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Thursday
Mar062008

One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingy - telephone sales calls

ernestine.jpeg

My friend Tim Wilson over at the Savvy Technologist blog posted this little rant about vendor presentations. Go, Tim!

I've made similar observations as well about F2F sales presentations, but maybe it is time to educate those poor schmucks who do telephone cold calling. I sincerely dislike sales calls. I am a very tough sell. I am tight with the district's money. I am a born skeptic. And I am unfailing polite. Being nice to someone I can't tolerate causes cognitive dissonance which annoys me even further. 

Sales callers (whom I imagine all looking like Ernestine - yes, even the guys), here are a few tips for selling to guys like me:

1. Talk to the right person. Believe me immediately when I say that I do not select textbooks, library books, or video tapes. Yes, my office orders them, but we do not select them. I make no decisions about things like photocopiers, firewalls, servers, and online database - I only act on the recommendations of those people in the district who have the appropriate expertise and whom I trust.  Sell to the right person.

2. Tell me why I should give you my time within the first 30 seconds. Our telephones, our network, our website, our Internet filter, and our e-mail server all are working just fine. Thank you. If something was not working or I had a pressing need, I would be calling you. You've got 30 seconds to tell me how you are going to save me time, save me money, or improve learning opportunities for my students. Talk fast. Oh, and give your dumb company a name that actually means something. When you say you are calling from Matrix Optimization Apogees, you could be selling diet cola or hair restorer as far as I can tell.

3. Don't ask me how I am doing. I will tell you how I am doing. I will tell you how every tech director and every tech department employee in the entire world is doing:

I am busy. 

Unless you really want to know about my aching knees, my district's tight budget, and a troublesome co-worker, come up with a better opener.  

4. Do a little basic research and keep notes. Don't try selling me telephone service when your company doesn't serve my area. Don't offer me Internet connectivity when I am in the third year of a five year contract. Don't even bother mentioning that WIndows security system since our district is 90% Macintosh - just like it was the last time you called three months ago.

5. "Did you get the information I sent?" is a senseless question. I get even more junk mail* than I get junk phone calls. There is a convenient recycling container right by the mailboxes in our offices. Sweet.

6. Be ready to provide local references. I guarantee that my first question to you will be: "Can you give me the names of three schools in my area that use your product or service and the name of a contact in each?"  If you can't, I will have to consider myself a beta test site for your product and we should talk about how much you are willing to pay my district to do this work for you.

7. Understand the relationship public schools have with local vendors. It's the people in Mankato and in Minnesota that pay the taxes that support my schools. Anytime I can buy from that taxpayer (and parent) across the street, I will - even it means paying a small price premium for the privilege. Sorry, that is just the way we do business. Oh, an added benefit of buying locally is that if you need to find a throat to choke, it ain't out in California.

8. Know that it is sort of fun to be passive-agressive with you people. I am always nice, but that doesn't prevent me from:

  • putting you on hold and going to get coffee
  • transferring you to somebody I know isn't in the office
  • asking you to call back at a more convenient time AKA when I am out of the office

Here's my best suggestion cold callers - find a job with honor, respect and a future. Say, convenience store stick-up artist, Internet spammer, or American Idol contestant. Something you can be proud of at your kids' career day.

Don't call us; we'll call you.  rant.jpg

 

*A little bonus trivia for marketers from The Power of Intuition: And Why It’s the Biggest Myth in Business Today
By Kevin J. Clancy and Peter C. Krieg
(ChangeThis brief, February 2008)

One of the best kept secrets in American business today is that the average ROI of most marketing programs is zero or negative. Study after study, using different methodologies, approaches, and data, all come to this disappointing conclusion:

  • Nielsen reports a 95% new product failure rate.
  • The University of Michigan discovered that the average cross-industry customer satisfaction score has fallen below 75%.
  • The Marketing Science Institute determined that a 100% increase in advertising expenditures yields just a 1% increase in sales.
  • ROI measurement firm Marketing Management Analytics found that major media advertising for consumer packaged goods brands returns 54 cents on the dollar and campaigns for non-consumer packaged goods brands, 87 cents on the dollar—two losing propositions.
  • A Deutsche Bank study of packaged goods brands found that just 18% of television ad campaigns generated a positive ROI in the short-term; less than half (45%) saw any ROI payoff over the long run.
  • Copernicus observed that brand equity is in decline in 48 of 51 categories where buyers perceive the leading brands as more similar than different, and make purchase decisions based on price rather than product and service attributes.

With this kind of track record, is it any wonder that only two out of ten U.S. companies grow organically—through their marketing efforts and introduction of new products—by more than 2 or 3 percent per year?

Wednesday
Mar052008

Beginning rubric 5 - spreadsheets

This a continuation of the 2008 revision of the CODE77 rubrics - Basic level. An introduction is here.

V. Spreadsheet use (1995)
Level 1 I do not use a spreadsheet, nor can I identify any uses or features it might have which would benefit the way I work.
Level 2 I understand the use of a spreadsheet and can navigate within one. I can create a simple spreadsheet which adds a column of numbers.
Level 3 I use a spreadsheet for several applications. These spreadsheets use labels, formulas and cell references. I can change the format of the spreadsheets by changing column widths and text style. I can use the spreadsheet to make a simple graph or chart.
Level 4 I use the spreadsheet not only for my work, but have used it with students to help them improve their own data keeping and analysis skills.

V. Spreadsheet use (NETS I.A., I.B., V.C.) (2002)
Level 1 I do not use a spreadsheet, nor can I identify any uses or features it might have which would benefit the way I work.
Level 2 I understand the use of a spreadsheet and can navigate within one. I can create a simple spreadsheet that adds a column of numbers.
Level 3 I use a spreadsheet for several professional applications such as keeping a budget or analyzing student data. My spreadsheets use labels, formulas and cell references. I can change the format of the spreadsheets by changing column widths and text style. I can use the spreadsheet to make a simple graph or chart.
Level 4 I can import a spreadsheet into a word processing document or presentation program when needed. I use the spreadsheet not only for my work, but have used it with students to help them improve their own data keeping and analysis skills.

V. Spreadsheet use (NETS ?) (2008)
Level 1 I do not use a spreadsheet, nor can I identify any uses or features it might have which would benefit the way I work.
Level 2 I understand the use of a spreadsheet and can navigate within one. I can create a simple spreadsheet that adds a column of numbers. I understand the basic types of data that can be placed in cells: labels, numbers, formulas, and references.
Level 3 I use a spreadsheet for several professional applications such as keeping a budget or analyzing student data. My spreadsheets use labels, formulas and cell references. I can change the format of the spreadsheets by changing column widths and text style. I can use the spreadsheet to make a simple graph or chart. I can import and export data from a spreadsheet. I understand the difference between a workbook and a worksheet, and can create a workbook with multiple worksheets.
Level 4 I can import or link a spreadsheet into a word processing document or presentation program when needed. I can custom design a variety of graphs and charts. use the spreadsheet not only for my work, but have used it with students to help them improve their own data keeping and analysis skills. I can use cloud-based spreadsheets for collaborative and shared work.

This is an interesting rubric since in my experience, spreadsheets at their most basic level have changed very little since the days of Visicalc in the early '80s. It is among the easiest, most powerful, most feared and most underutilized tools in education. Or maybe I am just a latent math teacher.

Other time spreadsheet tasks? Next up: VI. Database use

Wednesday
Mar052008

If you missed WOW2.0 last night

Joyce (NeverEndingSearch) Valenza and I were guests on last night's Women of the Web 2.0 show talking about libraries of the future, e-books, intellectual property and a range of other topics. I don't think I've ever experienced an hour fly by so quickly!

If you missed the show, you can stream it here. Links to the resources related to the program's topic and mentioned on the show can be found here. Oh, great summary here by Cool Cat Teacher Vicki Davis who moderated the discussion.

Thanks, WOW2.0, for this chance to talk about libraries (and get in touch with my feminine side. I think it is the left one.) You are all amazing educators!

And Dr. Joyce, I always learn so much from you. Thanks.

wow2.gif