Archive for July, 2006

Easter Basket

Monday, July 31st, 2006

(please, please do not tell my wife about this post)

It’s summertime and the kids often play in the basement where it’s cool. A favorite game of theirs is to dig out some Easter baskets with the fake straw, drop in their beany babies and act out stories.

So my princess bride, Wendy is down there cleaning up after the kids. I have accompanied her to watch. She reaches into an Easter basket to grab a small stuffed animal. As her hands close on the beany baby, she freezes, peers closely and begins screaming.

She screams her way up the stairs, one hand holding the basket, the other held out and away from her.

I’m moderately intrigued by this display and follow her up. I’ve never heard Wendy scream before. She’s won state tennis championships in high school and one of the reasons we get along so well is that her tough, athlete’s mentality is perfect to deal with me and my need or desire to play basketball every day of the week.

At the kitchen sink she is furiously washing her hands while doing those fast birth breathing exercises which come in handy except when you forget to do them during the actual birth.

There was no beany baby in the basket.

It was a dead mouse. Been dead a while actually.

It was covered in maggots.

Would you have screamed, too?

What part of your sales life is dying?

All the components of great selling are needed for longevity in sales.

What needs help or healing?

Lead generation, opening statements, followup, voicemail skills, closing?

Take the time to look at all the elements of your selling life. Find an area on which you need to build strength and begin the healing process.

Nobody buys from a maggot-covered rep.

Statistics (you’ve got to be kidding)

Friday, July 28th, 2006

On Thursday, July 20th, 2006 Chicago White Sox baseball player Jose Contreras became the first pitcher to lose back-to-back games – after winning 17 games – in 68 years.

Baseball must be the ultimate nerd’s sport with statistics to spout on every imaginable part of the game.

How about this one? Does someone track the locations of foul balls by stadiums and teams, in order to determine where best to sit and catch one? If you have that somewhere, please let me know.

So what do you track in sales?

Number of phone calls (total calls, times through to decision-maker, literature requests, appointments)?

Face-to-face meetings (closes, next steps, which of these jokers hides behind voicemail after promising to re-connect)?

Average contacts to a close?

Best lists to generate business?

Your numbers tracking can go on forever, but you do want to know your numbers, at least on some level.

What data is most important to you and how can you tweak it to get better results?

Not enough leads, better contact list needed.

Not enough times past the gatekeeper to the decision-maker, better motivational language needed.

Not enough money to take home, all of the above needed, and more.

What should you be tracking?

Ditching Your Cell Phone Contract

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

Many folks don’t realize that they can drop their cell phone contract without paying a termination fee, which typically runs as much as $150 to $200 per line. All they have to do is find someone willing to take the contract over for its remaining term.

The good news is networking can work for you outside your sales life.

Are you asking for help in all areas of your existence – not just leads to close?

People feel valued when you request help or opinions as you seek your own solutions.

Make a list of things that need fixing and start to find people resources that can give you solutions to those areas where your shortcomings exist.

Hiring Humor

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

“I hear the bank is looking for a cashier.”

“Thought they just hired one a week ago.”

“They did. He’s the one they’re looking for.”

Do you know how hard and how many prospects are looking for your solutions?

How vigorously do you work to have potential customers be on the hunt for you?

Give ’em all a reason to track you down, just make sure they’re not coming with pitchforks and hanging ropes.

Escaping The Rip Tide

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

From a mentor and friend, Alan Weiss, who I describe as BEYOND BRILLIANT. You can read about Alan and see some great articles at

One morning I walked into my office and, in the next hour: lost my email connections, ran out of copier paper, ran low on toner in my printer, had a fax jam, ran out of money in the postage meter, spilled juice on my checkbook, and cut myself trying to fix my stapler.

I decided to leave, and went for coffee with the dogs.

There is an often-fatal beach phenomenon called a rip tide. It’s a narrow, violent undertow which drags people out to sea. If you swim against it, back toward the beach, you are quickly exhausted and perish.

However, you can escape the rip tide. Since they are very narrow, if you swim ten or twenty yards parallel to the beach for 20 yards or so, you will find yourself in calm water again. It’s counterintuitive, but it works.

If I had stayed in my office that morning, I’m sure the computer would have crashed or the roof would have collapsed. I was in a rip tide, probably enhanced by my own anger as one infuriating problem influenced me to act more hastily and ill-informed with the next (swimming against the tide).

So, I swam out, to the side, to calmer water, with a pleasant experience. I could have “drowned,” but I chose not to.

We all encounter personal and professional rip tides. It may be the fates, or bad luck, or others’ doing, but it’s usually simply an accidental confluence of unfortunate events which we, advertently or inadvertently, create and/or exacerbate.

(We all know how effective it is to throw something when we’re angry. It helps nothing and creates new problems. This is also the case when we “throw” words when we’re angry.)

There are clearly times when discretion is the better part of valor. We need to move away, to turn the page, to start something else. It is not a positive commentary on your courage, intelligence, or confidence to refuse to walk away from continuing disaster, nor is it a negative one to realize that you’re losing a battle and you don’t want to lose a war. I don’t know about you, but after a string of bad luck or bad decisions, the last thing I want to do is talk to an important client or make a key investment determination.

The vicissitudes of life are such that we’re all due for “runs” of positives and negatives, though they are more often judiciously mixed together. Those who visit casinos and have the benighted belief that they can create more runs of positives than anything else are due for inevitable failure, for we all know that the house never loses in the long run. There’s nothing wrong with attempting to exploit a positive run (it’s called “playing with house money”) and there’s nothing wrong with walking away from a negative run (it’s called “prudence”).

There’s no reason to elevate your stress level and blood pressure when the alternative of walking away exists. And for most of us, in most instances, it does exist.

So the next time you feel yourself being figuratively dragged out to sea, swim to the side, get back to the beach, and stay out of the water for a while. Read a good book or just relax in the sun.

All rip tides disappear eventually, usually sooner than later. Then it’s safe to go back into the water.

#1 Worst Technology of 2006, 2nd Quarter

Friday, July 21st, 2006

Worst new sport: Segway polo

Hmm, if only there were a way to combine the dorkiness of riding a Segway with the snobbery of a polo match. It seems Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak’s next venture is to popularize the game of Segway polo, once he’s done finding ways of cheating in it and forcing them to rewrite the rules every week. When Woz isn’t busy annoying everyone on the Segway polo grounds with “tactics” such as throwing his mallet and clubbing shots over their heads, he’s busy braining passersby with errant shots. See all this and more in our incredibly uncomfortable video. (

Complete Top Ten List

Okay sales professionals and entrepreneurs – what kind of dumb activity are you putting time into? What do you need to delete from your selling activities?

Surprise tip: It doesn’t matter whether the activity is fruitful! It just has to be something you hate to do or do poorly. So you can delegate or hire or outsource the activity and focus on what you enjoy or do best.

Take time to take some of your work off your weekly activity list – you’ll make more money and have more fun doing it.

Turning a Paper Clip into House

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

Blogger starts with paper clip, ends with house
The Associated Press

Taking a paper clip and turning it into a house sounds like a cheesy magic trick or a phony instance of resourcefulness on the 1980s TV show MacGyver.

One year ago, Kyle MacDonald, a 26-year-old blogger from Montreal, Canada, set out to barter one red paper clip for something and that thing for something else, over and over again until he had a house.

Last week the quest is ending as envisioned: MacDonald is due to become the proud owner of a three-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot home provided by the town of Kipling, Saskatchewan. MacDonald and his girlfriend, Dominique Dupuis, expect to move there in early September.

It’s a great story.

Roaming Canada and the United States, he exchanged the pen for a ceramic knob, and in turn: a camping stove, a generator, a beer keg and Budweiser sign, a snowmobile, a trip to the Canadian Rockies, a supply truck and a recording contract. Next, in April, he got himself really close, obtaining a year’s rent in Phoenix.

His adventure became an Internet blockbuster. He did Canadian and Japanese TV and Good Morning America.

Here’s your selling thought that springs from Kyle’s story.

How well do you use leverage?

Are you leveraging your sales experiences, good and bad, into powerful knowledge that improves your prosepct interactions?

Or do you get surprised, over and over again, by the same objections?

Smart businesspeople get mad enough at mistakes that they decide to avoid them in the future. You leverage these negative outcomes into success by asking others sales pros what to do, or you read books or listen to audio recordings.

You must move beyond your current skill level or you will find yourself stuck on the plateau of mediocrity.

And from there you might as well just throw yourself off that plateau – before your employer or marketplace does it for you.

So how can you leverage your one cent paperclip of experience into a $50,000 house of fortune?

Forgetting the Tooth Fairy

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006
Abbie, one of the twins, finally lost her first tooth. At bedtime she was so excited to know that her head rested atop an income source. That tooth fairy was going to lay some money on her, come morning. Now anyone who’s been a parent knows that there are some things you just can’t get training for. For example, no parenting book I’ve ever read covers handling the tooth fairy.So Wendy and I go to bed and, being spectacular parents (the kind you’d see in a zoo for parents or the ones aliens would select as samples) we forget about Abbie’s tooth.

And are awakened by a crying kid. “The tooth fairy forgot me.”

We’re horrified and I mumble something about the 2006 census revealing an influx of six-year olds who are losing their teeth in the spring. “Honey, we’re positive the tooth fairy will be here tonight.”

Later that day we bump into Laurie, a friend with kids the same age. We confess that we’re such horrible parents, and if they now landed in our backyard, aliens would probably ignore us.

Laurie says, “I got you beat. When Chase, our son, lost his first tooth, we forgot to put money under the pillow. He came into our room bawling and I told him to go to the bathroom and clean up while I checked myself. As he sniffled his way in to wash up, I dove into my purse – and could only find a twenty dollar bill. Oh well, it went right under his pillow. Chase was deliriously happy. But all the parents at school now hate my guts.”

What or who have you forgotten in your sales life?

Is it a former mentor or manager who gave you a start in the business?

Is it the simple act of showing gratitude to clients who feed your family or support staff who keep you effective?

Remember today who you’ve forgotten and show them how much you appreciate them.

Whiskey, Religion and Sales

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

After visiting Ireland and Scotland last year, a couple got into a debate with another pair as to which whiskey was stronger, Scotch or Irish. One explained why he was so sure Irish was stronger; “My wife and I drank a quart of it one night and got up the next morning and went to six o’clock Mass.”

A challenger demanded just what that proved.

The man explained, “We’re both Methodists.”

What do you believe strongly about your product or service?

And, about what are you unconvinced?

Your heart and head are constantly sending you messages about your personal product beliefs – the price is too high, customers are too tough, the economy is rough.

If you’re unsure of the quality of your offerings, it could be too easy for you to “switch religions.” That is, you move on to another job or industry, rather than get great at what you’re selling today.

Your beliefs form the baseline of your performance.

Be positive and stay strong and you’ll find plenty of prospects with money for you.

You gotta believe that – or selling could drive you to drink.

Apricot Festival & Failed Sales

Monday, July 17th, 2006

Little Mr. Apricot Flips Off Crowd, Loses Title

(CBS 13) PATTERSON, Calif. A big brouhaha in Stanislaus County as a pageant winner in Patterson is stripped of his crown.

Last month at the Apricot festival, the newly-crowned Little Mr. Apricot, 4-year old Matthew Burgos, raised his middle finger to the crowd!

Matthew was then unceremoniously relieved of his crown.

Matthew’s mom understands why the apricot board took Matthew’s title, but wishes some townsfolk would just get over it.

“I think it is ridiculous, I mean he’s four years old,” she says.

First runner-up Michael Montiel will now assume the role of Little Mr. Apricot. Matthew doesn’t even know he’s been stripped of the title. His mom and dad say he likely wouldn’t understand, anyway.

Okay, sales pros – here’s a fascinating lesson on this strange event. It comes from my brother, Dave, who is a principal at a private school in California. His comment is an indictment on poor parenting and we’ll see how it can be reflected in our sales interactions…

“The apricot kid has a number of different angles. The one I think of is what in education is called the ‘hidden curriculum.’ That pertains to what you teach unintentionally – what habits and/or lessons are you teaching others without thinking about it? It seems there are some parenting / training issues here.”

Are you aware of all the messages you send your prospects?

Perhaps you make poor eye contact and therefore don’t exhibit confidence and truthfulness.

Perhaps your dress or personal appearance (hair, makeup, etc.) is a bit sloppy and you come across as unprofesssional.

Perhaps your language reflects a lack of belief in your product or ability to sell (more on this in a later post, but an example might be a phrase like “IF you become a customer…” when it should be better stated “WHEN you become…”

Attend to your hidden curriculum, you’ll teach your marketplace that you’re the best choice in an apricot orchard of competing companies.