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Which Data Part 2

Posted on March 22, 2016 at 9:55 AM

I don’t know if you believe the Bible, but when it comes to sales there are a handful of books I look to as Canon. One of those is Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris.* Ferris’ book is fascinating in the way he explains countless ways to cut out the daily drudgery by outsourcing much of your life and only doing things when you want to do them. Crazy, bizarre and amazing in a number of ways.

 

One of the takeaways that made this book so important to me was to ask what I do in a day that really matters. You know, between the emails and co-workers with questions and tasks and tasks and tasks and tasks . . . what are the things that actually generate revenue? And can you prove that?

 

I know for a fact that if I spent five hours on LinkedIn in a week, I will set an appointment. I’d bet on it – and occasionally have! I have spent time building my network so that I can leverage enough relationships (with a winning message, but more on that in a later blog post!), to get in front of someone that matters in a new opportunity that I want to be in front of. No low hanging fruit.

 

My problem has been to find those five hours per week.

 

Do you track what you do and what generates an ROI? And clearly we have to do the account management, leadership tasks, and the minutia of day to day responsibilities. Traction* tells us to elevate and delegate. A current provable ROI metric for me is to identify what can be delegated and also identifying who it should be delegated to and hold them accountable.

 

What do you do that you can bank on an ROI? How can you do more of it?

 

*I do not receive any referral money from Amazon. This isn’t that kind of blog. I just read a lot and figure if I’m citing a source, I should provide a quick and easy link to get the resource.

 

Reverse Engineer the Future

Posted on March 19, 2016 at 2:35 PM

One of the things Google looks to do is project five years into the future and try to anticipate what cannot possibly untrue. As we look at our industries we must anticipate changes. In the IT sphere – the iPad was invented just five years ago. Fast forward to the present and the manager of a large retail store can walk around with this tool and get up to the minute business analytics about how their store is performing and what needs to be reordered to take advantage of demand trends.

 

But how does that work? When I look at an industry, I like to ask three key questions:

 

 

  1. What can be automated?
  2. What information will you need to make better decisions?
  3. What stands in your way to multiplying the labor of your team?

 

The first question makes me think about the blending of personal and business interactivity. I recently was fined for checking my email while at a stoplight. The financial penalty was inspiring for me to stop this reckless behavior, but the motivation for why I was doing it is instructive for what could indicate changes. The reason we have to have laws against texting while driving is that many of us would rather pay attention to our data stream than to drive. Because of this, if driving can be automated, it probably will be. More than just making the world a safer place to be, it allows people like me to do what I’d rather be doing.

 

When I think about better decision making, we should all want to know what is the smartest and best thing we could be doing at all times. But this should not be limited to management or leadership. If each employee knew at all times what was the most important thing they could be doing at all times, we would improve all areas of the company from better client service to accelerated sales growth. Returning to the store manager with access to real time analytics, what questions do you wish you could have answered now?

 

Last, we all have the same number of hours in a week. If you have a team of great employees, the key to growth isn’t tied to “working harder” but working smarter. But this often becomes just a cliché driven by obsession with time management. In growing companies I ask this question: How can you create more value for more people in less time? By making that a part of any sales plan DNA, you will achieve growth. 

Big Data - Which Data? Part 1

Posted on March 17, 2016 at 9:20 PM

I had a convergence of two books I read on vacation last summer that inspired a great deal of thinking. A friend of mine insisted I read Moneyball because he believes that the statistics that really matter to a business are often undervalued because they are not understood. Tom Walker at Praexis Business Labs looks for those undervalued data points and highlights the value they bring.

 

The other book was How Google Works. Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg talk about the questions they ask and explain how they look into the future to see what Google should invest in next.

 

In Moneyball, Michael Lewis explains that the statistic of batting averages was overvalued and over compensated in comparison to on base percentage. A preliminary indicator of probability of winning a baseball game was to reduce the likelihood of a player getting out. Because each team has a defined scarcity of outs in each game, avoiding them by putting a person on base by any means provided a statistically better chance that your team would win.

 

The game Google plays is far different: They look for Billion Person Problems and then try to find ways that they can identify a solution for those people. When it comes to those solutions, though, they look at how those solutions will need to access data. For instance, if self driving cars are in our future, who will provide them the analytics data for driving? Google built its own self driving car to find out how that data could be used – so when self driving cars need data, Google will be there with the solution. But really, this question is as old as technology: How will the hardware use the software?

 

When it comes to what I do, I have to wrestle with how I identify the real data points that matter vs. the ones that appear to matter. Then, taking that one step further, what enormous problem looms in the future of my industry? If I can use modern attempts to solve those data points, and ask questions mindful of the future in my industry, I will be not one step, but ten steps ahead of my competition.

 

So let’s take this into a business development environment and build a case study: Cold calling versus Social Selling.

 

Fifteen years ago a wizened old life insurance salesman told me that people like doing business with their friends. So, he told me, make a lot of friends. This salesman’s proverb is more true now than it ever was. People do want to do business with their friends, or with people who have expertise in their industry, who work with a company they are familiar with, or who have a solution that a company or person they respect bought.

 

But why?

 

Simple: At the Director level I am bombarded with so many ads on so many forms of media that I can’t tell what’s real anymore. Are you Joe from the call center this week leaving me a message? Or Sally from that marketing firm across town? I don’t know, I don’t care, and I’m sending you directly to voicemail and deleting it without listening. But, if you’re Phillip, Jim’s friend, who is doing business with my competitor (but one I respect!), I know I want to talk to you if only to find out what my competition has learned that I haven’t.

 

Compare this to a call report of hundreds of cold calls, aggregating in thousands of voicemails left, deleted, ignored. The data points are clear: you made a bunch of calls! In Moneyball, your batting average is great, but you never score. Whereas building, cultivating, and working a network of connections to get in front of people isn’t sexy, but you score. Your company wins and as a salesperson you get paid.

 

When it comes to data, what’s more important? Walks or Batting Average? Connections or Cold Calls? In both cases, it depends on how you use them. But just because something is easily measurable, doesn’t mean it is valuable.

 

We’ll get to Google and solving Billion Person problems in the future.

Coffee is for Closers

Posted on March 16, 2016 at 10:25 PM

I drink a lot of coffee, I’ll admit; this social drink that we use to create a moment of social interaction just as often as we use it to jump start our morning. But I’ve met with a number of people who I think believe doing coffee is a job requirement. Coffee is a means and not an end to itself.

 

When we talk about doing coffee, it’s often described as Networking. When we look at how a computer network operates, information moves through connections going from point A to point B. The network merely exists to facilitate that transfer. The connectivity itself lacks meaning if it isn’t used.

 

When we look at doing coffee, each person should ask the person across from them, “Why are you here?” More importantly, ask yourself why you are investing your time and a handful of dollars sitting at a small table. What do you hope to gain?

 

When I network, I make a point of declaring my intentions right at the beginning. Often I open with a statement around how good it is to see or meet the person and that I am looking forward to accomplishing something specific with them. If I am looking for a referral from my networking partner, I state who I want to be referred to, why I think they would be interested in meeting me and ask how I can make giving the referral as easy as possible.

 

Finally, when I wrap a coffee meeting, I ask the person I’m with if they got everything they wanted out of our meeting. Then I recap my list of action items for both of us and ask them to hold me accountable for performing what I said I will do.

 

Coffee may by for closers only, but a great networking meeting can help you grow your business. Like anything, though, it must be intentional, have an action plan and create steps for follow through.

 

And if this makes you want to get yelled at by Alec Baldwin, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6Lf8GtMe4M" target="_blank">be my guest.


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