Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Special Event:Lucky’s Pot of Leads

March 7, 2010

Lucky’s Pot of Leads

Order tickets via Eventbrite: http://luckyleads-efbevent.eventbrite.com

In conjunction with Business Club America and Randolph Sterling, Inc., Hummingbird Creative Group invites you to the second of a series of 9 roundtable events in 2010 to celebrate Hummingbird’s 15th Anniversary.

Friday, March 12, 2010 from 11:30am – 1:00pm at 1705 Prime, join industry expert panelists:
Wendy Coulter, President, Hummingbird Creative Group, Inc.
Rich Burghgraef, President – Randolph Sterling, Inc.
Sherry Mitchell, Director Brand Strategies, Hummingbird Creative Group, Inc.

The trio will address the differences between sales and marketing, as well as how they must support one another for either to be successful. Discover how to better qualify sales prospects through understanding why your current customers buy from you and using that information to build marketing messages that can help you sell! You will learn about:

~ the need for structured communication between your sales and marketing teams
~ the importance of knowing your competitive advantages
~ new online resources and opportunities to find and foster leads and fill your sales funnel
~ how selling is best done by asking questions, not selling what you have
~ budgeting for both sales and marketing, not one or the other, to reach your growth goals
~ qualifying leads to find more of the business you want through your sales and marketing efforts
~ using unique sales enablement tools to build brand awareness

1705 Prime
1705 E. Millbrook Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27609
919-850-2340

Cost is $25 per person and includes lunch

Order tickets via Eventbrite by Monday, March 8th: http://luckyleads-efbevent.eventbrite.com
or call 919-854-9100 ext. 304

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“The Performance is Only as Good as the Audience”…And We Have a Great Audience!

March 3, 2010

Remember back in the days of elementary school, on those special days when you would have an assembly? We would pile into the gym—or as our principal used to call it, the “all purpose room” to either see one of the other grades perform a play or an outside group come in to perform for the whole school? Mr. Campbell, the principal at Westmoreland School in Fair Lawn, New Jersey where I grew up used to start out each assembly by reminding us kids to be respectful of the performers…”the performance is only as good as the audience” he would always tell us.

Those words have never rung more true than at the SAM Peer Advisory Group meeting that we held in our office in Cary, NC the other day.

We had a great meeting, and, as with all SAM Groups where each member is an equal participant and can give and/or receive advice, the participants determine the value of the meeting. Since the value of the meeting is that the discussions are confidential, allow me to take a minute to tell you about some of the participants:

Draughon Cranford of Xpress Image: Draughon is very well connected throughout Raleigh. So, when an issue comes up, he not only has his opinion about it, which he offers in a very professional manner, but he also knows someone else through all of the networking he has done in all the right places, that he can usually offer a recommendation of someone he can bring in to help with the issue.

Will Webb of Dupree & Webb: Will is one of the first people I met when I joined Business Clubs of America. In a world where people sometimes blur ethical lines (especially in the insurance industry where he lives) Will’s ethics are beyond reproach. Will is the kind of guy who would walk away from a profitable piece of business if it meant he wouldn’t feel good at the end of the day when he came home to his wife and 2 year old daughter to tell them about it.

Rob Pulley of Talent Management Solutions: Rob is the second person I met when I joined BCA. Rob is the kind of guy who doesn’t just speak to hear his own voice. Trust me, he has a lot to say, but nothing he says is not the result of careful thought to the issue at hand. Rob is also a guy who is very well connected and will make a recommendation for what he truly feels is best for his colleague, looking for nothing to gain other than respect of his peers. He definitely has it.

Danny Worthy of North Carolina Central University: Some of you basketball fans might be thinking…wait a second…North Carolina? Worthy? Is he related to former Tar Heel and Los Angeles Laker great James Worthy? Actually, yes, Danny and James Worthy are brothers. Danny, after a successful career at Verizon, decided to come back to his alma mater, NCCU, with the sole goal of helping them achieve growth as their athletic teams move into division I. Danny works to partner businesses with the university through various sponsorship opportunities. Danny is one of the most polite and respectful people I have met. He adds great insight and experience into every topic and isn’t afraid to ask for assistance as well as give his opinion.

And, I can’t forget to mention our very own Angela King: Angela has been very helpful in getting the SAM Groups up and running in Raleigh as well as assisting me in facilitating the meetings. As a facilitator, it is our job to keep the meetings on topic, but to also know when to go off of the agenda if a topic is being bounced around where everyone is contributing and getting a lot out of the discussion. Angela’s vast experience, both professionally and as a working mom who runs a household of four kids ranging in age from 18 to four, allows her to not only give insight that many of us have not had experience with, but it allows her to keep us all in line.

These core members of our Raleigh SAM groups are class acts, every last one of them. I would have no reservation in recommending any of them and I certainly appreciate the assistance they give me every time I am privileged to meet with them.

We still have a few seats available in this particular SAM group and we are starting new groups every day in both Chicago and in Raleigh; and we are working on “virtual SAM groups” to be able to serve sales and marketing professionals around the world. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact Angela directly at aking@randolphsterling.com.

Anticipation: Bringing SAM Peer Groups to the Triangle

January 26, 2010

Anticipation…remember the old Heinz ketchup commercials where they showed the ketchup slowly flowing out of the bottle and talked about the value of anticipation? That’s exactly how I feel as we start our new SAM Peer Advisory Groups.

The concept of our SAM groups is great. We provide an advisory board for salespeople and sales managers. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

It was an idea brought to me by a mentor of mine who works with business owners and salespeople. He noticed that much of their internal pain revolved around bringing in new business and sales in general. We further noticed that many of the salespeople craved an additional outlet beyond their sales manager to bounce around ideas. This was for several reasons, but mainly because they didn’t want their sales manager to know they were struggling or had questions. In a SAM group, they can talk with other people out on the same front lines they are, dealing with the same issues as they sell their own products and services.

So what’s the problem? This is where my Heinz ketchup analogy comes in. SAM groups are great. Starting SAM groups are not.

Why? Well, there’s a couple of issues. One is that for a sales manager, VP, or President to commit to taking his sales rep out of the field for a four hour meeting once a month, he wants to see a return on his investment of both time and money. Another is that when we start a SAM group we may find two competing companies or two reps from the same company that want to join. This means starting another group for the second rep or the competing company.

The value of the SAM group is in its people. The agenda admittedly doesn’t look all that impressive, which is by design. In looking at the agenda the first thought that comes up is “this is going to take 4 hours?”

Agenda:

8:00    Welcome and Opening Announcements

8:15    Significant Sales and Marketing Events

8:45    2nd Half Annual Goals and Tracking of Quarterly Goals

9:45    Host Presentation

10:30  Sales and Marketing Issues–“Today’s Issues,” other issues

11:30  Guest Presentation on Topic of Interest for Entire Group

12:00  Adjourn Meeting

You see, the content of the meeting is determined by the needs of the people in the group, not by the group facilitator. When you start a group with 2 or 3 people, it does not look that impressive to management when the members get back to the office (although in reality, they probably got a lot out of the meeting because we were able to dig deeper into the issue they brought up).

We figured that the best way to build up even stronger SAM Groups was to partner with another association where what we do can benefit their members. The easy choice was to work with Penn Shore and Business Clubs of America (BCA). So I met with Penn, and after months of negotiations, starting this month…this week actually…we are offering SAM Group membership as an added benefit to the membership of BCA.

Anticipation…it’s making me wait, as the old Heinz slogan goes.

So here we are, on the precipice of our first BCA/SAM meeting and I wonder what I wonder every time we start a group: How many people will show up? Will they be good fits for the group? Do they understand the concept (the hardest part for us salespeople is trying to truly understand the problem before going right to trying to solve it?)

…it’s almost here, so I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thanks to the Niles Chamber of Commerce for a Nice Christmas Party

December 29, 2009

This December the Niles Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual holiday party, which is a great opportunity to not only network but to catch up with friends. This year, I invited Art and Daniel to join me at the festivities. Never too much holiday cheer for Randolph Sterling, Inc., especially when there are clients and prospects to catch up with. It is a great way to enjoy each other’s company and just get to know each other in a “less business” setting. People will buy form people they know, like, and trust, you have heard me say many times.

I had an opportunity to spend time with three of my favorite people at the chamber: past president Bob Ryan form Express Employment Professionals, Executive Director Katie Schneider, and newly installed president, Joe Walsh from Access Benefit Solutions.

Bob Ryan and I got to become friends simply as a result of getting to know each other at chamber meetings. As president, Bob attended every event, a very difficult task if it was all you had to do, but Bob and wife Sheila also have to run their own business.  As chairman of the Niles Marketing Committee and stints as Second VP and first VP on the chamber board, I sat next to Bob a lot. Bob is a class act. He is “Mr. Niles” and what you see is what you get with him. What makes him successful is that he is very down to earth. I don’t get to see Bob as much as I would like, but every time is a joy.

Katie Schneider is the Executive Director at the chamber. Without her, along with her team at the chamber office, nothing would ever get done. Katie teases me because she can guess my age simply by the CDs in my car when I take her out for lunch to discuss chamber business (apparently, if you have a Van Halen CD, you are probably in your late 30’s. She was right on target so I guess it is true!) She and husband Andrew are just wonderful, kind people and she has done so much for me personally to help Randolph Sterling, Inc. grow over the years. She has become a good friend.

Watching Joe Walsh get “installed” as the chamber president this year was a little bittersweet. Joe is absolutely the right man for the job and will do a great job in taking the chamber to new levels in membership and services. I look forward to seeing what he will bring to the chamber in 2010. The bittersweet part comes in that originally 2010 was going to be the year I was Niles Chamber president.

I had been on the chamber board and moved up the ranks, however after chairing the Niles Night of Roses Committee and co-hosting the event, I realized that there was no way I would be able to be chamber president with my work schedule the way it has been. With Raleigh booming and me still the main person there, it was tough to get back for chamber events and give it the time and energy necessary. Randolph Sterling, Inc. and my clients always come first.

Thanks again to the Niles Chamber for a great event and for helping Randolph Sterling, Inc. to continue to grow. We look forward to great things in 2010.

Randolph Sterling Inc. and Talent Management Solutions Team up to Present a Great Roundtable Event in Durham, North Carolina

October 26, 2009

About six months ago I was approached by my friend, President of Talent Management Solutions, Rob Pulley. He was interested in the two of us collaborating on a seminar about attracting the right sales team for your company and helping them become and maintain being a strong, productive sales force.  Last week we had the opportunity to present this seminar for the first time as sponsors of a roundtable through Business Clubs America of the Triangle, in the conference room of KeySource Bank, overlooking Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  No, there were no Crash Davis sightings, just a strong group of aggressively growing companies looking for an edge in hiring and developing top sales talent.

I love presenting at seminars, but hate preparing for them. Our philosophy at Randolph Sterling, Inc. has always been to provide services and solutions that are the best fits for our clients and prospects based on their needs, so it is always difficult to develop a pre-selected seminar based on what I think is important. This is one of the reasons it was great to work with Rob. Rob had a lot of information that he wanted to present on figuring out what type of salesperson your organization needs and then finding them. It was my job to talk about what you do with them once you have them. This worked out perfectly for me. Rob presented his portion of the seminar and took the group through a series of exercises to help them to determine who an ideal fit was for their sales team. He had charts and graphs outlining different sales and customer types and how he helps to find the right fit for them as they grow. As you can imagine, this left a lot of people with a lot of questions, since you can only do so much when it comes to predicting success (this is often the part of a presentation where I remind people that future Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza was drafted by the Dodgers in the last round of the 1988 draft as a favor because Mike’s dad was good friends with Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, while they drafted pitcher Bill Bene in the first round of the draft. Does anyone know what Bill Bene is doing these days?)  Sometimes you just have to get out on the field and prove yourself.

This is where I get to come in. I kept my portion of the presentation relatively open, with very little pre-planned content and even fewer visual aids. That always works best for me anyway as I always prefer for my presentations to be more conversational in nature and more open to the attendees. Yes, I am presenting and I want to do business with you so I want to put my best foot forward, but you took the time to be there and paid to do it, so I want to make sure you walk away with what you are looking for. I had taken the results of the sales diagnostic test that we provided for the attendees and picked out 6 of the 30+ questions that seemed to be the ones that the most people had questions about. Fortunately, many of these happened to be areas where we best help our clients.

Question 1-do you have a defined lead generation plan for your sales team? The easy answer to this question is yes, of course we do, everyone knows that without lead generation we don’t bring in any new business so we make this a part of our everyday life, whether we have 1 sales rep or 100. As we discussed some of the attendees’ lead generation plans, it was discovered that many did not truly have a plan at all. In fact, most realized that they did not truly focus their salespeople on finding new business. Heck, we are so busy trying to keep our current clients happy and getting work out the door that we don’t have time for it until we slow down—music to my ears!

It is not surprising that this is the philosophy of many sales teams, whether they want to admit it or not. As salespeople get busier, it is always easier to knock on the door of the person who already knows you and likes you, rather than risk rejection by talking to the unknown person behind door number 2. Many salespeople fancy themselves risk takers, but in reality, they will take the safe route on this one. This is why we developed our outsourced sales solutions, so we can provide that type of relationship development service to companies to help keep their sales pipeline filled.

The next question that came up had to do with sales and operational process. While some of the attendees had defined this pretty well, the “norm” was that most really had not. In fact, many of the ones in the room who had a sales team built one out of necessity. They had too much ground to cover so they hired another salesperson. They hadn’t yet taken Rob’s matrix into account and defined their ideal sales profile, nor had they really developed a strong ideal client profile, so they used their gut to hire, usually leaving them with a stable of sales mavericks rather that a team that would truly best fit their growth needs.

This is another of the issues we often tackle when providing our sales management solutions to clients. It is quite a common problem, which is why I like opening these types of seminars up to the attendees to not only bring up these types of issues, but also to discuss how they have handled it before I give my two cents. Sometimes it helps to get an idea for a solution, either internally or externally, after knowing that you are not the only person who is dealing with this same problem.

All in all it was a great event. Attendees walked away with ideas they could apply directly on their own to their business, although many looked at the issues, turned to either Rob or myself depending on their particular issue and said “You deal with it!”

Music to our ears

What’s Best About North Carolina

September 30, 2009

In a recent post I shared some of the reason why I felt The Triangle would be the perfect home for Randolph Sterling’s newest branch, and thought I’d give you the opportunity to tell me what you like best about NC!

Randolph Sterling Inc. Expands to North Carolina!

September 27, 2009

In my previous post I mentioned Randolph Sterling’s expansion to North Carolina . Now, some people might ask “Why NC?” Well, there are several reasons. First, I’m an east coast guy. I was born and raised in New Jersey. Next, as I mentioned in my previous post, we found we were receiving an increasing number of business inquiries from the east coast, and it made sense to open a branch there.

And, in no particular order, I like to be outdoors, I feel better when I am out in the fresh air, I am the poster boy for the winter blues, and I just don’t enjoy leaving for and returning from work in the dark, thus missing an entire day of sunlight. After years of walking from Union Station to Clark and Washington in 5 degree weather on winter days with the wind blowing off the lake and up the street, I felt I was ready for some warm weather.  

If you’ve never visited the Raleigh/Durham area, I urge you to do so and then you will understand why we picked it as the location for the newest Randolph Sterling, Inc. office. It is a growing area filled with a great mix of those born and raised there along with those who relocated, generally from a warmer climate. They both do a wonderful job of balancing each other out, which makes for a great place to live, work, and for me, one day raise a family.

You also have some of the greatest minds coming out of this area, known as The Triangle . It is bordered by the University of North Carolina, NC State University, and Duke University, forming a triangle of great businesses and great people.

So what about my adopted home of Chicago, which has served us so well over the years? We have certainly not forgotten you. While I continue to make my weekly trek from Chicago to Raleigh and back, Randolph Sterling World Headquarters still remains in Mt. Prospect and Lisa Pickens supervises the inside sales teams in Raleigh and the Chicagoland area from the inside sales center in the northwest suburbs. We are close to hiring another Chicagoland area sales rep and another sales management consultant. Things are definitely hopping.

We thank all of you who have helped and continue to make our growth possible, both in Chicago, Raleigh and in all of the places where we have clients but don’t necessarily have a local office. We have been lucky enough to be able to grow in a difficult economic time and look forward to even greater horizons while never forgetting where we came from. The core of our business is, was, and always will be to help growth companies continue to grow the right way and to develop the best salespeople possible.

Randolph Sterling Inc: Sometimes Growth Can Be a Great Thing!

September 26, 2009

Since starting Randolph Sterling, Inc. back in 2002, it has always been my goal to grow the business beyond our home base in the Chicagoland area. Back then, with no experience running a business–unless you count the lemonade stand I had when I was 7 (not the best business plan since I lived on a relatively quiet street) or the landscaping business I started one summer when I was 18—I had no idea how we were going to do it. Franchising sounded like a good way to grow.  It worked for Ray Kroc with his little hamburger venture, so why not for a sales management and inside sales company?

The problem was I didn’t know how to start a franchise. At that point, I wasn’t even sure I knew what we brought to the table for clients, so how could I duplicate it like a Big Mac and McDonald’s fries? I decided it wasn’t the time for franchising, however, keeping it in the back of my head has certainly helped me to continue to help the company grow.

When I started Randolph Sterling, we were a sales management firm. This is only part of what we do today. I had enjoyed my work as a sales manager prior to that, but realized there was an opportunity for me to help several companies, not just one. I figured that for companies who did not have a sales manager on staff, where the sales team was being supervised by the president, I could come in and offer additional sales insight. It would also give me an opportunity to broaden my scope of knowledge and be a better resource to my clients. This has changed over the years since we work mainly with companies who are growing quickly and don’t have the structure in place to handle the growth. But, the same ideas remain from those early days.

The part I hadn’t realized was that as only one person, your time is limited. When you figure in your hourly rate, then multiply it by 40 hours in a week, then by the 50 weeks a year you would work, the numbers looked good even if you did take two weeks vacation. Just one problem: there is no way you can provide this service for 40 hours a week, or at least not while billing clients, collecting payments, running the business in general, looking for more clients…you get the picture.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we also are constantly looking for ways to expand the services we can provide to our clients. It would have been very difficult to do that while building a franchise. It would have blocked the creativity we implement within the business that allows us to continually adjust what we bring to the table to help our clients. I doubt we would be providing some of the other services we provide today if we had been building a franchise from the beginning.   

We decided it was best to grow the same way you make good barbecue…low and slow. We wanted to be smart and meticulous in our growth so that the company always maintained the same ideals it was founded on: providing our clients with the best that the sales profession has to offer in everything that we do. Plus, we realized that we could serve clients coast to coast from our Chicago office.

However, as time went by and we continued to grow, we were receiving an increasing number of inquiries from Charlotte, Atlanta, Raleigh, Washington DC, Philly, and New York. I found myself constantly on planes visiting these clients and prospects and it was getting quite costly. Finding an office in one of these locations would certainly help reduce those expenses. And, when it was time to pick a location, NC was where I wanted us to be.