Archive for October, 2007

Unstuck: A Tool for Yourself, Your Team, and Your World. Keith Yamashita & Sandra Spataro

Unstuck: A Tool for Yourself, Your Team, and Your World. Keith Yamashita & Sandra Spataro. 2007. Very interesting and provocative layout. This is a book of insights and activities. You can read it end to end or use the guided trails to solve a key worded problem. Add this to your library of creativity and change management tools. I enjoyed the case studies and these folks ha e helped lots inour field. This is not dead center in my skill set, so although I found some useful advice in the book, I can not comment on its applicability in other settings. Clearly written in an easy conversational style.

Sales Support. Part 2 of a series asking are you effective as well as efficient in selling?

Last post on this topic discussed lead generation as one of four marketing roles in the Precision Sales and Marketing program . Today I look at Sales Support, leaving Prospect Nurturing and the Customers for Lif for future posts.

In my early years of selling this is the only area I believed I needed marketing. I have a prospect ( more likely a suspect) who has evidenced some interest in what I am proposing ( again if they had a pulse I may have thought that equaled interest). So now marketing where is my magic closing tool, that implement of pure product speak that causes entire companies to open their treasury to me, the Brochure? Like a bandaid on a four year-olds owie, the brochure fits everything. The casual booth visitor at the trade show, the telephone prospect ( Send me your brochure)., the leave behind after a sales call (Check out our brochure for more information) , the passerby at the website ( Download our brochure!). Yes this piece of collateral is essential to ensure that I can, perhaps, will possibly be able to do exactly what?

Take off the rose coloured glasses, despite everyone having one, brochures are an example of waste, waste, waste. Who buys anything significant from a brochure? How do you build a sales relationship with a brochure? What do you learn about the customer needs with a brochure? They are glanced at and tossed, just tossed, thrown on a shelf, dropped in a file – then tossed later, left at the show tables, on the floor and on the hotel bar. The last thing sales needs is a brochure. Bad brochures even slow the process down, as they introduce complexity and confusion.

Sales needs much much better support . Market research on customers, segments, appealing offers, compelling messages, the clients markets and their competitive pressures. Research on your competitors and their products, how they meet the market, their sales and marketing approaches, strengths and weaknesses, who are their top sales people, how do they operate? Heads up research on your market, where is it going, trends, opportunities, rough patches, good ideas, bad ideas? Should you even be in this market? How much of the market can you really address this year with your resources? Is that stretch goal completely out of line? Marketing needs to backstop sales in telling what is really achievable.

Customers need to hear success stories. How you helped people like them , in their job, their business , their country solve similar compelling business problems. Marketing needs to be able to pen stories in the languages of the market you are addressing such as specific tailored sales white papers for the business manager, the technical guru, the operators, the CFO.

How can marketing make it easier for the sales reps to know to call the right people, get the call taken, the voice mail to be returned? What are you doing on the referral marketing, the testimonials that sales needs to show that the product is truly great! Do all parts of the marketing mix drive the prospect toward the act of raising their hand that they want to talk to sales about this problem “Now that I know about it I can not ignore it any longer.” You will know that this is working, because the prospects move through the sales cycle faster and deals close more quickly.

BUsiness growth

You can’t leave the design and selection of marketing material up to sales. Sales can describe the ideal lead to marketing, they can talk about their clients, how they talk, and what they look for. Sale can give anecdotal info on the market trends. But for sales to be truly successful they look at one call at a time, one client at a time. Marketing needs to have the scouts out and the research dept always working to help the army know the terrain well before it gets there. In this part of effective selling the details and the execution are essential to get right as the alternative means the sales manager and marketing manager lose their jobs. If if continues to go badly, the CEO is next to go.

The Sales Managers Success Manual. Wayne M, Thomas.

The Sales Managers Success Manual. Wayne M, Thomas. 2008. ISBN 9780814480502. Another superb book from Amacom. This publisher never puts out “just another book”. Thomas brings insight, great research, experience and an easy writing style to the subject. His comments rang true to me in every chapter. This is pure gold.

Chief Sales Officers have a corporate life expectancy shorter than CEOs these days. Its quite unlikely that hiring a new sales manager will “fix” your sales problem. Thomas gives the new and seasoned execs bags and bags of strategies and ideas on how to do this perilous job. The no. one killer behavior? A sales manager who over promises and under delivers is on a dead man walking route. Thomas can show you a fact based approach to forecasting that is very quick and effective.

Thomas also reinforces one of our lessons learned, any change in sales approach, marketing, new training, new product, new market entry requires two full customer sales cycles to measure if it is working or not. Sales managers need to show patience and build up a reputation for being a predictable business partner to the CEO.

Near the back of the book Thomas does a very good analysis of how dead your opportunity is if the product or the market are not compelling. He also presented the clearest explanation of anchoring I have read to date. Anchoring is the basic human nature to fix on a price which then anchors all other discussions. All salesmen know they have to be very cautious about when and where they set the asking price. His explanation is clear and thoughtful and worth the price of the book.

Sales people are optimistic by nature. Thomas gives the sales manager tools, attitudes and approaches to match the optimism with success. He is also deeply into working very closely with marketing for sales effectiveness.

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun. A memoir of Africa. Peter Godwin

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun. A memoir of Africa. Peter Godwin. 2007 ISBN9780316158947. The author was born in Rhodesia ( Zimbabwe). His parents had emigrated there from Europe after WW II and created a wonderful life, as did many other Caucasians. At one stage Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of Africa and an example country. Then came Robert Mugabe and his thugs. This is a reflection on 20 yrs of Mugabe after four years of civil war. It is a tale of wonderful country and chilling facts. I could not put the book down.

The long term sales view. Are you effective as well as efficient? Part 1 of a series

As a long time sales guy, I know that I have a very high chance of closing a sale if the
prospect calls me. Over the years I have worked with many different sales systems to help
move along the client to this point. Lead generation programs seemed to provide me
with the wrong people, or it was way too early to talk to them, while others had limited buying
power if any, or they needed much more info to get into the sales cycle. But I would duly
plug them into the process and work, work, work  on moving them resulting in maybe overall total close
rates of 10-15% once you looked at the entire funnel. It just seemed to me that there was
so much waste. My selling was efficient, but I had not that much effective selling time.

A few years ago we started really looking at the marketing role- lead generation end. We
approached things differently by being very attentive to learning much more about the
target, how they buy including what they need at various places/times on the buying path, and
how those messages need to be crafted. As we got better at this we noticed that more
targets were putting up their hands saying, “Talk to me”. Sales cycles were shortening;
close rates were increasing, and sales commissions were rising. We were giving sales
folks more effective selling time.

From this we have built the lead generation portion of Precision Sales and Marketing . In the lead gen area
we look after the segmentation of targets, the offer(s), positioning, messaging wherever you can be seen
by a prospect, lead generation campaigns and the hand off of the “sales-ready” leads to
the sales force.

As clients have staff ready to take this lead gen program over we train them
in running and improving the system. Those leads which are just not “ready’ yet do not get
tossed, but they do not plug up the sales men’s time. These leads are put into a low cost
“prospect nurturing “program that is run as a marketing activity to encourage the leads to start to
make buyer like activities until they literally put up their hands to be talked to.

Lead generation is one of four marketing roles  in the Precision Sales and Marketing program . In future posts I will explain the other roles, Sales Support,  Prospect Nurturing  and the Customers for Life. I started with lead generation as it is becoming very topical in sales and marketing leadership, there are some terrific tools to help us yet it is still very poorly done in 99% of companies. Much of the waste in sales and marketing we find starts here.

The Dream Manager. Matthew Kelly.

The Dream Manager. Matthew Kelly.2007.ISBN 9781401303709. A business fable along the lines of Lencioni’s. Continuing along my present theme of suggestions for our present and looming huge HR problem in tech, this book is refreshing and insightful while being “short” and easy to read. Taken as part of a pair with the recent book I reviewed by Cam Marston this gives you further tools and insights into your company and workforce. Without giving away the store, the narrator is COO of a boring services company that is having very (400%) turnover rates. The employees , managers, owner and clients arr all unhappy. Costs are rising and profits are down. These are ordinary people with tough problems. The solution and turnaround are an inspirational read. The author has been practicing this method for many years and has the proof to show that it works. I like the fable genre, it teaches while it entertains, ths lowering our learned barriers to knowledge. Great quote from Mark Twain,” Those who do not read great books are under no disadvantage over those who can not read.” Another from Kelly, ” There are no quick fixes to situations that involve real, living, breathing people.”

Motivating the “What’s In It For Me?” Workforce. Manage across the generational divide and increase profits. Cam Marston.

Motivating the “What’s In It For Me?” Workforce. Manage across the generational divide and increase profits. Cam Marston.2007. ISBN 9780470124147. This is a much needed essential book. The author is a Gen X’er who has made a career from explaining how to get the best from a multi-generational workforce. If you, like me, need to hire and inspire Gen X and Millenia workforces, then you must get this book! It will also help you understand your children! Lessons learned, you do not “suggest” how things should be done, you tell and show, with clear directions.

  1. Use clear straightforward language
  2. Don’t assume anything
  3. When an employee gets it right, celebrate!

According to some of his research the Millenia generation is on line to be a Hero generation.

What made Jack Welch Jack Welch. How ordinary people became extraordinary leaders. Stephen H. Baum & Dave Conti

What made Jack Welch Jack Welch. How ordinary people became extraordinary leaders. Stephen H. Baum with Dave Conti. 2007. ISBN 9780307337207. The author had a brilliant and precious idea, what makes these leaders leaders and not posers? In a series of interviews, and reflections on a lengthy career with Booz Allen & Hamilton. he has succeeded in putting out a noteworthy book. In our Rocket Builders practise we talk about the “school of experience” that practitioners need to have gone through to be leaders. Baum uses the term “shaping experiences“. He has listed ten of these:

  • 1.Swim in the water over your head
  • 2. Make the tough choices
  • 3. Solve the Key Puzzle.
  • 4. Parent at Work.
  • 5. Sell Something/Get Others to Buy 1n.
  • 6. Connect with Others.
  • 7. Build a Team.
  • 8. Get Good on Your Feet
  • 9. Develop Your Crap Detector.
  • 10. Look in the Mirror.

This book is useful to all ages and experience levels of business leaders, that is if you want to be one of the top 5. Posers need not apply. Good easy read, that lasts a lifetime. Lessons from those who have done it.

They Don’t Teach Corporate in College.A twenty-something’s guide to the business world. Alexandra Levit

They Don’t Teach Corporate in College.A twenty-something’s guide to the business world. Alexandra Levit. 2004. ISBN 9781564147653. This book would be perfect required reading for anyone who intends to work in a business after they leave school. For those of us much longer in the tooth than the author, we forget just how much newbies do not know about the business world. Her insights are honest, refreshing, often humorous and absolutely bang on. I can just imagine how fantastic an employee she became through this introspection. If you read it so it helps you guide new employees, or for your own growth, there is something for everyone in it. Organized, easy to read and quick.

Creating Sales Velocity. Awaken your power to attract sales effortlessly. Matthew Ferry.

Creating Sales Velocity. Awaken your power to attract sales effortlessly. Matthew Ferry. 2005. ISBN 097619290X. Sometimes you just have to blame semantics. I have my ideas about sales velocity- the act of shortening your sales cycle ( By the way we have been overly successful at this recently). The author ‘s meaning? Well its something like Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Napolean Hill and NLP all rolled into one. Its all good, but this book is short! 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches high! 139 pp. Its truly a pocketbook! A small pocket! ( My mother is saying in my memory, ” If you can’t say anything nice about something, better to say nothing at all!” ) So let me say that I learned something about the author and something about myself. But perhaps I knew myself all along.