Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Book Review: Softwar by Mathew Symonds

If you have ever worked with Oracle or competed against them; this book is a must read. It captures the competitive spirit of Larry Ellison and the resultant culture of his firm. The book highlights the "Perfect Storm" of Oracle's infamous encounter with the State of California and details Ellison's gamble in shifting the company from a vendor of client-server software to the E-Business Suite. Whether or not Symonds intended to draw analogies between Ellison's yachting "hobby" and his business pursuits it makes for a very interesting read.

After reading about Oracle's battles against Microsoft you can't help rooting for Ellison and his warrior leadership style.

As a salesperson in the software industry I found it a great read!

James Gingerich


Monday, June 23, 2008

What happens when you get hit by a truck?

August 30, 2007. Crossing the street with the light I was struck by a red pickup truck.

10 months later I'm not yet back to 100%. It wasn't planned. I wasn't in control. It's affected my stamina, my attitude, my stress level and now has cut into my sales results.

I didn't do anything wrong and it's not fair.

Who cares?

Business is about results. Performance is about results. Period.

One's ability to compartmentalize is one's key to persevering here. When at work think only of work. Leave the insurance forms, the pain, the frustrations at home. At work try as much as possible to think only of the task at hand. Make a list of the top ten things you need to do that day and then concentrate on getting those done.

Pysical injuries that impair travel or your ability to work from home need to be fully explained and managed with your employer. In my case immediately after the accident I took a week's holiday's to rest, recover and hope for the best. Once I knew how bad the damage, two blood clots in my left leg; I negotiated the ability to work from home until such a time I could physically come back to the office.

Pain medication is a beautiful thing however it can affect memory. If working from home make copious homes and adhere to a strict system of followup. Prolonged leg pain can make a sound sleep next to impossible. After awhile systemic sleep loss does affect your performance. Sticking to a system can keep you in the game and prevent you from inadvertantly alienating some of your best customers.

Even when you get back to the office, realize your limitations. You won't be able to work the hours you did prior to the accident. You have to gradually build your strength back up. Progress is never linear. There will be several weeks where pain and mobility don't seem to be improving. Patience and persistance are important here. Set goals for numbers of calls, emails etc per day and stick to it as best you can. Cut out unnecessary tasks like blogs until you have the time to give it the attention it deserves. Make extra allowances for new demands on your time. Physio, doctor's apointments, insurance forms, legal conversations can take tons of time. Schedule these types of interruptions for off hours as much as possible.

Keep your chin up. Others may offer their help but don't count on it. Experiences like this allow you a real opportunity of finding out who your friends really are.

Remember that Nietzsche once said whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

James Gingerich

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lesson Learned: Prospect Integrity

I've been involved in hi-tech sales since 1986. With that much sales experience you begin to think you've seen it all. And then a large company surprises you and not in a good way.

I'd like to state the company's name right here but I won't compromise my own sales professional code of conduct just to make a point.

Suffice it to say, I wasted a lot of time pursuing a prospect this quarter that is never going to generate any revenue. And had they been honest with me to begin with or at least ethical with me to begin with; I never would have wasted any time with them at all.

Mere sour grapes over a lost sale?


This company approached me at the end of last quarter after downloading our mobile device management software. After trying unsuccesfully for several weeks to get onsite and set up a pilot I was asked for pricing.

My gut told me not to quote.

I discussed my reluctance to quote with the purchaser. He brushed aside my candid concerns about being "column fodder" and explained to me that he needed our pricing for budgetary purposes only at this point. We would still be invited onsite to set up a pilot before the decision would be made.

I ignored my gut. I quoted. I didn't want to lose my shot at a six figure deal.

The day after I quoted I promptly followed up, only to be told to give them a call back in two weeks. Classic. They had their pricing and now they didn't need me for anything else. What else could I do but call back in two weeks?

When I called back my main point of contact refused to speak with me and informed me I would be hearing from his boss. My stomach knotted. This was not good news.

Later the email I received from his boss simply stated that "after careful review" they would not be selecting our product. There was nothing else I could do at this point but put a call into the "boss" and hopefully get some explanation.

He called me back about 10 minutes later. He explained to me that this fortune 1000 account had acquired a systems integration company in Q4 of last year that was a reseller for one of our competitors' products. There was no way they were ever going to purchase from us.

I wanted to ask him to define the word "ethics" for me.

I wanted to see if it was alright for our technical people to bill him for the "free consulting" we gave his firm as part of what we thought was an open sales process.

I wanted to ask him if he would be willing to prepare an indepth quotation for us?

Instead, I just thanked him for the opportunity of quoting their business, wished him good luck with the project and reminded him to keep us in mind if the technology they just purchased didn't meet their expectations.

When that phone conversation ended; at least one of us still had some integrity left.

James Gingerich

Book Review: 20 Days to The Top by Brian Sullivan

There are some authors you connect with and some you don't. Sorry Brian I'm not quite getting it. The acronym PRECISE does give one a basic sales methodology but I've seen better. The free DVD sales seminar that came with the book provided me with a little extra insight as to why the book didn't quite meet my personal expectations.


Highlighting the DVD sales seminar was a short video clip of Brian Sullivan and Julia Roberts from a movie scene that he snuck onto while it was being shot. The topic covered at the time was pride or being proud.

Brian I paid good money for a book and DVD that I expected was going to lay out a 20 day step by step plan and that if I followed that plan my sales would improve. What I got was a collection of tidbits, movie cameos and a sales methodology that at best seemed crammed into the letters of PRECISE more to fit the acronym than to help me advance my sales career.

As a questioning system the acronym CLEAR in chapter 13 does make this book worth reading. Had the whole book been based around this topic in a more "precise" fashion it would have been worth a lot more.

As for the DVD, a little more content and a lot less motivation would make the DVD more appealing. As it stands right now, all I took away from the DVD was the movie cameo you snuck your way into and how much you remind me of that annoying character on the old sitcom "Spin City." Had there been more content I don't think my mind would have been wandering and drawing mental comparisons to old TV shows.
The quotes throughout the book were an added bonus. But unfortunately I do not feel that this book will take me to the top in 20 days.

James Gingerich

PS If you would like to buy this book please go to:


And follow the link to Amazon on their site. The affiliate revenue generate by taking the time to make these extra few clicks allows them to provide a great podcasts to thousands of sales professionals for free!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Making the Most of Those Small Bits of Time

Ever had to wait a few minutes to see someone on a sales call? Ever had a flight delayed?

Why not plan to do something constructive with those extra minutes?

Read something. But not just anything. If you're in the software industry make it a part of your routine to keep up on software industry events by reading industry publications during those few minutes you would otherwise be wasting. The publications themselves are compact enough to easily fit into your briefcase or notebook bag.

And the best part; there are some high quality magazine subscriptions available for free!


After just a couple of months by making just this small change you'll be amazed at what a difference a little bit of industry knowledge can make in your career. Finding new prospects, expanding your network or keeping closer tabs on the competition might even add a zero or two to a couple of your commission checks ths year.

So start turning those pages as soon as possible. Your competition probably already is!

James Gingerich


Monday, January 21, 2008

Integrity in the Marketplace

Why don't people just tell the truth anymore?

Prospects who've downloaded your software, say they are interested but never, ever buy from you. Do they think they are doing one a favour by not just admitting they are never going to buy? Please. The extra time a salesperson wastes with a tire kicker could be better spent on real potential clients. As a sales rep make sure to limit your time spent on tire kickers as much as possible. Only provide them information on a "quid pro quo" basis. Make frequent use of the phrase "I'll do this for you if you do this for me."

Worse than tire-kickers are those professional purchasers who need "column fodder" for their next large purchase. They begin an entire make-believe sales cycle for the sole purpose of compelling you to spend hours of time preparing an RFP response that you never had a chance at winning in the first place. Some firms require their purchasers to get three bids before being allowed to confirm the order with the company they were going to do business with anyway. Since an RFP is something of value and takes a lot of time to prepare shouldn't software vendors charge a fee for these?

Here's a hint; if you didn't help your prospect put the RFP together chances are you are not going to win. If the prospect hasn't fully evaluated your software technically; chances are you are not going to win. And hey if your prospect needs a quote by the end of the month and today is the fifteenth and this is the first you've heard from them; chances are you are not going to win!

James Gingerich


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Working from home.

I was hit by a pickup truck while legally crossing a street on August 30th 2007. No broken bones but enough "soft tissue damage" around the left knee to cause it to swell approximately five times its' normal size resulting in two blood clots.

Since then I've been working from home.

It's not what I thought it would be.

I miss the human contact. The ability to go park yourself outside someone's door if you really need something from someone in another department for a customer. It's boring staring at the same four walls all day and it's tough managing your time. No, getting started, staying focused and getting things done isn't my problem. Punching out for the day is. I need to learn when to call it a day.

I have learned yet another reason why sales is such a great profession. You can do the job from almost anywhere! Until they introduce mandatory video phones my customers or my boss for that manner has no idea I haven't showered that day or that I'm in my pajamas, eating a bowl of Fruit Loops while receiving the latest "booster shot" of technical mumbo jumbo from product management. During the really dry ones; rather than struggling to stay awake in a meeting room with my colleagues I can freely multi-task and be sending out emails to my customer list! All from the privacy of my own home! Did I mention no... absolutely no commute time!

Who am I kidding?

Today marks the first of a two day sales kickoff our company is having in Florida this week. Did I mention that I'm stuck here in snowbound Waterloo Ontario? Guess where I'd rather be? While I'm tossing back blood thinners and painkillers they're probably tossing back fancy drinks with those tiny umbrellas poolside!

In an attempt to try and compensate for all the fun and human interactivity I'll be missing out on at the kickoff I've turned things up a notch this week on Linked in. I've sent out invites to loads of contacts, high school friends and University alumni I've lost contact with over the years. In just one week my number of connections has gone up over 30%. If my sales follow suit it will be a good year.

But remember this is coming from a guy who got hit by a pickup driver executing a blind right turn at red-lighted intersection. With my luck my increased activity on Linkedin will be interpreted by our HR department as a fullscale job search in which case I could stand to lose my employment in addition to my already forfeited mobility!

Enough introspection. I've got some cold calls to make!

James Gingerich

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Staying "Linked in"

Are you on "Linked in" yet? If you are in software sales you should be. It's a great way of staying in touch with former co-workers, clients and friends in the industry. It's also a great tool for virtual networking and contacting new prospects through your current contacts. You get to ask for direct referals.

Looking for that new job or in competition for a promotion? "Linked in" is the modern day standard for online resumes. It's a great way of keeping your name out there even though you're not necessarily looking for something new right now. There's even a section that shows you how many times your page has been viewed and by whom and how many times your name has come up in a search.

There's a Q & A section where you can post questions on any topic and have them answered by the Linked in Community. Providing answers gets you expertise points.

Like most tools the value get out of "Linked in" is merely a derivative of the amount of time and energy you put into it. So check it out: www.linkedin.com

James Gingerich