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Archive for July, 2009

The Future Of Social Networking

The Herman Trend Alert’s topic this week is the future of social networking.  An excerpt for you (my bolding):

“Social networking is in its infancy”, says David Nour, Relationship Economics CEO and Web 2.0 guru. “We’re on the upward swing of the hype cycle”. Lots of people are discovering the power of Social Networking and investing their time and energy to make it work for them.

“The real power and promise of Social Networking is a mass collaboration platform, accelerating one’s ability to get things done”, adds Nour. Enlightened individuals are shifting from “not invented here” to “invented everywhere.” It gives us the opportunity to extend our reach beyond any geographic, functional roles, or even industry sectors to learn and grow from others.

That bolded point is an excellent one, is it not?  I have found myself conversing with people from industries I would never have expected.  That is one truth about sales – the fundamentals of it are consistent across industries.  You wouldn’t suspect that truth by looking at sales employment ads which is disappointing.

Sales always comes down to prospecting, qualifying and closing.  The challenges of this work is surprisingly consistent in product sales, service sales, distribution sales, OEM sales…the fundamentals are the same.  This fact is why it is important to measure a sales candidate’s skills and talents with as much, or more, weight than their previous experience.

A relatively new aspect of sales hiring will be an understanding of a candidate’s network.  More sales are moving to this channel and candidates who bring an expansive social network will have an inherent leg up on less-connected candidates.

Simply Elegant Marketing

There is an elegance to simplicity that often gets belittled, mocked or dismissed.  That condescension can blind one’s eyes to an cost-effective marketing campaign.  I give you Google Video from Germany (via


I love the simplicity of the entire clever campaign.

It Could Be Worse

This Forbes story is probably more therapeutic than anything else – the gist of it is that celebrities make colossal business mistakes.  One thing I have always wondered about, where is the anger towards celebrity pay?  I hear of the anger regarding CEO compensation, but never so much as a whisper of discontent regarding celebrity compensation.

At any rate, I had completely forgotten about this stunning blunder:

The award for biggest entrepreneurial swing-and-miss might go to actress Kim Basinger. Smoldering in films such as 9 1/2 Weeks, Batman, L.A. Confidential and I Dreamed Of Africa, Basinger bombed on a grand scale in 1990 when she sunk $20 million into buying the entire town of Braselton, Ga.

Basinger’s vision: to turn the small town of 500 residents, 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, into a tourist attraction, with a movie studio and a film festival. In one fell swoop, the blonde bombshell became landlady of Braselton’s bank, post office, supermarket, a number of retail stores, historic structures, more than two dozen homes and an industrial park–nearly 1,800 acres in all.

Three years later Basinger filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after losing an $8.1 million lawsuit to Main Line Pictures for backing out of a verbal agreement to star in the film dud Boxing Helena. As for Braselton, she ended up selling it–for a mere $1 million.

How Pipeline Bloat Occurs

Here is another line from a sales employment ad (emphasis mine):

The primary role of this position is to build a revenue generating sales pipeline which will primarily consist of prospective accounts.

Pipeline bloat is something we encounter with sales managers on a regular basis.  As you probably know, salespeople have a tendency to…overestimate their pipeline.  This is done for a number of reasons, but the primary one is to make their sales manager believe that the salesperson is on the cusp of big revenue.  Many a sales manager has been drawn in by potential deals.

So with that as a backdrop, I am surprised to see a sales ad written with the weak qualifier: primarily consist of prospective accounts.  The sales managers we work with are usually attempting to reduce the pipeline to only prospective accounts.

Clearly the better sentence for the ad would have been: The primary role of this position is to build a revenue generating sales pipeline consisting of qualified, prospective accounts.

Linguistic Gymnastics

This line is from a sales ad I read this morning:

Pre-qualified prospects are provided by <company> (cold leads).

Reminds me of President Clinton saying, “It depends on what the meaning of the words ‘is’ is.”  “Pre-qualified prospects” and “cold leads” seems to be a stretch, at least in my mind, to be used in the same sentence.

Stupid Sales Moves

Funny article from

While working my way through college, I sold vacuum cleaners. Trying to close a sales call, I asked the prospects if I could use their phone to call my boss and see if I could get them a better price. Of course, I already knew what I could sell it for. So instead of dialing the whole number and bothering the boss, I only dialed six numbers. After a few minutes of acting like I was talking to my boss, the phone started making that really loud beeping noise that lets you know the phone is off the hook. They asked me to leave.

R-O-O-K-I-E.  I think it is amusing to see these old moves in practice…though it is a bit scary to think they are still going on today.

Where The Jobs Will Come From

Call me an optimist, but it is always of interest to see where “experts” believe the recovery will begin.  This information comes from the Herman Trend Alert and seems to make simple sense to me:

When considering where the new jobs will come from, remember that there are two kinds of small businesses: those without employees (or non-employer businesses), and those with paid employees (or employer businesses). The US Small Business Office of Advocacy estimates that in 2008 there were 23.1 million non-employer and 6.1 million employer businesses.

When the economy struggles, the number of non-employers tends to increase at higher rates, while the number of employer businesses stagnates or declines. Going into business for themselves (becoming non-employers) has been a lifesaver for an additional 1.7 million individuals and their families.

However since most of these non-employers work only part time, we are most interested in employer firms. In the aftermath of the 1991 downturn, firms with 20-499 employees led employment expansion, while the smaller- and larger-size businesses struggled. During the 2001 downturn, larger firms (500 or more employees) experienced the greatest net employment losses, followed by firms with 20-499 employees. The smallest firms, with fewer than 20 employees, weathered that storm better than the others.

Expect small- and medium-size businesses and the services that support them to lead the economic recovery worldwide.

Failing To Succeed

This is an 8 minute video on failure from Honda via  The 8 min. may change your perspective:

The Age Of Ageism

I was at a networking group last week where I was able to talk to some jobseekers in a general format.  One of the things that consistently surfaced was the perception from older workers that they were being discriminated against due to their age.

I don’t know if these accusations were true, but they seem more than plausible.  Some of the stories were downright sad – one candidate arrived for an interview and was sent out to the lobby to fill in the dates of his previous employment going back to the beginning…in the 1970’s.  He didn’t get the job.

The massive erosion of wealth over the past year has led to most of these people continuing to search for new employment even though they are in their 60’s.  Just today, I received a PR email regarding a survey by Golden Gateway Financial:

   Now, almost 50 percent of seniors plan to retire after age 70
  More than 40 percent of seniors polled said the current economy has had some kind of negative affect on their ability to retire
   More than 50 percent of respondents said they are concerned that their overall net worth may no longer be enough to sustain their retirement
   86 percent of seniors said they had a reasonable understanding of their net worth, and 50 percent said that net worth had declined by between 10 and 30 percent

Again, not surprising.  I’m a Gen Xer so these topics were, to be blunt, of little interest to me until I had a chance to talk to people caught in this exact situation.

The repercussions from this economy are going to be with us far longer than the time it takes the economy to recover.  The secondary effect from these “older” jobseekers is going to be the job opportunities facing young people entering the workforce.  Clearly there will be a pull between hiring the experienced older worker vs. the young, inexperienced go-getter.  This tension has always existed – the difference is the future force of it.

Hard Numbers On Telecommuting

The Herman Trend Alert newsletter (sorry, no link) provides some interesting statistics from a Cisco survey:

Now the international technology giant Cisco Systems has just released a study of its own organization demonstrating these benefits and more. Using telecommuting, Cisco estimates annual savings of USD $277 Million. In its in-depth “Teleworker Survey” of almost 2,000 company employees, the company evaluated the social, economic, and environmental impacts associated with telecommuting.

The study found that telecommuting significantly increased employee productivity, work-life flexibility, and job satisfaction. In addition, the report cited that “a majority of respondents experienced a significant increase in work-life flexibility, productivity, and overall satisfaction as a result of their ability to work remotely”.

The productivity gains were impressive. Approximately 69 percent of the employees surveyed cited higher productivity when working remotely, and 75 percent said the timeliness of their work improved. Sixty-seven percent reported work quality improvement. Telecommuting can also lead to better employee retention; more than 91 percent of participants said telecommuting was somewhat or very important to their overall satisfaction and 80 percent believed they enjoyed an improved quality of life.

Couple things here – the study does appear to be self-reporting – “…of the employees surveyed cited….”  This type of reporting is always a bit of a concern.  It would be more helpful if there was a technique for putting an objective metric to their productivity.

Second, the value of telecommuting in a candidate’s eyes is noteworthy.  91% said it is very important to their overall satisfaction.  When it comes to hiring salespeople, this is a crucial fact to keep at the top of your mind when designing a compensation plan.