Saturday, April 12, 2008

Asking for the close?

Thanks to Jeff from SMC, yesterday I saw the power of asking for the close. Because he ask for the deal, he walked away with a sale. We have been working on getting this order completed for some time. I guess someone had to ask for the sale.

Sure, I am giving Jason from SMC a little trouble. Jason is a great sales rep and understands the power of partnering. Sure he would have got the order eventually.

In your sales cycle do you ask for the sale? A lot of the time this can mean the difference between a good sales job and a great sales rep. It does not have to be high pressure. Just ask and find out what is keeping you from walking away with the order.

I bet Jason wont make this mistake again. Especially after all the slack he received yesterday!

Friday, April 11, 2008

All this technology and still get it wrong.

As you know, I have spent some time in the airport the last day. The interesting thing is how wrong the information can be. Depending on what board you looked at yesterday, at one time, they showed my gate at three different gates. Then the flight was delayed by mechanical problems, so we move gates again. (None of the three posted were right). So flight was delayed. Missing my connecting flight. So caught a flight to Dodge City. Then get a rental car to Hays. Rental car company stated they were open till 10. Call number, open till 5. Get to Dodge and call another number and I get a car? Oh yea, my luggage? In Texas. No idea why.

Have to clear up a loose end. For Stuart, a Jayhalk is the Kansas University mascot. It is a birt that is red, yellow and blue.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A couple of days with Lenovo & they get it!

It is refreshing to spend a couple of days with Lenovo. They get the power of partners and the channel. Sitting down with the people in charge with product development and having input on what will be out this fall and next year is a real treat. Let me tell you, it is different, cool and going to wow everyone. But...Don't ask, NDA.

One of the best things that I heard and saw was the top down leadership from the CEO down. Putting customer service, ethics and quality at the top, not the bottom. It definitely shows in every person I met in the last couple of days. I have complete confidence in Lenovo product, people and future. Lenovo is not another "Me Too" company. They sell on quality. Let other companies provide the PC comodity.

In sales, it is important to start with the basics like customer service, quality and ethics. Somtimes we assume customers know this or that it should be obvious. Beyond that, actions speak loudly. This trust is a hard thing to earn and easy to lose, impossible to get back.

On a personal note, I don't travel nearly as much as some of my peers. (Stuart, Arlin) I sure miss my family. I look forward to being able to take the kids on trips and for my wife to come also. The experiences are once in a lifetime. It is all in that balance thing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The power of the Jayhalk

You probably know I have been traveling to SanFrancisco, CA today. When you travel, lots of people ask you where you are from. Usually when I say KS, its kinda "I drove through there once". Today..."National Champions"

Talk about the power of marketing. Everyone wants to know if I know where Lawrence is, what it is like. Being the leader makes people want to be part of the experience. Point is, advertise your wins. People pay attention.

Vendors, it could be different?

In the IT business we have vendors calling daily. If you cannot have a good relationship with one vendor, there are others available. That is not to say that you should move vendors in a whim, it is important to build strong vendor relations and not change those relationships easily.

With that said, a friend and neighbor owns a powersports business (ATV's Motorcycles and such). Kfed, my neighbor had been getting heat from one of his vendors for some time to become an exclusive dealer of that vendors product. Kfed had 2 vendors that's it.

On Christmas eve, that vendor called and told him they were dropping him. Mind you, Kfed sold hundreds of units a year. Due to him not committing to them exclusively. CHRISTMAS EVE. Great corporate business. I thought this was extreme. It was worse. Through friends in the business, Kfed found out that this vendor during the annual meeting of dealers had the companies that were exclusive wear a red arm band. The dealers that were not exclusive wore a red arm band and a orange arm band. Then during the introductions of the meeting stated everyone with two arm bands leave. They were fired! So all of these dealers that paid their expenses to get to the meeting were used to make a point.

What poor corporate leadership. This company is a world wide force! They could have notified these dealers prior to coming to the dealer meeting without the embarrassment. Now they have an army of angry dealers with intimate knowledge of the company with a common theme to bury the vendor that embarrassed them all.

My point? Respect your vendor relationships.

1. Follow through with your promises. If you said you would, then do it.

2. Build strong relationships. It will get you far.

3. Do not jump ship at the sign of problems.

PS Kfed is a nickname....

Monday, April 7, 2008

5 year old Soccer and Sales?

My 5 year old son Caden had his second Soccer game this weekend. They don't keep score and are pretty liberal with the rules. So what does this have to do with sales? I have come to find out quite a bit.

You can coach 5 year olds to play defence, positions and lanes. But the bottom line is the most aggressive kids, get the ball and score the goals.

This is the same with sales. You may not have the most honed skills. But if you are aggressive in making calls, great customer service, you will make the most wins.

Looking for Rice A Roni (A SanFrancisco Treat)

I am spending a couple of days in SF this week. Lenovo was gracious in inviting me to their Advisory Council. I expect this to be an interesting trip. As you may have seen on the news, the Olympic torch is going through the city tomorrow. Security is everywhere. I do look forward to attending the closing ceremony tomorrow evening.

Anyway, I need to add something about sales. In our industry projects, installations and sales are difficult. If it wasn't, everyone would do this. So how to you keep customers happy when things go a bit wrong.

Communication! That is talking with the customer in every phase. From sales, being open, honest and trying to cover all bases. Installation, the lead technician working with sales to understand the scope, communicating with the customer on time lines and obstacles. To the bill. If the project runs over, making sure the customer knows what is coming, why and resolving issues as soon as possible.

Speaking of Lenovo, I was notified that our rep is leaving for IBM. It will be interesting how this relationship moves forward and what communication comes from Lenovo. We are off to a good start. Our inside rep has reached out already letting me know what is going on and where to get answers from.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Keeping the balance?

Every day it is dog eat dog, me first, beat the competition. It can be tough having this competitive attitude while maintaining a compassionate side.

I am continually impressed with my friend and coworker Bill Turman. I met Bill 8 years ago when I first started with Nex-Tech. Bill understand the balance between work and personal life. The last couple of days, Bill and I took on a project to Epoxy our garage floors. During this process Bill tells me a story about how he saw a guy standing outside his church with a towel for a coat. Trying to see if he could help this person, Bill ask him what he was doing there. (Many would have walked by). Not speaking English, the person could not communicate with Bill. Bill called a friend on his cell that spoke many languages and had them figure out what the problem was. Bill found out that the person came to Kansas looking for work. Not knowing how to help, Bill gave the person the coat off his back so at least he would be warm.

Do you have people in your life to keep you compassionate? These type of people make all of us a little better along with the world around us.