March Madness: On the Court and at the Office

I was walking through the airport this morning and as I was going through security I overheard a few guys talking. “Duke is looking strong,” one of the men waiting to be screened said. “Nah, Kansas is going all the way!” Immediately I knew that these guys were not talking grad school here because it is that day that so many people wait all winter for…the first day  of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament…March Madness!

Being a fan of warmer weather myself (if you have been reading this blog, it has been well documented how “done” I am with snow and winter!) I usually look at March Madness as the perfect appetizer to the upcoming baseball season, when I spend many an evening over the next several months before going to bed finding out two very important things: (1) Did my Yankees win? & (2) Did the dreaded Red Sox lose?

March Madness has led to another thing that has become an annual tradition—sitting here just hours before the first game and realizing that I did not fill out my NCAA brackets!

My plan is simple, pull out the bracket the Monday before and pick my teams for the one or two pools I plan on joining (since readership of my blog is growing and you never know if the FBI is monitoring to crack down on $5 office pools, I will allow to remain nameless the people who run these pools). I always plan on getting my picks in on Wednesday after thinking about which upsets are going to happen in the early rounds and which top seeds are going all the way. After all, after watching 2 or 3 games over the winter and listening to sports talk radio in Chicago and Raleigh, I qualify as an expert, right?

This year there is a good reason why I am not participating in a pool: we just got too busy at work and I completely forgot to fill out my brackets. I know, balance is the key and the $50 or so I could have won would really have gone a long way, but with the amount of work we have been seeing lately during this economic recovery, things have been just nuts lately.

We are seeing many companies focusing on new business and business process lately, in all areas of the economy.

  • Manufacturing firms looking to increase business by having us develop new relationships with companies that previously were working with a competitor who has since gone out of business; or by developing processes so that their product is a “lower hanging fruit” for manufacturers’ reps to sell their products and 5 or 6 others.
  • Staffing firms, especially temporary staffing, has been on a huge rise as companies are finding projects that were put off in 2009 are now critical in 2010 but they just don’t want to hire back full time staff to do the work. Their account executives have been so busy keeping current clients happy and solving problems (when your “product” is a person, you will be amazed the issues that arise) that they simply do not have the time to reach out to the newer prospects. Our inside sales teams in both Raleigh and Chicago are seeing more and more firms contracting with us to provide that initial relationship development as their salespeople just don’t have the time to make 100 calls a day to prospects.
  • Marketing firms looking to expand their reach by partnering with us to provide solutions to firms who understand that sales and marketing should be working together for optimal success
  • Plumbing companies who are providing new services to clients—have you ever heard of Hydro-Excavation? Google “Hydro Excavation in Chicago” and you will find a video by C.J. Erickson Plumbing which will show their hydro excavator in action
  • Associations who are looking to increase advertising and sponsorship revenue
  • Trade show companies interested in increasing the return on their clients’ investment of the trade show by working with us to follow up on the leads they get at shows. Do you have any idea how many of those leads actually get followed up on? We found research saying about 30%, however one of our clients said their research showed it was more like 10%…10%? That means 9 out of 10 people they are currently meeting do not receive any type of follow up at all. We can make a pretty good impact on their bottom line by reaching out to those people and discerning the prospects from the people who stopped by the booth for the giveaways only.

March Madness indeed, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We have continued to increase our staff to not only keep up with growing client demands, but also to allow our staff to continue to grow in their careers. Having “the right people on the bus” is always an important part of how we do things.

We continue to thank our clients for their faith in us and continue to look for more people that we can help, either in outsourcing the inside sales function, assisting with sales management and sales process, or getting them involved in our sales and marketing peer advisory groups.

I guess it was worth missing filling out my NCAA bracket this year; which reminds me of a joke I heard this week from a Duke fan which I will leave you with: “What does the NCAA tournament and a pair of flip flops have in common?   No Heels!”

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