4 Steps to Successful Vendor Management

A good vendor can be a Godsend.  A bad vendor can ruin your life.  But never fear, there are some easy ways to select and maintain a vendor.

Image result for designer cartoonKnow Where to Find Professionals

Finding professional vendors in the first place can be tough.  I highly recommend www.thumbtack.com for finding new vendors.  You simply submit your project requirements, deadlines and budget.  You pay nothing to submit a project.  Then, within minutes, vendors are responding with proposals and pricing.  There is no commitment to hire anyone.  You can read reviews, see their portfolio and ask follow up questions.

I have used this to hire bands for parties, caterers for grand openings and photographers in cities I can’t visit.  Highly recommend it.

Ask to See Their Portfolio

Most vendors worth their salt will show you their portfolio off the bat.  If they hesitate, move on.  Nothing to see here.  They’re not ready to be in the big leagues and you can’t afford to take that type of gamble.

Vendors that will likely have some sort of portfolio of work to share include:

  • Freelance writers
  • Graphic designers
  • Giveaway manufacturers
  • Printers
  • Developers
  • Photographers
  • Anyone who calls themselves a “marketer”

Be critical when reviewing portfolios.  Don’t just accept good as good enough.  Think carefully about what you need and can afford.  If $10 more an hour gets you 10x the qualify, pay it.

Make It Obvious Why Professionals are Worth the Investment

It is not uncommon to start at a job that is not used to paying for vendors at all.  They expect to do everything in-house.  You may have to start off by doing a lot yourself.  But once you’ve proven that out, I recommend calling your favorite photographer, graphic designer, developer – whomever – and ask them to do a trial project for you.  You do your version, they do their’s.

Here’s an example of when I’ve done this myself.  Guess which one was professionally done.  I rarely have to explain the value of vendors anymore.

Professional Comparison

Keep Your Friends Close and a Good Vendor Closer

Eventually you’re going to start a new job.  Established marketers usually have a stable of vendors they prefer to work with.  Why?  They’ve cultivated those relationships carefully over many years that are built on trust, mutual admiration, and consistency.

Image result for designer cartoonIf you find a vendor that you work well with, fits your budget and does consistently strong work, keep them.

But it goes both ways.  I know you’re paying for their time, but a professional relationship goes far beyond money.  If it were just about the money your boss could scream at you any time they liked.  But they can’t if they want you to continue to show up to work.

The key is to treat your vendors like coworkers.  Don’t be afraid to assign work, but don’t jerk about it.  Have clear deadlines and expectations and then say thank you when they’re done.  Did they go above and beyond at the last minute while on their family vacation?  A hand-written thank you note or a $5 Starbucks gift card could go a long way to preserving the professional relationship.

Another way to preserve a strong working relationship is establishing a “scratch my back” agreement.  Ask them if you could create some sort of referral credit.  If you refer new clients to them, you get a little discount in your next bill.  Everybody wins.

3 Metrics Every B2B Marketer Should Know

Razzled-but-not-dazzled“When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind: it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science.”
– Sr. William Thomas, Lord Kelvin

The number one thing that has set me apart from other marketers throughout my career is my ability, and willingness, to do math.  It is not enough to make things look pretty or budget for events.  You must be able to express very clear and useful metrics that drive a business forward.  Here are 3 that I believe every marketer should know off the top of their head if ever asked.

ROI: Return on Investment

ROI

This is the basic of the basic.  You should be able to rattle off exactly what your ROI is for major initiatives and for your year overall.  Although we all know this is very basic, most marketers don’t actually bother to calculate it or share it.

If you have a negative ROI it could lead to negative consequences.  However, if you can get ahead of the question, report your negative ROI, and outline causes for this you will, most likely, be viewed as a professional in the eyes of your management.  Entry level marketers hide bad metrics.  Professionals address them head on.

Equity Value Creation

This equation literally tells the business how much more valuable you’ve made it.  Not how much money you’ve made it, but how much you’ve increased the company’s value.

This is a tough concept for many marketers.  We focus on the bottom line and how much deals are worth.  But how much is the company worth?  If you CEO decided to put the company on the market, how much more valuable have you made it?

This is a critical metric for marketers for two reasons:

  1. You’re communicating how your influenced deals affect the attractiveness of the company directly
  2. You’re communicating how your more fluffy work, like brand awareness and sales enablement, are contributing to the overall value of the company – if not the quarterly sales directly.

Equity Value Creation Formula

Let’s break this down:

  • Monthly Revenue – look at how much your influenced deals bill on a monthly basis.  If you’re measuring something like “brand awareness” look at your monthly revenue a year ago and compare it to now.  Calculate the difference.
  • Expense Ratio – What percentage of your revenue goes to cover expenses?  If you don’t know, a good estimate is 50-60%.  Expenses cover keeping the lights on, employees’ salaries, paying contractors, etc.
  • Multiplier – A multiplier tells a potential buyer of your company how much more than your annual profits they need to purchase you.  This one is tricky.  If your company is not publicaly traded, you likely don’t know what your multiplier is.

    Here are a few good rules of thumb I got from BusinessTown:

    • An extremely well-established and steady business with a rock-solid market position, whose continued earnings will not be dependent upon a strong management team:
      a multiple of 8 to 10.
    • An established business with a good market position, with some competitive pressures and some swings in earnings, requiring continual management attention:
      a multiple of 5 to 7.
    • An established business with no significant competitive advantages, stiff competition, few hard assets, and heavy dependency upon management’s skills for success:
      a multiple of 2 to 4.
    • A small, personal service business where the new owner will be the only, or one of the only, professional service providers:
a multiple of 1.

Essentially this equation takes your Annual Profits x your company’s multiplier and generates the value of the company if someone wanted to buy it.  You can use this to communicate how much more valuable your company is now that marketing is doing x, y or z.

NPV: Net Present Value

“A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.”

A dollar today is worth more than a dollar you make a year from now.  Marketers often report metrics based on the total value of a deal, which makes sense.  But to take your marketing game to the next level, start reporting on NPV instead.  Net Present Value is how much the deal is worth today.  For B2B marketers we often deal with more expensive, longer term solutions.   It could be years before our company realizes the actual full revenue from a sale.  By calculating your ROIs with NPV instead of total deal you’re indicating to your leadership that you understand the deal loses value the longer it lasts.  It shows you’re a professional.

Here is the actual equation:

Image result for npv formula

But only college students do it that way.  If your CRM doesn’t already calculate NPV for you, here’s a website that will do it for you.  There is an equation to calculate your discount rate, but here’s a cheat I found online for all our sanity:

  • 10% for public companies
  • 15% for private companies that are scaling predictably (say above $10m in ARR, and growing greater than 40% year on year)
  • 20% for private companies that have not yet reached scale and predictable growth

That being said, most CRMs can do it for you.  Just customize your opportunity page to include the field.

Portfolio Feature: zColo Magazine – Spring 2017 Edition

Cover_Issue2I have been MIA for a while now.  This is mostly due to my deep involvement in producing the 2nd zColo Magazine for work.  This has been a labor of love – as well as surely taking years off my life.

I invite you to peruse the magazine’s online version.  Feel free to leave me any questions in the comment section below.

I used Lucid Press to produce the magazine.  I find it fairly simple to work with, but creating an online magazine and converting it to print can be a pain.  They do allow InDesign uploads in BETA version if you’re exploring a digital content strategy of your own.

In this edition I chose to highlight my organization’s Colorado roots as the cover story, but I also highlighted some other recent professional projects.  Namely I did a visual tour of our latest Dallas data center, which I redesigned from the bottom up.  This foray into interior design was so much fun, but it was definitely challenging to find a balance between my design priorities and accomplishing zColo’s economic goals.  I’m pretty proud of the outcome, I must say.

Women in Technology and Identifying Sponsors

I am planning for my upcoming quarter – as I tend to do.  While looking at events coming up next quarter that I want my product group involved in, I came across the Colorado Technology Association’s annual Women in Technology Conference.

My company, Zayo Group, is extremely involved with the Colorado Technology Association and is a proud sponsor of this conference.  I had the pleasure of attending this conference last year, with Zayo, and was blown away by the inspiring and incredible women I met there.

Speakers last year included the CFO of Comcast, VP of Analytics & Data Products at Ibotta, and VP of Risk Management & Managed Cloud Services at Oracle – among many others.  All of the speakers were incredible women who blew straight through the glass ceiling and are killing it in traditionally male fields.

This, of course, makes me think about marketing – which continues to leverage science more and more each year.  Marketing is largely even when it comes to gender ratios – which is really special.  I know I am fortunate to work in a field where my gender isn’t an issue at a company that values women’s contributions.  This is not always the case.

I wanted to share one of the takeaways from last year’s conference that stuck out to me, as many of you may not be as fortunate as I.

There is a difference between a mentor and a sponsor.

Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, once said, “There’s a special place in hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.”

There was a small panel discussion at this event that looked at exactly what the difference is between a mentor and a sponsor.  A mentor helps you along with advise and direction.  A sponsor pulls you up with them.  They help uncover opportunities for you to move up into.

While doing some research on this subject I stumbled upon a New York Times article on the very subject.  Sylvia Ann Hewlett, CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation in Manhattan and author of Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor writes, “To get ahead, women need to acquire a sponsor – a powerfully positioned companion – to help them escape the “marzipan layer,” that sticky middle slice of management where so many driven and talented women languish.”

She continues,

“Our two-year study, which sampled some 12,000 men and women in white-collar occupations across the United States and Britain, shows how sponsorship, unlike mentorship… makes a measurable difference in career progress… A sponsor can lean in on a woman’s behalf, apprising others of her exceptional performance and keeping her on the fast track.  With such a person – male or female – in her corner, our data shows, a woman is more likely to ask for a big opportunity, to seek a raise and to be satisfied with her rate of advancement.”

Hewlett does caution that sponsorship is a two-way street.  If someone’s going to stick their neck out for you, you’ve got to deliver fully every time.  You have to make them look good.  Otherwise you tarnish your brand and theirs.

At the conference, our table’s “luminary”, Roberta Robinette President — AT&T Colorado, lead a discussion about what the panel covered and stated that all of the sponsors in her career have been men – never women.    I think she had a point.  The only true sponsor I have ever had was a former male vice president.  That’s it.

How often are we really building each other up?  Not just emotionally, but professionally?  Rather than fighting to be the only woman at the table, why don’t we fight together?  It just seems a lot more productive if you ask me.

Join me in Denver for screening of “She Started It” and panel discussion

 

I have the great honor of moderating a discussion with some of Denver’s most inspiring women in technology following a screening of She Started It.  This event is sponsored by Zayo.

March 29, 2017
6:00 PM
General Assembly at WeWork LoHi
Register Here

After the film, the panel of female leaders will discuss:

  • The issues women in tech face today
  • Solutions, ideas, and ways to implement change
  • Unique opportunities for women in tech

“Launched in 2013, She Started It is a feature length documentary film on women tech entrepreneurs, shot on location in Silicon Valley, NYC, Europe, Vietnam, Mississippi & more, that aims to highlight successful role models for young women. It is the first film to show the behind the scenes of running a tech start-up as a young woman.” Source

This Women In Tech event is free to the public.  You can register here.

wit-she-started-it-social-banner-2

Tradeshow 101: Be the Party

Each year thousands of people flock to Las Vegas, Orlando, New Orleans and hundreds of other cities to attend conventions.  For them, it is the highlight of their year.  Every day they grind through their 9 to 5 – working well more than 40 hours a week.

But once a year their company sends them to some convention where they are expected to ignore their email and learn something.  But for the attendee this is half learning – half vacation.

So why would anyone want to talk to this guy on their vacation?

Image result for boring tradeshow booth

As the one running the booth it is your job to be the party.  People want to hang out with the fun people.  Don’t be boring.

Here are a few things I do in order to attract those looking to have fun:

  1. No cell phones.  Put them away.  You don’t need them.  Whatever it is can wait.  Your company has dropped thousands of dollars on this event.  Be present and hide your phone.
  2. Get a song stuck in your head.  If you have a fun song stuck in your head it will keep your energy up.  The faster the tempo, the better.  I actually dance at my booths to the song in my head.  People give me weird looks, but it’s usually like “I want whatever she’s having.”  Their on vacation.  Why wouldn’t they?  You would not believe how many people will walk up and start dancing with me without an invite.  My go to is “Conga” by Miami Sound Machine.  Find one that works for you.
  3. Smile.  It seems like a simple thing, but I see it all the time.  People flew across the country to represent their company at the conference and they look miserable.  No one wants to party with the depressed guy who only smiles when you walk up.  Smile like you’re having the time of your life and people will literally cross the room to say hi.

Remember, they’re there to learn and blow off some steam.  So be the party and they will come to you.

And now, for some dancing inspiration…

Tradeshow 101: How to Jedi Mind Trick Someone to Come to Your Booth

Between shipping, giveaways and printing, you can easily drop tens of thousands of dollars on a tradeshow.  Other than television commercials or forgotten PPC campaigns, they are one of the most expensive things a B2B marketer can do.  So generating a positive ROI is paramount.

How do you do it?

To start with, you’re probably going to need to get some leads at the booth.  In order to do that you need to get people to go to your booth.  But everyone is walking by, avoiding eye contact and refusing to come say hi.

Here’s how you get people to come to your booth against their will.

Image result for jedi mind trick gif

“You want to hear my elevator pitch.”

You can jedi mind trick someone into stopping at your booth in 2 simple steps:

  1. Say hello
  2. Shake their hand

It’s that simple.

Step 1: Say Hello

Visualize the convention aisle.  It is wide and most likely you’re facing a similarly sized booth on the other side.  Now cut it in half.  Any person walking on the opposite side of the aisle is off limits.  They’re too far away.  Let them go.

Everyone on your side of the aisle is fair game.  They are in your territory.

Stand at the edge of your booth’s carpet line – one arm’s length from the aisle.

Pro Tip: No one sits at the booth.  Ever.

Image result for compliment memeAs people walk into your territory (directly in front of the carpet), compliment them.  Say something specific and honest.

“I like your shoes.”
“I like your dress.”
“Sweet tie.”
“You are owning that hat!”

Whatever.  Make it genuine and specific.  If you can’t do that, you probably shouldn’t be working the booth at all.

People will instinctively stop, examine whatever you complimented, and then make eye contact to say thank you.  Test it out if you don’t believe me.  Tell someone at work, as their walking past, “I like your [insert piece of clothing].”  They will stop, look at what you are complimenting, and then look at you to say thank you.

Why?

People examine what they’re wearing because an unexpected compliment makes them Image result for compliment giftake pause to see why they are receiving it.  Many won’t remember immediately what tie they wore that day so they have to check.
Then they look at you to say thank you because they’re mamas’ would smack them up side the head if they didn’t. They were raised that the proper response to a compliment is “thank you”.

Step 2: Shake Their Hand

Image result for shaking handsAs soon as you have made eye contact it’s time to stick out your hand. You have their attention.  Time to reel them in.

Stick our your hand as if to shake hands and wait.  Don’t move.

You can experiment with this at the office too.  Stick out your hand to a stranger and see if they shake it.  I’ll bet you a dollar they do.

Why?

Because since you were a baby people have been walking up to you and shaking your hand.  It is so ingrained in your day-to-day routine that it is motor memory at this point.  It is considered painfully rude to ignore someone’s outstretched hand and you do it unconsciously.

So just wait.  95% of the time, they will shake your hand back.  It feels weird not to.

Then you can direct them onto your booth carpeting and go into your elevator pitch.

Don’t believe it works?  This is me pulling in 7 people at once by doing exactly this.  Say hello and shake their hand. Repeat. Works like a charm.

NWCDC Booth

Bringing in a crowd