Date archives "March 2010"

Book Review: Selling Change

I read a lot of books regarding the subject of sales. Sales and revenue are the life blood of any business. Hence every entrepreneur needs to equip him/her self with the necessary skill sets to sell, because in the final analysis their livelihood depends on their ability to convert prospects into paying customers. I had heard good things about Brett Clay’s new book on Selling Change and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It does not read like a standard book, as the author discloses 101 secrets to effectively improve sales by leading change. The book is divided into five components that build a framework the author refers to as, “Change Leadership Framework”. The five components are:

1. Force Field Analysis
2. Change Response Analysis
3. Power Analysis
4. Value Creation
5. Change Actuation

This is not your run of the mill sales book that focuses on traditional sales processes and how to convert prospects in your pipeline faster. The book focuses on high value solution sales strategies. Solution selling is a very different ball game as compared to transactional selling. Most of the time, selling high value solutions requires a considerable amount of change to take place within the organization. The book takes you through a five stage process that enables you to make your case stronger and equips you with the skills needed to close such deals. It is full of valuable tips, tips which  had I read earlier in my career as an entrepreneur,  would have saved me a lot of pain. Some of my favorite tips are:

1. Not falling into the trap of owning your customer’s problems: I have done this many times in the past. The customer has a pain and as a company we take ownership, and strive to remove this pain for the client. Once we take ownership of the problem the client essentially wipes his hands of it, and any problems that arise from there on will be directly pointed at you. We need to ensure that the customer retains ownership of the problem, and strive to play a support role to help them through that problem.

2. Double your best estimates: Another common problem with early stage startups is, they usually end up selling themselves short. In most high value solution selling situations, research confirms that actual resource requirements are on an average 1.7 times the original estimate. Thus, you need to take these factors into account when deciding how much you are going to quote, and the resources it will require to complete the job.

3. Don’t Beg – Deliver: When sales have been dry we do our best, sometimes desperately so, to close any deal regardless of what it may entail, or what sort of resources required to complete it. This is when things go from bad to worse very quickly. The author mentions that instead of using “push” tactics and thinking how to accelerate order, we will get better results by using “pull” tactics and thinking how we can deliver more value. That is a very powerful thought, one which is being heavily publicized in the world of inbound marketing these days.

This is a great book to read for anyone who wants to get into high level consulting as well as selling complex solutions. For entrepreneurs or readers who are just starting their careers in sales, this book may jump the gun a little as there are still lots of fundamental grounds rules that need to be put into place to build a strong foundation of becoming a sales rockstar. Notwithstanding that, this is a great book to add to your shelf and refer to when you are ready and wanting to break into the big times!

Make Things Happen

Getting things done is not the same as making things happen.

You can…
…reply to email.
…pay the bills.
…cross off to-do’s.
…fulfill your obligation.
…repeat what you heard.
…go with the flow.
…anticipate roadblocks.
…aim for “good enough.”

Or you can…
…organize a community.
…take a risk.
…set ambitious goals.
…give more than you take.
…change perceptions.
…forge a new path.
…create possibility.
…demand excellence.

Don’t worry too much about getting things done.

Make things happen.

By Gina Trapani

Lizard Brain Diet

For those of you who have read Seth Godin’s new book Linchpin, the title of this blog post will not appear as revolting as those who have not. If you have not read the book, I strongly suggest you pick up a copy as soon as you can. The book revolves around the concept of “Resistance” that I blogged about at the start of this year. The lizard brain as Seth Godin describes it, is “…the reason you’re afraid, the reason you don’t do all the art you can, the reason you don’t ship when you can. The lizard brain is the source of the resistance.” It is essentially the little voice in our head that stops us from pursuing what we truly want in life because of the uncertainty of what lies ahead. We choose the safer path just to ensure we assimilate into society, because we care far too much what everyone else thinks. Status in the tribes we exist is a vital part of our lives.

The resistance is far more powerful than we imagine it to be. After reading the book I realized how resistance was hampering my capability to being more productive, and in essence reaching my goals on time. Most knowledge workers today spend most of their time on devices that are connected with the internet. There are four screens that are always on for me , in addition to the one I am working on:

1. Email
2. Skype
3. Twitter
4. Facebook

These screens are refreshed by the second and updates continue to flow in through the course of the day. Every new email alert focuses my attention on it, and there is always something you are expecting or wanting to hear about. Every twitter update gives us an update on what is happening in the lives of those who we have given enough importance, by following their every move. Conversations, regardless of their importance or priority are exchanged with colleagues through skype all day. I attached a time tracker to each one of these applications and was astounded at the time I was spending on them. So for the last week or so I have been on a strict lizard brain diet that includes:

1. I check my email 3x a day now and prioritize the responding to of all messages
2. I appear invisible or offline on skype for most of the day apart from the times that I come online to check email.
3. I review my twitter feeds once a day.
4. I check facebook once a day like email.

The results have been truly amazing. I find myself with a lot more time and able to meet targets with much greater accuracy. It just goes to show how deep resistance is ingrained into all the small things that we do on a daily basis. Every minute we reclaim moves us closer to shipping on time and keeps the resistance within us in check. Have you changed any habits in 2010 that have helped you become more productive?