Archive for April, 2007

ROI Selling. Increasing revenue, profit & customer loyalty through the 360 deg. sales cycle. Michael J. Nick & Kurt M. Koenig

ROI Selling. Increasing revenue, profit & customer loyalty through the 360 deg. sales cycle. Michael J. Nick & Kurt M. Koenig. ISBN 0793187990. As part of our mantra at Rocket Builders to bring metrics into sales and marketing I was asked to review this book. A very valuable book for those in the enterprise sales market and/or markets where the customer needs material that really shows the ROI from using your goods and services. This includes customers who have become “jaded” by implementations that took longer and cost more than budgetted with little to show for it. They will love the part where you can show them the cost of waiting/not deciding. (So will you)

Not a book for the faint of heart as it is quite thorough and all encompassing wrto getting and using metrics in sales. It is definitely written with VP sales and CFO in mind. The very last chapter discusses ROI used in marketing and despite the brevity, it is a useful chapter. If I was to point to one flaw, it is that this book, like so many others in sales , does not address how and why most marketing materials do not really help the sales process. The problem is as much due to sales as marketing. But that is the subject for another day(s)?

Chapters are quick, short and perhaps a bit too concise in explanation. It takes a while to get through and I would not recommend it as an airplane book. You need quiet, time and reflection to use this. If you do, the results should be very useful to you


Change or Die. Alan Deutschman. The three keys to change at work and life.

Change or Die. Alan Deutschman. 2007. ISBN 9780060886899. Maybe this is book that could change your life. The author went out to research change programs that beat the odds and the predictions of experts. One trigger was hearing experts say that the NAmerican health care crisis could be removed if the small group of individuals who consume the vast majority of the health care budget would just chose healthier lifestyles. Ie they are sick because of how they chose to live their lives. Five behavioral issues consume 80% of the health care budget! (Smoking, drinking, overeating, stress and lack of exercise.) Deutschman investigated programs that helped people change lifestyles and stay changed. He also looked at a program that successfully broke patterns of criminal behavior as well as how Toyota took a problematic car plant over from GM and using the same people and equipment, completely turned it around. The common element in all these programs was replacing fear with hope and showing people improvements in their situation now. Lessons here for all leaders. Deutschman is a journalist thus the writing is clear, succinct and easy to follow. A treat,

Jeff Bezos on Company culture (from Change or Die -Alan Deutschman)

In 1995 Bezos was first building up Amazon. His colleagues brought in job candidate after job candidate. Bezos refused to hire any of them, even though the company was desperately short -staffed and growing exponentially. Bezos knew that he wanted people who were frugal, resourceful, who loved to analyze information, try new things and take big risks, like himself. It was ridiculously difficult to get a job there in the earliest days. After he hired the first few dozen people they established a culture that was self-perpetuating. (Then he could let others do the hiring. )The early personalities established a cultural DNA , a replicating genetic code. Newcomers would come to a place that had its own well-defined set values, beliefs, practises, skills, quirks, and even delusions. They would then model their behavior on people around them, becoming either a good fit or choosing to leave. Bezos says,” Cultures evolve from that early set of people. Once it is formed it tends to become extremely stable, it stays around. It ends up building on itself”.

Lesson learned would be for you to look around your company to “see, hear and feel” your culture that has grown from those early days/hires. If you want to change the culture, its again all about the people you bring in. In the early  days its all up to you.  And Speed kills.

David Maister Podcast. What kind of provider are you?

I was listening to David Maister this AM . The 20 minute Pod-cast “What Kind of Provider are You”which comes from a chapter in his book “True Professionalism.” (reviewed in my archives) His comments are very telling to anyone who has a service component to his business. David explains that there are four types of providers, Pharmacists, Nurses, Brain Surgeons, and Physicians. Pharmacists sell their aspirin ( methods and processes) to clients who want a standard fix at the “best price”. Nurses bring aspirin with counselling skills to clients who want a relationship. Brain Surgeons sell brilliance to clients who want to wake up “fixed”. Physicians sell a step by step involvement with the patient to bring them to a better state.

Pharmacists need to develop terrific execution with leveraged staff. Nurses develop deep relationship skills, Brain surgeons must select which clients need and can pay for their creativity and brilliance. Physicians need to build incredible patience into their methods. Maister believes that the market wants pharmacists to be more like nurses and brain surgeons to be more like physicians. Profits (and leverage, scalability) are greatest for pharmacists and become less so as you move through the model. Physicians need to know when to refer to others, else they can never scale. You can find the pod-cast at

Maister feels that many companies make the mistake of not knowing what type of provider they are. Those that do figure it out do very much better. Now if you take that view and add it to Trouts’ clarity wrto Focus (reviewed yesterday) this makes a lot of sense. In our practise we see all to often clients pulled in many directions to Sunday and in the process, working very hard but not making the progress they expect.

Focus. The Future of Your Company Depends on it. Al Ries.

Focus. The Future of Your Company Depends on it. Al Ries. 1996. ISBN 978006799908. Yes , 1996! Found this in a book-bin and realized that although I have read his successive books on marketing I never read the original book where he presented all his and Laura Reis’ research. This is a trip back in time, but his predictions are uncanny! Lesson learned, he suggested IBM should move to “open source” long long ago. I defy you to read this and not have second thoughts about brand, message, and marketing today. Absolutely timeless book, despite the examples being all over 11 yrs old! Great for the bookshelf and a regular reference book. Pretty cheap these days!

Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It

Accelerants. 12 Strategies to sell faster, close deals faster, & grow your business faster.Michael A. Boylan

Accelerants. 12 Strategies to sell faster, close deals faster, & grow your business faster.Michael A. Boylan. 2007. ISBN159184150X. The abstract for this book promised that it would seem to be a very good complement to Rocket Builders Precision Sales and Marketing Program, as the subhead “sell faster, close deals faster, & grow your business faster” detailed our program results exactly. And yes, the 12 “rules” fit very well within our model. However the author violates one of today’s business rules. In order to get more from your target/reader, you need to give more. This is a very frustrating book as it never really gets into the details of how the system works, just that it does work- trust us, preferring to never miss an opportunity to pitch the unique values of the author’s company to offer customized solutions to your company. The last four chapters (?) have to be one of the most blatant and repetitive sales pitches I have encountered. Unfortunately if you go to his website, it offers even less information, so you have to get the book to get anything! I could not help but think that the author goes out of his way to sell so often that he ruins what started out as a useful book. Since I already know how these “Rules” do work to maximize the return, I obtained very little new at the end of the day. At $30 I can’t recommend it.

Accelerants: Twelve Strategies to Sell Faster, Close Deals Faster, and Grow Your Business Faster

Soldier Statesman Peacemaker. Leadership Lessons from George C. Marshall. Jack Uldrich

Soldier Statesman Peacemaker. Leadership Lessons from George C. Marshall. Jack Uldrich. 2005. ISBN0814408575. Today the legacy of George C. Marshall is seen everywhere in Europe thanks to his tireless preparation for WWII, running the US war and then heading the after war efforts to rebuild Europe. He believed that one could never over prepare for war and the peace that ensues after. Too bad GW Bush and Chenay never read his work! The book illustrates Marshall’s Nine Core Values with examples from his career as well as with present day efforts by current CEOs. Trumen’s “doomed to repeat ” quote about the perils of ignoring history resound out of this book as you see how the US and Canada are responding to the current wars. Marshal was a man with a mission, to get any war over as quickly as possible, to spare as many lives as possible, and to do everything he could to show the troops that the military and the country was 100% behind them at all times. History used Marshall well and then he seems to have been forgotten. Easy. organized read that I recommend for those looking for leadership lessons. Get it from or Amacom.

Christchurch and New Zealand thoughts.

So my second son Joel was faced with a decision. He had Christchurch two offers after leaving Xantrex in Vancouver. Leading the European market entry for a New Zealand wind turbine co or being a brewer- engineer with New Zealands largest brewer. For a mechanical engineer it was an easy decision, he is now brewing Steinlager, Guiness, Kilkenny and 26 other brands in a 100 plus yr old brewery. His job, lead them into more modern methods, and on weekends mountain climb Mt Cook with his boss.

Son inside the Lions Beer brew houseSon, Joel budding brewer with Lions Brewery New ZealandChristchurch from the roof of the brewery

Christchurch has the no 1 Antarctic display in the world. The bulk of the worlds Antarctic expeditionsleave from here. Well worth the time. By this time Amanda and I had bought new sweaters, this place is as cold and wet as Vancouver! Good prices on made in China New Zealand wool sweaters, go figure.

A sunny day at Taylors Mistake and Sumner Beaches helped, sort of felt like a sunny day in November at White Rock

.On Taylors Mistake beach

Went to a Christchurch Crusaders pro rugby game. Some context – Christchurch is about the size of Victoria. It has a pro rugby team ( no one in the Super 14 league (AUS, NZ and South Africa) with 8 All Blacks ( NZ National team) members on it. There are four other Pro teams in NZ (4.4 million people). My son, Joel plays on one of 400 senior teams (two squads for a team) in Christchurch. Perhaps the 395th worst team. His comment is that 15 of the team members could play on the Cdn national team. This from a low level beer league team! What a club house they have! He gets a full sweatsuit, cleats, game and practice jersey and full kit, an after game dress shirt and in his second year a tie and team blue blazer. He pays nothing to play. as it is a fully sponsored team.

To the pro game. The stadium holds 60 000 people. Since they were playing the Western Australian team from Perth attendence was way down to 50 000. Like the Canucks playing the last place team. Had it been a Duneeden NZ ( like Vanc vs Calgary) match-up we could not have got our $16 tickets. The noise was like a BC Place Grey Cup game Vanc vs Calgary , complete with galloping Crusaders on horses flying around the field, fireworks and flames shooting out of the “castle’ for every point scored. Christchurch won 39 to nil. It was a great nite out for all ages. no drunken fans, but lots of $1 beer being drunk. Tremendous atmosphere and yes really really good rugby. The next day on the plane to auckland I asked this elderly grandmother had she heard about the game. “Yes, we really walloped those Aussie $%#&^^*& did’nt we?” A popular tee shirt says, ” Support two teams, New Zealand and anyone else playing Australia.” Everyone, evne those who do not play know about rugby and can participate. We could learn something about competitive spirit.

Good ideas from New Zealand?

All bus stops have timers showing when the next bus is due.

Selling beer and wine though grocery stores drives prices down and reduces brewery/winery profit margins. Selection is improved, hours are better and the consumer nets out. Tellers already age check cigarette sales. Beer at $1 per bottle kills the incentive for brew your own shops. We could shut down all the BC liquor stores! Tax is still tax.

Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers – New Zealand

Toured through Arthurs Pass, and Castle Rocks prior to heading through the New Zealand Alps to the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers. No drama here unless you count leaving over a case of beer at the Flock Lodge fridge…and it was good beer too. More single lane bridges. Imagine this, racing down a main road and hitting single lane bridges, some of which you share with a train! New Zealand drivers are determined to go through, pedestrians and cyclists are at great risk here.

Heres a hint: Glaciers grow with rain and snow- 278 out of 365 days a year. We did not hit a dry day. Not even close. Imagine a Kitimat downpour, add 50% and you just about have it. No material , Goretex included can keep you dry. Our Glacier walk included:

  • boots with three socks that still did not fit,
  • rainpants, gloves, toques and coats 1 size fits all.
  • 1105 steps cut in the ice by 6 ft long legged guides.
  • Kea mountain parrots that can unzip your pack and eat your lunch- they also like windshield wipers

Struggling but still smiling- Its early onThe squeezer!Nordic distainMy five foot zip companion Amanda did not fare too well. By the end of the day, I was lucky that she was only not speaking to me. Plumb tuckered out with everything hurting for days. Son Joel spent the day ice wall climbing, he looked quite happy, so I let him drive the five hours back to the dry side , Christchurch.

Christchurch is Kelowna bounded by Long Beach on one side and Whistler on the other. What better place for a Vancouver boy to live?

What we can learn from the Australians- More than a top ten

So four of us sat around (Cdns all) and collected the “best”ideas we found.

1. Every city uses the same system of garbage collection like Vancouver. A WCB initiative, you are given standard garbage holders (more than a can) which you wheel to the curb. The truck comes around and a robot arm picks up the can and dumps it. One man, one truck.

2. BYOB laws. There are unlicensed restaurants near “bottle shops” (Liquor stores). Go to the bottle shop or bring bring your plonk from home and open it at your open air or inside table, they provide the glasses. (Never ate inside all the time I was there). No drama!

3. Every toilet has two buttons. One half flush and one full flush. Simple and required by building code.

4. Sun sails. Open spaces (School yard, back yards, restaurants etc) are shaded by these classy and stylish sun sails. Not lightweight cheap stuff but really well fixed-in units that serve for sun and rain covers.

5. Food courts that have really good food in them. We had some of our best and tastiest lunches in food courts.

6. Open air markets . Granville Island market would be a very small market in australia. Fill every parking lot at vancouver airport on Sunday with stalls and you have a mid sized market. And these really only operate Saturday and Sunday mornings (early). Best fresh food (meat and veg) plus all kinds of other things at good prices.

7. E-chemists. You (or your doctor) can order and receive your prescriptions online for less than at the store. Oh govt post mail delivery is really fast.

8. Flavoured tunas. Chil and pepper, lemon and sweet pepper, sweet thai sauce, there are dozens of combinations of flavoured tuna at 99 cents a tin ( albacore, yellowtail etc) Really tasty and they are all pop top.

9. Move over Vancouver, let the aussies teach you about fireworks displays. Off roofs. bridges, quays plus on barges. You have never seen anything like this. Sydney at New Years is one example.

10. Transit systems that work and are integrated. Buses arrive as trains and ferries drop off passengers. Off peak fares start at 10 through to 3 weekdays and all weekends. Bus drivers who give change. The cities are not sold out to the car. Free shuttles around the core to encourage you to use buses not cars. It works.

11. If you make a mall in a main street like Granville street, make it permamant, no traffic just people. Eliminate curbs, build restaurants, cafe’s and bars in the middle of the street and let people sit outside under sun sails. Build wide sidewalks so restaurants can put tables under permanent covers out. Yah Yaletown, extend the roofs!
12. Free electric BBques in picnic sites. no brickettes, no smoke, no flame.

13. If there is a famous area to visit – charge a preservation tax . Ie for the barrier reef every visitor pays a reef tax.

14. Use roundabouts not traffic lights in smaller places – really efficient. Not good when events let out.

15. In cities have some major intersections (Burrard and Georgia etc) where all traffic lights go red and pedestrians can cross corner to corner and criss cross the street. How many times do you have to wait for two lights to get across the street? Cars can wait a bit more.

16. Meat pies. Come on local bakers, learn how to really do this to make flaky pastry and yummy fillings, not salty!

17. Screen doors and windows. How to make really robust and secure ones. No more flimsy ones. These you can lock and they have security grills.

18. Pub lunches where you have the roast of the day with 5 to 7 veggies. They really do this well. Rarely do you make a mistake picking a pub lunch. Fresh and tasty. ( But it comes with chips)