Archive for July, 2016

Book Recommendation – Pinterest Power: Market your Business, Sell your Products, and Build Your Brand on the World’s Hottest Social Network

A book recommendation from Dan Beaulieu

Pinterest Power: Market your Business, Sell your Products, and Build Your Brand on the World’s Hottest Social Network

By Jason Miles and Karen Lacey

Copyright 2013/McGraw Hill

Price $20.00

230 Pages with Index

Interested in Pinterest? This is the right book

Let’s be honest Pinterest is hot right now. Hot enough that there is a while long shelf of books about what it is, what you do with it and how you increase your business by using it. I know because I have read a number of them. That being said if you want the definitive book on the subject this is the one.

If you are a marketer who is interested in jumping aboard the Pinterest wagon this is the one book you should buy and read and keep around for future reference.

This book covers everything from what Pinterest is exactly to how to use it to enhance your marketing and get your products virally out there in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

The potential of using Pinterest is what I found especially valuable with true to life stories of how by using Pinterest that right way enhanced organizations’ marketing reach further and faster than anything else out there in social media.

The most important aspect of this book in my opinion was the authors’ use of real life examples by real people. These stories frankly sold me on using Pinterest in my consulting business. And full disclosure I bought this book with a great deal of skepticism I really was tired of hearing everyone talk about Pinterest so I decided that once and for all I would get it over with; find out exactly what it was, what the big deal was so I wouldn’t look like an ignorant old fart and just move on from there. But that is not what happened. This book did a true conversion job on me as I am sure it will do for you as well. Check it out and decide for yourself.

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You Gotta Break Some Eggs!

I don’t know about you but this drives me absolutely nuts. You’re in a meeting, you come up with a good idea but before you finish getting your idea out there, this guy across from you. You know the one, he graduated from the Dilbert School of discouraging new ideas jumps in with that smart smirk on his face and starts listing the reasons why it won’t work. And he has a great time doing it. After all your company hasn’t tried anything new since Nixon was president so why start now? Now this guy doesn’t deal in specifics, he doesn’t deal in what the general populace, the bulk of your customers, would think no he goes right to the exceptions, those few people who are not going to like your idea for that new product offering, a group that chances are make up about three percent of your customer base. Then he sits back and folds his arms and with that smug look of glee on his face as if thinking, “Great strike one for the great status quo!”

Or you get passed this guy, this objector this champion user of the word “but” and your idea is going to be tried, you are going ahead with it. Oh there are a lot of worried people around after all its not every day that your company tries something new and dar…well almost daring. Finally you are going to get a chance to see if you can bring you company into the 20th century (no that’s not a misprint I meant to say 20th century, heaven forbid you would be in the 21st. So you try your idea, you send out a mailing describing your offer and lo and behold it’s a hit! The majority of your customer love it; a whopping twenty percent take advantage of your offer and try it out right away. It’s all a great success right, it’s all good right? Well unfortunately two customers called in to complain. Yes two customers you sent the offer out to one hundred and twenty five customers but your company has doubts about ever doing it again because two customers complained. And here is what their complaint was, “if you can afford to make this offer then you are making much too much money and I want you to lower your prices to me.”

Well guess what? Deal with it. Handle that objection because there is always and this I can guarantee always someone who is going to say something like this. That’s just the way it is. There are always going to be some customers who are unhappy with anything you put out there. They are simply the corporate version of that guy sitting across the table from you with his arms folded and that smirk on his face, just looking for a reason to be unhappy.

Oh and another thing about those two customers’ objections, just a side bar here, but there are companies out there particularly in our industry who are absolutely petrified that circuit shops are making too much money, hell they are petrified at the mere thought of us making any money at all. Ours is one of the few industries where our customers hate it if we make a buck. Why is that… anyway that’s a column for another day.

But back to the point. If you want to be daring, if you want to try new things, if you want to do things differently from the way you have been doing them or even differently from the way the rest of your industry is doing things then you’d better be prepared to take some heat. You’d better be prepared to hear some objections. People hate change and people hate to try new things so if you’re trying something new you will have people hating you for it.

Remember a few years ago when a bright young man from Colorado got the idea to start doing some marketing so he started sending out postcards for follow-on orders and then he started sending out popcorn and coupons for pizza for his engineering and design customers? Remember that? Remember the brouhaha that caused? Critics jumped, jumped hell leapt out of their chairs screaming about all the reasons this was unfair, waving long lists of reasons why this would not work? Well that company is still going strong today and they are still giving away pizza and popcorn.

Then there’s my personal favorite, nesting, the art of putting multiple part numbers on one panel. Try this sometime. If you’re sitting around a table with a bunch of bored PCB executives at some boring industry event throw out the subject of nesting panels and you’ll see that table come alive faster than you can say “controlled impedance” You’ll be barraged with all kinds of derisive comments covering every negative aspect of that subject from one hundred and fifty reasons why it can’t work to why it can’t work in their company to accusations that the people who are doing it are out and out cheaters! I warn you that if you decide to bring this subject up you’re better be prepared to take some serious heat; and if you decide to defend the fact that nesting makes sense you’d better be wearing your worst suits because it’s going to be covered with pasty mashed potatoes and rubber chicken before the night is over.

But nevertheless keep those ideas, inventions and innovations coming because we need them now more than ever it’s high time that the companies in our industry start thinking about how they are going to grow their business instead of how they are going to stay in business. It’s only common sense

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Finding The Right Sales Person

The most difficult part of a sales manager’s job

Without a doubt the most challenging part of being a sales manager is finding the right sales people to make up your sales team. It’s vitally important to find the right people because as a sales manager you live and die with your team. If you have a team of underperformers it will not only reflect badly on you but in the end it will most likely they are giving you and the company their all…a full 100%. Just like a manager of any sports team to you to be constantly doing everything you can to field the best team possible.

So with that in mind you can make your life a lot easier if you hire the right people in the first place. As a consultant working with and coaching sales managers I am always on the lookout for any tips, tools, ideas and guidelines that will help me to help my sales managers find and hire the very best sales people they can find.

I came across this list the other day while searching the web. It is a list of interview questions put together by one of the country’s leading sales recruiters Ken Sundheim and I thought there were some very good ones that I would like to pass on in this column. The title of Ken’s article is “50 Questions to Ask before Hiring Sales Employees” and you can find it on the Forbes/Entrepreneurs web site. I’m not going to list all fifty of them and I might even add one or two of my own.

So here are some of the best questions to ask when interviewing to fill your next sales position:

  1. What motivates you as a sales professional?
  2. How would you describe the corporate culture of your past company?
  3. What traits to you believe make up the most effective sales representatives?
  4. How comfortable are you with cold calling? (Let me comment, this is one of the most important question you can ask on an interview. And make sure you get the candidates commitment that he or she is going to do some cold calling. In my opinion a sales person who is not comfortable cold calling is not a sales person)
  5. How long was the sales cycle at your last job?
  6. What were your most profitable target markets at your previous jobs?
  7. How would you describe your sales techniques?
  8. How would you describe your idea sales manager? (Listen to this answer very carefully)
  9. Give me an example of when you’ve prospected a lead creatively, and what steps you took to do so.
  10. Where would you like to see yourself improve in the area of sales?
  11. What does the term “consultative selling” mean to you?
  12. How much was an average sale at your last job?
  13. Give me an example of how you handled a difficult client in order to get the sale, and what did you learn from the experience? (I love this one. And don’t let the candidate off the hook which is easy to do make him/her answer this one).
  14. What was a typical day like in your past position?
  15. Can you give me an example pitch of the product or service you were selling at your previous position? (And for heaven’s sake do not ask her to sell you your pen! That’s as old as the hills).
  16. What types of managers do you learn best under?
  17. How do you define success?
  18. How would you describe the selling style of your last manager?
  19. Where do you see yourself in one, three and five years?
  20. How would you describe your ideal sales position?
  21. What kind of customer relationship tracking did you implement at your last job?

And now a few of my own:

  1. Would you like to have my job as the sales manager of this company
  2. What would you say your knowledge of our product is?
  3. How often do you feel you should visit customers?
  4. If you spend a day at your desk what are you doing?
  5. What do you know about marketing?
  6. In your opinion what is marketing
  7. Are trade shows effective?
  8. If we send you to a trade show what will your plan be to get the best bang for the buck?
  9. If you were not selling this product or having to have this job what would you like to do?
  10. What is the last book your read?
  11. When was the last time you attended a seminar or webinar of lecture about selling?
  12. How long do you expect to have this job?

I know these are a lot of questions but they are all important. Important questions that will lead to doing the best you can in hiring the best person you can for your sales team.

Remember hiring the right people for your team is the most important thing you can do as a sales manager so take the time to do it right. It’s only common sense.

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Book Recommendation – The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds That Make a Business Great

A book recommendation from Dan Beaulieu:

The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds That Make a Business Great

By: Joel Peterson with David A Kaplan

Copyright 2016 Amacom

Price $15.95

Pages: 126 Index

A great guiding light of the straight and narrow.

Doing the right thing is not always easy in business but it is up to our leaders to project the example for the rest of their company to follow. Someone once told me that a leader of any company has to be extremely careful about what he or she says because first of all it will ten times louder than if anyone else in the company said it and secondly it will be repeated by everyone in the company…so leaders must be aware of this and tread lightly all the while leading the company to be the best it can be.

The author Joel Peterson is the Chairman of Jet Blue Airlines which is my favorite airlines and thus the reason for why I wanted to read this book.

So for a minute here I am going to talk about Jet Blue and the people I have meet on Jet Blue since I fly the least forty times a year. And good news I have to say that what Chairman Peterson is selling in this book…Trust… is evident in the day to day operations of this company. When a number of my associates and I were bashing the airlines the other day…a common practice among business people. I spoke up and defended Jet Blue by saying that no matter what happens and we all know that yes stuff happens that people at Jet Blue always give me the feeling that they give a damn. The genuinely try to do their best and they act at all times like they have the customer in mind. Unlike some of the other airlines who could not care less about the customers and yes we know it. In end the end I was telling my colleagues that I trust the people of Jet Blue to do right by me. And that’s before I read this book.

The point I am trying to make is that this guy is walking the talk. His company is an actually representation of the message he is getting across in his book.

From his chapter on accepting responsibility and the blame if something goes wrong. How many airlines do that? To fixing what can be fixed and doing it quickly. To instilling trust in your people because if they feel they can trust their management they will become more trustworthy, it all rings true.

Okay so I’m gushing. Sorry about that I just like this guy. I like what he has to say and I like the company he leads. It’s as simple as that. If you want some good advice about establishing trust in your employees and your vendors and your customers (yes that’s me) then this is the book you want to read. This is the real McCoy.

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You Get What You Pay For

In last week’s column about the pride some of our customers have in buying the cheapest products available on the market today, we talked about how for some reason some companies feel that they can buy the cheapest parts they can get their hands on and then turn around and tell their customers that their products are the best in the world. Now we all know how impossible that is, no matter how much you try, no matter how much hype you try to give it, you just can’t make filet mignon out of chuck steak it just doesn’t work, why, you should just as soon try to make a first in class MRI using the cheapest parts you can find.

Look anyway you cut it, cheap is cheap and cheap is inferior and no amount of spin is going to change that. With that in mind I thought it would be interesting as well as informative to remind you what you get when you go cheap, when good enough is good enough. I thought it would be beneficial to describe the true costs of buying cheap. So I have listed below the true costs that occurs when a board is late; or when it is rejected and returned to you by the customer; or what it costs to remake a board or worst of all the true costs of a field failure.

For those of you who like to bury your head in the sand when buying as cheap as possible I would warn you to turn away, this is not going to be pretty.

What does a late board cost?

Customers who buy quick turn PCB’s do so for a reason. They need their boards on time they need them when they need them and they are willing to pay a premium for that service

If a QTA board is late to the customer:

  1. The customer’s schedule is also late
  2. He misses his date to his customer
  3. He can miss his revenue projections
  4. He can spend more money on overtime to get the boards assembled on the weekend
  5. She has to make other plans and pay twice for the boards
  6. She could miss product introduction
  7. He could miss having the product at a trade show
  8. She could miss time to market and lose out to her competitors
  9. He can hold up a million dollar shipment for few thousand dollar circuit boards on which he saved a few hundred dollars…was it worth it?
  10. The buyer loses credibility with his team
  11. The customer loses credibility with their customer

If a board is rejected by and returned by the customer

All of the above issues apply, but on steroids, everything is worse

  1. It takes additional time to get deposition. That’s why getting CARS in time is so important
  2. You Lose all the time to make new boards
  3. You customer Increases chances of missing time to market goals
  4. There are increased problems for you as well. You lose credibility
  5. You have to replace the boards faster than ever and for free
  6. You have increased chances of screwing them up again because you are building them under duress
  7. It hurts your reputation
  8. It hurts your chances of getting more business from that customer.
  9. It hurts your customers chances of getting more business

What does a remake costs?

If you think about the repercussions of losing a part number and having to rebuild it the cost can be exponential. Especially when you specialize in Quick turn PCBs. Think about it:

  1. The cost of that lot to begin with. The materials, labor and time
  2. The cost of the rebuild, the materials, labor and time
  3. The opportunity costs. This remake is taking up a slot that could have been used for another customer.
  4. If the boards are late or you can’t build them in time to meet the delivery date then:
  5. There is loss of premium dollars.
  6. You’ll be paying more for shipping the late boards
  7. You’ll lose the customers good will and possibly lose the customer
  8. The loss of your reputation as a great QTA company which can be discouraging to your associates.
  9. The loss of the ability of your sales people to get more business from that customer.
  10. The loss of customer confidence in us
  11. Then there is the customer, what is the loss to him for us not giving him his product on time. His loss can be huge:
  12. Loss of revenue because the customer cannot ship then end product which is often worth thousands of dollars more than our boards
  13. The possible loss of premium dollars he paid to get components and other commodities in quickly to make deadline
  14. The loss of labor time as he brings in people to work on the PCBs which are not there.
  15. The loss of his reputation
  16. The loss of time to market which is so important in new product development
  17. The possible loss of marketing expenses. Marketing that claimed that his product would be delivered on a set date.

To miss a delivery date is a very big deal at any price Customers pay premium dollars for a reason and often that reason is all about time.

What field failures cost?

  1. All of the above on double steroids
  2. Extremely high visibility (Challenger/ New Boeing Dreamliner)
  3. Lives possibly lost. It can be life or death literally!
  4. Medical? Think about it do you want field failures of medical devices
  5. Can literally destroy your company’s reputation and put you out of business

So think about these things the next time you are tempted by price, the next time you feel that buying that cheap board from Asia, you know the one, the one built buy the cheapest labor money can buy and still not be slavery and ask yourself if this is really the only price you’ll be paying; or if you’ll be paying a much higher price in the end. And then ask yourself if you’re really proud that you were able to use the cheapest parts that money can buy to put into your great product. Are you really proud of that?

It’s only common sense

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Stop Limiting Yourself

Figure out what your customers want and give it to them.

To succeed in business today especially a custom business where you’re making products based on not your designs but the customers’ designs you have to be flexible. You have to listen to what your customers want today and what they are going to need tomorrow and customize your offerings to meet those needs.

This concept is pretty straight forward you are in the business of providing your customers with the products they need, with the products that they have designed so that they can produce their end products. It’s not rocket science…er well in some cases it is when you consider our business. So its Important we don’t niche ourselves out of the market.

Winning new customers is a long, time consuming and expensive process. You have to invest lietrally thousands of dollars on every new customer you attain. So once you have that customer you have to do everything to nurture your relationship with him, you have to do everything in your power to keep that customer. The better you are at this the better your company will do. The more long lasting customer relationships you have the longer you will successfully stay in business.

So then why would you not grow with your customers? Why would you not do everything in your power to provide these good hopefully customers for life with everything they need to stay your customers for life?

And once again we get back to understanding what your customers’ needs are today and what they are going to be in the future and then adapting your company’s offerings accordingly.

This means asking them to share their technology road map with you. This means asking them to share their future plans for their future products with you. This means asking them what they are going to be looking for from you as a supplier in terms of Quality, Technology and other special capabilities in the future. If you are willing to do this and if with great honesty, sincerity and credibility you can express to your customers that you are in fact willing to do this, they will be happy to work with you helping you to set up your company to work with their company in the future.

This means that if whatever direction they are heading in you will be there for them

If in the future they are going to need boards with very fine lines you are going to be there for them.

If in the future they are going to need flex and rigid flex boards you are going to be there for them.

If in the future they are going to need boards with CTE materials you will be there for them

And if they are going to need something that is impossible for you to provide say for example large volume orders at the best value possible you, as their PCB expert provider will find a source for them and if you have a been a true partner they will want you to handle that source. Since you’re selling service, credibility and trust and solutions there is nothing wrong in fact there is everything right in your providing your customers with all the solutions they need even if you have to sub out the ones you do not directly provide yourself.

If you can do all of these things. If you can offer your very good customer partners on complete one source solution you will succeed, you will have customer for life and you will become your industry’s “go to” supplier for all of their PCB needs.

And here’s an added bonus, just a little secret here for you to consider; no one is doing this at this time. We are all so niched out that we are limiting ourselves in terms of what we can provide or should I say allow ourselves to provide to our customers. There are many cases right now where the customers particularly the high end customers are looking for some to handle all of their PCB needs. They just want someone they can rely on to handle our product for them. Now I warn you these high end customers and the current world game changers to they are very demanding and their needs hard to keep up with. In some cases their board requirements can be beyond what most board shops can handle but I don’t look at this as a stopper but rather an opportunity for a good open minded board provider to instill itself as their board supplier, to act as their true partner into the future and with great patience, deliberation and endurance find a way to meet their needs and help them to create the products that are yes in fact actually putting a dent in the universe.

Those PCB companies who are willing to do that are the companies who are going to be around for a while joining these companies of the future in that future. Its only common sense

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Book Recommendation – Beyond The Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World

A book recommendation from Dan Beaulieu

Beyond The Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World

By: Steve Anderson and Dave Stein

Copyright 2016 Amacom

Price $27.95

Pages: 264 with Index

The section on sharing a Vision for success with your customer is the best I have ever read on the subject.

You know when you read a book and you start writing in the margins and highlighting paragraphs and dog earing pages so that you will go back to them? Well there is so much good stuff in this book, especially the first couple of sections that it took me a couple of hours to get through the first 50 pages.

From customer evaluation to making sure you are in sync with your customers to learning how to have a complete understanding of your customers and everything about them I literally could not read more than a sentence or two without highlighting some pearl of wisdom.

I have to share this part with you:

From page 38 which is based on how your customers define supplier value:

How would your customer respond to these statements? Would they say “Yes” or “No” to these statements?

This is your customer being asked to agree or disagree with these:

  1. You make it easy for us to do business with you.
  2. You resolve our problems and conflicts as they arise.
  3. You understand our business and our industry.
  4. You listen to our needs before talking about your offerings.
  5. You consult with us with an intent to solve our business problems.
  6. You dedicate the resources that will enable us to work effectively together.
  7. You provide us with preferred pricing and contract terms
  8. You align your team members with ours.
  9. You approach our business strategically and not just transactionally when we’re buying.
  10. You plan the future together with us even when we are not buying.
  11. You develop relationships with our executives and yours.
  12. You help us understand the specific value of your offerings
  13. You help us assess your performance with mutually acceptable metrics.
  14. You share best practices and industry knowledge that will add value to our business.
  15. You provide a single point of contact to us for strategy and decision making
  16. You provide an internal advocate for us that will be focused on our specific needs.

Get it!

Sorry Dave and Steve and I am stealing this set of statements this litmus test if you will and using it with the clients I consult. In fact I used it with one of them yesterday, a company that is having a hard time defining themselves right now and what was supposed to be a twenty minute exercise turned into a three hour exercise.

Besides that the book is filled with a number of very pertinent case studies exemplifying how other companies are using the techniques developed by these guys to make their relationships with their customers very wide and very deep.

Anybody who is in the B to B end of things and has customers has to have this book. This means everyone in business has to read this book. It represents a new world order of customer capture, customer growth and customer retention.

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