Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Community College - Employer Case Study #1...

One specific community college’s workforce department representative placed a call to a Joe Smith, the Vice President of an energy company who didn’t have time to talk, but was interested in scheduling an appointment.  The VP explained to the corporate college representative that their son recently graduated from college and had received his two year Associates degree at the college.  However, he didn’t know anything about the college’s corporate college and required more information to guide his comprehension during the meeting.

As the meeting took place, the corporate college representative established rapport with the VP,  which permitted him to provide a brief introduction of the corporate college.  The VP intently listened, and when the corporate college representative began to delve into a need assessment, the VP responded by stating that much of the training was handled internally at the facility or through his headquarters in Atlanta.   While there may have been a need, at present, it wasn’t pressing.  However, the VP continued to explain that he did have some needs for which the college seemed to be a great fit.  He continued to express that he wanted to have better exposure in the community and wanted to know about any events at the college which he could sponsor.  In essence, he was looking to be part of a foundation or an advisory board because he is as a big believer in helping students to get ahead.  At that time, the VP was ready to develop a recruiting relationships with colleges.

The corporate college representative nodded his head and explained that he would check back with the VP.  Unfortunately, the representative didn’t see an immediate revenue opportunity for his department or motivation to direct Joe to the right departments— nor could he predict the time it would detract from his main responsibilities.  The representative determined that the meeting would not be valuable to him or his workforce development training products and services; therefore he didn’t pursue further or follow-up with Mr. Smith.


1.       Could there have been a better way to proactively capture the community college’s total value proposition with an employer before the meeting was contracted?
2.       Since the VP didn’t know anything about the college’s corporate college, was it worthwhile to visit and educate him? Why or why not?
3.       At present, it appears that the VP’s priorities do not lie in corporate training, but rather, in understanding how the college’s capabilities could help his own business.  Was this a productive meeting for the college’s corporate training department? Why or why not?
4.   As a result of not following up on the VP’s needs, what impact on the employer’s trust and credibility with the community college and the corporate college division could you foresee occurring? 

Given the work that you do at the Community College, what were your big takeaways?  What messages spoke loudest to you?  Or which ones prompted more questions or concerns?  I'd love to know!  Email me at and write "Community College - Employer Case Study #1" in the subject line.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

What is a Cold Call?

In my next series of blogs, I need to learn and get a better understanding of traditional terms and definitions in combining the new age of technology with the human network.

The Wikipedia definition of a cold call is defined as the solicitation of business from potential customers[1] who have had no prior contact with the salesperson conducting the call, therefore making the call cold.[2]Cold calling is used to attempt to convince potential customers to purchase either the salesperson’s product or service. Cold calling is generally referred to as an over-the-phone process, making it a source of telemarketing, but can also be done in-person by door-to-door salespeople. Though cold calling can be used as a legitimate business tool, scammers can use cold calling as well.

This was relatively easy to understand 20 years ago.  But with the technological advancements such as lead generation databases, email campaigns, inbound, mobile marketing and Robo calling, are the below scenarios changing the definition of a cold call:
  • Lead Generation Databases - When customers exchange their contact information or buy access to customer information.  Is it appropriate calling these leads for the first time and is this considered a cold call?
  • Email and email campaigns - When first sending an email or an email campaign that can provide informative and useful information (i.e. products, services events), with or without a email response.  Is this appropriate for a follow-up phone call and would you consider this a cold call?
  • Inbound Marketing - If you are providing great content (blogs, eforms, white papers) on your website and businesses are clicking on your site or a call to action (CTA). Is this appropriate for a follow-up phone call and would you consider this a cold call?  
  • Instant Text Messaging/Mobile Marketing -  This is someone who is reading a mobile advertisement or responding to a text message.  Is this appropriate for a follow-up phone call and would you consider this a cold call?
  • Social Media - A business contact who is interested in your Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram or social media site. Is this appropriate for a follow-up phone call and would you consider this a cold call?  
A "warm phone call" is another definition that could fall in some of these categories depending how the person responds (clicks on your website, fills out a form, answers a text, joins your linkedin?). 

How do we justify a cold call in this new age of communication without invading each others privacy?  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Is the Sales Role Changing - Becoming More Specialized...

Over the past twenty-years I've noticed significant changes in roles and responsibilities that have become much more specialized.  Below are two (2) examples and I know you can come up with many more:

Baseball:  Remember the starting pitcher was measured on how many complete games he pitched. Many starters would even stay in the game and pitch extra innings.  Now, we have pitching specialists who are long relievers, middle relievers, set-up men and closers.  

Marketing:  For the most part, the role of a Marketing person was being responsible for the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotion and Positioning.  Now, you have pricing specialists, business development (quasi positioning and sales) and traditional - even digital promotional specialists.

As a result of the interactive, web-based technology that is available today and the expertise that is needed in all phases of the sales process, isn't it time to have a team of specialists who are focused on finding leads, selecting prospects (or getting prospects to find you), defining needs, solving problems and developing solutions?  Isn't this the most important piece of your business?  Here are some ideas:

1st Quarter
  • Internet and Inbound Marketing - For this to be successful, you need a great website (i.e. structure, skeleton and surface) and excellent content writers that frequently research and write about interesting and informative topics - making it easy for customers to find YOU!
  • "All Prospects are Leads, But All Leads are not Prospects" -  So how do sales people find leads and select prospects that best fit your ideal customers?  It's not easy, it takes time and you have choices.  1) You can pull lead lists, collect business cards and randomly call or email and pitch your product or 2) the smarter way is "you" determine who your ideal customer profile is and research those prospects who are important to you. 
2nd Quarter
  • So you have your prospects, now what? If you follow choice 2 (above) then you better be prepared to know something about the prospect before you reach out to them. For you to stand out and have a prospect be interested in a meeting, you should have a valuable business reason.  You should have professionally designed information available about your company, yourself, great success stories and testimonials that would appeal to your prospects.  Finally, you have to be persistent.  Remember, these are not leads, they are prospects you want to do business with...  Ideal customers!
Halftime - More Study Time

3rd Quarter
  • Now the 1st meeting takes place.  Not only do you have to be prepared for the sales visit, you have to have the interpersonal skills to establish rapport with the prospect.  You have to make the connection and get the prospect (or stranger) to feel comfortable.  Being prepared nowadays is checking their website, looking at Linkedin profiles, social media, etc., anything where there is a connection that will open up a conversation.  You have to take the initiative because the prospect won't. Instinctively, this can be the most important part of your visit.
  • You got each others attention and you're starting to establish credibility, start to ask intuitive open ended questions and start to "listen and take notes."  Keep the Q&A flowing between both of you throughout the needs assessment. Don't jump to the close!
  • Start to formulate with the prospect what you're hearing into a list of needs, If you established rapport and if you're engaging the prospect throughout the assessment you should have a good list of needs.  
  • Ask this question, "If you need to get something done tomorrow, what would it be?"  I think you'll see your list of needs be reduced to a few critical assignments.  That's OK...  Start to perform a deeper dive into the needs analysis of those critical assignments. You may want to stop here and assign some homework for the next meeting.  Don't jump to the close!
  • Collaborate with the prospect and include the prospect at every stage of the assignment(s) in solving problems throughout the needs analysis process.  Depending on the complexity of each assignment, this could take a lot of your time and effort, but it increases your probability of closing the project.  Don't jump to the close!
  • Make sure that everything up to this point has been confirmed and agreed too and start prepping for the close.  Start the "what if feelers" "What if we can do this, is this what you want, would this work?"
4th Quarter
  • Build and deliver your "No Surprise" proposal.  By this time, your prospect should not be surprised by the proposal content, the value you are providing and the 3rd quarter process you went through together. Most importantly, this will help you to establish trust and credibility with each other over the long term.  Yes, it's all about relationships!
  • Now it's time to ask for the close... Both of you put the "skin in the game" and should be ready to start the project.
Based on the all of the above, think about the amount of time, effort and skillsets needed in transitioning a lead to a prospect, a prospect to an appointment, conducting a need assessment/analysis and collaborating with the prospect up to the close.  BTW, you may need 100 of these projects (some easier, some more difficult than others) to make your revenue number..  

Is it time to redefine the role of the sales organization?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Choose Your Event Wisely.... 6 keys in choosing how to spend your time and your dollars!

Many of us (at least I do) love to get out of the office, attend networking events and conferences, learn new things, meet new people and develop new relationships.  I try to mix a little fun with business.

These events can get costly ($$s and your time) and it's always hard to tell if they lead to any return on investment (ROI). Are they meaningful or not in relation to what we are trying to achieve?  How do we know if we are getting a good ROI? 

From my experience, maybe 50% (if that) of the networking events are truly meaningful and I've learned over the years to be more cautious of where I go, how I participate and most importantly, how much I spend.  So below are some ways I try to determine that:  
  • do your research! What is your purpose in attending?  Is this something that you need to be involved with? How do you fit in? 
  • ask questions...  Ask the event marketing person about last year's attendance, who attended, how you can participate, what's in it for you...
  • if I work on the east coast and the event is on the west coast or across the world, do more research and ask yourself, are there similar networking events that are less costly and more impactful?
  • if the event is really worth attending, be more involved...  Present, Speak, Exhibit, Sponsor, Conduct Workshops, etc..  I find event attendees are more likely to come to you.
  • use technology such as webinars and podcasts using inbound marketing instead of traveling. They can be very effective and cost a lot less.
  • most importantly, follow-up with people you meet. You should be having great conversations at the event.  Don't be afraid to be persistent. 
I'm sure there are even more ways to be more efficient and effective in choosing where you get the biggest return on you dollar and please respond.  These are a few that come to mind.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Employers:  Top Ten (10) Reasons to Hire a Mother – Happy Mother’s Day!

When you look at assessing and hiring talent in your organization, below are my top ten reasons for hiring a mother:

1.       Everyday Leadership – Leaders are made and mothers tailor their approaches based on their family and develop their children into productive, responsible adults everyday.  Who is your role model?

2.       Time Management – Managing a household takes a unique skill from planning, leading, innovating, organizing and controlling your children and even your husband.  All this, while most moms go to work - that’s time management.  Do your husband and children need management?   

3.       Handling Conflict – No brainer here…  Valuing differences and keeping the peace in the household can be an everyday occurrence.  I’m just glad mom was there for me…

4.       Sales – Mothers are kings of selling ideas and negotiation.  They understand all generations, know their audience and convince others that their recommended course of action is usually the best idea. 

5.       Planning – No better planners than moms!  Remember that vacation, that family outing, those special dinners…  They manage our schedules and plan events creating memories for our lifetimes.  Who in your family is managing your next family outing?

6.       Communication Who is there when you need to talk with someone?  How many of your decisions were impacted as a result of mom?  Who starts the conversation within the family?  Mothers are the real communicators.

7.       Team Building – In today’s family, the team approach is more evident than ever and each mom plays a huge role providing a mindset based on cooperation and consensus.  They love and believe that each family member is a valuable resource and together they bring out the sum of each family member’s efforts.

8.       Problem Solver – Understanding problems is diverse across all family members.  The mother hears them all and play the largest role in solving them – no matter how small or how large, you trust mom with your problems…

9.       Outreach - Who usually knows what’s wrong before any words are said?  This is an innate ability that I can’t define.  Imagine if you had employees like this in your business….

10.   Never Ending Service – Mother’s service their family all their lives.  It never ends…  Whether you're a new born baby or you're older in life, your mom will always be there for you.

I’m sure there are many more reasons and feel free to comment. 

Now, I’m not saying fathers don’t contribute (see father’s day), but its mother’s day…  Also, many times I believe their skills can get overlooked in the business community.  So, if you believe in moms and what they stand for, they may be the answer in what your business values most…

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Texas TACE Conference Presentation - B-Harmony

It was a pleasure to present B-Harmony - Targeting an Industry Segment at the TACE conference in Austin, TX with our partner NE Lakeview, Alamo Colleges.  Below is a summary of our presentation content:

  • Start with trickle down segmentation...  Market - Industry - Customer - Ideal Customer (Where's Waldo)
  • Sales organizations are changing… More specialization, competency and focus (setting appointments, relationship building, need assessments, problem solving, delivering solutions) - "Stand Out" with businesses. 
  • More messaging about them (business), less about you BEFORE you contact them.
  • PC and Mobile websites need to be strategically designed, continuously monitored and improved (more cost effective). A critical tool in attracting your audience! 
  • Integrated Marketing - Traditional and Digital mixology.
  • Buyers are Changing - Inbound Marketing. Content is King, Linking is Queen! 
  • Specific geo-targeting or ground war tactics requires an outbound strategy. You can do this right away!
  • The Flux Capacitor: An Inbound Marketing and Outbound Strategy combined with a rich Lead Capture system will keep your business robust and growing.