Latest "Rules of the Road" Posts
It is tough to be in marketing these days. CMOs have the life expectancy in their position of less than 19 months….and that’s dropping. Most of them have their LinkedIn™ profile permanently up on their laptop and are updating it hourly in the hopes a headhunter will spot it. It’s not just CMOs because with every regime change, the rest of their team goes into job-security roulette, waiting to see whether the ball lands on black or red- keep your job or lose it.
How do you sell to marketing organizations if there is this constant personnel rotation and job risk? Here are some recommendations:
1. Know the person’s history – Most people in marketing speak of their resume in campaign or brand successes rather than organizations or positions. They cite the program, product or new launch for which they can take credit and will do so early and often in your conversations. Do your homework, research the profiles of the marketing professionals you are meeting, reference their successes as they relate to the work you are proposing.
2. Talk the language of their discipline – Marketing is a big umbrella. Digital, direct, advertising, promotions, PR and so on, there are a lot of disciplines. Each discipline comes with its own language. Know what the measurement language is for success for each discipline and use it in your presentations, conversations and proposals. Marketers translate new approaches and technologies in their minds back into the languages of their past successes. Do the translation for them and you will be more successful.
Rule 2: Always wear gloves at a crime scene
Rule 18: It’s better to ask forgiveness than ask permission
Rule 27: There are two ways to follow; 1. They never notice you; 2. They only notice you.
I am obsessed with NCIS right now. As a part of this top 10 show, the main character Gibbs has a list of rules by which he lives and coaches his team. Some rules are not applicable for sales teams, like Rule 9: Never Go Anywhere Without a Knife, or Rule 40: If It Seems Like Someone’s Out to Get You, They Are.
However, it made me think that there are some great maxims and rules for hunting. Gibbs already had some of them:
Gibbs Rules that work:
Rule 3: Never be unreachable
Rule 8: Never take anything for granted
Rule 15: Always work as a team
Rule 39: There is no such thing as a coincidence
Rule 45: Clean up your mess
Of course, there are some that need to be added-
Tom’s Rules for Hunting Big Sales:
- Feed your horses
- Never, ever beg
- Manage expectations on all sides
- Every deal has an eel
- Always roadmap change for the stakeholders
- Big sales are about big problems
- Get everyone’s fingerprints on the weapon before you hunt
This is an all play… I’ll take any additional recommendations that you have to add, just post them up here.
By the way, don’t forget Gibbs’ Rule 51: Sometimes you’re wrong.
* There is now an app on iPhone for Gibbs Rules called “NCIS: Gibbs Rules.” It’s free and fun.
No matter what else we’re talking about in seminars, workshops and coaching sessions, I’m always asked the same question: How do I deal with price resistance?
My answer is easy when price is the only issue. Present the buyer with the lowest price option and win the deal.
A lot of the time, however, price is not the only issue and it’s merely being used as a smoke screen. You are getting price pressure for a lot of the usual suspects that you already know—the buyer believes that they should push for lower price, uncreative people want more for less and so on.
I want to challenge you to think of price in a different way. If you are not offering a commodity, price is a byproduct of other issues. You must be clear on these issues with the prospect or client so you can get control of the price discussion.
- Price is relative to business problems. If you are selling in the iron-triangle of Service, Quality and Price, then you are not selling value that solves business problems. You are selling into a comparative matrix that boxes you into a same:same measurement with our competitors. When you solve business problems – Time, Money and Risk—then you are in a very different dialogue. An example of this comes from one of my clients. They sell programming services on a particular operating system. This typically means that they are being compared on a bid with other vendors by how many hours it takes to complete the job and what the hourly rate is.
New survey results released today by Alibaba.com found that:
- 77% of Americans believe new entrepreneurs are the key to reviving the economy;
- 42% of Americans have considered starting a business since the economic downturn, with 1 in 10 acting on the idea; and
- 55% of Americans say starting a business is something they have wanted to do.
The term “newpreneur” is a great one. It represents an entrepreneur who is using the recession as a catalyst to start a business or develop an idea. I decided I would make up my own term for what these newpreneurs want: “THRIVAVING.” It’s the combination of business surviving and business thriving.
I have spent almost my whole life either working as an entrepreneur or working with entrepreneurs. So much so that I am the featured speaker and a panel judge for Alibaba.com’s Newpreneur™ of the Year award, presented in partnership with Inc. Magazine.
We all know there are a lot of risks in being an entrepreneur, which is likely the reason only 1 out of 10 who consider taking the plunge actually get in the water. Along the way, I have gone through a lot of those risky situations and have some key principles I want to pass along to newpreneurs…
The inspiration for this post came from NPR’s “Only a Game”. While I was listening to the program that covers “sports for the rest of us,” it struck me that Hunt Big Sales should create its own set of Olympic events for large account selling. Now, these events may not be as compelling as the “competitive bird watching” or “Winnebego Backwards Blindfolded Obstacle Course Driving” that “Only a Game” covers, but since sales people are competitive by nature, I thought we would all have a good time.
A few guiding principles as we consider the proposed events:
- Large account selling is a team activity. There are no solo events.
- No commissions will be paid to winning teams, but you may receive a title-only promotion at your company.
- It is assumed that all events will take the form of some “real world” exercise. For this reason, food will need to be supplied by the contestants for themselves and the judges. Food points will be awarded and depending upon quality could make up as much as half of all points awarded.
- Neither alcohol nor caffeine will be considered “performance enhancing drugs.”
Now to the proposed events…
I just finished Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, an oldie but a goodie. It tells the story of the Oakland A’s and their manager Billy Beane’s fight against the Conventional Wisdom of professional baseball. Beane guided his team in a battle against the “system”—the well established conventions of what it takes to make a great baseball team (or a baseball team great)—and won. Beane understood that his team was not just a group of players, but a group of people whose individual skills are needed to orchestrate a win. The same can be said for your sales team. The sales person, sales manager, designers, engineers, operations and client services personnel all have a hand in hunting a big sale. It’s the combination of skills they bring to the table that will help accomplish the goal.
What can hunters learn from Beane and his team?
Go Against Conventional Wisdom (CW)
Let’s start with some of the “Conventional Wisdom” that organizations use when fielding their sales teams. Remember, these are the things you’ll be working against when putting together your team.
- “Our team must come from our industry.” I hear this statement 90+% of the time. This is true for some positions, but as I will discuss later, not all. This CW is limiting and can be expensive.
- “Have a set of deep contacts in the prospect base.” People like the idea of having access to large accounts via previous contacts, but with all the turnover and reorganization in the marketplace, this is not as valuable or as relevant as it once was.
By Tim Searcy
“. . . but nobody wants to die.” Or, so the saying goes. This is so true for all management change. I’ve been spending time with CEO’s that are frustrated with their teams. Although everyone wants to see better outcomes, the sales leadership has been unwilling to adopt behavior change. The fact is that if a company keeps using the same tools, thinking and approach, it will get the same outcome. Change requires in a word, well, change.
If you’re implementing Hunt Big Sales’ methodologies, or the concepts originally put forth in Tom Searcy’s book Whale Hunting, and are frustrated with the pace of internal adoption, consider the following three questions:
1. Have you been crystal clear about your unwavering commitment to the new sales process? Change of this nature is not collaborative throughout the organization, nor does the decision require “buy in.” This is a radically different approach to change management, but simply assuming that you’ll be able to get everyone on board diminishes the elements needed to enact revolutionary change. The only group-think that has to be done is at the very top of the organization, and that is the firm’s commitment to begin. Now, the second step of implementation requires tremendous discussion and explanation. This is about helping people understand, “why?” In tough times like the current recession, it is possible that the reason is as simple as survival.
2. Do you have a step-by-step time line for implementation? In my client experience, it is wise to understand that everything cannot all happen at once.
“Trading up” is a term I’ve been hearing a lot lately in the marketplace. CXOs are looking to improve the quality of their talent, so they’re replacing low producers in every field with stronger people. And they can. There’s a lot of talent on the sidelines—good talent. However, other companies are doing the same thing, which means shedding their lowest producers and filling the job market with fodder.
Why is it that sometimes the best sales production you get out of a sales person is when he/she is selling himself/herself for a new job? I’ve often noticed that it’s not only the best sales production you get; it’s the ONLY sales production you get.
If you’re trading up, you’ll want to consider the questions you’re asking in the interview so that you truly do have the opportunity to trade up…and not just trade out. Here are a few questions that will help you guage candidates’ sales production and the type of sales cycle they’ll likely excel with…
We believe it’s important to keep score…
Because our business revenue cycles run in four-month increments, we count on the trimester and we just finished our counting.
Using the HBS system, strategies and techniques for large account selling, our clients and friends have closed $171,000,000 in new business in the first four months of the year! That is fantastic and we want to say CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who landed big new deals in this first trimester! There were new sales from $100,000 in the list all the way to just over $100,000,000, a very broad range indeed. This new addition brings the system’s total to over $2.6 Billion in new sales!
We want to get better at keeping score, so we are reaching out to the readers of this blog, the website, Twitter and my newsletter to let us know when you land a deal and feel that in any way our system, thoughts and approaches have aided in winning that new sale. Send me an email letting me know what you landed and how big it is to your company. We will then add you to the score.
Again, congratulations to the big hunters in this first trimester! Listen to the podcasts in the upcoming months because some of the people who have landed the big deals, including the $100M+ deal, will be featured.
In her book On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross addresses outlines the five-stage process through which people deal with life tragedies:
On a slightly less depressing note, I’ve been noticing similar stages of grieving within big companies as they deal with the recession, specifically in terms of how they’re buying:
1. Freeze buying
2. Squeeze vendors
3. Look for trade offs
4. Buy for value
This isn’t scientific; it just represents some observations I’ve had in the last six months. I think one of the key findings of Kubler-Ross was that those who grieve can move back and forth between stages during the course of their journey towards acceptance. The same thing is happening to businesses—you see them move forward and backwards between the various stages, but I’m starting to see them move slowly through the cycle (even though we still seem to be a ways a way from stage 4).
Currently, the conversations I’ve been having are regarding Trade-Offs. Big companies are working through the trade-offs between what they are willing to pay and accept in performance with what they can receive in function and value. The trade-offs that I am seeing are…