When is Micro-Management a Good Thing?

Written by: N Nayab • Edited by: Wendy Finn
Micro management is a management by excessive control and attention to detail, where the manager maintains a constant observation on, and closely controls the work of, subordinates. Although generally a negative connotation, and doing more harm than good, micro management has its uses at times.

The Ill-Effects of Micro Management
A manager who adopts micro management concentrates decision making, and rarely delegates. They get things done from others by giving precise and specific instructions, rather than general instructions, and expect employees to follow up and report on every single matter, without taking any decisions or initiatives on their own. They expect detailed reports and following procedures to the letter, giving high-priority to the process (or the “how”) and the results (or the “what”). This usually results in not seeing the forest for the trees, and may lead to mismanagement.

Regardless of the reasons why people micro manage, and involve themselves too deeply, it sends the message of not considering the workers as capable or trustworthy. The work gets delayed as the team waits on the superior’s decision for every trivial thing, including decisions that the front line worker can make better. The result invariably is disillusionment and frustration, leading to a loss of morale, low productivity, and high turnover among the workforce.
General Causes
Reasons why people micro manage include their deep sense of emotional insecurity, and self-doubts on their competence. Such people fear that if given leeway, their subordinates would do a better job and make them redundant. They invariably take credit for things that go right, and pass the buck on subordinates not following instructions properly when things go wrong.

Another common reason is psychological, with the manager considering the subordinate (perhaps much younger in age and competence), not able to do a proper job. The transference theory of psychoanalysis draws analogies between micro management relationships and dysfunctional parent-child relationships, with the authority exhibiting hyper critical traits in both cases.

At times the reason may be the corporate culture. Many conservative organizations, usually small ones, have no systems and procedures in place and everything depends on the owner’s whims and fancies, and the manager has no choice but to apply the same whim’s and fancies onto the workers.
Uses
The ill-effects of micro management notwithstanding, it can find uses in many situations and circumstances. Such a management style works when the nature of work is hyper-critical and precise, and adherence to the set rules and procedures is of utmost importance. In such situations, the risks of non compliance might be fatal. For instance, a security background check might require following set procedures, and an employee undertaking the check applying subjective judgments. They may also take the initiative to try a different route that does not meet legal requirements, which can have serious implications. In such cases, where the procedure is as important as the result, subordinates need a constant vigil to ensure due compliance with the procedure.

Micro management finds use in certain general circumstances for a limited period, such as when a new employee lacks in sufficient skills, competencies, or experience. In such cases, managers would do well to closely monitor them until they learn the ropes and gain confidence. Similarly, new managers may tend to deeply involve themselves in a minute level of operations for a limited period, to get an understanding of what actually takes place, and gain an opportunity to involve with subordinates deeply to assess their strengths and weaknesses. The approach may also be useful during times of crisis, when the need of the hour is powerful directives, and resolving the issue requires strong leadership. Allowing autonomy at such stages may do more harm than good. As a rule of thumb, this style finds use whenever an autocratic style of leadership becomes relevant.

At times, a subordinate might demonstrate moral or ethical turpitude, and the manager, in an effort to ensure integrity, might closely monitor them, to give an opportunity to make amends before taking punitive action. Conversely, this approach finds use as a tactic for eliminating unwanted staff. The management may set unreachable standards, and then selectively invoke failure to achieve such standards as grounds for termination, or force them to quit on their own, burdened by the stressful work environment. The court may however regard such actions as constructive discharge should such employees challenge such dismissals in court.

In short, micro management works, but only when applied judiciously and with restraint, and preferably with the workforce made aware of its necessity. Managers would do well to implement it as a tool for exceptional circumstances rather than as their default operating style.

Reference
Leadership Perspectives. “Intelligent Micromanagement .” Volume 2, Issue 4. December 2008. Retrieved from http://www.pgspartners.com/images/intelligent_micromanagement.pdf on May 20, 2011.

Read more: http://www.brighthub.com/office/project-management/articles/117713.aspx#ixzz1VVmyrMy0

22 Things to Do During That Boring Conference Call

By Laura Vanderkam
Buy groceries online during boring conference calls? A few readers asked for a list of other things you can do during boring conference calls to pass the minutes and hours when you only need to pay a little bit of attention (like if someone says your name).

Despite my grocery comment, I have mixed feelings about writing such a post. Because fundamentally, if you repeatedly experience conference calls that require so little attention that you can multi-task, then why are you on them? The most productive use of your time and energy is to figure out a way to kill such calls, or pare down the invite list to only those folks who need to be there. You can also ask to shorten the time frame. Negotiate down to half an hour from an hour, and watch your life improve.

That said, we live in the real world. If you’re not going to be able to change your glut of conference calls without making choices you don’t wish to make, then here are some other ways to pass the time in a mildly productive fashion without checking Facebook (not that there’s anything wrong with that):

1. Read a novel in bite size chunks at DailyLit.com

2. Write a love letter to your spouse

3. Look at photos of major art works at Metmuseum.org

4. Schedule a mole check or other health maintenance appointment you’ve been avoiding at ZocDoc.com

5. Knit

6. Doodle

7. Make a photo book at Shutterfly or another major photo site

8. Cross off a major financial housekeeping task (like setting up automatic transfers from checking to savings)

9. Pace — it burns more calories than sitting there!

10. Do sit-ups or push-ups, or at least contract your abs

11. Challenge your notions of the universe by reading a political blog that represents views that are the polar opposite of yours

12. Read the website of a daily newspaper in a random small town you’ve never visited

13. Watch a video from the Khan Academy on a math or science topic that’s long confused you (as long as you’ve got your phone call on mute)

14. Brush up on history by reading a document you haven’t looked at since civics class (do you know what’s in the Declaration of Independence?)

15. Read poetry at the Poetry Foundation’s website

16. Send an email to an old friend asking how he’s doing

17. Clean your desk

18. Plan how you can knock an item off your List of 100 Dreams this weekend

19. Send a thank you note to someone who’s done something good for the world. Not necessarily someone famous; an under-appreciated volunteer at your church would be a good start.

20. Explore a subculture that’s completely foreign to you. I spent some time earlier this spring reading posts on chicken-raising forums. Did you know a rooster was called a “roo”?

21. Via Alice.com, make sure you never run out of toilet paper again

22. Get started on your Christmas shopping, or pick out items and cards for birthdays and schedule deliveries in advance

How do you pass the time during long conference calls? Help me get to at least 25!

Get in the habit of maintaining a positive attitude

Walter Rogers
President and CEO
Baker Communications
According to legendary New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, “90% of baseball is mental. The other half is physical.”  Clearly, Yogi – despite his fractured math – could have also been a legendary sales professional if he had wanted to be, because that is exactly the same formula that highly successful sales professionals live by every day. To be perfectly clear, there is a physical, functional, tactical side to selling. Product knowledge, presentation skills, proficiency in the use of the CRM and other Sales 2.0 strategies – these are all vital for achieving sales success. But in the end, Yogi hits the nail square on the head; the biggest key to success is 90% mental.

We all know that selling can be a tough business. When the economy is down or the competition is tough, sales professionals start hearing a lot of “Nos,” which can be devastating. It is not unusual for the average sales professional to lower their aspirations, and begin to doubt their abilities at times like this. Highly successful sales professionals, however, don’t allow temporary setbacks to define them. That is what makes them highly successful. It is also what leaves the rest of us wondering, “How do they do it?”

First of all, let’s clear about one thing: Highly successful sales professionals are human, just like everyone else. It is not that they never get frustrated or experience a let-down when a promising deal falls through; they are subject to those inner voices that try to plant discouragement and doubt, just as are we all. However, what separates highly successful sales professionals from the rest of the herd is the mental and emotional discipline they are able to bring to bear at such times that helps them to stay focused and constructive. The good news is that anyone can learn to apply this discipline and focus in their own lives, and reap the benefits as well.

To achieve Yogi’s 90% mental benchmark, highly successful sales professionals lay a strong foundation built on four solid pillars:

Believe in your product – Some sales professionals see selling as just a job. It pays the bills and it is better than being a door greeter at a discount retailer, and with that attitude, they are able to make an okay living selling anything to anyone. On the other hand, highly successful sales professionals are passionate about the products and services they sell, and are unabashedly enthusiastic about the value and benefits they bring to their customers. Yes, they also care about closing business and driving revenue, but it is also very important to them to know that what they offer their customers is exceptional in every sense of the word. The confidence they have in their product helps to motivate them, even when the market is rough, because they know they have good news for someone today.

Believe in your training – Effective training is a key component of selling success, and we are not just talking about product training or being able to run a demo. Anyone who can read a brochure or a spec sheet can come away with a decent grasp of product knowledge. What we are really talking about here is solid, in-depth training in sales process, consultative skills, customer relationship strategies, sales effectiveness with CRM, and a host of other skills and capabilities to help the sales professional feel confident in any customer-facing situation. When a sales professional receives this kind of training, and when it is reinforced by regular, focused coaching, it delivers a steady boost of positive mental energy that the highly successful sales professional can leverage to overcome temporary setbacks.

Believe in your company/organization – This is not exactly the same as believing in your product. If the company culture doesn’t have a strong commitment to treating customers well, and also treating sales professionals well, then a lot of the joy of selling evaporates as the sales professional spends too much time fighting the organization and its policies, either on behalf of himself or his customers. The resulting burn out can quickly lead to discouragement, lower productivity, and, ultimately, to the sales professional leaving the organization in search of a place where the opportunity for success on their terms is greater.

These first three pillars are certainly important keys to helping a sales professional maintain a positive attitude. If you believe in your product, your training, and your organization, then your emotional energy can be channeled into being proactive and creative in the face of market adversities, instead of being flamed off as frustration in other areas. However, these three pillars alone can’t consistently deliver a positive attitude. In many ways, the fourth pillar is the most important attitude pillar of all:

Believe in yourself – Entire books and sales courses have been built around this topic. It is huge; it is the holy grail of creating and maintaining a consistently positive mental focus. Right now we will focus on a very important principle:

Situations don’t cause emotions. It is what we believe about the situation that causes our emotions to it, and our emotions usually determine how we will react.

This is a universal principle of human behavior, but here is a very simplified example of how it applies to sales.

Bob, to sales manager: “This economy is terrible. No one is buying. My customers hate me. I can’t get past the gatekeeper at my biggest opportunity. There is too much competition. I can’t sell anything. I give up.”

Sales manager: “Really, what makes you say that?”

Bob: “Over the past week, I bet I have made 200 calls and I can’t get anyone to set an appointment. Obviously, I don’t have a chance.”

Sales manager: “Hmm, that’s odd. I was talking to Amanda this morning and she was actually excited today. She told me that, even though she had made 200 calls this week with no luck yet, she was convinced her luck was about to change. She refocused her strategy, refined her presentation, and has narrowed her target prospect set to maximize the impact of her new presentation. She was really pumped when I talked to her.”

Bob and Amanda both had the same situation: 200 calls and no appointments. Bob believed this meant there was no opportunity for him and no option but to fail, so he was ready to quit. However, Amanda, rather than blaming the economy or the prospects, believed this to be a temporary slump that could be rectified by changing her approach. To her, the situation represented an opportunity to succeed by learning something new, so she got right to work on a new strategy.

Respected motivational speaker and life coach Tony Robbins would say that Amanda has learned to “tell herself a different story” about her situation and her options. Bob looked at his slump and told himself that he was going to fail. Amanda looked at her slump and told herself that if she would change her strategy and learn to do some things differently, her chances of success would go way up. It isn’t hard to predict which story will have the happier ending.

Highly successful sales professionals never let the situation – i.e., the economy or the competition or the customer – define them or dictate their attitudes and emotions. Instead, they believe in their product, they believe in their training, they believe in their organization and – most of all – they believe in themselves and their ability to adapt, grow and learn from any situation to achieve greater success. That is the story they tell themselves, and they stick to it, no matter what.

Take me back to the ball game

Returning to the baseball metaphor in closing, what pitcher has won more games than any other pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball? The answer is Cy Young, who won an astonishing 511 games between 1890 and 1911. As a matter of fact, his name is on the award that is given every year to the best pitcher in each league. Now, this next question is a little trickier. What pitcher LOST more games than any other pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball? The answer is Cy Young! Between 1890 and 1911 the winningest pitcher in the history of baseball was also the loser a whopping 316 times! And just to add insult to injury, this pitcher — whose job it is to get people out — also gave up more hits than any other pitcher in history – 7,092 to be exact. That brings up another record held by Cy Young – most runs given up: 2,147.

Okay, so where are going with all of this? We are simply trying to point out that the most revered and honored pitcher in the history of baseball also holds all the records for being the biggest LOSER! But in baseball, just like in sales or in life, even when you lose some, you still have a chance to recover and come out a winner. Cy Young didn’t quit the game because of a few losses. He loved the game, he loved to play, and he knew he was good. But most of all, he knew that the key to being a winner is 90% mental, and went to work every day expecting to win. Highly successful sales professionals believe – and act – in exactly the same way.
Action Items:
Take an attitude inventory: On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest, do you:

Believe in your product
Believe in your training
Believe in your organization
If you score a 3 or below on any of these, you are likely to have attitude problems. If your cumulative score for all three is less than 10, you are definitely likely to have attitude problems that will make it hard for you to keep a positive mental attitude and become a highly successful sales professional.
Thought experiment: What kind of stories do you tell yourself when you hit a slump when deals aren’t closing or margins are too low? Do you make excuses, rationalize, blame the economy or the customer? What would happen if you told yourself a different story? What could you tell yourself that would help you reframe the situation and focus on actions that would lead to a different outcome?

Why Are Manholes Round? The 10 Toughest Interview Questions

By Meghan Casserly, Forbes Staff

A job interview at one of Google’s 75 campuses around the globe might seem to have more in common with pledging a secret fraternity than job-hunting. An often months-long interview process, iron-clad non-disclosure agreements and back-to-back hours of interrogation in windowless offices are a matter of course, but the added intrigue of allegedly absurd interview questions takes the experience into cloak-and-dagger territory.

Why are manhole covers round? How do you measure 4 gallons of water using only a 3 and 5 gallon jug? How many gas stations/dogs/windowpanes are there in the United States? According to career community Glassdoor.com, these are a few of the more obscure queries asked of wannabe Googlers.

You have to give it to them, the questions are creative. But are they effective in finding the right candidate? And more importantly, will answering them correctly land you a job?

“This kind of question is used to determine poise and the ability to think on one’s feet,” says Dale Austin, director of career services at Michigan’s Hope College. “But also to assess creativity and problem-solving.” In other words, Google is looking for a quick answer that proves you’re not only agile but logical, adaptable and math-minded.

That’s all well and good for the analytical minds of Googlers, but veteran Bay-area executive headhunter Chuck Pappalardo says it really all depends on what you’re looking for. For Google, whose ranks Pappalardo describes as “engineer from top to bottom,” they can prove telling. “These kinds of questions measure whether someone can work in the crazy environment [of a young tech firm] and have the right engineering background to make them a good employee. They show quick, analytical thinking, and the ability to pivot.”

But what these “trick” questions can’t highlight is a quality that Pappalardo sees as not only more human, but more vital to the majority of careers–positions where customer or client interaction is essential. That quality? Integrity.

“A good interview requires more than just good questions. It also requires a deep understanding of the traits and behaviors you’re seeking or avoiding,” he says. “By crafting questions designed to elicit “evidence” of the desired characteristics, you’re able to draw conclusions about candidates’ ability to perform in an authentic and meaningful way.”

Fine, if you’re on the questioning side of the desk. But for those of us in the hot seat, prepping for questions designed to “elicit characteristics” can be quite tricky. Pappalardo concedes they can be among the most difficult to answer, because they require much more than rattling off resume points. Here, the 10 toughest—but most telling– interview questions, and best of all…how to answer them.

1. Why is there a gap in your work history?

“Employers understand that people lose their jobs and it’s not always easy to find a new one fast,” says Susan Nethery, the director of student affairs marketing at Texas Christian University, who often advises recent grads on the interview process. When answering this question, list activities you’ve been doing during any period of unemployment. Freelance projects, volunteer work or taking care of family members all let the interviewer know that time off was spent productively.

2. Can you think of a recent problem in which old solutions wouldn’t work?

This question is seeking a creative answer. The interviewer is trying to identify how knowledgeable you are in today’s work place and what new creative ideas you have to solving problems. Ex: Your workplace swears by fax machines for signing contracts. Until the phone lines go down. Did you save the day with a scanner and an emailable .pdf? You may want to explore new technology or methods within your industry to be prepared for. Twitter-phobes, get tweeting. Stat.

3. What would the person who likes you least in the world say about you?

“The people who can’t answer this question are the people I worry most about,” says Jim Link, managing director of human resources at staffing firm Randstad. “I can honestly say I’ve never hired one of them.”

Link says that this tricky question, a twist on the “what’s your worst quality or weakness?” standby, often leads to pregnant pauses as the interviewee struggles to present an answer that won’t present them in a bad light. “I’m not saying answer it quickly, because you should definitely answer it thoroughly.” Highlight an aspect of your personality that could initially seem negative, but is ultimately a positive.  His example? Patience—or lack of it. “Used incorrectly this can be bad in a workplace. But always driving home deadlines can build your esteem as a leader.”

4. What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

“Some roles require a high degree of tenacity and the ability to pick yourself up after getting knocked down,” says Dale Austin, director of career services at Michigan’s Hope College. Providing examples of your willingness to take risks is important because it not only shows your ability to fail and rebound, but also your ability to make risky or controversial moves that succeed.

5. Have you ever had a supervisor challenge your behavior? How, and how did you manage that?

Pappalardo shares an anecdote from an interview he recently conducted. “The head of IT was rolling out a new technology to the sales team that required two days of training. He wouldn’t back down despite sales pushing back saying they couldn’t make time for it. Finally the president of the company challenged him about his actions, forced him to rethink his stance. He was a senior executive standing on propriety, not creativity.” In the end, Pappalardo says the executive rebounded and a compromise was reached—but it’s the lesson learned, not the situation, that the interviewer is looking for.

6. Describe a time when you were part of a project or planning team that could not agree…

Lynne Sarikas, director of the career center at Northeastern University’s business school, stresses that questions pertaining to difficulties in the past are a way for potential employers to anticipate your future behavior “by understanding how you behaved in the past and what you learned.” It’s important to clarify the situation succinctly, she says, to explain what specific action you took to come to a consensus with the group and describe the result of that action.

7. If you could change one thing about your last job, what would it be?

Beware oversharing or making disparaging comments about former coworkers or supervisors, as you never know what bridges you may be burning. But Taylor warns that an additional trouble point in answering this query is showing yourself to be someone who can’t vocalize their problems as soon as they arise. A good rule, she says, is to steer clear of people. Problems with technology are safe ground.

8. Explain a database in three sentences to your 8-year-old nephew.

This frequent Google question is no trick, and Taylor says it can be tailored to any sector. “Explaining public relations, explaining mortgages, explaining just about anything in terms an 8-year-old can understand shows the interviewer you have solid and adaptable understanding of what it is they do.” Do your homework, she says, “Know the industry and be well-versed.”

9. Tell me about yourself…

Seems simple, right?

It’s not. “This is difficult because people tend to meander through their whole resumes and mention personal or irrelevant information in answering,” says Dawn Chandler, professor of management at Cal Polytech’s business arm. Jana Fallon, a VP of staffing and recruitment for Prudential, agrees. “Keep your answer to a minute or two at most. Cover four topics: early years, education, work history, and recent career experience. Emphasize this last subject. Remember that this is likely to be a warm-up question. Don’t waste your best points on it.  Keep to your professional career!  (e.g., don’t cover your family life, weekend activities, pets, collections, etc.)

10. Why should we hire you?

The most overlooked question—and also the one most candidates are unprepared to answer. Chandler suggests that this is often because job applicants don’t do their homework on the position, and as a result aren’t able to pinpoint their own unique qualifications for the job. What they are really asking is why you are more qualified than everyone else. “You need to review the job description and qualifications very closely to identify the skills and knowledge that are critical to the position,” she says, “and then identify experiences from your past that demonstrate those skills and knowledge.”

Our Favorite Apps for the Mobile Sales Force

by Lauren Carlson
CRM Analyst, Software Advice

In our increasingly mobile world, applications have become an integral part of people’s lives – both personally and professionally. Many are familiar with the consumer apps available through iTunes and the Android marketplace, but we are seeing a lot of development around mobile apps in the enterprise space as well. This buzz of activity is particularly prevalent in sales, where reps are always on the go. So, we decided to highlight some of our favorite mobile apps for the mobile sales force.

Networking & Collaboration

  • Though Salesforce Chatter started as an online application, it’s move to the mobile space in fall 2010 seemed like a natural one. With the Chatter mobile app, field sales agents can still stay plugged into what’s happening at the office even when they’re a thousand miles away. With an easy-to-use, Twitter-like interface, agents can post their status updates, or even use the neat photo upload feature to share images of a whiteboard session or a competitor’s product. They can also get real-time updates from their coworkers, such as new lead information or an updated presentation. Chatter users on the iPad can actually preview slides from presentations or see them in their entirety. Price: Free. Devices: iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, and Android.
  • Business cards are great for winning free lunches, but in today’s increasingly fast-paced and paperless business world, they are losing relevance. That is why Hashable created the virtual solution to the business card: Hashable Mobile. This cool little app allows you to track everyone you meet. You simply need either an email address or Twitter handle, and the app uses Foursquare tracking technology to take care of the where and when. Once you track someone, you can set private notes to that contact, as well as reminders to follow up, which sync to your calendar and email. You can also use the app to track events such as meetings and phone calls. These, along with your follow-up reminders, get put on your to-do list, so it’s easy to stay on top of upcoming tasks. Price: Free. Devices: iPhone and Android.
  • Box.net takes document collaboration to the cloud and drops it back down to your mobile device. With Box Mobile, users can access documents, presentations, media and other files from any mobile device. This app makes it easy to organize documents and files that are integral to business operations, and then share those with colleagues. Users can edit and modify documents, leave comments, and manage document workflow by assigning tasks to colleagues. Our favorite feature is the wireless printing capability. It is only available for iPad users currently, but it allows you to print any document on an AirPrint-enabled printer, directly from the app. Price: The basic Business Package is $15/user/month. More pricing options available upon request. Devices: iPad, iPhone, Android, HP TouchPad, and any mobile browser.
  • Apple’s answer to Microsoft’s PowerPoint is now available on Apple’s mobile devices. Keynote is a very intuitive application that allows users to build impressive presentations from a mobile device. It comes with 12 pre-set templates to choose from. You can type and edit text and images, insert charts and tables, and add animations to create a visually appealing presentation. One really cool thing about the Keynote app is that you can display your presentation on your Apple device, or use a video output cable to sync it up with a projector. This way, users can cater the experience to their audience, whether it be one person or an entire auditorium. Price: $9.99. Devices: iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.
  • SlideRocket is VMware’s latest SaaS acquisition. SlideRocket is an online business presentation tool that allows users to create, edit and share presentations in the cloud. It has touchscreen navigation, and can be accessed on any mobile browser. No app download needed. Simply click the presentation URL and get started. Because it operates in the cloud, any changes made to an individual slide or presentation get updated across the system. SlideRocket is one of the most sophisticated tools in this category, with full-screen HD video and high quality digital audio that can be displayed on an iOS device or hooked up to a screen or projector to enhance the experience. One of the stand-out features is SlideRocket’s analytics. This tracks who has seen your presentations, which ones they responded best to, and what actions they took as a result. With this information, users can continue to improve their presentations in the future. Price: The Lite version is free; Pro is offered for $24 per user/month. Devices: Any iOS device.
  • Soonr has created one of the industry’s first file collaboration apps for mobile. Not only can you create and edit PowerPoint presentations, but their patented rendering technology makes it possible to access 40 different types of documents, including audio clips, word processing files, Excel spreadsheets, etc. You don’t even have to download the document to edit it. Large files can be opened in seconds, and any changes made are saved automatically because Soonr operates in the cloud. Soonr has really stepped it up with their collaboration features. Users receive SMS notifications and updates on their mobile device whenever a project has been modified or a team member has made a comment on a document. This enables the user to stay up-to-date on what is going on in the office, even when on-the-go. Price: $9.95 per user/month. Devices: iPhone, iPad, Android, Android tablets.
  • Travel & Time Management named one of the 50 best iPhone apps by CNN Money Magazine, iXpenseIt makes it easy to track daily expenses and budgeting from your mobile device. Sales people who operate on the road are constantly having to track their expenses, such as car rental, hotel stay, food, and gas/mileage. Instead of saving those receipts, you can snap a photo of them and save them on the app. This, combined with the record export feature, allows for quick expense and/or reimbursement approval. Other neat features include a built-in world currency converter, .CSV and HTML data export for easy reporting, and full text search that allows you to easily locate past records. You can also easily track your personal expenses, making iXpenseIt a great finance app for anyone on the go, whether for business or pleasure. Price: $4.99. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • One of the most stressful aspects of being a traveling salesperson is that first part: traveling. FlightTrack Pro is the most popular flight tracking app on the App Store. Users can automatically sync travel itineraries thanks to the app’s native Tripit integration. You can receive push notifications with flight changes and updates, and track all information about your flights in an easy to navigate interface. There are even advanced analytics that give you on-time probability for your flight, making it easier to plan your airport arrival time. Two of our favorite features are the flight tracking maps and the terminal maps. The flight tracking maps provide a visually stunning way to track your flight, and include radar capabilities to illustrate current weather conditions. The terminal map might just mean the difference between making or missing that connecting flight. FlightTrack Pro has detailed maps of every major airport terminal, making even the most confusing airports easily navigable. Price: $9.99. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Mobile CRM is not new for Sugar. However, in their latest release – Sugar 6.1 – they have upgraded from the browser-based application to a more sophisticated native app that is available for download via iTunes. This latest edition has greater ease of use and a more friendly interface. From the app, users can check reports, prioritize opportunities, set up meetings and manage support cases. Updated email management capabilities make it easy to send follow-up emails from your mobile device that get automatically synced up with your SugarCRM system. Another neat feature is the Twitter Connector, which allows users to manage Twitter streams without having to leave the app. Price: Free (with the Sugar Professional and Sugar Enterprise editions). Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Salesforce Mobile brings the power of Salesforce.com to your mobile device. Users can access sales performance data, as well as critical account information while on the go. Because the app operates in the cloud, new leads are automatically routed to your mobile device, and any account changes or status updates made in the field get synced back to the system in the office so your manager and team can have the most updated information on your status and progress. Our favorite feature is the customized map. Let’s say you go out to a sales call only to have the client cancel on you last minute. Salesforce Mobile’s mapping feature allows you to identify clients that are nearby, turning that potentially lost hour into an opportunity to make a sale. Price: Free. Devices: Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile.
  • CWR Mobile CRM is designed specifically for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM field sales team. Voted Microsoft’s 2011 Mobility Partner of the Year, CWR integrates directly with Dynamics CRM without the need for middleware or other third-party apps. The interface is familiar, but has been scaled down and simplified to be easily digestible on a mobile device. Customization is simple and can be modified to each person’s role. CWR Mobile CRM offers many of the same features and capabilities as it’s competitors. However, it stands out for it’s availability of deployment options. This application can be operated on nearly any mobile device. Users can access account, pipeline and performance information from the comfort of your preferred smart phone or mobile device. Price: Free. Devices: iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 6.5, Windows Phone 7, and Android.

These are just a few of our favorite apps for the mobile salesperson. Have you used any of these? Are there some that you think we should have mentioned? Let us know in the comment section below.

Are You Giving Away Your Profit?

By Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter”

Want a quick way to destroy sales motivation and profit at the same time? Picture yourself as a sales manager who suddenly receives a phone call from a salesperson who is on the verge of closing a sale.  Here’s a sample of that typical conversation:

Salesperson: “We have to cut our price to get the first order. Then, once they see what we can do for them, we will be able to raise our prices.  I’m sure once they see how good our service is, I’ll be able to convince them to pay the regular price.”

Hmmm.  Really?  I’ll let you fill in how you feel the sales manager should respond.

The sad comment is that too many times, the sales manager – after sounding tough on the telephone for 30 seconds – then gives way to the idea of lowering the price by saying something like, “Well, just this time, but we certainly can’t go making this part of our sales tactics with other customers. The only reason I’ll say ‘yes’ this time is because of how much business is at stake.”

I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard this rationalization.  Sadly, what blows me away is the number of times I have heard it when somebody is trying to land a new customer – but then I never hear from these same people a year or two later expressing what the long-term results have been.

Why do salespeople or sales managers never share with me the long-term outcome of such “price reduction” strategy?  Because it never works out the way the salesperson or the sales manager initially believes it will.

Let’s look at this from the customer’s perspective. If you bought something at one price, don’t you think you would be able to buy it again at the same price?  Sure you would.  So why do you as a salesperson think that increasing the price after the initial sale is going to go smoothly?

Cutting your price to secure the initial deal only does one thing — it takes profit out of your pocket.

Many of you are thinking that this is all right, because all that is being lost is some profit on the initial sale.  My experience is you’re giving up profit not only on the initial sale, but also on any future sales to come.

The reason is simple (so simple, in fact, that I can’t believe so many salespeople still think slashing price on the initial sale is a viable option).  The first price the customer gets is what they believe is the right price with the right value.  If the price is higher, they believe it to be unfair.

Sales motivation takes an even greater dive when the customer is ready for the next purchase, and the salesperson begins to wander down a dangerous path.  The salesperson justifies in their own mind why increasing the price is just “not the right thing to do” and will “jeopardize the long-term value of the customer.”  In the blink of an eye, with that one thought, the salesperson has committed themselves to lower profit on a going-forward basis (maybe even indefinitely. Yikes!).

As tempting as it might be to cut your price to gain a new customer, don’t do it!

If you can’t land the customer at the profit margin your business plan is built upon, then that particular customer is not worth having.  Think I’m crazy?  Run the numbers over the long-term and you will see what I mean.

To avoid being in the situation where you feel desperate to get a sale “at all costs,” here are some strategies to put in place:

First, maintain a strong pipeline of prospective customers. Discounting is far more prevalent when a salesperson believes the sale on which they are currently working is the only sale they are going to get.

Second, never attempt to close a sale until the customer has identified to you the specific objectives and you’ve had the opportunity to explore the needs they have. When the customer understands the benefits you’re helping them with and the gains they’re going to get from those benefits, then you’re in a much better position to close the sale by not having to discount your price.

Too many times, the salesperson gets taken down the price discount road only because they have not taken the time upfront to get the customer to fully explain the benefits they’re looking for.

As tempting as it can be to close a sale quickly, the pressure of the price discount is many times what emerges when you attempt to close too early.  Allow the customer to verbally describe the benefits for which they are looking. This gives you time to expand on them and, in turn, help the customer see the full value of what it is you’re offering them.

Protect your profit.  Protect your sales motivation.  Both are too valuable to toss aside, all in the name of making a sale.

Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales, and profitably build more long-term customer relationships. To find out more, visit www.TheSalesHunter.com.

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