Tag Archives: Marketing and Advertising

Clean up your act… (or else)

For those of you who ignored my rage against the fad of making New Years resolutions, I say “bravo”…  Sure it’s a mindless waste of time to commit to an important goal for just a few months, but you already knew that.

All rage aside, I have goals for my life and most of you do too.    I have to think you wouldn’t continue to hang out here at The DEW View if you didn’t want more from your life.  I tend to be pretty annoying.

(By the way, I hope several of you made resolutions just because I told you, you shouldn’t…)

So back to goals….

We all have them and we all would say that we want our goals to work out.  The reality is that you can have what you want. Your goals really can happen…

You just need to clean up your act.

Here’s a fun fact for you: You guy’s don’t need me to tell you how to be successful.  Most of us know what to do to be productive people.

  • We know that we need to prioritize better…
  • We know that we need to manage our time more effectively…
  • We know that we need to be more disciplined…

Right?  So why don’t we?

I think it has a little to do with how I spent my weekend:

I have had the house to myself for the past few weeks and with two boys and a maddenly busy schedule, things get sloppy.  Despite the pics you see of me on Facebook and elsewhere with my hair uncombed and collar pushed up, I am kind of a neat freak.   It doesn’t hurt that I grew up with a mom that made me clean the toilets and polish the sinks each more morning before I went to school.

So I went back to my roots and decided to get the house back in shape – bathrooms, hard word floors, and carpets.  And it wasn’t easy.  For starters, I couldn’t find the supplies.  I mean, isn’t there supposed to be a caddie thing with all the sprays and soaps and stuff?  Where is it?

I couldn’t find it.

I made a trip to Wal-Mart with the boys to rectify the situation.  Forty-five minutes later, a bucket, a mop, soap stuffs, a little green duster, and a pair of elbow-length pink gloves later, I hit the scene like Saturday night at the movies.

It was nasty. I won’t go into detail here because it will likely reduce my readership quite dramatically.  It will suffice to say that things got sudsy in a hurry.

And about four hours later, the house looked better.  It still needs a professional though…..

Here is my observation.  I could have the most beautiful house in the world, but without periodic cleaning, it’s going to get pretty nasty, pretty quick.

That’s exactly what happens to your goals.

Your sales goals for this quarter.  Your commission goals for this year.  Your 3-year plan for conquering the world.

What starts in January as beautiful and full of delight turns into a March disaster, June denial, and November depression

Along the way your goals get dusty, dirty, and downright nasty.  What’s started out nice and beautiful quickly becomes something you can’t stand to be around.  They stink.

“And when your goals stink, they start to rub off on you…”

So what am I saying?

  1. Donate regular time to clean up bad habits that limit your potential…
  2. Spend effort shining up new talents and skills…
  3. Soak up any advice you can get from great books, bios, and magazine articles…
  4. Don’t let failure and negativity leave scum on your beliefs…

So clean up your act!

It’s not me being a jerk; it’s your best chance of changing the world.

(I need to take my advice with this one too…)

What do you think? 

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Who Convinced us to Trade MORE for MERRIER?

Parties…  You love going to them.  What’s even better — you love getting that late minute call to go crash your buddy’s friend’s pad to join in the “uninvited”  festivities.

You can’t have hosted a party more than once in the past two millenia without a buddy asked you if he could bring some other dudes to the event.

It goes down a little like this:

YOU: Hey, I am throwing a little party at my place tomorrow night.  You wanna swing by?

BUDDY: Awesome.  I’ll bring some beers.  By the way, do you mind if I invite the other guys?

YOU: Sure.  No worries.  The more the merrier…

What came of this?

I will tell you.  Good times were had by all!

You had more people show up.  Things got louder.  And you didn’t find yourself talking to only that one person in the corner all night.  There was more of everything.  It got crazier.  And people probably had fun.

Back in Virginia, our house got to be called “Schmidty City” because of the memorable happenings that went down.  (Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stop that picture from floating around the interwebs of me wearing a pink tube-top…)

Let’s get serious for a second.  Especially as we think about closing out the year.

“MORE” works for parties — not for closing business deals.

For all the opposite reasons that chaos is the key to a great party, it’s the death of a business deal.

So avoid it…  Stop thinking that you are making progress toward closing that big deal because you have the amazing ability to fire off 3 gazillion HTML emails to only-slightly-less-then random Jigsaw contacts.

The only think you can chalk up to success is your tenacity for annoying other people.

Believe it or not, intimacy still matters in business.  The “merrier” part of the equation is most powerful — not the “more”.

So it might seem less than peachy to tell the “Big Cheese” that quantity isn’t your game, but that’s actually the truth.

Here’s a key pointer to help you keep your priorities straight:

Make sure you understand what the person on the other end of the deal thinks they are are getting out of the arrangement..

If you know that factoid and keep it top-of-mind as you work through your business deal, you will find yourself being much more successful.

As you go into 2010, keep an open mind about the idea of “edgy conversations” that I am spending more time defining.  More leads, more potential customers, more busyness — none of these is the answer.  You might find yourself sleeping fewer hours and running a more frenetic schedule, but you won’t find your revenue skyrocketing like you want it to.

Think “merrier”…  all the way to the bank!

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!!!

The Hardest Sale of Your Life

(also known as, 10 courageous ways to take down the bad guys and live a life of amazing opportunity)

I was in a conversation with a close friend last week about some serious matters when I just stopped everything I was talking about and simply summed it up by noting:

“You know? This is the hardest sale of my life”…

Have you ever been there? Are you there right now?

It’s a pretty incredible opportunity to really know that what you are engaged in RIGHT now is the fight of your life.

  • Understanding that nothing else you have ever done before compares to the challenge you are facing right now…
  • Realizing that when you walk away victorious from this challenge you will have won the biggest battle of your life…

It’s a do or die set-up.

A time when the fork in the road is a choice of harder or hardest. There is nothing easy about this — just a painful uphill struggle.

So what do you do if you find yourself in this opportunity? How do you handle the hardest sale of your life?

  1. You hold nothing back in your personal effort — The fight of your life demands the fight of your life.  You really have to lay it all on the line: mind, body, and soul.   And if there is anything else you have to offer, you need to put that in the game as well.   All!  Everything!  Every ounce of effort goes to winning this cause.  (And by the way, don’t confuse “almost” with “all”. One gets you close to the deal. The other is what helps you close the deal.)
  2. You don’t stop your analysis until you find real meaning — Things are never as they seem.  Winners today can end up the real losers tomorrow.  You have to keep digging into the “facts” of the case until you get the answers that no one else has.  Here’s a DEW favorite: “remember that it’s always what it’s not – at least the first few times around”.  That means that the standard answers you are getting from your prospect about timeline and budget are the exact opposite from the actual words that you are hearing.
  3. You are patient with results and refuse to over-react — Most sales people are their own worst enemy once they sense that they might not be winning the hardest deal of their life. They transform into irrational, paranoid super-sulky panhandlers asking for the prospect’s loose change. They stop thinking like the savvy business ninjas that got them into the game in the first place. You need to remember to be patient with the process. Put in place the “24 Hour Rule” ( i.e. No communication to the client for a full day after you sense bad news from a prospect.)  Use that time to find an alternative strategy that shows your care of the client rather than a hand-out attempt to beg for their attention.
  4. You ask for non-judgmental advice from a guru — A guru doesn’t need to be a world-famous author or the biggest hotshot in your industry.  Sometimes that guy is the manager who has been doing this for three decades and has seen a million different deals come and go.  Sometimes that guru is just an article written on a blog or your favorite selling magazine.  The key is that the advice has to be non-judgmental.  You are where you are and asking someone (at this point) how you could have done it “better” is a huge waste of your time and a real “downer”.  Talk about “next steps” from “right here”.  Ask for advice and you will likely get some solutions you would not have considered all on your own.
  5. You take time for physically tasking exercise — There is  nothing that compares to kicking ass in the business world like kicking ass in the gym.  It clears your mind and prepares your body for stressful situations.  The world-famous Mayo Clinic calls exercise “Meditation in Motion” and that seems to have been my experience running on the open road.   You need to be physically and mentally prepared for a potential beating and nothing helps you navigate the madness of your schedule like a regular session of body building.  Take 30 minutes and push yourself hard.  You’ll find new confidence returning just when you need it most.
  6. You consider the advantages of the “outrageous” — Sometimes you need to break out the “clown suit” and go for broke — I am joking 99.5% here. While you don’t want to be silly, there is some solid reasoning to asking the hard questions you were afraid to ask during the sales competition — like “we didn’t really have a chance did we?” or “we sure seemed to miss the mark with you guys, didn’t we?” or “I’m embarrassed that we were so so self-centered we didn’t think more about the value we should have been providing to you.”  When you get the answers to these questions, you might find yourself with some solid “behind the scenes” information to propose a winning counter-solution.  You have nothing to lose, so go for it…
  7. You reverse roles with your buyer and justify “you” — Think about how you appear to your prospect.  Are you a whiner? A bully? A loudmouth? A hot-shot?  A miserable time-wasting, arrogant asshole?  Who are you from the buyer’s perspective?  Consider that….   You can call yourself the superhero of value propositions, but if your prospect doesn’t get it, then you have failed – miserably.  Think about the words you are using.  How would you react if they were being “played” to you?  Reverse your roles and see how you look from the other side of the table…
  8. You manage personal distractions by eliminating them first — You can’t execute a masterful strategy while you have nagging side issues beating you between the temples.  Conventional sales books have all made the case for running after distractions after you do your core mission.  I totally disagree.  That’s a horrible process.  It doesn’t work.  Distractions are a part of life.  You have to manage these issues FIRST, before they threaten your ability to perform at high levels.  Don’t half-ass the hardest sale of your life by focusing part of our attention on something else.  Get the nasty stuff off your plate – or at least partly solved – and then go kick ass.
  9. You don’t ask if dropping your price will close the deal — At this point (in the middle of the hardest sale of your life) you are way past grovelling for a rock-bottom price negotiation vantage point. Don’t do it.  Double the value analysis of your offering.  Triple your support offering. But do not cut your price.  Customers want the best offer — not necessary the lowest price.  By providing the most VALUE (i.e. explained benefit to the buyer) you become the best offer.  And here is a question for you: Does a price drop really ever increase your odds of winning the deal?  Doesn’t it just make you more frustrated?  So don’t do it.  Force yourself to demonstrate value instead.
  10. You close the hardest sale of your life — You face down your demons, put in the effort, and at the end of the day you take a commission to the bank.  You close the deal because you want it the most.  Because you are willing to ask for help.   You wait patiently through the chaos, the client demands, and personal fears.  You close the deal.

That’s what you do.

You close the hardest sale of your life.

And why? Because that’s all there is to do.  That’s why you are in the game — to fight, to win…

I certainly don’t want to gloss over this idea. There’s more to this idea and it’s not for everyone.  It’s certainly one of those topics that is easier to talk about than to actually do.

That’s because deep down some of you think that winning is for someone else.  That you aren’t the one who can win.

But you are mistaken.  You are a winner.  You were born that way.  You can do it. You can win big.  You can close the hardest sale of your life.

Call me, I’ll help you.

(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.

The language of people

There’s a secret language that many of us don’t understand.  It’s deliberate but very real.  It’s hidden but in plain sight.  It’s how we work but rarely what we think about.

It’s called “humanity” and it’s the key to making the impossible very real.  It’s the difference between the unbelievable happening and almost “getting there.”

When you understand people you understand the possibilities.  You get to be a part of this language of “humanity“.

But it means your mission – your calling in life – is not about YOU:

  • It’s you feeling deep loss and quiet tears even when you’re told “I’m fine”…
  • It’s you reading the lines of worry on a tired face …
  • It’s you hearing the silent call for help when there is no sound…

It’s going on around you.  It was you yesterday and maybe today.

Chances are it’s your client tomorrow…

How GMC Lost My Million Dollar Business

What happened to the art of caring about the success of your customers?

What happened to caring in general — about your own success, about what wakes you up in the morning, about a higher calling than your 9-to-5?  Is it costing you millions of dollars and you don’t even know about it yet?

envoy“Sir, that’s the fee we added recently to anyone returning their vehicle at the end of their lease.  It’s helps to offset our recent losses.”

That was the response I got from a customer support rep in India answering my frustration over a $800 bill from GMC after returning my vehicle at the end of a 36 month lease.  Do I even need to tell you my response?  I was livid (and so are many of you just reading this).

Not only did I pay several thousands dollars up-front to buy my way into the lease, but Bank of America did a super job of auto-paying the bill each month — from my piggy bank to the coffers of GMC’s “bean counters”.  And now that my lease is done, some one decides to change the rules and charge me because they horribly mismanaged their own affairs.  (That puts me in a bad mood.)

There’s more to this story actually.  It gets better…

About 10 hours ago, I got a call from a Senior Customer Service Rep named Debra in Midland, Texas who “humored” me with a call back to help me with my concerns.  When I asked why I was getting charged $800 for a “Disposition Fee”, I was told”

“That’s a fee all of our customers pay…  It’s only if you decide not to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease.  It’s kind of an incentive thing… “

I kindly asked her where this was mentioned in my original agreement.

“I don’t know if that’s in your agreement, sir.  I don’t know if it’s mentioned there…”

So then I just got personal and I asked her the logic of demanding I pay a fee that was added three years after I signed paperwork.  I just asked why none of this made any sense.  What if this was happening to her?  Would she think this was the right way to be treated?

“Sir, I am sorry; we can not waive that fee, regardless…”

And then I got the real answer.  The fee right now was more important than I was.

……………………..She didn’t want it to make sense.

…………………………………………………She didn’t need it to make sense.

At the end of our discussion — at the end of getting no answers, no clarity, no reasons for these fees — Debra summed it up by simply noting that regardless of the fairness of the situation or her inability to explain the logic of the bill, she simply did not CARE….

That’s what it came down to.  She represented a company that did not care about me.

Two things I know:

  1. I will not ever pay this $800 fee until someone can clearly show me my rightful obligation (which at this point seems a long way off)…..   AND
  2. I will never (in my lifetime) ever buy another GMC…. (ever, ever….)

What does that mean?

It means that GMC loses horribly over a lack of caring.

Think about this with me.

If I buy a new vehicle every 5 years for the next 40 years (until I am 70) and pay roughly $45,000 per vehicle  (like I did with this Envoy), GMC lost out on $360,000.  And with a 2-car family, that’s about $750,000.  Now what if I buy the boys a car or two (like a generally insane parent)?  Are we close to a million dollars?

Are we beyond a million dollars?  Probably.

So what happened?

GMC forgot that CARING is the ultimate CAPITAL…..

You can spend millions on marketing and billions on branding, but if you don’t care, you can’t replace your customers fast enough to stay in business.  In face, it’s worse than bad.  You just don’t upset your community; you create an army of vigilantes who go out-of-their-way to make sure you fail.  They actually invest in your demise….

Now before you get too indignant over GMC, think about your customers and the amount of money you lose because you don’t take the time to care.  Think about how much money you could lose by not caring to invest in your relationship with them.

And the amazing thing about caring is that when you really do care — you really empathize — you can screw up pretty bad and your customer will forgive you.

Because caring is really what matters most in a relationship.

———————–

“Caring is the different between the struggle for survival or the the passionate pursuit of excellence.  With one, you succeed at living and with the other you live to succeed… (DEWism)”