Posts Tagged ‘Sales and Marketing’

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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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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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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Don’t just Invent. Innovate.

by Robert Driscoll on July 26, 2010

There are many misconceptions about what inventions and innovations are in the marketplace, but they are two very different things.  You can invent something and not do anything with it.  Think of Bell Labs which has hundreds of thousands of patented inventions.  Many of these inventions are just simply ideas and only some were great enough to be innovative where it changed the marketplace.  Or think about Leonardo da Vinci.  A great inventor who was ahead of his time, but many of his inventions simply were not practical during his lifetime.  Now look at Thomas Edison.  While he might have failed hundreds of times trying to invent the light bulb, when he perfected his invention and introduced it in to the marketplace, he created an industry.  He was an innovator.

  • Innovation isn’t about being new to the marketplace.  Look at the iPod from Apple.  It wasn’t the first MP3 player in the marketplace.  They just did it right and made it simple.
  • Innovation isn’t about technology.  Look at Starbucks.  They’ve created a business model around selling coffee in a comfortable environment and charging a premium.  They weren’t the first ones to sell coffee. They just created an environment that people wanted from a coffee shop and marketed in right.
  • Innovation isn’t about doing it better.  Sometimes you just need to make your product simpler and more affordable.  Look at Windows from Microsoft.  They opened up a new marketplace where people could afford it and gain access to it easier.  They don’t have the best operating system in the marketplace, they just made it easier to use and made it affordable.
  • Innovation doesn’t always come out of big research and development budgets.  There might be some initial research and development, but you don’t have to go broke in the process.  Look at Red Bull.  They tapped in to the youth culture in clubs and created their own viral grass roots marketing campaign and turned it in to a multi-billion dollar empire.
  • Innovation doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  You don’t have to spend a lot when you’re innovating.  You can do it very inexpensively and create a new marketplace with low overhead.  Ebay, for example, was profitable from almost day one and found a way to connect with the marketplace immediately.  Its first year revenues were modest, but it took the earning from its initial years of operation and invested it in to research and development to grow the service.

What do all of these have in common?  They’re obviously innovative products and services, but they all made an impact.  They all did something that was different in the marketplace that connected with its users.

Sometimes creating that next big thing is just simply doing it better than your competition or making it simpler.  Ideas are all around us.  Now innovate.

robert_driscoll_color This article was contributed by Robert Driscoll, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Robert on Twitter at rsdriscoll.
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Week In Review – Jul 18 – Jul 24, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on July 25, 2010

Your readiness for managing your supplier after the negotiation

by Brian Superczynski, Jul 19, 2010

Organizational needs are routinely satisfied by external vendors. Letting the vendors manage the relationship will be like the tail wagging the dog. It will lead to serious issues not limited to mushrooming cost. Vendor management includes the negotiation process before the contact is signed, having an organizational structure to manage vendors and having an mature process to monitor the lifecycle of your agreements. more…

Character and Personality #3: Orientation and Energy

by Gary Monti, Jul 20, 2010

Two major components that go into determining one’s temperament are Orientation and Energy. Orientation refers to how we prefer to interface with the outside world. The two approaches are Judging (don’t confuse with Judgmental) and Perceiving. Two possibilities for gaining energy are Extroverts and Introverts. A person can have a combination of these traits and of course these are not the only once – there is a whole slew of these. Understanding these traits will help you manage people and teams better. more…

Social Media and Tribes # 6: Changing the world is addictive

by Deepika Bajaj, Jul 21, 2010

A tribe is constituted of people who care about a specific topic or interest or looking to bring a specific change. Tribes are needed to change the world and social media has created tremendous opportunity to create and lead tribes. Read this article to understand how to gain advantage using social media and not get simply distraught by its demands. more…

Flexible Focus #11: The Principle of comprehensiveness

by William Reed, Jul 22, 2010

In this article you will find an optical illusion. As you increase your field of vision, you will be able to see more white dots. The message here is, you need the ability to see the big picture, the details and the relationships all at the same time. Mandala Chart can help us regain our bearings by seeing our business comprehensively. This will enable us see the opportunities that are never obvious, because the exist in the spaces between. more…

Author’s Journey #31: Managing and Marketing information products

by Roger Parker, Jul 23, 2010

Information products are an author’s best friend; they offer far more profit potential than authors can earn from book sales alone. Last week, Roger’s post explored the 3 main issues involved in creating profitable information products: copyright, format, and topic. This week’s post takes a look at creating a process to produce, market, and schedule information products. more….

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Triple Constraint Sales

by Guy Ralfe on May 12, 2010

We had the opportunity to present our business offer to a potential client, whilst it was one client there were 8 delegates attending the meeting and each of those delegates represented an opportunity for future business.

I am a subscriber to the thinking that all employees are in sales; however as a project manager I never used to think of my role as having to conduct sales, yet reflecting back on it a very high proportion of the project management role was balancing the commercial interests of the company with the needs and desires of the customer.

As a project manager you constantly hear the mantra of the triple constraint being mentioned. For those of you not in the know it stipulates that for a successful project the Scope, Cost, Time(Resources) and Quality  (yes four not three axes) have to remain in balance. Any change to one of these axes will result in an impact to one or all of the others.

Since our offer is about sub contracted services it was not hard to think in terms of project management, and I then thought about how the triple constraint also applies to an effective and enticing sales pitch as basically every sale is a project.

Taking each of the axes and assessing them from a sales perspective:

  • Scope – the products and services you offer
  • Cost – the competitive advantage of your products, marginal utility and value to the buyer
  • Time/Resources – structure of your organization and its ability to fulfill on your commitments and obligations, ability to adapt and handle changes
  • Quality – what are your past accomplishments, how have you ensured that the quality will remain when taking on a new sale, your organizational structure, your organizational philosophies and practices?

Just like in a project you have to carefully balance these axes, it is vital that you do the same in managing your business. Customers are looking for good partners all the time, if you can demonstrate through your pitch that you are able to manage and deliver on these axes it provides a very compelling case for any prospect to engage with you.

You may have a superb product but if you have a poor supply chain and are prohibitively expensive you no longer have a balanced offer and you immediately become average.

Remember at all times though that you are presenting for the customers concerns, and in the marketplace average and mediocre are in abundance – there these four axes are not balanced. Just by performing these four key areas well with demonstrated success you will be differentiating your business and make any sales pitch enticing.

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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Are You A Partner or Opponent In The Marketplace?

by Robert Driscoll on December 31, 2009

85925361_partnerHow we use words in our day-to-day life, both in our personal and professional world, are very important.  Through language, we use words to convey our thoughts and feelings.  As we communicate with others, we need to be cognizant of how others are interpreting our words to ensure our message comes across the way we intended it to and get the reaction we want.  “Partner” and “opponent” are words that can used to describe the relationship between two individuals or companies in the marketplace, but their meanings are very different.

When most of us think of the word “opponent”, we think of our competitors or rivals in the marketplace.  We think about victory and defeat or winning and losing.  In the marketplace we are constantly trying to “beat up” our opponents.  “Aggressive” is the key word here.  Very few people can handle a tough marketplace and become successful.  The strong take advantage of the weak and the majority will quit never quite realizing what they could have made of themselves or their company.

For many in today’s marketplace, the attitude is, “Only the strong survive.”  Too often though we forget to ask ourselves if the goal is really to survive or is it to grow and use the knowledge you’ve gained to evolve?  With an adversarial attitude, the only thing that grows is yours and your competitor’s ego.  You could say that a person who has a “take no enemies” approach to business and has “accomplished” a lot, when in reality they might be over-stressed and are sadly unfulfilled as they are never satisfied and want to “conquer” the next task.  Succumbing to this opponent attitude is futile as your struggle is always with yourself.

Now, think of the difference in both your personal and professional life if you shifted from an opponent or adversarial role to a partner role.  When you do this, you stop looking at life as every man for themselves and instead you look at the skills you bring to the table along with those of your partners, whether they are your colleagues at work or other companies you work with.  The environment becomes one of increasing progress versus a mindset of kill or be killed.

A great partner learns to adapt to the environment they are in and recognizes the skill level of the other people they are working with and encourages everyone to work at their greatest potential.  Pushing and challenging your partners will be just as intense as when you were looking at the marketplace as full of opponents.  The difference though, is that instead of creating an offer by yourself, you learn to partner with others to create offers in the marketplace that have marginal value and that make you unique in the marketplace.

Changing your mindset from an opponent to a partner one can help in making you a trusted advisor to your clients as you seek to create solutions that are specific to their concerns and not developing solutions that differentiate you from the competitor who is bidding on the same contract.  A partner mindset will allow you create uncommon offers without having to think about what the competition is offering.  Addressing your clients specific concerns will make them feel like they are in a win/win situation and your clients will want to return to you again and again.

robert_driscoll_color This article was contributed by Robert Driscoll, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Robert on Twitter at rsdriscoll.
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How To Qualify Opportunities When Meeting With Your Customers

by Robert Driscoll on December 17, 2009

56503918You’ve developed your customer profiles and you’ve set up a meeting with your customer with an objective and an agenda.  So, how do you identify and qualify opportunities during the meeting?

The purpose of you meeting with your customer(s) is to indentify concerns they have, create an offer that takes care of these concerns and they accept, which in turn takes care of your concerns of meeting your sales goals for your company.  To help uncover current and future opportunities, start off with open-ended questions.  Use some of these questions to help you determine your customers willingness to work with you:

  • Tell me about your vision for the organization.
  • What are your plans to support that vision?
  • What plans have you defined for each of these goals?
  • What would you like to improve in the organization?
  • What opportunities do you see in your marketplace?
  • What process do you go through when you make decisions like this?
  • Who besides yourself will be involved in the decision-making process?

As you ask these questions, be certain to understand how every issue impacts the organization.  As you ask each question and a concern is brought up, be sure to ask one of the following open-ended questions:

  • What impact will this issue have on your organization?
  • How do you measure/define the impact?

As you start having these conversations, you can start seeing gaps that exist between where your customer(s) organization is today and where they want to be.  Listening to your customer(s) and paying attention to their background of listening will allow you to create offers that are specific to your customer(s) needs that help fill these gaps.  These conversations in turn allow you to open your space of possibilities with your customer(s) for creating new offers.

robert_driscoll_color This article was contributed by Robert Driscoll, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Robert on Twitter at rsdriscoll.
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90079650You’ve been trying to get a meeting with a client for quite some time now and now you have one.  Now what?  In my previous post (Developing Opportunities), I discussed what you need to do when trying to identify and develop opportunities before you meet with your customers.

In this post, I’ll discuss how when you secure a meeting with your customer, it’s important that you set the objective and create an agenda so that both you and your customer clearly understand what you will be covering and to ensure that you have the right audience.  Setting the objective will allow you to seize and maintain control of the process as well as help ensure you set the tone to effectively gather the desired information.

As you state your objective in your meeting with your customer, it is important to let your customer know that you are looking for ways to measurably impact their business.  You can continue this conversation by stating that you are looking for opportunities to help them increase their revenues, control their expenses, increase their productivity and/or efficiencies.  To help you uncover this, the next step is to go over the agenda for the meeting.

In your agenda, the last thing you should talk about is your company.  In creating your agenda, follow these steps:

  • It is important first to learn as much as possible about your customers’ organization.  This will help you not only understand their concerns, but help you create the best offer to meet their business needs.
  • Next, discuss the criteria they will use to determine which provider is best for their company.  Do this to ensure that you provide them with all the information they need to evaluate your offer.
  • Third, discuss the process the customer will be using to make a decision and their timeframes to ensure that you bring the desired information to your customer in a timely fashion.
  • Finally, talk about your company and the products/services you can offer them and how it can help address their concern.  During this part of the meeting, it will help you determine whether or not your company has an offer that can address your customers concern(s) and whether or not your company could possibly be a good long-term partner for your customer.

Today, more than ever, employers are asking more from their employees.  Remember this when meeting with your customers and be respectful of their time.  Stating a clear objective and having a defined agenda will help you keep your customer(s) focused, ensure that they have the right audience for your meeting and in turn, further help you identify opportunities.

robert_driscoll_color This article was contributed by Robert Driscoll, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Robert on Twitter at rsdriscoll.
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