Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Honk Honk

Jerry Seinfeld told the story of a male motorist attempting to obtain the attention and affection of an attractive woman walking in stride with his slow-moving car.

He simply laid on his horn! Beep Beep.

That guy, in Jerry's words, "is out of ideas"

It's 2010, and THE VAST MAJORITY of companies who hire new business development salespeople tell them they MUST make between 50-150 cold call telemarketing calls a day. These companies, like that poor SOB honking on his horn, ARE OUT OF IDEAS.

I got a cold call from the bank I do my business banking with yesterday. I won't reveal the name of the bank though it rhymes with Blitizens Tank. Anyway, the gentleman had a clear speaking voice and enunciated well. In a mere couple of seconds, he came off as pleasant and intelligent. He then began, without stopping to breathe or anything else, reading from a ultra-cheesy, salesy script. I politely tried to stop him...twice...to no avail. I'm a career sales and marketing person but I still had to hang up on the guy. He wouldn't stop reading that damn script.

Blitizens Tank Senior Sales Management....THEY ARE OUT OF IDEAS.

I get on this subject once in a while because I'm utterly astonished that companies still do this. The number of ways to economically reach new potential customers and markets has exponentially increased. Of course, most companies take these NEW remarkable communication vehicles and apply OLD mass media marketing techniques and methodologies. (Look at us!!! Listen to us!!...We're the best!!..We're incredible!!..Buy our stuff NOW!!!)

These companies, via the technological wizardry created by brilliant minds, were handed the coveted "new ideas" in the form of Web 2.0 as well as the many talented people behind its creation and delivery.

It didn't take long- even after being handed the Keys to the Kingdom- to "run out of ideas" on how to reach their desired markets.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Truth...It Hurts

Jack Nicholson's Colonel Jessup, up on the witness stand, uttered one of the most famous lines in cinema history on the subject of Truth in the film A Few Good Men.

(I'll spare ya...you know the line...somebody always feels compelled to bark it out and act as though their delivery and timing was impeccable. Alcohol is often involved)

I'll insert, relatively speaking, how this plays in the world of professional selling.

The Forecast Meeting. Manager and rep, one on one. One by one they go through "The Deals". I don't care who the organization is, "The Truth" is swaddled like a newborn. The truth on most of the deals, including the ones that are "far along" is the rep- and now the manager- have no idea what's going to happen. Oh, sure, the rep certainly acts in a manner consistent with someone who knows what's going to happen (if they want to stay employed, that is). Then there's the Manager-whether their style is more consistent with a Marine Corp Drill Instructor or Oprah after two glasses of Chardonnay...doesn't matter. Remember, that Manager ALSO has a manager and, if "The Truth" is real ugly, it's better to put perfume on that pig...until every last option out of this mess is exhausted.

It's the consummate "CYA" move and it is hardy limited to people who sell for a living. It's everywhere in society. How do you know if something is "the truth"? Here's how: it hurts. Much more often than not, it hurts. And I must admit, somebody once asked me "..what's the alternative?.", and I didn't have a great answer.

-Do I look "frumpy" in this dress?
-Does it look like I'm losing some hair up top?
-Tell me...PLEASE TELL ME that Lehman Brothers is going to be o'kay!?!?

In fairness, the salesrep at times is not to blame. Why? Because buyers tell them what the buyer needs to tell them to serve their agenda...and, believe me, the buyer ALWAYS has agenda. It's funny, for centuries it's been the salespeople who have been tagged as the ones not shooting straight.

So what kind of landscape would we have in professional selling if rank and file and management ALWAYS came clean about forecast, pipeline etc,. Personally, I think it would bring sanity, cleanse unequivocally and possibly turn on its head a system that has been nothing more than educated guesswork for time immemorial.

And up next we could tackle the truth-impaired world of professional politicians!

I'll close with another pop culture reference. Aerosmith released a song in 1973 that was and is still immensely popular...probably their most iconic song. It rhymes with "Cream Dawn"