Archive for April, 2008

General quick cry for help from those in the Vancouver area


Our landlord has decided to go virtual with his company.

They are shutting down this office May 31.
Yup 31 days. So Rocket Builders are on the hunt for some space for one office.
The office is less important than a stable mail address, fax no and
access to some meeting rooms. Of course it would be a perk if there
was a place to store my books.

In your travels have you bumped into anyone with space?

All responses gratefully appreciated.


The Back of the Napkin. Solving problems and selling ideas with pictures. Dan Roam

The Back of the Napkin. Solving problems and selling ideas with pictures. Dan Roam. 2008. ISBN 9781591841999

This a terrific complement to Presentation Zen . Roam tells you exactly how to use an empirical, tried and works-in-the-trenches approach to illustration and solving problems (Unpeeling the onion and then building something very powerful ) He then shows that there is scientific evidence on how we see and process info that follows the same models his solution uses. Lesson learned, following my reading on creating more insightful and powerful presentations he also adds the nugget that showing and telling are two different worlds. After you have created the very insightful image, it is important to build it in front of the audience using a thoughtful order. Thus, they can discover it too. This book would be great as a consultants handbook on clear communication. If need to communicate clearly, get this book. It is clear, well written and follows his use of images to also lead you to understanding.

Validation that sales/marketing processes and models need to change- Does yours?

It was mentioned awhile back that many sales organizations/professionals have a problem when customers self-serve on the Web and enter the sales process further along then they are used to. A “cookie -cutter” response and the resultant adjustments to this were described in Marketing Plans for Service Businesses , by Professor Malcolm McDonald

One-to-one communications and principles of relationship marketing,
then, demand a radically different sales process from that traditionally
practised in service organizations. This point is far from academic, as an
example will illustrate.

The company in question provides business-to-business financial services.
Its marketing managers relayed to us their early experience with a
website which was enabling them to reach new customers considerably
more cost-effectively than their traditional sales force. When the website
was first launched, potential customers were finding the company on the
Web, deciding the products were appropriate on the basis of the website,
and sending an email to ask to buy. So far, so good.

But stuck in the traditional model of the sales process, the company
would allocate the ‘lead’ to a salesperson, who would telephone and make
an appointment, perhaps three weeks hence. The customer would by now
probably have moved on to another online supplier who could sell the product
today, but those that remained were subjected to a sales pitch, complete
with glossy materials, which was totally unnecessary, the customer having
already decided to buy. Those that were not put off would proceed to be
registered as able to buy over the Web, but the company had lost the opportunity
to improve its margins by using the sales force more judiciously.

In time, the company realized its mistake, and changed its sales model
and reward systems to something close to our ‘interaction perspective’
model. Unlike those prospects which the company proactively identified
and contacted, which might indeed need ‘selling’ to, many new Web customers
were initiating the dialogue themselves, and simply required
the company to respond effectively and rapidly. The sales force were
increasingly freed up to concentrate on major clients and on relationship

The changing nature of the sales process clearly raises questions for the
design of marketing communication, such as: Who initiates the dialogue,
and how do we measure the effectiveness of our attempts to do so across
multiple channels? How do we monitor the effectiveness not just of what
we say to customers but what they say back? And how about the role of
marketing communications as part of the value that is being delivered and
paid for, not just as part of the sales cost?

Thanks to Simon Backer for telling me about Professor McDonald this AM.

Marketing Genius. Peter Fisk.

Marketing Genius. Peter Fisk. 2006. ISBN184112681. How is that the English can write and publish such terrific business books? This is one of them. Not for the reading trifler, as the book is an opus , not a 100 Aways to Wow Your Audience so like the US market writers. This is a thoughtful, well written, easy to follow guide to all there is about marketing. It is the best all time marketing book I have read. I took voluminous notes and the pages are festooned with numerous sticky flags. If you are a CEO, CMO, VP sales with aspirations to more, you must buy, read and reread this book. The plethora of case studies is worth the price of the book alone. Eg. Did you know that Mercedes only has to approach 107, prospects to get 100, 000 customers, but GM has to hit 500, 000 prospects to get 100,000 customers?

I took 2 enjoyable weeks to get through this one.

The truth about wall street and government fraud. Gunther Karger

The truth about wall street and government fraud. Gunther Karger. 2005. ISBN 0964597934. This is one of those books you pick up and immediately think – the guy is slightly off. Lots of capitals, bold print and exclamation marks. Self published. Yet his credentials and govt/lg company/Wall Street experiences check out and his references are there when you check them. Is this the “one honest man?” Published in 2005 he predicts the Asset Backed Securities fraud. One scenario he lays out is very “scared straight”.

So OPEC is all Muslim countries except Venezuela (and he really loves America). Saudi Arabia is the biggest member of OPEC. In the late ’90s oil was $10-$20 dollars a barrel if OPEC could reduce production.

So if oil goes up in price , who benefits? Iraq invades Kuwait/American responds = $30 oil. Wait a minute if there is war in the Middle East oil goes up . So guess what happens?

9/11 – America responds =$50 oil. US invades Afghanistan =$70 oil. Saddam threatens to sell his oil in Euros not dollars. US invades Iraq = now $100 oil. Surprise , now Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are all Shi’iite led. Saudis were the bulk of Bin Landins troops. Iran supports Hamas and Hezbolla with millions. None of these countries appear to embrace democracy.

China consumes 1/20th of the oil that the US does. So it’s not them driving up the price. So OPEC pulls an extra $150B more out of US after 9/11 and presently over $300 B US annually each yr out of the the US , for the same amount of oil since’90. This is over 2% of the US GNP. Remove it and the US GNP is almost at depression levels.

So if a new US Republican president is elected (McCain) who believes that wars can be won and keeps at it, what can happen to the price of oil? Who really benefits? What price is a compromise now? The Democrats are even further away. They do not even have a plan. You can buy the book from He has a bunch of stuff, and is no dummy. I was surprised at how much sense he made , from Enron, Dan , Chapter 11 and so on.

and thats 30

The Complete Turtle Trader. The legend, the lessons, the results. Michael W. Covel.

The Complete Turtle Trader. The legend, the lessons, the results. Michael W. Covel. 2007. ISBN 9780061241703. As it says on the flyleaf, “If you want to understand the real world of trading, read this book” . The book reads like a novel since Covel is a clear, concise writer with a personable style.

I learned a lot of the background needed to understand where this famous trend following system came from, as Covel is an excellent researcher. I was unaware that Richard Dennis decided to run a training school to prove that great traders (Turtles) can be taught. (Nurture vs nature). Covel provides a clear description of the Rules to the Turtles. Proof that these rules work is the included career track records of very wealthy people who followed the Rules.

I loved Charlie Munger’s ( Warren Buffets No 2 guy) quote, ” In my whole life I have known no wise people over a broad subject matter area who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.

Lesson learned on entrepreneurs. Nancy Upton and Don Sexton , of Baylor University pinpointed nine traits of those who become fabulously wealthy entrepreneurs:

  1. Nonconformists – lower need to conform indicating self-reliance
  2. Emotionally aloof- not necessarily cold to others, but can be oblivious
  3. Sky divers – lower concern for physical harm, but does change with age
  4. Risk takers – more comfortable taking it
  5. Socially adroit – more persuasive
  6. Autonomous – higher need for independence
  7. Change seekers – like novel approaches. This is different than 99% of all other people
  8. Energetic – higher need / or ability to work longer
  9. Self-sufficient – don’t need as much sympathy or reassurance, but they still need to form networks so self-sufficiency need not be taken to extremes.

If you have any interest in doing the work needed to make the big money trading, this is the book for you . Perhaps like me you are interested but would prefer to be able to find a trader that shares your philosophy who will do the work, then you need this book. Or perhaps you just like to read about people making scads of money trading and like Charlie Munger says, you read/learn all the time.

selling against the goal. How corporate sales professionals generate the leads they need. Kendra Lee

Selling against the goal. How corporate sales professionals generate the leads they need. Kendra Lee. 2005. ISBN 1419508253. Take this book and Brian Carroll’s book and you pretty well have the complete package of lead generation activities. Lee goes into detail and depth to give the sales professional a high value resource. If you just started with medium to large sized firm in sales, this book is a road map to high performance sales. It does assume two things, that you know how to sell and marketing is doing its job. These two assumptions apply so rarely to the small to medium business.

Another place where sales will run into an issue is that sales people are not good at creating good content and copy for lead gen programs. Its not in their genes. Of course they think they do. (I certainly did until it was proven over and over to me) Most of Lee’s copy examples are quite good, but some illustrate that fatal flaw about salesmen, they can forget that to get customer interest you do not start out talking about your Co. or yourself.

So although this is a must buy book for sales people, it does not address what you need in regards to great copy. You should combine your work laid out in this book with that of a  marketing peer who understands compelling copy. Of course as a good sales person , you could not at first tell the difference  ‘tween compelling copy and just copy. But, you will think you do.

Selling Against the Goal: How Corporate Sales Professionals Generate the Leads They Need

Customers for Life.

Customers for Life.You will never know the wrong turns

It is likely that you sell many more different products than customers buy individually from you. You may have been happy to just get the annual service/upgrade revenue from them. Knowing that getting new customers is harder and costlier each quarter, it makes sense to me that getting more sales from present clients is a great investment regardless of the economy. We had a client who received 75% of his annual target income every year,  one week into the first quarter from upgrades, new product buys and service contracts. And that amount grew 10% every year regardless. Now he was an good businessman. Oh, if you are just a one trick (one product) company,  shame on you, what are you thinking?

Present customers are more than a nice to have. They are your well run gold mine to develop. All it requires is a structured process and hard work. As much work as you put into getting new customers and replacement ones for those you lost should be the least you put into present customers. The client above also had a 95% client retention rate. But I digress.

A clients for life attitude starts by knowing when you look at the account, that the dollar figure that should come to you is not the first sale amount or the annual fee, but the total dollars possible from this client for the next 10 to 15 years. If you do not have this number or know how to come up with it, its time to do some serious market research on your customers and what else they are buying.

This research is more than the annual client customer survey of additional product features you need to add to the same product to keep the customer. (You do not do that? Obviously you are in a lifestyle business, not a real business – so how is that working for you? )

Real example Zappos: 3/4 of purchases are from repeat customers. Loyalty is a huge competitive advantage. Let’s say the average cost of customer acquisition in their field is $50. They are always $37.50 ahead of the competition. How can you beat that? (a – Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos)

Then its a matter of creating a systematic process of educating the client about all the other things you can do to make their life easier and less painful. Wait for it , what am I talking about? It sounds like ——it is, a nurturing campaign, run by marketing to educate your clients over the year about new value you could bring to them. You have to do the research, identify the pains , identify the numerous audiences in the target and the appropriate messages for them and launch a program, just as if they were a new client. Wouldn’t your clients like you to pay attention to them after the sale like you did before?

Here is where your customer support group really can shine. They are often more in contact with the client than the sales folks after the sale. They too need material and help in extracting where else you could be helping the client, what issues are arising. That’s why I love to bonus Customer Service for new business. I once had a Service Rep who ran our repair counter. He consistently sold the same hard drives at a 40% higher margin than they were displayed on the store floor. He sold lots of other add ons as well. Customers left the choice up to him because he was not a salesman – but his sales commissions were often higher than most floor sales guys. I just loved that guy. What are you doing to help your Customer Service guys increase their salaries and become a real company hero? Word to the wise, you are not turning these CS folks into salesmen (they did not choose that path), you are helping them help each customer more.

I surprises me so much that we meet companies who know so little about their own customers that they have made only one sale to one department in a gazillion dollar client. Or to one location to a multi location company. That would keep me awake at night, scheming how to do better. How do you grow without spending your brains out if every sale is to a new client? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Talk about drive-by selling. Or sell and forget. You let the customer forget about you. And all it takes is some concentrated research effort and work to make just so much recurring money

And that’s 30.success 2

The Kite Runner. Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner. Khaled Hosseini. 2003. ISBN 0385660073. What can I say, its been around for quite some time, but I finally got around to read this good one yesterday, fiction being one of the last things I reach for. If you seek insight into the Afghan soul and life, read this book. It is well written, with no respite for those who want an”easy way out”. I can see why it would make a gripping/intense movie. Too real at times, the author has a talent for capturing the reader. It brings home that in every country in every time, ordinary people get involved, and there is always hope.


Beautiful Evidence. Edward Tufte. The Non-Designer’s Design Book. Robin Williams. Thoughts on Presentations

Beautiful Evidence. Edward Tufte. The visual display of quantitative evidence. 2006. ISBN0961392177. This book covers the gamut of the published works of Isaac Newton, the review of the Challenger Disaster ( A telling indictment of PowerPoint) and a review of where PowerPoint fails badly in so many ways ( yes he does not care for it) through to how public sculpture should be displayed. A wonderful and eclectic book. Recommended if you truly want to be a better communicator. Plus this book on your coffee table will make people think you are really smart.

The Non-Designer’s Design Book. Design and typographic principles for the visual novice. Robin Williams. 2008.ISBN 9780321534040. Once again when a real expert writes a book the complex can seem so simple. This is a gorgeous book. She shows you exactly what to do about keeping items with intellectual connectivity proximate. She holds forth on how to best use Alignment, Repetition, Contrast and Colour for print, web and all types of content. Thoroughly done asd 100% enjoyable ot read. I loved the sections on Fonts; begone Arial/Times Roman !