Saturday, June 14, 2008

The NSAC (National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives

I had a chance last Friday to give a talk to about 75 members of the NSAC. What a great group. This group covered the Midwest. 5 states to be exact.

I was amazed at the amout of technology this group used. Examples include;

Point to Point wireless
SSL VPN Concentrators
Remote monitoring

These are just a few of the technologies they were using. I did get a chance to hear a presentation from some of the IT people from 3 of the Cooperatives. One thing that they did have a common theme was that they were purchasing hardware from CDW, PC Connection and other online sources. The competitive part of me wanted to ask them why they weren't buying from a VAR? I learned where they purched hardware in the hallway before thier presentation.

During their presentation to the group, they had one theme. Things like security, Citrix and email servers are somthing that they leave to VAR's. Infact they went to say that Cooperatives should consider their VAR as part of the supply chain. Just like buying and selling grain. A necessary part of their business. This was powerfull for me to hear that this is what our customers are looking for from us! Am I spending enough time on our solutions that meet customers needs? Not on old school hardware selling? I think so, but definitely need to keep being reminded.

I do want everyone to know that my presentation was successful and I did get several compliments on explaining what some consider complex topics in ways that most of these people who run Cooperatives could understand. I covered;

Security "Not just a firewall" Addressing what is between the ears.
TaaS, a win/win for everyone
PC's, not just a commodity
Disaster Recovery. Is it worth it?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Selling value. Frogs in a can (Again!)

Remember my story about buying the batteries at RadioShack? Well, I have another part of that story. When I went into the store, the rep greeted me, ask me what I was looking for and showed me where the batteries were. When I told him what I was looking for, he had never heard of that type of battery. No problem, he ask the manager in the back. Came back and let me know they had been Disco. So he gave me a set of batteries. Most customers would have taken them and checked out. However, I am a bit more educated in RadioShack then your average customer. I knew he had given me the "Cheap" rechargeable batteries.

I wanted the best quality batteries. I ask for them and we rang out. I think it is the Frogs in the Can thing again. The rep was so used to being told "Give me the least expensive" that he no longer ask. It would have taken one, maybe two questions to find out that I was going to use them in a digital camera and wanted the maximum life from the batteries.

Sure, it was only a couple of $'s, but trust me that couple turns into many as time goes on. It could make the difference between making the month and not making the month. In addition, the rep could have ask if I needed additional memory card or accessories. I have been known to buy such things on sale.

In your sales efforts, do you take the extra step of making the offer or are you so used to being turned down that you just assume. It has been my experience that the difference between a good sales person and a great sales person is simple asking. Next time you are going to assume, take the extra step, you might be surprised.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Creative seems to come in waves?

In the last 3 or 4 days, a creative streak has come in full force. I have had ideas for 3 new solutions, a new way of marketing some existing products and way of fixing a problem I am having with selling a solution we seem unable to move.

What makes these creative streaks come to me? Maybe it was the vacation and I just needed a week to get back in front of tasks that have stacked up? Sure wish I knew.

It has been several months since I have come up with some really unique ideas. Something I pride myself in. Infact, as far as I can remember, it has been before I started blogging that I have come up with some of these ideas. Maybe blogging takes some creative energy from me. OK probably not. Now that I am blogging, I can start to go back and see if there is a pattern to the creative streaks.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Is everything I like going disco?

Back in the days I worked for RadioShack, we shortened Discontinued to Disco. (Ironic comparison) Anyway, recently, it seems there have been a lot of things I have wanted to buy that was discontinued.

1. RadioShack used to sell (Less than 1 year ago) batteries that charged in 15 min. I had bought a 15 min charger (For almost double the money) and 4 batteries. Yesterday I went out purchase some more of the batteries and I found out that they were "Disco"

2. Walmart used to carry some carpet in the automotive department (Had carried it for 10 years), found out, they no longer carry it.

3. 3M used to make some spray glue that worked GREAT. You guessed it, they now sell similar glue for double the price. It doesn't work nearly as well.

4. Last, the Mc Rib. Come on McDonalds. STOP MESSING WITH ME!!!

This must be part of getting old. Expecting things to stay the same price. Discontinuing things that I like and everything worked better in the years past.

I know in business we are constantly changing our offerings Maybe we should try and keep things consistent.