Sunday, August 10, 2008

New Blog Destination -

Dear readers,

When I started this blog in January, I never expected to gain such a large readership so quickly. It was now time to move my blog to a more permanent destination. I am in the process of improving the new home for this blog at:

It may take a few more days to get it to work perfectly, and in the meantime I will appreciate your feedback. I migrated all the content, so please update your bookmarks and Feed Readers to point to this new location.

Many thanks,


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Offshoring SPM - Communication Challenges

One of the most important challenges in leverage an offshore team for an IT implementation is to communicate effectively. If this is not taken seriously, all the efforts surrounding making the offshore strategy successful could be wasted.

Communication can be difficult because:

The offshore team is often in a different time zone. Meetings are often very early in the morning, or very late at night (often both).

  • Meetings are usually virtual - often onshore and offshore team members never meet.

  • The onshore and offshore team don't always share the same first language. Even in a situation where they share the same first language, accents can be a problem. (Although it can also be a problem between onshore resources). I think people get used to by French-Canadian accent fairly quickly, but it took me a long time to get use to the Indian accent. Expressions also vary from country to country.

  • There can be cultural differences leading in communication failure.
Cultural Differences
Erran Carmel and Paul Tjia wrote a great book called "Offshoring Information Technology - Sourcing and Outsourcing to a Global Workforce" in which they list examples of such communication failures with Indian offshore teams. Among their observations, they say that Indians are less likely to engage in small talk than most of their Western counterparts and that they tend to be too optimistic about times and schedules (referred to as the "Indian factor"). Indians are also reluctant to say "no"; they may say "yes" even when they mean "no" to avoid having to give bad news.

Their book also lists many expressions used in English which can be interpreted in a bad way by an offshore team. For example, when an English speaker says "Not bad", he means the work is good; the offshore resource could interpret that as the work being of poor quality. Another example is when an English speaker says "Interesting!", it can mean he or she does not agree or believe what the other person is saying; this could be understood as "they are impressed" by the offshore resource.

Improving Communication
  • Avoid slang, idioms and acronyms, and speak slowly. Ensure your message is well understood
  • When giving a task, ask probing question to ensure the task is well understand.
  • Keep written communication short
  • "Offshoring Information Technology" mentions six "R" rules: Repeat, Reduce, Rephrase, Reiterate, Review and Recap.
  • Have regular meetings (usually daily)
  • Use collaborative tools such as Wiki's when possible
  • Be patient - you may have problems understanding them and vice-versa, but treating each other with respect is they key to develop a solid working relationship.
  • Read more about the cultural differences with the country in which the offshore team is located.
  • If the project is big enough and the offshore contribution significant enough, it may be worth it to meet the offshore team in person. This should create stronger bonds between the onshore and offshore team.
  • If most of the meetings are held over the phone (video conferencing not available), sharing pictures of the team members can also help out in creating bonds.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Makana Motivator for Free!

I talked about Makana Solutions' product - Motivator - before. Makana offers a solution to build really good compensation plans and help you out in the process every step of the way.

The usual cost for Makana Motivator is $49 per month for up to 20 participants, $69 for 21 to 100 participants, and $149 for more than 100 participants. A yearly subscription will even cut that cost by 2 months.

Game Plan
Makana just launched a new program called "Game Plan". Game Plan is a free program to help out with your 2009 Sales Compensation planning. It offers a free year's subscription to Makana Motivator and strategic advice with sales compensation experts.

The catch? You have to take a training in July or August to receive your free one year subscription. That probably doesn't sound too bad, so there is no reason why you shouldn't check it out.

Note: Makana didn't ask me to promote this "deal". I don't usually promote any Sales Performance solution, but... it's free!

Webinar Galore - 2 SPM Webinars Tomorrow

I will try to provide coverage on this blog for these 2 webinars taking place tomorrow. The webinar hosted by Callidus features an Accenture partner discussing the insurance industry, and the Xactly webinar features Jeff Kaplan discussing on-demand sales performance analytics. Follow the links to register.

Callidus 7/29 @ 9A CST - Best Practices from Accenture - Align producer and advisor behavior, maximize mindshare - and effectively manage compensation

Learn about insurance industry best practices from Jon Walheim - Accenture Partner - North America Insurance Marketing, Sales, and Service Lead. You’ll learn about key trends in the insurance industry, challenges that organizations are facing, and what insurance leaders are doing to gain competitive advantage.

Xactly 7/29 @ noon CST - The Business Case for On-Demand Sales Performance Management Analytics

In this Webinar, Xactly’s Karen Steele and THINKStrategies’ Jeff Kaplan will discuss how post-sales analytics can provide new and strategic insight into an organization’s selling patterns, commission spend, product performance, sales rep and team performance, and sales plan effectiveness. They will examine how post-sales data – traditionally scattered across a variety of disparate systems including ERP, HR, and Payroll – can be now be integrated and analyzed with an eye towards enhancing business strategies, changing sales rep behaviors, and super-charging sales organizations.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Topgrading for Sales Book Review

The Topgrading team sent me a copy of their newest book “Topgrading for Sales” to review. The book focuses on recruitment, an area in which I have very little experience. However, I think the book is relevant to this blog; incentive compensation is one way to increase your workforce performance, but at the root, it is important to hire top sales representatives.

When I first picked up the book, my first thought was - wow, this book is only 57 pages, 113 pages counting the appendix. However, when I opened the book I quickly realize that while it is small in size, it is heavy in content.

Topgrading for Sales promotes the Topgrading philosophy, to only hire “A Players” A definition of top performers and an explanation of the general concept is provided in the first chapter, and the following chapters detail methods to interview, hire and coach top sales reps. The appendix includes practical templates to topgrade your sales force.

Here is a quick summary of the proposed steps to increase hiring success:

  • Construct a sales rep score card to know which skills and attributes are required (what needs to be done)
  • Analyse your sales team and determine what your top performers have in common, as well as what your bottom performers have in common.
  • Create a list of prospects
  • Ask good phone screening questions (many good examples are provided in the book)
  • Screen finalist candidates rigorously
  • Perform a reference check after the interview and contact all supervisors in the past 10 years
  • Coach your sales reps regularly

This book is extremely practical. It provides many great tools and ideas to hire top sales representatives and the general concept can be taken beyond the “sales world”.

However if you don’t have prior experience in recruitment, other books will be required to build a solid foundation in some of the many areas touched by this book such as interviewing and coaching.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New web forum for the EIM Community - Get your Answers Now!

Today I came across a web forum called "Ask Jon!" by OpenSymmetry. It's a great knowledge exchange platform where anyone can submit questions and answers.

Most posts are currently related to Callidus TrueComp, but there are new categories to discuss solutions by many other SPM vendors such as nGenera, Oracle, Practique & Merced, Sungard, Varicent, Xactly, etc.

Such forums are only as good as the content being posted, so I encourage everyone to visit and contribute in making this forum a one-stop shop for Sales Performance related information.

Of course my blog is still THE number one source of SPM information, but I may not [always] be able to answer all your questions, about every product on the market.

Don't wait, go have a look and sign-up.

Monday, July 21, 2008

SPM Analytics Webinar Tomorrow, 1PM Central

Remember to join the free Webinar: 5 Best Practices with Analyzing Sales Performance, hosted by OpenSymmetry and presented by Greg Livengood.

When? Tuesday, July 22nd 1pm (Central).

Find out more about the presenter here.

Register here.

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About Me

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Julien Dionne is a well-rounded consultant with global business management experience and outstanding technical, business and leadership skills. He earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Software Engineering from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and he is a member of the Canadian Professional Sales Association. The views posted within this blog do not reflect the views of Julien’s current or previous employers and clients. Julien can be reached at