If I gave you Job creation, 40% reduction to OPEX, & process consolidation- would you thank me?

This title makes me a laugh a bit.  Awhile back I brokered a deal that merited just that: 2 new jobs, a > than 40% reduction in marketing expenses, and 3 broken processes melted down into 1.  In an earlier post I promised a story a of jump-starting growth in a clients marginalized business.   Well, here it is….

Disclaimer- this was super rewarding to source this project and actually land it.  From day 1, the client and I shared the same vision for his company.

Let’s jump in. Some time ago, one of my Google alerts informed me a prospect had scored a new VP of Marketing.  Jumping to the clients website, I researched the VP’s background and bio, scoured his social profiles, double checked the company news and reviewed the success stories I had with similar clients.  I decided to pick up the phone and give him a call. I thought for sure I’d be getting voice-mail.  WRONG.  The phone didn’t even ring and he picked up.  To make a long introductory paragraph short, my prospect picked up, I introduced myself and congratulated him on his newly appointed position.  I then went on to ask about his departmental priorities.   I told him I figured as a new VP, he’d be sourcing methods to cut costs and grow marketing revenue.  He said by golly- that’s exactly what he planned to do.  I then proceeded to inform how one of his competitors used my software to increase customer order value and reduce the time to customer repurchase.  He liked what he heard, and we agreed to meet.

During that first meeting we talked at length about challenges his organization faced.  As I learned, his company was family ran and doing business one way for a very long time.  He was brought into the organization because sales were stagnant. The Board realized that if the company didn’t act differently, their run rate would dry up, layoffs would happen, product lines would have to divested, etc etc.  So they decided to bring in a marketing guru to help accelerate growth.

Turns out, they outsourced their marketing services and spent a boatload of money doing so.  Together, we determined if they brought services in-house, they would save a significant amount of budgeted capital.  They could reinvest opex savings into new technology and to support the growth mission.  And that’s exactly what they did.  The company took this initiative to RFP, but because my company approached him first and helped generate the in-house strategy, we essentially earned his trust and ultimately his investment.  As a result- my prospect reduced his OPEX by $415K annually, hired 2 new people, merged 3 processes into 1.  Today they operate leaner and more efficient that in the past.  They’ve also recognized close to a 20% uplift in sales.  And to add a cherry, 10 months after deployment, the cost of my software and the salaried employees who operate it, has been paid for via the uptick in sales revenue.

Like I previously mentioned, a good sales rep will figure how his solution makes an impact in the strategy & direction of his prospects business.  He may even go as far as to make assumptions how his solution will impact his client’s internal KPI’s.  As us in sales know, not all sales will be like the one outlined here, but we certainly can influence similarity.

Next topics: proactive vs reactive sales reps and difference between sales & busdev.  Stay tuned.

Not all Sales are created equal

I’m a sales guy at heart.  I love cutting deals.  I love making new relationships, defining methods to overcome challenges, and offering unique perspectives to antiquated approaches.  I read the book the Challenger Sale a little over a year ago and firmly believe that not all sales people are cut from the same cloth.  The same is true for customers.  Not all customers treat the sales process as defining moment in a business’s future.  Not all customers are created equal.  Not all sales are created equal.  

By doing this gig for over 10 years, you learn a lot.  Mostly you learn how thick your skin is because you get rejected more than you get accepted.  Another thing you learn is how different each sales situation can be, and how different clients tend to act.  Over the years, I’ve realized an overlap in character.  I’ve defined 3 types of buyers; 

1.  The “why are you different” buyer. These guys are smart.  They’ve done their research up front.  They have high ambitions of climbing the corporate ladder and taking on additional responsibility.  They know their industry and they know a good chunk about your product.  It’s said 65% of the sales process is complete before a buyer engages a sales rep.  The “WRUD” buyer makes up the lion share of the 65%. With WRUD buyers, you have a small chance to win if you play by their rules.  My advice is give these folks what they want and be snappy about it.  Try and level the playing field if you want, but you’ll run a major risk of alienating yourself from the WRUD if you push too hard attempting to seize control of the situation.  Further advice is ask the hard questions up front.  Ask why they would buy from you or anybody.  Chances are, the WRUD already has a predisposed champion in their mind…..and it will be apparent if the champion is you or not.     Summary- ask the hard questions up front, be accommodating, and move on.

2.  The second type of buyer is “my boss told me” to research vendors.  BIG warning- these people cant buy from you.  In fact, they’re probably not at all interested in you.  They’re punching a clock and cant wait until 5 pm hits because their really not engaged in their work.  Shame, but it can work in your favor.  The way you work with these types depends on their personality.    This type might be super easy to get along with, or they can be ruthlessly arrogant.  The strategy here is to win these people over and create a champion.  They may not have the audacity to lobby on your behalf as “true” champions would do, but they will share competitive details and be honest regarding the lead vendor.  Advise here is to appreciate their knowledge of competitive insight.  Further advice is to flank.  Seek out and engage with cross-departmental players and senior team-members. The more advocates you have, the better your odds.

3.  And finally, my favorite- “the strategists.”  These folks are close to the top of the ladder.  They have the most to gain and most to lose.  They’ll talk strategy.  They’ll educate you on company goals and how their department influences corporate performance.  Often, they’ll have hard numbers.  “Our annual revenue from email is X.”  “Our annual customer churn is X.”  With these people, you better step up your thought provocation.  They’re looking for you to coach them on uniqueness and different ways to approach problems.  Internally, they’re intrinsically mandated to change status quo.  Disrupt the norm.  I LOVE these types.  These types allow the sales rep to be proactive vs reactive. Advice here is to know their business and have stories of how other companies leverage your product to overcome threats and support goals.  The strategists are rare.  I’d say I run into these guys 10% of the time and I’m normally the one initializing the transformative idea.  Last bit of advice- have patience because these deals take time.  They take time, but they’re very lucrative in return.

In a future post, I’ll discuss a client that consolidated 3 methods of sending email, saved a boatload of money (>40%), streamlined operations, created 2 new jobs, and recouped almost 20% of their expenditure within 3 months of purchasing.  Stay tuned!


Running for the FUN of it!

Most people despise running.  I guess I’m not most people.  The biggest reason why running attracts me is because I own it!  I control 100% of the process- the pace, tempo, cognition, ….everything.  I’ve got the Cleveland marathon coming up in 63 days.  This morning I ran a 12.4m training run.  It was solid- stopped at m4 for water and mile 6 for a stretch.  Gobbled a larabar while running at m7 and cruised the final 5.  How about sense of accomplishment and mental focus, huh?  I did close to a half marathon this morning.  Feels great to say it.  My energy is up and I’m overtly positive in my demeanor.  5K recovery run scheduled for tomorrow.  A day off, a yoga class, and then a 10K early morning jog!  #altrazerodrop

The Thank You Economy

There’s a book out there entitled the “Thank You Economy.”  I haven’t read it because I think it speaks for itself.  But, last Friday I was in Cincinnati at a Marketing Conference.  The speaker was the lead strategist for a worldwide agency.  He spoke for close to an hour about “being authentic” in brand communications.  He gave tons of best practices and tips for marketers to better serve their audience. One point that stuck with me was his emphasis on gratitude.

A point he made was that not enough businesses say thank you to their clients.  He suggested to be more appreciative to the people you work with, work for, and the clients you serve.  Amazingly, he said with gratitude comes purpose.  If you think about that, its totally true.  Be thankful.  Find purpose.  Magical things happen when you become grateful- the efforts of others really stick out to you as going above and beyond.  Small things turn into big things.  As far as purpose, I find I’m more willing to “pay it forward,” when I see the good in the deeds of others.



Want to better the relationship? Work on yourself first with 4 resolutions.

1.  Listen.  

2.  Don’t  expect others to change.  Concern yourself only with what you can manage.

3.  Don’t react out of emotions.  

4.  Seek help.

Let me explain.

1.  Listen.  It’s easy to get offended when others express their feelings.  Too often the recipient takes feedback as a personal attack.  Many times the feedback recipient jumps in only to cut-off the person giving feedback.  This is a defense mechanism.  Rather than listening and trying to understand a viewpoint, people too easily become offended.  As the saying goes, they need to leave their ego “at the door.”  Resolution- moving forward, listen without biases.  Actively seek the other persons viewpoint.  Realize, they may air their frustrations.  Realize their condemnation is not an attack.  Rather they’re frustrated.  Accept their frustration and allow them to get it off their chest.  Finally, repeat back what you’ve heard.

2. Don’t expect others to change.  Manage what you can manage.  It’s pointless to get frustrated and expect others to do things they’re not inclined to do.  Resolution- instead of trying to change others, focus only yourself.  Example, you wanted family time but your spouse wanted to include friends.  Focus on you- you can be more flexible and accommodate a night with friends.

3.  Don’t react out of emotions.  Emotions are pointless. They do more harm than good.  Remain neutral.  Feeling irritated or getting irked?  Resolution- take a 5 second inhale and a 5 second exhale, breathing through your abdomen.  Use those ten seconds to calm yourself.  Think of the beach, remind yourself why your thankful, sing a Sheryl Crow song, whatever, just breath.  Breathe deep and compose yourself.  Breathing helps to regulate emotions.  When people feel anxious, breathing becomes erratic.  Oppositely, when people are calm, their breathing is slow & rhythmic.  If you can regulate your breathing, you can control your emotions, and you can make a better choice how to react.

4.  Seek help.  Go through your health insurance and look for behavioral counseling.  This gives a person the option to speak to a professional over the phone, or in person.  Another option is speaking to a Priest.  Your church is a great resource for counseling.  And they’ll tie the council to a higher purpose, incorporating spiritualism.  Resolution- got a smartphone?  Download your health provider’s app.  We all have our cellphone on us at all times.  This makes it easy to find and schedule.  Call your parish office during normal hours and schedule a visit on your way home.

Remember, if you really care to improve a relationship, whether personal or professional, you must focus on improving what you control.  It’s work.  But the results will be worth the effort.


7 Resolutions of Champions

Aw, yes.  2014 is upon us.  A new year, a new opportunity, a new start.  Notice the date of this writing is January 6.  6 full day’s after the 1rst.  I wanted to give myself time to let the new years nostalgia ware off before writing.  I’ve taken the holidays to catch up reading and reflection.  Upon reflection, I’ve come up with 7 Resolutions that champions should make this year.  Here they are: 

1.  Love more.  Give love and get love.  Be happy when you see your neighbor.  Be happy when your boss asks you to get something done.  Find love in everything- notice how you’ll become more optimistic about your daily tasks.

2.  Reduce debt.  Debt is dumb.  Why be a slave to debt? Lower it and start living again.

3.  Be thrifty.  $90 for a pair of Jeans?  Are you kidding?  Hit up the Salvation Army or St Vincent de Paul.  Lower your electric bill.  Cut back your TV bill by watching less and moving to a lower package.  Call your credit card and demand a lower APR.

4.  Smile at Adversity.  Adversity is a part of life.  You’re going to have some.  But- will it master you, or will you master it?  Smile when faced with a problem.  Smiling elevates your mood.   Now, that problem doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

5. Get on a schedule.  Leave work daily at 530  Put down the computer at 8.  Stop watching tv at 9. Read 30 minutes before bed.  Lights out at 1030.   Go to 7AM Mass before heading into the office.  Whatever- just find a schedule and get on a routine.  Routine= sanity.

6. Wisely use Windows of Opportunity.  You normally get up at 6, but the kids get up at 7.  Use that window to catch up on the Wall St Journal, walk the dog, respond to email.  When those WoO’s arise, seize them.  Don’t waste them by watching TV, or mindlessly surfing the internet.  Rather capitalize on the them, by acting with intention.

7.  Learn how to cook.  It’s therapeutic.  And people will like you because you feed them.

Happy 2014 everyone- gonna be blast!