“How I Work”: Rick Oppedisano, VP, Marketing and R & D – BluePhoenix Solutions

RickO“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series, and recently several sales experts (including  Anthony IannarinoDave Brock and Trish Bertuzzi) participated as well.

Periodically moving forward we will feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions.  You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.

This week I’m excited and honored to feature Rick Oppedisano, vice president of global R&D and marketing at BluePhoenix Solutions.  He’s one of those guys that just gets a ton of sss……tuff done, and I have no idea where he finds the time.  Not just strategy too.  The guy is a wicked-good designer, sharp strategist, and seems to always have multiple balls in the air.  Not to mention packing school lunches and ferrying kids to their multiple destinations every day.

Rick, suffice it to say, gets stuff done.  Here, in his own words, is how he works.

Location:  Live and work in Fort Mill, SC- a suburb of Charlotte, NC.  I have an easy commute of less than a mile to the office, and if I have to meet clients in Charlotte, it’s usually about a 20 minute drive.  I run global Marketing and R&D for BluePhoenix Solutions, soon to be rebranded as Modern Systems.

Current computers:  HP Pavilion Desktops at home and work, Dell XPS 13 for travel.

Current mobile devices: Samsung S5 smartphone and Galaxy 10.1 tablet for my garage, where I YouTube repair videos for my 1984 BMW.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

  • Trello for starters.  We’re a global company and I manage resources in the US, Romania and Israel.  We use Trello as a collaboration tool for managing feature requests for R&D as well as delivery and work plans for our marketing and development resources worldwide.   With the time differences, our team pretty much works around the clock- so my day starts with looking at the week’s deadlines and how things have progressed overnight.  We also use Trello to collect field data and ideas or requests for marketing, as well as post reports on our campaign efforts.  Trello’s a great tool for establishing direction and accountability in a transparent, collaborative way, especially when you don’t see or talk to your team every day.
  • I’m also a big Google Alerts guy- I find it the easiest way to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening around us.  I set alerts for industry trends and terms, what are partners are doing, as well as competitor products and services.
  • I regularly check Salesforce to see how incoming leads are looking.  We use Leadlander and Google Analytics, so I usually spend some time looking for any site visitor trends or patterns in how people are interacting with our brand- and if so, whether it’s something we can apply to our sales messaging or product positioning.  If I find interesting blog posts or articles, I share them to our Twitter followers and LinkedIn groups via Buffer App.
  • Lastly, Outlook and Skype.  I try not to be so dependent on email- I find that if you spend too much time on email, you’re serving other people’s priorities and not your own.  I also think it’s hard to be creative and think critically with the constant disruption of email.  So I really only keep Outlook up and running for 2-3 hours/day at most.  I prefer to keep Skype up instead, since it’s a smaller, controlled group who can contact me.  Plus, if it’s that important, my people can just call.

What’s your workspace like?  Pretty organized and clean.  I have a set of personal goals on post-it notes stuck to the side of one of my monitors.  My professional goals are post-it notes stuck to the other monitor.  I keep a legal pad to track my tasks for the day and keep notes or ideas.  All of my data is stored in the cloud (OneDrive), so I can work on any of my devices.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack?  Trello.  Not only do I use it for work, but I use it for all sorts of personal stuff.  You name it- gift ideas for my wife, things to do with my kids, ideas on blog posts, recipes, funny Facebook status updates.  They’re all there and easy to keep track of from any device.

What everyday thing are you better at than anybody else?  Compartmentalizing.  I have several fulltime focuses, but only a limited amount of emotional and mental energy to devote to each one.  Here’s a visual for my process.  Pretend each item you’re dealing with in life is a room where you have to walk in and solve an equation on a white board. You have a countdown clock with less than an hour to get the problem solved, or take a single step in the right direction, and then shut the door and go into another room equally as important.  You spend your entire life going from compartment to compartment, and if that sounds hectic, that’s because it is.  But I get a hell of a lot done and usually don’t get overly hung up over anything.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager? Trello :)

What do you listen to while at work?  I am a lifelong music junkie and use Spotify religiously, typically listening to 3-5 new albums per week on top of my normal favorites.  Current bands on the playlist include Phantogram, Wild Cub and Royal Blood, plus old favorites like The Who, Led Zeppelin and Tribe Called Quest.  It’s become hard for me to concentrate without my headphones on.

What are you currently reading?  I recently read “Winning” by Jack and Suzy Welch, really liked it.

What’s your sleep routine like?  I like to get in bed before 10pm, then settle in and watch Baseball Tonight on ESPN.  Baseball is one of my passions, having played and followed it since I was a kid.  It calms me down and helps me relax, kind of a happy place before I close my eyes.  The alarm clock goes off at 5am- coffee first, then make the kids’ lunches, do a T25 workout, then dress and bring the kids to school- am I’m back at my desk by 8am.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?  Two-way tie.  First, a colleague once told me that if that things at home and with family are good, everything else pretty much sorts itself out.  Second is the concept of your ecosystem- friends, family, work colleagues and acquaintances.  Find out who you are to each of these groups and how you can provide value to them.  Then, be proactive in doing so.

Anything else you want to add?  Nah, that’s a lot :)

Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see ________ answer these questions.  Pharrell and Elon Musk.  Two guys constantly producing great creative product with consistent, elegant brand management.  Would love to hear more of their secrets.

Your prospect’s assistant is an ally, not an obstacle

gatekeeperIn most sales situations, if you’re treating the administrative assistant who supports the decision-maker as a gatekeeper, you’re introducing unnecessary friction into your sales process.  You may actually lengthen your sales process, and decrease your chances of winning the deal.

If you’re thinking about the assistant as gatekeeper, you’re going about it all wrong.  That assistant is an extension of their boss.  They are intimately familiar with the organizations priorities, and their boss’s priorities.  They also know the organizational and external challenges that exist as roadblocks to achieving results.

That assistant may be able to articulate the organizations challenges and needs more precisely than the decision-maker herself.

What’s more, that assistant stands to gain quite a bit if their boss succeeds.  The assistant’s own success, recognition, raise and promotion is directly tied to their boss’s success.

And the icing on the cake?  The assistant will pick up the phone.  They’ll more likely answer their email.   And they’re so used to having salespeople try to get around them, that if you take the time to address them directly – they’ll likely give you all the time you want and need.

Use that time not just to gain insights into the selling environment, but to convert the assistant into an ally.  There’s no reason the assistant can’t become the antithesis of the stereotypical gatekeeper.

Think of them not as an obstacle to the decision-maker, but as a catalyst to getting your deal done.

Are you data driven or results driven?

resultsdrivenThey can be the same, but too often they’re different.

Your scorecard might be full of numbers, but they might not really matter.  If the numbers you’re measuring don’t relate to results, you might be measuring (and executing) in a vacuum with minimal to no business value.

It’s worth asking the question of everything you’re measuring, across both sales & marketing.

How does this metric impact revenue?  How and where does it lead to helping the organization make money?

Many of your metrics might have indirect lines to sales or revenue, and that’s fine.  But if you can’t draw even a clean indirect line, you might question whether the metric makes sense, and the activities behind it are still worth prioritizing.

How to create high-value, joint-partnership messages

Jeanne ChaseBy Jeanne Tiscareno, Chase Marketing Company

Business partnerships are critical to any organization’s success, but communicating the value of that partnership in ways that attract and retain mutual customers takes a special knack. Each partner typically has its own communication culture and marketing agenda, and has equal (and sometimes conflicting) input on how best to talk to a customer. It’s no wonder that partner messaging can get so diluted and mundane that it fails to create customer stickiness for either company. Our team recently helped two major software companies create unified, compelling customer messages that reflected the partners’ joint strengths and advantages. Here are the lessons we learned.

Create a truly unique joint value.

To avoid “me-too” and cliché messages, ask yourself: Why are we partnering in the first place? What does our partnership offer that each partner can’t provide individually?

There has to be more to the partnership than what it means to your business goals. Rather, the partnership must bring something unique to the table, and your messaging framework must reflect that uniqueness to the customer.

Your writer/marketer team can help you zero in on the top value points. Run the messaging through a two-part litmus test. First, does it state each partner’s contribution? And second, is it presented from the customer’s point of view?

Create a common voice for the partner message.

Two unique partners will seldom have the same corporate voice, so it’s important to focus on creating a common voice from the outset.

The more distinct each company’s culture and communication voice, the more time and effort it will take to create blended messages. Think of it as a marriage. You’re not giving up your company’s individuality as much as you are focusing on your combined strengths — and in the process, compromising a bit and leaving your egos behind.

In our clients’ case, one partner’s voice was very personable and approachable (using “we” and “you” and a friendly tone), while the other’s voice was more formal and distancing (using “the company” and “customers” and a businesslike tone). As a neutral team, our role was to expose the differences between the two groups and set a common tone that could serve them both.

Fairly balance each partner’s contribution.

This goes back to the idea of looking at the partnership from the customer’s perspective. Your message needs to focus on the value to them, not to you. An effective messaging framework will show a balanced view of each partner’s contribution and how the customer can achieve what the partnership is promising.

One idea is to incorporate joint storytelling. This can be as simple as showing a customer’s experience with your combined product or service. Or you may need to find out how a mutual customer’s life is better now that they are implementing the joint solution.

Bring the right team together — early.

Each company’s marketing group knows their own offering, but leaving them to grapple over a unified partner message without the help of an external writer/marketer team often leads to rework, wasted time, and wasted resources.

A neutral team that includes a skilled writer and communication strategist can help minimize the tug-of-war between two corporate cultures and fuse two distinct marketing messages into a joint unique selling proposition for the customer. We recommend engaging this team from Day One. If you bring them in much later, they’ll have to spend additional time trying to fix conflicting content, smoothing ruffled feathers, and sifting through a collection of usually disjointed (but well-intentioned) messaging to find the common threads.

Avoid writing by committee.

We’ve all been there. Internal teams get so excited about their ideas and possibilities, and everyone is eager to contribute. But why do you think the phrase “too many cooks spoil the pot” is so popular?

Writing by committee leads to wordy, watered-down messages that lack clarity, have little cohesion, and are rife with hackneyed terms (“TCO,” “robust,” and “empowered” come to mind).

A hired writer can bring a fresh point of view and lead the way to elegantly crafted messages that blend input from both sides and yield the best joint messages and storyline.

Utilize your third party as a “tie-breaker.”

Despite your best efforts to manage the partnership, impasses will happen any time you have two distinct partners with strong cultures. This is where your neutral team becomes critical. Use your writer/marketer as a broker in this process. Their external, non-biased view can help expose reasons why one approach is better than another, or point you toward a compromise in wording or messaging that perfectly captures your customer value in ways neither of you may have thought of before.

All these lessons combined are a sound set of practices for creating joint marketing messages that really mean, and say, something to your readers. Focus on what the partnership — not the individual companies — bring to the customer, and hire a skilled third-party team to navigate you through the process. When you engage this team early in the process, they can be an invaluable aid in helping your two businesses achieve success together.

Jeanne is a Principal of Chase Marketing Company, a marketing services firm focusing on technology, healthcare and philanthropy. You can reach Jeanne at jeanne@chase-marketing.com or 206-799-2746.

Matt’s App of the Week: QuotaDeck

appoftheweek-300x284This is the latest in a series of weekend posts highlighting a wide variety of applications we think are pretty cool. Most have to do with sales, marketing and productivity. Check out past featured apps here.

It’s like referrals on steroids, frankly.  Imagine being able to tap the networks of anybody out there that already has a relationship with your dream client.  That’s the potential inherent in QuotaDeck.

I say potential because this product is still very much in beta, but I’m highlighting it here to help them generate more momentum and early participants because I’m bullish on the model.

Basically, it’s a marketplace of companies looking for warm leads, and individuals who have leverage with those same warm leads.  There’s an implied level of trust that has to exist between all parties, especially from the individuals putting their reputations on the line with companies they may or may not know.  Key to making this work is that the interested company offers not a sales pitch but something of value (a best practice guide or other value-added content) as a means of making the introduction and starting the conversation.

In most cases, the right person at the right company (regardless of immediate need or interest) is still a very good lead, especially for long sales cycle and enterprise accounts.  In that context, I think QuotaDeck is really onto something and could be a significant disinter-mediator for other pay-per-lead services.

Worth a look.

B2B Reads: leadership, accountability & Frank Lloyd Wright

best-blogsIn addition to our Sunday App of the Week feature, we also summarize some of our favorite B2B sales & marketing posts from around the Web each week. We’ll miss a ton of great stuff, so if you found something you think is worth sharing please add it to the comments below.

In the meantime, here’s some of what we’re reading:

How to gather 100,000 emails in one week (includes successful templates, code, everything you need)
The title of this post alone should catch your attention. When was the last time you caught 100,000 email addresses in one week? Check out how this brand made that happen. Very interesting from Tim Ferriss.

Conversion copywriting: words & phrases that make people click [infographic]
The amount of social posts entering our social feeds on every platform each hour is a crazy amount of posts. Same with the number of blog posts and the number of search results returned for each question we ask. How do we catch our readers’ attention then? Great article from Lindsay Kolowich.

12 best slideshares of 2014 (so far)
This year, there has been a massive increase in the use of Slideshare when creating presentations. It’s a great tool to make presentations, but while some are great at catching people’s attention, others can be downright dreary. Fun stuff from Michael Brenner.

The cold email template that got 16 new B2B customers
Are you getting under a 10% response rate from your cold emails? You need to spice things up. Here is a great tip to try out the next time you’re sending out a cold email to get more responses. Great post from Heather Morgan.

How internal entrepreneurs can deal with friendly fire
It is harder for big organizations to adapt to change and innovation because of the way the companies are used to running. How can you manage your innovative ideas while the companies are catching up? Great stuff from Len Schlesinger and Charlie Kiefer.

What digital marketers can learn from Frank Lloyd Wright
Digital marketers are like architects in a way. You have to design a data capture process that is aesthetically pleasing but also works with simplicity and utility. Great article by Drew Prante.

Interviews with the experts: inbound sales tips for closing leads
The sales and marketing landscape has changed a lot over the last 10-15 years. With potential customers’ reliance on the Internet, inbound sales leads can offer great advantages for you. Good stuff from Erica Campbell.

The leadership playbook: relentless accountability
All leaders have different values and different tactics for leading their company and team in the right direction. Check out how the CEO of Chase keeps his company, team and himself focused in the right direction. Awesome insight from Anthony Iannarino.

9 content curation ideas for bulking up your editorial calendar
Content curation is a hot topic for 2014. Content marketing has always been a hot topic, but the idea of content curation has really taken off. Are you creating and finding the right content for your audience? Great article by Heidi Cohen.

What are the best B2B lead sources to fill the top of your funnel?

Jonathan BeatonGuest Post by:  Jonathan Beaton, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at the NYC based tech startup, Organic Motion

There are a million blog posts and comment threads discussing which channels are the most effective when it comes to lead generation and new customer acquisition. This results in many arbitrary discussions that lack the proper context for any meaningful dialogue to occur about choosing the right lead generation tactics to grow/scale sales and marketing.

In my experience, there are many factors that have a much heavier influence on the overall effectiveness of a particular lead source (as opposed to the lead source itself). For example, the characteristics of the specific markets you are attacking play a significant role when it comes to predicting the best marketing channels. Additionally, many people overlook the fact that there are huge fundamental differences between a product and a service company that greatly influence the role of marketing when it comes to new customer acquisition.

Rather than shouting about how one particular lead source is better than another, I am going to do my best to overview the major lead sources and speak to when they tend to work best and when they do not. Keep in mind, I am specifically commenting on these sources’ ability to generate leads and fill the top of the funnel. A well rounded marketing strategy involves an integrated approach and considers branding as well as lead generation.

Inbound Marketing/Content Marketing/Social Media/SEO

When it works -

This is a particularly hyped marketing channel at the moment but in many cases justifiably so. If you are a technology provider going after a large market that is actively searching for a solution to a problem you solve – inbound marketing is fantastic. The marketing automation software market is a great example of this. Thousands upon thousands of marketers are actively searching each day for ways to improve and track marketing performance. Companies such as Marketo and HubSpot went to work creating educational content on how their technology (marketing automation software) can play a significant role in this process. Marketers bought in and a whole new market was born.

When it doesn’t -

Creating useful and educational content is useful 100% of the time. However, marketing that content to a narrow market will not do much to fill the top end of the funnel as it does in the example I used above. Markets that are very small/narrow are hard to attack using just inbound marketing. There are simply not enough prospects actively searching, sharing and/or consuming information to actively engage. At my existing company, Organic Motion, market research determined our product to be a great fit at large game development  studios. We also were determined that the best entry point at these companies was the Director of Animation. This information greatly limited my potential market to around 50 different individuals. Inbound marketing can still be used to create a buzz and get the word out within the industry itself, but I certainly could not sit back and expect those 50 animation directors to come find us.

Search Marketing – PPC and SEO

When it works -

Search traffic can do wonders when it comes to filling the top of the funnel. These leads are active and often are already in an active buying process. However, search marketing works best when a significant volume of prospects are actively searching for an already-defined solution. Therefore, if the market you are going after is of reasonable size and most likely already aware of your product or service category, then the search volume for the main keywords is usually rather significant. For instance, if 10,000 people a month are searching for “marketing wizardry” then you can expect a significant lead volume from that particular keyword.

AdWords – 10,000 Search Volume X 3% CTR X 10% Conv. Rate = 30 Leads/Month


SEO, Top 5 Organic Ranking – 10,000 Search Volume X 8% CTR X 40% CTR X 15% Conv. Rate = 48 Leads/Month

When it doesn’t -

The opposite of what I mentioned above applies here. If you are marketing a fairly unknown product or service, there will certainly not be that many people searching for it. Also, if the market you are targeting is tiny, the search volumes will be too. That being said, that is usually the BEST time to invest in SEO so that as your category gains notoriety, you will be in a great position to capitalize on it. For instance, if only 1,000 people a month are searching for “marketing wizardry” you could expect similar results to the ones demonstrated below.

AdWords – 1,000 Search Volume X 3% CTR X 10% Conv. Rate = 3 Leads/Month


Top 5 Organic Ranking – 1,000 Search volume X 8% CTR X 40% CTR X 15% Conv. Rate = 5 Leads/Month

Paid Online Advertising – Newsletters, Publications, LinkedIn, etc.

When it works -

Paid online advertising works best when your target prospects share common interests amongst each other. When this occurs, it is usually easy to identify niche publications, blogs, newsletters, etc. that have the attention of your most desired prospects. For instance, if your company develops HR software, there are plenty of publications that cater to HR professionals. These are great places to promote white papers, research studies, webinars or any other educational content to fill the top of the funnel.

When it doesn’t -

Paid online advertising falls down when you have not properly researched and defined a target market. For instance, if you are advertising within a HR publication, your product and messaging needs to be custom tailored to get the attention of the correct decision makers.

Appointment Setting/Cold Calling

When it works -

Appointment setting and cold calling can still be a very effective technique when it comes to filling the top of the funnel. Most lead sources have a ceiling when it comes to lead volume. Appointment setting tends to be one of the most costly channels but still cost effective; especially if your other channels are maxed out. Cold calling is a numbers game so for it to work effectively you need a large and well defined target market that bites on your value proposition. Understanding the demographics such as job titles, company size, etc. and matching them with the right value proposition is key to making this work.

When it doesn’t -

I mentioned in the intro that there are differences between generating leads for a service versus a product company. Generally speaking, margin/profitability is much less for service companies. Additionally, win rates on lead generation channels are usually lower at service companies then they are product companies. Service companies differentiate themselves based on their reputation and the trust they establish. Their sales lifeblood traditionally comes from referrals and word of mouth. It is very difficult for a service organization to generate enough revenue from cold calling to justify the costs associated.

The above channels are certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list but are definitely ones that can be used successfully given the right circumstances. Generating leads that turn into revenue is a very difficult thing to do. Trial and error is a big part of sales and marketing. However, I hope this list at least gets you going in the right direction.

Jonathan Beaton is the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at the NYC based tech startup, Organic Motion. He encourages you to follow him on twitter

“How I Work”: Jonathan Farrington, CEO Top Sales World

Dr. Jonathan Farrington

Dr. Jonathan Farrington – Photo courtesy of Image Exclusive Ltd

“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series, and recently several sales experts (including  Anthony IannarinoDave Brock and Trish Bertuzzi) participated as well. Periodically moving forward we will feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions.  You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.

This week I’m excited to feature Jonathan Farrington, an international sales celebrity.  Seriously.  Farrington is CEO of Top Sales World, a unique international online community dedicated exclusively to the profession of sales, drawing together the industry’s best known sales experts who provide unparalleled – and free – information in the form of how-to-guides, articles, webinars, advice, and so much more.  In his career he has personally trained, coached and mentored more than 100K frontline sales professionals and their managers.  You can visit his award winning daily blog here: The JF Blogit

Jonathan, suffice it to say, gets stuff done.  Here, in his own words, is how he works.

Location: Paris, Rouen, Cambridge, London, Toulon and Cornwall. Let me explain. Officially I live in Paris and Cambridge, with rented office space in London. I divide my time equally between those venues, but for family reasons we spend a good deal of time in Rouen. Toulon is the “summer house” but we are also currently looking for a home in Cornwall, hence the frequent month-long visits – June, September and December this year. I have created wonderful work environments in each location, all with their own identities.

Current Computer:  I made a complete switch to Apple two years ago – and I mean complete. I only wish I had had the courage to do that years earlier. So I have the full range now. My main computer is an iMac (Big Mac)

Mobile Devices:  MacBook Pro (Little Jono) MacBook Air (Tiny Jono) plus iPad and Mini iPad. Each has a specific place in my workday – as well as a ludicrous nickname. I also use an iPhone 5

What Apps, Software, Tools Can’t You Live Without? Frankly, the only app I couldn’t possibly live without is Skype, because 99.9% of all my communication is international. I was an early adopter, probably one of the first at the beginning of 2004. All of my work is backed up on two WD My Passport devices and also stored in the Cloud. Five years ago, I began converting my clients to online conferencing/meetings, and three years ago we made the full switch. Now, I only visit with them physically once a year, for reviews and planning sessions. They couldn’t be happier: However a consultant frames his/her fees, there has to be a huge element for travel and subsistence, which inevitably is passed back to the client. I have been able to pass back savings instead, and online consultancy, mentoring and training offers so much more flexibility. Frankly, anyone in a similar position who is still flying around the world and living out of a suitcase (no matter how luxurious the hotel may be – or the suitcase) is living in the past, and probably over-charging as a consequence. I enjoy working from my home office, sleeping in my own bed, with my own wife! In terms of time management and efficiency, I developed a spreadsheet 15 years ago which I am still using today. It details out priorities on a daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly and annual basis and really does keep me on the ball. Additionally, I have a beautiful leather-bound journal in which I write copious notes on a daily basis, and I have to refill it every three to four weeks. I would say that I am definitely not a “heat-seeker” when it comes to new applications, but when friends or family recommend something, I will try it out. I think I have everything I need, but I am very open-minded.

What’s Your Workspace(s) Like?   They are all different, but all fabulous, with great views – that is a pre-requisite. In Paris we are fortunate enough to overlook one of the most beautiful parks in the city – Parc Monceau. In Rouen, we live in a small hamlet high up on “Le Plateau” overlooking the city to our right, and to our left, views of the Seine as it meanders its way towards Paris. In Cambridge, we have magnificent views across the “spires” and down below is the famous Parker’s Piece green. In Toulon, the house backs on to vineyards and my study overlooks a stunning valley. If we buy the house we are chasing in Cornwall, which we have already rented twice, my office overlooks the river, and I can fully participate in river life, visually, every day. My studies are all individually furnished to match the style of the house, from oak-panelled book cases, to very modern and minimalistic furniture. Each has it’s own identity, but all share one important feature – comfort!

What’s Your Best Time-Saving Shortcut/Life Hack?   Delegation: I have a fantastic small team, who between them cover all the bases, and as a consequence we outsource nothing at all. For the past 7 years, I have divided my time more or less equally between my consultancy – JFA – and the Top Sales World project, which just keeps growing and developing. However, I have slowly been reducing my consultancy assignments and planning some brand new projects, which I will begin work on in 2015, with a few good chums! Top Sales World will have a new CEO in place, by the start of next year, freeing me to move upstairs and take a less hands-on role as Chairman. I will still have full responsibility for special events, such as the conferences, Awards, Academy, etc. and I will also manage the Partner/Sponsor relationships. My passion – apart from my work, which actually is a mission – is sport. I need to draw a differentiation between fitness fanatics/snobs, and sport. I play sport for fun, I love it, and it just so happens to keep me fit. I don’t need ludicrous gadgets strapped to my body to tell me how fast my heart is beating or how far I have walked, or even how many calories I have burned that day . I know my own body, we have been close for more than sixty years! And if my body has a lapse of concentration, even momentarily, and fails to alert me, my GP will no doubt flag it up when we get together annually to celebrate my incredible fitness J Finally, I must add that I think fitness is a personal matter – rather like religion -– and we each understand what we need to do if we wish to live longer with sustained good health. Idiots claiming to bench-press the equivalent of five trucks, or people who claim to cycle miles and miles during their lunch hours, really do have a problem.

What Everyday Thing Are You Better Than Everyone Else?   Absolutely nothing at all! I truly believe that however good we think are at anything, there are thousands, hundreds of thousands and maybe even millions who are better than us. It should be our on-going mission in life to seek those people out and to continue our education. The day we stop learning and improving we may as well pack up and go home.

What Do You Listen To While You Work?   I only listen to music when I relax. My music tastes really are eclectic, from Puccini to Hendrix. After all, I am a child of the sixties, overwhelmed by such an array of talented musicians and singer/songwriters. Before that, my mother ensured that there was every opportunity to help her indulge her passion for classical music. I learned to play guitar and piano at school, and I played in a couple of absolutely awful bands in my late teens. My vinyl and CD collection is vast, but since becoming one of the earliest Spotify adopters, I use it all the time.

What Are You Currently Reading: I am supposed to know Elizabethan literature inside out, but even Shakespeare bores me these days; I suppose I have over-dosed. Currently, I am re-visiting some of the authors that I was force-fed in my early teens to discover if they are now more palatable: Somerset Maughan, H.E Bates, Dylan Thomas, Thomas Hardy etc. and so far, I have been pleasantly surprised. I read very few sales-related books, but I do read lots of articles and white papers. Only two books this year have remotely excited me:  “Changing the Sales Conversation” by Linda Richardson and of course, “Agile Selling” by Jill Konrath. That is not to suggest that I haven’t read lots in the past; in fact, many of my favorites are featured in Top Sales World’s “Top 50 Best Summer Reads”

What’s Your Sleep Routine: Always asleep by 1.00am, after spending two hours in “contemplation” with a large armganac. It is one of my favourite times of the day – my “thinking and creating time.” After that, no need for reading and I am out like a light. I only ever need six hours sleep, so am up and working by 7.00am.

What’s The Best Advice You’ve Ever Received? Never go back! It was sound advice from one of my closest mentors. And he was right – nothing is ever as we remember it. Like those balmy summer days when we were young, did it ever rain? Of course it did, but we choose only to remember happy times, and so we should. I believe that what comes next is always better, if we choose to make it so – if we can discard all the hurt and the pain and the poor results from the past. But, we have to be prepared to let it all go.

Fill In The Blank: I’d love to see Tamara Schenk and Barb Giamanco  answer these questions. Great girls who are absolute global “rock stars” in their fields.

Special thanks to Image Exclusive Ltd for Jonathan’s photo

Best Advice Ever from B2B Sales & Marketing & Business Leaders who are Getting Things Done

Post by Sheena McKinney, Executive Assistant to President, Matt Heinz.

We can learn a lot from top business leaders– Especially the ones who are getting things done.  It’s safe to say they would all tell you they didn’t get where they are on their own, and as all good leaders do, they give credit where credit is due.

Since Matt kicked off our every Thursday “How I Work” Series less than a year ago, he’s asked 28 business leaders (so far) what have become the standard dozen or so “How I Work” questions (Modeled after one of his favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series).

Gleaned for you here (in the order they appeared) are the answers to “What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?”.  The answers (and the sources) may surprise you.  To see the answers to all the questions from all 28 business leaders, click  here.

Best Advice Ever

Jonathan FarringtonSenior Partner - Jonathan Farrington & Associates (Sneak Peek!  See Jonathan’s full post this coming Thursday)
Never go back! It was sound advice from one of my closest mentors. And he was right – nothing is ever as we remember it. Like those balmy summer days when we were young, did it ever rain? Of course it did, but we choose only to remember happy times, and so we should. I believe that what comes next is always better, if we choose to make it so – if we can discard all the hurt and the pain and the poor results from the past. But, we have to be prepared to let it all go.

Allen Gannett, CEO - TrackMaven
Care Less about the short-term

Marshall Kirkpatrick
, CEO – Littlebird
Trust your own judgement

Rebecca LovellStartup Liaison - City of Seattle
No matter how busy you are, don’t skip the 45 minute workout in the morning– the days you’re busiest are the days you need it most (from my mentor in grad school, Phyllis Campbell, then CEO of the Seattle Foundation, now Vice Chair of JPMC)

David Niu, Founder – TINYhr
So many to choose one. But one of my favorites is, “If you won the lottery, would you still be doing what you’re doing?” If not, then it may be an opportunity to reflect and focus your energies on your passions. At the end of the day, the #1 regret in life is not having the courage to live your own life because you always led the life that others expected of you.

Amanda Kahlow, Founder – 6Sense Inc.
Here are a few of my favorite bits of wisdom that have been imparted to me:
• Nothing is permanent.
• Life is about the journey, not the destination.
• You control what happens to you! You are your thoughts, so think positive thoughts.

Liz Pearce, CEO – LiquidPlanner
Feed the eagles, starve the turkeys

Ken Kroque, Founder – InsideSales.com
The best advice I ever received was to stay at one job for at least five years and sink down roots—don’t be a butterfly.  You don’t grow fast enough.  That’s in the business world.

Mike Volpe, CMO – Hubspot
Hiring is the most important thing you do. The founder of the company I worked at before HubSpot said this often, but it took me a while to really understand how true it was. Now, having grown the HubSpot marketing team from 0 to 75 people, I know how important hiring is. The ramifications of that advice are the important thing – you should spend a lot of your time sourcing candidates and interviewing and background checking, and you should teach those skills to your managers and make them part of your criteria for promotion. Never promote someone to a senior role without proof they can hire well.

Tony Jaros, Chief Research Officer – SiriusDecisons
Just because you’re correct in a given situation doesn’t mean you’re right. My dad once said that to me, and it’s taken more than 40 years for it to begin to sink in.

Gerhard Gschwandtner, Publisher – Selling Power Magazine
Zig Ziglar once told me during an interview, “Success is not measured by what you have done compared to others, but compared to what you’re capable of doing.” And Tony Robbins shared with me, “Everything you need to succeed is within us now.” Every day I try to connect with my inner Google.

Jesse Noyes, Sr. Director of Content Marketing – Kapost
“Don’t compare yourself to others. They’ll either be better than you or worse. Either way, you’re disappointed.” That was from my dad. Probably the best advice I could give anyone.

Gregg Greene, Sr. Director of Marketing – Seattle Mariners
Tom Brokaw provided a great pearl during his commencement speech at the UW back in ’95:  “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s hard to make a difference.”

Amy Bohutinsky, CMO – Zillow
Spencer Rascoff (Zillow CEO) always says, “hire better than you.” Zillow’s marketing team is now over 70 people – and I would have never been able to do some of the things we’ve done without chucking the ego and finding people who are smarter, faster and more creative than I am. My job is to now empower and enable them to do their best work.

Joe Chernov, VP of Content – Hubspot
It sort of depends on the circumstance, but I recently found myself telling my son advice my father gave me when I quit wrestling: “Quitting is a slippery slope. You’ll be shocked at how easy it becomes once you start.”

David Spark, Founder - Spark Media Solutions
Always do an assignment right away. Don’t wait and do it at the last minute. That way you’ll be available when the next project comes up.

Doug Kessler, Co-Founder – Velocity Partners
“Don’t be such a sarcastic asshole.” by my best mate, Rex.  We were eighteen.  He was right.

Meagen EisenbergVP of Demand Generation – DocuSign
Happiness is wanting what you have.  And do whatever job you do to the best of your abilities – whether you are a nanny, waitress, tutor, teacher, life guard, IT engineer or Marketing exec – which I have been all of.

Ardath Albee, CEO – Marketing Interactions
“Whatever you do, do it right or don’t bother.”  My dad told me this when I was 12. I’ve always tried to live up to it.

DJ WaldowDigital Marketing Evangelist – Marketo
This too shall pass

Mike Damphousse, CEO/CMO – Green Leads
Always be optimistic. Almost to the extreme. It allows you to deal with the tough issues with a better attitude.

Dan Waldschmidt, Author – Edgy Conversations
My dad told a long time ago: “Just because other people tell you you can’t do something doesn’t mean it’s true.” We pretty much do what we want.

Jason MillerSenior Content Marketing Manager – LinkedIn
I will give you two:  1. “Why don’t you start a blog?” – My wife circa 2009 2. “Bring solutions, not problems” -Maria Pergolino during my first few weeks at Marketo years ago

Craig Rosenberg, Co-Founder, TOPO, Author of Funnelholic
Always keep your eye on the “nut of your job”. There will be distractions like meetings, etc and frankly things you would rather do like reading a blog post, etc that you can justify as being part of your professional life. But, at the end of the day, you have to understand the nut of your job, e.g. what you are expected to do, and make absolutely sure you deliver on it. Then tell everyone you delivered on it.

Joe Pulizzi, Founder – Content Marketing Institute
If you try something and fail, you are vastly better off than if you had tried nothing and succeeded. (back of a sugar packet I found when I was 6 years old).

John Cook, Co-Founder – Geekwire
Golazo and Cranium founder Richard Tait: “If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.”  Roger Cook (my dad): “Don’t do anything stupid.”  Venture Capitalist: Tom Huseby: “You hang around long enough, you will probably have a win.”

Carlos Hidalgo, CEO – The Annuitas Group
One of my best friends and mentors who I once worked for said “don’t be afraid to disappoint someone daily.”  When he first told me this I laughed and didn’t realize he was serious.  He went onto explain that if you are worried about disappointing people, you won’t accomplish much.  The message was make the right decisions based on the information you have and move on.  If in the end, it was the wrong decision, learn from it and move on.  His entire message was as a leader you cannot base your decision making on how upset or pleased.

Matt Heinz, President – Heinz Marketing
Life is short, work with people you enjoy.  That and relationships are at the heart of everything.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Sales productivity 101: Q&A with Elay Cohen of Saleshood

saleshoodWith a best-selling book and fast-growing business all focused on sales productivity, Elay Cohen has a lot to share and some important insights to help sales organizations increase efficiency and results.  I highly recommend checking out the book (Saleshood: How Winning Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed)  or his site at www.Saleshood.com.

I recently had a chance to sit down with Elay to talk more about sales productivity, common obstacles to success, and what’s next for helping sales organizations increase active selling time.

How do you define and measure sales productivity?  What does that really mean to you, and what should it mean for world-class sales organizations?

I know now more than ever, sales productivity is a CEO’s #1 priority. CEOs I work with define it as improving the ramp, velocity, and consistency of sales team performance. It’s measured across three dimensions: Activity, pipeline, and revenue by rep and by sales manager.

  • Activities are measured by calls, emails, and connections.
  • Pipeline is measured by new pipeline and total pipeline as a ratio of revenue targets.
  • Revenue (also called bookings in the SaaS world) is total revenue contribution calculated monthly, quarterly, or annually. Revenue levers also include win rates and sales cycle time

A world class, high performing sales organization will also measure distribution of quota attainment across a sales team as a measure of the health of the sales organization and sales management.

What are the most important attributes of a successful sales manager today? How has that changed in the last 5-10 years?

  • Successful sales managers are true entrepreneurs.
  • They own recruitment, enablement, pipeline, revenue, and customer success.
  • They are metrics driven.
  • They are great coaches too.
  • They are mayors of our corporations.
  • They make it happen.

I am seeing a shift. Winning sales managers have another set of skills.

  • They are great communicators.
  • They listen.
  • They motivate.
  • They facilitate conversation and best practice sharing.
  • They give everyone a voice and they teach their teams to mentor each other.

The most successful sales mangers are measured not just on their overall attainment; they are also measured by the percentage of their team that has exceeded their revenue goals.

How important are tools vs. process in driving sales productivity?  Does one come before the other?

I love this question. The answer is rooted in a concept I’m hearing more these days, which is about being human. I believe tools and technology are a very important part of the sales productivity equation.   At the core though, there needs to be values that are defined and shared. Storytelling is a process and cultural foundation that precedes technology as well.  I meet so many sales teams and startups that expect answers to their sales productivity questions to come in the form of technology like Salesforce.com. The tools are incredible once you have a defined sales process and go to market.  Just last week, I was speaking with a group of sales professionals and I encouraged the room to be human, reminding everyone to pick up the phone more and even write thank you notes.  Someone followed up my statement with a question asking “How can they do calls if they don’t have office phones?”.  I believe we’re getting a bit lost in the technology and we’re going to see a “back to basics” movement in sales.

What is marketing’s role in driving sales productivity materially (and profitably) in B2B sales organizations today?

When marketers listen to what their sales teams need and deliver tools and templates that are consumable and actionable, amazing things happen. Marketing can’t work in a vacuum. The best product marketers are the ones that can turn proven sales activity into repeatable sales programs.  I’ve seen many hyper growth organizations here in Silicon Valley skyrocket when marketing leadership is at the pulse of what sales does and needs.

Why does most sales training fail, and how did you make it “stick” at Salesforce.com?  

There are many secrets to making sales training work. First, embrace the idea that sales training is an ongoing activity and not an event. Second, make sales training actionable and immediately usable. Third, align sales training with go to market and make it local.

What’s the elevator pitch for Saleshood?  How is this platform driving productivity gains for sales teams nationwide already?

SalesHood is a SaaS sales productivity platform already being used by many companies and thousands of sales professionals. We help sales teams work together to ramp faster, improve forecast accuracy, and be on message.  We’re seeing ramp time improve by 50%, quota attainment jump from 30% to 70% across teams, and we’re seeing entire sales organizations getting on message in less than 30 days. We’re delivering value to sales professionals, sales managers, and marketers. We’re having fun reinventing the discipline of sales productivity.

How has having a book helped drive awareness and sales pipeline for the business? Would you recommend writing a book to other entrepreneurs and business leaders?

The feedback on the book is beyond my wildest dreams and very humbling. The book is a great way to evangelize and demonstrate the principles of sales manager empowerment, storytelling, and ongoing learning in action. Having a book is the ultimate in thought leadership. I would recommend to every CEO and founder to organize one’s ideas in a book or at least maintain an active blog.  I’d be happy to share my writing experience with anyone who is attempting to join the ranks of authorship.