Category: Sales strategy advice

This is likely the best commencement speech ever given

This is likely the best commencement speech ever given

A commencement address is supposed to be a motivating speech that propels graduating students on for the rest of their life. It is supposed to be those nuggets of wisdom that the graduate can look back at and understand the secrets of success as understood by the presenter.

Regardless of your profession, be it sales, management, accountant, shopkeeper, truck driver, or construction, most commencement addresses fall short of that ideal but this one does not. In my opinion, it is one of the best commencement addresses of all time and it is applicable to any and all people in the US and the world.

The University of Texas at Austin, 2014 Commencement Address, Admiral William H. McRaven Remarks by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, BJ ’77, ninth commander of U.S.Special Operations Command, Texas Exes Life Member, and Distinguished Alumnus.

We all need this advice in life. Do the small things and the big things will take care of themselves, don’t back down to fear, and together, as a team, we can do great things.

  1. Make your bed – take care of the small things if you want to do big things
  2. Find people to paddle with you – you cannot do this along
  3. Measure the size of heart, not flippers – everyone is different and that is okay and it doesn’t matter to be successful
  4. Get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward – failure is a constant part of life just deal with it
  5. Don’t be afraid of the circuses – it will make you stronger
  6. Sometimes you have to slide down obstacles head first – sometimes it is important to take risks to get ahead
  7. Don’t back down from the sharks – your courage will get you through
  8. You must be your very best in the darkest moments – in the darkest moments is when success is the closest
  9. Start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud. Hope for everyone – together, we can succeed
  10. Don’t ever, ever ring the bell – quitting is a final act and you don’t get “do overs” in life
Is your customer’s sprinkler leaking?

Is your customer’s sprinkler leaking?

I have been following Nick Miller the President of Clarity Advantage for years (close to 20 years). He has been publishing advice about sales on a weekly basis and has earned my respect for creating glimpses of examples in life that teach the philosophy of sales. Nick is based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees.

If you are not subscribed to Nick’s newsletter, you should be.

Most of his stories start with “In which we are …”.

Here is one of his latest articles. This particular article comes with the preamble:

In which we are reminded to meet routinely with our clients, certainly with our most significant clients, so we can anticipate and address challenges early rather than waiting for them to call us once there’s a breakdown.

One summer, a few years ago, during my morning drives to work, I noticed pools of water on the road asphalt along one side of the square. Morning after morning, water – twenty or thirty gallons, maybe – pooled in the road.

“Sprinkler head must be broken,” I’d think as I drove past the square each morning.

After several weeks of this, my internal dialog shifted to, “I wonder why someone doesn’t notice the water and fix the sprinkler? Surely they must inspect these things?” And then, as more time passed, to “I should call someone about that.”

Never mind that I’d had the thought, somehow I would forget or it would seem like too much work to figure out who to call. So, I did nothing, expecting that SOMEONE in the town maintenance department would figure this out and fix it.

Finally, one morning, I called them.

“Oh,” they said, “thank you so very much for calling. We didn’t know about it.”

And they fixed it that same day. No more road water. After several thousand gallons wasted.

My memory of this was prompted last week when I noticed a broken sprinkler on a baseball field past which I drive. Five outfield sprinklers functioning perfectly and, from the sprinkler on the first base line – water shooting 30 feet STRAIGHT up into the air. Tuesday morning… Wednesday morning…Thursday morning.

“Why doesn’t anybody notice this?”, I wondered. “Don’t they inspect these systems?”

Nobody inspects these things. I called them on Thursday morning.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: We (as sales people) should be inspecting these things with and for our clients. We put our relationships and sales opportunities at risk if we don’t. Why wait until clients call to tell us “they have water in the road” or some other problem we could fix?

Instead, set up routine ‘inspections’ – “Annual Relationship Reviews,” “Quarterly Reviews,” “Monthly Check Points” – with clients, frequency based on their circumstances, rates of change, and risk of loss, so we can anticipate and address problems before our clients lose thousands of gallons or dollars or hours of time.

Photo by mccun934

Tweet length with 280 characters is still very important

Tweet length with 280 characters is still very important

It is very difficult to create a brand on Twitter, so it is important to manage your tweet length. The service is a streaming service, and the flow of tweets is constant. This problem is even truer if your user community follows a large number of sources. In that situation, your tweet may only be on someone’s page for a few seconds or, at best, a few hours. Retweets help to increase your brand by delivering your message again, but if you don’t manage your tweet length then your tweets become less viable for retweeting.

This article is a re-write of an early article that I did when Twitter was restricting the number of characters to a tweet to 140 characters. However, just because the tweet length has been expanded to 280 characters, the content is still very relevant.

When readers retweet your tweets, your influence in the community will increase. You need to think of two parameters if you want to maximize your retweets:

  • The tweet has value to your target audience.
  • The tweet length makes it easy to retweet.

I am assuming that you are only tweeting things that are valuable to your target audience. I talk about content for tweets elsewhere on this site, so I am not going to spend time on that here.

To maximize your reach, you must manage the tweet length of your message. This tweet length management allows the reader to hit the retweet button, put a short comment, and hit send. If the user has to edit your tweet length to get it under 140 characters, then you make it more difficult for them. If it is more difficult to do a retweet, then it is likely they will not retweet your original wisdom.

Twitter currently has a tweet-length of 280 characters. That is not a lot of characters to share your wisdom, and it is even harder if you have to manage the tweet length to allow effective retweets. That is your life though, so let’s work on the technique.

Your first task is to count the letters in your Twitter name or Twitter handle. In my case, my Twitter name is “soshaughnessey.” That handle has 14 characters. That is a lot of characters, and I wish that I would have chosen a shorter handle, but it is too late. I didn’t realize the information in this article when I first established my account, and now I have too much of a brand among my readers to change it.

There are some other constants that you need to consider to manage the tweet length. A retweet is designated on the Twitter stream with “RT @” before the Twitter name of the original tweeter. That is four characters. This means for me to have a tweet retweeted, it will start with “RT @soshaughnessey” which is 18 characters.

We also want to leave some room for the retweeter to say something. Think of things like “Great article!” (14 characters), “I agree!” (8 characters), or “Must read!” (10 characters). My rule of thumb is that we want to give the retweeter ten characters but the more, the better.

So what is my personal tweet length target? I aim for no more than 252 characters. That is 280 characters minus my Twitter name, the retweet constants, and the room for comment.

252 = 280 – 14 [soshaughnessey] – 4 [RT @] – 10.

Tweet Length = 280 – your handle length – 4 – 10.

If you leave your Twitter handle and the length of your target tweet length in the comments, I will be sure to follow you. Better yet, if you retweet the tweet for this article, I will follow you. You can find the original tweet for this article here. You can also follow me at @soshaughnessey.

Photo by Xiaobin Liu

The Seven Deadly Management Sins Of Sales Managers

The Seven Deadly Management Sins Of Sales Managers

I recently read a great article by John Care, Managing Director of Mastering Technical Sales and author of the book Mastering Technical Sales: The Sales Engineers Handbook. His focus was on pre-sales managers but I actually think the seven sins were appropriate for any leader and definitely any sales leader. Here is a quick list but jump over to John’s article and read the rest of his discussion.

Management Sin 1: Expecting Perfection – You Are Only Human.

Management Sin 2: Micro-Managing the Detail.

Management Sin 3: Confusing Communications

Management Sin 4: Not Understanding Who The Customer Is – to modify John’s point in his article, a sales leader isn’t primarily serving the customer that pays the bills but the sales leader should consider his/her sales team to be the customer. Question for all sales managers: what did you do today that will enable your salesperson to hit their goals when you are not watching?

Management Sin 5: Giving Orders.

Management Sin 6: Losing Sight Of The Fight.

Management Sin 7: Ignoring The Needs Of Your Employees.

Think about the best and worst characteristics of all your previous managers. Make a list. That is a great start to positive and negative behavior for any presales leader. You must understand that, especially in high-technology settings, there are many ways to get something done – and only one of those ways is “yours.”

We have all seen great salespeople flop when they become managers. I believe there are two key reasons for this:

  1. The great salesperson really didn’t know how they were able to achieve greatness. Yes, they did most things correctly, but they didn’t understand why they were doing those things. This caused them to be unable to effectively share these techniques with their teams.
  2. The great salesperson thought that managing was different than selling. If the sales manager looks at each of their team members as an individual customer and tries to think about how to “sell” that individual on the manager’s goals, the entire process would go differently. For instance, you would never “tell” a prospect that they have to do X. Instead, you would explain to a prospect why doing X was in their best interest and helped the prospect achieve his or her goals. When you treat your direct reports like a prospect, everyone wins.

You should read the entire article by John on this subject. It is excellent. Please download it here.