Monday, December 24, 2007

No, Seriously, We Have Moved On

We've changed our phone number, we've returned blogger's stuff, we've lost weight, new haircut, yes we have moved on in our blogging lives.

You can find us now at (its been redirected to the new blog) or go directly to

Thursday, December 20, 2007

We are Moving

We are moving over to

I will be updating the shortly

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Would Kill for a Hit Rate Like This One

According to the sales gods, the average close rate for a typical sales rep, across all verticals, hovers around 16%.

While this may sound like an 84% lose rate, it doesn’t compare that poorly to the performance metrics in other industries.

For example, we all know that if you hit .300 for your career, and your name is not included in the Mitchell Report, you have a reasonable shot at the baseball hall of fame, unless of course, you look like a total schmuck while testifying before Congress.

Seth Godin recently posted the following:

In a new study released in today’s Times, it turns out that the typical NY police officer only hits 34% of the time she fires a gun. Even from a distance of six feet or less, it’s 43%. Obviously, Bruce Willis is the exception.
Seth Godin's Blog Entry - Marksmanship

Now, the next time a police officer attempts to pull you over for a speeding ticket, do not get any bright ideas, this hit rate will still get them into the hall of fame.

FYI - You can’t expense bail.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Its About Balance

Candy let out a high-pitched shrill of excitement as she opened the next fantastic, and incredibly expensive, Christmas gift from her husband, Ben. Ben was off to a great start. His first gift was this huge necklace with enough diamonds on it that Leonardo DiCaprio personally sent them hate mail. The second gift was some sort of fur thing. Ben wasn't sure if it was mink, or sable, hell it could have been possum for all he knew.

There were five more gifts on the floor to be opened.

To those family members gathered in the living room that Christmas morning, Ben was looking like a rock star. To Candy and Ben this was one of the greatest fights, and, for Candy, one of the greatest victories, in their marriage.

Ben is the consummate sales professional. Not only was he the manager of the top performing sales team at his company, but also a mentor to dozens of others, including myself.

Ben's drive and commitment to the deal where his greatest professional strengths, and personal weakness. As people stare at the calendar in December, some see Christmas, others see Hanuka or Kwanzaa. Ben only saw one date, the end of the year.

So focused on his team's year end performance, Ben had forgotten to purchase Christmas gifts, for anyone, for three straight years. He made plenty of money, and the family did not lack for anything. However his wife, the only person for whom he had to buy a gift, was tired of spending her Christmas mornings listening to Ben apologize.

Candy decided that she would "help" Ben by buying the perfect gifts that she was sure he intended to buy her if he only weren't so busy. While we don't have exact numbers, judging by the look on his face as he shared this story, any bonus money and/or commission Ben earned during the past few quarters was now "invested" in the boxes laying on the floor.

For Candy, it was one of the best collection of gifts she ever received, but the best gift for her was that Ben never forgot another holiday, anniversary, or birthday from that point forward.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Sorry About the Recycled Posts

We are going through the older posts and adding technorati tags.

This is causing some of them to be republished as new.

If this were NPR we were refer to them as "The Best of" series.

Thank you

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

How to Reduce The Schmuck Factor

Anyone who has been in the workforce long enough has had the opportunity to work for, or with, someone who really didn't fit in, didn't perform up to expectations, and basically made you wonder if your employer received some sort of tax credit for keeping this individual employed. It is these individuals that we loving refer to as "Schmucks".

We all have Schmucks. If we are honest, we can agree that we all are subject to our temporary moments of Schmuckdom.

Based on the fact that, on average, 20% of the sales people generate 80% of the sales, the "Schmuck Factor" in most sales teams is higher than in the rest of the organization. Ever heard of "20% of Developers writing 80% of the code" or "20% of Client Supporting handling 80% of the issues"? Nope. Its just sales.

So where does it start? How do schmucks invade our teams, consume our time and resources, and still manage to under perform? Naturally it begins with the hiring process.

Hiring is the process of evaluating and projecting the productivity of human capital. One of the most common flaws is not having HR directly involved throughout the evaluation and hiring process. Most see it as an extension of the responsibility of those with little to no training in this area.

The sales manager hires the sales people, the VP of Development hires the programmer, etc. While these individuals have a level of mastery in their disciplines, that bears far less indication on their ability to evaluate talent than conventional wisdom would dictate.

Sales, Programming, and Hiring are all best executed when a team of professionals can come together and Plan, Prepare, and Execute on a strategy.

Conditions for Throwing the Schmuck Flag

While my track record is far from perfect on making hires, here a few items and practices that you can use to weed out the viable candidates from the next poster child for the Schmuckular Association of America.

Resume and Interview Red Flags

  • Long Periods of Unemployment

“I have been taking care of my sick mother/father/aunt/dog” is one of the most common responses you will see when there's a gap in employment.

  • Series of Short Term Jobs

Now you have to cut the candidate some slack with this one. In technology, mergers, acquisitions, and implosions are quite common. However if you are looking at a series of short-term jobs 6 to 12 months in length, and the companies are still around, that should be a red flag.

  • Many Unrelated Jobs in Work History

In close knit industries a really bad apple will have a tough time finding a job. So if you see someone go from widgets, to gadgets, to midgets in consecutive moves be aware.

  • Typos, Poor Spelling, Grammar on Resume

I'll admit it, Ive had a typo on my resume for a few weeks before someone clued me in. I'm a lousy speller and it just didn't catch my eye. For the record I had numerous professionals review my resume and it was my professional doc writer who caught the mistake.

  • Lack of Progression in Job History

“I have been an assistant bookkeeper for 20 years” = I haven't been promoted in 20 years.

  • Vague Descriptions, Rounded Dates

Can you imagine what the Enron team's resume's look like? “Worked for one of the fastest growing and dominate companies in the 1990s, then took time off to care for my sick father, mother, and aunt.”

Interview Red Flags

  • Late or Tardy without Legitimate Explanation
  • Dressed Poorly
  • Overly Cocky
  • Stresses Personal Beliefs Too Strongly
  • Overly Defensive
  • Perceived Vendetta Against Former Employers

A Lesson Learned

This guy comes to our team through a recruiter. The recruiter says that the candidate matches our "must have" criteria, but really doesn't share any additional or ancillary information or provide his "gut-feel" for the candidate. (Red Flag #1)

Given the candidate's background with one of our major competitors, we jumped at the chance to meet/hire him. We were a smaller, start-up and were practically salivating over the insight and competitive intelligence the candidate bought to the table. (Red Flag #2)

We flew the candidate in to our corporate HQ for an 11am meeting. He arrived, sans coat and tie and looking a bit disheveled. He explained that he spilled coffee on himself and he had to rush to the mall for a new shirt and pants. Looking back, and this will be important later on in the story, he smelled an awful lot like mouthwash.

The candidate spent the day in the office, meeting anyone and everyone under the sun. Everyone was impressed by his aggressiveness and take no prisoners attitude... we hired him immediately. We really didn't evaluate any criteria other than how aggressive he could be, nor did we do any background checking via personal networks, nor did we subject him to any standardized personality tests, because other than the overpowering aroma of mouthwash, the new change of clothes, and the demeanor that bore a striking resemblance to Al Pacino in the climatic shootout in "Scar Face", nothing seemed out of the ordinary. (Red Flags out the wazoo)

The biggest flaw in this process was us. The hiring team was so inexperienced and immature that there were numerous mistakes made based on sheer lack of expertise and alpha-male egos that dispelled any thought of asking for assistance.

Less than 12 months later the candidate would, as part of his retaliation for being fired, send a company-wide email that would eventually wind up on a blog.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Signs You're Having a Bad Sales Meeting

With "Annual Sales Meeting" Season right around the corner, we decided to put together a list of those elements that make these meetings so memorable.

Thank you for those who contributed including our friends at

Pre-Game Show

  • Your boss wants to share a flight and makes you change yours to a much later one. Then on the last day, he comes in late and announces he is too depressed to carry on the meeting because his prized Corvette broke down and he has to write the IRS a check for $25K because he made too much last year. Then you try to catch an earlier flight, all to find out they are all booked. Then your flight is cancelled and you are stuck there for another day and have to take a 6:15 flight that next morning.

  • The sales book that was purchased, and then paid to ship to each rep, so that they could prepare for an engaging and productive discussion during the sales meeting, hasn't been opened yet

  • The meeting begins with bumper music at 90db, from Mariah Carey's late 80s hits, while the lame managers attempt to dance a Jim Carey version of hip hop

  • Ignoring the lessons learned about knowledge comprehension and retention, the opening meeting is highlighted with the phrase "We have every minute planned out....." or "we have a team building event every night!"

  • In addition to the joy of traveling around the world for 30+ hours only to arrive at a crap hotel. You are informed that you will be sharing a room with a local who is too cheap to pay for a cab ride home.

  • You have been asked to watch the movie "Boiler Room" in advance of the meeting - and to be prepared with suggestions on how to implement some of the "tips" you picked up in order to improve next quarter's results.

  • Entire management team dresses in drag during an opening session and attempts to sing a lame song or act out a skit.

Purgatory Factor

  • You drink as much water as possible not to cure hangover, but to force restroom breaks

  • The sales rep from a warm client is closest to the thermostat and has the rest of the hungover, bad coffee filled guys sweating bullets by 9:04 am.

  • The wireless is mysteriously 'down' in an attempt to make people focus.

  • Most intense discussion is around describing the rules of NFL to the British colleagues

  • You bribe select customers to call your cell during the role playing exercises with some 'urgent end of year cash they have to spend'

  • The VP is asking individual reps to talk about how they successfully closed business. There are more I's in the story than in roman numerals

  • You have strategically mapped out exactly how you are going to execute your new job search as soon as "The Role Playing Exercises" are complete and VP of Sales allows you to go home (roughly around 8pm)....and dont forget kids "We have a hard start time tomorrow at 8am so be on time!"

  • The meeting co-chair begins to doze off....

The Elephant in the Room

  • The Department of Corrections could have provided higher quality food and refreshments
  • A speaker opens and says “I hope I’m not going to bore you, but….” and consequently does just that with death by PowerPoint… slides full of words… which he dutifully reads to you… and if that it not bad enough he also has a monotone voice… however, it gets worse… by slide 6 you look at anything that might look vaguely interesting and notice in the bottom right of the slide the heart sinking words… “slide 6 of 122”
  • The CEO doesn’t stick around to see the presentations given by the directors of the departments
  • The host has to continuously explain how funny his jokes are.

  • The company is too cheap to hire someone to present Spin Selling and simply ask one of the directors to read the book and teach it.

  • The most compelling directive comes from a VP that proclaimed that in order too have an effective User Group meeting you must put out brochures so clients could take them.

After Hours

  • CEO of the company gets so drunk he starts to hit on the ugliest sales reps

  • Sales rep stays out too late, gets too drunk, winds up in wrong part of town, at the wrong time. Never heard from again. VPs are pissed because his absence really screws up the schedule for next team-building exercise.

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