Simple Habits = Immediate Savings!

This week’s guest blog is from Tim ‘the RoadWarrior’ Culbertson, who has 20+ years experience in business travel having done so as a Sales Executive & Sales Director for such international brands as: American Express & MoneyGram International. His travels haven taken him to all Top 50 cities & every region of the country & he’s learned that business travel can & should be an exciting adventure not simply an endurance course.

Traveling for business has never been cheap but in today’s economic climate or shrinking travel budgets it is all the more imperative to; manage, control, & reduce travel costs wherever possible.

Today I’ll share 3 easy to practice tips that focus on 3 key elements of business travel: air, car, & hotel expenses.

1ST, air is a significant cost.  For years I used to go through a travel agent but this is no longer necessary & you may quickly reserve on line & pay less doing so. My favorite is Southwest which has on line fares that may be booked 1-3 weeks in advance & these fares are not available to their reservation agents.  The discounts are essentially leisure fares not normally purchased by business travelers.  Usually, these fares were 50%-70% less the normal unrestricted fares.

Also, Southwest does not ding you with any change fees nor do they charge for checked baggage which can run as high as $100-150 per trip.  This benefit alone on 40 trips per annum is a savings of between $4,000 & $6,000.

2ND, two points on car expense.  When arriving at your originating / home airport opt for long term, remote parking versus short term & typically covered parking.  Rates for long term are almost always 50% the close in rate & you actually benefit by the exercise of walking a longer distance to the terminal. Also, many airports have shuttle service to get you to the terminal faster.  Case in point at Denver Int. Airport the remote is $10 per day or a savings of $50 for a week & based on 40 annual trips a savings of, $2,000.

On rental cars the lowest rates are either in the budget or economy class.  Often the rental agencies will have limited stock of these cars & will upgrade you to mid size or full size at your original booked price.

3RD, on hotels I recommend sticking to one or two brands.  Look on line find the property you want but call them directly & explain that you prefer staying at their property but that a sister property is available at a lower rate.  Usually, the sister property would be $20-$30 less & I’d then ask them to try & match the price.  Usually they would or meet me somewhere in between.  Using this tactic nearly always worked & I would estimate I saved my company $100-$150 per weekly.  On 40 trips in a year that savings adds up to, $4,000 to $6,000 per annum.

In conclusion each of these steps if taken & taken consistently will add up to a significant chunk of coin & currency for your business.  Good luck & Happy Trails on the Road to Success.

Sales Leaders: The 7 Things Your Sales People Must be Doing Now

There is so much talk about how to get through this difficult economy (rightfully so), but bottom line is it gets down to practicing the fundamentals.  Even sports super stars, who make millions of dollars, practice the fundamentals to get ready for the season.  Here’s a checklist from Steve McCreedy for sales leaders to insure you and your sales team are practicing the fundamentals to get through and excel in this economy.

How to Be ‘World-Class’ in the Demand Generation – By Jeff Ogden

Veteran software salespeople and consultants share their insight for improving sales efforts.

The key to being world class in B2B demand generation is this: Build a strong foundation first. Skip this step, you’re dead.

Recently, the CMO of a $108 million software firm told me his goal was to be “world class.” (He was later dismissed.)

A laudable goal, no doubt. Many CMOs and CEOs say the same thing. Everyone wants to be THE best. But it also caused me to do some deep thinking. If so many have a goal of being world-class, why do over 9 out 10 come up short?

Here are some stats that show how bad it is. (From presentation by Ardath Albee of MarketingInteractions)
• 64 percent of marketers with lead nurturing are dissatisfied with results
• Sales quota achievement is at the lowest level ever measured (CSO Insights)
• Without lead nurturing, 79 percent of leads never turn into sales opportunities
What’s going on here? If they all want to be the best, why are they performing so poorly? And why aren’t more salespeople making quota? For another experts take on the problem, please read The Unspoken ‘Real State’ of Modern B2B Demand Generation 2 of 4: Technology, Alone, Is Not Enough.

In my mind, it’s because so many companies look for the easy fix and skip the hard stuff. The article above points out that companies do the bare minimum to get marketing automation working, but not enough to provide an adequate flow of qualified sales leads.

It seems everyone wants a quick fix.
• Just buy marketing automation
• Hire a product marketing person
• Invest in search marketing
• Hire some salespeople
There’s nothing wrong with those ideas. But to become the best, you need to make a BIG commitment. You need to invest serious sweat and patience in the foundation of demand generation:
• Value proposition development—Specific business outcomes that result from the use of your products and services
• Ideal customer profiles—Who are the best prospective customers for us?
• Buyer personas—What makes them tick? What do they really care about? Where do they turn for information? (See Personas are critical, Mr./Ms. CEO for more)
• Problem to Solution story-telling—How can we tell a story about their problems and keep their attention as we show them how to solve their problems? As Ardath Albee said, “We need to answer the What’s In It For Them? question.” You also need to leverage Catch Factors to get attention and use Cliff-Hangers to hold attention (editor’s note: Credit Ardath for these terms) (See How to Use Great Story-Telling for Lead Nurturing as well as Ardath’s great book eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale for more.)
• Great Content mapped to Buyer variables—Content that is brief, interesting and
o Right format
o Right person
o Right time

Only by really working hard on understanding buyers, their issues, their problems, etc. will you have the insights to craft a world-class demand generation program. Don’t short cut this process. Nothing in life is easy.
Jeff Ogden is President of Find New Customers “Lead Generation Made Simple”. He’s also the author of two highly acclaimed white papers, How to Find New Customers and Definitive Guide to Making Quota, as well the ebook, Prospect Driven Marketing. Find New Customers helps businesses develop and implement programs to improve the way they find and acquire new customers using best practices in lead generation.
 

Phone Interviews: Five Tricks for Standing Out

Original Post: Monster.com – By NicoleWilliams.com staff

Phone interviews are a useful tool for potential employers — the conversations help screen candidates quickly and determine who’s worth a face-to-face meeting. So when you’ve sent out and uploaded your resume online, it’s essential to be ready to kick booty when the phone rings. Here’s how:

Know what you speak of: Make sure you have a copy of your resume, the cover letter you sent and the original job description in a folder near your phone. It’s also nice to add information about the company, the person who may be calling to interview you and any potential questions you know you’ll want to ask. Be sure to be armed with a pencil and paper for taking notes.

Rehearse your responses: Prep for the conversation by thinking about the job and the qualities a candidate must have. How do your strengths match up? What are your weaknesses? Anticipate questions you might be asked and consider how you’ll answer them. Bounce ideas off a friend if you’re concerned about a particular aspect of the job description or use Monster’s Advice Forums to gain information from others in that industry.

Watch your language: In a phone interview, it is important to speak slowly and clearly. Remember, the quality of your conversation and your ability to answer questions is all the interviewer has to go on over the phone. Keep the “ums,” “ahs” and “you knows” to a minimum (think about the Caroline Kennedy debacle. Don’t use slang or other informal language.

Think before you speak: Take the time you need to answer the interview questions completely and thoughtfully. Be sure not to interrupt or begin answering the question before the interviewer has finished speaking; there may be more to the question than you realize. If the interviewer calls at a time that is inconvenient for you, while you’re at work or in a noisy environment, arrange another phone meeting in the near future.

Ask for a meeting: If you feel the interview has gone well, be confident and direct enough to request a face-to-face by saying, “Would it be possible for us to meet in person and continue our conversation? I’d really like to have the opportunity to meet you.” If the interviewer says no, or shies away from making a commitment, be sure you understand what the next step will be. Will they call if they want to meet you? E-mail? If you are out of the running, will they let you know? Taking the time to close the deal proves your competence once again. Understanding the next step will help you sleep easier at night — always a good thing when you are on the job hunt.

About Nicole:

Career expert and best-selling author of Girl on Top, Nicole Williams is redefining the world of work — making it glamorous, entertaining and relevant to modern women. Nicole founded WORKS by Nicole Williams in 2006 with the vision of building the first media and content company focused on career development specifically for the highly dynamic and powerful market of young professional women. Her Web site, Nicolewilliams.com, is the go-to destination site for modern working women.

And Now For Something Completely Different (for sales)

It may be time that sales organizations re-examined a core belief that may in fact be limiting their revenue growth rather than helping it.  The question revolves around the need or practicality of having a dedicated sales force.  Tibor Shanto will state his bias right from the top, he doesn’t think it is always necessary, and he thinks there is very much room for alternatives.  In addition he also believes that success in sales come from ones ability to “sell” not their knowledge of “product”.

There are numerous functions in today’s corporations that are key, yet being executed by temps, contractors, or other non-employees.  Let’s be clear, we are not talking about people on the loading dock, but people in important functions such as finance, IT, marketing and more.  These people bring their expertise not just in their function, but they also bring a blend of “best practices” gained in their stints with other corporations they have worked with.  There are many top notch professionals in these fields who have either never worked full time for a given company, or not worked for one in many years, reason being that they have the sought after skills many companies need and are willing to pay for, even if their pay is above average, the total cost to the corporation (pensions, health care and other sundry costs considered).  So why not sales?

Tibor can hear the “Relationship” camp fidgeting, hang on, he’ll get to you here.

3 Steps You Must Follow Selling in the New Economy

This week’s guest submission is from Kraig R Brown. Kraig has spent the last 6 years as the SVP SMB Sales for Premiere Global Services, a collaboration solutions company.  He is a writer, speaker and currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife and 5 children.

Times change, landscapes change and when radical economic change happens the vehicles we used to navigate the sales terrain will need to be adapted as well.  Selling is a lot of things, but at its core, selling is all about adapting to the dynamic and colorful scenery we find ourselves in.  Remember this key point:  without historic change periodically, selling opportunities would stagnate. 

Quick History

Selling used to be a game of feet on the street.  Covering a territory meant cranking up the combustible, revving the engine- cranking cups of coffee and seeing how many firm handshakes you could get going in a day.  Then, the firm handshake was slowly being supplemented by electronic “handshakes.”

And, the landscape began to be more about what you could get done with your feet in the seat.

The phone/computer dynamic duo meant new adaptations to garner and harness the power of doing much of the legwork with your legs stuffed under the desk.  The reach improved, productivity improved, cost of selling improved- and within a few short years the paradigm of the new selling forces included electronic engines that in many cases have replaced combustible ones.

Funny how the formal college education can cross disciplines and teach you things they never intended.  I had always been fascinated with language, and during one of the drier linguistics classes I had ever endured, a small nugget somehow lodged in my mind.  Languages, they taught, like rivers, will always be on the move toward simplifying.

Over the years, this principle in nature and in economies to find the fastest and least complex route to the greatest benefit at the least overall cost is the key driver behind the latest global shock that we call a recession, but in fact, is nothing more than a natural consequence of the changes put into effect decades ago.  My grandfather used to say, “Don’t be shocked if you plant corn seeds and get corn.  Be shocked if you plant corn seeds and yield wheat.”

So How Does Selling Strategy Need to Adapt?

There are three (at least) strategies that your company needs to bridge the latest changes that have occurred.  Even more so as the new landscape day by day emerges from the dust cloud it caused to become more visible as the new economy we are selling into.

First, every company must have a technology roadmap in place that includes an integrated video strategy for almost every aspect of the prospect/client/partner relationship.  One of the missing pieces to the evolution of the transition from “feet on the street” to “feet in the seat” is the all important face to face meeting.  At the end of the day, we are human beings and connecting face to face creates a tangible connection, if not an emotional connection with the company or person we are partnering with.

Secondly, there needs to be a full court press to install the “feet in the seat” forces at the center of your selling and sales support strategy.  It continues to amaze me the lingering bias continuously directed toward ‘inside sales.’  Most savvy CEO’s long ago understood the economic potential, but combined with the video collaboration technology today, the opportunity to transform the cost of selling and take it to the next level has never been more necessary.  In this new economy, your top and bottom lines will do much better once you set the course to a mature selling model.  Does this mean that field sales are over?  No.  It means that the fulcrum has tipped once and for all in this latest shakeup, and the convergence of technology all but plays directly into the needs the organization has to do much more with much less.

Thirdly, online sales must be a growing revenue engine that is constantly developing a personality to serve and sell to the global office park.  Contrary to some belief systems, this is where selling art and selling science have a clearly marked line of demarcation.  The potential of the dot.com bust meets the opportunity of the new economy, and this just happens to be occurring as the ability to tell your story in video revolutionizes how we sell online.  What is your online revenue stream directly contributing through converted sales today, not leads?   In the new economy, companies will be looking for this critical sales channel to become the key contributor in the next few years…and video is the river that will facilitate that transformation.

I realize that there are myriads of selling giants that have myriads of ideas and thoughts on the go-forward in this post-Armageddon economy.  But I see it as all opportunity, and the really smart folks have already pulled the old oily engines out and are toying around with ones that will make the whole company go greener.

Why it Sucks to be a Natural-Born Influencer

“You are a natural-born sales person.”
“Are you in sales? You should be.”
“You could sell ice to an Eskimo.”

Long before Kelley Robertson got into sales, she heard comments like this and she always viewed them as a negative because the last thing she wanted to be was a salesperson. After all, sales people are pushy, self-serving, unconcerned with others, and focus solely on their own agenda. Right?

Many sales people are perceived as possessing the ability to manipulate a conversation so they can get their prospect or customer to agree. In fact, there are dozens of courses that teach people how to use words, questions, statements and approaches to influence someone’s decision. While Kelley finds these programs fascinating, she doesn’t believe that professional sales people need to resort to these tactics in order influence their prospects and customers.