Category Archives: Sales methodology

A marble on the keyboard; advice to new sales reps

marble on keyboard

Sales outreach is on my mind.  We are launching a new product, Capture! and today, two of our junior reps reached out to me for advice. Why? I am a phone animal.  I break call accounting systems, wear out wireless headsets and I’d blow the curve for the average rep.  I have fun on my calls and have learned,  failed,  explored and developed techniques to get 9 out of 10 call backs.

At this point in my life it is not a set of techniques, but a way of thinking.  It is now part of me. However, I wasn’t always this way.  It took years to cultivate the skills, to act with intuition, to do without thinking,  to blink.  Back to speaking of new people…

Working from home today, I got a call from Chris, a new sales representative at RingLead (for those who know me, I recently accepted the position of Acting CEO @ RingLead).  RingLead is a specialist in helping to Dedupe  Salesforce.  Chris was on speaker phone and he had another “Chris” with him.  They wanted to bounce ideas off me.  They developed a call plus email campaign.

New campaigns are not simple to execute.  You must A/B test and adjust as you work through the initial campaign.  We did a great job in recruiting and these guys were prepared. After bouncing a few ideas around, they were ready to go.  Why is a CEO spending time doing this?  In this case, I just built and delivered a new product where I am the subject matter expert (Capture!).

The knowledge needed to be transferred throughout the organization.  Besides, I am good at it and I enjoy doing it.  Eight minutes  (yes I timed it) of time spent coaching these new reps in the right direction can have tens of thousands of dollars of impact in the long run.  The ROI is there.

This is an important distinction that most organizations miss.  The manager is not necessarily the trainer, nor the coach.  I am not the manager, nor the trainer, but a few minutes of high-impact training can make huge impact if used strategically.  Write this down.

Back to my new sales guys.  Now they are ready.  In fact I can see they are making calls now.  Not 30 second calls, but four, five, eight and twenty minute calls.  This means they are engaging.  Capture is going to be big!  What 5 bits of advice did I give them?

  1. Sales is a numbers game. ok duh, Donato, no big secret there.  Everyone talks about this.
  2. Every call counts. This is less talked about.  Some dismiss this, yet they are dead wrong.
  3. Every call affects your attitude Even less talked about.  This is where the leader exceeds the manager. Managers rarely talk about this, leaders do.
  4. Attitude is everything.   No,  really.  This is where the coach exceeds the typical leader.
  5. Put a marble on your keyboard What the heck?

It is simple.  If sales is a numbers game, every call counts and affects your attitude (and attitude is everything), then you must control your attitude.  You do that by putting a marble on your keyboard.  Get it? Blog over, fat lady sings and I now I get to press “Publish” If I lost you, watch my video (I’ll explain it).

In addition to my video if you are facing reluctance in picking up the phone, my friend Connie Kadansky is the “Call Reluctance Coach”.  Her material is top quality and can be seen at:

Trade show tip: Remove fillers from your vocabulary

Trade shows.  You have 10 seconds maximum to engage and get the interest of a passer by.   Time is critical.  Time is everything.

Eliminating filler words such as “Um”,  “Ah”,  “Er” and “You know” is paramount.  It kills your presentation and will cost you the sale.

So you’ve been is sales for years and you think it’s ok?

I’ve got news for you:  When I hear constant “Um, ah, er, eh, you know” in conversation you are stamped as irrelevant.  You are an amatuer.  You’ve had some great sales months, but you are not a great sale rep.   Language and the articulation thereof is the engine that drives sales.  If your communication ability sucks time from my life,  I just don’t have time for you.  I am not alone.

I am being honest with you, right now.  You may be right out of college or have a few sales years under your belt.  Maybe you just never made the effort to improve.  You may think it is ok; your friends may talk this way and reinforce this habit.

If you are thinking this way, you are wrong.  You will never be great in sales without mastering communication. 

The first step to fixing the language filler problem is realizing you have one.  If you have the desire,  this video will help.  Good luck.

The “After Show” Effect, CES in Las Vegas

You picked the right trade show, you got people to your booth.  Great conversations and a pile of cards.  Your sales team is excited!  What next?

There are many facets to success at a trade show.  Elevator Pitch, pre-show marketing, booth setup, etc.  If you don’t have a good elevator pitch, here is a blog that can help you.   Nailing the 30 second Elevator Pitch.

Again, I ask…what next?   Think about this scenario, it is an important concept.

For the sake of this scenario, our fictional vendor is TabletCo.  They sell the hottest new Android Tablet for the educational market.

A prospect, Harry, walks up to your TabletCo booth.  He loves your product! Harry is excited about using the tablet at the school where he is a History teacher.  The school district is large. It is a good opportunity.  Some further questioning yields the fact the entire school district wants to have a tablet for each student.  Being a conscientious sales rep, you get Harry’s card.  You are all set for the follow up…or are you?

This is the disconnect point.  Not just in sales at a trade show, but sales in general.  Important questions:

  1. Is Harry the decision maker?  Can he say YES to a purchase?
  2. If is he the decision maker, is he the ONLY decision maker?
  3. What is the approval process for purchasing at Harry’s district?  Is Harry even aware of the process?
  4. Is the information on Harry’s card current?  He is a teacher, did you get a cell phone, direct line and email address?
  5. What happens if Harry moves to a different position in the next week?
  6. What happens if Harry gets laid off?
  7. What are the names, titles, emails phone numbers and backgrounds of other people that will participate in a decision?

Simple questions.  Do you normally have the answers after the show?  Why is it important?

Having multiple points of contact is the single greatest factor in getting a sales advance.

What is a sales advance?  It is not a sale.  A sales advance is forward movement in the sales process.

Having, and leveraging 3 points of contact “after show” will give you a 9X success factor over following up with a single contact.

Did you get 3 points of contact or a single card? How do can you turn a single point of contact into multiple points of entry?

Turn this:

Scan of Donato's Biz Card


Into this:







After spending $1000’s at a trade show, every lead is precious. Don’t waste them.  If you have the opportunity at the show, leverage each connection to get as many points of contact as you can.  Some good questions to ask:

Does your contact sign off on the purchase or does she simply recommend? Who are the parties involved in the decision process?  What are their titles? When was the last time your contact signed off on something?  What is the approval process?  Are they currently using another vendor? When does that contract end?

If you are having trouble getting those additional points of contact, a great resource is Broadook’s Profiler.

Bottom line.  If you are not prepared, your first outreach after a trade show can be your last. Spend the time to get as much out of your leads as possible.

Last thought:  Think hard.  People getting back from a trade show are bombarded with every vendor emailing and calling after the show.

How are you going to stand out?

Line 1300; What are the rights of an incoming caller?

What rights does an incoming caller have?  To be more specific, an incoming solicitor calling a place of business?

At home, we have the do-not-call list.  This could never be put into effect for business, nor do I think anyone sane would see it as a good idea.  Business would halt.

The general consensus that I have gathered is that callers to your home have no rights.  Hanging up on them is acceptable with a simple “no thank you” is status quo.  This I find fascinating.  When I polled regarding a caller to a business environment, the treatment is different.  Recipients of call to a business environment report that they will listen 1-2 minutes before exiting from a call they don’t want.  Some reasons why at home and office:

At Home

  1. Home is sacred, people feel invaded and justified to not give up their home time
  2. It’s usually at the end of the day, evening, people want to relax
  3. Non equivalence.  You are home, the caller is at work

At the Office

  1. Professionalism.  The Golden Rule.
  2. Equivalence.  You are both in a work environment
  3. You may be calling them tomorrow
  4. You really may be interested in their service

In essence, this is a philosophical question.  What is your corporate belief system? What is your personal belief system?  For me, today was back to back  scheduled meetings and three solicitors got past my gatekeeper. Rare.  It inspired this blog and reminded me of one of my beliefs:

“I came here to say that I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim, how large their number or how great their need.”

Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead.

Of the three in-bound calls, one lied to my gatekeeper to get to me.  This is plain stupid.  Alienate the person who manages my schedule.  The other two reached me while everyone else was at lunch.  Not one of the three had a coherent message.  How much of my time did they get? Less than five seconds.  Did I hang up on them?  No. There is another option!

About three months ago, in talking with our administrative staff, I came up with the idea for line 1300.

If you end up in line 1300, you get a recording that sound something like this:

“Hello. You have have reached line 1300 at Broadlook Technologies because you were either unclear or perhaps rude in your outreach.  This is your chance to get it right.  At the sound of the tone please leave a clear, articulate message detailing how your product or service is right for Broadlook.  We listen to this voicemail box once per week.  If we are interested we will contact you.  Thank you.”

What does line 1300 do?  It empower the people that support me.  They do not have to take crap from rude callers.  It gives your staff an immediate out from a monotonous, unclear, script-reading telemarketer.  In addition, it covers the litmus test of professionalism.  We DO listen to 1300 once per week.

Line 1300 is NOT about being mean.  It is fair.  Personally I give sales a step by step guide on how to sell to me. If they don’t follow it, line 1300.

Try adding a line 1300.  Your staff will love your for it.

Grandfathering bandwidth and the flexible appliance

There is a new commodity in the high tech world.

Unlimited bandwidth.

Ask any of the iPad user that got one in the early days. Unlimited bandwidth is no longer available on the iPad.   I am one of the lucky users. With a combination of my travel schedule,  high Bandwidth using applications like Netflix and Broadlook’s Profiler, I regularly top 12-15 Gigabytes per month in data transfer.  Data plans today cover 2GB which means I am using 6-8 times the bandwidth that new iPad users get.

I am a bandwidth hog.   I am one of the 2% of people that use the majority of the bandwidth and I’ve got a message for AT&T…I’m keeping my plan…forever.

Why blog about this?  It is a warning for the uninformed.

Guess what?  Very soon you will be a bandwidth hog.  AT&T, Verizon and the other carriers understand this.  It is the nature of technology.  More and more applications, business logic and media rests in the cloud.  Now Apple and Google each want to offer streaming music services.  No longer will you have your iTunes on your desktop, laptop or iPad.  Nope.  They want all your music in the cloud.  Why?   Apple gets a piece of the service fee that you pay AT&T for your iPhone or iPad.  Bandwidth is the new electricity.

This is reminiscent of 2002–2008 when every idiot said that you must make your software offering SaaS (Software as a service).  SaaS is mostly good for service providers since it gives them reoccurring revenue, but it is not always the best solution.  Don’t get me wrong, I am huge believer in SaaS, but it is not a panacea.

Now they (the same smart zealots who want your $$)…are saying that they want all your stuff in the cloud.  Why?  Simple, if you store everything : backups, music, CRM, etc in the cloud then you need bandwidth to access it.

Whose cloud?

At the recent Oracle OpenWorld conference, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle talked about the cloud NOT being a single set of servers but a flexible appliance.  Thank you Larry!  He gets it. Most don’t.

The Flexible Appliance

What is it?  My iPhone is a flexible appliance.  In a recent talk at the MRI Worldwide conference (The Near and far Future of Recruiting), I demonstrated on stage the advent of the mobile web server.  My laptop connected to a website that was hosted on my iPhone and one person in the front row said “that’s cool!” out loud.  Not the response I was hoping for, but it sunk in to enough  people that had time to think about it.  It inspired some great conversations about the future of recruiting.

I used an iPhone app called ServersMan that makes your iPhone a web server.  Being able to run a web server on a mobile phone has huge implications.

If you want to test the vision of a technical leader ask them this question:

When mobile devices (iPhones, iPads) can act as functional web servers, what does that mean for the technology landscape?”

They should be stunned, they should be wondering, they should be smiling.  If they don’t, then they lack vision.  The advent of the true flexible appliance will bring:

-Massive bandwidth usage.  Via your mobile flexible appliance/personal web server, you will be connected to everything

-Downfall of Facebook.  News to Zuck.  The future social networks will be controlled from the pocket.

-movement from “their” cloud to “my” cloud.

When I have proposed the above, among tech folks, they remind me that some sort of middleware needs to facilitate one mobile web server finding and connecting to another.  This already exists, it is called dynamic DNS and their are a bunch of companies that offer this.   With DynamicDNS, my iPhone web server could very quickly connect to 200 of my friends and update my status on their mobile devices.   No cloud, no Facebook needed.   The only limitation is bandwidth and mobile processing speed.

The above scenario will happen once people realize they don’t want Facebook storing everything about them.  Due to the nature of the beast, they will continue to violate the privacy of their users.  Eventually it will go away.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Facebook.  It gives me a way to connect with grandma and show pictures of the kids.  Facebook may change and become the king of the middle, middleware the ties everything consumer together.  But do you trust them?  I don’t.

It’s all about the middleware.

As I look at SaaS (Software as a Service) and then PaaS (Platform as a Service) combined with the advent of the flexible appliance, I realize that my previous thinking was limited.  In the mobile future,  the mobile is the cloud, the flexible appliance.  For consumer apps like Facebook, people will eventually prefer to keep their personal data in a place they control it.  However, for business applications like CRM and ATS (Applicant Tracking), I see a new class of business.  Middleware as a service (MaaS).

Middleware as a service will balance the load between the cloud and the flexible appliance.  Unlike the limited browser-based applications today, MaaS systems will balance the rich interface and local power of flexible appliance with the security, flexible business logic and data storage in the cloud.  It will be interesting to watch it evolve.

With all this stuff in the works… if you get an unlimited bandwidth package, read the contract and if you can, never give it up.  Providers will offer unlimited bandwidth as a promotion and then like AT&T/Apple, try to get you to downgrade from $30 per month to $25 per month to relinquish your unlimited package.

Did I mention that once you get it, never give it up?