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Why Industry Analysts are Sales Tools

I received my regular opt-in email from BNET this afternoon.  The subject was, “Discussion: Why Industry Analysts are Sales Tools.”

Hey, I thought, that looks like it would be interesting!  So I open the message and I see this link: Industry Analysts… from an Analyst.

Now this really looks interesting.  So I click.  Turns out it’s a comment I wrote on Geoffrey James’s blog 18 months ago.

I’ve written about Geoffrey before.  He’s a great writer, has plenty of guts and he’s salesguy through and through.  And, he understands the analyst business.  Big plus.

(At the moment Geoffrey’s having quite a back-and-forth with another BNET blogger.  Check it out and pile on as you see fit. )

Whether you’re a sales executive or in sales training, you do need to consider industry analysts as sales tools.   In the past I helped a number of companies figure this out and then watch them excel at leveraging the analysts that covered their markets.  By the way, analyst relations falls under marketing.  If it’s not getting done, or getting done right, just walk down the hall and start asking why.

From my position as an sales training industry analyst, few sales training company executives really understand how to leverage us.  ESR’s principal analyst, Al Case, wrote a terrific report a while back, but only a handful executives of companies we’ve spoken with have actually read the thing.  Many get on the phone with us for briefings and wind up squandering what should have been a great opportunity.

If you’re a sales trainer and want to bring ESR up to speed on what you do, please learn a bit about analysts first and how we work.

Sales Gods

Geoffrey James ran a wonderful series of posts last week.  He spent six months collecting nominations for whom he eventually determined are his “Sales Gods.”  I literally went to his blog first thing each day to see who he was featuring. 

Although this post,  What We Can Learn from “Sales Gods”, is the last post in the series, reading the summary first will work.  Plus, the links to the five individual posts are listed.

An Open Message to Sales Trainers, Authors and Experts

To: Sales Trainers, Authors and Experts

If you haven’t been keeping up with the Bob Beck story this week, it’s worth learning about.  Here are four posts to get you started:

There are two important things to learn from this:

  1. If you are legitimately creating your own content based upon your insights, research, experiences and unique perspectives, you a target for having your intellectual property stolen and used for the financial gain of someone else.  I’m certain you know this isn’t new in the sales training industry.
  2. If you are on the other side of the equation and you pirate, plagiarize or just plain steal what others have created, and represent it as your own, you’re likely going to get caught.

Here is a tip for those of you who want to uncover where your content may be republished on the Internet:

  1. Sign up for Google Alerts here: http://www.google.com/alerts
  2. Select a unique phrase of a few words from each piece of content you’d like to track. 
  3. Do a Google search on the phrase, enclosing it in double quotes.  The quotes are very important.  Here are two of my phrases: “quantified business value attributed to each”  And, “a little Miller Heiman, a little solution selling and a little Neil Rackham.”  (Note: This step will let you know where those phrases might have already been used.)
  4. See if the phrase is in fact unique.  If it isn’t select another one.
  5. If someone copies your content (which contains that unique phrase) and posts in on the Internet, the likelihood is that it will be indexed by Google. If it is, you will receive an email.

Finally:  If you find an instance where someone has plagiarized your content and can prove it, as I Geoffrey (on behalf of others), Charlie and I have done, provide me with the details privately.  (Don’t just send me the link.  Save the actual webpage containing the plagiarized material to your computer, in case the culprit decides to remove that content. In Internet Explorer it’s File, Save As, MHT format – Web Archive-Single File.)  Perhaps someone can comment on how to do that with Firefox.

I’m going to do what I can to help rid the industry of those that practice purposeful copyright infringement.  Will you help?

The 13 Myths of Sales Training

I read Geoffrey James’s blog every day.  He’s a great writer and has the guts to say what’s on his mind.  I really appreciate his posting of my 13 Myths of Sales Training

Even though it’s my list, I’d rather you read it there, not here, for two reasons:  1) It was Geoffrey’s idea for me to create the list, and 2) you need to visit his site if you haven’t been there already.  He’s got a series of videos and provactive questions that will keep you from your next appointment.  Make that next two appointments.

Clichés: They’re a Dime a Dozen

Since I started this blog, I’ve been reading books on writing.  (Mike and Jeremy, my editors at Sales and Marketing Management magazine probably wish I had begun upgrading my writing skills a long time ago.) 

I’ve also been reading the blogs of businesspeople who write well, such as Geoffrey James and John CaddellMy brother, Lee Stein, renowned in the direct marketing arena, is a great writer, but he doesn’t have a blog. 

Blogs are supposed to be somewhat informal, but I think crisp, descriptive writing makes the experience so much better, even if you aren’t conscious of the quality of the writing.

I’ve recently learned to stay away from clichés.  Paula LaRocque, author ofThe Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well, impressed me when she pointed out why you should not use clichés: because everyone else does.  Not only does eliminating clichés make your writing richer (you’ve got to come up with cliché-replacements), but not using them differentiates you from other writers.  Now she had my attention. Differentiation.

I notice clichés a lot more when people are speaking than when they are writing.  When I observe sales trainers or sample a speaker’s content on a video, I notice that many of make regular use of clichés.  I think those clichés distance them from their audience.  Many clichés are generational.  If you’re a boomer, speaking to millenials, and you say, “fold up like an accordian,” you’ve dated yourself and probably forfeited some degree of your audience’s attention and your credibility.  “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” will have the same result and probably get PETA after you, as well. 

In the past I’ve used clichés a lot.  I thought they were clever.  Now I’m working hard to replace them with more colorful and appealing phrases.   If a cliché makes it onto this blog, please bring it to my attention.  Or if you’re in the audience when I’m speaking, same story.

I’ll be writing about buzzwords soon.  The buzzword is a cousin of the cliché.

If you’d just rather continue using your favorite clichés or even learn a few more, try Cliché Finder.

You Can’t Handle The Truth!

Geoffrey James writes a terrific sales blog.  He’s the rare journalist who really understands selling.  (One might argue that he’s the rare sales pro who can write really well.) I’ve mentioned him before, plus he’s in my blog role.

I was honored today to have him pick up on my A Few Good Men metaphor for those salesreps and their managers that don’t ask the tough questions because they don’t really want to hear the answers.   It’s one of the key reasons that many salespeople don’t qualify effectively—and why their managers miss so many forecasts.

Check it out.