Tag Archives: sales

Yep… your New Year resolutions are worthless.

It’s that time of year again where we take stock of our poor performance from last year and write down blissful wishes for what we want to make happen this year.

It actually a pretty worthless activity…

From joining a new gym to going to church more to drinking less — whatever you resolve come New Years has a 78% chance of ultimately failing.  That’s almost everybody!

I didn’t make that up.  That’s what a recent international study of almost a thousand people indicated.

Just like we have been trained to do nice things for people around Christmas even though we act like inconsiderate jerks the rest of the year, so we have also trained ourselves to pause ever so briefly at the beginning of each year to wish we could do a few things differently in the coming year.

And it’s a worthless waste of time for 8 out of 10 of us.

And while I am on the subject, why are we still talking about 3-year and 5-year plans when we can’t get this yearly thing figured out?  Seems like a bunch of silly nonsense.

Seriously, are we committed to real change? Real sacrificial “it hurts like hell” change.

We don’t even apply the same level of respect to our own goals as we do the dudes we watch on ESPN.

We respect an obsessive work ethic that makes an all star like Michael Jordan sink 100 free-throws in a row before leaving practice.  We marvel at the obscene practice put in by perfectionists like Tiger Woods who practice distance putting at 3 and 10 foot intervals for hours a day.

And yet when it comes to putting in a little more effort for ourselves, we tend to be the first to come up with excuses (good ones too).  And the older we get, the more experience we gain explaining why our failure was really a good thing.

Aren’t you tired of mediocrity?  Of being an “almost all-star”?

Are you willing to do something about it?  To change?

Are you willing to:

  1. Connect your goal with a larger mision in life… (turn “making more money” into “helping a small company flourish”)
  2. Construct your goal into a series of smaller monthly milestones… (turn big deadlines into a series of progressive tasks)

If so, you might be ready to see breakthrough this year.  This might be the year of YOU… ALL of the 22% who accomplished their annual goals noted that these two were the two primary drivers for their success — passion and planning.

It’s amazing what you can do when you really want something more for yourself.

You might just change the world.

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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!!!

How to succeed when your life life kicks the @$%*# out of your sales life

beat-up-faceSometimes life throws you a curve ball.

Things blow up…. bad.

You get beaten up in your personal life and it starts to affect your chances at closing deals.

You have opportunities that demand finesse, skill, and talent — and you feel defeated and ready to quit.

Winning is more than about a notch on the belt. It pays the bills.  Not succeeding is something you don’t want to consider….

So, what do you do?  How do you put your life back together while not missing a career beat?

  1. Recognize that life dealt you a black eye.  There is no use denying the obvious.
  2. Try to solve solvable life problems as soon as possible.  Let go of your ego.
  3. Spend time “grinding” through the sales steps you know you need to get done.  Send emails.  Return calls.
  4. Set aside a few special minutes a day to focus on your sales goals.  Focus on your dreams.
  5. Write down your scattered sales strategy thoughts throughout the days.  Your mind has a lot going on so take the time to store your half-finished ideas on paper.
  6. Write your daily goals on a calendar and don’t let time commitments slide.  Don’t let things that used to take 5 minutes take 30 minutes.
  7. Talk to someone that you trust and get the bad stuff out of your head.  Telling yourself that you suck is not a super way to build confidence.
  8. Challenge yourself in a favorite hobby or through physical exercise.  Take time for mastery.
  9. Take the first step toward your sales goal that day. Then another. Then another.  Build momentum.
  10. Learn from the experience — about yourself, about how your customer might be feeling.  Build empathy.

There’s probably more to this list than the points I have included.  In fact, I am sure there is more to consider.  The point is that life happens — and it hurts.  You want the world to stop so you can heal and it won’t.  It just runs you over again.  Use these basic steps to stay “in the game” while your world works itself out.

Winning is not about removing problems that you can not control but about continuing in spite of them…

————————

And a special event for The DEW View! community.  Join me November 19th for a Masterclass about “Edgy Conversations: An Explosion of Opportunities

Ever wonder how some sales executives land big deals with big players and you feel stuck chatting up the small guys about opportunities that will probably never happen.  Do you want to get the attention of the right people?  Do you want to see the number of opportunities you are working on explode?  Learn how to have “Edgy Conversations”.  Learn how to have conversations that matter….

I hope we can share a few minutes together…

(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.

Sales Stat Strategies Suck!

web_counter_stats

Sneak up behind someone and poke them with a safety pin and they jump.   Do it 100 times to a 100 different people and you will get the SAME result.

It’s human nature.  It’s a reaction that all people have.  Going a little deeper — it’s a subconscious reaction to feedback from our nervous system.  Millions of impulses every second tell you that you are in pain — to move your body away from the source  of pain.

It’s not even something you think about.

Which brings me back to the topic of my recent angst — sales strategies based on stats…

Sales research is cool (our teams do a ton of it), but building your sales strategy around market perceptions research is absolutely senseless.  I am not sure where we business people went so wrong, but the practice of “wind sniffing” is eroding the foundations of our businesses.  We happily produce neutered sales teams while happily sharing the stats around why we are making stupidly uninspired decisions.

We attempt nothing grand, challenging, or edgy.  Instead we “grow a set of stats” and use them as a billy club to keep the sales guys in line and unoriginal.

Here is how it works:

  1. “Business A” wants to generate more money in their marketplace…
  2. Executives research what people are buying and doing in the “Business A” marketplace…
  3. Sales team tasked to deliver on getting more people in the “Business A” marketplace to buy more…

Seems harmless.  In fact, you might be thinking: “this sounds like a great idea to me; why so much frustration, Daniel?”

But here are the problems:

  1. You can’t improve something by executing a “more of the same” sales strategy… (i.e. Bad people doing bad things produce bad things in bad ways.  Copying that is bad too.)
  2. Multiple snapshots of buyer activity produce vastly inconsistent data… (i.e. Like 5 blind dudes with a elephant you get a difference perspective every time you roll out of bed and check your numbers.)
  3. People don’t want what they say they want… (i.e. People don’t want to pay a “fair price”.  They want to pay “their fair price.)
  4. Stats bear “builder bias” not facts… (i.e. You can’t escape that you will already have most of the answer before you start working on looking at your “viral stats”.)
  5. Everybody else is equally as motivated to improve mediocrity (i.e. Improving your hustle over your competitor just means that you look like an idiot more times to more prospects.)

Building on mediocrity still has the failure of mediocrity at the foundation — which really negates the “building” part of the scenario…  (DEWism)

Watching what people are doing or how they are acting is a good operational practice but quite limited when it comes to sales.  It breaks down to Maslow and understanding people.

People do what people do because they are people  and that’s what people do…

Instead of researching what already exists  — what people are already doing — spend time on what you WANT people to be doing.  That should be your ONLY concern.  What people are doing is already the past.  Your vision for them promises a new and better future.

Here is a stat for you:  99.99% of people want to live and love… Lose your sales stats and sell that with passion…

[…and a Happy Birthday to my mother who taught me to live with courage, to strive for excellence, and to never back down from my obsession with changing the world…]

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Attacking the hill.

Last year as I trained for a UFC fight I spent time in the gym pretty much every day running on the treadmill, pushing some weights, and hitting the heavy bags (The speed bag is still a challenge…).  After I got out of the ICU from the staff infection that I caught, all the time in the gym was wasted.  I had lost about 15 pounds in 4 days and for several months after I left the hospital I was weak and exhausted (from what I still don’t know).

This year I have been back to my roots — running.  I will think about getting back into fighting shape later.  Right now I am working on the cardio aspects of my training.

To keep myself h0nest, I have been using RunKeeper on my iPhone 3GS (which uses the internal GPS) to manage my entire running process.  It then posts it to the web where I can measure calories burned and times and even track the direct link between a specific climb and the speed of attack.  It does not however add in the temperature….

runkeeper

Unfortunately, Greenville is a hilly place.  A really hilly place.

So is SELLING…

Most of sales is attacking a hill — a challenge, a target, a opportunity, a commission quota…  There is no level playing ground and if you should be worried if it feels like you can do your job while coasting (that means a “cheaper” someone else can probably do the same thing).

Getting in fighting sales shape is about training on the hills.  You practice on a slope and challenge yourself to run the course faster and more efficiently each time.

You become a master of winning where other people get “winded”…

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