Where do you find wisdom?

Sadly, I recently had to un-hire someone recently.

As a manager, my role is to lead, direct, teach, inspire, set parameters, hire and fire, plus a few more words.

Anytime we let someone go, it is painful. Not just to the employee that has to tell their family that they lost their job, but to the manager too. When I invest time, energy and training into someone, I wish with all my heart that they would succeed beyond their expectations. Unfortunately, there is a time line in sales and there are times when we have to cut our losses, if we do not see the return on our investment.

When my daughter was in car sales, I learned how quickly things can go sour. She went from Salesperson of the month, to looking for a new job within a couple of months. At our company, we know there is a learning curve, so we must do everything we can to help our sales people grow as quickly as possible and be aware of the obstacles so we can help guide them through the maze.

So where do you find wisdom to succeed? It has to come from within. Curiosity. Passion to learn and help people. And the Guts to take BIG Steps and Risks.

21 years ago I moved my pregnant wife and two kids to Detroit, after my wife said, “anywhere BUT Detroit”. The radio station I worked for had some training, but it fueled a desire for me to learn more. Now with the internet, there is too much information out there it seems. But here are my favorites and why:

Harvey Mackay. He wrote how to swim with the sharks without being eaten alive. Great book, from a guy who knows from experience how to succeed. Go to: www.harveymackay.com and be sure to get his MacKay 66. Use it!

Not related to Harvey is Chuck McKay. I found his stuff about 18 months ago. I read it faithfully, share it with others and you should too! www.fishingforcustomers.blogspot.com

is a web site that has links to a blog and free resources such as a weekly newsletter. (Chuck and Harvey have free newsletters too)

Here’s the only catch. You have to spend to get. If you don’t have the money, at least spend your time. I have done both.

The wisdom is all around you too. Find a mentor. I found a friend about 4 years ago that is about 15 years my senior and we got to work together for a couple of years too. We help keep each other sharp.

By the way, when I moved from Detroit after 8 years, I threw away a lot of the company training materials I had collected week after week. That was a big mistake. But now with computers and the internet and blogs, it is possible to store material for future reference, which is how this blog got started a few years ago! Start your own and tell me about it!


Marketers Hunt Alpha Moms


Anyone who has ever watched a National Geographic or Animal Planet program knows the essential role that alpha males and females play in the daily lives of animals that run in packs and herds such as wolves, elephants, etc.

Marketers are learning that a similar situation exists in the consumer marketplace where so-called Alpha Moms are having a tremendous impact within their substantial sphere of influence. Companies including Kimberly-Clark, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Nintendo are among those seeking to connect with Alpha Moms in a real and revenue enhancing way.

Alpha Moms, a term coined by Constance Van Flandern, a graphic designer from Eugene, Ore., are Type A, educated, kid centric, wired to the internet (87 minutes a day on average), and willing to spend money on products and services that meet their high standards.

Michael Silverstein, at Boston Consulting Group, told USA Today, “She (the Alpha Mom) ignites markets. She’s a hyperactive purchasing agent.”

Purchasing is something Alpha Moms do well and do often. According to comScore Networks, consumers fitting this description spend an average of seven percent more than the typical person who goes online. They also, because they are so connected, can praise or damn a product to an audience made up of thousands.

Nintendo was among the first consumer marketers to actively seek out Alpha Moms.

When the video gaming company was testing its Wii console before its national rollout, Nintendo brought together Alpha Moms in eight cities to try out the system. Linda Perry of Venice Beach, Cal, who has two kids and leads a Yahoo parenting group that reaches 7,000 tech-savvy moms, was among the participants.

“I’m constantly using the computer to find information,” said Ms. Perry. “If I get an amazing facial, the whole world knows about it.”

The whole world, or at the very least her Yahoo parenting group, quickly learned about her experience during the Wii test event. She loved it and in the end 200 women in her e-mail group bought the console based on her recommendation.

“Alpha Moms are one of our key targets, because they have this high social-networking factor,” said Perrin Kaplan, vice president of marketing for Nintendo.

Kimberly-Clark is among the companies seeking favor with Alpha Moms. It intentionally created its online Huggies Baby Network to downplay product promotions on disposable diapers and wipes to focus on information such as health tips that these consumers would find useful in their daily lives.

Unilever is also moving in a similar direction. Next month, the company’s Suave brand in partnership with Sprint will launch a website, “In the Motherhood,” that will air mom-focused videos. Moms visiting the site will suggest ideas for future videos to be produced.

“This is where moms are and where we need to be playing,” said Sarah Jensen, director of marketing for hair care at Unilever U.S. “The minute you start doing things online, the word spreads.”

P&G is also looking to have Alpha Moms spread the word about its products. The company recently gave Swiffer WetJets to mothers who visited TheNest.com. P&G asked the moms receiving the product to review it on the website. “You get positive and negative responses,” said Paul O’Connor, brand manager of Swiffer. “But if you get 98 percent positive and two percent negative, it’s a win.”

(Source: Retail Wire, 4/10/07)

Study Takes Heartbeat of Boomer Generation


Boomers are, well, booming. As the largest population segment in the United States — more than 78 million strong — this diverse and powerful group is leaving an indelible mark on our nation. Boomers (individuals born between 1946-1964) are challenging traditional norms and redefining the role of aging Americans.

BoomerEyes, a leading Boomer research and demographic intelligence authority, has partnered with industry leader JWT BOOM to track the lifestyles, attitudes and values of this influential segment with the annual Boomer Heartbeat research monitor. The in-depth study explores Boomers’ views and perceptions on life, family, work, finances, health and wellness and technology.

“The breadth and depth of Boomers’ diversity creates a fascinating mosaic of their distinct lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors,” says Anne Wall, senior vice president, C&R Research. “Boomers are unlike any generation before them, which is why it is critical to understand the factors and influences that shape their values and views.”

The online survey provides insights on what it means to be a Boomer today. Here’s a look inside the Boomer psyche:

The Empty Home Front

• Empty Nesters … Boomers are transitioning from child-rearing to empty nesting. Nearly four in 10 Boomers who have kids are now Empty Nesters.

• It’s a whole new world … Of the Empty Nester Boomers, more than one-third are new to empty nesting within the last two years.

• Cash back … In addition to the time to do what they want and when, Empty Nesters also report financial freedom. On average, they say they have $315 more per month to spend.

• Deja vu?…Two in 10 Boomers with children have boomerang kids — adult children who returned to the nest — who stayed for at least one year.

That’s Life

• Age is relative … Seventy percent of Boomers are comfortable with their age. Forty-one percent of Boomers say these are the best years of their lives while 32 percent believe that the best years are yet to come.

• Daydreamer … When it comes to dreams, financial freedom and success (23 percent), time with family (21 percent) and travel (18 percent) are what Boomers daydream about most.

• Worrywart … Financial concerns (47 percent) top the list of worries, along with family and health/diet (20 percent each).

• Where does the time go?…Work (50 percent) and family (48 percent) is where Boomers devote most of their time with a little carved out for hobbies (40 percent), friends (22 percent) and travel (17 percent).


Here’s a look at technology usage according to Boomers who completed the Heartbeat survey online:

• Boomers online … According to the Pew Foundation, home Internet usage is high across most age groups: 18-29 year olds (88 percent), 30-49 year olds (84 percent), 50-64 year olds (71 percent), 65 years old and over (32 percent).

• Help desk … Boomers are technology influencers, with one in three being sought out by family and friends on how to use new technology.

• Tech’s tools … Of the Boomers who completed the online survey, 96 percent use computers at home as well as at work (47 percent). Ninety-two percent use desktop computers, 42 percent use laptops and one-third have wireless connections.

• On ramp … Three-quarters of online Boomers have high-speed Internet access at home.

• Surf city … Besides emailing and gathering information which are nearly universal, online Boomers use the Internet most often to surf the web (72 percent); shop (69 percent); research health, medical and nutritional information (69 percent); word process (63 percent); bank/manage personal finances (61 percent); research/book travel (60 percent); play games (53 percent) and download/print pictures from a digital camera (46 percent).

• Shop ’till you drop … Boomers who took the online survey say they most often shop online for travel (58 percent), books (57 percent), clothes (57 percent) and electronics (50 percent).

• Safety first … Sixty percent of Boomers who took the online survey are concerned about the safety of their personal information online.

• It takes an online village … Thirty-two percent of online Boomers have visited online communities. However, a mere nine percent have blogged.

• Stay connected … Fifty-nine percent of the online Boomer respondents use non-video cell phones versus only 16 percent who use cell phones with video capabilities.

• Picture perfect … About two in 10 Boomers have HD or wide screen TVs. Of those who don’t, nearly 20 percent plan to purchase the technology in the next six months.

Off To Work Boomers Go

• Working nine to five … Work is a major focal point, with Boomers who work full-time working an average of 44 hours per week.

• Retirement dreams … About one in 10 (13 percent) Boomers are currently retired, versus four times as many (55 percent) Matures (individuals born between 1935-1945).

• Pink slip … In today’s job market, Boomers (28 percent) are more likely than Matures (13 percent) to experience job loss.

• Changes … Thirty percent of Boomers have changed jobs in the past five years and another 18 percent have changed careers. All this change on the work front has left 43 percent of Boomers facing a major change in their financial situation.

• Love of the job … Work offers more than financial benefits — it stimulates the mind and provides a social atmosphere. More than half of Boomers say working keeps them active and engaged. Just 33 percent say they work only to pay the bills and put food on the table.

• Coasting … Fifty-three percent of Boomers see themselves working in the same role until they retire while another 21 percent plan on coasting until retirement day.

• School daze … One in three Boomers would consider going back to school full- or part-time.


• Too much, too little … Many Boomers feel they have too much debt, too little savings and inadequate incomes. A large majority of Boomers say their household debt is average or above (62 percent) while 57 percent admit their savings for retirement are below average.

• Salary woes … When it comes to compensation, Boomers are pessimistic about their annual incomes with 37 percent perceiving their incomes to be below average.

• Total assets … Forty-two percent of Boomers report invested assets of less than $100,000 with 26 percent reporting none.


• In sickness and in health … Seventeen percent of Boomers have experienced a major or life-threatening illness.

• Caregivers … As Americans live longer, 11 percent of Boomers have become a caregiver for an elderly parent or relative.

• Sweat it out … The majority of Boomers (65 percent) say they are exercising at least once a week.

• Fountain of youth … Boomers say they feel some (46 percent) or a lot of (22 percent) control over the aging process versus 47 percent and 26 percent respectively for Matures.

• You are what you eat … Boomers have adopted healthy eating habits including reading nutrition labels (50 percent), eating smaller meals (43 percent), changing their diet to maintain their weight and stay healthy (41 percent), eating low-fat foods (37 percent), and monitoring their carb intake (29 percent).

(Source: TheMatureMarket.com, 3/27/07)

Primetime Women

My wife is now one!

Primetime Women

Marti Barletta, CEO and founder, TrendSight Group

Story posted: April 2, 2007 – 9:43 am EDT


Women ages 50 to 70 have huge purchasing influence in business—now market to them

Women control most of the corporate and small business spending decisions in the U.S. Women hold 50% of managerial and professional positions. Among them, women ages 50 to 70, whom I call “PrimeTime Women,” are in the most senior positions with the most spending authority.

Among women business owners—who have been starting 70% of all small businesses for the last couple of decades—a significant number have exited big corporate jobs to bring their considerable business experience to their own table.

I call them “PrimeTime Women” for two reasons: they are in the prime of their lives; and they are the prime target opportunity for marketers in almost every category. They handle 80% to 85% of the spending decisions for households (and a significant amount in businesses) and are in the peak years of their income, wealth and spending power. PrimeTime Women are different than men and, most importantly, than younger women.

Whether you’re targeting these women business owners or merely talking one-on-one, there are must-haves to keep in mind:

  • Listen. Recognize that women often communicate via the “story of their lives.” She’s telling you how she is going to use your product or service, in the context of her business, business needs and the people in her business. You need to listen for cues to her needs, wants and worries.
  • Present benefits over features. Present the human benefits, not the product features, in the context of the business needs she has already told you. Don’t use the canned pitch. Offer options to consider, with the pros and cons of each, so she can feel that she has a comprehensive grasp of specifics and has done “due diligence.”
  • Follow-up. Just because she doesn’t buy after the first conversation doesn’t mean that she is not interested. It probably just means that she’s busy. Be sure to follow up in a way that indicates that it’s for her benefit, not yours.
  • Thank her. Thanking them for their business with something to surprise and delight them will lead to word-of-mouth and positive recommendations to their friends and expanded networks.
  • Make it an “event.” One specific vehicle that connects with these women is event marketing. These women are in the market for great experiences. Build a fun, educational and social event and they will come.

PrimeTime Women are the healthiest, wealthiest, most active, educated and influential generation of women in history. Your business can’t afford to ignore them. Are you ready for prime time?

Marti Barletta is CEO and founder of TrendSight Group, Winnetka, Ill., and author of “Marketing to Women” and “PrimeTime Women.” She can be reached at marti.barletta@trendsight.com.

Sales Science and other links

Got this in my e-mail this week. You can subscribe (free, of course) and get it in your e-mail:

This message contains graphics. If you do not see the graphics, click here to view.

This Month: Injecting Science into the Art of Sales

Dear Scott,

A change initiative isn’t a stand alone effort, sitting off somewhere by itself. Change roots itself into a company’s culture when the process and tools are completely incorporated into an organization’s established methods. If it isn’t integrated into the big picture, it can be confusing for the sales force and actual adoption of the new process is minimal.

Passive resistance is sometimes the elephant in the room; those that nod their heads in seeming agreement but don’t actually change can keep an initiative from being successful. Every implementation that wins full adoption has one common thread: executive sponsorship. Managers who understand the benefits and are passionate, who keep the initiative alive and embed it into everyday sales tools help drive change by demonstrating that the change is enterprise-wide–and it’s not up to the individual contributor to decide whether to participate.

Change adoption has a different definition for different people; that’s why it’s crucial to pinpoint its meaning. Integration doesn’t just mean continual learning and reinforcing of the program. Sales leadership needs to be clear in its communication around expected results, best practices and how progress will be measured. Front end commitment to a communication plan is essential, so the sales force understands that the initiative is here to stay.

Best regards,

Sam Reese
President and CEO
Miller Heiman Inc.

Process Excellence:
Inject Science into the Art of Selling

Any large-scale change or effective process implementation requires strong commitment, precise coordination and widespread cultural adoption. The foundation for any successful change initiative is executive sponsorship–obtaining C-level support. Then, concentrate on the elements that drive acceptance of a new process: training, mastery, measurement, enablement and reinforcement.

Drive Change.

Halliburton: Combining Passion and
Process for Sales Results

As a publicly held company, Halliburton Co. is keenly aware of its responsibilities to shareholders, who expect results in any environment. Peter Bernard, senior vice president of business and development for Halliburton, knows the necessity of passion for results–and also of having the right processes in place for ongoing sales success. Bernard describes the five steps to sales process adoption.

Read Halliburton’s success.

Datapoint: Beyond Passive Resistance:
Motivating Sales Teams To Adopt Change

No matter how innovative and effective a projected change may seem, individuals must implement it in order for the initiative to be successful. People fall into three distinct groups when it comes to attitudes toward change. The largest of these groups–60 percent–passively resist change by neither supporting nor acting against it. Organizations can motivate adoption by avoiding these eight common pitfalls.

Overcome resistance.

Ask the Expert: You asked, we answered

Question: “How do you define a buying influence when a third party administers the purchases–and the user is screaming ‘I am the owner’?” Read the answer here.

Have a pressing sales performance issue? Share your concern and Miller Heiman will connect you with an expert who can help. You may also call 877-678-3386 to speak with an expert directly.


What really counts? The number of people you know or the number of customers you have? The numbers that you use to track your business can be deceiving. I recently have asked my staff to do a minimum of 20 calls a day and turn in the results. It could be left a message, made an appointment, no answer, sold $10,000. But the first step was action.

The next step is to take the action and convert that to $$$. That involves looking beyond the starting numbers and looking at what is really happening so that you can spot growth and trends. Most people over estimate the number of people they know or contact in sales. But the real numbers, the ones with $ in front of them, also known as the results will tell the true story.

More to come….