Tag Archives: Business

The 5 Questions Every Company Should Ask Itself (via Fast Company)


Question Mark on Road (ahead)This is a RT via @FastCompany.  If you’re not following Fast Company, you should do it right away.  It represents some of the best and brightest business thinking out there and has wonderful content.  This article is no exception, and really gets you thinking about some fundamentals about your business… ://t.co/5lCsLebn9q

*Spoiler Alert* Here are the questions.  You’ll need to read the article for the context:

  1. What is our company’s purpose on this Earth?
  2. What should we STOP doing?
  3. If we didn’t have an existing business, how could we best build a new one?
  4. Where is our petri dish?
  5. How can we make a better experiment?
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4 Awesome Questions for Leaders


Just found this nugget in an article in Business Insider.  The article explains that in his letter to shareholders, then newly appointed IBM Chairman Sam Palmisano explains that he was recently looking over his notes from his first meeting as chairman back in 2003. He was surprised to see how little he wrote. At the top of the page, he had only four questions:

  • Why would someone invest in us?
  • Why would customers buy from us?
  • Why would someone work here?
  • Why would society allow us to operate?
Powerful questions for any organizational leader to ask.  What would you say?

Please Read CRM and Leave Me Alone!


Begin rant here…

If you look at it from the perspective of the sales representative, one of the principal benefits of CRM (and I’ve selected, implemented, and used them all – Microsoft CRM, Salesforce.com, Oracle CRM, Sugar, you name it)  is creating a “book of record” for opportunities and client touch points. 

I know where my opportunity stands.  I know the sales stage we’re in.  I know the people making the decision.  I know our allies and our detractors.  I have all my correspondence to and from our buyers.  I have the latest feedback from the  influencers.  I’ve documented our partners on the deal. Ditto the competition. I know our relative strengths and weaknesses.  And, here is the coolest part – SO DO YOU!  In fact, everyone in the organization has this information in one, centralized spot.

This is why my pet peeve is doing perpetual deal reviews for various members of a pursuit team – catching them up.  As the Sales Rep, this consumes  untold cycles of my time.

If you want to know about a deal, please go review the notes on it in CRM! 

Otherwise, why am I doing this typing?  (I’m the one who already knows this information, remember?)

…Rant ended

Guaranteed Better Sales Interactions? Plan On It


We don’t always do the best job that we can at preparation.  But one thing is for sure – there is no shortage of meetings each day, especially in sales and marketing.    Due to the collaborative nature of selling today, those meetings burn not only y0ur time, but the time of other valuable people in your organization.  It pays to do them effectively and efficiently.  So when is the last time you pre-planned an important meeting? 

On my better days, this makes the difference between a highly successful meeting or one that lacks specific direction and outcomes.

You can do a pre-meeting plan in a phone call, or more formal written document.  But whatever form it takes, I guarantee that you will have better meetings, and accomplish more in them if you take a few minutes and plan ahead.  It works for non-sales meetings too.

So what comprises a good pre-meeting plan? 

To fit your unique situation, you’ll ultimately need to answer that for yourself.  But here are some suggestions from my “g0-to” pre-meeting plan document to get you started:

1.  Meeting Logistics: 
Communicate the time, date, exact location, attendees from both organizations, dress code, and a reminder to bring business cards.  It seems simple, but at least one or two of these are almost always missed.  By the way, your client will give you points for asking for this information ahead of time. 
Not all their vendors come off this organized!

2.  Client Snapshot:
Include a brief, relevant overview of the client organization to baseline the participants.  Especially in the age of the internet, you never look so unprepared as when a team-mate asks a basic question that they should have known going in. 
You’re on for preparing them!

3.  Client Goals, Problems, Needs:
What does your client need from this meeting?  How often do you go in to a meeting without the answer? Too often if you ask most clients.  Preparing for this item is the only way you can know that you will deliver “in-meeting” value. 
Provide “in-meeting” value or your follow-up won’t matter!

4. Sales Objective for the Meeting:
What do you hope to accomplish from this meeting?  Some people are not comfortable with this prep question.  I don’t know why.  Clients know that we are all in business to give and get.  Don’t just go in for a visit.
What’s annoying to them is you being unclear on what you want!

5.  Main Agenda Topics and Topic Owners:
Being organized ahead of time to avoid confusion or conflict makes a huge difference on the impact of the meeting . The collaborative nature of selling has introduced a variable that did not exist in the “1 vs. world” model of sales meetings.  We all think we’re smart and we all hate silence.  Have this mapped.
Someone will say something dull unless you script it out!

6.  Potential Objections, Planned Responses, and Owner:
If you can do just one item on this list before your next meeting make it this one.  This is the most critical item and most often missed opportunity.  Prepare for objections before you get in there.  Here is a fun exercise to run before the meeting: Ask 4 participants what our ideal answer to a client’s question/objection will be and watch how far-flung the responses are.    Practice this, or at least plan for it, and your meeting will be many times more effective.
A crisp response to a tough question can mean a win or a loss!

So there it is, your starter “Pre-Meeting Plan.”  Now go make it yours and watch your meetings soar.

Good Selling!

I Fired a Prospect Today. Yep.


It may seem completely counter-intuitive. I’m the sales rep.  I’m supposedly the person who never met a deal he didn’t like. The one who will drag our company’s resources through any unqualified pursuit to the bitter end – all the while golfing, wining, dining and fretting away the company’s resources – or so legend has it.

So why did I do it? Why did I let this deal go?

1. It was the right thing to do for the prospect: Our stepping back was the most transparent and powerful message my firm could send the client. We know the right way to do this engagement, and we are not going to compromise your success or our reputation by short-cutting.

2. It was good for my business. Here’s a question: What is the WORST hand in poker? The SECOND best hand. That’s the player who stays in, doubles down, fattens up the pot (drives up their cost of sale)…and then loses.

3. It will free up precious time. Let’s face it, time is more valuable than money at this point in your life. You only have capacity for x number of deals per year. This client will take all the time and information that you offer, but they are not going to buy at your solution/scope/price. What is the opportunity cost to you for not spending that time on other opportunties?

4. It was good for my psyche. Training/re-training yourself that not every deal is a good deal is an important lesson to learn and reinforce. Nothing is more powerful than the will to walk away. It’s good for your sense of self as well as your ability to offer more objective counsel to your customers going forward.

So (never thought I’d say this…) what are you waiting for? Go out and fire a prospect today!

Consuming Information Via The 5 Screens


I’m reading The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.  I have it in hardcover.  It may not be the best novel ever written, but I’m really enjoying it.  One side-effect of being bombarded by so many messages (it is hotly contested statistic but most media experts agree we’re exposed to thousands daily) is that a little quiet time away from a screen is a rare treat.  

You don’t even realize it until you stop and think, but much of your day is spent on “screen time,” and not just TV.  For Marketers, I’ve found that an interesting model to ponder is  the “5 Screens.” 

This entry in  Wikipedia summarizes the historic line of Communication Screens:

  • First screen, (the Silver Screen, Movies)
  • Second screen, Television
  • The Third screen really came about after the advent of two technologies melding together – the Personal Computer and the publicly available World Wide Web in 1995
  • Arguably the Fourth screen is related to mobile hand-held devices.  It followed in 2002 with the advent of Hand Held technologies and Wi-Fi, 2g and 3G mobile services.
  • The Fifth screen are screens often seen in public areas.  The digital screen that is seen outside the home in many different venues. Screens are installed in elevators, malls, airports, train stations, on a subway platform, in retail stores, banks, etc.

Not many of us deal with the first and second screens much, unless we are working with global brands.  It is notable that only these first two screens were widely available before 1995. Which brings us to the others…

You most likely have an active effort around the third screen (your website, this blog, web applications, etc).  How if at all are you working with the fourth screen (mobile applications/internet, phones, tablets)?  Finally, the fifth screen is exploding in Point of Sale, Point of Wait and Point of Transit installations. It is expected that millions of these screens will be deployed over the next five years in places like Retail outlets to promote sales of products, or while waiting in line as at a bank, and in transit, such as Digital Billboards on highways.

A lot of screens to think about, both as a consumer and a marketer. 

But first I think I’ll knock out a few more chapters of my book.

Tim on Twitter


No, not me.  I’m highlighting an interesting post on a very cool blog that I just discovered from Tim Berry, President and founder of Palo Alto Software on the nature of Twitter. 

Tim argues Twitter can be a good thing or a bad thing.  At its best, it is a game-changing business must-have for every serious marketer.   At its worst, Twitter is time-wasting drivel.  In the end, however, it’s neither.  It all boiled down to how you use it.

I think we’ve all caught ourselves in that moment of shock waking up from a Twitter bender having just spent more time that we’d like to admit on the “bad” Twitter. 

Tim Berry’s Synthesis: “Twitter is the brush, not the painting. It’s a tool for a new kind of self publishing with a different kind of reach. Talk of business benefits of Twitter are like talk of business benefits of the telephone, or of conversation, or of advertising. It’s all in how you use it. Who or what are you trying to be in Twitter, and what does that have to do with your identity, your message, your business, your self.”

How are using your brush?

Read more of Tim’s interesting blog at: http://timberry.bplans.com/2010/12/twitter-is-the-brush-not-the-painting.html#ixzz188ajPUqj