Wednesday, February 28, 2007

In Sales Only One Metric Matters

I am not sure why they have performance reviews for sales people. As I am learning, there is only one metric sales is judged on, which is something of a change for me since I have been more on the marketing side for most of my career.

For, example, here is an example of an account where I think I am doing very well:
  • Our company had absolutely no contacts at the account. Got foot in the door, learned the organization, and found an internal advocate for our company & products
  • Using the internal advocate, figured out key decision makers in the area we work in. Set up multiple meetings to establish personal rapport and showcase our product line at the senior level
  • Moving the ball forward, got the company to sign a bilateral non-disclosure agreement (NDA), allowing deeper technical and business discussions on how our two companies may engage
  • Customer agreed to take samples of our product for analysis and quality assurance
  • Overall, things have gone forward very well, taking the typical amount of time required for a design-cycle in our segment. The customer will be completing their internal engineering analysis soon, allowing us to enter into negotiations.
My company's response: Where's the purchase order?!? Any account where there is no PO must be a problem. Or YOU might be the problem.
But, hey, this is why salespeople are paid the big bucks. I just need a close a few of these.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Explaining What You Do To Your Child

I have trouble explaining what I do to most adults, so when my five year old daughter asked me what I did for work, I came up with the simplest explanation I could find: "I sell computer chips."

She paused a moment. "Do they taste good?"

I guess I deserved that. My daughter knows what a computer is, but to her a chip is still a Pringle.

The other thing I have a hard time explaining is the fact that I alternatively home office or leave on the road for long periods of time. She gets it when I have "to go to work on a plane" and have to be away from home for a "long time" (any period of time over two days is long time to her), but "working from home" is still a hard concept for her to grasp. But most of corporate America has the same problem, so she is not alone there.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Not Exactly An Exciting Tradeshow

In early January I was at the Consumer Electronics Show, one of the largest tradeshows in the world. Video games, big screen TVs and other exciting gizmos were on display in a huge sea of people. It was in Vegas, the adult playground of the U.S.

In early February I was at the 3GSM Conference, one of the largest cellphone tradeshows in the world. New cellphone models, software and services were displayed in a frenzy of high energy activity in the cultural center of Barcelona, Spain.

This week I went to the IPC, a show about printed circuit boards (PCB) at...the Los Angeles convention center. PCBs are those green plastic sheets inside your computer and cellphone that hold the chips in place. The big exciting topics at this show are what types of material to use for your PCB (FR4 or BT? The World Wonders!) and what the Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Act is going to mean for lead-free reflow (this was, by far, the most talked about topic at the show)

But, hey, every industry has its own tradeshow and it isn't nice to make fun of it. And I am not saying that I don't respect it or anything like that.

I did get some important business done there after all.

Monday, February 19, 2007

When Did Presidents' Day Become A Major Holiday?

When I was a kid Presidents' Day was one of those holidays where you didn't get mail, but you still had to go to school. There were half a dozen "holidays" like that, such as Veterans Day, Flag Day and a few others.

Fast forward into the 90's and it was pretty much the same thing. My brother who worked in banking got the day off, but I, and everyone else I knew who didn't work for NASA or the post office, still had to go to work.

Fast forward another decade and it is almost a major holiday. I get it off, my wife gets it off and my kid gets it off. Most the kids on the block have the whole WEEK off - something about "ski week" - but it starts with Presidents' Day.

And because we are all sitting around thinking about past Chief Executives of our democracy, the next thing we'll see are Presidents' Day greeting cards. But it's not like I'm complaining. I'll take all the three day weekends I can get, although I'll be putting in a few hours of work, just like any other weekend day.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Now That I Am Back, Some Observations on Spain

This was actually my second time to Spain, but the last trip was nearly 15 years ago. Some things I noticed this time around:
  • I think of all the EU countries I have been to lately, Spain seems the most entrepreneurial. Its business community doesn't have that statist feeling of France, and now Germany.
  • It is also a young country (demographically) compared to most of Europe, something I had read about before but is actually noticeable just walking around or when using public transportation.
  • The Spanish are also among the friendliest people I have met in Europe, although on this trip I have to give the Dutch the nod as the friendliest (I had a short stop in Holland).
  • The nice thing about being in Spain is that I can actually understand most of what is spoken. I can't speak Spanish, but I can understand a lot of it.
  • Prices are relatively expensive, partly because of the strength of the Euro to the dollar.
  • By day 3 I was WAY tired of Spain's "fast food", which is ham or salami on a baguette. It tastes okay, but sometimes I wanted a hot lunch.
  • Rioja wines are vastly underrated on the world stage.
  • Coffee rocks in Spain. If you order a "cafe" you actually get an espresso. Of course since I have cut down significantly on my caffeine (I actually cut it off when I am not jet lagged), I didn't have it too often. There is no such thing as "decaf" there.
  • I saw one Starbucks there. I never went into it.
  • Barcelona has outgrown their airport. There is one restaurant that serves hot food and it seats 20 people.
  • When I was there in the early 90's, Gaudi's Cathedral (Sagrada Familia) had cranes on it doing work. Fifteen years later those cranes were still there (but apparently it is a work still in progress).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

There Are Worse Places To Be Sent

Here I am at 3GSM, the largest cellphone tradeshow in the world, in Barcelona. I am finding out first hand just how bad cellphone cameras are and how much they need to improve:

But I can't complain too much. Spain is a nice place to visit, even if I can't take any decent photos of it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Will The Last One Out Of Kodak Please Shut Off The Lights?

Kodak plans to cut up to 3,000 more jobs

On top of 25,000 to 27,000 layoffs targeted since 2004, Kodak is reducing its payroll even further to accommodate last month's $2.35 billion sale of its health-imaging unit

So about 30,000 in three years - the size of a whole town.

This is a sad example of a company that adopted too late to a disruptive technology: digital imaging. Kodak was fat and happy making huge margins off film and paper, but then the earth moved beneath them. By the time they realized it, they did too little too late.

The article claims that Kodak "created the world's first digital camera" and has over 1,000 patents in the area,. That is little consolation to the stock holders who have lost billions of dollars of assets. Kodak may have been ahead in the lab, but the business people just ignored it as they raked in tons of cash out of the old business, allowing others to carve out huge pieces of the new market.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Executive Admin

I watched a colleague get into a argument with the CEO's admin and wanted to remind him that she has more power than any VP in the company.

Actually, salespeople know that one of the golden rules is to treat admins with the same respect as the people they work for. They are really part of a two-person team that run that box on the org chart. And I don't know any CEO, EVP or other ranking executive who couldn't get through his week (or even to lunch time) without the support of their admin. She (and it is a she 99% of the time) controls his schedule, who gets into see him, can sign off for him on many documents, and has his ear when it comes time to promote and fire. It doesn't pay to get on this person's bad side.

In fact, I so closely link an admin and executive together that one time at a tradeshow reception I had to do a double-take when I was introduced to an executive's wife. I was expecting to be introduced to his admin and had to cover my surprise. My subconscious had so linked the executive and his receptionist as a "couple" that I had assumed that she would be the one with him at the event.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

So Much for My Predictions

If they had only stopped the game after the first minute. I was feeling pretty smug after the opening kick off. Unfortunately a game lasts for four quarters. Well, in this case for about three.

Oh well. A round on me at the Gingerman the next time I'm in Houston.

As for the commercials, "Darts" from Careerbuilder gets my vote. I was laughing out loud and rewound it to watch in again.