Friday, August 31, 2012

10 Tricks for a Fabulous Workday

It takes just as much effort to have a wonderful day as it does to have a miserable one. Why not enjoy yourself?

Want to have the best workday ever?  Day after day?  It's not as difficult as you think.
These 10 tweaks to your everyday behavior will virtually guarantee you a day that's not just enjoyable but allows you to get more done than you ever thought possible.

1. Start with 15 minutes of positive input.
It's easier to achieve and maintain a positive attitude if you have a "library" of positive thoughts in your head, so you can draw upon them if the day doesn't go exactly as you'd prefer. Start each day by reading (or listening to) an inspirational book to ensure that you have just such a resource at hand.

2. Tie your work to your life's goals.
Always remember that there's a deeper reason why you go to work and why you chose your current role. Maybe it's to support your family, to change the world in some way, to help your customers, to make a difference: Whatever the deeper motivation, remind yourself that this workday--today--is the opportunity to accomplish part of that deeper and more important goal.

3. Use your commute wisely.
Most people waste their commute time listening to the news or (worse, especially if they're driving) making calls, texting, or answering emails. In fact, your commute time is the perfect time to get yourself pumped up for the day, and there's no better way to do this than to listen to music that truly inspires you and gets you in the right mood. Don't depend on a DJ: Make your own mixes!

4. Stick a smile on your face.
It's likely, if you followed the first three steps, that you'll already be smiling. If not, stick a smile on your face anyway.
It doesn't matter if it feels fake: Research has shown that even the most forced of smiles genuinely reduces stress and makes you happier. Does this mean you should be grinning like the Joker in the Batman comics? Well, yes, if that's the best you can do. But something a bit more relaxed might be less alarming to co-workers.

5. Express a positive mood.
When most people are asked social greetings--questions such as "How are you?" or "What's up?"--they typically say something neutral ("I'm OK") or negative, like "Hangin' in there." That kind of talk programs your brain for failure.
Instead, if anyone inquires, say something positive and enthusiastic, like: "Fantastic!" or "I'm having a wonderful day!" It's true that there are some people whom this annoys--but these are people you should be avoiding anyway. (See No. 7, below.)

6. Do what's important first.
Everybody complains about having too much to do, but few people do anything about it. As I explained in "The Surprising Secret of Time Management," 20% of your activities are going to produce 80% of your results.  So do that 20% first, before you get to the 80% of your activities that is mostly wasted time. You'll get more done, and you'll get better results.

7. Avoid negative people.
If you've been following Steps 1 through 6, you'll probably find that the most negative people in your orbit will be avoiding you, while the positive people will want to hang out with you and help you. Though it's true you can't avoid all the Debbie Downers, you can certainly find something else to do when they start grousing about stuff they won't or can't change.

8. Don't work long hours.
Long hours are simply a bad idea. For one thing, as I have pointed out before: Long hours, after a short burst of productivity, actually make you less productive. But frankly, if you've followed Steps 1 through 7, you'll be getting so much done that you won't need to work those long hours.

9. Wind down and relax.
Once you're done with the workday, fill the remainder of your hours with nonwork-related activities that bring you joy and help you relax. The analogy of "recharge your batteries" is valid. Failing to take time to relax and stop thinking about work guarantees that you'll begin the next day with a "hangover" of resentment that will leach the joy out of what can, and should be, a positive work experience. overconcentration.

10. End your day with 15 minutes of gratitude.
As I pointed out in "The True Secret of Success," exercising your "gratitude muscle" is the best way to make certain that you experience more success. Before you go to sleep, get out a tablet (paper or electric), and record everything that happened during the day about which you are (or could be) grateful.
You'll sleep better and be ready for tomorrow--which will probably be even more fabulous than today.

But What About ...
Now, I know some of this can sound like a stretch. It may take a leap of faith to give this approach a try. But before you push back too much, let me answer some of the questions I sometimes hear.

  • What if something really horrible happens during the day? You'll be much better prepared to deal with challenges than if you were already halfway to miserable--which is how most people go through their workday.
  • What if I simply have to deal with a negative person? Tune out the negativity. Learn to shrug it off. If the negativity becomes too much of a burden, start using the extra energy you're producing to reorganize your team or (if the person is outside your company) find a different partner.
  • What if I'm too depressed to do any of this? If that's the case, you may need professional help. None of these tricks require more time and effort than making yourself miserable, however.
  • Do these tricks really work? Yes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is Your Leadership Showing?


You're the CEO of your company. But do you look and act like a leader? Here are five ways to get started.

businessman looking in mirror

Most members of a team know when they’re doing their work well. They often have a particular area of expertise, and they have deadlines and deliverables.

For leaders, it’s a bit different. How do you show that you’re leading? Here are five competencies that good leaders demonstrate. They are related to one another, and each is framed with a question to help you think about opportunities to display leadership.

1. Visibility

We know that leaders need to be seen by followers--from formal presentations and announcements, to a crisis, to simple “managing by walking around.”  The less-obvious occasions, however, are easily overlooked. They can be lost opportunities, or powerful expressions of leadership.

As a leader, when do you feel out of your comfort zone? Maybe it’s when you have to deliver bad or unpopular news, or mediate a conflict between direct reports, or perform a necessary task that you just don’t like. One CEO client told me that he found it hard to celebrate the “small to medium wins” that his team wanted acknowledged. He considered these victories just part of doing business. His solution was to ask his executives to publicize accomplishments up to a certain level, allowing him to save his praise for the really big achievements.

Ask yourself, “How am I visible to others when I don’t want to be?” The answer is not to pretend to like being visible--far from it. Instead, ask yourself this question prior to an uncomfortable event, and use it to help you prepare. Consider some behavioral options, and put yourself in a different mental space. Then you’ll be able to be visible in a more productive, less stressful manner.

2. Preparation

Many leaders are great at preparing the logistics of leadership (the facts and figures in a plan, or the pitch for a presentation). Too many leaders, however, don’t prepare regularly for the deeper daily requirements of leadership. This is a shame, because most leaders face complex challenges, relentless claims on their time, and increasing pressures to deliver on goals over which they don’t have direct control. A bit of regular preparation goes a long way.

Just as athletic activities involve physical, mental, and emotional energies, leadership is a “whole-body practice” and requires preparation of the whole person. The next time you are running through your checklist prior to a leadership event, ask yourself, “How have I prepared my whole self for this?”

3. Comfort

This is closely related to preparation, because leadership discomfort is greatly enhanced by a lack of preparation. In order to be more comfortable as a leader and to appear that way to other people, you need to practice (which is simple preparation repeated).  By “comfortable,” I don’t mean perpetually happy or even relaxed--I mean grounded in your complete embodiment of leadership.

Ask yourself, “How do I display that I am comfortable with the responsibilities and demands of leadership?” Look for nagging doubts in the back of your mind; or instincts that need to be surfaced around what you feel should be happening instead of what is happening, or that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach about an issue not faced. This is valuable data, and if you do not address your lack of grounding and comfort, others will certainly sense it for you.

4. Listening

One reason that modern leadership is hard is because an effective modern leader must listen to others. Though few people manage to do it, this may be one of the easiest competencies to demonstrate--provided you can resist the urge to talk.

Ask yourself, “What one thing can I tell myself as a reminder to listen more?” It’s vitally important that you think up an effective cue. If you can’t come up with one, that in itself could indicate a deeper internal misalignment.

5. Blend

This list started with visibility. When the opposite is required, a leader must blend in. Otherwise, he or she risks drawing attention away from the people and issues at hand. When you pull back, it makes it easier for other people to bring you hard problems, bad news, and perspectives that challenge the status quo.

As a leader, it’s not all about you. The clearest way to demonstrate this is to find the right moments to step out of the spotlight so that other people get the attention they need. Ask yourself, “When necessary, how do I lower the volume of my leadership presence?”

Though leadership can be hard to demonstrate at times, regularly questioning how you embody your role will serve your leadership well.

Friday, August 24, 2012

7 Traits of Truly Inspiring Leaders

The managers who inspire employees and colleagues to achieve greatness tend to have these characteristics. Do you?

After conducting interviews with thousands of executives, I've noticed there's a subset of bosses who inspire their employees and colleagues to achieve more than they ever thought possible.
These individuals tend to share the following traits:

1. Purpose
Inspiring leaders believe that success serves a higher purpose. When you ask what motivates them, they talk about making other people successful.

Uninspiring leaders believe that success is their higher purpose. When you ask what motivates them, they talk about what makes them personally satisfied.

2. Giving Back
Inspiring leaders feel an obligation to "give back." Their long-term plans usually include pro bono work or even endowing a charity.

Uninspiring leaders feel no such obligation. Their long-term plans are limited to cashing in and/or buying physical objects.

3. Gratitude
Inspiring leaders are deeply grateful. They know that their success is hugely dependent upon accidents of birth and circumstance.

Uninspiring leaders are self-satisfied. They secretly believe their success is a natural result of being smarter and better than everyone else.

4. Beliefs & Values
Inspiring leaders treasure their beliefs. They don't wear their values on their sleeves, but their deeply held convictions pervade everything they say and do.

Uninspiring leaders foist their opinions. They demand converts to whatever religious sect or management fad currently captures their fancy.

5. Empathy
Inspiring leaders care about people. They agree with Bill Gates that the fortunate few have an obligation to help those who are less fortunate.

Uninspiring leaders couldn't care less. They agree with Ayn Rand that the poor are merely "moochers" begging for a handout.

6. Team Focus

Inspiring leaders spread the credit. They never brag about themselves. Instead they redirect praise toward everyone else on the team.

Uninspiring leaders spread the blame. They are as quick to mention the mistakes of underlings as they are to toot their own horns.

7. Energy
Inspiring leaders are uplifting. You come away from meetings with them thinking, Gee, I'd really like to work here.

Uninspiring leaders are depressing. You come away from meetings with them thinking, Gee, I'm glad I don't work for that jerk.

Every truly inspiring executive, manager, or entrepreneur I've ever met has shared most or all of the traits described above.
 Are there uninspiring leaders? Absolutely. And they're often quite good at motivating people. They just use different tools: primarily fear and greed.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

7 Tips for Motivating Employees

Having trouble getting workers fired up about a project �" or your company in general? We've compiled some pointers from the experts.

Any CEO knows that employee motivation is a key to individual performance, group productivity, and maintaining a pleasant office culture. So how do you do it exactly? For a dose of inspiration on how to motivate those who work for you, we've compiled the best recent pointers on the subject from articles published in Inc. magazine and on

1. Set a Good Example.
Remember that your attitude is contagious. Kevin Plank, founder of Under Armour, an apparel company located in Baltimore, says that communication is key to making members of your company's team feel including in major decisions. "I listened to everyone's opinions, and, without fail, they'd bring up things I hadn't thought of. More important, my team members knew that they were part of the process and that their voices mattered," he told Inc. "Employees are more motivated when they feel needed, appreciated, and valued." Plank also recommends hiring employees who have great leadership skills. At his company, he calls these natural leaders "engines," and peppers them strategically around the organization. Read more.

2. Focus on Employee Happiness Rather Than Employee Motivation.
Zappos is often hailed as the most employee-friendly business out there. But, perks aside, what really keeps the workers there motivated? When Inc.'s Max Chafkin last interviewed Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh in Las Vegas, he discovered that what Hsieh really cares about is making Zappos's employees and customers feel really, really good. In fact, he's decided that his entire business revolves around happiness. Chafkin writes: "Zappos's approach to workplace bliss differs significantly from that of other employee-friendly businesses. For one thing, Zappos pays salaries that are often below market rates - the average hourly worker makes just over $23,000 a year. Though the company covers 100 percent of health care costs, employees are not offered perks found at many companies, such as on-site child care, tuition reimbursement, and a 401(k) match. Zappos does offer free food to its employees, but the pile of cold cuts in the small cafeteria loses its allure faster than you can say Googleplex. Instead of buying his employees' loyalty, Hsieh has managed to design a corporate culture that challenges our conception of that tired phrase." Read more.

3. Make Sure Employees Share in the Company's Success.
Employee performance, productivity, and motivation can all be tied to how invested a worker feels in his or her company. That's what makes profit sharing such a powerful tool – especially when the company is consistently successful. Sue Holloway, an expert in compensation at WorldatWork, a human resources organization focused on employee benefits, told that the objective of a profit sharing plan "is to foster employee identification with the organization's success." By implementing such a program, the CEO is saying, "We're all in this together, and everybody's focused on profit," Holloway says. Read more.

4. Create a Culture of Autonomy and Agency.
In his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, author Daniel H. Pink writes that the crash of Wall Street is a striking example of the peril of motivating employees strictly with gobs of cash. He advises that instead, companies should create conditions for employees to find the joy in work itself. That can mean giving workers the autonomy to choose what they do and with whom, which can help foster a desire for mastery of tasks and skill sets – and simply doing more, better. Read more.
5. Encourage Worker to Voice Complaints.
When Dell amassed an online "antifan club," excoriating the PC maker across the blogosphere, it not only acknowledged criticism, but also actually fixed things, according to Jeff Jarvis's book What Would Google Do. "Dell transformed itself from worst to first in the era of customer control," writes Jarvis. How about applying the same principle apply to employees? There are scores of reasons why employees don't contribute critique of management or their company's culture – from fear of retaliation to hesitation to appear ungrateful. But remember, as Inc.'s Leigh Buchanan writes, "When the heat's not lowered, though, steam escapes." Read more.

6. Take on Fun Volunteer Assignments.
In the heat of the recession, Door Number 3, an Austin-based advertising agency, saw business slow. Thus, creative employees were occasionally idle on the job. M.P. Mueller, the company's president, decided to ramp up the agency's pro bono efforts – an established way to build work portfolios and maintain track records. It also had the side-effect of keeping employees sharp and motivated between projects. Mueller said these projects not only help charities, which also struggle during hard times, but also help employees create some of their most inspired work. "You get a lot more freedom with nonprofit clients," she says. Read more.

7. Get in Touch With Your Inner Start-up.
Every morning in the Chicago offices of Total Attorneys, a legal software and service firm, small groups of the company's 180 employees gather in clusters around the office. Laughter, banter, and collaboration ensue. For about 15 minutes, the office might be said to resemble a college cafeteria – but to CEO Ed Scanlan it's a perfect example of what he calls controlled chaos. That's a process inspired by a process for designing software called "agile development," which aims to foster flexibility, speed and teamwork – in other words, make an established company work more like a start-up. Read more.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Post by: George Ludwig

Three Quick Strategies to Save the Game.

Less than four minutes were left on the clock. Down 20-10 in the RCA Dome, things looked grim for the New England Patriots in the most-hyped game of the 2007 regular season as they took on rival Indianapolis Colts. But Coach Bill Belichick and his team managed to turn around a losing game in those final minutes by scoring two touchdowns and winning 24-20. Their fans went wild.

If you're a sales manager, the fourth quarter has arrived for you too. Chances are that the tumbling economy is causing your numbers to look like the Patriots' and creating a serious case of year-end anxiety. But don't throw in the towel just yet—good sales leaders can adapt to the economic downturn and retool to score big, score fast, and win the sales revenue game.

How to pull off this comeback? Sales managers must focus, drill, and deliver in three fundamental areas. First, they must make sure that their sales team has a positive psychological mindset. Next, they must make sure that their team spends its precious selling time as effectively as possible. Finally, they must coach their team to skillfully execute the critical "best practices" necessary to win the game.

Q4 Quick Save Strategy #1: Make Believers Out of Them

· Give salespeople the best "I have a dream" speech. Sales leaders must pull everyone together (in person is best, but use the phone if necessary) and talk from the heart. Let them know that the game can still be won. Convince the team that you can lead them to victory. Your speech must highlight all the specific company and marketplace beliefs that are necessary for success. This speech doesn't need to be more than ten minutes long, but it must speak to the emotions and values of the team in a way that fosters commitment.

· Reinforce the message with some one-on-one coaching. Sales managers must encourage individual salespeople to kick some serious booty and take no prisoners in their pursuit of business. Look for the good in salespeople, catch and reward them for doing things right, and keep the fourth quarter a period when people feel absolutely superb about themselves.

· Fire them up-but don't fire them. If you have a salesperson whose performance is dismal, don't get rid of him or her just yet. Plan to take the issue up in the first quarter of 2009, but don't discuss it at all during the fourth quarter. Right now you must keep the positive energy at a peak level—firing salespeople, even if they're poor performers, can demoralize the whole team.

Q4 Quick Save Strategy #2: Be a Time Management Master

· Sort out their selling funnels and create a short list. The management team, along with all of the salespeople, must evaluate each individual's sales funnel at the beginning of Q4 to determine which opportunities he or she should pursue. Come up with a short list by looking at factors like:

1. What's the size or profitability of the sale?
2. What's a realistic evaluation of where the potential sale is in the sales process and the probability of closing it by year-end?
3. What resources and actions are necessary to close the sale by year-end?
4. Are there any specific adverse customer behaviors as a result of economic conditions that may preclude them from being a hot-targeted prospect?
5. Are there any previous buying patterns the target has demonstrated as it relates to price, value, and purchasing urgency that might affect the opportunity?

Every seller must then prepare a brief strategy position (an assessment of where the sales process is and what should come next) for each opportunity on his or her short list.

· Aim for the fruit closest to the ground. Consider a Q4 selling promotion targeted toward your current customers. In hard economic times, customers want to make safe choices with their limited funds, so they look to companies and products they know and trust. This is a good time for the sales department and marketing to team up and offer specific price promotions targeted to hit the sweet spot of current customers who are in the best position to purchase by year's end.

· Grease the skids with quick communiqu├ęs. One way to save precious time in Q4 is to reach out to your customer and prospect database, especially your identified targets, using a variety of time-saving communication tactics. Email, snail mail, faxes, and telephone all complement direct sales efforts and keep you in mind, which helps close sales quickly.

Q4 Quick Save Strategy #3: Coach 'Em Relentlessly

· Stick to your salespeople like glue. Now is not the time to let salespeople fly free. Instead, the entire sales management team (C-Level too) should be co- traveling and coaching salespeople right up until year- end. They should be there not only to encourage salespeople, but to also make sure that the company's specific sales "best practices" are being executed with the customer at every interaction. They can coach salespeople to improve key skill sets and help advance a sale that would otherwise be stalled.

· Help them cut reluctant prospects loose. If a salesperson is courting someone who probably isn't going to sign on the dotted line this year, it's up to you to help him or her disqualify the target. Salespeople are naturally optimistic—it often takes a gentle, caring coach to nudge them to move on to another target with a greater probability of closing in Q4.

· Keep the "best practices" checklist in front of your salespeople. The "best practices" that sales managers should focus on when they co-travel and coach salespeople vary from one company to the next. However, the following list of questions can accelerate an individual sales opportunity as rapidly as possible toward closure:

1. Is this really an ideal target for Q4 closure?
2. Has the salesperson done the pre-call "due diligence" to advance this target to closure including identifying the pain or desire for gain that the target is experiencing to a degree that closure can be facilitated within 90 days?
3. Has the salesperson identified all key buying influences, and in complex selling environments, cultivated a customer "coach" or "champion"?
4. Is the salesperson prepared to open every sales call in a customized manner for each target to generate curiosity and create a desire to advance the sales process toward closure?
5. Does the salesperson have a list of well thought out questions designed to expand the relationship, establish credibility, diagnose the pain, and advance the sales process leading toward a Q4 closure?
6. Does the salesperson present and prescribe the product or service benefits in a way that leads to a mental and emotional buy-in and creates a sense of urgency by the target to proceed?
7. Does the salesperson repel and overcome objections in a way that doesn't delay the sales process?
8. Does the salesperson always seek commitment and closure to advance the sale to the next logical step?

The fourth quarter is about to begin, but sales revenue touchdowns and a come-from-behind victory are within grasp, even in this recessionary economy. In fact, there's something about having a tight deadline that energizes people and helps them focus. Good salespeople love a challenge. Harness their competitive spirit and channel it in the right way, and you'll be amazed by what your team can accomplish.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Strategies for Answering the Toughest Questions


One of the hardest things to do in all of sales is handle tough questions from skeptical prospective customers. After interviewing thousands of customers as part of the win-loss studies I have conducted, I can tell you with certainty that answering customer questions successfully is often the difference between winning and losing. Here are seven points to consider when answering questions:

Clarify the question first. Customers ask two basic types of questions. Some are very specific questions about a feature or issue, while others are more general about a broad topic or your opinion. In both instances, make sure you understand the question before answering it. Either rephrase the question your own mind your own words and repeat it to the questioner aloud or ask the questioner to further explain what he meant before answering. Many times, salespeople are too eager to give an answer to a question that wasn't even asked.

Show your domain expertise. If you intimately know your industry, company, and products and how they compare against the competition, you need not fear even the toughest question. Frame the beginning of your answers with statements that confirm your credibility like “Based upon my experience working with X, Y and Z companies” or  “I’ve been asked that many times over the years.”

Make sure everyone understands. Since most sales calls are conducted with groups of people, you should give a little background information with your answers to ensure everyone understands the topic of conversation. Don't assume everyone understands your company's buzzwords or nomenclature.

Provide an expert point of view. Never forget, your customer would rather do business with a trusted consultant who has intimate knowledge of the industry than an ordinary salesperson who simply understands how the product works. In fact, you are not actually there to sell anything. Your goal is to become a trusted advisor by intently listening to the questions the customer asks so that you can apply your expertise to solve the customer’s business problems or complete his initiatives. Ideally, once you have established yourself as an expert the conversation will flow into an off-the-record talk about the politics of his organization and his ulterior motives.

Redirect inane and unfair questions. Don't get flustered when you are asked an inappropriate question. Simply redirect the question by saying something like, "The question you really should be asking is … " 

Respond with Metaphors. Metaphors are stories, parables, and analogies that communicate ideas by using examples that people can relate to and identify with. Metaphors enable complex concepts and theories to be explained in an understandable, interesting, and persuasive manner. The most important metaphors are examples about the customers that are successfully using your products and services. Instead of barraging the customer with point-by-point facts and figures, structure your answer in a logical way using an existing customer’s impactful storyline.

Demeanor speaks volumes. The most powerful response to the most difficult question isn't solely the answer you give. It's also how you say it! Regardless of the question, keep a calm and confident demeanor. Most of all, do not get defensive. Stay positive. This is a critical lesson. When confronted by someone who disagrees with your opinion, it's okay to disagree without being disagreeable.

The demeanor and communication style used to deliver your answer should be collected and matter-of-fact. However, you want to build momentum as you make your response and finish on a high note. This is called a “build up.” Whenever you speak to a customer, you want to confidently peak during the final sentence of your paragraph. You don’t want your voice to trail off, signaling uncertainty or lack of conviction.

Remember, behind every question customers ask is an ulterior motive. They may want to validate a bias or throw you off track. That's why you shouldn't be too eager to answer or say yes to every question you are asked. The first step is to quickly theorize why the question was asked. Then formulate your response strategy to demonstrate your industry and business expertise in order to command respect. Sometimes, it is best to address inappropriate questions by providing an answer that guides the customer to a different topic.

Most importantly, maintain your composure at all times. So be sure to prepare your answers in advance to protect yourself from uncomfortable questions about your products, company, and competitors.

A critical aspect of every sales call is not necessarily what you have planned to say. Rather, it is how you handle the tough questions the customer asks you. Your question-handling ability is what separates you from the pack.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Are your customers getting the real you? Use these 7 tips to make sure.

  1. If there are two versions of you, the salesperson and the civilian, people will see you as disingenuous. There must be only one you.
  2. Relate to people exactly as you are. Imperfections are not seen as reasons not to do business with you. Just the opposite, your willingness to be transparent is seen as vindication that you are the genuine article--a trustworthy individual one can reliably do business with.
  3. Tell your clients and prospects what they don't want to hear when you believe that the painful medicine will be in their best interests. They may be upset with the messenger in the moment of truth, but you will stand out from the yes-men when the dust clears.
  4. Always carry yourself with great pride, knowing that a salesperson is a "prince of the company." Others can work the books and make the factory hum, but as IBM founder Tom Watson said, "Nothing happens unless a sale is made." And you're the one who makes that happen.
  5. Prospects are not doing you a favor by making time to see you. I always view it as their good fortune to see me. I have ideas. I bring solutions, experience and knowledge. I'm not there for favors. I'm there to help grow their business. I'm confident my company can
    accomplish that. I don't act or mean to be cavalier. I just know that the smart people I'm privileged to work with can deliver, and that confidence is always contagious.
  6. Sell yourself before you enter an initial meeting. Send the prospect a copy of an award, a media clip, a paper you wrote--anything that distinguishes you as a person of importance and authority. By establishing your credentials in advance, you change the entire dynamic of the meeting. You're not simply another salesperson. You are a force to be reckoned with.
  7. Remind yourself that prospects need you even more than you need them. They are the ones with the needs. You are the one with the solutions.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Reshape the network for private, public and hybrid cloud traffic

In this post, IDC’s David Senf revisits a theme previously explored in the whitepaper, Getting the Network Ready for Cloud in Canada.

Idling on roads snarled with rush-hour traffic, just like waiting on a slow company network, can test your patience to the limit. Aging infrastructure and outdated networks also have costly consequences, especially as the needs of your community — its traffic patterns — change or even expand exponentially. The solution is the same for both: planning.

Thankfully, planning for change in your network architecture and systems isn’t as hamstrung as what urban planners contend with when trying to solve street congestion. And a top driver of network change today is cloud. It is growing six times faster than the overall IT market. If you haven’t already started, it’s time to start planning – and developing your roadmap – for evolving your network in the context of different cloud models. There are three foundational (and, at times, overlapping) cloud models to consider when architecting the future of your network:
  • Private cloud. In the data centre, you need to plan for shared infrastructure available through self-service (either for business units or within IT itself), otherwise known as private cloud. Network traffic patterns are going to change as a result. Traditionally, traffic flow has been oriented north-south along a traditional three-tier network (e.g.: core, aggregation and access). Increasingly, heavily virtualized environments with higher levels of server-to-server VM mobility don’t follow this established traffic direction. Instead of north-south orientation, traffic patterns rotate decidedly an east-west flow between servers. The north-south network architecture inherited from client-server doesn’t hold up well under a highly virtualized private cloud. Consider a flatter network that supports this change in traffic flow. Plan, too, for the continued shift of typical network admin tasks to the VM admin.
  • Public cloud. You will become more concerned with your ability to manage the traffic or capabilities required for particular workloads.  Moreover, you will find that certain extremely taxing periods of your business cycle require your organization to build a world-class system that remains underutilized the rest of the time. Better to offload that kind of unpredictable and variable traffic to a system of highways so large, no one customer can possibly exhaust it.  When you require 40 lanes of traffic, hit the proverbial toll road (aka subscription).  When you need ultra high speed delivery with low latency, pay a premium for a shortcut. Then, dial it all back and return to business as usual once the stress returns to normal levels, as your traditional infrastructure continues to chug along with your constant day to day traffic pattern.
  • Hybrid cloud. In the distant future public cloud and private cloud capacity will be well-balanced. But for the next five years, at least, hybrid cloud will be more appropriately linked to bursting. Optimizing network traffic takes on renewed importance – otherwise you’ll need to over-provision for peak loads. Back to the (hopefully not yet overdone) city traffic analogy, it’d be akin to the start time of the work day varying. Rush hour can happen anytime. Commuter traffic into the city and back out again would be less predictable – chaos would appear and diminish as quickly as it came.
Reshaping your network to meet cloud traffic demand (and avoid rage) takes planning – and time. Make the commitment to ‘borrow’ time from all of your daily tasks to set a plan in motion. After all, the better planned your roadmap is, the easier it will be to get your company in the fast lane to the future of cloud.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The cloud barriers Canada must overcome

The president of the Canadian Cloud Council dicusses the cultural issues that may be leading organizations to miss out on opportunities to transform themselves for the future.

Why are Canadians not adopting cloud services at a rate consistent with other leading G20 countries?
In a recent conversation I had with Alistair Croll, Founder at BitCurrent and Canadian Cloud Council board member, we both felt that the issue may be twofold.  Although there are certainly technology-related barriers to entry, the issue may also be related to Canadian culture in general.

First of all, cloud is perceived as risky, and Canadians are risk-averse and typically late adopters of most everything. Look no further than legislation on capital gains, ultra-conservative banking regulation, house pricing, and myriad other things that are driven out of risk- adverse policy and cultural conservatism.  The concept that “cloud is risky” is a nuanced discussion. Depending on whether you’re using public or private clouds, and whether you’re talking SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS, your risks could be derived from data leakage, cost and operational inefficiency, vendor lock-in, cultural mismanagement, or network security.

The two things that the Canadian Cloud Council are doing to fix the potential misconception that “cloud is risky” are to explain the nuances so Canadian consumers evaluate risk more intelligently and holistically; and reset the expectations of cloud adoption so people realize that the risk isn’t about adopting clouds, it’s about not doing so and getting beaten by faster, more focused, more agile competitors who overcome traditional barriers to entry.

Second of all, cloud (like the Internet) is inherently multinational and it is possible that we created an artificial borders problem. Saying “the Canadian cloud” doesn’t mean much; it’s like saying “the Canadian Internet.” With most of our TV shows and films coming from the US, there’s no reason to expect that we’ll maintain our national identity in the long haul without a significant amount of effort. If a company uses Google Mail, Dropbox, Expensify, Salesforce, Freshbooks, Tripit, and a bunch of other cloud services, perhaps only one or a few of them are Canadian.

Does the end user of the consumable cloud service really care about data sovereignty or where a cloud service resides?  Or, does the issue reside only with the CIO who may be fighting the “Shadow IT” brigade anyways?  The Canadian Cloud Council is educating Canadian corporations on how to drive effective cultural change management processes within an organization so cloud is provisioned and operationalized in a unified, measured and ROI driven fashion.  If both the business and technology side of an organization build a cloud strategy in unison, understand the risks and rewards of the cloud in unison and actively support the operational process in unison, it has as much better chance of successful execution and acceleration.

If we want to encourage domestic cloud initiatives, we’re essentially pushing for protectionism and the need to keep things at home; the history of the Internet shows that information tends to ignore such things, and it’s like putting toothpaste back in the tube. So what we really want to do is make sure the legislation is practical and pragmatic, and gives Canadians a level playing field against other countries when using or building cloud services.

Monday, August 6, 2012

FrontRow CRM Integration with

FrontRow has been recognized as the fastest, easiest sales reporting tool ever. It allows sales reps more time to sell and provides them with the tools needed to be more organized and productive in the field. When sales reps have more time to sell, they can increase their overall sales, ultimately increasing your company's profits.
For many companies switching CRM providers is not an option. They have spent too much time and money to move to another solution. The goal for these companies is to re-engage with the sales reps and increase compliance, productivity and sales reporting insight. With that in mind FrontRow is able to provide two sales reporting options.

1. FrontRow can be used as a complete standalone CRM system which provides the company the following advantages:

  • Fast and easy to use reporting system
  • Standardized sales process (More)
  • Real-time information
  • Critical information populated into custom dashboards
  • Custom reports with daily, weekly, monthly, year-to-date filters(More)
  • Prospecting audits (More)
  • Accountable and productive sales force
  • ROI in weeks or days
2.  FrontRow can be integrated into any CRM system, providing you with the advantages of the FrontRow reporting tool but still populating your existing CRM database.Only the sales rep will be interfaced with FrontRow reporting tool; the rest of your company will be able to access the reported information on the FrontRow website and through your existing CRM system.

The integration can be setup as one directional: information flows from the sales rep to the FrontRow server and then into the CRM system, populating your existing database. It can also be setup as two directional: information flows from the sales rep to the FrontRow servers and then into the CRM system; information can also flow from the CRM system back through the FrontRow servers to the sales rep, allowing reps access to the updated CRM database information. An example of two directional integration: your marketing department creates a prospect–> prospect is automatically populated in FrontRow server and assigned to the correct sales rep–>sales rep makes a sales call to the prospect, entering his report through the FrontRow application–>information populates in the FrontRow system and CRM system, both accessible by the marketing department.

We have integrated FrontRow with most of the major CRM systems. Below you will find a description with how we integrated into Sales Force.

We have integrated with Sales Force using the API's with the API library provided in We have the ability to synchronize many elements between FrontRow and Sales Force. Our current deployments synchronize a combination of Sales Force Tasks, Users, and Clients to FrontRow Activities, Users and Clients. This will happen when any of the records are added, edited or deleted on either system.

There are many options available when looking at Sales Force and FrontRow inter-connectivity. We usually work with a company's Sales Force Administrators and sales management to understand what is important to the company and the CRM to create a custom solution that marries Sales Force and FrontRow.

To find out more visit us at