Monday, May 19, 2014

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Using Salesforce

My very first day at Backupify was also the first day I started using Salesforce.
When I informed my boss of this he asked that I take the day, watch some tutorials and then come in the next day ready to attack the phones. Attack the phones I did but, as excellent as they were, the online tutorials I found didn’t make me as efficient in the beginning as I would have liked. So, I put together a list of things I wish someone had told me when I started using Salesforce.
1. When you set a task make sure you input the time zone
This is helpful for several reasons. For one thing it helps your prioritize your day by making sure you know what time it is where you’re calling. The other benefit is you know you’re not waking up someone in San Francisco or calling someone in England at dinner time. (They hate that.)
2. Put appointments on your Google or Outlook Calendar
No matter what you’re selling, you’re probably going to have a large number of tasks and leads in your queue at any time. It can be easy to forget that you have a demonstration at 3pm or that a hot prospect requested a call tomorrow morning at 11am. Putting items with a set time in your calendar ensures that not only can you easily see when it needs to be done, you’ll even get a reminder of it right before it happens.
3. Have a separate to-do list for long-term projects
I like to describe tasks as “things that require one button to finish.” That means you either hit Send on an e-mail, Save on a proposal or simply hang up the phone. If you’re working on things with many steps (like a blog post, for example) it’s helpful to put those in a separate to-do list. This also makes it easier when you open up Salesforce and look at your tasks for the day; you know exactly which items you HAVE to get done today.
4. Add every Contact to an Account
This took me months to learn. Often when working a potential customer, the person who makes initial contact with you won’t be the person you have a follow-up call with, and that second person isn’t the one who ultimately signs your purchase order. Every time you meet a new person associated with a customer be sure to put them into Salesforce as a Contact for that Account. That way if you need to contact a specific person in the organization you don’t have to go crawling through your inbox to find the right person; you can see everyone right in Salesforce!
5. Be consistent where you put your information
Salesforce has a large number of connected objects: Leads, Contacts, Accounts, Opportunities etc. Be sure to be consistent with where you put your information. If a potential customer returns your call, you don’t want to have to keep clicking from Contact to Lead to Opp back to Contact (maybe it’s near the bottom) to find out what price you quoted them. You’ll find it doesn’t matter too much where you put the info as long as you put it in the same place every time. (I like putting it in the Opportunity because it keeps me focused on closing, but that’s just me.)
Oh, and be really nice to any admin or phone operator you speak with. That’s not really Salesforce-related but just good advice. After all, you don’t want to be introduced as “the jerk on line five” when you get transferred, do you?

5 Tips for a Great Sales Demo

Originally published on the Backupify blog on August 27th 2012
Demonstrations are by far my favorite part of the sales process. As a kid growing up my grandparents actually used to have me do demonstrations at the flea market where they worked.
Demonstrations are a great opportunity to show not only how your solution can solve a potential customer’s problem, it’s also a great chance to reinforce how passionate you are about your solution and what it does for your customers. At their best, demos give prospects the chance to see not only how your product works but also how it can provide real value to their organization.
That being said, there is absolutely NOTHING worse than a boring demonstration. Watching someone’s screen as they listlessly click through a list of features you don’t care about (“It also comes in blue.” “I hate blue.” “…well then we can also make it come in not-blue.”) is one of the worst experiences a potential buyer can endure.
In my time at Backupify I’ve come up with a few general rules about what helps a demonstration really connect with a customer.
1. Ask the prospect what they want to see
You’d be amazed at how much a prospect likes being asked what they want — and shocked at how few salespeople do it. Simply dropping an e-mail the day before saying, “Hi, I’m really looking forward to our demonstration tomorrow. If there’s anything you especially want to see or learn more about, please let me know.” Asking this question not only makes sure the sales prospect is engaged and excited about your demo, it also gives you an opportunity to dig into these requests to better understand their pain points (“I see you’re interested in our local export feature, can you tell me why that would be important for you?”) and puts you in a better position to address those needs later on.
2. Lead with your “WOW!” moments
Every product has a WOW moment. Most have several. They’re the things that make your customers recommend your product, that make them write you notes about how much you’ve helped them. It’s our natural inclination to save these until the close of the sales demo, to really end on a high note.
Start with the WOW moments. Show your prospects the things that are going to get them excited about your product. Bringing these up in the beginning is good for several reasons. It shows them the value in your product early, when they’re still paying attention. It gets them excited about your product and will get them to engage with your demonstration. Getting your prospects excited will make them responsive to you, which in turn will get YOU pumped up about how your solution is going to solve their problem.
3. Tell a story
People love stories — way more than they love lists of features. It’s why we read books instead of outlines. Being able to pull together your WOW moments into a narrative will not only help you keep your prospect engaged throughout the demo, it also allows them to better understand how they would use your product and what kind of real-life problems it would solve. It’s one thing to hear about searching and restoring documents. It’s another thing to hear about an important sales presentation that was accidentally deleted and needs to be recovered for a meeting in the next 10 minutes. When you give people a story about why your product is valuable you let them build their own stories about why they need your solution.
4. Show AND Tell
It’s important during a demo to not only show what your product can do but also why it does that. Framing your demo in the context of a story can help, but make sure whenever you show off a feature make sure that you talk about the attached benefit. That way, “We can offer a local export of your Google Apps data” becomes “When a user leaves your domain you don’t have to pay for the Google Apps license to keep the data.” “You can search through your backups” becomes “You don’t have to spend hours navigating through all of your documents, you can search and restore the document in a few minutes.” Prospects want to understand not only what your product does but also how it can help them. Remember: You’re providing a solution to a problem, prospects want to know HOW you’re going solve that problem.
5. Make every demo feel like your third demo
Your first demo is always shaky because you’re new to the process. The second one is better but you’re still working out the kinks. The third demo is where you nail it. Not only do you have all the kinks worked out but you’re so excited because it’s new and fun and you’re killing it in front of a real live prospect. Make every demo feel like that. Prospects want to know you’re enthusiastic about your product. One of the reasons I love working at Backupify is because it’s a great product, I’m excited about using it every time I do a demo. Enthusiasm is infectious; if you show that you love your product it’s a lot easier to explain to your prospects why they should love it too. Be excited about your demo, change things you don’t feel are working and be conscious of the parts you really enjoy. Remember: there are no small parts, only small salespeople.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The best things that happened during the Boston Marathon

1. The sign that said "Go Dad?"

2. Walking to the starting line there was a group of guys with a sign that said "Cigarettes, Donuts and Beer." Everyone ignored them but I asked for a beer, chugged half of it and then walked with a distinct swagger to the start. I overheard a runner behind me mutter "That guy walks like he owns this city"

3. A family had camped out on the route and the Mom just pointed at me and yelled "GO RYAN!" so I yelled back "YOU RULE!" and then she yelled "YOU RULE!" and then I yelled "WE RULE!" then a woman running in front of me asked if she ruled and I said she did.

4. Turning onto Comm Ave and feeling dead and seeing my best friends Pat and Casey with a sign that said "Harnedy How Are your Nipples?" I kinda freaked and felt AWESOME.

5. About halfway up Heartbreak Hill I heard a SURGE of cheering and thought "man, I must really be killing it!" I looked up and saw the Hoyts about 20 feet in front of me inspiring everyone to do everything they ever aspired to do.

6. Going underneath the bridge at mile 25 and seeing everyone start to walk. I wanted to walk more than ANYTHING in the world but I kept jogging. When I emerged from the tunnel I heard "YEAH RY!" and my folks were right at the end of the tunnel and I vividly remember thinking "Man think how bad it would look if I'd stopped there."

7. As I turned onto Boylston St. in my head all I could think of was the classic conversation between Coach Taylor and Matt Saracen before the last play of the last game of the first season

Coach Taylor: "You got 1 more in you?"
Matt: "I always got 1 more Coach."

8. Seeing my friend Bryan for the first time and the first thing he said was "Dude, you beat Tedy Bruschi!"

Thursday, April 17, 2014


(N) : A person who attempts to fill up extra space, pretend to be asleep, drool or take any action to discourage seatmates on public transit; similar to the way a pufferfish will enlarge itself with air to discourage predators.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

There's Another Kind of Hero By Bill Lyon, Philadelphia Inquirer, 1979.

A cold wind blew the golden leaves across the hard ground. They made a rasping sound, like a death rattle. It was a sound that matched his breathing. Harsh and grating and painful.
The sweat was frozen in crystal crusts at the end of his hair that flopped each time he took another stride and his feet fell heavily, jarringly, on the ground.
He wore sneakers that were tattered and shredded from the shrapnel of a thousand small pebbles over which he had run. His sweatpants were
gray. It was a color that matched his complexion.
His arms drooped with exhaustion, like the flowers bending to give way to winter, and his was a lost, hopeless cause. For the winner was already across the finish line, far ahead, out of sight. And the
other runners had long ago left him behind.
His legs screamed at him to stop. His lungs pleaded for rest. Even his socks seemed to fly at half-mast around his ankles, soiled flags of surrender.
In the autumn of our dreams, we are all quarterbacks. We are cunning and graceful and when we step into the huddle everyone bends forward eagerly and the crowd rises expectantly because it knows we will
deliver the bomb just as the clock blinks down to zero.
Ah, but that is in the autumn of our dreams, not the winter of our reality.
You want to know about reality? Then go watch the other autumn sport. It is called cross-country. Watch it and you will know what they mean when they speak of the loneliness of the long distance runner.
Cross-country runners don’t get scholarships. Or no-cut contracts. Or offers to endorse deodorant or panty hose or coffee or cars.
Cross-country runners get shin splints and blisters on their feet and runny noses and watery eyes. One thing more. They get a special kind of self-satisfaction that few of us are ever privileged to experience.
Oh, it is not from winning. It is merely from finishing, from ever going out there in the first place and running through puddles and briar patches and up hills and down hills and telling lies to your legs, and running on even when the others pass you, one-by-one, and geez, don’t they ever get tired, don’t they have a chest that’s on fire, don’t they ever get the dry heaves, and who cares anyway because there’s no crowd, no cheerleaders, just hard ground and ugly ol’ trees with no leaves and some guy driving by in a car, honking his horn and grinning like an idiot, and oh God why don’t I just slow down and walk for a little ways? That, friends, is reality.
Oh, us silly damn sports writers, we get all caught up in downs-and-outs and slam-dunks and power-play goals and a frost-bitten World Series ... So we tend to dismiss things like cross-country as “minor” sports, and besides, who the hell knows how to read a stopwatch past the 4-minute mark anyway?
So in our jock fantasies, the hero is the guy who scores the winning touchdown. But that is not reality. Reality is the kid you’ll see when you’re driving through a park or past a golf course, the kid with the stocking cap and the sweat-stained sneakers, loping along way behind the field, his eyes rolling wildly, this hypnotic trance of pain and puzzlement contorting his face.
Maybe he will not be able to put into words exactly why he runs. Maybe he will mention something about “gutting it out” or pushing through the pain barrier or running on because he has this curiosity that drives him to discover just how much he is capable of… or not capable of. That can be the harshest kind of reality and anyone who is willing to confront it, then he is, in the truest, purest sense, an athlete.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sidewalks Saved Me

So I used to be really fat

Like seriously...fat. Not healthy (newly fat) not dumpy (fat but still shopping at the Gap) or husky (fat but you're talking to your Mom). 

At one point in college I was 240lbs. For those playing the home game that is 4 Golden Retrievers, 2 Horse jockeys or half a rhinoceros (or a quarter depending on the rhino).

Picture for illustration (tragically the hair was on purpose) :

Being unhealthy super sucks. I'm not talking about being big or having a large build I'm talking about eating 3 sandwiches for lunch, consuming Mountain Dew instead of water and counting walking up the escalator as "earning your dinner" (which was also 3 sandwiches but with a sundae because hey, treat yourself). 

So the summer after my junior year I decided to do something about it. I started to run. ok...jog...ok run a little and then walk most of the way. Then more running...followed by walking. Basically I would run as far as I could go and then walk back. I carried this little strategy throughout senior year, after graduation and into unemployment (It was 2007...recession...Gov know...)

Sidewalks saved me. Running and walking not only helped me get my weight under control but it kept me sane during those AWFUL months after graduation where you're sending out resumes for jobs you'll never get. I couldn't control that 200 people also applied for that temp admin job, I could control that every day I got outside and exercised. 

So when I learned that there was a charity that's looking to improve the way Bostonians used sidewalks I jumped at the chance to run the Boston marathon for them. WalkBoston seeks to improve Boston for walking and running. They help fix sidewalks, organize walks and runs and encourage people to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle: the step that gets them out of the house.

I'm running the Boston Marathon for WalkBoston and am raising money to help make Boston, and the entire state of Massachusetts a better place to walk and a better place to run. I'd really appreciate it if you could donate to my campaign:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rules of Fight Club: Ranked

1. You DO NOT talk about Fight Club (2nd Rule)

2. If this is your first night at Fight Club you have to fight (8th Rule)

3. You do not talk about Fight Club (1st Rule)

4. Fights will go on as long as they have to (7th Rule)

5. If someone yells "stop" or goes limp, taps out, the fight is over (3rd Rule)

6. Only two guys to a fight (4th Rule)

7. One fight at a time (5th Rule)

8. No shirt, no shoes (6th rule)