In January 2010, I wrote a blog post asking if BlackBerry was a dead product walking. In the post I put forth the theory that BlackBerry’s envy of Apple’s customers was one of the primary reasons for the decreasing performance of the company.
In the last year the story of BlackBerry’s failure is well known. The failure led to management shakeup where the co-CEOs and founders left the company and a new CEO was put in charge. Yesterday, he announced that BlackBerry, for all practical purposes, is giving up the consumer market and is focusing on their more traditional markets of businesses and enterprises.
While this was certainly the primary recommendation I made almost 15 months ago, my question now is, “Is it too late?”
Apple, Android and others have all continued to advance their technology, build deep emotional connections with their customers and to exploit the Blackberry’s missteps. I certainly hope RIM’s decision, and the implementation/execution of the strategy works for BlackBerry.
I think it’s good for the world that there is a strong BlackBerry out there to provide competition for the Apples of the world.
Yesterday I was working with one of the players on our college baseball team in the batting cage. He was working on an adjustment that would improve his consistency and effectiveness. As we were making adjustments (and I was seeing improved swings), I asked him how it felt.
His first response was a hesitant, “Yeah, it feels a little better.” Knowing that every player will say whatever it takes to appease his coach, I followed up by asking him if it really felt better. With a quizzical look he replied, “Well, yeah it does. It just feels like I’m not even putting any effort out.”
I told him what I tell every salesperson or business executive that I advise, “That’s how it’s supposed to feel.” I’ve always said, “If you feel like you’re selling, you’re doing something wrong.”
Talking with him reminded me of how, when we want something, we all press a little bit. The more we want it, the more we like to press, get tense and “try harder.”
What’s funny is that we also all get our best results when we’re not even trying. Athletes call it “the zone,” other call it “flow.” It occurs we our minds, bodies and actions are in complete alignment. We’re relaxed. We don’t have to think. We just act.
We you try too hard, you tense up. Your muscles – both physical and mental – contract. You get slow and you fall out of synch.
I think it’s important that we all remember that you don’t get into a state of flow by trying too hard. When the stakes are high, and the conditions are tough remember to go against your natural instinct of pressing, and instead relax and let it happen.
Anyone who’s a reader of this blog knows that I’m a radical believer in the importance of content. As I’ve written before, content is critical to growing any business successfully.
Whenever I talk with companies or executives about developing content, it’s often greeted with a response like, “Yeah, I know it will work, but it just seems to difficult.” While I’ve done much to help executives overcome these obstacles, I think this blog post by content marketing expert Joe Pulizzi shines some light on some very important myths on why content is critical and how to do it effectively.
There is a critical, often overlooked, space between insight and execution. It’s a space that is uniquely frustrating to entrepreneurs and salespeople, and causes more great ideas to fail than anything else.
It’s a space filled with trade-offs. It’s fraught with ambiguity and filled with complexity. Most small and mid-sized business (SME) executives either ignore the space completely or get paralyzed by it and fail to act. I call this space The Results Chasm™.
This reaction is understandable. We’re all searching for clear answers to questions like will it work or won’t it? Should we do it or not? How will we know?
Confronting The Results Chasm™ induces headaches, and who wants those? It’s far easier to either ignore the complexity or jump to the next endorphin creating idea.
We’ve all seen the success stories that allowed someone to make billions without confronting the chasm. Who doesn’t want to be the next YouTube? And look, if you’ve got the idea that will work, I say go for it.
However, if you’re like most SME’s and you can’t count on luck, you need to embrace the chasm. Simplicity and success lies on the other side of complexity. Your job is to manage the complexity, don’t ignore it.
I’ll never forget the defining moment of my sales career. I had experienced some nice success in my early sales career. I made more than my share of awards clubs, I was making good money and, frankly, I was having a lot of fun.
I also knew, intuitively, that, while I was doing well, what I was doing wasn’t going to get me the results I wanted over the long run. So, in the midst of a successful career, I decided to radically change my approach to selling.
I decided that being a closer wasn’t enough. While I didn’t use these words at the time, I realized that I needed to become a businessperson who sells. I needed to earn “a seat at the executive table.” And to do this, I knew that I would have to develop new skills, new systems and new disciplines.
The first steps of the journey were very exciting for me. I felt great about what I was doing. I got to laugh at all the closes I had memorized, and I dreamed of winning big deals, and of hanging out with the movers and shakers of business.
Making the change was tough. I had to work hard. I’d constantly fall back on old behaviors and found myself pulling out my power closes even when I didn’t want to. But I was making good progress. I was entering new, better opportunities. I was going against tougher competition – a clear sign that my business was growing they way I needed it to.
And then, all of the sudden, I got to face frustration head on. I was losing opportunities. Suddenly, I found myself losing more deals in a month than I had in a quarter or even a year. Clearly something was wrong, and I thought seriously about whether my quest for a better form of selling was a mistake.
When I sat down to assess what wasn’t working, I realized that, while I was losing more opportunities, I was also winning more good, high-profit deals. I realized that while my skills were improving, I hadn’t mastered them yet. I was good enough to get in the door with the right people and the right opportunities, but I wasn’t yet good enough to win the business.
What was also fascinating was how much I was learning; both about selling better and about delivering a compelling proposition. The no’s I was getting were making my company’s offerings better.
I realized that losing was a clear sign of progress and a learning opportunity. As you grow your company, please don’t forget that, to get where you want to go, you’ll encounter very similar experiences.
If you’ve got a growth story, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.
It’s funny, I started writing this blog seven years ago simply because I felt like I had something to say and I was hoping there were people out there who wanted to listen. I had no idea the impact blogging would have on me, my business, or the readers of this blog.
I remember talking to my brother when I first started the blog. He said to me, “We’ll see if you still have something worth saying a year from now.” Well, so far, so good.
While it’s trite to say that the quality of this blog is what it is because of its readers, it’s also very true. The feedback I get online, offline and in conversations has provided the motivation and inspiration to share my insights and experience.
So thank you for making this blog a delight for me.
For 25 years the most frequent question I’ve gotten about sales efforts deals with successfully hiring salespeople. For small and mid-market companies (SME), hiring salespeople is the single, toughest and highest risk hire you can make. It’s what led me to write The 10 Most Common Mistakes Made When Hiring Salespeople.
Studies show that the mis-hire rate is as high as 75%, and that the total cost of a mis-hire is between 10 & 20 times the expected compensation rate.
My philosophy has always been that I’d rather have a bad salesperson than a good salesperson.
- When a salesperson is bad, letting them go is an easy decision and doing so minimizes the risk and cost implications.
- When they’re good, it’s almost (key word – almost) impossible to let them go. You constantly see the potential they have. Plus, there’s the feeling that having someone out there is better than having no one.
The problem is that good salespeople is that they commoditize your offerings. They never achieve that trusted advisor status that makes customers, clients and prospect truly value the salesperson or your company. The opportunity cost with good is huge.
The reality is that SMEs need great salespeople to grow and thrive. The problem is that most SMEs are not positioned to attract, recruit or retain great salespeople.
It is for this reason that I’ve put together my best thoughts, experiences and process that I’ve developed over the last 25 years.
I’ll be sharing my insights in our March 27th webinar: The Secrets to Successfully Hiring Salespeople.
I’ll be sharing:
- The 5 deadly myths that destroy your ability to hire salespeople successfully.
- The 4 sales roles, and how understanding those roles will multiply the effectiveness of your sales hiring.
- How to develop a system that will make you company a manufacturer of great salespeople.
- Develop effective measurements and metrics to ensure the wrong person doesn’t stay.
So join me on March 27th at 2 pm EST, and learn how to make the sales hiring process successful and predictable.