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Sales – A Wake Up Call: Part 2

In the last instalment of this article,  I started with a preamble to selling and how it will be the saviour in this econolypse.

I have been fortunate to have been a salesman, to have run companies as a CEO and Board Member and to have been a marketer. The following are my "To Dos" for each of these points of view

Here is a list for the Boss:

Note: These are business truisms as I personally know them. I am not talking about anything here that I haven't personally experienced. These I believe with all my heart!

1. Hire properly.

  • Hire real slow – fire real fast. No one wins by keeping dead wood around the shop. It’s better for you, your company and for the folks who are probably in the wrong posts to change. It is a very stressful thing to do. I know. I have hired literally hundreds of folks and sadly had to let a few go. That is never good. In fact, a couple were friends. That hurts even more. But no one said being a boss is easy – you can't stand the heat, get the hell out of the kitchen.
  • I have heard umpteen times, especially at agencies that "Our assets go up and down in the elevator every night." Wow. When I hear that the first thing that comes to mind is a joke. Consultant asks company Prez "So how many people work here? Prez … "Oh, about half."
  • I have always wondered how, or why, certain people ever got hired. Folks, if you have what my Ol Buddy David Maister calls "Human Capital" issues and they are rotting on the shelves? Get rid of them. They will poison the rest of the assets, smell when customers come near them and be really nasty to look at. Enough metaphors – you get my point.

2. Price, promote and plan properly. If ya don’t know how – get help.

  • Most people running companies aren't marketers. Hell, most marketers aren't marketers! I know, Sally-  "Pete say it ain't so!" They are engineers, accountants, inventors, sales folks or simply kids whose parents left 'em the shop. If you aren't a great marketer – get help. Companies will eventually tank without great marketing.  Companies like GM, who haven't had a marketer within 1,000 miles …ever, are evidence of this fact.

3. Get out and meet the folks. You staying in your office is like the faux-hunters at the lodge I mentioned in the previous instalment.

  • One of the best ways to go out of business is to keep your head down or buried. That also entails surrounding yourself with sycophants telling you what you want to hear.
  • I was recently called into three different companies to try and help – sadly way too late. The Prez in each case was so out of touch as to what the customers saw, and what he or she thought they saw, it was mind boggling. Get out there – get the truth.

4. Spend against a sales effort – it is not FREE!

  • New business isn't sitting some young kid down at a phone with a business directory doing cold calls. Yes, you should do that. I personally like cold calling – but a sales effort is multi-faceted, multi-layered. Thinking it is simply cold calling is like thinking marketing is only BREs.
  • It also needs a budget, timing, metrics and resources.

5. Reward the sales effort. You want loyalty…buy it.

  • So many folks – when sales start to come in – want to weasel out on the original deals. They start upping the quotas of their sales ponies or worse, not paying in a timely manner – or at all.
  • Come on, sheeeesh – pay the sales ponies.

6. Get better advice than you are getting now.

See below.

7. It ain’t what ya don’t know that will screw ya… it’s what ya know that ain’t so!

  • This is the best piece of advice I have ever received. It was told to me one lovely morning by Peter Zarry. We were partners once and this guy was a genius. In essence, the learning in this phrase is simply not to base your decisions on corporate dogma. Institutional beliefs are a dangerous thing. While a lot of  Bosses are siting there right now worrying about their competition and what they will do next, it is probably your staff, your vendors and your advisors that are killing you. Ask the tough questions. And get proof when someone pipes up with an answer.
  • Always get a second opinion.
  • And my favorite saying is and will always be  – "Oh, and how do you know that?" In other words – prove it.

8. If you get the chance, leave the office. Do it. And stay away from the office. A lot.

  • A great company will run without you there. If you have to micro-manage you are doomed. Full stop. Hire the right folks and tell them what to do – not how to do it!
  • And I don't know a single company that isn't cheerier without the Boss there. Think of it as a cheap perk for the employees. Go golf with your best customer. A win/win situation.

9. Speak to a customer, an employee and a supplier each day.

  • Lee Iacocca said this. Truer words were never spoken. If you speak to a customer, an employee and a supplier each and every day you will be so far ahead of the competition it will make your head spin.
  • And if you want to emulate someone  – try Lee. Worked for me. No nonsense. Tough. Fair. Not afraid to speak his mind and not afraid to act.

10. "When someone tells you how to run your business – you go out of business."

  • Never let the lawyers (and any other folks) make final decisions on how to run your business. Trust your instincts.
  • Great leaders have faith. They never doubt. Imagine if JFK said – "It is not what your country can do for you it is what you can do for your county! If that is OK with you, like, if you don't mind. Maybe we will have a meeting and get consensus first."
  • I took over a public company as CEO Prez and Board Member – when I went in there were over 50 lawsuits. Trust me it was nasty. I am not a lawyer – I have some exposure to law as I was a policeman in a prior life, but I wanted to put my beliefs to work here – I made a pledge to solve all of these suits without litigation, nor simply buying our way out. l The latter was easy to avoid, we had no money.
  • Well, after a year and a half we had eliminated all of the suits and did so without retaining lawyers. Also I am not a trained negotiator nor anything near an expert in dispute resolution management. I am an expert obviously in calling someone and asking, "So, how do we fix this? Let's chat."

11. Follow the passion. And if it ain’t fun? Don’t do it. I repeat DO NOT DO IT!

  • – Why the hell would you do something that doesn't turn your crank? If you happen to be somewhere running something that doesn't get you really turned on, hire someone to do it and go start something else – or write a damn book. 'Cause there is an old saying "Fish rot from the head down." And if you are not excited, guaranteed those underneath you are asleep.
  • Have a look at the 1985 book The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber – I won't steal his thunder here – this is a good read.

12. Bigger is only better – if it is.

  • Tom Peters and a whole whack of pundits claim there is an optimum size to a successful organization. Well, I believe if it works, go with it.

13. One more time -  “Fish rot from the head down.” If something screws up – it is your fault.

Next time, Part 3 – advice to the Marketers.

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