On Golden Nuggets And Silver Bullets

If I had a dollar for every sales rep, sales manager, sales executive, entrepreneur, CEO and business owner who told me he or she was always on the lookout for “that elusive golden nugget of insight” or “silver bullet to solve a problem” I could buy a majority share in Apple, Microsoft and Google along lunch for you & me at a really nice place.

The utter dumbness of thinking there’s a simple answer to any challenging business issue never ceases to amaze me.  That said, decision makers – bombarded with decisions to be made – will cling to, yearn for and hope to find that nugget/bullet.

Cool!

It’s dumb, but it’s good for us sales pros.  The essence of our job is to articulate the complex in simple, understandable, implementable terms.  Supposedly, that’s our gift.  That’s our value to the business world.  We need to sift through, combine, homogenize and simplify.

We need to internalize (paradoxically) the following nugget/bullet from Oliver Wendall Holmes:  “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

Got it?  Get it?  Good!

The 3 Facets of E-Rep

One way to get your brain wrapped around the E-Rep concept is to consider its three main aspects.

  • Lurk & Learn
    • Objective: Continuously enhance personal skills, knowledge and understanding
    • Tools: RSS reader, Google Alerts, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, podcasts, FaceBook
    • Actions: Read, read, read, watch, watch, watch, listen, listen, listen, absorb, absorb, absorb, think, think, think about it
  • Harvest, Share & Attract
    • Objective: Demonstrate personal & organizational expertise to gain attention of prospects and customers
    • Tools: Video Camera, Blogs, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter, YouTube, podcasts, FaceBook
    • Actions:
      • Actively comment in others’ blogs and groups
      • Record personal knowledge (all of it!) in an electronic format (text, image, audio, video) then edit and publish (all of it!)
      • Continuously record knowledge of colleagues, subject matter experts, customers, etc., then edit and publish
  • Collaborate & Create
    • Objective: Generate new knowledge that when applied, can make and/or save money for customers
    • Tools: Blogs, wikis, groups, web conferences, good old face-to-face meetings
    • Actions:
      • Set project objectives
      • Identify collaborators
      • Define roles and responsibilities
      • Develop action plan and time-line
      • Execute!
      • Apply
      • Measure results

The three main facets, provide a solid conceptual foundation for creating and developing your E-Rep.  Over time as familiarity and comfort level increases, additional objectives, tools and actions will come into play.  For now, get busy!

If You’re Going To Lose, Lose Quickly!

Doesn’t it always seem like it takes more time to lose an opportunity than it does to win one?  Well, based on a whole lot of empirical data I’ve collected over the years that instinct is true.  In company after company, industry after industry, 2.1 seems to be the ratio.

That doesn’t necessarily mean twice as much time is invested in the losing efforts.  It does, however, mean that loser opportunities are cluttering up the funnel, getting in the way and wastefully burning up sales rep time, attention and brain cycles.

If you’re going to lose, lose quickly!

Try this Opportunity Assessment tool using these steps: (Right click the link and “save target as” or “save link as”)

  • Customize the questions to better reflect your industry (If you wind up with more or less than 35 questions, you’ll need to change the formula in cell E59.)
  • For the next 90-120 days, complete the Opportunity Assessment for every proposal you deliver
  • Keep track of the scores and the number of winners and losers

At this point, you’ll have a pretty good feel for the score that will break the “win barrier.”  Next start completing the assessment for every opportunity as it exits each stage of your sales process.  Over time you’ll gain a very clear understanding of what will win and what will lose.  You’ll have a hard-nosed, empirical basis for making the “fish or cut bait” decisions.

Resist the temptation to reject an opportunity based solely on its score!  Use the data as a guideline for asking the tough questions.  It’s still critical to apply the business judgment of the sales rep and sometimes pursue a low odds deal for strategic reasons.

The assessment is also an excellent tool when used as a checklist.  Think like the guy in charge of a rocket launch.  When putting together your action plan to pursue an opportunity, make sure you address each item.

Use the tool.  Collect the data. You’ll dump the turkeys faster, have more time to chase the winners and jack up your revenue growth rate.

E-Rep: Do You Have One?

It’s no secret that yours truly believes that every “H-Rep” needs an “E-Rep.”  Your electronic alter-ego helps deliver not only your value proposition, but more importantly real, tangible value in terms of information, knowledge and insight.  He/She/It is also on duty 24 X 7 X 365!

So what portions of an E-Rep do you have implemented? Here’s what I have:

  • Web site (of course…)
  • E-mail (of course…)
  • E-Newsletter (2 X per month)
  • Podcast (2 episodes per month)
  • E-Book (2 of them – on web site here, here & here, Google Books & Amazon for Kindle here & here)
  • YouTube Channel
  • Blog (with RSS feed and additional syndication via LinkedIn, Customer Think & FaceBook)
  • Multiple guest posts on multiple blogs along with lots and lots of comments
  • LinkedIn presence (profile, blog, active in multiple groups)
  • Twitter presence (Tweets limited to providing links to what I consider to be valuable content)
  • FaceBook company fan page (at the moment includes
  • Google Profile

What else could/should be on the list?  How much time should an H-rep invest in developing and maintaining a E-Rep?  (I invest approx. 1 hour per day.)  Are you committed to implementing an E-Rep yourself?