Archive for January, 2011

Small Businessperson Needs “Help!” SCORE is on the Way

Did you ever wish you had someone to talk with about a business situation that was driving you crazy? Well, you do..

If you are in the process of starting a new business you may have come to the realization that you probably need some (a lot of) help. If you are building a new business and well into the operation, you now know that you have more questions than answers and your need for help continues.

I have good news for you….Help is just a phone call, an email or a face to face meeting away and is ready, willing and available to assist you.  The great news is that it comes at little or no cost and is delivered by an expert in the area in which you need help.

The “Service Corps of Retired Executives” (SCORE) is an organization that is dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of small business.

The power of this organization is one of the best kept secrets in the community. Very few people are aware of the work these folks do; however the ones who have experienced these services always have great things to say about the help they received.

SCORE has offices in many of the large cities across the country and they are staffed by folks who have come out of numerous business and various disciplines. These people love helping new business owners grow.

My specific experience was working with the SCORE office in Lancaster, PA. This office has more than fifty volunteer consultants and they conduct group and individualized training and assistance.

I have personally witnessed them in action and have talked with numerous small businesses that have used them and many have been amazed at the amount of help these folks have been willing to provide.

I have heard of marketing plan meetings being held in members’ dining rooms. I have seen members actually go out and get engaged in the business operations. I have heard the stories about new entrepreneurs who didn’t even realize what business they were in until they made their first sale.

One company had the same SCORE mentor from the day they opened until they made their first million dollars in sales. Another one was positioned to appear on a nationally televised business show and that little push was all they needed to push them well into profitability. And in all of these examples, the only investment needed was to spend time with the SCORE counselor.

The SCORE national office has an email hotline where you can get nearly immediate answers to quick questions. You simply go to the website http://www.score.org and follow the links to ask a question or find a counselor in your area. If you live near the Lancaster, PA area, you can reach them at http://www.scorelancaster.org

We have been told all of our lives that “you can’t something for nothing” and “you only get what you pay for”.

But SCORE defies that advice and will prove to you that you can really get a lot for nothing if you simply know where to look. I can’t think of a better resource for you.

Is Selling Dying? (“Yes it is!”) (“No it’s not!”)

There is an interesting discussion going on in the sales profession blogosphere about whether selling is dying.  What it’s really discussing is “will we need salespeople in the future and what will their role be”.  

I believe at some product levels that we don’t necessarily need sales personnel, but at higher levels, we will always need them.

I remembered discussing this topic years ago. So I and went back a researched some of my writing and the headline article in my very first newsletter (Spare on Sales and Marketing) was “Selling is Dying”.  That was back in July/1993, so apparently the question has been on our minds for a long time.

The closing line in my article back then was “for selling in the nineties (1990’s) the name of the game is how do we deliver the most knowledge (added value) to our customer.”

Will all of this affect your company?  Absolutely! If you understand what is happening you may find a way to reduce or redirect your costs.

If you don’t understand, you will not be able to maximize your sales revenue.  Usually the opportunity is found in understanding of where your products and services fall on a commodity vs. full service continuum. It is tempting to chart the item cost vs. sales need, but we have not completed our research here.

There may also be a terrific opportunity to begin aligning your sales and marketing and customer intimacy roles.

As computers, the internet and social media continue to expand; the customer has more and more access to information and can find out more than he ever could before without interacting directly with a salesperson.  As technology delivers more and more “knowledge” the salesperson’s role must either diminish or change.

Buying cars used to be an ugly process of visiting dealerships to get enough information from high pressure salespeople to make an intelligent buying decision.

I bought my last car over the internet. I needed a sales associate to finalize the paperwork and demonstrate some features after the sale. His real value was simply making me feel comfortable with his dealership.

We have seen a similar transition in how we buy computers, TVs and cell phones, etc. When the knowledge can be delivered without human interaction, the salespersons role is diminished.

I recently heard a presentation in which the speaker said “if the person you are calling can get the same information online, it is not time to talk with them” I disagree in that I think you can start building a relationship while he is doing his research.

There are a number of industries where the customer will need additional help in his research and decision making process and there will always be a role for the salesperson in these situations. The role may become that of the differentiator or negotiator.

Industries where you are selling professional services or highly technical products will always need salespeople. Often in these industries there is a technical consultant available to assist the salesperson and the customer in understanding what he is investing in.

So, we are really still discussing the question of  “what’s the value the salesperson brings”  I believe the salesperson’s task at hand is to be become much more informed about the prospect’s business and industry and their strategies. Then the salesperson needs a full understanding of the potential his product or service offers to assist those strategies.

The discussion leads further into the role of sales and alignment and eventually to the much ignored area of customer intimacy, but I will leave that to a future post or two.

For an interesting read, I suggest you go to Jonathon Farrington’s BLOG http://www.thejfblogit.co.uk/   and search for “Megatrends”

Good Selling!

A Man (Still) In Search of Excellence…A Tribute to Tom Peters

There are any number of consultants, gurus and experts out there who can provide advice, guidance and perspective to business management. Some of the guidance is good, some is bad and some is great. I place Tom Peters in the “great” category.

I first met Tom at a Computerland conference in Montreal in the mid-eighties. I remember asking him how to handle the situation where my large corporate accounts were not willing to pay a little extra for products with my value add. I felt they were picking my brain and then buying (on price) elsewhere. As I stood there expecting a brilliant strategic idea, Tom said….”I don’t blame them !!”  He went to explain that I was actually creating my own problem because I did not know how to properly position the value I was bringing. 

It took me some time to internalize his response, but he did what the great advisors do. He told me the unvarnished truth about my situation and left me to work my way through the new reality he provided.

In time I got over the shock and came to respect him highly. I became a disciple from that time forward. I have read every book he has written. When he started Blogging a few years ago (http://www.tompeters.com) I was excited that he was willing to share his insights almost daily at no charge. Additionally he makes all of his presentations (slide sets) available to his visitors although you have to follow his writings to understand the depth and meaning of the slides.

A few months ago he started using Twitter (@Tom_Peters) and now is recognized as one of the premier business Twitter users.  He continues to dole out advice and commentary. He is sometime outrageous but always honest and sincere. He also does not suffer fools gladly….

His latest book “The Little Big Things” is a compilation of year’s worth of research and thought and a good read. It should be required reading for business admin majors at every college in the world.

The Financial Times recently wrote comparing business consultants

(Business Gurus)….would do well to follow the example of Tom Peters, who wrote In Search of Excellence in 1982 but has never stopped reinventing himself and developing new material, becoming a blogger and Tweeter at an age when many gurus would rather retire to their herbaceous borders. Peters is on Olympus.

I believe anyone in business can benefit from Tom’s expertise and point of view and

I suggest you pay his site a visit and better yet find a way to attend one of his presentations. He is one of the “great” ones…..

Are you Maximizing Your Sales Revenue ???

Welcome to my new website and BLOG page. I am glad to have you here…

Ultimately my goal is to help you find an appropriate approach to “maximizing” your sales revenue.

I hope to present thoughtful and meaningful information about the world of sales, marketing and customer service along with guidance on how you might align these three functions to make them a cohesive force for sales revenue maximization.

I have been involved in sales and marketing activities for more than forty years. During that time I have seen the industry move from time to time to different approaches and techniques, but basically the processes of sales and marketing did not change very much until computers came into prominence in the 70’s. Then for the first time marketers could begin to assemble and massage data to the extent that they could begin doing more targeted programs.

When desktop and personal computers started becoming prevalent in the 80’s the power of computing moved from being managed by an information technology specialist, directly into the hands of the sales and marketing organizations.  Shortly thereafter we started to see Sales Force Automation(SFA) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems being built to help build and manage the data more meaningfully.

Finally, the advent of Social Media networking and systems have given rise to an even more meaningful trove of customer and prospect information that will allow us to finally realize the potential of Pepper and Rodger’s concept of true 1to1 marketing.

But what remains now is the need to” align” the efforts  of the sales and marketing and customer service elements of a company’s resources, propel them with the power of these new tools and build them into a single powerful revenue maximization engine.

If you are interested in learning how you can begin to maximize your sales revenue, I invite you to visit this site from time to time or more simply provide your name and email address in the “Stay Informed” box on the right side of this page and as I post to this BLOG, you will be notified.

For now, please accept my best wishes for a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2011.