Business Lessons from Iraq: the Consequence of Disengaging

business lessons from Iraq

image courtesy of PressTV

As of June 2014, the current situation in Iraq is spiraling out of control.  A new, spin-off terrorist faction called ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is committing atrocities and taking ground in north-central Iraq and moving southward toward Baghdad, changing the short-lived democratic face of the region and creating scenarios and military alliances of convenience that one would have thought implausible two weeks ago.  Although the region has always been unstable (and likely always will be), many analysts concur that the United States’ troop draw down to essentially zero has created a power vacuum, with current Iraqi security forces unable to defend territory and a government in disarray.

Folks, there are business lessons to be learned here. Read More…

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How to Get to First Base with the C-Suite

selling to the c-suite

image courtesy birdswatcher.com

How many people in Sales do you know that do not want to reach the decision-maker with their pitch?  The rhetorical answer is…zero, of course.  When it comes to complex sales of technology, consulting, or other high-value yet high-ticket services in a B2B setting, those decision-makers reside within the C-Suite of your target prospect organizations.  CEO, COO, CIO, CMO – depending upon the responsibility domain of whom best benefits from your stuff; your focus is at this level. But as many of you know, cracking the defenses of the executive wash room crowd is no picnic, so just how do you go about even getting to first base, much less make a sale? Read More…

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How to Double Your Sales Wins Before Your First Call

double your sales wins, sales call plan

image courtesy Wrigley Corp.

Anyone engaged in selling, be it a salesperson or a business owner that promotes her own company, wants to develop new business from new and existing clients.  Unfortunately, most sales professionals lose the sale before they even make their first sales calls, and don’t even know why, chalking it up to a numbers game they can only control by knocking on more doors.  Well people, in my brain, my closure rate is to number of calls as margin is to gross sales—I’d rather call on half the prospects to get the same numbers. Read More…

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Suspect to Prospect: The 1st Rung of the Sales Ladder

image courtesy Michael Becker, Fox Network

If the number 1 reason for missed sales is not asking for the order, then a close second has to be the mis-applied sales pitch; that is, trying to sell to non-qualified prospects.  This is particularly true for high value B2B sales, such as new technology or outsourced professional service contracts.  You just don’t have the time to gamble on sentries, tire-kickers or lonely junior execs looking for someone to talk to.  Top professionals maximize their personal and company time and resources and only present solutions to qualified, high-likelihood buyers where the deck is stacked to win. Read More…

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3 Lies You Tell Yourself About Your Customers That Cost You Sales

image courtesy "Sudden Impact", Warner Bros

In my line of work, one of the most frequent expressed needs my technology clients talk about is new business development.  Sales have stagnated or dropped, and the CEO is seeking the classic Hunter.  This makes sense.  New business development is incredibly important.  But what about old business development?  I’ve found out that many business owners are kidding themselves about the business opportunities that come from current accounts and continue to believe some whoppers about the current state of their sales, and that belief is costing them easy sales.  Read More…

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Going Vertical: Discovering Target Markets That You Can Succeed In

Vertical markets, going vertical

image courtesy of Feelart @ freedigitalphotos.net

Business leaders are increasingly trading in their shotguns for laser-sited sniper rifles.  You may think I’m talking about a clever way to circumvent new and anticipated gun legislation, but you would be wrong.  Of course, I am referring to targeting markets; more specifically, generalist businesses bringing a focused attack to targeting customers to generate more, deeper and multi-faceted layers of customer relationships and sales revenue.

But how do you succeed in selecting the right target market, or vertical, and early stage execution without total, break-the-bank reinvention of your company? Read More…

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Becoming a Business Chameleon: Adapting to Change Before It Happens

image courtesy Predator, 20th Century Fox

We all remember in science class as kids the theory of Darwinian Evolution: survival of the fittest, or more simply, adapt or die.  Unfortunately, the fear of impending death is usually the case for action for adapting in modern business as well.  That’s what makes it so tough to reinvent business—when the pressure is on with the figurative gun to the head of the chief executive.  But what if you could adapt to change or anticipate the need for it before the hammer was cocked, before the competition?  You’d become a business chameleon, protected for self-preservation and dangerous to competitors, hitting them before they see you.  Heck, you’d be the business Predator. Read More…

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Committing Nicheocide: 3 Signs It’s Time to Kill Your Niche

business niche suicide, nicheocide, dead business niche

image in part by zirconicusso @freedigitalphotos.net

All good business leaders these days know that developing a market niche is critical to growing deep business development roots.  People want to be served by experts, particularly in the consulting or professional service spaces.  If you haven’t made a mark as a thought leader in your specific slice of the market, you’re breathing competitive tailwinds as you lead from behind, and soon you’ll be choking.  Or so says conventional wisdom.  I’m here to tell you that it’s not a one-size-fits-all world, and there are times when, for your own fiscal health, you need to commit Nicheocide and kill your business niche. Read More…

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Mental Aerobics for Salespeople: Breaking Through

brain aerobics, mental conditioning

image by marin/ddparumba @ freedigitalphotos.net

Sales professionals leverage their history, training and experience in their personal selling tool kits, making them available as needed to attack any sales situation.  This is good.  But what happens when it isn’t working, when you’re in a rut, and you just can’t seem to move the needle with that target account and you’ve exhausted all of your known tactics?  It’s time to change your approach, and that’s easier said than done when years of training and success have boxed in your brain with certain “realities”.  It’s time to hit the mental gym. Read More…

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Selling Technology to the C-Suite: Making the Complex Actionable

selling technology, selling the c-suite

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick @freedigitalphotos.net

We’ve all seen sit-coms showing nerds at Star Trek or Lord of the Rings Conventions, laughing at the esoteric, inside-baseball, goofy factoids that everyone in attendance knows about and the audience doesn’t.  That super-geek behavior is what makes it funny.  They’re talking their own special language of techie pop-culture, yet it is Greek to the rest of us.  If you’re company sells technology products and services, and that is a lot of firms these days, beware your sales approach to the buyer who isn’t as up to speed on the hi-tech bells and whistles as you have become.  You might seem just as alien as the Hobbits from the TV convention, except it won’t be funny when you end up losing the sale.

This happens more often than not when well-versed sales engineers get past the high-tech user audience and need to pitch to the C-suite.  Those real decision-makers speak a language of their own, and you need to learn it if you want them to start scratching out checks. Read More…

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