Friday, May 10, 2013 Posted by moh alfan at 2:30 AM
You woke up this morning and decided that today is the day to get sales training for your team. But what is driving that decision? What makes you think you really need sales training? Before setting out to find a sales trainer, the next best step may be to assess the sales team since there are a lot of options out there. Do they meet your profile for your ideal salesperson? If not, training becomes secondary to finding sales talent that meets your needs. In this article, I will share with you five important steps in making a sales training decision. Trainer Type. The spectrum of sales trainers is very broad. At one end of the spectrum is the motivational speaker. These are folks that excite the troops, but provide few actionable tools. The team walks away feeling great, but needs to have a process to follow for this to be an effective venture. This type of trainer makes sense for companies with morale issues or if the organization has undergone significant change. In the middle of the spectrum are those trainers who have some personality flavor and present a comprehensive sales methodology. These engagements are ideal for companies that do not have a selling system and are trying to bring energy and focus to their sales team. At the other end of the spectrum is the sales skill trainer. Oftentimes, the trainers in the middle of the spectrum can deliver this type of training as well. These trainers focus on specific areas of the buying process and work on skill development with the team. These are not "rah-rah" sessions, but are usually structured as workshops. From these sessions, the salespeople walk away with actionable tools that they can implement into their selling system. This type of trainer is beneficial in support of a new corporate strategy, with newer salespeople, or to tackle problem areas in the buying process. Expectation Setting. The key to success in any relationship is defining the realistic expectations upfront with the trainer. The magic word here is realistic. Going into the engagement thinking that one day of sales training will help your team double their sales in the next month is unrealistic. While working with the trainer, objectives should be established that allow for a measurement of success. Sometimes, the sales training initiative is driven by the C-suite (CEO, etc) which can create a feeling of uncertainty for the sales management team. Engaging the sales management team in the scope of the training is a key to a successful engagement. Leaving them out will make them resist the program. If they resist the program, so will the salespeople. Expectation setting is also important for participants. Unlike many other professional occupations, sales training is not often greeted by the team with open arms. Tell an IT professional that you are sending them for additional skill training and they jump for joy. Not the case with salespeople. Since many are type "A" personalities, there is a feeling of knowing it all. Thus, it is important to work with the sales training participants to ensure their needs and goals are heard and understood. Area of Focus. The operative word here is focus. If the training need is specific, the session(s) needs to zoom-in on the specific areas of the buying process that need improvement. An oxymoron is to say that the training is going to focus on the entire process from prospect to award. This isn't focus, it's everything! Sometimes a consulting engagement is needed prior to the training to help identify the right area of focus for the training. If there is a need to train the team on the entire process, the training time and approach should be adjusted to accommodate for it. One of the other important reasons for the concentrated focus is that adult learning is very different from child learning. For one, it is well-documented that adults cannot absorb as much information, nor as fast, as children can. The training needs to be structured in a way that accommodates for that style. In addition, salespeople are not individuals who can sit for a long period of time in a lecture. These are movers and shakers that want to be out selling. How will the trainer engage the team while teaching them new skills? Reinforcement Plans. Thinking back to high school science class, there is an experiment where the fire from a Bunsen burner is applied to water. The purpose of the experiment is to show what happens when heat is applied to atoms. The experiment shows that the atoms get excited and bounce off the walls while the heat is applied. Once the heat is removed, the atoms move back to a static state. One of the worst things that can happen following sales training is that the team walks away excited but doesn't know how to implement the tools. Just like in the science experiment, they are like heated atoms, but quickly return to the static state due to a lack of reinforcement of the program. If the company and sales management is not committed to a follow-up program that reinforces the training, the dollars invested become wasted. If the issue is resources, some trainers offer follow-up programs. Budget. One of the biggest disconnects in procuring sales training is price. A President will say to the trainer that the objective of the training program is to help the sales team selling high value/high price products. The company positions itself at the top of the market from a price perspective. When it comes to contracting for sales training, price becomes the main issue. Wait a minute! High value must meet high value. If you don't want your prospects buying based on price, don't short change your sales team that is tasked with accomplishing that goal. Oftentimes, the way this comes out is by expanding the size of the class to reduce the number of sessions needed. Coming back to the point on adult learning, there is a diminishing return in class size. Based on the method the course is delivered and the subject matter, the class size can range from ten to twenty-five. One of the great questions to ask yourself as you look to buy sales training is how many new sales does the team need to make to cover the cost of the investment. Sales training is a great investment for a business if done prudently. Consider these five points and you are well on your way to a successful engagement. Lee B. Salz is President of Sales Dodo and author of "Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager." He founded Sales Dodo with the fundamental purpose of helping companies remain competitive in the ever-changing business world. Adapt and Thrive! Those who fail to adapt become extinct, just like the dodo bird of ages ago. Many laugh at the use of the word dodo, but there is nothing funny about a business losing its competitive edge due to unmanaged change. Salz has spent over 15 years helping companies adapt and thrive. He has successfully differentiated seemingly commoditized products and services in a wide array of industries resulting in record revenues and profits for companies ranging from Fortune 1000 to small start-up ventures.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 Posted by moh alfan at 10:00 AM
Venture capital finance is instrumental in inducing technological development, stimulating creativity and innovation and nurturing entrepreneurship. Concerted efforts are required by financial institutions, private sectors and other agencies to create a conducive environment for the growth of venture capital. In particular, initiatives are required to widen the perspective of venture capital finance and create a favorable fiscal and regulatory environment. The venture capital schemes of the term-lending financial institutions presently focus mainly on supporting development of technology and implementing indigenously developed yet untested technologies. While this concern is understandable because of a genuine need for expanding the base of viable indigenous technology, it leads to a somewhat limited view of venture capital. What is required is a broader perspective on venture capital so that it is viewed as an instrument for financing a wide range of projects that essentially have a "high risk- high-return" profile. In this context, it is important that entrepreneurs, financing bodies, fiscal authorities, regulatory bodies and others understand the concept and relevance of venture capital. It should be appreciated that venture capital is an instrument for strengthening entrepreneurial forces in the economy; a device for inducing risk taking and a mechanism for promoting a closer investor/investee relationship. Those who participate in venture capital arrangements must overcome certain traditional psychological barriers and be willing to build a relationship of genuine partnership and not a perfunctory association of limited involvement. To nurture the growth of venture capital, a favorable fiscal and regulatory environment should be created. Some of the specific things that may be are investors subscribing to the capital of venture capital funds may be given greater tax reliefs, and the long-term capital gains of the venture capital funds may be taxed at a concessional rate or even exempted totally from taxation. Orderly and efficient mechanisms must be evolved to facilitate liquidation of investments of venture capital funds.
Posted by moh alfan at 7:01 AM
Maintain good sales performance # Easily manage every lead and sale # View sales pipeline at a glance # Quickly review sales team activities Get the most from Sales Training Having a top functioning sales team is vital to any business that relies upon sales based revenue. If your sales professionals do not perform well, then your bottom line suffers. As simple as it sounds, one of the best ways to maintain good sales performance is through Sales Training. By training your sales team, you can not only improve performance but also create some consistency of technique across your team. Pros and Cons of Sales Training There are both positives and negatives to training a sales team. In most cases the pluses outweigh the minuses, but all issues should be considered. Pros for Sales Training: * Educate new salespeople in useful and effective sales techniques. * Refresh the knowledge and techniques for existing salespeople. * Introduce new methods to a sales team. * Keeps proper methods and procedures fresh. * Can help build consistency in your sales process. Cons for Sales Training: * May take time away from selling activities. * Some new techniques may contradict current knowledge. * Resistance of some salespeople to be taught something they already know. * Takes time to implement new techniques and methods. Sales Training Cont. Maintain good sales performance A program of ongoing Sales Training is one of the best ways to improve your sales process and sales effectiveness. By performing Sales Training on a regularly scheduled basis you can ensure the knowledge of your team is always improving. This program for training allows for the continual introduction of new sales methods and lets you shift focus periodically to specific areas that need improvement. An integral component of this training program is the ability to monitor your progress and how it is affecting your sales. Sales software for managing and reporting on your sales pipeline can be major benefit. Monitoring the Sales Training Process Sales software like Prophet can give you the power to monitor your sales efforts and keep track of how changes in your sales techniques and methods have helped or hindered. By tracking the stages in your sales process you can evaluate how specific techniques introduced during Sales Training have improved your methods. Sales software programs also help to identify potential weaknesses in your sales process and give you areas to focus on in your Sales Training. Keys to Sales Training A program of ongoing and organized Sales Training can be a major benefit to any sales organization. If you are planning, reviewing, or developing a program for Sales Training for your organization always consider the following issues: * What are the pros and cons of doing the training? * What areas in your sales process need to be addressed or improved? * How will you monitor your sales and the affect of the Sales Training? * Who will attend the training? As with anything you do related to your sales and sales process, training can have a major affect. If done in a well organized and planned fashion, ongoing Sales Training can be one of the most effective investments for your company.
50% of Venture Capital Investment is Lost - Deployment of the Right Patent Analytics Can Improve OddWednesday, March 20, 2013 Posted by moh alfan at 12:00 AM
The Skinny on the Quality of Venture Capital-Related Investment Decisions If you are a counselor of venture capital firms or entrepreneurs who owning start-up companies that are targets of venture capitalists, you might already be familiar with the high rate of failure associated with such investments. Nonetheless, you may be surprised to find out that 50% of all money invested in venture capital is a loss.(1) This figure, which is based upon separate research projects by a Chicago Graduate School of Business ("GSB") professor and a former Chief Economist at the Securities and Exchange Commission, indicates that the actual return on venture capital investment is not much different from the average annualized returns on the smallest NASDAQ stocks. In particular, the return on venture capital investment from 1987 to 2001 in these smallest stocks was 62% as compared to the 59% mean return of venture capital funds. This 59% figure certainly does not reflect the investing public's general perception that venture capital return on investment markedly outweighs what one can obtain on the stock market. And, it is this apparently erroneous assumption of perceived higher return that presumably justifies the higher risks your venture capital and entrepreneurial clients associate with venture capital. Investor perception certainly does not match investment reality for your clients who play in the venture capital space. Why this disconnect between perception and reality on venture capital returns? Professor Cochrane, the Chicago GSB professor, posits that, in effect, traditional methods of measuring venture capital return do not take into account the fact that ventures that are a total loss disappear and are not measured. Because these losing ventures are not around to be measured for calculation of rate of returns, Professor Cochrane states that this survivor bias significantly skews the rates of return on venture capital. His simple explanation of the effect of these missing numbers is telling (quoting from the Jacobius article): "They collect the returns for everybody that is around," he said. "It is like collecting data from everyone still in the casino: They're not asking the people on the bus ... who are on their way home." How Your Clients Can Improve The Quality Of Their Business Decisions From the Jacobius article, it appears that there is much room for improvement in your venture capital clients' investment decision-making, as well as the quality of entrepreneur's decisions regarding their start-up companies. As an IP Business Strategist and Consultant, I am a strong advocate of using knowledge and information to reduce risk and improve the rate of return on investment. I firmly believe that venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs who are seeking venture capital investment, can improve the quality of their business and investment decisions by collecting and analyzing business information available in published patent data. When one knows how to extract and analyze the right data in patents, significant business insights are effectively "hiding in plain sight." In short, valuable business information is available for the taking by smart entrepreneur and investors. And, why wouldn't your client seek to gain knowledge that could reduce the strategic uncertainty of her investment decisions to better manage decision-making risk? In particular, before your venture capital firm client invests in a new business idea for a new venture, why wouldn't she want to know whether the business idea is ownable in the long term or whether she will possess the opportunity to innovate freely in relation to that business idea? Or, why wouldn't she want to know whether another firm has invested $100K or more in patent rights alone in the new business idea that she is investigating for investment? This, and other, valuable business insights and information are embedded in published patent filings. For your start-up entrepreneur client, patent filing information can also provide valuable insights to provide enhanced long term business value and raise the value of her start-up company to venture capital investors. For example, patent filing information can reveal where the entrepreneur should focus her patenting efforts beyond the parameters of her specific inventive concept. By undertaking a competitive review of what others have sought to protect in her relevant product or technology area, your client can better understand the full breadth of patent rights obtainable. This can allow your client to gain enhanced patent claim scope that can serve to prevent competitive knock-offs of her product or technology concept. As a result, her start-up company's value to venture capital investors can be significantly increased. Your Clients Don't Just Need Patent Analytics, They Need Patent Analytics That Provide The Right Business Insights However, it is not enough for your clients to collect and graph published patent data to obtain insights that will improve the odds of making the right investment decisions. Rather, specific business-focused data collection and analysis methodology is necessary for successful use of patent data for use by your clients. This is easier said than done. In my experience as an actual purchaser of patent analytics costing upwards of $20K per single business question, I found that the vendors that collecting and analyzed the patent data generally had no basic understanding of the business questions that my company required answering. As such, these patent analytics vendors' products were effectively useless to answer our business team's investment and innovation questions. Put simply, these vendors' products did not provide my team with actionable business insights. I thus learned an expensive lesson about patent analytics: the data collection must be based upon the right foundation for the results to have any value. In other words, with patent analytics it is "garbage in, garbage out." As one example of patent analytics "garbage," one vendor, who offered a patent analytics product for $25-30K for a single business question, presented example data to us in his sales pitch regarding complex patent portfolio where the business conclusions were based upon published patent assignment information. The analytics vendor affirmatively stated that because the primary inventor named on this portfolio's moved from Tennessee to Arizona, we should be concerned because he likely had gone to work for a major competitor of ours. He further stated that our company should be concerned that our major competitor was entering a new technology area in which the inventor was a renowned expert. These conclusions seemed reasonable because they were supported by Patent Office assignment data, as well as other signals informally observed by our marketing team. We therefore considered investigating this competitive threat more thoroughly and addressed making preliminary steps toward evaluating a new product introduction in our competitor's apparent new technology area. Before doing so, however, one of our team members contacted a former colleague of his who had worked in the same department as the inventor who now worked for our competitor. Our team member found out that the inventor moved to Arizona not to work for our competitor, but to tend to his ailing mother. This intelligence revealed that the inventor was working in a wholly different product area at our competitor than he had worked at while being a prolific inventor at the Tennessee company. The technology area did not pose a competitive threat to our company. Fortunately, we found out this was the case before investing significant time and effort into the patent analytic vendors' conclusions from patent assignment data. Interestingly, the patent analytics vendor did not consider any alternative reasons for the inventor's change of residence, other than that he presented. In his view, if the data revealed by his analysis said it, it must be true. But, it wasn't the data that was the problem, it was the conclusions he presented to us. If we would have been more credulous about his conclusions, we would have wasted considerable corporate resources chasing his erroneous assumption about our major competitor's activities. How Your Client Can Select the Right Patent Analytics In the world of start-up company management and attendant venture capital investment, information is undoubtedly power that can fuel your clients' decision-making processes. But before your client spends good money on patent analytics to improve the payback from her business decisions, she must ensure that the data and insights she obtains are based upon methodology that extracts actionable business insights from patent filings. As shown above, selection of the wrong analysis methodology could be worse than her not conducting patent analytics at all because her investment decisions could be influenced by information that provides the wrong business conclusions. Only those methodologies that are founded on methodology that extracts the business purpose from patent filings can provide your client with investment-grade insights from patent filings. Methodologies I recommend to my venture capital and entrepreneurial clients use a combination of data and legal analysis to extract the business information from patent filing data. Importantly, the business question must be well defined prior to starting the analysis. A broad business question will lead to comparably, and likely non-insightful, answers. Anyone seeking business answers from patent information should therefore spend considerable time up-front clearly defining the business or investment question they seek to obtain an answer to, and also in communicating this to the patent analyst. I also believe that the best patent analytics vendor is not the one who demonstrates that its data analysis techniques are the most efficient in analyzing 1000's of patent documents to provide attractive and succinct pictures of the data in landscape form. Indeed, rarely would a well-defined business question lead to more than several hundred relevant patent documents at most. This number of patents typically can be reviewed at a high level by a trained patent analyst. As such, when selecting a patent analytics vendor, your client should move past the charting and picturing aspects of the sales pitch, to better understand how the vendor will work with your client to define and answer the specific business question. Furthermore, I strongly recommend that your client seeks a patent analytics vendor whose methodology centers on reviewing the patent filing documents not for what they say, but for what they claim. The claims provide the relevant business information because that is what your client's competitors seek to prevent them from doing. In other words, this exclusionary aspect is what matters because it defines what your client can and cannot do (or patent). In my experience few patent analytic vendors truly understand that this aspects of patents, a fact which significantly lowers the value of most product offerings. Only after the patent analytics vendor analyzes the claims for relevance to the specific business question does your client care about who might own the patent filing or what they might wish to accomplish with it. This means that the vendor should present your client not with graphs, pictures and analysis of 1000's of patents, but rather, with substantive analysis of a fraction of this number of patent documents that are directly or substantially directly related to your client's business question. In my experience, better analysis of a more precisely generated library of patent filing documents provides clients with more readily actionable business insights from patent information. Conclusion Given that more than 50% of venture capital investment is lost, there is certainly room for improving the quality of the decision-making processes involved. I believe that patent analytics can serve a critical need in this regard. At a minimum, those entrepreneurs and venture capital investors who use such information are obtaining an additional piece of information that is not commonly used to make investment decisions today. The critical factor for those seeking to use patent analytics to improve their investment decisions is to make sure the vendor they choose for such information is providing them with the right information in accordance with the methodologies set out in this article.