Archives For channel management

dhs_headJoin me on April 30th, at 2:00 EDT (60 minutes) for a webinar on how to move your sales organization away from commodity selling to more of an advisory role.  I’ve spent this entire week working with presales engineers in Melbourne and Sydney Australia, working on the specifics of how to do this…channel partners, regardless of where you sell, must make this move in order to compete in the coming years…

It’s sponsored by Ingram Micro, all you have to do is register and be there – online…here’s the link.  I hope to see you there!

Register here

© 2013, David Stelzl

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Tonight I will be kicking off our weekend Planning & Strategy event in Charlotte NC.  We have just over 31 days left this year to get ready for next – so if you’re not attending, at least set aside time to plan in the coming weeks.  Three times a year I head out of my office and find a quiet spot to review my plan.  Most won’t even do this one time in a year!

Refining the Mission

Money is not a goal – it’s a measurement.  Plan in hand, I look back at my mission to see if I am accomplishing it.  Most mission statements are meaningless wordsmithed phrases that do nothing for your company.  My mission refocuses me on the people I am serving through my business.  It’s built on the needs I’ve observed in those companies I work with, and is designed to keep me moving in the right direction.  When someone asks me to get involved in something that doesn’t fit my mission, I refer them to someone else and move on.  It also pushes me to learn more.  It pushes me to become a student of the work I do, and a student of the people I work for.  I want to understand their root problems, and find lasting solutions.  If my business is straying from the mission, it’s time to course-correct.

Resetting the Vision, Measuring the Progress

A vision is something you aim to achieve over time.  Every person in your company should understand the vision, and should be responsible for some aspect of it.  Simon Sinek, in his book, “Start With WHY”, explains that the leader of the business has a passion – it’s his WHY, and it drives the company in a particular direction.  His or her direct reports focus on the HOW.  They figure out how to get where their company needs to go.  In my business, I have to do both.  Those on the front lines then carry out the WHAT associated with the HOW.  In my planning process, I look to see where I have come from, and where I am going.  Money is not the vision.  In other words, it doesn’t make sense to have a vision that says, “To make millions of dollars this year.”  Money comes as I achieve my mission and approach my vision.  Once reached, a new vision will be set.

Looking at the Rest of the Plan

This weekend we’ll start with mission and vision, but then we’ll need to dive into the tactical day to day components of a healthy business.  We’ll need to look at strategies being used to develop and deliver solutions, sell projects, market, etc. And we’ll need to associate metrics with each.  Many of these metrics will be tried to numbers on the financials.  For instance, your managed services program might be running with a particular monthly recurring revenue, and by tweaking the sales process, we may be  able to grow it by a percentage.  The goals will be associated with the processes we outline – the money will measure it’s success or failure.  Here are several strategies I recommend you look at in the coming weeks, before 2013 hits:

  • Solution Strategy – Are you addressing your clients’ root problems?  Are your customer satisfaction numbers in line with the principles of your company?  Are your projects profitable?  Consider your product selection, methodology, delivery team, and project management process.
  • Marketing Strategy – do you have an effective way to reach out to new clients.  I was speaking on a webinar this morning and the other speaker talked about farming in a sense I had not considered.  Rather than referring to a named account, he talked about working a list of SMB companies over a period of time to win their business.  An approach to reach a large group of businesses, with the expectation of bringing in a percentage of them over time.  There’s some wisdom here if you can figure out a way to apply it.
  • Sales Strategy – Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, encourages building a process and refining it.  Most sales people haphazardly go about prospecting without any plan.  This leads to thrashing – inefficiently pushing through the day making calls and responding to emails, but not necessarily on the most qualified contacts.  Big Data Analytics may give us a more efficient calling process in the future, but for now, the sales person really has to do some planning.  Your business plan should provide some direction here on how your company aims to go to market in the coming 12 months.
  • Metrics – each of the above should include metrics that allow you to constantly gauge were you are, and how well you are doing.  Consider things like margin, utilization of billable resources, average bill rates, estimated vs. actual on project estimates, etc.

This weekend I am working with several reseller business owners to build their plans – but I won’t have time to do mine…so in two weeks, I will be heading out of the office, checking vmail and email occasionally, and giving the better part of my day to the 2013 plan.  I hope you will do the same!

© 2013 David Stelzl

 

 

 

Hopefully you were able to make today’s Event Marketing webinar – 7 Secrets to Profitability Using Lunch & Learns and Sales Events. In case you missed it, there will be a recording posted at some point soon…I want everyone to have this information before they do another event.  Here’s a quick recap:

Conversion

First, we talked about success – How do you measure success when talking about lunch & learns and other customer facing events?  I hear that often, especially when involved with resellers who are trying to find funding for an event.  What’s the ROI, they say.  What they mean is, “How much revenue will this event drive?”  No matter what you do, it’s hard to really tell.  Would these people have bought if they hadn’t attended the event?  You just don’t know.  We talked about something you can measure – Conversion rate.  We talked about various inflection points along the timeline of an event, starting with the invitation, and going though to fee-based business. There are about 5 infection points along the way.  Consider:

  • How many people you called, vs. how many attended?
  • How many attended, and how many of them went on for a second 1-1 meeting or some other offering?
  • How many meetings, assessments, or whatever, turned into billable engagements?
  • How many engagements led to annuity services?

In my new eBook, I will be providing a conversion sheet example along with formulas and modifications to track your customized program.  This is the key to refining the process.

Announcement

Here is the official announcement.  I plan to release my eBook, Event Marketing, 7 Secrets to Profitability Using Lunch & Learns and Sales Events, on October 10th, the same day I kick off my new workshop on Marketing.  Sign up and get a free copy of the book before it’s released to the public!

Mistakes

Next, I covered common mistakes. These are mistakes I see even the best resellers making all the time…I only had time to cover three, but there are many.  Fix these and you’re headed for success.  I presented the problem, and then offered several ways to fix it.  Here are three:

  • Recreating the wheel:  This refers to the reseller who insists on building a customized event every time they do one. The problem is, they never perfect it.  Try building a great event, then make incremental improvements along the way.  This makes a lot more sense and will allow your sales team to learn it, and execute on it.
  • Focusing on more attendees – not follow up.  Companies that focus on getting numbers in the door are making a mistake.  Focus on getting the right people there.  Invite a reasonable number that you can then follow up with in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Your event is too technical.  Forget about technology – focus on the four things buyers buy (Which I write about extensively in my book, From Vendor to Adviser).  ROI, operational efficiency, competitive advantage, and risk mitigation.

Success

Finally, we covered three things that lead to success.  Again, there are many more to cover – which I do cover in the workshop, but here are a few to get you going.

  • Make it educational.  Think about those executives that will travel on their own dime to attend Gartner or some other industry event.  Why won’t they attend your event?  Simply because it isn’t worth traveling to.  That might be real or perception.  Your job is the make it great, and make sure the word gets out.
  • Create an offer that takes them from attending to buying.  This second point of conversion is critical.  The first point is addressed in the bullet above –  getting them there.  This second one is something you offer your attendees at the meeting – something that compels them to meet again.
  • Finally, start your follow up process in the meeting.  Many companies don’t even have a follow up program.  Your job is to create one before you ever meet, and then be prepared to offer it right there in the meeting.  There is a way to do this without sounding like a used car sales person.  We’ll cover that in detail in the workshop.

Finally, I gave everyone the early sign up coupon for the workshop:  “EARLY” – original isn’t it!  Us this when signing up at this link (it’s only good this week):

http://7secretsmktg.eventbrite.com/

© 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

Photo taken by David Stelzl

For some reason, discussing money is the major hurdle.  Yesterday I had several sales calls with potential buyers.  One example stands out… We had discussed the need, talked about options, come to a conclusion on next steps, and even picked dates to begin.  My prospect then said, “Send me a proposal with some options and pricing.”

I was tempted to agree, but then that little voice reminded me of Mahan Kalsa’s book, Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play (which I highly recommend). Why would we wait for the proposal to agree on options and pricing.  Paper doesn’t sell, I do.  We have verbal agreement on the vision, but no specifics.  Why waste time and possibly ruin the opportunity by putting the wrong thing down on paper?

Instead I simply said, “Let’s review some options right now and make sure we are in agreement on how to proceed.”  I verbally gave him my interpretation of what we were planning to do, offered a couple of options, restated the value, and then offered a fixed fee.  I then said, “How does that sound to you?”  He said, “That sounds great.”  Now I can write the proposal, which is now really an agreement, with confidence.  I converted it to a PDF, attached it to an email, and wrote, “Here is exactly what we agreed to.”  The likelihood of closing this kind of agreement is much higher than the elusive agreements made in most sales meetings.  Meetings end without any real commitment, and the request for proposal is often just a polite way of ending the meeting.  There is no agreement, and there are no specifics from which to craft the proposal.  In the end, this type of proposal goes nowhere, leaving the sales person to forecast at 50%.  In other words, I have no idea…

© 2011, David Stelzl