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September 2012

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger - he turned around The New York Times

 

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger passed away today at age 86. He ran The New York Times from 1963 until 1997, growing the company from $100 million to $1.7 billion before quietly handing over the reins to his son.

In January 2000 I got the opportunity to interview Mr. Sulzberger. I was immediately struck by his self-deprecating humor and his endearing stories. As I sat across his desk I noticed a desktop computer on the left side and an old fashioned typewriter on the right. I asked, “what do you use more, the computer or the typewriter?” He smiled and said, “They taught me how to use the computer for my email. Now, the typewriter is another story. When I started at the New York Times in 1963 every reporter had a typewriter and we had a staff of 100 people that serviced the typewriters for over 1,000 reporters. The other day I sent someone out to buy a new typewriter ribbon but the young man could not figure out how to replace that ribbon. I had to show him.” Then I asked him when he last used the typewriter and he said, “Just last Sunday I picked up a copy of our paper and noticed that in the science section there was some color missing so I typed out a note to the production manager asking, ‘did we supply crayons to our readers?’”

I have always been curious about the family business that runs The New York Times. In 1896, Adolph Ochs took over the reins of the struggling newspaper that, at the time, competed with more than a dozen New York dailies. With a total circulation of only 9,000 copies, Ochs had to move quickly. Fortunately, he was an astute salesman.

He lowered the price of the paper from three cents to one penny and promised to publish "the news impartially, without fear or favor." The experts of the day were astounded. Ochs added greater value with better editorial content. He cut out fiction. He cut stale columns. He targeted the paper toward "men in business." He also launched an illustrated Sunday magazine with half-tone photographs and further set himself apart from the competition by heavily advertising the slogan "All the news that's fit to print." By taking the high road in quality and the low road in price, Ochs soon increased The Times’ circulation to 350,000.

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger was nicknamed “Punch” after the puppet characters Punch and Judy. Punch remembered how his grandfather shared his passion for publishing with family members and dinner guests. After dessert he would hand out copies of stories that were to be published in the next morning's paper. He distributed the articles without titles and asked his guests, "What headline would you assign to this story?" After everyone took a stab at it, he proudly revealed the title as it would appear in the paper the next morning.

A shaky start

In 1963 at age 37, Punch assumed the title of publisher of the New York Times.  At first glance, Punch did not fill the bill. He performed poorly in school – having attended six private schools before quitting at age 17 to enlist in the Marines – and did not excel as a cub reporter in the family business. In fact, while he worked for the newspapers’ Paris bureau in 1955, one incident illustrated his shortcomings. On a weekend outing with friends to the Grand Pix in Le Mans, Punch witnessed a fatal accident when driver Pierre Levegh's Mercedes crashed into the stands, killing the driver and 83 spectators.

 

Not only did Punch pass up the once-in-a-lifetime reporting opportunity, he even failed to notify the news bureau of the accident. "It was unbelievable," Punch says of the accident. "I must have been a block or so away. It was my day off, so I left the story for somebody else. I wasn't the greatest reporter. But you live and learn."
 
The Pentagon Papers

The most difficult decision Punch faced came in the 1960s and early '70s when America's involvement in the Vietnam War set the stage for a showdown between The New York Times and the United States government. When Times reporter Neil Sheehan acquired his own copies of the Pentagon Papers – a series of reports by U.S. Department of Defense analysts describing how, for decades, the government hid from the American people its increasing commitment to the South Vietnamese cause – Times editors and lawyers debated the merits of printing the documents.

"There was no internal debate excepting at the highest level," said Sulzberger. "We did it so secretly that most people didn't know anything was happening. At the final debate, everybody from The New York Times was urging me to publish it." He did, and the first installment appeared in the Sunday, June 13, 1971, edition. Immediately, President Richard Nixon's Justice Department procured an order of prior restraint to prohibit The Times from publishing any more of the Pentagon Papers. President Nixon was incensed. His words to National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger included "People have gotta be put to the torch for this sort of thing..." and "Let's get the son-of-a-bitch in jail."

The Times resisted, and the case went to the Supreme Court, which voted six to three to lift the order. "Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government," wrote Justice Hugo L. Black in a concurring opinion.


Punch considered winning the case of the Pentagon Papers to be his proudest accomplishment during his tenure.


The Times's story is the story of a family that has chosen to perpetuate Adolph Ochs' passion for quality with a greater dedication to public service than many other great American families. While such powerful families as the Kennedys reached the limelight through short-lived triumphs and long-remembered tragedies, the Sulzberger family always took pride in perpetuating their product without much bragging. Arthur Sulzberger was part of the family dynasty behind The New York Times. Like a great actor becomes invisible in the portrayal of a character, Punch has channeled his life’s energy with courage and authenticity into the indomitable character of the paper.

 

 

 

 


Say Goodbye to the Good Old Days of Selling


As the founder of Selling Power magazine, I’ve watched the profession of sales change dramatically in the past 30 years. And I think it is very, very tough for sales leaders out there today. Possibly the toughest it’s ever been. 

Fact one: The average tenure of a sales VP is somewhere between 24 and 32 months. There is a huge amount of pressure on newly-hired VPs to come in to a company and magically fix everything. The problem is that 24 months is nowhere near enough time to implement strategic change. Not only is this a terrible scenario for the VP, it’s also a surefire way to hamstring a company and its strategic initiatives.

Fact two: The B2B customer has officially gone digital. And many companies are failing to adapt to that fact. Today, 57% of B2B buying steps are completed before buyers connect with a salesperson. That’s a staggering shift. Yet B2B companies are not leading the charge to embrace the digital customer. They are not setting up online sales channels. They are not exploring social selling solutions. They are not adopting marketing automation programs. They are not outfitting their sales teams with tablets and mobile phones. They are not implementing sales enablement solutions.

That’s why you see so many sales cultures that are stuck in a rut, and so many sales teams that are failing to meet revenue goals.

This year alone, I have hosted three Sales 2.0 events for B2B sales leaders -- in Philadelphia, London, and Boston. These conferences draw speakers and attendees from industry giants like Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, to rapid-growth startups, to everything in between. The message I hear from these companies is the same: the good old days of selling are over. Everyone at some level is feeling the pain of being left out of the technology loop, and they’re unsure about what their next step should be to remain competitive in this new landscape.

I have always believed that selling is an art. Today, however, no sales leader can afford to ignore science. Sales 2.0 and technology solutions are making the art of selling measurable in actual numbers. And that is going to have a huge effect on the way we lead sales teams in the years to come. My opinion is that sales leaders who make strategic decisions to leverage a combination of data and social insight will empower their teams and be able to deliver predictably successful results for their companies.

In October, I’ll be discussing the future of selling in more detail at the Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference in San Francisco -- along with leaders from companies like PI Worldwide, Oracle, McKinsey, and CSO Insights. The agenda is packed with examples of how sales leaders can start taking those steps to push their teams to higher levels of success in a variety of areas. I invite you to email me with any questions at gerhardg@gmail.com or message me on Twitter @gerhard20.

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Using Technology to Sell

JonathanLondon_100Today's blog post is by Jonathan London, author of Using Technology to Sell: Tactics to Ratchet Up Results and the founder of Improved Performance Group (IPG).

 

A9781430239338-3d_2Technology and data are exploding in every facet of our lives to the point that we can feel overwhelmed or confused by all of our options. What does this explosion mean to the world of sales?

The Internet; computing power; faster and more available bandwidth; mobile devices and their apps; higher-resolution screens and cameras; more sophisticated hardware, software, and imagery; voice recognition; GPS; and more all provide greater capability than ever before to help people sell and prospects to make decisions.

Technology advancements also allow companies to expand their markets or sell in numerous ways that they had never been able to before. And keeping up with technology and knowing which to use where, how, and when is a challenge for businesses of all types in all industries.

Because information and analytical tools are so widely available, more logical and informed purchasing decisions can be made. More prospects than ever before are using data, metrics, and measurements as part of the decision-making process.

A recent study by Forrester Research established that people who are making business decisions rely on their own research and input from people they know rather than from vendors. This is having a dramatic impact on people’s buying behavior, since they are much better informed; therefore, the best salesperson needs to emphasize different insight, such as deep knowledge of a client’s industry and the most productive applications of his or her solution, rather than just spew generic benefits or regurgitate reams of data. The terms “subject matter expert” and “trusted advisor” reflect an ability to share such insight.

Because prospects are better informed, they have a better filter to decide if what you are saying is valid, valuable, and true. People no longer have to rely on brochures or proposals.

Perhaps the best example of this phenomenon is buying a car today. You can go online and find out exactly how much a dealer has paid for the car you want to buy and what incentives the manufacturer is providing. You can therefore go into a car dealership knowing the exact costs to the dealer. That puts buyers in a much better position to negotiate and choose from whom they want to buy. (One adaptation: many dealers now sell more used cars because this information is not as available, and they can charge more for them.)

What does all this mean for you, the salesperson? Two things to consider:

  1. You need to be ahead of the curve in using technology to your advantage.
  2. You need to understand people, i.e., your target demographic and how they buy using the Web, which methods they prefer (visual, text, PDF, graphics), what they need to know (the content itself), and when in the sales process they want information to make a decision in your favor.

The ubiquity of technology and information is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the sheer volume of information can make selling more difficult. It can become unwieldy, confusing, and overwhelming to you and your prospects, thus hurting your sales efforts. If you know how to control and use it, however, know which bits of information are important and which are a distraction, you are in an enviable position to sell more. How you best engage with technology and information and use it to your advantage to get the optimal return is addressed thoroughly in my book. As you’ll learn, salespeople need to become master craftsmen, better able than their competitors to use the tools they have. This has always been true but is more so now than ever.

Used properly, technology allows you to expand your skills and markets, get greater exposure, and create more sales opportunities.

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A New Sales-Intelligence Tool to Sell More and Sell Better

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Paris, France: At 6:00 a.m. today, Marc and Nicolas at IKO System pushed a button to launch their new sales application online. Two years after the initial release of their sales intelligence solution and after massive changes in the selling world, which has become increasingly social and mobile, it’s time to create more “wow” and value for the user.

This innovative French company, which is competing head-to-head with Silicon Valley cloud apps, is driven by the simple ambition to change the way sales reps capture prospects and close deals.

The IKO System app connects CRM solutions with social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter).

UntitledThe basic concept is simple: IKO analyzes all the connections between a company’s prospects, clients, and competitors to generate sales-trigger events.

The solution not only helps users find prospects using social referrals, but it also maps the best connections to each target account. What’s best is that users can pool their networks between all team members so that each person can gain access to many decision makers through instant referrals.

The application offers another key feature for greater insight throughout the sales cycle: as salespeople follow their contacts and accounts in their CRM system, they get instant access to current business news, job changes, and newly hired executives.

IKO founder and CEO Marc Rouvier told Selling Power, “Salespeople have a dual challenge: on one hand, there is a growing amount of CRM data decay; close to thirty percent of B2B contacts change jobs every year. On the other hand, there are fresh profiles and relationship data on LinkedIn, but sales reps don’t have the time to harvest the data from social networks.

“Recent studies show that more than eighty percent of decision makers accept meetings only through referrals, and relationship and trust come back as the key factors in selling. We needed a sales-intelligence software to collect and map the relationship information and deliver business insight to the sales reps. This didn’t exist, so we built it.”

As of today, IKO System has been adopted by some big players (McAfee, Oracle, SAP, Red Hat, and CBRE), but also SMBs and start-up companies.

Marc noted that in a socially networked world, sales success depends on making the right connections and having the right conversations. IKO System is a sales rep’s best friend when it comes to making the best connections and a sales rep’s smartest friend when it comes to having the best conversation with the right prospect at the right time.

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You Should Collaborate with Your Prospect

Pats_Portraits_072Today's blog post is by Pat O'Brien, founder and CEO of GetMyROI, a cloud-based application to help enterprise sales reps sell value. O'Brien has almost 20 years' experience successfully selling and managing teams selling complex solutions for young technology companies. 

 

Sounds cool, but . . . prospects don’t want to collaborate with you. Most of them don’t, anyway. At least not yet. Don’t get upset. It’s not you. Collaboration, CRM 2.0, Social, and their cousins are all the buzz right now within the enterprise, but there’s really nothing out there to help reps at that crucial point when an enterprise-class prospect has expressed some interest but isn’t quite ready to open up or be a “champion.”

Customer collaboration technologies (sometimes known as ESM, or enterprise social media) have made good inroads in the enterprise, but not really for enterprise sales reps interacting with prospects. There are internally focused technologies, like Jive or Chatter or SAVO or Moxie, and even Google+ now, that help me collaborate and communicate internally. There are technologies that help once a customer’s on board, say, from a support perspective, like Lithium. And there are lots of basic, more generic collaboration or Wiki technologies, like Atlassian’s Confluence or 37signals’s Basecamp, or even PBworks. I probably haven’t seen all of them, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t one focused on helping that initial prospect/sales rep conversation.

We need to merge the sales rep’s desire to understand the prospect’s business drivers, the prospect’s wish to quickly assess whether the vendor can help, and everyone’s wish to understand the intersection of quantified benefits with business drivers. The stronger the match, the more everyone wants to engage and move forward.

This is the essence of a focus on selling value: learn, align, quantify.

In the language of the challenger sale, we need to help the rep find that interesting, sort of hidden, hopefully provocative teaching opportunity, to make it a little easier to discuss economic drivers, and thus, to challenge. And to make it desirable for a prospect to participate – easy to use, valuable to all parties.

A focus on and discussion of value should be the foundation of any process or technology aimed at helping the sales rep and prospect to collaborate.

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A Fresh Look at the Elevator Speech Concept: You Don't Have to Score on Every Play, Just Advance the Ball (a Sneak Peek inside Small Message, Big Impact)

Fb-profile-tsjo-1Today's blog post is by Terri Sjodin, principal and founder of Sjodin CommunicationsIn her newly updated book, Small Message, Big Impact, Terri Sjodin offers her time-tested strategies for crafting clear, concise, compelling presentations. She includes outlines, worksheets, a sample elevator speech, evaluation forms, and more.

 

Detail-SMBI_2dYou're in the airport waiting for a flight, burning time by checking your BlackBerry or iPhone and reading the paper. You just want to get home. Then you catch a glimpse of the CEO you've been wanting to meet with for weeks. He's standing against the wall, also waiting for his flight – your flight! Hmmm, wouldn't it be great if you were seated next to him? Should you walk over? What would you say? You don't want to be intrusive, but gosh, it's a great opportunity to talk with him and introduce yourself. There's no secretary to screen you out. All you have to do is walk over and hand him your card.

Your pulse quickens and your mind races. "What will I say?" you ask yourself. You decide he doesn't want to be bugged. "I'll leave him alone." Then, over the loudspeaker, you hear that first-class passengers are invited to board the plane. He is gone, and so is your shot.

Bummer.

We've all been there. A new opportunity presents itself. You might have only one chance to share your message. You feel the pressure. The clock is ticking...

Will you be ready, or will you just wing it? When you make the most of that unique opportunity or meeting, your path could change forever. In this age of information overload, no business skill is more essential than being able to communicate well, get to the point, and connect with others quickly.

Enter the elevator speech effect...

Do you have an effective elevator speech? Do you need one or even want one? In today's competitive market, the answer is yes. Note: Don't think of an elevator speech as just a generic tool that you use in chance moments. Consider it a strategy to manage multiple talking points, as well.

How do you get started?  

To reach any goal or complete any task, you must first define your intention. What do we mean by "intention"? The American Heritage Dictionary defines intention as "a course of action that one intends to follow; an aim that guides action; an objective."

So what is the desired result of your elevator speech or brief message? It's not to close the deal; it's to start a conversation.

I recently shared this idea with one of my dearest friends, Brad McMillen, who is a former state championship quarterback turned Internet sales executive. He offered this analogy:

"When you mentioned your concept of the three-minute elevator speech and intention, the word 'intention' reminded me of when I was playing football. Our intention was to score eventually. As quarterback, I would go to the line, ready to throw a pass. I had a system of reads, depending on the defense. The first option was to throw long. If that was covered, as I dropped back to throw, I looked at my secondary option. If he was covered, I threw to my third option. If he was covered, I just threw the ball away or ran for my life.

"In the end, I kept the same overall intention – to score points with my team. This progression is called 'checking down,' and it's what quarterbacks do. They check down but always with the ultimate goal of getting to the end zone. The point is, you don't have to score on every play, just advance the ball."

Similarly, the point of the three-minute elevator speech is not to close the deal. Its goal is to advance you to the next point in your sales process.

It's beneficial to keep your intention in mind at all times, not solely when you have a presentation on the horizon. When you strike up a conversation with someone you don't know, that person doesn't have to be a designated target. Simply keep your message out there, sharing it with people who know other people. Your message is important, and you have to let it be heard. Believe in it, share it, and practice communicating it with clear, concise talking points that help you move toward your intention, and it becomes a natural part of your communication.

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