Archives For December 2011

Photo Taken By Hannah Stelzl

It’s my favorite time of year – spending time with family, listening to great Christmas music, attending concerts and Christmas programs, and looking back over the year…Merry Christmas!  (Yes I am a day late – it’s been a busy week!).  If you didn’t get a copy of From Vendor to Adviser in your stocking this year – we still have a few at:

http://www.stelzl.us/vendortoadviser.asp

© 2011, David Stelzl

I have written several posts on negotiating with customer service and sales people as a way of practicing.  You can do this almost every day at home as telemarketers prey on you and your family.  It makes getting unexpected calls more interesting.  In a recent webinar on fee setting (which is also discussed in my new book, From Vendor to Adviser – #VendortoAdviser), I talk about the need to understand the value, and get to the point where your client really understands, before quoting price.  This same principle is key to the negotiating process as demonstrated on a call I had yesterday with Time Warner.  Here is what happened…

I received an unexpected call from a telemarketer selling phone, cable, and Internet packages.  He started by asking me what I do for Internet connectivity, then went to cost – how much does it cost me.  Keep in mind, this is not a return on investment sale, but rather a classic TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) sale.  When I told him, he said, “Wow, that’s high”.  His comment was not scripted which made me feel like he was actually listening to me.  This one principle kept me on the line in the midst of a busy day!

He then asked about phone and TV.  I don’t watch TV, so he went right to the phone/Internet bundle and started talking prices while mentioning faster speeds.  He did not try to argue DSL speed vs. Cable, which I have heard one too many times.  I wasn’t complaining about speed – just price.  So as long as the speed is comparable, the price is all I care about.  So where does the negotiation come in?  As soon as we started talking quote…

Once we came to the real numbers it came out that there is an installation charge of almost $100 between my two phones, fax, and Internet service.  Knowing that annuity revenue far outweighs the installation charges, I asked told, “I’m good to go if we can wave the fees”.  “Can’t do that,” he said, the people who come on site have to be paid.  But we all know that the money I pay for installation is not going directly to the installer, and there is no way the managers of that group are going to give up two phones and an Internet for $100.  I’ll be paying $100 every month from now until I die, unless a cheaper solution comes along next year, so I said, “I guarantee your manager will wave the fee to do this deal, go ask him.”  He was skeptical, but willing to go to bat for me.  Within 60 seconds we had a deal, free installation, and half my current bill, without a long term commitment!  It pays to learn what matters most when negotiating.

One more thing:  Don’t miss our Vendor to Adviser Webinar coming up December 21st – you can check to see if there are still seats open at: (CLICK HERE) – if not, get on the Waiting List!

© 2011, David Stelzl

No, I didn’t buy they Kindle, but people have been asking me to put The House & the Cloud and From Vendor to Adviser on Kindle for while now – so, I did!  If you have a hard copy of The House & the Cloud, don’t be fooled by the black cover.  It’s a new cover – one I will likely use if I ever get around to updating my book; something I hope to do this year!  You can see them online at:

1. The House & the Cloud

2. From Vendor to Adviser

Buy one and let me know how it looks…

© 2011, David Stelzl

In last week’s webinar on fee setting, one of the 5 secrets I shared had to do with understanding value before quoting a price.  By this I mean, you personally have ownership of the value your are providing and the client agrees – they too see the value.  On the call I discussed various ways to ensure this happens, along with some key technology areas that demonstrate it well.  One of these areas is security…you might have guessed if you’ve read my book, The House & the Cloud.

Upcoming Making Money with Security Workshop (Online) – Click to learn more

Why Security Does this so Well:

  • Security issues are in every company – if you can find them, most of the time they are urgent.  In a recent coaching call we were reviewing assessment results from a complementary risk analysis.  The client’s email system had been compromised and was acting as a spam relay!  What is the likelihood of closing the remediation business on this one?  100%!  In another situation the client’s report revealed no firewall – the network was actually set up to bypass the firewall!  Another 100%…and finally, I worked with a client recently only to discover that everyone in the company had full admin rights to their  database – this is a healthcare company with HIPAA requirements!  Again, there is a 100% likelihood of closing business.  Why?  Simply put, we found urgent issues and had asset owners involved.
  • Executives are still interested in security…you may not think so, but the fact that Wall Street continues to write about security tells me the readership – mostly management level people, are interested.  It’s not that hard to arrange marketing events and sales calls around educational security related material.  The success comes as sales people focus on the business aspects, not the technology itself.
  • Every technology deal has a security aspect to it – one that is central to the success of implementation.  Whether you sell unified communications, applications, core networking, storage, or specialize in managed services, security is key.  It’s a differentiator.  If your competition is selling storage, the deal is likely dependent on price.  When security enters the equation, the value equation changes.  Here, success is dependent on understanding how to weave the security story into the deal.  It’s always relevant, making it the right thing to do.

Find out more on this – join us the first week of January before things get to hectic – 3  days, 2 hours each day – online, so you don’t have to go anywhere!  Sign up here (hurry while early registration discounts apply):

Upcoming Making Money with Security Workshop (Online) – Click to learn more

© 2011, David Stelzl

Stop Wasting Time on Proposals Nobody Reads!

Sign up here: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2571952780 (December 21st at 1:00 PM)

Nothing wastes more time than writing proposals that don’t sell.  The more you write, the more time you waste…I remember some of my early proposals, crafted after lengthy documents I had seen as an IT manager.  Then one day I remembered, “I never read those things, so why would anyone read mine?”  The fact is, most of the proposals being written never get read!  Why?  Simply put, no one has time to read anything but the essentials.  What’s in your proposal that really matters?  Price, parts list, stages of a proposed project, and perhaps some dates?  These things are important.  What about the rest?  Well, perhaps there are some things in there, buried deep within your project rhetoric.

Join me next week on December 21st at 1:00 ET to talk about proposals.  I’ll be drawing from my newly published book, From Vendor to Adviser (which contains an important chapter on how to put together quality proposals.)  Here is the link – sign up now! past events have filled up quickly….

http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2571952780

© 2010, David Stelzl

When the customer says, “Can we resolve this”, don’t say “No” before checking into it!  Imagine how silly the American Express Customer Service Rep looked on a call with my daughter this morning. Last year my daughter and I approved a small purchase of a planner – not realizing that American Express was signing us up for a lifetime subscription.  After receiving a new planner in the mail this year, our statement showed up with a $40+ charge!  Wow – the price suddenly went way up.  I guess they assumed we would just let it go.

Of course we called to return it, but they the rep said “No, we can’t take it back”.  My wife overheard this and immediately jumped on the call – “So you’d rather me cancel the card and keep the planner?” she asked…”Well, well….blah blah blah, no…” She said.  Within two or three minutes we not only had a credit, but they told us to keep the planner (suddenly it’s free).  So they were right, they can’t take it back, however the credit was there, we just had to ask.  American Express gets one star for customer service on this one.  Make sure your customers are happy they are doing business with you, and when something happens that causes a customer satisfaction problem, don’t make the customer threaten to leave before responding.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Preorder Now!

I am very excited about tomorrow’s free webinar on fees!  While spreadsheets and finances are not my favorite pass time, the idea of increasing margins and cutting losses is exciting!

If you have not signed up, do it now! 

http://stelzlvendoradviser4.eventbrite.com/

I prepared 7 well kept secrets to help you change your pricing models for 2012 – and I know they will help you increase profits if you follow them closely.  Let me hint at one important pricing concept right here to get us started…

Did you know that when you discount 20% on services, you give away 40%?  It might be obvious, but tomorrow I plan to show you several simple math problems that will explain where most resellers lose money over the course of a year, and how that affects not only the bottom line, but every sales person’s personal income (and eventually your company’s ability to deliver quality service to the customer!).  I’ll show you how, and what to do about it tomorrow at 1 PM, ET.  Make sure you put this on your schedule – one hour could change your entire financial outlook for 2012…

© 2012, David Stelzl

“Have you been reading the investing forecasts for next year? The most optimistic forecasts expect more of the same—slow economic growth, a stock market that’s vulnerable to every little hiccup, continued high unemployment and a sluggish housing market.”…Dave Ramsey

I expect Dave is right, however that doesn’t mean your business can’t grow over the next twelve months. Whether you run a company, or sell for one, or are in charge of marketing, there are some simple things you can be doing to continue  steady deliberate growth.  Some things you should be considering before year end:

1. Have a Plan!  Your plan can’t just be, “We need to grow the bottom line,” or “Let’s grow 50% in the coming year.”  I see these kinds of statements all the time, and they don’t materialize.  A plan involves the primary solution areas you will focus on, marketing plans and schedules, and strategy.  Plan out marketing events and campaigns through the year, not just next month’s effort.  Consider training needs as well.  But also look at where time was wasted in 2011, what efforts failed and why, where gross profit was lost and why, what kinds of projects seem most profitable, and what client profiles are working well.  Managers and owners should be scrutinizing the team. Make sure the right people are on board, and trim non-producers.  Also, consider where each player should be focused in the coming year.  This might be a great time to consider doing a joint strategy session – I am scheduling companies right now!

2. Look at your value proposition. It might be time to invest in strategies that are driving business in this economy.  If you have been working on some area for five years and it’s not working, it might be time to move on.  Also, consider your opportunities with security.  Security offerings gave resellers an incredible boost in 2011, while other technology areas did poorly.  Consider attending my online workshop – Making Money with Security (Click for more info), in January…This program has been a game changer for many over the past seven years.

3. Build you consulting capabilities.  Learning to interview, discover, and assess is absolutely a differentiator.  Companies that just “sell products” are in trouble, unless they have something very unique to offer.  I don’t need to name names here – just look around.  If you are a typical reseller, selling the big names, you are likely seeing it too.  Your value must come from your own ability to consult and make application to the products you sell.  Big name manufacturers are not going to drive your profits in 2012.  I just completed an important book, From Vendor to Adviser, this year.  Read it…but also consider getting some training in this area.  I have been running free webinars on topics presented in this book, and have a workshop which will be announced shortly.  The goal being, to bring sales people up to speed on the skills consultants use to sell and fulfill very large projects.  Check it out here…(Click)

Don’t wait until January to plan – remember, a business without a plan, is a plan to fail.

© 2011, David Stelzl

First, don’t miss these two sessions online – this is my Christmas gift to you just for being a regular reader….

1. http://stelzlvendoradviser4.eventbrite.com/ – Setting Fees with Profit in Mind!

2. http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2571952780 – Secrets to Writing Winning Proposals (Including RFP responses)

Two areas I see even some of the most successful sales people missing on are fees and proposals.

Fees are tricky – sometimes your company sets this for you, but if you have any control over this, it’s one of the places you must master.  Too much, and the client looks at you like you’re a thief, too little and you leave money on the table or worse, discredit your own value.  I often hear the comment, “When we fix price, we lose money.”  Wow, that tells me you haven’t learned to estimate, but I will show you the secret of pricing on December 9th…there are two ways to calculate fixed price fees, then there are block time sales (which may be the thing that keeps you from really profiting the way you should be – and I’ll show you exactly why that is.)  And of course T&M, but there are two ways to do T&M, and one of them results in you taking all the risk.  I cover this in detail in my new book, From Vendor to Adviser, along with calculations and examples, so I won’t go into it here…but this is critical stuff!

Get the Book here:  www.stelzl.us/store.asp (Note: this is a preorder special – you’ll be one of the first to have it)

Then there is the proposal…I see many making one of several mistakes.  They execute the sales process perfectly, and then get to the proposal, and…well, all that effort turns into a big negotiation process, and maybe a visit to the chief purchasing officer (who, no doubt, has a degree in Negotiation Strategies!)  Who needs that at the end of a long sales cycle, and especially here at year end?  One thing  I can tell you, the meeting you have right before you write this proposal is the key to success – but there are at least eight secrets I give in my book to make this go much more smoothly.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like writing proposals – especially when they don’t close!

Here is that link again – I’ll see you on the 8th and hopefully on the 21st for the second one.  There is no cost to you, other than time, so don’t miss this.

Fees: http://stelzlvendoradviser4.eventbrite.com/

Proposals: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2571952780

© 2011, David Stelzl

Collecting Names

December 1, 2011 — Leave a comment

Don’t stop collecting names!  The success of any marketing program or sales campaign will depend on the quality of  names you have in your database.  Linkedin, Facebook, tradeshows, or free webinars, I don’t care where they come from; you need them.

When I meet someone, I want his or her card.  Everyone I meet is either a prospect, or knows of one.  Both are valid reasons to keep in touch.  Occasionally I meet people who don’t have a card on them, or at least claim they don’t.  A simple strategy helps remove this obstacle…make sure you have something of value to pass along.  If I ask you for a card, it may just mean I plan to make a sales call on you later this week, or add you to a spam list.  But if I have something of value to send you, I have created justification for my request.  I find people are more than happy to Link or hand me a card, as long as they see some personal benefit.

Once back in the office, I will immediately follow up, sending them whatever was promised, but don’t stop there.  Periodically send them information they can use to grow their business or address some personal need.  People forget over time.  In my own business, I have found that a quarterly mailing works well to keep people up to date, but not overwhelmed.  Too much, and they will be asking to unsubscribe, but too little, and they will soon forget.

On occasion, I will find I have not been in touch with someone, only to find that they don’t remember who I am.  When I finally get around to sending an update, they reply back in an irritated sort of way, wanting to know how they got on my mailing list.  I can remind them, but at this point, it is too late.

If your content is good, over time they will grow to appreciate your perspectives.  Then, when you include them in one of your events (online or in person), your chances of having them participate greatly increase.

© 2011, David Stelzl