Sports Symposium

Sports is more than just playing games, as Brett D. Yormark, president and CEO of Nets Sports Entertainment, can attest. After joining the operating company of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets in January, 2005, Yormark instituted innovative corporate sponsorship tie-ins allowing companies such as Vonage to display their marks on exclusive front-row seats, as well as a $400 million, 20-year deal with Barclays corporate banking services to name the Nets’ new Brooklyn home Barclays Center when the team moves in 2009.

All this in an effort to keep the players playing, the fans cheering, and the business operating in the black.

Yormark will keynote the 2007 Princeton Sports Symposiumon Friday, December 7, at 1 p.m. at Princeton University’s Robertson Hall. The event is free and open to the public. Visit http://princetonvarsityclub.alumniathlete.com for more information.

Held last year after a 10-year hiatus, the sports symposium returns with a focus on the trends that shape today’s massive professional and collegiate sports industry. Some of the most influential people in the sports industry will offer insight into the sports business and give tomorrow’s sports professionals a chance to network with some of today’s top names. The half-day event will feature five panel discussions: sports management, sports marketing and sponsorship, sports media and college athletics.

Speakers include Joe Favorito, senior vice president of communications for the International Fight League; 1998 Princeton graduate Sean Gregory, now a staff writer at Time Magazine; Rick Harmon, chairman, CEO and president of TicketRESERVE; Jennifer Karpf, president of the National Sports Marketing Network; Terry Lefton, editor-at-large at SportsBusiness Daily/SportsBusiness Journal; Tola Murphy-Baran, senior vice president of brand management at SIRIUS Satellite Radio; Peter Roby, athletics director at Northeastern University; Mike Slive, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference; and Princeton Director of Athletics Gary D. Walters.

Monday, December 10

Woman in the C- Suite: Dow Jones’ Clare Hart

The reason Clare Hart, executive vice president of Dow Jones & Company and president of Dow Jones Enterprise Media Group, is not a feminist lies in her view that all employees are measured on the basis of what they deliver to a business.

“I really believe in a meritocracy,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if you are male, female, European, black, white, African American, or Hispanic, everything is about what you contribute. You need to be color blind and gender blind.”

Certainly this has been true of her experience at Dow Jones since 1983.

Her promotion last February from Factiva, where she had been president and CEO, meant giving up her own fiefdom. She remembers someone asking her how she could leave a job where she didn’t have a boss, except for a board that met five times a year. But moving to the larger corporation has enabled her to learn from the other executives on the leadership team as well as to get experience running a public company, including the quarterly financial reporting.

With three businesses to manage instead of one, Hart works with senior executives who are presidents of their own domains. “There is a tremendous learning curve, but a good one,” she says. “You have to build a management and leadership style that can’t possibly know all the details, but relies on trust, asking the right questions, and holding people accountable on things we agree on.”

Hart is speaking with Suzanne Svizeny on “Secrets from the C-Suite: What Corporate Leaders Really Want from HR,” on Monday, December 10, at 5:30 p.m. for the Human Resources Management Association at the Princeton Hyatt. Cost: $50. Visit www.hrma-nj.org or call 609-844-0200.

Hart attributes her own advancement within Dow Jones to her willingness to take risks and make lateral moves to expand her skills and learn new aspects of the business. Yet taking these kinds of positions also meant enduring that sense of being at the bottom rung again. She likens it to the feeling of starting as a freshman in college after being at the top of the game as a high school senior.

It’s the same when you start fresh at something,” she observes. “You have to ramp yourself up, gain the knowledge base and understanding so people will respect your ability in your new role.”

Hart joined Dow Jones in 1983 as a programmer analyst in applications development. “I knew I wasn’t going to stay there my whole career,” she says, “but I knew it was a big part of what the business is about and I knew I wanted to understand it very well.”

In 1990 she moved to product development. As program manager of the Advanced Systems Group she helped create, develop, and launch Dow Vision, a news-to-the-desktop product.

“It was a natural progression — our products are built on content and technology,” she explains. “As product manager, you don’t do the coding, but work with people who do and provide guidance. You work on the commercial side as well — how to take a product to market from a sales and marketing perspective.”

The following year she left Dow Jones for Desktop Data, following her husband, Greg Baer, to the Midwest for his job in sales management for American Express; she established a regional base for that company in the Rust Belt and Canada. But the following year Dow Jones lured her back to be a regional sales manager, and her husband decided to pursue his dream and become a photographer. Today he has a photography business that creates note cards and office prints from the images he takes on long international photography jaunts (his website is corporatecards4u.com).

His job, says Hart, gives the couple more flexibility than they would have had with two corporate jobs.

“I’m lucky in the sense that a lot of the stress that people have when they have a dual-career family or are single executives — with the hours we work — become more challenging.”

Having her husband in a more flexible career, she says, reduces the stress of daily chores like shopping and house cleaning. As a result, she says, “Our family commitments are more social than work related. We spend time with each other and our families.”

Back at Dow Jones in 1992 she became regional sales manager for the U.S. central region and Canada. In 1994 she became sales director for the western region for Dow Jones News/Retrieval and Dow Vision, the predecessors of Dow Jones Interactive.

Her initial move into sales was a risky one, she says, but she told herself that if she believed enough in a product, she could probably convince someone to buy it. “It probably was one of my best career decisions,” she says. “I gained an understanding of clients that I never would have had if I didn’t go into sales.”

In 1996, as director of enterprise marketing, she moved Dow Jones Interactive to the World Wide Web. In 1998, as executive director of enterprise products, she led the groups that supported the sale of electronic news and information products to corporations.

Hart’s sales experience proved a turning point for her. “It gave me more confidence when I went into a marketing role,” she remembers. Although she didn’t know a thing about marketing, she did have the requisite understanding of different aspects of the business — products, technology, communication, and sales.

As Hart has moved into the upper echelons of Dow Jones, she has depended on human resources experts as partners in the development of the organization. She cites in particular its role in identifying and developing talent, from inside the company and outside.

Human resources, she says, is part of her leadership team within the enterprise media group. Hart explains why: “That is one way to make sure everyone understands their role: as a listener in the context of understanding key business issues, opportunities, and challenges — because everything we do from a business perspective has people, opportunities, and challenges.”

Hart urges human resources professionals to find the executives who understand the value of human capital and are willing to work with them to strengthen the company. “Human resources is all about people, and you don’t have anything if you don’t have the right people presenting to the client and the marketplace,” she says. “Partner with business people who understand talent development.” Even if that is a single executive in a product or marketing group, helping them win will breed more success.

Human resources can also be a step to other areas within the organization — training, internal communications, or accounts and business development. As experts in relationship management, human resources professionals are set to move into many potential business areas.

When asked whether she has had to make sacrifices to get ahead, Hart first sidesteps the question and says, “I don’t play golf as well as I’d like.” Then she gets serious and admits that probably her biggest sacrifice has been not taking as much of her vacation time as she should. She emphasizes the importance of taking personal time — even if it means leaving early to take advantage of warm weather.

Hart says she gets her emotional support from her husband and her good friends rather than her colleagues, observing, “I feel you have to have a line between personal and business life.”

Hart grew up in Morristown, where her father was a biochemist for Warner Lambert and her mother raised her family and then worked for the town of Morristown. While at Drexel University in Philadelphia, she worked in cooperative programs at Marine Midland Bank and at a bank in northern New Jersey. She graduated with a bachelor of science degree in finance and computer systems management and then spent 16 months at News Edge. She has an M.B.A. from Rider University.

Hart shares three characteristics that have brought her success at Dow Jones.

“One of the things I bring to my role is empathy — a trait fairly common in people but more associated with women,” she says. She defines empathy as thinking about the people in the organization as they balance the demands of their work with other aspects of their lives.

The second is effective communication. “I’m making sure I’m communicating as much as possible about what we’re doing as a business so everyone can be aligned,” she says.

The final one is a positive attitude. “It is really important for leaders to be optimistic and see the glass as half full,” she says, “and communicate that level of enthusiasm and that view of opportunities.” —Michele Alperin

Woman in the C Suite: Suzanne Svizeny

Suzanne Svizeny, Wachovia Bank’s regional president for central and southern New Jersey has spent nearly all her life in Mercer County, although she arrived here somewhat serendipitously.

When Svizeny was very young, her father was transferred from Switzerland to Princeton to help set up the foreign-owned Mettler Instrument Corporation, a manufacturer of precision scales and balances on Princeton-Hightstown Road. Her family had intended to be here only a couple of years, but they stayed for the long haul. After graduating from the East Windsor public schools, Svizeny moved on to the College of New Jersey, where she received a bachelor of science in business management and marketing in 1979.

But it is not just geographic proximity that fuels her commitment to central New Jersey. “It is instilled in who I am as a leader,” she explains. Her involvement in community service, her service on boards, and her engagement in the business market help her understand what will enhance the community’s vibrancy and create business opportunities.

“It is part of the culture I grew up in and translates to what is special about this bank to me — strong belief in support for our community,” she says. “Your values have to be aligned with the organization you work in.”

Svizeny has been a board member of the economic development corporations of both Trenton and New Brunswick and is proud that the Wachovia Bank building at 32 East Front Street in Trenton brought 130 jobs into the city.

“It shows we walk and talk around being part of economic revitalization in urban centers,” she says. “I feel we need to be held accountable as major corporations in New Jersey, and my corporation feels like this, too, supporting cities and urban environments and being part of the solution.”

Svizeny is speaking with Clare Hart on “Secrets from the C-Suite: What Corporate Leaders Really Want from HR,” Monday, December 10, at 5:30 p.m., for the Human Resources Management Association at the Princeton Hyatt. Cost: $50. To register, go to www.hrma-nj.org, or call 609-844-0200.

Early in Svizeny’s career at New Jersey National Bank, where she started working after college, she ended up running a small but high-profile department at the age of 25. When her team leader moved to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, after being appointed by President Ronald Reagan, she was selected over several men, older than she, to head a group of five, whose job was to work through the Third World debt crisis of the early 1980s.

In that position, she reported to the board of directors and represented the company in meetings with top banks across the nation, in the process of renegotiating trade debt.

“I could have walked away or been afraid,” she says. But she had done her homework, spent a lot of time researching the companies involved, and worked closely with the team leader. “I was an expert in those topics,” she recalls, “and had put more into coming up to speed and having creative ideas for getting paid off.” And she was successful — getting 80 cents on the dollar.

Svizeny believes that another factor in her success in the fluid banking environment of the last decade has been her ability to adapt to change. New Jersey National Bank was acquired in 1996 by the Philadelphia-based CoreStates. Then in 1998 CoreStates merged into First Union National Bank, out of Charlotte, North Carolina, which merged with Wachovia in 2001.

Through the bank’s evolution, says Svizeny, “the greatest adjustment I had to learn was being flexible and agile as a leader in dealing with and leading through change.” These changes, she says, have given her opportunities to stretch, take on more responsibilities, and grow as a leader.

In the wake of the CoreStates acquisition, Svizeny had to deal with customer service issues around the conversion to CoreStates and she had to turn around the community’s poor perception of Wachovia. She was brought back from a stint in Philadelphia to rebuild the service scores in southern and central New Jersey, and she was able to turn things around by involving both herself and her staff in the community.

A comfortable balance between home and work is important to Svizeny. As her three sons have grown into teens, she has found herself more focused on their needs than she was when they were babies.

“I don’t look back with regrets,” she says, but rather asks herself, “How do I change now with what they need from their mom and what my husband needs from his wife?”

Svizeny is very lucky, though, because her husband, who is a chef, has been a stay-at-home dad for 14 years — since he decided to get out of the restaurant business. “It was good timing, and my third baby was just born,” she says, feeling fortunate they could make that decision and appreciative of what her husband does for the family. She believes he has the harder job, especially with additional sandwich-generation responsibilities and providing support to his mother and her father.

Svizeny claims she has not encountered a glass ceiling or sex discrimination in her company, and says in fact that she has turned down opportunities for personal reasons. “I feel strongly about balance in my life and clear about my priorities around family and work,” she says. Any limitations, she believes, have been self-imposed.

Yet for all her efforts at balance, she was feeling a little depleted. It came to a head two and a half years ago, in the wake of a project on how to engage employees to their fullest. Svizeny found herself thinking about what she needed to do for herself and she committed to doing yoga once a week.

“Like everything else, I get competitive with myself, and now I’m going three times week and sometimes sneak in a fourth,” she says. “I find it personally energizing, time for me, where I’m not accountable to anyone but myself. It gives me time to reflect and recharge batteries.” She feels like a happier person and says that even her kids have noticed the improvement.

Svizeny is a great cheerleader for human resources. “I view HR as the most critical partner I have,” she says, adding that she is on the phone with human resources at least once a day. Not only do they help her deal with the obvious issues — like recruiting and retaining employees, developing their skills, and figuring out how to help someone who is floundering — but they also serve as a sounding board on business challenges. “They will listen in and give me feedback,” she says. “It is a view that is priceless — getting honest, direct feedback on how you can be better and better support your team.”

Although certainly some business executives box in human resources to people matters and not business matters, for Svizeny the two are integrated. And her company, whose CEO, Ken Thompson, was once head of human resources, shares her belief that human resources professionals are the strategic consultants that bring together business and people issues. “Our industry is very competitive,” she says, “and we differentiate ourselves based on the skill sets and knowledge of our people.”

— Michele Alperin

Tuesday, December 11

Singing the Blues For Corporate Change

Paul Kwiecinski sets up for a training seminar not with a PowerPoint projector, but with a drumset, microphones, and speakers for a four-piece band.

A rock & roll musician turned organizational consultant, he uses music as a learning tool for such corporate change projects as reorganizations, team building, and mergers. In interactive sessions he helps people write songs about their worklife. Working in teams to define a common ground, workers discuss what the issues are, make up some lyrics, and perform their songs with the band.

Kwiecinski’s “Face the Music” foursome is part of the MetaSystem Consulting Group, which takes a holistic systems approach to help organizations improve. The quartet will give a 90-minute demonstration of how singing the blues can trigger strategic thinking, at a dinner meeting of the American Society for Training and Development on Tuesday, December 11, at 5:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Totowa. Cost: $45, or $15 for the music program only. Visit nnjastd.org or call 973-808-0505.

“People think blues is about whining and complaining, but, no, that’s country music,” he says. “Blues, for us, is what is true about you and how does it feel.”

Kwiecinski takes the topic of a meeting, such as market penetration, and asks each learning group to write a blues song about it. As they put their ideas in their own words, coming up with rhymes and rhythms, they are forced to discard buzzwords and fuzzy ideas, and the resulting lyrics cut to the heart of the issue. “They have to reframe the issues; they have to make it fresh.”

How it works: “For each group, we write a custom song. If we can, we get the leadership team to perform the song as a good way to model taking risk.”

After playing a couple of songs, they give a history of the blues, and tell them why it makes sense to do this in the workplace. To start the groups off, he provides templates, standard blues songs, and the budding songwriters take it from there. Important ideas bubble up to the surface during the songwriting process, and sometimes they end up with an entirely different song.

Then the coaches (four musicians plus the road manager) give tips on performance (“sing into the mic; use your hips to get the movement going”). For large groups, Kwiecinski brings in more musicians, and for really large groups, more coaches. The size of the group does not matter. For an 800-person meeting of Linkage, a Massachusetts-based consulting company, each of 30 learning groups wrote a song, but just some of the groups were selected to perform.

After the applause dies, participants review what they learned about the group — who led, who followed. “The assumption is that the song-making is parallel to the processes in the workplace,” says Kwiecinski. “We teach how to become your own consultants.”

At a Wells Fargo meeting in Monterey, the branch managers of home mortgage groups — understandably under stress during the subprime crisis — were resistant. “They moaned and groaned, but I’ve learned not to buy into the groaning,” he says. “The more groaning I get, the more fun it is for me. We issue an invitation. Nobody is required to do it.”

The slowest to get involved were engineers from a Swedish telecom. “But by the time they got to the performances they were over the top.”

Sometimes Face the Music’s songs are the centerpiece of a corporate show. For instance, for the finals of an International Six Sigma competition in Phoenix, where the audience dwindles after each of the 18 boring presentations, Kwiecinski sprinkled the presentations with seven blues ditties. “We kept the crowd, because they didn’t want to miss the next song,” he says.

Kwiecinski attributes his coaching talent to his father, who was good at getting people to laugh at themselves, at telling a joke, or doing a running commentary on a difficult situation. “From him I learned how to have a detached perspective rather than just being in a situation.”

Though his father was a foreman in a print shop in South Bend, Indiana, Kwiecinski and his six siblings grew up expecting to go to college. After graduating from Notre Dame in 1978, Kwiecinski worked as a project manager for Ford Motor Company in Livonia, Michigan. “I got a dose of corporate speak,” he says. “As I was saving my money to quit, I got laid off. So I retired at the age of 26 and took a couple of years off, traveling, writing, and painting.”

He moved to New York, playing in rock and roll bands at night, working by day as a construction manager. When he got married, moved upstate, and he and his wife had a baby, “it was time to get serious.”

Kwiecinski entered the consulting field earning his professional certified coach credit with the International Coach Federation. Then he met Alain Cordon, founder of MetaSystems in France. Cordon uses a systems approach based on a holographic perception of the universe. Kwiecinski and his wife, Lisa Murell, trained with Cordon and founded the U.S. office of MetaSystems, starting out with the usual kinds of participatory training events, such as ropes courses. After an adhoc guitar-playing jam session at a corporate party in Paris, Kwiecinski and a colleague, Mitchell Ditkoff, realized they might be able to turn the blues into gold and formed Face the Music in 1999 (www.facethemusicblues.com, or 845-687-2100.

The December 11 event is a showcase for human resources professionals who might want to book the group, but the workshops generally cost from $7,500 to $30,000. The clients include Pfizer, Aventis, Allstate, Ernst & Young, Target, Moen, AstraZeneca, and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Face the Music sessions have triggered some interesting breakthroughs. At a session for Panasonic, the assistant to the group’s leader declined to participate. Told that she had to lead by example, she confessed that she had performance anxiety, that she was afraid even to talk in front of people. Urged along, she did sing. “It was a big breakthrough, and afterward she did karaoke for the first time in her life,” he says.

For a Con Edison session, a cancer survivor, just back from sick leave, wanted to thank everyone with a song. “The place melted. She was a gospel singer,” says Kwiecinski. “Rarely does anyone get to experience something like that, authentic emotion, at a work event.”

—Barbara Fox

Wednesday, December 12

Energy Conference

In July Governor Jon Corzine signed an ambitious piece of legislation aimed at reducing New Jersey’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050.

The signing makes New Jersey the third state, following California and New York, to officially set emissions standards and deadlines to achieve them. It also marks the first time in 12 years that New Jersey has taken a hard look at the future of its energy picture.

But what does it mean for the state’s energy suppliers? How can those companies charged with providing power meet and still prosper in the face of such far-reaching ideals? And how, in the end, does it affect consumers faced with mounting heating bills and escalating prices at the pump?

The topic of New Jersey’s energy future, from green initiatives to grid demands, and from residential needs to security, will be discussed by some of the state’s most powerful energy leaders when the New Jersey Chamber hosts a half-day energy summit at the New Brunswick Hyatt on Wednesday, December 12, at 8:30 a.m. Cost: $75. The New Jersey Petroleum Council, along with its parent organization, the American Petroleum Institute (API), is a major sponsor. Register online at www.njchamber.com

Numerous CEOs and energy leaders will discuss how to provide a stable supply of oil, natural gas, and all forms of energy to every sector of the economy. John B. Troutman, president of BP Gas Americas, keynotes the luncheon.

An economists’ roundtable, detailing the economic impact of energy on New Jersey, will include Joseph Seneca, professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy; John Felmy, chief economist for API; and Daniel Brusstar, vice president of energy research at the New York Mercantile Exchange. Michael Aron, senior political correspondent for NJN Public Television, will be the moderator.

Guests include Ralph LaRossa of PSE&G; Laurence Downes of New Jersey Natural Gas Co.; Steve Morgan of JCP&L – A FirstEnergy Company; W.C.W. (Willie) Chiang of ConocoPhillips; Jeanne Fox, president of the state Board of Public Utilities; and Jane Pajak, northeast district leader for Colonial Pipeline. James Benton, executive director of the New Jersey Petroleum Council, will be the moderator.

Other speakers include API President Red Cavaney; Emil Jacobs, vice president of research and development at ExxonMobil;, Louis Magazzu, president of the NJ Association of Counties; James W. Robinson, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and Meryl Frank, mayor of Highland Park, who is also co-chair of the NJ State League of Municipalities’ Mayor’s Committee for a Green Future.

Keeping Goals In Balance

After years of sales experience, Jeff Callahan, president and chief executive officer of Sales Strategies and Solutions Inc., got tired of being across the continent monitoring 18 field salespeople every time his children hit their significant milestones. So, six years ago, when his wife was pregnant with their third child, he decided to go out on his own.

Building on what he liked and was good at — selling, leading people, and establishing credibility with current and prospective customers — he started a sales development company and partnered with the Sandler Sales Institute, an international sales training company with close to 200 locations in the United States, as an authorized licensee.

As he started planning for his new career, Callahan realized he had two choices. The first was to develop his own curriculum and program by putting down on paper everything he had learned over the years. But that would require lawyers, copyrighting, publishers, a warehouse, and regular editorial updates.

The second approach, which he opted for, was to find a business that reflected his own approach and values. That was when he founded Sandler.

“When I want a sales training program, they send beautiful, professional materials, with the same process I would have put on paper anyway and one or two things I wouldn’t have thought up,” says Callahan. Sandler also provides the bells and whistles — audio CDs, DVDs, workbooks, Internet reinforcement. And Callahan can do his own editing, within specified guidelines.

Callahan recently opened his fifth location of Sales Strategies and Solutions on Quakerbridge Road in Mercerville. He also has an office at Princeton Forrestal Village, plus locations in Freehold and Morristown. He employs five salespeople and two-and-a-half administrators.

Callahan often speaks on crafting the ideal sales picture. His next workshop, “Goal Setting and Life Balance,” will be held on Friday, December 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Princeton Forrestal Village, 116 Village Boulevard, Suite 200. For more information and to register, go to www.RegOnline.com/Goals, or call 800-814-5333.

As a child, Callahan lived wherever his father was stationed — in Germany, Japan, and Australia. When stateside, they usually returned to Annapolis, Maryland, where his father continued to work for the federal government as a civilian. Callahan’s 1981 bachelor’s degree in hearing and speech sciences and 1983 master’s degree in audiology, both from the University of Maryland, did not yield the kind of position that maintained his interest.

“I found myself sitting in the basement of a hospital twisting dials and testing hearing and hearing aids,” he says. So after returning to school for a doctorate in business administration from Concordia College, he joined Bausch & Lomb as an entry-level salesperson in its new hearing aid business. Over nine years he climbed the corporate ladder, moving to vice president of sales and marketing.

Then he went to a startup in Silicon Valley, Resound. Using a technology developed at Bell Labs, it was the first company to introduce computerized hearing aids to the marketplace. In six years he learned a lot about sales, sales management, and both large and smaller businesses, but then it was time to quit commuting to California and hang out his own shingle.

Callahan’s company does sales and sales-management training as well as executive coaching. For many successful salespeople, the next career step is sales management, one for which they are usually unprepared.

“Most companies pick their most successful salesperson and promote him — congratulations, you are the sales manager!” says Callahan. “The first thing you have to do is replace yourself with a person as good as you are and will deliver the same results.”

This means the new sales chief is responsible for mentoring and coaching his former buddies and must also hold them accountable. People they were trading war stories with yesterday may have to be told their performance is under par, and if they don’t improve, they can expect probation or may even be let go.

Callahan believes that companies by and large don’t have effective training procedures for new managers, and he offers a few suggestions for fledgling managers about how to successfully hire, develop, and hold accountable their sales reports:

Assess skills at the front end of the recruiting process. Callahan suggests that sales managers select among four or five online tools to assess candidates before the interview. These tools assess behavioral skills in areas like prospecting, closing sales, follow-up, and building rapport and trust. They can save valuable time, either by ruling out a candidate or by pointing to inconsistencies.

“Most salespeople know what you want to hear and the picture they want to paint,” says Callahan. Online surveys, however, probe potential weaknesses and point up any inconsistencies in the person’s answers. “They have been tested and evaluated and are difficult to fool,” he explains. The results of the assessment will guide the interviewer in the type of questions to ask the candidate.

Develop a process for coaching and mentoring. Callahan emphasizes the importance of having a formal, written prebriefing and debriefing process that a manager uses on the road with salespeople or in telephone consultations. Questions might include: What kind of qualifying have you done with the prospect up to this point? What kinds of questions have you asked the prospect to uncover issues? Can you define these issues in writing? Based on what the prospect needs or wants, is the company a good fit for the products or services we represent?

“Whenever you try to fit a square peg into a round hole, it always comes back to haunt you,” says Callahan.

The sales manager must also ensure that the salesperson gets critical make-or-break information early in the sales process — specifically, whether the prospect has any budgetary concerns and what decision-making process the company will go through in evaluating a purchase.

“Talk about price early and do a lot of qualifying before you give a presentation,” Callahan advises. “Far too many salespeople show up and ask, ‘Where can I plug in my laptop — I have a PowerPoint presentation that will knock your socks off,’” he says. After an hour-and-a-half presentation, they reveal the price.

Despite sayings rampant in the sales world like, “If they pulse, I can sell them” or “If they can fog a mirror, you ought to be able to close a deal,” an essential part of good selling is recognizing that everyone on the planet is not a prospect, says Callahan.

Hold salespeople accountable by setting benchmarks and tracking and measuring sales behavior. Using an automated program that offers reports on a daily or weekly basis, a sales manager will get timely data that answers the following questions: How many times did salespeople call a prospect or knock on a potential client’s door? How many times did that call or visit result in a conversation with a person who has decision-making authority? How many times did conversations with the right person lead to a qualified first appointment? How many times did that first appointment, after determining the customer was a good fit, lead to a second qualified appointment? How many networking events or trade shows did the salespeople attend, and how did they track the results of these events (for example, with a spreadsheet)?

When salespeople take five minutes at the end of a day or week to plug in this data, sales managers will have complete data on Monday morning on sales performance, both by the team and individual salespeople, that provides clues to potential issues.

“A written process points out problems immediately in real time,” says Callahan, “and the sales manager can respond quickly before something becomes a major issue.”

Take, for example, a salesperson who is scared to make cold calls on the telephone — if this is not dealt with immediately, the salesperson will be out the door, and the company may lose someone who otherwise has great potential.

Many of the companies Callahan has dealt with are not effectively tracking these sales behaviors.

“You’d be shocked,” he says. “Either they don’t look at this as specifically as we advocate, and of the companies who do, it is often not effective and is an absolute waste of time. Most know they are supposed to pay attention but precious few have a written process for doing so.” —Michele Alperin

Tax Help Needed

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refunds, worth up to $4,716 per household, can help low-wage earners reduce the big gap between their income and housing costs. But the IRS estimates that 15-20 percent of eligible individuals do not file to get the refunds.

The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness seeks volunteers to staff free tax preparation sites. “By volunteering four to eight hours per week, you will help low-income families and individuals file free for tax refunds that will make a large difference in their lives,” says Tarry Truitt of the alliance.

The alliance joins the Greater Trenton Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Asset Building Coalition to give a 24-hour training program, starting Saturday, December 8, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., The program continues on Friday and Saturday, December 14 and 15, and other training times can be arranged. To sign up call Truitt at 609-844-1008 or E-mail: ttruitt@merceralliance.org

At the county’s free tax sites last year there was a 38-percent increase in filings and a 157-percent increase in total refunds. The coalition hopes to increase the filings by 10 percent.

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