Posts in ‘Sales and Marketing’

Before I talk you into shelling out $1,000 for this e-book (just kidding – it is Free to download!), a little bit on what this book is about:

  • Creative Success and
  • More Freedom, Money and Time for you.

Being Creative

Are you a creative person? Well, before you answer that question, it stands to reason we first define what being a “creative person” means. In the author’s (Mark McGuinness) own words:

“By creative people, I mean people who take creative approach to work and life. People who work hard, but because they love what they do, it doesn’t feel like work.

They may be artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, coaches, scientists, cooks, entrepreneurs, healthcare professionals – or tackling complex, meaningful, inspiring challenges in other fields.

If this sounds like you, read on.

Why do creative people need Freedom, Money and time?

Creative people need three things to be happy.

  1. Freedom – to do what you want, when you want and how you want it. Not just in holidays and spare time – but also doing meaningful work, in your own way.
  2. Money – to maintain your independence and fund your creative projects. Of course you want a nice place to live, but you’re not so worried about a bigger car than the guy next door. You’d rather spend money on experiences than status symbols.
  3. Time – to spend as you please, exploring the world and allowing your mind to wander in search of new ideas.

Usually, you’re lucky if you get two out of the three. But if one of them is missing, it compromises the other two.

Without money, you don’t have much freedom, because you have to spend your time chasing cash.

Without time off, money doesn’t buy you a lot of freedom.

And if you’re doing something you hate for a living, it doesn’t matter how big your salary is, or how much holiday you get. You still feel trapped.

Surely there must be a more creative solution?

If this still sounds like you and you’d like a little more freedom, money and time in your life, read on.

What I got from this book?

In one word, Plenty! Here’s a list of the top 10 things I learned:

  1. Am I creative?: Creativity is not just a fancy label that only artists with long hair and thoughtful expressions carry – even though you might think you are not creative (or not creative enough), after reading the book, you might change your mind.
  2. It’s about Quality of Life: I want Freedom, Money and Time. Why? Simply to improve my quality of life.
  3. Don’t Compromise: It is OK to be Unreasonable about having all three – Freedom, Money and Time. Just one or two out of the three will just not do!
  4. Being skillful does not guarantee you money – Yes, you need to be skillful to make money, but, as Mark found out in his 2nd business, it’s not guaranteed.
  5. Your first love and the Market: In Mark’s own words – “Your market may be next door to your first love”. With poetry being his true love, he found “market-love” when he looked next door!
  6. Sharing adds; not subtracts: In today’s “knowledge based” marketplace, the more you share, the more you increase your chances of success. Why? Because it depicts your knowledge and people trust knowledge sources.
  7. Sales without Marketing is like surgery without an anesthetic:  Mark’s suggestion. Don’t try either. It’s way too painful.
  8. Your biggest enemy. Is sometimes (ok, most of the times), Ready?… YOU! Let go of your prejudices that limit your capacity. These usually start with thoughts like “I don’t think I can do that” OR thoughts that contain sentences that have the words “never” or “always”, in them.
  9. The wrong business model can crush you. Yeah, I know you knew this already. But, it’s these simple things that we neglect and overlook… until it’s too late. Mark shares his story about how this one got him!
  10. Never Give Up! – Well, before you take this too literally and rush to make some 2011 resolutions (you’re 17 days late!), there are some things that you should give up (like smoking?) … and then there are some that you should Never give up. I am talking about the latter – like pursuing your dreams. Persistence does pay! Keep creating and innovating!

About the e-Book

A few quick points about the e-book:

  • It’s FREE!
  • It’s a light read – 34 pages in all.
  • Describes Mark’s unconventional career journey, as a poet and creative coach, and the lessons he’s learned the hard way about finding the right combination of freedom, money and time.
  • It’s full of practical advice you can apply to your own situation, if you want to earn a living from your creative talent, or if you’re a freelancer or small business owner and want to make your business less stressful and more profitable.
  • Mark and his partners have also prepared an in-depth training program to accompany the e-book, and I’m pleased to be an affiliate partner for the launch. But the e-book itself is free to download, with no need to even give your email address.

Get your copy of Freedom, Money, Time and the Key to Creative Success by clicking here OR by going directly to the download page.

Also, please feel free to share the e-book with anyone who you think would find it helpful.

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
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Week In Review : Jan 9 – Jan 15, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on January 16, 2011

Project Leadership #4: Trust is bidirectional

by Himanshu Jhamb, Jan 10, 2011

Trust is a key ingredient for a project’s success. Establishing bidirectional trust with the stakeholders – Client, Management and Team, lowers the cost of transaction and improves the quality of your projects. This happens only if you care for the stakeholders – all of them. Project that operate in this mode will flow smoothly and be phenomenally more successful! more…

Project Reality Check #4: Know the Business, Gain Power

by Gary Monti, Jan 11, 2011

Project managers (PMs) have to deliver; yet power to get the job done can be elusive. But PMs can take care of themselves and the team knowing they are lower on the food chain and get some power. How? By understanding and communicating in the language used by those with more strategic positions and power. This language also needs to provide a portal through which the PMs can express project concerns. The language is risk management.  more…

Social Media and Tribes #26: Social Media in 2011. Are you still in the GAME?

by Deepika Bajaj, Jan 12, 2011

By the end of 2010 the concept of social media became part of our lives because there was a need for an “Online Conversation” – to talk, listen and engage with your influencers. “SO WHAT? WHAT NEXT?”. You may have just scratched the surface of social media…new challenges and new opportunities are in the horizon. The bars are being raised and the learning curve is steep….What matters is Are You Fatigued or Are you Adapting? more…

Flexible Focus #36: Charting New Territory

by William Reed, January 13, 2011

It is time again to look back and gain some perspective on where we have been in the last eight weeks. Revisiting these articles will help you re-explore the territories where we have been, and see also how they fit together. And also reflects the amazing range of topics possible to address with the Mandala Chart. more…

Leader driven Harmony #7: Failure is required (Part II)

by Mack Mckinney, Jan 14, 2011

In the previous post Mack discussed the danger of not experiencing enough failure in life and how well-meaning people who shelter us from failure can rob us of the mental toughness that we need to get through life. Now a days, people who have tried and failed are much more attractive to most employers than people who have led sheltered lives, protected from failure, with teachers and parents hovering over them and protecting their increasingly brittle self-images. So, push yourself hard enough that you sometimes screw-up. more…

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Week In Review : Nov 28 – Dec 4, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on December 5, 2010

Social Media and Tribes #22: Pink and Grow Rich – My thanksgiving gift!

by Deepika Bajaj, Nov 29, 2010

Deepika has released her e-book “PINK and Grow RICH“. If you believe you have to characteristics of a leader or you see yourself as a person who has one reason for not being who you could be, this is a must read for you. more…

Chaos and Complexity #12: Terrorism

by Gary Monti, Nov 30, 2010

Terrorism thumbs its nose at best-practice, top-down approaches. And terrorists are good at it. They create large force multipliers extending beyond the battlefield. They are always looking for tipping points.Terrorists work to make things chaotic (if not random) and committed security team members work to build the bonds needed to trap the terrorist and keep things safe. That is complex behavior. At times the best that security teams can do is reduce the chaos to complexity. This means trade-offs are inevitable. more…

Getting off on the right foot with a neutral business valuation specialist

by Steve Popell, Dec 2, 2010

Collaborative divorce is a splendid out-of-court process that can assist the spouses to communicate more effectively and to negotiate more productively.  If the parties make the necessary commitment to the process, they have a much better chance to maintain human decency, protect their children, and to help the entire family to get on the other side of the divorce decree in one piece. more…

Flexible Focus #30: The 8 frames of life: Home

by William Reed, Dec 2, 2010

Home is the 4th in the 8 Frames of Life of the Mandala Chart. Yet, broken homes, dysfunctional families, domestic violence, and broken hearts are pandemic in our society, an outward reflection of an inner conflict. The Mandala Chart is a comprehensive compass for life, and provides helpful perspectives on themes surrounding our Home. more…

Leader driven harmony #1: Communication by Handshake

by Mack McKinney, Dec 3, 2010

This Series is about life and business and the first topic should be of interest to anyone doing business anywhere –the business handshake. A predictable, firm handshake is an important tool in business, in fact, in life, in general.  A handshake is over in a few seconds yet it helps us reach a number of conclusions about the other person. more…

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Should you satisfy your customers?

by Vijay Peduru on November 24, 2010

Almost every business book talks about satisfying the customer.  Every business guru touts this.  But no one seems to be asking the question – If we satisfy the customer, how will he keep coming back? He may be satisfied at that moment and you are happy that he is ecstatic about your service and it ends there.

Satisfied Customer – A Problem?

Everyone knows that it is easier to have recurring revenue (an existing customer) than generate a new revenue stream (from a new customer). The question though is – How do we handle this if the customer is already satisfied? One might wonder why this is a problem. Think about it – A customer who is satisfied over a long period of time slowly loses the value of what s/he is getting as it starts appearing like anyone can do it – in other words, the bar that you set becomes the standard and hence, the value erodes.

Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction Cycle

Great marketers have known this for a long time. Just like in a good movie, the director cycles through a satisfaction/dissatisfaction cycle working with our emotions – one needs to take the customer through cycles of satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the product and/or service. And yes, the honesty of this post makes it edgy!

Humans naturally crave for new and scarce things.  If we look at Apple, they release a new product with some features which  are not so great… like the  camera in iPhone 3G. People are a little dissatisfied with these features and start to talk about these and eagerly await for improved features.  When apple release a newer product, they surpass the expectations like the camera in iPhone 4G.  Lot of iPhone 3G users will naturally buy the new iPhone 4G.

The cycle continues…

Listen to the Customer

Sometimes, when we release new models or new software, the customer is already satisfied with the product and does not want the new product. Lots of sales people work on convincing the customer by telling them the new features. They somehow want to convince the customer to buy the product. Instead, they should sit and listen to the customer and should discover  pain points for the customer. Most of the times the customer does not see it as a pain, but if you can see it and show him how bad it is (make him dissatisfied) and then show him how the new product will alleviate this pain – he is most likely to buy it.  The key is to know… that the customer is sometimes blind to the pain and we have to bring it forth for him. In the case of IPhone 3G, a lot of people are satisfied with the camera, but when they see other people telling how bad it is compared to the iPhone 4G, they realize that what they have is not good enough and want to get the new iPhone 4G!

Vijay Peduru is an entrepreneur in the bay area and is the co-founder of a bootstrapped startup. His interests are bootstrapping, leadership and spirituality.
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Week In Review: Oct 3 – Oct 9, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on October 10, 2010

Project Leadership #1: 7 Ways to have a kickass kickoff!

by Himanshu Jhamb, Oct 4, 2010

A project manager’s real purpose is to provide CLARITY to a project. That happens when all the stakeholders are on sync regarding the purpose and outcome of the project. Project kickoff is a golden opportunity to provide this CLARITY to the team. If you follow Himanshu’s tips in this article, you can make your project kickoff purposeful and it will lay the foundation for a successful project. more…

Chaos and Complexity #4: Push on or Regroup?

by Gary Monti, Oct 5, 2010

A hallmark of a complex situation is unpredictability. One doesn’t know where things are leading. That’s why the situation is “complex” or worse yet “chaotic”. A good project manager (PM) should enable the team to identify possible solutions that will help eliminate the complexity. That’s just the first step. Coming up with the right schedule, dealing with the politics, etc can put the project at risk. Ideally the PM should avoid these situations by staying with reality. more…

Social Media and Tribes #25: A tribe of foodies – Connecting food to life

by Deepika Bajaj, Oct 6, 2010

Still in India, Deepika has been exploring the various tribes. Food is an integral part of the culture, but the tribe works differently. Food is not a standalone interest, but it is tied with other local flavors like Bollywood and roadside stalls. more…

Flexible Focus #22: New degrees of freedom with a digital mandala chart

by William Reed, Oct 7, 2010

Owning a car does not preclude you from using your feet. Similarly, you can print out a Mandala Chart and use it. Or, you can access an online program to create, save and share them. http://www.mandalachart.net is an eMandala Chart website that you can leverage. more…

Alternate Sales Partnerships #4: Ways to keep a healthy sales relationship (Part-2)

by Tina Burke, Oct 8, 2010

When the head of Sales in an organization changes, there will be radical changes. The new person will shake things up. This may lead to loss of revenue for agents. So, it’s very important to have good contracts and have them reviewed by attorneys. It may not be cheap, but in the long run it will help save tens of thousands of dollars. more…

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Now there comes a point in time in every agents life, when a New Sales VP at your favorite Service Provider comes in and takes over your old Sales VP’s job. That’s a pivotal point in time in every sales agents life. The new guy is going to really want to kick the old guys ass. Make a big splash, improve some numbers quickly and leave no remnant of the last guys program.

Robert Duller’s power point flashed on the screen and you could hear the glasses in the room being placed back down on the banquet room cocktail tables. Eyes swung forward to the screen.

What typically happens now is the description of why the old plan or old contract was bad…and why a new contract needs to be created. In this instance, we’d received an ominous email about a month ago, quoting an obscure lawsuit filing that required a plan change so that they could be in  “compliance” going forward. At the time, we didn’t think much about it because the lawsuit was brought over price fixing on equipment, and well, we were in the services business.

“The old plan and the commission levels that were in it are too high and are therefore unsustainable going forward.”

Stake into our hearts. Our balance sheets.

“Now we want to let you guys know just how valuable that you are to us. So we’re going to take some time here and go over what will be required for the new plan going forward.”

Silence in the room. “Um..we already have a portfolio of clients here, did he just say, What will be required?

Unfortunately, yes. What ensued over the next 90 minutes was a complete dismantling of the old plan as we knew it.

Our commission payout percentages, client upgrades and getting paid on contract renewals. All gone in the first few slides. We had a multi million dollar portfolio of clients that we’d built over the past 4 years that didn’t seem to mean anything.  Commission percentages alone were dropping 75%. We had to qualify with hitting a number of deals as well as higher revenue commitments. We were stunned…

We also had a contract that had about 12 more months in it.

Now Robert was not the most popular guy in the room – or for many months after, but this happens all the time in Sales organizations. The new gal comes in and takes a look at commission checks that are going out to the partners and sees a great opportunity to take back some revenue. Its to be expected in some parts of the sales universe.

All the more reason to have a very good contract and one that you invest in having an attorney review and modify so that your business interests are protected. That means commissions, renewals and upgrades need to be protected in your contract if you are a sales agent. Paying someone $1500.00 to $2000.00 now to review your contracts and make changes and suggestions can save you tens of thousands of dollars down the road. Keep in mind that sales leaders will change, the person you sign your contract with will move on to another position, your service provider will more than likely have in house counsel and if things get dicey down the road, you will be paying your attorney by the hour if there’s a dispute. They will not.  Invest up front.

There have been many more  trips to Texas since then  to work on our new relationship. It’s a work in progress!

tina-burke-photo.jpg Tina is currently the co-founder of Ayuda Networks in Silicon Valley, a solutions provider where the focus is on selecting datacenter providers and solutions for their clients. Tina can be followed on twitter at ayudatb
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Week In Review: Sep 26 – Oct 2, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on October 3, 2010

Doing what is Right Vs. Being the Best

by Brian Beedle, Sep 27, 2010

Is it good enough to do the right thing? Certainly not. We as individuals and companies should constantly strive to be the best in our fields. This is necessary to survive in the highly competitive times we live in. For individuals it takes patient parenting from a young age and mentoring as adults to gain this ability. Companies achieve this via Six-Sigma, ITIL, etc.  more…

Chaos and Complexity #3: Managing Expectations

by Gary Monti, Sep 28, 2010

Project managers out there… this article is for you. When a project encounters a rough spot, the project manager is held accountable. Anybody expecting projects to be smooth and trouble free is living in utopia. But there are certain things which if you do consistently, you can manage such situations gracefully. more…

Social Media and Tribes # 14: Taking Dinosaurs Online

by Deepika Bajaj, Sep 29, 2010

Deepika is not irreverent when she uses dinosaurs as an analogy for our older generation. In fact the opposite is true and it is out of fondness for them. The past few decades has seen tremendous progress in technology and it has been especially tough for the older generation to keep pace with. But still they are a hardy bunch excited to adapt with the times and open up to social media albeit slowly and cautiously. more…

Flexible Focus #21: The 8 frames of life: Finances

by William Reed, Sep 30, 2010

Peter Drucker observed that people who chased money were all utterly miserable, without exception. Money should be part of the plan, a means to an end, not an end in itself. So pick a career in something you love and have some talent in. Then understand how economics is tied to everything else. You can do it if you view it with a flexible focus perspective. William’s Mandala chart can help you do it easier and better. more…

Alternate Sales Partnerships #3: The Sales Contract

by Tina Burke, Oct 1, 2010

Direct sales teams are expensive to maintain. Alternate sales teams do not cost any money up front. But there are challenges with either one. It may be an effective strategy to employ both channels, but there are thing you need to be aware of when you choose this path. more…

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Alternate Sales Partnerships #3: The Sales Contract

by Tina Burke on October 1, 2010

Alternate Sales Channel contracts are relatively simple in concept, yet complex in execution and long term survivability.

Here’s why: Most companies already have a Direct sales team. People that they’ve hired, trained and provided benefits to and a salary. Those are hard costs that finance knows down to each sales person that they are paying a salary. Companies also know just how profitable each sales deal is, is not – or just how long it will take for a deal to become profitable. Finance takes into account:

  • Marketing – as in trade shows, lead generation or web marketing.
  • Training – any efforts like brown bags or flying people in for new hire orientations.
  • Equipment –  Laptops, Lunches, Cell Phones, CRM licensing, coffee.

The pieces are complex to produce a sale and market research has conservatively  pegged the cost to hire of a new sales person between $200,000 and $250,000. Will they be good and sell something?? Hit the quota that was designed to cover the costs of hiring them?

In addition, just about every department in a company has to provide something in order for that sales person to produce a sale. It gets expensive. We haven’t gone into soft costs of cultural fit. Will this person get along with the rest of the team, be good in front of clients, be dependable, professional and a good representative of the company?

Expensive. Risky. Yet traditional.

What to do? There’s got to be a better way.

You need to go out and find a professional sales team. A group of individuals who understand your product and service and who are already aligned with your client base or the client base that you’d like to have. Find a gun for hire to get the job done.

Cheap. Risky. Non-Traditional.

How to find the ever elusive effective, professional independent sales producing machine?

Let me assure you, they do exist. But it will require a different mindset from Executive leadership, finance and sales to have an effective relationship.

First you need to have a good product or service. Obvious, but true.  It’s going to have already been through testing and you’ll need to have some operational history under your belt. Then you’re going to need a good sales contract from finance.

Finance should be ecstatic to design one for an alternate sales channel team. Here’s why: An alternate channel sales team isn’t costing the company an upfront dime. Finance isn’t paying a per headcount salary before one sale is made. No laptops, no flying in for new hire training. (Most independent agencies will fly themselves in for training if your product or service is good enough, see operational history above.) Agencies have their own CRM software that they pay for to manage their business, their own cell phones and their own lead generation. They bring you clients and relationships that you are looking for without the hard and soft costs.

Second, you need to have a good sales contract for these organizations. Executive leadership needs to recognize that these are clients that you wouldn’t ordinarily have. The end clients are typically well qualified and already trust the sales agent. The sales cycle will be much quicker because the sales agent has already gone through the dating stage and they are making a heavy recommendation for your product or service. They are also going to be self motivated to know everything about your product or service.

Now the tricky part.

How do you pay an independent sales person to sell your product or service?

You can do that as a one – time payment that’s paid after the client has paid their first bill. Its generally understood that with one time payments, you own the client 100% going forward and that you have no more obligation to the sales agent after they’ve been paid. That can be a double edged sword when its time to renew your product or service and needs to be thought out with management.  The second alternative is to pay out a monthly residual payment. If you go this route, make sure that it’s a payment that you can maintain over the length of the contract. Its perfectly acceptable to ask the sales agents perform additional tasks in exchange for a higher commission percentage. For example, sell more deals, participate in renewals and upgrades. This way, you also incentivize  the agent to stay involved and support your client over a long horizon of time without the added cost of customer service. You also avoid the potential of that agent moving your client away to another service provider when the original term is up.

Be prepared to spice things up with your existing sales team. Adding an alternate channel sales team always causes sparks and creates competition. You can design a program that is inclusive or competitive. Inclusive would mean that if both your sales person and the agent were working on a client, then Finance would decide to pay each person. This is a little more work on Finance’s part because they have to factor in the cost of what they are paying their sales people into the deal. An Exclusive plan would essentially mean that whoever signs the deal makes the commission. As you can imagine, this requires a good rule book with a strong sheriff for the town.

Last, don’t play with people’s money.

That means a few things. Make sure that pricing for your product or service is level across all playing fields. Meaning, make sure that the direct team has the same pricing as the agent team. Hold steady. Give everyone the opportunity to make the sale.  If you do promotions, make sure that everyone has access to them to offer to prospective clients. This will make your entire sales channel strong and consistent.

On the back end, don’t ever change commission payments before the term of the contract has ended.  Pay people on time and consistently and make sure that if you hire a new head to take over your sales organization, that s/he takes care of all of the people who have done a  good job for you already.

tina-burke-photo.jpg Tina is currently the co-founder of Ayuda Networks in Silicon Valley, a solutions provider where the focus is on selecting datacenter providers and solutions for their clients. Tina can be followed on twitter at ayudatb
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This was probably the eighth or ninth time we’d flown back to Texas over the past 5 years to see these guys. This time, it was to meet with the New VP of Channel Sales who had some “exciting announcements” for all of the companies who were in their current partner program.

My business partner and I eyed one another over the rental car.

“What do you think the big announcements going to be?

“Well let’s see…I bet its going to be a new commission program, more resources…and maybe a year end contest for all of us!

“I’ll add a new portal to that list. They haven’t had one of those…to make us more efficient of course.”

“How could I have forgotten the portal?  Perhaps a new area manager as well for us, to meet with us more regularly and make us more efficient.”

We laughed over the repeated list, turned on the air conditioner in our rented Chevy and pointed our car down the I-35.

We actually like this company quite a bit because we had so many of the same great values. For example,

Procreation! They had a great product offering, and we had many clients. Together we had made many happy clients. Great Communication! Sure, we’ve fought over commissions, but we always manage to email or call about them, resolve them and then make up.

Finances! They didn’t have to pay a sales representative a salary or spend one marketing dollar for us to bring them a good, qualified highly closeable opportunity. We got a great commission percentage in exchange.

Open, honest dialog: We flew back to take product trainings on our dime and were able to bring real client feedback that they adjusted to.

Support – We had the same account manager for over three years. He was making his numbers and we were doing well together, we were efficient in bringing  and installing clients together. Everyone was doing well.  We were in a good period of time together, way past dating, and maybe four years into the partnership.

As we checked in to the hotel, we walked in with Frank from Solutionet. Frank beat us out last year for the number one partner, and we really wanted that title back. Aaron, the number three partner from DriveDebt was also there in the lobby. A good friendly competition between the three companies was in play and we all smiled and laughed at one another in greeting. “Wonder who’s gonna get numero uno this year??!! Frank was all about the joint marketing opportunities that he was able to create with these guys and Aaron was all about being able to access and utilize the partner ecosystem. It was a healthy business enablement program for everyone.

We milled into the banquet room with our drinks and watched the AV screen roll down from the ceiling. New guy in slacks and a button down strolled up to the dias. “Welcome everyone, I’m Richard Duller and I’m going to walk you through the new program. By now, you’ve already been made aware that we’re changing the program with the email that you received inviting you to the conference. Essentially, the past program was unsustainable.”

Collective “Uh-oh!

“We’re going to walk you through what the new program is going to look like going forward.”

Something told us all to buckle in, changes were ahead…

Stay tuned for part-2 of this post…

tina-burke-photo.jpg Tina is currently the co-founder of Ayuda Networks in Silicon Valley, a solutions provider where the focus is on selecting datacenter providers and solutions for their clients. Tina can be followed on twitter at ayudatb
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“I need to get your thoughts on what I’m thinking of doing!”

It was my long time colleague Gary on the phone. We’d worked together at Qwest for four years in the shoot ‘em out years of early 2000. Gary ran the sales and operations team that supported the direct sales teams for the Global Account organization for the West. We sold it… and he installed it.

“Sure, whats up?? “I’m thinking of taking a job as a Director of Sales over in the Agent channel.”

Now back in the day..announcing a career move like this would be like Sara Palin suddenly choosing to become a democrat.

“Um…”

“Before you think I’ve gone completely nuts, hear me out. I’ve been in this position for five years so far, done really well and don’t get me wrong, but I am so tired of babysitting entitled sales reps! I already have 3 kids under the age of 12 at home and these guys are so undisciplined about just the basics that its completely infuriating day in and day out. I’m over it – and I really like the company because we’ve got a great product. Slogging it out this way every day trying to get sales people to really work hard for the numbers truly sucks though.”

I started to laugh in commiseration … “Don’t laugh…can you tell me why you did it so long ago?

Well..the truth is that I had been sitting on General Manager calls every week for months listening to the sales numbers that were being posted .. and the alternate sales channel teams outsold the direct sales teams four to one, week in and week out. The CEO of the company loved it because the alternate sales channel was much more profitable – no base salaries to pay or headcount turnover.   My own direct sales organizations numbers were anemic and I could empathize with Gary’s frustration. Years ago, I had also grown weary of chasing my sales team with EKG paddles.

“Gary, I think it’s a smart move and I’ll tell you why…”

  1. Independent sales agents are highly motivated to make things happen because there’s no salary check auto-magically coming in the mailbox for them from corporate every two weeks. Agents have to own their own destiny without the safety net of a base salary.
  2. They have to hunt clients, treat their clients like they are family, absolutely find the best solution for them, sell it, install it and then take care of it long term by themselves.  That bakes in responsibility if that agent wants to survive long term. What I’ve found is that they are aggressive, they hunt for their own relationships and they are very entrepreneurial in actually helping their clients.
  3. They also take responsibility for producing their own results. Its refreshing…and quite a big behavior change. These guys truly own their own business and take a lot of pride in producing autonomy for themselves and a livelihood for their families. Its like walking out into the sunshine after you’ve been chained to a wall as far as I’m concerned. You’re also going to be the Director who brings in pure profit, and not a headcount and resource drain for the CEO.

More and more companies are moving in the direction of cultivating and growing an alternate sales channel. They get the benefit of a highly motivated sales team that they don’t have to pay a salary to and access to business that they would have been competing for…  Its good business for everyone and helps to keep the business climate healthy.

“Gary, I think it’s a great move and that you’ll truly enjoy it”.

tina-burke-photo.jpg Tina is currently the co-founder of Ayuda Networks in Silicon Valley, a solutions provider where the focus is on selecting datacenter providers and solutions for their clients. Tina can be followed on twitter at ayudatb
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