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January 2010

What Keeps Sales Leaders Up at Night? And how Sales 2.0 can help

I just finished reading an advance copy of the 2010 Sales Effectiveness Study released by CSO Insights, which reveals what sales leaders across the country worry about most. Sales leaders know that their sales organizations could perform better – if they only had a faster way to diagnose and stop the many efficiency leaks. Below are some of the key findings, comments, and suggestions.

Research fact: The top three objectives for sales leaders in 2010:


Comment: Every sales leader is focused on increasing revenues. There is no silver bullet for achieving that goal.

The most surprising result of the survey was the fact that sales organizations that implement Sales 2.0 technology actually overachieve compared to others that are slow to catch on to this powerful sales effectiveness trend.

Phone Works founder and CEO Anneke Seley and author of the book Sales 2.0 presented an eye-opening slide last week in a Citrix-sponsored Webinar (see below).


Comment: What would happen if your reps could improve their quota by 13 percent? That’s one of the key benefits of moving up to Sales 2.0.

Research fact: Thirty percent of all forecasted deals that didn't materialize were lost to the competition. Why? These competitors either had a better relationship with the customer or received a better price or terms.

Research fact: Almost 24 percent of all forecasted deals end up in no sale. What this really means is that the prospect decided not to buy from anyone.

Research fact: Nearly 62 percent of all sales leaders surveyed say that their ability to generate new leads needs improvement.

Comment: Too many salespeople are pursuing leads that have not been properly qualified. As a result, they’re chasing garbage trucks instead of Brinks trucks. The majority of sales managers are not happy with their lead-management efforts.

Action idea # 1: Invest in a Sales 2.0 tool, such as Marketo, that delivers marketing automation, lead nurturing, and lead scoring to generate more high-quality leads while improving sales effectiveness.

Research fact:Forty-seven percent of the companies surveyed (1,600 companies participated) reported that their salespeople generate their own leads.

Comment: You may say, "That’s what they are paid for." Correct, but ask yourself: Are you happy with the results? What if there was a better way to improve your bottom line?

Action idea # 2: Move up to a Sales 2.0 solution, such as one from Inside View. Give your salespeople access to real-time sales intelligence that significantly increases sales productivity. Armed with company information and social information on one screen, salespeople will engage buyers at a level that’s almost competition proof.

Research fact: Only 51.8 percent of all sales reps make their quota.

Comment: Does this make you wonder what is not working in your sales process? Which step is the most time consuming? How can you convert more of the salesperson’s screen time to face-to-face selling time (or headset to headset)?

Action idea # 3: Invest in a Sales 2.0 tool, such as Big Machines, that accelerates the product configuration, quote, and proposal processes, helping salespeople sell more and a lot faster with 100 percent accuracy. Your salespeople can configure, quote, and propose a solution in 10 minutes, instead of sitting in front of a computer screen for four hours.

Action idea # 4: Drive a repeatable sales process across your entire sales organization with such Sales 2.0 tools as the sales playbook by Kadient. Kadient arms salespeople with sales playbooks (integrated with your CRM program) that include the situation-specific content, tools, and coaching steps needed to close more sales.

Research fact: Forty-four percent of all companies surveyed confirmed that their sales compensation needs improvement.

Comment: When it comes to compensation, salespeople can be very sensitive, and their pride in their achievement can be easily hurt. Here are the most common compensation problems: payout mistakes, payment delays, disconnect between incentive comp and profit margins, error prone and time-consuming spreadsheet work.

Action idea # 5: Step up to an Xactly solution that transforms compensation management into a strategic tool to motivate sales reps. It makes sales compensation faster and easier while cutting errors and aligning sales compensation with the company’s bottom line.

Research fact: Forty percent of sales leaders say they don’t have timely access to accurate metrics.

Comment: Most successful sales organizations have established a culture of measurement where critical processes are associated with performance metrics. While forecasting accuracy can help companies shave inventory cost, the 2010 CSO Insights survey states that only 12 percent of companies intended to implement technologies to optimize pipeline/forecast management.

Action idea # 6: Right90 can help sales leaders quickly and accurately generate a reliable and trusted sales forecast. As a result, companies save on inventory cost, avoid canceled orders, and optimize their manufacturing cost.

Comment: Selling and sales management is changing from 1.0 to 2.0. To see the latest Sales 2.0 solutions in action, check out the Sales 2.0 Conference on June 28th in Boston.


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What Should Be Your Survival Mind-Set in a Robbery?

This Could Save Your Life.

Many people shared their comments about how they would have handled the robbery incident I wrote about in January. I cut and pasted below what I believe were the most insightful and helpful comments. I also found a Website (scroll down) that can help you avoid high-crime areas in major cities across the country. This is a highly useful site that can help you stay safe.

“A” said, “I have a concealed weapons permit, and I carry a .45 with me at all times. When I travel into my territory, I ship the weapon to the hotel where I am staying. All you have to do is show the robbers the barrel of the gun through the car window and watch them run.”

“B” responded, “What happens if ‘showing it’ is not enough? What happens if the adversary is more committed than you are? Taking a life is a subject that requires more careful consideration – mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. If you are not committed to using your weapon to take a life to save your own, then you may as well not carry it. Because what you are now doing is introducing a weapon into a conflict in which no weapon may have been present to begin with. And, if your adversary is more committed to taking a life than you are, then he will simply take that weapon from you and use it against you.”

“C” stated, “Between us, I would have treated the robber like a speed bump.”

“D” responded, “If you ever take another human being’s life, even in defense of your own, your life will change forever. Not only will it change you internally, but you will more than likely be detained by law enforcement, investigated, and even if you were completely justified in your actions, you will be sued.”

“E” commented, “The robber could have slit your throat after he got your money. Every situation is different. You got lucky this time. There are those who won’t bargain with you; to them your life means nothing.”

“F” replied, “The development of a survival mind-set is critical to your personal safety. A lot of us believe, ‘This won’t ever happen to me. This happens to other people.’ That’s a self-defeating mind-set. Crime and violence are indiscriminate. When people are in a threatening situation, they tend to react with ‘I can’t believe that this is happening to me.’ This immediately impacts their capacity to survive. A better response would be, ‘I knew this would happen one day, and I am ready.’ Your mind is, without a doubt, the most important weapon you bring with you to any encounter.”

Before you travel, check the crime map of the city you are visiting

Log on to The map below shows a map of all crimes that occurred in San Francisco in one day: January 25, 2010.


The map below shows a map of all robberies that took place within the past six months.


More dos and don'ts from SpotCrime

“Follow the robber’s demands quickly. The longer the robbery takes, the greater the chances of violence. Your goal is to get rid of the thugs as quickly as possible.”

“Make sure you let the robbers know of every step you make to confirm that you understood their demands. Be clear, be specific and give them exactly what they ask without extra commentary like, ‘I got this watch from my grandfather.’”

“Make a mental note of any physical characteristics of the robbers. After they leave, write down as much as you can remember.”

“Don’t ever follow the robbers on foot or by car. For example, running into the street to get a better look at their license plate may put you in harm’s way. “

“Next time you travel, choose a hotel that’s in a safe spot. Check this Website ”

I’d like to thank everybody for sharing some great insights.

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Post-Robbery Insight: How to Protect Your Laptop on The Road

Back in January, I lost my laptop in a robbery in San Francisco. I got a ton of emails with helpful advice which I’d like to share.

  1. Statistics that will make you think twice
    An article in Fast Company claims that a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds. More than 12,000 laptops disappear weekly from US airports alone and only 3% of stolen laptops are ever returned. FBI Statistics claim that one in 10 laptops are stolen within the first year of purchase.
  2. Ideas for foiling thieves
    I received a number of useful ideas for protecting my laptop on the road. One sales manager told me that the first night at a hotel he orders a medium pizza, cleans out the box and then puts his laptop into the pizza box when he leaves the room. An account rep told me that he slides his laptop into a large brown manila envelope that he places in the middle of a stack of papers.
    A more effective deterrent is a special laptop case called ScanSafe. This bag secures a laptop in a case made from a special stainless steel mesh fabric. The case is locked to a heavy object. It’s great for securing laptops at a trade show, in a hotel room, or in a car. For more travel safety gadgets go to
Three software firms claim to help you recover your laptop – which is best?

There are a number of software companies that sell programs that will send you an email when your stolen computer is connected to the Internet. The program will also take pictures of the laptop user and it will be sent to you over the Internet so you can alert the Police. The email will contain the IP address that identifies the location where the laptop is being used.



THE ADVERTISING PITCH: “PC-Trak™ from GadgetTrak® is activated by logging into your online account and clicking a button to activate tracking. The next time your PC connects to the Internet the software will activate and start sending you emails with the specific location and network environment of the system, as well as use the camera to take a photo of who is using the system every 30 minutes. No additional password prompts appear and the thief is unaware the software is tracking them.”

THE BUYING EXPERIENCE: I signed up for the three-year license, paid $59, downloaded their software on my computer which installed within minutes. I immediately received an email with a transaction ID. When the installation was complete, the final screen asks you for a LICENSE KEY. (It is not the same as the transaction ID). When I read through the agreement, I realized that the company promises you to email a license key, but does not specify WHEN. It could be a day, a week, or a month? I immediately began to distrust this company and their inability to be clear about what customers can expect from them. I dislike starting an installation without being able to complete the job in one sitting. After an hour, I received an email with a PRODUCT KEY. Is that the same as the LICENSE KEY? How literate are these people? I tried the Product Key and it turned out to be the license key. Next, the installation wizard asks you questions about email settings and SMPT (???) That requires an IT expert to install. Why doesn’t the company tell you that in advance? At this point I just had do give up.

MY OPINION: Companies that waste your time when you buy will waste even more of your time when you need the service. There is no information about the people who run the company.



THE ADVERTISING PITCH: “The CyberAngel with Wi-Trac® utilizes the industry’s most advanced & unique technology to Alert, Lock, and Locate in real-time when an unauthorized user tries to access a protected computer. The CyberAngel® will Alert the victim & the CyberAngel Secure Monitoring Center that an unauthorized access was attempted; Lock & hide the encrypted contents of the machine protecting VPN’s, personal information, applications and intellectual property; & Locate the computer using the most advanced tracking & recovery technology available today”

THE BUYING EXPERIENCE: I tried to buy the product and it took me a long time to find the shopping cart. The cost for a one year license is $69 which is much higher compared to Gadgettrak. The company does not allow you to download the software – it is sent to you. You can get it overnight for an additional $19.95. That’s not a “green” product.

MY OPINION: If this was an advanced solution, the software would be downloadable.



THE ADVERTISING PITCH: “The Agent in your computer maintains daily contact with the Absolute Monitoring Center. If you report your computer stolen, Agent contact will increase to every 15 minutes. Increased contact allows us to obtain specific details like the physical location of your computer, any activity that has occurred post-theft, and other important data that will aid us in working with local law enforcement to catch the thief and return your property to you. Regardless of recovery status, you can remotely delete data to remove some or all of the information stored on your computer so that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. This could include files and applications containing personal photos, internet bookmarks, browser cookies, financial information, and stored passwords. Everything an identity thief would need to steal your identity.”

THE BUYING EXPERIENCE: The Company offers a basic version of their solution for only $39.99, the premium edition is $59.99 which allows remote data delete (after a theft). I ordered the premium edition and the installation took less than four minutes. The registration code is sent immediately after the online purchase so you can complete the installation in one fell swoop. The best part is that at the end there is a test call to their data center which demonstrates that your laptop is now protected. Another neat trick is that the log-in page has pre-populated the password code with dots that would indicate the number of letters used in the password. The trick is that these dots purposely don’t match the length of your chosen password to foil a thief. The profile page also automatically displays the serial number of your laptop.

MY OPINION: A great solution, easy to install. The company seems solid and appears to be successful. I highly recommend this solution.

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How I got robbed in San Francisco last week


Last Wednesday I drove from San Jose to San Francisco after dark. I was getting hungry and planned to get back to my hotel, order room service, finish a proposal and relax.  I was about to make a left turn from 4th street onto Mission when it all happened.  Although I replayed this incident in my mind dozens of times, I find it hard to describe all the details of the robbery since it all happened so fast.

When the light turned green, I got ready to make a left turn and stopped the car to allow pedestrians to pass. At that moment I noticed two black guys wearing grey hooded jackets crossing the street in front of my car. One was about 24 with a thin mustache, the other about 28. Within a second of stopping the car the younger guy fell on the hood of the car. At first I thought that his older friend had pushed him and that they were just horsing around. Looking into the rear view mirror, I noticed a car had stopped behind me. The few pedestrians that were crossing the street didn’t pay attention and quickly disappeared. I rolled down the window to get a better look and noticed to my surprise the younger guy was now sitting on the street with his back leaning against my door, blocking me from getting out of the car. I wondered how did he move so fast from the front to the side?

The older guy asked, “Can you move your legs?” There was something in his tone of voice that sounded as insincere as a telemarketer reading from a script. I said, “I am so sorry, are you ok?” The younger guy looked up to me and demanded in an agitated voice, “Give me $300! I want $300! You hear me, I want $300 now!” While he made his demands, the older guy positioned himself in front of the car, legs spread apart and his hands buried in his jacket pocket. 

I said “no problem, I’ll take care of you, I’ll get you what you want.” He shot back, “how much money have you got?” I said, “Hey, you can have it all, whatever is in my wallet, no problem.”

Next he jumped up, opened the back door and within seconds sat behind me demanding, “Give me your money, all of it.” I opened my wallet; he grabbed the bills, counting them, “100, 20, 40, 60, 80…ok that’s good enough.”  As I watched him counting, I realized that he was just a kid and more scared than I was and asked, “What’s your name?” He said “Alvy.” I said, “Sorry we had to meet that way, god bless.” He was gone in a flash and ran across the street with his buddy.

I drove a half a block to the hotel to return the rental car, feeling a sense of relief that I lost only $200 in that scary encounter. I even had a sense of admiration for the artful performance in this con job. That feeling didn’t last long. When I opened the back door to retrieve my laptop that I placed under the passenger seat in the back I realized that it was gone! Now I felt really stupid.

Acts of kindness

I tweeted about that incident the same evening and received a number of kind messages from concerned friends. The next morning I had a breakfast meeting with Jim Benton, VP Sales of, whom I have never met previously. As we start the conversation he said, “Oh, I saw your tweet about the robbery, I brought you a spare laptop that you can use. You can send it back when you don’t need it any longer.” With this kind gesture, Jim restored my faith in mankind. Later that evening I shared the story with the night manager of the Hotel. He said, “Oh, I heard about your misfortune. We’d like to upgrade you to a suite for the remainder of your stay.” I moved to an amazing corner suite with a huge living room (with a separate entrance) and big bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub. I went to bed smiling and counted my blessings. 

Lesson learned

The only thing I’d do differently the next time is to a) keep my car locked and b) keep all valuables locked in the trunk. If you should ever get into a similar situation, consider this: Treat the robber as if you would treat a customer who is upset. Be polite and sympathetic regardless of the robber’s outrageous or unreasonable demands. Fighting the robber may get you shot, but the right attitude will give you a chance to get rid of the robber as quickly as possible.

What would you have done in that situation?

How Better Sales Forecasting Can Improve Your Profits


Salespeople are the headlights of every business. They have an insider’s perspective of their customers and prospects. They are the first to know about what customers plan to buy in the future.

Unfortunately, many companies are struggling to translate their salespeople’s predictions into a reliable financial plan. Just last week I spoke with the CEO of a company that employs more than 50 salespeople, and he said, “Salespeople are eternal optimists, and when I see their forecasts, I automatically cut them in half.” When I asked him, “How many times has your reduced number been accurate?” he said, “Never.”

My next question was, “How far off are your projections every month?” He said, “Our best guess usually brings us within 10 percent.”


Now let’s do the math so we can determine the financial impact of this forecasting error. If a company has $50 million in revenues, a 10 percent over-forecast represents $5 million. The big question is, what’s the true cost of this error?

First: The company has to carry an additional $5 million worth of product in its inventory. That’s $5 million in cash flow that the company could invest in other opportunities. The company could put the $5 million into tax-free bonds and earn $500,000 on that money per year.

Second: The company has to finance that inventory. At a 6 percent interest rate, the cost is $300,000.

Third: Producing the excess inventory is likely to inflate the company’s payroll by 10 percent, which translates to about $500,000 in additional payroll expenses. In this case, the financial waste of a 10 percent over-forecast translates into $1.3 million, which means that for every percentage point by which the company’s sales forecasting is improved, the company could save $130,000 a year.


Let’s say the forecasting error goes in the other direction. What are the costs of under-forecasting?

First, if there isn’t enough inventory, the order may be lost. Let’s say 50 percent of the company’s customers cancel their orders. That would be a $2.5 million loss in revenues.

Second, if the order is delayed, there is increased pressure to accelerate production, which often means overtime plus express shipping costs.

Third, if customers receive their orders late, customer satisfaction will drop.

Get forecasting right

World-class companies can’t afford to make big forecasting errors. They create a culture of measurement in which sales and marketing managers work in synch to achieve their goals. I recently spoke to the VP of sales of a software company, and he showed me how his 300-person sales team follows a documented sales process that gives the CEO a monthly forecast that’s 98 percent accurate. The VP of sales shared more reasons for pushing up forecasting accuracy.

He said that higher forecasting accuracy allows him to catch market changes earlier. You can respond faster with special promotions when the market slows down, or you can step up sales quickly if the market goes up. His comment: “Speed drives ROI.”

While many organizations are stuck tracking forecasting with spreadsheets, world-class companies use purposefully built, sales-forecasting software, such as, that’s integrated with their CRM solution. These solutions both capture the data and provide exceptional analytics to drive better insight and accurate action.

As the economy moves into the recovery phase, now is the time to invest in better sales-forecasting tools that will eliminate expensive errors and give your company the flexibility to respond quickly to market changes. Run your company based on science, not on hunches, so you can cut costs and maximize productivity.

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The Lamborghini Sales Lesson

Jan11_L1 If you are a sports-car enthusiast, you probably know the story of Ferruccio Lamborghini. His company manufactured farm tractors. As he grew more successful, he invested in sports cars, and his pride and joy was a brand new Ferrari. After driving the car for a week, he wasn’t happy with the way the car shifted gears, and he took it back to the factory for tuning. The technicians looked at the car, made a few adjustments, and sent him home. After a few days he went back, complaining that the problem was not resolved to his satisfaction.

Lamborghini knew how to build a gearbox that ensured smooth performance. Ferrari workers disassembled the gearbox, put it back together, and told Lamborghini that the problem was fixed. After taking the car for a test drive, Lamborghini wasn’t happy, since nothing had changed. He went to see Enzo Ferrari, who told him, “Signore Lamborghini, we’ve looked at your car, we tested the gearbox, and we’ve done everything we could. We believe that the problem is not with the gearbox, the problem is with the driver.”

Jan11_L2 Lamborghini was furious and decided to build his own car. He created the legendary Lamborghini. Today, the company assembles 2,000 cars annually. Lamborghinis offer another dimension of style, and they are considered a worldwide symbol of extraordinary achievement.

The Lamborghini Murcielago starts at $354,000 and achieves a top speed of more than 200 MPH.

Lamborghini’s top model, the Reventón, sells for more than $1.4 million. Only 20 models are built in one year.

The Heart of the Story

The story of Lamborghini is the story of many entrepreneurs who are frustrated with the status quo. They want to find a better way to serve your customers. Every year there are 25 million entrepreneurs sitting around tables, sketching out business plans on cocktail napkins and trying to find ways to serve your customers better, with the goal to trump your business.

The story of Lamborghini is also a reminder of how to create a significant competitive advantage by applying four simple principles:

1. A Lamborghini looks more stylish. Style sells.


In his book The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter showed how companies gain a global competitive edge by capitalizing on innovation, raising productivity, and drawing on unique elements of their country’s character. Many Italian designers have achieved worldwide fame, such as Armani, Cerruti, Ferragamo, Gucci, Missoni and Zegna, to name a few. While ordinary car doors open to the side, risking a collision with an unsuspecting bicyclist, Lamborghini’s gull-wing doors make an uplifting statement about the driver’s aspirations.

2. A Lamborghini engine has a distinct sound that gets people’s adrenaline pumping. Sounds sells.

Jan11_L5 Apple has conquered the music business by creating an adrenaline-pumping, stylish device – the iPod. Sony owned that market for years with portable audio players (Walkman, Discman, etc.). The iPod simply offered a much better emotional experience that Sony could not match.

Studies show that the “emotional tone” of a leader has a direct impact on productivity.

3. A Lamborghini is ultrafast. It’s been proven that a Lamborghini can outrun a fighter jet on takeoff. Speed sells.


Remember the book It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small…It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow: How to Use Speed As a Competitive Tool in Business by Laurence Haughton and Jason Jennings?

Fast means survival, slow means extinction. The fast-food industry is making more money than traditional restaurants. An online store such as Amazon makes purchasing books, electronics, or food a lot faster and more convenient with a few mouse clicks. Everybody is short on time; we hate delays and waiting in line. Those who keep their customers waiting will lose business at a faster rate.

4. A Lamborghini is more powerful. Power sells.

When we buy computers, we want more power at our fingertips. When IT departments invest in software, they demand more powerful applications. When we market our products, we want more powerful messages and create more powerful connections online.

We need to protect our business against becoming obsolete and avoid being trumped by smart entrepreneurs who come up with new ways to better serve our customers. Smart marketers ask themselves four critical questions to enhance their competitive advantage:

  1. Is our product more stylish than the competition?
  2. Does our product/service/message get our customer’s adrenaline pumping?
  3. Is our product/service faster and more convenient compared to the competition?
  4. Does our product deliver more power to the customer?
There are only a few thousand people around the world who drive a Lamborghini today. My bet is that 99 percent of them have this in common: They all served their customers better.

For those of you who want to experience the thrill of spending a day in a Lamborghini, the Lamborghini Club of America offers the Ultimate Lamborghini Experience in Fontana, CA, at the California Speedway. I have never been there, and I am tempted to sign up for the June 4, 2010, event.


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What Type of Sales Animal Are You?

Charles Darwin believed that humans, just as much as animals, rely on inherited instincts. A growing number of sales experts believe that salespeople, just as much as sales managers, should select an animal as a sales metaphor. It may surprise you that there are currently more than a dozen books written by sales experts that feature an animal on the cover. While animals can be great teachers, not every sales author succeeds at teaching.

Before you scroll down to take a look at the first six animal-inspired sales books, let’s start with a quiz:

Which animal could give your sales career a much-needed boost?

  1. A whale
  2. A fox
  3. An elephant
  4. A tiger
  5. A gorilla
  6. A big fish

Write down your answer and send me your comment.

Now let’s enter the sales-book zoo and take a look at the animals the authors have chosen to help us learn, remember, and enjoy their shared wisdom.

Whale Hunting: How to Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company by Tom Searcy and Barbara Weaver Smith

Promo copy: Using the ancient Inuit whale hunt as a metaphor for big sales, Whale Hunting gives you a clear nine-phase model for successfully finding, landing, and harvesting whale-size sales accounts — the kind of sales that transform your business.

My take: The book was published in 2008 and still has a great Amazon rating. I recently spoke to the author, and he shared a few stories about how he is teaching sales teams to prepare for the biggest sale of their lives. I recommend this book.

The Selling Fox: A Field Guide for Dynamic Sales Performance by Jim Holden

Promo copy: “Selling foxes” dominate their competition with the knowledge that their success isn’t based on what they sell, but on how they sell. They rely solely on their skills, knowledge, and influence, never letting past success lead to a false sense of security and always striving toward bigger and better results.

My take: When the book came out in 2002, it was ahead of its time. (I endorsed it in 2002.) The lifespan of a real fox is six to eight years. The book has morphed into a software program called efox, which helps salespeople close more deals.

Bag the Elephant! How to Win and Keep BIG Customers by Steve Kaplan

Promo copy: This book has the strategy, the nuts and bolts – everything smart businesspeople need to win and keep those all-important “elephants‚” the make-or-break customers who can dramatically increase your revenue, profits, and success. It’s packed with dynamic advice for all sales professionals, small-business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives.

My take: This book has legs. It’s been heavily promoted and landed on the New York Times best-seller list. Jeff Gitomer said, “Kaplan shows you how to think BIG, act BIG, and win BIG.” But I say Whale Hunting offers more value.

Unleash the Tiger: A New, Revolutionary Approach to Sales by Marvin Himel

Promo copy: The Tiger System, created by Marvin Himel, is a proven process that guarantees success beyond most people's expectations. In Unleash the Tiger, you will find 10 compelling steps to help you in your journey toward greatness. If you master these skills, you will succeed beyond your wildest imaginings.

My take: The book cover looks like a poster for a B-rated, low-budget movie. Unfortunately, the content is outdated. I had never heard of Marvin Himel, but I did watch this video clip, in which he teaches a group of salespeople. Is he a real tiger? No. A paper tiger perhaps? Yes.

Gorilla Sales: How to Sell Anything Anytime Regardless of the Apes in Charge! by Curt Redden

Promo copy: This humorous fable chronicles the sales education of Sam, a young, ambitious, and competitive monkey with a dream to become top banana at the prestigious World of Chimpions sales competition. Though new to selling bananas, Sam embarks on a whirlwind journey to learn sales best practices and pitfalls. Along the way, he learns the lessons required to help sales monkeys improve their abilities and succeed in any sales effort, anywhere, at anytime.

My take: I found something in common with the author: We both have twins. But we don’t share the same sense of humor. Redden’s Website,, offers “dung nuggets,” which may leave some people LOL, but leaves me scratching my head. I personally prefer the nuggets created by newspaper columnist Dave Barry, who once wrote about the fastest animal on the planet: “Scientists tell us that the fastest animal on earth, with a top speed of 120 feet per second, is a cow that has been dropped out of a helicopter.” I have a hunch that this book dropped off the sales charts just as fast.

Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders by Adam Morgan

Promo copy: Morgan's primary objective is to provide what he calls a "magnetic compass" for “small fish,” which will enable them to compete successfully. Obviously, they face problems. Certain markets have moved for the first time from maturity to overcapacity. As a result, there is not enough "food" to go around. While turning their attention downward, the “big fish” have also turned outward...toward small fish. As the big fish move downward, retailers move upward.

Time and again, he stresses the importance of ideas – actually, better ideas, hence the imperative to break with the past. Assume nothing, take no one and nothing for granted, and constantly ask, "What if?" and "Why not?" For small fish, the status quo is death. Period. Better ideas are engaging, provocative, and self-propagating. They help to create competitive advantages.

My take: The companies featured in this book are no small fish, but their challenger attitudes keep them in the winner’s circle. It is a very worthwhile book for marketers and C-level executives. Check out the company’s Website and interesting blog.

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The 10 Best Books to Read in 2010 - Part I

Charles W. Eliot once said, "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." The profession of selling is fortunate to have a multitude of counselors who are willing to share their insights with their peers. Below is Selling Power’s selection of the best books to read for sales managers and salespeople to boost sales productivity, to improve sales and to increase customer value. These ten books contain hundreds of valuable ideas that - if applied correctly - could easily increase your sales by 10% - 30% in 2010.

1.     Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives by Keith Rosen

How many salespeople on your team are not employing their full potential? 50%, or more? What stands in the way to greater performance isn’t something they don’t have, but something they don’t get: professional coaching. The sad truth is that most sales managers don’t have the skill set that it takes to make a positive difference in their salespeople's performance.
Most managers act as “super closers” and at the same time they complain about their salespeople’s inability to improve. Their approach to coaching is “telling and yelling.” The good news is that Executive Sales Coaching shares a proven process where sales managers and salespeople can co-create new skills in a fail-safe environment. The outcome: salespeople will create their own solutions.

This book will show you how you can
  • Help salespeople use their hidden capacities to solve their own problems
  • Create a culture of accountability where salespeople strive to live up to their commitments
  • Establish a climate of constructive collaboration that allows people to grow
What do I think? There are only a handful of great sales coaches. Keith Rosen is one of the top three in my mind. His book shares all the essentials you need to achieve a positive transformation of your sales team in 2010.

The downside: Once you’ve opened your eyes to the amazing possibilities of coaching salespeople, you’ll become hyper-critical of other sales managers who are stuck in the old ways of managing by “telling and yelling."

Meet the author: Keith is the founder of Profit Builders (, a leading sales training and sales coaching training company. I had the pleasure of videotaping Keith Rosen during a coaching session with an inside salesperson. If you are a sales manager, I recommend that you watch this six-minute video.

2.     The Funnel Principle: What Every Salesperson Must Know About Selling by Mark Sellers

Are your salespeople missing too many forecasts? Do many deals end up in ‘no sale’ to anyone? Are your salespeople chasing bad deals? It’s time to rethink your sales funnel. In fact, it may be time to replace your sales funnel with the far more productive “buy-cycle funnel.”
In his groundbreaking new book “The Funnel Principle,” international author and sales consultant Mark Sellers shares proven concepts such as:
  • How to start selling the way customers want to buy and stop selling the way you’ve always done it
  • How to start measuring your sales progress based on your buyer’s commitments, instead of measuring your progress based on your sales activities
  • How to dramatically improve your sales forecasting accuracy
  • How to deploy an 8-step Funnel Management Process designed to optimize your sales process and help your salespeople reach and exceed their sales goals
What do I think? I read the book, I have seen Mark Sellers in action and I spoke with the sales leaders of the companies he’s worked with and I believe that his message has a positive, transformative effect on sales organizations worldwide.

The downside: It is hard to change established belief systems. We all grew up thinking that the best way to sell was to follow a process prescribed by the sales manager. Mark teaches us that the best way to sell is to use the buyer’s commitment as your guide.

Meet the author: I have had the privilege of working with Mark Sellers on a three-part video series. In this four-minute video Mark explains why the traditional sales funnel is outdated.

3.     The Optimal Salesperson by Dan Caramanico and Marie Maguire

This is a great new book for both salespeople and sales managers. What’s great is that the expert authors will help you pinpoint your weaknesses and build up your strengths.
Here are some of the tested techniques salespeople will learn from this book:
  • How to develop a mindset that will make you a better closer
  • How to replace cold calls with personal introductions
  • How to create the skill set and attitude you need to sell to the C-level buyer
  • How to turbo-charge your motivation to win

Here is what CEO’s and Sales Managers will get from this book:
  • What your sales team needs to get your company to the next level
  • How to identify, recruit and hire superstar salespeople
  • How to create the most effective and productive sales process
  • How to diagnose the obstacles to your sales team’s success

What do I think? The authors are experienced professionals. They’ve helped many sales organizations with hiring and developing sales superstars. They have a proven track record. The book is rich in content and immediately useful.

The downside: Reading this book may lead you to the realization that what ails your sales organization is not the lack of talent and motivation of your salespeople, but the lack of quality in your hiring process.

More about the authors: Check their website

4.     The Market has Changed, Have You? By Paul D’Souza

When I first met Paul two years ago, I found his ideas crystallizing, his personal power mesmerizing and his commitment to help people awe inspiring. Paul asked, “How fast can you change?" When I asked “why” he explained, “speed is our friend, and delay is the enemy.” In his new book, Paul has skillfully woven the powers of philosophy, human psychology and professional selling around the spindle of change.
What managers often overlook is the fact that all business progress demands that we change how we think, how we approach customers, how we sell and how we define and create customer value. Paul, who has the mental flexibility of an acrobat explained that when it comes to buying the latest and greatest technology, we act like children. We are always eager to explore the latest and greatest. Without hesitation we discard obsolete products and celebrate another leap forward. The point is that we all love to buy external change, but we all resist internal change. We all know that many people resist rapid change to the extent that they become unproductive, unhappy and often unemployed. Paul reminds us that we are all in the driver’s seat, we can make a conscious decision to allow ourselves to win through change. The sole purpose of Paul’s book is to learn how to drive change; to be the master, not the slave of change. When we empower ourselves to change, we’ll liberate ourselves from the ever-present threat of obsolescence.

What do I think? Paul is an enlightening teacher, a personal guru with a highly intuitive mind. The book accurately reflects how he thinks. His thinking style isn’t vertical or horizontal; it’s diagonal, contrarian, yet highly practical.

The downside: This book is a waste of time for the few people who are incapable of looking within. It’s a rich goldmine for people who want to change and deploy their true potential.

More about the author: Check his website

5.     ProActive Sales Management: How to Lead, Motivate, and Stay Ahead of the Game by Skip Miller

This book has been an AMACOM runaway bestseller for the past three years. Since the second edition hit the market a few months ago, it has attracted more critical acclaim. Skip Miller has been a strategic sales advisor and trainer to the world’s most successful companies like Virgin Atlantic, HP, Bristol Myers, IDC and Oracle, and many more. In his book, Skip explains that few sales managers are highly effective. Why? Because they tend to fall back on the skills that made them great at sales…instead of adopting the new skills that will make them great managers.
Here are just a few of the golden nuggets you will find in this invaluable book:
  • How to create a successful sales culture
  • How to manage time and people to optimize results
  • How to find, recruit and develop a successful sales team
  • How to master the art of coaching, counseling and taking corrective action
  • How to reduce reporting to ten minutes per week
  • How to create a successful compensation plan
  • How to integrate technology to enhance your sales operation
What do I think? There are very few sales management books that can favorably compare to this bestselling book. It’s an accessible, practical and winning guide for new and advanced sales managers.

The downside: Many sales managers believe that they are ahead of the game and they will resist the lessons in this book. They feel that they are the sales locomotive that pulls the entire train. Unfortunately, these managers ignore the fact that there is a second engine at the back of the train, pushing hard. That second engine is a hot and eager market. When that second engine stops pushing, the sales manager will stall out.

More about the author: Check his website also check this brief video clip of Skip teaching salespeople

Stay tuned for Part II – five more books to win in 2010.

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Harness the Power of Ideas

Every idea has an expiration date. Every solution will eventually run into a problem. What worked yesterday may stop working tomorrow. Insight is perishable, and nobody has a monopoly on economic wisdom.

Money will always be tight, and time will always be shorter than we think. If we want to win the game, we need to come up with better ideas faster, before our competition takes the good ideas and executes on them before we do.

Ideas grow stale, just like bread. Yet many American businesses run on processes that are based on stale ideas. A fresh idea is like a new song that brings smiles to people’s faces; fresh ideas are life affirming and generate momentum and vitality. That’s why the most successful companies are engaged in a relentless pursuit of fresh ideas.

Some companies cap their idea wells, and some spoil their wells with poisoned ideas. Customers want fresh and healthy ideas, and they are willing to share ideas with you – if you invite them to engage with you.


  • Collect ideas
  • Collaborate on improving ideas
  • Execute the best ideas

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Welcome to the Ephemeral Economy

Over the last 35 years, the US economy has created jobs in the service sector at a faster pace than in the manufacturing sector. We're no longer producing toothpicks in New England; our socks come from China, and our notebook computers are assembled in Korea. GM has almost run out of gas, and we've industrialized food production to a quality level at which chicken breasts taste like egg cartons and dog food has more nutrients than a hamburger. The loss of the bluecollar worker is now replicated in the service sector. We've entered what I’d like to call the “ephemeral economy,” which delivers software products and applications in the cloud for a monthly fee.

While manufacturing produces solid, tangible products, and the service sector creates predictable experiences, the ephemeral economy delivers fleeting, flowing, yet fabulous information in the cloud. The ephemeral economy has spawned tens of thousands of companies that create software applications that intelligently store, retrieve, organize, and move and display information. Their competitive weapon is their code, and over the past three years their code has cannibalized the music industry, the newspaper industry, the magazine industry, the book industry and the printing industry. Like the DaVinci code offered clues to the investigators, the Internet code – let’s call it the “DaVanish code” – left some of the brightest people in the publishing and printing industries clueless as to who slowly disowned or devoured them. By 2011, printed products will be decorative novelty items.

In the industrial age, the sultans of success were the manufacturing giants who traveled in private railroad cars and crossed the oceans in their private yachts. In today’s ephemeral economy, the kings of code travel in private jets that emit condensation trails that turn into clouds, which is, according to the kings’ marketing declarations, where their software resides.

With all these innovations and dizzying changes, the American economy has not advanced or enhanced its value in the past 10 years. On January 3, 2000, the Dow was at 10,921. Ten years later, the Dow is at 10,583. In the past decade we’ve worked hard but slipped sideways.

While the ephemeral economy builds a new ark, the displaced economies engage in futile attempts to slow down the sinking of their Titanic. I hope that 2010 will be a year in which we realize that we’re all interdependent, with a dramatically rising need for better collaboration on all levels.

The world has gotten smaller. We can no longer escape from or ignore one another. We need to replace the “DaVanish code” with the “DaMaximus code” and create more opportunities for everybody.

Happy New Year!

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