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Back to School

August 31, 2011 — Leave a comment

Back to School!

It’s time to get back to school…that means our kids are back on a busy, productive schedule, with goals and timelines.  But before that can happen, my wife and I sit down to evaluate where we are and figure out where we are going.  Soon activities, holidays, and school work will crowd our days, and if we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves busy, but not necessarily headed toward anything important.  The end of summer signals a time for strategic planning for all of use!  Don’t miss this moment!

Review the Plan

If you’re on the calendar year, you have one quarter left to make the year worthwhile.  Hopefully you have a plan your working through to build your business – prospects you’re working on, a pipeline your closing, quotas you plan to meet, and career goals to take your business to the next level.  If you don’t, you might want to get something in place for Q4.

Plan to Fill Your Pipeline Now

Once the holidays hit, people are hard to reach.  Sure, there may be budgets at year end that must be spent, but setting up a strong pipeline early in the quarter makes year-end a whole lot easier.  Get a call plan in place and start setting up meetings through September.  Make a strong push to get as many meetings lined up as possible right now, so that you are working toward closing in October, or early November.  Most projects can’t be invoiced until they are completed, so give yourself time to close and implement before year end.

Event Planning

Demand generation events are one of the best ways to build your business if you are looking for new clients.  There is still time if you start now.  It takes about 60 days to plan a worthy event, so that puts you into mid-October.  Plenty of time to do the event and execute the follow-up plan.  Follow-up could take anywhere from two to four weeks, so start thinking now.  Otherwise you’ll be into January before you know it.  You don’t want that.

Review Time Usage

The biggest issue in sales is managing time wisely.  Where do you spend it, who do you focus on, and where is time being wasted? Sales is a busy business.  Review your last three quarters – where are you wasting time?  It’s like your family budget – if you don’t review it monthly, you may find yourself floating along, working hard, but not actually accomplishing your primary goals.  Soon, you’ll look back and see that your time is spent, people are on holiday, and you’re hoping to make a come back next year.  Too late…do it now.

© 2011, David Stelzl




August 25, 2011 — Leave a comment

Hudson Taylor wrote, “At first the task looks difficult, then it is impossible; then it is done.”  Disciplines of health, parenting, work…it takes discipline to get started, endurance keeps you going.  At the end of the day, the discipline of exercise, getting on my bike, followed by endurance to finish the race.  I do it to maintain health and life balance, and to spend time with my kids…not always easy, but necessary.

Coming into an office after weeks of unprofitable calls, there is a discipline in getting started again – endurance to continue to process.  How tempting it is to “fritter and waste the hours…” when the task looks impossible.  Reaching the goal requires more than skill – it requires discipline, endurance, determination.  Failure comes, not so much from a lack of skill, but more often by giving up…

© 2011, David Stelzl

Illustrations by David Stelzl

When I say educational marketing, I mean that the presentations, collateral, blog posts, etc. shed new light on subjects your prospects are interested in.  One of the first educational events I personally attended (as a prospect), was just after having received great news, “Your wife is going to have a baby!”  It was our first of seven, and what an exciting time it was.  In the process of signing up for things,  buying at baby stores, and perhaps visiting the doctor, we ended up on the marketing call list for Baby Tenda-care, a company that manufactured and sold a multi-purpose contraption for babies.  It served as a height chair, porta-crib, and several other things.  As you can imagine, anything that looks like a porta-crib, can’t easily turn into a height chair, but they claimed it did.  Our first introduction to this amazing device was through an invitation to attend a free dinner at a low-end buffet steak house; a place where you pay about seven dollars for steak, sides, and desert.  (Another sign that this wasn’t going to be good).  While the speaker did spend time on educating us, most of the talk was high-pressured sales.  It was distasteful and aggravating.  I told my wife about ten minutes into it that we were absolutely not buying anything.  We didn’t buy that night, but it was uncomfortable not to.  Many did, and the guy signing up new customers did his best to make the husband feel like he was cheating his wife out of a great, time saving tool that was almost guaranteed to take the work out of parenting.  As far as I can tell, this product is no longer on the market, and I know why.  This can’t be your approach to educational marketing if you plan to succeed.

© 2011, David Stelzl

New Rules of Marketing

April 21, 2010 — 3 Comments

If you resell technology, stop wasting joint marketing funds provided by your partners.  Over a billion dollars in unspent funds are reported each year, meaning there is money available, however, dysfunctional marketing campaigns are destroying the channel’s ability to access this money.  Use this money with a well planned marketing strategy and show a return – earn the right to more than your share.  Companies like HP, Cisco, Oracle, Sonicwall, etc. all have funds to support these types of activities.  The goal should be to choose your partners based partly on technology and partly on their willingness and ability to support you as a reseller.  From there, it’s up to you to demonstrate your ability to bring incremental business to the table.  But be careful…

Marketing is different now!  You can’t run an event and advertise “storge UC/Voip, Data Center, or Network Security” and expect decision makers to show up, and you can’t have your local vendor or internal SE be your featured lunch-and-learn speaker.  However, events are a great way to attract higher level audiences if you present the right things in the right way.  Educational based marketing is powerful, and between social media and properly planned events, resellers can demonstrate tremendous value.  This video provides a few minutes of insight on this important subject!

© David Stelzl 2010

Yesterday on my flight to Boston I was talking to a gentleman about marketing through social networks.  We were discussing how the Internet has completely changed the way we reach customers and prospects, as well as what prospects and clients are attracted to.  Some considerations for your online brand…

1. Is your Cyber-Slip showing?  This comes from the Title of a recent article published in the National Speakers Association monthly publication.  The writer rightly points out that users of Facebook and other social networking sites tend to disregard security settings, thus “over-sharing” personal preferences, and perhaps adding to the damage by linking with others who speak too freely.  We’re talking here about life-style, political views, hobbies, etc.  Much of this can be harmless, however, you never know what people who you “sort of” know, and are linked to, are going to post.  Be careful – social sites are one of the first places prospects are going to learn about you as you work through the sale process.

2. Freedom of speech…yes, we supposedly have some level of freedom of speech, however your comments on blogs and Facebook walls are searchable by everyone.  Once you post it or send it, it’s forever posted.  You can’t recall it!  If you change your mind, or you mature over the years and realize you were being over zealous, your comments are not going to be updated.  The Internet is here to stay, so post only things  you want posted forever.  Never post or email when angry about something.

3. Sterile sites – check out your website.  This is your online image.  Is it you, or is it boring?  I’ve recently transitioned my primary site to my blog.  Why?  My website is informational, but static.  Many companies are putting their blog on their website – this is okay, but I think a mistake.  The first thing your prospects want to know is who you are.  Remember the overused phrase, “Trusted Advisor”?  It’s overused, yet it still means something.  The idea of building trust is still essential, and the person building trust is you.  People get to know you through your online presence.  Make it trustworthy, and give people a personality to trust.  Your character must somehow shine through your web presence, and the blog is the best place to do it. Take them to your blog, then as people get to know you, take them to your website to learn about products and services.

4. Outdated data…So you’re on LinkedIn…this is a great start, but have you provided the details.  There is nothing worse than searching for John Smith and having a thousand LinkedIn profiles show up without pictures.  If you are going to join, keep it updated.  LinkedIn is a great way to stay in touch with people as they transition from one job to the next.  While email addresses are changing, people connected through LinkedIn can stay in contact.

5. Pictures…pictures are worth a thousand words, right?  Check out your photos online…Most people who take the time to put a picture on Linkedin use a head shot.  Not bad – but make sure it’s current.  Your 70’s hair-doo might need to be updated.  Why do so many people use a weird picture on Facebook?  Casual is great for social networking, but if you’re in business, don’t put something sensual (if you’re a woman) or just plain freaky online…this is your trusted brand.

Are you doing any of these things?  It’s time to clean up and create the right image.  Start by Googling yourself – do this often and see what’s out there.  Then take inventory of what you have online and start fixing it.  If you don’t have anything online – you are missing a great opportunity to build a brand that will help you over the coming years.

Persistence Pays

September 24, 2009 — Leave a comment

Thanks to Mark Mandrino, President of Achieved Solutions, for passing on a great reminder on just how many calls sales people should make before calling it unqualified…the bottom line, keep calling until they threaten your life. Read the article for more details.