Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sales Tip 1

What do you do when the prospect is a freakin' idiot?

Before you shut me down on this one consider what I am going to say.  First of all the reason I am calling this a sales tip is because I believe that if you are going to start a business or succeed in business it will be very helpful to be able to sell.

The other day my family and I were going to the Pacific Science Center to see real fragments of the Dead Sea was everybody else.  My wife and son went early and got tickets and my daughter and I rode with my mother and father-in-law.  We were trying to find a place to park.  In our quest we were driving down an alley of sorts.  From out of nowhere a fellow who was sipping on a Latte and listening to music through his headphones almost runs into our car at about the passenger door.  Once he realizes that a car is coming down the alley and he almost ran into it he yells out a few choice words and runs to catch up to us at the point the alley will enter back to a real street.  He yells something else, pounds the side of the car with his fist and as he is passing by yells a few more obscenities. 

At this point as I was sitting in the rear on the drivers side I thought I should point out the error in this guys thinking so I rolled down the window and began to explain.  This fellow apparently had just come from the Post Office at that time I didn't understand what that had to do with anything and let the fellow know.  Mind you I was not using the same type of vocabulary as this fellow.  So rather than see and understand the error of his ways this guy began to make motions indicating he wanted to share his Latte with the passengers of our car.  I saw this coming and got the window rolled back up most of the way.  My father-in-law who was driving didn't get his window back up but also the Latte wasn't aimed exactly at his window.  Splash!

Doesn't sound much like a sales situation you say?  Well here is the deal...when you are in business and dealing with anybody you will come across times that your Point of View doesn't seem to match up to the other persons point of view.  In many sales books that I have read they put a lot of effort into techniques for how to counter objections.  I suppose this works for them but for me it feels a lot like an argument and seems to be a lot like my experience with the Urbanite Latte Guy.  My advice in sales and my own personal motto has always been, "Sell to people who want to buy!"

If somebody is objecting to what I am telling them I have a few choices.  I could sit and argue with them until I ware them down, or I could move on to work with somebody that wants what I have to sell.  That simple.  Now of course in "follow-up" sales situations sometimes you have to find out a way to make things work.  In that case you are best to give up on the technique you are using and adopt a new Point of View.  I have found that the best way to get there is to ask a lot of questions.

In my Seattle experience above if we weren't in a hurry to get into the Science Center for our appointed entry time I could have gotten out of the car and offered to buy this poor deluded guy a new Latte and ask him if there was some way I could make his life more safe.  Instead I just moved on.  That is not a bad tactic in sales as well.  Just move on and find somebody that you get along with and that you enjoy working with.  Your life will be better, I guarantee your business will be better and you will have surrounded yourself with people that have a different view about sharing a cup of coffee.


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

No Power and Business Continuity

Link to Business Continuity

Recent events have once again brought up an age old issue for me.  In Washington State we recently had a pretty major storm.  On Thursday December 14 through the evening we had winds exceeding 60 MPH.  This following a month of record breaking rain fall in November.  We were recently knocked out by a snow storm but this wind storm gave us the one-two punch. 

I myself had the lights come back on December 19 but that didn't mean I could get on the Internet or use my phones.  That came back to a limited degree on December 20 (meaning it would come on then go off...then back on and so forth).  Today we seem to be doing pretty well.

In my case my cell phone was also only working in certain areas for days.  Gas stations that were able to open were over crowded and having much trouble.  Many businesses had to go to cash only and banks were only letting a few customers at a time into the building and allowing them some cash.

Today there are still people without power and other services and they may have to wait a few more days still.  I wrote an article on my website back a while ago about coming through just such disasters.  I thought I would put a link to it and maybe it will help.  There are many businesses for which this advice will come too late but hopefully there are many that it can still help.  I also put together a talk on the subject complete with PowerPoint slide show to go over some of the things people need to think about.  If you are reading this and you wish to have me come talk with your company or other group about the issue (and if you are close to Redmond, Washington) I would be happy to see if we can work out a time to talk. 

This is of course a pretty big issue for people and usually we only think about it when something bad has already happened.  I hope you think about it before then and are ready for whatever occurs.  Today there are many new options of what people can do to be prepared, things I could only dream about when the mentioned article was written. 


Monday, December 11, 2006

Being Cheap doesn't save money

You can save money by spending less to buy a quality item or service but being cheap costs!

I have worked with computers for over 20 years.  From the very beginning I enjoyed the network more than the actual hardware of a computer.  I have had a computer open and have swapped parts and upgraded memory or hard drives.  I have replaced power supply's and motherboards.  I don't like messing with hardware.  It's not because it isn't fun.  I believe it is a waste of time. 

I have always gravitated to the Administration of the Network resources.  The Network resources include hardware and software but they also include support people and end users.  The most important factor of Network Management is TIME!

Time is what is all about.  Time is worth something.  It is the only resource that I have as much of as Bill Gates.  We are exactly equal in that respect.  That's right I have as much time as the richest guy in the world.  I don't want to waste my time and I'm sure he doesn't.  I also don't want to waste other people's time.  That time, which belong to others is valuable to me as well.  In fact other people's time well used is the best way to get rich.  So if I truly value everybody's time then I need to come up with a plan that will use that time efficiently.

So if this is what I want to maximize in my management of a computer network then I have to put plans into place to make that happen.  I wrote an article back a while ago about my philosophy of network management.  I still believe everything I wrote back then. (Link to article

So the point here is that if I make the decision to be cheap and don't get the software that will do the job the fastest possible way then it is going to cost me.  If I am cheap and waste my time fixing a computer that I could replace for a few hundred dollars I am wasting a more valuable resource than silicon or money.  If I am cheap and hire people that can't do the job right then I am losing the battle against my competitors. 

Being smart and wise with my money is a great thing and extremely important.  Rich people usually are very cautious about spending the money they have.  Maybe even more so than the average person.  The only people that think rich people spend wildly are poor people, or soon to be poor people.  The rich make sure they only spend the money that is required to do the job.  But most rich people spend their money on the right things that make a difference.  They aren't cheap when it comes to critical functions.  They pay for good quality and good advice.  When they are cheap they may still be rich but it probably had a cost they wish they wouldn't have to pay.  That's how they learned what to spend on.

It doesn't pay to be cheap.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Time Traps (Book Review)

Recently read this book and very much enjoyed it.  This book is written with some very practical advice aimed directly at sales people.  Maybe you aren't a sales person but there are tips in here that can help you as well.  The book talks about some of the mistakes people make in just trying to manage all their tasks.  The biggest mistake is trying to manage all your tasks.

Yep, you heard me correct.  As he points out many of the tasks we take on whether in sales or not are tasks that are going to waste our time no matter if they take us 1 hour or 1 minute.  Even if they only take 1 minute they can still be a waste of time, because you shouldn't even be doing it in the first place.  There are a lot of things like that throughout the day.  If you took all the unimportant tasks and just threw them away how much more time would you have?  I bet you would also start looking for more to through away, or pass on to somebody else. 

One of the hard lessons in the book for me was hiring somebody to do important tasks that waste your time.  That is something that is difficult for me, as well as it was for him.  It is hard to let go, but the people who are most efficient are those that do.

One of the traps mentioned by Todd Duncan is the technology trap.  I have written a post about technology and asking "who is in control?"  I talked about the fact that we can manage our technology to our advantage or we can let it control us.  Todd makes a different statement which being a technology guy I have to disagree with a little.  He says that if it takes you a couple of hours to play with a gadget such as a PDA then it is wasting your time.  I would agree with him if every time you try to use the device you struggle for an hour just to make it function.  However if you have to spend a day to configure and learn about a new tool and that tool can end up saving you a hour a day then in my opinion it is worth the time.  Of course I have to learn how to use technology for my work but even besides that I often have to learn new things in business that will benefit me later and I am willing to make the investment to make that happen.  The key is whether the benefit is there or not.  So the author has a good point to a limit. 

Even with my one complaint about the technology thing I think this was an excellent book.  And if you say that a book subtitled "proven strategies for swamped salespeople" doesn't effect you because you are not a sales person then you will be missing out and for another thing maybe you should think of yourself as a sales person.  I do.  I perform many functions in business but rather than regret sales I actually look forward to the fact that I sell.

Read this book it could help. I will be reading it again.