Tag Archives: executive skills

Can I just pretend I really, really care about you and send you an e-card for Christmas?

This weekend, the missus and I wrapped up our shopping for family for the holidays.  I have to say: “We were more thoughtful this year than any time previously…”

(at least I thought so)

We really thought through the whole process and I am pumped by the stack of “stuff” sitting in our kitchen that needs to be wrapped.

It’s about the relationship, right?

There are people you care about — people around whom you really want to build a history.  It kind of parallels your deal making process.

Makes sense, right?  You want to do business with people that you can stand being around.  People you like.

That’s about building a relationship.  Not seasonal email torpedoing.  But a consistent communication thread.

My inbox got me thinking……….

How special would you feel if you were sent the following e-card from someone that you spent money with this year?


I love the “We hope this communication is welcomed…”  Makes me feel like you really remember who I am.  And are you really giving me the option to unsubscribe from next year’s seasonal greetings?

You tell me.  Maybe I am being picky.

Now how about this one…  Are you feeling the love?

I now have to click on a link to go a site to see all the Christmas warmth you can’t wait to share with me… As if that isn’t enough to do, there is the obligatory signature language informing me that I could be sued for mishandling the email you are sending me.  WOW…. way too much baggage for me to do anything with.  I just have to archive it…

These both ended up in my inbox (along with a tiresome few others…) and I just didn’t have the energy to keep clicking through to link after link so I could get in the Christmas spirit.  It kind of made it all feel like a “chore”…

Like maybe our relationship wasn’t so important after all…

Know what I mean?

It gets you thinking.  What’s the logic behind this?

Who emerged from their marketing “bat-cave” with the fantabulous idea that impersonal seasonalized hyperlink creation was something that made customers feel like “you care”?

Was there a memo in the late ’90s that I missed?

Two words: CALL ME…

I know I’m a little cranky when it comes to this stuff, but doesn’t it seem a little dis-ingenuous?  Even if you give the sender the “benefit of the doubt”, you can’t overlook the general lack of creativity.  The fact remains that in the haste to have another “client touch”, the marketer forgot to put himself in the recipient position.

Here’s reality: No one really reads this stuff.

(not even your grandma who has unlimited Facebooktime)

Maybe the first one you get (right after Thanksgiving), but right around the second week in December you are left with no other choice but massive select-and-archive.  You even feel a little bad about it, but you justify if by telling yourself that if you have time, you’ll dig them out later at home to look through.

And you never do…  It’s just not a high priority.

Without a relationship, you just avoid all the rest of  the noise coming at you.

And certainly this mirrors a hunch I have had for some time now as I talk with C-level executives and ask about their behavior to inbound messaging.  I decided to test my theory.  About a week ago, I put a poll up on LinkedIn asking the following question:

“If relationships really do matter in sales, why don’t we build better ones throughout our selling process?”

Here are the overall results:

  • 40% stated that they didn’t have enough access to the right people to build a great relationship…
  • 10% noted that they tried to build good relationships but didn’t know how to keep it up
  • 20% thought that it wasn’t really a good use of their time…  AND
  • 30% admitted they weren’t really sure how to build great relationships…

When you study this further, you see that ALL of the CEO’s who responded to this question answered the same — that they had not developed this skill of long term relationship building.

Are you surprised?  You might have thought that senior level executives had “schmoozing” all figured out.  Maybe not.  Maybe there’s more to that cocktail parties and fast one-liners.

The numbers get more interesting when you look at the size of the companies responding.  All of the big guys (who would have the biggest sales and marketing budgets) all noted that they didn’t have access to the right people to build great relationships.

Essentially, the guys with the most advantages toward building the best relationships were the least likely to know how to get the right people.  Interesting indeed.

When you look at the age for relationship building, it becomes even more significant.  The young guys and old guys fall into the same category — limited access to the right executives.  While the mid-life high-performers know the right people, but aren’t really sure what to do to keep their attention.

Kind of what you would expect from life, right?  You work hard to get somewhere; and then once you’re there you push so far and fast ahead that you lose valuable ties to people who could be a valuable resource to you.

Young or old, big or small — we all need to work a little harder to keep our relationships strong.  They are our lifeblood, our lifeline to accomplishing our life’s mission.

So think about how you treat your relationships.

Are you asking friends to triple-click through your e-card nonsense, or are you bold enough to just say “Thank You”…  and mean it…

P.S.  Thank you to all the amazing readers of The DEW View!  Have a Happy Holidays.  I am grateful that I was able be a part of your 2009 selling year.  Take some time to get recharged and then let’s plan on changing the world together in ’10….  Thanks again!!!

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(Illogically) Help Me Be Your Customer

chokeThink through the mind of your customer… and ask yourself if you are “illogically” wooing your customer.  Are you doing what no one else will do to make them successful?  Are you working to guarantee that your customer hits a home run by working with you?

It’s not logical.  In fact, it doesn’t really make sense from a “nuts-and-bolts” perspective.

But like anything, when you swing the opposite direction, you get a better perspective.  Instead of being illogically helpful, let’s look at being illogically awful.  Let’s look at the bad emails we send and see how we can make them better.

The endless onslaught of crappy emails has accelerated.  It has gotten serious.  For some reason, crazy sales people who need to have a strong Q4 all decided that they need to mass email the world in the hopes that we will magically take an interest in their nonsensery.

There is no interest in a relationship or learning what might be important to you or me.  It’s all about their email and how they have access to an amazing service that we “can’t miss out on”.  I want to drag them into my office, throw them on the floor and let them know this simple fact that they are overlooking:

We have thoroughly enjoyed not “enjoying” your service; and if your current care of us is any indication of your future care, then we are best served to not be your customer….. ever — for the sake of our health.

It is such a horrible experience to get these emails.  It’s like a sudden nausea that has me tasting a little stomach acid in my mouth.  I feel sick but my head’s not warm.  I just don’t feel well after reading this chicanery.

I had one such illogically awful encounter earlier this month when I received the following email in my inbox…

Email1

Of course, I was more than a little surprised and then annoyed at the premise of the email. (In this case, “annoyed” is a code word for “enraged”).

  1. There is no mention of my name in this entire email (I am not totally sure if she sent this to the right person…)
  2. There is value statement (I can’t figure out what really sets Melissa apart as being worth my time…)
  3. There is no call to action (I am kind of confused as to what logical action Melissa expects from me…)
  4. There is way too much content (I immediately start skimming because it “appears long and boring…)
  5. There is different color font in the email (I start wondering “why” and if there’s a special reason…)

So I emailed Melissa back.  And yes, I was in a funk.  My time had been wasted.  My intelligence had been insulted.  I was upset with myself that I had even given Melissa time in my busy day.  I was irate and so I shared my thoughts:

Email2

I just asked Melissa why being “illogically awful” was a reason why I should care. And not to be outdone or undeterred she let me know.  She wasn’t trying to woo me as a customer.  She was throwing data at me and hoping that I might be interested.

AWFUL!

Now you can gain access to thousands of developers.......

A truly “illogically awful” experience.  Melissa clearly did not want me as a customer.

A lot of sales books tell you that you qualify and don’t take chances with customers — that you do exactly what Melissa did:

  • That you refine your questions to only work with prospects who have money and time…. you get then give…
  • That you only build a relationship once you see that your prospect has something “in it” for you…  you prioritize based on immediate perceived value…
  • That you trade enough negotiable points and win a deal without taking any risks…. you never appear vulnerable or genuine…
  • That you explain all your moves logically in a “I always win” matrix… you need to appear important and in control…

But let’s not belabor the illustration.  We can learn how to be “illogically helpful” by doing everything that Melissa failed to do.

  1. Be personal — Start the email by calling me my name – my first name and leave off the “mister”….
  2. Be brief — Keep it to 5 sentences max.  If you need to tell me more, don’t…
  3. Be thorough — Tell me something you know I don’t know… and convince me you’re bad-ass…
  4. Be creative — Leave me wanting to hear the rest of your idea…
  5. Be different — Remove any buzzwords and industry “gibberish” that make me tune you out…
  6. Be inspiring — Combine what you want from me with what I care about.  I might actually get involved…
  7. Be important — Leave me good contact details so I can return your call or email and add you to my address book…
  8. Be neat — Proof read your email to make sure it is grammatically “mostly correct”.  Bad punctuation is distracting…
  9. Be safe — Don’t go nuclear on a random idea until we have a relationship. (i.e. politics, religion, etc…)…
  10. Be vulnerable — Admit it if you want help.  If you claim to have it figured out and don’t I lose respect…
  11. Be About Me — Rewrite your email if there are more I‘s and me‘s than you‘s.  You are writing to me so make it about me…

And here is the kicker: If you follow all the traditional sales rules (like Melissa did) you might never really ever lose a big deal.  You’ll never be in a position to question whether you made the right decision.  You’ll never have to take risks….

But you’ll never have the illogic to support yourself landing big deals.

Stop Shouting at Me

1039171_52843470Since when did we as business people decide that having conversations was too much work?

Instead of discussion with our customers and the community we decided that SHOUTING at the world was the “latest and greatest” in sales-marketry…  That being annoying was a great replacement for providing value to the community around us.

(If you see the guy who switched the playbook let me know so I can slip him over the border into North Korea.)

I want a lifetime ban on boring HTML newsletters.  They just suck.

At least pretend to know my name.  I feel like the other side of a bad date.  Like I am being used for just another number in your “see my 10 gabillion readers” quest for encyclopedic  nonsensery.

And here is the ironic part about the craziness of your bad content:

I really want to be inspired by what you have to say to me.  I want to get a rush of adrenaline and nod my head at the end of each paragraph as you rock it out.  That’s what I want from our conversation.

Instead, you think that your fancy picture (which I have now officially deemed “Lame 2009 Clipart” or L2C for short) does a better job of telling me what you really want me to know.

Here’s another paradox:  We all hate the loud dude in the office who just won’t shut up (which is usually me).   But then we turn around become the sales people of the world who fight fearlessly for our loud and impersonal emails that just do the same thing.

We need to stop thinking about emails as sales tools and more as conversation tools.  If you wouldn’t kick down your customer’s door and start spitting sales facts in his face in person, then don’t do it with your emails.

Stop shouting….

Start sharing.

Myth: Thinking Actually Helps

myth

High-performers in the world of “deal making” share the universal quality of self-assessment. It’s an internal process of strategically measuring the inputs and outputs of a process or idea (or just “what went down…”) and deciding if it could be done better.  And that’s all good.  It’s more than good — it’s necessary.

But it’s probably not good enough to make you an ALL-STAR (the stuff of legends)

You work better when you work with gut instinct.  At this stage in your deal process, you generally know what NOT to do (which is 2/3 of the learning process) and WHERE you need to head.  But to be the best, you have to be extraordinary — and that requires a different, new, or abstractly innovative idea.  Everything that your boss won’t probably agree with…. because it’s not safe.

But there’s actually science to prove that you do make better decisions from gut instinct rather than thinking too much.

“Whether evaluating abstract objects (Chinese ideograms) or actual consumer items (paintings, apartments, and jellybeans), people who deliberated on their preferences were less consistent than those who made non-deliberative judgments,” write authors Loran F. Nordgren (Northwestern University) and Ap Dijksterhuis (Radboud University, The Netherlands).”

And check this out.  The science gets even more compelling.  After 5 different independent studies, the authors found that “the more complex the decision, the less useful deliberation became.”

That means that less “thought-manship” and more gut instinct is the key to outrageous deal success.

P.S.  Ever wonder why outrageous success is so hard to predict (i.e. there’s no formula)?  It’s because you’re thinking too hard about it.  As you move with gut instinct you see enough of the distance to move around obstacles to get to the finish line.  And, like running at the North Pole, you don’t really need to look over your shoulder because your competition is slim…. (and that’s where I like to play)

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Skin in the Game

bruise_first_aidWarren Buffett famously coined the term “skin in the game” in his business insight that you can “guarantee” the success of a company by requiring C-level executives to use their own money to buy stock in the particular company they are running.  Since the company’s interests and the senior leadership’s interests are the same thing, you have maximum inertia in the right direction…

That’s great for running a business, but let’s go another direction.

If you’ve played on an outdoor basketball court at all, then you know what it’s like to leave “skin in the game”.  It can be brutal.  Every dive and fall leaves a scrape, a gash, or a bruise.

The harder you play, the tougher you need to be.

So it is on the court of “changing the world”…

You should assume that you will leave skin in the game if you really believe in something:

  • If you don’t have skeptics… then your idea isn’t big enough…
  • If you don’t have critics…  then you are doing everything wrong…
  • If you don’t have a nemesis…  then you are not changing the status quo

If you have skin in the game, you can expect to be regularly maligned, misunderstood, hated… and most possibly SUCCESSFUL!

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Just Do It Already…

Your Effort Differentiates!

Your Effort Differentiates!

My CEO buddy Kriss Wilson posted a quote on Twitter from Buddha that fit right in to some of my recent thinking about selling and the differentiation between those who SELL and those who are “working on it.”

I return to my passion about effort and the idea of the PQ that creates All-Stars.

First — a quote from the mind of Kriss:

“Fools wait for a lucky day but every day is a lucky day for an industrious man.” ~Buddha

Quite a lot of selling is doing

It’s about putting in the necessary effort to navigate your way around obstacles to be successful.  It’s about being indefatigable, unstoppable, completely motivated…

It’s NOT:

……saying,
…………thinking,
………………planning,
……………………preparing
…………………………debating,
………………………………creating,
……………………………………testing,
…………………………………………searching,
………………………………………………building,   or
……………………………………………………making calls!

It is about EFFORT and the art of EXECUTING!

It’s the age old principle of “making your own luck”!

No sooner had my mind stopping spinning when I got a call from Tom Searcy which led to another discussion with a CEO in need of “sales execution” — not any of the things listed above.

And I again questioned this.

WHY? Why is execution so hard for start-ups?

And it really comes to a handful of explanations:

  • You don’t know how
  • You are too busy with less important details…
  • You underestimate the required amount of hard work

I usually find in working with high performing CEO’s that the last reason is by far the most common reason for lack of sales.  The “sweat cost” of “always on” selling is easy to underestimate and it’s deadly if not fixed”

Entrepreneurs give up just before they become successful.  CEO’s quit long after they should have given up on poor selling ideas.  High-end “sellers” over promise results without understanding the resources they are being promised by the organization.

What to do?

  • Put in the effort!
  • Stay committed to putting in the effort!

You can change just about anything when you have the effort to back up your planning!

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Focus on priorities

What would you be doing if today were the last day for you to be alive?

Would you work harder, take the day off, or just spend the day with regrets?

For the vast majority of us, there will be more days than today, but there won’t be a way to get back the time you spent today NOT focusing on your priorities.

Focus on your priorities for today like tomorrow might never come.  It’s amazing what you can accomplish with the proper perspective…

P.S  Don’t worry about getting it wrong as long as you are willing to keep trying…