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Monday, November 29, 2010

Shortening Your Sales Cycle


Two good things happen in a formal presentation. The salesman learns what is wanted, and the prospect learns what is available.

Especially with services, we can provide more of what the prospect wants, if only we knew what they wanted. The trick is to not get too attached to our model of what we are offering. That model is not what we offer, it is a simplified interpretation of what we have provided in the past.

If breakthroughs usually start with a customer explaining what they want, getting that information is the most important part of the meeting.

Before the meeting, you can help the prospect define what they want by publishing up-to-date information of what you are providing, and the benefits where it is working. This helps the buyers, gets you more meetings, and results in more informed discussion.

Non sellers may be worried about their intellectual property or staying ahead of the competition, but if you were leading the league, everyone would be trying to reverse engineer what you were doing. Your only safety is maintaining your pace of innovation, and the customers are a key resource for that.

Go Intensely Public – Shorten Your Sales Cycle.

Your Thoughts?

Share The Gift Of Knowledge. Please Join Sales Lab At:
Talk Your Business How to make more and better sales right away!
Tuesday, December 7th, 7:30am to 9:00, Intelligent Office, Alexandria
How to Scale Your Organization – When to Build, Borrow, or Buy
Thursday, December 9th, 7:15am to 8:30, Intelligent Office, Rockville
http://www.bit.ly/ScaleBBB

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wrestling with Sales Staleness:

A co-worker left the sales group I work with yesterday. It was time. She had no energy, commitment or eagerness for her work. Maybe she was always this way, maybe not. It did bring to my mind what most successful salespeople do every morning, they get up for the day, re-motivate and energize themselves, work toward the positives of what their day will be like.

The motivation, excitement or energy of salespeople cycles up and down over time. To a company it’s just a matter of putting that person out when they can no longer cycle back up.

This has left me to wonder… doesn’t it cost more to train and replace a once successful salesperson than to reboot or refresh that person?

Isn’t the person coming in an unknown quantity?

Is there a way to keep salespeople fresh over time?

Not every salesperson goes stale, but I have seen it time and again.

So I wonder if there are companies that recognize and have any programs that combat this negative sales occurrence. Is there such a thing as a corporate cheerleader/therapist/philosopher?

Would such a person make a company better or more profitable?

Could it work?

Anyone have any thoughts or experience?


Presentations you might find useful:
Talk Your Business How to make more and better sales right away!
Tuesday,
December 7th, 7:30am to 9:00, Intelligent Office, Alexandria
http://holidaytalkyourbusiness.eventbrite.com

How to Scale Your Organization - Build, Borrow, Buy
Thursday, December 9th, 7:15am to 8:30, Intelligent Office, Rockville
http://www.bit.ly/ScaleBBB

Subscribe for RSS Notification for Upcoming Sales Lab Events http://bit.ly/Sales_Lab_Events

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The When of Leadership

This post began as “Is Everyone a Leader?.” I quickly realized that this is truly determined though the crashing together of needed skills, desire or duty, the situation, and timing.

John Wayne typically played characters that are leaders – people follow him over the hill or turn to him for “The Plan.”

To the contrary, Leonardo DiCaprio's character Jack Dawson in Titanic rose to the occasion during the cruise. If he had taken the boat before or after the Titanic, would Dawson have made it to the First Class Deck and had a life changing effect on a rich girl?

Does the situation create the leader – even for those 'natural' or 'born' leaders? Being in the right place at the right time certainly has some weight.

I can recall a recently graduated MBA – top school, great student, head of the class – who joined my organization and spent several frustrating years casting about trying to be a leader with no success. He certainly had the training and abilities for the task, but was unsuccessful in bringing it off – during this period there was just no compelling situation which required a new leader to step forward.

On the other hand, during an early game in the 2004 ACC Basketball Tournament when the team was trailing, John Gilchrist slapped the floor and took leadership of the team – it was electric! Through his playing, encouragement of his team-mates, and creating a shared vision that the trophy was theirs, the University of Maryland basketball team won the 2004 ACC Basketball Championship. Gilchrist rose to the occasion and was clearly the leader at the tournament, but did not serve that role either before or after. Timing...the right circumstances...each member of the team playing above their best effort...all brought together under his leadership.

Leadership in an organization is 'assigned' to certain positions or titles – a team captain and  a company CEO are expected to be leaders. Often, situations develop which require a leader to address the situation or circumstance – either immediate or ongoing – and a person steps up to take the role. There is no magic pill here – the individual needs to have the traits & skills necessary to pull this off, but like Dawson (mentioned above), it just doesn't work too well if you missed the boat or took an earlier one.

The WHEN of leadership is an interesting issue – and there are many, many stories and examples of ordinary people rising to the situation at hand to become leaders.

This topic will become very rich and insightful through the sharing of such stories – PLEASE add a comment below with your favorite example of a 'made leader.'  By doing so, we may better understand the common elements and can apply this knowledge to develop potential leaders.



Presentations you might find useful:
Talk Your Business How to make more and better sales right away!
Tuesday,
December 7th, 7:30am to 9:00, Intelligent Office, Alexandria
http://holidaytalkyourbusiness.eventbrite.com

How to Scale Your Organization - Build, Borrow, Buy
Thursday, December 9th, 7:15am to 8:30, Intelligent Office, Rockville
http://www.bit.ly/ScaleBBB

Subscribe for RSS Notification for Upcoming Sales Lab Events http://bit.ly/Sales_Lab_Events

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Good Stories

Good stories are a basic unit of communication. Gets to the point in a minute or less. Good stories go beyond words to form a lasting mental picture in the listeners’ mind.

In Talk Your  Business – How to make more and better sales right away! everyone gets to develop a story that interests them, attracts the listener.

A good story sings to you, sings to to your audience.


Comments? 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gibbs Rules – Leadership by the Numbers?

Leroy Jethro Gibbs heads up the high performance field team of misfits for NCIS. How does he get extraordinary results week after week? Rules, feedback, and required growth for his staff.

Gibbs, a former Marine sniper demonstrates his personal competence and skill through results – not the least of which was shifting from a loner to a leader. His band of 'unique individuals' include: a vain DiNozzo adverse to scutt-work; McGee – a tentative agent & computer geek; Ziva - a Mossad trained assassin; Ducky with his constant stream of inane facts; and Abby - a goth gal with a big heart. That aside, each of these folks is brilliantly competent and extremely dedicated to the success of the team in getting results – catching the bad guys. And, they would do anything for Gibbs.

WHY?

Gibbs focuses on the talents and skills of the people on his team and expects the best from them at all times, regardless of personal foibles.

Gibbs has rules – he follows them and he teaches them to his staff. Short...Practical...Memorable...they are reinforced by Gibbs and by staff to each other. These rules are NOT written and posted on some wall or in a manual. They are shared as needed verbally. Gibbs says there are 51 rules and it is his job to teach them. In doing so he does not do their job for the staff nor tell them the one right way – to the contrary he presses for their view of the issue and how the team will solve it.

Gibbs puts each of his staff into challenging spots for growth and development – uncomfortable for them but shows they can do it. However, like a father running behind a child riding a two-wheel bike for the first time, Gibbs will appear and help out IF needed.

What keeps the rules alive is feedback – a slap on the back of the head as a wake up call and his acknowledgment of a job well done – WHEN IT IS – emphasize the validity of a rule.

Are the rules some kind of magic? Some secret of a world order? You decide – here's some of them:

Rule #1 Never let suspects stay together.

Rule #1 (yes there are two #1s) Never screw over your partner.

Rule #7 Always be specific when you lie.

Rule #9 Never go anywhere without a knife.

Rule #15 Always work as a team.

Rule #38 Your case, your lead.

Rule #45 Clean up the mess you make.

Rule #51 Sometimes – You're wrong.

And the unwritten rule is Family ALWAYS comes first!

Short – Sweet – To the Point... Applicable to the work they do.

Is this just a fictional account of a TV series or the chronicle of a true leader?

Do you know of a leader in an organization who is like Gibbs?


I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the many contributors to the collections of Gibbs Rules; here are several links for more details:

Comprehensive footnoted list - http://ncis.wikia.com/wiki/Leroy_Jethro_Gibbs/Rules
Annotated list - http://www.ncisfanwiki.com/page/NCIS%3A+Gibbs+Rules
List with explanatory notes - http://www.ncisfanatic.com/2010/06/gibbs-rules-ncis-the-complete-list-of-gibbs-rules.html

Other presentations you might enjoy:
Talk Your Business How to make more and better sales right away!
Tuesday,
December 7th, 7:30am to 9:00, Intelligent Office, Alexandria
http://holidaytalkyourbusiness.eventbrite.com

How to Scale Your Organization - Build, Borrow, Buy
Thursday, December 9th, 7:15am to 8:30, Intelligent Office, Rockville
http://www.bit.ly/ScaleBBB

Subscribe for RSS Notification for Upcoming Sales Lab Events http://bit.ly/Sales_Lab_Events

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why Blog?

Had another request to “ghostblog” for a CEO. It usually goes like, “Well you started us on social media, you know what we do, why don’t you write it for me?”

I’m starting to think that if someone has the ability to do the CEO blog, maybe they have the ability to be the CEO. It’s a new time, calling for new skills.

I’ve gained several advantages from blogging.

First, I have to figure out what I believe a couple of times a week. I can remember when strategic planning was a one time, off-site boondoggle, then we made annual binders that sat on the shelf. Today, strategic direction should be meaningfully altered quarterly.

What if a regular blog was your opportunity to update your strategic understanding of your situation? Certainly things are changing faster.

I find the ideas and words people put in a post subsequently show up in their conversations, become a part of their culture.

Remember listening to some “legend in his own mind” hijack a group meeting? Something about the prospect of showing up foolish in front of a hundred thousand interested stakeholders concentrates the mind.

Sure blogging is a new skill, and sure you can expect to get better at it. But it’s fast  and quickly becomes a potent channel for getting the word out

I’ve heard ABOUT the FUD, what could happen, but I haven’t seen anything other than new, better understandings of reality from bloggers. (If you go to the link, browse around to learn about ESR, one of my heroes, and CatB, his baby.)

Today is Veterans Day. The Veterans Administration is working full bore to improve service to veterans. One new, high possibility service is their new blog, VAntage Point. In spite of what COULD go wrong, they are already accomplishing for their people.

Today is Veterans Day. Head over to VAntage Point and support them with your comment. Start your blogging there. 

Thank you,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rainmaker #1 Gifts

We are providing a new offering, a ten minute “Rainmaker” idea before the monthly Capital Technology Management Hub meetings in Tysons Corner.

This Tuesday, November 9th is the next free CTMH meeting. For details and to sign up go to http://profits.eventbrite.com.

Here is the handout for Rainmaker #1.

Joining a conversation, whether a formal introduction or just sliding in, what is the best way to start? We often hear inflated claims that go nowhere, start nothing, or people mumbling or never really joining the conversation.

What works better?

What about giving a gift?

A joke, an observation, a compliment, are all individually created. You can’t come up with THE ONE KILLER LINE, but with practice you get better and the process gets easier.

This is the Information Age, and a valuable and appreciated gift is useful information. What can you offer others that they will appreciate?

We’ve noticed that a handout (short – less than a page) lasts longer and can be re-used for greater benefit.

See you Tuesday night! http://profits.eventbrite.com  

Comments?

Other presentations you might enjoy:
Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away! Wednesday, November 10th, 7:15am to 8:30, Intelligent Office, Rockville, and
How to Scale Your Organization - Build, Borrow, or Buy? Thursday, December 9th, 7:15am to 8:30, Intelligent Office, Rockville
http://www.saleslabdc.com/leadership

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rainmakers

Dov Gorman, of the Capital Technology Management Hub, has asked for an ongoing series of ten minute “Rainmaker” presentations before the monthly CTMH meetings.

We enjoy the CTMH meetings, as presenters and participants, and this is part of their continuing effort to increase the value of their meetings. CTMH was started by graduates of the George Mason University Technology Management program, and draws many participants from that group.

Capital Technology Management Hub is found on the web as a LinkedIn group. http://www.linkedin.com/groups?about=&gid=1922364&trk=anet_ug_grppro

This is an unusual opportunity and fits directly with some things we are learning from tending our blogs, specifically – the message can always be shorter, and when done right, the shorter the message, the more profound the meaning.

We are looking to define something fast and useful every month. Come along to see how it works!

Please join us this November 9th for the next free CTMH meeting. For details and to sign up go to http://profits.eventbrite.com.

What are some topics you would like to see in the ten minute drill?


Other presentations you might enjoy:
Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away! Wednesday, November 10th, 7:15am to 8:30, Intelligent Office, Rockville, and
How to Scale Your Organization - Build, Borrow, or Buy? Thursday, December 9th, 7:15am to 8:30, Intelligent Office, Rockville
http://www.saleslabdc.com/leadership

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Bright White Stripe


A guy rang my doorbell the other day – with a generic spray-bottle and a couple of brushes, he completely filled the 10-minutes we spent together with talk, questions, and product demonstrations.

This guy was selling a liquid cleaner door-to-door.

He introduced himself, told me why he was there, and that he was selling the best cleaner in the world.

Then he pointed to my cement stoop, said it was moldy and dirty and asked me to watch this: he sprayed the liquid and used his wire brush to scrub down to a stripe of clean white cement. He kept up a constant stream of talk about the benefits and results of using this cleaner and showed proof on that stoop.

He took me down to the car, asking what was the most difficult thing to clean on the car (wheels). So he squirted his stuff on the wheel and made the spot shine. Then he did a section of the window, the bricks on the wall, and even a portion of the sole on my sneakers. All bright and clean.

When asked about why the cleaner worked so well, he answered by giving a brochure with details about what is in the cleaner while he kept talking about the benefits and results that I was seeing.

He opened his order-book and quoted the price ($48 per quart) and said it is concentrated - makes gallons, and pointed out several order forms from neighbors in the community.

This guy knew his product. He spoke only about benefits and demonstrated results – all from the viewpoint me getting something cleaned. He provided 'evidence' that others had purchased from him and that he would immediately provide the product right on the spot. When we were done, he thanked me and was gone. But I have reminders of the visit with several little clean areas – like the bright white stripe.

He never once claimed he had some Sales Award, or about the history and accomplishments of the firm, or about the thousands of bottles of stuff he has sold, or that he was only one sale away from getting a trip to somewhere.

The number of door-to-door sales has been increasing lately – an old fashioned means of making sales, which - although labor intensive - can be effective even today.

What if sales conversations were based on the principles that this cleaner guy executed so naturally? Does your customer have a need? Do you have a solution? Can you communicate the benefit and results FOR THE CUSTOMER from your solution without a bunch of other noise?



Please join us for:
Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away! Wednesday, November 10th, 7:15am to 8:30, Intelligent Office, Rockville, and
How to Scale Your Organization - Build, Borrow, or Buy? Thursday, December 9th, 7:15am to 8:30, Intelligent Office, Rockville
http://www.saleslabdc.com/leadership

Go Direct

We are developing a new sales process. My client has a desire to attract a potent source of referrals. The more we talked, the more I realized that aiming for referrals would probably make the campaign maybe one tenth as effective, friction while going from Point A to Point B to Point C. We hadn’t figured how to attract referrers or buyers yet.

As long as we are starting from scratch, why not figure out what we would say to the ultimate buyers? After we know that, we can figure out how to meet with those ultimate buyers.

When I build a presentation to interest the actual buyers, referral sources (when I see them) understand the same message.

It’s usually just as hard to meet with a referrer as it is to meet with the final buyer. Why not go direct?

Please join us for:
Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away! Wednesday, November 10th, 7:15am to 8:30, Intelligent Office, Rockville, and
How to Scale Your Organization - Build, Borrow, or Buy? Thursday, December 9th, 7:15am to 8:30, Intelligent Office, Rockville
http://www.saleslabdc.com/leadership