The Heat Is On

Murray Pratt Blog, Business Insights, Humor, Life

 

My eyes opened to a small sliver of light that seemed to know perfectly how to align with my sleepy eyes this early Fall – but really still feels like Summer – morning, here on the coast.

And as I rolled over I could feel the anxiety build up again in my chest: What am I going to blog about again today?

What significant insight could I offer to the people who are interested in our little, but fast-growing transportation management software company.

What to do?

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We were in our meeting last week and we were discussing the way our sales were tracking this month. During the meeting we also talked about one of our potential suppliers. They were applying pressure for us to decide earlier than we were comfortable with, and as a result were in danger of us going elsewhere.

Someone said, “It must be the end of their quarter.”

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As I stepped out of the shower and let the water cool me on this unusually hot morning, I was still hoping I would come up with some cool idea for a blog this morning. As I dried off and brushed my hair, there still wasn’t even the modicum of an idea.

Brushed my clenched teeth – prying my mouth open to get to the back molars.

Hmm? I haven’t got the faintest idea what to write about.

And I already did a ‘nothing’ blog before.

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As I left the meeting I remember thinking to myself just how much of our so called ‘market dynamics’ are a function of the stories and tales spun by the people who sell the product.

I mentioned to a colleague the story of the mythical ‘Santa Claus Rally’ that was lore on Wall Street for years. It left the average joe amazed at the whimsy and roller coaster nature of our financial markets, when really it was a function of the fund managers making very low volume trades on December 31st to top up the prices of their fund units, generate better annual yield numbers – and, hence, get their bonus.

Alas, the Santa Claus rally had more to do with the goals of those who wrapped their funds in metaphors in Santa’s workshop than those kids who opened their fund statements on Christmas morning.

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I pulled out of the driveway, rolling slowly down the street, past a murder of crows that had not only disassembled some neighbour’s garbage but had literally murdered it – okay, metaphorically murdered it, but no one knows how to distinguish between the two modifiers anyways.

Perhaps I should have stopped to clean it up, but I was wearing my white summer leisure pants, and was all but catatonic as I still didn’t have a topic.

It’s Monday morning and by golly I better have my blog all figured out by the time I arrive at 8am or Brad, our groovy-socked marketer, is going to give me one of those looks…you know the look…

‘Huh? No blog this morning’. And he will just turn around and go over to heap some weird naturally organic healthy non-dairy cream on a plate of his strawberries, kiwi, and blueberries while I sip my coffee and eat my candied donut.

And still the knot in my stomach was building…

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So, a lot of sales activity in business is driven by Wall Street, driven by the capital markets and their desire to hit some goals and objectives so that the President and CEO of a business can conduct a conference call without getting crucified by some investment analyst.

‘So, Mr. Clean, you said that you would have all the floors cleaned and sparkly by the end of the month, but it appears there was a spill over in the corner that has stained the kitchen floor’

‘But its February and there are only 28 days in it….and if you gave me 31 like in January, March, July, August, October and December I would ….

‘Are you expecting a Santa Claus floor rally in December?’

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As I turned off 17A – or 17eh? here in Canada – onto Highway 99 and rolled down the highway to the US border I looked to my right to see the 6-foot-high sand dune stretching for miles – preparation for a bridge soon, or perhaps never, to be built – a big and necessary (in my opinion) piece of infrastructure that our provincial transportation minister is considering now. Apparently, the technical report has been submitted as the Transportation minister of our new government she is wanting the summer to review it. I certainly hope she and their marketing spin team have their yellow highlighters at the ready.

No deadline in sight!

I hope she never has to do a blog though.

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At the end of the day I was very happy that I worked for Tailwind Transportation Software. We endeavour to run a business that is more customer-centric, that tries to make its systems and processes work around the way in which a customer wants to buy.

And that isn’t always easy. But in the day and age of the Internet, the free flow of information, the realization that competition is always but a click away, we decided that it’s better to be transparent and open – to put the decision in the hands of our customers so they can decide if it’s right for them.

That is the reason we offer a free trial AND provide our customers with the full capability of our services. We want them to know what it feels like to be a customer.

And it’s the reason we post our pricing. That way we get rid of the ‘elephant in the room’ and have a clearer, more direct dialogue – rather than wasting somebody’s time with some long drawn out needs assessment process, that is often driven more by the seller’s need to find a way to spin value about their solution than it is to get things done – to get going.

We just feel that we’re long past the days of the ‘twist the arm’ salesperson, who knows that second place means you get steak knives, that come hell or high water, you must hit your sales quota.

It means the timing of sales in a TMS business is not unnecessarily skewed to the end of the month or end of the year. That represents the ‘push dynamic’ of selling – trying to wedge a square peg into a round hole at 11:59pm on December 31st, so that the company can hit a goal for some hedge fund manager phone call.

We just felt that that wasn’t any way to run a transportation software management business.

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And as I pulled in to the parking lot, got out of the car, and headed to the coffee shop, it hit me like a bucket full of sand!

By golly, I now had a topic – a real bona fide topic for my blog. Not some stupid made-up, cheesy piece cobbled together at the last minute, just so I wouldn’t let Brad the groovy-socks marketer down. But something meaty – okay veggie for Brad – and of substance.

Oh boy… I can’t wait to write it!!!

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