Thursday, December 29, 2011

My 12 New Years Marketing Resolutions

Here's my first:

I resolve to build a killer keyword strategy and get my business to rank higher in Google organic search results.

Visit our website at:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Buzz Words

I am in the middle of watching the NY Giants play the Buffalo Bills (and what a great game it is). .. its 2 minutes before half time and I stay tuned for this somewhat cool and fast paced Fed Ex Commercial about delivering something to a doctor. At the end of the commercial it says "Innovative Medical Solutions. . .by Fed Ex". Innovative Medical Solutions?? Yes, they are delivering something to do with a medical solution but come on. . .Innovative Medical Solutions???

And so there goes my aha moment of the day! No one pays attention to buzz words anymore. In fact they can often have the reverse effect. If I had a dime for every time I read the words "innovative" or "solution" in a given day, I'd be cooking lobster for dinner instead of spaghetti and meatballs. . .although my meatballs are delicious. In this economy, people who are stressed out and short on time need us sales people to back off the buzz words and get to the point of our conversation. What can we do for our customers? That's the only question we should be asking ourselves before we start yapping. Forward thinking problem solving is in and yes, buzz words are out.

This week the theme of all my sales training and sales strategy planning will be doing away with the buzz words!

Have a great week and go big blue!

Friday, July 22, 2011

No more sales commission?

Comment and let me know what you think of this gentleman's point:

Paying Sales People Commission an Antiquated Concept
June 22, 2011 by colin_patrick_cairns

I’ve been reading and thinking about sales processes, building sales teams, and what makes organizations effective in growing market share and I have come to an interesting conclusion. Everything we know about sales for the last 100 years is wrong. I see a need for a fundamental shift in the way companies build and structure sales organizations, and more importantly, the way they motivate them.

If we look at the history of the sales profession (starting from when the role was stand-alone, not inventor or service provider selling their own products/services or snake oil), we see that every technique that has been identified, generally accepted, taught and ingrained in sales people and the organizations that employ them have later been determined to be detrimental to the sale…that “sales” gets in the way of “buying”. Most people hate to be sold, but most people like buying. New stuff is cool whether it’s a personal iPhone, or a new data center, or marketing campaign for your organization. But no one likes the sales guy, unless it is lunchtime or happy hour and we want a freebie. I contend that the reason is because the system is flawed—we still use antiquated roles and compensation plans.

It wasn’t long ago at all that “closing” was the predominant skill required of the sales staff, and organizations hired individuals that could name the most techniques in the interview (“Ben Franklin”, “1, 2, 3”, “Alternative Close”, “fear of Loss”, etc.). Neil Rackham’s book SPIN Selling came out in 1988 and proved based on (somewhat questionable) qualitative and quantitative research what everyone intuitively already knew–that “closing” has a negative correlation in results, but a perceived personal positive correlation to the sales person implementing the technique, and that the correlation increases in line with the complexity and sophistication of the product/service or purchaser. Simply, the smarter the buyer and the more money they are spending, the more likely they are to see through, and be turned off by a cheezy sales tactic. But, because sales people are trained and paid to use hard closes, they believe that when they do get the sale, it is a direct result of their action. When they do not get the sale, they will see it as unrelated to their action, or related to not enough action.

Though many organizations and individual still employ and teach these closing techniques, much of the world has finally moved on. The next big jumps in selling have been Value Selling, Solutions Selling, Question Based Selling, Relationship Sales, etc. Most of these ideas are built on the simple concept that large deals with any degree of complexity are typically completed based on trust and mutual understanding of business value in win-win relationships for the provider and the client. The deals are not off-the-shelf, require custom relationships and the ability of the sales team and selling organization to make changes to offerings to provide a REAL solution for their customer.

Great! This is a huge step forward in building a sustainable ethical business community that people can support and get behind; something that provides people with purpose and satisfaction in their jobs. It is a recognition that a company’s goal (and the sales organization’s goal) is not only to produce profit, but also recreate a scenario in which they can make profit in the future. But the question remains, how many sales guys/gals do you trust? I would guess not very many. Let’s face it, sales teams are all still focused on their commission. Of course they are—at least %50 of their compensation packages built on assumed commission.

So how do you build a sales team that is motivated to grow marketshare, close business, build new relationships with new clients and extend relationships with existing clients if you don’t have a carrot? The answer is really interesting. There is a great video by RSA Animate, “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us” that is not only some of the coolest whiteboard animation I’ve see, but is also a great look into the question of motivation. It documents a study done by four economic professors from MIT, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Chicago that suggests that a sliding scale, monetary reward works really well for simple, linear tasks. But, once the task required even rudimentary cognitive ability, higher rewards led to poorer performance. The more cognitive ability required, the more financial motivators had a negative correlation to performance…carrots did not work to achieve better results for complex work.

The concept is intuitive when you think about it, in the same way that hard closing techniques backfire on a sophisticated sale. The more intelligent, talented, educated, sophisticated the individual, the less likely it is that they want to be treated like a horse.

The business world is starting to recognize this, and capitalize it on a real way. The video also talks about another great example. If someone told me 20 years that they were going to get a bunch of really intelligent, skilled experts from around the world to do highly complex work free. These are people that are the top of their field, have high paying jobs, and they’re going to volunteer their time, sometimes 30 hours a week. Then, we’re going to take what they produce, and we’ll give it away. And we’ll make millions of dollars…it would have sounded ludicrous, but we have 1 out of 4 corporate servers in fortune 500 companies power by linux—Apache, Wikipedia, etc…

So what is the motivation? According to Dan Pink in the video, the answer is three things: Purpose, Autonomy, and Mastery. Great, how do we institutionalize these concepts into defined processes, roles, compensations packages, etc. to get repeatable results from a sales organization of a major company?

The first step is to attract the talent—candidates with the brainpower and personal motivation to do the job. A company has to create a place where this fundamental shift in the way business is done can happen. For some organizations this will require a fundamental shift in the way they do business, away from solely profit motive driven to encompassing some real transcendent purpose motive. This can happen through sophistication of products, missions, etc.

Where do we draw the line in complexity/scope for products and markets that can work with old-school sales techniques, and organizations that need to build commissionless sales teams? I would say that it has to do with the degree to which an organization needs to, or is willing to make these shifts. If the company has a real and defined purpose motive, chances are it needs to stop paying sales people commission.

The second step is to pay them enough that money is not an issue. This is a fairly simple point, but really the root behind why this method works, and why you see the converse effects on performance of bonuses for highly skilled requirements. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs articulates that only after the basics of life are fully covered, can the real problem solving and contribution begin AND that after those needs are met, it is a necessary progression. This is also why lower salaried, higher commission sales people are more likely to focus on short-term profit and hard closing techniques that backfire.

The third step is get out of their way and wait. Provide resources, education, co-define and document goals, measure progress, etc., but let them have the autonomy to create and implement strategies individually and as teams. Find and define more and more complex engagements and goals. Acknowledge and reward mastery.

That’s it.

I know large organizations are complex, that making changes are not that simple, that things have been working this way for a hundred years. But I also know that when organizations start to make these changes in their sales teams, we will see tremendous results, real and profitable collaborations, and measurable growth.

Ten years ago, before I’ve seen this scientific research on motivation, before I have looked back on my personal career, and organizations I’ve worked for or engaged with, I would have made the exact opposite argument. I thought that every member of staff should have financial rewards for performance to tie the goals of management and labor together. I now understand that the profit motive will not accomplish this tie in a real way. Only through aligning on Purpose, allowing for Autonomy, and being a place where Mastery can happen will the talents of people unite with the goals of an organization.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

There's been alot of Change in 10 years

Yesterday, upon news of the killing of Osama bin Laden, I was one of the few that wasn't jumping up and down with joy. I couldn't really wrap my finger around why I wasn't ecstatic, other than maybe it was my fear for what might happen next as an act of revenge. Maybe those feelings of anxiety out-weighed any feelings of satisfaction. Maybe it was the resurgence of all of those memories that came flooding back from that beautiful September day, when I was 9 months pregnant, still working, and on my way into the city to meet with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield at 2 WTC. Whatever it was, there was a definite somber mood to my day.

And when we experience somber moods, there sometimes comes periods of deep reflection. That was definitely the case for me. After all of the personal reflection of what changed for me in 10 years, I couldn't help but think of all that changed for our Commander in Chief, who 10 years ago was virtually an unknown. In fact, he probably watched the television that beautiful September day, much like the rest of us, hearing all of it's horror broadcast from the cable and news networks. Yet fast forward 10 years, he is the one that ends up catching the guy responsible for the atrocity. The most wanted man in the world is captured and killed on his watch. So I start to think, what did Obama do to get himself from being someone quite ordinary, to the most powerful person in the world. From someone watching the September 11th attacks on TV, to someone being responsible for capturing the mastermind in charge.

I usually leave the subject of change to my partner and friend Maureen Ennis, CEO of ColemanEnnis Consulting, but this time I must talk about it myself. How do we go from ordinary, mediocre and average to leader and master of an extraordinary life? Of course it all starts with a vision. A vision that inspires others. A vision that moves people to passionate action. That's where it starts, but its certainly not where it ends. Execution is often the part that differentiates people with great ideas and dreams, from people that transform from ordinary people to extraordinary leaders and holders of extraordinary lives.

By the way, both Maureen and I have extraordinary lives and we have it by planning strategically and executing to the best of our ability calling in trusted advisors and resources when we need to. We can be your trusted advisors and resource and help you have one too!Here's to great change for the years to come!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nothing to do with Business

This has everything to do with Humanity. An article from the Martha's Vineyard Times, a newspaper on my favorite island and favorite place on earth:

The Martha's Vineyard Times
Notes of kindness span generations and the nation
By Nelson Sigelman
Published: January 26, 2011

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It was a chance conversation between strangers in the departure terminal of Logan Airport in Boston the Sunday following Christmas. Waiting for their flight, an Island mother and her two young girls sat next to a man returning to California, carrying an unseen burden of grief.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Bailey

Judy and Bruce Bailey in a recent Christmas card.

They boarded the same plane. During the flight the children each handed Bruce Bailey a note that he tucked in his pocket unread. The plane landed, and they went their separate ways.

Later, at home in San Diego, Bruce Bailey read the notes. As the weeks passed, he wanted to contact the girls to let them know how their words and simple, unadorned kindness had eased his grief over the recent loss of his wife and had affected his outlook on life.

He knew from the notes that the girls were named Kaya and Grace. He recalled that the family said they were visiting relatives. He knew they lived on Martha's Vineyard but little else beyond the bare details of mutual loss they shared in conversation while waiting for their plane.

A lawyer by profession, first in private practice and now for the city of San Diego, Mr. Bailey called the Vineyard Haven post office. Perhaps, he thought, the postmaster in a small community would know a mother with two children named Kaya and Grace.

Postmaster Joe Massua did not. He recommended Mr. Bailey call The Martha's Vineyard Times.

A late evening call

Two weeks ago today, Mr. Bailey called The Times office. It was late. He caught a reporter on his way out the door. Mr. Bailey asked him if he could spare a few minutes to listen to his story.

He explained that eight months ago his wife had died of pancreatic cancer. "Judy and I had been married for 39 years," he said. "I met her in law school at the University of Toledo. She was one of three females in the class."

It had happened quickly. On March 9, his birthday, the doctor delivered a grim prognosis. "Two months and three days later, she passed on. Excuse me," he said as he paused a moment, "I'm still getting over this."

In December, Mr. Bailey decided to travel East for one week, a trip he described as a memorial tour. He visited New York City where through a stroke of luck he was able to get into a sold out show by trumpeter Chris Botti. Three years earlier he and his wife had seen Chris Botti together.

He spent Christmas with his relatives in Marblehead. "It was healing for me to get away," he said.

He left for the airport early that Sunday, anxious to avoid a snowstorm that was expected. The terminal was crowded as he waited for a Southwest Airlines flight to San Diego.

Mr. Bailey said he still attends counseling sessions through Hospice. "One of the things that I am getting through is not only the grieving process but where I can talk to people without crying," he said. "And I am getting there, I'm doing fine."

That Sunday

A woman with two children sat in the only empty seats, next to him. "I started talking to mom, and I don't remember her name. I know she was Italian and just a wonderful lady."

She was traveling with her daughter, Kaya, 7, and stepdaughter, Grace, 13. He thinks they said something about traveling to Carlsbad.

He learned that the woman's first husband had died suddenly a few years earlier and she had remarried a man who had lost his wife, Grace's mom, five years earlier.

"Grace was sitting on the other side of mom so I had to look around mom to say hi to Grace. And Grace said to me, 'You know, Mr. Bailey, my mom died of pancreatic cancer too, and that was five years ago.' And I said, gee you were eight years of age."

"We talked about it just briefly," he said.

The conversation was casual despite a few tears as the older man, mother, and children shared the details of their lives. After about 40 minutes, they said goodbye and boarded their plane.

Two notes

"Before the plane landed in Phoenix the two girls came up and said, 'Mr. Bailey, here,' and they handed me two notes."

He briefly looked at the notes and placed them in his pocket. Later, he caught a glimpse of the family across the luggage pickup area.

"I didn't have a chance until I got home to read them and understand what they really were," he said. He said they were both lovely notes, but Grace's in particular struck a deep chord. "That an eight-year-old who loses her mom and who is now 13 could write a letter like that to me — I was just floored by it.

"Grace's insightfulness has given direction to this 65 year old dealing with his grief," he said.

Mr. Bailey made copies of both notes and he carries both with him. He placed the originals in a memorial booklet dedicated to his wife.

Mr. Bailey, a partner in a private law firm, was in semi-retirement when he decided to take a job with the city of San Diego, which is engaged in litigation against several major companies in connection with a series of devastating wildfires.

He said he loves his new job and the direction it provides, and he wrestles with the loss he feels. But he is quick to add that he is getting through it. "I am so blessed," he said.

Asked what he would want Grace and Kaya to know when they are older, Mr. Bailey said, "What I would like them to know is that even at their young age they can help the world be a better place, and I'm a perfect example of it. They have helped me immeasurably in my outlook on getting through grief. That's what they should know.

"And if I never reach out to them, they'll never know what those simple little 40 minutes that they spent with me and their mom, and then their little notes — they'll never have an idea of how much I want to thank them and let them know that I'm making great steps forward thanks to them."

Editor's note: Mr. Bailey hopes to hear from the family. The Times will forward contact information to him.

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