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Archive for June, 2013

What do I know?

I was working with a stellar sales team in Canada last week.  The total years of knowledge and experience in the room was awesome!  But… 

Why is it that in business, generally, and the sales profession in particular, the more we know and the more experience we have the more we assume we know?  I mean, what do I know? 

Who knew a camel could be featured by an insurance company in a commercial for a national advertising campaign?  (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWBhP0EQ1lA )  For the record, I didn’t understand the term “hump day” until a just couple of years ago.  See what I mean – what do I know? 

So I’m working with this team of highly experienced business owners and sales professionals last week, practicing discovery skills; using a case study.  In the case study, one of the company’s goals is to increase annual revenue from $30 Million to $100 Million in 3 years. 

OK – it’s a case study for a selling skills class – but the presumptuous reaction from class participants was amazing.  “No way” was the consensus; “Gary, that’s a hope, not a goal” they insisted.  This company could not possibly grow from $30 Million to $100 Million in 3 years! 

Wow – such enthusiasm!  It reminded me of those that poke fun at the highly educated: 

What has been suspected for quite some time about young men with MBA’s – seldom right, but never in doubt. 

To be fair to our sales brethren from the north, I get the same reaction from highly skilled and knowledgeable sales professionals in my Denver classes, too.  Why do you suppose this happens?  Is it that if we have not accomplished the feat ourselves, it can’t be done?  Here’s how our favorite Unknown Sage looks at it: 

            People can be divided into three groups: 

1. Those who make things happen,

2. Those who watch things happen, and

3. Those who wonder what’s happening.                                 

Which group are you in? 

One of the aspects I enjoy the most about the sales profession is all of the things I get exposed to that I don’t know about.  I am easily awed I guess.  Take Oracle Corporation for instance.  In 1985 Oracle’s annual revenue was $26 Million; it reached $1 Billion in 1991!  Or, take Crocs; 5 years following their 2006 IPO sales exceeded $1 Billion! 

But, what do I know about technology or plastic shoes?  And am I really so smart and so experienced that I can tell which prospect will be the next Oracle or the next Crocs?  Put me in Group #3 above, please: 

            I’m living each day with awe and enthusiasm! 

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary offers us this about “awe”: 

     Synonyms; 

admiration, amazement, astonishment, wonder, wonderment 

Now we’re talking! 

And Winston Churchill offered us this about “enthusiasm”: 

Success is the ability to move from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. 

Successful prospects are willing to face the challenges of moving from failure to failure in their search for success.  And I’m willing to help them.  Of course, we have our own challenges in the sales profession when calling on prospects: 

After all; the difference between cluelessness and greatness to the outside observer is often imperceptible. 

But what do I know about a prospect’s ability to reach their goals?  I’m very content being categorized in Group #3 above.  I simply strive, enthusiastically, to make a living selling to prospects that are in Group #1. 

GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website and book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

To Dad…

Posted Jun 16 2013 by in True North with 1 Comment

Happy Father’s Day!  Aren’t fathers and grandfathers great?  The memory of my father brings a proud smile to my face (and my heart!).  If you’re lucky enough to have living fathers and grandfathers, give them a hug today, OK? 

There are many Father’s Day traditions – what’s yours?  The Westernaires White Olympics performance in Golden, CO is a tradition.  We have picnicked there many a year and enjoyed the show. (Check ‘em out at www.westernaires.org

Ten year old kids performing western-style, precision horse riding to an audience of families, fathers, grandfathers and friends.  Although these kids will be terrific riders by their senior year of high school, those riding Father’s Day will only be capable of bringing a proud smile to their Dads’ faces (and hearts!). 

The fearlessness and composure of ten year olds today amazes me!  Jumping onto a horse twice their height; grabbing a flag; and taking off one-handed to ride a precision drill – amazing!  When they’re in the saddle, they’re in charge, just like their Dads (hoping the horse doesn’t know any different, of course).  I never faced such a challenge.  Why, when I was ten, I only had to make sure I was home before the street lights came on. 

From this man’s perspective, men certainly have an entertaining view of the world, don’t we?  Take Mike Jaeger’s point: 

Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he’ll believe you.  Tell him the plate you’re handing him is very hot and he’ll have to touch it to believe it.                                 

Sound familiar?  Yep, me too. 

The older I get the more appreciative I am of the love and devotion my father gave to me and my brother.  I am also more impressed with the patience and perseverance my wife and my sons have had with me over the years – I’d say I have definitely been an “acquired taste”.  Now that my sons have children in their lives, I get to be the grandfather, yea!   Being the grandfather has responsibilities, too: 

Sometimes the only difference we can make is passing our wisdom on to someone else who will make the bigger difference.

Linda B. Gray 

My children have certainly made a bigger difference in my life.  And when they use one of my little sayings, or demonstrate a family value or tradition they acquired from my wife and me, well it brings a proud smile to my face (and my heart)!

Our children and their children will carry on the values and traditions we learned from our fathers and their fathers before them, yes?  For us Dads, this is one of life’s most satisfying accomplishments.   Makes me want to keep on keeping on – maybe bring a few more proud smiles to their faces (and hearts!) for a few more years to come. 

Who was it, Mickey Mantle?  I think he said: 

If I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself. 

Sound familiar?  Yep, me too. 

Of course, someday our little angels may turn on us; they’ll want to take away our car keys before sending “Gramps” to a nursing home.  And when that day comes we’ll think of our forefathers again: 

When I die, I want to die like my Grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep.  Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.    

                               Unknown Sage 

Brings a smile to my face (and my heart!).

GAP 

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The Approval-Process…

Do you have any external proposals or internal initiatives/ideas that are waiting for an approval?  What exactly is the process to get to an approval anyway?  Does it still involve a rubber stamp?

rubber stamp

In business, a lot has been said and a lot has been written about decision making; there seems to be less thought leadership available on the Approval-Process.

(“Thought Leadership”, now there’s a catchy phrase in vogue today, yes?  I never thought, “Thought Leadership” would make it into one of my little ditties.  What is “Thought Leadership”, anyway?  I wonder – does the Approval-Process get waylaid with random thoughts like this?  But I digress.) 

Is the approver in the Approval-Process also the “Decision-Maker”; the “Economic-Buyer”; “VITO”?  Is a decision even required to finalize an approval?  What does an approver do to make the approval, anyway?  And what do they do when they don’t approve? 

            Not to decide is to decide.

Harvey Cox 

I was speaking with an Executive at our company the other day that I interact with from time-to-time.  I had an idea that could enhance the work I do with his team.  My boss thought it was a good idea, but since it would impact another department, we wanted that department Executive’s approval before proceeding. 

I wrote a synopsis including the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed idea; emailed it to the Executive and received this response, “Sounds good at first blush; let me chew on it a bit.”  “Chew on it a bit”, does the Approval-Process simulate one’s appetite?  Maybe that’s what the approvers do – they go out to eat.  And how long is, “a bit” anyway? 

To be fair to our approvers, I’m sure they need to weigh advantages and disadvantages of approving our recommendations.  I bet they keep a close eye out for the “Department of Unintended Consequences”, too.  I was thinking about that department while at a ball game last weekend.  It started with, “Why am I paying $8.00 for a beer?”  I thought the team owners were gouging the fans with high prices (which, of course, they are). 

But by the time we reached the 7th inning and I had a group of rowdy, drunken, profanity-laced  fans a few rows in front of me, I realized that if beer were any cheaper, I’d likely be totally surrounded by rowdy, drunken, profanity-laced fans by the 2nd inning!  Yep – the Department of Unintended Consequences even exists at the ball park. 

Maybe approvers take our proposals to the “committee”: 

A decision is what people make when they can’t find anyone to serve on a committee. 

Unknown Sage 

And in the sales profession, we all face the challenges of decision by committee, true? 

We’re into the era where a committee designs airplanes.  You never do anything totally stupid; you never do anything totally bright.  You get an average, wrong answer.

Kelly Johnson 

Is that what happened to the battery design in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner? 

Well, my Executive who I turned to for an Approval-Process and who wanted to “chew on it a bit”, still hasn’t let me know whether to punt or proceed.  It’s no big deal, really; it was just a process-improvement idea.  Not every idea is a good idea; and not every good idea can be implemented.  But I’m still not sure how long, “a bit” is. 

I suspect he has decided not to make a decision, which of course, is a decision. 

GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website and book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

 

Four pillars…

I speak daily with my clients about quota-performance.  And quota-performance for most sales professionals is directly related to our Lead-Generation performance.  And Lead-Generation is what sales professionals do when we don’t receive enough leads from marketing, referrals, or even LinkedIn, true? 

Does your phone ring off the hook with incoming leads?  Mine either!  Which brings me back to my daily discussions:  How do we gain access to new prospects in the 21st century? 

Do the principles of Cold Calling from the last century (aka The Dark Ages) still apply?  Or, has the modern technology of social-mobile-tweeting-LinkedIn surpassed the message?  Here’s one opinion: 

            The media might be more powerful than the message.

Ken Krogue 

Permit me to offer an alternative opinion.  I believe there are 4 pillars to successful Sales-Prospecting: 

  • Being interesting
  • Being specific
  • Being appropriate
  • Being professionally persistent 

Have you ever listened to you?  Do you think you are very interesting?  Try it sometime – record your telephone Cold Calling script, or send your email to a friend outside of your business and ask them if you sound “interesting”. 

The media really doesn’t matter.  If we are not interesting enough, we will never get in front of our prospects.  Every time a prospect says, “I’m not interested”, what they are really saying is, “you are not interesting”.  Here’s Jim Rome’s opinion: 

            Have a take, don’t suck, or you’ll get run. 

OK, let’s say we come across as interesting.  Our prospect next wonders, “What do you want?”  Are we specific?  Or do we speak that infamous, vendor-centric language? 

We are a world-class, ERP solution provider, leveraging SaaS technology to replace client-server systems… blah, blah, blah… 

To which our prospect then responds, “I’m not interested!” 

Alternatively, do we speak a business dialect, the specificity of which is easy for our prospects to understand? 

I would like to share with you examples of how we help companies like yours increase top line revenue while simultaneously increasing profit margins. 

Next, if our business dialect resonates with our prospect, is our call-to-action appropriate?  What would you add to the above script?  Would you “go for the kill” and ask for an appointment?  Here’s a question – When was the last time you met with a stranger? 

Perhaps a more appropriate call-to-action is requesting a scheduled phone meeting; or asking permission to send an email and then a follow up call.  Going from a Cold Call straight to an appointment is often inappropriate and can stimulate the, “I’m not interested” response. 

Finally there is the pillar of Professional Persistency.  If you were trying to Cold Call a prospect, how many times would you call?  How many voice mails would you leave?  Seriously, count your attempts to reach a Director level or above over a 72 hour period.  Less than 20 attempts?  Not persistent enough.  More than 3 voice mails?  Not professional enough. 

Our prospects are so busy multi-tasking these days, Professional Persistency is often the difference between gaining access or not.  Harvey MacKay calls it: 

            DETERMINATION 

I remember when I was first starting out and asking a colleague I respected how many sales calls he would make on a prospect before giving up.  He told me, “It depends on which one of us dies first.” 

Determination, Professional Persistency, call it what you want.  Gaining access to new accounts is the key to success in the sales profession; unless your phone is ringing off the hook with incoming leads.

GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website and book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.