In the United States, Thanksgiving is over and we’ve (mostly) recovered from stuffing our faces with turkey and pumpkin pie. Now, with the calendar showing December and snow beginning to fall all over the country, the holiday season is officially upon us.
In the context of our personal lives, there are many ways that we meet, interact, and build relationships with our closest friends. We might meet friends through our kids’ activities, for instance, or maybe we build relationships through work or various other extracurricular activities (church or community groups, book clubs, sports leagues, etc.).
It’s Monday morning and you’ve just arrived at your desk. You flip on your desk lamp, plop down into your chair, turn on your computer and immediately open your e-mail inbox. Slowly, the sludge of messages that accumulated over the course of a few days away from the office begins to trickle in.
When a pitcher throws a no-hitter, it’s generally lauded as an individual feat. His teammates swarm and congratulate him; the media hails his skill; and, in some circumstances, his team presents him with a financial bonus for the accomplishment.
Talk to the pitcher, however, and they’ll almost always acknowledge that a no-hitter is not something that happens in a vacuum. For it to occur, eight other players in the field must make the catches and throws to get 27 consecutive outs, and managers must pull the right strings at the right time.
Three weeks ago, the U.S. government finally ended its highly publicized (and not in a good way) shutdown and got back to work. For now, total political, fiscal and economic disaster appears to have been averted. The standoff between political parties over the adoption and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), on the other hand, seems like it may continue well into the foreseeable future.
Every year around this time, business owners (and sales managers) begin to panic. After all, there are fewer than two months remaining in the calendar year, which means time is running out to hit quarterly targets. And if annual sales are lagging, it’s time to put up, or shut up. So, what are many VAR sales managers doing to ensure their teams finish the year with a bang?
While attending a conference recently, I met a fellow business owner (let’s call him “Thomas”) who, during our brief conversation, expressed interests and goals that aligned with my own. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to talk long because, frankly, it was a busy time for both of us. But I was excited about the opportunity to chat with him further. I saw synergy in our businesses and recognized some potential for alliance partnering that I really wanted to explore. So, we settled on a subsequent time to talk by phone.
I may date myself by revealing this, but I’ve been in business long enough to have witnessed a handful of monumental shifts in information technology. Years ago, it was all about mainframes. Then it was UNIX/Linux. And then PC servers. The same could be said, of course, about how IT has been distributed and sold. It used to be, for instance, that VARs relied on computer retail. Then it was break-fix and training. And then managed services.
When many sales managers are given the green light to hire a new hunter sales rep, they often salivate over the possibility of recruiting candidates with sizable books of business that could (potentially) bring new revenue to their company. Sometimes, that possibility becomes reality. But can you really bank on “sometimes”?
If I asked you to estimate the average open rate for your email marketing campaigns, what would you say? Would it be 25 percent? Maybe more? Actually, if your response rates are anything like the industry averages recently published by email marketing service MailerMailer, just 10 percent of your contacts are actually opening the emails you send. Even worse, only 2 percent of those leads are engaging with the content in those emails.
In many sales organizations, the process of promoting a sales rep to a sales manager often sounds a little something like this: “Congratulations, Pete, you’ve just been promoted to sales manager! Here’s your team, here’s your territory, and here’s what we’re expecting you to deliver. Go get ‘em!”
When I started in sales, I loved my job. I was working for IBM (IBM). I loved talking to new people. I genuinely enjoyed helping those people discover new solutions for their problems. And I was, at the time, selling technology that was groundbreaking—AS400s, UNIX, PCs and DOS servers that would replace customers’ outdated IBM midrange systems.
About 2,500 years ago, famed Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Let that sink in a little bit. If you really digest those words, you’ll realize that, nearly 30 centuries after Confucius first uttered them, they still make a lot of sense in our world—particularly in the context of sales training.
As many salespeople and business owners know, referrals are sales gold. Take this study completed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 2011: After surveying 10,000 customers over the course of nearly three years, the study’s authors found that referred customers had a higher margin and retention rate, and were more valuable (by at least 16 percent over non-referred customers) in both the short- and long-term.