Friday, November 19, 2010

Effective Selling - Thought 1

There are lots of character traits and habits/behaviors that contribute to being a good Account Manager, but in this day and age there is one simple thing that all salespeople, regardless of talent, can do to separate themselves from the large majority of their competition: they can do what they say they're going to do.

We have been conditioned to almost expect people to not do what they say they are going to do, so when people actually do follow through on their commitments, when they actually do follow-up when they said they would follow-up, when they actually do complete the big -- and little -- tasks they said they would complete coming out of a meeting, it is like a refreshing surprise.

If I was a whiny, grumpy old man I could dedicate the next couple of paragraphs to shaking my fists at the world and asking "Why? Why has the bar been set so low? What is the world coming to? This isn't right!!!"

But I won't. Why would I? If I do what I say I'm going to do, and all the people on the Varrow sales team do what they say they're going to do, we will continue to surprise and please our customers without doing any more than we would expect of ourselves anyways. 

If this is the baseline from which we start, and then when we do all of the other things that go into being great account managers, we go from being a refreshing surprise to a truly valued and trusted business partner and friend.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jimmy V

One of the guys on the team is an NC State alum. He sent me a link today to Jimmy Valvano's classic speech at the Espy awards, less than 2 months before he died of cancer. What an inspiration Jimmy V was, and what a great guy. You can't help but love him. Enjoy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fun w/ VCE

Life is too short to take yourself too seriously. "Integrity" and "excellence" are two words that come to mind when I think of the people I work with at Varrow, but "fun" is definitely another one.

If you look at it on paper, there never really is time to have fun at work. You can do a cost/benefit analysis and justify not having fun every time. "Well the return on "fun" simply does not justify the investment. Now, where are those TPC reports?"

The team at Varrow is the hardest working group of people I know, but some folks got together earlier this week and made the investment in fun. Here is what came out of it:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Should we sign Randy Moss?

Randy Moss is one of the most talented wide receivers in the league. He had 1,264 receiving yards last year and is 2nd all-time in receiving touchdowns. He was recently traded by the Patriots for a 3rd round draft pick, then dropped by the Vikings 4 games later, and was just picked up today by the Tennessee Titans after almost every other team in the NFL passed on the opportunity to add him to their team. Moss is considered a selfish player with a bad attitude - he gets individual results, but the negative impact to the team is considered too detrimental by many to justify bringing him on board.

There is really no great reason why I am including this video other than the fact that I like it. Cool compilation of various Moss quotes set to music.

I am currently reading a book a friend of mine at EMC recommended titled "Delivering Happiness," written by the CEO of, Tony Hsieh.

Zappos arguably has the best customer service in the world and is one of Fortune's Best Places to Work. They have gone from $0 to over $1b in revenue in less than 10 years.

The top priority at Zappos is their culture. Hsieh talks a lot about his hiring practices and the cost of making bad ones - he estimates bad hires have cost Zappos over $100m. A big part of the entire hiring process is identifying how the candidate would contribute to the culture of the company. They have passed on many a candidate who would have had a significant positive impact on the performance of the company, but were deemed too risky in terms of the possible negative impact to the company culture.

In this day and age, your company culture is your brand. Gone are the Madmen days when a company could spend a million dollars with some high-priced advertising firm to create a brand. Every person at your company is a walking, talking, blogging, tweeting, facebooking representation of your company and its brand. Companies can't hide behind some glossy well-funded advertising campaign. This is a good thing of course.

So, when considering bringing on the next rock star, dig in on how the person would contribute to your culture. Do they embody the brand you are trying to build or have already built? If not, pass, no matter how enticing they look on paper.

Find below an interview with Tony Hsieh for more on Zappos hiring practices and their general approach.