Corrections or additions?
This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the November 6, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
The State of NJ Tech
Prognosticators are always saying that New Jersey can
prosper if it supports high tech companies, and the New Jersey
Council encourages such opinions. On Tuesday, November 12, in fact,
the NJTC sponsors two different predictive panels. One, the
New Jersey Technology Outlook, is in the morning in Mount Laurel,
and it will predict growth over the next six months. The other is
the Pricewaterhouse Coopers study of Internet computing businesses,
and it will make two-year projections. It will be held in the
"Technology remains a sector of the state economy with tremendous
potential for growth," says
Rutgers School of Business at Camden. He moderates the panel
on the status of four technology sectors — life sciences,
information technology, and electronics — and the predictions
for growth over the next six months. It will be held at 8 a.m. at
the Regency Palace Hotel and Conference Center in Mount Laurel. Cost:
on Science and Technology, will provide the overview.
COO of the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, will
address the life sciences industry.
Martin Technology Services in Cherry Hill will discuss the
Solutions will analyze the information technology industry.
Olson, CEO of Sensors Unlimited in Princeton, will discuss the
The same day at 4 p.m., NJTC co-sponsors "Emerging Patterns of
Internet Computing," at the Sheraton Edison, 125 Raritan Center
Parkway. It will discuss innovations in microprocessors, server
storage networks, resource management, among other areas. This seminar
will analyze technologies as commodities, not only at the level of
an individual business but also at a global level.
Forecast Book prepared by Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Call 856-787-9700.
You know the swaggering, confident guy, the salesman
in the Armani suit with the slicked-back hair? The James Bond of
if you will. Chances are, says
bested by a shambling Columbo type every time. Counter-intuitive yes,
but as Levine lays out his hypothesis — backed by research and
experience — it makes perfect sense.
Levine, owner of the Sales Factor, a Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, sales
consulting and staff augmentation company, speaks on "Five Radical
Concepts in Selling" on Wednesday, November 13, at 8 a.m. at a
meeting of GetContactX at the Palmer Inn. Cost: $69 for members, $99
for others. Register at www.GetContactX.com
Levine, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts (Class of 1975),
began his professional life as a program director for emotionally
disturbed children. He left after five years, he quips, because he
"wanted to earn a five-figure salary."
He took some technology courses, and moved into Boston’s hot tech
industry. In 1980 he began selling, eventually running tech sales
forces of as many as 500 people. Next he ran two tech companies. One,
Softmart, a Philadelphia-area company, helped companies to manage
their software licensing agreements. The other, Savoir, a San
company, sold mid-range hardware systems for IBM, NCR, and Unisys.
In 1999, tired of moving around and seeing the need for companies
to ramp up sales in a slowing market, he founded Sales Factor
a company that now has five full-time employees.
"Businesses are focused on cutting costs," he says. "There
are lay-offs and more lay-offs, but there is a law of diminishing
returns. They have cut everything and everyone, but they are not
revenue." At some point, he declares, "you have to sell your
way out of it."
Easier said than done, he acknowledges. In the 1980s and ’90s, he
observes, so many sales organizations were successful. Now, sales
professionals in these same organizations are saying "`my Rolodex
doesn’t work anymore."
Clearly, it is time for desperate measures. So, does Levine offer
pep talks, inspirational posters, fight songs? No, he is pushing (ever
so gently) a totally laid-back approach, heavy on listening, and
lacking any hint of strong arm tactics. His own style is witty and
understated, suggesting perhaps a bright, mild-mannered academic.
There is nary a trace of the attributes one associates with, say,
an individual who would really, really like to sell you a solid Chevy
with only 99,000 miles on the odometer.
Yet, he swears his sales techniques are far more effective than those
of his more bellicose peers. Here is his advice on emulating his
salespeople than are extroverts, says Levine, is that they are better
listeners. While extroverts speak up frequently, running every thought
that comes into their heads through their mouths, introverts tend
to sit back, test their opinions silently, and then make a suggestion.
Introverts talk less, and listen more. And who can resist the appeal
of talking? Prospects like people who give them an opportunity to
talk, and liking someone is most often a prerequisite to giving him
out salespeople, says Levine. Four words into a spiel, and they’ve
got you. Once detected, the salesperson is almost invariably told
that the boss is "in a meeting."
Levine has found a loophole. He allows the receptionist to help him.
"These are people who have no control over anything," he says.
In asking — oh, so subtly — for their help, he is handing
He might say, "`I received a request from your department, but
I’m not sure who sent it. It might be a Mr. Cooper, or a Ms. Cohen.
Not sure. Hmmmmm.’" At this point, the receptionist might suggest
a name, or a title, or might even put him through.
— on the phone or in person — Levine does not bombard him
with information. Quite the contrary. There are two thoughts behind
this strategy. For one thing, he points out, people hate to have reams
on information shot at them. Most people just shut down and want the
presentation to be over.
His other thought is a variation on the receptionist strategy. People,
naturally wanting to help, will ask for information to aid a person
who may need a hand. For this reason, Levine tends not to give his
name, his affiliation, or any information about what he might want
to sell. He lets his prey tease it out of him.
"I left some brochures at the desk. You’re probably not
though," is the sort of approach. It has induced prospects to
ask him his name, his business, the nature of his products. It is
important to feed these tidbits little by little, and only as
Shift into sales mode, says Levine, and the mood is shot. Instantly.
And it’s true in sales. Push, and the beloved, the recalcitrant teen,
and the prospect all will back away. It’s practically a law of
Lean back, and all will have to fight an impulse to dive into your
As an example, and an extreme one at that, Levine talks about what
happened when a client he had wooed for six weeks "went dark."
He explains that this expression is used by salespeople to describe
what happens when a prospect stops returning calls, claims to be
every day of the month, or otherwise makes it clear he wants to remain
forever unavailable to the salesperson.
In this case, Levine guessed that the prospect was ambivalent about
the deal, and was embarrassed to see him because he had taken up so
much of his time. Levine called, and left a message. He said "`My
intuition tells me you’ve probably resolved your issues, and that’s
fine." He said perhaps the two could meet again in the New Year.
"I threw in the towel," says Levine. "I told him `the
date is off.’"
The prospect, who had been evading him, called the very next day,
saying that, no, his issues were not resolved, and he still might
be interested in buying. "As soon as I gave him permission to
say no," Levine recounts, "he felt comfortable calling."
hurry to the finish risk blowing the whole deal. "It’s
says Levine. "It’s small steps. If you go for the close, and lose
it, it’s over." Instead, draw the prospect in little-by-little,
or better yet, let him draw you in, requesting more and more
asking about any special deals.
salesperson is going to close every sale. Often, in this unforgiving
climate, says Levine, a salesperson will be given five leads and told
he had better close them — or else. Better, far better, he says,
to have 50 leads.
One way for companies to keep the funnel full, he says, is to hire
telemarketers to do nothing but call all day long, and hand leads
to the salespeople. Salespeople hate to make calls, he says, and often
aren’t very good at it. A dedicated telemarketing staff is able to
organize calls, keep track of callbacks, fax out information, and
be available all day long to answer questions.
hard to get, to be a Columbo, blending in with the background, and
seeming to ask for something only as an afterthought.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.