Archives For January 2012

Guatemala City: Day 1

January 31, 2012 — Leave a comment

I arrived yesterday after connecting in Houston. Guatemala is a lot different than I expected, with it’s mountainous terrain and volcanoes – pictured left.  The weather is great in this city, which sits about a mile above sea-level.  My client tells me they don’t need heat or air conditioning in their homes.  It’s just perfect all year around.  Last night we dined at a nearby upscale restaurant, where we discussed some of the history as well as how my client’s came to be here.  I am looking forward to our sessions on Tuesday as we take their sales team through the Making Money w/ Security workshop.

PS. Don’t forget, I have a live Webex based sales training program coming up later this month.  You can sign up here: (CLICK)

 

© 2012, David Stelzl

First, I have just announced a free webinar – Unlocking the Secrets of Event Marketing…this is online and free, but I only have a limited number of seats left.  Feb 7th – read more and sign up here! (CLICK)

Also, we have scheduled another online Making Money with Security Class.  I recently received an email from a rep who used this material to take his career up to one of the top two sales people in his global firm.  In his email he makes the statement, “This was life changing!”  Don’t miss this…we are half full and early sign-up discounts end on Feb 4th. Read more and sign up here (CLICK)

 

© 2012, David Stelzl

In yesterday’s post I wrote about list building, as my children diligently work to increase their marketing reach – but how exactly do you grab the attention of new people?

The best way to make an immediate connection is to have something of value to offer.  In the case of my children, they are offering a way to avoid having to think too hard about what to do for the holidays (in this case, what to give a loved one for Valentine’s Day).  Having a handy picture of the treats they sell makes this possible.  Originally my daughter wanted to just list the items, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and the emotional impact of seeing delicious chocolate does wonders for the person considering a purchase.  They must to be able to picture what they are paying for – in fact you want them to be able to picture the experience of handing this gift to their loved one, and receiving praise for having done something really special.

Connecting with a businessperson is no different.  Everyone is looking to succeed in what they are already doing; they are not thinking about helping you make your number.  Do you see the difference?  I think more sales people are out there expecting people to drop what they are doing in order to take a look at some new products or services.  This isn’t the way busy people operate.  They all have jobs; busy jobs; demanding jobs.  No one has time to stop and take a look, and no one really cares about helping you make your number, at least at this point in the relationship.  So what do you have that helps them?  Find out what they are doing and then join them in helping achieve it.

I was talking with a client the other day about partnering with a certain manufacturer.  We were discussing the value of some of these relationships, and comparing them to the lack of value in other reseller relationships.  I mentioned another client of mine who has no full time sales people.  “How do they do it?”, he asked.  They are getting leads from their primary vendor partner.  “How?” he pressed.  “They have become the go-to provider in this city,” I answered.  We then went on to talk through some of his partners.  His technical group has made most of the decisions, purely on features, as to what they sell, but this is not the only qualification.  Vendor partners need to be just that, partners.  In order for that to happen, you must find out what they are doing and join them.  Find out what their numbers are, where they are making their money, and where they are missing.  Then help them figure out how to solve this problem.  Join them by putting together a joint plan to fill in the missing piece.  An immediate connection is made when this happens.

Do the same with businesses that you aim to call on.

If you work on the vendor side (for instance, as a channel manager), the same would be true in recruiting strong partners.  Find out what they working to build, and if you can somehow get involved to help them build their vision, you just might become the product they lead with.  Connecting with people is a simple process of finding out what they are doing, and joining them to help them achieve their goals.  When it fits within your vision, it works, when it doesn’t, the partnership or relationship just doesn’t make sense.

© 2012, David Stelzl

Building the List

January 25, 2012 — Leave a comment

Two of my children have started a business selling holiday baked goods (note: these are their pies!)  Valentines Day is right around the corner, so it’s a good time to be marketing chocolate and cookies, or anything family members might gravitate toward, to express appreciation to each other.  But how do my children build their call list?  The food is great (see picture), but getting the word out is difficult.  “It’s a process of list building,” I tell them.  “If you spend all of your time in the kitchen, experimenting with truffles and flavors, you’ll never sell anything”.  But, no matter what I say, their tendency is to spend their time on the part they love, sometimes letting the business die a slow death.

Building the list takes time.  In fact, you can’t really wait until the list is built, because it never is.  It’s a process that takes a lifetime.  Every contact should be a consideration, and every contact is, or knows someone who is.  With this in mind, we have developed cards with pictures of the treats they prepare, with simple directions to access their “Buy Now” website.  And every time they enter a store where they know someone, or meet a new prospect, they should be asking for referrals, handing out extra cards, and collecting more names.  It must become their passion to collect and maintain these names, treating each one with respect and gratefulness.

This is the process every sales person must go through as they look to spread their value and identify new prospects.  Event marketing depends on it, in fact, any marketing today depends on it, simply because people don’t want to hear from someone they don’t know.  In 2012, your business depends on great marketing – events, webinars, campaigns, and referrals…

PS.  Don’t miss my upcoming webinar (FREE) – Unlocking the Secrets of Event Marketing (Sign up Here)

© 2012, David Stelzl

 

Compressor Aftermath

January 24, 2012 — Leave a comment

Two posts ago I was writing about some customer service issues I had with Sears.  This topic deserves one more post to bring to it to closure!  While out on my planning trip this past week, my son brought this compressor to a friend’s house.  It turns out that a capacitor used to start the motor had a cracked housing.  My friend was able to repair the housing without purchasing any additional parts, and I am back in business for 0$.  That’s right, my 230 something dollar quote from sears was fixed by a friend without replacing to motor, and without replacing the capacitor (if you read the post, you recall that Sears simply left me a message saying “My motor had to be replaced for $235).

The problem here is simple; the technician is programmed to replace parts regardless of whether they actually need replacing, and when a part is no longer made with their brand on it, they are not programmed to advise…We are all in business to make money, but when a fix can be made with a $2 part from Radio Shak (or simply repaired with glue, etc.) the value the consultant brings is in their advice not to spend more money.  Customer loyalty depends on the customer feeling like they can really trust the person advising, and when the advice is easily challenged and the fee reduced by orders of magnitude, somehow the customer is left feeling less than confident in the service they are receiving.

Whatever position you are in, study and equip yourself to give the best answers, even if it reduces the size of your initial sale.  In the long run, it will pay off.  What are the chances of me recommending you head to the Sears Services Center (as the customer sat. form reads 0 – 10…hmmm).

© 2012, David Stelzl

Where’s the Plan

January 17, 2012 — Leave a comment

I’ve written before, no plan is a plan to fail.  It’s January – the start of the year for many.  And even if your company isn’t on the calendar year, chances are you think about your income that way.  Do you have a plan to grow this year?

Most of the people I ask, don’t really have a plan.  Instead, they have put together a budget (which is not a bad start), which details what will be spent to keep the business running, and calls for a certain quota on sales.  If the sales numbers are not met, the budget will not produce the expected profit.  Half way through the year, managers will be sitting around wondering why they are not hitting their numbers, and hoping to make it up in the second half.  This is not a plan.  This is not a strategy.

Some companies will have an annual kick off meeting.  Many companies are doing that this month.  What will they accomplish?  If they focus on product training, sales number reviews, and parties, I will be a waste of time.  No one will remember these things as the year begins.

This week I am headed out to my company planning meeting.  It’s a time to look back at what was accomplished, what went well, and an honest assessment of what did not go well.  It’s a time to review who performed and who didn’t.  In my case, the number of employees I have makes that easy, but for most, it’s an important and difficult step.  It’s a time to consider what must change in the vision of the company, the mission you carry out, and how you are approaching the market – it’s strategic, not tactical.  This should be taking place on a business level as well as on a personal level.  It involves setting the high level goals with a plan to meet them.  It means going beyond the dream of hitting a certain number and figuring out how it will be met.  It also means getting rid of dead weight – things (or people) that don’t produce fruit.  This year I will spend four days on this process – why?  Because it’s likely the most important thing I do all year to make sure I am headed in the right direction.

© 2012, David Stelzl

For some reason these customer service stories keep coming up, and while I am looking forward to writing about other things, this just stands out as important.  I don’t think I am much different than your clients when it comes to customer service.  I want to get a great deal, be treated well, and know the company I am working with is responsive to my needs.  I’ve been waiting to write about this; just waiting for the final outcome.

I started over a month ago, in mid-November, working on getting my Craftsman compressor repaired. It would seem like a simple thing – a big tank full of air, with an electric motor.  I sent it over the Sears repair center, with a $35 diagnostic fee that would be applied to the repair, which was pre-authorized for about $100.  A week later I received a call with a $250 quote to replace the motor.  Now, I had done some homework on this.  I had actually taken this thing apart with my father, and tested the motor, and sure enough, it ran!  After questioning the technician, he explained that it was actually related to a capacitor, a part that starts the motor, but is not longer in production.  So, the fix is to swap out the entire motor with one that is available.

Not wanting to pay the $250, I picked up my compressor.  Once home, a man in my church agreed to take a look at it and fix it, however we both felt it would be helpful to know what part was actually not working.  I called Sears Repair center, hoping to get a five minute explanation.    Three weeks later, I am still calling, talking to enthusiastic call center people, who are leaving messages for the technician; however, no return call.  Christmas comes and goes, and finally I decided, this is great blog material.  So the next step was to take this up the ladder.  After several attempts, I was able to get the call center person to directly connect me to the manager – what a disappointment.  After explaining my situation, he actually told me that “they are not obligated to answer my questions since I have already picked up my compressor!”  Wow.  Mind you, I have paid the non-refundable diagnostic fee, and if I can’t figure out how to repair it, at some point I would be coming back to Sears.  You would think they would value my business.

After I hung up, I decided to go another route. Sears has a department at headquarters called the Blue Ribbon Team.  Supposedly this executive office team is dedicated to getting satisfaction.  After speaking with David, an official member of the Blue Ribbon Team, he assured me he would figure this out and get back to me by Friday.  Friday came and went, so the following week I was forced to make a second call to the infamous Blue Ribbon Team.  This time I was connected to Picole, who sits right down the line from David.  David wasn’t in, but after hearing my story, Picole assured me he would track down David and call me back with an update by the close of business that day.  Well, as expected, five o’clock came and went.

This morning I had it on my list to call Sears, something that has become part of my daily routine, but before I could get to it, the technician actually called me.  I sensed that he did not really want to talk to me, as he repeatedly reminded me that he had already spoken to me, but he did give me the details I needed.

The lesson here – The technician did end up having to call me, but look at how much time he wasted. He wasted weeks of my time, while also adding to my stress, and defaming his own brand.  He also spent time avoiding my messages.  You know it takes some time and mental capacity to get a daily message from someone, and not call them back.  And, it greatly eroded my confidence in Sears to provide customer service!  For most of my life I have thought of Craftsman as the right brand to buy when talking about automotive tools, mostly because of their reputation for life-time warranty.  While electric power tools and compressors don’t carry that same warranty, I expected quality treatment.  Don’t let this happen with your customer issues!

© 2012, David Stelzl

I’ve written numerous posts on negotiating, and as I continue to study this area, it gets better all the time.  Over and over I have encouraged people to practice!  Use every customer satisfaction issue as an opportunity to work through difficult situations! Become an expert at staying cool, controlling the situation, and methodically moving through the process.

Yesterday I experienced another victory – I received a call several weeks ago from a telemarketer asking me to switch from Windstream to Time Warner Cable for phone and Internet.  The cost was about half of what I was paying (I think I actually wrote about this sale a few weeks ago – the agent did a great job selling me), so I bought it!  Well this was the week to cut over.  I am now running my office on digital cable phone for half the price…however, vmail was not included.  The sales agent assured me it was, but alas it is not.

So yesterday I decided to see how high I would need to go to have free vmail.  I started with the call center who predictably could not give me free vmail.  Agreeing that this would be impossible, I asked to speak to the supervisor – Wyatt soon joined me, and we reviewed the situation.  He was sure is could not be done, so I simply restated, “You are not able to do this”.  He agreed, and I asked for his manager John.  John was very helpful, however he was not able to do it either.  However, John truly did want to help me, and began reviewing some options.  Finally he came back and asked me to visit the local store.  Well, who has time to drive to a store in the middle of a work week?  So I asked for the store phone number instead, which he gave me.  From there I called the store, asking for the supervisor.

The person who answered the phone insisted on helping me before getting a supervisor involved, however, he also could not help me once I explained my dilemma.  Finally, I was escalated to the store manager Brett.  Within a few minutes Brett was checking to see what he might offer me.  I recommended a half year of free vmail, to which he agreed, and then proceeded to add it.  Perhaps I could have pushed for more, but I was happy with the response.  Time Warner Gets an A+ for customer service on this one (although I would recommend empowering some power down the line to shorten this up a bit).  Once again, it pays to work through the process rather than getting upset or giving up.  Give it  a try.

© 2012, David Stelzl

Yesterday we completed our first day of Making Money w/ Security – an online security sales course I provide through webex.  As security trends evolve, one area has become particularly interesting to me – that of social media and how it can be used as a vehicle for social engineering.  After class one attendee passed on an article from the WSJ, Spam Finds a New Target…here are some important points from the Wall Street Journal’s write up…

  • Facebook blocks over 200 million malicious actions every day!
  • In August 2011, over 92% of email messages were spam messages, in Nov, over 70%.  These numbers fluctuate month to month, but they are always high.
  • Twitter and Facebook are the new targets – people are on to the email problems, but social media is wide open as people accept friend requests from unknowns.  In fact, in another recent article, WSJ reported on a study showing the number of men who gave out sensitive information, including passwords, to a white hat hacker posing as a 25 year old woman using social media!  Incredible, but believable.

As I speak to executives around the world at Lunch & Learns and other customer facing events, I am hearing the need to leverage social media as a means of marketing and branding.  I agree, this is a tool that can accelerate any company’s business when used correctly.  But this also opens the door for users, who are completely unaware of the security risks, to invite predictors to install code on their machines.  The same machines that will later access the company’s most sensitive data.  If you are not attending Making Money w/ Security this week, stay tuned – we’ll be scheduling more later this year.

© 2012, David Stelzl

Anonymous strikes again (read the Article)…if you look through news articles on technology in 2012, most likely you will find Apple, Google, and Anonymous dominating headlines…at least on the business side news (e.g. Wall Street Journal).  Of the three, most of us stand to capitalize on security news more than Apple or Google, unless you work for the latter.  Do you have a plan for 2012 that leverages security trends?  You should.  Of all my clients, those specializing in security experienced the greatest bottom line growth.  Areas to consider:

1. Companies that offered managed services with a security slant (Messaging), grew the most.  When I say “Grew”, I mean, profit.  Who cares about top line growth?  Manufacturers and very large resellers who are publicly traded, perhaps, but for the traditional reseller and even small, privately held manufacturer, gross and net are more important.  Managed services, is always a “security” sale (but often not treated as one), and is the key to developing financial stability.

2. Assessments where also a hot topic.  In my latest book, From Vendor to Adviser (which is doing very well since it’s release in late December – buy it here), I discuss the need to move into a more consultative approach using discovery and assessment strategies.  Clients who have made this a core part of their business development strategy are building business faster and more profitably than any other group of clients I serve.

3. Marketing events continue to produce strong results!  Lunch & Learn marketing has been around as long as I can remember,  yet few can tell me how they are benefiting from these expensive and time consuming events – with the exception of those engaged in security.  We continue to get large audiences, executive level attendees, and a very strong sign up (Conversion) rate – averaging 75%!  Still, companies continue to try other things, looking for diversity and point product selling.

Today we kick off the first 2012 Making Money with Security workshop! (You can still sign up – starts at 1:00 PM). I am looking forward to exploring all three in detail.  Those that master security sales, will win in 2012.

© 2012, David Stelzl