Archive for March, 2008

European Business Customs & Manners. Mary Murray Bosrock

European Business Customs & Manners. Mary Murray Bosrock. 2006. ISBN 0881664979. This covers 31 countries in the EU. There is a very good introductory session with tips etc. for traveller. For each country there is then brief comments on:

  • Basic background
  • Vital statistics
  • The people
  • Meeting and greeting
  • Names and titles
  • Languages
  • Conversation
  • Body language
  • Dining
  • Drinking
  • Toasting
  • Tipping
  • Manners
  • Dress
  • Gifts
    • Hostess gifts
    • Business gifts
  • Helpful hints
  • Punctuality
  • Corporate Culture
      • Structure
      • Meetings
      • Communication
      • Business cards
      • Be aware
      • Socializing
  • Especially for women
  • Holidays & Festivals

In helping clients become more familiar with new markets in the EU this has been a very useful resource. A major part of building market relations is building trust. Having a grasp of how to do business in a new country is a help toward building that trust If you are looking at the EU and lack experience this would be a useful book (I just wish more Americans read this type of book before they traveled.) I found the chapter on Spain helpful in understanding business people during my recent visit to Argentina.  She has written several books like this

Presentation Zen. Simple ideas on presentation design and delivery. Garr Reynolds

Presentation Zen. Simple ideas on presentation design and delivery. Garr Reynolds. 2008. ISBN 9780321525659. This picks up from Turfte’s “Beautiful Evidence” book and more so. If you give presentations at all you need this book. It is so far the best book on Powerpoint (Keynote) I have read. The ideas are not just talked about, you walk through how to do it with plenty of before and after pictures. A very graphical and stunning book. If you have ever felt that your audience was just not getting your message, or you understand why Steve Jobs out presents Bill Gates, or you appreciate the Guy Kawasaki style, then this is the book for you. Buy it, read and use it and do not lend it!

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Is this a trend?

marketingA client mentioned this week that at a recent US trade show, sales were off by millions of dollars. Attendees were fewer and they were skittish. This client had done well over the years with Trade Shows as his major marketing effort. What had been working for several years wrto sales is not working as well. This is not news to us, see below.

Some of the recent research Rocket Builders has been compiling indicates that
companies that did reasonably/adequately well after the dotcom meltdown are finding that their
marketing is now hurting them in the present economy. What worked for
years (I.e. sales calls, cold calls, outbound lead gen vs. lead nurturing) is not working as well or not at all. Targets are looking for innovative and advanced solutions and are not as accepting as previously. Plus technology moves on. The opportunities are out there looking for solutions that match their perception of their business needs.

We see the more successful companies now allocating 30-40% of revenue to new marketing in traditional sectors. These are guys who got away with 20% on marketing, 20% on selling for years. Just adding sales costs
does not improve their situations.

New and old clients are coming to us with this declining revenue and increased competition
story. I expect with the US $ woes (fiscal and inflation) it will only get worse for 24
months more, driving up oil and gold. (Some currency houses in Europe will not change US dollars now, sending people to the bank. How the mighty have fallen) . Let me know what you are finding out.

Remarkable Leadership. Unleashing your leadership potential one skill at a time.

Remarkable Leadership. Unleashing your leadership potential one skill at a time. 2007. ISBN 9780787996192. This is a handbook for improving your leadership skills. Each chapter starts with a self assessment on skill level and then it carefully lays out what you can do to improve. He gives tips, tactics and techniques to implement and measure how you are doing in each area. It is a valuable book, but I had a tough time completing it. What was missing for me was a method to engage me personally/emotionally in the book. I was taken by his comment on Q/As after a presentation. He suggests that the Q/A is never the thing you end on. You invite Q/As throughout and just before the end. But, after the Q/A you must wrap up and summarize the talk yourself in order to best present and control the key messages and call to action. If questions do continue, answer and then do a condensed close again. Borrow this one from the library.

Princess Cruises is in trouble- a recap of preventable problems

Star Princess is a troubled boat. An open letter/multiple blog posting to the CEO of Princess Linesmistake

Travel arrangements:
From start to finish disorganization around travel arrangements is normal. Princess’s inability to arrange airline assignments continues and was validated by the serious cruisers on board. Evidently they just don’t care about things such as spouses sitting together on lengthy flights despite the arrangements being booked 3-5 months ahead and paid for well in advance.

Embarkation continues to be a major challenge. As an example, in 30 deg plus, high humidity weather, platinum and elite passengers are forced to wait hours while staff fruitlessly search for boarding cards and other assorted documentation on the Buenos Aires dock. Disembarkation is another nightmare albeit a “gong show” in trying to get passengers to the airport. When queried, on board staff say it’s all to do with being in a South American port and decry any control over the situation, yet other cruise lines out of Buenos Aires seem to handle the situation very well.

Novo Virus:
We found out while we were on the ship that the previous cruise had severe problems with novo virus. Despite our best efforts to protect ourselves we and numerous experienced cruisers contracted the dreaded virus. The virus weakened many peoples’ resistance so that when they recovered, they fairly quickly contracted a severe cold/flu that was running rampant throughout the boat. The flu spared no one, entertainers and staff alike.

The boat doesn’t appear to be properly cleaned. Other passengers complained of boarding the boat and finding dirty sheets on their bed. Certainly we saw that as we were disembarking, despite the tremendous amount of illness that had been on the boat, no methods were being employed differently to ensure it was clean enough for passengers arriving that very afternoon for the next voyage.

Due Diligence
Passengers sign a document prior to boarding that they have not been ill for two days. Yet we met people from the UK who boarded the boat while they were sick and had been so for 2 weeks. There is no effort made to ensure that people boarding the boat are healthy which just exacerbates the problems that this boat was having. One would expect extra efforts which were non evident.

The smoking arrangements on this ship are obviously not well thought through. For example, in all the areas where there is dancing, the smoking area is right beside it even though there is lots of room to move smoking well away from the dance floor. The ventilation arrangements appear sporadic in these smoking areas as well. This is evidently a corporate policy.

We were astonished to find that even though the ship was embarking from Buenos Aires all food was sourced from LA. Argentina is famous for the world’s best organic beef, pork and lamb and yet we had no chance of enjoying it. There was no abilityl for the menus to reflect the local cuisine. For example, there was no Argentinian wines on board. This is evidently a corporate policy. We were lucky that a new Exec Chef came on board when we did and we did notice that after about three days the food taste etc dramatically improved from mediocre to good.

The staff on board overall are extremely helpful, friendly and very service oriented. It seems in these situations their hands are tied by corporate policies. These policies must be reflecting a continuing shrinking of resources and penny-pinching attitude from head office.

This experience has certainly soured us at looking at any other Princess offerings. The preventable problems of this cruise was a source of major disappointment. Thank goodness I sold my stock in this company.

Antarctica was a fantastic experience.

Sales wants more opportunities to close, not more leads.

Sales wants more opportunities to close, not more leads.Hod to be wrong on so many levels
We have data that shows some of the most “successful” lead generation campaigns,resulted in fewer sales and reduced revenues. Hard to believe but true.

We have experienced in our younger days what a really successful marketing campaign coupled to a buggy not ready for prime time product can do to a company. Death comes, painfully and it comes in a huge onslaught . We are not talking about that today.

What I am describing is what can happen when your CE/COO/VP Sales has a brain fart and decides that to make the targets that he/she just pulled out the air, the sales force just needs more leads. The math seems simple to Mr Brilliant, to increase sales 20% to hit that “strretch” number, go out and generate 20% more leads. Ah heck lets go for 30% more, I am paying the sales guys way to much anyway. Might as well reset their targets to boot (Shades of Glengarry Glenross , Alex Baldwin is such a “model” motivator)
I have seen it happen time after time. The lead gen group goes into high gear with the extra money they have been given and they do a crackerjack job. Leads are over 40% on a month to month basis. They are throwing so many leads over the wall to sales, folks are ordering in extra baskets. The money is just pouring out the door for campaigns.

Sales is really busy, but in a strange stressed out way. The sales bell over time is ringing less and less. As the quarterly reports come in Mr. Brilliant is more and more concerned . Lead are up, sales activity is up, costs are up all around, but sales profits are actually declining quarter over quarter. By year end , they do not do as well as the previous year in fact they often do much much worse.

So what gives? Really simple. If you just add more raw leads to the sales force, you end up taking away time from the sales team to work on leads that are already or are becoming sales ready. Sales spends too much time qualifying the new “suspects” that the real opportunities do not get closed, and those that do are oftne rushed for a lower margin sale. Oh yah and just “adding” more sales people to that situation really helps – to increase costs.

Sales and marketing is a system that must work together in a designed process. The brilliant instigator was looking at spreadsheet numbers not the buyers’ processes. Sale ready leads are grown over time, not forced out by a clever marketing campaign. You can only know this if you monitor buyer behavior, requests and cycles over time. Yes buyers may not ask for the same things in the same order, but you can expect a need at some time for:

  • Time to qualify them,
  • They will want proof materials that you have solved this for others in their industry like them
  • You will need to spend time learning about their business and how they buy and who buys
  • How your solution best fits their situation
  • When and who needs a demo? pilot, trial?
  • Time lines and expected outcomes,
  • Answers to the financial and legal depts.?

None of this goes away. So once again , an individual finds a simple solution to a complex problem – And it is wrong.

Wrong on so many levels. A misuse of the marketing department who should be researching the market , finding and and nurturing suspects into sale ready leads. A misuse of the sales team, what a way to demoralize a group -= overwork them, miss their targets and lose bonus. A misuse of company funds, lost profits and likely a big setback in the market. Plus you may have really messed with the market messages to drive those leads, so you have to spend more money to get back to where you were. Mr. Brilliant would have helped more by staying in the clubhouse. but hey I’m just a sales guy what do I know. That’s 30.

It Only Takes 1% to have a competitive edge in sales. Thomas A.Freese.

It Only Takes 1% to have a competitive edge in sales. Thomas A.Freese. ISBN1891892118.

No 2 of Freese´ series of sales books. This one uses an interesting style of having 100 short chapters , each on a separate point . A very useful book, that builds on the first – Question Based Selling. I believe for todayś selling environment; serious sales people must read his books. He gets so much right immediately that one becomes so much better as a salesman so quickly. He offers useful approaches to everyday issues in selling. These range from major corporate through to being a start-up salesperson. How to deal with pricing, aggressive competitors, inside coaches and anti-coaches. There is so much value in here I wish he had written it earlier so I would have made even more sales.

Hermanisms. Axioms for business & life. John L. Herman Jr.

Hermanisms. Axioms for business & life. John L. Herman Jr. 2007. ISBN9780979020414.

John L. Herman Jr. Is a failure expert who after building serveral businesses, he started one that capitalized the assets of failed businesses. This book is 77 examples of lessons learned during his life time. Eg. Do you know your real margins? Or, cost of goods is the most misunderstood part of business. He talks about how to know when to fold vs hold. A very valuable book, with proven insights. Would that I had found this book to give to clients years ago. On sales , if your client wants vanilla, do not try to sell chocolate. On reading, most leaders are readers. Buy this , read it and give copies to your stars.

On Writing Well. The classic guide to writing nonfiction. William Zinsser

On Writing Well. The classic guide to writing nonfiction. William Zinsser. 2006. ISBN9780050891541. On day 1 of my first university English Class, I met a book called The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White. A slim volume, first published in 1917 it has prevented me from making many serious grammar and style errors. Zinsser first wrote his book in ´76, just after I stopped taking English classes. This is a book I wish I had met sooner. It is superb. He covers many different styles of non fiction including travel, memoirs, sport and family history. His major lessons for me was how to find your own voice and that the writing is for yourself, no other.

PeopleSavvy For Sales Professionals. Lead the field. Four secrets for getting inside your prospectś head and heart and getting customers for life. Gregory Stebbins

PeopleSavvy For Sales Professionals. Lead the field. Four secrets for getting inside your prospectś head and heart and getting customers for life. Gregory Stebbins. 2007. ISBN 9781887152105.

This is one volume that brings together many approaches to what I call social selling styles. If my readers agree that we now must teach and train our own sales teams, then this is an excellant background, base skills book for that task. If you have already implemented question based selling approaches in learning how your customers buy, this book will give you more skills to blend in. Clearly written, with a logical style, this is a useful book, but his secrets have not been secret for a long time.