Blog Archive

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Finding Balance Between Machetes and Tweezers

As a channel marketer I am running at least ten programs, five communications, three events, two trainings, five campaigns, ongoing tin-cupping, housekeeping, politics and reporting activities for multiple supplier lines to 400 resellers on an ongoing basis. It is my love and my passion.

I have no problem studying the problem, visualizing the solution, thinking through the process, putting the pieces together, hiring the right vendors, executing and showing ROI. I enjoy the challenge of traversing stakeholders, recruiting champions, kicking through progress dams (human, technological or process), dealing with the daily surprises and problems.

My personal challenge has to do with “right brain versus left brain” time management. The balancing act between due diligence and execution. Deciding which activities to invest due diligence in order to properly research (Survey Monkey), enlist champions, obtain funding (MS PPT), prove ROI (Excel/SAP) and planning (Visio/MS Project), communicate it (Outlook/meetings), create RFPS, read SOWs, negotiate contracts, and then execute.  Or just leverage my experience and reputation and “get it done.”

I know logically that the more work I do on the front-end, the less time I will be required to spend executing through the project life-cycle. Every textbook preaches the wisdom of planning before execution. I find myself (in the heat of battle) challenged to keep all the balls up in the air, while pushing that big rock up the hill.

To summarize my two biggest challenges are:
1. The optimum amount of time to spend preparing versus executing, multiplied by dozens of tasksthat we only have 12 hours in a day to accomplish. Then invariably daily fires will arise that consume the bandwidth needed to course correct through the program lifecycle in a proactive manner.

2. The right mix of managing the right tools at the time (machete versus tweezers, leadership style versus management style, planning time versus execution). I start out with the best intention, then as multiple fires start I find myself taking shortcuts.  Some necessary, some not so much.

I switch back and forth intuitively currently, but I will work to develop and define a methodology for optimizing the ongoing trade-offs.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Today I consulted with a fortune 500 marketing team that wanted me to help them develop a demand generation activity for sales reps for one of their new customers. They wanted me to help them develop something so great they could present it to their customer and the customer would fall in love with it.

I asked them some basic information about the customer and found out they had not talked to their customer yet about this (field of dreams marketing). They did not know if the company’s reps preferred events, leads, appointments. They were not sure of that company’s current target end-user or their budget.

I suggested they go back to the firm and find out everything they could about how they would prefer to go to market, their budget, their bandwidth. Who they sell to, how, when, where, etc. Once they have collected all that to come back and we could begin putting something together.

I am constantly amazed at the number of marketing professionals that know full well not to engage in “spray and pray” marketing, but attempt it with their own customers. Always do your homework! Think through your process from beginning to end before you ever lift a finger to execute. You will not regret it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sales and Marketing Resources

Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeff Gitomer
Marketing for Dummies, by Alexander Hiam
Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way, by Micheaul J. Webb
Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, by Brian Carol
Mastering the Game: The Human Edge in Sales and Marketing, by Kerry L Johnson
How to Make Hot Cold Calls, by Steven Schwartz
How Winners Sell: 21 Proven Strategies to Outsell Your Competition and Win the Big Sale, by Dave Stein
Customer Centric Selling, by Michael Bosworth and John Holland
Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, by Harvey Mackay
Mastering the Complex Sale: How to Compete and Win When the Stakes are High! by Jeff Thull:
The Web Guru Guide by Josh B Dolin

Blogs and Links
· An Entrepreneur’s Life
· B2Blog
· Better Closer
· Brian Carol’s B2B Lead Generation Blog:
· Buzz Marketing for Technology
· CRM Mastery E-Journal
Cubicle Chronicles
· Duct Tape Marketing Weblog
· Email Marketing Best Practices Blog

· Jeffrey Gitomer Blog

· Marketing Experiments Blog
· Marketing Interactions
· Modern B2B Marketing Blog
· Online Marketing SEO Blog
· RainMaker Blog
· Search Engine Journal
· Selling to Big Companies Blog
· SellingPower blog
· Strategic Public Relations
· The Innovative Marketer
· The Virtual Handshake Blog

Consultative Selling Workshops and Tools

A Fluent Vision L.L.C.
Jeffrey Gitomer –TrainOne  
Mercuri International  
Performance Methods Inc.

Finishing my MBA in Intl Management with an emphasis in Marketing

Sorry for the long pause in the writing of my blogs. Several of you have hit me up at work and asked me why they stopped (who would have guessed anyone was reading these things).

I won the University of Phoenix "Finish Strong" Scholarship and received a full ride for my MBA. They also threw in a concentration in Marketing for me, which was very generous of UOP, but will require that I take another five classes. While I really appreciate the scholarship, I realized at some point that by winning I would actually have to buckle down and do school work again. So, back to college I went. :)

I am in my final class now and feel like I have the bandwidth again to start doing some of the other things I enjoy doing such as this blog.

It has been a great year since my last blog in Oct 2010:

· I won three Avnet Marketing Awards (MAC Awards) for various NetApp related programs in Oct 2010.

· My Quantum Leap Program won a BMA Award in July 2011

· I just won another four MAC awards for NetApp related campaigns and programs in Oct 2011.

· I started playing in three great bands. See  for details.

I will start posting again and look forward to your feedback.

Thanks for following!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Common Marketing Language (part 2)

Business Terms

Bottom line and “net-net”

“The bottom line” is that line in a financial statement that shows net income or loss. On an income statement, “Net Income” is physically located at the very bottom of the form and is the last line on the form, thus it gets it’s name “the bottom line.” Net income (the bottom line) is the final accounting showing company profit or loss. The bottom line has come to mean “the final word on the subject” “get to the point,” or “I am about to say the only part of my long winded sales pitch that you will actually care about." Bottom line should not be used in formal business accounting communication as it is a somewhat vague term when used in that context.

“Net-net” means to get to the point or “the bottom line”. It is the net result after removing all unimportant details. I may be over-thinking it, but I tend to use “the bottom line” when talking about reducing all the details for one subject. When providing a summary of multiple concepts and “giving the bottom line of several bottom lines,” the final result of those combined concepts would be “net-net.”

If a rep feels that a long-winded buildup is necessary in a consultative sale, you are either talking to the wrong person or have not done your homework. Your goal is to consult with a decision maker regarding the things that person is responsible for. If you are talking “speeds and feeds” to a CFO you are having the wrong conversation with the wrong person. If your bottom line is increasing their bottom line a long-winded build up will not be necessary. You are in the right place having the right conversation with the right person.

Sales Enablement

Sales Enablement is providing the tools and techonlogy your sales force needs to be successful. When a successful lead puts your rep in the right place with the right message at the right time; sales enablement puts the the right information in the most useable format into the reps hands at the right time. They are the tools your rep will need to execute a successful consultative sale. Traditionally, marketing would throw a lead over the fence and expect the rep to pick up the ball and run with it. If you think about it though, the marketing person already has done much of the research and has obtained much of the enabling information the rep will need to approach the prospect intelligentally. They just need to get that information into the reps hands in a format they can use.

Marketing can provide enablement material in a general fashion: sales content, collateral, case studies, competitive information, best practices, product and solution materials. Taking enablement to the next step for a consulatative sales rep would include: key financial information, identifying: decisionmakers, projects, champions, internal politics, determining that there is a budget and timeframe for purchase and that the interest for the meeting matches your offering. Basically, to really enable a consulattive sales rep you want to provide a sales ready leat (BANT) and the information about that lead that will help them close the deal.

KPIs - Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators “KPIs” are a measure of performance for a company or group within a company. KPIs can be hard to measure compared to units produced or dollars saved but are key to a company’s success. As an example if your Board of Directors suggest to your CEO that the company must increase wallet share, cut costs, improve employee moral and become the leading company in your industry, some of these things are easier to measure than others. These would be the KPIs for the company that the Board wants to see the CEO deliver. It is how they will measure success. Successful movement toward these long-term organizational goals over a specific period of time defines how valuable the CEO is to the Board. The act of monitoring KPIs in real-time is known as business activity monitoring (BAM). This is where you will find the details regarding measurement, ROI, timeframes, decisionmakers…BANT stuff.

Why consultative sales people care...
When approaching a consultative sale, identify the company’s KPIs. You can bet these are the CEO’s performance goals, and that each affected department will have measurable performance goas in place that will roll up to help achieve the KPIs. You can also bet that the company has estimated what the proposed benefit will be for achieving the department goals and how they roll up to achieve the company KPIs. Improved productivity, cost cutting, improved profitability, increasing wallet share and improved rank in their industry all have a specific dollar value attached. Most consultative sales reps will talk in broad terms about putting a system in place that can help obtain desired results. If you can take this to a granular level and identify the tasks each effected employee currently does, figure out improved ways of doing it, roll it up to achieve department goals and then the CEO’s KPIs then you can determine ROI from the stated KPI benefit (which are always overstated) vs. the cost of your offering. You now have ROI and executive support. Pretty cool!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Common Marketing Language...and some definitions

A Common Marketing Language (part 1)

First let’s discuss some marketing basics so we are speaking the same language (and feel free to call me on anything you do not agree with). Marketing is such a huge area and means so many things to so many different people. At the end of the day, I would like to walk away with a consensus that provides the “groupthink” perspective on the various subjects we want to explore. Also, feel free to comment on any additional commonly misunderstood marketing topics you have come across.

1. A Definition of Marketing

At the most basic level I believe marketing is “anything and everything you can do to help your sales team sell”. This includes: making their selling easier (market awareness, sales tools/kits/collateral, training, certifications), selling faster (door openers, more qualified sales engagements, compelling product positioning, competitive differentiation) and helping them sell more (lead nurturing, better processes, enablement to present the right product message in the right place, at the right time, to the right person. (BANT qualified leads).

2. Marketing Terms and Definition

BANT Qualified Lead

A BANT qualified lead suggests the prospect you are talking to has:
Budget (There is a project with a designated budget),

Authority (they are a decision maker or at least an influencer on the project),

Need (they actually need or are looking for what your rep sells)

Timeframe (planned timeframe in which the project will be started)

Basically this is a “real” sales opportunity. If a lead is BANT qualified you have put your sales rep in the right place, at the right time, talking to the right person, about the right thing.


Closed Loop Sales and Marketing

Monitoring the life of a lead in all its possible outcomes and acting optimally throughout its lifecycle. I.e. Lead entered in CRM by marketing, followed up by sales rep, determined “not ready to buy”, nurtured by marketing until ready to buy, followed up again by sales rep, sales lost, reason for lost sale determined and reported, information flows back to marketing where where it can create better campaigns based on updated data.

On the marketing side we focus on launching and executing the activity that will hopefully lead to interest and orders. We compile research, customer data, demographics, results, BANT criteria resulting opportunities and whom they were funneled out to. On the sales side they see some of your information (the more the better) and have time to digest some of it. They track the stage of the opportunity (new, assess, design propose, closed won, closed lost, or call back later). They track the opportunity dollar amount by estimating in the early stages and looking at the proposal amount or closed order amount in later stages.

A closed loop system allows information to flow between your Marketing system and your CRM system so marketing can evaluate its effectiveness, adjust where needed and provide more value. Marketing can take deals that did not buy today and continue to maintain a relationship (lead nurturing) so the prospect will buy from your rep when they are finally ready. Marketing typically has various investors and interested parties looking for ROI for their investment and chasing down that information can become a full time job in itself. On the sales side there is a requirement to obtain the most useful ongoing touches and as much useful information as possible when going back into the account to follow-up.

Many marketing and sales systems do not provide the 360-degree view needed for the sales and marketing teams to work together to most effectively turn prospects into customers and report that success to necessary constituents.

Consultative Selling

Is focused on:
· Working with the customer to understand their goals, objectives, and challenges.
· Taking that information back to an expert team to determine the optimum solution.
· Explaining the solution in a manner that addresses each of the key influencers in their own language.

There are many formulas, acronyms and methods to help sales reps learn and remember all the steps in a consultative sales engagement, but these are the main three areas in which consultative sales reps are typically trained.

Demand Generation a.k.a. "Demand Gen"

Conducted to bring awareness and interest of your companiy’s offering. A good demand generation effort from the prospect’s side matches the propsect’s need to an offering that fullfills their requirements. An ideal demand generation effort for your sales rep perspective is one that puts them in front of the right person at the right time with the right offering to provide a service that pays them.

Commonly used in business to business, business to government, or longer sales cycle business to consumer sales cycles, demand generation involves multiple areas of marketing and is really the marriage of marketing programs coupled with a structured sales process.

FUD – fear, uncertainty and doubt

Where you are selling fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) you are trying to play on your propsect’s FUD to “scare” them into buying your product or service. Many reps are good at twisting a prospect’s perception of a situation to convince the propsect that whatever they are selling will save their carreer, life, sex appeal or marriage. The more knowledgeable your propsect is about their situation, the less sucessful this method will be. Companies selling tasers during riots may do well with this method, but if you paint an inaccurate “doom and gloom” scenario to someone who knows better, you loose all credability as a marketing or sales rep.

There is a difference between apprising a propsect of the facts that will help them avoid danger that they may not have otherwise been aware of (education = good) and painting a worst-case scenario to manipulate them into buying (FUD = questionable).

Lead Nurturing

Maintaining contact with a prospect that is not buying from you today, but which you believe may have a need for you in the future. Marketing can put processes in place that continue to follow up in a meaningful way until the prospect is ready to talk with the sales rep. There is a BIG difference between spamming and nurturing an opportunity. The more customized your subsequent follow-ups are, the more well received your efforts will be and the more likely your communication effort will put your reps at the right place, with the right message, at the right time to close the deal.

Sometimes marketing just gets there too early or sometimes the rep can see that the prospect will be ready at a later date. When there is a closed loop process in place marketing can take this activity on for the sales rep. When there is no process in place the rep must constantly remember to continue to follow up with the prospect until they are ready. Most sales reps do not have the time to do this and are not able to provide the most polished and relevant information on a regular basis.

Speeds and Feeds

In a technical sale this is a case of the sales rep trying to focus on product features and benefits to impress the prospect. The words “technobabble” and “geek speak” come to mind. When this is done with little regard for the needs and interests of the person in front of you it falls into the “spray and pray” or “field of dreams” marketing categories. This technical barrage of facts and figures about your offering is meant to impress the prospect with “how fast” your product cycles or “how much pipe it can push.” Since competitive products typically leapfrog over one another every six months, counting on speeds and feed can work against you as competitors come out with new features and benefits. A better approach is to find out what your prospect needs (even at levels deeper than they do themselves) and match them to the offering that best solves their problem.

An onslaught of technical facts about your offering probably will not impress the “C” level person you are in the room with anyway unless they happen to be the CTO or CIO. Trying to establish a competitive advantage based on “speeds and feeds” shows you know a lot about your product, but probably is your way of filling the void left from not knowing your prospect. As stated earlier competitive advantage based only on today’s processing speed of low cost of disk space leaves you with nothing to say every six months when the competition comes out with their faster model, however focusing on the customer’s issues and solving their business problems never becomes a dated and limiting approach. This is the difference between selling “speeds and feeds” and a more consultative approach.

Additionally we all know that you want to meet with decision makers as high up the food chain as possible (where the approvers and check signers live). When you speak to a decision maker who does not understand or care about what you are saying, they will invariably push you off to the person in their company you sound the most like (especially if they have no idea what you are talking about). If you do not wish to be herded off to a lower level engineer to argue “feeds and speeds” or to try to convince a worker bee that your application is better than the one they are using, then to try to climb you way back to the decision maker at a later date, you need to focus on solving the problems that interest the person you are meeting with. How do you determine what that is? Listen to them and study them. Typically a “C” or “VP” level individual is much more interested in addressing their: KPIs, ROI, bottom line, top line, profitability, cost control, compliance, competition, or their board of directors. Bottom line…you should be speaking their language

“Spray and Pray”
 The closer you get to the decisionmaker within a company the less time or patience they have for this type of marketing or selling. It is the opposite consultative selling.

Spray and pray, from a marketing perspective, is conducting a campaign to the masses in hopes of having a small number of them care enough about what you are selling to contact you to hear more. This is the opposite of targeted marketing, in which you are sending information to the select group you believe will care or benefit from your message.

This is not an ideal lead generating scenario for a consultitave sales rep unless you somehow collect information from the “spamee.” The reps do not have the time to research, qualify and then explain to a large number of prospects information and relevance that (had your campaign been conducted correctly) should have been handled by marketing in the first place. The more targeted your audience is, the better you explain your offering, and the better you qualify in advance for the consultative rep, the more meaningful the engagement will be for both parties.

 Spray and pray marketing is fine for younger reps searching for any contact with a potential prospect to practice their pitch. It is, however, a complete waste of time for more senior consultative sales reps.

From a sales perspective “spray and pray” happens when a rep has not taken the time to determine exactly what aspects of thier offering would be most valuable to the prospect and proceeds with a “canned” sales pitch or script that they hope will have some relevance to the propsect. Unless your company is offering the fountain of youth in a can, it is rare that every company is an ideal candidate or that every person you talk to in that company will respond to the same features and benefits of your offering. We have all been on the receiving end of an eager sales rep trying to drone on about their product before finding out if you need, want or care about what they are selling.

Future Topics:

A Common Marketing Language (part 2)

Business terms sales and marketing should be familiar with...
  • Bottom line
  • Compliance
  • Cost control
  • KPIs - Key Performance Indicators
  • Profitability
  • Top line

 Consultative Marketing

 “Field of Dreams” Marketing or engineering
 ROI – Return on Investment
 Sales Cycle
Viral Marketing

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why Marketing to the Consultative Sale?

We’ve all been inundated with information, training and demand for consultative sales. There are literally hundreds of classes, methods and approaches to teaching sales reps how to sell in a more consultative fashion. The quest to earn “Trusted Advisor” status is so overstated as to almost be a cliché, but the number of reps actually able to serve in this fashion is a small elite group at any company. Even more rare, and more valuable in my opinion, are marketing professionals working specifically with consultative selling in mind. Marketing for a consultative sale is a very different activity from any other marketing focus. Teaching you how to build marketing programs for these elite consultative sales reps will be the focus of this blog.

Sales reps selling in a consultative fashion are typically your company’s “elephant hunters,” who have several accounts already earning them the bulk of their commission, but who are also forward thinking and motivated enough to get off their butts to go hunting for fresh game. This caliber of sales professional does not have the time or desire to participate in “spray and pray” or otherwise unqualified sales engagements. Junior reps appreciate “warm” opportunities to build their pipe and hone their skills, which is what most marketing programs provide. A consultative caliber of rep is a valuable company resource and simply does not have the bandwidth to participate in anything but the most well thought out and productive sales engagements. This caliber of individual always takes the time to research each opportunity thoroughly in an effort to earn “trusted advisor” status with each prospective client. This rep probably ignores the majority of initiatives coming out of your marketing department because there is little reason to believe they be relevant.

The more you can do to properly qualify prospects and prepare your elephant hunters for the opportunities you provide them, the more respect they will have for you, and more likely they will be to participate in and support your efforts moving forward. The support of the most successful sales reps is crucial for your success as a marketing professional within your organization. Any good marketing manager needs the support of their most senior sales reps to maintain the ROI needed to continue to obtain funding, to ensure positive feedback from sales about your initiatives, to obtain good reviews and promotions, and to secure high levels of participation from the entire sales team.

Once you have the respect and enthusiasm of your highest performing sales reps, the rest of sale team will beat a path to your door. Consultative marketing, however, is not the best vehicle for every sales rep. The majority of your team will be happy with more traditional marketing programs:; those selling product “features and benefits,” those who play the numbers (sheer number of attempts), spray and pray marketing to open doors and the like. I would go so far as to say that these non-consultative sales reps have no business in front of a “C” level prospect (VP, COO, CEO, etc.) and they are best served through old-fashioned marketing programs.