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:

James Gingerich