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Too Many Alpha-Males

In the wild, there is only one true alpha male in the pack. In the professional cycling peloton, there a many – but you have to wonder how many there can be on a single team. I read this interview of Alberto Contador and he sounded very much like the leader of the Astana team. A man who has matured greatly over the last 24 months of building a name for himself. A man who thinks Lance Armstrong is going to be his domestique in this year’s Tour de France.

Q: How is Astana looking in 2009?
AC: The team this year is very good and we’ve made some important reinforcements. Of Haimar Zubeldia, you already know of his quality and we don’t need words. He can have a fundamental role in three-week tours. Another big last-minute score has been the arrival of Popovych. He worked hard during the 2007 Tour and he’s very happy to be able to come back with us. Then there are other riders, like Jesús Hernández, who I normally train with, who I believe this year will make a big improvement and it will be noticed by the team.

Granted the next question asked him specifically about Lance Armstrong. Maybe he had a bet going with his home boys as to how many questions he would be asked before the question of Lance arose.
Read more of the interview -> VeloNews – Contador ready to kick-start season

Thank You for Serving Our Country

Today is Veteran’s Day in America. If you served, thanks for keeping this the land of the free by being one of the brave.

Communication is the Answer

What single thing can you do to make people more satisfied in their interactions with you. I assert it is communication. It can’t simply be conversation – but needs to be thoughtful interaction. Follow up on a previous question or direction. Provide insightful information on how a transaction is progressing. Give proactive notification when something happens that adds risk to a transaction completing.
This is a tale of two eBay experiences. I purchased two items using “Buy it now” last Sunday, November 2nd. For one item, I received an email a couple of days later that it shipped along with the tracking number. Friday, the item arrived. The other item I have received no communication from the seller on, and have even tried to initiate email communications with the seller to no avail. I see feedback showing up for this seller on similar items, and some of the feedback indicates poor communication, so at this point I don’t have reason to believe I’m screwed. I’m merely concerned. And the fact of the matter is that a simple email saying “I shipped your item today via USPS parcel post” would satisfy me and give me a window to look for a package. Communication would increase my satisfaction greatly.
The same goes for the workplace. Lack of communication can zap employee morale and cause stakeholders to lose confidence in leaders. Check out this article published today in the Atlanta Business Chronicle -> Workers’ morale hurt most by communication failures.
Whether you are entering into a transactional exchange for goods, in the workplace, or thinking of buying a motorcycle at home -> crank up the communication a bit and the needs of your stakeholders are likely to be better met.

Tomorrow is a New Day

Sunrise Over Mirror Lake

Originally uploaded by Mike’s Adventures.

I had a crappy run today. I reached a point somewhere after mile 10 where my quads hurt, the wind was demoralizing, and it was just time to bag it. I guess the migraine Friday night plus the 10k race yesterday added up and sabotaged my shot at 20 miles today.

I am not making excuses. There are some days that just aren’t your day. And if you have to realize that and learn from them. Sometimes they are beyond your control (migraine) and sometimes they are within your control (scheduling a 10k race the day before a 20 mile run).

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. And that was part of the reason I wanted to run today. It might rain the next time I try to run long. Work may interfere. There are a whole host of events that could conspire against me. But there are a whole host of things I can do right.

Tomorrow is a new day. I will make the best of it.

Sales Force Management as a Barrier to Customer Satisfaction

During the first 10 years or so of my programming career, a number of my projects revolved around sales force automation. At Windsor Group, I worked on tools that would make our territory managers more competitive. At GE Capital Consulting, I worked on a couple of client engagements that involved customizing a sales force automation tool called Overquota. Eventually at Solarcom, we built our own tool in house, based on best practices that we had developed over the years of working with these other tools.
One common thread through each of these implementations and customizations was the desire to tag a customer or prospect as belonging to a particular sales rep. For a customer, it was fairly clear that the person who first sold them something would likely own the account. With prospects, a regional approach was generally taken. Here lies the rub – for larger companies, which region do you choose: the region that contacted you, or the region where the company’s headquarters is. The response I usually saw was that it was based on the headquarters.
It straight sales organizations, that isn’t a tremendous barrier. The cost of on-site sales calls is usually transparent to the customer. In fact – they are built into the margin of the deal. If the rep comes from outside of your office’s region, you had better believe you are paying a slight premium to what a local representative would be able to offer.
What if it is not a straight sales engagement? What if professional services are involved? Here is where it gets tricky. I usually have seen it where the partner’s local presence is engaged. For a company site in Atlanta with a headquarters on the west coast, this means you as the customer are partnering with a company that is going to provide service from the far side of the country. Every flight, hotel, meal is going to add additional overhead to your engagement.
There needs to be some intelligence employed by vendors and their value added resellers to provide the best value to the customer. Staffing projects requiring onsite resources with those 3,000 miles away does not seem practical – especially when the VAR has a local presence with a presumably local talent pool.
There needs to be a focus on putting the customer’s needs first at their office location – ahead of the needs of assigning business within territorial bounds.