reasonably well, we were only on the dock for 25 more minutes in the direct sun. We staggered to our rooms, hoping that our bags were there, since we had now been in these same clothes 23 hrs.
No luck, our bags were among those were there was another problem. Eventually by that evening our bags turned up, we could shower and change and head off to at least a civilized dinner. We were soon to be Antarctica bound (well the Falklands first). Well that was delayed as there were 400 bags still missing, but a few hours later, that was sorted out.
Leaving me now in the Southern seas, watching a lazy albatross surf the wind off the ship.

Flying the Unfriendly UnUnited Skies

Fly the un-United skies. How one flight can be so wrongUnited

I had read about United Airlines attempts to balance their books. Charges for extra bags etc, But my recent trip to Buenos Aires organized by Princess Cruises, took the cake.

Arrival at Seattle terminal was the start. Aware of United´s antipathy to extra bags we carried only two. Both were over weight by 4 lbs. So the uncaring attendant suggested we transfer the extra weight to one suitcase. What a gong show. However $50 later we were checked in. The flight to Dulles to make our connection was delayed, reducing the time between flights to 40 minutes. By the time we walked off the plane in Dulles, we had 25 minutes. Now the fun began. We made the connection and discovered I was n row 17 and Amanda in 23. So much for booking really early. It turned out my seat mate was separated from her partner as were many other couples. So we took matters into own hands, played musical chairs (sin music) and got everyone with their respective partners.

All in all, not so friendly skies and definitely not United!

Good to Great and the software business

Good to Great and the software business.getting motivated

You know Dad, the software business is just so much harder than other businesses!

So said my entrepreneurial son, Kyle, who has started his third business after two successes in software. The third business is not software, its about selling food. And he is getting significant traction. More sayings last week from Kyle.

” Look I have a trusted partner with trained reliable staff in the kitchen. I know that the operation there is smooth and efficient with predictable results and deliveries. All I need to work on is the business, not the operations.

In software I was always worrying about operations. If it wasn’t slipped deliveries, it was getting coders, it was flaky programmers who did not turn up or did not do what was needed, it was projects coming in over budget, upgrades that did not (Shades of RIM) and so on. If I took my eye off operations it could all go to H. over time. In any “spare” time I would look after the business end. But operations was what just drained me. This new business is much easier plus the money comes quickly and steadily. “

A colleague and I discussed this and other issues today and saw that it related to Good to Great. Jim Collins talks about getting the right people on the bus and getting those people in the right seats. In my son’s food business the Collins model works. In software development, you are often struggling with being underfunded, getting any staff at all let alone the right ones. Then not having the right seat cause you really needed a different skill set, but this person was skilled and available. So you really are faced with having to train them into the role you want. The major issue is getting things done on time without breaking the bank. More often than we care to talk about it does not get done on time, impacting marketing, sales, revenue, stock price, the CEO’s ulcer, your job security; pick your poison.

After a time we fleshed out a webinar that we will do after I get back from Argentina around the topic of “Getting Things (Dev ) Done on Time. What help is available to build great development teams that still produce quality software, with predictable, reliable estimates of time and budget.? It will be Wed March 20th at 11 AM through the Software Productivity Center, www.spc.ca. Not your average show I promise. Watch for it.

And that’s 30

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Fun with Food and Fermented Beverages. Ashley Walkley.

this is the answer!  (What was the question?)Fun with Food and Fermented Beverages. Ashley Walkley. 2008. ISBN 9781427628770. Once again Dear Reader we are giving you just the facts to live your life to the fullest. Just how many times a week do you turn to your significant other and say ” Gee I hope this bottle of Old Washboard Red goes well with the meatloaf?” Well fear not, this is the book for all you struggling with pairing food with wine, beer and Scotch.

All kidding aside, I read this book riding the luxurious Skytrain home tonite and found that this is a winner! Of course it is , its written by an Aussie! Straight down the middle, pragmatic, no varnish on it and just exactly what you need to know, for any kind of food with any cuisine. Would that other authors made their topics so easy, enticing and digestible. Buy it, it’s good for you plus you will impress your friends and enemies! You may not find it at Chapters/Amazon but you can get it directly at [email protected]   his website 

Tell Ashley Reg sent you! (Argentina is now 5.5 days away!)

They just don’t make sales(guys/girls) like they used to.

Something in your eye?

They just don’t make sales(guys/girls) like they used to. Nobody does. This comment was made by a CEO I had coffee with last week. He went on to say that you have to be prepared to train your sales teams from the start, that you can not rely on finding “a really good salesperson” off the street. Since this is core to what Thomas Freese has to say about sales training these days ( You have to teach your teams all about how to sell, not just how to follow a process) I was very intrigued.

A little research shows that those great sales training schools of the past, Xerox ( SPS), IBM, Unisys, and so on have changed their model and are no longer the patient sales training factories that they used to be. Thinking more I could only identify in our BC market one (1) professionally trained ( by Apple in the early Mac days) solo corporate sales rep still practicing in our Western market.

So not only is sales tougher these days, you have to be prepared to continuously train, retrain and upgrade your sales teams selling skills. This makes the work of the very small company so much harder. So what do we see CEOs doing to adjust? Some do not know this truth and may be bewildered, many try the old – dial for dollars paradigm – with diminishing results and a few, a very few have found that being precise with the marketing story on all levels compensates for the low skill levels in the sales force candidates. Greater precision has the correct suspects putting up their hands, much further along the buying process than ever before. The skills sales people require are more sophisticated and advanced these days.

Success in the tech industry is hard to come by. It is unbelievingly difficult to build a superb product, on time and at a predictable cost and quality, that works all the time. Add the challenges of a still flaky workforce, fragmented/immature markets, and now a lack of experience in selling and any investor can see why the winners are few. This is why savvy technology companies are realizing the benefits of precision. A local chance to learn how to apply more precision will be in the upcoming March Product Launch Workshop. Check here for details

And that’s 30.

I draw your attention to a Rocket Academy workshop. The Product Launch Workshop

I draw your attention to an upcoming Rocket Academy workshop. The Product Launch Workshop .

We have compiled and compressed our best practices for Product Launch into a 1 day seminar. It is for those folks who have the responsibility for a product launch but have never had the formal training for it. Previous recipients of this training from us in private company settings have experienced a five fold increase in pickup and acceleration to their sales cycle compared to previous launches. We have never given this as a public session ever before. ( I confess I was against this as we do get tremendous results ($$$) with it). But I will be away in Argentina.

For this time only in Vancouver Dave and Geoff convinced our friends at the NRC to help(!) with the investment. So with their generous subsidy we can offer to you this information and access to our Product Launch specialists at ~ $200 bucks. This is a true value deal. We have partnered with our good friends at SFU Downtown, who have a great location, but seem to have a little trouble getting their online registration working. So there is still room in the session.

Time and location : March 13, 2008 – Vancouver, B.C. At SFU downtown (Time Centre)

Click Here to Reserve a Seat Now for the March 13 2008 Product Launch Workshop >>

About the Product Launch Workshop

The Product Launch Workshop is a one day program combining instruction and case examples. Designed for technology companies, the program content is based on proven methodologies. As well, the content is designed to provide valuable insight into common challenges faced by companies at the leading edge of technology.

The workshop follows a stepwise process that is documented in workbook that each participant can leave with and use to guide their own development of a launch plan. Both the workshop and the workbook are full of valuable hints and tips that will help technology companies better capitalize on market opportunity.

The program is designed for technology executives and marketers who are responsible for and involved with the product launch process.

You Will Learn

  • methods to assess product positioning and marketing messages
  • what kinds of promotional methods you can use
  • what kinds of marketing collateral are most effective
  • how to leverage publicity
  • how to budget for a launch event or campaign

Benefits of Product Launch Planning

An effective product launch:

  • builds market awareness
  • attracts more sales leads
  • reduces time-to-revenue

View Workshop Brochure

Attendees Will Leave With

  • ideas for promotions
  • checklists for marketing collateral inventory
  • hints and tips on cost-effective approaches
  • step-by-step process and workbook

March 13, 2008 – Vancouver, B.C.

Click Here to Reserve a Seat Now for the March 13 2008 Product Launch Workshop >>

Enjoy the launch session while I will still be in Argentina ( 30 degs again today – invariably sunny too) I ask for no fee in telling you about this great deal. You will just owe me one!

And that’s 30.

The New era of Salesmanship. Bringing the art of selling into the 21st century. Thomas A. Freese.

The New era of Salesmanship. Bringing the art of selling into the 21st century. Thomas A. Freese. 2005. ISBN1891892207. www.qbsresearch.com.. One quote says it all.

“Teaching salespeople to sound the same as everyone else is the quickest way to commoditize your value proposition and forfeit your competitive advantage. In an increasingly competitive business marketplace, companies are looking for something different that will energize their sales teams, and significantly increase your return on invested sales effort.”

This is a very valuable book. This the third in a series . Secrets of  Question Based Selling  (QBS) , It Only Takes 1% and now this one where he explains how to implement QBS into a sales organization. Why this is so important is that Freese has stated “if your suspects are not curious about what you do” why would they ever:

open your emails?

return or take your call?

engage with your website?

respond to any of your material.?

This is why 99% of all sales materials/approaches/processes are useless. Because they talk about you and your company. But when is a prospect is interested in you?  He is interested in himself and his problems. To make him curious about you, you  need to talk about his problems and earn his curiosity and the right to learn more. want to tes it?  How many emails, voice mails and marketing messages make you curious?  1 in 90? None/  He is onto something

Every serious sales person who wants to earn the big bucks and make it all look so easy, nust read and use this book. Each chapter ends with action items that ar so pragmatic.

Questions for you,” So tell me what client problem(s) does your product solve? ”

Do you have a simple answer that a customer would really care about?

Why are the implications of this(ese) problem(s) ?

Can you find 20?

Why do these matter to the client?

What happens to the business if he does not act?

These questions are the start of Freese’ method. Read the book to find out just what a jewel the book and approach is. Give me a 1% fee on your increased commission and I will be a rich rich man.  Of course if you were content to be just good enough you would not be reading this blog.  As a friend said to me  this week, “What kind of man are you anyway? ” (with all  apologies to the distaff side).

Read Freese’s articles at http://www.qbsresearch.com/articles/index.cfm. I intend to read, and review all his books in short order.  It llooks like you will have to buy the book on his site www.qbsresearch.com.  Bummer, there goes my 20 cents!

And that’s 30

Sales 2.0. Guest column by Chris Jordan, friend and strong sales professional

Sales 2.0.

by Chris Jordan, friend and strong sales professional

Page 1

Solution selling has been the mantra to redefine business-to-business sales (B2B)
since the mid-80’s. It was a shift from the older objection handling and always-be-closing
tactics to a process of developing meaningful, win-win customer
relationships. Solution selling offered a methodology for sales people to move
beyond pushy tactics to consultative strategies and become more professional.
Solution selling is now showing its age as the web has changed the game. We have
access to more information than ever before, which we take for granted, and it is
amazing how quickly we have adopted the power of the internet in our everyday
lives, both in our recreational and business lives. In retrospect pre-2000 – the wide
distribution of high-speed internet was virtually unheard of. Could you imagine how
successful a business like You Tube could be without the broadband capabilities of
the Internet?
Internet users are today more savvy and are becoming less tolerant of poorly
designed web sites; they want to interact with a company online.
The sales and marketing tactics of the 80′s and 90′s are quickly becoming irrelevant
too because access to information allows customers to make well-educated buying
decisions and 75% of the time, in the B2B market, the buyer is better informed than
the sales person; buyers looking for a new company to conduct business with have
already make a significant journey along their buying cycle (not selling cycle) when
they contact a new preferred vendor.
As customers have more control over the buying process their expectations of how
they want to work with a vendor is changing with this phenomenon; this is the crux
of a Sales 2.0 approach. Solution selling is a methodology to help a sales person
understand their customers and present their product or service in a consultative
manner and Sales 2.0 goes a step further. Sales 2.0 is an organizational
methodology that tailors sales and marketing to mesh with the customers buying
behaviours. Rather than putting the sales person as the center of a sales process, it
suggests that the sales person is an integral part of a larger customer buying
process.
If Sales 2.0 is about connecting and engaging to the customers buying behaviours,
then we must take a closer look of the sales process. To be successful you have to
be very clear about your target market and brand position, for example:

1. Who are your customers, and why would they buy from you?
2. How do your customers go to market and shop for solutions?
3. What triggers them to shop?
4. What are their options?
5. How do you help them change their “old” buying habits?

The front-line sales people cannot answer these questions, as it is a broader
organizational question that needs tackling at every customer touch point.
Just as companies are using web-tools to make more informed purchasing decisions,
Sales 2.0 companies are using these same tools to engage their market. At every
touch point web-tools can be used to increase your reach, stickiness, efficiency and
customer experience. When put together they make sales people far more efficient
and effective increasing sales velocity: they can sell more stuff.

Page 2

A buyer that has found your organization on Google, for example, is often a far
better prospect than a company you just cold called. When someone engages you
from your web site, they have already initiated a relationship with your firm, formed
an opinion and are receptive to entering into a possible sales dialogue. You face none
of the buyer resistance that comes with cold calling as the customer has already
been listening to their favorite radio station WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) and
understands this.
Web-tools are easiest to connect to awareness campaigns, but that is only the tip of
the iceberg. By understanding your customers’ buying behaviours, you can gain a
great deal of efficiencies throughout your sales process. For example, companies are
employing tools like WebEx, and other online conferencing tools, to enable the sales
force to conduct product demonstrations virtually. This benefits both the sales person
and the customer. The customer gains immediate gratification by seeing how this
product works and allows them to get educated on its benefits quickly. From a sales
perspective, it is huge too as there is the potential to dramatically reduce your sales
cycle, because you do not have the delays and costs incurred by travel to book a
face-to-face meeting.
There truly is no obstacle for a company to improve their sales process from
awareness campaigns to customer service – everything can be made more efficient
and effective with modern web-tools. But, and this is a big BUT, you have to have a
clear sales process that serves the customer buying experience and moves them
change their old habit and begin the move to a new place (your business). You
cannot automate a system that does not exist, and you do not want to create a
system unless you know it will work. So getting into Sales 2.0 is not for the faint of
heart as it takes a real commitment to understanding your customers, and to
developing sales processes and tools that meet the needs of your customers’ buying
habits.
Sales 2.0 is not just another buzzword as you are going to hear a lot more about it.
Every company is going to face the changing needs of their market and the early
adopters of Sales 2.0 will be handsomely rewarded for their investment. If you are
able to embrace your customers and develop an organization tuned to their needs,
you can build a powerful sales engine that outstrips the solution selling approach.
Sales 2.0 is the new buzzword for effectively increasing sales velocity in businessto-
business sales.