Archive for May, 2010

Memorial Day – Decorations Day – A Time to Remember

Today is Memorial Day or what was formerly called Decorations Day. In my weekly business column, I discussed a little about the history of this day. This posting is more of a personal nature and not the usual sharing about sales, marketing, leadership or general business.

My father might have been a casualty of WWII, but for some reason after laying on the beach for 24 hours with his face half blow off, a bayonet in his chest and shrapnel in his legs and probably presumed dead or not worth the effort to haul his body back to the recovery vehicles, two medical corp men decided to bring him to the hospital ship. (I believe there is a lot of value in the phrase “tough dumb Swede.”) The ship went to Australia and my father was the first injured soldier off that ship even before some wounded colonels and other officers. He was flown to San Diego, CA where he spent almost 2 years in at a army hospital where they repaired the damages.

Of course his brother’s son was not so lucky. Robert Hoagland who also served in the Army died in combat in the European theater.

Many brave military men and women have given their lives in the service of this country. Some have been fortunate to survive war and return to the loving arms of their family and friends.

Today is a day to remember, to reflect about those fallen heroes who have given their lives thus allowing We the People to enjoy the freedom that our founding fathers fought so hard over 200 years ago.

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Yes Margaret There Are Metrics to Social Media & Beyond

Social media is the newest marketing vehicle. Great! Yet some of those who are engaged in  selling, social media training  and marketing in general continue to shout the cries that this activity cannot be measured.

Credit: Hastac.ning

Baloney, a real big baloney! For unless something gets measured, it cannot get managed. So, yes Margaret, there are metrics for this newest messaging platform or vehicle.

A great article on social media measurement and return on investment by Amber Naslund of Attitude Branding provided 13 truths about the metrics and the why for these.

What is interesting to note is these excuses use for not being able to measure the results from social media marketing efforts are about the same for many other initiatives or challenges in business.  For example, how many times have you heard or maybe even thought that:

  • Training and development cannot be measured?
  • Customer loyalty cannot be measured?
  • Employee loyalty cannot be measured?
  • Productivity cannot be measured?
  • Customer acquisition cost cannot be measured?
  • Sales leads costs cannot be measured?
  • Marketing actions cannot be measured?

What this really boils down to is have a belief about written goals and then an action plan to achieve those goals.

Far too many people as my friend Bill Napolitano has stated are playing Captain Wing It.  These folks, as I have often said. “are spraying and praying their actions all over the place with the hope that something will stick.” No wonder they are like all the other gray suits and never will be a Red Jacket, someone who stands out in the crowd.

Take the time to read this great post by Amber and see where else you may be making excuses as to why you cannot get the results you want. Maybe you are not investing the time to determine the metrics, monitor those numbers and analyze them for any necessary course corrections.  Remember, even Santa sometimes had to change his flight path.

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To Increase Sales May Require A Brain Correction

To increase sales may mean a brain correction in how a salesperson approaches today’s potential customers (a.k.a. qualified prospects). On Thursday, May 27, 2010, I attended a Webinar sponsored by Med Career Village where I heard Jill Konrath, author, of How to Sell to Big Companies, discuss her new book, Snap Selling.

Credit: TopNewsIn

Jill made some excellent points about “busy, crazy prospects” or buyers. These folks are the same ones identified by Michael Gerber in the E-Myth and the E-Myth Revisited only probably even busier. Sales Coaching Training Tip:  Busy crazy people are psychographics – the whys behind why people buy.

The best point she made was salespersons need to be flexible, to change their brains (think behaviors) when their qualified prospects change. I call this being ahead of the flow in my book, be the Red Jacket.

Her use of SNAP as an acronym was great as well.  When you keep your message Simple, it does sell and sells well. The human brain can only accommodate about 7 bits of information (think words). Some people can double that through the use of  “chunking.”

Of course, some sales experts may disagree with her approach because they believe in long, well crafted sales letters.  These long sales letters  may work for “unbusy” people, but my sense tells me for those higher up in the decision making process especially in larger organizations, they are not as effective as ones where simplicity rules.  Note: If you wish to learn the rest of the acronym, I suggest you buy her book, Snap Selling. And no I am not receiving any commissions. 🙂

Being flexible, open to change,  is truly a talent and one that all individuals need in today’s high pace ever evolving world. Unfortunately, most people do not know their talents and this keeps their brains working harder not smarter.

Bottom line, and that is what really counts, is to increase sales requires a reexamination of the whys (psychographics) behind the decision making process to buy your products or services.  And then understanding how your talents (think brain) work with those whys especially if they are changing.

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You Cannot Outgrow Losses – Business Building Free Webinars Series

During good and bad times, many business owners (based upon my years of experience and observations) believe that by increasing sales they can improve their bottom line.  Big misconception.  In the book, Corporate Canaries, (a real gem of a book), the author Gary Sutton devotes one entire chapter to this concept that you cannot outgrow losses.  The ability to increase sales are a must but only one size of the business equation.

To help understand what else needs to be done to work both sides of the business equation, I have joined with my strategic partner, Theresa Valade of Success Trek to co-sponsor a series of free business building Webinar.  The topics and dates are as follows:

  • Performance Appraisal – You Want Me to Do What?
  • July 15, 2010 – Thursday – 7:0o pm-8:00 pm CDT
  • July 16, 2010 – Friday – 12:00 pm-1:00 pm CDT
  • Productivity – I’m Working as Hard as I Can!
  • August 12, 2010 – Thursday – 7:0o pm-8:00 pm CDT
  • August 13, 2010 – Friday – 12:00 pm-1:00 pm CDT
  • Marketing – Zero Cost Marketing for Sales & Employee Recruitment
  • August 19, 2010 – Thursday – 7:0o pm-8:00 pm CDT
  • August 29, 2010 – Friday – 12:00 pm-1:00 pm CDT
  • Sales Training – You Hate to Sell, but You Need to Pay Your Bills
  • September 23, 2010 – Thursday – 7:0o pm-8:00 pm CDT
  • September 24, 2010 – Friday – 12:00 pm-1:00 pm CDT
  • People – Exceptional Customer Experience Accelerates Profits
  • October 14, 2010 – Thursday – 7:0o pm-8:00 pm CDT
  • October 15, 2010 – Friday – 12:00 pm-1:00 pm CDT
  • Productivity – Jump Start the New Years
  • November 11, 2010 – Thursday – 7:0o pm-8:00 pm CDT
  • November 12, 2010 – Friday – 12:00 pm-1:00 pm CDT
  • People – Turn Resolutions into Results
  • December 9, 2010 – Thursday – 7:0o pm-8:00 pm CDT
  • December 10, 2010 – Friday – 12:00 pm-1:00 pm CDT

If you are interested in any of these, you can sign up on the right hand side in the second box entitled: Free Webinars. This will take you a page on my main website, ADVANCED SYSTEMS, from which you may enter your contact information to receive notice along with all the pertinent how to information.

Remember, that the goal to increase sales along will not make you profitable especially if you are bleeding dollars in the other operational aspects of your business.

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Small Business Owners Lead the Charge to Increase Sales

Small business owners according to the Third Annual FedEx Survey will lead the charge to economic prosperity or in simply terms increase sales.  This is good news. However, the question remains will they survive in the long haul?

With the business failure rate at 50% in the first 5 years of operation and by year 10 only 10% remain (according to the SBA and SCORE), there appears to be a disconnect between being optimistic and results.

Within the FedEx Survey, one of the surprising results was specific to poor marketing decisions. Prior to the recession of 2009, 41% of the businesses were considering to increase marketing expenditures. Then with the economic downturn, some of these businesses (34%) reversed course and 31% of those polled said this decision had a negative impact on their business results and did not increase sales.  Go figure!

What this survey does reveal is marketing is still not delivering the results it should for many small business owners. In this survey, small business owners were defined as 5 to 100 employees and own firms that generate over $100,000 in annual revenue.

To be successful in leading the charge to economic recover, these key points may help:

  1. Invest the time to research your market
  2. Create a core positioning statement
  3. Understand the psychographics of why people buy
  4. Survey your customers about why they buy from you
  5. Develop a simple marketing goal driven action plan
  6. Monitor your results
  7. Ask (firmly) from any marketing firm who wants your business for specific references and what results can they guarantee

By incorporating this points into your current and future actions, should help you be the Red Jacket as well as one of the 10 who are around in 10 years.

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Marketing, Measurements, Metrics, Oh My!

Marketing, measurements and metrics remind me of the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and her fellow companions are walking through the forest saying “Lions and tiger and bears, Oh my!” The impression the viewer received was that at any moment a lion, tiger or bear could jump out and gobble Dorothy and her companions up.


In attracting attention to your products or services, your budget can quickly be gobbled up by ineffective marketing strategies and tactics. This is why it is so critical to invest the time to construct the following:

  • Core positioning statement based upon market research
  • Specific demographics and psychographics
  • Executive marketing summary
  • Written marketing action plan that is goal driven
  • Specific measurements and metrics to be validate effectiveness of all actions

A recent report from Omniture revealed some interesting statistics about the results of measuring marketing ROI – return on investment. The majority of those surveyed believe marketing ROI is important, but  only 1/3 of those have a process in place to do that. Also social media is being used by almost 70% of those surveyed and well over half have no way to measure its impact.

Online marketing is far easier to measure than other types because with the correct tools you can see the traffic to specific pages and if there is an auto-responder actually capture additional:

  • Critical contact information
  • Confirm demographics
  • Discover new psychographics

There are many free tools to keep the lions and tigers and bears from gobbling up your hard earned profits. Remember all marketing dollars come from your profits.  Some of these tools are free and are available at sites such as:

Of course there are many more because each day another tool appears to be tracking another online statistic. By returning to your marketing action plan you can determine if you need other measurements or metrics for calculating your marketing ROI. Remember, as the old saying goes:

“If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.”

So to be the red jacket in a sea of gray suits, it is absolutely necessary to determine what marketing actions you will take, how will you measure those actions and what metrics will be measured. Otherwise you may be joining Dorothy and her friends fearful of all those lions and tigers and bears, oh, my!

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How Intuition Decision Making Can Increase Sales

To increase sales is a combination of knowledge, skills, attitudes and habits. By having a clear sales process along with a solid research based marketing plan truly supports you as a professional salesperson in your daily activities. A recent report released by McKinsey looks at the 4 tests to determine the relationship between intuition (what your gut tells you) and cognitive, intellectual, fact based decision making.

Years ago one of my mentors and colleagues, Ray Overdorff shared this with me. “Given enough information, your intuitive sense is usually validated.”

The report from McKinsey provides 4 tests or criteria to help you validate your own intuition.  In today’s market, ignoring your gut can be very expensive especially when time is at a minimum. Within the report was one great quote “As a highly cerebral academic colleague recently commented, ‘I can’t see a logical flaw in what you are saying, but it gives me a queasy feeling in my stomach.’ “

That queasy feeling has been experienced by many top sales performers. From their experiences and with new knowledge, they leverage their intuitive sense within their overall decision making process to their advantage and this results in their ability to increase sales. In other words, they focus on those potential qualified customers (a.k.a. prospects) where they can earn the sale (close the sale).

An investment of time using these four tests should save you lots of time avoiding the no sales path and help you to be the Red Jacket. And using these questions may help to keep you from those few times when your intuitive sense just might be in error.

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Social Media Addiction A Reflection of the Times?

Social media addiction popped up on one of the many daily briefs I receive. The latest report can from Retrevo Gadgetology study asking social media users about their behaviors. (Note: The actual blog page was removed.

In an article in Psychology Today, entitled Social Media Addiction Engage Brain discussed several reports and appeared to look at these behaviors more from a psychological sense of community and communication.

Other social media statistics suggests that 50% of all Facebook users come back daily. So it appears there are some very real behaviors specific to people being engaged on a regular basis with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

What this means for employers is less work is being done. The mobile device now has replaced the land line phone as well as Internet (desk top based computer) as  an employee productivity distraction or obstacle. Employees will not be delivering 8 hours of work for 8 hours of pay or what used to be called 8 for 8.

One of my clients actually set a policy about cell phone use because of loss productivity. Her employees literally began going to the bathroom every 15 minutes to check their voice mails. Now if this does not sound like somewhat of an addictive behavior, it does sound like a lack of personal discipline and ethics.

Regardless if you call it an addiction (I am awaiting for the first insurance claim to be filed stating he or she is suffering documented psychological withdrawal and then for some doctor to assert this is now a disease!), a lack of self-discipline or just a sign of the times, the need to be connected 24/7 is now part of today’s workforce and society.

I have observed people:

  • Tweeting in Church
  • Writing on Facebook walls
  • Surfing the Web
  • Answering email
  • Texting

The only problem is these people were also engaged in:

  • Listening
  • Driving
  • Working on assigned tasks
  • Talking to someone else face to face

Brain research continues to demonstrate the brain is not designed to multi-task. Yes it can multi-task. However, the error rate goes up (think quality of results) the more multi-tasking going on and the time to finish also increases. Now it takes longer to do what needs to be done and there are more errors. How will that work for you or your organization?

Bottom line the need to be connected and response to a mobile device 24/7 will eventually translate into lower profits because of less efficient and effective employee productivity.  Companies will need to address this issue with policies and then enforce those rules if they want to stay with the flow of business and not fall behind.

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Sometimes The Customer Is Not the Right Fit Even When Well Qualified

To increase sales does require finding new customers or having repeat customers engage in repeat business. Yet, sometimes the fit is just not right even if the potential customer (a.k.a. prospect) is qualified by meeting these criteria:

  • Decision maker
  • Need
  • Allocated budget
  • Urgency
  • Commitment

Recently a colleague and I through a strategic alliance presented a statement of work to a small business owner who was very much the the E-Myth decision maker. He was going through a merger and acquisition process without any written strategic business plan.  Actually, he had run his company without any formalized written action plan not to mention the lack of written policies and procedures. Given the depth of this merger, I knew he had already invested thousands of dollars between legal and accounting fees.

Even though he recognized that he should have started months before during the sales presentation, he still did not take action. (My sense is level of commitment is not where he said it was.)

Yes, the financial impact was verbalized as well as several other disconnects specific to his current operations at this meeting. In fact I learned this company was bleeding all over the place and reminded me of Gary Sutton’s chapter in his book Corporate Canaries about how you cannot outgrow losses.  I truly love this gem of a book.

Given that I am not a high pressure salesperson and do follow a pretty solid sales process, I realized that this person is probably not the type of client I truly want. Even when the facts are presented, here is someone who will not take action. And if he does make a decision, he will expect immediate results even though he has sat on the sidelines for several months. Reminds me of the quote about “lack of planning” or “procrastination on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”

My father who was a professional salesperson told me many years ago that yes it would be nice to earn every sale, but sometimes that simply just does not happen even when you do everything right. This is when you need to reflect on what you could have done if anything else and then let it go as a lesson learned.

Dad’s words are very true and made me recognize once again that my best sales success is with innovative leaders (key word here is innovative) who truly want to change their team’s results. So if you fail to earn a sale (some prefer to use the phrase close a sale) then take the time to honestly review what you did and what you could have done differently. Then move on to that next potential customer with another lesson learned in your sales toolbox.

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Give Credit Where Credit Is Due If You Want to Increase Sales

Article marketing is a great way to increase sales because it is the first two steps in the sales process:

  1. Attract Attention
  2. Incite Interest

Unfortunately, this tactic can be used by others who fail to give credit where credit is due. Even though this sales blog is relatively young, it has generated considerable traffic and thanks to those who come back, read and even leave their comments both pro and con.

Sometimes people copy and paste ]intellectual property content from the thousands of blogs and article marketing directory sites.  In the majority of cases, these individuals do give credit by including the author’s name. However, there are some who fail to attribute the article to the actual author and in some cases use their name as the writer of the posting.

Recently, I came across this for one of my earlier postings.  I had written a posting about How Quickly the Lack of Business Ethics Surfaces and then discovered another blog had picked it up without credit. Beyond beyond totally unethical, it was unbelievable this site chose an article on ethics and then demonstrated being just that unethical. I did contact the blog’s owner with an email, but there was no response and sharing that site with you would only give him more traffic than he deserves.

Giving credit where credit is due is just a solid ethical business practice and life one. Acknowledging the words of others shows that you are well read, educated and someone always seeking to improve yourself. Think of this being a cyberspace handshake.

For example in my book, Be the Red Jacket, I give credit to one individual for his creation of Captain Wing It and the story surrounding this airline pilot. I had received it from one person, asked if I could use it and then she directed me to the actual author, Bill Napolitano. (To be honest, she should have put his name on the handout.) Then I contacted Bill and he gave me permission to use his intellectual property in my book.

There are other quotes I have used over the course of time. One of my favorites is by my colleague and friend, Doug Brown, who has stated “We drive by more business than we will ever get.”

Remember, the words you use can be checked out courtesy of the Internet. So if you want to increase sales, be viewed as a credible salesperson, then just simply give credit where credit is due.

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